2018 Book #71 – Maybe For You by Nicole McLaughlin

51cPfPQkVPL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Maybe For You
Author: Nicole McLaughlin
Date finished: 8/16/18
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: #3 in Whiskey and Weddings series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

She’s never had a no-strings fling. He’s never had anything else. But maybe this time will be an exception?

After a year of mourning her fiancé, Alexis Parker has worked hard to rediscover what she wants out of life. Fresh out of the military and back stateside, her brother offers her a marketing job at the Stag Distillery. Ready for a new challenge, Alexis agrees to accompany her new co-worker Jake Cooper on a Stag cross-country promotional tour. He may have an infamous playboy reputation, but Alexis is surprised to find out that there is more to him than meets the eye. And she likes what she sees. . .

Jake promised Alexis’s brother that he’d be an absolute gentleman. Of course, that was before he and Alexis hit the road, and they both agree that what Alexis’s big brother doesn’t know won’t hurt him. The plan: to keep their fling confined to the RV, and everything will go back to normal once they head home. Things progress in ways neither of them could have imagined, and Jake realizes that he and Alexis make a perfect mix. Can he convince her that he’s ready to shake things up and give true love a shot in Maybe for You?

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I finished this book for ARC August 2018! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because as part of the challenge they added one of my favorite things, reading Bingo! This book will be checking off my “Friends to Lovers” box, since that was kind of the point of the story.

I am glad that I got to read Alex’s story after being introduced to her in the last book in the series. Alex had a rough journey in life, and I thought that the author actually did a really great job of detailing what it feels like to have to fall in love again after losing a loved one. The grief and guilt that Alex had to work through was tough and though I’ve never gone through that, it seemed really true to what anyone would feel in that situation. That being said, it did get a little repetitive, Alex had a lot of trouble with her feelings of guilt and the reader is presented with some of her journal entries and she tended to talk about the same things. I did like the book though, it was a really sweet story and I like Jake’s character a lot. I thought Alex was kind of rude to him though, and I felt like some of their relationship issues that were presented early on were kind of glossed over and never resolved. Overall though this was a quick read and was a pretty solid romance. There were some exciting plot developments and I was interested to keep reading and follow Alex and Jake’s story through to the end.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #50 – Perfectly Undone by Jamie Raintree

510TX2YTB7L._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Perfectly Undone
Author: Jamie Raintree
Date finished: 6/21/18
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Graydon House
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Pages in book: 278
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Yes is such a little word…

Dr. Dylan Michels has worked hard for a perfect life, so when her longtime boyfriend, Cooper, gets down on one knee, it should be the most perfect moment of all. Then why does she say no?

For too many years, Dylan’s been living for her sister, who never got the chance to grow up. But her attempt to be the perfect daughter, perfect partner and perfect doctor hasn’t been enough to silence the haunting guilt Dylan feels over her sister’s death—and the role no one knows she played in it.

Now Dylan must face her past if she and Cooper stand a chance at a future together. But when Cooper makes a startling confession of his own, can Dylan find the courage to define her own happiness before her life becomes perfectly undone?

Set among the breezy days of a sultry Portland summer, Perfectly Undone is a deeply moving novel of family secrets, forgiveness and finding yourself in the most surprising of places.

Sometimes you have to lose your way to find yourself

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. To be honest I’m not 100% sure where I had won it from. It kind of just showed up in my mail last year, but I’m never one to turn away a free book!

The main character in this story, Dylan, was a pretty flawed character. This is something that I struggle with in various novels, while it is reality that a main character will have flaws its hard for me to connect with a character who has deep flaws that hurt those around them. Dylan was unending-ly selfish and self-centered, wrapped up in her own pain to the point that she self-destroys her relationship with her mother, boyfriend and various others. And while the ending was fairly hopeful, overall the story is just such  sad, depressing, painful journey for Dylan and those around her that it was hard to get through. I was in a funk the whole time I was reading it. While that means that the author did a great hob of being able to influence my emotions from the text, it just wasn’t an emotion that I necessarily wanted at the time. While this wasn’t my favorite book, I thought it was well written and I think it would be a book that many would enjoy, I would still recommend it.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #35 – The Young Widower’s Handbook by Tom McAllister

51kxyLgkYMLTitle: The Young Widower’s Handbook
Author: Tom McAllister
Date finished: 4/19/17
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Pages in book: 282
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: LibraryThing NOTE: I received this book for free from LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

For Hunter Cady, meeting Kaitlyn is the greatest thing that has ever happened to him. Whereas he had spent most of his days accomplishing very little, now his life has a purpose. Smart, funny, and one of a kind, Kait is somehow charmed by Hunter’s awkwardness and droll humor, and her love gives him reason to want to be a better man.
And then, suddenly, Kait is gone, her death as unexpected as the happiness she had brought to Hunter. Numb with grief, he stumbles forward in the only way he knows how: by running away. He heads due west from his Philadelphia home, taking Kait’s ashes with him.
Kait and Hunter had always meant to travel. Now, with no real plan in mind, Hunter is swept into the adventures of fellow travelers on the road, among them a renegade Renaissance Faire worker; a boisterous yet sympathetic troop of bachelorettes; a Midwest couple and Elvis, their pet parrot; and an older man on an endless cross-country journey in search of a wife who walked out on him many years before. Along the way readers get glimpses of Hunter and Kait’s lovely, flawed, and very real marriage, and the strength Hunter draws from it, even when contemplating a future without it. And each encounter, in its own peculiar way, teaches him what it means to be a husband and what it takes to be a man.
Written in the spirit of Jonathan Tropper and Matthew Quick, with poignant insight and wry humor, The Young Widower’s Handbook is a testament to the enduring power of love.

My rating:  3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Hunter Cody, whose wife dies suddenly and tragically at a very young age (I can’t remember exact age but it was 25-ish I think). Hunter has always been an oddball and an anti-social person, and Kait is the only one he felt has ever understood him and loved him for who he really is. He loves her immensely, and while their marriage has the same ups and downs of a normal marriage, they are truly happy together. When Kait dies suddenly, Hunter is grief stricken and lost. He decides to travel from Philidelphia to California with Kait’s ashes, trying to give Kait the vacation they had always talked about but never taken. Along the way he discovers some things he never knew about himself and he starts to learn how he will manage to continue to live after Kait.
Overall I didn’t end up being a huge fan of this book. I wanted to like this book SO BADLY!! It started out with such promise, and I have so many quotes (listed below) from the book that really spoke to me and that I really loved. The story line was just too repetitive for me and I just could not connect to Hunter’s character. At first I found the prose enchanting but in the end it was just too selfish/whiny/repetitive. I really wanted to love this book but I just couldn’t. I would still reommend it, I thought it had some really great commentary for married couples.

The bottom line: I wanted to like this book so much but it got to be too repetitive and whiny for me.

Favorite Quotes:
“Romance is temporary, predicated on countless variables working synchronously to create something memorable that vaguely recalls a scene from a familiar movie… Love, it’s this other thing, a thing that manifests itself in the most unremarkable moments.”

“It’s the arguments that breathed life into the relationship. It’s in the arguments that you ultimately felt the love.”

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #115 – Thirty Days to Thirty by Courtney Psak

51bx4uomm7l-_sx331_bo1204203200_Title: Thirty Days to Thirty
Author: Courtney Psak
Date finished: 12/3/16
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: CAMP Publishing
Publication Date: October 19, 2015
Pages in book: 228
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

What if you were on the cusp of marrying the guy of your dreams and reaching that career goal you set for yourself, only for all of it to be taken away in one fell swoop?
What if this all happened a month before you turned 30?
This is the story of Jill Stevens, who after moving back home, finds a list she made in high school of thirty things she wanted to accomplish before her thirtieth birthday.
With a month left and hardly anything crossed off her list, she teams up with old friends to accomplish as much as she can before the big 3-0. Along the way, she discovers her true self and realizes it’snot about the material successes in life but the journey.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Jill Stevens, a woman who loses her job and finds out her boyfriend (of 6 years) is cheating on her in the same night just about a month before her thirtieth birthday. Suddenly single, homeless, and jobless, she’s forced to move back in with her parents while she figures out what her next step is. While at home she finds an old high school writing assignment, 30 things to accomplish before she turns 30. She hasn’t accomplished more than a couple items from that list, and while re-establishing old relationships she decides that she will use the next month before her birthday to do as many of the additional items as she can. Along the way she finds out things about herself that she never knew and she decides that maybe losing her job and her boyfriend were two of the best things that could have happened to her.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. The story line was interesting and sweet. I liked seeing Jill’s character evolve during the book and her cast of supportive characters was hilarious. This book made me (literally) laugh out loud multiple times, you can’t help but laugh at how ridiculously awful Jill’s life is at certain points. She is surrounded by people who love her though and for that she realizes she is extremely lucky. This was a heart-warming story about one woman’s journey to self-discovery and happiness. I would definitely recommend if you’re looking for a good read!

The bottom line: This was a great, uplifting read. It was heart-warming and it was a quick read. I enjoyed this one a lot.

Link to author website

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2015 Book #102 – The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

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Title: The Little Paris Bookshop
Author: Nina George
Date finished: 9/26/15
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: June 23, 2015
Pages in book: 400
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.
After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.
Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people’s lives.

My rating: 2.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I’ve seen this book around a lot the past couple months, it was a very popular summer read and I have seen many positive reviews on it so I thought I should give it a try. To be honest I probably could have passed on by and been perfectly. While this book has been widely praised, I just could not get into the story myself. I found the book to be extremely wordy and the main character is a 50 year old man who has lived in self-induce purgatory for the past twenty years. I could not connect with him at all, I just found his character to be so martyr-ish. And the story line was hard to follow for me in some way. There were just a lot fo random things that happened that didn’t necessarily seem connected at all and in some cases didn’t even really make sense to me. There were some parts of the book that made me tear up, there were many emotions that came alive in the story and the reader can sense love in each page of the book, love between friends, that first love that is ever-consuming, and even love that lives only in one’s imagination. The books speaks eloquently of France along Jean Perdu’s journey south, of the food, the scenery, and the people. For anyone who would like to experience the beauty of France, this would be a great book to read!

The bottom line: I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to hear of the beauty of France. This book wasn’t a great one for me but is very popular with the general population.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #97 – The Show by John A. Heldt

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Title: The Show
Author: John A. Heldt
Date finished: 9/13/15
Genre: Fiction, Time travel
Publisher: John A. Heldt (Self-published)
Publication Date: February 17, 2013
Pages in book: 293
Stand alone or series: #3 in the Northwest Passage series
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Seattle, 1941. Grace Vandenberg, 21, is having a bad day. Minutes after Pearl Harbor is attacked, she learns that her boyfriend is a time traveler from 2000 who has abandoned her for a future he insists they cannot share. Determined to save their love, she follows him into the new century. But just when happiness is within her grasp, she accidentally enters a second time portal and exits in 1918. Distraught and heartbroken, Grace starts a new life in the age of Woodrow Wilson, silent movies, and the Spanish flu. She meets her parents as young, single adults and befriends a handsome, wounded Army captain just back from the war. In THE SHOW, the sequel to THE MINE, Grace finds love and friendship in the ashes of tragedy as she endures the trial of her life.

My rating: 2.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Grace Vandenberg. This book picks up a little before where The Mine left off since we here about Grace’s decision to travel to the year 2000 to be with Joel. After that everything goes smoothly for awhile, Grace and Joel marry and start a family. Unfortunately on their second wedding anniversary Grace is somehow transported from the year 2002 to 1918. Luckily she’s still in Seattle so she looks up her Uncle Alistair Green who takes her in but still Grace is lost in another time with no idea how to get back to her two young children and her husband.
Grace’s uncle takes her home to live with her and try to help her start over in this new world. Along the way Grace meets the Green’s neighbor John Walker, an injured war veteran who also has the look of loss about him. Grace finds herself drawn to John as she mourns the loss of her husband and her two daughters. And then when Grace’s mother Lucy comes to America as an 18-year old girl to begin her college education, Grace is presented with an opportunity that she never even thought to hope for.
**SPOILER ALERT**  There were a few issues that I had with this book. Grace ends up bringing her mother and father back to the future with her at the end so that they don’t end up dying in 1939, but she brings them to the future before they’re ever married. So how does she even still exist? At the end of this book her parents never actually had her so how is it possible that she exists?! I mean I know there are some complications involved in time travel and its consequences but its just too confusing. And honestly my big issue with this book was Grace. I understand that at some point she would have to stop mourning the loss of her husband and move on but after 4 months she’s already engaged to someone else? That seems just a little too quick for me. I mean I understand that continuing to hope that she would make it back to her own time would probably make her miserable and being miserable is no way to live but I can’t imagine giving up that easily over seeing my daughters again. For those reasons I just had a lot of trouble connecting to the story and I could not enjoy the plot line much at all. The story was interesting as was the first book but I enjoyed the first book a lot more than I enjoyed this one.

The bottom line: I did not end up liking this book as much as I liked The Mine. I am hoping that I like the third book (The Mirror) better but this book just was not one that I could get into.

Link to author website

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2015 Book #81 – The Guilty One by Sophie Littlefield

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Title: The Guilty One
Author: Sophie Littlefield
Date finished: 8/5/15
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: August 11, 2015
Pages in book: 304
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A man stands on the Golden Gate Bridge, poised to jump…if a woman on the other end of the phone tells him to.
Maris’s safe suburban world was shattered the day her daughter was found murdered, presumably at the hands of the young woman’s boyfriend. Her marriage crumbling, her routine shattered, Maris walks away from her pampered life as a Bay Area mom the day she receives a call from Ron, father of her daughter’s killer. Wracked with guilt over his son’s actions (and his own possible contribution to them), he asks Maris a single question: should he jump?
With a man’s life in her hands, Maris must decide, perhaps for the first time, what she truly wants. Retribution? Forgiveness? Or something more? Having lost everything, she’s finally free to recreate herself without the confining labels of “wife,” “mother,” or “mourner.” But will this shocking offer free her, or destroy her?

My rating: 4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for ARC August reading challenge, it is #3 on list from my sign up post. I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book is about Maris Parker, whose daughter was murdered a year ago. As if trying to wake up each day and live with that isn’t difficult enough, her daughter’s killer’s father (Ron Isherwood) then calls her and basically offers to kill himself in a very “eye for an eye” situation where he gives up his life since his son took her daughter’s life. Plus her husband is leaving her.
Maris’ reaction to this phone call sets her (unknowingly) on a new life course. While she had planned to leave for her sister’s condo that afternoon, Ron’s call leaves her feeling unsettled and not quite ready to face the outside world. The next day she goes to Oakland to pick up a gift for her sister and its there that she meets Petra, who will help her quite a lot in the coming days actually. She ends up tagging along with Petra’s group of friends and hides herself away in a rundown apartment building in Oakland. It is there she learns that there are other people in the world who are hurting as well, if maybe in different ways. It is also in Oakland that Maris begins to find out who she is now, without the husband she’s been married to for 20 years or the child she’s raised for the past seventeen years. Maris discovers who she is as her own person again, and makes a few good friends along the way.
Overall I really did enjoy this book. There were a couple really good plot twists, both of which I actually never saw coming, and I liked Maris and Ron as main characters, they both had a lot of layers to dig through. I felt that Maris really grew as a character throughout the story. We really learned with her how to cope with the grief of losing a child, how to pick yourself up off the ground and push yourself to keep living life each and every day.

The bottom line: I really liked this book, it had a couple good shocker moments thrown in there and I thought the story line was well-paced. I was interested throughout the story and both grieved for and felt compassion for Maris’ loss. Good book, would recommend other readers to give it a try!

Favorite Quotes:
“You don’t do all of those things without building up a reserve for moments like this. Moments when the weak ones fail, the battered ones give up, the broken ones cry out for someone to take their hand.”
“How do you go back up the family tree, scrambling up the doomed bloodline, and make things right?”
“Her daughter was with her in the morning, when she stepped out of her apartment as the sun was just beginning to rise up above the distant hills.”

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page