2018 Book #93 – A Christmas Date by Camilla Isley

Title: A Christmas Date
Author: Camilla Isley
Date finished: 12/9/18
Genre: Contemporary romance, romantic comedy
Publisher: Pink Bloom Press
Publication Date: October 25, 2018
Pages in book: 231
Stand alone or series: #3 in the First Comes Love 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:

No one wants to be single at the holidays.

Even Little Miss Grinch, Nikki, a successful and independent woman, must face her bachelorette status at the most horrible time of the year.

December is her personal version of holly-jolly hell: a merry torture made of couples kissing at every corner, forced vacation days, and an inescapable family reunion.

And when her baby sister announces she’s engaged—to Paul, the man Nikki is secretly in love with—and that he’s spending the holidays with them, Christmas starts looking bluer than ever.

Nikki can’t possibly survive an entire week trapped home as the family’s spinster. But she has no time to meet men or to try the newest dating app, she’s too busy working as a video producer for an advertising agency. 

So what’s a girl to do? 

Nikki has the perfect solution: to hire a fake boyfriend.

Luckily, her job gives her access to an endless catalog of gorgeous actors to choose from.

But Nikki will soon discover that keeping business and pleasure from mixing isn’t so easy, and that she might not be immune to a little mistletoe magic. Especially not when she picked out the perfect man as her Christmas date…

My rating: 4.0 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. 

So far I’ve read the other 2 books in this series and I have to say overall this is just a great series. The books are laugh out loud funny and short enough to hold your interest but long enough to still have a well developed story line. If you’re looking for a fairly quick but still engaging and fun read, these are the books for you! The characters in this book in particular were great – I liked Nikki a lot and I liked Diego a good amount as well. A lot of the characters in this book tended to be a little selfish, which isn’t necessarily my favorite thing, but it didn’t take too much away from my overall enjoyment of the book. I loved seeing the relationship develop between Diego and Nikki – the tension between their characters was really well done and the emotions in the story fairly leapt off the page. I really liked the book a lot and I would recommend it!

And the end of the Kindle book version included a preview for the author’s next novel. I don’t usually read previews but I did end up reading this one and it looked great! I really hope I get a chance to read it when it comes out!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #83 – Trouble Brewing by Suzanne Baltsar

51Yd9xWAcPLTitle: Trouble Brewing
Author: Suzanne Baltsar
Date finished: 10/11/18
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Pages in book: 320
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:

Piper Williams is used to being the only woman in a room full of men, but she isn’t used to being instantly drawn to someone she’s in business with.

After working long hours brewing in her garage, Piper is determined to prove herself—and to ignore the chemistry she has with Blake Reed, owner of Minnesota’s newest gastropub who is going to stock four of her brews. She wants her craft beer to stand on its own merits and knows that the tight-knit male-dominated brewer community will assume the worst if she starts anything with one of her vendors. No way she’ll risk everything she’s invested in her budding business on a guy who might not stick—no matter how charmingly handsome and funny he is, right?

And Blake has a conflict of his own—his haughty family wants him to ditch the gastropub and support his father’s political campaign. Well, that, and the fact that he knows Piper’s snark and sass is the perfect blend of crisp and refreshing for him. So Blake and Piper make a pact: she’ll go out with him if, and only if, two additional pubs start carrying her beer. Sticking to the pact proves harder than either of them expected—especially since the attraction is off the charts between quirky, independent Piper and smart, charming Blake.

Then Piper gets a once-in-a-lifetime offer that could launch her company to the next level—and take her away from Blake. Are she and Blake just drunk in love, or do they have something real that’s worth risking her dreams for?

My rating:  3.0 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.

My husband is a home brewer and is pretty passionate about craft beer, so when I saw this book that tied together both of our interests together I was pretty excited. There was a couple interesting things I learned about beer from reading this book – I read about the Grisette style of beer, and then the next day we went to a brewery that had the grisette beer! I was super excited, so I tried it and I Loved it! While I loved some of the knowledge I gained from this book, overall the rest of the plot and book were (I would say) just ok for me. I didn’t necessary love Piper’s character, she was a little self-centered for me. I still liked the plot though and the overall story line. I’d be interested to see if this turns into a series (I didn’t see any other books so I listed it as a stand alone, but Blake’s two guy friends seem to be interested in these two girls so we’ll see) and I’d be interested to read the other stories if it does turn into a series. I’d recommend this one, especially for anyone who’s interested in beer and brewing.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #80 – Intercepted by Alexa Martin

51oN1Oz4ZyLTitle: Intercepted
Author: Alexa Martin
Date finished: 9/9/18
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction, romance
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: September 11, 2018
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: #1 in The Playbook 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:

Marlee thought she scored the man of her dreams only to be scorched by a bad breakup. But there’s a new player on the horizon, and he’s in a league of his own…

Marlee Harper is the perfect girlfriend. She’s definitely had enough practice by dating her NFL-star boyfriend for the last ten years. But when she discovers he has been tackling other women on the sly, she vows to never date an athlete again. There’s just one problem: Gavin Pope, the new hotshot quarterback and a fling from the past, has Marlee in his sights.

Gavin fights to show Marlee he’s nothing like her ex. Unfortunately, not everyone is ready to let her escape her past. The team’s wives, who never led the welcome wagon, are not happy with Marlee’s return. They have only one thing on their minds: taking her down. But when the gossip makes Marlee public enemy number one, she worries about more than just her reputation.

Between their own fumbles and the wicked wives, it will take a Hail Mary for Marlee and Gavin’s relationship to survive the season.

My rating:  4.5 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 had read a sample of the first couple chapters in this book as it was included in the BuzzBooks Romance sampler I read last month. I thought that the excerpt was pretty entertaining so I requested it. And oh wow was this book funny. Some parts were so drama-filled I was holding my breath and couldn’t look away, and other parts were just plain darn laugh out loud funny. Overall this book was extremely entertaining – the antics that Marlee manages to find herself in were astounding. There was a good amount of drama, and some pigheaded asshole-ish men, I was definitely high on the adrenaline roller coaster while reading this one. The story line was ok, although I thought it was weird that Gavin was so outstandingly perfect in the beginning and then he turns out to be such a hard headed dunce towards the end. I still really liked it though, I liked reading about the different hierarchy and struggles and drama of being a football player’s wife. And I ended up having really good timing for reading this since I was able to read it during our first football game viewing of the season (my in-laws and husband are avid Pats fans). I’d recommend this one, it was an interesting and funny read!

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Link to author website

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2018 Book #78 – Hot Pursuit by Rebecca Freeborn

51iIzFRSO4LTitle: Hot Pursuit
Author: Rebecca Freeborn
Date finished: 9/5/18
Genre: Contemporary romance, suspense-ish
Publisher: Pantera Press
Publication Date: July 28, 2018
Pages in book: 266
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:

Meet wannabe investigative journalist Sarah Burrowes. For Sarah, life hasn’t worked out as she’d hoped. At 30 everyone expects you to have your life together but she’s is in a job she hates and, to top everything off, her boyfriend has run out leaving her shattered and up to her ears in debt.

Heartbroken and fed up, she decides to take her career by the reins and manages to bag the assignment of a lifetime in Europe. The next day she’s on a plane to Barcelona with Nick, the gorgeous and egocentric photographer (who also happens to be her ex’s best friend), hot on the trail of a missing rockstar. With no investigate journalistic experience, Sarah must use all her intuition and wiles to track the rockstar down. But things go far from smoothly – in the assignment, and in her love life.

As Sarah and Nick travel from Barcelona to Madrid and on to Amsterdam, they uncover something much bigger than just a missing rockstar. As things get more dangerous, Sarah must decide if she’s prepared to risk everything – even their lives – for the story of a lifetime.

My rating:  1.5 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.

The description of this book sounded like it would be interesting so I decided to give this one a try. I ended up not especially loving it, I just couldn’t connect with Sarah as a character. She spends a lot of the book being treated like crap by either Nick or James and yet she still kept just brushing it off like it wasn’t a big deal. Her relationship with Nick was dysfunctional, those two just could not communicate and they kept lashing out at each other because of it. And don’t even get me started on James, dude disappeared on her and left her alone with a mortgage she couldn’t afford and yet she answered the phone when he called her. I would’ve torn that man a new one and then never contacted him again except to have my lawyer resolve the mortgage issue with his lawyer. So I just had a lot of trouble getting into this story line with the characters and how convoluted the plot was. Unfortunately this one just wasn’t for me.

Link to author website

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

2018 Book #75 – Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia

51E+x1+4uSLTitle: Leave No Trace
Author: Mindy Mejia
Date finished: 8/28/18
Genre: Suspense, thriller
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Pages in book: 336
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:

There is a place in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests called the Boundary Waters. Ten years ago a man and his son trekked into this wilderness and never returned.

Search teams found their campsite ravaged by what looked like a bear. They were presumed dead until a decade later…the son appeared. Discovered while ransacking an outfitter store, he was violent and uncommunicative and sent to a psychiatric facility. Maya Stark, the assistant language therapist, is charged with making a connection with their high-profile patient. No matter how she tries, however, he refuses to answer questions about his father or the last ten years of his life.

But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy who is no longer a boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world.

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 “Finish a Mystery Novel” box, since its a mystery/suspense novel.

I read another book by this author last year, Everything You Want Me To Be, and Loved it! So I was excited to see her next release up for review. This book was very different from her first novel but was still a good read. Maya as a character was dark and complicated and I liked learning about her character a little more through each piece of the book. Her relationship with Lucas was intense and the emotion of it really captivates the reader. Lucas himself was also an interesting character. The plot itself was ok, the major plot twist towards the end I didn’t see coming but after that the rest of the plot felt a little off to me for some reason. I did still really like the book though, just not s much as I liked her first novel I think. This was a good book and I’d recommend it!

Link to author website

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

2018 Book #65 – Smothered by Autumn Chiklis

51T99qCdIqLTitle: Smothered
Author: Autumn Chiklis
Date finished: 8/3/18
Genre: Young adult
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
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 humorous debut crossover young adult novel about what happens when entering the “real world” means moving back in with your mother, inspired by actress and celebrity Autumn Chiklis’ real life.

Eloise “Lou” Hansen is graduating from Columbia University summa cum laude, and she’s ready to conquer the world. Just a few minor problems: she has no job, no prospects, and she’s moving back into her childhood bedroom. Lou is grimly determined to stick to a rigorous schedule to get a job and get out of her parents’ house. Shelly “Mama Shell” Hansen, on the other hand, is ecstatic, and just as determined to keep her at home. Who else will help her hide her latest binge-shopping purchases from her husband, go to SoulCycle with her, and hold her hand during Botox shots?

Smothered is a hilarious roman à clef told via journal entries, text messages, emails, bills, receipts, tweets, doctor’s prescriptions, job applications and rejections, parking tickets, and pug pictures, chronicling the year that Lou moves back home after college. Told from Lou’s point-of-view, Smothered tells the story of two young(ish) women, just trying to get it right, and learning that just because we all grow up doesn’t mean we necessarily have to grow old. (After all, what is Juvaderm for?)

My rating:  1.25 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 was the first book that I finished 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 “Book set in Summer” box.

I really love epistolary novels and so I thought I’d give this one a try. I have to say though I did not love it. Lou as a character was just a doormat and let everyone walk all over her. And her mother was so immature and self-centered. Really there weren’t many characters that I did like in the book, except for Theo who was amazing and did not deserve the treatment (and lies) he got through most of the book. Lou’s character was very whiny and also she lied a lot, and overall it really took away from my enjoyment of the book. It is hit or miss with me and young adult novels since many of them I find to be a little too teen angsty. But this novel was supposed to be about a college graduate, but Lou either would not or could not stand up for herself for most of the book, despite being on her own for 4 years. Her mother had no idea of what boundaries were and really was just overwhelmingly pushy. Anyways, the plot itself wasn’t my favorite either because it centered around Lou’s inability to stand up for herself and also be an honest person. There were some funny things but I honestly just couldn’t get past my personal downfall’s with the book.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #27 – What You Don’t Know About Charlie Outlaw by Leah Stewart

51FTCr4LCSLTitle: What You Don’t Know About Charlie Outlaw
Author: Leah Stewart
Date finished: 4/8/18
Genre: Fiction, literary fiction
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
Pages in book: 336
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:

The celebrated author (whom The Boston Globe compared to Anne Tyler) of The Myth of You and Me explores an untraditional love story through the lens of a character actor who must finally become the hero of her own story.

After a series of missteps in the face of his newfound fame, actor Charlie Outlaw flees to a remote island in search of anonymity and a chance to reevaluate his recent breakup with his girlfriend, actress Josie Lamar. But soon after his arrival on the peaceful island, his solitary hike into the jungle takes him into danger he never anticipated.

As Charlie struggles with gaining fame, Josie struggles with its loss. The star of a cult TV show in her early twenties, Josie has spent the twenty years since searching for a role to equal that one, and feeling less and less like her character, the heroic Bronwyn Kyle. As she gets ready for a reunion of the cast at a huge fan convention, she thinks all she needs to do is find a part and replace Charlie. But she can’t forget him, and to get him back she’ll need to be a hero in real life.

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.

Ever wondered what it was like to be an actor? It’s not something I ever really thought much about, but still while reading this book I found myself interested in a lot of the thought process that goes behind the acting gig. I’m an accountant myself and have never really been much of an actor (I really am an awful liar and am somewhat terrible at secret-keeping) but after reading this book I can say that I identify with some pieces of the job. I also tend to be overly sensitive and emphatic, which gets me into trouble sometimes just like it did Charlie. And while I could resonate with his character on this specific idea, there were a lot of other parts of this book that got lost in translation for me. It felt to me like there was a limited amount of action thrown in between inner monologues and flash backs and character changes, all of which didn’t have much transition and multiple times I had to go back and figure out where the switch happened. While I really did enjoy the plot and I loved the ending, I found the book to be overly wordy and I had to struggle a little to make my way through it. This book has gotten some great reviews though and I did like the characters and the plot a lot so I would definitely still recommend checking it out!

Link to author website

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