Genre: Contemporary Romance

Life’s Too Short | The Honey-Don’t List, Follow Me to Ground, The Starless Sea

Posted December 26, 2019 by Bonnie in 2019, Book Reviews, Life's Too Short / 8 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short | The Honey-Don’t List, Follow Me to Ground, The Starless SeaThe Honey-Don't List by Christina Lauren
Narrator: Allan Corduner, Bahni Turpin, Dion Graham, Dominic Hoffman, Fiona Hardingham, Jorjeana Marie
Published by Gallery Books on March 24, 2020
Pages: 320
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: My Favorite Half-Night Stand, Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating, Love and Other Words, The Unhoneymooners, Twice in a Blue Moon

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Carey Douglas has worked for home remodeling and design gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp for nearly a decade. A country girl at heart, Carey started in their first store at sixteen, and—more than anyone would suspect—has helped them build an empire. With a new show and a book about to launch, the Tripps are on the verge of superstardom. There’s only one problem: America’s favorite couple can’t stand each other.
James McCann, MIT graduate and engineering genius, was originally hired as a structural engineer, but the job isn’t all he thought it’d be. The last straw? Both he and Carey must go on book tour with the Tripps and keep the wheels from falling off the proverbial bus.
Unfortunately, neither of them is in any position to quit. Carey needs health insurance, and James has been promised the role of a lifetime if he can just keep the couple on track for a few more weeks. While road-tripping with the Tripps up the West Coast, Carey and James vow to work together to keep their bosses’ secrets hidden, and their own jobs secure. But if they stop playing along—and start playing for keeps—they may have the chance to build something beautiful together…
From the “hilariously zany and heartfelt” (Booklist) Christina Lauren comes a romantic comedy that proves if it’s broke, you might as well fix it.
From the New York Times bestselling author behind the “joyful, warm, touching” (Jasmine Guillory, New York Times bestselling author) The Unhoneymooners comes a delightfully charming love story about what happens when two assistants tasked with keeping a rocky relationship from explosion start to feel sparks of their own.

DNF @ 23%

I’ve read a ton of Christina Lauren books and my ratings have gone steadily down with each new release, however, this is my first official DNF. I just couldn’t do it. This one rubbed me the wrong way right from the beginning with how similar the plot was to Chip and Joanna Gaines and their home improvement show, Fixer Upper. In The Honey-Don’t List, they’re Rusty and Melissa, with their home improvement show and their perfect life… except it’s all a lie. I don’t know, for me, it felt like they were just taking something good and wholesome and ruining it. But I kept reading. Until I got to this quote which is referencing Rusty’s extra-marital affairs:

“I know her well enough to get that she doesn’t like my intrusion, but we’re all in this awkwardness together, and there’s no one to blame but Rusty. And to be fair, probably Melly, too.”

Oh, I’m sorry, what was that? We’re blaming Melissa for being the reason Rusty cheated on her?

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short | The Honey-Don’t List, Follow Me to Ground, The Starless SeaFollow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford
Published by Scribner on January 21, 2020
Pages: 208
Genres: Magical Realism
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads


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A haunted, surreal debut novel about an otherworldly young woman, her father, and her lover that culminates in a shocking moment of betrayal—one that upends our understanding of power, predation, and agency.
Ada and her father, touched by the power to heal illness, live on the edge of a village where they help sick locals—or “Cures”—by cracking open their damaged bodies or temporarily burying them in the reviving, dangerous Ground nearby. Ada, a being both more and less than human, is mostly uninterested in the Cures, until she meets a man named Samson. When they strike up an affair, to the displeasure of her father and Samson’s widowed, pregnant sister, Ada is torn between her old way of life and new possibilities with her lover—and eventually comes to a decision that will forever change Samson, the town, and the Ground itself.
Follow Me to Ground is fascinating and frightening, urgent and propulsive. In Ada, award-winning author Sue Rainsford has created an utterly bewitching heroine, one who challenges conventional ideas of womanhood and the secrets of the body. Slim but authoritative, Follow Me to Ground lingers long after its final page, pulling the reader into a dream between fairytale and nightmare, desire and delusion, folktale and warning.

DNF @ 29%

This is one of those books that’s going to be amazing for a certain kind of reader. I am not that certain kind of reader. This was magical realism with a dash of weirdness but the more you keep reading you realize that the lid must’ve come off and the whole bottle of weirdness ended up in there. The utter strangeness of this reminded me a lot of The Library at Mount Char, so if you were a fan of that, definitely pick this one up. (That one also didn’t work for me. lol) Here’s a quick summary of the weirdness: this girl and her father were both “born from the dirt” or something, her father transforms into a beast at night and eats the local wildlife, they take out the yucky stuff from people that causes them pain/sickness, etc. The writing is lyrical and the only reason I got to 29% but the story is extremely weird. Take this scene for instance:

“First time I tried to lie down with a boy, I didn’t know what I was doing. I lay down and he lay down over me and I held on tight. He went to put it in and there was nowhere for it to go and he got scared and bit me. […] By the time I took Samson inside, I’d grown myself an opening that I’d a dozen names for.”

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Life’s Too Short | The Honey-Don’t List, Follow Me to Ground, The Starless SeaThe Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Narrator: Dominic Hoffman, Dion Graham, Bahni Turpin, Allan Corduner, Fiona Hardingham, Jorjeana Marie
on November 5, 2019
Length: 18 hrs and 37 mins
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads


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Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.
A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.

DNF @ 30 minutes into the audio

I knew quickly that this one wasn’t going to work out for me. I know I didn’t really give it a chance, but I was completely lost and had no idea what was going on and there didn’t even seem to be a freaking plot. It was full of extremely beautiful writing that was always describing something in explicit detail and never actually amounting to much. Maybe this would be better in print but I’m not sure I’ll be giving it that opportunity. Truth is, I DNF’d The Night Circus in print AND in audio (I tried it in both ways just to make sure it wasn’t a format problem) and I’m just not sure Morgenstern is the author for me.

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Rapid Fire Reviews – Twice in a Blue Moon, Wanderers, The Unkindest Tide, Sapphire Flames

Posted October 4, 2019 by Bonnie in 2019, Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Rapid Fire Reviews / 12 Comments

Sometimes review writing is hard. Sometimes you don’t have a lot to say. Sometimes you’re just lazy as fuck. Sometimes you’re just trying to clean up the backlog of reviews because you’ve been a terrible blogger lately. These are Rapid Fire Reviews.

Rapid Reviews – Twice in a Blue Moon, Wanderers, The Unkindest Tide, Sapphire FlamesTwice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on October 22, 2019
Pages: 368
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: When eighteen-year-old Tate fell in love with Sam, she couldn’t foresee that he’d not only break her heart but her trust. Fourteen years later everything has changed but when Tate sees Sam for the first time since that day, she realizes that her heart never truly recovered and never truly got over him.

Thoughts: This story felt completely mediocre until the last 20%. Then it felt like I was sledding down a hill on a piece of cardboard and that fucker was deteriorating before I had even hit the bottom.

Verdict: This was not the standard of book I’ve come to expect from this duo. Between the lackluster side characters, the laughable subplots, the super “I don’t even buy this crap” type of romance, and the ridiculous ending, I’m just going to pretend like this didn’t happen.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

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two-stars

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews – Twice in a Blue Moon, Wanderers, The Unkindest Tide, Sapphire Flames

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
Published by Del Rey Books on July 2, 2019
Pages: 800
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: After a comet passes over the Earth, seemingly random individuals in a sleepwalk state begin walking as a group in the same direction towards an unknown destination.

Thoughts: This one had a lot of layers between the sleepwalkers, their loved ones following their progress across the United States, the religious nutters, the multitude of characters, and then the explanation of everything, but in all honesty the comparisons to The Stand were erroneous.

Verdict: Wanderers starts out very strong but between the unnecessarily long page count and a few curveballs in the plot that I found wholly unnecessary, this one essentially lost me when it was all said and done.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

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two-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews – Twice in a Blue Moon, Wanderers, The Unkindest Tide, Sapphire Flames

The Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire
Series: October Daye #13
Published by DAW Books on September 3, 2019
Pages: 368
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Short Summary: The Unkindest Tide, the thirteenth installment, when the Sea Witch decides it’s time for the Selkies to finally fulfill their promise and Toby must be there to help her bring the Roane back.

Thoughts: This installment was the most tedious since this series began and I’m not sure if it was my expectations of awesomeness, the plot, the marshmallow ending, or Toby’s proclamations like “Someone call for a hero? I asked, and punched her in the face, but reading this was like slogging through quicksand.

Verdict: This installment felt like a whole lot of filler and did little to nothing to progress the actual storyline. Or maybe not, maybe the small moves in this series will amount to something far greater later, but as it stands, I was simply expecting more from this.

In a nutshell, GIF style: 

Related image

 

three-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews – Twice in a Blue Moon, Wanderers, The Unkindest Tide, Sapphire Flames

Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #4
Published by Avon on August 27, 2019
Pages: 393
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: Catalina Baylor, the new Head of House Baylor, begins investigating a double murder that just so happens to involve her teenage crush Alessandro Sagredo.

Thoughts: The original Hidden Legacy series was filled with snarky humor, off the charts chemistry, and fascinating worldbuilding. This spinoff series is lacking everything but the latter.

Verdict: I absolutely adore this magical world that IA has created and while I’m pleased that they decided to continue writing stories set in this world, Catalina and Alessandro just aren’t Nevada and Rogan. I’m still satisfied with the story itself so it’s not a complete loss.

In a nutshell, GIF style: 

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three-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Waiting on Wednesday – The Right Swipe (Modern Love #1) by Alisha Rai

Posted February 13, 2019 by Bonnie in Waiting on Wednesday / 4 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Right Swipe (Modern Love #1) by Alisha RaiThe Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
Series: Modern Love #1
Published by Avon on July 2, 2019
Pages: 384
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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Alisha Rai returns with the first book in her sizzling new Modern Love series, in which two rival dating app creators find themselves at odds in the boardroom but in sync in the bedroom.

Rhiannon Hunter may have revolutionized romance in the digital world, but in real life she only swipes right on her career—and the occasional hookup. The cynical dating app creator controls her love life with a few key rules:

- Nude pics are by invitation only

- If someone stands you up, block them with extreme prejudice

- Protect your heart

Only there aren't any rules to govern her attraction to her newest match, former pro-football player Samson Lima. The sexy and seemingly sweet hunk woos her one magical night... and disappears.

Rhi thought she'd buried her hurt over Samson ghosting her, until he suddenly surfaces months later, still big, still beautiful—and in league with a business rival. He says he won't fumble their second chance, but she's wary. A temporary physical partnership is one thing, but a merger of hearts? Surely that’s too high a risk…

About Alisha Rai

Alisha Rai writes award-winning emotionally complex contemporary romance novels and is frequently sought as a speaker on a range of topics covering romance and media.

She is the first author to have an indie-published book appear on Washington Post’s annual Best Books list. Her books have also been named Best Books of the Year by NPR, Vulture, Entertainment Weekly, Amazon, Kirkus, Bustle, and Cosmopolitan Magazine and her novels have won the RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for erotic and contemporary romance. When she’s not writing, Alisha is traveling and tweeting.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Waiting on Wednesday – My Life in Shambles by Karina Halle

Posted February 6, 2019 by Bonnie in Uncategorized, Waiting on Wednesday / 3 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – My Life in Shambles by Karina HalleMy Life in Shambles by Karina Halle
on February 13th 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eBook
Goodreads

Also by this author: Come Alive, Shooting Scars, Bold Tricks

When Valerie Stephens made the resolution to say yes to new adventures, she never thought she’d end up in the tiny town of Shambles, fake engaged to one of Ireland’s top rugby players. But there’s a first time for everything.

They say bad things happen in threes.

After my boyfriend broke off our engagement, I lost my apartment, and was laid off from my job, I can definitely attest to that.

They also say life is what happens when you say yes to new adventures.

So when my two sisters invited me to ring in the new year in Ireland, I decided to throw all caution to the wind and go for it. I was going to let “saying yes” be my new resolution.

Little did I know I’d spend New Year’s Eve having a hot and dirty one-night stand with Padraig McCarthy, one hell of a sexy Irishman. I also didn’t know that the brooding and intense sex god was one of Ireland’s top rugby players.

A rugby player with a proposition for me:

Come with him to his tiny hometown of Shambles and pretend to be his fiancé for a few days, just so that his ailing father can have some peace of mind.

It sounded simple enough.

It was anything but.

Not when a town gets up in your business, not when the media hunts you down, not when your past comes back in the picture, not when there are real hearts and feelings at stake.

Not when there are secrets that could break you.

They say life is what happens when you say yes to new adventures.

This is my life in Shambles.

This is a full-length contemporary standalone romance

About Karina Halle

Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and the USA Today Bestselling author of Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, and other wild and romantic reads. She lives in a 1920s farmhouse on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.

Next week!! 😍

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Life’s Too Short – Transcription, The Clockmaker’s Daughter, 99 Percent Mine

Posted January 31, 2019 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Life's Too Short / 15 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Transcription, The Clockmaker’s Daughter, 99 Percent MineTranscription by Kate Atkinson
on September 25, 2018
Pages: 352
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: Life After Life

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In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathizers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past forever. Ten years later, now a radio producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence. Transcription is a work of rare depth and texture, a bravura modern novel of extraordinary power, wit and empathy. It is a triumphant work of fiction from one of the best writers of our time.

DNF @ 5%

I tried reading this in print twice. I even tried listening on audio thinking I’d have better luck. I never got past 5% on either occasion. I could very well blame it on my mood reading tendencies or even my impatience, however, it’s simple: this book never managed to hook me. WWII, mid-century London, espionage… this really should’ve worked for me but I think I was anticipating much more action than what was being delivered and it ended up being a similar case like Sweet Tooth. Life After Life was stunning yet A God in Ruins was another DNF. Atkinson is an incredible writer but alas, I’m not sure her stories are the best fit for me.

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Transcription, The Clockmaker’s Daughter, 99 Percent MineThe Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton
Published by Atria Books on October 9, 2018
Pages: 485
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Secret Keeper, The House at Riverton

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My real name, no one remembers. The truth about that summer, no one else knows.

In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.

Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?

DNF @ 15%

My track record with Kate Morton isn’t great, The Secret Keeper-5 stars, The House at Riverton-3 stars, The Lake House-DNF, and now another DNF. I’m drawn to her stories because I’m a huge fan of the dual timelines, the English settings she favors, and this one apparently included a ghostie mystery! Unfortunately, I hadn’t even gotten to 10% before I was bored and confused because I think I had counted 5 different timelines and I was having to bust out my post-its to keep notes on who’s who. I’d still love to revisit Morton’s earlier works that everyone highly recommends (The Forgotten Garden and The Distant Hours) and hope that it comes close to the entertainment I found in The Secret Keeper.

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Transcription, The Clockmaker’s Daughter, 99 Percent Mine99 Percent Mine: A Novel by Sally Thorne
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on January 29, 2019
Pages: 368
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Hating Game: A Novel

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Crush: a strong and often short-lived infatuation, particularly for someone beyond your reach…

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that's inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

DNF @ 49%

I was one of the many that adored The Hating Game so admittedly, my expectations were through the roof. But unfortunately, this reads like her actual debut, and if this was the first Sally Thorne I picked up I’d be hard-pressed to pick up anything else of hers. It worked for me at first and I came close to finishing but clearly didn’t make it.

Darcy Barrett read like my kind of girl, at first. Badass bartender, take no shit from anyone, does anything and everything she wants… I don’t know, that’s some shit to aspire to. Enter the love interest that she’s apparently been in love with since she was eight. Yes, eight years old. Everything went downhill from there. She started acting excessively weird and was damn near intolerable and her obsession with the love interest is nothing more than just that and there was never any real rhyme or reason to it. Sure, she was attracted to him, she found him to be the most perfect human being, but there was never any real clarification why. Yes, I need at least some reasoning behind “the spark”. I’m not a romantic, you say? Yeah, so sue me. Between her ripping actual cabinets off the hinges mid-conversation (yes, they were in the middle of a remodel but still) and her actual purring when he touches her in a pretty platonic way, the weird behavior was just too much for me in the end.

“I know my eyes probably go black and crazy, but I press back into his palm and exhale a weird purr. His reaction is instant. I’m bumped away and my skin goes cold. He looks shocked, like I’ve just coughed up a furball.”

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Rapid Reviews – 2018 Christina Lauren Releases

Posted November 23, 2018 by Bonnie in Adult, Book Reviews, Rapid Fire Reviews, Read in 2018 / 5 Comments

Sometimes review writing is hard. Sometimes you don’t have a lot to say. Sometimes you’re just lazy as fuck. These are Rapid Fire Reviews.

I only just discovered the wonders of Christina Lauren this year and am so glad that they write as fast as they do! I’ve got quite a backlist to look forward to as well. But here are my mini-reviews for their three 2018 releases.

Rapid Reviews – My Favorite Half-Night Stand, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, Love and Other WordsMy Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on December 4, 2018
Pages: 400
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: When Millie and her four male friends all realize they need dates for an upcoming banquet, they make a pact to join an online dating site thinking that’ll be a quick fix but Millie finds herself matched with one of her friends and decides to keep her identity secret from him.

Thoughts: I really love how consistently the authors develop their characters, but I definitely felt a kinship with Millie’s dry sense of humor and fascination with serial killers. My Favorite Half-Night Stand highlights the perils of online dating (and falling for your best friend) in the most hilarious of fashions.

Verdict: My love for Christina Lauren books was definitely not a phase — this hilarious swoon-fest gets all 5 stars from me (and is the current reigning favorite).

five-stars

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews – My Favorite Half-Night Stand, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, Love and Other WordsJosh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on September 4, 2018
Pages: 320
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: Josh and Hazel have known each other since college but after Josh gets unceremoniously dumped, Hazel decides to agree to go on a bunch of double dates with him to get him back in the game. Even though the sparks fly, they’re dating other people, they’re definitely not dating each other.

Thoughts: Josh (quiet, professional) and Hazel (quirky, one of a kind) were the perfect counterpoints to one another and their double dates were a super cringe-y good time. The humor is never over the top as it is paired with Hazel learning how to stand up for herself and not let people change her colorful nature.

Verdict: This one is great, of course, but the ending was not one I expected (and I’ve heard this is definitely not the norm in CL endings). I must say that despite the curveball ending, it was handled surprisingly well.

four-half-stars

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews – My Favorite Half-Night Stand, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, Love and Other WordsLove and Other Words by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on April 10, 2018
Pages: 432
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: Macy and Elliot fell in love when they were just teenagers but tragic events separate the two and they don’t have the opportunity to reconnect until a chance run-in gives them a second chance to fix what broke 10 years prior.

Thoughts: This book made me realize that I’m a super fan of the friends to lovers trope and that I love a good dual timeline story but I hate stories where there is unnecessary drama simply because people don’t know how to communicate.

Verdict: Having read more CL stories, this one is definitely heavier and angstier in terms of plot, but it will definitely put you through the emotional ringer (in a good way).

four-stars

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Short & Sweet – Little Women, Skipping Christmas, Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe

Posted December 30, 2016 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Classic Curiosity, Short & Sweet Reviews / 2 Comments

Short & Sweet – Little Women, Skipping Christmas, Christmas at the Comfort Food CafeLittle Women by Louisa May Alcott
Published by Tally Hall Press on 1868
Pages: 635
Genres: Classics, Historical Fiction, Holiday - Christmas
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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three-stars

Grown-up Meg, tomboyish Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. The four March sisters couldn't be more different. But with their father away at war, and their mother working to support the family, they have to rely on one another. Whether they're putting on a play, forming a secret society, or celebrating Christmas, there's one thing they can't help wondering: Will Father return home safely?

“I want to do something splendid…something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it and mean to astonish you all someday.”

Can you believe it? The last person on Earth has finally read Little Women! Okay, I’m kidding, I’m sure I wasn’t the last one to read it but sure feels like it. But yes, this was my very first time reading it and I’m glad I did even though it was a bit of a struggle because 18th century works of fictions and I don’t often get along real well. But despite my apprehension View Spoiler » this one really won me over in the end. I learned to appreciate it for what it’s meant to be: an old-fashioned yet authentic tale of a close knit family, and in particular four very different young women, struggling to find their place in a difficult time in history. It’s not a glamorous tale of silk gowns and ball rooms, but rather an accurate interpretation of how life really was for Louisa May Alcott and her three sisters, as well as all the other women coming of age in the 1800s. It makes you appreciate family, life itself, and presents under the Christmas tree. And NOW, I can finally watch the movie.

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Short & Sweet – Little Women, Skipping Christmas, Christmas at the Comfort Food CafeSkipping Christmas by John Grisham
Narrator: Dennis Boutsikaris
Published by Random House Audio on November 6th 2001
Length: 3 hrs and 42 mins
Genres: Holiday - Christmas
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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five-stars

Imagine a year without Christmas. No crowded malls, no corny office parties, no fruitcakes, no unwanted presents. That’s just what Luther and Nora Krank have in mind when they decide that, just this once, they’ll skip the holiday altogether. Theirs will be the only house on Hemlock Street without a rooftop Frosty; they won’t be hosting their annual Christmas Eve bash; they aren’t even going to have a tree. They won’t need one, because come December 25 they’re setting sail on a Caribbean cruise. But, as this weary couple is about to discover, skipping Christmas brings enormous consequences–and isn’t half as easy as they’d imagined.

In my opinion, this is the Christmas book. Forget A Christmas Carol or anything else resembling wholesome Christmas stories, Skipping Christmas is a destined classic. What can I say, the concept of skipping Christmas entirely and going on a cruise instead just speaks to my Grinch-y soul.

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This year I opted to re-read the audiobook version which is narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris who portrays Luther Krank perfectly in all his deadpan humorous glory. When I first discovered this novel, many, many years ago… I almost glanced over it because “John Grisham? Isn’t that the guy that writes legal thrillers?” Yep, he sure is, but apparently he also has a humorous side. Many of you have likely seen the film adaptation Christmas with the Kranks which is all sorts of hilarious (especially with the book lacking that sidesplitting scene after Luther gets botox), but this short novel is an amusing way to spend a few hours surrounded by Christmas cheer as you contemplate an alternative to it all.

Short & Sweet – Little Women, Skipping Christmas, Christmas at the Comfort Food CafeChristmas at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson
Series: Comfort Food Cafe #2
Published by HarperImpulse on September 23rd 2016
Pages: 209
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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three-stars

Becca Fletcher has always hated Christmas but she has her reasons for being Little Miss Grinch. Now, though, she can’t avoid her version of ho-ho-hell – because she’s travelling to the Comfort Food Cafe to spend the festive season with her sister Laura and her family. She’s expecting mulled wine, 24-hour Christmas movie marathons and all kinds of very merry torture.

Little does Becca know that the Comfort Food Cafe is like no other place on earth. Perched on a snow-covered hill, it’s a place full of friendship where broken hearts can heal, new love can blossom and where Becca’s Christmas miracle really could happen – if only she can let it…

‘They are perfect together, and it’s only their pasts holding them back.
Which, I suppose, is a sentence that could be applied to all of us, in some way or another.’

Becca Fletcher has always been known as the wild child of the family: drugs, alcohol, one night stands, you name it. She’s turned over a new leaf after a tragedy strikes her sister’s family and she realizes that it’s time she became someone that can be depended on. And now that same sister is asking her to come visit her for Christmas. She hates Christmas, but she just can’t say no to her sister.

The little town of Budbury is a charming little seaside village where everyone is friendly and looks out for one another. It’s the kind of quaint place that is only found within the pages of a story, but it doesn’t stop you from wishing such a place really existed. This is a fun Christmas time read but admittedly the Christmas theme took a backseat to the romance. Becca’s sister has been trying to set her up with the cute Irish boy named Sam since this past summer and when she visits, they finally meet in person for the first time. I appreciated Becca’s honesty with her past problems and not wanting to jump into anything (like a bed) too quickly and was up front and honest with him about this. She didn’t beat around the bush and gloss over her problems or make any sort of excuses, so for him to continue to doggedly pursue her despite her insistence they take things slow was a bit problematic for me. Granted, this all works out like your typical storybook romance is supposed to and was undeniably cute once I got past my awkward feels about the whole thing.

Christmas + cutesy romance = two peas in a pod.

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Book Review – The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Posted November 29, 2016 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Read in 2016, YA / 0 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola YoonThe Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Published by Delacorte Press on November 1st 2016
Pages: 384
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Everything, Everything

four-stars

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

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“What a difference a day makes.”

Natasha possesses a scientific and mathematical mind that believes in finding solutions. Her current problem that requires one: her family are undocumented immigrants from Jamaica and she’s being forced to return to the country of her birth that night. Daniel is a poet and believes wholeheartedly in fate. His Korean immigrant parents expect him to attend an Ivy League school, become a doctor, and marry a nice Korean girl. Neither Natasha nor Daniel like the looks of the futures that have been mapped out for them. When the two cross paths and end up spending what Natasha believes to be their last day together (which Daniel is unaware of), their chemistry is undeniable. Whether it’s because of Daniel’s belief in fate or Natasha’s belief in chance, their budding romance is certain. But with only a guarantee of a single day, is a happy ending even possible?

‘We’re kindling amid lightning strikes. A lit match and dry wood. Fire Danger signs and a forest waiting to be burned.’

This story belongs to more than just Natasha and Daniel, although they are the stars of the show. We’re given a behind the scenes look at all the puzzle pieces that had to fall in to place in order for everything to happen just as it did. Not just what happens to Natasha and Daniel, but how their presence impacted the others that they crossed paths with. We see how the guard, Irene, causes Natasha to miss an important appointment but inevitably ends up saving Irene. We see how a near miss with a drunk driver results in changed circumstances for another. We see how a broken down train sets Daniel on a path he otherwise wouldn’t have found himself on. Whether or not this is a vote towards the possibility of fate, that’s certainly up for the reader to decide.

“I didn’t know you this morning, and now I don’t remember not knowing you.”

Yoon has said that while this story isn’t autobiographical, it’s definitely inspired by her own personal love story which must be why this story seems to possess so much sentiment. While I’m not typically a fan of anything closely resembling insta-love, The Sun is Also a Star possesses a type of insta-love that I can get behind. These two characters somehow manage to build a meaningful relationship with one another that was not only believable but something to aspire to, albeit in approximately 12 hours. Suspending your disbelief may be a slight requirement but it’s well worth it for romantics and cynics alike.

“Maybe he was just saying that we should live in the moment. As if today is all we have.”

related-reads-khaki

Just One Day (Just One Day #1) by Gayle Forman [Purchase//Review]
A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall [Purchase//Review]
The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett [Purchase//Review]

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Book Review – The Hating Game: A Novel by Sally Thorne

Posted November 17, 2016 by Bonnie in Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 / 8 Comments

Book Review – The Hating Game: A Novel by Sally ThorneThe Hating Game: A Novel by Sally Thorne
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on August 9th 2016
Pages: 384
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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Also by this author: 99 Percent Mine: A Novel

five-stars

Debut author Sally Thorne bursts on the scene with a hilarious and sexy workplace comedy all about that thin, fine line between hate and love.

Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome. 2) A person’s undoing 3) Joshua Templeman

Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.
Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.
If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.
Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

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After the corporate merger between Bexley and Gamin Publishing, complete opposites Lucy and Josh are forced into sharing an office subsequently fueling the beginnings of the hate game. IHATEJOSHUA4EV@ becomes Lucy’s computer password, The Staring Game becomes a daily occurrence, and it’s a constant battle to outdo anything and everything he does. It’s easy to admit that she absolutely despises the man, but can’t help but notice his strange fixation with wearing his shirts in a set order (White, off-white stripe, cream, pale yellow, mustard, baby blue, robin’s egg blue, etc) and the fact that he’s really quite cute, albeit an ass. When a huge promotion becomes available and Lucy and Josh are both in line for it, their games get taken to a whole new level.

‘Both love and hate are mirror versions of the same game – and you have to win. Why? Your heart and your ego. Trust me, I should know.’

Do you remember playing childish games with your crush that usually involved being terribly mean to them which was meant to declare your undying love for them? Did you ever have that guy in middle school that teased you incessantly and then years later he’s asking you to prom? The Hating Game is exactly like that. But adults. In an office setting. Absolutely hilarious and completely steamy. Elevators will never be viewed the same again.

Opposites attract is quite the predictable storyline because it’s expected that they’re going to end up together, but Thorne makes the adventure to the inescapable conclusion refreshing and delightful. I do not read this genre on a regular basis but every once in a while even my cold, cynical heart needs some fluff. I spent the majority of this novel either admiring the chemistry between these two characters (*cough* holy hotness *cough*) or laughing at the hysterical bantering between them.

“If we leave my car here, Helene will know. She’ll see it.”
“Should we hide it under some branches in a forest?”

Every once in a while, you read a book and you adore it. You don’t want the story to end and when it inevitably does you want to immediately start over. It was everything you were looking for and you can’t wait to dive into the authors other books. But wait, what is this? There are none?! This was a debut!?!

Fortunately, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Until then, I foresee a re-read in my future.

related-reads-yellow

Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie, Bob Mayer [Purchase]
I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella [Purchase]
One Plus One by Jojo Moyes [Purchase]

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Book Review – The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

Posted December 4, 2015 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA / 2 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn BennettThe Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett
Published by Feiwel & Friends on November 3rd 2015
Pages: 304
Genres: Contemporary, Mental Illness
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Binding the Shadows, Banishing the Dark

two-stars

A mysterious graffiti artist, an anatomy-obsessed artist, and a night bus that will bring the two together.

Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she's spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci's footsteps, she's ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital's Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive . . . and possibly one of San Francisco's most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he's hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in Beatrix's own family's closet tear them apart?


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The Anatomical Shape of a Heart introduces two uncommon artists that meet one another on the Night Owl bus. Beatrix “Bex” Adams is intent on spending her summer perfecting her scholarship entry, an intricate drawing of a cadaver. Jack Vincent is also an artist, but of the more secretive sort, seeing as his graffiti/art goes up on the walls of buildings all over the city. Bex’s focus from her scholarship entry to Jack and his intriguing nature and otherworldly good looks immediately switches and predictability ensues.

I’m a huge fan of this author and her adult Urban Fantasy series, Arcadia Bell. While I’m not a frequent reader of YA Contemporary I was still anxious to see how Bennett did with the switch to YA. Suffice it to say, it breaks my anatomical heart to not have loved this as much as I had hoped. Initially, this reminded me heavily of Graffiti Moon but I failed to fall for Bex and Jack as much as I fell for Lucy and Ed. So, if you’re looking for another love story + graffiti, this isn’t it. At first, I did love Bex. I loved her tales of kids at school calling her Wednesday Addams because of the way she dressed, her affinity for braids, and naturally because of her similar last name. I loved her quirkiness and her desire to do art that was outside of the norm. I loved her conviction and determination to win the scholarship. I wanted her romance with Jack to not completely devour all things interesting about her, but it did. She transformed into a total manic pixie dream girl with Jack fitting in completely as the manic pixie dream boy.

‘When the jacket stood back up, it grew arms and legs and a face that probably competed with Helen of Troy’s in the ship-launching department.
Jack.’

‘He was a walking figure study in beautiful lines and lean muscle, with miles of dark lashes, and cheekbones that looked strong enough to hold up his entire body.’

There is honestly nothing worse than a heroine waxing poetic about a boys looks,  ad nauseam. A sufficient description without going overboard or sounding like a swoony idiot would have been preferable. So Jack goes around the city of San Francisco in his 1958 Corvette tagging up the place. He has a “retro-rockabilly” look and wears mala beads but claims to be a bad Buddhist. As anticipated, he has a mysterious past where something somber happened but he can’t talk about it because sad.

Then there’s Bex and her sudden obsession with all things Jack. There’s one point in the story where the duo hadn’t been talking because Jack was going through his sad things. A new piece of Jack’s art appears with a single word: ENDURE. Bex begins mulling over the meaning and of course immediately made it all about her.

‘ENDURE. Did it mean anything? Was he expressing something about whatever he was going through? Was it a sign that he was ready to communicate again?’

Oh, come on. His art/graffitti/whatever you want to call it clearly has personal meaning for him and he was doing it long before he met you. The answer is the very definition of the word: to suffer (something painful or difficult) patiently. The whole psuedo-mystery surrounding Jack’s past (including his romantic past) could have all been resolved over a nice, simple heart-to-heart. But that’s too rational to actually happen and where would we get the requisite drama? I don’t know, I don’t mean to hate on it so much but it was all just so predictable, pretentious, and overdone.

But before I morph into a complete asshole, I’m going to end on a happy note and talk about the one thing I did appreciate about this story: the sex-positive message. We have two teen characters that actually make it a point to have a discussion about sex before diving straight in. There’s also a parent that’s open about sex talks and brings home mass quantities of condoms… just in case. View Spoiler »

I’m clearly not the targeted reader and sometimes I feel I do books a disservice by attempting to explore these genres that I don’t typically read, just in an attempt to branch out. Nothing wrong with reading outside of your comfort zone but I think it’s time to accept that YA contemporary love stories are simply not my cup of tea.

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