Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book Review – Cam Girl by Leah Raeder

Posted December 3, 2015 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, New Adult, Read in 2015 / 1 Comment

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 – Cam Girl by Leah RaederCam Girl by Leah Raeder
Published by Atria Books on November 3rd 2015
Pages: 432
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Diiiirrrrrrttyyy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Goodreads

Also by this author: Black Iris

four-stars

Vada Bergen is broke, the black sheep of her family, and moving a thousand miles away from home for grad school, but she’s got the two things she loves most: her art and her best friend—and sometimes more—Ellis Carraway. Ellis and Vada have a friendship so consuming it’s hard to tell where one girl ends and the other begins. It’s intense. It’s a little codependent. And nothing can tear them apart.

Until an accident on an icy winter road changes everything.

Vada is left deeply scarred, both emotionally and physically. Her once-promising art career is cut short. And Ellis pulls away, unwilling to talk about that night. Everything Vada loved is gone.

She’s got nothing left to lose.

So when she meets some smooth-talking entrepreneurs who offer to set her up as a cam girl, she can’t say no. All Vada has to do is spend a couple hours each night stripping on webcam, and the “tips” come pouring in.

It’s just a kinky escape from reality until a client gets serious. “Blue” is mysterious, alluring, and more interested in Vada’s life than her body. Online, they chat intimately. Blue helps her heal. And he pays well, but he wants her all to himself. No more cam shows. It’s an easy decision: she’s starting to fall for him. But the steamier it gets, the more she craves the real man behind the keyboard. So Vada pops the question:

Can we meet IRL?

Blue agrees, on one condition. A condition that brings back a ghost from her past. Now Vada must confront the devastating secrets she's been running from—those of others, and those she's been keeping from herself...

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‘We fell apart. Broke each other’s hearts and screwed up our friendship. Now I’m adrift, unmoored without her. I keep treading water, looking for land. All I can see is endless blue.’

After Vada Bergen and her best friend Ellis Carraway are in a car accident, Vada slips into a depression after being injured and left with the inability to do the art which gave her life. Vada and Ellis aren’t just best friends, their relationship goes beyond that, but Vada has always struggled to accept her feelings of love towards Ellis. Even so, their bond still can’t withstand the after effects of the crash either and they drift apart. Unable to go back to school since her injury will barely allow her to hold a pencil, Vada chances upon meeting a couple that introduces her to the world of being a cam-girl; performing sexual acts on camera for anonymous strangers for money. She renames herself Morgan and becomes the companies highest earner with her signature move: a silk tie wrapped around her neck.

Morgan performs for strangers with an unwavering emotional detachment, but then one of her clients begins asking for personal one-on-one chats and then finally to meet in real-life. Ellis comes back into her life as well only jumbling her thoughts and feelings further. Vada has to make the decision to take the chance on a man she knows nothing about, or to re-attempt to accept her perplexing feelings for Ellis.

‘This world is so thick with ghosts it’s a wonder anyone can breathe.’

Leah Raeder continues to amaze me with her powerful novels that tackle those difficult subjects that are too often just easier to ignore. In Cam Girl, she tackles depression, gender-identity, same-sex relationships, and she tackles the sex trade. At first glance, you would probably say that that’s likely to be a bit overwhelming, and you wouldn’t be wrong. Raeder manages to handle these various different topics and their multiple facets with ease though. Her lyrical writing style is once again present in all its glory, transforming an ugly subject matter into something beautiful.

The focus on not just same-sex relationships but the confusion Vada felt due to her mother’s insistence she wasn’t really feeling what she knew she was feeling was a tough pill to swallow. Also, the way the sex trade was presented is definitely a hot topic for conversation. It may be because I just read Tricks and Traffick so I struggle to see the sex trade in anything but a negative light, but Vada used her role as a cam girl as a way to regain her confidence in life. It can be argued that this is healthy or not, but I appreciated having a new spin on that topic.

For those who have yet to experience one of Raeder’s books, you should know they get quite dark and extremely graphic. Her characters all possess their own unique darkness which they spill across the pages for you to experience. It doesn’t make her novels easy to read, but they are honest, full of passion, and brings to light those dormant topics that we should all be discussing.

‘This is what they don’t tell you about losing someone: It doesn’t happen once. It happens every day, every moment they’re missing from. You lose them a hundred times between waking and sleep, and even sleep is no respite, because you lose them in your dreams, too.’

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Early Review – The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert

Posted July 16, 2015 by Bonnie in Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015 / 7 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.

Early Review – The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. ReichertThe Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert
Published by Gallery Books on July 21st 2015
Pages: 336
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Foodie Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: The Simplicity of Cider

four-stars

You’ve Got Mail meets How to Eat a Cupcake in this delightful novel about a talented chef and the food critic who brings down her restaurant—whose chance meeting turns into a delectable romance of mistaken identities.

In downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lou works tirelessly to build her beloved yet struggling French restaurant, Luella’s, into a success. She cheerfully balances her demanding business and even more demanding fiancé…until the morning she discovers him in the buff—with an intern.

Witty yet gruff British transplant Al is keeping himself employed and entertained by writing scathing reviews of local restaurants in the Milwaukee newspaper under a pseudonym. When an anonymous tip sends him to Luella’s, little does he know he’s arrived on the worst day of the chef’s life. The review practically writes itself: underdone fish, scorched sauce, distracted service—he unleashes his worst.

The day that Al’s mean-spirited review of Luella’s runs, the two cross paths in a pub: Lou drowning her sorrows, and Al celebrating his latest publication. As they chat, Al playfully challenges Lou to show him the best of Milwaukee and she’s game—but only if they never discuss work, which Al readily agrees to. As they explore the city’s local delicacies and their mutual attraction, Lou’s restaurant faces closure, while Al’s column gains popularity. It’s only a matter of time before the two fall in love…but when the truth comes out, can Lou overlook the past to chase her future?

Set in the lovely, quirky heart of Wisconsin, The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is a charming love story of misunderstandings, mistaken identity, and the power of food to bring two people together.


Lou owns a small French restaurant named Luella’s in the heart of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She’s engaged to be married, however, she tries to surprise him with a coconut cake for his birthday only to find a woman in his apartment. In lingerie. She doesn’t take the news well and the restaurant suffers from it that night, which also happens to be the night the local food critic visits Luella’s.

Her little restaurant begins a downward spiral after his scathing review but things are starting to look up when she meets someone new. Al is from the UK and has yet to be shown around Milwaukee so Lou agrees to be his guide. She takes him to see everything from the best restaurants to museums and festivals. They begin to fall for each other during their non-dates realizing just how much they have in common, but neither of them knows that Al was the food critic that caused Lou to lose her restaurant.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is a delightful, lighthearted romance story that is also a love story to delicious foods and the city of Milwaukee. The food descriptions had me re-declaring my love for food. And also making a raid on my kitchen. And maybe planning a trip to Milwaukee to see all these wonderful sounding sights for myself.

‘He started with the much hailed cheese curds, hot and oozing a little of the white cheddar; the outside was crispy and salty when he bit. A string of cheese dangled from his mouth to his hand as he pulled the cheese from his lips.’

‘Ingredients in baking were mixed in a specific way to create a specific result; a lot like relationships. If people didn’t blend well together, you’d never get the outcome you wanted.’

The requisite drama in this one was palpable and while it all came to a predictable resolution this was still a completely satisfying story. There’s something about the components of a basic foodie fiction book that I can’t help but fall in love with. Delicious food descriptions + quirky characters + adorable romances = me, head over heels. And The Coincidence of Coconut Cake has all the right ingredients.

P.S. There’s even a delicious coconut cake recipe in the back pages that I can’t wait to try myself.

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Waiting on Wednesday – The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

Posted May 27, 2015 by Bonnie in Waiting on Wednesday, YA / 8 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – 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 Romance
Format: Hardcover
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Also by this author: Binding the Shadows, Banishing the Dark, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart

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?

About Jenn Bennett

JENN BENNETT is an artist and author who writes books for adults and teens, including the Roaring Twenties series (Bitter Spirits, Berkley Sensation) and the Arcadia Bell UF series (Kindling the Moon, Pocket Books). Her first YA contemporary romance, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, will be released in 2015 (Feiwel & Friends). She lives near Atlanta with one husband and two evil pugs. Visit her at www.jennbennett.net.

Jenn Bennett tackles Contemporary YA (one of my least read genres) however I’m totally on board because I’m really loving the concept of this one.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Early Review – Black Iris by Leah Raeder

Posted April 25, 2015 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Early Review, New Adult, Read in 2015 / 4 Comments

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

Early Review – Black Iris by Leah RaederBlack Iris by Leah Raeder
Published by Atria Books on April 28th 2015
Pages: 368
Genres: Contemporary Romance, LGBTQIA
Format: ARC
Source: Goodreads First Reads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Cam Girl

four-stars

The next dark and sexy romantic suspense novel from the USA Today bestselling author of Unteachable.

It only took one moment of weakness for Laney Keating’s world to fall apart. One stupid gesture for a hopeless crush. Then the rumors began. Slut, they called her. Queer. Psycho. Mentally ill, messed up, so messed up even her own mother decided she wasn't worth sticking around for.

If Laney could erase that whole year, she would. College is her chance to start with a clean slate.

She's not looking for new friends, but they find her: charming, handsome Armin, the only guy patient enough to work through her thorny defenses—and fiery, filterless Blythe, the bad girl and partner in crime who has thorns of her own.

But Laney knows nothing good ever lasts. When a ghost from her past resurfaces—the bully who broke her down completely—she decides it's time to live up to her own legend. And Armin and Blythe are going to help.

Which was the plan all along.

Because the rumors are true. Every single one. And Laney is going to show them just how true.

She's going to show them all.

‘Scars tell a story. My whole life was written on my body. How are you supposed to leave the past behind when you carry it with you in your skin?’

Laney Keating is a troubled teen questioning her sexuality while battling bullies and a severe drug addiction. She just wants to successfully make it to college so that she can start completely over with a fresh slate. That’s the bottom line, however, that doesn’t even begin to touch the contorted sort of life she leads. Still reeling from her mother’s suicide, Laney becomes intensely close with two individuals: Armin and Blythe. After finding out the details of her sordid story, the two agree to help her get back at those that hurt her so she can finally get the revenge she’s been dying for for so long.

‘I am not the heroine of this story.
And I’m not trying to be cute. It’s the truth. I’m diagnosed borderline and seriously fucked-up. I hold grudges. I bottle my hate until it ferments into poison, and then I get high off the fumes.’

First and foremost, Black Iris is one seriously dark and twisted thrill-ride of a tale. With a sense of being on a rollercoaster whipping you to and fro, the story throws us back in the past and forward into the future with each alternating chapter, slowly uncovering the facts of what caused Laney to become the sort of person she is. It’s such a thoroughly absorbing and well-written tale that keeping your facts straight isn’t ever a chore. And speaking of well-written, this book is simply sublime. Leah Raeder sees this world from a different perspective than the rest of us mere mortals. She sees this world in vibrant colors and intense detail and has the poetic ability to bring it to life for the rest of us.

‘I don’t categorize people by who I’m allowed to like and who I’m allowed to love. Love doesn’t fit into boxes like that. It’s blurry, slippery, quantum. It’s only limited by our perceptions and before we slap a label on it and cram it into some category, everything is possible.’

This book touches on a lot of severely dark aspects of life such as excessive drug use, mental illnesses such as depression and mania and not only the personal effects but how it manages to affect everyone in your life. It also tackles bullying, self-denigration and learning to come to terms with your sexuality despite it not being ‘the norm’. Revenge is a central part of the story as well and I loved how unrepentant Laney is about taking it, regardless of any ramifications. Her actions might not have been the easiest to understand or even to stomach, but her raw brutality still managed to be profound.

Black Iris may not be for everyone because its crudely savage and Laney remains remorseless to the very end without your quintessential self-realization over all the wrong that was done. But that crudeness is what completely ensnared me, shocked me and by the end left me completely stupefied (in the best way possible).

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Early Review – Eight Hundred Grapes: A Novel by Laura Dave

Posted April 17, 2015 by Bonnie in Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015 / 2 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.

Early Review – Eight Hundred Grapes: A Novel by Laura DaveEight Hundred Grapes: A Novel by Laura Dave
Published by Simon & Schuster on June 2nd 2015
Pages: 272
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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four-stars

There are secrets you share, and secrets you hide…

Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands.

But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.

Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancé is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets…

Bestselling author Laura Dave has been dubbed “a wry observer of modern love” (USA TODAY), a “decadent storyteller” (Marie Claire), and “compulsively readable” (Woman’s Day). Set in the lush backdrop of Sonoma’s wine country, Eight Hundred Grapes is a heartbreaking, funny, and deeply evocative novel about love, marriage, family, wine, and the treacherous terrain in which they all intersect.

‘Synchronization. Systems operating with all their parts in synchrony, said to be synchronous, or in sync. The interrelationship of things that might normally exist separately.

In physics: It’s called simultaneity. In music: rhythm.

In your life: epic failure.’

A mere week before Georgia is set to marry, when she’s in the middle of her final dress fitting, she sees something on the street that leaves her questioning everything about life and relationship. Incapable of any rational thinking, she gets in her car still clad in her wedding gown and drives to her childhood home seeking solace. Unfortunately, her arrival is unexpected and she discovers things at home are also complicated making her feel yet again that she has no idea what has been going on around her and she has no idea how to even begin to handle it all.

Eight Hundred Grapes takes you straight into the heart of wine country: Sebastopol, CA in Sonoma County. Dave impeccably describes the rolling green hills, the winding roads and the foggy mornings before the sun breaks through. If you’ve ever been there personally, her detailed descriptions will successfully dredge up all of your memories of this beautiful place.

 The detailed descriptions also extend to the multi-faceted characters that grace these pages. Georgia was an incredible character that had an admirable relationship with her parents, especially her father, that was really quite touching. The way she managed to face a whole slew of personal drama was done in a way that can not only be understood but appreciated. Grapes might at first seem like your typical family drama but it has a definite quality and character to it that was most appealing with writing that did an incredible job in perfectly describing feelings that can so often be difficult to convey in words. This story really snuck up on me in terms of feeling and emotion; I wasn’t expecting to become as involved in the outcome of the characters as much as I did but Dave’s writing and sense of normalcy really pull you into the story.

‘Wasn’t that the gift of a home? You looked at it the same way, but then when you needed it to, it showed you all over again the many ways you’d been during the time that you had been living there. The many ways it had brought you back to yourself. The many ways it still brought you back to yourself.’

Eight Hundred Grapes is a poignant tale of learning to deal with the imperfections of life, about listening to your heart and the significance of having somewhere you can truly call home.

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Early Review – 99 Days by Katie Cotugno

Posted March 28, 2015 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015, YA / 1 Comment

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.

Early Review – 99 Days by Katie Cotugno99 Days by Katie Cotugno
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 21st 2015
Pages: 384
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: How to Love

three-stars

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

‘Patrick was my person, my other half. I never felt stuck or cut off or like there was other stuff I’d rather be doing, never felt like there was anyplace else I’d rather be.
At least, not until the moment it did.’

Molly Barlow has only 99 days before she can leave for college and those days can’t go by fast enough for her. Molly and Patrick were childhood friends turned first loves when they drifted apart just long enough for her to fall into the arms of Gabe, Patrick’s brother. This subsequently caused Julia, their sister and Molly’s best friend, to end their friendship completely. She also seems to be intent on making those 99 days some of the worst for her.

‘It’ll make a great story someday. She said that, she told me what was going to happen, so really there’s no earthly reason to still be so baffled after all this time that I told her the worst, most secret, most important thing in my life – and she wrote a best-selling book about it.’

The truth behind the indiscretion between Molly and Gabe had managed to stay hidden until her mother, an author, decided to take the story her daughter confided in her and use it as the inspiration for her new novel. But that’s all in the past, however, no one seems to have forgotten it in the year she’s been gone. The only one that actually seems happy to see her again is Gabe and slowly but surely she develops a relationship with the other brother. But forgetting about what her and Patrick once shared doesn’t seem to be as simple as she’d like.

This story was a complete train wreck to watch unfold. It’s one of those that you can’t in all honesty say you ‘enjoyed’ but the story still possessed a strong emotional resonance. And while Molly’s actions may not have been right, the brothers were just as much at fault yet it was Molly that took the full brunt of the blame and ostracizing. As a reader we have to watch Molly continue to recreate past wrongs, all the while knowing that not a single bit of good is going to come of it all. But as far as love triangles go, it was quite possibly one of the most realistic I’ve ever read. Forgetting your first love is never easy and becoming involved in their lives again can lead to some sticky situations. Even with Molly developing feelings for Gabe, seeing Patrick together with another girl caused a multitude of confusing emotions that she struggled to understand. Faced with a situation like that, her actions are almost understandable, but it still made it no less difficult a read.

Katie Cotugno continues to impress with her stories that push the envelope and while How to Love is still my favorite, there’s no denying that 99 Days is a smart, complex tale about emotions and the havoc they can wreak.

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Book Tour Review – The Girls of Mischief Bay (Mischief Bay #1) by Susan Mallery

Posted February 26, 2015 by Bonnie in Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2015, TLC Book Tours / 1 Comment

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

Book Tour Review – The Girls of Mischief Bay (Mischief Bay #1) by Susan MalleryThe Girls of Mischief Bay by Susan Mallery
Series: Mischief Bay #1
Published by Mira on February 24th 2015
Pages: 416
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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four-stars

Susan Mallery, the New York Times bestselling author of Three Sisters, is world renowned for her "insightful, funny, and poignant" stories (Booklist). With her brand-new Mischief Bay series, she brings vivid color to the story of three friends on the brink of a new life. 

Nicole Lord wants to be a good wife, but there's a difference between being supportive and supporting her husband, who quit his job to write a screenplay she's never seen. He won't even help take care of their son, leaving Nicole to run the house and work full-time.

Sacrificing a personal life for her career is how Shannon Rigg became VP at her firm, but she wonders now whether she made the right choice. An exciting new relationship with a great guy convinces her that it might not be too late—until he drops a bombshell that has her questioning whether she really can have it all.

Although Pam Eiland adores her husband, she feels restless now that the kids are grown. Finding sexy new ways to surprise him brings the heat and humor back to their marriage, but when unexpected change turns her life upside down, she'll have to redefine herself. Again.

Through romance and heartbreak, laughter and tears, the girls of Mischief Bay will discover that life is richer with friends at your side.

About Susan Mallery

New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery has won the hearts of millions of readers around the world with books described as “immensely entertaining, intensely emotional” (RT Book Reviews), “hilarious” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram), and “heartwarming” (Publishers Weekly). One major retailer recently described her as “the queen of romantic fiction.” While she deeply appreciates the accolades of critics and booksellers, Mallery is even more honored by the enthusiasm of her readers and the word-of-mouth that catapults her toward the top of the bestsellers lists time and again.

Mallery lives in not-so-sunny Seattle with her husband and a toy poodle who makes her laugh every day and who’s not even a little bit impressed by her growing fame.

Nicole, Shannon, and Pam are three friends that are thrown some unexpected curve balls in life with only their friendship to help keep them afloat. Nicole’s husband has quit his job unexpectedly to pursue his dream of being a screenwriter leaving her to care for their child, the household and still maintain her full-time job. Shannon has dedicated her life to her career, sacrificing anything and everything especially romance, but when she goes on a blind date she finds herself rethinking her priorities. Pam has quite the perfect life but thinks her marriage could benefit from a little excitement, unfortunately, her perfect life is thrown into an emotional upheaval when she’s forced to experience true loss.

This is my first Susan Mallery book but I was most pleased with this heartwarming story. I don’t often read contemporary stories because I typically like to escape to a world unlike my own, but sometimes it’s comforting to read stories that you can truly understand and appreciate on a personal level. This was certainly one of those types. All three women managed to possess a certain characteristic that I could relate to despite the variation in ages among them. Nicole’s amount of responsibilities becoming a stressful burden on her, Shannon’s desire to connect with her new boyfriends family and the difficulty of being a step-parent and Pam’s struggle to stay strong in the face of adversity. It was at times a sad tale but in the end managed to become a truly inspiring story of perseverance and the true power of friendship.

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This post was a part of ‘The Girls from Mischief Bay‘ blog tour.
Click the button below for a complete list of tour stops.

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Book Review – A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

Posted February 13, 2015 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA / 3 Comments

Book Review – A Little Something Different by Sandy HallA Little Something Different by Sandy Hall
Published by Swoon Reads on August 26th 2014
Pages: 272
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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three-stars

Swoon Reads proudly presents its first novel—an irresistible and original romance between two college students told from 14 different viewpoints.

The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together.

Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and it seems like they are never going to work things out.

But something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. You’ll be rooting for Gabe and Lea too, in this irresistibly quirky, completely original novel, chosen by readers, writers, and publishers to be the debut title for the new Swoon Reads imprint!

Gabe and Lea are the only ones that don’t see that they belong together. A Little Something Different is interestingly told from fourteen different points of view of everyone around them, including a squirrel and a bench. Yes, you read that right. Gabe is terribly shy despite the fact that he does in fact like Lea and Lea, try as she might, she can’t seem to get through to him. Does he just not like her? Does he have a girlfriend? Is he gay? Oh, the mental drama we subject ourselves to when trying to determine if a crush likes us back.

A unique aspect of this book is the style of writing. While it wasn’t my favorite at first and the quirky few (namely the squirrel and bench) did seem rather odd, it definitely grew on me. I don’t know about you, but I’m a total people watcher, and it was pretty adorable how so many people took an interest in Gabe and Lea and their seemingly inevitable relationship. Even Victor, the moody kid in their Creative Writing class, couldn’t resist taking an interest in their shenanigans:

“…you two assholes are the most annoyingly cute thing I’ve ever seen. I’m annoyed at myself for even using the word ‘cute’. I feel sick to my stomach over using that word.”

If you were wondering, I’m a total Victor.

So while it was all cute and fluffy fun, there were some downsides that I can’t help but mention. I did wish that Gabe and Lea’s points of view were also included in the mix because while we do get a feel for their thoughts via their friends, it would have been better to have it firsthand. Another thing is I honestly couldn’t see why everyone thought Lea and Gabe were perfect for each other, especially with all the one-sided conversations Lea had with him where he literally said nothing. This happened for MONTHS. There’s shy (and yes, I get it that he was dealing with other issues as well) but after a point, I wondered why Lea seriously even bothered. Their interactions with one another gave the story a very adolescent feel and when suddenly they’re at a party getting drunk it kind of threw me for a bit. And then there was the unnecessary lady-bashing when everyone thought Gabe liked this other girl in their Creative Writing class:

“There really is no point,” Lea says. “Even if he does like girls, he’s totally into this girl Hillary in creative writing.”
“Sounds like Hillary is a skank queen of Cockblock-ville.”

But despite Victor and I’s shared moodiness, I still found myself charmed by this simple and sweet tale. It’s definitely one to save for when you’re in need of some serious fluff.

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Book Review – Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss #3) by Stephanie Perkins

Posted February 12, 2015 by Dani in Dani's Reviews / 1 Comment

Book Review – Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss #3) by Stephanie PerkinsIsla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #3
Published by Dutton Juvenile on August 14th 2014
Pages: 352
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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five-stars

Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.

Anna and the French Kiss series

Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss #1) by Stephanie Perkins{Review}
Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss #2) by Stephanie Perkins {Review}

“Anticipation – of something – hovers in the air.”

First Anna, then Lola, now say hello to Isla. We briefly meet Isla in the first book as a fellow kind soul to Anna in a time of need. Since I was late to the series (and had the spoiler of book three’s title), I paid careful attention for mentions of Isla. Thankfully, Stephanie Perkins gave Isla her very own book and it was spectacular. The above quote completely sums up my feelings of this book. It was already pretty evident from my other reviews that I was probably going to be a total fangirl about book 3. And yeah, I totally am. I was so excited and it never faded during the length of the story.

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“Something is happening between us. Is it friendship? It doesn’t feel like friendship, but it’s possible I’m projecting my own desires. And I’m ashamed for even thinking about him like this after what happened last week. Because I’m not thinking. I’m hoping. People aren’t supposed to be able to change, but…I’ve never bought that.” 

Isla and Josh (who also makes an appearance in book one) meet in New York City one night after Isla’s just had her wisdom teeth removed. Little does Josh know that Isla has been crushing, HARD, on him for years at their boarding school in Paris. It is total “meet cute” with Isla hopped up on pain killers, a walk home in a rainstorm, and then nothing for weeks. The pair meet again when school starts back up and they begin a torturous friendship – even though to everyone else it’s clear they are madly in love.

“I want to weep with joy. He like me, but he thought he couldn’t like me. It’s difficult to wrap my mind around this idea. I suspected his attraction, but the full truth of the situation is unbelievable. How is it possible that my crush – my three-year-long crush – has a crush on me? This doesn’t happen in real life.”  

Isla is certainly the most real and honest of the three books in this series. I found myself holding my breath, laughing and crying with Isla. It was borderline reliving awful, angsty teenage years pining for the boy in calculus – hypothetically, of course.

“I stare at my hands. I am hard on myself. But isn’t it better to be honest about these things before someone else can use them against you? Before someone else can break your heart? Isn’t it better to break it yourself? I thought honesty made people strong.” 

It would be very easy to chalk this book up as two little rich kids who fall in and out of love. But like Perkins’ other works, and even more so in this one, it captures so delicately and wonderfully the unsteady waters of a young woman’s heart and mind. Isla finds herself heartbroken and “drowning in a river of [her] own making.” The isolation to which Isla sentences herself is wholly authentic. Again, I found myself with another character in Perkins’ work that I could not only sympathize with, but empathize with. Isla is a best friend, a sister, me. Isla and the Happily Ever After is beautiful, captivating, and the most perfect ending to a fantastic series.

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Waiting on Wednesday – Black Iris by Leah Raeder

Posted February 11, 2015 by Bonnie in New Adult, Waiting on Wednesday / 2 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Black Iris by Leah RaederBlack Iris by Leah Raeder
Published by Atria Books on April 28th 2015
Pages: 368
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance, Suspense
Format: Paperback
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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Also by this author: Black Iris, Cam Girl

The next dark and sexy romantic suspense novel from the USA Today bestselling author of Unteachable.

It only took one moment of weakness for Laney Keating’s world to fall apart. One stupid gesture for a hopeless crush. Then the rumors began. Slut, they called her. Queer. Psycho. Mentally ill, messed up, so messed up even her own mother decided she wasn't worth sticking around for.

If Laney could erase that whole year, she would. College is her chance to start with a clean slate.

She's not looking for new friends, but they find her: charming, handsome Armin, the only guy patient enough to work through her thorny defenses—and fiery, filterless Blythe, the bad girl and partner in crime who has thorns of her own.

But Laney knows nothing good ever lasts. When a ghost from her past resurfaces—the bully who broke her down completely—she decides it's time to live up to her own legend. And Armin and Blythe are going to help.

Which was the plan all along.

Because the rumors are true. Every single one. And Laney is going to show them just how true.

She's going to show them all.

About Leah Raeder

I was born in the 80s, which means I have fantastic taste in music and atrocious taste in hair. I knew at eight years old that I wanted to be a published author when I grew up. Of course, when I was eight, “published author” was a glamorous daydream where I spent all day in bookstores, signing hardcovers and posing for photos with fans. In reality, authordom involves lots of bourbon-scented tears and neurotic self-doubt. At least there are fewer mullets.

As well as being a writer, I’m a voracious and omnivorous reader. Seriously. I read everything from contemporary Young Adult to dense, doorstop literary fiction. Some of my favorite writers are Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita), Virginia Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway), F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tender is the Night), and Jeanette Winterson (Written on the Body). I’m a total poetry geek, too—my two absolute favorites are Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath.

All the pretty colors on this website were made by me. In my non-bookish life, I’m a graphic designer.

I’m from Chicago and have lived all over the world, from NYC to LA to Tehran, Iran. I currently live in the Windy City with my partner, Alexander, who’s very understanding about all this girlsmut business.

Basically Unteachable was so utterly fantastic that I didn’t even bother reading the summary before adding this.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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