Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book Review – Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits #1) by Katie McGarry

Posted June 21, 2014 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA / 0 Comments

Book Review – Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits #1) by Katie McGarryPushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on May 1st 2013
Pages: 397
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads


three-stars

So wrong for each other…and yet so right.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth.

But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can PUSH THE LIMITS and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her HOW TO LOVE AGAIN.

Pushing the Limits is a contemporary YA story about romance and friendship and dealing with loss. Echo was involved in an accident with her mother but the trauma was so strong that her mind has blocked it completely. All she wants to do is remember, but is she strong enough to handle the truth? Noah is still dealing with the loss of his parents in a house fire and is struggling to survive the foster care system. He was separated from his two younger brothers and all he wants to do is obtain custody of them so they can all be a happy family again. Echo and Noah have both suffered in life but are complete opposites of each other, yet they fall for one another just the same.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: YA contemporary is not my go-to genre. This book sat on my shelf for years because let’s be honest, that cover screams nothing but high school! romance! angst! drama! to me. I was surprised that while the romance (and yes, all the angst and drama one could ever hope for) is a major part, the story possessed a depth I was not expecting. Echo and Noah were individuals that had been forced into growing up sooner than necessary due to incidents in their life and Pushing the Limits is their coming of age story that treads the line between YA and NA and will be well-liked by fans of both.

Pushing the Limits was entertaining and I read it fairly quickly, however, it didn’t manage to generate much in the way of opinion. I was overall a bit indifferent about Echo and Noah’s story. While I appreciated the complex and separate side stories of both characters, it was all too melodramatic for me in the end. The romance was given some time to develop so instant love wasn’t a real factor, but once the romance started it, the seriousness between the two progressed at the speed of light. There were the obligatory ‘I love you’s’ thrown around and the constant use of ‘babe’. While the characters stories possessed depth I didn’t feel that their romance did. The story suffered in pacing during the second half and would have benefited from a trim in length as it only succeeded in adding more of the already abundant melodramatic flair. Excessively long yet still compulsively readable, it disappointed by ending too predictable. I seem to have nothing but negative things to say, yet I did enjoy the read overall. It’d be worth it to give the author another shot to see how she progresses as a writer.

How to Love by Katie Cotugno {PurchaseMy Review}
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta {Purchase}
A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley {Purchase}

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Short Story Review – Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5) by Gayle Forman

Posted June 5, 2014 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Read in 2014, Short Stories, YA / 0 Comments

Short Story Review – Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5) by Gayle FormanJust One Night by Gayle Forman
Series: Just One Day #2.5
Published by Viking Children's on May 29th 2014
Pages: 43
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Just One Day, Just One Year

one-half-stars

 

After spending one life-changing day in Paris with laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter, sheltered American good girl Allyson “Lulu” Healey discovered her new lover had disappeared without a trace. Just One Day followed Allyson’s quest to reunite with Willem; Just One Year chronicled the pair’s year apart from Willem’s perspective. Now, back together at last, this delectable e-novella reveals the couple’s final chapter. 

 

 

Just One Day series

Just One Day (Just One Day #1) by Gayle Forman {PurchaseMy Review}
Just One Year (Just One Day #2) by Gayle Forman {PurchaseMy Review}

In Just One Day, Allyson and Willem meet for one memorable day before getting separated. In Just One Year, the two spend the following year searching for one another before finally succeeding. But did they get their happily ever after?

All be warned: there will be spoilers.

I wasn’t a huge fan of this series in general but was so thrown by the ending (or lack of ending) in book two that I knew I had to pick this up regardless. Allyson and Willem never generated any warm fuzzies for me but I still wanted to see what happened to the two of them in the end. After finishing Just One Night I have to say, they (author? publisher? whoever made the call to publish this.) should have left well enough alone. The two get their happily ever after, but Just One Night only manages to showcase Allyson’s creepy stalker obsession with Willem (I’m sorry, but who travels the globe searching for a guy she spent a single day with?) and Willem’s creepy foot fetish. I’m not joking. Did he obsess about her feet in the other books? Because if he did I must have blocked that shit out because, ew? For only 43 pages there were an obscene amount of foot comments. Here are several examples:

‘Allyson is sitting on the sofa, her sandals off, neatly placed under the coffee table. (The sight of her bare feet. What this is doing to Willem’s blood pressure. She might as well have taken off all her clothes.)’

‘It all feels like a dream and yet as natural as breathing. This is what you do. Put Allyson’s feet into your lap.’

‘They are on the stairs and she is under him and he’s got that wrist of hers in his mouth (finally!) but it’s not enough, he wants all of her (the feet!) […]’

“…Allyson is sitting next to him, and with everyone jammed at the table, she is right up close. And then she slips off her sandals under the table and sort of nuzzles her foot against his.
He loses his appetite, for food anyway.”

In addition to the creepy foot comments there was one ‘memorable’ scene in particular where Allyson was behind Willem on the bike he was riding and she decides to make out with his back, I guess since his mouth wasn’t available.

‘She can nuzzle against his back and lick his vertebra if she wants to. (She does, so she does.)’

‘Willem is just desperate for it to end. He is so full of wanting that it is painful and Allyson keeps lifting his shirt and licking his back, which she shouldn’t do while he’s riding a bike because he might pass out. (But she shouldn’t stop, either.)’

This is the fourth Gayle Forman book I’ve read yet was the poorest showcasing of her writing skills. The point of view was often unclear and would switch up at random without any section breaks resulting in a strange disjointed feel to this short tale. Plus, I’m not sure what was up with the strange sentences she decided belonged in parenthesis for no apparent reason.

Just One Night was intended to give fans the happily ever after that was lacking in Just One Year but it just didn’t do it for me. It failed to create emotional resonance I would have expected for two people that spent the past year searching for one another. Maybe it’s because I can’t look past the creepy feet comments or the fact that it seemed to be about nothing more than the two sleeping with each other. Maybe it’s because I never cared for their story or either one of their characters but I didn’t feel there was anything truly romantic about this love story.

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley {PurchaseMy Review}
Golden by Jessi Kirby {PurchaseMy Review}
This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales {PurchaseMy Review}

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Book Review – Snow in April by Rosamunde Pilcher

Posted May 9, 2014 by Bonnie in Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 / 1 Comment

Book Review – Snow in April by Rosamunde PilcherSnow in April by Rosamunde Pilcher
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on May 22, 1972
Pages: 245
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


two-half-stars

When you read a novel by Rosamunde Pilcher you enter a special world where emotions sing from the heart. A world that lovingly captures the ties that bind us to one another-the joys and sorrows, heartbreaks and misunderstandings, and glad, perfect moments when we are in true harmony. A world filled with evocative, engrossing, and above all, enjoyable portraits of people's lives and loves, tenderly laid open for us...

 

Caroline travels to Scotland, hoping to make contact with a brother she hasn't seen for years, and return in time for her wedding to the man her strong-willed stepmother thought so suitable. Then a sudden snow strands her in an isolated house with a young man recovering from tragedy. Both are on the brink of terrible mistakes, but perhaps they can save each other.

Caroline is due to marry within the next week to a man she’s unsure she loves but takes a spontaneous trip to Scotland with her younger brother after hearing word that their estranged older brother was living there. After an unfortunate accident in a blizzard leaves the two stranded, they meet a man named Oliver living nearby who takes them in.

I’ve heard lovely things about Rosamunde Pilcher’s books, most especially The Shell Seekers, but I made the decision to pick up Snow in April for one important reason: it satisfied the ‘April, May or June in Title’ square on my Bookish Bingo card. hahaha Okay, I’m sure that’s a horrible reason but this was still a light, fluffy read that I enjoyed for the most part. Snow in April was written in 1972 so switching from a modern mindset is necessary as most of the goings on are fairly ridiculous.

It reminded me a lot of a soap opera with the constant dramatic shenanigans yet was lacking in the steamy goodness that you’d typically expect with a soap opera or a trashy romance novel. It had the feel of a guilty pleasure type novel just minus the whole point of those types of novels (don’t lie to yourself, the steamy scenes are the only reason we read trashy romances). The romance is very simple and develops QUICKLY even though Caroline is engaged to be married. But her husband? Is her step-mothers brother. Plus Caroline is 20 and he’s 33. Was that a thing in the 70’s or something because… no.

So Caroline travels to Scotland, gets stranded and is cared for by the (supposed to be-I didn’t see it) swoony Oliver. At one point in her two-day visit, she starts feeling sick and refuses to eat dinner, attributing her sickness to her impending nuptials and ‘nerves’. Oliver proceeds to force feed her spoonfuls of soup as Caroline literally sobs during the whole thing. That was such a wtf moment because, you know, she only just met this man who just barged into her bedroom and tried to choke her with soup. It was just laughable, not swoony. There’s also of course the requisite girl that’s interested in Oliver and she begins fearing that Caroline is getting in the way of her happily ever after (because she can totally tell he likes Caroline a lot… after 2 days) so she sets out to run her out of town.

Snow in April is no literary masterpiece but it’s 245 pages (with extremely large font to boot) that managed to entertain me on a quiet Saturday night. There might not have been any swoony goodness but there is a happily ever after and those are enjoyable to read every once in a great while.

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Audiobook Review – The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Posted April 22, 2014 by Bonnie in Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 / 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.

Audiobook Review – The Rosie Project by Graeme SimsionThe Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on October 1st 2013
Length: 7 hrs and 32 mins
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Funny-ha-ha
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads


two-stars

THE ART OF LOVE IS NEVER A SCIENCE

MEET DON TILLMAN, a brilliant yet socially challenged professor of genetics, who's decided it's time he found a wife. And so, in the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers.

Rosie Jarman is all these things. She also is strangely beguiling, fiery, and intelligent. And while Don quickly disqualifies her as a candidate for the Wife Project, as a DNA expert Don is particularly suited to help Rosie on her own quest: identifying her biological father. When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on the Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love, it finds you.

Arrestingly endearing and entirely unconventional, Graeme Simsion's distinctive debut will resonate with anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of great challenges. The Rosie Project is a rare find: a book that restores our optimism in the power of human connection.

“If you really love someone […] you have to be prepared to accept them as they are. Maybe you hope that one day they get a wake-up call and make the changes for their own reasons.”

Don Tillman is a socially awkward and emotionally challenged individual that decides one day it is well past time he find himself a wife. Approaching this situation (as he does everything in his life) in an organized and scientific based manner, he develops a survey in hopes to weed out the most incompatible. Rosie Jarman is sarcastic and free-spirited and despite the fact that she was deemed incompatible by the survey, the duo form an unlikely relationship when they team up to find Rosie’s biological father.

Heyyyy. Check me and my 2-star rating out. I’m clearly the black sheep of the crowd because everyone seems to adore this book.

I’d like to attribute my lack of love for this book by the circumstances of the moment as I was feeling far too cynical but I’m not sure if that’s completely the case. There’s a soft squishy part of my heart that likes the idea of love conquering all but the rational part always overcomes. Especially with this story. Don doesn’t realize he has Asperger’s syndrome, but everyone else in his life does. He leads an uncompromising life full of schedules and deadlines, despises time wasting situations and has a terrible time handling physical contact of any sort (as if the fact that he’s trying to search out his future wife via a survey didn’t make that abundantly clear).

I am extremely socially inept and should have been able to relate to Dan. I think where they lost me is the author’s attempt to slap an unnecessary designation on his lack of social graces. Is the belief that he would not have been as funny or charming if there wasn’t a scientific justification behind his excessive awkwardness? His lack of social skills could have simply been a quirky part of his nature, but instead the fact that it was given a ‘reason’ it was in turn labeled as a ‘problem’. Yes, maybe I’m reading far too much into this but it just felt off. The ending made it all the more apparent. View Spoiler »

The story traveled a predictable path and lacked any interesting characteristics to set it apart from other contemporary romances, even with the slight unconventional aspect.

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Book Review – The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice

Posted April 11, 2014 by Bonnie in Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 / 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.

Book Review – The Lemon Orchard by Luanne RiceThe Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice
Published by Pamela Dorman Books on July 2, 2013
Pages: 304
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads


two-stars

From bestselling author Luanne Rice—a captivating and sexy novel of love, both enduring and unexpected

Year after year, Luanne Rice’s fans eagerly await her next book. Their enthusiasm is soon to be rewarded with The Lemon Orchard, Rice’s romantic new love story between two people from seemingly different worlds.

In the five years since Julia last visited her aunt and uncle’s home in Malibu, her life has been turned upside down by her daughter’s death. She expects to find nothing more than peace and solitude as she house-sits with only her dog, Bonnie, for company. But she finds herself drawn to the handsome man who oversees the lemon orchard. Roberto expertly tends the trees, using the money to support his extended Mexican family. What connection could these two people share? The answer comes as Roberto reveals the heartbreaking story of his own loss—a pain Julia knows all too well, but for one striking difference: Roberto’s daughter was lost but never found. And despite the odds he cannot bear to give up hope.

Set in the sea and citrus-scented air of the breathtaking Santa Monica Mountains, The Lemon Orchard is an affirming story about the redemptive power of compassion and the kind of love that seems to find us when we need it most.

Julia is still reeling five years after the death of her daughter and husband. While visiting her Aunt and Uncle in Malibu she forms a bond with Roberto, a man who is also suffering through the loss of a daughter. Julia’s daughter died and is truly gone, however, Roberto’s daughter was lost in the desert while attempting to cross over into the United States from Mexico.

The relationship between Julia and Roberto was initially very moving and their bond was very apparent. I loved seeing the two come together and heal one another because of shared grief but their relationship quickly became stagnant and never developed (as relationships typically do). The characters in general were never unrealistic but they definitely lacked a convincing quality that made me invested in their story.

What played a huge part in this story is Mexican immigration and I can honestly say if I had known this I would have never picked this book up. It’s just not a topic of interest for me, especially when it’s portrayed in this manner. At one point in the story it’s stated that the Irish immigration is just like the Mexican immigration because of the similar types of prejudice that they face. Now, I’m no history professor but that gave even me pause. Based on my understanding, immigration laws were vastly different in the 19th century and not only that but the Irish didn’t have welfare programs to take advantage of like there are in existence today. When the Irish immigrated to America there weren’t laws in place that prevented them legally from doing so and they had to work hard and be self-sufficient in order for them and their families to survive. The current immigration from Mexico does not conform with our current laws so that alone is a huge difference and should prevent any sort of comparison so I’ll just leave it at that.

The Lemon Orchard is clearly outside of the author’s comfort zone, touching on hot topic issues like immigration, the stereotypes associated with individuals that immigrate and the mixing of different social classes. While I can appreciate the fact that these topics are being discussed, I’m not sure it succeeded in challenging anything (except for succeeding in following the same stereotypical path) and never quite made me sympathetic as I’m sure was intended.

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Cover Reveal – Love, In English by Karina Halle

Posted January 8, 2014 by Bonnie in Cover Reveal, New Adult / 1 Comment

Cover Reveal – Love, In English by Karina HalleLove, In English by Karina Halle
Published by Metal Blonde Books on April 20th 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Goodreads

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

He’s thirty-eight. I’m twenty-three.
He speaks Spanish. I speak English.
He lives in Spain. I live in Canada.
He dresses in thousand-dollar suits. I’m covered in tattoos.
He’s married and has a five-year old daughter.
I’m single and can’t commit to anyone or anything.
Until now.

Because when they say you can’t choose who you fall in love with, boy ain’t that the f*#king truth.

To a restless dreamer like Vera Miles, it sounded like the experience of a lifetime. Instead of spending her summer interning for her astronomy major, she would fly to Spain where she’d spend a few weeks teaching conversational English to businessmen and women, all while enjoying free room and board at an isolated resort. But while Vera expected to get a tan, meet new people and stuff herself with wine and paella, she never expected to fall in love.

Mateo is unlike anyone Vera has ever known, let alone anyone she’s usually attracted to. While Vera is a pierced and tatted free spirit with a love for music and freedom, Mateo Casales is a successful businessman from Madrid, all sharp suits and cocky Latino charm. Yet, as the weeks go on, the two grow increasingly close and their relationship changes from purely platonic to something…more.

Something that makes Vera feel alive for the first time.
Something that can never, ever be.
Or so she thinks.

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.

The silence crackled above our heads like a live wire. I could feel Jorge’s eyes on us as he reluctantly placed Mateo’s drink on the table and walked away. Part of me wished for him to come back, to break up the tension and the startling intensity in Mateo’s eyes. The other part was selfishly glad Jorge was leaving us in peace. When he disappeared back into the restaurant, Mateo and I were the only ones on the patio.

I broke away from his eyes, focusing instead on his bottle of Aguila and the condensation that ran down the sides, looking blissfully cool in the sticky night air. Through all the weeks of joking, talking, the innocent physical contact, now I was astutely nervous about being alone with him. It wasn’t so much that I was afraid of him – I was afraid of me. Ever since that remark at dinner, I’d been afraid of what I’d do to him, how I’d break that moral code I promised for myself.

He’s married, he’s married, he’s married, I told myself, watching a drop of water race from the beer to the table. His wife is beautiful and lovely, his daughter is sweet and you aren’t either of those things.
But I could only tell myself that so many times.
“Vera,” he said thickly. “Vera, look at me.” His voice was commanding, reaching a depth I hadn’t heard before.

My eyes slowly slid over to him. I tried to speak but could only suck in my lip, probably taking all my lipstick off.

“Show me the stars again,” he said. His eyes speared me like nothing else, his face becoming dangerously handsome.

I looked up to the clear sky, to see the stars, but he reached out and grabbed my hand. His touch was hot, like his fingers were searing into my skin, that feeling of entering a hot tub on a cold night. I couldn’t help the shiver that ran gently down my spine.

“Not those stars,” he said huskily, leaning forward. His lips were wet and slightly open. “Your stars. Why I call you Estrella.”

I swallowed hard, my pulse burning along. I turned around in my chair so my back was to him and lifted up my hair, gathering it on the top of my head.

His chair scraped loudly on the ground as he got up, a sound that struck a new kind of fear in me.

No. Not fear.

Anticipation.

I heard him stop right behind me. I held my breath, wondering what he was going to do.
One rough finger pressed down against the back of my neck, right on the spine where the tattoo began. I closed my eyes to the feeling, the currents it caused, traveling all the way down, making me wet. Jesus, I needed to get a hold of myself.

“What star is this?” he asked, sounding like silk. I could wrap myself in his voice.

“Alpharatz,” I whispered, as if I was letting him in on a secret. Maybe I was.

His finger slid diagonally down, a trail of fire across the Pegasus line. “And this one?”

“Markab.”

“Why Pegasus?”

I paused, the truth on my lips. Fuck it. We’d been nothing but honest with each other. “Because I want to fly free. And there’s no place higher than the stars.”

He didn’t say anything for a few beats. I was tempted to turn around, to look at him, but I didn’t want him to take his finger off my neck. I was leaving in three days. He was going back to his family. This was all I had, his skin on my stars.

He leaned in, his hot breath at my neck. “Are you afraid that love will clip your wings?”

His words sank into me, making my blood buzz. Love. This was too hazardous a subject to discuss with him, not now. Not ever. With my breath shaking, I inched my neck away from his mouth and turned to face him.
“No,” I said, looking him straight in the eye. “I’m afraid that losing love will.”

His expression softened. He looked at my lips, his beautifully long eyelashes casting shadows on his tawny skin.

“Then that makes two of us,” he whispered softly and for a long second I thought he was going to get it over with and finally kiss me, put an end to this strain between us, the yearning that made me ache inside. But he straightened up, his gaze avoiding mine, and went to retrieve his beer from the table.

The author will be giving away one signed paperback ARC of Love, In English (winner will receive ARC in March)

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Book Review + Giveaway! Sweet Nothings by Janis Thomas

Posted December 20, 2013 by Bonnie in Adult, Book Reviews, Giveaways, Read in 2013 / 5 Comments

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

Book Review + Giveaway! Sweet Nothings by Janis ThomasSweet Nothings by Janis Thomas
Published by Berkley on July 2, 2013
Pages: 384
Genres: Chick-Lit, Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: FSB Associates
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

Life’s sweetest moments happen when you least expect them . . .

When Ruby McMillan’s husband announces one morning that he’s dumping her for another woman, she’s unable to decide which indignity stings the most: the dissolution of their eighteen-year marriage or the deflation of her white-chocolate soufflé with raspberry Grand Marnier sauce. Without a good-bye to their two teenaged children, Walter leaves Ruby to cope with her ruined dessert, an unpaid mortgage, and her failing bakery.

With only royal icing holding her together, Ruby still manages to pick herself up and move on, subsidizing her income with an extra job as a baking instructor, getting a “my-husband’s-gone” makeover, and even flirting with her gorgeous mortgage broker, Jacob Salt. For as long as she can remember, Ruby has done what’s practical, eschewing far-fetched dreams and true love in favor of stability. But suddenly single again at the age of forty-four, she’s beginning to discover that life is most delicious when you stop following a recipe and just live.

About Janis Thomas

Janis Thomas is a graduate of UCLA who was actually born in the University’s Medical Center. Upon graduating, she moved to Manhattan to get a taste of city life, and so liked the flavor, she stayed for eleven years. While there, she performed in several plays, including the Off-Broadway production of Your Children, was cast in the National Tour of Forbidden Broadway, and played out in some of the hottest clubs in the city with her sister and their band she said. While bartending on the upper west side she met her now-husband. She made him a margarita and they’ve been together ever since. Janis has written over fifty songs and two children’s books (with her dad). When she is not writing or fulfilling her PTA duties, she likes to channel her inner Ace of Cakes to create fun and fabulous desserts. She currently resides in Orange County with her Jersey-transplant husband, their two beautiful children, and dog Ruby. Mom, Dad, siblings, and treasured loved ones live nearby.

‘So, too, have I gathered the ingredients of my life and carefully flavored them, patiently beat my whites, and lovingly folded together all the elements of my existence. Put my proverbial batter into the appropriately prepared ramekin and gently placed my world into the oven. And yet I must have done something wrong, made some false move or ignored an important step in the recipe, because my life has suddenly collapsed around me into a charred, inedible ruin.’

Ruby McMillan’s husband announces one day that he’s leaving her for another woman.  Their marriage had been slowly dissolving for the past years so it’s not as devastating emotionally, but she’s left scrambling for a hold on life while managing her failing bakery and trying to figure out how to inform her children that their father has left them. Things start looking up when Ruby moves her husbands stuff out of the house, gets a makeover and decides to take a chance on the unexpected by signing up to teach a cake class. She also meets Jacob Salt, a man that makes her feel something she hasn’t in years.

This was such a fun and light-hearted read despite the serious nature of the topic. It could have easily been a sob story about trust being shattered and hearts being broken but I found myself laughing out loud at times and reading with a smile on my face. It was so refreshing to read a book about a heroine that is faced with a devastating loss but is able to overcome it all while still maintaining her sense of humor. Ruby’s character was fantastically written and was quite the inspiration.

Obviously, my favorite aspect of this book is the foodie bits. I’ll read the occasional chick lit of course but foodie books? Anytime. Ruby is a baker and ends up being a teacher of a cooking class so we’re given all kinds of fabulous baking details that made me want to hop up and bake some muffins (because I couldn’t bake half of the amazing things Ruby could so I had to settle for muffins.) Not only were the details absorbing but she was constantly coming up with new recipes as a sort of coping mechanism. Every time she’d get overwhelmed or stressed about something, her creative subconscious would come up with something amazing sounding to try.

‘Homemade marshmallow cream and roasted almonds sandwiched between bite-size graham-cracker squares, enrobed with Callebaut milk chocolate.’

Mmmm..

I pretty much loved everything about this book and I read it during a time where I needed to be reminded that despite hardships in life it’s possible to remain strong and power through. It was the perfect book for my current mood and Ruby delivered the emotional boost I needed. This is my first book read by this author but I’ll definitely be picking up her other works. Highly suggested for those looking for a fun and entertaining (and inspirational) chick-lit type read.

1 copy of Sweet Nothings open to U.S. and Canada addresses only!
Giveaway ends January 3rd, 2014
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Book Review – How to Love by Katie Cotugno

Posted October 12, 2013 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Read in 2013, YA / 6 Comments

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

Book Review – How to Love by Katie CotugnoHow to Love by Katie Cotugno
Published by Balzer + Bray on October 1st 2013
Pages: 389
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: ARC
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: 99 Days

five-stars

Before: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he’s never seemed to notice that Reena even exists…until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated—and pregnant—Reena behind.

After: Almost three years have passed, and there’s a new love in Reena’s life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena’s gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she’s finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn’t want anything to do with him, though she’d be lying if she said Sawyer’s being back wasn’t stirring something in her. After everything that’s happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?

In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice.

Reena Montero is brilliant and full of substantial dreams for her future. Sawyer Le Grande is charismatic yet hindered by terrible addictions. Reena has been in love with Sawyer for as long as she can remember. The day he finally notices her was the day both of their lives were forever transformed. By the time Reena realizes she’s pregnant, Sawyer has disappeared without a trace and she’s left to suffer the consequences. How to Love alternates between Before chapters, when Reena and Sawyer are together, and After chapters, when Reena is a struggling single-mother before her 17th birthday.

Oh my gosh, this book. I went into this with the preconceived notion that it’d just be a mediocre read because honestly, YA contemporary romances are not my thing. I’ve always found the majority of the romances are typically shallow and superficial, lacking any honest or true love. But this? This book managed to elicit such profound feelings from me that I was left feeling utterly bewildered at how impeccably Reena and Sawyer’s story managed to speak to me.

*sigh* Sawyer. He reminded me so much of another character that I read recently, Sutter from The Spectacular Now, and how self-destructive he was yet so charismatic and charming. (Although admittedly Sawyer was a far more redeeming character.) Sure he made some really jerk moves in the Before bits, but I couldn’t help thinking his heart was in the right place. He’s a highly dysfunctional character and it’s easy to place the blame because of his addictions but once you get to that point that he’s at, choosing not to do it is not as easy as saying yes or no because it’s become a part of who he is. It’s clear that the struggle to slay the demons within him is ongoing, but his love for Reena was forever evident even when he chose to leave without a word.

‘I think of how it felt to lose him, slow and painful and confusing, and how it felt to wonder if I’d ever really had him at all.’

I heard all the negative things about Sawyer before going into this book and how he dragged Reena into his reckless behavior but I was somehow able to completely look past that and understand him and his situation a bit more than I was entirely comfortable with. I’ve been in a relationship much like theirs and yes, it’s a destructive type. Going to the parties when I’d rather be home. Going because it’s the only way to ensure that he stays somewhat safe. Knowing that you being his rock, his stability, is the only thing you can do for him as the demons within cannot be slayed. When you love a person, you’re willing to stand with them through thick and thin and help them the only way you can think to.

Sawyer may not have shown any visible progress in becoming a better person but Reena was the only thing in his life that helped him become the redeeming character we see in the After chapters. He came back into Reena’s life intent on earning her love back. He was truthful and forthcoming with the issues he had and how he needed to leave to fix them. He was repentant but never actually apologized I believe because no sorry could ever fix what was done, only him being the support that Reena needed would change that. It was clear that he battled with the guilt of his actions.

This was a hard review to write and I’m still not convinced I’m discussing everything I want to. This book left me with the worst bookish hangover I can remember in recent history. It managed to evoke a shocking amount of emotion from me and left me contemplating for days.

How To Love is a beautiful and powerfully written story of love ingraining itself onto your very being.

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Book Review – Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Posted September 14, 2013 by Bonnie in Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 / 16 Comments

Book Review – Attachments by Rainbow RowellAttachments by Rainbow Rowell
Published by Dutton Adult on April 14th 2011
Length: 336
Genres: Chick-Lit, Contemporary Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Landline, Eleanor & Park

five-stars

"Hi, I'm the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . "

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It's company policy.) But they can't quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O'Neill can't believe this is his job now- reading other people's e-mail. When he applied to be "internet security officer," he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth's and Jennifer's messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can't help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late to introduce himself.

What would he say . . . ?

This is not a genre that I typically jump for but I was in dire need of some serious fluff since I had finished The Book Thief and Rose Under Fire in the same day. Plus, I haven’t heard anything other than amazing things about Rainbow Rowell.

Attachments was an absolute treat and I really loved it. The chapters alternate between Jennifer and Beth’s conversations over e-mail which are written in the form of almost instant messages and then normally written chapters from the point of view of Lincoln. Lincoln was a charming character but Jennifer and Beth were the absolute frosting on the cake. Extremely witty and entertaining, Jennifer and Beth were two girls that I would love to be friends with. Jennifer is married and currently having issues dealing with a husband that wants to start having children while she’s still not sure. Beth is in a long-term relationship with a guitarist in an up and coming band and wants to settle down but she doesn’t think he’ll ever want to. Their conversations were constantly cracking me up. Here’s an example of how Jennifer and Beth’s chapters appear and a little snippet of the humor.

Jennifer to Beth
Now that I think about, we’ve known each other six years, and I’ve never seen you in a bathing suit. Or a tank top.
Beth to Jennifer
Not a coincidence, my friend. Iv’e got the arms of a Sicilian grandmother. Arms for picking olives and stirring hearty tomato sauces. Shoulders for carrying buckets of water from the stream to the farmhouse.
Jennifer to Beth
Has Chris seen your shoulders?
Beth to Jennifer
He’s seen them. But he hasn’t seen them.
Jennifer to Beth
I get it, but I don’t get it.
Beth to Jennifer
No sleeveless negligees. No direct sunlight. Sometimes when I’m getting out of the shower, I shout, “Hey, look, a bobcat!”
Jennifer to Beth
I bet he falls for that every time.
Beth to Jennifer
It’s Chris. So recreational drugs are a factor.

And my favorite, because I’m a total Jennifer.

Jennifer to Beth
Even construction workers don’t whistle at me.
Beth to Jennifer
That’s because you ooze preemptive leave-me-alone death rays.

Lincoln was an interesting main character since I can’t recall the last Chick-Lit type novel I read that featured a male character. It was a success though. Lincoln is in his late 20’s and has just graduated (again) from college and has moved back home to live with his mom. He plays Dungeons & Dragons on the weekend, doesn’t like to go out to bars and is terrible at connecting with females. He stumbles upon Jennifer and Beth’s emails in the course of his daily job duties and while they were clearly violating the personal email rule he never reported them. Instead, he continued reading about their lives that interested him in a way he couldn’t understand. While I was anxious to find out what happens when the two finally do meet, the ending was a bit overly mushy and leaned a bit too much towards ‘perfect’.

Attachments is a charming and adorable tale of finding love in the least expected ways and a touching story of female friendship.

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Book Review – Love Story (Love Story #1) by Erich Segal

Posted August 29, 2013 by Bonnie in Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 / 2 Comments

Book Review – Love Story (Love Story #1) by Erich SegalLove Story by Erich Segal
Series: Love Story #1
Pages: 144
Genres: Classics, Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


two-stars

He is Oliver Barett IV, a rich jock from a stuffy WASP family on his way to a Harvard degree and a career in law.

She is Jenny Cavilleri, a wisecracking working-class beauty studying music at Radcliffe.

Opposites in nearly every way, Oliver and Jenny immediately attract, sharing a love that defies everything... yet will end too soon. Here is a love that will linger in your heart now and forever.

*I plan to discuss parts of this book in detail so spoilers!*

Oliver Barett IV is a rich jock from a well-to-do family. Jenny Cavilleri is a poor, wise ass sorta chick. This is definitely a case of opposites attract with a touch of Romeo and Juliet syndrome; they were destined to fail from the beginning. But they meet; they fall in love, etc. etc. And as the summary so eloquently puts it: “…sharing a love that defies everything yet will end too soon.”

“What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died?”

That is the very first line of the book so right off the bat you know you’re in for an emotional tale. But that’s the funny thing… it all seemed very impassive to me. Vapid. Insipid. And that’s the furthest from what I was expecting to feel from such a renowned and supposed emotional tale. The thing that really bothered me the most about this story was I never fully believed those two actually loved each other; it felt far too contrived. Oliver’s father’s declaration that he is NOT to marry Jenny otherwise he would basically disown him seemed like the catalyst for Oliver’s proposal and nothing more. To me, it wasn’t a proposal that was emotionally charged but rather a petty attempt to do the opposite of what daddy tells him just because he can.

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

Of course I had to include/discuss the most famous line of the book since I don’t quite agree with it. I think love means you’re more likely to be forgiven but I don’t think that should excuse you completely from an apology. But if love means never having to say you’re sorry, then that would mean that any future actions are automatically forgiven and following that same vein means you could do whatever you want because it’s okay, he/she loves me. Honestly, we all fuck up at one point or another in relationships because this shit is no cake walk but love doesn’t automatically excuse you from wrong. Love means you can fuck up, you can apologize, you can talk about it if need be and you can behave like mature adults and grow and learn from the experience. Love means never having to say you’re sorry? No. That’s a total cop out.

There was also a ton of cussing, which I don’t have issue with considering I cuss like a sailor, but the dialogue sounded like a 6th grader trying to include cuss words in their everyday speech and ends up overdoing it. It was very forced and awkward feeling. Oliver and Jenny even replaced cute nicknames for cuss words as well. At one point he casually referred to Jenny as “my wife, the bitch” and  I think he frequently called him a bastard. Or an asshole. Possibly both? I can accept that they obviously had a ‘different’ sorta love for each other and that’s just how they expressed themselves but it was very off-putting. The other issue I had was with the doctor and Oliver’s decision not to tell Jenny of her own illness, but I realize since this book is 43 years old there are customs that occurred then that I’d never be able to fully grasp and understand.

Erich Segal was the Nicholas Sparks of his era with his tales of epic love. He’s not known for his literary masterpieces but he was a prominent name a few decades back and it was just one of those that I had to try out for myself. Plus, I was told that this book would absolutely make me cry (which books don’t make me do often) so I had to accept that challenge. I won by the way. Will I try more of his works? Maybe. Sappy tales aren’t normally my thing but every once in a while when I’m dealing with a chemical imbalance in my brain it makes me want to pick up this kind of stuff, so maybe someday.

Have you read Love Story or any other novels by Segal? If so, are there any you would recommend?

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