The Proposal

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

2 stars 

This book started out strong and halfway through completely fizzled out for me. I really enjoyed this author’s debut book The Wedding Date, and at first I thought this one was similar, but by the end it wasn’t even in the same ballpark (pun intended).

I love that Berkley is publishing more work by authors of color and books with characters who are persons of color, so I was glad to see this book. I hope Berkley continues to publish books like these because they are needed. The story in this one just wasn’t more me, I wish things had been more fleshed out.

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review 

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The Great Alone

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

4.5 stars! 

“All this time, Dad had taught Leni how dangerous the outside world was. The truth was that the biggest danger of all was in her own home.” 

Thirteen year old Leni is used to moving around. Her father Ernt was a POW in Vietnam and when he came back from the war, he didn’t come back right. On a whim, he moves Leni and her mother up to Alaska in search of a simpler and better life.

But Alaska is more than they all bargained for, and as winter approaches it becomes clear they are not prepared. But as the days grow shorter, so does Ernt’s temper and Leni and her mother have more to fear than the dangers of Alaska.

“Love and fear. The most destructive forces on earth. Fear had turned her inside out, love had made her stupid.” 

Kristin Hannah is an author I’ve always been meaning to read and never got to before. I can now say I totally regret not picking up one of her books until now. The Great Alone captivated me from the first page and had me staying up late and sacrificing sleep to finish it.

It’s odd because thinking back on the book, I didn’t quite love or understand any of the characters. Except for maybe Large Marge because that woman was freaking awesome. But Leni who started out strong for me changed about 75% in. I think what really makes this book amazing is the story and the writing style. I felt like I was in Alaska with the rest of the characters and experiencing everything with them.

“It’s scary that people can just stop loving you, you know?”

Professor Feelgood

Professor Feelgood by Leisa Rayven

4 stars! 

“ A soulmate is someone who sees all the parts you’re ashamed of, and loves you anyway.” 

Book editor Asha is looking for the next big thing in the publishing world. While doing research for her next book to publish, she gets an idea to approach an Instagram poet who anonymously posts online. Hoping he will be the next bestseller she messages him and after some convincing he agrees. After everything is finalized, she realizes her dream man is a giant jerk, and now she has to work with him one on one.

“How do you protect yourself from the person who was born with an all-access pass to your heart?” 

Leisa Rayven is a magical unicorn writer, everything she writes, I love. Professor Feelgood was a great next installment in the Masters of Love series (it can be read as a standalone) and I loved Asha and the Professor so so much. My favorite part about this book was the theme of looking inward and recognizing your mistakes. Also the power of perspective was an excellent theme of this book, one that doesn’t get covered a lot in romance.

I love Rayven’s stories and her writing. If I could I would go all Kathy Bates on her and have her write me stories all day long, I just don’t want to break her legs haha.

“You’re the one thing in this world that helps me make sense.” 

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

My Oxford Year

My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan

3 stars 

This is a book that’s been getting a lot of great buzz, a lot of my book friends really loved it and I’ve been hearing good things all around. I was a fan of Julia on the show Once and Again and I had the pleasure of meeting Julia at another author event for a book she narrated and she’s absolutely lovely. All those things combined, I was very eager to read this book and really wanted to love this book and I had high hopes. And while I didn’t love it, I enjoyed it and I think this was a really great debut from this author.

There were a lot of moments when we as readers were supposed to feel a lot, and I felt a bit like a sociopath in those moments because I didn’t really feel anything and I knew I was meant to. Plus, a lot of the dialogue and some of the vocabulary was way above my head and I felt, well, unintelligent at moments while I was reading this book.

I think Julia Whelan is a fantastic writer, I think she delivered a very interesting and engaging story. I also think a lot of readers will love this book and I while I didn’t love it, I will be recommending it quite a lot because I think many of my friends and close ones would really enjoy this story.

Fans of Taylor Jenkins Reid, Jojo Moyes and Sally Thorne, this is your next book to pick up!

A copy for review was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss

Leah on the Offbeat

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

4 stars! 

This is the book that made me realize Becky Albertalli is a one click author for me! I had no clue this book was happening but the minute I found out I ordered the hardcover from Barnes and Noble so fast my head was spinning! I love being so excited about a new release that I drop EVERYTHING just to read that authors next book.

Leah on the Offbeat is a sequel to Simon Vs the Homosapien Agenda, except this book is about his best friend Leah. Leah is an artsy, sarcastic bisexual girl, she’s just not out to her friends yet. The majority of this book takes place at the end of senior year of high school, a major turning point for many teens. Leah’s group of friends finds itself at odds, and Leah ends up realizing she has stronger feelings for someone in the group and doesn’t know how to feel about it.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I liked Leah as a character, it was great to see this world from her perspective and the other characters too. I think many readers might not like Leah because she’s not a typical heroine, but I loved her because she wasn’t a typical heroine and was her own person, good parts and faults.

If you love banter filled and character driven young adult novels, this is the book for you!

Loving Mr. Daniels

Loving Mr. Daniels by Brittainy C Cherry

4.5 stars! 

“Leave the past behind you so the future can find you.” 

Once upon a time…. a friend recommended this book to me. Well, four years later and I finally read it!!!!!!! See, I eventually get to books on my TBR!

Loving Mr. Daniels is about two broken people who have lost family members closest to them. When Ashlynn moves in with her dad, the last thing she expected was to fall for a Shakespearean inspired musician. And she’s even more surprised when he turns out to be her teacher.

I know what you’re thinking, that you’ve read this book already. Yes, you’ve read this trope, but Cherry puts her own beautiful spin on it and I loved this book. Bravo Ms Cherry! I do wish she wasn’t so good at making me cry, but I think that’s a testament to her writing skills.

I hope you all give this book a chance! I did, years later and I loved it! It’s never too late!

“I love you slowly. I love you deeply. I love you quietly. I love you powerfully. I love you unconditionally.” 

The Gravity of Us

The Gravity of Us by Brittainy C Cherry

4.5 stars 

“She was the girl who felt everything, and I was the man who felt nothing at all.” 

The Gravity of Us is the story of Lucille and Graham, an optimist and a pessimist. Circumstances throw them together and Graham ends up needing Lucille even if he doesn’t want to admit it. While Lucille drives him crazy, over time she begins to grow on him and a mutual attraction develops.

“It’s just funny, isn’t it? How the main characters never know about the adventures they’re about to go on.” 

It’s funny because I don’t normally enjoy very sweet books. And this book is so sweet, but it wasn’t cheesy. And I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much, because I was able to enjoy the sweet and it didn’t make me overdose on it. And while this book was sweet, it was also full of FEELS. ALL THE FEELS. Not the angsty feels, but many feels and I enjoyed that very much.

What stuck for me most and what made this 4.5 was the beautiful story, the beautiful words, and the beautiful characters. No one was perfect, but they were appreciated for who they were. The romance was built on respect and friendship and that made such a strong foundation. A wonderful slowburn romance.

Amazing book and it didn’t take long to read, so I recommend you carve out some time and read it asap!

“I imagined what it would be like to be happy, and I think you are the definition of happiness.” 

Drive

Drive by Kate Stewart

ALL THE STARS! 

“Music is the heart’s greatest librarian.” 

Top recommendation and one of the best books of the year for me! Drive made me fall in love with the romance genre again. I’m not exaggerating when I say this, since August I have only had one 5 star romance read, and it was MM not MF. I had given up hope on this genre and on the indie romance community but after reading Drive I’m back and ready for more!

Drive is the story of Stella, a music journalist gets some shocking news and decides to drive home instead of taking her flight. Along the way she remembers her past and the events that led to her present circumstances. That’s all I’m going to tell you, I went in blind and I think the experience of reading this book is more enjoyable this way.

“A gravitational pull lured me to him. I wanted inside his head. And that was just the start of what I wanted.” 

Kate Stewart is an author I find myself recommending all the time and wish more people would read. Her writing is very versatile, each book a unique and heartfelt experience. Drive follows in the same vein, at the heart of it is music. The songs mentioned at the beginning of the chapters (the ones I knew and didn’t have to pick up) I could hear in my mind as I was reading. I don’t listen to music when reading because I find it hard to focus on one or the other, but if you enjoy music while reading, I recommend the spotify playlist Kate made for this book.

This was the book that I wanted to read into the early hours of the morning, the one where I was cursing my job that I love because I wanted to stay up late reading this book but needed sleep instead. It didn’t take me long to realize while reading this book was something special, and I was only halfway through when I started sending book recommendations of it to other readers on Goodreads. This is the book that you know will stay with you forever, the one that when you hear certain songs you’ll remember how you felt when reading it.

Stella is a heroine that is flawed, emotional and beautiful. I loved her outlook on life, that even though bad things had happened to her she tried her hardest and kept going. We see her struggling as a college student, to working her way up the music world. And while this book is a love story, it’s also about how Stella found her way back to her true self. How she picked up the pieces and told the world to go screw itself and fought her way to the top.

Not sure what else to say, it’s obvious I loved this book. If you haven’t picked up a book by Kate yet I want to smack you. Just make sure you don’t end 2017 without reading this book. You won’t regret it.

“He was my song, my soul, my everything, and his love had propelled me forward into the woman I wanted to be.” 

Bountiful

Bountiful by Sarina Bowen

4 stars! 

“The truth was that men didn’t date people like me. I was the girl they “hung out with” as Dave had put it last night. The bartender was a good time and fun in bed, but not a forever girl.” 

Sarina Bowen always writes the best romance! Bountiful is about bartender Zara and a sexy ginger named Dave. One summer for an entire month the two had a steamy fling, but then he left and he left something behind. Two years later Zara is a single mother and hasn’t been able to find Dave to tell him he’s the father.

Then one day, Dave shows up and Zara tells him he’s a father. But Dave’s past makes him doubt his parenting abilities and Zara doesn’t trust that he will stick around. The two have to work together to see if they can reach common ground.

“Nobody could make me feel inferior without my permission. I’d made my peace with single motherhood, and it didn’t matter what anyone said behind my back.” 

From the moment I opened up the book I fell in love with Zara and Dave. I love prickly heroines and Zara was awesome. Dave was equally awesome, every barb Zara threw his way he shrugged off and smiled. I wouldn’t say baby romances are my favorite subgenre, but I enjoy them and the angst they deliver all the same. Plus I think Bowen did an amazing job writing the parent/child dynamic and Nicole was just beyond adorable.

This book starts off with a bang, and then slows down in pacing a little bit near the middle. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I am so glad Zara got her own story and it was worth the wait. I just want to stay forever in the True North world and never leave. I hope we get more books in this world.

Sarina Bowen is an author I always recommend, she never disappoints. This is the book this fall that you want to curl up with a blanket and enjoy a heartwarming story.

“The Milky Way and Zara. My favorite two things about Vermont.”

ARC provided by the publisher via netgalley. All/any quotes in this review came from an advance unedited copy and may be subject to change in the final product. 

Fallen Heir

Fallen Heir by Erin Watt

3 stars 

“You are charming, Royal. That’s the problem.” 

First things first: do NOT come at me asking for spoilers or posting about them in the comments of this review. I will not answer any spoiler questions, and I will delete any comments giving away spoilers or asking for them. You’ve been warned!

Secondly: People, please do not hate me. I wanted to love this book, I did.

Erin Watt books are like a drug, you get a hit of that first amazing one, and you keep on reading them hoping for that same high you got the first time. I loved Paper Princess and Broken Prince, but I haven’t really clicked with any of their books since. I was hoping Fallen Heir would be different, since I loved Easton in the first three Royal books, I was so excited to read his story. I kept reading this series because I know Erin Watt is capable of amazing stories and characters, and because of their first two books they published I will pretty much always read their books.

Fallen Prince is the story of Easton and Hartley. Easton is the brother that’s a mess, in fights, sleeping around, getting into trouble. Now that his brother Reed is off at college and his twins are tied up in their girlfriend, there’s really no one around to keep Easton in check. The first week of school he meets Hartley, a girl who isn’t his type but one that he’s intrigued by. Hartley wants nothing to do with Easton, she’s just trying to get by without any problems. But the more Hartley resists Easton, the more he wants her.

This book is a strong 3 stars for me, I enjoyed the story and was able to keep my attention on it, but the more I thought about the book, the more issues I had with it. But first, the way Erin Watt wrote Easton’s POV was amazing, it never not once felt like women trying to write from the perspective of a man, it just flowed and felt like Easton on his own. Not many authors are good at accomplishing the male POV in a way that’s believable, but Erin Watt does it flawlessly. The pacing was also really great, at no point was I bored or wanted to put the book down.

I did like Hartley, but I never understood why she liked Easton. Maybe because we only get his POV most of the book (and the downward spiral he was on it would have been nice to maybe have a break from his POV) but I felt like we didn’t get to know Hartley. Especially since everything Easton did in regards to her seemed like a colossal mess up or a mistake. So I really wish we had gotten to know the girl a lot more, instead all we have is Easton’s slightly skewed perspective of her to go on.

The ending was a bit too much for me, it felt like a parody of a soap opera with all of these bombs being dropped. It actually made me not want to read the next book, instead of wanting to read it right away. It felt like the authors were trying to top themselves with the shock value and it was just a step too far.

Anyways, for the most part I enjoyed this book, just some issues I couldn’t look past dragged the rating down. Lots of people are going to love this, so if you are on the fence, read it anyway. Erin Watt is a talented duo and I am sure they will bring us some amazing books in the future.

ARC provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review 

The Forbidden

The Forbidden by Jodi Ellen Malpas

4.5 stars! 

THIS IS THE KIND OF TABOO I ENJOY IN MY BOOKS 

So, Jodi Ellen Malpas and I have never really clicked. By that I mean, other than this book, I read 4 other of her books and didn’t like them. BUT, this book just called to me. That and I found out one of my trusted book friends liked it so I knew I had to try it. And I’m glad I took that risk because I absolutely loved it!!! It just shows how versatile and talented JEM is as an author, that she grows and creates stories for different types of readers.

I won’t say much about the plot, go in blind and with an open mind. I think this book works so well because everything that happens is rooted in love, true love. I loved the heroine, she was kind, honorable and thought of others always before herself. She really did think everything through and the consequences of her actions, she was aware. I loved Jack, he’s what made the book for me. Normally JEM heroes have me yanking my hair with frustration, but Jack is something special. He never made me angry, and I understood the choices he made and why, even if I didn’t agree with him.

This book sold me, I was sold on their love, their story, and the hope for this couples future. I even read all the sex scenes and didn’t skim them! (Which if you really know me, I always skim the sex scenes. I’m here for the angst LMFAO). Apart from some rush and OTT at the end, this book was everything I didn’t even know I wanted. You need to throw aside your reservations and read this book!

Beard in Mind

Beard in Mind by Penny Reid

4 stars! 

“People, all people, are blinded by their own expectations.” 

Beard in Mind is the fourth book in the Winston Brothers series and can be read as a standalone novel. This book follows Beau Winston, twin brother of Duane from the first book, and Shelly, sister of Quinn from the Knitting series. Beau and his brothers Duane and Cletus own and run a mechanic shop in town. With Duane leaving the country soon to travel with his girlfriend, Cletus hires a new mechanic, the beautiful and cold Shelly Sullivan.

Right off the bat, due to a misunderstanding, the two don’t get along. Beau doesn’t like Shelly’s demeanor toward him and her unfriendliness toward customers. Shelly is highly intelligent and Beau had insulted her. But, at the end of the day, Beau is a good and friendly man and he makes the effort with her, discovering her secrets and becoming her friend. But eventually they both want more, and Beau’s brother Cletus stands in the way of that.

“I don’t think Beau Winston would purposefully hurt anyone.” 

I know when it comes to a Penny Reid novel, I can always expect the unconventional romance. You don’t get the same old story when you read one of her books, you get something unique, and something special. It’s why she’s an auto buy author for me, the woman has never let me down. In a time where many authors are spitting out repetitive and unoriginal stories, Penny Reid offers something more to readers with her work.

This book made a few observations about society without being preachy about it. The most obvious, being the cultural norm of how we perceive OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder, and the misunderstanding of what the actual disorder it. The heroine, Shelly, has it, and it’s an everyday struggle that she has to conquer, that she works hard at, but it makes her misunderstood to those around her. It has something interesting for the reader to take away and think about, maybe not use the phrase so casually in conversation.

The second one I noticed, which is less obvious, is the subject of rape culture. Shelly is a beautiful woman, and because of that, many men think it’s okay for them to hit on her/assume they have the right to do so, and it isn’t. Just because someone is beautiful, doesn’t mean it’s okay to assume you can make advances on them or touch them without permission. Granted, Shelly’s sharp wit and intelligence proved no match for whatever man came her way, but just because she can handle herself still doesn’t mean it’s okay.

I liked Shelly and Beau equally, neither one of them drove me crazy or made stupid decisions. They each had some issues to work on and work through, and they made the decision to include each other in their problems. It doesn’t mean that being together solved everything, but now they had someone to support them throughout what was happening. As a couple, they didn’t seem to have that spark between them. Personally, while I liked them together, I didn’t feel the attraction between the two like I had for other couples in this series. And at times, I felt this book was more about the side characters than them as a couple. Which is fine, I loved the side characters, but to me, something lacked.

If you haven’t read the Winston Brothers series yet you need to. If you haven’t read a Penny Reid book yet, I can’t even with you right now. The series only has two books left, making me just one book closer to my love Billy!!! I need Billy ASAP!

“Don’t let anyone in your life who isn’t the best, and don’t hesitate walking away from a person who can’t give you what they need.” 

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review 

Wild Card

Wild Card by Karina Halle

4 stars! 

“Just because someone has a broken heart, it doesn’t mean the heart doesn’t work anymore.” 

Six years ago, Rachel left the town of North Ridge and fled to the city of Toronto, heartbroken and alone. Now she’s returned to her hometown because she’s learned her mother has cancer. With a career and a boyfriend to get back to, Rachel is eager to avoid her past, mostly her ex Shane, the man who destroyed her six years earlier.

Shane mad a choice years ago, and it’s one he’s always regretted. Shane works on his father’s ranch, a country boy with a dog and his truck. Now that Rachel is back in town, it brings up many memories for Shane. And while he tried to give her space, it becomes clear the two need closure. But Shane wants Rachel back, and he’s gonna fight for her.

“The fault of man is that we never live long enough to be the person we want to be.” 

Second chance romance is like catnip for me, I cannot get enough of it! Karina Halle delivers an emotional and intense romance between two people who were ripped apart too early in their love story. Rachel and Shane had such a sweet and innocent romance, childhood friends to lovers, later to be ripped apart. You couldn’t help but root for them to be together.

I really liked Shane and Rachel as individuals as well as a couple. Rachel is a driven young woman who does the right thing even when she’s been wronged by those who love her. All Rachel really wants is security and for someone to love her. Shane is a quiet yet bold cowboy, a man living a simple life but he knows what he wants and he will tear about the earth for it.

A romance many readers will love, I cannot wait to meet the rest of the men in the North Ridge series!

“My heart would always return to him.” 

ARC provided by the author. All quotes in this review came from an advance unedited copy and may be subject to change in the final product. 

Royally Endowed

Royally Endowed by Emma Chase

4.5 stars! 

“I feel more alive just standing next to him, than I have around anyone else.“ 

Royally Endowed is the story of bodyguard Logan, and the girl he is to protect, Ellie. Ever since Ellie’s sister began dating a prince, a bodyguard was required to keep her and her family safe. Logan is assigned to her by the Prince is Wessco himself.

Spanning over a few years, we see the progression of a friendship based on respect and understanding between Logan and Ellie, and as the two get older, something more begins to form. But Logan’s job means the world to him and he doesn’t want to compromise that. Ellie is the perfect woman for him, but will there ever be a perfect time for the two of them to be together?

“Subtlety, thy name is not Logan St. James.“ 

This book came to me at exactly the right time, I needed something fluffy, funny and sexy in my life. I’ve been having a hard time finding books I loved, and this one broke the pattern! This is the book you turn to when all other books fail to make you smile. I cannot go on enough on how refreshing it was to read this story, how much I loved the characters and the plot. Some things may seem a bit tropey, but it just works.

Bodyguard romances seem to be the new trend in romance and I am totally on board with this. I feel it adds a touch of the forbidden to otherwise safe romances, kind of like the office romance where there’s a chance someone could get fired. The other side of it for me, is that protector role. We get that tiny bit of alpha, wanting to protect someone and keep them safe, but it’s their job which makes it not so creepy to me than some random dude going all Tarzan on a woman.

Full of humor (seriously, I laughed out loud quite a few times reading this), tenderness, and a touch of magic, Royally Endowed is the perfect end of summer book. It’s my favorite in this series and I am honestly excited to see what Emma Chase has in store for us readers in the future.

“Happy endings are for all of us.“ 

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review 

Amnesia

Amnesia by Cambria Hebert

3 stars 

“The sun sees your body, but the moon sees your soul.” 

Amnesia is the story of a small town, where one evening a young woman washes up on the shore of the lake. Eddie, who works at the local grocer, finds this young woman and runs her to the hospital. Once she wakes up a few weeks later, she has no memory of who she is and what had been done to her leading up to her ending up in the water.

Eddie becomes obsessed with Amnesia (as she chooses to call herself) as she reminds him of someone from his past. The two spend a lot of time together, but he’s advised by her doctors to keep his suspicions a secret. Also, someone in town doesn’t appear to be happy that Amnesia is around, and has been watching and threatening her.

“Nothing can stay paused forever. Eventually, you have to hit play.” 

I’ve only ever read the book #Nerd by Cambria Hebert, and I enjoyed it very much. Plus, she’s an absolute sweetheart in real life so I’ve always been meaning to read more of her books. Rave reviews and an interesting memory loss premise are what attracted me to this book. That and an outstanding cover. The book really started out strong, sucking me into the story. Where it fell a bit flat for me was it slowed down about halfway through and seemed a bit too long.

On top of that we have a cliffhanger ending, and I kind of already have my theories what will happen in the next book. I would have been happier with a longer book and gotten all the answers right away than wait for a second book. Plus the romance was a bit too sweet for my personal tastes, but that’s just me.

If you want to read something different and well written, this is the book for you. Suspenseful and filled with kind hearted characters, many reader will love this mystery small town love story. It honestly reminded me of a Nora Roberts type novel.