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

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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.

Trust

Trust by Kylie Scott

2 stars 

It really pains me to say this, but I did not enjoy this book. Kylie Scott is a go-to author for me, she’s written some of my favorite romances ever, but this one fell flat for me.

Trust is about Edie, a seventeen year old who finds herself a hostage in a convenience store robbery. Having just popped in for a few things, the entire encounter changes her life and leads to her decision to leave private school and her so called friends behind and attend public school.

At her new public school, Edie begins to cross paths with John, a boy who was stuck during the convenience store robbery himself. Because of their bond from the tragic night, they begin to form a friendship that means a lot to the both of them. Edie begins to make other, more loyal friends at her new school as well, and things seem to be looking up. But as can be expected, feelings for John begin to form, but does John like her back?

This book started out really strong, but then around 30% slowed down a bit for me. The pacing was a bit off throughout most of the book, and with an unclear plot for most of it. That combined with a rushed ending made it difficult for me to truly enjoy this book. I also didn’t care for John, he and Edie seemed to have zero chemistry, on top of his lack of personality. He wasn’t developed well enough.

I loved that we got a plus sized heroine, Kylie Scott has always shown readers that beauty is more than a skinny body. I respect that she challenges traditional standards of beauty. Plus sized women are often seen as undesirable, and that’s just not true. I also liked the friendship between Edie and Hang, I love seeing stories that portray healthy and supportive female friendships.

According to the Goodreads definition “Young-adult fiction (often abbreviated as YA) is fiction written for, published for, or marketed to adolescents and young adults, roughly ages 13 to 18.” Considering this book contained graphic sexual content that I in my job as a public librarian would not feel comfortable handing to someone 13-15 years old (and 16 is stretching it), I do not consider this YA. I’ve seen lots of reviews citing this as “YA I actually like to read, and I don’t like YA”. Well….. that’s because it’s not YA. This was a contemporary romance novel meant for readers 17 and up. That’s my professional opinion, I understand if you disagree with me.

Obviously I am in the minority when it comes to this book, there are a ton of favorable reviews out there and I encourage you to read them. Also, everyone has different reading tastes, mine fall pickier than others, so I think you should pick up this book and decide for yourself.

ARC provided by the author via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review 

After All

After All by Karina Halle

4 stars 

After All is a standalone spin off of the book Before I Ever Met You, with characters featured in that book. Alyssa is a curvy and sassy office assistant, Emmett an actor making his comeback. They are both part of the bridal party for their friends Will and Jackie, and they meet the day of the wedding. Right off the bat Emmett is attracted to Alyssa, he loves her prickly and spitfire personality, and Alyssa is attracted to Emmett against her better judgement. The two end up having a one night stand and expect to never see each other again. But a tabloid gets pictures of the two of them at the wedding, and they look like a couple. So Emmett, needing some good PR, asks Alyssa to be his fake girlfriend. From there, the lines get blurred.

I always enjoy Karina Halle romances, she never fails to deliver a great story. I loved Alyssa as a heroine, she didn’t fit into the typical role being abrasive and outspoken, as well as being a size ten. It goes to show that not every heroine is a simpering girl that plays doormat to the hero. Alyssa held her own, she knew when to push and when to let go, and I admired her. Emmett is a complicated hero with a damaged past, just the kind of guy readers enjoy to watch fall in love. He challenged Alyssa and thought she was beautiful.

I’m glad we got this story from Halle, it was a nice surprise to get a second book in the BIEMY univserse. I know Tiffany has a boyfriend, but I cannot help but want to get a book for her too. Make this book your next summer romance read!

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review 

Until It Fades

Until It Fades by KA Tucker

3 stars 

“Something good will come from the bad. It always does. That’s how life balances itself out. That’s how people keep going.” 

Single mother Catherine is driving home from a disastrous blind date when she comes upon a car crash, and she saves the life of the passenger inside. It turns out the man she saved is a hockey star and a celebrity. Having already been through a scandalous affair with her teacher when she was a teen, she doesn’t want any of the media attention that comes with the accident and tries to remain anonymous. But her identity is blown, and that’s when she meets Brett Madden and the connection between them is immediate.

“I promised myself I’d be smarter.” 

K. A. Tucker is a great writer, she has the ability to suck you into a story effortlessly. I thought this was an interesting story, a girl who made mistakes in her past and does everything she can to overcome them. Catherine was a great, strong female protagonist and she was someone the reader could admire. Brett seemed like a really sweet guy and exactly what she needed.

The pacing of this book was very slow, we didn’t even see that much interaction between the main couple until about 60% in. Cinderella story tropes aren’t my favorite, on top of that this book was very sweet so it just didn’t match with my personal tastes. I think a lot of readers will really love this book and this story, so I encourage you to pick it up and decide for yourself.

“No wonder people want the happily ever after between us. I want the happily ever after.” 

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review