The Hating Game

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

4 IHATEJOSHUA4EV@ stars!!!

“I have a theory. Hating someone feels disturbingly similar to being in love with them.”

The Hating Game is a sleeper hit, it feels like it came out of nowhere and everyone seems to love it. After dragging my feet for a long time, I finally got my rear in gear and checked out this lovely from the library, and it was the perfect escape.

Lucy and Josh work in the same company in the same room. The two have hated each other since they first laid eyes on each other and every day at work is a semi hostile one with glares and witty barbs fired at each other. Now they are both up for a promotion and everything comes crashing together as they do their best to be the winner.

“It’s a corporate truth universally acknowledged that workers would rather eat rat skeletons than participate in group activities.”

While this book may be a tad predictable and full of stereotypes, I enjoyed every second that I spent reading it. I’m not normally one for the “I hate you but I love you” kind of trope, but Thorne nails it in her delivery of the book. I was blown away by the layers to the story, having only Lucy’s perspective the more I learned about Josh, the more I grew to love him. This book also had those little angsty tidbits that I just ate right up!

“You’ve broken me down so completely, I can’t even handle it when a guy tells me I’m beautiful.”

I found myself giggling while reading this. Lucy was a fantastic balance of intelligent, work wise, and naive when it came to interpreting Josh and his feelings for her. My favorite part of the entire book is when Lucy got sick (and that’s all I’ll say because I don’t want to spoil it for you).

Lately I haven’t been able to read romance because it all seems the same to me, and I am happy to say this book stands out amongst the sea of books that all sound alike to me. Bravo to Ms. Thorne for her debut novel and I eagerly await more of her books in the future.

“I’m probably not good at a lot of things, but I will try to be.”


One True Loves

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

4.5 stars!

“Good things don’t wait until you’re ready. Sometimes they come right before, when you’re almost there.”

Emma and Jesse were high school sweethearts who lived an adventurous and happy life. In their twenties they married and fully expected to be together forever. But fate intervenes when a year into their marriage Jesse is lost at sea from a helicopter crash and presumed dead by everyone.

Three years later and Emma has moved on, her life is completely different. She lives on the east coast instead of LA, a career as a travel writer has changed into one of a bookstore owner. And Emma is engaged to Sam, an old family friend and is blissfully happy in a way she never expected to be ever again.

Then Emma gets a call and finds out Jesse survived. Thus brings on the question, do we only have one true love?

“You can’t be loyal to two people. You can’t yearn for two dreams.”

Taylor Jenkins Reid never pulls back her punches. I always approach her books with trepidation because so far every single one I have read by her has made me cry. This book was no exception. About 25% in I already had tears in my eyes.

Despite being essentially a love triangle I really enjoyed this book. The characters are relatable and tangible. It really makes you wonder how you yourself would react if you were in a similar situation as Emma, or one of her guys. This book was more about Emma’s own journey and her self discovery of the person she wanted to be, more than just a simple love triangle in a romance book.

The one thing I would have hoped for more from this book was a balance between the two men. By this we got to read more about one man and his effect on Emma and the other a little bit less. I would have liked to see more of Emma’s story with the other guy, as I feel it would have provided more insight into their relationship.

Thought provoking and charming, One True Loves is memorable experience and a delight to sink one’s teeth into. A poignant book about the meaning of a soulmate and whether we are destined in life to have more than one true love.

“When you love someone, it seeps out of everything you do, it bleeds into everything you say, it becomes so ever present and ubiquitous, that eventually it becomes ordinary to hear, no matter how extraordinary it is to feel.”

ARC provided by publisher via edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Friends Without Benefits

Friends Without Benefits (Knitting in the City #2) by Penny Reid

4.5 Italian stars

“Nothing is more frustrating than being attracted to someone who is a complete jerk – except for maybe also caring about that person despite continued abuses. I was such an idiot.”

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Penny Reid just gets better and better with every book I read by her! After finishing a book that didn’t work for me, I needed to dive into something I knew I would love, so I turned to my spirit animal Penny Reid. Yes you read that right, Penny Reid is my spirit animal. Go and find your own!

Friends Without Benefits is the story of Elizabeth and Nico. The two of them grew up together, and Nico was a bit of a bully to Elizabeth when they were younger. The loss of a mutual friend in high school leads to emotions Elizabeth didn’t expect so she bailed and never contacted Nico again. Now, ten years later, he and his mother walk into the hospital she works at to get Nico’s niece on a clinical trial that will help her.

The two have an attraction which Elizabeth fights. But will childhood love prevail? Or will Nico lose the girl he was meant to be with?

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It’s obvious I love Penny Reid and her books. Some I like more than others and this one fits that description. I love the idea that Nico was a lovestruck kid for most of their lives and knew from an early age who his soulmate was. Elizabeth is a tough nut to crack but once someone is in her heart, they are there forever.

Elizabeth is dealing with a bit of loneliness now that her best friend and roommate Janie has found the love of her life. Considering her options lovers wise she is thrown for a loop when Nico reappears. It was perfect timing that he came back into her life because she ended up focusing more on him and his family.

“I wasn’t a hypocrite — well, everyone is a hypocrite, but I was trying hard to be less of one.”

I loved Nico, I loved Elizabeth, Angelica, Rose and more. The angst was deliciously sweet and knitted carefully into the story <— see what I did there? 😛 If you are looking for a book that will make you smile, laugh and believe in the power of true love, this is the book for you.

“You can’t tell me that I don’t know you. I see you. I see you better than you see yourself. And everything about you is beautiful.”

Maybe in Another Life

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

4 stars!

“There is a larger plan out there. Everything happens for a reason. Isn’t that what they say?”

Rating this book was tough for me. I devoured it entirely in one sitting and I absolutely love the way this author writes, but that ending man. There’s a few things I cannot get past.

Last year I read this author’s marvelous book After I Do and fell in love with it. It was a top book of 2014 for me I (so if you haven’t read it, please go do so right this minute). So when a friend told me that this book was up on Netgalley I HAD to grab it. And I’m so glad I did.

After traveling constantly the past decade or so, Hannah Martin has finally returned to her home town of Los Angeles after a disastrous attempt at living in New York. She moves in with her best friend Gabby, who takes her out to celebrate at a bar where she meets her ex-boyfriend Ethan. When Hannah goes to leave for the night she has an offer from Gabby and Ethan for a ride home. Here the story splits into two versions: one in which she leaves with Gabby, the other in which she leaves with Ethan. Both choices have the power to shape her life differently, bringing into question our fate.

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“As long as you’re happy and you’re doing something good with your life, it really doesn’t matter whether you went out and found the perfect thing or you chose what you knew you could make work for you.”

One thing I find extremely special about Taylor Jenkins Reid is she makes the reader think. What if? And while that question has been present in both books I’ve read by her, it is the central theme of this book. This isn’t your typical romance novel for more than the obvious reasons, but because it makes the reader think about more than one outcome for the characters in the book. And the author made it difficult to interpret what the “right” decision was. (Brave Ms. Reid, bravo).

As I mentioned before I could not put this book down. I was enthralled from page one and kept reading until the final one. I will say I have a giant craving for cinnamon buns now and will promptly buy one as soon as I can. And I’m not the biggest fan of that type of pastry.

The idea of the parallel universes made by our choices is fascinating. I’m going to digress here, but there was a television show on the Disney channel I watched as a kid called So Weird, and in an episode one of the character went through the same dilemma, although her alternate self was evil or something dramatic. There are so many possibilities to work with when one includes the parallel universe. But what was most interesting to me as a reader, was to see what remained the same. The things in life that are a constant like unconditional love, determination, finding one’s own place or calling in life. Life may be about choices, but it’s also about the things and people in life you can depend on.

I will say the end of this book left me with an overwhelming feeling of sadness. I’m not saying there isn’t an HEA, but with the parallel universes come the choices never made or the missed opportunities. I really enjoyed this book. It’s not a typical romance but it’s a story that you’ll be thinking about days and weeks after you’ve read it.

“If there are an infinite number of universes, I don’t know how I got so lucky to end up in this one. Maybe there are other lives out there, but I can’t imagine being as happy in any of them as I am right now, today. I have to think that while I may exist in other universes, none is as good as this.”

ARC provided by Atria Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review


Soaring (Magdalene #2) by Kristen Ashley

4.25 Soaring stars! 
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Heiress Amelia Hathaway has recently moved to Maine after following her ex husband, her children, and their new stepmom there. You see, Amelia’s husband left her after almost twenty years of happy marriage for the woman he was cheating on her with. And Amelia? Well, she:

But wouldn’t you? After all those years of happiness thrown away by a woman 15 years younger than you? Well unfortunately, Amelia lost her shit and dragged her kids into it, which then turned them against her. Now, Amelia is working on getting herself back together, and getting her kids back.

Mickey is Amelia’s new neighbor. He’s a volunteer fireman and works in construction. Divorced with 2 kids (like Amelia), he’s for lack of a better word, hot. And its because of this that Amelia wants Mickey to learn nothing of her past horrible behavior and does her best to stay away from him. But we all know this book wouldn’t be 600+ pages if that were the case.

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I really, really enjoyed this book. Kristen Ashley is one of those authors where 9 times out of 10 I end up loving or enjoying her book, even if there are way too many descriptions of furniture and clothing (yes it’s in this one too, deal with it the book is great).

There wasn’t a lot of romantically based angst, but there was a bit when Amelia was trying to win her kids back and I just felt so damn bad for the woman. She was in the wrong, and yes she behaved badly, but damn she got shut out cold for her bad behavior. I wanted to smack her kids at a few points! Amelia and her journey of finding herself is really what made this book as good as it is.

Mickey, while he is good, he’s not the most memorable of the Kristen Ashley alpha males. He fits the mold of the KA hero but wasn’t very distinct on his own. I did love his kids, and the story line with his daughter and her struggles at school really pulled on my heartstrings. Plus I now need to find a way to watch this movie Dogfight and see what all of the fuss is about.

Is this the best Kristen Ashley book? No. But honestly, it’s still pretty damn good so if you’re hesitating to read this one, stop right now and pick up this book! But read The Will first. Not that you need to, I’m just a stickler for reading series in order 😉

Neanderthal Seeks Human

Neanderthal Seeks Human (Knitting in the City #1) by Penny Reid

3.75 really cute stars!!!

“She said I owned the clothes of a radiologist and the shoes of an OBGYN; which is like the medical doctor equivalent of saying that I dressed like a librarian with a propensity of fuckmeboots.”

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This is my second Penny Reid book and it was a lot of fun! I had originally only read The Hooker and the Hermit, and now it’s very clear to me who wrote what in that book now that I’ve read books by both authors.

Neanderthal Seeks Human is about Janie who just broke up with her boyfriend, spilled coffee on herself, broke her shoes and got fired from her job. She is escorted out of her office building by a security guard also know to her (privately) as McHotPants. Janie is a bit socially awkward, she has a tendency to spew out random facts at the drop of a hat. But Janie is really smart, and a bit aloof as to how pretty she is. A series of chance meetings with McHotPants aka Quinn, lands Janie a new job. And that’s all I will say for now…

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I really liked Quinn as a hero. He wasn’t the most decisive guy, but he seemed to really like Janie for who she was and was genuinely interested in all of her random factoids. It also took him forever to show Janie he liked her, but to be fair, she was oblivious to many things throughout the book. And I liked that about Janie, because quite honestly, it made her relatable (to me, because I am super oblivious quite a bit of the time as well).

“I decided, as I succumbed to sleep, that men should come with manuals, subtitles, and reset buttons.”

This book had fairly low angst and no over the top drama, which many of you enjoy. The one thing it really needed though was a little bit more steam and a little less fade to black.

At times I found myself laughing out loud in places I shouldn’t have. There is a very funny knitting group meeting near the end that I could not stop laughing at and had to set my kindle down before I dropped it. I also spent a lot of time reading this when I should have been doing grad work, so it’s highly addictive too.

Give it a chance! It’s a great read for when you don’t know what to read next 🙂

Ravishing the Heiress

Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas

4.5 stars

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I found a historical romance book that I LOVED!!! And it’s allDidi’s fault because of this spectacular review she wrote.

I have a long history of loathing with historical romance. As a history major in college I get nitpicky about the details and often end up screaming things at the book such as “why are you not pregnant yet?!” or “why are you talking like a millennial!”. <—Neither of these two things were an issue with this book.

Ravishing the Heiress (with a title that has nothing to do with the book) is about a young girl named Millie who meets her intended fiance and falls in love with him on sight. The problem is Fitz is in love with another girl but he must marry Millie for money. Cue eight years of Fitz’s anguish over losing the love of his life, and eight years of Millie anguishing over a husband who could never love her back. Through these eight years the two become best friends and have an unconventional marriage in which they aren’t together initmately but only put on a show for propiety. Fitz also remains unaware of Millie’s feelings for him.

This was the perfect angsty read to get me out of my reading funk, and it definitely made me rethink my historical romance ban. As long as it’s angsty and historically accurate. For those who are maybe interested in reading this, it reminded me quite a bit of Natasha Anders’ The Unwanted Wife, which I also loved.

Kaleidoscope Hearts

Kaleidoscope Hearts by Claire Contreras

3.5 stars

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This was a book I was super excited to read and in the end, I just kind of liked it. Claire Contreras is a very talented author, she wrote one of my favorite new adult books titled There is No Light in Darkness, and that book had all of the feels I love to see in a book. Plus it had Cole. If you’ve read that book, you understand.

So going into this:
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Kaleidoscope Hearts is the story of Estelle and Oliver. Oliver is Estelle’s brothers best friend, therefore Estelle is supposed to be off limits. But when Oliver was 19 and she was 16, the two forged a connection that would last throughout the years. That’s all I’m really going to say about the plot, the less you know the better.

I will say, I was a bit disappointed in the romance. I liked the connection the two had in the flashbacks, but their grand romance felt a bit forced. The majority of it they were both dating other people, so it was hard for me to believe they loved each other. And it was hard for me to believe Estelle was crushed when Oliver left for med school because they technically weren’t together, and he made her no promises. Yeah, it sucked that he left, but not to the point where she would cling to what happened years later and throw it back in his face.

Oliver, well, he’s not my favorite guy. I liked him, he seemed sweet but I thought he wasn’t very memorable. Sure he’s cute and he’s got a man-bun, which is sexy 90% of the time. But like I said, the whole relationship felt forced to me. And in the end, I didn’t care if they ended up together or not.

I feel like I’ve done nothing but bash this book and that’s not my intention. I enjoyed reading it, but I guess I hyped it up too much in my head. This book didn’t make me feel like this authors’ other books have before. It’s a sweet, predictable romance that I think lots of readers will enjoy.

PS: I read two different hair colors for Oliver in this book, blond at 59% and brunette at 91%. It drove me frickin crazy!!!

Bad Romeo

Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven

4.5 stars!

“Sometimes people put up walls, not only to keep people out, but also to see who cares enough to tear them down.”

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So, guess who loved this book when most everyone else didn’t?

Guilty as charged. To be fair, I am a total angst whore and gobbled this book up. Want to know what’s even scarier? For all of the angst this book doles out, I’ve read angstier!

This is the story of Cassie and Ethan, who met when they were young aspiring actors. The book begins in the present, three years after Ethan shattered Cassie’s heart, and the two of them are cast as the leads in a new Broadway play. Ethan, after all of the shit he put Cassie through, is desperate to get her back but Cassie won’t let him back in easy.

This book alternates between the present and the past, giving the reader both sides of Cassie and Ethan. Cassie who in the past was a horny, naive virgin and in the present a jaded and bitter woman. Ethan, a dark storm cloud in the past more closed up than a tight clam shell, and in the present a man who had worked through his issues and wants to be redeemed.

I think one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much was because I went into it with the absolute lowest expectations. I also read the spoilers ahead of time and knew the ending would be a cliffhanger and many questions would not be answered, so I came into this book prepared. So many people hated or disliked this book, but I still gave it a shot because my local library has a copy. And if it’s free, why not? Well, I’m glad I did. For me, this book was unputdownable.

I will say I did not care for the whiplash, but in order for a guy to redeem himself, he has to be a dick right? Yeah, Ethan was a dick. But, I felt like he really did change by the time he was an adult. I just really wish I knew what horrible thing he did to Cassie BECAUSE THE AUTHOR DIDN’T TELL US IN THIS BOOK!!!

And the other thing I didn’t care for? That vagina slow clapping line. My god I cringed when I read that. I think it was supposed to be funny, but this was me reading it instead:

Anywoo, if you like angst and men trying to make up for their colossal mistakes, this book is the one for you! I’m actually really excited for book 2 and some answers.

The Hooker and the Hermit

The Hooker and the Hermit by L. H. Cosway and Penny Reid

4.25 Bollocks, bitches, and Battlestar Galactica stars!

“I want you free. I want you wild. I want you brave. I want you any way I can get you.”

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***First off I want to clarify something, in the title Hooker does not stand for prostitution, it’s a sports position in rugby! I just wanted to put that out there because when this book started blowing up Goodreads, I honestly thought it was a about a lady of the night.***

Now that that’s cleared up, OMIGOSH THIS BOOK WAS SUCH A FUN READ!!! I adored Six of Hearts by LH Cosway, but I’ve never read anything by Penny Reid (despite her books sitting on my kindle for longer than I’d care to admit). I honestly could not tell that two people wrote this book, it was done so well! Needless to say, this book has lit a fire under my ass to start reading her books asap!

The Hooker and the Hermit is the story of Annie and Ronan. Annie is the secret blogger known as the Socialmedialite. Witty online through her writing, Annie in real life is incredibly socially awkward. She has trouble making eye contact and connecting to other people by talking. One day while out eating, Annie sees a Colin Farrell look alike and snaps a picture of him for her blog. This CF look alike is in fact a famous Irish rugby player who is taking a break from the game for personal issues. In a weird twist of fate, Annie’s PR company picks up Ronan as a client, and pairs Annie and Ronan to clear up his public image.

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At the beginning of the book, I have to say I didn’t care for Ronan all that much. He basically agreed to go along with the PR company mostly because his end goal was to get into Annie’s pants. Romantic right? Well, over time he turned out to be a pretty amazing book boyfriend. His determination to get Annie to open up to him, to give a relationship between the two of them a chance pulled at my heartstrings for the majority of the book. In fact, I love books where the man has to convince the girl to be in a relationship instead of the other way around.

Annie was so endearing. Her past led her to her social insecurities and I just wanted to give the girl a giant hug the entire book. I do think she may have overreacted a bit when it came to Ronan’s actions, and she pushed him away so many times, but I still liked her as a heroine.

I feel like a lot of us who review can relate to Annie very easily. For some reason or another, we all turn to our blogs or Goodreads in order to express ourselves and our opinions on books rather than just talking to other “real life” people. Many of us love our anonymity. Others may not care. But we all know what it’s like to sit in front of a computer screen and let out hearts pour out onto the keyboard.

This book was so freaking funny. There was many a moment where I smiled or laughed out loud (luckily I don’t laugh like Annie or I would have gotten some seriously weird looks directed my way). Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“Thought I won’t object to your calling me Daddy.”
Her eyes got really big then, and I burst out laughing, “I’m joking, Annie; relax. I’m joking”
“Thank God.”
“I know. I think I might have creeped myself out with that one.”

“She said seals sexually assault penguins and deserved to be clubbed. That woman is nuttier than a Snickers bar.”

“For the love of God, don’t ever laugh in public. No one will forgive you for it. You’ll be ridiculed, Ronan will go on an assault spree, and then Ian will have a mental breakdown trying to clean up the mess.”

“I love him more than Sean Connery loves talking about Scottish politics while living in Southern California with a llama.”

A very cute, fun book that I am so glad I read. Thanks to Suzanne (and Jasmine) for the recommendation!!!

Searching for Perfect

Searching for Perfect (Searching For #2) by Jennifer Probst

3.75 perfect stars

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Searching for Perfect is the story of Ned. Ned is an aerospace engineer, aka rocket scientist, and at the age of thirty has decided he is ready to find a wife and settle down. After attending a speed dating event, Ned meets Kennedy, one of the matchmakers at Kinnections. Kennedy, seeing that Ned is in dire need of a makeover, outside and inside, takes him on as a client, guaranteeing that she will find him his perfect match.

When Kennedy says makeover, she means it. Ned is subjected to various forms of torture, including spa days, waxing, zumba, even changing his name to Nate. But despite all of this, he and Kennedy form an understanding of each other, and their understanding blossoms into full blown feelings. But Kennedy doesn’t believe in a long term relationship for herself, and it’s up to Nate to convince her to take the risk.

Jennifer Probst is a long time guilty pleasure author for me. There isn’t a single book she’s written that I haven’t enjoyed, and Searching for Perfect continues this tradition. This book was so damn funny. I’m not kidding, 20% in and I was laughing so hard at Nate’s makeover escapades I had tears in my eyes. I can’t remember the last time a book made me laugh like that.

I loved the characters; Kennedy is a strong complex woman with past issues that make the reader empathize with her. Nate is so socially awkward he makes you giggle, but has such a strong heart you can’t help but root for the guy to get what he wants.

I loved the addition of Wolfe in this book, as well and Probst’s characters from past novels. It’s like having old friends come to visit when she includes them.

Overall a very funny, angsty and sweet read.

ARC kindly provided by Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend

The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger

4.5 Duffy stars!!!

“No matter where you go or what you do to distract yourself, reality catches up with you eventually.”

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OMIGOSH YOU GUYS! I loved this book!! Like seriously, I kind of can’t believe how much I loved a book that literally means “ugly fat friend”.

Over the years I’ve seen this book in passing, in the library, bookstores, and lists titled “Best Book Boyfriends”. I never picked it up because come on. Look at the title. Now look at the cover. Based on those two things, would you read it? Well this is an extreme case of don’t judge a book by its cover… or its title.

Bianca is a cynical girl, but her friends don’t mind it. They love her for who she is. One night when all three are out, Bianca finds herself near the school manwhore Wesley, who proceeds to educate her on the fact that she is the Duff. Designated Ugly Fat Friend. This title makes Bianca’s head spin, and she goes into a small identity crisis. On top of that, things aren’t so good with her parents and her life around her is falling apart. Assigned to work on a project together, Bianca and Wesley end up having a secret friends with benefits relationship, both trying to escape their crappy real lives.

As I stated before, I loved this book. Because it surprised me.Bianca was a character I loved so much. She was ridiculously cynical, and I guess maybe I am too because most of the time when she would say something, I’d be sitting there nodding my head and going “hey, I would say that!”

And this book had some seriously funny moments and dialogue in it. For example:

“Spanish, huh?” he said, glancing down at the scattered papers as he grabbed them. “Can you say anything interesting?”
“El tono de tu voz hace que queria estrangularme.” I stood up and waited for him to hand over my papers.
“That sounds sexy,” he said, getting to his feet and handing me the stack of Spanish work he’d swept together. “What’s it mean?”
“The sound of your voice makes me want to strangle myself.”

“Your sense of humor needs some work, then,” Wesley suggested. “Most girls find my jokes charming.”
“Those girls must have IQs low enough to trip over.”

“I mean, there is a reason its initials are VD. I bet you more people contract syphilis on Valentine’s Day than on any other day of the year. What a cause for celebration.”

“Vagina, vagina, vagina. Get over it, Jess. You have one. You can call it what it is.”

Despite having a sense of humor, this book also dealt with serious teen issues. Bianca’s parents were going through a divorce and her dad was becoming less and less present, and she didn’t know how to deal with it. Bianca’s former asshole of an ex-boyfriend shows up in town with his new fiance. Wesley’s parents are always gone and his crone of a grandmother won’t let him see his sister. Lots of teen drama rama.

The other things that surprised me about this book? There was so much sex! Like from the beginning. Would you look at this hot pink and yellow cover and think you were in for a large round of young adult fade to black? Not me! It was kind of refreshing to read a teen book and have it be realistic about what teens are experiencing in real life.

And Wesley. *sigh* I loved that asshole. Like, he was such a freaking jerk in the beginning, but like Bianca, the more I saw him in the book I couldn’t help but swoon over his arrogant ass. I agree with the list, he’s a great book boyfriend.

“Don’t lie to yourself because you think it’s safer. Reality doesn’t work like that.”

At the end of the day, everyone who reads this review is going to read whatever the heck they want. I’m the same way. But, I encourage you to ignore the title and cover, and to read this gem of a book. That or go and see the movie when it comes out this February. Hopefully it doesn’t suck.

Purchase on Amazon

The Will

The Will by Kristen Ashley

4 stars!

” If you learn to accept yourself just as you are, learn to laugh at your quirks instead of hating them, show the world all that’s you without tryin’ to hide things that are not even a little unattractive, that makes you more attractive. What you got is a fuckuva lot. You own all of it and let it all hang out, you’ll go off-the-charts.”

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It’s been a while since I’ve read a Kristen Ashley book. When I saw that pretty much all of my Goodreads friends were unanimous in loving this book, I decided to jump back in with this one.

The story begins with Josie at the funeral of her beloved grandmother. Josie hasn’t been back to Magdalene in years, as she was trotting the globe as an assistant to a famous photographer. Losing her Gran meant she had lost what was left of her family.

At the reading of her Gran’s will, Josie discovers that her Gran has left Josie to Jake Spear. The former boxer and town strip club owner. At first Josie is horrified, by the idea and by Jake’s profession, but over time and by getting to know him, Josie discovers there is more to Jake than meets the eye.

“Life is like a boxing match. Defeat is declared not when you fall but when you refuse to stand again.”

I was hesistant going into this book, as I’m in my mid-twenties and the main characters are in their forties. I was worried I wouldn’t be interested in their romance or lives, but then I remembered how amazing Ashley’s Sweet Dreams was, also about a couple in their forties, and decided to give this a chance. While this book does focus on issues that people in their forties face, like former lovers, ex wives, children and more, I still thoroughly enjoyed this book because it held strong themes offamily, love, survival, and finding one’s place in life when things change abruptly.

I loved the slow building romance between Josie and Jake, along with the little misunderstandings Josie had about Jake’s interest. Josie’s relationship with Jake’s children was beautiful; she helped them without ever forcing her way in or being overbearing. She didn’t try to be cool or someone different for their sakes, instead she was herself and showed constantly how much she cared about them and their well being.

The side plot with Henry made me kind of sad, I really hope he gets his own book or at least a mention of an HEA. I know he’s the one who fucked things up with Josie, but come on. Men tend to not think things through all of the time. A lot of the time.

“You see, a woman who knows herself and her worth knows that her time is valuable and her heart is precious. She doesn’t give either to a man who can’t respect the gifts he’s being offered.”

I only had two things I didn’t really like about this book. One was the side plot about Conner and his five high school girlfriends. It didn’t really make sense to me that Kristen Ashley would develop Ellie just to have them break up, with Conner being less than understanding of Ellie’s position her parents put her in, just to find another different girlfriend by the end. I would rather have had Ellie not exist and use Sophie instead. It just seemed like a waste of plot to me, but I guess I’m just being nit-picky.

The other thing I REALLY did not like was the way Josie talked. It drove me up the wall! She sounded like a pretentious snob and everyone was like, “oh you talk weird, that’s cute”. I’m over here like, “um, no. She sounds incredibly rude and condescending” but whatever. Despite the way she talked, I still really liked Josie mostly because she had a heart of gold and when you were someone she cared about, she took care of you.

This book really did feel like one of Kristen Ashley’s older works, and was a great romance that was well developed and not cheesy, which worked perfectly for me. That friggin epilogue had me crying giant ugly tears. Damn you KA! Right in the damn feels.

“It’s never too late to reach for happiness and no matter what life has done to you, it’s never too late to find it.”

This Girl

This Girl (Slammed #3) by Colleen Hoover

4 Sweet stars!

“I want to be your soulmate, even if I don’t believe in them.”

Short review this time. This Girl begins with Lake and Will on their honeymoon.

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Lake and Will are taking a, um, breather, and Will begins to tell Lake the story of how he met her. Before long it turns into his perspective of their entire story.

It’s been so damn long since I first read Slammed, it was one of the first new adult type books I had ever read and there’s a reason it’s a classic. So reading this book was kind of like reading Slammed all over again, because I didn’t actually remember much about Lake and Will after all this time.

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I loved getting to see Will’s side of things, of his struggle to maintain his integrity while his heart was telling him to do otherwise. The parts of Slammed where he seemed stoic or indifferent were explained. I had never thought of him as a jerk or butthead in the first book, and in this he proved he was a great guy.

“She deserves to be kissed by someone who loves her. Someone who spends every waking moment trying to do everything right by her. Someone who would rather die than see her hurt. She doesn’t deserve to be kissed by anyone other than me.”

There’s really not much more to say, the majority of us know Lake and Will’s story, and for a retelling CoHo did an amazing job. I normally hate the same book/different point of view thing this genre tends to put out, but CoHo mixed it up and included a bunch of new in with the old.

“You want to know my sweet? You. Always you.”

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**small random: reading this made me really want a grilled cheese. I blame Coho for the random food craving**

Forever With Me

Forever With Me (With Me in Seattle #8) by Kristen Proby 

3.5 Final stars

“I’ve been slowly falling for you for a long time, and I’m afraid I fell the rest of the way in love with you last night, and you’re so much more than my darling. You’re my treasure.”

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Well guys, I just had to sneak in another book when I was supposed to be working on my finals. **shrugs sheepishly** I had been planning on waiting until the holidays to purchase and read, but in my defense, this happened:

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I got to meet this sweet author! (By the way, she is super nice. I highly recommend going to one of her signings if you get the chance).

Anyways, Forever With Me is the final installment of the With Me series. sniffle <— OMG keep it together Rachel! ….And now you’ve convinced your readers you’re nuts!

I digress.

This book is about party planner Alecia and the long lost Italian brother Dominic. Dom has made it clear in the past that he’s interested in Alecia but she’s brushed off all his advances. With a little help from our favorite due Natalie and Jules, Dom is nudged in the right direction of how to pursue Alecia without her thinking he just wants in her pants.

There’s only one problem: Alecia doesn’t believe in love.

And that’s all I’m going to say about the plot folks. I thought this was a sweet ending to a series that has fulfilled my check box in the guilty pleasure shelf. Dom was a great hero and Alecia a wonderful damaged heroine. I got my angst fix and everything.

So why not 4 or 5 stars then? You ask. Well, the first 4 installments of this series I really liked and even loved. Unfortunately after book 4, Rock With Me, the books became a little too cheesy and formulaic for me to give any higher of a rating. I do commend the author for sticking with a series this large and remaining true to her characters and themes, but a part of me is glad she is moving on from the Montgomery’s and giving her readers something new.

So thank you Ms. Proby for giving us a lasting romance series that celebrates men treating women the way they should be treated. Bravo.

“Intimacy is who you wake up thinking about at three in the morning, It’s talking about your hopes and fears in the dark. It’s the one person you give your undivided attention to when ten other people are fighting for it. It’s that person, always in the back of your mind, no matter how distracted you are.”