eARC Review – Faking It

Title: Faking It

Author: Portia MacIntosh

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Publication date: January 26th, 2021

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The perfect house, the perfect husband and the perfect life… or is she just faking it?

Life has been a bit of a rollercoaster for Ella. Growing up as the ‘less successful’ identical twin to her ‘perfectly successful’ sister, Emma, has left her feeling isolated, inadequate and let’s face it.. a little bitter.

When Emma unexpectedly reaches out to Ella in a time of need, Ella suddenly finds herself with the opportunity to fill in for her sister and experience how the other half live.

But as Ella navigates the world of gossiping mothers, rebellious teens and trying to play the model housewife (not to mention avoiding the temptation of attractive men at the school gates…) will she discover that all is not always as it seems on the other side?

Review

I have loved past Portia MacIntosh books, but I think this one is my favorite. I loved the twist on The Parent Trap, with one twin pretending to be the other and fooling almost everyone. Especially when the twins are polar opposites. Throw in a nice love story with a great growth journey for the characters, and that’s about all I need.

I really enjoyed the sheer amount of plot points fit into this book. There was so much intrigue, adventure, and secrets. The main character, Ella, grew so much from the unreliable, homeless 30-something from the beginning of the book. It was great to see her learn how to parent and be responsible for a job and extracurriculars. She was thrown into the deep end pretending to be her sister Emma, and she THRIVED.

One part I would have improved would be how Ella was spoken about throughout the book. When she learned her sister used her as a cautionary tale for her children, I was hurt FOR her. Especially after not being there for her for so long. I would’ve expecting that to come up between the sisters and it didn’t, but it should have. I think the book really missed that crucial confrontation for everything to be wrapped up.

I was thoroughly shocked by the ending. There was a twist I wasn’t expecting and it took me completely by surprise. The romance was also very subtle, this is not a hot & steamy rom com. That doesn’t take away anything from the book, I just like to note it in reviews for those whose preferences go either way!

Thank you to Boldwood Books and Netgalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Part of the Family

Title: Part of the Family

Author: Charlotte Philby

Publisher: The Borough Press

Publication date: January 26th, 2021

440 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

On the surface, Anna Witherall has the perfect life. Married to her university boyfriend David, she has an enviable job, beautiful home, and gorgeous three-year-old twin daughters, Stella and Rose. Their competent and capable nanny, Maria, is practically part of the family.

But beneath the veneer of success and happiness, Anna is hiding a dark secret, one that threatens to unravel everything she has worked so hard to create. Only one thing is certain: to protect her children, she must betray them.

Review

This is a short review, as I really didn’t have much to say about this book. It wasn’t my favorite, though I am sure there is an audience for this one if you really love mysteries and thrillers.

The premise of this book really intrigued me and it had a lot of potential, but the outcome fell flat for me. I had a hard time following the timing of the events, the flashbacks and flash forwards were not well telegraphed. The POV’s also switched irregularly.

If you enjoy books with unreliable narrators and irredeemable characters, this book would be a good one for you. Even by the end of the book you’re not fully sure who was on what side.

I respect the ending. That’s all I will say about that.

Overall, it was a very average book for me and just didn’t capture my attention as much as I would have liked from a writing standpoint.

**Thank you to The Borough Press and Edelweiss for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

Happy reading folks!

Book Review – The Happy Ever After Playlist

Title: The Happy Ever After Playlist (The Friend Zone #2)

Author: Abby Jimenez

Publisher: Forever

Publication date: April 14th, 2020

401 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Two years after losing her fiancé, Sloan Monroe still can’t seem to get her life back on track. But one trouble-making pup with a “take me home” look in his eyes is about to change everything. With her new pet by her side, Sloan finally starts to feel more like herself. Then, after weeks of unanswered texts, Tucker’s owner reaches out. He’s a musician on tour in Australia. And bottom line: He wants Tucker back.

Well, Sloan’s not about to give up her dog without a fight. As their flirty texts turn into long calls, Sloan can’t deny a connection. There’s no telling what could happen when they meet in person. The question is: With his music career on the rise, how long will Jason really stick around? And is it possible for Sloan to survive another heartbreak?

Review

I recently reviewed the first book, The Friend Zone, on my blog and this review will have some spoilers for that book, just by the nature of it being a sequel – so be warned.

THEAP starts off 2 years after the events of the first book, and follows Sloan Monroe dealing with life after the death of her fiance, Brandon. One day she is driving, and a dog quite literally jumps into her car on the highway – causing her to reach out to the owner and finding Jason. Jason is musician on tour and they begin texting until he is able to come home and retrieve Tucker. They clearly have feelings for each other, but Sloan is hesitant to let go of Brandon and her fear of being left alone. Will Jason be in this for the long haul?

This book made me feel all of the feelings all at once, as I read this in a day – staying up quite late to do so. I was hooked, enthralled, captivated – however you want to put it. The first book was good, but this one took that and blew it out of the water completely. There was so much depth to the plot, character development, and it felt so much longer than 400 pages – IN A GOOD WAY. Like I’m floored she fit ALL OF THIS STORY in that many words, it doesn’t seem possible.

I laughed, I cried, I swooned, and I hurt. I also desperately wanted to have Tucker be my dog, because he was the shit. I highly preferred Kristen being relegated to a side character rather than the star. Sloan definitely got the better story out of the two of them.

Keep your eyes peeled for Abby #3, Life’s Too Short, out in April!

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Mr. Right Across the Street

Title: Mr. Right Across the Street

Author: Kathryn Freeman

Publisher: One More Chapter

Publication date: January 22nd, 2021

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Mia Abbott’s move to Manchester was supposed to give her time and space from all the disastrous romantic choices she’s made in her past. But then the hot guy who lives opposite – the one who works out every day at exactly 10 a.m., not that Mia has noticed thank-you-very-much – starts leaving notes in his window…for her.

Bar owner Luke Doyle has his own issues to deal with but as he shows Mia the sites of her new city he also shows her what real romance looks like for the first time. And when he cooks up a signature cocktail in her honour, she realises that the man behind the bar is even more enticing than any of his creations. And once she’s had a taste she knows it will never be enough! 

Review

I have read all of Kathryn Freeman’s books with One More Chapter and this one might be my favorite of all so far. I will also request her books because they are always adorable, relatable, and utterly charming.

First off, the characters in this book were so well rounded, fleshed out, and had very interesting back stories. The fun quirk to this book was that they communicated via signs written in the window a la the Taylor Swift music video for You Belong With Me. The side characters seriously add to the story and keep it going. Mia’s friendship her older neighbor Stan was my favorite relationship of the book, hands down. I don’t know if young person-old person friendships are a trope but if they are, it’s one of my favorites!

I don’t really have anything that I found to critique with this one! I loved it from start to finish and feel like Kathryn is great at creating chemistry between two people and making it super charming and adorable. The pacing made sense, the flow worked, and I read it all in one day. Definitely check this out if you’re a fan of contemporary romances, friends to lovers, and a quirky form of communication – all set in a bar!

Thank you to One More Chapter and Netgalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – These Violent Delights

Title: These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights #1)

Author: Chloe Gong

Publisher: Margaret McElderry Books

Publication date: November 17th, 2020

449 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.

Review

The Violent Delights is a Shanghai twist on Romeo and Juliette, where Roma and Juliette are rival gang heirs in the city of Shanghai. The Communists have entered the city and are trying to take over and spread their ideals, in a city where more and more foreigners are coming to change the Chinese. The Scarlets and the White Flowers are trying to keep their grips on half of the city, when a deadly monster takes root and starts killing hundreds quickly. The two must find a way to stop the monster and keep the foreigners out, but secretly because of the blood feud between their gangs.

These Violent Delights is a mess of gory, violent plot mixed with two morally grey characters in a forbidden love story. Frankly, I LOVED IT. There is so much going on in this story and all of it is interesting. I love the dramatic retelling of the Shakespeare classic, there are so many callbacks to the source material but Chloe Gong has made the story her own. Beware, she is not kidding with the amount of violence. Juliette’s character is mysterious, bloodthirsty, and savage – while being super interesting and strong. Roma is more of a soft boy at heart, but not afraid to kill a man. Their families and the side characters all have their own plots that are separate yet keeping with the story. There is diversity within the cast – a trans character and what seems like will turn into a gay couple.

I will admit, the middle part of the story gets a bit tedious. I feel like there are some scenes that could have been shortened to keep the plot moving faster. The pacing slows down in the middle third and picks back up towards the end. BUT the end completely makes up for the middle, and left me shook and completely shocked. Others may see it coming, but I truly did not. SO ready for the sequel.

Thank you to Margaret K. McElderry Books and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Happy Singles Day

Title: Happy Singles Day

Author: Ann Marie Walker

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Publication date:

288 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Single and proud of it! Oh, oops…

As a Certified Professional Organizer, everything in Paige Parker’s world is as it should be. Perfect apartment, perfect office, perfect life. And now, the perfect vacation planned to honor Singles Day. After all, what’s better than celebrating her pride in being single? Because who needs a man anyway? They have zero taste in quality television, leave the toilet seat up, and sleep with your best friend. No thanks. Her life is fine just the way it is.

As the owner of a now-dormant bed & breakfast, Lucas Croft’s life is simple and quiet. It’s only him and his five-year-old daughter, which is just the way he likes it. Because who needs a woman anyway? They nag you to clean up your stuff, want the toilet seat put down, and expect the dishes to be done the same day the meal is cooked. No thanks. His life is fine just the way it is.

But when Paige books a room that Lucas’ well-intentioned sister listed without his knowledge, their two worlds collide. If they can survive the week together, they just might discover exactly what they’ve both been missing.

Review

Happy Singles Day is a Nicholas Sparks reminiscent love story on an island in North Carolina. A grumpy, widowed innkeeper meets a type A, perky woman looking to celebrate ‘Singles Day’, by taking her first relaxation vacation. Neither of them are looking for love, but when the right person comes along, it changes your perspective on everything.

I really enjoyed this book, though I believe it could have been better if it was longer. It has a bit of an insta-love feel to it because of it’s shortness. They spend just a week together in the main portions of the book, without even liking each other the first few days. Normally I don’t enjoy this trope, but I love the grumpy/sunshine trope so much that it made up for the insta-love. I appreciate that Lucas has a daughter because it created an additional dynamic to the relationship.

I very much appreciate the ending and epilogue of Happy Singles Day. It fully wrapped up the story, brought everything full circle, and was satisfactory. If you’re a fan of the setting and characters of Nicholas Sparks book (without the devastation and tears) then definitely check this one out.

Thank you to Sourcebooks Casablanca and Netgalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – The Friend Zone

Title: The Friend Zone (The Friend Zone #1)

Author: Abby Jimenez

Publisher: Forever

Publication date: June 11th, 2019

372 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Kristen Petersen doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen—especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.

Review

I accidentally read the second book, The Happy Ever After Playlist, before reading The Friend Zone (oops) BUT I’m going to do the reviews in order for continuity’s sake.

The Friend Zone follows Kristen’s story of love. Currently dating a man serving overseas in the Marines, she meets Josh – her best friend Sloan’s fiance’s best friend. He may be everything she’s looking for, but she’s committed to her boyfriend whose tour is ending soon and they will be moving in together. When circumstances bring her closer to Josh, she learns he really wants to have children, which she isn’t able to do. She tries to ignore the growing chemistry with Josh in order to save him, but when her Marine boyfriend re-enlists without talking to her first – she gives in to Josh, still thinking it’s a mistake. Can Kristen let Josh get close when she can’t give him what he wants?

So, I did really enjoy this book. HOWEVER, I had an issue with books where the whole entire dang plot can be resolved through one fairly simple communication. Sure, a lot of the plot of books needs to be interesting, otherwise who would read the book? But I feel there are levels and I was just getting frustrating with Kristen’s refusal to effectively communicate with Josh, and then whining about it. It got a bit tedious by the end, when very similar scenes kept happening without adding much to the plot.

However, like I said I did still really enjoy this book because JOSH WAS WORTH IT. Hot dang Josh is a pinnacle book boyfriend characters and was from the very beginning of the story. And by the END?! Without spoilers, I’ll just say y’all need to read it to see what I’m flailing over. We love a man who can plan and prove his commitment to a lady, that’s all I’ll say.

Come back next time for my review of The Happy Ever After Playlist, starring Kristen’s best friend, Sloan!

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Enjoy the View

Title: Enjoy the View (Moose Springs, Alaska #3)

Author: Sarah Morgenthaler

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Publication date: January 19th, 2021

352 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

A grouchy mountaineer, a Hollywood starlet
And miles of untamed wilderness…
What could possibly go wrong?

Former Hollywood darling River Lane’s acting career is tanking fast. Determined to start fresh behind the camera, she agrees to film a documentary about the picturesque small town of Moose Springs, Alaska. The assignment should have been easy, but the quirky locals want nothing to do with River. Well, too bad: River’s going to make this film and prove herself, no matter what it takes.

Or what (literal) mountain she has to climb.

Easton Lockett may be a gentle giant, but he knows a thing or two about survival. If he can keep everyone in line, he should be able to get River and her crew up and down Mount Veil in one piece. Turns out that’s a big if. The wildlife’s wilder than usual, the camera crew’s determined to wander off a cliff, and the gorgeous actress is fearless. Falling for River only makes Easton’s job tougher, but there’s only so long he can hold out against her brilliant smile. When bad weather strikes, putting everyone at risk, it’ll take all of Easton’s skill to get them back home safely…and convince River she should stay in his arms for good.

Review

As the third book in the Moose Springs, Alaska series, I had high expectations. And friends, my expectations were met and EXCEEDED by Enjoy the View. I fell in love with Easton during the first book, The Tourist Attraction and waited with bated breath for this book to fall onto my Kindle. My mind was blown from beginning to end and I read this whole book in one sitting, it was so amazing.

I adore grumpy characters, they are one of my favorite types of characters to read. Easton doesn’t really have much of a personality through the first two books, because he’s a quietly grumpy man – but getting his POV rounds out his character so much. You get to see how sweet, caring, and self-sacrificing he is – especially in his career with climbing the mountains of Alaska and escorting parties up. I also really enjoyed River as his love interest, she was an interesting combination of blunt, quirky, and confident – enough to break a grumpy man out of his shell while also evoking his protective side.

One constant through this series is that they are kind of long. They feel like pieces could be removed without the end result being less, but I felt that the least with this book. There is so much action and adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat waiting to find out what happens.

Lastly, the marmot stole the show. If that sentence confuses you, you’ll just have to read it to find out!

Thank you to Sourcebooks Casabanca and Netgalley for an advanced copy of Enjoy the View in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Shipped

Title: Shipped

Author: Angie Hockman

Publisher: Gallery Books

Publication date: January 19th, 2021

336 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.

The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend.

Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands…together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard.

With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live? 

Review

When a tag line mentions The Hating Game ad The Unhoneymooners, I am 100% sold on reading that book. The work tension coupled with a tropical vacation? I’m here for it. Overall, Shipped was a cute and surprisingly serious book that I enjoyed.

The main character, Henley, is looking to get a promotion at her cruise line company when she finds out Graeme, her work nemesis, is also up for the promotion. They’ve never met, but she knows he has been trying to steal her work and undermine her since he arrived at the company. When their boss insists they take one of the company’s cruise ships to better market the experience, Henley realizes she will finally meet, but also be trapped with, her nemesis.

Overall, I enjoyed the premise and it was a solid romance read. I was surprised by the serious feminist tone it took at the ending, but not in a bad way. I thought it brought a new level to the book, but would have liked it to be more a part of the whole book instead of the ending. I also found the romance between Henley and Graeme a little off. I think it happened far too quickly and should have been given more time to develop. However, there is a cast of solid supporting characters that really add to the story line.

I do agree with the Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne comparisons, but it missed a bit of the mark for me, so it is a 4 star read instead of 5.

Thank you to Gallery Books and Netgalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

BLOG TOUR – Roman and Jewel

Title: Roman and Jewel

Author: Dana L. Davis

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication date: January 5th, 2021

336 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Jerzie Jhames will do anything to land the lead role in Broadway’s hottest new show, Roman and Jewel, a Romeo and Juliet inspired hip-hopera featuring a diverse cast and modern twists on the play. But her hopes are crushed when she learns mega-star Cinny won the lead…and Jerzie is her understudy.

Falling for male lead Zeppelin Reid is a terrible idea–especially once Jerzie learns Cinny wants him for herself. Star-crossed love always ends badly. But when a video of Jerzie and Zepp practicing goes viral and the entire world weighs in on who should play Jewel, Jerzie learns that while the price of fame is high, friendship, family, and love are priceless.

Review

Jerzie is 16, prepared to star on Broadway, when her dreams are snatched from her by the super star, Cinny. Cinny wins the lead in Roman and Jewel, a Hamilton-esque take on Romeo and Juliet. Jerzie tries to be excited to be an understudy, but she’s not. However, she means the male lead – Zeppelin Reid – and falls head over heels in love instantly. He’s older, hot, AND starring on Broadway. But no one wants Jerzie and Zeppelin to be together, so Jerzie must make some hard decisions.

I absolutely love the concept behind this book. Roman and Jewel celebrates diversity and I loved that Jerzie was young but so talented. She basically was making changes to a Broadway musical at 16 and being listened to by adults. I love to see books empowering younger audiences in a world that tries to silence the young. Roman and Jewel is a quick, easy read that will entertain and inspire.

A few points made me rate this book a little lower. The relationship between Jerzie and Zeppelin was a little weird with the ages. 19 and 16 is still a bit of a cringe age difference for me. And Jerzie was a very young 16. It was clear from the dialogue and her behaviors that she is completely innocent, and Zeppelin was not. It made the romance feel a little off, and a bit much for me to really root for them. Some of the writing felt stilted at times, and a bit unrealistic for the real world.

However, even for these thoughts – I found Roman and Jewel to be entertaining and believe it would truly empower the young audience to feel they can do what they dream of – even from a young age. I know I grew up being told I was too young to do this, too inexperienced to do that. Everyone deserves to feel they can accomplish what they want, which is why I did enjoy this book overall.

Thank you to Turn the Pages Tours and Inkyard Press for inviting me to take place in the blog tour for this title. A copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Author Bio:

Dana L. Davis is a novelist and Hollywood actress with previous series regular roles as: Carmen Phillips on TNT’s Franklin and Bash and modern day mimic Monica Dawson on NBC’s cult series Heroes.

She currently stars on the animated series Star Vs. the Forces of Evil, Craig of the Creek, and She-Ra. Dana has guest-starred in over 20 prestigious primetime series, including 911, ScorpionCode Black, Grey’s Anatomy, and CSI. She made her film debut in Coach Carter with Samuel Jackson.

In addition to her work on screen, Dana has become a motivational speaker for teens. Her stirring assemblies empower and encourage youth, helping them to redefine what it means to win and lose.

Extremely versatile, Dana is a screenwriter and a trained Violist with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music from Loyola Marymount University. She volunteers for nonprofits like Empowering Lives International, an organization which provides training, resources, and encouragement to underprivileged East African children.

Dana also created her own nonprofit organization Culture For Kids, LA, an organization which gifts inner city children tickets and transportation to see performing arts shows around the Los Angeles area. 

Dana was raised in the Midwest and currently resides in Los Angeles with her 9-year-old daughter.

Links

Goodreads

Harlequin

Dana L. Davis

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

Happy reading, folks!