eARC Review – Crushing It

Title: Crushing It

Author: Lorelai Parker

Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation

Publication date: June 30th, 2020

336 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

In life, as in gaming, there’s a way around every obstacle . . .

To pitch her new role-playing game at a European conference, developer Sierra Reid needs to overcome her terror of public speaking. What better practice than competing in a local bar’s diary slam, regaling an audience with old journal entries about her completely humiliating college crush on gorgeous Tristan Spencer?

Until the moderator says, “Next up, Tristan Spencer . . .”

Sierra is mortified, but Tristan is flattered. Caught up in memories of her decade-old obsession as they reconnect, Sierra tries to dismiss her growing qualms about him. But it’s not so easy to ignore her deepening friendship with Alfie, the cute, supportive bar owner. She and Alfie were college classmates too, and little by little, Sierra is starting to wonder if she’s been focusing her moves on the wrong target all along, misreading every player’s motivations.

Maybe the only winning strategy is to start playing by her heart . . .

Review

**Thank you to Kensington Publishing, Netgalley, and Lorelai Parker for an early copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Sierra is a video game developer with a horrible fear of public speaking, which causes issues as she’s trying to convince her investor to let her present at Gamescon to promote their new game. Her coworker and roommate Aida convinces her to go to an event being put on by a new bar near their home, a competition to get up in front of everyone and tell humiliating stories for the amusement of others. The catch is that it is for mostly alumni of their college, and the reason Sierra has public speaking fears dates back to college. When the source of her fears is in the bar, also in the competition, Sierra has to face all of her demons if she wants to further her career.

I liked the premise of this book a lot, and I really enjoyed the resulting romance. I liked the growth that the characters went through, and the strides Sierra made in overcoming her fears. I didn’t enjoy all of the side characters, for reasons you’ll probably understand when you read! I won’t say who though, because it would be a bit of a spoiler for you all and I don’t want to do that. I respected Sierra’s investor for making her prove to him and herself that she can represent the brand and game how they want it to be represented.

This book was a tad predictable though. I could see where it was going, and what the big reveal would be. I still enjoyed it, but some parts were just too obvious and maybe could’ve been covered up better.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Beach Read

“Here’s the thing about writing Happily Ever Afters: it helps if you believe in them.” 

Title: Beach Read

Author: Emily Henry

Publisher: Berkley

Publication date: May 19th, 2020

361 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

Review

“He fit so perfectly in the love story I’d imagined for myself that I mistook him for the love of my life.”

emily henry, beach read

I am obsessed with this book. Beach Read is the adult romance novel that you need in your life. January is going through a lot right now, her father just died, she learned he had a mistress for a very long time, and she just inherited their love nest. She also was dumped, lost her home, and has writer’s block – which doesn’t help matters as her next draft is due by the end of the summer. She moves into her father’s old house, and is shocked to find her arch rival from college is her neighbor. Augustus ‘Gus’ Everett is also an author, also having writer’s block. However, the two couldn’t author different genres if they tried. They team up to try & bust their writer’s block by writing each other’s chosen genres – and spend a LOT of time together as a result…

As much as this title would lead you to believe otherwise, this book is not entirely lighthearted. There are some serious topics tackled and discussed, but it is still an amazing romantic comedy. Janaury and Gus’ chemistry just leaps off the page, and they are both very funny and endearing. They communicate with each other via messages written on notepads and held up in mirrors ala Taylor Swift in the You Belong with Me video – which is completely heartwarming. And don’t get me started on the Gus in the tent scene…

The middle portion of this book has a slower pace which causes it to drag a bit. And I feel like there could’ve been more time spent wrapping up the bet they made – it could’ve just been longer and more detailed and I would’ve loved that.

I finished this book weeks ago and I still think about it pretty regularly – which I always find to be a great sign about how good a book is. It is definitely one I will reread in the future when I need to read an amazing book.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The Never Have I Ever Club

Title: The Never Have I Ever Club

Author: Mary Jayne Baker

Publisher: Aria

Publication date: June 18th, 2020

??? pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Robyn Bloom thought Ash Barnes was the love of her life – until one day he announced he was leaving her to fly halfway across the world.

Months later, Robyn is struggling to move on – but then she has a brainwave: The Never Have I Ever Club. Her handsome next-door neighbour Will helps her bring their fellow Yorkshire villagers together for some carpe-diem-inspired fun.

From burlesque dancing to Swedish massages, everyone has plenty of bucket-list activities to try, but it doesn’t take long for Robyn to realise what – or who – her heart truly desires: Will.

There’s just one problem: he’s Ash’s twin brother.

Make that two problems: Ash is moving home… and he wants Robyn back.

Review

**Thank you to Aria, Netgalley, and Mary Jayne Baker for an early copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Set in the UK, The Never Have I Ever Club features Robyn Bloom, a 35 year old woman who is still getting over her sudden breakup with Ash when he decided to move to Australia and begin a relationship with a woman 25 years her junior. Left in his wake, Robyn is struggling to move on as Ash is her next door neighbor, along with his identical twin brother Will. Robyn can’t even see Will without being reminded of her heartbreak, even though they’ve been best friends and neighbors their whole lives. Robyn and her friends decide to create a village club encouraging it’s members to learn new things and have those experience they’ve always put off. When Ash returns to win Robyn back, she is left flustered and angry but he isn’t ready to give up. But is he the right twin for her?

I enjoyed this book, I liked the characters and Robyn’s relationship with her friends and her aunt. The characters are quirky, relatable, and unique enough to give the dialogue and events an interesting quality. I just really didn’t like either of the love interests? Both twins – Will and Ash – got on my nerves for different reasons. Ash is selfish and impetuous, only looking after himself. Will is the opposite, he doesn’t even stop for a second to think of doing something that would benefit him. I imagine the author created this dichotomy for a reason, and trust me the effect worked, but there needed to be some ‘in the middle’ qualities for both of them. No one is that selfish or selfless.

This book does kind of include a love triangle trope, but it doesn’t follow the norm. For most of the book, the characters don’t know there is any triangle to speak of, so even if love triangles aren’t your jam – don’t let that keep you from reading this book if you’re interested.

I actually enjoyed the subplots more than the main love story plot. I cheered for Freya and Eliot and Aunty Fliss. This book is also very clean, for those who don’t enjoy smut in their romance novels.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Undercover Bromance

“There’s no force on Earth as strong as a woman who is good and fed up.”

Title: Undercover Bromance (Bromance Book Club #2)

Author: Lyssy Kay Adams

Publisher: Berkley

Publication date: March 10th, 2020

320 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Braden Mack thinks reading romance novels makes him an expert in love, but he’ll soon discover that real life is better than fiction.

Liv Papandreas has a dream job as a sous chef at Nashville’s hottest restaurant. Too bad the celebrity chef owner is less than charming behind kitchen doors. After she catches him harassing a young hostess, she confronts him and gets fired. Liv vows revenge, but she’ll need assistance to take on the powerful chef. 

Unfortunately, that means turning to Braden Mack. When Liv’s blackballed from the restaurant scene, the charismatic nightclub entrepreneur offers to help expose her ex-boss, but she is suspicious of his motives. He’ll need to call in reinforcements: the Bromance Book Club. 

Inspired by the romantic suspense novel they’re reading, the book club assist Liv in setting up a sting operation to take down the chef. But they’re just as eager to help Mack figure out the way to Liv’s heart… even while she’s determined to squelch the sparks between them before she gets burned.

Review

You shouldn’t have to care about a women to recognize that the sexual degradation of all women is a problem. You should recognize that it’s wrong simply because they’re humans.

lyssy kay adams, undercover bromance

TW: sexual assault, sexism, misogyny

I think my favorite part about this book has to do with the quote directly above. Adams tackles misogyny and sexism within this romance book so well. There are men who actively hold conversations in an attempt to educate one of the characters that uses the excuse of “I’m too old to understand”. And it’s done so, so well. As someone who has experience sexism and sexual assault, I was heartened to see how it was dealt with in this book (for the most part). I say for the most part, because one of the main characters says some pretty awful things to someone who experienced assault. I believe it was used in order to later show character growth and development, but it did fall flat. I’m tired of the women attacking other women story line.

I did not like Liv’s character in The Bromance Book Club and frankly I did not like her more in this book. I inherently liked this one more than the first as I am more interested in a new love story than reviving an old love. But Liv honestly sucks. She does get better – but I can’t with her for the first 75% of the book.

I am here for BRADEN FREAKING MACK though. Braden Mack makes this book bearable because he is a sweet, cinnamon roll of a man who can do no wrong. I would die for Braden Mack and I am jealous of Liv because I would take him as my husband in a heartbeat. There were so many swoonworthy parts to this book, and they were all due directly to Braden Mack.

Overall, a decent book that tackled some serious issues while still being a good romance novel. I am still excited for the third book, Crazy Stupid Bromance, coming later this year.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Up Close and Personal

Title: Up Close & Personal

Author: Kathryn Freeman

Publisher: One More Chapter

Publication date: June 12th, 2020

??? pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Sizzling chemistry, a page-turning will they/won’t they romance and the hottest twist on one of your favourite movies…

British actor Zac Edwards is the latest heartthrob to hit the red carpets. Hot, talented and rich, he sends women wild…all except one.

Close protection officer Kat Parker hasn’t got time to play celebrity games. She has one job: to protect Zac from the stalker that seems to be dogging his every move.

Zac might get her hot under her very starched collar, but Kat’s a professional – and sleeping with Zac is no way part of her remit…

Review

**Thank you to One More Chapter, Netgalley, and Kathryn Freeman for an early copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Up Close and Personal follows Zac Edwards, new movie star being stalked and harassed by a female fan, and Kat Parker, his new bodyguard hired by the production company of the film he is shooting. The problem? Zac and Kat are hopelessly attracted to each other and have giant personal secrets that they won’t share with the other. It’s a story full of push and pull in this relationship, made more complicated by someone trying to kill Zac…

I really enjoyed this book, which didn’t surprise me because I also really enjoyed Kathryn’s most recent book as well. The characters had a great rapport and dialogue from the beginning, and I enjoy a forbidden romance. Both Kat and Zac have their demons that affect them but also have a lot to do with their character development and in their future relationship development. The plot was intense and incorporated a realistic kind of villain.

In some parts of the book the relationship super dragged. I get why because it was forbidden, but I think it could have been more interesting if more happened when it was still forbidden. Also, there was a sub plot that really wasn’t followed up on, and I have questions about it.

Up Close and Personal was a cute, easy to read, romance that included forbidden love, emotional baggage, and a crazy stalker. It is also mostly clean for those who aren’t interested in a lot of smut in their romance books.

Happy reading, folks!

May Haul

Wow. Well I have so many thoughts running through my head as I write this blog post. I promise I will write about the books I acquired, but first I want to say that there is so much going on in the world. And there is no way to fix it without speaking up and letting our voices be heard. I am a white woman, and will never understand what it is like to black. What I do know, is that everyone, regardless of any external characteristics deserves to be treated with respect. Deserves not to be murdered by police officers, those that are here to “protect” us”. BLACK LIVES MATTER.

It’s hard to continue life with all the protests happening, on top of the pandemic. I’m going to keep this post brief because the books I acquired this month are not important comparatively.

SUBSCRIPTION BOX BOOKS

  1. The Boyfriend Project (The Boyfriend Project #1), Farrah Rochon (author who is a POC!) – Book of the Month
  2. Bone Crier’s Moon (Bone Grace #1), Kathryn Purdie – April OwlCrate

Please everyone, do what you can to support POC authors, POC creators, and in general – POC. Donate money, peacefully protest, sign petitions. Do what you can to make people hear and understand.

Happy reading, folks – and be safe.

Book Review – American Royals

“That was the thing about success, it could be even more draining than failure.” 

Title: American Royals (American Royals #1)

Author: Katharine McGee

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Publication date: September 3rd, 2019

448 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

What if America had a royal family? 

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne.

As Princess Beatrice gets closer to becoming America’s first queen regnant, the duty she has embraced her entire life suddenly feels stifling.

Nobody cares about the spare except when she’s breaking the rules, so Princess Samantha doesn’t care much about anything, either . . . except the one boy who is distinctly off-limits to her.

And then there’s Samantha’s twin, Prince Jefferson. If he’d been born a generation earlier, he would have stood first in line for the throne, but the new laws of succession make him third. Most of America adores their devastatingly handsome prince . . . but two very different girls are vying to capture his heart.

Review

“All I know is that when I need to eat my feelings, my feelings taste like Wawa milkshakes with extra M&Ms.” 

katharine mcgee, american royals

American Royals is set in an alternate reality where George Washington created a monarchy when helping America achieve it’s independence instead of a democracy. Now, 200 some years later his descendants still rule America. Princess Beatrice is first in line for the throne and must marry – but will her love of a commoner win out over royal duty? Princess Samantha knows she is the spare – it’s painfully obvious even in her code name of Sparrow. She is the wild child because she knows she will never be tasked to rule. Prince Jefferson is third in line and is unknowingly caught in a love triangle with his potentially dangerous ex-girlfriend and his commoner childhood best friend. Who will win out?

American Royals is deliciously dramatic. It is exactly what I would imagine when envisioning America with royalty. There is love, love triangles, unrequited love, and forbidden love – it is love tropes galore! I also adore how the author built in a breaking of the fourth wall in several instances – some lines like:

“Elect the king or queen—what a funny concept. Everyone knew that elections only worked for judges and Congress. Making the executive branch pander to the people, go out begging for votes—that could only end in disaster. That structure would attract the wrong sort of people: power-hungry people with twisted agendas.”

Katharine mcgee, american royals

The author makes a clear statement about how politics is today but with a cushion of fiction and snark, and I adore it. I also enjoyed the characters, who were all SO different. They each have their own “main” personality points or plot lines, but each have a separate, more secret plot or personality quirk that strongly affects who they become by the end of the series.

One thing I didn’t like was how closely part of the plot aligned with the move First Daughter with Katie Holmes. The King’s daughter falls in love with a guard. It’s different, but is too strongly related for my taste. I think it needed a new element to make it more unique.

However, THAT ENDING. Talk about shocking and cliffhanger-y. I’m so glad the decision was made to turn this into at least a duology because so much more of this story DESERVES to be told.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – The Bromance Book Club

“That’s why fiction resonates with people. It speaks to universal truths.”

Title: The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club #1)

Author: Lyssy Kay Adams

Publisher: Berkley

Publication date: November 5th, 2019

352 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The first rule of book club: You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him. 

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.

Review

“Book club isn’t just about books.”

Lyssy Kay Adams, The Bromance Book Club

The Bromance Book Club stars baseball hotshot Gavin Scott and his wife Thea. Currently, they are separated after having a huge fight revolving around faked orgasms and lying. Gavin moves out and Thea asks for a divorce. In comes Gavin’s good friend and teammate Del who introduces him to a book club run by some of Nashville’s biggest male sports star or celebrities. They read romance novels in secret in order to fix their love lives and relationships. Gavin has to do whatever it takes to fix things with Thea or he will lose her forever.

I have many thoughts about this book. First off I loved the idea of a “bromance book club”. What lady doesn’t like the idea of her man (or woman) doing research on the best way to communicate and love her? I’d personally be very happy if my fiance chose to do this, but alas it would never happen. Moving right along, like I said – love this unique concept in a romance novel.

However. Gavin and Thea are not great characters. Even Liz, a side character, is decidedly terrible (which is likely the point). These characters have a long way to go to be likable, and let’s be real Braden Mack seriously stole the whole book. I just don’t think a side character with only a few lines should be the best character in the whole book. Also, I just generally tend to like romance books featuring a new relationship compared to fixing a broken one. But that’s just me!

The Bromance Book Club is very easy to read, and outside of what I mentioned above it is well written and quite good. I had a hard time rating it, because in the initial aftermath of finishing the book I enjoyed it a lot more than when I sat down and thought about it and wrote this review.

Check back soon as I will be posting my review for the sequel, Undercover Bromance where my fave Braden will get his story!

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Get A Life, Chloe Brown

“You always say such lovely things to me, Red. Do you say them to yourself?” 

Title: Get a Life, Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters #1)

Author: Talia Hibbert

Publisher: Avon

Publication date: November 5th, 2019

373 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?

• Enjoy a drunken night out.
• Ride a motorcycle.
• Go camping.
• Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
• Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
• And… do something bad.

But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.

Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.

But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…

Review

Bravery wasn’t an identity, so much as a choice.

talia hibbert, get a life, chloe brown

Chloe Brown longs for a life of adventure, or at least what she assumed adventure is. After being diagnosed with a chronic pain disorder, she spent several years being sick and accepting it. Now, she wants to stop being safe and start living again. The problem? She doesn’t know how, or even what her definition of “adventure” and “living” is anymore. In comes Red, her apartment handyman who makes her heart beat a bit faster. She feels comfortable with him, so they make a deal. She will help him get his art career back off the ground, if he helps her check off items on her bucket list. Neither of them expect to care for the other, but they seem to understand each other better than they understand themselves.

I read this book all in one sitting (which if you follow my blog reviews can’t be that surprising for you) but I found myself really enjoying this book! I heard some mixed reviews about it, and there are definitely pieces that I will comment on, but I was swept up in Chloe and Red’s world and there are many ways in which I related to Chloe.

To start off, I want to say that I do not have chronic pain and therefore cannot comment on how accurate or representative of that community Chloe’s portrayal is. I will not speak from ignorance, and it’s a topic I do not have experience with. HOWEVER. I love Red’s ability to suss out when Chloe is feeling badly, and the care with which he treats her when she is struggling. It was one of the first endearing parts of him, when he noticed the tiny changes in her facial expressions and knew something was wrong. It made me love him so much more.

I loved the romance portion of this book and the steps both Chloe and Red took to move away from the past and forge ahead into a new future. Shaking off the binds of past expectations and characteristics, while also creating new expectations and characteristics. There really was a good level of character development. And the sex scenes were prime, not going to lie.

I hate the language though. I know this is set in the UK so this word is likely more accepted there but I hate the C word, especially when used in sex terms. Ugh, just hate it so much. I took a whole star away just for that. I hate that word more than any other word!

Thank you for sticking around for this rambling post. I look forward to Take a Hint, Dani Brown which is coming this summer!

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The Plus One Pact

Title: The Plus One Pact

Author: Portia MacIntosh

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Publication date: May 21st, 2020

Unknown # of pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

What if your plus one could be the one…?



Cara has officially run out of men. Her most recent dates have gone from bad to worse, and when her dating app informs her there is no one left in her area to choose from, she is at a dead end.

But with a summer of events ahead of her, she needs to find a solution, fast; someone to keep her company at the never-ending weddings, family gatherings and gender reveal parties that she can’t face going to alone. So when she meets handsome, confident, Millsy on a night out she may be in luck. They could not be more different in personality, but he too has a summer of events ahead and is desperate to get his family off his back about finding a ‘nice girl’. What if they made a pact to help each other out and be a plus one for the summer? Just as friends of course…?

Review

**Thank you to Boldwood Books, Netgalley, and Portia MacIntosh for an early copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

The Plus One Pact is an adorable and clean Adult Contemporary Romance. Cara is struggling with the dating scene. She strikes out every time she tries to date someone on a dating app, and she’s beginning to give up. When she is stood up by the last available guy on her dating app, she is ready to throw in the towel. At least until a handsome stranger comes over to save her. Millsy notices Cara has been stood up, and wants to help her. He enlists friends to give her a makeover and revamp her life as he tries to help her navigate the dating scene. They become fast friends, but could it ever be more?

I found this book to be so cute and I liked that it focused more on Millsy and Cara’s friendship for the summer instead of forcing a romance. Sometimes books jump straight into romance, but there are a lot amazing relationships that begin as just friends and organically grow into something more. That is Millsy and Cara’s story. They spend the summer being each other’s Plus One’s to family events – while trying not to ruin said events (there are some close calls!). At every point of the books, they are what the other needs in that moment, it’s truly beautiful.

As much as I enjoyed the friendship aspect, I almost wish the book was longer so you got to see more of the relationship aspect. It seemed to end kind of abruptly so I feel another few chapters could have continued the story without feeling unnecessary.

The Plus One Pact was an easy read that makes you wish you have a friend as good as Millsy. Because at the end of the day, it’s important to be friends with your partner.

Happy reading, folks!