2.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · romance

What Happens in the Ruins by Kelsey McNight | Romance Novel

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What Happens in the Ruins by Kelsey McNight 

Rating: 2.5 stars 

Published: July 8, 2019 

Publisher: Tule Publishing 

Pages: 222

Genres: romance, contemporary romance 

Recommend to fans of: contemporary romance novels in Scotland

 

Synopsis:

Can she stop her past from ruining her future?

Sorcha Mackinnon isn’t your typical tortured artist. She is also a party girl, a vintage shopper, and the heiress to a whisky fortune. But when inspiration suddenly flies out the window, she’s left with an empty whisky glass and a blank canvas…until a childhood friend waltzes back into her life.

She’s known Danny Gordon since birth, but they lost touch as their careers took them in different directions. He offers to show her the parts of Scotland he swears will spark life back into her brushes. And as they tour the sights on the back of his motorcycle, Sorcha realizes that under the tattoos and smart mouth, Danny may inspire more in her than just a new painting.

But as a good time begins to morph into an ever after, Sorcha is reminded of old wounds that just won’t heal. Danny tries to open her heart, but her self-imposed isolation makes things harder than ever. Now she must decide what to do, because what happens in the ruins doesn’t always stay there.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Tule Publishing, and Kelsey McNight for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like:

  • Builds the romance and most importantly the friendship between Danny? And Sorcha before jumping into the sexy times. There’s still enough flirting and mild physical contact to remind me reader that it’s a romance novel they’re reading. 
  • The sexy times start about 25% of the way through the book, which I think is the right time (enough pages to get to know the characters as people, but not so much that it becomes a contemporary fiction novel with only a tiny bit of romance)
  • The settings: a good mix of old and new places to create a perfect atmosphere for new romance to spark

Love: 

  • The setting – beautiful, romantic, interesting, and unique for a romance novel 
  • The cover = beautifully done!

Dislike: 

  • For a second, I thought there was going to be someone cheating on their best friend (still not sure), so that took away from the enjoyment of the book for a bit
  • A little more interpersonal tension that I would have lived in a romance novel 
  • The story/plotline aspect didn’t really capture my attention, which is vital to me in a romance novel … or really any novel 

Wish that: 

  • More unique – it’s cute but a generic romance novel. Nothing that particularly sets it apart 
  • The different moments within the story were more cohesive into the overall story 

Overall, fairly good in the romance aspect but a bit of a let down when it comes to the contemporary fiction story telling. A great read, but as someone who is very particular about her romance novels, I’m going to give this one a pass. Not a bad book, so I would still say to consider reading it if the synopsis interests you. 

 

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5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Books About Books · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · romance

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman | ARC #BookReview

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The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Rating: 5 stars 

Published: July 9, 2019 

Publisher: Berkley Books 

Pages: 352

Genres: contemporary fiction, romance, books about books, mental health 

Recommend to fans of: books about the bookish world, quirky relatable anxious characters

 

Synopsis:

Meet Nina Hill: A young woman supremely confident in her own…shell.

The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book. 

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all–or mostly all–excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.

1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.) 

2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee). 

3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Berkley Books, and Abbi Waxman for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like: 

  • Too cute but there’s definitely some adult content at times (not too much)
  • Lots of trivia games
  • Socially anxious, planner and overall funny person — sums up the main character, Nina Hill

Love: 

  • Relatable for all bookish nerds like me!
  • The colorful, fun cover
  • Such an enjoyable read … I cannot get enough of it (an actual note I wrote to myself while reading)
  • Sarcastic and witty
  • Shows that people like her can have a love life. There’s hope for people who don’t fit the typical extroverted, supermodel beauty, perfect life societal ideal.

Dislike: 

  • Some of Nina’s extended family — I don’t see the reason they need to be so rude to her. Luckily it doesn’t take up much of the book or create too much tension.

Wish that: 

  • Nina could better explain to people why she needs to be alone when dealing with a lot of anxiety, post panic attack, or a day that required too much socialization. I absolutely understand that this can be very difficult, but this perspective and explanation could also be very validating for others who struggle with anxiety and/or an introvert. It’s also a great way to educate others, who can’t relate to Nina, as to the frustrating life moments that Nina and so many others experience. 

Overall, this book is why I love reading. Thank you to the author for bringing me such joy while reading The Bookish Life of Nina Hill. The book has truly been the highlight of my week … well, besides all the cats I’ve also gotten to pet. I’m sure Nina Hill would agree with that one!

 

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4.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · Young Adult

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han | #BookReview #TATBILB #LaraJean

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P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Rating: 4.5 

Published: May 26, 2015

Publisher: Simon & Schuster for Young Readers

Pages: 337 

Genres: contemporary romance, contemporary fiction, young adult 

Recommend to fans of: the first book of the series, sweet fun young adult romance novels, baking cookies, the movie To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

 

Synopsis:

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.

She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.

When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

 

Review:

Like:

  • The romance that the other family members are experiencing 
  • Day to day life at the Covey household
  • Sweet, sappy but realistic romance that will remind you of high school

Love: 

  • Cute, fun sweet feel good book
  • Low intensity read that’s great to read during a stressful time in life – a great getaway in a book
  • The Song girl’s relationship – basically the best part of the book, in my opinion
  • All the delicious baking with the Song girls 
  • Lara Jean’s time spent volunteering in a nursing home – allows her to put her whimsical party planning skills to good use and Stormy (a resident) is a hoot!

Dislike: 

  • Some of the illness of the dating and jealous, but that’s typical of teenagers. To be fair, this book contained far less drama than most other young adult novels. 
  • the continual drama between Lara Jean and Genevieve 
  • Not as much of a fan of Chris in this book, because her pessimism gets old after awhile 

Wish that: 

  • The next movie was already made, so I could watch in immediately!
  • there was more of the Song girls together 
  • I wasn’t so confused between the Covey/Song girls – I don’t know why this confuses me … don’t be mad at me for not knowing this 

Overall, another great book in the series. I didn’t enjoy P.S. I Still Love You as much as the first book, but you can bet I’m going to read the next one in the series! In P.S. I Still Love You we get even more of Lara Jean’s iconic baking, optimistic innocent romance, Kitty’s sarcastic meddling and so much more drama. 

 

How many of you have read this book, or any of them in the series? 

And the real question is . . . are you a Margot, Lara Jean, or Kitty? 

 

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4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · mystery · thriller

Whisper Network by Chandler Baker | ARC #BookReview #MeToo

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Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

Rating: 4.5 stars 

Published: July 2, 2019 

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Pages: 352 

Genres: mystery, thriller, contemporary fiction 

Recommend to fans of: office drama, modern day feminist issues, MeToo movement, issues relating to sexism and feminism in the workplace 

 

Synopsis:

Four women learn their boss (a man who’s always been surrounded by rumors about how he treats women) is next in line to be CEO—what will happen when they decide enough is enough?

Sloane, Ardie, Grace, and Rosalita are four women who have worked at Truviv, Inc., for years. The sudden death of Truviv’s CEO means their boss, Ames, will likely take over the entire company. Ames is a complicated man, a man they’ve all known for a long time, a man who’s always been surrounded by…whispers. Whispers that have always been ignored by those in charge. But the world has changed, and the women are watching Ames’s latest promotion differently. This time, they’ve decided enough is enough. 

Sloane and her colleagues set in motion a catastrophic shift within every floor and department of the Truviv offices. All four women’s lives—as women, colleagues, mothers, wives, friends, even adversaries—will change dramatically as a result.

“If only you had listened to us,” they tell us on page one, “none of this would have happened.”

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Flatiron Books and Chandler Baker for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Like:

  • Lots of background info and a good lead to the drama 
  • Different outlooks from different women – the accusers and the man’s wife 
  • People will have strong reactions to the book’s topics, which is great to get a discussion going 
  • Perfect for book clubs – in person or online!
  • Behind the scenes look at an investigation into sexual harassment claims 
  • Real life modern day work place issues – relatable to so many

Love: 

  • More books are discussing this topic: sexual harassment in the workplace. Men can’t get away with inappropriate behavior and the imbalance of power anymore 
  • A #MeToo topic book!
  • The camaraderie of the women in the workplace without being overbearing and anti men. The story feels very balanced and shows the perspectives of different people and different genders 
  • Several mentions of breast feeding in a positive manner. We don’t see this enough in books!
  • Really enjoyable to read; great pacing, wonderful writing, seamless plot transitions

Dislike:

  • Lots of information, but reads as a slow pace book at times – mainly during the beginning. It does level out to a much better pace about 25% of the way in. 
  • Not a dislike for me, but possibly for other people. Lots of discussions of sexual harassment, suicide, and legal issues involving these topics. 

Wish that: 

  • Captured my attention more (in the first half). It’s interesting, but with this topic feel like it could do so much more.
  • I related to the women more at the beginning of the story, since the discussion was from the POV of the accused’s wife

 

Overall, a wonderful book about modern day women in the workplace. Many issues were brought up in the context of the story. I think a lot of people will relate to and enjoy this novel. For awhile I wasn’t sure if I wanted to request an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley, but I’m so glad that I did. Definitely recommend! 

 

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4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · coming of age · contemporary fiction · mental health · Young Adult

The Art of Breaking Things by Laura Sibson | ARC #BookReview #MeToo #IReadYA

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The Art of Breaking Things by Laura Sibson

Rating: 4 stars 

Published: June 18, 2019 

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers 

Pages: 304

Genres: contemporary fiction, young adult, mental health

Recommend to fans of: teenagers exploring difficult topics and phases in life, young women finding their voice, the #MeToo movement 

 

Synopsis:

In the tradition of Laurie Halse Anderson and Sara Zarr, one girl embraces the power of her voice: rules are meant to be broken and she won’t stay silent.

Seventeen-year-old Skye has her sights set on one thing: getting the heck out of Dodge. Art school is her ticket out and she’s already been accepted to her first choice, MICA. All she has to do is survive her senior year, not get too drunk at parties, and be there for her little sister, Emma. Sure, she’s usually battling a hangover when she drives to pick Emma up, but she has everything under control. Until he returns.

When her mom’s ex-boyfriend slithers his way back into her family, it’s all Skye can do to keep the walls of her world from crumbling. Her family has no idea Skye has been guarding a dark secret about her past–about him–and she never thought she would have to face him again. She knows she has to get away from him at all costs. But how can she abandon Emma? Skye’s heart is torn between escaping the man who hurt her years ago and protecting her loved ones from the monster in their midst. Running away from her fears isn’t an option. To save her sister–and herself–she’ll have to break all the rules.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Viking Books for Young Readers, and Laura Sibson for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Trigger warning: sexual abuse of a child 

Like: 

  • The foreshadowing – good, but is about terrible things to come 
  • The main character: Skye
  • Good perspective about college: a way to be who you could be and learn lots about yourself, life and a career
  • The abuse isn’t too graphic or triggering in my opinion
  • Very realistic portrayal of a teenager coming to terms with being sexually abused by her step father and the impact it has on her life 

Love: 

  • Discusses very difficult to talk about topics (sexual abuse) as the character is experiencing them 
  • Art as a way to express oneself in a way that words can’t 

Dislike: 

  • Lots of drugs, drinking and partying – it’s realistic to the character and her situation, but it’s not something that I enjoyed reading about 
  • The teenage boy that she had a relationship with/ didn’t consent to/ doesn’t remember that night — confusing and not sure if I read that scene correctly 
  • Most of the book in some manner, revolves around the main character being sexually abused 

Wish that: 

  • there was more opportunity for her mother to explain, think about, and remember what happened on the day her daughter was sexually abused. The story wraps up rather quickly and doesn’t give much time to explore what happened further. 
  • The story was a little more balanced, in terms of content. 

Overall, a good realistic portrayal of Skye, a teenage girl, coming to terms with being sexually abused by her step father years ago. A definite trigger warning for most of the story revolving around this topic, but it doesn’t get too explicitly graphic. I would have liked a more well balanced story, but in general an important and fairly enjoyable read. 

 

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5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · Young Adult

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

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Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Rating: 5 stars 

Published: June 4, 2019 

Publisher: Berkley Books

Pages: 368 

Genres: contemporary, young adult, retellings 

Recommend to fans of: fun upbeat books, family drama and romance combined

 

Synopsis:

A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.

Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.

Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.

 

Review:

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Berkley Books and Uzma Jalaluddin for an ARC copy of the book. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like:

– Labeled as a modern day Pride and Prejudice

– Set in Canada – allows the story to be told without all the political ramifications of the current U.S. President

– The colors of the book cover will make sense once you read the book 

Love:

– Shows the varying degree to which Muslims practice their religion and engage in the culture while living in the Western world

– Brings me such joy to read. You’ve gotta love a book like that!

– The love story is so darn cute

– I couldn’t stop reading. Something about the characters, the drama, the love story … all of it combined makes for a can’t put down read.

– The perfect mix of religion and culture, family drama, and contemporary romance – needed all of these elements to make the book come together so well

– The family dynamics … aka DRAMA but in a good way filled with a lot of love

– The rishtas (arranged marriage proposals) — I’m not a fan of the concept, but it was fascinating and endearing to read about. 

Dislike:

– The prejudiced boss

– The judgmental people in general 

– Certain characters being forced into an arranged marriage

Wish that:

– There’s a sequel to the book – cannot wait to read more

– The ending didn’t wrap up so quickly- would have liked another 20 pages or so

Overall, a wonderful book that was an absolute joy to read. At its core the story is a romance while still including complex family dynamics, community, and the realities of being Muslim in the Western world. I would love to read another book by the author.

 

 

I LOOOOOOOOVED this book!

What about you?

Have you read it?

What did you think?

 

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4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · mental health · Young Adult

The Quiet You Carry by Nikki Barthelmess | Release Day #BookReview

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The Quiet You Carry by Nikki Barthelmess

Published: March 5, 2019 

Publisher: Flux

Pages: 272

Genres: young adult, contemporary, mental health

Rating: 4 stars 

Recommend to fans of: books about foster care, not too triggering books about sexual abuse, teens dealing with tough challenges 

Foodie Vibes: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch every day, because the state doesn’t pay your foster mom enough money 

 

Synopsis:

Victoria Parker knew her dad’s behavior toward her was a little unusual, but she convinced herself everything was fine—until she found herself locked out of the house at 3:00 a.m., surrounded by flashing police lights.

Now, dumped into a crowded, chaotic foster home, Victoria has to tiptoe around her domineering foster mother, get through senior year at a new school, and somehow salvage her college dreams . . . all while keeping her past hidden.

But some secrets won’t stay buried—especially when unwanted memories make Victoria freeze up at random moments and nightmares disrupt her sleep. Even worse, she can’t stop worrying about her stepsister Sarah, left behind with her father. All she wants is to move forward, but how do you focus on the future when the past won’t leave you alone?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Flux, and Nikki Barthelmess for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Trigger warning: not too graphic mentions of sexual abuse and incest, suicide attempt, self harm 

Like:

  • We get to see Connie, the foster mom, grow as a person and a character
  • Connie means well and her rules are there for a reason even if they seem unfair 
  • The different characters’ experiences – we get a more well rounded picture of foster care through the parents, step parents, foster parents, other foster kids, step siblings, friends, teachers, and social worker
  • Victoria’s friends
  • Mentions how the stress physically affects different characters

Love:

  • A book about foster kids (both young kids and teens) good representation for an often not talked about set of kids and experiences
  • Victoria (main character) is relatable, hard working without being perfect, willing to change, the kind of girl you’d want to be friends with
  • The adults who look out for Victoria’s well being – shows that there are people out there who care
  • The revelations of how much the dad manipulated the whole family – really important to show how manipulative, deceptive and mean abusers can be, even within their own family

Dislike:

  • The dad and the step mom’s actions/inactions
  • Some parts feel a bit contrived to make the story work, but it could also be extremely realistic

Wish that:

  • The book was longer (I get that shorter reads appeal to a young spectrum of readers, so I understand why.)

Overall, a realistic happily ever after book about foster care challenges and surviving sexual abuse. I can see this book being very important, educational and validating for many teens and pre-teens dealing with similar experiences. 

 

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What did you think of it?

 

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