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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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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3 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Chick Lit · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · romance · Uncategorized

Otherwise Engaged by Lindsey Palmer | Release Day #BookReview

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Otherwise Engaged by Lindsey Palmer 

Published: February 26, 2019 

Publisher: Skyhorse

Pages: 304

Genres: romance, chick lit, contemporary fiction

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to fans of: character studies, women whose lives aren’t happily ever after

Foodie Vibes: wedding cake tasting and then hitting the local bar afterwards 

 

Synopsis: 

Life is sweet for New Yorkers Molly and Gabe: They’re young, in love, and newly engaged.

But when Gabe sells his first novel—a thinly-veiled retelling of his wild love affair with ex-girlfriend Talia—and it becomes a national sensation, Molly can’t help but feel like the third wheel. To make matters worse, Talia reappears in Gabe’s life, eager to capitalize on the book’s success and to rekindle what she had with Gabe… at least, that’s how it seems to Molly. But even more concerning? Gabe doesn’t seem concerned at all. Instead, he’s delighting in his newfound fame and success.

Jealous, paranoid, and increasingly desperate, Molly starts to spin out of control. Her social life, work life, and love life all go to pieces. As fact and fiction, and past and present, begin to blur, Molly realizes the only way out of this downward spiral is to fight her way back up. But what—if anything—will be left of her life and her relationship when she arrives?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Skyhorse, and Lindsey Palmer for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Like:

  • The character of Sam – she’s unsure about life, but she tells it like it is
  • It’s a character study
  • The storylines with Molly’s mom — so sweet!
  • Watching a far from perfect relationship unfold

Love:

Dislike:

  • Gabe’s book — the writing is so cringe worthy
  • Doesn’t go very in depth into so many hard hitting topics such as uncertainty in relationships, becoming a mother, addiction, medical fraud, and more. There’s so much potential to really understand the characters’ feelings about experiences about these struggles.
  • People cheating on each other — ahhhhh, one of the things I really dislike in books 

Wish that: 

  • Molly had just finished reading Gabe’s book, because then maybe she wouldn’t have freaked out so much
  • I liked more of the characters. None of them really resonated with me, and I wanted to shake them out of so many of their bad actions.
  • Was marketed correctly – I thought I was getting into a fluffy romance novel, but that wasn’t the case.

Overall, I feel like this is either a book you’ll love or go “meh” about. I’m in the later category. For me it’s less about the quality but more about the fit between the book and reader. 

 

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3.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Christian fiction · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance

One Thing I Know by Kara Isaac | ARC #BookReview

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One Thing I Know by Kara Isaac

Published: February 12, 2019

Publisher: Howard Books

Pages: 384

Genres: contemporary fiction, contemporary romance, Christian fiction 

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: sweet but realistic romances, Christian fiction that isn’t religion heavy books about the bookish wolrd

Foodie Vibes: a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant – business networking 

 

Synopsis: 

A fresh, heartfelt romance involving a case of mistaken identity when a ghostwriter masquerades as a relationship expert and the man who is determined to expose her holds not only the key to her success, but also her heart…

Rachel Somers is America’s #1 relationship coach—America just doesn’t know it. Rachel writes the books, but her Aunt Donna plays the face of the operation. Afraid of their secret being exposed, Rachel has no choice but to keep up the charade or lose the big money required to care for her father.

Lucas Grant is a star of late night radio and set on achieving his dream of syndication. When a big-time producer calls, it looks like his hard work is about to pay off. But the offer comes with a catch—the producer is convinced Dr. Donna is not what she seems and he wants Lucas to discover her secret. To do that, he needs to win over her tight-lipped assistant who holds the key to his success and—he begins to suspect—his heart. Can love find a way through the lies that force them apart?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Howard Books and Kara Isaac for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like: 

  • The sweet and realistic romance 
  • Romance in a casual work setting 
  • The main characters: relatable with good intentions 
  • Dr. Donna: I wasn’t a fan at the beginning, but came around to understand and like her. 
  • Easy fun read
  • The romance parts aren’t too overly descriptive that it would be inappropriate/uncomfortable to listen out loud, as an audiobook 

Love: 

  • Set in the book and publishing world – always a fun bonus!
  • Reminds me of an episode of Law and Order SVU (but without the sexual assault part) 

Dislike: 

  • The spicy food scene in the restaurant: Didn’t achieve the goal of bringing them together and just seemed weird/unnecessary 
  • I didn’t mind, but others might, that it didn’t mention religion until 80% of the way through. Not an intense Christian fiction book

Wish that: 

  • Some of the reasons for the deception didn’t fall together quite as easily 
  • Felt less disjointed: the first 2/3 and the last 1/3 of the story seemed different in tone and writing 

Overall, a fun sweet romance that I enjoyed. Nothing too intense, but perfect if you’re looking for a realistic happily ever after. Bonus points for being set in the bookish world!

 

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

ARC Review | Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell

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Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell 

Published: February 19, 2019

Publisher: Amberjack

Pages: 337

Genres: young adult, contemporary fiction, contemporary romance

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: books about bloggers and the internet life, fun but serious young adult novels, mother daughter dynamics

Foodie Vibes: candy corn and a Halloween movie to watch with your not yet boyfriend 

 

Synopsis: 

Mommy blogs are great . . . unless the blog happens to belong to your mom.

Twin sisters Claire & Poppy are accidental social media stars thanks to Mom going viral when they were babies. Now, as teens, they’re expected to contribute by building their own brand. Attending a NY fashion week and receiving fan mail is a blast. Fending off internet trolls and would-be kidnappers? Not so much. Poppy embraces it. Claire hates it. Will anybody accept her as “just Claire”? And what should Claire do about Mom’s old journals? The handwritten entries definitely don’t sound like Mom’s perfect blog persona. Worse, one of them divulges a secret that leaves Claire wondering what else in her life might be nothing but a sham . . .

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Amberjack, and Kara McDowell for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Just for Clicks centers around Claire, Poppy – her twin sister, and their mother. Since they were little girls Claire and Poppy have been vlogging, blogging and doing all sorts of paid sponsorships for their mom’s online brand. The blog started as a way for their mom to share their family moments with friends and also allowed her to support herself and her family after her husband passed away. 

I like that the book explores how a well intentioned start can spiral a bit out of control if one doesn’t stop to reevaluate their life choices every so often. Also the contrast between Claire not enjoying the Internet fandom and Poppy loving it, allows for an interesting multifaceted look at the internet life a s career. Neither twin is wrong, just different. It’s nice to see that there’s not the good twin, bad twin dynamic going on. I also appreciated that communication played a big role in the story. Watching the characters learn how to communicate their needs to others was wonderful. And some of the revelations … let’s just say, it keeps things interesting!

There were very few moments that I didn’t enjoy. If I’m being very critical, then some of the miscommunications or non communications became almost annoying after awhile. 

But overall, I really enjoyed this fun upbeat look into the behind the scenes world of internet fame as a career. Complex relationships, relatable struggles and a whole lot of fun. Definitely recommend!

 

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