4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · history · non fiction · science

The Book of Humans: The Story of How We Became Us by Adam Rutherford | ARC #BookReview

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The Book of Humans: The Story of How We Became Us by Adam Rutherford

Published: March 19, 2019 

Publisher: The Experiment 

Pages: 272 

Genres: non fiction, science, history

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: learning about science – in particular evolution, looking at the world in a different way

Foodie Vibes: a nice chopped salad 

 

Synopsis: 

We like to think of ourselves as exceptional beings, but is there really anything special about us that sets us apart from other animals? Humans are the slightest of twigs on a single family tree that encompasses four billion years, a lot of twists and turns, and a billion species. All of those organisms are rooted in a single origin, with a common code that underwrites our existence. This paradox – that our biology is indistinct from all life, yet we consider ourselves to be special – lies at the heart of who we are.

In this original and entertaining tour of life on Earth, Adam Rutherford explores how many of the things once considered to be exclusively human are not: we are not the only species that communicates, makes tools, utilises fire, or has sex for reasons other than to make new versions of ourselves. Evolution has, however, allowed us to develop our culture to a level of complexity that outstrips any other observed in nature.

THE BOOK OF HUMANS tells the story of how we became the creatures we are today, bestowed with the unique ability to investigate what makes us who we are. Illuminated by the latest scientific discoveries, it is a thrilling compendium of what unequivocally fixes us as animals, and reveals how we are extraordinary among them.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, the Experiment, and Adam Rutherford for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Like: 

  • Opportunity to learn even more about evolution 
  • Shows the specific genetics and behaviors that contribute to evolutionary change
  • Many visuals to help with understanding of the text

Love:

  • Everyone can learn something from this book
  • Complex information that’s written in an easy to understand way. You don’t need a college degree in science to understand the information 

Dislike:

  • Not so much a dislike, but more of a warning- there’s chapters on sexual activity ( because how else are new animals and humans created) It goes in depth into various sexual activities, mating practices, and genital touching. So heads up, if you end up listening as an audiobook without headphones. 

Wish that:

Overall, a well written, comprehensive book about the step by step process of evolution. Written in an interesting easily accessible manner. I definitely recommend if you’re interested in the topic!

 

In high school, did you love or hate science class?

 

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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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5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · feminism · LGBTQIA+ Books · memoir · non fiction

Sissy: A Coming-Of-Gender Story by Jacob Tobia | Release Day #BookReview

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Sissy: A Coming-Of-Gender Story by Jacob Tobia

Published: March 5, 2019 

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Pages: 336

Genres: memoir, LGBTQIA+, non fiction

Rating: 5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: gender affirming books, reading and learning more about the experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community, memoirs by people with beautiful souls, books with gorgeous covers — can you tell I loved it???

Foodie Vibes: alcohol and dorm food, because college is where you figure things out 

 

Synopsis: 

From the moment a doctor in Cary, North Carolina put “male” on Jacob Tobia’s birth certificate, everything went wrong. Alongside “male” came many other, far less neutral words: words that carried expectations about who Jacob was and who Jacob should be, like “masculine” and “aggressive” and “cargo shorts” and “SPORTS!”

Naturally sensitive, playful, creative, and glitter-obsessed, as a child Jacob was given the label “sissy.” In the two decades that followed, “sissy” joined forces with “gay,” “trans,” “nonbinary,” and “too-queer-to-function” to become a source of pride, a curse-turned-blessing, a freak-flag hoisted high.

Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story charts those decades, from Jacob’s Methodist childhood to the hallowed halls of Duke University and the portrait-laden parlors of the White House, taking you on a gender odyssey you won’t soon forget. With the snarky voice and wrenching vulnerability that have made them a media sensation, Jacob shatters the long-held notion that people are easily sortable into “men” and “women.” Sissyguarantees that you’ll never think about gender–both other people’s and your own–the same way again.

 

Review:

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, G.P. Putnam’s Sons and Jacob Tobia for an ARC copy. As always, an honest review from me.

Like: 

  • fun upbeat read – the book put m in such a good mood despite the struggles that they went through
  • their experiences navigating college life versus the “real world” as a person who is gender non binary

Love:

  • The cover: the colors are beautiful and eye catching – makes me smile every time I look at it
  • Jacob is telling their story, no matter who cares.
  • Celebrates all people in the LGBTQIA+ community, not just those who fall into the typical gender roles 
  • Their story is real, honest, raw yet is still upbeat because of their AWESOME personality
  • Their love and passion for fashion
  • They are kind, sassy and a badass!
  • The self reflection- especially acknowledging the parts of life that aren’t strictly black or white, good or bad.

Dislike:

Wish that:

  • The book was longer. People need to hear more from Jacob and their beautiful soul. 

Overall, I cannot say enough great things about this book. You absolutely need to read it!

 

Is this book on your TBR yet? 

If not, what are you waiting for?

 

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3 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · mystery · thriller

The Perfect Alibi by Phillip Hargolin | ARC #BookReview

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The Perfect Alibi by Phillip Hargolin

Published: March 5, 2019 

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Pages: 320

Genres: mystery, thriller 

Rating: 3 stars 

Recommend to fans of: science and tech heavy mysteries 

Foodie Vibes: coffee to keep you awake to find out what happens 

 

Synopsis: 

A young woman accuses a prominent local college athlete of rape. Convicted with the help of undisputable DNA evidence, the athlete swears his innocence and threatens both his lawyer and his accuser as he’s sent to prison. Not long after, there’s another rape and the DNA test shows that the same person committed both rapes—which is seemingly impossible since the man convicted of the first rape was in prison at the time of the second one. Now, the convicted athlete, joined by a new lawyer, is granted a new trial and bail. Shortly thereafter, his original lawyer disappears and his law partner is murdered.

Robin Lockwood is a young lawyer with a prestigious small law firm and a former MMA fighter who helped pay for Yale Law School with her bouts. She is representing the victim of the first rape for her civil lawsuit against her rapist, who is now convinced the rapist is stalking her and trying to intimidate her. At the same time, another client is up on a murder charge—one that should be dismissed as self-defense—but the D.A. trying the case is determined to bring it to trial. Now she has to mastermind two impossible cases, trying to find the hidden truth that links the two of them.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Minotaur Books and Phillip Hargolin for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like:

  • The premise reminds me of an episode of Law and Order SVU 
  • Short chapters: makes it easy to put down the book
  • Heavily features DNA, science and other tech — while these are not a new phenomenon, the book keeps it fresh and interesting
  • The drama, deception, lying and greed makes for an intense book

Love: 

Dislike:

  • There’s almost too much drama – which almost makes me ambivalent to the supposed to be “riveting revelations” 
  • Didn’t keep my focus well (To be fair: I was tired while reading some of the book, but that wasn’t the entire reason for difficulty focusing.)
  • The story bounced from one mystery to the next very quickly – not a fan of this

Wish that:

  • It lived up to the hype I’d created in my head

Overall, another mystery/thriller that was enjoyable but left me a little disappointed. 

 

Who else is a fan of Law and Order SVU?

#OliviaBensonIsGoals

 

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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 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · history · non fiction · science

The Human Tide: How Population Shaped the Modern World by Paul Morland | ARC #BookReview

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The Human Tide: How Population Shaped the Modern World by Paul Morland 

Published: March 5, 2019

Publisher: Public Affairs 

Pages: 352 

Genres: non fiction, science, history

Rating: 3 stars 

Recommend to fans of: being a lifelong learner, sociological, political and cultural impacts on populations over time

Foodie Vibes: the precious potato that fed or sometimes starved so many people in Ireland 

Synopsis: 

A dazzling new history of the irrepressible demographic changes and mass migrations that have made and unmade nations, continents, and empires
The rise and fall of the British Empire; the emergence of America as a superpower; the ebb and flow of global challenges from Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Soviet Russia. These are the headlines of history, but they cannot be properly grasped without understanding the role that population has played.
The Human Tide shows how periods of rapid population transition–a phenomenon that first emerged in the British Isles but gradually spread across the globe–shaped the course of world history. Demography–the study of population–is the key to unlocking an understanding of the world we live in and how we got here.
Demographic changes explain why the Arab Spring came and went, how China rose so meteorically, and why Britain voted for Brexit and America for Donald Trump. Sweeping from Europe to the Americas, China, East Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa, The Human Tide is a panoramic view of the sheer power of numbers.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Public Affairs and Paul Morland for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like:

  • a wonderful mix of sociological, economic, political, cultural and science’s effects on population changes throughout history – Fascinating!
  • Can tell the author is knowledgable and passionate about the topics
  • Has me looking at history in a new way
  • Views the population changes in a new and completely interesting way

Love:

  • Readers can learn a lot from the book.

Dislike:

-Some sections didn’t interest me or were repetitive (This could definitely be a personal preference, and may not be the case for you.)

Wish that:

  • There was more science based information. Based on the book description, I expected a better balance of science and history. 

Overall, an interesting and educational book that’s filled with so much information. The author makes the topics accessible. 

 

Which do you find more interesting: history or science?

#ScienceNerd all the way!

 

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3.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · mystery · suspense · thriller

Never Tell by Lisa Gardner | Release Day #BookReview

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Never Tell by Lisa Gardner 

Published: February 19, 2019 

Publisher: Dutton Books 

Pages: 416 

Genres: mystery, thriller, suspense

Rating: 3.5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: her other books in the series, police procedurals, mysteries written by women 

Foodie Vibes: green smoothie with all your macros that your overbearing mother made for you 

 

Synopsis: 

A man is dead, shot three times in his home office. But his computer has been shot twelve times, and when the cops arrive, his pregnant wife is holding the gun.

D. D. Warren arrives on the scene and recognizes the woman—Evie Carter—from a case many years back. Evie’s father was killed in a shooting that was ruled an accident. But for D.D., two coincidental murders is too many.

Flora Dane sees the murder of Conrad Carter on the TV news and immediately knows his face. She remembers a night when she was still a victim—a hostage—and her captor knew this man. Overcome with guilt that she never tracked him down, Flora is now determined to learn the truth of Conrad’s murder.

But D.D. and Flora are about to discover that in this case the truth is a devilishly elusive thing. As layer by layer they peel away the half-truths and outright lies, they wonder: How many secrets can one family have?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Dutton Books, and Lisa Gardner for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Like:

  • The main characters in this series (Detective D.D. Warren and Flora) – strong, intelligent female roles
  • Longish book but a quick engaging read 
  • The reveal of the killer … just wait for it!
  • The pacing of the writing 

Love: 

  • The past and the present cases coming together makes for a very great mystery 
  • Finding out what the recent murder victim really was hiding #Interesting

Dislike:

  • The mother of the victim – so over the top and somewhat unbelievable 

Wish that: 

  • The last 1/4 of the book kept my attention better – for all the action I thought I would be more engaged 

Overall, another solid mystery from the author in her D.D. Warren series. Not my favorite book of hers. But I did enjoy the return of Flora in a new role.

 

Have you read books by Lisa Gardner?

Who is your favorite mystery/thriller author? 

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5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Business · memoir · non fiction

The Master Plan: My Journey from Life in Prison to a Life of Purpose by Chris Wilson | New Release #BookReview

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The Master Plan: My Journey from Life in Prison to a Life of Purpose by Chris Wilson

Published: February 5, 2019 

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Pages: 432 

Genres: non fiction, memoir, business

Rating: 5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: inspirational memoir, lifelong learning

Foodie Vibes: healthy food choices: high quality protein, vegetables, minimal sugar and junk food 

 

Synopsis: 

The inspiring, instructive, and ultimately triumphant memoir of a man who used hard work and a Master Plan to turn a life sentence into a second chance.

Growing up in a tough Washington, D.C., neighborhood, Chris Wilson was so afraid for his life he wouldn’t leave the house without a gun. One night, defending himself, he killed a man. At eighteen, he was sentenced to life in prison with no hope of parole.

But what should have been the end of his story became the beginning. Deciding to make something of his life, Chris embarked on a journey of self-improvement–reading, working out, learning languages, even starting a business. He wrote his Master Plan: a list of all he expected to accomplish or acquire. He worked his plan every day for years, and in his mid-thirties he did the impossible: he convinced a judge to reduce his sentence and became a free man. Today Chris is a successful social entrepreneur who employs returning citizens; a mentor; and a public speaker. He is the embodiment of second chances, and this is his unforgettable story.

 

Review:

I won this book for free from Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, G.P. Putnam’s Sons and Chris Wilson for an ARC copy. As always, an honest review from me.

Like: 

  • I learned a lot — about the prison system, prison life, growing up with limited resources, fear, too few positive role models, a system that works against you. Basically so many of the things I was fortunate enough to not have to experience while growing up. 
  • Gives actual insight into the day to day experiences of so many kids experiencing the same things as him

Love:

  • The hard work he puts into his life
  • Inspiring story — including all the steps and setbacks that have led to his success and happiness
  • Hes a lifelong learner
  • His Master Plan: so poignant, applicable, and helpful for many people 
  • He wrote his book to be an inspiration, a guide to those people with his experiences that don’t have it all figured out yet.
  • Couldn’t stop reading it 
  • Well written and relatable 
  • Business oriented but still very approachable

Dislike:

  • The prison system doesn’t set people up for success when they get out – desperately needs changing 

Wish that:

  • Many people take his book and life teachings to heart, so they can improve their lives like they so deserve.

Overall, a really great book that I’ve already been recommending to other people. 

 

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2.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · mystery · thriller

The Moroccan Girls by Charles Cummings | ARC #BookReview

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The Moroccan Girls by Charles Cummings 

Published: February 12, 2019 

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 368 

Genres: mystery, thriller 

Rating: 2.5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: spy novels set in Europe

Foodie Vibes: coffee at an outdoor cafe and people watching 

 

Synopsis: 

Kit Carradine is the successful author of several best-selling novels. When he is approached by MI6 and asked to carry out a simple task on behalf of his country while attending a literary festival in Morocco, he jumps at the chance.

But all is not as it seems. Carradine soon finds himself on the trail of Lara Bartok, a leading figure in Resurrection, a violent revolutionary movement targeting prominent right-wing political figures around the world. Caught between competing intelligence services who want Bartok dead, Carradine faces a choice: to abandon Bartok to her fate or to risk everything trying to save her.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Charles Cummings for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

I needed up DNFing this book about halfway through, because honestly I was bored …. Which is not something you want in a spy thriller. 

Like: 

  • The premise of using a novelist who writes thrillers, as a spy 
  • The overall atmosphere of sitting outside in a European country waiting for the action to happen

Love:

  • The cover – GORGEOUS!

Dislike:

  • Boring! For a spy thriller, there wasn’t much action happening. Granted, I ended up DNFing it at 50% of the way through, but this genre should capture my attention way before that. 

Wish that: 

  • I had more to say about the book. Nothing was bad per say, but nothing was great either. 

Overall, not the book for me. Maybe I’m the only one that feels this way, but these are my thoughts on the book. I did learn that I’m not as big of a spy thriller fan as I originally thought. So maybe that had something to do with my opinions on the book. Who knows? 

 

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How long do you wait before you DNF a book?

 

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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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