Day Zero by Kelly deVos

I received this book as a part of the Winter 2020 Harlequin Trade Publishing Blog Tour for Inkyard Press! Thank you to Kelly deVos, Harlequin Books, Inkyard Press & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

551-03-Winter-Blog-2020-640x247.jpg

Publication Date: November 12, 2019
Publisher: Inkyard Publishing

Rating: ★★★

If you’re going through hell…keep going.

Seventeen-year-old coder Jinx Marshall grew up spending weekends drilling with her paranoid dad for a doomsday she’s sure will never come. She’s an expert on self-heating meal rations, Krav Maga and extracting water from a barrel cactus. Now that her parents are divorced, she’s ready to relax. Her big plans include making it to level 99 in her favorite MMORPG and spending the weekend with her new hunky stepbrother, Toby.

But all that disaster training comes in handy when an explosion traps her in a burning building. Stuck leading her headstrong stepsister, MacKenna, and her precocious little brother, Charles, to safety, Jinx gets them out alive only to discover the explosion is part of a pattern of violence erupting all over the country. Even worse, Jinx’s dad stands accused of triggering the chaos.

In a desperate attempt to evade paramilitary forces and vigilantes, Jinx and her siblings find Toby and make a break for Mexico. With seemingly the whole world working against them, they’ve got to get along and search for the truth about the attacks—and about each other. But if they can survive, will there be anything left worth surviving for?

Review:

Susan aka “Jinx” had a father who was called Mr. Doomsday. Jinx’s dad wrote the book The Doomsday Guide to Ultimate Survival and they spent a lot of time, tirelessly working at the drills that her father wrote in this book. Just when Susan’s mother divorces her father and she’s ready to calm down with her little brother Charles, the worst happens. Doomsday approaches and the government thinks it was Jinx’s father who triggered all of these events. It’s apparent that it’s a choice of “remember your training” or “throw everything out the window” type scenario.

This book had such a fantastic start, it had me on the edge of my seat. I read through the first 30% within an hour I believe. It wasn’t something that I had read before. A doomsday prepper turned possible doomsday …starter?! It was so intriguing to see the steps play out in Jinx’s head after years and years of having them drilled into her mind with her little brother.

After I got to a certain spot, this novel began to drag for me. It was almost like I got through some of the best parts in that first 30% and then …poof, it stopped. I kept reading because I was very curious on how this book was going to end and what was going to happen. There were points that had you wondering if this was just in her local town or was it worldwide and other doomsday thoughts that a person might have.

One of my biggest issues that I had with this novel were the characters. They seemed almost unlikable as I got further and further into it. I loved Charlie and I wanted to take him home with me. He was hilarious and had his own little spin. If book two was in Charlie’s point-of-view, I would read it in a heartbeat.

Overall, this was a good young adult novel. I would read this again and I would recommend it. Keep an open mind when reading after hitting that little wall because it might be a better of a rating for you!

Well Met by Jen Deluca

Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Rating: ★★★

All’s faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author, Jen DeLuca.

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.

Review:

“I didn’t choose the wench life. The wench life chose me.”

Well Met started out so strong for me. I loved the learning about the characters, what their situations were and where they came from. I especially loved Emily and her sister because it showed their relationship and how eager she was to help her after her accident. It gave me a warm feeling that I would do for my sister as well.

Now, I picked this up because:
1) I was seeing it everywhere on Goodreads & Instagram.
2) I saw that it was a debut author which I love to read because it’s something fresh and usually has a new type of story which I haven’t ever read. (YAY for Renaissance Faires!)
3) I am a SUCKER for enemies-to-lovers romances.
4) It was nominated for the Goodreads Best of 2019 Awards!

I am someone who likes some steam in a romance novel, but this book didn’t have that much in it and I still found it to be adorable and a great story. The only issue that I noticed with this book is that it took a little too long to get started for me.

As I was reading, I thought that the book was progressing alright. I kept reading and then realized I was a little bit past the halfway point where things finally started to progress. If it started maybe 10-15% earlier, I think that this book would’ve kept my attention to the point where I would’ve finished this book right away. I am someone who loves a good slow burn novel, ESPECIALLY when it comes to friends-to-lovers and enemies-to-lovers books, but this burn was just a littletoo slow for me.

Overall, I think that Jen DeLuca did a great job in her debut novel. I loved the beginning of this story and the ending was very sweet as well. I am very excited to see what will come from her in the future!

October 2019 Reads

Number of Books Read: 4
Avg. Rating of the 4 books: 3/5
Five Star Ratings: 0/4

  • Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell (Carry On #2)
  • The Broken Canvas by Tai Barnett
  • The Library of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey
  • Meant to Be Yours by Susan Mallery (Happily Inc. #5)

 

Well, as I’ve read 130+ books this year so far, I hit a wall in October. My slump did only allow 4 books, but 4 is better than none to me!

Meant to Be Yours by Susan Mallery

I received this book as a part of the Harlequin Book Tour for Romance & Women’s Fiction! Thank you to Susan Mallery, Harlequin Books, & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

551-02-Winter-Blog-900x337

Publication Date: October 22, 2019
Publisher: Harlequin Books

Rating: ★★★

In Happily Inc, love means never having to say “I do”…

Wedding coordinator Renee Grothen isn’t meant for marriage. Those who can, do. Those who can’t, plan. But she never could have planned on gorgeous, talented thriller writer Jasper Dembenski proposing—a fling, that is. Fun without a future. And the attraction between them is too strong for Renee to resist. Now she can have her no-wedding cake…and eat it, too.

After years in the military, Jasper is convinced he’s too damaged for relationships. So a flirtation—and more—with fiery, determined Renee is way too good to pass up…until his flame becomes his muse.

Renee is an expert at averting every crisis. But is she finally ready to leap into the one thing that can never be controlled: love?

Review:

This is the 5th book in the Happily Inc. series and I will say that I didn’t have any trouble following along!

Renee is a wedding coordinator and has zero plans of getting married. She has a deep family history and has been left burned in the love department to the point where she doesn’t have marriage on her radar in the slightest. Enter Jasper. Jasper was a military man that was left with his own issues after returning home from the war.

I liked Renee right away. Her character was someone that can definitely be relatable in the love department. She had her own realistic issues and you could really see where she was coming from. I had a little bit of a hard time with Jasper’s character. I’m not someone who ever experienced war or had a friend/family member who did either. He seemed almost unlikable, but that’s how it is with people that have PTSD, etc. They are not always themselves.

I did enjoy the entertaining and romantic aspect of this book. I liked watching Jasper and Renee falling in love and they did not even realize their doing. It was a great story to read and I could absolutely imagine it in my head.

The only issue that I really had was the characters and the fact that it felt a little rushed to me. I was reading and reading and then I realized that it was the end and I was reading into the next story that was included in this book. I was a little confused and I thought that it could have been written a little more in depth with more details to really make it feel like they were perfect.

 

Twenty-one Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks

Publication Date: November 19, 2019
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Rating: ★★★

1. Daniel Mayrock loves his wife Jill…more than anything.
2. Dan quit his job and opened a bookshop.
3. Jill is ready to have a baby.
4. Dan is scared; the bookshop isn’t doing well. Financial crisis is imminent.
5. Dan hasn’t told Jill about their financial trouble. He’s ashamed.
6. Then Jill gets pregnant.

This heartfelt story is about the lengths one man will go to and the risks he will take to save his family. But Dan doesn’t just want to save his failing bookstore and his family’s finances—he wants to become someone.

1. Dan wants to do something special.
2. He’s a man who is tired of feeling ordinary.
3. He’s sick of feeling like a failure.
4. Of living in the shadow of his wife’s deceased first husband.

Dan is also an obsessive list maker, and his story unfolds entirely in his lists, which are brimming with Dan’s hilarious sense of humor, unique world-view, and deeply personal thoughts. When read in full, his lists paint a picture of a man struggling to be a man, a man who has reached a point where he’s willing to anything for the love (and soon-to-be new love) of his life.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press & Matthew Dicks for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Twenty-one Truths About Love is about a man named Daniel who quit his teaching career to open a bookstore. He’s going through a lot with his marriage, losing money and more when he finds out that his wife is pregnant. To help him cope with his life, he makes lists in a diary that displays all different types of areas in life. He figures out what he needs to do and his finances and how he will make it all work. Things are rough for Daniel, but you see just how his mind is working through the lists he creates.

There was a lot to love about this book. Daniel, as a character, was hilarious and had a lot of funny moments in his lists. With this character, you could see the changes in him. He tried to be funny when his life was “falling apart” and it was easy to see that. It reminded me of how we really are as humans. We put on this show of how we are alright on the outside when we are struggling on the inside. I think this is an important reminder for the author to point out, and I’m appreciative of Matthew Dicks doing so.

The book itself got a little tiring in the list format. It’s unique and I was definitely interested in the list aspect of it, but after a while, I got a little bored of it. It was a lot of numbers and titles and it was kind of hard to get through by the end.

The other issue that I had with this book was that I began reading this book because of the synopsis that Daniel was the owner of a bookstore. I feel as though the author only referenced books a couple of times and barely talked about Daniel’s bookish side of life a handful of times.

I think that this novel would be very promising if there were some paragraphs thrown into the mix with the lists. As someone who worked in a library for 10 years, I would’ve liked to see more of Daniel’s bookstore life. However, I understand that this was about Daniel and the journey he had on becoming a father, etc. If you are a lover of general fiction, I’d pick this one up!

 

September 2019 Reads

Number of Books Read: 17
Avg. Rating of the 17 books: 3.82/5
Five Star Ratings: 5/17
*Five Star Rated Books are bold.

  • Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
  • Shoulda Been a Cowboy by Maisey Yates (Copper Ridge #0.5)
  • Part Time Cowboy by Maisey Yates (Copper Ridge #1)
  • Brokedown Cowboy by Maisey Yates (Copper Ridge #2)
  • Bad News Cowboy by Maisey Yates (Copper Ridge #3)
  • Hometown Heartbreaker by Maisey Yates (Copper Ridge #3.5)
  • One Night Charmer by Maisey Yates (Copper Ridge #4)
  • Tough Luck Hero by Maisey Yates (Copper Ridge #5)
  • Last Chance Rebel by Maisey Yates (Copper Ridge #6)
  • Slow Burn Cowboy by Maisey Yates (Copper Ridge #7)
  • Down Home Cowboy by Maisey Yates (Copper Ridge #8)
  • Wild Ride Cowboy by Maisey Yates (Copper Ridge #9)
  • Christmastime Cowboy by Maisey Yates (Copper Ridge #10)
  • You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle
  • How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
  • Twenty-one Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks
  • Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

Publication Date: April 7, 2020
Publisher: Putnam Books
Rating: ★★★★★

For fans of The Hating Game, a debut lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy about two unhappily engaged people each trying to force the other to end the relationship–and falling back in love in the process.

Naomi Westfield has an Instagram-perfect life, including the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family every bride dreams of being a part of. They never fight, complain, or disagree. They’re preparing for their lavish wedding that’s three months away. And they are miserably and utterly sick of each other.

Tired of contorting herself to fit the ridiculous standards demanded by Nicholas’s family, Naomi wants out of the relationship. But there’s a catch: Whoever calls off the engagement will have to foot the enormous bill for the wedding. When Naomi finds out that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of wills to see who can annoy the other into surrendering through pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.

But now that they have nothing to lose, they’re finally being themselves. They’re having so much fun getting on each other’s nerves that it starts to feel like something else entirely. As Naomi discovers hidden feelings for Nicholas buried under three years of simmering resentment, she wonders if he feels the same way. Suddenly, the countdown to the wedding that may or may not come to pass feels more like a race to mutual destruction–and Naomi doesn’t want to be left alone at the finish line.

Review:

Thank you to Sarah Hogle, Putnam Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

“His eyes are so black, I think I can see hell in them.”

This book is officially my child. I want to hold this book, squeeze all of the contents in this book, and read it over and over. I had no idea of such a concept, but this is definitely one of my favorite books that I’ve ever read. I took my time reading every word, and yes, it made it a longer read for me, but I really grasped everything that Sarah Hogle was writing.

This story starts out with an engaged couple, Naomi and Nicholas. They try to show that their relationship is picture perfect around their friends, but when they get behind closed doors, all bets are off. It’s really a game of who will end the engagement first. The problem is, whoever ends up ending the engagement, has to pay for the wedding items they already purchased (which was an enormous bill). With only three months until the wedding, Naomi and Nicholas do whatever they can to get each other to call off the wedding. By these childish games and showing their real selves to each other, they start to see who is actually who and how much fun they have together. A true lovers to enemies to lovers. Absolutely amazing.

“I tried to keep him at a safe distance where he could only see the decent parts of me, and it made us both miserable.”

In the beginning of this novel, it just seemed relentless. The almost childish games that Naomi plays with Nicholas. I didn’t know what was going to happen, as most of the mental problems were with Naomi. It seemed almost as she was picking on him, which I didn’t think I would approve of and like this novel for it. HOWEVER, when Nicholas starts going back at her, phew this novel became hilarious. Some of the stuff that they would do was laugh-out-loud funny. You could feel the annoyance and stress through every page. I think that this definitely is one of my favorites because of all of the different emotions you feel yourself as the reader. Comedy, Romance, Cringe-worthy moments, ARE YOU KIDDING ME moments, both happy & sad moments. It was just an amazing ride from start to finish.

I don’t care if you aren’t a fan of romances, you need to read this book. I literally could not put it down. I kept reading and reading and when it was over, I was actually sad. It’s been a long time where a novel has made me feel sad because it was over so I knew that this was one of my favorites ever. A great story and a great debut by Sarah Hogle!

Husband Material by Emily Belden

Publication Date: December 30, 2019
Publisher: Graydon House
Rating: ★★★

Sometimes love is unpredictable…

Twenty-nine-year-old Charlotte Rosen has a secret: she’s a widow. Ever since the fateful day that leveled her world, Charlotte has worked hard to move forward. Great job at a hot social media analytics company? Check. Roommate with no knowledge of her past? Check. Adorable dog? Check. All the while, she’s faithfully data-crunched her way through life, calculating the probability of risk—so she can avoid it.

Yet Charlotte’s algorithms could never have predicted that her late husband’s ashes would land squarely on her doorstep five years later. Stunned but determined, Charlotte sets out to find meaning in this sudden twist of fate, even if that includes facing her perfectly coiffed, and perfectly difficult, ex-mother-in-law—and her husband’s best friend, who seems to become a fixture at her side whether she likes it or not.

But soon a shocking secret surfaces, forcing Charlotte to answer questions she never knew to ask and to consider the possibility of forgiveness. And when a chance at new love arises, she’ll have to decide once and for all whether to follow the numbers or trust her heart.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Emily Belden & Graydon House for an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

The first couple sentences of Husband Material will get you. It has that immediate shock value and you’re left thinking “excuse me?!“.

Charlotte Rosen is a coder with a hot social media analytics company. She works hard and it shows an idea of what it might be like to be in a field that has a predominantly different gender. She has a roommate that has really no idea of her past. Within the first few sentences, you find out a lot about Charlotte and the biggest thing is that she was married, and that her husband had passed away. When her late husband’s ashes show up at her front door five years after his passing, Charlotte’s entire life gets uprooted, so you think. When a major secret comes out to Charlotte about her late husband, things really get crazy for her. While dealing with all of these things, will she find love along the way?

This book had a lot of promising qualities. The interest of what was going to happen was definitely there for me. I think that the premise was something that I had never read before and that had me interested. The synopsis was why I requested it in the first place. There were a lot of good things that had me excited for this publication, but as I read on, there were a lot of things that I couldn’t really grasp either.

I think one problem that I had was that this novel was classified as a contemporary romance. I live for contemporary romances, so I was excited to see where the romance was going to be from this synopsis. In my opinion, the romance fell a little flat for me. I think there were sweet moments with angst mixed in which is one of my favorites. However, my heart felt as though things were a little rushed and crunched in towards the end. I am someone all for a slow burn, but this was extremely slow. I would’ve liked it more if things happened a little sooner. Also, I feel as though the romance was a little off. It felt a little stilted and made me question what was going on. There was zero steam, which I usually don’t mind, but with the romance-o-meter off, it didn’t make me feel my best about this novel.

I also had a problem connecting with Charlotte. I understand that I have never been through such a situation, but I feel like I had a hard time understanding her actions. There were some things that Charlotte did that frustrates me, and in some circumstances this might be good, but I didn’t find it giving me any positive, stimulating feelings. She was pretty unreliable with her actions. You definitely want to go through the pages and grab her by the shoulders to shake her.

Lastly, I will say that I found the author to be hilarious. There were some parts of this book that had me laughing out loud. It’s rare that a romance novel would be so funny, but I’d definitely consider this as a romantic comedy with some drama!

If you are a clean comedy, chick-lit lover, I’d recommend this book to you! I’m definitely interested in more Emily Belden novels just from the laughs!

With the Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ★★★★★

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

Review:

Okay so… I am absolutely obsessed with this book. It was my favorite young adult read of the year thus far. As a girl from Philadelphia, I needed this book in my life and I didn’t even know it.

It starts off with Emoni Santiago, a teen mom to a little girl named Emma, who loves to cook. She lives with her grandmother (her Abuela) and is a senior in high school. From the very beginning, you see that Emoni does everything for the two people that mean the most to her, but wants to have a successful career in the culinary industry. When a program comes to her high school, she signs up for the class immediately. With this class, there’s an opportunity to take a trip to Spain to learn more about the culinary arts and Emoni wants to go. It may seem impossible at that moment, but she wants to do everything she can to get on that trip.

When a boy in her culinary class starts to pursue her, Emoni doesn’t know what to do. He wants to be in her life and she doesn’t know what to do because of her past and current life. She worked, took care of her baby girl and her grandmother. Nevertheless, he persisted and Emoni found herself falling for him. This honestly was my favorite part of the book. Emoni found her feelings and really grew this part. She realized what was best for her and how things would turn out. Also, even though I am a massive romance novel buff, her love interest wasn’t the main focus of this book. Making this novel about her growth and showing herself what’s truly best for her and her child was the best part. This is why it got such a high rating from me.

Another thing that this book did so beautifully was give the perspective of a teen mom. They always get a bad reputation and Emoni really let herself PREACH all of the stereotypes and how wrong they were. She was a proving character that worked hard at a young age to provide what she needed to.

Lastly, let me just say, being from Philadelphia – this book will hold a special place in my heart. When hearing the terms “Center City”, “jawn”, “Oxford Circle” and more, I began to really swoon over this book because it held such an emotional connection for me. Elizabeth Acevedo really did her research because the terminology was phenomenal and I felt right at home.