Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover

Publication Date: August 19, 2020
Publisher: Hoover Ink, Inc.
Rating:
★★★★★

Life and a dismal last name are the only two things Beyah Grim’s parents ever gave her. After carving her path all on her own, Beyah is well on her way to bigger and better things, thanks to no one but herself.

With only two short months separating her from the future she’s built and the past she desperately wants to leave behind, an unexpected death leaves Beyah with no place to go during the interim. Forced to reach out to her last resort, Beyah has to spend the remainder of her summer on a peninsula in Texas with a father she barely knows. Beyah’s plan is to keep her head down and let the summer slip by seamlessly, but her new neighbor Samson throws a wrench in that plan.

Samson and Beyah have nothing in common on the surface.

She comes from a life of poverty and neglect; he comes from a family of wealth and privilege. But one thing they do have in common is that they’re both drawn to sad things. Which means they’re drawn to each other. With an almost immediate connection too intense for them to continue denying, Beyah and Samson agree to stay in the shallow end of a summer fling. What Beyah doesn’t realize is that a rip current is coming, and it’s about to drag her heart out to sea.

Review:

Every time Colleen Hoover puts out a new book, an angel gets its wings. Each and every book she has written has its own different story which makes me love her that much more.

Ever since I read my first Colleen Hoover novel, she has become one of my favorite auto-buy authors. She’s just so great with her words that I’d be confident in saying she’s my favorite author. She can write about adults, she can write about teenagers…she could write about anything and I’d still read it.

Damaged people recognize other damaged people. It’s like a club you don’t want a membership to.

This story was insane from start to finish. Beyah up and leaves her life in Kentucky and moves to a beach town in Texas with her father. She is headed out to start her life in a few short months, but until then, she just needs somewhere to stay. In the synopsis, the “unexpected death” that is referred to was absolutely shocking and heartbreaking. I felt like I was going through a loss myself. I felt for Beyah because this is such a traumatic thing, but it’s so sad how real of a life experience it was.

Samson’s character was moody and secretive. I really enjoyed the quietness of it all. You think one thing and it’s so far from the reality of their lives. It truly is a testament of “don’t judge a book by its cover”.

Starting this book, I had no idea what to expect. From the first chapter, I was shook to my core. Colleen’s description of an “unexpected death” was putting it lightly. I will say that, unfortunately, too many people have seen this exact moment, and I was very moved by the way it was described. The moment wasn’t too graphic, but absolutely got the message across.

Beyah is one of my favorite characters in a book ever. She is 19 years old and is forced to grow up. We all go through difficult traumas in our lives and I connected with her through my own moments that I’ve experienced. Nineteen is still so young and I hate that things like what happened to her actually truly happens in people’s everyday lives. Beyah made this entire book just with herself. I could just learn about her and nothing else and this would’ve still gotten a five-star rating from me.

The mystery of this book was another plus for me. The way people meet, the way they are the way that they are, it’s all covertly explained. It’s shown in a way that you won’t get until you’re finished the book and you think back on it.

Samson was a whole other entity himself. Every time he would open up, I simply could not figure him out. I had no idea what was going on with him and still had no idea even towards the end. The ending surrounding him…phew I was in my FEELINGS!!

Overall, this book was phenomenal at the very least. The angst, the secrets, the romance, the ending… Colleen Hoover really hit it out of the park with Heart Bones.



The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Publication Date: June 2, 2020
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Rating:
★★★

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

Review:

There were many aspects of this book that I enjoyed. I am not someone who enjoys “historical” books, whether that is in the 1950s or not. However, I think this book was very “timely” and relevant to current situations. It was a story that I hadn’t heard before and that made it all the more interesting to me.

Starting in Mallard, Louisiana, we learned about the Vignes sisters, Stella and Desiree. Their main goal was to leave the town of Millard. After they did, we take a look into their separate lives as one of the sisters passes off as a different color. You see how different their lives become pretty quickly. Desiree moves back to Mallard with her daughter after leaving her abusive husband. I thought this was going to be the most significant part of this book, but then we move on from that quickly and have a plot change.

Stella’s life went different because she “passed” off as white. We see the differences pretty quickly and how significant they were. She develops a friendship with a Black family across the street, but she was so scared to be found out. You can see how her life is so complicated because she’s pretending to be someone she’s not. Personally, I think this was the best part of the book. There was a lot of switching up, but this part had the best detail and information throughout.

There was something that felt off to me in this book – and that was Jude and Reese. Reese is a transgender man who passes as a straight cis man to others. I feel like there were times where trans-passing and racial-passing were classified in the same category and I’m unsure I liked the way that made me feel when reading. This section of the book confused me quite a bit, especially when giving detail about their lives socially. I didn’t understand how the acceptance levels were portrayed in this book at all.

Overall, I think without all of the extras that this book gave me, I would’ve rated it higher. The plot being switched up multiple times wasn’t good for me and just the overall feelings I got from Reese and Jude made me rate this book lower. This was a powerful book, but definitely just not for me.

September 2020 Reads

Hi all! Long time, no talk! In August, I hit a MAJOR slump. I didn’t read any books in August and the majority of September! I wasn’t working due to COVID-19 and you would think that this would be prime reading time, but I just hit this insane slump! I believe it’s because I had read over 80 books towards my goal of 115 and I just needed a break!

I was 30+ books ahead of my reading challenge and now I am a measly one book ahead. I started at a new job and I feel the excitement to read again! At the end of September, I read two books.

  • Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover (5 stars)
  • Secrets of the World’s Worst Matchmaker by Piper Rayne
    (The Baileys #7) (4 stars)

I’m hoping that my October TBR is not going to be overwhelming from all the time I missed the last two months. I’m reading what I can and that’s okay! I’m excited to be posting some reviews coming up! Thanks for staying interested with me! 🙂 I hope everyone has a book-filled October!

The Hero of Hope Springs by Maisey Yates

Publication Date: July 21, 2020
Publisher: Harlequin Books
Rating: ★★★★

For as long as brooding cowboy Ryder Daniels has known Sammy Marshall, she has been his sunshine. Her free spirit and bright smile saved him after the devastating loss of his parents and gave him the strength to care for his orphaned family. Only Ryder knows how vulnerable Sammy is, so he’s kept his attraction for his best friend under wraps for years. But what Sammy’s asking for now might be a step too far…

Something has been missing from Sammy’s life, and she thinks she knows what it is. Deciding she wants a baby is easy; realizing she wants her best friend to be the father is…complicated. Especially when a new heat between them sparks to life! When Sammy discovers she’s pregnant, Ryder makes it clear he wants it all. But having suffered the fallout of her parents’ disastrous relationship, Sammy is wary of letting Ryder too close. This cowboy will have to prove he’s proposing out of more than just honor…

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Maisey Yates, & Harlequin Books for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve read Maisey Yates before and I absolutely adored the story. I read the Copper Ridge series and I quickly became obsessed with all of the characters and I was so glad that it lasted over 10 books. I received an opportunity to read her newest book, The Hero of Hope Springs, and I knew I couldn’t pass it up. I never read any part of the Gold Valley series, but I didn’t have any trouble following along!

I really like Maisey Yates’ writing because as much as it does have sultry and sexy vibes, it doesn’t take the front of the story like it does in some romance novels. The angst, the friendships, the drama, the comedy, the full-on relationship between the characters make each and every one of her stories. The characters are always well developed and they make this stories as well-written as they are.

May I just say…this friends-to-lovers trope is perfection. I loved Sammy and Ryder! Their characters are great, and the fact that they were friends from the start, makes it all that more believable and real in my eyes. The brooding character of Ryder and the happy-go-lucky character of Sammy made these two a very unusual mash-up, but I think they really showed chemistry and connected well.

Overall, the story of love and acceptance is what takes first place in this book. The complexity of the characters and showing them make their own serious life choices makes this story really come to life. The Gold Valley series is definitely something I want to read now so I can get to know everyone! However, if you don’t choose to, it appears as though you can read these as a standalone. I’d really recommend this book to cowboy-loving romance readers!

July 2020 Reads

Number of Books Read: 13
Avg. Rating of the books: 3.3/5 stars
Five Star Ratings: 0/13

Not one book got a five star rating from me this month! I hope August is full of five-star reads for me!

  • She’s Faking It by Kristin Rockaway
  • A Cowboy State of Mind by Jennie Marts (Creedence Horse Rescue #1)
  • No One Saw by Beverly Long (A.L. McKittridge #2)
  • Hurry Home by Roz Nay
  • Never Too Late by Robyn Carr
  • The Sound of Love by Kyle Shoop (Senses of Love #1)
  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
  • The Happy Camper by Melody Carlson
  • Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
  • Come Again by Robert Webb
  • What You Wish For by Katherine Center
  • The Hero of Hope Springs by Maisey Yates (Gold Valley #10)
  • The Life We Share by Colleen Young

What You Wish For by Katherine Center

Publication Date: July 14, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Rating: ★★★

Samantha Casey is a school librarian who loves her job, the kids, and her school family with passion and joy for living.

But she wasn’t always that way.

Duncan Carpenter is the new school principal who lives by rules and regulations, guided by the knowledge that bad things can happen.

But he wasn’t always that way.

And Sam knows it. Because she knew him before―at another school, in a different life. Back then, she loved him―but she was invisible. To him. To everyone. Even to herself. She escaped to a new school, a new job, a new chance at living. But when Duncan, of all people, gets hired as the new principal there, it feels like the best thing that could possibly happen to the school―and the worst thing that could possibly happen to Sam. Until the opposite turns out to be true. The lovable Duncan she’d known is now a suit-and-tie wearing, rule-enforcing tough guy so hell-bent on protecting the school that he’s willing to destroy it.

As the school community spirals into chaos, and danger from all corners looms large, Sam and Duncan must find their way to who they really are, what it means to be brave, and how to take a chance on love―which is the riskiest move of all.

Review:

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

This is my third Katherine Center novel and she is definitely an auto buy / request author for me. Her writing is always very good for me, and I’m always able to connect to her characters instantly.

However, this one wasn’t a home run for me as much as her other books. I struggled to read this story as well as connecting with the characters. I didn’t necessarily mind Sam but I had a hard time with Duncan which isn’t good since he was a main character.

I read How to Walk Away and Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center. In these two books, the characters correlate, but are not listed in a series. As I’ve read from other reviews, apparently Duncan is the brother of Sam from Happiness For Beginners. I didn’t have any issues in her previous novels with reading them “out of order” but I’m not entirely sure if the circumstances are different with this one.

I will say that this story is truly about seeking happiness and joy in life. There is a lot going on in the world right now and this message about finding joy in the small things in life was actually very needed. I could appreciate that message coming from this book.

Overall, I love Katherine Center and I love her writing. I go to her when I need a good, heart-felt story with laughs and smiles. I did like the message behind this book, but it wasn’t my favorite book in the world with the characters and story. I will give Happiness for Beginners a try as well hopefully to learn more about who these characters are.

Hurry Home by Roz Nay

Publication Date: July 7, 2020

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Rating: ★★★

From the bestselling author of Our Little Secret comes a suspenseful new thriller featuring two estranged sisters desperate to keep their deepest and darkest secret where it belongs–in the past.

Close to my heart you’ll be, sisters forever you and me...

Alexandra Van Ness has the perfect life. She lives in an idyllic resort town tucked away in the Rocky Mountains, shares a designer loft with her handsome boyfriend, Chase, and has her dream job working in child protection. Every day, Alex goes above and beyond to save children at risk. 

But when her long-lost sister, Ruth, unexpectedly shows up at her door, Alex’s perfect life is upended. Growing up, Ruth was always the troublemaker, pulling Alex into her messes, and this time will be no different. Still, Alex will help Ruth under one condition: we will never, ever, talk about the past. But when trouble befalls a local child, both women are forced to confront the secrets they’ve promised to keep buried.

Utterly engrossing and claustrophobic, Hurry Home is a tantalizing reflection of the chain-and-shackles relationship between sisters that asks: what lines wouldn’t you cross for your own?

Review:

Thank you to Roz Nay, Crooked Lane Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I love sister stories. Whether its drama, long distance, good relationships, bad relationships, mysteries, any kind of story. I think it’s because I have a sister myself so that I’m able to relate a lot.

This sister story was not my favorite unfortunately. I believe it’s because this is classified as a thriller and I didn’t really get that from this book. This was more about the sister relationship and how you could just feel the drama between them.

I thought this story was interesting, but it didn’t really give me the surprise or mystery that I was looking for. The interest from this story comes from the fact that you are curious on why these two ladies have the relationship that they do.

The thing I liked about this novel was the slow burn aspect. You do find yourself sitting there wondering when something will happen or when the other shoe is going to drop. I was able to guess the ending, but I will say it was pretty interesting getting there.

Overall, it wasn’t my favorite book in the world, but it wasn’t the worst either. I think that if it was more of a thriller like it was classified, I would’ve enjoyed it more. There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with this book, I just went in with a different expectation!

She’s Faking It by Kristin Rockaway

Publication Date: June 30, 2020
Publisher: Graydon House
Rating: ★★★★

You can’t put a filter on reality.

Bree Bozeman isn’t exactly pursuing the life of her dreams. Then again, she isn’t too sure what those dreams are. After dropping out of college, she’s living a pretty chill life in the surf community of Pacific Beach, San Diego…if “chill” means delivering food as a GrubGetter, and if it means “uneventful”.

But when Bree starts a new Instagram account — @breebythesea — one of her posts gets a signal boost from none other than wildly popular self-help guru Demi DiPalma, owner of a lifestyle brand empire. Suddenly, Bree just might be a rising star in the world of Instagram influencing. Is this the direction her life has been lacking? It’s not a career choice she’d ever seriously considered, but maybe it’s a sign from the universe. After all, Demi’s the real deal… right?

Everything is lining up for Bree: life goals, career, and even a blossoming romance with the chiseled guy next door, surf star Trey Cantu. But things are about to go sideways fast, and even the perfect filter’s not gonna fix it. Instagram might be free, but when your life looks flawless on camera, what’s the cost?

Review:

Thank you to Kristin Rockaway, Harlequin Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. I read this as a participant of the Harlequin Books 2020 Summer Reads Blog Tour.

I read Kristin Rockaway’s How to Hack a Heartbreak last summer and I absolutely adored it. Kristin Rockaway is becoming an auto-buy/request author for me! Her writing is spectacular in She’s Faking It! If you’re looking for a quick, fun summer read, definitely pick this one up.

Bree, a 25-year old college drop out, is completely over delivering food to people’s houses through a service called GrubGetter. After a run in with an old professor who made her feel insecure in her choices in life, Bree decides it’s time for a change. Bree decides that she is going to become an influencer on social media to make a living after reading a book about “faking it until she makes it”. She finds out that faking it is unfortunately not that easy.

This story is a testament to today’s society. It’s about how the world sees people on Instagram with the Photoshopped backgrounds and beautiful scenery. It shows that even though things online might be happy and cheery on their page, you have zero idea what their life is truly like behind the pictures. Kristin Rockaway did such a fantastic job writing this because I was able to relate to it so much with how technologically the world is running today.

Next, I loved the fact that this was a very feel-good story. It was motivational, watching this woman try to turn her life around after going through what she did with dropping out of school. It really is like that nowadays where there’s the question of what you’re going to do with your life if you don’t have a direction or degree. I love that Kristin Rockaway turned this into a “you can do whatever you want” story instead of making it seem like people can’t make it unless they have some sort of certification or degree. I especially loved the sisterly bond in this story. Sisters fight and sometimes have a hard time with relationships, but at the end of the day, there’s a protective feeling that I was able to share with Bree and Natasha. It was easy to see the love that they shared.

Finally, I loved the fact that this was a romance novel, but it didn’t take over the entire story. This was more of a feel-good/fiction/self-help story over being a romance. I am a romance fanatic, but I loved that it wasn’t overbearing and didn’t take away from the original message.

Overall, I will always pick up a Kristin Rockaway novel. Her stories are fantastic and her writing is impeccable. I’m always able to relate and her characters are always developed in the best kind of way. Definitely pick this one up this summer! Put it next on your TBR!


Posted on my Instagram.