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!

Sunrise on Half Moon Bay by Robyn Carr

Publication Date: April 14, 2020
Publisher: MIRA Books
Rating: ★★★★

Sometimes the happiness we’re looking for has been there all along…

Adele and Justine have never been close. Born twenty years apart, Justine was already an adult when Addie was born. The sisters love each other but they don’t really know each other.

When Addie dropped out of university to care for their ailing parents, Justine, a successful lawyer, covered the expenses. It was the best arrangement at the time but now that their parents are gone, the future has changed dramatically for both women.

Addie had great plans for her life but has been worn down by the pressures of being a caregiver and doesn’t know how to live for herself. And Justine’s success has come at a price. Her marriage is falling apart despite her best efforts.

Neither woman knows how to start life over but both realize they can and must support each other the way only sisters can. Together they find the strength to accept their failures and overcome their challenges. Happiness is within reach, if only they have the courage to fight for it.

Review:
Thank you to Robyn Carr, MIRA Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. I read this as a part of the Harlequin Blog Tour.

Robyn Carr really knows how to tug on your heart strings. I’m definitely someone who can get emotional easily, but Robyn Carr really got me with this one. This was a feel-good story about love, loss, and sisterhood.

First, Addie and Justine have a very interesting story. At 20 years apart, they never really had a sisterly relationship. Justine is a successful lawyer and her husband stays at home with their two daughters. Adele dropped out of college when she had a relationship go wrong and then she became a caretaker for her parents. This relationship was believable because there really are instances like that where there are significant age gaps between two siblings. The relationship that they had were more friendly than sisterly and I could really could see that happening in real life.

Now that Addie is done being a caretaker for her parents, she is in a panic of what to do with her life since that took up all of her time and she doesn’t have a degree. Justine’s life is falling apart around her as well and needs to decide on what she wants to do with her life. As they are going through similar life changes, the sisters really rely on each other. I loved the fact that this was a sister-friendly story. It was nice to see sisters relying on each other in such a hard time in their lives, especially because they are so far apart in their lives. Robyn Carr made both Addie, Justine and her daughters extremely relatable and I really liked that.

Robyn Carr did a great job identifying the issues in this novel and showing an ending to every single one of them. I didn’t have any questions at the end of who went where or how a situation ended up. This definitely was a feel-good novel about overcoming obstacles. There were many problems shown in this novel, but I didn’t think it was overdone or too much.

Finally, Robyn Carr wrote about something that isn’t mentioned enough. I won’t spoil it or give it away, but I was surprised to read about this situation. It was definitely unexpected, but a good surprise. This situation isn’t talked about enough and almost holds a “stigma” for it. I’m glad that this was written in here because it made this story that much more interesting!

The only reason why I didn’t give Sunrise on Half Moon Bay a five-star rating was the fact that there were somethings that seemed repetitive. There were somethings already explained or talked about, and they got repeated throughout the novel. I understand the concept of really driving it home, but this kind of took away from the story.

Overall, this was my first Robyn Carr novel, but definitely not my last. I fell in love with the way Robyn Carr writes, and how she makes everything in her stories come to life.

May 2020 Reads

In May, I read *drum roll* a whopping two books. I’m just trying to get back in the groove of reading and trying to adjust to life during this pandemic! June is going to have a lot more reads!

  • Game On by Britney Bell
  • Hot Mess by Emma Hart

Both of these books received a three star rating from me. There were definitely points of interest with each book, but nothing more than that really! Here’s to many more enjoyable reads in June!

Moonlight in Vermont by Kacy Cross

Publication Date: February 18, 2019
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Rating: ★★★★

Some of the best things in life are worth the wait…

Fiona Rangely loves her fast-paced life as a high-end real estate broker in New York City. Or at least, she does until her boyfriend dumps her, claiming that he doesn’t get enough of her time.

She retreats to her family’s quaint Vermont Inn to evaluate her life…but her ex-boyfriend soon shows up with a brand new girlfriend. Fiona quickly devises a plan to win him back: pretend the handsome and laid-back head chef Derek is her new boyfriend!

Will her ex realize what he’s missing? And will Fiona herself start seeing life–and love—in a new light?

Review:

Fake relationships/marriages is one of my favorite tropes. I just adore the thought of two people starting a fake relationship to fool parents or to make exes jealous…and then  falling for each other themselves for real? Swoon! This story was crazy from start to finish. For Hallmark, I felt like this was extra dramatic! But I loved it!

The characters were everything I needed and more. Fiona’s character was the best. I loved her development and the realization that she didn’t even want her ex anymore was perfection. I think out of all of them, Kacy Cross wrote Fiona the best. She wrote Fiona like she had personally experienced something like this before and it made the story that much more real for me.

My favorite part of this novel was the sweetness of the romance. It wasn’t too strong but it wasn’t too much either. It was really a wonderful moment to see how the story of Fiona and Derek was going to play out. As the head chef, he knows he’s too busy and it’s almost like a forbidden love story at some parts.

The only reason why I didn’t give this book five-stars is because I wish it was a little longer! It was only 182 pages and I wish it would just keep going and going. I think ultimately it was wrapped up well and the story was great, but I would’ve liked a little more.

Overall, I’d recommend this book to anyone. This was a good story for any age. Moonlight in Vermonwas the perfect book to get me excited for the rest of Kacy Cross’ books!

The Story of Us by Teri Wilson

Publication Date: January 6, 2020
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Rating: ★★★

A bookstore owner…
her former high school sweetheart…
And a box of old love letters
that could change everything.

Jamie always adored True Love Bookstore and Café, and now she’s the owner. But businesses are struggling in her small town, and her beloved store is threatened by a new retail development scheme.

Sawyer, Jamie’s former high school sweetheart, startles her when he comes to town for the first time in fifteen years. She soon learns he’s the architect of the proposed development and he’s there to sell local business owners on his plan. Sawyer had no idea that Jamie had bought the bookstore and poured everything she had into it. If he takes it over, he’ll break her heart a second time.

Jamie’s discovery of a box of old love letters and valentines might hold the key to saving her shop. And after all this time, could love be in the cards for Jamie and Sawyer, too?

Review:

This was a very cute book to read for Valentine’s Day which is why Hallmark released it January 6. It’s very cute to read at anytime during the year, but if you’re feeling especially lovey-dovey, save this one for the next holiday/Valentine’s Day season.

A romance in a bookstore is always a book for me. As I used to work in a library, the thought of two people falling in love surrounded by books just makes my heart flutter.  I’m just a sucker for it. Teri Wilson didn’t disappoint when it came to this. The romance was definitely on point.

There were a few things that I did struggle with within this story, though. I think ultimately for me, this story was drug out a little too long. It definitely could’ve finished multiple times before it actually did and it made it a little hard to get through.

The story was a little underdeveloped for me in the beginning. I was just waiting for it to get to the entire story and when it did, it was good. Then, the story started to drag for me like I said before. I just wish it would’ve taken a little quicker to get started, but finish in that timely manner after everything came full circle.

I really did like the outsiders in this story. The two main characters were good, but I loved seeing everyone conspire against them to get them together. It was awesome to see all of the budding relationships and friendships that this novel had to offer.

Overall, I did enjoy this book. I didn’t hate it. Hallmark recently made this into a movie on their channel and I would definitely watch it!

 

Unfollow Me by Charlotte Duckworth

Publication Date: March 10, 2020
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Rating: ★★★

You Can’t Stop Watching Her.

Violet Young is a hugely popular journalist-turned-mummy-vlogger, with three young children, a successful husband and a million subscribers on YouTube who tune in daily to watch her everyday life unfold.

Until the day she’s no longer there.

But one day she disappears from the online world – her entire social media presence deleted overnight, with no explanation. Has she simply decided that baring her life to all online is no longer a good idea, or has something more sinister happened to her?

Review:

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

This book’s synopsis definitely grabbed my attention. Being in a society that is essentially run by social media, these types of books really show the dangers of what can happen in real life. However, a lot of these books are coming out, especially within the last few years. After reading them all, they all start to sound the same mystery wise. Someone disappears, they have a social media presence..yadda yadda.

I didn’t hate this book. I really didn’t. I thought learning about Violet and what happened to her and why she deleted her social media without a trace was pretty interesting. I just think that the background details just were kind of meh. I didn’t feel any specific way towards that, but I did enjoy the thrilling aspect of it. This honestly could’ve been classified more as a thriller than a mystery in my eyes.

My favorite part about this book was that two fans were trying to figure out the mystery of what happened to their favorite Youtuber. Usually, watching the news or reading a story about it, if something happens to someone with a social media presence, it’s a crazed fan that did something to them. Don’t get me wrong, these two were definitely obsessive over Violet, but it was nice to read something that wasn’t like the others in that aspect. I really liked the difference of story there.

The difference in point-of-views had me a little confused at times. Throwing Violet’s husband in there to separate things was very smart on Charlotte Duckworth’s part because I was able to distinguish the multiple feelings of this story.

Overall, this was interesting but it didn’t WOW me. The writing was alright, there were definitely some attention-grabbing parts, but I just didn’t have the best time with this novel. The conclusion was just alright, but if you’re looking for a fast-paced story to read while you’re staying inside, this is a good one that’ll take up a day!

 

The Fall of Butterflies by Andrea Portes

Publication Date: May 10, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ★★

Willa Parker, 646th and least-popular resident of What Cheer, Iowa, is headed east to start a new life. Did she choose this life? No, because that would be too easy—and nothing in Willa’s life is easy. It’s her famous genius mother’s idea to send her to ultra-expensive, ultra-exclusive Pembroke Prep, and Willa has no intention of fitting in. But when she meets peculiar, glittering Remy Taft, the richest, most mysterious girl on campus, she starts to see a foothold in this foreign world—a place where she could maybe, possibly, sort of fit in. When Willa looks at Remy, she sees a girl who has everything. But for Remy, having everything comes at a price. And as she spirals out of control, Willa can feel Remy spinning right out of her grasp.

Review:

When I read the synopsis and first started this book, I thought it had a lot of promising qualities that really could have me interested. The cover is what really got me. Harper Teen really put out a beautiful cover on this one. As I got in to it, I really had issues with a lot of things going on and I frankly feel like this book failed to deliver. I will say I read this book all the way through to see where it was going to go. I did find that there was a story, but it was in the beginning and then about 60% in and then it fell off again. This one was a struggle.

The main thing I had an issue with about this novel was the writing. The writing was short and to the point, and while that’s not always bad, I felt like I was reading a book that had been transcribed from a reading or audio. There wasn’t much detail, I feel like I was thrown back and forth a little, and I had to restart pages because I was just plain confused. I don’t think that the trope was bad or even that the story was bad, but I think the way that it was explained was a little confusing to me.

On the other hand, I will say that Remy was the most exciting part of this book. I loved every part of her. I was very interested to see where her story was going to lead which is where the book finally started to pick up for me.

I gave this book two stars because Andrea Portes does have some underlying dark tones in her book. I really think she handled them with care. I am someone who really can’t do substance abuse or drug abuse in books, but she did well with this and really took care of her readers when it came to that.

Overall, this wasn’t my favorite YA. I did struggle a lot with the writing and wish it was a little more in-depth instead of short and choppy. I would definitely give Andrea Portes another chance and hopes that the writing is a little different in the next one.

 

 

 

This Train is Being Held by Ismée Amiel Williams

Publication Date: February 11, 2020
Publisher: Amulet Books
Rating: ★★★★★

When private school student Isabelle Warren first meets Dominican-American Alex Rosario on the downtown 1 train, she remembers his green eyes and his gentlemanly behavior. He remembers her untroubled happiness, something he feels all rich kids must possess. That, and her long dancer legs. Over the course of multiple subway encounters spanning the next three years, Isabelle learns of Alex’s struggle with his father, who is hell-bent on Alex being a contender for the major leagues, despite Alex’s desire to go to college and become a poet. Alex learns about Isabelle’s unstable mother, a woman with a prejudice against Latino men. But fate—and the 1 train—throw them together when Isabelle needs Alex most.

Review:

It’s been a really long time where I’ve enjoyed a young adult novel as much as I did with This Train is Being Held. This is a moving story about a young man named Alex and a young lady named Isabelle (Isa as she’s called in the book). It’s a love-trumps-all type of trope which overcomes a lot of unhappy topics surrounding today’s society. I’ve never read anything like this, where a train of all things brings two people together when they need it the most.

The best part of this book is the romance. Like I said, there is an important message surrounding their relationship, but Ismée Amiel Williams did such a phenomenal job with making sure that love is still a very prominent part of this book. The angst is so tough on your heart that you want to reach into the book and hug them both. You truly have no idea what’s going on in their heads at that moment, but it’s written so vividly right in front of us. The writing of the romance was spectacular and I commend Ismée Amiel Williams for making sure that it was still there where it was supposed to be in a book with a variety of things going on.

Alex is my favorite character that I’ve read in a book in a long time. You can’t help but feel everything he’s feeling. You feel so guilty and so upset for what he’s going through. He’s a Latino male that wants to write poetry instead of play baseball like his dad wants him to. It is such a terrible situation and you just want to be his friend. You want to reach out to him and say, “I’m here for you”. It’s been a long time where a book has made me feel like that about a character.

The location of This Train is Being Held is so wonderful. As someone who lives near a city, it’s so easy to picture the subway. You can close your eyes and picture what their train car would look like, the sounds that are going on around you and more.

Finally, I love that this book was dual language at some parts. I’m not someone who understands Spanish as a second language, but Ismée Amiel Williams made it easy for  me to understand. I was able to see what was going on between characters and it showed the Latino side of Alex’s family as well. It was interesting to see the two sides between Alex’s family and Isa’s family.

Overall, this is a perfect young adult novel. I’d recommend it to those in high school or I’d recommend it to any adult that likes a good, romantic novel that ties into today’s society. I cannot wait for Ismée Amiel Williams’ future novels.