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!

Temporary Wife Temptation by Jayci Lee

I received this novel as part of the Harlequin Desire book tour! Thank you to Harlequin Desire, Harlequin Books, Jayci Lee & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Publisher: Harlequin Desire
Rating: ★★★★

Much more than he bargained for…

“You want me to find you a wife?”

“No. I want you to be my wife.”

Garrett Song is this close to taking the reins of his family’s LA fashion empire…until the Song matriarch insists he marry her handpicked bride first. To block her matchmaking, he recruits Natalie Sobol to pose as his wife. She needs a fake spouse as badly as he does. But when passion burns down their chaste agreement, the flames could destroy them all…

Review:

From the beginning, you feel the chemistry between the two main characters, Natalie and Garrett. There is a proposition of fake marriage between the two because they both need it. It was a very realistic and passionate read!

My favorite thing about this book was how you could see that Natalie and Garrett were perfect for each other right from the start, but it was funny to see them move towards this moment together. It was awkward and I laughed a few times just from them fumbling around this “aha!” moment.

I am a huge fan of the fake marriage trope and this story does it so well. It was amazing to see how they both needed a fake marriage and how hard they were fighting their feelings throughout the novel. I wanted them to just figure it out so bad, but the burn that Jayci Lee wrote was phenomenal.

I think the only issue that I had with this book was that I felt almost… unfulfilled. This book had me wanting and wanting and I wanted more at the end. I waited the entire book for the obviously predictable ending, but I felt that there could’ve definitely had an epilogue. I understand that the next installment will be out this year, but I wish it was wrapped up a little better.

This definitely won’t be the last Jayci Lee novel for me.

 

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

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

Thursday’s husband, Seth, has two other wives. She’s never met them, and she doesn’t know anything about them. She agreed to this unusual arrangement because she’s so crazy about him.

But one day, she finds something. Something that tells a very different—and horrifying—story about the man she married.

What follows is one of the most twisted, shocking thrillers you’ll ever read.

You’ll have to grab a copy to find out why.

Review:

Tarryn Fisher wrote a truly impeccable thriller with The Wives. There were twists and turns and everything really did not seem to be as it was. I like a good thriller, but this was super dark and I enjoyed it so much.

The synopsis was enough for me to pick up this book. Seth is married to two other woman other than Thursday. Her name is Thursday because that’s the day of the week she gets with Seth. It was a concept that was so interesting and nothing I had heard of before.

Tarryn Fisher’s writing was what got a high rating from me. It was a little slow to start, but once I hit a certain point, I was so engrossed that I could not stop reading until I found out what happened. The writing was so back-and-forth and I wanted to love the main character even though I was unsure of who she was actually. I wanted to be on her side even if things were going so out of control that I didn’t know how they would end up.

The ending was a little too crazy in my opinion but I don’t think it took away from the story. I think it was getting a little into uncharted territory where it became almost unrealistic, but I think it was wrapped up really well.

Overall, I loved learning about Thursday and what was going on in her head. Tarryn Fisher’s imagination truly shined in this novel. This was my first novel by her, but definitely not my last.

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Publisher: Avon Books
Rating: ★★★★★

A wedding planner left at the altar. Yeah, the irony isn’t lost on Carolina Santos, either. But despite that embarrassing blip from her past, Lina’s managed to make other people’s dreams come true as a top-tier wedding coordinator in DC. After impressing an influential guest, she’s offered an opportunity that could change her life. There’s just one hitch… she has to collaborate with the best (make that worst) man from her own failed nuptials.

Tired of living in his older brother’s shadow, marketing expert Max Hartley is determined to make his mark with a coveted hotel client looking to expand its brand. Then he learns he’ll be working with his brother’s whip-smart, stunning—absolutely off-limits—ex-fiancée. And she loathes him.

If they can survive the next few weeks and nail their presentation without killing each other, they’ll both come out ahead. Except Max has been public enemy number one ever since he encouraged his brother to jilt the bride, and Lina’s ready to dish out a little payback of her own.

But even the best laid plans can go awry, and soon Lina and Max discover animosity may not be the only emotion creating sparks between them. Still, this star-crossed couple can never be more than temporary playmates because Lina isn’t interested in falling in love and Max refuses to play runner-up to his brother ever again…

Review:

Thank you to Mia Sosa, Avon Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

This will be one of my favorite reads of 2020. I just know it. The story, the characters, the romance, the drama, everything about this book had me swooning. This is my first Mia Sosa novel, but after reading this beauty, I definitely want to give more of her books a try.

Enemies-to-lovers is one of my favorite tropes. I love the angst and animosity, but when they figure it out? Phewwww. One of the best feelings as a reader. This story was different. Lina is a wedding planner and was left at the altar. She had to move on and silence all of her issues when it came to the romance of weddings. It was starting to affect her performance as a wedding planner. When she has an opportunity to get a higher paying job that could change her struggle-filled life. When she finds out that she has to work with a top marketing expert, it all goes south from there. It turns out to be the brother-of-the-groom who left her at the altar. On the day of the wedding, Max, the brother’s groom, received a text basically thanking him for stopping him from marrying Lina. Max doesn’t remember the night before at all after a wild party. What. A. Story.

Mia Sosa wrote the characters so well, I wanted to be friends with them. I wanted to insert myself into their lives and help them figure out what was going on. I feel almost honored that I got to watch this story unfold. I loved the development of Lina and who she was in the beginning to end of this book. She truly went through her stages and it proved to be one of the best characters I’ve read about. I loved her attitude and knowing what she was thinking throughout each word.

Max. Max. Max. What a guy. I really loved his character through every attempt of romance that he gave. He was such a refreshing character to read about because there’s usually a bad guy at some point, but he didn’t give me that vibe once. His brother is the one that gives you that vibe from the very beginning and it shows.

Overall, Mia Sosa really caught my attention with this one. Lina and Max are two of my favorite characters in the 300+ books I’ve read in my lifetime (so far). I am curious about her other books now as this one really gave me a fantastic feeling. If you’re a romance lover, put this one on your list for 2020.

Books Read in 2019

In 2019, I read 168 books! My goal was 75 books this year, and it’s safe to say that I crushed that goal. Below is a list of books that I read in 2019 with their ratings!

July 2019 Reads

Number of Books Read: 27
Avg. Rating of the 27 books: 4.04/5
Five Star Ratings: 9/27

  • Meet Cute by Helena Hunting
  • After We Fell by Anna Todd (After #3)
  • After Ever Happy by Anna Todd (After #4)
  • Before by Anna Todd (After #5)
  • The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coots
  • 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne
  • I Flipping Love You by Helena Hunting
  • No Place Like Here by Christina June
  • Left Hanging by Cindy Dorminy
  • With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • By Your Side by Kasie West
  • The Friend Zone by Abby Jiminez
  • Bossman by Vi Keeland
  • The Prenup by Lauren Layne
  • P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
  • The Retreat by Sherri Smith
  • Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West
  • The Ex by Alafair Burke
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter #1)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter #2)
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter #3)
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter #4)
  • How to Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway
  • On the Corner of Love and Hate by Nina Bocci
  • Perfect Touch by Elizabeth Lowell
  • Maybe This Time by Kasie West
  • The Seduction Expert by Saya Lopez Ortega

 

How to Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway

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

Swipe right for love. Swipe left for disaster.

By day, Mel Strickland is an underemployed helpdesk tech at a startup incubator, Hatch, where she helps entitled brogrammers—”Hatchlings”—who can’t even fix their own laptops, but are apparently the next wave of startup geniuses. And by night, she goes on bad dates with misbehaving dudes she’s matched with on the ubiquitous dating app, Fluttr.

But after one dick pic too many, Mel has had it. Using her brilliant coding skills, she designs an app of her own, one that allows users to log harrassers and abusers in online dating space. It’s called JerkAlert, and it goes viral overnight.

Mel is suddenly in way over her head. Worse still, her almost-boyfriend, the dreamy Alex Hernandez—the only non-douchey guy at Hatch—has no idea she’s the brains behind the app. Soon, Mel is faced with a terrible choice: one that could destroy her career, love life, and friendships, or change her life forever.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Kristin Rockaway, and Graydon House for a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

How to Hack a Heartbreak was my most anticipated book this year so far. I am so ecstatic to say that it definitely did not disappoint!

This book was a reminder why I never tried or would try online dating. There is a stigma now surrounded by online dating that it’s all just for hookups. Kristin Rockaway wrote this story hilariously, like she herself has used online dating (apps, etc.) and had some of these problems arise personally. This book felt overall personal in a way, like a testament to not deal with this stuff!

The amount of time I spent laughing in this book is why I loved it so much. She made the characters very likable and able to be laughed at. When it got serious, it really felt it, but a lot of this book was upbeat and I think it really made a difference. I could connect them on a lighthearted level as well as a deeper level when things got a little angsty.

This book was also a testament to how women feel in a “male-dominated industry”. Melanie, the main character, was a coder for a company. There were many times in this book where individuals made Melanie feel like she wasn’t capable of doing her job. It happens so often in this society that I’m really glad Kristin Rockaway talked about how hard some women have to deal with it. I felt this on a personal level because I see it quite often.

I absolutely loved the friendships in this novel. It’s so refreshing to see a character have some friends to rely on during a hard time in her life. A lot of the time in novels, it’s “whoa is me”, “I’m so alone”…, but I feel like this book really showcased the importance of friendship and being there for each other.

Finally, I think that the overall story is so good in this book that you just can’t put it down. Melanie creates a website for women to write about their horror stories that they experienced on a dating app. Jerk Alert was a hilarious and amazing idea. I wish it was a real thing so I could sit, read, laugh and enjoy the stories!