A Forgotten Murder by Jude Deveraux

Publication Date: March 10, 2020
Publisher: MIRA Books
Rating: ★★★

An English manor home, an unsolved mystery, too many suspects to count… It’s the perfect holiday for romance novelist Sara Medlar.

After solving two murder cases in their hometown of Lachlan, Florida, Sara Medlar, her niece Kate and their friend Jack need a change of scenery. Sara arranges for them to visit an old friend of hers in England. Upon arrival at Oxley Manor, a centuries-old estate that has been converted to a luxury hotel, Kate and Jack quickly realize that Sara is up to something. They learn that Sara has also invited a number of others to join them at Oxley.

When everyone assembles, Sara lets them know why they are there. Decades earlier, two people ran off together from Oxley and haven’t been heard from since—and Sara wants to solve the case. As the people who were there the night the two went missing, the guests find themselves cast in a live mystery-theater event.

In reenacting the events of that night, it becomes clear that everyone has something to hide and no one is safe, especially when the discovery of a body makes it clear that at least one of the people who disappeared was murdered.

Sara, Jack and Kate are once again at the heart of a mysterious case that only they are able to solve. But someone is willing to continue to kill to keep the truth about Oxley Manor buried, and none of the guests are safe.

Review:

Thank you to Jude Deveraux, MIRA Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an  honest review.

The synopsis of this story is what drew me to this book right away. I thought that the idea of having a couple disappear never to be seen again sounded very real. There’s actually a story local to me about a couple that disappeared 15 years ago in Philadelphia and still have not been seen or found in that time. It hit a little close to home. I really liked that it was at a later time too that they were brought back to solve the case. There were a lot of questions surrounding the case, and it was cool to see after over twenty years, that there was still so much interest. There was a long list of suspects and they all had a motive so that made it exciting to see where this was going to end up.

I had a lot of interest in the story, but the details and the writing fell a little flat for me. I think this was a very good mystery for it’s genre, but the writing just wasn’t the main point of excitement here. I think if the details were a little more in depth and the writing was the bigger part of interest with dialogue, etc., this book would be a five-star rating from me.

The characters weren’t as big of a point for me in this book as they should have been. As this is a series, I wasn’t sure if I was missing a part of these characters due to the fact that I hadn’t read the previous two. I went to the Goodreads page to see if there were issues for anyone else regarding this and I found that you should be able to read this novel first as a standalone. I still don’t know if that’s true, I guess I’ll have to find out!

During this crazy time in the United states and around the world, I’d definitely recommend this book to someone who likes a cozy mystery. If you’re stuck in the house, definitely give this series a try! It was definitely fast-paced and will give you a treat for the next however many weeks!

 

 

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ★★★★

Summer love…gone so fast.

Will Tavares is the dream summer fling―he’s fun, affectionate, kind―but just when Ollie thinks he’s found his Happily Ever After, summer vacation ends and Will stops texting Ollie back. Now Ollie is one prince short of his fairytale ending, and to complicate the fairytale further, a family emergency sees Ollie uprooted and enrolled at a new school across the country. Which he minds a little less when he realizes it’s the same school Will goes to…except Ollie finds that the sweet, comfortably queer guy he knew from summer isn’t the same one attending Collinswood High. This Will is a class clown, closeted―and, to be honest, a bit of a jerk.

Ollie has no intention of pining after a guy who clearly isn’t ready for a relationship, especially since this new, bro-y jock version of Will seems to go from hot to cold every other week. But then Will starts “coincidentally” popping up in every area of Ollie’s life, from music class to the lunch table, and Ollie finds his resolve weakening.
The last time he gave Will his heart, Will handed it back to him trampled and battered. Ollie would have to be an idiot to trust him with it again.

Right? Right.

Review:

Thank you Sophie Gonzales, Wednesday Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA meets CLUELESS in this boy-meets-boy spin on Grease.

Right from this description alone, I was hooked. Simon, Clueless and Grease??? Three things I love? I knew that this book was going to be a good one.

I was so invested in the beginning that I could not stop reading. Every word was being permanently written into my brain because the description that I read was spot on. It was so diverse, so interesting and so entertaining that I didn’t want to put it down.

When I hit the halfway mark, I had no idea what happened. I was sitting there thinking..am I going to have to put this book down? It slowed down to the point of confusion. I was so hoping that the book was going to pick back up to the speed it was when I first picked it up.

After I hit that little patch of slow, it did (thank god) pick up and I was able to fly to the end with enjoyment. After finishing and reflecting, this book was a solid four star read for me. I was so thankful to give it a higher rating because it did pick back up after starting so strong.

I just loved the characters. Ollie and Will were such good characters that I wanted to really dive deep into their lives. This story is told in first person through Ollie and at some points, I wish that we had a duel narration in Will’s head as well. Maybe for another time or book!

I loved the romance in this book as well. For a young adult novel, sometimes it’s either too sweet or not sweet enough, but this one was really good in that sense. The angst and the romance were a perfect ratio throughout the novel, especially towards the end.

“It’ll get easier. That’s the beautiful thing about the universe. It puts you through trials, but it never gives you anything you can’t handle. We grow from these things.”

Sophie Gonzales did a wonderful job with this book and I’m excited to see her books in the future. If they’re anything like Only Mostly Devastated, which is EXACTLY how this book will leave you, then I’m very ready to drop every other book I’m reading in this moment to read hers.

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen

Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Rating: ★★★

You probably know someone like Shay Miller.
She wants to find love, but it eludes her.
She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end.
She wants to belong, but her life is so isolated.

You probably don’t know anyone like the Moore sisters.
They have an unbreakable circle of friends.
They live the most glamorous life.
They always get what they desire.

Shay thinks she wants their life.
But what they really want is hers.

Review:

Thank you Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen, St. Martin’s Press & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

These two authors are truly a dynamic duo to the book loving world. I’ve read their previous collaborations are thought they were pretty good. I don’t like to compare, but this one was my least favorite.

The characters were definitely interesting, but I felt like I had a hard time keeping track of them all. There were sisters, Cassandra and Jane, and Shay who were the main parts of this story, but I found myself wanting to know more about the background characters than the main. I could really keep the stories of Cassandra and Jane straight, while the other details and information got lost somewhere in the back of my brain.

I think that the thing about this novel is that it has a really good idea and story, but it took too long to get out there. By the time I reached half way through the book, I was still questioning some things and had to stop and think about whether or not if I should even bother going the next twenty-or-so percent if I didn’t get anything by then.

My favorite part of this novel was Shay’s data. Now, I’m not someone who is really interested in statistics or statistical data, but Shay made it really interesting. I really appreciated learning some cool things throughout this novel even though I didn’t get much out of the story. Like…what?!

The average person will walk past 16 killers in the person’s lifetime.”

Again, I love these two writers when the collaborate. I think they have amazing imaginations and I think that their books make for amazing movies if they are made in to them. This novel just didn’t have that WOW factor for me this time, but I won’t hesitate to pick up another one of their collabs in the future!

Love, Unscripted by Owen Nicholls

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

A film-obsessed romantic rewrites the script to understand why his “picture-perfect” love story crashed and burned in this wonderfully clever debut.

Ellie had the quizzical eyebrows of Broadcast News-era Holly Hunter and the neon-red hair of Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. At least, that’s what caught Nick’s attention when he met her on the night of 2008’s historic election. A cinema devotee and lover of great love stories, Nick always fancied himself the Tom Hanks of his own romantic comedy, and when sparks flew with Ellie that night, he swiftly cast her as the Meg Ryan of his story. For four blissful years, Nick loved Ellie as much as he loved his job as a film projectionist: wholly, earnestly, cinematically.

But now Ellie has moved out, convinced “the fire’s gone,” and Nick is forced to sift through his memories to figure out where it all went wrong. The fallout from Ellie’s declaration that she “doesn’t love Nick the way she used to” throws him back into recollections of their first night together. Their shared jokes, her wry smile, the “hope” that filled the night air–his memories are as rose-colored as the Hollywood love stories he idealizes.

That night was a perfect meet-cute, yes, but was their romance as destined for a “happily ever after” as he’d thought? Is he really the rom-com hero he believes he’s been? Or did this Harry let his Sally down? Peppered with references to beloved movies, Love, Unscripted explores how even a hopeless romantic can learn that in real life, love isn’t, and shouldn’t be, like what we see in the movies.

Review:

Thank you to Owen Nicholls, Ballantine Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

There are three timelines that Love, Unscripted feature. The first timeline is the presidential election night in 2008. This is where Nick and Ellie meet for the first time. Then, the second timeline is current time where Ellie and Nick are broken up and Nick is trying to figure out what went wrong. The third and final timeline is the in-between, like what happened during their relationship throughout the years.

This book had a lot of promising qualities, but I really struggled throughout.  The timelines really threw me off and I think I would’ve had a better time with it if there were only two. I understand the concept of having different timelines so we can grasp every detail and really learn their story. However, I found the three timelines to be confusing and it could’ve been done better.

The drag of this book is what made me give the rating I did. I’m not someone who usually has that hard of a time getting into a book, but this time was different. I think half of it has to do with the fact that I’m not interested in politics at all and the other half was that I could not get into the characters. It was very slow and the characters didn’t have that much of a development. There were moments of “maybe I can get into Nick” and then I was thrown back to the night of the election or somewhere in the past.

There were honest parts of this book where you see Nick’s down spiral, but I struggled a lot with his character. Like I said, there were quick, fleeting moments of possibly liking Nick’s character, but I had a hard time with him because he becomes very jerk-ish to everyone and it just makes him very unlikable.

Overall, as someone that loves movies and read the synopsis of this book, I thought that this book was going to be very different. I loved the idea of it and it had a lot of promising qualities, but it just was not for me. It was a good start for Owen Nicholls in fiction, I’ll definitely check his books in the future.

February 2020 Reads

Number of Books Read: 22
Avg. Rating of the 22 books: 3.72/5 stars
Five Star Ratings: 5/22
*five star ratings are bold

  • Playboy Pilot by Penelope Ward, Vi Keeland
  • Love, Sincerely, Yours by Sara Ney
  • Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith
  • The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
  • Country Hearts by Cindi Madsen
  • The Billionaire Boss Next Door by Max Monroe
  • Witness Protection Widow by Debra Webb (Winchester, Tennessee #5)
  • A Girl’s Guide to the Outback  by Jessica Kate
  • The Secret Ingredient by Nancy Naigle
  • The Roommate Agreement by Emma Hart
  • I’m With Cupid by Dawn Blair
  • Love and Other Mistakes by Jessica Kate
  • Her Homecoming Wish by Jo McNally
  • Work in Progress by Staci Hart
  • The Story of Us by Teri Wilson
  • Temporary Wife Temptation by Jayci Lee (The Heirs of Hansol #1)
  • The Fall of Butterflies by Andrea Portes
  • Love, Unscripted by Owen Nicholls
  • The Game Changer by Jennifer Brown
  • This Train is Being Held by Ismée Amiel Williams
  • Love on Location by Cassidy Carter
  • Instacrush by Kate Meader (Rookie Rebels #2)

 

Wow, 22 books!! I was thoroughly happy with the amount of 5-star ratings I got! Here’s to another good month of reading! Happy March!

The Secret Ingredient by Nancy Naigle

Publication Date: December 26, 2019
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Rating: ★★★★★

Love is like a perfect recipe… You never want to lose it.

Years ago, Kelly McIntyre and Andrew York were engaged and dreaming of opening a restaurant together. Then he chose an opportunity to study in Paris over the small-town life they’d planned, and their romance came to a bittersweet end.

But Kelly’s doing fine. She’s not only the owner of a potbellied pig named Gray, but also of her own bakery. Business is good—so good that she’s invited to compete in a Valentine’s Day bake-off. As she prepares for the contest, she tries not to get distracted by Andrew’s visit to town.

When Andrew sees Kelly, it stirs up his old feelings. Little does he know that soon, in New York, he’ll compete against her in the bake-off…and they’ll both realize how much their past is a part of them still.

Review:

I’m obsessed. I’m obsessed. I’m obsessed. I’m obsessed.

Kelly and Andrew…Kelly. and. Andrew.

Honestly, two of my favorite characters that I’ve ever read about. Kelly is a woman that opened up her own bakery in her small town. Andrew and her were engaged, but when the opportunity arose for him to stay in Paris after training in cooking, it ends. When Andrew comes back to town and they see each other for the first time, you can just FEEL the electricity through every single page turn.

There were times in this novel where I thought I knew what was going to happen, but then I was thrown for a loop! Most slow burn, come back to small town, meet again after a long time usually have similar stories, but I’m so glad that this was different. It made me like it THAT much more.

Also, this story is something I’ve never really read before. I loved the fact that things were out there, but also secretive. Nancy Naigle did such a good job of keeping the reader on their toes.

This is my first Hallmark Publishing novel as well as my first Nancy Naigle novel. I am so happy that I loved it as much as I did. Nancy Naigle will definitely be put on my list to read ALL of her books.

Lastly, when reading this, you get sucked in to all of the wonderful recipes. Nancy Naigle did a wonderful job giving so much detail about the cakes and desserts that I could close my eyes and picture them being made right in front of me. I can’t wait to read more!

Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith

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

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Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Rating: ★★★

Divya Sharma is a queen. Or she is when she’s playing Reclaim the Sun, the year’s hottest online game. Divya—better known as popular streaming gamer D1V—regularly leads her #AngstArmada on quests through the game’s vast and gorgeous virtual universe. But for Divya, this is more than just a game. Out in the real world, she’s trading her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay the rent.

Gaming is basically Aaron Jericho’s entire life. Much to his mother’s frustration, Aaron has zero interest in becoming a doctor like her, and spends his free time writing games for a local developer. At least he can escape into Reclaim the Sun—and with a trillion worlds to explore, disappearing should be easy. But to his surprise, he somehow ends up on the same remote planet as celebrity gamer D1V.

At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other to face infinite new worlds…and the growing legion of trolls populating them. Soon the virtual harassment seeps into reality when a group called the Vox Populi begin launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron’s dreams and Divya’s actual life. The online trolls think they can drive her out of the game, but everything and everyone Divya cares about is on the line…

And she isn’t going down without a fight.

Review:

I think this book was written very well. I’m not sure if the genre was for me particularly. However, I think that the young-adult gaming lover is going to find a new love in this book. I don’t have a lot of knowledge about the gaming community, but I don’t think that it affected my review in any way.

First, I really enjoyed the characters. They were very much themselves and did not really care about how people felt about it. They were funny and nerdy which made the book as good as it was. They were unapologetically themselves and that was something that Eric Smith wrote really well. Divya was really one of my favorites in this book. She was so determined to make sure people saw that she wasn’t going to succumb to any pressures that were put onto her online. I loved the fact that she was able to be read just as she was in the synopsis. It’s one of the main reasons why I picked this book up.

Also, I really like that this book tackled a lot of serious topics like gender inequality and racism. It was very interesting to see Smith’s point-of-view and how he interpreted it through his words. I liked how the characters developed through these topics as well. There was a good amount of development which I always love.

There wasn’t a lot wrong with this book. It just didn’t wow me. It was slow for me at times. It could be the fact that I’m not a gamer and couldn’t really keep up with the references, but the book was written very well. I didn’t fall in love with this book, but I think there are going to be plenty of people that will.

 

 

No, We Can’t Be Friends by Sophie Ranald

Publication Date: January 10, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Rating: ★★

Everyone knows a girl like Sloane. She was always The Single One. She never brought a plus-one to weddings. She was the woman you’d set up with your single cousin. She joined ballroom dancing classes to meet men and was the queen of online dating.

But then she met Myles. Perfect Myles, with denim-blue eyes and a dazzling smile that melted her insides. She’d finally found The One.

Except she didn’t imagine that Myles’s idea of Happy Ever After would include Sloane battling an overflowing laundry basket, buying birthday cards for his family, and ironing his Calvin Klein underpants.

Then Sloane finds out that Myles has a secret.

The fairy tale is well and truly over. Her heart is blown to smithereens. Eating her weight in Ben & Jerry’s and large Meat Feast pizzas can only get Sloane so far before she has to make a decision… Can she learn to love herself more than she loved the love of her life?

Review:

Thank you to Sophie Ranald, Bookouture & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I read the synopsis of this novel and was immediately interested. It was described as laugh-out-loud and I felt like the blurb given was very misleading. I think that the very end has some moments that were amusing, but I’m not sure that I laughed out loud once.

This book ended up being more somber than funny. I wouldn’t mind that in the slightest bit if I wasn’t expecting funny. If it was advertised as a secretive, sad novel, then I’d be all for it.

Sloane was a kind of likable character to the point where by the end, I could almost see me her being friends with her in a real life scenario. Throughout the novel, I had a hard time with the characters overall. There were some side characters (especially Vivienne) that I thought had better progression than the main characters and that made me have a negative reaction to this book.

There were a good amount of realistic points made and that’s the reason why this book got a two-star rating from me. I could resonate and think of real life scenarios that would really happen and I thought that Sophie Ranald did a good job with that.

Overall, if this book was described differently, I would’ve known what I was getting into. Having this book described as “laugh-out-loud” was simply misleading and it was a pretty heavy book to get into. I would definitely give Sophie Ranald another try as this was my first read by her.

 

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Publication Date: October 22, 2019
Publisher: Gallery Books
Rating: ★★

Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak.

During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.

Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.

With Christina Lauren’s signature “beautifully written and remarkably compelling” (Sarah J. Maas, New York Times bestselling author) prose and perfect for fans of Emily Giffin and Jennifer Weiner, Twice in a Blue Moon is an unforgettable and moving novel of young love and second chances.

Review:

This book made me sad. Not for the plot, but because normally, Christina Lauren’s reads are four-to-five star books in my opinion. This one just fell flat and I’m sad because of it.

I read before that this book was not going to be like their other ones. Normally, Christina Lauren’s books have me bursting into laughter while swooning over the romance. Twice in a Blue Moon was very, very different. I’m a huge fan of reuniting and friends-to-lovers, but there was just a lot wrong.

There was barely any development and conflict for the amount that was going on within this book. It’s supposed to be a fourteen-year difference and I looked at the characters like they should be pretty different than they used to be. Tate did change quite a bit, no longer a girl that lets everyone walk over her and becomes assertive. However, I still feel like there wasn’t enough of a development to allow a better rating.

Sam and Tate were unlikable characters and I’m not sorry to say that. I’ve read most of Christina Lauren’s novels and these characters did not have any of the charm or wit that the characters usually possess. The connection wasn’t really there and even it seemed that the smutty parts (which is so good in their other books) really wasn’t all there. It seemed as though once something started to get going, it just ended abruptly and moved on to the next part of the story.

I just love Christina Lauren so much that they have my heart and high ratings. Their stories and words just flow so beautifully usually, and that’s why it pains me that I didn’t like this book. If I had to put Twice in a Blue Moon into one word, it would be forgettable.