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.

The Summer Villa by Melissa Hill

Publication Date: April 28, 2020
Publisher: MIRA Books
Rating: ★★★★

Three women. One summer reunion. Secrets will be revealed…

Villa Dolce Vita, a rambling stone house on the Amalfi Coast, sits high above the Gulf of Naples amid dappled lemon groves and fragrant, tumbling bougainvillea. Kim, Colette and Annie all came to the villa in need of escape and in the process forged an unlikely friendship.

Now, years later, Kim has transformed the crumbling house into a luxury retreat and has invited her friends back for the summer to celebrate.

But as friendships are rekindled under the Italian sun, secrets buried in the past will come to light, and not everyone is happy that the three friends are reuniting… Each woman will have things to face up to if they are all to find true happiness and fully embrace the sweet life.

Review:
Thank you Melissa Hill, MIRA Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This novel was a part of the 2020 Spring Reads Blog Tour with Harlequin Books.

An epic summer read about food, friendship and the magic of Italy, perfect for fans of Mary Kay Andrews and Susan Mallery.This was the perfect description of this book.

This is my first Melissa Hill novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was romance, drama, laughs, tears, everything that comes in a women’s fiction / contemporary romance novel. I will say, I thought that the romance and drama in this book was written spectacularly.

One of the things I liked the most about this book was the two separate timelines. This novel is set six years ago and in present day. I’m not usually a fan of that type of book, but Melissa Hill did a great job writing it the way she did. I was entranced by the timeline almost. I was waiting to find out what happened then and what was going to happen throughout the story.

The characters were awesome. Simply awesome. When there are too many characters in a novel, I get confused. However, I loved learning about Kim, Colette and Annie. I loved each one of their stories. I really appreciated a woman turning a crumbling house into a luxury business. This book was very big on female empowerment for me and I like that.

There were a lot of secrets revealed in this book. A lot of them. I got a little confused sometimes through the characters, which I mentioned earlier that happens sometimes when there’s too many things going on. However, it was easy to catch back up and realize who’s drama was with who.

Overall, I really enjoyed this Italian women’s fiction novel from Melissa Hill. She really captured my attention with her writing and I cannot wait to read another one by her!



The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren

Publication Date: March 24, 2020
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Rating: ★★★

Carey Douglas has worked for home remodeling and design gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp for nearly a decade. A country girl at heart, Carey started in their first store at sixteen, and—more than anyone would suspect—has helped them build an empire. With a new show and a book about to launch, the Tripps are on the verge of superstardom. There’s only one problem: America’s favorite couple can’t stand each other.

James McCann, MIT graduate and engineering genius, was originally hired as a structural engineer, but the job isn’t all he thought it’d be. The last straw? Both he and Carey must go on book tour with the Tripps and keep the wheels from falling off the proverbial bus.

Unfortunately, neither of them is in any position to quit. Carey needs health insurance, and James has been promised the role of a lifetime if he can just keep the couple on track for a few more weeks. While road-tripping with the Tripps up the West Coast, Carey and James vow to work together to keep their bosses’ secrets hidden, and their own jobs secure. But if they stop playing along—and start playing for keeps—they may have the chance to build something beautiful together…

Review:

Thank you to Christina Lauren, Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

This wasn’t my favorite Christina Lauren ever. As sad as it is, the last two have just been meh for me. There’s some winners with these authors and unfortunately, there’s some that don’t live up to the “Christina Lauren” expectation.

I’m not sure entirely what wasn’t my favorite about this novel. I think it was just a mixture of things. The pace of the book..the characters..I can’t really just pinpoint one thing.

The beginning of this book focuses mostly on the Tripps and it was a little slow to get through. When I got to the middle of the book, it definitely picked up for me. Then, it progressively got slower towards the end. I feel as though the ending seemed slow, but also felt rushed.

The relationship between Carey and James didn’t feel developed enough throughout this novel and that’s why I think I had the hardest time with it. I loved when their romance began, but other than that, it seemed very forced and I had a hard time reading their relationship that I wasn’t sure was even based on a underdeveloped chemistry.

Overall, I hope that two of my favorite authors can make another book come to life soon. Their last couple books haven’t been the best in my eyes, but I won’t hesitate to read their next novel.

January 2020 Reads

Number of Books Read: 12
Avg. Rating of the 12 books: 3.5/5 stars
Five Star Ratings: 2/12
*five star ratings are bold

  • The Power of Vulnerability by Brené Brown
  • We Used to Be Friends by Amy Spalding
  • The Hotel Where We Met by Belinda Jones
  • I Wanna Text You Up by Teagan Hunter (Texting #2)
  • The Upside to Being Single by Emma Hart
  • No, We Can’t Be Friends by Sophie Ranald
  • Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey (Hot & Hammered #2)
  • The Wives by Tarryn Fisher
  • Good Guy by Kate Meader (Rookie Rebels #1)
  • Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
  • Caught Up in a Cowboy by Jennie Marts (Cowboys of Creedence #1)
  • You Had Me at Cowboy by Jennie Marts (Cowboys of Creedence #2)

 

Started out the new decade & year with 12 books! I was surprised at some of them, like No, We Can’t Be Friends by Sophie Ranald & The Upside of Being Single by Emma Hart, which only received two out of five star ratings from me.

Here’s to a book-filled February!

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.

 

We Used to Be Friends by Amy Spalding

Publication Date: January 7, 2020
Publisher: Amulet Books
Rating: ★★★

Told in dual timelines—half of the chapters moving forward in time and half moving backward—We Used to Be Friends explores the most traumatic breakup of all: that of childhood besties. At the start of their senior year in high school, James (a girl with a boy’s name) and Kat are inseparable, but by graduation, they’re no longer friends. James prepares to head off to college as she reflects on the dissolution of her friendship with Kat while, in alternating chapters, Kat thinks about being newly in love with her first girlfriend and having a future that feels wide open. Over the course of senior year, Kat wants nothing more than James to continue to be her steady rock, as James worries that everything she believes about love and her future is a lie when her high-school sweetheart parents announce they’re getting a divorce. Funny, honest, and full of heart, We Used to Be Friends tells of the pains of growing up and growing apart.

Review:

Thank you to Amy Spalding, Amulet Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I’ll be completely honest and say that the cover was the exact reason I picked this book. I like LGBT and best friend battles in young adult novels, but the cover is what really got me. The curiosity of what makes these two best friends separate is what pulled me in through the beauty of the front of the book.

I thought We Used to Be Friends was very realistic. I think that Amy Spalding did a great job taking the reader into the background to watch everything unfold right along the characters. The plot was very refreshing as it was something I haven’t really read before. I really do believe that this was an honest story and you really got to see the truth behind friends growing apart, no matter how long they’ve been friends for. It’s a very real thing.

The only reason why I had a little trouble with this book was the timeline and the characters. The timeline is shown at the beginning of each chapter. Make sure to pay attention to this, very closely, or you will be confused. I had to go back a few times to remind myself if I was before or after “senior year” and how long it had been month-wise. James’ story is told from the end and Kat’s is told from the beginning. It was kind of hard to follow along.

With the characters, I feel like it was a little complicated because I became frustrated with some of them. I really enjoyed the dads in this book, but the main characters were tough on me. I had a really hard time with Kat and James. They were pretty interested in making sure each other knew that they had issues with the friendships but never really took the blame on themselves. I understand that they’re young and that’s how life works when you’re young, but I feel as though I couldn’t see the growth behind them because of that.

Lastly, I think that the ending was a little too much… left for interpretation? The ending definitely is up to the reader. When reading, I wish it had more of a direct ending instead of an ambiguous one where we have to think and decide what it is.

Overall, I think that if I were a couple years younger, I would’ve liked this book more. It’s definitely a high school (or fresh-out of) story. It’s definitely a book that I would read again and recommend to those with children in high school or high school students.