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.

 

December 2019 Reads

Number of Books Read: 19
Avg. Rating of the 19 books: 3.63/5 stars
Five Star Ratings: 3/19
*five star ratings are bold

  • Parental Guidance by Avery Flynn (Ice Knights #1)
  • Awk-Weird by Avery Flynn (Ice Knights #2)
  • Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters
  • Full Support by Natalee Woods
  • The Perfect Comeback by Kacey Shea
  • Regretting You by Colleen Hoover
  • Falling For My Brother’s Best Friend by Piper Rayne (The Baileys #4)
  • Demise of a Self-Centered Playboy by Piper Rayne (The Baileys #5)
  • We Met in December by Rosie Curtis
  • Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren
  • A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison
  • Getting Down by Helena Hunting (Shacking Up #1.5)
  • Hooking Up by Helena Hunting (Shacking Up #2)
  • From This Day Forward by Lauren Layne (The Wedding Belles #0.5)
  • Ridorkulous by Mary Frame (Dorky Duet #1)
  • The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin
  • Meet Me on Love Lane by Nina Bocci (Hopeless Romantics #2)
  • The Trouble With Cowboys by Victoria James
  • The Accidental Girlfriend by Emma Hart

 

Finished out the year with 19 new books! Cheers to a lot more five-star reads in 2020!

Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters

Publication Date: December 3, 2019
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Rating: ★★

After seven years as an assistant, 29-year-old Evie Summers is ready to finally get the promotion she deserves. But now the TV and film agency she’s been running behind the scenes is in trouble, and Evie will lose her job unless she can convince the agency’s biggest and most arrogant client, Ezra Chester, to finish writing the script for a Hollywood romantic comedy.

The catch? Ezra is suffering from writer’s block–and he’ll only put pen to paper if singleton Evie can prove to him that you can fall in love like they do in the movies. With the future of the agency in jeopardy, Evie embarks on a mission to meet a man the way Sally met Harry or Hugh Grant met Julia Roberts.

But in the course of testing out the meet-cute scenes from classic romantic comedies IRL, not only will Evie encounter one humiliating situation after another, but she’ll have to confront the romantic past that soured her on love. In a novel as hilarious as it is heartwarming, debut author Rachel Winters proves that sometimes real life is better than the movies–and that the best kind of meet-cutes happen when you least expect them.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Rachel Winters & G.P. Putnam’s Sons for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

When I read the synopsis of Would Like to Meet, I was super interested right away. It sounded like something I’ve never read before and I am an absolute sucker for contemporary romance stories. When I started, I thought it was pretty good. I kept reading and reading and at this point, I was just begging for something to happen. Ultimately, there were good parts of this story, but I feel like most of it fell flat for me.

I will say that Rachel Winters had a particular style of writing. I don’t think it was bad necessarily, but I could absolutely see this being more of a play/screenplay type of story instead of a book. The characters, the premise, everything had so much promise, but as a book, I’m not sure that was the right path.

I am someone who is painfully particular about the characters in a book. I really tried, but I had a really hard time with the main characters, Evie and Ezra. I feel as though Ezra was so unlikable after 60% or so, but I will give props that Rachel Winters was able to make me feel those feelings for him. Evie was kind of self-centered and as I was reading, I kept thinking, “she does not deserve her friends…like at all”. Anette and Ben were the only reasons why I got through. There were some moments that I laughed-out-loud, because of Anette specifically.

Would Like to Meet had a ton of potential, but I feel as though the story was just cliche for me. The characters were unlikable and just not able to be related to. I really liked the idea and I think that if there were more likable moments in this novel that it would easily be a good book.

Disney’s Land by Richard Snow

Publication Date: December 3, 2019
Publisher: Scribner
Rating: ★★★★

A propulsive history chronicling the conception and creation of Disneyland, the masterpiece California theme park, as told like never before by popular historian Richard Snow.

One day in the early 1950s, Walt Disney stood looking over 240 acres of farmland in Anaheim, California, and imagined building a park where people “could live among Mickey Mouse and Snow White in a world still powered by steam and fire for a day or a week or (if the visitor is slightly mad) forever.” Despite his wealth and fame, exactly no one wanted Disney to build such a park. Not his brother Roy, who ran the company’s finances; not the bankers; and not his wife, Lillian. Amusement parks at that time, such as Coney Island, were a generally despised business, sagging and sordid remnants of bygone days. Disney was told that he would only be heading toward financial ruin.

But Walt persevered, initially financing the park against his own life insurance policy and later with sponsorship from ABC and the sale of thousands and thousands of Davy Crockett coonskin caps. Disney assembled a talented team of engineers, architects, artists, animators, landscapers, and even a retired admiral to transform his ideas into a soaring yet soothing wonderland of a park. The catch was that they had only a year and a day in which to build it.

On July 17, 1955, Disneyland opened its gates…and the first day was a disaster. Disney was nearly suicidal with grief that he had failed on a grand scale. But the curious masses kept coming, and the rest is entertainment history. Eight hundred million visitors have flocked to the park since then. In Disney’s Land, Richard Snow brilliantly presents the entire spectacular story, a wild ride from vision to realization, and an epic of innovation and error that reflects the uniqueness of the man determined to build “the happiest place on earth” with a watchmaker’s precision, an artist’s conviction, and the desperate, high-hearted recklessness of a riverboat gambler.

Review:

Thank you to Richard Snow, Scribner & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

“The Main Street lights coming on at dusk looked just as good to me in 2019 as they had in 1959, easing my gloomy wonder that sixty years had disappeared since Uncle Win and I had together watched them shine.” 

I had fun with this novel. I am a huge Disney fan and it was easy to see that I would enjoy this. Richard Snow really went in depth about the stories and information about Disney & Walt himself.

I am someone who has never to been to California, only to Florida. It was very interesting to learn about the history of Disneyland itself, not just Disneyworld. Every word was thought out and informational.

The only reason why I didn’t give this a five-star rating is because it could be a little dry at times. However, when giving off that much information and knowledge about a specific topic like Disney, it’s bound to happen at some point.

I’d recommend this to anyone who loves Disney and anyone who loves history. Learning about everything that happened with Walt and how certain characters came to light, etc., was very intriguing and I’m glad I picked this one up!

Day Zero by Kelly deVos

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

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Publication Date: November 12, 2019
Publisher: Inkyard Publishing

Rating: ★★★

If you’re going through hell…keep going.

Seventeen-year-old coder Jinx Marshall grew up spending weekends drilling with her paranoid dad for a doomsday she’s sure will never come. She’s an expert on self-heating meal rations, Krav Maga and extracting water from a barrel cactus. Now that her parents are divorced, she’s ready to relax. Her big plans include making it to level 99 in her favorite MMORPG and spending the weekend with her new hunky stepbrother, Toby.

But all that disaster training comes in handy when an explosion traps her in a burning building. Stuck leading her headstrong stepsister, MacKenna, and her precocious little brother, Charles, to safety, Jinx gets them out alive only to discover the explosion is part of a pattern of violence erupting all over the country. Even worse, Jinx’s dad stands accused of triggering the chaos.

In a desperate attempt to evade paramilitary forces and vigilantes, Jinx and her siblings find Toby and make a break for Mexico. With seemingly the whole world working against them, they’ve got to get along and search for the truth about the attacks—and about each other. But if they can survive, will there be anything left worth surviving for?

Review:

Susan aka “Jinx” had a father who was called Mr. Doomsday. Jinx’s dad wrote the book The Doomsday Guide to Ultimate Survival and they spent a lot of time, tirelessly working at the drills that her father wrote in this book. Just when Susan’s mother divorces her father and she’s ready to calm down with her little brother Charles, the worst happens. Doomsday approaches and the government thinks it was Jinx’s father who triggered all of these events. It’s apparent that it’s a choice of “remember your training” or “throw everything out the window” type scenario.

This book had such a fantastic start, it had me on the edge of my seat. I read through the first 30% within an hour I believe. It wasn’t something that I had read before. A doomsday prepper turned possible doomsday …starter?! It was so intriguing to see the steps play out in Jinx’s head after years and years of having them drilled into her mind with her little brother.

After I got to a certain spot, this novel began to drag for me. It was almost like I got through some of the best parts in that first 30% and then …poof, it stopped. I kept reading because I was very curious on how this book was going to end and what was going to happen. There were points that had you wondering if this was just in her local town or was it worldwide and other doomsday thoughts that a person might have.

One of my biggest issues that I had with this novel were the characters. They seemed almost unlikable as I got further and further into it. I loved Charlie and I wanted to take him home with me. He was hilarious and had his own little spin. If book two was in Charlie’s point-of-view, I would read it in a heartbeat.

Overall, this was a good young adult novel. I would read this again and I would recommend it. Keep an open mind when reading after hitting that little wall because it might be a better of a rating for you!

With the Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ★★★★★

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

Review:

Okay so… I am absolutely obsessed with this book. It was my favorite young adult read of the year thus far. As a girl from Philadelphia, I needed this book in my life and I didn’t even know it.

It starts off with Emoni Santiago, a teen mom to a little girl named Emma, who loves to cook. She lives with her grandmother (her Abuela) and is a senior in high school. From the very beginning, you see that Emoni does everything for the two people that mean the most to her, but wants to have a successful career in the culinary industry. When a program comes to her high school, she signs up for the class immediately. With this class, there’s an opportunity to take a trip to Spain to learn more about the culinary arts and Emoni wants to go. It may seem impossible at that moment, but she wants to do everything she can to get on that trip.

When a boy in her culinary class starts to pursue her, Emoni doesn’t know what to do. He wants to be in her life and she doesn’t know what to do because of her past and current life. She worked, took care of her baby girl and her grandmother. Nevertheless, he persisted and Emoni found herself falling for him. This honestly was my favorite part of the book. Emoni found her feelings and really grew this part. She realized what was best for her and how things would turn out. Also, even though I am a massive romance novel buff, her love interest wasn’t the main focus of this book. Making this novel about her growth and showing herself what’s truly best for her and her child was the best part. This is why it got such a high rating from me.

Another thing that this book did so beautifully was give the perspective of a teen mom. They always get a bad reputation and Emoni really let herself PREACH all of the stereotypes and how wrong they were. She was a proving character that worked hard at a young age to provide what she needed to.

Lastly, let me just say, being from Philadelphia – this book will hold a special place in my heart. When hearing the terms “Center City”, “jawn”, “Oxford Circle” and more, I began to really swoon over this book because it held such an emotional connection for me. Elizabeth Acevedo really did her research because the terminology was phenomenal and I felt right at home.

Fake Like Me by Barbara Bourland

Publication Date: June 18, 2019
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Rating: ★★★★

At once a twisted psychological portrait of a woman crumbling under unimaginable pressure and a razor-sharp satire of the contemporary art scene, FAKE LIKE ME is a dark, glamorous, and addictive story of good intentions gone awry, from the critically acclaimed author of I’ll Eat When I’m Dead

What really happened to Carey Logan?

After a fire decimates her studio, including the seven billboard-size paintings for her next show, a young, no-name painter is left with an impossible task: recreate her art in three months-or ruin her fledgling career.

Homeless and desperate, she flees to an exclusive retreat in upstate New York famous for its outrageous revelries and glamorous artists. And notorious as the place where brilliant young artist Carey Logan-one of her idols-drowned in the lake.

But when she arrives, the retreat is a ghost of its former self. No one shares their work. No parties light up the deck. No one speaks of Carey, though her death haunts the cabins and the black lake, lurking beneath the surface like a shipwreck. As the young painter works obsessively in Carey’s former studio, uncovers strange secrets and starts to fall–hard and fast–for Carey’s mysterious boyfriend, it’s as if she’s taking her place.

But one thought shadows her every move: What really happened to Carey Logan?

Review:

I have to say, I don’t know much about modern art or the art world. There was something about this book that taught me quite a bit, but also left me feeling like I wanted to learn more. Even though I didn’t know much about what was happening surrounding the art world, it didn’t give me a sense of confusion. I feel like I personally enjoyed it more because I was learning and reading an interesting novel.

There were some turns in this novel and I think that they were all handled efficiently. The characters were a big part of the twists that you find. There’s a big sense of the narrator stepping into Carey Logan’s shoes, but what I appreciated was that they kept their own identities. I loved the fact that Carey Logan and the narrator were two separate people and that the art talked about in this book is kept apart and they are both equally important.

The thing that I liked the most about this book was that I pretty much knew what the major twist was going to be. Some might be upset or mad that they knew what was coming. However, I felt really satisfied when everything become upended and then came back down to be tied all together.

I originally classified this novel as a thriller as that’s what it was claimed to be. However, I think this has many different genres. Women’s fiction, mystery, contemporary, all wrapped into one novel. If you’re looking for a fast-paced mystery and looking to learn, I’d recommend this book!

Hopeless Romantics Series by Nina Bocci

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Book #1: On the Corner of Love and Hate

Publication Date: August 20, 2019
Publisher: Gallery Books
Rating: ★★★★

What’s a campaign manager’s worst nightmare? A smooth-talking charmer who’s never met a scandal that he didn’t like.

When Emmanuelle Peroni’s father—and mayor of her town—asks her to help rehab Cooper Endicott’s image, she’s horrified. Cooper drives her crazy in every way possible. But he’s also her father’s protégé, and she can’t say no to him without him finding out the reason why: Cooper and her have a messy past. So Emmanuelle reluctantly launches her father’s grand plan to get this Casanova someone to settle down with and help him lose his lothario reputation.

Cooper Endicott wanted to run for Mayor, but he never wanted the drama that went with it. Now that he’s on the political hamster wheel, the other candidates are digging up everything from his past. Even though he’s doing all the right things, his colorful love life is the sticking point for many of the conservative voters. He wants to win, badly, and he knows that if he wants any chance of getting a vote from the female population, he needs to change his image. The only problem? He might just be falling in love with the one person he promised not to pursue: the Mayor’s off-limits daughter.

Review: 

Thank you to NetGalley, Nina Bocci, and Gallery Books for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I will say that I am not a political person in the slightest. I had a little trouble with this book because I am a little under-educated in the political world, but this book was still easy enough to understand!

This was a great friends/enemies to lovers novel! I really enjoyed the chemistry between the two main characters, Emma and Cooper. Their snide comments and just overall love had me swooning.

I almost gave this book three stars because I felt like at some points I could’ve just skipped ahead and still understood what was going on in the plot. However, the ending did GET ME .

The actual gasp that I let out at the ending had me laughing at myself. It was hilarious and not what I expected at all. I am a believer in Nina Bocci and her ability to make me laugh.

I really enjoyed this one and if you are a fan of Christina Lauren and Lauren Layne, definitely put this one on your to-be-read list!

 

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Book #2: Meet Me on Love Lane

Publication Date: December 10, 2019
Publisher: Gallery Books
Rating: ★★★★

Charlotte Bishop is out of options in New York City. Fired, broke, and blacklisted by her former boss, she’s forced to return to her hometown of Hope Lake, PA to lick her wounds. Although she’s expecting to find a miserable place with nothing to do, she is pleasantly surprised to discover it is bustling and thriving.

She’s only supposed to be in Hope Lake temporarily until she can earn enough money to move back to New York. She’s not supposed to reconnect with her childhood friends or her beloved grandmother. She’s not supposed to find her dream job running the local florist shop. And she’s definitely not supposed to fall for not one but two of Hope Lake’s golden boys: one the beloved high school English teacher, the other the charming town doctor.

With a heart torn between two men and two cities, what’s a girl to do?

A perfect blend of humor and heart, Meet Me on Love Lane is the second in a new series from USA TODAY bestselling author Nina Bocci that is sure to charm fans of Josie Silver and Sally Thorne.

Review:

This novel was if not as good but maybe even better than the first. However, if you haven’t read the first, On the Corner of Love and Hate, it can be read as a standalone. You’ll get a better understanding of the characters if you read the first in the series.

The story was extremely heartwarming and just such a cute small-town romance. Henry was my favorite part about this book and I loved being able to connect with him as a character. His character was good in the first book and I was so happy to see he got his own book, he really deserved it! Even though this was a romance about Henry and Charlotte, the other main character, it was so much more than that.

This story is very emotional because Charlotte can’t remember much from her childhood. It was extremely relatable that she blocked out things because it’s truly like your mind goes on flight or fight mode. She had traumatizing things happen and she blocked them out to the point where she can’t remember important things like who Henry even was to her. This book was great just because there were multiple things going on.

This was a rediscovery of who Charlotte was and how she developed throughout the years. You could see her struggles as well as her triumph. The way that she advanced throughout this book was just a testament to Nina Bocci’s writing style. She was able to write about multiple things at once and it all made sense. It was a beautiful story of finding and falling in love with yourself.

Overall, Nina Bocci needs to continue writing. Her books are beautifully written and can easily speak to her readers. I loved how heartwarming this book was and I can’t wait for the next installment.