Month: January 2019

Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch | Book Review

Posted January 31, 2019 by Jana in Book Review / 2 Comments

Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch | Book ReviewLove & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch
Published by Simon Pulse on May 8, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
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3 Stars

Addie is visiting Ireland for her aunt’s over-the-top destination wedding, and hoping she can stop thinking about the one horrible thing she did that left her miserable and heartbroken—and threatens her future. But her brother, Ian, isn’t about to let her forget, and his constant needling leads to arguments and even a fistfight between the two once inseparable siblings. Miserable, Addie can’t wait to visit her friend in Italy and leave her brother—and her problems—behind.

So when Addie discovers an unusual guidebook, Ireland for the Heartbroken, hidden in the dusty shelves of the hotel library, she’s able to finally escape her anxious mind and Ian’s criticism.

And then their travel plans change. Suddenly Addie finds herself on a whirlwind tour of the Emerald Isle, trapped in the world’s smallest vehicle with Ian and his admittedly cute, Irish-accented friend Rowan. As the trio journeys over breathtaking green hills, past countless castles, and through a number of fairy-tale forests, Addie hopes her guidebook will heal not only her broken heart, but also her shattered relationship with her brother.

That is if they don’t get completely lost along the way.

I read and loved Love & Gelato, and immediately grabbed Jenna’s second book, Love & Luck, because I was so excited to jump back into another one of her stories. Contrary to what you might think, these two books have nothing to do with one another (except there’s a tiny cameo of the couple from Love & Gelato) and are 100% standalones. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. There’s not much emphasis placed on the “love” part of Love & Luck. There’s a bit of a romance there, but the book is mostly about Addie’s journey to mending her broken heart. She finds a guidebook on healing your heart in Ireland, and follows the tasks in the book that make her love herself more. The emphasis on self-care and healing was refreshing and sweet, but I did really miss the romance that I loved so much in Love & Gelato.

2. I love reading about sibling relationships in books, and there’s a lot of that in Love & Luck. Addie and Ian used to be incredibly close, but something happened to her that ripped them apart. This story is about the two of them mending their relationship as well, and I loved that. Even though there’s a lot of tension and hostility between the two of them, you can also see how much they still love and care for one another.

3. At the same time, though, this big huge secret about what happened to Addie kept being referenced but readers don’t find out what it was until well into the book. I couldn’t figure out why it was so important that the reader not know, and I got frustrated because it felt like something was being kept from me.

4. I had so much fun traveling through Ireland with these characters in their dilapidated car. They pass castles and historic sites and so much pretty scenery. Jenna’s scenery descriptions were wonderful, as I’ve come to expect from her.

4. I really liked Ian’s friend, Rowan. He cracked me up.

All in all, I enjoyed Love & Luck but not even close to as much as I loved Love & Gelato. I love Jenna’s writing and her characters, but I just didn’t feel that the plot sucked me in this time. I’d love to travel to more places through Jenna’s books, though, and I hope she writes more soon!

3 Stars

The Ten Most Recent Additions to My To-Read List

Posted January 28, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 30 Comments

Today’s topic is the ten most recent additions to my to-read list! It’s a super easy topic, but a fun way to share what we’re interested in right now. I can’t wait to see what you’re all looking forward to reading next!

The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

No Exit by Taylor Adams

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Beneath the Water by Sarah Painter

How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry

Lady Derring Takes a Lover by Julie Anne Long

What books have you recently added to your to-read list?


Top Ten 2018 Books I Was Excited About & Should Have Read Already

Posted January 21, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 26 Comments

This week’s topic is books I meant to read in 2018 but never got to. I decided to limit it further to books that came out in 2018 (that I was REALLY excited about), but never got to. I still really want to read these books, and will be making them somewhat of a priority for this year (although I’m quite the mood reader so this most likely won’t even happen. Don’t judge me.). I’m kind of surprised I never made time for them, but again… I’m a mood reader!

The Governess Game by Tessa Dare
Legendary by Stephanie Garber
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
(I know this came out in 2017, but I need to read it so I can read… )
A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas
The Woman In the Window by A.J. Finn
My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan
My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren
Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West
My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran
The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Have you read any of these?
Which should I prioritize?
Which ones aren’t worth worrying about?
What 2018 books are you surprised you still haven’t read yet?

 


The Gem Thief by Sian Ann Bessey | Book Review

Posted January 21, 2019 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

The Gem Thief by Sian Ann Bessey | Book ReviewThe Gem Thief by Sian Ann Bessey
Published by Covenant Communications on November 1, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Mystery, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 267
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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4 Stars

Gracie Miller is a small-town girl who has landed her dream job in New York City. As jewelry designer for one of the most prestigious jewelers in the world, she completed a particularly stunning piece, a custom setting for a large pink diamond. But when her billionaire client Mrs. Katsaros comes to repair a minor issue with the setting, Gracie is horrified to realize it is not the ring she created. Someone has forged her design, and the priceless diamond is gone.

Mrs. Katsaros has no desire to bring media attention to the jewelry heist, so she recruits her nephew, Quinn, and his FBI agent friend, Steve, to do some sleuthing off the record. When they discover that the missing ring is just one of many forgeries in the widow's collection, they look to Gracie for help. They need her to act the part of Quinn's fiancée. From the lights of New York to the shimmering islands of the Mediterranean, Gracie is swept into a thrilling hunt. But amid the search for the elusive thief, she and Quinn find themselves increasingly distracted by their growing feelings for each other. What neither realizes is how close the danger lies and how serious the vendetta is—because, apparently, it is worth killing for.

The Gem Thief pretty much had my name written all over it! I knew I needed a change of pace from all the contemporary romance I’d been reading lately, so when I saw that this book was a combination some of my favorite things  (mystery, romance, intrigue, and travel) I knew it was going to be something I’d enjoy. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I really, really love jewelry so I was excited to find out that Gracie is a jewelry designer for a big company in New York City. She designs settings for beautiful gems and precious stones, and when she arrives at work one day to learn that one of her pieces was replaced with a forgery, our mystery begins. I was so excited to see how it all played out.

2. Gracie is a very sweet, caring person. She’s polite, warm, calm under pressure, a little insecure, and down to earth even though she works for such a prestigious company and such wealthy customers. She loves her job and puts so much of herself into each piece of jewelry she designs for her clients. She felt so much empathy for and compassion towards Dorcas when she learned of the theft and immediately wanted to help in any way that she could. She’s just an all around good person, who I could easily picture myself being friends with.

3. Quinn is Dorcas’s nephew, and works for the insurance company that insures Dorcas’s expensive pieces of jewelry. As soon as the forgery is discovered, he is called in to help. I liked Quinn a lot, and thought his devotion to his aunt was very endearing and made him even more attractive in my eyes. He’s a great listener, and opens his heart to those he cares about.

4. Dorcas is so much fun! She lived a normal, mainstream life until she fell in love with and married the founder of the Greek Cruise Line (GCL). Then her life became glitzy and glamorous, filled with expensive jewelry, luxurious living arrangements, and extravagant vacations. She loves to wear bright colors, and has the sweetest, most caring personality.

5. I was eager for the traveling to begin once Gracie, Quinn, and Dorcas decided to solve this mystery themselves. I wasn’t disappointed at all. Their first stop is to the Venetian Jewelry Show (I LOVE VENICE), where Dorcas went with her husband each year to buy a new piece of jewelry. The descriptions of Venice were spot-on, and sent me right back to the Grand Canal and the winding passageways. Then they board a fancy luxury cruise ship and explore the Mediterranean. I just loved reading about their visits to Athens, Santorini, and Dubrovnik to name a few. The descriptions of the scenery, sunsets, and weather were wonderful.

6. I loved the slow burning romance. Quinn and Gracie get off to a very rocky start, but their fake engagement brings out real feelings very quickly. And I loved that their love story grew from mutual respect, to friendship, to more. It wasn’t founded on a one-night stand or lust. It felt real and organic to me. And the romance is totally clean. There’s some kisses, but no sex whatsoever. There’s not even a mention of sex as a want or an option on either side, and I really loved that about the book.

7. I would have liked more suspense, but that’s just me. I love suspense!

8. I was annoyed that the ship had “floors” instead of “decks”. Nobody calls them floors on a cruise ship! You don’t get in an elevator to go up one or two floors on a ship, you go up one or two decks. So that drove me nuts. I hope that was fixed in the final version of the book. DECKS.

9. Let me get picky about geography for a second. At one point in the story, Gracie and Dorcas were standing at the edge of the Grand Canal looking at the Mediterranean Sea beyond. That’s the Adriatic Sea. And yes, that’s part of the Mediterranean so I guess it works, but if you look at a map you’ll see that the Med is down at the tip of Italy. You can’t see the Med from Venice. Technically the author isn’t wrong, but if it were me I would have been more accurate about it.

Obviously, I have very few complaints. I really, really loved reading The Gem Thief. I’ve been in a book slump for quite some time, and I flew through this one. It was refreshing, and it allowed me to escape to one of my favorite places. I loved the characters and the romance and the mystery. It was just very fun for me. The writing is wonderful, and I’m planning to look into more books by Sian. I highly recommend this one!

4 Stars

Top Eight New-to-Me Authors I Read In 2018

Posted January 14, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 39 Comments

So… 2018 was not exactly the best year of reading for me. I didn’t read nearly as many books as I had hoped, and I didn’t branch out as much as I had planned. I tried out quite a few new authors (18 of them!) in 2018, and I didn’t like many of them. lol. So I’m sharing eight new-to-me authors I discovered this year that I really loved and plan to read more from! In parentheses I’m noting which of their books I read last year.

Ellie Cahill (I Temporarily Do and The Designated +1)
Jenna Evans Welch (Love & Gelato and Love & Luck)
Christina Lauren (Roomies and Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating)
Alice Clayton (Roman Crazy)
Nina Bocci (Roman Crazy)
Morgan Matson (Save the Date)
Sharon Cameron (The Dark Unwinding and A Spark Unseen)
Melanie Cellier (A Dance of Silver and Shadow and A Tale of Beauty and Beast)

Which authors did you discover in 2018?
Which books of theirs made you fall in love with their writing?


Beauty and the Blacksmith by Tessa Dare | Book Review

Posted January 11, 2019 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Beauty and the Blacksmith by Tessa Dare | Book ReviewBeauty and the Blacksmith by Tessa Dare
Series: Spindle Cove #3.5
Published by Avon Impulse on April 30, 2013
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 148
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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5 Stars

At last, Diana gets a romance of her own! But with the last man anyone in Spindle Cove expects...

Beautiful and elegant, Miss Diana Highwood is destined to marry a wealthy, well-placed nobleman. At least, that's what her mother has loudly declared to everyone in Spindle Cove.

But Diana's not excited by dukes and lords. The only man who makes her heart pound is the village blacksmith, Aaron Dawes. By birth and fortune, they couldn't be more wrong for each other...but during stolen, steamy moments in his forge, his strong hands feel so right.

Is their love forged strong enough to last, or are they just playing with fire?

I always love returning to Spindle Cove, and I was so excited to see Diana get her own love story this time even though it was super short and left me wanting more. I’ve loved Diana from the other books in the series, and it was fun to lean more about her and watch her sand up for herself. Her mom wants her to marry a nobleman, but she’s got her eyes set on the village blacksmith, Aaron. And why would she NOT!? Why go for a wimpy, wiry nobleman with no strength or grit when she can have a muscly blacksmith!? Aaron is a swoony hunk of man, but so sweet and caring as well. He’s so concerned about making his relationship with Diana work because they’re from different social classes. I love forbidden romances, and this one is filled with sneaking around and tension. SO much fun and so cute! Tessa Dare never ever disappoints me. This novella is crammed full of so much heart and love, and while I wish there had been more it was perfectly satisfying just the way it was.

5 Stars

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang | Mini Book Review

Posted January 10, 2019 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 9 Comments

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang | Mini Book ReviewThe Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Published by Berkley on June 5, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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1.5 Stars

A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there's not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan — from foreplay to more-than-missionary position...

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he's making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic...

I had been so SO excited to read this book when I’d heard people compare it to The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. I went into it very excited for a similar, swoony, romantic story and it just didn’t work for me at all. I’m leaving my very tiny review here to inform my readers of my overall thoughts, but I wasn’t in the mood to go into more detail than this.

Things started out great and I loved the characters (I still just adore Michael in particular), but things changed for me at about 50% when the story shifted to a very strong focus on sex. I did not enjoy the countless numbers of graphic scenes. I don’t mind sex scenes at all, but these went on and on and were described in way more detail than I was comfortable reading. I started skimming past them to try and find more actual story, but there wasn’t much else that I could find. By about 86% I got to see how everything ended for each of these characters, and I did love that. The ending was sweet and deeper than the bulk of the book. I’m glad I read the end, and wish that there had been more substance throughout the middle.

1.5 Stars

Top Ten Most Anticipated Book Releases for the First Half of 2019

Posted January 7, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 36 Comments

I don’t know about you, but 2019 is shaping up to look like a great year of books for me! I guess I say that every year, and it’s really bad for my TBR, but oh well! Here’s a list of the ten I’m most excited about that are releasing through June of this year.

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne (January 29, 2019)

I LOVED The Hating Game, and I cannot wait to read this next book by Sally Thorne! I received an ARC for this one, and I think I’m going to start it as soon as I finish my current read.

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo (January 29, 2019)

Nikolai is probably my favorite character from the Grisha trilogy, and I’m so excited that he’s getting his own duology now!

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West (February 5, 2019)

Kasie West writes some of the cutest YA contemporary romance, and even though I don’t love Hollywood/actor/famous people romances I’m hoping Kasie does me proud on this one!

Field Notes On Love by Jennifer E. Smith (March 5, 2019)

I was slightly iffy on this one because Jennifer E. Smith is kind of hit or miss for me, but a few things about the synopsis signed the deal for me. 1. College train trip across the United States. This sounds so fun!! 2. The companion ticket is booked in his ex-girlfriend’s name, so he lists the ticket online looking for other girls named Margaret to go on this trip with him. Sounds like such a fun unique premise!

Sherwood by Meagan Spooner (March 19, 2019)

I love Meagan Spooner’s writing, and a female Robin Hood sounds very interesting to me. The clincher, though, was when I found out the audiobook is narrated by Fiona Hardingham (one of my favorite narrators). I pre-ordered it immediately at that point!

The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves (April 2, 2019)

I actually got a VERY early review copy of this book last April because I was Tracey’s subject matter expert for the book, but it is AMAZING you guys! It’s so, so good. I cannot wait to own a finished copy for my personal library, but I also can’t wait to see what the world thinks of a book I’ve loved for a long time!


Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett (April 16, 2019)

I’m reading this one right now, and it’s so wonderful so far! I love Jenn’s contemporary romances because they are always so unique and have the best swoony boys! I love the diner in Serious Moonlight, and Birdie’s hilarious Aunt Mona is perfect. I love the slight mystery aspect and swoony Daniel. Do yourself a favor and pre-order this one!

The Unhonymooners by Christina Lauren (May 14, 2019)

There’s no cover for this one yet, but I might be unreasonably excited about The Unhoneymooners. It sounds like it was written for me. And it doesn’t help that I love everything these two ladies write. Two enemies are the only survivors of a wedding food poisoning debacle and end up going on the honeymoon together because someone has to! This just sounds like it’s going to be amazing.


The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary (May 28, 2019)

Listen. This book is about two strangers sharing an apartment. “Leon, a night shift worker, will take the apartment during the day, and Tiffy can have it nights and weekends. He’ll only ever be there when she’s at the office. In fact, they’ll never even have to meet.” They develop a friendship by communicating through notes they leave around the apartment for each other!!! When does a friendship ever not turn into more than a friendship? This sounds GOLDEN.

The Beholder by Anna Bright (June 4, 2019)

The Beholder has been pitched as The Odyssey mets Cinderella or Once Upon a Time meets The Bachelorette. Color me intrigued. Selah must cross the Atlantic to find a suitor or just never bother coming home. “From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime.”

Which books are you looking forward to over the next few months?
Do we have any picks in common?


A Tale of Beauty and Beast by Melanie Cellier | Book Review

Posted January 4, 2019 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 2 Comments

A Tale of Beauty and Beast by Melanie Cellier | Book ReviewA Tale of Beauty and Beast by Melanie Cellier
Series: Beyond the Four Kingdoms #2
on November 26, 2017
Genres: Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Retelling, Romance
Pages: 295
Format: Audiobook
Source: Gift
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5 Stars

Lily has managed to save the duchy of Marin, with the help of her twin, Sophie. But now Sophie faces an even greater threat. Can she save the cursed kingdom of Palinor from its beastly prince?

I love Beauty and the Beast retellings, and after really loving the first book in this series I was even more excited to get to this one because I knew it would be amazing. Be careful reading any further, as this review will spoil who won the Princess Tourney in A Dance of Silver and Shadow!

The Princess Tourney is over and, as its winner, Sophie sets off on a curious and magical journey to Palinor to meet her betrothed: the beast (aka Prince Dominic). Since she’s the narrator this time, readers get to finally know Sophie better. I really liked her, and I felt I identified more with her than I did with Lily in the first book. Sophie arrives at the castle after a long journey in a carriage driven by an invisible force through a wintry wilderness, and finds it to be empty of people even though it looks taken care of. After some exploring she begins hearing voices of people she cannot see. She calls out to them, startling a whole staff of people who work there. They were not expecting her to be able to hear them. Dominic is not invisible, but he cannot speak to her and communicates through abrasive notes. It’s pretty obvious the kingdom has been placed under a curse and, of course, Sophie is going to try to break it and save the people she’s begun to form strong bonds with. The romance also begins to blossom and thrive as time goes on and we learn more about our tortured beast.

There are numerous ties to the original tale of Beauty & the Beast, as well as the Disney version. Melanie Cellier does find unique ways to make the story her own, however. Lily is still a part of the story, although the kingdom is quite isolated. I loved the secondary characters (the wait staff), and their interactions with Sophie. They look out for their master even though he’s kind of a jerk, but they also validate Sophie’s concerns and sympathize with her plight. I loved the relationships she formed with them. I really loved Melanie’s writing, too. Really my only complaint is that the female narrator did a pretty awful job portraying Prince Dominic’s voice. I felt the same with her portrayal of the male characters in the first book, too.

All in all, this was a very nice retelling of Beauty & the Beast! I love the writing, and I enjoy listening to these books even though the narrator bugs me a bit at times. I’m excited to read more from Melanie.

5 Stars

Top Ten Books I Read In 2018

Posted January 1, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 31 Comments

Happy New Year, bookworms! I’ve decided 2019 is going to be my year, and I’m so happy to say goodbye to 2018. BUT… I did read some great books in 2018 and here they are!

I Temporarily Do by Ellie Cahill
Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves
Save the Date by Morgan Matson
The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
A Tale of Beauty and Beast by Melanie Cellier
Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan
The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

 

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