Top Ten Book Titles That Would Make Great Band Names

Posted April 20, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 34 Comments

This week’s TTT topic was submitted by Michelle from Pink Polka Dot Books, and I thought it sounded like such a fun, light-hearted topic to do this week. This list is a mix of books I’ve read and hope to read. I’m not including covers because it’s all about the title this time!

1. Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus
2. Headliners by Lucy Parker
3. The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters
4. Island Affair by Priscilla Oliveras
5. After Sundown by Linda Howard
6. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
7. Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
8. Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett
9. The Missing Years by Lexie Elliott
10. Blind Kiss by Renee Carlino

What do you think of my picks? 
Which book titles did you pick this week?

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Top Ten Books I Enjoyed but Rarely Talk About

Posted April 13, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 22 Comments

Welcome to another TTT! How are you doing today? Taking care of yourself and staying safe, I hope! This week’s topic is so much fun because it allows me to share my thoughts on books I rarely/never talk about here on the blog. Maybe these are books I read before I became a blogger, or maybe they’re just books that have fallen through the cracks! This is also a great time to share some books that, for one reason or another, never really fit a TTT prompt. Whatever the case may be, these are the kinds of books I’m sharing today!

1. Kiss and Tell by Suzanne Brockmann
I read this just a few weeks after we started The Broke and the Bookish. During that time, I was only assigned maybe 2-3 days a month to post reviews and this one kind of fell through the cracks! The entire trilogy is great, but this one was my favorite. I loved everything about this book… the setting, characters, plot, etc. I wish this kind of story would happen to me. I find the whole mysterious, masqueraded man kissing the lovely lady at midnight at a New Year’s Eve party and then vanishing, leaving her to find him extremely sexy and entertaining.

2. By Love or by Sea by Rachel Rager/Harlin
I have only three things to say.

1. The writing was beautifully done.
2. I want a Caleb Newman of my very own.
3. This was seriously one of the most adorable, clean romances I’ve ever read!

3. Austenland by Shannon Hale
This was actually the first books review I ever wrote for The Broke and the Bookish, almost 9 years ago! I’ve since published it here on That Artsy Reader Girl for sentimental reasons, so go have a read if you’re interested. Surprisingly enough, I’ve hardly talked about it since the day I wrote that review. I HATED the movie, but the book will always have a special place in my heart. I still giggle thinking about it.

4. Dracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker by Syrie James
Back in the olden days, this kind of books was very much out of my comfort zone. I was quite reluctant to buy it, but I kept thinking about it. When I found a good deal, I jumped on it and ended up really loving this beautiful story of love, deception, obsession, survival, and sacrifice. I was riveted, and could not put it down!

5. Degrees of Wrong by Anna Scarlett
Did you know that Anna Scarlett is young adult’s very own Anna Banks (Of Poseidon, Joyride, Nemesis)? This is one of her adult reads, and I LOVED it. I read this for her back before it was published. She sent me a print-out of it with a clear plastic protective cover, back before it even had a cover image. I dug in right away, and was taken to another world. I can’t say a bad thing about this book. It’s got a little bit of everything (romance, sci-fi, action, amazing storytelling, perfect characters, etc.) and I think it would appeal to pretty much anyone. I can’t tell you how many times I’d told Anna how much I want a sequel.

6. Sleigh Bells In the Snow by Sarah Morgan
One of my favorite Christmas romances to date! It’s got a wonderful family dynamic, a cozy setting, and a swoonworthy male lead.

7. What I Did For a Duke by Julie Anne Long
This is a very slow-burning romance, filled with witty banter and sexual tension. And the ending. HELLO. I have never read a better ending in my life.

8. Boomerang by Noelle August
I read this 6 years ago, and it was the first NA book that I really loved. At the time, I felt it was so nice to see an author view my age group (NAs) as being about more than drama and poor life decisions.

9. Moonlight Seduction by Jennifer L. Armentrout
This is the second book in a trilogy that I binged one right after the other. I NEVER do this, but all three books were just so gripping and exciting. They’re part mystery, part romance, and part suspense/thriller. And it all takes place on a sprawling family estate in New Orleans (it felt like a planation home) that might be haunted.

10. A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare
This might be my favorite Spindle Cove novel! I love our strong heroine, Minerva the geologist. She’s a bookish geek, and I love seeing those in historical romances.

What books did you share this week?

ALSO… I’ve mentioned this a couple times in a couple different places, but… on June 22nd (my birthday) Top Ten Tuesday turns ten years old! The next day (6/23) is a Tuesday, and it just so happens to be the 500th TTT topic. I’ve put out a call for opinions/help on how we should celebrate TTT’s birthday that week. Please visit this post for more info and answer the survey! I’d so appreciate your help!

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Top Ten Tuesday Turns Ten!

Posted April 8, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 7 Comments

I can’t believe we’ve been at this as long as we have, but on June 22nd (my birthday) Top Ten Tuesday turns ten years old! The next day (6/23) is a Tuesday, and it just so happens to be the 500th TTT topic. I absolutely love that the numbers coincide in such a cool way! Anyway, I need help. I want that 6/23 topic to be fun and exciting and a way to celebrate a DECADE of TTT! I’ve been wracking my brain for months now, trying to come up with a topic people would really enjoy. Five things have come to mind:

  1. Top Ten Favorite TTT Lists I’ve Posted On My Blog
  2. Top Ten Favorite TTT Topics Ever Done
  3. TTT Throwback – Pick any past TTT topic
  4. TTT Update – Reactions to previous TTT’s you’ve done. For example: Have you read all/most/none of the books on your seasonal TBRs? Would you have picked different books for previous topics now? Did you finish the series you had hoped to finish? Did you accomplish any of your goals?
  5. Top Ten Things TTT has Done for Me – (helped you make friends, helped you find your favorite book, inspired you to create your own blog, expanded your reading horizons, etc.)

I’ve put out a call for help on Twitter, and have mentioned this milestone on a previous TTT topic. Some people have submitted topic ideas (pretty much variations of the first three of my ideas listed above). Either of the first two topics could be fun, but are they what the people really want to do? Is the third topic special enough? Will the 4th one even work because the blogging community has changed so much that many of the blogs that were around at the beginning aren’t even here anymore? Would the 5th topic even matter to most people?

Please fill out this survey with your opinions on TTT’s 10th birthday (especially if you’re a TTT participant or would like to celebrate with the bookish community on June 23rd).

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Ten Books I Bought After Asking Twitter for Recommendations

Posted April 6, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 33 Comments

Happy TTT! Another Tuesday, another week of staying home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. I hope you’re doing well and staying safe! This week’s topic is a fun one! I frequently ask Twitter for book recommendations, and the books I’m sharing today are ones I bought as a result of those tweets. I’ll share my tweet, and then list off some of the books I bought/acquired because of the recommendations I received!

1. Well Met by Jen DeLuca (Loved!)
2. Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren Layne
3. Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert (DNFed…)
4. Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid

 

5. The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware (recommended by Riley Sager himself!) (SO GOOD)
6. The Broken Girls by Simone St. James
7. An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

 

8. Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant (listening now and I LOVE IT)
9. Mercy House by Alena Dillon
10. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (SO MUCH LOVE)

What books have you bought/read because someone recommended you read it?
I’d REALLY love to know if you’ve ever read something because I recommended it
to you, so please share if that’s happened!
Also, do you have any recs for me? I’m always looking for more books!

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You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle | Book Review

Posted April 2, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 3 Comments

You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle | Book ReviewYou Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle
Published by GP Putnam's Sons on April 7, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher (Mail)
Add to Goodreads
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5 Stars

When your nemesis also happens to be your fiancé, happily ever after becomes a lot more complicated in this wickedly funny, lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy debut.

Naomi Westfield has the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family any bride would love to be a part of. They never fight. They're preparing for their lavish wedding that's three months away. And she is miserably and utterly sick of him.

Naomi wants out, but there's a catch: whoever ends the engagement will have to foot the nonrefundable wedding bill. When Naomi discovers that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.

But with the countdown looming to the wedding that may or may not come to pass, Naomi finds her resolve slipping. Because now that they have nothing to lose, they're finally being themselves--and having fun with the last person they expect: each other.

The first line of You Deserve Each Other‘s synopsis had me hook, line, and sinker. “When your nemesis also happens to be your fiancé…” How could you not be intrigued by this kind of book? Lovers… to enemies… to lovers. This is pretty much never done in the book world (at least that I’m aware of). Contemporary romances tend to fall under a lot of the same tropes and storylines, so I was immediately excited to read something unique. And I LOVED it. Brand new favorite, pre-ordered the moment I finished it. If this book is not on your radar, adjust your radar. You’ll thank me later. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. This book begins right in the nitty gritty of Naomi and Nicholas’s relationship. There’s no meet-cute, no getting-to-know-you, no twitterpated glances across a crowded room. That’s all already happened. We are thrown into a relationship that is seriously on the rocks. It was so refreshing to see a real relationship from a different angle. Rather than starting at ground level and moving up, we’ve got a relationship that’s already been up there and is quickly plummeting downwards. I loved reading about these two characters, and their theories of how they got to this point.

2. I will admit that this book took a little time to hook me. The hatred, mostly on Naomi’s side (since she’s our narrator and her point of view is the only one we get to read), was so SO heavy. But once it took hold, I was fully invested in this story. If you find yourself bogged down or struggling, keep going!

3. Sarah Hogle did a really awesome job of keeping this completely hilarious while also bringing deeper issues to the forefront. When you really think about the premise of this story. it’s actually very sad. These two people, once very much in love, have pushed each other to the brink of ruin. They’re able to so perfectly and effectively push each other’s buttons because they used to avoid pushing them at one point. I laughed at Naomi’s inner ramblings of how much she couldn’t stand Nicholas. I laughed at their antics and their immature acts of sabotage. And then I felt sad for them because this is a relationship that is about to flat-line at any minute! But the entire time I also felt such a strong sense of hope for them. I’d see a glimmer of love here and there, and it’d make me yell: “STOP IT CHILDREN! Can’t you see how much you love each other!?” Naomi and Nicholas do a lot of reflecting and go through a lot of emotional baggage throughout the story and even though I mentioned the strong hate vibes, it was never too much for me. It felt very real and raw. I felt them longing for each other as often as I felt them resenting each other. It quickly becomes obvious that the money one of them would lose if they cancel the wedding is not the soul reason they haven’t called it off.

4. Naomi took some time to worm her way into my heart, but Nicholas got there almost immediately. He made a pretty dumb decision in the beginning of the story that had me side-eyeing him, but by the end I realized it was the absolute best decision he could have made for their relationship. The gears in his brain are constantly working on ways to save them. Yes, he’s really good at the emotional warfare but I never felt like he pushed things too far. Naomi seemed to be the one who had nothing to lose, and I felt like she hit below the belt more. Nicholas seemed to be reacting. He was protecting himself and retaliating more than instigating. I really felt for him, especially once I learned how sentimental and romantic he can be.

5. Many of the pranks and shenanigans were hilarious. Nothing felt abusive. These two are actually very passive aggressive, which readers will quickly learn is the bud of the issue. They bottle up their resentment and never talk about it with each other. Passive aggressive people can be super entertaining, though, and that’s why things worked so well in this story.

6. The emphasis on communication and working through your issues was strong in this book, and I really liked that message. You can’t ever stop working on a relationship. It’s not always easy. This message is not usually presented to readers in contemporary romance, and I really appreciated that Sarah Hogle was able to do this without sounding preachy. It was done in a very lighthearted way.

7. The writing is very sharp and smart, and I still can’t believe how Sarah made me feel so many things all at the same time.

8. The characters are so well done! Even our side characters are amazing. Naomi works at this quirky little shop and has some great friends. Her boss is the biggest teddy bear. Nicholas’s mother is the definition of a momzilla. You will LOVE how the momzilla situation goes down.

9. For those concerned… there is a way happier ending to this book that I expected.

I left out a lot of my feelings because this really is the kind of book you need to read and experience and form your own opinions about. I love Naomi and Nicholas. I loved watching their relationship. I loved all the fall vibes and the cute little cottage they lived in. I loved the lake in the back and the coveralls and the feelings. You Deserve Each Other is a sweet, real, hopeful story. I loved it.

5 Stars
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Top Ten Reasons I’m Obviously a Book Lover

Posted March 30, 2020 by Jana in About Me, Top Ten Tuesday / 21 Comments

Welcome to another TTT! How are you doing? I don’t even know how long I’ve been self-quarantining and staying home at this point, but it’s been at least 7 months by now right? I hope you’re healthy, and if you’re unable to stay home I hope you’re staying safe. This week’s topic is a fun change of pace. I’m keeping it bookish, but book-free. What bookish qualities do you possess that make it obvious to everyone who knows you that you’re a book lover? I got a little help from my family on this one, and we had a lot of fun!

1. If I’m not reading books, I’m talking about them. My mom told me I spend at least 50% of our time together talking about a book I’m reading or pushing her to read books I love.

2. I spend an insane amount of time researching books. I will admit that I can very easily fall down the rabbit hole and into the land of books. I’ve spent hours searching online for books that have certain tropes, settings, or elements that I’m in the mood for. Recently, I wanted to find books set in creepy buildings and I researched this for hours. I posted to Twitter asking for recs, I googled the topic in the hopes of finding lists or reviews of books like this, and I studied and read about each recommendation that was given to me. HOURS. I’ve done this with Gothic novels, romances set in Italy, romances set on ships, non-erotic romantic suspense, etc.

3. I’ve been known to spend entire DAYS organizing my Goodreads shelves. I’m not kidding, and it seems like such a waste of time when I look at myself through the eyes of people who don’t understand. But it’s necessary to my sanity and my happiness!

4. I’m obsessed with bookish merchandise. I’m not a collector of merchandise related to specific books here. I’m talking about merch related to books and reading in general. Anything with a book on it, and I’m a goner. I’ve got a bookish Christmas ornament collection, for example. If you know me at all, I’m sure this will come as no surprise to you.

5. When I travel, I scope out which bookstores I have to visit. I can’t tell you how many BAMs I went to on my family’s road trip down south a few years ago (Books-A-Million does not exist where I live).

6. Book mail is the best mail. It’s so exciting!

7. I spend way too much time curating themed book lists for trips and holidays.

8. My physical therapist asks me what I’ve been reading lately. Actually, everyone I know does.

9. I have a lot of book hangovers. I get super attached to characters, and when the book ends it feels like a real loss.

10. I go to bookstores to look at the books I’ve only read digitally because I never got to hold them in my hands. I like seeing the covers and if they’re textured or shiny. I like seeing how thick they are and what the layout looks like inside.

Are you like me at all? lol. Do we have any of these in common?
What makes you an obvious book lover to your friends and family?

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Well Met by Jen DeLuca | Book Review

Posted March 25, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 4 Comments

Well Met by Jen DeLuca | Book ReviewWell Met by Jen DeLuca
Series: Well Met #1
Published by Berkley on September 3, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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4 Stars

All's faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author, Jen DeLuca.

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon's family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn't have time for Emily's lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she's in her revealing wench's costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they're portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can't seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.

I’ve always thought going to a Renaissance Faire sounded like a lot of fun, so I was immediately drawn to this title that predominately takes place at one. The story is just as adorable as the cover! As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I will admit that it took me a little while to get into this one. Things moved slowly as Emily settles in to take care of her sister, April, and her niece, Caitlin, after they were in a car accident. Emily tries to find her footing in a new town, recover from a bad relationship, and find new direction in her life. She ends up being roped in to Renn Faire and the first part of the book is mostly practicing for Faire, hating on Simon, and slowly making friends. It wasn’t heavy (or even semi-heavy) on the romance at all until about halfway through, but hang in there because you’ll love it once it starts. 

2. Simon and Emily each have baggage they’re carrying around, so it makes complete sense that they don’t like each other so much in the beginning. Simon is living in the shadow of his older brother, the founder of the town’s Renn Faire, since he died of cancer. He’s bitten off way more than he can chew, and is living a rather unfulfilling life. He plays a pirate at Faire, and I love that part of his personality. He’s able to let go of everything and have fun when he pulls on his black leather costume, and Emily and I both fell for him as we saw more of that side and less of his grumpy, frazzled side. He can also be incredibly romantic. Emily has come out of a really toxic relationship recently, and doesn’t know where her life is heading once summer is over. I really liked how authentic and down-to-earth she was. I also love the devotion she feels to her sister, and the bond she shares with her niece.

3. There are actually a lot of really fun platonic relationships in this book. Emily’s family relationships are so sweet. She’s also got Chris, the queen of Renn Faire as well as the owner of the bookstore Emily is working at. Then there’s her Faire friends, Mitch and Stacey, that she meets up with for pizza on Sunday nights after Faire is over for the week. I loved all of these secondary characters so much. Mitch in particular is so funny. He wears a kilt without a shirt during Faire and has the cockiest personality. But he’s also mushy and sweet to his friends. And Stacey is the sweetest best friend type.

4. I loved Renn Faire. The descriptions of what it looked and sounded like were so amazing that I felt transported to the woods and felt like I was the one watching the jousts and hearing the characters speak in their period language. The costumes, food, music, and set-up all sounded like so much fun.

5. The romance is so sweet. At one point, Simon decides he’s going to give Emily her first proper wooing and it’s so wonderful that I was giddy from it. These two have such great chemistry, and they also have this special bond that goes deeper and allows them to help each other through their issues.

All in all, I loved Well Met! It was the perfect mash-up of fantasy and reality, friendships and romance, and light-hearted fun that punches you in the feels. I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in the series!

4 Stars
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Top Ten Romantic Suspense Novels On My To-Read List

Posted March 23, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 17 Comments

Welcome to another TTT! I hope you’re hanging in there through all the craziness of life right now, and that you’re staying safe and healthy. This week’s prompt allows us to share lists related to our favorite genres. This should be a lot of fun, and I’m sure that I’m going to find a ton of books to add to my TBR!

Romantic suspense is my favorite genre, but I have such a hard time finding good books because I’m not into erotica or paranormal. Those seem to be all too common, and meh. Today I’m going to share ten that I hope to read soon. If you have any recommendations for books you think I might like in this genre, please share them in the comments!

Cold & Deadly by Toni Anderson

Hostage Negotiators can talk themselves out of anything—except falling in love.

FBI Supervisory Special Agent Dominic Sheridan is an accomplished expert in the Crisis Negotiation Unit. Practiced, professional, used to dealing with high-stake situations under tense conditions, Dominic is a master at manipulating people. Everyone, that is, but the headstrong rookie agent bent on destroying her fledgling career.

As a child, Ava Kanas put her life on the line when the mob executed her father. Now someone has killed her mentor, the man who inspired her to become an FBI agent—and she’s the only one who recognizes it was anything but a tragic accident.

When another agent is murdered and Dominic nearly dies, it becomes obvious a serial killer is targeting the FBI. Together Dominic and Ava search for clues in the investigation, all the while fighting a forbidden attraction that will complicate everything, especially when the predator sets their sights on Ava.

Naughty Stranger by Stacey Kennedy

After a sudden tragedy blew her world apart, Peyton Kerr fled her big city career and started over in Stoney Creek, Maine. So far, she’s loving small-town life–no one knows about her past, and her easy flirtation with Boone Knight gives her a reason to smile. But then someone is murdered in Peyton’s store, and her quiet, anonymous existence is instantly destroyed. To make matters worse, Boone–a police detective–is assigned to the case, and Peyton knows she can’t keep him at arm’s length any longer. She’s resisted the simmering heat between them–but now this gorgeous man is promising to keep her safe–and satisfied…

Boone Knight doesn’t want the complications of a relationship. But when he volunteers to protect his town’s newest–and sexiest–resident, he finally admits he’d like to explore their sizzling attraction. And after one incredible night, everything changes for Boone. Peyton is sweeter–and braver–than anyone he’s ever met, and with her in his arms, everything makes sense. He just needs to convince her to trust him enough to reveal her secrets, or risk losing her to a merciless killer who seems to grow bolder with each passing day.

The Third to Die by Allison Brennan

An edgy female police detective… An ambitious FBI special agent. Together they are at the heart of the ticking-clock investigation for a psychopathic serial killer. The bond they forge in this crucible sets the stage for high-stakes suspense.

Detective Kara Quinn, on leave from the LAPD, is on an early morning jog in her hometown of Liberty Lake when she comes upon the body of a young nurse. The manner of death shows a pattern of highly controlled rage.

Meanwhile in DC, FBI special agent Mathias Costa is staffing his newly minted Mobile Response Team. Word reaches Matt that the Liberty Lake murder fits the profile of the compulsive Triple Killer. It will be the first case for the MRT. This time they have a chance to stop this zealous if elusive killer before he strikes again. But only if they can figure out who he is and where he is hiding before he disappears for another three years. The stakes are higher than ever before, because if they fail, one of their own will be next…

Solace Island by Meg Tilly

Dumped on the eve of her wedding and looking for a quiet place to lick her emotional wounds, Maggie Harris joins her sister on Solace Island, where she hopes to recover from the stunning betrayal. At first, Maggie resists Eve’s impassioned argument about relocating permanently so the sisters can open their own local bakery. What she definitely doesn’t need on her road to recovery are Eve’s efforts to fix her up with their mysterious and alluring neighbor, Luke Benson–even if he is incredibly handsome and desirable.

Just as Maggie starts to get comfortable in her new surroundings, a car tries to run her down in the middle of the street. If it weren’t for Luke’s extremely quick reflexes, Maggie could have been killed, leading her to wonder just who exactly Luke Benson really is…

Luke thought he’d left the violence of the high risk security world behind. But he can’t stand by while Maggie’s life is threatened. Luke will do anything to keep her safe–even moving Maggie and her sister into his house with its state-of-the-art security features. But with the secrets between them and an unknown threat stalking her heels, Luke will have to think fast to prove to Maggie that she can trust him with her life–and with her heart.

Until the End by Juno Rushdan

He’s strong. Fierce. Relentless.
And he may be her only chance of surviving the night.

Gray Box operative Castle Kinkade always gets the job done, no matter how tough the assignment. But when he agrees to protect white-hat hacker Kit Westcott, Castle’s loyalty is tested like never before. Trapped in the closest of quarters, protective instincts flaring, he can feel the ice surrounding his heart melt…and he knows he’d do anything to keep Kit safe.

Even defy the rules that shaped his life.

Castle is the last person Kit should confide in, let alone be attracted to, but he’s the only ally she has left. Under threat of imminent attack—and a chilling conspiracy that hits too close to home—Castle and Kit are forced to put their hearts and lives on the line…and stop at nothing to face the greatest danger the world has ever known.

Shattered With You by J. Kenner

With his lethal skills and criminal connections, former British agent Quincy Radcliffe has fast become a key asset at the newly formed Stark Security. But Quincy isn’t the man he appears to be.

When the woman whose body he once worshipped and whose heart he broke pleads for his help, Quincy knows he must either turn his back on her or risk revealing his dark secrets to the one woman who can—and will—tear open his old wounds.

For years, struggling actress Eliza Tucker has tried to forget the decadent weeks she shared with Quincy Radcliffe. His smoldering good looks had drawn her in, while his British charm had enchanted her. But it was the wildness of his seduction and the ferocity of his passion that captured her. She’d given herself to him—and he’d shattered her like glass when he’d walked away.

Now, he’s the only person who can help find her missing sister. She’ll use him because she has too. She’ll pay any sensual price he demands. But she won’t fall for him again.

A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh

On the rugged West Coast of New Zealand, Golden Cove is more than just a town where people live. The adults are more than neighbors; the children, more than schoolmates.
 
That is until one fateful summer—and several vanished bodies—shatters the trust holding Golden Cove together. All that’s left are whispers behind closed doors, broken friendships, and a silent agreement not to look back. But they can’t run from the past forever.

Eight years later, a beautiful young woman disappears without a trace, and the residents of Golden Cove wonder if their home shelters something far more dangerous than an unforgiving landscape.

It’s not long before the dark past collides with the haunting present and deadly secrets come to light.

Whiteout by Adriana Anders

Angel Smith is ready to leave Antarctica for a second chance at life. But on what was meant to be her final day, the research station is attacked. Hunted and scared, she and glaciologist Ford Cooper barely make it out with their lives…only to realize that in a place this remote, there’s nowhere left to run.

Isolated in the middle of a long, frozen winter with a madman at their heels, they must fight to survive in the most inhospitable—and beautiful—place on earth. But the outside world depends on what Ford and Angel know and, as their pursuers close in and their new partnership burns bright and hot, they will stop at nothing to make it out of the cold alive.

True Gold by Michelle Pace

Growing up in True, Alaska, the only truth I knew was that Delilah Campbell was an arrogant pain in my ass. She was also my everything, and still haunts my every waking moment.

I don’t have a single memory that doesn’t include Lie, and I can still taste her, even though Alaska’s no longer big enough for the both of us. After our savage breakup, I fled, chasing my dream and becoming a decorated Green Beret. Ten years later, one bad jump propelled me straight from Special Forces back home, guiding rich idiots into the wilderness, where I struggle to keep them from getting themselves killed. It’s not the life I planned, but at least I’m not behind a desk somewhere.

Then one night, my cell rings, shattering my peaceful existence.

“Connor,” I’d recognize her voice anywhere, and it’s like I’m sixteen again, crazy in love and cocky as hell after finding all those gold bars everyone’s been searching for since before we were even born.

I want to tell her to go to hell and throw my phone in the river, but it seems Delilah’s visceral grip on me is permanent.

“It’s mom. She’s missing. I need your help….”

The Killing Tide by Dani Pettrey

A Corpse That Only Leads to Secrets.
An Old Flame with Danger Written all over Her.
Things Are about to Get Very Complicated.

When one Coast Guard officer is found dead and another goes missing, Coast Guard Investigative Service special agent Finn Walker faces his most dangerous crime yet. His only clues are what little evidence remains aboard the dead officer’s boat, and the direction the clues point to will test Finn and the Guard to their limits.

The already volatile situation is complicated even further by the arrival of Gabby Rowley–Finn’s boss’s sister and an investigative reporter with unrelenting questions about the crime. Now that she’s returned, the tug on Finn’s heart is strong, but with the risks she’s taking for her next big story, he fears she might not live through it.

Thrown together by the heinous crime, Finn and Gabby can’t ignore the sparks or judgments flying between them. But will they be able to see past their preconceptions long enough to track down an elusive killer, or will they become his next mark?

Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard

What would make the perfect man?

That’s the deliciously racy topic that Jaine Bright and her three girlfriends are pondering one night at their favorite after-hours hot spot: Mr. Perfect. Would he be tall, dark, and handsome? Caring and warmhearted — or will just muscular do? As their conversation heats up, they concoct a tongue-in-cheek checklist that becomes an overnight sensation, spreading like wildfire at work and sizzling along e-mail lines. But what began as a joke among friends turns deadly serious when one of the four women is murdered….Turning to her neighbor, an unpredictable police detective, for help, Jaine must unmask a killer to save her friends — and herself. Now, knowing whom to trust and whom to love is a matter of survival — as the dream of Mr. Perfect becomes a chilling nightmare.

Have you read any of these?
I hear Mr. Perfect is amazing, and is one of the best romantic suspense novels ever.
Do you have any recommendations for really good ones?
My favorite is Till Death by Jennifer Armentrout. I also love Katie Ruggle.

Stay safe and healthy!

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The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren | Book Review

Posted March 19, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren | Book ReviewThe Honey-Don't List by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on March 24, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (ALA)
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4 Stars

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…

From the “hilariously zany and heartfelt” (Booklist) Christina Lauren comes a romantic comedy that proves if it’s broke, you might as well fix it.

My favorite author power duo is back for another romantic contemporary/comedy! I tend to not really enjoy workplace romances… Ever since I read and LOVED The Hating Game, every workplace romance or romance among co-workers I’ve read has paled in comparison, so I was kind of scared and not exactly bursting with excitement over The Honey-Don’t List. Honestly, if the author were anyone other than Christina Lauren I don’t even think I would have been interested. But these two never steer me wrong, and I always enjoy my time reading their books so I put it on my eagerly-anticipating list and was delighted to have the opportunity to read an early copy! And, of course, I was not disappointed! As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I was immediately intrigued! The book starts off with one of our main characters giving their testimony to the police about something bad that’s happened. We’re not sure what has happened or why, and then are transported to the very beginning (probably a week or two earlier) to learn the entire story of Carey, James, Melissa/Melly, and Rusty. We get more interview transcripts spread throughout the story, and I could not wait to find out what happened that had these people being interrogated by the police!

2. Carey and James are our main characters, love interests, and narrators of the book. I liked them both much more than Rusty and Melly, and wish that they had had more of a starring role in their own story… Rusty and Melly were both supporting characters, but they are very much at the center of everything. Readers learn all about the marital problems, the evolution of their careers, and their history as a couple. I’m not used to the supporting characters being front and center, but it worked because they are the reason Carey and James have been thrust together. Their tumultuous relationship is why Carey and James bond initially, so it’s important that the reader really understand what’s going on with them. I just wish I’d seen more romance between the two mains. I actually think this is one of Christina Lauren’s less romantic titles. 

3. Melly and Rusty are a celebrity power couple who own the famous comb + honey home decor brand, have a TV show, and have recently released a marriage advice book. The thing is, their marriage is anything but ideal. They started out 10 years ago as a sweet, down-to-earth couple with their teenaged assistant, Carey, by their side before everything blew up and the life of fame and money kind of drove them apart. Rusty is a major cheater, and Melly is an absolute mess of a person. I really, really did not like her at all. She’s rude and entitled and spoiled and so difficult to work with. She also takes way more credit for her success than she deserves. Rusty was drunk and difficult for most of the book. This couple appears to be America’s sweethearts, but we know the truth. I kind of hate people who hide behind a pretty facade and then show all their crap in private to the people who actually mean the most to them, so neither one of them was terribly likable. If I had to pick one over the other I’d choose Rusty just because he was nicer to the people he interacted with than Melly was. But really, they are just really hard to like and never quite redeemed themselves in my eyes.

4. Carey has been working for Melly and Rusty for 10 years (since she was 16), and is very talented and smart. She has no formal education, and feels locked into a job that’s taking her nowhere. I loved her personality and her spunk. She also has a disability that she does not let rule her life. She’s so great! I love the kind of women Christina Lauren write about. She’s strong and assertive. James is new to the company and was hired to be an engineer, but ends up doing assistant work for Rusty instead, much to his chagrin. He wears suits and is the brainy, nerdy-but-swoony type. Carey and James don’t like each other a ton, but end up bonding due to forced proximity and commiserating together.

5. Melly and Rusty are about to head out on their book tour, but at the last minute something happens between the two of them that makes the higher-ups decide it would be best if James and Carey accompany them and force them to behave and preserve their public image. The bulk of the book takes place on a luxurious tour bus, in and out of hotels and bookstores. This is where the forced proximity comes into play. James and Carey are babysitting two adults who are close to twice their age. Melly and Rusty are either yelling at each other or not speaking at all the entire time. Melly knows something is going on between James and Carey (and does not approve at all), so there’s also a bit of a forbidden romance kind of thing going on, too. There’s a lot of tension hidden in stolen glances and sneaking around hotels at night.

6. The story is quite funny in places, but also tackles some deeper issues and I love how nothing felt too light or too heavy.

7. These ladies do such a wonderful job writing and developing characters, love stories, swoony moments, deeper issues, and unique stories. I had so much fun with James and Carey as they complained about their bosses, tried to figure out how to live their dreams, and slowly succumbed to the attraction between them.

All in all, this was fun! The Honey-Don’t List is not my favorite Christina Lauren book, but I really enjoyed. I would definitely recommend it to people who enjoy reality TV (Melly and Rusty would totally be on HGTV if this was a true story), book tours, swoony nerds, strong female leads, swoony gestures (James helping Carey with her disability just melted me), and characters who reach for the stars. I can’t wait for the next Christina Lauren book, and hope these two never quit writing!

4 Stars
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Top Ten Books On My Spring 2020 To-Read List

Posted March 16, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 24 Comments

Can you believe Spring starts this weekend? I feel like this year is flying by. And what better time to write up a to-read list than now, when the world is shutting down and people are socially distancing to help prevent to spread of the Coronavirus? I know I’ve got a lot more time to read than I usually do, so perhaps I’ll actually get through all ten of these books for once. I’m in the mood for light romances and mystery/thrillers right now, so that’s what you’ll find on my list. Some are upcoming releases, but there’s a few backlist titles as well.

Oh, I have some exciting TTT news! Monday, June 22nd is Top Ten Tuesday’s 10th birthday! The next day (Tuesday, June 23rd) will be TTT’s 500th topic! I love how the two exciting numbers are matching up during the same week, so I want that TTT prompt to be fun, unique, and in celebration of a decade of TTT! If you have any ideas for a fun prompt for that week, comment here or submit it through my topic suggestion form and note that it’s for TTT’s 10th birthday! I will credit you if I choose your topic.

Don’t Go Stealing My Heart by Kelly Siskind

She wants to steal his Van Gogh. He wants to steal her heart.

Some people would call Clementine Abernathy a criminal. She considers herself a modern day Robin Hood, who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. Not exactly on the up-and-up, but she knows what it’s like to lose everything. Her latest heist involves swiping a priceless Van Gogh from its owner, who’s supposed to be an egotistical trust-fund brat.

Turns out Jack David is a sexy, kind-hearted man…and Clementine is in trouble. Falling for her mark would make her the World’s Dumbest Conwoman, but Jack is charmingly persistent, always singing sweet songs in her ear.

And that earth-shattering kiss? She never stood a chance.

Now she’s imagining a fresh start with this dashing man, but that means telling Jack about her past. And other nefarious sorts are after the same painting. Too soon, Clementine learns what it means to risk it all for love.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?

• Enjoy a drunken night out.
• Ride a motorcycle.
• Go camping.
• Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
• Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
• And… do something bad.

But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.

Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.

But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…

Not That Kind of Guy by Andie J. Christopher

State attorney Bridget Nolan is successful in all aspects of her life—except romance. After breaking up with her longtime boyfriend, she’s been slow to reenter the dating scene. To be honest, she has more important things to do like putting bad guys behind bars. But with her brother’s wedding right around the corner, she suddenly needs a date and fast. Lucky for Bridget, the legal intern is almost done with his program.

Matt Kido is dumbstruck by Bridget—total love at first sight—but there’s one problem. She’s totally off-limits while she’s his boss. But the moment he no longer reports to her, Matt decides to take a chance. An impulsive decision takes them to Las Vegas where, as the saying goes, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Unless you put a ring on it.

The Marriage Game by Sara Desai

A high stakes wager pits an aspiring entrepreneur against a ruthless CEO in this sexy romantic comedy.

After her life falls apart, recruitment consultant Layla Patel returns home to her family in San Francisco. But in the eyes of her father, who runs a Michelin starred restaurant, she can do no wrong. He would do anything to see her smile again. With the best intentions in mind, he offers her the office upstairs to start her new business and creates a profile on an online dating site to find her a man. She doesn’t know he’s arranged a series of blind dates until the first one comes knocking on her door…

As CEO of a corporate downsizing company Sam Mehta is more used to conflict than calm. In search of a quiet new office, he finds the perfect space above a cozy Indian restaurant that smells like home. But when communication goes awry, he’s forced to share his space with the owner’s beautiful yet infuriating daughter Layla, her crazy family, and a parade of hopeful suitors, all of whom threaten to disrupt his carefully ordered life.

As they face off in close quarters, the sarcasm and sparks fly. But when the battle for the office becomes a battle of the heart, Sam and Layla have to decide if this is love or just a game.

Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

You always remember your first love… don’t you?

If there’s anything worse than being fired from the lousiest restaurant in town, it’s coming home early to find your boyfriend in bed with someone else. Reeling from the humiliation of a double dumping in one day, Georgina takes the next job that comes her way—bartender in a newly opened pub. There’s only one problem: it’s run by the guy she fell in love with years ago. And—make that two problems—he doesn’t remember her. At all. But she has fabulous friends and her signature hot pink fur coat… what more could a girl really need?

Lucas McCarthy has not only grown into a broodingly handsome man, but he’s also turned into an actual grown-up, with a thriving business and a dog along the way. Crossing paths with him again throws Georgina’s rocky present into sharp relief—and brings a secret from her past bubbling to the surface. Only she knows what happened twelve years ago, and why she’s allowed the memories to chase her ever since. But maybe it’s not too late for the truth… or a second chance with the one that got away?

Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher

Jack Nolan is a gentleman, a journalist, and unlucky in love. His viral success has pigeon-holed him as the how-to guy for a buzzy, internet media company instead of covering hard-hitting politics. Fed up with his fluffy articles and the app-based dating scene as well, he strikes a deal with his boss to write a final piece de resistance: How to Lose a Girl. Easier said than done when the girl he meets is Hannah Mayfield, and he’s not sure he wants her to dump him.

Hannah is an extremely successful event planner who’s focused on climbing the career ladder. Her firm is one of the most prestigious in the city, and she’s determined to secure her next promotion. But Hannah has a bit of an image problem. She needs to show her boss that she has range, including planning dreaded, romantic weddings. Enter Jack. He’s the perfect man to date for a couple weeks to prove to her boss that she’s not scared of feelings.

Before Jack and Hannah know it, their fake relationship starts to feel all too real—and neither of them can stand to lose each other.

The Lion’s Den by Katherine St. John

Belle likes to think herself immune to the dizzying effects of fabulous wealth. But when her best friend, Summer, invites her on a glamorous getaway to the Mediterranean aboard her billionaire boyfriend’s yacht, the only sensible answer is yes. Belle hopes the trip will be a much-needed break from her stalled acting career and uniquely humiliating waitressing job, but once she’s aboard the luxurious Lion’s Den, it soon becomes clear this jet-setting holiday is not as advertised.

Belle’s dream vacation quickly devolves into a nightmare as she and the handful of other girls Summer invited are treated more like prisoners than guests by their controlling host-and in one terrifying moment, Belle comes to see Summer for who she truly is: a vicious gold digger who will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

Belle realizes she’s going to have to keep her wits about her — and her own big secret closely hidden — if she wants to make it off the yacht alive.

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

Critically acclaimed author Mia Sosa delivers a sassy, steamy enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy about a woman whose new job requires her to work side-by-side with the best man who ruined her wedding: her ex-fiancé’s infuriating, irritating, annoyingly handsome brother. Perfect for fans of Jasmine Guillory, Helen Hoang, and Sally Thorne!

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

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

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

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

The Safe Place by Anna Downes

Welcome to paradise…will you ever be able to leave?

Emily is a mess.

Emily Proudman just lost her acting agent, her job, and her apartment in one miserable day.

Emily is desperate.

Scott Denny, a successful and charismatic CEO, has a problem that neither his business acumen nor vast wealth can fix. Until he meets Emily.

Emily is perfect.

Scott offers Emily a summer job as a housekeeper on his remote, beautiful French estate. Enchanted by his lovely wife Nina, and his eccentric young daughter, Aurelia, Emily falls headlong into this oasis of wine-soaked days by the pool. But soon Emily realizes that Scott and Nina are hiding dangerous secrets, and if she doesn’t play along, the consequences could be deadly.

Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein

The past seven years have been hard on Avery Abrams: After training her entire life to make the Olympic gymnastics team, a disastrous performance ended her athletic career for good. Her best friend and teammate, Jasmine, went on to become an Olympic champion, then committed the ultimate betrayal by marrying their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri.

Now, reeling from a breakup with her football star boyfriend, Avery returns to her Massachusetts hometown, where new coach Ryan asks her to help him train a promising young gymnast with Olympic aspirations. Despite her misgivings and worries about the memories it will evoke, Avery agrees. Back in the gym, she’s surprised to find sparks flying with Ryan. But when a shocking scandal in the gymnastics world breaks, it has shattering effects not only for the sport but also for Avery and her old friend Jasmine.

Dating Games by T.K. Leigh

How do you get over your last disaster of a relationship? You agree to be a complete stranger’s fake girlfriend for the next few months.

Note to self: When your boyfriend dumps you on your thirtieth birthday, it’s probably not the smartest idea to drink so much that you wake up in the same bed as the mysterious hottie wearing the gorgeous suit who you noticed sitting across the bar.

The only silver lining in my obvious lack of judgment is the promise of never seeing Mr. Suit again, not in a city the size of New York.

Or so I thought, until a story I’m working on about the country’s most sought-after and elusive escort lands me in the same café as Mr. Suit. So I do what any self-respecting woman of my age would do in my shoes… Try to ignore him.

But he won’t let me.

Instead, he makes a proposition that leaves me questioning whether I need to have my ears checked. Be his fake girlfriend for a summer of wealth and excess in the Hamptons. In return, he’ll help me win back my boyfriend’s heart.

Juvenile? You bet.
Effective? Could be.
Bad idea? Most likely.

But what do I have to lose?
Apparently, a lot more than I originally bargained for.

Let the games begin…

What’s on your Spring (or Fall, if you live in the southern hemisphere) to-read list this year?
Have you read any of my picks?
Which should I prioritize?

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