Top Ten Books On My Summer 2020 To-Read List

Posted June 15, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 29 Comments

Is it really summertime? Let me tell you, I’ve barely left the house since March and my allergies are horrendous so it could be Fall out there, for all I know. But the calendar says it’s the middle of June, so I guess summer has hit! Well, not technically until June 21 but you know. Anyway, it’s time for another seasonal TBR! I featured a lot of fun rom-coms in my Spring 2020 To-Read list three months ago, and that’s mostly what I’ll be including this time as well! Rom-coms are one of the only kinds of books to keep me focused and happy right now, but I’ve also picked some contemporary romances that sound lovely as well. So here we go!

The Dating Proposal by Lauren Blakely

I’ve been having so much fun listening to Lauren Blakely’s books lately! She gets such great narrators. I’m currently listening to the first book in this series, The Pretending Plot, and it’s so great!

Watch out world — I’m ready to date again.

The seven years I invested in my ex left me with nothing but scorch marks from the way he peeled out and left me at the altar. I’m not looking to put my heart into a relationship any time soon. But getting back out there? That sounds like a helluva good idea to get my groove back.

Then I bump into Chris….Clever and funny, with a sexy surfer’s bod and a brilliant nerd brain, he has just the right screwdriver to fix my hard drive. (Yes, the one for my computer.) I wouldn’t mind dating him. The trouble is he just proposed to me—to be the new dating guru on his TV show.

Now he’s my new business partner.

What happens when you meet the right person at the wrong time?

Well Played by Jenn DeLuca

Well Met is a favorite book of mine, and even though Well Played doesn’t come out until September 22 I was lucky enough to receive an eARC and plan to dive in very soon!

Another laugh-out-loud romantic comedy featuring kilted musicians, Renaissance Faire tavern wenches, and an unlikely love story.

Stacey is jolted when her friends Simon and Emily get engaged. She knew she was putting her life on hold when she stayed in Willow Creek to care for her sick mother, but it’s been years now, and even though Stacey loves spending her summers pouring drinks and flirting with patrons at the local Renaissance Faire, she wants more out of life. Stacey vows to have her life figured out by the time her friends get hitched at Faire next summer. Maybe she’ll even find The One.

When Stacey imagined “The One,” it never occurred to her that her summertime Faire fling, Dex MacLean, might fit the bill. While Dex is easy on the eyes onstage with his band The Dueling Kilts, Stacey has never felt an emotional connection with him. So when she receives a tender email from the typically monosyllabic hunk, she’s not sure what to make of it.

Faire returns to Willow Creek, and Stacey comes face-to-face with the man with whom she’s exchanged hundreds of online messages over the past nine months. To Stacey’s shock, it isn’t Dex—she’s been falling in love with a man she barely knows.

You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria

This sounds hilarious.

RITA® Award Winning author Alexis Daria brings readers an unforgettable, hilarious rom-com set in the drama-filled world of telenovelas—perfect for fans of Jane the Virgin and The Kiss Quotient.

Leading Ladies do not end up on tabloid covers. 

After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine Lin Rodriguez finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she returns to her hometown of New York City to film the starring role in a bilingual romantic comedy for the number one streaming service in the country, Jasmine figures her new “Leading Lady Plan” should be easy enough to follow—until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez.

Leading Ladies don’t need a man to be happy.

After his last telenovela character was killed off, Ashton is worried his career is dead as well. Joining this new cast as a last-minute addition will give him the chance to show off his acting chops to American audiences and ping the radar of Hollywood casting agents. To make it work, he’ll need to generate smoking-hot on-screen chemistry with Jasmine. Easier said than done, especially when a disastrous first impression smothers the embers of whatever sexual heat they might have had.

Leading Ladies do not rebound with their new costars.

With their careers on the line, Jasmine and Ashton agree to rehearse in private. But rehearsal leads to kissing, and kissing leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera. While their on-screen performance improves, the media spotlight on Jasmine soon threatens to destroy her new image and expose Ashton’s most closely guarded secret.

Romeantically Challenged by Marina Adair

Honestly, I saw “Rome” and didn’t really care what it was about after that. But… it’s not Italy. Crud. However, doesn’t this sound like so much fun? Forced proximity with a cabin is one of my favorite things.

Growing up the lone Asian in a community of WASPs, Annie has always felt out of place. Her solution? Start a family of her own. Not easy when every man she’s dated, including her ex-fiancé, finds “his person” right after breaking up with Annie. Even worse than canceling the wedding eight weeks beforehand? Learning the “other woman” plans to walk down the aisle wearing her wedding gown. New plan—find a fresh, man-free start. Too bad her exit strategy unexpectedly lands her working at a hospital in Rome, Rhode Island, rather than Rome, Italy, and sharing a cabin with a big, brooding, and annoyingly hot male roommate.

Home on medical leave after covering a literally explosive story in China, investigative photojournalist Emmitt embarks on his most important assignment—cementing his place in his daughter’s life. Three men and a baby might work in the movies, but with a stepdad and devoted uncle competing for Paisley’s attention, Emmitt has lost his place at the family table. Then there’s the adorably sexy squatter in his cabin, who poses another problem, one he’d very much like to solve up close and personal. But he can’t win—Annie has sworn off men, Paisley’s gone boy crazy, and Emmitt’s estranged father reappears with a secret that changes everything.

Annie and Emmitt are about to discover love comes in many forms, and sometimes the best families are the ones we make.

Paris Is Always a Good Idea by Jenn McKinlay

Paris, people, this is not a drill! And it actually takes place in Paris, France (among other European countries), so yay. lol.

It’s been seven years since Chelsea Martin embarked on her yearlong post-college European adventure. Since then, she’s lost her mother to cancer and watched her sister marry twice, while Chelsea’s thrown herself into work, becoming one of the most talented fundraisers for the American Cancer Coalition, and with the exception of one annoyingly competent coworker, Jason Knightley, her status as most talented fundraiser is unquestioned.

When her introverted mathematician father announces he’s getting remarried, Chelsea is forced to acknowledge that her life stopped after her mother died, and that the last time she can remember being happy, in love, or enjoying her life was on her gap year. Inspired to retrace her steps–to find Colin in Ireland, Jean Claude in France, and Marcelino in Italy–Chelsea hopes that one of these three men who stole her heart so many years ago, can help her find it again.

From the start of her journey nothing goes as planned, but as Chelsea reconnects with her old self, she also finds love in the very last place she expected.

You Lucky Dog by Julia London

Accidental. Dog. Swap. Romance. Sold!

An accidental dog swap unleashes an unexpected love match in this new romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Julia London.

Carly Kennedy’s life is in a spiral. She is drowning in work, her divorced parents are going through their midlife crises, and somehow Carly’s sister convinces her to foster Baxter–a basset hound rescue with a bad case of the blues. When Carly comes home late from work one day to discover that the dog walker has accidentally switched out Baxter for another perkier, friendlier basset hound, she has reached the end of her leash.

When Max Sheffington finds a depressed male basset hound in place of his cheerful Hazel, he is bewildered. But when cute, fiery Carly arrives on his doorstep, he is intrigued. He was expecting the dog walker, not a pretty woman with firm ideas about dog discipline. And Carly was not expecting a handsome, bespectacled man to be feeding her dog mac and cheese. Baxter is besotted with Hazel, and Carly realizes she may have found the key to her puppy’s happiness. For his sake, she starts to spend more time with Hazel and Max, until she begins to understand the appeal of falling for your polar opposite.

Crushing It by Lorelei Parker

European gaming conference. Fear of public speaking (me too!). Embarrassing yourself in front of an old flame. Sounds fun to me!

In life, as in gaming, there’s a way around every obstacle . . .

To pitch her new role-playing game at a European conference, developer Sierra Reid needs to overcome her terror of public speaking. What better practice than competing in a local bar’s diary slam, regaling an audience with old journal entries about her completely humiliating college crush on gorgeous Tristan Spencer?

Until the moderator says, “Next up, Tristan Spencer . . .”

Sierra is mortified, but Tristan is flattered. Caught up in memories of her decade-old obsession as they reconnect, Sierra tries to dismiss her growing qualms about him. But it’s not so easy to ignore her deepening friendship with Alfie, the cute, supportive bar owner. She and Alfie were college classmates too, and little by little, Sierra is starting to wonder if she’s been focusing her moves on the wrong target all along, misreading every player’s motivations.

Maybe the only winning strategy is to start playing by her heart . . .

Island Affair by Priscilla Oliveras

That cover alone has me swooning!

Sought-after social media influencer Sara Vance, in recovery from an eating disorder, is coming into her own, with a potential career expansion on the horizon. Despite the good news, her successful siblings (and their perfect spouses) have a way of making her feel like the odd one out. So, when her unreliable boyfriend is a no-show for a Florida family vacation, Sara recruits Luis Navarro—a firefighter paramedic and dive captain willing to play the part of her smitten fiancé . . .

Luis’s big Cuban familia has been in Key West for generations, and his quiet strength feeds off the island’s laidback style. Though guarded after a deep betrayal, he’ll always help someone in need—especially a spunky beauty with a surprising knowledge of Spanish curse words. Soon, he and Sara have memorized their “how we met” story and are immersed in family dinners, bike tours, private snorkeling trips . . . sharing secrets, and slow, melting kisses. But when it’s time for Sara to return home, will their island romance last or fade with the stunning sunset?

Hello Summer by Mary Kay Andrews

The pub sent me an extra one of these by mistake, so my mom and I are going to buddy read and I’m very excited about it!

It’s a new season…

Conley Hawkins left her family’s small town newspaper, The Silver Bay Beacon, in the rearview mirror years ago. Now a star reporter for a big-city paper, Conley is exactly where she wants to be and is about to take a fancy new position in Washington, D.C. Or so she thinks.

For small town scandals…

When the new job goes up in smoke, Conley finds herself right back where she started, working for her sister, who is trying to keep The Silver Bay Beacon afloat—and she doesn’t exactly have warm feelings for Conley. Soon she is given the unenviable task of overseeing the local gossip column, “Hello, Summer.”

And big-time secrets.

Then Conley witnesses an accident that ends in the death of a local congressman—a beloved war hero with a shady past. The more she digs into the story, the more dangerous it gets. As an old heartbreaker causes trouble and a new flame ignites, it soon looks like their sleepy beach town is the most scandalous hotspot of the summer.

The Little Bookshop of Love Stories by Jaimie Admans

I love books about bookish people! The heroine wins a bookshop! How amazing does that sound?!

Today is the Mondayest Monday ever. Hallie Winstone has been fired – and it wasn’t even her fault!

Having lost her job and humiliated herself in front of a whole restaurant full of diners, this is absolutely, one hundred percent, the worst day of her life.

That is until she receives an email announcing that she is the lucky winner of the Once Upon a Page Bookshop!

Owning a bookshop has always been Hallie’s dream, and when she starts to find secret love letters on the first pages of every book, she knows she’s stumbled across something special.

Things get even better when she meets gorgeous, bookish Dimitri and between them, they post a few of the hidden messages online, reuniting people who thought they were lost forever.

But maybe it’s time for Hallie to find her own happy-ever-after, too?

What’s on your summer TBR?
Have you read any of these? What did you think?

 

Also… next week’s TTT is in celebration of Top Ten Tuesday’s 10th birthday and 500th topic! I’ve made a special button to celebrate and I hope you’ll use it next week!

 

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Birthday Suit by Lauren Blakely | Book Review

Posted June 11, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Birthday Suit by Lauren Blakely | Book ReviewBirthday Suit by Lauren Blakely
Series: Sexy Suits #2
Published by Lauren Blakely Books on January 17, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 306
Source: Audible
Add to Goodreads
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5 Stars

There is no rule in the Man Code as unbreakable as this: no matter how beautiful, smart, clever, and witty she is, do not—under any circumstances—fall in love with your best friend’s woman.

Yeah. So there’s that.
Look, it’s not like I didn’t know I screwed up by falling for her.
Also, for the record, unrequited love sucks big time.
And, I might have cut myself some slack by now, given everything that went down in the last few years, but Lulu just walked back into my life in a big way.

***

There are three things I've never been able to resist—my friends, my family, and chocolate.

Leo Hennessy? He was nowhere on that list. He's been a true friend—a friend who walked through hell and back with me.
Now, I'm stepping into my new future. I didn't expect it to include a riddle-filled, race-against-the-clock scavenger hunt across New York City.
With Leo.
Suddenly, I'm looking at this man with new eyes...
But my life spun out because of a man once before, and I can’t risk my fresh start, no matter what the temptation. And Leo is most definitely a temptation of the sexiest, sweetest, and most dangerous variety.
More irresistibly delicious than chocolate...

I will admit, I grabbed this immediately after loving and finishing the first book in this series, Lucky Suit (a novella). And yes, I loved that book a lot, but I think loved it more than I if I had actually read it with my eyes because of the narrators. So when I saw the huge cast of narrators for Birthday Suit (which includes Shane East/Steve West, my love) and read the synopsis (YES), I decided to shove all current plans aside and listen to this immediately. Boy, am I a good decision maker.

Things I Liked:

  • The narrators. Each character in Birthday Suit has their own narrator and, instead of alternating chapters like some audiobooks do with narrator duets or trios, this one was read like it was a TV show! Lulu (Andi Arndt) and Leo (Sebastian York) narrate alternate chapters as a whole, but then whenever any of the characters have anything to say, the narrator assigned to that character reads their lines. It’s SO much fun. This is an AMAZING cast of narrators, and each one brought so much life and personality to their characters. It felt like an episode of Friends. I will actively seek out full casts from now on, and already have a bunch on my wishlist.
  • I have to hand it to Lauren Blakely, because she obviously wrote the book to facilitate the kind of narration we got. It was amazing. The snark and personalities that she created gave the narrators amazing content to work with. All those full cast audiobooks I mentioned above that are now on my wishlist? Yeah, they’re all by Lauren Blakely. I think I’m a total fangirl. I ran to her website to sign up for email notifications so I’ll know exactly what to wish for next.
  • Lulu is a chocolatier with big dreams. She’s divorced after a rather toxic marriage to a guy who had a better relationship with alcohol than he did with her. I really, really like Lulu. She can do hard things and make hard decisions. She puts her best interests ahead of everything else, yet she’s still so caring and compassionate. I really loved reading her story.
  • Speaking of her being a chocolatier… this book will make you crave chocolate. Trust me on this and have some handy while you read because you’re going to be hearing about chocolate recipes and truffles and chocolate fountains… sea salt and caramel… SO MUCH CHOCOLATE.
  • Leo is awesome. He works for a company called Heavenly that is all about chocolate. He immediately recommends Lulu for their Rising Star event, and they bring her on to the team to develop a new line of chocolate treats. Leo has been in love with Lulu since before she married his best friend, and the two of them have the cutest friendship. But, of course, he wants so much more with her. His pining and infatuation with her was very sweet. I loved how he looked out for her and protected her and loved her while also trying to respect his friendship with her ex-husband. He really had to suffer, and I felt for him. He’s got some baggage and some emotional turmoil going on in his head, and he’s so torn on some decisions he has to make.
  • Lulu and Leo have a very cute romance, too. I loved their flirtiness and their backstory as a duo. And their riddles. They love to do riddles together, many of which they make up on their own, and I thought that was so cute!
  • There’s a lot of depth and intense underlying issues going on, which added some interesting layers. I liked the light-hearted romance and chocolate and scavenger hunt, but I also liked the growing and healing and moving on that some of these characters are having to do.
  • The supporting characters are great. Lulu and Leo both have wonderful and supportive friends.
  • All the loose ends are tied up, and things are so swoony and sweet!

What I Didn’t Like:

  • This is hard, because I’m not sure there was anything I didn’t like! I think my only disappointment is that I didn’t get more info on Ginny’s romance. Ginny is one of the supporting characters that I loved. I hope she gets her own book.

Additional Thoughts:

  • Definitely get your hands on the audio if you can! I know it made the story so much better for me. And at the end there’s a 1-hour bonus interview between Andi and Sebastian that was really fun. Listeners learn what recording was like, and rituals of audiobook narrators. They talked about lots of fun things.
  • I could EASILY re-listen to this. I’m not much of a re-reader, but this was so much fun that I know I’ll go back to it again someday.

All in all, this was a total win for me and I’m a Lauren Blakely fangirl! I can’t wait to listen to/read another one of her books! Highly recommended, and a brand new favorite!

5 Stars
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Top Ten Books I Want to Read but Forgot Why

Posted June 8, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 24 Comments

This week’s TTT was stolen from Louise @ Foxes & Fairy Tales because I thought it was so funny! I think we book lovers tend to add books to our to-read lists and then forget about them all the time. Have you ever scrolled through your to-read list, seen a cover or title, and gone “Wait. What’s this about again? When did I add this to my list?”? I know I have! So those are the books I’m sharing today: books I once wanted to read (and probably still do), but can’t remember why I added them to my to-read list (aka what are these books even about?!). If you see a book I need to be excited about, let me know!

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella
Must’ve Done Something Good by Cheryl Cory
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig
The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler
Love Overdue by Pamela Morsi
House of Shadows by Darcy Coates
Nightchaser by Amanda Bouchet

Can anyone tell me why I wanted to read these?

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Lucky Suit by Lauren Blakely | Book Review

Posted June 4, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Lucky Suit by Lauren Blakely | Book ReviewLucky Suit by Lauren Blakely
Series: Sexy Suits #1
Published by Lauren Blakely Books on July 1, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 129
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Add to Goodreads
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5 Stars

Kristen Leonard is done with setups. She’s not interested in your son or your nephew or your butcher or the guy who mows your lawn, thank you very much, grandma! After all, she’s a modern woman—she’ll take her chances on the algorithms of online dating to find her ideal man. Before long, she meets a man who might just be the one—he’s hilarious, quick-witted, and full of heart. And when she meets up with Cameron in real life, he certainly looks exactly like his profile picture…but something’s not quite right.

There’s really no telling what brought them together and all bets are off as to whether or not they can trust their hearts over their heads. After all, can you fall in love with someone you’re not sure you really even know?

Lauren Blakey might be one of my new favorite authors! After reading Lucky Suit and its sequel, Birthday Suit, in less than a week’s time (and giving both of them 5-star ratings) I’m eager and excited to read more from her! Lucky Suit was a free Audible Original about a year ago, so I grabbed it because I’m a huge lover of romance (as you know). This one was short and sweet, just how I like them sometimes!

What I Liked:

  • I loved the narrators. Andi Arndt and Zachary Webber have both rocketed their way into my very favorite narrators ever. They were both so much fun to listen to, and really brought the characters to life. I’m going to keep an eye out for books read by both of them in them in the future. Andi’s got this sassy, sweet voice and can really bring the snark and sarcasm. And Zachary has this swoony, sexy voice that made me totally fall for Cameron. He’s also great at infusing personality into the character.
  • Kristen and Cameron are both such great characters. I love Cameron for how sweet he was with Kristen’s grandma, playing online poker and talking fancy cars with her. I can just picture him winking and humoring her, and I love guys like that. He’s also funny and charming and so sweet!
  • Kristen is super relatable. She’s skeptical of dating and finding the right guy, and I totally agree with her. She’s very smart and completely analytical about a lot of things.
  • Jeannie, the grandma, is a HOOT. I love her so much!
  • The pranks in this story are top notch. No spoilers, so I won’t expound on this!
  • No sexytimes, which I appreciate because they make me blush on audio!!

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Honestly, I just wish the story was longer. I wanted more romance, more online chats, more Jeannie antics, more everything! But it’s a favorite of mine just as it is, so I’m not that upset!

Additional Thoughts:

  • Definitely read this one before you read Birthday Suit. Even though it’s tiny, and basically a novella, Cameron shows up in Birthday Suit and I was excited to see him again. You appreciate him more in BS if you’ve read LS, at least in my opinion. Although, I’m pretty sure Lucky Suit takes place DURING Birthday Suit because we never hear about Kristen, just a “mystery woman”. But anyway! Do it for Cameron.
  • Must find more books read by Andi and/or Zachary!
  • Must go browse Lauren Blakely’s other books and find more swoony stories!

All in all, this was so much fun and I highly recommend it! If you can listen to it, do it, because I think it made me love it even more.

5 Stars
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Top Ten Books That Give Off Summer Vibes

Posted June 1, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 20 Comments

Welcome to another TTT! And happy summer! I can’t believe summer starts this month. Have we been quarantining for 7 years yet? I’ve chosen to share 5 books I loved that give off summery vibes and 5 from my TBR that look like the pages will drip sunshine. Some have summery covers or titles, and some just have very summery content. I’m looking forward to browsing some of your books this week. Goodness knows I need a little vacation to a tropical paradise right about now!

Summery Books I Loved

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren – Hawaiian unhoneymoon!
On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves – An island!
Well Met by Jen DeLuca – Summer Renn Fair
Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton – Italy!
Catch of the Day by Kristan Higgins – Look at that boating cover!

Summery Books On My To-Read List

Island Affair by Priscilla Oliveras
Around the World With My Ex by Maxine Morrey
Emerald Coast by Anita Hughes
Finding You by Jo Watson
Well Played by Jen DeLuca

 

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New-to-Me Author Summer Bingo Event Announcement

Posted June 1, 2020 by Jana in Blog Event / 16 Comments

I’m so excited to announce that Jessica (Reading with Jessica) and I are hosting a fun summer reading event called New-to-Me-Author Summer Bingo! We’ve both been wanting to collaborate on something on our blogs, and since we’ve both been meaning to start branching out and exploring the works of authors we’ve never read before this event was born. We hope you’ll join us!

The Basics:

  • This event lasts from June 1st-August 31st, which is perfect because it won’t overrun any other reading challenges you’re participating in or books you’re excited to read that don’t fit this challenge’s parameters.
  • You can only count books towards the bingo card if you have not read that author before.
  • A bingo can be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. You can also go for multiple bingos or blackout if you’re feeling ambitious.
  • Use the hashtag #nasbingo to share updates on your progress and tell us what you’re hoping to read.

I cannot wait to participate with you all summer!!! Jessica and I will be hosting reading sprints on our Twitter pages (@ArtsyReaderGirl and @ReadingwJessica), so be sure to follow us there to join in!

Here is the bingo card with all the prompts, as well as a blank one if you’d like to fill in the books on your TBR or update it once you’ve read. Feel free to share this challenge with others!

 

 

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Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid | Book Review

Posted May 28, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 0 Comments

Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid | Book ReviewNeanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid
Series: Knitting in the City #1
Published by Cipher-Naught on July 1, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 404
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add to Goodreads
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4 Stars

There are three things you need to know about Janie Morris:
1) She is incapable of engaging in a conversation without volunteering TMTI (Too Much Trivial Information), especially when she is unnerved,
2) No one unnerves her more than Quinn Sullivan, and
3) She doesn't know how to knit.

After losing her boyfriend, apartment, and job in the same day, Janie Morris can't help wondering what new torment fate has in store.

To her utter mortification, Quinn Sullivan—aka Sir McHotpants—witnesses it all then keeps turning up like a pair of shoes you lust after but can't afford. The last thing she expects is for Quinn to make her an offer she can't refuse.

I’ve had my eye on Penny Reid’s books for quite some time now, but I kept not reading them! There was never a big reason why, there were just always other books to read instead. Then I was talking with my romance book club about fun books and Penny popped up in the conversation and I knew it was time to make time for her! Neanderthal Seeks Human was a JOY to read!

What I Liked:

  • This. Was. Adorkable.
  • Janie is such a sweet and wonderful heroine, and might be one of the most unique characters I’ve ever read about. She has not street smarts whatsoever, but she makes up for it in book smarts. She knows every useless fact you didn’t know you wanted to know. Socially, she’s a little off and awkward… but get her talking about a topic she’s interested in and you can’t get her to be quiet. She comes up with some of the goofiest, most random questions and discussion topics. She spouts off the funniest thoughts. She’s also incredibly insecure, aloof, and has some of the worst luck ever. Oh, and she thinks cell phones are evil and will not use one. She just warmed my heart. I loved her because I could relate to and empathize with her.
  • Quinn is the large and in charge, burly, no-nonsense, gruff, cynical hero and I was here for him. He’s a man of very few words, with a lot of secrets, sarcasm, and snark. He’s a complete and total alpha and has no idea how to date someone because he’s always been the one-night-stand kind of guy. Everyone fantasizes about being wrapped up in some big teddy bear, and that’s what I think of when I think of Quinn. All he needed was to find a girl that he felt strongly enough about to motivate him to work through his crap and become the man he wants to be. He’s so sweet and loves all of Janie’s quirks. It takes a special someone to fall for an oddball, and he is just the right guy for her.
  • Together, Janie and Quinn have some of the best witty banter I’ve read. Their disagreements and debates are hilarious. Their deep and not-so-deep-but-full-of-useless-facts discussions plastered a smile on my face often. They’re just such a fun pair, and they’ve got amazing chemistry.
  • The knitting group… so funny. There’s a little drama and some trouble comes looking for Janie and Quinn, and the knitting group intervenes in a way you will never expect. I can’t wait to read the stories of the other women in this group. Janie has some wonderful friends, and I am so jealous!
  • Penny’s writing is awesome. And she’s incredibly smart to be able to write such a smart heroine! I didn’t know smart romances were my thing, but apparently they are!

What I Disliked:

  • Ho boy, this book was HUGE and it dragged in a few places. I kept being amazed at the small dents I was making in this book as I read.
  • That being said, the book started off pretty slow but once things really got moving I enjoyed the ride.
  • Sometimes Janie’s thoughts and questions and ramblings went on a little too long. But I love her anyway.
  • At times I had a hard time believing what was happening because it just seemed too outlandish or over-the-top.

All in all, this was so cute and the kind of light-hearted fun I needed during this crazy time of quarantine. Janie and Quinn are a couple to root for, and I’m so excited to read about the rest of the women in Janie’s knitting group! I also can’t wait to dive into the sequel to this one, Neanderthal Marries Human, and read more about Janie and Quinn!

4 Stars
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Christmas In July Gift Exchange Announcement and Sign-Ups

Posted May 26, 2020 by Jana in Blog Event / 3 Comments

Hi everyone! We know that during this time we could all use a little extra kindness, magic, and fun! Since Santa is off at the beach sipping fruit punch and getting a tan, he has enlisted our help in spreading a little Christmas magic! So, we are very excited to announce the Christmas in July gift exchange!

Below you will find all event info, including the rules for the exchange, sign up directions, and a questionnaire so the person shopping for you can get to know you better. PLEASE read through this entire post thoroughly before deciding if this event is right for you. 

The Details:

  • Sign ups are open until 11:59 PM EDT on June 17th and I will be sending matches out on June 18th. I’m hoping to give you as much time as possible to gather your goodies for your recipient!
  • This event is open to residents of the USA ONLY. With each country having different rules and plans in place to keep people safe we think this is the best decision. There are so many unknowns, and coordinating internationally would be quite challenging. We’re so sorry to disappoint.
  • This is a commitment. Please only sign-up if you are committed to sending off your gift(s) on time.
  • What you sign up to send is what you will receive. I will be grouping people up based on box type and monetary tier so that everything is fair.
  • Shipping does not count towards the monetary value of the gift.
  • Please note that this is not a swap. The person who will be sending to you is not the same person you will be sending to.
  • The event hashtag is #GiftmasInJuly. Please use it lots because the friendships that form around events like there are the best!

If you have any questions or concerns before or during this process, please reach out! You can simply write to ChristmasInJulyExchange@gmail.com or DM one of us on Twitter (@ArtsyReaderGirl and @BrookeWorm33).

The Box Types and Monetary Tiers:

Digital ONLY Box: This box includes ONLY digital gifts. Audiobooks, ebooks, digital albums/movies, e-gift cards, etc. Since this option does not include any physical mail (and, therefore, no enclosed note or card), please email your recipient a note to go along with the gifts you’re sending them. Please do this after you’ve sent them all you’re planning to send, so they know they’ve received everything.

  • Digital Tier 1: $10-$15
  • Digital Tier 2: $15-$20
  • Digital Tier 3: $20+

Mixed Box: This box includes the option to send both digital (ebooks, audiobooks, egift cards, etc.) and physical items shipped DIRECTLY from retailers (amazon, book depository, Barnes & Noble, book outlet, Society6, etsy, target.com, etc.). Digital items are not required if they do not apply to your recipient. Since this option does not include any mail sent directly by you (for example, no notes or cards), please email your recipient a note to go along with the gifts you’re sending them. This allows them to respond/thank you. 

  • Mixed Tier 1: $10-$15 (excluding any shipping costs)
  • Mixed Tier 2: $15-$20 (excluding any shipping costs)
  • Mixed Tier 3: $20+ (excluding any shipping costs)

Curated box: This box is basically a traditional gift swap box (like OTSPSecretSister and TBTBSANTA). You will put together a physical box of goodies (along with a note to reveal yourself), preferably wrapped, and send it directly to your recipient. 

  • Curated Tier 1: $10-$15 (excluding any shipping costs)
  • Curated Tier 2: $15-$20 (excluding any shipping costs)
  • Curated Tier 3: $20+ (excluding any shipping costs)

Signing Up:

Please send the following completed questionnaire to ChristmasInJulyExchange@gmail.com. The more detailed you are, the easier it will be for your sender to spoil you! (Please do not attach a Word (or other) document to the email. Instead, please paste your answers directly into the body of your sign-up email.) 

1. Box Type and Tier:

a. Digital Tier 1: $10-$15
b. Digital Tier 2: $15-$20
c. Digital Tier 3: $20+
d. Mixed Tier 1: $10-$15 (excluding any shipping costs)
e. Mixed Tier 2: $15-$20 (excluding any shipping costs)
f. Mixed Tier 3: $20+ (excluding any shipping costs)
g. Curated Tier 1: $10-$15 (excluding any shipping costs)
h. Curated Tier 2: $15-$20 (excluding any shipping costs)
i. Curated Tier 3: $20+ (excluding any shipping costs)

2. Do you live in the USA? This event is only open to residents of the USA (even the digital-only box type).

3. Name, mailing address, and email address (if you’re signing up for the digital tier, do not include your mailing address. The email address you include must be the one you will be receiving digital gifts to, if applicable. It will also be the one you’ll receive a note from your sender, if applicable.):

4. Age:
Under 18
18+

5. Where can we find you online? (Blog URL, Insta/Twitter handles, etc. You must be active on social media to participate.):

6. Your wish list(s) (Please provide links to any wish lists you have. If you don’t have an online wishlist, please make one. It’s much easier than listing out what you’d like here. These wish lists must remain exclusive to the Christmas In July Gift Exchange until you’ve received your gifts.)

7. Tell us about your digital preferences. (Do you have an e-reader? Which one? Would you enjoy getting an Audible credit? Do you want any online subscriptions or gift memberships? Where do you prefer getting MP3 albums from? If you’re not a digital person, explain that here.)

8. How do you practice self care? Tell us about the things you do that make you happy.

9. What do you collect?

10. What are some of your favorite genres/authors?

11. What won’t you read?

12. What fandoms do you belong to?

13. What are you always in need of?

14. What are your favorite things?

15. Do you have any allergies? What can’t you receive?

16. Tell us anything else we need to know about you that was not covered by the questions above.

17. Please provide the contact information (twitter handle and/or email) of 1-2 buddies that your sender can contact with questions about you or information they need relayed to you. (This person does not need to know you well, they just need to be willing to be the go-between between you and the person sending to you. If you have nobody to ask, post to the event hashtag and ask for a volunteer.)

Things to Do:

  • Please send your digital, mixed, or curated box by Monday, July 27th at the absolute latest.
  • Once you’ve sent all of your gifts, please email us (ChristmasInJulyExchange@gmail.com) any pertinent information. This can include tracking numbers, screenshots of online orders, etc. We just want proof of purchase/sending to ensure that if things get lost we know you fulfilled your commitment. Please send just one email with ALL gift information.
  • Once you receive ALL your Christmas in July gifts, please email us to let us know! A simple, “I got my gifts and my sender wrote to me!” email is enough.
  • Be sure to thank your sender in some way, whether through social media or email.
  • Please utilize the event hashtag #GiftmasInJuly to ask questions, post hints, share in your shopping/gifting/receiving/sending process! Show us what you got! This makes the event so much fun!

 

Gift Giving Guidelines:

Please keep in mind that ARCs, swag, and shipping DO NOT count towards the monetary value of the gift

Due to everything going on in the world right now, please do not send homemade food items. Pre-packaged, store-bought foods are fine (and encouraged!). 

Be thoughtful! You don’t have to stick to a person’s wish list at all, but please pay attention to their questionnaire answers and send your recipient things you think they’d like.

Have so much fun shopping and spreading some holiday magic during this crazy time in the world!
Any questions? Ask in a comment below so you can help others. :)

The palm trees in the event logo were created by photographeeasia at Freepik.com. The rest of the design was created by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

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Top Ten Tuesday Link-up 5/25/20

Posted May 25, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 8 Comments

Welcome to TTT! I flaked this week… So sorry! Quarantine brain, I suppose. Anyway, the topic for the week is “Opening Lines” and you can interpret this any way you want. Best, favorite, funny, unique, shocking, gripping, lines that grabbed you immediately, etc. Sometimes I can throw together a post in 15-20 minutes when TTT slipped my mind, but this one takes a lot more thought than some. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to think! I’ve been VERY busy planning two fun things for this summer, though, so get excited about those and watch this blog over the next week!

Which books have particularly noteworthy opening lines?
And have you been plagued by quarantine brain any over the last two months?

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The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware | Book Review

Posted May 21, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 5 Comments

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware | Book ReviewThe Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
Published by Gallery/Scout Press on August 6, 2019
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 337
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
4 Stars

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

I really love books set in creepy buildings… and I love them even more if isolation is thrown into the mix, so The Turn of the Key had my name written all over it. And Riley Sager, author of my favorite creepy building book: Lock Every Door, recommended it to me when I reached out on twitter so I was EXCITED. And I was so engrossed. I quickly became very addicted to the story and could not stop myself from reading long into the wee hours of the night.

What I Liked:

  • I listened to the audio, and Imogen Church is an amazing narrator.
  • Ruth Ware is SO GOOD at the atmospheric, suspenseful feelings. This book is eerie and dark and tense in a very subtle way that works itself into your very being. I’d read about a creepy sound and then feel sure I’d just heard that sound in my own house. I was afraid to run across the hall to go to the bathroom at 2 AM. I wouldn’t say the book is scary, it’s just got this underlying sense of foreboding like anything could happen at any moment.
  • The Turn of the Key is written as a letter from Rowan to a solicitor she hopes will represent her in her murder trial. I enjoyed reading a book in this format, and felt it brought some added intrigue to the situation. Rowan is currently in prison for murdering one of the girls in her care, but she swears she’s innocent. I loved unraveling her story and trying to figure out what really happened. 
  • The setting was exactly what I hoped it would be. I was so creeped out and uncomfortable reading about this isolated smart home with cameras and voice controlled everything (and I mean everything). Lights turning on on their own, doors locking themselves on their own, secret locked doors with who knows what behind them, a do-I-trust-him-or-not groundskeeper who seems to be very nice but might actually be a serial killer. I was so unsure of everything.
  • During the day Rowan and the girls explore the grounds a little bit, and discover a bit of the house’s history. CREEPY. I’d love a prequel book to get the story of the original inhabitants of the house in more detail. 
  • All the previous nannies could not handle living in Heatherbrae House, and I really loved trying to figure out the mystery of why. This book was really one mystery within another, and I liked all the layers that gave me to work through. I was never bored.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • I feel like we never get a heroine who is strong and level-headed in a Ruth Ware book. Unreliable narrators are a Ware hallmark, it would seem, and sometimes I don’t love it. Rowan put herself into some pretty sucky situations and then didn’t trust herself enough to be able to handle them. She never stuck up for herself. She never put the bratty, misbehaving girls in their places. I got a bit annoyed at how spineless she was, and how quick she was to believe that’s she’s going insane instead of the victim of someone other than herself.
  • The ending is VERY unsatisfying. So much is left up in the air and, after everything I had gone through as a reader, I wanted more answers. Be prepared to Google for other readers’ theories or find someone to chat with when you’re done (I’m happy to DM on twitter if you need someone to listen to your theories or discuss things!).

Additional Thoughts:

  • I really want to read The Turn of the Screw by Henry James now and see what the original story is like!
  • Imogen Church has to mimic a creaking floor in her narration, and oh man. It gave me goosebumps.
  • I never, in a million years, would have guessed the ending. Ruth Ware always tricks me and I never get it right, so that’s obviously one of the main reasons I keep coming back for more! She’s a very entertaining storyteller and a great writer.

All in all, The Turn of the Key was creepy and atmospheric and so engrossing. The ending drove me insane and I still think about it all the time, but I guess that serves Ruth Ware well! She’s always marinating in the back of my head. I keep telling myself I need to stop reading her books because I always come away slightly frustrated, but perhaps that’s her goal. And… I know I’m going to read more of her books. lol. So great. More torture on the horizon for me!

4 Stars
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