Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rebound by Noelle August | Book Review + Giveaway

Posted February 26, 2015 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, New Adult / 2 Comments

Rebound by Noelle August | Book Review + GiveawayRebound by Noelle August
Series: Boomerang #2
Also in this series: Boomerang
Published by William Morrow on February 10, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
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4.5 Stars
Hooking up is only the beginning of the fun in this sexy and irresistible second installment of the thrilling New Adult series, Boomerang.

Adam Blackwood has it all. At twenty-two, he’s fabulously wealthy, Ryan Gosling-hot and at the top of the heap in the business world. His life is perfect, until a scandal from his past resurfaces and knocks the tech wunderkind down, throwing his company, Boomerang, a hook-up site for millennials, into chaos.

Three years ago, Adam married his high school love—and then lost her in a tragic accident. Now, the heartbreak and guilt he’s tried to bury with work and women begins to take over his life.

Alison Quick, the twenty-one-year-old daughter of a business tycoon—and the very ex-girlfriend of Boomerang’s former intern, Ethan—has a problem of her own. She’s got one chance to prove to her father that she deserves a place in his empire by grabbing control of Boomerang and taking Adam down.

But as Alison moves in on him, armed with a cadre of lawyers and accountants, she discovers there’s much more to Adam and Boomerang than meets the eye. Will earning her father’s approval come at the price of losing her first real love? It appears so, unless Adam can forgive her for wrecking his life and trying to steal his livelihood. But Alison hopes that old adage is right. Maybe love can conquer all.

I love Boomerang so much (see my review), and so I was very excited when I was approached to be a part of the blog tour for Rebound, the second book in the series. I’m pretty leery of new adult books because they tend to be all angsty, dramatic, and full of bad decisions and one-night stands. I absolutely love this series, though, so if you’re like me and avoid new adult as often as possible, give this series a shot! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I know everyone knows this already, but Noelle August is a pen name for an author duo including VERONICA ROSSI. I love her! And I am seriously so happy that she was the one who made me decide to read these books and give new adult a chance.

2. Rebound is FUN. It’s all about being sexy and exciting without the focus falling on sex and lust. There’s a pretty adorable scuba diving scene that had me swooning. Rebound is steam, tension, humor, and serious issues. These people are real and flawed, which is what I want in my characters!

3. Adam. Blackwood. BOY does he have a story. He’s the creator of Boomerang, and I loved learning more about him and his secrets. He’s got a hard exterior, not letting anyone in since his ex died. He has his friends, and that’s that. Alison makes him want to change and let someone new in, but it’s hard. However, it’s fun for us! I love watching him trust Alison more and more, connecting with her in ways he’s scared to with anyone else. MAN is he swoony. And sexy. LOVE Adam.

4. Alison is given a chance to redeem herself in this book, as many people are unhappy with her for what she did to Ethan. And she does! I really liked Alison. She’s tender (she saves and rehabilitates horses!), caring, and trying to fit in to her jerky father’s huge shoes. She has her flaws and insecurities as well. She’s made mistakes and she owns them.

5. I loved seeing the rest of the gang at Boomerang again! Mia makes an unfortunate return to us, but I still adore her. I was even happy to see Cookie again, and I’m not her biggest fan. It was like catching up with old friends.

6. The story is told in alternating viewpoints, going back and forth between Alison and Adam. I love it when an author (or in this case, authors) does this, but is has to be done right or things feel redundant. This was done RIGHT, and added so much to the dynamism of the story.

All in all, I loved Rebound. I’m not sure I loved it as much as I did Boomerang because, as we all know, our first loves hit us the hardest. But I loved returning to Boomerang and these characters, I loved seeing Adam and Alison figure things out, and I can’t wait for the next book, Bounce, which is all about Adam’s hilarious younger brother.

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Find Noelle August on Facebook and Twitter!

And be sure to follow the rest of the Rebound blog tour!

Gone Pecan 2/26/2015
Travels n Reads 2/26/2015
GenGen’s Book Blog 2/26/2015
Lustful Literature 2/26/2015
That Artsy Reader Girl 2/26/2015
Hiver & Cafe 2/26/2015
Reese’s Reviews 2/26/2015
Seeing Night Book Reviews 2/26/2015
Curling Up With a Good Book 2/26/2015
Avid Reader Musings 2/26/2015
Making it Happen 2/26/2015
FicWishes 2/26/2015
Book Angel Booktopia 2/27/2015
Cere’s Books World 2/27/2015
Chaotic Reader 2/27/2015
Milky Way of Books 2/28/2015


Love, Lucy by April Lindner | Book Review

Posted January 23, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 6 Comments

Love, Lucy by April Lindner | Book ReviewLove, Lucy by April Lindner
Published by Poppy on January 27, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (ALA)
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5 Stars
While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food...and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her "vacation flirtation." But just because summer is over doesn't mean Lucy and Jesse are over, too.

In this coming-of-age romance, April Lindner perfectly captures the highs and lows of a summer love that might just be meant to last beyond the season.

Love, Lucy is a glorious, wonderful, perfectly fabulous book. I seriously read this book in August, and I have not been able to figure out how to explain my love for it, but I have to!! There was not one thing I didn’t love, so I’m just going to make a little fangirl list of the best things about Love, Lucy before I push you off to buy yourself a copy.

– Love, Lucy took me right back to the magical city of Florence, Italy. Florence is one of my favorite places in the world, and April did it right. She made me want to go back again right now.

– Travel. Come on. Everyone knows that traveling makes you fall in love with the person that you are, and Love, Lucy had everything I could have ever wanted in a travel book.

– Not only is the book about travel, but it encourages travel. It’s an inspiring story that makes you want to make your traveling dreams come true, not to mention it makes you feel like you can do it. Lucy is just a young high school grad, but she did it. And you can too.

– In that same vein, this book is about a girl discovering who she is. I love those kinds of books.

– Lucy happens upon Jesse, a sexy street performer (a musician, holy swoon), and a flirtatious little love-ish thing starts. It’s a perfect romance. Jesse is perfection.

– Love, Lucy is happy. It made me happy. This is what books are supposed to do.

– I was so sad when it was over.

– I might love this more than I love Just One Day, which is a lot, so that’s saying something.

Basically, you need to read this. You need to, your mom needs to (my mom LOVED it), your best friend needs to. And then you all need to go to Florence together so you can see that the magic April Lindner speaks of is real. You need to meet and fall in love with Jesse, and you need to explore the city on the back of his moped. I wish I could go back and read it again for the first time.


A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall | Mini Book Review

Posted January 9, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 8 Comments

A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall | Mini Book ReviewA Little Something Different by Sandy Hall
Published by Swoon Reads on August 26, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 272
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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2 Stars
The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out.  But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship.

Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together....

Much like the title of the book says, A Little Something Different is definitely a unique read. I was very interested in the idea of 12 different viewpoints, but at the same time I was worried that with 12 people telling the story things would get a bit redundant and I’d never connect with anyone in the story. Sadly, that’s exactly what happened. Transitions between points of view were a bit choppy, and at times cheesy, considering two of the viewpoints are a squirrel and a bench (who talks a lot about butts…). These viewpoints did allow the two main characters to be alone, which would not have happened unless other characters hid in a bush or kept their ear to a door. So I can see why the author did this, I just did not love it.

I think the main reason this book and I did not click is that I’ve always been the kind of person who likes to see things rather than be told things. I would have much rather seen Gabe and Lea fall for each other rather than be told about it by people who did not even know them, like the bus driver and the teacher. I didn’t swoon because I wanted to be the one witnessing their interactions, not hearing about them from various flies on the wall. I also got bored spending an entire book reading about these two. Usually there’s secondary and tertiary plots in contemporary romance novels, but the romance was really the only story in this book.

A Little Something Different was a short, quick, unique story that, unfortunately, I just did not fall in love with. The ending was unsatisfying, and I was bored. I really loved the idea, and the synopsis sounded like a lot of fun… but in the end I realized it just wasn’t for me.


My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Various Authors | Book Review

Posted December 30, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 5 Comments

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Various Authors | Book ReviewMy True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Ally Carter, David Levithan, Gayle Forman, Holly Black, Jenny Han, Kelly Link, Kiersten White, Laini Taylor, Matt de la Peña, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins
Published by St Martin's Press on October 14, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Fantasy, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins.

My True Love Gave to Me was one of the most anticipated holiday reads of mine this season, and I was so excited to dive in and be enchanted. While I liked a few of the stories, I did not like this book as a whole as much as I expected. These are amazing authors, but sadly some of the stories did not wow me. My True Love Gave to Me is a mixed bag of stories ranging from contemporary to fantasy, with a little something for everyone. I don’t want to give too much away since each story is roughly 30 pages, so I’m just going to post my Goodreads status updates for each story. I will note that I might have enjoyed this book more if I had just read a story here and there, rather than trying to binge the whole thing over a few days.

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell
Rainbow’s story just massacred my feels! So swoony and perfect and the kind of story hopeless romantics dream of. This was my favorite story of the collection.

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link
Kelly Link’s story is odd and weird and magical, yet slightly creepy. My curiosity kept me going, and I ended up utterly captivated.

Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Peña
Matt de la Peña’s story was a tad boring, and I could have done without all the swear words and the cheating.

Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han
Jenny Han’s story is whimsical, and I enjoyed that it took place in Santa’s workshop at the North Pole, but there’s no resolution. It was too short.

It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins
Stephanie Perkins’s story was really cute. Love the idea of falling in love over Christmas trees and sexy voices.

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan
Didn’t like David Levithan’s story at all. I liked that we got to see Santa come to life for a little girl, but it was mostly boring.

Krampsuslaf by Holly Black
I did not finish Holly Black’s story. A couple pages into it, and I knew it was not the Christmas story for me. Demons, horns, and scrambling “Santa” to get “Satan” do not mean Christmas to me!

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman
Gayle Forman’s story had me excited because I’ve never read a Hanukkah story before, but I found myself bored. There were a few lovely moments, and some sweet quotes… But overall I felt meh and wanted to move on.

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McIntyre
Myra McIntyre’s story was whimsical, but took a little while to get into. I didn’t love it, but it was fun. I’m kind of a sucker for awkward romance as well. :)

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White
Loved kiersten White’s story! It’s magical and sweet and completely heartwarming. And I loved the focus on yummy comfort foods and cheesy Christmas decorations.

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter
I liked the idea of Ally Carter’s story, but it should not have been a short story. We needed more character development, more back story, and more believability. The resolution was way too far fetched and unlikely. If the story were longer, the author might have been able to pull it off.

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
I LOVED Laini Taylor’s story. It started out a little slow, but I loved the world and the pure magic. I also loved the beautiful descriptions and the writing style. Laini is super talented, and I would love an entire book devoted to the Dreamer. I wanted more.


The Heart of Christmas by Brenda Novak | Mini Book Review

Posted December 26, 2014 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

The Heart of Christmas by Brenda Novak | Mini Book ReviewThe Heart of Christmas by Brenda Novak
Series: Whiskey Creek #7
Published by Mira on October 28, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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2 Stars
Just call her Christmas Eve… 

Eve Harmon has always enjoyed Christmas, but this year it reminds her of everything she doesn't have. Almost all her friends are married now, and that's what Eve wants, too. Love. A husband and kids of her own. But the B and B she manages, and even Whiskey Creek, the small Gold Country town where she was born and raised, suddenly seem…confining.

Eve's worried that her future will simply be a reflection of her past. There's no one in the area she could even imagine as a husband, until a handsome stranger comes to town. Eve's definitely attracted to him, and he seems to have the same reaction to her. But his darkly mysterious past could ruin Eve's happily ever after, just when it finally seems within reach. And just when she's counting on the best Christmas of her life!

 

The Heart of Christmas was my first experience with the Whiskey Creek series by Brenda Novak, and I was happy to see that it read as a standalone. I’m intrigued by the stories of some of the other characters in this book, though, so I’m definitely going to look in to the rest of the series! I’m very mixed on my review of this book, so it has been hard to gather my thoughts together in a way that makes sense to me.

I’m a huge fan of small towns where everyone knows everyone, and you feel safe and loved. That’s exactly what the town of Whiskey Creek is like. And that aspect of the book is one of the few things I actually liked, sadly. I loved the atmosphere. I loved the Victorian Christmas at Eve’s B&B. But I did not love Eve. I can relate to her. I’m still single, the last single of my group of friends actually. It’s hard. But I don’t make bad decisions as a result, and I’ve never been excited about romances that bloom from drunken one night stands. I felt like I lost respect for both characters before I even got to know them. Of course, this opinion is obviously based on a personal set of morals and so I tried to not let my feelings taint my thoughts on the book. But… the fact that things escalated from a regretted one night stand to a slight tolerance on both their parts to a lustful friends with benefits, no strings attached thing to MY LIFE IS ALL ABOUT YOU so quickly I just had a hard time believing it. As such, the chemistry was not convincing and I didn’t really care if Eve and Rex ended up together or not.

Rex’s dark, mysterious past seemed too far-fetched. And the semi-mystery/suspense that resulted from it just did not work for me at all. I can see why the author chose to do this, but I felt like it turned the book into a story you would find in an over the top action movie. The ending itself was unsatisfying because the loose ends are not all tied up, and you’re left with a few questions.

Basically, I was disappointed. Perhaps if I were a long-time lover of Whiskey Creek I might have ended up loving this book. While it did read as a standalone, I did not come into it with the love of the series that many people probably did. Maybe this was not the best book to start out the series with, as I’ve heard it’s not as good as some of the earlier titles. I’ve liked Brenda Novak’s historicals, so I’m going to give this series another shot.


Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan | Book Review

Posted December 10, 2014 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan | Book ReviewMaybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan
Series: O'Neil Brothers #3
Also in this series: Suddenly Last Summer, Sleigh Bells in the Snow
Published by Harlequin on October 28, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4.5 Stars
This winter, ex-skiing champion, reformed heartbreaker and single dad Tyler O'Neil has only one mission—making sure his daughter, Jess, has the best Christmas ever. The fact that his best friend, Brenna, is also temporarily moving into his chalet at the overbooked Snow Crystal resort is a delicious distraction he's simply going to have to ignore. Theirs is the one relationship he's never ruined, and he's not about to start now.

Ski pro Brenna Daniels knows all about the perils of unrequited love—she's been in love with Tyler for years. But living with him is absolute torture…how can she concentrate on being his friend when he's sleeping in the room next door? Then when Tyler kisses Brenna, suddenly the relationship she's always dreamed of feels so close she could almost touch it. Could this be the Christmas her dreams of a happy-ever-after finally come true?

I have really enjoyed the O’Neil Brothers trilogy, so I was excited to read the final installment about the final brother. I love the Snow Crystal resort in Vermont, especially during Christmastime! It was so nice to go back and visit. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Things started out a little slowly for me. I felt like everyone kept saying the same things over and over again. Brenna kept talking about how she and Tyler could never be because he treats her like one of the guys and thinks of her only as a friend. Tyler kept talking to himself and his brothers about how he and Brenna are such good friends and he does not want to ruin it. Everyone else kept discussing Tyler and Brenna with one another. Even Jess, Tyler’s daughter, can’t stop talking about those two. The main idea for a huge portion of the book was: Brenna and Tyler are friends but wish it were more. I actually skimmed a few passages because I felt like I’d already read it before.

2. Things definitely picked up about halfway through. Brenna goes on a date with the local police chief, and it was hilarious to read about Tyler’s jealousy (apparently his jealousy surprised him!) and his efforts to get Brenna to wear more clothes and snow boots instead of stilettos. I also enjoyed Tyler’s banter with Jess. They have a sweet father/daughter relationship, yet Jess seems to be raising him instead of the other way around. The fact that I love these characters so much helped me swim through the more redundant parts of the book.

3. Like I said, I love Snow Crystal. I love Sarah Morgan’s descriptions of the resort, the snow, the scenery. Everything felt so magical to me!

4. I have always loved reading about friends who fall in love with one another. I just wish the romance took up more of the book. We spend so much time reading about their friendship and how it can be nothing more, that by the time the romance blooms everything escalates too quickly and is resolved too quickly. While I usually believe stories like this, I had a hard time believing it this time. It almost felt like insta-love, even though they have known each other for 20+ years.

5. When the romance did happen, it was super swoony and sweet.

6. I loved catching up with old friends. Kayla, Jackson, Sean, Elise, Elizabeth, Jess, etc. are there and we get to see how their lives have progressed (although we never really saw any interaction between Sean and Elise.).

All in all, I did really enjoy this story despite my few complaints. Christmas books make me so happy, and I love them. Sarah writes very pretty descriptions, and she writes characters you love. I will miss the O’Neil family and the Snow Crystal. I’d love it if Sarah wrote a follow-up in a few years so we can visit again and see what everyone’s up to! Babies? Jess’s wedding? There’s so many possibilities. Definitely read this if you love the O’Neil family. Kayla and Jackson’s story is still my favorite, but I’m glad Tyler and Brenna finally got their happily ever after.


Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham | Mini Book Review

Posted December 5, 2014 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham | Mini Book ReviewMine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham
Published by Carina Press on December 5, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 77
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
Thanks to a transatlantic house swap, California girl Ashley Turner is finally going to fulfill her lifelong dream of a proper English Christmas. Her holiday plans did not include a sexy stranger climbing into her borrowed bed in the middle of the night. But in the light of day, Ashley can't help but wonder if Santa has delivered early...

Game designer Oliver Stansfeld can't wait to leave dreary London—and all its difficult holiday memories—for sunny San Diego. But a freak ice storm and a grounded plane have forced him back to his already-occupied flat. To make up for the mix-up, the least he can do is show his pretty houseguest where to get the perfect Christmas tree before he leaves.

The more time they spend together, the more their attraction grows, and soon Ashley is tempting Oliver to give in to the spirit of the season and snuggle up for the rest of the winter. As the ice melts and flights start taking off again, he must choose between giving in to the past or risking his heart on a chance at love.

Doesn’t this book sound a little like The Holiday? That is one glorious movie and my favorite movie ever, so I was super excited when I found out that this book is about a transatlantic house swap! Even better, a man and a woman are swapping. And even BETTER, the airport gets shut down and she makes it to his London home… but he does not make it to her California home. SO… they have to both stay at his house. I mean, come on. How could you not want to read about this? It sounds super romantic, not to mention an accident waiting to happen! House swapping sounds like one of the coolest adventures ever, but I think I’d be a nervous wreck having a stranger living in my house. Anyways…

Ashley and Oliver are both looking for something. Growing up in poverty, Ashley has never had a real Christmas. And Oliver is looking for a way to survive the pain Christmas brings him. Neither of them were entirely happy to discover they would be sharing a home until Oliver could fly out to California, but they decide to make the best of it after an awkward encounter when Oliver enters his dark room and falls into bed… right on top of Ashley. Oops! She smacks him in his happy place, and he falls to the ground, naked and in pain. And that’s how their love story begins.

Oliver feels for Ashley and her strong desire for a beautiful Christmas, so he takes her shopping for a tree, takes care of her when she slips and falls on the ice, watches her decorate her tree, and enjoys her peppermint hot chocolate. I love the tension and the romance that grows from the bud of friendship. They confide in one another and share their stories, bonding over their sad memories and hope for a better future. I don’t like sad books at all, so I was happy to discover that the book did not feel sad for me. I just felt hope for them and excitement over the possibilities of their love story.

I really enjoyed this sweet, quick Christmas read and would recommend it to people who love The Holiday! While I think the movie is better, this book will make you smile and remind you that the most important part of Christmas is having someone special to share it with.

 


Mistletoe and Mr. Right by Lyla Payne | Mini Book Review

Posted December 3, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, New Adult / 5 Comments

Mistletoe and Mr. Right by Lyla Payne | Mini Book ReviewMistletoe and Mr. Right by Lyla Payne
Published by Bloomsbury Spark on November 20, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 150
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring…but lust refused to settle in for a long winter's nap.
She might be all nestled, snug in her bed, by why, oh why, do visions of the wrong guy dance in her head?


Jessica, (not Jessie), figures that nothing could be better than a trip to the Emerald Isle for Christmas break. So she takes a flying leap and follows her boyfriend home for the holidays, not only sure that he will finally agree they're destined for each other, but also that Ireland will provide the perfect backdrop to the beginning of their happily-ever-after.

But it turns out his family--and his gorgeous ex-girlfriend--don't feel the same way, and even the family goat seems to be conspiring against her well-laid plans. The only person making the trip worthwhile is the very last one she should be thinking about, but Grady, the local farmhand, has a way of showing up when Jessica needs him most...and least.

USA Today bestselling author Lyla Payne wraps up the perfect holiday novella, ties it with a ribbon of romance, and tops it with a light dusting of snow. Perfect to curl up with under the tree. Just add hot cocoa!

Mistletoe and Mr. Right was a great way to kick off my holiday season of reading! I was particularly excited when I found out it takes place in Ireland, and Lyla Payne really did a wonderful job with the setting. It felt magical and quintessentially Irish. The characters were charming, and I could just hear their beautiful Irish accents as I read their exchanges. I loved the bed and breakfast that Jessica’s boyfriend’s parents owned, and I loved the snow and the decorations. I could just smell the Christmas treats baking in the oven.

My favorite part of the story was the very beginning. I commiserated with Jessica’s long and eventful travel time. Transatlantic flights are not fun at all, plus then she had to drive the snowy roads on the wrong side of the car and the wrong side of the road… and almost killed the family’s beloved goat. There she is, wet and cold, standing in the dark looking for the goat she hit and up comes the sexy farmhand, Grady. I loved this guy, and I loved him so much more than Jessica’s stuffy boyfriend, Brennan. I did love Brennan’s family, though. They were such characters, and I laughed at their antics several times. I’d love to be a fly on their wall during their Christmas dinner.

The writing was kind of dramatic, but I tend to allow so many things I don’t usually allow when it comes to Christmas books. It read like a super cheesy Hallmark movie, but I get all sappy and cheesy during the holidays so I didn’t even care. Things are a bit predictable and formulaic, but I came away happy and satisfied and ready for Christmas!


How to Love by Katie Cotugno | Mini Book Review

Posted September 3, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 1 Comment

How to Love by Katie Cotugno | Mini Book ReviewHow to Love by Katie Cotugno
Published by Balzer + Bray on October 1, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Pages: 389
Format: ARC
Source: Gift
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
Before: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he's never seemed to notice that Reena even exists until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated-and pregnant-Reena behind.

After: Almost three years have passed, and there's a new love in Reena's life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena's gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she's finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn't want anything to do with him, though she'd be lying if she said Sawyer's being back wasn't stirring something in her. After everything that's happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?

I was really not expecting to like a book whose focus was on teen pregnancy, so I was pretty surprised by how much I enjoyed How to Love! Katie Cotugno did a great job realistically portraying the situation and aftermath of teen pregnancy,  not to mention she threw in lot of other plot elements that made the story more dynamic and interesting to read. I liked her decision to tell the story from two perspectives: before Sawyer and after Sawyer. We learn all about his and Reena’s tumultuous relationship, and how Reena handled raising a baby alone after Sawyer disappeared from her life.

I had a super hard time liking Sawyer, which is probably why this book did not receive a higher rating from me. He was an absolutely horrible person to Reena during their relationship, and then he just disappeared. It helps that he left without knowing Reena was pregnant, but he could have stepped up more when he found out he had a child. As the years passed he improved his life some, but he just never convinced me that he was a good person.

Reena is a very likeable character, and I think this was because of the maturity she quickly developed when she became a teenage single mom. I love her relationship with her daughter, how she has grown and changed because of this daughter, and how she is level-headed enough to know she made mistakes in the past too.

The writing is also done very well, and was probably the main reason I enjoyed the story. I liked the way Katie Cotugno portrayed the feelings and emotions of the characters, and I enjoyed her account of the encounters that went down between Reena and her family, as well as Reena and Sawyer. While the book did not blow me away like it did some of my blogging friends, I did appreciate such an honest and realistic portrayal of such a sensitive subject not usually tackled in YA literature. I think that many people will be able to relate to Reena’s situation, or at least realize they have felt some of the same feelings in their own familial and romantic relationships. I have a feeling Katie Cotugno is going to quickly become a big name on the young adult scene.


Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn | Book Review

Posted August 14, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 3 Comments

Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn | Book ReviewBroken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn
Series: Broken Hearts & Revenge #1
Published by Feiwel and Friends on May 13, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 339
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
1.5 Stars
Hot sun. Blue waves. New romances. Old secrets.

Gemma had her summer all planned out, but it takes a sharp turn when she gets dumped and finds herself back in the Hamptons after a five-year absence.

Being there puts her at risk of bumping into Hallie, her former best friends (that is, before Gemma ruined her life). But people don't hold grudges forever. Do they?

Gemma intends on making amends, but a small case of mistaken identity causes the people she knew years ago—including Hallie and her dreamy brother, Josh—to believe she's someone else. As though the summer wasn't complicated enough already.

Filled with summer sun, boys, and friendships gone sour, Katie Finn's first novel in the Broken Hearts and Revenge series sizzles and delights.

I was very excited to read Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend, because I was expecting a fun summer romance in the Hamptons. I knew Katie Finn was a pen name for Morgan Matson, and since I had not read any of Morgan’s books I was looking forward to seeing what kind of an author she is. Sadly, this book was not at all what I was hoping for. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. We’ve got Gemma, a 16-year-old girl who has been haunted by the fact that she literally ruined the life of her best friend, Hallie, and Hallie’s family when she was 11 years old. Oh. My. Gosh. When I say ruined, I mean RUINED. When I heard the story of what Gemma selfishly did this poor family, I lost all respect for her and never gained it back. Some might argue that she was just a kid, but she was not 5 or 6. She was 11. She totally knew what she was doing and the ramifications behind it.

She runs into Hallie and Hallie’s brother, Josh (who she had no idea was Hallie’s brother–seriously?), during a return trip to the Hamptons and decides to lie about who she is in order to “make amends”. I’m sorry, but in what universe does lying about who you are and lulling your friends into a false sense of security before dropping the bomb on them that you’re the life ruiner equal making amends and living happily ever after? How can anyone in their right mind think this is going to work? So, Gemma becomes Sophie for the summer and becomes besties with Hallie and a love interest for the romantically scarred Josh. My mind is screaming at this point.

2. I can’t like a book character who continually lies. Sophie’s (Gemma’s) cover is almost blown multiple times, and I kept wishing it would be. I wanted her to be caught in her lies because I just could not stand how she was manipulating and lying to two people she claimed to care about. I kept hoping she would grow up, buck up, and fess up. But she kept weaving this hugely tangled web of lies that became way too much.

3. I kept thinking that the entire story was extremely childish and immature. I felt too old for the story. I rarely feel this way with YA books because I can almost always find something to relate to, either from my younger years or my current life situations. I just could not this time, and that was disappointing.

4. Obviously, I did not connect with Gemma/Sophie, but I did not connect with anyone. I liked Josh and thought he was way too good to be mixed up in all this. But I was never privy to what he was feeling or thinking. I liked Hallie ok, but never trusted her. Maybe all the lies prevented connections, but that’s not a good thing.

5. The only redeeming part of the book was Gemma’s dad’s boss, Bruce. Bruce is hilarious. He’s trying to lose weight in really weird ways, yet sneaks junk food when his helpful assistant is not paying attention. I really, really liked him, and he brought a lot of humor to the story that needed to be there.

6. I had the ending pegged from the beginning. I’m very surprised that Gemma didn’t.

7. The ending was one of the worst, most frustrating endings I’ve read and left me mad at every character.

8. There was NO resolution whatsoever. I have no problems with trilogies, but when the first book ends having given me absolutely nothing, it leaves me with very little motivation to continue on to book 2.

All in all, the shenanigans that ensued as a result of Gemma’s lies were funny, but only because they were so absurd and a touch infuriating that I had to laugh. I was hoping for so much more from this book, with its cute cover and a synopsis that screamed summer fun. I’m come away with the realization that I like reading about nice characters, not characters who lie, plot revenge, and hurt other people. If you’re looking for a light summer read, I would suggest looking in to some other titles. I’m still very interested in Morgan Matson’s books, but will most likely pass on other Katie Finn books.

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