Genre: Contemporary


The Witness by Nora Roberts | Book Review

August 7, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 3

The Witness by Nora Roberts | Book ReviewThe Witness by Nora Roberts
Published by Penguin on April 17, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 492
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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1 Stars
Daughter of a controlling mother, Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking at a nightclub and allowing a strange man’s seductive Russian accent lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. The events that followed changed her life forever.

Twelve years later, the woman known as Abigail Lowery lives on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance programmer, she designs sophisticated security  systems—and supplements her own security with a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing. But Abigail’s reserve only intrigues police chief Brooks Gleason. Her logical mind, her secretive nature, and her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something—and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.

With a quirky, unforgettable heroine and a pulse-pounding plotline, Nora Roberts presents a riveting new read that cements her place as today’s most reliably entertaining thriller
author—and will leave people hungering for more.

All I can really say about this book is, “Well… crap.” I love romantic suspense, and I’ve been really hunting for good titles all summer. I found a list of the best romantic suspense books, and this one was rated pretty highly and voted on by like 78 people. It’s got a 4.18 star rating average on Goodreads, with over 49,000 ratings, so I thought I was golden! But guys. This is not romantic suspense! It was hardly romantic, and it was not at all suspenseful. It was a huge disappointment. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. Things start out very interesting, and I was definitely intrigued. The book begins with Elizabeth rebelling against her mother and making huge changes to her life. She cuts her hair, gets a new wardrobe, decides to change her educational and career path, and uses her own homemade fake ID to get into a very exclusive nightclub owned by some very dangerous men. These men set their sights on Liz and her friend, lure them back to an isolated home on the water, and all Hell breaks loose. Liz barely survives, gets put into witness protection, and all Hell breaks loose again. This girl has some pretty terrible luck.

2. Then… we shoot to 12 years later. And I realize rather quickly that I do not like Liz, now Abigail, at ALL. She’s very smart and independent, which is great. But she has no personality. She has isolated herself ever since the events of her youth, and she does not know how to socialize. She has no sense of humor, no emotions, no feelings. She’s very analytical and scientific about things that are neither. And of course I can understand this, given everything she has been through, but she just was not an interesting character to read about at all. I could not connect with her in any sort of way.

3. Brooks is a horrible main character/love interest. Of all the people to un-isolate yourself for and try to connect with, Abigail chose HIM!? Is she just trying to make her life suck more? He pursued and bugged her so much, pushing himself into her life when she so clearly had no interest in having him there. It bothered me so much that he refused to take no for an answer. And then when she wouldn’t let him in, he went and started researching her to try and figure out what she was hiding. Because there just HAD to be a reason for her to not want him around other than he fact that he sucks, right? Because what woman wouldn’t want him?

Brooks is also incredibly condescending and chauvinistic. For example, there is one moment when he pulls Abigail to her feet and demands respect. Then, he tells her she’s insulting him for being concerned that he might not love her if he knew the truth about her past. This woman does not know how to love, she has never been loved or loved anyone in her life and he was SO rude in the face of her legitimate concerns. When she said she was sorry, he said, “Good. You should be.” Then he “yanked” her in for a kiss. In what universe is this romantic? He also has a super dirty mouth and treats Abigail with such clear disrespect. She is his possession. I mean, for goodness SAKES. How many times did I read him refer to Abigail out loud as “my lady”, “my woman”, “my girl”. Grrr!

4. Insta-love. On steroids. You’ve got this awful, pushy man pursuing an extreme recluse who has like a million guns within her reach at all times and a dog that sounds about as big and fierce as a direwolf, yet… she has almost no issue with inviting him in to her place for food and wine and sex. Like… what is happening?? All Abigail’s credibility of being smart and protective of herself went right out the window when she became putty in his hands after a couple days of being talked into not pushing him away. I really felt like Brooks saw Abigail as a challenge to be conquered. A Game to be won. And instead of trying to win the game herself, she just threw in the towel because he’s a big strong man who says nice things to her. UGH.

5. It was SO BORING. By 50%, nothing had happened. There were just so many needless details, many of which were repeated over and over again. Something happens to Brooks at work, we read all about it, and then we read all about it again when he goes home and tells Abigail. We read every. Grueling. Detail again. This book is way too long. For this reason. Just tell the story and get it over with.

6. The writing was annoyingly choppy. It was filled with sentences much like: “Abigail went to the computer, checked her email.” Or “Brooks got in his car, turned it on.” Like, where are the nice, flowing sentences? I almost quit after the first few pages when I saw how often this was happening, but then it got better. And then it got worse. So the author isn’t even being consistent here!

7. The entire story was just so thin. Abigail had been keeping tabs on the bad guys during the last 12 years and anonymously feeding info about them to the FBI to try and take down their crime ring. Finally, she decides she needs to not be anonymous anymore and then everything seamlessly works out. There’s no crazy climax, no suspenseful moment at the end. Just court appearances. Can you hear my eyes rolling? I’m so annoyed I hung in there in the hopes of getting a great moment and it was just easy. I mean, I dealt with pages and pages of hearing the same mindless info about what it’s like to be a police captain. I got to read about everything that happened to Brooks when it happened and then again when he told Abigail about it. But I couldn’t get a satisfying ending as a reward for hanging in there?

So, I guess I’ve got a pretty unpopular opinion here, but I just don’t see any redeeming qualities about this book. The plot was thin, the story was implausible, the characters were awful, and the writing was crappy. Why didn’t I DNF? I’m wondering the same thing. And honestly, I have no idea. It probably had something to do with the fact that it’s NORA ROBERTS and I was giving her too much credit.


Beautiful Storm by Barbara Freethy | DNF Book Thoughts

May 23, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 2 DNF

Beautiful Storm by Barbara Freethy | DNF Book ThoughtsBeautiful Storm by Barbara Freethy
Series: Lightning Strikes #1
Published by Hyde Street Press on October 1, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Mystery, Romance, Romantic Suspense, Suspense
Pages: 321
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
Amazon Add to Goodreads
DNF Stars
When her father's plane mysteriously disappeared in the middle of an electrical storm, Alicia Monroe became obsessed with lightning. Now a news photographer in Miami, Alicia covers local stories by day and chases storms at night. In a flash of lightning, she sees what appears to be a murder, but when she gets to the scene, there is no body, only a military tag belonging to Liliana Valdez, a woman who has been missing for over a year. While the police use the tag to jumpstart their stalled investigation, Alicia sets off on her own to find the missing woman. Her search takes her into the heart of Miami's Cuban-American community where she meets the attractive but brooding Michael Cordero, who has his own demons to vanquish. Soon Alicia and Michael are not just trying to save Liliana's life but also their own, as someone will do anything to protect a dark secret…

So… There are TONS of Barbara Freethy books out there and I’ve always been intrigued. Many of the story lines sound good, and I’ve collected her titles as I’ve seen them show up for free on Amazon. I had a hankering for a little romantic suspense and was eager to finally see if Freethy is an author for me. And… nope. She’s not.

The mysticism of the lightning was just a bit too over the top for me. The lightning calls Alicia to it because it wants to show her something? No… And I did not like the relationship between the two main characters. Plus, how dumb is Alicia? Michael is a person of interest in this case. He’s a suspect with a troubled past and a reputation. She has known him for a few hours and all of a sudden wants to shove herself into his life and his family to try and find his missing friend. She FLIES with him to Texas and stays in an ADJOINING ROOM after knowing him for like 12 hours. WHAT. She also has no problems at all voicing her opinions to his family and his friend’s family about things she has no right knowing about, much less has the ability to know about. She’s been a part of this case for a few HOURS and does not know anyone involved. They have been grieving and searching for MONTHS and have known the missing person and the people involved for lifetimes. So all because Alicia found a military ID in a park, she knows everything about the case? There was also some major instalove/lust going on that I was not on board with.

The dialogue was cringeworthy. Almost everything anyone said to anyone included their name. It kind of went like this:

“Alicia, aren’t you happy we know each other?”
“Yes, Michael, I am.”
“Mother, are you happy that Michael and I know each other?”
“Yes, Alicia, I am.”
“Oh, Alicia, I am so glad that your mother is happy we know each other.”
“I am too, Michael.”

Like… I went through and started counting the number of names used in the dialogue on each page and it was just awful! That’s not how people talk to one another, and I felt like the author legitimately thought that we were too dumb to follow the dialogue on our own so she used all the names to try and make sure we knew who was talking to whom.

The mystery itself was very boring and slow and I started skimming because I was mildly curious about what happened. But by about 60% my curiosity has been killed and I threw in the towel.

So basically, this was a complete and total flop. It was horrible. Maybe now I know why Freethy books are in abundance and I can almost always find one for free or very cheap… At least now I know.


The Christmas Cabin by J.L. Jarvis | Book Review

December 21, 2016 Adult Fiction, Book Review 1 ★★★★

The Christmas Cabin by J.L. Jarvis | Book ReviewThe Christmas Cabin by J.L. Jarvis
Published by Bookbinder Press on November 1, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 206
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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4 Stars
Lawyer Abbie Harper rents a cabin for her own perfect Christmas. On Christmas Eve, she leaves the stress of her New York job and drives to the mountains, settling in for seven glorious days of peace on earth and good will toward men—so long as they steer clear of her.

Forest Ranger Jack Whelan is no good at relationships. He manages just fine by holding fast to one rule: Don’t let anyone get close. Then Abbie Harper rents his cabin. As a light snow falls, the furnace breaks down, and Jack is called in for repairs. When the storm picks up, they’re stranded together, turning their ordered lives upside down like a snow globe.

Two snowbound strangers who think they know what they want will find out what they need—at The Christmas Cabin.

I don’t know why, but I LOVE stories that include two people being snowbound together in some remote location. I love it even more if it takes place during Christmas. Abbie’s job is taking over her life, so she decides to rent a cabin in the mountains to get away from it all. She brings enough food, Christmas movies, and an ereader full of good books (my kind of girl) with the plan of relaxing and enjoying the snow and scenic views. When she arrives she finds that the heat is not working and has to contact the owner of the cabin (multiple times) to come fix it. What starts out as a strictly business-type relationship quickly gets friendly as the snow falls and Jack is unable to leave the cabin. He takes the couch, she the bed, and the magic begins.

I liked both characters a lot, but Jack was definitely my favorite. He’s sweet, gentlemanly, giving (he saves people for a living), and romantic. Abbie is quirky enough to grab a tree branch from outside, stick it in a jar of water, and use it as her Christmas tree. She’s got this terribly irrational fear of dogs (the coyote howls in the distance render her practically immovable), but Jack is understanding and accommodating. He brings her earplugs, the cutie, and then freaks out when he knocks on the door and she doesn’t answer. Surely she must be dead. They form this really sweet, caring relationship that I just loved. And YAY all sexytimes happen behind doors, which I really appreciate in a Christmas romance.

I loved the writing. The author wrote some amazingly festive and beautiful Christmas scenes, and really got me into the Christmas spirit. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a quick, happy holiday romance!


One Snowy Night by Jill Shalvis | Book Review

December 17, 2016 Adult Fiction, Book Review 0 ★★★

One Snowy Night by Jill Shalvis | Book ReviewOne Snowy Night by Jill Shalvis
Series: Heartbreaker Bay #2.5
Published by Avon Impulse on November 8, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 160
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
It’s Christmas Eve and Rory Andrews is desperate to get home to the family she hasn’t seen in years. Problem is, her only ride to Lake Tahoe comes in the form of the annoyingly handsome Max Stranton, and his big, goofy, lovable dog Carl.

Hours stuck in a truck with the dead sexy Max sounds like a fate worse than death (not), but Rory’s out of options. She’s had a crush on Max since high school and she knows he’s attracted to her, too. But they have history… and Max is the only one who knows why it went south.

They’ve done a good job of ignoring their chemistry so far, but a long road trip in a massive blizzard might be just what they need to face their past… and one steamy, snowy night is all it takes to bring Max and Rory together at last.

I love those romances where the love interests knew each other as kids (and usually hated each other) and then are brought back together by the craziness of life. I also love it when blizzards act as matchmakers and force people to develop deep bonds. And I love animals that seem to thrive when people fall in love around them. This is One Snowy Night in a nutshell, and I really enjoyed it! I was expecting it to be longer, though. The book file told me I had about 40% of the book left and BAM, it ended and gave us previews of other books by Jill (so no, this novella was not 160 pages and if I had bought it I would have felt seriously cheated). I was looking forward to more details and romance… I did feel like things were resolved super quickly, but I had so much fun with the romance and the festiveness and the small story that I did get. I liked Rory and Max individually and together, and I liked their heavier back stories and those resolutions (although Max’s grudge against Rory was silly and unfounded, so he did bug me some…). Was the romance a little fast-moving to feel realistic? Yes. But I tend to be lenient with Christmas romances so it’s ok.

This novella was my first taste of the Heartbreaker Bay series and my second Jill Shalvis book, the first of which was also a Christmas novella. I’ve decided that I like Jill and her characters, but I think I need to read her full length novels. I think they are probably stronger and more developed.


Under the Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis | Book Review

December 13, 2016 Adult Fiction, Book Review 0 ★★★★½

Under the Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis | Book ReviewUnder the Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis
Series: Lucky Harbor #6.5
Published by Forever Yours on December 4, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 80
Format: eARC
Source: Bought from Amazon
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4.5 Stars
JUST ONE MORE KISS

There's no place like home for the holidays. And the Lucky Harbor Bed & Breakfast is bursting with festive lights and good cheer. But for Mia, Christmas is turning out to be anything other than merry and bright. Her recent break-up with her boyfriend Nick has made her return bittersweet. But then a surprise arrives, when Nick follows her to town bearing gifts-and asking for forgiveness.

Nick grew up without a family of his own so he's overwhelmed by the love that Mia receives from all her relatives, gathered together to celebrate the season. Under their watchful eyes, Nick finds earning back her trust the hardest thing he's ever had to do. If he succeeds, he will receive the greatest gift of all, Mia's love for a lifetime.

Can you believe this is my first Jill Shalvis book? I own SO many of her titles, but this is the first one I’ve read and I really loved it! It’s short and romantic… just what I need during this time of year when I want quick doses of Christmas cheer.

While this book can stand on its own, it takes place after the 6th book in the Lucky Harbor series. As much as I enjoyed it I’m pretty sure I would have loved it even more if I had read the first 6 books in the series already. I wasn’t confused or anything, and everything made sense… but it’s kind of like coming in to the school year mid-way through after all the friendships and routines have been set. I felt like I should have known these people better. The good thing, though, is that I love Lucky Harbor and I’m even more eager to begin the series! This was a great way for me to see if I like Jill’s writing, characters, setting, and swoons… and I do!

I really liked Mia and Nick together… even though I didn’t like Nick in the beginning. When he turns up in Lucky Harbor to win her back, though, I couldn’t help but smile and watch him try. There were some funny moments, deep moments, and downright romantic moments all wrapped up with a festive bow on top. I won’t say anything more because this book is a tiny little thing and I don’t want to ruin it. If you’re looking for a sweet christmas story, a continuance of the Lucky Harbor series, or even an easy book to commit to in order to decide if Jill Shalvis is an author for you (like I did), this is a really great book to pick up! And even though it’s a really short story, it felt complete and fully developed to me. A very enjoyable read!


Jingle Bell Harbor by Tracy Brogan | Mini Book Review

December 5, 2016 Adult Fiction, Book Review 0 ★★★★

Jingle Bell Harbor by Tracy Brogan | Mini Book ReviewJingle Bell Harbor by Tracy Brogan
Series: Bell Harbor #3.5
Published by Montlake Romance on October 20, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 111
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
As assistant buyer for the world’s second-largest Christmas store, Kelsey Parker feels like a holiday harlot. She’s contractually obligated to promote the yuletide season. All. Year. Long. And it’s taking a toll on her spirit. But when her clueless, self-absorbed boyfriend goes on their long-anticipated romantic vacation—without her!—Kelsey is beyond disappointed to find herself tromping through the Bell Harbor snow instead of lounging on a tropical beach.

Drew Hampton is considered quite a catch among the Bell Harbor bachelorettes, but when his high school dream girl, Kelsey Parker, shows up at his grandfather’s Christmas tree lot complaining about her love life, he decides it’s long past time to get her under the mistletoe himself.

As things heat up between the two, a surprise visitor arrives, making Kelsey an offer she can’t quite believe. Now she must decide what matters most, and she just may discover the key to her happiness.

This is a sweet, funny Christmas novella that’s perfect for getting you into the holiday spirit! I’ve not read any of the other Bell Harbor books, and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. There’s not a lot to say about it because it’s such a short book, at jut over 100 pages. I read it in one sitting and had so much fun with the characters (Drew gives me heart eyes), the holiday festivities, the swoons, and the setting. The story did not feel rushed or compressed in order to fit into a novella. I loved Tracy’s writing and bought the rest of the Bell Harbor series because this one was so much fun. I can’t wait to read them! Consider this my seal of approval. If you’re looking for a magical dose of Christmas cheer, pick up this little gem and prepare to smile!

SnowflakeDivider

Shutter by Laurie Faria Stolarz | Mini Book Review (+ Giveaway)

October 19, 2016 Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult 1 ★★★

Shutter by Laurie Faria Stolarz | Mini Book Review (+ Giveaway)Shutter by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Published by Disney Hyperion on October 18, 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
AmazonBarnes & Noble Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
THE FACTS
• Julian Roman, age sixteen, is an escapee from the Fairmount County Juvenile Detention Facility.
• His parents, Michael Roman and Jennifer Roman, are dead.
• Julian is wanted for murder.

THE QUESTIONS
• Why is Julian Roman on the run?
• Just how dangerous is he?
• And who did kill Michael and Jennifer Roman, if not Julian?

Seventeen-year-old Day Baker views life through the lens of her camera, where perspective is everything. But photographs never tell the whole story. After Day crosses paths with Julian, the world she pictures and the truths she believes-neatly captured in black and white-begin to blur.

Julian is not the "armed and dangerous" escapee the police are searching for, but his alibis don't quite add up, either. There is more to his story. This time, Day is determined to see the entire picture . . . whatever it reveals. Did he? Or didn't he?

Day digs deeper into the case while Julian remains on the run. But the longer her list of facts becomes, the longer the list of questions becomes, too. It's also getting harder to deny the chemistry she feels for him. Is it real? Or is she being manipulated?

Day is close to finding the crack in the case. She just needs time to focus before the shutter snaps shut.

Laurie Faria Stolarz is a master of suspense and romance. In this page-turning thriller, Stolarz tackles dark truths with a powerful, contemporary voice. Shutter will keep readers guessing until the very end.

Welcome to my stop along the Shutter blog tour, hosted by the Irish Banana Review! Doesn’t the book synopsis sound awesome? I was totally on board as soon as I read about it, as I love reading mystery-type books in October. Shutter takes place during the exact same time of year as I read it, which I thought was a lot of fun. It got me so excited for fall and colder weather. I love this time of year, and the author did a great job of really capturing the season.

I liked Day a lot. Her obsession with photography was unique and fun to read about. I saw a lot of myself in her. I’ve always had an artistic outlet in my life, so I understood her passion and desire to always keep it close to her heart. I also understood her desire to help Julian. I would have wanted to do the same thing, especially since Julian is such a nice guy. I actually found him to be more interesting to read about, though. The chapters alternate between Day’s narration and Julian’s journal entries, and I liked getting more insight into Julian’s past and how he got to where he was even though some of it was very heartbreaking. He had a horrible family life as a child, and I really felt for him.

The story itself was very interesting, but not as mystery/thrillery as I expected it to be. I wasn’t biting my nails or wishing I could sleep with the lights on. It was a slower, more controlled mystery. Day goes on a hunt for the truth while hiding Julian in her barn in the backyard. It enjoyed reading his story and what other people had to say about him. His story never quite added up, so I wasn’t really sure I could trust him… and I wanted to slap Day for being SO trusting. He’s a wanted murder suspect! I could have done without the romance… I liked the story more before that happened, but it did add a complicated layer to things and that’s always entertaining. I was definitely eager to get to the end to see how everything turned out.

If you’re in the mood for a whodunit with a Nancy Drew-type detective, some heavier subject matter and a good dose of autumn, give this book a try!


About Laurie Faria Stolarz

Laurie Faria Stolarz grew up in Salem, MA, attended Merrimack College, and received an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College in Boston. 

Laurie Faria Stolarz is an American author of young adult fiction novels, best known for her Blue is for Nightmares series. Her works, which feature teenage protagonists, blend elements found in mystery and romance novels.

Stolarz found sales success with her first novel, Blue is for Nightmares, and followed it up with three more titles in the series, White is for Magic, Silver is for Secrets, and Red is for Remembrance, as well as a companion graphic novel, Black is for Beginnings. Stolarz is also the author of the Touch series (Deadly Little Secret, Deadly Little Lies, Deadly Little Games, Deadly Little Voices, and Deadly Little Lessons), as well as Bleed and Project 17. With more than two million books sold worldwide, Stolarz’s titles have been named on various awards list.

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Tour Schedule:

10/10: Pretty Deadly Reviews – Review
10/11: The Irish Banana Review – Q&A
10/12: A Writer Named Charley – Review
10/13: Novelgossip – Guest Post
10/14: The Worn Bookmark – Review
10/17: Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Review
10/18: Bibliobuli YA – Guest Post
10/19: That Artsy Reader Girl – Review
10/20: In Wonderland – Top 10
10/21: Stuck In Books – Review


738 Days by Stacey Kade | Mini Book Review

October 12, 2016 Book Review, New Adult 1 ★★★★

738 Days by Stacey Kade | Mini Book Review738 Days by Stacey Kade
Published by Forge Books on June 7, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
At fifteen, Amanda Grace was abducted on her way home from school. 738 days later, she escaped. Her 20/20 interview is what everyone remembers—Amanda describing the room where she was kept, the torn poster of TV heartthrob Chase Henry on the wall. It reminded her of home and gave her the strength to keep fighting.

Now, years later, Amanda is struggling to live normally. Her friends have gone on to college, while she battles PTSD. She’s not getting any better, and she fears that if something doesn’t change soon she never will.

Six years ago, Chase Henry defied astronomical odds, won a coveted role on a new TV show, and was elevated to super-stardom. With it, came drugs, alcohol, arrests, and crazy spending sprees. Now he's sober and a Hollywood pariah, washed up at twenty-four.

To revamp his image, Chase’s publicist comes up with a plan: surprise Amanda Grace with the chance to meet her hero, followed by a visit to the set of Chase’s new movie. The meeting is a disaster, but out of mutual desperation, Amanda and Chase strike a deal. What starts as a simple arrangement, though, rapidly becomes more complicated when they realize they need each other in more ways than one. But when the past resurfaces in a new threat, will they stand together or fall apart?

I’ve been on a new adult kick lately, and was really excited when I heard about this book and heard what others were saying about it. I read 738 Days months ago, and have been unsure as to how to review it. I really, really enjoyed the book but it wasn’t totally what I was expecting. I was expecting more time with the kidnapper, more mystery, and more suspense. What I got was much more real. It was a surprise, but not a bad one.

The book starts off with a bang. We see Amanda in her little room in her kidnapper’s home, and we see one of the most despicable men I’ve ever read about. Immediately, I was invested because I saw a small piece of what Amanda dealt with for so long. I wanted her to be ok. After her rescue and return home, she is understandably a shell of a person. She’s dealing with very severe PTSD and an intense fear of living. Her family is not entirely sure what to do with her except shield her from everything, so relationships are strained. I felt for all of them. It must be so hard to see a sibling or child recover from something like this, much less recover from it on your own. I have not experienced anything like Amanda did, but I felt like I understood her a little. This is a testament to the author’s writing and storytelling.

I really liked Chase, and I liked who he was with Amanda. I liked who Amanda became when she trusted him and pushed herself to take risks while she was with him. Chase has a past too, and he is recovering from that past. These two heal in one another, and it was beautiful to watch. Chase is so delicate and patient and compassionate and caring in his interactions with Amanda. He is constantly checking on her and asking her if things are ok. He completely puts her first and puts his own feelings aside. I loved watching them open up to one another and begin to trust. They are so sweet together, and I loved their romance.

The ending was crazy, and I wasn’t expecting it at all. Our pasts always seem to catch up with us, and that was the case with one of our characters. Things were intense and suspenseful and I was on the edge of my seat until the last page.

All in all, I really enjoyed this story. I was not expecting such heartbreaking reality, but I really liked what I did get. Kade does a great job of depicting PTSD and other strong, heavy issues in a way that was not overly depressing and dark. Every word was highlighted with a sense of hope and resilience. I loved these two perfectly flawed characters and their quest for happiness. I would highly recommend it to lovers of new adult, survival stories, and sweet, real romances.


P.S. I Like You by Kasie West | Book Review

October 3, 2016 Book Review, Young Adult 1 ★★★★★

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West | Book ReviewP.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Published by Point on July 26, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 330
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
AmazonBarnes & Noble Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Signed, sealed, delivered…

While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds thatsomeone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

What’s a girl to read the day after she finishes A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas? I was worried no book would pull me out of the already very strong hangover I was experiencing. I had heard amazing things about P.S. I Like You, so I figured I’d give it a try. I LOVED it. It was exactly what I needed! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

(This is a spoiler-free review. I will not use the names of any guys in this story, so you won’t find out who Lily’s mystery guy is from me!)

1. This is my first Kasie West book. I had tried one other of hers, but did not finish it. I must have been in the wrong frame of mind or needing a different kind of book that day. I’m going to go back to that book and pick up more of hers!

2. The story is so unique and special to me. I loved this romance that bloomed from handwritten notes hidden under desks. It felt nostalgic to me, and reminiscent of my high school years where we wrote notes to each other rather than texts or emails (boy, do I sound old… it’s not like these things weren’t around, but texting was relatively new, Facebook wasn’t a thing yet, and the lack of smart phones prevented email/MySpace communication during school hours… lol).

3. Music is a huge theme in this story, and I loved that! I love that Lily and her mystery guy connected over their nearly identical tastes in obscure music. Lily is also a songwriter, so we read a lot about her lyrics brainstorm sessions.

4. The characters are amazing. I love awkward, odd, hilarious Lily and her sweet family. She’s got adorable relationships with her little brothers, her older sister, and her parents. This book has the family dynamic done right. I love the strong friendship between Lily and her best friend. Those two are friendship goals. There’s also the hunk of burning love Lily has a crush on but is scared to look at for too long and the jerky guy who has caused her so much hurt and embarrassment for years. Each character is well developed, their own person, and an important part of the story. And seriously, the relationships are the best part.

5. The notes are so cute! Both Lily and her mystery guy let their personalities shine through and are their true selves with one another. That’s rare, especially in high school when you’re not even completely sure who your true self is. We get to learn so much about these two–intimate details that round them out and make you pull for them. I was just as excited to read their daily notes as they were!

6. I LOVE the mystery guy. So much snark, sarcasm, and swoon. He’s adorable, yet flawed. He’s real and sweet and even though I figured out who he was pretty easily I loved the mystery anyway. I also love that his identity is revealed at about the halfway point and we get to see how everything pans out.

7. So. Much. Swooning. The romance is adorable.

8. Halloween and Thanksgiving happen in this book, so I will always associate this book with fall and the holidays. I read this at the exactly perfect time of year, and I love how the holidays were covered in this book. I would love to go to Thanksgiving at Lily’s house. I adore her family and their silly traditions.

Bottom line, I have no complaints. I loved this book, and I can’t wait to read more books from Kasie West. Definitely give this a try if you’re looking for wonderful, developed relationships; sweet, amazing characters; and a swoony romance. Seriously, just read it.

 


A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody | Book Review

August 9, 2016 Blog Tour, Book Review, Young Adult 1 ★★★★★

A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody | Book Review

A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody | Book ReviewA Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody
Published by Farrar Straus & Giroux on August 2, 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 464
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
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5 Stars
When I made the wish, I just wanted a do-over. Another chance to make things right. I never, in a million years, thought it might actually come true...

Sixteen-year-old Ellison Sparks is having a serious case of the Mondays. She gets a ticket for running a red light, she manages to take the world’s worst school picture, she bombs softball try-outs and her class election speech (note to self: never trust a cheerleader when she swears there are no nuts in her bake-sale banana bread), and to top it all off, Tristan, her gorgeous rocker boyfriend suddenly dumps her. For no good reason!

As far as Mondays go, it doesn’t get much worse than this. And Ellie is positive that if she could just do it all over again, she would get it right. So when she wakes up the next morning to find she’s reliving the exact same day, she knows what she has to do: stop her boyfriend from breaking up with her. But it seems no matter how many do-overs she gets or how hard Ellie tries to repair her relationship, Tristan always seems bent set on ending it. Will Ellie ever figure out how to fix this broken day? Or will she be stuck in this nightmare of a Monday forever?

From the author 52 Reasons to Hate My Father and The Unremembered trilogy comes a hilarious and heartwarming story about second (and third and fourth and fifth) chances. Because sometimes it takes a whole week of Mondays to figure out what you really want.

I have been having a really hard time with contemporary YA novels right now, which has been so sad for me because I have always loved them so much. Am I getting too old for these books, or am I just reading the wrong ones? I’m happy to tell you that I’ve been reading the wrong ones! A Week of Mondays was so cute and so sweet and so swoony that I’ve decided I can continue reading contemporary YA! Phew! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I loved watching Ellie relive her Monday over and over again because I got to see her directly learn from her mistakes. She got to develop and change and discover herself (she even went through a rebellious phase). Honestly, I think we could all benefit from going through something like this.

2. I loved the relationships. I loved Ellie’s friendship with Owen and with her sister. Both relationships are true and tug at the heartstrings. Her sister relationship actually reminds me of the relationship my own little sister and I have.

I so wish I had someone like Owen in my life. They grew up sneaking into each other’s rooms having sleepovers and being camp counselors together every summer. Now they watch law dramas on TV and use courtroom jargon in every day conversations. They remind me of Zack and Jessie from Saved By the Bell, but cuter.

I even enjoyed the exchanges between Ellie and her parents, and the ebb and flow of their coexistence and support of one another.

3. Ellie reminds me so much of my teenaged self: a bit of a perfectionist, someone who bites off more than they can chew, a people pleaser, a worrier, and a hopeless romantic. I loved watching her think through all the possibilities of who she could be, and ultimately how she could be the truest to herself. I loved her inner thoughts and her sense of humor. She’s just such a sweet, down to earth heroine and I really loved her.

4. Oh my goodness, Owen is my new favorite book boy. He is hilarious! He’s got this obsession with using British slang even though he’s not at all British (Codswallop! My new favorite word!). He also loves fortune cookies and hosts the school’s book club. He’s so funny and nerdy and sweet. I love how he unconditionally cares for Ellie (even if he’s having a bad day), and the fact that every time she explains to him that she’s reliving the same day he believes her and even helps her figure things out. He’s just so perfect!

5. As much as I wanted to hate Tristan, I actually liked him for a long time until a Monday showed us how shallow he is. I loved the story of how he and Ellie met, and had fun reading pieces of that at the end of each Monday’s section of the book. I think this goes to show how great Jessica Brody is at writing sweet, magical romances. Don’t worry, though, I’m forever and always team Owen.

6. The romance is adorable. I don’t want to go into this point too much because I’ll spoil things, but young love is so wonderful and new and exciting.

7. This book is funny! Ellie’s thoughts, Owen’s quirks, and other little snippets of teen life just made me giggle and wax nostalgic. I hated being a teenager and, in retrospect, high school was pretty sucky. Most of my friendships were not true friendships and I can see now how much I was taken advantage of by people I thought cared about me. Jessica Brody’s imagination and writing have made me wish I could be a teen again! WHAT!? I wish my high school years were filled with the kind of memories Ellie will have at my age.

8. At times I got slightly tired of reading some of the same passages multiple times, but now that I’m done with the book I don’t even care. I loved reading it!

All in all, A Week of Mondays was just what I needed right now. I loved seeing such sweet relationships, such funny moments, and such great character development. It was a joyous reading experience for me, and I’m so glad I didn’t let my lukewarm feelings about contemporary YA steer me away from this sweet and heartwarming story. I highly recommend this book!