Monday, January 8, 2018

Review: Dear Dwayne, With Love by Eliza Gordon

Blurb from Goodreads:
Wannabe actress Dani Steele’s résumé resembles a cautionary tale on how not to be famous. She’s pushing thirty and stuck in a dead-end insurance job, and her relationship status is holding at uncommitted. With unbearably perfect sisters and a mother who won’t let her forget it, Dani has two go-tos for consolation: maple scones and a blog in which she pours her heart out to her celebrity idol. He’s the man her father never was, no boyfriend will ever be—and not so impossible a dream as one might think. When Dani learns that he’s planning a fund-raising event where the winning amateur athlete gets a walk-on in his new film, she decides to trade pastries and self-doubt for running shoes and a sexy British trainer with adorable knees.

But when Dani’s plot takes an unexpected twist, she realizes that her happy ending might have to be improvised—and that proving herself to her idol isn’t half as important as proving something to herself.
My Review:
This book tried so hard to be funny and it just . . . wasn't.  In some ways, it was a bit motivational re: stepping outside of your comfort zone, pushing yourself physically, and getting in shape but I found it instead rather sappy and trite. Unless you are, like the MC in this book, a HUGE (and I mean GIGANTIC) fan of Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson, you may have trouble relating to this book and Dani.  For me, the idea of the diary to DJ/the Rock was better in theory than in reality.  Plus there was a lot of ancillary embarrassment that just put me off.  Hopefully you have better luck with this one!
Dear Dwayne, With Love comes out soon on January 23, 2018, and you can purchase HERE.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Review: The Spring Girls: A Modern-Day Retelling of Little Women by Anna Todd

The Spring Girls: A Modern-Day Retelling of Little Women by Anna Todd

Blurb from Goodreads:
Four sisters desperately seeking the blueprints to life—the modern-day retelling of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women like only Anna Todd (After, Imagines) could do.

The Spring Girls—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy—are a force of nature on the New Orleans military base where they live. As different as they are, with their father on tour in Iraq and their mother hiding something, their fears are very much the same. Struggling to build lives they can be proud of and that will lift them out of their humble station in life, one year will determine all that their futures can become.

The oldest, Meg, will be an officer’s wife and enter military society like so many of the women she admires. If her passion—and her reputation—don’t derail her.

Beth, the workhorse of the family, is afraid to leave the house, is afraid she’ll never figure out who she really is.

Jo just wants out. Wishing she could skip to graduation, she dreams of a life in New York City and a career in journalism where she can impact the world. Nothing can stop her—not even love.

And Amy, the youngest, is watching all her sisters, learning from how they handle themselves. For better or worse.

With plenty of sass, romance, and drama, The Spring Girls revisits Louisa May Alcott’s classic Little Women, and brings its themes of love, war, class, adolescence, and family into the language of the twenty-first century.
My Review:
Retellings lately have been more miss than hit for me so, although I was excited to read this one, my expectations were admittedly low.  And the start of the book felt sad and staid but about 20% in, I was invested and the book really took off.  I have to tell you that it is a wonderful retelling - not an exact copy but a true retelling of the heart of Little Women in the modern world.  The characters were perfect - so well developed but true to the original.  I loved this - pick it up for a great start to your year!!

The Spring Girls comes out today, January 2, 2018, and I truly recommend this retelling.  I wasn't convinced at first but it ended up being perfect.  I hope more installments will come!
His kiss was just the seed. His fingers turned to branches, rooting themselves into my body. My hands became no longer my own, and I thought that this was why Meg put herself through all the pain that boys bring along. For that feeling. It was worth it, I thought, as Laurie flipped my world upside down. How quickly my mind changed from smart, thought-out conclusions to sappy syrup dripping from the trunk of a tree.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Review: Killman Creek (Stillhouse Lake #2) by Rachel Caine

Blurb from Goodreads:
Every time Gwen closed her eyes, she saw him in her nightmares. Now her eyes are open, and he’s not going away.

Gwen Proctor won the battle to save her kids from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, and his league of psychotic accomplices. But the war isn’t over. Not since Melvin broke out of prison. Not since she received a chilling text…

You’re not safe anywhere now.

Her refuge at Stillhouse Lake has become a trap. Gwen leaves her children in the protective custody of a fortified, well-armed neighbor. Now, with the help of Sam Cade, brother of one of Melvin’s victims, Gwen is going hunting. She’s learned how from one of the sickest killers alive.

But what she’s up against is beyond anything she feared—a sophisticated and savage mind game calculated to destroy her. As trust beyond her small circle of friends begins to vanish, Gwen has only fury and vengeance to believe in as she closes in on her prey. And sure as the night, one of them will die.
My Review:
Although I could not put down the first book in this series and it was a five star read for me, I have to tell you that this second book was still really good and hard to put down. Rachel Caine is such a brilliant writer and I love love loved reading her foray into this genre.  She brings her carefully researched and planned plots along with awesome character development into the mix with heart-pounding action.  I read these first two books back to back, which was so great, and probably my most fun reading of this year!  Someone please make these books into a movie or TV show!!!!

Killman Creek comes out next week on December 12, 2017. The first book in this series, Stillhouse Lake, was absolutely incredible and I can't wait for book three, Wolfhunter River, which is scheduled to be released next year on October 2, 2018.
Stay alive.
I can't depend on Sam now. I can't depend on anyone but myself. All my life has been coming to this.
I'm not ready.
But I begin.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Review: Once Upon a Christmas Eve (Maiden Lane #12.6) by Elizabeth Hoyt

Blurb from Goodreads:
Adam Rutledge, Viscount d'Arque, really rather loathes Christmas. The banal cheerfulness. The asinine party games. And, worst of all, the obligatory trip to the countryside. His grandmother, however, loves the holiday—and Adam loves his grandmother, so he'll brave the fiercest snowstorm to please her. But when their carriage wheel snaps, they're forced to seek shelter at the home of the most maddening, infuriating, and utterly beguiling woman he's ever met.

Sarah St. John really rather loathes rakes. The self-satisfied smirks. The sly predatory gazes. Oh, and the constant witty banter rife with double meaning. But in the spirit of the season, she'll welcome this admittedly handsome viscount into her home. But as the snowstorm rages, the Yule log crackles, and the tension rises, Sarah and Adam find themselves locked in a fiery, passionate kiss. If love is the true meaning of Christmas, it's the one gift this mismatched pair can't wait to unwrap.
My Review:
This was fun albeit short, even for a novella.  It riffed a bit on The Frog Princess, which I enjoyed.  In fact, had it been twice as long as it was, this probably would have been a higher rating.  Short isn't bad but sometimes, particularly in romance, things move too fast for my taste.  Such was the case here - there could have been so much more developed between the characters and the backstory.  That being said, still a fun, historical romance set at Christmas!
Once Upon a Christmas Eve comes out soon on December 5, 2017, and you can purchase HERE
Adam Rutledge, Viscount d'Argue loathed Christmas. The banal cheerfulness. The sly demands for charity. The asinine party games.  
Oh, and the obligatory journey to the countryside.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Review: The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy

Blurb from Goodreads:
As she drives her mobile library van between villages of Ireland’s West Coast, Hanna Casey tries not to think about a lot of things. Like the sophisticated lifestyle she abandoned after finding her English barrister husband in bed with another woman. Or that she’s back in Lissbeg, the rural Irish town she walked away from in her teens, living in the back bedroom of her overbearing mother’s retirement bungalow. Or, worse yet, her nagging fear that, as the local librarian and a prominent figure in the community, her failed marriage and ignominious return have made her a focus of gossip. 

With her teenage daughter, Jazz, off travelling the world and her relationship with her own mother growing increasingly tense, Hanna is determined to reclaim her independence by restoring a derelict cottage left to her by her great-aunt. But when the threatened closure of the Lissbeg Library puts her personal plans in jeopardy, Hanna finds herself leading a battle to restore the heart and soul of the Finfarran Peninsula’s fragmented community. And she’s about to discover that the neighbors she’d always kept at a distance have come to mean more to her than she ever could have imagined. 

Told with heart and abundant charm, The Library at the Edge of the World is a joyous story about the meaning of home and the importance of finding a place where you truly belong.
My Review:
This one was very disjointed for me - it was kind of all over the place and only sort of coalesced at the end, which I didn't love.  It felt unfinished. The setting of coastal Ireland was charming enough but I had  a hard time envisioning the descriptions in the book beyond the most facile. Something was lacking - either more in the description of the MC or in the surrounding. Bits of history were interspersed throughout the book but I was left wanting more and, again, this feels unfinished.  id on't think this is part of a series so I'm not sure why so many things were left unsaid and unanswered. Definitely reminded me Jenny Colgan, for better or worse. 
The Library at the Edge of the World came out last week on November 14, 2017, and you can purchase HERE
The turquoise sky reflected the color of the ocean. There was a stone slab for a doorstep and beyond it a scrubby field sloped to the cliff's edge, where a stone wall marked the boundary. Beyond that was nothing more than a grassy ledge clustered with sea pinks and a sheer drop to the churning waves below. The little house stood at the top of a narrow field with its back to the road and its door opening to the ocean. Hanna had pushed her way through a tangle of willow saplings and splashed through a muddy pool to scramble through a window in the lean-to extension at the back. Now, standing on the stone doorstep with her face to the sun, she could smell the damp smell of the derelict rooms behind her and the salt scent of the ocean as it thundered against the cliff.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Review: Strangers in Budapest by Jessica Keener

Blurb from Goodreads:
Budapest is a city of secrets, a place where everything is opaque and nothing is as it seems. It is to this enigmatic city that a young American couple, Annie and Will, move with their infant son shortly after the fall of the Communist regime. For Annie, it is an effort to escape the ghosts from her past; for Will, it is a chance to try his wings as an entrepreneur in Hungary’s newly developing economy.

But only a few months after moving there, they receive a secretive request from friends in the US to check up on an old man who also has recently come to Budapest. When they realize that his sole purpose for coming there is to exact revenge on a man whom he is convinced seduced and then murdered his daughter, Will insists they have nothing to do with him. Annie, however, unable to resist anyone she feels may need her help, soon finds herself enmeshed in the old man’s plan, caught up in a scheme that will end with death. 
My Review:
This was on the verge of being interesting but I felt it was a bit repetitive and could have done with some editing.  I also expected a bigger mystery - the climax at the end was over before it started and we were left with more questions than answers.  The premise was interesting as was the setting of Budapest in the 90s.  It was very atmospheric but something was missing - maybe more backstory?  The history/backstory as it was told was one-sided and so we didn't get another perspective, which would have really elevated this book.  I hope you have better luck with it - it definitely had some good parts even if it was a little boring, unexplained and repetitive. 
Strangers in Budapest comes out today November 14, 2017, and you can purchase HERE.
She had run out of things to say. That was her problem. Their problem. This inability to find words to make things better. It was so much easier to say nothing. She felt the seductive pull of it. Stop speaking. Sink into quicksand. Become silent. Pretend things will be okay. Sink into silence as if it could protect her from the noise of life above and all around her. it was an old family habit, this silence. She leaned back in the seat, the music and the wheezing rush of the air conditioner meshing together. Silence was the phantom body in her family. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Review: Royally Wed (The Royals #3) by Teri Wilson

Blurb from Goodreads:
Teri Wilson’s Royals series returns with this charming and witty retelling of the timeless classic MGM film Royal Wedding starring Fred Astaire.

When Asher Reed, an American classical musician, is hired as a last minute replacement to perform at the royal wedding of Princess Amelia in Great Britain, he’s hoping he can shake his recent bout with performance anxiety long enough to get through the festivities and get his career back on track. Little does he know that his life is about to change forever.

As a guest of Buckingham Palace, he knows he has no business even speaking to the princess, but he’s completely awed by her beauty and more than a little intrigued by her rebellious spirit. Still, he definitely knows he has no business kissing her silly at the fitting of her wedding gown. He’s there to perform, not cause a royal scandal. But when he stumbles upon her groom’s appalling secret, the fate of the princess and the British Crown suddenly rest squarely in his cello-playing hands....

With Teri Wilson’s signature “endearingly charming and delightfully sizzling” (USA TODAY bestselling author Nina Bocci) prose, Royally Wed is a delightful whirlwind romance that will leave you breathless and have you out of your seat for a standing ovation.
My Review:
Another retelling and another book that didn't quite work for me. I think this one felt a bit rushed in its romance - yes, it was a retelling of Royal Wedding - and so it adhered to something of a whirlwind but I'm not quite sure that the current day and age was properly worked into this retelling. I really did like Asher and a lot of the book was told from his POV.  He was charismatic and charming - I just didn't quite get he and Amelia together.  They truly didn't spend enough time to really click let alone fall in love.  I just wanted more from this book.  I actually wished it would have ended a bit differently and then perhaps had a sequel where Asher and Amelia could get to know each other.  Seems silly but I wasn't buying the speed of things in this book.
Royally Wed comes out next week on November 13, 2017, and you can purchase HERE. You can read my review of book one, Royally Roma, HERE.  All of these are retellings of classic movies and can be read standalone.
He was publicly flirting with the princess of England at the rehearsal for her wedding ceremony. If anyone in the room could be privy to the thoughts running through his head, he'd probably be thrown into the Tower. 
He needed to get a handle on himself. No . . . what he needed was a damn reality check. 
He let out a tense exhale and averted his gaze. In a matter of seconds, she was going to be standing right in front of him. he was going to have to look her in the eye and pretend she wasn't his first thought when he woke up every morning and that he didn't lie in the Blue Room at night and dream about her willowy legs wrapped around his hips while he drove himself into her. He was going to have to shake her hand while everyone watched, all the while wishing that he could touch her under vastly different circumstances. 
There was something very wrong with him. He shouldn't be having those kinds of thoughts about an engaged woman. Amelia wasn't his. She never would be. Which was probably for the best. She drove him a little crazy.
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