Review: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating
Author: Christina Lauren
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Most men can’t handle Hazel. With the energy of a toddler and the mouth of a sailor, they’re often too timid to recognize her heart of gold. New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Roomies, Beautiful Bastard) tells the story of two people who are definitely not dating, no matter how often they end up in bed together.

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?


Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating is the story of an unlikely friendship that turns into more. Josh and Hazel met in college. They weren’t friends, but they had some priceless interactions with each other. Fast forward ten years, to Josh and Hazel running into each other at a party. Hazel knows Josh is too hot for her (plus he has a girlfriend), so Hazel decides she and Josh will be best friends.  Despite Josh’s hesitancy to be Hazel’s friend, their platonic friendship blossoms. When Josh and his girlfriend break up, Hazel and Josh start a string of horrendous double blind dates. Soon, Josh and Hazel begin to realize maybe they’re setting each other up with the wrong people.

Oh my goodness. This book! It was so entertaining. I could not put it down. I absolutely adored everything about it. This is one of the best friends to lovers books I’ve ever read. The way Josh and Hazel became friends was perfection. The way their friendship turns into more was perfection. The whole stinking thing was just so cute and entertaining.

I adored Hazel. She was super kooky, but she had the best heart. Hazel wasn’t afraid to be herself, and I loved that. I could understand how people were easily drawn into her orbit. I loved that she knew that the friends that stuck around through her weirdness were the special people in her life. She was such a special character. She’s now one of my all time favorites.

Josh was just as amazing as Hazel, but in a completely different way. He was the calm to her storm. Josh was more on the uptight end of things, and I loved how Hazel brought him out of his shell. My favorite thing about Josh was his ability to see the beauty in Hazel’s quirky personality. Josh and Hazel were so magical together. He loved her for who she was and didn’t want to change her. Hazel was the same way about Josh. That’s what love is, people.

My only disappointment with Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating was the predictability of it. I could see where this book was headed before the 50% mark. It actually wasn’t that big of a disappointment for me. I still enjoyed every minute I spent with it. In fact, I utterly adored every minute. I am in love with this book!

It doesn’t shock me that I loved a book Christina Lauren wrote. They’re quickly becoming on of my favorite writing duos. What surprises me is how each book is so different and unique. While the highly emotional Love and Other Words is one of my favorite books of 2018, the hilarious Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating could easily be was well. To me, that’s the sign of incredible writing.

Review: Dr. Strange Beard by Penny Reid

Dr. Strange Beard
Series: Winston Brothers, #5
Author: Penny Reid
Publication Date: July 30, 2018
Publisher: Cipher- Naught
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Hunches, horse races, and heartbreak

Ten years after Simone Payton broke his heart, all Roscoe Winston wants is a doughnut. He’d also like to forget her entirely, but that’s never going to happen. Roscoe remembers everything—every look, every word, every single unrequited second—and the last thing he needs is another memory of Simone.

Unfortunately, after one chance encounter, Simone keeps popping up everywhere he happens to be . . .

Ten years after Roscoe Winston dropped out of her life, all Simone Payton wants is to exploit him. She’d also like some answers from her former best friend about why he ghosted her, but if she never gets those answers, that’s a-okay. Simone let go of the past a long time ago. Seriously, she has. She totally, totally has. She is definitely not still thinking about Roscoe. Nope. She’s more than happy to forget he exists.

But first, she needs just one teeny-tiny favor . . .


I waited a day after finishing reading Dr. Strange Beard to write this review because I couldn’t decide how I felt about it. Even after waiting, I still feel a little undecided to how much I liked it. There were some truly great things about it. Then there were some things that didn’t float my boat.

Let’s start with the great. Penny Reid’s writing was its ever witty, smart self. I loved having to look up several big words that made an appearance. I can always count on her to teach me something new. I learned several things in this book. The previous Winston Brothers characters were just as amazing as they have been in the past. I loved their appearances and how they added to the story. I adored Roscoe. I wanted more of him. I didn’t realize just how sentimental and sweet he was going to be.

Now for the things that left me feeling a little meh. The five year time jump from the previous book was confusing. I had to think hard about where the characters were in life the last time I saw them because where they were now threw me. I felt like I missed some pretty big things. I didn’t remember Roscoe and Simone’s friendship or their characters having the personalities they did. It took me a LONG time to get Roscoe’s fascination with Simone. Actually, I still don’t know if I get it. She was so…odd. Simone felt almost like a mixture of some of Penny Reid’s other female characters except that I didn’t feel like I got deep enough into her backstory to understand what made her the way she was. This made the first half of this book a miss for me.

The second half of this book is what saved it for me. As Simone and Roscoe’s relationship advanced, so did my feelings about them as a couple. I liked what they had together. I still didn’t get Simone, but I could understand Roscoe’s feelings towards her better. I also really loved what was going on in the story at that point. The twists were very exciting and left me wanting more.

Dr. Strange Beard wasn’t my favorite in the Winston Brother‘s series, but it ended up being an entertaining read. It seems to have set up something I think I’m really going to like for Billy’s story. I can’t wait to read that one!

Here is an EXCERPT from Dr. Strange Beard:

“Simone, this is not one of our adventures from when we were kids. This is not finding Blithe Tanner’s cat. These men are murderers, drug dealers, thieves.”

“I know.” Boy oh boy, did I know. I didn’t want to be here anymore than he did. I was frightened. Yet allowing Roscoe to be taken on his own hadn’t been an option. “I can handle myself, and I can provide backup for you, if you need it.”

Roscoe gripped my shoulders. “Nothing can happen to you, do you understand?” His words were emphatic, his gaze disoriented, desolate, frantic. “If anything happens to you, I’ll . . .” He swallowed, apparently unable to finish the sentence.

My heart twisted to see him like this. I wished there were some way to show him what I could do, what I was capable of, so he would stop seeing me as a liability.

Well, why can’t you?

“Huh.”

Now there was a thought.

Stepping out of his grip, I walked backward to the other side of the room and took a deep breath. “Okay. Come at me.”

He blinked. “What?”

“I want you to come at me.”

“Simone,” he seethed.

“Come at me, bro.” I did that little movement with my fingers, my palm turned upwards. “Come at me or I’ll start singing again.”

“I’m not doing this.”

“Fine.”Frustrating. “I’ll come at you.”

He stood there, features set, looking raw.

Moving quickly forward, staying light on my feet, I faked right and then went left, hooking him behind the back of his leg, catching his arm to twist behind his back, and sending him to the ground—face-first—with a thud.

I winced as he grunted, my knee at the base of his spine, his arm restrained behind his back. “Sorry! But you wouldn’t listen to me.” Leaning forward, I whispered in his ear, “Are you okay? Did I hurt you?”

Roscoe’s back and shoulders rose and fell with an expansive breath, like he was about to respond, but in the next moment he’d spun his legs to the right, leveraged my knee on his back to throw me off-balance, and slipped his wrist from my hold.

In my defense, my grip had been lax as I was purposefully trying not to injure him.

The next thing I knew, Roscoe had me pinned to the ground, air knocked out of me, him hovering above, and my gun digging into my ribs beneath my shirt. He’d been careful to subdue my legs, likely so he wouldn’t end up with a bruised ballsack.

His stare more probing than angry—which I took as a good sign—he said, “I didn’t teach you that. Where’d you learn that?”

Even though I was still coughing, I smiled and rasped, “Since college, take judo.”

He nodded faintly, his eyes moving between mine, looking concerned. “Are you okay? Did I hurt you?”

“No.” Endeavoring to catch my breath, I said, “I took it easy on you because I didn’t want to hurt you either, but I’m an asset, not a liability.”

“You’re definitely an asset.” Roscoe frowned, his gaze dropping to my mouth. “And a distraction,” he said, his voice rough.

“I’m a distraction?” I asked, my words still breathy.

I bucked, but he held me fast.

“Yes. . .” His stare turned inward. “You are most definitely a distraction.”

Even though I’d had plenty of time to recover and we’d been holding still for close to a minute, I was still breathing hard. This might have been because of my lingering irritation. Or, maybe it was because the length of Roscoe’s lean body was lying on mine. He held my hands on either side of my head, our faces even, his mouth just inches away.

Was it insane that I hoped he kissed me?

Yes?

No?

Let’s go with no.

He gave me his eyes again and I saw something there, a battle. He looked undecided, at war with himself, straining against something I couldn’t see.

“Roscoe?” I whispered.

Roscoe closed his eyes, and I thought he was going to let me go, but in the next second his lips descended, capturing my mouth in a tender kiss.

I moaned.

I kissed him back.

That’s what one does when Roscoe Winston kisses one. Moan and kiss. Repeat. Because not doing so would be a travesty.

His hold on my hands slacked, his fingers seeking and threading with mine. He settled his hips between my legs, his form relaxing. The weight of him was different now, warmer somehow. At least I felt warm. I also felt cherished as his tongue sought mine, again tenderly, stroking, causing my abdomen to twist and tighten into delicious knots.

He broke the kiss and a protest died on my lips as his mouth trailed down my jaw to the sensitive skin of my neck, sucking, licking, savoring me. What had felt warm and cherishing heated, and my hips tilted reflexively as he nibbled on my ear, cradling his rapidly growing erection.

We both gasped as his hips rocked in an answering yet inelegant movement. It felt perfect and essential in the moment.

“Oh God.” His hot breath spilled against my jaw, a ragged sigh. “What are we doing?”

“I don’t know, but don’t stop.”

LIVE01.jpg

Amazon | Amazon Universal | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google Play | Paperback

Goodreads

Enter the Giveaway!

BlogTour_Giveaway.jpg

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: The Accidentals by Sarina Bowen

The Accidentals
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Never ask a question unless you’re sure you want the truth.

I’ve been listening to my father sing for my whole life. I carry him in my pocket on my mp3 player. It’s just that we’ve never met face to face.

My mother would never tell me how I came to be, or why my rock star father and I have never met. I thought it was her only secret. I was wrong.

When she dies, he finally appears. Suddenly I have a first class ticket into my father’s exclusive world. A world I don’t want any part of – not at this cost.
Only three things keep me going: my a cappella singing group, a swoony blue-eyed boy named Jake, and the burning questions in my soul. There’s a secret shame that comes from being an unwanted child. It drags me down, and puts distance between me and the boy I love.

My father is the only one alive who knows my history. I need the truth, even if it scares me.


Welcome to YA, Sarina Bowen!

Sarina Bowen is one of my most favorite NA/Adult contemporary romance writers. When I learned she was going to be writing her first YA novel, I was really excited. Based on what she’s done in NA/Adult, I could only imagine what type of YA novel she would write. I knew it was going to be amazing, and I was right!

The Accidentals is the story of a teenager who finally gets to meet the father she’s only known through the press after her mother dies. It’s a bittersweet pill for Rachel to swallow. She can’t help but feel guilty over the joy of meeting the man her mother wanted to keep her away from. As Rachel gets to know her father, she meets Jake. Jake is perfect for Rachel, if she doesn’t let her past ruin her present.

I was immediately impressed with The Accidentals. It had me hooked from page one. The story was so emotional. Being in Rachel’s shoes would have been so hard. I can’t imagine having my biggest dream fulfilled while losing the most important person in my life. It would have been devastating, and it was to her. Her sense of guilt and loss radiated off the pages.

The rest of the characters were just as well written as Rachel. Frederick was the perfectly flawed musician. Rachel’s relationship with him developed in a guarded way that I really enjoyed. I also liked how her friendships went through ups and downs. The one with Haze was especially interesting to me.

What was surprising to me was the romance in The Accidentals. It took a backseat to everything else going on in the book. I was expecting the story to revolve more around it, but was glad that it didn’t. I liked Rachel’s romance with Jake, but the relationship with her mother and father were more important. I loved that was the focus.

As far as I’m concerned, Sarina Bowen’s first step into the world of YA was perfection. I absolutely adored The Accidentals. I hope this was just the first of many YA books to come from Bowen.

Review: I Think I Love You by Lauren Layne

They were “just friends.” Until one tried to teach the other the art of seduction … And became thoroughly seduced.
I THINK I LOVE YOU
Oxford – Book 5
Lauren Layne
Releasing July 10, 2018
Loveswept
A game of seduction between two best friends goes deliciously wrong in an irresistible Oxford Novel that brims with wit and sexual tension. Library Journal hails Layne’s work as “exemplary contemporary romance.”
 
Brit Robbins knows that dating in New York City is hard—she just hoped to have it mastered by age thirty. But after yet another promising suitor says they have no sparks, Brit decides it’s time to torch her dating game and try a new plan. And who better to coach Brit through the art of seduction than the guy who first gave her the “let’s be friends” card?
 
Hunter Cross has always figured there’s nothing his best friend Brit can do to surprise him. But Brit’s request is a surprise he doesn’t see coming—and one he’s definitely not prepared for. Hunter and Brit have always been careful to keep things perfectly platonic, but the fake dates and faux flirting are starting to feel like the real deal. And soon Hunter realizes he has taught Brit too well. Not only has she become an expert at seduction, the man becoming thoroughly seduced is him.
 
NOW AVAILABLE!
Review:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

I Think I Love You proves yet again why Lauren Layne is one of my go-to contemporary romance authors. I can always depend on her to give me a romance that will make me smile and swoon. She did just that with I Think I Love You.

In I Think I Love You, it’s finally Hunter and Britt’s turn to fall in love. They’ve been best friends and co-workers for years. They spend the majority of their time together, and have honestly never been attracted to each other. Hunter and Britt have one of those special platonic friendships no believes are real, but theirs is… Or at least it is until Britt asks Hunter to teach her the art of seduction.

This book was a typical LL read. She took me on a fun and fast-paced journey from friendship to love. I enjoyed every minute of it. There wasn’t a ton of drama, and I loved watching Hunter and Britt realize they really were more than just friends. I also enjoyed seeing the other members of the Oxford Stiletto gang again. I Think I Love You was a great ending to an incredibly fun series.

Lauren Layne is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than two dozen romantic comedies. Her books have sold over a million copies, in nine languages. Lauren’s work has been featured in Publishers WeeklyGlamourThe Wall Street Journal, and Inside Edition. She is based in New York City.
Giveaway:
*Lauren is hosting a Tour Wide Giveaway for TWO gifted Amazon e-copies of
I KNEW YOU WERE TROUBLE.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: The Downside of Love by Meghan Quinn

This isn’t a story about a love triangle. There is no triangle involved.

This isn’t a story about an accidental pregnancy. Although having a baby with her . . . I would.

This isn’t a story about lies and deception, even though at times I’ve lied to myself.

No, this is my story.

A story about sacrifice.

A story about a man who fell in love with the wrong girl.

A story I wish I never had to tell.

This is a story about the true meaning of the downside of love.

AVAILABLE NOW

AMAZON | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

 

Review:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

If you haven’t read The Upside of Falling (Blue Line, #1), stop right here. I’m not planning on posting spoilers in this review, but that book must be read prior to this one. You can find my review for The Upside of Falling here if you’re curious. Now, onto my review.

The end of The Upside of Love threw me for a loop. I wasn’t expecting things to go down the way they did. I was so shocked. I had some major feelings about how everything went down with Colby and Rory. I was really angry I was left hanging the way I was. The Downside of Love (and its early release) made up for all my frustration. I was pleasantly surprised by it. Meghan Quinn did amazing things with both her writing and her characters. Like the first book in the duet, it wasn’t what I was expecting. I didn’t think that was going to be a good thing, but it was. I loved how things ended up. I can’t imagine the Blue Line Duet characters’ story ending any other way now. It was an emotionally raw and thought-provoking read. Bravo, Meghan Quinn!

I do have one more thing to say. You’ll get this once you’ve read the book. I need more! That last scene has me wanting Meghan Quinn to make this a trilogy or maybe write a spin-off novel. I have to know if there a possibility…

Tucked away at the base of the Rocky Mountains lived a little boy with one singular dream: leave this broken and battered home and become someone.

Be somebody’s hero.

That boy was me—Colby Brooks. Except I’m not that same little boy anymore.

My dreams might still be the same, but my reality isn’t.

I’m smarter. Stronger. A man.

And I learned a long damn time ago, the only way to achieve my dreams was to avoid distractions—at any cost.

Focus. Resolve. Determination.

But all it took was one single night. One night and my entire life…changed.

One night had me colliding head first with the biggest distraction of my life; Rory Oaks.

Smart. Charming. Beautiful.

Rory changed everything.

Quickly, my one-track mind started to bend.

Each kiss faded decade-long dreams.

And with one single incident, I fly off course.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

About the Author:

Born in New York and raised in Southern California, Meghan has grown into a sassy, peanut butter eating, blonde haired swearing, animal hoarding lady. She is known to bust out and dance if “It’s Raining Men” starts beating through the air and heaven forbid you get a margarita in her, protect your legs because they may be humped.

Once she started commuting for an hour and twenty minutes every day to work for three years, she began to have conversations play in her head, real life, deep male voices and dainty lady coos kind of conversations. Perturbed and confused, she decided to either see a therapist about the hot and steamy voices running through her head or start writing them down. She decided to go with the cheaper option and started writing… enter her first novel, Caught Looking.

Now you can find the spicy, most definitely on the border of lunacy, kind of crazy lady residing in Colorado with the love of her life and her five, furry four legged children, hiking a trail or hiding behind shelves at grocery stores, wondering what kind of lube the nervous stranger will bring home to his wife. Oh and she loves a good boob squeeze!

Facebook | Follow on Goodreads | Website | Amazon Author Page | Instagram | Follow on BookBub

Audiobook Review: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Leah on the Offbeat
Series: Creekwood, #2
Author: Becky Albertalli
Narrator: Shannon Purser
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ+

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

In this sequel to the acclaimed Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—now a major motion picture, Love, Simon—we follow Simon’s BFF Leah as she grapples with changing friendships, first love, and senior year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic.

She’s an anomaly in her friend group: the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high.

It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.


I might be the only one who feels this way, but I thought Leah on the Offbeat was even better than Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I loved Simon, but it took me almost until the end to appreciate it as much as I did.

I was in love with Leah from the beginning. She wasn’t perfect. Leah had some major flaws, but they made her easy to relate to. Her world was changing. Even when she was fighting those changes or making dumb decisions, I could understand why she made the choices she did. Leah was afraid to put herself out there and get hurt or hurt her friends. I loved the reality of those situations. I’ve felt that way so many times in my life.

What struck me most about Leah and this book were the relationships in it. Everything that happened with Leah and her friends reminded me of some of my own school friendships. There’s always drama and ups and downs with friendships in high school. This book did an excellent job portraying friendships and how they evolve. It was my favorite part of the book. Well, besides Leah’s relationship with her mom. I loved that. Leah wasn’t the nicest to her mom, but when are we ever the nicest to the people who love us unconditionally when growing up? It was a good reminder to me that our parents are people, too. I still forget that even as an adult sometimes.

Overall, I adored listening to this book. Becky Albertalli’s writing was as amazing as always. Her characters were complex but easy to love. Shannon Purser brought life to Leah in an unforgettable way with her voice. Leah and the Offbeat is one of my favorite YA audiobooks I’ve read so far this year.

Series Review: Sea Breeze by Abbi Glines

Recently, I did a binge listen to the Sea Breeze series audiobooks. Rather than try to review them separately, I’m going to review them all here.

Breathe (#1): ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

This is exactly the type of book I want to read in the summer. It was a cute rock star romance in a fun, beachy setting. I adored both Sadie and Jax. They were perfect together. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and I liked that. Breathe was a very sweet story.

Because of Low (#2): ★ ★ ★ ★

After meeting Marcus in Breathe, I wanted to see him get is happy ever after. He deserved a nice girl after missing out on Sadie. Low was definitely that girl! I could see exactly how their story was going to play out, but I didn’t mind that. Because of Low was so much fun to read.

While It Lasts (#3): ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

This book was even better than the first two books. I was surprised because Cage wasn’t my favorite person in Because of Low. His womanizing ways disgusted me despite the fact that he was a great friend to Low. What made this book so amazing was Eva. Her story was so heartbreaking and I loved how Cage helped heal her heart.

Just For Now (#4): ★ ★ ★

I have mixed feelings about this one. I liked Preston and Amanda together, but Preston’s choices bugged me. I didn’t like his job and how he put Amanda at risk with it. It was just wrong. I couldn’t get past that.

Sometimes It Lasts (#5): ★ ★ ★ ★ 

I wasn’t prepared for this book. I was in this state of angst from the prologue. I loved Cage and Eva in While It Lasts and I wasn’t ready for them to be torn apart. I hated that, but I loved how everything worked out. Cage and Eva were so perfectly sweet together. I do have to admit that I had to switch from the audiobook to the ebook because I couldn’t handle listening to it. I had to read it so that I could get through it faster.

Misbehaving (#6): ★ ★ ★ ★

Jess surprised me in this book. She was the “bad girl”, but she went from bad to good very quickly. She didn’t seem much like the girl I met in the earlier books. That didn’t really bother me, and I enjoyed her story. I liked Jason, too. His story of trying to step out of the shadow of his brother was understandable. I also liked Jess and Jason together. What I didn’t like was Jess’ involvement with other people. I wish that would have been left out. Otherwise, I enjoyed listening to this book. I was happy this was finally a book about a girl who wasn’t so innocent like the rest of the series’ heroines.

Bad For You (#7): ★ ★ ★

I liked listening to this book. I loved Blythe. She was so sweet and sheltered. Her past intrigued me. I loved her with Krit. I loved Krit when he was with her. What I wasn’t so fond of was his hooking up with other chicks before they got together. It wasn’t very enjoyable reading about his exploits knowing Krit and Blythe would end up together.

Hold on Tight (#8): ★ ★ ★ ½

I loved Sienna and her story. I wasn’t so sure about Dewayne because I didn’t like him in all of the other books. He redeemed himself, but he was an idiot when it came to Sienna for most of the book. I am happy they ended up together. They were really too cute.

Until the End (#9): ★ ★ ★ ½

Throughout the Sea Breeze series, Trisha and Rock are there to support their friends. I heard stories of how their love originated through their friends’ stories, but those didn’t compare to getting their stories from them. I loved Trisha and Rock’s romance. It went back and forth between the past and present. The whole thing was so sweet. Their love story was a 5 star read — until the book abruptly switched half way through from being about them to mini epilogue novels about the characters from all of the other novels. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun to catch up with all of them. (Although, it seemed everyone was engaged, pregnant, or having a wedding. Their stories were way too similar to each other right down to the men appreciating a certain asset of their woman.)  I just would have rather had more of Trisha and Rock. I thought maybe it would end with them to completely wrap everything up, but it didn’t. It ended with Bliss and Nate Finlay. I know that’s to prepare for the Sea Breeze / Rosemary Beach spinoffs, but it felt out of place. This book is definitely worth reading if you’re a fan of the series, though.

Thoughts on the Sea Breeze series:

Abbi Glines’ Sea Breeze series was one of those guilty pleasures to listen to. The books weren’t earth shattering or life changing, but they were fun and put me in a summery mood. My biggest complaint about the series was the pattern of sweet, innocent young women and guys who have been around the block several times falling in love. I kind of like it, but it also got a little redundant.  Each character had different life experiences, but their sexual ones mimicked each other a little too much. All in all, I enjoyed the experience of listening to Shayna Thibodeaux, Kirby Heyborne, and Sebastian York narrate. If you’re looking for some mindless summer reading, this is a fun series.

Release Day Review: Dreams of Falling by Karen White

Dreams of Falling
Author: Karen White
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary, Historical
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Karen White crafts evocative relationships in this new contemporary women’s fiction novel about best friends who share a devastating secret, set in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

It’s been nine years since Larkin fled Georgetown, South Carolina, vowing never to go back. But when she finds out that her mother has disappeared, she knows she has no choice but to return to the place that she both loves and dreads–and to the family and friends who never stopped wishing for her to come home. Ivy, Larkin’s mother, is discovered in the burned out wreckage of her family’s ancestral rice plantation, badly injured and unconscious. No one knows why Ivy was there, but as Larkin digs for answers, she uncovers secrets kept for nearly 50 years. Secrets that lead back to the past, to the friendship between three girls on the brink of womanhood who swore that they would be friends forever, but who found that vow tested in heartbreaking ways.


Karen White is one of my auto-buy authors. I love the way she writes. I’m always pulled into her books from the first few words on the page. Her stories take a while to unfold, but I know the pay off is going to be worth the wait. It was for Dreams of Falling.

Dreams of Falling is a multi-generational tale about the relationship between mothers and daughters. It stars three women: a grandmother, a daughter, and a granddaughter. Larkin, the granddaughter and main narrator, is a woman who ran from her past. She lives in New York, but is summoned back to South Carolina when her mother is injured. Returning home opens up old wounds for Larkin, and she’s forced to confront her them while her mother is fighting for her life. Ivy, the daughter, is an unexpected narrator. She’s in limbo between life and death, reflecting upon the choices she made and the truths she uncovered before her accident. The final point of view is Ceecee. Ceecee is Ivy’s step-mother who raised her for most of her life and helped raise Larkin. Ceecee was one of Ivy’s mother’s best friends. Her chapters switch between the present and the past, helping unravel the mystery of what happened on the night Ivy’s mother died.

Dreams of Falling was spellbinding. There was this dream like feel to the story. Even when things were taking place in the characters’ present, there was a sleepy quality to the writing. I loved it. The whole tone of the book went with the story being told. It was really cool.

I adored the Georgetown, South Carolina setting. The small town feel helped connect the past to the present and the characters to each other. The mystery brought a darkness to the story, but this amazing setting brought the light. I liked the contrast.

The characters in this book were frustrating — but only because of the way they avoided asking the tough questions of themselves and each other. I understood Larkin’s reasons for trying to become someone different, but I wish she would have been more open to the advice of the people who loved her. Ceecee was way too involved in everyone’s lives. It took me a long time to understand why. There wasn’t enough of Ivy, in my opinion. I really, really wanted to know more about her life growing up. I can’t complain too much about these frustrations, though, because they’re what made Dreams of Falling a captivating story.

I loved the mystery of what happened on the night Ivy’s mother died. The way it unfolded and was revealed to the reader was great. There were some things I guessed, but many that I was surprised by. I loved finding out how one event that happened years ago shaped the lives of three generations of women.

Overall, I loved reading this book. It was exactly what I’ve come to expect from Karen White. If you enjoy multi-generational stories about family, friendship, and love, Dreams of Falling might just be the book for you. Heck, any book by Karen White would be for you.

Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Starry Eyes
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publication Date: April 3, 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern-day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?


If you’re looking for the perfect summer YA contemporary romance, this is it. Starry Eyes had everything I look for in that category. Let me break it down for you.

The writing: Jenn Bennett’s writing is amazing. I haven’t found a book of hers I haven’t loved yet. Each book she writes gets better and better. Starry Eyes is my new favorite of hers. I loved the whole Romeo and Juliet vibe it had going on.

Perfect summer setting: The whole glamping thing was hilarious. I want to glamp now so bad! I also loved the camping and hiking in the wilderness of Northern California. Lennon not only taught Zorie about a lot of things, he taught me too!

The characters: Zorie was a real girl with real problems. A lot of them were caused by avoidance and miscommunication, but that felt true to her age. I saw a lot of her in my younger self. Lennon cracked me up. His sense of humor and sarcasm made me smile.

Perfect summer romance: I loved the evolution of Zorie and Lennon’s relationship. It was sweet in the way only childhood best friend to more can be. They went through a lot together and apart. It made their friendship/relationship stronger in the long run.

Real life problems: There were so many different friendship dramas in here, and I could see them playing out in real life. Popularity wasn’t really a thing for either Lennon or Zorie, but you could see some of it in the side characters. The miscommunication could be trying at times, but it really fit well into Zorie’s personality. I

Parents: can’t leave out the parental units. They were some meddling parents, that’s for sure. Zorie’s dad took things to a whole new level. I haven’t quite experienced that in YA before, but I liked it even though I didn’t like him. Lots of parental drama, people.

Starry Eyes  was the perfect summer reading adventure. I loved every minute I “roughed it” with Zorie and Lennon. I was sad to finish it because I would have been happy to keep reading about them. I highly recommend reading Starry Eyes if you love fun summer YA contemporaries.

Release Day Review: Tethered Souls by Beth Flynn

Tethered Souls
Series: Nine Minutes Trilogy Spin-Off
Author: Beth Flynn
Publication Date: May 22, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

My family has secrets. I’m always the good girl, doing what’s necessary to keep my loved ones safe. I’ve kept the darkest secrets from everyone I know. As painful as it is to hold them all inside where they live and gnaw away at me, that’s where they must stay.

I haven’t seen my closest childhood friend, Christian Bear, since I was a teenager—he hasn’t changed a bit. He’s still temperamental and plays by his own rules with the law following two steps behind him.

Christian remembers me. But he doesn’t know the first thing about me anymore. I should’ve shared my feelings with him the day before I moved away with my family, promising him I’d stay in touch. It broke my heart when he didn’t keep his end of the bargain. As a consequence, we haven’t spoken in years. Even though Christian and I have always had undeniable chemistry, I won’t let him shatter my heart a second time.

Christian has shown up in my life again with secrets of his own, and demanding answers. That doesn’t mean I’m willing to give them. He’ll know my secrets when I’m ready.

Our secrets, the risks we’re taking, and the danger he imposes make it impossible to know what our future holds.

Either our tethered souls will bind back together, or our secrets will separate us forever.


Tethered Souls is a very hard book to write a review for. It’s one of those books that has so many twists and revelations that I fear I might say too much. I don’t want to give anything away because it’s always best to discover them on your own. That being said, I’m going to do my best to give Tethered Souls a proper review.

Tethered Souls is a spin-off novel in the Nine Minutes series. To properly appreciate it, you will want to have read the entire Nine Minutes Trilogy and Iron Tiara. While the majority of the story is brand new to the reader, there are nods to the past set up in the previous books. The connections between the past and the present are what makes this book and its surprises special.

Mimi and Christian’s story was pretty much what I was expecting from the start. There were a lot of parallels between their love story and the ones of their parents. Things felt a little redundant in the beginning, but that was part of the magic of the story. History had an interesting (and dare I say fun) way of repeating itself. As their relationship grew, Mimi and Christian’s love story felt more like their own. They had their own situations to overcome, and crazy scenarios to deal with. The more I got to know Mimi and Christian, the more I loved them and their story.

One of the things that I appreciated about this book was that characters from Beth Flynn’s previous books were still heavily involved in Tethered Souls. Some of the best chapters were from characters tied to Mimi and Christian’s lives. I was kind of expecting for some of them to show up, but definitely not in the way they did.

As much as I loved Mimi and Christian’s story, my very favorite thing about this book was the last bonus chapter. WHAT WAS THAT BONUS CHAPTER?!?! It was voiced by an unexpected character and left me scrambling to remember. Ugh! I feel like I need a whole book to explain that one chapter. I feel like I had a memory associated with it, but I couldn’t be sure. I tried searching all of the previous books for the information I desperately wanted and still need. I couldn’t find anything!!! I’m utterly frustrated days after finishing Tethered Souls because I still don’t have any answers. I’m hoping one of my friends will be able to tell me what I’m missing after they read it.

Tethered Souls was great addition to the Nine Minutes family. I love the way it continued to build on the past books in new and exciting ways. The amazing revelations and surprises continue to shock and awe me. I’ll never get enough of these characters and their stories. I can’t wait to see what Beth Flynn has in store for them next!