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!

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Review: Nine by Elizabeth Reyes

Nine
Series: Boyle Heights, #3
Author: Elizabeth Reyes
Publication Date: July 1, 2018
Publisher: Elizabeth Reyes
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

After years of gravitating to douchebag players with no more to offer than a wildly good time and zero promises, single mom Drew has graduated to dating a real man. He’s the responsible, mature kind—willing and able. To offer her and her daughter a real future.

Then along comes Nine.

More like a ten, is her first thought when introduced to the tatted-up, foul-mouthed, unapologetic player. The guy might’ve been her kryptonite five years ago.

But she has a child to think about now.

With every new encounter she has with Nine, she begins to realize there’s so much more to him than just good looks and his bad boy image. She sees a vulnerability in him she never expected. Worse yet, he’s sending out vibes that whisper of promises he’s never made to any girl before.

Is she willing to trade in Mr. Perfect for someone who’s one impetuous decision away from proving that her first impression may have been heartbreakingly spot on?


After having spent a little bit of time with Nine and Drew in Beast, I was excited to read their book. Nine was everything I was expecting it to be. It was classic Elizabeth Reyes. It had her signature alpha male and strong female with a plot that kept me reading.

Nine was the typical single man who wasn’t looking for commitment…until he met Drew. She was his game changer. He didn’t know how to show her he was willing to change his ways for her, but Nine was going to do everything he could to convince her. I loved what softie he was under his tough exterior.

Drew was a woman whose heart and mind were at war. She thought she knew what she needed and wanted, but Nine threw a wrench in her plans. I loved her relationship with her daughter and her ex. It was so sweet. I also loved how her attraction to Nine questioned her beliefs.

Nine and Drew’s journey to love wasn’t simple. It was filled with real life situations and problems. I really enjoyed how their story unraveled. If you’re a fan of the Boyle Heights series, you’re going to love seeing Nine and Drew give in to their temptations.

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.

Series Review: The Bennetts by Kennedy Ryan

When I read my first KENNEDY RYAN book, I knew I was going to go back and read all of her other books. I was finally about to read her THE BENNETTS series. Rather than review them all separately, I am reviewing them all in this post.

When You Are Mine (Book1) and Loving You Always (Book 2)
Publication Dates: January 1, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

(I’m reviewing the first two books together because they’re basically one story.)

Synopsis #1:

Forever is a heartbeat away . . .

Kerris Moreton knows how to make things work. Bounced from foster home to foster home as a kid, she adapted; when opportunity arose, she thrived. Now, about to open her own business and accept a marriage proposal, Kerris is ready to build the life she’s always wanted. The only thing missing? A passionate connection with her would-be fiancé, Cam. Kerris wants to believe that sparks are overrated-until Walsh Bennett lights her up like the Fourth of July.

. . . but what about love?

As one of the East Coast’s most eligible bachelors, Walsh enjoys financial independence, fulfilling work with his family’s nonprofit, and plenty of female attention. But lately he’s been distracted by the one woman he can’t have. Lovely to look at and even sweeter to know, Kerris is the soul mate Walsh never thought he would find. The problem is, his best friend found her first . . .

Synopsis #2:

Kerris Moreton should be the happiest woman in the world: She has a successful business and is about to start the family she’s always wanted. But the man of her dreams-the one whose green eyes see straight into her soul and whose gentle hands make her body hum with pleasure-is not hers.

Each secret moment with Walsh Bennett serves to remind Kerris of what she’s missing. And every stolen hour makes it harder to see her future without him. But being with Walsh would betray a sacred promise and upend her perfect life. When tragedy strikes, the razor’s edge between love and loyalty grows sharper than ever. And Kerris must decide where her heart will fall . . .

REVIEW:

I’m not a big fan of love triangles (especially involving friends/family), so these two books aren’t my favorite Kennedy Ryan has written. I wanted Walsh and Kerris to end up together, but I felt really horrible for Cam. Even when he was being a not so good person, I felt like Cam was betrayed in terrible way. I liked how everything worked out in the end, but I still felt bad for Cam.

One thing I want to mention is that these books are written in third person unlike Ryan’s newer books. That wasn’t my favorite, but I was impressed that she was still able to put the same amount of emotions into her characters and their problems that way. Once I got used to the third person, I barely noticed it.

Overall, When You Are Mine and Loving You Always were good books. The love triangle was done is a way that didn’t leave me stressing out about who Kerris would end up with. Her path always felt right. I adored her, Walsh, and even Cam. I was happy to find out the next book is Cam and Jo’s.


Be Mine Forever (Book 3)
Publication Date: February 3, 2015
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Can a secret crush . . .

Jo Walsh has loved Cameron Mitchell for as long as she can remember. Whether front and center in her life or on the periphery, the tall, brooding artist has made his presence seductively and irresistibly known. But whenever they start to get close, Cam pulls away. Jo’s tired of keeping her feelings in a box Cam is afraid to open. If he wants her, he’ll have to prove it. And if he doesn’t, Jo will need to know the real reason why . . .

. . . become the love of a lifetime?

How do you walk away from your soul mate? Cam wishes he knew. No matter how far he runs from Jo, he can’t resist looking back at the silver eyes that seem to see right through him. But as well as Jo thinks she understands Cam, the dark truth about his past is something she shouldn’t have to handle. Cam’s sure that setting Jo free is the right thing to do. Too bad his heart has other ideas . . .

REVIEW:

I’m still not a fan of the third person, but Be Mine Forever is classic Kennedy Ryan. It’s deep, dark, gritty, and emotional. It’s also sweet. Despite being kind of a jerk, Cam has a heart of gold. He doesn’t want to drag anyone into his problems, especially someone as special to him as Jo. I loved how he let his guard down with her eventually. Cam had some tough things to overcome and I loved that Jo was such a great support. Jo was such a kind hearted person as well as a strong, determined woman. I loved Cam and Jo together. I loved this book.


Until I’m Yours (Book 4)
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

The world knows her face . . .

Mean girl. Goddess. Bitch. Supermodel Sofie Baston has earned those labels . . . yet they don’t scratch the surface of who she really is. Before she can follow her own dreams, Sophie must do her daughterly duty and reel in a “fish” for her father’s business-a tall, brown-eyed entrepreneur who immediately hooks her. He’s a big guy with an even bigger heart . . . but will that heart be open to Sofie once her darkest secret is revealed?

. . . but only one man knows her heart

To Trevor Bishop, Sofie is a beautiful mystery he would gladly spend his life solving. He figures her tough demeanor is armor against a world that’s hurt her too many times. Then Sofie’s deepest wounds are reopened by the powerful, ruthless man who made them. When she musters the courage to take him down, her world shatters. Now Trevor is determined to help Sofie pick up the pieces so they can build a future together. The challenge will be convincing his ice princess that it’s safe to melt in his arms . . .

REVIEW:

This was my favorite book in the series! I’m really surprised because I was not a fan of Sofie from the first two books. She was really horrible, and I found it hard to think she could redeem herself. Getting to know the real Sofie made me fall in love with her. She was as mean as she seemed, but how she ended up being that way made a lot of sense. It also helped that Sofie also had a big heart. Sofie just needed to be loved. She found a special connection with Trevor. I loved him and how he supported her. I’m happy she got a sweet, but emotional story.

Another reason this was my favorite book was because it was in first person!!! The past three books were in third person. It was so much easier to connect with Sofie in this one because of the first person narration. Thank goodness Kennedy Ryan switched things up. I loved seeing how her writing evolved from the first book to the last.


Overall, I enjoyed reading The Bennetts. It was an emotionally charged series. That made it hard to binge read at times, but I’m happy I did. I loved seeing the evolution of the characters throughout the entire series. I also loved seeing Kennedy Ryan’s writing grow.

**One thing I do feel the need to point out is that this series may have some big TRIGGERS for some people. Three of the main characters in this series were raped in the past, so each book has something about that. (You might think that would make the books feel redundant, but it surprisingly didn’t.)

Review: Forgetting You, Remembering Me by Monica James

Forgetting You, Remembering Me
Series: Memories from Yesterday, #2
Author: Monica James
Publication Date: February 28, 2008
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The stunning conclusion to this epic love story that began with Forgetting You, Forgetting Me from International Bestselling author, Monica James.

The truth sets you free…but what happens when everything you believe in changes in the blink of an eye?

All I ever wanted was for my fiancé, Samuel Stone, to remember me. And now that he does…all I want is for him to forget. Through tragedy, I found myself and who I was destined to become. But more importantly, I found who I was destined to be with.

With a single word, Saxon Stone changed my life forever. He taught me how to live again. But now that Samuel remembers and all secrets have been revealed, I’m left to wonder which life I’m meant to lead.

Divided by my head and my heart, I’m torn between duty and desire. Samuel is my past while Saxon is my forever. The choice should be easy.

But love never is…


A while back, I read Monica James’ Forgetting You, Forgetting Me. It began Lucy’s story of losing one brother and then falling in love with another. It was a love triangle that worked for me. I was pleasantly surprised by that, and knew I need to know how everything was going to work out for Lucy. Would she end up with her new love (Saxon) or back with her fiancé who had amnesia and forgot her (Sam)?

Forgetting You, Remembering Me started off exactly where Forgetting You, Forgetting Me left off. Lucy was confronted by a recovering Sam after being caught with Saxon. Lucy in that moment had to make a choice between the brothers. She does, and I loved how she responded. I really enjoyed how things played out shortly after that moment.

Then, things changed. All of a sudden it felt like her personality changed. Lucy was this jealous monster — and that applied with both brothers. Maybe that was part of her remembering herself, but it was uncomfortable to read. Lucy’s out of control feelings brought back the love triangle I was hoping was done and gone.

Nope, it wasn’t. That’s where my enjoyment of the book started to tank. Forgetting You, Remembering Me gave me emotional whiplash. I felt like I had it as bad as Lucy did. I just wanted a resolution to it all a lot quicker than I got.

Things started to get better again for me as the story progressed toward the end. Lucy made a couple of smart decisions that I respected. I also really loved the advice both her mom and best friend gave her.

Unfortunately, that didn’t last very long because I wasn’t a big fan of how the story came full circle and ended. It a little tragic, very emotional, and just way too out there for me. The end had it’s cute moments, but it didn’t win me over.

Overall, Forgetting You, Remember Me was not really for me. I blame it on the love triangle. It was too much for me. Way too much drama. Way too many over the top situations. But if you’re a fan of a good, crazy love triangle, you would most likely love this one.

Release Day Review: The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon

The Smallest Part
Author: Amy Harmon

Publication Date: February 13, 2018
Publisher: Amy Harmon
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

“In the end, only three things matter. How much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” 
– Unknown

It was a big lie. The biggest lie she’d ever told. It reverberated through her head as she said it, ringing eerily, and the girl behind her eyes—the girl who knew the truth—screamed, and her scream echoed along with the lie.
“Are you in love with Noah, Mercedes?” Cora asked. “I mean . . . I know you love him. You’ve been friends forever. We all have. But are you in love with him?”
If it had been anyone else—anyone—Mercedes would have stuck out her chest, folded her skinny arms, and let her feelings be known. She would have claimed him. But it was Cora. Brave, beautiful, broken Cora, and Cora loved Noah too.
So Mercedes lied.
And with that lie, she lost him. With that lie, she sealed her fate.
She was the best friend, the bridesmaid, the godmother, the glue. She was there for the good times and the bad, the ups and the downs, the biggest moments and the smallest parts. And she was there when it all came crashing down.
This is the tale of the girl who didn’t get the guy.


Before I begin, I want to give some advice. If you haven’t read The Law of Moses, I highly recommend reading that book prior to reading The Smallest Part. Noah, one of the main characters, is from that series. It’s not necessarily a have-to situation, but there are scenes and situations that cross over. I felt like those scenes had a greater impact on me while reading The Smallest Part than if I hadn’t read The Law of Moses first. You can still enjoy the book if you haven’t, though. It can be read as a standalone. Now, to get down to business…

The Smallest Part was a very beautiful book. The writing was exactly what I have come to expect from Amy Harmon. There’s a little bit of mystery, a whole lot of love, tons of emotions, and a bunch of inspirational sentences that will be some of my favorite book quotes from here on out. I loved every moment I spent with The Smallest Part — even those that hurt.

The Smallest Part was pieced together in the best way with bits of the past and the present. I felt like I truly got a complete image of what the relationships between Noah and Cora and Mercedes, Noah and Cora, Noah and Mercedes, and Mercedes and Cora were. These friendships felt very real and the dynamics of those relationships are ones I know are out in the real world. Their friendship and love for each other were such an integral part of this story. They were beautiful even when they shouldn’t have been.

Going into The Smallest Part, I already knew I loved Noah Andelin. I knew his story was sad. I knew he was an amazing guy and doctor. What I didn’t realize was that is story could get sadder and that I was going to love him even more after this book. Sometimes he made me angry, but his heart was so good.

Prior to this book, I knew about Cora, but I didn’t know her. I was surprised and, honestly, shocked by her and Noah’s love story. It wasn’t what I had imagined for them. I especially wasn’t expecting the aftermath of it all. I didn’t expect to feel the way about Cora that I did. I don’t want to give away too much in this review because Amy Harmon’s books are always the best going in blind, but Cora might just be her most complex character yet.

As for Mercedes, the girl who didn’t get the guy, I loved her. While I didn’t always like her choices, she was an example of real love and friendship. I loved how she made peace with the choices in her life and tried to do best by herself and others. I also loved that she got a second chance at getting the guy because Noah and Mercedes belonged together.

And that’s it. That’s all I’m going to say other than The Smallest Part is not a book you want to miss.

Review: Moonshot by Alessandra Torre

Moonshot
Author: Alessandra Torre
Publication Date: July 4, 2016
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance, Suspense,

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Baseball isn’t supposed to be a game of life and death…

The summer that Chase Stern entered my life, I was seventeen. The daughter of a legend, the Yankees were my family, their stadium my home, their dugout my workplace. My focus was on the game. Chase… he started out as a distraction. A distraction with sex appeal poured into every inch of his six foot frame. A distraction who played like a god and partied like a devil.

I tried to stay away. I couldn’t.

Then, the team started losing.
Women started dying.
And everything in my world broke apart.


Before I start my review, I have to comment on the cover of Moonshot. It is absolutely gorgeous and it fits the book perfectly. Honestly, it’s what originally drew me to the book. Now, for the insides of it…

Moonshot is the first book I have read by Alessandra Torre. I heard her stuff was twisty and sometimes infuriating, but I still didn’t really have any expectations for it. Moonshot wowed me right from the beginning. I loved Alessandra Torre’s writing! It put a spell on me because, even when I didn’t like the situations going on, I couldn’t put the book down. I had to know how everything was going to play out.

Moonshot kept me on my toes. For the majority of the book, I had no idea what was going on. I knew by the foreshadowing that it couldn’t be as simple of a story as it seemed. Each twist came out of nowhere. Even the ones I might have guessed ahead of time still managed to shock me. I was so impressed by that.

I loved Tyler and Chase. The evolution of both of their characters throughout this book was cool. Their forbidden romance made me uneasy at times, but I could feel their connection and truly believed in their love.

Another thing I enjoyed about Moonshot was the baseball. It was cool how the story was shaped around it. I loved all the little tidbits about it the were included. When I read that some of the information came from Torre’s husband’s time as a ball boy, I was even more impressed. It was just a really great addition.

So if Moonshot was so brilliant, why the 4 stars? Well, it all had to do with the tropes (yes, there were more than just forbidden love) and situations going on in this book. I won’t say exactly what they were because I don’t want to ruin anything, but they were ones I normally wouldn’t choose to read. They made me slightly uncomfortable.

Moonshot was a great introduction to Alessandra Torre’s writing for me. It was such a fascinating story. I’m looking forward to reading more of her novels.

Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Dumplin’
Author: Julie Murphy
Narrator: Eileen Stevens
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

For fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell comes this powerful novel with the most fearless heroine—self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson—from Julie Murphy, the acclaimed author of Side Effects May Vary. With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

Dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom, Willowdean has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American-beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . .  until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.


Hmm…This is going to be a tough review to write. Get ready for a long one.

Dumplin’ started out strongly. I loved Willowdean and her declarations about weight. I imagine anyone who has ever been overweight or self-conscious can relate to many of her thoughts and feelings. But…there were so many things that bothered me.

Willowdean’s negativity about herself and others got to me quickly. Her thoughts made me uncomfortable. Listening to them was rough. Mostly, I hated how she thought about and treated people.

I hated how she discounted Mitch and his feelings. Mitch was a nice guy. He didn’t deserve to be led on by Willowdean. She used him for his companionship, and I think she generally liked him, but she let him think they were more than they were. That made me sad. I don’t get why she didn’t feel a spark for him. I felt like there was a spark between them.

I hated how Willowdean thought about all of her new friends. She looked down on them. I didn’t get why she thought she was so much better than them. They were there for her when she was friendless and supported her. I was happy she learned what great people they were, but her thoughts were hurtful and upset me.

I hated Willowdean and Bo. There were some sweet moments between them, and they were a good couple. I just didn’t like how she thought of herself in relation to Bo. I didn’t understand her embarrassment of being seen with him. I get not liking to be the center of attention, but I figured she was be elated to be seen with someone who was so good-looking. (I only say that due to her low self-confidence and how she talked.) It was like being with Bo made her feel bad about herself, and that’s not healthy. Mitch didn’t have that same effect on her.

Last, I hated the way Willowdean handled everything with Ellen. I completely understood it because I’ve felt the way Willowdean felt at times in my life, but I feel like she should have apologized a whole heck of a lot sooner. Friendship is worth more than how she treated it.

This has been really negative so far, so let me tell you some of the things I loved.

I loved Willowdean’s new friends. They were all good people. They added so much to this story.

I loved Willowdean’s rocky relationship with her mom. I could relate to both Willowdean and her mother. You always want what’s best for your kids — want more for them than you had yourself.

I loved Mitch and all of his wisdom. He was a great human being who deserved more.

I loved Bo’s step-mom. She was a little kooky, but sweet.

I loved the performers and bouncer from the gay bar. Oh, and I can’t leave out Dolly. I loved all the Dolly Parton stuff.

I loved the narrator and the way she voiced Willowdean.

I loved how Elle and Willowdean worked out their friendship.

I loved how everything worked out with the pageant and her mom.

Most of all, I loved the many times Julie Murphy gave incredible thoughts and insight.

Despite all of these great things, reading Dumplin’ made me kind of miserable. Maybe it would have been better to read than listen to it. I don’t know. I felt consumed by Willowdean’s negativity and that was just so hard. I don’t know what else to say about this book. I think it will probably resonate differently for each person who reads it.

Review: Three Blind Dates by Meghan Quinn

“Good Morning Malibu, it’s another beautiful day on the west coast! I’m Noely Clark, your host: and I’m in the market for love…”

When the publicity team of the new local restaurant, Going in Blind, began their search for a hot, local celebrity to promote the wildly popular eatery, they couldn’t have found a better person than me.

Outgoing? Check.
Single? Check.
Open to finding love? Check.

I signed up immediately.

A hopeless romantic with an exceedingly demanding schedule, I’ve found it impossible to find the man of my dreams—so Going in Blind seems too good to be true! That’s until they start setting me up on dates—three very different, very attractive, very distinct blind dates—and only one thing is for certain . . .

I’m in big trouble.

Good Morning Malibu,
I’m Noely Clark, and I have a choice to make.
The question is who will I choose; the suit, the rebel, or the jock

AMAZON | AMAZON PRINT | AMAZON UK | AMAZON AU | AMAZON CA

MY REVIEW

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

Meghan Quinn surprises me with each new book she writes. Her titles are always a little shocking and worrisome, but the way she twists her stories to fit them is phenomenal. I have to remind myself of this every time a new one is released because I get hesitant when I read a title or blurb that has the possibility to make me uncomfortable.

Three Blind Dates had both the blurb and title to scare this romance reader who is not a fan of love triangles (or possible square in this case). I would have passed on the chance to read this book if Meghan Quinn wasn’t the author. I’m so glad I didn’t. Three Blind Dates wasn’t what I expected at all. Yes, the main character Noely goes on three blind dates, but they don’t create the love triangle you’re thinking of. I don’t want to explain things too much because I want you to experience this book yourself. Just know that guys don’t necessarily overlap, and the story is done in a really cool way.

There was so much I loved about Three Blind Dates. Like I said before, it had a format that I really liked. There was Meghan Quinn’s hilarious humor and her crazy, fun characters. It also had a really cool tie in to the movie You’ve Got Mail. I loved how the little references were worked into every aspect of the story.

I do have to admit there were a couple of things that bugged me in Three Blind Dates. They were both near the end of the book. I guess I was just a little shocked by something that occurred at Noely’s work. Then, there was the direction the story went. Things didn’t go as I expected, which was cool, but also surprising. It made me a little unsure of how much I felt about this book at first.

Overall, I enjoyed Three Blind Dates a whole heck of a lot. I loved the blind dates with “The Suit”, “The Rebel”, and “The Jock”. (I may have also been a little partial to one of the male characters, but I refuse to tell you who until you read this book!) I liked how Meghan Quinn spun the story. Most of all, I loved the humor.

Oh! I can’t leave out another thing I loved! Three Blind Dates is actually the FIRST book in a SERIES!!! (If you haven’t read this book, and don’t know who won Noely’s heart, don’t look up the other books! It will ruin the surprise!) I’m so excited to read the rest of the series and find out who steals the other men’s hearts.

I didn’t realize how close I was to the restaurant because I’m ten minutes early. Does that make me seem desperate? No, I chastise myself. It shows that I respect the other person’s time . . . right?

God, dating is the worst. There are so many unspoken rules you have to follow to not look desperate, or to not look like a psycho, or a creep, or horny, or—

“Can I help you, miss?”

Straightening up, I turn toward the hostess stand, which is a beautifully carved piece of wood. Standing behind it is an exotic, tall woman with long black hair, stunning grey eyes, and a massive engagement ring on her hand. Please tell me she got that rock from dating someone in this program.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that happiness for my life is dependent on getting married, but to see a success story in the flesh—particularly for me—would be encouraging.

“Hi, yes, I’m Noely Clark. I have a date at seven tonight with”—I lean forward, feeling silly and whisper—“with WindsorKnot.”

Her smile is kind and reassuring, making me feel a little calmer. “Yes, Miss Clark, I have you here for seven. You’re date hasn’t arrived yet, so can I show you to the bar for a drink while you wait?”

“That would be lovely, thank you.”

With my clutch tucked under my arm, I follow tall, dark, and beautiful to the bar where a very handsome Asian man is standing with a towel draped over his shoulder and a bright grin on his face. He’s wearing a button-up shirt with rolled sleeves, a brown vest covering his chest, which totally channels his inner Justin Timberlake.

“Danny, this is Miss Clark. She has a reservation at seven. Would you be so kind to make her whatever drink she would like?”

“Of course.” He winks at the hostess who presses her warm hand on my arm.

“Enjoy, Miss Clark. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. My name is Veronica, this is Danny, and we will be happy to serve you in any way.” With a parting grin, she moves back to her hostess spot.

Well, she’s nice.

“Miss Clark, please take a seat. What would you like?”

My tight, formfitting red dress makes my hop onto the bar stool a difficult task, but with a pleading prayer to the dress gods and a swift jump, I situate myself, only breaking a minor sweat.

I let out a sigh of relief and place my hands on the bar in front of me, scanning the glitzy bottles of “muscle relaxant.” “Hmm . . . how about a Moscow Mule?”

“Coming right up.” He gets to work and I watch as he magically floats around the bar, pulling the ingredients. “We recently bought new copper mugs, and I’ve been dying to use them.”

“Yeah? Am I the first?”

Winking, he says, “You are.”

If I didn’t know any better, I would say Danny is a bit of a flirt. Either that or he’s super friendly. Or simply made to be a bartender.

From beneath the bar, Danny pulls out a shiny, hammered-copper mug, and I’m instantly taken by the design. So sleek, just like its surroundings. The restaurant, with its white exposed brick, natural wood features, electric colors, and stone tabletops, is sexy, yet inviting. The friendly waitstaff is an absolute bonus. Every table is cornered off in its own spot, never getting too close to the other tables around it, and the mood lighting is on point with dim Edison bulb lights hanging from the ceiling and tabletop candles. I’m feeling the mood.

Despite the welcoming atmosphere, I can’t help but feel nervous, even after my brief exchange with WindsorKnot. There’s something to say about a blind date: the anticipation, the unknown, the knowledge that you’re having dinner with someone to possibly form a romantic relationship. It’s intimidating, but exhilarating all at the same time.

Could this be the last time I ever go on a first date? Will he like me? Will he want to get to know me?

Butterflies float around in my stomach and my cheeks heat as Danny places a napkin in front of me, topped by my drink with a lime slice on the side.

“Here you go, Miss Clark. Please enjoy.”

I smile politely. “Thank you.” When I take a sip, I’m instantly assaulted by the ginger-lime combination. Perfect. “This is fantastic.”

“Good.” Danny winks again and like an old-time bartender, starts drying a tumbler with the towel hanging over his shoulder. Eyeing me for a second, he asks, “A little nervous?”

After taking a sip from my drink, I lick my lips and nod. “Just a little.” I scrunch my nose, squinting ever so slightly. “Is it obvious?”

“Nah, you look pretty chill compared to a lot of blind daters I see come through the door.”

“Oh, I’m sure you see a lot of different reactions to these dates.” I lean forward, the cold wood of the bar cooling my sweaty hands, and whisper, “Any good stories you can tell me?”

Danny chuckles quietly and leans forward himself, taking a look from side to side before answering. “Plenty, but looks like your date just arrived.”

My date just arrived?

The temperature in the room seems to go up a thousand degrees as my body seizes and my shoulders tense. “Oh God, can you see him? Is he hot? What does he look like? Should I turn around? No, I shouldn’t, he would know I was checking him out.” Whispering a little louder, I ask again, “Just tell me, is he cute?”

Danny’s eyes scan over my head and his smile stretches across his face. “That’s for you to judge, not me.” Damn you, Danny.

Oh Christ, I’m not ready.

That’s right, I’m not freaking ready for this.

I get it, I know I said I was ready, that I wanted to do this, that I was all-in, that I wanted to find my soul mate, but now that I’m here, seconds from meeting “the one,” I’m pretty sure I’m going to throw up. Yep, I’m going to throw up. I can feel it rising.

Oh God, I’m going to retch all over him, right on his shoes. I know it. It’s bound to happen.

“Relax, you’re going to have fun,” Danny whispers before he turns to the bottles behind him.

As if the light hairs on my arm can sense it, they stand at attention as the sound of faint footsteps come closer.

Click, click, click. The cement floor leaves zero room for sneaking up on anyone.

Don’t throw up, don’t throw up. Think compliments, think pleasantries, think—

“Hello.”

Smooth molasses drips over my shoulders as the most velvet of voices I’ve ever heard echoes behind me, pulling me away from the death grip on my copper mug and turning me in my seat to face one of the most handsome and polished men I’ve ever seen.

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!

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