Review: 99 Percent Mine (Sally Thorne)

99 Percent Mine
Author: Sally Thorne
Publication Date: January 29, 2019
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Crush: a strong and often short-lived infatuation, particularly for someone beyond your reach…

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that’s inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.


99 Percent Mine was one of my most anticipated releases of 2019. I read Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game last year and adored it. I was bummed when I started reading a lot of reviews saying this book didn’t even compare to The Hating Game. Despite the negative hype, I decided to read 99 Percent Mine anyways.

I have to admit that 99 Percent Mine didn’t start off in the best way. Darcy, the main character, rubbed me the wrong way immediately. The vibe she gave off was not a good one. Darcy’s very brash and bitter. It was hard to connect to her for a large part of the story because her motivations are completely unclear. Even when they are, they seem juvenile. She always seems to be punishing herself in negative ways.

When Tom, Darcy’s childhood friend, shows up things start to get even more confusing. I don’t understand the dynamic between them. There’s not really much to tell me what happened between them in the past. It takes a while to learn that information, and when I finally do, I have no clue why Tom is attracted to prickly Darcy. He is this nice, quiet guy. If Darcy is a jalapeno pepper, Tom is milk.

Another negative factor in 99 Percent Mine is Jamie. Jamie is Darcy’s twin brother. He’s a complete jerk. He is so horrible. Darcy acts like he’s the better person, but he’s not. Jamie makes Darcy look less bitter and I actually felt bad for her when it came to him.

The entire first half of this book was filled with negative emotions and characters. I wasn’t having a great time reading, but I was curious enough to find out what made these characters tick. I’m glad I kept reading because the second half of the book was much better than the first.

I was surprised to find Darcy growing on me. I think that can be attributed to the revelations about her life, her illness, and her friendships. Once I understood her, she became more palatable. I wish some of the information would have been revealed early on. I also found myself liking Tom and Darcy’s dynamic. I could finally see what drew them to each other. I loved Darcy’s friendship with Truly and would have liked seeing more than that. I even, at the very end, started to like Jamie.

99 Percent Mine started out rough, but it ended up winning me over in the end. It wasn’t my favorite book, but I didn’t hate it. It’s one that if you push through the awkward, uncomfortable beginning, you will find a sweet love story and a TON of character growth. My advice going into reading it would be to go in with lower expectations (if you have read The Hating Game) and not give up on it too soon.

Review: I Owe You One (Sophia Kinsella)

I Owe You One
Author: Sophia Kinsella
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Publisher: Dial Press
Genre: Romance, Fiction, Contemporary, Chick Lit/Women’s Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella, an irresistible story of love and empowerment about a young woman with a complicated family, a handsome man who might be “the one,” and an IOU that changes everything

Fixie Farr has always lived by her father’s motto: “Family first.” But since her dad passed away, leaving his charming housewares store in the hands of his wife and children, Fixie spends all her time picking up the slack from her siblings instead of striking out on her own. The way Fixie sees it, if she doesn’t take care of her father’s legacy, who will? It’s simply not in her nature to say no to people.

So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees—she ends up saving it from certain disaster. Turns out the computer’s owner is an investment manager. To thank Fixie for her quick thinking, Sebastian scribbles an IOU on a coffee sleeve and attaches his business card. But Fixie laughs it off—she’d never actually claim an IOU from a stranger. Would she?

Then Fixie’s childhood crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and his lack of a profession pushes all of Fixie’s buttons. She wants nothing for herself—but she’d love Seb to give Ryan a job. And Seb agrees, until the tables are turned once more and a new series of IOUs between Seb and Fixie—from small favors to life-changing moments—ensues. Soon Fixie, Ms. Fixit for everyone else, is torn between her family and the life she really wants. Does she have the courage to take a stand? Will she finally grab the life, and love, she really wants?


Sophie Kinsella has been writing books for years, but I Owe You One is the first I have picked up. My first impression wasn’t very positive. Fixie immediately had me feeling some emotions I didn’t enjoy. She was high sting and wound tight. The tension inside of her transferred to me. I thought, “Oh no.” I was worried I was going to struggle through the book feeling on edge and uncomfortable. That was just an initial reaction. As I continued to read past the first chapter, Fixie grew on me. Once I understood the reasons behind her disposition, I could relax and roll with her personality. I began to truly enjoy the story.

Fixie was a doormat. There was no one she stood up to. I wanted to smack her when it came to Ryan, Jake, and Nicole. Fixie gave and gave and gave. The happiness of those around her mattered more than her own. It was easy to identify with that. I think we have probably all been there at some point in our lives. I know I have. I Owe You One was really about Fixie coming into her own and learning how to say what needed to be said and do what needed to be done. I loved the evolution she went through. I am happy to say that I ended up loving her character way more than I expected to in the beginning.

The other characters in this story were perfect. Ryan was hideous and irredeemable. Jake was completely frustrating in his antics. Nicole…Oh my goodness. The way her sentences trailed off was hilarious. Her helplessness combined with her getting in touch with her personal happiness was over the top fun. I loved Fixie’s mom. She was so supportive and loving.

And then there was Seb. Seb was this great surprise. His IOU to Fixie added a cool layer to the story. It made all sorts of things happen. Seb helped Fixie grow in some of the best ways. I wish I would have gotten more of him.

I Owe You One was a delightful story. I ended up truly loving it. I am so happy that I didn’t give up reading it after my initial assessment of Fixie. She grew on me in the best of ways. Her story was so important and a good reminder to always be true to yourself.

Mini Reviews: A Bunch of Them!

I haven’t been in the mood to write lengthy reviews lately, but I wanted to be able to share some of the I’ve read lately. That means that  today you’re getting a bunch of mini reviews from me! The format is going to be a little different from my normal mini reviews because of the number of them. You can find more information by clicking on the title of each book which will link to the Goodreads page for that book.  Many of these books are off of my TBR. Here we go!


Hired
Author: Zoey Castile

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

I don’t know…I feel like I should have liked this one more than I did. I was a big fan of the first book in the series, but Hired fell flat for me. It took me a really long time to become invested in the story. Aiden and Faith were both interesting characters enough on their own. I loved that they were an interracial couple and all of the different social issues the author delved into. I just didn’t love their relationship until like 75% into the book. They just didn’t have a big enough spark or something. I was bored too much with the majority of the book. Sad, but true. I’m still planning on reading the next book in the series because I do think the author is talented. This one just wasn’t for me.

Play to Win
Author: Kelly Jamieson

Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

I love a Kelly Jamieson hockey romance, and I was so excited to get to read the first book in this new series. It had everything I love about Jamieson’s books: gripping writing, two amazing characters, a fun plot, and a love story to swoon over. The only thing that bothered me at times were the myriad of new characters. The Wynn dynasty is a large on and keeping everyone straight was tough. There was a helpful family tree at the beginning, but that’s kind of a pain to flip to on a Kindle version. I’m sure as the series goes on I’ll get to know everyone better. I also wasn’t sure by the end of the book who the next one was going to be about. There were kind of two options. I would be fine with either, though. Overall, I loved reading this book and I’m happy Jamieson is giving us more hockey romance.


For Emery
Author: J. Nathan

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

For Emery is the fourth book in the For You series. It can be read as a standalone novel, but some of Grady’s personality and character traits are woven throughout the series. That is important because Emery is from further back in Grady’s past and his previous behavior is a reflection of their relationship. Emery was a great match for Grady. Her story was actually more interesting to me than his. I actually didn’t fall quite in love with Grady’s character as I hoped. There were just some times that I didn’t like him and that made me question how much I liked Emery’s relationship with him. Overall, it was a good romance. I loved how it ended.

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told
Authors: Meghan Mullally, Nick Offerman

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

This is probably one of my favorite celebrity memoirs ever. If I had to describe it in one word it would be fun. That’s what the entire listening experience is. These two were candid, funny, and a good time to listen to. If you like either of these two actors, you will enjoy this book. I highly recommend the audio version so you can listen to them tell their stories — they even describe the pictures in the book for you so that you’re not missing out on anything.


Love the One You’re With
Author: Lauren Layne

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

I have so many reasons to be happy I finally read Love the One You’re With. It’s my last book in this series to read, my last LL book that I hadn’t read yet, and it’s the book that’s been on my Goodreads TBR the longest! Now those are all great reasons, but the biggest reason I’m happy I finally read this book was because I loved it. Grace and Jake were so much fun! They got up to some crazy antics and I loved how entertaining it all was. I also loved Grace and Jake together. They made a sweet couple.


Now That You Mention It
Author: Kristan Higgins

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

What I want to know is why did I wait so long to read this book? I have loved every single Kristan Higgins book I’ve ever read. I’m so mad that I put this one off because it was a great book about healing. Nora has been through several tough times in her life. The latest one sends her home to an island in Maine. There she not only confronts her present situation, but her past and her possible future. Kristan Higgins’s writing was amazing as always. I loved all of the quirky characters and things that happened to get Nora where she needed to be.

Review: How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

How to Walk Away
Author: Katherine Center
Narrator: Thérèse Plummer
Publication Date: May 15, 2018
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From the author of Happiness for Beginners comes an unforgettable love story about finding joy even in the darkest of circumstances.

Margaret Jacobsen has a bright future ahead of her: a fiancé she adores, her dream job, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in one tumultuous moment .

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Margaret must figure out how to move forward on her own terms while facing long-held family secrets, devastating heartbreak, and the idea that love might find her in the last place she would ever expect.

How to Walk Away is Katherine Center at her very best: an utterly charming, hopeful, and romantic novel that will capture reader’s hearts with every page.


How to Walk Away has been on my radar since it was released earlier this year. Pretty much everyone has been raving about it. I was slightly hesitant to read it because I thought it might make me very sad, and I wasn’t in the mood to feel that way. Despite my reservations, I went ahead and requested the audiobook from my library. I am so happy I did! I don’t think I’ve ever had 10+ hours of audio feel like it went so fast before. Between the writing and the narrator, this book was pure magic.

How to Walk Away is my new favorite book of 2018. It deserves all the awards it could possibly get. That’s high praise with all the amazing book releases this year. I was so impressed with Katherine Center’s writing. Her words made me feel. I was sad, happy, depressed, excited… She took me on a journey with Margaret that was emotional and special. I was surprised by how I felt inspired and happy even when I was sad and slightly depressed by what was going on in the story. There were moments that brought me to tears, but more often I was smiling. Margaret’s story wasn’t as good as the hype surrounding it. IT WAS BETTER.

With only one book read by Katherine Center, she has already become one of my new favorite authors. I will for sure be going back to read her earlier books. I highly recommend How to Walk Away. It’s perfect for readers who enjoy books like Me Before You, Bright Side, and really anyone who just loves beautifully written novels.

Review: The Sweet Gum Tree by Katherine Allred

The Sweet Gum Tree
Author: Katherine Allread
Publication Date: May 12, 2005
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction, New Adult, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Sweet tea, corn bread, and soup beans—everyday fare for eight-year-old Alix French, the precocious darling of a respected southern family. But nothing was ordinary about the day she met ten-year-old Nick Anderson, a boy from the wrong side of town. Armed with only a tin of bee balm and steely determination, Alix treats the raw evidence of a recent beating that mars his back, an act that changes both of their lives forever.

Through childhood disasters and teenage woes they cling together as friendship turns to love. The future looks rosy until the fateful night when Frank Anderson, Nick’s abusive father, is shot to death in his filthy trailer.

Suddenly, Nick is gone—leaving Alix alone, confused and pregnant. For the next fifteen years she wrestles with the pain of Nick’s abandonment, a bad marriage, her family and friends. But finally, she’s starting to get her life back together. Her divorce is almost final, her business is booming, and she’s content if not happy—until the day she looks up and sees Nick standing across the counter. He’s back…and he’s not alone.

Once again Alix is plunged into turmoil and pain as Nick tries to win her love, something she resists with all her strength. Only one thing might break the protective wall she’s built around her emotions—the truth about Frank Anderson’s death. But when that truth comes out and those walls crumble, neither Alix nor Nick is prepared for the emotional explosion that could destroy as well as heal.


The Sweet Gum Tree is not a book that I normally would have picked up. Honestly, the cover and title wouldn’t have appealed to me. Luckily, I read a review of it by Stephanie. Her review made The Sweet Gum Tree sound so interesting. I decided I wanted to read it and requested it from my local library. I’m so happy I did! I ended up really enjoying this book. I didn’t want to put it down. I read it one night, and stayed up super late to finish it.
When I first started reading The Sweet Gum Tree, I wondered what I was getting myself into. While the story was written in my favorite first person narration, it was told straight to me by the main character Alix rather than experiencing it with her. That felt really odd to me. I got used to it and kind of forgot about it. It didn’t ruin the book for me.

I loved the setting of The Sweet Gum Tree. I’m a big fan of books set in the southern United States. This one was even more special with it being set in a small town. I could easily imagine how closely tied together all of the characters were.

I really liked how the story started when Alix was a young girl and grew with her until adulthood. This was done in a great way. I got just enough of her story at important times in her life to understand how she ended up where she was an adult. I loved seeing how her relationship with Nick in all those years changed Alix. I adored Alex and Nick’s love for each other. It was so sweet and it grew from a very special friendship.

What drove me nuts about The Sweet Gum Tree was the lack of communication between the characters. That caused the majority of the problems, and showed just how immature the characters were — even into adulthood. Another thing that was a little frustrating was all the cheating involved in the story. It wasn’t described, so that wasn’t the problem. It was the way that the characters all reacted to it. It seemed like no big deal and was easily forgiven. That was just so odd.

Overall, The Sweet Gum Tree was a surprisingly addictive read. It wasn’t perfect in my eyes, but that didn’t matter. It drew me in, kept my attention, and left me satisfied in the end. If you’re a fan of women’s fiction, books set in the South, or books set in a small town, you might want to give The Sweet Gum Tree a try. It’s a special book.

Review: Stacking the Deck by C.L. Collier

Stacking the Deck
Series: Discovering Us, #1
Author: C.L. Collier
Publication Date: August 27, 2018
Publisher: C.L. Collier LLC
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Brooke:
I’m convinced happily ever after is a myth. Discovering my husband’s secrets has given me no choice but to take my daughter and start over. Unfortunately, that means living with my parents again. Just when I think life has stacked the deck against me, I run into Ryan. It’s been over a decade, but old feelings quickly reignite. The chemistry between Ryan and me is undeniable, and I’m left wondering if this is the way things were always meant to be.

Ryan:
After being a Marine for fourteen years, I move home to start a business with my brother. The last person I expect to walk through the door is the woman I let go. She’s the one I’ve never forgotten, and thoughts of her kept me going all these years. Now I have the chance to prove my worth to her, but will the odds be stacked against us?


Stacking the Deck is the first book in C.L. Collier’s new Discovering Us series. It’s a second chance romance between high school sweethearts, Brooke and Ryan. They haven’t seen each other since they broke up ten years ago when Brooke went to college and Ryan went to the Marines. Each went their separate ways. Brooke ended up married and had a baby. Ryan spent all those years traveling with the Marine’s. After an unexpected betrayal, Brooke has divorced and moved home to live with her parents. Ryan has also recently returned home to open a gym with his brother. When Brooke and Ryan run into each other for the first time in years, neither of them can deny the spark is still there between them.

This the fourth book C.L. Collier has written and it’s the fourth book of hers I’ve read. With each book I have enjoyed seeing her writing grow and blossom. Each book has been better than the last. I really enjoyed Stacking the Deck. The story felt real, like one that could be happening to someone I know.

Brooke and Ryan were great characters. Brooke was a strong woman. I was surprised by how she wasn’t mopey. Her life had exploded, and while she was upset about it, she was determined to make the best of things. I liked how positive her character felt. She took things at her own pace and did what was right for herself and her daughter. Ryan was a winner. He was basically perfect. Ryan had a few flaws, but they weren’t anything that couldn’t be overlooked. I especially loved how Ryan bonded with Brooke’s daughter. I loved what a great support system he was for Brooke and how he wanted to do things right by her and Ellie.  Brooke and Ryan truly had something special together. I could feel the spark they shared.

This book wasn’t just a romance, though. It’s also the story of Brooke coming to terms with her ex-husbands unexpected betrayal and learning to move on. I liked the ups and downs she went through on her journey of reclaiming her life. I actually would have liked to see more of those moments. I am still curious about what went on between the prologue and the first chapter. I was interested in how she got through the tougher times. To go deeper into this, there were times Brooke was telling the reader about something going on or something she went through and it would have been higher impact for the reader if she was experiencing it in the story rather than telling about it. That is probably more a personal reading preferences than anything. I like to experience all the emotional stuff with a character while reading.

Overall, I truly enjoyed reading Stacking the Deck. It was a fun, sweet second chance romance involving high school sweethearts.

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: What I Never Knew I Wanted by C.L. Collier

What I Never Knew I Wanted
Series: What I Never Knew, #2
Author: C.L. Collier
Publication Date: April 2, 2018
Publisher: C.L. Collier LLC
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

When I went to California to fulfill my mom’s last wishes, I got more than I bargained for. Not only did I meet family I never knew I had, I also met Dax. Our long distance relationship hasn’t been easy, but when tragedy strikes, my priorities become clearly defined. My mom may be gone, but as I rush to the one I love, her dreams for my future replay on a loop through my mind. She wanted me to open my heart to love and have a family of my own. Now, I don’t know if I’ll ever get that chance.


What I Never Knew I Wanted is the conclusion to Amanda’s story that began in What I Never Knew. (In order to enjoy this book to the fullest, you will want to read that book first.) Amanda is reeling from the shock she received at the end of the first book. In this book, she deals with the stress of what happened. Amanda’s also moved on from focusing on her mother’s death to navigating what it means to be in a relationship with Dax. Amanda has some tough decisions to make, and more surprises along the way make things even more difficult. The one thing that holds Amanda together is Dax’s love.

I really enjoyed What I Never Knew I Wanted. While the last book felt more like women’s fiction, this one felt more like a contemporary romance. It still had moments of reflection on Amanda’s mother, but it was more about Amanda and Dax. I loved that. Amanda and Dax’s romance was so sweet. I loved how they navigated a long distance romance and made each other a priority. They faced some tough hurdles, but were made stronger by them.

The only thing that threw me off a bit in What I Never Knew I Wanted was the ending. It was a little abrupt. I was waiting for another big dramatic moment, but it didn’t come. All of a sudden I arrived at the epilogue. It wasn’t that I didn’t like that, I just wasn’t expecting it. I think that’s because I know there is a third book. I thought that one was going to be about Amanda and Dax, but maybe it will be about another couple? (I’m hoping Laura and Chris!) I did love how the book ended, though. Amanda and Dax’s happily ever after was perfect.

Review: What I Never Knew by C.L. Collier

What I Never Knew
Series: What I Never Knew, #1
Author: C.L. Collier
Publication Date: March 15, 2018
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

I told myself I was done with men. After a string of bad relationships, then the devastation of losing my mom to cancer, I knew life would never be the same.

Losing my mom was hard enough, but finding out she had lied to me my entire life has rocked me to the core. Even still, I carry out her last wishes and return to her hometown in California.

I was expecting to learn about my mom’s life and extended family, but of course, it’s never that simple. My world changes when I meet Dax, and he makes me question everything.

I have to return home to Seattle, but I also have to make a choice. I swore I was done with relationships and I was happy being single, but there’s something about Dax that I don’t want to leave behind.


I am very excited and proud to introduce to you a new author today. Her name is CL Collier, and I have a feeling her name is one you’ll be hearing in upcoming years. CL and I went to school together during our teen years. She’s someone I’ve reconnected with as an adult over Facebook by noticing we have some favorite authors in common. When I learned she was writing a novel, I wanted to read it.

Normally, I would be super hesitant to read a book by an author I grew up with. There’s always that niggling feeling in the back of your head saying, “What if I don’t like it?” I didn’t have that hesitation with CL’s book. I think that love of the same authors thing gave me faith in her ability to tell a story I would like to hear. My instincts totally paid off because I really enjoyed What I Never Knew.

What I Never Knew was the story of woman discovering her mother’s past after her death. Thirty-eight year old Amanda was incredibly close to her mother prior to her death. When a journal her mother wrote for Amanda is given to her after her mother’s death, Amanda is shocked to find out her mother had a secret past. Determined to get to know her mother better, Amanda departs on a journey to her mother’s hometown. Her mother’s past isn’t the only thing that awaits Amanda on her journey. Amanda might just find love when she least expects it.

Like I said above, I really enjoyed What I Never Knew. For a first novel, the writing was impressive. I’ve read first novels where the writing felt bogged down or not as smooth as a seasoned author. I didn’t feel that way with What I Never Knew. I was pleased at how quickly I was pulled into Amanda’s story, and how well it flowed.

Amanda was an interesting character. She was a single woman who taught for a living. She wasn’t pining over finding a man or having a family. The only disappointment Amanda felt was of losing her mother. Even in grief, Amanda was a strong woman. I loved that she was content in her life the way it was. I also loved the curiosity she had regarding her mother’s previous life. I could really identify with that. There’s so much we never know about our own parents.

Dax was actually my favorite character in What I Never Knew. For some reason, I really loved reading from his perspective. It was a little more relaxed than Amanda’s. I could understand her pull to him by reading his thoughts and actions. He swept me off my feet while he was sweeping Amanda off hers.

One of my favorite things about What I Never Knew were the friendships in it. Amanda had an amazing support system. Laura and Krista were so different, but each had a role in Amanda’s life. They lifted her up when she needed it, and she did the same for them. I loved reading their shared experiences. It made me think of my own special, lifelong friendships.

I only had a couple of little frustrations with What I Never Knew. First, I would have loved for Amanda’s mom’s secrets to be even more juicy, even more salacious. They were good, but I wanted more drama. Maybe I just needed the secrets to be described even more. Second, I felt for a minute like I missed a turning point in Dax and Amanda’s relationship. Amanda reacted to something heavily, and it caught me off guard. I don’t know if it was something I personally missed or if things just jumped in time and circumstance faster than I was prepared for.

Another thing I wasn’t prepared for was the ending! It was great! I was so shocked! I didn’t expect it to end when it did or in the way it did. What I Never Knew definitely left me hungering for more! I’m so excited to find out where this story goes in the next book!

What I Never Knew was a great début novel. If you’re a fan of women’s fiction with a heavy dose of romance, What I Never Knew would be right up your alley. CL Collier’s storytelling reminds me a bit of Kristan Higgins’ newer novels or somewhat of Kristin Hannah’s early novels about family relationships and love. It was filled with love, friendship, and family.

BUY NOW!

Review: Dragonfly Wishes by Penny Harmon

Dragonfly Wishes
Author: Penny Harmon
Publication Date: June 23, 2017
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Note: I received this book from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Callie Daniel’s had it all – a handsome and loyal husband – a sweet and loving son. When death comes knocking at the door twice and they are both taken from her, Callie is suddenly struggling to find a reason to continue with her own life.

During an accidental overdose, she discovers that maybe her son is not lost to her forever when she sees a vision and her journey to understand what happens after death takes top priority.

In the middle of Callie’s quest to deal with her grief, she uncovers a secret that she just can’t ignore. These secrets lead her on a journey to understanding more about life than she ever expected to know.


Dragonfly Wishes is the story of woman struggling with the grief and how she begins to overcome it. During treatment of her seven-year old son’s leukemia, Callie tragically loses her husband in a car accident. She pushes through to help her son heal. When her son loses his fight, Callie is sent spiraling into depression. She doesn’t know how to go on until her son Cooper inspires her from the grave. From that moment on, Callie goes on a journey of healing.

This is the first book I’ve read by Penny Harmon and I was impressed. Her story was very emotional and felt like it realistically covered Callie’s stages of grief. I don’t really want to imagine going through losing both my spouse and child, but Penny Harmon made it easy to put myself in Callie’s place. Her pain was my pain. While Dragonfly Wishes was uncomfortable at times, it was also inspirational. It showed there is always hope in the darkest of times.

My only problem with Dragonfly Wishes was the editing of it. This may sound nitpicky, but there were several writing errors throughout the book. They were words that weren’t the right words for the sentence. They popped out at me every time I came across them.

Overall, I really enjoyed Dragonfly Wishes. It was a great story about grief and reclaiming life.