Book Review, Books, Romance

Review of The Magnolia Chronicles: Adventures in Modern Dating by Kate Canterbary

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5 of 5 funny and relatable stars

I can tell how good a book is by how many times I use the highlight feature on my Kindle. For this book, I highlighted 32 passages. 32! I think it’s probably a record! And these were just the passages that resonated with me. If I also highlighted all the times that this book made me laugh out loud, that number would be much higher.

I’ve only read a few of Kate Canterbary’s books, and I’ve enjoyed them all, but I think this is my favorite so far. It was originally released in her newsletter as a serial, but I have zero patience, so I waited until it was released as an entire book before I read it. I am currently in the same boat as Magnolia was at the beginning of the book: trying to find a good man. As she says at one point, “It shouldn’t be this difficult.” And yet, it is! Every woman (and man) has their dating horror stories, and many of Magnolia’s made me laugh out loud, and others made me cringe while also being grateful I haven’t had to deal with the men she that had!

Of course, the story delves a bit into the fantasy realm, when she finds not one, but TWO good men to date, and they are are ok with her dating both of them at the same time. (But I guess that’s why we read, to escape reality! 🙂 ) I don’t hold this against her, though, because given the opportunity, I’m sure I’d do the same thing!

The book is so cleverly written (many chapters begin with the words “my date was…” ), and so funny, (“The weekend rolled around but I forgot all about baking. It was probably a blessing in disguise since my sweet breads only rose about half of the time. That seemed like a fair statement on my ability to function as an adult too: fifty percent meeting expectations, fifty percent blobbing around like thick, doughy uselessness.”) and so relatable (“dating was draining my soul.”)

I also enjoy that her books are based in Boston, unlike so many stories that take place in New York. Don’t get me wrong, I love NYC, but the change in venue is refreshing. There’s just something so fun about a woman who has a tiny dog named Gronk! I’ve read some other reviews, and one problem some readers had with it is the lack of actual sexy times, which KC is VERY good at writing. I don’t think this book suffered from their omission, but I was surprised by it.

I am looking forward to reading it again, and I’ve also been inspired to read the rest of the Walsh series. (I’ve only read the first one, Underneath It All, and part of the second, The Space Between, as well as a separate standalone, Coastal Elite, which is actually the KC book that started it all for me!)

Buy The Magnolia Chronicles

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Book Review, Books, New Release, Romance, Uncategorized

Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

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4 of 5 original stars

I’ve blogged about my love for books by Christina Lauren in the past. I try to read their new ones as soon as they come out. I was able to snag this book pretty quickly at my library and dove into it right away. It’s an Enemies-to-Lovers story, with a bit of Vacation Fling thrown in for good measure. Enemies-to-Lovers is not my favorite trope, but since it was a CL book, I knew that I would enjoy it. And I was right.

The story begins at the wedding of Olive’s twin sister and Ethan’s brother, where suddenly the entire wedding party comes down with food poisoning, save Olive and Ethan. Since the bride and groom can’t go on their honeymoon to Maui, they insist that Olive and Ethan go instead. The problem is, they can’t stand each other, but how can they pass up a free trip to Hawaii? (It is free for Olive and Ethan, but was also free for Olive’s sister, Ami, who won it in a contest. But that’s a whole different part of the story!) They go on the trip, and are determined to keep to themselves and avoid each other at all costs, but of course, that’s not the way things end up.

If you’ve never read a CL book, I’m here to tell you that these two ladies write funny, funny stuff. I read most of this book on a bus full of middle school choir students on the way to/from an amusement park, and I kept chuckling and snorting loudly, and I do not apologize for that! My favorite ongoing joke is that at the beginning, Ethan pretends he doesn’t know Olive’s name, even though they’ve known each other for years, and calls her “Olivia” every time he sees her. But once they have gotten to know each other a little better, and like each other a little more, the two of them start calling each other by different names as more of a term of endearment than a show of disrespect. It made me laugh out loud every time. Olive and Ami’s huge, all-up-in-their-business family adds lots of hilarity, as well.

I’ve stated before that I often have an issue with the conflict a couple goes through in romance novels. A lot of the time, it arises over a stupid misunderstanding, or something that one person overhears, then proceeds to make an incorrect assumption. The conflict that Olive and Ethan go through is not only completely understandable, it’s also entirely unique to this story. (That’s the thing about a CL book: even if the trope is familiar, their treatment of it is one of a kind.) You can empathize with both characters, and see why each of them feels the way they do, and can’t figure out how the situation is going to be resolved. Again, being a CL book, I would be very surprised if ANYONE was able to guess their path to resolution!

If I’d been reading the kindle version, I would have been highlighting the crap of out this book. That’s how I know it’s an excellent story. If it were written by any other author/s, this book would have deserved 5 stars. But CL has ruined me for other books, and even their own work, as far as ratings go. It has to be a book like Roomies or Love and Other Words to earn a 5-star rating from me. While this book was original and funny, it didn’t grab at my emotions like the two aforementioned books did, (although I did cry a couple of times at the end.)

Bekka and I each have gotten an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of Christina Lauren’s next book, Twice in a Blue Moon, which isn’t out until October. She’s read it already, and after I’ve read my copy, we will do a dual review. Looking forward to that!

Purchase The Unhoneymooners

Book Review, Romance

Book Review: The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms

4 Stars

After popping up on book recommendations, I decided to try this one. I really liked this book! I connected with many of the inner thoughts she presented. The writing was witty and moved along. Many references to familiar NYC locales that make it fun to read. Amy’s story is funny and entertaining yet pensive at the same time. Mom’s all over will relate to this one. Add it to your summer TBR!

**Moderate Spoilers**
Amy is a mother of two children and an estranged husband. When he returns after three years to connect with his children, offering to take them for the summer, Amy reluctantly agrees and sets off to have a summer to herself in NYC. She starts her trip with a librarian conference (it’s way more exciting that you’d think), meets lots of people, including the Hot Librarian, and gets a makeover.

In the end she rediscovers herself and learns that it’s healthy to take time away. The ending was a twist and ended with a happy resolution.

Here is a passage that I just loved:

“Like most good-looking things, my house is high maintenance. My house makes it so I never, ever have any extra money. If my house starts to notice I’ve been squirreling away a hundred dollars here or there to try to get my kids to a national park for a week, the house breaks something. I think it has abandonment issues.”

Uncategorized

Review of The Promise of Us, Sanctuary Sound #2 by Jamie Beck

This is the second in the Sanctuary Sound series about three childhood friends. I enjoyed this story, though it took a while for me to get into it. If I had to classify it, I’d say it was a friends-to-enemies-to-lovers book. I love a couple with a complicated history!

Logan is the big brother of Claire’s childhood friend, Peyton, and she has had a crush on him since the moment she laid eyes on him. After Claire and Peyton’s relationship suffers insurmountable damage, it seems that Claire and Logan’s will, too. But this story is about how they make their way back to each other, and it’s both beautifully written and has its laugh out loud moments. Jamie Beck does it again.

Buy The Promise of Us on Amazon or read for free in Kindle Unlimited

Book Review, Books, New Release, Romance

Review: Well Suited, Red Lipstick Coalition #4 by Staci Hart

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5 out of 5 interesting and unusual stars

I’ve been reading a lot lately, but haven’t reviewed a book in quite a while. My review of Midnight Valentine doesn’t really count, because I basically copied and pasted my initial review to the blog, so there was no original thought required. 🙂

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Staci Hart is an exceptional writer, and I’ve enjoyed every one of her books. The whole Red Lipstick Coalition series is delightful and charming and fun. I love books that take place in New York City. At one point, Theo takes a walk through the city, and I could see all the places in my mind’s eye.

Each book can be read as a standalone, if you’re not ready to invest the time in an entire series. (Naturally, I think once you’ve read one, you’ll want to read them all!) My favorite is still book 2, Player, because it’s about Broadway musicians, but this fourth book is wonderful. Of course, by the final book in a series, you know the supporting characters really well, having already read their stories. It’s lovely to see Val and Sam, Rin and Court, and Amelia and Tommy play a role in the telling of the coming together of Katherine and Theo.

We’ve known Katherine since book 1, Piece of Work, and she is, as they say, a quirky bird. (Probably not coincidentally, Staci Hart is known as @imaquirkybird on Twitter!) Katherine likes rules, and order. She likes to make plans, and she’s happiest when things go according to her plans! I had a bit of trouble relating to her in the first three books, because she can be a little off-putting, what with her spouting facts and speaking in a very clinical manner, but I can really relate to this aspect of her personality.  I, too, like when things go the way I’ve planned them!

You can imagine that she’s thrown for a bit of a loop when she discovers that she’s unexpectedly pregnant by the brother of her friend Amelia’s husband, with whom she had a one-night stand. She doesn’t believe in love and relationships, but she wants to give her baby the best possible life, so she and Theo enter into a sort of understanding, complete with rules and expectations.

If you’ve ever been pregnant, you know how everything feels completely out of your control: your body, your emotions, your circumstances, and your best-laid plans. Katherine feels this way, and she really doesn’t like it! It was quite funny to read about how much she had to change the way she looked at the world, and see her frustration with having to learn to let go of the rules and expectations she had put on herself, her life, and her relationship with Theo.

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Speaking of Theo, I think he’s my favorite of the RLC heroes. I was a little jealous of Katherine, reading about how he anticipated her every need and cared for her and their unborn baby with such devotion, putting up with her quirks and all of the disorder that pregnancy brought to Katherine’s orderly emotions. He was exactly what “Kate”, as he and only he is allowed to call her, needed, even if she couldn’t see it.

Every couple has its moment of difficulty, and I often find myself getting stressed out as I see it approaching. (Sometimes I have to stop reading altogether for a little while!) I really hate when the cause is something stupid, like a disagreement or a misunderstanding which could have been avoided if the couple had simply talked to each other. When Kate and Theo reach this point in their story, it makes complete sense, because they really are two very different people with completely separate outlooks on love and relationships; and I wasn’t anxious about the cause or whether or not they would be able make their way back to each other. I was certain that they would, and not in a “it’s a romance book, and the fourth in a series, no less; of course they’re going to make up!” It’s because these two characters were so perfectly written, that it would not have made sense for them to end up any other way, and I trusted Staci Hart to get them there.

Buy Well Suited on Amazon, or read for free through Kindle Unlimited

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Books, New Release, Romance, Uncategorized

New Release: Undeniable by Melanie Harlow

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“Whoa. Undeniable is one of my top reads! Sizzling
chemistry, off the charts sexual tension and all the feels I’ve come to expect with a Melanie
Harlow romance!”- Ilsa Madden-Mills, Wall Street Journal bestselling author

Undeniable, an all-new sexy
standalone second chance romance from
USA
Today
bestselling author Melanie Harlow, is
available now!

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When we were eleven, Oliver
Ford Pemberton dared me to jump off a barn roof. He said you couldn’t break a leg from a 12-
foot-jump.

He lied.

(You can also break a collarbone,
which served him right as far as I was concerned.)

I wish I could say it was the last
dare I ever took from him, the last bet I ever made with him, the last time I ever trusted Oliver
Ford Pemberton.

But it wasn’t.

Because he had the nerve to
grow up gorgeous, charming, and sexy. And as we got older, the dares only got dirtier—and the
betting stakes higher—until finally, he left me in pieces. I swore I’d never talk to him
again.

But twenty years after I took
that flying leap, he’s back in my life, daring me to risk everything for him: my job, my self-worth,
and my heart.

How many chances does true
love deserve?

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Download your copy today or
read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2EjE51C

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/UndeniableMH

Amazon Paperback: https://amzn.to/2VKluH2

Add to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2DEajVf

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About Melanie

Melanie Harlow likes her martinis dry, her heels high, and her history with the naughty bits left in. When she’s not writing or reading, she gets her kicks from TV series like VEEP, Game of Thrones, Succession, and Homeland. She occasionally runs three miles, but only so she can have more gin and steak.

Melanie is the author of the ONE & ONLY series, the AFTER WE FALL series, the HAPPY CRAZY LOVE series, the FRENCHED series, and the sexy historical SPEAK EASY duet, set in the 1920s. She lifts her glass to romance readers and writers from her home near Detroit, MI, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and pet rabbit.
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Connect with Melanie

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMelanieHarlow/?fref=ts

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1NPkYKs

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/melanie-harlow

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/melanieharlow2/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/melanie_harlow/

Website: http://www.melanieharlow.com

Stay up to date! Sign up for
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Book Review, Romance, Uncategorized

Book review: 5 stars for Midnight Valentine by J. T. Geissinger. “True love never dies.”

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I read this book over a year ago, before the birth of the blog, and it’s still one of my favorites, so I wanted to post my initial review. I haven’t been able to read it a second time, but my feelings haven’t changed. I have read other books by J. T. Geissinger, but this one is still my favorite.

How do I even put into words how much I loved this book? I had never read any others by this author; it caught my attention when I saw that a friend had given it 5 stars on Goodreads. A review there referenced The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger, which is one of my very favorite books of all time. I don’t give many 5-star reviews, so a book really has to blow me away to earn one. This book did.

It is one of those books that I immediately wanted to read again the second I finished it, so I could go back and find all the clues that the author left along the way to the very satisfying ending. I borrowed this from Kindle Unlimited but am going to purchase my own copy so I can savor it at my leisure.

I loved Theo, and the unique ways that he and Megan had to find to communicate since Theo is incapable of using his voice. I liked most of the side characters, especially Coop. I would definitely read a book all about him and his backstory.

Every book gets to a point where the couple has a conflict. You know it’s coming, you think you’re prepared for it, and when it arrives, sometimes it’s so intense, you have to take a break from the book and read something else for a while. At least that’s how it is for me. I had to take a break for several days, which is longer than normal, but my anxiety was so great that I couldn’t continue reading until I was in the right mood to handle the conflict and its resolution. A lot of books have a silly conflict, where the couple has a misunderstanding that could have been avoided if they’d simply talked to each other. (The author even references this kind of situation in the book!!) This conflict was not that simple, and I needed a few days to prepare myself for it.

This book really is unlike anything I’ve ever read, and it is such an amazing story. I can see that it will be the kind of book I return to, even if it’s just to read a little bit of it at a time, just like The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Buy Midnight Valentine

Buy The Time Traveler’s Wife

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