Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Lucky - My Review of The Honey-Don't List

Title: The Honey-Don't List
Author: Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: 3/24/2020
Source: ARC from publisher through Netgalley


Carey Douglas has worked for home remodeling and design gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp for nearly a decade. A country girl at heart, Carey started in their first store at sixteen, and—more than anyone would suspect—has helped them build an empire. With a new show and a book about to launch, the Tripps are on the verge of superstardom. There’s only one problem: America’s favorite couple can’t stand each other.

James McCann, MIT graduate and engineering genius, was originally hired as a structural engineer, but the job isn’t all he thought it’d be. The last straw? Both he and Carey must go on book tour with the Tripps and keep the wheels from falling off the proverbial bus.

Unfortunately, neither of them is in any position to quit. Carey needs health insurance, and James has been promised the role of a lifetime if he can just keep the couple on track for a few more weeks. While road-tripping with the Tripps up the West Coast, Carey and James vow to work together to keep their bosses’ secrets hidden, and their own jobs secure. But if they stop playing along—and start playing for keeps—they may have the chance to build something beautiful together…

From the “hilariously zany and heartfelt” (Booklist) Christina Lauren comes a romantic comedy that proves if it’s broke, you might as well fix it.

From the New York Times bestselling author behind the “joyful, warm, touching” (Jasmine Guillory, New York Times bestselling author) The Unhoneymooners comes a delightfully charming love story about what happens when two assistants tasked with keeping a rocky relationship from explosion start to feel sparks of their own. 

Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of long-time writing partners/besties/soulmates/brain-twins Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. The coauthor duo writes both Young Adult and Adult Fiction, and together has produced fourteen New York Times bestselling novels. Their books have been translated into 30+ languages. (Some of these books have kissing. Some of these books have A LOT of kissing.)

We don't respond to private messages here, so please contact us via twitter (@seeCwrite for Christina and @LolaShoes for Lauren) or our site. Thank you!!

The Honey-Don't List is by no means my first Christina Lauren novel, but it may be the most unusual. Not that the book was unusual, but the experience of reading it was. Ok, I'm not really doing a good job of explaining this so let me try again.

The Honey-Don't List was a five-star read from me when I was only expecting it to be 4 stars at most. Having read and liked other stories from this incredible writing duo, I was prepared to enjoy myself, but this went above and beyond. The title and cover had me expecting something completely other than what I got. I was expecting a light-hearted read with some zany antics and this was so much more than that. The depth of characters and the story completely blindsided me and I loved it.

As a fan of HGTV, I loved reading about what could possibly happen on the other side of the screen. I enjoyed the creative processes and the ways that Carey and James had to work together to make a successful show as well as work to save the reputation of their employers is so much fun. We knew from the beginning that things were going to blow up spectacularly, but it is so amazing when it happens. I feel like the whole story was handled expertly.

Yes, this was a little bit of a departure from the typical Christina Lauren, it was a welcome one and one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

5 out of 5 stars

Chelsea Cutler - Lucky

If We Never Met - My Review of If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

Title: If I Never Met You
Author: Mhairi McFarlane
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: 3/24/2020
Source: ARC from the publisher through Edelweiss


If faking love is this easy... how do you know when it’s real?

When her partner of over a decade suddenly ends things, Laurie is left reeling—not only because they work at the same law firm and she has to see him every day. Her once perfect life is in shambles and the thought of dating again in the age of Tinder is nothing short of horrifying. When news of her ex’s pregnant girlfriend hits the office grapevine, taking the humiliation lying down is not an option. Then a chance encounter in a broken-down elevator with the office playboy opens up a new possibility.

Jamie Carter doesn’t believe in love, but he needs a respectable, steady girlfriend to impress their bosses. Laurie wants a hot new man to give the rumor mill something else to talk about. It’s the perfect proposition: a fauxmance played out on social media, with strategically staged photographs and a specific end date in mind. With the plan hatched, Laurie and Jamie begin to flaunt their new couple status, to the astonishment—and jealousy—of their friends and colleagues. But there’s a fine line between pretending to be in love and actually falling for your charming, handsome fake boyfriend.

Mhairi was born in Scotland in 1976 and her unnecessarily confusing name is pronounced Vah-Ree.

After some efforts at journalism, she started writing novels. It’s Not Me, It’s You is her third book. She lives in Nottingham, with a man and a cat.
I've read books by this author with before with mixes results, but something about this synopsis called to me and I'm really glad I answered that call.

Laurie's world is rocked when her long time boyfriend not only doesn't propose, but breaks up with her. He says he's not ready to get married. She soon finds out that he already has a girlfriend and that they are expecting a baby. Everything that Laurie thought she knew has been flipped on its head.

Jamie is a player, a ladies man, and as such, he tends to ruffle feathers amongst his work colleagues. When he and Laurie begin to talk about their respective problems, they come up with a singular solution: a fake relationship.

This book had a lot of the usual things you find in fake relationship storylines, jealousy, misunderstandings, hurt feelings, but with the added bonus of McFarlane's wit and charm. I quickly bonded with the characters and felt Laurie's frustrations with her job and the limited choices she felt she had. Jamie was appealing without being too in your face with it. His attractions were subtle, but many. 

Despite somewhat being able to predict where the story was going, I was completely enthralled with the characters and had myself a really good time reading this book.

4 out of 5 Stars

John K - If We Never Met

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

I Want More - My Review of In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

Title: In Five Years
Author: Rebecca Serle
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: 3/10/2020
Source: ARC from publisher through Netgalley

Where do you see yourself in five years?

When Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Cohan is asked this question at the most important interview of her career, she has a meticulously crafted answer at the ready. Later, after nailing her interview and accepting her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, Dannie goes to sleep knowing she is right on track to achieve her five-year plan.

But when she wakes up, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. The television news is on in the background, and she can just make out the scrolling date. It’s the same night—December 15—but 2025, five years in the future.

After a very intense, shocking hour, Dannie wakes again, at the brink of midnight, back in 2020. She can’t shake what has happened. It certainly felt much more than merely a dream, but she isn’t the kind of person who believes in visions. That nonsense is only charming coming from free-spirited types, like her lifelong best friend, Bella. Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind.

That is, until four-and-a-half years later, when by chance Dannie meets the very same man from her long-ago vision.

Brimming with joy and heartbreak, In Five Years is an unforgettable love story that reminds us of the power of loyalty, friendship, and the unpredictable nature of destiny.

Rebecca Serle is an author and television writer who lives between New York and Los Angeles. Serle most recently co-developed the hit TV adaptation of her young adult series Famous in Love, now on Freeform. She loves Nancy Meyers films, bathrobes, and giving unsolicited advice on love. She can be found on twitter: @RebeccaASerle 

Oh Wow! When it started, it reminded me strongly of One Day in December by Josie Solver and I was pissed off because I really loved that story. Well, I’m happy to report that this is NOT the same. In Five Years is such a unique love story and is beautifully heartbreaking.

I simply cannot say enough words about this story. It is now more than a month since I read it and it still affects me physically to think about it.

Dannie has a dream in which she wakes and she is with a man that is NOT her fiancee. When she wakes in her real life, Dannie attempts to move forward as if nothing happened. That is until she runs into her dream man in real life. Is this a premonition? Is this man her future? How could her dream possibly come true without destroying the lives of EVERYONE around her, but really how could Dannie turn her back on the possibilities her dream presented?

This story is so incredibly moving. The characters are sooooo completely relatable. Dannie could be any one of us. Bella is definitely the kind of best friend we would all be blessed to have.

While there is some romance in the story, it is not center stage. Unless you count the romance the author obviously has with the city of New York. She constantly takes us on a lovely journey to what I have to imagine are her favorite locations within the city. This is definitely a love letter to The Big Apple.

Dannie has spent years camouflaging herself, fitting into her surroundings and with those closest to her. She has done this for so long that she has lost a lot of herself. Running into her dream man stirs up her real self and causes her to begin living her true life. Lives are disrupted and feelings are hurt, but this is a journey that Dannie has to make before she loses herself completely.

This is not the story you think it is nor is it the love story you might wish it to be, but it is nonetheless the love story that needs to be told. I was so grateful to receive an advanced copy of In Five Years from the publisher.

5 out of 5 Stars

Kaleo - I Want More

Monday, March 9, 2020

Seven Nation Army - My Review of Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

Title: Undercover Bromance
Author: Lyssa Kay Adams
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: 3/10/2020
Source: ARC from publisher through Netgalley

Braden Mack thinks reading romance novels makes him an expert in love, but he’ll soon discover that real life is better than fiction. 

Liv Papandreas has a dream job as a sous chef at Nashville’s hottest restaurant. Too bad the celebrity chef owner is less than charming behind kitchen doors. After she catches him harassing a young hostess, she confronts him and gets fired. Liv vows revenge, but she’ll need assistance to take on the powerful chef.

Unfortunately, that means turning to Braden Mack. When Liv’s blackballed from the restaurant scene, the charismatic nightclub entrepreneur offers to help expose her ex-boss, but she is suspicious of his motives. He’ll need to call in reinforcements: the Bromance Book Club.

Inspired by the romantic suspense novel they’re reading, the book club assists Liv in setting up a sting operation to take down the chef. But they’re just as eager to help Mack figure out the way to Liv’s heart... even though she’s determined to squelch the sparks between them before she gets burned.

Lyssa Kay Adams is the pen name of an award-winning journalist who gave up the world of telling true stories to pen emotional romances. She’s also a diehard Detroit Tigers fan who will occasionally cheer for the Red Sox because her husband is from Boston.

Lyssa lives in Michigan with her family and an anxiety-ridden Maltese who steals food and buries it around the house and who will undoubtedly be a character in a future book.

Things Lyssa loves: Baseball pants, mashed potatoes, and that little clicking sound that scissors make on the cutting table at fabric stores.

Things she doesn’t love: Mean people, melting ice cream cones, and finding food in her underwear drawer.

Keep up with Lyssa on Twitter at @LyssaKayAdams. Please note: She mostly tweets about baseball pants and mashed potatoes.

Charming, witty, full of action, and utterly relevant in this post #metoo world.

As much as I adored The Bromance Book Club, I knew I absolutely had to have book 2. 

We first met Liv in book one and knew that she was going to be a force to be reckoned with. She certainly didn't disappoint. In a male-dominated world of chefs and high-end kitchens, Liv has made a name and a place for herself. When she witnesses some less than appropriate behavior from her celebrity chef boss, she ends up losing her job.

Her quest for revenge requires help and she reluctantly turns to Braden Mack. Braden is more than willing to help Liv with her task. He is also willing to offer her a job and whatever else she might be up for, but Live turns him down. She has worked hard to get to where she is and definitely wants to move forward on her own merit and not receive handouts.

As the title suggests, Undercover Bromance involves some intrigue and sneaking around. Braden and Liv grow closer and discover lots about each other and themselves. They also begin to uncover more of Liv's former boss's despicable deeds. Unfortunately, they struggle to find anyone willing to speak up.

As I said, this story is so utterly relevant. People need to hear this story, even though it is told in a humorous way.

Thank you to Berkley for providing an Advanced Copy. 

4 out of 5 Stars

The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Figure It Out - My Review of Great and Precious Things by Rebecca Yarros

Title: Great and Precious Things
Author: Rebecca Yarros
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Source: ARC from publisher through Netgalley

How do you define yourself when others have already decided who you are? 
Six years ago, when Camden Daniels came back from war without his younger brother, no one in the small town of Alba, Colorado, would forgive him—especially his father. He left, swearing never to return.
But a desperate message from his father brings it all back. The betrayal. The pain. And the need to go home again.
But home is where the one person he still loves is waiting. Willow. The one woman he can never have. Because there are secrets buried in Alba that are best left in the dark.
If only he could tell his heart to stay locked away when she whispers she’s always loved him, and always will…
Great and Precious Things is a heart-wrenching story about family, betrayal, and ultimately how far we're willing to go on behalf of those who need us most.

I’m a hopeless romantic and adore all things chocolate, coffee and paleo. No, seriously, I need to have a caffeine IV put in. I’ve adored reading all my life, and writing naturally evolved from my love of late nights and promises of one more page.

I’m also a military wife of sixteen years. During my husband’s deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, I was devouring a book a day, and during his third deployment, I finally wrote my own. With a somewhat ironic timing, I received my book deal for Full Measures during his fourth deployment, and published a month after he returned home. We’re currently preparing for his fifth deployment, so check out the blog for the latest!

On the homefront, we have six kids. Yes, you read that right—six. If I’m not writing or playing guitar, I’m usually tying hockey skates for our four boys, or sneaking in John Hughes marathons with my two daughters. We fostered and adopted our youngest daughter from the foster system and we’re passionate about helping others do the same through our non-profit, One October! We’re always busy navigating the winding road of our daughter’s recent autism diagnosis, getting our boys to hockey, prepping for a deployment, and generally trying to stay sane. We’re die-hard Mets fans, but our hearts call Colorado home.

If you’ve read all of that, haven’t fallen asleep, and still want to know more about me, check out my blog: http://www.rebeccayarros.com/blog! 

Connect with Rebecca Yarros:
Website: http://www.rebeccayarros.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaElizabethYarros
Facebook Reader Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/RebeccaYarrosFlygirls
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rebeccayarros
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RebeccaYarros

Blog: http://www.rebeccayarros.com/blog

Rebecca Yarros writes with incredible depth and an elegance that is unmatched. Her stories are heartbreaking in their tenderness and soul-destroying in authenticity. Her characters are strong but flawed and always seek to make something better of themselves.

Cam and Willow are amazing characters who find themselves putting on a show for the world, each for a different reason. Cam is punishing himself for not saving his younger brother. Willow is hiding from her feelings for Cam.

I adored the setting of this novel. I felt like I was transported to this mining community and could totally picture the mountains and mines and old buildings as they were discussed in the book. I was impressed with the amount of research Yarros must've done in order to accurately depict the town meetings and mine opening. I also appreciate the thoughtfulness that Yarros put into writing Arthur's Alzheimer's and the way it affected him and the family. It was tough to read, but I'm sure it would be tougher to live through. The choices the family had to make in regards to Arthur and his illness were painful and ones I've witnessed friends have to make. The whole situation was handled delicately and with dignity.

There was such an amazing family connection in this story. All through the animosity between Cam and his father, you can read the foundation that was formed from love. Xander and Cam, while butting heads and generally pissing each other off, also share a love and respect for each other and their decisions, while opposing, were made because of their love for their family. And then there is Sully, who never makes a formal appearance, but whom you get to know fully anyway. I love their history and the way it comes full circle in the present.

Great and Precious Things sets up this town to be used in a future book and I hope that sometime Mrs. Yarros decides to re-visit Alba, CO so we can catch up with the Daniels family and the many other characters in town that I grew to love.

Thank you to the publisher for providing an early copy to read.

5 out of 5 Stars.

Anthony Ramos - Figure it Out

Monday, February 24, 2020

The Bones - My Review of Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas

Title: Chasing Cassandra (The Ravenels #6)
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: February 18, 2020
Source: ARC from the publisher

Everything has a price...

Railway magnate Tom Severin is wealthy and powerful enough to satisfy any desire as soon as it arises. Anything—or anyone—is his for the asking. It should be simple to find the perfect wife—and from his first glimpse of Lady Cassandra Ravenel, he’s determined to have her. But the beautiful and quick-witted Cassandra is equally determined to marry for love—the one thing he can’t give.

Everything except her...

Severin is the most compelling and attractive man Cassandra has ever met, even if his heart is frozen. But she has no interest in living in the fast-paced world of a ruthless man who always plays to win.

When a newfound enemy nearly destroys Cassandra’s reputation, Severin seizes the opportunity he’s been waiting for. As always, he gets what he wants—or does he? There’s one lesson Tom Severin has yet to learn from his new bride:

Never underestimate a Ravenel.

The chase for Cassandra’s hand may be over. But the chase for her heart has only just begun.

LISA KLEYPAS is the RITA award-winning author of 21 novels. Her books are published in fourteen languages and are bestsellers all over the world. She lives in Washington State with her husband and two children.

Lisa Kleypas completely owns me. Her stories never fail to enthrall and entertain.

Chasing Cassandra is the newest installment in The Ravenels series. I've been excited to get Tom Severin's story since we were first introduced to him. I knew it was going to take a particular type of woman to be able to wrangle his attention and Cassandra is proudly that woman.

Tom and Cassandra meet and do a little back and forth dance, as per usual, but they are met with some out of the ordinary roadblocks. First, Tom is a singular sort of man. He is unusual in the way he deals with people and focuses so directly on his businesses. He takes in stride the millions of pounds that he has in his bank account and simply works for the love of the job.

Cassandra sets her sights on Severin at first but then backtracks as he claims to be a man who will never love another. She knows she could never live in a loveless marriage and fights her attraction to him in order to hold out for love.

This story (and series), while well-plotted and written, is really all about the characters for me. Each book has a strong set of characters that could be planting corn or reading almanacs and I would still love them.

I was grateful to receive an early copy of Chasing Cassandra from the publisher.

4 out of 5 Stars

The Bones - Maren Morris & Hozier