Book Review

Book Review: The Summer of Chasing Dreams by Holly Martin-4 Stars

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After her mom Juliette dies and Eva is clearing out her house, she finds a trunk full of slips of paper containing dreams her mom had but didn’t get to achieve. Using money left to her from the will, Eva makes it her mission to reach all the dreams her mom had, traveling the world and checking them off one by one on postcards she addresses to her mom. She finds a travel agency that includes agents who will escort travelers to their various destinations, and an unfortunate incident leaves Eva stuck with Thor- a Dane whose good looks match up to his godly name, but he is rude and arrogant, at least to Eva’s first impression!

Eva is rather reserved and prefers to stay at home in her pj’s, so this round-the-world trip is a huge change for her. In order to attain some of her mom’s dreams, such as singing on top of the Eiffel Tower and skydiving, Eva has to be brave and live life like her mom did, without fear. I loved visiting all of the different locations Eva and Thor traveled to on this journey. Each location and dream Juliette had is described in such a way you honestly feel you are right there with them. I especially loved their visit in Amsterdam with the tulips, flower parade, and the fact they got to sleep in a windmill-I didn’t even know you could do that! It was so fun and memorable following Eva around as she made her mom’s dreams come true, and along the way Eva realizes some dreams of her own.

While reading this I was rooting not only for Eva as she lived out her mom’s dreams, but for her and Thor as well. The chemistry was obvious between the two of them, but they are both so stubborn and afraid of getting hurt. This book had me laughing and crying all the way to the end. The travelling aspect was really neat, but I also loved the romance of course as well. It was both sweet and a little steamy! I really enjoyed the epilogue but hope to see more of these characters in upcoming books!

I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review

Book Review: Spring at Blueberry Bay (Hope Island #1) by Holly Martin- 5 Stars

This is a super romantic, cozy read! Bella in currently unemployed after the boss at her last job was found embezzling funds. One day she comes home and finds a homeless man begging on her stoop and being the compassionate heart she is, Bella invites him in. This man is not who he says, but it may not necessarily be a bad thing, and soon you will find out why he did what he did.

This was such a sweet book. I loved the setting on Hope Island; it just seems absolutely gorgeous. Bella is great at her job and I love the passion she has not only in her career but towards those she loves. Isaac has a huge heart and is smart, handsome, and caring and the relationship between the two of them seemed so genuine and relatable.

This steamy book will make you laugh, cry, and swoon. It is just adorable, and I look forward to reading the others in this series!

Book Review

Book Review: Fairytale Beginnings by Holly Martin-5 Stars

First off-how beautiful is the cover?!

Fairytale Beginnings is a wonderful romance featuring Milly, a dendrochronologist who specializes in dating and/or restoring historic castles through her employer, Castle Heritage, and Cameron Heartstone, who has just inherited the huge, piecemeal Clover Castle. Cameron was under the impression that Milly would be a lot older and dress a lot differently-she loves bright colors, Converse, sparkles, and Disney, but is extremely intelligent and excellent at her job. Despite getting off on the wrong foot, the chemistry between the two is undeniable. Both of them have had heartbreak in the past-can they overcome their hurts and misunderstandings along the way to open their hearts to each other?

This story was just magical. The way the author describes the castle and the village, you will feel like you’ve been transported there. With ghosts, romance, weird traditions, and the longing for a happily ever after, fairytale lovers will thoroughly enjoy this one and will be sad for it to end!

I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

 

Book Review

Book Review: The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan-5 Stars

This story was pure perfection. Nina is a librarian whose job has been affected by recent budget cuts. Nina decides to make her dream come true of owning a bookshop, so she ends up buying a huge van and moving to Kirrinfief, Scotland, which works out perfectly as the little town there has no library or bookshops. Nina has a way of sensing the perfect book for each person that comes in to her shop. As Nina adjusts to farm life in the Highlands, welcoming the food, music, and traditions, she begins to create friendships with the locals that can sense her passion with reading and are eager to pick up a book again for themselves.

This is just such a feel good story if you love books, dream about books, cherish books…you will LOVE it. Every single character Nina encountered added so much dimension to the story. There is a little bit of romance in this story which I felt played out marvelously as it didn’t take away from the main plot of Nina running an extremely successful bookshop! Highly recommend for bibliophiles. I can’t say enough positive things about it!

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Book Review: So Pretty it Hurts by Kate White-4 Stars

It’s been years since I’ve read a Bailey Weggins mystery and I was dying to get back to them! It’s just a fun mystery/suspense series with a kick-A heroine. Bailey covers true crime stories for a celebrity magazine called “Buzz” and she’s always in the midst of investigations, doing sleuthing on her own and trying to find the killer before the police do. In some novels that works for the main characters and in others it doesn’t, as the MC is an idiot who inevitably gets themselves in dangerous situations with no way out. Fortunately in Bailey’s case, it works. She’s pretty intelligent and is able to stay calm in scary situations and use her brain to come up with ways of getting back to safety.

In this novel, Bailey has joined her friend and coworker Jessie on a weekend retreat at the country home of Scott, a record producer. It’s a weekend full of being catered to by an in-house cook, massages, and guided hikes, and surrounded by pencil thin models and drug-addled musicians. When one of the models ends up dead over the weekend, Bailey is certain it’s murder, and not just a case of drug or anorexia induced illness. It becomes more apparent that Bailey’s hunch is correct because someone is trying desperately to throw her off course and get her to stop fishing around.
With the feel of a juicy tabloid, this mystery is an enjoyable, suspenseful ride!

Book Review

Book Review: American Housewife by Helen Ellis-4 Stars

My three favorite stories in the collection were: “Hello! Welcome to Book Club,” “Dead Doormen,” and “My Novel is Brought to You by the Good People at Tampax.”

With sass, southern charm, snark, and a hint of malice, the short stories contained within American Housewife deliver it all. The stories are a little dark but also hilarious!

My favorite part from “My Novel is Brought to You by the Good People at Tampax”:

“Two months in, and I’ve created three apps.” “Apps?” “For people who buy my book as an e-book…the first is called Don’t Look. It’s for the overly sensitive. It blurs and turns the type red when a dog dies or a baby is born with a birth defect. Stuff like that. My second is It’s Not Okay When You Say It, and it delivers and electrical zap if the reader laughs at a racial slur. My third is Jesus Thesaurus, which replaces explicit sexual language with church words. So, when one of my characters saints a guy’s disciple, he’ll beg her to calvary his Baptists and shout amen.

This story collection is highly entertaining and makes for a quick read!

Book Review

Book Review: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty-5 Stars

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This kept me hooked until the last page! Full of lies, suspense, drama, and hilarity, Big Little Lies follows the lives of several mothers and how their secrets can upend a small village.

Jane is the young, single mom of Ziggy who is just starting out at school. Jane makes friends with Madeline, an impeccably dressed woman who speaks her mind and loves drama. Madeline’s best friend Celeste is loaded with money and always gives the best presents. The three of them form a sort of clique after another mom at the school accuses Ziggy of bullying her daughter and tries to petition for him to get kicked out.

Celeste and her husband Perry seem like the perfect couple-wealthy, blessed with twin boys and an exquisite home, but what goes on behind closed doors is a different picture than the one they portray outside. Madeline’s ex-husband left her alone years ago with a young baby and is now remarried to a vegan, yogi, peace seeking weirdo who is trying to turn her now teenage daughter against her. Jane seems like a loner, with no friends or family in the area. She’s not well dressed or wealthy like the other moms, and she has a few weird quirks. Her son Ziggy does not know who is father is, and it’s someone Jane tries to forget because he was a terrible person. She begins to wonder if Ziggy is taking after him once she hears the bullying accusations at school. Everyone is dealing with their own problems and secrets which makes for an intricately woven story.

The novel goes back several weeks before the school’s annual Trivia Night,  with multiple witnesses each offering their account of what happened that eventually led to the death of a parent.

While it deals with sensitive issues, it’s still somewhat lighthearted and funny. A definite read if you enjoy Lifetime movies!

 

Book Review

Book Review: To Rome With Love by Mandi Benet- 5 Stars

AH! This book was SOOOO good. Steamy, sexy, sweet, and delicious! And that cover!

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To Rome With Love tells the story of Gabriela and Silvio who are both going through divorces after their spouses cheated. Gaby is taking some time to visit her best friend Maria, and her husband Carlo, in Rome, where she meets the rude and arrogant Silvio, Carlo’s cousin. They end up working together catering Carlo’s daughters wedding, spending time grocery shopping, cooking, and sightseeing, per Maria’s demands!

Silvio has a face that has been “finely carved by the angels”, educated in art history at Oxford, and the kind of sexy that knows he’s sexy. Gaby is a chef, with curves in all the right places,  curly blond hair, unique lilac eyes, but sees herself inadequate and unsexy compared to other women. And she’s sure to let Silvio know when he’s being rude and arrogant! I really liked Gaby’s personality. She was real and genuine.

The two can’t deny the chemistry between them no matter how much they want to. They frustrated me so much though! The passion between them was {HOT} & incredible, but every single time one of them had to go and screw things up, can’t they just admit to each other that they’re in love?! Gaby doesn’t want to get in a relationship and have her heart crushed again, especially by another Italian man. As for Silvio, Gaby is unlike any woman he’s ever been interested in and that scares him. Can they just enjoy the time they have, no strings attached, no labels? Or do they feel they have something more?

The writing style and descriptions were beautiful. One of my favorite lines describes the moon as a “scoop of tangerine sorbet” hanging in the sky. While stunningly descriptive, the author is also hilarious: Gaby’s friend Sandy goes on a date expecting Channing Tatum and ends up with Friar Tuck! This was a novel that completely captured me and I did not want to stop reading! If you’re looking for a sexy, fun read with the luscious setting of Italy, this is the one!

The author sent me a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. Please let there be a sequel! Thank you Mandi!

To Rome With Love is available for pre-order now here and releases February 10 on Amazon!

 

Book Review

Book Review: Breakout by Aven Ellis- 5 Stars

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While Texas is known for loving football, Lexi Stewart has always been drawn to the ice. Hockey is her passion, and she wants nothing more than to pursue a career in video editing for the home network of the Dallas Demons hockey team.
Lexi has an editing job for a corporate account, but it’s not fulfilling. Nor is her dating life, despite having the so-called help of The One Online Dating Service. Lexi knows there has to be more for her—on both fronts. She’s ready to take the next step, but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen anytime soon.
Until a flying puck changes everything.
Niko Xenakis is the new Dallas Demons TV producer, and he’s looking to make his mark in his new role and hopefully work his way back to his hometown of Baltimore. But once he meets Lexi, he might just change his mind on what he wants for his future . . .
But the road to love is never easy, complicated by the fact that they both carry emotional baggage from the past in their hearts. Can these two “breakout”of the past to find love in the present?

 

The third book in the Dallas Demons series is just as romantic and funny as the previous two! Lexi is trying to achieve her dream of editing hockey for Total Access Total Sports when one day, the answer to her dreams literally crushes her against the bleachers to save her from a runaway hockey puck! From the start I was in love with Lexi and Niko. Lexi is such a headstrong woman who, like I always say about Aven’s female main characters, is someone I want to be friends with. She grew up in Dallas with her adoptive parents, who are well off, but Lexi has paved her own way and never relied on their money, and by whom she is loved and adored by.  Lexi is surrounded by loving, encouraging people, like her best friend Kenley, and second mother, CiCi, but deals with feelings of being abandoned and left unloved since her birth parents gave her up. She is a wonderful friend, has beautiful red hair, an eclectic collection of pj pants, is passionate about hockey, and pursuing her dream job. Niko is Greek, with Mediterranean sea blue eyes, and a Greek tattoo that peeks out from his dress shirts. Niko comes from a completely different background than Lexi. He grew up working in his parents bakery in Baltimore without any encouragement from them to pursue his dream of producing. They expect him to work in the bakery and marry a “nice Greek girl.” He has always felt like he is not good enough and a disappointment to his family.

So the two each bring some baggage to the table. Like all of Aven’s novels, as in real life, this isn’t a perfect-nothing-goes-wrong romance. Lexi and Niko have fights, there are mis-communications, but they always work things out. Lexi has to deal with a “reality show reject” at work who has eyes for Niko. Niko  needs to stop thinking of himself as the son who lets his parents down and realize he is worth love, from the right woman. As I’ve said before, I don’t think any couple can top William and Mary-Kate (Connectivity) but Niko and Lexi are coming in at a close second! This book will make you laugh, cry, and wish with all your heart that things start to fall into place for Lexi and Niko soon! The little gifts that Niko brings Lexi, like finger-less gloves for working in the office, and her favorite Gingerbread Latte, are so sweet and thoughtful.

The supporting characters are awesome as well- I really loved CiCi in this book. She is still nosy, but loves Lexi like a daughter and will do anything to help her and Niko stay together! And Kenley is such a great best friend. She’s always there with some yummy chocolate and to offer advice, especially when Lexi doubts herself.

The setting, besides the romance, is one of my favorite aspects of this book as it’s set around the holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I love looking at Christmas lights and just being surrounded by the magic of the holiday season, and it’s always great when Starbucks brings back their red cups! 🙂 Another fun and memorable aspect of Aven’s books are the attention to detail. For example, how Lexi wears Jo Malone Wood Sage and Sea Salt perfume (I need to smell this!!) and applies her Bite Rhubarb lip crayon before her date. I LOVE little details like that, it helps me to really envision the character.

I love this book with the intensity of a thousand suns. There’s only one thing I disliked about Breakout- the fact that it had to end! I’m thankful for the epilogue-the fact that there wasn’t a cliffhanger and it was just so beautiful and romantic. Now I can’t wait for On Thin Ice and Trivial Pursuits, some upcoming releases by the author! As always, a huge thank you to Aven for gifting me this novel. Breakout releases November 4th on Amazon!!

Book Review

Book Review: The Aubrey Rules (Chicago on Ice Series #1) by Aven Ellis-5 Stars!

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A NEW HOCKEY ROMANCE SERIES BY AVEN ELLIS! YEEEEEEEEEE! Just released today, August 26, 2015!!

 

Some of the Aubrey Rules to Live By:

*If I’m going to indulge in French fries, I must add extra time to the treadmill the next day.
*Always keep your work and private life separate.
*Being open to new experiences will never involve eating kale.
*Never, ever date a professional athlete.

For Chicago social media professional Aubrey Paige, the rules are everything. So much so that Aubrey has painstakingly written her rules for living into a polka-dot Kate Spade notebook that she carries with her at all times. It’s her personal guidebook to living her life. These rules are the Holy Grail—ones never to be broken. They guide her actions for everything, from dealing with workplace drama to finding a great guy to date. After all, these are her own rules, built from her life experiences and observations. So they have to be perfect, right?

Or are they?

Because when Aubrey meets a cute Canadian, she suddenly finds her rules being tested and challenged in ways she never dreamed possible. Beckett Riley is the shy, quiet, determined captain of the Chicago Buffaloes, a hockey team on the verge of turning the corner to becoming a winning organization. He’s Aubrey’s opposite, with so many qualities that Aubrey had listed as ones she’d never want in a man.

Yet Aubrey finds herself drawn to Beckett in ways she’s never known. And when she unexpectedly finds herself working with Beckett, she wonders if rules are meant to be broken after all . . .

 

I am a huge fan of Aven Ellis’s writing! She is my auto-read author. Literally anything this woman writes I am in love with it! She graciously emailed me a copy of the ARC and I couldn’t be more thrilled! As always, these thoughts and opinions are my own.

Aubrey has got to be my favorite female that Aven has written so far. She is awesome! She has curly red hair, is obsessed with finding her holy grail mascara, 😉 loves pastries and french fries, worries about being bloated and has to ninja move to get into her skinny jeans (uh, SAME-right over here) and just seems like a real girl you could be friends with. Aven does not make flat characters! Aubrey has a notebook where she keeps all of her rules to living her life. Yet as she begins to fall for Beckett, she has to make lots of amendments and notes to her rules, like “Never, ever date a professional athlete!” 😉

Beckett is in a word…dreamy. He’s got dark wavy hair,  is sensitive, sweet, easily embarrassed, and passionate about hockey. He’s the captain of the Chicago Buffaloes Hockey team- oh and he’s got a really cute Canadian accent! He is giving William Cumberland (the main character in Connectivity-my current fave Aven character!) a run for his money!

Beckett is a client at the Chicago Connect where Aubrey works as a social media assistant and she gets the perk of being Beckett’s coordinator for his social media accounts. They start spending more and more time together and you can just feel the romance start developing! The way they teased each other back and forth and just understood each other was just so sweet and funny. Another thing Aven does, besides making you fall in love with her characters, is make you laugh! Like fall out of your seat laughing! I love the sweet, easygoing romances and hilarious instances Aven never fails to deliver in all of her novels. I enjoy reading novels that allow me to connect and relate to the main character and I really felt that with Aubrey. I hate kale, and I freaking could live off of French fries and pastries, so she is seriously my girl! In all seriousness though, it is annoying when I read I book that I want to love but I just can’t get a grasp on the main female character, but I never have that with Aven’s books. If you are looking for a sweet, funny, and swoon-worthy novel, I recommend The Aubrey Rules!