Catch Up Reviews: Finishing Out 2016

Catching up on all the books I haven’t made time to review recently. I’ve decided to only focus on books I enjoyed and feel are worth mentioning.


29087466Keepsake by Sarina Bowen

There’s a first time for everything.

Lark Wainwright used to be fearless. Her life was a series of adventures, each one more exhilarating than the last. But her recent overseas adventure was one too many. Now she’s home and in one piece. Mostly. But her nights are filled with terror.

When her best friend offers her a stay at the orchard in exchange for help at the farmers’ markets, Lark jumps at the chance to spend fall in Vermont. But her nightmares don’t stop. Desperate to keep her fragile state a secret, she relies on the most soft-spoken resident of the Shipley Farm to soothe her when her dreams prove too much.

Zachariah is a survivor, too. It’s been four years since he was tossed aside by the polygamist cult where he grew up. He’s found a peaceful existence on the Shipley’s farm, picking apples and fixing machinery. But getting thrown away by your own people at nineteen leaves a mark on a guy. He doesn’t always know what to make of a world where movie quotes are the primary means of communication. Before hitchhiking to Vermont, he’d never watched TV or spoken on the phone.

Actually, there are a lot of things he’s never done.

Zach and Lark slowly grow to trust one another. One night they become even closer than they’d planned. But Lark may still be too broken to trust anyone. When she pushes Zach away, he will have to prove to himself that he’s good for much more than farm labor.

I really hope this isn’t the final book in the series. I absolutely LOVE this series, and every book is just as good (or better) than the one before it. I’m so glad I finally picked up a Sarina Bowen book this year and that it was this series.

5 STARS

 

30063292 Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan

Hopeless romantic Eva Jordan loves everything about Christmas. She might be spending the holidays alone this year, but when she’s given an opportunity to house-sit a spectacular penthouse on Fifth Avenue, she leaps at the chance. What better place to celebrate than in snow-kissed Manhattan? What she didn’t expect was to find the penthouse still occupied by its gorgeous—and mysterious—owner.

Bestselling crime writer Lucas Blade is having the nightmare before Christmas. With a deadline and the anniversary of his wife’s death looming, he’s isolated himself in his penthouse with only his grief for company. He wants no interruptions, no decorations and he certainly doesn’t appreciate being distracted by his beautiful, bubbly new housekeeper. But when the blizzard of the century leaves Eva snowbound in his apartment, Lucas starts to open up to the magic she brings…This Christmas, is Lucas finally ready to trust that happily-ever-afters do exist?

Sarah Morgan has become my go-to for a perfect Christmas read. So perfectly romantic, it was my favorite holiday book of the season. And now I want to go back and read more of the books in this series soon. 

5 STARS

 

29472542 All in Pieces by Suzanne Young

“Anger-management issues.”

That’s how they classified Savannah Sutton after she stuck a pencil in her ex-boyfriend’s hand because he mocked her little brother, Evan, for being disabled. That’s why they sent her to Brooks Academy—an alternative high school that’s used as a temporary detention center.

The days at Brooks are miserable, but at home, life is far more bleak. Savvy’s struggling to take care of her brother since her mom left years ago, and her alcoholic dad can’t be bothered. Life with Evan is a constant challenge, but he’s also the most important person in the world to Savvy.

Then there’s Cameron, a new student at Brooks with issues of his own; a guy from a perfect family that Savvy thought only existed on TV. Cameron seems determined to break through every one of the walls Savvy’s built around herself, except if she lets herself trust him, it could make everything she’s worked so hard for fall apart in an instant.

And with her aunt seeking custody of her brother and her ex-boyfriend seeking revenge, Savvy’s fighting to hold all the pieces together. But she’s not sure how much tighter she can be pulled before she breaks completely.

I don’t read enough YA novels, even though I do enjoy them. This book was getting a lot of praise from fellow bloggers, so I decided to try it. I’m so glad I did! It was fantastic and definitely one the best YA novels I have read. I’ll be keeping my eye out for future books by this author.

4 STARS

 

29432729 Beautiful by Christina Lauren

A FREE-SPIRITED GIRL IN NEED OF A BREAK.
A MAN WEIGHED DOWN BY RESPONSIBILITY.
A ROAD TRIP VACATION WHERE ALL BETS ARE OFF.
OH, AND A LOT OF WINE.

After walking in on her boyfriend shagging another girl in their place, Pippa Bay Cox ditches London for the States to go on a drunken road trip with Ruby Miller and some of her Beautiful friends.

Scaling the career ladder is the default way to deal with heartbreak—and to just deal—for Jensen Bergstrom. Absolutely buried by his drive and workload, he rarely takes time for himself. But when his sister Hanna convinces him to join the gang on a two-week wine tour, he has a rare moment of cutting loose. Of course, it’s only once he’s committed that he realizes the strange girl he met briefly on the plane is coming along, too. She might be too much for him…or he might realize his life has become too small and needs her to make it bigger, crazier.

With this circle of friends there’s always something going on: from Chloe and Sara’s unexpected personality swaps to Will’s new domestic side to Bennett’s text message barrage and George’s own happily-ever-after. In short, their adventures in love, friendship, and hilarity are nothing short of Beautiful.

But I don’t want this series to end! It’s one of my absolute favorites. I have loved every one of these characters and am sad to say goodbye to them. I loved that this book took a group of the friends on a wine tour. WINE, people!!! And they vacationed in a secluded cabin (MY DREAM!). I laughed out loud many times while reading this book. And oh how I loved Jensen (swoon) and Pippa (hilarious and bad ass). Not to mention cameos by everyone else in this awesome group of friends. And those epilogues were perfect. Although I’m sad it’s over – it was the perfect way to end the series.

4.5 STARS

 

30213116 Always by Sarah Jio

While enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner with her fiance, Ryan, at one of Seattle’s chicest restaurants, Kailey Crane can’t believe her good fortune: She has a great job as a writer for theHerald and is now engaged to a guy who is perfect in nearly every way. As they leave the restaurant, Kailey spies a thin, bearded homeless man on the sidewalk. She approaches him to offer up her bag of leftovers, and is stunned when their eyes meet, then stricken to her very core: The man is the love of her life, Cade McAllister.

When Kailey met Cade ten years ago, their attraction was immediate and intense everything connected and felt “right.” But it all ended suddenly, leaving Kailey devastated. Now the poor soul on the street is a faded version of her former beloved: His weathered and weary face is as handsome as Kailey remembers, but his mind has suffered in the intervening years. Over the next few weeks, Kailey helps Cade begin to piece his life together, something she initially keeps from Ryan. As she revisits her long-ago relationship, Kailey realizes that she must decide exactly what and whom she wants.

Alternating between the past and the present, Always is a beautifully unfolding exploration of a woman faced with an impossible choice, a woman who discovers what she’s willing to save and what she will sacrifice for true love.

I love Sarah Jio’s books and look forward to her book releases every year. This wasn’t my favorite of her books, but I still enjoyed it. I believe timing is everything, and I think I just picked this one up and forced myself to read it at the wrong time. The story is good, and I do recommend it along with any of her other books.

3.5 STARS

Catch Up Reviews: New to my Favorites List

After taking a blog break, I have gotten ridiculously behind on reviews. To be honest, I was behind on them before my little break.

This post includes all of the books I’ve read recently that are now on my absolute favorites list. They are must reads – go add them to your list now!


27237358Making Faces by Amy Harmon

Ambrose Young was beautiful. He was tall and muscular, with hair that touched his shoulders and eyes that burned right through you. The kind of beautiful that graced the covers of romance novels, and Fern Taylor would know. She’d been reading them since she was thirteen. But maybe because he was so beautiful he was never someone Fern thought she could have…until he wasn’t beautiful anymore.

Making Faces is the story of a small town where five young men go off to war, and only one comes back. It is the story of loss. Collective loss, individual loss, loss of beauty, loss of life, loss of identity. It is the tale of one girl’s love for a broken boy, and a wounded warrior’s love for an unremarkable girl. This is a story of friendship that overcomes heartache, heroism that defies the common definitions, and a modern tale of Beauty and the Beastwhere we discover that there is little beauty and a little beast in all of us.

This book left such a lasting impression on me. It was so fantastic that I immediately ordered a paperback copy for my bookshelf. I’ve had reader friends tell me for years that I needed to try Amy Harmon’s books, and I regret ignoring their advice for so long. This book is perfection. I really couldn’t say enough to do it justice. Just go read it now, I swear you won’t regret it.

5 STARS

29247999Undecided by Julianna Keyes

Nora Kincaid has one goal for her second year of college: be invisible. Last year’s all-party-no-study strategy resulted in three failed classes and two criminal charges, and if she messes up again she’ll lose her scholarship. But there’s one problem with her plan for invisibility, and his name is Crosbie Lucas: infamous party king, general hellraiser…and her new roommate’s best friend.

Crosbie’s reckless reputation and well-known sexcapades aren’t part of Nora’s studious new strategy, but as she’s quickly learning, her new plan is also really boring. When Crosbie’s unexpected gestures of friendship pull her head out of her books long enough to see past his cocky veneer, she’s surprised to find a flawed and funny guy beneath it all. The muscles don’t hurt, either.

But as Nora starts to fall for Crosbie, the weight of one of last year’s bad decisions grows even heavier. Because three failing grades and two misdemeanors are nothing compared to the one big secret she’s hiding…

I have been a fan of New Adult for several years, but lately I find they aren’t living up to my expectations. My tastes have evolved where I’m enjoying a wider variety of genres, and my go-to is no longer NA. In fact I had been steering clear of NA for a long time, until this book was recommended to me by several readers. It blew me away! I absolutely loved every minute – it reminded me of why I used to love NA so much. Definitely a must read for all New Adult fans!

5 STARS

30171592The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon

Swallow, daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heaven or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, daughter. Stay alive.

The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn’t speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would sell his soul and lose his son to the sky.
My father has a claim to the throne, and he is waiting in the shadows for all of my mother’s words to come to pass. He wants desperately to be king, and I just want to be free.
But freedom will require escape, and I’m a prisoner of my mother’s curse and my father’s greed. I can’t speak or make a sound, and I can’t wield a sword or beguile a king. In a land purged of enchantment, love might be the only magic left, and who could ever love . . . a bird?

This was actually the first book by Amy Harmon that I read. I’m not one to pick up fantasy very often, but so much buzz was surrounding this book that I wanted to try it. It started my Amy Harmon love fest, and I can’t recommend this book enough. If you enjoy fantasy with the added bonus of romance (but not overly done), you must try this book! I’ve been on the hunt for another book like it, so if you have any recommendations please share!

5 STARS

29698573A Different Blue by Amy Harmon

Blue Echohawk doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know her real name or when she was born. Abandoned at two and raised by a drifter, she didn’t attend school until she was ten years old. At nineteen, when most kids her age are attending college or moving on with life, she is just a senior in high school. With no mother, no father, no faith, and no future, Blue Echohawk is a difficult student, to say the least. Tough, hard and overtly sexy, she is the complete opposite of the young British teacher who decides he is up for the challenge, and takes the troublemaker under his wing.

This is the story of a nobody who becomes somebody. It is the story of an unlikely friendship, where hope fosters healing and redemption becomes love. But falling in love can be hard when you don’t know who you are. Falling in love with someone who knows exactly who they are and exactly why they can’t love you back might be impossible.

When I said I was on an Amy Harmon binge, I wasn’t kidding. Now, this one took me a little longer to get in to – I initially had a hard time liking and sympathizing with Blue. But once I got into the story that all changed. I can see why this book is so popular, and I would definitely recommend it!

4.5 STARS

28161530Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the orchard.

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.

This book was such a fantastic surprise. I had never read anything by this author, but was intrigued by the synopsis for this one. It was my version of a perfect romance, one that kept me glued to the pages and sad when it ended. I love stories that include amazing side characters, and to my delight, the author made this a series (of stand alones). I was so impressed with this book that I immediately preordered the next book in the series.

5 Stars

29087455Steadfast by Sarina Bowen

She’s the only one who ever loved him—and the only one he can never have.

Jude lost everything one spring day when he crashed his car into an apple tree on the side of the road. A man is dead, and there’s no way he can ever right that wrong. He’d steer clear of Colebury, Vermont forever if he could. But an ex-con in recovery for his drug addiction can’t find a job just anywhere.

For Sophie Haines, coming face to face with the man who broke her heart is gut-wrenching. Suddenly, he’s everywhere she turns. It’s hard not to stare at how much he’s changed. The bad boy who used to love her didn’t have big biceps and sun-kissed hair. And he’d never turn up volunteer in the church kitchen.

She knows it’s foolish to yearn for the man who returned all the heartsick letters she wrote him in prison. But the looks he sends her now speak volumes.

No one wants to see Sophie and Jude back together, least of all Sophie’s police chief father. But it’s a small town. And forbidden love is a law unto itself.

Book two was even better than the first, if it’s even possible. I loved Jude – he was fighting to get his life back on track, and was so determined not to fall back into old habits. It was admirable and my heart hurt for him the entire book. I loved how noble he was. He definitely stole my heart. Now I can’t wait for the third book to be released!

5 Stars

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Bossman by VI Keeland

The first time I met Chase Parker, I didn’t exactly make a good impression.

I was hiding in the bathroom hallway of a restaurant, leaving a message for my best friend to save me from my awful date.

He overheard and told me I was a bitch, then proceeded to offer me some dating advice.

So I told him to mind his own damn business―his own tall, gorgeous, full-of-himself damn business―and went back to my miserable date.

When he walked by my table, he smirked, and I watched his arrogant, sexy ass walk back to his date.

I couldn’t help but sneak hidden glances at the condescending jerk on the other side of the room. Of course, he caught me on more than one occasion, and winked.

When the gorgeous stranger and his equally hot date suddenly appeared at our table, I thought he was going to rat me out.

But instead, he pretended we knew each other and joined us―telling elaborate, embarrassing stories about our fake childhood.

My date suddenly went from boring to bizarrely exciting.

When it was over and we parted ways, I thought about him more than I would ever admit, even though I knew I’d never see him again.

I mean, what were the chances I’d run into him again in a city with eight million people?Then again…

What were the chances a month later he’d wind up being my new sexy boss?

I don’t know what I expected when I picked up this book, but once I started it, I couldn’t put it down. I loved everything about it – the banter, the romance, the sexy times, even the heartbreaking moments because they felt real and made this book so much more than a cheesy sex-filled romance. This book had heart and real emotion – I’m definitely going to read more by this author in the future!

5 Stars

Catch Up Reviews: Suspense Edition

After taking a blog break, I have gotten ridiculously behind on reviews. To be honest, I was behind on them before my little break.

I have read some really great books in the past few months and decided a mini review post is a good way of sharing with you the books I have enjoyed recently. Some of them are definite must reads and need to be added to your lists!


27274343 I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

You will be scared. But you won’t know why…

I’m thinking of ending things. Once this thought arrives, it stays. It sticks. It lingers. It’s always there. Always.

Jake once said, “Sometimes a thought is closer to truth, to reality, than an action. You can say anything, you can do anything, but you can’t fake a thought.”

And here’s what I’m thinking: I don’t want to be here.

In this deeply suspenseful and irresistibly unnerving debut novel, a man and his girlfriend are on their way to a secluded farm. When the two take an unexpected detour, she is left stranded in a deserted high school, wondering if there is any escape at all. What follows is a twisted unraveling that will haunt you long after the last page is turned.

In this smart, suspenseful, and intense literary thriller, debut novelist Iain Reid explores the depths of the human psyche, questioning consciousness, free will, the value of relationships, fear, and the limitations of solitude. Reminiscent of Jose Saramago’s early work, Michel Faber’s cult classic Under the Skin, and Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk about Kevin, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is an edgy, haunting debut. Tense, gripping, and atmospheric, this novel pulls you in from the very first page…and never lets you go.

I enjoyed this one, although I didn’t seem to love it like a lot of other reads have. It was a good suspense, it just left me with a lot of WTF moments. I would still recommend it.

3 Stars

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The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another taut and intense read.

This book was a really nice surprise. I read Ware’s previous book, In a Dark Dark Wood, and although I enjoyed it, it lacked that wow-factor. This book made up for it. It has a gripping, suspenseful, unique story line that hooked me.

4 Stars

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Eeny Meeny by M. J. Arlidge

The girl emerged from the woods, barely alive. Her story was beyond belief. But it was true. Every dreadful word of it.
Days later, another desperate escapee is found – and a pattern is emerging. Pairs of victims are being abducted, imprisoned then faced with a terrible choice: kill or be killed.
Would you rather lose your life or lose your mind?
Detective Inspector Helen Grace has faced down her own demons on her rise to the top. As she leads the investigation to hunt down this unseen monster, she learns that it may be the survivors – living calling cards – who hold the key to the case.
And unless she succeeds, more innocents will die . . .

This one was just okay for me. Helen kind of got on my nerves. But the suspense was good, and I would still like to read more in the series.

3 Stars

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Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

In this electrifying new stand-alone thriller, New York Timesbestselling author Karin Slaughter—“one of the best crime novelists in America” (The Washington Post)—delivers a chilling jolt of suspense. With a missing girl in the news, Claire Scott can’t help but be reminded of her sister, who disappeared twenty years ago in a mystery that was never solved. But when Claire begins to learn the truth about her sister, nothing will ever be the same.

I finally read my first Karin Slaughter book, and I’m so glad I did! I debated on this book many times. I was honestly scared to read it – I had heard it was pretty sick and twisted. And that is all true, but it was worth reading. My only gripe was the length. I felt like many things were drawn out too much and weren’t necessary to the story. Besides that, this book is excellent, and I will definitely read more by this author in the future.

4 Stars

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For You by Kristen Ashley

Lieutenant Alexander Colton and February Owens were high school sweethearts. Everyone in their small town knew from the moment they met they were meant for each other. But something happened and Feb broke Colt’s heart then she turned wild and tragedy struck. Colt meted out revenge against the man who brought Feb low but even though Colt risked it all for her, Feb turned her back on him and left town.

Fifteen years later, Feb comes back to help run the family bar. But there’s so much water under the bridge separating her and Colt everyone knows they’ll never get back together.

Until someone starts hacking up people in Feb’s life. Colt is still Colt and Feb is still Feb so the town watches as Colt goes all out to find the murderer while trying to keep Feb safe.

As the bodies pile up, The Feds move in and a twisting, turning story unravels exposing a very sick man who has claimed numerous victims along the way, Feb and Colt battle their enduring attraction and the beautiful but lost history that weaves them together.

Every once in awhile I get in the mood for a KA book. She’s loved by many, but I can only handle her books in small doses. Lots of alpha male talk and so much added prose that it makes her books unnecessarily long. That being said, I do enjoy her books immensely when I’m in the right mood, and I LOVED this book. It was a fantastic romantic suspense, and I definitely want to read more in the series.

5 Stars

{Review} The Obsession

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About the book

Naomi Bowes lost her innocence the night she followed her father into the woods. In freeing the girl trapped in the root cellar, Naomi revealed the horrible extent of her father’s crimes and made him infamous.

Now a successful photographer living under the name Naomi Carson, she has found a place that calls to her, thousands of miles away from everything she’s ever known. Naomi wants to embrace the solitude, but the residents of Sunrise Cove keep forcing her to open up―especially the determined Xander Keaton.

Naomi can feel her defenses failing, and knows that the connection her new life offers is something she’s always secretly craved. But as she’s learned time and again, her past is never more than a nightmare away.

My Thoughts

I looked forward to reading this book for a long time, and it did not disappoint. Although a bit long and detailed at times, I was never once bored or wanted to skim pages. And normally I am easily irritated with too much added detail in books. Something about this story made me want to read it slowly and savor it. I really loved Naomi and admired her strength, after everything she had been through in life. I adored her uncles and brother. And then there’s Xander – he’s determined and knows what he wants, and I loved that about him. With a large cast of likeable characters, a perfect setting (I only dream of moving to Seattle and living in a house like that!), a slow-burning romance, and the added suspense – this book made for a perfect read.

Bottom Line

Nora Roberts at her best, and a must read for those who love romantic suspense.

5 Stars

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Standalone

Published April 12th 2016 by Berkley

Length: 464 Pages

 

{Review} Too Late

29610595

About the book

Sloan will go through hell and back for her little brother. And she does, every single night.

Forced to remain in a relationship with the dangerous and corrupt Asa Jackson, Sloan will do whatever it takes to make sure her brother has what he needs.

Nothing will get in her way.

Nothing except Carter.

Sloan is the only good thing to ever happen to Asa. He knows this and he never plans on letting her go; even if she doesn’t approve of his lifestyle. But despite Sloan’s disapproval, Asa knows what it takes to get what he wants. He knows what he needs to do to remain on top.

Nothing will get in his way.

Nothing except Carter.

My Thoughts

You know my love for this woman, so I’ll spare you the gushing. This book was CoHo stepping away from her norm and dipping into the dark side a little bit. It is graphic and erotic, with an added element of suspense. I love that CoHo got a little twisted with this story, because it was unique, as is ALL of her books. She surprises me every single time, and that is one of the many reasons I love her books so much.

Also, this book is FREE on Wattpad. A free book just because she.is.awesome. I really hope it’s eventually printed, because I’d love to add it to my CoHo shelf.

Bottom Line

There isn’t a Colleen Hoover book I don’t love.

5 Stars

Genre: New Adult, Romantic Suspense

Standalone

Published April 8th 2016 by Wattpad

Length: 247 Pages