2022 Book #3 – Made in Manhattan by Lauren Layne

Title: Made in Manhattan
Author: Lauren Layne
Date finished: 1/14/22
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: January 18, 2022
Pages in book: 297
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Central Park Pact comes a reverse My Fair Lady for the modern era about a pampered and privileged Manhattan socialite who must teach an unpolished and denim-loving nobody from the Louisiana Bayou how to fit in with the upper crust of New York City. Perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne.

Violet Townsend has always been a people pleaser. Raised in the privileged world of Upper East Side Manhattan, she always says the right things, wears the right clothes, and never rocks the boat. Violet would do anything for the people closest to her, especially her beloved grandmother. So when she asks Violet to teach the newly-discovered grandson of her friend how to fit in with New York City’s elite, Violet immediately agrees. Her goal? To get Cain Stone ready to take his place as heir to his family company…but to say he’s not exactly an eager student is an understatement.

Born and raised in rural Louisiana and now making his own way in New Orleans, Cain Stone is only playing along for the paycheck at the end. He has no use for the grandmother he didn’t know existed and no patience for the uppity Violet’s attempts to turn him into a suit-wearing, museum-attending gentleman.

But somewhere amidst antagonistic dinner parties and tortured tux fittings, Cain and Violet come to a begrudging understanding—and the uptight Violet realizes she’s not the only one doing the teaching. As she and Cain begin to find mutual respect for one another (and maybe even something more), Violet learns that blindly following society’s rules doesn’t lead to happiness…and that sometimes the best things in life come from the most unexpected places.

My rating: 2.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have read other books by this author in the past and have enjoyed them. And I was interested by the premise of this story also. I can’t say that I ended up loving it though. It just didn’t end up working for me personally – though it was a good book and was well written. I personally didn’t care for Cain – he was too surly for my tastes and was downright mean to Violet at times. And we went through the whole thing of “well if he is mean to you it means he actually likes you” and I just can’t get on board with that anymore. And I know Violet’s personal journey was important but I didn’t like the personal “transformations” that either she or Cain went through. It was still a cute story and there was some pretty good banter. I just didn’t end up loving it. I think it’s still worth a read but this one just didn’t work for me personally.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2022 Book #2 – Love at First Spite by Anna E. Collins

Title: Love at First Spite
Author: Anna E. Collins
Date finished: 1/8/22
Genre: Contemporary romance, romantic comedy
Publisher: Graydon House
Publication Date: January 4, 2022
Pages in book: 298
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Falling in love is the ultimate payback in this delightful, breezy romcom about an interior designer who teams up with an enigmatic architect at her firm to get revenge on her ex the only way she knows how: by building a spite house next door

They say living well is the best revenge. But sometimes, spreading the misery seems a whole lot more satisfying. That’s interior designer Dani Porter’s justification for buying the vacant lot next to her ex-fiancé’s house…the house they were supposed to live in together, before he cheated on her with their Realtor. Dani plans to build a vacation rental that will a) mess with his view and his peace of mind and b) prove that Dani is not someone to be stepped on. Welcome to project Spite House.

That plan quickly becomes complicated when Dani is forced to team up with Wyatt Montego, the handsome, haughty architect at her firm, and the only person available to draw up blueprints. Wyatt is terse and stern, the kind of man who eats his sandwich with a knife and fork. But as they spend time together on- and off-site, Dani glimpses something deeper beneath that hard veneer, something surprising, vulnerable, and real. And the closer she gets to her goal, the more she wonders if winning revenge could mean losing something infinitely sweeter…

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

One of my all-time favorite tropes is enemies to lovers, even better if they’re work place enemies. So when I saw the description for this one I was so excited to read it. I really liked the book at first too – there was some great banter, I loved the concept of the revenge rental property and it was entertaining! Dani just got to be too much for me – she was a little too whiny for me by the end. And her and Wyatt had like zero communication skills. By the end of the book I just had trouble believing that they were going to be able to make it work. This was still a very entertaining read and I’d recommend it because I did like it – it just wasn’t a great read for me.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #108 – New Year Kiss with His Cinderella by Annie O’Neil

HRomance_Banner_970x300

Title: New Year Kiss with His Cinderella
Author: Annie O’Neil
Date finished: 12/23/21
Genre: Contemporary romance, medical romance
Publisher: Harlequin Medical Romance
Publication Date: December 28, 2021
Pages in book: 194
Stand alone or series: Nashville ER series Book #1
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

From a midnight kiss…
…to a reunion in the ER!
When Dr. Carter shares a New Year’s kiss with a captivating stranger, he doesn’t expect a reunion. Then he walks into Saint Dolores’s ER the very next day…and discovers she’s his new colleague! Awkwardly, their smoking-hot attraction hasn’t gone away! But for Carter, life has meant staying mobile, and he can’t simply lay down roots. Yet there’s something about Nurse Avery and Nashville that’s starting to really feel like home…

My rating:  2.5 stars out of a scale of 5

Tour image_dreamer_Harlequin

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I signed up to participate in this blog tour post for this month’s Harlequin blog tour and I thought this book sounded interesting so I signed up to read it. I liked some pieces of this book, but I have to say I didn’t love it. It was my first medical romance and I definitely liked that aspect of it and trying something new. I just couldn’t really get into the plot or the characters emotionally and the book ended up kind of dragging for me. I still think it’s interesting and is worth the read but it wasn’t my favorite.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #106 – Here and Gone by Haylen Beck

Title: Here and Gone
Author: Haylen Beck
Date finished: 12/8/21
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: June 20, 2017
Pages in book: 304
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Here and Gone is a gripping, wonderfully tense suspense thriller about a mother’s desperate fight to recover her stolen children from corrupt authorities.

It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she’s pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff, things soon go awry and she is taken into custody. Only when she gets to the station, her kids are gone. And then the cops start saying they never saw any kids with her, that if they’re gone than she must have done something with them…

Meanwhile, halfway across the country a man hears the frenzied news reports about the missing kids, which are eerily similar to events in his own past. As the clock ticks down on the search for the lost children, he too is drawn into the desperate fight for their return.

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had originally requested this book because it sounded very interesting. I haven’t read anything or even really heard much about this author before but the plot of the book sounded too intense to pass up. And intense it sure was! It was even a struggle for me to read it at first because of how frustrating I found it. Imagining what Audra was going through and (as a reader) putting myself in her shoes felt almost traumatic at points. If you push through that struggle at the beginning though, wow what a great ending! The reader will get the vindication of justice and also a couple great twists. I couldn’t put it down and just had to know what happened during the last like 1/2 of the book. I thought it was a really interesting book and, while I have trouble saying I “enjoyed” it just because of the subject matter, I would definitely recommend it.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #104 – The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger

Title: The Singles Game
Author: Lauren Weisberger
Date finished: 11/25/21
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: July 12, 2016
Pages in book: 353
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Devil Wears Prada and When Life Gives You Lululemons comes a dishy tell-all about a beautiful tennis prodigy who, after changing coaches, suddenly makes headlines on and off the court.

How far would you go to reach the top?

When America’s sweetheart, Charlotte “Charlie” Silver, makes a pact with the devil, the infamously brutal coach Todd Feltner, Good Girl Charlie is banished. After all, no one ever wins big by playing nice. Charlie finds herself catapulted into a world of celebrity stylists, private parties, charity events on mega-yachts, and secret dates with Hollywood royalty. But in a world obsessed with good looks and hot shots, is Charlie willing to lose herself to win it all?

My rating:  3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had originally requested this book because it sounded very interesting. I  recently read another of Weisberger’s novels and didn’t love it but I will say the plot line of this novel was fairly intriguing. I just found the overall story to be kind of flat – there was some character growth on the part of Charlie but other than that I thought that there could’ve been more growth with some of the other characters involved. It was a good story and I honestly liked it more than I expected to but it still wasn’t my favorite. The romance tied into the end of the story felt a little bit like a second thought. And there were a LOT of details about tennis, which may be appealing to some but was a bit more than I personally felt I needed. Overall was a pretty good book but I just think it wasn’t for me personally.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #96 – The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

Title: The Witchfinder’s Sister
Author: Beth Underdown
Date finished: 10/23/21
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
Pages in book: 316
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Essex, England, 1645. With a heavy heart, Alice Hopkins returns to the small town she grew up in. Widowed, with child, and without prospects, she is forced to find refuge at the house of her younger brother, Matthew. In the five years she has been gone, the boy she knew has become a man of influence and wealth—but more has changed than merely his fortunes. Alice fears that even as the cruel burns of a childhood accident still mark his face, something terrible has scarred Matthew’s soul.

There is a new darkness in the town, too—frightened whispers are stirring in the streets, and Alice’s blood runs cold with dread when she discovers that Matthew is a ruthless hunter of suspected witches. Torn between devotion to her brother and horror at what he’s become, Alice is desperate to intervene—and deathly afraid of the consequences. But as Matthew’s reign of terror spreads, Alice must choose between her safety and her soul.

Alone and surrounded by suspicious eyes, Alice seeks out the fuel firing her brother’s brutal mission—and is drawn into the Hopkins family’s past. There she finds secrets nested within secrets: and at their heart, the poisonous truth. Only by putting her own life and liberty in peril can she defeat this darkest of evils—before more innocent women are forced to the gallows.

Inspired by the real-life story of notorious “Witchfinder General” Matthew Hopkins, Beth Underdown’s thrilling debut novel blends spellbinding history with echoes of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale for a truly haunting reading experience.

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’ve had this one on my list for awhile and since it is Spooky October I am trying to read some witchy books this month and this one was a great fit. Even though I did not end up loving this one – it was pretty slow for me. It was a well written book but wow was it sad. It was honestly hard for me to get through it because it was just so heavy. Not just because of these poor women that this actually happened to (being accused of being a witch) but also because of everything that Alice had to go through. Losing her husband, all the miscarriages, all the shit she went through with her brother – all of it was just so terrible. This book felt really relevant though with all the people touring Salem this month and the travesties that occurred to women there. I thought this book had a really adept presentation of how fear can develop and grow over time and that development of the “mob mentality” that takes over. There were some good plot twists too that I didn’t see coming. Overall it was a good book, it was just not a book for me right now!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #87 – When Sparks Fly by Helena Hunting

Title: When Sparks Fly
Author: Helena Hunting
Date finished: 9/22/21
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: September 21, 2021
Pages in book: 371
Stand alone or series: Stand alone (kind of hoping to see more books for the friends or the sisters though!)
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Charming, hilarious, and emotional…When Sparks Fly is Helena Hunting at her very best!

Avery Spark is living her best life. Between her friends, her sisters, and Spark House, the event hotel her family owns, she doesn’t have much time for anything else, especially relationships. She’d rather hang out with her best friend and roommate, Declan McCormick, than deal with the dating scene. But everything changes when she is in a car accident and needs someone to care for her as she heals.

Declan avoids relationships, giving him a playboy reputation that he lives up to when he puts a one-night stand ahead of a promise he made to Avery. While he may not have been the one driving the car, he feels responsible for Avery’s injuries and is determined to make it up to her by stepping into the role of caretaker.

Little did they know that the more time they spend in compromising positions, the attraction they’ve been refusing to acknowledge becomes impossible to ignore. When they finally give in to the spark between them, neither is prepared for the consequences. Their love is fragile and all it will take is a blow from the past to shatter it all.

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’ve read a few other books by this author and really enjoyed them so I was excited to read her new release! Helena Hunting is an interesting author to me because she spans the genre between more steamy (her Pucked series from what I remember is on the steamier side) to very low steam level. This book was on the lower side and I have to say I thought there was a lack of chemistry really between the protagonists. They definitely were well suited for each other and it was still a romantic story but I just didn’t necessarily buy into there being a strong attraction between the two of them. Other than that I thought this book was pretty good. I liked the plot – it was different from a lot of others in the romance genre and I found it pretty original. I would recommend it, especially if you like romance that is a little less graphic!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #74 – The Telling by Alexandra Sirowy

Title: The Telling
Author: Alexandra Sirowy
Date finished: 9/15/21
Genre: Young adult, thriller, suspense, mystery
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Pages in book: 400
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A chilling new novel about a girl who must delve into her past if she wants to live long enough to have a future when a series of murders that are eerily similar to the dark stories her brother used to tell start happening in her hometown.

Lana used to know what was real. That was before, when her life was small and quiet. Her golden stepbrother, Ben was alive. She could only dream about bonfiring with the populars. Their wooded island home was idyllic, she could tell truth from lies, and Ben’s childhood stories were firmly in her imagination.

Then came after.

After has Lana boldly kissing her crush, jumping into the water from too high up, living with nerve and mischief. But after also has horrors, deaths that only make sense in fairy tales, and terrors from a past Lana thought long forgotten. Love, blood, and murder.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I haven’t read many young adult books lately so this was a nice change of pace. And the mystery plot line was interesting and had an unexpected outcome that I was surprised by. I’m getting further away from my young adult years so I have trouble connecting somewhat to the characters. There were parts of the plot that I thought were a little ridiculous but overall it was a good story. I was surprised at how much murder there was considering it was a young adult book but I would still recommend it!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #83 – Lies by T.M. Logan

Title: Lies
Author: T.M. Logan
Date finished: 9/13/21
Genre: Thriller, suspense, mystery
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: September 11, 2018
Pages in book: 406
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Six days ago, Joe Lynch was a happily married man, a devoted father, and a respected teacher living in a well-to-do London suburb. But that was before he spotted his wife’s car entering a hotel parking garage. Before he saw her in a heated argument with her best friend’s husband. Before Joe confronted the other man in an altercation where he left him for dead, bleeding and unconscious.

Now, Joe’s life is unraveling. His wife has lied to him. Her deception has put their entire family in jeopardy. The man she met at the hotel has vanished. And as the police investigate his disappearance, suspicion falls on Joe.

Unable to trust the woman he loves, Joe finds himself at the mercy of her revelations and deceits, unsure of who or what to believe. All he knows is that her actions have brought someone dangerous into their lives—someone obsessed with her and determined to tear Joe’s world apart.

What if your whole life was based on LIES?

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I didn’t love this book at first – it took me a little while to get into it but once I did the plot line was very intriguing. I didn’t want to put it down because I had to find out what would happen next. And there was a great plot twist at the end that I didn’t really see coming. It was just so sad though – without giving the ending away I just felt so sad for Joe. he honestly was just a nice guy and the police attacking him every second as well as just what he went through on a personal level through the story was so depressing to me. It was a great thriller though with a very good twist so if you like suspense novels this is a great one to read!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #75 – Walking the Bones by Randall Salvis

Title: Walking the Bones
Author: Randall Salvis
Date finished: 8/28/21
Genre: Thriller, suspense, mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: January 23, 2018
Pages in book: 466
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Ryan DeMarco Mystery series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Next in the literary, emotionally propulsive Ryan DeMarco Mystery novels from Randall Silvis, critically acclaimed master of crime fiction.

When long-buried secrets come back to the surface…

The bones of seven young girls, picked clean and carefully preserved, discovered years ago… that’s all Sergeant Ryan DeMarco knows about the unsolved crime he has unwittingly been roped into investigating during what is supposed to be a healing road trip with his new love, Jayme.

DeMarco is still reeling from the case that led to death of his best friend months ago and wants nothing more than to lay low. Unfortunately, the small southern town of Jayme’s idyllic youth is not exactly a place that lets strangers go unnoticed—especially strangers who have a history of solving violent crimes. And if there’s anything DeMarco knows, it’s that a killer always leaves clues behind, just waiting for the right person to come along and put all the pieces together…

Walking the Bones is a story about things buried—memories, regrets, secrets, and bodies. Acclaimed author Randall Silvis delivers an investigation as macabre and impenetrable as bone in this new addition to his riveting book series. DeMarco finds himself once again drawn into a case that will demand more of himself than he may be willing to give.

My rating:  1.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

This is outside my normal realm of what I read but I wanted to give it a try. It wasn’t my cup of tea though, there was a lot about the book that I struggled with. The mystery plot itself was pretty good and was interesting to follow along with. Other than that there were some antiquated pieces of the book – the way that the book portrays genders was odd to me. There were some odd descriptions, like when someone was eating it was described as feminine. I didn’t know there was a feminine or masculine way of eating. And Jayme’s character was presented weirdly to me and there were a lot of odd points in her background – specifically the description of her sexual background felt kind of unnecessary to the story line to me. There was also so much description – each new location and person had like two pages of description and it just got to be too much. This wasn’t a great book for me but if you like copy mysteries featuring a mature male then this would be a good read.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page