2020 Book #24 – The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren

Title: The Honey-Don’t List
Author: Christina Lauren
Date finished: 5/8/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: March 24, 2020
Pages in book: 318
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:

Carey Duncan 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.

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 love Christina Lauren’s books. Each of them is great in their own way but overall they are all wonderful and heart warming. This book was a lot less emotionally driven than some books in the past by this author, but it was in no way less entertaining. The characters and the plot were interesting and kept me reading and not wanting to put the book down. Carey was such a sweetheart and there was nothing about her character that I didn’t love. The chemistry between her and James seemed so genuine and so perfectly developed. There wasn’t anything that I could pinpoint about this book that I did not like, it was light and fun and a great read. It didn’t tug on my heart strings all that much but I think this one was meant to be a lighter read than some of the other novels by these authors. It was still full of Christina Lauren’s trademark personality and fun of their novels. This was exactly what I needed to read right now, I greatly enjoyed it and I would definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #27 – What You Don’t Know About Charlie Outlaw by Leah Stewart

51FTCr4LCSLTitle: What You Don’t Know About Charlie Outlaw
Author: Leah Stewart
Date finished: 4/8/18
Genre: Fiction, literary fiction
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
Pages in book: 336
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:

The celebrated author (whom The Boston Globe compared to Anne Tyler) of The Myth of You and Me explores an untraditional love story through the lens of a character actor who must finally become the hero of her own story.

After a series of missteps in the face of his newfound fame, actor Charlie Outlaw flees to a remote island in search of anonymity and a chance to reevaluate his recent breakup with his girlfriend, actress Josie Lamar. But soon after his arrival on the peaceful island, his solitary hike into the jungle takes him into danger he never anticipated.

As Charlie struggles with gaining fame, Josie struggles with its loss. The star of a cult TV show in her early twenties, Josie has spent the twenty years since searching for a role to equal that one, and feeling less and less like her character, the heroic Bronwyn Kyle. As she gets ready for a reunion of the cast at a huge fan convention, she thinks all she needs to do is find a part and replace Charlie. But she can’t forget him, and to get him back she’ll need to be a hero in real life.

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.

Ever wondered what it was like to be an actor? It’s not something I ever really thought much about, but still while reading this book I found myself interested in a lot of the thought process that goes behind the acting gig. I’m an accountant myself and have never really been much of an actor (I really am an awful liar and am somewhat terrible at secret-keeping) but after reading this book I can say that I identify with some pieces of the job. I also tend to be overly sensitive and emphatic, which gets me into trouble sometimes just like it did Charlie. And while I could resonate with his character on this specific idea, there were a lot of other parts of this book that got lost in translation for me. It felt to me like there was a limited amount of action thrown in between inner monologues and flash backs and character changes, all of which didn’t have much transition and multiple times I had to go back and figure out where the switch happened. While I really did enjoy the plot and I loved the ending, I found the book to be overly wordy and I had to struggle a little to make my way through it. This book has gotten some great reviews though and I did like the characters and the plot a lot so I would definitely still recommend checking it out!

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #62 – Hello Sunshine by Laura Dave

515tgDMkSOLTitle: Hello Sunshine
Author: Laura Dave
Date finished: 7/21/17
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
Pages in book: 256
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:

Sunshine Mackenzie has it all…until her secrets come to light.

Sunshine Mackenzie is living the dream—she’s a culinary star with millions of fans, a line of #1 bestselling cookbooks, and a devoted husband happy to support her every endeavor.
And then she gets hacked.
When Sunshine’s secrets are revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. She loses the husband, her show, the fans, and her apartment. She’s forced to return to the childhood home—and the estranged sister—she’s tried hard to forget. But what Sunshine does amid the ashes of her own destruction may well save her life.
In a world where celebrity is a careful construct, Hello, Sunshine is a compelling, funny, and evocative novel about what it means to live an authentic life in an inauthentic age.

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. This book tells the story of Sunshine Mackenzie (Stevens), a celebrity chef whose career is almost 10 years in the making. On the cusp of the greatest developments in her career, including a Food Network show and a book series, someone has apparently become determined to take her down. Within one day she loses everything: her career, her home, and her husband. Forced down about a million pegs and with no on else to turn to, Sunshine is forced to crawl home with her tail between her legs. And to her actual home in the Hamptons and not the Texas small town that everyone believed she was from. There she confronts a sister she hasn’t spoken to in years and a niece she doesn’t know at all. Sunshine comes up with a plan to put her life back to the way it was, but the enforcement of said plan becomes questionable after she begins reconnecting to her roots. And in the end Sunshine has to decide if her old life is something that she really wants back.
Overall this book was just ok for me. I didn’t love it but I didn’t dislike it either. It was interesting for the most part but there were also a lot of pieces that either didn’t make sense to me or just kind of annoyed me. Sunshine was an extremely hard character to care for, she is flawed and and selfish and just kind of an awful person at the beginning of the story, Her character evolves and really does draw the reader in but at the same time I never found myself wanting her to win. Still when you find out who it was that actually betrayed her, I felt so much pity for her. Her life is just so completely screwed up, its so depressing. I thought that the author’s commentary on technology through the book and the effect its had on the general population was interesting and completely true. Sunshine’s niece Sammy was amazingly cute and probably my favorite part of the whole book. And while I ended up liking the book more than I expected to, I still didn’t love it. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend or not recommend, but the book was ok.

The bottom line: Eh, this book wasn’t my favorite. It was pretty good just had a few things that didn’t appeal to me personally. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it or not recommend it, I know its pretty popular with other readers.

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #46 – According to a Source by Abby Stern

519mxmgjKNLTitle: According to a Source
Author: Abby Stern
Date finished: 5/21/17
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Publication Date: May 23, 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:

Ella Warren loves her job working for celebrity news magazine, The Life, as an undercover reporter. Her evenings are spent using her alias to discreetly attend red carpet events, nightclubs, and Hollywood hotspots like the fabulous Chateau Marmont, where her eyes are always peeled for the next big celebrity story.
When Ella’s new Devil Wears Prada-type boss starts a not-so-friendly competition among the reporters to find an exclusive story or be fired, the stakes are higher than ever. But is being in Hollywood’s elite inner circle worth jeopardizing her friendship with budding actress Holiday Hall and her relationships with her boyfriend and her family? As the competition grows fiercer, her life becomes intertwined in a public scandal that may cost her everything.
A juicy, big-hearted novel about a young woman who loses herself in a fast-paced, glamorous world where finding your authentic self isn’t easy.

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. This book tells the story of Ella Warren, an undercover freelance reporter for The Life, a gossip magazine. Ella’s job involves her going to the hottest clubs and restaurants in Hollywood to search for a new scoop each night. This unfortunately takes her away from her boyfriend of seven years, Ethan. And then one night all of a sudden Ethan decides he’s had enough. He moves out the next day and Ella is left adrift. But between her heiress best friend Holiday and her college best friend Jessica, Ella manages to pull the pieces together and actually even finds a new boyfriend. Her new editor at the magazine though has started using a points system to decide who gets fired or not, and so Ella is under more pressure than ever to get the biggest and best scoop, no matter the cost.
Overall I liked this book a lot. It reminded me a lot of the Gossip Girl books, which I loved as a teenager. The gossip about all the celebrities included code names instead of real names, which made sense because I think otherwise it would have been too hard to keep track of who was who with the celebrities. The pace of this book was great and there was a good amount of scandal and intrigue. There was also betrayal and romance and family drama. I can’t imagine how anyone could have fit anything else into this book, it was bursting with interesting events. And while I liked it, there were pieces of it that I didn’t love. I thought Ella was just too self-absorbed for my tastes. Even after she turned things around at the end she still seemed a little too all about her. Other than that though I really liked the book and I would recommend it.

The bottom line: This was a funny and entertaining book. It reminded me a bit of Gossip Girl with the code names. I didn’t love the way the ending was set up but I liked the book overall. I would recommend it.

Link to author website

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2015 Book #23 – Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling


Title: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
Author: Mindy Kaling
Date finished: 3/28/15
Genre: Humorous commentary
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Pages in book: 222
Stand alone or series: Stand alone

Blurb from the cover:

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”
Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!
In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

My rating: 4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will count towards my “Bookish Bingo” reading challenge, marking off the “POC MC” square, which I had to ask to discover but this means Person of Color Main Character.  I decided to give this book a try because I love Mindy’s character on The Office and I loved her in that movie with Natalie Portman where they are nurses that live in an apartment together. Unbeknownst Mindy is actually a writer for the show The Office. I had no idea of the extent of her genius! She comes off as cocky in some parts of the book but she should be! She is hilarious! I fought this book to be witty and very entertaining.
This book is a humorous look at the many different parts of Mindy’s life that have made her the Mindy she is today. Its also a commentary on many different things including dating and other general life areas. I thought it was really funny.

The bottom line:  I thought this book was really funny, witty and interesting. Of course I like her sense of humor. I would recommend to people who laugh when the watch The Office. Not that she just talks about The Office or is defined by her work on The Office. But she writes some of the scenes for The Office. So. Whatever.

Memorable Quotes: 
“Going on and on in detail about how stressed out I am ins’t conversation. It’ll never lead to anywhere. No one is going to say, ‘Wow, Mindy, you really have it especially bad. I have heard some stories of stress, but this just takes the cake.” (page 75)
As a follow up to this, your life is always going better than someone else’s at any given point. Unless you’re being murdered. That you should probably get to bitch about.

Link to Wikipedia website about author
Link to Amazon

2015 Book #20 – Tribute by Nora Roberts


Title: Tribute
Author: Nora Roberts
Date finished: 3/16/15
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Publication Date: July 8, 2008
Pages in book: 451
Stand alone or series: Stand alone

Blurb from the cover:

Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a long way from Hollywood. And that’s exactly how Cilla McGowan likes it. Cilla, a former child star, has found a more satisfying life working with her hands to restore homes from floor to ceiling – and has come here to her grandmother’s farmhouse, tools at her side, to rescue it from ruin. Sadly, no one had been able to save her grandmother, the legendary Janet Hardy. An actress with a golden voice and a tumultuous life, Janet entertained glamorous guests and engaged in decadent affairs – but died of an overdose in this very house more than thirty years ago. To this day, Janet haunts Cilla’s dreams. And during her waking hours, Cilla is haunted by her melodramatic, five-times-married mother, who carried on in the public spotlight and never gave her a chance at a normal childhood. By coming to the East Coast, rolling up her sleeves, and rehabbing this wreck of a house, Cilla intends to take a shot at finding some kind of normalcy for herself. Cilla has her work cut out for her – the house, once a place of comfort and simple rural beauty, is long neglected, crumbling, the grounds choked by weeds. Plunging into the project with gusto, she’s almost too busy and exhausted to notice her neighbor, graphic novelist Ford Sawyer – but his lanky form, green eyes, and easy, unflappable humor (not to mention his delightfully ugly dog, Spock) are hard to ignore. Determined not to carry on the family tradition of ill-fated romances, Cilla steels herself against Ford’s quirky charm, but she can’t help indulging in a little fantasy. But love and a peaceful life may not be in the cards for Cilla. In the house’s cluttered attic, she has found a cache of unsigned letters, tied with a faded red ribbon, suggesting that Janet Hardy was pregnant when she died – and that the father of her child was a local married man. Cilla can’t help but wonder what really happened all those years ago. The mystery only deepens with a series of cruel and intimidating acts and a frightening, violent assault. And if Cilla and Ford are unable to sort out who is targeting her and why, she may, like her world-famous grandmother, be cut down in the prime of her life.

My rating: 3.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will count towards my “Bookish Bingo” reading challenge, marking off the “Gold Lettering” square.  So Cilla, a child star now grown up and trying to find her place in the world, has purchased her grandmother’s homestead from her mother. Ford is attracted to Cilla right off the bat and he immediately can picture her as the star of a new series for his graphic novels (like comic books). Someone is threatening Cilla though, leaving her mutilated dolls of herself from when she was a child star, destroying her house, even attacking her friend Steve. Ford will do anything to protect her.
I didn’t especially love this book. There were entertaining parts but overall I didn’t love the plot line and I didn’t especially jive with the plot twist of who ended up being the bad guy at the end. I guess the book was ok.

The bottom line:  This book was ok, I wasn’t thrilled but it kept me entertained for the most point.

Link to author website
Link to Amazon