2020 Book #58 – Wednesday, Walks & Wags by Melissa Storm

Title: Wednesdays, Walks, & Wags
Author: Melissa Storm
Date finished: 8/19/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: August 25, 2020
Pages in book: 272
Stand alone or series: The Sunday Potluck Club series book #2
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:

Bestselling author Melissa Storm reunites the members of the Sunday Potluck Club—and their canine companions—in a heartwarming story of friendship and second chances.
In the rapidly blooming courtyard beneath Bridget Moore’s new Anchorage apartment, the signs are unmissable: spring has come. As she unpacks boxes, Bridget hopes that she too is moving forward. With her tight schedule—college, working as a vet tech, volunteering at the animal shelter, caring for her beloved dogs—Bridget strives to keep too busy to register the pain of losing her mother just months ago.

Bridget’s new neighbor, Wesley, also seems to be running from something—quite literally. He and his two energetic dogs jog by twice a day. It isn’t long before she joins him. Bridget’s fellow members of the Sunday Potluck Club encourage her to enjoy Wesley’s company, though they understand all too well how tricky it can be to navigate life after loss.

But just as nature rebounds after the toughest winter, Bridget’s friendships, both human and canine, are a reminder that love and joy go on. With each outing, Bridget is rediscovering the simple pleasures that mean so much. A warm smile, a sun-drenched evening, a waggy tail—little by little, they may help Bridget find the path to happiness again . . .

My rating:  3.0 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 read the first book in this series earlier this year and enjoyed it – it was sweet and touching. And I enjoyed this one too, it was fine but maybe a little dull. Wesley’s inability to communicate was very frustrating and Bridget’s inability to stand up for herself was confusing. She seemed like a strong overall character but she was pretty young and had some things she needed to work through. This was a quick read and an ok story but it didn’t blow me away or anything. It was sweet and romantic though, and I loved how the four friends really come together to support each other. I would recommend it.

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

2018 Book #54 – Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

61pFV5dvJZLTitle: Lying in Wait
Author: Liz Nugent
Date finished: 6/26/18
Genre: Fiction, thriller, psychological suspense
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication Date: June 12, 2018
Pages in book: 322
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 international bestselling author of Unraveling Oliver, an “unputdownable psychological thriller with an ending that lingers long after turning the final page” (The Irish Times) about a Dublin family whose dark secrets and twisted relationships are suddenly revealed.

My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.

On the surface, Lydia Fitzsimons has the perfect life—wife of a respected, successful judge, mother to a beloved son, mistress of a beautiful house in Dublin. That beautiful house, however, holds a secret. And when Lydia’s son, Laurence, discovers its secret, wheels are set in motion that lead to an increasingly claustrophobic and devastatingly dark climax.

My rating:  4.5 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 was pretty great. It really sucks you in, by about a third of the way through I didn’t want to put it down. Each twist  in the road just made me more addicted to the plot. There was a sick and twisted feeling as the reader connects with the characters though, as many of the narrators in the novel have dark sides and dirty secrets. The book alternates between three different time periods and multiple points of view. I thought it was especially interesting that Lydia and Annie’s characters were both institutionalized at different points against their will. The plot twisted in a way that I did not expect, and I definitely did not see the ending coming at all. The ending was still crazy sad, but I guess I should have expected that based on how the book was going. I also thought it was interesting that the book looked at the difference in upper and lower classes and also the change in generations. Also there are some significant differences between the way things worked in Ireland at that time compared to everywhere else. Overall I thought this was a really great book and I would definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #83 – The Scot Beds His Wife by Kerrigan Byrne

51PMluAPISLTitle: The Scot Beds His Wife
Author: Kerrigan Byrne
Date finished: 9/27/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Pages in book: 416
Stand alone or series: #5 in the Victorian Rebels 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:

They’re rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards—dark, dashing men on the wrong side of the law. But for the women who love them, a hint of danger only makes the heart beat faster.

Gavin St. James, Earl of Thorne, is a notorious Highlander and an unrelenting Lothario who uses his slightly menacing charm to get what he wants—including too many women married to other men. But now, Gavin wants to put his shady past behind him…more or less. When a fiery lass who is the heiress to the land he wishes to possess drops into his lap, he sees a perfectly delicious opportunity…

A marriage most convenient

Samantha Masters has come back to Scotland, in a pair of trousers, and with a whole world of dangerous secrets from her time spent in the Wild West trailing behind her. Her only hope of protection is to marry—and to do so quickly. Gavin is only too willing to provide that service for someone he finds so disturbingly irresistible. But even as danger approaches, what begins as a scandalous proposition slowly turns into an all-consuming passion. And Gavin discovers that he will do whatever is necessary to keep the woman he has claimed as his own…

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. This book tells the story of Sam Masters and Gavin St. James. Sam is not your traditional heroine since at the beginning of the book she was married to, well a villain. When we first meet Sam she is in fact helping her husband rob a train, up until she shoots him in the head. Which is especially unfortunate as one of her brother-in-laws sees her do it and now she is on the run not only from the law but also from her husband’s family, who are looking for revenge. Luckily on that train she meets Alison Ross, a woman from Scotland who happens to need a stand in on location in order to claim her family’s land. Works out well for Sam, who needs a place to hide out for awhile. Gavin is looking to use that same piece of land in order to get out from under his brother’s thumb however, so Gavin and Sam battle it out over this land dispute. But when Sam’s troubles follow her to Scotland, Gavin vows to protect her.

Overall I liked this book. The plot line, while a little far-fetched in certain parts, was certainly intriguing. And while Sam was most definitely a flawed heroine, she had spirit and was pretty fierce. I tend to appreciate honesty over all else so some pieces of the story line (towards the end) kind of rubbed me the wrong way but it didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the book. There was a hell of a lot of flowery language in this book, especially considering how much of a rogue the hero supposedly was, I was surprised how poetic he could be. There was a good amount of swearing in this book, lots of f-bombs, so if you don’t like swearing just be warned. I didn’t mind it though, the characters in this story were fierce and it was fitting with their characters. I would be interested in reading some of the other books in the series.

Also make sure to check out my Blog Tour post on this book here!

The bottom line: I liked this book a good amount. There were a couple pieces of the plot that didn’t jive with me personally but I still thought it was a good story. There was a good build up of tension, I was on the edge of my seat by the end of the book. Lots of flowery language though.

Link to author website

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

2015 Book #78 – As Night Falls by Jenny Milchman


Title: As Night Falls
Author: Jenny Milchman
Date finished: 7/27/15
Genre:  Thriller/suspense
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: June 30, 2015
Pages in book: 359
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from Amazon:

Sandy Tremont has always tried to give her family everything. But, as the sky darkens over the Adirondacks and a heavy snowfall looms, an escaped murderer with the power to take it all away draws close.
In her isolated home in the shadowy woods, Sandy prepares dinner after a fight with her daughter, Ivy. Upstairs, the fifteen-year-old—smart, brave, and with every reason to be angry tonight—keeps her distance from her mother. Sandy’s husband, Ben, a wilderness guide, arrives late to find a home simmering with unease.
Nearby, two desperate men on the run make their way through the fading light, bloodstained and determined to leave no loose ends or witnesses. After almost twenty years as prison cellmates, they have become a deadly team: Harlan the muscle, Nick the mind and will. As they approach a secluded house and look through its windows to see a cozy domestic scene, Nick knows that here he will find what he’s looking for . . . before he disappears forever.
Opening the door to the Tremont home, Nick brings not only a legacy of terror but a secret that threatens to drag Sandy with him into the darkness.

My rating: 3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: **(ALERT THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW)** I feel like I have just seen this book everywhere lately (web sites, publications, summer to read listings) so when I saw it at the Library I grabbed it. I’ve been pretty into the thrillers lately so I’ve been looking forward to reading it. This story starts off being about a lady named Sandy and her husband Ben and daughter Ivy. As the story unfolds we also read passages from the viewpoint of a man named Nick and every once in a while a woman named Barbara, who we learn in one of the first few passages about her is Nick’s Mom. It isn’t 100% clear at first how Nick and Barbara are connected to Sandy’s life but it doesn’t take very long to put the pieces together.
I have to say that I wasn’t overly surprised by many of the things that happened in this book, whereas in most thrillers I like to have a few twists that I don’t see coming. The only one I can think of that I didn’t really see coming though was the crime that Nick was sent to jail for. That being said though, I didn’t consider the book predictable in the least and it definitely kept me on my toes trying to keep up with where the story was headed! I liked the plot development and also the characters’ development through the story. I have to be honest though, I was a bit turned off to the book until about halfway in because some of the scenes with Nick in them made me feel so creepy and grossed out and icky that I wanted to go take a shower and scrub my brain of the wretched man. He was a truly evil and dark person and even up to the end I was astounded that Barbara stood by him. Gosh I just wanted to punch that lady in the face, especially because of how she treated Cassandra, who was only ever a perfect angel.
Overall I thought this was a really good book and a solid thriller. I didn’t really get to like any of the characters too much but I think that was part of the point. Only person I did really like a good amount died, which was unfortunate. I mean I liked the main characters well enough but we all have our secrets I guess.
The bottom line: I would recommend this book, I thought it was a good psychological thriller.
Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #50 – Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell


Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Date finished: 5/27/15
Genre: Young adult – romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: February 26, 2013
Pages in book: 325
Stand alone or series: Stand alone

Blurb from the cover:

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough… Eleanor.
Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises… Park.
Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

My rating: 4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2015 checklist under the “a book set in high school” check box since it is in fact about two high school students. I had heard a lot of good things about this book and after reading Fangirl recently, I definitely wanted to get my hands on this one. I saw it a couple weeks ago at my local library and snatched it right up. Almost from the very beginning I was hooked on this book. I have to be honest in saying that I find some young adult romance novels overwhelmingly frustrating because everything is so angst-y all the time and it ends up feeling like the characters are just whining a lot. I have never in my life before had a book make me feel what this book did. I had a high school love, most people do, and even if you didn’t necessarily have a love, most people have felt the thrill of having a crush. Does he like me too? And then once you think he does, there is the thrill of the first time he holds your hand and the first time you kiss and just the thrill of being young and in love. This book dug deep inside my memory banks and brought back all those feelings I experienced in high school to the forefront. It really was astounding for me.
Eleanor has a lot of family issues (Park has some too I guess but Eleanor has way more and they’re more serious) that are discussed in the book. An abusive stepdad, a mom that won’t stand up for herself or her 5 children, an absentee dad, I could just go on and on. She doesn’t have a toothbrush until halfway through the book for goodness sake. Eleanor’s life and her family as it is described in book added a darkness to the book. The harshness of Eleanor’s life really was a great contrast to the joy and light blossoming inside her as she develops her relationship with Park. I mean her home life is awful and I was frustrated with her mom for pretty much the entire book but the fact that Eleanor was able to trust Park was unexpected and it shows how her character grows throughout the novel.
Overall I very much liked this book. I couldn’t put it down, it was one of those that sucks you in and two hours you look up and think “where am I?” The feelings that will consume you while reading this book are overwhelming, so just be prepared. They’re good feels though so don’t panic. The characters both grew a lot in the novel, Park specifically learned that you shouldn’t care what everyone else thinks, which I think was a great life-lesson for him. There are many parts of their relationship that seemed so realistic, especially for high school students, like Park being embarrassed about the way Eleanor dresses only because of how other people think of it. The ending I think is as it should be but I can see how some might like a more neat and defined ending. I like to think that in the future, Eleanor and Park end up together forever and get married and are happy throughout their marriage like Park’s parents.

The bottom line: I would definitely recommend this book. Falling in love for the first time all over again is not something that can usually be duplicated, but this book does a damn good job. Go buy it now, you want to have these emotions!

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #1 – Undead and Unwary by MaryJanice Davidson


Title: Undead and Unwary
Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Genre: Fiction – Paranormal comedy (with a very small amount of romance)
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group / Penguin Group
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Pages in book: 303
Stand alone or series: Series – Undead/Betsy Taylor #13

Blurb from the cover: First: kill Satan. Second: reorganize Hell. Sounded simple enough back then, but for Betsy Taylor, managing “down below” isn’t as easy as she’d hoped – even if she is doing it with her sister, Laura, a bona-fide Antichrist. So yes, Betsy has been shirking her hellish responsibilities, but she’s been just so darn busy these days. And she’s not just yanking Laura’s chain. There’s a brand-new baby drama involving a pair of uncanny (okay, terrifying) toddler twins, an upcoming birthday party that has to be planned, and, are you ready for it? Betsy’s dad – once so very dead – has been spotted in downtown St. Paul.
It’s enough to send Betsy fleeing to Hell, if only for some quiet time with Laura. But while there, in addition to meeting old acquaintances, Betsy discovers that death can be just as complicated as life.
Now, despite all the chaos, Betsy’s friends rally around, helping her handle all this fire and brimstone jazz. As for Betsy’s sister and dad – they have their own surprises in store for the vampire queen. And jolt by jolt, Betsy will discover that there’s nothing as heartwarming as family. Yeah, like Hell.

My rating: 3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2015 checklist under the “book with nonhuman characters” check box. This book picks up a few weeks after where the last book in the series left off. I’ve been a fan of this series from the beginning, but to be honest this book was not my favorite in the series. There was just too much reviewing of previous books, and not just references but like in depth explanations of relevant things that had happened in previous books. There was even a whole chapter that was an excerpt from a previous book. And while this is probably ideal for people who are picking up this series for the first time with this book (though I don’t know why any sane person would start a series with the thirteenth book) it ends up being pretty dry and somewhat tedious for someone who has already read the whole series and knows all the background information. I also had an issue with Betsy’s big revelation concerning Laura at the end. It never really says how she figured it out, all of a sudden a light-bulb turns on and she realizes her sister sucks. I just feel like that isn’t very realistic. I went with it though. Other than those two things, I really did enjoy the book. Betsy finally takes responsibility for Hell in an interesting way, and there are a lot of interesting developments concerning Betsy’s asshat father, Jessica’s great but weird kids, and Betsy’s abilities as the vampire Queen.

The bottom line:
  I would still recommend the series overall (and obviously this book as a piece of the series) but I wouldn’t recommend this book as a standalone.

Author website
: http://www.maryjanicedavidson.net/
Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Undead-Unwary-Queen-Betsy/dp/0425263444/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1420461969&sr=8-1
Memorable quotes from the book: