2020 Book #17 – Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey

Title: Love Her or Lose Her
Author: Tessa Bailey
Date finished: 4/24/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: January 14, 2020
Pages in book: 347
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Hot and Hammered series
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:

Rosie and Dominic Vega are the perfect couple: high school sweethearts, best friends, madly in love. Well, they used to be anyway. Now Rosie’s lucky to get a caveman grunt from the ex-soldier every time she walks in the door. Dom is faithful and a great provider, but the man she fell in love with ten years ago is nowhere to be found. When her girlfriends encourage Rosie to demand more out of life and pursue her dream of opening a restaurant, she decides to demand more out of love, too. Three words: marriage boot camp.

Never in a million years did Rosie believe her stoic, too-manly-to-emote husband would actually agree to relationship rehab with a weed-smoking hippie. Dom talking about feelings? Sitting on pillows? Communing with nature? Learning love languages? Nope. But to her surprise, he’s all in, and it forces her to admit her own role in their cracked foundation. As they complete one ridiculous—yet surprisingly helpful—assignment after another, their remodeled relationship gets stronger than ever. Except just as they’re getting back on track, Rosie discovers Dom has a secret… and it could demolish everything.

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 have heard a lot of good things about this author’s previous novel Fix Her Up. It was a very popular novel last year so I wanted to try reading the upcoming release (which is now a few months in the past). Bailey’s voice as an author was playful and endearing and if the previous book was anything like this one I can see why it was so popular. I procrastinated on reading this for awhile since I wasn’t sure how I felt about a romance novel featuring an already married couple whose marriage is on the rocks. And when I did start reading the novel, some of it hit a little too close to home for me: husband in the marines, comes home and can’t communicated how his tour in Afghanistan and subsequent return to civilian life is affecting him, and overall just a couple that has trouble communicating. Some of the emotions it brought out in me weren’t necessarily good ones but holy monkeys this book brought out so many emotions. The author did an amazing job of drawing the reader into the story and trapping them in the minds of the characters and their lives. I didn’t want to put it down, I felt so invested in the characters. Some pieces of the story didn’t feel realistic to be and/or they felt a little cliched but overall I really enjoyed the book so much – I would definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

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

2019 Book #50 – Buzz Books 2019 Romance Sampler

51nJyTD8rGLTitle: BuzzBooks 2019 Romance Sampler
Author: Various – see below
Date finished: 7/29/19
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Various
Publication Date: July 12, 2019
Pages in book: 252
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.

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

These are the samples that are included in the BuzzBooks 2019 Romance collection – each excerpt I’ve included a brief summary of my thoughts (based solely on the excerpts provided) and my interest in reading the whole book:

  1. Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams (November 5, 2019) – This was a really engaging first few chapters but I don’t think it is for me. It made me so sad to think about those little girls and what they’re dealing with. I know it’s really popular and I’m sure I would like it but I’m just not interested in reading it right now.
  2. The Blacksmith Queen by G.A. Aiken (August 27, 2019) – There was a lot going on in this book even just in the first couple chapters. There was a lot of dark, murderous stuff in the excerpt too and I didn’t quite grasp what was going on with just the first couple chapters.
  3. Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J Christopher (November 12, 2019) – This one seemed super good! I really liked the first couple chapters of this one, it was engaging and really grabs the reader into the story. I’m planning to request this one and hopefully read the full e-galley!
  4. Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn (December 31, 2019) – I loved the start of this one. The excerpt really leaves you hanging on the edge of a cliff and I can’t wait to find out what happens. I loved the lyricism of the author’s writing and how well developed I felt like the main character was even just within the first couple chapters. Definitely requesting this one so I can hopefully read the full e-galley!
  5. Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore (September 3, 2019) – Seemed like a solid historical romance, nothing really grabbed out in the first couple chapters to grab me though. I think I’d enjoy reading it but I’m trying to limit my NetGalley requests.
  6. The Dating Charade by Melissa Ferguson (December 3, 2019) – This excerpt was tough, it didn’t really get far enough in to give you a feel of what the story would be. It seemed ok but didn’t grab me.
  7. The Bachelor by Sabrina Jeffries (February 25, 2020) – I liked this one, it sounded pretty good actually. I think I’d enjoy reading it but I’m trying to limit my NetGalley requests so I will have to pass on this one.
  8. The Princess Plan by Julia London (November 19, 2019) – I’ve already signed up to review this one so I was interested to read the first couple chapters. It sounds interesting and I’m looking forward to reading it.
  9. The Little Bookshop on the Siene by Rebecca Raisin (January 7, 2020) – This sounded like it would be sweet and most likely interesting to a book reader like me but the heroine sounded a little too naive for me based on the first couple chapters. I’m kind of interested in the book but am trying to limit my NetGalley requests so I think I’ll pass on this one.
  10. Unspoken by Kelly Rimmer (November 26, 2019) – I was actually kind of interested in this one but I can not get on board with these two people getting back together. Overall the second chance romance is not an enjoyable trope for me but especially with how much hatred there was between these two at the start of the book I just can’t see how they’ll end up reconciling.
  11. A Royal Christmas Wish by Lizzie Shane (September 10, 2019) – This one didn’t quite catch my interest, the heroine seemed like she was somewhat whiny which doesn’t appeal to me. And overall the plot doesn’t sound like it would be something I’d love.
  12. The Sunday Potluck Club by Melissa Storm (March 31, 2020) – Lot of potential here! Just the first couple chapters had me feeling so many things. I’m definitely going to be requesting this one and hopefully will get to read the full e-galley!
  13. A Cowboy to Remember by Rebekah Weatherspoon (February 25, 2020) – This one wasn’t for me (I don’t love cowboy romances anymore) but definitely seems like something others would enjoy!

2019 Book #31 – The Suspect by Fiona Barton

51tMFK0fCDL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Suspect
Author: Fiona Barton
Date finished: 5/31/19
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: January 22, 2019
Pages in book: 416
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:

When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft, and frantic with worry. What were the girls up to before they disappeared?

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth—and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, whom she hasn’t seen in two years, since he left home to go travelling.

As the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think…

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 have heard a lot about this author so I was excited to try reading this new release. I didn’t end up loving this one – the plot was interesting but the book felt lengthy to me and some parts felt pretty dry. The author does do a great job of really transporting the reader – I could feel the heat and the grit of Bangkok and I felt the desperation, fear, and myriad of other emotions of the various characters of the story. The ending left things just a tad unresolved, which fit in with the characters and the story line I think but I don’t usually love endings like that. I tend to prefer endings that are wrapped up nice and neatly with a little bow. Overall though I enjoyed the book but it wasn’t a favorite. I am scheduled to read more by this author though and I’ve heard great things about her books. I’d recommend giving this one a try but be prepared that it can be slow in places.

Link to author website

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

2018 Book #20 – Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman

41-vpUXp6sLTitle: Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America’s Favorite Guilty Pleasure
Author: Amy Kaufman
Date finished: 3/9/18
Genre: Non-fiction, popular culture
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Pages in book: 320
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 first definitive, unauthorized, behind-the-scenes cultural history of the Bachelor franchise, America’s favorite guilty pleasure.

For fifteen years and thirty-five seasons, the Bachelor franchise has been a mainstay in American TV viewers’ lives. Since it premiered in 2002, the show’s popularity and relevance has only grown–more than eight million viewers tuned in to see the conclusion of the most recent season of The Bachelor.

The iconic reality television show’s reach and influence into the cultural zeitgeist is undeniable. Bestselling writers and famous actors live tweet about it. Die-hard fans–dubbed “Bachelor Nation”–come together every week during each season to participate in fantasy leagues and viewing parties.

Bachelor Nation is the first behind-the-scenes, unauthorized look into the reality television phenomenon. Los Angeles Times journalist Amy Kaufman is a proud member of Bachelor Nation and has a long history with the franchise–ABC even banned her from attending show events after her coverage of the program got a little too real for its liking. She has interviewed dozens of producers, contestants, and celebrity fans to give readers never-before-told details of the show’s inner workings: what it’s like to be trapped in the mansion “bubble”; dark, juicy tales of producer manipulation; and revelations about the alcohol-fueled debauchery that occurs long before the fantasy suite.

Kaufman also explores what our fascination means, culturally: what the show says about the way we view so-called ideal suitors, our subconscious yearning for fairy-tale romance, and how this enduring television show has shaped society’s feelings about love, marriage, and feminism by appealing to a marriage plot that’s as old as Jane Austen.

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.

So I ended up requesting this book because of the subject matter. I’ve honestly never watched the Bachelor show or any of the other shows in the franchise but I’ve always kind of had an interest in the show. I recently watched a show on Facebook, RelationShipped, that is a similar premise to The Bachelor shows and I loved the RelationShipped show, so when I saw this book available I figured, what the heck I’ll give it a try. I was impressed by the amount of work and research that went into this book, it was a behind the scenes look into how the Bachelor works and gets produced but it also looks at the show from a psychological aspect. This book really sparked an interest for me and made me want to start watching the show (I bought and am watching Season 13 now). Hearing about how fake everything was actually made me want to see the show more, because while the people and their feelings are very real, what the audience is seeing isn’t always exactly what happened and that makes it feel more fictional to me.

I liked this book a lot, the only reason it didn’t get a higher score for me was just because I really prefer fiction (personally). The book overall was really interesting and fairly well paced, but the lack of a “plot” always leaves me feeling a little disappointed. Overall though this was a good book and was super informative, I would definitely recommend it, especially if you like The Bachelor TV series.

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #10 – The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson

61w21a21ol-_sx327_bo1204203200_Title: The Most Dangerous Place on Earth
Author: Lindsey Lee Johnson
Date finished: 2/5/17
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Pages in book: 288
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:

An unforgettable cast of characters is unleashed into a realm known for its cruelty—the American high school—in this captivating debut novel.
The wealthy enclaves north of San Francisco are not the paradise they appear to be, and nobody knows this better than the students of a local high school. Despite being raised with all the opportunities money can buy, these vulnerable kids are navigating a treacherous adolescence in which every action, every rumor, every feeling, is potentially postable, shareable, viral.
Lindsey Lee Johnson’s kaleidoscopic narrative exposes at every turn the real human beings beneath the high school stereotypes. Abigail Cress is ticking off the boxes toward the Ivy League when she makes the first impulsive decision of her life: entering into an inappropriate relationship with a teacher. Dave Chu, who knows himself at heart to be a typical B student, takes desperate measures to live up to his parents’ crushing expectations. Emma Fleed, a gifted dancer, balances rigorous rehearsals with wild weekends. Damon Flintov returns from a stint at rehab looking to prove that he’s not an irredeemable screwup. And Calista Broderick, once part of the popular crowd, chooses, for reasons of her own, to become a hippie outcast.
Into this complicated web, an idealistic young English teacher arrives from a poorer, scruffier part of California. Molly Nicoll strives to connect with her students—without understanding the middle school tragedy that played out online and has continued to reverberate in different ways for all of them.
Written with the rare talent capable of turning teenage drama into urgent, adult fiction, The Most Dangerous Place on Earth makes vivid a modern adolescence lived in the gleam of the virtual, but rich with sorrow, passion, and humanity.

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 is about quite a number of people, centering mostly around Miss Molly Nicoll, a new teacher at the high school in Mill Valley, and her junior level English class. Molly is fresh from graduation and eager to make her mark on her impressionable young students’ lives, thinking that she might be able to provide something to these rich and spoiled students that they had been lacking up until now. But Molly doesn’t know the history behind her class, does not know what happened to them in eighth grade that affected each of them in different ways. And while she things she understands her students, she soon finds out that she doesn’t really know them at all. The book tells the story alternating between Molly’s point of view and that of her students. Each student is featured in a chapter where we learn more about their personal life and learn a little more about the story line with each.
Overall I liked this book. The story line was interesting if a little scattered. I liked hearing about the story from the point of view of different characters but at the same time hearing about so many people’s stories left me feeling like none of the story lines were particularly resolved. There were so many bad things that happened to these kids and I just felt so bad for all the mistakes that left them so screwed up. This did a great job of portraying how quickly bullying can get out of hand when its done online. And I also thought the author did a really great job of putting the reader into the shoes of the high school students, making the reader feel that desperation that comes with being a teenager in overcoming each new obstacle. This was a good book and I liked it, I would recommend it.

The bottom line: This book was ok, I found the cast of characters engaging but I didn’t see much point with the story line. And there was a lack of closure with each person’s story since we jump from one character to the next. Overall it was an interesting read though and I would recommend it.

Link to author website

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