2020 Book #60 – Here to Stay by Adriana Herrera

Title: Here to Stay
Author: Adriana Herrera
Date finished: 8/28/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: August 25, 2020
Pages in book: 393
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:

Starting over is more about who you’re with than where you live…

Julia del Mar Ortiz is not having the best year.

She moved to Dallas with her boyfriend, who ended up ditching her and running back to New York after only a few weeks. Left with a massive—by NYC standards, anyway—apartment and a car lease in the scorching Texas heat, Julia is struggling…except that’s not completely true. Running the charitable foundation of one of the most iconic high fashion department stores in the world is serious #lifegoals.

It’s more than enough to make her want to stick it out down South.

The only monkey wrench in Julia’s plans is the blue-eyed, smart-mouthed consultant the store hired to take them public. Fellow New Yorker Rocco Quinn’s first order of business? Putting Julia’s job on the chopping block.

When Julia is tasked with making sure Rocco sees how valuable the programs she runs are, she’s caught between a rock and a very hard set of abs. Because Rocco Quinn is almost impossible to hate—and even harder to resist.

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 haven’t read anything by this author before, but I’ve heard a lot about her books on a couple of the podcasts I listen to and I’ve been wanting lately to read one. I liked the description on this book a lot and was excited to read it. I liked it a good amount. The hero and heroine were so passionate and lively and it really made for an interesting read. I can see why her books are so popular because even beyond the normal romance plot line there were some important issues that this book dealt with: immigration and emotional abuse being the major ones. I loved hearing about the after-school programs Julia had organized and all the information about her background and her education. She was fiercely successful and it was so great to see such a strong female character in a romance novel. Julia and Rocco also had just the most adorable nicknames and it made me melt. Some of the plot was a tad off-putting for me because the main conflict was somewhat the result of communication issues – which isn’t my favorite. Other than that though it was a really enjoyable read and I’d recommend it!

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

2019 Book #16 – The Duke of Distraction by Darcy Burke

51ZE6ziLGxL (1)Title: The Duke of Distraction
Author: Darcy Burke
Date finished: 2/28/19
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: February 26, 2019
Pages in book: 270
Stand alone or series:  The Untouchables series Book #12
Where I got the book from: Social Butterfly PR
I received this book for free from Social Butterfly PR 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:

After witnessing how love embittered his uncle and broke his father, Felix Havers, Earl of Ware vows never to love. He conceals his emotions behind a wall of wit and charm, and is celebrated as the master of entertainments—parties, picnics, races. When his best friend’s wallflower sister needs to find a husband, he promises to make her the toast of London… without losing his heart.

Miss Sarah Colton has given up on the pursuit of marriage. When her parents learn she intends to open a millinery shop, they give her an ultimatum: choose a husband or they’ll do it for her. She accepts Felix’s help, never imagining their scheme will ignite a mutual attraction neither of them dare indulge. But when tragedy strikes, can they heal each other or will the demons of Felix’s past consume them both?

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’ve been following this series for a little while now and I do enjoy each of the new stories that come out.  I think this has been one of my favorites from the series this far – I really loved Sarah and Felix’s story. Their chemistry was very well developed and felt so natural. Plus each of their characters alone were great – Sarah was fierce and independent and I just loved her character. And Felix was the perfect amount of brooding and mysterious, and at the same time he was such a genuinely loving character even though he tried to fight that side of himself. Also, I thought the author did a great job of developing a critical event mid-story that created additional tension and emotions between the hero and heroine. I think that has been one of my favorite things about reading the series thus far has been seeing the author’s development and the differences in the plots of the stories in the series. I’ve enjoyed both this book and the series overall, I would recommend reading this series if you enjoy historical romances.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #95 – Secret Sisters by Jayne Ann Krentz

Title: Secret Sisters
Author: Jayne Ann Krentz
Date finished: 12/17/18
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: December 8, 2015
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Purchased!

Blurb from the cover:

Madeline and Daphne were once as close as sisters—until a secret tore them apart. Now it might take them to their graves.

They knew his name, the man who tried to brutally attack twelve-year-old Madeline in her grandmother’s hotel. They thought they knew his fate. He wouldn’t be bothering them anymore…ever. Still their lives would never be the same. 

Madeline has returned to Washington after her grandmother’s mysterious death. And at the old, abandoned hotel—a place she never wanted to see again—a dying man’s last words convey a warning: the secrets she and Daphne believed buried forever have been discovered.

Now, after almost two decades, Madeline and Daphne will be reunited in friendship and in fear. Unable to trust the local police, Madeline summons Jack Rayner, the hotel chain’s new security expert. Despite the secrets and mysteries that surround him, Jack is the only one she trusts…and wants. 

Jack is no good at relationships but he does possess a specific skill set that includes a profoundly intimate understanding of warped and dangerous minds. With the assistance of Jack’s brother, Abe, a high-tech magician, the four of them will form an uneasy alliance against a killer who will stop at nothing to hide the truth….

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review:

I have read a lot of books by this author in the past and I just love her books. I purchased this book from a discount book store in Williamsburg, VA while I was on vacation a couple months ago. I have been having trouble keeping up with my review schedule (I’m chafing against how constrained I’ve been in my reading schedule the past few years) so I decided to pick this up and read it! 

I haven’t been super thrilled with some of this author’s other recent releases. It started to feel like there was a “plot formula” that was being followed. And while this book’s plot does still feel a bit similar to those I’ve read in the past, I still really enjoyed it. There were definitely some things that felt different about this one, I felt really interested in how things were going to turn out. And although I had somewhat of an idea, the plot twists kept me guessing right up until the end. There was a great build up in tension within the plot line but I still thought there was a lack of chemistry between the main characters. It felt almost like the emotions at play were a tad forced, it didn’t feel like there was a depth of real emotions there. This could have just been me personally not being able to connect much with the characters, but I find that this is a common issue for me with this author’s more recent work. It didn’t take much away from my enjoyment of the story though since I enjoyed the plot line so much. I’d still recommend reading it!

Link to author website

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2015 Book #69 – Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll


Title: Luckiest Girl Alive
Author: Jessica Knoll
Date finished: 7/8/15
Genre:  Fiction/Suspense
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Pages in book: 338
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.
But Ani has a secret.
There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.
With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that’s bigger than it first appears.
The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

My rating: 4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I feel like I have seen this book everywhere over the last few months. Every couple months now I feel like a book will come out and everyone says its the next “Gone Girl” but its nothing like Gone Girl. And that’s pretty much what happened with this one. It even says right on the front of the book “With the cunning and verve of Gillian Flynn” (Gone Girl author), leading readers to believe this will fill the hole in them that Gone Girl left behind. I think its unfair in most cases to compare one book to another because each is its own little magical portal and while you may find similarities in them, they really aren’t comparable. And to be honest I saw more parallels to Gone Girl in The Daylight Marriage than I did in this book.
Anyways, so this book is about TifAni FaNelli, who grew up far too quickly when she transferred from a Catholic girls school to an upper class private school almost an hour away from her house. She was expelled from the Catholic school for an incident that had to do with pot, but I thought the whole thing was odd since she didn’t get the pot in the first place. So she ends up going to this hoity toity private school with a bunch of rich kids whose parents don’t ever supervise them so they end up spending all their time getting drunk and doing drugs. She makes friends with the popular kids eventually but then an “incident” causes her to fall out of favor with them. I don’t want to say too much about what else happens with the high school stuff because it is a bit of a twist. The book alternates between her remembering these events from her childhood/high school experience and her at twenty-nine when she is getting ready for her wedding in a few weeks and having a lot of second thoughts. Due to the trauma she dealt with in high school, she has a lot of undealt-with issues as an adult that she has trouble dealing with on a day-to-day basis. She also kind of has a selfish, thought-less fiance who doesn’t see anything past the surface with her and I don’t know how she wasn’t screaming in frustration all the time at him.
There were a lot of other things too that frustrated me about this book. I will say that TifAni is raped while in high school and when her mother finds out her reaction is “You don’t have a body like TifAni’s and go to a party with all boys and drink too much and not know exactly what you’re doing there.” Honestly I had to put the book down for a moment I was so mad. I can’t even imagine a mother so callous. I’m sure a fourteen year old girl who had never drank before (and therefore had no idea where she should limit herself while drinking) had no intention of going to a party and getting so drunk that when a boy found her drunk on the floor he decided to have sex with her unconscious body. WHAT MOTHER THINKS THAT IS HER DAUGHTER’S FAULT. Maybe if she weren’t such a desperate to climb the social ladder wanna-be then her daughter wouldn’t be in this situation. Rant over.
So like I was saying, there were a lot of things about this book that frustrated me. Not in a “this book is awful” way but more in a “these characters are frustrating but that’s a piece of the story” way. I’ve never experienced a character in any other book before that I was able to hate, pity, and admire all at the same time. Ani ends up having a crap ton of issues that kind of make her into a bitch (excuse the language) but through the book you see past the layers of bitch to the scared little girl that just wants to find somewhere she can feel safe again. And she has survived and dealt with so much and went on to find a job she loves and thrives at and its hard not to admire how much she’s managed to accomplish. I thought the ending was a little odd and vague but other than that I thought this was a good book. Not one of my all-time favorites but quite good.
The bottom line: Eh, I think I would recommend this book, probably not universally though. I would recommend it if I knew the person liked suspense fiction.
Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #59 – Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver


Title: Vanishing Girls
Author: Lauren Oliver
Date finished: 6/17/15
Genre: Young Adult – Thriller
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: March 10, 2015
Pages in book: 357
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver delivers a gripping story about two sisters inexorably altered by a terrible accident.
Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it’s too late.
In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.

My rating: 3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book was a little weird. Dara and Nick are supposed to be best friends and sisters and then an accident supposedly marks their separation and they don’t talk to each other for months. Its really what happens right before the accident but you’ll find all that out. Anyway, their supposed to be such good friends but the description of their relationship is awful. Also there is a LOT of underage drinking in this book. Like every person you are introduced with who is in high school is getting drunk on a regular basis. Where are they getting all this alcohol? And do their parents really just not notice that their kids are drunk every weekend? There are a lot of heavy drugs mentioned in connection with Dara as well. I know when parents get divorced they can sometimes become a little more absent in their children’s lives but still, no one besides Nick noticed that there were weird pills in Dara’s room?
Besides the drug thing and the slightly intense sibling rivalry for “best friends,” this book was pretty good. I was hooked fairly quickly, though the first half of the book was a little slower than the second half. I liked the story line and I was interested in what the reason for the accident was and where Madeline Snow was and what the hell was really going on. I can 100% say that I never saw the twist at the end coming and to be honest when it was revealed my first thought was “no way you read that right, better go backwards a little and read it over.” But turns out I read it correctly, it was just a little confusing. The plot twist at the end was a great twist but the way it was done was a little far-reached to me. Still very good though, I usually can see twists coming but I never saw this one coming. 
The bottom line: Eh. It was ok. Not my favorite but wasn’t awful either. There were some things about it that bothered me I little. You could try it I guess.

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

2015 Book #35 – My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh


Title: My Sunshine Away
Author: M.O.Walsh
Date finished: 4/22/15
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Pages in book: 303
Stand alone or series: Stand alone

Blurb from the cover:

It was the summer everything changed.…
My Sunshine Away unfolds in a Baton Rouge neighborhood best known for cookouts on sweltering summer afternoons, cauldrons of spicy crawfish, and passionate football fandom. But in the summer of 1989, when fifteen-year-old Lindy Simpson—free spirit, track star, and belle of the block—experiences a horrible crime late one evening near her home, it becomes apparent that this idyllic stretch of Southern suburbia has a dark side, too.
In My Sunshine Away, M.O. Walsh brilliantly juxtaposes the enchantment of a charmed childhood with the gripping story of a violent crime, unraveling families, and consuming adolescent love. Acutely wise and deeply honest, it is an astonishing and page-turning debut about the meaning of family, the power of memory, and our ability to forgive.

My rating: 3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will count for the challenge I am participating in for April, the#ReadingMyLibrary reading challenge. I checked out this book from the Simsbury Public Library. I’ve seen this book in a number of recent book review publications and it was listed as #11 on Amazon’s Best Books of February 2015 listing. Going into this book, I knew that it was not going to be a happy-go-lucky book. This was an odd book for me. From the beginning of the novel, you can feel the narrator’s guilt. It is confusing at first trying to discover whether the narrator was the actual criminal in the act that would forever alter Lindy Simpson. After learning of the narrator’s character through the story though, it is hard to imagine him capable of rape. The book alternates between memories from before and after Lindy’s rape, centering around our narrator’s experiences with his family and with Lindy herself.
There were a lot of profound thoughts that this adult narrator looking back on his teenager self is realizing or just now articulating. His description with his mother and father, who are divorced, as well as how he deals with his sister’s death, are thought-provoking. His description of realizing that weakness lives in both his parents is something every child realizes as they grow and have to realize that a weakness lies within all of us. One of the thoughts from the book that really stuck with me is when the author states that he finds it amazing how little information children have to work with on a daily basis, or something to that effect. It really is entirely true. Children have to operate on a daily basis with less information that adults because the adults in their life are (hopefully) trying to shield them from the harsh realities of the world.
The whole story is told in the first person through the view of our narrator and I found it really amazing that looking through the narrator’s eyes as a teenager, I could connect so well and see the hormonal ups and downs and emotional rollercoaster that the narrator was just trying to survive during this awful period of time in Lindy’s life.
I thought this was overall a very interesting book. It deals with some very heavy issues though so I would say that readers definitely need to have the mental maturity to handle those issues that are introduced in the story.

The bottom line: A little dark but I think contains some very important thoughts, I would recommend with a precaution. You read about the aftermath of how a neighborhood deals with a girl’s rape. It is harsh. Just be prepared. Not for kids.

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