Vanishing Act by A.M. Madden

Blurb:
32502728In this captivating standalone romance from the USA Today bestselling author of Stone Walls, Hollywood’s hottest actor meets his dream woman: a free spirit who has no idea who he is.

After personal heartbreak and professional setbacks, Landon Price is running on empty. If he doesn’t take a break from the public eye soon, he’ll risk becoming another cautionary tale in a town that’s full of them. So in between film projects, Landon asks his agent to clear his schedule and then he simply . . . vanishes. Renting a discreet home on a remote Hawaiian beach for the summer, Landon begins to recharge. And in the process of finding himself, he meets a beautiful, feisty local who challenges everything he thinks he knows.

Zara Jobert has no interest in being a conquest for a cocky playboy from the mainland—even one with undeniable charisma and movie-star good looks. So she’s pleasantly surprised when the handsome newcomer’s persistent advances mellow into cozy banter and a sneakily seductive intimacy. When Landon reveals his true identity, Zara’s hurt that he lied, but she doesn’t care that he’s famous. Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same way. And falling for Landon might come with a heartbreaking choice—between Zara’s old life, and a new love.

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My Review:
DNF @ 40% — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

I really tried with this one.  I will say one thing right from the start, this was not a *bad* book.  It just wasn’t capturing my attention AT ALL, and I just have too much to read to spend my time reading something that’s not captivating me.  Basically I was bored.  And when I looked at my Kindle’s prediction of time left in this book and it said 4.5 hours, I said I’M DONE!

If the book kept going as it was going, I probably would have given it a 3 star.  Like I said, it wasn’t bad.  But I’m behind on things as it is, so I gave up.  The first bit until we meet Spike/Marshmallow was really slow, and I did not get a great feel for Landon at all.  He didn’t have personality traits that bugged me, but I really had no idea what he was like, other than self-important.  There really just didn’t feel like there was any depth there.  I was already considering DNFing it at that point, b/c I think the writing style just wasn’t jiving with me either.  I know it was just an ARC, but the tenses felt funny, and I kept getting tripped up on sentences because of the weird way the words were organized sometimes.

BUT!  Then we met Spike/Marshmallow.  AND OMG HE STOLE THE SHOW!  And it wasn’t just because he was freaking ADORABLE, but b/c he brought out something that I had been waiting for in Landon — a personality!  Landon was HILARIOUS when he was interacting with Spike.  Like, he was funny, and sassy, and I just started to love him!!  Things were looking up!!

And then we met Zara.  And again, nice girl, but she felt a bit flat.  And part of that is because Landon concentrated so much on how beautiful/hot she was, it really felt like the physical aspects were the main ones in their attraction.  And even at 40%, I still wasn’t feeling them together.  We were *told* that he liked other aspects of her, but not shown really.  I enjoyed his teasing, and I thought we were getting a wee bit more depth, but for some reason I was just bored.  Too slow?  I don’t know.  But I wasn’t even remotely invested.  OK, I was like 1% invested, b/c that part of me wants to know what happens.  If anyone wants to spoil it for me, please feel free.

Honestly, in that entire 40%, the bits where Spike/Marshmallow were present were the absolute highlights for me.  But an awesome dog is not enough to make a book great.  Good?  Yes.  Great?  No.  And so I gave up.  Ah well, they can’t all be matches right?

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Bulletproof by Melissa Pearl

Blurb:
23846788Morgan Pritchett doesn’t need anyone. Strong-willed and confident, she’s the master of organizing and looking after everyone around her. In her mind, she’s bulletproof.

But she has one weakness – men. She can’t seem to live without them, yet is unable to find her perfect match. After yet another break up, Morgan promises her sister and best friend that she’ll write off men for the rest of the year…but then she meets Sean Jaxon.

Sean Jaxon has worked hard to become a Hollywood actor, scoring minor roles and slowly making a name for himself as an action sidekick. After a chance encounter with the stunning Morgan Pritchett, he decides to take a risk and put his dancing skills to the test by signing on for the lead role in Superstar, a TV musical. He never thought he’d reconnect with the girl who urged him to ignore his manager and be honest with himself, but when Morgan shows up on the set as a production assistant, he realizes he’s found his ultimate weakness – her.

Their passion for dance and music will bring them together, but will their relationship be able to withstand the forces determined to pull them apart? As Morgan comes face-to-face with her long-buried demons and Sean decides just how much he’s willing to risk for love, these two songbirds discover something…they’re not as bulletproof as they thought.

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My Review:
4.5 stars — OMG, I was sucked into this one right from the start.  I had just finished trying to read a different book and was super frustrated and cranky, so even though it was after midnight I knew I needed a different taste in my mouth in order to fall asleep, so I started Bulletproof.  MISTAKE!  Then began an endless stream of “just one more chapter, just one more chapter.”  GAH!  And while my tired eyes failed me and I only got a few hours in, I gobbled the rest of the book up the next day.

Morgan intrigued the heck out of me in Fever.  She was this strong, forthright girl who seemed very confident in everything she did.  And she honestly was everything I thought she was, but she was also more.  She is honestly one of the most unique heroines I’ve read.  She was vulnerable in a way I don’t think I read about a lot.  We really get a great glimpse into what has made her into the girl she is today, someone who honestly feels as though they have to be “bulletproof”, has to contain their emotions, and who went from having responsibility thrust upon them too young to not being able to function without taking charge.  She was so conflicted within herself, so damaged, but so determined that that was her lot in life.  I also enjoyed that she was a very sexual girl who truly enjoyed sex, but also used it as a means of feeling self-worth.  Because I honestly think that a girl can be both of those things; so often we see the damage, and it makes it seem as though a girl can’t enjoy sex.  I wish she’d had a smoother road on that one, but then it wouldn’t be Morgan you know?  She really had a crazy journey to go on, and my heart ached for her.  She made some very poor choices in this book at times, but that just made her more real I guess.  I think her one choice near the end would have turned me off in any other book, but for some reason I was ok with how Morgan got to that point.  It fit her character, as much as it pains me to say that.  She was flawed.  And maybe she needed to hit that point in order to wake up and confront her demons.

Wow, sorry, that got long.  All that to say, while I really am nothing like Morgan, I really loved her in the end, despite all her flaws.  And as a fellow tall girl, I LOVED having a tall girl as a heroine.  We have our own unique challenges, and I loved that she wasn’t self-conscious about it.  I also loved that she was a dancer, and a great one, because so often dancers are always petite.  Nicely done Ms. Pearl.

And then we get to Sean.  Damn, but he had his own flaws too.  I feel like again, as in Fever, I felt more for the heroine’s journey than the hero’s.  He did have his own journey to go on, but I felt like we didn’t get to dive quite as deep with him.  I loved that we got to see him struggle with his poor upbringing, and that he was easily swayed and influenced about his own worth in the industry.  It shows that while he may look confident to the outside world, he is struggling to believe in himself as well.  He disappointed me as well, but like with Morgan, I kind of understood why he made certain poor choices.  He had his own journey to go on, to grow and come into his own.

And I ADORED their courtship.  I loved that circumstances meant they actually were forced to go slow and get to know each other.  I LOVED how nervous Sean was, but how instantly drawn to Morgan he was.  And holy cow, their chemistry!!  Seriously, reading about them dancing was just hot (even if I couldn’t always picture the moves that were described)!  But yeah, you could really feel what drew them together, and while there was a strong physical attraction component, I felt their connection in other ways too.

I can’t decide how I feel about Rhonda and Travis.  It’s not that I don’t honestly believe there are people out there like that, but occasionally they felt a little over the top.  I believed Rhonda a bit more, but with Travis, I couldn’t help but wonder why no one else wanted to intervene.

I LOVED seeing Ella and Cole happy together.  I’m very intrigued about Jody’s story, and I appreciated how Morgan had to deal with stepping back from her usual Mother role as well.  And I LOVED Isabella, for both Sean and Morgan!!  I also loved the advice that Morgan got from Grandma Deb, and Sean got from his Mom.

So yeah.  Definitely a hit.  This book may have had its moments that broke my heart, made me cringe for the characters, but I think that made the end of the journey that much more satisfying!

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The Nanny Arrangement by Rachel Harris

Blurb:
29561320Soft-spoken and shy Hannah Fisher is determined to make the man she’s loved her entire life finally see her as a woman. With the help of a makeover, a new mission—Operation Find My Happy—and the convenient forced proximity of a tour bus, she vows to win her best friend Deacon’s heart.

Former bad boy and current fiddle player Deacon Latrell has the world at his fingertips: a new gig with a famous band, plus his best friend on tour as his son’s nanny. Life couldn’t get much sweeter. Now if only he could stop imagining kissing the daylights out of his childhood BFF…

With one friend set on pushing the boundaries and the other afraid to rock the boat, one thing’s for certain—their story would make one heck of a country song.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

Mmmm, I love me a good friends to lovers story.  I was hooked from the prologue too, I just felt Hannah’s voice in her 14/15 year old self, and how much she put on the line to approach Deacon.  And I felt his overwhelming loneliness and despair.  Honestly, it was so good I was bummed for a tiny second that I wasn’t getting the young adult novel of their story.  😛  I will admit that that prologue was a full 5 stars for me, and that it was sort of on a different level.  But saying that, the story that followed was still all sorts of satisfying and grin inducing.

I really enjoy these romances from Ms. Harris.  They just have the perfect blend of sweet characters, great chemistry, steamy scenes (even if the books are fade to black, there are still tummy tingling hot spots), fabulous supporting characters, with just the right hint of strife without going overboard.  I can honestly say I was worried that Deacon’s inability to trust would wear on me…and it almost did.  It rode the edge (probably more than I would have liked, it got a bit frustrating).  But I was satisfied that the turnaround was short, so I didn’t have to be disappointed in him for long.  And it’s always so satisfying to see a reluctant hero nudged in the right direction (go Sherry and Arabella!).

I was also concerned with the kid aspect, b/c I’m not really a kid person.  And while the kid speak didn’t really work for me (sue me, I’m not won over by “wovins” and “mes a cowboy”), I did really appreciate the way Hannah was with the kids.  I respected the hell out of her, she really seemed to genuinely love the job, and it made her happy, and she treated them with respect and encouragement.  I love seeing positive adult role models…or parents…or whatever.

Hannah was a bit of a contradiction.  I loved the strong parts of her I saw, and I felt for her shyness and insecurity.  I LOVED the friendships she formed with Sherry and Arabella, it made my heart happy.  And when she finally made her move (in the limo) I loved the passion in her and the way she stood up for herself and Deacon…  I will admit that I wish I’d seen more earlier on, but I’ll take what I can get.  It seems both my hero and heroine had awesome bits, but the things that they clung to and allowed to get in the way got a bit frustrating.

As a side note, while it’s not required to read any other books in this series (or the related one), if you have read Tyler & Sherry’s story and Charlie & Arabella’s story, you will be very satisfied with the glimpses you get into their lives!!

So all in all, it was a great read!  Especially if you’re looking for a solid, Harlequin-esque romance (the Harlequin Romance line, not the Blaze line.  😛 ).  I wonder if it will be Nate or Miles next?

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Undercover Fan by Jennie Bennett

Blurb:
34025880A Stand-alone Novel from the BESTSELLING Kpop romance series.

Corrine Miller-Hayden has a secret. As captain of the cheer team and a Texas beauty queen, she wouldn’t dare tell anyone about her closet K-pop music obsession.

That is, until she runs into her Minji, her ultimate bias, at a fan gathering. She never dreamed she’d touch Minji, let alone accidentally take his phone.

When they meet again at a pep-rally, it’s not like Corrine imagined. She thought she’d be showing off, but instead she becomes the target of a dye-filled water balloon attack. Abby was supposed to be her best friend, not the girl who openly shamed her in front of the whole school.

Minji saves her, not only from embarrassment, but from her own stuck-up self.

Can she love Minji openly, and keep her fangirling a secret?

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My Review:
4 stars — OK, I’m totally reading these backwards, but I don’t even care.  I just had to dive into another of these K-Pop romances because they’re so cute and fun.  And this one felt really different from Kidnapped Idol too!  Less danger and villains, more of an authentic YA feel with some Korean flare.

Before I go further, can I just say I liked the old cover better?  This one feels…sexier or something.  The old one had a more cute YA feel somehow.

OK, cover aside, I loved this one too.  It was fun, and the romance was freaking on point!!  That was the highlight for me for sure.  I loved Corrine and Minji even more than Woon and Jemica!!  I just really felt their chemistry, and I could feel the way their feelings developed.  How Corrine went from a secret crush/obsession to really falling in love with the real Minji.

I was a bit worried that I wasn’t going to like Corrine.  I mean, I liked her at first, but then a bit of her mean girl came out and I was disappointed, and I had a hard time judging her sincerity, but then I felt like I believed in her growth, you know?  It’s kind of a weird life that she lived.

I will say that the friendship with Abby, and how that all played out didn’t work for me.  I don’t think I really understood why Abby went that far, it was really really mean.  I feel like as a reader I didn’t get enough to figure out how she could go that far in the prank, and so I had a harder time with how that worked out than Corrine did.

BUT, since I was so in love with Corrine and Minji, I didn’t care that much.  If I didn’t have that adorable romance, I probably would have been more bothered by that side plot, but I’ll give it a pass.  Seriously, the whole Galveston Island outing was like romance gold.  LOVED IT!!

If you’re looking for something light and quick to read, that gives you good feelings, I definitely say give these a try.  They’re a tiny bit cheesy, a little hard to believe, but at the same time really satisfying.

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Kidnapped Idol by Jennie Bennett

Blurb:
34577754A Stand-alone Novel in the BESTSELLING K-Pop Romance Series.

Woon is abducted by a Chinese entertainment agency and forced into a life of pop-star slavery. Jenica is visiting China to study abroad. When the pair meet by chance Jenica must save Woon, but at what cost?

 

 

 

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My Review:
4 stars — OK, this book was just fun.  I went into it fully understanding that this was kind of a k-drama fan fiction type shorter novel, and while I don’t watch k-dramas or listen to k-pop, I feel like I had the right expectations.  It’s kind of like a less salacious soap opera.  And this book delivered for me.  Was it over the top in places?  Oh heck yes!  Did I care?  Nope!  Not one bit.

The other thing I kept in mind while reading this was that it was a shorter novel, so I was more tolerant of the quick move from crush to love.  If you can’t check your realism at the door, this might not be the book for you.  It kind of reminded me of my days of reading Harlequins…without any of the sexy times (seriously, this is a VERY CLEAN read).  But it satisfied my need for a sweet romance you can root for, you know?

And I LOVE me a celebrity romance!!  Especially when they meet up with a regular girl and feel that connection!  I might have wanted a bit more connection at times, but there was enough to keep me happy.  The other thing I kind wanted a bit more of was from Jenica — why was she so insecure and down on herself?  I needed a bit more background on her I think.

Honestly though, it was just kind of fun to be in a world where stars are kidnapped by evil corporate big wigs, and there is chases, and hostages, and possible corruption.  And cute pop stars who just want to be loved for who they are.

AND it totally fulfilled my diversity requirement!  I felt like I got to see a bit of what life was like for both Jenica and Woon, and it was fun to have it set in Beijing.

So yeah.  I totally enjoyed myself.  It was like a fun sugar-filled candy.  Sometimes you just need a treat of uncomplicated fun.

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Perfectly Imperfect by Harper Sloan

Blurb:
27512229Mirror, mirror … who’s the fairest of them all?

I still cringe when I hear that line. A fairy tale that had girls pretending they were the fairest, the most beautiful, and the most entitled. A fairy tale most couldn’t grow out of turned my haunted childhood memories into a living nightmare. Girls who grew up believing that pile of garbage became the meanest of all ‘mean girls.’

And those mean girls were right – it was a line meant for all the beautiful people in the world – and I knew the answer would never be me.

The women with long legs, flat stomachs, and perfect chests.

The type of women Kane Masters gravitated toward.

Well, that’s definitely not Willow Tate.

No. That will never be me.

Because I’m completely imperfect.

And … I hate myself.

I have no idea what Kane could possibly see in someone like me when he could have them.

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My Review:
2.5 stars — So I should have DNFd this one.  Honestly, when I started reading the first chapter, I was a little bit put off by the style.  Not to be rude, but I got a little bit bored.  There was just a lot of the story taking place in the characters heads.  I forged ahead, b/c the premise of the story really intrigued me, and I wanted to know where it was going to go.  And there were little glimmers of things that I enjoyed, so you hold out hope that those parts will take over the story somehow.  But they didn’t.  By 60% I honestly contemplated DNFing, but by that point I wanted to know the mystery of Mia and Kane (even though I had my theories, and those actually came pretty close to the truth).  So I finished it.  But I will say, if you read the sample, and you’re reading the first chapter and you’re not really feeling it, then it might not be the book for you either.

Basically, as I told my husband, it was just too many words.  WORDS WORDS WORDS.  Talking and talking.  *sigh*  And if it wasn’t that, then it was sex.  But damn, I was excited after the first kiss (because that was hot), but then we got to the first more steamy scene, and even that got interrupted by words.  *heavy dramatic sigh*  I started trying to skim (which I’m terrible at).  I need more plot I guess.

As for our characters, they weren’t terrible, but I wasn’t enthralled either.  I could see good things, but I didn’t really get to feel their growth.  Willow talked and talked and talked about her changing and growing, but I didn’t get to see that growth happen in actions.  And I’m not saying that I didn’t love the scene where she went back to Logan Agencies, that was awesome.  But it was like one minute she has an eating disorder and hates herself, and then some conversation with Kane and then a month later she’s stronger.  That wasn’t satisfying for me, and it didn’t allow me to buy into the growth you know?  Kind of telling instead of showing I guess.

And then there’s Kane.  Yeah, he could be hot sometimes and sweet, but all the what is essentially soul mate talk just had me dibsing out.  It was over the top dramatic and kind of sappy.  Or maybe I’m just cynical, but I got tired of all that too.  (I didn’t even swoon over the epilogue, I rolled my eyes…so much cynicism in this girl apparently)

And then we get to their decisions about the scandal.  I can’t go into it, but I don’t understand how what they decided to do was any better for the situation, it just felt like unnecessary martyrdom.

And finally, if you’re the kind of person who gets annoyed by bad editing (in the proofreading sense), then unless it’s been changed since I bought it last year, this one is NOT proofed well.  So many sentences had mistakes and it made for a jarring read.

OH!  But I will give a huge nod to Kirby, Eddie, and even Kole.  Some funny moments with all of those secondary characters.  They’ve convinced me to round up.

So yeah.  This one wasn’t for me.  I had kind of higher expectations, which probably didn’t help.  Oh well.  One less author for me to visit at my upcoming signings.

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180 Seconds by Jessica Park

Blurb:
32739485Some people live their entire lives without changing their perspective. For Allison Dennis, all it takes is 180 seconds…

After a life spent bouncing from one foster home to the next, Allison is determined to keep others at arm’s length. Adopted at sixteen, she knows better than to believe in the permanence of anything. But as she begins her third year in college, she finds it increasingly difficult to disappear into the white noise pouring from her earbuds.

One unsuspecting afternoon, Allison is roped into a social experiment just off campus. Suddenly, she finds herself in front of a crowd, forced to interact with a complete stranger for 180 seconds. Neither she, nor Esben Baylor, the dreamy social media star seated opposite her, is prepared for the outcome.

When time is called, the intensity of the experience overwhelms Allison and Esben in a way that unnerves and electrifies them both. With a push from her oldest friend, Allison embarks on a journey to find out if what she and Esben shared is the real thing—and if she can finally trust in herself, in others, and in love.

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My Review:
4.5 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

WOW.  Seriously, wow.  I knew I was going to enjoy this book, but I’m not sure I entirely realized HOW MUCH I was going to enjoy this book.  I was sucked in right from the start, and my love just grew in intensity as I continued to read it…  It was one of those books where you resent your life for interfering with your reading…or at least it was for me.

I am a sucker for a damaged heroine.  I wasn’t quite sure how damaged Allison would be, and while some of my suspicions were way off base, I really appreciated that we got to see some different effects of just being in the Foster system and bouncing around from home to home without an added other huge trauma.  Not sure if that makes sense, but sometimes I think just that basic concept of feeling unwanted and unloved and too much rejection does not get enough attention.  Allison honestly brought out all the feels for me, I HURT for past and present her.  I felt how much she wanted to close off the world, and how afraid she was of letting people in.  There’s a teeny tiny part of me that wonders if her transition was too fast, but that’s partly b/c there were time jumps in the story.  But quite honestly?  I was getting so much out of the story, I didn’t even care.  I LOVED seeing Allison slowly open up and accept love.  It was beautiful.

There were two shining stars for me in this story (besides our heroine of course).  Obviously there is Esben.  I wondered if he would be too good to be true, and I debated about whether that would annoy me, but you know what?  It really didn’t.  Especially because despite being such a good and kind and generous soul, we did get to see into his own damage, and see what shaped him into the person he was.  And he was not without his own flaws and bad decisions.  But I ADORED him.  EVERY STEP OF THE WAY.  I really expected a much different hero after reading the blurb and seeing social media star, and the glimpse we get before the experiment.  My preconceived notions were blown away.  He made me feel so many emotions all on his own, and he is totally my kind of book boyfriend material.  I want an Esben.

And I loved the way they grew together.  Their chemistry was palpable, and sweet, and slow burning, and gave me so many tummy tingles.  I ADORED the way their relationship progressed, it was all so satisfying for me.

The other star for me was Simon.  I’m not sure if it’s just because he’s a Dad, and I’m missing my own, but I LOVED HIM SO MUCH.  He made me cry in so many unexpected moments, just by being himself.  He was vulnerable, and honest, and tried so hard, and I was just always so happy that Allison had him.  And OMG, did he make me laugh!!  Right from that first chapter!!  I’m not sure I’ve ever loved a secondary character in quite this way before.  He added so much to the story.

Steffi was another intriguing character.  I knew there was more to her story, but for some reason I was still caught off guard.  I enjoyed what we learned about her, and what she brought to Allison’s own growth.

I did end up losing some of my steam nearer to the end, but I was also interrupted so many times, that I think that hurt it too.  If you can read it all in one sitting, I highly recommend that.

All in all this book made me laugh, smile big grins, get tummy tingles, silently cry some tears, and bawl like a baby.  That’s a pretty great spectrum.  Definitely one of my favourite reads of the year, it just hit all the right places for me.

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The Silent Waters by Brittainy C. Cherry

Blurb:
32070295Moments.

Our lives are a collection of moments. Some utterly painful and full of yesterday’s hurts. Some beautifully hopeful and full of tomorrow’s promises.

I’ve had many moments in my lifetime, moments that changed me, challenged me. Moments that scared me and engulfed me. However, the biggest ones—the most heartbreaking and breathtaking ones—all included him.

I was ten years old when I lost my voice. A piece of me was stolen away, and the only person who could truly hear my silence was Brooks Griffin. He was the light during my dark days, the promise of tomorrow, until tragedy found him. Tragedy that eventually drowned him in a sea of memories.

This is the story of a boy and girl who loved each other, but didn’t love themselves. A story of life and death. Of love and broken promises.

Of moments.

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My Review:
4.5 stars —  I saw this book on sale on one of my bargain book emails (BookBub I think), and while I haven’t read any by Ms. Cherry, I do have a few and I’ve heard great things.  And she’s going to be attending an author event I’ll be at in the fall, so that right there had my interest peaked.  And then, as I usually do when deciding on a book, I read the 1 star reviews.  😛  It’s basically so I can see if the things they’re complaining about are the kinds of things that would bother me.  It helps to temper the 5 star reviews (of which I’ll read a few, as well as any friends reviews).  Well damn, the 1 star reviews really intrigued me, and gave me the impression that if I read the sample I would see right away what they didn’t enjoy.  Well damn, challenge accepted!  And you know what?  I was SUCKED IN!!!  I NEEDED MORE!  So apparently I’m not like the 1-star reviewers, b/c this was sooooo my kind of book.  Like seriously, I knew darned well just from the blurb that this would fit as a guilty pleasure for me.

So yeah, that was a seriously long and pointless introduction, I just found it really amusing is all.  But you guys, this was just my kind of book.  I know it’s going to sound really stupid, but I am so attracted to books about damaged heroines.  I can’t imagine I’m the only one.  And add in a swoony sweet hero?  Oh yes please.

I actually just recently read a book about selective mutism, and while I enjoyed it, it didn’t blow me away.  That’s because *this* was the book I was looking for.  I’m probably going to completely fail this review quite honestly, I just really really really enjoyed myself.  Everything from the plot, to the characters, to the swoony romance, to the intrigue, to the depth and message.  I actually highlighted something that hit me so hard I shared it with my husband:

“Sometimes our minds acted as a form of kryptonite, and we had a responsibility to our own self-worth to aggressively tell it to fuck off with its lies.”

Oh Maggie May, you speak the truth.

I actually enjoyed the way the family dynamics played out in this book (which was one of the things others complained about).  I appreciated that they didn’t all handle it well.  It was actually a balance on how they coped with Maggie’s mutism and agoraphobia.  Her Mama broke my heart, but it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility you know?  People can be so easily influenced by others, and everyone has their own demons to face when confronting adversity.  I won’t say that I wasn’t occasionally baffled at how Maggie could maintain that level of fear for SO MANY YEARS, but trauma affects everyone differently and I was able to accept it somehow.

And speaking of family dynamics, I REALLY appreciated the way the Cheryl relationship worked out.  I wasn’t expecting that, I love when secondary characters surprise me.

And even the way the relationship with Brooks played out was satisfying to me.  I really felt their connection and chemistry and I swooned so hard.  Even if I will admit that I HATED Brooks’s taste in music.  😛  It was terrible.  To me.

There was a part of me that didn’t enjoy the time jumps in the middle.  I mean, I enjoyed the way they were presented, but I was saddened that so much time went by.  I wasn’t expecting that.

I totally called the mystery element.  Maybe I was supposed to, but I saw the way that was going to play out.  But I was happily surprised with how Maggie’s healing developed.

Anyways, I’m just babbling here and probably not being very helpful.  Essentially, this book was a Lenore book.  It hit all my buttons, and gave me so much of what I was craving.  So yay!  I’m excited to get to more of Ms. Cherry’s books, but they will likely have to wait until the summer.  But after reading the sample, I just couldn’t resist diving right in.

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Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Blurb:
33224718Cinderella goes to the con in this fandom-fueled twist on the classic fairy tale.

 
Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.

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My Review:
3 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

This one left me a bit conflicted.  I am a self-professed geek, and really enjoyed all the geek references in this book (whether quotes or nods to real life fandoms, or just the overall feel of BEING in a fandom).  That was honestly the highlight of the book for me, b/c I really do love the whole world of nerd culture (even if I’m not the type to cosplay or go to cons).  And on the whole I was definitely entertained by this book, and don’t regret reading it, I was just a bit disappointed b/c it was missing some magic.

For me, characters are what make or break a story, and I just didn’t end up loving EITHER of our main characters.  Which is not to say I disliked them!!  I just didn’t love them.  And I kind of need to love at least one of them for me to really enjoy a story.  They both felt a bit weak and with less dimension than I would have liked.  I needed more from both of them.

Elle has a rather tragic childhood and current situation (consistent with the Cinderella tale), but I didn’t end up really feeling much empathy for her.  I didn’t really get a feel for her emotions on any of the events that shaped her.  She felt kind of flat.  I can’t even tell you why, what did I need to make it…just…more…  But I didn’t really *feel* her grief.  I didn’t feel her loneliness, or what did she feel after whatever happened the previous summer?  And I couldn’t vibe with how socially inept she was that it took her so long to understand when Sage was reaching out to her.  It felt…forced?  I don’t know, I’m probably mucking this all up.  She just wasn’t that interesting I guess.  Like she had some of the building blocks there, but never went anywhere with them.  She wanted to be a scriptwriter, but she had stopped writing (other than on her blog)?  How was that going to work out?

And Darien.  OK, I am all for a beta boy, but a beta boy still has to have some inner strength, you know?  Some quality that makes you root for him.  His development and backbone took entirely too long to come around.  Why was he so reluctant to take his career into his own hands?  Why did he let Mark boss him around like that?  Was he just apathetic?  I guess I can kind of see it based on things that had happened in his past, but it wasn’t enough to make me really get behind him.  Did he even like acting??

And for goodness sake, what race was he?  Was he Indian?  The only reason I would guess that is because he’s not a white-washed pick for Carmindor, and the previous actor’s last name was Singh.  Why bother having that element and not go into it?  I can’t even call this book diverse, b/c it’s NEVER EXPLORED.  What was it like to be a different race celebrity heartthrob?  Was he half?  ANYTHING!  JUST GIVE ME SOMETHING!  Or don’t make it an element at all!  That, apparently, really annoyed me.

And honestly, the chemistry between Elle and Darien wasn’t really there besides a bit of a friendship.  I didn’t really buy that development.  From the messages we saw, I’m not sure what drew them together.  I could have used a bit more.  Even when they finally interacted in person, they were both so distracted by other things, I didn’t get the magic I was looking for until the ball.  Bummer.

And in the end I was unsatisfied with the evil characters.  They were kind of caricatures.  And Catherine was abusive as heck, so I didn’t get a satisfactory resolution with her.  I guess it was realistic in some ways, but still unsatisfying.  Chloe’s was a bit better, but again, she was a stereotypical mean girl.  No depth there.  And I wasn’t always happy with how things happened along the way to stick with the plot (like bringing the costume back to the house, hiding the tickets in the house).  Not to mention the whole selling the house thing.  If it was left to Elle, then how can Catherine sell it?  Is there no law there?

Sage and Calliope were bright spots in terms of secondary characters.  I felt bad for both of them because Elle really took a long time to give them a chance.  But I liked that they each had more depth to their characters.  On the other side, I enjoyed Gail and Lonny, but felt like there could have been even more from them…I wanted more anyways.

So yeah.  That all reads like a bummer review.  But it’s really just me ruminating on why this book missed the mark between an entertaining read and a life-changing read.  If you enjoy nerd culture though, I think you will love all the nods in this one.  In the end it was a book with a LOT of potential that just failed to live up to it for me.

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Proposing to Preston by Katy Regnery

Blurb:
25361685Proposing to Preston is the second of four books about the Philadelphia-based, wildly-handsome Winslow brothers who are all on the look-out for love.

(Except Brooks… he’s probably sailing around the world with Skye by now. And Christopher, who’s only on the look-out for a congressional seat and absolutely. nothing. else.)

Preston Winslow has a heart as open as the sky and room in his life for someone special. When he falls in love with Broadway actress, Elise Klassan, he holds nothing back.

Elise, who has made tremendous sacrifices to forward her career, is swept off her feet by handsome, charming Preston…but the stage has been her first love for so many years, she doesn’t know if there’s room for Preston in her life. When the day comes that she must choose between her ambition and her heart, she profoundly hurts the one man who could have made her happy.

Two years later, Elise has become a world-famous actress and Preston is a very successful lawyer. But fame has not equaled happiness for Elise, and Preston is much too bitter and cynical to ever consider falling in love again.

Is it possible that the only person who can mend Preston’s heart is the one who originally broke it? Only if Elise can figure out a way to make him believe in love all over again.

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My Review:
4.5 stars — THIS!!!  After being a bit bummed about not enjoying the Modern Fairytale books I’ve attempted by Ms. Regnery, I decided to go back to the series where I fell in love with her and read my box set of the Winslow Brothers from her Blueberry Lane series.  I’d already read the first book a while ago, but I reread it first (and was reminded of my love), and then I started on this one and was just utterly captivated…much like Preston was with Elise.  There’s just some magic there, you know?  I felt all these feelings of attraction at first sight, and just how bewildered Preston was when presented with those immediate feelings.

And OMG, these two were so adorable together!!  There was just so much chemistry!!  And it was sweet, and I appreciated the backstory that came with Elise and how her upbringing shaped her.  So her reactions often felt very authentic, and I could just imagine how overwhelmed she was when faced with so many of her dreams coming true, but also with the exhaustion of all the work that went into making her Broadway dream come alive…and how conflicted she was with how she felt about this new love of hers.

And Preston was just so unbelievably sweet, and he tried so hard.  He was so patient, it was just…GAH!  I really loved him.  But I’d seen glimpses of him in Bidding on Brooks, and I knew that something happened to take him from this sweet endearing boy, to a jaded cynical man (even though it was only 2 years), and so I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop, you know?  Like I couldn’t fully relax, wondering what was going to happen.  And I just kept thinking, OK I’ll read until the end of Part One and then go to sleep, and read the second half in the morning.  And then HOO BOY, we got there, and I just had to read a bit more, until my eyes wouldn’t cooperate.

I LOVED the way that all played out.  Even though it was heartbreaking, it honestly fit with who they each were, and I could just see them both making those horrible mistakes and reacting badly, b/c in so many ways they were just so young.  Not in age, but in experience.  I really appreciated that.  I really appreciated that while I wanted to smack them both, I could accept the way it played out.

And Part Two really compelled me right away too.  My heart was sooooo broken for Preston, I could just feel how broken he was.  And Elise too.  To realize what you’ve done, and not understand how to fix it.  And I was a bit concerned when Elise seemed to be the only one who had thought of the mistakes she’d made, but thankfully Preston didn’t let me down…though I wish he’d expressed to Elise what mistakes he made as well, so she wouldn’t feel the burden of all the blame.  But at the same time, their reconciliation was very satisfying and I enjoyed the way they worked things out every step of the way.  And I liked the development with her family as well, even if that all made me cry.

All in all this book was super satisfying for me.  Both characters were very sweet and earnest, but also very flawed, and so it was so rewarding to see them grow and eventually grow together.  I will say, the epilogue was NOT satisfying for me.  It’s just not my style, and it didn’t give me enough of them, which is what I loved.

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