Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Review: Dare to Love by Carly Phillips

Dare to Love (Dare to Love, #1)Dare to Love by Carly Phillips
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another new series for me … I picked this one up randomly and could not put it down! It captivated me immediately. Ian Dare and Riley Taylor just grabbed onto me and did not let go. Very hot, lots of romance and sex. The chemistry between Ian and Riley just flies off the page. It’s so powerful. The background story with the siblings and their family drama felt a little out there. And yet, Phillips made me believe it and see its impact despite it being a bit out of this world. Very much about family as well as love. It did feel as if they fell into each other awful fast … I missed some of that early relationship building but it eventually worked itself out. Ultimately, the book was really good. Off to read the rest of the series!

NOTE: I've already read #2 and it was fantastic! And I'm half way through #3 and enjoying it as well!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Review: A Gentleman in the Street by Alisha Rai

A Gentleman in the Street (The Campbell Siblings, #1)A Gentleman in the Street by Alisha Rai
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve really enjoyed the other Alisa Rai’s books that I’ve read so I was eager to read this one which is the first in the Campbell Siblings series. It took me awhile to connect with this one. It’s pretty provocative from the start. If you don’t like sexy, skip this one. LOTS of sexy. But, I did come to really enjoy the story itself and the characters at its center. This is edgy romance at it’s best. Rai is such a wonderful storyteller. She brings people and stories to life in such a beautiful way. Ultimately, a really fun read with lots of kink! But, not for everyone!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Review: The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

The Idea of YouThe Idea of You by Robinne Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had no idea what I was getting into with this book. I’d heard several of my bookish friends talk about how good this one was and I needed something light as a palette cleanser so I picked it up. And WOW! One of the best romances I’ve ever read … It’s a beautiful story and the characters were outstanding. It’s essentially the story of an older woman with a teenaged daughter who meets a much younger man who is a member of a boy band that her daughter loves. Their story was so well told. The challenges faced by Solene in the book were so well explored. This is one of those books that literally swept me away into another world. I didn’t want to put it down. It’s emotional depth is outstanding. The skill it takes to make a reader FEEL so much from just the words on a page … it’s amazing! Highly recommend this one! It’s wonderful!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Review: Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

HexHex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I heard someone on a Bookriot podcast talk about this book and I knew that I had to read it. This book is CREEPY and ODD in every way. A witch from the 17th century haunts a town – no one is allowed to leave the town. She wanders around with her eyes and mouth sewn shut. She shows up in your house out of nowhere, just standing there. The town itself centers life around this witch and making life in the town bearable and protecting outsiders from the curse. There was some graphic violence here and LOTS of creepiness. If you don’t like the weird and scary, skip this one. If you do, you should read this one. I was fascinated by the concept and how the author kept the tension moving the plot along. Very chilling. Very scary. Not for everyone but really interesting reading for those who like horror and scary books!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Review: Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta

Mrs. FletcherMrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was listening to an interview with Tom Perrotta about his book and was so engaged by the concepts he’s exploring that I ran and picked up the book. It explores sexuality, identity, being a parent, and how our choices can change our lives. The exploration of internet porn and how it’s changing our culture is fascinating. This is something that I wonder about often as the mother of two 12 year olds. The culture and our views of sexuality are so different than they were when I was young. I was looking forward to Perrotta really going deep with these ideas. Yet, I don’t feel like it was explored as deeply as I’d hoped. It some ways, I felt like it started down a path of exploration but then got lost along the way and focused on other things. And it never really got back to the interesting ideas it starts with. Which isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoyed it … I did. The novel is immensely readable. Very compelling and thoughtful. The combination of humor and social commentary that Perotta is known for is definitely on display in this novel. The character are all so flawed but drawn in such real terms that they felt very dynamic to me. All in all, I really liked this one. If you’re a Perrotta fan, I think you should definitely pick this one up!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Review: You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson

You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to ExplainYou Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Overall, I really liked this book. I think these essays are very timely and relevant, particularly in the US today, and tell us important things about race and identity. Robinson’s voice is smart, witty, thoughtful and straightforward. These essays helped me see how race impacts marginalized people in a very personal way. We can read about race all day but never really understand the day to day impact of race on people. These essays really did give me so much to think about. She is FUNNY. She is SMART. She is FANTASTIC! I highly recommend this one!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Review: Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American CityEvicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve been meaning to read this one for a while but it just never made it to the top of the pile. It’s won a ton of awards, including the Pulitzer Prize! I’m so glad that I finally picked it up - it really lived up to the praise I’ve been hearing. I did not want to put this down. It’s compelling and devastating at the same time. This book tells the story of poverty in America in such a refreshing and real way. It reads like a novel, not a nonfiction book. The book follows 8 families in Milwaukee as they try to live their lives and provide for their families. It’s heartbreaking in so many ways. We all think that we know what life is like for the poor but this book really puts you in their shoes in a way that opens your eyes to things you’ve never thought of before.

All of the people in this book want to do better but institutional forces make it so difficult for the poor. They spend the vast majority of their money on rent and have inevitably fallen behind. They can barely feed their children but are paying almost all of their money for a home that is often in terrible shape – no water, plumbing not working, the house covered in lead paint, etc. If they ask for things to be fixed, they are likely to be evicted. It’s brutal. It’s heartbreaking. It’s infuriating. We have got to do better! How can we expect people who are struggling with such basics as a roof over their head or food on the table to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and pull their family out of poverty? We do everything we can to make it close to impossible and then blame them for the situation that they find themselves in. I thought that I knew about poverty, housing and evictions after my years as a social worker but WOW … I learned so much from this book.

It’s changed the way that I view the world. It has changed the way that I view so much – poverty, education, human services, food stamps, and so much more. The segregation and discrimination that these families face every single day would be devastating to anyone. And yet they keep going, doing everything they can to make it in a world that seems to push them down every time they make it up a little bit. This book should be required reading. Everyone should better understand the housing crisis in the US and how our government is not providing the support that is necessary for millions of people in America. I hope this book scares all of us enough to DO SOMETHING about this. To demand that our government do something about this!

This is a horrifying and stunning book that I just cannot recommend more highly. Just a few of the things you’ll learn about by reading this include -

1. How easy it is to evict a tenant

2. How most (90%+) of the poor’s money goes to rent whereas it’s recommended for people to only spend 30% of their income on housing.

3. Imagine trying to go to school and learn when you’re just worried about where you’ll sleep and if you’ll have food on the table.

4. Landlords prefer to not rent to families or a parent with children, adding additional burden on poor single mothers.

I could list 400 nuggets that you’ll read about in this book. I really hope you’ll pick this one up. It’s a must read! I’ll leave you with one more thought from the book …

“Whatever our way out of this mess, one thing is certain. This degree of inequality, this withdrawal of opportunity, this cold denial of basic needs, this endorsement of pointless suffering – by no American value is this situation justified.”

NOTE: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Final Score by Jaci Burton

The Final Score (Play by Play, #13)The Final Score by Jaci Burton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love love love this series! And this is yet another great read. I loved reading Nathan’s story since we’ve ‘known’ him since the very first book and have had glances at him over the books. It was great to see a deep dive into his life and his relationship with Mia. I really loved Mia and getting to learn more about her was really interesting. I love the glimpses into the other members of the families from the series. A great mix of traditional romance and sexiness. I really enjoyed this one and highly recommend it (and the series itself)! You can’t go wrong with these books!

Coming next week on September 12th! Be sure to pick it up!

There is a Jaci Burton Football Prize Pack giveaway that you might be interested in checking out... one winner will recieve all 7 football themed Play by Play novels, two custom koozies and an really cute cooler!

Check it out here - a Rafflecopter giveaway

NOTE: I received this Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Real Thing by Melissa Foster

The Real Thing (Sugar Lake, #1)The Real Thing by Melissa Foster
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh boy am I glad that I read this one! This is the first in a new series . I love how Foster mixed up the sweet romance with the heat/sexy and even added in a dash of humor! I really enjoyed this story and watching them come together. I’m a sucker for the second chance love story and this is one that is really well done. I love how Foster made Zane so relatable despite his being a movie star and Willow was a very spunky and interesting character. Them together was magic! Really liked this and definitely recommend!

NOTE: I received this Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Arm Candy by Jessica Lemmon

Arm Candy (Real Love, #2)Arm Candy by Jessica Lemmon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this romance … the setting, the tropes, the characters … all of it was so well done. There is humor here as well as a lot of sexiness! It’s a nice balance of sexy and traditional romance. The relationship between Davis and Grace was really interesting and it developed very well. I think what made this work for me was the characters – I felt compelled to keep reading about them and their journey together. Really enjoyed this one!

NOTE: I received this Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met RishiWhen Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So much fun! What a wonderful romantic comedy wrapped up into a novel format. The word for this book that keeps coming to mind is delightful! The characters are fantastic … love Dimple, love Rishi, love all the side characters and the families. They were all just great. I was laughing out loud at times. The interplay between Dimple and Rishi was wonderful. I loved this one! Very cute and fun! Definitely recommend this one if you are in the mood for a light, fun read!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Review: Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

Goodbye, VitaminGoodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the most difficult book to describe adequately. It’s about Alzheimer’s and taking care of your family. The main character, Ruth, is struggling … on many counts – in her family life as well as in her romantic life. The book’s tone is what really makes it special … and in some ways difficult to connect with. Ruth tells the story with her very own style … she says things that are interesting and unusual. She throws you off kilter at times. You’ll find yourself laughing, you’ll find yourself perplexed. You will feel things. I really enjoyed reading about her navigating the new waters of her father’s illness. For a book about such a serious subject, it never feels heavy or depressing. There is lightness and hope. There are compelling little bits throughout that really make it special and give it a lightness that I wasn’t expecting. Really good book that I definitely recommend if you can embrace its unusual style!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Review: If The Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss

If The Creek Don't  RiseIf The Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It took me a little while to get into a rhythm with this book. I think that’s partly due to the alternating first person narratives which give you a taste of a variety of the people in this mountain community. And the dialect threw me for a bit. Once I got into a rhythm … WOW, this book! So in my wheelhouse in every way! It’s dark and grungy yet powerful and thoughtful. The sense of place (Appalachia in NC) was where this one really shone. I was amazed at how Leah Weiss was able to make that place come alive in all my senses – the smells, the feels, the sounds! It’s one of those books that are so vivid! The characters are all so well done. They ultimately balance beautifully – the good and the bad. You will love some and hate some. You will see in them people that you care about and people that you’ve despised. They are really where this novel excels. Very gritty, very southern, very complicated. I still can’t quite believe this is a debut novel. I can’t imagine what Leah Weiss will have for us next if this is any indication. Highly recommend this one! There are characters in this book that you will not be able to forget! Such a wonderful book!

NOTE: Thank you to the publisher for providing a free ARC of this book for an honest review.

Review: The Other Girl by Erica Spindler

The Other GirlThe Other Girl by Erica Spindler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this novel. It’s a really strong thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. I did figure out the ‘who done it’ long before the end but I enjoyed the journey so much that it didn’t color my overall enjoyment of the book. I enjoyed how the author told the story by weaving in the present and the past, offering up connections here and there. The flow of the novel was really good and kept me completely engaged throughout. I think the characters were excellent which is one of the things that I most loved about this one. Randi, the main character, is a really compelling character – multi-faceted, honest and reliable yet quirky and flawed. The relationship between her and her partner was solid. I really enjoyed watching that relationship grow and change throughout the book. All in all, this is a great thriller that I recommend if you’re a fan of the genre and enjoy twisty turny thrillers!

NOTE: Thank you to the publisher for providing a free ARC of this book for an honest review.

Review: Before I Knew by Jamie Beck

Before I Knew (Cabot, #1)Before I Knew by Jamie Beck
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This romance grabbed me immediately and never let go. I did not want to put it down for anything. I think part of that was that the novel focused on relationships not the sex. It was very thoughtful and went deep into the emotional components of the story. I found that satisfying and a relief. Sometimes, romance can start to feel like they’re all about sex. It was nice to read one focused on a relationship as a whole. Now, there is a lot of angst here by nature of the story itself (loss, grief, suicide, etc.). It’s not necessarily a happy romance although it ultimately gets where you want it to go. This is nitpicky but the main character’s name – Colby – kept throwing me as it felt like a masculine name and yet she’s a woman. Other than that there isn’t really a thing wrong with the story that I can think of. I loved this reading experience and feel like it was a romance with heart and soul. I’m eager to see what’s to come with this series (this is the first in a new series).

NOTE: Thank you to the publisher for providing a free ARC of this book for an honest review.