Tag: Book Reviews

Throwback Thursday: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Posted September 6, 2018 by Rowena in Features, Reviews | 4 Comments

Each week, I’ll be writing a review for an oldie but goodie that I’ve read through again to see if these books are holding up for me. I’m a different person than I was when I read these books, older and wiser (at least I hope) so I’m curious to see if books that I used to love can stand the test of time.

Throwback Thursday: Just Listen by Sarah DessenJust Listen by Sarah Dessen
Published by Penguin, Viking Books for Young Readers on April 6, 2006
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Point of View: First Person
Pages: 371
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add It: Goodreads
four-stars

Last year, Annabel was "the girl who has everything" — at least that's the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf's Department Store.

This year, she's the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.

Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen's help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.

This story follows Annabelle Greene as she makes her way back to school after a summer spent being away from everyone and anyone from school. Including her ex-best friend Sophie. Now she’s back at school and has to face everyone that she hasn’t seen in months and she also has to deal with the fact that nobody likes her anymore.

Annabelle’s life is anything but simple. She’s got family issues she’s dealing with and she’s got to deal with the fact that she has no friends at school anymore except for the kid who’s got anger issues, Owen Armstrong. Annabelle is known for playing popular girls on commercials who have it all together but her real life is anything but. She’s the youngest of three girls and she couldn’t be any more different from her sisters. Her older sister Kristen is the loud and outspoken sister while her sister Whitney is more reserved. Annabelle has the kind of personality where she can fade into the background without too much effort. She’s just there. She’s nice and friendly. She doesn’t do well with confrontation so she goes out of her way to avoid fights.

When her best friend Sophie gets mad at her, instead of trying to make things right or explain herself, she just lets Sophie be pissed off and she kind of caves into herself. She hides from everyone and it’s not until Owen Armstrong comes along and changes her slowly but surely that things start to look up for Annabelle.

Owen good for Annabelle. From his radio show to the cd’s that he made for her and just everything about him was good for her…until she messes things up and chases him away.

The thing about Sarah Dessen is she writes characters and conflict really well. Her stories stand out for me because every single one of her books feels real. I can see these kinds of things happening and in some cases, I have seen these things happen. The characters in her books suffer from the same things that I remember suffering from in high school and all I want is to give them a little nudge in the right direction. I love her characters and even though Annabelle drove me up the wall sometimes, I never once disliked her. She felt like a little sister to me and I just adored the hell out of her.

But what really made this book for me was Owen. Man but I loved that boy. I thought he was such a great character and wonderful addition to an already fantastic story. His radio station never failed to bring a smile to my face and I just adored him to pieces.

The bond that formed between Annabelle and Owen was too cute for words and while this is not my favorite Sarah Dessen book, it’s one of them and Owen was a huge part of that.

Buy the Book

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || GOOGLE BOOKS || KOBO || THE RIPPED BODICE

Final Grade

4 out of 5

four-stars

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Review: Hard Sell by Lauren Layne

Posted August 31, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 10 Comments

Review: Hard Sell by Lauren LayneHard Sell by Lauren Layne
Series: 21 Wall Street Series #2
Published by Amazon, Montlake Romance on September 4, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Point of View: Alternating First Person
Pages: 252
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Add It: Goodreads
four-half-stars

Brilliantly hot Matt Cannon doesn't mind his "boy wonder" nickname. At twenty-eight, he may be the youngest--and richest--broker at his firm, but the constant string of women in his bed know he's all man. When Matt's boss insists he clean up his image to land a potential investor, Matt knows just the woman to pose as his girlfriend.

Sabrina Cross is Wall Street's go-to "fixer"--a chameleon of a woman who can be anything, to any man, for any reason, with just one rule: no touching. Matt and Sabrina have always been like oil and water, but their new arrangement lights a match to the animosity and leads to something altogether hotter.

Lauren Layne is at the top of my favorite author’s list. I will read whatever she puts out because I’m that big a fan of hers and lately, she’s been knocking shit out of the park. It’s no different with Hard Sell. Matt and Sabrina’s romance was just as awesome as I hoped and I completely adored the both of them.

So, Hard Sell is the second book in the 21 Wall Streets series and it was another rollicking good time. I enjoyed Ian and Lara’s story in Hot Asset but the bickering and angsty love of Matt and Sabrina really worked for me. I thought Lauren Layne did the fake relationship turned real relationship thing between Matt and Sabrina really well and everything just worked for me.

When we first meet Matt and Sabrina, you just know that there’s a history between the two. They bicker constantly and are always having to be separated because of their bickering. They belong to the same circle of friends and while they don’t seem to like each other, they tolerate each other for the sake of their shared loved one, Ian Bradley.

Matt works with Ian and Sabrina is a fixer who is Ian’s oldest friend. When Matt needs a fake girlfriend to fix his image for a potential investor, who better to fix this problem for him than Sabrina? She fixes problems and he has a problem that not just anyone could help him with so even though he doesn’t get along with Sabrina, he does trust her. He also desperately needs her.

They both knew that the situation was a weird one and that it wasn’t going to be easy. They barely get along and having to pretend to love each other is going to take a lot out of them and I laughed and laughed because Lauren Layne’s humor game in this one is strong.

“How’s the Sabrina thing been going?”

“I’m exhausted.”

“It’s only been two days.”

I enjoyed the way that they both understood how they felt about each other and I enjoyed seeing them work through their seperate issues to come out on top. They were a great couple with amazing chemistry and I thought Layne did a fantastic job of telling their story.

Matt Cannon is my book boyfriend for this week because he was flat out the bomb. I loved his cocky attitude, his witty personality and I really adored the way that he came to love Sabrina. The passion was always there for them but everything else was new to him and seeing him come to realize that was so good. I loved seeing him get so jealous and then going after what he really wanted. A jealous Matt Cannon is super sexy.

I’ve been thinking the hardest part of this whole thing will be faking being in love when I don’t even believe in love. Now I know better. The hardest thing is going to be keeping my hands off the only woman I’ve ever wanted.

Here’s my Matt Cannon.

Overall, it’s another winner for me. I enjoyed the characters, the romance, everything and even though there were times when I wanted to junk punch both Matt and Sabrina, in the end, I just flat out loved them. I cannot freaking wait for Kennedy and Kate’s story.

Final Grade

4.5 out of 5

Buy the Book

Hard Sell by Lauren Layne
September 4, 2018
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

21 Wall Street Series

four-half-stars

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Throwback Thursday: Castles by Julie Garwood

Posted August 30, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Each week, I’ll be writing a review for an oldie but goodie that I’ve read through again to see if these books are holding up for me. I’m a different person than I was when I read these books, older and wiser (at least I hope) so I’m curious to see if books that I used to love can stand the test of time.

Throwback Thursday: Castles by Julie GarwoodCastles by Julie Garwood
Series: Crown's Spies #4
Also in this series: The Lion's Lady, Guardian Angel, The Gift
Published by Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books on November 4, 1996
Genres: Historical, Romance
Point of View: Alternating Third Person
Pages: 354
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add It: Goodreads
four-half-stars

Orphaned and besieged Princess Alesandra knew that only hasty marriage to an Englishman could protect her from the turmoil in her own land. To the amusement of her makeshift guardian, Colin, younger brother of the Marquess of Caineswood, the bold raven-haired beauty instantly captivated London society. But when Alesandra was nearly abducted by her unscrupulous countrymen, the fighting instincts that won Colin a knighthood for valor were rekindled.

Deceiving himself that he wanted only to protect her, Colin swept her into a union meant to be a marriage in name alone ... yet Alesandra's tender first kiss and hesitant caress ignited a wildfire in his soul. As the lovely princess dashed headlong into unforeseen dangers, Colin would follow, knowing he must claim her as his own forever. Now he would risk life itself before he would lose this sweet, tempestuous angel ...

Back in the day, I used to be a regular poster on Julie Garwood’s Bulletin Board and it was a lot of fun for me. I needed somewhere to go to discuss my passion for books and love of Julie Garwood heroes, heroines and books in general. The JGBB was the perfect place for that. Every month, we discussed a different JG book, we played online games and you could even compete to claim your own JG hero. Colin was the very first JG hero that I actually competed to claim as my own….and your girl won!!!

Haha, anyway this book was brought back onto my radar after Quinn brought it up on the discord app as one of her favorite Julie Garwood books and I just had to do it. I just had to open this sucker up and read it all in one sitting. I loved this book just as much as I have every other single time that I’ve read it. Colin and Alessandra are serious couples goals and Julie Garwood is second to none in capturing their romance, their humor and their motherfreaking charm because re-reading this book was a good time.

Castles is the last book in Julie Garwood’s Crown’s Spies series and it follows Caine from Guardian Angel’s younger brother Colin as he finds love with orphaned Princess Alesandra. Colin’s parents are Alesandra’s guardians and they’re trying to protect her from the unwanted attention of the suitor’s variety. Everyone wants a piece of an orphaned Princess you know. When her life is thrown into constant danger because someone is trying to kidnap her, Colin steps in and takes over her protection…and that’s when the shenanigans begin.

This book man, it’s always so much fun to dive into old school Julie Garwood books because the hero and the heroine get into some crazy stuff and seeing them come together in love with each other is the best. Colin and Alesandra were one of my favorites back in the day and reuniting with them and reading through that family dinner scene always hits me in my funny bone and gets me all up in my feels. I laughed just as much this time around as I always do and man, I can’t recommend this book enough. The series is a winner for me too so if you want to really get the dynamic of the group of Crown Spies featured in this book, you should start with The Lion’s Lady. All of the books were great and this one is my favorite of the bunch.

There were so many things I had forgotten before re-reading this book. Like that Colin’s nickname is Dolphin. I forgot about Alesandra’s lists. What she did for Colin’s boots and his limp. That her bodyguard Raymond was hurt and just how refreshingly sweet Alessandra was. This was a really good book and if you’re in the mood for a fun historical romance then look no further than Castles because seriously, it’s a great book.

Buy the Book

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || GOOGLE BOOKS || KOBO || THE RIPPED BODICE

Final Grade

4.5 out of 5

Crown’s Spies Series

four-half-stars

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Buddy Review: Two Weeks Notice by Whitney G.

Posted August 23, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 6 Comments

Buddy Review: Two Weeks Notice by Whitney G.Two Weeks Notice by Whitney G.
Published by Self-Published, Whitney G on July 19, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Point of View: First Person
Pages: 240
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add It: Goodreads
three-half-stars

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing this letter to formally announce my resignation from Parker International (& the arrogant, condescending CEO) effective two weeks from today.

This was a VERY EASY decision to make, as the past two years have been utterly miserable. I wish his next executive assistant all the luck in the world (she'll need it) and if my boss should need me to do anything over the next two weeks, kindly tell him that he can do it [his] goddamn self...

Sincerely (Not Really),Tara Lauren

That’s the version of my two weeks’ notice I should’ve sent to my boss, because the more professional version—the one where I said I was "grateful for all the opportunities," and "honored by all the rewarding experiences" over the years?

That letter was rejected with his sexy, trademark smirk and an “I highly suggest you read the fine print of your contract...”

So, I did.

And now I've realized that unless I fake my death, poison him, or find a way to renegotiate my impossible contract, I’m stuck working under one of the cockiest and most ruthless bosses in New York.

Then again, I thought that was the case until he called me late last night with an emergency proposition...

Rowena: Alright, Ames. What did you think?

Ames: Ok, I liked this more than Forget You, Ethan. I liked the dynamic between an employee who hates her boss, but is also attracted to him. However, the beginning did come off a bit familiar to me – familiar to another Whitney G title (Thirty Day Boss). But luckily it became its own story and I enjoyed it.

What about you?

Rowena: I did end up enjoying this book but it was the opposite for me. I enjoyed Forget You, Ethan more. I could not stand the way that Preston treated Tara as an employee but also as a person. He had no respect for her, her time and even her personal life. Sure he paid her handsomely but that didn’t make up for the way that he treated her and everyone else at his company. It was hard for me to take a lot of the time and when she tries to quit and he shows how shady his dealings were with the contract, I was pissed all over again. Seriously??? White ink?? What a douchebag!

I will like how strong Tara becomes over the course of the book and I really liked when she started standing up for herself but I don’t know that it made up for Preston. Hmm.

Ames: Too funny that we have the opposite reaction to this book. I must have a backward sense of humor because I found their interactions funny. I thought that if she was really serious about quitting, she would have stopped showing up to work – like that white ink wouldn’t stand up if he sued her for breach of contract (and he wouldn’t have). But they were just playing a really long game with each other – that was how I read it all. I liked that Tara had a very interesting job interview (he catches her stealing!) and from there I knew it was going to be a fun story. I liked how Tara came into her own as the story progressed but what really made this book fun for me was the introduction of a new character that showed the more human side to Preston. I liked their interactions and even how Tara dealt with the addition. I read this book in almost one sitting and I had a big smile on my face when it was all over. This is the type of humor I come to expect from Whitney G.

Rowena: I think I need to take a break from Whitney G books after this read because I was super annoyed with Rachel in Forget You, Ethan but I got over it and ended up liking her and whileI didn’t absolutely hate Preston, I came close. The way that Preston treated Tara was not funny to me and I wanted to slap his dumb ass rich boy face multiple times. Preston held too much power over Tara and the way that he wielded that power rubbed me the wrong way. He was oh so lucky when that new character that was introduced came onto the scene because who knows how it would have ended for him in my eyes. *shrugs*

What would you grade this book? I’d give it a 2.5 out of 5 because there were things that I liked about the book but the stuff that I hated colored my enjoyment for much of the book for me to overlook it.

Ames: I think this is the first book we’ve really disagreed about it! LOL I can see where you’re coming from with Preston but again, my interpretation of it was different. And side note, I agree that Rachel was super annoying in Forget You, Ethan.

Ok, I’m giving this one a 3.5 out of 5. I was amused, I liked the dynamic between the characters and I liked the little switch up that was introduced mid-way through the story.

Final Grade

Ames: 3.5 out of 5
Rowena: 2.5 out of 5

three-half-stars

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Throwback Thursday: Gone too Far by Suzanne Brockmann

Posted August 16, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Each week, I’ll be writing a review for an oldie but goodie that I’ve read through again to see if these books are holding up for me. I’m a different person than I was when I read these books, older and wiser (at least I hope) so I’m curious to see if books that I used to love can stand the test of time.

Throwback Thursday: Gone too Far by Suzanne BrockmannGone too Far by Suzanne Brockmann
Series: Troubleshooters #6
Published by Random House, Ballantine on March 2, 2004
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Romantic Suspense
Point of View: Alternating Third Person
Pages: 536
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add It: Goodreads
four-stars

In her sizzling, award-winning novels of suspense, bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann delves into the adrenaline-rushed world of counter terrorism–and taps into the real passions of its brave men and women. Now in her widely anticipated hardcover debut, she spins a story of action, intrigue, and romance, as a U.S. Navy SEAL and an FBI agent race to unravel a mystery–while confronting their own unresolved feelings for each other. . . .

In his career as one of America’s elite warriors, Lt. Sam Starrett can do no wrong. In his private life, Sam–the king of one night stands–has done little right. Now, he’s waiting for a divorce and determined to stay active in his young daughter’s life. But when Sam shows up at the door of his ex-wife’s home in Sarasota, Florida, he makes a grisly discovery. His daughter is gone and the body of a woman lies brutally murdered on the floor.

FBI agent Alyssa Locke’s relationship with Sam has been overwhelmingly intense and nearly catastrophic, yet it refuses to end. The last time she saw Sam was six months earlier, when they worked together to stop terrorists from assassinating the U.S. President. Much to her dismay, Alyssa is assigned to lead the murder investigation and once again the two are face to face. When explosive information surfaces linking Sam to the still unsolved assassination plot, the stakes are raised. With her reputation hanging in the balance, and her loyalties in question, Alyssa is faced with an impossible dilemma:arrest a man she believes to be innocent, or risk her career.

While Alyssa tries to fight their intense attraction, Sam is determined to heat things up between them once again. And the complex case pushes them both to the wrong side of the law–and on the run to discover the truth. As more agents step into the chase, and with Sam’s daughter still unaccounted for, neither Alyssa nor Sam can predict just how deadly hot this situation is about to become. . . .

A thrilling novel that ranges back into the days of World War II, into friendships, families, liaisons, betrayals, and the code of honor that binds the U.S. Navy SEALs, Gone Too Far is an electrifying experience in suspense–and a brilliant tale of lives lived on the edge.

From the Hardcover edition.

It’s been a long ass time since I’ve read this book and when I think back to how obsessed I used to be over the entire Troubleshooters world and with Sam Starrett in particular, I laugh because it was low key embarrassing. Not that I regret my obsession because Suz Brockmann is a legit author who wrote a fantastic romantic suspense series with characters that to this day, I’m still mad over and Sam Starrett is still one of my top ten favorite heroes of all time and I still don’t care what my friend Holly says about that. And him. Haha.

Re-reading this book was like reading it for the first time because so much of what happened, I didn’t remember. That didn’t stop me from jumping right into the magic that is Sam and Alyssa though. There’s a lot going on in this book and in true Suz Brockmann fashion, she handles it all extremely well. I read the entire thing and was invested in what was happening with everything and everyone. I was taken right back to being scared that the person Sam finds when he shows up at Mary Lou’s house was her, worried about what happened with his daughter and happy when Alyssa shows up and the connection between her and Sam opens up again.

There’s a lot of fast-paced action going on in this book, with Sam and Alyssa trying to get answers and Sam trying to find his daughter, Haley and ex-wife Mary Lou. Throughout the Troubleshooters series, Sam and Alyssa have circled each other and when wrenches were thrown into the mix, they part and try to move on. Alyssa is not happy that Sam Starrett refuses to stay out of her life but I really enjoyed their interactions with each other. I loved seeing them learn about what made them the people that they are now. They both have dark pasts that they overcame and I loved seeing them come to care and accept each other for who they are now and not who they were before.

One of the things that I remember the most about this series is how Brockmann would tell many stories that bring the main story together and that wasn’t any different in this book. I enjoyed seeing Mary Lou use the smarts that she learned from Sam to keep her and Haley safe. I enjoyed the romance between Sam and Alyssa and I just really enjoyed the whole thing. If you’re a fan of romantic suspense novels and military romances then you should definitely give this book a go. It’s good stuff and though Sam Starrett can be hard to take at times, I promise he’s such a compelling and charming character that you won’t help but fall for. Alyssa is his perfect match and this story brings them together in such a great way that I was completely satisfied with the ending. So, so good.

Buy the Book

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || GOOGLE BOOKS || KOBO || THE RIPPED BODICE

Final Grade

4.25 out of 5

Troubleshooters Series

four-stars

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