Tag: Book Reviews

Review: The Accidentals by Sarina Bowen

Posted August 14, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 8 Comments

Review: The Accidentals by Sarina BowenThe Accidentals by Sarina Bowen
Published by Indie Published, Tuxbury Publishing LLC on July 10, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Point of View: First Person
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Add It: Goodreads
four-stars

A YA novel from USA Today bestselling author Sarina Bowen.

Never ask a question unless you’re sure you want the truth.

I’ve been listening to my father sing for my whole life. I carry him in my pocket on my mp3 player. It’s just that we’ve never met face to face.

My mother would never tell me how I came to be, or why my rock star father and I have never met. I thought it was her only secret. I was wrong.

When she dies, he finally appears. Suddenly I have a first class ticket into my father’s exclusive world. A world I don’t want any part of – not at this cost.

Only three things keep me going: my a cappella singing group, a swoony blue-eyed boy named Jake, and the burning questions in my soul.


There’s a secret shame that comes from being an unwanted child. It drags me down, and puts distance between me and the boy I love.

My father is the only one alive who knows my history. I need the truth, even if it scares me.

Sarina Bowen has been a staple on my go to authors for great contemporary romances as well as New Adult romances. Now she’s trying her hand at Young Adult stories and The Accidentals is her first shot out of that particular gate. I’m happy to report that Sarina Bowen continues to shine in whatever writing endeavor she undertakes because I really enjoyed The Accidentals.

Rachel’s father in one of the most popular country singers in the country and she knows every single song he’s ever released, she knows so many little tidbits about him but she’s never met him in real life until her mother dies and she is given over to his care. After years and years from watching her father from afar, she’s thrown into his world while she is grieving her dead mother and she’s floundering. The only thing holding her above water is her acceptance letter to the private school that her mother attended when she was her age. She has been looking forward to going to this school for years and now that she’s finally able to go, she’s hoping for a fresh start that will help her move on from the hurt and the awkwardness of getting to know the one person that should have been in your life the whole time.

This book is told in first person, from Rachel’s perspective and being inside her head wasn’t always easy. She’s going through some really personal things and my heart hurt for her at every turn in the beginning.

There was a lot to like in this book. Seeing Rachel grow into who she was meant to be was pretty great and seeing her find her way in a new place, surrounded by new people both at school and at home was neat too because it really showed how resilient she was. She wasn’t perfect in that I did find myself frustrated with her from time to time but in the end, when it mattered, I really liked her character and who she was.

Sarina Bowen introduced us to a great cast of characters that really made this story pop just that much more. From Haze to Jake to Henry and just everyone that we meet in this book brought something to the story and I was glad to have met them all. There was an interesting mix of characters and that was cool.

As an L.A. native who lives so very close to Manhattan Beach, it was great to see a setting so close to home and picture everything so perfectly in my mind. Sarina Bowen’s efforts with this one really paid off because I enjoyed this one from beginning to end. I definitely recommend.

Final Grade

4 out of 5

four-stars

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Review: The Chase by Elle Kennedy

Posted August 10, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 6 Comments

Review: The Chase by Elle KennedyThe Chase by Elle Kennedy
Series: Briar U #1
Published by Elle Kennedy on August 4, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Point of View: Alternating First Person
Pages: 378
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add It: Goodreads
four-stars

A sexy standalone novel from New York Times and international bestselling author Elle Kennedy

Everyone says opposites attract. And they must be right, because there’s no logical reason why I’m so drawn to Colin Fitzgerald. I don’t usually go for tattoo-covered, video-gaming, hockey-playing nerd-jocks who think I’m flighty and superficial. His narrow view of me is the first strike against him. It doesn’t help that he’s buddy-buddy with my brother.

And that his best friend has a crush on me.

And that I just moved in with them.

Oh, did I not mention we’re roommates?

I suppose it doesn’t matter. Fitzy has made it clear he’s not interested in me, even though the sparks between us are liable to burn our house down. I’m not the kind of girl who chases after a man, though, and I’m not about to start. I’ve got my hands full dealing with a new school, a sleazy professor, and an uncertain future. So if my sexy brooding roomie wises up and realizes what he’s missing?

He knows where to find me.

The Chase kicks off the Off-Campus spin-off series, Briar U and it features some familiar characters in Summer Hayward-Di Laurentis and Colin Fitzgerald. We first meet Summer in her brother’s book, The Score. Summer comes to visit her brother Dean at school and takes one look at Fitzy and she wants him. She’s carried a huge ol’ crush on Fitzy around with her ever since and when she transfers from Brown to Briar, things get really interesting for her.

Fitzy is attracted to Summer, of course he is but he can’t go there because 1) She’s Dean’s sister and 2) She’s the exact opposite of everything he is and everything he has no interest in being. She’s outgoing and social where he’s more reserved and more comfortable alone and at home. Sure, he’s a hockey player and he does go out from time to time, but he really loves the quiet that comes from being alone with his art and video games.

Things really get going for them when Summer moves in with Fitzy and the rest of his roommates at the Off-Campus house. She needs a place to stay and they need a roommate so win-win right? Hahaha, oh the drama that comes with Summer moving in. The shenanigans that these two get into was so much fun.

Elle Kennedy does what she does best with this book. She brings together two characters in a way that will have you itching to keep turning the pages. There’s a lot of charm, a lot of OMG that didn’t just happen moments along with characters that will make you laugh and cheer for as you keep reading.

Summer was probably my favorite part of the book even though I did come to love Fitzy but I really enjoyed getting to know Summer because she seemed to be a lot of fun in Dean’s book and that was brought to the front of the class in this one. I loved how strong she was despite being so insecure about her learning disability. Having a daughter who has a learning disability, it made me appreciate Summer’s drive and her willingness to do whatever it took to stay on top of her course studies. I also really enjoyed how she didn’t let Fitzy get away with the shit that he tried to pull with her. Her friendship with Brenna was another thing that I absolutely loved about her. She seriously rocked and even though I thought she led Hunter on for a little bit, I still really liked her.

This week’s book boyfriend is definitely Colin Fitzgerald. As pissed off as he made me, I still loved the hell out of him and his love for Summer. There were times when I wanted to punch him in the junk but as the story continued, my love for him to started to shine through. I loved how he got his shit together and really fell into being Summer’s boyfriend.

He was smart and he was a guy trying to be good and failing miserably but I liked that he did work to turn things around.

This is who I pictured as Fitzy because I love me some Josh from Younger and he fits the image that I have of Colin Fitzgerald. The tats, the good looks, I can definitely see it.

I’m really looking forward to the other books in this series, especially the next book, The Risk. Brenna completely won me over in this book and I cannot wait to see her get her happily ever after. I sincerely hope that her love ends up being Harvard guy because I’m so here for all of the heckling she’ll be doing at his games and the sparks flew all over whenever they were around each other…seriously, their story would be so epic. He’s the star of the rival team, she’s the daughter to the coach of his rival team…they’re supposed to hate each other and yet, they fall in love instead. Who wouldn’t want that story???

Anyway, back to The Chase, this book had all of Elle Kennedy’s trademark humor and sexy story time that I enjoy but there were things that I didn’t care for (the whole thing with Hunter, the way that things were handled with the professor and assistant dean then all of the douche behavior from Fitzy). Still, it was a solid effort and I ended up enjoying the book so I’m planted firmly in the I can’t wait for the next book to come out camp. If you enjoy contemporary NA with compelling characters and a steamy romance then you’ll definitely enjoy this one.

Final Grade

4 out of 5

Buy the Book

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Briar U Series

four-stars

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Throwback Thursday: Paradise by Judith McNaught

Posted August 9, 2018 by Rowena in Features, 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: Paradise by Judith McNaughtParadise by Judith McNaught
Series: Second Opportunities #1
Published by Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books on July 1, 2003
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Point of View: Alternating Third Person
Pages: 709
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add It: Goodreads
four-half-stars

Corporate raider Matthew Farrell had come a long way from the poor, scruffy kid of Indiana's steel mills. A long way from the country club where, feeling like an outsider, he had dared to fall in love with a beautiful blonde named Meredith Bancroft, and known a once-in-a-lifetime passion and betrayal that still haunted his memory... Now world leaders courted him, the media watched his every move, and he was ready to move in on the Bancroft empire.

A cool, poised executive in her family's legendary department store chain, Meredith had once defied her father for the sexually magnetic, intense Matt Farrell -- and their brief, ill-fated marriage was the disastrous outcome. Now, as the Bancroft firm is threatened by a hostile takeover, Meredith is forced to confront Matt. As tensions build between them, bittersweet memories rise to the surface, leaving them suspicious, restless, and uncertain. Will they be able to believe in each other -- and grasp the tender miracle that is before them?

It’s been ages since I read Paradise for the first time and I was a totally different person back then. I was curious to see if this book would live up to the love that I had for it back in the day. Judith McNaught is really good at bringing the angst and that is evident in this one.

Matt Farrell grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and fell in love with a girl far above him in station. When betrayal shakes him to his core, he works his ass off to become richer than any of those snobs at the country club he used to work at. Now, he’s a corporate raider who is at the top of the food chain and is treated like a King. Everything is different now, he’s not longer that poor boy that Meredith left behind all those years ago but when Meredith shows up in his life again, his life is all shaken up again.

Matt and Meredith had a really intense and passionate romance when they were younger. When it was just the two of them, they were perfect. I enjoyed seeing them together again and just as before, I was a complete sucker for Matthew Farrell.

The angst in this book really held up for me and that surprised me because though I don’t remember everything from my last re-read, I do remember Meredith getting on my nerves and though she did annoy me, for the most part, I was just wrapped up in their world all over again and it was lovely.

When Meredith shows up in Indiana to tell Matt the truth about all of those years ago, my heart damn near burst out of my chest. I cried and cried and cried like she was confessing to me. Goodness, Matt’s reaction to all of that, gah, like I said, I was such a sucker for him.

This scene gets me every time:

“If you’ll kiss me back,” he whispered huskily, brushing his lips along the curve of her jaw, “I’ll make it six million. If you’ll go to bed with me tonight,” he continued, losing himself in the scent of her perfume and the softness of her skin, “I’ll give you the world. But if you’ll move in with me,” he continued, dragging his mouth across her cheek to the corner of her lips, “I’ll do much better than that.”

Unable to turn her face farther because his arm was in the way, and unable to turn her body because his body was in the way, Meredith tried to infuse disdain in her voice and simultaneously ignore the arousing touch of his tongue against her ear. “Six million dollars and the whole world!” she said in a slightly shaky voice.

“What else could you possibly give me if I move in with you?”

“Paradise.”

Lifting his head, Matt took her chin between his thumb and forefinger and forced her to meet
his gaze. In an aching, solemn voice he said, “I’ll give you paradise on a gold platter. Anything you want— everything you want. I come with it, of course. It’s a package deal.”

Meredith swallowed audibly, mesmerized by the melting look in his silver eyes and the rich timbre of his deep voice. “We’ll be a family,” he continued, describing the paradise he was offering while he bent his head to her again. “We’ll have children … I’d like six,” he teased, his lips against her temple. “But I’ll settle for one. You don’t have to decide now.” She drew in a ragged breath and Matt decided he’d pushed matters as far as he dared for one night. Straightening abruptly, he chucked her under her chin. “Think about it,” he suggested with a grin.”

Gah, this book is an old school contemporary romance that will knock you on your ass and make you sit up and take notice of all things Judith McNaught. She’s an OG when it comes to writing romance novels and Matt Farrell is one of the many things that she did right. I absolutely love this book and though it’s not perfect, it’s still one of my favorites from McNaught. I definitely recommend.

Buy the Book

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

Final Grade

4.5 out of 5

Second Opportunities Series

four-half-stars

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Throwback Thursday: Dying to Please by Linda Howard

Posted August 2, 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.

This week’s book is Dying to Please by Linda Howard. For my other book blog’s summer reading challenge, I was assigned with reading Midnight Rainbow by Linda Howard and instead of starting that one, I picked this one up instead.

Throwback Thursday: Dying to Please by Linda HowardDying To Please by Linda Howard
Published by Random House, Ballantine on November 4, 2003
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Point of View: Alternating Third Person
Pages: 416
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add It: Goodreads
four-stars

Alternate-cover edition can be found here

Loyal. Beautiful. Professional. Impeccably organized. Potentially lethal.

Sarah Stevens is a woman with many distinct qualities. First and foremost a butler par excellence, skilled at running large households smoothly and efficiently, she is also a trained bodyguard and expert marksman—indispensable to her elderly employer, a courtly gentleman whom Sarah has come to respect and love as a father. Then one night she thwarts an attempted burglary, a courageous act that awards Sarah her requisite “fifteen minutes of fame” with the local press. But the exposure is enough to catch the attention of a tortured soul who, unbeknownst to Sarah, will stop at nothing to have her for himself...

I’m really happy to report that even though I didn’t exactly LOVE this book the way that I did when I first read it, I was still really happy with the story that Linda Howard wrote for Cahill and Sarah.

If you’re new to this book or haven’t read it then this story features Sarah Stevens and Thompson Cahill. Sarah Stevens is a modern day butler/bodyguard and when she comes home from her day off to find her boss dead, her life is thrown upside down. Cahill is the detective on the scene and meeting Sarah Stevens knocks him on his ass. Of course, the first time they meet and he finds out that she’s a butler, he assumes she’s the judge’s mistress or plaything and I loved seeing him wise up in all things Sarah.

The mystery surrounds trying to find out who is killing all of Sarah’s employers and I’ll be honest, that part of the story is pretty weak. I knew who the killer was right away but that wasn’t what I loved about the book. I loved the romance that developed between Cahill and Sarah. I loved getting to know both of their characters and I still really love that wrestling scene.

I remember loving how strong and resilient Sarah was and that didn’t change here. I also remembered how much I adored Cahill but this time around, it was all Sarah for me. She was the bomb and I still think she can take The Rock on and come out on top. She’s smart, she’s strong and what you see is what you get. She’s got that take no nonsense kind of attitude that could be taken so many different ways but for me, it really worked for her character. There was a warmth to her and I was completely charmed. I seriously want to be Sarah Stevens when I grow up.

Cahill and Sarah made sense together and I really enjoyed each scene that they’re in together. Cahill’s honesty and Sarah’s take-charge attitude just worked for me and I loved how hot they were for each other. Linda Howard really shines at character development and I thought she did a nice job of letting us get to know these two. It’s a winner in my book and I definitely recommend if you’re in the mood for a little suspense, some hot loving and two strong characters that are just made for each other. This is a good one.

Buy the Book

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Final Grade

4 out of 5

four-stars

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Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Posted July 27, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny HanAlways and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before #3
Also in this series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before, P.S. I Still Love You
Published by Simon & Schuster, Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 2, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Point of View: First Person
Pages: 336
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
four-half-stars

Lara Jean is having the best senior year. And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.

Life couldn’t be more perfect!

At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks…until she gets some unexpected news.

Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Always and Forever, Lara Jean marks the end of the fun. I can’t believe it’s all over. No more Song sisters. No more Peter and Lara Jean. No more contracts. *sigh* No more Peter. Gah. I didn’t want it to end. I had hella anxiety reading this book but I kept pushing myself to finish it because even though I was scared for what was to come, I knew that Jenny Han was going to take care of us in the end and I was right. Jenny Han did take care of us. She wrote a very satisfying ending to such a fantastic series.

In this book, everything is going so well for both Peter and Lara Jean. They’re young, they’re in love and they’re starting their senior year and have prom, senior trips and Beach week to look forward to. They’ve got plans for their future and nothing can bring them down…until Lara Jean gets some bad news that throws their plans out of whack. Then if you add family stuff on both of their sides, things get really complicated for my favorite YA couple in a long while.

Jenny Han writes young love really well. Everything that Peter and Lara Jean went through felt so real and my heart hurt for them during the bad times and I rejoiced like crazy in the good times. These two have come so long and their love has been tested and put through the wringer and that didn’t stop with this book. Gah, they were so young and they acted and reacted like young people do and while that could drive me crazy, more than anything, I was rooting for these two to figure things out. Together. Because they’re Peter and Lara Jean. They’re each other’s lobsters and my romantic heart wouldn’t accept anything less than true happiness with the both of them together.

There’s a lot of goodness in this book and a lot of OMG what’s going to happen moments. I’m glad to have experienced both emotions while reading this book. I loved the send off that Han gave us and thought it was the perfect ending for these guys. I loved Peter’s promposal, his birthday celebration for Lara Jean, his remembered memory of the first time he saw Lara Jean, his amended contract and just Peter. I loved Peter and Lara Jean was the perfect partner for him because her love for him matched his in equal measure. So, I did a lot of sneak reading of this book at work and these two made me freaking cry. I was an emotional mess while finishing up this book but holy cow was I satisfied with the ending.

Peter is my book boyfriend for a second week in a row for that amended contract at the end of this book alone. I was a giddy mess at the end and I adored it and him so much. The determination he showed toward Lara Jean melts my heart. All of that feeling and angst?? Gah, I loved it. Peter Kavinsky in love is a site to behold. I’m so glad that Lara Jean knew the treasure she held in her hand day in and day out.

Jenny Han gets all of my heart eyes this week because I just freaking loved this book. If you haven’t read it, fix that. You won’t be sorry, I promise.

Final Grade

4.75 out of 5

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Series

four-half-stars

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