Tag: Simon & Schuster

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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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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Throwback Thursday: Double Standards by Judith McNaught

Posted July 19, 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: Double Standards by Judith McNaughtDouble Standards by Judith McNaught
Published by Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books on January 15, 1991
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Point of View: Alternating Third Person
Pages: 310
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add It: Goodreads
four-half-stars

In the exclusive, glittering world of business superstars, Nick Sinclair was a legend...

The ruggedly handsome president of Global Industries handled his business the way he handled his women -- with charm, daring and ruthless self-control. A man used to the very best, Nick hired Lauren Danner, and assumed the proud beauty would soon be another easy conquest. But Lauren's flashing wit and rare spirit dazzled him -- and slowly, against his will, he was intrigued, challenged -- and in love.

Yet Lauren was living a lie, a charade that became more dangerous with every passing moment. Trapped in a web of deceit, she fought her growing love for Nick. Her secret could destroy his fragile trust -- and the promise of life with the most compelling man she had ever met!

It has been ages since I read this book and I was so confident that I would love this book forever and I’m surprised that after this quick re-read, I still do, in fact, love this book. Sure, I can see why others wouldn’t be as impressed with Nick Sinclair and this story but for me? I am still a fan of Nick and this book. My heart still went weak wherever he was concerned. Sure, he was a playboy and was a dick throughout some of this book and even his courtship of Lauren but man, I just knew he loved Lauren and his flirty attitude and overall confidence completely worked on me.

Nick Sinclair is at the top of his game, is one of the most wildly successful businessmen and Philip Whitworth is tired of losing to him. So after Philip loses yet another big money contract to Nick’s company, he hires Lauren Danner to spy on Nick and Lauren, who is under the impression that she’s doing a good thing accepts the job. She’ll find out who is spying for Nick and the money she is paid will go a long way in helping with her father’s medical bills. The set up for this story is pretty basic and low key unoriginal but it wasn’t the story that I was invested in. I was invested in Nick Sinclair’s character growth and the romance between him and Lauren. I’m also a fan of office romances and this was one of them.

One of the things that I remembered most about Lauren was how naive she was and how inexperienced she was and that didn’t change with this reading. I remembered being frustrated with her character and how little she understood about sex and life but this time around, I appreciated her moral compass and how brave she was when the shit hit the fan. Gosh, that scene when Nick finds out who she really is and what she was sent over to do and his love for her is sorely tested still gets to me to this day. My heart was beating fast and I was furious with Nick, furious with Lauren and just so damn happy when they finally get their shit together and make things right.

Nick wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination but his feelings for Lauren were real and they were big and they completely melted me.

This book wasn’t easy to read and Judith McNaught writes those extra dramatic old school romances that hit me in my feels every time. I’m super happy that I read this book again and remembered my love for Nick Sinclair. It’s still going strong. Gah, such a great story.

Buy the Book

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

Final Grade

4 out of 5

four-half-stars

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Buddy Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Posted July 17, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Buddy Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny HanTo All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1
Also in this series: P.S. I Still Love You, Always and Forever, Lara Jean
Published by Simon & Schuster, Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers on April 15, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Point of View: First Person
Pages: 355
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add It: Goodreads
four-stars

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

Lara Jean Song Covey is about to start her junior year of high school. Everything in her life is fine. She’s got a great relationship with her family, she’s got a great but imperfect friend and even though she’s sad that her older sister Margot is goint to Scotland for college, she’s happy for Margot. Sure, she still gets a little pang in her heart at the thought of her boy best friend Josh being in a relationship with her sister but she wrote him a letter and got everything out and she moved on. She really did.

It’s what she does. When she falls in love with a boy and can’t have that boy for whatever reason, she writes them a letter and pours her heart and soul into that letter and then that letter goes into a box for safekeeping because of course, she was never going to send those letters out. So far, she’s written five letters to five different boys.

Things get really interesting when those letters get sent out…

Rowena: Alright, Ames. We’re back in action after a brief hitaus (haha, meaning we have been stinking it up in the last couple of months) and our first book is To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han in preparation for Netflix’s release of the movie next month.

What did you think?

Ames: Ok, first of all, I’m going to say I enjoyed it. But it took me a while to warm up to it in the beginning and Lara Jean annoyed me a bit, but in the end I really like how it all came together. That ending though!!!

What about you?

Rowena: When I got to the ending, I laughed out loud because I was like, “Oh, that’s why Ames was so annoyed” but yeah, I totally would have felt the same way if I didn’t have the next two books to read right away…and I did start the next book right away. I couldn’t help myself.

I enjoyed it too. It didn’t take me long to jump right into the story but I found myself wanting more Peter really early on. He’s such a boy. Josh was super perfect and because of things that we found out about him and Margot, I knew that I wanted Lara Jean to find her own person. Someone that was hers and hers alone and while Peter was still dealing with his nightmare of an ex, Lara Jean was important to him and I loved seeing them fall in love.

I’m super excited about the Netflix movie too. I cannot wait to see this story brought to life. I bet you the movie is going to get the same ending as the book. Haha.

Ames: I would have been rooting for Lara Jean and Josh too, I mean she did like him first. But we find out what we did about him and Margot and Peter was coming across as more interesting anyway. Josh was too known to Lara Jean, there was no challenge there. Peter was the perfect guy to bust Lara Jean out of her bubble, and man does Lara Jean have a big bubble! I think Josh would have kept her in her small world. I did like all the jealousy though between Peter and Josh as the story developed.

Ok, how awesome was Kitty’s character? I loved her! She was so decisive and the sass she threw Peter’s way was cute. I honestly didn’t care for Margot. That ish she pulls at the end, going to their dad? Not cool, sister. And how she barely kept in touch with Lara Jean while she was gone?

Rowena: I adored Kitty! I think outside of Peter, she was my favorite character. I just loved how sassy she was and how caring she was. She didn’t apologize for who she was but she also cared a lot about everyone in her life. When Peter became of those that she cared for, I cheered. I loved seeing the two of them together and I really loved the way that Peter was with her. Kitty’s birthday present from Peter and Lara Jean was the best thing ever. Also? I loved the dance that they did for Peter and Peter’s reaction to it. I hope that made the cut in the movie.

I agree with you about Josh. Josh was perfect and he was very book boyfriendy but I liked that it was Peter, the not so perfect boy who ended up being Lara Jean’s person. I enjoyed the jealousy on both sides with Peter and Josh. I thought Peter was perfect for Lara Jean and I loved that he did force her out of her bubble and I’m so glad that he did because she is so happy and I love it.

Margot annoyed me too when she played the snitch. That wasn’t cool. You don’t ever do shit like that, no matter how mad you are at your sister.

I think I enjoyed this book a bit more than you did because for me? I give this book a 4.5 out of 5. What about you?

Ames: Kitty and Peter becoming friends was definitely a highlight for me. And Peter’s notes! Like the one he gave Lara Jean to say he wanted to drive Kitty to school in his two seater car. *swoon*

Lara Jean annoyed me – she was very immature in my opinion. The way she acted without thinking of the repercussions. Like jumping on Peter because she didn’t want to deal with Josh coming down the hall. HOWEVER, this immaturity was consistent with who she was as a character and a teenager so even though it annoyed me, it was understandable.

Ok, now I feel like a Grinch. I’m giving this 3.75 out of 5. LOL

Rowena: Yeah, Lara Jean was annoying and immature but Jenny Han did a great job of making that a consistent trait of hers and it fit with her inexperience in all things boys and her world being so small so it didn’t bother me at all. And YES, Peter’s notes! Those were the best.

Overall, this book had me all in my feels and I just adored the hell out of Peter. And haha, you are a Grinch for that grade but it’s all good.

Final Grade

Ames: 3.75 out of 5
Rowena: 4.5 out of 5

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Series

four-stars

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Mini Review Round Up (6)

Posted October 12, 2017 by Rowena in Features, Reviews | 0 Comments

Mini Review Round Up (6)Saving Grace by Julie Garwood
Published by Simon & Schuster, Pocket Star on March 1, 1994
Genres: Historical, Romance
Point of View: Alternating Third Person
Pages: 407
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add It: Goodreads
five-stars

When Lady Johanna learned that she was a widow, she vowed she would never marry again. Only sixteen, already she possessed a strength of will that impressed all who looked past her golden-haired beauty. Yet when King John demanded that she remarry and selected a bridegroom for her—it seemed she must acquiesce, until her beloved foster brother suggested she wed his friend, the handsome Scottish warrior Gabriel MacBain.

At first Johanna was shy, but as Gabriel tenderly revealed the splendid pleasures they would share, she came to suspect that she was falling in love with her gruff new husband. And it was soon apparent to the entire Highlands clan that their brusque, gallant laird had surrendered his heart completely. But now a desperate royal intrigue threatened to tear her from his side—and to destroy the man whose love meant more to her than she had ever dreamed!

It’s another Julie Garwood week so here are some quick thoughts on my re-read of these fabulous books.

This book, man. This is probably my favoritest book by Julie Garwood. It’s got everything. A passionate romance between two outstanding characters, a hero to drool over, a strong heroine who you won’t help but admire and secondary characters that will either charm your socks off or make you want to punch them right in the face.

Lady Johanna has had a hard life and she wants to live out the rest of her life in peace. With a shit husband and an even shittier King, the odds of that happening are not looking good. When her brother suggests a plan for her to gain some protection from the King and get away from bad memories from her late husband, Johanna goes along with it. That plan brings Scottish Laird Gabriel MacBain into her life and he turns her world on its ear.

Gabriel has a lot on his plate and he doesn’t want a wife to add to his already overwhelming responsibilities but when her brother Baron Nicholas approaches him with a plan to take back the land that was taken from him and his clan, Gabriel is hardpressed to say no. Marrying an English lass wasn’t in his plans but if it’ll bring back what was stolen from him, he’ll do it. There isn’t much that Gabriel wouldn’t do for his people. He’s the bomb like that and when he meets Johanna for himself, he wants her and that, dear readers, is that.

The romance between Johanna and Gabriel is one of those old school romances that just fills you all the way up with feels and when you add in all of the other goodness in the book, this book is one that you’ll re-read over and over again. It’s so freaking good. You should read it. No, seriously. Everyone should know Gabriel MacBain and love him. *swoon*

My Rating

5 out of 5

Mini Review Round Up (6)Ransom by Julie Garwood
Published by Simon & Schuster, Pocket Star on December 27, 2002
Genres: Historical, Romance
Point of View: Alternating Third Person
Pages: 546
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add It: Goodreads
four-stars

Overflowing with all of the majesty and intrigue of medieval glory days, this magnificent New York Times bestseller is a page-turner of passion and loyalty, justice and honor. Beloved storyteller Julie Garwood steps back to the silver-shrouded Highlands of her classic tale The Secret--and hails the return of two unforgettable warriors: Ramsey Sinclair and Brodick Buchanan. In the dark days after the death of Richard the Lionhearted, lives and lands would fall into upheaval at the hands of a power-hungry British ruler and his violent minions. One victim of the scourge is innocent Gillian, who is a mere child when the cruel and ambitious Baron Alford slaughters her father and tears her family apart. Alford, determined to recover a jeweled box for the despotic King John, is furious when the precious treasure slips through his fingers--only to be lost for more than a decade.

Now a beautiful young woman, Gillian finds the key to resolving her past in handsome Scottish chieftains Ramsey Sinclair and Brodick Buchanan. With the cunning and courage of the daring Scotsmen, and with the friendship of a new ally, Bridgid KirkConnell, Gillian at last fights the unscrupulous Baron Alford, laying claim to her home, her family, and her father's reputation. But in the presence of the mighty warriors, Gillian and Bridgid discover that desire can be a weapon of conquest...betrayal can slay trust in a heartbeat...and the greatest risk of all is surrender--to the deep emotions of unexpected love.

Ransom is the second book in the Highland Laird’s Series and it follows Laird Brodick Buchanan and Laird Ramsey Sinclair as they bumble their way toward their happily ever afters. Brodick is a brute. A freaking savage and he likes it that way. When he meets gentle and courageous Gillian, things get really interesting. Ramsey, on the other hand is having a hell of a time trying to marry off the most beautiful girl in his whole clan and that’s because she’s making it damned difficult for him to make a good match.

I really enjoyed getting to know Brodick and Gillian again. Gillian’s strength and Brodick’s attitude toward English apples was great fun. Gillian does whatever it takes to do what’s right and I really admired that about her. She wasn’t above lying to get what she wanted and I just flat out liked her. Brodick was a little harder to like because he was so set in his ways and was so stubborn but at his core, he was a good guy and he had only good intentions toward Gillian and that was enough for me.

I seriously adored this book and my one gripe about it was that Ramsey and Brigid deserved their own story. I wasn’t nearly satisfied with their story. I adored Ramsey and came to love the heck out of Brigid but I was left wanting more from their story. I wanted them to have more page time but all these years later, nothings changed on that front so I need to get over it. Ha.

Still, overall this was a fabulous story that had everything I love in romance novels. It’s a good one that I would definitely recommend.

Highland Laird’s Series

My Rating

4 out of 5

five-stars

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