Thursday, March 15, 2018

Book Review: The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Pages: 320
Genre: Adult Fiction/Romance
Pub. Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars 

Goodreads says, " A groomsman and his last-minute guest are about to discover if a fake date can go the distance in a fun and flirty debut novel.  Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn't normally do. But there's something about Drew Nichols that's too hard to resist.  On the eve of his ex's wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend... After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she's the mayor's chief of staff. Too bad they can't stop thinking about the other...   They're just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century--or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want..."

Alexa is a successful female who works for the mayor and while on her way to visit her sister, she ends up stuck in the elevator. Except she isn't alone. She's "stuck" with a hot doctor who just so happens to not only be single, but also be attending a wedding in San Francisco.  While stuck in the elevator, Alexa and Drew actually hit it off and sparks fly.  Somehow Drew convinces Alexa to be his date at this wedding since his previous bailed on him.  This isn't just any wedding though. This is the wedding of his ex-girlfriend and it would really stink if he showed up without a date. Alexa accepts, because what does she have to lose? This leads to a whole fake relationship that turns into something more plot line, but what separates this novel from the usual frothy and overly saccharine plot lines is the fact that it's a pretty real portrayal of a relationship and the big question that hangs over a couples head. Does the couple want to take the next steps and make it an official relationship?  If you like romance novels that will have you blushing and are like your favorite rom-com, then definitely give The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory one a try.

I really liked Alexa from the beginning. She's a successful confidant woman who is witty, charming, and funny. Her relationship with Drew, in the beginning, is just a physical one, but I liked how once they got to know each other better, they developed real feelings for one another.  Drew is sort of a "perfect" guy. He's a good looking pediatric surgeon who is somehow still single.  Like I said, he needs a date for his ex-girlfriend's wedding and spontaneously asks Alexa to go with him.  It was a lot of fun going along for their "fake relationship" ride at the wedding and even after the wedding as they still continued to see each other, but ultimately, the question remains.  To quote Old Dominion, "Are we written in the stars, baby, or are we written in the sand?" Meaning where does their relationship stand? Is it a real one? Can they actually share their true feelings or has this whole thing been a facade?

I rolled my eyes a few times reading The Wedding Date as so many circumstances seemed a little too good to be true, but the novel had some depth. It wasn't just your usual romance. It deals with interracial relationships as well as true relationship issues. I thought that Guillory portrayed the complexities of a new relationship very accurately. But that isn't to say it wasn't romantic. I mean this book got pretty racy and quickly. I wasn't completely expecting it and I didn't mind, but be forewarned, especially if that isn't your thing. 

I think The Wedding Date will appeal to romance fans the most, especially if you are looking for a rom-com type of novel with some depth.  This would be great spring break reading for sure! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday: The Secret to Southern Charm

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

The Secret to Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey
Pub. Date: April 3, 2018

YES! Bring on the beach reads! I really loved the first book in the series, Slightly South of Simple, and am looking forward to continuing with the story.  Also, I am LOVING the cover! What do you guys think? 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Giveaway: Emergency Contact

I'm excited to share this fun giveaway with you guys! Thanks to Simon Teen, I have an extra copy of Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi to give away to one lucky US reader along with your very own PopSocket for your cell phone.

Goodreads says, "For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.  Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.   When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other."

Doesn't this YA debut sound like a lot of fun? The book hits shelves on March 27th, so keep your eye out for it. Please refer to my giveaway rules and good luck!

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Sunday, March 11, 2018

Stacking the Shelves (63)

Giveaway: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
Book Review: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Next week I'll be sharing my thoughts on the super fun novel, The Wedding Date, which was light and romantic, which was just what I needed.  I'll also be giving away a copy of Emergency Contact, a debut YA novel that sounds really good, along with some other goodies! Keep your eye out for it!

Olivia Twist by  Lorie Langdon - Thanks to Blink
I Have the Right To by Chessy Prout - Thanks to Simon and Schuster
Sailing Lessons by Hannah McKinnon - Thanks to Atria and NetGalley

Have you read any of these books? Are they on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts. Thanks for visiting! This meme is hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Giveaway: The Belles

Happy Friday, all! This has been a week! We've had a ton of snow here in PA. Can we just all agree that it's going to be spring now? 

Today I'm giving away an ARC of The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. Isn't the cover gorgeous?  Kirkus Reviews calls it an "undeniable page turner" and I think the setting sounds really unique and interesting.

Goodreads says, "Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.  But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.   With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever."

Good luck and be sure to read my giveaway rules.  This giveaway is open to US readers only. Thanks to Disney-Hyperion for the extra copy. Happy Friday!

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Thursday, March 8, 2018

Book Review: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Pages: 435
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: February 6, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin's
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Fly Away and The Nightingale
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Alaska, 1974. Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed. For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival. Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier. Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown  At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources. But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.  In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature."

Ernt Allbright, once a romantic and kind man returned home from Vietnam as a different and very troubled man.  Cora, his wife, grew up in an affluent area, but left that all behind to be with Ernt despite her parents' warning. Cora had Leni, her daughter, at a very young age and since then has lived a very nomadic life constantly uprooting Leni at every turn. One of Ernt's friends and fellow Vietnam veterans leaves him a house in Alaska. So, the family moves, yet again, to the wilderness of Alaska with the hopes of starting over and escaping some of Ernt's dark shadows that seem to always follow him.  At first things seem better for Ernt as he is able to initially control his unpredictable and violet personality, but as winter approaches in Alaska they realize that they are sorely unprepared. Thanks to the townspeople they are able prepare themselves a bit more and Leni makes her first real friend. However, as the nights get longer and the weather colder, so does Ernt's personality. Is it Alaska's unpredictability that they should be weary of or the man that they don't know anymore that lives in their house?  Kristin Hannah's The Great Alone kept me up flipping the pages till very late. I was completely engrossed in the Allbright's tale of survival, post-traumatic stress disorder, abuse, friendship, and even romance.

I absolutely adored Leni in The Great Alone. My heart truly went out to her as she is sometimes more of an adult than her two ridiculous parents.  Although I appreciated her close relationship with her mother, Cora frustrated me as she was always putting Leni in a dangerous situation by staying with Ernt.  As time goes on in Alaska, Leni sort of branches out and spreads her wings a bit. She even forms a close relationship with someone who will change her life forever.  I was a total sucker for that plot line and wanted Leni to leave Alaska and her crazy parents behind.

Cora is someone I pitied in The Great Alone. I mean we have seen it all before. The abused woman who makes countless excuses for the abuser, but as things progressed, I really felt for her. Essentially she was trapped and I was rooting for her to break free. But where will they go in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness? This part of the story was truly a nail biter. On the other hand, Ernt was a character I despised. I mean at first I felt badly for him as he is obviously struggling with returning from Vietnam and dealing with post-traumatic stress, but he is just a jerk. I couldn't wait for him to get what he deserves.

The buildup and the suspense that Hannah created in The Great Alone was outstanding. I was truly on the edge of my seat and was wondering about the characters long after I stopped reading. She kept me guessing and she kept me worried! Another outstanding aspect of the novel was the setting. A remote town in Alaska is an incredible setting for a story and Hannah hits it out of the ballpark with this one. It was as if Alaska was its own character. I found her descriptions of the weather and the dark nights juxtaposed by Alaska's secluded beauty absolutely spellbinding.  Readers can tell that Hannah has spent some time in Alaska as she truly brought the setting to life so vividly.

Although I didn't love The Great Alone as much as The Nightingale, I still really, really enjoyed it and found it to be so memorable. It is going down as one of my favorite books of the year!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

What I'm Reading Next (8)

March is really a mixed bag around here in Pennsylvania, so I am still hunkering down by the fire reading some historical fiction, which is definitely my go-to wintertime genre. But pretty soon, I am going to start tackling some of those springtime beach reads. I can almost feel the sunshine. Almost. So, here's what I am hoping to read this month, but let's be honest. I probably will only get to a few. 

The Darkling Bride by Laura Andersen - A castle in Ireland. A Gothic vibe. A family drama. A mystery. This is March reading at its best, right?

The Final Six by Alexandra Monir - A promising new young adult sci-fi novel where six teenagers scout a new planet since Earth is dangerous due to climate change.  There's a lot of buzz surrounding this book as it's already being made into a movie. I will admit I am pretty much over sci-fi novels for now, but I have enjoyed Monir's books in the past, so I will give it a try. Keep your eye out for a giveaway on my blog, too!

More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer - I absolutely adored Kemmerer's Letters to the Lost. If you haven't read it, you must! This is a spin-off of that story focusing on Rev, one of my favorite characters.  

The Neighbors by Hannah Mary McKinnon - I think this novel has a Liane Moriarty vibe.  I am excited to start it. It deals with neighbors (obviously), dark secrets, and relationships. It sounds like it will keep me on the edge of my seat. 

Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers by Sara Ackerman  - I never got around to reading this book last month, but really want to make time. You guys know I love stories with a WWII  setting and Hawaii is just about my favorite place on Earth.

Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherfurd - Every March around St. Patrick's Day, I try to read this novel, but I never *actually* make time. Will this March be the year I finally dive in? Let's hope so! I love learning more about Irish history.

What do you hope to read this March? Have you read any of the books on my TBR pile? Let me know in the comments below. 

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