Blog Tour Review: Ten Reasons To Stay by Candace Knoebel

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Title: Ten Reasons to Stay
Author: Candace Knoebel
Series: The Risky Hearts Duet #1
Publisher: Self-Published by Candace Knoebel
Publication Date: August 29, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Received an advanced copy from the author/InkSlinger PR for the purpose of this blog tour

Goodreads
Amazon

Rating: 5 stars

One day a week—Thursdays—my husband and I could do whatever or whomever we pleased.
Protection was non-negotiable.
And no matter what, we had to be home by midnight.

Jack was the one who wanted an open marriage, but we were supposed to keep things simple. No strings. No commitments. It seemed so easy… until it wasn’t.

Devilishly handsome Cole Blackwater was only supposed to be a fling, but everything about him made me feel alive. Wanted. Seen. When I realized he was my husband’s boss, I should have broken things off right then… but I didn’t.

One day a week, I could pretend that I was his and he was mine… until Cole wanted more.

But how could I decide between the man I’d promised to love, honor, and cherish, and the man who tempted me to break every single vow I’d made?

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Review:

“Maybe I wouldn’t ever have her. Maybe she’d never leave him, but the least I could do was stand up for her when he wouldn’t. Make him see her, because in the end, my misery didn’t matter. Only hers.”

Corinne was a great female character. She was put in a pretty tough situation, the kind of thing that would be the last marriage arrangement most people would be ok with. But I felt like she handled it with grace. Instead of being bitter and deceitful, she stuck to her end of the bargain and took the time to truly become herself again.

Sorry, Corinne, but I’m stealing Cole from you. Considering the situation he was in, I had so much respect for him and the way he handled things. It would be easy to be a massive asshole and pressure Corinne constantly, but he never did that. He respected her and the situation they were in.

“In that moment, I realized that every phase of our life comes with change, and different people fit into those pockets of change for different reasons. Some were there to hurt us, which thickened our shells. Some were there to build us up, lifting our pride. Some were there only briefly to open our eyes, bringing back the magic we lost.”

This was my first Candace Knoebel book, and based on her writing alone, I’m officially a fan. I adored the way she wrote this. It was like you could feel what each character was feeling. Both the happiness and the heartbreak.

The plot was so creative to me. I’ve never read something that involved an open marriage. Most contemporary romance novels are very cut and dry, black and white. This novel explored more of a grey area, and it did that so well. Something that goes into a grey area could easily be a miss more than a hit, but oh my god. I loved loved loved this.

The pacing made me so happy. This book happened over the span of a fair bit of time. Nothing was instantaneous. The way the love developed between Corinne and Cole and the way things went down between Corinne and Jack. It made everything feel more realistic and natural.

Read this book. Seriously. Read. This. Book. It’s not the most typical plot in terms of a romance story, but it pays off. I highly recommend picking this up right now. Candace Knobel has the ability to be a powerhouse contemporary romance writer and I hope more people read her novels. I certainly will be. It’s worth your time.

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About Candace Knoebel:

Candace Knoebel is a hopeless romantic with an affinity for whiskey and good music. Her love of words began when she met the boy who lived in the cupboard under the stairs. She’s a self-proclaimed Lost Girl. Words are her mirror.

With two completed series, her work ranges from  paranormal to contemporary, all centered heavily around romance. Currently she lives in Florida with her husband and two children, and has just completed her thirteenth novel, The Taste of Her Words.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
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ARC Review: Not So Nice Guy by R.S. Grey

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Title: Not So Nice Guy
Author: R.S. Grey
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published by R.S. Grey
Publication Date: August 9, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Romantic Comedy
Source: Received an advanced copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads
Amazon

Rating: 5 stars

“Oh my god. Who that?”
I get asked this question a lot.
“Oh him?” I reply. “That’s just Ian.”

Just Ian is the biggest understatement of the century.
Just the Mona Lisa. Just the Taj Mahal. Just Ian, with his boring ol’ washboard abs and dime-a-dozen dimpled smile.

Just Ian is… just my best friend.

We’re extremely close, stuck so deep inside a Jim-and-Pam-style friendzone everyone at works assumes we’re a couple – that is until one day, word spreads through the teacher’s lounge that he’s single. Fair game. Suddenly, it’s open season on Ian.

He should be reveling in all the newfound attention, but to our mutual surprise, the only attention he seems to want is mine.

He’s turning our formerly innocent nightly chats into x-rated phone calls. Our playful banter sports a new, dangerous edge.

I want to assume he’s playing a prank on me, just pushing my buttons like always – but when Ian lifts me onto the desk in my classroom and slides his hands up my skirt, he doesn’t leave a lot of room for confusion.

I’m a little scared of things going south, of losing my best friend because I can’t keep my hands to myself. So, I’m just going to back away and not return this earth-shattering kiss – oh who am I kidding?!

Goodbye Ian, ol’ buddy, ol’ pal!

Helloooo mister not so nice guy.

Review:

“His hand wraps around mine so I can’t pull it away, and we might as well be in the 1800s because him touching my hand feels inappropriate and intimate and are there nerves in your hand that connect to your groin?”

If you’ve known me for about five seconds, you’ve figured out that I love anything and everything written by R.S. Grey. And of course, Not So Nice Guy is no exception. At this point, she could write an appliance manual and I’d probably fall in love on the first page and give it five stars. I’ve never known an author who can constantly knock it out of the park with every single book they write, but man am I ever blessed to have found one.

Sam was one of the most relatable characters I’ve read. She was at times shy and insecure and the queen of overthinking. I feel like her freak outs were so on brand to the character that R.S. Grey had developped.

Ian is the perfect man. It’s as simple is that. There never has been or ever will be a man as perfect as Ian Fletcher. He was so sweet and so hot and so sure. He was certain about Sam and who doesn’t want a literal perfect man who is so sure of the future he wants with you? Oh, no one raised their hands? Exactly.

The students, especially Nicholas, had me literally laughing out loud. He was so adorable. The staff members added the perfect amount of humour and one-liners to an already fantastic book, and Ian’s parents were perfect. I loved how much they loved Sam.

“Now we’re wedged together and my thighs are gripping his hips like a pole I’m about to slide down. Firewoman Sam, at your service.”

Every time I start a book by R.S. Grey I think that it’s funniest thing I’ve ever read and nothing can top it. Then I get to a new one, and somehow she does. Every single time her books get funnier and I’d like to take this moment to thank her in advance for the abs I’m going to get solely by laughing at her perfect one-liners. Also she makes top notch references. As someone who grew up watching M*A*S*H, I really appreciated Ian calling Sam ‘Hot Lips.’

The friends-to-lovers plot was amazing. Without spoiling too much, I’m just going to say I adored the way it progressed. It was quick, but at the same time it felt so natural and very in character to Sam and Ian. There was never anything that was out of place or strange in terms of plot and pacing.

Basically, if you are in need of the perfect friends-to-lovers book, then look no further. Not So Nice Guy is exactly what you’re looking for. It was so great it made want to fake sick so I could go home after my lunch break and keep reading (I didn’t of course, but it was so tempting). This is another R.S. Grey book that you desperately need in your life, and I promise, it’s one of her best!

Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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Title: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: Becky Albertalli
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Romance
Source: Purchased

Goodreads
Chapters | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 stars

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Review:

“As a side note, don’t you think everyone should have to come out? Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it should be this big awkward thing whether you’re stright, gay, bi, or whatever. I’m just saying.”

Say hello to my new favourite book. Seriously. There is nothing even slightly average about Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. It was an extraordinary read.

Everything about this book felt so real. Not once did I ever think, “ok no, this would never happen come on.” Simon’s voice was genuine. It was as if he were an honest to god real person, and not just a fictitious character in a book. I felt like I was a part of his life. Or like he was a part of mine. Like he was one of my closest friends for a moment.

The fact that Simon vs. spanned over a few months made Simon and Blue falling for each other more real. They got to know each other on such an emotional level by only corresponding through emails. The anonymous factor forced them to discuss deeper things that weren’t a part of everyday conversation with friends because they didn’t want the other one to find out who they were.

And the reveal. Oh, the reveal. I did figure out who Blue was going to be based on little hints thrown about between the emails and Simon’s everyday life, but I wasn’t disappointed about that. I’m trying my hardest not to spoil anything, so I’ll just say this. Your heart is going to be so full of happiness and you guys aren’t going to be able to handle the first love adorableness. I’m still having trouble because it was just SO DAMN CUTE.

I love minor characters in books. Especially the ones that dish out really good one-liners and/or shed some much needed perspective. And I love to feel like they belong in the book and that they weren’t just some kind of afterthought (as in “oh shit I need to write more than like three people”). Becky Albertalli mastered this. All of the other characters had some kind of role to play. They each had their own important part in Simon’s life to the point where their friendship felt essential to the story.

I think my favourite thing about Simon vs. was that it was just another example of how universal love is. It doesn’t matter what your sexual identity is, love is love. Period. We all get those crazy butterflies, and that feeling of not being able to stop smiling because that other person is just so damn perfect in every way to us. And I mean, we know this already, but I think it’s important to have books like this written for people who still aren’t as accepting. Books that are so simple and yet so powerful all at the same time.

This book was wonderful and you all need to read it, like, now. Right now. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda should be required reading as a human being. It’s just that lovely.

Review: The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris

Title: The Fine Art of Pretending
Author: Rachel Harris
Series: The Fine Art of Pretending, #1
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Purchased

Goodreads
Chapters (for Kobo) | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 stars

According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you’re friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.

With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.

But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.

Review:

Best friends who have been in love for years? Check.
Everyone else around them knows it? Check.
They realize their feelings around the same time but think the other one doesn’t feel the same way so they keep it hidden? Check.
One of them admits their feelings, the other one admits to feeling the same exact thing, and they live happily ever after? Check.
Rachel Harris writing the perfect contemporary novel about those four things listed above? Check.

Aly and Brandon are best friend goals. They have a bunch of inside jokes, they make each other laugh, they aren’t afraid to call the other one out on their crap, and they’ve been there for each other at the best of times and at the worst of times. They have this undeniable chemistry where you think “these two have to be dating, right?” Wrong. But trust me, getting from that point to the point in which they are dating is worth the ride.

There are all of these wonderful characters who help to round out the story so well. Aly and Brandon’s friends, their parents and siblings, and of course, that gorgeous-on-the-outside but kind-of-ugly-on-the-inside mean girl who makes her fair share of attempts to stir up the pot.

Let’s not forget Justin though. No, seriously. We need to take a moment to talk about how wonderful of a character Justin is. I totally loved him as a player, but when his more vulnerable side was brought up to the surface, that’s it, I was done. He’s too perfect and I’m so excited that the second book (The Natural History of Us – coming sometime in 2016) is going to be all about Justin because he deserves his happy ending.

If you want a fluffy, contemporary read that will constantly have you smiling like an idiot, then I highly suggest you pick up a copy of The Fine Art of Pretending right this instant. I promise you, you won’t regret it.

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Title: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass, #1
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Publication Date: August 2, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Goodreads
Chapters | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 stars

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien. The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

Review:

Sarah J. Maas knows how to write a damn good book. I can’t think of one thing I didn’t like. Her writing is flawless. The characters she’s created, the world she’s built, it was all amazing.

The plot moved along at a perfect speed. She didn’t rush through major parts or give us major info dumps about the world or the characters or their pasts that would put us to sleep.

And the characters. Oh my goodness, the personality she’s given Celaena. She’s this wonderful heroine who doesn’t need anyone. She’s strong and quick-witted, and yet still has this great feminine side to her that makes me want to be best friends with her. In fact, all of the characters have distinct personalities that each gives them something important to add to the story.

I really like that this book didn’t solely focus on Celaena. Everyone got little parts where you got to experience what was going on in their minds. It was nice to get small glimpses into how they reacted to and felt about the events occurring in the book and not having Celaena give you her assumption of how they felt. It made the book that much more interesting and fun to read.

I’m glad that Sarah J. Maas didn’t try to cram too much info about Celaena and her past into this book. She left many unanswered questions and five more books for us to find out all those answers in due time. It definitely keeps me wanting more because Celaena is such a complex character with a heavy past and I can’t wait to know all the things that made her into this crazily awesome badass. And those unanswered questions also apply to all of the other characters and the world and how magic works. There’s so many things to find out, I’m so excited.

And now part you’ve all been waiting for: who I ship Celaena with (and some somewhat spoiler-y stuff in case you haven’t read the book) so check under the cut and we can battle it out over who is better for this kick-ass assassin.

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