Review: Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins

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Title: Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things
Author: Jacqueline Firkins
Series: Standalone
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: December 17, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review

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Rating: 3 stars

Mansfield, Massachusetts is the last place seventeen-year-old Edie Price wants to spend her final summer before college. It’s the home of wealthy suburbanites and prima donnas like Edie’s cousins, who are determined to distract her from her mother’s death with cute boys and Cinderella-style makeovers. Edie has her own plans, and they don’t include a prince charming.

But as Edie dives into schoolwork and applying for college scholarships, she finds herself drawn to two Mansfield boys who start vying for her attention. First there’s Sebastian, Edie’s childhood friend and first love. He’s sweet and smart and . . . already has a girlfriend. Then there’s Henry, the local bad boy and all-around player. He’s totally off limits, even if his kisses are chemically addictive.

Both boys are trouble. Edie can’t help but get caught between them. Someone’s heart is going to break. Now she just has to make sure it isn’t hers.

Review:

I wanted to love this book so badly. It sounded like the exact kind of cute contemporary that would have me shouting from the rooftops for everyone to pick this up. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

My main issue with this book were the characters. There was not a single female character worth rooting for. They were all so catty and mean and had zero concept of what a relationship/commitment was. The moment someone would look at their man they’d turn into a cast member of Mean Girls but god forbid they knew how to be faithful in their own relationship or not drag some poor soul along. Think Anna & the French Kiss but kick that up a few notches. Contemporaries are generally very character driven, so when it’s hard to like anyone, it’s pretty difficult to enjoy the novel as a whole.

The only things I really enjoyed was the writing and the lexicon entries. I thought both of those things were super creative and the creativity that shone through with some of the jokes/disses kept me reading. Yes, I couldn’t stand the female characters, but I won’t deny some of the crappy things they said were creative. I sure as hell wouldn’t be able to be that clever when I’m upset about something.

Overall, this book was just of all over the place for me. I wanted to love it, I really did. But I just couldn’t get past how much I disliked every single female character is a character-driven book.

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About Jacqueline Firkins:

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Jacqueline’s a writer, costume designer, and lover of beautiful things. She’s on the fulltime faculty in the Department of Theatre & Film at the University of British Columbia where she also takes any writing class they’ll let her into. When not obsessing about where to put the buttons or the commas, she can be found running by the ocean, eating excessive amounts of gluten, listening to earnest love songs, and pretending her dog understands every word she says.

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Review: Gifted by Ainsley St Claire

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Title: Gifted
Author: Ainsley St Claire
Series: Clear Security Holiday #1
Publisher: Loisir Publishing
Publication Date: November 18, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Holiday Romance
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review

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Rating: 3 stars

How do things fall apart so easily?

Kate:

As a former teacher, my mission is to keep the disadvantaged youth of our city engaged with school. My non-profit has been wildly successful with the kids, but now I’m forty mentors short for the Christmas season. It didn’t look like we would be able to find enough help, until Jim Adelson got involved. He may have solved my mentor problem, but he’s created another: I can’t concentrate with this panty melting God around.

Jim:

The community has been good to me. I’d built my successful security business with hard work and determination, and when I got approached to help Kate Monroe’s non-profit, it seemed a fitting way to give back. I’d offer to spend time with some kids, but it’s Kate that I find myself wanting to spend time with. With beauty obvious to everyone, and a compassionate heart she wears on her sleeve, she has me reevaluating my priorities.

When the children’s Christmas gifts go missing, Jim and Kate are forced together in the hunt.

Can true love fight through the drama to find a happy ending?

Review:

Gifted was cute for what it was. A short, holiday romance with a good message. It demonstrates the importance of giving back to our community and all that can be done to aide those in need and how our good actions can truly have a positive impact on those around us.

I know this book was incredibly short and a holiday romance, so I walked right into this, but I wasn’t expecting the insta-love to be that quick or sweet. I blinked and suddenly Jim and Kate were head-over-heels, I’d-take-a-bullet-for-you in love with each other.

With the story itself, everything was a little to perfect. The friends were all over the top kind and everything worked itself out without much of an issue. Even the ending was abrupt.

Overall, if you’re looking for a quick holiday romance read (under 175 pages) to get you in the Christmas spirit, you could pick this one up and easily read it in a day.

About Ainsley St Claire:

Ainsley St Claire is a Romantic Suspense Author and Adventurer on a lifelong mission to craft sultry storylines and steamy love scenes that captivate her readers. To date, she is best known for her series Venture Capitalists.

An avid reader since the age of four, Ainsley’s love of books knew no genre. After reading, came her love of writing, fully immersing herself in the colorful, impassioned world of contemporary romance.

Ainsley’s passion immediately shifted to a vocation when during a night of terrible insomnia, her first book came to her. Ultimately, this is what inspired her to take that next big stop. The moment she wrote her first story, the rest was history.

Currently, Ainsley is in the midst of writing a nine-book series called “Venture Capitalist.”

When she isn’t being a bookworm or typing away her next story on her computer, Ainsley enjoys spending quality time with her loved ones. She is happily married to her amazing soulmate and is a proud mother of two rambunctious boys. She is also a scotch aficionada and lover of good food (especially melt-in-your-mouth, velvety chocolate). Outside of books, family, and food, Ainsley is a professional sports spectator and an equally as terrible golfer and tennis player.

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Review: Bad for You by Taylor Holloway

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Title: Bad for You
Author: Taylor Holloway
Series: Lone Star Lovers #9
Publisher: Self-Published by Taylor Holloway
Publication Date: October 2, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review

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Rating: 5 stars

The boy next door.
Star of my teenage fantasies.
My tormentor.

After serving as an army doctor in some of the most dangerous places on Earth, Brandon has finally come home. And he’s brought his cocky, alpha attitude and rugged good looks with him. To my hospital. He’s still a loose cannon and I’m right in his sights.

But instead of begging for him to stop, this good girl is having to stop herself from begging for more.
I thought I put my obsession with this moody bad boy to bed.
It now appears that’s right where he wants me.

I’ve always made good choices.
But this time I’m worried I’ll pick the one that’s bad for me, even if Brandon feels oh so right.

Review:

Wow. That’s the first word that comes to mind when I think of Bad for You. Just… wow.

Enemies-to-lovers is pretty high up on the list of tropes I love. It usually leads to crazy intense sexual tension and a lot of sass and snark, which makes my heart very happy. I am pleased to inform you that Taylor Holloway did not disappoint. In fact, she exceeded my expectations (and I was expecting a lot).

This book starts off with a bang right from the prologue. It tugs at your heart and makes you feel for Aimee and Brandon because of the awful circumstances of their childhoods. You get a vivid picture of how their hate for each other started, and let’s be real. Aimee has every reason to hate Brandon.

One of the best parts about Bad for You was the pacing. The last thing you’re going to find is insta-love. It takes place over quite an extended period of time and because of that the romance that develops between Aimee and Brandon feels much more believable and real. It allows you to be fully immersed in the story and all of the events that take place.

Speaking of events taking place, oh boy. For a contemporary romance, there were so many twists and turns and I loved every second of it. It reminded me of Grey’s Anatomy in the early days and I am here for that. Somehow everything just seemed to fit into the story perfectly and it had my on the edge of my seat needing to know what was going to happen next.

Taylor Holloway is an incredible writer and I can’t wait to pick up the other novels in her Lone Star Lovers series. Her ability to write swoon-worthy romance while also tugging at your emotions is off the charts amazing and I highly suggest you grab a copy of Bad for You immediately.

About Taylor Holloway:

Taylor Holloway is a bestselling romance author who writes sweet and sexy stories with just enough of an edge to offset all the feels. Her books are specifically Taylor-ed to make you blush, cry, laugh, ans swoon. She’s an Austin native with a penchant for bad puns, strong margaritas, expensive shoes, and shiny things. When she’s not writing, she’s working a hilariously bland corporate job, spoiling her husband and cat, or going for long walks in the dark.

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Review: How the Light Gets In by Katy Upperman – Blog Tour + Giveaway

TOUR BANNER

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Title: How the Light Gets In
Author: Katy Upperman
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review on this blog tour

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Rating: 3 stars

Since her sister’s tragic death, seventeen-year-old Callie Ryan has basically given up. Her grades have plummeted, she’s quit her swim team, and she barely recognizes the people her parents have become.

When she returns to her aunt’s run-down coastal Victorian one year after Chloe’s death, Callie resigns herself to a summer of guilt and home renovations. She doesn’t expect to be charmed by the tiny coastal town or by Tucker Morgan, a local boy brimming with sunshine.

But even as her days begin to brighten, Callie’s nights are crowded with chilling dreams, unanswered questions, and eerie phenomenon that have her convinced she’s being haunted. Will Callie be able to figure out what her sister is trying to communicate before it’s too late?

Review:

I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting going into this, but I know it wasn’t what I read.

Throughout the novel I never connected to Callie or any of the other characters. It doesn’t take a lot for me to get emotionally invested, but for some reason that never occurred with this book. No one seemed captivating enough to gather my attention long enough for me to care about what would happen to them.

I wasn’t expecting the ghost aspect of the story to be as prominent as it was. Of course because of the synopsis, it was going to be present, but it was a lot and didn’t really do much for me as a reader. Maybe that is one of the reasons I never seemed to care for any of the characters, especially Callie.

The one thing I did find intriguing was the mystery surrounding Stewart house and the old, hidden away items that Callie found while working on the house. That story captured my attention instantly and I was looking forward to the moments when we would be able to learn more about the past inhabitants of Stewart House and Bell Cove.

Overall this book was just ok for me. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible either. I was never invested with any of the characters or their stories and come my end of the year wrap up, I probably won’t remember much.

Giveaway:

Prize: Win (1) copy of HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN by Katy Upperman and some swag (INT)

Starts: August 12th 2019
Finishes: August 26th 2019

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Check out the other lovely people participating in the tour here

About Katy Upperman:

author

Katy’s debut novel, Kissing Max Holden, was published August 1, 2017, and her sophomore effort, The Impossibility of Us, released July 31, 2018. Her third novel, How the Light Gets In, will be out August 6, 2019. All three books are with Swoon Reads/Macmillan. She’s represented by Victoria Marini of the Irene Goodman Agency.

 

 

 

 

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DNF Review: All Roads Lead to You by Jennifer Probst

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Title: All Roads Lead to You
Author: Jennifer Probst
Series: Stay #3
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publication Date: July 23, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review

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Rating: DNF, but if I had to give it a star rating, 2 stars

Happily single, Harper Bishop trusts in only one passion—her rescue farm and healing her thoroughbred, Phoenix. Her dream is to lead him to the Triple Crown. But how unreachable is it without experience or help? A handsome new guest at her family’s B&B has what it takes to make it come true. And with his irresistible brogue, warm smile, and soothing touch, he’s a major distraction.

After a bitter betrayal, horse trainer Aidan O’Connor has fled Ireland for a vacation in New York’s Hudson Valley. When he sees the horse with the fighting spirit, he’s inspired with a new goal: to train Phoenix to win. He’s also facing an unexpected new challenge: his feelings for Harper.

How can she dare to open her heart to a man who’ll be there only long enough to break it?

So Harper and Aidan agree: try to keep it professional, and focus only on Phoenix and the finish line. But along the way, they could also learn a few lessons in love, trust, and taking chances. And, as painful as it promises to be, saying goodbye.

Review:

I really didn’t want to DNF this. I really, really didn’t.

I had read the second book in the series, A Brand New Ending, which was about Ophelia, and I loved it. If I remember correctly, I rated it 4 stars. So of course, when I saw that Harper’s story was coming out, I jumped at the chance to be able to review it. Turns out I didn’t exactly like it. And I feel bad about it.

Jennifer Probst is an excellent writer. She really knows how to write a romance that is so full of emotion and sexual tension all at once. Which is why I’d give it 2 stars if I had to instead of the usual 1 star reserved for a DNF.

The reason I couldn’t finish this was because of the characters. I didn’t connect with Harper or Aidan at all. To be honest, I found them both boring. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get through the book. I stopped about a third of the way through, a little after page 100 (which I think is a decent try).

When Jennifer Probst releases a new book, I’ll gladly pick it up. Like I said, she’s a fantastic romance writer, and I really enjoyed a previous book of hers. Unfortunately, this one didn’t do it for me. Nothing bad to say, it just wasn’t my style.

About Jennifer Probst:

Jennifer Probst

Jennifer Probst wrote her first book at twelve years old. She bound it in a folder, read it to her classmates, and hasn’t stopped writing since. She holds a masters in English Literature and lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley in upstate New York. Her family keeps her active, stressed, joyous, and sad her house will never be truly clean. Her passions include horse racing, Scrabble, rescue dogs, Italian food, and wine—not necessarily in that order.

She is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of sexy and erotic contemporary romance. She was thrilled her book, The Marriage Bargain, spent 26 weeks on the New York Times. Her work has been translated in over a dozen countries, sold over a million copies, and was dubbed a “romance phenom” by Kirkus Reviews. She is also a proud three-time RITA finalist.

She loves hearing from readers. Visit her website for updates on new releases and her street team at www.jenniferprobst.com.

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