Monday, June 29, 2020

Book Review: You Were There Too by Colleen Oakley

You Were There Too
By: Colleen Oakley 
Published: January 7, 2020
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Audible Purchase
Mia Graydon's life looks picket-fence perfect; she has the house, her loving husband, and dreams of starting a family. But she has other dreams too — unexplained, recurring ones starring the same man. Still, she doesn’t think much of them, until a relocation to small-town Pennsylvania brings her face to face with the stranger she has been dreaming about for years. And this man harbors a jaw-dropping secret of his own—he's been dreaming of her too. 

Determined to understand, Mia and this not-so-stranger search for answers. But when diving into their pasts begins to unravel her life in the present, Mia emerges with a single question—what if? 

Acclaimed author Colleen Oakley delivers a heart-wrenching and unforgettable love story about a woman who must choose between the man she loves and the man fate has chosen for her in a novel that reminds us that the best life is one led by the heart.


My Thoughts:

Mia and Harrison have a good marriage. They love each other, but like any couple they have their ups and downs. Mia wants a baby more than anything, but has known great pain after suffering two miscarriages. These two move from the big city to a small town where Harrison is a doctor, and Mia is trying be successful with her paintings.  Mia has had vivid and reoccurring dreams of a man she doesn't know. Imagine her shock, when she sees this man in real life.  His name is Oliver, and fate keeps bringing him into her life.  Mia can't believe it when Oliver confesses that he's been dreaming of her too.  What could be the reason for their mutual dreaming of one another?

You Were There Too was a novel with a unique and intriguing premise.  It started out a little slow, but took off once Oliver entered the picture.  I enjoyed the mystery behind the dreams, and trying to guess their purpose.  I loved the way the author kept me on my toes, and gave me a thoroughly unpredictable ending.  Things did not turn out the way I thought they would.  The ending broke my heart and had me in tears, but also offered an open-ended ray of hope.  I have never read a story like this, and really enjoy when an author can deliver something that I've never seen done before. I found it refreshing, creative, and original.

This story tugged on my emotions, and was done in an authentic, and very realistic manner.  This was my book club's pick for June, and I am so glad that I discovered and read this book through them.  If you are fascinated by dreams, and are looking for an original and unique storyline, that is unpredictable, I recommend you check out, You Were There Too; but fair warning, have tissues nearby!

About the Author:

Colleen Oakley’s novels have been named best books by People Magazine, Us Weekly, Library Journal, and Real Simple, and both were long-listed for the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize. Formerly the editor-in-chief of Women’s Health & Fitness and senior editor of Marie Claire, her articles and essays have been featured in The New York Times, Ladies’ Home Journal, Women’s Health, Redbook, Parade, Marie Claire and Martha Stewart Weddings. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, four kids and the world's biggest lapdog, Bailey. Her fourth novel THE INVISIBLE HUSBAND OF FRICK ISLAND will be published by Berkley/Penguin in summer 2021.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Book Review: Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

Take a Hint, Dani Brown
By: Talia Hibbert
Release Date: June 23, 2020
Publisher: Avon Books
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Source: eARC from the publisher in exchange for a honest review
Book Summary:

Talia Hibbert returns with another charming romantic comedy about a young woman who agrees to fake date her friend after a video of him “rescuing” her from their office building goes viral... 

Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom. 

When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse? 

Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his... um, thighs. 

Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?


My Thoughts:

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert brought old fashioned romance and swooning to a modern day love story.  Danika Brown is an independent, intelligent, strong, fierce, scholar and professor.  She is an intellectual who thrives on her career, and this is her top priority.  Dani doesn't think she is cut out for romance, as it doesn't come natural to her, and her past relationships have ended in disaster.  She wishes for a partner where she can have a purely physical relationship without any romantic or emotional entanglements.

Zafir works as a security guard at the same university where Dani teaches.  They are friends that bring each other breakfast, have fun exchanging pleasantries, and think highly of one another.  Underneath their friendship is a sizzling chemistry that they both have never addressed.  When Zafir rescues Dani during a practice fire drill, and carries her out of the building, their image with the romantic and adoring way they are looking at each other, goes viral with the #DrRugbae.

This is when Dani learns that Zafir use to be a professional rugby player, and has started his own sports charity where he teaches rugby as well as positive mental health strategies to adolescents.  He asks Dani if she will participate in a fake relationship with him, as the publicity of them going viral has already started helping his charity exponentially.  She agrees, because what would be the harm in helping her good friend with a great cause; and she can might be able to convince Zaf to indulge in a fun friends with benefits arrangement while they're at it...

I loved the characters in this story!  Dani was unconventional, brilliant, fun, quirky, and endearing.  She had challenges with tapping into her emotions, but in no way did this take away from my love of her character.  She was kind hearted, and thoughtful.  I enjoyed her interactions with her sisters Chloe and Eve, as well as her best friend Sorcha.  They were such a tight-knit group, and I felt like they were my friends too.  The characters felt real, because they were so wonderfully flawed and human.

Zaf stole my heart!  I adored him.  He was so sweet, kind, and romantic.  The way he treated Dani took my breath away.  He was a modern day "prince charming."  I was shipping #DrRugbae from the very beginning of this story.  It was clear that Dani and Zaf were meant to be, and I enjoyed every moment of their love story!

If you are looking for a story that will entertain, delight, and make you feel like you are falling in love right beside the characters, check out, Take a Hint, Dani  Brown!

About the Author:

Talia Hibbert is a USA Today bestselliing author who lives in a bedroom full of books. Supposedly, there is a world beyond that room, but she has yet to drum up enough interest to investigate. She writes sexy, diverse romance because she believes that people of marginalised identities need honest and positive representation. Her interests include beauty, junk food, and unnecessary sarcasm. She also rambles intermittently about the romance genre online. Talia self-publishes via Nixon House and is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan at Handspun Literary.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Book Review: The Marriage Game by Sara Desai

The Marriage Game
By: Sara Desai
Release Date: June 9, 2020
Publisher: Berkley
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Source: eARC from the publisher in exchange for a honest review
Book Summary:

A high stakes wager pits an aspiring entrepreneur against a ruthless CEO in this sexy romantic comedy. 

After her life falls apart, recruitment consultant Layla Patel returns home to her family in San Francisco. But in the eyes of her father, who runs a Michelin starred restaurant, she can do no wrong. He would do anything to see her smile again. With the best intentions in mind, he offers her the office upstairs to start her new business and creates a profile on an online dating site to find her a man. She doesn’t know he’s arranged a series of blind dates until the first one comes knocking on her door… 

As CEO of a corporate downsizing company Sam Mehta is more used to conflict than calm. In search of a quiet new office, he finds the perfect space above a cozy Indian restaurant that smells like home. But when communication goes awry, he's forced to share his space with the owner's beautiful yet infuriating daughter Layla, her crazy family, and a parade of hopeful suitors, all of whom threaten to disrupt his carefully ordered life.  
As they face off in close quarters, the sarcasm and sparks fly. But when the battle for the office becomes a battle of the heart, Sam and Layla have to decide if this is love or just a game.

My Thoughts:

The Marriage Game was a fun, sexy, and sizzling rom-com! I love venturing in to stories that immerse me in another culture, delectable cuisine, a large close, boisterous, and entertaining family, and of course a romance where the individuals know how to exchange witty, sarcastic, lively, and snarky banter as a form of verbal foreplay! 

Layla Patel leaves the big apple, and returns to San Francisco, when things don't work out with her boyfriend and her job. Her father promises her the upstairs office, as she aspires to get her new business up and running. However, before he knew that she was coming home, he had already promised the office to Sam Mehta. Unbeknownst to Layla, her father had set up ten blind dates for his daughter, because he wanted her to be happy. Love hasn't worked out for her thus far, so she doesn't see the harm in arranged meetings. 

Now Layla and Sam have struck a deal. Sam will help her vet her dates, and if he can assist her in making a promising match, he can have the office to himself. If he isn't successful in this endeavor, then Layla will get to have the office to herself; and so the Marriage Game begins... 

I loved the whole "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," feel when it came to all of Layla's interfering, but well-intentioned "aunties." Layla and Sam were opposites in many ways. Layla was fun, warm, loyal, impulsive, passionate, and liked to fly by the seat of her pants. She had curves, which gave her a more realistic and relatable feel. Sam was quiet, conservative, and a lot more rigid in his behavior and thinking. He was very loyal to his family, especially younger sister, Nisha. He had a lot of guilt for feeling like he had not protected her, and therefore, he kept everyone at arms length, and didn't think he deserved happiness. As much as Layla drove him crazy, as he did her, the attraction these two had for one another, began to grow in to something more! 

In The Marriage Game, we got sparks, heat, laughs, and a whole lot of fun, in a story that is sure to entertain! 

About the Author:

Sara Desai has been a lawyer, radio DJ, marathon runner, historian, bouncer and librarian. She lives on Vancouver Island with her husband, kids and an assortment of forest creatures who think they are pets. Sara writes sexy romantic comedy and contemporary romance with a multicultural twist. When not laughing at her own jokes, Sara can be found eating nachos. Visit Sara at

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday (128)

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories
The Folk of the Air Series
By: Holly Black
Release Date: November 24, 2020
Publisher: Little Brown Books

Book Synopsis:

An illustrated addition to the New York Times bestselling Folk of Air trilogy, that started with The Cruel Prince, from award-winning author Holly Black. 

An irresistible return to the captivating world of Elfhame. 

Once upon a time, there was a boy with a wicked tongue. 

Before he was a cruel prince or a wicked king, he was a faerie child with a heart of stone . #1 New York Times bestselling author, Holly Black reveals a deeper look into the dramatic life of Elfhame’s enigmatic high king, Cardan. This tale includes delicious details of life before The Cruel Prince, an adventure beyond The Queen of Nothing, and familiar moments from The Folk of the Air trilogy, told wholly from Cardan’s perspective. 

This new installment in the Folk of the Air series is a return to the heart-racing romance, danger, humor, and drama that enchanted readers everywhere. Each chapter is paired with lavish and luminous full-color art, making this the perfect collector’s item to be enjoyed by both new audiences and old.

Why I'm Eagerly Waiting:

I love beautiful books, and I can just imagine the beauty and whimsy that will be crafted for this illustrated guide!  I have enjoyed this series immensely, and am looking for any excuse to dive right back in to this enchanting, adventurous, and magical world!

What are you waiting on?

Monday, June 15, 2020

Book Review: Rage and Ruin by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Rage and Ruin
By: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Release Date: June 9, 2020
Publisher: Inkyard Press
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Source: A finished copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review
Book Summary:

Dangerous secrets and forbidden desires lead to shocking consequences… Don’t miss book two of the fantastical Harbinger trilogy from #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout.

“Jennifer L. Armentrout’s intoxicating new fantasy is her best yet!” —New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter on Storm and Fury

Half-angel Trinity and her bonded gargoyle protector, Zayne, have been working with demons to stop the apocalypse while avoiding falling in love. The Harbinger is coming…but who or what is it? All of humankind may fall if Trinity and Zayne can’t win the race against time as dark forces gather.

As tensions rise, they must stay close together and patrol the DC streets at night, seeking signs of the Harbinger, an entity that is killing Wardens and demons with no seeming rhyme or reason. Forbidden to be with each other, Zayne and Trinity fight their feelings and turn to unusual sources for help—the demon Roth and his cohorts. But as deaths pile up and they uncover a sinister plot involving the local high school and endangering someone dear to Zayne, Trin realizes she is being led…herded…played for some unknown end. As anger builds and feelings spiral out of control, it becomes clear that rage may be the ruin of them all.

My Thoughts:

Rage in Ruin is the sequel to Storm and Fury, the second book in The Harbinger Series; a spinoff of The Dark Elements Trilogy! With every book she writes, Jennifer L. Armentrout cements my love for her storytelling. She has a way of completely pulling a reader in to a story. She evokes so much passion, emotion, excitement, and entertainment with her gift. I always feel like I become a part of her stories, as they completely consume me and take on a life of their own. 

Rage and Ruin was phenomenal! Zayne and Trinity are in an interesting predicament. They are forbidden to be with one another. So as they live, train, and hunt for the Harbinger together, they must constantly resist the temptation of their mutual growing attraction and feelings for one another.

I loved getting a different side of Zayne in this book. While I loved him in The Dark Elements Trilogy, I thought he lacked the same palpable passion that Roth had for Layla, which is what made me Team Roth in that series. While Zayne is a nice guy, and a fierce protector, I enjoyed seeing so much more passion and carnality to his character in this book. I loved watching him lose control of himself, as he become more passionate about Trinity! The way she pushed his buttons, and these two played off of one another had me giddy! Zayne was sweet and gently, but also passionate, seductive, and protective. Trinity was so strong, brave, independent, and loyal. She had a never quit attitude, and didn't want to rely on others. 

Zayne and Trinity had such a passionate and emotional love story! I cried and felt so many raw emotions when reading this installment. To top it off, I got an exciting plot full of surprises, twists, and action. Add in a cast of magnificent supporting characters, and you have a five star read! Roth and Peanut both kept me entertained, and laughing! Roth's loyalty, and devotion to have his friends back continues to make him a favorite character of mine.

I'd be doing a disservice if I didn't mention the epic ending to this installment. JLA put me through the wringer with non-stop action, crazy surprises and twists, as well as breaking my heart in two, as I cried my eyes out, and then offering more surprises, and a starburst of shock and hope! Now, we know who the Harbinger is, and one thing is for certain, the stakes are higher than ever! I can't wait to see how everything plays out in the final book, and in the meantime, I'm emotionally exhausted, and left reeling from the best kind of book hangover, which is the mark of having read an exceptional story!

About the Author:

# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki. Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. 

Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV. She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins. 

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Book Review: The Summer Deal (Wildstone #5) by Jill Shalvis

The Summer Deal
Wildstone #5
By: Jill Shalvis
Release Date: June 2, 2020
Publisher: William Morrow
Add to Goodreads
Source: eARC from the publisher in exchange for a honest review
Book Summary:

From New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis comes a friends-to-frenemies-to-sisters story… And then add in a love story (okay, two love stories). Shake. Stir. Read on a lazy summer day at the beach. 

Brynn Turner desperately wishes she had it together, but her personal life is like a ping-pong match that’s left her scared and hurt after so many attempts to get it right. In search of a place to lick her wounds and get a fresh start, she heads back home to Wildstone. 

And then there’s Kinsey Davis, who after battling serious health issues her entire twenty-nine years of life, is tired of hoping for . . . well, anything. She's fierce, tough, and pretty much the opposite of Brynn except for one thing: they're half-sisters. Kinsey is keeping this bombshell, and a few others as well. Long time frenemies from summer camp, there’s no way she’s going to tell Brynn they’re related. 

But then Brynn runs into Kinsey's lifelong best friend, Eli, renewing a childhood crush. He’s still easy-going and funny and sexy as hell. When he gets her to agree to a summer-time deal to trust him to do right by her, no matter what, she never dreams it’ll result in finding a piece of herself she didn’t even know was missing. She could have a sister, love, and a future―if she can only learn to let go of the past. 

As the long days of summer wind down, the three of them must discover if forgiveness is enough to grasp the unconditional love that’s right in front of them.

My Thoughts:

The Summer Deal was such a great read!  Jill Shalvis is a master storyteller, and every time I read a story of hers, I'm reminded of why I love her books so much.  Her characters are real, relatable, and likable!

We get the stories of Brynn Turner and Kinsey Davis.  The story toggles between the past (in diary entries,) and the present, in which we learn these two attended the same summer camp every year, and did not get along.  

Brynn leaves Long Beach for Wildstone when things go south with her boyfriend.  She needs a new start, and to have the support and love of her nurturing mothers, Olive and Raina.  However, she doesn't want to live with them, and prefers to have her own space.  Unfortunately, rent in Wildstone is too high for this substitute kindergarten school teacher.  So when Eli,  (her adolescent crush,) offers her a room for rent at a reasonable price in his home, she accepts.  What she doesn't realize is that Eli had a huge crush on her too, and is excited to have her back in Wildstone.  Bryn becomes upset when she learns that Kinsey is one of his roommates, and even though she decides she's going to back out of the arrangement, they convince her to stay.  

Eli and Kinsey have been best friends since they were young, and bonded over having families that abandoned them.  Eli wants to bring Brynn and Kinsey together, because he knows an important secret.  So Eli, his fun-loving half-brother Max, Brynn, and Kinsey all end up becoming roommates.

Kinsey is very sick.  She has Kidney Disease, and unfortunately transplant rejection has been a problem for her. She has a friends with benefits arrangement with Deck, a single father and nurse at the dialysis center.  Kinsey insists on keeping everyone she cares about at arms length, because she has resigned herself to death, and doesn't want to hurt anyone.  

The Summer Deal was a fantastic read!  I loved getting to know sweet, sensitive, quirky Brynn.  Kinsey was a character with many layers,  At times she could appear cold, but she had suffered so much since a young age, and we realize she is trying to protect herself, as much as she's trying to protect those around her.   Eli and Deck were both wonderful love interests that had me swooning!  They were patient, kind, caring, and compassionate.  They had their work cut out for them with Brynn, (who had major trust issues,) and Kinsey. 

I loved so much about this story!  I loved how realistic the main characters were.  Jill Shalvis brought them to life, and they felt so real to me, that they could have walked right off of the page.  They were flawed, like any person is, but had so many great qualities to them as well.  Brynn's mothers and Kindergartner’s charmed me, made me smile, and laugh.  My heart broke for the individual hurt and pain they all suffered along their unique journeys.  I was rooting the whole way through for Brynn and Kinsey to make peace with one another, and get close.  I was holding my breath hoping that Brynn and Kinsey would take a chance on love, and was ecstatic when Ms. Shalvis delivered the perfect ending!

Purchase At:

About the Author:

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website,, for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.