Review: Reckless Girls

Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pub Date: 1/4/2022

GoodReads Synopsis: When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.

Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.

But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.

When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive.

Review: Reckless Girls is the second book I’ve read from Rachel Hawkins. I loved The Wife Upstairs so I was really looking forward to reading this one. This thriller takes place on a deserted island and explores theme of trust, troubled pasts, and survival. I had mixed feelings about this book. I really loved the trapped on a deserted island vibe, but the ending was so predictable. I was able to guess the twists and predict the ending from the beginning. In my opinion, the pacing was too slow and I felt that things were repeated multiple times. I’m not sure if I had high expectations for this novel since I loved The Wife Upstairs. However, the book did have me turning the pages since I liked the atmosphere. If you like locked room mysteries, you’ll enjoy this one.

3 Thrillers Releasing in 2022 To Add To Your TBR 

Below are three thrillers that are releasing next year! All of these sound fantastic and can’t wait to dive into them. Are any of these on your list?

Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins
Pub: St. Martin’s Press
Pub Date: 1/4/22

GoodReads Synopsis: When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.

Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.

But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.

When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive. 

The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James
Pub: Berkley
Pub Date: 3/15/22

GoodReads Synopsis: In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer Murders: Two men, seemingly randomly, were murdered with the same gun, with strange notes left behind. Beth Greer was the perfect suspect – a rich, eccentric twenty-three-year-old woman, seen fleeing one of the crimes. But she was acquitted, and she retreated to the isolation of her mansion.

Oregon, 2017. Shea Collins is a receptionist, but by night, she runs a true-crime website, the Book of Cold Cases – a passion fueled by the attempted abduction she escaped as a child. When she meets Beth by chance, Shea asks her for an interview. To Shea’s surprise, Beth says yes. They meet regularly at Beth’s mansion, though Shea is never comfortable there. Items move when she’s not looking, and she could swear she’s seen a small girl outside the window.

The allure of learning the truth about the case from the smart, charming Beth is too much to resist, but even as they grow closer, Shea senses something isn’t right. Is she making friends with a manipulative murderer, or are there other dangers lurking in the darkness of the Greer house? 

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth
Pub: St. Martin’s Press
Pub Date: 4/5/22

GoodReads Synopsis: Stephen Aston is getting married again. The only problem is, he’s still married to his first wife, even though she is in a care facility for dementia. But he’ll take care of that easily, by divorcing her–even if his adult daughters protest.

Tully and Rachel Aston look upon Heather as nothing but an interloper. Heather is the same age as Rachel and even younger than Tully. Clearly she’s a golddigger and after their father’s money. Heather has secrets that she’s keeping close, and reasons of her own for wanting to marry Stephen.

With their mother unable to speak for herself, Tully and Rachel are determined to get to the truth about their family’s secrets, the new wife closing in, and who their father really is. But will getting to the truth unleash the most dangerous impulses…in all of them?

2021 Reading Check In: October 

This year has seriously been flying by! With only a couple of months and some days left of 2021, I thought I would do a reading check in to see how my reading this year is going.

Overall, I’m reading way less than I did the previous years which is totally okay with me. One main factor has been raising my pup.

In terms of my goals, I originally had 3 goals. 

1. Continue to enjoy what I read and embrace the mood reader in me!

I think I’ve been pretty good about this one so far! Even though my quantity of books has gone down, I like that I’ve been trying to embrace being a mood reader. Also if I’m not enjoying a book, I DNF or get back to it if I feel like I just can’t read it at the moment.

2. Be more selective and mindful of the books I receive/request that I will be reviewing.

I think I’ve been okay about this, but definitely need to get better about being more selective.

3. Buy less books and use the resources I have to attain books, e.x. library, current book subscriptions I’m actively using.

Oh boy! Over the summer, I did buy a few books beyond my book subscriptions, but overall, I’ve been pretty good at reading books I own and books I receive for subscriptions.

How are your reading goals going? Are you adjusting any of them?

Review: How Stella Learned To Talk

How Stella Learned To Talk by Christina Hunger
Publisher: William Morrow Books
Pub Date: 5/4/2021

Disclaimer: I received a free finished physical copy and audiobook copy of this book from William Morrow Books in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: An incredible, revolutionary true story and surprisingly simple guide to teaching your dog to talk from speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger, who has taught her dog, Stella, to communicate using simple paw-sized buttons associated with different words.

When speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger first came home with her puppy, Stella, it didn’t take long for her to start drawing connections between her job and her new pet. During the day, she worked with toddlers with significant delays in language development and used Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices to help them communicate. At night, she wondered: If dogs can understand words we say to them, shouldn’t they be able to say words to us? Can dogs use AAC to communicate with humans?

Christina decided to put her theory to the test with Stella and started using a paw-sized button programmed with her voice to say the word “outside” when clicked, whenever she took Stella out of the house. A few years later, Stella now has a bank of more than thirty word buttons, and uses them daily either individually or together to create near-complete sentences.

How Stella Learned to Talk is part memoir and part how-to guide. It chronicles the journey Christina and Stella have taken together, from the day they met, to the day Stella “spoke” her first word, and the other breakthroughs they’ve had since. It also reveals the techniques Christina used to teach Stella, broken down into simple stages and actionable steps any dog owner can use to start communicating with their pets.

Filled with conversations that Stella and Christina have had, as well as the attention to developmental detail that only a speech-language pathologist could know, How Stella Learned to Talk will be the indispensable dog book for the new decade.

Review: How Stella Learned To Talk is a true story about speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger teaching her dog, Stella, to communicate using buttons associated with different words. Not only does Christina share her journey with Stella, but she gives us techniques on how we can communicate with our dogs as well. Overall, I really enjoyed this memoir! I’m always trying to find new ways on how to be the best puppy mama to my little one, and I found this book to be extremely helpful! Though I may not go the button route with my puppy, it did make me realize what queues I read from her body language to figure out what she needs from me and how I can help her. I highly recommend this to any dog lovers out there!


Review: Wait for It

Wait for It by Jenn McKinlay
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Pub Date: 8/10/2021

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced digital copy of this book from Berkley Romance in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Stuck in a dreary Boston winter, Annabelle Martin would like nothing more than to run away from her current life. She’s not even thirty years old, twice-divorced, and has just dodged a marriage proposal… from her ex-husband. When she’s offered her dream job as creative director at a cutting-edge graphic design studio in Phoenix, she jumps at the opportunity to start over.

When she arrives in the Valley of the Sun, Annabelle is instantly intrigued by her anonymous landlord. Based on the cranky, handwritten notes Nick Daire leaves her, she assumes he is an old, rich curmudgeon. Annabelle is shocked when she finally meets Nick and discovers that he’s her age and uses a wheelchair. Nick suffered from a stroke a year ago, and while there’s no physical reason for him not to recover, he is struggling to overcome the paralyzing fear that has kept him a prisoner in his own home.

Despite her promise to herself not to get involved, Annabelle finds herself irresistibly drawn to Nick. And soon she wonders if she and Nick might help each other find the courage to embrace life, happiness, and true love.

Review: Wait for It is the first book I’ve read from Jenn McKinlay. This romance novel has the grumpy millionaire/sunshine creative type troupe. I really liked the premise of the story, but I felt like there were too many cliches and unrealistic subplots in the story. One part of the writing style that drew me in was the characters’ complexities and seeing them grow throughout the book. While Annabelle and Nick had great chemistry, I felt that the way the conflict was resolved was too neat and didn’t make a realistic ending. One aspect I really liked was Nick’s character and the aftermath of surviving a stroke. Overall, this was a nice read and it was three stars for me. I’d recommend this one if you love the grumpy/sunshine troupe.

Review: Hook, Line, and Sinker

Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey
Publisher: Avon
Pub Date: 3/1/2022

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced digital copy of this book from Avon in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: King crab fisherman Fox Thornton has a reputation as a sexy, carefree flirt. Everyone knows he’s a guaranteed good time–in bed and out–and that’s exactly how he prefers it. Until he meets Hannah Bellinger. She’s immune to his charm and looks, but she seems to enjoy his… personality? And wants to be friends? Bizarre. But he likes her too much to risk a fling, so platonic pals it is.

Now, Hannah’s in town for work, crashing in Fox’s spare bedroom. She knows he’s a notorious ladies’ man, but they’re definitely just friends. In fact, she’s nursing a hopeless crush on a colleague and Fox is just the person to help with her lackluster love life. Armed with a few tips from Westport’s resident Casanova, Hannah sets out to catch her coworker’s eye… yet the more time she spends with Fox, the more she wants him instead. As the line between friendship and flirtation begins to blur, Hannah can’t deny she loves everything about Fox, but she refuses to be another notch on his bedpost.

Living with his best friend should have been easy. Except now she’s walking around in a towel, sleeping right across the hall, and Fox is fantasizing about waking up next to her for the rest of his life and… and… man overboard! He’s fallen for her, hook, line, and sinker. Helping her flirt with another guy is pure torture, but maybe if Fox can tackle his inner demons and show Hannah he’s all in, she’ll choose him instead?

Review: Hook, Line, and Sinker is the second book in the Bellinger Sister series. This book is the sequel to It Happened One Summer and can’t be read as a standalone. This romance novel is a friends to lovers trope. I loved Hannah and Fox as supporting characters in Piper and Brendon’s love story and was so happy to hear that they were going to have their own book. Overall, I really enjoyed this book! This story is definitely a slow burn and is unlike anything the author has previously written. I really loved the way that Hannah and Fox grow as individuals and also discover their feelings for each other in the novel. Definitely recommend picking this one up if you loved It Happened One Summer!

Review: First Love, Take Two

First Love, Take Two by Sajni Patel
Publisher: Read Forever Pub
Pub Date: 9/21/2021

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of this book from Read Forever Pub in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: On the verge of realizing her dream of being a doctor, Preeti Patel should be ecstatic. But between the stress of her residency, trying to find a job, and managing her traditional, no-boundaries family, Preeti’s anxiety is through the roof. Relationships and love aren’t even an option. Fortunately, Preeti’s finally found a new place to stay . . . only to discover that her new roommate is her ex.

Preeti never quite got over Daniel Thompson. Super-hot, plenty of swagger, amazing cook—the guy is practically perfect. And if it weren’t for their families, there might have been a happily ever after. But it’s hard to keep her sanity and libido in check when the man of her dreams is sleeping mere feet away. Can Preeti and Daniel find a way to stand up and fight for each other one last time . . . before they lose their second chance?

Review: First Love, Take Two is the second book in The Trouble With Hating You series. This romance book explores second chance romance, anxiety, interracial relationships, social pressure from community, and friendship. I appreciated that the author had a note in the beginning expressing that the story contains heavy and sensitive subjects including mental health and racism. Overall, I liked reading this one. I’m usually not a fan of second chance romances, but the chemistry between Preeti and Daniel is clearly shown in the pages. One of my favorite aspects of the book is that the author doesn’t hold back. She shows the good, the bad, the ugly. The book shows the social and cultural conflicts that the older and younger generations have against each other. Personally, I loved The Trouble With Hating You more, but this is such a strong sequel. I would recommend picking this up, but keep in mind of the author’s note before you do.  

Review: The Charm Offensive

The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun
Publisher: Atria Books
Pub Date: 9/7/2021

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced digital copy of this book from Atria Books in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.

Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.

As Dev fights to get Charlie to connect with the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.

Review: The Charm Offensive is a LGBTQ+ romance novel that explores behind the scenes on a dating reality show similar to The Bachelor, mental health effects, friendships, and finding identity. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this one! I could definitely see this become a movie or a limited TV series. I really loved the diverse representation and various sexual identities in this book. It’s definitely a combination of One to Watch and Red, White & Royal Blue. Definitely recommend picking this one up if you love romance books!

5 Romance Books Paired With Taylor Swift Songs

What better way to celebrate romance awareness month than to match some of my recent romance reads with Taylor Swift songs? Hope you enjoy these pairings!

So We Meet Again by Suzanne Park
The Man – Taylor Swift
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall
London Boy – Taylor Swift
Happiness for Beginners by Katherline Center
Out of the Woods – Taylor Swift
The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon
End Game – Taylor Swift
The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
Delicate – Taylor Swift

Review: The Dating Playbook

The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon
Publisher: Read Forever Pub
Pub Date: 8/17/2021

Disclaimer: I received a free finished copy of this book from Read Forever Pub in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: When it comes to personal training, Taylor Powell kicks serious butt. Unfortunately, her bills are piling up, rent is due, and the money situation is dire. Taylor needs more than the support of her new best friends, Samiah and London. She needs a miracle.

And Jamar Dixon might just be it. The oh-so-fine former footballer wants back into the NFL, and he wants Taylor to train him. There’s just one catch—no one can know what they’re doing. But when they’re accidentally outed as a couple, Taylor’s game plan is turned completely upside down. Is Jamar just playing to win . . . or is he playing for keeps?

Review: The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon is the second book in the The Boyfriend Project series. This romance novel features Taylor and Jamar, contains a fake dating troupe, explores the NFL world, and sets place in Austin. Overall, this was a cute read! I enjoyed Taylor and Jamar’s banter and their sexual tension. I also loved that Samiah and London are still supporting characters and love the way the author writes about strong female friendship. I can’t wait for London’s love story to release next year!