Review: What You Wish For

What You Wish For by Katherine Center
Publication: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: 7/14/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Samantha Casey loves everything about her job as an elementary school librarian on the sunny, historic island of Galveston, Texas—the goofy kids, the stately Victorian building, the butterfly garden. But when the school suddenly loses its beloved principal, it turns out his replacement will be none other than Duncan Carpenter—a former, unrequited crush of Sam’s from many years before.

When Duncan shows up as her new boss, though, he’s nothing like the sweet teacher she once swooned over. He’s become stiff, and humorless, and obsessed with school safety. Now, with Duncan determined to destroy everything Sam loves about her school in the name of security—and turn it into nothing short of a prison—Sam has to stand up for everyone she cares about before the school that’s become her home is gone for good.

Review: What You Wish For is a heartwarming and uplifting novel that reminds us to choose joy through the most difficult times we experience. Overall, I had mixed feelings about this book. I really loved the timely message that this book showcases and it provides a great escape. The storyline was intriguing as well, but I felt like the writing was more reflective than present. There were a few instances where I wish we could have seen flashbacks to see the differences in Duncan’s personality from the present rather than being told of the memory from Sam. I found Sam’s character to be a bit too naive and childish for someone who should be in her late 20s. However, I did like how we got to see how Duncan’s character developed through the story. The one thing I was expecting to see was the slow build of chemistry and emotion connection between the main characters. It seemed to be there, but felt like it was too rushed at the end to be savored. Though I had mixed feelings about this book, I’d still recommend checking this out if you’re a fan of Katherine Center.

Rating: 3/5

Review: One To Watch

One To Watch by Kate Stayman-London
Publication: Random House
Publication Date: 7/8/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Bea Schumacher is a devastatingly stylish plus-size fashion blogger who has amazing friends, a devoted family, legions of Insta followers–and a massively broken heart. Like the rest of America, Bea indulges in her weekly obsession: the hit reality show Main Squeeze. The fantasy dates! The kiss-off rejections! The surprising amount of guys named Chad! But Bea is sick and tired of the lack of body diversity on the show. Since when is being a size zero a prerequisite for getting engaged on television?

Just when Bea has sworn off dating altogether, she gets an intriguing call: Main Squeeze wants her to be its next star, surrounded by men vying for her affections. Bea agrees, on one condition–under no circumstances will she actually fall in love. She’s in this to supercharge her career, subvert harmful anti-fat beauty standards, inspire women across America, and get a free hot air balloon ride. That’s it.

But when the cameras start rolling, Bea realizes things are more complicated than she anticipated. She’s in a whirlwind of sumptuous couture, Internet culture wars, sexy suitors, and an opportunity (or two, or five) to find messy, real-life love in the midst of a made-for-TV fairy tale. In this joyful, razor-sharp debut, Bea has to decide whether it might just be worth trusting these men–and herself–for a chance to live happily ever after.

Review: One To Watch is Kate Stayman-London’s debut novel. Overall, I thought this was a cute read! I loved the writing style of this – slacks, articles, blog posts, texts, and regular writhing in between it all. The story definitely felt like I was binge watching a reality dating show. The author touched upon topics such as body image and social expectations in such way that tied into story effectively. There were a few times where I felt Bea was a bit too whiny, but I was able to overlook that. If you love binging on romance reads and watching reality dating shows, then I definitely recommend picking this one up!

Rating: 4/5

Review: Home Before Dark

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
Publication: Dutton Books
Publication Date: 6/30/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: What was it like? Living in that house.

Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.

Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.

Review: Riley Sager is one of my favorite thriller writers and I was excited to receive an advanced copy of his latest thriller releasing this summer! Overall, I thought this was a good read! It’s not my favorite of his four, but it was a solid story. I liked the alternating perspectives of Maggie and her father’s, Ewan, book. It definitely gave a wholistic view. I’m not into supernatural elements in stories, however, I felt that Riley Sager executed this well and I loved the unexpected twists and turns. I enjoyed the second half of the book more than the first part. The beginning is a slow burn trying to set up the story. If you loved The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell and The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James or if you’re already a Riley Sager fan, this is a must read!

Rating: 4/5

Review: Take A Hint, Dani Brown

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: 6/23/2020

Disclaimer: I won an advanced reader copy of this book from GoodReads courtesy by Avon Books. This has no effect on my opinion, review or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: 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?

Review: This is the second book in The Brown Sisters series and could be read as a stand alone book. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and definitely loved this one more than Get a Life, Chloe Brown. Not only is there a diverse set of characters, but I really liked that each of the characters in this book stand their own ground. Talia Hibbert incorporates the importance of mental health and work life balance in such a relatable yet funny way way in her book. I highly recommend picking this one up if you love contemporary romance! I can’t wait for Eve’s story next!

Rating: 4/5

Review: Recipe For Persuasion (The Rajes #2)

Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev 
Publication: William Morrow
Publication Date: 5/26/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Chef Ashna Raje desperately needs a new strategy. How else can she save her beloved restaurant and prove to her estranged, overachieving mother that she isn’t a complete screw up? When she’s asked to join the cast of Cooking with the Stars, the latest hit reality show teaming chefs with celebrities, it seems like just the leap of faith she needs to put her restaurant back on the map. She’s a chef, what’s the worst that could happen? 

Rico Silva, that’s what.  

Being paired with a celebrity who was her first love, the man who ghosted her at the worst possible time in her life, only proves what Ashna has always believed: leaps of faith are a recipe for disaster. 
FIFA winning soccer star Rico Silva isn’t too happy to be paired up with Ashna either. Losing Ashna years ago almost destroyed him. The only silver lining to this bizarre situation is that he can finally prove to Ashna that he’s definitely over her. 

But when their catastrophic first meeting goes viral, social media becomes obsessed with their chemistry. The competition on the show is fierce…and so is the simmering desire between Ashna and Rico.  Every minute they spend together rekindles feelings that pull them toward their disastrous past. Will letting go again be another recipe for heartbreak—or a recipe for persuasion…? 

Review: Recipe For Persuasion is the second book in The Rajes series. This can be read as a stand alone so you don’t need to read Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors (the first book) beforehand. Overall, I liked this book better than the first one. I thought that the plot was intriguing and the characters were deeply complex. However, I did feel that the story did drag out a bit. Ashna and Rico’s chemistry seemed more like tell than show where the story keeps saying they are deeply in love, but it never really shows why they’re still in love with each other after all this time. I wasn’t a big fan of Ashna’s mother Shobi even though I understand that she’s an integral character in book. Though the book was very well written and I was rooting for the characters, I felt like I was waiting for the characters to get their stuff together despite their troubled pasts. This contemporary romance is not lighthearted by any means. If you do decide to read this book, be forewarned that there are quite a few triggers which I’m surprised that this wasn’t put in the beginning of the book. Trigger warnings include suicide, alcoholism, rape, anxiety, and death of a parent.

Rating: 3/5

Review: The Trouble With Hating You

The Trouble With Hating You by Sajni Patel 
Publication: Read Forever
Publication Date: 5/12/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Liya Thakkar is a successful biochemical engineer, takeout enthusiast, and happily single woman. The moment she realizes her parents’ latest dinner party is a setup with the man they want her to marry, she’s out the back door in a flash. Imagine her surprise when the same guy shows up at her office a week later — the new lawyer hired to save her struggling company. What’s not surprising: he’s not too thrilled to see her either after that humiliating fiasco.

Jay Shah looks good on paper…and off. Especially if you like that whole gorgeous, charming lawyer-in-a-good-suit thing. He’s also arrogant and infuriating. As their witty office banter turns into late night chats, Liya starts to think he might be the one man who truly accepts her. But falling for each other means exposing their painful pasts. Will Liya keep running, or will she finally give love a real chance?

Review: What a phenomenal debut! I’m so glad I took my time devouring this book. I’m extremely picky with my romance books, but this one was amazing and deserves all the stars. When I first started this book, I was unsure of how I felt about Liya and her behavior. At first, I was really put off with it and couldn’t stand why she was so rude to the point where she crossed the line on more than one occasion, but as I read on, I further understood why and everything fell into place. My favorite characters were Jay’s mom and Liya’s supportive and strong female friends. I loved how strong, and different each of Liya’s friends were. They were also fiercely loyal and extremely sweet. I loved that Jay’s mom always leveled with Jay and was very respectful as well. My favorite part of the book was the strong ending. I loved that it was realistic but also very sweet. Lastly, I admired that the author was able to delve into heavy topics (sexual assault and death of a loved one) in the storyline in such an eloquent way. I also appreciated that she put a trigger warning in the beginning of her book. I highly recommend picking this one up. Now I can’t wait for Preeti’s story next!

Rating: 5/5

Review: A Good Marriage

A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight
Publication: Harper
Publication Date: 5/5/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Lizzie Kitsakis is working late when she gets the call. Grueling hours are standard at elite law firms like Young & Crane, but they’d be easier to swallow if Lizzie was there voluntarily. Until recently, she’d been a happily underpaid federal prosecutor. That job and her brilliant, devoted husband Sam—she had everything she’d ever wanted. And then, suddenly, it all fell apart.

No. That’s a lie. It wasn’t sudden, was it? Long ago the cracks in Lizzie’s marriage had started to show. She was just good at averting her eyes.

The last thing Lizzie needs right now is a call from an inmate at Rikers asking for help—even if Zach Grayson is an old friend. But Zach is desperate: his wife, Amanda, has been found dead at the bottom of the stairs in their Brooklyn brownstone. And Zach’s the primary suspect.

As Lizzie is drawn into the dark heart of idyllic Park Slope, she learns that Zach and Amanda weren’t what they seemed—and that their friends, a close-knit group of fellow parents at the exclusive Grace Hall private school, might be protecting troubling secrets of their own. In the end, she’s left wondering not only whether her own marriage can be saved, but what it means to have a good marriage in the first place.

Review: A Good Marriage is the first book I’ve read from Kimberly McCreight. I was initially hooked to the storyline for the first quarter of the book. Towards the middle, I felt that the book was dragging on and not much was happening. However, I did like the three different perspectives – Lizzie was my favorite. Without giving to much away, I felt that the side characters weren’t fully developed. Towards the last quarter of the book, that’s when the unexpected twists came into play. I definitely didn’t expect the ending which made the book worth reading. If you like legal thrillers and domestic suspense, then this may be up your alley.

Rating: 3/5

Review: Girl Gone Viral

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai
Publication: Avon Books  
Publication Date: 4/21/20

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

NetGalley Synopsis: In Alisha Rai’s second novel in her Modern Love series, a reclusive investor goes viral, shoving her into the world’s spotlight—and into the arms of the bodyguard she’s been pining for…

OMG! Wouldn’t it be adorable if he’s her soulmate???

I don’t see any wedding rings

Breaking: #CafeBae and #CuteCafeGirl went to the bathroom AT THE SAME TIME!!!

One minute, Katrina King’s enjoying an innocent conversation with a random guy at a coffee shop; the next, a stranger has live-tweeted the entire encounter with a romantic meet-cute spin and #CafeBae has the world swooning. Going viral isn’t easy for anyone, but Katrina has painstakingly built a private world for herself, far from her traumatic past. Besides, everyone has it all wrong…that #CafeBae bro? He isn’t the man she’s hungry for.

He’s got a to die for.

With the internet on the hunt for the identity of #CuteCafeGirl, Jas Singh, bodyguard and possessor of the most beautiful eyebrows Katrina’s ever seen, offers his family’s farm as a refuge. Alone with her unrequited crush feels like a recipe for hopeless longing, but Katrina craves the escape. She’s resigned to being just friends with Jas–until they share a single electrifying kiss. Now she can’t help but wonder if her crush may not be so unrequited after all…

Review: Girl Gone Viral is the second installment of Modern Love series and the fifth book I’ve read from Alisha Rai. I have to say this may be my all-time favorite Alisha Rai novel to date! I adored the main characters. I love that Alisha continues to use a diverse set of characters in her contemporary romance novels. Beyond that, she brings deeply complex characters with different backgrounds and brings them together seamlessly. It’s also a delight to see characters from her previous books appear as well. I devoured this book in about two days! I really liked that Alisha shed light on the importance of mental health, PTSD, and when to ask for help. I can’t wait for her third book in the series to come out and I’m hoping it will be about Jia’s story! If you liked The Right Swipe or contemporary romance in general, I highly recommend picking up this novel!

Rating: 4/5

Review: Darling Rose Gold

Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel
Publication: Berkley
Publication Date: 3/17/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold.

Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar.

After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes.

Patty insists all she wants is to reconcile their differences. She says she’s forgiven Rose Gold for turning her in and testifying against her. But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty Watts always settles a score.

Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling…

And she’s waited such a long time for her mother to come home. 

Review: This is the first book I’ve read from Stephanie Wrobel and definitely won’t be the last! This thriller is fast paced from the get go filled with unlikable characters. I liked the unreliable narrators and the alternating perspectives from Rose Gold and her mother, Patty. They have such a messed up relationship that it was interesting to see the past versus the presence and how they got to where they were. If you’re a fan of psychological thrillers, I highly recommend picking this one up!

Rating: 4/5 

Review: The Boyfriend Project

The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon
Publication: Forever
Publication Date: 6/9/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: USA Today bestselling author Farrah Rochon launches a new series about three young women who become friends when the live Tweeting of a disastrous date leads them to discover they’ve all been duped by the same man.

Samiah Brooks never thought she would be “that” girl. But a live tweet of a horrific date just revealed the painful truth: she’s been catfished by a three-timing jerk of a boyfriend. Suddenly Samiah-along with his two other “girlfriends,” London and Taylor-have gone viral online. Now the three new besties are making a pact to spend the next six months investing in themselves. No men, no dating, and no worrying about their relationship status . . .

For once Samiah is putting herself first, and that includes finally developing the app she’s always dreamed of creating. Which is the exact moment she meets the deliciously sexy, honey-eyed Daniel Collins at work. What are the chances? When it comes to love, there’s no such thing as a coincidence. But is Daniel really boyfriend material or is he maybe just a little too good to be true?

Review: This is my first time reading Farrah Rochon’s books. The Boyfriend Project is a start of a new series that takes place in Austin, Texas. This contemporary romance explores viral catfishing, successful females in tech, female empowerment, and friendship. What stood out to me the most in this book was the strong female friendships. I loved that the author expresses how important this is and how the book shows all the women to be strong and independent thinkers, but also shows their vulnerabilities. Daniel was also a great male counterpart to Samiah. I loved that the characters had dimension and tackled obstructions that seemed to be believable. Though I loved the characters and the plot line, I did feel that the story dragged on a little bit and the dialogue felt a little stilted at times. However, I am looking forward to the rest of the books in this series. If you love romance and are looking for something similar to Jasmine Guillory, I’d recommend checking out this one!

Rating: 4/5