Thinks You Save In A Fire by Katherine Center

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official blurb

Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s excellent at dealing with other people’s tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to uproot her life and move to Boston, it’s an emergency of a kind Cassie never anticipated. The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie’s old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren’t exactly thrilled to have a “lady” on the crew, even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the handsome rookie, who doesn’t seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can’t think about that. Because she doesn’t fall in love. And because of the advice her old captain gave her: don’t date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping…but will she jeopardize her place in a career where she’s worked so hard to be taken seriously?

my blurb!

A woman who has built her life on independence and being one of the guys, has to make the decision if being herself fits into either of those categories.

I received this copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for my review which does not have to be favorable.

*Reader beware: this book deals with rape*

3.25 out of 5

what i didn't like

The majority of the book the reader is aware of a shady “relationship” between Cassie and another man, but no details are given (which I appreciated). But in the last 1/8 or so of the book, the event is described (it’s not in extreme detail, but it is described). I personally steer VERY clear of this type of storyline, and had I known this was going to be a plot in this book I probably would not have picked it up. All in all, that is a negative for me, but nothing described was nightmare inducing, and it was written well overall.
Another thing I didn’t love… There is an issue with a fellow firefighter that endangers the life of another person. As a reader, we see how Cassie reacts, but we don’t see enough of how the other person affected reacts. This seemed like a missed opportunity to me.
There wasn’t enough dialogue in this book for me. I craved more of it.
Regarding Cassie’s mom’s health…. I think as a reader, I was supposed to be surprised about something. I wasn’t surprised. I mean, I do watch a lot of Masterpiece Mystery shows on the BBC so maybe I’m unwittingly channeling Sherlock. Or maybe that was predictable.
This book felt long. I can’t describe that another way, other than I asked myself if it was going to be over soon, just to look down at the percent completed and realize “nope, only 65% done.” And I’m not sure this book was actually long, it just felt like that at times.
I don’t believe in love at first sight. Attraction? Of Course. Lust? For sure. Love? No way. This book had a case of love-at-first-sight’s and the majority of the book did feature a love story. I read the whole book and I didn’t finish it and think to myself… wow they really love each other.

what i liked

Wow that was a LONG list of things I didn’t like! I bet you’re wondering if there is anything I DID like in this book. Don’t worry, there was! A 3 star rating for me is by no means a dud! Consider this a thorough review!
There are some great quotes in this book. I felt like I was constantly highlighting quotes to come back to later! (In my initial draft of this review I wrote down no less than three quotes from this book- but then I remembered this was an ARC and I can’t include quotes in my review! but TRUST me, her writing is AMAZING!)
This book talks a lot about forgiveness. Katherine Center has an uncanny ability to capture an unbelievable degree of realism in her books. Maybe not every plot line, but she’ll describe something so accurately that you’ll begin to wonder what struggles she’s experienced in life to make her so acutely aware of the words needed to describe them! And then you realize that perhaps she hasn’t at all and she’s simply an amazing author. In The Bright Side Of Disaster, she captures everything from a birth plan to life as a new mom. In How To Walk Away she captures the ache of being in a hospital and the truth about hopelessness in your health. In this book, it’s the real steps it takes to forgive, and the reality of what it looks like to cope in life without forgiving. You can live a perfectly reasonable life without forgiveness, but a much more full one with it. I think that was the message in this book and it was well received.
Another BIG pro (I can’t emphasize that enough) in this book is the women’s issues it tackles. Cassie is a woman doing a job that is almost exclusively male. She sees the pros and cons of being a girl and doesn’t have a chip on her shoulder when proving why she is amazing at her job. Her attitude throughout the book is so stellar – because she assumes positive intent from her coworkers. Cassie mentions at one point that she was trying to recalibrate her coworkers idea of what it meant to be female. I loved that thought.

Overall I’m not sure if I should classify this book as a romance novel or a fiction novel- truth be told, those genres overlap a lot more than people are willing to admit. This book wasn’t crazy steamy or anything (it’s no Winston Brothers), but there is romance involved!

while reading you should

Act: make sure your house is up to date with Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors and that the batteries all work.
Listen: Moonlight Kiss by Bap Kennedy
Watch: How to Deal (Mandy Moore at her finest!)

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The Bright Side of Disaster by Katherine Center

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official blurb
Jenny Harris always expected that she’d fall in love, get married, and have a baby–in that order. Now, very pregnant and not quite married, she actually doesn’t mind that she and her live-in fiancé, Dean, accidentally started their family a little earlier than planned; she’s happy to have so much to look forward to. But Dean–whom Jenny loves enough to overlook his bad facial hair, his smoking habit, and his total commitment to a cheesy cover band–is acting distant, and not in a pre-wedding-jitters kind of way. The night he runs out for cigarettes and just doesn’t come back, he demotes himself from future husband to sperm donor. And the very next day, Jenny goes into labor. In the months that follow, Jenny plunges into a life she never anticipated: single motherhood. At least with the sleep deprivation, sore boobs, and fits of crying (both hers and the baby’s), there’s not much time to dwell on her broken heart. And things start looking up. She learns how to do everything one-handed, makes friends in a mommy group, and even manages to give dating tips to her sweet, clueless father–who’s trying to court her sassy mother again, fifteen years after their divorce. She also gets to know a handsome, helpful neighbor–with a knack for soothing babies–who invites her out dancing. But Dean is never far from Jenny’s thoughts or, it turns out, her doorstep, and in the end Jenny must choose between the old life she thought she wanted and the new life she’s been lucky to find.

my blurb!
A girl with zero instincts for making good decisions learns how to try to make better ones in the wake of being a new mom.

3.25 out of 5

When I finished How To Walk Away, I knew I was gonna need to go out and read all of Katherine Center’s books.  This book did not live up to the love I had for How to Walk Away, but it was still well written and a good read.

what i liked
I loved Jenny’s mom. She was consistent and supportive.  (Btw, these two words should always describe moms but rarely are!)  She was logical and helpful.  She was a survivor from heartbreak. She was great!
I loved Gardner- our friendly neighbor.  I would’ve loved more from (and about) Gardner actually!
My favorite part about the book was how INSANELY realistically it painted the picture of the pressures moms put on themselves.  Even pregnant- Jenny really struggled with her birth plan changing- and how much to stick up for herself and her birth plan (that is SO real, you guys! So real!).  Then post birth- omg did she capture the struggle of breastfeeding, of not wanting to leave your baby, of having zero sleep, of eating almost nothing. I mean, wow! Katherine Center captured this phase of life SO well.  It was actually sometimes hard to read because it was so realistic!

what i didn't like
Do you remember that book I read a while ago, Matchmaking for Beginners? People had a really big problem with Marnie and how stupid she was to continually let her dirtbag of a fiancé walk all over her?  But I said- it wasn’t crazy annoying but somewhat annoying?  Well in this book- Jenny was SO unbelievably annoying. I could not take her poor decision making skills.  I’m not going to write any spoilers but wow. So. Annoying.
My major problem with the book is that I liked Gardner- Jenny’s neighbor- more than I liked Jenny.
Also Jenny had a brand new cat that her mom was CRAZY allergic to. Her mom. Who came over to help her. Every. Single. Day. And she never attempted to find a different solution- other than having her mom take benadryl.  I’m an animal person. I am also a human person.  This was so insane to me.  Jenny has friends! Ask if anyone would want the cat!!!

while reading you should
Do: plan and have a garage sale.  You know you have the stuff to sell… we all do!
Eat: casserole.  Any kind really. They all taste the same…. delicious!
Listen to: Salsa music

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The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

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official blurb
A long, hot summer… That’s what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy’s father. But sometimes, unexpected things can happen—things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister’s project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl’s world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to question her sheltered life.

my blurb!
A girl who is in search of perfection finds her perfect life doesn’t look exactly like she planned.

5 out of 5

 

what i liked
This is required reading for YA fans! (Here’s my list of amazing YA books).
Let me start with the elephant in the room.  Before I met my husband I was in love with someone else.  I have never gotten over him and still think of him often.  That’s right, I am talking about my first fictional boyfriend, Wes.  And he lives in the pages of The Truth About Forever.  Now before you go on and on saying that you also loved Wes, let me tell you that our love is good and it is true- so don’t go trying to make it anything other than that with your false tales of your swooning heart!  Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, you can see why Wes is the first thing mentioned under things that I liked in this book.
This is a reread. To be truthful, I reread this book every year.  Every. Year. Since it was published. I told you my love for Wes was real!  So to be clear, this was published in 2004. I’m pretty certain I read it back to back when I got it, so that brings my total to 15 times read!  I guess you could say I like this book.
Sarah Dessen came out with a gauntlet of perfect YA books in the early 2000s.  And don’t let this whole “YA” tag fool you.  She writes heavy topics that also happen to have swoon worthy love stories in them.
In this book, Macy is trying to cope with life after her dad died.  Dessen does an amazing job of giving you all of the feels of loss, and the repercussions of choosing the way you’re going to mourn. Macy is a crazy flawed character. She is insecure and wants total control.  She never speaks her own voice and she hides in other people’s shadows.  And she is somehow so likable.
Macy and her mom have so many realistic interactions that it is sometimes stressful to read.  Me being me, I wanted all Wes scenes all day long.  The worst part about this book is going from being with the fictional love of my life, directly into the next scene of a crappy interaction with Macy’s mom! I found myself saying, “I don’t care about your mom damn it! I want Wes!”  And then the librarian would graciously ask me to lower my voice and refrain from using curse words while watching my kids play at the library.
Have I ranted on and on about this book enough to convince you to read it? No… okay here comes my second wind.
Just kidding.  Go get this book!

Ps. You can order a personalized book from Sarah Dessen here.  I personally would like a dedication stating that she acknowledges that I am Wes’ true love but that she felt she couldn’t write about our nonfiction love so she wrote Macy instead. That’s reasonable, right?

when to read
This is a great summer read!  But since it is required reading- pick it up any time!

while reading you should
Listen to my “The Truth About Forever Mini Playlist:”
-Summertime romance by Johnnyswim
-Something Stupid by Michael Bublé ft Reese Witherspoon
– Catching Feelings by Justin Bieber
-I Run To You by Lady Antebellum

Picture the following actors as the characters in this book:
Wes: Bob Morley, Shawn Mendes, Liam Hemsworth, Logan Lerman
Macy’s mom: Lauren Graham, Julia Roberts,
Macy: Dakota Fanning, Lily Collins, Emma Watson
Kristy: (way younger) Kirsten Dunst, Jennifer Lawrence
Monica: Taylor Momsen, Carly Chaikin
Jason: Michael Welch, Freddie Highmore, Lucas Till
Bert: Jack O’connell, Taron Egerton

Eat: Meatballs
Do: Go for a Run
Watch: A news special on Armageddon

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Dating – ish (Knitting in the City #6) by Penny Reid

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official blurb
There are three things you need to know about Marie Harris:  1) She’s fed up with online dating,  2) She’s so fed up, she’s willing to forego the annoyance and consider more creative alternatives, and  3) She knows how to knit. After the most bizarre and irritating first date in the history of human kind, Marie is looking for an alternative to men. With the help of her friends, she quickly identifies a few possibilities: Need a cuddle? Use a professional cuddler. Need affirmation? Get yourself a life coach. Need an orgasm? Try orgasm meditation! Why does she need the hassle of a romantic partner when she can meet all her needs with paid services? But then her irritating date resurfaces. And he’s not at all the person she thought he was. And he suggests a different—and crazier—solution to her dilemma . . . As everyone knows (or will soon come to realize), traditional relations between humans are a thing of the past. Robots are our future. And if robots are our future, then why do we need other people at all?

my blurb!
The story of a super cool girl and a smartypants guy, who decide to use each other for professional gain but but end up gaining something else in the end.

3.25 out of 5

what i liked
I really liked Marie!  Can you tell by now that I ALWAYS like the Penny Reid heroine?  She is motivated and kind, she sticks up for herself and is loyal.  What’s not to like?
This book was a really cute romcom…. BUT it was too steamy.  So if you don’t mind a steamy romance- you’ll like this romcom.
I liked the topic that this book focused on- writing an article or solving a scientific problem of the perks of a relationship without being in one. (Sidenote- I JUST watched a new hallmark movie called Mingle All The Way that also tried to tackle this topic!)

what i didn't like
It’s too steamy!!! I have to skim a lot of parts in a Penny Reid book but I keep coming back to her. I know… why?!  Because I love her writing and her characters but I don’t love her steam! It’s too much!
The ending I didn’t love. I won’t give anything away… but the last scene.  Nope… wasn’t into it.
This was the 6th book in a series- and somehow my library has this book and only this book in the series.  They are each stand alone books but I found a lot of recaps in this book that I knew were big plot points in other books.  It didn’t flow very well.

while reading you should
Do: Read a newspaper- while you’re at it, get me a subscription bc my free local one just went out of business 😦
Make: coconut cake
Listen: Turning the Page by Sleeping At Last

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One Day In December by Josie Silver

 

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official blurb
Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story. Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away. Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be. What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

my blurb!
A love triangle and its consequences experienced over a 10 year span.

3.25 out of 5

what i liked
First of all, I know that this is an unpopular opinion. The majority of reviews I have seen range from 4 stars to 5 stars.  This book ALMOST got a flat 3 stars but I did read it really quickly so I feel like that needs to count for something.
The writing in this book is amazing.  I loved it, it’s kind of conversational in tone and I would definitely pick up another Josie Silver book without even thinking about it.
Starting just after page 100, Laurie takes a trip to Thailand.  Fun fact, I taught English for a summer in Thailand and I loved it.  The descriptions and the phrases she uses took me right back there.  This was a BIG highlight for me because the Thai people were amazing and I had such an extraordinary experience with them, that I just adored reading about another Thailand fangirl in the pages of this book!
After my second night reading this book (probably like pages 100-200ish) I had a good idea who the characters were going to end up with.  This might be a negative for some people but the first 100 pages of the book stressed me out so much that this was actually a big plus for me.
There were some really good quotes in this book that I liked.  Here are a few for you to sample:
“This isn’t romance by the numbers, it’s real life.”
“I don’t know if love should feel like that, you know? …making an effort to be someone ever so slightly different from who we really are.”
If these quotes don’t show you already- this isn’t a light and fluffy read that I find a lot of people describing it as.  It is funny, but I would call this a romance drama.

what i didn't like
The love triangle! Oh My Gosh.  I HATE love triangles.  Some people might have a different opinion of love triangles… oh ya, I don’t care because this is my review!  haha
There is lying to perpetuate the love triangle in the first 100 pages and … It. Is. Stressful.  I read the first 100 pages the first night and I didn’t even want to pick the book up the next day because I was so stressed about the darn love triangle!  That might be a severe reaction for most people- but this book is well written so you like all of the people in it, and you can’t help but be annoyed that someone is gonna get the rug pulled out from under them when the resolution finally takes place.
The ending.  I did not like the ending.  I thought… wait what?  I was shocked there wasn’t an epilogue.  Maybe there is going to be a second book? A novella? I haven’t seen any news so… this is a big strike in the negative column for me.
There were some plot points in this book that I needed answers to. One specifically involving a character named Oscar. But no spoilers here… if you read it… come talk to me!
My biggest dislike in this book was that a lot of this book was painful for me. A plethora of bad decisions or life choices and 10 years of seeing the consequences of those choices.  Ugh. My heart hurt sometimes reading it!

while reading you should
Listen to this mini playlist:
-3 Wishes by Dave Thomas Junior
-In My Arms by Johnnyswim
-Can’t Help Falling In Love by Kina Granis
-Stronger Than Me by the Cast of Nashville
-What I Know by Parachute
-Villains by Johnnyswim
-Ho Hey by Lennon and Maisy

Drink- alcohol.  It doesn’t matter what kind. This book will drive you drinking. I’m joking.  The characters drink a lot in the book. haha, that’s why I chose this option.
Watch: Bridget Jones’s Diary

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Snow In Love by Various Authors

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official blurb
What’s better than one deliciously cozy, swoon-worthy holiday story? Four of them, from some of today’s bestselling authors. From KASIE WEST, a snowy road trip takes an unexpected detour when secrets and crushes are revealed. From AIMEE FRIEDMAN, a Hanukkah miracle may just happen when a Jewish girl working as a department store elf finds love. From MELISSA DE LA CRUZ, Christmas Eve gets a plot twist when a high school couple exchange surprising presents. From NIC STONE, a scavenger hunt amid the holiday crowds at an airport turns totally romantic. So grab a mug of hot cocoa, snuggle up, and get ready to fall in love…

my blurb!
A book of four short stories by different authors all involving the holiday season.

2.25

what i liked
Don’t let this rating confuse you too much when I start raving about this story.  The rating is an average of all of the stories and one story was AMAZING and cute.  Who wrote that one you ask? Well, Kasie West of course!  You may know by now that I have a small crush on Kasie West and her writing.  I mean the woman is a cute writing book machine.  She did not disappoint me with this story.  I read it so quickly and have thought of it a few times since.  Hers was the first story in the book titles- Snow and Mistletoe.  It was predictable in the best way possible (you know, in the Hallmark Channel amazingness kind of way?)

what i didn't like
Stories 2-4 didn’t fair as well in my humble reading opinion.  The second story was called Working in a Winter Wonderland.  I wrote down a few notes while I read this story and they went something along the lines of “will this story ever end?!”  Keep in mind that this is a short story.  I know, telling right? haha.  Some other thoughts when reading the story went something like, “I already know who she is and is not going to end up with!”  So this story was also predictable but not in a Hallmark amazingness kind of way.  Also our protagonist in this story was SUPER annoying.
The third story was called The Magi’s Gifts.  This story also featured a protagonist who I didn’t like at all.  In fact I disliked her.  I know, I know – I need to start pulling my punches.  This story was ALSO predictable in a bad way. (Is it possible that people tend to just write super predictable stories when it comes to the holidays?)
The last story in the book was called Grounded.  I didn’t even finish this story.  At this point in the book I started to wonder why I was suffering through stories- whether they were short or not- that I wasn’t immediately loving.

So here’s the full breakdown of my ratings:
Snow & Mistletoe : 5 Stars
Working in a Winter Wonderland : 1 out of 5 stars
The Magi’s Gifts:  2 out of 5 stars
Grounded:  1 out of 5 stars

The truth of the matter is, that I rarely like anthologies.  I would pick this book up and solely read Kasie West’s story and then return the book to the library.  Her story really was super cute.

while reading you should
Read: Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell (this is a 5 star short story book!)
Listen to: Little Drummer Boy by For King and Country
Do: Something to make your life easier over the holidays. (No one notices that you bought the cookie frosting instead of making it from scratch.  Oh, maybe that one was actually just speaking to myself)

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Christmas by accident by Cameron wright

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official blurb
Carter is an insurance adjuster whose longing for creative expression spills over sometimes into his accident reports. Abby works for her adoptive father, Uncle Mannie, in the family bookstore, the ReadMore Café. Carter barely tolerates Christmas; Abby loves it. She can’t wait past October to build her favorite display, the annual Christmas book tree stack, which Carter despises. When an automobile accident throws Carter and Abby together, Uncle Mannie, who is harboring secrets of his own, sees a chance for lasting happiness for his little girl. But there are so many hurdles, and not much time left. Will this Christmas deliver the miracle everyone is hoping for? Where love and Christmas are concerned, there are no accidents.

my blurb!
A book about a guy who decides to write a Christmas book for money.

1 out of 5

what i didn't like
Wow. This book was awful.  It was one of the most boring books I have ever read! I don’t think I would’ve even read it as long as I did if I wouldn’t have brought it on vacation with me. Why is it that holiday themed books rarely deliver?
A big part of the plot in this book was about a guy named Carter who thought Christmas books were so poorly written but still sold, so he was going to exploit that and write one himself. This felt like the actual real life reason as to why Wright even wrote this book.
I decided to abandon this book 153 pages into it. The book is only 225 pages long so I could have easily finished it. But why? It wasn’t very good and there are too many good books out there to waste my time on the bad ones!
About the point in the book when I stopped reading, the characters realized they were falling in love with each other. This was an eye-opening moment to me when I realized I didn’t even care if they ended up together because I had no attachment to them whatsoever.

Skip this book and save yourself the bore.  (Too harsh?  Well, did I mention this book was boring and basically sucked the fun of reading a Christmas book out of the world? …Okay I may have a flair for the dramatic.  But seriously. Read any other Christmas book please).

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