The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory (The Wedding Date #3)

the wedding party

 

official blurb
Maddie and Theo have two things in common: 1. Alexa is their best friend 2. They hate each other. After an “Oops, we made a mistake” kiss, neither one can stop thinking about the other. With Alexa’s wedding rapidly approaching, Maddie and Theo both share bridal party responsibilities that require more interaction with each other than they’re comfortable with. Underneath the sharp barbs they toss at each other is a simmering attraction that won’t fade. It builds until they find themselves sneaking off together to release some tension when Alexa isn’t looking. But as with any engagement with a nemesis, there are unspoken rules that must be abided by. First and foremost, don’t fall in love.

my blurb!
An enemies to lovers romance featuring some old favorite characters from The Wedding Date and The Proposal.

4 out of 5                                                            🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

what i liked
Do you know one of my favorite things about reading romance novels?  I love when I find myself smil-reading.  You know, just randomly sitting in a public place with a smile on my face because I’m enjoying the book/dialogue so much? In this particular book, I found myself smile reading easily by chapter two.  Suffice to say I was very much excited to read the rest of the book!
One of my favorite quotes in the book? “That was an excellent engagement present. He’d only brought champagne and general anxiety.”  Haha!  Made you smile read, huh?
I read this book really quickly and enjoyed every minute of it.  It was basically a sequel to The Wedding Date (even though The Proposal was the book sandwiched in between these two) because there was so much character overlap between the two books. The timeline between all three books overlapped a lot, and it made it all really fun to read!

Ready for me to break down the steam level?  It did get up to a 3 steam level- not all of the book was at this level- some of the sex scenes feature closed-door sex scenes.  But it should be noted that it did go up to a three at some point in the book.

what i didn't like
Full disclosure I skimmed a few scenes at work bc I wanted to read their relationship so badly!  For this reason I couldn’t give it five stars – it’s good that I was invested and wanted to move forward but bad that I could skim a few sections and really not miss out on anything in the book.

while reading you should
Do: discover what makes you an old soul. (For me it’s DVRing jeopardy.  Don’t judge!)
Eat: homemade guacamole
Drink: your favorite mixed drink!

Ps. If you love this series- keep your eyes peeled for Royal Holiday (book #4 for this series!) coming out October 1!

arc review

DuxSignature smallercopy

Neanderthal Seeks Human (Knitting in the City #1) by Penny Reid

knitting 1

official blurb
There are three things you need to know about Janie Morris: 1) She is incapable of engaging in a conversation without volunteering TMTI (Too Much Trivial Information), especially when she is unnerved, 2) No one unnerves her more than Quinn Sullivan, and 3) She doesn’t know how to knit. After losing her boyfriend, apartment, and job in the same day, Janie Morris can’t help wondering what new torment fate has in store.  To her utter mortification, Quinn Sullivan—aka Sir McHotpants—witnesses it all then keeps turning up like a pair of shoes you lust after but can’t afford. The last thing she expects is for Quinn to make her an offer she can’t refuse.

my blurb!
A girl with a talent for random facts and lacking some social cues falls for a mysterious guy dubbed Sir McHotpants.

4.5 out of 5

                                                            🔥 out of 5 steam level

Wow did I miss reading Penny Reid books! I think this is my last free month of Kindle unlimited and I haven’t decided if I’m going to pay for the subscription or not but this month the entire knitting in the city series by Penny Reid is free on Kindle unlimited! Do you guys remember how much I loved the Winston Brothers series? I actually loved them more than my ratings even show you, because I’ve missed hanging out with that family! so, I should probably go back and move up the ratings for that series!

This book featured another dynamic leading woman! It wasn’t overtly mentioned that she was on the spectrum but her characteristics were that of having a photographic memory, reciting a lot of facts in social situations, and being oblivious to people’s intentions in social situations. She was incredibly likable, self-deprecating, smart, beautiful and earnest!
I loved the main guy in it as well (Quinn)! He was a bad communicator but I was rooting for him nonetheless…. which is very rare for me when it comes to poor communication. I also loved his name- you know how I am about names in books- they’re not always good!
Similar to the Winston Brothers series this book had a bit of crime drama involved as well. Not really a spoiler but the women saved themselves and I loved that aspect!
Okay let’s get down to the steam! Penny Reid has always written really high-steam novels (from the books that I’ve read of hers so far) it’s one of the reasons the Winston Brothers series wasn’t all five stars for me because the steam level was too high. This book was such low steam! There was plenty of kissing and you knew that they were sleeping together but you didn’t experience it at all. There was a “closed door” to all of the bedroom scenes and I was shocked! So for all of you romance lovers looking for a follow-up to the unHoneymooners for a low steam, check this book out!
I should also mention that I read this in its entirety in one night, staying up till about 2 in the morning and I have no regrets.

what i didn't like
There was a storyline with Janie’s ex-bf that I just could not get into.  Don’t you just hate it when you’re friends are still in random communication AT ALL with their shady ex’s? That’s how I felt in certain scenes and I didn’t love it.  It wasn’t as bad as The Bright Side of Disaster, but it was still bothersome.

while reading you should
Do: math exercises. Might as well download a new app onto your phone and start remembering rudimentary math skills!
Listen to: Into you by Ariana grande
Eat: a sandwich… Sandwiches seem like good go to meals for the working woman right?

DuxSignature smallercopy

On the Corner Between Love and Hate by Nina Bocci

on the corner of love and hate

official blurb
What’s a campaign manager’s worst nightmare? A smooth-talking charmer who’s never met a scandal that he didn’t like. When Emmanuelle Peroni’s father—and mayor of her town—asks her to help rehab Cooper Endicott’s image, she’s horrified. Cooper drives her crazy in every way possible. But he’s also her father’s protégé, and she can’t say no to him without him finding out the reason why: Cooper and her have a messy past. So Emmanuelle reluctantly launches her father’s grand plan to get this Casanova someone to settle down with and help him lose his lothario reputation.  Cooper Endicott wanted to run for Mayor, but he never wanted the drama that went with it. Now that he’s on the political hamster wheel, the other candidates are digging up everything from his past. Even though he’s doing all the right things, his colorful love life is the sticking point for many of the conservative voters. He wants to win, badly, and he knows that if he wants any chance of getting a vote from the female population, he needs to change his image. The only problem? He might just be falling in love with the one person he promised not to pursue: the Mayor’s off-limits daughter.

my blurb!
Two friends who were in a long term frelationship gone awry, now try to coexist as coworkers.

3.5 stars

                                                               🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

 

what i liked
This book was really funny. It actually started out funnier than it ended, but I still laughed quite a few times throughout it. I wonder if there will be a companion book because there are so many characters described in the friendship group that seemed to have enough of a backstory to warrant other books!
I liked all the scenes at her apartment… does she need a hypothetical roommate?  Because I’m available.  The town she lived in was really cute, I could totally live there! Definitely Stars Hollow vibes.
Her parents were really enjoyable.  I loved the scenes featuring her mom.
For the amount of sexual innuendos that were present in this book – I was expecting the actual steam level to be a lot higher than it was. I think this will be a really good book for fans of the unHoneymooners who like a low steam novel!
I read this book really quickly!  It was honestly almost four stars, you’ll have to read on to find out why it wasn’t!
You know when two characters really dislike each other and you read the whole book and you’re like… wait what was the big deal? This book explained why she had hatred for Cooper really well.  It made a lot of sense and I appreciated that.
So, this also turned out to be a second chance romance…which I tend to really dislike. So overall this rated a lot higher than most second chance romances I read!

what i didn't like
It featured my least favorite thing in a book where the characters in love with somebody but once they can get together they’re not sure if they actually want to be with them… which is annoying to read about. It would have benefited from dual point of view chapters. Cooper’s POV could have explained the scenario with his “girlfriend” a lot better than the book did – so that left me wanting more.
So, I almost gave it four stars but I can’t get over the annoyance of a character who isn’t sure if she is in love with somebody or not, and then thinks she’s in love with them, but then isn’t sure if she should be with him because it’ll change the friendship. Kind of gave me Josh and Hazel vibes in that sense. I just find that plot point to be really annoying.  I root for someone who wants something and finally gets it. Not for someone who wants something and gets it and then turns it down because it’s now “too real.”

I would definitely pick up other books by this author I really enjoyed her writing style and if she does write companion books for the series, I would read them!

arc review

DuxSignature smallercopy

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not by Iris Morland (The Flower Shop Sisters #2)

he loves me he loves me not

 

official blurb
I’ve always lived my life by the rules. Unlike my two sisters, I’m the good one. The responsible one. Going outside my comfort zone is when I wear red lipstick before five PM. That comfort zone of mine? It’s smashed to smithereens on a wild night in Las Vegas when I met—and married—Liam Gallagher. After one shot of tequila, then two, then too many to count, a good girl’s rules tend to disappear. And so do her panties, and her bra, and various other articles of clothing when she’s with an Irishman who knows his way around a woman’s body. Now my husband wants us to stay married. For six months. He says it’ll be worth my while. Considering our chemistry underneath the sheets, I can’t say that he’s wrong.
Liam isn’t safe, though. Liam definitely isn’t comfortable. He’s like the male equivalent of wearing red lipstick in the daytime all wrapped up in an irresistible, dangerous package. Yet this stubborn Irishman isn’t about to let me go, drunken Princess Bride-themed Vegas wedding or no. Now I have to decide if I’m brave enough to break the rules for love.

my blurb!
After drunkenly getting married in Vegas, two people decide to keep up the facade for 6 months, fooling everyone around them…maybe even themselves.

arc review

3.75 our of 5

                                                               🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam

 

what i liked
I did a buddy read with Kelissa from @ksquaredreads, she also read the first book in this series (Petal Plucker).  When I was talking to her about this one I realized I didn’t laugh nearly as much in this book as I did during Petal Plucker but I still felt like it maybe rated higher for me earlier on.
I loved Mari…who I kept pronouncing as Marie instead of Mary (I was constantly correcting myself!)  I appreciated her practicality.  I loved any description that features her ex-fiance.  From him driving a prius, to his sex buttons.  (That’s not as weird as it sounds.  Okay it was still really weird but… you’re just going to have to read the book).
This book also featured one of my favorite storylines- a fake relationship.  I know, I know, there are a million books with this but it never gets old to me!!! It is a classic storytelling maneuver and you can’t change my mind! I also love when you get to observe the characters sharing a living space.  There is something about proximity that always builds the tension and it’s great!
It was good to get scenes of Dani and Jacob’s life from Petal Plucker.  While technically I believe this is a stand alone book, I still recommend reading Petal Plucker first so you can get the full experience while you read this one!

what i didn't like
I didn’t love Liam. I’m not sure why I didn’t, to be honest with you. But I wasn’t swooning for him.  The plot line was a little like Roomies– but I loved Calvin and I just didn’t share a fictional relationship with Liam.  This is a big bummer when it comes to reading romance novels – you really want to ship the characters together.
The bedroom scenes were a bit too spicy for me.  This is a 5 star steam level for vulgar word usage and high steam bedroom scenes.  It is marketed as a steamy romcom so this won’t be in the negative for a lot of readers- it was just a bit too steamy for this particular reader.

while reading you should
Listen to: When You Move by Parachute
Watch: Flower Shop Mysteries series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

DuxSignature smallercopy

Petal Plucker by Iris Morland (The Flower Shop Sisters #1)

petal plucker

 

Okay this is insane that I’m writing this review right now because I read this book in April. April I tell you! But alas, I really enjoyed this book and I felt like it needed to review it.

official blurb
Confession: I, Dandelion “Dani” Wright, am twenty-six years old and have yet to be deflowered. No man has hosed my hyacinth. Fondled my freesia. Diddled my daffodil.  You get the point.  My excuse? I was too busy running my family’s flower shop and winning floral design competitions. Suddenly that whole pesky virginity thing becomes a big deal when Jacob West walks back into my life. The boy I once loved. The same boy who humiliated me when he stood me up for prom.  This Jacob is no boy, though: he’s all man now—confident, charming, and so sexy my metaphorical blossoms are getting scorched. I can almost forget I’m supposed to hate him forever. Almost. To make things worse, he’s my main competition now, since he took over his parents’ flower shop. If I give into this sizzling attraction between us, it could jeopardize everything I’ve worked so hard to achieve.  But if I’m not careful, he might not just be the first man to pluck my petals—he might also be the only man to capture my heart.

my blurb!
a semi second chance romance with rival flower shop owners.

4 out of 5
                                                             🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 / 5 steam level

what i liked
If my blurb sounded like the premise for a Hallmark movie, that’s because it should be.  But don’t let that sentence full you, this book would only be made into a Hallmark movie if the screen writer eliminated a lot of steamy sex scenes.  I can just see a Hallmark screenwriter blushing the entire time while reading this book.
Dani- short for Dandelion- was so freaking funny. I laughed out loud SO many times while reading this book.  She is also semi awkward, or rather avoids situations awkwardly so I did quite a bit of cringe reading/ reading through my fingers.
This book has a lot of flashback scenes- which I don’t always love in a book. Some books can pull it off and some just can’t.  I loved it in this case!
There’s a girl named Tiffany in this book who I was total burn-book mean-girling while I was reading it.  I feel like that’s a sign of a good book when the protagonists enemies become your enemies.
My feelings while reading this book were ALL over the map.  I would be so mad at the other lead character, Jacob, and cursing his future children.  And then I would be accepting his apology on behalf of Dani because I loved him so much.  Don’t you dare judge my complicated relationship with Jacob!!
Fun fact- there is a bonus chapter for this book that you can get when you subscribe to Iris Morland’s newsletter!

what i didn't like
Because of my complicated relationship with Jacob I couldn’t give this 5 stars.  That’s the thing about second chance romances for me, I get so upset about the origin and validity of the initial breakup that I am still holding onto that by the time they get together in the book! I know it’s irrational but that’s the truth! These characters have had YEARS to move on from the hurt, but I only read about it a few hours prior and I’m still mad!
Also Jacob’s bedroom talk was a bit too much for my liking.

Anyways, you should read this series from Iris Morland if you like a steamy romcom.  And these are STEAMY.  So prepare yourself accordingly!  If you like R.S. Grey humor and Penny Reid steam level then these books are for you!

DuxSignature smallercopy

The Girl The Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young

the girl the sea gave back

official blurb
For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse. For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.

my blurb!
A story told in two points of view about two tribes at war with each other after a prolonged time of peace.

Remember me ranting and raving about Sky in the Deep?  Well this is the second book in that series.  Technically I think it is a standalone novel but I personally think they overlap enough that Sky in the Deep needs to be read first. When I saw this book was coming out, I requested it like crazy.  I’m so happy to have been gifted a physical copy from the publisher!  Like Sky in the Deep, this book features some graphic war scenes – reader beware! Ready to hop into the review? Let’s do it!

arc review

3 out of 5

what i liked
This book ended on a real high note for me.  The war scenes are well written and fast paced.  They wrap you up in the pace and leave you feverishly turning the pages.  I enjoyed the last bit of the book a lot.  This sentiment reminded me a lot of the Red Queen series, where most of the book you’re not loving it and the end is so good that you end up rating the book a lot higher than you thought you would.
I loved getting a glimpse back to my old friends lives! And by friends I mean the characters previously written in Sky in the Deep.  Fictional friends totally count as friends!
One of the main narrators is Halvard- it’s great to see where he is now, and his interactions with the other members of his tribe.  It is also really interesting to learn about what was happening in this world of theirs with other tribes during the time period of Sky in the Deep!
This might be a silly pro, but honestly the cover of this book is unreal.  It’s so well designed, and there are different textures. You just feel cool carrying it around.  It almost makes you want to read it longer so more people can see you reading it.

what i didn't like
There were some errors while reading that made some sentences confusing.  Because this is an advanced readers copy, this shouldn’t be held against the overall rating of the book, so I didn’t factor that in.  I mean, I’m mentioning it because I should-  but I’m hopeful that all of it will be corrected before printing.
In the beginning of the book I had a really hard time keeping track of the characters.  This was crazy to me because I just read Sky in the Deep. There was a character named Espen and I was thinking…  should I know who that is? Who is that?!
The best word I can describe for the tone of the first 2/3 of the book is…messy.  It’s told in dual POVs, which isn’t a big deal- I read a lot of those.  But it also time hops.  Present day. Then 11 years ago. Then present day. Then three years ago.  Then present day.  Then 7 years ago.  …See what I mean?  It just didn’t work as well as it should’ve.  World building still needed to happen because two additional tribes were introduced but the time jumps took away from the world building.
There is a large plot point about Tova, our other main character, being hated. It was touched on numerous times and when I finished the book- I still thought that plot line fell flat for me.  It didn’t make sense to me this intense hatred and the reasoning behind it.  The responsibility that Tova takes personally for this hatred never correlated for me.
There’s some insta-love in this book.  I’m not a fan of insta-love personally, so this is a negative for me.  The characters were supposed to be pulled together by fate.  I wasn’t feeling it myself.
I sighed a lot while reading this book. I know- I’m telling you, most of the way through reading it- I was going to rate it 2 stars!  (That’s how much the last bits of the books paid off!)
The things I adored about Elyn in Sky in the Deep were missing from this one.  Tova and Elyn were so different from each other.  So was Halvard.  So this viking/warrior vibe that I adored in the first book – was not present in this one.  Tova literally begs not to be killed and curls up in a ball, covering her head for protection.  I’m not expecting the characters to be the same, for sure.  But this was one of my favorite aspects of Sky in the Deep, so it was disappointingly lacking in this book.
Ready for my last gripe?  The cover of this book is epic.  I mean I LOVE it. But alas, it was misleading.  Tova has her arrows taken away very early on. I made a note that at page 238- we have barely encountered her with her arrows.  I felt like she was gonna be a little more like Legolas with the cover of the book…and that just wasn’t the case.

while reading you should
Do: sign up for a self defense class.  Why not feel empowered?!
Listen: What I believe from the Wonder Woman soundtrack
Drink: water- something about fighting scenes makes me want to stay hydrated

DuxSignature smallercopy

Hope and Other Punch Lines by Julie Buxbaum

hope and other punch lines

official blurb

Sometimes looking to the past helps you find your future. Abbi Hope Goldstein is like every other teenager, with a few smallish exceptions: her famous alter ego, Baby Hope, is the subject of internet memes, she has asthma, and sometimes people spontaneously burst into tears when they recognize her. Abbi has lived almost her entire life in the shadow of the terrorist attacks of September 11. On that fateful day, she was captured in what became an iconic photograph: in the picture, Abbi (aka “Baby Hope”) wears a birthday crown and grasps a red balloon; just behind her, the South Tower of the World Trade Center is collapsing. Now, fifteen years later, Abbi is desperate for anonymity and decides to spend the summer before her seventeenth birthday incognito as a counselor at Knights Day Camp two towns away. She’s psyched for eight weeks in the company of four-year-olds, none of whom have ever heard of Baby Hope. Too bad Noah Stern, whose own world was irrevocably shattered on that terrible day, has a similar summer plan. Noah believes his meeting Baby Hope is fate. Abbi is sure it’s a disaster. Soon, though, the two team up to ask difficult questions about the history behind the Baby Hope photo. But is either of them ready to hear the answers?

my blurb!

Two teens dealing with the aftermath of 9/11 find that different coping mechanisms can still lead to healing.

5 out of 5

what i liked

Wow, two chapters into this book and I knew I would be hooked. It is what I think a good YA book is, it’s cute yet heavy, it’s hopeful yet real. The book is alternating chapters between our two main characters – Noah and Abbi. Abbi who has, for better or worse, become the face of the survivors of 9/11. Noah who is determined to joke his way through tragedy. Both characters were both relatable and likable. I cruised through this book but also wanted to savor it. I think you will too!
Ready for me to call out some specific moments in this book that I fell in love with? How about on page 181 where Noah references Julie Buxbaum’s previous book Tell Me Three Things?! I love love love little easter eggs from an authors previous books. Sarah Dessen is a master at doing this and it will never get old!
I tried to think of the quote in this book that I think captured the entire sentiment of it. Here’s something that Noah says that I feel like really sums up Love and Other Punch Lines:

“But you can be serious and funny at the same time. We need the serious to recognize the funny, and the funny to give us even a shot in hell at surviving the serious. It’s a really simple theory if your think about it. They’re mutually dependent, not mutually exclusive.”

This book focuses a lot on 9/11, and as I was reading it was so curious what was made up, and what was real. It was almost like reading a historical fiction book and you think you’re learning a lot and then you think… well is this even real? Well at the end of this book the author reveals what was true and what was not true. Much of what I was genuinely intrigued about and had never heard of, was indeed true. This really solidified the 5 star ranking for me. I love that I learned something from this book, and that teens who maybe weren’t old enough to comprehend 9/11 will read this book and get a bigger understanding of a moment in time that turned everything else into after.

while reading you should

Do: name your car
Eat: gummy bears
Drink: a slushy

DuxSignature smallercopy