My Favorite Half – Night Stand by Christina Lauren

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official blurb
Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single. So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic. But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship…but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

my blurb!
A frelationship goes awry when someone isn’t able to own up to their feelings.

4 out of 5

what i liked
Do you love a frelationship? Because I do.  What’s a frelationship, you ask?  Well it’s a made up word that is basically a friendship that is dysfunctional and basically functions as a relationship but either one or both members of duo don’t realize it.
Reid is so likable that it almost makes Millie less likable.  I know that’s kind of insane but I was rooting for Reid so hard, that Millie getting in her own way made me mad bc I was team Reid!
The writers (remember how I mentioned in my Dating You, Hating You review that Christian Lauren is a pen name for an author duo?) did an AMAZING job writing a friend group.  I mean, I loved it.  At first it might feel a little complicated because there are a lot of people to remember, but you get over that pretty quickly and by the end, each member of the crew has their own distinct personalities.
I recommend reading this book as an actual book and not an e-book (although I haven’t actually seen the e-book formatting) because there are some chat, text, and email communications that are formatted really well in the book and actually help you distinguish between different members of the friend group.
The ending was great- no spoilers but I personally appreciated the way it wrapped up.
This book was such a fast read for me. I would be excited to read it when I got in bed, but I would make myself put it down by 10pm so that I could get some good sleep time in.  Okay, fine, 1030pm! Sheesh!  I read it in 3 sittings and easily could have done it in one or two if I had the time.

what i didn't like
I hate characters who constantly get in their own way.  While I didn’t hate Millie, I needed her to mature faster than she did.
There were a couple of sex scenes in this book. The first one is SO steamy!!!! Then the next few- almost no steam!  I wish it would have been more consistent.  If it stayed steamy, I would’ve adjusted my review accordingly- and if it had less steam the whole time I would’ve done the same.  As is, it messes with who you can recommend the book too because the beginning is so much steamier than the rest of the book.

while reading you should
Do: take interest in someone else’s passions.  You’ll learn something just because the other person is so excited to talk about it!
Listen to: You Belong With Me by Taylor Swift
Eat: pizza

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One Day In December by Josie Silver

 

one day in december

 

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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Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

official blurb
Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away. But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her. Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.

my blurb!
An alternating past and present timeline with drama and a will they/won’t they love story.

3.25 out of 5

what i liked
I read this story really quickly. I also didn’t realize it was a romance novel until half way through it. Okay, maybe it’s NOT a romance novel, but there were a few steamy scenes in it. What is the difference between a romance novel and an adult fiction novel? Asking for a friend…
I love the characters in this book. Macy was relatable and flawed. Elliot was an amazing book boyfriend- blunt and true. Sabrina- an amazing best friend who is kind but doesn’t beat around the bush. Macy’s dad- kind and putting a lot of effort into parenthood.

what i didn't like
A lot of this book was realistic to me.  That ended when the sex scene occurred in the book. Two grown adults, having sex at a wedding, not remotely intoxicated, clothes totally off, outdoors in a public garden…. Kind of ruined it for Me. Nobody Does that! It wasn’t romantic or realistic. I don’t think it flowed well with the storyline. So that was a pretty big bummer for me.

when to read
Thanksgiving – it’s mentioned quite a few times throughout the book!

while reading you should
Listen to this short playlist:
Find a Way by Safetysuit
Villains by Johnnyswim
Fall by Justin Beiber
Eat: A turkey dinner

if you would like to buy
Click here

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Let’s Get Ready for Bed by Michael W. Smith

lets get ready for bed

 

I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my free and honest review.

official blurb
From Grammy Award-winning artist Michael W Smith and the co-creator of Veggietales Mike Nawrocki comes Let’s Get Ready for Bed, the second in a series of bedtime books in the Nurturing Steps line. This sweet and sleepy picture book will lull your little one to sleep with their favorite stuffed animal characters the Nighty Nights.

my blurb!
A Christian themed book featuring friends and a bedtime routine.

3 out of 5

what i liked
This book starts with a page in the beginning with who the book is gifted from and who it is for.  Every children’s book should start out with that!
Rhyming is always in the plus column for me. And this book has it! Books are just more fun to read to your kids when they rhyme!
This book is educational.  For instance, one of the pages goes over why kids wear pajamas to bed.

This book would be great for ages : 4- 5 yrs old

what i didn't like
This book is long!  I think there could be page numbers on it.  It is 20 pages long, which made it too long for my 2 and 3 year old.
The premise of the book was a bit odd.  It’s two friends who watch their other friend, Puppy, get ready for bed. And after watching Puppy do quite the routine before bed, Puppy finally sees them and they all sing a song together.

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I review for BookLook Bloggers

Prayers of Blessing Over My Marriage by Bruce H Wilkinson

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I received this copy from Netgalley in exchange for my unbiased review.

official blurb
Do you feel as though you are going through the motions in your marriage? Is your relationship feeling a bit frayed at the edges? Prayer is one of the most powerful tools God has given us to change ourselves and our relationships from the inside out—which is why it’s the best resource we can possibly turn to for revitalizing a marriage.   New York Times bestselling author Bruce Wilkinson brings you this book of guided prayers for seeking God’s blessings upon your marriage. As you pray in specific ways for your relationship, you’ll experience new joys, and your confidence will grow as you see God’s daily provision abound for you and your spouse.  As the Bible says, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” Ecclesiastes 4:12. Experience the blessings and strength of a threefold marriage when you devote yourself to daily prayer without ceasing.

my blurb!
A daily reading book to read with your spouse to strengthen your marriage.

4 out of 5

what i liked
I really enjoyed this book.  It featured prayers that I read out loud over my marriage. I read them with my husband and without him but always enjoying the prayers that were included.
The writing was well done, and there’s nothing in the book that I didn’t agree with.  The prayers were well thought out and powerful!
I got this book as an e-book and I would be really interested in getting a paper copy- it’s definitely the type of book that you could make your way through and then just start it over again.

what i didn't like
This isn’t exactly a negative, but I was expecting an entire book of prayers. Similar to A Diary of Private Prayer – that I read every day.  This book does feature prayers, but is not entirely prayers.  Each day has an excerpt to read with a story, or a verse, or a teaching- which is followed by a prayer.  Because I was expecting entirely prayers, I was a little disappointed about that but it’s not really a negative.

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Dating You Hating You by Christina Lauren

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official blurb
Despite the odds against them from an embarrassing meet-awkward at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, Carter and Evie immediately hit it off. Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire. But when their two agencies merge—causing the pair to vie for the same position—all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals—so why can’t they act like it?

my blurb!
Two people compete for the same job and try not to fall for each other in the process.

2.75 out of 5

what i liked
Fun fact- this book is written by two girls under a pen name! What? Everyone already knew that? Oh… I didn’t. hah!
This book was fine and I would totally re-gift it to someone I knew liked the genre, but it didn’t make me wanna read it in a hurry.

what i didn't like
I didn’t care about the characters!  Isn’t that the worst when you’re reading a book and you slowly realize you wouldn’t be friends with the people you’re reading about?
The main girl was a little too childish for me.  Like- ugh he sucks! But also I’m in love with him!  It could be realistic- but I can’t identify with that at all, so it certainly wasn’t realistic for me.
The biggest inconsistency was that I thought the main guy was supposed to be handsome… but not like- shield your eyes handsome.  But then as the story progresses he’s CONSTANTLY getting hit on and getting checked out.  So that didn’t make a lot of sense.  It’s not a big deal but just not consistent so it bothered me.  What can I say, I like consistency!

while reading you should
Listen to: I Wanna by The All American Rejects
Watch: A Harry Potter movie (any will do, but I personally really enjoy watching The Prisoner of Azkaban)
Do: Polish up your resume.  You never know when you’ll get the urge to look for something different!

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The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie

official blurb
Daisy Flattery is a free spirit with a soft spot for strays and a weakness for a good story. Why else would she agree to the outrageous charade offered by her buttoned-down workaholic neighbor, Linc Blaise? The history professor needs to have a fiancée in order to capture his dream job, and Daisy is game to play the role. But something funny happens on their way to the altar that changes everything. Now, with the midnight hour approaching, will Daisy lose her prince, or will opposites not only attract but live happily ever after?

my blurb!
A straight laced, typical truth teller decides to deceive everyone with a fake fiance.

3 out of 5

what i liked
I love a story like this. I love a good plot of pretending to be boyfriend and girlfriend- I mean YESSSSS! (Hello, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before).
There were a lot of supporting characters that I really liked.  Chickie (worst name ever) was a fun character to read about.  She was complex in her own way.
I liked Daisy! She was quirky and fun and I loved how she attracted other people to her by being kind.  In case you didn’t know, Kind is the New Classy.
Lincoln’s name.  It was a shame he went by Linc with everyone – the nickname is fine, but Lincoln is so much better!

what i didn't like
Daisy had a few oddities about her character that I just didn’t buy into.  I couldn’t picture her at all.  Was she like a gypsy?  I don’t understand what the author was trying to do with her as a character- one time teacher, storyteller, liar, eccentric dresser, messy, broken things all over her house, but most of all a painter?  I just didn’t buy it all, what can I say?
I wasn’t obsessed with getting through this story.  I just didn’t read it and think, “EEEEEKK! I can’t wait for them to get together!” Even though the storyline is exactly my type!

while reading you should
Watch: A cinderella story
Listen to: Cinderella by Play
Eat: Casserole

if you would like to buy
Click here.

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Snow In Love by Various Authors

snow in love

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 out of 5 stars

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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The Good Luck Charm by Helena Hunting

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official blurb
Lilah isn’t sure what hurt worse: the day Ethan left her to focus on his hockey career, or the day he came back eight years later. He might think they can pick up just where they left off, but she’s no longer that same girl and never wants to be again.  Ethan Kane wants his glory days back. And that includes having Lilah by his side. With her, he was magic. They were magic. All he has to do is make her see that.  Just when Lilah might finally be ready to let him in, though, she finds out their reunion has nothing to do with her and everything to do with his game. But Ethan’s already lost her once, and even if it costs him his career, he’ll do anything to keep from losing her again.

my blurb!
The story of two people who never should have broken up to begin with, trying to make it work years later.

1.5 out of 5
what i liked
I know, with such a low rating, the “liked” section of this review is going to be super small.  I might be willing to try another Helena Hunting book because I did like her writing style.  She wrote the dual perspectives in the book really well.
I also liked the cover of this book because romance novel covers are known to be a little more on the rough side.

what i didn't like
Steam factor of this book was 5 freaking saunas.  I didn’t end up finishing this book and actually didn’t even make it half way through.  It was WAY too steamy for me. I expected this level of steam to only be in a book with a shirtless man on the cover.  (Sidenote- I am ALL for romance novels straying from this whole shirtless man thing.  Do we need to announce to the world that there is going to be sex in the book you’re reading by holding up these covers?!)
Honestly at the point where I stopped reading, the characters were already together and it was so dirty and there was so much of the book left.  I didn’t want to stick around for the inevitable drama or 7,000 more sex scenes so I bailed out.

I knew going into this romance read marathon that it would take me quite a while to find books I liked.  And maybe I just wouldn’t like the genre at all.  But here’s the deal. I do like the genre, but I really don’t like the extreme steam.  I don’t like any descriptions involving bodily fluids.  (I mean… does that even need to be said?)  I need more romcom in my life, and less HBO at night.
I know I usually give suggestions on what you should do while reading books- but my opinion is to never read this book. So no suggestions!  Out with the bad and in with the good!  Remember, life is too short for bad books!

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The Office Christmas Party by Aimee Duffy

official blurb
Natalie Taylor and Dean Fletcher are serial Christmas party crashers. But when they start crashing the same parties, the mittens are off! As much as she loves Christmas, after her mother’s death, events planner Nat can’t face the jolly season anymore. So to get her festive hit she crashes everyone else’s party. It’s a sweet gig, until she meets her competition, tech empire millionaire, Dean, under the mistletoe…! When it comes to relationships, Dean doesn’t do serious—being left at the altar will do that to a guy. So when he meets feisty Nat, the first woman in ten years to pique his interest, he’s tempted to break his one-night rule…just for the holidays! Nat and Dean might get more than they bargained for in their stockings this Christmas!

my blurb!
A book with an I-hate-you omg, wait I’m in love with you – trope.

1 out of 5

what i didn't like
I was really excited to stumble upon this book because I thought it would be perfect for my blog theme of “romance yourself through the holidays,” but alas, this book was a no- go for me.
I didn’t like the chemistry of the characters! I think that it was supposed to be written like the characters were in some kind of Jimmy Kimmel- esq prank war.  But it seemed like they were actually crazy below the belt pranks which somehow resulted in the main characters obsession with ripping each others clothes off.  And somehow the characters developed a deep bond  that they couldn’t help but abandon their anti- relationship ways…. What?! Nope, I don’t believe it.
I didn’t actually finish this book but got about 2/3 of the way through before saying to myself- why am I reading this when I don’t like it?

what i liked
There are two characters in this book whose storylines intersect that you don’t realize at the very beginning of the book- but do understand pretty quickly… maybe 100 pages or so into it.  I liked that little plot element to it. (I know I’m being vague, but no spoilers here!)

while reading you should
Eat: fresh-baked desserts
Wear: a fancy cocktail dress
Do: crash a christmas party

when to read
The Christmas season!

if you would like to buy
click here.

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