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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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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The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

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official blurb
When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn’t the hard part–they’ve only been dating for five months, and he can’t even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans… At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik’s rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He’s even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik’s social media blows up–in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can’t be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes…

my blurb!
A girl who gets brutally embarrassed online falls for her no- strings white knight.

3.75 our of 5

1.5/5 steam level

what i liked
This book is kind of like the second in a series- but also it’s not.  That was really good, right? I know, I should try to write reviews for a living!  Did you read The Wedding Date?  Well this book features the best friend from TWD, so it is a stand alone novel.  But also, it could be read as the second book in a series!
I loved the peak at Alexa and Drew from TWD.  I didn’t love TWD when I read it, but that was before I became a romance reader!  Now I think if I read it again, I might like it more.  So overall, it was fun to look back at some old friends from TWD.
I’m not sure if I just missed it in the description, but it was a good 3/4 of the way through the book before I realized that Nikole was black.  They have a scene where they really reference this- and I was like… wait what?! I was picturing her so differently so that was a funny and fun surprise.  I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again- the most diverse characters I’ve read in any books have all come from romance novels!  I hadn’t read very many black leads until I started reading this genre and I’m so happy to read about characters like me!
These books feature what I would call closed-door sex scenes.  It’s not an open look at the dirty deed. It basically features very little description and the reader is left easily understanding what the characters are doing.  I really liked that myself!
There’s also a solid group of friends in this book- so shout out to that!

what i didn't like
I feel like going back, this book should rank higher- but for some reason it just didn’t rank THAT high for me.  There were things I loved about diversity in the book and things I hated.  There’s a scene where Carlos kind of tests Nik by ordering her tacos.  I won’t go into it… but I didn’t like it.
The writing wasn’t amazing.  Is it too lame as a reviewer to say the writing fell flat?  The dual perspective wasn’t varied enough, and the characters found each other so charming and funny but I never laughed out loud while reading the book.

while reading you should
Go: to a baseball game
Do: make a recipe at home that you’ve been wanting to try!
Listen to: Blank Space by Taylor Swift

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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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