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

Coldhearted Boss by R.S. Grey

coldhearted boss.PNG

Wow I had a really hard time rating this book.  Here’s the deal, it started off rough for me.  Mostly because it featured my least favorite trope of all time- poor girl and rich boy.  Now there are occasions in which the story or characters will help me get past my hatred of this trope (I’m looking at you The Distance Between Us).  But that’s the exception… the rule is Poor vs Rich trope is a big no for me.  But alas, Rachel is a master at her craft and had me totally rooting for this couple.  I was invested in their lives and knew their motives.  So without further pomp and circumstance I officially rate this book …

4 out of 5

4 out of 5 steam level

How did she turn me around completely to this book? Well she also included my favorite trope: hate to love you.  What else do I absolutely adore in a romance? A slow burn.  And oh boy did this feature a slow burn!  It also featured R.S. Grey’s signature wit and charm that she writes into her characters.  So while this book started off rocky for me, about 1/3 of the way into it I was absorbed fully.  I read the next 2/3 of the book in one sitting.  Let me emphasize this…I read the next 2/3 in one sitting after I taking a sleeping pill.  I refused to give into sleep because I loved this book so much!  It ended with a perfect epilogue- which you know I’m a sucker for.  What can I say, R.S. Grey does it again!  If you like a steamy romcom then run don’t walk to your nearest R.S. Grey book because she is a Queen of her craft!

arc review

DuxSignature smallercopy

Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

serious moonlight

official blurb
After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately. Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel. In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel. To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that the most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.

my blurb!
A semi naive aspiring sleuth teams up with a former fling to uncover the identity of a mysterious author using a pen name.

 

Want to read my other reviews of Jenn Bennett books?  Click here for Starry Eyes.  Click here for Alex, Approximately.

4 out of 5

what i didn't like
I was ready for it to end a little sooner.  Otherwise this book MIGHT have been 5 stars for me.
I also didn’t always love Birdie.  But I did for the most part.  Her indecisiveness got old.  To be fair, that was addressed by the end of the book.
There is also storyline with Aunt Mona that was 100% predictable to me.

what i liked
A main character obsessed with mysteries? Sign me up!  I love BBC masterpiece mysteries and consider myself to be an amateur sleuth of sorts.  Okay, I don’t really consider myself to be one, more like I think I’d be good at it if I ever tried it.  (Oh, come on. Like you didn’t watch the Bourne movies and think you’d make an awesome Bourne!  I’m basically the same except more like Veronica Mars).
Jenn Bennett writes some really funny dialogue, but also some hard hitting dialogue.  Here’s a couple snippets from the book to wet your appetite.

“Come on, Nick.  Are we solving a GD mystery, or aren’t we?”
A slow grin split his face.  “Nora, my dear, you know I can’t resist it when you use profanity.”

“We didn’t come out here to help you seek vengeance.”
“No one plans vengeance,” she argued.
“Yes! They do!” I said, exasperated.  “It’s a planned act of revenge.”
“For you maybe.  For me vengeance just happens.”

“When you pin impossible ideals on someone, nobody wins… Judging other people unfairly doesn’t define them; it defines you.  And in the end everyone will be disappointed… Most of us are just living our lives, trying the best we can.  Accepting people for who they are is hard, but in the long run, it’s easier than sitting around, wishing they were something they’re not.”

I mean… I know you’re wanting to run out and get this book right now. And you should.  But just wait a minute because I’m almost done with my review.
If you don’t follow me on instagram (you should), then you don’t know that I’m obsessed with berets.  In fact you can often see me sporting the hashtag of #beretoftheday.  Picture this, I’m just sitting and reading…minding my own business and adjusting my beret when necessary, when all of the sudden I stumble upon this gem of dialogue:

“Don’t bother being polite to Old Man Jessen.  If an asshole could were a beret, that’s what it would look like.”

A line featuring a beret?! YES!! Okay, so it wasn’t totally favorable.  But still.  I’m throwing a party for a beret mention!
If it wasn’t totally clear with the above line, this book features some profanity.  It also starts out recalling a (sort of) one night stand.  Yes, this book is YA.  It’s not “open door” descriptive in the romance scenes but mentionable nonetheless.  There is also trigger warnings for suicide in this book.
I can’t believe I went this long in the book without  talking about my main man Daniel!  Daniel is our male protagonist and he is amazing!  I dare you not to develop a crush on him and his grand gestures.  Go ahead and try… you will not be successful.  Shout out to diverse reads here because Daniel Aoki is in fact Asian.  There’s nothing I’m more of a sucker for in a book than an interracial couple!  Bring them all to me!!! I will read those books os fast!

while reading you should
Watch: Veronica Mars
Read: Agatha Christie books
Listen to: David Bowie

DuxSignature smallercopy

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

the bride test.PNG

official blurb
Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride. As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection. With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

my blurb!
A guy on the Autism spectrum, who hasn’t dated, is convinced to house a potential mail order wife that his mom set him up with.

4 out of 5

4 out of 5 steam level

what i liked
So if you didn’t know, this book is a companion novel (in the same world and kind of a second book but also a stand alone book) as The Kiss Quotient.  The Kiss Quotient, I wasn’t in love with, but also it was one of the very first steamy romance novels I’d ever read.  So I am kind of convinced it would rank higher now that I’ve immersed myself into the romance reads culture.
I really liked this book!  I love love loved the main characters! This is told from two perspectives (dual POVs) and it made the book that much more enjoyable.  I loved both main characters and felt like I knew both of them and their thought processes well!
My/Esme, our female protagonist, was independent and determined.  She was, dare I say, scrappy and sexy.  She was kind and vulnerable.  Khai, our male protagonist, was so realistic.  He was kind, and sensitive.  He was considerate and funny.  Hoang wrote the dual perspectives very well and each chapter was so specifically different from the POVs- they never blended together.
At its core- this was the story of a female immigrant and a boy on the Autism spectrum.  I’ve said it multiple times but that won’t stop me from saying it now, romance novels are THE most diverse novels published right now.  (Try to change my mind!)
Lastly, this books acknowledgment section was epic.  I mentioned that in Sky in the Deep as well. I’m clearly a fan of a well written acknowledgment section.  (Come to think of it, I also love that part of Children of Blood and Bone).  The author explains how Esme/My ended up as the main character and… I mean, you just have to read it. It was amazing and made me love the book even more!

what i didn't like
This next part will be hard to explain without giving away any spoilers but I’m going to do my darndest!  This book ended with an Epilogue… which you know I love!  So why is it in the “didn’t like” section?  The epilogue took place FOUR years after the main portion of the book.  Let that sink in. We spend a lot of time with these characters and then we’re catapulted four years forward.  I wasn’t thrilled with the overall relationship status of Khai and Esme at this point.  I won’t go more into that, but if you’ve read it you know!

Overall I would easily recommend this book to romance readers.  It is on the higher end of steam level that I’m comfortable reading.  If you liked the first book in the set, The Kiss Quotient, I think you’ll like this book even better!

while reading you should
Listen: Slipped Away by Avril Lavigne
Eat: Authentic Vietnamese food!
Do:  Learn something new that you’ve always wanted to learn!

arc review

DuxSignature smallercopy

 

 

The Last Battle (The Chronicles of Narnia #7) by C.S. Lewis

TCON7.PNG

official blurb
A false Aslan is roaming Narnia, commanding everyone to work for the cruel Calormenes. Can Eustace and Jill find the true Aslan and restore peace to the land? The last battle is the greatest of all and the final struggle between good and evil

my blurb!
The final book in the Narnia series. Join the characters from all of the previous books as they face the greatest evil in Narnia yet.

4.5 out of 5

what i liked
Wow this book was CRAZY.  It was my favorite of the whole series.  But wow, this one was dark.  The plot in this one moved quickly.  While I still had a lot of the same issues in this book that I did with the others, I think by this point in the series, I have looked past those shortcomings a bit more for this book.  The plot in this one was a bit confusing but in the end when they explained it all- it’s a really fun “woah!” moment.  I also felt like this book moved along quickly compared to some of the previous ones (I’m looking at you The Horse and His Boy!).  One of my favorite parts about this whole book was the discussion I was able to have with my friends who participated in this series long buddy read with me.  There is a CRAZY (and I mean “WHAT?! CLIVE! WHAT DID YOU DO?! I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU WROTE THAT!) plot point that happens in this book.  I mean, theologically (if you’re reading these books as an allegory) it was great to discuss!  I know this is confusing if you haven’t read the book- but I don’t want to spoil anything for you.  If you’ve read it and you know what I’m talking about- comment and talk to me about this crazy ending!

what i didn't like
This book was DARK.  I am imagining that, similar to the Harry Potter series, you’re supposed to start reading these at a certain age and read them as you’re growing up. Because this last book is really dark if you think of it as specifically a kids book.   There is a strong palpable sense of hopelessness when you read it.  You actually  encounter a demon, or a (note the lowercase) god in this one- named Tash.  It is violent and has some graphic scenes.  These aren’t huge negatives for me- but I noted this under the negative column in case you were thinking about quickly reading through the whole series with young kids.
Honestly, the biggest negative in this book (because, really this one was quite good) is the way it’s written.  The older english just simply didn’t agree with me.

Can you believe I finally read and reviewed the entire Narnia series?! I’m glad to have finally done it because I feel like these are wildly treasured books, especially in the Christian circle.  They weren’t beloved for me and some books were completely hit or miss.  Overall, for my personal reading style, I would love to read an updated (abridged?) version of these because very regularly I would read a whole monologue and then Google the book+chapter to find a good breakdown of what that portion was trying to say.  I don’t think all readers will have this issue, but I will say that two out of the three people involved in the buddy read had this conclusion.

DuxSignature smallercopy

Stop – and – Go Devotional by Diane Stortz

stop and go devotional

official blurb
Stop-and-Go Devotional provides short, active devotions based on Bible stories, designed for busy families with preschoolers and primary-grade children. Written by bestselling author Diane Stortz, this to-the-point, interactive devotional gives bite-size teachings on how to follow God.  Each short devotion consists of an action-filled Bible story (Stop and Read), an age-appropriate devotional thought with questions and a brief prayer (Think and Talk), and an easy and fun follow-up activity, a thought to remember, and a supporting Bible verse (Green Means Go!). This book provides a way to have intentional quality time with your kids; it’s fun, educational, and meaningful for your family’s faith journey together.

my blurb!
A devotional for families to do together geared towards kids.  Featuring a breakdown of a bible story, some questions, and an activity.

4 out of 5

what i didn't like
The only thing I didn’t like about this book, is that it does take longer to complete the devotionals than my previous devo I was doing with my kids.  It also is a bit too old for my 2 and 4 year olds to do, the “Think and Talk” section specifically.

what i liked
I know, I literally just mentioned that this book was a bit longer than I was expecting for devos.  Sometimes it felt too long for what we were used to. But that is also something that I liked.
I LOVE LOVE LOVED the “Green Means Go” sections.  This was the part that has little activities to do with your kiddos to weave in what you just learned in the story.  We had a lot of fun doing this together as a family.
The illustrations at the start of each devo were super cute and need to be mentioned because I really liked them! It’s cool to see biblical characters drawn with brown skin, so points for that in my book!

Overall, while my kids are a bit too young for this book, we will keep adapting it to our needs with the questions sections and continue reading it together!

arc review

DuxSignature smallercopy

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

josh and hazels guide to not dating.PNG

 

official blurb
Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun. Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air. Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?

my blurb!
Two friends who should be dating each other, but instead set one another up on blind dates.

4 out of 5                                                              4 out of 5 steam level

 

what i liked
I loved so much about this book. I know a lot of people might not like Hazel, she might stress them out a bit.  But I loved her. She was eccentric and blunt and quirky and Hazel.  She was definitely over the top but I wasn’t bothered by it at all.
This book was hilarious. I mean seriously, this was a laugh out loud funny book!  I’m coming to expect it from Christina Lauren and they have not let me down with this one! Okay, okay, I’ll include a randomly picked excerpt from the book just to prove it to you.

“I swear my mouth and brain are siblings who hate each other and give each other wedgies in the form of mortifying moments like this.”

I mean- it’s pretty darn good right?!
This book was like if Stargirl grew up and started dating.  And I was here for every minute of it.
Like the romance genre as a whole, this book didn’t disappoint me with diverse characters.  It featured characters that were Korean American and they were great!
Strong friendships were a big feature of this book. It was well written and overall a very fun book to read!
It ended with an epilogue! I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again- I LOVE an epilogue!!! It should be a requirement in every book! (I’m looking at you, One Day In December!)

what i didn't like
Now you’re looking at that list above and thinking to yourself, “Self, why didn’t she rank the book 5 sars with all of that positivity?”  Well, I will answer your question- I promise!
It was too long! I wanted it to wrap up sooner!
While I loved Hazel, she was too much.  There were multiple times where I felt like they had her character drag out the ending.   How long can someone possibly fight being with the person they’re actually in love with??

while reading you should
Do: clean up your apartment/house (because really, when don’t you need to do this?)
Eat: Pizza
Listen: Extraordinary by Liz Phair

DuxSignature smallercopy