The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

official blurb
Calla Fletcher wasn’t even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.  She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.  Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. Soon, she finds herself forming an unexpected bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.

my blurb!
City girl encounters sky cowboy in Alaska while trying to reconnect with her dad.

4.5 out of 5

Let me start by saying- this is not your typical romance novel.  I’m actually not ENTIRELY sure this is a romance novel- it could potentially be adult fiction.  But I feel like if sex is mentioned, then why can’t it be a romance novel?  Romantic movies and porn aren’t the same.  Neither are romance novels and erotica!  (You’re welcome for drawing that conclusion for you.  I know, I should be like a writing teacher or something right? So. Insightful).

what i liked
Wren- he was such a solid character.  I understood him and I liked him!
Simon- hello good stepfather! I mean, I am SO pro a good step parent- it could just be the old disney movies in my head, but I always assume they’re going to be the stereotypical step parent who should be banished to the ends of the earth.  Well, that’s not the case for Simon. You’ll love him, trust me.
I loved the name Calla – and overall I did like her.  I was nervous when she was proclaiming herself anti-confrontation, because in general I am pro confrontation and I really don’t like to read about characters who just whine in their heads all the time but never do anything about it.  So Calla wasn’t nearly as annoying as I thought she was going to be- and I did actually end up really liking her.
Agnes…. Okay wait. I’m sensing a pattern here.  I am actually going through the book and listing almost every main character.  Wow.  Okay, so I guess I enjoyed all of the characters in this book!
I LOVED the setting.  I mean, Alaska is DEFINITELY bucket list for me, and even more so after reading this book. I. Must. Go. To. Alaska.
I liked reading about the world of bush pilots! Something I never would have thought to ever spend any time imagining and now, I feel as if I’ve lived among them.

what i didn't like
I didn’t looooove Jonah. I know, this is going to be an unpopular opinion.  I didn’t dislike him, but I certainly wasn’t obsessed with him.  Here’s why- and this is FACT- he’s kind of a jerk.  I am NOT into the idea of someone who is SO judgemental of Calla so he totally messes with her just to entertain himself! Also he completely shames her for caring about her appearance, and nicknames her Barbie. Truth be told she may care too much about her appearance, but there’s no winning there- people who don’t care about their appearance have to have makeovers and people who do have to care less.  Down with the appearance shaming! The whole uppity girl- can’t help but fall in love with rugged jerk of a guy. NO! I’m done with that. I’ve watched Gilmore Girls approximately 12987059021 times – and have lived through Rory and Jess. Nope, I’m not into it.  Try to change my mind. Go ahead….
Really though, Jonah wasn’t awful- I just wasn’t personally remotely swooning for him.  What can I say, he just didn’t do it for me.

while reading you should
Eat: beef jerky
Listen to: Can’t Help Falling in Love by Kina Grannis
Do: Learn to drive a manual car
Request: My Oxford Year from the library because if you like this one then you’ll like that one!

if you would like to buy
Click here.

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Beard Science (Winston Brothers #3) by Penny Reid

winston brothers 3

 

official blurb
Jennifer Sylvester wants one thing, and that one thing is NOT to be Tennessee’s reigning Banana Cake Queen. Ever the perpetual good girl and obedient daughter, Jennifer is buckling under the weight of her social media celebrity, her mother’s ambitions, and her father’s puritanical mandates. Jennifer is officially desperate. And desperate times call for Cletus Winston. Cletus Winston is a puzzle wrapped in a mystery covered in conundrum sauce, and now he’s in a pickle. Despite being convinced of his own omniscience, extortion by the exalted Banana Cake Queen of Green Valley has taken him completely by surprise. So… what’s a maniacal mastermind to do? Likely, the last thing you expect.

my blurb!
The Danny Ocean of rural Tennessee gets manipulated by the person he least expected.

4.5 out of 5

what i liked
OMG you guys, this one was the best one so far.  I read it so quickly.   Let me tell you, I did expect this to me my favorite because I’m slightly obsessed with Cletus and his manipulative ways throughout the previous books. I was NOT disappointed. Cletus is the best!!! Let me tell you why he’s been my favorite since book one – he is so odd and quirky and vindictive and and sneaky – I love it all!
A lot of pros in this book- also the pros of reading the books in order- you get so many snippets of the previous characters lives in the other books! It’s so fun.
Jennifer is a fun and sad and open. She is an amazing heroine in the book.  I’m also slightly obsessed with her.  Do you remember in Truth or Beard when I said I just wasn’t in love with Duane and Jess?  That is clearly not the case for these two love birds.  I loved Jenn’s response to Cletus when he asked her what she wanted to be:

“A mother,” I said simply, because it was true.  That’s what I wanted first and foremost.  “And a really excellent wife and partner.  And homemaker.  I want to have a family to take care of, to love and fuss over and think about.  That’s what I want.  I know it’s not progressive or flashy, and I know people don’t place much importance on that stuff anymore, just like people don’t put much importance on humility and kindness, forgiveness and compassion.  But those things are important to me.  I know people will look down their noses at me for being just a mom, but I’m used to being marginalized for what I do and what I look like.  And I think being a great mother is the most difficult and most important job in the world.”

I mean, you guys! This quote is the bees knees!  It reminded me of Mona Lisa Smile when Julia Stiles says a similar sentiment to Julia Roberts.

what i didn't like
Now that I’ve been raving about this book you are wondering yourself why I didn’t rate it 5 stars.  Well you are right to wonder and I did almost rate it 5 stars but there are still two things as a whole in this series that I don’t LOVE.
The steam level. Truth be told, in this book it is lower than the others but then it gets right up to bat with the other books towards the last 8th of the book or so.
The biker gang plot.  I know- I should just accept it. It’s part of the plot! I just don’t like it, I’m sorry!

while reading you should
Listen to:  The Best of You and Me by Number One Gun
Watch: Mona Lisa Smile
Do: Bake! (And a tip from me to you, bake precisely as the recipe instructs.  It’ll be a game changer).

Future predictions for the other Winston Brothers books:
Claire and billy. Beaue and Shelly. Roscoe and ? (Who will Roscoe end up with?!)

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My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan

official blurb
American Ella Durran has had the same plan for her life since she was thirteen: Study at Oxford. At 24, she’s finally made it to England on a Rhodes Scholarship when she’s offered an unbelievable position in a rising political star’s presidential campaign. With the promise that she’ll work remotely and return to DC at the end of her Oxford year, she’s free to enjoy her Once in a Lifetime Experience. That is until a smart-mouthed local who is too quick with his tongue and his car ruins her shirt and her first day.  When Ella discovers that her English literature course will be taught by none other than that same local, Jamie Davenport, she thinks for the first time that Oxford might not be all she’s envisioned. But a late-night drink reveals a connection she wasn’t anticipating finding and what begins as a casual fling soon develops into something much more when Ella learns Jamie has a life-changing secret.  Immediately, Ella is faced with a seemingly impossible decision: turn her back on the man she’s falling in love with to follow her political dreams or be there for him during a trial neither are truly prepared for. As the end of her year in Oxford rapidly approaches, Ella must decide if the dreams she’s always wanted are the same ones she’s now yearning for.

my blurb!
An American with plans for her future sets out to strike an item from her bucket list, and maybe change those plans for a different, perhaps better, future.  Perfect for fans of Me Before You, Love & Gelato, and The Hating Game.

4.5 out of 5

what i liked
There are a lot of good references in this book- like the dead poet society.  I don’t love name dropping, but I LOVE reference dropping!
I loved Jamie. He was fun and smart and wise. He had a good perspective on life that I really enjoyed discovering as the pages went on.  I was picturing him as the actor Sam Caflin as I read the book.  You’re welcome.
I loved Jamie’s mom.  I mean, shout out to good parents in novels! Not all parents are created equal, and not all media gives good justice to good parents.  But Jamie’s mom… she was strong, and realistic, and slightly manipulative but in the best was possible.
This book featured a solid group of friends.  I love reading about subplots with a friend group that you’re rooting for!  Really that in and of itself secure’s a solid star point in the rating of this book.
Something that pleasantly surprised was our main character’s ability to keep an open mind for people that she’s judged. This happened with a few people throughout the novel.  (But lets focus on one particular example).  There’s this one girl who is out of control possessive over Jamie. She sucks.  But as the story moves on, Ella evolves in her friendship with this girl.  Meanwhile, I’m over here reading the book thinking- no way, she was wayyyyyy too bitchy!  But, alas, Ella had already moved on from it.

what i didn't like
Read this book with a dictionary!  I love words. I love learning new words, and rediscovering words I had forgotten.  But wow.  I am pretty sure Whelan wrote this book with the thesaurus app open.
Buyer beware: There are a lot of tropes in this book.  Reeling from a tragedy Ella has sworn off dating, she’s totally career focused, the two main’s make a deal to only sleep together and have no feelings involved.  There may have even been more than that, but you get the picture.  Overall, the tropes didn’t bother me too much but should be noted.
I know that Oxford is supposed to be amazing, but I’ve never been.  (I know, you’re shocked because I seem SO cultured).  So, going on and on about Oxford didn’t make me want to visit, it made me want to skim those sections of the book.

It was really hard to figure out the genre for this one. The beginning screamed more of a romance novel, but then about half way through it became a totally different kind of intense drama. Is romdrom a thing? Because if so, this is it.

I laughed while reading this book and I cried while reading this book (truth be told, I’m kind of a crier since popping out a few kiddos). I was happy with the beginning and the ending of this book. There were parts in the middle that I wasn’t sure I was in love with, but I did read it in less than 24 hours.  So this book ALMOST got 5 stars from me.  It didn’t quite make it to required reading, but it was really enjoyable to read and you should definitely move it up on your TBR list.
If you’re STILL not convinced to move it up on your TBR list – they are apparently filming this movie right now!  So, it goes without saying (but here I am saying it), that you have to read the book before you see the movie!

while reading you should
Read: Poetry.  Because, really, when do you last read through a poem?
Drink: Beer (Although I hate the taste of beer. So maybe rootbeer)
Do: Make a list of places you want to travel and plan a trip that you’ll actually take!

if you would like to buy
Click here: My Oxford Year

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Matchmaking For Beginners by Maddie Dawson

official blurb
Marnie MacGraw wants an ordinary life—a husband, kids, and a minivan in the suburbs. Now that she’s marrying the man of her dreams, she’s sure this is the life she’ll get. Then Marnie meets Blix Holliday, her fiancé’s irascible matchmaking great-aunt who’s dying, and everything changes—just as Blix told her it would. When her marriage ends after two miserable weeks, Marnie is understandably shocked. She’s even more astonished to find that she’s inherited Blix’s Brooklyn brownstone along with all of Blix’s unfinished “projects”: the heartbroken, oddball friends and neighbors running from happiness. Marnie doesn’t believe she’s anything special, but Blix somehow knew she was the perfect person to follow in her matchmaker footsteps.  And Blix was also right about some things Marnie must learn the hard way: love is hard to recognize, and the ones who push love away often are the ones who need it most.

my blurb!
Two ladies with a gift for matchmaking have their lives intersect in this story of quirky imperfect protagonists trying to read the signs that life puts in front of them.

4 out of 5

what i liked
I loved the two main characters- Marnie and Blix. I’ve read a few reviews that found them to be quite annoying- and Marnie really can be, but I enjoyed reading in her tone of voice.  They were both such characters with amazing quirks that it was really fun to be in their heads.  Also I loved their names – nice going, Dawson!
I also loved reading about a newbie in NYC educating themselves on what the lingo and the culture is there – that was so entertaining to me.  Is anyone else fascinated by the appeal of living in NYC? And really, why do they call it the subway when the cards specifically say “Metro?”
There is magic in this book! Okay, so it’s not like Harry Potter magic- but it is magic nonetheless! The magic of love and of matchmaking! It was a cute plotline to read about and it felt so believable to me! I thought to myself, “Self, if you were to look at a couple and had the gift of matchmaking, you too would see sparks and colors and sparkles radiating from people who were truly in love.” And I liked that idea.

what i didn't like
There was a plotline with Marnie and Noah and it was just too much. No one at 29 is that stupid. I won’t give any spoilers- but it took away a star from this book.  I think it could have been accomplished in the plot without Marnie being so unfortunately annoying in her responses.

while reading you should
Listen to: When We Were Young by Adele
Watch: Wonder
Eat: Pie

if you would like to buy
Click here

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On The Fence by Kasie West

official blurb
For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she’s spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game. To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can’t solve Charlie’s biggest problem: she’s falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

my blurb!
Tomboy learns what it means to accept who you are, not be afraid to change, and swing for the fences.

4 out of 5

what i liked
I like reading about a different kind of girl. She is complicated with a solid family and some sadness from accepting the loss of her mom.  I liked that she was strong and tall. I liked that she was sporty and enjoyed watching sports and playing sports.  It’s nice to read a character who is more relatable – like she wasn’t trying to bat away all of the boys who were constantly fawning over her- she was just living life, getting in trouble for speeding, working at a job she didn’t know she would like.  Very normal high school stuff.  She was a cool main character.  She reminded me a lot of me.  Well… except she was tall, and sporty and had brothers and… okay she didn’t exactly remind me of me.
MAJOR shout out to the crossover characters from other books! I love getting a little glimpse into some of my old friends lives. Can more authors do this? My OG favorite author Sarah Dessen used to do that all the time, and I loved trying to spot the old characters!

what i didn't like
I just wasn’t entirely in love with this story. I’m not sure if it was the couple, or the insecurities of Charlie, but it wasn’t everything that I wanted out of the book. I did really enjoy it, I just didn’t LOVE it.

while reading you should
Play:  soccer
Buy: makeup
Eat: Pizza
Watch: She’s the Man.

if you would like to buy
Click here.

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To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

official blurb
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?  Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

my blurb!
Girl with unrequited love issues is bombarded when guys she’s loved start popping up like daisies… with her unsent love letters in hand.

4.5 out of 5

what i liked
I liked so much about this book! Jenny Han’s writing is so enjoyable to read.  You’ll be laughing on the first pages and the rest of the book won’t let you down.  Don’t believe me? Here’s an excerpt of the first paragraph of the book:
I like to save things. Not important things like whales or people or the environment. Silly things. Porcelain bells, the kind you get at souvenir shops.  Cookie cutters you’ll never use, because who needs a cookie in the shape of a foot?  Ribbons for my hair.  Love letters.  Of all the things I save, I guess you could say my love letters are my most prized possession.
I loved Lara Jean’s family. I believed them and their complications and their love for each other.  I love her dad!
Also, shout out to Jenny Han for telling me exactly how to pronounce Lara Jean’s last name in the first couple pages of the books. If you don’t remember a pet peeve of mine is going a whole book and having NO idea if I’m pronouncing someone’s name correctly.
I loved LJ’s fashion sense. Hello Blair Waldorf in book form… wait was gossip girl a book series… okay maybe that sentence doesn’t stand true… but you know what I mean.
She bakes! I need to get a list of awesome  books where the characters bake throughout it’s pages? Wouldn’t that be the perfect themed book club? You make all of the recipes while you talk about your book?  (I know, I know… I’m an idea girl. Oh what was that? People have been doing book clubs like that for years? Oh…)
I also like the name Margot.  Which is really random to mention- but in case you were wondering it means pearl in French.  Why do I know that? I liked it so much I looked it up. You’re welcome.

what i didn't like
If you’ve read this book already do not kill me for this answer. And let me also tell you that this is a reread for me, so…  I don’t like Peter K.  I know, I know, the heart wants what it wants.  When LJ and Peter actually converse alone, she usually seemed annoyed with his style (the constant “you’re welcome” response), and she mentions more than once that she just can’t stay mad at him.  So that means that she was consistently mad at him.  Just didn’t seem like the making of a long-lasting and solid relationship to hope for. #relationshipgoals
I also didn’t like the best friend of Chris.   That’s LJ’s best friend?  I get why she’s written in the book, she pushed LJ.  But she doesn’t really seem like a good friend.
It ends on a cliffhanger. LAME.

while reading you should
Watch:  the movie on Netflix!
Read:  a romance novel (She reads them in the book!)
Buy: the next two books, because it’s a trilogy and they end on cliffhangers!
Eat: snickerdoodles (The first cookies she makes in the book!)
Listen: You Belong with Me by Taylor Swift

when to read
This really COULD be read anytime because it’s super cute- but they do mention the holidays quite a bit in this movie- so I say Thanksgiving and Christmas time!

if you would like to buy
Click here.

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Obsidio (The Illuminae Files_03) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

 

official blurb
Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion? Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.

my blurb!
The exciting conclusion to the Illuminae Files trilogy, featuring new characters and challenges.

4 out of 5
There are potential spoilers of the FIRST TWO books in this review- as this is the third and final book of the trilogy.

So the first book came out 2015- so three years later I’m reading the conclusion. For the life of me I can’t remember what happened in those first two books! Characters? Nope. Plot points? Nope. Luckily they do give hints of the previous books to reacquaint you with the characters.  It’s not a full rundown of the first 2 books, but I’ll take it.

what i liked
I liked getting a better view into the main characters lives- what was going on with them pre invasion.  I liked seeing their lives after the peak of drama in their respective books!
I liked the crazy layout that kept up with the previous two books.
I liked the crazy plot (I was never surprised by the “twists” BUT there was still plenty going on and I enjoyed the progression).

what i didn't like
I didn’t love the two new characters introduced in this book. Their story didn’t get me, they were afterthoughts to me and I think they could’ve been developed better.  I was about 150 pages into this 615 page book and it felt a little slower than I was expecting- but I think that was because I didn’t connect with Rhys and Asha.
What I REALLY didn’t like was AIDEN’s super weird relationship with Kady- that wasn’t one sided.  It was creepy and weird to me and reminded me a little bit of stockholm syndrome.  It took personification to a whole new level and I didn’t like it.

Overall, this is a great conclusion to the trilogy. In a world where the third book always lets down – this one doesn’t.  I still like the first book the best, but this one was an exciting conclusion to a fun sci-fi out-of-the-box trilogy!

If you would like to buy this book click here

when to read
Winter! There are a LOT of mentions of being freezing cold on Kereneza IV in this book. So icy cold weather would be the perfect reading companion to this book.

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