Always Only You (The Bergman Brothers #2) by Chloe Liese

always only you

 

official blurb
Ren: The moment I met her, I knew Frankie Zeferino was someone worth waiting for. Deadpan delivery, secret heart of gold, and a rare one-dimpled smile that makes my knees weak, Frankie has been forbidden since the day she and I became coworkers, meaning waiting has been the name of my game—besides, hockey, that is. I’m a player on the team, she’s on staff, and as long as we work together, dating is off-limits. But patience has always been my virtue. Frankie won’t be here forever—she’s headed for bigger, better things. I just hope that when she leaves the team and I tell her how I feel, she won’t want to leave me behind, too. Frankie: I’ve had a problem at work since the day Ren Bergman joined the team: a six foot three hunk of happy with a sunshine smile. I’m a grumbly grump and his ridiculously good nature drives me nuts, but even I can’t entirely ignore that hot tamale of a ginger with icy eyes, the perfect playoff beard, and a body built for sin that he’s annoyingly modest about. Before I got wise, I would have tripped over myself to get a guy like Ren, but with my diagnosis, I’ve learned what I am to most people in my life—a problem, not a person. Now, opening my heart to anyone, no matter how sweet, is the last thing I’m prepared to do.

5 out of 5

🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 steam level

 

what i liked

Well that was perfectly delightful in every way. Soren is the book boyfriend of my dreams. I’m mildly obsessed with him. Chivalrous, saving himself for love, athletic, gorgeous, kind, thoughtful…oh did I mention he uses Shakespearean lingo instead of cursing? (Not to say that there isn’t cursing in the book, because there is). If someone is picturing him as an actor, let me know because I could NOT get a picture in my head!

Edit 7/23/2020: Okay Chloe, being the nicest author ever, sent me her mood board for inspiration behind Ren and Frankie! Okay technically it’s not a mood board but I really wanted to use that term.  Without further ado, here is the inspiration!

Screenshot_20200723-111711

Frankie is the author’s #ownvoices portrayal of an autistic heroine. She (Frankie not Chloe) also lived with physical disabilities that made her even easier for me to relate to being a chronic pain sufferer myself.  She was amazing. Witty, obsessed with Harry Potter…need I go on? (Don’t worry, if you’re irritated with JK Rowling, this was addressed super well in the book!)

Listen I just think the Bergman Brothers are just going to be like family to me. They will be another Winston Brothers family that I feel like I know, and I definitely love. I can see myself rereading all of the books in this series! (I know there are only two so far but they’re amazing so I’m taking that stance now). Ps. If you want to read my review for the first book in this series then check out Only When It’s Us right here.

I was smile reading so many times while I read this.  I would laugh out loud.  I would roll my eyes with Ren and cringe through my fingers through some embarrassing moments.  All of that to say that I was in this book while I was reading it!  

Tropes include: “Always Only You is an opposites-attract, forbidden love sports romance about a nerdy, late-blooming hockey star, and his tough cookie coworker who keeps both her soft side and her autism diagnosis* to herself. Complete with a meddling secretary, tantric yoga torture, and a scorching slow burn, this standalone is the second in a series of novels about a Swedish-American family of five brothers, two sisters, and their wild adventures as they each find happily ever after.”

Seriously you guys, this series is gold. Liquid gold.  Okay… I don’t even know why I said that… but it’s a thing people say right? Anyways, it obviously made my list for Required Reading for Romance Lovers.  Read it! Read it!  …I mean, I think you should read it. 

while reading you should
Watch: Miracle. (I mean you should watch this movie at least once a year because it is one of my all time favorite movies.  But also this book has hockey in it so it works!)
Listen to: an audiobook of Pride and Prejudice
Do: Meet up with your book club.  Points if your book club is reading this steamy romcom.

DuxSignature smallercopy

 

 

 

Only When It’s Us (The Bergman Brothers #1) by Chloe Liese

only when it's us

official blurb
Ryder :Ever since she sat next to me in class and gave me death eyes, Willa Sutter’s been on my shit list. Why she hates me, I don’t know. What I do know is that Willa is the kind of chaos I don’t need in my tidy life. She’s the next generation of women’s soccer. Wild hair, wilder eyes. Bee-stung lips that should be illegal. And a temper that makes the devil seem friendly. She’s a thorn in my side, a menacing, cantankerous, pain-in-the-ass who’s turned our Business Mathematics course into a goddamn gladiator arena. I’ll leave this war zone unscathed, coming out on top…And if I have my way with that crazy-haired, ball-busting hellion, that will be in more than one sense of the word. Willa: Rather than give me the lecture notes I missed like every other instructor I’ve had, my asshole professor tells me to get them from the silent, surly flannel-wearing mountain man sitting next to me in class. Well, I tried. And what did I get from Ryder Bergman? Ignored. What a complete lumbersexual neanderthal. Mangy beard and mangier hair. Frayed ball cap that hides his eyes. And a stubborn refusal to acknowledge my existence. I’ve battled men before, but with Ryder, it’s war. I’ll get those notes and crack that Sasquatch nut if it’s the last thing I do, then I’ll have him at my mercy. Victory will have never tasted so sweet.

 

5 out of 5🔥🔥🔥🔥  out of 5 steam level

REQUIRED READING FOR ROMANCE LOVERS

 

Omg I am not going to be able to move on from this book anytime soon. I’m obsessed. Buy me a flannel shirt and throw me a soccer ball bc I am implanting myself into the lives of Willa and Ryder and I’m never leaving. Seriously. Never. Leaving.

I guess I should start from the beginning. This is a steamy romcom and I would feel confident saying that but it’s also a drama. So let’s say steamy romcomdrom.

What makes the book unique is the characters not “completing” each other. You know what I mean… Tom cruise made it famous but it’s lived on well past Jerry Maguire. The characters are living through a lot of intensity and they grow and address it with therapy and taking chances on themselves. With opening up to their friends and family and just trying to keep trying.  But they don’t start dating and suddenly their lives are good.  I really liked this aspect and didn’t realize I was missing it in a lot of other reads!

There were SO many lines I loved in this book. I’ll leave you some teasers here that I think capture the book well:

Refastening my grip on her hair, I dig in my jeans for a hankie. Yes, a hankie. Cloth over Kleenex gives Mother Nature a hug.

I thought I was past grieving what I lost, but maybe grief isn’t linear. Maybe I can accept what I’ve lost and still mourn it. Maybe I always will.

I laughed and cried while reading it. I stayed up WAY too late (thank you insomnia) and read it in two sittings. And I am telling you- I want back in!!! The good news is I get to hang out with Willa and Ryder again bc there will be a second book featuring another Bergman brother out at some point. (Cue me pre-ordering it STAT).

This was my first Chloe Liese book but CLEARLY will not be my last. I loved it! Hence the required reading status. Oh and did I mention you can read it for free with Kindle unlimited?! I mean… You’re welcome.

Okay one last praise for the book. The banter was very Gilmore Girls – ish. The Willa thoughts had me LOLing and feeling like we were part of the Ya Ya Sisterhood of Gilmore Girls fandom.

Did I say I was done praising the book? Because I lied.  Oh come on, it’s not that big of a deal, right? We still have trust?  This book featured a lot of soccer.  One of my favorite sports!  (Seriously, it’s not abnormal for me to really irritate people around me with my profound belief that the USWNT could beat the USMNT in a scrimmage…) And I loved reading a book that feature this sport in all of it’s amazing goodness.  

I think you’ll like this book: well I guess first you have to like steamy romcoms, but also if you grew up reading The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (bridget…soccer… just saying). Also if you liked The Winston Brothers series (bearded men!)

Tropes: Enemies to lovers, slow burn, college romance, sports romance.
Content warnings: (If you don’t like these, skip the next line!)
cancer, loss of a loved one.

while reading you should
Eat: Tacos, or Swedish meatballs
Do: go out and juggle the soccer ball
Listen to: 
Things I’ll Never Say by Avril Lavigne
When You Move by Parachute
Song Beneath the Song by Maria Mena
These Times by Safetysuit
Won’t Go Home Without You by Maroon 5
Never Stop by Safetysuit

DuxSignature smallercopy

What You Wish For by Katherine Center

what you wish for

arc review

official blurb
Samantha Casey loves everything about her job as an elementary school librarian on the sunny, historic island of Galveston, Texas—the goofy kids, the stately Victorian building, the butterfly garden. But when the school suddenly loses its beloved principal, it turns out his replacement will be none other than Duncan Carpenter—a former, unrequited crush of Sam’s from many years before. When Duncan shows up as her new boss, though, he’s nothing like the sweet teacher she once swooned over. He’s become stiff, and humorless, and obsessed with school safety. Now, with Duncan determined to destroy everything Sam loves about her school in the name of security—and turn it into nothing short of a prison—Sam has to stand up for everyone she cares about before the school that’s become her home is gone for good.

5 out of 5


 

REQUIRED READING FOR FICTION LOVERS

Ah! Let’s start with the fact that I loved this book! I was so nervous yet excited to read it because I adored Happiness For Beginners.  (If you didn’t know, this book is a stand alone book but it is a companion to HFB with some crossover characters).  I love love loved this book! It was a warm cup of coffee, a cozy sweater and the perfect playlist wrapped up in the impeccable writing of Katherine Center.

There were SO many quotes throughout this book that I made a note of.  I read an advanced readers copy so I can’t quote it for you. But you’re going to have to trust me that the writing you expect from Katherine Center does not let down in this book!  In fact it lets you up …okay so that’s not a thing, but it should be.

Remember in HFB, that I raved about it being a fiction book to support my gratitude lifestyle?  What You Wish For also keeps up with the theme of gratitude.  (If you want a reprisal of my love for all things gratitude then read my review for The Gratitude Diaries).  Seriously I love this theme so much – the characters in Katherine Center’s books do not  have perfect lives, but they search to see the best in their circumstances.  It was a very compelling theme to read in this time of coronavirus.  It left me feeling hopeful.  What a gift!

Did I mention that I was smile reading throughout most of this book?  By chapter ten or eleven I knew that I did not want to put the book down without finishing it.  There were a couple of roller coasters on the way to the ending. (You know, that feeling that an event in the book must be the climax, only to continue reading and think that the following events must be the stories climax).  I was happily along for the ride the entire way.

If I could change one thing about this book, it would be that I want a bonus chapter from Duncan’s perspective.  Specifically when he has to assume the caretaker role.  That’s all I’ll say.

Here comes my content warnings (previously called trigger warnings) if you find these to be spoilers then don’t read the next line:
Content warnings include: gun violence, school shootings, loss of a loved one.

while reading you should
Dress: In your favorite outfit featuring bright colors and/or fun patterns
Do: Go to a carnival.  Well… this is kind of a lie from me because I hate carnival rides. But if you’re into them then you should totally go while reading this book.
Eat: chocolate chip cookies.  This has nothing to do with the book but they make me happy.

DuxSignature smallercopy

Crave by Tracy Wolff

crave

official blurb
My whole world changed when I stepped inside the academy. Nothing is right about this place or the other students in it. Here I am, a mere mortal among gods…or monsters. I still can’t decide which of these warring factions I belong to, if I belong at all. I only know the one thing that unites them is their hatred of me. Then there’s Jaxon Vega. A vampire with deadly secrets who hasn’t felt anything for a hundred years. But there’s something about him that calls to me, something broken in him that somehow fits with what’s broken in me. Which could spell death for us all. Because Jaxon walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake a sleeping monster, and I’m wondering if I was brought here intentionally—as the bait.

arc review

5 out of 5

Okay I know you might think it’s insane that I’m giving a vampire book five stars but, listen – this book was 572 pages of awesomeness. Okay so it’s not on my list of required reading for fiction lovers, but it IS on my list of required reading : paranormal reads. (If you’re keeping track, so far this list includes a book about a fallen angel and now a book about a vampire).

what i liked
-I found the characters super likable! I wanted even more scenes about Macy (is it weird that we really barely see her interact with her boyfriend? I mean, it’s not like there wasn’t time… 570+ pages!).
-I zoomed through reading this, I was always looking forward to picking it up and I never wanted to put it down.  If I read this on an ebook on my kindle I would’ve read it through the night for sure.
-Jaxon. Jaxon. Jaxon. That is all. I could go on, but Grace will for me in the book so I won’t.
-Grace… okay I wasn’t obsessed with her but generally I tend to get annoyed with main characters in books like these. I couldn’t make my way through The Mortal Instruments series completely because of Clary.  So Grace was a welcome change.  While I’ve never read twilight (I know, I need to rectify that STAT!) I have seen the movies.  And Kristen Stewart in those movies (picture as many eye roll emojis as humanly possible right here, okay?).  Anyways, I was expecting Grace to be reminiscent of Bella in twilight.
-All of the fantastical creatures! (no spoilers from me!)
-The library featured in the book.  I know that’s random but this is my review, what are you going to do about it?!

what i didn't like
The cheese level in this book is REAL.  The insta-love is there…. it is strong…the smell of it is wafting.  (Okay, I think you get it).
The first interaction between Jaxon and Grace was so incredibly bizarre.  I could not get over it.  Who physically touches someone when they first interact…prior to even exchanging names?!  Who, I ask you?!
I couldn’t get a good grip on what Jaxon actually looked like because all Grace kept observing was something along the lines of… (and i’m paraphrasing here) “Jaxon’s eyes…looking into my soul. Knowing me somehow. Showing me the despair that only he could detect deep within my own bones.”  So yeah… I couldn’t figure out what he looked like.
Listen… I realize the “do not like” list is long for a five star book. I rarely even write anything under this header when a book ranks 5 stars.  But that’s why it’s in my guilty pleasures list. Because… yes there were some flaws, but omg it was so good!

while reading you should
Watch: Legacies (you can binge it on Netflix!)
Listen to: Autumn Leaves by Miles Davis
Do: hydrate… you can never drink too much water!

Okay, last but not least, I’m gonna include one of my favorite scenes in the book (there were a lot to choose from but I feel like I need to sell you on this book because I loved it.  Some would even go so far as to say, I devoured it.   … see what I did there? Also, lets go ahead and be annoyed together that Grace doesn’t use punctuation when she texts)  :

Jaxon: It’s supposed to be a warning
Jaxon: Winky kiss emoji

Me: Of what?
Jaxon: Things that go bump in the night
Jaxon: You never can be too careful
Me: I like scary stories
Jaxon: But do you like the monsters in them?
Me: I guess it depends on the monster
Jaxon: I guess we’ll see, then, won’t we?
Me: I don’t know what that means

You’re hooked right?! Go read this book and then tell me all about your feelings because you will have them all when you read them! Oh… I guess I should also mention that this is book one and book two does not come out for a year.  Oopsies.  But still… go read it!

DuxSignature smallercopy

Yours Truly, Cammie by SJ Sylvis

yours truly cammie

5 out of 5🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

REQUIRED READING FOR ROMANCE LOVERS

official blurb
I follow one rule in life: Don’t get involved with a Marine. After this past year of heart-wrenching misery, and an entire childhood as daughter of one of the highest ranked officers in the Marine Corps, I’ve had enough of saying goodbye. I’ve had enough heartbreak to last me a lifetime. But in an attempt to avoid an awkward run-in with a previous blind date, whom I may or may not have abandoned mid-dinner, I found myself standing in an exam room with Lucas Wells. He was exceptionally handsome on the outside, but the second he started to run that egotistical mouth of his, I wanted to do one of two things: smack him or kiss him. Lucas Wells, the United States Marine, has me bending my rule in more ways than one. But the real question is, will I succumb to breaking my rule altogether, or will he break me before I even get the chance? This was a reread of this book for me. I loved it the first time and I still devoured it the second time.  (That’s such a weird sentence to write about a book that it almost makes me uncomfortable but it also made me laugh, so I kept it.)

what i liked
I love Luke.  Did SJ Sylvis choose his name because she’s a Gilmore Girls fan? I don’t know but I will pretend the answer is yes. (Even though we all know that I’m team Christopher).
Speaking of Gilmore Girls there is room full of sunflowers scene in this book that is VERY reminiscent to a room filled with daisies.  If you know, you know.
I liked Cammie’s BFF named Jojo. I like it when the characters have a good crew around them.
I recently started watching Hart of Dixie (which the author also watches)  and there’s a very lovable character in the show named Wade. He refers to the main character in the show as “Doc” the whole time.  And Luke in the book always refers to Cammie as “Doc” (even though she’s a nurse).  I personally liked this nickname! I know, I’ve complained a lot in the past about cutesie nicknames in romance novels. But I liked this one, what can I say?
This book is hilarious.  I laughed out loud a lot at how ridiculous Cammie’s train of thought was because I was so here for it!  Here are some examples:

“He was what you’d call a nice, tall glass of water. Actually, I almost felt as if I needed some water to moisten my now drying mouth. Jesus, take me now.”

“Whenever I’d acted bitchy (read as: beautifully sarcastic and witty) toward someone, it was only ever because I either: (1) knew the person really well, so they knew I was kidding, or (2) knew that I would never see them again.”

Trigger Warnings:
If you do not like reading a book with cussing, then this book is not for you.
If you do not like a book with a high steam level, this book is not for you. (4 out of 5 steam level according to my steam meter)
This book features the loss of a loved on, specifically a military loss.

I read this book quickly both times I read it. It even features multiple epilogues- You know I’m a sucker for an epilogue!

what i didn't like
I really love this book- hence the required reading on my romance novel list status.  I would say if there’s something that readers won’t like about this book it is maybe how little we actually know about Luke. Or maybe the way that Cammie deals with conflict.  I wasn’t bothered by either of these very much.  But I would TOTALLY be down with a novella from Luke’s perspective.  Maybe a second book featuring Luke’s brother featured in the epilogue and then Luke can be in it too?!  I know, I’m an idea girl- and I only require 2% of the commission from these ideas! (Just kidding, SJ Sylvis, write more about these two!!!! )

when to read
Because this is required reading- you can read it anytime. BUT I recommend it during warmer weather, or during a crazy rain storm.

while reading you should
Watch: Gilmore Girls and Hart of Dixie
Eat: chocolate chips
Do: prank someone
Listen to: Nothing But You by Bob Moses

DuxSignature

Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

happiness for beginners

official blurb
A year after getting divorced, Helen Carpenter, thirty-two, lets her annoying, ten years younger brother talk her into signing up for a wilderness survival course. It’s supposed to be a chance for her to pull herself together again, but when she discovers that her brother’s even-more-annoying best friend is also coming on the trip, she can’t imagine how it will be anything other than a disaster. Thus begins the strangest adventure of Helen’s well-behaved life: three weeks in the remotest wilderness of a mountain range in Wyoming where she will survive mosquito infestations, a surprise summer blizzard, and a group of sorority girls.Yet, despite everything, the vast wilderness has a way of making Helen’s own little life seem bigger, too. And, somehow the people who annoy her the most start teaching her the very things she needs to learn. Like how to stand up for herself. And how being scared can make you brave. And how sometimes you just have to get really, really lost before you can even have a hope of being found.

my blurb!
A girl who deserves better out of life decides to go on a trip where she hopes to leave with the gumption to demand better.  Also there’s a cute guy involved.

 

Okay remember how I was slightly (read: entirely) obsessed with How To Walk Away by Katherine Center?  I had so many people talking to me about this other book by her that I needed to read (I’m looking at you Kate and Joee)!  But for some reason I just never read it.  Maybe because it reminded me of Wild which I couldn’t get through?  But I finally read an ebook copy when it came in for me at the library.  Truth be told this was at least the third time I secured the ebook from the library, but I finally read it this time!  And woah… two words – freaking amazing. (I already ordered myself a copy and started annotating it).

5 out of 5

🔥 out of 5 steam level

REQUIRED READING FOR FICTION LOVERS

 

what i liked
Omg, what didn’t I like would be an easier question!!!  I’m slightly obsessed with Jake.  I was hooked on this book at the end of the first chapter.  Like couldn’t put it down, couldn’t stop thinking about it, knew I would buy it – kind of hooked.  At 60% of the way through I messaged my best friend and said “You really don’t have a choice with this question- but do you want to read this book?”  (She is going to read it of course… because she has amazing taste.  In books and in friends. hah!)
It’s so hard for me to review this without spoilers- but I will say that the message of the book is really on brand with The Gratitude Diaries (are you tired of me talking about that book yet? Too bad! I’ll never stop!!!)
There were approximately 7000 quotes in this book that I highlighted on my kindle. I’m obsessed with Katherine Center’s writing!  I’ve touted it in multiple reviews of her books but honestly- this is her calling. She is such an amazing writer!!!
I heard that Katherine Center’s next book is all about Duncan and I cannot freaking wait!!!! I’m so here for all of her writing but this book spoke to me.  It was a fictional practice of changing your mindset towards positivity. Read it!!!! Drop everything and read it!!!!
Lastly, I think it should be mentioned that I have two toddlers and a two week old newborn.  I should have been sleeping when I was reading this book. Instead I was up two nights in a row reading this. I have zero regrets. That’s how good it was!

while reading you should
Read: The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan
Do: break out some old dance moves to The Cha Cha Slide
Eat: A fish dinner
Do: unfriend exes on social media!
Do: I mean while you’re at it, you might as well go for a walk!

DuxSignature smallercopy

The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan

gratitude diaries

5 out of 5

official blurb
On New Year’s Eve, journalist and former Parade Editor-in-Chief Janice Kaplan makes a promise to be grateful and look on the bright side of whatever happens. She realizes that how she feels over the next months will have less to do with the events that occur than her own attitude and perspective. Getting advice at every turn from psychologists, academics, doctors, and philosophers, she brings readers on a smart and witty journey to discover the value of appreciating what you have. Relying on both amusing personal experiences and extensive research, Kaplan explores how gratitude can transform every aspect of life including marriage and friendship, money and ambition, and health and fitness. She learns how appreciating your spouse changes the neurons of your brain and why saying thanks helps CEOs succeed. Through extensive interviews with experts and lively conversations with real people including celebrities like Matt Damon, Daniel Craig, and Jerry Seinfeld, Kaplan discovers the role of gratitude in everything from our sense of fulfillment to our children’s happiness.

what i liked
Wow, let’s talk about how life changing this book can be if you let it!  But I know we need to get something out of the way first – Janice Kaplan lives a charmed life that most of us will not relate to.  This doesn’t mean that she doesn’t need to practice gratitude and can’t be an expert on it though!

 

I have recommended this book to practically everyone I know.  Because, no joke, this book has made my day to day life so much better!  There are daily practices you can do to practice gratitude.  There are steps to help with you marriage, with your job, with depression.  And let me tell you, it works! 

I love the quotes from philosophers, I love the stats about mental health and how much gratitude can help with mental health.  Most of all I love the actual payoff of reading this book and putting it into practice.  If gratitude is a muscle that you exercise, I am determined to be a ripped body builder.

Add this to your must read list, you won’t regret it!

DuxSignature smallercopy