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.

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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 : guilty pleasures. (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!

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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

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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!

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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!

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Faking it Under the Mistletoe by Ashley Shepherd

faking it under the mistletoe

official blurb
Olivia Langley is the human embodiment of Christmas cheer, and she has absolutely no problem spreading it around for all to hear. Christmas sweaters? She has twenty. Christmas cookies? She’ll take three dozen. Christmas movies? Yeah, she’s seen them all. So it’s no surprise when she’s put in charge of Loveridge & McGowan’s holiday festivities. Secret Santas? Yep. Ice skating? Of course. Holiday trivia? Duh. Christmas-themed bar crawl? That’s one big jingle bell hell yes. Kissing her boss at a Christmas tree lighting in front of his ex-girlfriend? Well… it is the season of giving. And Olivia does not come with a gift receipt. No exchanges. No returns. No refunds. All sales are final. In an effort to ungrinch the grinchiest man she’s ever met, Olivia enlists herself, Santa’s Executive Helper, to scheme up a plan that includes sleigh rides, snow days, and one too many mistletoe kisses, which certainly gets Asher’s tinsel in a tangle. She’s pretty sure that she sleighed this whole fake relationship thing. Well… until she realizes there’s nothing fake about her feelings for Asher, and suddenly tangled tinsel, unsolicited Christmas trees, and celebrity heartthrobs are the least of her worries.

my blurb!
A Hallmark loving intern pretends to be dating her boss when she sees how upset he is at a company event after his breakup.

5 out of 5

🔥🔥.5 out of 5 steam level

This book is REQUIRED READING FOR ROMANCE LOVERS!

I’d seen this book around Instagram and people seemed to almost entirely love it! So when I snagged a Kindle unlimited deal for a few months I knew this one needed to be at the top of my list!

Now it opens the book with a trigger warning and I’ll open my review with that as well- this book has a trigger warning involving a sexual predator storyline and sexual harassment. It is not descriptive or suspenseful in this storyline.

what i liked
I read this book in one sitting and loved it! There are Hallmark movie references and even a reference to Lifetime making Christmas movies! (If you follow me on Instagram… And you should!… You know I’ve been watching and reviewing ALL of the Christmas movies this year! Check out my Instagram highlights!)
There was even a reference to my FAVORITE bakery in all of New York City, Le Vain Bakery. (Sidenote I make these knock off cookies and they’re amazing. You’re welcome.) Olivia, our heroine, is struggling to make ends meet. She is sassy and confident in personality and in her body (this is rare for me to mention in a heroine because it’s honestly rare to read about!) Her personality flaw would be that she doesn’t like disappointing people and will help anyone to the point of meddling.
The plot is funny and moves quickly, I was surprised how many drama points fit into it without it bothering me remotely.
Asher, our main man, was really overly grumpy in the beginning. It almost turned me off of him but I’m so glad I stuck with him because I ended up loving him!

what i didn't like
My biggest wish list is that I wish there was a chapter from his perspective from what he thought of her in the beginning or when he started to fall for her… Maybe a reminiscing chapter where he tells her! Fingers crossed there will be a newsletter with a novella or something!!!

 

This book features an enemies to lovers trope, a Grinch trope, fake relationship and coworkers trope!

when to read
This book is best read between Thanksgiving and Christmas. BUT, full disclosure, I read it the day after Christmas. So I think in general it should be a winter read!

while reading you should
Listen to some of my favorite Christmas music!
-Johnnyswim’s Christmas Album
-Ben Rector’s Christmas Album
-The Christmas Song by Lauren Daigle
-Amy Grant’s Christmas Album
-The Pentatonix Christmas Album
(okay, you got me. I love Christmas music! What can I say?!)

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Code of Conduct (Cipher Security #1) by April White

20190718_CS01_Code of Conduct_White_KDP_FINAL

arc review

official blurb
There are three things you need to know about Shane P.I.
1) P.I. is not her last name, it’s her job title, 2) Her specialty is catching cheaters, and 3) She’s a superhuman – kind of. Gabriel is a security expert for Cipher Security, and a former UN Peacekeeper with a fierce protective streak that finds its focus on the beautiful P.I. Their attraction is like an elephant in a room full of breakable things, and figuring out how to trust each other with their hearts, and maybe their lives, is the most fragile thing of all.

4 out of 5(If you’re reading this book you’re PROBABLY a fan of Smartpants Romances and in that case within this specific world, I think that could up this book to 5/5 stars!  As a stand alone romance it is 4/5 stars)
🔥🔥🔥 out of  5 Steam Level

 

what i liked
The dedication is a quote from love hacked by Penny Reid. That just made me feel like this author was really appreciative of being able to write in her universe and it started me off on the right foot for the book!
I loved EVERY quote that started out the chapter sections in this book! I swear I highlighted every single one.  You had SO much character overlap with this one! (From the Knitting in the City series) It was amazing!
It also had a lower steam level than the other books in this SmartyPants Romance series so far! I love being able to recommend a romance with a low steam level!
There were big topics being talked about- being black in America, being black and being found with a gun, moving on from past ghosts, having a physical disability, being underestimated. I mean it was everything and it was well done.
Lots of superhero talk for the Marvel and DC fans. A mystery to solve and a slow burn. It was such a fun read, I loved every minute of it!
This was everything I was hoping for in the SmartyPants Romance series!  I can’t wait to pick up some more books from this author!

while reading you should
Read- Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama
Listen to- The Hamilton Soundtrack
Watch- A Marvel Movie… Might as well start with Iron Man!

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