Baking Me Crazy (Donner Bakery #1) by Karla Sorensen

baking me crazy

official blurb
I’m Levi Buchanan, and until five years ago, I thought the legend of my family’s curse was a load of crazy, Southern nonsense. No curse can make you fall in love at first sight. No curse can force a true, deep, passionate, all-consuming love that will haunt you all the days of your life. Then I met Jocelyn Abernathy and I realized how completely wrong I was. The problem is, Jocelyn guards her feelings like well-armed soldier. She’s the most beautiful, stubborn, infuriating woman I’ve ever met. Every time she talks, I want to kiss the living daylights out of her. But I can’t. Because when we met, she didn’t need true love. She needed a best friend. And that’s what I’ve been to her… for five years. But when Jocelyn meets a handsome stranger her first day working at Donner Bakery and she lets him buy her a dill pickle cupcake, I realize with ominous regret that I may have missed my window with my best friend. If I can’t get her to see past our friendship, my new curse may be to watch the love of my life move on with someone else.

my blurb!
A story of a “frelationship” where one person is finally ready to change the rules.

 

arc review

3.5 stars
🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

 

what i liked
Ah! My first book in the Penny-verse!  Don’t know what I mean? Well, Penny Reid (who you’ve read me ranting and raving about with her Knitting in the City series and her Winston Brothers series) has agreed to let other authors write books based in the world she created!  This is the first of the books to come out (I think they’re all classified as Smartypants Romances) and I was so excited to get my hands on it!
It was so fun to get little glimpses of characters I love – but the overlap was pretty minimal.  Nonetheless even the mention of places I have in my head from the other book is still exciting to me.
Levi, our main hero, also had chapters from his perspective and I loved those! He was really likable and made you root for him.  Seriously, I was team Levi from the first chapter I read from him.
Let’s talk about how romance books are the most inclusive books ever.  Want to find a genre that you can see yourself in? Well, look no further than romance! In this case our heroine, Jocelyn, is in a wheelchair.  I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the entire book the main character is in a wheelchair.  Three cheers for inclusivity!
There were some characters mentioned that I can’t wait to see again, or find out what their stories are! I read this book within a week and enjoyed my time with it.  If you’re a fan of the Penny-verse you will enjoy this book!

what i didn't like
I had a hard time bonding with the heroine in this book. Everyone seemed to love her but she was prickly and not prickly lovable to me. Maybe more on the side of drama and bitchy.  I know that’s a strong word but it’s the word that came to mind multiple times while reading the chapters from Jocelyn’s perspective.
I mentioned loving the chapters from Levi’s perspective. And I did! But it should be noted…the way that he wooed her I thought could’ve been even better.  I didn’t have a moment while reading where I thought, “I wish could be wooed this way!”
I would’ve loved to have even more baking scenes in this book, especially based off of the title. It seemed like Levi’s mom (a side character) might have been the biggest baker in the book!

Again, I think that Penny fans will really enjoy this book, but I didn’t laugh out loud, or swoon greatly so it won’t make any must-read lists for me.

while reading you should
Do: Bake bread
Go: try a new flavor of cupcake at a local bakery (maybe not pickle though)
Listen to: My Best Friend by Tim Mcgraw

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On the Corner Between Love and Hate by Nina Bocci

on the corner of love and hate

official blurb
What’s a campaign manager’s worst nightmare? A smooth-talking charmer who’s never met a scandal that he didn’t like. When Emmanuelle Peroni’s father—and mayor of her town—asks her to help rehab Cooper Endicott’s image, she’s horrified. Cooper drives her crazy in every way possible. But he’s also her father’s protégé, and she can’t say no to him without him finding out the reason why: Cooper and her have a messy past. So Emmanuelle reluctantly launches her father’s grand plan to get this Casanova someone to settle down with and help him lose his lothario reputation.  Cooper Endicott wanted to run for Mayor, but he never wanted the drama that went with it. Now that he’s on the political hamster wheel, the other candidates are digging up everything from his past. Even though he’s doing all the right things, his colorful love life is the sticking point for many of the conservative voters. He wants to win, badly, and he knows that if he wants any chance of getting a vote from the female population, he needs to change his image. The only problem? He might just be falling in love with the one person he promised not to pursue: the Mayor’s off-limits daughter.

my blurb!
Two friends who were in a long term frelationship gone awry, now try to coexist as coworkers.

3.5 stars

                                                               🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

 

what i liked
This book was really funny. It actually started out funnier than it ended, but I still laughed quite a few times throughout it. I wonder if there will be a companion book because there are so many characters described in the friendship group that seemed to have enough of a backstory to warrant other books!
I liked all the scenes at her apartment… does she need a hypothetical roommate?  Because I’m available.  The town she lived in was really cute, I could totally live there! Definitely Stars Hollow vibes.
Her parents were really enjoyable.  I loved the scenes featuring her mom.
For the amount of sexual innuendos that were present in this book – I was expecting the actual steam level to be a lot higher than it was. I think this will be a really good book for fans of the unHoneymooners who like a low steam novel!
I read this book really quickly!  It was honestly almost four stars, you’ll have to read on to find out why it wasn’t!
You know when two characters really dislike each other and you read the whole book and you’re like… wait what was the big deal? This book explained why she had hatred for Cooper really well.  It made a lot of sense and I appreciated that.
So, this also turned out to be a second chance romance…which I tend to really dislike. So overall this rated a lot higher than most second chance romances I read!

what i didn't like
It featured my least favorite thing in a book where the characters in love with somebody but once they can get together they’re not sure if they actually want to be with them… which is annoying to read about. It would have benefited from dual point of view chapters. Cooper’s POV could have explained the scenario with his “girlfriend” a lot better than the book did – so that left me wanting more.
So, I almost gave it four stars but I can’t get over the annoyance of a character who isn’t sure if she is in love with somebody or not, and then thinks she’s in love with them, but then isn’t sure if she should be with him because it’ll change the friendship. Kind of gave me Josh and Hazel vibes in that sense. I just find that plot point to be really annoying.  I root for someone who wants something and finally gets it. Not for someone who wants something and gets it and then turns it down because it’s now “too real.”

I would definitely pick up other books by this author I really enjoyed her writing style and if she does write companion books for the series, I would read them!

arc review

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The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

the unhoneymooners

Thank you Netgalley and Gallery Books for the copy of this book. Even though this book was free, it in no way affected my opinion of it!

official blurb
Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.  Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.  Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

my blurb!
An unlucky twin is awarded a trip to paradise, the only catch being that she has to take the vacation with her least favorite person.

4.5 out of 5                                                                1.5  / 5 steam level

what i liked
Wow this book was so funny you guys! Because I read an Advanced Readers Copy (ARC), I can’t give you quotes until it comes out. But I loved this book and laughed out loud multiple times! I’ve read a few of Christina Lauren’s books now and they are great romcom writers!  I feel like if I’m in a book funk or wanting to be generally cheered up then I automatically reach for a Christina Lauren or an R.S. Grey book!
Now this book is a romcom, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it isn’t amazing and that it doesn’t tackle bigger topics.  (I see you, romcom hater!)  Believing the voice of women? Check. Perception changing your circumstances? Check. Honestly, the book was deeper than I was expecting it to be! And I loved that! Big tallies in the pro column for me.
Let’s go ahead and give a big holler for featuring one of my favorite tropes in a book! Enemies to lovers! *Holler!!!*  The only storyline I like more than enemies to lovers is fake relationship. Guess what…. this book featured both! *gasp!* I know, I’m telling you, run- don’t walk – and go buy this book!
The Unhoneymooners also featured a lower steam level then I am used to from CL.  This is a definite pro for me, because in general I tend to enjoy a book more if it’s not a 5 steam level. And this was nowhere near 5 flames of steaminess!
I have read quite a few stories featuring twins in the last year (99 Percent Mine, The Identicals).  This was the first book  which featured twins that were likable!! It was seriously a breath of fresh air. Finally twins I could get behind!!!  And truthfully don’t we all kind of root for twins? I blame the Parent Trap – it made me pro twin!

what i didn't like
You guys know that I love an epilogue. This book featured one! I know, you’re wondering why this is in the negative column for the book then.  Hold your horses little miss horsey holder! (Gilmore Girls reference anyone?).  The characters were together for like 2 weeks and their relationship progressed so quickly. It seemed as if they had been together for years.  Then there’s the epilogue which is like one year later. I was surprised at where the characters were. I expected them to be further along relationally. There was something about it that made me think they still didn’t know each other that well.  I don’t know, it just didn’t flow with who the characters were and where their relationship was for the whole book.  Which in turn made me like their relationship less because I felt like they were tiptoeing around each other.
Overall this negative aspect didn’t detract too much for me and I would still definitely recommend this book.

while reading you should
Do: get a firm grip on your stance about buffets. Pro or Con? I’m personally con.
Listen: To this playlist I created on Spotify
Eat: something made to order… because hopefully at this point you’ve realized you don’t like buffets.

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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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Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella

official blurb
Meet Emma Corrigan, a young woman with a huge heart, an irrepressible spirit, and a few little secrets: Secrets from her boyfriend: I’ve always thought Connor looks a bit like Ken. As in Barbie and Ken. Secrets from her mother: I lost my virginity in the spare bedroom with Danny Nussbaum while Mum and Dad were downstairs watching Ben-Hur. Secrets she wouldn’t share with anyone in the world: I have no idea what NATO stands for. Or even what it is. Until she spills them all to a handsome stranger on a plane. At least, she thought he was a stranger.…Until Emma comes face-to-face with Jack Harper, the company’s elusive CEO, a man who knows every single humiliating detail about her…

my blurb!
Bridget Jones’ personality meets plot with boss relationship.

3.25 out of 5

what i liked
This book was laugh out loud funny.
I love cringe worthy embarrassing moments and this was full of them.  Seriously, so many cringeworthy moments.  If this was a movie, I would be watching it through my fingers.
This was my first Sophia Kinsella book and she lived up to the hype with her witty writing.  Here’s an excerpt from the very beginning of the very first chapter:
Of course I have secrets.  Of course I do. Everyone has a few secrets.  It’s completely normal.  I’m not talking about big, earth-shattering secrets.  Not the-president-is-planning-to-bomb-Japan-and-only-Will-Smill-can-save-the-world type secrets.  Just normal everyday little secrets. Like for example… I have no idea what NATO stands for. Or even exactly what it is.
You smiled while you were reading that, right? It’s just funny!

what i didn't like
I didn’t feel the total love between the two mains. That made it automatically in the 3 star range regardless of the funny situations and writing.  I mean, correct me if I’m wrong (I’m obviously not) but in a romcom, you should TOTALLY be obsessed with the characters getting together!
I also didn’t like one of the friends- Jemima (Also, who’s named that?)  –  why were they even friends? I didn’t get that at all.

while reading you should
Research: a super secret restaurant near you
Attend: a local dance performance
Share: a random secret with a stranger

if you would like to buy
Click here.

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