Review: Shoot the Moon (Seeking Mansfield #2) by Kate Watson

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Despite what his brother—and sponsor—thinks, nineteen year-old Tate Bertram isn’t an addict. He has the 30-day chip to prove it. But when his father learns Tate’s been running an illegal card room out of a friend’s dorm to pay off old gambling debts, Tate is cut off. With his family no longer talking to him, his aunt Nora offers him a chance to intern for her political campaign. Juggling school with the intense internship, Tate finds himself buying scratch-off lottery tickets to take the edge off.

Tate is surprised to find the beautiful and calculating Alex Wolf—his first crush and the girl who taught him how to gamble—volunteering with Nora’s campaign, too. Soon, Tate is more drawn to Alex than ever. Her mind games stick in his head, but her vulnerable, softer side gets into his heart. But as tensions rise along the campaign trail, Tate is forced to question whether he’s really addiction-free, after all.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS meets ROUNDERS in this high stakes tale of the cost of winning and the price of redemption.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

Shoot the Moon will be available February 6, 2018. 

Last year I read and loved the first book in this series, Seeking Mansfield, and I was so excited to find out there was a sequel. While Shoot the Moon was not quite the light and fluffy read I was expecting, I still really enjoyed it.

This books focuses on Tate, Oliver’s older brother. I loved how witty and sarcastic he was. He could also be kind of awful, but in a fun way. I loved watching his journey throughout the book. He had many ups and downs and by the end I felt like he was really heading in the right direction. I initially was excited in seeing Oliver and Finley again, but I felt disappointed in what we got from them. I don’t consider this a spoiler because we find out in the very first chapter (but skip ahead if you don’t want to be spoiled at all!) that Oliver and Finley have broken up! And then there’s a brief thing with Tate and Finley that had been hinted at in the previous book, but actually goes further. There’s a little more back and forth with Oliver and Finley, but they didn’t really play a big part in the overall story of this one.

One character I really didn’t care for at all was Tate’s new love interest, Alex. Though we know how insecure she really is, it still really frustrated me when she lashed out at Tate. She came across as very unkind and manipulative and I just couldn’t like her at all, though she did get a little better by the end of the book. Still, I do not think that she and Tate were a good match. I felt like if they wanted to be together they still had so much growing up to do and they weren’t there by the end of the book. For awhile I thought it was looking like Tate would end the book single and I was actually pretty excited about that, but I don’t think it’s a surprise to say that that didn’t happen.

There were a lot of poker terms included in this. There is a glossary of terms in the back of the book which I perused before I started reading, but I find it too difficult to go back and forth with e-books so I was often lost when there were passages with lots of poker terms. While I appreciate the authenticity Watson was going for in including them, I felt like it could have been edited down a lot. It’s one of those instances where it felt more like the author wanted to show how much research she had done, then it being really relevant to the progression of the story. There is also a lot of politics in the story. I thought it was a little heavy handed at times. Depending on your particular political bent you will either really enjoy it or be kind of annoyed by it.

Overall, while Shoot the Moon was not the follow-up to Seeking Mansfield I expected, I still enjoyed it. I really loved Tate. Even when the story lost my interest occasionally, Tate still made me want to keep reading. Though this isn’t the light read that the first book was, I would still definitely recommend it to fans of Seeking Mansfield. I am looking forward to reading more from Kate Watson.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

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Review: Always You (Bachelor Brotherhood #3) by Denise Grover Swank

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Matt Osborne had always planned to get married and have a family. But at thirty-four, he’s no closer to his goal, so he’s decided to embrace his role as the remaining member of the Bachelor Brotherhood. He’s only loved one woman-his college sweetheart-but she never shared his dream of a family, preferring to focus on her career and maybe get married someday. With neither budged on their decisions, they agreed it was best to part ways. Now nearly twelve years later, Matt is stunned when Anna shows up at his nephew’s soccer practice-with her five-year-old son in tow.

Single mother Anna Field has returned home to care for her widowed and ill father. She never thought she’d run into Matt during the six months she’s there, but now he’s the coach of her son’s soccer team. She’d move Toby to a different team, but his new best friend happens to be Matt’s nephew, Ethan. As Anna and Matt spend more time together, the realize that their attraction-and love-are still there, just waiting for a spark to reignite. And once it’s lit, Matt has no plans to let her go again.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Always You will be available November 28, 2017.

I read the first book in this series, Only You, not too long ago and really enjoyed it. It was my first Denise Grover Swank book and her writing is a mix of romance, humor, and family and I knew I had to read more from her.

Always You follows the last man standing from the Bachelor Brotherhood, an agreement Matt and his two best friends made to give up on relationships after they all had terrible breakups. His two friends have found love and Matt has resigned himself to being single. He’s always wanted a family and is happy to have his 5 year old nephew, Ethan, living with him while his sister attends medical school out of state. He’s coaching Ethan’s soccer team when he finds out Ethan’s new best friend is the son of his old college girlfriend, Anna. The girlfriend who turned down his marriage proposal twelve years ago because she didn’t want to get married or have kids.

As you can imagine, Ethan and Anna reconcile. It took me a little while to get on board with their romance. I love a good Second Chance Romance story, but I felt like things happened just a little too easily. Matt had spent more than a decade being bitter about how Anna left and he completely thaws after just a couple of interactions. Now, I am all for forgiveness. And I can really appreciate that he realizes Anna wasn’t the only one to blame in their breakup, but it didn’t feel realistic for them to just pick up where they left off like they did. That said, I did eventually get on board and I liked them together. I also really liked the new family unit they made up with Ethan and Anna’s son, Toby. They were all so cute together and Matt was so, so sweet with the boys. I wasn’t sure about having Ethan and Toby be such a big part of the story at the beginning (I’m not a kid person, sorry), but they eventually won me over, as well.

One thing that really bugged me, though, was Anna’s issues with her ex-husband, Phillip. There were a lot of legal issues that needed to be worked out and for most of the book she was just resigned to not doing anything about it. She was a pretty strong, smart, and independent character in so many aspects, but she was such a doormat when it came to Phillip and I just didn’t understand it. She does eventually seek some help (with a fun cameo from one of the author’s previous series), though.

Overall, I enjoyed Always You. Matt is definitely one of the sweetest male leads I have read and I wish he was real. While it did take me a little bit to get into the romance and to like the kids, I did eventually get on board with all of it. There were several humorous parts, including a scene in Chuck E. Cheese that made me laugh out loud. I definitely plan on reading more books from Denise Grover Swank.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

The must-read thriller of 2018, this riveting and relentlessly compelling psychological suspense debut will keep readers guessing right up to the shocking ending

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy little English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code; little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank . . . until one of them turns up dead. That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

Expertly alternating between flashbacks and the present day, The Chalk Man is the very best kind of suspense novel, one where every character is wonderfully fleshed out and compelling, where every mystery has a satisfying payoff, and where the twists will shock even the savviest reader.

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

The Chalk Man will be available January 9, 2018

For me, The Chalk Man, is a perfect example of how hype can ruin your reading experience. I have seen several absolutely glowing reviews of this book and I was prepared for it to be one of my new favorite books of the year. Unfortunately, it fell far short of my expectations.

Let’s start with what I did like. I really like Tudor’s writing style. This is the author’s debut novel and her writing already feels distinctive. I also am a big fan of multiple timelines and I thought it was done pretty well here.

The story was told in Eddie’s 1st person POV and I wish I could say that gave me a connection to him, but it didn’t. I never really cared that much about him. He was basically the only character in the book that had much character development and it just didn’t really do it for me. I didn’t care about his childhood friends in either timeline or his odd relationship with his lodger, Chloe.

Even though I liked the writing, I felt bored a great deal of the time. Things are revealed very, very slowly and don’t pick up until close to the end. There is a nice little twist at the end, but I felt that there were so many clues dropped into the backstory to make sure the twist made sense that it did not even come as a big surprise. I also figured out the resolution to the main mystery awhile before it was revealed.

Overall, The Chalk Man was not a bad book, but it definitely fell short of the hype for me. The slow pace, characters I didn’t really care about, and a twist with very little pay-off left me pretty disappointed. However, the author’s writing style is pretty much what made this book for me and I know I will be reading more from her in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: Blue Ridge Sunrise (Blue Ridge Romance #1) by Denise Hunter

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Former free spirit Zoe Collins swore she’d never again set foot in Copper Creek or speak to the man who broke her heart. But return she must when her beloved Granny dies, leaving the family legacy to Zoe–a peach orchard nestled at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

When Zoe returns home with her daughter and boyfriend Kyle, she finds that she’s the only person in town who doesn’t expect her to give up the life she’s established far away from Copper Creek. Everyone believes she was born to run the orchard, but how can she make it her home after so many years?

Cruz Huntley never quite got over his first love Zoe Collins, the little sister of his best friend Brady. Not when she cheated on him during their “break,” not when she took off to parts unknown with good-for-nothing Kyle Jenkins, and not even now—five years later.

As life-changing decisions and a history with Cruz hang over Zoe’s head, tensions rise between her and Kyle. Even as she comes to terms with the shifting relationships in her life, Zoe still isn’t sure if she can remain in Copper Creek with her new responsibilities . . . and her first love.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Blue Ridge Sunrise will be available 11/7/17. 

I can’t think of a book that I have gone back and forth so much on as I did this book. For awhile I was really loving it. Then I was really annoyed at a turn of events. Then I loved it again. Then I was annoyed again. Then it picked up a little bit again at the end.

I was immediately drawn in to Zoe and Cruz and their second-chance romance storyline. As with most of Hunter’s leading ladies, I found Zoe kind of hard to like, but she did grow throughout the story. I, of course, loved Cruz. I also liked Zoe’s brother, Brady, and her best friend, Hope (I’m anticipating them to be lead characters in a future book in this series). The second part of the book is a flash back to when Zoe and Cruz started dating. I’m a big fan of multiple timeline storytelling and I loved watching those two get together.

As I mentioned above, after loving the book for awhile, something happened that really annoyed me. This is just personal preference, but I really, really dislike any romance trope that involves babies/kids. It just brings my whole enjoyment of a book way down. Another thing that I really dislike in books is when one small miscommunication is the main source of conflict and just one honest conversation would clear everything up. It drives me crazy to read a whole book like that.

Thankfully, the miscommunication was cleared up much more quickly than I anticipated. I was able to get back on the Cruz and Zoe ship and enjoy myself again. I liked watching them grow closer as they worked together to get the peach market up and running. However, Zoe’s old boyfriend Kyle is still not entirely out of the picture. Zoe decides to do something so annoyingly frustrating to remedy that and I found my enjoyment disappearing again. Things did work out in the end, though, with a nice lesson in faith tacked on.

Overall, Blue Ridge Sunrise was just a little uneven for me. While I did really enjoy Zoe and Cruz’s relationship, some romance tropes that I don’t really like were employed and kind of dampened my experience. I know that some people really love those type of storylines though, so I can see many readers eating the whole thing up with a smile. I also thought that for being Christian Fiction it was really light on the Christian. Again, not something that will bother everybody. This wasn’t my favorite Denise Hunter book, but it wasn’t my least favorite either. I liked it enough that I want to continue the series.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Charlotte “Charlie” Donovan knows what she wants for Christmas: Teo Ortiz. He’s a star athlete, in the National Honor Society, invited to every party, and contributes to the school paper (where Charlie is co-editor). Basically, he’s exactly the type of guy Charlie’s looking for. The only problem—he barely knows she exists.

But Charlie has a plan: Rig the paper’s Secret Santa and win his heart with five perfect gifts. Enter J.D. Ortiz—Teo’s cousin, and possibly the most annoying person on the planet. He’s easy going, laid back, unorganized, and spontaneous—the exact opposite of Charlie (and Teo). But he knows what Teo wants, so she’s stuck with him.

Yet the more time Charlie spends with J.D. the more she starts to wonder: Does she really know what, or rather who, she wants for Christmas?

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

What I Liked:

-There are a lot of YA books out there that I think are far too adult for the age group they’re marketed in, but I didn’t have that problem with this book. It seems geared more towards the younger end of the YA spectrum and is pretty clean. It’s the perfect amount of light and fluffy for a fun Christmas read.

-I liked the characters. Charlie is very Type A and likes to be in control, but she means well. Her best friend Morgan did a good job of balancing her out. JD is the polar opposite of Charlie, of course, and they often butt heads. As they come to spend more time with each other they begin to understand each other better and become friends. They had some sweet moments together and I shipped them.

-I love that cover! There’s an ugly Christmas sweater party in the book so it even ties in to the story well.

-Though I generally don’t like anything Holiday related until after Thanksgiving, this book did get me into the Holiday mood. I enjoyed all the holiday baking and liked the Secret Santa idea.

What Didn’t Quite Work for Me:

-I couldn’t really get on board with Charlie’s sudden crush on Teo. She basically just knew some stats on him when she decided he was The One. The way she read way too much into every interaction she had with Teo did remind me of being in high school, but it also kind of frustrated me. I also got frustrated by how clueless she was when it came to JD. A lot of the moments between them I thought were so sweet were kind of lost on her.

-I thought the end was  a little too abrupt. Things worked out very easily, very quickly for Charlie once she realized who she really wanted and I would’ve liked her to have to work a little bit harder for the happy ending.

Overall:

Overall, I enjoyed My New Crush Gave to Me. It was light and cute with likeable characters, even if Charlie was frustrating sometimes. I definitely recommend it to fans of YA Contemporary holiday reads.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Darcy Fitzwilliam is 29, beautiful, successful, and brilliant. She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones—one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding). Darcy’s never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else’s drama, and never goes home for Christmas if she can help it. But when her mother falls ill, she comes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her dad and little brother.

Her parents throw their annual Christmas bash, where she meets one Luke Bennet, the smart, sardonic slacker son of their neighbor. Luke is 32 and has never left home. He’s a carpenter and makes beautiful furniture, and is content with his simple life. He comes from a family of five brothers, each one less ambitious than the other. When Darcy and Luke fall into bed after too many eggnogs, Darcy thinks it’s just another one night stand. But why can’t she stop thinking of Luke? What is it about him? And can she fall in love, or will her pride and his prejudice against big-city girls stand in their way?

MELISSA DE LA CRUZ’s next adult novel will be a sweet, sexy and hilarious gender-swapping, genre-satisfying re-telling of Pride and Prejudice, set in contemporary America and featuring one snooty Miss Darcy.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe will be available October 17, 2017.

I love a good holiday romance and I love Pride and Prejudice re-tellings, so Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe looked like it would be perfect for me. While it was a fun read, it ended up falling short of my (pretty high) expectations.

I loved the idea of a gender-swapped Pride and Prejudice. I can’t think of any other re-tellings I’ve read that took that angle. I also like the idea of getting Darcy’s POV instead of Elizabeth’s (or Luke’s, in this case). Unfortunately I felt like this was more of an “inspired by” then a true re-telling. If it wasn’t for the names of the characters (Darcy Fitzwilliam, Bingley Charles, Luke Bennett) and the title of the book I’m not really sure if I would’ve even noticed that it was supposed to be a re-telling. That said, the story wasn’t bad. It was a very quick and easy read and had many cute or funny moments.

Darcy was pretty unlikable, which was ok in the beginning because she was kind of supposed to be. However, I don’t think she ever became more likable. Even though she was supposed to be this brilliant, successful woman, she was super immature and self-centered and kind of oblivious. There’s several scenes where she explains how she’s just super confident and driven, and not snobby or selfish, but honestly I just didn’t buy it. I was rooting for her, though, and she did make some strides when it came to her family. Luke was more likable, but we actually don’t get a lot of him. There is not very much time spent with Luke and Darcy together before they are officially together, so I had a hard time really shipping them as a couple. We do get more of them together in the end, which I liked.

One thing that does kind of bug me, which is not the book’s fault, is that the synopsis sounds pretty different than the actual story. Darcy doesn’t really date the type of guys mentioned, I don’t recall a mention of multiple cell phones, and she comes home to see her mom, despite her estranged father and three brothers she’s never really liked. Luke is described as less ambitious than Darcy, but I don’t think he was ever referred to as a slacker. The “fall into bed” statement is also misleading. There were also some continuity issues within the story that bothered me. I’m hoping that those are just ARC issues, though, and will be ironed out in the finished copy.

Overall, Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe was a cute, quick, and easy read. I loved the concept for the book even though it didn’t quite live up to it’s potential. I think hard core Pride and Prejudice fans will find it a little lacking, but if you’re looking for a nice holiday romance I would recommend checking this out.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Blog Tour, Review, and Giveaway: 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

Synopsis:

“Mean Girls for the Instagram age.” —The Times (London)
The New York Times bestselling author known for her thrilling twists is back:
They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart.

Natasha doesn’t remember how she ended up in the icy water that night, but she does know this–it wasn’t an accident, and she wasn’t suicidal. Her two closest friends are acting strangely, and Natasha turns to Becca, the best friend she dumped years before when she got popular, to help her figure out what happened.

Natasha’s sure that her friends love her. But does that mean they didn’t try to kill her?

13 Minutes is a psychological thriller with a killer twist from the #1 internationally bestselling author Sarah Pinborough.

ABOUT THE BOOK:
13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: October 3rd 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller, Crime, Mystery, Fiction

Links:

 Goodreads
Amazon 
B&N
Book Depository  
iBooks 
Kobo 
IndieBound  

13 Minutes is a YA psychological thriller that will once again prove that teenage girls can be the worst. Tasha is the pretty, popular girl that wakes up from a traumatic event with no memory of what happened to her. She begins to suspect her best friends had something to do with it and reaches out to her former friend, Becca, for comfort and for help. Along with the mystery of what really happened to Tasha, there is some major teenage girl drama going on. The relationships between the girls, Becca and her boyfriend, and the high school popularity hierarchy were all explored. Can I say this again? Teenage girls can be the worst. I don’t really want to say too much more about the actual plot because I think it’s best to go in without a lot of information.

I really liked the formatting of the story. The chapters alternate from the POVs of Tasha, Becca, and the man that rescues Tasha in the beginning of the book. There are also excerpts from Tasha’s journal, counseling sessions between a doctor with Tasha and the same doctor with Becca, newspaper articles, text threads, and excerpts from the detective’s notes. I thought all of these were used very effectively and helped keep up the suspense.

Overall, I enjoyed 13 Minutes. I thought the characters were very well done and loved the formatting. It was definitely one of the better YA suspense books I’ve read. It reminded me a lot of another one that I really liked, but I don’t want to say which one because the twists are very similar and it would give too much away. Speaking of the twist, I did figure things out well before they were revealed, but it was still fun to see how everything came together. I have to admit that I was just a little disappointed, though. After the great twist ending in Behind Her Eyes by this author, I was expecting a little something extra at the end of this one, but there wasn’t. I think fans of YA suspense will enjoy it, though.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Sarah Pinborough is a critically acclaimed adult and YA author based in London.
Sarah was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story and also the 2010 and 2014 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Novella, and she has four times been short-listed for Best Novel. She is also a screenwriter who has written for the BBC and has several original television projects in development.
Her next novel, Behind Her Eyes, coming for HarperFiction in the UK and Flatiron in the US (January 2017) has sold in nearly 20 territories worldwide and is a dark thriller about relationships with a kicker of a twist.
You can follow her on Twitter @sarahpinborough

ABOUT THE GIVEAWAY

   1 ARC of 13 MINUTES by Sarah Pinborough
   US Only

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