Review: Hot Asset (21 Wall Street #1) by Lauren Layne

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

A sexy agent hounds Wall Street’s hottest new wolf in an exhilarating novel from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne.

Ian Bradley is the definition of a Wall Street hotshot: seven-figure salary, designer suits, and a corner office. His drive off the floor is just as potent. Every woman who knows him has felt the rush. But now he’s met his match in Lara McKenzie—a woman with the power to bring Ian to his knees.

An ambitious, whip-smart daughter of FBI agents, Lara is a rising star in fighting white-collar crime. Her latest case—the investigation of Ian Bradley for insider trading—could make her career. She knows a scoundrel when she sees one. Ian fits the bill: a cocky, ridiculously handsome bad boy with a slick swagger.

She’ll do anything to prove he’s guilty. He’ll do anything to prove he’s not. But it’s only a matter of time before their fierce battle of wits gets oh so hot and personal. Now, taking down Ian has become more than business for Lara. It’s become a pleasure—and there’s more at risk than she ever dreamed.

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

Hot Asset will be available May 22, 2018. 

Lauren Layne has become one of my favorite Romance authors and I enjoyed Hot Asset just as much as I expected to.

I thought the insider trading plotline was interesting. I don’t think I’ve read a Romance with that particular angle before so it was something a little fresh, even though the rest of the plot played out very standard Romance. I would’ve liked just a little more information on how Wall Street works and the ins and outs of the SEC, but I did appreciate that there wasn’t information overload with it either.

I liked Lara and Ian as characters and also as a couple. They have a mutual respect for each other and their work ethics. I do wish that it would’ve taken just a little longer for them to fall for each other, though. While Lara didn’t let her feelings get in the way of her investigation, she did willingly put herself in some compromising positions multiple times and it felt a little more silly-schoolgirl than professional investigator. I also really enjoyed Ian’s group of friends. I’m looking forward to their books, especially Kennedy and Kate’s.

Overall, I enjoyed Hot Asset. I liked the setting and the characters and the romance. I thought about giving this 3 or 3.5 stars, just because, while enjoyable, it was a pretty standard, straight-forward romance. However, other than the couple of sex scenes, I don’t really have any other complaints about the book, so I’m bumping it up to 4 stars. I would recommend this to Romance fans, especially fans of Lauren Layne.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Romance Novels

I wasn’t really interested in today’s Top 5 Wednesday prompt, so I decided to borrow a topic I missed from when I was on hiatus. So for me, today’s topic is: Favorite Romance Novels. Straight up romance novels aren’t usually ones I reach for very often, but there are a few that I love.

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1. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. I love almost everything about this book. It’s so funny and cute.

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2. Dating You / Hating You by Christina Lauren. Can you tell I like Hate-to-Love stories?

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3. Walk of Shame by Lauren Layne. Honestly, I could list pretty much every Lauren Layne book I’ve read. They’re always so cute.

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4. Wrong Brother, Right Match by Jennifer Shirk. This book reminded me so much a Hallmark Christmas movie.

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5. The Best Man by Kristan Higgins. Kristan Higgins is my definite go-to for romance novels and this is just one of my many favorites by her. She appears to be shifting her focus over to Women’s Fiction, which at first really annoyed me, even though they’re just as good as her romances. I’m coming around to it, though.

What are some of your favorite romance novels?

Reviewing the Unrevewied: February 2018

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon. February 16-17. 4 Stars. 

Love. Love. Love.  Amy Harmon writes beautiful books.

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My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran & Larissa Zageris. Read February 17-18. 3 Stars. 

love this concept! I read through the book several times choosing different scenarios and feel like I only scratched the surface on the possibilities. Full review to come.

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Then She was Gone by Lisa Jewell. Read February 18-19. 4 Stars. 

Lisa Jewell does it again. I was so consumed by this story that I finished it in under 24 hours. Full review to come.

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Honeysuckle Dreams (Blue Ridge Romance #2) by Denise Hunter. Read February 19-21. 3.5 Stars. 

I enjoyed this, though the added drama at the end did bring it down a bit for me. I liked the characters for the most part and the Marriage-of-Convenience theme. I look forward to continuing the series. Full review to come.

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Runaway Groom (I Do, I Don’t #2) by Lauren Layne. Read February 21-23. 4 Stars. 

Such a fun book. I really liked both Ellie and Gage. I enjoyed the “The Bachelor” type setting, too, though I thought it could have been played up a bit more. I’m really looking forward to the next one.

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What You Want to See (Roxane Weary #2) by Kristen Lepionka. Read February 24-25. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed this book. It was well-paced and well-written, with a really interesting mystery. I also love that this book is set in Columbus, OH and I recognized a lot of the areas mentioned. I definitely recommend this series to Mystery fans and am looking forward to reading more from Lepionka in the future. Full review to come.

********Re-Reads********

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After finishing Iron Gold I fell into a book slump and decided to re-read the original trilogy, which I failed to do prior to reading Iron Gold. I still loved them all the second time around (third time for Red Rising). I had forgotten how completely epic Morning Star really is.

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Catching Jordan (Hundred Oaks #1) by Miranda Kenneally. This was recently free on Kindle. I pretty much have all the same issues with this book as I did the first time I read it. However, I think I may have enjoyed it slightly more this time around. It’s a pretty quick read.

********Back on the TBR********

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Books from the library that I never started before they expiredFragments of the Lost by Megan Miranda, A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis, and The Cruel Prince by Holly Black.

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Books from the library that I started and couldn’t get into: Fake Wife by Stacey Lynn, Moonlight Sins by Jennifer Armentrout, Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson. I usually love a good fake relationship story, but I read several chapters of Fake Wife and just couldn’t get into it. I think I want to try it again someday, though. I read about a chapter and a half of Moonlight Sins and again, just couldn’t get into it. I used to love everything by JLA, but all but one of her last several books have been ones I didn’t like or didn’t finish. I’m not sure if I’ll ever give this one a chance again. Truly Devious seems promising, but I was in a mood when I started it and then I realized it was the first book in a series and not a standalone, so I think I’ll wait until more books are published before I read it.

Reviewing the Unreviewed: January 2018

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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#Nerd (Hashtag#1) by Cambria Hebert. Read January 2-3. 3 Stars. 

I couldn’t decide what to read and decided to go with something I wouldn’t normally pick. I had just recently gotten this for free, so I decided to give it a try. For the most part, this just reminded me why I don’t read much New Adult. It was ridiculously dramatic and clichéd. I didn’t particularly like either Romeo or Rimmel. However, I liked how the story was told in alternating first person POV. I thought their voices were really distinct and I actually liked the chapter’s from Romeo’s POV a little more. Because of that, it occasionally making me chuckle, and it’s the beginning of the year and I’m feeling generous, I’m bumping my rating up to 3 stars, even though I won’t be continuing the series (I just looked and there are several books in this series and they all look increasingly overdramatic and I just don’t have the patience for that).

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Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett. Read January 6-7. 4 Stars. 

This is my second book by Jenn Bennett and I found it just as addicting as I did Alex, Approximately. It was a quick, easy read that kept me glued to the pages. Full review to come closer to release date.

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A Million Junes by Emily Henry. Read January 7-9. 3.5 Stars. 

If you ask me what this book is about, I don’t think I’ll be able to tell you. There were a number of things I liked – the characters, the banter, the romance. I loved the first half of this book and couldn’t put it down. But, it’s weird. It’s really weird and I didn’t entirely understand what happened towards the end. That’s the reason I can’t quite give it 4 stars. It was still a good read, though.

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An Ex for Christmas (Unexpectedly Yours #5) by Lauren Layne. Read January 14-15. 4 Stars. 

This book was so fricking cute! Likable characters and a cute dog. I loved the friendship between Mark and Kelly. This story was incredibly predictable, but I didn’t care. I enjoyed pretty much every moment of this (though, as always, there were a few scenes a little more graphic than I like). Lauren Layne has really become one of my favorites of this genre.

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Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Read January 15-17. 4 Stars. 

My favorite thing about this book was still the non-traditional formatting, but I must say I enjoyed the actual story more than I did the first book. I found both main characters to be likable. The plot wasn’t quite as clichéd. However, I still think the surveillance video summaries take away from the non-traditional style and were used too often. And I still really dislike having Aidan narrate anything (thankfully it didn’t appear until later in the book). This is probably closer to a 3.5 for me, but since that’s what I rated Illuminae and I thought this was better, I’m bumping my rating up to 4. I’m looking forward to see how it all plays out in Obsidio!

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Tarnished Crown (The Royals #3.5) by Erin Watt. Read January 16-18. 3 Stars. 

I don’t think I really had an opinion about Gideon one way or the other before, but I liked him after this. The story was fine, addictive writing like Erin Watt books are known to be. I’m just a little disappointed that I don’t feel like I really got the full story on Gideon and Savannah. I would’ve liked more flashback scenes to the beginning and then the end of their relationship. I felt like things were just kind of referenced and not explored and felt a little lacking. I did enjoy the “Present” timeline, though and I am looking forward to Cracked Kingdom!

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More Than We Can Tell (Letters to the Lost #2) by Brigid Kemmerer. Read January 19-20. 4 Stars. 

My favorite thing about Letters to the Lost was the friendship between Declan and Rev and I was very excited to hear that Rev was going to get his own book. I’m happy to report that I enjoyed More Than We Can Tell even more than I did Letters to the Lost. Full review to come closer to release date.

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The New Neighbors by Simon Lelic. Read January 21-24. 2.5 Stars.

I found The New Neighbors to be a pretty standard psychological thriller (and I’m using the word “thriller” loosely). The writing wasn’t bad, but I just found myself pretty underwhelmed with the plot and the characters. Full review to come closer to release date.

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Off the Ice (Juniper Falls #1) by Julie Cross. Read January 24-26. 3.5 Stars.

This was cute and I thought it handled a lot of the heavier topics pretty well. I really liked the characters – not just Tate and Claire, but their friends and most of their families, too. I especially loved Tate’s stepfather, Roger. While I did think the heavier topics were handled well, I thought things were a little too rushed at the end and would’ve liked to have seen a little more resolution – especially with Tate’s anger issues. I also thought there were a couple scenes that were a little too graphic for YA. Overall, though, I enjoyed this.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR. I’ve been an extremely moody reader lately, so I may not stick to these, but they’re all ones I’m hoping to read.

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1. Roomies by Christina Lauren – publishing 12/5/17. I loved the last book I read by this author duo, Dating You/Hating You, and I have high hopes for this one.

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2. Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills – publishing 12/5/17. I absolutely adore her other books and I can’t wait for this one!

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3. Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West – publishing 12/26/17. I love Kasie West books.

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4. Iron Gold by Pierce Brown – publishing 1/16/18. I am so excited for this!!! I probably should add the first three books to this list because I feel like I need a re-read before going into this so I can fully appreciate it.

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5. Runaway Groom (I Do, I Don’t #2) by Lauren Layne – publishing 1/30/18. I really enjoyed the first book in this series. Lauren Layne has become one of my favorite Contemporary Romance authors.

6. The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon – publishing 2/13/18. No cover yet, but that doesn’t matter. If it’s by Amy Harmon, I want to read it!

7. The Comfort Zone by Sally Thorne – publishing 2/20/18. No cover yet for this either. I adored The Hating Game and have been eagerly anticipating Thorne’s next book ever since.

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8. Restore Me (Shatter Me #4) by Tahereh Mafi – publishing 3/6/18. Though re-reads have made me lower my original very high opinion of these books, I am still very excited for this series to continue. I will never be sad about getting more Warner!

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9. Without Merit by Colleen Hoover -published 10/3/17. Brandie from Running on Words and Wine gifted me a copy of this for my birthday! I am not a huge CoHo fan, but Brandie said this one was a little different than her normal books and thought I would like it. Thanks again Brandie!

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10. Match Made in Manhattan by Amanda Stauffer – publishing 1/23/18. I got a physical ARC of this from the author so I really want to get this read soon. I’ve been such a moody reader lately that I’ve mostly avoided all my ARCs because I’m afraid my bad mood will negatively impact any book I read and I want to be as fair as possible with ARCs.

What books are you looking forward to reading this Winter?

The Nope Book Tag

The Nope Book Tag

I saw this a little while ago over on Read by Chris and thought it looked fun. In an effort to not repeat the same old answers I always use, I’m going to try and stick with books I’ve read this year. Feel free to tag yourself if you’d like!

1. NOPE. Ending: A book ending that made you go NOPE either in denial, rage, or simply because the ending was crappy. 

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I actually do not remember the ending to Six Stories by Matt Weslowski, but I put in my short review that I found the ending really unsatisfying. In fact, this whole books was a big, fat “NOPE” for me.

2. NOPE. Protagonist: A main character you dislike and drives you crazy. 

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Isa from The Lying Game by Ruth Ware. I can not even believe the crap she put her baby and her boyfriend through. She’s the worst!

3. NOPE. Series: A series that turned out to be one huge pile of NOPE. after you’ve invested all of that time and energy on it, or a series you gave up on because it wasn’t worth it anymore. 

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Ok, this one is kind of hard because I haven’t really discontinued any series this year. I’m going to go with Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh even though it’s the first book in a series because I don’t really have any interest in continuing in.

4. NOPE. Popular pairing: A “ship” you don’t support.

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I don’t really think this is a “popular” pairing, but I’m going to go with Rose and Archie in Public Relations by Katie Heaney & Arianna Rebolini. I thought Archie was way, way too good for self-absorbed, immature Rose.

5. NOPE. Plot twist: A plot twist you didn’t see coming or didn’t like. 

Lacey’s Wedding by Sharon Bolton. I love Sharon Bolton, but I thought this short story was a bit of a cruel twist for Lacey Flint fans. There just better be more books coming in this series!!!

6. NOPE. Protagonist action/decision: A character decision that made you shake your head NOPE. 

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Georgie in Walk of Shame by Lauren Layne. While I really enjoyed this book and did like Georgie, there were many times her actions really frustrated me.

7. NOPE. Genre: A genre you will never read.

This is always my answer, but Dinosaur Erotica. Yes, it’s a real thing.

8. NOPE. Book format: Book formatting you hate and avoid buying until it comes out in a different edition

I honestly can’t think of anything. I mostly buy e-books so I guess anything that has lots of illustrations (like Illuminae) I would have to get in an actual physical format.

9. NOPE. Trope: A trope that makes you go NOPE. 

Surprise pregnancy or surprise-you’re-a-father!

10. NOPE. Recommendation: A book recommendation that is constantly hyped and pushed at you that you simply refuse to read. 

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Harry Potter. Sorry, I’m just never going to read this.

11. NOPE. Cliche/pet peeve: A cliche or writing pet peeve that always makes you roll your eyes.

The “graceful neck” description. I have never once looked at someone’s neck and thought to myself, “Wow, that’s graceful. *Swoon*”.

12. NOPE. Love interest: The love interest that’s not worthy of being one. A character you don’t think should have been a viable love interest.

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Kieran in Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. He’s kind of a love interest for two people (who are also love interests to each other – Please, please, please don’t make threesomes the new “thing” we all have to champion in YA), but I just don’t like him. Like, at all.

13. NOPE. Book: A book that shouldn’t have existed that made you say NOPE. 

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There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins. This book was awful and can not be considered horror. It’s Romance, with a little bit of murder thrown in.

14. NOPE. Villain: A scary villain/antagonist you would hate to cross and would make you run in the opposite direction.

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The bad guys in Dead Scared by Sharon Bolton. No spoilers, though!

15. NOPE. Death: A character death that still haunts you.

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I’m not going to spoil who it is, but the major death in Making Faces by Amy Harmon. I ugly cried hard.

16. NOPE. Author: An author you had a bad experience reading for and have decided to quit.

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While there were books I definitely didn’t care for, there weren’t any I read this year that really made me say, “I’m never reading this author again.” I think the closest I came to that was Staci Hart when I read With a Twist. I just don’t think her writing is for me, but if she puts something out that I think looks really interesting, I still might give it a try.

Reviewing the Unreviewed: August 2017

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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How I Lost You by Jenny Blackhurst. Read August 1-5. 2.5 Stars.

I really wanted to like this book. It definitely looks like it would be just my type. Unfortunately, it just didn’t really work for me. Full review to come closer to release date.

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Only You (Bachelor Brotherhood #1) by Denise Grover Swank. Read August 5-6. 4 Stars. 

I loved this! Holly and Kevin were such likable characters and I absolutely loved them together. Though everything happened very fast, I really enjoyed watching their relationship progress. With a large focus on family and a few zany characters this reminded me a lot of a Kristan Higgins book, who is my favorite Romance author. I realized that I have a couple of this author’s books that I’ve never read before and I am remedying that right away.

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The Substitute (The Wedding Pact #1) by Denise Grover Swank. Read August 6-8. 3 Stars. 

I really enjoyed the fake relationship aspects to this story. There were lots of humorous and slightly uncomfortable moments. I thought the book was a little too long, though, and while I liked Megan and Josh I never really fell in love with them. I didn’t like this as much as the other book I’ve read by this author, but I’m still going to try out some of her other books.

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The Player (The Wedding Pact #2) by Denise Grover Swank. Read August 8-13. 2.5 Stars.

I really enjoyed parts of this. I like the 2nd chance romance trope and thought it was done pretty well here. I liked Garrett. Blair was just so, SO unlikable, though! I hated her in the first book of the series and thought being in her head this time around would make me understand her behavior, but it didn’t. Sure, she was hurt in the past, but I don’t think that can completely excuse how bitchy she was to everyone, including her best friends who were always there for her. I was going to give this 3 stars, but the more I think about Blair, the more it brings the whole story down for me, so I’m going with 2.5.

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Blue Ridge Sunrise (Blue Ridge Romance #1) by Denise HunterRead August 13-15. 3 Stars.

This 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. Full review to come closer to release date.

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Textrovert by Lindsey Summers. Read August 18-19. 3 Stars. 

I originally got this from NetGalley, but the ARC didn’t format well on my Nook and all the texts were missing. Since the texts are obviously an important part of the story, I didn’t end up reading it then. It finally came to my library, though, and I was excited . Keely was mostly likable, but was kind of frustrating a lot of times. There were several very cute moments between her and Talon, but I thought Talon was a little too much of a jerk to really ever love him. I felt like the ending was a little abrupt and left a several storylines kind of open-ended. Overall, it was a cute quick and easy read, but it’s not one I plan on ever picking up again.

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Just Another Girl by Elizabeth Eulberg. Read August 20. 3.5 Stars. 

This book ended up being much different than I thought it would be. It wasn’t quite the cute read I was expecting, but I still ended up really appreciating it. I loved the style it was written in. The POV switched between Hope and her biggest rival Parker and we even got one POV chapter from Brady, the guy in the middle. It was a little jarring at first because from Hope’s POV we are to hate Parker and even though I thought Hope was way over-dramatic and too boy-crazy, I did kind of hate Parker. But then we get Parker’s POV and realize she’s nothing like Hope thinks. I thought it was a great way to show how we judge people very easily without really knowing what’s happening behind closed doors. There is one thing I really liked that I’m giving it the extra half star for and it’s a spoiler.

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While I am a sucker for a cute romance, sometimes I think it would be nice to see the girl NOT get the guy (or vice versa) once in awhile. And that’s what happens here! Hope is hopelessly infatuated with Brady and convinces herself that he likes her too, even though he’s dating Parker. But as the book goes on we find out that Brady does care about Hope, but only as a best friend and nothing more. She realizes unrequited love is not the worst thing in the world and they remain friends. He and Parker also break up and the book ends with both of our leading ladies single and doing fine. This is definitely a rare occurrence in YA Contemporary and I loved it.

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Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg. Read August 20-22. 4 Stars. 

Super cute YA Pride and Prejudice re-telling. I really liked the main characters and all the “big moments” from Pride and Prejudice that I expect to see in a re-telling were represented. The only thing I didn’t really like was the reason behind Elizabeth being bullied at school. It was so shallow and not very realistic. If you like YA and Jane Austen re-tellings I think you will definitely enjoy this one.

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A Charmed Little Lie (Charmed in Texas #1) by Sharla Lovelace. Read August 22-24. 3 Stars. 

There were lots of cute things about this book and lots of humorous moments. I liked Laine and Nick together. There was just something missing for me, though. I thought some of the things Laine did were unrealistic – and I’m not even talking about the fake relationship part – and cringe-worthy. I liked it enough, though, that I would read more from this author.

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Walk of Shame (Love Unexpectedly #4) by Lauren Layne. Read August 24-26. 4 Stars. 

Ridiculously cute. I loved Georgie and Andrew’s relationship and their banter and how darn cute they were together. I did get frustrated with Georgie, though. This is not the first book by Lauren Layne I’ve read where the female lead acts like everything she does is perfectly justified and gives the male lead crap for acting differently. It really annoyed me that Georgie would provoke him and then get mad when he didn’t respond the way she wanted. Other than that, though, and the few slightly too graphic scenes, I really enjoyed this book.

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Everywhere that Mary Went (Rosato & Associates #1) by Lisa Scottoline. Read August 26-27. 3.5 Stars.

It started out a little slow for me and got a little slow in the middle so that’s why I couldn’t quite give it 4 stars. I did enjoy it, though. Mary frustrated me some, but I liked her. I think after hearing Lisa Scottoline speak in person, I was better able to appreciate Mary. I thought the conclusion of the mystery was pretty good. I hadn’t suspected it at all, but it made sense. I’m seriously considering spending money and buying the next book in the series because there’s a really long wait for it at the library.

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The Last Place You Look (Roxane Weary #1) by Kristen Lepionka. Read August 27-29. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed this book. There were several clichéd things about it that I thought would kind of ruin it for me, but it didn’t. The main character is an abrasive, alcoholic detective with daddy issues. She is set apart a little from this character cliché by being a PI instead of with the police and is bisexual. The resolution of the mystery was very similar to at least two books I’ve read this year. Despite those things, I did not want to put the book down. It was pretty perfectly paced in regards to both the mystery aspect and to Roxane’s personal relationships and character development. Even though there was plenty about her I didn’t like, she still somehow ended up being a likable character. I also really liked that this was set in Ohio. I am definitely looking forward to reading more Roxane Weary books.