Book Review: By Your Side

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Synopsis:

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn at first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

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Review

I love Kasie West’s novels because they’re quick reads that usually make me swoon, and By Your Side was no different. The novel is told in Autumn’s first person POV and begins with her getting trapped in the library over the holiday weekend. Little does she know she’s not there alone.

Trapped alongside her is resident “bad boy” Dax, who Autumn only kind of knows. Although they don’t get along at first, due to their own presumptions about each other, they quickly find that the other isn’t so bad after all.

I really liked the romance between Dax and Autumn but more than that I really liked Autumn as a character on her own. I don’t want to spoil it so I’ll just say that Autumn has a secret that she’s been keeping from her friends but she’s able to confide the truth to Dax and he’s able to be there for her in a way her friends can’t.

I also liked that although there kind of is a love triangle between Autumn, Dax, and Autumn’s friend Jeff, there really isn’t. Again I don’t want to spoil it but basically Jeff isn’t around that much and when he does come around Autumn’s pretty much already head over heels for Dax.

Still, there is conflict so this book wasn’t boring and despite it’s predictability it still took me by surprise a few times, mainly because unlike so other books the whole plot isn’t given away in the synopsis. In fact, this book was actually more complicated than I expected and I really liked it.

West deals with some heavy issues in this novel, quite possible her heaviest yet, and she did so with care and the same level of romance you expect from her novels. This is definitely a must read.

Stars:

5 stars

Favorite Line:

“You won the best heart in the world, so take care of it.”

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Book Review: The Opposite of Loneliness

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Synopsis:

An affecting and hope-filled posthumous collection of essays and stories from the talented young Yale graduate whose title essay captured the world’s attention in 2012 and turned her into an icon for her generation.

Marina Keegan’s star was on the rise when she graduated magna cum laude from Yale in May 2012. She had a play that was to be produced at the New York International Fringe Festival and a job waiting for her at the New Yorker. Tragically, five days after graduation, Marina died in a car crash.

As her family, friends, and classmates, deep in grief, joined to create a memorial service for Marina, her unforgettable last essay for the Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness,” went viral, receiving more than 1.4 million hits. She had struck a chord.

Even though she was just twenty-two when she died, Marina left behind a rich, expansive trove of prose that, like her title essay, captures the hope, uncertainty, and possibility of her generation. The Opposite of Loneliness is an assem­blage of Marina’s essays and stories that, like The Last Lecture, articulates the universal struggle that all of us face as we figure out what we aspire to be and how we can harness our talents to make an impact on the world.

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Review

While I don’t think I’d ever read this book again (hence why it’s a borrow) I found this book to be interesting. Overall, I liked Marina Keegan and was both impressed and jealous of how great of a writer she was at her age, which made it even more heartbreaking that she lost her life before she really got to reach the level of success I’m sure she would’ve found.

I’d never read “The Opposite of Loneliness” but I vaguely remember hearing about Keegan’s passing and seeing the essay being shared on social media. Reading the essay now as someone who graduated college two years ago and preparing to enter grad school, it hit me hard and made me think, which is probably why it went viral. It’s well written just like pretty much everything else Keegan wrote that was included in this book.

Though there were some essays I certainly skimmed and a few short stories that I just couldn’t get into, with every piece I recognized how good they were. Maybe the story about the exterminator wasn’t my cup of tea but while it was non-fiction Keegan made it feel like an interesting (albeit kind of gross) story. Similarly, while I was confused by how some of her short stories ended they also left me wanting to read more because I liked the characters.

I say this all to say that don’t let my decision to never purchase this book dissuade you. This book was pretty great and it’s sad that Keegan didn’t get a chance to see how her writing touched so many people.

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“I want to devote my life to the things that I love. I want to create something lasting that I’m really proud of.”

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Book Review: Roomie Wars

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Synopsis:

Zoey

Turning thirty is overrated. Who said you had to be married with a fabulous career and three kids? I had a great life. Single, freedom to do whatever I please, and best of all, stay home on a Friday night in my sweats, eating pizza while listening to the best of the ’80s.

I’m fine.

Drew

When a woman says she’s fine, she’s not fine. Zoey had it all. Stunning looks, ambition, the whole package. Then he fucked her up. He broke her.

And now I’m left picking up the pieces…again.

Zoey Richards, strong-willed and driven, settled on the geeky struggling med student to share her apartment with, not the perfect-in-every-way stud who would just distract her and undoubtedly break her heart.

When her ex comes back into the picture, Zoey seeks revenge and enlists her roommate’s help. All Zoey and Drew need to do is pretend to be a couple for one night. But one night can change everything. Refusing to break their “roomie code,” and in an effort to deny their feelings for each other, a war erupts between Zoey and Drew.

She lives in the past; he, for the future. If opposites attract, will these two gamble their friendship for a chance at love?

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Review

I’m officially taking a break from erotica. All these books are starting to sound the same to me, which is why this book was particularly disappointing. At the start Drew is actually an average guy who’s a little chubby and is nervous around Zoey, who’s interviewing him to become her roommate. I thought this was cute and endearing and was ready to read a story where the guy isn’t some chiseled muscle man but is actually your average every day Joe. I should’ve known better (especially because of the cover; duh).

After the prologue the book jumps forward four years and Drew is now a health nut with a hot bod and now Zoe’s gained some weight and has become a slob because a terrible boyfriend she had that broke her heart. How stereotypical. If this didn’t already annoy me, Zoe and Drew’s personalities definitely did.

The book is told in alternating point of views and I didn’t find myself relating to Zoe nor did I find Drew particularly swoon worthy. Moreover, I found their jump from just roommates to something more strange because of how it played out. The synopsis makes it sound like it’s the return of her ex that sparks these feelings between Zoe and Drew but that’s not the case, it happens prior to that. I don’t want to spoil it so I’ll just say I found Drew’s quick flip to suddenly realizing he liked Zoe a bit unrealistic. Then again this is fiction so I guess I can allow that.

What really bothered me was Zoe and Drew’s relationship after they realized they had feelings for each other. It became this strange back and forth where they both knew they had feelings for each other but then for some reason or another they decided not to pursue those feelings. I think I would’ve been okay with this if it didn’t take them literal years to finally get together. Literally, the last quarter of the book starts jumping around in time from months to years before you finally get the happy ending you expect from a romance novel and by then the ending seemed strange because after all they went through it then just took one small move from Zoe for them to finally be together. Thus begging the question, why fill these last 20 pages with a will they/won’t they saga that came from left field?

Overall, I obviously detested this novel. However, if you’re looking for a quick romance novel that you don’t have to think too hard about Roomie Wars is a decent choice. There’s a bit of smut and Drew and Zoe’s flirtation was fun at times but overall they’re indecision and the strange way their love story played out ruined this book for me. Definitely a borrow, although I was able to buy this book for free so if you’re curious I’m sure you can get for free on Kindle as well.

Stars:

2-stars

Favorite Quote:

“I like you just the way you are, Zoey Richards. Don’t change for anyone.”

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Book Review: Heartless

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Synopsis:

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

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Review

Full disclosure, my knowledge about Alice in Wonderland is very limited. It’s so limited that for some reason I got it in my head that the Queen of Hearts and the Red Queen were the same person, which confused me a bit while I was reading. In case you thought the same I’m here to tell you they’re two different people. My point is, I didn’t love this novel but I think that might be because a lot of the references to the original novel by Lewis Carroll went over my head.

For instance, I never knew the riddle, “Why is a raven like a writing desk,” came from Alice in Wonderland. I just thought it was a popular riddle until I read this book. So with that in mind please note that while I didn’t particularly love this novel that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t but here’s why I personally didn’t enjoy it.

First, I found Cath to be particularly infuriating. I hate indecisive characters and Cath didn’t make any real decisions until about two thirds into the novel. Also, while I realize the King of Hearts was purposefully made to be stupid and irritating I found him too irritating and every time he appeared I wanted to skim through those scenes. The only characters I truly loved in this novel were Jest and Hatta. I especially liked Hatta because I found his back story to be very interesting and he was pretty snarky, which I loved.

Otherwise though, almost every character drove me crazy. Cath’s mother was particularly annoying and while her father wasn’t as bad he was also pretty bad. Cath’s friend and maid was okay but the fact that I can’t even remember her name is a clear indication that she wasn’t all that memorable (I looked it up; it’s Mary Ann).

Also, one character, Jack, was extremely annoying and rude to Cath and that’s never explained. I thought it might be because he’s like a childish boy who had a crush on her so he treated her poorly but it was never said. He was just irritating for no reason. It was so strange!

Overall, this is definitely a novel I won’t be rereading however I almost want to make this a buy just because the cover is so incredibly gorgeous. But alas, not even the cover could save this one for me. I loved The Lunar Chronicles and had high hopes for Marissa Meyer’s follow up to the series but unfortunately Heartless was sorely disappointing.

Stars:

2-stars

Favorite Quote:

“Sometimes your heart is the only thing worth listening to.”

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Book Review: The Distance Between Us

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Synopsis:

Money can’t buy a good first impression.

Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers learned early that the rich are not to be trusted. And after years of studying them from behind the cash register of her mom’s porcelain-doll shop, she has seen nothing to prove otherwise. Enter Xander Spence—he’s tall, handsome, and oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and the fact that he seems to be one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But just when Xander’s loyalty and attentiveness are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. With so many obstacles standing in their way, can she close the distance between them?

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Review

I can’t believe I forgot to review this book. I read it a while back and I really liked, even though it wasn’t my all time favorite Kasie West novel. Let’s dive in.

First, if you’re making your way through Kasie West’s books like I’ve been doing recently I recommend reading The Distance Between Us before On the Fence because they take place in the same town so there’s some overlapping characters and The Distance Between Us was released first. Truthfully though it doesn’t really matter, which order you read them in since nothing’s given away but I would’ve preferred if I’d read them in order.

Moving on, I loved Caymen and Xander. They were so cute together and made me swoon. I also liked that we got to see their relationship play out. A lot of romance novels wait to the end for the characters to get together and then there’s only like a chapter where they’re actually together but this book wasn’t like that. You actually get to see their romance play out, which was nice. I also really liked Caymen’s humor. She’s super sarcastic and witty and I loved how Xander played off that but could also see through it when she was using her humor to deflect.

My biggest issue with this novel was Caymen’s mom. I found her to be super irritating but thankfully she’s not around that often so it didn’t bother me too much. Other than that I really like this novel and want to buy it so I can read it again. Once I finally read By Your Side I plan on doing a full ranking of all of West’s romance novels and I’m pretty sure The Distance Between Us will be close to the top. Definitely give it a read if you haven’t already.

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“Sometimes it’s the little things that bring that special someone back to us in some small way.”

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From Page to Screen: Fifty Shades Darker

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Source: Giphy

Fifty Shades Darker is my favorite book in the Fifty Shades trilogy so I was actually excited to see this film and thankfully it didn’t disappoint. There will be spoilers from the book in this review so proceed with caution.

One of my biggest pet peeves with this trilogy was the short time between when Ana left Christian and when they got back together. In the novels, it was literally only a day however in the film it feels like that separation was longer, which I liked. Ana needed some more backbone and willpower so I liked that the film gave her at least a little ounce more of that.

From there the film dives right back into Ana and Christian’s love story, which I enjoyed way more than the first novel. Christian trying to be a real boyfriend rather than a dominant was cute and endearing and I liked it a lot. I also love that this part of the story dives more into Christian’s past, both with other submissives and with Mrs. Robinson, who I can’t stand and I’m so glad she got what was coming to her.

Of course with any book adaptation the film missed a few keys parts. For one, I didn’t like that they took out Christian’s therapist who I loved. I thought he was pretty funny and added another layer to Christian’s character that I really enjoyed. Also, although Christian does get down on his knees in front of Ana in a submissive stance I think if you didn’t read the books you wouldn’t have known how big of a deal this was. They went through it so fast.

In the books this scene was a major turning point because Christian literally becomes submissive to Ana, which was so huge. That was one of my favorite scenes from the whole trilogy and I was sad they didn’t spend a little more time on it. Besides that though, I think the film did really well with this one and it was definitely much better than the first film. I also liked how this film set up all the craziness that’s going to happen in the last movie. I’m actually excited to see the next one. Shocker!


Hey friends! I’m currently hosting a giveaway on my Instagram! You can click here to enter and get all the details. Giveaway ends on March 13 at midnight EST.

‘The Hot One’ Is Out Today! Read An Excerpt And Enter the Giveaway

From #1 NYT Bestselling author Lauren Blakely, comes a hot new standalone second chance romance…

THE HOT ONE!

Want a slow burn, sexy-as-sin second chance romance filled with wit, humor and so much heart? Dive in, and get ready to swoon and fan yourself from the heat!

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A sexy, feel-good romance that makes you feel good all over, THE HOT ONE is a hot, second chance standalone romance and the story of confident, charming and cocky attorney Tyler Nichols who is determined to win back his college sweetheart when he runs into her in NYC eight years later. He’ll do anything to win her heart… including stripping naked for her at her office. Can she move on from the hurt and give love a brand new chance? Find out in this sexy, fun, and sizzling romance full of heart, charm and heat! Told in dual POV, THE HOT ONE is being called over-the-top hot and utterly addictive. Grab your copy of THE HOT ONE and get ready to laugh, swoon, and fan yourself from the heat!

The Hot One is love, laugh-out-loud humor, and lust all wrapped up in the perfect package…PURE PLEASURE!!!” ~ Bookalicious Babes Blog

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“Lauren Blakely is the QUEEN of sweet, fun, and steamy reads… Her books are utterly addictive.” ~ Angie’s Dreamy Reads

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A sexy new standalone romance from #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Lauren Blakely…

Ever notice that sometimes a guy will do something really stupid, like let the love of his life slip through his fingers?

Yeah. I’m that guy. But the instant I run into her again I’ve got one goal and one goal only—a second chance. The plan? Go big or go home.

Fine, at first glance, stripping naked at my ex-girlfriend’s place of work might not seem like the brightest way to win her heart again. But trust me on this count—she always liked me best without any clothes on. And sometimes you’ve got to play to your strengths when you’re fighting an uphill battle. As a lawyer, I know how to fight, and I’m prepared to fight hard for her. Because sometimes you need a second chance at first love.

He’s the one who got away . . .

The nerve of Tyler Nichols to reappear like that at my job, showing off his rock-hard body that drove me wild far too many nights. That man with his knowing grin and mischievous eyes is nothing but a cocky jerk to saunter back into my life. Except, what if he’s not . . .? I’ve tried like hell to forget him, but maybe I’m cursed to remember the guy I fell madly in love with eight years ago. Lord knows I’m not over him, so what’s the harm in giving him a week to prove he’s changed in the ways that matter?

After all, how do you resist the hot one . . .?

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Tyler Nichols. Oh. My. God. The title is definitely apropos. This man is over the top HOT in oh so many ways. The Hot One is a read-in-one-sitting kind of story.” ~ Naughty Girls and Their Books

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Excerpt:

She turns her head.

And waves.

And smiles.

That smile makes me feel like I can do this. Like I can win her heart again. Mine pounds faster as I near her, and it’s not just because I happen to think she’s the most stunning woman I’ve ever seen, but because of who she is.

I arrive at her side, and she straightens. “Hey.”

“Hey.”

There’s that awkwardness again, and I want no part of it today. Like the bungee jumper I am, I lean in and dust a quick kiss on her lips. At first, she freezes. That won’t fucking do at all. My tongue darts out, flicking her top lip. A soft breath escapes her, and she gives in. Her sweet lips linger on mine, sending a charge down my spine. My brain leapfrogs ahead, and I picture scooping her up in my arms, carrying her to a quiet little patch of trees, and kissing her till she begs me to take her home.

I want that badly—I want her to beg for it because she’s at her happiest when she’s overcome—but I suspect it’s too soon for her.

Not to mention, screwing in Central Park usually results in a public citation. Public fornicators are never as clandestine as they think they are.

I nibble lightly on her bottom lip for a few seconds, drawing out a throaty murmur from her. Then I somehow find the will to separate.

She blinks. Several times. She sways the slightest bit, like her feet barely touch the ground. Good. I want her to be affected.

She furrows her brow. “I’m sorry, but do we kiss now when we see each other in the park?”

“Evidently we do.”

“Weird. Because I didn’t get that memo.”

I rock on my heels. “Want me to take it back?”

“The kiss or the memo?”

“The memo,” I say matter-of-factly, like this is all so obvious. “You can’t take a kiss back.”

“You sure on that, Nichols?”

“I can try to take back the kiss. Want me to, sweet girl?” I use the term of endearment I once called her. She doesn’t blanch, and that’s a damn good sign.

She smirks. “Be my guest.”

I kiss her once more, like I’m reversing the lip lock, doing it all in rewind, pulling away ever so slowly, ever so softly, leaving her dazed once more.

Perfect.

If she can drive me this crazy, make me this hard, send the temperature in my blood to beyond incendiary, the least I can do is return the favor.

Judging from her reaction, I’m doing it right.

I gesture from her to me. “Like that. I think that’s how you take back a kiss.”

Chuckling, she nods to the running path. “Ready for me to kick your ass?”

Every competitive bone in my body snaps to attention. “We’ll see about that,” I say, then I smack her pink nylon covered behind.

Her eyes widen, saying oh-no-you-didn’t.

But there’s a twinkle in those baby browns that says the lady might like spanking.

That’s new, and it’s most interesting.

I pencil in a new item on my mental to-do list. Find out how much she likes spanking. I never spanked her in college—just wasn’t part of the repertoire. But judging from her response now, I’m more determined than ever to find out everything she likes in and out of bed.

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Author pic - Lauren BlakelyAbout Lauren Blakely:

A #1 New York Times Bestselling author, Lauren Blakely is known for her contemporary romance style that’s hot, sweet and sexy. She lives in California with her family and has plotted entire novels while walking her dogs. With fourteen New York Times bestsellers, her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists more than seventy-five times, and she’s sold more than 1.5 million books. In February she’ll release THE HOT ONE, a standalone contemporary romance. To receive an email when Lauren releases a new book, sign up for her newsletter! laurenblakely.com/newsletter

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