19 June 2014

Oh, hey, a life update.

Hi! Just a quick life update -- I've got some huge, awesome, super fun things going on right now (and for the whole summer), so I'm a bit behind on finishing up book posts (although I've got a whole bunch of halfway done drafts). Soon! I swear! (This post is to hold me accountable.)

Anyway! My husband & I bought a house and are super excited to move into it next month. Before then, we'll be getting some work done on it (electrical update, sheetrock/door changes, new hardwood floors!).

And, oh yeah, I'm in a summer class (for teacher certification) that is Monday-Thursday from 6-9pm and all day Saturday for seven weeks. After my husband leaves for work in the morning, I don't see him again until 9:30pm! And I eat dinner IN MY CAR BEFORE CLASS. Yikes! I sort of hope it speeds by... but I'm excited to learn all I can and thankful I don't have to work in the daytime before I go to class. It sounds crazy, but apparently the state of Texas doesn't allow an accelerated teacher certification program reduce the requirements, so my course and the next several months has to involve just as many class hours, and observations as any regular program that takes much longer. Phew.

I'm reading EDUCATING ESME right now, which is probably not of any interest to people not pursuing a teaching certification, but still! It's an interesting journal documenting a new teacher's whole first year teaching 5th grade in Chicago.

And, of course, I've read a bunch of romances and some YA and some historical fiction recently, so posts for those will be up soon. Swear. (Some have NetGalley due dates, so I definitely won't miss them!)

Hope you're having a great June!

17 June 2014

Until We Touch (Fool's Gold #15)


UNTIL WE TOUCH

(Fool's Gold #15)
by Susan Mallery
Published June 24, 2014 by Harlequin
Romance - Kindle edition, 384p.

Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin for providing me with a digital copy for review.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

After a family tragedy, former football hero Jack McGarry keeps the world at arm's length—a challenge now that his PR firm has moved to neighborly Fool's Gold, California.

Larissa Owens knows where she stands—Jack sees her as just another one of the guys. No matter what her heart wishes, Jack's her boss, not her boyfriend. But then Larissa's big secret is revealed…by her mother!

When Jack discovers the truth about Larissa's feelings, her touch suddenly becomes tantalizing, and he's not sure he wants to resist. But if he gives in to desire, heartache is sure to follow. Friendship or true love—will Jack go for the ultimate play?

MY THOUGHTS ON THE BOOK:

UNTIL WE TOUCH is the story of PR firm owner/former pro-football player, Jack, and Larissa, his assistant/the company masseuse. He has trauma in his past that makes him refuse to truly connect with someone, and she's always on a mission to rescue something (usually an animal, even if it means Jack ends up with a woodland creature sleeping in his living room for a few days). When Larissa's mother visits and plants the seed in Jack's mind that his relationship with Larissa could be more than professional/close friends, suddenly he's unable to relax in his massages, and starts to consider her from a new view.

Since I've read fifteen books in this series, you could say I'm invested. I love going back to the town of Fool's Gold with each book to enjoy a new story, and also pop in on a bunch of the previous characters and favorite places. At times, it can be a bit repetitive (Yes, the mayor still somehow always knows everything & old lady, Eddie, is still eye balling the younger men.), but that's part of the fun... A new Fool's Gold book is like heading back to a tiny town you love, where you know everyone and enjoy seeing them find true love. The author keeps things from going stale with interesting careers, as well as by mixing previous characters into different groups of friends around town to keep things familiar, but fresh. She also frequently includes lovable pets, and UNTIL WE TOUCH is no exception.

If you're a fan of the Fool's Gold series, UNTIL WE TOUCH should be on your reading list. Focusing on Jack and Larissa brings the story's focus into the PR firm and a group of people who are newer to town, and therefore still find surprises lurking around the corners for them.

If you haven't read any of the series yet, I'd recommend heading back to the first book and starting there. While I'm sure you could pick this one up and figure things out, a lot of the richness in the story lies in how well you know the characters and the town from the previous books, so you'd miss a lot of what I love most.

GET THE BOOK: Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound | Book Depository

06 June 2014

Four Friends by Robyn Carr


FOUR FRIENDS

by Robyn Carr
Published March 2014 by Harlequin MIRA
Fiction - Kindle edition, 400p.

Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin for providing me with a digital copy for review.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Gerri can't decide what's more devastating: learning her rock-solid marriage has big cracks, or the anger she feels as she tries to repair the damage. Always the anchor for friends and her three angst-ridden teenagers, it's time to look carefully at herself. The journey for Gerri and her family is more than revealing—it's transforming.

Andy doesn't have a great track record with men, and she's come to believe that for her a lasting love is out of reach. When she finds herself attracted to her down-to-earth, ordinary contractor—a man without any of the qualities that usually appeal to her—she questions everything she thought she wanted in life.

Sonja's lifelong pursuit of balance is shattered when her husband declares he's through with her New Age nonsense and walks out. There's no herbal tonic or cleansing ritual that can restore her serenity—or her sanity.

Miraculously, it's BJ, the reserved newcomer to Mill Valley, who steps into their circle and changes everything. The woman with dark secrets opens up to her neighbors, and together they get each other back on track, stronger as individuals and unfaltering as friends.

MY THOUGHTS ON THE BOOK: 

FOUR FRIENDS is not my usual sort of book. In fact, when I'm making a point about why I like YA so much, I'll often say that one reason is I never have to read about a character going through a divorce or a married protagonist cheating on their spouse. (It's totally different to read about it through a teens perspective if one of their parents are doing it.) So, it took me quite a while to get past the point where I kept wanting to stop reading this book... There was just so much bad marriage mojo and it made me feel bad.

The four friends are four women living on the same street. Three have been close friends for a while and one is a hesitant newcomer. The three friends all experience some major upheaval in their married lives, which I wasn't crazy about reading as a happily married woman... It was just so depressing and sometimes infuriating and didn't leave much room for happiness in their lives.

However! Once the bonds of friendship are really defined and visible, once Bob and his sweet dog show up, and once a few of the kids start mattering more to the story, things improved. The women are great friends to each other, no matter what, even when each of their own lives are falling apart. I loved not ever having to wonder which one of the women would backstab the other, because their devotion to friendship is just so clear throughout. Beyond the women themselves, Bob is great, and the two older teen sons of Gerri and Andy have a few lovely moments.

So while FOUR FRIENDS is not an easy read and certainly took time for me to want to keep reading, at a certain point I did find myself wrapped up in knowing the outcome for each of the four women, rooting for them in different ways, and having to keep flipping the pages to find out as soon as possible. There's a good amount of adultery (or at least mentions of it) in here, so if that's a particular sore spot, tread carefully. (It's not the four friends scheming about cheating on their husbands though, so don't worry that you'll be forced into rooting for anything super shady.) Robyn Carr is obviously a solid writer and I'll certainly be checking out some of her other books... maybe I'll go with one with a bit more romance next time!

GET THE BOOK: Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound | Book Depository

03 June 2014

Before We Kiss (Fool's Gold #14)


BEFORE WE KISS

(Fool's Gold #14)
by Susan Mallery
Published May 27, 2014 by Harlequin
Romance - Kindle edition, 384p.

Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin for providing me with a digital copy for review.


ABOUT THE BOOK:

Former pro-football kicker Sam Ridge has notoriously bad luck with women—from cheaters to fame chasers. Still, the gorgeous brunette at the bar in Fool's Gold looks harmless—until she takes him home and he discovers a room devoted to securing a man, for life.

Dellina Hopkins never guessed that storing gowns from a friend's bridal boutique would chase away her first and only fling. After her parents died, she skipped her "wild youth" to raise her sisters. She doesn't want forever from Sam, but one night—all night—would've been nice.

His clean getaway gets messy when his firm hires Dellina to plan an event. As long hours lead to late nights, the two succumb to temptation again. Has Sam's luck finally changed? Or this time, will Dellina be the one to run?

MY THOUGHTS ON THE BOOK:

BEFORE WE KISS is the classic fun and sexy Fool's Gold novel you should expect fourteen books into the series. Sam, one of the former football players who moved to town as a part of the PR firm, has a track record of choosing the wrong woman. When he ends up at Dellina's one night, he thinks things are going well (and totally normally), until he accidentally sees her guest room, which is full of wedding gowns and a white board featuring a troubling list. So of course he runs! Months later, the firm needs an event planned, and Dellina is just the person they need to do it... as long as Sam can clear up the awkwardness that has plagued them since he ran out on their night.

I absolutely loved watching their relationship unfold. The guest room that made Sam run is a source of hilarity and a fun explanation for why their promising connection stalled months before. While watching Dellina plan the event, you see she runs her business well, except for the accounting bits... and Sam just happens to be great with numbers. They're fantastic at working together professionally, which leaves you wondering if that could translate to their personal lives. They're both sweet and in need of a solid, loving relationship, and I found myself rooting for them throughout the book... even when they were trying to avoid it.

BEFORE WE KISS is a great addition to the Fool's Gold series. I love the relationships within the PR firm and it was nice getting to know Dellina and her event planning business, too. Sam was overdue for a successful romantic relationship, and Dellina's been waiting for one forever, too. If you're a fan of the series, this one won't disappoint... I'm looking forward to book #15!


Wondering if you'd like to start the Fool's Gold series? Take a look at my quick rundown of the first six books right here.

02 June 2014

Waiting On You (Blue Heron #3) by Kristan Higgins


WAITING ON YOU 

(Blue Heron #3)
by Kristan Higgins
Published April 2014 by Harlequin
Adult Romance - Kindle, 384p.

Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin for providing me with a digital copy for review.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Colleen O'Rourke is in love with love... just not when it comes to herself. Most nights, she can be found behind the bar at the Manningsport, New York, tavern she owns with her twin brother, doling out romantic advice to the lovelorn, mixing martinis and staying more or less happily single. See, ten years ago, Lucas Campbell, her first love, broke her heart... an experience Colleen doesn't want to have again, thanks. Since then, she's been happy with a fling here and there, some elite-level flirting and playing matchmaker to her friends.

But a family emergency has brought Lucas back to town, handsome as ever and still the only man who's ever been able to crack her defenses. Seems like maybe they've got some unfinished business waiting for them—but to find out, Colleen has to let her guard down, or risk losing a second chance with the only man she's ever loved.

MY THOUGHTS ON THE BOOK:

WAITING ON YOU may be my favorite book in the Blue Heron series. It's full of so many great moments, both funny and full of emotion. Colleen loves to give out romantic advice from behind the bar at her tavern, but isn't nearly great at advising herself. Lucas is her first love who shows back up in town due to a family emergency. They're both available and obviously have a lasting connection. Their relationship obviously involved a whole lot of intensity and passion, and it definitely hasn't all disappeared with time! Colleen's the great friend you want to see happy and Lucas is the guy who's been selling himself short.

The book is a bit of a roller coaster, with some seriously cute & funny moments and plenty of emotionally draining parts too. Characters from previous books pop back up in this one, and since Colleen co-owns the bar with her brother, Connor, we get to know him a whole lot better too. (Maybe a Connor book is coming?)

WAITING ON YOU is full of heart and humor and makes me wish the next book in the series was out so I could stay in the world Kristan Higgins has created.

GET THE BOOK: Goodreads | Amazon