Monday, October 15, 2018

Review: Heat Exchange by Shannon Stacey

24692826
Series: Boston Fire Book #1
Format: ebook
Rating: 3 Stars
How I Got It: Borrowed from Library
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Carina Press

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

Lydia Kincaid's shipping back to Boston, but she's not happy about it. She left to get away from the firefighting community—her father was a firefighter, her brother's a firefighter and, more important, her ex is a firefighter. But family is number one, and her father needs her help running the pub he bought when he retired. Soon, Lydia finds it hard to resist the familiar comfort and routine, and even harder to resist her brother's handsome friend Aidan. 

Aidan Hunt is a firefighter because of the Kincaid family. He's had the hots for Lydia for years, but if ever a woman was off-limits to him, it's her. Aside from being his mentor's daughter, she's his best friend's sister. The ex-wife of a fellow firefighter. But his plan to play it cool until she leaves town again fails, and soon he and Lydia have crossed a line they can't uncross. 

As Aidan and Lydia's flirtation turns into something more serious, Lydia knows she should be planning her escape. Being a firefighter's wife was the hardest thing she's ever done, and she doesn't know if she has the strength to do it again. Aidan can't imagine walking away from Boston Fire—even for Lydia. The job and the brotherhood are his life; but if he wants Lydia in it, he'll have to decide who's first in his heart. 

Review

After getting book for in this series from NetGalley, I had to read the whole series.

This follows Lydia who has married to a firefighter and her dad was one. So, now she's basically sworn off firefighters. But she ends up in a relationship with her brother's best friend, Aidan, who is also a firefighter.

Most of the tension comes from her dislike of firefighter life/culture and Aidan being her brother's best friend. Her dealing with how firefighters act and bond was interesting to read. And it's a realistic struggle for a couple which I'm always a fan of reading. However, I really dislike the whole can't date your best friend's sibling trope. 

Lydia and Aidan are both fun characters. The romance was well done other than the brother/best friend thing. The story felt like it ended a bit abruptly. An epilogue would've helped with that, but I also love epilogues in my romances.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Friday, October 12, 2018

September Wrap-Up (2018)

Honestly, I don't remember September.

I do know my nephew was born at the beginning of the month. And my dance classes started up again. Both of those were exciting things. I'm very happy to see pictures of my nephew every day. 

I didn't really read a lot this month. I haven't really been in a reading mood lately. I haven't been in an "anything" mood if I'm being honest. 

So, these are the books I did read this month:

Get Out of Your Own Way-3 Stars
40519777

Toil & Trouble-3 Stars
36426163

A Kiss at Midnight-4 Stars
6957682

Under Control-4 Stars
35287633

Heat Exchange-3 Stars
24692826

Controlled Burn-4 Stars
25125233

Fully Ignited-4 Stars
26290972

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Review: Toil & Trouble Edited by Tess Sharpe & Jessica Spotswood

36426163
Anthology
Format: ebook
Rating: 3 Stars
How I Got It: NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Supernatural
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

History tells us women accused of witchcraft were often outsiders: educated, independent, unmarried, unwilling to fall in line with traditional societal expectations.

Bold. Powerful. Rebellious.

A bruja’s traditional love spell has unexpected results. A witch’s healing hands begin to take life instead of giving it when she ignores her attraction to a fellow witch. In a terrifying future, women are captured by a cabal of men crying witchcraft and the one true witch among them must fight to free them all. In a desolate past, three orphaned sisters prophesize for a murderous king. Somewhere in the present, a teen girl just wants to kiss a boy without causing a hurricane.

From good witches to bad witches, to witches who are a bit of both, this is an anthology of diverse witchy tales from a collection of diverse, feminist authors. The collective strength of women working together—magically or mundanely--has long frightened society, to the point that women’s rights are challenged, legislated against, and denied all over the world. Toil & Trouble delves deep into the truly diverse mythology of witchcraft from many cultures and feminist points of view, to create modern and unique tales of witchery that have yet to be explored. 

Review

***I received this book via NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review***

I was pretty excited about this collection. I have liked Jessica Spotswood's Cahill Witch Chronicles and there aren't a lot of witch books/stores out there. But I ended up rather disappointed.

Short stories are incredibly hard to write, in my opinion. It is a particular skill set which not all authors have. I have not read most of these authors longer works so I can't speak to their writing more broadly. 

A lot of the stories came across as pushing an agenda. I'm not offended by the content, but it is annoying to me when things feel forced. I think it's like when a major issue/event happens and then popular shows need to have a similar story line to "address" it. You can do a PSA without feeling like a PSA. 

There were a few stories I did enjoy reading. Jessica Spotswood's and "Death in the Saw Tooths"-sorry I can't remember the author's name-were both interesting. And they made me want to read more like a full length novel of those stories.

I wouldn't necessarily recommend this, but I don't want to just dismiss it. One of the things about an anthology is that it exposes you to a large amount of authors/stories. Most likely you'll find something you like and maybe you'll find a new favorite author.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Monday, October 8, 2018

Book Review: Under Control by Shannon Stacey

35287633
Series: Boston Fire Book #5
Format: ebook
Rating: 4 Stars
How I Got It: NetGalley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Carina Press

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

When faced with the opportunity to change shifts while staying in the same house, veteran firefighter Derek Gilman jumps at the chance. His new schedule means not working Saturdays, which means more time to spend with his two kids. His divorce may have been amicable, but being a firefighter and a single dad is a lot to juggle. And when fate brings a gorgeous, wealthy woman into his life, he’s pretty sure he can’t handle more than he already is.

Olivia McGovern loves plans. She planned to start her own business and planned its growth. It’s earning her seven figures now, but her personal life simply doesn’t exist. Getting trapped in a broken elevator figures in exactly nowhere, and freaking out in front of a sexy firefighter definitely isn’t on the agenda. Especially not one with two kids and an ex.

What would have been a random incident with an attractive stranger becomes something more when a charity event brings them back together. They’re from different sides of the tracks, literally—with friends, family and careers to consider. But as Derek and Olivia are discovering, chemistry doesn’t allow for plans, and love doesn’t bother with logistics.

Review

***I received this book via NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review***

This was my first Shannon Stacey book! I've heard about her for years, but never pulled the trigger. I totally wish I had read her before. This was a really good book.

I'm not sure I've ever read a firefighter story before. I liked it. The firehouse kind of creates a found family. That is one of my favorite things to read.

The romance was well-paced and well-written. Olivia and Derek have demanding careers which they really care about. They have to navigate that work-life balance. That felt very natural and realistic-sometimes romance novels ignores those realities of life.

Derek is divorced and has kids. I don't particularly like stories with kids, but this one worked. Again, I liked that Ms. Stacey addressed the difficulties of dating after divorce and dating someone that has kids. 

I really enjoyed these characters and the world. I immediately borrowed the other books in the series from the library. And I can't wait for the next one in the series.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Friday, October 5, 2018

August Wrap-Up (2018)

Honestly, I've been putting off writing this. And who knows when I'll actually post it. I didn't read a ton in August. And I'm not sure I did any blog or YouTube posts.

Things have just been crazy. Between work and my mom's health I've been struggling to find the time and energy to read and post. I've also started focusing on my own health and exercise.

Anyways, here are the books I read and their ratings:

Speakeasy-4 Stars
39900826

Beyond the Castle-4 Stars
36184582

Hard Sell-3 Stars
37971515

Say You'll Remember Me-4 Stars
35133826

Man Hands-4 Stars
36668469

What the F-4 Stars
34843724

Into the Fire-3 Stars
23586994

Joy of Hate-4 Stars 
15796711

Thanks for reading!
Holly 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Review: Hard Sell by Lauren Layne

37971515
Series: Wall Street Book #2
Format: ebook
Pages: 252
Rating: 3 Stars
How I Got It: NetGalley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Montlake Publishing

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

Twenty-eight and filthy rich, Matt Cannon is the youngest broker on Wall Street. He may be a “boy wonder,” but he’s every inch a man. Ask any woman—any night. But when Matt’s latest fling makes scandalous headlines, his clients get anxious, and his bosses at Wolfe Investments level an ultimatum: keep his assets zipped, get a “real” girlfriend, and clean up his act. Only one woman can help Matt with something this hard.

For PR genius Sabrina Cross, the best fixer in Manhattan, playing Matt’s steady is going to be a challenge, even if it’s just for show. They already have an explosive history, she can’t stand the cocky party boy, and worse—she can’t stop thinking about him. So who’ll dare to break her “no touching” rule first? Because when that happens, Matt and Sabrina’s game of let’s pretend will get so hot it could set both their reputations on fire.

Review

***I received this book via NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review***

This was a quick and fairly fun read. However, it was a little disappointing. It felt unpolished.

The characters are interesting. The friendships (male, female, large group, etc.) is probably the best part. The hero and heroine-Matt and Sabrina-have a lot of potential. That's what is disappointing. Looking at their past, they should be very compelling, but instead it's never developed enough. I think it's that the emotion of their emotion of their various situations is never really explored. This means even thought they shouldn't be, Matt and Sabrina both come across one-dimensional. 

The romance was good and fun to read. IT was an interesting play on the enemies to lovers trope. I liked their bickering. They had a good push and pull to their interactions that built a strong chemistry. There was a lot of mentions to previous interactions from before this book. It would've been nice to get some flashbacks of those interactions to more fully flush that out.

While this is my least favorite Lauren Layne book, I do still really enjoy her writing. I will continue to read her books and would even read the others in this series-especially what I assume will be the next one.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Friday, August 10, 2018

Review: Speakeasy by Sarina Bowen

39900826
Series: True North Book #5
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 272
Rating: 4 Stars
How I Got It: Purchased
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Tuxbury Publishing

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

Sometimes you fall for Mr. Right. And sometimes for Mr. Right Now… 

May 

Did you hear the one about the girl who walks into a bar and catches her live-in lover kissing someone else? No? You’re the only one in town who missed it. 
Luckily Alec is there to wrap me up in strong arms and carry me out the door before things get too ugly. And that’s not all Alec is good at. Our unexpected chemistry makes him the perfect rebound guy. 

Alec
 
I should know better than to hook up with my rival’s little sister, but the fiery look in May’s eyes really turns my crank. She needs cheering up, and I’m just the guy for the job. 
It’s not like I’ll fall in love. Not even after a string of scorching hot trysts, and the realization that we’re good at the same things: wild nights and familial disappointment. I don’t do love, never have, never will. So this is the perfect arrangement, for both of us. 
Nobody would approve, but nobody has to know…

Review

Speakeasy was a great read, but probably my least favorite in the True North series. It's still 4 stars so of course I liked it.

I definitely cared about May and Alec. Alec a little more. But I wasn't as emotionally invested as I was to the characters in the previous books. Alec is a likable goofball on the surface, but he has a strong desire to be respected. It did break my heart a little when people would dismiss him or speak down to him. And I like seeing how May had to deal with her family and how they treated her. It's also always interesting to get in the head of an alcoholic/addict.

The romance was really fun. It starts out as a rebound hook-up which is a common thing in romance. I liked the chemistry and conversations between them. You could especially tell how much Alec cared about Meg.

Before I even read this book-with just the synopsis-I was thrown. I thought May was a lesbian the whole time. Maybe she was described as bisexual and I don't remember it. I guess it doesn't actually matter, but it was just odd for her to end up with a guy when that wasn't what I previously thought would happen. This probably wouldn't be a "thing" upon a re-read and my rating may go up. I was just through off by it and couldn't stop thinking about it.

Thanks for reading!
Holly