Review: The Friend Zone, by @AuthorAbbyJim

Title: The Friend Zone
Author: Abby Jimenez
Rating: 5/5 stars

Fall in love with this “deliciously hot, sweet” (L.J. Shen, USA Today bestselling author) romantic comedy perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Helen Hoang.

Kristen Petersen doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen — especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.

The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass.” (description from Goodreads)

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I was able to read a few chapter preview of this book earlier in the year. It annoyed me at the time because I only had a few chapters in my hands…and I wanted to read the rest of the book right away. It grabbed me from the beginning. It was a little like torture to wait for the release date. But in the end, it was worth the wait!

I’m sure that’s not enough to go by alone, but if it is, no need to read the rest of this review. Just go read the book. If you need more, here it is.

What caught my attention right away was the characters. Both Josh and Kristen were such real, fully-fleshed out people. I’ve read realistic characters before. And well developed ones. But with these two, I felt that I got even more inside their heads, motivations, and knew how they ticked early on. They did what they did throughout the book because of who they are and no one action stood out as out-of-place to help the plot move.

Another thing I couldn’t get enough of was the overall story. You’ll see in other reviews and interviews with the author why this story stands out from many other romances. Kristen’s condition isn’t often one found in books, etc. I won’t get into that here since others have covered it better than I can. To put it simply, I feel that the author’s choice to right this story the way she did, with her characters dealing with relationship and personal struggles and writing the ending that she did must not have been easy to do. This book packs a real punch, especially in the later half. It doesn’t shy away from bringing on some tears for unexpected reasons. I thank the author for that.

I’m so glad I had the chance to read The Friend Zone. I’m going to read Jimenez’s next book when it comes out next year. I know it will be a great book, even if it may be a challenge for those who’ve read The Friend Zone already. Jimenez is a great author and it’ll be hard to not pick up anything she writes as soon as it’s available.

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If you’d like to buy a copy of this book, you can find it on:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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About the Author:

Abby Jimenez is a Food Network champion, motivational speaker, and contemporary romance novelist living in Minnesota. Abby founded Nadia Cakes out of her home kitchen back in 2007. The bakery has since gone on to win numerous Food Network competitions and has amassed an international cult following. Abby’s wry literary wit was spotlighted as the admin behind the hilarious viral comments on the now famous Nadia Cakes Vageode™ cake.

Abby loves a good romance, coffee, doglets, and not leaving the house. Her debut novel, The Friend Zone, is scheduled for release July 2019.

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Review: Old Bones, by Preston and Child

Title: Old Bones (Nora Kelly #1)
Authors: Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
Rating: 5/5 stars

“The first in the groundbreaking Nora Kelly series from #1 bestselling authors Preston & Child blends the legend of the Donner party with a riveting suspense tale, taking the dynamic duo’s work to new heights.

Nora Kelly, a young but successful curator with a series of important excavations already under her belt, is approached by the handsome Historian, Guy Porter, to lead an expedition unlike any other. Guy tells his story–one involving the ill-fated Donner Party, who became permanently lodged in the American consciousness in the winter of 1847, when the first skeletonized survivors of the party stumbled out of the California mountains, replete with tales of courage, resourcefulness, bad luck, murder, barbarism–and, finally, starvation and cannibalism.

Captivated by the Donner Party, Nora agrees and they venture into the Sierra Nevada in search of the camp. Quickly, they learn that the discovery of the missing starvation camp is just the tip of the iceberg–and that the real truth behind those long-dead pioneers is not only far more complex and surprising than they could have imagined…but it is one that puts them both in mortal danger from a very real, present-day threat in which the search for the lost party, and its fabled fortune in gold, are merely means to a horrifying end.” (description from Goodreads)

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I’ve been a fan of Preston and Child’s work for years now. I first found out about the Pendergast series at around book nine, picked them up from the beginning and always look forward for the latest release. While we’re still waiting on the 19th book in that series, the authors decided to start a new series with Old Bones. I’m glad they did.

This new series takes a side character from the Pendergast novels and follows her on an expedition to find and excavate the “lost camp” from the infamous Donnor Party tragedy. Nora Kelly, an archaeologist, is a welcomed character to explore on her own. But what’s better is the other Pendergast series veteran who plays a big role in the book: Corrie Swanson, now an FBI Special Agent. She’s come a long way since being introduced in Still Life with Crows. I’ve been intrigued by her story more and more in recent novels that I’m glad she’s finally getting her time to shine. And she does in Old Bones.

This was a book I couldn’t put down. Like all of Preston and Child’s previous work, this was engaging, descriptive, and a straight up fun adventure. It’s also not just another Pendergast novel with other characters. This could be another great series that has it’s own strengths and memorable storylines. I know there’s a new Pendergast novel set to release early next year, but now I’m eager to get Nora Kelly’s next book!

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You can buy a copy of this book from:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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About the Authors:

Douglas Preston, who worked for several years in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, is the author of the acclaimed nonfiction works Dinosaurs in the Attic and Cities of Gold, and the novel, Jennie. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Lincoln Child is the co-author, with Douglas Preston, of a number of bestselling thrillers including Relic, Riptide and The Ice Limit. Utopia is Lincoln Child’s first solo novel: he is currently at work on his second. He lives with his wife and daughter in Morristown, New Jersey.

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Review: Nothing But Trouble, by @AmyAndrewsbooks

Title: Nothing But Trouble (Credence, Colorado #1)
Author: Amy Andrews
Rating: 5/5 stars

“For five years, Cecilia Morgan’s entire existence has revolved around playing personal assistant to self-centered former NFL quarterback Wade Carter. But just when she finally gives her notice, his father’s health fails, and Wade whisks her back to his hometown. CC will stay for his dad—for now—even if that means ignoring how sexy her boss is starting to look in his Wranglers.

To say CC’s notice is a bombshell is an insult to bombs. Wade can’t imagine his life without his “left tackle.” She’s the only person who can tell him “no” and strangely, it’s his favorite quality. He’ll do anything to keep her from leaving, even if it means playing dirty and dragging her back to Credence, Colorado, with him.

But now they’re living under the same roof, getting involved in small-town politics, and bickering like an old married couple. Suddenly, five years of fighting is starting to feel a whole lot like foreplay. What’s a quarterback to do when he realizes he might be falling for his “left tackle”? Throw a Hail Mary she’ll never see coming, of course.” (description from Goodreads)

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I picked this one up at random in the store. I’m not really into football, but have been surprised to enjoy a few football romances lately (namely Alexa Martin’s Playbook series). And this one takes place in my state of Colorado. A bonus. I’m glad to have come across this one and look forward to the next release later this month, The Trouble With Christmas.

This book had a lot going for it, for me. There was such a slow burn with a great story of family and community, that I didn’t mind waiting for the romance to pick up. There was a lot of growth for the characters to make that the gradual build and realizations were even more rewarding.

I ending up liking Wade more than expected by the end. And Credence grew on me like most small-towns in books do. I’m excited to see more of the town in the next book. And who knows, maybe CC and Wade will make an appearance too.

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You can buy this book from:

Amazon | Kobo | B&N | iBooks

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About the Author:

Amy is an award-winning, USA Today best-selling Aussie author who has written seventy contemporary romances in both the traditional and digital markets. Her books bring all the feels from sass and quirk and laughter to emotional grit to panty-melting heat. She loves frequent travel, good books and great booze although she’ll take mediocre booze if there’s nothing else. For many, many years she was a registered nurse. Which means she knows things. Anatomical things. And she’s not afraid to use them! She’s just moved back to her central Queensland roots taking a sea change in the pretty little coastal town of Yeppoon where she gets to stare at the ocean all day.

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Review: It Started One Christmas, by @SusanMallery

Title: It Started One Christmas
Author: Susan Mallery
Rating: 4/5 stars

One crisp December night, Keira Carlesso takes in yet another stray—this time, a man. Dalton is a brilliant scientist with no home for the holidays. As Christmas works its magic, two strangers become friends, then best friends, then something much, much more…

Susan Mallery’s heartwarming charmer proves that true love is the greatest Christmas gift of all!” (description from Goodreads)

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It’s coming up on that time of year when I slip in some holiday novellas into my reading. Having finally gotten my hands on a copy of this Susan Mallery novella, it seemed appropriate to start the “season” with it.

I first read of the main character Keira Carlesso in Mallery’s novel When We Found Home earlier this year. This novella continues her story a few years later in her freshman year of college. She was a bit too young in the novel to have her happily ever after like her siblings did. This is novella is her chance.

It’s a quick read. But it’s an enjoyable and light read. Just what I look for with a holiday story. I especially like that the novella jumped time as it went along, but it didn’t feel like it was rushing things. Time went by for good reasons, while not making it feel like the author avoiding writing more. It was natural to the way the two characters’ lives here going and how they were to get to their HEA.

I don’t know if readers who haven’t read the novel will appreciate this novella as much as I have. But it make spark their interest to pick up the novel if they read this first. It’s definitely a nice addition/continuation if you’re feeling like you need more of the Carlesso family.

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You can buy this book from:

Amazon | Kobo | B&N | iBooks

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About the Author:

With more than 25 million books sold worldwide, #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery is known for creating characters who feel as real as the folks next door, and for putting them into emotional, often funny situations readers recognize from their own lives. Susan’s books have made Booklist’s Top 10 Romances list in four out of five consecutive years. RT Book Reviews says, “When it comes to heartfelt contemporary romance, Mallery is in a class by herself.” With her popular, ongoing Fool’s Gold series, Susan has reached new heights on the bestsellers lists and has won the hearts of countless new fans.

Susan grew up in southern California, moved so many times that her friends stopped writing her address in pen, and now has settled in Seattle with her husband and the most delightfully spoiled little dog who ever lived.

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Review: The Wedding Party, by @thebestjasmine

Title: The Wedding Party (The Wedding Date #3)
Author: Jasmine Guillory
Rating: 5/5 stars

Maddie and Theo have two things in common:

1. Alexa is their best friend

2. They hate each other

After an “Oops, we made a mistake” kiss, neither one can stop thinking about the other. With Alexa’s wedding rapidly approaching, Maddie and Theo both share bridal party responsibilities that require more interaction with each other than they’re comfortable with. Underneath the sharp barbs they toss at each other is a simmering attraction that won’t fade. It builds until they find themselves sneaking off together to release some tension when Alexa isn’t looking.

But as with any engagement with a nemesis, there are unspoken rules that must be abided by. First and foremost, don’t fall in love. (description from Goodreads)

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This is a first for me. Well, at least a first in a long time. I don’t normally read the first book in a series and move on to the second, third, etc right away. I may say I will, but other books get in the way. In this case, I read Jasmine Guillory’s The Wedding Date in January. Then The Proposal in May. Now August has ended and I finished reading the “conclusion” The Wedding Party. All in the same year. I think that says a lot for these books and Guillory’s writing. I couldn’t put any of these books down and they just kept getting better.

I liked that each book in this series was different in their own ways. The Wedding Date and The Proposal were loosely linked and had a different feel that make them great stand alones. And then The Wedding Party comes in (while still a good stand alone) to pull them both together, while being it’s own thing. The way Guillory wrote Theo and Maddie’s enemies-to-lovers story made me almost forget about thinking of how much I enjoyed the first two couples. If asked what book is my favorite, I may have to say this one.

One of the highlights of this one, I feel, is that I didn’t feel frustrated by the two. In some other romances there’s often a lot of denial of feelings and not communicating those feelings. I think Theo and Maddie really didn’t know what they were feeling a lot of the time. I really didn’t know how things would play out in the end. I didn’t have to silently yell at them to just talk to each other.

I’ve probably said to much already, though. This book is incredible. If you’ve read the first two, you’ll want to read this. If you haven’t read them, still read this (but maybe read them first). Guillory has a new book coming out later this year that’s already something I want on my TBR. If these first three novels are any indication of where she’s going as a writer, that book will be the best yet.

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If you’d like to buy a copy of this book, you can find it on:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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About the Author:

Jasmine Guillory is the New York Times bestselling author of The Wedding DateThe Proposal, and the forthcoming The Wedding Party. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Real Simple, Oprah Magazine.com, and Shondaland.com. She lives in Oakland, California.

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Review: A Girl Like Her, by @TaliaHibbert

Title: A Girl Like Her (Ravenswood #1)
Author: Talia Hibbert
Rating: 3/5 stars

“She’s the town pariah. He doesn’t give a damn.

In Ruth Kabbah’s world, comic books are king, silence is golden, and human contact is a pesky distraction. She doesn’t like people, which works out just fine, because the people in this small town don’t like her. The exception to that rule? Evan Miller, her way-too-charming next-door neighbour…

Ex-military man Evan is all tattooed muscle on the outside—and a big, cuddly teddy bear beneath. He’s used to coaxing prickly people from their shells, but he’s never met a woman quite like Ruth. Blunt, sarcastic, and secretly sad, she’s his exact opposite. She’s also his deepest desire.

Soon, Evan’s steady patience and smouldering smiles are melting Ruth’s reserve. But when small-town gossip from her past begins to poison her future, she’s forced to make a choice. Should she trust Evan completely? Or is her heart safest alone?

Please be aware: this book contains mentions of intimate partner violence that could trigger certain audiences.” (description from Goodreads)

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Anyone who’s read my reviews before probably knows that I’m a sucker for small-town romance. But I’ve never read a small-town romance set outside of the United States. A Girl Like Her is a first for me for that, as it’s set in England. It’s also my first Talia Hibbert book, mainly because I’ve been slacking. It won’t be my last Hibbert book though. I want to continue reading this series.

What was great about this book was the diverse representation Hibbert wrote into it. The heroine, Ruth, is a woman of color who has autism. The town thinks she’s weird, she keeps to herself, and the hero doesn’t care. He’s new to town and is falling for Ruth. But is autism in your face, over-mentioned, and drilled into the reader’s head? No. Ruth is Ruth and she’s just like any other heroine. I always enjoy books where the author will write underrepresented characters, but not make a big deal about it. That’s how I feel it should be because there are many types of people out there and everyone has a story.

As for the small-town setting in England, that left me wanting a little more. While it didn’t need to be the focus in this particular book, I felt that it was lacking a little bit of the normal feel of a small-town setting. The town itself isn’t really explored until the last quarter of the book, even when the townspeople are cause for conflict throughout. It’s more in the background. That’s part of why I know I’ll be reading the other books in this series. 1) To see more of the characters introduced here, and 2) to explore this town more. It wasn’t a bad start to it, but I crave more.

This was a good book to check out. And a good start to a series. If the buzz around Hibbert is anything to go by, I don’t think I’ll be disappointed moving forward.

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If you’d like to buy a copy of this book, you can find it on:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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About the Author:

Talia Hibbert is a Black British author who lives in a bedroom full of books. Supposedly, there is a world beyond that room, but she has yet to drum up enough interest to investigate.

She writes steamy, diverse romance because she believes that people ofmarginalised identities need honest and positive representation. She also rambles intermittently about the romance genre over at Frolic Media. Her interests include makeup, junk food, and unnecessary sarcasm.

Talia self-publishes via Nixon House and is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan at Handspun Literary.

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Review: The Lemon Sisters, by @JillShalvis

Title: The Lemon Sisters (Wildstone #3)
Author: Jill Shalvis
Rating: 4/5 stars

The New York Times bestselling author of Rainy Day Friends and Lost and Found Sisters returns to Wildstone, California…

Brooke Lemon has always led the life she wanted, wild adventures—and mistakes—included, something her perfect sister, Mindy, never understood. So when Mindy shows up on Brooke’s doorstep in the throes of a break-down with her three little kids in tow, Brooke’s shocked.

Wanting to make amends, Brooke agrees to trade places, taking the kids back to Wildstone for a few days so Mindy can pick up the pieces and put herself back together. What Brooke doesn’t admit is she’s just as broken . . . Also how does one go home after seven years away? It doesn’t take long for Brooke to come face-to-face with her past, in the form of one tall, dark, sexy mistake. But Garrett’s no longer interested. Only his words don’t match his actions, leaving Brooke feeling things she’d shoved deep.

Soon the sisters begin to wonder: Are they lemons in life? In love? All they know is that neither seems to be able to run far enough to outpace her demons. And when secrets surface, they’ll have to learn that sometimes the one person who can help you the most is the one you never thought to ask.” (description from Goodreads)

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This third novel in Jill Shalvis’ Wildstone series came…and went in just a few days. Yea, I blew through it without realizing that I should have savored it. Now I don’t have any new Shalvis books to read until the next Heartbreaker Bay books in the fall.

As with the other Wildstone books, sisterhood (in one way or another) and discovering what that really means is a driving theme for the characters. In a sense The Lemon Sisters is also a story with three different second chance storylines. In the romance genre that Shalvis often writes within, second chance romances are common (and one of my favorite tropes). In this novel, the author steps it up a notch. The readers gets a second chance at sisterhood, marriage, and a rekindling of an old but unrealized love. It’s three well-written, compelling journeys for the “price-of-one”.

Whether you’re looking for well written characters getting their life back together, marriage back together, or just a book about family, this Wildstone book might be just what you’re looking for.

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If you’d like a copy of this book, you can find it on:

Amazon | B&N | KoboiBooks

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About the Author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s sexy contemporary and award-winning books wherever romances are sold and click on the blog button above for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

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