Category Archives: Book Review

Book Review: Mann Cakes by Mysti Parker

Title: Mann Cakes51efs1nWV2L__SY346_

Author: Mysti Parker

Genre: Romance

Rating: 4/5 Stars




 

Twin brothers and Air Force vets, Tanner and Garrett Mann, return from deployment to find their thriving business burned to the ground. Time for Plan B: Move back to their hometown of Beach Pointe to start over.

But that means running into Paige and Morgan Baxter –gorgeous, curvy, and owners of Two Sisters Cupcakes.

There’s an old diner for sale across town, Garrett’s a great cook, and Tanner has an idea. They’ll make savory cupcakes that men would like. We’re talking bacon and Cheez Whiz. Even better? They’ll call it Mann Cakes. Problem is, they end up attracting an unexpected crowd.

Paige is furious. Every man in her life has left her behind, including Tanner. She’s sacrificed everything for her shop. She won’t lose it over some egotistical ex-boyfriend, even if he does have an Air Force-chiseled body. Her younger sister, Morgan, isn’t helping matters. She’s been gaga over Garrett since high school.

To hell with that. If it’s a fight Tanner wants, it’s a fight he’ll get. But how much is Paige willing to risk to win a cupcake war?




 

Set in a small Kentucky community, Mann Cakes is opening its doors in the hopes of giving the Beach Pointe men some savory cupcake options. However, the women end up being the ones with more than sweet tooth’s, wanting selfies with the Mann brothers instead of making cupcake purchases and also taking away some of the Baxter girls business. Garrett and Tanner man have history with the Baxter ladies though, Tanner dated Paige and then left, breaking her heart so with their return, she’s ready to take Mann Cakes down. Meanwhile, Morgan and Garrett start something they wish happened when they were younger.

Mann Cakes is a cute and sweet (pun intended) romance with a hint of a thrill. Though there’s drama in the relationships, it’s all innocent and fun. The romance is strong in this one with many swoon worthy moments and not too many erotic scenes which is refreshing. So if you’re wanting to take a break from your normal smutty romance, this book is for you. There were only a handful of ‘sexy’ scenes with strong descriptions.

I wish there had been more to the thrill part of this. The Mann brothers original business had been burned to the ground, Tanner’s car had been vandalized and then the big catastrophe at the end. I feel like the Mann brothers should have been way more concerned about someone out there that was out to get them.

I didn’t give this novel a perfect score because I wanted more tension, information on the possible threat and I think it should have only been in Tanner and Paige’s POV’s. Maybe Mysti could have made a follow up in Garrett and Morgan’s POV.

With summer vacations coming up, this is a great read for lounging by the pool. And if you’re addicted to sweets like me, your mouth will be salivating from the cover and reading about cupcakes all day.

Book Review: Fireworks by Katie Cotugno

Title: FireworksFireworks_JKT

Author: Katie Cotugno

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 4/5 Stars




 

It was always meant to be Olivia. She was the talented one, the one who had been training to be a star her whole life. Her best friend, Dana, was the level-headed one, always on the sidelines, cheering her best friend along.

But everything changes when Dana tags along with Olivia to Orlando for the weekend, where superproducer Guy Monroe is holding auditions for a new singing group, and Dana is discovered too. Dana, who’s never sung more than Olivia’s backup. Dana, who wasn’t even looking for fame. Next thing she knows, she and Olivia are training to be pop stars, and Dana is falling for Alex, the earnest, endlessly talented boy who’s destined to be the next big thing.

It should be a dream come true, but as the days of grueling practice and constant competition take their toll, things between Olivia and Dana start to shift . . . and there’s only room at the top for one girl. For Olivia, it’s her chance at her dream. For Dana, it’s a chance to escape a future that seems to be closing in on her. And for these lifelong best friends, it’s the adventure of a lifetime—if they can make it through.

Set in evocative 1990s Orlando, New York Times bestselling author Katie Cotugno’s Fireworks brings to life the complexity of friendship, the excitement of first love, and the feeling of being on the verge of greatness.




 

Katie Cotugno just released a new book and of course I had it pre-ordered months ago! Fireworks fell a little short for me though, compared to her previous novels How to Love and 99 Days, yet I still devoured this book in a matter of days because Cotugno’s writing is so easy and fun to read.

The characters in Fireworks weren’t as easy for me to love as characters in her previous books. I felt like everyone was unreachable, like they were on a pedestal and I couldn’t relate to them easily. Dana came from a not so well off family, so she should have been easy to relate to, but I wanted to see more of her home life. What did her mother think of her leaving town to become a girl in a pop group? Did her mom even notice she left? And why didn’t she bring a swim suit with her to Orlando?! Don’t Floridians always have swimsuits with them no matter what?!

The romance was just enough in this, I was kind of worried it would be lacking based on the plot, but I was very pleased in the end. I found myself putting a ton of trust in Alex, more trust than I’ve ever put in a male character. He was so kind and patient with Dana while she was going through her problems in Orlando and back home in Jessel.

What I find funny is I never seem to like Cotugno’s main characters best friend. I hated Olivia so much. She came off as a backstabber from the beginning. We don’t see a great conclusion between ‘Dolivia’, but I think it’s the only conclusion that would have worked.

And that cover, Katie, keep doing the polaroid look on your books! Like 99 Days and this, they are so aesthetically pleasing! I’m loving all of her covers so much!

Though Dana doesn’t get a 100% happy ending, I like to believe that she was at least happy with her decisions. And I love that about all three of Cotugno’s books. She leaves them open-ended but without a cliffhanger. You know that the character is going to be all right, but they still have some conflict by the last sentence, just nothing major.

Overall, if you’re going to read anything by Cotugno, I’d read 99 Days or How to Love first. Fireworks doesn’t do Cotugno’s writing justice. However, I am so pumped for her next novel, Top Ten, that’s supposed to come out later this year.

 

May Wrap Up & June TBR

 

May Wrap Up

Shadowlith by Stuart Thaman

If you love fantasy and you’re looking for an up and coming author, you need to check this book out. It’s great for people who are trying to get into reading the fantasy genre and lovers of fantasy already. Check out my review here.

Fireworks by Katie Cotugno

Huge fan of Katie Cotugno’s writing! Sadly, this one fell short for me but it was devoured in about a week because I love her writing so much. If you’re going to read any of her books, my top recommendation is 99 Days. Review coming on my blog June 9th.

June TBR

I want June to be a decent reading month and I think I can manage 4-5 books. I don’t have Camp NaNo until July, so I plan on reading my heart out!

 

Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry- The second book in the Thunder Road series. I meant to finish this one in May but I didn’t feel like reading because I was sick for about a week and a half.

Long Way Home by Katie McGarry- The third book in the Thunder Road series! I’m just going to finish the series this month because I know they’re fun and easy reads.

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen- New Release from Sarah Dessen! This comes out June 6th, and I’m pumped up for this one!

Mann Cakes by Mysti Parker- My husband was at a book signing in April and he brought me home a copy of this from one of his author friends. She managed to sell out of this book! So cool!

Into the Deep by Samantha Young- This one was recommended to me by a friend and I decided to give the series a shot considering they take place in Ireland. I recently got my DNA test results back and found out I’m 24% Irish, so now I’m kind of obsessed with anything related to my ‘home country’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Shadowlith by Stuart Thaman

Title: Shadowlith (Book 1 in The Umbral Blade Series)1490375765404

Author: Stuart Thaman

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 Stars




 

Alistair the Fourth was a mighty general from a long-forgotten war. Four hundred years later, Alster Lightbridge is barely a shadow of his legendary namesake. Crippled and confined to his family’s estate, he spends his days dreaming of something larger than himself—something worthy of his name.

Encouraged by his tutor to explore the Lightbridge archive, Alster discovers a magical dagger with the power to cleave shadows from their bodies. Blade in hand, Alster finally understands his purpose, though he needs to find a four-centuries-old grave in order to fulfill it.




 

I don’t read fantasy… at all… but when my husband tells me that he’s putting out a YA fantasy novel, I have to read it! That being said, I’m going to try my best to make this review as unbiased as possible, though I do believe it is well deserving of a perfect 5/5 star review.

What I love to see is writer’s get better as they progress in their novels. This being Thaman’s second fantasy series, I believe it’s a huge step forward in his writing. If you were to compare this novel to his first book, you could tell more time and effort has been put forth.

It’s also an easier read, and there’s less characters to remember than the first fantasy series, The Goblin Wars. I’m used to reading contemporary YA where there are only a handful of characters to follow. Shadowlith has about six main characters to focus on. This allows you to feel more emotions for each character. Elsey was probably my favorite character (that survived) because of the changes she went through during the beginning of a book. She was so excited to get out of the town that she grew up in and go on an adventure with her friend, but then accidents happen and she realizes this adventure to find the Shadow King’s tomb is not for the faint of heart. I really hope in the second book that we see her grow up more and become a super badass female worrier.

Now the ending….

No spoilers ahead! I promise.

I felt like this book closed off on a good note. Let’s say if you didn’t want to read the rest of the books in the series, you could stop (but you don’t want to!) However, Thaman does set our characters up for a huge plot for the next book which I really loved.

Definitely, check this one out. Loved Alster and Elsey.

 

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen Review

Title: Saint Anythingsaint_anything-540x822

Author: Sarah Dessen

Genre: Contemporary Young Adult

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars




 

Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.




 

I’ve read seven of Sarah Dessen’s books, now eight and I’ve always been a huge fan. Her books are super cute and fun to read. I usually reserve her books for my summer time reading, but I finished this one in March because I wanted to get it out of the way before her new novel comes out.

This one fell a little short for me, but the writing was fantastic and it’s one of Dessen’s more mature novels, as in the plot is something an adult may experience and I felt like Sydney was very mature for her age, even for a YA character. She’s gone through something life changing that not many teens her age have to deal with, which makes her seem wise beyond her years.

I’m guilty of loving ‘insta-love’ and this book was not that at all like Dessen’s other books. This novel is more of a story of friendship, to my surprise I loved seeing Sydney’s interactions with the Chatham’s (mainly Layla, Mac and Mrs. Chatham).

You know what’s nice? Seeing our main character interact with her parents. It’s a pet peeve of mine when parents are only mentioned in one scene of a YA novel. In this novel, we see her parents in almost every chapter. I can’t stand her mother’s opinions and choices, but it’s nice to still know she is a teenager and someone’s at home worrying about her.

Was anyone else thoroughly creeped out by Ames from the very beginning?!  Way to go Mrs. Dessen for coming up with the most unsettling character I’ve ever encountered in your books!

The character development in this novel was excellent. Dessen manages to pull us into a scene and then give us some backstory on the character and then get us back into the scene again.

However, if you’re looking for a cute summer love story like we’re used to from Dessen, you’re not going to find it in this one. The romance doesn’t begin until the novel is over 75% of the way through and we don’t see much either, just a few kisses. Mac seemed like the only underdeveloped character because of this. I really wanted to see more back story with his weight and why it didn’t work out with his ex girlfriend. I probably would have given this a perfect rating had their been more of a relationship like I’m used to while reading Dessen novels.

Dessen did give us a great ending though, solving most of Sydney’s problems up in the final chapter… well except for the one…

Anyone planning on reading Once and For All!? I have it on preorder!

 

Trusting You and Other Lies Book Review

32441709Title: Trusting You and Other Lies

Author: Nicole Williams

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Publication Date: June 20, 2017




 

Phoenix can’t imagine anything worse than being shipped off to family summer camp. Her parents have been fighting for the past two years–do they seriously think being crammed in a cabin with Phoenix and her little brother, Harry, will make things better?
On top of that, Phoenix is stuck training with Callum–the head counselor who is seriously cute but a complete know-it-all. His hot-cold attitude means he’s impossible to figure out–and even harder to rely on. But despite her better judgment, Phoenix is attracted to Callum. And he’s promising Phoenix a summer she’ll never forget. Can she trust him? Or is this just another lie?




 

I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

This was the cutest book! I loved the characters so much, and didn’t encounter anything that I hated about the book. So why didn’t I give it a perfect rating? I felt like it left me wanting more and a lot more. This book could have been way longer, I really wanted to see Phoenix and Callum’s relationship bloom a bit more and see how Phoenix interacted with other counselors.

This book was too short, I just wanted it to continue! Which, I guess is a good thing but I needed more Callum!

I thought the ‘family camp’ situation would be weird but it actually worked for this book.

By the end, the moral of the story is tied up with a nice bow, pulling the title and the plot together which I thought was fantastic. Also thought it was genius to name the character Phoenix and talk about her rising from the ashes.

Trusting You and Other Lies, is a fantastic read for your summer vacation! And because I’m a sucker for a beautiful cover, look at that one! It’s gorgeous!

 

 

Pucked by Helena Hunting Book Review

 

Title: Pucked (#1)24504274

Author: Helena Hunting

Genre: Romance/Comedy/New Adult

Rating: 3/5 Stars




 

With a famous NHL player for a step-brother, Violet Hall is well acquainted with the playboy reputation many hockey stars come with. She’s smart enough to steer clear of those hot, well-built boys with unparalleled stamina. That is until she meets the legendary team captain—Alex Waters.

Violet isn’t interested in his pretty, beat-up face, or his rock-hard six-pack abs. But when Alex inadvertently obliterates Violet’s previous misapprehension regarding the inferior intellect of hockey players, he becomes more than just a hot body with a face to match.

In what can only be considered a complete lapse in judgment, Violet finds out just how good Alex is with the hockey stick in his pants. But what starts out as a one-night stand, quickly turns into something more. Post-night of orgasmic magic, Alex starts to call, and text, and e-mail and send extravagant—and quirky—gifts, making him difficult to ignore, and even more difficult not to like.

The problem is, the media portrays Alex as a total player, and Violet doesn’t want to be part of the game.




 

Me and my friend really wanted to do a buddy read and after going to a local hockey game, we decided this would be a fun read. She’s breezed through the first three books, while I just finished the first. I must say, this book did hold my attention the entire time. There were never any boring parts, it was pretty fast pace but not in the ‘insta-love’ sense.

This isn’t your typical adult romance, it’s aimed toward the new adult crowd but not the ones looking for sappy romance. Violet is a tomboy-ish type of girl, and she’s not afraid to admit she pleasures herself, after all, that’s where we first meet her. While she’s ‘jilling off’.

You don’t need to be a hockey fan (though hockey is my favorite sport) or even know anything about hockey to enjoy this book. It had just enough of the sport involved. You get to see Alex and Violet’s POV, and I really ended up loving them, though Alex was my favorite. Violet was a little too blunt about sexual endeavors for my taste.

I was planning on giving this book 4 stars, but it fell short in the epilogue (Alex’s POV) because I felt like the ending was rushed and forced. It should have ended on the final chapter and then picked up in book four (which I plan on reading next, I’m skipping two and three because they’re from different characters). The final part of this book was very cringeworthy, and made me feel really uncomfortable, though it was a happy ending. No cliffhanger at all.

What I loved the most about these books was the characters weren’t perfect. Alex, though sweet and romantic, had his flaws and made mistakes and Violet seemed like a girl who knew she wasn’t perfect but didn’t care anyway. She also didn’t want to need a man, but still accepted the love anyway.

If you’re looking for a cooky, romantic, sex-filled, funny story, this book is definitely for you! Looking forward to reading Forever Pucked (I bought it before I even finished this one)!

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The Fill-In Boyfriend Book Review

Title: The Fill-In Boyfriend51bshpugrel__sx350_bo1204203200_

Author: Kasie West

Genre: Contemporary YA

Rating: 4/5 Stars




 

When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.




 

Spoilers in this review!

Apparently, this wasn’t the first book that I’ve read by Kasie West but I was surprisingly pleased by this one. It was on sale for a few bucks on Kindle, so I got a copy without really knowing what it was about.

At first, I wasn’t a fan of Gia, but she grew on me… West did a great job with that. Though her friends were horrible, I really just wanted her to be done with them. I loved how West never really gave us a resolution with the end, but it still felt okay that her and her friends weren’t on good terms when the book ended. Gia was always just the girl who wanted to be perfect at everything, even being a girlfriend, but once Hayden came into the picture, things changed. She became a likeable character.

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I’m a huge fan of ‘istalove’ in YA contemporary but that didn’t happen in this one. We don’t actually have Hayden and Gia get together until toward the end of the novel, to my surprise, I actually liked that and it was very realistic. There were times I wanted to punch Hayden and there were times that I thought he was THE most amazing (fictional) boyfriend that I’ve ever read. Seriously, he was so kind and compassionate, I assume he got that from living with his single mother and his younger sister. Hayden had my heart melting throughout this novel…

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As for the real Bradley, I’m glad he only existed in two to three scenes, he seemed like a slimeball.

Gia’s parents really bothered me (as did her brother), her father was so passive about everything and her mother was a control freak, robot who wanted her kids to behave a certain way without expressing themselves. I really wanted to see Gia break down her mother’s walls toward the end, just a little bit more.

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Fill-In Boyfriend now puts me 5 books ahead on my reading challenge! I think it’s going to be a great year of reading for me! If you’ve read any of Kasie West’s books, which one should I check out next?

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Coming Up For Air Book Review

Title: Coming Up For Air32470593

Author: Miranda Kenneally

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 2/5

Release Date: July 1, 2017




Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat.

All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic try out, so she feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to lose to win?




I received this ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

While browsing through ARC’s on NetGalley, I stumbled upon this one and thought the cover was gorgeous and I knew I wanted to read it so I sent in a request and it was on my kindle within a week! Sadly, I didn’t really get into the book until about 40% of the way in. I felt like the characters were not mature at all, especially Maggie, who thought ‘hooking up’ was the mature/adult thing to do. I was honestly ready to put this book down after a few chapters, but I felt like I needed to finish it and give it the chance to redeem itself.

It was nice to at least see my character struggling with having a romantic life because swimming was taking up all her time. That gave this story a bit more substance. I would have liked to see more reasons why she was attracted to Levi and see a bit earlier his interaction with other girls at swim meets. Toward the end, mostly at the swim meets, I felt like a lot of it was the author making a list of activities that Maggie was going. ‘Coach took us to the hotel, then we got ready, then we got in the van to go swim…’

I feel like this book could have been a 4/5 stars for me, but the maturity level of Maggie was very low even though she kept saying how mature she was. She didn’t seem like a 17 year old girl, she seemed to be a few years younger to me.

The first three chapters and the epilogue were my least favorite parts. I was so lost during the epilogue but soon realized it was another set of characters from a previous book, but after a few paragraphs I just skipped that part.

I’d recommend this book to high school students, if you’re like me and you’re in your 20’s still reading YA, you might want to pass on this one.

True by Erin McCarthy Book Review

Title: True (True Believers #1)17332551

Author: Erin McCarthy

Genre: New Adult

Overall Emotions: Gross…what… meh…

Rating: 2/5 Stars




 

When Rory Macintosh’s roommates find out that their studious and shy friend has never been with a guy, they decide that, as an act of kindness they’ll help her lose her virginity by hiring confident, tattooed bad boy Tyler Mann to do the job…unbeknownst to Rory.

Tyler knows he’s not good enough for Rory. She’s smart, doctor smart, while he’s barely scraping by at his EMT program, hoping to pull his younger brothers out of the hell their druggy mother has left them in. But he can’t resist taking up her roommates on an opportunity to get to know her better. There’s something about her honesty that keeps him coming back when he knows he shouldn’t…

Torn between common sense and desire, the two find themselves caught up in a passionate relationship. But when Tyler’s broken family threatens to destroy his future, and hers, Rory will need to decide whether to cut her ties to his risky world or follow her heart, no matter what the cost…




 

I’m always very cautious when stepping into the realm of new adult because the content is usually a bit out there. My friend recommended this one to me and she read it in about a day, followed by the rest of the series in a week. I, however, wasn’t too fond of this book, but I wanted to love it. The author is local to me, and the book is even set around University of Cincinnati, so everything that happens is logical, but I didn’t like reading it.

Here’s the thing, most of the time I was highly grossed out from Tyler’s chain smoking addiction. I wondered why Rory was attracted to him because the smoking really bothered me. If Tyler hadn’t been a stress smoker, I may have found him attractive but he’s now my least favorite book boyfriend.  I do think Rory was amazing at looking past all of Tyler’s family issues, but I didn’t understand why a girl like her would even be hanging out with friends like Jess who were doing drugs.

Speaking of Jess… I think I hated her more than Tyler’s pill addicted mother. I felt like she was never actually okay with Rory and Tyler being together (her and Tyler used to hook up), she just seemed to have this attitude throughout the book.

I don’t think I’ll continue this series, just because I didn’t fall in love with any of the characters.

I’ve never had good luck searching for a new adult book without all of the same troupes of bad boys in college. Any recommendations out there?