Publisher: Gallery Books

Review: Roomies by Christina Lauren

Posted December 11, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 11 Comments

Review: Roomies by Christina LaurenReviewer: Rowena
Roomies by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books
Publication Date: December 5th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 368
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four-stars

Marriages of convenience are so…inconvenient.

Rescued by Calvin McLoughlin from a would-be subway attacker, Holland Bakker pays the brilliant musician back by pulling some of her errand-girl strings and getting him an audition with a big-time musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until he admits his student visa has expired and he’s in the country illegally.

Holland impulsively offers to wed the Irishman to keep him in New York, her growing infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves from awkward roommates to besotted lovers, Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway. In the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting, what will it take for Holland and Calvin to realise that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?

Roomies is the second book that I’ve read by Christina Lauren and it certainly won’t be my last. This book was a lot of fun, once the story took off. Unfortunately, for me, the book didn’t pick up until about 52% into the story. The beginning started off interesting but then for a long time, I read and read and read and waited for something to happen and felt like there was too much Holland and not enough moving the story along. That changed once the story took off and once it did, my enjoyment of the story picked up as well.

So Holland Bakker is a young woman living in New York City, trying to find herself. She’s working with her Uncle, who is a musical director for a Broadway show and she’s doing the little jobs that anyone can do while she figures herself out. She’s not particularly happy with her life, there’s some guilt over living off her Uncles and not really having a direction, or a purpose. She’s got a huge crush on this subway musician and when her uncle needs help finding a new musician to step in for his play, Holland brings her uncle and the subway musician together and things really take off from there because before Holland knows what’s what, she’s got a new roommate who is her husband and her new Irish husband is on his way to being in the states legally.

The whole story is about Holland finding her purpose and her way. She does a lot of growing up in this book and there were times when I wanted to strangle her. I thought she spent too much time in her head and not enough time expressing what she needed and wanted from Calvin, her new husband. It was great to see her and Calvin growing closer and closer but because of the situation that they were in, I felt that they didn’t communicate nearly as much as they should have. I mean, toward the end of the book and they were still not communicating clearly with each other and I kept thinking, “Ugh, not again!”

Aside from that, Hollands ends up being such a strong character in the end and I was glad for her. I was also glad that we got to see the growth in Calvin’s character as well. We only got Holland’s POV so Christina Lauren did a great job of showcasing the growth of the secondary characters as well. I adored Holland’s Uncles and the small bits that we got of her brother, Davis. I did not really care much for Holland’s friend, Lulu. I wanted to smack the shit out of her multiple times in this book because she was such a shit friend but alls well that ends well and even though she wasn’t my favorite person, she came around.

Overall, this was a solid story. It had likable characters, a heroine that young women will be able to connect with, a sexy musician hero and a story that makes things interesting. The beginning was a little slow but when it picks up, it really picks up and I’m not at all mad that I read this one. It wasn’t the most perfect of reads but it was entertaining and all in all, it was good. I recommend.

Grade: 3.75 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Ready for Wild by Liora Blake

Posted October 31, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Ready for Wild by Liora BlakeReviewer: Rowena
Ready for Wild (Grand Valley #3) by Liora Blake
Series: Grand Valley #3
Also in this series: First Step Forward, First Step Forward, Second Chance Season, Second Chance Season
Published by Gallery Books
Publication Date: October 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
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Featuring Liora Blake’s signature “funny, endearing, and more than a little hot” (Library Journal) style, the third novel in the Grand Valley series features a rough-talking game warden going toe-to-toe with a TV star who unexpectedly turns his life upside down.

Braden Montgomery is certain about three things: one, luck is for suckers; two, time spent outdoors is what keeps him sane; and, three, when it comes to sharing his bed, there’s only one female he’s willing to put up with—his Chesapeake Bay retriever, Charley. Braden’s constructed his life on these beliefs, and he’s quite content with the status quo.

But when a moment of bad luck lands Braden toe-to-toe with a blonde bombshell with her own television show, his stubbornly structured reality begins to unravel.

As for Amber Regan, her brand has been built on camo, cut-offs, and cleavage. With her own hunting show on the foremost sports channel and enough social media followers to garner her plenty of endorsement deals, Amber’s come a long way from the tomboy in a small Texas town she once was. Unfortunately, ratings are down and her contract for next season is in limbo, so she’s in desperate need of a reboot to save her show—and filming a rough and tough archery elk hunt in Colorado might be the way to do just that. Too bad the local game warden grunts more than he speaks, seems determined to despise her—and makes her heart race in all the most inconvenient ways.

Ready for Wild is the third book in the Grand Valley series by Liora Blake and it was another enjoyable romance in a series that I feel is quite underappreciated. I haven’t seen too many people reading this series around the internet but I’m rather liking this series.

So this book follows Garrett’s grumpy best friend Braden as he makes that journey toward true love. He falls hard for the girl he didn’t even want to come into town but when she got there, he was hardpressed to not take notice of her. Braden lives a solitary life and it suits him, until Amber shows up to film her hunting show on his trails and he’s roped into being her local guide.

Amber Regan needs to film a quality hunting show this season or she’s afraid her show will get axed by her tv network. She’s not afraid of hard work so heading out to the trails of Colorado to get some quality footage is her number one priority and she doesn’t give two shits what park ranger Braden Montgomery thinks about it. He can hate it all he wants, he just better not get in her way.

Liora Blake does a great job of capturing the chemistry between Braden and Amber in this one. From their physical interactions to their texting interactions, there’s a whole lot to enjoy. Braden turned out to be a whole lot of fun when he wasn’t growling at everyone and everything in his path and Amber was a great match for him because she just made herself comfortable in his life and kind of forced him to open up and let her in. That was exactly what he needed.

This was a great romance without a lot of angst. Just a sweet romance between two people who grew to be important parts of the others life. Between Amber’s friends and family and Braden’s, you’ll fall a little more in love with Grand Valley, CO and want to move there yourself. I know I do.

Grade: 4 out of 5


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Guest Review: The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

Posted February 7, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy SchumerReviewer: Jen
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
Published by Gallery Books
Publication Date: August 16th 2016
Pages: 323
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four-stars

The Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress, writer, and star of Inside Amy Schumer and the acclaimed film Trainwreck has taken the entertainment world by storm with her winning blend of smart, satirical humor. Now, Amy Schumer has written a refreshingly candid and uproariously funny collection of (extremely) personal and observational essays.

In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is - a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friends - an unforgettable and fun adventure that you wish could last forever. Whether she's experiencing lust-at-first-sight while in the airport security line, sharing her own views on love and marriage, admitting to being an introvert, or discovering her cross-fit instructor's secret bad habit, Amy Schumer proves to be a bighearted, brave, and thoughtful storyteller that will leave you nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and sobbing uncontrollably - but only because it's over.

While I wouldn’t call myself a super fan, I have enjoyed some of Amy Schumer’s work. I don’t think you have to be a fan to appreciate The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, though. If you’re a hater I don’t know if this would convert you exactly, but I think it can be enjoyed as an interesting take on life, especially life as a woman.

This isn’t quite an autobiography, though the majority of the chapters do tell autobiographical stories about Schumer’s life. I was expecting more fluff, or at least more “here’s how I became famous” tales. While she certainly does address her career and some of the challenges she’s had there, the really moving stuff in the book is more personal in nature. Schumer hasn’t exactly had an easy life, and the most interesting and heartbreaking chapters are the ones where she talks about her parents, her childhood, and her romantic life.

I think the strength of the book, and the reason I’m reviewing it here, is that so much of it might feel relatable to 20- and 30-something women. Schumer talks about navigating complicated relationships with her parents, about a sexual assault, about poor choices in her love life, about struggles with body image, about finding her voice, etc. She talks about lessons those experiences taught her in a way that’s not preachy or self-aggrandizing, and she doesn’t shy away from admitting she’s screwed up many times. She doesn’t come off as a saint, and I appreciated that openness. But despite the sometimes heavy subjects, Schumer is still a comedian, and she is able to joke about even some dark topics. That kept the book from getting too ponderous, and it kept me laughing in between a few tears. (And if you’re offended by Schumer’s comedy, you probably aren’t going to find this book very funny so, you know, be aware.)

I listened to this as an audiobook, which is my favorite way to read memoirs and autobiographies because hearing the author read their words adds depth. I thought Schumer did a great job with the audio (something you certainly can’t say about all authors!), and I thought it gave me a better understanding of her purpose in writing this. In particular, her emotions really broke through in the chapters about her mom and gun violence, and one could sense that these might have been the harder stories for her to tell as they are clearly still raw subjects. If you have a chance to listen to the audio version, I’d definitely recommend it.

I was unexpectedly moved by this book, and I appreciated it’s honesty and approachability. Depending on how you feel about Schumer you may be more or less moved by her stories, but I think it’s worth a read.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: Darkness by Karen Robards

Posted October 31, 2016 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Darkness by Karen RobardsReviewer: Jen
Darkness by Karen Robards
Published by Gallery Books
Publication Date: March 29th 2016
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 384
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three-half-stars

New York Times bestselling author Karen Robards continues her penchant for “fantastic storytelling” (RT Book Reviews) with this next heart-pumping romantic suspense novel, the tale of a brilliant ornithologist trapped on the remote Attu Island in Alaska, fighting for her life—and that of a handsome stranger—before they’re swallowed up in darkness forever.

BOOM. That’s the sound that changes everything for Dr. Gina Sullivan, a renowned ornithologist on a group research grant trip on the remote island of Attu, Alaska. When an everyday outing turns sinister at the onset of one of Attu’s infamous storms, Gina expects thunder and lightning—but what she doesn’t see coming is the small jet plane that drops out of the sky and into the water mere feet from her boat. Even more unprecedented: there’s a sole survivor from the crash, and he needs Gina’s help. But it turns out that rescuing the stranger and getting them both out of the oncoming storm is just the beginning. Because the more Gina learns about James “Cal” Callahan, he of brooding eyes and muscled frame, the more she fears—for herself, and for him.

Cal has made a career of trading on government secrets and emerging unscathed—until a routine pickup goes horribly wrong and lands him in ice-cold water. Literally. He knows the plane crash was no accident and that there could very well be an enemy force currently combing the Alaskan island ensuring there were no survivors. Now if only the arrestingly beautiful bird-watcher with the clear-blue gaze would stop watching him, well, like a hawk. Cal convinces Gina to return to base camp and help him covertly get off the island. But when Gina makes it safely back to camp and finds her entire team murdered, all bets are off, and as darkness envelops the island, she must decide: trust a man she barely knows, or go it alone and risk running straight into the arms of a killer?

Gina is an ornithologist who’s come to a remote Alaskan island to study the local wildlife. While out alone on a boat, a small plane crashes nearly on top of her, and she manages to save one very intense and handsome man. Cal’s in some deep shit. He was on a secret mission that went horribly wrong. He’s been shot, fell out of sky in a plane crash, and was submerged in freezing water for a ridiculously long time, so Gina’s help is the only thing that stops him from dying right there in the water. Still, he doesn’t trust her and she doesn’t trust him, but because of an intense storm moving in they are stuck with each other overnight. When Gina eventually makes her way back to her research station and finds all her colleagues murdered and bad guys searching for her, she and Cal have to go on the run. With no way to communicate with the outside world, they have to survive on the cold, unforgiving island until they can figure out a way to escape.

The details in this book get pretty ridiculous. First and foremost, Cal is freaking superhuman. He’s on the brink of death, which is understandable SINCE HE WAS IN A PLANE CRASH. He has no winter gear or shoes, and nothing but the most basic first aid supplies. Yet after just one night of sleep, he’s able to make a strenuous 5 hour hike through unfamiliar terrain, then fight off a bad guy, run away, and hike up a mountain. (And of course he still has plenty of strength for sexxxing.) Riiiiight. Gina also gets the hots for him too early. I liked that she was wary, but then she ruins that by getting all hot and bothered as he’s patting her down against her will to check for weapons, or admiring his abs as she’s wondering why he got shot before his plane crashed. Lots of convenient stuff happens, like Gina and Cal finding a ridiculously well-equipped and comfortable cave and a 70 year old parachute in working condition. The bad guys and their plans are kind of fuzzy and glossed over. Overall, there’s not a lot of attention given to the larger story, just to Gina and Cal’s fight for survival. 

But you know what? I loved this book anyway. I am always a sucker for wilderness survival stories, so this was right up my alley. I also liked Gina and Cal as characters. Gina has had some serious trauma in her life, and while she has learned to cope she probably hasn’t faced it as directly as she needs to. I appreciated that Cal recognized her pain and genuinely wanted to be there for her. I liked Cal’s suspicious and gruff nature, too. While he’s a good person, he’s not cuddly, and he doesn’t make many connections with others. He’s in a tough and dangerous business, and it makes sense that he’d be the way he is. But when he realizes he is starting to care about someone else, he doesn’t push it away, give some BS excuse like his lifestyle wouldn’t allow him to be with anyone, or decide he’s too manly for The Feels. He is a little spooked but he goes with it, and he isn’t afraid to tell Gina that he wants something more. I liked seeing his sensitive side, and I liked the two of them together.

While it might have issues (hence the less-than-perfect grade), this book was thrilling for me, and I ended it completely satisfied.

Grade: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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