Reading Challenge: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge

Review: The Witness by Nora Roberts

Posted February 21, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Witness by Nora RobertsReviewer: Rowena
The Witness by Nora Roberts
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: April 17, 2012
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 492
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars

Daughter of a controlling mother, Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking at a nightclub and allowing a strange man's seductive Russian accent lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. The events that followed changed her life forever.

Twelve years later, the woman known as Abigail Lowery lives on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance programmer, she designs sophisticated security systems -- and supplements her own security with a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing. But Abigail's reserve only intrigues police chief Brooks Gleason. Her logical mind, her secretive nature, and her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something -- and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.

With a quirky, unforgettable heroine and a pulse-pounding plotline, Nora Roberts presents a riveting new read that cements her place as today's most reliably entertaining thriller -- and will leave people hungering for more.

It has been a while since I’ve read anything by Nora Roberts and it was my turn to choose a book for book club last month so I chose this one. I’m happy to report that it was an enjoyable read and everyone at book club enjoyed this one as well. Thanks to my buddy Ames who recommended this one, it was a total hit. Both the book and the game we played at book club.

The Witness is about a young woman named Elizabeth Fitch who was the perfect daughter. She did what she was supposed to do, went where she was supposed to go, and ate whatever her mother’s nutritionist prepared for her every day. She grew up under her mother’s thumb and when she turns 16, she starts to realize that she doesn’t want the life that her mother has pushed her into. She grew up and she developed her own interests and those interests didn’t line up with the path her mother chose for her. So she does what every young girl does, she rebels against her parents. She didn’t know that her one act of rebellion would change the course of her life. It changed the course her mother set out for her, the course that she saw for herself and she led a life of hiding.

The first part of this story is young Elizabeth Fitch’s story. It takes place over the night that changed everything for her. It changed her as a person and led to her living a life on the run. She witnessed the murder of the first friend that she had ever had, and gone is young Elizabeth Fitch and in her place is Abigail Lowery. Abigail Lowery just moved to the Ozarks in Arkansas and she purchased the old house out of the way. She keeps to herself, she’s very private and she only comes into town for groceries. Nobody knows much about her and she prefers it that way so when the Police Chief takes an interest in her, things really start popping off because Brooks Gleason started out thinking that maybe this new woman that doesn’t anyone in her business is hiding something and before he knows what is what, Brooks Gleason’s got it bad for Abigail Lowery. Does he still think that she’s hiding something pretty big? Of course, but he also knows that whatever it is, he wants to be the person to help her shoulder the burden and it’s obvious that whatever it is, is a burden on Abigail’s shoulders. So, seeing Brooks bridge the gap between him and Abigail made for a really interesting romance.

I thought that this was a really good book. It wasn’t perfect but Nora Roberts moved the story in a way that kept me invested in what was going on. I was invested in Abigail, in Brooks, in the small town that they lived in and in finding out if the Russian mob from her past would ever catch up to her. I spent a great deal of the book with a bit of anxiety because I was waiting for the Russians to find her, to get her, and you know, kill her because that’s what the Russians do. So that part of the book was a bit weak in my opinion. There were all of these things that were hard to overcome by one person and it should have been hard (even for a brainiac like Abigail) but it really wasn’t. I will say that I wasn’t expecting this book to be as enjoyable (for me) as it was so that was a good thing and I’m glad that I read it because Nora Roberts sure knows how to weave a compelling story with characters that just leap off the pages. She did her thing with this one and even though there were some things that I wanted more from, overall, this was an enjoyable reading adventure that I would definitely recommend to fans of Nora Roberts and romantic suspense novels. The romance was sweet and I really liked that they were friends before their relationship blossomed into what it was in the end and I really liked seeing how they influenced each other. They were good together and they were stronger together and I really dug that. I definitely recommend this one.

Final Grade

4.25 out of 5

four-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , ,

Review: Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli, Aisha Saeed

Posted February 20, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli, Aisha SaeedReviewer: Rowena
Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli, Aisha Saeed
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 448
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 A-Z Reading Challenge, Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2020 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars

New York Times bestselling authors Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed have crafted a resonant, funny, and memorable story about the power of love and resistance.

YES

Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate—as long as he’s behind the scenes. When it comes to speaking to strangers (or, let’s face it, speaking at all to almost anyone), Jamie’s a choke artist. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.

NO

Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Why her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing—with some awkward dude she hardly knows—is beyond her.

MAYBE SO

Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer—and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural romance of the century is another thing entirely.

I’ve never read anything by either of these authors but I have been looking forward to doing so. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book so I was looking forward to digging into my review copy. That’s saying something too because I’m not a political person and I don’t normally gravitate toward stories that deal with politics but I’m glad that I read this one. I thought the beginning was a little slow but there was a charm to the way that this story was told that I liked and am glad that I stuck with because both Albertalli and Saeed did a great job of telling Maya and Jamie’s story.

So the story follows Jamie and Maya as they canvas their neighborhood for the local state senator candidate. They’re both going through things in their lives and I really connected with the both of them even though I’m hella older than they are. Maya’s dealing with her parents separating and her best friend not being around to talk things out with and Jamie is shy and he’d rather stay behind the scenes than speak in front of anyone. Seeing the two of these guys really come into their own over the course of this book and finding in each other, the friend that they both need in their lives was great. Seeing them talk about mature things was another plus for me. I thought the authors handled their backgrounds in a good way. Maya is a Muslim and Jamie is Jewish and I thought their conversations about their lives was real and it was authentic and I dug it.

It took me a little bit to warm up to both Maya and to Jamie but once I got a feel for who they were and what they were bringing to the story, I began to really enjoy the two of them and what was going on. I’m glad that I read this one and will definitely be reading more by these two authors. Their writing style is easy to follow along with and I will definitely be looking out for more of their books. If you’re looking for something cute with a side of politics, check this one out. I think it’s gonna be a hit.

Final Grade

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Review: The Kissing Game by Marie Harte

Posted February 19, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Kissing Game by Marie HarteReviewer: Rowena
The Kissing Game by Marie Harte
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
one-half-stars

"I bet you a kiss you can't resist me."

Game on.

Rena Jackson is ready. She's worked her tail off to open up her own hair salon, and she's almost ready to quit her job at the dive bar. Rena's also a diehard romantic, and she's had her eye on bar regular Axel Heller for a while. He's got that tall-dark-and-handsome thing going big time. Problem is, he's got that buttoned-up Germanic ice man thing going as well. With Valentine's Day just around the corner, Rena's about ready to give up on Axel and find her own Mr. Right.

At six foot six, Axel knows he intimidates most people. He's been crushing on the gorgeous waitress for months. But the muscled mechanic is no romantic, and his heart is buried so deep, he has no idea how to show Rena what he feels. He knows he's way out of his depth and she's slipping away. So, he makes one crazy, desperate play...

I’ve never read anything by Marie Harte before and I’ll admit that what initially piqued my interest with this book was that cartoon cover. I’m a fan of these cutesy, cartoon covers because they make me picture the cutesy story that I expect to get when I pick one up. I’m starting to think that these cartoony covers are the exact opposite of what I should expect to get. This one sounded like a super cute story that would be a light and fluffy read but right from the very beginning, what I thought I was getting, wasn’t what I felt was coming. I kept reading, thinking that maybe it’ll get better and unfortunately, it never did. Sure, there were some moments throughout the book that had me laughing and some characters that I was genuinely interested in but for the most part, I was like…nah.

Axel Heller has had a giant crush on Rena Jackson but he’s never made his move. She’s been patient with him but the longer he waits to get at her, the more sure Rena is that he’s never going to make his move so she needs to move on. She’s leaving her bartending job to open her own hair salon and when Axel gets into a bar fight at her going away party, she’s not surprised but she’s also determined to move on. When Axel receives some much-needed advice, he decides that it’s now or never. Now, a huge part of the reason that I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would is that I couldn’t connect with either the hero or the heroine. I thought that as the story progressed, I would understand their thought processes and I would start to connect with them but I don’t know if it was Harte’s writing style or if was the fact that the characters of color didn’t come off as authentic to me but whatever it was, I put this book down and just did feel much of anything and that bummed me out.

I love romance novels of all kinds. I love the light and fluffy ones, the dark and twisted ones, even the suspenseful ones but what I like about those stories is that I know what I’m getting when I go into them. The HEA is a given but you can tell by the covers just what you’re going to get and I thought the cover for this one didn’t fit with the kind of story that I was expecting. This wasn’t the light and fluffy romance that I was expecting. It was a diverse romance that was written by an author who was not diverse. I found myself frustrated with the characters, with the romance, and with the writing style. I kept reading to see if I’d ever warm up to Axel and to Rena and while I did end up liking Rena, I never warmed up to Axel. There was a lot of nothing going on. I couldn’t really tell what the conflict was because the conflict was pretty weak. I didn’t feel like there was anything to carry the characters or even develop them. So my enjoyment really suffered because of all of those things. On top of those things, I also thought that there were a lot of characters to keep track of. Sure, I enjoyed some of them but for the most part, not having read any of these characters books (I didn’t even know that this book was part of a series), I had no clue who they were and didn’t even know that I was supposed to care about them.

So yeah, I went into this book expecting one thing but didn’t get it and I didn’t really connect with the main characters or anything that they were going through so all in all, this book just wasn’t for me.

Final Grade

Grade: 1.5 out of 5

one-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Review: The Rebel King by Kennedy Ryan

Posted February 11, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Rebel King by Kennedy RyanReviewer: Rowena
The Rebel King by Kennedy Ryan
Series: All the Kings Men #2
Also in this series: The Kingmaker
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: November 18, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 388
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

Ambition. Revenge. Love.

RITA® Award-winning author Kennedy Ryan delivers the gripping conclusion to the All the King’s Men Duet.

Raised to resist. Bred to fight. Survival is in my blood and surrender is never an option.

Though surrender is what Maxim Cade demanded of my body and heart, I had other plans. We were fast-burning fascination and combustible chemistry, but the man I trusted with everything was a trickster. A thief who stole my love. If what we had was a lie, why did it feel so real? The man I swore to hate will have it all, and wants me at his side. But power is a game, and we’re the pawns and players.

Facing insurmountable odds, will we win the world, or will we lose it all?

The Rebel King is the final book in Kennedy Ryan’s All Kings Mens duet and it really packed a punch. Considering how the first book ended, I shouldn’t have been surprised but I was. This book knocked me on my ass far too many times and each time, I was shook. A lot happens in this book and through it all, I looked like this..

So this book picks up right where book 1 ended and we’re immediately thrown into the action. Maxim finds out, goes a little crazy and then goes to work. Lennix is the most important thing in his life and there was no way that he was going to go down without a fight so I snickered my way through the beginning because the bad guys? Yeah, they thought. I’m really glad that the suspense at the beginning wasn’t dragged on and on because to be honest, I wasn’t here for that. I was here for Maxim and Lennix figuring out how to be together when they lived some complicated lives. When Lennix gets home, and their romance picks up again, things really got interesting for me.

Maxim was not an easy person to be with and Lennix was too strong for some of the shit that he tried to pull and I was so glad to see Lennix make him pick his battles because she wasn’t one to let anyone run her life the way that he wanted to. I’m not going to lie, there were times when I wanted to kick Maxim in the dick for a lot of the shit he tried to pull in this book. I mean, I get that he had the scare of his life and that he didn’t want a repeat. I even understood that because of the person that he was, she needed the extra security but the way he went about protecting Lennix left a bad taste in my mouth and made me want to punch him in the dick. I’m sooo glad that he got better and that Lennix was patient enough with him to get him to understand where she was coming from. I loved that they worked through their issues together.

Kennedy Ryan is damn good at her job. She wrote the hell out of this book and even though there were times when I wanted to choke people out, and times when I cried my eyes out because my heart broke into a million pieces, Kennedy worked her magic and made everything come full circle in a way that was super satisfying. Maxim and Lennix went through so much in both of these books but in the end, they were stronger than ever and their love was rock solid. I was overcome with emotion many times while reading this book but my heart was full when I finished. This was a great set of books and Kennedy Ryan has cemented herself at the top of my auto=buy list. So great!

Final Grade

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

All the Kings Men Duet

four-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , ,

Review: Heartland by Sarina Bowen

Posted February 4, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Heartland by Sarina BowenReviewer: Rowena
Heartland by Sarina Bowen
Series: True North #7
Also in this series: Bittersweet, Steadfast, Steadfast, Bittersweet, Keepsake, Bountiful, Speakeasy, Bittersweet, Steadfast, Fireworks, Keepsake, Bountiful, Fireworks
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 329
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

An emotional friends to lovers romance full of risky secrets and late-night lessons in seduction.

Dylan is my best friend, and the only person in my life who understands me. He doesn’t mind my social awkwardness or my weird history. The only glitch? He doesn’t know that I’ve been hopelessly, desperately in love with him since the first day we picked apples together in his family’s orchard.But I know better than to confess.Now that we’re both in college together, I’m seeing a new side of him. College Dylan drinks and has a lot of sex. None of it with me.Until the night I foolishly ask him to tutor me in more than algebra…and he actually says yes.

But the cool morning light shows me how badly I’ve endangered our friendship. And I don’t know if anything will be the same again.

Heartland is the seventh book in Sarina Bowen’s True North series and she just keeps bringing on the happy sighs and cute romances, doesn’t she? I really enjoyed this one and am keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll keep getting books for this series for a long time to come. I’m pretty anxious for Daphne’s story.

So Heartland follows Dylan Shipley and Chastity Campbell to college. They’re both going through different things. Dylan is going through a frustrating phase with his growly older brother and Chastity is still trying to catch up to the rest of the world after spending years living in a cult. To add to Chass’s plate, she’s got an unrequited crush on Dylan Shipley and he has no clue. It sucks for her though because she’s around to see him work his charm on every girl on campus, every girl, but her. Right now, he worked his charm right into her awful roommates pants and it’s become a thing. A thing she hates to witness because she knows Dylan. She knows that he’s a kind-hearted person and so she doesn’t understand why he has such bad taste in women. Things start to get really interesting when Chass brings up making some money together. Their new business adventure features the leftover goat milk from Dylan’s family farm that Dylan needs to move. Making caramel together brings them a lot closer and feelings spring forth, feelings that they don’t know what to do with.

Dylan was exactly the lovable nerdy hero that I hoped he would be when we first met him, as a young high schooler in Bittersweet. I thought he was super sweet to Chastity and when he finally gets his head out of his ass about Kaitlyn, I was glad. I wanted to smack some damn sense into him a time or two while reading this book but overall, I loved him. He was a good person who loved his family and struggled with trying to figure out his place in his family, in their family business and in his future. I loved seeing him grow into the man that he was in the end. It wasn’t easy for him but when he finally stood up for himself, I was so relieved because he needed to get all of that shit out so that he can figure out where to go from here. I loved seeing him work through his feelings about his future and his feelings about Chass.

Chass was a great heroine on her own but she was also a perfect match for Dylan. She was kind, she was strong and she was super smart even though she had trouble with her classes in school. I really felt for her when she was stuck seeing Dylan, the object of her affections, with everyone but her and seeing her find her way at school, at home and everywhere in between was a lot of fun for me. She really comes into her own and I was rooting for her from the very beginning. I loved seeing her make friends outside of Dylan at school and even when she was trying to move on from Dylan, and hurting Dylan’s feelings in the process, I just loved it.

Sarina Bowen writes light moments in angsty romances and I just adore her writing style. I will read whatever she writes because she writes the kind of books that I want to read. Heartland was another fabulous addition to this series and if you’re a fan of the other books, I’m confident that you guys will be fans of this book. Dylan and Chastity have what it takes to carry a romance on their own and I have every confidence that you guys will enjoy this one. Do yourself a favor and read this one! 🙂

Final Grade

4.25 out of 5

True North

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,