Format: eARC

Review: The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He

Posted September 6, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan HeReviewer: Rowena
The Ones We're Meant to Find by Joan He
Publisher: Roaring Brook
Publication Date: May 4, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2021 New to Me Challenge, Rowena's 2021 Review Pile Challenge
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One of the most twisty, surprising, engaging page-turner YAs you’ll read this year—We Were Liars meets Black Mirror, with a dash of Studio Ghibli.

Cee has been trapped on an abandoned island for three years without any recollection of how she arrived, or memories from her life prior. All she knows is that somewhere out there, beyond the horizon, she has a sister named Kay, and it’s up to Cee to cross the ocean and find her.

In a world apart, 16-year-old STEM prodigy Kasey Mizuhara lives in an eco-city built for people who protected the planet―and now need protecting from it. With natural disasters on the rise due to climate change, eco-cities provide clean air, water, and shelter. Their residents, in exchange, must spend at least a third of their time in stasis pods, conducting business virtually whenever possible to reduce their environmental footprint. While Kasey, an introvert and loner, doesn’t mind the lifestyle, her sister Celia hated it. Popular and lovable, Celia much preferred the outside world. But no one could have predicted that Celia would take a boat out to sea, never to return.

Now it’s been three months since Celia’s disappearance, and Kasey has given up hope. Logic says that her sister must be dead. But nevertheless, she decides to retrace Celia’s last steps. Where they’ll lead her, she does not know. Her sister was full of secrets. But Kasey has a secret of her own.

The Ones We’re Meant to Find isn’t the kind of book that I would normally be interested in but after browsing Goodreads and reading the blurb, I was curious enough to get it for review. It took me three tries to finish this book. I kept putting it down because the first part, through the middle of the story moved super slow for me. Like, at a snail’s pace and I had trouble trying to keep paying attention because I just didn’t care. I almost gave up completely on the third try but I am glad that I finished it because the second half of the book is much better and moves much faster than the first.

This book is about two sisters. Cee is stuck on a deserted island, trying her damndest to get back and find her sister, Kasey. Kasey lives in a dystopian world, in these eco-cities that keeps them safe from living on actual land where there is a number of climate damage and is probably where our earth is headed if we don’t get our shit together. There’s a mystery that is woven throughout the story and I’ll admit that a lot of that shit was lost on me in the first half of the book.

Of the two sisters, I connected more with Cee on that deserted island. Kasey wasn’t a bad character but there was something that kept me from completely loving her as much as I did Cee. Kasey is smart as hell and I did eventually warm up to her character but yeah, I was still Team Cee.

I will also say that there’s a huge twist that I didn’t see coming but when it started coming together, I stood up and took notice. I won’t say what it is but I will say that it surprised me and I was delighted with the twist. There’s an open ending to this book as well that might rub some folks the wrong way but I was surprised, that I was okay with it. I did wonder a bit over Kasey’s last words to Celia in her dreams but I let it go as I was ready to move on.

Overall, this was a solid story. If you make it past the first half then the author rewards you with a very strong second half. Things come together, other things are revealed and both Kasey and Cee’s stories reel the reader in and I’m glad that I finished it. The story highlighted some stuff that I already think about climate change and made me take notice of what I’m doing for my part in trying to clean up our planet. The story really does come together in a satisfying and meaningful way but the slowness of the first half kept this book from getting rated higher. Still, I’m not mad that I read this.

3.25 out of 5


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Review: Give Me a Reason by A.L. Jackson

Posted August 30, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Give Me a Reason by A.L. JacksonReviewer: Casee
Give Me a Reason by A. L. Jackson
Narrator: Connor Crais, Desiree Ketchum
Series: Redemption Hills #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: August 31, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Point-of-View: Alternating First Person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 418
Length: 11 hours and 57 minutes
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Series Rating: five-stars

From NYT and USA Today bestselling author A.L. Jackson comes a single-dad, enemies-to-lovers stand-alone romance about a jaded club owner and his son’s teacher…

Eden Murphy came into my club looking to make some extra cash.A girl like her didn't belong in a place like this. She'd get ripped to shreds.Most likely by me.There's nothing but sweetness dripping from her sexy little body, and I'm the monster who's salivating to get a taste.
Trent Lawson is the last man I should want.Dark.Dangerous.So wickedly gorgeous he makes my knees weak. He's also an arrogant jerk who happens to be my new boss.
When I discover his adorable son is also in my kindergarten class, I know I have to keep my distance.
But neither of us can ignore the attraction that flames.One glance, and our hearts race. One touch, and we’re aching for what we can’t have. One night, and we’re falling fast.
Dragging her into my sordid world is wrong.It doesn’t matter. Eden Murphy is mine.

Opposites attract in the first installment of A.L. Jackson’s new Redemption Hills series. Trent Lawson has one reason in life. One reason that he does everything. His one reason is his son, Gage.

Eden Murphy is desperate. Desperate for money to save her father and save their school. She ends up at Absolution, a club whose owner doesn’t think she has what it takes. Never try to stop a determined woman, which is exactly what Eden is. She will do anything to save her family, small as it’s become. Her attraction to Trent is as immediate as it is unwanted.

Neither Trent nor Eden considered that they would see each other outside of the club. Eden didn’t anticipate that the highly sexy and arrogant Trent had a son that was going to be in her kindergarten class. Trent Lawson wasn’t someone that Eden expected in her life nor does she know exactly how to handle him.

This was a story about life and death; of love and loss. What I loved about Eden is that she still saw the good. Being betrayed by your own sibling would generally make someone cynical about life, but she wasn’t. She still had hope. I loved that about her. Her positivity was something that make me a little envious & this is fiction. Like, really? I also loved how she interacted with Gage.

Generally, books don’t stay with me when I finish them. There are too many books to read for me to think about what I’ve already read (which is why I don’t reread very much). This book has been with me for days. I can’t forget these characters. I can’t forget this story. I can’t forget the writing. I just can’t stop thinking about this book. How can I forget it with passages like this?

“Never thought in all my days that I’d be standing in front of a woman like you. A woman who is a treasure. So kind strangers can’t help but smile when she walks into a room, so gorgeous she still nearly drops me to my knees every time I see her. A woman who steals every single one of my breaths. The woman who stole my heart.”

If you’ve never tried A.L. Jackson, this book would be a great one to start with. If you have read her, this is a book you should read. This is the best book I’ve read all year and I can’t wait until the next installment.

Rating: 4.75 out of 5.

Redemption Hills


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Review: Just Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane

Posted August 23, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Just Last Night by Mhairi McFarlaneReviewer: Rowena
Just Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: May 4, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 416
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
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Eve, Justin, Susie, and Ed have been friends since they were teenagers. Now in their thirties, the four are as close as ever, Thursday night bar trivia is sacred, and Eve is still secretly in love with Ed. Maybe she should have moved on by now, but she can’t stop thinking about what could have been. And she knows Ed still thinks about it, too.
But then, in an instant, their lives are changed forever.

In the aftermath, Eve’s world is upended. As stunning secrets are revealed, she begins to wonder if she really knew her friends as well as she thought. And when someone from the past comes back into her life, Eve’s future veers in a surprising new direction...

They say every love story starts with a single moment. What if it was just last night?

Mhairi McFarlane is an author that I appreciate. She always writes the kind of books that pull me in, sucks me dry of emotions, and leaves me with a giant smile on my face. This book was no different. From beginning to end, I was invested in what was going on and though I wouldn’t necessarily classify this book as a romance, there were enough romantic elements to keep my romance novel loving ass happy. This book wasn’t an easy read by any means and it covered a wide variety of topics that seriously had me engrossed from start to finish.

This book covered the topics of love, heartbreak, friendship, and loss in a way that kept me up late at night, reading page after page after page. This book was a little darker in tone than her other books but there was still McFarlane’s witty humor weaved throughout the story and that made me happy. I thought that McFarlane did a great job of writing full-bodied characters that I connected with whether I liked them or not and I felt Eve’s every emotion throughout the entire story. Eve does a lot of growing throughout this story and I was here for it all. At every point in this story, I was either crying along with her, cheering her on, or laughing because seeing her with her friends was pretty great. Her friendship with Ed, Justin, and Susie was such a treat for us readers and probably one of my favorite things in the entire book. Their friendship was far from perfect and there was a lot of struggles but honestly, that made me love them all the more.

This book made me cry and it made me laugh and I felt Eve’s every emotion. I was scared that because we knew going into the book that tragedy was going to strike, that the book would be a lot heavier than what I’m used to from Mhairi McFarlane, that Eve’s grief would be too much for me but I shouldn’t have worried at all because like I said earlier, McFarlane does a great job of spreading her trademark humor throughout the story so the sad parts didn’t bog the story down for me. There’s a great mix of everything inserted in this book and I’m glad that I picked this one up for review.

The romance was done well, too. Eve’s journey to self-discovery played a huge part in the book, and the love interest isn’t really revealed until well into the story, but I still enjoyed it. Seeing Eve fall in love and find her person made me happy. This was a great way to spend a few hours. I enjoyed getting to know everyone in Eve’s life, I enjoyed all of the pets, the complicated mess of everything, and seeing Eve really come into her own. This was another hit from McFarlane for me and I definitely recommend it.

4.25 out 5


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Guest Review: What If You & Me by Roni Loren

Posted August 18, 2021 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: What If You & Me by Roni LorenReviewer: Tracy
What If You & Me by Roni Loren
Series: Say Everything #2
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: July 6, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
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Series Rating: four-stars

The world can be a scary place. At least, that's what Andi Lockley's anxiety wants her to believe. It doesn't help that she narrowly escaped a dangerous man years ago, or that every relationship since has been colored with that lingering fear. But things are better now―she's channeling everything into her career as a horror novelist and true crime podcaster, and her next book may be the breakthrough she needs.

If only her grumpy new neighbor would stop stomping around at all hours of the night.

Former firefighter Hill Dawson can't sleep. After losing part of his leg in a rescue gone wrong, he's now stuck in limbo. He needs to figure out what he's supposed to do with his life, and he can't let himself get distracted by the pretty redhead next door. But when someone breaks into Andi's place, Hill can't stop himself from rushing in to play the hero. Soon, a tentative bond forms between the unlikely pair. But what starts out as a neighborly exchange quickly turns into the chance for so much more...if Andi can learn to put aside her fear and trust in herself―and love―again.

New York Times and USA Today bestseller Roni Loren blends heat and heart in this emotionally charged story.

Andi is a woman on a mission to help all women be as safe as they can.  She went through some serious trauma when she was a teen and wants to help women avoid putting themselves at risk.  While she writes horror novels, she runs a podcast called, What Can We Learn From This?” She tells stories about crimes and how women can be more careful, and what they can learn from past incidences.

She’s just moved into a duplex when she hears stomping on the other side of the wall.  When she starts watching a horror movie, which includes screaming of course, her neighbor bangs on her door.  Meeting Hill Dawson, retired firefighter, scares her as she doesn’t know him, but she’s definitely attracted to him.

Hill didn’t ever want to retire from the fire department, but after losing part of a leg in a fire, he didn’t have a choice.  He’s dealing with his life, depression and a whole host of other things when he meets Andi.  She seems to have her life together, but she’s also a scared rabbit and something in him wants to calm her.

The pair eventually decide to act on their attraction to each other but only as friends-with-benefits.  The question is, can they hold back the deeper feelings they have for each other?

This was a cute story.  We slowly, throughout the story, find out what happened to Andi when she was younger – which was pretty scary.  I can see how she would be more than a bit paranoid of life in general.  I loved how that trauma didn’t stop her from putting herself out there and making a name for herself with her books and podcasts.

Hill was a super nice guy, and I really loved him and Andi together.  That said, he pulls a stunt near the end of the book that had me rolling my eyes and getting incredibly frustrated with him.  It really stopped a lot of the enjoyment I was getting from the story.  If this hadn’t had happened I would have scored this book much higher.

Overall it was cute contemporary romance.  I didn’t read the first book in this series, but didn’t feel like I needed to in order to enjoy this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Say Everything


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Review: To Sir, with Love by Lauren Layne

Posted August 11, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: To Sir, with Love by Lauren LayneReviewer: Rowena
To Sir, with Love by Lauren Layne
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: June 29, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2021 Review Pile Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

Love Is Blind meets You’ve Got Mail in this laugh-out-loud romantic comedy following two thirty-somethings who meet on a blind dating app—only to realize that their online chemistry is nothing compared to their offline rivalry.

Perpetually cheerful and eager to please, Gracie Cooper strives to make the best out of every situation. So when her father dies just five months after a lung cancer diagnosis, she sets aside her dreams of pursuing her passion for art to take over his Midtown Manhattan champagne shop. She soon finds out that the store’s profit margins are being squeezed perilously tight, and complicating matters further, a giant corporation headed by the impossibly handsome, but irritatingly arrogant Sebastian Andrews is proposing a buyout to turn the store into a parking garage. But Gracie can’t bear the thought of throwing away her father’s dream like she did her own.

Overwhelmed and not wanting to admit to her friends or family that she’s having second thoughts about the shop, Gracie seeks advice and solace from someone she’s never met—the faceless “Sir”, with whom she connected on a blind dating app where matches get to know each other through messages and common interests before exchanging real names or photos.

But although Gracie finds herself slowly falling for Sir online, she has no idea she’s already met him in real life…and they can’t stand each other.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Lauren Layne book and I’m happy to report that To Sir, with Love was another fun one that took me no time at all to read from beginning to end. Layne writes such witty, fun, and charming romances and this was no exception. This wasn’t my favorite of her books but it was still a good one and I expected no less from Mrs. Layne.

This book follows our heroine, Gracie Cooper, a wine shop owner, and, Sebastian Andrews, the guy who wants to buy her shop space as they fall in love. Gracie isn’t a fan of Sebastian’s because, at every turn, he’s trying to run her out of the shop space where she runs her family wine shop. Sure, the wine shop isn’t doing as well as she would hope and sure, the wine shop was more her Dad’s thing than hers but for the time being, she was running the shop and out of love for her father, she kept his dream alive even long after he was gone.

She doesn’t have much of a love life but she does have a fun and flirty online relationship with a man named “Sir” and even though she’s sporting a mean crush on him, it’s not going to go anywhere because Sir is already taken. Their online friendship will make more sense if you read it but I thought it was cute. I also enjoyed seeing Sebastian and Gracie circle each other in real life and then being the complete opposite online without knowing it. Lauren Layne does humor really well in her books and it’s showcased here in this book.

Overall, this book was a light, fluffy romance that made me smile throughout. Gracie and Sebastian ended up being a great couple and their story was a fun one. Sebastian was a swoony hero and Gracie was a strong heroine who went through a lot to finally be able to stand on her own two feet and live her own life without the strings of family obligations. I was glad for her and loved seeing her and Sebastian fall in love. The secondary characters added more charm to this story and I really loved the relationship that Gracie had with her siblings and her friends. Gracie and her siblings didn’t have the perfect relationship and Gracie had some resentments that she was working on but I enjoyed seeing how much they cared about each other and how supportive they were of each other as well. I definitely recommend this book if you’re already a fan of Lauren Layne because it’s a great addition to her backlist but if you’re also looking for a sweet romance with humor, this one fits the bill.

4 out of 5


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