Thursday, 20 July 2017

Review: Trade Me by Courtney Milan

Trade Me by Courtney Milan 
Publisher: Audible
Publication Date: November 18th 2016
My rating: 4 stars


Tina Chen just wants a degree and a job, so her parents never have to worry about making rent again. She has no time for Blake Reynolds, the sexy billionaire who stands to inherit Cyclone Technology. But when he makes an off-hand comment about what it means to be poor, she loses her cool and tells him he couldn’t last a month living her life. To her shock, Blake offers her a trade: She’ll get his income, his house, his car. In exchange, he’ll work her hours and send money home to her family. No expectations; no future obligations. But before long, they’re trading not just lives, but secrets, kisses, and heated nights together. No expectations might break Tina’s heart...but Blake’s secrets could ruin her life.

I’m one of those readers who when told to read book, never reads it, a few of my friends had recommended Trade Me to me, saying it would be my sort of read, but of course I just added it to my never ending tbr pile. Until one day finally I decided to give the sample a go on audio, and seriously the couple of seconds I heard from Sean Crisden convinced me to buy a copy straight away. I’m the fussiest person ever when it comes to listening to audio books, but Crisden’s voice was perfect for me. Also on top of that Trade Me ended up taking me completely by surprise, I assumed it was your typical boy and girl make up your typical fake relationship and then end up really falling for one another, but I couldn’t have been more wrong, with Trade Me, Milan gives us a complex story centred around family, social status and on top of that, a nice sprinkling of a swoony romance. 

I like how Blake and Tina ended up with more than they could have imagined when they went into their trade deal, both characters came from opposite ends of the spectrum, with Blake living the wealthy, lavish lifestyle and Tina barely making ends meet and on top of that having to double check that things are okay with her family too. Again although the trade between them seemed straightforward enough, there was so much more that both had to take into consideration, that we didn’t know a lot about. I really liked Tina’s character, she was a down to earth girl, who always tried to put her family first no matter what, I admired her strength and determination and her sassiness (her conversations with Blake’s dad were some of my favourites). But Blake too was also an unexpected surprise, I have to admit that I was quick to make assumptions about him, based on my first introduction to his character, but I liked how over the course of the story, he was able to convince me otherwise. 

I liked how with Trade Me, Milan didn’t give us your easy-going typical sort of relationship, but what Tina and Blake had, did come across many complications and barriers, and despite it not being smooth sailing for either of them, I liked how Milan made them fight for what they wanted and showed them both going through tough ordeals in order to make it through. 

Sorry to all of my friends who had recommended this book to me ages ago, because honestly I loved the absolute heck out of it and I’m kicking myself for not giving it a go sooner. Trade Me was a book which completely took me by surprise with its depth and complexity of characters and loveable romance that Milan wrote for us. Trade Me was my first book by Courtney Milan, but it certainly won’t be my last.



Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Mini Review: The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman
Publisher: Berkley
Publication date: May 2nd 2017
My rating: 4 Stars
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | TBD 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25644437-find-her

Lilian Girvan has been a single mother for three years—ever since her husband died in a car accident. One mental breakdown and some random suicidal thoughts later, she’s just starting to get the hang of this widow thing. She can now get her two girls to school, show up to work, and watch TV like a pro. The only problem is she’s becoming overwhelmed with being underwhelmed.

At least her textbook illustrating job has some perks—like actually being called upon to draw whale genitalia. Oh, and there’s that vegetable-gardening class her boss signed her up for. Apparently being the chosen illustrator for a series of boutique vegetable guides means getting your hands dirty, literally. Wallowing around in compost on a Saturday morning can’t be much worse than wallowing around in pajamas and self-pity.

After recruiting her kids and insanely supportive sister to join her, Lilian shows up at the Los Angeles Botanical Garden feeling out of her element. But what she’ll soon discover—with the help of a patient instructor and a quirky group of gardeners—is that into every life a little sun must shine, whether you want it to or not…
 
My Thoughts:
After getting a recommendation from Heidi, our long time bloggy friend from Rainy Day Ramblings, I knew I had to pick up The Garden of Small Beginnings.  I’m so happy I did because it was charming, fun, and full of laugh-out-loud humor!

Lilian lost her husband in a tragic accident four years ago, and hasn’t really moved on.  Not that she’s in a deep depression, this story is far from depressing, but she hasn’t really begun living life for herself since.  Her world is about her two girls, seven-year-old Annabel and five-year-old Clare. Her younger sister Rachel figures heavily into her life as well.  All it takes is a gardening class to shake things up. Thrown together with people Lily wouldn’t normally have mixed with, learning about plants, soil, as well as each other. The class instructor Edward Bloem, makes the class come to life, and his enthusiasm for growing things and life in general is contagious. 

Even though this story is about a widower coming to grips with her loss and living for herself again, it’s lighthearted for the most part, and really positive.  Like I said, this book was super funny, and a pretty realistic take on life with small children.  I live in northern Los Angeles, and a lot of times the life pictured in movies or books isn’t close to my experience, but I think the author captured a more authentic representation of Los Angeles area life.

I received a copy, but I ended up listening to the audio version, and I enjoyed the narration.  Emily Rankin had great comedic timing, given that much of the story is humorous observations and situations, that was important.  The only voice I wasn’t super keen on was Edward’s.  The accent sounded like an old German professor, instead of a handsome man from Holland.  At any rate, it didn’t hamper my enjoyment of their romance.



Friday, 14 July 2017

Review: Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai

Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 25th July 2017
My rating: 4.5 stars. 


One night. No one will know. That was the deal. Every year, Livvy Kane and Nicholas Chandler would share one perfect night of illicit pleasure. The forbidden hours let them forget the tragedy that haunted their pasts—and the last names that made them enemies. Until the night she didn’t show up. Now Nicholas has an empire to run. He doesn’t have time for distractions and Livvy’s sudden reappearance in town is a major distraction. She’s the one woman he shouldn’t want . . . so why can’t he forget how right she feels in his bed? Livvy didn’t come home for Nicholas, but fate seems determined to remind her of his presence—and their past. Although the passion between them might have once run hot and deep, not even love can overcome the scandal that divided their families. Being together might be against all the rules . . . but being apart is impossible.

Hate to Want You was just the perfect read for me, it featured two families who practically grew up together, had been in business which spanned nearly two generations, when a handful of events turned everything on its head. The bonds and relationships that had been well established, were gone within the blink of an eye, two of the closest families just destroyed. The way I’ve described Hate to Want You, it probably really sounds like a morbid tale, it is tinged with bittersweet relationships and hurt for so many of the characters, but it was also a lot more than that, because of the strong connections that the two families had, it was hard to completely cut off ties with each other, despite certain members of the families attempting to do so. But the connections ran deep, so deep in fact that one just couldn’t let go. And that’s where Nicholas and Livvy’s relationship comes in, before everything hit the fan, they had a decent enough relationship, but after so much that happened, it was inevitable that their relationship came to an end. But with yearly meetings they had arranged, it was clear their feelings for one another were still there and going on strong, this once a year meet ups wasn’t enough to get each other out of their systems. 

Nicholas and Livvy’s relationship was a really intense one, with everything they had been through, I couldn’t imagine it being anything else, but that’s what I loved the most about it, the intensity of it, the depth of their feelings and how just one night couldn’t be enough. There was a lot of issues that still needed to be resolved, particularly if they wanted things to progress between them, something big had come and tore their families apart and so it wasn’t easy to ignore the damage that had been done. Also with the way things had ended, both Livvy and Nicholas weren’t aware of what really had bought their relationship to an end in the first place or the repercussions felt by either of them afterwards. Everything was so complicated and complex in this story for nearly everyone involved, but I loved the way Rai gave the story to us, it wasn’t clear cut; there were so many unanswered questions and issues that needed to be resolved, but also so much hurt had been experienced, that was it even possible for Nicholas and Livvy to be together? 

Hate to Love You really left me in a mess of emotions, it was such an achingly beautiful read, but had some of the hottest scenes I’ve come across, which definitely left me wanting more. Although Livvy and Nicholas’ relationship was a complicated one, it was one I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of, they were characters that I quickly became attached to and I wanted for them both to be happy with each other! Rai also bought a great cast of secondary characters to the mix, both Nicholas and Livvy’s family members each had their own things going on, but there was also so much more that I wanted to know about, I’m sure there’s plenty of family secrets that need to be unravelled and I for one can’t wait for more! Hate to Love You was simply one of my favourite reads of the year; Rai easily entices you with her beautiful writing and makes you fall hard and fast for her complex, yet swoony characters. I honestly couldn’t recommend this book more highly and I can’t wait for the next book Wrong to Need You which is meant to focus on Livvy’s brother Jackson.



Thursday, 13 July 2017

Review: Some Kind of Hero by Suzanne Brockmann

Some Kind of Hero (Troubleshooters #17) by Suzanne Brockmann
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication date: July 11th 2017
My rating: 4 Stars
Amazon | Barnes & NobleiBooks

 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25644437-find-her
Navy men don’t come tougher than Lieutenant Peter Greene. Every day he whips hotshot SEAL wannabes into elite fighters. So why can’t he handle one fifteen-year-old girl? His ex’s death left him a single dad overnight, and very unprepared. Though he can’t relate to an angsty teen, he can at least keep Maddie safe—until the day she disappears. Though Pete’s lacking in fatherly intuition, his instinct for detecting danger is razor sharp. Maddie’s in trouble. Now he needs the Troubleshooters team at his back, along with an unconventional ally.

Romance writer Shayla Whitman never expected to be drawn into a real-world thriller—or to meet a hero who makes her pulse pound. Action on the page is one thing. Actually living it is another story. Shay’s not as bold as her heroines, but she’s a mother. She sees the panic in her new neighbor’s usually fearless blue eyes—and knows there’s no greater terror for a parent than having a child at risk. It’s an ordeal Shay won’t let Pete face alone. She’s no highly trained operative, but she’s smart, resourceful, and knows what makes teenagers tick.

Still, working alongside Pete has its own perils—like letting the heat between them rise out of control. Intimate emotions could mean dangerous, even deadly, consequences for their mission. No matter what, they must be on top of their game, and playing for keeps . . . or else Pete’s daughter may be gone for good.



My Thoughts:
Some Kind of Hero was a fast paced, action packed read that basically took off from the first paragraph.  I enjoyed every minute!  This is part of a series, but it’s not necessary to read the previous books, because each story is a standalone. 

The story opens as Navy SEAL Lieutenant Peter Greene flags down romance writer Shayla Whitman to “follow that car”! A car that contains his missing teenage daughter, Maddie. The game is afoot as they say as Shayla is dragged into trying to find Maddie with Peter, and figure out why she left in the first place.  Not that Shayla minds, Peter is one hunk of a man, smart and fun in between all the worrying. A caring father and sweet, chivalrous man.  Her writer’s brain conjures up all kinds of hot scenarios, but in reality, she doesn’t think Peter would be interested. 

Peter is immediately taken with Shayla.  She’s effortlessly pretty, and her clever mind captures his attention right away, but it seems Shayla wants him to stay firmly in the friend zone. Or does she?  Peter is dazzled by her strategic thinking, honed by plotting out romantic suspense novels, and he’s attracted to her more and more as they try to track Maddie down.

Maddie got herself into a dangerous situation. Lucky for her she has her badass SEAL dad, and a crafty romance novelist there to help whether she wants it or not.  

Some Kind of Hero was super fun, and while I did have to wait a while for these two to figure out they shared the same feelings, it was worth it when they finally clued in.  Smoking hot! 

I loved the fact Shayla was a romance writer!  Being an avid reader, it was interesting to get the other side of things, the writer’s perspective through her.  

I binge read the first three books of the Troubleshooters series a while ago, but then probably had to get to a review book, got distracted and just never got back to it.  Some Kind of Hero reminds me just why I was so addicted in the first place. Suzanne Brockmann writes top notch romantic suspense! I loved both Shayla and Peter, and the interesting cast of secondary characters.  Even Maddie and Dingo’s POV sucked me in!  I’m definitely getting back to the past installment soon!
 





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Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Mini-review: Until the Sun Sets by Tara Wyatt

Until the Sun Sets by Tara Wyatt
Publisher: Swerve
Publication Date: 11th July 2017
My rating: 4 stars


Two best friends at a destination wedding in Mexico are forced into a fake relationship; but when one kiss turns into a week-long fling, could this change everything? Dean Grayson doesn't do commitment. So when his cousin asks Dean to bring a date to his wedding in Mexico, he asks his best friend, Carly Jensen, to come with him. After a recent break up, Carly’s feeling like she’ll never find love, so a week in Mexico with her best friend-slash-boss is the perfect way to take her mind off things. As fate would have it, Carly’s ex is also a guest at the wedding…with his new girlfriend. To protect her pride, Carly and Dean decide to fake a relationship for the week. But between the sand, surf, and sharing a bed, these friends turned lovers realize they’re meant for something more.

I’d never heard of Wyatt’s books until a blogger recently bought Until the Sun Sets to my attention. Fake relationships that develop into something more deep and meaningful have always been a favourite trope of mine. More so when done well and Wyatt did an incredible job of Carly and Dean’s relationship, I’m shocked as this book was only over a 100 pages, but the chemistry coming off these pages had me completely swooning. 

Dean has the reputation of being a player, so much that his cousin suggests that he brings a date to his wedding, as he doesn’t want Dean sleeping around with all the single women and breaking their hearts. Dean has no real options, so asks his co-worker and good friend Carly to accompany him. Both had planned to attend as friends, but things started shifting slowly on the plane journey over, but also when Carly’s ex was at the same wedding, and she didn’t want to come across as lonely individual so told him her and Dean were dating. Here’s when the fake relationship begins and honestly I assumed that these two would just have a great time pretending to be a fake couple and then eventually go back to how they were when they went back home. But both ended up getting something way more than either could have imagined, what started off as just two friends occasionally holding hands turned into innocently rubbing suntan lotion on each other, to some of the hottest scenes *fans self*. I of course was eager for these two to realise that what they had both discovered was something a lot of people spent years searching for and it was right in front of them. But of course I also knew that someone would try and sweep what has developed under the carpet like it was nothing (why does this always have to happen?). However this minor irk aside Wyatt did an incredible job with this short story, so much that I was left wanting a full story from these characters straight away. If you’re in the mood for a hot summer read with chemistry off the charts, then this is definitely the book for you!




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