Monday, July 21, 2014

A Longtime (and at one point illegal) Crush by Janette Rallison

A Longtime (and at one point illegal) CrushA Longtime (and at one point illegal) Crush by Janette Rallison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From the day Elsie’s older brother brought his friend Kye McBride over to their house, Elsie adored him. When she was eight, she secretly blew kisses to him. When she was twelve, she sat on the stairs unnoticed and watched him escort another girl to prom. When she was a senior in high school, she walked into math class and found out he was her new math teacher.

With that much emotion fueling her, things were bound to go wrong. And they did. Elsie not only spent the last two weeks of school avoiding him, she turned avoiding-Kye-at-all-costs into her life-long philosophy.

Now three years have passed and Elsie has come home for her brother’s wedding. She’s got to face Kye-–hopefully without getting crushed again.

This is my second time reading this and I enjoyed it just as much this time around. I haven't had a lot of time to read the past couple days and a short story fit perfectly with my schedule. I thought this was a cute story about Elsie and her high school crush Kye. I thought the story was handled well, being that for part of the story Elsie is in high school and Kye is her teacher. Now days that's a tough subject to write about without being...icky. It worked here though. I would have liked to have more time with them as "grown ups" though. Overall, it was a fun escape and one I'm sure I'll pick up when I need a little diversion. Plus it has great kissing! ;)

I do have three wishes though. One, that the story had been a full-length novel. I thought this was a good intro, but it would have been great to have more time with the characters. Two, I love Ms. Rallison's books. She mostly writes YA, but I loved this New Adult novella. So my second wish would be that she would write more books in the NA genre. Third, while I do wish this had been longer, the fact that it was short actually was nice, so I'd love if she would put out more of these short stories. Maybe do a cute anthology or something.

Content: Clean.

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HEABC August Poll

My reading group Happily Ever After Book Club on Goodreads has its monthly poll up and it needs your vote! Come help us decide what to read for August.
I couldn't settle on a specific genre, so we have an eclectic selection this month. Hopefully something catches your eye.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sweet Confections by Danyelle Ferguson

According to Rachel Marconi chocolate heals all wounds. That and throwing darts at pictures of her ex-boyfriend. Burned by yet another bad relationship, Rachel decides to reprioritize her life, putting her dream to compete on a Food Network Challenge on the top of her list and dating at the bottom crossed out in red sharpie. But what's a girl to do when a certain sexy guy keeps asking her out? Cue in Graydon Green, a former pro hockey player turned restaurant owner. After a lot of persistent and humorous teasing, he finally convinces Rachel to commit to a date. Just when things begin to warm up, threatening notes directed at Rachel arrive. When her bakery is vandalized, Graydon's protective streak goes on red alert. Is it her obsessive ex-boyfriend stalking her? Or maybe a challenger trying to sabotage the competition? Either way, Rachel is definitely going to need more chocolate - perhaps drizzled over ice cream and devil's food cake.
I liked this one. I enjoy books that are based around bakeries, restaurants or things like that. Makes for a fun setting. I thought the book started out strong, I was sucked in right away. I liked how Graydon and Rachel meet for the first time, gotta love the hero. I liked Rachel, she seemed like a genuine character and one you could easily like and relate to. I liked her relationship with her BFF, her family and Graydon. I liked Graydon, he is somewhat of a celebrity, being a retired pro hockey player. That aspect of his life didn’t play a big role though; he just seemed like a normal guy. I did love the reaction from Rachel’s family when they meet him for the first time though, that made me smile. I thought they had a nice relationship; it was nice that they built on a friendship. Which is a nice change from the insta-love in most romances. I thought they had good chemistry and just a sweet relationship. The mystery was pretty good. I had my suspicions from the beginning, but it was fun to see how everything played out. It added a nice element to the story, so it wasn’t a total romance, but had a little more depth to the story. It’s nice that the story takes place over a longer time period, which helped establish their relationship and build the suspense.

Overall, a fun read and one I would recommend. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for what Ms. Ferguson comes up with next. Oh, I liked that there are recipes in the back, I just wish we could see some pictures too. I'd love to see the cake they did for the baking challenge. :)

Content: Clean

Friday, July 4, 2014

Dreaming of Ivy by Shannon Guymon

Ivy Nyman is used to being the screw-up in the family. And with her issues with O.C.D and anorexia, she knows she's shaky at best. So when Rayne has to leave to save her life and she's left facing the world on her own, she's not sure if she's strong enough to handle the stress. Becket Lowell believes in her though and with his faith and love for her, she's determined to be a strong woman. Asher Murphy though is doing everything he can to come between her and Becket. As Asher's insinuations and Becket's suspicious behavior begin to take their tole, Ivy is left wondering if her dreams of happiness will ever come true.
Loved it! I was so excited when I found out this came out today, I had to download a copy, sneak out of the house and read! (I should clarify, my hubby got off work early today. I did not leave me kids home alone so I could read. Although that would be temping!) I liked Ivy in the first book and I loved her even more in this one. It was great reading her story. Ivy has gone through some trials, but she's used them to help make her a stronger person. I loved Becket, I have a thing for the strong silent type. He chooses his words with care and means what he says. I loved how he truly saw Ivy and treated her so well. Their courtship isn't smooth sailing though and they have to go through some tough stuff before they can get their happily ever after.

One thing I love about this series is reuniting with past characters. I loved seeing some of the old crew from previous series and also a few new characters as well (hint: Tai. Love him!). As I've mentioned before, I love the setting of Fircrest, WA and of course the rugby. I have a new appreciation for rugby (and the haka). I like that there is a bit of a mystery, but the romance and relationships is the main focus.

Overall, another great book in a super fun series. Definitely one I would recommend.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

On the Fence by Kasie West

She's a tomboy. He's the boy next door… Charlie Reynolds can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world. To cope with the stress of her new reality, Charlie takes to spending nights chatting with her neighbor Braden through the fence between their yards. As she grows to depend on their nightly Fence Chats, she realizes she's got a bigger problem than speeding tickets-she's falling for Braden. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.
I really enjoyed this one. Like all of Ms. West’s books, I had a hard time putting it down. Charlie was easy to like and you couldn’t help rooting for her. Having three older brothers myself, I found it easy to relate to her, except I am not athletic. At all. Charlie is a tom boy, she loves watching and playing sports and spends all her time with her brothers. I actually enjoyed the parts where she was experiencing more “girly” stuff. I actually kind of felt bad that she felt like she couldn’t wear make-up or dress cute in fear of her brothers and Braden making fun of her. I kind of wish we could have seen her incorporate more of her girly side. I guess at the end she does, but I guess the girl in me wanted a little more.

The book was a little deeper than I was expecting. While there are some really sweet moments and some funny ones, it was a little more serious than I thought it would be. Charlie lost her mom at a young age and also suffers from nightmares. She has just recently turned sixteen and is wondering more about girly things and is realizing she has feelings for her next door neighbor Braden. I loved Braden, he was great. I wish we could have gotten his POV at times. I love how their relationship evolves and thought they were great together. Both as friends and as something more. I loved their fence chats.

Overall, this is a charming story and one that I could easily recommend. I loved the characters, Charlie’s brothers were great (they should each get their own book!), and it was clean! Go grab a copy today!

Romance: Clean, mild kissing

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Husband Maker by Karey White

Charlotte’s a girl with nicknames. She may not love being called Charles or Chuck, but the hardest nickname to take is the one she was given in college, the one that’s followed her now for too many years. They call her “the husband maker” and sadly, it fits. Every guy she's dated since high school has gone on to marry the next girl they date. Not two or three girls down the road. The very next one. Is she doing something wrong or is she just cursed? When Kyle Aldsworth enters the picture and sweeps her off her feet, Charlotte begins to hope that maybe she's not destined to be single forever. A senator’s son with political aspirations of his own, Kyle's wealthy, handsome, and in need of a wife. Will Charlotte be disappointed yet again, or will she finally be able to make a husband for herself?
I liked it! I liked that everything wasn't wrapped up in the conventional way. I'm looking forward to reading the next book, sad I have to wait until the fall, but grateful it's coming out sooner rather than later. Charlotte was a likable character. After finding out everyone considers her The Husband Maker, she is pretty upset. Her BFF Angus is there to help cheer her up, but its Kyle who comes in and sweeps her off her feet. He's almost too good to be true. They were cute together and by the end I was really rooting for them. Knowing the plot, the ending wasn't totally surprising, but I thought things would be resolved a little more than they were. I wish I had the second book on hand so I could jump back in and see how everything wraps up. Overall, I enjoyed it, but the ending left a lot to be desired. Took guts to end things the way she did though. It's one I'd recommend, especially if you have the next book on hand. Content: Clean

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summer Book Trek 2014 participated in this last year and had a great time, and even won a few books (which is always fun). New LDSFiction is hosting a challenge to read LDS authors during the month of July (you don’t have to be LDS to participate). They will be giving away prizes throughout the month as well. I never really paid that much attention to it before, but there are a lot of popular LDS authors out there. After last years Trek I even created a shelf on Goodreads devoted to LDS authors, I'm still adding to it and I've got over 100 so far. Below are my book choices for this year, it was hard to narrow it down and I'm sure I'll be updating it as I go.
Son of War, Daughter of Chaos by Janette Rallison
Werewolf Dreams by Katie O'Guinn
Werewolf Rage by Katie O'Guinn
Werewolf Revenge by Katie O'Guinn
Werewolf Betrayal by Katie O'Guinn
Hunted by Katie O'Guinn
Dreaming of Ivy by Shannon Guymon
On the Fence by Kasie West
The Husband Maker by Karey White
Uncovering Cobbogoth by Hannah Clark
Not Your Average Happy Ending by Chantele Sedgwick
Romance Anthology: Summer in New York
What Is Hidden by Lauren Skidmore
Sweet Confections by Danyelle Ferguson
Reese's Cowboy Kiss by Kimberly Krey
Descendant by Nichole Giles
The Keepers Calling by Kelly Nelson
Hope Springs by Sarah Eden
Feudlings by Wendy Knight
Mine to Spell by Janeal Falor
Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Diamond Rings are Deadly Things by Rachelle Christensen 
Making Faces by Amy Harmon
Killing Ruby Rose by Jessie Humphries
Makeup by Shannon Guymon

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Love & Trust Trilogy by Shannon Guymon

This series takes place in the same charming town of Fircrest, WA. Rob owns the Iron Skillet, where his sister Taryn is the manager. His youngest sister Bailey works for the local newspaper. They’ve all been burned in love and are slow to trust.

I really enjoyed this trilogy. It was fun seeing each character open themselves up to love and to find their perfect match. We met Rob in the previous series and it was fun to see him find his happily ever after in Come to Me. Bailey’s story was great, she had been seriously burned before and had closed herself off completely. It takes a really special and determined man to bring down her walls. Her love story was full of romance, tension and a sweet love story. The last book, Tough Love, is all about the humbling of Taryn. Her story is a bit of a roller coaster and she fights who she is meant to be with, but it just makes their ending all the more sweet. Overall, another great trilogy. I love the setting, characters and love stories.

Love & Dessert Trilogy by Shannon Guymon

Sisters Layla, Kit and Jane are reunited when their grandmother passes away, leaving her bakery to them. The sisters move home to Fircrest, WA to take over the store and to get a fresh start on life. Layla is a burned out social worker, having seen the worst men have to offer she has closed herself off from relationships. Kit recently caught her boyfriend with another woman feels the same way. Jane is a hopeless romantic and optimistic about finding true love. They decide that since they are reunited and starting a new business they will open their hearts and be open to finding love.
Everything isn’t as easy as it seems though, there are a few people out to make sure the girls don’t find success in love or in business.

I fell in love with this series right from the start. The first book, You Belong With Me, focuses mainly on Layla. She’s a no-nonsence lady who will do anything for her sisters. The next book, I Belong With You, focuses on middle sister Kit. I liked Kit, she is a talented artist and beautiful. It was fun to see her find someone who saw the real Kit. The last book, My Sweetheart, is about Jane. Jane was my favorite and I loved her story. She has a kind heart and likes to find the good in everyone. All three books have sweet romances and swoony leading men. There is a mystery that runs throughout the book and added some excitement to the stories. Overall, a really fun series.

Falling for Rayne by Shannon Guymon

Garrett Murphy is used to rejection. As a child, he was rejected by his mother and as a man he was rejected by Jane Kendall. Going without love has turned Garrett into a man who doesn't trust in a woman's heart. So when he meets Rayne Nyman, she's too good to be true. She's beautiful, talented and sweet. She also happens to be a world renowned pianist. He knows there's no way she'd ever want to stay in Fircest with him when she could be living the life she was born to. Rayne is determined to prove him wrong and show him that love can be forever but when she comes under fire and her life is put in danger, she might not have the chance.
Loved it! By far my favorite of the entire series. And isn't that cover gorgeous! We meet Garrett in the Love & Dessert and Love & Trust trilogies and I was so excited when I found out he would be getting his own book! Garrett has had it rough, especially when it comes to the women in his life. His mom skipped out on him when he was a little boy and it seems any woman who enters his life just leaves again. He's built up a wall around his heart and doesn't want to let anyone get too close. Rayne and her sister have moved to Fircrest to escape from their world and to hide out from a possible murderer. Their parents were killed in a suspicious car accident and until they have more answers they want to play things safe. Rayne has spent her entire life trying to please her parents, who have demanded perfection. She is a world famous pianist and unlucky in love. Garrett and Rayne have chemistry right from the start. I liked that they didn't let that get in their way of disagreeing with each other, they had some fun fights. Although they come from different backgrounds, they have a lot in common. They bring out the best in each other and were a great couple. I really loved their story! It was fun seeing characters from previous books (I especially liked the resolution between Tate and Garrett) and returning to the charming town of Fircrest. I also liked meeting new characters Ivy, Cleo, Beckett and Asher (I hope we see them again the next books).

Overall, it was a fun story, with a touch of mystery that keeps you on your toys. Loved it! Now I need to go read it again.

Romance: Clean
Violence: Mild

Monday, April 28, 2014

Prejudice Meets Pride by Rachael Anderson

After years of pinching pennies and struggling to get through art school, Emma Makie’s hard work finally pays off with the offer of a dream job. But when tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to make a cross-country move to Colorado Springs to take temporary custody of her two nieces. She has no money, no job prospects, and no idea how to be a mother to two little girls, but she isn’t about to let that stop her. Nor is she about to accept the help of Kevin Grantham, her handsome neighbor, who seems to think she’s incapable of doing anything on her own. Prejudice Meets Pride is the story of a guy who thinks he has it all figured out and a girl who isn't afraid to show him that he doesn't. It’s about learning what it means to trust, figuring out how to give and to take, and realizing that not everyone gets to pick the person they fall in love with. Sometimes, love picks them.
I am a huge Rachael Anderson fan, I seriously love her books. So, when I got Prejudice Meets Pride I told myself to take my time and maybe spread it out for the weekend. Nope, once I started reading I got sucked into the story like I always do and I couldn’t put it down. I guess I’ll just have to re-read it.

Emma is a really likable heroine. She really steps-up when she needs to and would do anything for those she cares about. She has a big heart, lots of talent and she can be a bit stubborn. Kevin was awesome, I really liked him. He was maybe a bit judgy at first, but he is such a sweetheart. Together Emma and Kevin really bring out the best in each other. They kind of balance out each other’s weaknesses and draw out their good qualities. They are better together than they are apart. I thought they had great chemistry, they had a bumpy start, but I liked how they are drawn to each other. They seemed very real to me, I especially liked learning about Emma and her life. She is a gifted artist and would love for her to come paint my kids rooms!

I really enjoyed the story; Emma has to move to a new town with her two nieces. Things are tights and she is under a lot of stress. I like her strong work ethic and positive outlook. Noah is doing well professionally and is happy with life. Or at least he thinks he is until Emma bursts into his life and shakes things up. I thought this story was a lot of fun; I loved the setting and side characters. I was so excited when I got to the end to see there will be two more books in the series. I can’t wait to read about Noah, he really deserves his own happiness. And Sam will be fun to read to, I love cowboy stories so I already know I will love that one.

If you love contemporary romance this is a great heartwarming story. Love it!

Content: Clean
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