Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Blog Tour: Hot Shot

Thank goodness Karina Halle writes - and publishes - quickly because I don't know how much longer I could have waited for Hot Shot! It's the third book in the North Ridge series and we finally (finally!) get to see Fox and Delilah get together. I couldn't wait to dive back in to the world of the Nelson brothers and, once I did, I didn't want to leave.

Here's the synopsis:
Delilah Gordon has a secret.
She’s been in love with her best friend and the boy next door, Fox Nelson, since she was six years old.
And while most of her friends and family know about her unrequited crush, the one person who remains oblivious is Fox himself. To Delilah, it’s better this way. She’d rather pretend that they’re just friends, even though her feelings for the moody rugged mountain man are anything but tame.
Fox Nelson has a secret too.
As a wildland firefighter or “hot shot,” Fox parachutes into danger every day he’s on the job, risking all to fight wildfires that threaten ranches, forests and thousands of lives. But while Fox’s job is only for the brave, inside he feels anything but. The more he grapples with his raging demons, the more he realizes Delilah is the only one who can put out the flames.
As the two friends grow closer – and more intimate – than ever before, the more complicated their relationship becomes.
And Delilah has one more secret to reveal.
A secret that will change both their lives…forever.
I mentioned that this book is part of a series but I always want to note that Halle's series don't require you to read all the stories in order. That being said, I'm a series purist and always need to start from the beginning. This way you're not being spoiled by any little details. The big details - who ends up with who - are pretty easy to figure out so skipping a book isn't really going to be the end of the world. 

Wild Card (which I reviewed here) was really dark and heavy. Maverick was more lighthearted (and a tad steamier!). Hot Shot was somewhere in between. No one way is better than the others and I think it highlights how well Halle can write both light and dark. 

I don't know if it was just the mental headspace I'm in right now (see my post earlier this week about my favourite 2017 reads to get an idea) or what, but the emotional punch Halle almost always delivers in her books was particularly hard this time around. I always get so incredibly invested in her characters that my emotions are soaring and diving right alongside theirs. It's intense for an empathetic reader like myself. It's great because it shows how freaking amazing Halle is at writing these stories but it's also hard because some of the emotions are so hard to deal with.

Even though I knew Fox and Delilah were probably going to finally get together in the end, it was agonizing (in a weirdly good way) for me to read as they slowly realized that what they assumed the other was feeling might not actually be the case. They had buried their feelings for so long that it was hard to face them. Fox, in particular. His were so far buried that he almost seemed shocked when he realized he might want Delilah as more than just a friend. (Jeez, boys are dumb sometimes!) 

But, Fox had a lot of issues to work out before he was ready to commit to Delilah. And I am so glad that she knew what she deserved even if it was breaking her heart. It made the ending so much sweeter.

One final note - I absolutely loved the squirrel in this story. He wasn't a major plot point but he provided lighthearted moments (I literally laughed out loud when a chapter opened with Delilah's mom telling her that her squirrel was trying to drink her coffee) as well as deeper moments when Delilah realized some parallels (can't get too spoilery here!). It sounds a bit weird, I know, but I just loved that little guy.

I think I might be in denial that the series is over but Karina Halle gave us readers the most delightful epilogue so we know what all the Nelsons are up to and where their lives are heading next. Hot Shot, just like the rest of the North Ridge novels, was an absolute delight to read (even when it was ripping my heart out) and I highly suggest everyone pick up this series!

*An eARC of this novel was provided by the author and Social Butterfly PR in exchange for a review for the purpose of a blog tour. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Find (and buy!) Hot Shot
Amazon US * Amazon UK * Amazon CA * iBooks * Nook * Kobo
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Meet Karina
Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, Dirty Angels and over 20 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.
Halle is represented by the Root Literary and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.

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Monday, January 8, 2018

Favourite 2017 Reads

Can you believe we're already a week into 2018? I don't know about you but 2017 was a rough year for me. I've been so busy and have had so many major life things happen (especially over the past few months) that I haven't really been blogging too much. I didn't even get a post up in November to celebrate my seven year blogiversary! And clearly I'm on top of posting this "best of", too!

Without going too much into my year (but would I be a blogger if I didn't talk about myself a little bit?)...I got in my first ever car accident (I was fine, my car was kind of fine, and the bus was definitely fine), found out my rabbit needed surgery (she's ok but it's a recurring issue), and had to buy a new phone (mine took a major tumble at the grocery store). And all of that happened within about 4 days right at the start of the year. In the spring I found out my grandma was sick and she got progressively sicker until she passed away in August. That was the hardest thing to deal with this year and it's not something you get over easily. Then, just to make the year even more ridiculous, in September I found out via Facebook and small town gossip that my estranged father died in a car accident. How does one deal with that?

But even with those big, massive, awful things...there have been some bright moments. I met Jenny Han and Sophie Kinsella. I went to a wonderful afternoon tea book launch for author Karma Brown and my friend and I got to sit at Karma's table. I turned 30 in May! The biggest things - and some of the best things - happened right at the end of the year. In November I went to Australia for the second time and it was amazing. Then, two days after we landed back in cold, snowy Canada, my boyfriend and I got the keys to our first house. December was insanely busy with painting and moving and just trying to process all of the feelings I've been having this year.

Books definitely helped me through the tough times and I read a lot of really great ones last year (even though I read fewer books in 2017 than I have in years - "just" 87, which is fitting as I was born in 1987). These are ten of my absolute favourites. 9 of the 10 were 5 stars (and the one that was 4 stars probably should have been 5 now that I think back!) and just so great to read. There were also oodles of other four star books that I wish I could talk about too but I have to narrow it down somehow. I can't really choose favourites among the favourites so I've listed them in the order I read them. If you want to see all the books I read last year, you can check out my Goodreads year in review.

My Not So Perfect Life - Sophie Kinsella (Review here)
Kinsella's latest book is probably now my favourite of all of hers. I don't know exactly why I adored it more than her others. Maybe it was the heroine (she's close to my age). Maybe it was her job (communications/branding). Maybe it was just that the overall story was funny, quirky, and sweet. I associate those adjectives with most of Kinsella's books but this one reminded me why she's one of the queens of chick lit.

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Until It Fades - K.A. Tucker (Review here)
I've been devouring Tucker's books for years and while I love her work and how twisty they can be, I was really happy to hear that her 2017 release would be a bit lighter and more romantic. I loved it and that the hero was a professional athlete. I also loved that it was, as with all of Tucker's books, well written and completely captivating.

Kim vs. the Mean Girl / The Boyfriend Swap - Meredith Schorr (Reviews here and here)
I had the chance to beta read Kim vs. the Mean Girl so I was excited about the release well before it was actually, well, released. One of the things I loved about it was that, because it was a prequel of Schorr's Blogger Girl series (one of my favourites), it featured a teenage Kim. The fun part? She was a teen around the same time I was so it was a cool blast from the past.
As for The Boyfriend Swap? I could not put it down. I just love all of Schorr's heroines and her latest book had a little bit of festive flair that I really enjoyed too.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean - Jenny Han
This is one that slipped through my reviewing queue (sorry, Simon & Schuster Canada...bad blogger) but I really loved it. It was such a great way to wrap up Lara Jean's story. Especially when we weren't expecting a third book! While I wish I could see how Lara Jean does in college, I'm glad we got a bit more of a resolution to her story than we would have. Thanks, Jenny! (Oh, and who else is super excited for the upcoming movie?)

Once and For All - Sarah Dessen (Review here)
Summers are so much better when Dessen has a new book out. I savoured this one on my 30th birthday and it was absolute perfection. This book was set during the summer after Louna graduated high school and I can still remember my own summer before university. This was a great read about a girl who needed to learn to live and love again and it was so sweet.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo - Taylor Jenkins Reid (Review here)
OK, OK. If I had to pick a favourite, this would probably be it. It was definitely the one I recommended the most to people this year. I loved it because it hit all sorts of high points and genres. It was historical fiction but woven with a strong, secondary contemporary story. And the historical part of it started in Old Hollywood which seems so glamorous and full of intrigue. There was also a romance that you don't see coming. Jenkins Reid wrote a novel that was nothing like I'd ever read before and I freaking loved it.

The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas
This was, hands down, the hardest book I read this year. And also the most necessary. I am SO glad this book exists for teenagers. And adults, really. I finally got to read it when my book club chose it as one of our reads for this year (it may have been strongly pushed by myself and another member). And, as a club full of white women, it was good for us to read it because as enlightened as we may think we are, we don't have the first clue what it's really like to be a teenager in the middle of the Black Lives Matter movement. Read this one if you haven't yet.

Harry Potter Series - J.K. Rowling
I hadn't done a reread of the series in a couple of years and I was getting the urge to revisit Hogwarts. Then my grandma started to get really sick. I dove in to these books and I barely came up for air. It was familiar and comforting during a time I needed it most.

Baseball Life Advice - Stacey May Fowles
I don't read a ton of non-fiction and I definitely don't buy much but this book was on my to-buy list as soon as I found out it was going to be published. I've followed Stacey May on Twitter for awhile now (as well as subscribe to her newsletter) so I kind of knew what her book would be like - a bit of a love letter to baseball from a fan who knows it inside and out and loves the good, the bad, and the ugly. My favourite thing about reading this book was that I was constantly agreeing with what Fowles was writing. It was like she was inside my head and feels just the same way about the sport that I do. She also has some very smart and important points about females in the world of sports and how much we have to prove ourselves to the male fans. You definitely need to read this if you're a baseball fan.

Wild Card / Maverick - Karina Halle (my review of Wild Card here)
Halle started another sort-of-but-not-really series in 2017 featuring three brothers living in western Canada. Wild Card was a deep, emotional rollercoaster of a book and so good. I didn't know how Maverick could even compare. It can't, not really, because it's more lighthearted but it's just as amazing. (And a perfect vacation book as you can see from the pic - I miss Australia!) The conclusion of the "series", Hot Shot, is out tomorrow (and my review will be up on Wednesday)!

And there you have it! My top ten books of 2017. It's not surprising that they're all by women - I only read 4 books by men in 2017. My goal for 2018 is to read more diversely as I clearly have the "read more females" thing down pat. That will include more geographically diverse authors too...this list features two women from Great Britain, three from Canada, and five from the US. Not bad but I could do better. I also would like to just plain read more in 2018. I didn't even hit 90 books in 2017 and I know that's an insane amount and I'm so not comparing my number to anyone else's but...I could do better. There are just so many books out there and read as many as possible! I'm going to try to put myself on a more set book buying ban. I did well this year, only splurging on a few, but it'd be good for my budget and my bookshelf space to cut back even more. Stay tuned to see how that goes!

Happy New Year, friends. And here's hoping 2018 treats us well.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Review: The Christmas Secret

Another year, another Karen Swan Christmas novel! I admit that I don't really consider Swan's winter releases as Christmas books anymore. The holiday might be in the title but it's not really in the story. Now that I'm approaching them that way, I enjoy them a lot more. Swan's most recent, The Christmas Secret, was lovely and is probably my favourite of all of her holiday novels! 

Here's the synopsis:
Alex Hyde is in demand. An executive coach par excellence, she's the person who the Great and the Good turn to when the pressure gets too much - she can change the way they think, how they operate; she can turn around the very fortunes of their companies.
Her waiting list is months' long, but even she can't turn down the highly lucrative crisis call that comes her way a few weeks before Christmas, regarding the troublesome - and troubled - head of an esteemed whisky company in Scotland. Lochlan Farquhar, CEO of Kentallen Distilleries, is a maverick, an enigma and a renegade, and Alex needs to get inside his head before he brings the company to its knees.
It should be business as usual. She can do this in her sleep. Only, when she gets to the remote island of Islay, with the winter snow falling, Alex finds herself out of her comfort zone. Memories she would rather forget come back to haunt her. For once she's not in control, but with Christmas and her deadline fast approaching, she must win Lochlan's trust.
Yet as she fulls ever closer to him, boundaries become blurred, loyalties loosen and Alex finds herself faced with an impossible choice as she realizes nothing and no one is as they first seemed. 
I loved Alex. She was a bit difficult to like and that's why I loved her. I'm glad Swan wrote such a strong, successful, confident woman. Alex kicks ass and takes names and has nothing to apologize for (you don't see Lochlan or any of the other men running Kentallen Distilleries apologizing for being successful now do you?) Even though I liked her right away, the more I learned about Alex, the more I liked her. She starts to let her guard down a little bit and it was so nice to read as she realized that it's ok to open up to others and make friends and lasting connections.

Speaking of Alex opening up...I think the only thing that drove me a bit batty with this book was how long it took to explain Alex's background. I was fine with the other mystery taking awhile to be completely unraveled (I think I had it mostly figured out but it was still a bit of a surprise when it was all unveiled!). I think that was because it was an actual mystery whereas Alex's secret was something that she didn't feel she could or should share, even when she was starting to open up with Lochlan. But the historical secret that impacts so much of present day? I loved it and it added an extra depth to the overall story.

I was surprised at how much I loved the setting of this novel. I don't know family is Scottish so I'm always drawn to books set there. But a story set at a distillery was really interesting. I learned a bit about the whisky making business (and I hope Swan did a lot of research - you know the kind ;) - while writing this book!) but it wasn't so overwhelming that I felt like it was all whisky, all the time. It was unique and definitely one I'll think about for awhile yet.

The Christmas Secret was a really lovely and enjoyable read. I did not want to put it down! I was sad when it was over but Karen Swan wrote such a great story with an ending that left me feeling fulfilled. The last few Swan novels have been so great and I'm really hopeful her next one will be just as fantastic!

*An advanced copy was provided by the distributor, Publisher's Group Canada, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Review: Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe

I'm a big Jane Austen fan so when I realized Melissa de la Cruz had written Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe, an updated, Christmastime, gender swapped version of Pride and Prejudice, I was sold. Happily, I really enjoyed it even though it's a super fast read.

Here's the synopsis:
Darcy Fitzwilliam is 29, beautiful, successful, and brilliant. She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones—one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding). Darcy’s never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else’s drama, and never goes home for Christmas if she can help it. But when her mother falls ill, she comes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her dad and little brother.
Her parents throw their annual Christmas bash, where she meets one Luke Bennet, the smart, sardonic slacker son of their neighbor. Luke is 32 and has never left home. He’s a carpenter and makes beautiful furniture, and is content with his simple life. He comes from a family of five brothers, each one less ambitious than the other. When Darcy and Luke fall into bed after too many eggnogs, Darcy thinks it’s just another one night stand. But why can’t she stop thinking of Luke? What is it about him? And can she fall in love, or will her pride and his prejudice against big-city girls stand in their way?
I had taken a quick look at Goodreads to see what others thought of this book and one comment stuck out for me: that the synopsis doesn't quite match with the actual story. Though it really doesn't have much to do with my overall thoughts on the novel, I do think the synopsis should reflect what's actually happening in the book. I don't think it's ever mentioned in the story that she has multiple cell phones (she adores her assistant), she doesn't meet Luke at the party because they went to school together, Luke is not a slacker, and they don't have a one night stand. They literally sleep together after Darcy passes out from a few too many drinks. I think most people who are reading this for a Pride and Prejudice retelling won't care too much about the discrepancies because, if they're anything like me, they didn't even pay too much attention to the synopsis in the first place. But someone else who's going into this not knowing much about the original story might be frustrated with the story they ended up with.

The novel is quite short - just over 200 pages - so it couldn't faithfully follow Austen's novel. But I actually really liked how de la Cruz updated and tweaked the story to suit her needs and the present day. Characters were added (Darcy has a bunch of brothers instead of just one opposite gender sibling) or taken away (there's no Lady Catherine de Bourgh in this story but Darcy's dad sort of plays that role), and some even changed pretty drastically (Darcy's BFF Bingley is still a man but Jane became Jim so there's a gay romance in play too). Even with all the changes, it all seemed to work for me. I liked that I knew how the story would play out but wasn't totally sure how it would do so. It's not quite Lizzie Bennet Diaries level amazing but it's pretty good as far as adaptations/retellings go.

This was a really easy read for me. I read it in about two hours over the course of two days. Part of that is because I'm a super fast reader, but I think it's also because I already sort of knew how the story would play out and also because it was written in such a way that wasn't too difficult to read.

Like most Christmas books these days, the holiday aspect of the book isn't overpowering. The book begins around Christmas and there is a big fancy Christmas party as well as some caroling. Plus, mistletoe does play a pretty big part in Darcy and Luke's relationship. So, if you want Christmas, you've got it. If you'd rather the holiday didn't play a part, well, know that it's not a huge one. I personally love Christmas stories so I always want more festive cheer than less but I can understand why it's usually played down in books.

Overall, Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe was a fun holiday read. Like I said, I'm a Jane Austen fan so I came into it with that lens and knowing the original story fairly well but I'd be really interested to see what those who haven't read Austen's novel think about it. Melissa de la Cruz's latest is a good one to pick up during the holidays not just because it's a good read but also for its hints of Christmas cheer.

*An advanced uncorrected proof was provided by the distributor, Raincoast Books, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Monday, December 18, 2017

Review: Moonlight Over Manhattan

It's been an absolute delight reading Sarah Morgan's From Manhattan with Love series. I brought the latest one, Moonlight Over Manhattan, with me on a recent vacation because I knew it would be the perfect beach read and because it would help me get in the holiday spirit while on said beach. Though, I must say, reading a Christmassy book while in Australia was an interesting experience!

Here's the synopsis:
She'll risk everything for her own Christmas miracle...
Determined to conquer a lifetime of shyness, Harriet Knight challenges herself to do one thing a day in December that scares her, including celebrating Christmas without her family. But when dog walker Harriet meets her newest client, exuberant spaniel Madi, she adds an extra challenge to her list--dealing with Madi's temporary dog sitter, gruff doctor Ethan Black, and their very unexpected chemistry.
Ethan thought he was used to chaos, until he met Madi--how can one tiny dog cause such mayhem? To Ethan, the solution is simple--he will pay Harriet to share his New York apartment and provide twenty-four-hour care. But there's nothing simple about how Harriet makes him feel.
Ethan's kisses make Harriet shine brighter than the stars over moonlit Manhattan. But when his dog-sitting duties are over and Harriet returns to her own home, will she dare to take the biggest challenge of all--letting Ethan know he has her heart for life, not just for Christmas?
I had the warm and fuzzies as soon as I started reading this book. I loved the way Harriet and Ethan met! It was such a sweet meet cute and I loved the twist Morgan threw in that had them come together once again. Their second meeting was a bit tough to read - and I don't think this will be too spoilery - as Ethan's anger at the way his day had gone resulted in him yelling at Harriet. If you've read the other stories you'll know that Harriet had a really rough childhood and his anger triggered her stammer. But Morgan knows how to write her heroes and Ethan quickly figured out that he was the issue and he worked hard to correct his behaviour. Harriet didn't trust him right away - rightfully so - but she could see that he was genuine in his desire to make things right. It was really sweet to read.

I absolutely loved getting to know Harriet more. Especially because she was trying so hard to become more assertive and less shy. I can totally identify with that and am in awe at some of the things she made herself do. She didn't want to rely on her (super amazing) support system so much and that's admirable but I also think that, at times, she pushed them away too much. It was like she swung too far into the "I am going to do this on my own and I absolutely cannot accept any help from my siblings." I think that was a bit of a mistake but I can understand why she was feeling like that.

Morgan has worked her series Puffin Island, into this series before so I wasn't too surprised to see the O'Neil Brothers pop up in this story. Unsurprising, maybe, but not unwelcome. I thought the setting of the ski lodge was perfect (note to self: read more books set at ski lodges) and seeing Harriet and Ethan bond even more in such a picturesque setting was lovely. I especially love the date idea Ethan came up with. It was perfect! ( date spoilers here.) And, even though I've only read one of the O'Neil Brothers series (always wanted to read the rest but just never found the time), it was really nice to catch up with the family.

Like most Christmas romances, this book isn't overly Christmassy. The focus in this book was more on how Harriet was trying to stand on her own two feet and allowing her siblings to have Christmas with their new significant others. She knew she could have gone to see her grandmother in the Hamptons, or stayed with Fliss and Seth (their story was Holiday in the Hamptons and you can read my review here if you missed it) but she wanted to stay in New York City for the holidays. Now, I've never been in NYC for Christmas (only ever been once in my life) but I've read enough holiday stories and seen enough movies to know that it really does look like a magical place in December. (And, yes, I'm aware these shows and books show it as picture perfect and it's probably not but let me have this vision, ok?). I could see why Harriet would want to stay in the city and enjoy all that it has to offer during the holiday season. Plus, it allowed for a really sweet scene with Harriet and Ethan later on in the book!

Small sides note: if you're a dog lover, you'll love this one. Harriet understands dogs at a whole other level and Morgan is able to write her in such a way that you can really see how talented she is at working with animals.

I really hope there's going to be another From Manhattan with Love novel but I have a feeling Sarah Morgan has reached the end of the stories she has to tell from New York City. Ever story in this series has been so heartwarming, sweet, funny, and a little sexy. If it is the end, Moonlight Over Manhattan was a great novel to end on. It very well might be my favourite of the six! If you want a nice Christmas-ish read this holiday season, this is one to pick up!

PS I really did bring it to the beach!

*An advanced copy of this novel was provided by the publisher, Harlequin, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Monday, November 20, 2017

Blog Tour: Holiday Wishes

We're getting closer and closer to Christmas which means reading even more Christmas romances! It's one of my favourite parts of the holiday - bonus if I can curl up in front of fireplace with a peppermint (or spiked) hot chocolate. I love when I can find a good novella or short story with a holiday theme and I was happy to come across Holiday Wishes by Jill Shalvis. I only just read my first Heartbreaker Bay novel recently (another Christmas one, of course, and you can read my review here) but really enjoyed the group of friends I met. So, I was happy to get to know another couple better in Holiday Wishes.

Here's the synopsis:
It’s Christmastime again in Heartbreaker Bay!
When Sean O’Riley shows up at the Hartford Bed & Breakfast for his older brother’s bachelor weekend, he’s just hoping to make it through the weekend. What he’s not expecting is to come face to face with the woman he lost his virginity to a decade ago—a woman he’s never really forgotten.
The last time Lotti Hartford saw Sean, she told him she loved him while he said nothing. Now, ten years later, she’s just looking for a good time. For once, she wants to be the wild and free one, and Sean – the good time guy – is the perfect candidate.
But as the weekend continues, Sean realizes that after a lifetime of being the hook-up king, he’s ready to find happily-ever-after, and he wants it with Lotti. But will she open her heart to him again? As Christmas sweeps through the little B&B, he can only hope love and magic are in the air.
I feel like I say this all the time in my Christmas book reviews but this novella didn't beat you over the head with holiday spirit. Well. That's not strictly true. I think sometimes these books actually capture the spirit Christmas is supposed to have, what it used to have. You know, the sort of cheesy being surrounded by friends and family and spending time with each other instead of the things you felt you had to buy each other kind of feeling. In the case of Holiday Wishes, it was so lovely seeing how much Sean and his friends care for each other and how close they were. They had made their own family and I loved that.

I'm a big fan of second chance romances (do you ever wonder sometimes why your favourite tropes are your favourites? Am I trying too hard to psychoanalyze myself?) so I really liked that Sean and Lotti knew each other when they were teenagers. I'm proud of Lotti for standing up to Sean and not falling back into his arms just because he was there. Of course, I was also frustrated that she didn't give him a fair enough chance to explain that he had changed. She just couldn't believe it. But then he starts to show her how he changed and oh how he worked to woo her. It was really sweet.

I absolutely loved the setting of the novel. I guess I'm a sucker for quaint hotel/B&B set stories too (I adored Nora Roberts' Inn BoonsBoro novels and someday I will stay at the real Inn!). I also liked that Lotti was running her own business and had a lot of pride in it. 

Holiday Wishes is perfect for you if you want a sweet hit of Christmassy romance this holiday season. Jill Shalvis has written a pretty good (but not great) novella. It can stand alone but I think it might be nice had you read Sean's brothers novel. All in all, I'm glad to have read it but it wasn't a romance that totally knocked my Christmas-themed socks off.

About the Author
New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website,, for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

Connect with Jill
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Buy Holiday Wishes
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*An eARC was provided by the publisher, HarperCollins, for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Friday, November 17, 2017

Review: Bad at Love

I've been reading Karina Halle for a long while now and I'm thrilled that she's been writing more contemporary romances lately. She is one of the best at writing romances that are realistic, heartwrenching, sweet, sexy, and funny. It sounds like a tall order but she does it well! Bad at Love had all of those elements and was a really enjoyable read.

Here's the synopsis:
She's bad at love, but he's even worse...
Marina is hot, blonde, and wickedly smart, but when it comes to men? She's hopeless. Between her quirks and her lack of filter, there isn't a man in Los Angeles that will stick around after the third date.
Her handsome, charming friend Lazarus has the opposite problem. Everyone wants to be his girlfriend, but he gets bored and moves on quickly.
There's only one way to figure out why neither of them has cracked this love thing-- they'll date each other. On paper, it's the perfect experiment. But in reality, things between Marina and Laz get complicated quickly.
They might be bad at love, but they are even worse at being friends.
The main characters in Bad at Love were really interesting. Their career paths were ones that I definitely hadn't read about before. Marina is a beekeeper and Laz fronts a Depeche Mode cover band and is an Instagram famous poet. They're both still working hard to make it in their respective careers which I could identify with as I'm about the same age they are.

Even though I knew why Marina and Laz were bad at love and what was going to happen by the end of the book, I was still completely drawn into their story. The people who say romances are boring or terrible because they're so predictable obviously haven't been reading the right romances. Halle writes the right kind of romances. They're sweet but steamy. They're dark but light. Some have more elements of one than the other but they're always balanced perfectly. It's one of the reasons I keep coming back to Halle's books again and again and again.

In fact, dark and light played a big part in this story. Marina is all light and sunshine and honey whereas Laz is dark and brooding and a bit mysterious (I think it's the poet/musician persona). At one point someone (it might have been Marina's best friend Naomi...maybe?) mentions how Marina and Laz really balance each other because neither is fully dark or light. Marina has her shadows and Laz can be a goofball too. It was so perfect and really shows how right the two of them are for each other.

There's more to the story than just Marina and Laz finally figuring out how they feel about each other. They each have issues and, because they're such good friends (which, by the way, I'm really glad they were friends for so long before they started "dating"), both Marina and Laz aware of the other's issues. However, they're each still holding back and part of their relationship building is fully letting down those walls and allowing the other to fully see who they are and help the other to move past their...demons, shall we say. It was really interesting (and a bit heartbreaking) to read but I was rooting for the two of them the whole way.

Bad at Love was another wonderful read from Karina Halle. I was really glad I got the chance to read it and get to know Marina and Laz (even though my heart was being broken in some parts). Definitely get your hands on this one if you like romances that have a little bit of everything and are well-written!

Meet Karina 
Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, Dirty Angels and over 20 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.
Halle is represented by the Root Literary and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.

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*An eARC of this novel was provided by the author in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*