Thursday, January 21, 2021

Review: THE HAPPY EVER AFTER PLAYLIST by Abby Jimenez


THE HAPPY EVER AFTER PLAYLIST
by Abby Jimenez
Publication Date: April 14, 2020
Published by Forever
Pages: 401
Source: Netgalley | Purchased

Synopsis

From the USA Today bestselling author of The Friend Zone comes an adorable and fresh romantic comedy about one trouble-making dog who brings together two perfect strangers.

Two years after losing her fiancé, Sloan Monroe still can't seem to get her life back on track. But one trouble-making pup with a "take me home" look in his eyes is about to change everything. With her new pet by her side, Sloan finally starts to feel more like herself. Then, after weeks of unanswered texts, Tucker's owner reaches out. He's a musician on tour in Australia. And bottom line: He wants Tucker back.

Well, Sloan's not about to give up her dog without a fight. But what if this Jason guy really loves Tucker? As their flirty texts turn into long calls, Sloan can't deny a connection. Jason is hot and nice and funny. There's no telling what could happen when they meet in person. The question is: With his music career on the rise, how long will Jason really stick around? And is it possible for Sloan to survive another heartbreak?

My Thoughts

THE HAPPY EVER AFTER PLAYLIST has a permanent spot on my bookshelf. There isn't a way to share my love for this book without sharing how I connected to it personally after losing my husband, the love of my life, at the beginning of 2020. But first and most importantly, I want to thank Abby Jimenez for writing THE HAPPY EVER AFTER PLAYLIST and for helping and entertaining readers like me who are on our way to healing and happiness. 

I've read THE HAPPY EVER AFTER PLAYLIST twice. The first time was during the week of my husband's birthday, just four months after his death. The second time was during the week of the anniversary of his death. This wasn't intentional, but the timing of wanting to read, and later, reread this book wasn't lost on me. This has happened before - a book calls to me to be read, and it's after I've read it that I realize it was the book that I needed at that moment. 

What I need to say about starting to read this book:
I was nervous to read it. I was afraid I would get triggered and my grief would overwhelm me leaving me spiraling for days. So, like with any book, I gave myself permission to stop reading if it becomes too much for me. I cried early on, possibly from the anticipation of knowing part of Sloan's story from THE FRIEND ZONE. But when TUCKER arrived I just knew that it would be OK. Tucker, the name of the dog who jumped into Sloan's car and into her life, is also the same name that my husband would use for his Southern alter-ego. He used it when he mocked my accent and spoke like me to be silly or make me laugh. And in my mind, it felt like my husband was telling me "I'm here. I'm with you. It's OK. You're going to be OK."

I loved the romance between Sloan and Jason and the way that he wanted to love her, to take care of her, and the way he wanted to let her love him (at least until his career made it complicated). I continue to read romance because we had our own true-life romance. And sometimes when I read it in stories, it feels as though I can continue to live in that love. And while our love wasn't perfect, it was real and it was true. Books like THE HAPPY EVER AFTER PLAYLIST help me to remember that.

Sloan's story is heartbreaking and I saw too much of myself in her grief. Sloan had lost her love, she'd lost her passion, and didn't even recognize who she'd become. I thought the author shared an accurate portrayal of what it's like to lose your love, to lose the life you had with this person, and to lose the future you planned with them. It was difficult to read, but I also found comfort in the acknowledgment that this was her reality and she was struggling. The quote: "I missed myself. I missed being happy," really hit home for me. Yes Sloan, I know exactly what you mean.

THANK GOODNESS for the friendship between Kristen and Sloan - a best friend who remembers the anniversaries of important dates and anticipates her friend's needs. She's the friend to make Sloan laugh when she's not sure if she'll ever find anything funny ever again. I loved Kristen in THE FRIEND ZONE and she is a stellar BFF in THE HAPPY EVER AFTER PLAYLIST.  I'm honored and beyond grateful to have a few Kristens of my own. 💜

This book did make me cry, but it made me laugh so much more. And it reminded me of what I'd already come to realize - sadness and joy can exist in the same space. And you can let it. THE HAPPY EVER AFTER PLAYLIST will go on that special shelf of "Books of my Heart" that let me know that I'm going to be OK. And one day I'll be better than OK.

I loved it!



Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from the publisher for review consideration. I was not compensated in any way other than the e-ARC provided. I've also purchased a finish copy for my personal library. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Review: IN LOVE & PAJAMAS by Catana Chetwynd


 IN LOVE & PAJAMAS:
A Collection of Comics about Being Yourself Together
by Catana Chetwynd
Publication Date: February 2, 2021
Pages: 128
Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Source: Netgalley 

Synopsis

From the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Snug and the bestselling Little Moments of Love comes an all-new collection, In Love & Pajamas by Catana Chetwynd of Catana Comics! 


When you've reached that sweatpants-wearing cozy place in your relationship, it's all In Love & Pajamas This brand-new collection of Catana Comics presents some fan favorites and half of the book features never-before-seen comics that delight and amuse readers of all ages.  Wholesome, sweet, feel-good humor!

My Thoughts

I love how Catana Chetwynd continues to capture the special and ordinary moments with her favorite person. Her comics are adorable and so relatable, and it's fun and heartwarming to see parts of our own relationships. Just like with SNUG, I'm able to enjoy the love expressed in this book with a fondness for my favorite person who is no longer with me.

Something that I love about IN LOVE & PAJAMAS is that you can open the book to any page and have a little chuckle. These comics make the mundane fun. There were some comics that made me literally laugh out loud and it was truly wonderful to feel those moments of joy. 

I cannot wait to have a copy of IN LOVE & PAJAMAS of my own so I can pick it up any time I may need a pick me up. AND it includes stickers!! 

IN LOVE & PAJAMAS would make a wonderful gift for the person who you like to snuggle with the most.



Disclaimer:  I requested this e-ARC from Netgalley for review consideration.  I was not compensated in any way other than the e-ARC provided. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Review: THE MALL by Megan McCafferty

 


THE MALL
by Megan McCafferty
Publication Date: July 28, 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher | Netgalley

Synopsis

New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty returns to her roots with this YA coming of age story set in a New Jersey mall.

The year is 1991. Scrunchies, mixtapes and 90210 are, like, totally fresh. Cassie Worthy is psyched to spend the summer after graduation working at the Parkway Center Mall. In six weeks, she and her boyfriend head off to college in NYC to fulfill The Plan: higher education and happily ever after.

But you know what they say about the best laid plans...

Set entirely in a classic “monument to consumerism,” the novel follows Cassie as she finds friendship, love, and ultimately herself, in the most unexpected of places. Megan McCafferty, beloved New York Times bestselling author of the Jessica Darling series, takes readers on an epic trip back in time to The Mall.

My Thoughts

I'm a long time fan of Megan McCafferty's Jessica Darling Series and did a big ol' happy book shimmy when she announced her highly anticipated (by me) new book THE MALL. I didn't care that it would be a couple of years before it was released, I was just excited that we would get a new book from her.

What I loved most about this book was the nostalgia and that was one of the main reasons I wanted to read it. I mean just the title THE MALL created enough excitement. I immediately thought of a reimagined Fast Times at Ridgemont High. I loved the use of icons Frank and Kathy for Cassie's parents and Tommy and Vince the "Motley Crue" who hid a treasure. This almost went over my head, but when I realized what McCafferty did, I had a great laugh. And OF COURSE the 90210, the original 90210, shout-outs just took me back. 

It brought back fun memories of middle school and high school and hanging out at the mall with friends. My first job was in a mall and my friends even modeled the "latest fashions" for a popular chain store. I'd almost forgotten about that until just writing it here. Oh, good times. 

THE MALL was a funny, often silly, and sometimes scandalous walk down memory lane.  Fans of Megan McCafferty will enjoy this book while they wait for the release of Jessica Darling Makeover Editions!


Disclaimer:  I received this e-ARC from the publisher for review consideration. I was not compensated in any way other than the e-ARC provided. Thoughts and opinions are my own.


Thursday, December 31, 2020

The Books I Read in 2020

I just finished my last book of 2020 - I REALLY NEEDED THIS TODAY: Words to Live By by Hoda Kotb, and I want to share the books I read this year. After my husband died at the beginning of the year, I honestly didn't know if I would be able to find joy in reading again. Sometimes it just felt like I was reading the words on a page, and rereading those same words because I didn't absorb anything. I turned to audiobooks to help keep my mind occupied when I wasn't able to focus. When everything felt wrong and I felt lost, I still turned to books to help me find myself, to make me feel like me, and to find some comfort and even some strength. 

I don't have a top 10 favorite list or a best of list, but I will remember the first book that I read that I was able to lose myself in: The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kaye Adams. I know one of the books that helped me understand my grief: Paradise Cove by Jenny Holiday. And I'll remember the book that made me smile through my tears: Snug by Catana Chetwynd.

Below are the books that helped get me through 2020 - the toughest year of my life.

(The date listed is when I finished the book.)

January
4: Super Late Bloomer by Julia Kaye
6: Unfollowing You by Komal Kapoor
31: Linger by Maggie Stiefvater (audiobook)

February
8: Guts by Raina Telgemeier
11: Forever by Maggie Stiefvater (audiobook)
11: Snug by Catana Chetwynd
28: Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
29: Parental Guidance by Avery Flynn (audiobook)

March

4: Echoes Between Us by Katie McGarry
7: Dirty by Kylie Scott (audiobook)
8: The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer by Jennifer Lynch (audiobook)
15: The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kaye Adams
16: shotglass confessional by Cyrus Parker
20: Little Fires Everywhere by Celest Ng (audiobook)
23: The Liar's Daughter by Megan Cooley Peterson
26: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (audiobook)
29: The Oracle Code by Marieke Nijkamp
29: I'm Not OK with This by Charles Forman
31: Our Year in Love and Parties by Karen Hattrup 

April
1: The Opposite of Innocent by Sonya Sones
10: Drive Me Crazy by Samantha Chase (audiobook)
11: Break Your Glass Slippers by Amanda Lovelace
14: Walking Dead, Vol.2 by Robert Kirkman
21: Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey
23: Kent State by Deborah Wiles (audiobook)
25: Uncaged Wallflower by Jennae Cecilia
25: Walking Dead, Vol. 3 by Robert Kirkman
26: Happily Ever After by Debbie Tung
27: Drive Me Crazy by Samantha Chase (audiobook)

May
3: Maybe Not by Colleen Hoover (audiobook)
4: The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez
6: Dancing at My Pity Party by Tyler Feder
10: About Last Night by Ruthie Knox (audiobook)
18: Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
22: Be Straight With Me by Emily Dalton
27: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (audiobook)
30: The Perfect Escape by Suzanne Park

June
8: I Left the House Today by Cassandra Calin
13: Camp Spirit by Axelle Lenoir
14: Beach Read by Emily Henry
19: The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler (audiobook)
20: Check, Please: Sticks and Scones by Ngozi Ukazu
21: Aphrodite Made Me Do It by Trista Mateer
24: So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
26: Test Drive by Samantha Chase
28: You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
28: Where to Begin by Cleo Wade

July
3: Dirty Hands, Broken Ribs & Other Places My Heart Has Lived by Cynthia Rodriguez 
4: The Bright Side of Going Dark by Kelly Harms
15: Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
15: Everything Is Beautiful & I'm Not Afraid by Yao Xiao
22: Mermaid Inn by Jenny Holiday
27: Paradise Cove by Jenny Holiday
29: Saint by Colleen Hoover

August
2: Sadie by Courtney Summers (audiobook)
2: BSC: Boy Crazy Stacey by Ann M. Martin
17: A Pizza My Heart by Teagan Hunter (audiobook)
22: A Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (audiobook)
23: I Knead You Tonight by Teagan Hunter (audiobook)
28: Leo by Jay McLean

September

5: The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
7: Love, Creekwood by Becky Albertalli
10: Unpregnant by Jenni Hendricks and Ted Caplan (audiobook)
17: I Fall Apart by Kenzie Hart
19: Crave by Tracy Wolff (audiobook)
20: Grace: Based on the Jeff Buckley Story by Tiffanie DeBartolo
21: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour (audiobook)
27: Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez
29: Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover

October 
5: Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams
7: Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed (audiobook)
10: Burned by Ellen Hopkins (audiobook)
12: Sorrow by Tiffanie DeBartolo
16: Smoke by Ellen Hopkins (audiobook)

November 

7: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (audiobook)
12: The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon
12: Heartstopper by Alice Oseman
13: The Neurotic Notebook by Lena Friedrich
19: This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (audiobook)
22: My Last Summer with Cass by Mark Crilley
24: Between the World and Me by TaNehisi Coates (audiobook)
26: I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf by Grant Snider
28: Again Again by E. Lockhart

December
8: Gingerbread by Rachel Cohn (audiobook)
10: Santa's Secret by Heidi McLaughlin
12: A Very Perry Christmas by Marie Landry
19: Season of Joy by Annie Rains
25: A Beaumont Family Christmas by Heidi McLaughlin
30: The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher
31: I Really Needed This Today by Hoda Kotb 

Monday, December 28, 2020

New Release: A BEAUMONT FAMILY CHRISTMAS by Heidi McLaughlin

 



A Beaumont Family Christmas
by Heidi McLaughlin
Genre: Holiday Romance
Release Date: December 22 ,2020



Purchase Links


Book Description:

It’s Christmas! And for the Beaumont gang that means a huge family get together. But this year, they’re doing things a little differently.

Catch up with all of your favorite characters from Heidi McLaughlin’s bestselling Beaumont series as they gather together in Vermont to partake in the festivities of the holiday season. Find out what they’ve all been up to, and what happens when they spend Christmas hanging out in a lodge, enjoying all that a snowy New England holiday has to offer.

Grab a hot cocoa and celebrate the season with the Beaumont family and their newest members.


About Heidi:

Heidi McLaughlin is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of The Beaumont Series, The Boys of Summer, and The Archers.

Originally, from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in picturesque Vermont, with her husband and two daughters. Also renting space in their home is an over-hyper Beagle/Jack Russell, Buttercup and a Highland West/Mini Schnauzer, JiLL and her brother, Racicot.

When she isn't writing one of the many stories planned for release, you'll find her sitting court-side during either daughter's basketball games.

Heidi's first novel, Forever My Girl, has been adapted into a motion picture with LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions, starring Alex Roe and Jessica Roth, in theaters January 19, 2018. 

To stay connected with Heidi visit www.facebook.com/authorheidimclaughlin or heidimclaughlin.com


Social Media:

Text GETHEIDISBOOKS to (833) 926-1009

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Review: SNUG by Catana Chetwynd



SNUG: a collection of comics about dating your best friend
by Catana Chetwynd
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Pages: 136
Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Source: Netgalley | Library

Synopsis

Why bother getting out of bed when you could stay bundled up with that special someone and a book of cozy, cute comics. From the author of the bestselling Little Moments of Love comes Snug, a collection of comics that perfectly captures the honest, playful, and relatable snapshots of romantic life.

Catana Chetwynd’s second book has the same charming and inviting style as her first and includes 50 percent new, never-before-shared comics. Snug is a celebration of the quirks and peculiarities of every one of us—and the magic that happens when we find our matching puzzle piece.


My Thoughts

I just adore the comics created by Catana Chetwynd. They've brought me such joy and this collection in SNUG makes me feel just warm and fuzzy just as the title implies. Her comics bring a smile to my face and can make me literally laugh out loud. She really captures those small moments of falling and living in love.

With her book, LITTLE MOMENTS OF LOVE, I would share my favorite comics with my husband because I thought they were "totally us". I would turn to him, show him a comic, and tell him, "Oh my gosh, THIS IS US!" It happened with comic after comic.

Even though he's no longer here for me to share SNUG with him, it made me feel good to read it because I still saw us in the comics. I could hear his laugh and him agreeing, "Yes, this is us."
And, if I'm being honest, there were times that it made me cry too.

SNUG came out in February of this year and I've read it a few times. Chetwynd's new book IN LOVE AND PAJAMAS will be available in February 2021.

If you don't have a chance to check out her books any time soon, you can follow her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/catanacomics/





Disclaimer:  I requested this e-ARC from Netgalley for review consideration.  I was not compensated in any way other than the e-ARC provided. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Mini-Reviews: FIX HER UP, THE PROPOSAL, and 5,331 MILES

A collection of mini-reviews, quick thoughts, and books worth mentioning. Check them out!



FIX HER UP by Tessa Bailey
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Pages: 400
Source: Library
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Synopsis (link to Goodreads)

My Thoughts

I enjoyed this book for all of the laughs. I'd read some heavy emotional reads prior to reading FIX HER UP and I was in the need for a good laugh and this book did it. 

Family dinners, inconvenient/convenient small towels, and heated kisses made for some memorable moments. I loved the women supporting each other in their Just Us League - we all need friends to depend on. This fake relationship turned real romance is oh so hot and oh so good. ❤❤



THE PROPOSAL by Jasmine Guillory
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
Pages: 325
Source: Netgalley | Purchased
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Synopsis (link to Goodreads)

My Thoughts

I love the “Friends to More” or “Friends with Benefits to More” trope. And when it’s served up with a huge dose of humor, it makes it even better. THE PROPOSAL is sexy and fun and great follow-up to Jasmine Guillory’s THE WEDDING DATE.

The entire time I read THE PROPOSAL, I kept thinking “Y’all are totally in a relationship.”  Just because Nik and Carlos say what they’re doing isn’t a relationship, doesn’t mean that it’s not a relationship. They didn’t want to claim to be in a relationship because of what that would mean, but their friendship developed into something more. They were intuitive of the other’s needs and didn’t recognize that what they were feeling for each other was love. Sometimes it happens just like that. 


And if the love story isn’t enough, this book had me craving all the yummy food - risotto, tacos, pancakes - I wanted it all. And cooking for comfort or as a way to relax is always a plus in my book. 


I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series. Thank goodness I already have a copy on my shelf.




5,331 Miles by Willow Aster
Publication Date: March 1, 2019
Pages: 288
Source: Kindle Unlimited | Purchased
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Synopsis (link to Goodreads)

My Thoughts

I first heard of this book when someone chose to receive it from a giveaway I’d hosted. Willow Aster was an author who was on my radar to read, and after reading the description for 5,331 MILES, I thought this was the perfect book to start with. First love, second chances, young adult - YES, YES, YES! This is the book for me.


I loved the storytelling of the past and present, the then and the now, as a way of  learning about the characters history and everything that they’ve experienced together and apart.


A favorite quote:

     “This -- kissing you, finally saying how I feel and hearing you say it back -- it’s a thousand times better than any time I’ve played it out in my head,” he whispered, placing one more kiss on my nose.”

     I grinned, amazed that he’d been imagining the same things I had.


This was a great book to introduce me to Willow Aster’s writing. Since reading 5,331 MILES, I’ve read her follow-up MILES AHEAD and have added some of her other books to my collection. Now I just need to decide which one to read next.


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