Thursday, October 17, 2019

Release Day Review and Giveaway: DOWNFALL by Willow Aster

Kingdom of Sins Series #1
by Willow Aster
Publication Date: October 17, 2019
Source: Wildfire Market Solutions
Pages: 296
Purchase Links:


I was naïve to think my marriage to Luka Catano might work.
I was infatuated with him from afar…
Until I met him.
He loved the challenge of his next conquest, anyone would do...
Except me.
A wife was never something he wanted.

Torturous was not a strong enough word to describe how I felt when I was in a room with Luka. Besides hating nearly every word that came out of his mouth, I also drowned with lust every time I looked at him. 

At times I thought he might feel the same.

But nothing prepared me for what his family would make me become.

My Thoughts

“I’m intrigued by him, Yet I loathe him.”

That sounds about right. Like Eden, I loathe Luka. Early on there was a point where I wasn’t sure, I wanted to read a book with a hero like him. I’m fairly new to Willow Aster’s books (this only the second book of hers that I’ve read) and I didn’t know her writing style and how she was going to work it all out. That is why I kept reading.

The thing that made me go GRRRR is Luka has it in him to be nice to her. To respect her and to cherish her. He revealed that part of himself to her. JUST BE THAT PERSON! His behavior could be explained away because of his age, his family background, the fact that he warned her who he was and how their arranged marriage was going to be. But um, seriously dude, do better.

There will be readers who love Luka and find his actions redeemable, but he was infuriating to me.

What I can appreciate about DOWNFALL is this reaction that I’m having to this character. I’m very impassioned about getting these thoughts out. And the funny thing is, while Luka isn’t my kind of hero, I had to know how his relationship with Eden all was going to play out. I needed to know what was what with the royal families. And there are characters I enjoyed getting to know: Eden, Jadon, Ava, and Brienne. My affections toward these characters was a nice balance to all the GRRRRs toward Luka.

DOWNFALL is entertaining for sure. I have some reader friends who will eat it up and I will without a doubt recommend it to them.

Read it. Get impassioned and let’s talk!


Willow Aster is a USA Today Bestselling author and host of Living in the Pages podcast. She lives in St. Paul, MN with her husband, kids, and rescue dog.

Follow Willow Aster

Living in the Pages podcast

Tour-wide Giveaway hosted by the author.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC as part of the blog tour hosted by Wildfire Tour Solutions. I was not compensated in any way other than the e-ARC provided. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019


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

Publication Date: June 13, 2019
Pages: 254
Source: Kindle Unlimited | Purchased
Rating: 4.5 of 5
Synopsis (link to Goodreads)

My Thoughts

I've read some pretty incredible books this summer and I've just added THE REBOUND to the list. It's one of those books that kept me reading through the night. I was surprised that it wasn't as scandelous as I'd anticipated. I loved the age-gap storyline of the musician and his muse.

I've read several of Rogue's poetry books and while I have a couple of her novels, this is the first one I've read. Reading the novel felt like reading her poetry. Her style translates well - it's fluid and mesmerizing. As I read THE REBOUND, I kept thinking: I want to write a book like this. One that is touching and telling and giving the reader just enough at the right time to evoke an emotional response.

It's so good! I definitely recommend it.

THE IDEA OF YOU by Robinne Lee
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Pages: 372
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5 of 5
Synopsis (link to Goodreads)

My Thoughts

I can't believe this book has captured me so completely. I started it late in the night and after waking up at 3:00 in the morning, I couldn't stop reading it until I finished.

What I thought would be just a fun escape - a summer read with the older woman/younger man trope. I didn't expect this overwhelming story of love and all of the life lived in this story.

I loved it. An instant favorite with a permanent place on my bookshelf.

MY OXFORD YEAR by Julia Whelan
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Pages: 352
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5 of 5
Synopsis (link to Goodreads)

My Thoughts

I really needed to read this book at this time in my life. It's funny how that can happen sometimes with a book. It was as though this book just called to me like "You've had me for a while and you keep passing me over. Now is the time." I didn't read the book summary, so I didn't really know what I was getting into when I started it.

I finished it in early August and just thinking about it still leaves me breathless.  It entertained me and helped me get through some tough moments. It's still doing that. I love it. 

Monday, October 14, 2019

Review: SIX GOODBYES WE NEVER SAID by Candace Ganger

by Candace Ganger
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Published by St. Martin's | Wednesday Books
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher | Blog Tour
Add to Goodreads


Two teens meet after tragedy and learn about love, loss, and letting go

Naima Rodriguez doesn’t want your patronizing sympathy as she grieves her father, her hero—a fallen Marine. She’ll hate you forever if you ask her to open up and remember him “as he was,” though that’s all her loving family wants her to do in order to manage her complex OCD and GAD. She’d rather everyone back the-eff off while she separates her Lucky Charms marshmallows into six, always six, Ziploc bags, while she avoids friends and people and living the life her father so desperately wanted for her. 

Dew respectfully requests a little more time to process the sudden loss of his parents. It's causing an avalanche of secret anxieties, so he counts on his trusty voice recorder to convey the things he can’t otherwise say aloud. He could really use a friend to navigate a life swimming with pain and loss and all the lovely moments in between. And then he meets Naima and everything’s changed—just not in the way he, or she, expects. 

Candace Ganger's Six Goodbyes We Never Said is no love story. If you ask Naima, it’s not even a like story. But it is a story about love and fear and how sometimes you need a little help to be brave enough to say goodbye.

My Thoughts

I received SIX GOODBYES WE NEVER SAID as part of a blog tour that took place last month. I missed the tour, obviously as I'm just now sharing my thoughts. It took me longer to read than I anticipated. I've been considering what I wanted to share about it here. It's one of those books that I'm afraid that it won't come across just how much I loved it and why I think others should read it. This is me giving it a shot.

I loved the humor in the dialogue and the interactions of the characters. Naima and Dew with both a delight to read about. I especially enjoyed Dew and his adoptive family and his relationship with his sister, Faith. There is a lot of open communication and attempts at understanding one another and validating feelings. And then there is Faith and her Nature Boy Rick Flair "woo-ing" - that had me in stitches.   

I appreciate this story for its sensitivity with characters who have experienced great losses and the recognition that everyone grieves in their on time, in their own way. The death of their parents isn't something you can get over. Instead, it becomes a part of them and shapes how they experience the rest of the world. 

Memorable Quote:

"If we acknowledge our right to feel like hell, for as long as we need to, maybe others will give us a little more breathing room, you know?" - said to Naima by her grandma JJ.

This book really touched my heart. Like another book I read earlier this summer - THE OTHER SIDE by Kim Holden, it really spoke to the idea that we need to take care with other people's feelings. 

It is my hope that readers find compassion for these characters, as well as for the people in their own lives who are going through some tough times and experiences. And please, please take the time to read the Author's Note at the beginning of the book. As it sometimes happens, the note becomes a favorite part of the book just as it did with this one. In case it needs to be said (or written), I loved THE SIX GOODBYES WE NEVER SAID and I am so glad that I read it!

About the Author:

Candace Ganger is the author of Six Goodbyes We Never Said and The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash as well as a contributing writer for HelloGiggles and obsessive marathoner. Aside from having past lives as a singer, nanotechnology website editor, and world’s worst vacuum sales rep, she’s also ghostwritten hundreds of projects for companies, best-selling fiction and award-winning nonfiction authors alike. She lives in Ohio with her family.

Twitter: @candylandgang + @WednesdayBooks

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from the publisher for review as part of a review tour. I was not compensated in any way other than the e-ARC provided. Quotes contained within the review are from the e-ARC and may differ from the final published version.Thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, October 4, 2019

From My Shelves Giveaway: THE ONE YOU CAN'T FORGET by Roni Loren

What does that mean? More giveaways on my blog! 

This week: THE ONE YOU CAN'T FORGET by Roni Loren

I love this book and ended up with a second copy, so I'm happy to share it with one of my blog readers.

From my review:

"Roni Loren makes it easy to fall in love with her characters and their stories. I was introduced to her writing with the first book in The Ones Who Got Away Series and I am hooked! I couldn’t wait to pick up this book and dig in. THE ONE YOU CAN’T FORGET is the perfect balance of serious and swoony and I absolutely loved it!"


by Roni Loren

Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Pages: 416


Most days Rebecca Lindt feels like an imposter…
The world admires her as a survivor. But that impression would crumble if people knew her secret. She didn’t deserve to be the one who got away.But nothing can change the past, so she’s thrown herself into her work. She can’t dwell if she never slows down.

Wes Garrett is trying to get back on his feet after losing his dream restaurant, his money, and half his damn mind in a vicious divorce. But when he intervenes in a mugging and saves Rebecca—the attorney who helped his ex ruin him—his simple life gets complicated.

Their attraction is inconvenient and neither wants more than a fling. But when Rebecca’s secret is put at risk, both discover they could lose everything, including what they never realized they needed: each other

She laughed and kissed him. This morning she'd melted down. But somehow this man had her laughing and turned on only a few hours later. Everything inside her felt buoyed.

She felt…light.

She'd forgotten what that felt like.

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Giveaway ends October 19, 2019

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Thursday, October 3, 2019

ARCtober Reading Challenge

Image Credit: KimberlyFaye Reads
I've joined #ARCTOBER Reading Challenge hosted by KimberlyFaye Reads and Romance Schmomace. The goal is to read ARCs. Easy enough. I'm altering my challenge a bit and will focus on writing reviews.

I'll share my updates on Instagram, so follow me there: @actinupjoli (#ARCtober19) and I'll share my reviews here on my blog. 

You can see the reading challenge details and sign-up HERE at KimberlyFaye Reads.

My Goals
Read AND Review

Finish and Review my current ARC 
Six Goodbyes We Never Said by Candace Ganger

Read my newest ARC  
Downfall by Willow Aster

Read any ARC from my bookshelf (or from one of piles on my floor)
So many (also too many) to choose from

For this challenge, my main focus will be to review the MANY ARCs I've read and still need to review. This is a must for me. I should be embarrassed, I mean some of the ARCs I'm reviewing, the books have been out for months and even years. Yes, sadly, years. 

I'm about to reach my Goodreads goal for the year: Just 3 more books to 100! So I can step back from the reading and WRITE THOSE REVIEWS.

Happy Reading!


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