What I’ve Been Reading Lately: Adult Fiction Edition

book recommendations and books to read

 

Hello hello! Time to share what I’ve been reading lately and what I thought about it! I have been on a reading roll lately in between getting ready for the baby and being semi-social (honestly I’ve been taking my social life a lot more easy I get tired so easily now in third trimester….so more curling up on the couch with a book for me than normal). So let’s talk about some of the adult fiction  I’ve been reading lately (which I feel like I’ve been picking up a bunch of books that really work for me) and then sometime next week I will share some of the YA I’ve been reading.

[Keep Reading]

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

 

Happy Monday, friends! Let’s talk about a few things I’ve read recently! I have to say….these 3 books couldn’t be any more different which pretty much sums up my reading life — very eclectic.

 

The Deal Elle Kennedy

The Deal by Elle Kennedy

About In A Sentence (ish): Hannah, a girl with a crush on a popular football player at her college, makes a deal with Garrett, a hockey player with a reputation, in which he’ll help her get Justin’s attention and she’ll help him pass his Ethics exam so he’ll be able to stay on the team.

Thoughts: I’m super picky about the New Adult romance books I read so I always go into them pretty nervous. This one was soooo addictive and I really enjoyed it! Totally hooked! I love the hate to love trope. It’s one of my faves of all time. Plus the fact it started with the kind of “deal” that it did? I LOVE THAT KIND OF STUFF. When people who don’t mean to fall for each other do…SWOON. I didn’t always love Garrett but his character grew on me and, while he’s not my type, I found their relationship to be something I was so invested in — especially how they grew into a friendship during their study sessions and then into something more. Some of those parts were my FAVE. I loved their banter and their chemistry! I cannot wait to read the rest of the series because I’m so curious about the other guys they feature. Overall, I can’t really explain why I enjoyed this one so much — it was super fun and sexy. It wasn’t anything new or original in terms of tropes or storylines and it was pretty predictable….but none of that mattered because something about the characters and their stories hooked me. So happy to be able to have another New Adult romance I will happily recommend because I only have a few in my arsenal that I truly loved.

 

Rating:

RATING-loved-it

[Keep Reading]

Book Talk: After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Book Talk: After I Do by Taylor Jenkins ReidAfter I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Washington Square Press on July 1, 2014
Genres: Adult Contemporary, Adult Contemporary Romance
Also by this author: Maybe in Another Life, One True Loves, Once and For All, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

 

A1

Lauren and Ryan have been together since they were in college. Now, many years into their marriage, it’s all fallen apart. In an attempt to figure out what to do next, they decide to take a year off from their marriage — no communication at all — in the hopes that spending some time apart they would fall back in love again or figure out what their future is. They both end up on a journey of self-discovery and that year questions what they think about love and marriage and their ideas of it.

a2Should I wake Will up to talk about this book now or wait until morning?! (I chose waiting because he might receive all my THOUGHTS better if I don’t wake him up). Also, CRAP it’s 1:30 in the morning and I have to be up early!!

a4Oh my soul. OH MY HEART. OH MY THIS BOOK. This is a must for anybody who is married for sure but even if you aren’t married it’s a great story and there is so much to glean from it regarding relationships — especially romantic ones. Estelle and Hannah both raved about this book and THEY WERE 100% RIGHT. It’s freaking amazing. No seriously.

1. As a married lady, this book resonated with me in more depth than I could have imagined: It was a lot like Landline by Rainbow Rowell in the way it made me think about marriage and relationships but this one affected me even more so to be honest. Will and I have been happily married for two years this month and this book made me want to vow to never stop talking, never let apathy lead the way and resentment to build and SO MANY OTHER THINGS because this story broke my heart in ways and I don’t want my marriage to ever get to the point this one did. There were little things that were in this book that scared the hell out of me because some of them I could see happening to us if I’m being honest. The beginnings of things that don’t look like a big deal but ARE.  I’d recommend this to everyone but ESPECIALLY YOU MARRIED PEOPLE. It was Thinking Book for sure and I am so thankful for it.

2. From page 1 I was just captured by this story: We know from the start that they are in a bad place so it’s super bittersweet when we get the story of them falling in love. Despite that, I loved learning how they met, their engagement and then life as newlyweds and then we get these chapters of these small cracks in the foundation and then each little section gets progressively sadder and worse with their relationship. I could FEEL the resentment and the anger there. And then we get into the present where they are deciding to separate from each other for a year. I found myself furiously reading because I HAD TO KNOW how it would turn out. I enjoyed watching what Lauren was learning in her year away from him and I just was so nervous to see what would happen at the end of the year. They both learned a lot about themselves/their marriage but would they be able to fix it? I HAD TO KNOW.

3. This book made me WEEP multiple times: There were just so many things about this story that made me emotional — especially the ending. But watching them leave each other, witnessing the sad moments and the loneliness, the doubt, the realizations of where things went wrong. It all just killed me and there were these perfectly written moments that just stirred up something in my heart so forcefully. And when the ending came…I was just a mess. It was just so unflinchingly honest and poignant that my heart couldn’t handle it.

4. I’m so used to reading books about people FALLING IN LOVE that it was refreshing to read something different: Sure, we see the beginnings of their love story but then we start to see this unraveling of it. And I liked that I really didn’t KNOW if they were going to get back together in the end. To watch how hard sometimes you have to work at love was just really refreshing because like the tagline says, “falling in love is the easy part.” And I honestly was glued to this unraveling but then this year of self love and reflecting on the marriage and the love for each other.

 

a6RATING-beyondloved

factors+ plot, characters, FEELINGS, how it made me think
NADA

Re-readability: YES!!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I got this out from the library and I REALLY want a copy for myself now!

a5readers of contemporary adult fiction, people who like reading about messy love, people who liked or were interested in Rainbow Rowell’s Landine, married folk because it’s super relatable (even if it you AREN’T married it’s great)

a8I highly recommend After I Do and I can’t wait to pick up Taylor Jenkins Reid’s debut novel next. I loved this story and how I connected to it and the characters. It was definitely a book I NEEDED to read and hit me right in the heart with how it dealt with the complicated nature of love and marriage. As I approach my 2 year marriage anniversary, this was just the right book for me at the right time.

 

review-on-post-it

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
* If you haven’t read it, is it something on your radar or that you think you will read?
* DID YOU WEEP AT THE ENDING IF YOU READ THIS BOOK??
* Married ladies, did this one hit ya right in the feels?


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Serendipity by Carly Phillips | Book Review

Serendipity by Carly Phillips  | Book ReviewSerendipity by Carly Phillips
Published by Berkley on 2011
Genres: Adult Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
two-stars

 

 

 

 

Ethan and Faith had a moment in high school but it never went anywhere. Now, many years later, they both are back in town and are in very different situations than they used to be. Faith’s father was brought down after swindling a lot of people out of money and Faith’s family’s fall from grace and wealth has her starting over but the people in the town don’t make that easy. Ethan has become incredibly successful and he’s back to redeem himself to his brothers who definitely are NOT happy to see him. Ethan and Faith reconnect as they both are looking to rebuild themselves in the town that knows all their history but their connection threatens to unravel what they are trying to rebuild.

Hmmm. I was doing so well with romp through the adult romance genre thus far until this one. Betty and I decided to read it together (check out her thoughts) and I probably would have put it down had it not been for that. At least we had some SUPER entertaining texts about it? Even though the cover, in all its Pepto Bismol glory, looked a bit cheesy I had HOPED it would in fact contain a romance that would make me swoon or at least make me throw my panties in the aiiiiir like I just don’t care? I mean there WAS a man on a motorcycle on the cover. But alas, Serendipity did not. It got a little better in the end, when I just kind of ignored those things, but overall I just thought it was okay.

The romance didn’t do anything for me. At all. And it’s a romance novel so it should probably make me feel something, yeah? It really didn’t. It was rather bland for me and just never made me FEEL anything. I liked the idea of it — the rich girl whose family falls from grace and she has to start over and the boy that screwed up and has no climbed his way up and is looking for redemption. Throw in the fact that they had unfinished business from high school and it sounds like a killer plot! I really liked it in theory but I just never FELT anything about it for the most part. It had its moments but overall the romance was a tad cheesy and not my thing. Just glancing on Goodreads I seem to be in the HUGE minority but that’s how I felt.

There was an interesting thread introduced into the story that actually was quite refreshing and heartwarming once I got over how eyerolly the circumstance was. That was the thread of the story that was most interesting to me and kept me from not putting it down. Ethan’s sister, who he didn’t know he had, is introduced into the story and it was SUCH a good storyline but the WAY she was introduced annoyed me — so unbelievable. I really enjoyed Tess’s storyline — she was rebellious and seemingly bratty and was getting into a lot of trouble. I loved her relationship with EVERYONE pretty much. Tess and Ethan especially. The video game scene. THE BEST. I loved how Faith and Tess bond. And I found it HILARIOUS how Tess interacts with the other brothers. Tess was, by far and away, the best part of this book.

The ending kind of bothered me — yeah, it wrapped up, but it did so rather abruptly and really shifted into the perspective for the next novel — one of Ethan’s brothers. It was a little awkward to me. I won’t be running to pick up the next book but I may pick up another in the series just to see if it was in fact this romance itself or if perhaps I’m not into this author’s books. I may try another one of her books outside of this series just for good measure but we will see!

Serendipity was a bit lackluster for me — I loved the idea of the romance presented but it never quite made me feel anything. I didn’t fall for Ethan like Faith, and most other readers, seemed to. I liked his story and I liked Faith’s story but their romance never clicked for me and plus sometimes it was uber cheesy. The Tess storyline that was woven in was the redeeming aspect of this book for me, despite how ridiculous her entry into the story seemed to me, and kept me reading. This book was just okay for me. It has a very high rating on Goodreads so maybe more seasoned romance readers loved it and maybe you will too — it just was not my favorite.

Serendipity by Carly Phillps

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Have you heard of it? What did you think if you’ve read it? Have you read any of her other books that maybe I’d like better? I’m really curious about the rest of the series but the next book features the brother I didn’t like.

name

two-stars

Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis | Book Review

Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis | Book ReviewSimply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis
Series: Lucky Harbor #1
Published by Forever on 2010
Genres: Adult Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads
three-half-stars

 

 

 

Maddie has just broken up with her boyfriend and lost her job and she’s had it. She’s ready to leave and she does — she heads to the town of Lucky Harbor, a town on the coast of Washington, and deals with the inheritance her mother left she and her half-sisters. When they arrive in Lucky Harbor, after not seeing each other for years, they find out what they have inherited is an inn that is nearly falling apart. Maddie has nothing to lose at this point and sees a new start for herself in Lucky Harbor if she could fix the inn up but her halfsisters just want to sell the inn and be done with it and get back to their lives. She knows it will be a hard sell because the inn is a mess but she tries to persuade them to be a part of this with her. When she hires a contractor to help fix up the inn, she doesn’t realize he comes in the form of the completely hot guy she ran into on her first day into town. Having sworn off men, she tries to keep her distance from him but finds that to be impossible with him around all the time.

I read Simply Irresistible as part of my Courting the Romance Genre challenge for myself. It’s a series SO many of my friends have raved about (namely Ginger being the biggest pusher of this series!). You can read my general impression of adult romance and my experience here but I wanted to save specific book details for my review!

The verdict? I really liked Simply Irresistible. I can’t say it was a favorite but it was super fun and enjoyable and a good contemporary romance to help my romance novel adverse self into the genre. It was steamy (this is coming from someone who has never read a single romance novel so I was NOT prepared for the sexytimes because even the steamiest YA didn’t quite compare) but it wasn’t just sex — there was a ton of story and character development in addition to the romance. I liked that a lot because those are the things that I need in a book — as much as I love romance it can’t just be sex for me.

Simply Irresistible was a lot about sisterhood and I loved that. The sister’s (they are half-sisters) aren’t particularly close and they are so different but they come back together after their mother dies and they are trying to settle her affairs. I loved watching them open up to each other and REALLY get to know each other as they also learned more about their mom. They made me laugh, made me tear up a little bit and made me incredibly grateful for my own 3 sisters. I also love the strength they gained from each other — especially Maddie. As much as this story has to do with sisterhood, it also has a lot to do with picking yourself up after things fall apart and things DEFINITELY have fallen apart for Maddie. When she comes to Lucky Harbor she really has nothing left to lose but she ends up gaining a lot that she wouldn’t WANT to lose. Nobody SAVES Maddie at the end of the day but she draws strength from her sister and a certain hottie tottie male — Jax!

So obviously we have to talk about the romance because, well, this IS a romance novel! I really loved the romance from the start — it was so playful and fun! I loved their banter and then the tension just kept rising. I felt it just as much as THEY did for sure. And yeah, there were definitely some sexy times. For sure. But what I loved is that 1) they weren’t crazy graphic because I’m just not sure that’s my thing and 2) not super corny. Sure there were a few lines were I rolled my eyes (lots of mention of pebbled nipples) but overall I just enjoyed the obvious passion between the two combined with their STORIES. That’s what was so great about this book! And Jax, the swoons are off the charts for this man candy!

I’m excited to continue on with the series because Simply Irresistible was a solid read for me and I LOVED the West Coast town of Lucky Harbor. That is one of the biggest things about this book is that Lucky Harbor is a place I want to go visit and Jill Shalvis creates this town vividly — both landscape-wise and with the cast of characters and the places in the town. I kind of love Lucky Harbor in the way I love Stars Hollow and I can see that love intensifying through the series.

Simply Irresistible was a fun romance that was perfect for my first time reading an adult romance. It was certainly steamy (at least for this romance newb) but it also had a great story, characters and setting. I completely fell in love with Lucky Harbor and the great cast of characters and was definitely smitten with Jax and Maddie’s romance — it was playful, fun and passionate. What I loved MOST about this book, even though the romance was wonderful, was the growth between Maddie and her sisters and all the fun, goofy times they had together in the midst of some hard times. It’s good for your soul to watch them heal because of each other. Pebbled nipples aside, really solid book — it didn’t blow my mind or anything but it was super enjoyable if you are looking for a fun romance that balances story and sexytimes. SUBSTANCE. It has it.

***OOHH and Simply Irresistible is currently $2.99 for the Kindle.***

Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? Did you like it or no if you’ve read it? If you’ve read further into the series, which book was your fave? What other contemporary adult romances can you recommend to this newbie?

three-half-stars

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie | Book Review

20130709-165427.jpgBook Title/Author: Arranged by Catherine McKenzie
Publisher/Year
: William Morrow 2012
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance – “Chick Lit/Romantic Comedy”
Series: No
Other Books From Author: Spin, Forgotten, Hidden

Amazon| Goodreads | Twitter |

I got this out from the library!

 

 

 

 

 

Anne Blythe is by all means a successful — she’s in her early 30’s, she’s got a great job as a columnist for a magazine, she’s working on a deal for her book and she’s got a great social circle. The only thing she is missing is that special someone to share her life with. She’s had her share of bad relationships and the latest one ended in her leaving him because he cheated. On her way to start her new life alone she comes across a business card for what appears to be a dating service for when she decides she may be up for dating again. Anne hits rock bottom when her best friend gets engaged and she feels like she is going to be forever alone so she decides to call the dating service and see what happens. What Anne finds is that it is actually a very exclusive service that isn’t there to get you a date but rather to find you a husband — it’s an arranged marriage service that comes with a hefty price tag. She thinks it is absurd at first but after a lot of thought and research she decides to give it a go and soon she’s on her way to Mexico to meet and marry her husband.

I read Arranged by Catherine McKenzie on the beach and it was SUCH a perfect beach read. I originally had her novel Spin as a pick on my Books That Will Be In My Beach Bag list but it came into the library too late so I picked this one up since it was available! It was so FUN and such a deliciously good page turner and I enjoyed every single page!

Arranged is told in 3 parts and I don’t even know which one is my favorite. Part 1 is learning about Anne’s love life and her finding out about this whole process and agreeing to it. I was certainly plenty intrigued about the whole service and how it works though I, like Anne, was very skeptical. Part 2 is Mexico which was equally, if not more,  compelling as she meets her husband. As a reader, I was so eager to see if there would be chemistry between them and how awkward it would be. Part 3 is life AFTER the resort and that is where it gets to be even more of a juicier page-turner.

It was easy for me to feel for Anne. Sure, I met Will when I was 21 but pretty much all my friends were in serious relationships and I was just bouncing around so I always felt like an old maid. I know lots of people in Anne’s position — she’s in her early 30’s, doesn’t have a serious relationship and all her friends are getting married and having kids. It’s hard to feel like you are stuck in a whole other universe while all your friends are “moving on.” I felt that when we were the only unmarried couple in our group. I could feel Anne’s desire for what her friends had — true love — and I love how this story was so honest & funny about the things we do to find love. While most of us probably have not considered  arranged marriages, we’ve all done something or ignored something in our quest for love.

The writing was very accessible and straightforward which was perfect for a beach read and had characters that were easy to relate to but not in an obvious way. I was taken off guard by something that happened in Part 3 (I didn’t read the summary of this book closely) but after that I found that it remained pretty predictable to what I expect like how it is when I’m watching a romantic comedy and I didn’t mind that. I rooted for Anne the whole way through to find her true love and her story, while unconventional, was something I could relate to and loved watching unravel.

Ultimately Arranged was the fun, breezy romantic comedy I had hoped it would be for a beach read but I was really impressed with the smart and honest insights into the ups and downs of finding someone to love and loving– desire, loneliness, being vulnerable, trusting after you’ve been hurt, etc. It satisfied the need for a romantic page-turner filled with some laughs but also tackled the subject of marriage and love in an insightful and honest manner. It was a very unique and unconventional love story and I enjoyed it so much! Definitely recommend if you are looking for a fun romantic comedy or a good beach read!

 

Arranged-Catherine-McKenzie


Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Did you like it, dislike it or feeling mixed about it? Did you see THE BIG THING coming? I just didn’t (but I also didn’t read the summary). Have you read any of her other books?? Which one should I read next? I have Spin from the library now so I’ll probably start there!

 

three-half-stars

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
Three Rivers Press 2001
Buy it here; Read more about it here.

You know how sometimes you read and liked a book but don’t know what to say about it? NOT THIS BOOK!! This is one of those times where I am furiously putting fingers to keys to implore you to FREAKING READ THIS BOOK. I have to because there is only so many times I can tell my fiance that “I EFFING LOVE THIS BOOK!” before he finds me irritating as hell and before I get annoyed that he isn’t taking any action to read this amazing book.

When I bought this series for my sister back in 2008 IN THE ADULT SECTION, after many many people on Goodreads recommended them for lovers of chick-lit, I never thought I’d read them or find them making my way on my sacred favorites list. EVER. I was pretty did not read anything resembling chick-lit at this stage in my life. My suggestion to you if you haven’t read these books: Forget any label you’ve ever heard about these books — chick-lit, YA or Adult fiction — and read them NOW! Experience the hilarity and awesomeness that is Jessica Darling.

Sloppy Firsts, where do I even begin? I read this book in the course of 24 hours and has been one of the only books that I’ve read that managed to make me giggle OUT LOUD every couple of pages. I couldn’t keep it in and I even let out a loud snort which embarrassed my fiance. Truly, Jessica Darling is hilarious, witty and makes astute observations about high school and adolescence that really is quite humorous.

I remember reading Judy Blume when I was younger and felt as though her books were written based on my inner thoughts and life events. Jessica Darling is certainly a voice that will resonate with most women as she gives an authentic voice to all of our past insecurities, firsts, messy relationships and more. There were so many parts in this book that I could relate to and that is what makes Jessica so special. No matter who you were in high school….you can find her easy to relate to. No doubt, Jessica Darling has become one of my all time favorite characters EVER. She’s not perfect at all but she is still so strong and smart and, even though sometimes she falters, she knows who she is! She comes to her realizations realistically and I love that her life doesn’t involve being a skank or thinking she is nobody without a boyfriend. She is like any normal teen who worries about guys, even obsesses over the slightest thing, but she does not live, breathe, nor find her worth in guys. MY KIND OF GIRL.

Oh and Marcus Flutie. I had to fan myself while reading parts that included him. He’s got that sexy confidence going on and I love it. He’s interesting and not cookie cutter. I love that he’s not the most attractive, god-like guy in Jessica’s mind and I love the quirky way in which their relationship progresses. I was pretty much salivating all over my book towards the end when we get to know him more. My only qualms..MORE I WANT MORE. Do realize how god-like Marcus Flutie has become?! I wanted more of him because what we got to know…he’s an intriguing guy and I have so many picture of drool worthy men in my mind. I never thought dreadlocks would be a sexy factor BUT HOT DAYUM…I can just see him with all his dreadlock hottness. With how this book ends, I can’t wait to see what happens between them!

My Final Thought: Whether you like YA or Adult fiction, read this. I don’t know what is ACTUALLY categorized as I have only ever seen it in the adult section but this shouldn’t matter because this book is THAT good if you appreciate genuine coming of age stories that will make you die laughing from the witty, snarky musings of a teenage girl of whom you’ll vicariously relive high school all over again in all of its embarrassing, awkward, confusing glory! One of the greatest romps through adolescence that I’ve ever had. It’s just so realistic (umm hello PARENTS in the picture rather than teenagers running amok) and I found myself cringing, laughing, rolling my eyes, rejoicing and squeeing right along Jessica.

Review On A Post-It:

And if that doesn’t entice you..here are just a SMALL SMALL percentage of the great passages in this book:

“You can only be in a bad mood for so long before you have to face up to the fact that it isn’t a bad mood at all; it’s just your sucky personality.”

“Am I the only creature with a vagina who thinks that weddings are ridiculous? I’m going to elope. Just me, my hubby, and a minister on a beach in Jamaica.”

“Then a lightning bolt shot straight through my skivvies. Sha-ZAM!”

“This is my new hobby. I watch my life depart minute by minute. I anticipate the end of everything and anything — a conversation, a class, track practice, darkness — only to be left with more clock-watching to take its place. I’m continually waiting for something better that never comes. Maybe it would help if I knew what I wanted.”

five-stars
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