The Books My Brain Needed

book recommendations and books to read

 

I’ve mentioned that during my first trimester and a little after that I was having a hard time reading anything. But when I WAS up to reading all I was craving was some light, wonderful fluff. I am a fan of ~fluff~ books and I hate when people act as if they aren’t as good as Other Books. GOOD FLUFFY READING IS IMPORTANT OKAY??

Anyways, my brain was just really craving fun and light books — no matter the genre — but definitely was wanting light and fluffy contemporary romances.  So I figured why don’t I round up some of those books that got me through that misery where I wasn’t quite my self when it came to reading.

They were all so delightful and I’d recommend any of these:

[Keep Reading]

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.

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two-stars

The Duke & I by Julia Quinn | Book Review

The Duke & I by Julia Quinn | Book ReviewThe Duke & I by Julia Quinn
Published by Avon on June 2006
Genres: Adult Historical Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

 

 

 

 

Young Daphne Bridgerton is on her way to becoming an old spinster in her high society circles because she’s not yet married. Her mother is hellbent on finding her a husband but she doesn’t fancy the few suitors she’s had. Simon Bassett, a Duke and an old friend of Daphne’s brother, comes to town and is instantly fawned over by all the society mother’s and their daughters. Both are jaded with the process and come up with a plan that benefits them both — to get into a faux-courtship. It’s a win-win for both of them so Simon can hopefully get a breather from the mom’s wanting him to marry their daughters and will make Daphne more desirable to the men because the Duke is pursuing her and she’ll have more suitors to choose from. As the two get to know each other, Daphne may not be faking her feelings towards the Duke even though he’s made his intentions clear but wants to try to convince him that perhaps they really are the real deal.

My first historical romance and I LOVED IT! I read it as part of my Courting the Adult Romance challenge and I’m so, so happy you guys picked it for me. The Duke and I was so charming and I cannot wait to read more from the Bridgerton family. It was everything I loved about Pride & Prejudice but without more dense language of the time. I don’t think I swooned as hard as I did for during P&P, because I mean Mr. Darcey, but I was smitten. I just love books set in the Regency era — all that prim and proper etiquette, the extravagant balls and high society, the social norms, etc. but desire is still there. LOVE the tension that ensues.

In my general thoughts about my foray into the romance genre, I noted that this one wasn’t as steamy as the Lucky Harbor book (my first read) and honestly I went through more than half the book before there was even so much as a kiss. I love steamy and sexy but I LOVED the tension that just smothered you because of the more modest times in The Duke and I. I think if you are looking for a romance novel filled with super sexy times — this isn’t it. This one is just utterly romantic complete with moments that make your heart pitter patter and swoon in the midst of the obvious tension. There’s sex, yes, but it’s not overwhelming at all.

The Bridgerton family and the sibling dynamics were the kind that you read and remember forever. You feel like you are cozying up with old friends and your heart feels at home. It kind of reminded me of slipping in with the March family from Little Women or a family like that — except some awesome brothers thrown in there. I loved the relationships within the family and how they fiercely loved each other and how they all had their unique individual characteristics that really jumped out at me — rather than just being cardboard siblings. This excites me since the rest of the series focuses on a different Bridgerton sibling!

The most delightful surprise about this novel was how FUNNY it was. I don’t often laugh out loud at books but I actually did with this one. It’s so witty and peppered with humor and it just made it such a feel good read. One of the parts that made me snort laugh unattractively is the first sex scene. OH MY GOODNESS.

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn was so utterly charming and romantic. If you loved Pride & Prejudice or love the Regency era, I highly recommend this if you want an absolutely fun romance novel. There’s so much about this novel that I loved and it made me smile and laugh SO MUCH — the romance, this quirky family, the humor Julia Quinn infuses and that Regency feel. It’s more on the side of swoony rather than steamy though there is a little bit of sex but not at all graphic. Cannot WAIT to read more from this series. I’m restraining myself so I don’t binge read it all.

The Duke & I by Julia Quinn

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What were your overall feelings about it? Did you expect it to be so funny?? I totally didn’t. If you’ve read the series, which book is your favorite? I’m so excited to read more from this family! What other historical romances do you recommend now that I think I am in love?!

four-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

Courting The Adult Romance Genre

One of my bookish New Year’s Resolutions was to read outside of my normal genres and venture in to some areas of literature I’ve barely read. I’ve done a REALLY bad job about it so I decided to be proactive.

So I’m going to start a new series, called “Courting the X Genre”, in which:

1. I will get some recommendations from some trusted friends/experts in the genre and then…
2. YOU, my dear readers, will vote on which read I’ll be tackling first as I court this new genre.
3. I’ll update you on my progress after one book and let you know if I’ll be continue to court this genre!

First up, I’m courting Adult Romance!

 

How many adult romances have I read? NADA. Literally.

Why Am I Adverse To This Genre? The bodice ripper covers scare me and I just didn’t think I would ever get into them. I love romance IN my books (obviouslyyy you know me) BUT straight up romance novels have always scared the bejeezus out of me.

The Experts I Called On:

RomanceExperts

Ginger from GReads!: She’s always been my contemporary YA partner in crime and I trust her advice implicitly so I knew she’d have some great contemporary romance suggestions for me as she has been reading a good amount of them this year! She’s also one of my long time blogging bffs.

Anna from Anna Reads: Anna is one of my bffs as well and is my go to when it comes to good kissing book. She’s one of the most sparkly and awesome people I’ve ever met.

Tara from Fiction Folio: Tara is one of my longtime blogging bffs as well and she is a girl after my own heart with her eclectic reading tastes! She knows her stuff from many different genres so I know I’ll be getting the best of the best!

Julia from The Broke and the Bookish: Julia is one of my co-bloggers over at TBTB and I’ve known her for SO long — like before blogging. We met in a College Students Goodreads group I created in 2008 and she has been the resident romance expert over at TBTB! She also isn’t afraid to crack the whip when I’m being a slacker leader of the blog.

 

grecs

greadsrec1

Ride with Me by Ruthie Knox
Goodreads | Ginger’s Review

Sultry with a Twist by Macy Beckett
Goodreads | Ginger’s Review

How to Kill a Rock Star by Tiffanie DeBartolo
Goodreads | Ginger’s Review

Exclusively Yours (Kowalski Family) by Shannon Stacey [the 3rd book in the series is actually my favorite, Yours to Keep — & the great thing about these books, you can read them out of order & it doesn’t ruin anything]

Star Crossed by Jennifer Echols

 

tararec

tararec1
Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis ( The Lucky Harbor series) — This one was echoed by Ginger as well!
Goodreads | Tara’s Review
Nine Rules To Break When Romancing A Rake by Sarah Maclean (Love by Numbers series) — Anna recommended this as well!
Goodreads | Tara’s Review

annapicsanna rec1

A Night To Surrender by Tessa Dare (Spindle Cove series) “Tessa Dare is also amazing. Lots of girl power and smart heroines in between all the doin’ it. Spindle Cove is a great series from her.”

Wicked In Your Arms by Sophie Jordan:  “For some YA appear, an author we all know and love…Sophie Jordan! April gave me this one and it was fun:

Juliarec

juliarec2

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn (Bridgertons series) ” I really like reccing Julia Quinn to people new to romance. And usually I go with The Duke and I. It has some lighter stuff, but the main meat of the novel is two people falling in love while also having to deal with some personal issues of their own, especially the hero Simon.”

When Beauty Tamed The Beast by Eloisa James: “Beauty and the Beast with some twists.”
Firelight by Kristen Callihan (Darkest London series) “Paranormal wise I LOVED Kristen Callihan’s series. Masked hero, heroine who is a bad ass. Set in Victorian London.”

Final List Of Books To Vote For:

Other genres I’ll be courting this year:

-Fantasy (YA or adult)
-Science fiction (YA or adult)
– Graphic novels (YA or adult)
– Mystery (YA or Adult)
– New Adult (is this a genre…I don’t know…whateverr I’m still doing it)

Feel like you are an expert in one of these genres? (minus fantasy because I already know who I’m asking!) Email me at: jamie at perpetualpageturner (dot) com with 3-4 recommendations and I will randomly pick a few people to be featured. Put your blog link if you have one along with any reviews of the books you recommend! 

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
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