Hooked on You by Jenn Matthews

Jenn Matthews’s book Hooked on You by takes you into the world of crochet with a heavy dose of romance. One of our main characters Ollie owns a craft store that offers crochet lessons. This group comes together not only to create scarves and throws but also as a support network for people that need a friendly face. The group finds that in Ollie, a 50+ year old ex-soldier that carries a ton of baggage from her time in the Middle East, her divorce and being a lesbian.

Anna, our other main character decides to find a hobby at the request of her college-aged daughter. Anna spends all of her time working as an English teacher and her kids think she needs something for herself. She decides on crochet and that takes her to Ollie. A woman she just cannot help but be smitten with.

This one was a tough one to nail down when it comes to a rating. First and foremost the book is well written. I thought that Jenn Matthews did a great job with character development and dialogue. The secondary characters add depth to the story and really make it shine. The romance felt authentic like this book could mimic a real-life love story. What holds me back a bit is that the pace was slow. I mean really, really slow and pretty heavy-handed in the crochet department. It almost felt a bit repetitive when it comes to crochet but the romance was written well enough to make up for talks of hooks and stitches.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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The Shape of You by Georgia Beers

I loved Georgia Beers last book. Loved it! This one I was a little more skeptical of. Infidelity is a super duper hard subject for a romance novel. You know going into this book that one of our leading ladies is in a fitness class to prep for her walk down the aisle. Red flag, dangerous waters ahead! Ruh-Roh!

Spencer Thompson is just going through the motions of life. She is unhappy but unmotivated to do anything about it. Not endearing qualities, I must say. When her fiancée tells her she enrolled her in a 12 week, three times a week, bridal boot camp, Spencer is pissed, hurt and annoyed. She internalizes all of her emotion, buys a pair of sneakers and goes to class. Come on Spence, yell a little.

Rebecca McCall is the personal trainer who gets handed the 12-week bridal class after another trainer falls ill with mono. She loathes the creator of this program and is not a huge fan of the concept of the program. No matter what she is stuck with it and it’s five brides-to-be. Rebecca is headstrong, confident and it totally throws her for a loop when she finds out one of the brides, Spencer, was told to take the class by her future wife. Throws her for a loop so much, she asks like a jerk for a third of the book.

Needless to say, Spencer and Rebecca totally get off on the wrong foot. They both think the other is smoking hot but Rebecca cannot get past Spencer being a doormat on taking this class. Therefore, Rebecca is overtly hostile to Spencer and everyone notices. Another endearing quality by a leading lady, yeah not so much.

While the book is good and it holds your attention, there is a spark missing. At times you feel like you’re in Groundhog Day because the majority of the time the two leads interact in a fitness class. Lots of gym talk, lots of she’s off-limits, plank here, a plank there and off to do it again. Plus Spencer is engaged and she is too lethargic and apathetic to stop the train wreck of a marriage. I like Spencer but at times you as the reader wanted her to wake up. I needed more passion, more heat and more qualities to endear the two characters to my heart. It just wasn’t there this time. A good book, I enjoyed it, I am glad I read it, but it is not one I will come back to.

3 out of 5 stars

Into Thin Air by Jeannie Levig

Two things are apparent to me after reading Jeannie Levig’s three novels. 1. She is an absolutely fantastic writer. 2. She is anything but formulaic. Every single one of her books has been good, but all so different. This writer knows how to drawn emotion from her readers.

Infidelity, a hard subject to tackle, right. You want to hate the cheater, you want them to be punished and feel remorse, because, well they suck as a human. You want the cheated to find happiness, to move past her pain and soar to new heights. That’s what have in Into Thin Air, but in a dark, gritty way.

Hannah Lewis and Jordan Webber have been together three years. The high school guidance counselor with all-American good looks with the broody, but kind civil rights lawyer. Sounds great on paper. Here is the caveat. Jordan likes Hannah, but she doesn’t love her. She has a dark side that demands being fed. So while Hannah lives in her happy, self-absorbed bubble, Jordan cheats with every woman she can. She keeps a part of herself removed from Hannah and their easy/fun relationship, she doesn’t feel remorse, she is who she is and she will have what she desires. Sooooo, Jordan is a giant a$$hole. She also vanishes into thin air one morning. Gone!

Nicki Medina is Jordan’s bestie. She is the one person who knows how Jordan really operates. She doesn’t know all of the secrets of Jordan, one can only imagine how many there really are, but she does know more than anyone else. Nicki had pulled away from Hannah and Jordan the couple, not willing to watch the betrayal of a good woman from the sidelines. She comes back into Hannah’s life when Jordan goes missing without a trace.

This story is truly multifaceted. You have the loss of Jordan to Hannah and Nicki and the panic as to what has happened. Was she killed, abducted, has she run away. Where is she, why… This panic state of emotions. You also have the uncovering of absolute betrayal that Hannah is completely blindsided by and the conflicting emotions that come with it.

Hannah and Nicki are bonded by this nightmarish event. They become to rely on each other for strength and support. You feel them changing over time and becoming more than just friend. Leving carefully crafts this relationship and you, as the reader, are absorbed in their slow burn romance.

Where is a$$hat Jordan? That’s where it goes dark and sinister. I’m not going to tell you this part, I will say you wouldn’t wish this on your worst enemy.

I told you it was multifaceted! Leving challenges you with this book. This story is like a pendulum of emotions, so well crafted that you can’t stop even when it gets difficult to read Jordan’s plight. This is a really fantastic book, you haven’t read anything like this one, I promise.

4.25 stars out of 5

To Purchase from Amazon: Into Thin Air

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Becoming You by Michelle Grubb

Emotional whiplash is what Becoming You by Michelle Grubb’s is. Whew! Up, down, all around is what you’re going to get. At times this book is very hard, at times, it tackles some difficult subject matter, infidelity for example, and will keep you on your toes till the very end.

When we first meet Airlie Porter she is traveling from Australia to Ireland to start a new life. No job, no place to live, just headed with her bestie, Hannah on this cross-continent adventure. Uh-uh, nope, that is just cray. Come on girls we need more planning than that is what my control freak mind kept saying. Airlie has just upended her long term relationship with Sam. No matter how nice he was, a totally good guy, Airlie could not help feeling a sense of doom as she closed in on the married life. So she destroyed her relationship and took off with Hannah. Airlie doesn’t know why she feels so much discontent. Until a night in a bar when she meets Rachel does the big clue drop.

Olivia is a married woman who lives in a seaside town a few hours outside of Dublin. Seated next to Airlie and Hannah on the flight back from Australia, she hit it off with the two fellow Aussies and invited them, (they had no lodging remember), to stay with her till they decided to take off for the big city. Olivia and Airlie instantly connect and form a bond that is unlike anything they have ever experienced.

This is where it gets tricky! Airlie’s struggle with her sexuality is very real. you feel her anger, her pain, she is writhing with denial. All I wanted to do was hug her. To make matter infinitely worse the one woman she can see herself with is the most unavailable female on planet Earth. Not to mention, Olivia has neve once given any indication she plays for the lady-loving team.

Well, it’s a romance so you know where this is going to go. This best-friendship turns to something more. This is where we take a hard turn in the book. We go from Airlie’s personal struggle to acceptance and then to one giant seriously messed up seriously destructive relationship. Airlie and Olivia begin an affair after long denying their attraction. Okay, lose the hubby, Olivia. Oh, that would be too easy. Olivia a kind, understanding, sentinel of a woman to Airlie becomes the worst person ever. She became an absolute a$$hole to Airlie and to her husband. The character switch towards the last quarter or the book was pretty daunting.

Overall, this book is quite good. It tackles some difficult subjects and for the most part, does it quite well. I thought the ending was a bit too convenient and didn’t really redeem either of the main characters. With that being said, it is not my favorite from Michelle Grubb, but she is still absolutely on my automatic read list.

 
3 out of 5 stars

To Purchase:Becoming You

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One in the Hand by Caitlin Drake

Birdy Cartwright is a graphic designer for a small printing press. Birdy is fun, easy going, artistic, kind and recently engaged. When the book starts we are introduced to Birdy’s engagement as she is being chastised by her childhood best friend, Saul. You see everyone hates Brooke, Birdy’s new fiance.

Brooke Winters is uber-successful, super attractive and is used to getting her way. Birdy is another piece of the pie she’s determined to get. After waiting years for Birdy to pop the question, Brooke grabs the bull by the horns and takes charge, even though she knows that Birdie has always wanted to do the honors. Once her plan for a fall wedding has been set, let the steamrolling begin.

Sydney Ramos is a newbie to Portland by way of Austin. Planning to just stop in a visit an old college softball teammate as she headed to Seattle she fell in love with the city and its ambiance. Deciding to stay, she gets a job as a screen printer at Birdy’s shop. Hello, new employee! What she didn’t expect to happen was to meet the girl of her dreams, too bad she’s engaged.

So this love triangle is a hot mess. Birdie’s set to marry Brooke, but she doesn’t expect to have those little tingly feelings for her new smoking hot co-worker. So like a moth to a flame she finds a multitude of ways to hang out with Sydney. Does she feel guilty, well yeah, but Birdy and Sydney just can’t help the flirting and longing glances. Sydney is determined to fight for Birdy’s heart, figuring she is pretty much fair game till the white dress and the long aisle. Oh, the tangled wed of emotions.

If you have read Rainbow Cedar by Gerri Hill, you know a love triangle can work to set up an interesting premise, where the couple that walks aways isn’t hated by the reader. This is kind like that but with one major problem. Brooke is set up to be kind of a jerk but you don’t know is she is truly a b**ch with a capital B till the end. Birdie while totally into Sydney, she isn’t 100% over Brooke, yes she’s going through the motions of the wedding but she still loves her. That’s where it gets difficult. Sydney is playing a dangerous game, and you feel for her cause she can’t help herself, you kinda want to slap Birdie in the back of the head and maybe kick her in the shin for dragging Syd along. You also want Syd to get a clue and stop letting her heart get stepped on. Birdie keeps saying no she can’t leave Brooke and what they have but then goes right back to the come-hither looks to Miss Ramos. The vast majority of the book is Birdie being an engaged woman, and she wasn’t trying to get out of it, she was just trying to get over Sydney. When all three characters are at the engagement party and Syd has to watch both Birdie and Brooke make declarations of love to one another, I was pretty much just hoping for Sydney to just bust out her Nike’s run. Save yourself, girl, this is not worth it. Then around the 90% mark, Brooke makes a massive mistake, the straw that broke the camel’s back if you will, and that part while I was glad to see it finally come, I just couldn’t buy that someone so calculating as Brooke was, would ever be so forthcoming.

Technically I thought this was a well-written book. I liked Birdie and Sydney, I just wished the author would have villanized Brooke much earlier and given Birdie a backbone. There needed to be more heart-wrenching emotion from Birdie to really sell her dilemma. You almost got to the point where you wished her demise for being a jellyfish. For this being Caitlin Drake’s first book, I thought she did a dang good job, and I would absolutely read her next one.

3 out of 5 stars

One in the Hand
by Caitlin Drake
Link: http://a.co/7aVNFwX

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Life in Death by M. Ullrich

I’m going to be 100% honest here, I had intended to pass on this book. I adored M. Ullrich’s last book, but when reading the synopsis for Life in Death, I was stuck on the fact that this book would tackle the loss of a child. I cannot imagine the pain that these characters were going to endure, and quite frankly I did not want to even go there. So, I was going to look away, but the enormous amount of positive reviews kept catching my eye, and a few people reached out to me and raved about this book. So I caved, and I read the book, and kept reading, and kept reading some more until it was finished, all in one night.

I will say this book is a gauntlet of emotions. The book begins with a window into a perfect little family, two women who love each other dearly, and their amazing little girl, who rightfully so, it the light of their lives. You know it’s’ coming, like the shark in Jaws, you can feel the foreboding, the shoe is about to drop. Abigail the daughter of Marty and Suzanne has cancer, and she will lose her battle with the awful disease. A life cut way too short, and her parent’s relationship fractured beyond belief.

This book is a roller coaster of emotions, you will feel your heart break right along Marty and Suzanne. The pain at times is palatable, tears streaming down your face as you feverishly read, totally engrossed in the story. Is it good? Oh my goodness yes, this book is very good. Life in Death takes you on a road of telling the past, mixed in with the present. You see how Marty and Suzanne found each other, and why they broke. You cheer for their road back together, knowing all the while these two will never be whole without the other. This one will stay with you long after the last chapter. A fantastic read, I do recommend waterproof mascara and tissues! My only real criticism, the ending was a touch too short.

4 out of 5 stars

I was given this book by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Life in Death
by M. Ullrich
Link: https://amzn.com/1626397732

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Flinging It by G. Benson

A gauntlet of emotions! A gantlet of emotions is the best way I can describe of Flinging It by G. Benson. This book is witty, angsty and also so incredibly genuine.  There were times I wanted to shake the main characters and then I would then the next page and want to give them a ginormous hug. Oh the emotional roller coaster how I love you and hate you all the same.

Frazer is a midwife in Perth, the head of Midwifery to be exact. She is beyond dedicated to her job. She spends her days and nights delivering babies or suffering through mind numbing hospital administrative meetings. Work, work and more work. No dates, little fun, just babies, babies, meting and back to babies. Frazer has spent all of her free time developing a program for at-rick parents and reaching out to them through the hospital and mentors to guide them through the pregnancy, birth and trying months after. This do-gooder needs help and a fresh set of eyes, so she turns to an unlikely source Cora, the head of the social work program at Frazer’s hospital.

Cora the head of social work for the hospital spends her day guiding people through the hospital system. While she is a co-worker of Frazer’s these two never speak, some hostility may be in part because Cora happens to be married to their boss, Alec. Alec is a first rate douche bag by the way, he emotionally abuses his wife to the point she is just a shell of her former gregarious self. As Cora and Frazer move forward with the mentoring program they develop an amazing friendship, and after one night of way too much booze the fall into bed.

This book pulls at your heart. While you know that the affair is oh so wrong, you also see that it is a lifeline of sorts for Cora. This is a woman that something to empower her and give strength, even if it’s wrongly through an affair. While her husband is a first rate prick (that’s being kind), and she should be running for the hills, she is terrified of disappointing everyone. Alec has stripped her down to nothing, so when Frazer comes along and becomes her friend, her ally and even her lover she has a renewed since of self. Does this have morality issues? Sure, but know that it is very evident that this marriage is on the flimsiest of last legs. Infidelity is a big no-no for me most of the times, but in this case it did not give me much pause.  Both women know that this affair is wrong, but it’s hard to stop when it’s the only time you find any since of happiness. Frazer and Cora have magnetism to each other. Their interactions are delightful, fun, sometimes really sexy.

4.25 out of 5 stars

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Does She Love You? by Rachel Spangler

Whew, I just finished Does She Love You? by Rachel Spangler. This book will take you for a ride on an emotional roller coaster. I felt sadness, oh the sadness. Then happiness, yay, I love happy feelings. Oh but the one emotion that stuck with me, hatred! Not for the book, no worries there, the book is damn good. No the hatred is for one character that I am 100% sure was an offspring of Lucifer. I’m being overly dramatic, yes, but let me explain and you can join in on the emotional roller-coaster that is Does She Love You?

So there are three main characters to this book, Nic, Annabelle and Davis. Nic is married to Annabelle. 13 years of wedded bliss for the couple, or so Annabelle thinks. They have it all, a large house in Athens, Georgia, a country club membership, and a loving marriage to boot. Annabelle, a former debutante, quit her job years ago to be the stay at home wife Nic wanted her to be. Annabelle does everything she can to be the wife Nic needs. She spoils her, helps her navigate the upper crust society of Athens and Annabelle also supports Nic in her drive to be the very best at her career. Annabelle is and has always has been the guiding force to Nic’s success. They only problem is Nic has become bored with her life, and frightened at giving Annabelle her true dream, to become a mother.

So what does the competitive, successful Nic do? She finds an unsuspecting lover on her weekly trips to Atlanta. Enter Davis. Davis is spunky, fierce and full of passion. She has a sassy way to her that captivates Nic. So after a few well-placed lies here and there, Nic has herself both an amazing sexy girlfriend and a beautiful supportive wife. This horrible little prick really thought she could have it both. She believed she was making them both so happy, so what is the harm in her deception. I told you hate was on this roller coaster. I HATED Nic! I wanted to slap the daylights out of her, squirt her with maple syrup and then release the fire ants on the evil hussy. That kind of HATE! (I promise I am not normally a violent person, pinkies swear 🙂

I felt so much sadness for Annabelle and Davis. These two amazing women were duped by a master manipulator. They gave their trust, their hearts and their bodies to Lucifer’s spawn. I literally jumped for joy when Nic got busted and the truth came pouring out.
By this point I’m wondering where the romance to this book is going to come into play. Surely Nic is out of the equation right? If not this book would be set aflame, (not literally cause I tend to read on my phone and that would be ludicrous but you get the point). Have no fear where there is a will there is a way!

So, a friendship of pain is forged between the cheated, Annabelle and Davis. They bond over their misfortune and help heal the wounds that the Devil’s baby, Nic, created. These two found strength in each other and discovered after much soul searching how Nic had been holding them back from their true nature. Annabelle was tired of being someone’s trophy and Davis was more than just someone’s between the sheets playmate. Lastly their friendship turns into something more, even though the odds are against them. So freaking sweet and abounding with happiness!

How the Rachel Spangler wraps this story up is excellent. The range of emotions is vast but the ending, oh well that is the best part! A great book is one that wraps you up in it, one that makes you feel real emotions. Rachel Spangler delivers in spades with this one. I cannot believe that it has taken me this long to read this book!

5 out of 5 stars

Does She Love You?
by Rachel Spangler
Link: http://amzn.com/B00DYTHXZO

Threads of the Heart by Jeannie Levig

Threads of the Heart by Jeannie Levig is a multilayered novel that follows the lives of five women who happen to share the same residence.  This is a story that involves a lot of moving pieces that are well crafted to give you not only an entertaining read, but a thought provoking one as well.

Maggie and Addison are partners who have been together over a decade. They live in a three story, beautiful home in the Hollywood Hills. Over the years they have taken in a handful of women and given them a place to live. Maggie is a fiery, Irish mother figure to her inhabitants. She cares for everyone, and spends much of her time nurturing her younger friends. Her lover Addison is going through a period of strife.  Maggie sees this, but cannot for the life of her bring it to the forefront. Addison feels restless and dissatisfied with her life. She cannot pinpoint when it all began to unravel, but she is no longer happy with the status quo of her relationship with Maggie.

Tess is a widowed college professor. She has spent the last three years living with Maggie and Addison. Her life was shattered when a car accident took the life of her partner. She has only now begun to recover and put her life back on track.

Dusty is the player of the group. She has a revolving door of women, and is well known around town if you get what I mean. Dusty has only begun to wish for more in relationship, the one stand has begun to lose its luster.

Eve is married with two young sons. Her marriage to her husband is basically over. She moves in with Maggie and the others to try to understand where her life is headed and how to begin her life over while accepting to her own self that she likes women.

The house serves as a touchstone to these women. They are all at different places in their lives, but they always know they are wanted and safe in this home. Leving does a good job of making you invest in each character. There are times I wanted to give one of the five a hug, and other times a swift and painful kick to the shin. This book deals with some very strong issues including coming out, the death of a partner and infidelity. For me the infidelity was specifically hard to read for a variety of reasons. I continue to vacillate if the betrayal is a personal issue for me or if how it was handled by the characters is what I have a problem with.  I felt more rage at the cheater than the woman who was cheated on.   My personal opinion is that it was glossed over a little too much for me. I do not think I personally could bounce back easily if my loved one decided to use our home for a tryst. This is just my opinion though. With that being said, bravo to Leving for bringing this issue to the forefront and giving me characters that I actually cared how they reacted.

Overall, Threads of the Heart is an enjoyable, entertaining novel. I have to say I was surprised to realize that this is the author’s debut novel. I will definitely be looking forward to reading more by her.

4 out of 5 stars

Threads of the Heart
by Jeannie Levig
Link: http://amzn.com/B00ZS4GJJY

Note: I was given this book by the author, Jeannie Leving, in exchange for an honest review.