Tuesday, September 29, 2020

To the Lions by Holly Watt

To the Lions
by Holly Watt
Published September 3rd 2019 by Dutton Books

An international thriller featuring a female journalist who stumbles upon a dark conspiracy, and her determination to follow the clues, no matter how far that takes her.

Casey Benedict, star reporter at the Post, has infiltrated the lives and exposed the lies of countless politicians and power players. Using her network of contacts, and her ability to slip into whatever identity suits the situation, Casey is always on the search for the next big story, no matter how much danger this might place her in, or what the cost might be, emotionally.

Tipped off by an overheard conversation at an exclusive London nightclub, she begins to investigate the apparent suicide of a wealthy young British man whose death has left his fiance and family devastated. The young man's death, however, is only the tipping point of a much more sinister and dangerous scandal involving the world's most powerful leaders and magnates--men who are gathering in northern Africa for an extreme and secret hunt. With fellow reporter Miranda and combat veteran Ed by her side, Casey's determined hunt for the truth will take her from the glitz of St. Tropez to the deserts of Libya and on to the very darkest corners of the human mind.

4 Stars

I don't know where to start with this gripping political thriller, it was such an incredible read, but I fear my review will just fall short in describing the talent Holly Watt presents in the pages. Told from the perspective of journalist Casey Benedict, To the Lions follows Casey and her investigative journalist crew as they dive into a story about the influx of migrants, wealthy hedge fund and political leaders, and the depraved desires these men seek to fulfill. A secret hunt, one man's apparent suicide, and a beautiful journalist who knows how to slip into any character for the scoop. To the Lions is a fast-paced read with one horrifying plot and yet I couldn't put it down.

I could feel the power rolling of the wealthy magnates in waves, I could understand how their cracks appeared, how the corruption leaked in like black gas turning them into blood hungry monsters. The public doesn't see it, they don't want to, but Casey wants to get to the bottom of whatever the hunt is. I loved Casey as a character, though she certainly has some holes in her background that would have made the story a 5 star read for me. She's imaginative, driven to a fault, and truly has the best interest of the world at heart. She's an authentic journalist and I so appreciated her perspective. She felt authentic and that lent itself to every character and every situation encountered in this novel. It made the far off lands of Libya and Africa come to life, the desperation of the migrant families was palpable, and the terrifying events felt as though I'd read them in a newspaper and not a novel.

Thought-provoking, intriguing, and far more horrifying than I can put to words, To the Lions is one of those reads that takes current political issues just one step further, to the point of making you question if you can even imagine it. Holly Watt makes it so you can.

Goodreads | Amazon

Always Will by Melanie Jacobson


I am so far behind on my ARC list and TBR list, like hundreds of books behind. I gave myself a goal this year to try to get through some of my pile by reading one old ARC per every new book. I didn't do so great in the beginning of the pandemic, come on we were all just reading all the popular books at that time, but now I can say I am making great progress. A lot aren't my style anymore, some just weren't all that good, but I thought I'd put the four and five star reads up on here for you! A lot of these can be found as Kindle deals, so check them out if they sound good.

Always Will
by Melanie Jacobson
Published October 5th 2015 by Covenant Communications Inc

Handsome twenty-eight-year-old Will Hallerman has finally had enough of the dating world—he's ready to find a wife and settle down. This announcement is catastrophic in Hannah Becker's world. After knowing Will her entire life and adoring him from afar since junior high school, she realizes her chance at love with him is in grave danger. Hannah's problem? To Will, she will never be more than his best friend's little sister. Determined to open his eyes to her charms, Hannah sets out to sabotage Will's wife hunt by placing nightmare dates in his path and taking his search on a wild goose chase. Her plan is risky, but she's willing to take a chance to catch the eye of her soul mate.

Despite her crazy schemes, nothing seems to be working. Hannah can't help but wonder if it's time to set aside this childhood crush—to move on and settle down herself. She's ready for a fresh start with a great guy. If only Will weren't suddenly changing the rules of the game... And how can Hannah move on when Will just won't let her forget? 

5 Stars

Always Will was such a fun, smart romance to read. What do you do when all the girls you've dated just aren't marriage material? You con the system into finding you the right girl. Never mind the fact that the perfect girl for you is right beside you, it can't be her since she's your best friend's sister. Hannah is going to prove Will wrong though, it is her, and she'll do whatever it takes to prove it. From manipulation to some laugh out loud funny date run-ins, Will Hallerman and Hannah are going to figure out, together, what finding the one really takes in Melanie Jacobson's contemporary romance.

I loved Hannah, even if she was super pigheaded at times. She wanted Will to see her as an option so badly, but she played into all the bad dating tips. She wasn't herself, she manipulated, she dated around. Sure, she learned a lot along the way, which made her super relatable, but she certainly broke all the rules in doing so. Her friendship with Will felt so authentic, I could picture them as friends and as the battle to prove him wrong turned up the chemistry was palpable. I cringed alongside them, felt the jealousy when they did, and absolutely lit up as their potential romance finally stepped into play. Hannah's ploy may not have been her best plan, but it made for a great read and a totally perfect brother's best friend romance read.

Always Will was such a great read for me, it was just the right amount of lighthearted romance and truly believable. I found this book so enjoyable that even if it had flaws for me, I already forgot them, because I just had such a good time reading it. I highly recommend this book, especially for my clean romance friends.

Goodreads | Amazon

Thursday, August 27, 2020

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

The Guest List
by Lucy Foley
Published June 2nd 2020 by William Morrow

The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

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5 Stars

Lucy Foley has gifted readers with a classic murder mystery novel, giving Agatha Christie a modern update with a flashy wedding off the coast of Ireland on the secluded Cormorant Island. Told in a whodunit style, The Guest List follows the bride, the plus one, the best man, the wedding planner, and the bridesmaid, along with a few extra added narrators, as the wedding festivities get underway prior to the discovery of a body. Jules expects perfection for her wedding, it has all been coordinated, but when the alcohol flows all plans go with it. 

I could not put this book down, I read it entirely in one sitting, captivated by the eerie, atmospheric setting of the island. I could not wait to find out just what had created the fear in the guests as the power goes out in the wedding tent. The characters had such unique voices, I loved reading their innermost thoughts about the wedding, the bride and groom, one another. Every character has secrets, desires, and motive. We don't know who is dead, we don't know how they died, we don't know who did it, but we know every single person on the island is holding onto something that could drive them to murder.  Taking place over two festive days, Cormorant Island's own haunting history brings out the worst in everyone. 

The Guest List lives up to the hype and then some. None of my predictions were correct and I spent the last 100 pages in shock. I loved that I never guessed the ending, coming up with ideas was half the fun of reading as Lucy Foley threw twist after twist in. This absorbing, edge-of-your-seat read is easily at the top of my list for excellent reads this year. Every character is compelling, the setting is a character in itself, and well, the mystery is just one you'll have to discover for yourself.

The Wedding Date Disaster by Avery Flynn

The Wedding Date Disaster
by Avery Flynn
Published August 25th 2020 by Entangled: Amara

Hadley Donavan can’t believe she has to go home to Nebraska for her sister’s wedding. She’s gonna need a wingman and a whole lot of vodka for this level of family interaction. At least her bestie agreed he’d man up and help. But then instead of her best friend, his evil twin strolls out of the airport.

If you looked up doesn’t-deserve-to-be-that-confident, way-too-hot-for-his-own-good billionaire in the dictionary, you’d find a picture of Will Holt. He’s awful. Horrible. The worst―even if his butt looks phenomenal in those jeans.

Ten times worse? Hadley’s buffer was supposed to be there to keep her away from the million and one family events. But Satan’s spawn just grins and signs them up for every. Single. Thing.

Fine. “Cutthroat” Scrabble? She’s in. She can’t wait to take this guy down a notch. But somewhere between Pictionary and the teasing glint in his eyes, their bickering starts to feel like more than just a game…
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4 Stars

Hadley Donavan’s life isn’t the rosy world she’s been describing to her family, it’s more cramped apartment, low level job, and single-hood. Not willing to give up the charade she has her best friend along for the ride, masked as her boyfriend for the big family wedding back home. Only problem? His evil twin who is convinced she’s money hungry showed up and seems set on making her suffer. Despite how he drives her crazy, something about him keeps tugging at her.

Time flew by as I enjoyed Avery Flynn’s latest romantic comedy. The Wedding Date Disaster is silly and heartwarming, it was a perfect light read for me that made me forget it all for a little while. Hadley and Will are really the perfect match, their bickering even was a form of flirting. I laughed so much, their antics to get back at one another truly revealed their feelings. I also loved that we got an honest portrayal of family, careers, and how much effort it takes to win someone over that you care for.

The Wedding Date Disaster was an instant win for me, it’s another successful laughter inducing read from the queen of rom-com.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan

A Wedding in December
by Sarah Morgan
Published October 31st 2019 by HQN Books

From the USA Today bestselling author of The Christmas Sisters comes this funny, charming and heartwarming all new original Christmas novel. This is Sarah Morgan at her festive best!

In the snowy perfection of Aspen, the White family gathers for youngest daughter Rosie’s whirlwind Christmas wedding. First to arrive are the bride’s parents, Maggie and Nick. Their daughter’s marriage is a milestone they are determined to celebrate wholeheartedly, but they are hiding a huge secret of their own: they are on the brink of divorce. After living apart for the last six months, the last thing they need is to be trapped together in an irresistibly romantic winter wonderland.

Rosie’s older sister, Katie, is also dreading the wedding. Worried that impulsive, sweet-hearted Rosie is making a mistake, Katie is determined to save her sister from herself! If only the irritatingly good-looking best man, Jordan, would stop interfering with her plans…

Bride-to-be Rosie loves her fiancĂ© but is having serious second thoughts. Except everyone has arrived—how can she tell them she’s not sure? As the big day gets closer, and emotions run even higher, this is one White family Christmas none of them will ever forget!

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5 Stars
Maggie is the mother of two charming, smart daughters whom she misses terribly. She spends all year looking forward to spending Christmas at the family's cottage in the UK, especially this year when life has kept them apart and has Maggie and her husband keeping a secret. Her youngest, Rosie, is known to be impulsive, but to request the entire to family to come to Colorado for her wedding with two weeks notice is more than Maggie can handle. Terrified of flying and the truth, Maggie's husband manages to get her aboard a plane for the holidays, where they'll join their eldest, Katie. Katie, too, is harboring a secret, and even worse, isn't really there to attend the wedding, but to ruin it. This Christmas isn't turning out like a White Family Christmas at all, but at least there will be snow.

Funny, heartwarming, and romantic, A Wedding in December is a truly wonderful family-focused read by Sarah Morgan. Christmas is just the backdrop to this cozy read, featuring snowmobile trips, sled dogs, family bickering, and three women who just don't know how to handle their secrets or their emotions. I loved the entire White family, I could relate with Maggie, Katie, and Rosie as they tried to tackle the trip. There's also some fantastic secondary characters that brought the story to life, I could hear the characters unique voices in the dialogue. Each of the women's perspectives told their own story, each tied together perfectly to make a cohesive entertaining book.

A Wedding in December was just the read I needed and I am sure it will be one I revisit as the holidays draw closer. Sarah Morgan gives readers a Hallmark Movie-like read, without the unbelievable plot lines and the overwhelming amount of cheer. I absolutely adored this family-themed novel.
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