ARC Review: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: June 7th 2016
Links: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

From the author of Maybe in Another Life—named a People Magazine pick and a “Best Book of the Summer” by Glamour and USA TODAY—comes a breathtaking new love story about a woman unexpectedly forced to choose between the husband she has long thought dead and the fiancé who has finally brought her back to life.

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

I’m a little bummed right now because I really, really wanted to love this one more. One True Loves sounded absolutely amazing, and I hadn’t read Taylor Jenkins Reid before, but I’d heard great things about her books. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t connect well enough with the story and characters. It was as if I was reading this book from a distance – watching everything happen, but not emotionally connecting with anything. It sucks! I didn’t hate this book, but I didn’t really love it either, so it ended up being an okay read. The writing is stunning though, and I am more than likely to pick up another book of the author’s just for the writing.

Years ago, Emma’s high school sweetheart-turned-husband went missing while flying over the Pacific for a job. She and Jesse hadn’t even made it one year in their marriage before everything fell apart and Emma lost the love of her life. Now, in her thirties, she’s been able to pick herself up and move on. She reunites with an old friend, Sam, who contributes a big part to her healing and moving on, and she eventually falls in love with him. Now engaged to the new love of her life, Emma is finally happy again… until she receives a phone call telling her that Jesse is alive. The past and present collide as her old love and new want her to choose what life she wants to live, and with whom. But how can she choose between two loves and two lives? Is there such thing as only ONE true love?

By loving the two of them, I am no longer sure about either. And by being unsure, I might just lose them both.
Romantic love is a beautiful thing under the right circumstances. But those circumstances are so specific and rare, aren’t they?
It’s rare that you love the person who loves you, that you love only the person who loves only you. Otherwise, somebody’s heartbroken.
But I guess that’s why true love is so alluring in the first place. It’s hard to find and hold on to, like all beautiful things. Like gold, saffron, or aurora borealis.

The premise of One True Loves hooked me in, I’ll admit. I was dying to see how things would play out, who Emma would choose. Sadly, the way the story was organized really put me off. We are told the stories of two completely different relationships at different times in Emma’s life in a normal-sized book, and the length of the separate romances wasn’t long or developed enough for me to connect with. I never loved Jesse, I never loved Sam, so I didn’t really care about who Emma would choose in the end. Maybe if the book were longer, I’d be able to connect with the men more, but throughout the book, I never really became invested in any of the romance.

It breaks my heart to be loved like this, to be loved so purely that I’m capable of breaking a heart.

I also got annoyed at the choices Emma made during her hesitation about who to choose. I was a little disgusted at how she went from Jesse to Sam, then Sam to Jesse, and then all over again, without caring about how they feel. She constantly hurts these two men who would do anything for her, and I just couldn’t like a heroine who knows she’s hurting the men she loves, and does it anyway. And in the end, things wrapped up too neatly and nicely – I’m happy with who she chose, but I would’ve really liked to see Emma work to deserve the love of the man she ended up with.

TJR’s writing, however, is phenomenal. A little formal, yes, but it’s a unique style and very different from what I’m used to reading. I just wish she’d structured the story in a better way that could’ve made me connect more. The moral of the book though, comes across very, very well, and I appreciated that there was a deeper meaning to OTL than just a simple love triangle. Overall, this book just didn’t work that well for me, but others might enjoy it more than I did!

3 hearts

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.

Also by Taylor Jenkins Reid


Maybe in Another Life: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
After I Do: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
Forever, Interrupted: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads


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Review: November 9 by Colleen Hoover

November Nine by Colleen Hoover

November 9 by Colleen Hoover
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: November 10th 2015
Links: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads

Beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover returns with an unforgettable love story between a writer and his unexpected muse.

Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.

Can Ben’s relationship with Fallon—and simultaneously his novel—be considered a love story if it ends in heartbreak?

My life is a legit mess right now. I feel like this happens every time I read a new Colleen Hoover book, so I shouldn’t be surprised. I finish a CoHo book, and I don’t even know what to do with myself anymore. She put me through the wringer with November 9, she really did. This for sure is one of my top reads of the year now. It’s a beautifully written story, gut-wrenching at times, but it’s also the cutest darn book I’ve ever read. November 9 has everything I love in a CoHo book – a unique storyline, lovable, unforgettable characters, and laugh-out-loud humor. I’m amazed that over and over, Colleen Hoover delivers another captivating read that will blow her readers away. I was stunned by November 9 – and I loved it so, so much!

“You’ll never be able to find yourself if you’re lost in someone else.”

For some reason, it’s always best to go in blind when you pick up a book by Colleen Hoover. It’s like when you put faith in CoHo, you know she’ll deliver her best. And you can tell she’s delivered her best with November 9 – it’s truly a brilliant book. She’s created characters who’ve spent mere hours together over the course of several years, and yet you can FEEL the powerful connection and love they have for each other. I’ll be honest, I was a bit wary I wouldn’t be able to believe in the love between Fallon and Ben – falling in love when you’ve only known each other for hours sounds unbelievable, right? But I believed it – Colleen Hoover’s exceptional writing and storytelling made me believe in it.

He laughs quietly. “You were just thinking dirty thoughts.”
“Was not,” I quip.
“Fallon, we’ve been dating for two hours now. I can read you like a book, and right now I do believe that book is full of erotica.”

Hands down, November 9 is the CUTEST book of Colleen Hoover’s to date. I was a giggling mess during the first half of the book – though honestly, I still had a couple of giggles even during the heart-wrenching parts, because I feel like that’s just the way Colleen Hoover writes. The humor in the book is absolutely brilliant and effortlessly incorporated. I don’t understand how CoHo is able to create such funny characters, but I love it! Ben is absolutely ridiculous, in the cutest, funniest, most adorable way. And Fallon’s sass and wit is the perfect complement to Ben’s type of humor. I fell in love with these characters first because of how funny they were, but as I read, I definitely grew to appreciate their other aspects that made them feel real to me.

It took four years for me to fall in love with him.
It only took four pages to stop.

But don’t let the humor fool you – to say that November 9 is a gut-wrenching story is an understatement. It almost hurt to read the heartbreaking moments, that’s how emotional I got. I’m so impressed with the way Colleen Hoover is able to provoke such powerful emotions through her words, to make me so invested in the story that I hurt when the characters hurt. This is the type of book that will have you feeling practically every emotion there is to feel… it’s brilliant!

A body is simply a package for the true gifts inside. And you are full of gifts. Selflessness, kindness, compassion. All the things that matter.

I was up until 2AM reading and finishing November 9 – I LOVED IT SO MUCH! I will admit that the plot twist was fairly predictable – but while I was able to guess what happened, I definitely wasn’t ready for the onslaught of emotions this book would make me feel. Colleen Hoover has a gift at making readers invested in her stories, and November 9 is no different. This book wrecked me, in the best and worst of ways. This is also the first time a book has ever make me cry tears of joy – I was crying and laughing and smiling as I was reading the last lines of the novel. This is a breathtaking, emotional, incredible read that I’d recommend to everyone.

5 hearts

Also by Colleen Hoover

Slammed by Colleen Hoover Hopeless by Colleen Hoover Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover
Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover Confess by Colleen Hoover It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Slammed: Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
Hopeless: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
Maybe Someday: My ReviewEbook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
Ugly Love: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
Confess: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
It Ends with Us: My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads


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Early Review: Surviving Ice by K.A. Tucker

Surviving Ice by K.A. Tucker

Surviving Ice by K.A. Tucker
Series: Burying Water #4 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: October 27th 2015
Links: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

The USA TODAY bestselling author of the Ten Tiny Breaths series and Burying Water—which Kirkus Reviews called “a sexy, romantic, gangster-tinged page-turner”—returns with a new novel packed with romance, plot twists, and psychological suspense.

Ivy Lee, a talented tattoo artist who spent the early part of her twenties on the move, is looking for a place to call home. She thinks she might have finally found it working in her uncle’s tattoo shop in San Francisco. But all that changes when a robbery turns deadly, compelling her to pack up her things yet again.

When they need the best, they call him. That’s why Sebastian Riker is back in California, cleaning up the mess made after a tattoo shop owner with a penchant for blackmail got himself shot. But it’s impossible to get the answers he needs from a dead body, leaving him to look elsewhere. Namely, to the twenty-something-year-old niece who believes this was a random attack. Who needs to keep believing that until Sebastian finds what he’s searching for.

Ivy has one foot out of San Francisco when a chance encounter with a stranger stalls her departure. She’s always been drawn to intense men, so it’s no wonder that she now finds a reason to stay after all, quickly intoxicated by his dark smile, his intimidating strength, and his quiet control.

That is, until Ivy discovers that their encounter was no accident—and that their attraction could be her undoing.

I’m such a big fan of K.A. Tucker’s Burying Water series, because each book I’ve read I have enjoyed so much. Surviving Ice is another solid, entertaining addition to the series – I think it might be my new favorite! I highly enjoyed Ivy and Sebastian characters, who are much different than the series’ previous characters. They are unique and refreshing, and I was addicted to their story from the start. Fans of the series won’t want to miss this intense, romantic tale between an edgy tattoo artist and a former Navy SEAL with a secret.

Ivy is a nomad at heart, never able to settle in one place for long. But for now, she’s in San Francisco, where her beloved uncle lives with his tattoo shop. She’s actually thinking about staying in SF for longer than the norm, until her uncle gets murdered – and she’s the only witness. In between having to deal with her grief and the tattoo shop that now belongs to her, she unknowingly becomes a target to a dangerous organization who wants to take her out.

I would become a reaper of sorts, delivering an end to those who needed it.
Without medals, without fanfare, but with quiet honor.

I kind of dig books whose main character is hiding his/her identity, and in the case of Surviving Ice, Sebastian – also known as Ice – is hiding one hell of an identity. A former SEAL and a mercenary, Sebastian has incredible skills he uses on targets when his employer sends him off on a mission. And his next mission is to find a missing tape that could incriminate his employer, and the only connection to that tape goes by the name of Ivy Lee.

I honestly couldn’t put this book down. K.A. Tucker has a way with words that kept me hooked onto each page. She’s created incredible characters in Ivy and Sebastian, who couldn’t be more perfect together. Ivy is a sassy, strong, badass chick I admired. Sebastian is the calm and quiet kind of hero, though his character is tinged with mystery and danger. I loved how the two of them form a connection through a seven-hour long tattoo session, despite the fact that Sebastian enters Ivy’s life with a false identity. Ivy is supposed to be Sebastian’s target, but what happens when he starts falling for her, and vice versa?

Who are you, really, Sebastian?
Besides the stranger who strolled in and seized my heart?

The romance between Ivy and Sebastian developed so naturally, I applaud the author for being able to make me root for them despite the lies. And I loved how K.A. Tucker was able to weave the suspense perfectly well within the romance. The suspense is heart-pounding and nail-biting, with enough action throughout the book to keep me satisfied and never bored.

A seamless mix of romance and suspense, Surviving Ice is a brilliant NA novel not to be missed.

4 hearts

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.

Reading Order: Burying Water series

Burying Water by K.A. Tucker Becoming Rain by K.A. Tucker Chasing River by K.A. Tucker Surviving Ice by K.A. Tucker

#1 ~ Burying Water: My Review • EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Becoming Rain: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#3 ~ Chasing River: My Review • EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#4 ~ Surviving Ice: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads (Oct. 27, 2015)


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Release Day Review: Before We Were Strangers by Renée Carlino

Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino

Before We Were Strangers by Renée Carlino
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: August 18th 2015
Links: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

From the USA TODAY bestselling author of Sweet Thing and Nowhere But Here comes a love story about a Craigslist “missed connection” post that gives two people a second chance at love fifteen years after they were separated in New York City.

To the Green-eyed Lovebird:

We met fifteen years ago, almost to the day, when I moved my stuff into the NYU dorm room next to yours at Senior House.

You called us fast friends. I like to think it was more.

We lived on nothing but the excitement of finding ourselves through music (you were obsessed with Jeff Buckley), photography (I couldn’t stop taking pictures of you), hanging out in Washington Square Park, and all the weird things we did to make money. I learned more about myself that year than any other.

Yet, somehow, it all fell apart. We lost touch the summer after graduation when I went to South America to work for National Geographic. When I came back, you were gone. A part of me still wonders if I pushed you too hard after the wedding…

I didn’t see you again until a month ago. It was a Wednesday. You were rocking back on your heels, balancing on that thick yellow line that runs along the subway platform, waiting for the F train. I didn’t know it was you until it was too late, and then you were gone. Again. You said my name; I saw it on your lips. I tried to will the train to stop, just so I could say hello.

After seeing you, all of the youthful feelings and memories came flooding back to me, and now I’ve spent the better part of a month wondering what your life is like. I might be totally out of my mind, but would you like to get a drink with me and catch up on the last decade and a half?


There are so, SO many amazing reviews for Before We Were Strangers, but I’m floundering on what to think about it. I loved some aspects of the book, but my overall feel for the book is that it was only… okay. I was expecting something sweepingly romantic (second chance romances are my favorite kind of books) and pretty epic, but what I got disappointed me. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad read – like I said, there were things about the book that I enjoyed very much, but there were also plenty that I couldn’t enjoy. I really, really wish I could have loved this book more, since so many people seem to love it, but this missed the mark for me.

After seeing you, all of the youthful feelings and memories came flooding back to me, and now I’ve spent the better part of a month wondering what your life is like. I might be totally out of my mind, but would you like to get a drink with me and catch up on the last decade and a half?

I absolutely LOVED the idea of Before We Were Strangers – a chance encounter with a first love you lost touch with for fifteen years, only to meet up again because of a Craigslist ad? YES PLEASE! I thought the premise was so unique and sweet – I expected to fall so hard for this second chance romance, and I did enjoy it in the beginning. It starts off with Matt seeing Grace for the first time in fifteen years and meeting her eyes just as she’s pulling away on the subway. It takes him a while and some courage before he puts up a Craigslist ad for Grace asking her to reach out to him.

I felt it for Grace before I even had a name for it. I might have said the word a million times, but it sounded different now that I meant it. When I thought about what we had, it didn’t matter that it was just friendship. I loved her.

Unfortunately, what brought the book down for me was the big chunk of the book that is set in the past, fifteen years ago. Here, we meet college Matt and Grace – who I greatly disliked. I honestly couldn’t connect with them – their personalities in college were so not what I was expecting, and they clashed with what I thought about them in the present. I felt so disconnected from them and their story, and I just wasn’t invested in their budding romance. College Grace and Matt sometimes came across as irritating, much to my disappointment. The main reason for this was the writing – it was very, very flat. All tell and no show. It’s the kind of writing that’s too simple, with short sentences, and feels slightly choppy. This is the first book I’ve read by Renée Carline so I didn’t know what to expect, but I was disappointed with the writing in Before We Were Strangers. If the writing in this is similar to the writing in her other books, I’m not sure I’d be able to read them. An author’s writing greatly influences the way I perceive a novel, and flat writing means flat characters to me.

Also, the reason why Grace and Matt fell apart for fifteen years was such a disappointment. I wanted a solid reason that would break my heart, but it was only a miscommunication that could have easily been solved that broke them apart.

Time passes, life goes on, places change, people change. And still, I couldn’t get Grace off my mind after seeing her in the subway. Fifteen years is too long to be holding on to a few heart-pounding moments from college.

I do want to point out some things that I actually really liked about this book. After the large two-thirds of the story that is set in the past, we go back to the present, when Matt and Grace reunite. So many things have changed in those fifteen years for them, but the one constant is their love for one another. This last third of the book is definitely the more enjoyable part. I loved the touching way Grace and Matt reconnected, how their love endured so strong and for so long. My heart finally felt SOMETHING for these two characters. If the book had been set mostly in the present, I think I would have enjoyed Before We Were Strangers so much more.

As much as I hoped to fall in love with this, I couldn’t get past the surprisingly mediocre writing and I didn’t connect with the characters. I expected so much more, but I’m probably in the minority for not loving Before We Were Strangers. It was only an okay read for me – it didn’t wow me, most of the book didn’t make me FEEL, and I had too high expectations that weren’t met.

3 hearts

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.

Also by Renée Carlino

Sweet Thing by Renee Carlino Nowhere but Here by Renée Carlino After the Rain by Renée Carlino 

Sweet Thing: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
Nowhere But Here: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
After the Rain: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
Swear on This Life: My Review • EbookPaperbackGoodreads


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ARC Review: Chasing River by K.A. Tucker

Chasing River by K.A. Tucker

Chasing River by K.A. Tucker
Series: Burying Water #3 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: July 7th 2015
Links: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Armed with two years’ worth of savings and the need to experience life outside the bubble of her Oregon small town, twenty-five-year old Amber Welles is prepared for anything. Except dying in Dublin.  Had it not been for the bravery of a stranger, she might have. But he takes off before she has the chance to offer her gratitude.

Twenty-four-year-old River Delaney is rattled. No one was supposed to get hurt. But then that American tourist showed up. He couldn’t let her die, but he also couldn’t risk being identified at the scene—so, he ran. Back to his everyday life of running his family’s pub.  Only, everyday life is getting more and more complicated, thanks to his brother, Aengus, and his criminal associations. When the American girl tracks River down, he quickly realizes how much he likes her, how wrong she is for him. And how dangerous it is to have her around. Chasing her off would be the smart move.

Maybe it’s because he saved her life, or maybe it’s because he’s completely different from everything she’s left behind, but Amber finds herself chasing after River Delaney. Amber isn’t the kind of girl to chase after anyone.

And River isn’t the kind of guy she’d want to catch.

This third novel in the Burying Water series is about Amber Welles, Jesse’s younger sister (from Burying Water). This was a really sweet, heartfelt romance that was easily enjoyable. I liked this book quite a bit – maybe not as much as Burying Water, but Chasing River is definitely a book that fans of the series shouldn’t miss. K.A. Tucker’s writing swept me away to the gorgeous country of Ireland (which I swear I will visit one day!), Amber’s latest stop on her trip around the world.

1. Have a torrid affair with a foreigner. Country: TBD.

Amber has lived her whole life in the small town of Sisters, Oregon, but after a broken relationship, nothing’s holding her back from traveling the world. Amber has always been the ‘good girl’, the proper daughter of the town sheriff, but her friend Alex, Jesse’s girlfriend, makes Amber a list of things to do while traveling to bring Amber out of her shell and experience a more exciting and fulfilling life. I really enjoyed Amber’s character – she felt real and I easily connected with her character. And I really liked the way K.A. Tucker brought her and River together – River saves Amber’s life from a terrorist organization bomb.

“So . . . Where’d you meet this guy?”
“At the park one day. He kind of . . . ran into me.” I toy with a coaster to avoid her gaze.
“Sounds romantic.”
“It was, in a way.” If pipe bombs could be called romantic.

River Delaney is somewhat of a bad boy, but with a sweet side and a heart that’s loyal to the people he cares about. He saves Amber from a bomb his older brother plants, not expecting to see the pretty American girl again. But when she appears at the bar his family owns, he knows he wants a chance with her, despite believing that he’s not good enough for her. River shows Amber around Ireland, showing her how important his country means to him. I couldn’t help but fall a little in love with River – he’s Amber’s knight in shining armor, and he’s so sweet and tender towards her. The feelings between River and Amber grow slowly but genuinely. But how can they have a life together when Amber is bound to leave, and they live thousands of miles away?

I want to spend tonight with her, and tomorrow. I want to spend every second with Amber until she leaves.
I don’t want her to leave.
Do I tell her that, though?

There is a lot of political mumbo-jumbo going on within Ireland. River’s brother is part of the IRA, an Irish terrorist organization, and Amber, River, and his family unfortunately get pulled into the political drama. The beginning was a bit confusing when the IRA was introduced, but eventually I got the hang of what was going on. K.A. Tucker includes a note in the beginning of the novel that helped understand Ireland’s politics.

As much as I liked both Amber and River, I just wasn’t as invested in their characters as much as I wanted to be. Everything in this book goes by slowly, including their romance, and sometimes I got bored while reading. This doesn’t mean I didn’t like Chasing River, because I did – it’s a sweet read with fantastic storytelling. I’m definitely a fan of K.A. Tucker’s writing. But I just didn’t connect with the story as much as I wanted to. Still, it’s a satisfying, enjoyable read with likable characters and strong writing. Fans of the series won’t be disappointed with River and Amber’s story.

3.5 hearts

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.

Reading Order: Burying Water series

Burying Water by K.A. Tucker Becoming Rain by K.A. Tucker Chasing River by K.A. Tucker Surviving Ice by K.A. Tucker

#1 ~ Burying Water: My Review • EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Becoming Rain: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#3 ~ Chasing River: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#4 ~ Surviving Ice: My Review • EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads


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