Review: Stealing Taffy by Susan Donovan

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Stealing Taffy by Susan Donovan
Series: Bigler, North Carolina, Book 3
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary Romance Stealing Taffy Cover
ISBN: 9781250008053
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Ten weeks in a swanky Arizona rehab center and Tanyalee Newberry, aka Taffy, is ready to give up everything that isn’t good for her―her forgery habit, taking (i.e., stealing) things that don’t belong to her, and, of course, men. But when her flight home gets rerouted, she finds herself in a hotel room with her smoking-hot travel companion. One night together is all it should have been. But passion is oh-so sweet…

Special Agent Dante Cabrera has been duped at his own love-’em-and-leave-’em game by this so-called Taffy. To forget she ever existed, Dante buries himself in his work…until a case leads him to North Carolina and, impossibly, right back to her. He has no business messing around with this felonious femme fatale, especially one who could be in more danger than she thinks. But Dante also knows there’s more to her than great looks and hot nights―a soul-searching woman who wants amend her past sins. Is he ready to take their desire to the next level…and steal Taffy’s heart?

Return to Bigler, North Carolina and see a former villain become an endearing, slightly daffy heroine in Stealing Taffy. Susan Donovan had an uphill battle turning Tanyalee into a heroine I could like. Tanyalee’s past and her treatment of others (especially her sister, the heroine of Cheri on Top) was despicable and there was no excuse for it. The newly-reformed Tanyalee in Stealing Taffy is a women who doesn’t make excuses for her past and is trying to make amends, and I actually liked her villain-to-heroine arc. The new Tanyalee is a bit out of her depth when she returns to her hometown, and I liked seeing her work on being a better person. Part of her efforts includes mentoring a troubled young girl, Fern. Fern and Tanyalee’s relationship was, for me, the highlight of the book. The two of them gave this book genuine heart and had it just been their respective journeys, I would have adored Stealing Taffy.

Where the story falters is the romance. Dante is an interesting hero with lots of potential, but we never go into depth on any of his issues. Because of this, he felt a bit cardboard, and this was a pity because Ms. Donovan tells us he’s a hero with issues of his own, ones that are passed over in favor of other storylines. Mostly Dante feels like a springboard for other characters (Tanyalee in particular) and plotlines to bounce off of. His relationship with Tanyalee is fluffy and fun, but there’s a real case of missed opportunity. I couldn’t connect with the characters and the romance felt superficial, so I was left wanting more. Stealing Taffy isn’t a bad book – it’s enjoyable, lighthearted entertainment – but the romance is missing heart. With a bit more depth, this book could have gone from ok to great.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Waiting on Wednesday: Playing the Player by Amy Andrews

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine which spotlights eagerly anticipated upcoming releases!

I have a weakness for rugby player heroes and I'm a fan of Amy Andrews's writing, so it's no surprise that my Waiting on Wednesday pick this week is Playing the Player. Playing the Player is the third book in Ms. Andrews's Sydney Smoke Rugby series, and I absolutely adored Playing By Her Rules and Playing It Cool - they're wickedly hot, highly entertaining reads. I can't wait to see what Ms. Andrews has in store for Linc!

Playing the Player Cover Title: Playing the Player
Series: Sydney Smoke Rugby, Book 3
Author: Amy Andrews
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Entangled: Brazen
Release Date: January 30, 2017

Book Description (from Goodreads):

After a long history with crappy guys, high school teacher Em Newman is going man-vegan. Four months of revirginization has opened her eyes to her doormat imitation but, baby’s got spine now, and some smooth-talking—even if he is sinfully hot—rugby player, won’t be adding her as a notch anytime soon.

Lincoln Quinn loves rugby, women, and poker. And he likes to win at all three. When his team mates bet him he can’t break through Em’s resolve, he’s more than up for the challenge. But this lady has a shoebox of stipulations before she’ll even go on a date with him, much less use that mouth for kissing instead of giving orders.

Something’s gotta give but this time Em’s not settling. And Linc’s questioning everything he ever knew about matters of the heart.

Review: Unf*ck Your Habitat by Rachel Hoffman

Monday, January 2, 2017

Unf*ck Your Habitat: You’re Better Than Your Mess by Rachel Hoffman
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Non-Fiction UfYH Cover
ISBN: 9781250102959
Release Date: January 3, 2017
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Finally, a housekeeping and organizational system developed for those of us who’d describe our current living situation as a “f*cking mess” that we’re desperate to fix. Unf*ck Your Habitat is for anyone who has been left behind by traditional aspirational systems. The ones that ignore single people with full-time jobs; people without kids but living with roommates; and people with mental illnesses or physical limitations. Most organizational books are aimed at traditional homemakers, DIYers, and people who seem to have unimaginable amounts of free time. They assume we all iron our sheets, have linen napkins to match our table runners, and can keep plants alive for longer than a week. Basically, they ignore most of us living here in the real world.

Interspersed with lists and challenges, this practical, no-nonsense advice relies on a 20/10 system (20 minutes of cleaning followed by a 10-minute break; no marathon cleaning allowed) to help you develop lifelong habits. It motivates you to embrace a new lifestyle in manageable sections so you can actually start applying the tactics as you progress. For everyone stuck between The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Adulting, this philosophy is decidedly more realistic than aspirational, but the goal is the same: not everyone will have a showcase of a home, but whatever your habitat, you deserve for it to bring you happiness, not stress.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started Unf*ck Your Habitat. I’m someone who adores Marie Kondō’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up but finds it highly impractical for real life. The blurb (and, of course, title) for Unf*ck Your Habitat caught my eye, so I had to give it a try.

Rachel Hoffman has a friendly, no-nonsense writing style that makes her relatable from the start and is sure to set any reader at ease. What sets Unf*ck Your Habitat apart is that Ms. Hoffman recognizes that a large majority of people who are cleaning and organizing their space aren’t traditional homemakers. This book addresses a wide range of people, highlighting issues that arise for single people with full-time jobs, those with roommates, students in dorm rooms, people with mental illness or physical limitations, and so forth. I was impressed by the inclusiveness of this book first and foremost. Ms. Hoffman provides helpful tips for multiple situations and gives ideas on how to talk people should you require assistance. I have never before seen a cleaning/organizational book that addresses such a wide range of people who don’t live in the traditional homemaker model, and I really appreciated it.

Glossy magazine articles and idealized Pinterest home organization pins give the idea of a home that is just not attainable for most people. Ms. Hoffman’s 20/10 system (twenty minutes of cleaning and then a ten minute break) is modifiable for those who need it. Furthermore, her method of cleaning and organizing is one most people can adapt to their needs. In this book, there’s no shame in being overwhelmed and not knowing where to start. Ms. Hoffman’s tips and tricks keep you on-task and prevent you from getting worn out and giving up. All in all, I found Unf*ck Your Habitat to be an interesting, motivational, and – most importantly – practical book for a wide range of people interested in, well, unf*cking their home.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: On Broken Wings by Chanel Cleeton

On Broken Wings by Chanel Cleeton
Series: Wild Aces, Book 3
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance On Broken Wings Cover
ISBN: 9781101987001
Release Date: January 3, 2017
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

A year after losing her husband, Joker, the squadron commander of the Wild Aces, Dani Peterson gets an offer from his best friend, Alex “Easy” Rogers, to help fix up her house. Dani accepts, and their friendship grows—along with an undeniable attraction.

Racked by guilt for loving his best friend’s widow, Easy’s caught between what he wants and can’t have. Until one night everything changes, and the woman who’s always held his heart ends up in his arms. Yet as Easy leaves for his next deployment, he and Dani are torn between their feelings and their loyalty to Joker’s memory.

But when Dani discovers something that sends them both into a spin, the conflicted lovers must overcome the past to navigate a future together…

On Broken Wings is a raw, emotional, utterly breathtaking romance. I’ve been eagerly anticipating Dani and Easy’s book since the first Wild Aces story, Fly with Me, and Chanel Cleeton did not disappoint. I smiled, I cried, and I loved every bit of this book.

I absolutely loved Dani and she just about broke my heart. She’s lost at the beginning of the story, her life shattered not just by the death of her husband or the miscarriage she’d suffered before that, but the way her life has broken apart around her. She was used to being part of a unit, and as a military wife her life was built around Joker’s career. Ms. Cleeton gives a compelling portrait of a widow putting her life back together, of how she handles grief and comes back to life. Dani is so strong, but the weight she carries threatens to crush her even as she works to build a new life. I loved that Dani felt real, that Ms. Cleeton managed to give her grief and struggles weight without dragging down the story. I especially loved watching Dani come back to life and fall in love again. It isn’t an easy to have a romance where the heroine genuinely loved and was loved by a good man and then falls in love a second time. Too often either her first marriage is glossed over or her new love doesn’t feel as powerful. Fortunately, Easy and Dani’s love story is as fantastic as I could have hoped for.

Easy grabbed my heart from the very first Wild Aces book and didn’t let go. He’s a cocky F-16 pilot with an easy charm, lethal sex appeal, and gorgeous looks, but most people don’t look beyond the surface to see the man within. Easy has a heart as big as the ocean and he’s so completely gone over Dani that it broke my heart. Her husband was one of his best friends and Easy never wanted either Joker or Dani to know how he felt. His guilt and his grief over the death of his friend make him want to put some distance between himself and Dani, but when she needs him he can’t help but be at her side. His love for her is selfless and beautiful, and I couldn’t put On Broken Wings down because I wanted to see that love returned.

The romance between Dani and Easy isn’t a smooth ride, but it’s a great one. Watching them go from friends to lovers was fantastic. While Easy has been in love with Dani from the start, obviously it’s not the same for her and I liked how their relationship developed organically. Seeing them handle the complications of their attraction to one another and their very realistic emotional reactions that sprung from the changes in their lives kept me reading late into the night. There’s no false drama in this book, only mature protagonists in tough situations doing the best they can. For all the emotional ups and downs in On Broken Wings, it’s a story of hope and finding love and happiness. The heartbreak is so worth it when the happily ever after is as amazing as Easy and Dani’s is.

On Broken Wings is the third book in the Wild Aces series, and if you don’t mind spoilers for Fly with Me and Into the Blue it can be read as a standalone (though you’d be missing out). Every book in the Wild Aces series has been exceptional, and On Broken Wings brings everything together in such a way that fans of the series are sure to have big grins on their faces by the end of the book. I loved everything about Dani and Easy’s romance; it’s one of those special stories that stays close to your heart.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

2017 A to Z Reading Challenge

Sunday, January 1, 2017

I've had a blast doing this challenge for the past few years and I can't resist another go 'round. I've discovered a few now-favorite books I might not have otherwise noticed because of this challenge :)

Challenge details:
- Duration: January 1, 2017 - December 31, 2017
- Read 26 books which titles begin with the letters of the alphabet.
- You may ignore articles like A, An and The at the beginning of the title.
- For the letter X, any book title with the letter X in it is acceptable if you can't find one that begins with X.
- You can sign up anytime.
- Please only list books you have read. You can read them in any order.
- A book only counts once, so you can include a re-read the first time you read it.

My List:
On Broken Wings by Chanel Cleeton – 1/1/17
Unf*ck Your Habitat by Rachel Hoffman – 1/2/17

2017 New (to me) Author Challenge

I've done this challenge for the past seven years and discovered some great new-to-me authors along the way (not hard to believe since I've read 506 new (to me) authors from 2010 to 2016). A few of my favorite authors that I've "discovered" over the past few years are Jenn Bennett, Kerrigan Byrne, Chanel Cleeton, C.C. Galloway, DJ Gross, Larissa Ione, Robin LaFevers, Jeanette Murray, Lilah Pace, Tiffany Reisz, Abigail Roux, Riley Shane, Cherise Sinclair, Dee Tenorio, Lynn Viehl, Amanda Weaver, and Elia Winters.

The Challenge: Read 20 or more books this year by authors you’ve never read before.
Dates: January 1, 2017 - December 31, 2017

My list:

1. Author: Rachel Hoffman
Title: Unf*ck Your Habitat

Books I've Read in 2017

For the past seven years I've kept track of the books I read. I read so much that everything tends to blend together in my mental library. It's always fun at the end of the year to look back and see what I've read, loved, and want to re-read (and - on the rare occasion - want to avoid). Plus, it's great to share and compare lists with other book bloggers :)

This list is only of books and novellas I've read and finished (though if I read an entire anthology, I list only the anthology title). The books are listed in the order I read them.

There are sure to be many wonderful stories on the list, but the ones with a ** by them are ones I highly recommend.

1. On Broken Wings (Wild Aces, Book 3) by Chanel Cleeton **
2. Unf*ck Your Habitat: You’re Better Than Your Mess by Rachel Hoffman
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