[ARC Review] – I Have Never (First Comes Love #2) – By Camilla Isley

I Have Never (First Comes Love, #2) Rating:

*Note : I received an e-arc of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Synopsis2Twenty-nine-year-old Blair Walker is a girl with a plan, or more a girl with a list. A list of dos and don’ts to live the perfect life, land a dream career, and marry Mr. Right.

When Blair loses her job and gets dumped by her boyfriend all in one day, she starts to wonder if she’s had it all wrong. And what better way to find out than experience everything the list forbade?

Never Lie
Never Pick a Fight
Never Make a Scene
Never Make the First Move
Never Make Impulse Decisions
Never Mix Business and Pleasure…

With hilarious consequences, Blair will discover some items are trickier to tick off than she’d thought…

A laugh out loud romantic comedy perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk, Sophie Kinsella, and Mhairi McFarlane.

My reviewHow would you react after going through the worst day of your life? Well, the most sorted thing to do is probably make a “sensible” To-Do list and re-evaluate. But, for Blair, who has always carried and meticulously lived by an actual list of Do’s and Don’ts on paper, this is an opportunity to put the list through a figurative shredder.

I loved the premise as soon as I read the synopsis because I thought it was a pretty cool idea to use the oft-employed idea of “bucket-list” but with a twist. It works pretty well, each chapter is named after something from the list, so it sets the stage nicely for events to come. It is fun trying to guess how exactly would Blair end up doing(or not!) everything  she never planned on before her life upended.

After getting fired and nursing a broken heart, she lands a job at an online-editorial portal. Here, she makes new friends, gets a chance to build an entire fashion/beauty magazine from scratch and finds it more fulfilling than her previous high-profile job. There is another major factor contributing to her happiness too – her boss whom she has been majorly crushing on right from their first accidental encounter. The boss here is Richard, who featured in the first book of this series. Richard, who got ditched at the altar in the previous book, is understandably commitment-phobic and well , just a bit averse to having any girlfriend lasting more than a month. The book centers largely on Blair figuring out whether Richard is interested in taking their relationship beyond the professional realm and Richard getting over his fears after the incidents in the previous book.

This book can be read as a standalone so, if you are wondering about whether to pick this up before the first one,  I would say that it wouldn’t be a problem. But, I personally enjoyed the references to the previous book. My favorite (and the most direct one) was Blair confiding her feelings for Richard to an airport bartender who featured in the previous book. Most of the other references were lingering ones related to Richard’s ex.  Considering that most chicklits are from the girl’s PoV, I feel that the male MC’s character arc is usually rushed or underdeveloped. But Richard’s was actually done pretty well. I liked how the author showed him being “ready” to take the relationship forward but probably at a different pace than what he thought Blair expected of him. It actually made all the “conflicts” between them at the end of the book feel realistic rather than something that was hurriedly thrust into the last pages just to amp up the drama.

With LA celebrities, snarky interviews at fashion houses, takedowns featuring spaghetti-dunking and fake lawsuits, and an adorable puppy, this was very entertaining and a great addition to the series! And just to add to the list of things I loved – Blair’s love for heels, the whole start-up team working for Richard (and yay, it actually mentions the techies too! No seriously, the techies are never mentioned in any of the “magazine/fashion” business set-ups in books. As if the online portals magically run by themselves….), and the clever way in which Blair ends up negating the “eating meat” caveat of her list (as she is a vegetarian).  Respect!

 

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Love Connection (First Comes Love #1)

Love Connection (First Comes Love, #1) Rating:

*Note : I received a digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Buy Links:

Kindle          Paperback

Synopsis2Have you ever wondered what might have been?
Gemma Dawson is at the airport, staring at two plane tickets to two different cities. Two different weddings. Two possible futures. She’s at a crossroads.
Be maid of honor at her best friend’s wedding or crash her ex’s?
Gemma’s decision, unknown to her, hinges on a delayed flight and a chance meeting. Now her life is about to go down two parallel tracks—will Gemma fly toward a life with her first love or a future with a man she’s not even met yet? 

Love Connection is a feel good Romantic Comedy about one woman, life’s infinite possibilities, and the destiny that lies beyond two different choices.

My reviewThis is the first book I have picked up with this kind of storytelling. There are two separate stories running in alternate chapters – both as consequences of two different choices Gemma makes – one in which Gemma catches a flight to San Francisco to stop her ex’s wedding and the other where she catches a flight to Chicago to attend her best friend’s wedding. Both stories feature almost the same cast of characters, such as her best friend, sister and some similar events such as Gemma’s bachelorette party. It was a lot of fun to see similar events being played out differently as a result of Gemma’s choice. I liked how the author managed to keep all the chapters and events so consistent. I keep waiting to see if there would be any moment when some character would doff their hat acknowledging the “parallel universe” of Gemma’s life; and it does happen once. So, I did like that slight touch of magic.

Well, I am pretty critical of the whole altar-ditching when it features the main characters since I, as a reader, would be accompanying the MCs on their journey; and altar-ditching is a sure-shot way for me to lose sympathy with at least one MC in the whole situation. I always dislike it when a couple gets their happily-ever-after and has no thought, guilt or consideration for the broken hearts and dreams they leave behind. Since this is a short book with two stories – it was almost like two novellas in one – I didn’t expect pages and pages of stewing-in-guilt scenes. Having said that, and without giving away any spoilers, all I can say is that I really liked Gemma in one story more than the other. She acts like a ditz but she owns it that she messed up and gets these “I feel guilty, Karma is going to get me” stabs on her chest occasionally and well, that was good enough for me. I am not too convinced with the other story though – she got off guilt-free way too easily.

I also felt both stories had very convenient third-wheels who just absolved Gemma from feeling guilty because, well, they were just that forgiving. But, having said that, I didn’t mind it in one of the stories because I did somewhere want closure for Gemma too.  Moreover, like I said, I was happy the author let Gemma stew a bit. But I didn’t really like the final moments in the other story – I found a couple of people’s reactions to the situation a bit unbelievable.

One thing that never gets old in chick-lit is female friendships. I love how they rally around in times of crisis – can be running away from your own wedding or being single on your own honeymoon – and this book is no different.  Gemma’s sister and her best friend were precious ❤ and the three of them provided just the kind of laugh-riot needed to get the other through the times they were feeling lousy.

Overall impressions This book had all the elements of a fun romantic comedy – bachelorette parties, runaway brides and drunken binges with your best friend who is as broken hearted as you are. Now, imagine twice the fun when you have two different stories based on two choices by one person. A lot of rom-coms deal with the dynamics of the girl, her (ex?)boyfriend and her best friend.  Ever felt or wondered how a movie or a book might have turned out if the girl had preferred to place the well-being or interests of one person over the other? Well, this book explores two different possibilities – and keep reading to find out if both lead to the same or different happily-ever-afters.

Natalie’s Getting Married – By Rosa Temple

9781942111061Rating:

Kindle
Paperback

*Note: I received this book from the author through Aimee’s blogiversary giveaways.

 Synopsis:

Career minded, Natalie Spencer, had never been in love. She could never understand what all the fuss was about. But when she met Jackson Humphries during Fresher’s Week at university, that all changed.

Utterly infatuated, Natalie quickly discovers the meaning of love and, before she knows it, she’s heading up the aisle – for the first time, that is.

This is a tale about four wedding dresses, a runaway groom and a girl who got so carried away, she couldn’t see true love staring her right in the face.

My Review:

I think I enjoyed the first half of the book a lot more than the second. Though predictable, it was a lot of fun, and who doesn’t like to root for a girl ending up with her college crush?

This is the story of Natalie and the men in her life. When Jackson proposes to her by the end of her University days, she couldn’t have imagined or wished for better. But is he the one? Her mom and dad are happy, her best friend Gabriel seems to be skeptical and Jackson’s mom hates her and feels they are making a mistake by rushing into things. Will their relationship last? Will they make it to the aisle? Is Jackson the one or is it someone else?

There are a lot of cute touches to the story – The whole, magical feel to the dress shop which felt like a nod to the wardrobe door in Narnia, Natalie’s surprise gift at the hen party and even some of the stereotypes like the rich, snooty, future mother-in-law were fun to read.  But as the book progressed, I became less sympathetic towards Natalie. It felt like watching someone make a repetitive trainwreck of decisions. Her resolve to “focus” on her career and stay away from men lasted only till she met the next hot or considerate guy. In her own words, I did find her to be a bit of a flake in the end. I found it ironic that for all the talk about her best friend Bella not sticking to one guy for a long time and being projected as the more “shallow” one of the two, she ended up sounding more worldly-wise and mature in the end. One more thing which I felt could have been better is build-up to some conversations on a couple of occasions when Natalie has a “How can you say that about me?!” righteous outbursts. I couldn’t connect to them and it made her come across as a ditz. On the other hand, Gabriel could have really used more animated moments. I mean, I get it, he was a rock and very, very mature, but whenever I pictured him while reading I always felt like I was listening and watching someone with infinite patience, no anger and amazing perceptibility when it comes to people. Oh well, what am I complaining about?! That’s Gabe for you ❤ ❤ ❤

There were a couple of other things which worked for me in the beginning but I felt they were overused and ceased to be funny later on. For example, Natalie’s mom crying and fainting spells whenever she is happy or excited. That continued throughout the book and was a bit of overkill. If I do have to pick one character who was my favorite from the secondary cast, it is probably Liam. Without giving away much,  I will just say that I really liked the way he was written and he shined in the page-time that he got – right from his thoughtful side to his anger and bitterness, everything felt apt and relatable.

So yes, there were some parts that I thought could have been better. But if I have to sum it up, it was a fun and ideal chick lit read. I finished it in a few hours and thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

[Blog tour] A Sudden Crush

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Rating :


Author : Camilla Isley
Published by : Pink Bloom Press
Publication date : February 4th 2016
Genres : Humor, Romance

Synopsis (Goodreads):

Joanna Price is a city girl with the perfect life. She loves her job as a book editor, she just married Liam, high profile bestselling author and the man of her dreams, and she’s headed to the Caribbean to enjoy two weeks of paradise for her luxurious honeymoon.
Connor Duffield is a gruff, grumpy rancher from the Midwest. He is a country boy who has a no-nonsense approach to life, more scars than he’d like to admit, and he hates city girls.

So it’s just a misfortune they have to sit next to each other for a six hour plane ride. Even more so when their flight is caught in the perfect storm and Joanna wakes up stranded on a desert island with Connor, the very man she hoped she would never have to see again.

Why are they alone on this forsaken island? What happened to Joanna’s husband?

When her dream honeymoon turns into a hilarious tropical nightmare, Joanna’s first thought is survival. However, she and Connor will quickly discover just how boring paradise can be. As the days turn to weeks, and then months, this mismatched pair will have to learn how to coexist and how to resist the sparkles of an attraction they weren’t prepared to feel.

When they are finally rescued will Joanna’s marriage be saved as well, or will the life she knew and loved be in ruins?

My Review

I think your expectations from a book are set right from the time you leaf through the synopsis. A Sudden Crush turns out to be exactly what it promises, a quintessential romantic comedy laced with humour that never seems out of place despite the outlandish circumstances. It is simple, light and an enjoyable read. The author, Camilla Isley, manages to suffuse a certain freshness to the oft-repeated guy n’ girl-stranded-in-an-island situation. I think what worked for me is that the whole island adventure was described without romanticising the ordeal of surviving in the wilderness. Nor does it delve too deeply into the grim circumstances. There is just enough information to convey how they are going about trying to stay alive till they are rescued without taking the focus away from the main story. In fact, it is effortlessly used to complement the strides Joanna and Connor make in their relationship – from barely managing to keep up polite appearances to slowly developing a warm friendship. The story is more Joanna-centric and she won me over on the island. I liked how earnest she was about doing her bit to help instead of playing damsel-in-distress. It ended up making Joanna and Connor equal partners and confidantes.

I also liked how the book manages to effectively get across some points which one might be aware of but it is nice to be reminded about occasionally:

  • Always have atleast one friend who is there to assure you that your life doesn’t suck as much as you think it does. Doesnt matter if that friend can appear only as a voice on the phone or a head in your Skype screen.
  • You owe it to your own conscience to do the right thing. Not for anyone else or not in expectation of being rewarded for that choice.
  • Always have a few e-books on your cell phone, you never know when they might come in handy to kill boredom. (Hehe…)

Speaking of books, well, there is quite a bit of writing, authoring and publishing talked about. Without revealing much, can I just say that I loved how charmingly the author used “writing” for two different purposes:

  1. To provide closure to one relationship.
  2. To provide wings to another.

A character rises above the stereotype meant to be disliked and that completely took me by surprise. I didn’t see that coming and wish that is done more often. I mean, I don’t know how to explain it, but I feel like sometimes the story is so boxed in by the genre it is supposed to fit in that the characters forget to act and react in a way that doesn’t seem one-dimensional. The detective protagonists in murder mysteries don’t have to be robotic and boring. The female characters in chick lit don’t have to be rich airhead snobs. Similarly, the supporting cast of characters in a romance or romcom don’t have to be dumbed-down or made “evil” just to make the intended couple look good. Thankfully, that didn’t happen in this book.

There were a couple of things in the book which I found a bit unconvincing especially towards the end. I felt like some hurdles were glossed over and some things fall in place a bit too neatly. It works in the context of “stuck on a deserted island” situation in the first half of the book where suspension of disbelief is a given, but such convenient resolutions strike a discordant note when the story moves onto Joanna’s regular life.  Keeping these gripes aside, I had fun reading the book and would definitely recommend it. Especially for all the romcom lovers!

Buy Links (Amazon) :

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Paperback

*I received an e-arc in exchange for an honest review. This blog tour is hosted by Aimee (hellochicklit.com)*

suddencrushbooktourpic

Visit all the stops on this tour:

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02.08.16

Grass Monster/Selina – @Lost801_Oceanic – Review
Live, Laugh & Love Books/Rebecca – http://livelaughandlovebooks.wordpress.com – Excerpt
Literary Chanteuse/Margaret – www.literarychanteuse.blogspot.ca – Promo
Around the World in Books/Melissa – http://www.aroundtheworldinbooks.ca/ – Excerpt
Chick Lit Central/Melissa A. – http://chicklitcentral.com – Review

02.09.16

Bookmyopia/Ishita – https://bookmyopia.wordpress.com – Review
Calico Gifts Blog/Laura – Www.calicogiftsblog.WordPress.com – Review
Judging More Than Just the Cover/Amber – www.judgingmorethanjustthecover.blogspot.com – Author Q&A – Review
Pretty Little Book Reviews/Elle – http://www.prettylittlebookreviews.com – Review
Just a Book Lovin’ Junkie – http://jabooklovinjunkie.blogspot.com – Promo
Bookish Escapes/Leah – http://bookishescapes.weebly.com – Review

02.10.16

T & L Book Reviews/Tammy – http://tasz1976.wordpress.com – Promo
Romantic Reads and Such/Julie – http://romanticreadsandsuch.worpdress.com – Review
Boundless Minds/Shouryaman – www.boundlessminds.org – Author Q&A
Ali – The Dragon Slayer/Alison – http://cancersuckscouk.ipage.com/ – Review
Hello…Chick Lit/Aimee – http://hellochicklit.com – Review

02.11.16

On My Bookshelf/Agi – http://www.onmybookshelf.blog.pl – Review
Liz Ellen/Liz – http://lizellyn.com – Review
The Nest of Books Review/Petra – http://thenestofbooksreview.blogspot.com.au/ – Author Guest Post
ItaPixie’s Book Corner/Fede – https://www.facebook.com/itapixiesbookcorner/ – Review
I Heart Fictional People/Cheryl – http://iheartfictionalpeople.com/ – Review

02.12.16

Vvb32 Reads/Velvet – http://vvb32reads.blogspot.com/ – Review
One Book at a Time/Bethany – http://Booksandwinearelovely.blogspot.com – Promo
A Writer’s Ramblings/Corinne – https://www.corinnedesjardins.wordpress.com – Excerpt
Book Groupies/Jazzy – http://bookgroupies2.blogspot.com/ – Promo
Stormy Nights Reviewing & Bloggin’/Peggy – http://stormynightbloginandreviwing.blogspot.com/ -Promo
Hey Said Renee/Renee – http://heysaidrenee.blogspot.com.au – Review