Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Review: An Ex for Christmas by Lauren Layne

An Ex for Christmas by Lauren Layne
Publisher: Loveswept
Publication Date: 7th November 2017
My rating: 5 stars.

She’s making a list—and checking it twice. But is there a nice guy among all her naughty exes? The New York Times bestselling author of Blurred Lines returns with a charming friends-to-lovers rom-com. When a psychic tells spunky, superstitious Kelly Byrne that she’s already met her true love, she becomes obsessed with the idea of tracking him down before Christmas. Kelly immediately writes up an “Ex List” and starts contacting old boyfriends to figure out which one is the one. When her college sweetheart rolls into town, Kelly convinces herself that they’re meant to be. The trouble is, sparks are flying with someone she’s never given a chance: her best friend, Mark. Mark Blakely has watched the guys on Kelly’s list break her heart, and he’s not looking forward to watching them do it all over again. Mark’s always been there for her, but the timing’s never worked out for their relationship to be something more. Now, just as Mark is ready to move on, the sexual tension between them is suddenly off the charts. With Christmas morning around the corner, he just hopes Kelly will wake up and realize that everything she wants has been right in front of her all along.

An Ex for Christmas was a delight to read, I’ve always enjoyed Lauren Layne’s books in the past, but this book just had that extra special something, maybe it was the Christmas theme, or amazing friendship between Mark and Kelly that bought about a flurry of butterflies in my stomach, I just had the best time reading this book. Our MC Kelly, is a believer in fate, horoscopes matching up and is known for asking her magic 8 ball all types of questions, so when catching the train one day and a random lady tells her that she’s already met her true love, she makes it mission to track him down before Christmas. Why would Kelly listen to a random lady you ask, well she also happened to make a passing comment on Kelly’s parent’s 30th anniversary cruise, which not any random person would know about. Kelly of course took this lady’s random comment to mean that her true love was one of her ex’s. It was so much fun watching Kelly compile her list of ex’s and trying to track them down and see if they would pass her mistletoe test that she had come up with. 

I try not to re-read the summary of a book before I pick it up, I guess I always want an element of surprise? And I’m glad that this was exactly the case with An Ex for Christmas, as I’d naturally assumed that there was the chance that Kelly would find the one in her list, that maybe they had missed their chance long ago, but now was the time to be together, so when sparks started flying with Mark, I was absolutely delighted! The perfect guy was basically in front of her all along! I was a bit worried though, that as Mark and Kelly had been best friends for so long, that may be them taking things to the next level, could ruin the friendship that they had, but with the casual build up, I knew for sure that I wanted something more to happen between them, forget the risks and what ifs. Also, Mark was such an amazing guy! (definitely a contender for my top ten fictional crushes of the year), he always had Kelly’s best interests at heart, even though she didn’t realise it at times, he was charming, one heck of a cook, had that growly thing going on, that had me weak in the knees and was hot! I know Kelly wanted to complete what she had started with her list, but things started getting heated between her and Mark and I wanted to shout forget the bloody list, open your eyes and look at the fine specimen of a man that you have standing in front of you! This minor issue aside, I still adored Kelly’s character, she was such a bubbly character, she was funny and like any other person, had her doubts that she had to deal with, she really was a person that I could relate to in so many ways. 

With the reading slump, I was in An Ex for Christmas was exactly what I needed and so much more, I kind of wished that I had saved it for Christmas, with the Christmas setting it had going, but I know I’ll just have to read it again, during my Christmas break! An Ex for Christmas, was one of my favourite reads by Layne so far, I’m glad that I picked it up, because it truly had everything going for it; a beautiful friendship with the potential to emerge into a fantastic relationship, many laugh out loud moments and vivacious characters and swoony scenes that you’ll want to read over and over again, this is one book readers definitely don’t want to miss out on!

Monday, 6 November 2017

Review: Someone to Wed by Mary Balogh

Someone to Wed (Westcott #3) by Mary Balogh
Publication date: November 7th 2017
Publisher: Berkley
My rating: 5 Stars
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | TBD

A very practical marriage makes Alexander Westcott question his heart in the latest Regency romance from the New York Times bestselling author of Someone to Hold.

When Alexander Westcott becomes the new Earl of Riverdale, he inherits a title he never wanted and a failing country estate he can’t afford. But he fully intends to do everything in his power to undo years of neglect and give the people who depend on him a better life. . . .

A recluse for more than twenty years, Wren Heyden wants one thing out of life: marriage. With her vast fortune, she sets her sights on buying a husband. But when she makes the desperate—and oh-so-dashing—earl a startlingly unexpected proposal, Alex will only agree to a proper courtship, hoping for at least friendship and respect to develop between them. He is totally unprepared for the desire that overwhelms him when Wren finally lifts the veils that hide the secrets of her past. . . 

My Thoughts:
Oh, this book! I just loved it so much! 

Since Wren has lost her aunt and uncle, Wren has been lonely.  She wants a marriage and hopes for all that comes with it: respect, trust, affection, and children.  As a wealthy woman she sets out to buy a husband, since she doesn’t think she could acquire one any other way.  She’s heard of Alexander Westcott’s predicament, inheriting the title of Earl of Riverdale with the massive estate of Brambledean, long neglected, and in need of a mountain of money to repair and restore.  So, Wren makes Alexander and offer of marriage.

Alexander Westcott always thought when he married it would be for love, but that was before he unexpectedly inherited the title of Earl with Brambledean, its people and properties dependent on its prosperity.  He doesn’t have the money to restore it the way it should and if he doesn’t take a bride for money it will be years of struggling to get the estate back on course.  Wren Heyden’s offer is practical, and he feels like he could respect and eventually have affection for her, but Alexander’s afraid by the deep pain he thinks lies under her surface.  Could she get past that to truly let him in? If not, would he be content such an emotionally remote marriage?

Wren had so many barriers at first, I wasn’t sure a romance between her and Alex could be possible.  They start off as so practical without the promise of love, it was a little depressing, but oh, things change and progress, and I fell in absolute love with their emotional journey!! Once their course was settled the romance was slow steps, but always going forward.  No ridiculous, dramatic setbacks. 

Wren didn’t have any family to speak of, so I was very moved that Alexander’s family stepped up and gave Wren the support and friendship she needed.  It was impossible to feel lonely with his cousins, aunts and uncles by her side, but I most appreciated Alexander’s mother and sister welcoming her into the family so warmly.

Mary Balogh’s writing stirred up so many emotions, had me tearing up here and there with all the feels! She brought Wren and Alexander to life, to the point they felt real that I was genuinely touched by all the trials they overcame to find their HEA!  Someone to Wed is tied as favorite in the series with Someone to Hold, the previous book, and now I can’t wait for the next one!

Connect with Mary Balogh:

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Weekly Wrap Up #16

Hi everyone, with Rachel and I's crazy work schedules, we miss sharing whats going on with us. We used to have a lot of fun with our Showcase Sunday posts, so thought we'd do something regular on the blog, where we share bookish news and life news in general as a weekly recap! We've decided to link our weekly wrap up's with The Sunday Post hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated reviewer.


(Click on title for Goodreads link)


This week was a fantastic reading week for me, as both of my read ended up being five stars for me, I don't want to jinx my good run, but honestly this hasn't happened to me in a long time and you know me, I rarely give books five stars these days. But both An ex for Christmas and Roomies featured such wonderful romances and characters! I for one can't wait to re-read these books again soon! 

 (Click on title for Goodreads link)

The audio book of The Collapsing Empire was sooo good! I can't wait for the next book which is set to release in 2019! *sobs* Touch of Red was another exciting installment to Laura Griffin's Tracers series. Duke of Desire ended the Maiden Lane series nicely. I'm sorry to say goodbye!  I listened to Besieged narrated by the amazing Luke Daniels.  It was a collection of short stories from the Iron Druid Chronicles, all pretty fantastic and now I can't wait for Scourged which I think is the last book of the series. Where I Belong and Once a Charmer were both sweet romances.

(Click on title for Goodreads link)

Nothing for me this week, which is good in a way, as it gives me the chance to catch up!

 (Click on title for Goodreads link)

I really enjoyed Stillhouse Lake, but it left off pretty abruptly so I'm anxious to continue the story. I loved Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin last year some I'm excited to pick up Paper Ghosts.  Creepy cover, right?  Keep Her Safe is another book I've been excited to read since I love K.A. Tucker's writing.

(Click on Book for Goodreads link)

This new book from Paula Stokes sounds fantastic, so many of my friends have been telling me to read her books for a long while and this book sounds just like something I would enjoy, it looks like this book has a November release date, but I can't seem to find it anywhere to pre-order yet! And 99 Days was one of the first books that I really enjoyed by Katie Cotugno, so I was delighted when I found out there was a follow up book coming out next year!


Nothing other than the books received above. :)



With me being slammed with work lately I haven't had the chance to watch many shows, the only one I've actually been able to keep up with is The Apprentice, I've highly been loving the tasks despite some of the contestants once again being as ridiculous as usual, but I'm slowly starting to get some favourites coming through.


I'm addicted to this show!  We've just finished season one last night. I'll be starting season two next.




I've tried to be so good with watching what I eat, especially as I've taking up personal training sessions and my trainer has been kicking my arse all over the place, but when a friend and I heard about a new dessert place opening, we knew we had to check it out and how could I resist a Ferrero rocher waffle? It was of course to die for! 

I was in Wine Country and Cambria last week and even though my half-marathon got cancelled I had a blast! We kayaked down the Russian River, went hiking in the Redwoods, drove down to Bodega Bay (where Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds was set), visited Point Reyes Lighthouse, and did a little wine tasting. It was such a gorgeous and relaxing trip! Here are a few pictures:

Kayaking down the Russian River

Hiking on the San Simeon cliffs above the ocean.

How was your week?

Friday, 3 November 2017

Review: The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

The Collapsing (The Interdepenency #1) by John Scalzi
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication date: March 21st 2017
My rating: 4 Stars
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | TBD | Audible

Our universe is ruled by physics and faster than light travel is not possible -- until the discovery of The Flow, an extra-dimensional field we can access at certain points in space-time that transport us to other worlds, around other stars.

Humanity flows away from Earth, into space, and in time forgets our home world and creates a new empire, the Interdependency, whose ethos requires that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It’s a hedge against interstellar war -- and a system of control for the rulers of the empire.

The Flow is eternal -- but it is not static. Just as a river changes course, The Flow changes as well, cutting off worlds from the rest of humanity. When it’s discovered that The Flow is moving, possibly cutting off all human worlds from faster than light travel forever, three individuals -- a scientist, a starship captain and the Empress of the Interdependency -- are in a race against time to discover what, if anything, can be salvaged from an interstellar empire on the brink of collapse.

My Thoughts:
The book description best describes the futuristic world of The Collapsing Empire. The main POVs are the newly crowned Empress of the Interdependency, Cardenia, Lady Kiva of the trade house of Lagos, and Marce, Lord Claremont, a scientist.

Empress Cardenia:
She never thought she'd become Empress being the bastard child of the Emperox, but with the sudden death of her older brother she was next in line for the throne. She inherits the throne when, unknown to the majority, the space pathways ("The Flow") that connect her Empire are failing, potentially cutting off planets and space habitats from each other, and dooming the human race. Each of these habitats or planets depend on each other to replenish goods and items necessary for life in outer space.

Lady Kiva of House of Lagos
is kind of a cut-throat business woman, but you need to be to survive the House politics. From her take-no-shit attitude, to her constant swearing (she loved the F-word) I liked her, a lot! Her House business takes her to End, a planet at the farthest ends of space currently in civil war. Her business doesn't go well, but Kiva, with smart, ruthless maneuvering makes up the losses. Her path collides with Lord Marce Claremont in the course of her dealings on End. I won't say anymore.

Marce Claremont
is a physicist, and one of the few who know exactly what's going on with the Flow. He comes under the eye of the Duke's "advisor" Lord Ghreni Nohamapetan, of the House of Nohamapetan who figures in prominently in the story, as well.

The House of Nohamapetan is an ambitious, and not particularly principled lot, and it was entertaining to see their plans thwarted here and there.

The prologue grabbed me! But I will say that it took a while to get into the story after that. The beginning chapters with Empress Cardenia were a little slow, although necessary to lay the foundation for the story. Her chapters become much more interesting as the plot progresses. The chapters with Kiva and Marce were my favorite and much of the action happens with them in the beginning. All of the characters stories come together by the end. The story is at times funny and sarcastic, but pretty riveting as the plot thickens.

It's a race for human survival, but power plays and cooperation from the complicated Empire will probably mean major road blocks ahead. I can't wait for the next book! I can't believe I have to wait until 2019!

I listened to the audio version and Wil Wheaton's performance was superb!

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