Accidentally in Love (Friends First #3) by Laura Drewry

23636585Goodreads summary:

Ellie Palmer and cops don’t mix, and getting pulled over by Officer Brett Hale—again—doesn’t help. Neither does being forced to take a safe-driving course with him. Brett’s by-the-book attitude leaves Ellie ice-cold, and his rock-hard body won’t change that. Still, the more time she spends with the guy, the more she finds herself warming up to his unexpected charms.

Even though Brett comes off like a boy scout, Ellie has sparked something he wants badly enough to get him to rethink his past mistakes. But when her ex shows up, Brett makes it his mission to keep Ellie safe in the here and now. His gut tells him the guy’s trouble, and Ellie must agree, because she doesn’t complain when Brett pulls her close. To keep her safe, though, he’ll have to choose between breaking her heart . . . and breaking the rules.

***** Five Stars

This was such a fun book!  I am not a fan of insta-love whatsoever – it has to be executed really well in order to work for me, so needless to say, I much prefer books like these where the characters are either friends first or hate each other before they fall in love. This case was pretty much the latter, with Ellie and Brett at odds frequently due to Ellie’s lead foot behind the wheel and Brett’s badge requiring him to pull her over.

When Ellie’s drug dealer ex-boyfriend is released from jail and begins stalking her again, she and Brett are pushed together as they try to get enough evidence on the loser to send him to jail.

I loved Brett and Ellie, who had two very different personalities but were just so cute together. I have read the first book in this “Friends First” series, and now I want to go back and read the second one that I missed. Characters from the previous two books are present in this edition, but you can read this as a standalone. I am looking forward to the fourth book as well!

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

“The Secrets We Keep” by Trisha Leaver

secretsGoodreads summary:

Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years living in popular Maddy’s shadows, but she has never been envious of Maddy. In fact, she’s chosen the quiet, safe confines of her sketchbook over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy’s world.

When—after a heated argument—Maddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves her sister dead, Ella wakes up in the hospital surrounded by loved ones who believe she is Maddy. Feeling responsible for Maddy’s death and everyone’s grief, Ella makes a split-second decision to pretend to be Maddy. Soon, Ella realizes that Maddy’s life was full of secrets. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two options—confess her deception or live her sister’s life.

**** Four Stars

** spoiler alert ** Really enjoyed this, it was a well written and fast-paced read.

Some people have qualms about the unbelievable aspects of Ella’s ruse and her reasoning for taking her sister’s place, but those were things I could get past for the most part. I think grief and shock could excuse a lot of what happened – how easy it was for everyone to think she was Maddy, how different Ella was from Maddy at school, things she didn’t know or forgot, etc. People thought she was odd or different, but the biggest and best excuse for her behavior was the accident. In the car Maddy had been wearing her shoes and sweatshirt, and the freckle that would have been a distinguishable feature had been covered up by injury. These are all huge coincidences, but it leads to how things happened and how Ella came to be mistaken for Maddy. The one thing I thought about that wasn’t addressed was Ella’s handwriting – surely it would have been different from Maddy’s? Unless they practiced it for taking tests for each other, perhaps. I don’t remember reading that they did.

My other biggest qualm was how easy her parents handled the reveal at the end, and also that we didn’t really get to see how people handled finding out that it was Maddy who had died. Her parents and other people had grieved Ella – they had not grieved Maddy. They would be happy that Ella was alive, but that means they were losing a different daughter. I think that would have resulted in the grieving process starting over from scratch. Alex and Maddy’s friends, who in relief thought Maddy had survived that accident, now found out that 1) She is actually dead and 2) They had been interacting with her twin sister pretending to be her for over a month. A mention of how Alex was handling it would have been nice, even though he was way over-controlling and creepy.

Overall this was very fun to read, you just have to suspend your disbelief and not ask too many questions while reading.

“Jesse’s Girl” by Miranda Kenneally


Goodreads summary:

Everyone at Hundred Oaks High knows that career mentoring day is a joke. So when Maya Henry said she wanted to be a rock star, she never imagined she’d get to shadow *the* Jesse Scott, Nashville’s teen idol.

But spending the day with Jesse is far from a dream come true. He’s as gorgeous as his music, but seeing all that he’s accomplished is just a reminder of everything Maya’s lost: her trust, her boyfriend, their band, and any chance to play the music she craves. Not to mention that Jesse’s pushy and opinionated. He made it on his own, and he thinks Maya’s playing back up to other people’s dreams. Does she have what it takes to follow her heart—and go solo?

***** Five Stars

Loved it! It was slightly different from the other Hundred Oaks books in that music is the passion instead of a sport, but it was still just as great. I love how Miranda Kenneally writes about girls who have goals and strive to be great at something. That is just as good as the sweet romances she writes!

In this edition of the series, Maya (little sister of Sam from “Catching Jordan”) is an aspiring musician who has gotten the great fortune to job shadow country star Jesse Scott thanks to a connection someone at her school has. Jesse became mega successful after winning a TV talent competition (like a cross of American Idol and The Voice) at a young age, and he’s got the star power of a Justin Bieber prior to Justin’s self-destructive phase. Now only 18, Jesse is jaded with family problems and distrustful of strangers.

Though at first they hate each other, Maya and Jesse connect and take off on a day to remember. Their relationship afterwards, as well as Maya’s pursuit of her dreams, leave a lot of questions to be answered.

I really liked both Maya and Jesse, as well as Maya’s family and the glimpses we got of Sam and Jordan (Which made me want to read “Catching Jordan’ again!). This had a lot of fun twists and turns, and I really loved the resolution at the end. MK is one of my favorite YA authors and this only continues to be the case with “Jesse’s Girl.”

Thanks to NetGalley and SourceFire for an ARC of this book!

Release date: July 7

“Crushed” by Lauren Layne


Goodreads summary:

Growing up in New York, Michael St. Claire never expected to spend his twenties wearing cowboy boots. But that was before he learned about his real father, a total stranger with a family in Cedar Grove, Texas. Once in the Lone Star State, Michael meets Kristin Bellamy, who is exquisitely refined and everything Michael always thought he wanted in a woman. The only problem is that Kristin is dating Michael’s new half brother, Devon.

Kristin’s mouthy, curvy sister Chloe has always been in love with Devon Patterson. So when Michael offers to help Chloe break up Devon and Kristin, Chloe agrees to a deal that seems too good to be true. Before long, Chloe finally gets her man, only to make a startling discovery: She no longer wants the guy she had to fight for—she wants the one who stood by her side.

After all he and Chloe have been through, Michael swears he’s damaged goods. Can Chloe convince him that love is worth the risk?

**** Four Stars

I really like this series! I was intrigued when the first book in the Redemption series introduced us to Michael, who has had a rough go of it and lost who he thought was the love of his life in Olivia. When we meet him again in this book, he seems to have lost his motivation for anything else except to get a little revenge/get the upper hand on people who have affected his life in a big way.

Through this venture he meets Chloe, who is not your conventional gorgeous, thin book heroine. Chloe has curves and a strong will, and she and Michael are quite a match. As usual Lauren Layne can take a well-known premise – that of pretending to date in order to get to other people – and make it fresh because of the freshness of her characters. A very enjoyable read, as most of Layne’s books are.

ARC provided via NetGalley.

“Perfect Couple” (Superlatives #2) by Jennifer Echols

perfectcoupleGoodreads summary:

As yearbook photographer, Harper is responsible for capturing those candid moments that make high school memorable. But her own life is anything but picture perfect. Her parents’ bitter divorce has left her wondering what a loving relationship would look like. And ever since the senior class voted her and star quarterback Brody the “Perfect Couple That Never Was,” her friends have been on her case to ask Brody out.

Brody doesn’t lack in female admirers, but Harper can’t see herself with him. He seems confused about why they were matched together, too. They’re total opposites—the last people in the world who would ever be compatible, let alone the “perfect couple.” Yet ever since the class paired the two of them, they’ve found themselves drawn together–first by curiosity, then by an undeniable bond.

The trouble is, though they’re very attracted to each other and both of them admit this, they have a hard time getting along or even communicating clearly. If they’re the perfect couple, this shouldn’t be so difficult! Soon it becomes clear their class was wrong, and they throw in the towel. But after they walk away, both of them feel so changed from making the effort that they can’t forget each other. What if that means this match made in hell is the perfect couple after all?

**** Four Stars

If I had not been able to get this for free from the library, I never would have read it because it got so many poor reviews. But, I enjoyed it! I thought it wasn’t bad at all. I guess that goes to show you can’t always base your decision to read a book on reviews, you might like something a lot of people don’t.

This was no great masterpiece, but it was a nice, light YA read for a Sunday afternoon.

“Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3” by Robert Matzen


Goodreads summary:

At 5:00 A.M. on January 16, 1942, actress Carole Lombard, Hollywood’s “Queen of Screwball” and the wife of the king of the movies, Clark Gable, stepped onto a Transcontinental & Western Airlines DC-3, designated as Flight 3 in Indianapolis, Indiana with her mother, Elizabeth Peters, and MGM publicity man Otto Winkler. Lombard had just completed the first sale of war bonds and stamps in the nation following its entry into World War II. Exhausted from five days on the road, Carole intended to return to her husband and Encino, California home and by the fastest means possible. Fourteen hours later, Flight 3 lay a flaming pile of debris strewn across the side of Potosi Mountain, Nevada.Fireball provides a fresh look at Carole Lombard’s life, with plenty of focus on her list of lovers that included Howard Hughes and Clark Gable, and presents a first-ever examination of the events that led to that final flight and her death. The book also provides a day-by-day look at the struggles of Clark Gable and Lombard’s family, friends, and fans, to cope with the tragedy. Lombard became the first Hollywood star to sacrifice her life in World War II. The War Department offered Gable a funeral service with full military honors but he refused it knowing that his wife would not approve of such spectacle.

But Fireball goes much further and explores the lives of the 21 others on the plane, including 15 members of the U.S. Army Air Corps, and addresses one of the most enduring mysteries of World War II: On a clear night full of stars, with TWA’s most experienced pilot at the controls of a 10-month-old aircraft under the power of two fully functioning engines, why did Flight 3 crash into that Nevada mountainside?Author Robert Matzen digs deep into never-before-explored corners of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences Library to offer fresh new perspectives on Carole Lombard, “the Queen of Screwball.” He also explored 2,000 pages of federal government and TWA records on the crash and spoke to friends of Carole Lombard and Clark Gable as well as crash experts and family members of the passengers on Flight 3 to tell not one but 22 heartbreaking stories, one for each of the souls aboard the doomed airliner.The gripping page-turner Fireball presents the story of the people on the plane, the friends and families left behind, and the heroic first responders who struggled up a mountain hoping to perform a miracle rescue. From the first page to the last, Fireball tells a story of accomplishment, bravery, sacrifice, and loss.

***** Five Stars

Excellent – my interest in Carole Lombard/Clark Gable led me to this book but it fulfilled many other interests such as curiosity about the plane crash and details about the other plane crash victims.

It also included some other interesting stories about Lombard’s life, including the tragedy of Russ Columbo and her car accident that nearly ended her career. It might have been a limited-time deal but I got this for Amazon Kindle for like $2 and I would have paid 5 times that.

“99 Days” by Katie Cotugno

99 days

Goodreads summary:

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

**** Four Stars

~This review contains spoilers~

I can’t say I particularly “enjoyed” this book, but it was definitely entertaining and kept me interested.

I don’t mind reading about cheating or love triangles, because while I don’t approve of it in real life, it’s just fiction and you can suspend some of your morals when reading ;) The biggest thing that I had a problem with was not the cheating that took place during the book – that of Molly and Patrick cheating on Gabe and Tess – but how cavalier and seemingly uncaring Gabe was about 1) betraying his brother when he slept with Molly and 2) dating her after this huge scandal had hit their family and Patrick had been incredibly heartbroken and angry. Like, Gabe didn’t seem sorry at all, nor did he see anything wrong with pursuing Molly the first time he saw her after the big fallout. At least Molly, with her many flaws and stupid decisions, had guilt about it all. It was almost stunning how nonchalant Gabe was about it, and how the family just kind of accepted it. I think he kind of had what happened with Molly/Patrick coming to him…

I understood the theme of the guys getting off easier than the girl, but I think this and the brotherly competition could and should have been explored more. The rivalry between Gabe and Patrick over Molly and it possibly being about them beating each other was only briefly touched upon at the end, but I feel should have played a bigger part.

This was a really different kind of YA book about a love triangle, very messy and unpretty. Both of Katie Cotugno’s books have gotten kind of a mixed reaction, but I have been glad I read both of them.

“The Mistake” by Elle Kennedy


Goodreads summary:

He’s a player in more ways than one…

College junior John Logan can get any girl he wants. For this hockey star, life is a parade of parties and hook-ups, but behind his killer grins and easygoing charm, he hides growing despair about the dead-end road he’ll be forced to walk after graduation. A sexy encounter with freshman Grace Ivers is just the distraction he needs, but when a thoughtless mistake pushes her away, Logan plans to spend his final year proving to her that he’s worth a second chance.

Now he’s going to need to up his game…

After a less than stellar freshman year, Grace is back at Briar University, older, wiser, and so over the arrogant hockey player she nearly handed her V-card to. She’s not a charity case, and she’s not the quiet butterfly she was when they first hooked up. If Logan expects her to roll over and beg like all his other puck bunnies, he can think again. He wants her back? He’ll have to work for it. This time around, she’ll be the one in the driver’s seat…and she plans on driving him wild.

** Two Stars

Maybe my expectations were too high since I loved “The Deal” so much, but I didn’t get into this one nearly as much, maybe because it felt like Logan and Grace really didn’t know each other, and his sudden revelation that she was the perfect girl for him seemed rushed and didn’t have a relationship to back it up.

My interest was pretty much gone by 60 percent but I finished it. I am still very much planning on reading the next in the series, Dean’s story.

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han


Goodreads summary:

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?
In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestsellerTo All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

***** Five Stars

So this is what it feels like to have a Jenny Han series end the way you want it to! This is a first for me :)

What can I say? I skimmed through “To All the Boys I Loved Before” yesterday in order to refresh my memory from last year, remembered how much I loved it, then bought “P.S. I Still Love You” on Kindle as soon as it became available for purchase today. Less than 24 hours later I am done and finished with a big smile!

I love Lara Jean, who is so innocent and unique.

I love Kitty with her brashness and brutal honesty. Jenny Han writes great scenes and conversations that seem so effortless. I’m sure a lot of work goes into her books, but she makes it seem so easy (until you try to write something like her and realize how much talent it takes).

Broken by Lauren Layne


When Olivia Middleton abandons the glamour of Park Avenue for a remote, coastal town in Maine, everyone assumes she’s being the kind do-gooder she’s always been. But Olivia has a secret: helping an injured war veteran reenter society isn’t about charity—it’s about penance. Only, Olivia’s client isn’t the grateful elderly man she’s expecting. Instead, he’s a brooding twenty-four-year-old who has no intention of being Olivia’s path to redemption . . . and whose smoldering gaze and forbidden touch might be her undoing.

Paul Langdon doesn’t need a mirror to show him he’s no longer the hotshot quarterback he was before the war. He knows he’s ugly—inside and out. He’ll do anything to stay in self-imposed exile, even accept his father’s ultimatum that Paul tolerate the newest caretaker for three months or lose his inheritance. But Paul doesn’t count on the beautiful twenty-two-year-old who makes him long for things that he can never have. And the more she slips past his defenses, the more keeping his distance is impossible.

Now Paul and Olivia have to decide: Will they help each other heal? Or are they forever broken?

**** Four Stars

I always love Lauren Layne’s books without fail. This one reminded me a lot of “Beauty and the Beast” which was unexpected, but I loved the premise.

Olivia was a minor character in a previous book by Layne, the very cute “Isn’t She Lovely” which has now been branded Redemption #0.5 while “Broken” is Redemption #1.

Olivia defies typical stereotypes right from the start when instead of being a conniving witch in “Isn’t She Lovely,” she’s actually remorseful and not scheming and the opposite of what most ex-girlfriends in a romance turn out to be. Thankfully Olivia gets her own love story in “Broken,” when she goes off to work at a mansion taking care of what she thinks is an elderly invalid.

Who she finds instead is an angry and hurting war veteran who is much closer to her age than expected. While Olivia seeks to find and forgive herself, she also must break through Paul’s hard shell as he heals emotionally.

Set to be released September 2, you don’t have to have read “Isn’t She Lovely” to read “Broken,” though I would recommend it!

I received an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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