Monday, September 26, 2016

Choosing Happy by Samatha Harris + Giveaway!

Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for CHOOSING HAPPY by Samatha Harris! I read Samatha's first novel, Somewhere In Between, back in February after I won a copy in a giveaway and I've been dying to read more from her since then. So I was thrilled to receive an ARC of Choosing Happy and take part in promoting it. And I'm even happier to say that CHOOSING HAPPY did not disappoint and I got more of what I loved from the first book: well-developed and realistic characters, great dialogue full of snappy banter, and a perfect mix of swoony romance and steamy scenes. Now let's talk more about CHOOSING HAPPY!
 Madison Buchanan’s life has imploded…

Her husband left her for his nineteen-year-old intern, leaving her alone and faced with starting over in her forties. With the help of her feisty best friend, Madison reinvents herself, armed with a new look and open to new possibilities.

Sean Taylor is gorgeous, fun, and young—very young…

He hasn’t had the best of luck. Sean’s track record with women is less than stellar, but when he walks into The Den one day, he just can’t help but be captivated by a dark haired beauty with the sad eyes and killer legs. She’s a little older, but he doesn’t discriminate. More than anything, he wants to be the one to make her smile.

Sean personifies the only thing that has eluded Madison all of her life—joy…

It was meant to be a fling, something fun, with no strings and zero drama, but Sean wants something more, and Madison is just not ready. She’s lived by the rules her family, her friends, even her boss have laid out for her, but her new life is not what she expected. Being with Sean opens feelings she never thought she’d experience.

The the demands of her family and her job throw her boring, simple life into chaos, and Sean is no exception…

Madison is left with a choice. Give in to the expectations of the world around her—or choose to follow her heart and be happy.

But choosing happy is so much harder than it seems.
Amazon ~ FREE on Kindle Unlimited

Madison Buchanan is where she never thought she'd be. Forty-two years old and single, thanks to her husband of sixteen years who left her for a nineteen year old girl. She needs a fresh start and best friend Margot is determined that she gets it. Convinced that a makeover and a fling is just what she needs, Margot has a hand in setting up both for Madison. Meeting Sean at a local bar has Madison considering some no-strings-attached fun but the obvious age difference is giving her pause.

At twenty-nine, Sean Taylor has had his share of hard knocks, both personally and romantically. But despite his past he has a love of life that is evident to anyone. A chance meeting with a gorgeous but slightly shy older woman has him wanting more ("I don't discriminate when it comes to beautiful women."). When Madison agrees to a date Sean turns on the charm and is determined to show her that age really is just a number.

One kiss and this woman already had me completely tied in knots. 
I didn't just want her, I craved her.

First things first: I adored Sean! I mean, what's not to love? This guy was sweet and kind and funny and heart-stoppingly sexy. And sooo thoughtful! The dates he arranged, the attention he paid to Madison... hello new book boyfriend! I loved his patience and his willingness to be so open about his feelings and what he wanted from Madison. This was a guy who wasn't afraid to say what he thought and what he felt and put himself out there. 

Madison was a little trickier in that I empathized with her and was frustrated with her in equal amounts. She was dealt such a shock with the end of her marriage and that is something that would send anyone into a tailspin. But Maggie's people-pleasing ways and refusal to stand up for herself had me desperate for her to show some backbone. Between her mother, her ex-husband, her employer (and even, at times, her best friend) Maggie was surrounded by people who bulldozed right over her. It was so rewarding to watch as she came into her own. I have to admit, I also grew frustrated with some of dealings with Sean. She gave mixed signals, she was hurtful - and to someone who was nothing but open and honest and encouraging. I tried hard to empathize with her at those time but my heart truly hurt for Sean.

"You can be happy, Madison. You just have to choose to be."

Choosing Happy had a wonderful cast of secondary characters that I thoroughly enjoyed. Sean's friends Alex and Drew (the protagonists from Something In Between), Madison's assistant , Sean's grandmother... I loved them all. Another of my favorite elements of the novel was the humor which is there in abundance. Sean's easygoing banter was full of teasing and fun and Madison's best friend and assistant (Margot and Jeremy, respectively) had an epic relationship.

I highly recommend Choosing Happy (and Somewhere In Between!) to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance that is smart, fun, and sexy. Choosing Happy is guaranteed to leave you wanting more from this talented author.

Choosing Happy is the second book in the Madison Square companion series but can be read as a stand alone. 

Note: I was provided an advance copy by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way changes my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

“You are a mess,” I repeated, “but so am I. Life is messy.” I pressed my forehead against hers and exhaled. “The mess isn’t the problem. I can deal with messy. The problem is you won’t let me.”
She took a deep breath and took a bite of her food, a sigh of pure satisfaction escaping her lips as she relaxed into her seat. Fuck me that sound. I could spend the rest of my life searching for more ways to get her to make that sound again. If her laugh had turned me on, that fucking sigh made things almost painful.
“We make absolutely no sense. I get that, but I can’t explain it and I shouldn’t have to. We are so alike in some ways and completely different in others. She’s frustrating and overwhelming and I know that I should be running for the hills, but I love her. Why can’t that be enough?”

Samatha “Sam” Harris lives near Baltimore, Maryland with her husband David and daughter Ava. Born in Florida, she migrated north which most people agree was a little backwards. She has been an artist all of her life, a Tattoo Artist for more than ten years, and a storyteller since she was a kid.

Sam has a slightly unhealthy love for Frank Sinatra, classic movies, and Jazz and Blues music, but her first love will always be reading. From Romance, to Thrillers, to Historical Fiction and everything in between, she loves to become a part of the story. As a writer she tells the stories that she would want to read.

Twitter: @samathaharris08 ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon Author Page
Somewhere In Between
Amazon ~ B&N

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Sunday Post #27

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's a chance to share news - a post to recap the past week on your blog, 
showcase books and things we have received, and share news about what is
coming up on your blog in the week ahead. You can find the info here:

Happy weekend! I've spent much of the weekend playing with book so, needless to say, it's been great. :) After The Husband got the new bookshelf put together last week I've been itching to reorganize. I decided to start from scratch and removed every single book from the shelves. I spent hours yesterday stacking and compiling and organizing and shelving... it was fabulous. I'm so happy with how it turned out. I'm still tweaking here and there but I'll share pics soon.

I've also been having fun taking part in a photo challenge that Entangled Teen is doing on Instagram. The challenge started on the 19th and runs through the 30th with a different photo prompt every day. Prizes include an early print copy of Shadows, previously available only as an e-book) or Opposition, which is being re-released with a cover that matches the original covers. I've been having so much fun with the prompts. I mean, any reason to celebrate Daemon Black. *wags eyebrows*

Tuesday, September 20: Top Ten Tuesday was all about audio - however you wanted to interpret that. Instead of audio books, I decided to just share some of my favorite songs. I had *so* much fun picking which ones to use and I loved hearing about everyone's favorites in the comments.

Thursday, September 22: Since I'm getting ready to start A Court of Mist and Fury, I decided to use one of my favorite lines from A Court of Thorns and Roses for That's What He Said Thursday. That line from Tamlin to Feyre... serious swoonage!

Friday, September 23: On Friday I shared my review of Just a Kiss by Denise Hunter, which released earlier this month. This was a sweet contemporary romance that focused two best friends who embark on a romantic relationship - but not without obstacles. 

Choosing Happy - Samatha Harris

P.S. I Like You - Kasie West
November 9 (Audio) - Colleen Hoover

September Bookworm Box
Unwritten - Chelsea Cameron
Ready to Fall - Daisy Prescott

You Had Me at Hello - Mhairi McFarlane
The Fire Between Hi and Lo - Brittainy Cherry
The Silent Waters - Brittainy Cherry

The Time Traveler's Christmas - Amy Jarecki

How was your week? Any new books? Any news to share? 
You know I want to hear about it! :)

Friday, September 23, 2016

Review: Just a Kiss by Denise Hunter

Just a Kiss by Denise Hunter

Series: Summer Harbor #3

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Christian Fiction

Release Date: September 6, 2016

Format: Kindle

Source: NetGalley

Find it here: GoodReads | Amazon


Riley Callahan’s plans to reveal his secret feelings for his best friend are ruined when his life is drastically changed in Afghanistan.

Watching the love of his life falling for his brother was enough to send Riley straight to boot camp. But over a year later, he’s officially a marine, and Beau and Paige are no longer an item. When Riley’s tour in Afghanistan is up, he intends to confess his feelings to Paige and win his best friend’s heart once and for all.

But all that changes when an IED takes the life of two comrades and leaves Riley an amputee. Now he’s heading home, injured and troubled. His plans to win Paige are a distant dream. She deserves so much more than the man that’s left. All he can do now is put some healthy distance between them. But upon his return he discovers his family has arranged for him to stay with Paige.

Paige is a nurturer at heart and happy to take care of her best buddy. By all appearances he’s adjusting miraculously well to his disability. But as the days pass, Paige begins to see that the smiles and laughter are just a mask for the pain he’s hiding. He has nightmares and mood swings, and his unwavering independence keeps him from accepting help from anyone, including her. To make matters worse, her job is in serious jeopardy. The animal shelter that she’s poured her heart into has lost its funding, and she has three months to come up the money needed to save it.

As the weeks wear on with the two in such close proximity, Paige’s feelings for Riley begin to shift into unchartered territory. Why is she suddenly noticing the corded muscles on his arms or the way his lips curl at the corners? Will she be able to deny her feelings for another Callahan brother? And will Riley let his heart heal so he can let Paige in?
My Thoughts

Riley Callahan has returned home to Summer Harbor, Maine. But the Marine endured a lot in Afghanistan, including a battle that cost him his leg. Thoughts of finally professing his love to long time best friend Paige have gone out the window.

Paige has never known that Riley felt anything more than friendship. He's her best friend - there for her when her father died, there for her when she dated his brother and the relationship ended. Having him home again is the answer to a prayer and she'll do anything to help him heal and readjust. But Paige's feelings for Riley have changed and she's thinking about him as a lot more than just a friend. 

I enjoyed both Riley and Paige and their story. The best friends to more story is hardly new, but it's one that I almost always enjoy. I will say that their refusal to acknowledge or share their feelings felt overly drawn out and became frustrating, as did Riley's insistence that with his injury he was no longer good enough for Paige. I would have preferred to have seen more of them actually together instead of all the build-up.

Just a Kiss is classified as Christian fiction, something I wasn't aware of when I requested the book. While that does mean this was a very clean, wholesome love story, with Christian content (that was not heavy handed), it was refreshing in a way. Readers that like their romance on the sweeter, cleaner side (nothing beyond a few kisses) will definitely appreciate this one.

Just is Kiss is a friends-to-more contemporary romance and, despite being the third in a series, can easily be read as a stand alone.

3/5 Stars

Note: This title was provided to me in exchange for an honest review. This does not change my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

That's What He Said Thursday #26

(graphic created by Kei at The Lovely Pages Reviews)

That's What He Said Thursday is a weekly meme created 
and hosted bChapter Break. It's a fun way to share a quote 
from a favorite book boyfriend (aka male protagonist) to his girl.
For more info, visit Chapter Break here.
I read A Court of Thorns and Roses last year kind of on a whim, because fantasy isn't really my genre. But the synopsis hooked me (and let's be real: that 
cover ♥) and it ended up being my big surprise of the year and one of my favorite reads of 2015. I haven't yet started A Court of Mist and Fury and, even though I've tried to avoid spoilers like the plague, I get the feeling that my ship sinks hard in that one. But for now I am still firmly Team Tamlin so this week's That's What He Said Thursday is for him.

"I love you," he whispered, and kissed my brow. "Thorns and all."

Have you read ACOTAR and ACOMAF?
Team Tamlin or Team Rhysand?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Turn Up the Tunes Edition

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme 
This week's Top Ten Tuesday theme is an All About Audio freebie - a.k.a. top ten audio books, 10 books you want to listen to on audio, top ten podcasts/albums/songs, you get the idea.

I'm going with 10 of my favorite songs of all time. Not necessarily the Top Ten because, seriously, how impossible would that be to narrow down? It's not particularly bookish, but who says we can't branch out a little and share more than just our love of books? I'm already laughing because I'm totally going to be showing my age with some of these but what can I say... I was in junior high and high school in the 80's and some of my favorite music is still from that time. So here we go...
This is a remake but it's the version I love. This is one of those songs that can almost always get me pumped and in a good mood.

Just such a beautiful song. I never get tired of listening to it.

Love her voice, love the lyrics, love it all.

This song. I adore it. Alison Moyet's voice is perfection.
This one hits me in the heart Every. Single. Time. 

The studio version of Laid is good but it's the live version that can take me from "oh, I'm having an average day" straight to "utter joy!" in two and a half minutes. :)

This is a newer favorite and one that I fell in love with as soon as I heard it.
I've never been way into Peter Pan but for some reason all the references here just send me over the moon.

Maybe Someday was the first book I ever read by Colleen Hoover and is so special to me. After finishing it, I immediately downloaded Griffin's music that was used in the book. While I enjoy all the songs, it's this one that I *still* have on repeat. It's a fabulous song on its own, but having the context from the book makes it that much more moving. (And the line "For her I bend, for you I break" kills me every time.)

Back in the 80's Duran Duran was my favorite band. I was waaay into them and their music (concerts, posters on the wall, the whole bit). This song isn't even theirs; it's a cover of a song that was originally released in the mid-70's. But Duran Duran's version hits me right in the feels.

I don't know what it is about this song... but I LOVE IT. :)

I'm wondering how many people can say they've had the same favorite song for 35 years or so? :) If I *had* to pick one favorite above all the rest, this is The One. I remember when this first came out in 1979-80 and I loved it from the first time I heard it. I can't name a single other song by Forbert (he was something of a one hit wonder) but this one is incredibly special to me. So much so that a few years ago for Christmas my husband printed the song lyrics and framed them and it's still one of the best gifts I've ever received. ♥

So what's your favorite song? Can you narrow it down to just one? Tell me your top two or three so maybe I can discover some new favorites!