Nonfiction

Book Review – Adnan’s Story by Rabia Chaudry

Goodreads Summary

In early 2000, Adnan Syed was convicted and sentenced to life plus thirty years for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, a high school senior in Baltimore, Maryland. Syed has maintained his innocence, and Rabia Chaudry, a family adnans storyfriend, has always believed him. By 2013, after almost all appeals had been exhausted, Rabia contacted Sarah Koenig, a producer at This American Life, in hopes of finding a journalist who could shed light on Adnan’s story. In 2014, Koenig’s investigation turned into Serial, a Peabody Award-winning podcast with more than 500 million international listeners

But Serial did not tell the whole story. In this compelling narrative, Rabia Chaudry presents new key evidence that she maintains dismantles the State’s case: a potential new suspect, forensics indicating Hae was killed and kept somewhere for almost half a day, and documentation withheld by the State that destroys the cell phone evidence — among many other points — and she shows how fans of Serial joined a crowd-sourced investigation into a case riddled with errors and strange twists. Adnan’s Story also shares Adnan’s life in prison, and weaves in his personal reflections, including never-before-seen letters. Chaudry, who is committed to exonerating Adnan, makes it clear that justice is yet to be achieved in this much examined case.

Rating

5 stars

Review

I should start this review by telling you that I’m a huge fan of Rabia Chaudry and her (and Susan and Colin’s) podcast, Undisclosed.  I’ve listened to every episode (some more than once).  I’ve read her blog and tweeted her.  I’m invested in this case.

It was really interesting to read the backstory of the phenomenon that was Serial.  I knew Rabia brought the case to Sarah Koenig, but to read Rabia’s thoughts about the podcast were incredibly enlightening.  Hearing from Adnan was also incredibly interesting.

I have believed from Episode 1 of Serial that Adnan was innocent.  Having listened to Undisclosed and the Truth and Justice (formerly Serial Dynasty) podcasts have proved that ten times over.   After reading this book, I have an even deeper respect and empathy for Adnan Syed.  He’s a genuinely good person.  I don’t believe he murdered Hae.

In terms of the writing, I felt the book was a little long and detail heavy in some places.  I would have liked to hear about Tanveer (Adnan’s brother) and his reconciliation with his family.  I would have liked to have heard more about Jenn Pusateri and Stephanie.

I could hear Rabia’s voice as I read Adnan’s story.  It’s a story that is still continuing, and will hopefully end with Adnan going home to his family.  I would recommend this book to anyone.  A well-written book.

Happy reading.

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Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic is: This week’s topic is: Top Ten Books With X Setting (top ten books set near the beach, top ten book set in boarding school, top ten books set in England, etc).  My choice is:

Top 10 Books I’ve read set in the Midwest.

I thought this would be a fun topic since I’m from the Midwest.  Hope you enjoy!

Man Candy by Melanie Harlow., set in Detroit.  If you read the blurb, it says something about a flat, so I assumed the book was set in the UK.  But I was wrong; and this is a great book.

Crazy, Happy, Love series by Melanie Harlow, set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  I live in Indiana, but have never been to the UP and want to go!  Maybe someday.  This was a good series about three sisters.

The Carpino series by Brynne Asher, set in Nebraska.  Yes, Nebraska.  I assumed this was a mafia book, but could not have been more wrong.  I loved this series and desperately want more.

Friend-Zoned by Belle Aurora, set in Missouri.   If you haven’t read this series, please do yourself a favor and read it.  LOVE them.

My Coyote Ugly Life by Jessica Spoon, set in Iowa.  This book is really funny.

The Exquisite Series by Ella Frank, set in Chicago.  Good book series.

Big City, Bad Blood by Sean Chercover , set in Chicago.  I read this 6 years ago but it felt very authentically Chicago.  I wish the author would have written more books in this series.

Changing the Game by Jaci Burton, set in St. Louis.  I enjoyed this series, even if they were a little fluffy.

The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater, set in Minnesota.  I loved this series.

The Fault in Our Stars, set in Indiana.  I actually forgot this book was set in Indiana, because I remember Amsterdam so much, but alas, it’s in the Hoosier state.

What books are on your list?

Happy Tuesday!

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Romantic Comedy Books

Book Review – Anything but Minor by Kate Stewart

Goodreads Summary 

“She’s a nerd.”
“Heyyyy!”
“Okay, she’s a flight instructor.”anything but minor
“Better.”
“He’s a ballplayer.”
“The best that ever was.”
“Technically, you aren’t according to MLB stats.”
“See? Total nerd. She also has no filter.”
“He’s no southern gentlemen.”
“I had one last season to prove my worth.”
“I’d never seen a game.”
“He told me he was a player.”
“She told me she was a lesbian.”
“But you fell in love with me anyway.”
“Yeah, baby, I totally did.”

Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Review

I stumbled upon this little gem thanks to goodreads, and I’m so glad I did.  I really loved this book!!

Anything but Minor is the story of Alice Boyd, a flight instructor who has just relocated to Charleston, South Carolina to start her life and get away from her strict, overbearing mother.

Alice is a googler.  She’s obsessive about it.  Once she gets an idea in her head about something, she will google it and learn all she can about a topic.  There is a minor league baseball team in Charleston, and Alice decides to go to a game.  She is sitting two seats over from Dutch, an older woman who has two seats to the game but only sits in one.  Alice mimics Dutch’s enthusiasm during her first game, catching the attention of pitcher Rafe Hembrey.

Rafe has been pitching in the minors for a while, and he is waiting for “the call” to the majors.  He notices Alice sitting by Dutch and is intrigued.  Dutch invites Alice to join her at the games for the season, in her empty seat; which belonged to her dead husband.

Rafe and Alice end up meeting up at the bar in town, owned by Andy, Rafe’s best friend and catcher.  The banter between Alice and Rafe is hilarious.

You see, Alice is kind of a nerd.  She is waiting for her “Jake Ryan”.  She is obsessed with John Hughes movies (on VHS).  She quotes movies all the time and it’s adorable.  I just loved Alice.  She was very honest – she told you how she felt, and her character grew during the course of the book.

Rafe was great too, but he was a little rougher around the edges.  This was a really fun book and I would highly recommend.

Happy reading.

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Romantic Comedy Books

Book Review – Undeniably You by Jewel E. Ann

Goodreads Summary

One crazy dog—one awkward vet—one naked pool guy—and one life-changing month in California to make friends, fall in love, and twist fate. Who gets paid to walk a dog and recline by the pool all day? Sydney Montgomery, aspiring museum curator and professional house-sitter, that’s who.

When her aunt and uncle need a house and dog sitter for thirty days in Palo Alto, Sydney can’t turn down the chance to be closer to her sister in L.A. Within twenty-four hours of her arrival, Sydney’s cleaning up runny dog poo, taking an uncooperative pooch to a undeniably youhandsome yet awkward vet, and being rescued from the bottom of the pool by a naked “pool guy.”  Lautner, “pool guy,” has a hot body and a cool persona. With eyes of iridescent blue oceans, he is mesmerizing, sexy, and addictive. What he is not—the pool guy.

Dr. Lautner Sullivan is a college wide receiver turned pediatric resident. He knows how to woo a woman with flowers, pastries, and sweet tea. Lautner is every girl’s dream, but Sydney is not every girl. She’s immune to rainbows, fairytales, pixy dust, and the “L” word. The attraction is immediate, the friendship is earned, and the love is undeniable. Thirty days is their forever, but forever is not long enough.

Rating

4 out of 5 stars

Review

This book has been on my kindle a while, and I decided to give it a try.  Sydney has moved to Palo Alto to house sit for her aunt and uncle and on her first day runs into the “pool guy”.  Turns out he is not the pool guy, but a pediatrician named Lautner.  Why he is there is really cute and charming, and I won’t spoil it.

Lautner was awesome.  I freaking loved him; he was so sweet and funny and incredibly smart.  He knew up front that Sydney was only in town for a month.  He wooed her anyway, in the cutest way possible.

Sydney, however, was not so awesome.  She had some major issues, including her ability to NOT tell people she loved them.

There was some drama in this book, that I won’t spoil, but it was a bit annoying.  And what happened made me dislike Syd even more.  The only reason I finished this book was Lautner.

You may feel differently about Syd; I just did not love her.  But Lautner; yum (picture Chris Hemsworth).

Happy reading.

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Man Crush Monday

Man Crush Monday #17

This is my 17th installment in my Man Crush Monday meme.  Since I read mostly romance, I thought I’d share some of my “book crushes” with you, and possibly introduce you to some new reading material.

My Man Crush Monday for this week is Matt Montgomery from Tied With Me by Kristen Proby.

First of all, I can’t believe I went 17 weeks without Matt being my MCM.  I freaking LOVE this guy.  You’ll hear why below.

Summary from goodreads.comA man whose lifestyle is so different from her own…

Nic Dalton’s cupcake bakery is thriving. She serves both rock stars and locals alike, tied with mecontent with her growing business. But one adventurous night out with her best friend, Bailey, turns her life upside down. She meets a handsome stranger who makes her skin sizzle and her heart race. Their one night together is explosive and unexpected, but when he has to suddenly leave without taking her phone number, Nic resigns herself to never seeing him again.…What will it take to trust and submit to his every desire?

Matt Montgomery is one of Seattle’s finest. He works hard, loves and protects his family fiercely, and is loyal almost to a fault.  And he has a penchant for bondage.

Matt enjoys the way a woman looks wrapped up in his ropes, and makes no apologies for his preferences. When he meets Nic at a fetish festival, the small, beautiful woman catches his eye, drawing him to her. His one night with her was everything he’s ever looked for in a partner, but is cut short because of a family emergency. Even before he sees her again weeks later, he knows he’ll never get her out of his system.  And he’ll do whatever it takes to make her his.

I know it’s a little odd to choose the 6th book in a series and focus on the guy, but Matt Montgomery is by far my favorite Montgomery brother and my favorite male from the entire series.  Matt is a cop in Seattle with a penchant for bondage – something he is very self conscious about and doesn’t want his family to know about.  He meets Nic at a fetish festival and he’s done for. 

Matt was sweet and loving, and very protective of his family – qualities I love in a man.  Nic had some serious baggage, but Matt was so patient with her, giving her the time she needed – until the end.  I think I re-read the end of the book 50 times.  I would highly recommend this entire series.

Happy reading.

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Romance Books

Book Review – Wicked Fall by Sawyer Bennett

Goodreads Summary

Never in your wildest dreams could you begin to imagine all the filthy and depraved things that go on inside The Wicked Horse. Step inside and Woolf Jennings will make every one of your dirty fantasies come true.wicked fall

He’s covered in a facade of deception. An enticing blend of multi-millionaire and hot-as-hell Wyoming rancher, those that think they know Woolf Jennings admire his abilities to preside as CEO of his family’s cattle and oil empire. But only a privileged few truly understand what fuels the glitter of depravity in those gorgeous blue eyes. Only a few know he’s opened up a sinfully erotic and private sex club named The Wicked Horse right at the base of the beautiful Teton Mountain range.

Sweet Callie Hayes has returned home to Wyoming and is looking forward to starting her life over again. After a night of impetuosity, she’s managed to put herself right in Woolf’s line of sight… the man who she foolishly offered up her virginity to years ago and was flatly turned down.

Now Woolf is seeing that Callie is all grown up and has a kinky side to her that leaves him as confused as it does turned on. Worse yet, both Callie’s dirty desires and sweet heart are getting under his skin, and making Woolf question everything he’s ever believed about himself.

My rating 

2 out of 5 stars

Review

Ok, I had no idea what I was getting myself into with this book.  I’ve read several books by Sawyer Bennett that I’ve enjoyed, but sadly, this book was a disappointment.

Wicked Fall is the story of Woolf Jennings, multi-millionaire owner of a huge ranch in Wyoming, who also owns a sex club – a private sex club.

Callie Hayes has moved back to Wyoming after a bad break up.  She ends up in Woolf’s bar and in his sight.

I am way over the whole BDSM (which this book doesn’t have) sex club ménage scene.  To be honest, I’m not really sure why I finished this book.  I skipped a lot of parts due to general boredom.  I would not recommend this book and won’t be reading on.

Happy reading.

Romance Books

Book Review – Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton

Goodreads Summary

Manhattan’s It Girl, Natalie Grayson, has it all: she’s a hot exec at a leading advertising firm, known industry-wide for her challenging and edgy campaigns. She’s got a large circle of friends, a family that loves her dearly, and her dance card is always full with handsome eligible bachelors. What else could a modern gal-about-town wish for? The answer, of course, is…cheese.

Natalie’s favorite part of each week is spending Saturday morning at the Union Square cream of the cropFarmer’s Market, where she indulges her love of all things triple cream. Her favorite booth also indulges her love of all things handsome. Oscar Mendoza, owner of the Bailey Falls Creamery and purveyor of the finest artisanal cheeses the Hudson Valley has to offer, is tall, dark, mysterious, and a bit oblivious. Or so she thinks. But that doesn’t stop Natalie from fantasizing about the size of his, ahem, milk can.

Romance is churning, passion is burning, and something incredible is rising to the top. Could it be…love?

Rating

3 out of 5 stars

Review

Cream of the Crop is book 2 in the Hudson Valley series, and was not as good oscaras the first.  Here’s why:  Oscar.  I just didn’t connect with his broody personality.  Though I kept visualizing Oscar as Jason Momoa (Khal Drago from Game of Thrones).  That helped get me through:)

Natalie is a big time marketing executive who lives in Manhattan.  Every Saturday, she goes to a farmer’s market to buy brie from the gorgeous farmer from Bailey Falls Creamery.  The town of Bailey Falls wants to boost tourism and reaches out to Natalie’s firm for help on the campaign – and Natalie has to go to BF to see what the town is like.

Her BFF Roxie (book 1) lives in BF with her boyfriend Leo.  While in BF, Roxie wants to have Nat meet up with the farmer she crushes on.  Things don’t go so well at first….

I liked Natalie a lot.  She’s a plus size woman who is very confident in her own skin.  Natalie was hurt badly when she was younger by a man, and has vowed that she will never be hurt again.

I really do like the town of Bailey Falls.  It reminds me of the small towns from movies like “Doc Hollywood”, which I love.  I just have a hard time loving the book when I can’t connect with the male lead.  Oscar also had a very unconventional relationship with his ex, which I found off-putting.

Maybe you’ll like Oscar; I just didn’t click with him.  I will keep reading this series though.

Happy reading.

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Man Crush Monday

Man Crush Monday #16

This is my 16th installment in my Man Crush Monday meme.  Since I read mostly romance, I thought I’d share some of my “book crushes” with you, and possibly introduce you to some new reading material.

My Man Crush Monday for this week is Nick Hammer from Mister O by Lauren Blakely.Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00023]

I don’t normally do my MCM on a book I just finished, but I just loved Nick Hammer so much that I’m making him my man for the week. Nick is a cartoonist, who writes “The Adventures of Mr. Orgasm”, which is turned into a late night show.  He has a dirty mind – and a healthy appetite.  When his best friend’s sister wants lessons on how to win a guy, Nick jumps at the chance.  Mostly because he secretly has a crush on her.  He is also an animal lover – he volunteers to walk dogs at a local shelter a few days a week.  Who couldn’t love that?

Happy reading.

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Romantic Comedy Books

Book Review – Mister O by Lauren Blakely

Goodreads Summary

Just call me Mister O. Because YOUR pleasure is my super power.

Making a woman feel ‘oh-god-that’s-good’ is the name of the game, and if a man can’t Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00023]get the job done, he should get the hell out of the bedroom. I’m talking toe-curling, mind-blowing, sheet-grabbing ecstasy. Like I provide every time.  I suppose that makes me a superhero of pleasure, and my mission is to always deliver.

But then I’m thrown for a loop when a certain woman asks me to teach her everything about how to win a man. The only problem? She’s my best friend’s sister, but she’s far too tempting to resist–especially when I learn that sweet, sexy Harper, has a dirty mind too and wants to put it to good use. What could possibly go wrong as I give the woman I’ve secretly wanted some no-strings-attached lessons in seduction?

No one will know, even if we send a few dirty sexts. Okay, a few hundred. Or if the zipper on her dress gets stuck. Not on that! Or if she gives me those f*&k-me-eyes on the train in front of her whole family.  The trouble is the more nights I spend with her in bed, the more days I want to spend with her out of bed. And for the first time ever, I’m not only thinking about how to make a woman cry out in pleasure –I’m thinking about how to keep her in my arms for a long time to come.   Looks like the real Adventures of Mister Orgasm have only just begun….

Rating

4 out of 5 stars

Review 

I started reading Mr. O a few weeks ago and put it aside.  I couldn’t find anything to read, so I decided to go back to it and I’m so glad I did.  I really enjoyed this book!

Mr. O is the story of Nick Hammer (that’s his real name). Nick is a cartoonist, and has created “The Adventures of Mr. Orgasm”, a cartoon that has been turned into a late night program on cable.  He is at a book store doing a signing when he is sexually harassed by a female fan.  Harper Holiday, Nick’s best friend’s little sister, happens to be there and comes to Nick’s rescue.

Nick and Harper start spending time together, and Harper tells Nick that she’s bad with men, and would like Nick to give her lessons on how to be better with them. Nick is super dense, and doesn’t’ realize this is Harper making a play for him; see, Spencer, Harper’s brother, and Nick’s BFF, has forbidden Nick from ever pursuing a relationship with Harper (for selfish reasons).

Nick starts giving Harper her “lessons”, and ends up with way more than he bargained for.

Firstly, I loved Nick. He was funny as hell and he volunteered with his brother to walk dogs at a local shelter (swoon).  Harper was great too.  She’s a magician who works kids parties.  I loved her – she was really quirky but in fun, not annoying way.

The banter between these two was really funny, and in the end, I’m really glad I went back to read this. Nick had a really dirty mind, and I loved his thoughts and ideas.  I’m excited for the next book for sure. 🙂

Happy reading.

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Romance Books

Book Review – Where I Belong by J. Daniels (spoilers)

Goodreads Summary

When Mia Corelli returns to Alabama for a summer of fun with her childhood best friend, Tessa, there’s only one thing keeping her on edge. One person that she’d do anything to avoid.  Benjamin Kelly. World’s biggest dickhead.where i belong

Mia hates him with a fury and has no desire to ever see him again. When she decides to start her summer off with a bang and finally give away her v-card, she unknowingly hands it over to the one guy that excelled at making her life miserable, learning a valuable lesson in the process.  Always get the name of the guy you’re going home with.

Ben can’t get the girl he spent one night with out of his head. When she leaves him the next morning, he thinks he’ll never see her again. Until he sees her lounging by the pool with his sister.  Mia is determined to hate Ben, even though she can’t forget him.  Ben is determined to prove he’s not the same guy he used to be.  What happens when the one person you wish never existed becomes the one person you can’t imagine being without?

My rating 

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Review

This book has been sitting on my kindle for a few years now, and I’ve decided that I’m going to read some books that are sitting out there collecting dust.

While I enjoyed this book, and I really liked Ben, there were a few issues with this book.  This list may contain a few spoilers; you’ve been warned:)

  • A virgin walks into a bar and decides to give away her virginity to a random dude
  • Random dude turns out to be her best friend’s brother
  • She hates her best friend’s brother
  • They have the “best sex of their lives”
  • The don’t exchange names during the 5 times they have sex
  • The best friend is very interested in her brother’s anatomy.  Gross
  • Brother has a child, who was conceived during a one night stand; you’d think he would have learned his lesson

So despite some of the gross things above, I did like this book.  Ben was kind of an alpha male; he decided Mia was going to be his and stopped at nothing to make that happen.  At the end, there was a tragedy in Mia’s life that she seemed to get over quite quickly (which kind of annoyed me), but Ben and Nolan (his son) stole the book.  I will continue reading the series, because I liked the other guys in the book.

Happy reading.