THE HAPPY EVER AFTER PLAYLIST by Abby Jimenez – double review!

From the USA Today bestselling author of The Friend Zonecomes an adorable and fresh romantic comedy about one trouble-making dog who brings together two perfect strangers.

Two years after losing her fiancé, Sloan Monroe still can’t seem to get her life back on track. But one trouble-making pup with a “take me home” look in his eyes is about to change everything. With her new pet by her side, Sloan finally starts to feel more like herself. Then, after weeks of unanswered texts, Tucker’s owner reaches out. He’s a musician on tour in Australia. And bottom line: He wants Tucker back.

Well, Sloan’s not about to give up her dog without a fight. But what if this Jason guy really loves Tucker? As their flirty texts turn into long calls, Sloan can’t deny a connection. Jason is hot and nice and funny. There’s no telling what could happen when they meet in person. The question is: With his music career on the rise, how long will Jason really stick around? And is it possible for Sloan to survive another heartbreak?


Title : The Happy Ever After Playlist
Author : Abby Jimenez
Format : eARC/finsihed copy
Page Count : 400
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Forever/ Little Brown UK
Release Date : April 14, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis/Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

If you read THE FRIEND ZONE, you know that Jimenez’s writing is compulsively readable and nigh unputdownable. So why I decided to pick it up at nine PM on a work night and stay up almost until midnight to finish and then write this review.. well, it wasn’t a decision, I just lived it. I don’t regret it now but we’ll speak later as to how I feel in the morning.

Additionally, if you’ve read Jimenez’s debut, you know that going into this one is going to be emotional. The events of the first book in this universe, events that directly change Sloan’s world, are a lot. And we open up two years after that event and Sloan is.. not doing well.

While we eventually get to a place where there’s a new love interest and there’s flirting and connection and sweetness, the grief doesn’t poof disappear. I really appreciated the balance that the author had between taking steps to move on — initially nothing to do with the romance — and the hesitations, the relapses, the moments that required her to pause and step back. It felt natural and not overblown and also heightened the intensity of the romance because this powerful connection had a counterweight of.. not sadness but maybe appreciation? Hard to say. But the early chapters? I devoured. I delighted.

Later there is some drama with an ex, the record label, a harsh tour schedule, and other than a few blips, I thought all the speed bumps were pretty acceptable. If you’ve read any rockstar romances, you probably won’t be too surprised with how it plays out, but this one is more wholesome than most, mostly because the characters themselves are pretty wholesome excellent humans. That said, I’m not quite sure I buy the big confessional but, again, it’s what you do in a rockstar romance, and it makes for great cinematic-dramatic style romance so, hey, whatever man. The ending is also hella cheese but HEAs are what it’s all about and it’s literally in the title, so.

So, yeah, smooth sailing all the way through? Maybe not. I can’t quite decide if this was on par with THE FRIEND ZONE or if the former was a little better, but this was still a really fun read, with characters just zany enough for comic relief (Kristen), supportive found-family friends, swoony love, a heaping portion of emotions and feels, a dog, and a big time second chance at love — not with the same guy, of course, but a second chance nonetheless.

This is definitely going to be a hit.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


Micky’s 4 star review

Devoured in 24 hours and compulsive reading are my first thoughts on finishing THE HAPPY EVER AFTER PLAYLIST. This story had all the highs and crushing lows, so get ready for a roller coaster ride that had me gripping onto the safety bar.

The Sloan that we met in THE FRIEND ZONE was brought to life in this story, a shadow of her former self and still understandably stuck in a complex grief pattern of one significant date of loss to another. The grief element of this book was well written but it didn’t overwhelm the narrative; it was balanced so well. The serendipitous meeting of Tucker, the dog, Sloan and then Jason was absolutely fun. I got so wrapped up in their virtual meet cute and then their real life one.

I got lulled, lulled into chemistry for days, banter (much of which came from Kirsten) and the gorgeous newness of a relationship. So that when the rot and angst crept in, I wasn’t ready. The second half of the book had more serious tones and it was gripping but tough reading. I will say no more to the plot because you just have to read this.

I have exited the book reinforcing my fandom of Abby Jiminez’s writing and character creations. I feel like I want to go back and read these two books back to back soon because I just haven’t had enough. You are definitely going to want to read this.

Thank you to Little Brown for the finished review copy.

STILL by Kennedy Ryan 🎧

I’ll be there.
Through thick and thin.
Ride or die.
You can count on me.

The promises people make.
The vows we take.
Assumptions of the heart.
Emotion tells us how we feel, but life…life has a way of plunging us in boiling water, burning away our illusions, testing our faith, trying our convictions.
Love floating is a butterfly, but love tested is an anchor.

For Grip and Bristol,
Love started at the top of the world
On a Ferris wheel under the stars
But when that love is tested, will they fly or fall?


Title : Still
Author : Kennedy Ryan
Narrators : Jakobi Diem, Maxine Mitchell
Series : Grip #2
Format : Audiobook
Length : 13 hours, 12 minutes
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Tantor Audio
Release Date : September 18, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

What a boom! of a completion to this series, which I think is my personal Kennedy favourite so far. My love for this series stems from the decency that is Grip. He’s no saint but he’s good guy born and bred. My second love of this series is the flawedness and loyal Bristol. She has been a growth of love on my part and growth in character on Kennedy Ryan’s part.

The strength of this tale, this instalment, lies in the timeline. There is no rushing, it jumps and then it focuses in on hours and days and I cannot tell you how well that worked for me. Taking this approach just enhanced my connection to these characters and their lives, I felt like family.

There were some difficult storylines but when things were basically peachy at 70%, I smelled a rat and knew that I was about to take a dive off a cliff with these two. What I didn’t expect until I saw it coming, was that this would go into my work -life expertise. I cringe and worry when a story delves into writing these topics because I’ve seen it butchered. Yet, I remain conflicted because I want to see these topics make the cut in books. Kennedy Ryan narrated this emotive topic with sensitivity, research and excellence. There was some medical detail that was spot on but on the whole, she concentrated on the emotional narrative that had this person with a PhD in the subject with waterfalls down her face. You rocked this, Kennedy and I am beyond impressed.

I waited to experience this book by audio, having loved Grip this way. The narration brought this story and the emotions to life. These narrators epitomised Grip and Bristol.

Fiction is just that but excellent fiction takes reality and carves a life story. Kennedy Ryan wowed me from the first to the last page and I love that I was able to get this series signed in London recently. Read this series and feel from your heart to your soul, I did.

EVVIE DRAKE STARTS OVER by Linda Holmes

In a small town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her house. Everyone in town, including her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and she doesn’t correct them. In New York, Dean Tenney, former major-league pitcher and Andy’s childhood friend, is struggling with a case of the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and he can’t figure out why. An invitation from Andy to stay in Maine for a few months seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button.

When Dean moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken–and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. But before they can find out what might lie ahead, they’ll have to wrestle a few demons: the bonds they’ve broken, the plans they’ve changed, and the secrets they’ve kept. They’ll need a lot of help, but in life, as in baseball, there’s always a chance–right up until the last out.


Title : Evvie Drake Starts Over
Author : Linda Holmes
Format : Paperback arc
Page Count : 304
Genre : Women’s fiction, romance
Publisher : Hodder Paperbacks
Release Date : June 25, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

Linda Holmes took a story that was rather ordinary and turned it into something quite special. Evvie Drake was like many women, many people; she didn’t feel good enough, she felt the guilt of life and her past and she was afraid to live and be happy.

Evvie had reasons for being this way, but she also had a lot of secrets, not the bank-robbing kind, but secrets that she didn’t tell anyone. Evvie was grieving and yet she felt that she wasn’t. She had lost her place in life, her autonomy and her sheer existence seemed about keeping an appearance of a widow and not hurting other people. The pacing of this story was perfection, as was the timeline. Nothing happened in an instant, time passed tangibly and the changes and evolution in her life were realistic. Evvie as a character was flawed and endearing.

Evvie had an amazing friendship with Andy, I loved how they were so genuinely there for one another. Everyone needs an Andy in their life, but their dynamic changed and that was pretty tough to read. Andy however, brought Dean, her tenant into her life. Dean was a uncomplicated man but he had some difficult problems to work through and he needed a break from New York. Small town Maine brought that escape for him. A slow friendship between these two developed and it was everything unputdownable. I devoured this storyline and these two together and apart. Their romance was one of the most believable stories I’ve read in a long time in contemporary fiction.

EVVIE DRAKE STARTS OVER is a debut, a fantastic one. Linda Holmes has shown in one book her ability to craft believable characters you want to read more about, pace the story with refinement and leave you unable to put the darn book down. I am going to be recommending this book all over because I believe it is that good. You don’t need to know any more than this is a book that needs and deserves to be read widely.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy.

DEAR MARTIN by Nic Stone 🎧

Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.

Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.


Title : Dear Martin
Author : Nic Stone
Narrator : Dion Graham
Format : Audio
Length : 4 hours 32 minutes
Genre : YA contemporary
Publisher : Listening Library
Release Date : October 17, 2017

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Many have said that DEAR MARTIN gives them THUG vibes, indeed Angie Thomas recommends this book. I get why, but this story is individual and unique. It starts with a young man in a hoodie, racially profiled and misunderstood. It continues with this young man, Justyce, trying to make sense of this situation and how to live his life with integrity through studying Martin Luther King’s writing. Justyce expressed his experiences through letters to ‘Martin’.

This is a short book and yet is it full; I felt like I had lived each minute with Justyce. The stories of injustice, grief and just trying to have fun and experience all the things he should be able to at 17-18 brought me to tears and anger. Justyce was a character who was endearing in his realness, just a teen, coming of age but a decent guy in all ways. He considered some stupid directions, he occasionally made stupid decisions but they were in the minority next to every good sense thing he did along the way. Just when I got comfortable, all hell broke lose.

The narration in this book by Dion Graham was beyond superb. A deep voice that was easy to listen to but also captured Justyce and his emotions exceptionally well.

DEAR MARTIN is one of those books that you have to read. I’d go so far as to say that all bookies, regardless of their genre leanings, would benefit from reading this. Let it sink to your bones and make you think.