Review: Wedding Date Rescue (Fire and Sparks #1) by Sonya Weiss

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

As a Firefighter, Kent Wakefield has been burned before, and not just by fire. So when Casey Bradford, his best friend’s off-limits, gorgeous little sister, asks him to be her fake boyfriend, he flat out refuses. He doesn’t do relationships, real or otherwise. But when his well-meaning, marriage-pushing mother corners him about his cousin’s wedding, he panics and tells her he has a date.

After being left at the altar, Casey is out of options. She needs a boyfriend ASAP or she can kiss her dreams good-bye. Who better than her brother’s emotionally unavailable best friend, Kent. She may have nursed a childhood crush, but this arrangement will be purely platonic…that is until he kisses her and suddenly it gets a lot harder to remember it’s all pretend.

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Wedding Date Rescue will be available February 27, 2017.

After reading a pretty heavy, emotional book I really needed something light and fun and Wedding Date Rescue was exactly that. Casey is a professional matchmaker who was recently left at the altar. Her business is declining and her investors are worried. It’s suggested that she find a new man and quick – even if it’s just for show – so her investors don’t lose faith. She decides her relationship-phobic friend, Kent, is just the guy for the job, but he’s resistant. However, with his ex-girlfriend coming back to town and his mother pushing every eligible woman she find in his direction he decides the fake relationship with Casey could work.

I really liked both Casey and Kent. I liked their friendship and how they could joke with each other. The fake relationship trope is my favorite romance subject and I thought theirs was done pretty well. I enjoyed watching as each fake outing and kiss developed more and more into real feelings. Their relationship was really cute.

I wish we would’ve gotten a little more background information on them, though. We know that Casey was left at the altar and that her ex-fiancé, Dominic, was a friend before they started dating, but we never find out how they got together or why they didn’t work out. We find out Kent had been in an accident while working as a firefighter and the fallout included one of his friends dying and his girlfriend dumping him. But we don’t really get much information about his injuries or what his relationship with his ex was like. The whole thing seemed just kind of thrown in for an added bit of a drama and I thought it could have been a lot more explored.

Overall, though, I enjoyed Wedding Date Rescue. I liked the characters and the romance. It was light and fun and just what I needed right now. I definitely recommend it to fans of fake relationship storylines.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

3.5 stars

Review: The Young Wives Club by Julie Pennell

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

In Toulouse, Louisiana finding your one true love happens sometime around high school. If you’re lucky, he might be the man you thought he was. But as four friends are about to find out, not every girl has luck on her side in this charming debut novel perfect for fans of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Desperate Housewives.

Laura Landry’s quarterback husband was her ticket out of Toulouse. But when a devastating football injury sidelines him, they’re forced to move back to the small town she was so desperate to leave. As Brian starts drinking instead of rehabbing his knee, Laura must reevaluate what her future looks like…and if it includes her husband.

For years, Madison Blanchette has been waiting for bad-boy musician Cash Romero to commit to her. When wealthy George Dubois asks her out, she figures she may as well wait in style. Life with George means weekend trips to New Orleans, gourmet meals, and expensive gifts. At first she loves how George’s affection sparks Cash’s jealousy, but when George proposes to Madison, she finds herself torn between two men…

All Claire Thibodeaux wants is to be the perfect wife and mother. If she can do everything right she won’t end up like her mom, a divorced, single parent trying to make ends meet. But when Claire’s husband Gavin, a well-respected local pastor, starts spending late nights at work and less time in their bed, she can’t help but fear that history is about to repeat itself…

Gabrielle Vaughn never thought she’d end up with someone like her fiancé. The son of a prominent congressman, Tony Ford is completely out of her league—which is why she lied to him about everything from having a college degree to the dark truth about her family. She knows she has to come clean, but how do you tell the love of your life that your entire relationship is a lie?

As these young wives come together to help each other through life, love, and heartbreak, they discover that there are no easy answers when it comes to matters of the heart.

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

The Young Wives Club will be available February 14, 2017.

I had such a hard time putting this book down! It’s a really character-driven story about friendship and relationships and learning from your mistakes. The chapters switch POV between four young women and the relationship and life troubles they face.

*While I don’t consider any of the below descriptions a spoiler, some readers might find it mildly spoiler-ish, so proceed with caution*

Gabrielle

Gabrielle was probably my favorite of the bunch. However, her problem is one of my pet peeves in books, which is when one simple conversation could solve all the problems, but that conversation doesn’t come until close to the end of the book. Gabby has had a hard life and when she meets a nice, cute guy in a bar she lies a little about her life. (I loved Tony, by the way. He was so sweet and pretty much just the perfect guy – I was just waiting for him to do something awful because no guy can be that great.) She doesn’t expect to see him again, but she does and they fall in love and the lies spin out of control. The truth about Gabby, obviously, has to come out some time, though. I still didn’t like how Gabby handled it, but I did like how it all resolved in the end.

Madison

Madison was probably the hardest of the girls for me to like. She was one of the youngest, recently graduated from high school, and had the most growing up to do. She’s in a non-committed relationship with the clichéd bad boy musician, has no real future goals, her dad has recently been diagnosed with cancer, and her family is approaching financial crisis. When her dad’s former boss, George, comes to visit and shows a bit of an interest in her, she decides to milk it. While they both know what she’s doing, it still came across as a little too manipulative to me. But on the other hand, George is in his early thirties so I can’t feel too bad for what he puts himself through by pursuing a teenaged girl.

While Madison was probably the most selfish character of the group, she did grow up a little as the story went on. I did really like her close relationship with her father. I also liked how her relationship with George ended up.

Claire

I really wanted to like Claire and I did for the most part, but I just didn’t respect her for so much of the story. She is the wife of a pastor, who is running a mega-church, even though he’s in his very early twenties. Claire is also very involved in the church. When she finds out that Gavin is doing very un-pastor-like things, she doesn’t confront him, but starts to question what she did wrong and then blames a third party, as well. When the confrontation finally comes with Gavin I still wasn’t satisfied with it. There was very little emphasis about what this meant to his job as a pastor or to their church or the members of the congregation. In fact, we never even find out if there’s any fall out, other than what it means to their marriage. I’m just disappointed that once again the Christian faith is so poorly misrepresented in mainstream fiction.

Laura

Laura dropped out of high school to marry and follow her football star boyfriend to college. She’s planned her whole life around him becoming a professional player, but all that is put in jeopardy when he gets hurt and they have to move back home with his parents. Laura is another character who had so much growing up to do and I think she made the most progress. She decided to go back to high school and get her diploma. While there she befriends a new guy who challenges her academically and makes her really start to consider having her own goals and not just following Brian’s. Though she wasn’t my favorite of the girls, her story arc was. Not everything turns out perfectly, but it seemed the most realistic and I was really proud of all she learned.

Overall

Overall, I really enjoyed The Young Wives Club (and it’s gorgeous cover!). It’s a well-written, character-driven story that I could hardly put down. Though the characters weren’t always very likable, I really appreciated how much growth all of them showed throughout the book. I also really liked that things didn’t just magically work out for all of them, but they had to work at it and learn to be ok if things in their life turned out a little differently than they expected. I definitely recommend this to fans of character-driven novels.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

4 stars

Book Blogger Insider Tag

Stephanies Book Reviews Header

I was tagged for this Book Blogger Insider Tag by Deanna at A Novel Glimpse (she’s awesome, go check her out!). Feel free to tag yourself if you would like.

1. Where do you typically write your blog posts?

On my living room couch.

2. How long does it generally take you to write a book review?

I would say probably about 20 minutes or so, depending on the book. Some (few) are easy to write and all my thoughts just come pouring out and I have to reign myself in, but most times I have to try really hard to make something at least halfway coherent.

3. When did you start your book blog?

July 2013

4. What is the worst thing about having a book blog in your opinion?

The times when I don’t feel inspired to write anything, but feel pressure to post something anyways. I’ve come a long way in getting over that, though.

5. What is the best thing about having a book blog in your opinion?

Finding some great blogger friends and discovering new books. There are so many great books I never would have read if not for book blogs. 

6. What blog post have you had the most fun writing so far?

I’m not really sure. I do enjoy writing discussion posts when there is feedback on them, but they are pretty few and far between.

7. What is your favorite type of blog post to write?

Reviews of books I really loved. Sometimes it’s hard to put into words why I loved it, but I think my enthusiasm usually comes across and I love hearing people say they want to read the book because of it.

8. When do you typically write?

Usually sometime in the evening after work. Occasionally on the weekend.

9. Do you review every book you read?

Not technically. I’ll still write a little something on Good Reads if I don’t do a full review and I’ll share all of those in a monthly post called “Reviewing the Unreviewed“, but there are usually more books in that post than reviews written in a month.

10. How do you write your book reviews? With a cup of coffee or tea? With Netflix? Cuddled with your fur baby?

The tv is almost always on in the background.

11. When do you write your book reviews? Right after finishing the book? Two weeks after finishing the book?

I have to do them right away. I like to start a new book as soon as soon as I finish one and I don’t want there to be any overlap in my bookish thoughts.

12. How often do you post?

I do a “Funny Friday” post ever Friday, but other than that it depends on my mood and if the books I’ve read were ones I wanted to review.

Review: Making Faces by Amy Harmon

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Ambrose Young was beautiful. He was tall and muscular, with hair that touched his shoulders and eyes that burned right through you. The kind of beautiful that graced the covers of romance novels, and Fern Taylor would know. She’d been reading them since she was thirteen. But maybe because he was so beautiful he was never someone Fern thought she could have…until he wasn’t beautiful anymore.

Making Faces is the story of a small town where five young men go off to war, and only one comes back. It is the story of loss. Collective loss, individual loss, loss of beauty, loss of life, loss of identity. It is the tale of one girl’s love for a broken boy, and a wounded warrior’s love for an unremarkable girl. This is a story of friendship that overcomes heartache, heroism that defies the common definitions, and a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast where we discover that there is little beauty and a little beast in all of us.

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

The paperback edition with be available 2/21/17.

I don’t really know what I was expected from Making Faces, but the emotional tornado I lived through while reading it definitely wasn’t it. This book is incredibly heartbreaking. But, it is also incredibly hopeful. Incredibly beautiful.

I found so much of this book really relatable. Like the characters, I was a senior in high school when the 9/11 terrorist attacks happened. I remember sitting in Physics class watching as one of the towers collapsed. I also really related to Fern’s awkwardness and insecurity issues. And how, as a child of a pastor, you know that when the phone rings at an odd hour something bad has happened.

I think my very favorite thing about this book is that it positively portrayed Christian characters and the Christian faith. So often in mainstream fiction Christian characters are portrayed as wackos or extreme hypocrites. That is not the case here. Fern is kind and loving and not at all judgmental. Scripture is shared and not mocked. There is also a great message of having faith in God’s timing and His plan, even when you can’t possibly understand them. This all worked really organically within the story and never felt like you were being “preached” at, if that’s something that bothers you. I can’t even begin to explain how much I appreciate this aspect of the book.

I obviously shipped Ambrose and Fern. I really liked how their relationship developed and how they also grew as characters – and felt like there was so much more to them than just a romance. One major character that’s really central to the story and isn’t mentioned in the synopsis is Bailey. Bailey is Fern’s cousin and best friend and the son of Ambrose’s wrestling coach. He has muscular dystrophy and is confined to a wheelchair. People with muscular dystrophy do not have very long life expectancies, but Bailey has such an amazing attitude. He tries to live life to the fullest every day and do as much as he can. He has a great sense of humor. He loves his family and friends and Fern and wrestling. He was such an amazing character and one that turned me into a blubbering mess while reading.

There were only a couple of things I didn’t like. There were several times the flashbacks seemed to come out of the blue. While in most cases there was a definite separation between present and past, there were a couple other times where it just randomly switched from one paragraph to the next and it was a little jarring. Perhaps this is just a formatting issue with the ARC, though? I also did not really like the character Rita. I felt like she was so selfish and that she wasn’t so much developed as her own character, but as more of a catalyst for storylines involving Fern and Bailey.

The  paperback copy includes bonus content, which is two interviews between Ambrose and ESPN – one during his senior year in high school and one that takes place sometime between the final chapter and the epilogue. I really liked both of them and the extra bit of insight it gives into Ambrose.

Overall, I just loved Making Faces. It’s not a light book. It hurt to read at times. But it was beautifully written and included some amazing characters and really important messages. I really don’t think I can recommend this book enough. I’m definitely going to be looking up other books by this author in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4.5 Stars

4.5 stars