Review: You Love Me (You #3) by Caroline Kepnes

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

The highly anticipated new thriller in Caroline Kepnes’s hit You series, now a blockbuster Netflix show…

Joe Goldberg is back. And he’s going to start a family – even if it kills him.

Joe Goldberg is done with cities, done with the muck and the posers, done with Love. Now, he’s saying hello to nature, to simple pleasures on a cozy island in the Pacific Northwest. For the first time in a long time, he can just breathe.

He gets a job at the local library – he does know a thing or two about books – and that’s where he meets her: Mary Kaye DiMarco. Librarian. Joe won’t meddle, he will not obsess. He’ll win her the old fashioned way… by providing a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand. Over time, they’ll both heal their wounds and begin their happily ever after in this sleepy town.

The trouble is… Mary Kaye already has a life. She’s a mother. She’s a friend. She’s… busy.

True love can only triumph if both people are willing to make room for the real thing. Joe cleared his decks. He’s ready. And hopefully, with his encouragement and undying support, Mary Kaye will do the right thing and make room for him.

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

You Love Me publishes April 6, 2021. 

I remember reading You, the first book in this series, years ago. It still stands out in my mind as being perhaps the most the most messed up book I’ve ever read. The writing was so different and Joe was so crazy that I was completely enthralled by it. I was excited to pick up the newest book in the series. It ended up feeling very reminiscent of the first book to me. But while You felt fresh and fascinating, You Love Me…didn’t.

This book just really felt like more of the same to me, but not as well done. It didn’t have that new, unique feel of the first book and it didn’t have the body count and actual plot development of the second book. It was a slow (and I mean slooooooooow) burn with a lack of payoff. Joe is still the same obsessives, but lovable, pyschopath, but slightly reformed. He doesn’t want to be quite so stalkerish with hew new love interest. He doesn’t want to “have to” kill anyone for her. He comes off as a knockoff version of himself from the previous books and the result was a pretty boring story.

I do want to make sure I point out that I’m still a Joe fan. The thing that this author does so well is putting us in Joe’s head and making his crazy behavior almost make sense. I make myself a little uncomfortable with how much I understand his thought process sometimes. So while the plot felt recycled and almost a little lazy, I did enjoy getting more Joe.

Overall, I found You Love Me pretty disappointing. While I always enjoy Joe, I never cared about any of the other characters and the story really dragged. While I do like that Kepnes tried to evolve his character by making him want to be a better man, I found myself wishing he would act a little crazier so something interesting would finally happen. While I definitely plan on continuing to watch the tv series whenever a new season comes out, I’m not sure if I’ll pick up the next book in the series.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Review: The Minders by John Marrs

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

“The new high concept thriller from the author of The Passengers and the word-of-mouth sensation The One, soon to be a Netflix original series. In the 21st century, information is king. But computers can be hacked and files can be broken into – so a unique government initiative has been born. Five ordinary people have been selected to become “minders” – the latest weapon in thwarting cyberterrorism. Transformed by a revolutionary medical procedure, the country’s most classified information has been taken offline and turned into genetic code implanted inside their heads. Together, the five know every secret – the truth behind every government lie, conspiracy theory and cover up. In return, they’re given the chance to leave their problems behind and a blank slate to start their lives anew. But not everyone should be trusted, especially when they each have secrets of their own they’ll do anything to protect…”

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

The Minders publishes February 16, 2021. 

This is why I can’t have nice things. I’ve heard so many great things about The Minders and I was excited to finally read it, my first John Marrs novel. Unfortunately, I did not find it to live up to any of the hype for me.

Let’s start with what I enjoyed. Going into the book, I was a little wary of the sci-fi elements and expected that to bring the story down for me, but it was actually my favorite part. Everything felt futuristic, but not that futuristic that it seemed unbelievable. A lot of it seemed like things that could still happen in my lifetime and that was kind of cool – and a little scary.

I thought the concept of the story was interesting and unique, but I ended up feeling really bored for most of it. The story is incredibly slow paced until the final third or so. It’s heavily character-driven, but I felt pretty ambivalent about all of them, which made it feel like a chore to get through. None of the characters were likeable and where there were a few sympathetic elements to all of them, I just never felt a connection to them. I almost DNF-ed the book several times, but the promises of crazy twists and suspense I kept reading in other reviews kept me going.

Sadly, I felt left down by the twists, as well. There were a few surprises that I didn’t guess beforehand, but most of the larger plot twists I predicted far in advance. I thought there were enough clues that anyone paying attention would guess them. Or even if you just read a lot of thrillers, you will probably be able figure it out. While the sci-fi backdrop felt unique, the actual execution of the plot seemed redundant.

Overall, The Minders was not for me. I liked the concept and the action did pick up in the last third or so of the book, but everything leading up to it was really boring to me. I didn’t care for the characters and I guessed a couple of the major plot twists long before there were revealed. While I didn’t really enjoy the story, I am obviously in the minority opinion, so it still may be worth checking it out.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Review: The Newlyweds by Arianne Richmonde

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

One marriage. One lie. Two sides to the story.

The moment Vivien meets Ashton, she knows she will be his wife and absolutely nothing will stop her.

Powerful, rich and from a good family, Ashton is everything Vivien is not. So, she molds herself into Ashton’s perfect soulmate.

Pouring his favorite vintage wine, whispering ‘I love you’ over dinner in front of friends and biting her tongue when she disagrees with him are simple sacrifices for the perfect marriage she has always craved.

When people begin to notice the bruises on her cheek, she holds their stares. There is no cry for help from Vivien. She simply keeps her mouth shut and lets the gossip continue.

If you saw Vivien nursing a black eye, you might be forgiven for thinking what everyone else does – that she is the victim in her marriage, but you’d be wrong. Vivien and Ashton’s life together is much more complicated than that. You will never guess the true story behind Vivien’s undying devotion to her husband. Nor could you possibly predict what she does next…

Perfect for fans of Gone Girl, Behind Closed Doors and The Perfect Couple. If you enjoy reading twisted psychological thrillers with bags of suspense, then you’ll love The Newlyweds from USA TODAY bestselling author Arianne Richmonde.

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

The Newlyweds publishes January 19, 2021. 

This is one of those books that sounded so intriguing in the synopsis, but the actual story failed to deliver. What should have been suspenseful and twisty came across as cliched and boring.

The first line of the synopsis mentions two sides to the story, so I was expecting Ashton’s POV at some point, but the story stayed in Vivien’s 1st person POV the whole time (though we do get a couple monologues from him in the final chapters). I think that even without the synopsis basically giving the whole plot away, I would’ve known very early on that Vivien is not what she appears to be. It made the first half of the book seem unbearably long. And the “big reveal” employed one of my least favorite narrative clichés – Vivien relays her whole backstory and scheme in a third person story that even begins with “once upon a time.” My eyes rolled so hard. Everything that happened after that was predictable and I’ll admit that I skimmed large parts of it just to make it to the end.

Overall, The Newlyweds was not for me. I was hoping for some fun cat-and-mouse type of suspense, but it all played out like a predictable Lifetime movie. I did like the setting, though. That and the fact that I actually felt compelled to finish the book and not DNF it, is why I’m giving this book 2 stars.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Review: Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

This story begins with a funeral. One of three brothers is dead, mourned by his siblings. But which one? And how? And, most importantly: why?

William, Brian, and Luke are each born a year apart in a lower middle class Catholic family in 1960s Dublin. William, the eldest, rises to the top of the heap in the film industry as a successful movie producer. Luke, the baby of the family, surprises everyone by morphing into a worldwide pop star. Brian, the compliant middle son, is the eternal adult in the room: the helpful, steady one, the manager of finances and careers.

But none of them is actually quite what he seems. Wounded by childhood, they have betrayed one another in myriad ways, hiding behind little lies that have developed into full blown treachery. With an unnerving eye for the complexities of families, Nugent delves into the secret life of a deeply troubled household and provides stunning insights into the many forces that shape us from childhood.

Hailed by #1 New York Times bestselling author A.J. Finn as “a dark jewel of a novel,” Liz Nugent’s new work of fiction follows three working class Irish brothers, and delves into the many ways families can wreak emotional havoc across generations.

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

Little Cruelties publishes November 10, 2020. 

I went into Little Cruelties expecting a psychological thriller and some suspense. Instead, I think this book is another case where Men’s Fiction should be a genre because if this same story was told with three sisters instead of three brothers, it would definitely fall under the Women’s Fiction category.

The story is told through the first person POVs of three brothers, Williams, Brian, and Luke. The book covers decades and swings around from one year to another in no organized fashion that I could discern. Before each brother’s section of chapters are short excerpts from an unknown brother’s view, discussing the funeral and aftermath of one of the other brother’s death. This is really the only bit of suspense in the whole book, though. The rest of the chapters don’t really even allude to someone being murdered, though they all certainly have the motives for it. We don’t find out which brother is dead until the final chapter and by then I was so fed up with these characters that I hardly even cared.

I always struggle with really character-driven books that feature such awful characters. There’s a small amount of sympathy for them because they had such a dysfunctional childhood, which carried into adulthood, but that excuse really only goes so far. Luke also gets a bit of a pass because of his mental health issues, but William and Brian were just straight up despicable. I didn’t enjoy reading about them and often wondered why I kept going. I think I kept hoping that there would either be redemption arcs or some real suspense would start to build. Neither happened.

Overall, Little Cruelties was not for me. I didn’t really ever care about the characters and I while I’m normally a fan of alternate timelines, the haphazard manner it jumped around here didn’t work for me. I also expected a lot more of a psychological thriller/suspense than family drama. However, I did think the first person POVS were well done and that’s why it’s getting two stars instead of one from me.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Review: Little Threats by Emily Schultz

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Both a taut whodunit and a haunting snapshot of the effects of a violent crime, Little Threats tells the story of a woman who served fifteen years in prison for murder…and now it’s time to find out if she’s guilty.

In the summer of 1993, twin sisters Kennedy and Carter Wynn are embracing the grunge era and testing every limit in their privileged Richmond suburb. But Kennedy’s teenage rebellion goes too far when, after a night of partying in the woods, her best friend, Haley, is murdered, and suspicion quickly falls upon Kennedy. She can’t remember anything about the night in question, and this, along with the damning testimony from a college boy who both Kennedy and Haley loved, is enough to force Kennedy to enter a guilty plea.

In 2008, Kennedy is released into a world that has moved on without her. Carter has grown distant as she questions Kennedy’s innocence, and begins a relationship with someone who could drive the sisters apart forever. The twins’ father, Gerry, is eager to protect the family’s secrets and fragile bonds. But Kennedy’s return brings the tragedy back to the surface, along with a whole new wave of media. When a crime show host comes to town asking questions, believing the murder wasn’t wasn’t as simple as it seemed, murky memories of Haley’s death come to light. As new suspects emerge and the suburban woods finally give up their secrets, two families may be destroyed again.

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

Little Threats publishes November 10, 2020. 

Based on that intriguing synopsis, I expected Little Threats to have a little more mystery and a little more thrills than it actually produced. Unfortunately, I just found it a little – maybe a lot – disappointing.

As I read this book, two words continually came to mind. Pretentious and Familiar. I can’t even count how many thrillers out there revolve around a character not being able to remember some violent and tragic event. It’s a cliché for a reason, though, right? Some books use it really effectively and some not so much. Also, the whole “poor little rich girl” thing. The girls who have every opportunity and advantage rebel against their privilege by doing inane things like shoplifting and drugs and dating bad boys. I’ve read it a hundred times before and I found myself just really bored for so much of the book. And the characters, with the exception of Everett, were truly awful. So much of the story is just them being in their own heads and the writing was so pretentious I couldn’t really take it seriously.

I found the mystery pretty underwhelming, as well. I read some reviews that talked about multiple twists throughout the story and a shocking ending and I didn’t get any of that. I thought it was predictable and completely lacked suspense.

Overall, Little Threats was not for me. I found the plot cliched, the writing pretentious and the pace extremely slow. The book was heavily character focused, which might have saved it if I had cared anything about them. Everett was the one character that came across as sympathetic, but again, this wasn’t enough to turn the book around for me. This isn’t one that I would recommend, but I have seen some good reviews on it, so it might just be me.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Review: Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

The author of the “rich, dark, and intricately twisted” (Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author) The Family Upstairs returns with another taut and white-knuckled thriller following a group of people whose lives shockingly intersect when a young woman disappears.

Owen Pick’s life is falling apart.

In his thirties, a virgin, and living in his aunt’s spare bedroom, he has just been suspended from his job as a geography teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct, which he strongly denies. Searching for professional advice online, he is inadvertently sucked into the dark world of incel—involuntary celibate—forums, where he meets the charismatic, mysterious, and sinister Bryn.

Across the street from Owen lives the Fours family, headed by mom Cate, a physiotherapist, and dad Roan, a child psychologist. But the Fours family have a bad feeling about their neighbor Owen. He’s a bit creepy and their teenaged daughter swears he followed her home from the train station one night.

Meanwhile, young Saffyre Maddox spent three years as a patient of Roan Fours. Feeling abandoned when their therapy ends, she searches for other ways to maintain her connection with him, following him in the shadows and learning more than she wanted to know about Roan and his family. Then, on Valentine’s night, Saffyre Maddox disappears—and the last person to see her alive is Owen Pick.

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

Invisible Girl publishes October 13, 2020. 

I’m a big fan of Lisa Jewell and oftentimes her books rate among my favorites of the year. Unfortunately, though, I did not really care for Invisible Girl. 

Let’s start with what I did like about this book. Jewell always takes a lot of care with character development and she continued to do it really well here. I felt like I got to know all of the characters. I also thought the three different POVs were used really effectively to create suspense.

While I felt like I got to know the characters, I didn’t really care about most of them. I thought Cate was shallow and judgmental, while she she lived in deep denial about her own life and relationship. I felt sad for what Saffyre went through as a child, but really nothing she did in the present made a bit of sense to me. And honestly I found most of her actions incredibly selfish – and some a big overreaction – and I’m upset that she didn’t face any consequences at all for what she’d done. Owen is the only character that I really felt something for. He made me really sad most of the time – and a few times a little disgusted. For the most part, though, Owen was very misunderstood. While we get to see him come to understand how he has misperceived others and how to work on himself, none of the people who frequently labeled him as creepy got the same education and that kind of disappointed me.

I also wasn’t a big fan of the whole incel plotline. It wasn’t as big a part of the plot as I thought it would be based on the synopsis and I was glad for that. But I felt like I wanted them explained a little bit more. While the people described are obviously hateful, I wondered if there was another side of the coin. It’s like when all people on the political left are grouped together with the far-left and all people on the political right are grouped together with the far-right. Not everyone is an extremist. I didn’t like that celibacy was only looked upon as something weird and creepy and not a valid lifestyle. Though, I do suppose these people are “involuntarily” celibate.

Overall, Invisible Girl just wasn’t for me. It took me well over half the book to really feel interested in the story and even then, I felt like there was a big lack of payoff because I didn’t care about most of the characters. However, I’m still a big Lisa Jewell fan and I will look forward to her next book.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars

Review: The Patient by Jasper DeWitt

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

The Silent Patient by way of Stephen King: Parker, a young, overconfident psychiatrist new to his job at a mental asylum, miscalculates catastrophically when he undertakes curing a mysterious and profoundly dangerous patient.

In a series of online posts, Parker H., a young psychiatrist, chronicles the harrowing account of his time working at a dreary mental hospital in New England. Through this internet message board, Parker hopes to communicate with the world his effort to cure one bewildering patient.

We learn, as Parker did on his first day at the hospital, of the facility’s most difficult, profoundly dangerous case—a forty-year-old man who was originally admitted to the hospital at age six. This patient has no known diagnosis. His symptoms seem to evolve over time. Every person who has attempted to treat him has been driven to madness or suicide.

Desperate and fearful, the hospital’s directors keep him strictly confined and allow minimal contact with staff for their own safety, convinced that releasing him would unleash catastrophe on the outside world. Parker, brilliant and overconfident, takes it upon himself to discover what ails this mystery patient and finally cure him. But from his first encounter with the mystery patient, things spiral out of control, and, facing a possibility beyond his wildest imaginings, Parker is forced to question everything he thought he knew.

Fans of Sarah Pinborough’s Behind Her Eyes and Paul Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of the World will be riveted by Jasper DeWitt’s astonishing debut.

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

The Patient publishes July 7, 2020.

Despite knowing that I have a hard time appreciating books that fall under the Horror genre, I thought the synopsis for The Patient sounded too intriguing to pass up. Unfortunately, it was just another book that proved this genre isn’t for me.

I just found the story really boring. I was not, at any point, even the smallest bit freaked out or spooked by what I read. I thought at the very least there would be a creepy atmosphere around the hospital, but I didn’t really get that. I thought the mystery surrounding Joe seemed interesting, but it was approached in such a clinical way at first, that it never felt scary. Even when the story morphed into something that was obviously supernatural, I was still just kind of bored with it. It did sometimes have some graphically gross descriptions, but gore doesn’t really make up for lack of suspense or thrills for me.

I also thought there was a real missed opportunity in the formatting of the story. Parker is supposed to be sharing his story in multiple online forum entries. He makes reference to people’s comments to his posts, but we don’t actually ever see those comments. I felt it would have lent some credibility to the format to include those. As it was, other than the date that begins each chapter and Parker explicitly stating at the beginning of each entry that he’s writing this on the internet, there’s nothing about the storytelling that makes it any different than a normal narrative.

Overall, The Patient was a letdown for me. It didn’t live up to it’s intriguing premise and I didn’t really understand the narrative choices. However, you should keep in mind that this isn’t really my genre and maybe die hard Horror fans will think differently.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic artistocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . .

From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes “a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror” (Kirkus Reviews) set in glamorous 1950s Mexico—“fans of classic novels like Jane Eyre and Rebecca are in for a suspenseful treat” (PopSugar).
After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

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

Mexican Gothic publishes June 30, 2020. 

Before I begin, can we all just take a moment to admire that beautiful cover? I’m not even a little sorry to admit that my desire to read Mexican Gothic was totally based on the cover. Unfortunately, it ended up being the only thing that really worked for me.

My lack of enjoyment of this book is mostly one me, though. I took “gothic” to mean a creepy and mysterious setting. Something along the lines of Jane Eyre (which is referenced in the synopsis). This is more “gothic horror”, though, which is definitely not my cup of tea. No matter how hard I try, I really struggle with being able to appreciate the horror genre, so keep that in mind with my review.

The story started out very slowly and I found it really hard to get through in the beginning. I was completely prepared to DNF it, but then I decided to give one more chapter a try and it started to pick up. I became mildly intrigued, but it never really hooked me. I found Neomi kind of shallow and spoiled and not very likable. She did grow on me as the story went on, though. I liked her growing friendship with Francis, who was the only other half-way likable character in the story.

I was hoping to experience a little more of Mexican culture than we got here, too. Despite taking place in Mexico, the story mostly takes place at the isolated house that was built in the English tradition. The Doyle family are also English and only one of them even speaks the language of the country they’ve immigrated to.

Lastly, the whole supernatural/horror part of the story just didn’t work for me. Again, this is probably more me and it might be fine for fans of the genre. I just rolled my eyes a bit and suffered through the explanations. I also found the climax of the story to be kind of predictable.

Overall, Mexican Gothic just wasn’t for me. I love that beautiful cover, but I was disappointed in the lack of Mexican culture and the whole horror plotline. I am, admittedly, not the right audience for this genre, though, so this might be worth the read for those that are.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Review: Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

The past seven years have been hard on Avery Abrams: After training her entire life to make the Olympic gymnastics team, a disastrous performance ended her athletic career for good. Her best friend and teammate, Jasmine, went on to become an Olympic champion, then committed the ultimate betrayal by marrying their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri.

Now, reeling from a breakup with her football star boyfriend, Avery returns to her Massachusetts hometown, where new coach Ryan asks her to help him train a promising young gymnast with Olympic aspirations. Despite her misgivings and worries about the memories it will evoke, Avery agrees. Back in the gym, she’s surprised to find sparks flying with Ryan. But when a shocking scandal in the gymnastics world breaks, it has shattering effects not only for the sport but also for Avery and her old friend Jasmine.

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

Head Over Heels publishes June 23, 2020. 

I always enjoy watching the Olympics and was pretty disappointed to hear that they are going to be postponed until next year. Head Over Heels looked like a good way to get a small Olympics fix in the mean time. However, it wasn’t really much more than that.

I was pretty bored throughout most of this book. I did enjoy the gymnastics included and reading about Hallie’s training routine as she prepared for the Olympic trials. I just wish there was a little more of an inside look. I feel like everything shared are things you can pick up by watching any of the countless features that play during the Olympics every year. There’s a lot more said about how hard gymnasts work than actually showing them working that hard.

I also never really cared about the romance. Avery and Ryan had crushes on each other as kids and their crushes have bled over into adulthood and they get together fairly quickly. I didn’t feel invested in their relationship at all, so when things went poorly and then got better, I just didn’t care. They could have ended the books as just friends and I wouldn’t have minded.

I expected a lot more to be said about the sexual abuse scandal, as well. It follows a lot of what happened in real life, just with fictional names. The doctor that is accused is one that made Hallie feel uncomfortable once, but thankfully nothing more than that happened with her. There’s a lot of talk about backlash online and a hearing scheduled for the doctor, but no type of resolution. I felt like from the synopsis this would be a major part of the plot, but it mostly stayed in the background. Avery and her old training partner come together to create a foundation to help the mental and emotional health of gymnasts and even that is barely addressed.

Overall, Head over Heels was not really for me. I would have liked for things to be more developed. It felt like just the bare minimum was done in terms of character development, relationship development, gymnastic research, and #MeToo details. What should have been interesting and emotional came off as boring and superficial. This is the second book I’ve tried by this author and I think it will probably be my last.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Review: Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

When their foster-turned-adoptive mother suddenly dies, four brothers struggle to keep open the doors of her beloved Harlem knitting shop, while dealing with life and love in Harlem.

Jesse Strong is known for two things: his devotion to his adoptive mom, Mama Joy, and his reputation for breaking hearts in Harlem. When Mama Joy unexpectedly passes away, he and his brothers have different plans on what to do with Strong Knits, their neighborhood knitting store: Jesse wants to keep the store open; his brothers want to shut it down.

Jesse makes an impassioned plea to Kerry Fuller, his childhood friend who has had a crush on him her entire life, to help him figure out how to run the business. Kerry agrees to help him reinvent the store and show him the knitty-gritty of the business, but the more time they spend together, the more the chemistry builds. Kerry, knowing Jesse’s history, doesn’t believe this relationship will exist longer than one can knit one, purl one. But Jesse is determined to prove to her that he can be the man for her—after all, real men knit.

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

Real Men Knit publishes May 19, 2020. 

I have to admit that I wanted to like this book much more than I actually liked it. The synopsis sounded cute and I liked that there was a diverse cast. I was looking forward to some fun family dynamics between the brothers, too. Unfortunately, I found everything that happened really lackluster.

I wasn’t very impressed with the writing, though it did get better as it went on. The first couple chapters were extremely heavy on the internal monologues that set up the story was a massive info dump of characters and circumstances. I would have liked to have seen things start out a little more naturally and get to know the characters in a more authentic way. After two chapters I almost decided to DNF it since I knew I couldn’t take a whole book written in this way. However, I kept reading and it got a little better. There were still some parts where I skimmed when things got a little dense, but it became much easier to read.

While I liked Jesse and Kelly well enough, all the other characters were pretty one-dimensional. I was really looking forward to seeing the relationship between the brothers, but it was pretty underwhelming. I had a hard time even telling some of them apart. I expected to see them bond and come together as they grieved the passing of their mother, but that didn’t really happen. I felt like there was so much potential there and it just didn’t live up to it.

Overall, Real Men Knit left me underwhelmed. I really wanted to like it, but poor character development and a writing style I didn’t connect with kept me from really enjoying it. There were a few funny or cute moments, but they were too few and far between to make up for the rest of the story. While the book wasn’t for me, I’m sure there will be some others than can overlook the issues I had with it and enjoy the romance.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars