Review: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters—in faith, in love, and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp—one for troubled kids—Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?

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

The Names They Gave Us will be available May 16, 2017.

When I think of Emery Lord books, I think of trying too hard.  Even though I’ve liked some of her other books (especially The Start of Me and You), I always feel like she just tries way too hard to be deep and meaningful. It comes across a little self-indulgent and melodramatic to me. While this book did have cute, funny, and even poignant moments, it still felt like it was trying too hard.

I felt like I should’ve found Lucy really relatable (pastor kids unite!), but I never fully connected with her. She was a mostly likable character, though. I mostly liked her group of friends at camp, though I wish they would’ve been developed just a bit more. I did really love Jones, Lucy’s new love interest. He was so sweet and I enjoyed pretty much every scene he was in. I also liked the camp setting and the kids there.

I have heard from people who are hesitant about this book because there is some religious content. If you are one of those people, I would say you might be slightly annoyed at times, but I don’t think it’s written in a way that will “ruin” the book for you. I have also heard from people who were very happy to see a “realistic” Christian character not be a complete psycho. To those people I would caution to not get too excited. Yes, the main character comes from a religious background and is not awful. However, this is NOT a Christian book and the overall message is not of Christian faith. There are definitely a few themes throughout that is congruent with the Christian faith, but at the end of the day the message is more one of universalism and the goodness of people. I mean, it’s still a hopeful message and is more than is in most YA, but I just want to caution my Christian friends.

Overall, The Names They Gave Us, was just ok for me. I felt like it was too long for what little was going on and a little repetitive and then it had a pretty abrupt ending. I did really enjoy Lucy and Jones’ slow burn romance, though. I think that Emery Lord fans will probably still enjoy it.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars

Review: Seeking Mansfield by Kate Watson

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Sixteen-year-old Finley Price has perfected two things: how to direct a world-class production, and how to fly way, way under the radar. The only person who ever seems to notice Finley is her best friend, the Bertram’s son Oliver. If she could just take Oliver’s constant encouragement to heart and step out of the shadows, she’d finally chase her dream of joining the prestigious Mansfield Theater.

When teen movie stars Emma and Harlan Crawford move next door to the Bertram’s, they immediately set their sights on Oliver and his cunning sister, Juliette, shaking up Finley and Oliver’s stable friendship. As Emma and Oliver grow closer, Harlan finds his attention shifting from Juliette to the quiet, enigmatic, and thoroughly unimpressed Finley. Out of boredom, Harlan decides to make her fall in love with him. Problem is, the harder he seeks to win her, the harder he falls for her.

But Finley doesn’t want to be won, and she doesn’t want to see Oliver with anyone else. To claim Oliver’s heart—and keep her own—she’ll have to find the courage to do what she fears most: step into the spotlight.

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

Seeking Mansfield will be available 5/16/17.

I love a good Jane Austen re-telling and I haven’t read any based on Mansfield Park, so picking this book up was a no brainer. It’s been such a long time since I read Mansfield Park that I can’t really comment on how faithful it is to the source material. I do know that the basic structure of it is similar and reading this made me really want to go back and re-read Mansfield Park.

I really liked both Finley and Oliver. I loved their friendship and how they always supported each other. I loved the slow burn romance between them, too. We get both of their POVs throughout the story. Normally when we get dual POVs and find out that both characters have feelings for each other that they think are unrequited it drives me crazy. It often takes away a lot of the tension. However, I really enjoyed getting both perspectives here. I think that I could have ended up disliking Oliver a bit without his thought process of how he was justifying his actions. Instead I thought he was pretty adorable, even if he frustrated me at times.

I loved “uncle” Thomas and how the parents in this book were present. There were consequences for bad behavior and guidance when needed. I thought the other side characters – Harlan and Emma Crawford (Hollywood actors and new neighbors) and Tate and Juliette (Oliver’s brother and sister) were all fairly well developed, though I would’ve liked a little more of Oliver’s siblings. From what I remember of the Crawfords from Mansfield Park I thought Harlan and Emma were really well done, though maybe a little more likable here (but don’t worry, not that likable).

I thought the writing was kind of addictive. Even though it was a pretty character-driven plot and the pace was a little on the slow side, I just didn’t want to stop reading it. My only real complaint is that it got a little too teen-angsty for me at times.

Overall, I really enjoying Seeking Mansfield. I liked the characters and the romance and the message of self-worth and standing up for yourself. It was an easy and addicting read. Though I thought the middle of the story dragged a little bit with too much teen angst, it did pick back up and I really enjoyed it. I think fans of Mansfield Park would be happy to read this re-telling, as would YA Contemporary fans.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

4 stars

April 2017 Recap


In April my niece turned 2 and we all went to Canada to celebrate. I can’t believe how much she’s grown since we saw her last summer. It unfortunately took a little while for her to warm up to us – and she seemed to have to start over again every morning or after every nap, but we still had lots of fun with her. The rest of April seemed to pass by in a blur. Work gets steadily more depressing. I finally updated my resume and applied for a new job, but I got an e-mail the following day saying they weren’t interested in “pursuing my candidacy”.  Oh, well.

Books Read: 10

Adult: 8
YA: 2

Favorite Book I Read This Month:

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Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter. 4 Stars. Review coming in June.

Books Reviewed: 5

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett – 3.5/5 Stars

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda – 3.5/5 Stars

One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline – 4/5 Stars

A Different Blue by Amy Harmon – 3.5/5 Stars

I Found You by Lisa Jewell – 4/5 Stars

Books Read in 2017 Overall: 48

Funny Fridays:

Hilarious book humor you'll understand if you have "too many" books.:

April 7

10 Images You’ll Understand If You Only Want Books for Christmas:

April 14

Life without books is like an unsharpened pencil ... it has no point.:

April 21

Other Posts:

Disney Princess Book Tag

Happy Easter

Top Ten Tuesday: Things that will make me instantly want to read a book

Top Ten Tuesday: Things that will make me instantly NOT want to read a book

Top 5 Wednesday: Authors I Want to Read More From

Reviewing the Unreviewed: April 2017

Book News

Lux spin-off series by JLA announced

As I predicted in my review of Opposition (the last Lux series book), Luc is getting his Origins spin-off! It’s a 3 book deal with the first installment coming out Fall of 2018. I’m super excited to see some Daemon and Katy cameos.

Famous in Love tv show debuts

I read Famous in Love when I heard it was being adapted to tv. Though I had my issues, I enjoyed the book (not so much the second one). So the show aired and…it’s awful. Awful acting. Awful casting. Awful plot changes. I decided not to watch it again, but then it was announced that the whole season was available on demand, in addition to it’s weekly airings, so I thought I’d go ahead and give it another try and binge it. It’s kind of the trainwreck you can’t look away from. I feel like I could rant about all the changes it made from the books, so I might do a post about it soon.

More Shatter Me books

When I finished Ignite Me, I was happy with the ending, but I thought there could be more story to tell. Turns out I was right, because there are three more books coming to the Shatter Me series. And to really get you excited about it, they will be told in dual POV between Juliette AND Warner. Let the swooning begin.

Looking Forward to May:

My reviews for Seeking Mansfield and The Names They Gave Us will post (one is pretty favorable, the other not so much). There are a few books being published that I’m looking forward to: When Dimple met Rishi, Flame in the Mist, A Court of Wings and Ruin, and Sons of Ares. Looks like it’s going to be a good month for YA.

Reviewing the Unreviewed: April 2017

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads.

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The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond. Read April 1-2. 4 Stars.

I really enjoyed The Marriage Pact. Though it started out a little slow for me and did get bogged down in the details a bit, for the most part it was well-paced and seriously creepy. I had fallen into a book slump before I started this and it definitely pulled me out. This is my first Michelle Richmond book and I’ll definitely be reading more from her. Full review to come.

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I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh.  Read April 8-10. 3 Stars.

After all the glowing reviews and everyone saying this book was better than Mackintosh’s I See You (which I read first and really enjoyed), I had very high expectations going into this. Unfortunately, they weren’t quite met. Part One of this book was sooooo slow. If it wasn’t for all the good reviews, I may have given up on it. I didn’t really care for Jenna’s POV until closer to the end of Part One and while I liked Ray’s POV, he started to really make me angry. However, it definitely got more interesting in Part Two. I liked the reveal right before Part Two. I knew a twist was coming and I had a few guesses and one of my them was about half right. I knew there was another twist coming and I did figure it out before the reveal, but that’s ok. Overall this was a good book, but it did not live up to my expectations.

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Marrying His Best Friend (The McKinnon Brothers #3) by Jennifer Gracen. Read April 9-11. 3 Stars.

A very cute Friends-to-More/Marriage of Convenience story. I loved, loved Aiden. He was so sweet. This was well on it’s way to being a 4 star read for me, but then Maura started acting like an idiot and I couldn’t stand her for awhile so it definitely brought my overall feelings about the book down. It was still, cute, though. This was a free Nookbook (and is probably on Kindle too?) and I’m glad I actually read it instead of letting it sit for years untouched on my Nook, like most other free downloads do.

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The Girlfriend Request by Jodie Andrefski. Read April 13-14. 3 Stars.

I reject the premise of this book. Emma basically decides to catfish Eli with the end goal being Eli asking her out. Ummm, ok. There was also a kind of random love triangle thrown in towards the end of the book that was kind of pointless. All of Eli and Emma’s friends existed for the sole purpose of advancing the Eli/Emma relationship. Despite all those problems, though, there were still several cute moments and I did like Emma and Eli together once they stopped being stupid. I liked their friendship, as well. I appreciated that this was a pretty clean YA Contemporary. Overall, this was a quick, easy read that provided the distraction I was looking for.

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Driven to Date (Better Date than Never #7) by Susan Hatler. Read April 15. 3 Stars.

I’ve had this book on my Nook forever and finally decided to read it today when nothing else was working for me. It was a workplace romance with a bit of a mix of fake-relationship, insta-love, and enemies-to-lovers. It was short and sweet with likable characters and I’ll be reading some of the other books from this series that have also been sitting on my Nook for awhile.

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Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer. Read April 16-17. 3.5 Stars.

It took me a little while to get into this. I didn’t really care for either Juliet or Declan in the beginning. I’m an avoidant people pleaser, so I can’t really relate to angry, confrontational characters. However, as the story went on I became more invested in the characters and the story. The chapters alternate between Declan and Juliet’s POVs and I have to say that I enjoyed Declan’s chapters a lot more. While I liked the relationship between Declan and Juliet, it was the friendship between Declan and Rev that really made this book for me. I loved their interactions and how supportive of each other they were. I also really liked Frank, Declan’s “supervisor”, and a couple of the teachers. This was not as emotional as I was expecting it to be (that isn’t really a bad thing, though). Overall, a good book, but not my favorite of Kemmerer’s.

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The Thousand Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1) by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham. Listened to April 19-24. 4 Stars.

I listened to this on audio and even though the book would be good on it’s own, Kristen Bell’s narration just made it amazing. I loved the show and listening to this book was almost like watching an episode. I thought the mystery was well done and it definitely kept me guessing. A must-read (or listen) for all Veronica Mars fans.

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Arrowood by Laura McHugh. Read April 25-27. 2.5 Stars.

I feel a little bad for rating this under 3 stars because the writing wasn’t bad (though much too descriptive for me), but when I finished the book my first thought was, “That was a waste of time.” The chapters were long and the pace was slow and it took well over half way through for me to really get interested in the story. The solution to the mystery wasn’t really a surprise at all and I thought the reveal wasn’t very well done. The characters could have used a little more development, but I didn’t mind Arden and I liked Josh. If you’re really into description and some light history you would probably enjoy this more than I did, but if you’re looking for a good mystery or suspense I would say to look somewhere else.

****************RE-READ****************

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Breaking Silence (Kate Burkholder #3) by Linda Castillo. I listened to most of this on audio on the drive home from vacation and I couldn’t remember all the details of the conclusion, so I had to read the rest as soon as I could. This was a good mystery. I really like this series.

****************BACK ON THE TBR****************

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Nemesis by Brendan Reichs. I got almost half way through this and just don’t care about it. It might just be my mood, though, so I’m putting it back on the TBR to read another day.

****************DNF****************

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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. DNF at 38%. When I first saw this book I didn’t think it looked like my cup of tea. But then I saw it was Taylor Jenkins Reid and I thought, “yes, please.” Sadly, I should’ve gone with my first instinct. I pretty much hated Evelyn – both in the present and the past. I felt a little sorry for her as a young girl, but then she grew up into an awful person who did awful things and was not the least bit sorry about it. Now, I can read and enjoy books that have unlikable characters. But I either have to love to hate them or they have to have some type of redeeming quality and I felt like both of those aspects were missing here. I also didn’t really find Monique developed enough to care about one way or the other, but by the time I stopped reading I was growing to dislike her a bit. I’m sure there will be many people who like this book, but unfortunately I’m not one of them.

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The Replacement Crush by Lisa Brown Roberts. DNF at 12%. I have absolutely no patience whatsoever for Vivian.

Top 5 Wednesday: Authors I Want to Read More From

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday (visit the Good Reads group here) is: Authors You Want to Read More From –Talk about some authors that you’ve only read one or a few books from, and you NEED to read more!

Lisa Jewell

1. Lisa Jewell. I’ve read The Girls in the Garden and I Found You and really liked both of them. I love Jewell’s writing and I really need to read more from her.

Lisa Scottoline

2. Lisa Scottoline. I recently read One Perfect Lie and I really want to go back and read some of her others.

Michelle Richmond

3. Michelle Richmond. I’ve only read The Marriage Pact by her so far and I really want to see what else she’s done.

Amy Harmon

4. Amy Harmon. I’ve read Making Faces, The Law of Moses, The Song of David, and A Different Blue. Making Faces was by far my favorite and the other ones didn’t quite live up to that one for me, but I do really enjoy her writing and need to read the rest of her books.
Sarah Addison Allen
5. Sarah Addison Allen. I’ve read Garden Spells and First Frost and they were both 4 star reads for me. I really need to get to some of her other titles.

What authors do you want to read more from?