Review: By the Book by Julia Sonneborn

35297218

Synopsis from Good Reads:

An English professor struggling for tenure discovers that her ex-fiancé has just become the president of her college—and her new boss—in this whip-smart modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic Persuasion.

Anne Corey is about to get schooled.

An English professor in California, she’s determined to score a position on the coveted tenure track at her college. All she’s got to do is get a book deal, snag a promotion, and boom! She’s in. But then Adam Martinez—her first love and ex-fiancé—shows up as the college’s new president.

Anne should be able to keep herself distracted. After all, she’s got a book to write, an aging father to take care of, and a new romance developing with the college’s insanely hot writer-in-residence. But no matter where she turns, there’s Adam, as smart and sexy as ever. As the school year advances and her long-buried feelings begin to resurface, Anne begins to wonder whether she just might get a second chance at love.

Funny, smart, and full of heart, this modern ode to Jane Austen’s classic explores what happens when we run into the demons of our past…and when they turn out not to be so bad, after all.

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

By the Book will be available February 6, 2018.

Persuasion is one of my favorite Jane Austen novels and I am always ready to jump on board a re-telling. Unfortunately, By the Book did not really live up to my expectations.

One thing that I thought was really odd for a re-telling is that the main character, Anne, is a college lit professor and teaches on authors such as Jane Austen. Also, Anne’s favorite book is Persuasion. I have never seen the actual source material referenced in a re-telling. At first I thought maybe it was just going to be really meta or something, but Anne never references how her life is paralleling her favorite novel. To be fair, though, there were very few instances that really resembled it.

The Anne of this book was not nearly as likable as Anne from Persuasion. She was short tempered and kind of whiney. I did not like her best friend, Larry, at all. He was very over-dramatic and he was also having an affair with a closeted married man. Anne was friends with that man’s wife and she didn’t seem to find anything wrong with what Larry was doing and the whole storyline very greatly frustrated me. Anne dates an author and fellow visiting professor, Rick, for most of the book and he was another awful person. The only character I really liked was Adam (our Captain Wentworth). He never really did anything wrong the whole book and in my opinion was way too good for Anne.

Overall, I found By the Book really disappointing. I didn’t think there were enough recognizable parts from Persuasion that I like to see in re-tellings and just couldn’t get over how odd it was that Jane Austen and the actual book were referenced so often. I’m adding an extra half-star to my rating, though, because the writing itself wasn’t that bad and it did include a version of my favorite part of Persuasion– the letter.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars

Advertisements

Review: Bargaining with the Boss (It Happened One Night #1) by Jennifer Shirk

36700513

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Kinsley just wanted to have some fun for a change. Then she wakes up in a stranger’s bed, with her bridesmaid dress on backward and a hazy memory of what happened at her friend’s wedding. With a quick escape, she can get back to her predictable life. But then she meets her new boss—the same guy she’d woken up next to—and seeing him with a clear head doesn’t make him any less attractive.

Mixing business with pleasure has never been Damon’s style, and easily avoided, but the hotel he just bought comes with an unexpected perk—its manager. “Sensible” Kinsley today is as alluring as “impulsive” Kinsley was the night before, and she talks him into a deal. If she can turn around the hotel by the end of summer, he won’t tear it down to put up more profitable condominiums.

Their plan is simple…until falling for each other becomes more than they bargained for.

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

Bargaining with the Boss will be available 1/15/18. 

Whenever I’m in the mood for a sweet romance I know that Jennifer Shirk will deliver. I’ve enjoyed several of her books and Bargaining with the Boss is no exception.

I was a little nervous about this one at first based on the synopsis. If you are familiar with my reviews at all, you know that I don’t like the graphic stuff in my romance books and I was a little afraid this one would have more content than Shirk’s previous books. Thankfully, not everything is what it seems. Romance fans who prefer sweet and swoony to hot and heavy will definitely appreciate this one.

I liked both Kinsley and Damon. I liked how their working relationship was highlighted, along with the romance. I thought they worked really well together and I liked to see them become friends first instead of jumping straight into a relationship. I also liked Kinsley’s brother, Wade, and wish we would’ve got a little more of him.

Overall, I enjoyed Bargaining with the Boss. I liked how sweet the romance was, the characters, and the humor. The only thing I didn’t really like was that I thought the pace was a little on the slower side. It took me a little while to get into the story because I didn’t feel like there was much happening. I’m looking forward to reading more from Shirk.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: Shoot the Moon (Seeking Mansfield #2) by Kate Watson

36026667

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Despite what his brother—and sponsor—thinks, nineteen year-old Tate Bertram isn’t an addict. He has the 30-day chip to prove it. But when his father learns Tate’s been running an illegal card room out of a friend’s dorm to pay off old gambling debts, Tate is cut off. With his family no longer talking to him, his aunt Nora offers him a chance to intern for her political campaign. Juggling school with the intense internship, Tate finds himself buying scratch-off lottery tickets to take the edge off.

Tate is surprised to find the beautiful and calculating Alex Wolf—his first crush and the girl who taught him how to gamble—volunteering with Nora’s campaign, too. Soon, Tate is more drawn to Alex than ever. Her mind games stick in his head, but her vulnerable, softer side gets into his heart. But as tensions rise along the campaign trail, Tate is forced to question whether he’s really addiction-free, after all.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS meets ROUNDERS in this high stakes tale of the cost of winning and the price of redemption.

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

Shoot the Moon will be available February 6, 2018. 

Last year I read and loved the first book in this series, Seeking Mansfield, and I was so excited to find out there was a sequel. While Shoot the Moon was not quite the light and fluffy read I was expecting, I still really enjoyed it.

This books focuses on Tate, Oliver’s older brother. I loved how witty and sarcastic he was. He could also be kind of awful, but in a fun way. I loved watching his journey throughout the book. He had many ups and downs and by the end I felt like he was really heading in the right direction. I initially was excited in seeing Oliver and Finley again, but I felt disappointed in what we got from them. I don’t consider this a spoiler because we find out in the very first chapter (but skip ahead if you don’t want to be spoiled at all!) that Oliver and Finley have broken up! And then there’s a brief thing with Tate and Finley that had been hinted at in the previous book, but actually goes further. There’s a little more back and forth with Oliver and Finley, but they didn’t really play a big part in the overall story of this one.

One character I really didn’t care for at all was Tate’s new love interest, Alex. Though we know how insecure she really is, it still really frustrated me when she lashed out at Tate. She came across as very unkind and manipulative and I just couldn’t like her at all, though she did get a little better by the end of the book. Still, I do not think that she and Tate were a good match. I felt like if they wanted to be together they still had so much growing up to do and they weren’t there by the end of the book. For awhile I thought it was looking like Tate would end the book single and I was actually pretty excited about that, but I don’t think it’s a surprise to say that that didn’t happen.

There were a lot of poker terms included in this. There is a glossary of terms in the back of the book which I perused before I started reading, but I find it too difficult to go back and forth with e-books so I was often lost when there were passages with lots of poker terms. While I appreciate the authenticity Watson was going for in including them, I felt like it could have been edited down a lot. It’s one of those instances where it felt more like the author wanted to show how much research she had done, then it being really relevant to the progression of the story. There is also a lot of politics in the story. I thought it was a little heavy handed at times. Depending on your particular political bent you will either really enjoy it or be kind of annoyed by it.

Overall, while Shoot the Moon was not the follow-up to Seeking Mansfield I expected, I still enjoyed it. I really loved Tate. Even when the story lost my interest occasionally, Tate still made me want to keep reading. Though this isn’t the light read that the first book was, I would still definitely recommend it to fans of Seeking Mansfield. I am looking forward to reading more from Kate Watson.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Blog Tour & Review: The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Synopsis from Good Reads:

A novel of suspense that explores the complexities of marriage and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement.
You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.
You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her.
You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.
Assume nothing.

Discover the next blockbuster novel of suspense, and get ready for the read of your life.

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

The Wife Between Us will be available January 9, 2018. 

The Wife Between Us is a very cleverly written novel of psychological suspense that managed to do what few books seem able to do these days – genuinely surprise me. Not just once, but multiple times.

I thought I had this book all figured out in the beginning. I thought that the vague synopsis gave too much away. That I could read between the lines and easily figure out what was really going on. However, I did exactly what the synopsis told me not to do and assumed too much. While there were a few things I guessed correctly, the story has about three major twisty reveals and I did not see any of them coming.

I really don’t know what I can say about this book without giving too much away. I really think it’s best going into with as little information as possible. I will say that it is very character driven and the pace felt a little on the slower side. I didn’t feel the psychological suspense aspects of the story until after the first twist is revealed, which is not until almost half way through the book. However, after that I felt like there was more urgency to the story. I thought the characters were all pretty sympathetic and compelling and they kept me reading during the parts where I thought the pacing was a little too slow. I also thought that the writing between the two authors was really seamless. If I didn’t know there was more than one author I never would have guessed it.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Wife Between Us. The multiple twists were very cleverly written and honestly surprised me. I felt very connected to the characters, as well. My only complaint is that I wish the pacing was a little more steady. I read so much of this genre that few things really surprise me anymore and I loved that this book was able to do it again and again. I definitely recommend this one!

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

35356382

Synopsis from Good Reads:

The must-read thriller of 2018, this riveting and relentlessly compelling psychological suspense debut will keep readers guessing right up to the shocking ending

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy little English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code; little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank . . . until one of them turns up dead. That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

Expertly alternating between flashbacks and the present day, The Chalk Man is the very best kind of suspense novel, one where every character is wonderfully fleshed out and compelling, where every mystery has a satisfying payoff, and where the twists will shock even the savviest reader.

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

The Chalk Man will be available January 9, 2018

For me, The Chalk Man, is a perfect example of how hype can ruin your reading experience. I have seen several absolutely glowing reviews of this book and I was prepared for it to be one of my new favorite books of the year. Unfortunately, it fell far short of my expectations.

Let’s start with what I did like. I really like Tudor’s writing style. This is the author’s debut novel and her writing already feels distinctive. I also am a big fan of multiple timelines and I thought it was done pretty well here.

The story was told in Eddie’s 1st person POV and I wish I could say that gave me a connection to him, but it didn’t. I never really cared that much about him. He was basically the only character in the book that had much character development and it just didn’t really do it for me. I didn’t care about his childhood friends in either timeline or his odd relationship with his lodger, Chloe.

Even though I liked the writing, I felt bored a great deal of the time. Things are revealed very, very slowly and don’t pick up until close to the end. There is a nice little twist at the end, but I felt that there were so many clues dropped into the backstory to make sure the twist made sense that it did not even come as a big surprise. I also figured out the resolution to the main mystery awhile before it was revealed.

Overall, The Chalk Man was not a bad book, but it definitely fell short of the hype for me. The slow pace, characters I didn’t really care about, and a twist with very little pay-off left me pretty disappointed. However, the author’s writing style is pretty much what made this book for me and I know I will be reading more from her in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: Blue Ridge Sunrise (Blue Ridge Romance #1) by Denise Hunter

34460561

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Former free spirit Zoe Collins swore she’d never again set foot in Copper Creek or speak to the man who broke her heart. But return she must when her beloved Granny dies, leaving the family legacy to Zoe–a peach orchard nestled at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

When Zoe returns home with her daughter and boyfriend Kyle, she finds that she’s the only person in town who doesn’t expect her to give up the life she’s established far away from Copper Creek. Everyone believes she was born to run the orchard, but how can she make it her home after so many years?

Cruz Huntley never quite got over his first love Zoe Collins, the little sister of his best friend Brady. Not when she cheated on him during their “break,” not when she took off to parts unknown with good-for-nothing Kyle Jenkins, and not even now—five years later.

As life-changing decisions and a history with Cruz hang over Zoe’s head, tensions rise between her and Kyle. Even as she comes to terms with the shifting relationships in her life, Zoe still isn’t sure if she can remain in Copper Creek with her new responsibilities . . . and her first love.

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

Blue Ridge Sunrise will be available 11/7/17. 

I can’t think of a book that I have gone back and forth so much on as I did this book. For awhile I was really loving it. Then I was really annoyed at a turn of events. Then I loved it again. Then I was annoyed again. Then it picked up a little bit again at the end.

I was immediately drawn in to Zoe and Cruz and their second-chance romance storyline. As with most of Hunter’s leading ladies, I found Zoe kind of hard to like, but she did grow throughout the story. I, of course, loved Cruz. I also liked Zoe’s brother, Brady, and her best friend, Hope (I’m anticipating them to be lead characters in a future book in this series). The second part of the book is a flash back to when Zoe and Cruz started dating. I’m a big fan of multiple timeline storytelling and I loved watching those two get together.

As I mentioned above, after loving the book for awhile, something happened that really annoyed me. This is just personal preference, but I really, really dislike any romance trope that involves babies/kids. It just brings my whole enjoyment of a book way down. Another thing that I really dislike in books is when one small miscommunication is the main source of conflict and just one honest conversation would clear everything up. It drives me crazy to read a whole book like that.

Thankfully, the miscommunication was cleared up much more quickly than I anticipated. I was able to get back on the Cruz and Zoe ship and enjoy myself again. I liked watching them grow closer as they worked together to get the peach market up and running. However, Zoe’s old boyfriend Kyle is still not entirely out of the picture. Zoe decides to do something so annoyingly frustrating to remedy that and I found my enjoyment disappearing again. Things did work out in the end, though, with a nice lesson in faith tacked on.

Overall, Blue Ridge Sunrise was just a little uneven for me. While I did really enjoy Zoe and Cruz’s relationship, some romance tropes that I don’t really like were employed and kind of dampened my experience. I know that some people really love those type of storylines though, so I can see many readers eating the whole thing up with a smile. I also thought that for being Christian Fiction it was really light on the Christian. Again, not something that will bother everybody. This wasn’t my favorite Denise Hunter book, but it wasn’t my least favorite either. I liked it enough that I want to continue the series.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff

36127936

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Charlotte “Charlie” Donovan knows what she wants for Christmas: Teo Ortiz. He’s a star athlete, in the National Honor Society, invited to every party, and contributes to the school paper (where Charlie is co-editor). Basically, he’s exactly the type of guy Charlie’s looking for. The only problem—he barely knows she exists.

But Charlie has a plan: Rig the paper’s Secret Santa and win his heart with five perfect gifts. Enter J.D. Ortiz—Teo’s cousin, and possibly the most annoying person on the planet. He’s easy going, laid back, unorganized, and spontaneous—the exact opposite of Charlie (and Teo). But he knows what Teo wants, so she’s stuck with him.

Yet the more time Charlie spends with J.D. the more she starts to wonder: Does she really know what, or rather who, she wants for Christmas?

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

What I Liked:

-There are a lot of YA books out there that I think are far too adult for the age group they’re marketed in, but I didn’t have that problem with this book. It seems geared more towards the younger end of the YA spectrum and is pretty clean. It’s the perfect amount of light and fluffy for a fun Christmas read.

-I liked the characters. Charlie is very Type A and likes to be in control, but she means well. Her best friend Morgan did a good job of balancing her out. JD is the polar opposite of Charlie, of course, and they often butt heads. As they come to spend more time with each other they begin to understand each other better and become friends. They had some sweet moments together and I shipped them.

-I love that cover! There’s an ugly Christmas sweater party in the book so it even ties in to the story well.

-Though I generally don’t like anything Holiday related until after Thanksgiving, this book did get me into the Holiday mood. I enjoyed all the holiday baking and liked the Secret Santa idea.

What Didn’t Quite Work for Me:

-I couldn’t really get on board with Charlie’s sudden crush on Teo. She basically just knew some stats on him when she decided he was The One. The way she read way too much into every interaction she had with Teo did remind me of being in high school, but it also kind of frustrated me. I also got frustrated by how clueless she was when it came to JD. A lot of the moments between them I thought were so sweet were kind of lost on her.

-I thought the end was  a little too abrupt. Things worked out very easily, very quickly for Charlie once she realized who she really wanted and I would’ve liked her to have to work a little bit harder for the happy ending.

Overall:

Overall, I enjoyed My New Crush Gave to Me. It was light and cute with likeable characters, even if Charlie was frustrating sometimes. I definitely recommend it to fans of YA Contemporary holiday reads.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars