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

Reviewing the Unreviewed: March 2020

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. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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Moment of Truth by Kasie West. Read March 3-5. 3 Stars

It makes me a little sad to say this, but I found this book really dull. I didn’t really start to enjoy it until about the last 25%. I expect a slow burn romance in West’s books, but it felt almost non-existent until close to the end. I also thought the big drama between Hadley and her parents was resolved WAY too easily. I almost gave this book 2 stars instead of 3, but I did really like Hadley and Jackson in the last few chapters.

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Wild at Heart (The Simple Wild #2) by K.A. Tucker. Read March 5-7. 4 Stars. 

I loved this. I think I enjoyed it more than the first book, actually. It’s extremely character-driven and not a lot really happens and if I was in a different mood, I could see where this might not have worked for me, but I really enjoyed it. I liked seeing Calla and Jonah work on starting a life together. There were lots of sweet moments between them and Jonah could be far more romantic than I remember him being. However, he still did lots of stupid things that made me frustrated with him, too. I liked the new location and the new characters, especially Toby and Roy. One negative thing, though, I thought there were a few too many sex scenes. None of them were that detailed and some were even more “fade to black”, but it just seemed a little excessive.

I would love a third Calla and Jonah book. I think I’m going to go back and re-read the first book now just because I don’t feel like being done with them quite yet.

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Well Met by Jen DeLuca. Read March 8-10. 2.5 Stars. 

I think I was way too hyped for this. Everyone I know that read this gave it 4 or 5 stars and I had really high expectations. I found it really lackluster, though. I didn’t really like the main character, I didn’t buy the romance, and wasn’t really impressed with the writing. There were a couple of cute or funny moments, but I just didn’t enjoy this one.

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Bennett Mafia by Tijan. Read March 22-24. 3.5 Stars

When I was having a hard time concentrating on anything, this one kept my attention. It was crazy and sometimes ridiculous, but addicting, which is what I expect from a Tijan book. It was just a little too long, though. Just when I felt like the story was coming to an end, the plot completely shifted. I almost felt like this could have been broken into two different books.

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The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren. Read March 24-25. 4 Stars. 

I don’t know what all these lukewarm reviews are about because I really enjoyed this! I liked the home renovation show vibes and the slow burn romance. The two main characters were likable (except when James did a couple of super dumb things) and the “villains” were more of the love-to-hate variety. I could’ve used an epilogue, but this was a cute, fast read and I’m kind of sad that I finished it so quickly.

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The Assist (Smart Jocks #1) by Rebecca Jenshak. Read March 26-27. 3.5 Stars.

A little cliched, but after a rough start I started to enjoy this. I liked Blaire and Wes (Bless) and I liked that we got both of their POVs. I’ll probably give the rest of this series a try before my KU subscription ends.

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Fake It ‘Til You Break It by Meagan Brandy. Read March 28-29. 3.5 Stars

This was one of those crazy Romances where high school kids act like adults and everything is 100x more dramatic than it needs to be, but I was into it. I liked both Nico and Demi and I shipped them. I will probably check out some of this author’s other books while I still have KU.

*****Re-Read*****

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The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker. I liked this just as much the second time around – maybe even more.

*****Back on the TBR*****

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Open Book by Jessica Simpson. I didn’t make it past the prologue. Just wasn’t in the mood for non-fiction. I’ll try it again, though.

*****DNF*****

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By the Book by Amanda Sellet. DNF @ 5%. I try to go 25% before I give up on a book, but I couldn’t even make it through two chapters of this book. It was just trying way too hard. The main character was insufferable. I will say I’m also a lot older than the target audience for this book, so a younger, quirkier crowd may enjoy this much more.

Pretty Reckless by LJ Shen. DNF @ 7%. Whenever I sign up for Kindle Unlimted, I try a lot of books that I probably wouldn’t otherwise ever read and this book definitely fell into that category. I’ve seen so many great reviews of LJ Shen books and I wanted to see what the fuss was about, but I think it’s safe to say this author isn’t for me.

Doughn’t Let Me Go by Teagan Hunter. DNF @ 21%. Nope. Just can’t do this. I don’t really like either of the characters. Porter is way more skeezy than I can appreciate and I’m just rolling my eyes at Dory and her whole Pretty Woman “sex is fine, but no kissing” thing. I also am not a fan of the Single Dad / Nanny trope. I’ve enjoyed several other books by this author, but this one just isn’t for me.

*****Books with Future Reviews Scheduled*****

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What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter – 2 Stars

The First Date by Zara Stoneley – 3.5 Stars

The Heatwave by Katerina Diamond – 3.5 Stars

Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson – 2.5 Stars

Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett – 3.5 Stars

Admission by Julie Buxbaum – 2 Stars

The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell – 3.5 Stars

WWW Wednesday: March 25, 2020

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WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

What did you recently finish reading?

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Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson and Bennett Mafia by Tijan. Real Men Knit was pretty disappointing, but Bennett Mafia was mostly enjoyable.

What are you currently reading?

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The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren. Thankfully, ebooks from the library are still available.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver. My hold for this just came in, too.

What are you reading?

My COVID-19 ARC TBR

How is everyone doing? I personally think the world is overreacting right now, but I’ll still stay home and follow the guidelines the government and health officials put forth. I mean, I’ve been practicing social distancing all my life, so it’s not really a big deal. I am on administrative leave / working remotely for at least the next three weeks so that means plenty of time for reading! I plan on working through my ARCs:

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Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett

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Admission by Julie Buxbaum

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By the Book by Amanda Sellet

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Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

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The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell

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The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

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The Heatwave by Katerina Diamond

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Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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The Bright Lands by John Fram

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The Vacation by T.M. Logan

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Louisiana Lucky by Julie Pennell

What’s on your COVID-19 TBR?