Review: The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Marianna Zapata


Synopsis from Good Reads:

Vanessa Mazur knows she’s doing the right thing. She shouldn’t feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary.

But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she’s beyond shocked.

For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn’t find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He’s asking for the unthinkable.

What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants?

The hype was strong with this one. So strong that I finally broke down and spent some money (well, gift card credit, let’s not get crazy) to buy it. While I did end up enjoying it, it didn’t quite live up to the hype for me.

I’m a fan of a good slow burn romance and that’s what The Wall of Winnipeg and Me seems to be known for. However, I was not quite prepared for how sloooooow paced the whole story was. The chapters were pretty long, as well. I thought that it was really over-written for the most part. I think a little more editing could have cut the length of the book and the repetitiveness, as well as improved the pace. Despite those issues, though, the writing did drag me into the story pretty quickly and I felt like I really got to know the characters.

I went back and forth on how I felt about Vanessa. Sometimes I just didn’t understand how she reacted to things and she frustrated me. She was a little overdramatic at times, but she was pretty likable overall. Aiden also frustrated me for a big portion of the book. I am not a talkative or well-spoken person by any means, but he barely had any dialogue for about the first 20% of the story and I had no idea how I would end up getting to know him at all, let alone like him. Thankfully, he opens up as the story goes on and I did end up really liking him.

Overall, I enjoyed The Wall of Winnipeg and Me, though the long chapters and very slow pace were a struggle for me at times. I liked the fake relationship/marriage of convenience angle, even if it was missing a lot of the elements I expect to see with those. I ended up loving it once it got to about the last third or so of the book (minus the graphic scene it saved for the end) and that is why I’m bumping my rating up from what I was originally going to give it. While I wasn’t completely blown away by this like so many others were, I think it’s one that I will probably read again in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars


Review: A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird #1) by Claudia Gray

A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird, #1)

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

You know when you read a book just because of it’s pretty cover, things don’t always turn out the way you want them to. However, since A Thousand Pieces of You has had such a waiting list at the library, I’ve had plenty of time to read other reviews before I got into it. While I mostly skimmed them to avoid any possible spoilers, one thing I picked up on was that there was way more romance in this than people expected. That didn’t really put me off it, I just decided to go into it expecting a YA romance.

However, it didn’t totally work for me as a romance. While it had it’s share of sweet moments, it was hard to buy. While you can’t blame it on “insta-love” because the characters have all known each other for a long time, it’s like an “insta-love” loophole. Like just by saying they’ve all known each other awhile is enough to make the suddenness of it ok. And the love triangle was weird – and I’m not including Theo in that triangle.

It also didn’t really work for me as a sci-fi mystery/suspense story. Trying to understand the Firebird in the beginning was confusing. The lengthy stop in Russia was basically pointless, other than to set up the odd love triangle (which still didn’t really have that much of a lasting impact on the overall story). Where it finally started to make sense was in the third dimension the trio stopped in where we got a lot more information. Even though by then I had some things pretty much figured out, I wanted to see how it was resolved.

Overall, A Thousand Pieces of You was ok, but a little disappointing. There were several times I got so bored I was going to DNF it, but because I had waited so long for it, I wanted to see it through. I found the overall idea intriguing, but the execution of it fell a little short for me. I think if the next book focuses more on the Firebird and Triad, it would be worth reading.

Rating (out of 5)

2 stars

Firefly Hollow by T.L. Haddix – 3 stars (out of 5)

Firefly Hollow (Firefly Hollow, #1)

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

Synopsis from Good Reads:

The mysterious recluse…

Owen Campbell holds himself apart from other people. Badly scarred from emotional wounds that have never healed, he doesn’t expect to find true love or happiness. He remains isolated in a prison of his own making, determined to not let anyone close enough to hurt him again.

But his willpower is shaken to the core when Sarah Browning enters his world.

The girl next door…

Sarah Jane Browning is three years into her college degree when a call from home changes everything. Back at the family homestead in the heart of Appalachia, she’s forced to reevaluate her hopes and dreams for the future.

Distraction from her heartache comes in the form of her parents’ neighbor. Whispers about “odd Owen Campbell” abound in their small community, and Sarah’s curiosity is aroused. When she breaks the rules and trespasses onto his land, what she finds is beyond her wildest imaginings.

As Sarah struggles to overcome tragedy and loss, her burgeoning relationship with Owen is sorely tested. Will love conquer all, or will the secrets from Owen’s past tear them apart forever?

My Thoughts:

-Firefly Hollow is described as a Romance with paranormal elements. I didn’t really understand how that was different than a “paranormal romance”, but after reading it, that description makes sense. We find out almost right away that Owen is a shape shifter, but it’s a pretty minor point in the love story.

-The story centers on Sarah and Owen and their growing relationship. I felt like both characters were likable and well-developed. They’ve both gone through multiple heartaches and hardships that made them relatable, to each other and to the readers.

-The cast of secondary characters were also well-developed, especially Sarah’s mom, Eliza. She was wise and smart and loving. I enjoyed her honest and open relationship with Sarah and with her other children, Jack and Kathy. Owen’s uncle Eli was also very likable.

-The pace was pretty slow, but the writing made up for it. Despite not a whole lot really happening, I found myself unable to put the book down. Though there were a couple of major events, the real story was in the small moments. The emotional and character development of both Sarah and Owen, as individuals as well as a couple, is what made the story so compelling.

-Overall I enjoyed Firefly Hollow. It’s over 300 pages and I read it in less than 24 hours. I would recommend this to those interested in Romance and don’t mind a bit of the paranormal. I liked Haddix’s writing style and look forward to reading more books by her.


A Bride for Keeps by Melissa Jagears – 3 stars (out of 5)

A Bride for Keeps

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley

Synopsis (from Good Reads)

Although Everett Cline can hardly keep up with the demands of his homestead, he won’t humiliate himself by looking for a helpmate ever again–not after being jilted by three mail-order brides. When a well-meaning neighbor goes behind his back to bring yet another mail-order bride to town, he has good reason to doubt it will work, especially after getting a glimpse at the woman in question. She’s the prettiest woman he’s ever seen, and it’s just not possible she’s there to marry a simple homesteader like him.

Julia Lockwood has never been anything more than a pretty pawn for her father or a business acquisition for her former fiancé. Having finally worked up the courage to leave her life in Massachusetts, she’s determined to find a place where people will value her for more than her looks. Having run out of all other options, Julia resorts to a mail-order marriage in far-away Kansas.

Everett is skeptical a cultured woman like Julia could be happy in a life on the plains, while Julia, deeply wounded by a past relationship, is skittish at the idea of marriage at all. When, despite their hesitations, they agree to a marriage in name only, neither one is prepared for the feelings that soon arise to complicate their arrangement. Can two people accustomed to keeping their distance let the barricades around their hearts down long enough to fall in love?


-The first couple chapters in A Bride for Keeps felt like a story I’ve read several times before. The plot seemed obvious and clichéd. But the more I got into the story, I saw that it wasn’t quite the same. Was the ending still predictable? Sure. But, the journey to get there was not quite what I was expecting.

-I found most of the characters likable. Dex and Rachel, the meddling neighbors, and their children were all entertaining and, at times, insightful. I really liked Everett, who had been jilted by several potential brides before Julia. He was sweet and faithful and insecure. I felt like Julia and Dex were a little harder on him than he deserved at times. Julia asked that their marriage basically be a business arrangement and when he tried to protect himself from being hurt she resented him for it. While I’m not saying he behaved perfectly by any means, I don’t think he was really the bad guy in their relationship.

-And then there’s Julia. I went so back and forth on liking her. I understand her hesitancy around Everett – and men in general. I understand the need she felt to prove she was a good worker around the farm. But for most of the book she took no responsibility in her failing marriage. I also got really annoyed with how often she went on and on about how beautiful she was and how she wanted to be more than just a pretty face.

-Overall, I enjoyed A Bride for Keeps. It was a good mix of romance and faith and it took a clichéd idea and made it something different and interesting. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy Christian Fiction and Romance.