The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary [6/1]

I absolutely loved Beth O’Leary’s previous two books so I was really excited when I was approved for this one on NetGalley. Unfortunately, this one didn’t quite live up to my expectations, but there were still elements that I really enjoyed.

Honestly, my main problem was just that I didn’t really like Dylan and then Addie was also just okay for me. Especially at the beginning of their relationship, Dylan just seemed incredibly weak. He was really susceptible to pretty much anyone’s influence it seemed (especially Marcus). I could definitely understand Addie’s frustration with him. And then like I said earlier, Addie was just okay. I liked that she was a hard worker and I could tell she really wanted to do well in her teaching job. But it seemed like she wasn’t willing to stand up to Dylan a lot of the time and I really wanted her to. With all that being said, I did like Deb quite a bit. I liked her no-nonsense attitude and I thought her relationship with Addie was really special.

The plot wasn’t necessarily anything new as it switched between past and present. We got to see how things were going during the road trip interspersed with flashbacks of Addie and Dylan’s relationship. The whole Rodney thing was a weird subplot and I wasn’t super satisfied with how that all played out. It just kind of fizzled into nothing and I wasn’t sure what the point of it was–it didn’t seem to add much to the overall story. And I’m not even going to touch the Marcus subplot. Just…I don’t know how to feel about it. I did like the overall road trip element of the book, though. So many things went wrong and I liked watching the characters come together to figure things out.

Overall, this book definitely had some things going for it! The main concept was enjoyable and created some fun tension, but I didn’t always enjoy the finer points of the story. I would still recommend this book as a summer romance, especially if you’ve enjoyed O’Leary’s other books, but where I felt The Flatmate was an original concept (at least to me) this one didn’t feel quite as fresh. 3.5/5

PREORDER: Paperback | Kindle

MINI-REVIEWS: More Romance

So I’ve been on this huge romance kick over the last couple of months, right? I’ve been reading them quickly and haven’t been very good about getting reviews up, but today I sat down and just decided to bang them all out! (Just…do me a favor and ignore how many of these books feature 29/30-year-old Brits).

mini-reviews

Here’s Looking at You by Mhairi McFarlane

I feel a little foolish that it took until about 75% of the way through before I realized this was a loose Pride and Prejudice retelling, but what are you gonna do? I didn’t like this one quite as much as the others I’ve read by her. Anna was a great main character, but I wasn’t always buying James as a love interest. I’m happy with how it ended, but there was some doubt in my mind if he’d ever be able to truly redeem himself. 3.5/5

Order: Paperback | eBook

The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

I didn’t LOVE Calla. I feel like she was too oblivious as to how she was coming off to others. Like…you’ve seen the town and you really think the grocery coffee stand is going to have soy/almond/cashew milk? Besides that, I liked the other characters (maybe besides Calla’s mom). Simon is a real gem and neither Calla or her mother deserve him. 3.5/5

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Wild at Heart by K.A. Tucker

I had my issues with Calla again, but overall I still liked the book. I just feel like she’s willfully naive sometimes. I’m not sure what she thought life was going to be like in Trapper’s Crossing, but I thought she should have been a little more grateful towards Muriel taking her under her wing. I did like her relationship with Roy, though, and thought it felt realistic. 3.5/5

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It’s Not Me, It’s You by Mhairi McFarlane

Wow. Talk about slooooooow burn. Halfway through this book and I still had no idea which guy Delia was going to end up with. I don’t know that the relationship made a ton of sense to me always, but I still liked it and thought Delia was a good character. I liked her “journey” and the things she discovered about herself though she was a little too naive when it came to Kurt.

Unrelated, I thought the comic panels were a nice touch! Really enjoyed them. 4/5

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Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters

This book actually took me by surprise! As the story sets up, you think you know where it’s going, but then it turns completely on its head. The meet cute scenarios that Evie comes up with are equal parts cringe and heartwarming. It really is interesting to think about how those scenarios might play out in real life (mostly poorly). I thought the romance was compelling though I wasn’t totally convinced until the end what the love interest necessarily saw in Evie. Overall, this was a cute read. 4/5

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Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

I really enjoyed Georgina’s journey throughout this book. Despite the fact that this book would be classified as romance, I feel like Georgina’s development as a character shared equal screen time and I really liked seeing her relationship with her sister grow throughout the book. The romance part is great too. There’s a lot of “but wait…does he actually remember her?” looming over every interaction that Georgina and Lucas have. With their backstory, I felt like the romance was believable and I found myself really rooting for them in the end. 4/5

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The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

I really enjoyed this one! Admittedly, Tiffy was a little much for me at times but I thought that Leon’s chapters balanced her out nicely. I thought the change in writing styles between their narrations was interesting and helped to distinguish them from each other. One of my pet peeves is when a book has multiple POVs, but they all sound like the same person and that was not the case with this book. I’ve seen other reviews complain about the secondary plots, but I actually didn’t mind them. I thought they fleshed out the characters in a realistic way that ended up contributing to their overall connection as people. Perhaps things might have wrapped up a little too picture perfect in the end, but I can hardly begrudge this book or characters their HEA. 4/5

Order: Hardcover | Paperback | eBook

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

If you are looking for a book featuring a quirky English village (quirky residents included) then look no farther! I really enjoyed getting to know the townspeople of Hamleigh along with Leena. Penelope and Roland especially always had me chuckling. Overall, this book had a really strong cast of interesting secondary characters to help Leena and Eileen along on their journeys. The relationship between Leena and her mother, Marian, was tense but felt necessary and I’m glad that O’Leary featured it, though I could have used a little more on-page action. There were elements of this book that I felt were unrealistic (both Eileen and Leena got A LOT done in less than two months), but I was more than happy to overlook that.

As the book started to wrap-up, however, I was worried that both of our heroines were going to end up with their respective love interests by default. Here’s what I mean by that: the whole book a protag is with one person (when the love interest is clearly…well…interested) but then something happens at the very end to cause that initial relationship to end and our protag turns around and is like, “Oh yes, I guess I do love this other person over here”. Even though five seconds ago they were really fighting to keep their previous relationship. Anyway, that DOESN’T end up happening in this book even though I was worried it was going to happen not once, but twice. I ended up really liking how O’Leary navigated all of those relationships. 4/5

Order: Paperback | eBook

A Princess for Christmas by Jenny Holiday

Meh. This book was just alright. I enjoyed all of the parts that were Hallmark movie-esque (quaint European village with delicious holiday traditions, meddling younger sister, New York meet cute) but I don’t really think I liked either of the main characters very much? I didn’t feel like they were very consistent throughout the book. Leo especially was just…kind of an odd character. He had an ENORMOUS chip on his shoulder and seemed to go out of his way to be contradictory at times. I can’t say I enjoyed any of his POV chapters really. And then I found Marie just kind of boring. 3/5

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A Rogue of One’s Own by Evie Dunmore

While I enjoyed this book, it does fall under the classic romance cliche where one frank conversation between characters would eliminate 90% of the drama. Lucie and Tristan were both interesting characters and again, I really liked the historical backdrop of the women’s suffrage movement. Lucie is not a damsel in distress to be saved and Tristan is clearly no white knight, but they end up working together to further their individual goals. I liked that Dunmore portrayed Lucie and Tristan as equals starting with them both owning 50% of the publishing house. It creates a good dynamic between them I think. Overall, I’m definitely interested in continuing the series ESPECIALLY after learning that book #3 is going to feature Hattie! 4/5

Order: Paperback | eBook

Say You Still Love Me by K.A. Tucker

I’m not totally sure why I didn’t love this book, but it wasn’t as enjoyable to me as some of the other romances I’ve been reading lately. I didn’t love either Piper or Kyle to be honest. The flashback chapters to camp life were kind of a drag for me. Obviously I know they were being dumb teenagers (and which of us hasn’t been a dumb teenager at some point?) but I felt like so many of their decisions were just BAD and the consequences were so easily avoidable. I don’t know…I think this book just had too many things going on–elements that by themselves could have worked better. 3.5/5

Order: Paperback | eBook

January 2021 TBR

This month’s TBR is probably just going to be super basic as I continue reading romance books. We’ll see.

monthly tbr

This month I will also probably continue to ignore the pile of ARCs that I’ve accumulated. At least I stopped requesting things from NetGalley so…progress, right?

What are you guys reading this month? Let me know in the comments!

December 2020 Wrap-Up/TBR Update

More romance for me this month! We were also in the process of moving/buying a house, so I really couldn’t handle anything too intense.

monthly tbr

Also read/reading:

Books finished this month: 11
Books currently reading:
 1

Overall TBR:

TBR at the beginning of the year = 296
TBR at the beginning of December = 331
Books added to TBR = 6
Books read/deleted from TBR = 2
Total on TBR now = 335

How did your reading go this month?

14 Best Book Deals for 12/9/20: What the Wind Knows, The Afterlife of Holly Chase, Evvie Drake Starts Over, and more

Book Deals
As of this posting, all of these deals are active, but I don’t know for how long!
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I Hate You, Fuller James by Kelly Anne Blount

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Romance Mini-Reviews

Lately I feel like I’ve been having a tough time getting through books. Even books that I’m enjoying, it seems like it takes me weeks instead of days to complete them. The only exception being romances. I’m not sure why, but I can zip through a romance in a couple of days while every other genre is a slog and this month I just decided to lean into that all the way. So without further ado, here are mini-reviews for some of the romances I’ve read this month so far.

mini-reviews

Billy & Me by Giovanna Fletcher

This book was fine. The writing seemed a bit immature at times and I thought Sophie and Billy’s relationship developed REALLY fast. I didn’t love that the conclusion seemed to be that a compromise between their careers wasn’t possible. But on another note, seeing as how Gi is married to Tom Fletcher from the British band McFly, it makes me really wonder how much of Sophie’s experiences here are autobiographical. The press and people on social media can really be terrible—it’s disgusting. 3/5

Order: Hardcover | Paperback | eBook

Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore

Coming off of watching Enola Holmes on Netflix, it was interesting to learn a little more about women’s suffrage in England. I liked that the romance didn’t get bogged down by the history and vice versa. I’m not going to pretend like the love story between our main characters was super realistic, but it was still enjoyable. I thought they were both pretty good characters. Let’s get Hattie her own book though, mmmkay? 4/5

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Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

I thought this book was so sweet and was exactly what I needed right now. I liked Evvie as a character a lot and her relationship with Dean seemed to progress at a good pace. I like that they had adult conversations and there were no angsty misunderstandings. I liked the ending too! I felt like it was realistic but still sweet. Lastly, I just wanted to say that I feel Monica is extremely underrated as a character. Her friendship with Evvie was really great and she just seemed like an awesome woman in general. 4/5

Order: Hardcover | Paperback | eBook

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

This book was surprisingly funny. I thought the narrator’s voice was super cheeky and really added to the story, though I don’t know that I would want to read a million books like that. Nina was equal parts charming and infuriating as a protagonist. She made quite a few decisions that I wouldn’t have, but then some decisions that I really liked as well. Overall, I liked the combination of her having to deal with her father’s death/inheritance/new family and figuring out how she felt about Tom. It gave the story more dimension to kind of have two different storylines going on at the same time. 4/5

Order: Paperback | eBook

If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

I really liked this book! It took a little while to really get going, but I think that eventually ended up being really important in understanding who Laurie is as a character. Jamie as a love interest was a little too perfect at times, but I still liked him and the scenes of him and Laurie together just talking were always really fun. While this book is ultimately a romance, I appreciated how it talks about some heavier themes and specifically about being mixed race. As a mixed race person myself, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gotten the, “Where are you from?” question. Born in America same as you random white person, thanks. And like…why do you even care? Does my heritage change anything about our relationship? Anyway…bit of a triggering topic for me I guess, but there you have it. 4/5

Order: Paperback | eBook

22 Best Book Deals for 9/17/20: Maisie Dobbs, Beach Read, A Darker Shade of Magic, and more

Book Deals
As of this posting, all of these deals are active, but I don’t know for how long!
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BLOG TOUR: The Gentleman Spy by Erica Vetsch [GIVEAWAY]

The Gentleman SpyThe Gentleman Spy (Serendipity & Secrets #2)
by Erica Vetsch
Release Date: July 28th, 2020
Genres: Christian Fiction, Romance, Historical Fiction

Goodreads|Amazon|B&N|Book Depository

SYNOPSIS: He only wanted a duchess for a day–but she’s determined to make it a marriage for life

When his father and older brother suddenly pass away, the new Duke of Haverly is saddled with a title he never expected to bear. To thwart the plans of his scheming family, the duke impulsively marries a wallflower. After all, she’s meek and mild; it should be easy to sequester her in the country and get on with his life–as a secret agent for the Crown.

But his bride has other ideas. She’s determined to take her place not only as his duchess but as his wife. As a duchess, she can use her position to help the lowest of society–the women forced into prostitution because they have no skills or hope. Her endeavors are not met favorably in society, nor by her husband who wishes she’d remain in the background as he ordered.

Can the duke succeed in relegating her to the sidelines of his life? When his secrets are threatened with exposure, will his new wife be an asset or a liability?

REVIEW: Something I really like about this series is that marriage isn’t the end goal. We get to see our protagonists marry and then also get adjusted to married life. Especially in these historical romances, marriage is so different from the courting process, so I like getting to see beyond the wedding.

Both Charlotte and Marcus were likable characters and I did think they were distinguishable from the protagonists in book one–that’s not always the case in these series that feature different main characters. I really liked Marcus from the first book and I thought this book did justice to the character I’d been forming in my head.

I thought overall, the plot was quite good even if the “mystery” wasn’t very mysterious. I liked how some of the secondary characters played larger roles than I’d been expecting. There were some minor parts that felt a bit rushed or sudden, but it was easy to look past that. I would definitely recommend this one for anyone who enjoyed the first book who likes proper romances.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: None
Violence:
Moderate
Smoking/Drinking:
Mild
Sexual Content:
Mild


Grey weathered parchment

Click on the banner above to be taken to the giveaway!


Erica VetschABOUT THE AUTHOR: Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate.  

Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. 

A self-described history geek, she has been planning her first research trip to England.

Website|Goodreads|Facebook|Instagram|Pinterest


Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

27 Best Book Deals for 7/2/20: The Bromance Book Club, And Then There Were None, select Sarah Dessen books, and more

Book Deals
As of this posting, all of these deals are active, but I don’t know for how long!
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Mini-Reviews: The Silent Patient, The Great Alone, The Holdout, and Beach Read

mini-reviews

I’ve noticed lately that I’ve been reading a lot more adult fiction. It’s not a conscious decision and I’m not sure why it’s happening, but I’m going with it! Here are a few of the adult fiction books I’ve been reading lately.

The Silent Patient

I’d heard so much buzz about this book before I picked it up for a book club. Even with all the buzz, though, I really didn’t know what to expect. This book ended up being a little more detective-y than I had anticipated. It was almost as if Theo was conducting some kind of criminal investigation. I wished he’d stayed in his lane a little bit more and that there was more to the interactions between him and Alicia. The author did a good job of making virtually every single male character suspect. Perhaps because of that, I actually didn’t love Theo as a character and especially as a narrator. In the end, I understand why the story was told the way it was, but I’m not sure how I feel about the whole “twist”. 3.5/5

Order: Hardcover | Paperback | Kindle

The Great Alone

I picked up this book because I’ve been meaning to read something by Kristin Hannah FOREVER. After reading this, I’d probably read her again, but she’s not an author who I would binge her entire backlist. Her books are long, heavier, and slower paced than something I would typically want to binge read. That being said, this book is so well-written. The setting of Alaska comes alive in this really unforgiving way. After reading this, you’re getting a big “NOPE” from me re: living in Alaska. Throughout this book I had a really uneasy feeling. Part of it was the tension involved with Leni’s dad, but I honestly think a big part of it was the setting itself. I was surprised at how far the author took the plot. The story kind of just keeps going beyond when I would expect it to conclude. I’m not totally sure how I felt about the ending. Parts of it felt a little too clean to me and I would have liked a bit more open endedness. I also had a big question about what happened with Leni’s grandparents, but maybe that’s just me. 4/5

Order: Hardcover | Paperback | Kindle

The Holdout

The story sucks you in really fast, but I wished that I had a summary of the case right off the bat. Just like a news clipping at the beginning would have been perfect, I think. I wouldn’t say that I loved Maya as a character, but with that being said, we know she didn’t kill Bobby so I was really invested in her figuring out who actually did. This story took many unexpected turns and I thought that was reflected in the ending as well. I liked that we were given answers, but some things don’t feel all the way resolved. There was a resolution to Bobby’s death, though, and I thought it was plausible. The way the book was written was interesting as well. We got flashbacks with different jurors and I thought all of the changing timelines actually kept the story moving along instead of bogging it down. It was really interesting that the author showed how people remember things differently from how things happened or how others recall the same events. Overall, a pretty good “mystery” with insights into the legal system and what it’s like to be on a jury. Also, I love this cover. It’s so simple and I love it. 4/5

Order: Hardcover | Paperback | Kindle

Beach Read

Okay, I think everyone’s been saying this but I’ll just reiterate–this book is NOT as light as the cover would make you think. January and Gus are both dealing with some pretty heavy things. So though they do find love, they have to get through the other stuff first. With that being said, right off the bat I found January to be extremely likable and the chemistry between her and Gus was great. You really just root for them to make it work. And with their history, I also imagined where their lives could have ended up had they gotten together in college (though that line of thinking wasn’t really explored in the book). A couple of critiques: I wish that January’s dad had been a little more present somehow. Maybe his letters could have been sprinkled throughout the book? Or we could have gotten flashbacks from his perspective? My only other critique is that “olive” was used a few too many times to describe Gus’ complexion. It just kept popping up and I didn’t feel like it was necessary. Ultimately, I thought this book ended on a happy and uplifting note. Fingers crossed that Emily Henry decides to really write the book January was working on because I would TOTALLY read it. 4/5

Order: Paperback | Kindle