December 16, 2014

Book Review: If I like by Corrine Jackson

The Deal: Everyone around Sophie Quinn thinks she's the town slut, having committed the ultimate crime in her small, military town: cheating on her deployed marine boyfriend Carey. Since Carey's deployment, Quinn has put up with all kinds of bullying from her former friends, teachers and even her own father seems more ashamed of her than ever, mentally linking her to her own mother- who ran off on them years before.

But things aren't always what the seem. The truth is that Quinn didn't cheat, she and Carey aren't even together anymore but she is keeping a big secret for him, and taking the fall while he's away. Quinn had even gotten good at dealing with it, being invisible; until Carey goes MIA and the entire town seems to turn on her once again. 

The only respite she gets is when she's at the local V.A. hospital, hanging out with George, an 80 something veteran and former war photographer who encourages Quinn to follow her own passion for photography.

As the days go by without any news of Carey, Quinn's life keeps on turning more and more complicated.

My Thoughts: I didn't love Corrine Jackson's If I Lie, I read it all in one sitting because I wanted to see how it ended but I didn't love it. 

See, a big part of the plot has to do with The Big Misunderstanding trope, and in this case I didn't find said misunderstanding very compelling, and Quinn's reasoning had way too many holes. The person she 'cheated' with was very wishy-washy and I didn't even like him for the most part. 

Carey's secret was problematic, and I can totally see why he wanted to keep it but why he had to drag Quinn into it? that just never made sense to me. It was overly complicated and dramatic. 

I did like Ms. Jackson's narrative, but I didn't enjoy the plot. It's very readable though. 

December 8, 2014

Book Review: Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan

At First Sight: Tyler O'Neal was used to life in the fast lane as a pro-racer in the skiing circuit, but he has not settled into domesticity at his family resort following a bad fall during a race and his teenage daughter move to live with him permanently. 

He still misses racing - perhaps a lot more than he lets on - but he loves his daughter Jess and likes doing what he can to help bring up business for the resort.

What Tyler is none too happy about - at least not lately - is working so close to Brenna Daniels. Not because he doesn't like her, in fact, Brenna is one of his favorite people in the world and his best friend since childhood... which is why it annoys him to work closely to him when he's starting to notice her as more than a friend.

Brenna has been in love with Tyler since they were children, but long ago came to terms with the fact that he sees her as one of the guys and not as a girl. But when they are thrown in together thanks to some scheming by her friends, his mother and daughter, things begin to change. 

Living in the same resort was hard enough, but sharing Tyler's house might send things into overboard. 

Second Glance: Maybe This Christmas was a fun Christmas read. After meeting and seeing both Brenna and Tyler in past books, I was quite eager to get to their stories and it didn't disappoint. 

I really liked that they were really good friends first and foremost and that they both put his daughter first - yet they didn't jump into a relationship just to make Jess happy - and in a way that justified why they were so reluctant to get together (and hadn't before the start of the story): Neither of them wanted to risk their friendship, but it just wasn't enough anymore. 

I appreciate when characters make sense like that. 

Now the book did have some problems, like the drawn out situation with between Brenna and Jess's mother, which for me took to much of the book. Also, the lack of support from Brenna's mother bothered me a bit too.

But in the end, like I said, it was a fun read. I enjoyed seeing Sean and Jackson and their partners around, and seeing the dynamics of the family from another perspective. And I really liked Jess. As far as book moppets go, she was very nice. 

Bottom Line: I do recommend Maybe This Christmas as a cozy Christmas read, it's breezy and fun and I liked the people involved. Plus, it has a wonderful wintery feel to it.  I only kind of wish the author would do a book about the sheriff guy because he sounded really sweet. 
starstarstar2/3

November 25, 2014

Book Review: In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins

At First Sight: Emmaline Neal moved to Manningsport, after her longtime boyfriend left her for a fitness guru; and over the course of two years she has remade her life. She loves her house, her dog and her job as one of three police officers in town.

But when the invitation to said ex-boyfriend wedding arrives, Emmaline starts to scramble for a date, mostly because, since her parents and her ex's parents are friends, she can't decline the invite and she doesn't want to be the loser who shows up without a date. 

Everyone in town tells her to ask Jack Holland, who has being the "Friend-Date" down to an art, and often escorts all type of female acquaintances and friends to events, just because he's a nice guy. 

Emma doesn't want to ask him though, since she has a rather big crush on him; and because she doesn't want to be a burden since she knows Jack has plenty on his plate. 

A couple of months before, Jack rescued four teenagers that drove over a safety rail and fell into a lake, which had the whole town touting him as a hero, much to his discomfort. And now he struggles with PTSD and guilt over the fact that one of the kids -the driver - is still in the hospital in a coma. 

So Jack could really use a few days out of Manningsport and the wedding seems as good an excuse as any, so he agrees to go with Emma.


Second Glance: I have this thing with Kristan Higgins' books. I really enjoy her writing and her style and she has this almost unparalleled ability to suck me into a story. 

Form the moment I started to read In Your Dreams I was hooked, I wanted to keep reading because I found Emmaline likable and Jack was a really nice guy -typically the type of guy I really root for in Romance- but then I hit the wall I hit each and every time I read a Higgins' book: her parents showed up. 

See, I don't know what it is or why she does it, but Higgins often writes these seriously awful parents into her stories, usually they a) take the heroine for granted, b) compare her unfavorably to her siblings or c) humiliate her often just because they are crappy parents I guess. Or all of the above. In this case it was all of the above.  

But whatever, I expected that to a point.

Where this book broke for me, though, was with Jack. He has a knight in shinning armor complex a mile wide, which is amply exemplified by his relationship with his ex-wife, Hadley, who decided to show up back in town after she put him into debt, cheated and lied to him during their brief marriage.

Even though he doesn't like her, Jack often goes out of his way to be nice and "rescue" his ex from the various scrapes she gets herself into, never really stopping her firmly as she continues to interfere in his life. Hell, at one point he cancels a date with Emma to go have diner with Hadley and her sister, just because the sister was in town. And late in the book he says some really mean things to Emma, never apologizing properly and never groveling. 

Yet, by the end, he just throws a ring at her and it's all good. 

I really wanted Emma to assert herself more and a lot earlier than she does. She often just rolls over and takes it. Accepting half-assed apologies from Jack and her parents. I wanted some confrontation, and I don't think it's just my latin blood speaking on that regard. I wanted Emma to say "Look, you made me feel really bad!" and for Jack to say something other than "Ooopsie!" which is what his "apology" amounted to. 

Also, I haven't spoken much of it because I found those parts really boring, but a lot of the book is dedicated to Emma's ex Nick and the woman he dumped her for, Naomi. They were both awful, awful characters with no other reason for being that humiliating Emma and acting like that woman from the Biggest Loser times a thousand.


Bottom Line: As I said, I give massive props to Kristan Higgins for being such a good writer, she has mad chops in that regard. But her character building invariably infuriates me at one point or another during her books, and In Your Dreams is no exception, which sucks because I really liked Emmaline for the most part, and I liked her sister Angela a lot but, as a whole, the book was both maddening and underwhelming. 
star

November 16, 2014

Book Review: The Governess Club: Sara by Ellie Macdonald

The Deal: Sara Collins is shy and yearns for a quiet life as a vicar's wife, only she can't tell anyone that as she is one of the founding members of the Governess Club. She doesn't love teaching as her friends do, but is willing to do anything she can to help them fulfill their dreams. 

Nathan Grant is an ambitious young politician, who decided to spend some time in the countryside after his political career was derailed a bit, and it's then that the two met. 

Nathan is adventurous and a bit wild, traits that should usually frighten Sara but instead call to her own wild side, the side of her that was suppressed by her overbearing mother when she was younger and that now longs to break free. 

My Thoughts: Sarah's story short and for the most part sweet. She is an interesting character torn between her inner life and her outward persona, which she kind of hates a bit; but she was quite likable most of the time, which is good since this is a very character driven story. 

Nathan was okay, but I never felt like I fully got to know him and a lot of things about him were left pretty much in the air. He could also be a real jerk sometimes. 

The story works beautifully when they are together, though it can feel slow at times. And I'm not sure I loved the ending, but over all it was a good read. 
starstarstar

November 5, 2014

Review and Giveaway: A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Devi (Book Tour)

At First Sight: Mili Rathod has been married for as long as she can remember, to a man she hasn't seen since said wedding 20 years ago when she was only 4 years old. And there is no sign that she will be seeing her husband any time soon, but at least being married has given her certain opportunities that would have escaped her otherwise, like going to University and then to study abroad to America, all in the effort to become a well-educated modern wife.

Samir Rathod worked hard to become one of Bollywood's most successful directors, and enjoys living the high life and dating beautiful actresses. However, under that public persona lies a man who would do anything for his family. 

So when Samir's brother Virat finds out that he's still married to Mili, Samir decides he's going to fix this for his brother, hunting down the elusive bride and getting her to sign an annulment, so Virat can keep his life - and his new family - intact.

Once in Michigan, and after meeting Mili under less than auspicious circumstances, all of Samir's plans start to turn upside down, as Mili doesn't turn out to be like anything he imagined. She's smart, kind and beautiful, and before he knows what's going on, he finds himself stepping into Mili's life unable to tell her who he really is. 

Second Glance: There are many words I could use to describe A Bollywood Affair. For one is compulsively readable - once I started I couldn't and I didn't want to put it down! - and its sweet, and the characters are truly unforgettable. 

I kept thinking about Samir and Mili over and over, wondering how their story would unfold, and eager to get back to them. Both of them are very complex individuals. Samir is full of guilt and fear and is a bit damaged, but that doesn't stop him from being a good son and a good brother and generally a very decent human being. He has had lots of darkness in his life, but he is not a dark character.

Mili is stuck between two words and forever in a holding pattern, it seems. She wants to move forward, to start her life, but she can't until her husband comes to claim her; yet she has taken the time in between to make something of herself and take care of her grandmother as best she can and always willing to open her heart to new people. 

They were very interesting and I enjoyed being in their heads. The secondary characters were a little bit less well drawn - with the exception of Virat and his and Samir's mother Lata who seemed more fully formed - but since the story was centrally about the time Samir and Mili spend together I was totally fine with that. 

Even the setting was very interesting - most of the story takes place in Michigan with a little on Mumbai, and there is lots of references to Bollywood and the business, though they don't over power the story -and the food!! Oh, they talk about food so  much in this book.

Bottom Line: I can't recommend A Bollywood Affair enough. It really grabbed me from the start and I was sad to see it end - I kind of wanted to spend more time with Samir and Mili - but it was very satisfying. And you know what? It did have a very Bollywood-esque feel to it, thanks to the turns that the story took, and I mean that in a best posible way.
starstarstarstarstarPersonal Favorite 

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Alex

This review is part of the A Bollywood Affair Blog Tour @ Tasty Book Tours. For the rest of the tour stops go here.  And to enter the giveaway, just proceed bellow:


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