Book Review: Beth and the Bachelor by Susan Mallery

51L4yszr9eL.SX316.SY316Synopsis: Matchmaking friends send Beth Davis on a date with millionaire bachelor Todd Graham. Not exactly Cinderella material, Beth is a widowed, nearly-forty suburban mom. Being auctioned off for charity to someone twice his usual dating range (and closer to his own age), Todd was not happy about his date until he met Beth. He’s fascinated by her and wants to see her again, but Beth doesn’t trust he will eventually promise forever.

Cover: The original cover from the 90s isn’t all that fabulous, but the 2015 edition’s artwork is much improved and more in keeping to Susan Mallery’s other novels. The newer cover has a great sense of space and colour, as well as show an cute couple frolicking in a field… which I don’t actually recall ever happening, but still looks adorable.

Format: The ebook I have has some serious issues– every form of punctuation other than periods are boxes. Quotation marks, apostrophes, dashes, commas… You name it and it’s a square. Needless to say, this made it difficult to get lost in the story.

Plot: I quite enjoyed the general storyline of a recently widowed mother meeting love unexpectedly. I always like a love story where the man is a millionaire and yet down-to-earth and daddy-material. However much I liked the plot and assume Beth does what she does to get the storyline from point A to C, I would have rather some of those middle scenes been written differently so the MC was a little less *readerfacepalm*

Romance: Todd becomes book-boyfriend material. He starts off a little questionable, but soon transforms into a reformed player who owns his own business and is completely ready to commit to a family. He often puts Beth and her kids before everything else, and was very understanding of Beth’s foibles. Had Beth been more consistent of character, I might have considered these two a OTP.

Character Development: Beth annoyed me to no end. She was just so wishy-washy and had a hair-trigger temper, that I couldn’t quite like her. Beth could never make up her mind, and was constantly starting pointless arguments (some entirely avoidable had she only been willing to actually listen). Then when given advice by her best friend –repeatedly—within seconds she would realize she was in the wrong. While some of Beth’s fears were valid, one in particular was ridiculous. Beth’s two boyfriends were fabulous husband-material types, yet she was actually complaining about not having to date a bunch of jerks. Her love interest had the patience of a saint, because I would have long since left that relationship.

Quote: We can love a lot of people at the same time. It doesn’t mean we’re disloyal, it means that we’re living up to our potential as human beings. The capacity to love and feel compassion is one of the things that makes us special.

Verdict: I am sorry to say I was a bit disappointed by this book. I absolutely adore Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series, and was expecting this to be on par with her other works. However, as this book is written about ten years prior I can only assume the author was still learning her craft. If you want to read a book by Susan Mallery, skip this one.

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Review: His Christmas Bride to Be by Abigail Gordon

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Setting: This book takes place in the United Kingdom… something I was not entirely certain of until towards the end as I did not recognize the town’s name and the country was not given. However words like boot for a vehicle’s trunk space and London, plus returning to the UK gave the clues needed to locate where the story was taking place.

Writing Style: I am sorry to say this novel was rather repetitive. Most of the book was spent saying the same few bits over and over again with very little new information to add.

Character Development: There was no emotional connection for me as this story lacked depth. Despite both characters overcoming their issues, I could not bring myself to care about them as it all felt entirely flat.

Romance: This had the potential to be a soulful story, but I found myself wanting the two MCs to get together not from anticipation but so that the book would finally end. I found the relationship to be realistic enough, but weird (illogical maybe?).

Personal Thoughts: I have discovered that about half of the books I read that are written by British authors are purely plot driven rather than character driven. My personal preference is to emotionally connect with the characters rather than just have a bunch of action take place, so I know my thoughts on this story are relative to that.

Verdict: This book was really not worth reading as it lacked emotion, was redundant, and nothing to make you believe in the love the characters supposedly found.

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Book Review: London Belongs to Me by Jacquelyn Middleton

LBtMSynopsis: Alex is an outsider —a geeky fangirl—with dreams of becoming a playwright in a city she’s loved from afar yet never visited: London. After a devastating betrayal she heads to England for a new start in a place she feels like she’ll belong. Except there is no way to escape the demons of her past, the broken relationships, the panic attacks, and a jealous rival determined to destroy her new life. Alex begins to question everything from her life-long dream to her new friends to whether London is where she truly belongs.

Setting: There is no doubt this novel is set primarily in London. This jolly ol’ city is so big that, despite living there for two years, I did not see some of the things Alex does or explored all the same streets. At times I was able to picture what Alex is seeing perfectly based on the description and because I had been there myself.

Writing Style: It would be hard to set a story in London without Britishisms popping out, but anything a non-Brit may not know is clearly explained so the reader can understand what is being talked about. My only difficulty is when someone would be talking the next paragraph starts with an action beat and that same person would continue talking. This structure is confusing as normally a new paragraph is a new speaker. I had a reread a few conversations to figure out who was saying what.

POV: This novel is written in third person, so we get more than one perspective on what is happening. However, this sometimes happens in the middle of a scene that started with the main character, goes to someone else, and then back again.

Plot: To escape a less than satisfactory life, Alex moves to London in attempt to follow her dreams. If this hadn’t been so similar to my own experience a little over two years ago when I travelled for the first time in my life to England, I’d think it a bit improbable. While there are some “too good to be true moments” –particularly in comparison to my own tri–  it is the ending we all want for Alex.

Character Development: Some other reviews called Alex weak because she has panic attacks from anxiety. I will admit a couple of times I was giving a mental “Really?!”, but I found Alex to be quite realistic. Despite how brave I am alone in my room with a book, had I been in the same situations I would likely react in a similar manner. I don’t have an anxiety disorder nor am I prone to panic attacks, but I saw a lot of myself in Alex and completely identified with her experience… I have endured pretty similar situations as she does during my two years of living in London.

Romance: Let’s just say I would snap Mark up in a second, as I’m a sucker for Irishmen. Add in a bit of Harry, mix well, and you’ve got the perfect man! Both these men are great boyfriends with very different relationships. Alex’s relationship with Mark started slow and kept stalling because of Alex’s insecurity, Mark’s workaholic ways, and both having an inability to step up. However they finally overcome the obstacles to be adorable. All I can say is that I need to get a job in theatre if that’s where guys like these are hanging out!

Quote: “Maybe the best inspirational quote is actually your own.”

Verdict: There are some flaws in the writing, but what debut novel doesn’t have some? Overall this is a great book! Alex is a strong female character despite her imperfections, the boys are delish, and the story is real. I identified strongly with Alex after having travelled myself, but anyone who hasn’t travelled can know what it’s like to move overseas just by reading this novel. I am really looking forward to Jacquelyn’s next book!

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Book Review: Red Girl, Blue Boy by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

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Synopsis: Katie’s father is a Republican, Drew’s mother is a Democrat, and both are running for President. Their sixteen-year-olds shouldn’t get a long, but when the teenagers are thrown together on a talk show sparks fly of a different kind. With the entire nation watching and taking sides in their parents’ fight, the two teens wonder how anyone can fall in love with the one person you’re supposed to hate…

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Book Review: Hana by Lauren Oliver

Synopsis:  The summer before they’re supposed to be cured of the ability to love, best friends Lena and Hana begin to drift apart. While Lena shies away from underground music and parties with boys, Hana jumps at her last chance to experience the forbidden. For her, the summer is full of wild music, dancing—and even her first kiss. But on the surface, Hana must be a model of perfect behavior. She meets her approved match, Fred Hargrove, and glimpses the safe, comfortable life she’ll have with him once they marry. As the date for her cure draws ever closer, Hana desperately misses Lena, wonders how it feels to truly be in love, and is simultaneously terrified of rebelling and of falling into line.

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Book Review: Annabel by Lauren Oliver

Synopsis: Lena’s mother, Annabel, has always been a mystery—a ghost in Lena’s past. Until now. Lena Halloway’s mother, Annabel, supposedly committed suicide when Lena was only six years old. That’s the lie that Lena grew up believing, but the truth is very different. As a rebellious teenager, Annabel ran away from home and straight into the man she knew she was destined to marry. The world was different then—the regulations not as stringent, the cure only a decade old. Fast forward to the present, and Annabel is consigned to a dirty prison cell, where she nurtures her hope of escape and scratches one word over and over into the walls: Love

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Book Review: Alex by Lauren Oliver

Synopsis: When Alex sacrificed himself to save Lena, he thought he was committing himself to certain death, but what he got was almost worse. Imprisoned and tortured by the guards, his mind forces him to relive a past he would rather forget. But in the dark he grows stronger. Both hopeful and terrified, he fights to find his way back to her and the love he still clings to.

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