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review 2017-05-22 03:18
Brief Thoughts: Under the Mistletoe
Under the Mistletoe - Jill Shalvis

Under the Mistletoe

by Jill Shalvis

Lucky Harbor #6.5 (novella)




There's no place like home for the holidays.  And the Lucky Harbor Bed & Breakfast is bursting with festive lights and good cheer.  But for Mia, Christmas is turning out to be anything other than merry and bright.  Her recent break-up with her boyfriend Nick has made her return bittersweet.  But then a surprise arrives, when Nick follows her to town bearing gifts-and asking for forgiveness.

Nick grew up without a family of his own so he's overwhelmed by the love that Mia receives from all her relatives, gathered together to celebrate the season.  Under their watchful eyes, Nick finds earning back her trust the hardest thing he's ever had to do.  If he succeeds, he will receive the greatest gift of all, Mia's love for a lifetime.

I feel a little mean giving this novella such a meh rating, especially since it DOES also give us a brief glimpse of Chloe and Sawyer--my utmost favorite Lucky Harbor couple.  Unfortunately, the glimpse is simply too brief for my liking.

I know, I know.  Chloe and Sawyer already got their book.  This novella is about Mia and Nick.

It's a cutesy and teeth-achingly sweet short romance story, but the events and our main couple's behavior was so over-dramatic that I found myself rolling my eyes on several occasions.  To be totally honest, I was never really able to relate with Tara and Ford's daughter, Mia in the third Lucky Harbor book--her development wasn't entirely fleshed out.  And while I'm glad that she gets a nice Happily Ever After in a short story, I don't feel like this story was totally necessary.

AND it infringed upon Chloe and Sawyer's wedding day as well, which makes me a bit disappointed.  As my favorite Lucky Harbor couple, I would have liked for these two to get a special epilogue or novella for their wedding...

Er... yeah...  Moving along...

Anyway, like I said, the novella is cute and sweet, but I just couldn't find myself understanding what the conflict truly was, though I DO see what we were trying to make of the conflict.  That whole thing where Mia was always the one to pick the people in her life and never the other way around, and for once, she wanted someone to pick her.

Except, as an adopted child, even with feelings of abandonment, it doesn't escape my notice that... well, didn't her adoptive parents pick her to be a daughter, part of their lives?

Anyway, this short seemed like a pretty flimsy plot, with some super cheesy dialogue in the end when Nick was trying to win Mia back.  Still, once again, it's cute and it's sweet, so we get points for that.

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/05/brief-thoughts-under-mistletoe.html
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review 2017-05-22 03:10
Thoughts: Forever and a Day
Forever and a Day - Jill Shalvis

Forever and a Day

by Jill Shalvis

Book 6 of Lucky Harbor


While there were a lot of things about this book that bugged me, such as some characters' behaviors, or the almost too deliberate "Meant to Be" vibe coming off our couple in spades--actions, thoughts, and dialogue from both Grace's and Josh's POVs overtly mirroring each other--I found that I actually, really enjoyed this book.

Nonetheless, there were still a lot of loose ends left unwrapped, and some side tangents left unfollowed.  I feel satisfied, but at the same time... well, not quite.  If ya know what I mean.

The Story:
Grace has spent her entire life trying to live up to her adoptive parents' standards, the two of them being rocket scientist over-acheivers.  While she cannot follow in her parents' footsteps to take on a career in the sciences, Grace has found her niche in numbers, financials, accounting... the like, and is determined to be the most successful financial manager for any prospective business that will hire her.  Unfortunately, her goals are dashed when she takes a position in Seattle, only to find that her boss is more interested in what she can do for him on a more personal level, if she wants to keep rising in her field.  With that, Grace walks away from that job and arrived in Lucky Harbor, hoping to find herself and figure out what her next steps will be.

In the meantime, she finds herself taking up all forms of odd end jobs in order to survive her day-to-day, including an impromptu dog-walker job for Lucky Harbor's favorite young doctor, Joshua Scott.  In no time, she's also babysitting Dr. McHottie's son, trying to help counsel his paraplegic baby sister, and generally worming her way into somehow managing to help organize his personal life for him.

After all, as an ER doctor who also inherited his father's practice, Josh doesn't seem to be able to find an extra hour anywhere in his day to spend with his sister or his son; something that has been looming over him as a source of regret.  But Grace's presence seems to start a cascade of change in his life; not only is he uncontrollably attracted to her, but her passion for everything she does seems to help him figure out how to finally balance his work and personal life...

... or something like that...

My Thoughts:
There's no good way to really summarize a book when, to be totally honest, very little happens outside of the developments between our main couple.  Sure, there are also developments between Josh and his sister, but those almost feel picked over in favor of the romance.  And then there's even the nonexistent interactions between Grace and her parents--I would have really loved to have seen something happen between them, such as an understanding that Grace doesn't have to become as "perfect" as her rocket scientist parents.  But this subject was never really touched upon outside of Grace's own misgivings and self-doubts.

I would have loved to see that maybe Grace's adoptive parents were never truly that stuck on Grace being the best or the perfect, ambitious over achiever.  I would have loved to see whether or not all of these obligations she's set for herself, were maybe just her own, and not her parents'.

Coming back to the relationship between Josh and his sister, Anna--the story behind the animosity stems from Anna's anger after a tragic car accident that kills the Scott parents and leaves Anna paralyzed.  But as we can see, Anna seems perfectly capable of taking care of herself, but has made it her life's mission to make her elder brother miserable in order to sate her feelings of anger, unable to truly express her self-doubt about her own life.

I thought there could have been so much more development between these two; a way in which they could come to some sort of understanding.  After the death of their parents, Josh was also thrown into a whirlwind of chaos, because not long before his parents died, he was left with little Toby when the little boy's mother walks away, never looking back.  On top of that, Josh had just started his career as a doctor.

The two Scott siblings had so much going on between the two of them, in their lives, and to add onto that, we learn that they are too stubborn for their own good to initiate taking a step towards working out their issues and fixing their relationship.

Even with Grace's presence as a catalyst, I think there could have been so much more potential between Josh and Anna's sibling relationship development.  The version in this book feels kind of deflated, truth be told.

Anyway, Jill Shalvis still manages to deliver a very enjoyable romance, though she DOES tend to focus too much on the romance, at the detriment of other tangential story lines that would have been awesome if expanded upon.

Nonetheless, Forever and a Day is probably my favorite of this second trio of books in the Lucky Harbor series.  Grace's unabashed show of ogling and groping Josh was actually kind of entertaining.  This is one couple whose romantic development actually felt fairly down-to-earth, with an insta-lust slowly growing into a full blown relationship, and then to love.

It's just unfortunate that their relationship still suffers from that same ailment that all romance novel couples suffer from--lack of proper communication.  No matter that Grace DOES spend a lot of time trying to pry into Josh's stubborn, tight-lipped secrets, whether to be helpful in figuring out how to take care of him and his family, or just out of pure curiosity.  The two still spend a lot of time second-guessing what each other want for their lives without once trying to talk it out until the end.

Meanwhile, Anna tended to get on my nerves with her bratty behavior--some of it that could have even been quite dangerous to a five year old little boy--and so did the way that Josh treated her.  These siblings could really use some good counseling, mainly on how to stop purposefully pissing each other off.  Then again, being one fourth of a set of siblings myself, I know perfectly well that there is no such thing as logical discussion when it comes to siblings and rivalry and the like.  Sometimes, you just fight for the stupidest reasons... because you can.  It's what siblings do.  Because at the end of the day, you're still related to each other.

On a side note, the best part of this book was probably the ornery duo of Josh's son, Toby, and their little devil of a pug puppy, Tank.  These two were so much adorbs that I couldn't help smiling every time they presented in the story!


Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/05/thoughts-forever-and-day.html
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text 2017-05-19 15:19
The Street Where She Lives by Jill Shalvis $1.99
The Street Where She Lives - Jill Shalvis

When Rachel Wellers is injured in a hit-and-run accident, her life falls apart. The job she loves is threatened. Her twelve-year-old daughter is taking care of her instead of the other way around. And to complete the catastrophe, Ben Asher—the man she sent away thirteen years ago—is back, tipped off by her daughter that they need him.


Ben drops everything the minute he hears Rachel has been injured and returns to the city he swore he'd never visit again. He doesn't want to question his motives for doing so…he only knows he has to protect Rachel. He's convinced the hit-and-run wasn't an accident. And worse, Rachel might have been hurt because of him…

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review 2017-05-14 21:53
Always on My Mind
Always On My Mind - Jill Shalvis

Leah and Jack, best friends since childhood, both are interested in more. Both have hangups from childhood. Leah much more so than Jack. Suffice to say, her father was a major asshole. Jack's mother was in treatment for cancer, so to help her feel better, Leah told a little fib. What ensues next is a nice friends to lovers story.
I liked seeing some secondary characters. Lucille and the Seniors are a hoot. Secondary storyline about an arsonist added (very) minor suspense to the story.
Ben's story is next and he is funny in this one.

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review 2017-05-09 18:34
Thoughts: Backwoods
Backwoods - Jill Sorenson


by Jill Sorenson

Book 4 of Aftershock



The more you trust, the more you risk…

When plans for a wilderness retreat with her teenage daughter Brooke go awry, Abby Hammond reluctantly pairs up with Brooke's stepbrother and his dad, Nathan Strom, for the week-long trek.  The only thing Abby has in common with the bad-boy former pro athlete is that their exes cheated with each other.  That…and a visceral attraction that's growing more complicated with every step through the picturesque woods.

Nathan's wild-card reputation lost him his career and his family.  After years of regret, he's ready to fight for what truly matters—and that includes Abby's hard-won trust.  When Brooke goes missing, Nathan knows he's her best and only hope of rescue.  But the deeper into the rugged mountains they go, the more dangerous the territory will prove—for their safety and for their hearts.

I've been enjoying Jill Sorenson's Aftershock series for the past three books, and while they aren't necessarily my favorite reads, they are exciting and attention-hooking, to the point that the books become un-put-down-able.  Sorenson always jumps right into the action, with an earthquake burying San Diego in the first book, a plane crash and a loose killer in the second, and a kidnapping of the main characters into the harsh California badlands in the third.

Backwoods felt kind of tame and mellow in comparison.  Though to be fair, we DO get a glimpse of what's to come when Abby keeps dropping news article mentions about missing young girls and a dead body or two in the area she and her daughter and company will be hiking around.

And to be totally honest, I get that you shouldn't wrap yourself in a bubble just because some bad things happen in life, but shouldn't we also be a bit more cautious if young girls keep going missing in the same area within a certain time frame.  I'm no advocate of coincidences, honestly, and so that just screams SERIAL KILLER RAPIST to me.  But then again, I've maybe read one two many crime thrillers, and grew up with a very paranoid mother who makes sure to lock the doors all the time and calls you regularly when you're out with friends just to make sure you're not lying in a ditch somewhere.

Anyway, logic aside, that was only one of the reasons I didn't find Backwoods as enjoyable as the other three Aftershock books.  To be totally honest, our entire crew of characters is just a walking TSTL team waiting to happen, and that's only because they are letting a socially and sexually unaware eighteen year old girl lead them.  I'm not saying that eighteen year old girls aren't capable of leading a group into the wilderness for a nice few days of hiking--obviously Brooke knows what she's doing and can organize a mean hiking expedition with the best of them.

But when she stopped to talk to two strangers, completely ignorant of the leering looks one of them was giving her, and then proceeded to tell said strangers where she and crew were heading... Well, girl you might as well just throw yourself into their arms and ask to be kidnapped if you're going to outline your entire trip, including bathroom breaks to people you don't know.

Once again...  A lot of young women have gone missing in this area.  If Abby weren't so paranoid, and if Nathan hadn't cut Brooke's conversation off, I'm not sure Brooke would have made it very far in her hiking endeavors.


The book actually starts off pretty slow with a lot of family drama that seriously feels like a dysfunctional family soap.  Nathan's wife Lydia cheated on him with Abby's husband; Abby walked in on her husband Ray going at it with Lydia.  Now their two respective kids seem to be fighting an intense case of teenage hormones for each other... and then Abby and Nathan end up getting it on.  Later on, we even find out that Ray cheated on Lydia and another divorce is in the works.

Meanwhile, our group spends their time trying to keep the peace while hiking around in the wilderness--a trip that is supposed to take at least three days with no contact with the outside world.  Meanwhile, a lot of young women have gone missing from this location... Have I already mentioned that?

And Brooke is all, "Stop being so paranoid, Mom.  Nothing is going to happen."

Famous last words.

Backwoods had a promising premise.  I just wish I could scrounge up enough care for the characters to like this book more.  The rest of the book really was pretty exciting and intense.  And as per Jill Sorenson standards, the story was fast-paced; I rolled through it pretty quickly.

The characters, mainly, were the most frustrating and I had trouble relating with them.  In fact, I don't even think I was able to like any of the characters, which, while isn't a first for me, is not exactly a very common thing.  Sometimes, there's at least one or two characters I can find some like for.  Unfortunately, Backwoods is not one of those books.

So... probably if not for the fact that the book was written well and the story was not bad, I probably would have given this book a much lower rating.  Call me biased--I DO like Jill Sorenson and her books, and the Aftershock series is an overall enjoyable one.




Roll #7:
This book takes place in California.

Page Count:  378
Cash Award:  $3.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $39.00

See Also:  Freebie Roll Activities











Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/05/thoughts-backwoods.html
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