For the last year I've become very picky about what I choose to read. I believe I'm very sure about my likes and dislikes at this point. I'm a Literary Fiction and Historical Gal. I really want to read my own books, but have bitten off more than I can chew, in past years, in requests.
Going forward, perusing book websites to acquire more books will be in my past. I want to concentrate on reading what I've already obtained. My concentration will be put on the social media sites that are more of my lane and those are Goodreads and Booklikes. I'm a recovering Instagram scroller and Youtube time waster. This year I will have more focus and drive for what inspires me and allows me to thrive.
Flights of Fancy by Jen Turano
The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye
An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozi Obioma
The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benendict
The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden
Queen Victoria: Daughter, Wife, Mother and Widow by Lucy Worsley
Last Boat Out of Shanghai by Helen Zia
The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman
The Orphan Sisters by Shirley Dickson
We Cast A Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin
House of Stone by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma
Honestly this just wasn't good. There are ever changing romantic partners, stupid secrets being kept from people, and honestly the chemistry between the entire cast of characters was non-existent. Then Mallery tries to include a plot about the evil mother who abandoned her children that didn't work at all. I am wondering if I should stop reading her hoping to find the magic I did in the "Blackberry Island" series.
"Secrets of the Tulip Sisters" has Kelly Murphy at a crossroads in her romantic life. Her long time boyfriend that she felt meh about broke up with her. And now a man that she used to have a crush on is pushing for them to have a friends (well not that) with benefits situation cause apparently neither of them have heard of masturbation. Seriously the entire plot point between Kelly and Griffith was something that I read like a bad 80s romantic comedy. Shit, maybe early 2000s, I feel like I watched a movie called Friends with Benefits and now I feel slightly horrified. On top of this, Kelly's younger sister Olivia (who she is slightly estranged from) has returned home. Olivia is running from some things she hasn't told her sister of father. She thinks returning back home to where her ex now lives may lead to something more. Instead, Olivia finds herself in a, hey we just met, let's have sex situation with someone.
Look, I love romance novels, but this whole book was flat out nonsense. The two sisters romantic partners were bland and beige. I also hated, hated that apparently Kelly never apparently had an orgasm and we were forced as readers to read as Griffith talked to her about her g spot. I lost the will to live. And no, it's not because I don't think those are conversations that lovers should have with each other. It was because it didn't feel realistic and oh, it wasn't hot! I was bored. Kelly and Olivia both needed therapists and to tell their father what a shit person he was by never standing up to their terrible mother.
And speaking of their father, his romance was weird and not sexy at all. He was a joke and a half and his love interest being into him was not believable.
When Kelly and Olivia's mother returned, I was hoping for some actual conversations to take place, but nothing doing. Either they hid form her, had nasty comments, and their mother deflected and acted like an asshole. I don't know what was going on. I found myself frustrated the whole time I read this.
The writing was meh, maybe if we just followed one of them it would have worked better. Mallery trying to juggle three love stories didn't work in this one. No one had priority and there was too much going on.
The flow was bad. I should have DNFed, but kept punishing myself. I saw a lot of people shelved this one as a DNF or posted a review they couldn't finish it. This needed edited heavily. We either needed to focus on the estranged sisters becoming closer trope, or the evil mother one. And if you are doing evil mother, don't make her a Disney cartoon character. Well shoot, maybe, Cinderella's stepmother still scares the shit out of me.
The setting of the book could have worked. Kelly and her father are running their family tulip farm. Too bad we don't focus on that more. Instead we focus more on Griffith's business into building tiny houses which honestly says more about this character than I could actually write.
The ending slaps everything together for a rushed HEA for all couples.
Ehh. This was just okay. I really didn't get why people were keeping secrets from each other. And the mom being some evil person didn't really work. She read as a terrible caricature after awhile. And you don't have a good idea why she insists on coming back.
The two sisters (Kelly and Olivia) needed more scenes together. And I felt super embarrassed by Kelly's love interest determined to make sure she had an orgasm. Good lord, sometimes it just doesn't happen for us. And the book writing it that she had a block cause of issues with her family. Ughh.
Per usual, Mallery doesn't just focus on the two sisters though. We also get a POV of the dad's love interest which could have been cut. The whole book took forever (while reading).
So much win. It's kind of amazing how much I love Moriarty's books. I really liked how it all came together. Interesting universe with so many pirates and dragons and water sprites, but also committees and dull trips and people being late to pick one up at the station. I only had two tiny quibbles: it's weird to read about a girl living in a more-or-less-contemporaneous setting who wears dresses or skirts all the time. It's just a slight thing, but it pulls me just the tiniest bit out of the story every time a dress or skirt is mentioned because I so rarely see girls or women in them anymore. And also, this is a very white world. Not that everyone is explicitly called white, but because no one isn't. The illustrations reinforce the white-is-default impression. It's a good thing that I've become so accustomed to reading books with a diverse cast that I can't stop noticing when there aren't any other characters.
Despite those two issues, I loved the book. It's my favorite middle grade in I don't know how long. Highly recommended for white readers.