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text 2018-04-29 15:16
April 2018 Reading Wrap Up
Paper Girls (Book One) - Matt Wilson,Cliff Chiang,Jared K. Fletcher,Brian K. Vaughan
Witches of East End - Melissa de la Cruz
Barefoot Season (Blackberry Island) - Susan Mallery
Evening Stars - Susan Mallery
The Three Fates - Kate Quinn

April was all about the love for my library. I discovered that in addition to having a subscription to OverDrive, my library also has a subscription to RB Digital (a service that has some book choices that overlap with OD, but also has more offerings, including magazines).

 

Books attached to the post are my favorites for the month.

 

Dewey Read-a-thon stats: 5 books, 279 pages read; one mini-challenge completed; 6 hours and 41 minutes reading time. 

 

 

Challenges:

BL/GR: 42/75 - I increased by goal by 23 books and I am already over the 50% mark!

Pop Sugar: 10 new prompts filled; 24/50 prompts filled total

 

 

Read:

1. It's in His Kiss (Lucky Harbor #10) by Jill Shalvis - 3 stars

2. Paper Girls (Book One) by Brian K. Vaughan et al - 4.5 stars

3. George by Alex Gino - 3.5 stars

4. Once Upon a Spine (A Bibliophile Mystery #11) by Kate Carlisle - 1 star

5. Witches of East End (The Beauchamp Family #1) by Melissa de la Cruz - 5 stars

6. Barefoot Season (Blackberry Island #1) by Susan Mallery - 5 stars

7. The Irish Americans: A History by Jay P. Dolan - 2.5 stars

8. Hospitality and Homicide (Tourist Trap Mystery #8) by Lynn Cahoon - 3 stars

9. Three Sisters (Blackberry Island #2) by Susan Mallery - 3 stars

10. Wonderment in Death (...In Death #41.5) by J.D. Robb - 3 stars

11. Evening Stars (Blackberry Island #3) by Susan Mallery - 5 stars

12. Island Girls by Nancy Thayer 3.5 stars

13. One Wish (Thunder Point #7) by Robyn Carr - 2.5 stars

14. Winter Eve (Shifters of Ashwood Falls #0.5) by Lia Davis - 3.5 stars

15. Catherine Finds Love (Ruby Springs Brides #1) by Karla Gracey - 3 stars

16. Desperate (Lipstick and Lead #1) by Sylvia McDaniel - 2.5 stars

17. Doc's Town (Prossers Bay #0.5) by Cheryl Phipps - 1 star

18. Three Fates by Kate Quinn - 4 stars

 

DNF'd:

1. I Contain Multitudes by Ed Young - I couldn't make it through the first chapter. Sorry Flat Book Society. 

 

2. Death on Tap (Sloan Krause Mystery #1) by Ellie Alexander - Boring, badly drawn characters and lots of details about things that don't matter. Suffers greatly from first book-itis. Still no dead body at the 20% mark so I cut my loses there.

 

3. Driftwood Cottage (Chesapeake Shores #5) by Sherryl Woods - Stupid morons, their poor kid who is already one year old and looking for an escape away from his parents, and his meddling family left me cold at the 15% mark. Couldn't care about any of these characters to read their stories, so I am DNF'ing the whole series. 

 

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review 2018-04-20 23:04
Evening Stars (Blackberry Island #3) by Susan Mallery
Evening Stars - Susan Mallery

This is a story about Nina and her weird, sometimes dysfunctional family. Nina is the lead nurse and right hand woman to Dr. Andi from book two. Nina had dreams of medical school and leaving the island, but family issues convinced her to choose nursing school and staying to help take care of her family and the family business (antiques). So Nina pushes her sister to leave the island and explore her dreams, but that leaves Averil at almost 30 with a lot of unanswered questions and stunted maturity which leaves her marriage to a great guy in jeopardy. To help her move on and become an adult, Averil returns home and old wounds are re-opened but are actually dealt with by Averil and Nina (not so much the mom). 

 

Added to Nina's plate is the return of her high school sweetheart Dylan. He broke her heart and she gave up on her dreams after that. He is back to go into practice with his father and to try and win back Nina. Complicating that is Kyle, a Navy fighter pilot who had a huge crush on Nina when he was a kid and she was babysitting his little sister. Kyle is a smooth talker and according to Nina, a sex god - according to me he came off as CREEPY AS FUCK. Seriously, everything he said was a line or a dramatic declaration of undying love. I'm glad Nina got her needs taken care of by him, but slow your roll dude. He walked the devoted/stalker line every time he was on the page. 

 

I read this book in one day, because there was a good mix of plot and character arc development. I'm firmly on Team Bertie - she was the unsung hero of the book, with a honorable mention to Cindy, the antique miracle worker.  Also loved Nina's ending, giving a strong HEA vibe without engagement/marriage/baby mentions that typically end a romance novel.

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review 2018-04-20 22:23
Three Sisters (Blackberry Island #2) by Susan Mallery
Three Sisters (A Blackberry Island Novel) - Susan Mallery

I did enjoy this book, but not as much as I did books one and three. The title refers to the three Queen Anne style homes that sit on a hill on the island. 

 

House on the left is home to Deanna and her family. On the outside they are a picture of polished perfection; internal strife among the family is starting to crack the façade. Deanna had a shitty childhood and deals with her insecurities via her undiagnosed OCD. Her life is spinning out of control and she honestly wants to change, but is very isolated.

 

House on the left is home to Boston and her husband. They are still grieving the sudden death of their baby and drifting apart. Boston channels her artistic ability into creating and recreating images of her baby. Her husband is mean to her on purpose or drinks a lot as his coping mechanism. Honestly Zeke could go fuck right off the planet and I would cheered. 

 

House in the middle is a run down, ready for Halloween all year round fixer upper. As the book starts, Andi is the new proud owner of said house of Halloween and is doing a total gut of the inside and clean up of the outside. She is a pediatrician and wants to open her own practice on the ground floor of her home, then live in the other two levels. She was stood up at the altar by a guy she dated for ten years, but his name is erased from her mind at the sight of her contractor's fine butt. 

 

Over time, the three women grow close (awkward moments early in the friendship made it feel more realistic and less like a sorority) and reach out to each other when the men fuck up (looks at Zeke). There is a lot of wine drinking in this story. Deanna's mental condition is treated by medication and her family dynamics are treated by a therapist. Again, something that in regular romance would have been cured by an orgasm or two is actually dealt with honestly and with grace in this book. Boston drew courage from Deanna's change and started moving forward in a healthy way as well. Both of these character's arcs were wonderful to watch unfold.

 

Then there was Andi's arc - the author made her a TSTL sex kitten a little past the half way mark and her ending was so typical of the run of the mill contemporary romance genre. In the second half of the book she just got on my last damn nerve. Still her meeting with her ex-fiancé was great to read. But the rest of her story was crap.

 

I went into reading the third book soon after finishing this book, so Andi's arc issues didn't sour the story overall and I wanted more Blackberry Island life. Appearance by Michelle from book one was fun to read.

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review 2018-04-20 21:55
Barefoot Season (Blackberry Island #1) by Susan Mallery
Barefoot Season (Blackberry Island) - Susan Mallery

I loved this book. It is definitely going on my best of list for this year. This is going to be nothing but a love fest of a review.

 

Michelle is back home in Blackberry Island (located off the coast of Seattle and in the Pugent Sound) after being wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan (the book only mentions "the desert") - she is home to rehab her hip and claim her inheritance, the Blackberry Island Inn. She is in pain, has crippling PTSD, and soon realizes that her inheritance is more a PITA than her hip. She is snarly, adjusting poorly to civilian life, and is drinking heavily to help her deal with everything.

 

Carly is the manager, jill-of-all-trades of Blackberry Island Inn. She and Michelle have a twisted history, and she is struggling to take care of her 9 year old daughter and run the inn now that the trustee of the inn is deceased - Michelle's mom Brenda. 

 

Michelle and Carly are trying to rise above their shitty childhoods and fucked up family dynamics; together, they help each other get a really good place in their lives at the end. Oh, but that journey is a minefield of past hurts, truths long buried, and one bank manager who holds onto grudges for more than a decade. There are romantic elements, mostly on Carly's end as Michelle's romantic relationship started off with the grumpiest former Army sniper trying to help her deal with her shit from three deployments.

 

What I love is that Michelle is not a SEAL, Delta Force, Ranger, SOF or anything - she was a supply troop! But the nature of war has changed; no longer is the super duper elite macho types getting killed, but anyone could be blown away by an IED or sniper fire. I loved to see women vets in romance, even better when they are given such a realistic portrayal like in this book. Also this book showcased what PTSD really looks like for women vets and no magic peen was used to "cure" Michelle. Instead she got into a vet support group, got on some medication, and stopped drinking so heavily (her drinking was a coping mechanism and not alcoholism, but she still watches what and how much she drinks). And she rehabbed a neglected/abused dog, giving her purpose - this happens in the real world and there are vet groups designed to give emotional support dogs to vets to help them recover. 

 

Seriously recommend. I was so glad I decided to request all three books from ILL so I could start book two right after finishing this book.

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review 2018-02-26 15:44
Two Sisters and A Daughter
Sisters Like Us (Mischief Bay) - Susan Mallery

"Sisters Like Us" focuses on two sisters (Harper and Stacey) and Harper's daughter, Becca. This book picks up more than a year after the events in "A Million Little Pieces." There is a connection via the hero in this book to the characters in the last book, so you do have a tenuous connection there. I think that my problem with this one is that the transition from Harper to Stacey's POVs don't work. You honestly did not need Becca included in this. And I still don't know if Stacey had Asperger's Syndrome or what. Mallery is not clear about that and it just felt like it was something that someone would mention. There is also unresolved tension from Harper and Stacey's mom that I wish had been actually worked out. She acts like a jerk and everyone ignores it.

 

Stacey is the top in her field and now that she is expecting her first child, she and her husband agree that he will be the one to stay home while she continues to work. Though Stacey gets science, she doesn't get how having a baby is going to change her and she honestly doesn't want it to. Stacey is also hiding her pregnancy from her mother because she's terrible. I honestly didn't get why anyone was even dealing with the mom in this story, she's a nasty piece of work and I was not a fan.

 

Harper is still trying to recover after being left and divorced. Running her own virtual assistant business (which I was very intrigued by) doesn't leave her with a lot of time to be there to listen to her daughter Becca, but she is trying. Harper has a long time client, Lucas, that definitely seems to be sniffing around her and she's wondering if she is ready to give romance another go.


Becca's story should have been another book since it didn't fit well in here that much. Becca is dealing with losing her friends during the school year when she finally admits a secret to her best friend. Falling for her aunt's nephew, Becca starts thinking about having sex for the first time and what to do about her lack of a relationship with her father. 

 

Stacey's husband was not really there at all in this book. Lucas was up front and center in the story and I am sorry, I was over that clown after he pulls a BS move after forcing his way into Harper's life. The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth and I did not find myself rooting for him at all. The only saving grace was Becca told his tiresome butt off and he deserved it. 

 

Most of Stacey's POV is oddly flat and it's so jarring to go from her to Harper. When we jump into Becca it becomes a bit worse. I think if we either focused on the two sisters the book could have been stronger or just have a stand alone book with Becca. 


The ending was abrupt as anything and I was surprised there was not more to the story. There was so much left unresolved regarding Becca and her father that if Mallery does another book in this series, I hope she follows up with her. 

 

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