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review 2020-03-17 17:20
Sisters By Choice
Sisters by Choice - Susan Mallery

Well this is hard. I loved this series and this latest book was a flop with me. I think the main issue that the sisters by choice only works for two of the characters. One of the characters in this story learned nothing and got rewarded for it. The character development was lacking and the dialogue was so off in some places. 

 

"Sisters by Choice" follows business owner Sophie Lane, her cousin Kristine, and their second cousin (I think that's what she is) Heather. Sophie returns to Blackberry Island after a fire destroys her business trying to start again. Kristine a stay at home mom has bigger dreams for herself, but a husband who doesn't support her. Heather wants to leave the island and her emotionally and physically (at times) abusive mother behind for college. This book follows the three women as they try to get back on track.

 

So the book at times didn't seem all linked in. We know the three women interact, but mostly it is Sophie and Kristine. Heather does interact with Sophie a lot more than she does Kristine. And I did like all of the scenes with Sophie and Kristine and needed more of that. That said, the three women needed more development.


Sophie is just blind to her faults to the point I got sick of reading about them. I started to get annoyed by her and her "quirks". I also did loath people (Kristine) acting as if her getting married was the only thing she really needed in her life. Gah. At least Mallery stuck with Sophie staying single with no kids throughout. I hate when romance writers do that well the love of a good man changed her. I personally don't want to get married or have kids. Idris Elba can show up here divorced and buck naked and that's not going to change what I want. I just didn't like her love interest (he was smug and talked down to her I thought) and hated how she was just used to prop up another character who didn't need/deserve it.

 

Kristine was the only story-line I was invested in. Her husband is a sexist. Heck, her one son was on the way to being one. I liked the look at how some people view stay at home moms. I didn't think the ending was realistic to her story-line. 

 

Heather was an enabler. Her mother and her have a mutual destructive relationship. I felt bad for her at first, but as others said, she needed to get away and move on. I just thought her story-line was boring after a while.


The other characters don't really do much in this. I wish that previous characters had shown up or been mentioned. I loved this series because Blackberry Island sounded magical and fun and we don't get much of the characters interacting with the setting at all I thought. 

 

The ending was a whatever to me. A secondary character who is the worst gets rewarded and it annoyed the life out of me. 

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text 2020-03-16 17:21
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
Sisters by Choice - Susan Mallery

I really didn't enjoy how one of the story-lines ended. And per usual there are only two women who are sisters by choice. The third cousin is an asshole and I loathed how everyone accommodated her. I loved most of the books in this series and this was a let-down. 

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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 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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