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review 2020-05-26 15:46
What You Wish For
What You Wish For - Katherine Center

Please note that I received this via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review. 

 

This is my least favorite Center book. I don't think she did a good job setting up our main character, Samantha Casey. Also, I didn't really like her (sorry, not sorry). I thought she was way too entwined with the founders of her school and her justification for trying to elbow their daughter out of things was a bit...yeah. And I thought her "romance" with the new principal was nothing but fizzle. It didn't work and the whole be joyful thing started to make me roll my eyes. I don't know what happened while reading this, I just started to get more and more annoyed and the centering around school shootings felt glib? I don't know, it just didn't work.

 

"What You Wish For" follows librarian Samantha Casey. Samantha is happy at her job working as an elementary school librarian in Galveston, Texas. When the school's founder dies, the board elects a new principal, Duncan Carpenter who Samantha used to know from another school and who she had a crush on. Duncan though is not like the man she used to know. He's unsmiling and focused on upgrading the school in event of active shooters. Samantha and others though are planning on making Duncan remember how to be joyful again.


That sounds like something from the Hallmark movie channel. And I say this as someone that loves the Hallmark movie channel. It was just too much. Samantha and her whole be happy and bright thing was aggravating. We get some insight into her past, but eh. I don't know, I just didn't like her. She was too focused on everyone else and on the former principal's widow and how she was grieving. 

 

Not too much to say about Duncan. He is bland as bland can be. I don't think he and Samantha made any sense as a couple. Center doesn't set them up to even get along for the majority of the book and I don't get why either one of them were attracted to each other.

 

The other characters are not developed at all. I can't even remember Samantha's best friend's name and the only thing I recall is that she is into math and wore math pun shirts.

 

The founder's daughter, Tina, doesn't like Samantha and honestly I got why. She was trying to push her out of her own life. I wish that someone had pointed that out to her. It was a bit creepy and I recall one of my friends telling a story of how a friend of her sister's was always going on about how their mom was her second mom. She just felt offended by the whole thing. 


The writing didn't work for me and the flow of the book was pretty bad. It just stops and starts. Probably because we follow Samantha's POV throughout the book and Center jumps back and forth a lot.

 

The ending was just...nope. I got nothing. It didn't work for me even a little. I think another reviewer said this was a book about nothing and honestly it read that way to me a little. Maybe if Center had actually focused on grieving and realizing that Tina is grieving her father's death. Samantha being judgey towards her through the whole book was not even a little bit cute. Or if Center had actually shown that school shootings in the US are serious and have a lot of repercussions to how we teach kids nowadays. Center seemed to stay away from that whole thing. Not that a school should be a prison and not a place for learning, but what are educators supposed to do when it comes to safety? Just saying be joyful and in the moment is up there with thoughts and prayers with me.

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review 2020-05-18 18:26
The Next Always
The Next Always (Book One of the Inn Boonsboro Trilogy) - Nora Roberts

Well this is my second attempt at reading this book. I tried back in 2017 and just gave up at that point. I think it was all of the information provided about the renovations and decorating. Sorry, I just didn't care. And this was before my whole house needed to be renovated in 2018 and even then I have to say I doubt I would have cared this much still about decorative details. For readers who don't know. the Inn BoonsBoro is a real live place that Roberts owns and operates. And yes the inn does have rooms based on romantic literature pairings. There is an Eve and Roarke room which...I am sorry, still makes me laugh. The book itself was solid though when you ignored the decorating and renovation stuff. I liked the characters of Beckett and Clare. I thought that Roberts did a great job with a widow moving on so this had shades of 'second chance' romance since Beckett and Clare knew each other as kids, but not quite since they only became involved in this book. That said, this book borrows a lot from previous Roberts trilogies. I wonder at all of her single mom characters having three kids (see "In the Garden" and even "The Chesapeake Bay series" that had three boys initially which expanded to four boys.)

 

"The Next Always" follows Beckett Montgomery (shout-out to Jude Deveraux's Montgomery series) and Clare Brewster. Clare returned to BoonsBoro after the death of her husband. She owns a bookstore and is raising her three young sons with help from her parents and her in-laws. She thinks about romance, but no one has touched her the way her dead husband Clint did. That is until Beckett Montgomery. Clare has known Beckett for years. She now wonders about him and feels heat when he is near. As for Beckett, he had feelings for Clare way back in high school but never stood a chance with her when she fell in love with her husband. Now he has a chance with her and wants to make it work. Throw in Clare's three sons, a ghost, and a stalker, and you have "The Next Always."

 

I really did like Clare, I loved how open she was with still loving her husband Clint, but realizing she was developing feelings for Beckett. I hate romances which either make the dead spouse a louse and or just make it that the woman or man in question was not as big a love as the new one (looking at you Cedar Cove and Virgin River series). I think that is why most romance readers stay away from widow/widower romances, because you have to wonder at the person finding love again when the first time sucked so bad. Clare's three sons were adorable and cracked me up.

 

Beckett was great and we get some insight into him and his brothers, Ryder and Owen. Have to say that I loathed Ryder in this one. Him refusing to call a woman by her first damn name and just her job description ticked me off. I also liked Beckett realizing he was dating a single mother and she came in a package. He also didn't get his back up about Clare's first marriage.

 

The secondary characters such as Owen, Hope, and Avery were great. As said above, I hated Ryder. Can Roberts not always include some random asshole that no one calls out for his assholiness? I noticed in her later book she has pretty much done away with the alpha male trope (thank God). I am remembering how much I loved "Currents" for this very reason. We get a male who can actually discuss his feelings and not be a jerk to the woman he supposedly loves.

 

The mom in this one was pretty absent besides popping in and demanding her sons change things. She needed way more development.

 

The writing was pretty good, think the whole stalking angle was a wash though since it didn't really fit in the book, I imagine Roberts did this to add in some tension.

The setting of BoonsBoro sounds pretty cool. I have driven past this area before (I live in VA and my family is back in PA) so I have to admit I am tempted to go by it to just see if it matches what is in my head. Onto the next book in the series when it is available via the library!

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review 2020-05-17 23:33
Sweat and Soap (manga, vol. 2) by Kintetsu Yamada, translated by Matt Treyvaud
Sweat and Soap, Vol. 2 - Kintetsu Yamada,Matt Treyvaud

Asako finds herself having to talk to Natori's assistant, Korisu Ichise, who she's worried might have a crush on Natori. Then Natori and Asako go on a company trip, where hiding their relationship becomes a little more difficult than expected. After that, Asako visits her family and ends up inviting Natori to the restaurant her brother Keita works at. Natori is aware of how close Asako is to Keita and wants to make a good impression. Meanwhile, Keita is convinced that Natori must secretly be a sleazebag who's playing his sister.

I still really like Yamada's art style, and Asako and Natori are a cute couple whose romance I'm enjoying, even if aspects of it are a bit weird. Still, this volume wasn't quite as good as the first one.

In the first volume, Asako's body odor insecurities were extremely intense. She'd use her work breaks to reapply deodorant and would stay quiet and still in order to avoid sweating. The fact that Natori liked the way she smelled and actually enjoyed it if she sweated a bit was embarrassing and surprising to her.

In this volume, it felt like the author scaled Asako's body odor insecurities way back, more than really made sense. Yes, Asako's self-esteem was gradually improving, but Asako had been dealing with these issues since childhood. She'd only been dating Natori for a couple months - it was hard to believe that she'd be able to go on a company trip without her body odor worries being much of an issue. I had thought she'd fret over the toiletries she needed to bring, whether anyone would notice all the stuff she'd packed, whether she'd be able to find time to reapply deodorant, etc., but from the sounds of things she might not have even brought any of her soaps and things from home - there was a part where Natori noted that she smelled like a soap that wasn't one of the ones he'd created.

I'm also not sure I liked the way Asako's jealousy over Korisu was handled. After their talk about the missed text message at the end of the first volume, I expected better from these characters than

Natori deciding that he couldn't continue treating Korisu, who he'd known for three years and viewed like a little sister, so familiarly.

(spoiler show)

On the plus side, at least it was his own decision and not something Asako asked him to do.

The second half of the volume, featuring Asako's family, was great. I loved how close they all were, and I'm really looking forward to Natori eventually getting to meet the whole family. This time around, Natori just got to meet Asako's brother, who'd been protective of her since back when they were kids and she was being bullied. Dinner at the Italian restaurant Keita works at turned into a mini battle as Natori tried to make a good impression while Keita turned everything from their introduction to the menu into a test of Natori's character. Asako, meanwhile, was completely oblivious and thought they were getting along just fine.

I definitely plan to continue this series, even though this particular volume wasn't quite as enjoyable for me as the first one. Asako and Natori have been a pretty sweet and supportive couple so far, and it's nice to read a romance manga starring adults, relatively low-drama ones at that.

Extras:

  • Character profiles for Asako, Natori, Korisu, and Keita
  • A 2-page manga-style afterword by the author
  • A one-page comic continuing the scene on the cover
  • A profile page for Jin Okura, Asako's boss
  • Two pages of translator's notes
  • A "normal soup peperoncino" recipe

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2020-04-26 21:16
Book Review for Red by London Miller The Den Series
Red. - London Miller

 

 


The story has amazing characters as they were all so love-able and intriguing and the plot was filled with tons of drama,romance and suspense.One thing we love about a story like this is all its moving parts and all the complications that arise from Mafia Crime Families warring between the families fighting for power right down to the assassins needing to do their jobs all among the craziness.

Regan and Red had amazing chemistry and we loved seeing a glimpse of what was below the surface of Red's armor when he sparingly chose to let us see it.We loved that Red was a completely different person around Regan and she him.

Regan we found her to be a care taker, one who puts family first, one who puts her own dreams on hold all because circumstances change, she was smart and clever,sexy and one who cares and forgives because she has such a big and generous heart.

I love Red and all his broken-ness not that we love anything that he has endured but, even though on the surface he seems unfeeling,distant,hard,scary he is capable of love and feelings because you just have to see him with his brother's son Sasha to see that there is hope that one day he will let go of the pain, bitterness,resentment and finally be free of his demons and fully open his heart up and allow himself to be happy once again and to be loved. My heart broke for this character for all that he endure at the hands of others.We also have to say that we first met Red/aka Nicklaus in Mischa & Laurens story and having done so we loved him even more this time around because we got to know what he was truly capable of and even though he will never forget what happened to him and those that played a part he was still able to carve out some sort of friendship/forgiveness with Luca and Mischa.

Luca is still one bad*as and we just loved him in this story and of course we loved seeing Mishca and Lauren once again as they are one of our favorite couples.

This was an awesome story for us and we can't wait to read the rest of the series.This author is still fairly new to us and we have to say we are so loving all her works.

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text 2020-04-26 05:00
Beauty for Ashes Author Interview and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book


Book:  Beauty for Ashes

Author: Kathleen Neely

Genre:  Christian Contemporary Romance

Nathan Drummond’s actions at the age of eighteen had devastating consequences. Writing became therapeutic, leading him into a successful career as a mystery writer. With seven novels to his name, Nathan is rapidly becoming a household name.

When family responsibilities force him to return to his home town, he meets Angie Hernandez. Nathan doesn’t count on falling in love, and certainly not with a woman who has the power to shatter his peace.

Being at home pushes him too close to painful memories, and as guilt threatens and panic attacks set in, Nathan begins to write a novel paralleling the tragic event from his youthful folly.

Will the novel be seen as a work of fiction, or will it expose his secret and threaten his future?



Click HERE for your copy!
 

About the Author

 


Kathleen Neely is the author of The Street Singer, Beauty for Ashes, and The Least of These.  She is a former elementary teacher. Following her years in the classroom, she moved into administration, serving as an elementary principal at Eden Christian Academy in Pittsburgh, PA and at Shannon Forest Christian School in Greenville, SC. Kathleen is an alumnus of Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania and Regent University in Virginia.

Among her writing accomplishments, Kathleen won second place in a short story contest through ACFW-VA for her short story “The Missing Piece” and an honorable mention for her story “The Dance”. Both were published in a Christmas anthology. Her novel, The Least of These, was awarded first place in the 2015 Fresh Voices contest through Almost an Author. She has numerous devotions published through Christian Devotions. She continues to speak to students about writing. Kathleen is a member of Association of Christian Fiction Writers.

She resides in Greenville, SC with her husband, two cats, and one dog. She enjoys time with family, visiting her two grandsons, traveling, and reading.
 
 

More from Kathleen

 

I’ve always been an avid reader, but began writing at a period in my life when I didn’t have time to commit. While raising three sons, I also worked full time as a teacher, then later as an elementary principal. That left little time for writing. I’d plug away at my manuscript then neglect it for months. Those months became years. Every now and then, I would pull it out, re-read it, then add a little to it. When retirement approached, I thought of that old, abandoned manuscript. That’s when I began to take writing seriously. I joined a writing group, attended conferences, and met with two other writers weekly to critique and be critiqued. That manuscript is now a published novel.

I truly love writing. I can get lost in my own thoughts when planning a story. Characters become real and take on their own personality, sometimes different than I originally intended. Nathan, the protagonist in Beauty for Ashes, is a novelist. This excerpt is scripted from the book as he attempts to explain his trade with Angie. His explanation describes my approach to writing.

Excerpt: “They’re real people. I have to make myself become them. My mind lives out each scene. What would they feel? How would they react? I’m an actor playing a role, except that I have to play each role, each character. I immerse myself completely, then find words to capture it.”

I hope you’ll visit the pages of Beauty for Ashes and meet Nathan. He loves writing as much as I do, but hides a deadly secret. His past triggers challenges that leave him with debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. Writing has always been a balm for Nathan—until he writes his own story.
 
 

Author Interview

 

 

When/how did you decide to become a writer?

 

I’m an avid reader. For me, writing was a natural extension of that love. I was a wannabe writer for years, but first I was a mother of three, a teacher, and later a school administrator. I couldn’t fit writing into that schedule. I dabbled, but didn’t put dedicated time to the task until I retired. At that point, I dug out an old unfinished manuscript, honed up my skills, and won first place in the fiction category in a Fresh Voices contest.

 

 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

There are so many things that helped me on my journey to becoming an author. Here are three tips for aspiring novelists.

  • READ NOVELS – Don’t stop reading just because your time is committed to writing. Consider it an investment of time. I learn so much by reading. It’s a free and effortless element to your education.
  • SEEK ADVICE FROM SEASONED WRITERS – I’ve discovered that writers love to share tips of the trade. They’re the most generous coaches. Seek a local writers’ group. Read trade books. Attend conferences. Glean from those who have experience.
  • CREATE A SCHEDULE AND STICK TO IT – Every writer hits that slump period where nothing seems to work. It’s easy to neglect the manuscript. Here’s a hint that I heard from another author. When you sit at your laptop and nothing seems to come together, commit to 500 words. Often the ideas will begin flowing. If they don’t, then take the day off. That’s been good advice for me.

 

What are you reading right now?

 

I like to vary my reading genres. I believe it helps authors to experience a wide range of reading materials. I’m primarily a writer of contemporary fiction, but I’m currently reading Claiming Canaan, the third in the Daughters of Zelophehad series. Author Barbara M. Britton adds this Biblical fiction to her other Tribes of Israel series. I admire her ability to transport readers to a different time and place. Her research is evident in the details and she does an excellent job of maintaining the voice of a different culture.

 

 

Do you prefer traditional books, ebooks, or audiobooks?

 

Print books, e-books, or audio? The answer is yes! There’s a right time for all of the reading mediums. My primary choice is to hold an old-fashioned print book, but I frequently download digital novels. Some perks of digital include the ability to access it immediately, larger font for when my eyes fatigue, and typically lower cost. Audio has advantages but I like looking at the words, often re-reading portions, mulling over a phrase. But audio is great for car trips.

 

 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

 

Sometimes I write out of order. Nathan, the protagonist in Beauty for Ashes, is a novelist. He explains to Angie what it’s like to develop characters and plot; how he plays the role and lives out each scene. That happens to me, and when I live out a scene, I will frequently write it, even though it’s chapters away. When you read Beauty for Ashes, here are a few scenes that were written when my over-active brain lived them out: the police scene at Carlos home, Angie playing a selection from La Boheme for her audition, and when Nathan and Elizabeth rush to Renee’s home to protect her baby. How’s that for a little teaser? I hope you enjoy reading Beauty for Ashes as much as I enjoyed writing it.

 

Blog Stops

 

Emily Yager, April 21

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 22

Simple Harvest Reads, April 23 (Author Interview)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 24

Texas Book-aholic, April 25

For the Love of Literature, April 26 (Author Interview)

For Him and My Family, April 27

deb’s Book Review, April 28

Through the Fire Blogs, April 29 (Author Interview)

Inklings and notions, April 30

Read Review Rejoice, May 1

Blossoms and Blessings, May 2 (Author Interview)

Artistic Nobody, May 3 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Batya’s Bits, May 4

 
 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Kathleen is giving away the grand prize of a copy of the book!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 
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