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review 2020-06-01 16:14
Tell Me My Name
Tell Me My Name - Erin Ruddy

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

 

You were a terrible book, but made me laugh which I desperately needed right now. Lord. I am going to try to do a non-spoiler review on this. I should have known I was in for something I was not going to like after the author starts off with the following:

 

The idea for the novel came to me one summer day as I was pondering what it meant to be forty. As a mother, wife, and full-time employee at a small media company in Toronto, I came to the rather bleak conclusion that life after forty was all carved out -- the future, no longer that bright bountiful sea of possibility, but rather a dark, receding lake where rock bottom lurked menacingly close. Were all my opportunities drying up? If I wanted to change the course of my life at this age, was it even possible?

 

Yeah. I don't know either. Here we go.

 

So "Tell Me My Name" follows married couple Ellie and Neil Patterson. The couple drop off their two kids at summer camp and make their way to a cottage they just bought. Neil is hoping that they get the fire going again in their marriage. Ellie is hoping so too. She has been dissatisfied with the state of her marriage and upset since her publishing company went kaput. You will read a lot in this book about that though I don't imagine for a second that Ellie reads books. Anyway, Ellie and Neil get frisky and meet their new neighbor Jake who seems to be...unnerving at times. When Ellie lets him in one day she is chloroformed and wakes up to her husband tied to a bed and her tied to a chair. Ellie is being given three chances by Jake to tell him his name or he's going to take Neil's toe, finger, and then his life. The book then follows Ellie remembering men from her past.

 

I am laughing right now. Sorry.

 

Back to the book. Ellie is a mess. You find out about her family's backstory and it's worse than anything I saw on Lifetime. Ellie's sister Bethany who was a gifted dancer ends up in a vegetative coma after a car accident left her injured. Ellie and her other sister whose name I am blanking on are left to deal with the fall out in their family. Her sister is pretty nasty and self involved and Ellie is angry over the fact her parents keep letting her get away with things. Then Ellie starts acting out when she gets to her 20s until she meets her now husband Neil in a bar. She likes Neil, but has a preference for men who look like George Clooney. Okay, still laughing because the George Clooney thing becomes an element of this messed up plot. Anyway Ellie and Neil you have to wonder about since you don't get why they are together. Only married for 10 years I think, the two of them have definitely let the flames burn out. And we find out that Neil is hiding something from Ellie and then we have like two reveals about that and I went are you serious and kept reading. There's also multiple mentions of Ellie's dancing and I kept thinking she looked like this in my head:

 

Elaine Dancing GIFs | Tenor

 

The bad guy is a mess. And apparently has superpowers since he kept coming back like the Terminator. I won't get into him at all except nope. And then we get a final reveal about the guy at the end and I went how many twists is this? Six?

 

The lead detective on this case sucks and ends her calls and conversations by saying toodles-oo and I wanted to smother myself. 

 

There's also the brother in law who should have told Neil to shove it through most of this story and the sister in law who...I don't even understand her purpose. There are so many side characters in this story which made my head hurt. 

 

The writing was bad, laughably so at certain points and the linkage between things was not set up very well. I just started calling things coincide #1, #2, and so on. The author in the beginning talks about how this is a book about love, acceptance, forgiveness, and letting go and I went yeah that's where you went wrong. The whole book is very disjointed I found and throwing in the overall plot with the nonsense with Neil and everything else going on made for a messy book. 

 

The flow doesn't work very well since we jump around in the third person to multiple people. I don't know if it would have been better to say with just Ellie or Neil. Honestly I don't know what could have saved this book. 

 

The setting of this book takes place in Toronto. I am not familiar with the city and can't say much about it since the book jumps all over the place. 

 

The ending was a whole mess. I really wanted to tell the author her trying to tie everything together showed she didn't really have a good grasp of writing. Honestly I felt at times I was reading different stories trying to force themselves into one coherent one. 

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review 2020-06-01 13:58
Just Saying
Just Saying - Sophie Ranald

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


Trigger warning: sexual assault 

 

So this was a bit off to me through my whole reading. I thought that this was setting up to be a funny book about a woman Alice who has a career set-back who now has to live with her current boyfriend's ex. Instead the whole book is full of a lot of angst, the author throws in a me too movement plot point and Alice and Joe (her boyfriend) barely talk in this book. Honestly 90 percent of the issues in this book would have been resolved if they had an actual conversation. Also I am not a fan of cheating in romance books so I started to dread this book the entire time I read it. I am disappointed though that unlike with her latest books, this one has no ties into previous books or characters. I wonder if Ranald would have been better off developing a story surrounding one of the women we have been reading about through her other books like "The Truth About Gemma Gray", "Sorry Not Sorry", "It's Not You It's Him", and "No, We Can't be Friends."

 

Alice and her boyfriend of two years Joe are living together. When Alice has a career set-back and can't afford to pay her share of their rent, he asks about his ex Zoe living with them. Instead of saying [expletive] no, Alice agrees and the whole time wonders if Zoe is doings things in order to get back with Joe. Alice starts working at local pub and starts to wonder about what she really wants. Complicating things a bit is the next door brewery owner named Archie that she is starting to feel something for over their games of Scrabble. On top of all of that, Alice has a secret that she has kept from Joe that she worries about throughout the book. 

 

So Alice. I don't know. I liked parts of this character, but think Ranald didn't develop her very well. I liked the other leads in her books I mentioned earlier because those characters were always upfront with the readers via the way the story is told. Ranald doesn't tell us everything that is going on and then we get thrown a curveball that changes up the whole story. I didn't even know what to do with it since it felt like we couldn't get a handle on that before jumping off to Alice still being threatened by Zoe and stressing over Joe. I also wish that the Alice and Joe just talked. There is an opportunity for them to talk but neither do but just do passive aggressive mess to each other. I will say that Ranald does a good job of showing us why Alice loves Joe and they make sense as a couple. I just wish we got more time of the two of them on their own before the specter of Zoe.


Ah Zoe. Nope, didn't like her at all especially when we get the whole confrontation thing finally. I thought Ranald per usual let a character off the hook when they have shown to not be trustworthy. She did this mess with the character of Adam in "Sorry Not Sorry" and the character of Bianca from "Sorry Not Sorry" and "No, We Can't be Friends." Sometimes people are terrible and you cut them out of your lives. I really feel like shouting that from the rooftops.

 

We don't get much development of other characters. Ranald throws in a side plot about one of her pub regulars that I just went are you serious? It made zero sense to the overall story and think it should have been cut. 

 

The writing felt off to me a bit. I liked the other books which I think did tackle some serious stuff but with humor and romance. This one really didn't I thought. We had I think three love scenes with Alice and Joe and we kept reading about how hurried they were (in two of them) and how Alice misses Joe since they don't really make love anymore because of his hours at work and her hours at the pub. The me too subplot was jarring I think. The whole book took a dark turn at that point. I was definitely not prepared to read about a sexual assault and my insides flipped around. I also didn't like the resolution to it either. It felt like it was inserted, important for a bit, and then we get to see what became of said character and the book moved on.

 

The flow was up and down since we have parts of Alice hidden from us until the full reveal about everything. And honestly I got bored reading about her working at the pub and the things she was doing. I don't know. It read similar to me when Nora Roberts went on her whole decorating fit in her books and every book was focused on renovating, painting, decorating and us readers were like please stop. No one cares about crown molding this much. Not even people on HGTV.

 

The ending read as very incomplete to me. It just kind of plops out and I went is that it? So yeah, after loving the other books for the most part, this one is a strong 3 star read. 

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review 2020-05-27 16:42
Wuthering Heights
Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë

Hot Mess Hug GIF by OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

The last time I recall someone telling me that a book was the greatest romance they ever read, they were speaking about "Fifty Shades of Grey." I was reluctant to even read this one because I knew that I probably wasn't going to like it. I started to read it and went, yep do not like. I gave this two stars honestly because it's engrossing to read even though I didn't like one character save the two servants (Nelly and Joseph). And I was pretty much luke-warm on Nelly for most of the book. I don't know, maybe this would have worked better if the story was told from Catherine or Heathcliff's point of view. Most of the story follows Nelly's POV and a man named Mr. Lockwood. 

 

"Wuthering Heights" begins in 1801 when a man named Lockwood begins the tale. Lockwood is a new tenant at Thrushcross Grange and he goes to pay a visit to his landlord a Mr. Heathcliff. Mr. Heathcliff lives in his home called Wuthering Heights. Lockwood is repelled by most of the household (same boy, same) and wonders at the young woman named Cathy that lives there and a young man that Cathy seems to despise named Hareton. When Lockwood stays overnight in Wuthering Heights, he finds the diary of a woman named Catherine Earnshaw and starts to wonder about the people who lived there. He eventually gets his housekeeper, Nelly to tell him about what went on at Wuthering Heights. Bronte then proceeds to take up the rest of the tale explaining about Catherine, her brother Hindley, Heathcliff and the Linton family. 

 

So, there's so much going on that the narrative told by Nelly doesn't help. Nelly is like the priest in Romeo and Juliet to me. Knows a lot about what is going on, but does nothing to help. 

 

I honestly don't get why women were swooning over Heathcliff. He's a bully and as much of a mess as Catherine. I do feel badly for how he was treated by Hindley, but he purposely went about trying to ruin people and play God with other characters.


Catherine seemed ridiculous to the extreme to me. I just imagine that the men fought over her because no one else was in the vicinity besides Isabella. 

 

Hindley I found to be terrible and I honestly pitied Edgar and Isabella. The last two are just used as chess pieces and don't seem to be viewed as people with real hope for love and a happy marriage. 


The writing was a bit tough to get through. It just didn't work for me at all as a Gothic romance. I really loved Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte so just figured this would work for me too. I think if the book had switched things up so that we stayed with one narrator this would have made things stronger. 

 

The flow was off. I think switching from narrator to another narrator and I think some other narrators (my brain shut off) it just made the story too unwieldy to follow after a while. 

 

The setting of Wuthering Heights sounds desolate and unforgiving though.


The ending just leaves you with a shake of your head. You are left thinking that maybe a cycle has been broken, but you wonder since once again, the families in this story are a hot mess.  

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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 2020-05-26 15:11
The Dilemma
 The Dilemma - B.A. Paris

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

 

So, this is weird to review. I have been reading Paris for about a year now and this book really doesn't fit in the thriller category in my opinion. This is more of a "drama" book which isn't really a bad thing, but there's no real thriller here. Mystery fits since you don't initially get what is going on between the married couple (Livia and Adam). The back and forth POV for them worked well, but have to say that the whole ending didn't work for me. I don't know if Paris was going for irony or what when you find out that once again several people know the truth about something, but not all parties do. The big dilemma in this book was really surrounding secrets Livia and Adam were keeping from each other.

 

"The Dilemma" follows married couple Livia and Adam. The two married young and had kids, Josh and Marnie. Livia is excited to be celebrating her 40th birthday and has been setting aside money for years in order to get the celebration she always dreamed of. We quickly find out that something is going on though between Livia and Marnie. Livia is ambivalent about her daughter returning from her study abroad in Hong Kong to come home for the summer. Adam though is very excited about Marnie returning and has a secret up his sleeve for his wife's birthday celebration. He and Marnie have secretly planned for her to return in time for the party. However, something terrible happens and we follow Adam and Livia as they both keep something from each other. That is ultimately the dilemma. What would you do in similar circumstances?

 

I have to say that I didn't really get a fix on Livia or Adam. They both needed therapy. They are both happy, but have strained relationships with their children. Paris sets things up a bit better though so you can see why Livia and Marnie's relationship became strained. Paris shows us an incident between Adam and Josh that just shows Adam to be a jerk though. I also think that they should have showed us more interaction as a family. We kind of get plopped in the middle of this story and have characters thrown at us. For example, we get the set-up of the core friend group via a couple of paragraphs. Maybe it would have made more sense to show flashbacks to them all. I am not one to push for flashbacks here, but it just felt like the book was veering off into separate storylines which did not all come together until the end of the book when things were revealed.

 

The flow was up and down. Switching between Livia and Adam just changed up the tone of things. Also since we know what secret Adam is keeping it just made things worse for me as I was reading since I did not get his reasoning at all. 


The book's ending really did not resonate with me at all because of what I said earlier. After characters realize the fallout from keeping things from each other, they went and kept things that another character should have been told. I hated the reasoning behind it and thought it was kind of BS honestly.  

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