Friday, August 23, 2019

Review: Maybe This Time

Maybe This Time
Kasie West
Published July 9, 2019
One year. Nine events. Nine chances to . . . fall in love?

Weddings. Funerals. Barbecues. New Year's Eve parties. Name the occasion, and Sophie Evans will be there. Well, she has to be there. Sophie works for the local florist, so she can be found at every big event in her small hometown, arranging bouquets and managing family dramas.

Enter Andrew Hart. The son of the fancy new chef in town, Andrew is suddenly required to attend all the same events as Sophie. Entitled, arrogant, preppy Andrew. Sophie just wants to get her job done and finish up her sketches so she can apply to design school. But every time she turns around, there is Andrew, getting in her way and making her life more complicated. Until one day she wonders if maybe complicated isn't so bad after all . . .

Told over the course of one year and following Sophie from event to event, this delightful novel from master of romantic comedy Kasie West shows how love can blossom in unexpected places. - from Goodreads
Sophie works for a florist in a small town, which means she's working at practically every big event in town.  And since there's really only one caterer in town, too, it's inevitable that her path will cross with theirs and with Andrew, the son of the celebrity chef helping the caterer grow his business.  Although they get off on the wrong foot, Sophie eventually realizes that Andrew is not as bad as she thought he was.

Since I started blogging, I've been seeing the name Kasie West around.  A lot.  I really liked the premise of this book, so I thought it would be a good place to start and get an introduction to the author.  The story has a bit of an atypical structure - each part takes place at one event, such as a wedding, Fourth of July barbeque, or Valentine's Day party, and there's really nothing of the characters' lives in between.  Since they're only spending a couple hours with each other every few weeks, I wondered how well Sophie and Andrew would get to know each other.  Honestly, I didn't think they had a ton of chemistry - he seemed far friendlier with Sophie's best friend Micah, who he actually spent time with outside of the events.

At first, I thought the adults in this book were pretty terrible.  Sophie's mom seemed like a flake, and she knew nothing about her daughter.  Andrew's dad screamed at everyone, and Sophie's boss Caroline seemed to leave a lot of her work to other people (especially clean up!).  As the book went on, I began to realize that there was a lot more depth to many of the characters, and I appreciated that.  I began to see them in a new light.

Even Sophie experienced growth.  She really wants to go to design school in New York City, so she spends a lot of time thinking about what she wants to submit in her portfolio, but Micah kind of forces her to examine why she seems so desperate to get away from their small town. I really liked Micah - she had a good head on her shoulders.

I enjoyed West's writing - it was easy to read and the story flowed nicely, even though the structure was pretty segmented.  Although I wasn't totally buying the romance, I did enjoy that there were several other types of relationships featured in the book.

3.5 stars

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Giver of Stars

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

The Giver of Stars
Jojo Moyes
Expected publication date: October 8, 2019
Set in Depression-era America, a breathtaking story of five extraordinary women and their unforgettable journey through the mountains of Kentucky and beyond, from the author of Me Before You and The Peacock Emporium

When Alice Wright agrees to marry handsome American Bennett Van Cleve and leave behind her stifling life in England for a new adventure in Kentucky, she’s soon disenchanted by her newlywed status and overbearing father-in-law, owner of the local coal mine. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt's new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically.

The leader, and soon Alice's greatest ally, is Margery, the smart-talking, self-sufficient daughter of a notorious local criminal, a woman who's never asked a man's permission for anything. Alice finds Margery as bracing and courageous as anyone she's ever met--and comes to rely on her, especially as her marriage starts to fail.

They will be joined by three diverse women and become known as the Horseback Librarians of Kentucky.

What happens to these women--and to the men they love--becomes a classic drama of loyalty, justice, humanity and passion. Though they face all kinds of dangers--from moonshiners to snakes, from mountains to floods--and social disapproval to boot. But they believe deeply in their work bringing books to people who had never had any, expanding horizons and arming them with facts that will change their lives.

Based on a true story rooted in America's past, the storytelling itself here is enthralling--the pages fly, and the book is unparalleled in its scope and its epic breadth. Funny, heartbreaking, and rewarding, it is a rich novel of women's friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond. - from Goodreads
This book has so many things going for it - JOJO MOYES, based on a true story, Depression-era setting, and a traveling library!

Monday, August 19, 2019

Down The TBR Hole #4

Down the TBR Hole is a feature created by Lost in a Story (although the blog seems to be down recently).  I've seen it on a few other blogs and thought I would try it out myself!  It seems like a really good way to cull your TBR of those books you're no longer interested in.  So how does it work?

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Here are the books I'm looking at this time:

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

I absolutely loved my first Sally Hepworth book.  The second, not so much, and I skipped her last book.  Although I've seen good reviews for this story about the complicated relationship between a woman and her daughter-in-law, I'm just not really interested any more.  Pass!

 Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

I recently featured this book about a female firefighter during Can't-Wait Wednesday, so I'm definitely keeping this one!
 Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser

When I read Strawser's first book, I was a bit disappointed because it had been marketed as a thriller when it clearly wasn't.  This story is about friendship and what happens when people grow apart.  I've seen reviews that indicate that it also has been mis-marketed, and so I'm not really interested in being burned again.  Pass!
 If, Then by Kate Hope Day

This book about the residents of a small town having visions of an alternate reality intrigued me when I first heard about it, and I'm still interested in it, although I haven't seen many reviews for it.  Keeping this one!
The Lost Man by Jane Harper

I read the first book in Jane Harper's Aaron Falk series and really enjoyed it.  I meant to keep up with her books, but just haven't had time.  This is a stand-alone book about a man's death and the brothers he left behind.  Keeping this one!

Have you read any of these?

Friday, August 16, 2019

Backlist Mini-Reviews: The Jessi Kirby Edition

Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby (2015)

After her boyfriend's death, Quinn wants to find all the recipients of his donated organs.  The heart recipient never gets back to her, but she's able to find out his identity.  When she meets him, she doesn't anticipate falling for him - while trying to keep her secret.

When we meet Quinn, she has spent the last year mourning the death of her boyfriend, Trent.  She's finished high school, but has no other plans and is just sort of floating through life.  It made me sad that she was only 18 and felt her life was over.  Quinn's desire to reach out to all the organ recipients was bittersweet, and even she wondered if it was bringing her closure or helping her cling to Trent's memory.  I wasn't sure how I felt about her search for the heart recipient.  I wanted her to respect their desire for anonymity, if that's what they truly wanted, and the fact that she's even able to discover his identity was a little crazy.  When Quinn and Colton meet, it seemed a little convenient that he's a gorgeous, sweet guy and they fall for each other.  I thought their kayaking dates were cute, but I kind of wish Quinn had found out about Colton's donated heart after they met - it would have felt more like fate.  The fact that she had this big secret and had to pretend like she didn't know all about him already was a little off-putting.

Quinn's family was a great addition to the story.  I wanted more of her spunky grandma, and I really loved the way her sister helped her move forward, even though she was going through some stuff of her own.  Overall, this was a well-written, emotional story that had a few bumpy elements.  3.5 stars

The Secret History of Us by Jessi Kirby (2017)

After a near-fatal car crash, Liv wakes up from a coma to realize she has no memory of the last four years of her life.

I think this is my favorite Jessi Kirby book so far.  I loved how real it felt.  At times, I was maybe hoping for some more drama or bigger secrets and revelations, but in the end, I appreciated the story for what it was.  Liv was an amazing main character.  She's understandably freaked out when she realizes the accident has taken her memories of the last four years, but I actually thought she handled it pretty well.  I mean, she can't remember her entire high school experience - her best friend is no longer her best friend and she doesn't know why; she doesn't remember learning how to drive; she finds her birth control pills but has no memory of having sex with her boyfriend of two years.  It's kind of devastating to realize all the big AND little things she can't remember.  Kirby did a great job of getting inside Liv's head; I really enjoyed watching her try to understand how the person she was at 14 became the person she is today.  I thought there were some good lessons, too, about being the person we want to be, not the one others want us to be, and following our passions.

As always, Kirby's writing is simple, straightforward, and just plain good.  Although the ending felt a bit rushed, following Olivia on her recovery journey (and also meeting her fantastic family) made for a truly solid read.  4.5 stars

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Conceal, Don't Feel

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

Conceal, Don't Feel (Twisted Tales #7)
Jen Calonita
Expected publication date: October 1, 2019
What if Anna and Elsa never knew each other?
As the future Queen of Arendelle, Princess Elsa's life is full of expectation and responsibility-not to mention, questions. What type of ruler will she be? When will she have to pick a suitor? And why has she always harbored the feeling that some critical piece of herself is missing?
Following the unexpected death of her parents, Elsa is forced to answer those questions sooner than she'd hoped, becoming the sole ruler of her kingdom and growing lonelier than ever. But when mysterious powers begin to reveal themselves, Elsa starts to remember fragments of her childhood that seem to have been erased-pieces that include a very familiar-looking girl. Determined to fill the void she has always felt, Elsa must take a harrowing journey across her icy kingdom to undo a terrible curse . . . and find the missing Princess of Arendelle.- from Amazon
I've really been enjoying this Twisted Tales series, which puts fantastic spins on your favorite Disney movies.  Plus, my niece is obsessed with Frozen, so I had to feature this one!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Quotables #14

In this age where people portray "perfection" on social media, I think it's important to remember that everyone has their own problems.  They might be smaller than yours, they might be bigger than yours, but trust me, they have them.

Even though my sister might disagree, we all know that pink Starbursts are the best Starbursts, and don't we all deserve to be treated as the best?

I mean, I think this one is just perfect for all the bookworms out there.  Reading might seem like a solitary activity, but we readers get to visit new places and meet new people everyday.

Which of these is your favorite?

Friday, August 9, 2019

DNF&Y #2

DNF&Y is a feature hosted by Lindsi at Do You Dog-ear?  According to Lindsi, "DNF&Y is used to explain why I gave up on certain books, and what about them just didn't work for me. What I disliked about a book might be something you love, so it helps to share your thoughts even when they're negative!"  Since I tend to DNF quite a bit, I thought it would be fun to participate!

 More Than Words by Jill Santopolo (2019)

More Than Words tells the story of a woman named Nina as she tries to figure out what she wants from her life and how it relates to the three most important men in her life - her father, her boyfriend, and her boss.

I got about 50 pages in before I started skipping around just to see where the story was going.  It was feeling predictable, and from what I could tell, I wasn't wrong.  The short chapters made the story feel choppy, and Nina came across as kind of a "poor little rich girl."  I couldn't relate to any of the other characters, either.

The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books by Edward Wilson-Lee (2019)

So apparently the illegitimate son of Christopher Columbus had a dream to amass a personal library of everything ever printed.  I was super-intrigued by this nonfiction book and it's almost not fair for me to include this book as a DNF since I quit so early.  I rapidly lost interest during the first chapter and found myself skimming almost immediately.  It was more about Columbus than his son and seemed to be a little scattered.  It could just be a matter of bad timing on my part and I just wasn't in the mood for this book at the time.

Have you DNFed any books lately?