Category «Book Reviews»

Single Sundays: The Match by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: The Match by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Match (from Goodreads):
All I wanted was a baby. No daddy? No problem.

That’s what anonymous donors are for …

But when the fertility clinic accidentally sends me a letter addressed to a man whose ID matches my paperwork, I discover my child’s father is none other than world-renowned tennis champion Fabian Catalano—famous for his gorgeous face, chiseled abs, and broody, wildcard reputation.

Only everything changes when the clinic calls us in for damage control—and Fabian drops the bombshell of the century. Turns out the intense Adonis wants to get to know his daughter.

So I invite him to stay with us—temporarily.

Ground rules and all.

And our arrangement is simple … until it isn’t.

Between 2 AM feedings and stolen kisses, my sweet little simple life has taken a very complicated left turn.

But oh, baby. What happens next—is a game changer.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 29, 2021
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Winter Renshaw writes my kind of contemporary romances: angsty, lots of twists and great chemistry. So the synopsis for this book intrigued me. I’ve never read a “baby daddy donor” romance before–didn’t even know that was a thing! But if anyone could get me interested in one, it would be Winter Renshaw.

The Concept:

I’ve never read a “baby daddy donor” romance before. I’ve read one night stands that have accidental pregnancies but nothing about an anonymous donor. So this was definitely a different take on your typical meet-cute romance. And I think you need to go in with an open mind because it definitely teeters towards a fantastical approach. You gotta remember that fiction is fiction and sometimes things don’t need to mimic life exactly to be successful in a contemporary romance.

The Plot:

The weakest aspect to this story for me was the pacing of the plot. I liked the characters, their development and the eventual romance. My problem was more with the way the drama unfolded. Things move really fast–which is why I said a reader should go in with an open mind–but at the expense of some logic. Considering how resistant the two leads were to having each other in their lives, I just thought the progression of that element happened wayyy to fast. And that affected the pacing of the other plot elements as well. I think just adding 2 more months to the timeline would have helped smooth those inconsistencies over a bit.

The Characters:

Because things move fast, and I would have loved to have dived deeper into some of the character developments. I felt like we just scratched a surface. But for the purposes of this story (ie this isn’t some realistic fiction novel about falling for your baby’s anonymous donor), I felt like I knew enough about each of them to get a good feel for them.

The Romance:

One thing I really loved is that the chemistry between Rossi and Fabian is there from the moment they meet. I liked that I could see a great connection anytime they talked and that translated over to the physical side of the relationship.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

But I enjoyed reading about this couple and watching their story unfold. It was refreshing for me because I’ve never read anything quite like it. And I think if you go in knowing it’s a quick and steamy read that focuses on the happier side of things, you’ll enjoy it for what it is.

Read if You Like: contemporary romance, reuniting parents
Avoid if You: want more of a “sports” novel

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Single Sundays: Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did) by Monica Murphy

Single Sundays: Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did) by Monica Murphy

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did) (from Goodreads):
Whit Lancaster burst into my life like a storm. Dark and thunderous, furious and fierce. Cold, heartless and devastatingly beautiful, like the statues in our prep school gardens. The school with his family name on the sign. He can do no wrong here. This is his domain.

He’s a menace on campus. Adored and feared. Hated and respected. His taunting words carve into my skin, shredding me to ribbons. Yet his intense gaze scorches my blood, fills me with a longing I don’t understand.

When I stumble upon him one night alone, I find him broken. Bleeding. My instincts scream to leave and let him suffer, but I can’t. I sneak him into my room. Clean him up. Fall for his lies. Let him possess every single part of me until I’m the one left a gasping, broken mess.

When he leaves me alone in the dead of night, he takes my journal with him.

Now he knows all my secrets. My hate. My truth. And he promises to use my words against me. I’ll be ruined if my darkest secret gets out.

That’s when I strike a bargain with the devil.

I’ll let Whit Lancaster ruin me behind closed doors instead.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Author: Monica Murphy
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Erotica, Dark
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (extremely *spicy YA*) | (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: July 29, 2021
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This is the first standalone I’ve read from Monica Murphy in awhile. I’ve mostly been reading her series The Callahans and The College Years. But I knew that this was a particular passion project of hers and I love a good hate-to-love you romance so I was excited to start this.

The Concept:

I felt a little odd putting the genre type as “Erotica” in the same line as “Young Adult” but I feel like I need to include it so people know that they are expecting. This book is just plain steamy—and it would still be steamy even if the characters were older. There is a lot of sex and it is a long book so expect it to be pretty frequent. If reading about young adults having sex bothers you, don’t pick this up. I felt like this book was more reminiscent of Monica’s adult series The Fowler Sisters works than her YA/NA books in terms of sexual content.

The Plot:

I’ve attempted a few High School Bully Romances but this was the first one I really, really enjoyed. The angst, the passion, the chemistry — it’s all there and it is delicious. This is like a good teen soap opera if you ask me where you want the two leads to just get together already!

While some plot points were predictable, there are a few twists along the way to keep you interested. This book is super long page-count-wise but I never really got bored with it. Some of the plot points get a little lost I think at times (like the whole journal thing) but I think that’s because the story focuses more on the romance and passion. But I never really minded honestly, I was there for the romance.

The Characters:

Summer has to be the first heroine in this high-school-bully-romance trend that I’ve read who actually fights back and holds her ground. But she knows when to surrender and accepts that. I found she never waivered in her convictions and I really appreciated that. I struggled with some of her character background and how it was dealt with but I really did enjoy her character’s journey.

Whit: I think you love to hate him. We don’t get as many chapters from him which I think works to the story’s advantage. He’s a mysterious asshole but those brief glimpses we get inside his brain propel the story forward. He really does have the best character development of the two.

The Romance:

Like I said above, this is pretty steamy and not always in a vanilla way either. But I liked how we explored the submissive/dominate side of their relationship and seeing how that can evolve over time. A lot of the time in romances, those character traits are long established in one of our leads so it was an interesting dynamic seeing it blossom in both our leads and how they try to understand it.

I was really addicted to watching these two fall in love. They are the definition of forbidden romance, which makes it all the sweeter when they give in.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

If you are a fan of the high-school-bully romance and/or can accept the steamy sexual content, I think you’ll enjoy this. But if you struggle with sexual content in your YA/New Adult novels, look elsewhere. I’m hoping that there will be a spin-off at some point because I loved this world so much!

Read if You Like: steamy reads, forbidden romance
Avoid if You: dislike erotica

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Spin-Off Saturdays: Wallflower by Cookie O’Gorman

Spin-Off Saturdays: Wallflower by Cookie O’Gorman

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

Wallflower is a spin-off of the book Adorkable

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author

This is a spinoff of Adorkable.

Author: Cookie O’Gorman
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 25, 2021
Source & Format: Author–eARC

warning WARNING: If you have not finished the original novel, this review may have spoilers!

thoughts

My Expectations?

I wouldn’t call myself a fan of YA contemporary per say, but I am a fan of Cookie O’Gorman’s YA contemporaries. They are just SO FREAKING GOOD. They never fail to bring a smile to my face and the romances always give me butterflies. And Adorkable–Cookie’s debut–was the book that made me a fan of her work. This spin-off was the novel I didn’t know I needed but am oh-so-happy to get.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

Sweet As Can Be!

This book was just as sweet and adorable as its predecessor! I smiled my whole way through it. There are a few tropes at play so the story reads like a rom-com (which is great) but there is also a simplicity to it that reminds you that love doesn’t need to be laced in complex layers or traumatic pasts.

Swoon-Worthy Hero

Dare–what a charmer he is! He was just plain swoon-worthy. We don’t get his POV so I liked that he was a bit of a mystery.

Great Banter

These two are so much fun to watch! I loved their scenes together.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

Slight Disconnect

There was just something that stopped me from giving this a full 5/5. Maybe the pacing? I’m not even sure what it was honestly. Maybe I was just in a funk when I finished it?

Viola is an Only Child

I just want more books, that’s my only complaint…I would love to see more of Sally and Becks as parents.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I you want a book you can get lost in and finish in one sitting, this is it! The flow of the writing will suck you as you read this sweet rom-com!

Read if You Like: sweet romances, YA contemporary
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary similarreads

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Wallflower (from Goodreads):

Wallflower (wohl-flou-erh): Identifier for someone who is shy and/or awkward. For reference, see Viola Kent.

Seventeen-year-old Viola Kent likes being invisible. Well, not literally, but she’s content being a loner, reading her books, and hanging out with the animals at the shelter. She just wants to keep her head down and get through her senior year at Durham High.

Driving Dare Frost to school every day wasn’t part of the plan.

And when Viola finds out her dad recruited Dare, his number one player, to be her friend?

Her inner Slytherin demands revenge.

The solution: Get Dare to be her fake boyfriend.

Convincing the star athlete to pretend is easier than she’d thought it would be. The hard part is protecting her heart. With every word, touch, and kiss, Viola’s feelings become more real.

The problem: Viola knows she’s falling for Dare—but he doesn’t believe in love.

This book features two sets of soulmates, one happy pooch named Hermione, so many sizzling kisses and answers the question:

Can a dork and a jock fake their way to true love?

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Single Sundays: Romanov by Nadine Brandes

Single Sundays: Romanov by Nadine Brandes

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Romanov (from Goodreads):

The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them, and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of saving herself and her family are to either release the spell and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya has only dabbled in magic, but it doesn’t frighten her half as much as her growing attraction to Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her.

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.

breakdown

Author: Nadine Brandes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Retelling, Romance, Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

As someone who claims to love Imperial Russian History as much as I do, I really don’t know much about Anastasia Nikolaevna. I think most people know the gist of her family’s history and their subsequent exile. But I like books that explore alternate histories and play the “what-if” game so this was something I was eager to read!

The Concept / The World:

It’s hard to write a story–reimagining or not–that is based on history. I mean, most of us know how Anastasia’s (Nastya) story ends so it can be hard to surprise a reader. But at the same time, a good story teller should be able to weave together the historical moments we already know and give you a new perspective on it.

Here, that perspective is the idea that Nastya had magic. And I think that both helps and hurts the story at the same time. Could you have omitted it and still had a story? Probably.

The Plot:

Like I said above, you kinda already know how things are going to go for the Romanovs. This is a survival story and that can make it very depressing at times. As someone who loves the glitz of Imperial Russia, it was a good reminder for me that things weren’t always so opulent and a lot of people suffered during this time period.

But the pacing of the plot was just off for me and I found my mind wandering. Maybe if I knew more about Anastasia’s history, certain scenes would have popped out for me more.

The Characters:

One of my favourite aspects of this story is the Romanov family. The heart of this novel is about a family trying to survive while still being a family. Yes, they had incredible power and control, but when they lose it all, they are just a family. Their bonds and their sacrifices were heartwarming and heart-wrenching to watch unfold.

I also liked that things weren’t always black and white with some of our character interactions. There’s a lot of lessons about getting to know a person before you pass judgement and learning to forgive others for their past actions.

The Romance:

I think I’m in the minority for this one but I didn’t love the romance. I can appreciate the slow burn and the challenges they face but I was never fully convinced it was an amazing connection. Or maybe that is the point of it: that love can come from unlikely places and surprise you.

My Audiobook Experience:

It’s quite a lengthy audiobook and even though I listen to books at a faster playback speed, it did feel slow to me. Maybe that affected my overall feelings for the book. Though I think if I read it as an eBook/book, I might have put it down…

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This one just didn’t do much for me. I think fans of the Anastasia story and who know the history might get more out of this magic spin to her story.

Read if You Like: Imperial Russia, historical retellings, magic
Avoid if You: dislike survival or depressing stories

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Single Sundays: The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

Single Sundays: The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Shadows Between Us (from Goodreads):
Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?

breakdown

Author: Tricia Levenseller
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I noticed that my library had this book, it didn’t immediately click for me that Tricia Levenseller wrote The Daughter of the Pirate King. A novel I really enjoyed for its wit and kickass heroine. So when I read the description of this novel and realized she was the author, I was pretty excited to dive in.

The Concept / The World:

Alessandra hooks you in from the start with her devious plans. Her drive for power and to obtain it at any costs is usually something we only see in male characters so I appreciated it here immensely. Watching her execute her plan is delicious fun.

I worried that the magic elements here would be too much but I found it was balanced well. It isn’t an overly complicated world or system by any means. So much so that you almost forget it’s a factor until it pops up again.

The Plot:

I was hooked into this book from the start as I watched the schemes begin. But then things got a little dry for me as we approached the first half. The latter half of the novel picks up as all the plot lines start to converge.

I did want a little more from the plot though. I thought that all the big “WOW” moments felt subdued, particularly around the long running mysteries. They didn’t pack as much punch as they should have in my opinion.

The Characters:

Like I said earlier, I really liked Alessandra’s character. Her rebellion isn’t unique per say but I found her character to be unique how she carries herself and thinks 5 steps ahead. I always appreciate cunning heroines and she certainly is.

The Romance:

I thought Alessandra had great chemistry with the King…when they actually shared a scene together. I think their relationship could have been more in focus for the first half. It falls to the wayside a bit and that’s a real shame. I didn’t see this big life changing bond forming between them, though I could see how it would one day. I just craved more scenes of them together.

My Audiobook Experience:

A very entertaining listen. I usually listen to audiobooks while in the car or while doing something else but this one made me want to stop and just listen.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

Whilst entertaining, it didn’t WOW me like I wanted it to.

Read if You Like: kickass heroines, magic
Avoid if You: dislike morally questionable leads

similarreads

  • Keturah & Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
  • Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller (Daughter of the Pirate King Series #1)
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm #1)

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Single Sundays: Arrogant Fiancé by T L Smith and Melissa Jane

Single Sundays: Arrogant Fiancé by T L Smith and Melissa Jane

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Arrogant Fiancé (from Goodreads):

He wasn’t meant to be on my radar, he was definitely the off-limits guy.
My brother’s best friend, my friend’s ex, but most of all he was my boss.
Hawk Carnage resembled one thing, and one thing only. Sex.
He used it, he knew it, he lived it. Hawk owned the largest lingerie company in the world, and I was his leading lady.
In business.
But now business and friendship were about to be crossed. The lines blurred, and I was ready to dip my toes in the forbidden water. Because no matter how much I said I could refrain from Hawk Carnage, now was not the time.
He was to be my fake fiancé.
And I was about to sink into that forbidden water, with Hawk’s hands clutching my sides.
Lord help me because I was about to enjoy every moment of it.
Even if it was just for fun.
Even if it would ruin everything.
I was going to dive in head first.

breakdown

Author: T L Smith and Melissa Jane
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: December 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not entirely sure why I bought this book. It might have been a recommendation from Kobo? Regardless, it has some of my favourite tropes at play like fake fiances and forbidden romance so I’m sure that’s why I picked it up.

Of course, it’s been sitting on my Kobo for nearly 3 years. I picked it up when I was working a boring shift at work and wanted something quick to read (and something I owned for my Tackling the TBR challenge) that I could pickup when I actually had to stop reading and do my job.

Previously Published as “Cocky Fiancé”:

So at first I really struggled to find this title on my Kobo! I had it marked on Goodreads as “Cocky Fiancé” and typing that in lead me to nothing. So searching for the authors helped me find it and that’s when I realized it had been rereleased as “Arrogant Fiancé”.

That’s when I remembered #CockyGate and all these books that had to be renamed because someone trademarked the work “cocky”. You can read more info about it here. So in short, Arrogant Fiancé = Cocky Fiancé.

The Plot:

One thought I had when reading this book was: did the author’s have a challenge to see how many romance tropes they could throw into one book? You’ve got the forbidden romance of a boss and his employee, who happens to be her brothers’ BFF; who she decides is the perfect person to play her fake fiancé. It was a lot thrown at you plus whatever drama was in store.

I think you have to take this book with a grain of salt. It’s melodramatic to say the least. I mean the reason Hawk becomes her fake fiancé is because Britta seems to be a glutton for punishment and agrees to go to a wedding she should never have gone to in the first place.

Add to that the other drama that is packed in at the end and I feel like just pushed the romance to take a backseat which is a shame because I really liked their chemistry together.

The Characters:

Like I said above, Britta is a glutton for punishment. It’s weird because she is so assertive in some scenes but then a complete wimp in others. I understand she is broken from a past relationship but all the more reason to say “no” to certain situations she finds herself in.

Hawk lives up to the “cocky”/”arrogant” name. He says “cock” more than I’ve ever encountered in book before that’s for sure. But I found him to be charming in a way because he clearly wants to do the right thing by Britta.

The Romance:

I really loved the chemistry between these two. You could tell that spark has always been there (especially for Hawk) but these two have had all those tropes in their way. All the drama seems to be the push they finally need but it also got in the way of really grounding the romance.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

If you are looking for a quick, steamy read with a charming bad boy lead this is a great choice!

Read if You Like: lots of romance tropes, drama
Avoid if You: want more layered characters

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Single Sundays: Me by Elton John

Single Sundays: Me by Elton John

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Me (from Goodreads):

In his only official autobiography, music icon Elton John writes about his extraordinary life, which is also the subject of the film Rocketman.

Christened Reginald Dwight, he was a shy boy with Buddy Holly glasses who grew up in the London suburb of Pinner and dreamed of becoming a pop star. By the age of twenty-three, he was on his first tour of America, facing an astonished audience in his tight silver hotpants, bare legs and a T-shirt with ROCK AND ROLL emblazoned across it in sequins. Elton John had arrived and the music world would never be the same again.

His life has been full of drama, from the early rejection of his work with song-writing partner Bernie Taupin to spinning out of control as a chart-topping superstar; from half-heartedly trying to drown himself in his LA swimming pool to disco-dancing with the Queen; from friendships with John Lennon, Freddie Mercury and George Michael to setting up his AIDS Foundation. All the while, Elton was hiding a drug addiction that would grip him for over a decade.

In Me Elton also writes about getting clean and changing his life, about finding love with David Furnish and becoming a father.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: 2020 Fav
Author: Elton John
Genre: Autobiography, Nonfiction
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 15, 2019
Source & Format: Borrowed–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Elton John is one of those timeless artists for me. I ADORE his music and it has always been on my bucket list to see him in concert.

When his film Rocketman was coming out, I told everyone at work about it. And one of my coworkers (who is also a fan) recommended I read his new autobiography, she lent me her copy and I dove right in.

The Concept:

When I watch autobiographical movies or movies based on historical events, I’m always fact checking everything immediately after I watch them. So finishing Rocketman was the perfect segway into this book.

Elton tells his story from when he was a wee boy, to his first big hit, to his struggles with success and all the way up into the present. In someways, it felt like the behind the scenes view of the movie with an extended epilogue.

The Writing:

I often struggle with autobiographical novels because they seem to be filled with endless ramblings of celebrity personal philosophies and I find that to be boring to read about. But not here!

This book just had a great flow to it. Elton explains everything so well, giving facts and adding his take on the events as they happened and reflecting on what they mean there. He has lived a fascinating life and it was amazing to learn more about the man himself and what was really happening behind the persona he played on stage.

Did it Impact My Life?

In a way, yes. It made me think about the costs of success and the struggles some people have had to face in their lives. It also just cemented the idea to me that Elton was a pioneer of his craft and one hell of a guy.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

This was an addicting read that I just couldn’t put down!

Read if You Like: autobiographies, Rocketman
Avoid if You: dislike nonfiction

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  • Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years by Julie Andrews

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Single Sundays: Home Work – A Memoir of My Hollywood Years by Julie Andrews

Single Sundays: Home Work – A Memoir of My Hollywood Years by Julie Andrews

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Home Work (from Goodreads):

In Home, the number one New York Times international bestseller, Julie Andrews recounted her difficult childhood and her emergence as an acclaimed singer and performer on the stage.
With this second memoir, Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years, Andrews picks up the story with her arrival in Hollywood and her phenomenal rise to fame in her earliest films–Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. Andrews describes her years in the film industry — from the incredible highs to the challenging lows. Not only does she discuss her work in now-classic films and her collaborations with giants of cinema and television, she also unveils her personal story of adjusting to a new and often daunting world, dealing with the demands of unimaginable success, being a new mother, the end of her first marriage, embracing two stepchildren, adopting two more children, and falling in love with the brilliant and mercurial Blake Edwards. The pair worked together in numerous films, including Victor/Victoria, the gender-bending comedy that garnered multiple Oscar nominations.

Cowritten with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, and told with Andrews’s trademark charm and candor, Home Work takes us on a rare and intimate journey into an extraordinary life that is funny, heartrending, and inspiring.

breakdown

Author: Julie Andrews
Genre: Nonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I LOVE Julie Andrews–who doesn’t? She’s just so charming and I think she is a staple for a lot of people’s childhoods. For me, she’s the Queen Grandmother of the Princess Diaries though I know her from other notable works like Sound of Music and Mary Poppins but those were before my time.
Regardless, I was really looking forward to learning more about her times on those famous, classic sets.

The Concept:

I never read her first autobiography/memoir but it didn’t really appeal to me either when I looked into it more because I was more curious about the early Hollywood and Broadway days.
It was really neat to get the inside scoop about all these classic films she had worked on. As a big Disney nut myself, her experience on Mary Poppins fascinated me.
But getting those insights into her personal life and how her various roles affected it was interesting. And she is so open about all her struggles that I really admired that.
I often struggle with memoirs because they can sometimes come across as preachy or just be all about personal philosophy. After reading this book and Elton John’s Me, I’ve discovered I do much better with autobiographies that follow more of a chronological order of events and are laced with reactions at the time and reflections looking back.

The Writing / Listening Experience:

I listened to the audiobook because it is narrated by Julie Andrews. I could listen to her talk all day. She reminds me of my grandmothers so it just felt personal and intimate.

The writing itself is great. I loved how she included diary entries from particular moments in her past because you understood how she felt in that moment–not simply a reflection back through rose-coloured glasses. But overall, there was a great flow to it that kept me listening.

Did it Impact My Life?

I think her story opened my eyes to a few things. I think as a girl, I often struggle with the idea of having a career vs having a family and how they seem to be two mutually exclusive things (though I think that is starting to change with my generation). But when I think about her life, I see how she made calculated decisions to have the career and family life she wanted and to balance it all out.
I also learned a lot about the situation in Vietnam since she adopted from the country. I knew the basics but this helped to give a more human perspective of the situation.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Simply a well crafted memoir.

Read if You Like: memoirs, early Hollywood
Avoid if You: dislike autobiographies
similarreads

  • Me by Elton John
  • If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t) by Betty White

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Single Sundays: Trillion by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: Trillion by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Trillion (from Goodreads):
Trey Westcott—devastatingly gorgeous. Intimidatingly brilliant. Powerful beyond belief.

A man with all the money in the world—literally.

As the first trillionaire in existence, my boss lives a life most people can only dream of. Anything he wants—anything at all—is a snap-of-the-fingers away.

But when the coldhearted magnate snaps his fingers and requests me for a six month stint on his arm playing the role of his devoted fiancée, he makes an offer I can’t refuse.

And so I don’t.

But I make it clear that for the next 180 days, he’ll have my time, my body, my attention, my discreet professionalism—everything except my heart.

It’s not for sale.

Because all the money in the world can’t change the secret I’ve kept the last ten years. A secret that complicates the very business deal I’m to help him secure. A secret that makes the undeniable tension between us all the more forbidden.

Trey Westcott can have anything he wants … but he can never have me.

Even if he’s all I’ve ever wanted.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 6, 2020
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Winter Renshaw!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

If you are in the market for a different type of romance, Winter Renshaw is the author for you. She always manages to write these bittersweet romances with a flare of dramatics that are unlike anything you’ve read before. And I love a good fake relationship story so this was a no brainer for me.

The Plot:

I really like the idea and the last 30% was great; but the pacing was just a little off for me. I think because you get the flashbacks to Sophie’s history and her story early on, you lose some of the suspense of her secretive past. So I felt like we were just going through the motions during the first half and it reached a bit of a stale point.

The Characters:

The second half is much stronger. It’s a different type of contemporary romance (which is what I expect with Winter’s novels) so it really has a harder edge to it that fascinates me as a reader because it challenges the characters. Once they were pushed, I felt like their reactions helped to evolve them as characters.

The Romance:

I think I’m in the minority about this one but I also wasn’t entirely sold on the attraction between the leads. Their banter hadn’t won me over mostly because I felt like they didn’t have that much. It was a lot of longing but not a ton of substance to back it up besides a few brief encounters.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

I love a good fake fiance story and this one was definitely unlike one I’ve ever read before.

Read if You Like: fake relationships, billionaire romances
Avoid if You: want erotica
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Single Sundays: xo, Zach by Kendall Ryan

Single Sundays: xo, Zach by Kendall Ryan

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for xo, Zach (from Goodreads):
The first time we met was at a party.

Your ex arrived to show off the person he’d left you for last month, and you asked me to pretend to be your date.

I was more than happy to help. You were attractive, smart and witty–and that kiss we shared? It left me wanting you for days.

The second time we met was in my office on campus where we were both surprised to discover you were the new master’s degree student in poetry that I would be working with. You promised to be professional. I did no such thing.

The late nights and intense study sessions spent alongside you majorly throw me off my game. I want you, and I fight with myself daily over this fact.

I know I’m crass, that my sexual innuendos and dirty mouth annoy you, but I live for those two bright spots of color in your cheeks. If that’s the only reaction I can get out of you, I’ll gladly take it.

You hate Mondays so every Monday I slip an anonymous poem into your bag and your smile gets me through the week.

I think I’m falling for you, and I know it’s wrong. I know that I’m only supposed to be the adviser to your program and nothing more, but here’s the thing. I think you’re falling for me too.

xo, Zach

breakdown

Author: Kendall Ryan
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: January 23, 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I can’t remember how I had heard about this book. I might have read a synopsis for it while reading another Kendall Ryan title. Regardless, I loved the synopsis and it was the perfect book to pick up to counteract the denser fantasy novel I was reading.

The Plot:

This book was a great reminder of what a solid contemporary romance novel can be. It had great character chemistry; a moving plot; and character growth. It didn’t get caught up in melodrama nor sexy times. It was just well rounded.

Now, it was a little cheesy near the end but the cute moments along the way allowed me to graze over that. And while it was a little ridiculous that Poppy couldn’t put two and two together about the notes.

The Characters:

I love confidence in a romantic hero and I think sometimes authors think that means that he needs to be an alpha or an asshole to exude that confidence. But confidence doesn’t equate ego. So it was so refreshing to meet Zach. He’s such a charmer and downright nice guy. But he knows what he wants and he knows how to respectfully get it.

And I loved watching Poppy grow as a person. I get her “I can do it myself” attitude but it was great to see her learn that being independent doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help.

The Romance:

While this isn’t exactly a forbidden romance—it’s probably classified as a “off-limits” since he isn’t her teacher, just an adviser–the nature of their positions adds some great tension to their already strong chemistry. It was great to watch their journey together.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

An engaging romance novel that has strong characters, great chemistry and a solid plot!

Read if You Like: contemporary romance,
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike lighter romance

similarreads

  • Four Years Later by Monica Murphy (One Week Girlfriend Series #4)
  • Keep Me by Faith Andrews (Grayson Siblings Series #1)

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