Tag «Women’s Fiction»

DNF Review: Two Across by Jeff Bartsch

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 Two Across (from Goodreads):
Highly awkward teenager Stanley Owens meets his match in beautiful, brainy Vera Baxter when they tie for first place in the annual National Spelling Bee-and the two form a bond that will change both of their lives.
Though their mothers have big plans for them-Stanley will become a senator, Vera a mathematics professor-neither wants to follow these pre-determined paths. So Stanley hatches a scheme to marry Vera in a sham wedding for the cash gifts, hoping they will enable him to pursue his one true love: crossword puzzle construction. In enlisting Vera to marry him, though, he neglects one variable: she’s secretly in love with him, which makes their counterfeit ceremony an exercise in misery for her.

Realizing the truth only after she’s moved away and cut him out of her life, Stanley tries to atone for his mistakes and win her back. But he’s unable to find her, until one day he comes across a puzzle whose clues make him think it could only have been created by Vera. Intrigued, he plays along, communicating back to her via his own gridded clues. But will they connect again before it’s all too late?


Author: Jeff Bartsch
Genre: Adult, Historical (1960s), Women’s Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Grand Central Publishing!



Disclaimer: I stopped reading Two Across at 28% (Chapter 5). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was asked by Grand Central Publishing if I would be interested in reading Two Across, I was really excited! I love fake/arrangement marriages where they secretly love each other, so this was right up my alley. But I found the premise to be unique as well with the crossword integration.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

I didn’t know that this book was set in the 1960s when I picked it up. I thought it was a contemporary romance but was more than a little surprised when I saw the date on the first chapter!

But I really loved this throwback setting. It helps give some social context for why these two agree to a shame of a marriage. By giving those social contexts (like the role of women in society; education, etc), you get a richer experience and see the bigger picture.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Pacing–

I found this book to be terribly slow. In my opinion, it took far to long to get to the crux of the plot (the fake marriage and its fallout). While I’m all for setting up the scene and situation, I felt like the exposition went on longer than necessary. I got bored and didn’t particularly care for the story once we actually reached the plot.

–The Romance–

Given everything I had learned in the first four chapters, I didn’t understand how Vera was “in love” with Stanley. It seemed to be more implied than actually visible. I wanted that established a little more for me.

Will I Finish It?

I’m a little torn on whether or not I will finish it. I tried pacing out my reading but found that to be unsuccessful. Maybe one day I’ll go back because I am still curious about how all of this will play out.

My Rating: DNF


I think if you going into this book thinking it reads more like Women’s Fiction than a straight romance, you’ll really enjoy this one. I just went in with the wrong expectations and felt let down.

Read if You Like: stories set in the 1960s, women’s fiction
Avoid if You: want more romance


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Single Sundays: Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin

Synopsis for Love the One You’re With (from Goodreads):
The New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed, Something Blue, and Baby Proof delivers another captivating novel about women and the choices that define them. This is the story for anyone who has ever wondered: How can I truly love the one I’m with when I can’t forget the one who got away?

Ellen and Andy’s first year of marriage doesn’t just seem perfect, it is perfect. There is no question how deep their devotion is, and how naturally they bring out the best in each other. But one fateful afternoon, Ellen runs into Leo for the first time in eight years. Leo, the one who brought out the worst in her. Leo, the one who left her heartbroken with no explanation. Leo, the one she could never quite forget. When his reappearance ignites long-dormant emotions, Ellen begins to question whether the life she’s living is the one she’s meant to live.

Love the One You’re With is a powerful story about one woman at the crossroads of true love and real life.


Again, this is another one of those books that I read much to early in life–though in all honesty I think I wouldn’t enjoy it later in life either.

I don’t enjoy stories featuring love triangles and by far the worst type of love triangle is one featuring an affair. While cheating is the main premise of Something Borrowed I had a better grasp of why it was occurring more than why it was here. It doesn’t mean I condone it in anyway, but the story was written in such a way that you sided with Rachel when all was said in done.

But here, I really couldn’t care less what happened and that was because the characters were dull. I didn’t really like anyone and I just never connected with them.

This was the fourth Emily Giffin book I read–and the last. While I can appreciate her taking realistic issues as the main focus of her books, I just wish she would follow-through with realistic plotlines or plotlines with characters that have some depth to them. I’m tired of reading Chick Lit books with selfish heroines who don’t think clearly in anything that they do. Where have all the strong heroines gone and how do we get them back?


Another miss from Giffin I think. It just fell flat in everything it tried to do. Pass!

Rating: 2.5/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Chick Lit, Women’s Fiction, Romance, Drama, Contemporary
Recommended for: 30+ women
Heat Rating: cool
Similar Reads: Something Borrowed by Emily Griffin (Darcy and Rachel Series #1); Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

Single Sundays: Baby Proof by Emily Giffin

Synopsis for Baby Proof (from Goodreads):
From the author of the smash hits Something Borrowed and Something Blue comes a novel that explores the question: is there ever a deal-breaker when it comes to true love?
First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes . . . a baby carriage? Isn’t that what all women want?
Not so for Claudia Parr. And just as she gives up on finding a man who feels the same way, she meets warm, wonderful Ben. Things seem too good to be true when they fall in love and agree to buck tradition with a satisfying, child-free marriage. Then the unexpected occurs: one of them has a change of heart. One of them wants children after all.
This is the witty, heartfelt story about what happens to the perfect couple when they suddenly want different things. It’s about feeling that your life is set and then realizing that nothing is as you thought it was–and that there is no possible compromise. It’s about deciding what is most important in life, and taking chances to get it. But most of all, it’s about the things we will do–and won’t do–for love.


After enjoying Something Borrowed and Something Blue by Emily Giffin, I decided to give her other novels a shot. Surprisingly my small town library seem to have most of her books so I decided to grab this one next (I actually thought it might be connected to the “Something” series but it isn’t).

I think this is another case where I was much too young to be reading this type of novel. I am not a married woman who is debating about having children so I really didn’t relate to the characters. It was kind-of above me so I feel indifferent about the novel and what happens within it.

I found this book to be slightly more realistic in the sense that this problem (whether or not to have children in your marriage) is one that many couples go through. Is the path that Claudia goes through realistic–yes but in a very exaggerated way that I think will turn off a lot of readers. As you read it, you will probably think of 20 other solutions to the problems Claudia faces that she blatantly ignores and that will probably frustrate you.

I really don’t remember much else from this book because it was a little dull when all is said and done.


I think my rating is pretty generous because I don’t remember much else from the book. I think most readers will get frustrated with the journey that unfolds but if you enjoyed Love the One You’re With more than Something Borrowed, you might like this novel.

Rating: 3/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Chick Lit, Women’s Fiction, Romance, Drama, Contemporary
Recommended for: 30+ women
Heat Rating: cool
Similar Reads: Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin (Darcy & Rachel Series #1)

Movie Mondays: The Secret Life of Bees

Movie Mondays: On Mondays, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this week’s offering:

Book: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kid | Movie: The Secret Life of Bees (2008)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

The Book:

Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction


This is perhaps one of the few books that I read in high school that I can genuinely say I enjoyed reading. While it started slow, it really picked up and turned out to be a pretty interesting read.

I think why I really liked it was because I actually did study it and see why things were written as they were. Perhaps that is the English student in me that finds it enjoyable. There are a lot of subtle meanings behind the text and they tend to link up as you progress through the book.

It is a hard book to read for two reasons: 1) is the racism and treatment of a majority of the characters present and 2) it’s definitely a chick book. My poor brother had to read this in high school too and absolutely detested it! But as a girl, I liked it though I found the subject matter to be pretty heavy at times. It’s a book that makes you appreciate how far society has come in the last few decades.


While I didn’t find this book spectacular, I did enjoy reading it. As I said before, it makes you appreciate the world that we live in now and reminds us that we still have some distance to go.

Rating: 3/5

Similar Reads: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Movie:

It’s been a super long time since I watched the movie so bear with me!

The movie had a pretty stellar cast: Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Dakota Fanning and Alicia Keys. Overall, I thought they did a good job in their roles; I’m not a huge Alicia Keys or Dakota Fanning fan but I felt like they fit the roles well and I’m not sure who else you could have gotten to do the roles and get the big name appeal.

I know that they changed the age of the Bee sisters and a few other things in the movie but I think they stayed true to the message of the novel.

It wasn’t anything overly fantastic, but it was well done to say the least.

So, which is better: the book or the movie?

In this case, the winner is the BOOK. I just found it that touch more grittier than the movie and more impactful.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for The Secret Life of Bees (from Goodreads):
Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily’s fierce-hearted black “stand-in mother,” Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina–a town that holds the secret to her mother’s past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable novel about divine female power, a story women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.