New-To-Me Authors: 0
And the places I “visited” in my reading…
States: Texas – Illinois – Wyoming – New Mexico
Countries: Germany – England
Not super crazy about this one… The storyline was good; it was interesting, for sure. But I felt that the phrase “under suspicion” was seriously over-used. It left me wondering if it was the same way in the later books in this series (#3 & #4) that I’ve already read (yes, I’m reading them out of order, but it was an accident!) But I didn’t notice it and I really think I would have.
Anyway… Another thing that bugged me was the thoughts of the characters being used so often to describe in such great detail what had happened in the past. This really got on my nerves and actually made me want to just skip those parts. However, with much determination, I managed to resist that urge.
On the positive side, the mysteries were quite interesting! All the secrets, and sadness, and guilt, and hatred, and blackmail, and intrigue! Though I did figure out some of it, some parts did remain a mystery until quite late in the book. I’m still not certain how I feel about the way things ended with some of the characters… but I suppose that’s okay.
My favorite thing about this book was being able to go back and see how Laurie and Alex met and how everything got started with her show and all. (This is why I try to always read series in order!! 😛 )
Note of Warning: For the readers out there who are looking for a clean/Christian read, this is not Christian fiction– there isn’t any sex or anything, but there is some bad language in this book.
Was this a good read? Mm… it was okay. Not wholly awful, but not all that good either. I don’t often say this, but I liked the movie better and the movie wasn’t even all that great, in my opinion. I actually decided to read this book because I had seen the movie and thought the book would probably be better. Well… there was more to it, for sure. And there are some differences in the main couple’s relationship, not to mention the storyline in general, though that is to be expected and can even be a good thing. But I don’t think the book is as good as the movie, much less better than it.
The book is rather darker and sadder than the Hallmark movie. There is depression, suicide, cheating, professor/student relationships, divorce, cancer….. Yeah. Sadness and heartache. But the strange thing is that, while I would expect all that to evoke an emotional response… it really didn’t. None of it felt all that real to me. The telling felt bland and flat to the point that it didn’t make me care about these characters and what had happened/was happening to them. I don’t enjoy reading books that are sad and make me cry, but if it’s going to be sad? Make me feel it– make me cry!
Now, that’s not to say there isn’t anything lighthearted and happy in the story. There is, I promise. Kim and Zeke have their romance and their happily ever after (come on, that’s not a spoiler!) and there are funny moments with Kim’s new friend at the Inn. Some other secondary characters even get happy endings. There are special moments and sweet moments. There just wasn’t enough to outweigh the negatives for me. Things like being told every single thing they ordered every time they had a meal. Why? It reminded me of kids adding in as many needless words as possible to a school report so they could reach their word count requirement faster. I don’t need to know this. It doesn’t help or enhance the story at all. Maybe that’s just me, but I found myself rolling my eyes every time they headed to dinner because I knew what was coming.
Also there were some things in the story that just didn’t make any sense to me at all. I wouldn’t normally include stuff like this, but it just got to me so I’ll share a couple of examples.
1) At one point, Kim puts her wedding ring back on to deter unwanted attention from a certain jerk. But… she’s divorced and has been separated from her husband for a while, if I remember correctly, so why did she even have her wedding ring with her? I mean, even if she still had it at home, why would she have brought it to the writers retreat?
2) Toward the end of the book, there was a conversation where someone was misinformed about a situation (I’m going to try really hard to not give anything away here). Kim was trying to set them straight, but they didn’t believe her because they doubted the person concerned would tell Kim about the situation in question. Instead of simply explaining that she was present when the person told the whole story to a roomful of people, she tries to convince them that she really did know the person and they told her the story personally. Yes, she did tell the truth, but it was unnecessary and over-complicated things. And I suppose it could be played off as an emotional reaction, but it just made it seem really forced and kind of ridiculous because it was a pointless conversation.
I’m sorry… I feel like maybe I’m being overly critical here. It’s just that, the more I think about it, the less I like this book and the more I want to give it only 1 star, even though I started out giving it 2. Because the characters weren’t very likable either and the writing in general really wasn’t all that great. But then there was some good stuff thrown in there about love and relationships…
“Romance novels are all about desire and happily-ever-after, but happily-ever-after doesn’t come from desire—at least not the kind portrayed in pulp romances. Real love is not to desire a person but to desire their happiness—sometimes even at the expense of our own happiness. Real love is to expand our own capacity for tolerance and caring, to actively seek another’s well-being. All else is simply a charade of self-interest.”
“They say love is blind, but it’s not. Infatuation is blind. Emotional neediness is blind. Love sees the fault, it just sees beyond it as well.”
*sigh* I guess I’ll leave the rating at 2 stars, but I think it’s probably more like 1 1/2.
There are a couple of mild cuss words used and a couple remarks regarding kissing and being naked that might be considered somewhat inappropriate by someone looking for a very clean read. I would consider it inappropriate for a Christian book, but I don’t think this book is classified that way, is it..?
New-To-Me Authors: 4
And the places I “visited” in my reading…
States: Michigan – Kentucky – Illinois – Montana – New York – Colorado – Nevada – Vermont
Countries: England – Switzerland – Serbia – Germany – Czechoslovakia
Ah… Jen’s books are always so very fun to read! That’s why I like them so much. They’re unusual and wholly unbelievable, but they make me laugh and I dearly love a laugh! 🙂
This book was, as I expected, a lot of fun and quite the adventure at times! There are some deeper, more difficult topics in this book, but as a whole I would consider it a comedy. Sometimes, the characters and situations are completely absurd, but that’s what makes it so funny! (If you’re a fan of classic films, I might compare it to something like “The Court Jester” or some other similar movie. If you don’t understand that reference… then all I can say is that you need to go watch that movie. You’ll thank me later. 😉 )
I think I can honestly say that my favorite part of this story, and of the series in general so far, is Harrison. He is just….. he’s such a lovable sweetheart! He’s a wonderful brother and I love that about him! A hero that’s a good brother always gets to me and Harrison’s got that roll nailed. He obviously loves his sisters, even if he does find them exasperatingly baffling most of the time. He cares about them and for them. And all of that translates over into his relationship with Gertrude (who I also love) in a really sweet way. He’s also a good and loyal friend. And while I’m pretty sure his clothing choices would probably drive me bonkers… I guess it does say something for him that he wasn’t so extremely concerned with what people thought of his sense of fashion.
Gertrude is frustrating at times, mostly because of all the things she lets Mrs. Davenport get away with, but the more I got to know her, the more I loved her and I was somewhat better able to understand where she was coming from. Going into too much detail on that would be a spoiler so I won’t say anything more, except that she has a very sad past and I know it would be difficult for anyone to overcome some of what she went through. She is compassionate and loyal and the type of person I think I would enjoy calling a friend.
I did wish for a little more in certain areas. I was really hoping for some more information on Harrison’s colorblindness, yet at the same time, I wasn’t surprised when it wasn’t explored further. And Temperance’s seeming about-face was kind of abrupt, but I thought that might be explained more in the next book. I hope it is. And I wish we knew more about Harrison’s family! Seems like there could easily be a series written about his sisters… Would that be too much to hope for? And I felt like Mrs. Davenport’s situation could have been expounded upon further. It just felt like there would be more behind her character and personality than what we were given in the story.
One thing upset me. At one point, the pastor says that he’s delivered several sermons that centered around the truth that everyone is worthy of God’s grace. That is not true. Grace is, by definition, unmerited. It is impossible to be worthy of grace. That is all.
With all that being said, I still really enjoyed this book. I’m happy to be able to add it to my ever-growing collection of Jen’s books and I’m sure I’ll be perusing it again in the future! 🙂
Before I go… leave me a comment if you’ve read the book and you remember that moment when Harrison was so desperate that he used the topic of conversation he was trying to avoid as a distraction from the distraction he tried to use to avoid the original conversation. (Hope that makes sense.) Personally, I found that situation hilarious! ;D
I received a free copy of this book through the Bethany House Blogger Review Program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Lots of silliness going on which led me to smiles and giggles. Read more…
Jen excels at witty dialogue and has the ability to turn the simplest of situations into laugh-out-loud humor…. I enjoyed every minute spent reading this delightful story. Read more…
Another winner in the line up of books by Jen Turano! As I’ve come to expect from her, this book was wonderfully hilarious and warmly romantic. Read more…
Adventures, misunderstandings, and crazy attire combine to create a delightful story that will keep you chuckling throughout! Read more…
Gertrude: “I’ve heard rumors about people who’ve recently found the love of their life. Those rumors have it that lovestruck couples soon turn their thoughts to securing love matches for anyone in their direct vicinity who may not be otherwise engaged.”
Permilia: “I can’t claim that the image of you covered in butter isn’t an amusing one. However, since I do seem to have experience getting ladies unstuck, which seems downright odd now that I think about it, brace yourself because this might demand some determined tugging on my part.”
Gertrude: “You and I are going to have to have a little chat about the delusion you seem to be under regarding my relationship with your brother.”
Mrs. Davenport: “There’s no cause to be so snippy.”
Gertrude: “There’s no cause to embarrass a person either, but that didn’t stop you from sending me off to a formal engagement celebration wearing a birdcage attached to my behind.”
He’d been born with a face that caused ladies to swoon, but he was in possession of something much more significant than a handsome face– a caring and compassionate heart.
New Year’s resolutions? The only ones I have ever set have involved books. 😉 For me, starting the New Year off right includes setting new reading goals and figuring out all the books that I hope to read in the following year. 🙂
I always start fairly early compiling a list of books that would be coming out in 2018 that I was looking forward to reading… You can find my list here.
These are the challenges that I have set for myself this year:
— Goal: Read at least 50 library books in 2018
TBR Pile Challenge
— Goal: Read at least 50 books from my TBR pile in 2018
Finish The Series Challenge
— Goal: Finish at least 10 series in 2018
— Goal: Finish at least 30 audiobooks in 2018
New Releases Challenge
— Goal: Finish at least 15 new releases in 2018
Some books that I’m hoping/planning to read this year:
(not including the 2018 new releases)
Of the 98 books I read in 2017, these are my 15 favorites. Since it would be nearly impossible to list them according to which ones I enjoyed more, I’ve listed them alphabetically.
Read a book blurb, find the rest of the books in a series, or learn more about an author by clicking on the cover of the book that interests you. And I’ve also included a link to my review of each book.
After Miss Wilhelmina Radcliff’s father lost the family fortune in a poor investment decision, she finds herself banished from the fashionable set within New York society and directly into the wallflower section. Taking on work as a social secretary in order to help with family expenses, she spends her time penning out invitations to all the most sought-after events, wondering if her life will ever improve.
While languishing one evening at a ball given by one of the esteemed New York patriarchs, Wilhelmina is appalled to discover that Mr. Edgar Wanamaker, her oldest and dearest friend, and the first gentleman to offer her a marriage proposal, has shown up at the ball unexpectedly, having been absent from New York ever since she rejected his offer years before. – My Review –
After spending the last six years banished to the wallflower section of the ballroom, Miss Permilia Griswold has finally figured out a way to pass the time at all the New York high-society events she attends. Under the pseudonym “Miss Quill,” she is the author of society gossip columns filled with tidbits only an insider in society–albeit one on the fringes–would know.
When she overhears a threat against Mr. Asher Rutherford, the owner of one of the most up-and-coming department stores in the city, she’s determined to warn him. But the irritatingly handsome man doesn’t believe her, leaving her no choice but to take matters into her own hands. What she doesn’t anticipate is that she’ll end up putting herself at risk in the process–or that she and Mr. Rutherford, a man with secrets of his own, just might end up joining forces after all. – My Review –
Dana Newell has just moved to Rock Harbor to take a job as a sheriff’s dispatcher. The abusive relationship she left behind seems a distant memory in this perfect place.
Her first day on the job, Dana receives a call from her friend Allyson who screams “He’s going to kill me too” before the phone goes dead. Allyson’s death is ruled an accident, but Dana just doesn’t believe it. She knows Allyson was researching a new story. Did someone want to keep her quiet?
Dana continues to look into the accident with the help of Bree and also Allyson’s cousin Boone. Romance quickly blooms between Dana and Boone but the game is much more complex than either of them imagined. When Dana’s ex-fiance locates her, she’s caught in the middle. It’s a game of cat and mouse as she and Boone fight to catch one killer while evading another. – My Review –
FBI agent Declan Grey is in the chase of his life–but isn’t sure exactly what he’s chasing after. Threatened by a terrorist that “the wrath is coming,” Grey fears something horrible is about to be unleashed on American soil. When his investigation leads him to a closed immigrant community, he turns to Tanner Shaw to help him. She’s sought justice for refugees and the hurting around the world, and if there’s anyone who can help him, it’s Tanner.
Tanner Shaw has joined the FBI as a crisis counselor . . . meaning she now has more opportunity to butt heads with Declan. But that tension also includes a spark she can’t deny, and she’s pretty sure Declan feels the same. But before anything can develop between them, they discover evidence of a terror cell–and soon are in a race against the clock to stop the coming “wrath” that could cost thousands their lives. – My Review –
Though the Great War is nearing its end, the fighting rages on. While waiting for transport back to her post, Bess Crawford meets Captain Alan Travis. Later, when he’s brought into her forward aid station disoriented from a head wound, Bess is alarmed that he believes his distant cousin, Lieutenant James Travis, shot him. Then the Captain is brought back to the aid station with a more severe wound, once more angrily denouncing the Lieutenant as a killer. But when it appears that James couldn’t have shot him, the Captain’s sanity is questioned. Still, Bess wonders how such an experienced officer could be so wrong.
On leave in England, Bess finds the Captain strapped to his bed in a clinic for brain injuries. Horrified by his condition, Bess and Sergeant Major Simon Brandon travel to James Travis’s home to learn more about the baffling relationship between these two cousins. – My Review –
Elite Guardians bodyguard Haley Callaghan may be in South Carolina, but when a photo leads investigators in West Ireland to open a twenty-five-year-old cold case, her life is suddenly in danger. Haley knows how to take care of herself; after all, she’s made a career out of taking care of others. But after an uncomfortably close call, Detective Steven Rothwell takes it upon himself to stay with her–and the young client she has taken under her wing. A protector at heart, he’s not about to let Haley fight this battle alone.
In a sweeping plot that takes them into long-buried memories–and the depths of the heart–Haley and Steven will have to solve the mystery of Haley’s past while dodging bullets, bombs, and bad guys who just won’t quit. – My Review –
Four years after a tragic mission decimated his career and his team, Cole “Tox” Russell is persona non grata to the United States. And that’s fine—he just wants to be left alone. But when a dormant, centuries-old disease is unleashed at an archaeological dig where three Bronze-era censers are found, Tox is lured back into action. Partnered with an archaeologist and an FBI agent who’s an expert in deception, Tox and his team are pitted against a secret society, a plague dubbed the New Black Death, and a revered codex—which may hold the key to stopping the deadly outbreak. – My Review –
Beautiful, clever, rich – and single – Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr. Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protegee Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected. With its imperfect but charming heroine and its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, Emma is often seen as Jane Austen’s most flawless work. – My Review –
Griffith, Duke of Riverton, likes order, logic, and control, so he naturally applies this rational approach to his search for a bride. While he’s certain Miss Frederica St. Claire is the perfect wife for him, she is strangely elusive, and he can’t seem to stop running into her stunningly beautiful cousin, Miss Isabella Breckenridge.
Isabella should be enjoying her society debut, but with her family in difficult circumstances, she has no choice but to agree to a bargain that puts her at odds with all her romantic hopes–as well as her conscience. And the more she comes to know Griffith, the more she regrets the unpleasant obligation that prevents her from any dream of a future with him.
As all Griffith’s and Isabella’s long-held expectations are shaken to the core, can they set aside their pride and fear long enough to claim a happily-ever-after? – My Review –
On a rise overlooking the Wiltshire countryside stands the village of Ivy Hill. Its coaching inn, The Bell, is its lifeblood–along with the coach lines that stop there daily, bringing news, mail, travelers, and much-needed trade.
Jane Bell lives on the edge of the inn property. She had been a genteel lady until she married the charming innkeeper who promised she would never have to work in his family’s inn. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Jane finds herself The Bell’s owner, and worse, she has three months to pay a large loan or lose the place.
Feeling reluctant and ill-equipped, Jane is tempted to abandon her husband’s legacy and return to her former life of ease. However, she soon realizes there is more at stake than her comfort. But who can she trust to help her? Her resentful mother-in-law? Her husband’s brother, who wanted the inn for himself? Or the handsome newcomer with secret plans of his own . . . ?
With pressure mounting from the bank, Jane struggles to win over naysayers and turn the place around. Can Jane bring new life to the inn, and to her heart as well? – My Review –
ER nurse Sloane Ferrell escaped her risky past–new name, zip code, job, and a fresh start. She’s finally safe, if she avoids a paper trail and doesn’t let people get too close. Like the hospital’s too-smooth marketing man with his relentless campaign to plaster one “lucky” employee’s face on freeway billboards.Micah Prescott’s goal is to improve the Hope hospital image, but his role as a volunteer crisis responder is closer to his heart. The selfless work helps fill a void in his life left by family tragedy. So does a tentative new relationship with the compassionate, beautiful, and elusive Sloane Ferrell.Then a string of brutal crimes makes headlines, summons responders . . . and exposes disturbing details of Sloane’s past.Can hope spring from crisis? – My Review –
When Maddy McKay and Quinn Holcombe don’t show up for Quinn’s surprise birthday party, his friends know that something is very wrong. Their search turns up little beyond evidence that Quinn and Maddy just decided to take off for a long overdue vacation. But it soon becomes apparent that they did not leave of their own accord.
Maddy awakens in a cement room with no idea where she is. But it’s not long before she realizes she’s in the clutches of a madman exacting revenge by hunting. His prey of choice? Humans. Now Maddy and Quinn must run for their lives, hoping to find their killer before the next game begins. Because if they don’t win this game, they die. – My Review –
Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright–and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart.
Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead–and the photographer insists he didn’t take the shot. Worse, her friend can’t be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat. – My Review –
A plane crash claimed the lives of her husband and son, but Bree Nichols and Samson, her search and rescue dog, won’t rest until they’ve recovered the lost bodies-or combed every inch of the wilderness trying.Meanwhile, the quiet town of Rock Harbor is disturbed by a violent crime. Bree soon discovers a personal stake in the solving of the murder, and in the course of her investigation, discovers links to her husband’s plane crash. Could solving the crime bring her peace with her own loss? Or, more incredibly, reunite her family? – My Review –
Katie Singleton, a partner with the Elite Guardians Protection Agency, stumbles upon her next assignment quite by accident. Spotting blue lights at a familiar restaurant, she stops to investigate, only to discover that owner Daniel Matthews has become the target of someone who will go to any lengths to put him out of business.
Daniel might be concerned, but he’s not convinced that a bodyguard–and a female one at that–is necessary. A new attack and his niece’s urgings are enough to make him reconsider. He and Katie must figure out who’s behind the intimidation and threats–before a would-be killer strikes again. – My Review –
I’ve really enjoyed posting my favorites and least favorites of the books I read, so I thought I would do that again this year.
You can read a book blurb, find the rest of the books in a series, or learn more about an author by clicking on the cover of the book that interests you.
(I’ll link all of these book cover images to my review of that book so that you can see it if you’d like to.)
Least-Favorite Books of 2017…
(These are books I rated at least 2 stars. They weren’t… wholly awful, I guess… I wouldn’t tell you “don’t read them”, but I also wouldn’t recommend them. Basically, they’re just below “good” and just above “not worth reading”.)
Not-Worth-Reading Books of 2017…
(These are books that I may or may not have finished reading. Books that I DO NOT recommend– in fact, I’d recommend just avoiding them. You can check out my reviews to see why, if you’re curious.)
Favorite New-To-Me Authors of 2017…
Least-Favorite New-To-Me Authors Of 2017…
Books That Surprised Me (in a good way) in 2017…
(These are books that I didn’t really expect to enjoy as much as I did!)
(So I just noticed something… the covers of all the surprised-me-in-a-good-way books have warmer color tones.)
Books That Disappointed Me in 2017…
(These are the books that, based on recommendations & ratings from friends, I expected to be really good… but they just fell sadly short of my expectations.)
(And something else I just noticed… the covers of all the disappointed-me books have blue/green colors! How strange is that?!)
Favorite Book Covers Of 2017…
(You wouldn’t think this would be as hard as it is! But I’m kinda picky about book covers so…..)
(Well, that turned out to be a rather interesting collection of covers, didn’t it?)
What an adventure this was! From apartments to mansions, from the sewers to an asylum, and more! There were, secrets, intrigue, suspicions, spying, encrypted messages, a psycho doctor….. *deep breath* …and of course, there was romance too. 😉
This isn’t a very fast-paced book at first. I kinda wish it was, but it’s not. While I was very much enjoying the story, it was still pretty easy to put down and set aside for a while… which is exactly what I ended up doing for a couple of weeks about halfway through the book. But– it’s also the type of book that during those two weeks, I was still really looking forward to picking it back up and finishing it. And the last half of the book was finished within two afternoons. So obviously, the last half went much faster than the first.
I found many aspects of this story fascinating. The telegraph, the Morse Code, the pluming, the PTSD, the Panama Canal, etc. Elizabeth Camden’s writing makes it easy for me to visualize the things she writes about. I enjoyed the way these things were woven into the story; it was all so very interesting and made my history-loving self quite happy!
I grew to love the characters (well… some of them, anyway) and enjoyed seeing them grow and develop throughout the book. It has me really looking forward to reading Nick’s story! (Wish I didn’t have to wait until June. 😦 ) Lucy and Nick were great and, like I said, I grew to love them… but I think Colin was my favorite character. I wish we’d been able to get to know his family, but maybe we’ll get to learn more about them later? Colin just felt the most real to me and that made it easier to connect with him. Though, toward the end, I began to connect more with Lucy too.
One last thing before I sign off… I just have to say that I loved the dialogue. Dialogue is usually a pretty big thing for me. If a book is really well written, but the dialogue is terrible or seems really stiff or fake? It’s likely that I won’t finish the book. On the other hand, I’m likely to give a book an extra star if it has genuine, fun, engaging dialogue that I truly enjoy. This book is one of the latter. I don’t know what it was specifically, but I remember thinking several times that the dialogue was great and I was really enjoying it.
A big thumbs-up and 5 stars from me! I definitely recommend this book! 🙂
I received a free copy of this book through the Bethany House Blogger Review Program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Easily one of the best of this genre that I’ve read in 2017. Read more…
It’s Camden’s best in years (since Beyond All Dreams, in my opinion)—well-researched, detailed history, and two lead characters with clear chemistry. (Their banter is excellent. Brings to mind classic movies like Desk Set and His Girl Friday…) Read more…
“That’s the girl I’ve adored from the moment I first clapped eyes on her,” Nick said. “Of course, at that time she was a squalling infant and I was only three years old, but sisters can grow on you.”
Colin: “This whole evening was like something out of The Three Musketeers. Fun to read about, but perfectly horrible to experience in reality.”
Ruby: “I’m not waiting. I’m walking out of here with you, and if you want to see crazy, just try to stop me.”
And join me in looking forward to the next book in the Empire State series, releasing in June 2018!
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