ARC Review: The Switch by Beth O’Leary

#-stars
Overall Rating: 3 Stars
Title: The Switch
Author: Beth O’Leary
Format: Audiobook provided by Netgalley in Exchange for an Honest Review

Synopsis:
Eileen is sick of being 79.
Leena’s tired of life in her twenties.
Maybe it’s time they swapped places…

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.

Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.

Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?

GOODREADS

Review

This book was much more of a Women’s Fiction book than I was expecting.

I think people who really enjoy Women’s Fiction will really like this, however, if you tend to lean more toward Romance than Women’s Fiction, you may have the same feelings I had while reading this.

The premise is cute and it’s done well, however, I do wish the romance was more prevalent because, well, I’m a romance reader at heart. Because there wasn’t a strong enough romance storyline in this to keep my attention, I found myself getting bored as I listened. I even almost DNF’d this a few times.

For fans of the Flat Share, you may still enjoy this book, however, if the thing you liked the most about The Flat Share was the romance, this may not live up to your expectations as it did for me. One of the biggest things I enjoyed about The Flat Share was the romance and while I appreciated all of the other aspects of that book, it was the romance that I liked the most.

As for the audiobook narration. I did notice some inconsistencies with the phone dialog. Sometimes the person on the other line had a filter over their voice (as if you were listening to them through a phone), but sometimes they didn’t. I think this may have just been an oversight in the ARC copy I listened to and will likely be corrected in the final edit of the audiobook.

I really liked the narrator Leena, she was fantastic. And while the narrator for Eileen was a great voice actor, I’m very sensitive to mouth noises/sounds, and she had some that began to grate on me as I was listening.

Overall, I thought this book was good, but not great and was slightly disappointed considering my expectations after reading The Flat Share.


Audiobook Performance: 4 stars

4-stars


Butterfly Rating: 0 Stars

0-stars


Re-read Worthiness: No


Bookshelf Placement: No


Book Boyfriend Rating: 2 stars

2-stars

 

 

 

What You Wish For by Katherine Center

3-stars
Overall Rating: 3 Stars
Title: What You Wish For
Author: Katherine Center
Format: Audiobook provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis:
Samantha Casey loves everything about her job as an elementary school librarian on the sunny, historic island of Galveston, Texas—the goofy kids, the stately Victorian building, the butterfly garden. But when the school suddenly loses its beloved principal, it turns out his replacement will be none other than Duncan Carpenter—a former, unrequited crush of Sam’s from many years before.

When Duncan shows up as her new boss, though, he’s nothing like the sweet teacher she once swooned over. He’s become stiff, and humorless, and obsessed with school safety. Now, with Duncan determined to destroy everything Sam loves about her school in the name of security—and turn it into nothing short of a prison—Sam has to stand up for everyone she cares about before the school that’s become her home is gone for good.

GOODREADS

Review

I have loved everything I’ve read by Katherine Center so far and while this book wasn’t my favorite of hers, I still enjoyed it for the most part.

There are definite trigger warnings in this book for the loss of a loved one, gun violence, abuse, and medical trauma.

All of those trigger warnings may make you think that this is going to be an incredibly emotional book… you’re right… however, it isn’t all doom and gloom. It tackles some serious subject matter, but the hope and joy in this book make a good balance.

I did find some of those parts a bit cheesy – and trust me, I can tolerate a fair amount of it – sometimes, considering the darker parts, I wondered if it was a little over the top.

Another criticism I found – which is fully just a “me” thing – are inaccuracies or things that just wouldn’t happen in a private school setting. Or if they did, it’d be a HUGE deal.

I have a better part of a decade’s experience with the administration/development (and parent) side of private schools and it was slightly irritating to read about how certain things were handled at the school that would not fly in real life.

It took me out of the story every time.

The most glaring was when the new Head of School claimed he was re-allocating funds that were raised for a new playground to build something completely different. I could NEVER imagine that happening. Parents would lose their ever-loving minds if they donated large sums of money to a capital campaign and the nonprofit organization suddenly changed their minds about what they were using the money for. I also highly doubt a Board of Directors would agree to that.

Is it even legal?

There were also little things like how the “quirky” teacher behaved in flashbacks and I kept imagining what kind of uproar it truly would’ve caused at faculty meetings – and how many complaints the Head of School and administration would get from other teachers. You’d be surprised at how upsetting those overly outgoing teachers are to the rest of the faculty. I think I would’ve been more impressed with this book if it had handled those nuances more accurately. It definitely would’ve been far more believable for me.

I really enjoyed the romance, though the hero’s “before and after” characteristics were so jarringly different that his character didn’t hold a lot of believability to me. In fact, I found both the main characters somewhat lacking. I loved the epilepsy rep, though I can’t speak to how well it was done. I did feel like the heroine’s quirks weren’t consistent. I can’t really put into words what it was exactly, but something felt off with both of these characters which has not been the case at all with other Katherine Center books I’ve read.

Speaking of the epilepsy rep, I fully empathize with how the main character felt about her illness. It is a constant storm cloud that looms over her head and plays a part in every decision she makes. It refocused her future and how her mind works on a minute-to-minute basis. The constant, “is this an episode,” worry was so relatable to me.

I have Multiple Sclerosis, so I know what it is like to carry around your illness with you everywhere you go, whether you’re having a flare-up or not. I both love and hate reading about it in books.

As always in Katherine Center books, I did love the ending. I love how she wraps things up in a pretty bow. And OMG if I could rate only her essay about reading for joy at the end, I’d give it all the stars in the universe, it was so validating and so good!


Audiobook Performance: 5 stars

5-stars
The audiobook reader for this was REALLY good!


Butterfly Rating: 1 Star

1-star


Re-read Worthiness: No


Bookshelf Placement: Maybe


Book Boyfriend Rating: 2 stars

2-stars