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

 

 

 

ARC Review: A Change In Tide by Freya Barker

4-stars
Overall Rating: 4 Stars
Title: A Change in Tide
Author: Freya Barker
Series: Northern Lights #1
Format: Audiobook ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis:
What impact would it have when everything suddenly faded to black?

For Mia, a crowded subway ride changes her entire life. Retreating to the wilderness helps her cope with a world that is suddenly too loud, too turbulent.
Her existence safely contained to the small cottage on the lake, she is unprepared for the neighbor that moves across the bay

A career-ending injury has Jared permanently benched. His reputation as The Enforcer won’t survive the unanticipated responsibilities awaiting him.
Away from the public eye, he adjust to his new reality, under the quiet observation of the intriguing hermit on the other side of the water.

GOODREADS

Review

First of all, the audiobook for this was really, really good. The narrators are new-to-me, but I really liked them. The male narrator had such a nice, deep voice.

While I feel like this story was longer than it needed to be, I did really like it. I especially appreciated that the main character was a midwife who supported the hero’s sister throughout her “4th trimester.” It’s obvious the author has experience with all the nuances that come along with breastfeeding and all the attachment parenting things that I went through as a new mom. I had so many flashbacks to when my girls were newborns reading this book – it even made me nostalgic for those days as hard as they were!

I love this take on the hockey player trope. While it plays a big part in the story, especially toward the end, it’s different since Jared is retired due to an injury.

While I don’t have agoraphobia, the representation of the anxiety part of her disorder was done really well.

I loved how Jared took care of his sister and how well the heroine fit into their little family.

The journalist was incredibly annoying and seemed a bit over the top.

This book definitely made me wish I had a nice, secluded lake house across from a famous hockey player! Lol!


Audiobook Performance: 5 stars

5-stars


Butterfly Rating: 2 Stars

2-stars


Re-read Worthiness: Nah


Bookshelf Placement: No


Book Boyfriend Rating: 4 stars

4-stars

 

 

 

ARC Review: Not Like the Movies (Waiting for Tom Hanks #2) by Kerry Winfrey⁣

5-stars
Overall Rating: 5 Stars
Title: Not Like the Movies
Author: Kerry Winfrey⁣
Series: Waiting for Tom Hanks #2
Format: ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: 7/7/20

Synopsis:
What happens when your life is a rom-com…but you don’t even believe in true love?

Chloe Sanderson is an optimist, and not because her life is easy. As the sole caregiver for her father, who has early onset Alzheimer’s, she’s pretty much responsible for everything. She has no time—or interest—in getting swept up in some dazzling romance. Not like her best friend Annie, who literally wrote a rom-com that’s about to premiere in theaters across America…and happens to be inspired by Chloe and Nick Velez, Chloe’s cute but no-nonsense boss.

As the buzz for the movie grows, Chloe reads one too many listicles about why Nick is the perfect man, and now she can’t see him as anything but Reason #2: The Scruffy-Bearded Hunk Who’s Always There When You Need Him. But unlike the romance Annie has written for them, Chloe isn’t so sure her own story will end in a Happily Ever After.

GOODREADS

Review

⁣⁣Finally, an illustrated cover that matches the story!⁣

This book is just as adorable as the cover. It’s a hilarious romcom about a barista named Chloe who is dealing with a lot: her best friend wrote a screenplay that is becoming a popular movie about the romance between her and her boss… except, her and her boss aren’t even in a relationship, which makes things awkward, but is also a bit forshadowing.⁣

There was so much to love in this adorable novel. Chloe doesn’t have it easy, her mother and brother have abandoned her to take care of her father with Alzheimer’s completely on her own, she’s trying to get through business school, and she’s working full time. However, she somehow holds onto her constant optimism by a thread even though the hits keep coming.⁣

The banter between Chloe and her boss, Nick, is so on point. I laughed out loud and highlighted so many lines while reading this one.⁣

Chloe and Annie’s friendship is total friendship goals and I absolutely MUST read Annie’s story, if only to get more of these two characters.⁣

The only downside about this book is that Chloe’s character became a little frustrating toward the end. Her reasons for refusing to be in a relationship with Nick just didn’t make sense to me, but Nick’s character alone was enough to make up for that. He’s the quiet, seemingly grumpy, but secretly sweet hero that I absolutely love.⁣


Butterfly Rating: 2 Stars

2-stars


Re-read Worthiness: Maybe

I might check out the audiobook after I read Waiting for Tom Hanks!


Bookshelf Placement: Yes!

This cover is gorgeous!


Book Boyfriend Rating: 3 stars

3-stars

 

 

 

ARC Review: By the Book by Amanda Sellet

5-stars
Overall Rating: 5 Stars
Title: By the Book
Author: Amanda Sellet
Format: eARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Synopsis:
As a devotee of classic novels, Mary Porter-Malcolm knows all about Mistakes That Have Been Made, especially by impressionable young women. So when a girl at her new high school nearly succumbs to the wiles of a notorious cad, Mary starts compiling the Scoundrel Survival Guide, a rundown of literary types to be avoided at all costs.

Unfortunately, Mary is better at dishing out advice than taking it—and the number one bad boy on her list is terribly debonair. As her best intentions go up in flames, Mary discovers life doesn’t follow the same rules as fiction. If she wants a happy ending IRL, she’ll have to write it herself.

 

GOODREADS

Review

A personal anecdote for you that, I swear, relates to this book: I work with a lot of ivy league graduates of the scholarly nature and our main character, Mary’s parents are so painfully, triggeringly, pin-point-perfectly depictive of those types of people.

I truly wondered if I would make it through this book with all the eye-twitching I had going on any time her parents spoke.

Mary’s parents have the uncanny ability to overcomplicate when communicating and they are in need of constant validation and awe with their usage of SAT words in normal conversation.

Honestly, that goes for everyone in Mary’s family. Including our narrator. I tolerated it because her voice makes total sense given her upbringing and obsession with classic novels.

The narrator honest-to-goodness threw in the word “erstwhile.” As soon as I read that, my eye started twitching because I have a vivid experience at work in which my boss’s boss tried to come at us with an email communication to the community using that word, and we (in the marketing/communications department) immediately vetoed it.

As I hit the 50% mark, I began to find Mary charming, funny, and observant, which made for a great reading experience and I fell more and more in love with her big, quirky family. Yes, even her parents whose arms must hurt from all the self back-patting.

I grew up in a big family (3 siblings, lots of cousins) and seeing it depicted in books and movies always warms my heart – especially when done well. It’s why I tear up watching Little Women and why I adored To All the Boys I Loved Before. This was no different.

I say the following with both praise and warning:
The writing style is very nobody-talks-like-that-but-we-love-to-see-it Dawson’s Creek meets SAT prep with a lot of Gilmore Girls, but with classic literature references instead of pop culture references. There is even a glossary of literature references made at the end of the book.

You know how there is a Rory Gilmore reading challenge? I totally could see a Mary Porter-Malcom reading challenge stemming from this book.

All that being said, I think this book is very self-aware. I believe (and hope) that it is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, in which case, it is done incredibly well.

And now, I shall gush, because it’s what I do best:

I loved seeing how Mary’s world clashed with contemporary high school – how she interpreted everyday high school drama and how everyday high schoolers interpreted her.

The friend group in this was so, so refreshing. All three girls have such vivid personalities with little focus on looks, which I so appreciated. I seriously WISH I had friends like those in high school. I’m many, MANY years out of high school and I even wanted to hang out with them.

And who would I be if I didn’t talk about the romance in this book?

YA romances can be pretty predictable, but I’m going to be honest, this one wasn’t nearly as predictable as most YA novels I read. There were SO many sweet, swoony moments. The type of tiny moments that are significant simply because of the build-up.

The inclusion of Mary’s diary entries were not extra fluff. They directed the story in significant, but subtle ways. They weren’t boringly long, they were short and sweet, but packed a punch.

When I closed this book (figuratively speaking because I read the eARC for this), I felt exactly how I hope to feel every time I open one… a little giddy, a little nostalgic, and a lot satisfied.


Butterfly Rating: 4 Stars

4-stars


Re-read Worthiness: Maybe


Bookshelf Placement: Yes

I love the cover!


Book Boyfriend Rating: 5 stars

5-stars

 

 

 

ARC REVIEW: That’s Not a Thing by Jacqueline Friedland

5-stars
Overall Rating: 5 Stars
Title: That’s Not a Thing
Author: Jacqueline Friedland
Format: ARC received in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley
Release Date: 4/14/20

Synopsis:
Meredith Altman’s engagement to Wesley Latner ended in spectacular disaster—one that shattered her completely. Years have passed since then, and now she’s about to marry Aaron Rapp, a former Ivy League football player and baby-saving doctor. As they celebrate their engagement at a new TriBeCa hotspot, Meredith is stunned to find the restaurant owner is none other than Wesley, the man she is still secretly trying to forget.

When Meredith learns that Wesley has been diagnosed with ALS, her feelings about their past become all the more confusing. As she spends more time with Wesley and is pulled further under his spell, she discovers what kind of man her new fiancé really is—and what kind of woman she wants to be.

GOODREADS

Review

I’ve never been yanked around by my heartstrings so much by a book before.

I didn’t remember anything about the synopsis before I picked up this book to read it, and I’m glad I didn’t. I’m glad I went into the novel blind, because I thought I had a pretty good idea about where this book was going, and I was so wrong.

I won’t go into detail here for that reason.

The first half of this book is told in a dual timeline. Sometimes when this happens, I find I’m more invested in one timeline than I am in the other, but that was not the case with this book. I was completely invested in both timelines from the very first page. I felt attached to the characters I was meant to feel attached to immediately.

I felt as torn as our main character, Mer. And that is not at all an easy place to be, not at all.

The first 30ish percent of this book seems like your typical novel. I thought I knew where it was going and I was comfortable with that. And then I was completely blindsided…and immediately after the first punch in the gut, I felt like I got hit again. And again. Up until the very end, I was on the edge of my seat, wondering how and if everything was going to be resolved. NEEDING everything to be resolved. And entirely unsure HOW I even wanted it to be resolved.

I casually read the first part of this book over a couple of days, picking it up whenever I had time. Little did I know that once I hit a certain part, I’d abandon my plan of getting to bed early and stay up all night reading fiendishly until I finished.

aside from the story itself, I loved the three main characters in this book.

Mer is not a main character I usually like so much. She’s almost overly self-sacrificing, greater-good kind of character that can be eyeroll worthy sometimes, but she isn’t perfect and she’s not annoying. She’s just a good person in a really heartbreaking situation.

Then there is Aaron, who seems like your typical almost-too-perfect rebound boyfriend and Wes, the magnetic first love.

There are a lot of typical romance tropes here, but I promise this book isn’t typical. It’s so much more and it’s a story that needed to be told.

I adored this book, these characters, and yes even the heart pumping, tear-jerking rollercoaster it took me on.

Keep in mind there are trigger warnings in this book for severe illness and loss of a parent. I’m not the best at spotting triggers, but I felt like I should mention the ones I did notice since this was an ARC.


Butterfly Rating: 5 Stars

5-stars


Re-read Worthiness: Yes


Bookshelf Placement: Yes


Book Boyfriend Rating: 5 stars

5-stars

 

 

 

ARC Review: Undercover Bromance (Bromance Book Club #2) by Lyssa Kay Adams *NEW FAVORITE*

5-stars
Overall Rating: 5 Stars
Title: Undercover Bromance
Author: Lyssa Kay Adams
Series: Bromance Book Club #2
Format: ARC provided by Netgalley in Exchange for an Honest Review

Synopsis:
Braden Mack thinks reading romance novels makes him an expert in love, but he’ll soon discover that real life is better than fiction.

Liv Papandreas has a dream job as a sous chef at Nashville’s hottest restaurant. Too bad the celebrity chef owner is less than charming behind kitchen doors. After she catches him harassing a young hostess, she confronts him and gets fired. Liv vows revenge, but she’ll need assistance to take on the powerful chef.

Unfortunately, that means turning to Braden Mack. When Liv’s blackballed from the restaurant scene, the charismatic nightclub entrepreneur offers to help expose her ex-boss, but she is suspicious of his motives. He’ll need to call in reinforcements: the Bromance Book Club.

Inspired by the romantic suspense novel they’re reading, the book club assists Liv in setting up a sting operation to take down the chef. But they’re just as eager to help Mack figure out the way to Liv’s heart… even though she’s determined to squelch the sparks between them before she gets burned.

GOODREADS

Review

I don’t often laugh out loud while reading books, certainly not nearly as much as I did while reading this book.

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