I mostly loved the Pushing the Limits series so I wanted to check out this first book in McGarry's new Thunder Road series. What I liked were the mainI mostly loved the Pushing the Limits series so I wanted to check out this first book in McGarry's new Thunder Road series. What I liked were the main characters, Emily and Oz. Unfortunately the adults in the book were really immature and secretive. Of course without all the secrets there might not be a book but it really drove me crazy when they wouldn't be open with Emily about why she was in danger or her past history with her dad and his family. Something else that also bothered me was the treatment of women by the club. Although they were more respectful (according to Oz) compared to the other motorcycle club mentioned in the book, I thought it was still kind of a misogynistic society where women were viewed as belonging to the members. Their nickname of "old ladies" and the wall of bras really got my hackles up. I think I would have liked it more if women were allowed to be members of the club and treated more equally.
As I mentioned above, I liked Emily. She is smart and driven and she has plans for her life. It really turns her world upside down to find out that her mom hasn't been entirely truthful about the past. Spending time with her dad's family is eye opening and she does have the chance to explore new experiences and learn new things about herself. First she has to overcome her anger and her doubts and prejudices. I also liked Oz. His dream has always been to be a member of Reign of Terror and to work for their security company like his father. Unfortunately he messes up when he is supposed to be protecting Emily so he has to work hard to regain her dad's trust. He initially doesn't like Emily and blames her for causing her grandmother Olivia to suffer more. Olivia has cancer and has longed for a renewed relationship with her granddaughter. She has also been like a second mom to Oz. As Oz and Emily spend more time together they begin to fall in love and Oz also starts to rethink some things about the club and his future.
Overall I liked this book but didn't love it. The main characters kept me invested in the story line and while I guessed part of the big secret early on, I still wanted to know how things turned out. It was a quick read and a page turner especially towards the end. What disappointed me was the behavior of the adults--both Emily's mom and stepfather and her dad and the other adults in the club. They were pretty controlling of Emily and lying to her which wasn't cool with me. A lot of heartache could have been saved by their being more open and honest. I also found the club's treatment of women to be a little controlling and borderline offensive. I've read paranormal romance novels with werewolf packs that behaved in a similar manner and if readers like that sort of strong Alpha male thing, this might appeal to them more than it did with me.
While I liked Emily and Oz, I am not yet fully committed to reading the rest of the series though there are some characters I want to know more about like Violet and Chevy. Just because this book didn't quite work for me does not mean that it won't be a good fit for other readers. Perhaps I am more sensitive about certain things. I think teens who have enjoyed McGarry's other books and authors like Simone Elkeles and Jennifer Echols will like this even with its flaws. The forbidden romance between Oz and Emily is definitely an appeal factor. Also fans of Sons of Anarchy might have a better appreciation of Nowhere But Here than I did....more
Amber Sterlington is considered the most beautiful girl of the London Season. Any time she enters a room, the men all take notice (as do the jealous yAmber Sterlington is considered the most beautiful girl of the London Season. Any time she enters a room, the men all take notice (as do the jealous young women). She isn't a very kind or sincere person. She continually outshines her younger sister Darra whom she forces to go with her to balls even if Darra isn't feeling well just so she has someone to talk to since she lacks female friendship. This is the person that Thomas Richards first encounters. He finds himself strongly attracted to her but when he witnesses her character, he determines to try to forget her.
Amber is on a path to a successful marriage that would please her status conscious family when she begins to lose her looks. After the truth comes out in a very embarrassing way, she is banished to the countryside with only a maid for company. It is here that Amber realizes the truth about herself and how she has behaved.
I initially found Amber hard to like. Even after her health condition became apparent she still is very class conscious and snobby. Her poor maid Suzanne had to put up with a lot but Suzanne is a kind and caring person and chooses to stick with Amber anyway. Thankfully the time in Yorkshire and her reduced circumstances cause Amber to change her ways. She starts to see Suzanne as a real person and to become a more genuine and kind person herself. When Amber no longer has her looks to hide behind she spends her time developing her character instead.
Thomas Richards is a really kind man. While he is initially drawn to Amber because of her looks, he is also looking for a wife with a good character. When he accidentally finds her living in a cottage near his lands, he decides to befriend her as he sees that she has changed. She is living under an assumed name as a widow, a conceit that allows her to protect her privacy and her family's reputation. She doesn't know that Thomas knows who she really is. It is nice to see them develop a friendship and genuine feelings for each other. She has to let go of her own fears and understand that Thomas could love her as she is even though she no longer finds herself attractive.
I really enjoyed this novel and the way it explored the idea of beauty and acceptance and character versus social standing. Amber grows a lot as a character over the course of the book. She has a lot of lessons to learn about herself and what she has always been taught to believe is important. I also liked all the historical details of the Regency setting. Usually Regency romances focus on the pretty dresses and the balls but because Amber is living in exile in genteel poverty, we get to see the nitty gritty details of daily living, similar to what is described in Longbourn by Jo Baker. The eventual romantic relationship is "clean" and sweet and well developed. While it is not Christian fiction, there are some mentions of God and faith and prayer. I think readers who like Christian historical fiction would enjoy this too as well as those who like Regency romance without any racy scenes.
So many times a romance novel features a stunningly beautiful and physically and internally flawless heroine that it made me take note that Amber is imperfect. She struggled with self esteem issues relating to her looks the same way many women do. I was glad that Josi Kilpack chose to write about a female character who initially had seemingly physical perfection and lots of inner flaws and then develop her into someone with outward "imperfections" and a beautiful heart.
Note: There are some minor spoilers below regarding Amber's condition. Amazon mentions it in their description of the book but Goodreads and Barnes and Noble do not so I chose not to include it in the main part of my review. If you don't mind knowing, read ahead. It isn't kept a secret for long in the book and is part of the reason I really wanted to read it and I hope you will too.
(view spoiler)[I wanted to read this book because I've enjoyed the other titles in the "Proper Romance" line and I found out it dealt with alopecia areata, a kind of hair loss that I also have (but not the same extent that Amber has). I didn't realize there are three different kinds of alopecia areata. The kind I have occurs in circular patches of hair loss. Alopecia totalis is the loss of all hair on the head and alopecia universalis is the loss of all hair on the body.
Modern people have treatments like injections available to them and for me that has helped in the past with some regrowth. Unfortunately for Amber those treatments didn't exist in her day. While hair sometimes grows back, sometimes it doesn't. There is some description of the treatment used in Regency times and it is horrifying. While wigs are a possibility, they aren't perfect.
I liked the portrayal of hair loss and its effects on the protagonist's view of herself. Although Amber is rather conceited about her looks, hair is considered a woman's "crowning glory" and the author explores what it is like to lose that. People may be more understanding in today's society but not necessarily. Amber's parents ship her off to hide so they don't have to face embarrassment themselves and so it won't harm Darra's chances for marriage. Amber herself chooses to stay secluded from her neighbors in Yorkshire. It takes a long time for her to find acceptance within herself and to dare to stop hiding. (hide spoiler)] ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
If Ally Carter, Y.S. Lee and Gail Carriger wrote a book together it might be something like A School for Unusual Girls. When Georgie is sent to StranjIf Ally Carter, Y.S. Lee and Gail Carriger wrote a book together it might be something like A School for Unusual Girls. When Georgie is sent to Stranje House after a series of increasingly shocking social mistakes that culminated in burning down the family stables, she decides to escape what she thinks is an institution that tortures young ladies into submission to society's rules. Fortunately for her, the school is actually a secret training ground for young ladies with unusual talents that can be used to save the British Empire. Her new boarding mates Tess, Jane, Maya and Sera all have special gifts and so does Georgie herself. Her experiments to create an invisible ink are prized as a way to protect English spies and their messages from falling into the hands of Napoleon's supporters.
It takes Georgie quite awhile to realize what kind of school she is really at which was kind of frustrating considering that she is academically intelligent. Once she figures things out, she is on board to help the school by continuing her scientific experiments. Unfortunately she doesn't exactly get along with her new lab partner, Lord Sebastian Wyatt, whom she finds annoying and attractive in almost equal measure. There is also danger in the form of the snooping Lady Daneska, a former student of the school and possible spy for Napoleon herself.
A School for Unusual Girls is entertaining with a fun mix of humor, romance and mystery. It looks at the roles that girls were typically relegated to during that time and the students are able to use that to their advantage when spying for information. That aspect reminded me a lot of Y.S. Lee's Agency series which involves female detectives during Victorian times. The book also reminded me of the Gallagher Girls series which features teen girls who are trained as spies and how people underestimate them all the time. Georgie and her classmates are spunky and resourceful and though they may not be the ideal for Regency Society they have found a home at Stranje House and friendship with each other. This is the first in a series and while there is some resolution to the plot and Georgie's story there are some unsolved mysteries f.
I think this book would appeal to fans of YA historical fiction, mystery, and books like Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger (minus the Steampunk and paranormal elements), The Agency: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee or Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle (minus the magic)....more
Boomerang is marketed as a "New Adult" novel and I have tried other novels from the genre that I didn't like because they were so filled with drama. BBoomerang is marketed as a "New Adult" novel and I have tried other novels from the genre that I didn't like because they were so filled with drama. Boomerang is much lighter novel and I would say it is more similar to the romance novels of Jill Shalvis and Kristan Higgins but without the small town setting or strong secondary characters. The one thing that gives it that "New Adult" vibe is that Ethan and Mia are both in their early 20s and just starting out in their careers.
I enjoyed Boomerang because I liked the humor and I liked Ethan and Mia. They do have major chemistry. They also have issues to work through before then can move forward as a couple as well as dealing with the internship and the "no dating" policy. Ethan seems like a decent guy. He loves to teach kids how to play soccer and to encourage them. Mia comes from a weird but artistically talented family. She herself has a dream of making a documentary film about her grandmother, whom she is close to and who has dementia. These moments with family and with the soccer kids give the reader a chance to see that there is more to Ethan and Mia than the internship and their mutual attraction.
However I thought the internship scenes were kind of unbelievable. The CEO does not come across as a good businessman or anything other than the guy who sometimes puts obstacles in the path of the hero and heroine (no dating between coworkers, etc.) and he happens to look like Ryan Gosling. Then there is evil Candy who is portrayed as a cardboard villain until the end where she suddenly seems a little nicer. The secondary characters are not well developed at all but thankfully the novel makes up for it by making Ethan and Mia more likable.
I think that readers who like steamy contemporary romance and humor will find much to like in Boomerang so if the whole "New Adult" label makes you pause, ignore it and give Boomerang a try....more
Paige is tired of getting "that look" from people who know she lost her boyfriend Aaron. As the new school year starts, she decides to make a plan toPaige is tired of getting "that look" from people who know she lost her boyfriend Aaron. As the new school year starts, she decides to make a plan to show everyone that she is just fine. Her plan involves becoming more social by attending parties and social events, joining a new group, dating, traveling and swimming, which she has been scared to do since her boyfriend drowned. To help her accomplish her goals she has the support of her friends Tessa, Morgan, and Kayleigh who have been there for her and helped her through her grief. Her family is also supportive although her grandmother is suffering from Alzheimer's and her parents are divorced. In addition she has a new friendship with Max, the cousin of Ryan Chase her longtime crush.
I loved how friendships are so important to the story. Paige has some truly wonderful friends though things are tested particularly when one of her friends is dating a jerk and they can't get her to see that. I think that is something that teens could relate to. I know I could when I was a teen!
Paige is a fully developed character with personality and interests. I loved the relationship she had with her grandmother who encouraged Paige to become a screenwriter in the first place. I also liked her parents though Paige has some issues with them since they are dating again and happen to be dating each other. Her relationship with Max starts out as a friendship and slowly grows to something more even though she is convinced it is Ryan she wants. Max is a really nice guy and so is Ryan. I think most of the teens in the book are actually portrayed in a positive way (except for her friend's nasty boyfriend). The novel also handles grief in a sensitive and realistic way. Paige definitely goes through some tough times both with mourning Aaron and with her grandmother's Alzheimer's but through it all she has the love of her family and friends.
I was a huge fan of Emery Lord's debut novel, Open Road Summer and this book definitely lived up to my expectations. I especially loved the inclusion of Quiz Bowl. I was a member of my school's academic team (our version of Quiz Bowl) so I really enjoyed those scenes and I was glad Paige decided to try it. Overall I thought this was a fantastic book and perfect for summer reading. The characters are likable and easy to relate to and while there is some sadness the book maintains an overall light and positive tone. I think readers who enjoy authors like Jessi Kirby and Morgan Matson should add Emery Lord to their reading list. She is definitely becoming one of my favorite authors....more
Last summer was amazing for Mackenzie with her job at Serenity Ranch and Spa, spending time with her best friend Bailey, and falling in love with LandLast summer was amazing for Mackenzie with her job at Serenity Ranch and Spa, spending time with her best friend Bailey, and falling in love with Landon. Sadly he dropped her like a rock at the start of the school year to go back to his ex-girlfriend. This year, Mack and Bailey are back at Serenity and unfortunately so is Landon. The first time they see each other he seems to be mocking her and then expects her to be his friend again. Of course Mack rebuffs him and wonders what she ever saw in him. When Landon takes a nasty spill from his horse during a rodeo practice he has amnesia and thinks it is the previous summer and he and Mack are still a couple. Bailey convinces Mack that this is the opportunity to get him back for dumping her so rudely. They hatch a plan to get him to fall in love with her so this time she can dump him. What Mack doesn't count on is her own feelings getting in the way.
I initially had a problem with Landon because he did come across as a jerk. I half hoped the author would introduce another love interest for Mack. Fortunately things changed after Landon's accident and he once again seemed to be a nice guy but it left me puzzled as to which guy is real. It is only towards the end that the truth emerges about Landon's behavior and why he dumped Mack.
What I liked about this book was the humor and Mack's friendship with Bailey. Mack and Bailey both enjoy playing pranks on Landon and Bailey pushes Mack outside her comfort zone. She definitely makes the book more entertaining. I also liked that this time around Mack is being herself since she isn't actually trying to impress Landon. She admits that last summer she was too busy trying to be the girl Landon thought she was. The real Mack likes to argue and debate, she likes to play pranks, dressing outlandishly and she loves horror movies. As she starts being herself around Landon, he gets to fall in love with her true self, a message which I appreciated.
Overall I thought this was a fun romantic comedy even with its flaws. The plot device of convenient amnesia is not very believable but if the reader is able to overlook that, they may find themselves enjoying the humor or friendships. I think Fool Me Twice would appeal to younger teens who are looking for romantic fiction but older teens may find it a little bland. ...more
Love, Lucy is a contemporary retelling of A Room With a View by E.M. Forster. The original Edwardian novel is the story of Lucy Honeychurch, a young w Love, Lucy is a contemporary retelling of A Room With a View by E.M. Forster. The original Edwardian novel is the story of Lucy Honeychurch, a young woman traveling in Italy with her older chaperone, Charlotte Bartlett and what happens when she meets the unsuitable George Emerson. In this modern version, Lucy is traveling with Charlene, the daughter of a family friend during the summer before college. Lucy makes a deal with her parents that in exchange for bankrolling her trip to Europe she will give up acting and major in business. Now her trip is winding down as she and Charlene arrive in Florence. When Charlene is upset that they didn't get a room with a view like they were promised, they end up switching rooms with a young Italian man named Nello and his best friend, Jesse.
Lucy and Jesse initially don't get along but as she explores Florence she keeps crossing paths with him and they begin a friendship that turns into something more. I liked how Jesse supported Lucy's dreams but he didn't have much ambition himself, deciding to just play his way around Europe instead of making any long range plans. Charlene doesn't approve of Jesse and she and Lucy continually bicker although they've gotten along well until now. Lucy sometimes acts immaturely and while I didn't warm up to Charlene (she reminded me of Paris Geller from Gilmore Girls) I did feel sorry for her as she became a third wheel.
The second half of the book shows what happens when Lucy returns to the U.S. and goes to college. She continues to miss Jesse until their long distance relationship hits a snag. She has to decide if their relationship was just a "vacation flirtation" like Charlene said it was and if it is time to move on with someone else. Lucy is also tempted to get into acting again when she sees that the drama department is holding auditions for Rent, her favorite musical. If she got the part and her dad found out, he'd stop paying for her tuition.
While I didn't always like Lucy's behavior I felt bad for her because of her relationship with her dad. He doesn't support her dreams at all and he is trying to push her into his idea of what is best for her. He wouldn't even let her act for fun while majoring in business and he says some pretty crushing things about her abilities.
Overall I liked this book though it didn't live up to Jane, Lindner's contemporary version of Jane Eyre. Unlike that book, Love, Lucy doesn't depend as much on the original classic it is based on but that may be a good thing as readers don't need to be familiar with A Room With a View to appreciate the book. The setting in Italy is fantastic and I wanted to see Lucy realize her dreams and work out both her relationship with her dad and her romantic relationship with Jesse. I think this book would appeal to readers who liked 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Wish You Were Italian and other contemporary teen romances involving travel....more
I would love to take a trip to Italy so the setting of this book really appealed to me. While I thought Pippa's decision was irresponsible in a way, II would love to take a trip to Italy so the setting of this book really appealed to me. While I thought Pippa's decision was irresponsible in a way, I could agree with her desire to actually experience Italy for herself and not just spend her time in a classroom.
Pippa has a complicated relationship with her parents, particularly her pushy mother. Her parents are opening an art gallery and they expect Pippa to become part of the family business even though her own interests are in photography rather than painting. Pippa doesn't want to go to Florence and study art all summer but her best friend Morgan tries to help her see the positive side with a fun travel journal full of tasks for Pippa to do once she gets to Italy. Things like having a conversation entirely in Italian or falling in love with an Italian boy. Pippa may have a difficult mother and a father who won't take her side but her grandmother and her best friend are both encouraging and positive people in her life.
Once Pippa lands in Rome she makes the decision to stay a few days and actually see the sights instead of traveling on to Florence immediately and she quickly makes new friends in the form of Darren and Nina. She also befriends Chiara a young Italian teen and through her meets Bruno, the requisite hot Italian bad boy. Pippa is not just trying to meet guys however and she has some fun exploring places like Cinque Terre and Pompeii.
I enjoyed "traveling" with Pippa and while I don't care for love triangles that didn't bother me in this book because it was obvious who Pippa was going to end up with. I think Pippa grew up a little through her adventures and she even found a way to reconnect with her mom which was nice. Wish You Were Italian would make a great beach read. Though there are some sad moments it is mostly lighthearted and fun. The book is part of Bloomsbury's new If Only line of "clean" romances for teens. I would suggest this novel to teens who enjoy contemporary romance and fiction set abroad like The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper or 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson....more
What I liked about this book was the way it tied together the Lady Julia Grey mystery series with the author's new 1920s historical fiction. Night ofWhat I liked about this book was the way it tied together the Lady Julia Grey mystery series with the author's new 1920s historical fiction. Night of a Thousand Stars is a companion novel to City of Jasmine and it features a cameo appearance by Gabriel Starke, the hero of that book. It also has a character from the Lady Julia series and mentions a few more. The relationship between Poppy and Sebastian reminded me of Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane perhaps with good reason.
Poppy has always stood out in her family because she can't quite conform with what is expected of her. Her mother is very demanding but her American stepfather is kind and doting. Poppy has a history of not finishing what she starts so when she runs out on her wedding with the help of Sebastian and she later finds out he might be in danger, she decides it is up to her to save the day. Of course Poppy is a novice at adventure so with the help of a friend she secures a job as secretary/typist to an elderly gentleman who is traveling to Damascus where she believes Sebastian may be. There she finds out that no one is who they seem to be and she has to figure out who she can trust.
I enjoyed reading this book even though Poppy sometimes annoyed me. To be fair, she is intelligent though she does have some wrong ideas. She is plucky and headstrong and because she reminded me of Lady Julia, I forgave her occasionally stupid decisions or ideas. I guess if she didn't make some bad decisions then we wouldn't see her grow as a character and it would lessen the excitement and suspense of the story. I do think that City of Jasmine is better in terms of the mystery plot. With this book, I didn't feel as invested in the mystery though I was curious to see how they would escape to safety. The mystery kind of falls apart or seems unimportant in the end. The romance and characters seem more important here but I did like how Poppy's character develops and even Sebastian grows over the course of the book. Like Gabriel Starke, he is not a perfect hero and he needs Poppy's help as much as she needs his.
While this book can be read on its own, I suggest that readers at least check out City of Jasmine first. If you haven't read the Lady Julia mysteries, that won't ruin your enjoyment of this book though you may miss out on the various cameos and connections. I have a feeling that readers who like Night of a Thousand Stars will want to read Silent in the Grave if they haven't already. Overall I found this to be an entertaining story that should appeal to fans of romantic adventure. ...more
Unmasking Juliet is a humorous and slightly steamy contemporary romance based loosely on William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Unlike the play, therUnmasking Juliet is a humorous and slightly steamy contemporary romance based loosely on William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Unlike the play, there is no tragedy so readers who like their happy endings will be pleased.
Juliet and Leo have sizzling chemistry and I enjoyed their career rivalry as well. It made for entertaining reading. In a departure from the source material, Juliet is not immediately won over by Leo. She may be very attracted to him but she still views him as the enemy while he is more open-minded and ignores the family feud.
In addition to the romance, I also enjoyed the humor and the descriptions of yummy chocolate desserts and the scenery. What I found a little disappointing were the over-the-top drama of Leo's uncle and Juliet's mother. They were both one-dimensional characters and I wouldn't have minded some more development or character growth for them. Otherwise I thought this was a satisfying romance. Leo and Juliet are appealing characters and they grow and overcome the obstacles in their path to happiness. ...more