Monday, January 4, 2021

Books I read in November & December

The Christmas Thief by Kate J Blake
Kate J Blake books move fast to say the least. The entirety of this one takes place over about three days. It is a quick, enjoyable romance about a woman named Crystal who lies on her application to get a better job within her company. Her boss, Jack, quickly figures out the lie and tries to call her on it by giving her a chance at the job. The first test he throws her way is making her work with him over Christmas. She ends up agreeing and then proving that she can do the job.

There were a few things about this book that didn't sit well with me. (SPOILER ALERT) 
One was that they both had teenage children, but acted like they didn't. They constantly talked about how much they loved their kids, but they just left town on Christmas Eve. It was explained that the kids didn't seem to mind, but it was so confusing to me. They also never meet each other's kids. They're engaged by the end of the week, but they don't even think of trying to blend the families beforehand. 

There is also no need to travel for work on Chritsmas. Even if Jack made her work on Christmas day they wouldn't be going to meetings. It didn't make sense that they had to do that.  

The speed of this novel is also ridiculous. It makes no sense that so much can happen in a few days. Sure they could have hooked up and gotten in a fight, but the engagement at the end really threw it over the edge for me. 

Finally, on her resume Crystal didn't put her full name because she didn't think she'd be considered if Jack knew she was a woman straightaway, which she tells him. Then, later in the book he says that he avoided working with women because he didn't want to get his heart broken. Which means Crystal isn't special in the slightest. Jack potentially could have fallen in love with any woman he hired. As a boss, that's not a good look.
Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins
Edie is starting over, although it's not completely by choice. Her aunt and uncle decided that a family feud wasn't a good enough excuse to keep their niece in the foster care system, especially when taking her out made the neighbors see how generous they could be. But there are a few perks to moving in with her cousins in a huge house in Mansfield. The neighbor is just as cute as she remembered, and while she harbors a huge crush for him, his girlfriend's brother is willing to drop the asshole act for her. 

I found myself really liking Henry's character. His decision to fake date Edie to keep his sister at bay, even though he made it clear he'd be more than happy to do more than fake makeout, was kind, which totally went against his normal womanizing attitude. And it worked out for him, so that was great. When he and Edie do break up, I found myself conflicted. I wanted her to end up with Sebastian because they both clearly liked each other in a way that could last longer than the summer, but I didn't want Henry to get hurt. Thankfully, he took it like a champ and refused to be someone a girl settles for because her first choice was unavailable. He made it clear that he was sad, but he didn't become vindictive or angry. 

Edie herself was also a fascinating character. She spent the novel keeping her cousins from bickering, crushing on her neighbor, caring for her boyfriend, saving for college, and trying to rebuild a friendship she left behind. It was a lot, but she was able to take everything and learn a lot about herself. I loved how she was able to look at her friendship with Sebastian and understand why Clare was jealous. Clare was mean, but Edie understood her position, which led to her forcing herself to temporarily distance herself from Sebastian even though she didn't want to. The tricky part was that Edie and Sebastian were constantly drawn to each other, so even when she tried to stay away, she couldn't. She knew to do this because it's what she should have done when her best friend's boyfriend kissed her. No, she wasn't responsible for the kiss, but she didn't push him away, and she ignored a few signs that might have kept her from the situation in the first place. When Edie stops using excuses as crutches (no matter how valid they may be), she becomes a force to be reckoned with.

The Twin by Natasha Preston
This was not my first Natasha Preston novel, so I started it knowing that there was a high probability that the ending would be...frustrating. What I wasn’t prepared for was the entire book making me want to rip my hair out. Don’t get me wrong, the book is great, and I think I reacted just how Preston wanted me to. 

One person. That’s all I wanted—one person to trust Ivy. I had high hopes for the boyfriend, but he let me down. Then I thought of the therapist, but nope—another disappointment. My Hail Mary was a recording device at the very end, a hopeful cliffhanger. Nothing. Everyone was the worst. The swim coach really ticked me off because she knew Ivy didn’t want her sister on the team, and she let her on anyway. It’s not like she was good. 

It also baffled me that Ivy was like, “I don’t want to be around my sister in school,” and everyone was like, “That’s not an option.” What?! No matter what you think of Ivy, she clearly started having issues once her sister arrived, so give her some space and see what happens. It seemed like a simple solution to me. 

Poor Ivy loses her mother, and then her twin sister turns her entire life upside down, and nobody is there for her. Everyone writes it off as grief, and even when Ivy tries to tell people what’s wrong, they refuse to believe her but have no issue listening to the twin sister that just appeared out of nowhere. Like I said, rip your hair out frustrating. 

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens 
Timing is key. That’s the theme of this novel. Minnie and Quinn’s lives are constantly intersecting on New Year’s Eve, and they have no idea. Starting the day they were born: Quinn becomes the baby new year, and Minnie is just a minute too late.  

When they finally meet on their thirteenth birthday, it begins a year of random encounters and growing affections. But it also brings a year of change for both characters as they finally sit down with themselves and decide what kind of life they each want to lead and who they want in it. 

I liked this book a lot. It was an easy read that made me laugh and wonder if there was anyone I had unknowingly crossed paths with more than once. The entire time I read Taylor Swift’s song, “invisible string” seemed to play in the background. 

Atomic Love by Jennie Fields
I loved this one! Rosalind is awesome. I want to be her. I'm terrible at science, but she makes it sound awesome. Except for the fact that she lost her job after the war because the men came back and she had to start working in a jewelry store. But that's what happened after WWII and it's annoying.

I loved her relationship with Szydlo. Especially at the beginning when it was clear they got along well and liked being in each other's company, but it wasn't totally clear whether or not anything would happen between them. And then when things do progress, but she's still kind of dating Weaver to get information out of him, which was Szydlo's idea and quickly became a regret. 

I didn't want Weaver to stick around, but I wasn't expecting the way he left either, or the last few chapters of the novel. They truly showed how dangerous Rosalind's task was of finding out about what Weaver told the Russians.

The characters and story of this novel were so well written. I would definitely recommend adding this one to your TBR pile.

Well Played by Jen DeLuca
The sequel to Well Met this novel follows fellow tavern wrench Stacey as she begins an online relationship with someone the faire hires every year. The only catch is she thinks she's talking to the lead singer, Dex, whom she's slept with for the past two summers, when in reality she's talking to his cousin and band manager, Daniel.

Their emails and texts let them get to know each other in a very intimate way, which is why Stacey is so shocked when she finds out that the person she's talking to isn't the person she's imagining. However, she shakes it off quickly and realizes that Dex would never be able to write as well as Daniel. 

I found Stacey extremely relatable. She's happy but also just kinda going through he motions of life. My favorite scene is at the end when she's in the bar and Mitch is calling her out on how easy it would be for her to live on the road. She wants to and is willing to change, but there always seems to be something holding her back. Mainly, her fear about her mother's health, which made her pass up on her dreams years before.

I loved Daniel too. I felt bad that he always feels like he come sin second to his performer cousins. I thought it was sweet when Stacey realized she would have to be the one to make a grand gesture because Daniel thinks his chances with her are over.

I love this world that Jen DeLuca has created and I can't wait for the third novel this fall!

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