Book Reviews

Shipped

Shipped 

By: 

Anige Hockman 

Blurb: 

Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it. 
 
The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend. 
 
Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands…together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard. 
 
With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live? 

Review: 

After two DNF books, I was relieved to have one that I could finish. If you’re wondering why I haven’t posted a review in a while, that’s why. The book gods were not smiling down on me. Thankfully, Shipped was a nice, entertaining read. I would call it a good beach read, which I sadly did not read on a beach.  

Henley is a workaholic with understandable issues with male coworkers. Her boss is a clear misogynist, and a previous sexual partner stole her ideas and hard work. When the new guy seems to be doing the same thing, she doesn’t stop to wonder if there’s a misunderstanding. Considering the microaggressions and the ending of the book, no one can fault her for doing that.  

Despite having a weird spelling to his name, Graeme is a down-to-earth legitimate nice guy. Who is, naturally, hot. He’s not after Henley’s job, though, he clearly has every desire to get into her pants. He’s not pushy about it, though. He leaves the possibility of their relationship up to her. Consent was definitely present in Shipped.  

Something I enjoyed in Shipped was seeing all the work Henley had to do to get ahead. Not even ahead, but stay afloat. She was constantly working, which at times was boring, but it felt realistic. Part of the story was her learning how to create a work-life balance. Her family and friend relationships have suffered because she has focused so hard on her career. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing a career, but making it your sole focus to the detriment of everything else in your life is not healthy. Henley learns that lesson, and based on the ending, you know it’s going to stick.  

My favorite part of Shipped was the ending. Everyone got what they were owed, including the misogynistic boss. It was beautiful. This was Angie Hockman’s debut novel, so I’m interested to see what she comes up with next.  

3.75/5 

Second First Impressions

Second First Impressions

By:

Sally Thorne

Blurb:

Ruthie Midona has worked the front desk at the Providence Luxury Retirement Villa for six years, dedicating her entire adult life to caring for the Villa’s residents, maintaining the property (with an assist from DIY YouTube tutorials), and guarding the endangered tortoises that live in the Villa’s gardens. Somewhere along the way, she’s forgotten that she’s young and beautiful, and that there’s a world outside of work—until she meets the son of the property developer who just acquired the retirement center.

Teddy Prescott has spent the last few years partying, sleeping in late, tattooing himself when bored, and generally not taking life too seriously—something his father, who dreams of grooming Teddy into his successor, can’t understand. When Teddy needs a place to crash, his father seizes the chance to get him to grow up. He’ll let Teddy stay in one of the on-site cottages at the retirement home, but only if he works to earn his keep. Teddy agrees—he can change a few lightbulbs and clip some hedges, no sweat. But Ruthie has plans for Teddy too.

Her two wealthiest and most eccentric residents have just placed an ad (yet another!) seeking a new personal assistant to torment. The women are ninety-year-old, four-foot-tall menaces, and not one of their assistants has lasted a full week. Offering up Teddy seems like a surefire way to get rid of the tall, handsome, unnerving man who won’t stop getting under her skin.

Ruthie doesn’t count on the fact that in Teddy Prescott, the Biddies may have finally met their match. He’ll pick up Chanel gowns from the dry cleaner and cut Big Macs into bite-sized bits. He’ll do repairs around the property, make the residents laugh, and charm the entire villa. He might even remind Ruthie what it’s like to be young and fun again. But when she finds out Teddy’s father’s only fixing up the retirement home to sell it, putting everything she cares about in jeopardy, she’s left wondering if Teddy’s magic was all just a façade.

Review:

I thought the premise of Second First Impressions was cool. A twenty-five-year-old woman who dresses like she’s closing in on one hundred meets a biker tattoo artist, and a romance goes from there. It is a nice concept, but I’m not sure how much I ended up liking the book.

Ruthie has anxiety because apparently, either the hero or heroine or both has to. She grew up in not the most loving household where her father was a reverend and was very hard on her. I’m not a fan of religion in books, and for a minute, I thought things were going to veer too far into a Christian book territory, but thankfully it never did. Sex scenes were pretty tame, and there were occasional mentions of her old church, but a discussion never came up.

Teddy was described as a womanizer, but I never got that vibe from him. His past conquests were mentioned, and one even showed up at some point, but he came off as more of a flirt and fun person. That may be because the story was from Ruthie’s perspective, and she didn’t think of him that way. He had his own family issues, but they ended up being resolved.

An issue I had with the ending is that Ruthie never got her big resolution with her family. There was one line in the epilogue that mentioned them and that they no longer believed she’d let $10k get stolen when she was a child, but that was it. I was crying when Teddy got his big talk with his sister, but there was nothing from Ruthie. It was very disappointing.

Second First Impressions ended up being a bit lacking for me. The support characters ended up being much more interesting than the heroine. After having to DNF Love at First and then not enjoying Second First Impressions, I’m bummed. Hopefully, my next read is good.

3/5

Much Ado About You

Much Ado About You

By:

Samantha Young

Blurb:

At thirty-three-years old Evangeline Starling’s life in Chicago is missing that special something. And when she’s passed over for promotion at work, Evie realizes she needs to make a change. Some time away to regain perspective might be just the thing. In a burst of impulsivity, she plans a holiday in a quaint English village. The holiday package comes with a temporary position at Much Ado About Books, the bookstore located beneath her rental apartment. There’s no better dream vacation for the bookish Evie, a life-long Shakespeare lover.

Not only is Evie swept up in running the delightful store as soon as she arrives, she’s drawn into the lives, loves and drama of the friendly villagers. Including Roane Robson, the charismatic and sexy farmer who tempts Evie every day with his friendly flirtations. Evie is determined to keep him at bay because a holiday romance can only end in heartbreak, right? But Evie can’t deny their connection and longs to trust in her handsome farmer that their whirlwind romance could turn in to the forever kind of love.

Review:

I am not a big Shakespeare fan. I’ve read a few of his plays and thought they were okay. I even wrote a research paper on Othello in college, but I can’t remember anything about the play now. Maybe if I went back and read them now, I’d enjoy them better? I should probably do that, actually. If Much Ado About You has Shakespeare Easter eggs, I have no idea, so keep that in mind with my review.

Evie has a lot of hits happen in quick succession and decides that it’s time to step back and revaluate her life. Does she want to be in a relationship? Does she like her career? What is she doing with her life? She decides that she’s always wanted to go to England and has never been. She happens to have some savings, so she decides why not. When she comes across an ad where you run a bookstore in a small English town, she jumps on it.

On her first day there, she saves a dog, meets a gorgeous farmer, gets drunk, and tells everyone that she doesn’t date men who are rich or younger than her. She made an impression. Evie ends up poking her nose into all the ongoing feuds and tries to fix everyone’s relationships. She gives good advice and comes across as empathetic and intelligent, but her rules for herself don’t make sense. Honestly, they’re stupid.

The twist is obvious, so the ending was a letdown. Evie finds out what everyone else already knows and reacts poorly. I was annoyed by how much she fixated on the age difference. It was not that big, and even after they’d made up, it was something she was still clearly hung up on.

 Much Ado About You is a sweet book, but ultimately it felt underwhelming.

3/5

The Intimacy Experiment (The Roommate #2)

The Intimacy Experiment (The Roommate #2)

By:

Rosie Danan

Blurb:

Naomi and Ethan will test the boundaries of love in this provocative romance from the author of the ground-breaking debut, The Roommate.

Naomi Grant has built her life around going against the grain. After the sex-positive start-up she cofounded becomes an international sensation, she wants to extend her educational platform to live lecturing. Unfortunately, despite her long list of qualifications, higher ed won’t hire her.

Ethan Cohen has recently received two honors: LA Mag named him one of the city’s hottest bachelors and he became rabbi of his own synagogue. Taking a gamble in an effort to attract more millennials to the faith, the executive board hired Ethan because of his nontraditional background. Unfortunately, his shul is low on both funds and congregants. The board gives him three months to turn things around or else they’ll close the doors of his synagogue for good.

Naomi and Ethan join forces to host a buzzy seminar series on Modern Intimacy, the perfect solution to their problems–until they discover a new one–their growing attraction to each other. They’ve built the syllabus for love’s latest experiment, but neither of them expected they’d be the ones putting it to the test.

Review:

I have a complicated relationship with religion. I thought it was limited to Christianity, but I’ve learned it’s most religions at this point. I find it difficult to look past certain things. I know hardly anything about the Jewish faith, so that helped. However, I was tense for a lot of this book. It wasn’t the book’s intent and was all because of my own personal feelings, but it made it difficult for me to enjoy The Intimacy Experiment as much as I enjoyed The Roommate.

Naomi is a boss bitch. She’s built walls to protect herself after being hurt badly in high school. She has friends and people she’s close to, but she keeps a distance from even them. She is all about work and her image. I wouldn’t say she has a chip on her shoulder, but she’s had to put up with a lot, so the conclusions she sometimes jumps to are understandable.

Ethan is a borderline absent-minded professor. He’s the rabbi of a synagogue that’s not doing so good, and he’s been tasked with building membership. His life is the synagogue, and everything else comes in second place.

Naomi and Ethan don’t make sense together, and that’s the point. She’s a former porn star, and he’s a rabbi. However, the chemistry is obvious from the beginning. They’re both career-minded individuals, but they decide to set that aside and try to have a relationship. Obviously, issues arise. The career ones don’t take up as much time as the emotional ones on Naomi’s side.

I liked them as a couple, and The Intimacy Experiment was as well-written and hot as the previous book. However, I didn’t enjoy it as much as the last book because of my own issues. I still plan on reading any future books in the series, though.

3/5

Twice Shy

Twice Shy

By:

Sarah Hogle

Blurb:

Maybell Parish has always been a dreamer and a hopeless romantic. But living in her own world has long been preferable to dealing with the disappointments of real life. So when Maybell inherits a charming house in the Smokies from her Great-Aunt Violet, she seizes the opportunity to make a fresh start.

Yet when she arrives, it seems her troubles have only just begun. Not only is the house falling apart around her, but she isn’t the only inheritor: she has to share everything with Wesley Koehler, the groundskeeper who’s as grouchy as he is gorgeous—and it turns out he has very different vision for the property’s future.

Convincing the taciturn Wesley to stop avoiding her and compromise is a task more formidable than the other dying wishes Great-Aunt Violet left behind. But when Maybell uncovers something unexpectedly sweet beneath Wesley’s scowls, and as the two slowly begin to let their guard down, they might learn that sometimes the smallest steps outside one’s comfort zone can lead to the greatest rewards.

Review:

First-person is not my favorite POV writing-wise. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It comes down to tense a lot of the time, though, sometimes a good writer can make me not care. Sadly, for me, Twice Shy never pulled me in enough to do that. It wasn’t a bad book by any means. It just wasn’t for me.

Maybell is very meek and a doormat. Often, this is paired with an alpha male, and she’s either completely taken care of or learns to stand up for herself. Maybell’s only character growth is that she finally tells an old coworker that what she did to Maybell was wrong. It was underwhelming, especially after what that coworker did to her.

Wesley has extreme social anxiety paired with being shy. He comes off as rude and gruff and grumpy, but he’s none of that. He just can’t get his words to work when he’s in a new social setting. It’s the worst social anxiety in a character I’ve read, and, especially at the end, it was painful to read. He could speak to people outside, but being inside was too much, and he’d feel trapped.

I liked that the hero had mental health issues because inclusivity is one of my favorite parts of newer books. However, the pairing of Wesley and Maybell didn’t work for me. They were both too passive. Maybell was the more forceful one, and she let everyone in her life walk all over her. Their character growth was too realistic in that there was next to none. I wanted something more dramatic.

Twice Shy wasn’t for me, and that’s okay.

3/5