Book Reviews

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

Last Gate of the Emperor

Last Gate of the Emperor

By:

Kwame Mbalia

Prince Joel Makonnen

Blurb:

An Afrofuturist adventure about a mythical Ethiopian empire. Sci-fi and fantasy combine in this journey to the stars.

Yared Heywat lives an isolated life in Addis Prime — a hardscrabble city with rundown tech, lots of rules, and not much to do. His worrywart Uncle Moti and bionic lioness Besa are his only family… and his only friends.

Often in trouble for his thrill-seeking antics and smart mouth, those same qualities make Yared a star player of the underground augmented reality game, The Hunt for Kaleb’s Obelisk. But when a change in the game rules prompts Yared to log in with his real name, it triggers an attack that rocks the city. In the chaos, Uncle Moti disappears.

Suddenly, all the stories Yared’s uncle told him as a young boy are coming to life, of kingdoms in the sky and city-razing monsters. And somehow Yared is at the center of them.

Together with Besa and the Ibis — a game rival turned reluctant ally — Yared must search for his uncle… and answers to his place in a forgotten, galaxy-spanning war.

Review:

I feel like I missed something while reading Last Gate of the Emperor. Why did things hinge on Yared? Why weren’t they able to defeat the bad guys ten years prior? Clearly, I missed something, and I didn’t skim, so I’m not sure how.

For once, I liked the male hero of a middle school book. Normally they’re brash and stupid and so full of their own abilities. Yared had those moments, but when push came to shove, he chose correctly. He wasn’t stupid, which I liked.

The world created was interesting, and I loved the sci-fi aspect, though I thought the last line in the book was eye-roll-worthy. I liked the characters, but ultimately this was a book not written for my age group, so I’m not going to rate it. I read it because Kwame Mbalia was associated with it, and I’ve liked the Tristan Strong books. It would probably be a good introduction to sci-fi for young readers, and hopefully, they wouldn’t miss what I clearly did.

Tristan Strong Destroys the World (Tristan Strong #2)

Tristan Strong Destroys the World (Tristan Strong #2)

By:

Kwame Mbalia

Blurb:

Tristan Strong, just back from a victorious but exhausting adventure in Alke, the land of African American folk heroes and African gods, is suffering from PTSD. But there’s no rest for the weary when his grandmother is abducted by a mysterious villain out for revenge. Tristan must return to Alke–and reunite with his loud-mouthed sidekick, Gum Baby–in order to rescue Nana and stop the culprit from creating further devastation. Anansi, now a “web developer” in Tristan’s phone, is close at hand to offer advice, and several new folk heroes will aid Tristan in his quest, but he will only succeed if he can figure out a way to sew broken souls back together.

Review:

I’m happy I listened to my librarian when she recommended the Tristan Strong series. It’s been a great source of entertainment and a nice light story to escape into. Plus, I’ve always loved mythology, and this is something I’m not super familiar with.

Tristan Strong Destroys the World picks up about a month after the last book. Tristan is doing a little better with his grief but has started having nightly nightmares. He ends up being drawn back to Alke when his grandmother is kidnapped. You end up learning more about her and the start of an explanation of why Tristan has his abilities.

The story ends not quite on a cliffhanger, but it does set up the following book’s story. This is supposed to be a trilogy, so we should reach a conclusion at that time. I kind of hope it isn’t, though. I’d love to read more in this world with these characters.

4/5