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Well, I’ve had a night to think about it, and I’m pretty sure I finally know where I stand with this book.

I didn’t like it.

It’s difficult, because it actually gets much better around the halfway point, but there’s always something off-putting lingering in the background. Let me start with the basics.

Grace Chapman, wife of literary icon Ted Chapman, has spent most of her life placating the volatile emotions of those around her. As a child, she walked on eggshells, never knowing what side of her bipolar mother she was going to get. As an adult, she has learned to make herself scarce when her husband gets in one of his moods. Despite her absolute terror at her husband’s mood swings, Grace feels that her life is almost perfect. Things change, however, when Ted’s efficient assistant is forced to quit to deal with problems in her own family. Suddenly Grace must deal with Ted’s unrealistic demands, she must organize their household and take on tasks she hasn’t had to deal with in decades. Grace is drowning, so when a young woman appears out of nowhere offering to help, she hires her without much of a thought.

Beth is perfect. Too perfect, some might say. In a matter of days, she has whipped the household into shape. Ted’s the happiest he’s ever been, and somehow, Beth has also had time to clean and organize the entire house AND help with Grace’s charity work. But then strange things start happening. The rentals for a high-end charity event never arrive, leaving the guests disgruntled and Grace embarrassed. A favorite scarf of Grace’s disappears, only to be seen on Beth a few days later. She’s crazy, Ted says, to think anything might be off, especially when their lives are so great. She should be seen by a psychiatrist.

Grace has lived her whole life in fear of becoming her mother, so the suggestion to see a psychiatrist, to become one of those overly-medicated women she’s always vowed not to be, hits her the wrong way. But Dr. Ellery is so understanding. He makes her feel validated and comfortable. So when he suggests that she try this pill, and that pill, and another four pills to combat the side effects of the other two, she agrees. After all, doctors know best, right? Soon, Grace is a shell of her former self and has no idea how to get back to what she once was.

So, overall, the premise is pretty good. It’s actually a bit terrifying, thinking that something like this could happen. So my issue is (mainly) not with the plot, although it could have used an editor to clean it up a bit. My main problem is with the writing.

First, let me start off by saying that the whole writing style is odd. Because Grace is a well-known chef, the author has, for some reason, found it necessary to include a recipe at the end of every chapter. The writing is also very distant, detached, almost like you’re watching one of those Discovery Channel documentaries where the British guy is narrating while a lion devours an unsuspecting antelope. Grace hides in the bathroom as Ted rages downstairs. Here’s a recipe for buttery kedgeree. Grace’s mother often called her ugly and useless. Here’s a recipe for salmon. Beth is surely convincing Ted that Grace is crazy, but Grace isn’t crazy, right? Here’s a recipe for ginger ice cream.

Also, several threads of the plot are started, only to be discarded later. I wanted to know what was going on with Dr. Ellery, how he got away with medicating Grace into a stupor. I wanted to know why Beth targeted Grace’s family. I wanted some justice for Grace at the end, for something to happen to Ted, or to Beth, or both. But the whole book was just flat.

The plot is highly predictable. I could have told you something was off when Grace was looking to check references for Beth and Beth couldn’t provide a current phone number. References by email? Really? And if, for whatever reason, Grace was really that naive and trusting, she had to have known that the charity debacle was all Beth’s fault. But, instead of trying to figure out why all these terrible things have suddenly started to happen after letting Beth into her life, Grace is more focused on the weight she’s gained due to her new medications.

I knew going into this book that it didn’t have great reviews, but I also knew that Jane Green is well-known in the chick lit world, so I gave it a chance. All in all, I’m pretty disappointed. I wanted to like this book, but I just couldn’t.

Thanks to the publisher and Goodreads First Reads for the free copy. 

Final rating: ★★☆☆☆

  

Sometimes you find yourself reading one bad book after another, to the point where you just don’t want to make the effort to pick up another book and try again.  As a book blogger and reviewer, this is so disappointing.  I both want and need to keep new content coming!  So, when this happens to me, I turn to one of my favorite authors for help.  There’s nothing like a familiar character, or a familiar world, to remind me how much I love to read.

Next Month’s Most Anticipated

 

What a mix of books.

I’ve heard good things about Tonight the Streets Are Ours and Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between.  But you know how early hype can be, so I’ll wait before buying them.

I’m also really intrigued by The Girl in the Spider’s Web, because I am a huge fan of the Millennium series and I’m interested to see how Lagercrantz will do at continuing it.

What books are you looking forward to this September?

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For six years, Parker and Ben have been fighting the notion that it’s impossible for men and women to just be friends. The two have been best friends since they met at freshman orientation, and their friendship has only become stronger through the years. In fact, they even live together. With no issues. Parker is in a long-term relationship and Ben has made it his mission to sleep with every eligible bachelorette in the Portland area. Their setup works. Why question it?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – probably a thousand more times. Friends-to-lovers is my favorite romance trope. And in Blurred Lines, Lauren Layne has handled it very well. There’s no insta-lust. It’s not like Parker and Ben wake up one morning to find that they’re inexplicably attracted to each other. I was worried it would go the way of the regrettable drunken hookup, but that didn’t happen either.

And, even better, Parker and Ben didn’t forget about their friendship once the benefits arrived. No, they still hung out just like old times. Still had heart-to-hearts just like before. Ben still tagged along to come visit Parker’s parents on the weekends. It was great! I really appreciated that they didn’t turn into a couple of idiots once sex was involved.

However, there was one thing I couldn’t get on board with, and that’s Parker’s stupid decision at the end. I get that she was scared, I get that she was falling back into what was easy and comfortable, but I seriously wanted to shake some sense into her! For a book that had been otherwise low on the angst and idiocy scale, I was disappointed that Parker would make that kind of decision.

Anyway, overall, this book was really cute! I read it in one sitting on a Saturday night because I just couldn’t go to bed without knowing what happened next. This was my first book by Lauren Layne, but I will definitely keep an eye out for what she comes up with next.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy!

Final rating: ★★★★☆

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It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Renita Pizzitola’s books. I loved Just a Little Crush, the first book in the Crush series, which followed Brinley and Ryder. I equally loved Just a Little Flirt, the second book, which featured Brinley’s roommate, Fallon. And I have to admit, when Just a Little Kiss showed up on Netgalley, I may have squealed a bit (just a bit) with delight that it was all about Brinley’s best friend, Mason. I always liked Mason. And after reading this book, I like him so much more.

Mason’s always been a bit in love with Brinley. It’s no secret. But Brinley is with Ryder, and they’re happy. Mason doesn’t think he’ll ever get over her without some space, so he agrees to help out his uncle by doing manual labor – on a fishing boat, no less – all summer. Mason soon finds that the ocean doesn’t agree with him, but his cute new neighbor, Felicity, sure does. It doesn’t hurt that she gives him some of her family’s super-secret seasickness remedy, either. It’s not long before Mason is head-over-heels for Felicity, and while Felicity sure likes him, he’s not sure he’ll ever break through the walls she’s built around her heart.

Just a Little Kiss was a contender for my favorite book in the series until, near the end, Felicity and Mason had yet another unnecessary misunderstanding. You see, their relationship is really cute and really great until one of them does something that the other misconstrues, and then they have a huge fight and refuse to speak to each other. Which, honestly, is probably realistic. But it was so frustrating, because they’re clearly meant for each other, they’re just really stubborn and proud. The angst was a little over-the-top for me at the end, but I have a pretty low tolerance for it anyway. Someone who’s really into angsty romances would probably love it. The ending, though, was really cute, and probably the best ending so far in the series.

Just a Little Kiss is a very cute, very fluffy, very quick read that I would highly recommend – just as I would highly recommend all the books in this series. I’m not sure if there will be another book coming up, but if there is, I really hope it follows Felicity’s best friend, Isla. I loved her character and hope to see more of her!

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy!

Final rating: ★★★★☆

I usually try not to be judgey when it comes to a book, because I know that the author put a lot of time and effort into it.  But sometimes, there are things that just can’t be forgiven.  For me, those are:

  • Grammatical mistakes.  I’m more strict about this in a finished copy than I am in a review copy.  If you expect me to spend my hard-earned money on your book, I expect it to be thoroughly edited.
  • Excessive angst.  You know when the couple has every reason in the world to be happy, and then something minor from like eighteen years ago comes along and they break up for the eleventh time?  I can’t handle that.  Stop it.
  • Misogynistic attitudes.  It’s okay for a character to be misogynistic, but not the author.  There are a lot of facets to this one, but it usually comes down to slut-shaming the MC.
  • Entirely unrealistic situations.  I can suspend my disbelief to a certain degree, but sometimes it gets out of hand.
  • Plot holes, continuity errors, inconsistency.  It was snowing five minutes ago and now they’re tanning on the beach?  How and when exactly did the MC transform from a bumbling fool to the sexiest guy on the planet?  She’s taken his shirt off how many times?
  • Plagiarism.  This should go without saying.  I once read a book that was clearly just Mean Girls set in England, down to every last scene.  Stop it; you’re better than that.

These are the things I can’t put up with.  Do you have anything on your list, or do you just go with the flow?