Monday, September 1, 2014

Review: Since You’ve Been Gone by Anouska Knight


18528411How do you learn to love again?

In one tragic moment, Holly Jefferson s life as she knows it changes for ever. Now to the external world, at least she s finally getting back on her feet, running her business, Cake. Then she meets Ciaran Argyll.

His rich and charmed life feels a million miles from her own. However, there s more to Ciaran than the superficial world that surrounds him, and he too is wrestling with his own ghosts. Will Holly find the missing ingredient that allows her to live again and embrace an unknown and unexpected tomorrow?

~ Goodreads

Source: Purchased

Review:To be perfectly honest, I bought this book because of the cover. Look at the pretty cakes! The protagonist, Holly owns a bakery, appropriately named CAKE, and I love food so I was in!

While there is cake, Since You’ve Been Gone isn’t really about any of that.

What could have been an over the top,cliché, story about a “dowdy” (Holly’s word) widow and an arrogant, millionaire, turned into a truly beautiful story about second chances and trusting enough to let go and love again.

Holly has been a widow for two years, going through the motions but only finding comfort in dreams with her deceased husband Charlie. She meets Ciaran ( & his crazy pants father) delivering a somewhat unorthodox cake to their mansion – a testicle cake with a stiletto heal piecing through. Yeah – you read that right and it’s hilarious.

Ciaran takes an interest in Holly but isn’t sure how to woo her since she’s not at all impressed by his flash and money. Like I said – this could have taken the cliché route at any time. Ciaran is big, gorgeous and bossy but  Knight really takes the time with this romance and focuses more on Holly’s journey to move forward without Charlie. The romance is sexy as hell but doesn’t overwhelm everything.

Never once was Holly and Charlie’s marriage dismissed or treated lightly. It was a HUGE part of Holly’s life and Ciaran fully respects that, even if he comes on too strong in other ways. He is used to women using him for his money and thinks that’s the way to Holly’s heart. Dumb boy but well intentioned. lol

There is also a cast of eclectic supporting characters including Holly’s overbearing, perfectionist sister and mom, her wonderfully gruff neighbor Mrs. Hedley, co-worker Jesse (who seriously needs his own book!), and Ciaran’s eccentric, inappropriate and flawed father, Fergal.

It often walked on the edge of going too far with the drama (as these books & rom coms tend to do at times) but the author reigned it in and the characters always felt sincere, heartfelt and grounded.

This was just a really sweet, wonderful book and I wish Anouska Knight had another book published so I could go on a reading binge.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pre-Squee: The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris

Pre-Squee_Mary-300x248

The Book Swarm and Bewitched Bookworms came up with this fabulous idea –> the Pre-Squee:

“Some books, though they might not be coming out for a few months, need an early squee — we just can’t hold in our excitement about them! Sure, we’ll do full reviews closer to the release date but this feature gives us a chance to share a little bit of our love, whether it be for the story, cover, characters, or whatever. We’re quite flexible in our book love.”

I loved the idea (& that adorable button) and asked if I could join in. They graciously said yes so here’s my first Pre-Squee!

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The Fine Art of Pretending
by Rachel Harris

Release Date: September 30, 2014

Spencer Hill Contemporary

Add to Goodreads

Source: ARC provided by the publisher at BEA

According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you're friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.

With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.

But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.


***

I just adore Rachel Harris’s writing. Her YA, adult, anything she writes, makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and The Fine Art of Pretending is no exception.

We have the friends to more trope and the quiet “commitment” type girl trying to get the boys to see her as a “casual” girl trope & honestly you know exactly how it’s going to turn out by the end of the first chapter but I didn’t really care because I love Harris’s characters and relationships.

It’s nice to read about normal people, making normal mistakes and both Aly and Brandon make quite a few.

Aly’s motivations for her makeover in particular are all kinds of wrong but it was nice to see her struggle into that realization and to shape it into something more healthy. The side characters are full of clichéd types but then Harris gives them a bit more depth so they can’t be pigeon holed.

The Fine Art of Pretending was a fun, sweet book candy!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Blogger ponderings…

Hey there! Still on my partial blogging break (reading tons of books!) but I did sit down today to write two reviews and came across something that left me perplexed with myself. lol

I wrote a very negative review for a book because it was filled with cliches and tropes. Yet I wrote a glowing review for the other book that was - you guessed it - filled with cliches and tropes that I thought were adorable.

The first book (negative review) was New Adult (Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh) & the other was YA (The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris) but it still left me wondering how I could slam one book for cliches/tropes but completely ignore them in the other.

This happens quite frequently with me too. Does this happen to any other readers?

Have you criticized several books for the same reason (cliches, TSTL characters, love triangles etc) and then all of a sudden that doesn't matter at all in one book you read. You are able to ignore all the flaws and enjoy it anyway.

What do you think makes the difference?? The characters? The writing style?

In this particular case, I think the difference is in one taking the trope/cliche plot too seriously and the other having more humor and lightness to it. I tend to let a lot go if an author can make me laugh or smile while reading. But I'm not sure that explains everything because I've certainly liked a lot of darker more serious cliche books as well.

Just throwing it out there. Let me know if you have ever felt the same or if I'm just crazy lol