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Tag: Contemporary (Page 1 of 46)

Book Review: Everything Within and In Between

 

Everything Within and In Between

– Nikki Barthelmess –

HarperTeen

Published 5 October 2021

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Everything Within and In Between is a novel about finding your identity and challenging racism. While the concept is great and there are some powerful moments, but I found the pacing to be slightly off and the character growth unsatisfying.

Ri Fernandez is white passing. It’s how her grandparents raised her, determined to fulfil their American Dream after emigrating from Mexico. But when she discovers that her grandmother has been lying about her mother and has been keeping them separated, Ri decides it’s time to take control of her story. She joins Spanish class, determined to learn her mother’s language and becomes aware of how she has separated herself from the Mexican community and other Latinx kids at school. Her change of heart causes conflict between Ri and her best friend Brittany, as well as rising tension between Ri and her grandmother. As Ri tests the boundaries of her world she tries to discover who she really is.

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Book Review: Harbor Pointe Books 3 and 4

 

Just One Kiss and Just Like Home

– Courtney Walsh-

Harbor Pointe #3 and #4

Sweethaven Press

Published 2019 and 2020

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Despite not enjoying the first book I ever read by this author, I am now massive Courtney Walsh fan. Trust me, I am so glad I gave her books another read and another chance because she has become one of my favourite authors and a go to for when I need a romantic and relaxing read. When the school holidays hit and I was looking for something to take my mind off my growing to-do list, I turned to Courtney Walsh. I was delighted to see that she had continued her Harbor Pointe series. I loved books one and two in the series, Just Look Up and Just Left Go, so I was excited to continue this series.

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Book Review: You Can Go Your Own Way

 

You Can Go Your Own Way

– Eric Smith –

Inkyard Press

Published 2 November 2021

♥♥♥/♥

 

You Can Go Your Own Way is a cute YA romance, sure to be enjoyed by readers who love a simple storyline and ex-best-friends to enemies to lovers storyline.

In my head I have named this book the Pinball Book. Sorry, but it’s kind of stuck. Adam helps his mother run the family pinball arcade. It was his father’s passion and since his father’s death, Adam has done everything he can to keep that dream alive. Even alienating his once best friend. But he can’t help it if Whitney – or at least her dad – is the enemy. Whitney’s father wants to buy the arcade and add it to his growing eSports cafe locations. Whitney and Adam each run the social media accounts for their family businesses and online it is war. When a snowstorm throws the two together again, they rekindle their friendship and possibly something more.

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Book Review: Autumn by the Sea

 

Autumn by the Sea

– Melissa Tagg –

Muir Harbor #1

Larkspur Press

Published 28 September 2021

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Autumn by the Sea is another delicious contemporary romance by one of all-time favourite authors. Seriously. Melissa Tagg never disappoints.

Autumn by the Sea is the perfect blend of mystery, romance, longing for family and meant to be. The characters just worm their way into your heart. The setting is rugged and charming. And that meet cute?!!?? Seriously?!? So cute.

Sydney Rose has only ever wanted a family and somewhere to belong. Maybe that’s why when a stranger approaches her and tells her that he thinks she’s the long-lost granddaughter of Margaret Muir, Sydney Rose jumps on a plane to Maine to discover if maybe, just maybe, she has a family after all. Sydney was not expecting the charming, if a little in need of some love, house on the coast, or Maggie, with her heart so welcoming and so hurt by the past. Nor was Sydney expecting Maggie’s three adopted adult children who are not exactly excited to see Sydney. Just it only takes days for Sydney to feel at home. If she and Neil, Maggie’s eldest adopted and the one holding Muir Farm together, can uncover the truth of the past, maybe Sydney could stay and find her place to belong.

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Book Review: Riverbend Gap

 

Riverbend Gap

– Denise Hunter –

A Riverbend Romance #1

Thomas Nelson

Published 19 October 2021

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I so enjoy reading Denise Hunter’s books. I know once I pick one up, I’ll just disappear into the world and characters she has crafted and I know that I will love every word. And that’s exactly what I got in Riverbend Gap. This book is the first in a new series (yay) that follows a family (yay, yay) living in a small rural town along the Appalachian Trail (more yay). Honestly, between the amazing romance, stunning scenery so beautifully described, the drama and tension and the great writing, I just loved this book.

Katelyn Loveland has a new job, new last name, new boyfriend and a new house. Moving to Riverbend Gap was her new start. But she’s also determined to get some closure from her past. The first step is scattering the ashes of her beloved younger brother. Then, she needs to find her biological mother and learn why she and her brother spent most of their lives in foster care. Not part of the plan was avoiding a deer and almost plunging to her death over the side of a mountain on the way to meet her new boyfriend’s family. When Cooper Robinson, Deputy Sheriff, comes to her rescue, she is relieved and grateful. The tense moments they share forge a deep connection. The only problem is that he is the brother of her new boyfriend. As circumstances through Cooper and Katelyn together again, it’s hard to ignore the deepening feelings between them.

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Book Review: Provenance

 

Provenance

– Carla Laureano –

Tyndale House Publishers

Published 3 August 2021

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I always enjoy the work of Carla Laureano. I adored her The Supper Club series (food – yum!) and now she has created another fantastic Christian contemporary romance. Provenance is set in a small (very cold) Colorado town. The snow storms and mountainous setting are the perfect backdrop to this story about discovering your past and falling in love.

When Kendall Green learns that she is the beneficiary of a grandmother she never knew, only desperation for some cash to keep her interior design business and home in California afloat, prompts her to respond. She’s not sure she wants anything from the grandmother who let her grow up in foster care, moving from home to home and when Kendall learns that her inheritance are 5 historic Victorian homes, she is half devastated and half delighted. She is ready to sell to the highest bidder when the young mayor of the town, delightfully handsome Gabriel Brandt, asks her to consider another option to help save the town’s history and community from circling developers. Staying gives Kendall the chance to learn the truth about her mother, her grandmother and the reason she was abandoned when she was a child, but it also means growing closer to Gabriel, and with her life in California, Kendall’s not sure that’s a risk she should take.

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Book Review: Like Other Girls

Like Other Girls – Britta Lundin – Disney-Hyperion – Published 3 August 2021

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Synopsis

After getting kicked off the basketball team for a fight that was absolutely totally not her fault (okay maybe a little her fault), Mara is dying to find a new sport to play to prove to her coach that she can be a team player. A lifelong football fan, Mara decides to hit the gridiron with her brother, Noah, and best friend, Quinn-and she turns out to be a natural. But joining the team sets off a chain of events in her small Oregon town-and within her family-that she never could have predicted.

Inspired by what they see as Mara’s political statement, four other girls join the team. Now Mara’s lumped in as one of the girls-one of the girls who can’t throw, can’t kick, and doesn’t know a fullback from a linebacker. Complicating matters is the fact that Valentina, Mara’s crush, is one of the new players, as is Carly, Mara’s nemesis-the girl Mara fought with when she was kicked off the basketball team. What results is a coming-of-age story that is at once tear-jerking and funny, thought-provoking and real, as Mara’s preconceived notions about gender, sports, sexuality, and friendship are turned upside down.

My thoughts

What does it mean to be a girl? For Mara, growing up in a small, traditional town, being a girl means she has strict guidelines for how a girl looks and behaves and it’s everything Mara is not and hates. Like Other Girls is a novel about accepting yourself, accepting others and learning that there is no one right way to be a girl or to stand up for that right to be a girl in your own way.

This is not a book where the girl joins the football team and is accepted by the team. Just the opposite happens in Like Other Girls. When Mara joins the football team her relationship with her brother (the team captain) which was already unsteady, deteriorates even more. She has a massive fight with her best friend Quinn who initially encouraged her to join the team but who is now one of her greatest opponents. And her mother is no longer speaking to her or attending football games. That’s not to mention all the other responses from the other guys on the team, the coach or the other teams. When four other girls join the football team, Mara is determined that she won’t be cast as similar to them. She deserves to be there while they do not. But the reaction from the team and the sheer determination from the girls starts to prove to Mara that being a girl doesn’t have just one definition.

Alongside the story of rights, sexual harassment and equality, this is also a sexual orientation discovery story. Mara knows she is gay and has a plan for how she is going to come out – when she’s in college and far away from her conservative town. She could never be like Carly who is openly out and champions for LGBT+ rights. When Mara meets Jupiter and Jupiter hires her to do some work on her farm, Mara sees someone who is comfortable in their skin and clothes and who they are, someone in an LGBT+ relationship and Mara envies every bit of that comfort.
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Book Review: When We Were Strangers

When We Were Strangers – Alex Richards – Bloomsbury YA – Published 27 July 2021

♥♥♥♥

 

Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Evie Parker is devastated in the wake of her father’s sudden death. But she knows something her mother doesn’t: the day of his heart attack, her dad was planning to move out. After finding his packed bags, an impulsive Evie puts everything away, desperate to spare her mom more heartache.

To make matters worse, Evie soon learns the reason her father was going to leave: he had been dating his twenty-two-year-old receptionist, Bree, who is now six months pregnant. Desperate to distract herself, Evie signs up for a summer photography class where she meets a motley crew of students, including quirky and adorable Declan. Still, Evie can’t stop thinking about her father’s mistress. Armed with a telephoto lens, she caves to her curiosity, and what starts as a little bit of spying on Bree quickly becomes full-blown stalking. And when an emergency forces Evie to help Bree, she learns there’s more to the story than she ever knew…

My thoughts

I am a massive fan of Accidental, so I was eager to pick up the author’s latest novel, When We Are Strangers. Again, Alex Richards delivers a novel that is full of emotional tension.

Evie Parker is distraught to learn of her father’s death. But when she finds his bags packed, ready to leave her and her mum for his pregnant mistress, Evie decides to unpack them and hide the truth from her mother. As she carries the weight of both the secret and her grief, Evie finds herself turned towards photography and entered into a photography course by her uncle. The course and her eclectic classmates give Evie the outlet she needs, but when she happens upon her father’s mistress and begins to capture images of her, Evie learns there is so much she didn’t know and so much she has still to learn.

When We Were Strangers is both gut-wrenching but also uplifting. For all the grief and emotional baggage Evie is carrying, there are moments of light, humour and human connection. I very much enjoyed Evie’s voice. She narrates the story and her teenage-ness just shines through so authentically and uniquely. She is sad, lonely and grieving and that comes through in her words and thoughts. At times she seems whiney or sulky, but that is so perfectly real. She has the right to be snarky and she uses that to the best effect.

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Book Review: This Time Around

This Time Around – Denise Hunter, Melissa Ferguson and Kathleen Fuller – Thomas Nelson – Published 13 July 2021

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Synopsis

Three romance novellas. A Summer Detour by Denise Hunter, Pining for You by Melissa Ferguson and He Love Me; Me Loves Me Not by Kathleen Fuller.

My thoughts

This Time Around is a collection of three novellas that feature second chance romances. From best friends to old flames, Denise Hunter, Melissa Ferguson and Kathleen Fuller give their characters a second shot at love. Notes, despite the Christian publisher and authors, these novellas do not reference faith, God or Christianity.

A Summer Detour is the first and my favourite in the collection. Probably not surprising as it’s by Denise Hunter and I love her writing style. In A Summer Detour Allie begs her family for a chance to prove herself and is tasked with driving her grandparents’ beloved restored Chevy to their anniversary party. The only problem is that she can’t drive manual. Luke Fletcher is the only one she can think of who might be able to help – her parents’ neighbour and the man who broke her heart years ago. She’s kept her distance since then but hours in the car, a hail storm, detour, dog with digestion problems and other mishaps later, maybe she and Luke can sort through the hurt and find a way to a future together. This novella is light and funny, yet I really felt for the way Allie believes her parents don’t trust her or see her as capable. Luke has always seen Allie’s worth and this road trip is the perfect opportunity for him to redeem himself in Allie’s eyes and prove he’ll always be there for her.

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Book Review: Plot Twist

Plot Twist – Bethany Turner – Thomas Nelson – Published 14 June 2021

♥♥♥♥

 

Synopsis

February 4, 2003, is just another day for Olivia Ross—a greeting card writer whose passion project is a screenplay of her own. After she and a handsome, struggling actor have a near-magic encounter in a coffee shop, they make a spontaneous pact: in ten years, after they’ve found the success they’re just sure they’re going to achieve, they’ll return to the coffeehouse to partner up and make a film together. The only problem? Olivia neglected to get the stranger’s name. But she doesn’t forget the date.

For the next ten years, every February 4, Olivia has an exceptional day, full of coincidences and ironies. As men come and go and return to her life, and as she continues to write her screenplay, she still wonders about the guy from the coffee shop—the nameless actor she’s almost certain was Hamish McDougal, now a famous member of the Hollywood elite.

But a lot can happen in ten years, and while waiting for the curtain to rise on her fate, the true story of Olivia’s life is being written—and if she’s not careful, she’ll completely miss the epic romance playing out right before her eyes.

My thoughts

As I have come to expect from Bethany Turner, this book is hilarious in the most bizarre way. If you just suspend disbelief that anyone could be this ill-timed and that so many celebrities would make an appearance in one’s life, then this might be classified as realistic fiction.

It is funny and romantic (sort of, actually a lot of it is romance gone wrong or so many missed opportunities it’s NOT funny). Despite a Christian publisher, this is general fiction, with no Christian references (unless you count one reference to Narnia) but it is clean (unless you count kissing someone else’s boyfriend…twice….but by accident…sort of…..)

When Olivia connects with a guy at a coffee shop they make a pact – they will meet back there on the same date ten years form now. He vows to have made it big as an actor and she vows to have a screenplay ready for him to star in. Over the next ten years, that date becomes a strange day for Olivia, full of men from her past, present and maybe future, missed opportunities, and disasters of the heart. Will she finally realise that the love of her life might have been there all along or will she wait for the guy she promised ten years ago.

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