The Tourist Attraction (Moose Springs, Alaska #1) by Sarah Morgenthaler

tourist attraction

What’s this? Another old review that I’ve stumbled upon?  Yupp… You know me, I love to draft without publishing or fine tuning anything and then have 92727390218 drafts!  Don’t worry, I’m working on it!  This one comes at you from March 2020.

arc review

Thank you Netgalley for the ARC of this book which comes out on May 5, 2020.

All I keep thinking while reading chapter one is, why does the author keep repeating the characters names all the time? Graham and Zoey. Almost every sentence starts with their name, it seems like! Seriously… Why?

Do you ever read a book and think that perhaps the author is either way smarter than you are (a very likely case) or from somewhere other than America (a less likely case)? Because as I was reading I thought some phrasing was a bit off. And at one point asked the question: what the heck is a cudgel?  I still don’t know the answer as to whether or not the author is perhaps British but I did look up a cudgel and can say definitively that the author’s diction is far superior to my own. 

I know that people like to liken the hero in this book to Luke from Gilmore Girls.  The classic grumpy diner owner in a small town.  But… well let’s be honest, I’m team Christopher. Perhaps herein lies the problem as I trudge forward with this read.

In the end, I had to DNF this book (did not finish).  I was so excited to get my hands on it but after seeing the characters interact, I feel confident that I’m not the right reader for this book. 

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In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

in a holidaze

arc review

 

official blurb
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions. But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy. The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

2.75 out of 5🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

Wow I am having the hardest time rating this book.  First of all, I need to describe how I felt when I was reading it.  In one word: stressed.  Like so stressed that the second night I started to read it, I decided to pick up an entirely different book because I didn’t want to fall asleep stressed.  Now, I feel I must confess to you that I find the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles incredibly stressful – that’s the kind of stress I was feeling in this book.  You might be wondering from the description if I was feeling Groundhogs Day stressed… but like the main character, Mae, I have never seen that movie.  (Keep that gasp to yourself, not every classic is really a classic!) Shall we talk about the things that stressed me out?  As Lorelai Gilmore says, “Let’s shall!”  Mae made a lot of questionable choices in her communication or lack thereof.  That’s right, folks, this book features major communication issues (my least favorite trope in a book).  Remember my other least favorite plot device- the love triangle?  Yup, this book also featured a love triangle.  Did I mention I was stressed when I read this book?  I did? Okay…well, I was.  I even resorted to sending multiple texts to a friend demanding she tell me if this book was indeed a romance novel (did you know that for a book to be considered a romance novel it is required to feature a “happily ever after” or an HEA as we like to call it?)…. it was.  So are you wondering how this book got almost three stars for me after this stress?! I know, it’s hard to believe- especially for me, after I almost declared it a DNF (did not finish).  But there’s a point in the book when Mae decides to start communicating… and I fell in love.  I loved the whole section that moved forward from the communication! I was happy with the ending and finally felt all of the drama fall into its rightful place.  And for that, it almost got a full three stars from me! I also loved the family that was written in the book- I liked the traditions and the close knit crew.  They were well written and likable.  I think one of the reasons why the book is so stressful is because it’s written in a way that really pulls you into the world- the life with all of these families living together in a cabin over Christmastime.  And because you’re so into it, you find yourself grinding your teeth!

This is one of Christina Lauren’s low end steam books.  They really write very fluctuating steam level books and I love that about them!  (If you’re new to these authors, it is two women who write under the pen name Christina Lauren).

Thank you to netgalley and Gallery Books for the advanced readers copy of this book!

To see a holiday books that I recommend check out my reviews of Faking Under The Mistletoe and Christmas on Mistletoe Lane

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Doctor Dearest by R.S. Grey

arc review

2.5 out of 5
🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level 

It’s no secret that I love R.S. Grey’s steamy romcoms. In fact a few of her books have made their way on MY required reading list for romance lovers!  This book features the signature wit of Grey that I always love and tropes that I can’t help but get behind.  (Tropes in this book include: confined space, in love with brothers best friend, coworker romance, age gap).  Unfortunately this book didn’t capture me like Grey’s others.  I had some issues with the overall romance in it.  The couple’s relationship seemed a bit unhealthy with passionate scenes occuring after huge fights and poor communication.  Sex scenes featuring tears and anger and avoidance.  I had a hard time moving past that and it made me overall not root for them as a couple.  In the background of this book are two characters that I hope will have a book next because I was really into them! (I’m purposefully not using their names… no spoilers from me!)  So it’s a bummer that I wasn’t the ideal reader for this particular book, but that won’t stop me from picking up all of Grey’s books in the future!

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The Honey – Don’t List by Christina Lauren

the honey don't list

arc review

official blurb
Carey Douglas has worked for home remodeling and design gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp for nearly a decade. A country girl at heart, Carey started in their first store at sixteen, and—more than anyone would suspect—has helped them build an empire. With a new show and a book about to launch, the Tripps are on the verge of superstardom. There’s only one problem: America’s favorite couple can’t stand each other. James McCann, MIT graduate and engineering genius, was originally hired as a structural engineer, but the job isn’t all he thought it’d be. The last straw? Both he and Carey must go on book tour with the Tripps and keep the wheels from falling off the proverbial bus. Unfortunately, neither of them is in any position to quit. Carey needs health insurance, and James has been promised the role of a lifetime if he can just keep the couple on track for a few more weeks. While road-tripping with the Tripps up the West Coast, Carey and James vow to work together to keep their bosses’ secrets hidden, and their own jobs secure. But if they stop playing along—and start playing for keeps—they may have the chance to build something beautiful together…

my blurb!
A dysfunctional version of Chip and Joanna Gaines go on tour and need to be managed by two employees who think they’re better than each other.

2 out of 5
 🔥🔥🔥🔥 (maybe  🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥) / 5 steam level
[this rating is mainly for speech used rather than action]

This book was a hard one for me. It wasn’t particularly funny by any means and the characters that you’re supposed to be rooting for didn’t really have much of a love story.  The first few chapters set the groundwork for the reader to understand the empire that Carey and James are working for.  This was tough for me because I thought it was pretty easy to grasp that the Tripps were indeed the Gaines’ but with a crappy marriage.  I tried to push through that part assuming that the Gaines’ don’t exist in the world that Christina Lauren created- but alas, at the end of the book Mrs. Tripp makes a reference to Chip and Jo!  So that theory went out the window…
The formatting is a bit like Big Little Lies (the show… because I still haven’t read the book!) where they’re being interviewed by the police about something secretive and you don’t find out what it is until the end. I would’ve been really into this storytelling technique if it paid off. I didn’t think it paid off.
Around 31% into the book I made a note that I was ready to start skimming.  Instead I put the book down and read a different book and came back to this one.
I think what I struggled with the most is not rooting for Carey and James.  They were more like side characters than the main characters of the novel.  Carey lacked a lot of gumption and I really dislike that in a character.  There was a communication issue that could have been easily avoided but was maybe necessary for the climax of the book (only if you thought of James and Carey as the main characters… which I did not and therefore didn’t find the drama necessary).
I would be wrong to not acknowledge that there is a weirdly abusive (verbal and emotional?) relationship in this book that is completely unhealthy and doesn’t resolve in a way that was pleasing for me.
Remember that awesome movie Set It Up on Netflix? This was kind of like a take on that movie but not done as well.
I will say also that as much as I wasn’t wrapped up in the love story of the book, I did like James quite a bit.

So overall this book wasn’t for me.  There will definitely be readers that love this book and like the variation from other CL books.  The good news is that this is the exception to the rule from me with CL books and I will happily still pick up their next book without thinking twice about it!

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Shelf Awareness (Green Valley Library #4) by Katie Ashley

shelf awareness

 

official blurb
After catching her husband in a compromising position, the last thing that Finley Granger wants is to enter the insanity that is the dating world. She’s dealing with enough upheaval: she’s quit her job as a journalist in Atlanta to start over as a librarian in the backwoods town of Green Valley, Tennessee. But her grandmother has other ideas. When GramBea teams up with her sister, Dot, and their best friend, Estelle, Finley finds herself surrounded by a trio of well-meaning yet incredibly bumbling matchmakers. In spite of their efforts, there’s only one man she’s curious about, and that’s Zeke Masters, the library’s volunteer IT specialist. Sure, he’s 6’4”, impossibly built, ridiculously good-looking, and gets her nether regions tingling. However, it’s the tingle of her journalist spidey-senses that holds her attention most as she wonders why he’s on sabbatical from Seattle. Is he on lam, or on the run from a bad relationship? As Finley finds herself reluctantly drawn to the gorgeous IT guy, she can’t help but wonder: should she indulge in a little rebound fun with the mysterious Zeke – or has she finally met her match?

arc review

2.75 out of 5 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

Ah! Can you believe this is my last Smartypants Romance to review?!  I think the grand total was like eleven books.  Ready to dive into this one? Let’s do it! Ps. If you are looking for a book with LGBT characters, there is a background character in this book who you will love!

what i liked
This book features a tall heroine! I know quite a few people who keep running lists of books featuring tall heroines.  She is 5’9″ and he is 6’3″ if that helps anyone out there! (I know the official blurb says 6’4″ but I’m looking at the book right now when it says 6’3″).
I liked a lot of the pop culture references in the book! I’m a sucker for a Meg Ryan reference.
Do you like the Golden Girls? If so, you will really like the trio of older women who Finley moves in with.
I liked the overall premise of the book, it was really interesting, as I read the first chapter, it mirrored pretty closely another Smarypants Romance book (Stud Muffin).

what i didn't like
There were some repetitive paragraphs in this book.  I did get an Advanced Readers Copy so there is always a chance that these could be changed and updated before publication.
I had some issues with the dialogue.  This was actually the first book where I noticed that the dialogue wasn’t flowing well for me.  I can’t exactly place my finger on the issue other than to say that I looked up the author to see how many books she had previously written.
A lot of scenarios in the book were really predictable from the first sentence in the chapter.  You could tell where it was going to go, and in most cases it was going in a over-the-top direction.  For instance, Finley and the Ben Wa balls (who puts them in for the first time and then goes to work?!) Or Finley and her first date.  Basically there were a lot of scenes that I could see coming and were written for the hilariously awkward factor, but I never laughed.

while reading you should
Listen to any of these songs mentioned throughout the book:
-Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye
-Somebody to Love by Queen
-We Will Rock You by Queen
Watch: Twilight and/or The Mummy (trust me, it’ll make sense as you read the book)
Extra points for watching the briefly mentioned Sleepless in Seattle

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Crime and Periodicals (Green Valley Library #2 ) by Nora Everly

20190718_GVL02_Crime and Periodicals_Everly_KDP_FINAL

arc review

official blurb
In Green Valley, Tennessee everybody knows everybody, but nobody knows Sabrina Logan. Sabrina has been hiding in plain sight for years. Living her life inside of books, dutifully helping her family, and hoping no one will notice her. So far? Mission accomplished! Yet when sexy—and distrustful—sheriff, Wyatt Monroe returns to town with his daughters, he definitely notices the quiet librarian everyone else overlooks. The single dad can’t seem to shake thoughts of shy Sabrina. Without quite understanding the impulse, Wyatt makes his mission finding her again, so he can . . . well, he’ll just have to reckon with that later. What Wyatt discovers is a woman who trusts too easily, but who’s afraid to live. Trust doesn’t come easily to Wyatt. But living? That’s never been a problem. And he’d sure like to show her how.

2 out of 5🔥🔥🔥  out of 5 steam level

Well I made it to 43% on this book before I finally decided to DNF (did not finish) it. I just could not get into this one.
I couldn’t identify with either main character at all. They were definitely supposed to be likable but won’t be making my list of fictional friends.  Sabrina I would read about and sigh or think… this is stressful.  And Wyatt…he was written to be a swoonworthy single dad – but I’ll reserve my swoons in that category for the next Hallmark movie I watch. (We all know there’s like a 1 in 3 chance that a Hallmark movie will feature a sweet and caring single dad).

Truth be told, I never made it to a steamy sex scene in this book so my steam level may not be accurate. From a pure jargon assessment I would consider this a three steam.

The truth is that I could’ve kept reading this book- in fact I’m the past I would’ve! But I’ve recently made a new rule that if the book I’m reading makes me only want to pick up the book on occasion- then I can DNF it. Life is too short to push through books you’re not loving!

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Love in Due Time (Green Valley Public Library #1) by L.B. Dunbar

20190718_GVL01_Love in Due Time_Dunbar_KDP_FINAL

arc review

official blurb
Naomi Winters will be forty–soon-ish–and she’s only been with one man. One night. One time. Long ago. She believes everything happens for a reason, and the universe spoke about Nathan Ryder. Nathan Ryder isn’t the same man who hightailed his bike out of Green Valley eighteen years ago. As a rule breaker, women are one area he acts a fool. Case in point…the local librarian. He can’t get a read on her, but she’s one risk he’s willing to take. Again. What do an eccentric librarian and a sexy silver biker have in common? More than you think. The due date on their love might not be expired after all.

2 out of 5
🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

 

Our main girl, Naomi, is thought to be a witch in the town. She would clarify that she is, in fact, Wiccan.  And then the the whole book we will read about this one zillion times.  I think the overall point was to stress that she was an outsider but I was not into the repetitiveness of this storyline.
The couple was written as a second chance romance for people in their forties-ish.  But I rolled my eyes at their attraction level and the understanding of their feelings- not to mention their communication.  It felt like they were still in high school and I didn’t love that at all.
You know from reading my reviews of The Winston Brothers series that my least favorite part about the books has to do with the motorcycle gang- The Iron Wraiths.  This book had a lot of storyline about the iron wraiths.  That was overall the biggest overlap from the smartypants universe to this book- which was a bummer for me.  If you enjoyed that part about the Winston Brothers then you will probably like this book more than I did.
I got to 90% of this book and then read two other books before I finished the last ten percent-  that’s how little I was invested in it.

I did like the brief snippets of seeing the Winston brothers and hearing about Bethany Winston’s effect onto Naomi’s life. I liked the side story with Naomi’s sisters and am hoping to get some more of her story in another book!

I think this book will appeal to readers who like the iron wraith storyline and who enjoy second chance romances.  Overall I wasn’t the right reader for this particular Smartypants Romance.  Oh well, onto the next!

Where does this fall in the Knitting/Winston timeline?
This book takes place after Roscoe’s book (Dr. Strange Beard) and potentially after Billy’s book (Beard Necessities)

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