Something Old, Something New

What I read: Something Old, Something New by Amy Clipston

Why I picked it up: I read a few Amy Clipston books after randomly picking them off the shelf a few weeks ago at the library and really loved them, so I was excited to get this new one on audio on Hoopla to listen to.

How I read it: On audio over the weekend at 1.75x speed.

What it’s about: Christine lives in her home town and owns a successful antique depot (not too big, but still has room for a variety of vendors) and is a twin. Her twin is married with twins of her own – but still holds a grudge toward her high school boyfriend who she believes cheated on her their sophomore year in college. Now he’s back helping his aunt clean out her house and prepare it to be sold by doing some renovations. He brings things to Christine’s store to sell, and they end up becoming friends while he’s in town – even though he’s determined to leave.

What I liked: I loved the Charlotte and NC connections – Amy has a way of portraying the loveliness of NC, and as a Charlotte native (or at least resident), she throws in tons of tiny references to places I’ve actually been here.

What I disliked: Her twin is awful – and she sort of sees it in the end, but never really understands the hundreds of ways she’s demeaned her sister over the past 30 years.

Genre: Small town, friends to lovers, chaste love story.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and absolutely, it’s a delight!

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The Paris Soulmate

What I read: The Paris Soulmate by Brooke Gilbert

Why I picked it up: It was recommended to me based on another book I downloaded on NetGalley. I received this free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

How I read it: On e-galley – even though it was released almost two months ago.

What it’s about: Christine is taking her first solo trip since being diagnosed with a few auto-immune diseases about five years ago. She meets this handsome man in the airport with a delightful British accent who ends up sitting right next to her and staying at the same hotel in Parish. Coincidence or Lola (Christine’s best friend)?

What I liked: I appreciated the insight into someone who’s suffering from an auto-immune disease – she didn’t want to be defined by her disease, but the author brought up her diseases as excuses at least fifteen times per day – and didn’t actually talk about any of the things she needed to do differently. She mentioned that she would need to sleep longer, but didn’t actually get more sleep than the average person on a trip. She spoke about maybe trying foods she couldn’t normally eat – but never did.

What I disliked: You might think I wrote about the things I didn’t like in the “liked” section above, but I also did not like these characters or their story. While many romance novels are unbelievable, this one was ridiculous. No one speaks like they did – and also her “I’m going to wait until marriage” speech felt like an excuse not to write explicit sex scenes rather than anything authentic that the main character believed. They literally spent the night in each other’s rooms from within 12 hours of meeting each other. And she spoke about these trust issues from all of the terrible men she dated, but never even *thought* about the things they did to make her not trust them.

Genre: Chaste love story, health, trusting after being hurt.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️ and no, I do not recommend, even though I really wanted to based on the premise of the book.

Before You Meet Your Future Husband

What I read: Before You Meet Your Future Husband by Robin Jones Gunn & Tricia Goyer

Why I picked it up: I liked the cover and title when I saw it on the available books on NetGalley. I received this free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

How I read it: On e-galley in three sittings – it’s designed as a 30 day devotional in three sections, so I read one section each day.

What it’s about: It’s written for young women (I’d say 15 to 23, maybe) who are single and desire to be married but haven’t met their husband yet. The three sections are heart, head, and hands – focusing on prayer, thoughts, and actions. Each day is a short reflection by one of the authors, space to journal with a particular question or prompt, and a prayer. There’s also a discussion guide in the back if you were going to meet in a small group while reading the book.

What I liked: There’s a lot of great advice in this book. I would recommend it for young women under 25, maybe under 30 who are just beginning their walk with the Lord.

What I disliked: It’s just not for women in their late 30s who are still waiting for a spouse. The advice is sound; but it’s less comforting now than when I was younger. It wasn’t designed for me either, so it’s not like it’s suggesting that late 30s single ladies are our audience and then not delivering.

Genre: Spiritual reading, memoir, singleness.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and if you’re a young woman desiring a holy marriage or if you know a young women like that, it would be a good read. It releases on May 2nd.

The American Roommate Experiment

What I read: The American Roommate Experiment by Elena Armas

Why I picked it up: I read her debut and always appreciate a sequel.

How I read it: On paper staying up too late to finish last night.

What it’s about: Lena’s cousin comes to NYC to stay for six weeks, but when he shows up the person staying in her apartment thinks he’s about to break in. Neither realize the other thinks he/she is supposed to be there. They become roomies and friends and he tries to kick start her inspiration for writing by taking her on experimental dates. Except the truth is that they’re both into the other before they even make this pact – just too scared or unwilling to admit it.

What I liked: Lucas gives her the most delightful dates – those were just sweet to read about.

What I disliked: It was a little spicier than I thought it would be going in – I’m glad I didn’t listen on audio

Genre: Fake dating, friends-to-lovers, shared space, open door.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ and maybe, it wasn’t my favorite romance – but it did have an epic ending.

Anne’s House of Dreams

What I read: Anne’s House of Dreams by L. M. Montgomery

Why I picked it up: I’ve been slowly re-reading the Anne books via audio and this was the next one up.

How I read it: On audio at 1.75x speed over more than a week.

What it’s about: Anne and Gilbert are married and move into their own house of dreams at his new role as doctor in a small harbor town about 60 miles from Green Gables. This book follows their first couple years of marriage full of joys and tragedies including many new neighbor friends.

What I liked: There’s just something about Anne Shirley (now Blythe) that warms my heart. I want to be her in real life or at least friends with her.

What I disliked: Cornelia’s character cracked me up every time she said, “and isn’t that just like a man.” I loved that, but dislike how it’s crept into my thoughts when someone does something dumb.

Genre: Neighbors, Friends, young adulthood.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and absolutely – but this series demands to be read all together or at least in order because there’s so much rich backstory.

The Backup Plan

What I read: The Backup Plan by Jill Shalvis

Why I picked it up: Some. I received this free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

How I read it: On hardcover staying up too late and letting it consume my morning so I could finish.

What it’s about: Eleanor chose her three found family members to take over her inn after she died. None of them want to be there, but their time together is healing for all of them in different ways.

What I liked: I loved how Knox stays when Alice struggles. He doesn’t get flustered and run away even though he’s dealing with his own healing.

What I disliked: I wanted a little more with Lauren and the job at the library – I think she was being treated poorly by those in town.

Genre: Closed door romance, found family, healing.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and definitely, it’s the 3rd in a series, but each are only set in the same town, they don’t appear to have any other connections to one another.

Memory Lane

What I read: Memory Lane by Becky Wade

Why I picked it up: I’ve read a few of her other series and loved them, so when I saw this was available from NetGalley I had to request it. I received this book for free, but all opinions are my own.

How I read it: On e-galley pretty quickly.

What it’s about: Remi moved to a small island off the coast of Maine about six years ago to find solace, quiet, and a place to do her art. Today when she sits to enjoy the view, she finds someone bobbing out in the ocean. She ends up rescuing him, calling him Jonah because he has amnesia and can’t remember who he is, and nursing him back to health. At one point they need to take him to the mainland for medical care and the doctor recognizes him – which sets off the beginning of him getting his memory back.

What I liked: I appreciated the self-restraint and understanding that Jonah/Jeremiah has throughout the book, even when he is first rescued and in a bad place health wise. Even when she shares her past trauma, he is very understanding.

What I disliked: I wanted more – which is guess is okay since this is the first in a planned series of at least 3 – one for each brother. We were introduced to just one in this book.

Genre: Maine, trauma, chaste love story.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes – I’ve read many of her before and loved them, this one is definitely a different kind of story – but just as well done. It releases on February 14th.

The Only Game in Town

What I read: The Only Game in Town by Lacie Waldon

Why I picked it up: I found this on NetGalley and have loved her previous two books, so I requested it. I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

How I read it: On e-galley via Kindle over the weekend.

What it’s about: Jess grew up in small town Georgia with her father Ross. Life was great – except for a group of mean girls who have been picking on her for more than a decade. Now the town’s benefactor has died and his inheritance of $10 million is being distributed via a game. Everyone has been paired with their arch-enemy … except Carter, his grandson, has been given a new friend. Jess and Carter find each other, even though they’re on opposite teams.

What I liked: I really loved how Jess understood herself, her emotions, and life quicker than most romance novel protagonists. She’s got a high level of self-awareness, and she felt like someone I would want to be friends with in real life.

What I disliked: The pettiness of Nikki, Lexi, and their ‘gang of mean girls’ felt very high school – but small towns can remain that way when people get a grudge in high school, don’t go away for college, and stay. It can be a true fact of life, but I can still dislike it.

Genre: Small town, closed door romance, finding oneself.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and definitely! I recommend all three of her books!! It releases on March 21st.

The View from Coral Cove

What I read: The View from Coral Cove by Amy Clipston

Why I picked it up: I thought it was part of a series to the one I finished yesterday, so I picked them both up. However, they’re both stand alone.

How I read it: On paper in less than a day – it was a delight.

What it’s about: Maya moves to Coral Cove, where her beloved great-aunt lived, after her aunt’s passing. CeCe was her last living family member, and now she’s all alone in the world so a comforting place feels perfect. She’s still grieving her mother’s death and her fiancé dumped her for London a few months ago (that’s the city not a person). Now she’s starting over, running her aunt’s toy store, and living two blocks from the beach. Then a little kitty comes wandering in followed by a little girl and her dad – and that changes everything.

What I liked: I loved Brody and Ashlyn – I want to meet them in real life and hang out on their beachfront deck and go see all the things a beach town has to offer.

What I disliked: The “twist” in this story – the thing that almost breaks them up – is annoying. Maya considers Kyle (throughout the book), he’s the ex, because “her plan was to marry by 30, be a mom by 31” and her birthday is just around the corner. Don’t marry a jerk just so you aren’t single anymore!

Genre: Chaste love story, adoption, fathers and daughters, beach, small town.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes – I think this will end up being a favorite of mine!

Being Mary Bennet

What I read: Being Mary Bernet by J. C. Peterson

Why I picked it up: This is the first in a series of re-imaginations of Pride & Prejudice and while I was reading the first, coming out at the end of next month, so I decided to listen to the first.

How I read it: On audio at 2x speed over a couple of days while walking, cleaning, and working around the house.

What it’s about: Marnie is the middle child, and she feels like her sisters overshadow everything about her life. She wants to be a Lizzie Bennet, but the truth is she’s Mary – the sister no one cares about (in her opinion). She’s applying for a big prize that her sister won years ago and through her “Bark Books” project she finds friends, herself, and Whit!

What I liked: There’s a sweet element of this story about how a girl grows into the woman she’s meant to be. That was nice to read. Also she is more like Anne Shirley than Mary Bennet – and whit is more like Gilbert Blythe than any other literary hero – and I like Anne more than Austen, so that was nice.

What I disliked: So. Much. Teen. Angst.

Genre: Young Adult, retelling the classics, finding oneself.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ and if you like a retelling, and you can handle teen angst, sure. I don’t think I’ll be continuing the series, unless the mother gets her act together and stops being just the worst.