2021, Week the Eighteenth: In Which Katie Ignores Synopses- Twice

May 5, 2021 Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Weekly Wrap-Up, Young Adult Fiction 0

Howdy Bookworms,

Since my kidlet has returned to school, I’ve had more opportunity to enjoy listening to audio books. It’s been a bit of a binge listening situation around here. I’m also still reading with my eyeballs, too, of course, but I really missed audio books. Sammers has been doing well at school, and despite the cold he caught after 3 days, we’ve all been adjusting. (Yes, it was definitely a cold. A negative COVID test and two fully vaccinated parents who also caught said cold attest to that fact. We’ve all recovered and stayed home so as not to spread our germs. Our immune systems are couch potatoes, I guess.) I’m really happy with our new daycare center, and Sam seems to be having a blast now that he’s getting the routine down. His behavior at home has also improved since he’s no longer bored out of his mind. I don’t regret my decision to keep Sam home with us during the past year, but it was never an ideal situation. I just had to choose which bad option was the best for our family. Stupid pandemic. I still don’t love the idea that my kid is out there with only a mask for protection (and as the cold confirms, preschoolers are not great at proper mask wearing) but the moment vaccines are approved for Sammy’s age group, you bet I’ll be getting him protected. We are vaccine enthusiasts in this household. But that’s enough of that, let’s talk about books!

Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant– Have I ever mentioned that I’m terrible about reading synopses before picking up books? Like, I absolutely thought this book was going to be an adult romance, but it was YA. Which is completely fine, because it was a super cute book, but this kind of thing happens to me a lot. I just sort of see a title or author I recognize or think the cover is cute and I jump in. Tessa Johnson and her family have just moved to a new town, and she’s been accepted into a fancy private school focusing on artistically talented students. Tessa’s mother actually applied to the program on her behalf, because Tessa has never shared her writing (romances, naturally) with anyone but her best friend. Now, though, she’s found herself in a competitive program and intimidated doesn’t even begin to describe Tessa’s feelings. In fact, she’s hit with a massive case of writer’s block. Her BFF from home hatches a plan for Tessa to make herself the protagonist of her own story- in the form of staging artificially manufactured romance tropes with her crush. Caroline’s theory is that Tessa will be able to write again if she experiences real-life inspiration. Now all Tessa has to do is locate an elevator prone to getting stuck and/or get marooned in a situation with only one bed she’ll stumble her way into her crush’s heart and out of her writer’s block. This book had so much heart! I loved Tessa and her messy feelings and insecurities and general confusion about the OBVIOUSLY PERFECT BOY who she considers “just a friend” even though he’s incredibly kind, not at all awkward with her disabled brother, and constantly creates tasty baked treats for her. Clearly, I also love Sam and his complete lack of fashion sense. I enjoy a dreamboat love interest as much as the next gal, but an endearing weirdo is even better. Get a copy of this sweet book, you won’t be disappointed.

Grumpy Jake by Melissa Blue- In another instance of my general obliviousness, I did not realize this was going to be a novella instead of a full length novel until I pulled up the audio book and noticed that it was only a few hours of listening. Will I ever learn to pay attention? Probably not. Bailey Thorne is a kindergarten teacher whose new class of students includes a little boy with a notorious father. Dubbed “Jake the Rake” or “Grumpy Jake,” this dad is has a reputation for being great with his kid, and serial dating the unmarried members of the school’s faculty. Bailey has no intention of getting caught up in that mess… Until they get stuck in an elevator together. Siiiiiiiiigh the elevator thing is fast becoming one of my favorite romance tropes. Obviously, Jake and Bailey realize they’re into each other, but things are never THAT simple. I mean, there’s a little kid to consider. And Jake’s got a whole lot of secrets and baggage to contend with. Plus, Bailey’s family is not above meddling (OMG the scene with her brothers at the kid’s sporting event is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. Or listened to, as it were.) If you’re in the market for a short, sweet romance, give Grumpy Jake a whirl!

Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne- I will never stop wishing that Sally Thorne’s audio books used narrators with Australian accents. I realize that none of her books are place specific the way Liane Moriarty’s are, but I LOVE Aussie accents. Knowing that Sally Thorne is an Australian author, ostensibly imagining and creating her characters with Australian accents in her head, I feel cheated by the bland, flat, nondescript American accent in the audio books. That’s not to say the narrator wasn’t great, because Jennifer Jill Araya is fantastic. It’s just that I want more Australian accents in my life, OK? I have digressed, naturally. I was kind of slow to warm up to this book, but it grew on me. Ruthie is 25 going on 85. She works and lives in a retirement village, her wardrobe isn’t exactly youthful, and her social life revolves around bubble baths and an internet fansite dedicated to a TV show that is definitely not 7th Heaven but also totally 7th Heaven. Then Teddy shows up. He’s brash and dazzling and full of tattoos and magically beautiful hair. Ruthie won’t let herself believe Teddy might actually be interested in her- her deep seated insecurities make that impossible. And Teddy? Charming, handsome Teddy? He’s got baggage of his own. But sparks fly, tortoises are rescued, and ornery old ladies meddle to make this a slow burn romance worth the investment. My only complaint with this book is that the epilogue implied that Ruthie may have reconciled with her parents. Her pastor dad was an actual monster and deserves none of her forgiveness. I mean, there’d need to be serious soul searching and obvious groveling before I’d approve of Ruthie forgiving him, and we didn’t see any of that happen in the book. I love a good fractured family repairing themselves story, but I need to see the work being done. Or at least a grand gesture? IDK. But that dude is ON MY LIST.

Tell me about what you’re reading, Bookworms!

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