Everything for You

Title: Everything for You

Author: Chloe Liese

Series: Bergman Brothers

Publication Date: May 10, 2022

Format: e-book

Genre: Romance

Sub Genre(s): LGBTQ, Sports


Summary:

Gavin

We’ve been teammates for two years, but it feels like a lifetime that Oliver Bergman’s been on my last nerve. A demanding captain and veteran player, I’m feared and friendless, while he’s the beloved rising star, all sunshine smiles and upbeat team spirit. To make matters worse, he’s obscenely attractive. In short: he’s genetically designed to get under my skin.

Avoiding Oliver has been my survival tactic on and off the field. But when Coach drops the bomb that we’re now co-captains, avoiding him becomes impossible, and keeping the truth from him–let alone my distance–is harder than ever.

Oliver

Life was great until soccer legend Gavin Hayes joined the team and proved he’s nothing like the guy I grew up idolizing. Instead, he’s a giant–albeit gorgeous–grump who lives to rain on my parade. I’ve sworn off pranks since entering the public eye, so rather than settle our differences the Bergman way, I’ve had to settle for killing Gavin with kindness. There’s just one problem: killing him with kindness is killing me.

To make matters worse, Coach gives us an ultimatum: put an end to our enmity or say goodbye to being captains. I’m prepared to be miserable while we meet her demands and make nice, but the last thing I expect is to discover an explosive attraction we can’t help but act on, and worse yet, to realize the man hiding beneath Gavin’s gruff exterior is all I’ve ever wanted.–From Goodreads


What I Liked: This series continues to be such a joy to read, and I find myself eagerly anticipating each new release.  Each Bergman sibling is unique, and I’ve found myself enjoying their individual love stories. Liese has done a fantastic job of giving the reader enough information about the family so that when it’s time for the next sibling’s book you feel like you know them already.  I already knew I liked Oliver from the small scenes he had been in before this, but this book made me love him. His personality was so unique and fun and a great antithesis to Gavin’s grumpiness. Liese does a good job showing us why Gavin is such a grump and how Oliver would be able to look past that to fall in love with him.  As a fan of Ted Lasso, the parallels here are obvious but that just made me like this book more.

What I Didn’t Like: As a fan of the enemies to lovers to trope, the thing that makes the reader invested in the story is the progression of the relationship.  In this book, we don’t get that.  The initial meeting of Oliver and Gavin is only talked about, not seen, so we miss the initial moment of attraction hidden by hatred. In many ways, enemies to lovers is also a slow burn story and I felt that this story went too fast.   

Who Should Read It: Existing fans of the Bergman Brothers series won’t be disappointed with this one and will want to continue the series after this but anyone looking for a sports romance will also enjoy this book. And while this is part of a series, it can easily be read as a standalone.

Review Wrap Up: Great banter, great chemistry, and great sex. What more can anyone ask for in a romance? As much as I loved the characters in this book and the overall story, I wish there was more to the enemies to lovers build up and we saw Oliver and Gavin’s initial meeting. Despite this issue, I would recommend this book for romance fans looking for a good sports themed story.

Favorite Quote: “We’re already proud of you. If you did nothing but exist the rest of your life, we’d be proud of you. Because you’re ours and we love you.”


@thespinsterlibrarian
*Thank you to Netgalley and the author for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review*

The Unsinkable Greta James

Title:  The Unsinkable Greta James

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Series: N/A

Publication Date: March 1, 2022

Format: E-book

Genre: Fiction

Sub Genre(s): Contemporary, Family


Summary: Greta James’s meteoric rise to indie stardom was hard-won. Before she graced magazine covers and sold out venues, she spent her girlhood strumming her guitar in the family garage. Her first fan was her mother, Helen, whose face shone bright in the dusty downtown bars where she got her start. But not everyone encouraged Greta to follow her dreams. While many daydream about a crowd chanting their name, her father, Conrad, sees only a precarious life ahead for his daughter.

Greta has spent her life trying to prove him wrong. But three months after Helen’s sudden death, and weeks before the launch of her high-stakes sophomore album, Greta has an onstage meltdown that goes viral. Attempting to outrun the humiliation and heartbreak, she reluctantly agrees to accompany her father on a week-long Alaskan cruise, the very one that her parents had booked to celebrate their fortieth anniversary.

This could be the James family’s last chance to heal old wounds, and will prove to be a voyage of discovery for them, as well as for Ben Wilder, a historian also struggling with a major upheaval in his life. Ben is on board to lecture about Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, the adventure story Greta’s mother adored, and he captures Greta’s attention after her streak of dating hanger-ons. As Greta works to build up her confidence and heal, and Ben confronts his uncertain future, they must rely on one another to make sense of life’s difficult choices. In the end, Greta must make the most challenging decision of all: to listen to the song within her or make peace with those who love her.


What I Liked: This was a lovely, realistic portrayal of grief and familial relationships that had me smiling one scene and tearing up the next. I found Greta to be a sympathetic character, even when she was making decisions that I didn’t agree with or found frustrating. One of the things I liked most about this book was the acknowledgement that everyone grieves differently and that we need to allow people the time and space they need to work through their emotions at their own pace. Greta sees her “meltdown” as weak and potentially career damaging, but it takes the time spent and discussions had with Ben and her dad for her to realize how needed that moment was for her to begin to heal.  The relationship Greta has with her dad was heartbreaking and I found myself wishing they could say to each other what they really wanted to without it turning into a fight.  But isn’t that how life is? Especially when the parent and child are both adults with their own lives and ways of seeing the world. They love each other but will they ever see eye to eye? I found it touching when Greta would have little moments of worry about her dad getting older even while she was angry with him or feeling like they would never have a good relationship. The relationship between Ben and Greta was cute and it was refreshing to see two adults that treated each other with respect and were open and honest with their feelings.  Yes, there were moments of miscommunication and angst but it never falls into unbelievable. I found the ending to be satisfying and even though I would have liked more, I appreciate an author knowing when and how to end a story.

What I Didn’t Like: I would have liked more interactions and conversations between Greta and her dad because the resolution to their storyline seemed a bit rushed. Their issues had been going on since Greta was a teenager so I would have liked to see them communicate more.

Who Should Read It: I think this would be a good book club pick that will lead to great discussions, especially about parent-child relationships. I would be hesitant to recommend this to anyone who has lost a parent without giving them a warning about the content.

Review Wrap Up: Smith has managed to write a beautiful story about the loss of a loved one without making the story overly sad or depressing. It was heartfelt and joyful and left me with hope. I believe this book will end up on a lot of people’s best of lists this year.

Favorite Quote: “Maybe the point isn’t always to make things last…maybe it’s just to make them count.”


thespinsterlibrarian

*Thank you to Netgalley and Ballatine Books for providing an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review*

Delilah Green Doesn’t Care

Title: Delilah Green Doesn’t Care

Author: Ashley Herring Blake

Series: Bright Falls

Publication Date: February 22nd, 2022

Format:  e-book

Genre: Romance

Sub Genre(s): LGBTQ+, Contemporary


Summary: Delilah Green swore she would never go back to Bright Falls—nothing is there for her but memories of a lonely childhood where she was little more than a burden to her cold and distant stepfamily. Her life is in New York, with her photography career finally gaining steam and her bed never empty. Sure, it’s a different woman every night, but that’s just fine with her.

When Delilah’s estranged stepsister, Astrid, pressures her into photographing her wedding with a guilt trip and a five-figure check, Delilah finds herself back in the godforsaken town that she used to call home. She plans to breeze in and out, but then she sees Claire Sutherland, one of Astrid’s stuck-up besties, and decides that maybe there’s some fun (and a little retribution) to be had in Bright Falls, after all.

Having raised her eleven-year-old daughter mostly on her own while dealing with her unreliable ex and running a bookstore, Claire Sutherland depends upon a life without surprises. And Delilah Green is an unwelcome surprise…at first. Though they’ve known each other for years, they don’t really know each other—so Claire is unsettled when Delilah figures out exactly what buttons to push. When they’re forced together during a gauntlet of wedding preparations—including a plot to save Astrid from her horrible fiancé—Claire isn’t sure she has the strength to resist Delilah’s charms. Even worse, she’s starting to think she doesn’t want to…


What I Liked: Every character in this book is fully realized, with their own quirks and problems and feelings. Delilah can best be described as prickly but as we find out she has genuine reasons to be that way. It’s a testament to Herring Blake’s skill as a writer that Delilah never comes off as mean, at least to people who don’t deserve it. The queer representation in this book is something that has been missing in a lot of recent romance novels. Many LGBTQ romances seem to include queer characters as an afterthought but both Delilah and Claire feel like real people. Claire’s bisexuality is truly a part of her personality and shapes her thoughts and actions. I don’t know how Herring Blake did it, but she wrote a romance novel that is swoony and funny and heartwarming and also managed to write a touching story about the relationship between sisters and the importance of friends who always support you and the real struggles of co-parenting with an ex and the fear of being alone. Phew!  Every side story got enough time to feel important and I was invested in each and every character.

What I Didn’t Like: Ummm nothing? If pressed to find something to critique, the villains in the story sometimes felt a bit over the top and out of place in a book that overall felt authentic and real. However, the way they are dealt with in the end makes sense to the story.

Who Should Read It:  Any romance fan will find something to love about this book. I think this will end up being on a lot of best of the year lists.

Review Wrap Up: It was truly refreshing to read a romance in which the heroines are their authentic selves and love each other just as they are. The relationships in this book, both romantic and platonic, felt true and I want to be friends with this group in real life. It’s only January but this may end up being one of my favorite books of the year.  

Favorite Quote: “She didn’t have to be alone. Not unless she just wanted to be, and goddammit, she didn’t.”


thespinsterlibrarian

*Thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review*

D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding

Title: D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding

Author: Chencia C. Higgins

Series:  N/A

Publication Date:  January 25th, 2022 (expected)

Format:  E-book

Genre: Romance

Sub Genre(s): LGBTQ+

Summary: Instant I Do could be Kris Zavala’s big break. She’s right on the cusp of really making it as an influencer, so a stint on reality TV is the perfect chance to elevate her brand. And $100,000 wouldn’t hurt, either. D’Vaughn Miller is just trying to break out of her shell. She’s sort of neglected to come out to her mom for years, so a big splashy fake wedding is just the excuse she needs. All they have to do is convince their friends and family they’re getting married in six weeks. If anyone guesses they’re not for real, they’re out. Selling their chemistry on camera is surprisingly easy, and it’s still there when no one else is watching, which is an unexpected bonus. Winning this competition is going to be a piece of wedding cake.  But each week of the competition brings new challenges, and soon the prize money’s not the only thing at stake. A reality show isn’t the best place to create a solid foundation, and their fake wedding might just derail their relationship before it even starts.


What I Liked:  The representation in this book is incredible. The two leads are a fat, Black Lesbian and an Afro-Latina butch lesbian ,which would be amazing enough, but there are several queer side characters as well.  This was fun from page one and I thought the reality show premise was clever and made the insta-love trope more believable. I loved that the angst in this book didn’t come from the main relationship but rather the very real and difficult task of coming out to your family.

What I Didn’t Like: The relationship between Kris and D’Vaughn moved very quickly and while I know that’s the point of this book, I’m not a huge fan of insta-love stories so I would have loved a few more scenes of them falling in love. I would have also liked more closure between D’Vaughn and her mother about her coming out and the feelings surrounding that. This was a large part of the beginning of the book and I would have enjoyed a conversation between them to wrap things up.

Who Should Read It: If you like your romances to be fun and low-angst, this would be a great read for you. The steam level is pretty mild so this would be a good book for people who don’t want too much explicit sex in their romances.

Review Wrap Up: It took longer than I would have thought but reality TV-themed romance novels seem to be popping up more and more (see “One to Watch” and “If the Shoe Fits”). While I’m not a fan of reality shows, I have to admit they make a great backdrop for insta-love romances. While I felt this story wrapped up too quickly, I thought it was really fun and I was rooting for Kris and D’Vaughn the entire time and had a smile on my face at the end.

Favorite Quote: “…it was no secret that reality shows tended to put a certain style and shape of woman in front of the camera. Petite, with flawless skin. Dazzling smiles and relaxed hair. Skin so fair it was almost translucent. So aggressively heterosexual they were willing to fight another woman over a man offering community dick that was mediocre at best.”


thespinsterlibrarian

*Thank you to Carina Adores and Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review*

Eight Kisses: Eight All-New Tales of Holiday Romance

This was a fun anthology that truly has a story for every romance fan. In the foreword, the editor states that when looking for holiday romances, you can always find plenty of Christmas themed stories, but you have to search really hard to find stories that take place around Hanukkah.  This book was released in 2019 and while there has been an increase in Hanukkah romances, there is still a shocking lack of non-Christmas romance novels being published each year. If you are looking to change up your holiday reading, this book is a good place to begin.

To start, I think it was extremely clever to make this anthology eight stories in honor of the eight days of Hanukkah and to call this anthology Eight Kisses. Some of the authors take the eight theme even further and use the eight days of Hanukkah as a way to structure their story. The beauty of an anthology is that if you find yourself not liking a story, you can just skip it and not feel like you’re missing anything. Because each story is unique and there is a trope here for everyone, this is a great book for finding out which romance trope you really love and the ones that don’t do it for you. For the most part, I liked all the stories in this book and my issues with the ones I didn’t like had nothing to do with the author’s writing and more to do with my dislike of the plot and the short story structure. My favorite stories were A Highlander for Hanukkah, Can’t Help Falling, Frisky Connections, and Rededication. In my opinion, these had the most developed plots and involved Hanukkah the best. The other stories had undeveloped plots or too much going on, or there was not enough chemistry between the hero and heroine for me to get into the romance. I think this is where the short story format was a detriment. Given more pages, I think some of the stories I didn’t care for may have had a chance to get better.

I have a few minor complaints that I hope/wish will be addressed should these authors choose to release another anthology. The first is to have a better mix of historical and modern stories instead of only one historical. This didn’t take anything away from my enjoyment of the book but having more sub-genres represented is always good. I would also love to see stories that don’t feature only hetero couples and instead include some stories that show different sexual identities. These are very minor issues but things that would be great in the next anthology. On the flip side, I must give credit to this book for including not one but TWO stories featuring older protagonists. If you think finding Hanukkah romances is hard, try finding a romance with people older than 40! I also loved that a few of the stories had couples of different religions and different races. Some of the stories showed the challenges that people of two different faiths have when beginning to date or falling in love and I liked that this wasn’t glossed over. Romances that aren’t afraid to show some realities are always nice to read as long as you can still escape the real world for a time.

This was a fun and sweet anthology with a little bit of heat that is a welcome addition to the many holiday romances out there. There is a great mix of different tropes here including second chance romance, instalove, romantic suspense, and enemies to lovers so there really is something here for everyone. I hope these authors (or different ones!) decide to publish another anthology because we need more diverse romances.

Authors: Lori Ann Bailey, Mindy Klaksy, Rose Grey, Michelle Mars, JT Silver, Erin Eisenberg, Lavinia Klein, and Lynne Silver

Published: November 5, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

A Woman is No Man

This was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time but it was a tough, emotional read so I would be hesitant to recommend it without that warning.  This isn’t a happy book even though there were moments of joy throughout. But the feelings of sadness and despair outweighed those for me and I was left thinking about this book for days afterwards.

Continue reading “A Woman is No Man”

Malibu Rising

Taylor Jenkins Reid is an author that makes you stay up past your bedtime.  Once you start reading her books, you can’t put them down, even as you tell yourself to slow down, savor it.  You know you’re going to be mad when the book is over and you have to wait until her next book is released yet you can’t stop yourself.  I haven’t been disappointed by one of her books yet and “Malibu Rising” continued this trend.  Get your hands on a copy of this book as quick as you can and enjoy!

Continue reading “Malibu Rising”

The Inheritance Games

I first heard of this book from a book club friend whose tastes and recommendations I trust so I added it to my TBR pile where it was destined to sit for weeks and months like every other unfortunate book that winds up there.  But then I was looking for a quick, fun, read to get me out of a reading slump so I started scrolling through my Goodreads to see which book would help me.  This book was the perfect slump buster, a terrific blend of mystery, puzzles, and overall entertainment I was looking for and I cannot wait to read the second in the series.  Don’t let the young adult tag deter you, this is a delightful book that adults with imagination will enjoy.

Continue reading “The Inheritance Games”

The Mountains Sing

I host a book club at my library which was started last year during the first few months of the pandemic. At the time, the books we read were mostly mysteries or whatever books we were able to get our hands on easily while in quarantine. With the start of the new year, I took the opportunity to really think about a theme for the year.  With everything going on in the world and in an effort to introduce different books and authors to my community, I chose the theme of ownvoices.  The first book I chose was Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai first English novel, “The Mountains Sing.”  While historical fiction is a genre I don’t normally gravitate towards, I’m so glad I decided to read this book. Not only is it a phenomenal book and taught me things I never knew about the Vietnam War, it also led to a fantastic discussion and I would highly recommend it to all readers.

Continue reading “The Mountains Sing”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑