Book Review Saturday: Beautiful Disaster

“Consider yourself the opposite of a foregone conclusion.”

Contemporary romance novels are my guilty pleasure. I read such heavy material that I need a break, probably more than I give myself. I devoured this one in a day. Like I said, I needed a break. Beautiful Disaster is the first in the Beautiful series with multiple spin-off titles. It’s listed on several sites for books recommended if you enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey, but I would venture to say that fans would be disappointed. This isn’t smut filled with vivid sex scenes, but rather a book about unexpected love.

Abby is the good girl, or so it seems in the beginning. Travis is the bad boy covered in tattoos, that girls long to change. Abby is adamant that Travis will only be a friend, but he has other ideas. There are mixed signals, emotions and circumstances that stand in their way. Abby escaped to this small-town college to run away from her past, but Travis brings all of it back to the surface. He makes money by participating in floating fight rings, while she tries to avoid standing out. After Abby loses a bet to Travis, she is “forced” to stay with him for a month at his apartment. They grow closer, but Abby keeps her guard up and Travis makes some terrible choices. I think we all know where this is headed, but I’ll save you the spoilers. I didn’t care that I knew what was coming. I just enjoyed reading something that took me away for a bit. It made me miss college. I miss the days of only having to study, going out on dates to dive bars and restaurants, getting ready at 10pm to go out on the town, and kissing a boy for the first time. It was really a magical time, but now I’m narrowing in on 30 and it seems like centuries ago. Instead, I curl up with my boyfriend and our puppies, in pajamas that slightly resemble plaid, well before 10 o’clock because that is past my bedtime, and read these stories that take me back. Luckily, he’s better than anything a book could have imagined for me. Aren’t our own love stories always better?

A few of my friends and I added this to our book club list. They loved the book! Unfortunately, I have found that discovering similar titles in the contemporary romance genre can be rather difficult. They are dying to get their hands on another book like this one. In the meantime, they have started reading the next title in the series and have fallen for Travis’s side of the story in Walking Disaster. I would love to hear from you if you have any suggestions. Happy Reading!


Book Review Saturday: Love & Gelato

“Once I read that last entry, it was over. I’d never hear anything new from her again.”

Often, I forget how nice it is to step away from all my heavy reading and just enjoy a young adult novel. I can wrap up in a blanket, brew a cup of coffee and become completely lost in a story for hours. I was hoping to make a trip to meet with Jenna Evans Welch but due to a flat tire (why must I be an adult?), that trip was postponed. As fate would have it, I already finished the book and was packed and ready to go. Luckily, this book was just what I needed to kickstart my month of long October reads and I am planning new book trips for the upcoming year.

Love & Gelato starts off with Lina finding out about her mother’s illness. When she passes away, she requests that Lina travel to Italy to stay with an old friend, Howard. Her mother has sent a journal from her time spent in Italy to the cemetery where Howard lives. Lina becomes immersed in her journey and wishes to experience Italy in the same way as her mother once did. She quickly makes friends and even finds herself falling in love. The story bounces back and forth between Lina and her mother, but in an almost flawless way. The dual experience allows Lina to understand her mother and why she made certain life choices. I think this is a topic that is missed in most literature. The element of generations perception of one another. Most of us believe we “know” our parents, but do we really? Do we take the time to ask them questions and understand who they are? I long for my own journal from my mother so that I could share her experiences. It’s a missed opportunity for so many of us.

After reading this I need to a) try gelato and b) visit Italy…the author managed to describe both in wonderful detail and now it’s a must. The story has some secrets that come to light that will hold your attention, and who doesn’t love a good teen romance unfolding? Any of my fellow book lovers that have traveled to Italy, what is your favorite part? Are there secret bakeries scattered around cities with the good desserts? If so, I need to visit ALL of them. Happy Reading!

Book Review Friday: Something Blue

“It was love as a verb, as Rachel used to say. Love that made me more patient, more loyal, and stronger. Love that made me feel more complete than I had ever felt in my glamorous, Jimmy Choo filled past.”

Something Blue is the follow up to Something Borrowed, a story of love and lost friendships. This story follows Darcy after her wedding has been called off and she finds herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s baby. When she goes to tell her best friend about the wedding cancellation, she finds her fiancé hiding in her friend’s closet. This is basically a crazy love triangle at its finest. Darcy’s best friend is in love with her former fiancé and Darcy is sleeping with her former fiancés friend aka groomsmen in their cancelled wedding. I wish this was less complicated than it sounds but the story does flow easily. If catching your best friend with your ex fiancé of only a few hours isn’t bad enough, her boyfriend breaks up with her and wants zero involvement with the baby. Left with few options, Darcy takes a leave of absence from her job and leaves for London to stay with a childhood friend.

Darcy spends the first few weeks in London absorbed in shopping and self-pity. Her only plan is to stay with Ethan in his small apartment and daydream of the perfect man coming along. She longs for a night out but meeting Ethan’s friends’ ends up leading to a serious fight about her true nature. “He had said so many mean things, come at me from so many angles, that I was unsure how to defend myself.” She wakes up the next morning feeling her baby kick and decides to write the steps to becoming a better Darcy. As she tackles this list she finds friends, finds out she is having twin boys, begins dating her doctor, and finds out that there is more to life than being pretty and marrying a rich man.

Sometimes life throws you curveballs and you have to reevaluate yourself. I think this is a great story for anyone starting over, or looking for a good read about relationships made over. ***Spoiler Alert*** I do not like when everything works out perfectly though. I’m not sure if this makes me cynical or a realist, but the ending left me wondering how often the happily ever after works out this easily. I would have liked more time spent on Darcy discovering herself, rather than realizing she’s in love and winding up married with her friend and ex fiancé attending the wedding. Life is complicated and messy and literature should reveal that.

Happy Reading!! 

Somewhere in France

“By the summer she’d have found a place for herself in this war. She was certain of it.”

After reading The Last Summer, I was on the hunt for another war romance. I found Somewhere in France, a novel of the Great War. Lilly is born to a life of luxury, her father the Earl of Cumberland, and was not allowed to attend school or consider a career. Lilly attends a party before the war breaks out and runs into her brother’s best friend, Robbie, and is drawn back into the hopeful wishes of her youth. As the men go off to war, Lilly longs to find a way to contribute to the cause. She goes to her country home to learn to drive (without her parent’s consent) which leads to her finding her true calling in the war. I think this book was pretty predictable, but still entertaining. The romance between Lilly and Robbie brings you back to a time when letters were passed back and forth, and love had patience and strength.

I enjoyed learning about women ambulance drivers in the Great War, and the gritty side of war from a woman’s perspective was very enlightening. An interesting detail is Lilly’s employment with the WAAC, the Women’s Auxiliary Corps, which was founded to replace men with women in noncombat roles. I would love to read more about the women who volunteered for these roles, and the author adds several suggestions for further reading.

Girl in the Afternoon

“Edouard had taught her to paint the changing light, to capture a moment and let it go, to remember, always, that nothing is fixed or absolute.”

I received this as an advanced reader copy from St. Martin’s Press for an honest review.

As an avid reader of historical fiction, my thoughts on this book are biased. When I pick up a novel set in a different time period, I want to LIVE in it. I want to hear the sounds, see the sights, and literally step into the time period I’m reading. What are they wearing? What are they eating, and drinking? What is it like to walk through the streets? This book fell flat in that regard which led me to become disinterested in the story. If you like a complicated love story, this is the book for you!

We walk into a complicated family situation set into Parisian society during the Impressionist movement. I do not know a lot about art history, but it’s incorporated into historical romances frequently. We have a few art themes dropped into the story, but I felt the research was lacking on detail. There is love, betrayal, cheating, children, and the all-around classic forbidden romance. The main character is bold, and independent which really appealed to me. She is in love with her brother (not by blood), who runs away in the night for an unknown reason we all find out as the story unfolds. The storyline is easy to follow, but the author does the time skip approach throughout the novel skipping years to keep the story rolling. There is a lot of foreshadowing thrown throughout the novel to keep you on the right track, but at times I just wanted the author to just tell me already!

The family full of drama and twisted love is an interesting story, but I felt it could be set in modern times and nothing would have changed. This reads more as a romance, than any other genre. I hope to see more from this author with a richer sense of history.