Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Mini Reviews

I write a lot of book reviews. (Many of you are saying, "duh," right now.) But did you know that I read more books than I review? Over the past year, I've read a handful of books that, for whatever reason, I didn't review. But I do have thoughts about them (of course I do!), so I thought I'd do a mini review wrap up of the ones I remember reading.

Seven Days of You by Cecilia Venesse

There is no doubt that Seven Days of You is a compelling, enjoyable novel. I read it in under a day because I just had to see what would happen next!

However ...

It makes me sad that this is the type of content our teens are reading.

While there was no explicit sexual content, sex was a frequent topic of conversation, and the extreme promiscuity of a certain character was a major plot point. Also, while I'm not bothered by a swear word here and there, there is so much swearing in this book. It strikes me as wholly inappropriate for teens, and, frankly, probably inappropriate for me, too. 2 stars.

The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson

I'm not sure words can even adequately describe just how much I loved this novel! It's easily the best Beauty and the Beast adaptation I've read, that's for sure.

Annabel is honorable, of that there is no doubt. After her father's death, her family became poor ... yet they shirked their responsibilities to the lord, leaving Annabel with one of two options: become an indentured servant to Lord Ranulf to pay off her family's debts, or wed the loathsome bailiff, who promised to forgive her family's debt if she married him. She chooses what seems to be the better option, working for the lord, but then discovers that the bailiff will be around all of the time.

It's a story of love, misunderstanding, and danger, and it's absolutely my favorite of all of Melanie Dickerson's Hagenheim series. The only reason it didn't get a full review is that I started writing it and then got busy doing required reviews and forgot about it. But it's absolutely fantastic; trust me! 5 stars.

Keep Holding On by Melissa Tagg

I have to admit, I didn't like Beckett Walker as a hero nearly as much as I liked his brother Logan (hero of Like Never Before). Beckett was just too ... can I use "flighty" for a guy? That's not to say he's unlikable—he's actually incredibly charismatic—he's just not the type of guy I'd want. For Kit Danby, though, he's perfect.

Kit and Beckett have chemistry in spades ... I loved watching them stutter-step toward a relationship. But more than the relationship, I enjoyed the journey Kit took throughout the book. (What was Kit's journey? I don't remember! I wrote that much of this review right after I read the book ... nearly a year ago. What I do remember is loving the book 😀.) 4-1/2 stars.

Love Life by Rob Lowe

Full disclosure: I requested this book (as an audiobook) from the library because I was hoping Lowe would talk about his experience on The Grinder, a phenomenal, gone-far-too-soon comedy that aired on FOX. However, it turns out Lowe wrote this book prior to being cast on The Grinder ... quite unfortunately, as I heard him speak lovingly about it on a podcast once upon a time.

So the book itself: it feels like a mishmash of stories—some interesting, others not so much. It's not written in anything even resembling chronological order, which always bugs me when I'm reading a biography or autobiography. Also, if you're listening/reading and you come to the part about Lowe getting into the pool at the Playboy Mansion, trust me and skip ahead. Nobody needs to hear that story.

For the most part, the book is entertaining, and I did learn a very helpful memorization trick. But I'm not sure it was actually a good use of my time to listen to this book. 3 stars.

Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe

This is Lowe's first memoir, and it is so. much. better. than Love Life. For one thing, it's written in chronological order, so it's easy to follow. My guess is that Love Life is comprised of a lot of stories that had to be cut from Stories I Only Tell My Friends, and that's why it feels so scattered. Stories I Only Tell My Friends, though, is so incredibly fascinating. Lowe talks about his rise to fame and spends a lot of time on his experience with The Outsiders (a film I now think I must find and watch). He also talks about his alcoholism, his wife and sons, The West Wing ... and lots of the celebrities he's known over the years. I listened to the audiobook, which Lowe reads, and I loved every minute of it. 4 stars.

Acting Married by Victorine E. Lieske

I love marriage of convenience stories—and Lieske writes clean ones that often show up free for Kindle. In Acting Married, Tara reluctantly agrees to marry movie star Rick to help him rehab his image. And, of course, they end up falling in love. Not everything in the novel makes sense (I can't remember what, just a week after reading the book, but I do remember a couple plot points were head-scratchers), but Tara and Rick have loads of chemistry, and it is an enjoyable read that contains no objectionable content. 3 stars.

Miss Christmas by Gigi Garrett

While Miss Christmas has an interesting premise, there is zero chemistry between Holly and Sam. In fact, when Holly impulsively kisses Sam about 3/4 of the way through the novella, my first thought was, "Why did she even want to do that?" Also, Joe, the nine-year-old whose letter brings Holly to the tree in the first place, speaks like he's an adult. Then there are the cameos by Taylor Swift, Matt Lauer, and Al Roker, which felt completely contrived. There was a lack of authenticity to the story that bothered me.

That said, it is a clean, fast Christmas read; I just didn't really care about the characters or the plot. 2 stars.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, as read by Anne Hathaway, was my mowing listen over the summer. I've never been a fan of the movie (I was terrified by the monkeys when I first saw it at age 5 or 6), but the audiobook came highly recommended, plus it was (and still is) just 99 cents.

I loved it!

I was surprised at just how many changes the movie made. The book isn't nearly as scary or suspenseful, and it contains much more story. If your only exposure to The Wizard of Oz is the film, then you definitely need to give the book a chance—it's simply delightful. 4-1/2 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Seven Days of You free through NetGalley. The rest I purchased myself. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


  1. I read Rob Lowe's first one - Stories I Only Tell My Friends
    And, while it was entertaining, I didn't even really cared for that. I just felt he was so full of himself! I was such a fan of his but this book made me re-think my views of him :-(

    1. I can see how he could come across that way! I really loved his stories, though :-)


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