Sunday, December 10, 2017

Review: Christmas Secrets

"A charming rogue-turned-vicar, Will wants to prove that he left his rakish days behind him, but an accidental kiss changes all his plans. His secret could bring them together...or divide them forever.

Holly has two Christmas wishes this year; finally earn her mother's approval by gaining the notice of a handsome earl, and learn the identity of the stranger who gave her a heart-shattering kiss...even if that stranger is the resident Christmas ghost."

I am very particular about certain things, if you can't tell by my reviews.  I largely avoid Christmas tales, because they so often miss the mark, and I sometimes avoid historical tales because I spend too much time picking out anachronisms when the tale fails to enthrall me.

Fortunately, neither of these things was an issue with Donna Hatch's Christmas Secrets.  It felt like a combination of Downton Abbey and Doctor Who, not for the time period, but because we were dropped into a world with mannerisms and expectations and knew that every character had a rich history that we would work through by the end in one form or another.

It's a story in which people find adventure in the ordinary and stolen kisses do not turn out as intended.  The story itself is an enjoyable comedy of errors at time, but a heart-warming approach to finding happiness in others.  That really is how most of my favorite Christmas tales go (Miracle on 34th Street and It's A Wonderul Life), so I found myself forgetting genre and fact-checking to go along for the ride.  (Though I did check out some of the things I was unfamiliar with because they fascinated me.)


Donna Hatch is the award-winning author of over a dozen books including the best-selling
"Rogue Hearts Series.” A hopeless romantic and adventurer at heart, she discovered her writing passion at the tender age of 8 and has been listening to those voices ever since. She is a sought-after workshop presenter, and juggles freelance editing, multiple volunteer positions, and most of all, her six children (seven, counting her husband). A native of Arizona who recently transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she and her husband of over twenty years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Review: Dating the It Guy

 Genre:  Contemporary, Young Adult
Publisher: Clean Reads
Publication date: March 21, 2017
Emme is a sophomore in high school who starts dating, Brendon Agretti, the popular senior who happens to be a senator’s son and well-known for his good looks. Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon’s world and it doesn’t help that his picture perfect ex, Lauren, seems determined to get back into his life, along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti. Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend cheated on her and her whole world is off kilter with her family issues. Life suddenly seems easier keeping Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her. Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses. Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work? Life sure is complicated when you’re dating the it guy.

Besides mining her teen years and humiliating moments for her novels, Krysten is also a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. Krysten writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, and Competing with the Star (The Star Series: Book 2). Her debut novel, True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book. Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times and on Living Dayton.

I have to say that I enjoy it when an author manages to write high school without turning it into an episode of Gossip Girl.  (I have almost no problems if they want it to resemble Buffy: The Vampire-Slayer, but that's a subject for another post.)  I read a lot of YA books wherein high school bears no resemblance to how life worked at my alma mater and sometimes, that's hilariously refreshing and sometimes it just annoys me that the author can't seem to grasp how teenagers think.

This book does not have that problem.  Whether talking about a flaky group project partner, stains that won't come out of your Homecoming dress, or someone complaining about having bombed their French quiz, it felt like a very natural environment.  The main characters meet in a summer school class that Emme is taking because the local newspaper rescinded her internship when they forgot to mention that she needed to be 16 and have her own car.  On her birthday, she gets an awesome present that costs a ton (she's dating an It Guy after all), but he stops and makes them compare class schedules for the upcoming school year.  All of the characters dress like normal teenagers and go to their parents for help paying for a special occasion.

The twist comes with the interactions with the eponymous It Guy, who doesn't seem to understand that he needs to have a better balance between having a good college application and having a good relationship with the girl he's dating.  He skips an event that's very important to her to host a charity auction, which would annoy me, too.  He's grown up as the son of a prominent politician, so is used to being a people-pleaser who doesn't always know when to have quality time one-on-one.  It was a source of frustration to me that he kept missing this point, so I'm glad that there was character development talking about not only his response to the concern, but how Emme felt about the dynamic. 

This is definitely a clean read overall, but the characters make frequent references to who is probably sleeping around and gold-digging and there is public intoxication involving high school students at one point.