Review: One Plus One

One Plus One, Jojo Moyes

Amanda

To be published July 1st 2014 by Penguin Group Viking

384 pages

Source: NetGalley

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From Goodreads…

Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.

I will not deny that I’m a bit obsessed with Jojo Moyes right now.  I thought Me Before You was one of the best books I read last year and so I’m willing to read anything she writes right now.

As One Plus One begins we meet poor Jess.  As we learn about her life I just wanted to give her a hug.  She owns a cleaning business with her best friend Natalie.  Jess supports herself, her 10 year-old daughter Tanzie, and her teenage step-son Nicky all while her husband is basically loafing off an alleged bout of depression and not sending any financial or moral help.

Moyes makes you feel like you’re right there in the housing estate (British public housing)  that Jess lives in with her family and makes your heart hurt for their struggles.  Tanzie is too smart for her school and Nicky is just too different to be accepted by his peers.  Jess meets Ed, who comes to her off as a rich jerk, totally oblivious to the people around him such as the woman who cleans his house. Yes, Ed has major problems of his own –what with an insider trading accusation coming up and causing him to flee London — but he while he might be oblivious he is not really the jerk he originally comes of as. He has lost sight of what’s important and through Jess and her kids he’s given a chance to find himself again.

Tanzie is given an opportunity to compete in a Math Olympiad in Scotland and the cash winnings would be life changing for this family. The fates conspire against Jess being able to get her there to compete on time and so Ed becomes the family’s only hope.  Ed’s new luxury car filled with Jess, Tanzie, Nicky and their smelly but unfailingly loyal dog Norman.

Yes, I found the road trip to be slightly silly and unrealistic- but what I loved was the moments Jess and Ed had and the experience this family had together.  They were sad at times and hilarious at times.  I loved Jess, but Nicky’s story particularly broke my heart as I was reading, so I also really loved getting the perspective from him.  This was a story about love, about choosing to make your own family and about standing up for what’s right.  You can easily get past the silly feeling you get with the road trip and just enjoy the ride.

4 stars!

Thank you NetGalley and Penguin Group Viking for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion.

Review: Make It Count

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Make It Count, Megan Erikson (Bowler University #1)

Amanda

Published June 3rd 2014 by William Morrow Impulse

384 pages

Source: Edelweiss

We’re excited to be part of the blog tour today for Megan Erickson’s debut new adult Make it Count! I think I’d have had fun at Bowler University!

20705734Kat Caruso wishes her brain had a return policy, or at least a complaint hot-line. The defective organ is constantly distracted, terrible at statistics, and absolutely flooded with inappropriate thoughts about her boyfriend’s gorgeous best friend, Alec…who just so happens to be her brand new math tutor. Who knew nerd was so hot?

Kat usually goes through tutors like she does boyfriends—both always seem to bail when they realize how hopeless she is. It’s safer for her heart to keep everyone at arm’s reach. But Alec is always stepping just a little too close.

Alec Stone should not be fantasizing about Kat. She’s adorable, unbelievably witty, and completely off limits. He’d never stab his best friend in the back…

But when secrets are revealed, the lines of loyalty are blurred. To make it count, Alec must learn messy human emotions can’t be solved like a trigonometry function. And Kat has to trust Alec may be the first guy to want her for who she is, and not in spite of it.

In Make It Count we meet Kat, a college student struggling with statistics (if you didn’t struggle too I don’t want to know you) and working her way through multiple tutors.  When her boyfriend’s snarky roommate is assigned as her next tutor she’s almost ready to give up rather than admit she needs help.  She does not expect to befriend and then fall for hunky Alec.

Make it Count was a fun and funny read, but still touched on some serious ideas.  I was not sure how much I’d like Kat at first honestly.  She’s struggled in school all her life and seemed close to giving up when we meet her.  I was afraid she’d simply rely too much on her looks.  But when she’s confronted with the idea of a learning disability, she takes it all in and shows what a strong woman she is.  I thought Erickson did a fantastic job of bringing in Kat’s dyslexia-not something you read about every day-but Kat was so much more than the dyslexia.  She’s funny and loyal and really a believable character.  I loved how she stood up for herself all around!

Let me say this book got HOT and steamy.  Alec apparently can be a tutor of many things.  Wow. I should say, Alec was more than a hunk too.  He was encouraging and sweet-very swoonworthy!

I look forward to reading more about Bowler University! Make it Count was about Kat and Alec yes, but Erickson’s other characters were funny and intriguing.  They felt like real friends you’d have in college-not cookie cutter plot devices.   I’m definitely going to have to read Make it Right when its out!

4 stars!

Enter HERE for a chance to win Make it Count or a Starbucks gift card and Make it Count swag pack!

Thank you Edelweiss and William Morrow Impulse  for this advanced read copy in exchange for an honest opinion!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour for Make it Count!

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Review: Bird After Bird

Bird After Bird, Leslea Tash

Amanda

Published April 6, 2014 by Fido Publishing

290 pages

Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads…

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Dear Birdy, Princess Birdzilla von MuffinStuff, Keeper of Dreams, Lover of our Fine Feathered Friends, queen of my life and light of my world, I hope this letter finds you well. If you are reading this then I am gone, and sweetheart, I am so sorry.

Chi-town professional Wren Riley is 25 and a rising star in the business world. She can eat a man alive and laugh about it to her girlfriends in seconds flat–and she does, on the regular. Behind the power suits and the flashing, flirty eyes, however, Wren has a secret, vulnerable side. Following a devastating loss and the discovery of a bird journal she and her father made together years before, Wren sets out to seek peace, closure, and something she just can’t name. Is that something tied to the little paper cranes she keeps finding along the way?

Laurence Byrd grew up a lanky Hoosier kid with the good/bad fortune of having the same name as the state’s perennial basketball legend. With a better affinity for dogs than sports or school, he ends up in the Army instead of the Chicago art school of his dreams. Still, his service to our country is something he can be proud of–until an argument with the girl who means the world to him results in a series of events that blows his life apart. With no one left to understand him, black sheep Laurie pours out his heart into letters and drawings he never intends to send–then he folds them into paper cranes that he leaves behind like messages in little winged bottles. He never dreams someone might be finding them.

God damn it, Sylvia, for a few moments I tricked myself into feeling really alive. I cut it off before anyone got hurt, but just for a moment or two, I really thought I might feel something again–something like trust. Something like love. Not the kind of love we had, but something new. Something like hope.

Spoiler alert: Wren and Laurie are going to meet. And when they do, their lives are never going to be the same.

Thank you Fido Publishing and NetGalley for this advanced read copy in exchange for an honest review.

We meet Wren Riley visiting her hometown a year after her father’s death.  She’s just read a letter her dad wrote her knowing he was dying, so she’s understandably a mess.  Wren stops to try to freshen up after the letter and meets Laurie for the first time.  I thought the meeting was cute and I liked the potential Wren and Laurie sparked in this brief time they spent together.

Sadly, that is mostly what I liked about this romance, the potential.  I liked Wren and Laurie individually, but it seemed to me that Tash put too much into Laurie as a character and not enough into Wren.  Why is Wren known as a maneater?  I’d have rather read those details then the details of the business deal she put together.  Or in the end I’d have like to see Wren’s choices fleshed out more rather than just a vague plan.  I loved the letters from her dad and her plan to redo their birding trip-where was the rest of that?

Then we have Laurie, poor Laurie.  He has PTSD, his fiance and dog died, his mom is abusive, he didn’t get into art school, he’s in therapy with a lesbian nun and his best friend is a redneck.  He sounds like a country song!  His letters to Sylvia, the dead fiance, are very sweet as are his origami cranes. I wish there had been more focus on one or two aspects of Laurie’s life rather than a laundry list of issues.

Some of the scenes with Laurie and Wren were very sweet and touching, but some of the dialog was off for me.  Laurie visits with the parents of his deceased fiance and finds her father proudly offering him lemonade made with a recipe from Pinterest.  I really can’t imagine any of the men I know bragging about Pinterest finds!  Some of the language was too old-fashioned-i.e. Wren calling out “Ladies and gents!”  Some just wrong for the character in my mind, i.e. Laurie talking to his dog “You blasted mutt!”  This was just awkward in the flow of my reading.

Parts of this book were really sweet and I did really like Laurie and Wren together in the end.  This was a cute read, but for me just took too long to get to where it needed to go.

2 stars