Friday, March 27, 2015

[Book Review] The One That Got Away by Bethany Chase

The One That Got AwayThe One That Got Away by Bethany Chase
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: As a member of Penguin's First To Read Program, I received this galley in exchange for an honest review.

Part 1: From The Book Cover

Perfect for fans of Emily Giffin and Jennifer Weiner, this bright, funny debut from a fresh voice in fiction offers a delicious take on love, family, and what it means to build a home of one’s own.

Sarina Mahler thinks she has her life all nailed down: a growing architecture practice in Austin, Texas, and an any-day-now proposal from her loving boyfriend, Noah. She’s well on her way to having the family she’s hoped for since her mother’s death ten years ago. But with Noah on a temporary assignment abroad and retired Olympic swimmer — and former flame — Eamon Roy back in town asking her to renovate his new fixer-upper, Sarina’s life takes an unexpected turn.

Eamon proves to be Sarina’s dream client, someone who instinctively trusts every one of her choices — and Sarina is reminded of all the reasons she was first drawn to him back in the day. Suddenly her carefully planned future with Noah seems a little less than perfect. And when tragedy strikes, Sarina is left reeling. With her world completely upended, she is forced to question what she truly wants in life — and in love.

Full of both humor and heartbreak, The One That Got Away is the story of one woman’s discovery that, sometimes, life is what happens when you leave the blueprints behind.

Part 2: Recommendation

"It was so blessedly effortless to be with him: he was seven years older, seven years kinder, and it was obvious from the moment I met him ... He would never dream of cheating on me at all ... I was certain that when the sun rose the next day, he'd want to spend it with me ... Just like that sunrise, he'd always be there." For every relationship, there should be a degree of trust and knowing that your partner is someone you can depend on makes for a stable relationship.

From what I gather, Sarina is roughly 31 years old and Eamon is about 29 years old but then the way Sarina acts outside of work, is that of a 25 year old when it comes to drinking and partying and even worse, she acts like an over dramatic 18 year old when it comes to Eamon which I find highly unrealistic because the 30 year old women that I know don't act anywhere near how the author portrayed Sarina. I did admire her sexual self-restrain and fighting her growing attraction to Eamon while she was still in a relationship with Noah and I definitely appreciated the fact that Sarina has shown mostly good work ethic again, except around Eamon.

I also don't like the fact that Sarina is still in a relationship with Noah and yet she snuggles up with Eamon during a wedding weekend and to make matters complicated, Eamon is quickly becoming a friend and is also a client. I feel that Serena should've acted more professional despite her growing attraction towards Eamon because that is what 30-year-old adult, mature women do.

"Kind, loving, loyal Noah, who I've spent the last 4 years building a life with, apparently doesn't mean a thing to me when Eamon Roy tells me he wants me. The realization makes my chest constrict with panic, and it is this more than anything that makes me say no." It was good to see Sarina struggle and eventually decline Eamon's invitation to go back into bed that morning she stayed over to nurse him back to health.

Overall, this is a well-written, sweet fiction that tells every woman struggling with building their own business that persistence and hard work pays off. There's enough drama and character struggle to keep the story moving forward and interesting. But other than that, it's an okay book. I might have been able to enjoy it more if I wasn't so bothered by Sarina's actions around Eamon.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

[Book Review] The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman

The Fair FightThe Fair Fight by Anna Freeman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: As a member of Penguin's First to Read program, I received this galley in exchange for an honest review.

Part 1: From The Book Cover

The Crimson Petal and the White meets Fight Club: A page-turning novel set in the world of female pugilists and their patrons in late eighteenth-century England.

Moving from a filthy brothel to a fine manor house, from the world of street fighters to the world of champions, The Fair Fight is a vivid, propulsive historical novel announcing the arrival of a dynamic new talent.

Born in a brothel, Ruth doesn’t expect much for herself beyond abuse. While her sister’s beauty affords a certain degree of comfort, Ruth’s harsh looks set her on a path of drudgery. That is until she meets pugilist patron George Dryer and discovers her true calling—fighting bare knuckles in the prize rings of Bristol.

Manor-born Charlotte has a different cross to bear. Scarred by smallpox, stifled by her social and romantic options, and trapped in twisted power games with her wastrel brother, she is desperate for an escape.

After a disastrous, life-changing fight sidelines Ruth, the two women meet, and it alters the perspectives of both of them. When Charlotte presents Ruth with an extraordinary proposition, Ruth pushes dainty Charlotte to enter the ring herself and learn the power of her own strength.

A gripping, page-turning story about people struggling to transcend the circumstances into which they were born and fighting for their own places in society, The Fair Fight is a raucous, intoxicating tale of courage, reinvention, and fighting one’s way to the top.

Part 2: Recommendation

"In our house, a girl's worth could be counted out in pounds, shillings, and pence, and that was all the worth that mattered... It's the same choice children are given the world over: be of service or be gone." This line I found to be true for both rich and poor kids. For the rich it is to prepare their children to take over the family business one day and grow the business and for the poor, it is to help bring in money to feed the family.

Ma's character is a shrew but a very good business woman as proven by the line "Ma charged a good rate... The cullies paid it, because Ma never would stand to see a cull robbed at the convent...There were houses like ours where a fellow had to keep an eye on his coat and boots, never mind his pocket-watch, but Ma wouldn't stomach it and all the neighborhood knew it." which is good business practice.

I found Dora to be quite cruel when she said, "But no one will pay you, Ruth, to sleep or otherwise."

"Mine wasn't a mug any young lad would find to make sheep-eyes at. And yet—there he was. I hated him, and yet I looked for him too." This line from Ruth made me smile because eventually, she falls in love with Tom's goodness and kindness.

"I had often felt great annoyance toward Perry, but never as pure a hatred as I felt then. It was so powerful that I could not hold still." Normally, a person could not hate their sibling but Perry is beyond cruel and I can understand why Charlotte feels this way towards her only living brother.

Anna Freeman efficiently sums up Perry character in this quote. "I am master of this house and you will obey me... You are willing to see me left heartbroken; I will see you left with nothing... Leave George be, or we shall all be miserable. I will never allow you to be otherwise." After reading this line, my dislike for Perry intensified and thankfully towards the second half of the book, Perry didn't speak much because most of the time he is too inebriated to talk or do anything.

"I ain't returned. I have been left. I've not had a crumb to eat for days. They've left me here." I felt bad for Ruth, for the desperation to survive that drove her to beg a man she dislikes to take her with him.

With three narrators, each telling their story that somehow continues where the other left off feels quite strange but somehow makes sense to me. I wonder if by reading all the sections from one narrator from start to finish then doing the same for the other two will make for a more enjoyable experience? I must admit that I don't care much for Ruth's voice and I don't trust George and I'm very fascinated by Charlotte because there's two sides to her personality and it was getting to Charlotte's section that kept me turning the pages because I wanted to know what happens to her and when or how she'll finally show everyone who she really is.

Overall, this is a very interesting, well-written piece of literary fiction that may or may not read the same way.

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