Monday, May 20, 2024

All's Fair in Love and War - Review

All's Fair in Love and War (Miss Prentice's Protegees, # 1)

By: Virginia Heath

Expected Publication: May 28, 2024 by St. Martin's Griffin

384 pages

Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction

( Goodreads | Amazon )

*Note: The above link to Amazon is an affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--A new Regency romp of a series, about governess who believes in cultivating joy in her charges, clashes with the children's uncle who hired her, only to find herself falling in love.

When the flighty older sister of former naval captain, Henry Kincaid, decides on a whim to accompany her explorer husband on an expedition to Egypt, he finds himself unwittingly left in the lurch with her three unruly children and her giant, mad dog. With no clue how to manage the little rascals, a busy career at the Admiralty that requires all of his attention, and no idea when his sister is coming back, Harry has to hire an emergency governess to ensure that everything in his ordered house continues to run shipshape. In desperation, he goes to Miss Prentice’s School for Girls prepared to pay whatever it takes to get a governess quick sharp to bring order to the chaos.

Thanks to her miserable, strict upbringing, fledgling governess Georgina Rowe does not subscribe to the ethos that children should be seen and not heard. She believes childhood should be everything that hers wasn’t, filled with laughter, adventure, and discovery. Thankfully, the three Pendleton children she has been tasked with looking after are already delightfully bohemian and instantly embrace her unconventional educational ethos. Their staid, stickler-for-the-rules uncle, however, is another matter entirely…

Georgina's parents died when she was young. Her father died first in a carriage accident, and her mother died several years later from smallpox. Before her mother died, she remarried a Colonel. Georgina's stepfather took care of her until she was sixteen and sent to Miss Prentice's school to learn how to be a governess. Georgina has chaffed against rules and regulations and has a difficult time biting her tongue. She might have been practiced at doing so, having lived most of her formidable years with the Colonel. But she can't seem to keep quiet during interviews and thus far hasn't landed a job yet despite thirty-three interviews. She's desperate. 

Harry grew up in a chaotic house. His parents loved him, but his grandfather was an Admiral in the navy and took Harry under his wing. The rules and structure of the navy seemed to suit Harry well. And he followed his grandfather's path from then on. His sister, Flora followed after their parents, and she now lives a much more free lifestyle. So free that Flora and her husband leave on a trip to Egypt without their children without even discussing the particulars of it with Harry. Doesn't seem too odd until you factor in that they plan to leave their children under Harry's care. Given Harry's background managing men in the navy, I find it odd that the children could manipulate him so easily, but I suppose emotions often blind us. And I'm 100% sure my own children emotionally manipulate me as well. 

Harry freaks out because he has no time to watch his nieces and nephew, and he doesn't know what to do with them. So he goes to Miss Prentice to find a temporary governess. Being desperate himself, he takes Georgie on without a second thought. Only Georgie isn't really following what he expects a governess to do. The description makes it seem that these two are constantly bickering over the way the children are taught, but truthfully, that takes very little of the plot of this book. Harry is drawn to Georgie physically from early on. He knows he must maintain his distance. Georgie doesn't even like Harry at first. So this isn't an instalove story. Her feelings soften and change over time.

I do have to say that this is the fourth book I've read by Virginia Heath. I found it to be completely predictable given the other books I've read by her. It seems she might have a pattern. But I would have preferred some unpredictability. Surprise me dagnabit! However, 'twas not to be. 

The predictability played a big role in my enjoyment of this book. It was exactly as I was expecting. And sometimes a book meeting your expectations is a wonderful thing. In this case, I was left wanting (not in a good way). Harry and Georgie were likable. I found a few things in their characters to be odd, considering the backgrounds of both. But humans aren't robots and just because we expect a certain outcome doesn't mean we always get it. So maybe those things could be explained away. I will say that Virginia Heath is good at getting me to feel invested in the characters, so I do want to keep reading her future books to see how the secondary characters' stories play out. But at this point, I expect those to be a little predictable, too. All's Fair in Love and War gets 3.5 Stars. Have you read All's Fair in Love and War? What did you think? Let me know!

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Sunday Post - 05/19/24

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ The Caffeinated Book Reviewer ~this meme was inspired in part by ~ In My Mailbox~ It's a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog.

This was a super busy week. Big Boy's closing ceremony was Monday night for baseball. Husband had to go to Massachusettes for work on Tuesday. We went to the park and got groceries. Then Big Girl had a softball game that night. Wednesday was a mostly normal day. Thursday, we met a friend at the splash pad. Then we came back to our house to swim. Thursday night was Big Girl's last softball game. Friday was Little Boy's last day of school/mother's day out for the summer. Husband got home from his work trip Friday evening right before the kids went to bed. Then Saturday morning Big Girl and I went to Disney on Ice to see Frozen and Encanto with some friends. That was a good time. We got back late in the afternoon. I've also been battling a cough for well over a week now. I'm quite ready for a more normal (slower) week this week. I haven't don't much reading, although I have listened to some audiobooks. Old Netflix has sucked me in again.

Monday: Review of I Wish You Would by Eva Des Lauriers (3 Stars)
Wednesday: Can't Wait for 'Til Heist Do Us Part by Sara Desai
Friday: Homeschool Friday - The Haunted Scavenger Hunt (2 Stars)

UPCOMING THIS WEEK:

Monday: Review of All's Fair in Love and War (Miss Prentice's Proteges, # 1) by Virginia Heath
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday?
Wednesday: Can't Wait for Wednesday?
Friday: Homeschool Friday
Saturday: 2024 Series Enders Reading Challenge - May Wrap Up

Don’t forget to link up for the 2024 Series Enders Reading Challenge! You have until December 15th, 2024 to sign up. Each month there will be a giveaway for those participating with an end of the year giveaway too! Click on the picture below or the link above to find out more!

NEW BOOKS:

No new books.

That's it for my shelves and recaps of my past and upcoming week. What did you add to your shelves this week? Any bookish news you want to talk about? Let me know!

Friday, May 17, 2024

Homeschool Friday - The Haunted Scavenger Hunt

Homeschool Friday is a feature here at Somewhere Only We Know that showcases books my family reads during homeschool and provides a mini-review for each.

The Haunted Scavenger Hunt: A Spook-tacular Storybook

By: Steve Patschke

Illustrator: Roland Garrigue

Expected Publication: July 2, 2024 by Templar

40 pages

Genre: Children's, Humor, Halloween

Source: Publisher via Edelweiss (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon )

*Note: The above link to Amazon is an affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--A delightfully spooky and funny Halloween story

When four friends find a mysterious box with the message “Don’t look at it, don’t touch it, don’t open it!”, they decide that they have to know what’s inside. And so they end up on a haunted Halloween scavenger hunt that leads them to the basement of a spooky house. But one by one, a friend goes missing as the group gets closer to discovering the mystery behind the clues. Will they be able to reach the surprise at the end? This humorous Halloween page-turning story begs to be read aloud again and again.

My kids love scavenger hunts, and they love Halloween. So I thought I would check out this book. Unfortunately, I didn't love it. The illustrations were nice and spooky. Very Halloweenish. But I didn't love the messaging.

Four friends stumble upon a box that says not to open it. They open it. It says not to follow the map. They follow it. They come to a door that says don't open it. They open it. A voice says not to go down the dark hallway. They go down it. They come to a door that again says don't open it. And there's only one friend left by this point. She opens it. But what's at the end of the hunt is a glorious party for the last girl. Since becoming a parent, I'm more interested in the messages that my kids are getting, and I don't love the messaging of doing the opposite of what you're told or asked to do. Of course, the other friends were in on the surprise party. So one could argue that they knew what was waiting for Sarah at the end and they were trying to influence her in a positive direction. But the overall message is to ignore the stop and maybe there's a big happy surprise for you at the end of the journey.

I know, I know...I'm reading too much into this. But I'd rather read a book to my kids where the kids who didn't listen to the stops came face to face with a scary evil monster. Or about kids who listened and got rewarded. Or even about some kids just doing a fun scavenger hunt that may have been a little spooky but they pushed through their fears and were rewarded with a fun party at the end.

The Haunted Scavenger Hunt gets 2 Stars. Have you read The Haunted Scavenger Hunt? What did you think? Let me know!

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Can't Wait for 'Til Heist Do Us Part

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings to spotlight and talk about the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released as well. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine. Find out more here.

'Til Heist Do Us Part

By: Sara Desai

Expected Publication: August 20, 2024 by Berkley

368 pages

Genre: Adult, Contemporary, India

( Goodreads | Amazon )

*Note: The above link to Amazon is an affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Diamond necklaces, billionaires, Mafia bosses, and student loans—it’s all in a day’s work for Simi Chopra and her ragtag heist crew in the next romantic-comedy caper from Sara Desai.It’s been a year since Simi Chopra’s motley crew pulled off a high-wire diamond necklace heist with the help of sexy rogue Jack Danger. After living it up on the reward money, they're back where they started, struggling to pay their bills. So when a Chicago Mafia boss demands they return the jewels—plus interest, or else—they need to get the team back together…and fast.Unfortunately, Simi soon discovers that the necklace is in the hands of Jack's nemesis, a highly-skilled and supremely vengeful master thief who is not above a little blackmail to get even. (Did Jack really have to piss her off?) Now, the crew is forced into her working her con in order to get the necklace back. As if Simi needed any more complications while trying to rob a billionaire’s mansion, she and Jack are on the rocks, someone else is after her score, and a gorgeous detective is hot on her tail. Simi better be careful or she’ll end up in the less fun kind of handcuffs.

What are you guys waiting on this week? Let me know!

Monday, May 13, 2024

I Wish You Would - Review

I Wish You Would

By: Eva Des Lauriers

Expected Publication: May 21, 2024 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

280 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

( Goodreads | Amazon )

*Note: The above link to Amazon is an affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--In this drama-filled love story, private confessions are scattered on the beach during a senior class overnight and explosive secrets threaten to tear everyone apart, including best friends (or maybe more?), Natalia and Ethan.

It’s Senior Sunrise, the epic overnight at the beach that kicks off senior year. But for Natalia and Ethan, it’s the first time seeing each other after what happened at junior prom―when they almost crossed the line from best friends to something more and ruined everything. After ghosting each other all summer, Natalia is desperate to pretend she doesn’t care and Ethan is desperate to fix his mistake.

When the senior class carries out their tradition of writing private letters to themselves―what they wish they would do this year if they were braver―Natalia pours her heart out. So does Ethan. So does everyone in their entire class. But in Natalia’s panicked attempt to retrieve her heartfelt confession, the wind scatters seven of the notes across the beach. Now, Ethan and Natalia are forced to work together to find the lost letters before any secrets are revealed―especially their own.

Seven private confessions. Seven time bombs loose for anyone to find. And one last chance before the sun rises for these two to fall in love.

Sigh...I'm struggling with what to say about I Wish You Would. I got sucked in quickly, which was nice since I've picked up and put down about 4 or 5 books lately because they didn't snag my attention quickly. I read this book quickly, but I had two major complaints. Let's get into the story.

Natalia and Ethan have been best friends for years. They made a pact in freshman year that if they were still virgins by senior year, they would use each other to change that. First of all, I think that's completely idiotic, and if this information had been in the description, I probably would have skipped this book. Why would "just friends" even consider making a pact like that? It makes no sense. And the reasons that Natalia shared were bogus as all get out. Anyway, after junior prom, they had a moment where they considered calling in the pact. But Natalia made a comment that spooked Ethan, and he backed out knowing that he couldn't cross that line with her without changing their relationship. Natalia takes his backing out as rejection. These two could have rendered this book pointless if they'd just had a simple conversation. Honestly, I don't love it when books are centered around one or two big misunderstandings. 

Natalia is the student council president, and it's her job to organize these events for the school, like Senior Sunrise. Like the pact that Natalia and Ethan made, I found the entire idea about Senior Sunrise and writing these bravery letters to themselves bogus. I mean this is one of those things that sounds good, but the execution would never work. If this is an event the school holds every year (not the camping part, but the letter-writing part), there's no way that people's personal secrets being shared or exposed has never happened or come up before if they keep them in some jar for a big burning ceremony. It only makes sense to burn those suckers immediately if you're going to have some big event like this. But also, why does a group need to come together for individuals to write a letter like this to themselves? Why isn't this an exercise that each kid could do on their own time in the privacy of their own home and dispose of in whatever way they want to? If you were going to have some bogus tradition like this in the first place, that is. 

I could continue describing the events of the book, but honestly, I don't feel the need to do so. Even though I've complained already, one of my biggest two complaints was that there was so much drama. Do you guys know how video content creators have learned to cut clips to different camera angles and to hype the drama so that people's brains are engaged and never bored? Well, I felt like the writing in this book was the equivalent of watching some of those YouTubers who play video games and hype their videos so much that it feels ultra-intense the entire time. One minute Natalia's running away, and Ethan's chasing her. Only for them to have the briefest of conversations that didn't actually move them any closer to a real discussion of their emotions or the secrets they're hiding from each other, only for Ethan to run away from Natalia, and then her to chase him right back. The back and forth was like watching a yo-yo go up and down. That's not even to include the actual events the characters experienced or were struggling with.

The book featured essentially 10 characters (not including the adults). Of those 10, four were LGBTQIA, two adults were sexual predators of some sort, and one of the LGBTQIA identified as a they/them. Guys...this makes no sense whatsoever. The character "identifies" as an individual but uses plural pronouns. I don't understand how we've gotten to this place. One character was a bully. Bullying used to be pushed in every young adult book for a period, but now apparently, the criteria for mainstream publications is to have at least one they/them character. We also had 2 characters that were "persons of color". Unnecessary information if you ask me, except the characters have to experience adversity because of their races. I only mention this because it felt like we were checking all the boxes in a leftist agenda. This felt like the exact narrative that certain individuals want to portray as a typical American experience, but I just don't see this where I live. Maybe it's because the book takes place in California. Again, had I known this was the cast of characters this book would feature, I would have skipped this book. 

All of that said, I find it hard to rate this book. On the one hand, I read it quickly. I was interested in finding out what happened to Natalia and Ethan. I wanted to see them resolve their issues. But I also had so many logistical issues with this story...the plot, the characters, the writing method, the drama. All of it was just too much for me to truly enjoy this book. Overall, I guess the best rating I can come up with for I Wish You Would is 3 Stars. Have you read I Wish You Would? What did you think? Let me know!