Publisher: Kensington Publishing

Dating by the Book by Mary Ann Marlowe | Book Review

Posted August 14, 2019 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 4 Comments

Dating by the Book by Mary Ann Marlowe | Book ReviewDating by the Book by Mary Ann Marlowe
Published by Kensington Publishing on June 25, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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5 Stars
Is love just something you find in books?

Six months ago, writer and bookstore owner Maddie Hanson was left at the altar. Since then, she’s had zero interest in romance—despite the fact that she runs a book club full of sexy eligible bachelors. But when her latest novel is panned by an anonymous blogger who goes by the name Silver Fox—and who accuses her of knowing nothing about passion—she decides to prove her nemesis wrong by seeking a romance hero in real life . . .

There’s the smoldering rock musician, the bookish college professor, and her competitive childhood friend who may want to steal her bookstore more than her heart. Even Silver Fox is getting in on the action, sending Maddie alarmingly—and intoxicatingly—flirtatious emails. And that’s not all. Her ex wants her back.

Now Maddie is about to discover that like any good story, life has twists and turns, and love can happen when you least expect it—with the person you least expect . . .

I love books about bookish people, so when I discovered that Dating by the Book is about a woman who is an author and owns a quaint little bookshop I was immediately excited to dive in. The fact that she hosts a book club was icing on the cake for me. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. This is just a happy book. It’s so light and happy and sweet. It reads like a Hallmark movie, and we all know how much I love those. It also reminds me of the movie, You’ve Got Mail, with the cute bookshop and the mysterious emailer and the big competitor wanting to buy out the little guy. It all felt very familiar in a comfortable way.

2. Maddie is super relatable. She was left at the altar, and is anti-romance right now. She did one of those bad things authors aren’t supposed to do, and read online reviews for one of her books. I don’t know why she got so bent out of shape over a 3-star review, but she did and she let it fester and fester until she wrote to the author of the review and let him have it. A big no-no! But since this is a happy, fluffy, sweet book the two form a bit of a friendship. Luckily he doesn’t go and subtweet about her on Twitter! He claims her book wasn’t good because she doesn’t know real romance, real passion, and she sets out to prove him wrong. She’s human. She makes really dumb mistakes and has a bunch of men after her. I loved her and hated her.

3. I loved the mystery of the Silver Fox, and his emails back and forth with Maddie. Their flirtations and deeper conversations were really fun to read. I was dying to figure out who he was!

4. I found the book club discussions to be rather boring and drawn out, but not enough to detract from the book. Maddie’s book club reads and discusses the classics, and since I’ve read very few of them I kind of felt like one of those kids who sits at the dinner table with their chin in their hand, bored to death by the grown-ups having grown-up conversations that they have nothing to add to. It’s just no fun listening to people talk about something you have no knowledge/interest in, and that’s how I felt skimming through their book chats. Luckily they didn’t last too long!

5. Mary Ann Marlowe is a great writer! Everything flowed nicely, and I was very comfortable while reading. I didn’t get tripped up by details, and I followed everything. I loved the humor and the way she wrote her characters.

All in all, this was a win for me! I loved everything about this book, and would love to go and visit these characters (particularly a few of the minor ones) to get their stories. There’s a bookish professor who I’d love to see get his own love story. Highly recommended!


Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina McMorris (Book Review)

Posted April 25, 2013 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 7 Comments

Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina McMorris (Book Review)Bridge Of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina McMorris
Published by Kensington Publishing on February 28, 2012
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
Pages: 431
Format: ARC
Source: Author
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4 Stars
A skilled violinist sacrifices her career aspirations and family's approval to secretly elope with her Japanese American boyfriend -- the night before Pearl Harbor is bombed. Torn between sides, she will make choices few people in history dared.

Los Angeles, 1941. Violinist Maddie Kern's life seemed destined to unfold with the predictable elegance of a Bach concerto. Then she fell in love with Lane Moritomo. Her brother's best friend, Lane is the handsome, ambitious son of Japanese immigrants. Maddie was prepared for disapproval from their families, but when Pearl Harbor is bombed the day after she and Lane elope, the full force of their decision becomes apparent. In the eyes of a fearful nation, Lane is no longer just an outsider, but an enemy.

When her husband is interned at a war relocation camp, Maddie follows, sacrificing her Juilliard ambitions. Behind barbed wire, tension simmers and the line between patriot and traitor blurs. As Maddie strives for the hard-won acceptance of her new family, Lane risks everything to prove his allegiance to America, at tremendous cost.

I was born in Japan, on an air force base. My mom has told me stories of the amazing people and the friends she had while we were there. A school of boys from Japan came to my junior high school in September of 2001, and I got to host one of them. He shadowed me for a week. It was an amazing experience, especially since they were here on the day of the September 11th terrorist attacks. They got to share in our tragedy, and I saw legitimate sorrow and concern for us in their eyes. I heard their condolences through their broken English. Japan is filled with amazing people, and I can’t imagine the prejudices they have dealt with, especially during the time period of this story. As always, my main points are bolded! :)

1. I really felt for Maddie and Lane throughout the entire book. Their relationship was kept a secret, they never showed any signs of affection in public, they had to elope last-minute because Lane’s father had already picked out his wife, and then the war and accompanying tragedies split them apart and made their lives so much harder than anyone deserves. Lane’s parents were against the marriage, and Maddie’s brother (TJ) demanded she get a divorce, even though Lane was his best friend. Actually, TJ was so mad about it that it helped fuel his decision to join the Army to fight against the Japanese, often picturing Lane in his mind as he shot the enemy. 

2. Before I read this book, I had not understood the magnitude of the racism and segregation the Japanese-Americans dealt with. I admire both Maddie and Lane for their strength, for following their hearts, for looking past the opinions of others, and for sticking with each other, no matter the hardships involved. They were both so young, yet they had a more realistic picture of how life should be than the majority of the people they came across.

3. I learned a lot from this book. I was not aware of the camps the Japanese-Americans had to stay in once Pearl Harbor was bombed. The entire west coast pushed them away, out of their homes and businesses, searched and ravaged their homes for signs of treason, and forced them into dirty camps like prisoners. This internment lasted the duration of World War II. You only had to be 1/16th Japanese to receive this kind of punishment. Children were ripped away from their families. Spouses were split up. The Japanese-Americans who were visiting/vacationing in Japan during the attack, were not allowed to return to the USA. In fact, they were forced into the Japanese Army and had to fight against their own friends and family back home. Brothers, on opposite sides of the war, were forced to fight one another. And it happened. In the author’s note at the end of the book, she mentions a brother shooting down an enemy plane, only to find out his brother was on it. My heart broke. Some of the Japanese-Americans were forced to enlist in the US Army and spy on the Japanese, translating documents and sneaking into the fields at night to eavesdrop on their plans of ambush or attack. The ones who were not forced to enlist marked the reluctant soldiers as traitors, and put their families on “death lists”. These are not the things we’retaught in school, or at least I wasn’t. I’m grateful to Kristina for educating me with her extremely well-researched facts–heartbreaking as they may be.

4. Kristina’s writing style is gorgeous. She intertwines subtle symbolic messages and melodies with a sweet Romeo and Juliet kind of romance, and a cold, unfeeling war. Her lovely, descriptive passages soften the blow of the poignant sequences of war and loss.

5. This is the kind of book that one experiences, rather than reads. I felt so many different emotions throughout. The romance was heartwarming, the ever-present glimmers of opposing hearts softening made me hopeful that love knows no bounds, the tortures and deaths were devastating. It was quite an emotional roller coaster that didn’t end until the final page.

6. This book is much heavier than I had expected, and I don’t usually venture into such deeply emotional reads. I’m glad I read it, though. It’s a versatile read, and has a little bit of everything: romance, action, suspense, loss, coming of age, history, symbolism, and growth. Did everything end up the way I wanted? No. But I respect the author for not tying everything up into a perfect bow. If she had, it would have been insulting to the survivors and their families, not to mention those that perished. She painted the war as it really was without sugarcoating it. I think it’s good to be reminded of what humans are capable of. 

Maddie and Lane, along with countless numbers of other inter-racial couples and friendships, crossed over the barrier, and formed relationships that helped unite the races. Years later (and a long time coming), in 1988 President Reagan officially apologized to the Japanese-Americans for their internment during WW2. Kristina ends her author’s note with a quote that I loved: “Indeed, history has much to teach us, if only we are willing to learn.” I think that is so true, and beautifully sums up the entire message of this book. I’d recommend this to pretty much anyone, but if you love historical fiction with a hint of romance, I bet you’ll like this. :)

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