ARC REVIEW: The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane – by Dee MacDonald

Title: The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane
Author: Dee MacDonald
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 24th 2019
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: April 2nd 2019
Pages: 275

“These things usually happen when you aren’t looking for them.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I was really looking forward to spend time with The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane, especially since I loved the writing style and humor in The Getaway Girls last year. I was fully expecting to be having a blast while reading Dee MacDonald‘s newest title, but I guess it just wasn’t ment to be… And I turned out having a completely different reaction instead. It’s unpopular opinion time again! Because I ended up having quite a few issues with this story and surprisingly none had to do with the fact that the contemporary romance genre normally isn’t really for me. I’ll try to explain why The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane didn’t work for me below.

The first and most important issue I had with this story had to do with one of Tess’ dates… More especifically the one in the hotel. I don’t want to give away too many details to avoid spoilers, but basically what is described can be considered rape. Disgusting enough on its own and trigger warning worthy, but to make things even worse Tess tries to justify it and blames herself? No, no, NO!! I nearly stopped reading there and then because of this scene. Another thing that bothered me considerably is that way this story completely destroys body positivity. I mean, Tess believing she has to lose weight in order for her to look good, be successful and find a man? Not only shallow but completely contradicts the image their own shop tries to portray. Characters in general are discriminated and talked about negatively because of their weight and appearance and this really left me with a sour taste in my mouth. The story itself is filled with cliches and not in a good way… I personally couldn’t even find the humor in them this time around. I also failed to connect to the main characters, mostly due to how they behaved and the negativity towards others. The dates themselves were so cliche that they are almost offensive and most characters really lacked fleshing out for me. A shame, because I was really looking forward to see more mature main characters for a change. What I did like? The writing does read quite fast and I loved the descriptions of the different places of their Greek cruise. This travel element was probably my favorite part of the story. Otherwise, unfortunately this turned out to be a rather disappointing journey for me. I do hope others will react differently to The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane!

Tess and Orla have been best friend for a long time and have worked together in a dressmakers shop on the corner of Penny Lane for quite some time. Then one day, sixty-two-year-old Tess decides she wants something more out of the rest of her days and wants to rediscover herself… Hoping to find someone special to spend those days with sooner than later. Orla convinces her to join a dating agency, resulting in some very interesting meetings… And a cruise visiting the Greek islands on the menu as well.

I definitely wasn’t expecting to be having this reaction to The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane, but it is what it is I guess… I turned out having various serious issues with this story, a lot relating to how characters behaved and were portrayed. I apologize if this review turned into a rant, but I really couldn’t help but getting my feelings out there since it doesn’t happen often I have this strong of a reaction to a story. I do hope others will have a better time with The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane though.


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ARC REVIEW: The Getaway Girls – by Dee MacDonald @bookouture

Title: The Getaway Girls
Author: Dee MacDonald
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: July 30th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: July 7th 2018
Pages: 

“Was the world her oyster? Silly cliché, that! The world was more like the carrot, dangling seductively in front of her nose.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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Wait, what? It’s All About Books featuring a contemporary romance read, and with such a high rating at that? Don’t be too surprised, because I can enjoy the genre every once in a while if I’m in the mood for it. And this is exactly what happened when I saw The Getaway Girls. Suffering from the so-called travel bug myself, I love road trip stories. It doesn’t really matter to me if I have visited those places myself, as reading about them makes it feel as if I were on a mini vacation in the first place and I love discovering new places to visit… But when I found out part of the story was set in Italy, I was sold. I have such great memories of this country and I couldn’t wait to discover what the main characters would encounter! I picked up The Getaway Girls on a day I really needed something light, entertaining, fun and engaging to distract myself, and this story delivered exactly that. I LOVED that the three main characters are seventy-year-olds and that they going on a road trip together. The character development is spot on and I really liked just how different their personalities and backgrounds were. It was great to see how they reacted to each other and they journey, and I had a wonderful time following them on their journey. It’s not all fun as they are trying to run away from Maggie’s dodgy partner Ringer, and I really liked that aspect of the plot as it added a little suspense to the whole story as well. But my favorite part of The Getaway Girls has without doubt to do with the descriptions of the places they visited. It almost felt I was on vacation in France and Italy as well! A welcome distraction from the cold winter months down here in Argentina… I had a blast reading this story and I liked how each of the three main characters got her own ending. It’s definitely made me curious about The Runaway Wife as well as I really liked Connie’s character! If you are a fan of the genre, this one is a must-read.

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Connie is free to make her own decisions for the first time in decades, and she has been dreaming of an adventure. She doesn’t seem to be the only one though, as Gill and Maggie from her flower arranging class love the sound of her plans. And soon the two want to tag along with her idea of traveling to southern Italy in a campervan to find her roots. A journey that will take them through France first and will take them to places and new experiences they never thought they would be having… Will the three be able to reach their destination safely?

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If you love a good road trip story with well developed and interesting characters, lots of sightseeing, funny moments, a dash of suspense and a dose of romance that is just right, you will love The Getaway Girls as well. I had so much fun following Connie, Gill and Maggie around and I loved the fact that they were seventy-year-olds, as I don’t see older main characters around that often. Entertaining, uplifting, a pinch of suspense and a healthy dose of summer romance… This story will make you forget about your own problems for a while as you join the main characters on their journey.


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BOOK REVIEW: 13 Little Blue Envelopes – by Maureen Johnson

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Title: 13 Little Blue Envelopes
(Little Blue Envelopes #1)
Author: Maureen Johnson

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: August 23rd 2005
Publisher: HarperTeen
Finished reading: December 1st 2016
Pages: 322
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“Sometimes, life leaves you without directions, without guideposts or signs. When this happens, you just have to pick a direction and run like hell.”

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I decided to switch genres a bit and pick up a contemporary romance read. I know these kind of stories normally are not really my thing, but I remember I enjoyed Maureen Johnson‘s short Christmas story in Let It Snow and The Name Of The Star last year and the travel theme sounded great. I have to admit I had my doubts about 13 Little Blue Envelopes, but I can see why contemporary romance fans would love this book. As I already feared, this book fell a little flat for me. Sure, the travel bits are quite interesting and it is without doubt a cute and easy-to-read story, but the whole plot just isn’t believable. I mean, why did her parents let Ginny travel to Europe like that in the first place? The things happening to the main character are not exactly credible either. I’ve had my share of travel experience myself and random things can happen during a trip, but 13 Little Blue Envelopes for me crossed the line. If you are looking for a sappy, fast-paced, easy and entertaining contemporary romance read, this is without doubt a good choice. It’s probably also a perfect summer/beach read if you can forget about the credibility details. That said, I’m not sure I’m going to read the sequel myself.

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After her eccentric aunt died half across the world, Ginny receives a package that will change her life. Inside she finds thirteen little blue envelopes with messages and instructions her aunt wrote before she passed away. In the first one, Ginny finds $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket to London. It also said she shouldn’t open the other ones until she completed each task, and that she couldn’t have contact with the people back home. Clearly her aunt wants to show Ginny the Europe as she knew it, and Ginny is about to do a whole lot of things she never dreamed to be doing that summer…

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I know, I know, I should have known 13 Little Blue Envelopes wouldn’t be for me. I thought the whole road trip/travel theme would distract from the cheesy romance, but in the end it was the low credibility of the plot that sort of ruined the story for me. Sure, a lot of random things can happen when you travel without a fixed destination, but this story just didn’t convince me. If you are looking for a quick and easy contemporary read and don’t mind the little details, this might still be a good choice though.

BOOK REVIEW: Wanderlost – by Jen Malone

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Title: Wanderlost
Author: Jen Malone
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 31st 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Finished reading: July 13th 2016
Pages: 352
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“Lizzie, pushing your comfort zone is what traveling is all about.”

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Wanderlost is without doubt a great choice both if you want to escape the cold winter months (like me) and if you are looking for an entertaining summer read. This novel is by no means perfect, but definitely cute and fluffy enough if you can forget about details like the credibility of the plot. First of all, it shows that Jen Malone has traveled quite a lot herself and probably visited the places she mentioned in Wanderlost, because the descriptions are detailed and make you feel like you are traveling along with the main characters. I don’t think that all observations about local traditions are correct though (although I can only speak for the Dutch ones myself; seriously, salty pancakes are NOT breakfast food!), but I guess it’s really hard to understand the local ways in the first place without actually living in that country. I’ve learned that the hard way myself during my travels… Wanderlost is fast-paced though and both easy and entertaining to read. Sam is adorable and I liked the senior group, but I wasn’t too sure about Aubree in the beginning. I mean, I understand that leaving your home and country for the first time can be extremely intimidating, but the total lack of confidence did get a bit annoying after a while. It is however a realistic description, because I’ve had my share of ‘Aubree’s’ during my years working in a hostel. I liked how her character developed though, and overall Wanderlost kind of made me wish I could go on another Europe road trip myself…

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When her older sister, Elizabeth, gets into real trouble and cannot make it to Europe for her oh-so-important summer job, she asks Aubree to take over her place. Aubree is not exactly adventurous and has never been far away from home, but she feels guilty about what happened to her sister and reluctantly agrees. In two weeks, Aubree will now be leading a group of senior citizens on a bus tour through Europe, and even the carefully prepared binder full of helpful facts and training of her sister can calm her nerves. Things seem to go wrong from the start and she doesn’t even make it to her first hotel in Amsterdam before their perfect plan starts to unravel… Without phone and binder, Aubree is now on her own while she tries to do the job she was never hired for in the first place.

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Even though the plot was not really that credible, I still quite enjoyed reading Wanderlost. In itself it’s without doubt a fast-paced, entertaining and adorable summer read that will most likely appeal to those who enjoy reading contemporary romance novels. It’s cute, it’s fluffy, it has a lot of romance and also a healthy dose of road trip and travel descriptions… Warning: it will most likely trigger your wanderlust!

BOOK REVIEW: An Abundance Of Katherines – by John Green

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Title: An Abundance Of Katherines
Author: John Green
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: September 21st 2006
Finished reading: October 4th 2015
Pages: 229
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“Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.”

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I know I had promised myself not to read anything by John Green for the rest of the year, but I wanted to read something short and easy before starting with my creepy reads and this one sounded like it would do the job. I was right: An Abundance Of Katherines was exactly the short and entertaining read I was looking for. Maybe I wasn’t blown away by it and I did have some problems with some of the plot and characters, but overall it did the job. As a math/science geek I could really appreciate the math references and as always John Green does an excellent job with his teenage dialogues. The characters were well developed, although they did come over as a bit whiny and annoying at points. As for the plot: I liked the idea of a road trip, but some of the things that happened in the small town they decided to stay were a bit farfetched. John Green used quite a few foreign words and phrases during his story, so remember to check out the glossary… Although it’s not too difficult to guess what they mean from the context. There are quite a few funny moments in this novel and I’m sure that most YA contemporary fans will probably enjoy An Abundance Of Katherines.

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Colin Singleton happens to really like Katherines, and has dated no less than nineteen girls with that same name over the years. And every time Colin starts dating another Katherine, he ends up getting dumped. Katherine XIX has dumped him recently and his best friend Hassan decided to take him on a road trip to help him get over her. The two make an interesting pair and end up in a small town working for a woman that owns a tampon-string factory. Colin is on a mission to finish his Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he wants to use to predict the future of any relationship. He has been having more problems than thought he would have with it and he keeps getting distracted by Lindsey and his other new friends. Will he be able to finish his theorem and finally get over K-19?

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An Abundance Of Katherines is without doubt entertaining, but I wouldn’t call it mindblowingly good. It’s short, easy to read and the teenage dialogues are very well done as always, but it’s not a perfect read. I had some issues with both the plot and characters and that’s probably why I gave it only 3 stars. If you like YA contemporary, you will most likely enjoy this read though. It’s a feel good story with a geek factor (math and anagrams!) and a great choice if you are looking for a light read.