Sunday, February 22, 2015

Snack Size Reviews: NetGalley Nibbles

The thing about NetGalley (an e-galley site for book reviewers)? When you start browsing the book buffet, it's easy to overfill your plate! Or to keep on eating and eating without letting the first round(s) digest...

For the sake of getting caught up on some reviews and sharing some thoughts on what I've read, here are a few NetGalley nibbles for your reading pleasure! Maybe you'll find something to enjoy now or save for later. :)

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Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden
Rating: Spring
Currently $9.99 for Kindle

Elizabeth Camden crafts unique historical fiction with a captivating depth of character. I really loved the hero and heroine of this particular story, especially at the beginning. Their banter and clash of personalities makes for an entertaining read, even when a hero in politics and a slow-building plot largely set in the Library of Congress wouldn't normally seem "fun" to me. Camden balances interesting details, romance, and subtle suspense admirably.

How the suspense element plays out, though, was mostly what kept me from loving the book quite as much as I wanted to. Luke won me over at the beginning but severely dented my trust by the way he handled revelations later on. I guess I was hoping for a bit more - from his choices and from the climax of the plot. Still, there are reasons for everything in the story, and Camden's writing is always enjoyable. Beyond All Dreams is a worthy addition to the Camden historical romance collection. (I believe Against the Tide and The Rose of Winslow Street remain my favorites of the five books I've read by her.)

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In Tune with Love by Amy Matayo
Rating: Fall
Currently $3.79 for Kindle (Releases March 31)

I confess, In Tune with Love wasn't exactly the right fit for me. But like with weddings, styles are subjective and taste varies greatly. My issues with this wedding story? The heroine's attitude. (Snarkiness has its place in small doses, but I just couldn't quite sympathize with April's maid-of-honor "woes" and her Debbie Downer ways.) The hero's attitude. (He just didn't seem all that contrite or compassionate to me based on his actions and reactions.) The general attitude of the story. (I didn't really feel uplifted by it. More like frustrated and not overly optimistic for a true, long-lasting love between these characters.)

But I think there's a big audience that enjoys a snarkier romance, and this story does have an interesting premise and a theme of forgiveness that might resonate better with others. 

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An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund
Rating: Fall/Spring
Currently $5.99 for Kindle (Releases March 3)

An Uncertain Choice is an engaging read and a fun change of pace for author Jody Hedlund. For the most part, I enjoyed this young-adult historical. It has a nice blend of courtly romance, danger, and medieval drama.

However, I did feel like there was room for further depth in the characterization. What could have been a really compelling study of the falling-in-love process felt somewhat "rigged," although I do admit there are moments of surprise and uncertainty as to how the plot will play out. I guess I just wish some choices and depictions didn't turn out to be quite so cliche and obvious, despite the younger target audience.

Still, this book and its prequel seem to be garnering a positive response from the majority of readers, and overall the story is entertaining and sweet (with a slightly darker edge given the time period).

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*With thanks to NetGalley, Bethany House Publishers, and Zondervan for providing me with e-ARCs of these books in exchange for my honest reviews.*

Thanks to Juju of Tales of Whimsy for the inspiration regarding mini reviews!

8 comments:

Laura Pol said...

Thanks for sharing all your thoughts! Still need to read Elizabeth's latest!

Rissi said...

Great thoughts, friend. Loved Jody's so much and cannot wait for book two. :)

Grace M said...

Netgalley is filled with such temptation... Oh well.
I agree with your review for "Beyond All Dreams." I think it needed more excitement/action, but I still over all liked it. :-D

PidginPea said...

I love the idea of Netgalley Nibbles!! My plate is also too full of tidbits I have snagged off the book buffet. :)

Thanks for your review of An Uncertain Choice - I had that one on my TBR list!

Amber Stokes said...

Laura,

Happy to! And Elizabeth's latest is another great read, overall. :) The only one I haven't read of hers is With Every Breath. Which one of hers is your favorite so far?

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Rissi,

Aw, thank you! I'm glad you loved Jody's latest - it's fun to see her writing YA. :) So it's pretty for-sure that the series will continue? I'll be curious to see where it goes!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Grace,

Yes. Yes, it is. ;)

And I felt the same way, especially toward the end. Was hoping for a little more adventure, especially with such promising suspense. But as you say, it's still a very good read! :)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

PidginPea,

So fun to see you here! And thank you! It's so easy to overindulge at the book buffet, isn't it?? ;)

Happy to share my thoughts (just need to make more of an effort to get them down sooner after finishing a book)! I hope you enjoy An Uncertain Choice if you decide to give it a try. :) Jody is a great author. I think my favorite of hers so far is The Doctor's Lady, but I'm behind by several books...

~Amber