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Review | Funk-N-Fiction: SASSY BLONDE by Stacey Kennedy

Sassy Blonde - Stacey Kennedy

Initial Thoughts:
I’ve heard really great things about this author for a long time, and the write-up looked really fun. It’s a spin-off, in the same world as a previous series, but I was told it could be read as a “book one”.

What I Loved:
The three sisters at the core of the story are a lot of fun. Very different, and filling their own role in the business (the series namesake, Three Chicks Brewery). I liked that we got to see them interact as much as we did, even though there was a definite focus on Maisie and Hayes’ budding “friends-to-lovers” relationship. It was pretty obvious from the start, where the story was going to go, but Stacey manages to throw in some curves that kept things interesting and fun. I loved that the angst level was kept low, even though there was definitely some baggage to be dealt with. I loved that once things started to happen between the two of them, there wasn’t any “hemming & hawing” about it. They owned it, and moved forward. I loved some of the other side characters… Beckett at the horse training facility was a particular favorite. I’m really hoping he’ll end up with a book in the future. In the end, I love that Maisie found her own way. One that was a little outside the norm, but still relevant to the business, and true to herself.

What I Didn’t Love:
I didn’t love the experience that caused the tension between Maisie and Hayes… even though that is also the experience that brings them together. But it’s a situation of needing a catalyst, and it had to be something big. Fine… I get it… but I’m still sad. And now I’m over it, again.

I also REALLY thought I knew who “the guy” at the state fair was!! (Trying not to be spoilery.) It totally wasn’t him… but I think it would have been a really great clap-back to the first night of the festival tour. Oh, well. Worked out ok, in the end.

Source: http://funknfiction.com/2020/06/19/blog-tour-review-sassy-blonde-by-stacey-kennedy
On the Corner of Love and Hate - Nina Bocci

Initial thoughts:
I walked into this series already knowing I would love it. Nina’s ability to create a character with richness and realness, build them a world you could live in, and make it all feel important to you — it really is a gift. 


Having made the rookie error of reading book three in this series first, I had a good idea about how some things were going to end up — but I loved getting there. 


What I loved:
First, I loved learning more about the town of Hope Lake. Seriously, I wanna go there, maybe move there. (Ok, not move there, I don’t do snow, lol!) Kinda like the fans in the football stadium are sometimes called the “12th man” at a game… supporting their team and influencing the process, I feel like this town is another character in the story. There are some things that happen in the story ONLY because they’re in a town like Hope Lake. 


I loved the families and friends of the main characters. They all contributed so much to the entire feel of the story. The scenes with Emma and the other two parts of their “friendship quartet” were really great, and I loved seeing how close they all still were, even with the rift between Emma and Cooper. The elderly ladies group cracked me up and made me cheer.  


I loooooved every time Cooper called Emma “Emmanuelle”, even though it drove her nuts. I loved that even though he made her crazy now (for any number of valid reasons), she still allowed herself to remember some of their happier times. She didn’t shut herself off from those memories. I loved Cooper’s steadfast belief in the town, and his interactions with the residents during his campaign. Even when he wasn’t 100% sure of himself, his genuine dedication to them never wavered. 


As far as the conflict with these two — this mashup of  “second chance romance”/”friends to lovers”/”enemies to lovers” tropes — I was worried that it would get to me, but it didn’t. At each point I could see something happening that, in other stories would get dragged out too long, or handled badly, but this author just nailed it! Yes, I cried when things got mucked up, and that sucked cause I don’t like to cry, but I didn’t spend page after page feeling gutted and horrible about the situations that were happening. I SO appreciated that! Then — when it was time for the happy — I was ALL ABOUT THE HAPPY!! 


What I didn’t love:
This is the second time that I feel like the leading lady “got off easier” in the responsible for the pair’s conflict. Yes, Cooper broke her heart… and yes, when you’re young, you don’t always handle that in the best ways. But there were circumstances in both pivotal moments of their younger years that *could* have been handled differently — on both of their parts — and I feel like Emma blamed Cooper for all of it, and he just took on all of it. She could have done things differently, too. Having said that — everything was written realistically — I can easily see exactly those situations happening, and them going exactly as they were written. 


Final thoughts:

Of course I loved this book. I was thrilled with my HEA, and I can’t wait to get to the next in the series. 

Source: http://funknfiction.com/2020/05/24/review-on-the-corner-of-love-and-hate-by-nina-bocci

Review | Funk-N-Fiction: GARDEN SPELLS by Sarah Addison Allen

— feeling love
Garden Spells - Sarah Addison Allen








To be a Waverley in Bascom, NC is a special thing. Some would call that special thing natureal, some would call  it strange. Some would embrace it and some would run as far and and as fast as they could from it. Accept it or not, appreciate it or not, the Waverleys are special.


Claire and Sydney are sisters who had dramatically different childhoods. One seemed to inherit the talent to use the edible flowers in their family garden to create enchanted dishes. So many secrets get passed down from Grandma Waverley to an eager Claire. Sydney, however, distanced herself from the “special” label of the Waverley name and escaped from Bascom as soon as she graduated high school.


Years later, Sydney is trying to escape from something else, and comes home with her daughter. Both sisters struggle to overcome misunderstandings from their childhood, and choices they’ve made as adults. They learn to trust each other, and eventually themselves. Once their carefully constructed walls of doubt start to crumble, they discover the true magic of old family ties and new love.


I can’t tell you how much I loved this book. The story is told in such a magical, almost sing-song way. I love that it’s not told by just one character, as well. Many of the characters get to tell their own tale, from their own perspective. So many things going on, but all blending and weaving together. It’s comforting, and despite the very obvious supernatural aspects of the story, makes you believe. 


The story is full of funny, quirky side characters that just move into your heart and stay there. Evenelle, who will show up at any time of the day or night to give you something that she just KNOWS you’re going to need (and you do, always, end up needing it) is one of my favorites. Not everyone has a happy tale to share, but the friendships that get them through those not-happy times are just incredible.


This was the first, but will absolutely NOT be the last book I read from Sarah Addison Allen. She’s worked her story magic on me, and I have a feeling she’ll do the same to you.

Source: http://funknfiction.com/2020/05/03/garden-spells-sarah-addison-allen

Review | Funk-N-Fiction: THE INGREDIENTS OF YOU AND ME by Nina Bocci

The Ingredients of You and Me - Nina Bocci

Initial thoughts:
I’ve been following this author for many years, and have been rooting for her through several stages of her writing journey. She’s a joy, and her stories are filled with heart and laughter. I walked into this one, fulling expecting to love it.


What I loved:
This story is a picture perfect HEA. Parker and Nick fit into those “small town romance” boxes, yet they’re both still full of interesting layers and quirks. The story is lighthearted in all the right places, funny, heartwarming, and hopeful. The two leads definitely have some things to get through… things that are hard and uncomfortable. But Nina gets us to those conflicts, and gets us through them, with genuine emotion and just the right amount of levity.


I love how much the how a place can almost become a part of the cast of characters. Hope Lake is a perfect example of this. The residents include a few groups of friends who’ve been through a lot together. I really enjoyed the way the town’s “Golden Girls” were brought into the story, how they interacted with everyone, and the part they play in the growth of our leading lady and leading man.


What I didn’t love:
There was a pretty important conversation I felt should have happened much sooner in the story. I kept waiting for the moment to happen, and while it did – eventually – I would have liked it to be earlier. I also didn’t love that Parker didn’t seem to take much of the (deserved, I felt) blame for her role in the major conflict she and Nick had to work through.


Final thoughts:
I made a rookie mistake with this one. This is book three in the series, and while I do own the previous two books, they’re still resting on my TBR pile. (insert facepalm emoji here) I definitely recommend that a) everyone read this book… it really is SO good, but b) read the rest of the series first.


It’s funny to me, since I *have* been following Nina for so many years, that I can actually see quite a bit of her in some of the situations and ideas in this story. I’m pretty sure it made me love the story even more.


If you’re a fan of  second-chance romance, THE INGREDIENTS OF YOU AND ME is definitely a book for you. This was such a fantastic read, and I can’t wait to go back (to ON THE CORNER OF LOVE AND HATE, and MEET ME ON LOVE LANE) to get to know the rest of the “hopeless romantics.”


Source: http://funknfiction.com/2020/05/06/the-ingredients-of-you-and-me

Review | Funk-N-Fiction: DON'T GO STEALING MY HEART by Kelly Siskind

Don't Go Stealing My Heart - Kelly Siskind

Initial thoughts:
I’ve been in a “light hearted rom-com” mood lately, and was intrigued by Clementine’s Robin Hood-like-cat-burglar back story. This was my first Kelly Siskind book, and I was not disappointed.


What I loved:
Clementine’s outlook on what she does, and how she lives her life, had me rooting for her, criminal or not. Her interactions with the townspeople while scoping out her latest mark were witty and surprisingly genuine, considering why she was there. Jack is about as upstanding and charming as a leading man can get, and I was smitten from the start. Both of our leads have interesting quirks that drew me in, along with personal issues that gave them depth and relatability. They seem to just “fit”, despite the fact that they’re each hiding something big from the other. They’re both trying to juggle what’s “right” with what they feel they “have to do”.


The balance between the lighthearted, sweet, romance-y bits, and the less lighthearted, dark, uncomfortable bits was delicate, but the story managed to fall on the right side of that line each time. There were a few plot devices used that I really don’t care for — but instead of them becoming part of my “What I didn’t love” section of this review, the author addressed each instance quickly, and with the kind of finesse that actually turned them completely around for me. I was pleasantly surprised, and pretty impressed.


In the end, they just make sense together. They are sweet, and they “get” each other. They grow and learn from each other, and they make me smile.


What I didn’t love:
Both of our main characters have struggled and suffered in their pasts, affecting how they behave in this story. Of course those details are important, but I didn’t love how often those circumstances were repeated. It felt like the author was reminding me of something, but didn’t give me enough time to forget it between mentions.


As much as I liked Clementine and Jack together, it’s hard to overlook that the entire book took place in less than two weeks, and they both had to overcome HUGE trust issues to make their connection. The story didn’t feel rushed, but it did require a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. I guess this makes it half “what I loved” and half “what I didn’t love”, lol.


I also didn’t love the surprise “reveal” at the end. I saw it coming just before it happened, and I was SO hoping I was wrong. I wasn’t, and I’m bitter on behalf of the characters.


Final thoughts:
Overall, this was a fantastic introduction to this author, and a nice way to spend an afternoon. You’ll laugh a lot, you’ll swoon just a bit, and if you’re like me, you’ll grumble some at the end. (Well, not the *end* end, because our author graciously supplied us with an epilogue that totally made me smile.) And if you’re like me, I think you’ll find that you “Can’t Help Falling In Love” with Clementine and Jack.


I’m excited to check out some of Kelly Siskind’s other stories, and encourage you to join me.

Source: http://funknfiction.com/2020/04/22/review-dont-go-stealing-my-heart

Review | Funk-N-Fiction: THE HOUSE AT THE END OF HOPE STREET by Menna van Praag

The House at the End of Hope Street - Menna van Praag

Initial thoughts:
I adore magical realism, and Menna’s stories have intrigued me since I first discovered her. It’s a bit darker than I thought it would be, and was much more involved than I anticipated, based solely on the write-up. I wasn’t disappointed, just surprised. There is quite a bit more going on than just Alba’s story.


What I loved:
This story has so many of the little details I love in magical realism. The magic is woven through the story in such a lyrical, organic way. The house itself plays such a large part in the story – both as the setting, and as a character that truly influences the residents. I love that previous houseguests “keep in touch” with their more recent counterparts.


There ended up being significant time dedicated to all four of the “current” residents of the house. Each story entertwined with the other by virtue of the womans’ time together. Getting to see the story unfold for each of them, their history – their growth – and their path forward, in their own head, was really interesting. Each of them is in the house to overcome something from their past, and this is where things got a little darker than I anticipated. All of the info was important, of course, I just wasn’t expecting the tone. The author definitely gave each of them depth and complexity. They all managed to get exactly what they needed from the house, and within themselves.


As far as Alba, our “main” main character, goes – her history includes betrayal (on a few levels) and unfortunate family dynamics. Her “gift”, very much like a form of synesthesia, was a really interesting aspect of her journey. There was enough humor to keep the story light in the right places (a ghost in the kitchen sink?), and enough seriousness to give it impact. I was really invested in her attempt to overcome her past and creating a new life for herself (and even find an unexpected romance!)


What I didn’t love:
First, and I almost didn’t include this here because things ended up working out really well — I was confused when we got so deep into each of the other characters’ stories. I was expecting them to play a part in Alba’s story, of course, but didn’t realize we’d be so involved in each of their transformations. In the end, I enjoyed it, but I did spend a lot of time during the first half of the book wanting to get back to Alba, when the others took center page.


I also had some issue with how often the “betrayal” situation came into Alba’s head, with no specifics given to the reader. I understand that some details kept back are for later impact, and we don’t NEED to know everything at the start. My frustration was simply how often it came up in Alba’s thoughts, without having any idea what actually happened.


Final thoughts:
Overall, the book was both more and less than I expected. It was much more complex than I anticipated, and less of the lighthearted magical realism that I have been used to in my reading history. I definitely appreciated how much thought was given to each of the characters, how they interacted with each other, and the house. I would liken this story more to something from Alice Hoffman than Sarah Addison Allen. But honestly, they all write magic into their words, and now that I know better what to expect, I’m so looking forward to more words from Menna van Praag.

Source: http://funknfiction.com/2020/04/09/review-the-house-at-the-end-of-hope-street-by-menna-van-praag