Tag: Contemporary Fiction

Guest Review: The One by John Marrs

Posted August 19, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: The One by John MarrsReviewer: Tracy
The One by John Marrs
Publisher: Hanover Square
Publication Date: February 20, 2017
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Point-of-View: Third person
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Pages: 412
Add It: Goodreads
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How far would you go to find The One?

A simple DNA test is all it takes. Just a quick mouth swab and soon you’ll be matched with your perfect partner—the one you’re genetically made for.

That’s the promise made by Match Your DNA. A decade ago, the company announced that they had found the gene that pairs each of us with our soul mate. Since then, millions of people around the world have been matched. But the discovery has its downsides: test results have led to the breakup of countless relationships and upended the traditional ideas of dating, romance and love.

Now five very different people have received the notification that they’ve been “Matched.” They’re each about to meet their one true love. But “happily ever after” isn’t guaranteed for everyone. Because even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking than others…

Match Your DNA is a scientifically proven way to find the one person in the world that you are genetically coded to love.  When you meet that person it’s like fireworks going on inside your body and you just can’t imagine living without that person.  Sometimes it takes a couple of days to kick in, but it always happens.  There has never been a mismatch and the company prides themselves on that fact. Unfortunately while billions had found their DNA match, there have been many broken relationships when people find their perfect match.

This book follows 5 different people who have gotten their perfect match.

First we have Mandy, a 37 year old divorcee who has been matched with Richard a man who’s about 10 years younger than her.   Mandy is a romantic and can’t wait to hear from Richard.  She’s old-fashioned and wants the man to contact her.  After weeks go by and she’s not heard from him she finally sends him an email, but she gets no response.  When she finally hears something, details come to light that change her mind about what love is and what her future is going to look like.  It’s utterly different than anything she could have imagined.

Next up we have Christopher.  Christopher is a psychopath and a serial killer.  Christopher meets his match with Amy, a police officer. Christopher is in the middle of a killing spree, but is finally meeting his perfect match changing him for the better?

Twenty-something Jade has met Kevin, but unfortunately, she lives in England and he lives in Australia.  She has an average paying job and credit card debt so she can’t just jump on a plane and meet him.  They’ve been texting and talking on the phone for seven months but they’ve never been on FaceTime or Skype.  When Jade decides to take a leap of faith and surprise Kevin by showing up in Australia, Jade finds out that lies have been told – big ones.  Does she stay and make the best of things?  Does she leave and lose her perfect “one?” What does she do when she finds herself in love?

Nick is 25 and engaged to Sally, but Sally thinks it would be great if they do the DNA matching anyway, just to prove that they’re truly perfect for each other. Nick insists that he will be with Sally no matter what, but when they open their emails, they find that Sally’s results show no match. Nick’s results, however, show he’s matched to a guy named Alexander.  What?  Nick’s not gay – not even bi!  He wants no part of the results, but Sally insists that he meets the guy to see if there’s any “spark.”  How will the DNA match end up changing Nick and Sally’s lives, or does anything change at all?

Ellie is the scientist who discovered the gene that became Match Your DNA.  She put her own DNA into the system 10 years earlier so she’s shocked when she receives an email saying that she was matched with someone.  She meets Tim and while he’s so different from her, she falls in love with him anyway. While Ellie isn’t completely truthful (at first) to Tim about who she is and what she does, is Tim being truthful to Ellie about who he is?

When I first started reading this book and every chapter was another person I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue.  Did I want to use my brainpower to keep track of all of these characters?  Lol  In the end, yes, I did.  The book kind of sucked me in and I wanted to see how all of these matches turned out.  Were they going to be together forever? How was it going to change their lives? Are they truly as perfect for each other as they thought they would be when meeting their DNA match?

While I enjoyed all of the different characters in this story, I really liked Nick and Ellie’s stories the best.  I’m not exactly sure what it was about their stories that spoke to me, but I found myself looking forward to their chapters.

Mandy was fine, but she came across as a bit desperate and needy to me.  She got herself into a fine mess and had a time trying to get out of it.  It did end on a hopeful note, so that was nice.

Christopher’s story was just…strange.  I’m not a fan of being a psychopath’s head and that’s where we were.  The end of his part of the book was definitely different, and completely unexpected.  I can’t say it was all together believable, but this is fiction, right? lol

Jade’s story was sad and frustrating all at the same time.  I wasn’t surprised at the outcome of that part of the book as I saw it coming from a mile away.  Her part wasn’t bad, but was too predictable for my liking.

Nick’s story made my heart hurt.  I felt for this man who was forced into doing things he didn’t want to do, and then had to suffer the consequences.  I just wanted to crawl through the book and give him a huge hug.

Ellie and her match Tim were an interesting pair.  They were so different from each other that I suspected something not so great was going to happen and I was proven right.  The magnitude of what happened was completely unexpected, but I loved that I didn’t see it coming.

Overall, I liked the book as Marrs is a good story-teller and the DNA match thing was intriguing.  While I didn’t love the whole book, I did read it in (more or less) one sitting, so that was a plus.  This was my first book by Marrs, but I’m sure I’ll be reading more by him in the future.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5


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Guest Review: Table for Seven by Whitney Gaskell

Posted June 18, 2013 by Ames in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review:  Table for Seven by Whitney GaskellReviewer: Ames
Table for Seven by Whitney Gaskell
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: April 23rd 2013
Genres: Women's Fiction
Pages: 389
Add It: Goodreads
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On New Year’s Eve, Fran and Will Parrish host a dinner party, serving their friends a gourmet feast. The night is such a success that the group decides to form a monthly dinner party club. But what starts as an excuse to enjoy the company of fellow foodies ends up having lasting repercussions on each member of the Table for Seven Dinner Party Club.

Fran and Will face the possibility that their comfortable marriage may not be as infallible as they once thought. Audrey has to figure out how to move on and start a new life after the untimely death of her young husband. Perfectionist Jaime suspects that her husband, Mark, might be having an affair. Coop, a flirtatious bachelor who never commits to a third date, is blindsided when he falls in love for the first time. Leland, a widower, is a wise counselor and firm believer that bacon makes everything taste better.

Over the course of a year, against a backdrop of mouthwatering meals, relationships are forged, marriages are tested, and the members of the Table for Seven Dinner Party Club find their lives forever changed.

I’ve read and enjoyed Whitney Gaskell’s writing before, so I was looking forward to reading Table for Seven.

It features two couples and three single friends. Bring everyone together is Fran and Will Parrish. They’re having a New Year’s Eve party and in an effort to do something different, Fran preps a multi-course meal to count down to midnight. She’ll serve one course on the hour leading up to midnight. No one really wants to go, but they end up having so much fun they decide to start up a very informal dinner club, with someone different hosting every month.

I thought this was a very interesting set up. And with so many characters, the story flowed very well. There was no confusion of who or what because each person is going through something very different. Will and Fran have been married for just under 20 years. Fran’s world is rocked that New Year’s day when Will tells her to invite Cooper, his best friend. You see, Fran and Cooper had a moment very early on in her marriage. Nothing happened…but she thinks if Will hadn’t woken up when he did that day on the boat that Cooper would have kissed her. Ever since then, she’s kind of had a little teeny tiny flame going for Cooper. They haven’t seen him too much over the years and she’s excited to learn he’s moved to their coastal town. Maybe too excited?

The other couple is Jaime and Mark. She’s his second wife and she’s struggling with Mark’s schedule and his daughter’s demands on his time. They have two young children together but she feels Mark is always off for Emily’s tennis practice or tournaments. She thinks it’s too much time and wonders if that’s all he’s doing.

Audrey is Fran’s best friend. She owns a successful spa and she’s been a widow for 7 years. She’s sick of Fran’s attempts to set her up. Fran knows this so when she invites Audrey to that first dinner party, she doesn’t want Audrey to think she’s setting her up with Coop so Fran tells her he’s gay. LOL That led to a few funny moments. But Audrey has trouble opening up. Her first husband was an alcoholic and she’s refused to see the truth of her marriage…and that’s preventing her from opening up to anyone new. Coop hasn’t had a real, long-term relationship ever in his life. He’s definitely a bachelor through and through and he’s definitely intrigued by Audrey (especially at first when she was super friendly with him, thinking he was gay). But she refuses to date him and his persistence definitely challenges both of them and their beliefs about relationships.

The seventh member of the group is Leland. And he was my favorite. He’s a retired judge, in his 80s and he was a great character. He was a great observer of the group dynamics and he gave gentle nudges where they were needed. He loved bacon. Cute character.

So yeah, there were a few interesting things going on with this book. With Fran and Will, I was caught up in Will’s obliviousness to what was going on with his wife. She was taking better care of her appearance and working out and dressing better. Everyone noticed but Will. So her getting caught up in a fantasy flirtation with Cooper makes sense. And then you realize she’s getting ready to make a move and you just feel so bad for her, because you know he’s fallen for Audrey. And Audrey is so the opposite about being open with her feelings, she doesn’t even tell her best friend she slept with the guy. LOL I also enjoyed Jaime’s path she took. She was so sure her husband was cheating on her she even followed him at one point and there was nothing to see. She really matured as a character. Same with Audrey. She really didn’t want to deal with what happened with her husband and it was preventing her from moving on. It was so easy for her to rebuff Coop’s charm…something that made him try harder, something he hasn’t had to do in a while.

I liked all the characters (except one…and no one cared for him either) and I liked the way all the stories unfolded. Because the author did a good job of giving us pieces of each story I read this pretty quickly. It was very engaging and I recommend it for when you need a break from all the New Adult you’re reading. LOL

Table for Seven gets a 4 out of 5 from me.

This book is available from Bantam.  You can buy it here or here in e-format.


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Review: Elders by Ryan McIlvain

Posted April 9, 2013 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Rowena’s review of Elders by Ryan McIlvain.

Main Character: Elders McLeod, Elder Passos
Love Interest: None
Series: None
Author: Facebook|Twitter|Goodreads

A glorious debut that T.C. Boyle calls “powerful and deeply moving” that follows two young Mormon missionaries in Brazil and their tense, peculiar friendship.

Elder McLeod—outspoken, surly, a brash American—is nearing the end of his mission in Brazil. For nearly two years he has spent his days studying the Bible and the Book of Mormon, knocking on doors, teaching missionary lessons—“experimenting on the word.” His new partner is Elder Passos, a devout, ambitious Brazilian who found salvation and solace in the church after his mother’s early death. The two men are at first suspicious of each other, and their work together is frustrating, fruitless. That changes when a beautiful woman and her husband offer the missionaries a chance to be heard, to put all of their practice to good use, to test the mettle of their faith. But before they can bring the couple to baptism, they must confront their own long-held beliefs and doubts, and the simmering tensions at the heart of their friendship.

A novel of unsparing honesty and beauty, Elders announces Ryan McIlvain as a writer of enormous talent.

When I first picked this book up to read for review, I was expecting something completely different from what I actually got with this book.  I thought I would be getting a story about two missionaries and their struggles on their mission and while I did get that, the story that I was expecting wasn’t the gritty, honest story that I read.

Growing up in the Mormon Church, I heard it all.  I heard the surprise in people’s voices when they found out that I was Mormon because I’m so “normal” and I heard all the questions and teasing about not being able to drink coffee and multiple wives and so on.  A huge part of my testimony growing up stemmed from what my parents thought and believed to be true and reading this book brought back a lot of memories of myself when I was going through the whole doubting phase of my life.

Elder McLeod is an American missionary serving in Brazil.  He’s very outspoken and brash and kind of reminded me of the guys before they left on their missions.  Elder Passos is more reserved, more staunch in his beliefs and these two missionary companions are as different as night and day and their struggles were significantly different but I thought they were both interesting characters.

This story wasn’t an easy story to read, reading it from my own personal experiences with the Mormon Church.  There was a lot of honesty in the struggles that both Elders went through and sometimes, a lot of that honesty was hard to read.  These two guys weren’t perfect and this book highlights those imperfections.  It covered a lot of everyday things that aren’t a big deal to the everyday person but are to members of the Mormon Church who expect more from their members.

Overall, it was a story that was at times compelling but there were many times when it was so easy for me to put the story down for many different reasons.  I could only take McLeod and Passos in small doses because while they were interesting, they were also very annoying throughout a lot of the story but in the end, I’m not mad that I read this book.  I don’t think it’ll sit well with other Mormon readers but I will say that it was an interesting read.

…and that’s your scoop!

This book is available from Hogarth. This book was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Buy the book: B&N|Amazon|Book Depository
Book cover and blurb credit: http://goodreads.com

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