REVIEW: BY THE BOOK, BY JULIA SONNEBORN

 

An English professor struggling for tenure discovers that her ex-fiancé has just become the president of her college—and her new boss—in this whip-smart modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic Persuasion.

Anne Corey is about to get schooled.

An English professor in California, she’s determined to score a position on the coveted tenure track at her college. All she’s got to do is get a book deal, snag a promotion, and boom! She’s in. But then Adam Martinez—her first love and ex-fiancé—shows up as the college’s new president.

Anne should be able to keep herself distracted. After all, she’s got a book to write, an aging father to take care of, and a new romance developing with the college’s insanely hot writer-in-residence.

But no matter where she turns, there’s Adam, as smart and sexy as ever. As the school year advances and her long-buried feelings begin to resurface, Anne begins to wonder whether she just might get a second chance at love.

 

My Thoughts: This retelling of Austen’s Persuasion intrigued me from the beginning pages. I haven’t read the Austen book—that’s on my bucket list—but it is not necessary to have done so to enjoy By the Book.

Anne Corey is a bookish and delightful English professor who is hoping to finally earn a tenured position but must publish a book before that can happen. She has been working on it for a while, but so far, she has not been offered a publishing contract. Her days are spent teaching her classes; she hangs out with an old friend, Larry Fellor, another English professor; and locks herself away nights and weekends to work on her book.

The news that her college fiancé, Adam Martinez, has been hired as the new president of the college has catapulted her back in time, remembering their relationship and what happened to break them apart.

Meanwhile, Anne allows herself to begin a casual relationship with Rick Chasen, who has been added to the staff as a writer-in-residence. He pursues her, encourages her in her writing, and she thinks their relationship may help her finally get over Adam.

What happens next is stunning and changes everything Anne thought she knew about herself and about each of the men with whom she has been involved.

I enjoyed the feeling of being a part of the academic world with the characters. I also felt like I was sauntering along with them on the campus, entering the beautiful rooms that the author showed us, and finally, becoming part of their experiences. We had a vested interest in how their lives unfolded. Therefore, I was pleased with the ending, even though it was somewhat predictable, because it felt like the events were happening to old friends. 4 stars.***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: EXCERPTING “WHO DO YOU LOVE?”

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Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I enjoy sharing excerpts from books…and connecting with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What better way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a novel from Jennifer Weiner:  Who Do You Love?

 

 

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Beginning:  (Prologue – Rachel – 2014)

“Rachel?”

I don’t answer.  I shut my eyes and hold my breath and hope whoever it is will think I’m not here and go home.

Knock knock knock, and then my name again.  “Rachel, are you in there?”

***

56:  “Get away from him,” she’d said.  “You don’t get to speak to my son ever again.”

When they were gone, his mother had stood with her hands braced against the front door, red nails vivid against the white paint, as if they might come back and try to push their way back through.

***

Blurb:  An unforgettable story about true love, real life, and second chances…

Rachel Blum and Andy Landis are just eight years old when they meet one night in an ER waiting room. Born with a congenital heart defect, Rachel is a veteran of hospitals, and she’s intrigued by the boy who shows up alone with a broken arm. He tells her his name. She tells him a story. After Andy’s taken back to a doctor and Rachel’s sent back to her bed, they think they’ll never see each other again.

Rachel grows up in an affluent Florida suburb, the popular and protected daughter of two doting parents. Andy grows up poor in Philadelphia with a single mom and a rare talent for running.

Yet, over the next three decades, Andy and Rachel will meet again and again—linked by chance, history, and the memory of the first time they met, a night that changed the course of both of their lives.

***

What do you think?  I have had this book for a couple of months, and now I’m hoping to dive into it this next week.  I am a big fan of Weiner.

Below, see the bookshelf that is right next to my new work station:

 

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REVIEW: THE MATCHMAKER, BY ELIN HILDERBRAND

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Dabney Kimball Beech had lived on Nantucket her whole life. In her childhood, she lived there alone with her father, after her mother abruptly left one day under circumstances that would forever impact Dabney’s life. Some believed that Dabney’s agoraphobia, which kept her from leaving the island, could be traced back to that abandonment.

As the Director of the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce for the past 22 years, and as the wife of brilliant economist John Boxmiller Beech (Box), some might say she has it all. Additionally, she has a reputation as a “matchmaker,” since she can detect a rosy aura around those who are “meant to be.” She has never been wrong, and all the couples she has matched are still together…if they are alive.

But despite her marriage and her ability as a matchmaker, her own heart has belonged to her first love and the father of her daughter Agnes: Clendenin Hughes, a journalist who left for Southeast Asia on assignment before he learned of her pregnancy and has never been back.

Until now. An e-mail telling her of his imminent return throws her into a tailspin.

What will happen between them when they see each other again? And what about Agnes, who is returning to Nantucket for the summer? Can she handle connecting with the father she has never met? Will everything spin out of control now?

The Matchmaker: A Novel thoroughly engaged me, and as I immersed myself in this book, which was also narrated by individuals that had been “matched” by Dabney, I enjoyed seeing how their stories offered a unique perspective on Dabney’s gift.

I was rooting for Dabney and Clen, and also hoping that Agnes would break up with her controlling fiancé C.J. It was intriguing how much these characters’ lives mattered to me, and I couldn’t stop turning those pages. But as a dark tragedy loomed over them, I had to reach for the box of Kleenex while I kept hoping for a reprieve of some kind.

A beautiful story of love, loss, mistakes, and second chances, I wanted more time and more magic for these unforgettable characters. Definitely a five star read for me.