Great concept. Gorgeous, well thought out cover. If I had been in the store, I would have picked this book up and bought it on that basis alone. However, I am so very glad I did not.
There is much I have struggled with as I read this book. To start with the story telling is flat with very little 'zing' to grab the reader. The relationships are bland with no chemistry. The main character Greta is shallow and seems to carry this unrealistic expectation about her own life. I was confused about the minor characters. Marigold seemed a mystery, and I couldn't place her in my head. Until the end. I would say I was probably 4/5 of the way through this book before I even remotely was grabbed by interest. This is way too far into a book. If I hadn't been reading this to review for Shadow Mountain I would have given up on this book after reading the first fifth.
I was so disappointed. Greta has this beautiful life long friendship with Will, but the author repeatedly reminds us of how he doesn't 'match up' to an acceptable level of boyfriend/love of your life material. There's a focus on outward appearances, not just his face but his body shape. If this had been a man describing how he wrote about his female best friend, the readers would have been in uproar. This is not the society we live in today, to put down based on appearances and be OK with that. It was harsh, and totally distracted from the development in my mind of their special bond, that the author I am assuming wants us to believe. On the other hand, I do get that she is trying to convince us of the reason they are NOT dating and why Greta needs to have this very shallow relationship with Mac. Who on outward appearances seems to have it all. I have read other books based on this concept of 'unrequited love' from the best friend. It can be done better than this with a lot more class.
Then there was the dating relationship with Mac. No chemistry. When the dialogue is all about how 'hot' someone is it just sounds middle school and petty. I was also taken aback by the lesson in kissing she receives in her teen years from Will. It seemed lengthy and a lot deeper than what you would equate with a couple teenagers - trying it out. They apparently can kiss for a long time, and seem to just get up and walk away from it - completely unaffected.
There are aspects of this story that I did enjoy. The visit from the author, wow - cleverly written and executed. Dr Silver, and the twist of events near the end. The struggling plight of our community libraries, and the very real threat of keeping them viable. The library described reminds me very much of the one from my childhood. I grew up in England, and the building was a Victorian building, purposefully built for a library, but it had many of the same features, though only one story and never a house. I have so many wonderful memories of visiting the library, and even have been able to utilize it with my own children during the 8 years I lived there with them. Sadly that library has gone the way of so many others. Seen as too costly to the council budget. Why does one library succeed and others do not. I think about the current library I have access to. It is a fairly large 2 story modern building. It seems to always range from very busy to busy. There are slow times, but they are far and few between. Maybe is the vast range of items they offer. The wide selection of books, the huge computer areas, the many specific rooms, used for groups, clubs and special events. The appeal of the children's area, with almost as many toys to be played with as there are books on shelves. The very specific computer facilities geared towards young minds. The layout and design. The teen area is one I have never seen in a library before. Very well done. The inter-library lending system within the state of Michigan is also a huge benefit to the library patron. The vast amount of digital resources available to the member without even stepping foot in the building.
There is a thought posed in the story that libraries are of little value to an author. As a influencer and reviewer, I have many times put in a request with my local library that they purchase a book I have read, and enjoyed. This is something that is actively encouraged by author's themselves. I would beg to differ on this opinion that having libraries take away book sales. For me, even though I read mountains more digital copies than paperbacks, my bookshelves at home are filled with 90% books I pre-read either in the library or as a eARC copy. Books I love make it onto my shelves regardless if I have read them before purchase. It is an absolute benefit to an author to have their books 'discovered' on the shelves of a library. In fact I have found most my new authors that way.
Its interesting to me, as I live in a small town that has no library service to most residents - I am one of the lucky ones, we live far enough on the edge that we are pulled into the school district for the town with the library. As such we get to enjoy those library benefits. Friends not more than a mile away however, have to pay a yearly fee if they wish to become a member. I would pay for library membership especially with the one we have on offer, its uses have been far reaching and absolutely vital to me and my family.
Overall, I enjoyed the ending, it was presented well. I still lacked belief in the conviction of Greta's final feelings towards Will. It felt a little off.
Becca Wilhite writes clean contemporary fiction. There's a wide array of opinion over this book, which says to me, the reviewer, that everyone has a different taste, and take away for the books they read. Give it a go. You may love it. I just didn't, and hopefully I have explained why.
I received this eARC from Shadow Mountain & Netgalley. This is my honest review.
I started getting into this fun story on Bookshelf's ebook then it ended because it was a sample! I will try again when the full book is available :)
So much fun! I absolutely loved this book! This was my first time reading a Becca Wilhite book, but it definitely won't be the last! It starts with an adorable cover, and from the first page doesn't disappoint. I, personally, want to move into the old library the main character wants to save. I loved the description, and the situation was believable. What made it fun was the hint of Cyrano de Bergerac. I loved Wilhite's twist on the classic tale, and her humor was refreshing and fun. Some may not like how the character acted, but I feel it was honest and showed a beautiful arc in her development. A fabulous and fun read!
So glad there are authors out there who write clean, fun stories like this!
This was a really fun read that I enjoyed. The catchy t-shirt phrases and Greta's relationships with both Mac and Will are fun. It also brings to light what I feel are issues cities are facing with libraries. I'm not sure how I feel about the ending just yet but I would highly recommend this book to anyone, especially romantic-book-lovers.
This book was so much fun! I loved the plot, I loved Greta and I really loved all of the twists and turns she had to take on the way to her happily ever after.
Greta's character was so great! You see the whole story through her eyes, and that works for this book. I still wish I knew what Will or Mac were thinking through some of it, but...it wouldn't have worked as well. Greta is so passionate about books and the library in general. I loved the way she would go through the old papers and all of the people in them become so real to her. I was so happy that she was able to figure out what happened to some of those people. I also loved that she was able to work hard to save the library and learn a really big lesson throughout the whole thing.
Will is Greta's best friend. I loved the way he was so in tune with her that he pretty much always knew what she needed. I kind of felt bad for the way Greta and sometimes others would talk about him, he seemed like a really great guy! He always goes out of his way to do things for her and get her the best birthday gifts.
Enter Mac. I had to laugh at the way Mac was presented as Greta's 24th birthday present. But there were many things about him that just seemed off. I kept wondering just how Greta couldn't see the things that weren't quite right, but she never seemed to.
I can't tell you much more without giving something away. There were so many things that I loved about this book! Can't wait for more from this author!
2.5 stars, rounding up
This a tough book to review. I'm not sure where to start.
I'll start with the cover. I love it. Easily one of my favorites. It makes me happy just looking at it because I love books and reading and libraries hold a special place in my heart. I have so many good memories that revolve around libraries and reading. Which is one thing I love about the main character, Greta. She works in a library that is in danger of closing. Greta is a fantastic supporter of books, reading and her library. She works feverishly to save the library she loves. It is, by far, her best redeeming quality. I loved her library tweets. It made me wonder if my library does that! I want to be a library tweeter!
I think my hangups might be because this book is told from Greta's point of view only. It becomes a bit tedious hearing all about Greta and how she views everyone and everything. Aside from her job at the library, Greta is very self centered. At least she comes across that way. It's all about what everyone else can do for her or how they make her feel. There isn't anything about Greta being a good friend to Will or doing kind things for him. She doesn't even do nice things for Mac. It's all about what he can do for her. It's so very one sided. I had such a hard time liking Greta and unfortunately, it's hard to love a book when you just don't like the main character very much.
I think there were many attempts at humor in this book that just sort of fell flat for me. Especially when those attempts at humor came at the expense of someone else. I did love the scene where Greta literally sews herself into her dress. That was funny to imagine.
I have read other books by this author that I have enjoyed. This book isn't a make or break deal for me, I'll be back to her future books. She has a such an easy writing style that I love. It's easy to settle in with her words.
- I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.
I'm glad I kept reading to the end, because the beginning was a bit rough. I loved the aged library setting and Greta's passion for her job as a librarian. Being in her head however, was a bit of a trip. There was a lot of random information passing through her narrative that showed her personality and life and seemed like they were supposed to be sassy/snarky/quirky, but I have to admit it was rather annoying and I began skimming. Her thoughts about Mac and his hotness were so shallow... and she completely embraced that shallowness in her own thoughts on more than one occasion. Flawed and totally frustrating.
Greta has an amazing friend in Will, but because he's fat, he's stuck in the friends-only zone. She laments about how others don't give him a fair shot or the attention he deserves because of his appearance, and is self-righteously defensive of him. Hypocrite, much? Other thoughts of hers come across as judgemental, but right when I get fed up, other redeeming qualities come forth- her work in bringing local history to light by organizing and digitizing forgotten scraps, letters, and photos. Her focus on fundraising to save the library from budget cuts. Her activism in standing up for the library on social media and in other... attention-grabbing ways. Her SLOW realization that Will is supportive in all the right ways, and Mac is coming up short.
By the last third of the book I was invested in the outcome- it's obvious that Will is the words behind Mac, but the way Greta finds out was a little belated, and then it's Will who is the villain. But honestly, as much as Will is a good friend to her- is she a good friend to him? I wish the author would have made Greta more likeable by showing the ways she supports Will and is there for him in his life, besides letting him be her friend. Maybe because it's written in first person, it comes across as "the Greta show" but I don't think that's just it. The way it's written, I think she comes across as self-centered and selfish, but would never see herself that way. Even in the end, when she forgives Will and decides to "try" a romantic relationship, it's about the words he tells her, not what she feels for him.
Some other secondary characters were interesting and I think the book would have benefited from exploring them a bit more, or at least making them a bit more three-dimensional- Greta's mother, Marigold- the young hippie, Mr. Greenwood- the neighborhood hoarder, and the other librarians- Julie, Bonita, and Kevin.
(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)
I don’t think there is any book in The Proper Romance Collection that could be bad! This book was so cute, and so entertaining.
Greta works in a Library, that is facing extinction. She is putting all her efforts into way to save her beloved library. There is just something so magical about libraries. I have to admit I don’t check out from libraries, but sitting in them is magical.
This is a book that had a lot of “oh my gosh, how stupid are you” moments coming out of my mouth, and then the next sentence would be “oooohhhhhh”. Wilhite brought out a lot of emotions for me in this beautiful, and passionate love story.
Gretta had a great passion for her work, and her friends. Especially Will. He has always been her saving grace in every stage of life.
The ONLY thing I didn’t like about this book was how often Will was referred to as “large”. I wish we could only meet people through knowing their heart first before ever actually seeing them. There would be a lot less judgment in the world. Being a good person is what we should all be, and Will was a great example of that.
Having said all that, Will is by far my most favorite character in this book. He is one of the most swoon worthy men I have read about in a long time. He has so much love to give, he is kind, he is compassionate, and he is a poet…. mmmmmm.
There are moments in this book when I wanted to throw my book, but had to see what was going to happen next, so I had to wait 😊.
Pick this book up, you won’t regret it. It was a pleasure reading from beginning to end.