Monday, January 1, 2024

Library Loans

Positively, Penelope
 by Pepper D. Basham
Published by Thomas Nelson on August 1, 2023
Age/Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Told mostly through letters, texts, and email, this contemporary romance will charm its way into hearts as Penelope rescues a theater and discovers her true self in the process.

Penelope Edgewood is practically positive in every way, so when, fresh out of college, she is awarded a paid internship to help save a century-old theater on the island of Skymar, she jumps at the chance. After all, a crumbling theater needs the special touch of someone who reveres all things vintage and adores the stage.

Unfortunately, not everything is as it seems at Darling House Theatre. Finances are in shambles, the local theater group is disenchanted, and the two brothers, Matt and Alec Gray, can’t seem to see eye-to-eye about how to run their theatrical business. So, of course, it’s the perfect place for Penelope to shine her own personal brand of sunshine.

With a little help from GK, the person emailing her encouragement along the way, she puts all her heart into helping the Grays save Darling House. But between Matt’s ever-present skepticism, Alec’s tendency to treat Penelope a little too much like the “princess” she thinks she wants to be (until someone actually started treating her that way), a grandfather who is stuck in his grief, and a mysterious person stealing Penelope’s marketing ideas, she’s not sure her optimism is enough to make a happily-ever-after of her own story, let alone The Darling House’s.

Between an adorable little girl, a matchmaker, a sea monster or two, and a copious amount of musical references, can Penelope draw enough confidence from her faith, her family, and her adoration of all things Julie Andrews, to find the thief and save the theater . . . without getting her heart broken in the process?

I was excited to return to Skymar after loving Authentically Izzy. This time, the focus was on the youngest sister, Penelope and her adventures in Skymar as she attempted to save the Darling Theatre.

This book had a lot going for it. I wasn't sure about Penelope at first, but I absolutely grew to adored her. She came off as vapid and flighty, though sweet, in the previous book. I am always skeptical of people who are too cheerful, but I found Penelope to be so genuine. There was this part where she talked about choosing to be positive that really solidified my love for her because she had experienced disappointments and pain, but she chose to be optimistic and move forward.

It's easy to see that Penelope was a sunshine character, and she found her perfect match with the grumpy Matt. Matt really was a bah-humbug kind of guy. He anti-princess stance was really appalling, if you ask me. That's why it was so lovely to see him slowly thaw due to Penelope's contagious positivity.

Other things I loved

  • Iris, Matt's daughter, was precious.
  • Luke still slays me (and can't wait to read his book!)
  • The family emails and texts are always hilarious
  • The save-the-theatre storyline was wonderful. The focus on family and community really warmed my heart.

Overall, I adored my return to Skymar. I had a great time rooting for Penelope as she rallied the community to save The Darling while earning their hearts and affection. I will eagerly await Luke's book and cannot wait to see him find love.

 by Lauren Forsythe
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on August 1, 2023
Age/Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

One woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure.

A woman with high standards. A rival coworker. And the promotion that stands between them . . .

Coder Marina Spicer has no time to waste when it comes to love, hence her long list of dealbreakers. Frustrated by the online dating world, she created Dealbreakers, an anonymous app where women review how men stack up to their internet profiles. Her high standards have served her well at work, so why not in love?

Enter Lucas Kennedy. A charming Irish content writer, he’s the only one standing between Marina and her long-deserved promotion. Much to Marina’s chagrin, the two are paired on a project to test out date ideas, ultimately determining which of them will run the department. Taking a peek at Dealbreakers hoping to learn some dirt about her rival, she finds he’s the worst-rated man on the entire app.

As Lucas and Marina argue their way through mixing cocktails, salsa dancing, and throwing axes, Marina finds herself having more fun than she’s had in years. So when temptation becomes too strong to resist, Marina allows herself to break some of her own rules. After all, if the Dealbreakers say he’s Mr. Wrong, he can’t possibly be Mr. Right . . . can he?

On her own after 15 years in a relationship, Marina was determined to find her Mr. Right. Though she was armed with her list of requirements and dealbreakers, it seemed her soulmate could be someone who broke all her rules.

Fun and cute, this book put a big grin on my face. I adored this couple so much! Marina and Lucas were something special together. What started as a workplace competition turned into friendship and more, and it was such a treat to witness. Part of the competition involved Marina and Lucas going on outings to determine if they would be better for groups or dates. These excursions were fabulous and gave these two the space to get to know each other better and on a different level.

Though I understood why Marina was sticking to her guns when it came to her requirements and dealbreakers, I still found myself frustrated that she was blind to Lucas' adoration. He was so sweet! He hid a bit behind his charm, but like Marina, he was also trying to protect his heart.

There were plenty of great supporting characters to try and push these two together. Marina's two best friends were her greatest supporters, and I am always excited to see a strong female friendship take the spotlight.

Sweet and adorable, this rom-com was a gentle reminder to live in the moment and to open your eyes to opportunity, take chances, and sometimes, break your own rules.

Do you have any dealbreakers?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. Penelops sounds fun. I really like stories told now through text, email, etc. It's nice when done well.

    Happy New Year!

    1. This whole series is that that way with some regular narration.

  2. These both sound fun. The texts in the first have me interested in the first. I love when those are part of a good book.
    One dumb comment... The covers are too similar for me. It could have been the same couple in both! But I probably wouldn't have noticed if they weren't right next to each other. I thought you were reviewing a series for a minute.

    1. You know, everyone doing illustrated covers. They both have the same feel, for sure. The family emails are a hoot in Penelope (as they were in Izzy). I love hearing from all of them.

  3. One woman's trash is another woman's treasure. Oh how I love that synopsis! And when you say sweet and adorable...

  4. Aww, Marina and Lucas sound so cute!

  5. These both sound so fun! My goal this year is to read more of the books I already own but visiting your blog posts from this week just had me adding at least 3 more new titles to my TBR, haha.

    1. HA! Too many books, I know. I always swear I will read more of my own books, and then I read a ton of library books. I don't buy many though, so that's good. Good luck clearing your shelves