Monday, May 12, 2014

The Chapel Wars - Lindsey Leavitt

The Chapel Wars - Lindsey Leavitt
The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Source/Format: Publisher (Thanks Erica & Bloomsbury!) || ARC
[I received this book for review from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

Sixteen-year-old Holly wants to remember her Grandpa forever, but she’d rather forget what he left her in his will: his wedding chapel on the Las Vegas strip. Whatever happened to gold watches, savings bonds, or some normal inheritance?

And then there's Grandpa's letter. Not only is she running the business with her recently divorced parents, but she needs to make some serious money--fast. Grandpa also insists Holly reach out to Dax, the grandson of her family's mortal enemy and owner of the cheesy chapel next door. No matter how cute Dax is, Holly needs to stay focused: on her group of guy friends, her disjointed family, work, school and... Dax. No wait, not Dax.

Holly’s chapel represents everything she’s ever loved in her past. Dax might be everything she could ever love in the future. But as for right now, there's a wedding chapel to save. (from Goodreads)

If I were to describe The Chapel Wars in a single word, it would have to be cute. That really sums it up, whether in reference to Holly and her family and friends, the efforts to save the Rose of Sharon wedding chapel or the budding Romeo-and-Juliet type romance between Holly and Dax. It was fun to read, and certainly made me smile. But alas, it did not leave the kind of impression that lasts.

Don’t get me wrong – there are certainly a number of things I liked about The Chapel Wars. Holly is definitely an enjoyable, likable character. She is determined to save the family’s chapel, using her smarts and her way with numbers. It’s clear that she cares about her friends and her family. It is also obvious that she cares bout Dax, even when he pushes all her buttons or does stupid things. What makes her so easy to relate to is how she deals with loss and grief, and how it serves as a catalyst for her personal growth.

Apart from Holly, the novel is populated with fun, lovable characters. Holly’s group of (guy) friends are just great to be around, even though they’re typical boys interested in sports and girls. They’re super protective of Holly, and clearly care about her. Among the group is Holly’s best friend Sam, who is a sweetheart, a romantic and a Potterhead (a bonus!). Sam’s girlfriend Camille, though she appears to be Holly’s opposite in every way, turns out to be a great friend too.

Then there’s Holly’s family – her divorced parents, her older sister Lenore, her little brother James and, of course, Grandpa Jim. We can throw Donna (who works for the chapel) in there too. Everyone except Lenore is tied to the chapel in some way, with her mother helping with couples, her father with photos, her little brother with advertising and promotions and Donna in charge of running the administrative parts of the place. They might sound like a dysfunctional group, but they really just have a unique dynamic with kinks that need to be worked out.

Dax, of course, is lovely. He’s the grandson of Victor Cranston, the man who owns the chapel next door… and who happens to be “enemies” with Grandpa Jim. What I liked best about him was that he was sweet and wonderful and nice, but he also had his own heartache and heartbreak to deal with. Their relationship is predicated on banter and acceptance, and I really appreciated that.

There are also a couple more details I liked. How setting the story in Las Vegas felt fun, fresh and very different. How Holly’s “formula” that determines whether or not a couple married at their chapel will stay together. How the ending, even though it still had a “happily ever after” vibe, still felt pretty realistic.

Based on these paragraphs, it sounds like there was no reason for me to not fall in love with The Chapel Wars. Sadly, it felt like the story lacked a bit of depth to me when it came to certain details (like the history behind the feud between the families, or the unique situations Holly faced). But the clincher was my inability to truly feel connected to Holly. It felt like I was just watching everything unfold, like a made-for-TV movie.

I don’t particularly consider The Chapel Wars a memorable read. But I’m fairly certain that many readers are going to enjoy reading Holly’s story! I sure don’t regret reading my first Lindsey Leavitt! It was definitely cute and so enjoyable, which makes me feel like I should try her other novels at so me point.

9 comments:

  1. Omg! This sounds so cute! And I adore the cover, it looks awesome. If I would just hear the title I would have to think about something with weddings :P Loved reading the review!

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  2. It sounds like this book is perfect for a lazy afternoon poolside read. The story kept you entertained, but didn't leave a huge impression. I call these poolside reads because they're perfect for the time being, but doesn't require you to lose track of time and end up a burned lobster! haha I am excited to meet Lindsey Leavitt tomorrow for the First Loves Book Tour :)

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  3. There are times when a light book is a good fit, but I can see how maybe having something that didn't have a lot of "meat" to it might not hit the spot...

    Kate @ Ex Libris

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  4. Have you read anything else by this author? I'm all about these cute, fun reads. I thought it was so much fun and I loved learning more about Las Vegas from the inside. Grief books can weigh me down so much, and I appreciated that the tone of this wasn't so heavy. Sorry this didn't wow you, but I'm glad you liked it overall.

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  5. *nods at this whole review* Yes!!! This book was super cute, and completely enjoyable at the time you're reading it but not exactly memorable in the long run. I wish I'd connected with Holly more too but she's a good character, as thhey come. Lovely review, Alexa!

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  6. The Chapel Wars seems interesting! It's a shame that it doesn't leave a lasting impression. I haven't read it yet but I hope I can soon.

    Audrey @ Geeky Chiquitas

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  7. The Chapel Wars seems interesting! It's a shame that it doesn't leave a lasting impression. I haven't read it yet but I hope I can soon.

    Audrey @ Geeky Chiquitas

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  8. I'm sorry this book wasn't memorable for you, but at least you enjoyed it overall and didn't feel like it was a few hours wasted. :) Sometimes books just don't wow you. I loved the cuteness of it all, and especially Dax, with his adorable banter and scruff. :)

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  9. I can agree with that! I really enjoyed the book but since I had already read Going Vintage also by Leavitt, it didn't stick with me as much as that one did. I really liked the Vegas aspect and the romance was so cute! I think Holly didn't make as big of an impression on me as I would have liked so I really did enjoy the book a lot but didn't fall head over heels for it.

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