Cover Image: Authentically, Izzy

Authentically, Izzy

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Member Reviews

I am a huge fan of epistolary novels so I was excited to see this one about a librarian! 
It started out well, but I got bogged down around the 25% mark. It seemed like there were too many messages between Izzy and her cousins that didn't all keep the story moving along. 
Brodie and Izzy were an absolute delight. 
The secondary plot with Eli was a huge disappointment. It seemed thrown in simply to cause conflict, except that it never really did cause conflict because the reaction to Brodie was so big...and the reaction to Eli was never enough to make it seem like he was a viable contender. 
Then I was knocked for a loop when part 2 started. Suddenly, we're seeing the emails from Brodie's point of view, which I wasn't expecting at all. And then shortly after that, it switched to regular narration. By that point, I wasn't sure what was going on anymore and I felt untethered from the world of the story because I no longer had any idea how it was going to be told. 
I'm currently on the fence whether I'll finish the book or just let it go at this point. Even if I don't decide to continue the book, I still feel it's worth three stars because Brodie and Izzy are just so lovely together and I'd be satisfied just assuming they end up together happily ever after.
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Good contemporary romance novel that delivered on what I needed at the time.

Sometimes you just need a clean romance that's going to make you happy
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This is a sweet concept of a woman down on her luck in dating whose cousin forces her to try out the online format to find love. I wasn't a big fan of the storytelling style through email/texts, then when it swapped partially to prose over halfway through the book it became even more confusing to follow the format choices. Overall the story was enjoyable but very predictable for me. I have read or seen this plot many times before, so Izzy's story wasn't the most interesting spin on it. I did like the aspect that Izzy was a super bookish character, which I think most readers really will. connect to.
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Yes, I am behind the times with some of my reading, so I have made it a goal in 2023 to read one book each month that is on my tbr from last year or longer. This issue is simple: there is not enough time in the day/week/month/year for me to get to all the books I want to read. Including Pepper Basham’s 2022 epistolary novel, Authentically, Izzy.

Let me start by saying there is one thing I found a little out of touch with today’s culture (and the age of her characters) in the book and that was how often Izzy and her cousins emailed each other. With apps, texts, and social media, I think the main source of communication (other than face-to-face interactions) take place through those over email. But, those types messages are short, and Izzy would never be able to communicate her heart and process through anything other than email. Also, my generation (Gen-X) does use email, so I enjoyed the exchanges.

This book had some laughable moments and some great exchanges between Izzy and her cousins as well as Izzy and Brodie. And I absolutely loved that Brodie and Izzy got to know each other as friends through their correspondence before they ever met each other. And when they do finally meet, it is worth the journey to get there because of the foundation they’ve built sharing themselves with each other.

I find it true that I am often willing to share more when writing to someone than I am in an in-person conversation. That’s partly due to the back and forth that happens naturally and the fact I don’t want to dominate the time, but also because sometimes it’s easier to open up when I am alone only facing a computer screen. Basham brought this out beautifully in Izzy’s story. And I am elated that Penelope and Luke (Izzy’s cousins) have their own stories coming.

Disclosure statement: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book and was not required to write a positive or negative review. All opinions are my own.
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I could not be more pleasantly surprised with this book! I LOVED it!  I could not put it down!  Thank you Ms Basham! I have found a new author that has sent me to the moon with her witty banter and her perfectly perfect descriptions of finding that perfect for you lines! I was dying and can not wait for Penelope's story and hope there is one for Luke! I fell in love with the lovely island and the fun small town in North Carolina! Thank you so much!
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Let’s just get one thing straight: Pepper Basham knows how to write fantastic books. Here she is offering up a partially epistolary story (a style that I would never have read by anyone else) and she MADE ME LOVE THIS STYLE!!! Y’all, it has loads of book references, snarky wit, snappy dialogue, awesome characters, and a sweet and swoony romance that will curl your toes. I loved the emails and the texts that filled the pages and brought these characters to full color life. I love the lessons learned and the real, raw conversations that, while sometimes painful, needed to be had. I loved the journey of love for Brodie and Izzy and how it made them better. Essentially, I loved the whole book - every page. I even messaged Pepper the second I finished it to tell her how amazing it is. So, please, please, please, please, please!!! Go get this book so you can enjoy it too. I promise, no regrets.

I received this temporary complimentary E-book from the author via NetGalley. I am not required by anyone to write a positive review and the opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.
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This was such a cute read, perfect for a cozy weekend in. I love love LOVE epistolary novels and this was a fun, modern twist on it.
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I absolutely loved this book. It hooked me and kept me turning pages until I was done. Finished it in two days! The character development was strong, and the premise was unique enough that it didn't feel like anything else I've read.
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Was i hesitant to pick up this book because my sisters name was izzy? Yes! But I’m glad i gave it a chance. It was very cute. I loved it.
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I really enjoyed this! I loved how a lot of it was written through emails/messages. When it jumped to longer writing, that was a little jarring but didn't detract too much from the flow. I loved the storyline and that it was set in bookshops/libraries - heaven!
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I have to admit, I struggled with this book for almost the first half. I'm always a sucker for epistolary books - ones written in letters, that is - and this one is almost entirely written that way. Although I found the circumstances of Izzy's love life sad, I found the whole Lord of the Rings obsession a little over the top for a 30 year old woman, and the letters between her and her penpal so flowery and cloying and the ones between her and her cousins just too clever. Then all of a sudden, I found myself laughing out loud instead of rolling my eyes. I was rooting for Izzy and Brodie, regardless of the outcome. Something clicked into place and I did not want to stop reading this book!

I found the creation of a new country, history and language such a fantastic twist and the ultimate tribute to Lord of the Rings. I loved Izzy's relationship with her cousins, but of them all, I think Luke was my favorite. His advice is what finally hits home for Izzy.

Read this book. Fall in love with Izzy and Brodie and everyone else. I can't wait to read another book by this author.

Thank you, NetGalley, for the chance to read and review this book. All opinions expressed are mine and given freely.
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Cute, authentic and utterly bookish! I really enjoyed the story of Izzy and her personality, how relatable she felt. The formatting of the book was really unique with the texts/emails and I really appreciated that this was a soft romance read, with no "spicy elements". Sometimes all you need is some sweet, wholesome bundle of joy kinda romance!

Thank you so much for the Publisher for the advanced ebook!
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I tried to like this book but couldn't get past the email-format it takes. Too hard to sustain for a whole book so I'm afraid I gave up.
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I love a good mixed media book, and getting one mostly consisting of emails was such a fun surprise that I wasn't expecting. Izzy was such an amazing protagonist she was extremely strong-willed and dint let anything get in her way despite her difficult past. Brodie was truly one of the best love interests I loved his and Izzy's relationship and all of their bookish talk. if you are looking for a cozy and sweet, no-steam romance this is a new fav for sure.
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Story of the book-

Izzy Edgewood is a Lord of the Rings nerd, quote queen, and would-be bookshop owner who has been patiently waiting for her prince charming to arrive. But when you spend more time with imaginary characters than actual people, it’s difficult to make friends. For this reason, Izzy’s pragmatic cousin Josephine makes the interfering decision to construct an online dating profile for the aspiring romantic.

Izzy is surprised (and suspicious) when Josie’s scheme succeeds. She soon finds herself conversing with Brodie, a Hobbit enthusiast who lives in a little town on the other side of the ocean from her Blue Ridge Mountains house. But will Izzy’s dread of flying and the actual distance between them be overcome by their common love of reading, family, and correspondence? A local author has been frequenting the library where she works and is proving to be a perfectly nice guy, so is a long-distance relationship even worth considering?

My review-

I had my doubts about a book that was primarily made up of emails and messages, but wow was I mistaken! The writing of Pepper Basham immediately captured my heart; it is deliciously smart and amusing. Your heart will be satisfied and deliciously boosted after reading this epistolary tale. The Lord of the Rings, Jane Eyre, Jane Austen, Harry Potter, and countless more books are all mentioned in this book, which book lovers will like. Pepper Basham creates a pleasantly upbeat tale full of heartwarming scenes, literary quotations, and endearing characters that will stay in your heart.

The texts and emails that Izzy and her cousins exchanged made me feel as though I was a part of them. I even had the impression that one of the cousins was listening in on the discussions. This tale was charming, loveable, and nice all around. This contains every romantic element you could want, from the love between the cousins to Brodie and his family. Izzy captured my heart on the first page, and all I wanted was for her to smile and be joyful once more. She was so heartbroken when her life was once more flipped upside down, and I wept along with her because I adore it when authors make me cry. Izzy is a powerful lady who loves books and just wants to discover true love and establish a bookshop. She is witty and comes from a loving but controlling household. And Brodie is a beautiful hero who is kind and funny. He also comes from a loving family.

Writer Pepper Basham has potential. Her word choice is exceptional, and her descriptions are thorough and understandable. I am eager to read her other works since I adore her writing style. In this book, fantastic people and a delightful plot are wrapped in letters, quotations, and other literary details before being tied up with a pretty romantic bow. There is no need to seek further if you want to read an inspirational, wholesome romance. Basham’s most recent book is a charming epistolary tale that unites two like-minded people who become friends and communicate more via email.
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Oh what a perfectly adorable and delight read Authentically Izzy is! Pepper Basham, your characters and writing have my heart. 

First of all, I adored the epistolary reading experience here with the text composed primarily of emails and text messages. It was done so well and didn’t feel jilted at all while reading. The storytelling is pure gold and I loved the wit and humor worked into it all. Basham’s writing is truly a notch above in every way! Not to mention my absolute Iove for these characters, particularly Izzy and how relatable she was. 

This is a romance that gives you all the feels without being cheesy and just so charming, fun, and enjoyable! It was everything I needed in my reading life and is one I highly recommend picking up if you’re in the mood for a clean, feel-good romance read! Bravo, bravo!!! 

Many thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for the gifted e-copy!
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I was initially very excited to begin this epistolary novel about two Tolkien lovers who meet on a dating site, and my enthusiasm stayed with me until Izzy started talking about her job, and then my pleasure in the concept of the book began to clash with the reality of the book.

About that epistolary form I was so thrilled to read? Izzy and her entire family seem to use email for conversations most people would have via text or IM, and while it’s not even close to the most annoying thing about this book, it does strike me as very, very weird. Around page 250 it switches from epistolary to 3rd person narrative without warning and it’s jarring. Then it goes back and forth between emails and narrative and…eh. (Oh, yeah, I found this note to myself at page 150: “Reading this just feels like a chore. I would rather not read the next 300-ish pages.” Ouch.)

Early on, I wasn’t sure why Izzy wanted to quit being a librarian, since she claims the library is one of her favorite places, but as I read I decided that Izzy wanted to quit being a librarian because she’s not actually a very good one. She doesn’t seem to know about interlibrary loan or the concept of placing books on hold: she wants to read Wodehouse (fine), but they’re checked out (so sad), and then they’re checked out AGAIN before she can read them after they’re returned. Does her library’s catalog not allow people to place books on hold? I am baffled and bemused by what is clearly mismanagement on her aunt’s part. (Of course, her aunt apparently thinks a television remote counts as using technology, so maybe she’s not a great choice for “lead librarian.” On the other hand, Izzy’s family is unbelievably clueless about some pretty obvious cultural touchstones. Not knowing who Keats is? Or what Lord of the Rings is? I can only assume that they live in caves in the Blueridge Mountains.)

I’m not sure the author actually spends much time in libraries: she thinks that Izzy is too creative for librarianship when the only creative thing she’s done is organize a parade where children dress up like their favorite book character (I think that’s called cosplay?). Librarianship is all about creativity, Ms Basham.

I think the reason Izzy is a bad librarian (other than the author having no idea what librarians actually do) might be that she double majored in library science and British literature in college. A bachelor’s degree in library science is basically useless (sort of like a bachelor’s in law) unless you live in an exceptionally small town (which Izzy seems to) and your aunt is the “lead librarian” (whatever that is) at the local library (which she apparently is). Ordinarily I would say it’s for the best that Izzy wants to get out of libraries, but Izzy dreams of opening a bookshop except she is afraid of math. She should not open a bookshop. Especially not one called The Prints & the BookWyrm. That is a very bad name.

While I’m complaining, how about I just make a list?

● The formatting in the epub version I read was jarring in its transitions between emails, text messages, and back again.
● It’s hilarious that Izzy can’t get into a novel because of “inflated characters.” Everyone in this book feels like a rip-off of a better character in another book.
● There’s some made-up Scandinavian Scotland that’s apparently going to be important later on. It’s looking for immigrants, which is weird when it could just open its borders to refugees. There are lots of those coming into Europe all the time.
● Brodie’s little sister is blind/going blind due to a nonspecific “degenerative disease” that can be stopped with surgery that they can’t afford. Their family is hoping to use the aforementioned stipend for luring Izzy to work/wed in their nation to pay for the surgery. Or to prop up their struggling bookstores.
● Izzy’s pregnant cousin (daughter of Izzy’s boss) is obsessed with getting Izzy married off, to the point where she sets up a dating profile for her and then continues to try to set her up with blind dates IRL, too. She is like Mrs. Bennet, but pregnant and godly.
● Around page 42 God and his plan come up as a topic and I’m now concerned that this book is a bait-and-switch. I really don’t care to read religious romances, or even non-religious ones where the pair have “devout faith.” There’s more discussion of “fellow congregants” in the next email. I very much feel that I was tricked into reading this. (Happily, it never gets too preachy, but it’s there and I just don’t like reading overtly Christian romances, okay?)

You’ll notice I’ve said next to nothing about the male lead so far. That’s because Brodie is boring. His family owns the only bookstores in their pseudo-Scotland island nation and it’s still faltering because they run the stores like Aziraphale. He is amazed by ideas like “put your pretty books in the window so they can be seen,” and “sell stationery supplies.” At one point he has a dick-measuring contest with the suitor of Izzy’s cousin’s choice in Izzy’s library WHILE SHE IS WORKING using book stacks. I kid you not. It’s about the most interesting thing he does.

The best part of the book are the messages Izzy gets from non-Brodie characters on the dating site her cousin signs her up for. The message from “Doyle’s protege” delighted me. I have met this man, I’m sure of it. You probably have, too. Unless you are this man, in which case, maybe don’t be?

If you like sex-free romance between unrealistic book nerds with overbearing families that fall quite short of charming, this is the book for you.
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This was such an adorable book! I loved the format and how relatable Izzy was. Definitely not what I have been reading lately and it was a good change of pace for me. It's the perfect heartwarming romance book that gives you all the feel good feelings you have been looking for. There is something for everyone in this book and I think it deserves more hype!
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Heartwarming, charming and cute novel

Thank you to netgalley for sending me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a honest opinion

I wasn't very keen about a book composed mainly e-mails and texts, but  was I completely mistaken! Pepper Basham's writing immediately drew me in; it's wonderfully witty and highly entertaining.

I adored the two love interests and their nerdy bantar

However the writing style wasnt my favourite
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A delicious, witty, entertaining romance. 
Many thanks to Thomas Nelson Fiction and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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