Cover Image: Authentically, Izzy

Authentically, Izzy

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Thirty year old Izzy Edgewood is a librarian with meddling and fun loving cousins/siblings, when of them signed her up on a dating site. She gets to know Brodie Sutherland who lives on the other side of the ocean, on a whole different continent and what ensues is a slow burn relationship of mega cuteness proportions!

Ok ok, so I actually loved this. As a whole, it's so adorable and the MCs were so lovable. Brodie is just the sweetest of cuppiecakes ok! I grinned and giggled and sheepishly smiled... a lot. I loved how it was very very bookish, with a lot of book references of many genres and authors (for you Austen and Bronte and Tokien fans) and citing quotes and even including trivias. I loved how quirky Izzy is and unapologetically herself. Like i said, i loved Brodie. Enough said. Hee. 

But i didn't like the love triangle that was thrown in. It was a little unnecessary alongside the other problem factor to their relationship buildup. I enjoyed the epistolary way of writing at first. It was unique to have a story told through emails and SMSes. But it got a little too much for me. It went on for much too much, it got tiring. To read mails and messages from so many characters and actually keeping track of what written by whom. Eventhough i know it was like somewhat a crux to the storyline. That affected my fun a little. Cause let me tell you this book was fun. It got to regular prose somewhere in the last paets and all was right in the world again. This was a good blend of romantic. And sweet. And adorable. *looong siiigh* I was just a weeeee bit put off by the extensive run in emails and smses.

I think if you loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, you would definitely love this. If you are a hopeless romantic, you'd so love this too. Have i said i loved Brodie?!
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We meet Izzy when her meddling cousin, Josephine sets her up on an online dating site. But shockingly, she instantly connects with a fellow Hobbit lover named Brodie. We see their long-distance relationship develop through messages back and forth, as Izzy is in the UK and Brodie lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Is Izzy brave enough to face her fears and fly across the world to meet who could be the one?

First, Authentically, Izzy is primarily an epistolatory novel told through emails. It took me a little while to get into both the format and the book as it was definitely a slow-burn romance between the pair. But the relationship build-up was enjoyable, as were the meddling family dynamics. 

If you're looking for a heartwarming and unique closed-door romance, I think you'd enjoy Authentically, Izzy.
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An absolutely wonderful book! It is full of being yourself, even when literally everyone around you is saying to be someone else. Don't be ashamed of who you are! This book is full of amazing quotes and book references that will keep you happy until the very end! The romance is so so sweet. I couldn't have asked for a better book!
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I absolutely love Basham's writing, and once again, am in love with another set of her characters.  This is such a sweet story, with humor, randomness, and romance all mixed together, which makes it lovely. 

I saw a three star review that described Authentically, Izzy as clean, sweet, and reality free.  It absolutely is, and that's why I unashamedly give this book 5 stars.  As a North Carolina native, I love that the book is partially set in NC.  The book is also available in audio with two narrators, and despite having read the book, I immediately checked out the audio book out on book launch day, and am already 1/3 way through.  I love the book even more the second time around.  

Authentically, Izzy is written in epistolary format, as a series of emails and texts, with a little extra thrown in.  I wasn't sure how I'd like this style, but having read another epistolary I enjoyed, and knowing I adore Pepper Basham's books, I didn't hesitate to joint the launch team when given the opportunity.  Well, I'm so thankful I was given that opportunity to read an ARC, and I'm absolutely not required to give a positive review - all this love and excitement for this book are all my own.
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This book took me foreverrrrr to read. Forever for me is 5 days 😂.

Here’s the thing, the premise for this book is adorable, and I applaud the author for trying something different with the format being mostly emails and texts. 

The problem is the format did NOT work for this book. Izzy is writing long drawn out emails to her cousins, one of which lives in the same location as her, the second MOVES to the same location as her shortly after the book starts I think, and the third is off at college. But also they’re texting? Why have long drawn out emails if you’re going to text? And then sometimes they’re like emailing and start off with “during our conversation yesterday…” if you JUST talked in person why are you now emailing when texting exists? And why do you sound like too proper grandparents when they’re all 30 and under?! It just didn’t work.

Now the emails between Izzy and Brodie? Okay, long romantic emails for long distance relationships are cute. But having JUST the emails for the first 60% of the novel was really hard, the story didn’t feel like it was going anywhere, the emails were written in very old-style formal language like how people talked before email, like back when it was parchment and ink and quills and letters took days to get to someone.

If this had been set in a different time period, or if it was only when communication was happening with Izzy and Brodie? Okay, sure. But I ended up just skimming a lot of this until near the end when narration picked up. 

Also there’s like no conflict until 93% in and it’s resolved SO fast. And then everything is just fine. 

For me, this was a TOUGH read. But if you want to try out something new when it comes to the format of your romance novel, feel free to pick this one up. It’s very slow burn, no spice, heart eyes fluffy romance. (There’s nothing wrong with that, I’m just letting you know!)
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Izzy Edgewood is a self-proclaimed introvert who is fond of all things bookish.  While she enjoys her job at the local library, she dreams of opening her own bookstore.  Only, it seems some of her family members have their own ideas for her future.  And then there’s her cousin Josephine who is determined to find her a boy friend  Toward this end, Josephine creates a profile for Izzy on the online dating site Heart to Heart.  Despite Izzy’s initial frustration at her cousin’s antics, it may be the best thing that ever happened to her.

Brodie Sutherland was born and raised on the remote Skymar  Islands..  Given it’s out of the way location and quaint old world charm, the younger generations have flocked to bigger and better places.  Hoping to bring new residents to  the islands, the government has offered a stipend to those residents who bring a new spouse or resident employee to the island.  Brodie’s family could use the stipend to help prop up the family book business, as it has been sliding for the last few years.  And so, Brodie puts himself out there on the on line dating site, Heart to Heart.  He never expected he would truly meet someone like Izzy, someone who loves, honors and appreciates books and literature as much as he does.

This is a story of growth and self actualization.  Written in three parts, the first two consisting primarily of texts and emails between Izzy and her cousins, Luke, Penelope and Josephine,,between Izzy and Brodie, and between Brodie, his mother, his brother Anders and his cousin Brynna.  Though initially I wasn’t sure how I felt about the format, The further I read, the more I realized that the texts and emails provided great insight into the characters personalities.  They also provided a great way for the author to examine both the pros and perceived cons of the relationship as Josephine plays the motherly foil to Izzy’s dreams and Anders is the pessimistic foil to Brodie’s always optimistic attitude. Seeing both sides of the story brings the reader closer to Izzy as she struggles with letting go of her insecurities and taking the biggest chance of her life.

Be aware that there are lots of bookish references and quotes scattered throughout the story.  If the reader doesn't have a passing familiarity with some of the stories, the references may not mean as much, though context will lend clues to their meaning.  All the pieces combine to create an enchanting story that left me with  with a smile on my face and a warm feeling in my heart.
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DNF'd at 20%

I appreciate the review copy but due to my own error I did not realize this was not my kind of novel. I was not a fan of the over use of quotations, the way the story was told got boring so fast. 

I wanted to love this and see how authentically me it was but it was not a fit.
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Title: Authentically, Izzy
Author: Pepper Basham
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: Four
Review:
"Authentically, Izzy" by Pepper Basham

My Assessment:

The author presented this novel, "Authentically," which was told in 'letters, emails, and tests,' in a beautiful, exciting romance that will keep one's interest till the end. What will happen when 'Izzy's matchmaking cousin Josephine signs her up for an online matchmaking service?' How will this turn out for Izzy as he gets to know Brodie as they get to know each other? Be ready for many laughers as the reader continues to turn the pages. I especially like the 'Lord of the Rings references because I am a Lord of the Rings fan.

'Authentically' will present a creative, heartfelt, romantic read with an intriguing premise. To get it all, pick up this good read to see how well this author brings it out to the reader.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
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Isabelle “Izzy” Edgewood is a homebody librarian with dreams of running her own bookstore. But her meddling cousin has other plans and creates an online dating profile for her. Izzy is none too pleased, but she’ll indulge her cousin and have some fun with it. When she starts corresponding with her seemingly perfect match things start getting real. Brodie Sutherland is a Lord of the Rings fan, has an adorably horrible Yoda impersonation, and can talk bookish with her. When she finally meets him in person he’s all she’s been dreaming of and more. He makes her better. Encourages her dreams and talents that she’s been too afraid to share. But no one is perfect and when she finds out why he initially started a correspondence with her she will question their whole relationship.

This was a fun premise for a book. And I enjoyed the characters. They had entertaining quips and voices. And I related to Izzy quite a bit. The romance was pretty cute, too. But I struggled a lot with the format. It’s epistolary and that made it hard for me to get into the story. I didn’t mind when Izzy and Brodie were emailing and corresponding, it was more the emails with the cousins that dragged the story down for me. I wanted to experience her conversations with them. And once her and Brodie started video chats, I would’ve loved reading those scenes and not just being told about them in a long email to her cousins. I think if there was more of a balance of epistolary and regular format I would’ve liked this book more. And it does become more balanced about 50% in, which was great, but also jarring. In the second half of the book we all of the sudden get Brodie’s POV and more regular format writing. This did redeem the book a bit for me. I wish the whole book had been like that. 

I’ve loved Pepper’s other books, but this one wasn’t for me. But I liked the characters enough that if the other books in this series aren’t epistolary then I’d be interested in continuing the series. 

If you enjoy an epistolary formatted book with lots of bookishness and sweet romance, then pick this book up.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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Absolutely loved Pepper Basham's latest, a charming romance told in letters, emails and texts. Two bookish introverts, Izzy and Brodie who adore The Lord of the Rings, meet on a dating site with a sweet connection developing. Only he lives in another country, and Izzy's interfering cousin still tries to set her up with local men. Will Izzy and Brodie ever meet and fall in love in person? I won't tell so as not to spoil this engaging tale, a must-read for fans of creatively written, heart-tugging, laugh-out-loud romances. Highly recommended!
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This is a wonderful, feel-good romance you will not want to put down! 

Izzy is a shy but quirky, book loving gal with no romantic entanglements in sight. She has equally quirky yet meddlesome cousins that believe she should be out there looking for her Mr. Right. When one such cousin enrolls her onto a matchmaking service, Izzy reluctantly begins conversing with someone who seems to have the same book loving qualities as her. Except, she is not quite sure what to believe (is he real or is he old or is he her cousin!?).

Told in a series of emails and text messages, you, the reader, will find no shortage of laugh out loud moments. Pepper Basham is excellent at writing witty banter and swoon worthy romance. I love how Izzy and her online match are Lord of the Rings nerds...right up my alley! Book lovers rejoice at this sweet romantic tale. One of the best I've read in a long while!

Thank you to Thomas Nelson Fiction and NetGalley for the digital ARC. The opinions expressed are my own.
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I was enticed to read this book by a fellow book blogger (thank you, Nicole) and I am so glad that I did! This is a book just made for book lovers like me. Written as an epistolary novel, this is a fairy tale type love story with characters that you just want to embrace. Izzy is looking for love and in a hilarious way seems to find the bottom of the barrel offerings first. When she starts communicating with a too-good-to-be real man from an island that no one has heard of before, then the real fun starts. The emails between Brodie and Izzy show a developing interest in each other and a lot that they have in common. I really enjoyed their quotations from great classics, especially their references to “The Lord of the Rings” and their use of the characters’ names to describe themselves and others. I especially enjoyed the unwelcome and unsolicited advice that Izzy’s well-meaning family members gave her. Levi’s advice was humorous, Penelope’s was wise and cautious, but Josephine’s advice was the best. Josephine was determined that Izzy should be with boring and one-note Eli, but Izzy knows that Eli is a passing fancy and her reaction to Josephine’s advice is priceless. This is a book that uses words well, with tongue-in-cheek humor and not a little bit of a Cinderella focus. I enjoyed seeing Izzy mature through her correspondence and become more like the person she was always meant to be. The pacing is moderately fast and entirely enjoyable. This is an engaging book, perfect for fans of stories with happy endings and a little drama to get there. 
Disclaimer 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guidelines Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”
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When Izzy's matchmaking cousin Josephine, loving but overbearing, signs her up for an online matchmaking service, Izzy meets the expected weirdos but also, incredibly, someone who seems as bookish as herself. Unfortunately, past relationships have taught her that no one ever cares for her for herself - when they get to know her, they either use her or dump her. The more she gets to know Brodie, the more perfect - and therefore unreal - he seems. Besides, he lives overseas, and Izzy is terrified of flying. Can Izzy overcome her doubts and fears to seize the possibility of love?

This grabbed me from the very first page. I'm not always a fan of epistolary-style novels, but I figured I couldn't go wrong with this author - and I was right. The emails and texts had me laughing frequently, but also sympathising with the characters and cheering them on. I particularly appreciated the way that the author moved to a mix of epistolary and narrative text once they met in person - it really worked perfectly. Most of the characters made me care about them from the word go, and the descriptions of the setting were beautiful. While I spent most of the book thoroughly disliking Josephine (love does NOT mean trying to mould others into your own shape!), I loved the way the author developed her and had her gradually coming to accept the fallacy of her ideas. All in all, an amazing story - heart-warming, inspiring, and utterly delightful. Highly recommended.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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A delightful, quirky romance with a Christian worldview.

I’ve heard other readers bubble over about how brilliant a writer Ms Basham is, but this is the first book of hers I’ve read (finally!), and I’m glad I took the plunge.

“Authentically Izzy” is not your typical contemporary romance. It’s epistolary, so a huge portion of the novel is as written communication between characters, mainly emails and text messages. 55% of the book passed before any dialogue graced the page and grabbed my attention. And I mean grabbed! The contrast between letters vs “a live scene” was like a cold shower in the middle of summer, re-energising me for the next part of the story.

Izzy’s a lovable leading lady, revealing her true, quirky self through entertaining exchanges with her cousins and her bold letters to Brodie. I mean, how can we not love someone who chats with her loved ones about a myriad of things, including P&P, LOTR, Star Wars, and classic literature? They discussed Chris Pine in a few emails, so she gains bonus points for that!

Speaking of Izzy’s cousins, I loved Penelope and Luke (possibly Luke more than I should!). Josephine annoyed me most of the time, which I expect was her role in this story. 😉 And on the note of annoying, Eli failed to impress me (I expect that was his role too!) but did a great job of helping Izzy make wiser decisions.

Brodie was... near perfection. *swoon* A true match to Izzy’s uniqueness, I held tight as they pulled me along their story, with many questions bouncing around my head including, “Who will stay and who will go?”, “How will they get over these huge hurdles?” and “Is everything going to blow up in their faces?”

I’ll let you enjoy learning these outcomes without spoilers. 😉

In short, this book was fun, engaging, highly emotive and moving. Oh, and there are some lovely romantic moments and kisses. Yum.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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The perfect book. This book is told with letters. I never laughed so hard in my love. Fans of Lord of the Rings and quirky charecters would love this
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Authentically, Izzy is a witty, clever and entertaining read, but there are a few things readers should know before diving in:

1) The book is written entirely in emails.
2) There are a lot of Lord of the Rings references.

The writing style was creative, but it got old after a little while. I think I would've enjoyed it much more if it was written as a typical novel while still including emails. It felt unrealistic at times and took away from my enjoyment.

Lord of the Rings fans will love all of the references because there were a lot! I'm not familiar with the books/movies so there were quite a few parts where I had to do some inferring and while I appreciate the author's creativity, it was challenging for me as a reader who is clueless when it comes to Lord of the Rings.

Izzy and Brodie are both sweet characters, their relationship is charming and this book is creatively written. It didn't work for me, but I'm interested in reading more from this author because I can tell she's talented! Thanks NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book!
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11/16 Authentically, Izzy by Pepper Basham  started out just a bit slow, but I was soon eagerly turning pages to get to their HEA.
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I have come to love epistolary novels and Pepper Basham is at her charming amusing best in this book. I fell in love with Izzy immediately! I loved how Izzy was talking about her ridiculous cousin, Josephine, who signed her up on a dating site, with her brother and her cousin's sister via texts and emails. I was literally rolling!! 

All of the Lord of the Rings references had me wanting to watch the movies again. 
 
These are some of the best quotes!

"There's not really a job description for a 'book pusher,' and even if there was, it sounds like a profession where one might get arrested."

"If any animal should have the power to resurrect, I think it should be a faithful dog. They're such wonderful companions and the very best listeners in the world."

"Of course, I talk to myself. Sometimes I need an expert opinion."

These are just a few of my highlights. I have so many more! You have to read this book! If not for all the fun comedic parts, which is nearly the entire book, but the sweet romance between Brodie and Izzy. The secondary characters, mainly Luke, are just as fun! I hope there is a sequel with Luke!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book via the publisher. I wasn't required to write a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I did preorder a copy.
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dnf at 27%, turns out that this one isn't for me. first of all, i did not like the fact that this book was made up of letters although it is a different concept if i must add. second, i was expecting this book to be like you've got mail and had really high expectations which might have also caused me to not like it i guess.
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Heartwarming charming romance novel.

If you're looking for an uplifting, clean romance, then look no further. Basham's latest is a lovely epistolary novel bringing together two kindred spirits who develop a friendship and more communicating via email.

Izzy is a self-described book nerd who works at a library. She has lived with her aunt and three cousins since the death of her parents. Her cousin Josephine, who is married and expecting twins, decides that it is about time for Izzy, who has been burned in relationships in the past, to step out of her shell and start dating again. She signs Izzy up on a dating website, and after a few hilarious missteps, she connects with a man who signs his messages "Brodie the Hobbit"--much to the joy of her Lord of the Rings loving heart. As Izzy and Brodie forge a friendship based on books, Josephine thinks that Izzy needs to find a match "in real life" and continues to fix her up with available friends. What is Izzy to do?

I adored the back-and-forth camaraderie in the e-mail messages and text messages between Izzy and her cousins (Josephine, Penelope, and Luke) as well as her messages with Brodie and others she dates. The first 50% of this book is entirely epistolary, and then we shift between narrative action and epistolary for the rest of the book. I actually liked it better when there were both types of narrative were used because I could connect better with the story that way. After a while the epistolary got a bit tedious with the "telling" and I was longing for action.

This book is one of the best uses of the epistolary style that I've read in a long time. The communications between the characters feel completely authentic, like actual, real e-mails and text messages rather than cute info dumps like many of the novels that employ this method. I feel like Basham does an amazing job capturing each of the character's voices, which isn't always the easiest thing to do in an e-mail or text message.

The faith message in this novel is also lovely and an integral part of the story, which is what I have come to expect from this writer. She makes the characters authentically Christian and it feels natural rather than tacked on for effect.

While this isn't a perfect book--some of the interaction was just overly flowery and wordy and I didn't love the conflict with the stipend and hiding that information--it is a very enjoyable read. If you like a romance novel that will bring a smile to your book-loving face, this is an excellent choice.
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