Review: The Heart Principle

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Pub Date: 8/31/2021

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced digital copy of this book from Berkley Romance in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: When violinist Anna Sun accidentally achieves career success with a viral YouTube video, she finds herself incapacitated and burned out from her attempts to replicate that moment. And when her longtime boyfriend announces he wants an open relationship before making a final commitment, a hurt and angry Anna decides that if he wants an open relationship, then she does, too. Translation: She’s going to embark on a string of one-night stands. The more unacceptable the men, the better.

That’s where tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan Diep comes in. Their first attempt at a one-night stand fails, as does their second, and their third, because being with Quan is more than sex—he accepts Anna on an unconditional level that she has just started to understand herself. However, when tragedy strikes Anna’s family she takes on a role that she is ill-suited for, until the burden of expectations threatens to destroy her. Anna and Quan have to fight for their chance at love, but to do that, they also have to fight for themselves.

Review: The Heart Principle is the third book in The Kiss Quotient series which features Quan and his love interest, Anna. This has been one of my most anticipated reads this year. Before reading this novel, I read a post from the author that this book is not a romcom, but there is a love story and character growth. Overall, this is an intense and emotional book. I adored this story and I loved reading about Anna and Quan’s journeys. One of the aspects I really loved about this book was how real the situations were and that Anna and Quan were portrayed as real people instead of putting a rose colored lens on them. I also loved the author’s note that even though this was fiction, part of this was kind of like a memoir especially Anna’s part. The author addresses so many sensitive subjects in a realistic way: grief, terminal illness, caregiving, cancer, gaslighting, suicidal ideation, and gaslighting. I would highly recommend reading this novel if you loved the previous books in this series.

4 Anticipated August Romance Reads

There are so many exciting new releases coming out this month! August is romance awareness month and below I’m sharing four of my most anticipated romance reads this month. Are any of these on your radar?

(All images from GoodReads)

So We Meet Again by Suzanne Park
Publisher: Avon Books
Pub Date: 8/3/2021

The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon
Publisher: Read Forever Pub
Pub Date: 8/17/2021

Battle Royal by Lucy Parker
Publisher: Avon Books
Pub Date: 8/17/2021

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
Publisher: Berkley Publishing
Pub Date: 8/31/2021

Review: Last Summer at the Golden Hotel

Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland
Publisher: Berkley
Pub Date: 5/18/21

Disclaimer: I received a free finished physical copy of this book from Berkley in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: A family reunion for the ages when two clans convene for the summer at their beloved getaway in the Catskills–perfect for fans of Dirty Dancing and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel–from the acclaimed author of The Floating Feldmans.

In its heyday, The Golden Hotel was the crown jewel of the hotter-than-hot Catskills vacation scene. For more than sixty years, the Goldman and Weingold families – best friends and business partners – have presided over this glamorous resort which served as a second home for well-heeled guests and celebrities. But the Catskills are not what they used to be – and neither is the relationship between the Goldmans and the Weingolds. As the facilities and management begin to fall apart, a tempting offer to sell forces the two families together again to make a heart-wrenching decision. Can they save their beloved Golden or is it too late?

Long-buried secrets emerge, new dramas and financial scandal erupt, and everyone from the traditional grandparents to the millennial grandchildren wants a say in the hotel’s future. Business and pleasure clash in this fast-paced, hilarious, nostalgia-filled story, where the hotel owners rediscover the magic of a bygone era of nonstop fun even as they grapple with what may be their last resort.

Review: Last Summer at the Golden Hotel is the first book I’ve read from Elyssa Friedland. This contemporary novel explores family business, strained relationships, long buried secrets, and traditional vs. modern perspectives. Overall, this was a decent read. I really liked the plot of the story, but I wasn’t really a fan of execution. The family drama was entertaining and I liked a few of the characters. One of the main issues I had with this book was that there were way too many characters. I liked the various chapter perspectives, but it feels like it was more of just a third party narrative than individual narratives. Also this is one of those times in a book where I wish we were given the present versus the past instead of just the present. I kept switching from reading the physical book that Berkley gifted me and the audiobook I bought. If you decide to read this, I recommend going with the audiobook because Julia Whelan narrates it. Her audiobook narration is the reason I was able to enjoy the book. I’d recommend reading this if you’re looking for a fun family drama summer read.

Review: The Stranger in the Mirror

The Stranger in the Mirror by Liv Constantine
Publisher: Harper
Pub Date: 7/6/21

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced physical copy this book from Harper in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Addison’s about to get married, but she’s not looking forward to the big day. It’s not her fiancé; he’s a wonderful man. It’s because Addison doesn’t know who she really is. A few years ago, a kind driver found her bleeding next to a New Jersey highway and rescued her. While her physical wounds healed, Addison’s memory never returned. She doesn’t know her real name. Or how she ended up injured on the side of a road. Or why she can’t shake the notion that she may have done something very, very bad . . .

In a posh home in the Boston suburbs, Julian tries to figure out what happened to his loving, caring wife, Cassandra, who disappeared without a trace two years ago. She would never have left him and their seven-year-old daughter Valentina of her own free will—or would she?

As these two lives intersect, The Stranger in the Mirror hooks readers with riveting drama, told with Liv Constantine’s hallmark blend of glamour, tense psychological thrills, and jaw-dropping twists.

Review: The Stranger in the Mirror is the fourth book I’ve read from Liv Constantine. This thriller explores memory loss, toxic relationships, deception, and secrets. Overall, I enjoyed reading this novel! The small chapters, multiple POVs, unreliable narrators captured my interest. I really loved that the writing style kept me on my toes since the beginning. I usually don’t like amnesia thrillers, but this one was done well. There were some twists towards the end that I didn’t see coming which made this wild ride even more fun. Definitely recommend picking this one up if you loved The Last Mrs. Parrish and/or if you love amnesia thrillers.

Review: Isn’t It Bromantic?

Isn’t It Bromantic? by Lyssa Kay Adams
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Pub Date: 7/20/21

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced digital copy of this book from Berkley Romance in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: With his passion for romance novels, it was only a matter of time before Vlad wrote one.

Elena Konnikova has lived her entire adult life in the shadows. As the daughter of a Russian journalist who mysteriously disappeared, she escaped danger the only way she knew how: She married her childhood friend, Vladimir, and moved to the United States, where he is a professional hockey player in Nashville.

Vlad, aka the Russian, thought he could be content with his marriage of convenience. But it’s become too difficult to continue in a one-sided relationship. He joined the Bromance Book Club to learn how to make his wife love him, but all he’s learned is that he deserves more. He’s ready to create his own sweeping romance—both on and off the page.

The bros are unwilling to let Vlad forgo true love—and this time they’re not operating solo. They join forces with Vlad’s neighbors, a group of meddling widows who call themselves the Loners. But just when things finally look promising, Elena’s past life intrudes and their happily ever after is cast into doubt.

Review: Isn’t It Bromantic? is the fourth novel in the Bromance series that final features Vlad (the Russian). This has been one my most anticipated summer reads! The romance troupe in this one focuses on marriage by convenience. I loved this one! Out of all the Bromance series, I think this may be my favorite tied with Undercover Bromance. I really liked that the author didn’t shy away from Vlad’s vulnerable side and it was wonderful to see him grow throughout the books. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Elena but I did enjoy how the author made her character grow as well. The only part I didn’t like was that I felt the ending  was a bit too rushed, but other than that, I really enjoyed that we caught glimpses of characters from previous novels and there were snippets of their relationships progressing.I’m really hoping that we get Colton’s love story next! I’m curious who he will end up with. I highly recommend picking this up if you’re a fan of the Bromance series. This is definitely a book you can read as a stand alone, but I think you’d enjoy it more if you read the previous books. Lastly, I’m super stoked for the movie which I can’t wait to be released!

Review: While We Were Dating

While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory
Publisher: Berkley
Pub Date: 7/13/21

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced digital copy of this book from Berkley and free audiobook copy from Penguin Random House audio in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Ben Stephens has never bothered with serious relationships. He has plenty of casual dates to keep him busy, family drama he’s trying to ignore and his advertising job to focus on. When Ben lands a huge ad campaign featuring movie star Anna Gardiner, however, it’s hard to keep it purely professional. Anna is not just gorgeous and sexy, she’s also down to earth and considerate, and he can’t help flirting a little…

Anna Gardiner is on a mission: to make herself a household name, and this ad campaign will be a great distraction while she waits to hear if she’s booked her next movie. However, she didn’t expect Ben Stephens to be her biggest distraction. She knows mixing business with pleasure never works out, but why not indulge in a harmless flirtation?

But their lighthearted banter takes a turn for the serious when Ben helps Anna in a family emergency, and they reveal truths about themselves to each other, truths they’ve barely shared with those closest to them.

When the opportunity comes to turn their real-life fling into something more for the Hollywood spotlight, will Ben be content to play the background role in Anna’s life and leave when the cameras stop rolling? Or could he be the leading man she needs to craft their own Hollywood ending?

Review: While We Were Dating is the sixth book into the Wedding Date series by Jasmine Guillory. This contemporary romance novel is a fast lighthearted read. This book features Ben Stephens, Theo’s younger brother, who meets Anna, a famous actress, and end up from secret dating to fake dating. Overall, this was decent read for me. One of of the strongest points in this book was mental health representation. I love the Bay Area and Palm Springs setting in this novel. I also liked that Theo and Maddie from The Wedding Party popped in the background and so did Nic and Carlos from The Proposal. The part that didn’t work for me was the conflict in this book which seemed trivial. There also a couple of California logistics that I was hung up on while reading. If you like the wedding date series, you may want to pick this up.

3 YA Books Paired With Matching Songs

This past month I’ve been reading more Young Adult books than I typically do. I thought I would match a few I read with songs that they remind me of. Hope you enjoy!

Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous by Suzanne Parker
Delicate – Taylor Swift

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Young
Sway – The Pussycat Dolls
Heartbreakers and Fakers by Cameron Lund
Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F) – Katy Perry

5 Summer Romance Books I Can’t Wait To Read!

It’s officially the first week of summer! Below are some of my most anticipated romance reads that will be releasing in the next month or two that I can’t wait to read.

While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory
Publisher: Berkley
Pub Date: 7/13/21
How Sweet It Is by Dylan Newton
Publisher: Read Forever
Pub Date: 7/13/21
Isn’t It Bromantic? by Lyssa Kay Adams
Publisher: Berkley
Pub Date: 7/20/21
The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon
Publisher: Read Forever
Pub Date: 8/17/21
The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
Publisher: Berkley
Pub Date: 8/31/21

Are these books on your list as well? What upcoming releases are you excited to read this summer?

Review: When the Stars Go Dark

When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain
Publisher: Ballantine Books | Penguin Random House
Pub Date: 4/13/2021

Disclaimer: I received a free finished physical copy and audiobook copy of this book from Penguin Random House in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: From the New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife comes a novel of intertwined destinies and heart-wrenching suspense: A detective hiding away from the world. A series of disappearances that reach into her past. Can solving them help her heal?

Anna Hart is a missing persons detective in San Francisco. When tragedy strikes her personal life, Anna, desperate and numb, flees to the Northern California village of Mendocino to grieve. She lived there as a child with her beloved foster parents, and now she believes it might be the only place left for her. Yet the day she arrives, she learns a local teenage girl has gone missing. The crime feels frighteningly reminiscent of the most crucial time in Anna’s childhood, when the unsolved murder of a young girl touched Mendocino and changed the community forever. As past and present collide, Anna realizes that she has been led to this moment. The most difficult lessons of her life have given her insight into how victims come into contact with violent predators. As Anna becomes obsessed with the missing girl, she must accept that true courage means getting out of her own way and learning to let others in.

Weaving together actual cases of missing persons, trauma theory, and a hint of the metaphysical, this propulsive and deeply affecting novel tells a story of fate, necessary redemption, and what it takes, when the worst happens, to reclaim our lives–and our faith in one another.

Review: When the Stars Are Dark is the first book I’ve read from Paul McLain. This mystery novel takes place in Northern California and explores missing children cases, community, trauma, and courage. Overall, this was a really interesting read. This books is definitely a slow burn. The writing style kept my attention from the first page. I didn’t see some of the twists coming. However, I will note that there are some trigger warnings to watch out for since it is a heavy read: death of a child, drug use, and sexual assault. I’d recommend reading this one if you are interested in true crime and missing person cases.