Review: Anxious People

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
Publication: Atria Books
Publication Date: 9/8/2020

Disclaimer: I received an advanced digital copy of this book from Atria Books in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: A bank robber on the run locks himself in with an over-enthusiastic estate agent, two bitter IKEA-addicts, a pregnant woman, a suicidal multi-millionaire and a rabbit. In the end the robber gives up and lets everyone go, but when the police storm the apartment it is . . . empty.

In a series of dysfunctional testimonies after the event, the witnesses all tell their version of what really happened and it’s clear we have a classic locked-room mystery on our hands: How did the robber manage to escape? Why is everyone so angry? And: What is WRONG with people these days?

Review: I’ve read all of Backman’s novels and his latest book keeps up with the stride of his previous work! Backman has such an eloquent writing style bringing up important themes such as empathy, community, feeling ‘enough’, and mental health, in a way that resonates with you and really makes you think about them even after you’re done with the book. Honestly, it took me a while to figure how I wanted to rate Anxious People. At first, it took me a while to get into the book. There were some instances where I felt the author was rambling a bit and deriving from the story, however, everything ended up making sense at the end. I highly recommend picking up Anxious People. Be forewarned that I took my time reading Anxious People as you need to be in a certain headspace to read this one.

Rating: 4/5

Review: Dating Makes Perfect

Dating Makes Perfect by Pintip Dunn
Publication: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: 8/18/2020

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

GoodReads Synposis: The Tech sisters don’t date in high school. Not because they’re not asked. Not because they’re not interested. Not even because no one can pronounce their long, Thai last name—hence the shortened, awkward moniker. But simply because they’re not allowed.

Until now.

In a move that other Asian American girls know all too well, six months after the older Tech twins got to college, their parents asked, “Why aren’t you engaged yet?” The sisters retaliated by vowing that they won’t marry for ten (maybe even twenty!) years, not until they’ve had lots of the dating practice that they didn’t get in high school.

In a shocking war on the status quo, her parents now insist that their youngest daughter, Orrawin (aka “Winnie”), must practice fake dating in high school. Under their watchful eyes, of course—and organized based on their favorite rom-coms. ’Cause that won’t end in disaster.

The first candidate? The son of their longtime friends, Mat Songsomboon—arrogant, infuriating, and way too good-looking. Winnie’s known him since they were toddlers throwing sticky rice balls at each other. And her parents love him.

If only he weren’t her sworn enemy.

Review: Dating Makes Perfect is the first book I’ve read from Pintip Dunn. This book kind of reminds me of the writing styles of Jenny Han and David Yoon. This young adult romance novel has a fake dating trope, focuses on Thai American culture, immigrant parents’ expectations, and self-discovery. Overall, this was a cute book. I loved the way the author portrayed sisterly love, friendship breakups, family and community dynamics. There are also some references to other popular romcoms which I loved seeing. I would highly recommend reading this one if you’re fan of YA romances!

Rating: 4/5

Review: Kiss My Cupcake

Kiss My Cupcake by Helena Hunting
Publication: Read Forever
Publication Date: 8/11/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Blaire Calloway has planned every Instagram-worthy moment of her cupcake and cocktails shop launch down to the tiniest detail. What she didn’t plan on? Ronan Knight and his old-school sports bar next door opening on the very same day. He may be super swoony, but Blaire hasn’t spent years obsessing over buttercream and bourbon to have him ruin her chance at success.

From axe throwing (his place) to frosting contests (hers), Blaire and Ronan are constantly trying to one-up each other in a battle to win new customers. But with every clash, there’s also an undeniable chemistry. When an even bigger threat to their business comes to town, they’re forced to call a temporary time-out on their own war and work together. And the more time Blaire spends getting to know the real Ronan, the more she wonders if it’s possible to have her cupcake and eat it too.

Review: Kiss My Cupcake is the second book I’ve read from Helena Hunting. This romcom is an enemies-turned-lovers trope that dives into cut throat industry of the restaurant businesses and behind the scenes of small businesses with a side of some sexual innuendos, pranks, family dynamics, and to top it off with a few steamy scenes. The beginning of the book started of strong with well developed characters and an intriguing storyline, however, half way through the book, it took a turn where I mostly skimming to the end to see what happens. The story is definitely a slow burn which I didn’t mind. I loved Ronan’s family and his backstory, but I wasn’t a big fan of Blair at all. Overall, I realized this book wasn’t really my cup of tea, but if you’re a fan of Helena Hunting, you may like this one.

Rating: 3/5

Review: You Had Me at Hola

You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria
Publication: Avon
Publication Date: 8/4/2020

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of this book from William Morrow and an advanced listening copy from LibroFM and Harper Audio in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Leading Ladies do not end up on tabloid covers. 
After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine Lin Rodriguez finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she returns to her hometown of New York City to film the starring role in a bilingual romantic comedy for the number one streaming service in the country, Jasmine figures her new “Leading Lady Plan” should be easy enough to follow—until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez. 

Leading Ladies don’t need a man to be happy. 
After his last telenovela character was killed off, Ashton is worried his career is dead as well. Joining this new cast as a last-minute addition will give him the chance to show off his acting chops to American audiences and ping the radar of Hollywood casting agents. To make it work, he’ll need to generate smoking-hot on-screen chemistry with Jasmine. Easier said than done, especially when a disastrous first impression smothers the embers of whatever sexual heat they might have had. 

Leading Ladies do not rebound with their new costars. 
With their careers on the line, Jasmine and Ashton agree to rehearse in private. But rehearsal leads to kissing, and kissing leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera. While their on-screen performance improves, the media spotlight on Jasmine soon threatens to destroy her new image and expose Ashton’s most closely guarded secret.

Review: You Had Me At Hola is the first book I’ve read from Alexis Daria. Based on the premise, I had really high expectations for this book. The beginning started off really strong, but faltered towards the last quarter of the book. First off, I loved that this book showcased heartfelt characters in their 30s and also gave a background on telenovelas and soaps. I really liked Jasmine’s character in the beginning as she came off as endearing and very relatable. One main issue I had with the book was Ashton. Ashton’s emotional unavailability and the way he treated Jasmine didn’t sit well with me. His actions are later explained, however, I didn’t like how they were excused. The writing style of the switching between the behind the scenes and the show seemed to be one of the same which didn’t seem to make a difference. In terms of the narrator for the audiobook, I liked the way that the narrator brought the story life and loved the different voices she used for each character. I felt like I was listening to a telenovela when I was listening to the audiobook. Overall, I thought it was a decent romance read. If you’re a fan of steamy romance novels, then you’ll want to check this one out.

Rating: 3/5

Review: The Truth Hurts

The Truth Hurts by Rebecca Reid 
Publication: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: 7/28/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Caught up in a whirlwind romance that starts in sunny Ibiza and leads to the cool corridors of a luxurious English country estate, Poppy barely has time to catch her breath, let alone seriously question if all this is too good to be true. Drew is enamored, devoted, and, okay, a little mysterious—but that’s part of the thrill. What’s the harm in letting his past remain private? 

Maybe he’s not the only one…

Fortunately, Drew never seems to wonder why his young wife has so readily agreed to their unusual pact to live only in the here and now and not probe their personal histories. Perhaps he assumes, as others do, that she is simply swept up in the intoxication of infatuation and sudden wealth. What’s the harm in letting them believe that? 

How far will they go to keep the past buried?

Isolated in Drew’s sprawling mansion, Poppy starts to have time to doubt the man she’s married, to wonder what in his past might be so terrible that it can’t be spoken of, to imagine what harm he might be capable of. She doesn’t want this dream to shatter. But Poppy may soon be forced to confront the dark truth that there are sins far more dangerous than the sin of omission…

Review: This domestic thriller has your basic set up of a ditsy, broke, young woman marries a wealthy, older, good-looking guy. Each is hiding a secret, but they make a deal not to discuss about their pasts and get married anyway…what can go wrong?? Have you ever read a book that you were totally feeling, but then when you got to the end, you felt that you got jipped? Yeah, The Truth Hurts was it for me.  I loved the writing style in this book which maintained my interest. To satisfy my thriller and romance mood, this book fit the tab. I was also totally invested in this cliché storyline in the beginning and I was totally okay with the middle dragging for a bit, but the ending is what annoyed me the most. The book had a potential to be a four star read, but I ended up giving it 3 stars. Without giving away any spoilers, there were so many other ways the author could have amplified the ending, but unfortunately, the ending was too rushed and was so lackluster. Overall, it was a decent book. If you decide to read this one, keep your expectations low. 

Rating: 3/5

Review: The Switch

The Switch by Beth O’Leary
Publication: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: 8/18/2020

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of this book as a giveaway win from Flatiron Books and an audiobook copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review or rating.

GoodReads Synposis: When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.

Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.

Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?

Review: I had such high expectations for The Switch since I loved The Flatshare. Unfortunately, this book missed the mark for me. When I initially read the summary, I thought that this would have been a lighthearted book, but there’s underlying sadness throughout the book which is fine, but it kind of threw me off guard. Aside from that, I found the storyline to be a bit too slow and too predictable. In terms of the audiobook, I liked the narrator for Leena, but the narrator for Eileen was unbearable to listen too even though I did like Eileen over Leena in the book. I won’t give up on this author since I loved The Flatshare. Even though The Switch wasn’t right for me, it may be contemporary romance that may work for you. 

Rating: 2/5

Review: The Wife Who Knew Too Much

The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell
Publication: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: 7/28/2020

Disclaimer: I received an advanced physical copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press and an advanced listening copy from LibroFM and Macmillan Audio in exchange for my honest opinion. These have no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Tabitha Girard had her heart broken years ago by Connor Ford. He was preppy and handsome. She was a pool girl at his country club. Their affair should have been a summer fling. But it meant everything to Tabitha.

Years later, Connor comes back into Tabitha’s life—older, richer, and desperately unhappy. He married for money, a wealthy, neurotic, controlling woman whom he never loved. He has always loved Tabitha.

When Connor’s wife Nina takes her own life, he’s free. He can finally be with Tabitha. Nina’s home, Windswept, can be theirs. It seems to be a perfect ending to a fairy tale romance that began so many years ago. But then, Tabitha finds a diary. “I’m writing this to raise an alarm in the event of my untimely death,” it begins. “If I die unexpectedly, it was foul play, and Connor was behind it. Connor—and her.”

Who is Connor Ford? Why did he marry Nina? Is Tabitha his true love, or a convenient affair? As the police investigate Nina’s death, is she a convenient suspect?

As Tabitha is drawn deeper into the dark glamour of a life she is ill-prepared for, it becomes clear to her that what a wife knows can kill her.

Review: I’m always a sucker for a good domestic thriller about wealth, affairs, and betrayals! This was my first Michele Campbell novel and certainly won’t be my last. She certainly knows how to write an intriguing thriller. The writing style in this book captured my attention from page one and it was hard to put the book down! There were a few twists I saw coming, but there were others I didn’t see coming which was enjoyable. Overall, I would highly recommend this book if you love domestic thrillers!

Rating: 4/5

Review: What You Wish For

What You Wish For by Katherine Center
Publication: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: 7/14/2020

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Samantha Casey loves everything about her job as an elementary school librarian on the sunny, historic island of Galveston, Texas—the goofy kids, the stately Victorian building, the butterfly garden. But when the school suddenly loses its beloved principal, it turns out his replacement will be none other than Duncan Carpenter—a former, unrequited crush of Sam’s from many years before.

When Duncan shows up as her new boss, though, he’s nothing like the sweet teacher she once swooned over. He’s become stiff, and humorless, and obsessed with school safety. Now, with Duncan determined to destroy everything Sam loves about her school in the name of security—and turn it into nothing short of a prison—Sam has to stand up for everyone she cares about before the school that’s become her home is gone for good.

Review: What You Wish For is a heartwarming and uplifting novel that reminds us to choose joy through the most difficult times we experience. Overall, I had mixed feelings about this book. I really loved the timely message that this book showcases and it provides a great escape. The storyline was intriguing as well, but I felt like the writing was more reflective than present. There were a few instances where I wish we could have seen flashbacks to see the differences in Duncan’s personality from the present rather than being told of the memory from Sam. I found Sam’s character to be a bit too naive and childish for someone who should be in her late 20s. However, I did like how we got to see how Duncan’s character developed through the story. The one thing I was expecting to see was the slow build of chemistry and emotion connection between the main characters. It seemed to be there, but felt like it was too rushed at the end to be savored. Though I had mixed feelings about this book, I’d still recommend checking this out if you’re a fan of Katherine Center.

Rating: 3/5

Review: One To Watch

One To Watch by Kate Stayman-London
Publication: Random House
Publication Date: 7/8/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Bea Schumacher is a devastatingly stylish plus-size fashion blogger who has amazing friends, a devoted family, legions of Insta followers–and a massively broken heart. Like the rest of America, Bea indulges in her weekly obsession: the hit reality show Main Squeeze. The fantasy dates! The kiss-off rejections! The surprising amount of guys named Chad! But Bea is sick and tired of the lack of body diversity on the show. Since when is being a size zero a prerequisite for getting engaged on television?

Just when Bea has sworn off dating altogether, she gets an intriguing call: Main Squeeze wants her to be its next star, surrounded by men vying for her affections. Bea agrees, on one condition–under no circumstances will she actually fall in love. She’s in this to supercharge her career, subvert harmful anti-fat beauty standards, inspire women across America, and get a free hot air balloon ride. That’s it.

But when the cameras start rolling, Bea realizes things are more complicated than she anticipated. She’s in a whirlwind of sumptuous couture, Internet culture wars, sexy suitors, and an opportunity (or two, or five) to find messy, real-life love in the midst of a made-for-TV fairy tale. In this joyful, razor-sharp debut, Bea has to decide whether it might just be worth trusting these men–and herself–for a chance to live happily ever after.

Review: One To Watch is Kate Stayman-London’s debut novel. Overall, I thought this was a cute read! I loved the writing style of this – slacks, articles, blog posts, texts, and regular writhing in between it all. The story definitely felt like I was binge watching a reality dating show. The author touched upon topics such as body image and social expectations in such way that tied into story effectively. There were a few times where I felt Bea was a bit too whiny, but I was able to overlook that. If you love binging on romance reads and watching reality dating shows, then I definitely recommend picking this one up!

Rating: 4/5

Review: Home Before Dark

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
Publication: Dutton Books
Publication Date: 6/30/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: What was it like? Living in that house.

Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.

Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.

Review: Riley Sager is one of my favorite thriller writers and I was excited to receive an advanced copy of his latest thriller releasing this summer! Overall, I thought this was a good read! It’s not my favorite of his four, but it was a solid story. I liked the alternating perspectives of Maggie and her father’s, Ewan, book. It definitely gave a wholistic view. I’m not into supernatural elements in stories, however, I felt that Riley Sager executed this well and I loved the unexpected twists and turns. I enjoyed the second half of the book more than the first part. The beginning is a slow burn trying to set up the story. If you loved The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell and The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James or if you’re already a Riley Sager fan, this is a must read!

Rating: 4/5