Review: Recipe For Persuasion (The Rajes #2)

Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev 
Publication: William Morrow
Publication Date: 5/26/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Chef Ashna Raje desperately needs a new strategy. How else can she save her beloved restaurant and prove to her estranged, overachieving mother that she isn’t a complete screw up? When she’s asked to join the cast of Cooking with the Stars, the latest hit reality show teaming chefs with celebrities, it seems like just the leap of faith she needs to put her restaurant back on the map. She’s a chef, what’s the worst that could happen? 

Rico Silva, that’s what.  

Being paired with a celebrity who was her first love, the man who ghosted her at the worst possible time in her life, only proves what Ashna has always believed: leaps of faith are a recipe for disaster. 
FIFA winning soccer star Rico Silva isn’t too happy to be paired up with Ashna either. Losing Ashna years ago almost destroyed him. The only silver lining to this bizarre situation is that he can finally prove to Ashna that he’s definitely over her. 

But when their catastrophic first meeting goes viral, social media becomes obsessed with their chemistry. The competition on the show is fierce…and so is the simmering desire between Ashna and Rico.  Every minute they spend together rekindles feelings that pull them toward their disastrous past. Will letting go again be another recipe for heartbreak—or a recipe for persuasion…? 

Review: Recipe For Persuasion is the second book in The Rajes series. This can be read as a stand alone so you don’t need to read Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors (the first book) beforehand. Overall, I liked this book better than the first one. I thought that the plot was intriguing and the characters were deeply complex. However, I did feel that the story did drag out a bit. Ashna and Rico’s chemistry seemed more like tell than show where the story keeps saying they are deeply in love, but it never really shows why they’re still in love with each other after all this time. I wasn’t a big fan of Ashna’s mother Shobi even though I understand that she’s an integral character in book. Though the book was very well written and I was rooting for the characters, I felt like I was waiting for the characters to get their stuff together despite their troubled pasts. This contemporary romance is not lighthearted by any means. If you do decide to read this book, be forewarned that there are quite a few triggers which I’m surprised that this wasn’t put in the beginning of the book. Trigger warnings include suicide, alcoholism, rape, anxiety, and death of a parent.

Rating: 3/5

Review: The Trouble With Hating You

The Trouble With Hating You by Sajni Patel 
Publication: Read Forever
Publication Date: 5/12/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Liya Thakkar is a successful biochemical engineer, takeout enthusiast, and happily single woman. The moment she realizes her parents’ latest dinner party is a setup with the man they want her to marry, she’s out the back door in a flash. Imagine her surprise when the same guy shows up at her office a week later — the new lawyer hired to save her struggling company. What’s not surprising: he’s not too thrilled to see her either after that humiliating fiasco.

Jay Shah looks good on paper…and off. Especially if you like that whole gorgeous, charming lawyer-in-a-good-suit thing. He’s also arrogant and infuriating. As their witty office banter turns into late night chats, Liya starts to think he might be the one man who truly accepts her. But falling for each other means exposing their painful pasts. Will Liya keep running, or will she finally give love a real chance?

Review: What a phenomenal debut! I’m so glad I took my time devouring this book. I’m extremely picky with my romance books, but this one was amazing and deserves all the stars. When I first started this book, I was unsure of how I felt about Liya and her behavior. At first, I was really put off with it and couldn’t stand why she was so rude to the point where she crossed the line on more than one occasion, but as I read on, I further understood why and everything fell into place. My favorite characters were Jay’s mom and Liya’s supportive and strong female friends. I loved how strong, and different each of Liya’s friends were. They were also fiercely loyal and extremely sweet. I loved that Jay’s mom always leveled with Jay and was very respectful as well. My favorite part of the book was the strong ending. I loved that it was realistic but also very sweet. Lastly, I admired that the author was able to delve into heavy topics (sexual assault and death of a loved one) in the storyline in such an eloquent way. I also appreciated that she put a trigger warning in the beginning of her book. I highly recommend picking this one up. Now I can’t wait for Preeti’s story next!

Rating: 5/5

Review: A Good Marriage

A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight
Publication: Harper
Publication Date: 5/5/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Lizzie Kitsakis is working late when she gets the call. Grueling hours are standard at elite law firms like Young & Crane, but they’d be easier to swallow if Lizzie was there voluntarily. Until recently, she’d been a happily underpaid federal prosecutor. That job and her brilliant, devoted husband Sam—she had everything she’d ever wanted. And then, suddenly, it all fell apart.

No. That’s a lie. It wasn’t sudden, was it? Long ago the cracks in Lizzie’s marriage had started to show. She was just good at averting her eyes.

The last thing Lizzie needs right now is a call from an inmate at Rikers asking for help—even if Zach Grayson is an old friend. But Zach is desperate: his wife, Amanda, has been found dead at the bottom of the stairs in their Brooklyn brownstone. And Zach’s the primary suspect.

As Lizzie is drawn into the dark heart of idyllic Park Slope, she learns that Zach and Amanda weren’t what they seemed—and that their friends, a close-knit group of fellow parents at the exclusive Grace Hall private school, might be protecting troubling secrets of their own. In the end, she’s left wondering not only whether her own marriage can be saved, but what it means to have a good marriage in the first place.

Review: A Good Marriage is the first book I’ve read from Kimberly McCreight. I was initially hooked to the storyline for the first quarter of the book. Towards the middle, I felt that the book was dragging on and not much was happening. However, I did like the three different perspectives – Lizzie was my favorite. Without giving to much away, I felt that the side characters weren’t fully developed. Towards the last quarter of the book, that’s when the unexpected twists came into play. I definitely didn’t expect the ending which made the book worth reading. If you like legal thrillers and domestic suspense, then this may be up your alley.

Rating: 3/5

Review: Girl Gone Viral

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai
Publication: Avon Books  
Publication Date: 4/21/20

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

NetGalley Synopsis: In Alisha Rai’s second novel in her Modern Love series, a reclusive investor goes viral, shoving her into the world’s spotlight—and into the arms of the bodyguard she’s been pining for…

OMG! Wouldn’t it be adorable if he’s her soulmate???

I don’t see any wedding rings

Breaking: #CafeBae and #CuteCafeGirl went to the bathroom AT THE SAME TIME!!!

One minute, Katrina King’s enjoying an innocent conversation with a random guy at a coffee shop; the next, a stranger has live-tweeted the entire encounter with a romantic meet-cute spin and #CafeBae has the world swooning. Going viral isn’t easy for anyone, but Katrina has painstakingly built a private world for herself, far from her traumatic past. Besides, everyone has it all wrong…that #CafeBae bro? He isn’t the man she’s hungry for.

He’s got a to die for.

With the internet on the hunt for the identity of #CuteCafeGirl, Jas Singh, bodyguard and possessor of the most beautiful eyebrows Katrina’s ever seen, offers his family’s farm as a refuge. Alone with her unrequited crush feels like a recipe for hopeless longing, but Katrina craves the escape. She’s resigned to being just friends with Jas–until they share a single electrifying kiss. Now she can’t help but wonder if her crush may not be so unrequited after all…

Review: Girl Gone Viral is the second installment of Modern Love series and the fifth book I’ve read from Alisha Rai. I have to say this may be my all-time favorite Alisha Rai novel to date! I adored the main characters. I love that Alisha continues to use a diverse set of characters in her contemporary romance novels. Beyond that, she brings deeply complex characters with different backgrounds and brings them together seamlessly. It’s also a delight to see characters from her previous books appear as well. I devoured this book in about two days! I really liked that Alisha shed light on the importance of mental health, PTSD, and when to ask for help. I can’t wait for her third book in the series to come out and I’m hoping it will be about Jia’s story! If you liked The Right Swipe or contemporary romance in general, I highly recommend picking up this novel!

Rating: 4/5

Review: Darling Rose Gold

Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel
Publication: Berkley
Publication Date: 3/17/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold.

Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar.

After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes.

Patty insists all she wants is to reconcile their differences. She says she’s forgiven Rose Gold for turning her in and testifying against her. But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty Watts always settles a score.

Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling…

And she’s waited such a long time for her mother to come home. 

Review: This is the first book I’ve read from Stephanie Wrobel and definitely won’t be the last! This thriller is fast paced from the get go filled with unlikable characters. I liked the unreliable narrators and the alternating perspectives from Rose Gold and her mother, Patty. They have such a messed up relationship that it was interesting to see the past versus the presence and how they got to where they were. If you’re a fan of psychological thrillers, I highly recommend picking this one up!

Rating: 4/5 

Review: The Boyfriend Project

The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon
Publication: Forever
Publication Date: 6/9/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: USA Today bestselling author Farrah Rochon launches a new series about three young women who become friends when the live Tweeting of a disastrous date leads them to discover they’ve all been duped by the same man.

Samiah Brooks never thought she would be “that” girl. But a live tweet of a horrific date just revealed the painful truth: she’s been catfished by a three-timing jerk of a boyfriend. Suddenly Samiah-along with his two other “girlfriends,” London and Taylor-have gone viral online. Now the three new besties are making a pact to spend the next six months investing in themselves. No men, no dating, and no worrying about their relationship status . . .

For once Samiah is putting herself first, and that includes finally developing the app she’s always dreamed of creating. Which is the exact moment she meets the deliciously sexy, honey-eyed Daniel Collins at work. What are the chances? When it comes to love, there’s no such thing as a coincidence. But is Daniel really boyfriend material or is he maybe just a little too good to be true?

Review: This is my first time reading Farrah Rochon’s books. The Boyfriend Project is a start of a new series that takes place in Austin, Texas. This contemporary romance explores viral catfishing, successful females in tech, female empowerment, and friendship. What stood out to me the most in this book was the strong female friendships. I loved that the author expresses how important this is and how the book shows all the women to be strong and independent thinkers, but also shows their vulnerabilities. Daniel was also a great male counterpart to Samiah. I loved that the characters had dimension and tackled obstructions that seemed to be believable. Though I loved the characters and the plot line, I did feel that the story dragged on a little bit and the dialogue felt a little stilted at times. However, I am looking forward to the rest of the books in this series. If you love romance and are looking for something similar to Jasmine Guillory, I’d recommend checking out this one!

Rating: 4/5

Review: The Shape of Family

The Shape of Family by Shilpi Somaya Gowda 
Publication: William Morrow
Publication Date: 3/17/2020

Disclaimer: I received a free ARC from William Morrow in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: The Olander family embodies the modern American Dream in a globalized world. Jaya, the cultured daughter of an Indian diplomat and Keith, an ambitious banker from middle-class Philadelphia, meet in a London pub in 1988 and make a life together in suburban California. Their strong marriage is built on shared beliefs and love for their two children: headstrong teenager Karina and young son Prem, the light of their home.

But love and prosperity cannot protect them from sudden, unspeakable tragedy, and the family’s foundation cracks as each member struggles to seek a way forward. Jaya finds solace in spirituality. Keith wagers on his high-powered career. Karina focuses relentlessly on her future and independence. And Prem watches helplessly as his once close-knit family drifts apart.

When Karina heads off to college for a fresh start, her search for identity and belonging leads her down a dark path, forcing her and her family to reckon with the past, the secrets they’ve held and the weight of their choices.

The Seekers is an intimate portrayal of four individuals as they grapple with what it means to be a family and how to move from a painful past into a hopeful future. It is a profoundly moving exploration of the ways we all seek belonging—in our families, our communities and ultimately, within ourselves.

Review: The Shape of Family is Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s latest book. I enjoyed Shilpi Gowda’s previous books, Secret Daughter and The Golden Son so I was really excited to read The Shape of Family. The Shape of Family was such a heartbreaking book. First and foremost, there are some trigger warnings to be keep in mind before reading this book: death of a loved one, suicide, toxic relationships, and depression. After reading the first 10% of the novel, I had to put the book down for a bit because it was so emotionally heavy. That first part of the book is important and I understand the intention behind it as it affects the storyline throughout the rest of the novel, however, there doesn’t seem to be much lightness after that. However, the author’s writing style is captivating from page one and is a page turner throughout the novel. There were a few scenes in the book that truly resonated with me. I admire the author for being able to write in a way that made me think of this book long after I read it. One of the reasons I gave this book a 3 star rating was because of the alternating perspectives and the character depth. I found the male perspectives, Keith and Prem, to be unnecessary. I felt that Jaya and Karina’s perspectives had the most depth and kept the story moving along. Personally, Secret Daughter is my all-time favorite so far. If you decide to read this book, I recommend to read the synopsis before you dive in so you can be emotionally prepared and know the trigger warnings in advance.

Rating: 3/5

Review: The Eighth Girl

The Eighth Girl by Maxine Mei-Fung
Publication: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 3/17/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: One woman, multiple personas. 

But which one is telling the truth? 

Beautiful. Damaged. Destructive. Meet Alexa Wú, a brilliant yet darkly self-aware young woman whose chaotic life is manipulated and controlled by a series of alternate personalities. Only three people know about their existence: her shrink Daniel; her stepmother Anna; and her enigmatic best friend Ella. The perfect trio of trust.

When Ella gets a job at a high-end gentleman’s club, she catches the attention of its shark-like owner and is gradually drawn into his inner circle. As Alexa’s world becomes intimately entangled with Ella’s, she soon finds herself the unwitting keeper of a nightmarish secret. With no one to turn to and lives at stake, she follows Ella into London’s cruel underbelly on a daring rescue mission. Threatened and vulnerable, Alexa will discover whether her multiple personalities are her greatest asset, or her most dangerous obstacle.

Electrifying and breathlessly compulsive, The Eighth Girl is an omnivorous examination of life with mental illness and the acute trauma of life in a misogynist world. With bingeable prose and a clinician’s expertise, Chung’s psychological debut deftly navigates the swirling confluence of identity, innocence, and the impossible fracturing weights that young women are forced to carry, causing us to question: Does the truth lead to self-discovery, or self-destruction?

Review: The Eighth Girl is Maxine Mei-Fung’s debut novel. This psychological thriller explores mental health (more specifically dissociative identity disorder or also known as multiple personality disorder), trauma, abuse, sexuality, and control. Overall, I found the storyline to be quite intriguing. I loved the alternative perspectives of Alexa and Daniel. For Alexa, it was interesting to learn about her multiple ‘selves’, how they interacted with one another, and how we are introduced to them throughout the book. For Daniel’s perspective, I found his psychiatrist and patient sessions to be most fascinating and learned a great deal. It was great to see how complex these characters were by diving into their pasts and seeing how it affected their present selves. I did find that I took my time with novel due to the nature of the content instead of speeding through books like I usually do. If you decide to read this book, I recommend to definitely read the synopsis before you dive in so you can be emotionally prepared and know the trigger warnings in advance if needed.

After I finished the book, I found out from the author that The Eighth Girl has been optioned by Netflix. Click here to learn more. I’m super excited to see that this book will be potentially a movie and can’t wait to see who they will cast!

Review: 5/5

Review: Break Your Glass Slippers

Break Your Glass Slippers by Amanda Lovelace
Publication: Andrew McMeel Publishing Paperback
Publication Date: 3/17/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: “more forgetting time. more midnight dances with yourself.”

amanda lovelace, the bestselling & award-winning author of the “women are some kind of magic” poetry series, presents a new companion series, “you are your own fairy tale” the first installment,break your glass slippers, is about overcoming those who don’t see your worth, even if that person is sometimes yourself. in the epic tale of your life, you are the most important character while everyone is but a forgotten footnote. even the prince.

Review: Breaking Your Glass Slippers is the first installment of You Are Your Own Fairytale. I was a fan of Amanda’s previous work so I was excited to hear about this new poetry collection. The concept of her poetry collection seemed intriguing. However when I read the actual material, I felt like this was similar to her poems in The Princess Saves Herself In This One. I was also a bit disappointed that the poetry collection wasn’t a retelling of Cinderella. The poems were nice and depicted female empowerment, but they didn’t have the depth I thought they would have. If you’re a fan of Amanda Lovelace’s poetry, you may like this collection.

Rating: 3/5

Review: My Dark Vanessa

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
Publication: William Morrow
Publishing Date: 3/10/20

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.

Review: Wow what an amazing debut novel from Kate Elizabeth Russell! The writing in this book was phenomenal. The author has such a way in her writing style where she pulls your heart out and puts it back, but it doesn’t feel the same. Though she does a great job tackling on controversial and sensitive topics, I definitely had to take my time with this book. There were times where the scenes evokes such emotions that I had to put it down and get back to it. Without giving too much away, it really made me think on a higher level what consent is, how sexual power is used, and what psychological grooming is, and what’s healthy and what’s not in relationships. This was such a resonating read that it left me in a book hangover. Though this was a 5 star read for me, I would recommend reading this book only if you read the synopsis above and feel that you are emotionally equipped to handle this.

Rating: 5/5