Review: The Way We Weren’t

The Way We Weren’t by Phoebe Fox
Publisher: Berkley
Pub Date: 11/9/2021

Thank you to Berkley for the free finished copy in exchange for my honest review. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: You trying to kill yourself, or are you just stupid?

Marcie Malone didn’t think she was either, but when she drives from Georgia to the southwestern shore of Florida without a plan and wakes up in a stranger’s home, she doesn’t seem to know anymore. Despondent and heartbroken over an unexpected loss and the man she thought she could count on, Marcie leaves him behind, along with her job and her whole life, and finds she has nowhere to go.

Herman Flint has seen just about everything in his seventy years living in a fading, blue-collar Florida town, but the body collapsed on the beach outside his window is something new. The woman is clearly in some kind of trouble and Flint wants no part of it–he’s learned to live on his own just fine, without the hassle of worrying about others. But against his better judgment he takes Marcie in and lets her stay until she’s on her feet on the condition she keeps out of his way.

As the unlikely pair slowly copes with the damages life has wrought, Marcie and Flint have to decide whether to face up to the past they’re each running from, and find a way to move forward with the people they care about most.

Review: The Way We Weren’t is the first book I’ve read from Phoebe Fox. This contemporary novel explores unexpected friendship, moving on, and finding yourself. The author touches upon heavy subjects of miscarriage, death of a child, grief, family member abandonment. When I initially read the summary of this book, it kind of reminded me of A Man Called Ove and The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysuckle (both wonderful books and highly recommend reading if you haven’t done so already) so I was intrigued to read this. Overall, I had mixed feelings about is book. I’m not sure if it was because I didn’t expect miscarriage to be in this book which I don’t mind, but I think there should have been content/trigger warnings either in the summary or in beginning of the book. Also I felt that something was missing or maybe the book just wasn’t my cup of tea. I kept switching from reading the physical book and listening to the audiobook from the library book. In terms of characters, I really liked Flint and his backstory. I really loved the male audio narration and he brought Flint’s perspective alive. I really tried to like Marcie and tried to be sympathetic to her situation, but I found her unlikable and could care less about what was going on with her. I’d recommend reading this only if it’s on your TBR and keep in mind of the content warnings listed above.

Review: Eight Perfect Hours

Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis
Publisher: Atria Books
Pub Date: 9/28/2021

Disclaimer: I received a free 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: On a snowy evening in March, 30-something Noelle Butterby is on her way back from an event at her old college when disaster strikes. With a blizzard closing off roads, she finds herself stranded, alone in her car, without food, drink, or a working charger for her phone. All seems lost until Sam Attwood, a handsome American stranger also trapped in a nearby car, knocks on her window and offers assistance. What follows is eight perfect hours together, until morning arrives and the roads finally clear.

The two strangers part, positive they’ll never see each other again, but fate, it seems, has a different plan. As the two keep serendipitously bumping into one another, they begin to realize that perhaps there truly is no such thing as coincidence. With plenty of charming twists and turns and Lia Louis’s “bold, standout voice” (Gillian McAllister, author of The Good Sister), Eight Perfect Hours is a gorgeously crafted novel that will make you believe in the power of fate. 

Review: Eight Perfect Hours is Lia Louis’ sophomore novel. This contemporary romance novel explores friendship, destiny/fate, second changes, and new beginnings. The author addresses some heavy subjects such as death of a close friend, mental health, infidelity, strained family relationships, and suicide. Overall, I had mixed feelings about this book. Even though it was a nice listen, I still preferred Dear Emmie Blue over Eight Perfect Hours. The storyline was cute, however, it was a bit too cheesy and unbelievable for me. I had a difficult time believing this insta-love and ‘great love’ between Noelle and Sam when they barely spend time with each other. A few of the supporting characters are highly unlikable which I didn’t mind, but I felt that all the characters needed to be fleshed out more. The one aspect I really liked about this novel was how the author discusses the loss of a best friend and strained familial relationships. If you love fate/destiny type romance novels, Eight Perfect Hours may be up your alley.

Review: Reminders of Him

Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover
Publisher: Montlake
Pub Date: 1/18/2022

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

GoodReads Synopsis: After serving five years in prison for a tragic mistake, Kenna Rowan returns to the town where it all went wrong, hoping to reunite with her four-year-old daughter. But the bridges Kenna burned are proving impossible to rebuild. Everyone in her daughter’s life is determined to shut Kenna out, no matter how hard she works to prove herself.

The only person who hasn’t closed the door on her completely is Ledger Ward, a local bar owner and one of the few remaining links to Kenna’s daughter. But if anyone were to discover how Ledger is slowly becoming an important part of Kenna’s life, both would risk losing the trust of everyone important to them.

The two form a connection despite the pressure surrounding them, but as their romance grows, so does the risk. Kenna must find a way to absolve the mistakes of her past in order to build a future out of hope and healing.

Review: Reminders of Him has been one of my most anticipated reads for 2022! This contemporary novel explores grief, strained relationships, hope, and second chances. First and foremost, this is a heavy contemporary novel that really dives into grief and trauma. There is a little bit of romance in here, but it’s more of a subplot. Overall, this was extremely well written and definitely a resonating book. I really love the way Colleen not only fleshed out the flawed characters, but we also have a chance to see them grow throughout the novel. The raw emotions and the intimacy she’s able to capture of her characters is truly heart wrenching. I loved the way that the story flowed and the pacing of the romance in here works so well. The only part that didn’t work for me was that I felt that the ending was a bit too tidy for my liking, but other than that, it’s definitely a powerful and moving read. I highly recommend picking this up if you’re a Colleen Hoover fan.

Review: Love, Chai, and Other Four-Letter Words

Love, Chai, and Other Four-Letter Words by Annika Sharma
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Pub Date: 9/21/2021

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Kiran needs to fall in line. Instead, she falls in love.

Kiran was the good daughter. When her sister disobeyed her family’s plan and brought them shame, she was there to pick up the pieces. She vowed she wouldn’t make the same mistakes. She’d be twice the daughter her parents needed, to make up for the one they lost.

Nash never had a family. The parents who were supposed to raise him were completely absent. Now as a psychologist, he sees the same pattern happening to the kids he works with. So he turns away from love and family. After all, abandonment is in his genes, isn’t it?

If she follows the rules, Kiran will marry an Indian man. If he follows his fears, Nash will wind up alone. But what if they follow their hearts?

Review: Love, Chai, and Other Four-Letter Words takes place in NYC and has a friends-to-lovers trope. This novel dives into themes of strong friendships, cultural expectations, taking risks, and self discovery. This book is definitely a close door romance and slow burn. I had mixed feelings about this book. I loved the plot of this book. One main aspect I really adored was Kiran’s friends. I liked how all her friends come from different backgrounds and can’t wait to read their stories. A couple of elements that didn’t work for me were the main characters, Kiran and Nash, and the writing style. The chemistry between Kiran and Nash seemed to be more of an unbelievable insta love. Also both characters seemed to be pretty shallow. The one main aspect that bothered me was the writing style and some of the language seemed to be odd. Overall, it was a decent story, however, keep in mind this is more of women’s fiction than romance.

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: Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake

Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall
Publisher: Read Forever Pub
Pub Date: 5/18/2021

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Following the recipe is the key to a successful bake. Rosaline Palmer has always lived by those rules—well, except for when she dropped out of college to raise her daughter, Amelie. Now, with a paycheck as useful as greaseproof paper and a house crumbling faster than biscuits in tea, she’s teetering on the edge of financial disaster. But where there’s a whisk there’s a way . . . and Rosaline has just landed a spot on the nation’s most beloved baking show.

Winning the prize money would give her daughter the life she deserves—and Rosaline is determined to stick to the instructions. However, more than collapsing trifles stand between Rosaline and sweet, sweet victory.  Suave, well-educated, and parent-approved Alain Pope knows all the right moves to sweep her off her feet, but it’s shy electrician Harry Dobson who makes Rosaline question her long-held beliefs—about herself, her family, and her desires.

Rosaline fears falling for Harry is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Yet as the competition—and the ovens—heat up, Rosaline starts to realize the most delicious bakes come from the heart.

Review: Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake is the first book I’ve read from Alexis Hall. This contemporary romance novel explores expectations vs. desires, confidence, strained familial relationships, and cut-throat baking competition. I was initially drawn to this book because Estelle from Read Forever Pub has the best contemporary romance book recommendations and I adore food competition settings in romcoms. All the characters were well-developed and it was great to see how some of them changed for the better (or for the worse) throughout the story. As for the writing style, I really enjoyed the hilarious moments and also the way that the author was able to discuss sensitive subjects as well. I also loved that the author not only had romance in here, but he also weaved in personal growth. Overall, I’d highly recommend picking this one up if you’re a romance reader! I can’t wait for the book book in the series. 

Review: The Soulmate Equation

The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pub Date: 5/18/2021

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents–who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno–Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father’s never been around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands. At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98% compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly’s founder, Dr. River Pena. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Pena. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess–who is barely making ends meet–is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond” pairing that could make GeneticAlly a mint in stock prices, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist–and the science behind a soulmate–than she thought.

Funny, warm, and full of heart, The Soulmate Equation proves that the delicate balance between fate and choice can never be calculated.

Review: Christina Lauren is one of my favorite duo romance authors! The Soulmate Equation is a fake dating troupe that takes place in lovely San Diego. This contemporary romance novel explores using DNA testing to find your true love. Overall, I enjoyed this one! I really loved the supporting character’s: Fizzy (Jess’s best friend) and Juno (Jess’s 7 year old daughter). This is definitely a slow burn romance. I liked the descriptions of the setting in San Diego as well. The only part that didn’t work for me was River’s character. There were times where I felt like we didn’t know much about him or something felt out of character. Besides that, this was a 3.5 star read for me which I rounded up to 4 stars on GoodReads. I really hope there’s a sequel so we can get Fizzy’s love story!

Review: Dial A for Aunties

Dial A For Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto
Publisher: Berkley | Penguin Random House
Pub Date: 4/27/2021

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

GoodReads Synopsis: A hilariously quirky novel that is equal parts murder mystery, rom-com, and a celebration of mothers and daughters as well as a deep dive into Chinese-Indonesian culture, by debut author Jesse Q. Sutanto.

1 (accidental) murder
2 thousand wedding guests
3 (maybe) cursed generations
4 meddling Asian aunties to the rescue!

When Meddelin Chan ends up accidentally killing her blind date, her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body. Unfortunately, a dead body proves to be a lot more challenging to dispose of than one might anticipate, especially when it is accidentally shipped in a cake cooler to the over-the-top billionaire wedding Meddy, her Ma, and aunties are working, at an island resort on the California coastline. It’s the biggest job yet for their family wedding business—“Don’t leave your big day to chance, leave it to the Chans!”—and nothing, not even an unsavory corpse, will get in the way of her auntie’s perfect buttercream cake flowers.

But things go from inconvenient to downright torturous when Meddy’s great college love—and biggest heartbreak—makes a surprise appearance amid the wedding chaos. Is it possible to escape murder charges, charm her ex back into her life, and pull off a stunning wedding all in one weekend?

Review: Dial A For Aunties is the first book I’ve read from Jesse Q. Sutanto. This hilarious contemporary romance takes place in Southern California and explores second chance love, family, self discovery, and filthy rich weddings. Overall, I enjoyed this novel. From the first page, it’s over-the-top and cheesy filled with hilarious characters. I loved the main character Meddy and felt for her in terms of putting her family’s needs over her own desires. This book is a great one to pick up if you need something lighthearted and want a laugh. Definitely recommend!

Review: Gold Diggers

Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Pub Date: 4/6/2021

Disclaimer: I received a finished listening copy from Penguin Random House in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: A floundering second-generation teenager growing up in the Bush-era Atlanta suburbs, Neil Narayan is authentic, funny, and smart. He just doesn’t share the same drive as everyone around him. His perfect older sister is headed to Duke. His parents’ expectations for him are just as high. He tries to want this version of success, but mostly, Neil just wants his neighbor across the cul-de-sac, Anita Dayal.

But Anita has a secret: she and her mother Anjali have been brewing an ancient alchemical potion from stolen gold that harnesses the ambition of the jewelry’s original owner. Anjali’s own mother in Bombay didn’t waste the precious potion on her daughter, favoring her sons instead. Anita, on the other hand, just needs a little boost to get into Harvard. But when Neil–who needs a whole lot more–joins in the plot, events spiral into a tragedy that rips their community apart.

Ten years later, Neil is an oft-stoned Berkeley history grad student studying the California gold rush. His high school cohort has migrated to Silicon Valley, where he reunites with Anita and resurrects their old habit of gold theft–only now, the stakes are higher. Anita’s mother is in trouble, and only gold can save her. Anita and Neil must pull off one last heist.

Gold Diggers is a fine-grained, profoundly intelligent, and bitingly funny investigation in to questions of identity and coming of age–that tears down American shibboleths.

Review: I was initially intrigued by Gold Diggers by the vibrant cover and that Mindy Kaling is adapting this novel into a TV series which I’m sure will be amazing! This magical realism novel explores family pressure, mental health, finding your identity, and Indian culture. The writing style in this novel will capture you from page one especially with the complex flawed character and the intriguing backstory of the older generations. The audiobook narrator did an incredible job narrating this novel. The way he did the different characters voices made the story come alive. I loved the audiobook so much that I went out to buy a physical copy from Barnes & Noble to add to my bookshelf last night. Highly recommend picking this one up!

Review: Second First Impressions

Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne
Publisher: William Morrow
Pub Date: 4/13/2021

Disclaimer: I received a free 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: From the USA Today bestselling author of The Hating Game and 99 Percent Mine comes the clever, funny, and unforgettable story of a muscular, tattooed man hired as an assistant to two old women—under the watchful eye of a beautiful retirement home manager.

Distraction (n): an extreme agitation of the mind or emotions.

Ruthie Midona has worked the front desk at the Providence Luxury Retirement Villa for six years, dedicating her entire adult life to caring for the Villa’s residents, maintaining the property (with an assist from DIY YouTube tutorials), and guarding the endangered tortoises that live in the Villa’s gardens. Somewhere along the way, she’s forgotten that she’s young and beautiful, and that there’s a world outside of work—until she meets the son of the property developer who just acquired the retirement center.

Teddy Prescott has spent the last few years partying, sleeping in late, tattooing himself when bored, and generally not taking life too seriously—something his father, who dreams of grooming Teddy into his successor, can’t understand. When Teddy needs a place to crash, his father seizes the chance to get him to grow up. He’ll let Teddy stay in one of the on-site cottages at the retirement home, but only if he works to earn his keep. Teddy agrees—he can change a few lightbulbs and clip some hedges, no sweat. But Ruthie has plans for Teddy too.

Her two wealthiest and most eccentric residents have just placed an ad (yet another!) seeking a new personal assistant to torment. The women are ninety-year-old, four-foot-tall menaces, and not one of their assistants has lasted a full week. Offering up Teddy seems like a surefire way to get rid of the tall, handsome, unnerving man who won’t stop getting under her skin.

Ruthie doesn’t count on the fact that in Teddy Prescott, the Biddies may have finally met their match. He’ll pick up Chanel gowns from the dry cleaner and cut Big Macs into bite-sized bits. He’ll do repairs around the property, make the residents laugh, and charm the entire villa. He might even remind Ruthie what it’s like to be young and fun again. But when she finds out Teddy’s father’s only fixing up the retirement home to sell it, putting everything she cares about in jeopardy, she’s left wondering if Teddy’s magic was all just a façade.

Hilarious, warm, and romantic, Sally Thorne’s novel delivers an irrepressibly joyous celebration of love and community for fans of 99% Mine and The Hating Game.

Review: Sally Thorne’s third book, Second First Impressions, has been on my radar! I was a bit hesitant to read this because I adored The Hating Game, but wasn’t a fan of 99 Percent Mine. Second First Impressions is a sweet romance that explores taking chances, self discovery, community love, and finding happiness. I enjoyed the cast of characters in this storyline and seeing the character growth in the main characters. Though I enjoyed the storyline and hilarious side characters, I wasn’t a big fan of the main characters. I really love the banter and friendship all the characters had with one another, but I kind of felt that the relationship was forced between the two main characters. Towards the last quarter of the book, things seemed to wrap up too quickly. Other than that, I would recommend this novel if you loved The Hating Game!