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: Take A Hint, Dani Brown

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: 6/23/2020

Disclaimer: I won an advanced reader copy of this book from GoodReads courtesy by Avon Books. This has no effect on my opinion, review or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom.

When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse?

Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs.

Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?

Review: This is the second book in The Brown Sisters series and could be read as a stand alone book. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and definitely loved this one more than Get a Life, Chloe Brown. Not only is there a diverse set of characters, but I really liked that each of the characters in this book stand their own ground. Talia Hibbert incorporates the importance of mental health and work life balance in such a relatable yet funny way way in her book. I highly recommend picking this one up if you love contemporary romance! I can’t wait for Eve’s story next!

Rating: 4/5

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: 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: 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: 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

Review: Oona Out Of Order

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
Publication: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: 2/25/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Just because life may be out of order, doesn’t mean it’s broken.
It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. And so begins Oona Out of Order…
Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club Kid? World traveler? Wife to a man she’s never met?
Oona Out of Order is a remarkably inventive novel that explores what it means to live a life fully in the moment, even if those moments are out of sequence. Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family.

Review: Oona Out of Order is the first book I’ve read from Margarita Montimore. When I first came across this book, I thought that the storyline seemed intriguing, but I wasn’t sure if I’d like it since the genres this book are under are sci-fi and magic realism which are out of my comfort zone. Overall, I found this to be a solid 4 star read. I was drawn to the author’s writing style. I liked how each year was a different phase in life and how all the parts eventually came together. There were a few twists I didn’t see coming. I realized that I ended up liking the second half of the book more than the first half (I’m thinking it may have to do with Oona becoming more mature). The book ended up being deeper than I thought and loved that the overall message. I’d recommend picking this up if you like the concept of time travel.

Rating: 4/5