In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren Publication: Gallery Books Publication Date: 10/6/2020
Disclaimer: I received an 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: It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.
But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.
The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.
Jam-packed with yuletide cheer, an unforgettable cast of characters, and Christina Lauren’s trademark “downright hilarious” (Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test) hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays.
Review: Christina Lauren is my favorite set of duo authors. I loved this holiday themed, childhood friends to lovers romance read. All the characters were delightful and loved that this book promoted self growth. I felt like I was watching a Hallmark Christmas movie while I was reading this book. There are a couple of sappy/cheesy moments, but that was to be expected. I found myself laughing out loud a couple of times. Overall, I highly recommend checking this one out if you love Christmas romance novels!
The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett by Annie Lyons Publication: William Morrow Publication Date: 9/8/2020
Disclaimer: I received a free finished 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: It’s never too late to start living.
Infused with the emotional power of Me Before You and the irresistible charm of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Be Frank with Me, a moving and joyous novel about an elderly woman ready to embrace death and the little girl who reminds her what it means to live.
Eudora Honeysett is done with this noisy, moronic world—all of it. She has witnessed the indignities and suffering of old age and has lived a full life. At eighty-five, she isn’t going to leave things to chance. Her end will be on her terms. With one call to a clinic in Switzerland, a plan is set in motion.
Then she meets ten-year-old Rose Trewidney, a whirling, pint-sized rainbow of color and sparkling cheer. All Eudora wants is to be left alone to set her affairs in order. Instead, she finds herself embarking on a series of adventures with the irrepressible Rose and their affable neighbor, the recently widowed Stanley—afternoon tea, shopping sprees, trips to the beach, birthday celebrations, pizza parties.
While the trio of unlikely BFFs grow closer and anxiously await the arrival of Rose’s new baby sister, Eudora is reminded of her own childhood—of losing her father during World War II and the devastating impact it had on her entire family. In reflecting on her past, Eudora realizes she must come to terms with what lies ahead.
But now that her joy for life has been rekindled, how can she possibly say goodbye?
Review: The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett is the first book I’ve read from Annie Lyons and certainly won’t be my last! Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I’ve cried so much while reading a book. This is seriously one of the best books I’ve read this year and it deserves all the stars. I was so invested in each of the deeply complex characters. I also loved the flashbacks to learn more about Eudora’s younger years and how it shaped her to be the woman she is now. It was refreshing to hear the perspective of assisted death and how discussing about death openly instead of fearing. I loved this book promotes the importance of kindness and empathy to others. I’d also like to note that audiobook is phenomenal! I kept switching from reading the book and listening to the audiobook. The audiobook narrator was perfect for this novel! If you loved The Great Unexpected by Dan Mooney and A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman, I highly recommend picking this one!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!