Review: You Can’t Be Serious

You Can’t Be Serious by Kal Penn
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pub Date: 11/2/2021

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

GoodReads Synopsis: In this refreshingly candid memoir, Kal Penn recounts why he rejected the advice of his aunties and guidance counselors and, instead of becoming a doctor or “something practical,” embarked on a surprising journey that has included acting, writing, working as a farmhand, teaching Ivy League University courses, and smoking fake weed with a fake President of the United States, before serving the country and advising a real one.

You Can’t Be Serious is a series of funny, consequential, awkward, and ridiculous stories from Kal’s idiosyncratic life. It’s about being the grandson of Gandhian freedom fighters, and the son of immigrant parents: people who came to this country with very little and went very far—and whose vision of the American dream probably never included their son sliding off an oiled-up naked woman in a raunchy Ryan Reynolds movie…or getting a phone call from Air Force One as Kal flew with the country’s first Black president.

With intelligence, humor, and charm on every page, Kal reflects on the most exasperating and rewarding moments from his journey so far. He pulls back the curtain on the nuances of opportunity and racism in the entertainment industry and recounts how he built allies, found encouragement, and dealt with early reminders that he might never fit in. And of course, he reveals how, after a decade and a half of fighting for and enjoying successes in Hollywood, he made the terrifying but rewarding decision to take a sabbatical from a fulfilling acting career for an opportunity to serve his country as a White House aide.

Above all, You Can’t Be Serious shows that everyone can have more than one life story. Kal demonstrates by example that no matter who you are and where you come from, you have many more choices than those presented to you. It’s a story about struggle, triumph, and learning how to keep your head up. And okay, yes, it’s also about how he accidentally (and very stupidly) accepted an invitation to take the entire White House Office of Public Engagement to a strip club—because, let’s be honest, that’s the kind of stuff you really want to hear about.

Review: Kal Penn’s memoir, You Can’t Be Serious, was one of my most anticipated books for Nonfiction November. In his memoir, Kal gives us insight into his childhood, his experience in Hollywood as a South Asian man, his political experience working as a White House administrator during the Obama administration, and how he found his partner. Overall, I enjoyed this book! Highly recommend listening to the audiobook for this one!

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: First Love, Take Two

First Love, Take Two by Sajni Patel
Publisher: Read Forever Pub
Pub Date: 9/21/2021

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

GoodReads Synopsis: On the verge of realizing her dream of being a doctor, Preeti Patel should be ecstatic. But between the stress of her residency, trying to find a job, and managing her traditional, no-boundaries family, Preeti’s anxiety is through the roof. Relationships and love aren’t even an option. Fortunately, Preeti’s finally found a new place to stay . . . only to discover that her new roommate is her ex.

Preeti never quite got over Daniel Thompson. Super-hot, plenty of swagger, amazing cook—the guy is practically perfect. And if it weren’t for their families, there might have been a happily ever after. But it’s hard to keep her sanity and libido in check when the man of her dreams is sleeping mere feet away. Can Preeti and Daniel find a way to stand up and fight for each other one last time . . . before they lose their second chance?

Review: First Love, Take Two is the second book in The Trouble With Hating You series. This romance book explores second chance romance, anxiety, interracial relationships, social pressure from community, and friendship. I appreciated that the author had a note in the beginning expressing that the story contains heavy and sensitive subjects including mental health and racism. Overall, I liked reading this one. I’m usually not a fan of second chance romances, but the chemistry between Preeti and Daniel is clearly shown in the pages. One of my favorite aspects of the book is that the author doesn’t hold back. She shows the good, the bad, the ugly. The book shows the social and cultural conflicts that the older and younger generations have against each other. Personally, I loved The Trouble With Hating You more, but this is such a strong sequel. I would recommend picking this up, but keep in mind of the author’s note before you do.  

5 Romance Books Paired With Taylor Swift Songs

What better way to celebrate romance awareness month than to match some of my recent romance reads with Taylor Swift songs? Hope you enjoy these pairings!

So We Meet Again by Suzanne Park
The Man – Taylor Swift
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall
London Boy – Taylor Swift
Happiness for Beginners by Katherline Center
Out of the Woods – Taylor Swift
The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon
End Game – Taylor Swift
The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
Delicate – Taylor Swift

Review: The Heart Principle

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Pub Date: 8/31/2021

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

GoodReads Synopsis: When violinist Anna Sun accidentally achieves career success with a viral YouTube video, she finds herself incapacitated and burned out from her attempts to replicate that moment. And when her longtime boyfriend announces he wants an open relationship before making a final commitment, a hurt and angry Anna decides that if he wants an open relationship, then she does, too. Translation: She’s going to embark on a string of one-night stands. The more unacceptable the men, the better.

That’s where tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan Diep comes in. Their first attempt at a one-night stand fails, as does their second, and their third, because being with Quan is more than sex—he accepts Anna on an unconditional level that she has just started to understand herself. However, when tragedy strikes Anna’s family she takes on a role that she is ill-suited for, until the burden of expectations threatens to destroy her. Anna and Quan have to fight for their chance at love, but to do that, they also have to fight for themselves.

Review: The Heart Principle is the third book in The Kiss Quotient series which features Quan and his love interest, Anna. This has been one of my most anticipated reads this year. Before reading this novel, I read a post from the author that this book is not a romcom, but there is a love story and character growth. Overall, this is an intense and emotional book. I adored this story and I loved reading about Anna and Quan’s journeys. One of the aspects I really loved about this book was how real the situations were and that Anna and Quan were portrayed as real people instead of putting a rose colored lens on them. I also loved the author’s note that even though this was fiction, part of this was kind of like a memoir especially Anna’s part. The author addresses so many sensitive subjects in a realistic way: grief, terminal illness, caregiving, cancer, gaslighting, suicidal ideation, and gaslighting. I would highly recommend reading this novel if you loved the previous books in this series.

4 Anticipated August Romance Reads

There are so many exciting new releases coming out this month! August is romance awareness month and below I’m sharing four of my most anticipated romance reads this month. Are any of these on your radar?

(All images from GoodReads)

So We Meet Again by Suzanne Park
Publisher: Avon Books
Pub Date: 8/3/2021

The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon
Publisher: Read Forever Pub
Pub Date: 8/17/2021

Battle Royal by Lucy Parker
Publisher: Avon Books
Pub Date: 8/17/2021

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
Publisher: Berkley Publishing
Pub Date: 8/31/2021

Review: The Stranger in the Mirror

The Stranger in the Mirror by Liv Constantine
Publisher: Harper
Pub Date: 7/6/21

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Addison’s about to get married, but she’s not looking forward to the big day. It’s not her fiancé; he’s a wonderful man. It’s because Addison doesn’t know who she really is. A few years ago, a kind driver found her bleeding next to a New Jersey highway and rescued her. While her physical wounds healed, Addison’s memory never returned. She doesn’t know her real name. Or how she ended up injured on the side of a road. Or why she can’t shake the notion that she may have done something very, very bad . . .

In a posh home in the Boston suburbs, Julian tries to figure out what happened to his loving, caring wife, Cassandra, who disappeared without a trace two years ago. She would never have left him and their seven-year-old daughter Valentina of her own free will—or would she?

As these two lives intersect, The Stranger in the Mirror hooks readers with riveting drama, told with Liv Constantine’s hallmark blend of glamour, tense psychological thrills, and jaw-dropping twists.

Review: The Stranger in the Mirror is the fourth book I’ve read from Liv Constantine. This thriller explores memory loss, toxic relationships, deception, and secrets. Overall, I enjoyed reading this novel! The small chapters, multiple POVs, unreliable narrators captured my interest. I really loved that the writing style kept me on my toes since the beginning. I usually don’t like amnesia thrillers, but this one was done well. There were some twists towards the end that I didn’t see coming which made this wild ride even more fun. Definitely recommend picking this one up if you loved The Last Mrs. Parrish and/or if you love amnesia thrillers.

Review: While We Were Dating

While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory
Publisher: Berkley
Pub Date: 7/13/21

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Ben Stephens has never bothered with serious relationships. He has plenty of casual dates to keep him busy, family drama he’s trying to ignore and his advertising job to focus on. When Ben lands a huge ad campaign featuring movie star Anna Gardiner, however, it’s hard to keep it purely professional. Anna is not just gorgeous and sexy, she’s also down to earth and considerate, and he can’t help flirting a little…

Anna Gardiner is on a mission: to make herself a household name, and this ad campaign will be a great distraction while she waits to hear if she’s booked her next movie. However, she didn’t expect Ben Stephens to be her biggest distraction. She knows mixing business with pleasure never works out, but why not indulge in a harmless flirtation?

But their lighthearted banter takes a turn for the serious when Ben helps Anna in a family emergency, and they reveal truths about themselves to each other, truths they’ve barely shared with those closest to them.

When the opportunity comes to turn their real-life fling into something more for the Hollywood spotlight, will Ben be content to play the background role in Anna’s life and leave when the cameras stop rolling? Or could he be the leading man she needs to craft their own Hollywood ending?

Review: While We Were Dating is the sixth book into the Wedding Date series by Jasmine Guillory. This contemporary romance novel is a fast lighthearted read. This book features Ben Stephens, Theo’s younger brother, who meets Anna, a famous actress, and end up from secret dating to fake dating. Overall, this was decent read for me. One of of the strongest points in this book was mental health representation. I love the Bay Area and Palm Springs setting in this novel. I also liked that Theo and Maddie from The Wedding Party popped in the background and so did Nic and Carlos from The Proposal. The part that didn’t work for me was the conflict in this book which seemed trivial. There also a couple of California logistics that I was hung up on while reading. If you like the wedding date series, you may want to pick this up.

3 YA Books Paired With Matching Songs

This past month I’ve been reading more Young Adult books than I typically do. I thought I would match a few I read with songs that they remind me of. Hope you enjoy!

Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous by Suzanne Parker
Delicate – Taylor Swift

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Young
Sway – The Pussycat Dolls
Heartbreakers and Fakers by Cameron Lund
Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F) – Katy Perry

5 Summer Romance Books I Can’t Wait To Read!

It’s officially the first week of summer! Below are some of my most anticipated romance reads that will be releasing in the next month or two that I can’t wait to read.

While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory
Publisher: Berkley
Pub Date: 7/13/21
How Sweet It Is by Dylan Newton
Publisher: Read Forever
Pub Date: 7/13/21
Isn’t It Bromantic? by Lyssa Kay Adams
Publisher: Berkley
Pub Date: 7/20/21
The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon
Publisher: Read Forever
Pub Date: 8/17/21
The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
Publisher: Berkley
Pub Date: 8/31/21

Are these books on your list as well? What upcoming releases are you excited to read this summer?