Review: Anxious People

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.

Rating: 4/5

Review: You Had Me at Hola

You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria
Publication: Avon
Publication Date: 8/4/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Leading Ladies do not end up on tabloid covers. 
After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine Lin Rodriguez finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she returns to her hometown of New York City to film the starring role in a bilingual romantic comedy for the number one streaming service in the country, Jasmine figures her new “Leading Lady Plan” should be easy enough to follow—until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez. 

Leading Ladies don’t need a man to be happy. 
After his last telenovela character was killed off, Ashton is worried his career is dead as well. Joining this new cast as a last-minute addition will give him the chance to show off his acting chops to American audiences and ping the radar of Hollywood casting agents. To make it work, he’ll need to generate smoking-hot on-screen chemistry with Jasmine. Easier said than done, especially when a disastrous first impression smothers the embers of whatever sexual heat they might have had. 

Leading Ladies do not rebound with their new costars. 
With their careers on the line, Jasmine and Ashton agree to rehearse in private. But rehearsal leads to kissing, and kissing leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera. While their on-screen performance improves, the media spotlight on Jasmine soon threatens to destroy her new image and expose Ashton’s most closely guarded secret.

Review: You Had Me At Hola is the first book I’ve read from Alexis Daria. Based on the premise, I had really high expectations for this book. The beginning started off really strong, but faltered towards the last quarter of the book. First off, I loved that this book showcased heartfelt characters in their 30s and also gave a background on telenovelas and soaps. I really liked Jasmine’s character in the beginning as she came off as endearing and very relatable. One main issue I had with the book was Ashton. Ashton’s emotional unavailability and the way he treated Jasmine didn’t sit well with me. His actions are later explained, however, I didn’t like how they were excused. The writing style of the switching between the behind the scenes and the show seemed to be one of the same which didn’t seem to make a difference. In terms of the narrator for the audiobook, I liked the way that the narrator brought the story life and loved the different voices she used for each character. I felt like I was listening to a telenovela when I was listening to the audiobook. Overall, I thought it was a decent romance read. If you’re a fan of steamy romance novels, then you’ll want to check this one out.

Rating: 3/5

Review: The Truth Hurts

The Truth Hurts by Rebecca Reid 
Publication: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: 7/28/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Caught up in a whirlwind romance that starts in sunny Ibiza and leads to the cool corridors of a luxurious English country estate, Poppy barely has time to catch her breath, let alone seriously question if all this is too good to be true. Drew is enamored, devoted, and, okay, a little mysterious—but that’s part of the thrill. What’s the harm in letting his past remain private? 

Maybe he’s not the only one…

Fortunately, Drew never seems to wonder why his young wife has so readily agreed to their unusual pact to live only in the here and now and not probe their personal histories. Perhaps he assumes, as others do, that she is simply swept up in the intoxication of infatuation and sudden wealth. What’s the harm in letting them believe that? 

How far will they go to keep the past buried?

Isolated in Drew’s sprawling mansion, Poppy starts to have time to doubt the man she’s married, to wonder what in his past might be so terrible that it can’t be spoken of, to imagine what harm he might be capable of. She doesn’t want this dream to shatter. But Poppy may soon be forced to confront the dark truth that there are sins far more dangerous than the sin of omission…

Review: This domestic thriller has your basic set up of a ditsy, broke, young woman marries a wealthy, older, good-looking guy. Each is hiding a secret, but they make a deal not to discuss about their pasts and get married anyway…what can go wrong?? Have you ever read a book that you were totally feeling, but then when you got to the end, you felt that you got jipped? Yeah, The Truth Hurts was it for me.  I loved the writing style in this book which maintained my interest. To satisfy my thriller and romance mood, this book fit the tab. I was also totally invested in this cliché storyline in the beginning and I was totally okay with the middle dragging for a bit, but the ending is what annoyed me the most. The book had a potential to be a four star read, but I ended up giving it 3 stars. Without giving away any spoilers, there were so many other ways the author could have amplified the ending, but unfortunately, the ending was too rushed and was so lackluster. Overall, it was a decent book. If you decide to read this one, keep your expectations low. 

Rating: 3/5

Review: The Wife Who Knew Too Much

The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell
Publication: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: 7/28/2020

Disclaimer: I received an advanced physical copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press and an advanced listening copy from LibroFM and Macmillan Audio in exchange for my honest opinion. These have no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Tabitha Girard had her heart broken years ago by Connor Ford. He was preppy and handsome. She was a pool girl at his country club. Their affair should have been a summer fling. But it meant everything to Tabitha.

Years later, Connor comes back into Tabitha’s life—older, richer, and desperately unhappy. He married for money, a wealthy, neurotic, controlling woman whom he never loved. He has always loved Tabitha.

When Connor’s wife Nina takes her own life, he’s free. He can finally be with Tabitha. Nina’s home, Windswept, can be theirs. It seems to be a perfect ending to a fairy tale romance that began so many years ago. But then, Tabitha finds a diary. “I’m writing this to raise an alarm in the event of my untimely death,” it begins. “If I die unexpectedly, it was foul play, and Connor was behind it. Connor—and her.”

Who is Connor Ford? Why did he marry Nina? Is Tabitha his true love, or a convenient affair? As the police investigate Nina’s death, is she a convenient suspect?

As Tabitha is drawn deeper into the dark glamour of a life she is ill-prepared for, it becomes clear to her that what a wife knows can kill her.

Review: I’m always a sucker for a good domestic thriller about wealth, affairs, and betrayals! This was my first Michele Campbell novel and certainly won’t be my last. She certainly knows how to write an intriguing thriller. The writing style in this book captured my attention from page one and it was hard to put the book down! There were a few twists I saw coming, but there were others I didn’t see coming which was enjoyable. Overall, I would highly recommend this book if you love domestic thrillers!

Rating: 4/5

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: The Last Flight

The Last Flight by Julie Clark 
Publication: SourceBooks Landmark
Publication Date: 6/23/2020

GoodReads Synopsis: Claire Cook has a perfect life. Married to the scion of a political dynasty, with a Manhattan townhouse and a staff of ten, her surroundings are elegant, her days flawlessly choreographed, and her future auspicious. But behind closed doors, nothing is quite as it seems. That perfect husband has a temper that burns as bright as his promising political career, and he’s not above using his staff to track Claire’s every move, making sure she’s living up to his impossible standards. But what he doesn’t know is that Claire has worked for months on a plan to vanish.

A chance meeting in an airport bar brings her together with a woman whose circumstances seem equally dire. Together they make a last-minute decision to switch tickets ― Claire taking Eva’s flight to Oakland, and Eva traveling to Puerto Rico as Claire. They believe the swap will give each of them the head start they need to begin again somewhere far away. But when the flight to Puerto Rico goes down, Claire realizes it’s no longer a head start but a new life. Cut off, out of options, with the news of her death about to explode in the media, Claire will assume Eva’s identity, and along with it, the secrets Eva fought so hard to keep hidden.

The Last Flight is the story of two women ― both alone, both scared ― and one agonizing decision that will change the trajectory of both of their lives. 

Review: I loved that this story portrayed strong female protagonists and the importance of female friendship. Julie’s writing style captured my interest from page one. The character development in this one is really well written. I loved that the author was able to capture the strength and yet the vulnerability of each main character and what she was going through. Also there were a few twists I didn’t see coming and I liked how the story ended. Overall, I enjoyed this thriller and highly recommend you read it!

Rating: 4/5

Review: The Wife Stalker

The Wife Stalker by Liv Constantine
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 5/19/2020

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Breezing into the tony seaside paradise of Westport, Connecticut, gorgeous thirtysomething Piper Reynard sets down roots, opening a rehab and wellness space and joining a local yacht club. When she meets Leo Drakos, a handsome, successful lawyer, the wedding ring on his finger is the only thing she doesn’t like about him. Yet as Piper well knows, no marriage is permanent.

Meanwhile, Joanna has been waiting patiently for Leo, the charismatic man she fell in love with all those years ago, to re-emerge from the severe depression that has engulfed him. Though she’s thankful when Leo returns to his charming, energetic self, paying attention again to Evie and Stelli, the children they both love beyond measure, Joanna is shocked to discover that it’s not her loving support that’s sparked his renewed happiness—it’s something else.

Piper. Leo has fallen head over heels for the flaky, New Age-y newcomer, and unrepentant and resolute, he’s more than willing to leave Joanna behind, along with everything they’ve built. Of course, he assures her, she can still see the children.

Joanna is devastated—and determined to find something, anything, to use against this woman who has stolen her life and her true love. As she digs deeper into Piper’s past, Joanna begins to unearth disturbing secrets . . . but when she confides to her therapist that she fears for the lives of her ex-husband and children, her concerns are dismissed as paranoia. Can she find the proof she needs in time to save them?

Review: Overall, I had mixed feelings on this domestic thriller. It was better than The Last Time I Saw You, but wasn’t as good as The Last Mrs. Parrish which is my all-time favorite domestic thriller. The beginning initially had me hooked with alternating POVs, but towards the middle, I found to skimming waiting for something to happen. Even though things eventually progressed, it felt very disjointed. Without spoiling anything, I felt that the last 20 pages or so crammed in way too twists and then I ultimately felt disappointed in the ending. I ended up giving this a low three stars. I liked the plot, however, it wasn’t executed as well as I thought it could have been.

Rating: 3/5

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