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Reviews: The Break-Up Book Club & Talk Bookish to Me

 

I’ve got a totally bookish theme going on for today’s reviews.  I’ll be sharing my thoughts on a book about a most delightful book club and on a book that features a romance author desperately seeking inspiration for her new book.  Fun times!

 

Reviews:  The Break-Up Book Club & Talk Bookish to MeThe Break-Up Book Club Goodreads

Author: Wendy Wax

Publication Date: May 18, 2021

Publisher:  Berkley Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

I couldn’t resist a chance to read a book about a book club so I was excited to dive into Wendy Wax’s new novel, The Break-Up Book Club.  The story follows four women of different generations whose lives have been turned upside down by the men they love. They each go to their local book club’s meetings in hopes of finding a distraction from their problems, but what they find is so much more.  There’s nothing quite like the healing power of good friends and good books.

The story is told from the perspectives of these four women.  I really like how the author chose to present their stories, with us following each woman’s individual journey but also having them come together regularly at their book club meetings.  There’s Sara, whose husband is always out of town for work which leaves her saddled with Dorothy, her incredibly difficult mother-in-law who has been living with them.  There’s Judith, whose children have grown up and moved out, leaving her at home alone to ponder the state of her marriage and how she feels like nothing but a supporting player in her husband’s life.  Rounding out the main cast of characters are Jazmine and Erin, who work together at a sports agency.  Jazmine is an agent and a single mom, trying to make it in an arrogant man’s world, and her young assistant, Erin, has just been dumped by her high school sweetheart less than a week before they were supposed to get married.  I really liked all of the main characters and found them all to be quite sympathetic.

I also really enjoyed all of the secondary characters as well.  The members of the book club are a fun, diverse, and quirky bunch and I thoroughly enjoyed sitting in on their meetings. There’s always good food and wine, a spirited debate about whatever book they’ve read, and there’s also a fun contest to finally give their little club a name that really brings out the competitive side of these book lovers.  I loved watching the friendships blossom within the club and just how therapeutic these relationships become over time for Jazmine, Erin, Judith, and Sara.  The book club is basically their “found” family, which just made this such a feel good read.

If you’re in the mood for an uplifting read about the power of friendship and community that will leave you with a smile on your face, you’ll definitely want to check out The Break-Up Book Club.  4 STARS

 

Reviews:  The Break-Up Book Club & Talk Bookish to MeTalk Bookish to Me Goodreads

Author: Kate Bromley

Publication Date: May 25, 2021

Publisher:  Graydon House

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Kate Bromley’s debut novel Talk Bookish to Me is a contemporary romance that was irresistible to me because it features so many of my favorite things. It’s set, first in Manhattan and then later in Italy, it features a romance author as the protagonist, and it’s equal parts enemies-to-lovers and second chance romance. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you can see this book practically has my name written all over it.  Talk Bookish to Me didn’t disappoint either.  It’s filled with loveable characters, witty and hilarious banter, some seriously intense chemistry, and, as if all of that isn’t enough, there’s also an adorable bulldog named Duke.

The story follows Kara Sullivan, who is a romance writer with no inspiration to write.  With the deadline for her latest novel fast approaching, Kara needs to find the spark that will get her writing mojo back on track.  That spark unexpectedly appears in the form of her ex-boyfriend, Ryan, who she runs into because he is in town for their friend’s wedding.  Kara and Ryan parted on bad terms ten years ago and after this tense and awkward reunion, Kara is suddenly able to crank out a few chapters for her book.  When Ryan’s dog, Duke, destroys their hotel room and gets Ryan kicked out, Kara surprises herself and offers to let Ryan and Duke stay at her place.  Her thought behind this crazy idea is that if she continues to trade barbs with Ryan, perhaps she’ll be inspired enough to actually get her book written on time.  What could possibly go wrong?

I had so much fun reading this book.  I loved Kara right away and found her so relatable. She’s fun, sweet, quirky, and not only is she an author, she also loves to take photos of books and post them on Bookstagram.  In many ways she felt like a kindred spirit.  She’s also carrying around some pretty heavy emotional baggage involving her father’s death that put me in her corner rooting for her all the more.

Ryan is a great character too.  I loved watching him with his dog and his banter with Kara is just so entertaining.  It’s clear from the moment they reconnect that he still cares for her and would love a second chance.  The more I watched them interact, the more I wanted him to get that second chance as well.  I will say there was one moment where I really wanted to kick his butt and wanted Kara to kick it as well, but he eventually digs himself out of that hole and then I was rooting for the two of them to get their long-postponed happily ever after.

I also enjoyed the way the author gave us Ryan and Kara’s journey but also mixed in chapters from Kara’s book as she was writing it. It was fun to see what her interactions with Ryan inspired her to write each step of the way.

Talk Bookish to Me is a fun and sexy read that is sure to please romance fans. 4 STARS

Reviews: PERFECT ON PAPER & THE CASTLE SCHOOL (FOR TROUBLED GIRLS)

 

Happy Monday everyone. Can you believe it’s March already?!  I’m so excited that we’re finally getting close to Spring and warmer temps because I’m just over the cold.  Anyway, today I’m sharing two YA contemporary novels that I really enjoyed.  The common thread between them is that they are both set in schools, but beyond that, they are pretty much night and day.

 

Reviews: PERFECT ON PAPER & THE CASTLE SCHOOL (FOR TROUBLED GIRLS)Perfect on Paper Goodreads

Author: Sophie Gonzales

Publication Date: March 9, 2021

Publisher:  Wednesday Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales was such a fun and delightful read.  It follows Darcy Phillips, a bisexual teen, who has managed to commandeer a locker at her high school and uses it to anonymously dispense relationship advice to her fellow classmates.  Students write letters and enclose a $10 fee and their email address, and after school, Darcy empties the locker and takes the letters home so that she can respond to them.  What could possibly go wrong with this scheme?  Enter Brougham, a member of the school’s swim team, who catches Darcy in the act of retrieving letters from the locker.  Rather than rat her out, however, Brougham tells Darcy he desperately needs her help and wants to hire her to help him win his ex back.  Again, what could possibly go wrong here?

For me, the most fun about this book was Darcy herself and what a perfectly imperfect character she is.  She gives this business of hers her all, truly going out of her way to research the psychology of relationships and provide thoughtful answers to each of her classmates’ questions.  Even though what she is doing is morally and ethically questionable, Darcy truly believes she is helping people and wants everyone to be happy.  But when it comes to Darcy’s own love life, however, she’s basically a hot mess and can’t follow her own advice.  For example, Darcy is in love with her best friend, Brooke, but she can’t work up her nerve enough to tell Brooke how she feels. Instead, she goes out of her way to sabotage all of Brooke’s relationships so that Brooke stays in her orbit and available in case she ever does work up the nerve.  Darcy’s flaws in this area just made her all the more lovable of a character for me and I just wanted her to find her own happiness the way she was so intent on everyone else finding theirs.

There was really just so much to love about this book.  In addition to adoring Darcy, I also really adored Brougham.  He comes across as arrogant and obnoxious at first but it becomes clear over time that he is soft boy with a very dysfunctional home life, who just really needs a hug.  I loved watching his friendship with Darcy evolve as they worked together and got to know each other better.

In addition to being a fun and super cute read, Perfect on Paper also tackles some important topics such as biphobia. I was a huge fan of the Q and Q (Queer and Questioning) Club where queer students could meet up and discuss whatever is on their minds.  Darcy is the student who brings up biphobia as she discusses how people question whether or not she is actually queer if she has a boyfriend rather than a girlfriend. I loved that she had a group like this she could go to and receive support and validation from her peers.

Perfect on Paper is just an all around wonderful read and it really does have something for everyone. Friendships, flawed characters, humor, drama, teen angst, and so much more.  If you’re looking for a fun read that will leave you with a contented smile on your face, this is the book for you.  4.5 STARS

 

Reviews: PERFECT ON PAPER & THE CASTLE SCHOOL (FOR TROUBLED GIRLS)The Castle School (for Troubled Girls) Goodreads

Author: Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Publication Date: March 2, 2021

Publisher:  Sourcebooks Fire

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Moira Dreyfuss is seventeen years old and she lives in Manhattan.    Even though she lives in one of the most exciting cities in the world, Moira feels alone.  Her best (and only) friend, Nathan, has recently lost his battle with cancer and Moira is truly struggling to cope with this loss.  She starts skipping school, acting out, refusing to eat, and even uses a fake ID to get a tattoo behind her parents’ back.  At their wit’s end because they don’t know how to help her, Moira’s parents opt to send her away to The Castle School, a boarding school located in rural Maine along the coast.  The headmaster is a doctor so not only will Moira attend classes to continue her school, but she will also attend therapy sessions with the headmaster.

As the school’s name implies, The Castle School is just that, a castle, and it looks like something out of a Gothic novel.  Couple that with bars on the windows and the confiscation of all electronics and Moira is practically a prisoner, completely cut off from the outside world.  I think because of this eerie, remote setting and the way Moira is introduced to the school, I was expecting this novel to be a mystery, thriller, or even a horror story (something along the lines of a Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children novel), but it’s none of those things.  While there are a few small mysteries sprinkled throughout, by and large, The Castle School (for Troubled Girls) by Alyssa Sheinmel is a YA contemporary that explores grief, mental illness, and dysfunctional family relationships.

There are actually twelve girls in all at the school, but Moira is the one we follow most closely.  We follow her as she meets and gradually begins to bond with the rest of the girls and as she learns why each of them has ended up at the school.  Each girl’s story was just as heartbreaking and lonely as Moira’s, and each girl also had a history of mental illness, so it was great to watch them all bond and act as a support system for each other.  Aside from watching Moira interact with these girls and start to form friendships, we also follow Moira to her therapy sessions, which were unusual, in part because Moira is so resistant to the idea of exploring her own thoughts and feelings about where she is in life.  Instead, she spends most of her sessions asking the Doctor questions about his school.  Why a castle?  Why only twelve girls?, etc.  He patiently humors her and answers her questions as he waits for her to come around and willingly discuss why she has landed at his school.  I found that doctor/patient relationship quite interesting to watch develop, particularly because it is through Moira’s questions that we learn more about the school and rhyme or reason as to why the doctor runs thing as he does.

In addition to being an exploration of grief and mental illness, The Castle School (for Troubled Girls) is also a coming of age story in the sense that Moira has to figure out who she is and what her place in this world is without her best friend by her side. Moira’s journey is heartbreaking at times and the author does a wonderful job of making the overall story a compelling one that I found myself completely invested in.  3.5 STARS