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Reviews: GLIMPSED and JOINT CUSTODY

 

Happy New Year, everyone! Hard to believe it’s 2021 already but here we are. I had a lovely break, quiet and relaxing, and was able to get a lot of reading done.  Today I’m sharing my thoughts on two rom-coms that are coming out this month, Glimpsed and Joint Custody.

Reviews:  GLIMPSED and JOINT CUSTODYGlimpsed Goodreads

Author: G. F. Miller

Publication Date: January 5, 2021

Publisher:  Simon and Schuster for Young Readers

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

 

If you follow my blog, you know that I love a good fairytale retelling. When I read that G.F. Miller’s new novel Glimpsed is a modern-day Cinderella retelling from the perspective of the Fairy Godmother, I knew I had to read it. Charity is a high school student with an unusual and magical gift – she can glimpse a person’s deepest desires and can make their dreams come true.  Making people’s wishes come true fills Charity with a sense of joy and purpose, that is, until one of her wish fulfillments ends in disaster.  This causes Charity to question everything she has ever done – Is she really helping people or is she setting them up for failure and unhappiness in the long-term?  Her feelings of self-doubt aren’t helped at all when she is confronted by Noah, a boy in her class, who says he knows what Charity does and threatens to expose her to her classmates because she ruined his life by making the girl he liked fall in love with someone else.

I really enjoyed this modern spin on the Cinderella story and especially that it focused on the Fairy Godmother who is so firmly in the background of the original tale.  I also loved the exploration of whether or not granting a person’s wishes actually leads to a happily ever after.  It adds so much more depth to this beloved character who never once questions that granting a wish could have ramifications that she hasn’t considered.  I also really liked that even though it’s technically a retelling, Glimpsed still has a unique and fresh feel to it. It’s not just a rehashing of the story we already know.

Charity and Noah are also a huge draw for me. Their relationship starts out in such an antagonistic yet entertaining way. Even though Noah is blackmailing Charity, it soon becomes clear that he’s really just a softie and a sci-fi geek to boot. In short, he’s adorable and even though she kind of wants to strangle him, Charity soon finds herself thinking of him as a friend and then wonders if they could be more than friends.  Is a Fairy Godmother allowed to have a happy ending of her own?  If you want to know the answer to that question, you’ll definitely want to check out Glimpsed4 STARS

 

Reviews:  GLIMPSED and JOINT CUSTODYJoint Custody Goodreads

Author: Lauren Baratz-Logsted and Jackie Logsted

Publication Date: January 5, 2021

Publisher:  Berkley Books

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

 

If you’re a dog lover, you’re going to want to check out Joint Custody, the new novel from Lauren Baratz-Logsted and Jackie Logsted.  It follows Gatz, a mischievous border collie who is none too pleased when his owners break up.  Gatz knows they’re perfect for each other, and of course, the perfect owners for him so he decides to take matters into his own paws and get them back together.

And when I say it follows Gatz, the story really follows Gatz.  We see everything from his perspective and we are fully in his head as he plots and schemes to get his owners back together.  It’s a really fun read too as we get Gatz’s inner thoughts as he orchestrates ways to bring his owners in proximity to one another, to remind them that they belong together. It gets downright hilarious at times too as Gatz seeks to sabotage any dates his owners go on with other people.  He’s just not having it, haha.

Because we are getting the story from the perspective of a dog, we don’t get a lot of in depth information about the humans in the book.  The owners are The Man and The Woman, and when one of them goes on a date, the date is New Man, New Woman, etc.  That took a little getting used to at first, but once I settled in, I thoroughly enjoyed the overall story.

If you love dogs and/or enjoy books like A Dog’s Purpose, Joint Custody is a book that will warm your heart and put a smile on your face.  3.5 STARS

 

Review: THE BOY TOY by Nicola Marsh

Review:  THE BOY TOY by Nicola MarshThe Boy Toy by Nicola Marsh
four-stars
Published by BERKLEY on November 17, 2020
Genres: Romance, Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 352
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Goodreads

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With a name like The Boy Toy, I went into Nicola Marsh’s new novel expecting a sexy romance featuring a woman with a young lover.  While I’m excited to report that the romance is, in fact, steamy and yes the story does feature a relationship between an older woman and a younger man, The Boy Toy is so much more than just a sexy read. And it’s that “so much more” that really made this read such a winner for me.

The Boy Toy follows Samira, an Indian-American physical therapist, and Rory, a gorgeous stunt man who lives in Melbourne, Australia, Samira’s hometown. The two of them have a chance encounter while Samira has returned to her hometown for a brief visit to help her cousin with her new business.  Sparks fly from the moment they meet, but all either Rory or Samira are really looking for is a one-night stand. After a night of sizzling sex, however, it becomes all too clear that a one-night stand simply isn’t enough.  Both are hesitant when it comes to relationships though. Samira is still reeling from the fall-out of a short-lived arranged marriage to an Indian man who ended up cheating on her, while Rory feels vulnerable because he has been battling a life-long stutter that often leaves him feeling like a disappointment to those around him, particularly his father.  In reading the author’s note, I learned that she too has a stutter and so she has done a wonderful job authentically capturing how having a stutter can impact your life.

I really loved Samira and Rory together so much.  They have so much chemistry and I just loved the way they played off each other.  I was immediately rooting for them to have a happy ending, particularly as soon as Samira’s mother and aunties started in all over again with their determination to find Samira a suitable husband, and by suitable, they mean Indian, which Rory is not.  I loved the strength Samira displays throughout the story as she stands her ground and firmly tells them she will chose for herself this time.  That’s not to say they listen, but she makes herself very clear time and time again.  I also adored Rory. He’s such a sweetheart and I was an especially big fan of the scenes where he visits the center where he got help for his stutter as a kid.  There are a couple of scenes between him and a little boy with a stutter that will just melt your heart. I also loved that he wanted to give back to this center because it had given him so much.

In addition to cheering on Rory and Samira as they navigate the terrain of a multi-cultural relationship, I also loved the family interactions in the book and all the secondary characters that we meet along the way.  Samira’s close relationship with her cousin Pia was one of my favorites in the book, and I also adored Samra’s mother, Kushi, even when she was being pushy about Samira’s love life.  And don’t even get me started on Kushi’s cooking skills.  The descriptions of Indian food sprinkled throughout her scenes had me so hungry the entire time I was reading!  Samira’s aunties were not quite as delightful and loveable as Kushi, but they still added a nice dramatic element to the story.  Rory brings his fair share of family drama to the table as well in the form of a very strained relationship with his father. Family friend, Manish, who is Kushi’s choice to be Samira’s next husband, is also a great character. I really enjoyed his friendship with Samira.  The scenes with family provide some lovely heartfelt moments as well as some more dramatic moments to balance with the steamy scenes between Samira and Rory.

If you’re looking for a fun and sexy read that features an older woman and a younger man, the challenges of a multi-cultural relationship, and also a fair share of family drama, look no further than The Boy Toy. It’s sure to please!

 

four-stars

About Nicola Marsh

USA TODAY bestselling and award-winning Australian author Nicola Marsh writes feel-good fiction…with a twist.

She has published 70 books and sold over 8 million copies worldwide.

She currently writes contemporary romance for Penguin Random House Berkley USA, domestic suspense novels for Hachette UK’s Bookouture, and rural romance for Harper Collins Australia’s Mira imprint.

She’s a Waldenbooks, Bookscan, Amazon, iBooks and Barnes & Noble bestseller, a 2013 RBY and National Readers’ Choice Award winner, and a multiple finalist for awards including the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, Booksellers’ Best, Golden Quill, Laurel Wreath, More than Magic and has won several CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Awards.

She loves chatting on social media!

Reviews: DON’T LOOK FOR ME & WE ARE NOT FROM HERE

 

 

 

Reviews:  DON’T LOOK FOR ME & WE ARE NOT FROM HEREDon't Look for Me Goodreads

Author: Wendy Walker

Publication Date: September 15, 2020

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press

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

 

Who’s in the mood for an exciting psychological thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat?  If you are, then look no further that Wendy Walker’s new novel, Don’t Look for Me.  This is my third read from Walker and it’s my favorite yet.

The story follows Molly Clark, whose life is just a mess.  As soon as we meet her, we learn that one evening while driving through her neighborhood, she accidentally struck and killed her youngest daughter, who had unexpectedly darted into the street.  Instead of the rest of Molly’s family coming together to grieve their loss, they choose to collectively give Molly the cold shoulder.  Her other two children constantly say cruel things to her, and Molly is pretty sure, based on his standoffish behavior, that her husband is having an affair.  One night while out driving, Molly’s car runs out of gas.  As she sits there pondering what to do, she thinks about taking it as a sign that she should just walk away from everything in her life.  No one will even miss her and in fact, they’ll probably consider themselves better off without her.  The next morning, Molly’s car is found abandoned and a note is left behind indicating that Molly has done exactly that – left her family with no intention of returning.  Is that really what happened though?

One of my favorite aspects of Don’t Look for Me is that the story comes to us from two points of view, one is Molly and the other is her eldest daughter, Nicole.  Nicole doesn’t buy it for one second that her mother just took off and abandoned the family.  Riddled with guilt over some of the awful things she has said to her mother recently, Nicole vows not to rest until she has found her mother and brought her back home.  The story alternates between giving us glimpses of what has happened to Molly since we saw her in her car and Nicole’s amateur sleuthing to try to track down her mom.  The journey is equal parts riveting and downright creepy, especially the deeper Nicole digs and the longer Molly stays missing.  I was glued to my seat as it became more and more apparent that something way more sinister than a mom abandoning her responsibilities was afoot.

I don’t want to say anything else because you really need to experience these two women’s journeys for yourself, but if you’re looking for an excellent atmospheric thriller to kick off your fall reading, Don’t Look for Me is a great choice.  4 STARS 

 

Reviews:  DON’T LOOK FOR ME & WE ARE NOT FROM HEREWe Are Not From Here Goodreads

Author: Jenny Torres Sanchez

Publication Date: May 19, 2020

Publisher:  Philomel Books

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

 

Jenny Torres Sanchez’s latest novel, We Are Not From Here, is an absolutely heart-wrenching story about three teenagers, Pequena, Pulga, and Chico, who are trying to escape the abusive and dangerous conditions they’ve been surrounded by for most of their young lives. Traveling from Guatemala and up through Mexico, the teens are desperate to find a way across the Mexican border into America where they have a chance to live a better and safer life.

I became invested in Pequena, Pulga, and Chico from the moment I first met each of them.  My heart broke for them because they felt like they had no choice but to take off on such a dangerous and potentially deadly journey, but I also admired their courage and their loyalty to one another.  It was impossible not to root for them to make it safely into America.  In that sense, it was a very emotional read for me.  I laughed with them at times, but then I also cried a lot and just felt so angry and frustrated that their lives are so hard.  As touched as I was by these incredible kids though, it was the tension and suspense that really pulled me along through the story.  Every moment of their journey is downright terrifying and tragedy touches them way too many times along the way.  I was on the edge of my seat and flew through the pages waiting to see what their fate would be.

We Are Not From Here is a powerful and emotional read, and it’s also an important and timely one.  It’s one of those stories I wish everyone would read because I think it would help to create some much needed empathy and understanding toward those who are so desperately looking for a better life for themselves and their loved ones.

If you’re looking for a timely and thought provoking read filled with unforgettable characters and experiences that will move you to tears, We Are Not From Here should be on your reading list.  4.5 STARS

Reviews: The Year of the Witching & The Pull of the Stars

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on two historical fiction novels that are releasing in July.  The first is an atmospheric tale about witches and curses that is sure to entertain, while the second is a heart-wrenching and thought provoking look at the influenza pandemic of 1918.

 

Reviews:  The Year of the Witching & The Pull of the StarsThe Year of the Witching Goodreads

Author: Alexis Henderson

Publication Date: July 21, 2020

Publisher:  Ace

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

 

I’m always up for a good witchy read so I couldn’t resist picking up a copy of The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson.  That gorgeous cover promises an atmospheric read with hints of the supernatural, and I knew from the moment I opened the book and saw it was divided in parts labeled Blood, Blight, Darkness, and Slaughter that I was in for a wild ride, and boy does this book deliver! The story follows a young woman named Immanuelle Moore, who was labeled as cursed from the moment of her birth, because her mother was unmarried.  Raised by her grandparents after her mother ran off, Immanuelle has spent her entire life trying to live up to the religious ideals of her community and prove that she is not a curse or a threat.  One night, however, Immanuelle finds herself inexplicably drawn to a forbidden place called the Darkwood and it is there that everything changes. She encounters witches there and they present her with her mother’s diary.

When people in her community start falling ill soon after, Immanuelle fears she has unleashed something awful and turns to her mother’s diary for some insight.  The more Immanuelle reads, the more she questions everything she has ever known about her mother, her own life, and the Puritanical, cult-like ways of her community.  I adored Immanuelle because she was so smart, so resourceful and resilient, and because she wasn’t afraid to challenge and question authority, especially if she feels that the authority figures are abusing their power.  I also loved how determined she was to save the people of her community even though they weren’t always as nice to her as they could have been because of her “cursed” status.  I don’t want to spoil anything so I’m just going to say that for me, The Year of the Witching reads like a mashup of Margaret Atwood’s popular dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, a play about the Salem Witch Trials.  It’s an atmospheric witchy read filled with secrets, lies, and curses, and whose vivid supernatural imagery will keep you glued to its pages.  4 STARS.

 

Reviews:  The Year of the Witching & The Pull of the StarsThe Pull of the Stars Goodreads

Author: Emma Donoghue

Publication Date: July 21, 2020

Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company

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

 

When I first heard about Emma Donoghue’s new novel, The Pull of the Stars, I struggled with whether or not I could handle reading a novel about a pandemic since we’re currently in the middle of one ourselves, ultimately my love of Donoghue’s writing and storytelling won out though and I decided to give it a go.  Set in Dublin, Ireland in 1918, in the middle of both WWI and a deadly influenza pandemic, The Pull of the Stars takes us inside a maternity ward in a hospital in Dublin.  Through the eyes of Nurse Julia Power, we see firsthand what it looks like to work in what has become just as lethal as the battlefield itself.  Nurse Power is tasked with caring for expectant mothers who have contracted the deadly flu.  The hospital is woefully overcrowded and understaffed as the staff continually gets sick while caring for patients.  Nurse Power’s ward honestly isn’t even a ward; it’s a supply closet that has been converted to a ward.  Not only is it cramped, but it means that all of the pregnant women are in one room together.  When tragedy strikes, there’s no dignity and no privacy.  Everyone bears witness to your grief.

I was drawn into the story immediately by Nurse Power’s perspective of what it was like to work as a nurse in this environment and her tireless devotion to keeping these women alive, but what really captivated me was watching each pregnant woman’s story unfold.  The story may mostly take place in a tiny closet, but Donoghue uses the journeys of each woman to explore some huge themes – religion, poverty, sexual abuse, PTSD, and abuse of power, just to name a few, as well as to show how deadly the flu was and how it could strike at any moment.  What takes place in that room is raw, emotional, and so authentic that I found myself tearing up many times while reading, particularly once I learned the significance of the watch on the book’s cover.  I may have been hesitant to start reading The Pull of the Stars, but once I started it, it kept me rapt until the very last page.  While in many ways, it’s a tragic story, The Pull of the Stars is also a quietly, powerful story of hope and survival.  4.5 STARS

Reviews: Today Tonight Tomorrow & 10 Things I Hate about Pinky

 

I’ve got two great YA contemporaries to share with you today.  The first is from a new-to-me author, Rachel Lynn Solomon and the second is from one of my favorite YA contemporary authors Sandhya Menon.  I had so much fun with both of these reads and am excited to share my thoughts on them with you.

 

Reviews:  Today Tonight Tomorrow & 10 Things I Hate about PinkyToday Tonight Tomorrow Goodreads

Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon

Publication Date: July 28, 2020

Publisher:  Simon Pulse

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

 

Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon is one of the most entertaining and relatable novels set in a high school I’ve read in a long time.  It follows senior Rowan Roth on her last day of high school and beautifully captures all of the emotions running through her head as she prepares to say goodbye to her classmates and, in essence, her childhood, and as she looks ahead to her future and her desire to become an author.  Will she ever see her friends again?  Has she really accomplished everything she hoped to accomplish in high school?  Will people take her seriously when she tells them she wants to write romance novels?  All of the emotions swirling around in Rowan’s brain as she navigates that last day of school were so relatable and really made me nostalgic for my own high school days.

Today Tonight Tomorrow is also a really fun read though.  It features the most epic scavenger hunt/assassin game called HOWL where seniors are given clues that take them all around the city of Seattle, along with an armband and the name of a target, which is of course a fellow senior.  If you capture your target’s armband, he or she is eliminated.  The goal of the game is to correctly solve all of the clues, providing photo evidence for each, and eliminate as many targets as possible without being eliminated yourself.  How much fun does that sound like?  I would have loved this game when I was in high school. Heck, I’d actually play it right now!  What makes HOWL even more fun though is that Rowan inadvertently ends up paired with her arch nemesis and high school rival for valedictorian, Neil McNair (or McNightmare as Rowan prefers to call him).  What could possibly go wrong with this scenario?  Will they work together, maybe become friends or dare I say it, even more than friends?  Or will they relish the opportunity to go head-to-head one more time before they say goodbye to high school and to each other?  Oh, the possibilities!  I’m not going to say anymore so that you can find out for yourself, but I’ll just say I loved every minute of their time together that last day.  If you’re looking for a heartwarming, contemplative read with a little side of mostly good-natured, cutthroat fun, be sure to check out Today Tonight Tomorrow.   4.5 STARS

 

 

Reviews:  Today Tonight Tomorrow & 10 Things I Hate about Pinky10 Things I Hate About Pinky Goodreads

Author: Sandhya Menon

Publication Date: July 21, 2020

Publisher:  Simon Pulse

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

 

My love for Sandhya Menon’s YA novels continues with her latest, 10 Things I Hate about Pinky.  Pinky Kumar is a free spirit and a social justice warrior, and when she is passionate about a cause, watch out because nothing is going to stop her from making her dream a reality.  While Pinky’s passion is an admirable quality, it does tend to rattle her conservative lawyer parents a bit, especially since they think her free spiritedness leads her to make unwise decisions at times.  Pinky’s choice of boyfriends is also a frequent topic of conversation and when it’s the first topic of conversation when they arrive at their beach house for summer vacation, Pinky decides to take action so that she doesn’t have to spend the entire summer listening to her parents.  When she hears that Samir Jha, a friend of a friend, has had his summer plans fall through at the last minute, she invites him to her beach house to pose as her fake boyfriend.  Samir wants to be a lawyer like her parents and he dreams of going to Harvard, which is Pinky’s mom’s alma mater, so he’s the perfect boy to finally impress her parents.  There’s just one problem…once they finally meet up and start hanging out, Pinky and Samir realize they can’t stand each other. Samir is so flustered and so frustrated by Pinky that he actually writes a list down of all the things he hates about her.  It’s so hilarious watching the two of them try to deal with each other all summer without blowing their cover and of course every step of the way I’m waiting for that moment when they’re sure to realize that perhaps those sparks flying between them aren’t all about hate after all.  I adored everything about this book. Both Pinky and Samir are adorable in their own way, and I also loved the shout outs to Ashish and Sweetie from Menon’s other books in this series.  I breezed through 10 Things I Hate about Pinky in a day and was sorry to say goodbye to these characters at the end.  As always though, Menon left me with warm fuzzies and a smile on my face and I really hope we’ll get even more books set in this world.   4 STARS

Reviews: THE EXTRAORDINARIES & CINDERELLA IS DEAD

 

I’ve got two great YA fantasies to share with you today.  The first is a hilarious new superhero story from T.J. Klune.  This was my first time reading one of Klune’s novels and it did not disappoint! The second is an entertaining and fresh take on the beloved fairytale, Cinderella.

 

Reviews:  THE EXTRAORDINARIES & CINDERELLA IS DEADThe Extraordinaries Goodreads

Author: T.J. Klune

Publication Date: July 14, 2020

Publisher:  Tor Teen

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

 

T.J. Klune’s YA debut, The Extraordinaries, is one of the most laugh-out loud funny books I’ve read in a long time.  A cross between Marissa Meyers’ Renegades and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, The Extraordinaries follows Nick, a gay teen and popular fanfiction writer who writes stories for the Extraordinaries superhero fandom. Nick’s fanfiction centers around Shadow Star, the Extraordinary he has a major crush on.  Nick dreams of meeting Shadow Star and winning his affections, and Nick’s dream only increases when against all odds, he has a chance meeting with Shadow Star, that leaves him utterly awestruck and formulating a hilarious yet slightly unrealistic plan as to how he too can become a superhero so he and Shadow Star can be a real team and live happily ever after.

Nick and his “adorkableness” are really what made me love this book.  His nerdy crush on Shadow Star is just adorable, as is his passion for his fanfiction.  I think Nick is going to be a character that a lot of readers relate to as well. Nick has an amazing queer friend group that supports his crush and yet has fun mocking him relentlessly over it.  He’s also got an ex-boyfriend that just won’t go away, which makes life interesting yet awkward for everyone.  On a more serious note, Nick has ADHD that he takes medication for to help him stay focused, and he’s also dealing with the loss of his mom, who was killed during a robbery.  One of my favorite parts of the novel is actually Nick’s relationship with his ultra-supportive Dad as they try to navigate their new normal without Nick’s mom in their lives.  As much as I was sitting there giggling right along with Nick’s friends as they gently poke fun at his crush, I also had moments where I just wanted to grab him and give him a big hug because he just needs one every now and then.

I don’t want to say much more because with superheroes, secret identities and even a bit of a mystery thrown in the mix, it’s just way too easy to run into spoilers, but I will say if you’re looking for a read that is as heartwarming as it is funny, The Extraordinaries should be on your must-read list.  I highly recommend it to anyone who loved Renegades and Fangirl and to anyone who enjoys a good friends-to-lovers romance.  The Extraordinaries has something for everyone!  4 STARS

 

 

Reviews:  THE EXTRAORDINARIES & CINDERELLA IS DEADCinderella Is Dead Goodreads

Author: Kalynn Bayron

Publication Date: July 7, 2020

Publisher:  Bloomsbury YA

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

 

Those who follow my blog know that I love fairytale retellings, so it was a given that I would want to read Kalynn Barton’s feminist Cinderella retelling, Cinderella is Dead.  As the title states, Cinderella is long dead when this story opens but her story is being used by the King of Lille to control his young female citizens.  Girls are required to commit Cinderella’s tale to memory and they are taught that they should want a happy ending just like Cinderella’s.

There’s a cruel twist to the King’s version of the fairy tale, however.  Once they reach a certain age, the young ladies are required to attend the King’s annual ball.  They are to dress up in the finest gowns and present themselves to potential suitors, who are then charged with selecting a mate.  Girls who aren’t chosen are allowed to return to the ball twice more but then after that, their lives are deemed forfeit and they are never heard from again.  Being chosen isn’t necessarily a happily ever after either as the men in the kingdom view their wives as property and often beat and verbally abuse them.

Sophia, the protagonist, wants no part of this dystopian disaster. She’s not looking for a Prince Charming and in fact would much rather marry her childhood best friend, Erin.  She decides that she will not take part in this sick ritual and makes it her mission to not only escape from the King’s ball, but to also come back once she finds a way to bring the whole patriarchal system crashing down.  I really loved Sophia. She’s bright, fierce, independent, and she’s loyal.  She’s also not perfect, which makes her all the more likeable and relatable.  Once she makes her escape, she meets up with an unexpected member of the Resistance and that’s when the story really takes off and takes turn after unexpected turn to shake up the original Cinderella tale.

Sophia is definitely the shining star of this story, but what I loved most is just how unique and fresh the story is even though it uses so many elements from the original fairytale.  The author will have you questioning every aspect of the tale you thought you knew so well.  Were the stepsisters really evil?  Who was the fairy godmother?  Was Prince Charming all that charming after all?  What really happened to Cinderella?  Did she really have a happy ending?

Cinderella is Dead is a quick and entertaining read that I breezed through in less than a day.  If feminist retellings, queer protagonists, and smashing the patriarchy are your thing, then this is the book for you! 4 STARS.

Reviews: THE HEIR AFFAIR & NOT LIKE THE MOVIES

 

I hope everyone who was celebrating this weekend had a safe and fun 4th of July holiday.  I spent most of my holiday weekend reading so today I’m sharing reviews for a couple of fun contemporary reads that are coming out this week.  The Heir Affair and Not Like the Movies are the perfect reads to escape into this summer.

 

Reviews:  THE HEIR AFFAIR & NOT LIKE THE MOVIESThe Heir Affair (Royal We, #2) Goodreads

Author: Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

Publication Date: July 7, 2020

Publisher:  Grand Central Publishing

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

 

If you enjoy books about royalty or have ever fancied yourself marrying the future King of England, The Royal We series by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan needs to be on your must read list.  The Royal We, the first book in the series, follows American college student Rebecca Porter (Bex) and Prince Nicholas (Nick), the future King of Great Britain as they meet, fall in love, and navigate the many obstacles that stand in the way of Bex becoming a member of the Royal Family, while the newest novel in the series, The Heir Affair, picks up with Nick and Bex as a newly married couple starting out their lives together.

While I thoroughly enjoyed both of these books, what I really loved about The Heir Affair is that it really takes a deep dive into Nick and Bex’s relationship.  Some very dramatic events from the first book have really shaken them.  They need time to heal and regroup, and then they also need to work to try to reconcile with Nick’s brother, Freddie, as well as mend their reputations with respect to the people of Great Britain.  The authors do a wonderful job of making Bex and Nick’s relationship easy to relate to.  Even though they are royalty and many of their issues and challenges are royal problems that most of us can only imagine in our wildest dreams, many of the other challenges they face are normal, everyday couple issues.

Of course there are still plenty of humorous moments sprinkled throughout the book, particularly with respect to Bex’s relationship with the Queen and with Bex and Nick’s circle of friends from college who are always entertaining.  As much as Bex and Nick’s journey through married life and, in particular, their strained relationship with Freddie, tugged at my heartstrings, the humorous moments really balanced things out, as did some of the long-buried, juicy royal secrets that come to light and shake things up for everyone.

As much as I enjoyed The Royal We, I couldn’t have asked for a better sequel in The Heir Affair. Overall, a very satisfying read. 4 STARS

 

 

Reviews:  THE HEIR AFFAIR & NOT LIKE THE MOVIESNot Like the Movies (Waiting for Tom Hanks, #2) Goodreads

Author: Kerry Winfrey

Publication Date: July 7, 2020

Publisher:  Berkley Books

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

 

I went into Kerry Winfrey’s new novel, Not Like the Movies, hoping for a bit of light rom-com goodness, but I have to say that I fully underestimated this book because Not Like the Movies has turned out to be one of my favorite reads of the summer so far.  While yes, it has plenty of that rom-com goodness I was looking for, it also has so much more.

Chloe Sanderson is the protagonist of the story and I adored her and just found her so relatable. Chloe has a big heart, always going out of her way to do nice things for others.  She also has a lot on her plate, working as a waitress and baker at Nick’s Café, going to school to finish her business degree, and, most importantly, caring for her aging father who has Alzheimer’s.  Chloe’s life is further complicated when her best friend Annie, an up and coming filmmaker, writes a rom-com screenplay inspired by Chloe’s life and her romance with her boss, Nick.  There’s just one problem…Chloe and Nick are not in a relationship and never have been.

When Annie’s screenplay is actually picked up by a major studio, Chloe’s fictionalized life is suddenly everywhere and everyone thinks she and Nick are together. Awkward!  Things become even more awkward as Chloe starts to consider the possibility of dating her boss. She doesn’t have time for it with everything else on her plate and doesn’t even know if she believes in love, but Nick is kind of irresistible in a sexy, grumpy yet super sweet Luke Danes from Gilmore Girls kind of way. I loved Nick and Chloe’s chemistry and immediately became fully invested in the “Will they or won’t they?” pull of the story.

As much as I adored the rom-com aspect of Nick and Chloe’s evolving relationship, what really took Not Like the Movies to the next level for me was Chloe’s journey as she tries to balance everything she has going on in her life.  It’s an emotional one for her because she’s always so worried about caring for others, especially her Dad, and leaves her own self-care out of the equation.  Even though the journey is a struggle for her, I loved watching Chloe grow as a person, and I especially enjoyed watching her assert herself when it comes to her brother, who has conveniently stayed away and not pulled his weight when it comes to matters of their family.

There’s just so much to love about Not Like the Movies. I flew through it in a couple of sittings and even though I was completely satisfied with the ending, I was actually still just a little sad just because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Chloe and Nick yet.  If you’re in the mood for a story that features romance, family drama, and friendship, this is your book.  Oh and there’s pie too!  Lots of pie!  4.5 STARS

Mini Reviews: TAKE A HINT, DANI BROWN & I WAS TOLD IT WOULD GET EASIER

 

Today I’m sharing reviews of a couple of contemporary reads that are coming out in the next couple of weeks.  I adored both of these novels; they were just the perfect reads to distract me and help pass the time while stuck in quarantine because of the pandemic.

 

Mini Reviews:  TAKE A HINT, DANI BROWN & I WAS TOLD IT WOULD GET EASIERTake a Hint, Dani Brown (The Brown Sisters, #2) Goodreads

Author: Talia Hibbert

Publication Date: June 23, 2020

Publisher:  Avon

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

 

I wasn’t sure Talia Hibbert would be able to top Get a Life, Chloe Brown, but as much as I enjoyed that book, I fell head over heels in love with Take a Hint, Dani Brown.

Dani is a professor and is absolutely brilliant at most things…the one exception to that being love.  When it comes to matters of the heart, she is admittedly completely clueless and therefore just doesn’t even try anymore.  All she wants out of life is to be successful professionally and academically, and a friends-with-benefits relationship on the side to satisfy her physical needs.  When the universe places Zaf, a tall, dark, and handsome university security officer in her path, Dani thinks it must surely be a sign.

Zaf, however, has other ideas when it comes to love. An avid reader of romance novels, Zaf knows what he wants too and it’s all about romance and a happily ever after for him.  When a chance encounter between Zaf and Dani is captured on video and goes viral,  it’s game on, especially when both he and Dani realize their video is actually generating positive buzz and much-needed donations to Zaf’s sports charity for kids.  Dani agrees to pose as his girlfriend for a while to keep that positive press coming. Zaf is great with this arrangement at first, but finds his attraction to Dani growing with every encounter.   Can Zaf win Dani over to his way of thinking when it comes to love and romance?  Or can Dani persuade Zaf that her way is the way to go?

The main characters, Dani and Zaf were both so adorable. I just couldn’t get enough of them.  The chemistry and sexual tension between them is off the charts, and I just loved all of their flirty banter.  Dani is so outspoken when it comes to her thoughts on sex and it cracked me up because she could so easily fluster Zaf and leave him blushing.  I love the fake dating trope because it makes for such a fun storyline, but man was I rooting for these two to get together for real.  They were just so perfect for each other, and I devoured page after page eagerly waiting to see what would happen between them.

If you’re looking for a quick, fun and sexy read with a “Will they or won’t they?” vibe, definitely check out Take a Hint, Dani Brown. You won’t regret it!  4.5 STARS

 

Mini Reviews:  TAKE A HINT, DANI BROWN & I WAS TOLD IT WOULD GET EASIERI Was Told It Would Get Easier Goodreads

Author: Abbi Waxman

Publication Date: June 16, 2020

Publisher:  Berkley Books

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

 

I became a huge fan of Abbi Waxman’s writing and her sense of humor when I read The Bookish Life of Nina Hill last year, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of her latest book, I Was Told It Would Get Easier.

I fell in love with this book as soon as I started reading it and realized it was about a mother and daughter taking a road trip to visit colleges and especially as soon as I felt the tension between them.  I love those complicated relationship dynamics and couldn’t wait to dive in and learn more about what was going on with these two.  Jessica and her daughter Emily used to be very close, but as often happens when our children enter their teen years, things get a little more challenging, and in this case, mother and daughter have gradually grown apart.  Jessica is really hoping this college tour will give them a chance to bond; however, Emily doesn’t even know if she wants to go to college so she isn’t overly invested in the trip and doesn’t know how to tell her mom that college may not be for her.  Emily is also completely distracted by a potential scandal that seems to be unfolding at the private school she attends. This all makes for an even more strained mother-daughter dynamic as they embark on this trip.

While Jessica and Emily’s emotional journey is definitely at the heart of I Was Told It Would Get Easier, the novel is also filled with Waxman’s trademark humor, especially when it came to the actual college tours, which sometimes went completely off the rails in the most amusing ways.  The cast of secondary characters was very entertaining as well, filled with a nice mix of characters I loved and even a couple that I loved to hate, which is always fun.  I also enjoyed watching Emily and Jessica interact with other kids and their parents.  Waxman’s mix of heart and humor kept me turning the pages, as did the dramatic hints of some trouble brewing at Jessica’s workplace as well as that school scandal Emily seems to be obsessing over.

Abbi Waxman definitely has another winner on her hands with I Was Told It Would Get Easier.  I whole heartedly recommend it to anyone who enjoys heartwarming and humorous reads and stories that focus on mother-daughter relationships.  4.5 STARS

Mini Reviews: The “Slow Burn” Edition

 

Today I’m sharing reviews of some new and recent releases that are sure to please anyone who enjoys a fun and heartwarming read with a side of slow burn romance.

 

Mini Reviews:  The “Slow Burn” EditionReal Men Knit Goodreads

Author: Kwana Jackson

Publication Date: May 19, 2020

Publisher:  Berkley Books

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

 

Kwana Jackson’s new novel, Real Men Knit, is a heartwarming story about what happens when a prominent Harlem business owner, Mama Joy Strong, unexpectedly passes away and her four adoptive sons are left to determine what happens to Strong Knits, her beloved knitting shop.

I was drawn into this story right away because of Mama Joy.  Even though she’s deceased, Mama Joy is still such a major presence in the book. She’s the thread that ties everyone together and was clearly loved and respected by all who knew her. I also just loved that she chose to adopt not just one or two, but four (!) troubled boys who were in foster care and made them all into a family.  She just struck me as one of those people you instantly wish you had had the opportunity to meet because she was clearly a force of nature.

What surprised me about Real Men Knit is that I went into it expecting a romance based on the synopsis, but while the story does have a hint of romance, I would consider it more a story about family and about growing up.  One of the main characters is Jesse, one of Mama Joy’s sons.  Jesse is the butt of many a joke in the Strong household because 1) he has no real direction in life yet in terms of a career, and 2) because he has a reputation as a ladies’ man, specifically for moving from one woman to the next, leaving a trail of broken hearts in his wake.  The other thing about Jesse though is that he loved Mama Joy more than anything and it’s Jesse who is the driving force behind wanting to save Strong Knits and preserve his mama’s legacy.  He also wants to prove to his brothers that he’s not the screw up they think he is.  Jesse won me over right away, mainly because of his intense devotion to Mama Joy, and I was rooting for him to win his brothers over to the cause of saving Strong Knits.

The hint of romance comes in the form of Kerry Fuller, the other main character, who also grew up thinking of Strong Knits as her home away from home and Mama Joy as her second mom. Kerry is invested in saving the shop as well and agrees to help Jesse.  Sparks fly and there is definitely chemistry between them, but it’s a slow burn affair because Jesse has to get past thinking of Kerry as ‘Little Kerry’ that he grew up with, and Kerry has to get past Jesse’s reputation as the neighborhood heartbreaker.  It’s sweet watching the two of them come together to save the shop but I definitely would have preferred a little less of a slow burn.

Real Men Knit is a wonderful story about family and community, and yes, about love too.  If you’re in the mood for a heartwarming story that will put a smile on your face, look no further.

 

 

Mini Reviews:  The “Slow Burn” EditionSomething to Talk About Goodreads

Author: Meryl Wilsner

Publication Date: May 26, 2020

Publisher:  Berkley Books

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

 

Meryl Wilsner’s debut romance Something to Talk About was such a fun read for me.  It centers on Jo Jones, a showrunner for a popular TV series who is now looking to make her move to the big screen when she signs on to pen the script for the next installment in a hugely popular action series.  Hollywood being what it is, there are plenty of people lined up ready and waiting to gossip about how Jo’s not up for the job.  Jo is already tired of fielding questions about the new film and whether she’s the right person for the job, so when she has to attend a major award ceremony, she asks her trusted assistant Emma to accompany her and serve as a buffer to drive away the reporters.  An innocent moment between Jo and Emma is caught on camera and the rumor mill runs wild with it, declaring them a couple and trying to spin it into a scandal worthy of the tabloids.

We watch the story unfold from the alternating perspectives of Jo and Emma, and I thought this was very well done. I liked seeing how each woman reacted to the growing scandal, and, in particular, how worried they were for each other.  Would Jo be deemed as a predatory employer taking advantage of her assistant?  Or would Emma be seen as trying to sleep her way to the top?  Ever-present paparazzi and on-set leaks have both women on edge, second guessing their every interaction and who might be watching them. It makes for some very awkward moments between them, especially since the more closely they work together to make it look like they aren’t romantically involved, the more they begin to realize they actually do have feelings for one another.  I really liked both Jo and Emma so I was definitely cheering them on, both to beat back the rumor mongers and to take the leap to coupledom.

Something to Talk About is an entertaining read that also takes a hard look at some of the more toxic elements of working in show business.  I loved this aspect of the story, especially since it featured Jo kicking butt and taking names, reminiscent of today’s Me Too movement.  About the only real downside of the book for me was that it felt like the actual romance I was looking for and expecting took a back seat to everything else.  I don’t mind a slow burn romance at all, but I felt like I was nearly finished with the book before we really started to get a hint of any potential romance between Emma and Jo. If that had happened, just a little sooner, it would have been an even better read for me.  Even with that though, I would highly recommend Something to Talk About to anyone who enjoys women’s fiction and an inside look at Hollywood culture.

Book Reviews: April 2020 Releases That Will Make You Laugh and Cry

 

Today I’m sharing reviews of some new and recent releases that are sure to please anyone who enjoys emotional reads.  The Big Finish is a heartwarming and fun read that put a smile on my face, while You and Me and Us had me reaching for my tissues and doing the ugly cry.

 

Book Reviews:  April 2020 Releases That Will Make You Laugh and CryThe Big Finish Goodreads

Author: Brooke Fossey

Publication Date: April 14, 2020

Publisher:  Berkley

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

 

Brooke Fossey’s debut novel The Big Finish is an absolutely delightful story that follows a lovable cast of characters at an assisted living facility and the young woman who shows up unexpectedly and turns all of their lives upside down in the best way possible.  I’ll confess right now that I requested this book because I fell in love with the adorable cover as soon as I saw it.  I couldn’t resist the elderly man sitting on the back of the motorcycle waving his cane in the air.  That’s the promise of a hilarious read right there and thankfully I was not disappointed.

I got so much more than a humorous read though.  The Big Finish is a heartwarming story about family, friendship, love and loss. It centers around longtime roommates, Carl and Duffy.  Duffy is a bit of a curmudgeon, while Carl is a total sweetheart.  Even though they’re polar opposites, their friendship and living arrangements work seamlessly.  That is, until Josie, the granddaughter Carl has never met, comes climbing in their bedroom window in the middle of the night one night, with nothing but the clothes on her back, alcohol on her breath, and a black eye.  It’s clear Josie is in trouble and Duffy wants no part of it.  If she creates drama for them, their nasty landlord will surely give them a one-way ticket to the nearest nursing home and that is not how Duffy wants to live out his final days.  Duffy’s friendship with Carl means everything to him though so he reluctantly agrees to do whatever he can to help Carl get to know his granddaughter and to help her out of whatever toxic situation she is running from.  What starts out as a mission on the down-low soon draws in more and more of the home’s residents as they fall in love with Josie and want to help her.

I don’t want to say anything more about the plot because you just have to experience it for yourself, but I promise this is a cast of characters you will fall in love with, especially Duffy, who is nowhere near as grumpy and gruff as he would have you believe.  Duffy and Carl’s friendship is what really made the book such a special read for me and I also adored Duffy’s friendship with another resident, Alice.  He would clearly love for their relationship to be more than just friends and every scene with her brings out his softer side.  The Big Finish is one of those books I’d love to see made into a movie and was practically casting it in my mind the whole time I was reading it (with the cast of Grace and Frankie actually, haha).

If you’re looking for a fun and heartwarming read about friendship and the things we’re willing to do for our loved ones, you should definitely check out The Big Finish.

4 STARS

 

 

Book Reviews:  April 2020 Releases That Will Make You Laugh and CryYou and Me and Us Goodreads

Author: Alison Hammer

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

Publisher:  William Morrow

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

 

Alison Hammer’s new novel You and Me and Us is the heartbreaking story of what happens to a family when a diagnosis of terminal cancer turns their lives upside down.  Alexis and her teen daughter, CeCe, haven’t been close in years.  The ad agency Alexis founded keeps her so busy that she’s rarely ever around and has missed many of her daughter’s important milestones.  While Alexis and CeCe aren’t close, the opposite is true for CeCe and her dad, Tommy.  Tommy is CeCe’s rock and has been there for everything her mom has missed and then some.  Tommy is devoted to both Alexis and CeCe, and neither of them know what they would do without him.  When Tommy, who has been nursing a nagging cough for months, finally confesses to his girls that he has cancer and only has a few months to live, they are understandably devastated but are determined to make the most of every moment they have left with him.

Oh my gosh, guys, this book is such an emotional journey!  I loved that the author presents the story to us from the perspectives of both CeCe and Alexis.  I thought it gave a very full picture of what each of them was feeling at every step along the way – the sadness, the anger and frustration at the situation, CeCe’s resentment of her mother, Alexis’ sorrow at having missed out on so much of her daughter’s life (and Tommy’s for that matter).  The author also beautifully captured how fearful both Alexis and CeCe were of what life was going to be like once Tommy was gone.  Would Alexis finally make CeCe a priority?  Would CeCe actually let her mom back into her life?  I felt like the range of emotions they were experiencing were portrayed very realistically, which made the story all the more heartbreaking and engrossing.

As sad as the story is, it also has some beautiful and uplifting moments that really help to balance and round out the story.  I really did love watching Tommy interact with both CeCe and Alexis. He’s just such a wonderful guy and his bond with each of them was so special.  I also loved the secondary cast of characters – friends who are there for both CeCe and Alexis as they get closer and closer to the end of Tommy’s life.  I was also a huge fan of the ending, which although it had me in tears, it also left me with a smile on my face and hope in my heart. If books that pack an emotional punch are your thing, I highly recommend You and Me and Us4.5 STARS