Book Review: Very Sincerely Yours by Kerry Winfrey

Very Sincerely Yours

53924112._SY475_Title: Very Sincerely Yours
Author: Kerry Winfrey
Genre: Romance, Chick lit
Date of Publication: July 15, 2021
Publisher: Berkley 


Synopsis

A charming and heartwarming new romantic comedy by the acclaimed author of Waiting for Tom Hanks, Kerry Winfrey.

Teddy Phillips never thought she would still be spending every day surrounded by toys at almost thirty years old. But working at a vintage toy store is pretty much all she has going on in her life after being unceremoniously dumped by her longtime boyfriend. The one joy that she has kept is her not-so-guilty pleasure: Everett’s Place, a local children’s show hosted by Everett St. James, a man whom Teddy finds very soothing . . . and, okay, cute.

Teddy finds the courage to write to him, feeling slightly like one of the children who write to him on his show. He always gives sound advice and seems like he has everything figured out—and he pretty much does: Everett has a great support system, wonderful friends, and his dream job. But there is still that persistent feeling in the back of his mind that something is missing.

When a woman named Theodora starts writing to Everett, he is drawn to her honesty and vulnerability. They continue writing to each other, all the while living their lives without meeting. When their worlds collide, however, they must both let go of their fears and figure out what they truly want—and if the future they want includes each other.

Goodreads

My Thoughts

Teddy is an interesting heroine in the sense that she is not at all interesting. She changed her entire personality for her boyfriend, and now that he’s broken up with her, she has to figure out who she is and what she wants to do with the rest of her life. The novel follows Teddy as she gradually becomes the woman she’s meant to be. Her best friends Kirsten and Eleanor take her in and help her on this journey. They insist that she does one thing a day that terrifies her. This is to get her out of her shell and hopefully shed the fears that keep her from truly living her life. Of course, one of the things she does that scares her is write to a certain handsome host of a children’s TV show.

Everett St. James is an incredibly sweet character.  He’s good-looking, thoughtful, funny, smart, and he’s always known what he wanted to do with his life. But he isn’t quite perfect. His friends and family are constantly telling him that he spends too much of his life engrossed in his work. There’s more to life than puppets, Everett. 

I loved how Everett and Teddy complemented each other in their personal character arcs. Teddy is just now trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life. Everett has known his career trajectory since he was a child, but he’s being forced to take a step back and reassess what truly matters.  

Continue reading “Book Review: Very Sincerely Yours by Kerry Winfrey”

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Book Review: Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez

Life's Too Short

54377375._SY475_Title: Life’s Too Short
Author:
Abby Jimenez
Genre: Romance
Date of Publication: April 6, 2021
Publisher: Forever (Grand Central Publishing)


Synopsis

A brilliant and touching romantic comedy from the USA Today bestselling author of The Friend Zone and The Happy Ever After Playlist.

Vanessa lives life on her own terms — one day at a time, every day to its fullest. She isn’t willing to waste a moment or miss out on an experience when she has no idea whether she shares the same fatal genetic condition as her mother. Besides, she has way too much to do, traveling the globe and showing her millions of YouTube followers the joy in seizing every moment.

But after her half-sister suddenly leaves Vanessa in custody of her infant daughter, she is housebound, on mommy duty for the foreseeable future, and feeling totally out of her element.

The last person she expects to show up offering help is the unbelievably hot lawyer who lives next door, Adrian Copeland. After all, she barely knows him. But as they get closer, Vanessa realizes that her carefree ways and his need for a structured plan could never be compatible for the long term. Then again, she should know better than anyone that life’s too short to fear taking the biggest risk of all. . . 

Goodreads

My Thoughts

This third book by Abby Jimenez is her best yet! Somehow, her novels keep getting better and better.  Abby Jimenez has a way with words that’s unlike any other author. The way that she can depict such deep topics in a light way that in no way diminishes the message is quite refreshing. This book had me laughing and crying, and I think I even learned a few things about living life while reading this book. Not bad for a beach read.  

I was rooting for Adrian and Vanessa right from the moment they first laid eyes on each other. They’re exactly what the doctor ordered for each other. Adrian needs adventure, and Vanessa needs stability. They’re two halves of the same coin, and despite all their differences, they fit in with each other perfectly. 

I cannot express enough how much I loved this book. The pacing is perfect. The characters are so well fleshed out, but it never felt like I was getting too much information. There are humorous parts and heartbreaking parts. Even the side characters are well developed, quirky, and lovable. 

The novel opens with the definition of “Clickbait”. It seems odd to open this book with that definition, but I later realized that this is a theme of the novel. Without revealing spoilers, there’s a moment near the end of the book where this theme reached out from the book and smacked me in the head, and I realized just how incredibly intelligent this book truly is. In addition to the overall theme, each chapter opens with a “clickbait” headline, which fits in with how Vanessa is a YouTube star documenting her life. These headlines are clever and funny and tease about what’s to come in the upcoming chapter. I rarely enjoy quotes or other types of excerpts at the beginning of chapters because I find that they tend to distract from the narrative. In this case, they were brief enough and added to the humorous outlook of the entire novel that I loved them.

This is the third book in the Friend Zone series, and we do get a cameo of the couples from the first two books, including the return of some inside jokes that made me feel nostalgic. The end of the book features discussion questions for book clubs, though I would have liked to have seen them dig a little deeper, given that this book is a complex and thought-provoking read.

I recommend this book to those who don’t mind a few tears with their laughs, and for those who want to read a more profound romantic comedy. 

*Thank you to the publisher, the author, and Netgalley for the ebook to review*

Five stars

Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: Colony by Benjamin Cross

Colony

Book coverTitle: Colony
Author:
Benjamin Cross
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Date of Publication: January 28, 2021
Publisher: The Book Guild Ltd.


Synopsis

Harmsworth.

A remote, mist-shrouded island in the Russian Arctic.

Archaeology Professor Callum Ross makes the discovery of a lifetime: a prehistoric ice mummy preserved for thousands of years by the sub-zero temperatures. Only, they didn’t die of natural causes…

As Callum races to unravel the mystery of the mutilated corpse, others race to sabotage the expedition, and he and his team are left stranded on the island. And they are not alone. Someone, or something, relentless is stalking them.

As the arctic mist descends and the death toll rises, the team is thrust into a nightmare fight for survival, involving submarines, cyber warfare and Spetsnaz. But none of this can prepare them for the real terror that survives deep within the island’s heart: a secret so ancient it’s been overlooked by time itself.

COLONY is an edge-of-your seat action thriller that will appeal to fans of Clive Cussler, James Rollins and Michael Crichton.

Goodreads

My Thoughts

Colony is the ultimate genre-blender for fans of books by James Rollins and Michael Crichton.  It’s a compulsively readable science fiction thriller/horror, with hints of espionage and an undercurrent of romance. It’s a smart read that doesn’t dumb things down for its readers, and there’s something in this book for everyone.

Callum Ross is a captivating protagonist that has multiple layers that we peel back as the book progresses. We’re first introduced to him when he’s on a day trip with his son at Loch Ness. He’s making promises to spend more time with him, because ever since his divorce he’s realized that his work-centred life might not be what’s best for him or his family. Of course, more family time just isn’t in the cards, because he’s immediately called to the Arctic to take a job. Callum is intelligent and witty–even in the face of danger. He’s constantly thinking of his son, even when he’s thousands of miles away from him. He’s adorably obsessed with his work, but also able to take a step back to show interest in what others are doing. 

The rest of the cast of characters in this book are also quite compelling. The environmental assessment team has brought together geologists, biologists, archaeologists, paleontologists… all to evaluate the region before the natural gas company moves in. The team is diverse in where they come from, too, including those from the US, Scotland, Russia, Norway, and even Canada (represent!).  Among them is a beautiful Russian woman who just so happens to catch Callum’s eye.  The characters each have an interesting dynamic, and of course, some of them have ulterior motives. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll stop there!

The book is chock-full of little bits of science and history, including some lore and interesting tidbits of information that sated my curiosity. For instance, the narwhal tusk is part of what created the myth of the unicorn. I fact checked this (being a librarian I just had to before including it in my review), and according to Encyclopedia Britannica, “unicorn” horns were either narwhal tusks or rhinoceros horns. Interesting! The entire time I also felt like I was brushing up on the biology courses I took in undergrad, but in the most fun way possible.

While the chapters are long, they’re divided into short sections. This had the effect of making me think “Just one more!”, resulting in my reading far past my bedtime. That said, a few of the scenes felt like they were repetitive or a little longer than they needed to be. Even then, the repetition added to the suspense.

This novel is gory at times, verging on horror, and there are parts that reminded me of other isolation horror/thrillers, like John Carpenter’s “The Thing”.  While this book has scenes that aren’t for the faint of heart, it isn’t an outright horror. 

Colony

Colony is recommended to anyone who enjoys an intelligent book where espionage meets science and history.

*Thank you to Blackthorn Book Tours and the author for the ebook to review*

Blackthorn book tours b

Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: The Lost Village by Camilla Sten

The Lost Village book photo

Book cover

Title: The Lost Village
Author:
Camilla Sten
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Date of Publication: March 23, 2021
Publisher: Minotaur Books


Synopsis

The Blair Witch Project meets Midsommar in this brilliantly disturbing thriller from Camilla Sten, an electrifying new voice in suspense.

Documentary filmmaker Alice Lindstedt has been obsessed with the vanishing residents of the old mining town, dubbed “The Lost Village,” since she was a little girl. In 1959, her grandmother’s entire family disappeared in this mysterious tragedy, and ever since, the unanswered questions surrounding the only two people who were left—a woman stoned to death in the town center and an abandoned newborn—have plagued her. She’s gathered a small crew of friends in the remote village to make a film about what really happened.

But there will be no turning back.

Not long after they’ve set up camp, mysterious things begin to happen. Equipment is destroyed. People go missing. As doubt breeds fear and their very minds begin to crack, one thing becomes startlingly clear to Alice:

They are not alone.

They’re looking for the truth…
But what if it finds them first?

Goodreads

My Thoughts

This book caught my attention right away and didn’t let go until I turned the past page. The novel opens with a spooky–yet brief–prologue that describes those who found the abandoned town back in 1959. Right after that, there’s an invitation for the reader to become a backer for a documentary on this mysterious “lost village”. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to partially fund this project (like with Kickstarter) and earn supporter rewards in return. This epistolary style returns throughout the book, as we’re treated to letters that Alice’s great-aunt wrote to her grandmother in the months leading up to the mysterious disappearance of an entire town. 

This book is atmospheric and chilling. The author has a haunting prose that made even the most ordinary and normally simple things seem suspicious and eerie. When the blurb compared this book to the Blair Witch Project meets Midsommar, I was a little wary, but these comparators are entirely accurate. Even during the first of their five day stay in the town, there are creepy occurrences which might be supernatural in origin or signs that things aren’t as they appear with her crew.  Or, they might just be easily explained away as coincidence or Alice’s overactive imagination.

The crew is small and full of relatable, interesting characters. Alice had to hire her former best friend, Emmy, as director, but they had a falling out back when they were still in college. Tensions are high between those two and everyone else, especially as things start to go south.

In addition to the letters, there are two timelines in the novel. “Now” features the film crew that’s shown up at Silvertjarn to get preliminary footage to show to backers to hopefully get the support they need for this documentary. 

There’s also a “Then” timeline, which follows Alice’s great-grandmother, Elsa, in the months leading up to the mass disappearance. Unfortunately, this is where the book fell a little flat to me. While the present day events are rife with foreboding, this tension didn’t quite carry through in the past timeline. Quite a few of the excerpts felt like filler. They were quite short, and they didn’t serve much more than to provide a little backstory about the town and to set the stage for what might happen. It felt like the author didn’t need both the “Then” timeline and the letters, and it might have worked better if she had chosen one and gone a little deeper with it. I also can’t help but wonder if the “Then” chapters were longer, maybe I would have become more invested in what was to come for Elsa, and maybe there could have been more characters as red herrings to make the story less linear and the twist about what happened to the town a little more surprising.

That said, the present day twists prior to the final twist were quite good. I was shocked a few times by the events that took place. Unfortunately (I’ve said that word a couple of times in this review, unf–sadly), the final twist required a little too much suspension of disbelief. I had so many questions, many of which were somewhat answered, but not well enough for my liking.

I’m giving this book 4 stars, because while I had some issues with the past timeline and the final twist, it was extremely well written, the characters were relatable, and the story itself was quite clever.

The Lost Village book photo

I recommend this book to those who love a fast-paced, spooky thriller that has a compelling and clever plot. 

*Thank you to the publisher, the author, and Netgalley for the ebook to review*

Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: Namesake by Adrienne Young

Namesake book photo

Book coverTitle: Namesake
Author: Adrienne Young
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: Fable #2
Date of Publication: March 16, 2021
Publisher: Wednesday Books


Synopsis

Trader. Fighter. Survivor.

With the Marigold ship free of her father, Fable and its crew were set to start over. That freedom is short-lived when she becomes a pawn in a notorious thug’s scheme. In order to get to her intended destination she must help him to secure a partnership with Holland, a powerful gem trader who is more than she seems.

As Fable descends deeper into a world of betrayal and deception she learns that her mother was keeping secrets, and those secrets are now putting the people Fable cares about in danger. If Fable is going to save them then she must risk everything, including the boy she loves and the home she has finally found.

Filled with action, emotion, and lyrical writing, New York Times bestselling author Adrienne Young returns with Namesake, the final book in the captivating Fable duology. Goodreads

My Thoughts

Namesake picks up right where Fable left off. If you haven’t read Fable yet, you can still read this review! I tried my best not to include any spoilers from the first book in this duology.

Adrienne Young has once again captivated me with her incredible writing style and the magical world that she has created. I fell in love with the Narrows, Ceros, and the ship, the Marigold, when I first read Fable last year. I reread it just before reading this book, and it was just as much of a transcendent experience as it was the first time. (Nope I’m not exaggerating when I say “transcendent”.)  All the little seeds that were planted in the first book blossomed into a complex and engaging plot in this final instalment in the series. Because these plot twists were so well-established early on, some of them were somewhat predictable, but that in no way affected my enjoyment of them. Enough of the story was a delightful surprise that I didn’t mind the expected elements that cropped up from time to time. These just served to make the world and characters that Young has created feel more credible, as everything that happened was logical and made perfect sense given what was going on.

For a book that’s so action-packed, there is quite a bit of character development, not just for Fable, but for everyone else in the story.  Quite a few of the secondary characters have their own arcs in this book.  We also get to know some characters who were only briefly mentioned or who didn’t have a major role in the first book. Many friends and foes aren’t quite what they initially appeared to be.  We follow Fable as she grows and develops into a young woman, and we realize alongside her that there is so much motivating people and shaping them into who they are. We get to experience the revelation of secret pasts and the discovery of some characters’ ulterior motives. Loyalties are tested and tensions rise high among the crew of the Marigold as drama unfolds. We get to see even more of West as Fable gets to know him even better. Their romance is sweet and powerful, and I’m impressed that Young was able to skirt around their physical relationship to make older readers happy, while keeping the heat rating below a PG-13. 

The reason why this book was called “Namesake” isn’t immediately apparent, not like with Young’s other three published books to date. I won’t spoil the reason why the book is called this, but once it becomes clear, it’s a real “Aha!” moment that gave me chills in how beautifully it played out. 

Namesake book photo

I recommend this book to those who love a whimsical, dark but never too dark, young adult epic-fantasy with just a little magic, some romance, and plenty of adventure.

*Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for the e-arc to review!*

starstarstarstarstar

Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan

The intimacy experiment book photo

The Intimacy Experiment bok coverTitle: The Intimacy Experiment
Author: Rosie Danan
Series: The Roommate #2 
Genre: Romantic Comedy, Chick lit
Date of Publication: April 6, 2021
Publisher: Berkley Books


Synopsis

Naomi and Ethan will test the boundaries of love in this provocative romance from the author of the ground-breaking debut, The Roommate.

Naomi Grant has built her life around going against the grain. After the sex-positive start-up she cofounded becomes an international sensation, she wants to extend her educational platform to live lecturing. Unfortunately, despite her long list of qualifications, higher ed won’t hire her.

Ethan Cohen has recently received two honors: LA Mag named him one of the city’s hottest bachelors and he became rabbi of his own synagogue. Taking a gamble in an effort to attract more millennials to the faith, the executive board hired Ethan because of his nontraditional background. Unfortunately, his shul is low on both funds and congregants. The board gives him three months to turn things around or else they’ll close the doors of his synagogue for good.

Naomi and Ethan join forces to host a buzzy seminar series on Modern Intimacy, the perfect solution to their problems–until they discover a new one–their growing attraction to each other. They’ve built the syllabus for love’s latest experiment, but neither of them expected they’d be the ones putting it to the test. 

Goodreads

My Thoughts

What happens when a former porn star turned CEO and a rabbi meet at a conference? You get a delightful, insightful, and compulsively readable romance novel.

The premise of this novel sounds like a bad joke. But somehow, it works so incredibly well.  While I liked the debut novel by Rosie Danan, which features Josh and Clara finding love, this book swept me off my feet. It’s clever and sweet. It deals with themes of faith and love and how the two mesh. This book had me inspired, and there were multiple epic speeches given over the course of this novel that were both heartfelt and intelligent.

Rabbi Ethan Cohen is a former high school physics teacher turned rabbi. He often talks about religion and his faith, but it never feels over-the-top or preachy. Naomi has a beautiful character arc over the course of the novel. She’s always been hard, because she knows that if she has a tough exterior then people’s opinions of her won’t matter. We’re introduced to what happened in high school to make her this way. As she gets to know Ethan and falls for him, this tough exterior begins to flake away, revealing the woman underneath.  There’s a hint of irony to the story, because Naomi is teaching a seminar series about modern intimacy, yet she’s never been in a truly serious relationship. She treated the last person she loved poorly because she was afraid of what “forever” could mean for them. However, Naomi has an advanced degree, and she’s continuing her education, and she addresses the gap between theory and practice in her lectures. Naomi is also rediscovering her faith, but like with Ethan’s plotline, it doesn’t feel preachy. This is something she’s doing for herself, not because it’s something that she feels like she has to do.

Once Ethan and Naomi decide to give their burgeoning attraction a chance, the reason why this book is called The Intimacy Experiment becomes apparent. They decide to go through each of Naomi’s lectures themselves as they move forward in their relationship. While the title makes sense, I do think it could have been called something a little different, as the title had given me nutty professor vibes, and from the title alone I expected it to be similar to that series by Helen Hoang (the first book beingThe Kiss Quotient). I think maybe the book should have tied the religious roots of the book into the title, demonstrating right off the bat just how unique this premise is.

The romance overall is quite cleverly done, reintroducing plot points from earlier in the story later on, and wrapping everything up perfectly with a little bow on top.  The recurring theme of religion and modern love made this book stand out as a unique, fresh, and incredibly deep take on what chick lit can be. 

*Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley for the ebook to review*

Five stars

Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: Dark Days by D.W. Saur

Dark Days book photo

54520793._SY475_Title: Dark Days
Author:
D.W. Saur
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: The Covenant Saga #1
Date of Publication: October 20, 2020
Publisher: Koehler Books


Synopsis

“A chosen one can come not only during dark times, but also on the brink of them.” The dark times about to grace Sori are marked by a mysterious, ghost-like figure who begins to upset the balance the land has come to enjoy, manipulating members of the Galenvarg and Veirlintu sects into rebellion against the Duine. But hope for peace is not lost; the goddess Nantosuelta has selected her chosen one, a Leigheasan named Maya.

Maya is independent, curious, a skilled hunter, and a master smith, and unique among her kind in her connection to the land. But, sensing that she has an unrevealed purpose, she has yet to undertake her clan’s rite of passage, and isolates herself from her peers. With Nantosuelta’s blessing, Maya begins her quest to find her powers, prevent war, and establish herself as leader among the Leigheasan. But can she rally the clans in time to confront the dark days ahead? 

Goodreads

My Thoughts

Dark Days is an action-packed, young adult fantasy that has just the right amount of medieval-era political intrigue.

This is the first instalment in the Covenant series, and Saur has set the stage for a compelling saga. The book has intricate worldbuilding, and the way that magic works is both complex and fascinating.  Dark Days introduces a richly crafted history and mythology, and there are many little seeds of the way that magic works that I suspect will continue to grow throughout the series.

Continue reading “Book Review: Dark Days by D.W. Saur”

Book Review: The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Book photo ex talk

cover199969-medium

Title: The Ex Talk
Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon
Genre: Romantic Comedy, Chick lit
Date of Publication: January 26, 2021
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group


Synopsis

Public radio co-hosts navigate mixed signals in Rachel Lynn Solomon’s sparkling romantic comedy debut.

Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can’t imagine working anywhere else. But lately it’s been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who’s fresh off a journalism master’s program and convinced he knows everything about public radio.

When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other. Neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, but it’s this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it’s not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts.

As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers. 

Goodreads

My Thoughts

The Ex Talk is a humorous romance novel, chock full of sardonic quips and funny imagery, the latter of which never was too much or at the expense of moving the plot forward. The entire book is from Shay’s point of view, but we’re treated to the occasional transcript from their radio show. These transcripts are just long enough to give us a sense of what their readers hear–since they’re not diluted with Shay’s inner thoughts–and they’re just long enough to give us a sense of the humor and chemistry between the two co-hosts. These transcripts left me wanting more and wishing that this were a real radio show/podcast that I could subscribe to.  The author is a huge fan of public radio, and it really shows in the mere passion of the words on the page. 

Dominic and Shay have a lot of chemistry right off the bat. Since the book is from Shay’s POV, so I can’t speak to Dominic’s first impressions, but it’s clear that he immediately rubs her the wrong way. He brings up his master’s degree every chance he gets, and he can be very stubborn about his opinions, disregarding the years of experience of those around him. All this is exacerbated by the sexist tendencies of their boss, who seems to respect Dominic’s opinions over someone who’s worked for him for ten years.  On the other hand, Shay is also far from perfect. She can be inflexible and she’s self-conscious about her non-traditional radio voice. As Dominic and Shay get to know each other better–they have to if they’re going to pretend to have dated–it becomes clear that they have a lot in common, and they might not be as incompatible as they previously thought.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon”

Book Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game

The Hating Game

Title:The Hating Game
Author: Sally Thorne
Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction
Date of Publication: August 9, 2016
Publisher:
William Morrow Paperbacks


Synopsis

Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.

2) A person’s undoing

3) Joshua Templeman

Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.

Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.

If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth-shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.

Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.Goodreads

My Thoughts

The beauty of this novel is in the simplicity of the plot. I described the story to my mother, and she said it sounded like a Hallmark movie.  But this is nothing like a Hallmark movie. 

Almost all of the focus of this novel is on Lucy and Joshua and the ridiculous hatred that they harbour for each other.  Ordinarily, I prefer books that have more backstory for the characters, and we do get to learn more about their personal lives, but not until later in the book.  In The Hating Game, this strategy worked. I was heavily invested in what would happen between these two arch-nemeses within a couple of chapters, which is rare for me!

Continue reading “Book Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne”

Book Review: A Pho Love Story by Loan Le

Book photo

cover smallTitle: A Pho Love Story
Author: Loan Le
Genre: Romance, Young Adult
Date of Publication: February 9, 2021
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada


Synopsis

If Bao Nguyen had to describe himself, he’d say he was a rock. Steady and strong, but not particularly interesting. His grades are average, his social status unremarkable. He works at his parents’ pho restaurant, and even there, he is his parents’ fifth favorite employee. Not ideal.

If Linh Mai had to describe herself, she’d say she was a firecracker. Stable when unlit, but full of potential for joy and fire. She loves art and dreams pursuing a career in it. The only problem? Her parents rely on her in ways they’re not willing to admit, including working practically full-time at her family’s pho restaurant.

For years, the Mais and the Nguyens have been at odds, having owned competing, neighboring pho restaurants. Bao and Linh, who’ve avoided each other for most of their lives, both suspect that the feud stems from feelings much deeper than friendly competition.

But then a chance encounter brings Linh and Bao in the same vicinity despite their best efforts and sparks fly, leading them both to wonder what took so long for them to connect. But then, of course, they immediately remember.

Can Linh and Bao find love in the midst of feuding families and complicated histories?

When Dimple Met Rishi meets Ugly Delicious in this funny, smart romantic comedy, in which two Vietnamese-American teens fall in love and must navigate their newfound relationship amid their families’ age-old feud about their competing, neighboring restaurants.

Goodreads

My Thoughts

A Pho Love Story is the epitome of sweet young adult romance. A modern-day, diverse Romeo and Juliet, but without the tragic demises of the titular characters (Hope a spoiler alert wasn’t needed there!). Bao has a dry, sarcastic wit that comes out particularly when dealing with his parents and the rumor-mill surrounding the restaurants, and the narrative made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. 

One of the major draws for this book (for me, anyway) is the Vietnamese characters. I love when books like these share foreign-language expressions, little pieces of culture peppered throughout, and this book doesn’t disappoint.  It gives the novel and the world that Le has created an authentic and three-dimensional feel to it.

Bao and Linh both come from similar backgrounds. Their parents are immigrants from Vietnam, and they own restaurants across the street from one another. Oh, and they’re arch-nemeses. At times their rivalry is humorous, but it’s also serious, hinting at a mysterious history between the families that neither Bao nor Linh are privy to. All they know is that their families hate each other, and that they’re not to engage with each other. Ever. 

Continue reading “Book Review: A Pho Love Story by Loan Le”