Posts Categorized: Review

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Mini Reviews: Adult Contemporary Romance Edition

Posted by 2 Comments

Why so many mini reviews, you ask? I’ve had a lot on my plate this month as well as way more review copies than anticipated so I thought this was a good way for me to stay on track.

40104346The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient #2)
Helen Hoang

GOODREADS | PURCHASE

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

After falling in love with The Kiss Quotient last year, I dove into the The Bride Test with high expectations and while I didn’t love it nearly as much as The Kiss Quotient, Hoang has yet to disappoint me.

I think anyone who has read The Kiss Quotient won’t be surprised to hear that the romance is both incredibly soft and also v. steamy. Khai and Esme are a great fit and it was a delight watching them figure out their relationship and each other.

My biggest issue with the book was that there seemed to be a lot of plot holes as well as some misinformation regarding how visas work. I also wished that Esme got to be as grounded by her family (even if they were in a country) as much as Khai got to be. It almost felt like her family ceased to exist as soon as she met Khai.

Having said that, The Kiss Quotient is still absolutely worth the read and Khai & Esme definitely won my heart.

 

Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors (The Rajes #1) 41154302
Sonali Dev

GOODREADS | PURCHASE

It is a truth universally acknowledged that only in an overachieving Indian American family can a genius daughter be considered a black sheep.

Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco’s most acclaimed neurosurgeon. But that’s not enough for the Rajes, her influential immigrant family who’s achieved power by making its own non-negotiable rules:

  • Never trust an outsider
  • Never do anything to jeopardize your brother’s political aspirations
  • And never, ever, defy your family

Trisha is guilty of breaking all three rules. But now she has a chance to redeem herself. So long as she doesn’t repeat old mistakes.

Up-and-coming chef DJ Caine has known people like Trisha before, people who judge him by his rough beginnings and place pedigree above character. He needs the lucrative job the Rajes offer, but he values his pride too much to indulge Trisha’s arrogance. And then he discovers that she’s the only surgeon who can save his sister’s life.

As the two clash, their assumptions crumble like the spun sugar on one of DJ’s stunning desserts. But before a future can be savored there’s a past to be reckoned with…

A family trying to build home in a new land.

A man who has never felt at home anywhere.

And a choice to be made between the two.

I am guessing many readers will be curious about this book just based on the fact that it is a P&P retelling and if you’re here looking for a story about where a rich white man falls in love with a poor white girl, you should probably go elsewhere. If you’re here looking for a very thoughtfully crafted retelling that takes the heart of Pride & Prejudice and pays homage to it in a very unique retelling, you need Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors in your life.

Trisha and DJ Caine go together like oil and water. They have vastly different upbringings, interests, jobs and lives. He thinks she is a snob but it turns out.. She is also the only doctor who is willing and able to save his sister’s life.

Trisha isn’t entirely sure why DJ hates her so much but is forced to work on catering and planning an event with him while her sister is on bed rest.

Over the course of two weeks, lives change and they slowly realize (OBVIOUSLY) that there is more to the other than their first impressions indicated. This gender-swapped retelling of Pride & Prejudice really does take the best scenes and moments from the book and bring them to life in this food and family filled retelling.

 

40539141The Key To Happily Ever After
Tif Marcelo

GOODREADS | PURCHASE

A charming romantic comedy about three sisters who are struggling to keep the family wedding planning business afloat—all the while trying to write their own happily-ever-afters in the process. 

All’s fair in love and business.

The de la Rosa family and their wedding planning business have been creating happily ever afters in the Washington, DC area for years, making even the most difficult bride’s day a fairytale. But when their parents announce their retirement, the sisters—Marisol, Janelyn, and Pearl—are determined to take over the business themselves.

But the sisters quickly discover that the wedding business isn’t all rings and roses. There are brides whose moods can change at the drop of a hat; grooms who want to control every part of the process; and couples who argue until their big day. As emotions run high, the de la Rosa sisters quickly realize one thing: even when disaster strikes—whether it’s a wardrobe malfunction or a snowmageddon in the middle of a spring wedding—they’ll always have each other.

Perfect for fans of the witty and engaging novels of Amy E. Reichert and Susan Mallery, The Key to Happily Ever After is a fresh romantic comedy that celebrates the crucial and profound power of sisterhood. 

The Key To Happily Ever After is probably not the kind of romance people will expect because family is at the forefront of this book, but nevertheless, it is absolutely delightful and I loved spending time with the de la Rosa sisters.

With their parents retired and the family wedding planning business finally theirs, the de la Rosa sisters have a lot on their plate. But when Pearl and Marisol cannot stop clashing about their ideas for the business, things start unraveling. This isn’t helped by Jane’s discovery that their parents might not have been the best with the financials and their family business isn’t as safe as they thought it was.

Together the de la Rosa sisters must work to figure out their place in the world and within their family, all the while trying to save the family business.

The Key To Happily Ever After is honestly such a breath of fresh air. I love how complex the familial relationships are while the romances are much more straightforward and sweet. I also love that this book empowers the main characters to find their HEAs by putting themselves and their interests first and their romances second. I love this book so much and I honestly, I would not mind seeing it adapted for the big screen.

 

Red, White and Royal Blue 41150487
Casey McQuiston

GOODREADS | PURCHASE

A big-hearted romantic comedy in which First Son Alex falls in love with Prince Henry of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends…

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him. 

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?

This is the new adult romance of the year and the one book no one seems to be able to stop talking about. I know why now. Obviously, this book is a romance but the reason it stuck with me is because of all the political stuff??

Red, White and Royal Blue is set in an AU where a woman won the 2016 US presidential elections. There is no doubt that this book is a romance and yet McQuiston pays so so so much attention to detail with the political stuff. Every little detail seems deliberate in designing a world we all very much wish we could live in.

Please don’t take my obsession with the political aspects of this book to mean that the romance is not incredibly well written and swoon-worthy. There is so much fun banter and just really great chemistry b/w Alex and Henry.

Anyway, all the kids are great and I have many many feelings about this wonderful book. Believe the hype because Red, White and Royal Blue is fucking worth the read.

 

42202094Passion on Park Avenue (Central Park Pact #1)
Lauren Layne

GOODREADS | PURCHASE

For as long as she can remember, Bronx-born Naomi Powell has had one goal: to prove her worth among the Upper East Side elite—the same people for which her mom worked as a housekeeper. Now, as the strongminded, sassy CEO of one of the biggest jewelry empires in the country, Naomi finally has exactly what she wants—but it’s going to take more than just the right address to make Manhattan’s upper class stop treating her like an outsider.

The worst offender is her new neighbor, Oliver Cunningham—the grown son of the very family Naomi’s mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he’s tormenting her in entirely different ways. Now they find themselves engaged in a battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them…

Filled with charm and heart and plenty of sex and snark, this entertaining series will hook you from the very first page. 

Lauren Layne is one of those authors I can reliably count on to deliver a romance I will read and enjoy thoroughly. I’ve come to expect steam and banter from her and while Passion on Park Avenue definitely has some great chemistry b/w the MCs, its soft in a way no book I’ve read by her is.

Instead of characters who are constantly clashing and fighting their attraction, we have characters who are fighting their attraction but also very nice to each other.

When Naomi shows up at 517 Park Avenue, the very place she was kicked out of two decades ago, she isn’t really sure what to expect. Part of her wants revenge against the family that ruined her life and the other part of her just wants closure.

The Cunninghams are not who she remembers them to be- after all, a lot can happen in two decades. Soon she is sucked into their lives and finds herself not really wanting to leave. It’s too late for revenge but it’s not too late for Naomi to finally have the HEA she deserves.

Passion on Park Avenue didn’t truly blow me away but Oliver and Naomi are great characters and I really enjoyed watching them figure out and deal with their attraction to one another. Everything is just SO SOFT.

Mini Reviews: YA Contemporary Romance edition

Mini Reviews: YA Contemporary Romance edition

Posted by on 05/10/2019 • 0 Comments

 

With the Fire on High Elizabeth Acevedo

GOODREADS | PURCHASE

From the New York Times bestselling author of the National Book Award longlist title The Poet X comes a dazzling novel in prose about a girl with talent, pride, and a drive to feed the soul that keeps her fire burning bright.

Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.

Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth…

Relevant, Funny and Swoony: A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole

Relevant, Funny and Swoony: A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole

Posted by on 04/30/2019 • 1 Comment

Idk how its possible but each book in this series has been as good as or better than the previous one and I am just truly in awe of Cole’s talent. I’ve been reading romance for a while now and I truly feel that Cole is changing the landscape of romance literature. Not only is A Prince on Paper unbelievably swoony and adorable, it also takes on really big and relevant things. It isn’t afraid to dissect racism and call out colonialism, we see fake news and propaganda make an appearance and we also see our MC deal with emotional and mental abuse from a parent.

When Nya’s father is arrested and sent to prison for attempting to poison Naledi, she can finally start living her life. She runs…

Soft but Important: Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali

Soft but Important: Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali

Posted by on 04/19/2019 • 3 Comments

I am almost 22 and can safely say I am not the intended audience for YA novels these days but, reading Love From A To Z made me feel like a teen again and soothed my soul in a way a contemporary novel hasn’t in a while. I was transported back to 2010 when I read Does My Head Look Big in This and felt seen by the MC who was struggling with her identity in a world that hated her.

Zayneb is not a nice girl. She is angry. She is angry at the injustice in the world and she is angry at the injustice she experiences every day in her classroom. She is tired of always feeling like she needs to be ashamed of who she is….

Review: Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

Review: Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

Posted by on 04/17/2019 • 4 Comments

This one messes with your head, guys! I love psychological thrillers, and this had me totally creeped out from very early on. It also had me puzzled with the mystery of the fairy-tale-like storyline. With each new chapter we’re given a new layer of this mystery that makes absolutely no logical sense, but can’t deny that it’s all happening. I kept wondering if this was just a big mind-game with a huge twist that would turn everything on its head. Or if I was just completely overlooking a small detail that would make everything clear. I loved it!

Being a mother myself, I couldn’t help but relate to what Lauren was going through. The exhaustion, the lack of help, the loneliness that comes from having a new born (I can’t…

Not Bennett’s Best: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

Not Bennett’s Best: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

Posted by on 04/16/2019 • 0 Comments

I didn’t think I’d ever read a Jenn Bennett book I didn’t love but… unfortunately… Serious Moonlight just didn’t do it for me. It isn’t that it isn’t enjoyable but over the past five years, I’ve come to expect a lot from a Jenn Bennett book and Serious Moonlight just didn’t live up to those expectations for me.

I think, a big part of the problem was that I didn’t love the characters as much and therefore wasn’t as invested in their relationship. While Birdie’s personality and trust issues make sense given her extremely sheltered upbringing, it really started getting on my nerves when we were almost 400 pages in and still dealing with her trust issues. I also thought it was super weird that Birdie didn’t have a single…

Gritty Characters: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Gritty Characters: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Posted by on 04/09/2019 • 1 Comment

CW: Self-harm and manipulative romantic relationship

I was told Wicked Saints would destroy me but I still didn’t realize what that would mean until I read the last couple pages of this book. If you enjoy happiness at all, you will stay far away from this book. If you love gritty characters, none of whom are particularly good (and some who might just be PLAIN EVIL), you will love Wicked Saints.

Right off the bat, we are pushed into the middle of a war with an opening scene where one of our MCs has to watch as many people important to her are murdered. So no, there are no rainbows and puppies in this book. Honestly though, having such a powerful scene was helpful to me because I’ve been struggling…

Review: Dreaming Darkly by Caitlin Kittredge

Review: Dreaming Darkly by Caitlin Kittredge

Posted by on 04/08/2019 • 1 Comment

Gothic mystery novels are a favorite of mine, and Dreaming Darkly is an eerie novel that, albeit a bit predictable and dramatic at times, was an exciting read overall. 

After the death of Ivy’s mother, she’s sent back to her family’s old manor on a private island off the coast of Maine. When she gets there, she finds that not everything and everyone is at it seems, and strange dreams start feeling a bit too real. I found this story really intriguing from the very first page. Ivy’s life with her mom, her mom’s mysterious past, her family’s history are all really interesting. I found myself flying to the pages to find out every detail I could about this ominous family tree. This mystery aspect is done really well, with…