Posted in Reviews

Review: Island Affair by Priscilla Oliveras

Island Affair by Priscilla Oliveras -⭐⭐⭐

Recommended: sure
For a quick fun read, for a fairly predictable plot that carries comfort, for characters resolving their personal issues.

Summary:
Sought-after social media influencer Sara Vance, in recovery from an eating disorder, is coming into her own, with a potential career expansion on the horizon. Despite the good news, her successful siblings (and their perfect spouses) have a way of making her feel like the odd one out. So, when her unreliable boyfriend is a no-show for a Florida family vacation, Sara recruits Luis Navarro—a firefighter paramedic and dive captain willing to play the part of her smitten fiancé . . . Luis’s big Cuban familia has been in Key West for generations, and his quiet strength feeds off the island’s laidback style. Though guarded after a deep betrayal, he’ll always help someone in need—especially a spunky beauty with a surprising knowledge of Spanish curse words. Soon, he and Sara have memorized their “how we met” story and are immersed in family dinners, bike tours, private snorkeling trips . . . sharing secrets, and slow, melting kisses. But when it’s time for Sara to return home, will their island romance last or fade with the stunning sunset?

Thoughts:
If you love the “fake dating” trope, then you probably won’t be disappointed. There is a bit of insta-love, but just take it with a bit of salt from the rim of a cocktail and enjoy the overall story. 😁

When a book is based on a fairly popular plot line or trope, like this one is, then there has to be something else to set it apart from the countless others like it. For Island Affair, I was happy to see that set itself apart with characters who had deep-rooted personal issues that got in the way of their love, but also of their own lives. The honesty with which the characters face their problems was refreshing, and prevented the book from falling back onto the usual conflict where everything would be prevented if they had just talked to each other.

Continue reading “Review: Island Affair by Priscilla Oliveras”
Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: What You Wish For by Katherine Center!

Just a reminder that What You Wish For by Katherine Center published today! Check out the full review here or pick up your own copy at Book Despository!

Recommended: sure
For teachers, for those who like Center’s writing style, for a blend of teaching pedagogy and medical/personal self-discovery, for a book where you know exactly what to expect, for something uplifting and quotable if you’re having a bad day

Summary:
Samantha Casey loves everything about her job as an elementary school librarian on the sunny, historic island of Galveston, Texas—the goofy kids, the stately Victorian building, the butterfly garden. But when the school suddenly loses its beloved principal, it turns out his replacement will be none other than Duncan Carpenter—a former, unrequited crush of Sam’s from many years before. When Duncan shows up as her new boss, though, he’s nothing like the sweet teacher she once swooned over. He’s become stiff, and humorless, and obsessed with school safety. Now, with Duncan determined to destroy everything Sam loves about her school in the name of security—and turn it into nothing short of a prison—Sam has to stand up for everyone she cares about before the school that’s become her home is gone for good.

Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

In Progress with MAY DAY

May Day by Josie Jaffrey

Progress: page 243/312 (78%)

I’m flying through this book even though I only started it yesterday. I took a chance outside my usual, and I am being rewarded for it! Thank you Josie Jaffrey for the delight of May Day!

Why did I start reading it?

This book actually just published today! I received an ARC from the author, and although it’s not my typical genre, I was intrigued. And I am so glad I gave it a shot, because I’m loving it! It’s a sexy vampire detective on a murder mystery, and it is so much more than that little description makes it sound. 😍

Where have I gone?

(British English) Words I’ve Learned:

Lines that linger

I’d never have thought that laughing in bed was a good thing, but here she is in my arms, and I’m so happy that I can feel the joy bubbling up into my throat, so happy that the force of my kisses is shaped by my smile.

He’s rich and powerful, which is a bad place for any man to start, but he’s also arrogant and elitist, which makes him a particularly wanky breed of wanker.

He’s an imposing man, over six-feet tall with dark skin and darker eyes. We don’t ask about his past, but I’m pretty sure it’s dark too.

Posted in Reviews

Review: The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende – ⭐⭐⭐

Recommended: sure
For a look at Japanese internment, for cross-racial relations, for a story about people

Summary:
In 1939, as Poland falls under the shadow of the Nazis, young Alma Belasco’s parents send her away to live in safety with an aunt and uncle in their opulent mansion in San Francisco. There, as the rest of the world goes to war, she encounters Ichimei Fukuda, the quiet and gentle son of the family’s Japanese gardener. Unnoticed by those around them, a tender love affair begins to blossom. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the two are cruelly pulled apart as Ichimei and his family, like thousands of other Japanese Americans are declared enemies and forcibly relocated to internment camps run by the United States government. Throughout their lifetimes, Alma and Ichimei reunite again and again, but theirs is a love that they are forever forced to hide from the world. Decades later, Alma is nearing the end of her long and eventful life. Irina Bazili, a care worker struggling to come to terms with her own troubled past, meets the elderly woman and her grandson, Seth, at San Francisco’s charmingly eccentric Lark House nursing home. As Irina and Seth forge a friendship, they become intrigued by a series of mysterious gifts and letters sent to Alma, eventually learning about Ichimei and this extraordinary secret passion that has endured for nearly seventy years.

Thoughts:
While this was not fervently compelling, it had a quiet dignity that held my attention throughout. It’s a story of people. Impressively, despite having a fairly large cast whom we learn about, across multiple generations, each person feels robust and well-known. Even the seemingly smaller characters are given motivation and pain and importance in their way. I loved seeing that, as I think it’s indicative of a world I want to live in: one where every person is known to be a complex person, and so patience is easier to give.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: Beach Read by Emily Henry

Beach Read by Emily Henry – ⭐⭐⭐

Recommended: sure
for a different style of romance, for complex family betrayal and love, for a comforting quick read

Don’t be fooled: they read on the beach exactly ONCE

Summary:
Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast. They’re polar opposites. In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block. Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

Thoughts:
First things first: I don’t think I’d consider this a beach read. Those are usually fluffier and light with the main issue the old trope where the characters just don’t talk to each other and misunderstand something stupid. This book is not that. In fact, I was delighted that, for the most part, when they were hurt or angry or confused they did address it and talk to each other instead of letting idiocy fester. THANK YOU, EMILY HENRY.

Continue reading “Review: Beach Read by Emily Henry”
Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson!

Reminder that Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson (⭐⭐⭐⭐) released today! Check out the review here or check out Book Depository to grab a copy!

Summary:
Jesse Strong is known for two things: his devotion to his adoptive mom, Mama Joy, and his reputation for breaking hearts in Harlem. When Mama Joy unexpectedly passes away, he and his brothers have different plans on what to do with Strong Knits, their neighborhood knitting store: Jesse wants to keep the store open; his brothers want to shut it down. Jesse makes an impassioned plea to Kerry Fuller, his childhood friend who has had a crush on him her entire life, to help him figure out how to run the business. Kerry agrees to help him reinvent the store and show him the knitty-gritty of the business, but the more time they spend together, the more the chemistry builds. Kerry, knowing Jesse’s history, doesn’t believe this relationship will exist longer than one can knit one, purl one. But Jesse is determined to prove to her that he can be the man for her—after all, real men knit.

Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

My newfound love of Punderworld (a webtoon!)

Helloooo! Even in my reading, I’m always in search of things that make me smile and laugh. Web comics are fantastic for this, particularly because they convey so much of the artists’ personality and style for the story through every aspect of the art, not just the story itself. I found one that’s been started relatively recently that I have absolutely fallen in love with.

Enter Punderworld

HOLY CRAP AM I EXCITED ABOUT THIS ONE.

Synopsis:
The focus is on Greek mythology, and primarily focuses on the lesser-known love story of Hades, God of the Underworld, and Persephone, Goddess of the Earth (in a life & growth kind of way). It’s totally consensual, and the original myth is actually pretty illuminating. Side plug to check out Mythos by Stephen Fry for their original story, as well as how Hades became God of the Underworld with a lot of bad luck.

From episode 6

The art is GORGEOUS. When you’re drawing the realm of gods, it’s pretty important that you make it look absolutely stunning. And let me tell you, sigeel (real name Linda Sejic with Katarina Devic assisting on coloring) succeeds. The skies are so so pretty. The clever framework, with spit-takes bursting the outlined boxes around the panels, are incredibly immersive, and are that extra special touch that makes it stand out.

Continue reading “My newfound love of Punderworld (a webtoon!)”
Posted in Reviews

Review: Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson – ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Recommended: yup
For healthy attitudes towards sex, for endless tension, for investigations into family dynamics and systemic societal racial prejudices. And the occasional mention of knitting
Expected Release: May 19, 2020

Summary:
Jesse Strong is known for two things: his devotion to his adoptive mom, Mama Joy, and his reputation for breaking hearts in Harlem. When Mama Joy unexpectedly passes away, he and his brothers have different plans on what to do with Strong Knits, their neighborhood knitting store: Jesse wants to keep the store open; his brothers want to shut it down. Jesse makes an impassioned plea to Kerry Fuller, his childhood friend who has had a crush on him her entire life, to help him figure out how to run the business. Kerry agrees to help him reinvent the store and show him the knitty-gritty of the business, but the more time they spend together, the more the chemistry builds. Kerry, knowing Jesse’s history, doesn’t believe this relationship will exist longer than one can knit one, purl one. But Jesse is determined to prove to her that he can be the man for her—after all, real men knit.

Thoughts:
While this was quite different from what I expected, I still really liked it! There was a much stronger focus on how Jesse and Kerry felt about each other than I expected. That was the majority of the story, it seemed: alternating between then thinking about the other. The aspect of the business having to be saved and working to restart it seemed almost like a subplot at most, and not much happened with it until about 70% into the book.

Continue reading “Review: Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Beach Read

Unlike Throwback Thursday, I’m using Fridays to look ahead to books publishing soon that I’m excited for! For once, the hype around Beach Read by Emily Henry hasn’t pushed me away, and in fact has continued to draw me in.
Expected Release: May 19, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • It’s a rarity for me, because I’m for once kind of drawn in by the hype! I’ve heard so much about this book, seen it all over bookstagram, and it’s even in the SRC2020 line up. Usually that drives me away from a book, but this one I’m still pushing for!
  • It’s entirely possible that I won’t be able to do much actual beach reading this summer depending on how COVID19 continues around here and what regulations are in place. This is my way of living vicariously in a slightly wry way.
  • Reading books about authors or librarians or booksellers always feels familiar in a way. I guess people who love to read especially love to read about people who love to read. That’s kind of a confusing sentence to read but I stand by it!
  • As I’ve said, I’ve seen this book all over, and honestly the reviews are encouraging. I’m hoping for the promised blend of romance and personal discovery, and that’s largely what people have reported. I like books and romances in particular where the character’s define themselves by more than how they feel about each other.

Summary:
Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast. They’re polar opposites. In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block. Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

Posted in Reviews

Review: The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin

The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin – ⭐⭐⭐
Didn’t love the start but the second half was much stronger. Absolutely love the way the romance line was handled.

Recommended: sure
For a light read about love, self-discovery, and Paris, for a romance I can cheer for, for heartwarming characters who you can’t help but smile at

Summary:
Bookshop owner Sarah Smith has been offered the opportunity to exchange bookshops with her new Parisian friend for 6 months! And saying yes is a no-brainer – after all, what kind of a romantic would turn down a trip to Paris? Even if it does mean leaving the irresistible Ridge Warner behind, Sarah’s sure she’s in for the holiday of a lifetime – complete with all the books she can read! Picturing days wandering around Shakespeare & Co, munching on croissants, sipping café au laits and people-watching on the Champs-Elysees Sarah boards the plane. But will her dream of a Parisian Happily-Ever-After come true? Or will Sarah realise that the dream isn’t quite as rosy in reality…

Thoughts:
The beginning of this book didn’t show itself to it’s best advantage for me. Typically an MC, especially a female one, who feels insecure or unworthy is very tiring and frustrating to read. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see that first half of the book mostly filled with self-derogatory remarks and pity and angst. I get that happens to everyone, but in books it’s always amplified to a somewhat intolerable level.

If you can get past that, the second half picks up significantly once Sarah stops moaning about her life and starts living it. More threads of plot are woven in the latter half to bring in other characters we come to care about. They are made into more than just a background, but they are still fairly one-dimensional. The sparkle in the book is on the main couple and her closest friend or two.

Continue reading “Review: The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin”