Recommended: noooo Hateable characters, rampant sexism, lust-not-love, conflict would be 100% solved by talking to each other at any point, and a dead brother is used as a convenient but insignificant plot point. Lots of possessive male bullshit in this one. Lots of the female MC thinking “I’m just being oversensitive, too emotional” and that never being resolved into her saying “hey fuck those guys, I’m entitled to my feelings and also they’re being total assholes and trying to control me and my body!”
June Merriweather is on the run—from her own life. Her brother is dead, her parents are liars, and her college major is a joke. Apart from her best friend, Matt, June is desperate for reinvention. And a one-way ticket out of Cincinnati to the Scottish Highlands is a good place to start.
With a backpack, an urn, and a secret, June begins again. She snags a job at a café and finds lodging at a quaint inn with a quirky cast of housemates. The only problem: the inn’s infuriatingly perceptive (and sexy) owner, Lennox. He’s suspicious of June. After all, no one comes to Scotland in the winter unless they’re running from something. From rocky start to sizzling temptation, June’s new world is exhilarating…and one detour away from disaster.
With her past and her future both vying for attention, June can’t begin to picture where her reimagined life is headed next. And falling in love with the last person she expected is only the beginning.
Here are all the reasons I would have DNFd this book at 20% if it hadn’t been a review copy. Note: lots of swearing follows.
1. I hated all the characters, except Hamish. June is 20 or 21 and this is billed as an adult novel, but BOY does she act like a child. She’s petty and stubborn and reactive and judgmental. I really really did not like her from early on, and honestly I didn’t care for her by the end, either. Lennox doesn’t really have a personality, either. The side character who is a writer conveniently spells out all the events of the book in a sort of meta way, and I found that really dull. The best friend, Matt? He was SO annoying! He seems like a total prat, and at the big climax all I could feel was a mild spite because he was such a douche in my eyes. What a possessive, entitled asshole. And Angus. Angus will get an entire bullet point of his own later on here. 😐
Hey y’all! Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish question idea that was originally created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, from way back in June 2010! Since January 2018, Top Ten Tuesday has been hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Thanks for taking it over! The idea is to make a list of ten books or bookish things on different topics each week. Check out her site for details on how to join and what the upcoming prompts are. 😊 You can also see all the posts from other bloggers linked on each weekly post on their main site.
This week’s prompt is place I want to go that I’ve read about in books, whether real or fake. This is insanely easy for me both because I love to travel physically, and because I read a TON of books set in places I’ve never been around the world. That’s a specific draw for me. 🙂
I did have a weird moment of realization during this though. Since fictional places are also included in today’s list options, I got to thinking how there didn’t seem to be any fictional place I’d ever want to visit because in books they’re always so violent and dangerous and a million things could kill me. This was followed by me thinking how someone from one of those places would view Earth and/or the United States. And I was shocked when I realized, oh… they might feel the same. 😅 War and human rights issues constantly, a car might run you over, some places on Earth have now become literally too hot for humans to live anymore… there are definitely some issues here, even if they aren’t literal dragons. I mean, heck, we even had a recent plague!
Side note: reading about real current events in a dramatized, fictionalized way would be cool. I’d read that news site.
Anyway. The list.
Approximately arranged by how far away they are from me currently.
The Cat I Never Named: Bihac, Bosnia
Because this book was incredible and more than enough to make me fall in love with Bosnia and want to see where they’re at now, knowing the history.
Recommended: yes!! For a romance and a falling out of love, for grief and recovery, for guilt and hope, for a portrayal of a deaf character who is so much more than that
On the brink of a crumbling marriage, Kate Pineda-McDowell runs away from the only life she has ever known—straight into the heart of the Philippines where her estranged father lives. As she waits for her connecting flight from Tokyo to Manila, she meets Liam Walker, whose disquieting stares express deeper things than his reluctant words. Unbeknownst to both, their chance meeting circles back to a closely linked past that holds little hope for new beginnings.
Shortly after arriving in Manila, Kate finds herself drawn to seek out Liam. In a span of a few magical days, what began as a spark ignites into an electric affair that compels Liam to let someone into his silent world while Kate confronts her heartbreaking sorrows. But falling for each other means opening old wounds and revealing their most intimate yearnings.
Emotionally gripping and endearingly hopeful, “A Hundred Silent Ways” examines the many different paths people take to obtain a second chance at happiness while asking the most heartrending question of all: How much are we willing to endure to keep love alive?
I adored this book. Maybe I knew and forgot somehow, but one of the main characters is deaf. The way Kate and other characters interacted so naturally with Liam, a character who is deaf, made me really happy. Including written words, or noting they are writing, or his reluctance to speak, all built up that aspect of him and the story as a strong foundation.
Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is Lucie Yi Is Not a Romantic by Lauren Ho! Expected Release: June 24, 2022
Why wait on this one?
I have never read a novel about a co-parenting partnership, and I LOVE that this is one. I’m not sure what the correct term is, but an alternate family structure like this is another example of diversity in stories for people of all kinds to see their own experiences reflected. I also think it’s an option for parenthood that is unknown/stigmatized, so seeing it in fiction is great!
There’s an extra perk for me of travel in this novel, as Lucie goes to Singapore to see her family once she’s pregnant. Since she’s pregnant and a local, I’m not sure how much exploring will happen for my benefit, but just being there in the story will be exciting! Even if her parents aren’t exactly on board with her co-parenting decision…
And then toss in the reappearance of an ex-fiance! Drama with lovers! I assumed the plot would go towards her falling for her co-parent, but I like the idea that it could go the direction of having a romantic partner and a parenting-partner and negotiating those intertwined relationships. Or maybe she’ll only give her heart to her baby, who knows! I think there are a lot of good options for the path, and I’m so excited to see which one plays out. 🙂
Management consultant Lucie Yi is done waiting for Mr. Right. After a harrowing breakup foiled her plans for children—and drove her to a meltdown in a Tribeca baby store—she’s ready to take matters into her own hands. She signs up for an elective co-parenting website to find a suitable partner with whom to procreate—as platonic as family planning can be.
Collin Read checks all of Lucie’s boxes; he shares a similar cultural background, he’s honest, and most important, he’s ready to become a father. When they match, it doesn’t take long for Lucie to take a leap of faith for her future. So what if her conservative family might not approve? When Lucie becomes pregnant, the pair return to Singapore and, sure enough, her parents refuse to look on the bright side. Even more complicated, Lucie’s ex-fiancé reappears, sparking unresolved feelings and compounding work pressures and the baffling ways her body is changing. Suddenly her straightforward arrangement is falling apart before her very eyes, and Lucie will have to decide how to juggle the demands of the people she loves while pursuing the life she really wants.
Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is Two Nights in Lisbon by Chris Pavone! Expected Release: May 24, 2022
Why wait on this one?
1The setting, of course. I love books set in places that aren’t where I am, and Lisbon, Portugal is one of those places. This seems like a book that will track all through the city so I’ll see it a bit.
The mystery! I love a good amnesiac episode of trying to find out who you are. Siri, Who Am I? was a surprisingly good title, and The End of Getting Lostfeels like it will have similar vibes to this one as well. Both were fab!
Who is the one person she doesn’t want to ask for help!? The blurb ends with that juicy little tidbit, so on top of the “who am i where am I” mystery, there’s definitely going to be some tension elsewhere as well. It must be someone she meets during the process or else she wouldn’t remember them, right? So what new person is catching her attention?
OH AND ALSO ITS BY THE GUY WHO WROTE THE EXPATS!!! That book was one I picked up I don’t even know how, and it was SO GOOD. I still think about that book. I recommended it to my mom and she loved it too. I didn’t realize Chris Pavone wrote it as well until literally just now when I saw the byline on the cover and yoooo I’m even more excited and maybe actually preordering this one now. 😍
Ariel Price wakes up in Lisbon, alone. Her husband is gone—no warning, no note, not answering his phone. Something is wrong.
She starts with hotel security, then the police, then the American embassy, at each confronting questions she can’t fully answer: What exactly is John doing in Lisbon? Why would he drag her along on his business trip? Who would want to harm him? And why does Ariel know so little about her new—much younger—husband?
The clock is ticking. Ariel is increasingly frustrated and desperate, running out of time, and the one person in the world who can help is the one person she least wants to ask.
Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is Expected Release: May 3, 2022
Why wait on this one?
I have a type, and that type is Korean-Americans learning about their roots /Korean family and going to Korea. I’m an absolute sucker for them and could probably make a whole list by now of the books I’ve read with that exact plot. And I will keep reading them. Enter: The Noh Family (Noh is an unusual name, I’m curious if that will come up!)
AHHHH SECRET FAMILY WITH FAMILY SECRETS!!!! I’m not much for gossip in my real life, but when it comes to books, I am all about learning everyone’s hidden pieces of their lives! Especially if it’s heartwarming at the end. I hope this will be heartwarming at the end. ^.^
Something about the unfathomably rich families of Korea also fascinates me. The pervasive way they exist in and shape the culture itself is more so even than here in America, with words like chaebol just to express the luck / goal of being in one of these families. And frankly, just the setting is enough for me! I love connecting experiences of the characters with my own from when I lived there. Even just seeing the Namsan Tower on the cover was enough to prompt a big smile!
Side note that the prompting event of her friends giving an orphan who never knew her father a DNA test kit seems like kind of a shitty thing to do? Especially when labeled a “gag gift?” I’m curious to see how that scene goes down.
When her friends gift her a 23-and-Me test as a gag, high school senior Chloe Kang doesn’t think much of trying it out. She doesn’t believe anything will come of it–she’s an only child, her mother is an orphan, and her father died in Seoul before she was even born, and before her mother moved to Oklahoma. It’s been just Chloe and her mom her whole life. But the DNA test reveals something Chloe never expected–she’s got a whole extended family from her father’s side half a world away in Korea. Her father’s family are owners of a famous high-end department store, and are among the richest families in Seoul. When they learn she exists, they are excited to meet her. Her mother has huge reservations, she hasn’t had a great relationship with her husband’s family, which is why she’s kept them secret, but she can’t stop Chloe from travelling to Seoul to spend two weeks getting to know the Noh family.
Chloe is whisked into the lap of luxury, but something feels wrong. Chloe wants to shake it off–she’s busy enjoying the delights of Seoul with new friend Miso Dan, the daughter of one of her mother’s grade school friends. And as an aspiring fashion designer, she’s loving the couture clothes her department store owning family gives her access to. But soon Chloe will discover the reason why her mother never told her about her dad’s family, and why the Nohs wanted her in Seoul in the first place. Could joining the Noh family be worse than having no family at all?
Hey y’all! If you haven’t heard yet, don’t fret: at the time of writing, you still have nine days to claim your free books! Every year, Amazon does a Read the World event where they share books set in different countries around the world. You can download the digital books for free here if you’d like!
Recommended: eh Maybe for a quick light read that won’t really linger, if you don’t know much about Taiwan you’ll get a small dose of history along with the YA drama and antics
When eighteen-year-old Ever Wong’s parents send her from Ohio to Taiwan to study Mandarin for the summer, she finds herself thrust among the very over-achieving kids her parents have always wanted her to be, including Rick Woo, the Yale-bound prodigy profiled in the Chinese newspapers since they were nine—and her parents’ yardstick for her never-measuring-up life.
Unbeknownst to her parents, however, the program is actually an infamous teen meet-market nicknamed Loveboat, where the kids are more into clubbing than calligraphy and drinking snake-blood sake than touring sacred shrines.
Free for the first time, Ever sets out to break all her parents’ uber-strict rules—but how far can she go before she breaks her own heart?
This book wasn’t particularly mindblowing, but I guess I didn’t expect it to be with the word “Loveboat” in the title. I had to know there would be a little bit of cheese with this. xD Which is fine, and there definitely was. It was ok, and it read quickly so it’s not like I spent a lot of time of a middle of the road read.
Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is On A Night of a Thousand Stars by Andrea Yaryura Clark! Expected Release: March 1, 2022
Why wait on this one?
The setting of this one is an obvious draw for me. At least partially set in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I’m excited to travel to South America. I don’t often read books set there, so this is a nice chance to break out of that box a bit.
Similarly, since I don’t read about South America much, my historical knowledge of the continent is limited mostly to what I learned in high school Spanish classes. Which admittedly, is something at least, but I think there’s a lot more I can dive into with this historical novel.
As the main character, college-student Paloma, learns about her father’s history as well as Argentina’s history, I’ll be able to ride along with her. The character’s lens mirrors my own knowledge well, so I think it will gently carry me along. I say gently, but the topic is also pretty painful and grim, as Paloma will dive into the past dangers of the country and put herself in fresh new danger of her own.
New York, 1998. Santiago Larrea, a wealthy Argentine diplomat, is holding court alongside his wife, Lila, and their daughter, Paloma, a college student and budding jewelry designer, at their annual summer polo match and soiree. All seems perfect in the Larreas’ world—until an unexpected party guest from Santiago’s university days shakes his usually unflappable demeanor. The woman’s cryptic comments spark Paloma’s curiosity about her father’s past, of which she knows little.
When the family travels to Buenos Aires for Santiago’s UN ambassadorial appointment, Paloma is determined to learn more about his life in the years leading up to the military dictatorship of 1976. With the help of a local university student, Franco Bonetti, an activist member of H.I.J.O.S.—a group whose members are the children of the desaparecidos, or the “disappeared,” men and women who were forcibly disappeared by the state during Argentina’s “Dirty War”—Paloma unleashes a chain of events that not only leads her to question her family and her identity, but also puts her life in danger.
Recommended: sure For a frantic sprint through Europe, for unexpected knowledge discovered, for a domestic thriller on the run, for a desperately mad and all-consuming kind of love
The year is 1996—a time before cell phones, status updates, and location tags—when you could still travel to a remote corner of the world and disappear, if you chose to do so. This is where we meet Gina Reinhold and Duncan Lowy, a young artistic couple madly in love, traveling around Europe on a romantic adventure. It’s a time both thrilling and dizzying for Gina, whose memories are hazy following a head injury—and the growing sense that the man at her side, her one companion on this strange continent, is keeping secrets from her.
Just what is Duncan hiding and how far will he go to keep their pasts at bay? As the pair hop borders across Europe, their former lives threatening to catch up with them while the truth grows more elusive, we witness how love can lead us astray, and what it means to lose oneself in love… The End of Getting Lost is “atmospheric, lyrical, and filled with layered insights into the complexities of marriage” (Susie Yang, New York Times bestselling author of White Ivy). “Kirman is wonderfully deft with suspense and plot” (Katie Crouch, New York Times bestselling author of Girls in Trucks) in this “electric page-turner” (Courtney Maum, author of Costalegre and Touch), a novel that is both a tightrope act of deception as much as it is an elegant exploration of love and marriage, and our cherished illusions of both. With notes of Patricia Highsmith, Caroline Kepnes, and Lauren Groff, Robin Kirman has spun a delicious tale of deceit, redemption, and the fight to keep love alive—no matter the costs.