Showing posts with label 3.5 stars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 3.5 stars. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Blog Tour: The Seven Year Slip by Ashley Poston


 
Pages: 352
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: June 27, 2023
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: The Dead Romantics
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
 
 
 
Goodreads says, "Sometimes, the worst day of your life happens, and you have to figure out how to live after it. So Clementine forms a plan to keep her heart safe: stay busy, work hard, find someone decent to love, and try to remember to chase the moon. The last one is silly and obviously metaphorical, but her aunt always told her that you needed at least one big dream to keep going. And for the last year, that plan has gone off without a hitch. Mostly. The love part is hard because she doesn’t want to get too close to anyone—she isn’t sure her heart can take it. And then she finds a strange man standing in the kitchen of her late aunt’s apartment. A man with kind eyes and a Southern drawl and a taste for lemon pies. The kind of man that, before it all, she would’ve fallen head-over-heels for. And she might again. Except, he exists in the past. Seven years ago, to be exact. And she, quite literally, lives seven years in his future. Her aunt always said the apartment was a pinch in time, a place where moments blended together like watercolors. And Clementine knows that if she lets her heart fall, she’ll be doomed. After all, love is never a matter of time—but a matter of timing."

 

 

Clementine inherits a gorgeous apartment on the Upper East Side from her kooky aunt, whom she loved to travel the world with. Clementine is dealing with some major grief after the death of her aunt, not to mention remembering all the strange stories she told about her "magical" apartment that bends time. She used to think it was all her aunt's strange stories, but when she wakes up to find aspiring chef, Iwan, in her apartment she is starting to realize her aunt was right. Iwan is living seven years in Clementine's past and she is living seven years in his future. In the same apartment! Clementine is also dealing with some bumps in the road regarding her life as well as her job, and Iwan is the greatest escape. His lemon dies, his southern accent, and his warm heart all make her gravitate toward him. The more time she spends with him, the more she starts to see things differently about her life and question what she really wants. How could they actually have a real relationship though? Her aunt warned her to never fall in love within the walls of her apartment and that is exactly what is happening. Ashley Poston's The Seven Year Slip is a delightful romance filled with magical realism.

Clementine is a wonderful character in The Seven Year Slip. She works as a book publicist for a small publisher in New York City, so that aspect of the story was interesting. She is at a crossroads at work though, not to mention dealing with the death of her beloved aunt. Then throw in Iwan, you have a lot of drama that Clementine must face. Clementine and Iwan's love story, due to the magical elements, is very unpredictable and in that case, I enjoyed that aspect of the story as I wasn't sure what would happen. How could they make this work in real life?

The threads of magic in The Seven Year Slip are perfect. Even though it seems really far-fetched, Poston made it believable for me. While it didn't pack the emotional punch of her previous novel, The Dead Romantics, I still enjoyed the ride and was rooting for Clementine. If you love a romance with a strong side of magical realism, look no further. This book will transport you and that makes it the perfect beach read for the summer.

Are you a fan of Ashley Poston? Do you plan to read
The Seven Year Slip this summer? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Book Review: Hotel Laguna by Nicola Harrison


 
Pages: 288
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: June 20, 2023
Publisher: St. Martin's
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Montauk
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars 



Goodreads says, "In 1942, Hazel Francis left Wichita, Kansas for California, determined to do her part for the war effort. At Douglas Aircraft, she became one of many “Rosie the Riveters,” helping construct bombers for the U. S. military. But now the war is over, men have returned to their factory jobs, and women like Hazel have been dismissed, expected to return home to become wives and mothers. Unwilling to be forced into a traditional woman’s role in the Midwest, Hazel remains on the west coast, and finds herself in the bohemian town of Laguna Beach. Desperate for work, she accepts a job as an assistant to famous artist Hanson Radcliff. Beloved by the locals for his contributions to the art scene and respected by the critics, Radcliff lives under the shadow of a decades old scandal that haunts him. Working hard to stay on her cantankerous employer’s good side, Hazel becomes a valued member of the community. She never expected to fall in love with the rhythms of life in Laguna, nor did she expect to find a kindred spirit in Jimmy, the hotel bartender whose friendship promises something more. But Hazel still wants to work with airplanes—maybe even learn to fly one someday. Torn between pursuing her dream and the dream life she has been granted, she is unsure if giving herself over to Laguna is what her heart truly wants."

 

Hazel Francis left her small town behind for California during WWII. She worked at Douglas Aircraft building aircraft for the military, but now that the war is over, so is her job. She is expected to return home. But what about all the women that did not want to return home to the status quo and wanted more for themselves? Well, Hazel is faced with that very problem as she doesn't want to return home, and happens upon Laguna Beach when looking for a new job. Laguna seems so promising with its artistic and boho vibe. Eventually, she does land a job as an assistant to Laguna's most successful artist, Hanson Radcliff. Hanson is mysterious and moody, but locally adored, so naturally Hazel finds him intriguing. As more time passes, Hazel becomes a member of Laguna's community, she finds a possible romance in Jimmy, a bartender, and perhaps her place in a post-WWII war. Nicola Harrison's Hotel Laguna is a solid historical read that highlights the struggles women experienced during this transitional time in America's history.

Hazel is a character you have to respect in
Hotel Laguna. She stepped up to the plate during the war and built aircraft for the military and contributed to such an important cause. However, once the war was over, Hazel, like many American women, was dropped and just expected to return home to their former lives. While I am sure many women did happily, others wanted something else for themselves. Hotel Laguna highlights this struggle through Hazel's experiences post-war. I can't say I've read a book that details how difficult it was for women during the time, so this was a new concept for me and one that I appreciated wholeheartedly. I enjoyed her journey to finding something more for herself, a place in a new community, a possible love, and an unlikely friendship with her boss, Hanson. 

The real star of the show in
Hotel Laguna is Laguna Beach itself. Harrison did a wonderful job bringing it to life. The art show, the artistic community, the bohemian vibe, and the beautiful landscapes were done so well; it made me want to visit one day. If you love a memorable setting in your historical beach reads, look no further.

While
Hotel Laguna wasn't a stand-out historical beach read, I still enjoyed Hazel's story and how it highlighted postwar America. It was a quick read (less than 300 pages), so it would be perfect for a long weekend at the beach.

Are you a fan of Nicola Harrison? Is
Hotel Laguna on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Friday, May 26, 2023

Mini Reviews: Beach Read Edition


 

'Tis the season for all the beach reads, right? Here are two delightful new releases for your beach bag this summer. Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below.


Summer Stage by Meg Mitchell Moore

Pages: 336
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: May 23, 2023
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: The Islanders
My Rating; 3.5 out of 5 stars


Goodreads says, "Amy Trevino, a former aspiring playwright, has stayed close to her Rhode Island hometown while her famous brother, Timothy Fleming, pursued and achieved his Hollywood dreams. Now a high school English teacher and occasional drama director, Amy takes on the production manager role for her brother’s play in an effort to mend rifting family relationships.  Sam, Amy’s daughter, was a Disney child star who continued her pursuit for fame in a Manhattan TikTok house. Now she’s returned home unexpectedly. Her sudden arrival is shrouded in secrets, and Sam refuses to open up to her mother, deciding instead to join her uncle on Block Island for the summer.   Timothy, a successful and well-loved actor, is directing a summer production at a storied Block Island theater—and his famous ex-wife has the lead role. As they work together to ensure the production is a success, Amy, Sam, and Timothy are forced to grapple with their desires for recognition and fortune, stand up for what they believe art and fame actually mean, and discover what they really want out of life. A bighearted and delicious novel about family, ambition, and opportunity,  Summer Stage is the must-read book of the summer. "

 

 

Timothy Fleming, a famous actor, returns home to help his ex-wife, Gertie, who is also an actress with her summer production of Much Ado About Nothing. Gertie needed a location for her show and Timothy pulled some strings and got a location at his hometown of Block Island. He even recruits his sister, Amy, as production manager as not only was she once an aspiring playwright, but maybe they will make amends this summer. Then there's Amy's daughter, Sam, a child actress. She returns home unexpectedly this summer. She was once very successful but has suffered a bit as of late due to a social media scandal that she doesn't want her family to know about. As they all work together this summer on the show, both family and backstage drama ensue in Summer Stage by Meg Mitchell Moore.


What better than a summer theater production set on the coastal town of Block Island? Cue all the drama!
Summer Stage was filled with a lot of behind-the-scenes of what goes on during a theater production, but it also a lot of heart in it. It dealt with family issues, old resentments, and moving on from the past. It took a while to get the story going, but once it did, I truly cared about the characters and their summer theater production. While I could have used a bit more "beach" in this novel, it was still a solid read for the summer, especially for fans of family drama.

 


The Darlings by Hannah McKinnon

Pages: 320
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: May 2, 2023
Publisher: Atria
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books by Author: Mystic Summer
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
 
 
Goodreads says, "At age ninety-two, Tish Darling is the matriarch and protector of what’s left of the Darling family fortune, including the decades-old beach house, Riptide. Located on the crook of Cape Cod, it’s a place she once loved but has not returned to in decades, since a tragic family accident one perfect summer day. Still, she is determined to keep Riptide in the family. Even if that means going back there on the cusp of her granddaughter’s wedding. Even if it means revealing someone else’s truth. Her daughter-in-law Cora has her own complicated feelings surrounding Tish’s return as well as doubts about her place within the Darling family. After all, Cora came into the family carrying a secret that her husband promised to keep for her forever. Tish’s sudden return to Riptide may force everything they’ve worked so hard to protect out into the light. Meanwhile, Cora’s eldest daughter, Andi isn’t exactly looking forward to her little sister’s wedding so soon after her own divorce. To make matters worse, her ex has arrived on the Cape with his insufferable new girlfriend. Andi has no idea how she’ll be able to survive this family reunion…until she bumps into an old friend from the past. A friend who may just offer her a second chance. As the three distinct generations of Darling women arrive at Riptide, they have no idea that this summer will forever change them. One old secret, kept with the best of intentions, threatens to not only divide the family, but shatter each member’s sense of who they really are. Can the ties that bind survive, when the history you’ve always been told turns out to be untrue?

 

Tish Darling is in her 90s now and hasn't returned to her family's beach house, aptly named Riptide, since a tragic accident many years ago. She wants to keep it in the family, so she plans to gift it to her granddaughter at her wedding there this summer. She arrives three weeks early, which sends the family into a tizzy, as Cora, her husband's wife, has never really gotten along with Tish. They are all gathered at Riptide for Sydney's wedding, including her older sister, Andi, and this proves to be a challenging few weeks as she is going through her divorce. Cora is trying to keep things going smoothly for her daughter's wedding, but she can't seem to control everything, including Tish's secret that she plans to unload before the wedding, which will prove that Cora is hiding some secrets of her own. The Darlings is a juicy family drama set in a gorgeous beach house; The Darlings by Hannah McKinnon is the perfect companion to a lazy day at the beach.  


The Darlings focuses on Tish, Cora, and Andi the most and I have to say that I found myself rooting the most for Tish and Andi. Cora's story, while I was sympathetic towards her plight, I found myself getting frustrated with her choices. On the other hand, I appreciated Tish's journey as it tugged on my heartstrings, and McKinnon's use of flashbacks really filled in the gaps regarding what happened at Riptide and how did Tish end up in the place she is at. The huge secret that she held all these years was bursting at the seams and while I am not sure her timing was right, it made for an entertaining story. Lastly, I adore McKinnon's style. There's something about how she describes a beach house and a family coming together that appeals to me; I was smitten! Family drama lovers shouldn't miss
The Darlings this summer.

 
 
So, what do you think of these two beach reads? Are they on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 
 

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Book Review: All the Days of Summer by Nancy Thayer



Pages: 352
Genre: Adult Fiction/Romance
Pub. Date: May 2, 2023
Publisher: Ballantine
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
 

Goodreads says, "Heather Willette has a good life in Concord, Massachusetts--complete with a husband who runs his own business and a son to take up his mantle one day. But now that her marriage has fizzled out and Ross, her only child, is graduating from college and getting serious with his girlfriend, Heather wonders if that life is the one she really wants. Ready to seek out her own happiness and discover herself again, Heather decides to leave her husband and rent a cottage on Nantucket. And her plan is going perfectly--until Ross announces he's moving to Nantucket to work at his girlfriend's family's construction business instead of going back home to work with his own father, like he'd promised. Worst of all for Heather, this means having to get along with her. Kailee Essex is thrilled that Ross is willing to move to her hometown. She has big hopes for their happily ever after, especially now that her parents are finally showing interest in her career. She's less thrilled, however, about his mother living nearby. Kailee has clashed with Heather since the day they met. But anything is possible in the summer sun and sea breezes of Nantucket--even reconciliation. And when change comes sooner than either Heather or Kailee expect, they must learn to overcome their differences to fight for the future they want. With All the Days of Summer, beloved storyteller Nancy Thayer delivers a moving novel that explores the complexity of family and the unexpected ways fate can guide you forward."

 

Heather Willette has spent the majority of her life working at her family's hardware store in Concord, Massachusetts, raising her son, Ross, and going through the motions in her less than stellar marriage. After Ross graduates from college, she realizes that her marriage is truly over and she decides to do something for herself for once. She rents a cottage on Nantucket for the summer during her divorce. All of her plans fall into place until Ross announces that he isn't moving home for the summer to help his dad at the hardware store, but instead will be moving to Nantucket with his girlfriend, Kailee, and working at Kailee's family's construction business. Cue the drama. This was especially problematic, because Heather didn't know that Ross would be on the island and she didn't want to seem like she was stalking her son. To complicate matters further, Heather has never really hit it off with Kailee and it is clear that Kailee doesn't really want Heather interfering in the slightest. Whether they are ready for it or not, changes are coming for both Heather, Ross, and Kailee this summer on Nantucket and there's a second chance in store for Heather, too, in All the Days of Summer by Nancy Thayer. It's the Hallmark movies of beach reads that begs to be read on vacation.

I enjoyed the character of Heather from the start of All the Days of Summer. I was desperate for her to get out of her marriage, because it was obvious her husband didn't care. While I questioned her finances and the logistics of leaving her life and moving to Nantucket ($$!!) of all places for the summer, I went with it. I mean it is a beach read, so let's not read into it too much. While there, Heather has a second chance at happiness. She walks the beach, helps out in the town, gets involved with a church, starts seeing someone, spends evenings with a good book, and even picks up a part-time job. It seemed everything was falling into place for her (a little too easy if you ask me), but I was rooting for her. However, her interactions with her future daughter-in-law were cringe worthy. Both of them are at fault for this, but this brings me to Kailee.

I did not care for Kailee from the start in All the Days of Summer. She was manipulative, boring, whiny, insecure, and downright rude. I mean the only reason why she even has a job at the successful Nantucket construction company is because she is an Essex, which is Nantucket royalty. Cue my eye roll. She is the very definition of nepotism and I didn't like how she roped Ross into working with her family for the summer. I questioned whether she even really cared for him at all or just liked controlling him. Needless to say, she was annoying pretty much the entire story, but towards the end she does redeem herself slightly.

My favorite aspect of the novel was the Nantucket setting. Thayer lives there and knows Nantucket well, so it was really brought to life. The restaurants, the beaches, the untouched parts of nature, and the downtown atmosphere were all well done. It made me want to plan a trip immediately and I was dreaming of my own Nantucket cottage vacation. My only issue with All the Days of Summer was the dialogue. I felt like Thayer had a difficult time capturing the dialogue of recent college graduates. The banter between Ross and Kailee did not feel authentic; in fact, I can guarantee people don't talk like that in their twenties. It felt like my grandmother wrote the dialogue. 

Nonetheless, All the Days of Summer was a solid beach read about second chances and, ultimately, it was a feel-good read by the end. Fans of Thayer's light beach reads will definitely want to throw this one in their beach bag this summer. So, are you a  fan of Thayer? Is this novel on your TBR list?       


 

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Book Review: A Lakeside Reunion by C. Chilove





 
Pages: 320
Genre: Romance
Pub. Date: April 4, 2023
Publisher: Forever
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
 

Goodreads says, "This summer, escape to the Shores­--a Southern lake town full of elegance and glamour in a story about family traditions, friendship, and a love that can’t be denied. Chareese “Reese” Devlin spent every summer of her childhood in the lake town of Mount Dora, Florida, where her days were filled with fun in the sun. Reese never realized that the idyllic haven hid a deep divide between the town’s haves and have-nots. Not until the summer she turned seventeen and fell for Duncan McNeal, a boy who lacked the pedigree so valued by her parents and their equally well-connected friends. After her family squashed the budding romance, Reese refused to return to the place she lost her heart. Now, ten years later, she’s back to attend her sister’s debutante ball and must come to terms with all she’s missed. But the biggest surprise of all is that Duncan is now a successful real estate developer in Mount Dora—and time hasn’t weakened the connection between them. Behind the multimillion-dollar homes of the Shores lay old grudges and secrets capable of collapsing any family legacy. As the summer progresses, Reese must fix the sins of the past by facing the lines between truth and deception, tradition and breaking free, and family expectations and self-discovery."

Chareese "Reese" Devlin left Mount Dora, Florida years ago, but finds herself back home for her sister's debutante ball. Mount Dora is a well-to-do Florida lakeside community filled with only the most successful Black families and a Southern town with a lot of traditions as well as families that have known each other for years. Reese runs into her ex-boyfriend, Duncan McNeal, who is now a successful developer. Her parents didn't approve of their relationship in high school, but now they want her talk to him since he has bought their family's inn, Hill House Bed and Breakfast. The Devlins want to restore it, but Duncan wants to turn it into a youth center as that is a big need in Mount Dora. Reese also finds herself mentoring not only her younger sister, but also Duncan's, during the debutante season.  Through all this, she not only still has feelings for Duncan, she also finds out some major family secrets between the McNeals and Devlins. Things aren't as easy as they appear for Reese this time around in Mount Dora. C. Chilove's A Lakeside Reunion is a beach read filled with family drama, romance, and chock full of Southern charm.
 
I felt badly for Reese from the start as she is reluctantly returning home and is put in a tough spot immediately in A Lakeside Reunion. Her parents pretty much encourage her to use her former relationship with Duncan as a strategy to help her family reclaim their inn. It's awkward, because her parents never approved of Duncan, but now they want Reese to work her magic. They are way too overbearing if you ask me and tend to tell Reese, a grown woman, what to do. But that appears to be the case with may of the elite Black families in Mount Dora. 
 
I did enjoy Reese and Duncan's relationship in A Lakeside Reunion. What can I say? I am a sucker for a second chance romance; however, the path to love is never easy, right? There's some major obstacles for them to get through, including Duncan questioning Reese's motives, as well as a family secret between the two families.
 
While I am not the biggest fan of debutante balls, I did find it amusing in A Lakeside Reunion. All the traditions and rules seems to be a lot and while I did get tired of reading about "rich people problems" at times, it did make for a very entertaining aspect of the story. A Lakeside Reunion is also full of Southern traditions and charm, which makes it a perfect beach read, as well as the lakeside setting.
 
So, if you are looking for a light romance this summer, A Lakeside Reunion is a sweet one. Are you a fan of C. Chilove? Is this novel on your TBR list? Let me know in the comments.   


 

Friday, March 31, 2023

Book Review: The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise by Colleen Oakley

Pages: 352
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: March 28, 2023
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
 


Goodreads says, "Twenty-one-year-old Tanner Quimby needs a place to live. Preferably one where she can continue sitting around in sweatpants and playing video games nineteen hours a day. Since she has no credit or money to speak of, her options are limited, so when an opportunity to work as a live-in caregiver for an elderly woman falls into her lap, she takes it. One slip on the rug. That’s all it took for Louise Wilt’s daughter to demand that Louise have a full-time nanny living with her. Never mind that she can still walk fine, finish her daily crossword puzzle, and pour the two fingers of vodka she drinks every afternoon. Bottom line -- Louise wants a caretaker even less than Tanner wants to be one. The two start off their living arrangement happily ignoring each other until Tanner starts to notice things—weird things. Like, why does Louise keep her garden shed locked up tighter than a prison? And why is the local news fixated on the suspect of one of the biggest jewelry heists in American history who looks eerily like Louise? And why does Louise suddenly appear in her room, with a packed bag at 1 a.m. insisting that they leave town immediately? Thus begins the story of a not-to-be-underestimated elderly woman and an aimless young woman who—if they can outrun the mistakes of their past—might just have the greatest adventure of their lives."

 

Louise Wilt is an 84 year old woman who lives alone and is recovering from a fall that hurt her hip. Much to her chagrin, her children have decided she needs a caretaker. They ask a family friend, Tanner, who is twenty-one years old and does much of nothing all day since she dropped out of college. Tanner had a scholarship as a soccer star, but all it took was one accident to injure her leg and her dreams went up in flames. Tanner hasn't quite gotten over this bump in the road and spends most of her day playing video games much to her parents' disappointment. Tanner reluctantly takes this job and neither Louise nor Tanner want to deal with each other. They are most definitely an unlikely pair. As more time passes, Tanner realizes there's more to Louise than just crossword puzzles, doctor appointments, and her daily routines. Tanner notices that a suspect from a jewelry heist in the 70s looks exactly like Louise. How can this be? Before she knows it, Tanner starts noticing strange things around the house and then to make matters worse, Louise demands they leave town after she receives a mysterious letter. Colleen Oakley's The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise is an entertaining story of an unlikely couple who go on an adventure filled with hijinks, mystery, and a surprising friendship.

I really enjoyed Louise from the beginning of The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise. I just realized that the last two books I read have female protagonists that are sixty years or older and I am here for it! I love that Oakley paints Louise as so much more than a grandmother stuck in her house. She lived quite a full life and has aspects of her life that her own kids may not know about. In fact, the FBI even gets involved regarding Louise's mysterious past. Then there's Tanner who was a bit frustrating at times due to her lack of drive. She really let her injury dictate her future and hasn't bounced back at all. Her interactions with Louise were pretty funny at times - a lot of witty back and forth banter. It reminded me of the Odd Couple at times.

The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise took me by surprise. I thought it was going to be a mostly funny story involving an unlikely friendship and while it definitely is that, it was so much more. It highlighted many aspects of society like what it means to be a woman, the difficulties of aging, female friendship, as well as what does it meant to do the right thing. Also, there was definitely a good mystery to the story, which I also enjoyed.  While I didn't like The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise as much as The Invisible Husband of Frick Island, it was still a solid story and would most definitely be a fun one to throw in your bag for spring break.

So, have you read The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise? Are you a fan of Colleen Oakley? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.  

 

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Book Review: Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Pages: 352
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: March 14, 2023
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


 
Goodreads says, "Put the kettle on, there’s a mystery brewing… Tea-shop owner. Matchmaker. Detective? Sixty-year-old self-proclaimed tea expert Vera Wong enjoys nothing more than sipping a good cup of Wulong and doing some healthy ‘detective’ work on the internet (AKA checking up on her son to see if he’s dating anybody yet). But when Vera wakes up one morning to find a dead man in the middle of her tea shop, it’s going to take more than a strong Longjing to fix things. Knowing she’ll do a better job than the police possibly could – because nobody sniffs out a wrongdoing quite like a suspicious Chinese mother with time on her hands – Vera decides it’s down to her to catch the killer."

 

 

 

 

Vera Wong owns a tea shop in San Francisco's Chinatown. Her son is grown and has a life of his own, so the tea shop is her world. Until one day, a man ends up dead in her shop. She finds him when she is opening the store and swipes his strange flash drive. After meeting with the police, she realizes that they don't seem to care about this dead man who was, according to Vera, clearly murdered. So, she takes it upon herself to figure out what happened and according to Vera there is nobody who can do it better than a Chinese mother. Jesse Q. Sutanto's Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers is a delightful novel that is equal parts comedy and cozy mystery. 

Vera is a character I absolutely loved from the start of Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers. She is quirky, boundary breaking, inappropriate at times, and has the best intentions. I absolutely loved this about her and thought she was so entertaining. Her lists she created to hunt down the killer were hilarious. Specifically the first half of the novel was so much fun, because Vera is so lovable despite her ability to make questionable decisions.

The "found family" in Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers was another heartwarming aspect of the novel. They really come together, thanks to Vera, to figure out why a man named Marshall  Chen ended up dead in Vera's shop. There's Marshall's twin brother, his widow, a reporter, and a podcast host. Each character is hiding their own secrets or complicated backstory and it was fun to get to know each one of them and their connection to Marshall. Sutanto jumps from character to character's point of view and it definitely had me guessing what happened to Marshall.

I read both the book and listened to the audio version and I have to say I preferred the audio. It was outstanding and the narrator really brought to life Vera. Also, the descriptions of Chinatown, the tea in Vera's shop, and the food were fantastic. It made me feel like I was in Chinatown with them.

While the murder mystery aspect of Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers wasn't entirely believable and a tad melodramatic at times, I still enjoyed Vera's story and uncovering the truth surrounding the murder. The big reveal wasn't entirely what I was expecting and a bit over-the-top, but this is to be expected in a cozy mystery. So, if you enjoy a cozy mystery with some laugh out loud hijinks, look no further! 

Are you a fan of Jesse Q. Sutanto? I hope to read Dial A for Aunties next. Let me know in the comments below if you have read Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers or if it's on your TBR list.



 

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Book Review: The Scandalous Ladies of London: The Countess by Sophie Jordan

Pages: 400
Genre: Romance
Pub. Date: March 28, 2023
Publisher: Avon
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Firelight,
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
 
 
 
Goodreads says, "Wealthy society maven Lady Gertrude knows how the world works. If her husband is less than faithful, it’s an acceptable price to pay for her coveted position at the apex of London’s most fashionable set. No exclusive soirĂ©e or lavish ball is complete without her and her group of decadent, well-connected friends. And this Season promises more excitement than usual: Tru is launching her daughter into Society, helping her navigate the cutthroat Marriage Mart, complete with fortune hunters, jealous debutantes, and malicious gossips. As skilled as Tru is at playing the high-stakes games of the ton, she never expects to meet her match—until Jasper Thorne begins to court her daughter. Jasper needs a titled bride, but when he meets Tru, all his carefully laid plans go up in smoke. The attraction between Tru and Jasper is undeniable…and unacceptable. To indulge in an affair with her daughter’s suitor would be ruinous. If it becomes public, she’ll never survive the scandal. Especially as it becomes clear that he wants more than one night…he wants the impossible. He wants forever. A sizzling story of scandalous ladies, irresistible temptation, and the dangers—and joys—of being true to yourself."
 
 
Lady Gertrude, the Countess of Chatham, is feeling pleased with her daughter's debut into society. A gossip rag gave her a glowing review and things are feeling promising. Gertrude, or Tru, hopes that her daughter, Delia, will make a love match and be happy, unlike her miserable marriage to the Earl of Chatham. After their wedding, he became a different person. He moved out of their house, took a lover, and dealt with Tru only when needed. While they had two children together, she hasn't been with the Earl in years and when they do interact it goes horribly. However, due to his absence, this affords Tru a lot of freedom and she doesn't have to deal with his constant emotional abuse. That is until he enters the scene again. He realizes his daughter is of marrying age and now wants to get involved with her marriage. He takes it upon himself to practically arrange the marriage on his own to a one Jasper Thorne, not a man of nobility, but rather  a man with "deep pockets." Jasper made his money off various successful inns, his wife has died tragically in childbirth, and now many years later is looking for a wife and a mother for his daughter. Delia isn't interested in Jasper, despite his good looks and charming personality. Jasper is a bit old for Delia, but that is good, because Tru doesn't want this for Delia; plus, she has met Jasper previously and there were sparks. Sophie Jordan's The Scandalous Ladies of London: The Countess is a fun first installment in a new series that's filled with Regency-era drama, romance, and of course, a lot of scandal.
 
I really liked Tru from the start of The Scandalous Ladies of London: The Countess. It's clear that she tried to make her marriage work, but there's no future with the Earl. They never see each other and he is insufferable. He parades his mistresses in front of her, he belittles her, is emotionally abusive, and now is trying to wreck Delia's future. Very quickly I was rooting for Tru and wanted to see the Earl go down in a big way. Awkwardly, Tru and her friends go to a seance, which is out of the ordinary for Tru. She meets someone there and that mysterious person ends up being Jasper Thorne, the man that her husband wants to set up their daughter with. So, needless, to say, things gets complicated.
 
Jasper Thorne is a charming love interest and while Jordan plays out the forbidden love trope very well, I did find myself getting frustrated. Delia isn't interested in Jasper, so he agrees to "fake court" her just to get close to Tru. This seemed really complicated at times, but I will admit, it was very entertaining. Jasper is everything the Earl is not, so it was easy to get past some of his missteps and start rooting for him, too. 
 
My only issue with this novel was the rather forced ending that seemed a little too convenient; however, deep down inside I was very pleased! On the other hand, my favorite aspect of The Scandalous Ladies of London: The Countess was Jordan's portrayal of "mature" women close to 40 years old. Normally this wouldn't be the age of a romantic heroine during the Regency period, but Jordan does it so well. I loved it, because I am tried of reading novels focused on twenty year old women finding love. This was a nice touch and I will definitely continue with the series and look forward to Jordan's next installment which will focus on Tru's friends, who readers met in this novel. I recommend this series to fans of Bridgerton who are looking to fill a void--this will do it!
 
So, are you a fan of Regency romances? Is this book on your TBR list? Let me know in the comments below.  

 

Friday, March 10, 2023

Mini Reviews: Contemporary Fiction Edition


 

Today I'm sharing my thoughts on two sweet contemporary novels with a touch of romance and family drama. While there's nothing groundbreaking with either of these novels, I still felt they were both solid dramas with family at the heart of the story. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

Wedding of the Season by Lauren Edmondson
Pages: 336
Pub. Date: February 21, 2023
Publisher: Graydon House
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Ladies of the House
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
 
 

 

Goodreads says, "It's the wedding of the season and all of Newport is abuzz in this funny, joyous, whip-smart novel about two modern-day society families and the summer wedding that has the whole town talking... Despite its beauty, Newport is a place Cass Coventry would prefer to forget. But after an extended absence, she’s back in her hometown to celebrate her sister’s engagement—even if she’s marrying into the family that famously stole the Gilded Age Coventry mansion out from under them a decade ago. The moment Cass pulls up to the estate, she’s in for one surprise after another. The bride-to-be is hiding a big secret. Her mother has royal-wedding aspirations. And, when the date is set for only three months away, a local gossip blog makes the two families its new favorite subject. It's not long before Cass's weekend in town becomes a full summer of frenzied wedding planning and society drama—but also idyllic sails, starry nights, and a former love. As the grand affair arrives, along with new truths about her family, Cass must finally face her own thorny past in Newport and decide how to honor the Coventry legacy in all its chaotic glory."

 

 

Cass Coventry is back home in Newport for her sister's big society wedding to a rival family. And not just any Newport family, but the family that bought the Coventry ancestral mansion and displaced her family to the measly carriage home. Once Cass returns home, she realizes her parents aren't living in the lap of Newport luxury. Instead the carriage home is falling apart and she finds out that they may be evicted. Plus, her mother has over-the-top wedding plans for Cass's sister and Cass seems to be the only one reining her in. To top it off, sister, Maggie, is hiding a big secret. Lauren Edmondson's Wedding of the Season is a light-hearted family drama that would be perfect for spring break. 

Cass returns home after some time away and is grappling with her own issues, such as a conflict at her job as a photographer as well as the reasons why she left Newport in the first place. She is reunited with an ex-boyfriend, who is now divorced, but there's still a connection there. However, what takes up most of her time is her mother's antics and her sister's wedding. There's so much drama about the wedding, not to mention the issue surrounding her parents possibly being evicted from the carriage house. There's money issues going on with the Coventry family and that's obviously not the norm in wealthy Newport. Cass's mother isn't realistic surrounding Maggie's wedding, Maggie is hiding a life-altering secret, and there's an anonymous influencer on Instagram who is chronicling this entire debacle Gossip Girl style. While some of the problems were clearly first world problems that made me eye roll a bit, Wedding of the Season was still a fun romp through glamorous Newport. Who doesn't love a good society wedding filled to the brim with drama?  


Meant to Be Mine by Hannah Orenstein
Pages: 288
Pub. Date: June 7, 2022
Publisher: Atria
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
 

 

Goodreads says, "What if you knew exactly when you’d meet the love of your life? Edie Meyer knows. When her Grandma Gloria was a young woman, she had a vision of the exact day she would meet her soul mate—and then Grandpa Ray showed up. Since then, Gloria has accurately predicted the day every single member of the family has met their match. Edie’s day arrives on June 24, 2022, when she’s twenty-nine years old. She has been waiting for it half her life. That morning, she boards an airplane to her twin sister’s surprise engagement, and when a handsome musician sits beside her, she knows it’s meant to be. But fate comes with more complications than Edie expected and she can’t fight the nagging suspicion that her perfect guy doesn’t have perfect timing. After a tragedy and a shocking revelation rock Edie’s carefully constructed world, she’s forced to consider whether love chooses us, as simple as destiny, or if we choose it ourselves."

 

 

 

Edie Meyer's grandmother has prophesized that she would meet her true love on June 24, 2022. Her grandmother has accurately predicted other family members for years, so Edie has never questioned it. Meanwhile, she is living the life in New York City as a stylist and dating Jonah, but she knows she will have to break up with him as she didn't meet him on 6/24/22. So, the June day has finally come and she is on a flight and sits next to Theo, a wannabe rock star/musician, and this must be the guy. Right? They start dating, but slowly she realizes that they want different things. She wants to settle down and he doesn't want to be married. But this obviously can't be right. They are destined to be together.....or so she thought! Meant to be Mine by Hannah Orenstein is a frothy romance that reminded me of The Matchmaker's Gift.

My favorite parts of Meant to be Mine were Orenstein's depictions of New York City, which were just wonderful. It was the NYC before COVID and I enjoyed it thoroughly. With the fun depictions of NYC and Edie being a fashionista turned stylist, it was giving me major Carrie Bradshaw vibes and I was here for it. 

Lastly, the themes of destiny were a little bit hokey in Meant to be Mine, but I loved the connection to Edie's grandmother. Once I got over that, I was able to enjoy the story a little bit more. In the end, Edie must ask herself what she really wants out of life and love--not just some prophecy.


So, have you read Wedding of the Season or Meant to be Mine? Are they on your TBR list? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Book Review: Off the Map by Trish Doller

Pages: 227
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: March 7, 2023
Publisher: St. Martin's
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Something Like Normal,
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
 
 
 
Goodreads says, "On the road to love, you don't need a GPS...  Carla Black’s life motto is “here for a good time, not for a long time.” She’s been travelling the world on her own in her vintage Jeep Wrangler for nearly a decade, stopping only long enough to replenish her adventure fund. She doesn’t do love and she doesn’t ever go home. Eamon Sullivan is a modern-day cartographer who creates digital maps. His work helps people find their way, but he’s the one who’s lost his sense of direction. He’s unhappy at work, recently dumped, and his one big dream is stalled out—literally. Fate throws them together when Carla arrives in Dublin for her best friend’s wedding and Eamon is tasked with picking her up from the airport. But what should be a simple drive across Ireland quickly becomes complicated with chemistry-filled detours, unexpected feelings, and a chance at love - if only they choose it."

 

 

 

Carla Black is visiting Ireland for her best friend's wedding. Once she arrives at Dublin Airport, she will be picked up by her best friend's fiance's brother, Eamon. He will take her from Dublin to Tralee, which is located in the Irish countryside. Well, even though they know that that it's pretty cliche for the maid of honor and the best man to hook up, they do and have a wild (and very steamy) night. On the way to Tralee, they decide they have enough time for some adventures. This is a whole new world for Eamon who has never taken the time to have some serious fun as he is always the responsible brother whereas Carla is all about adventure. Thanks to her dad's love of adventure, she has always been a bit of a nomad and up for any travel. But now Carla's dad is suffering from dementia and this has her questioning all of her nomadic habits. Has she been running from things all along? If you love a good road trip romance, Off the Map by Trish Doller will satisfy, especially for readers who love Ireland.

I have not read Doller's other romances that deal feature some of these characters in Off the Map, but I don't think it's necessary in order to fully enjoy the novel. Carla is a fun character that lives a life of travel and this serves as a foil to Eamon who is Mr. Responsible. They both bring out the opposite in each other and in turn, highlight some of their differences very well. I really enjoyed their romance and it got pretty steamy right off the bat. Their romp through Ireland really had me missing the Emerald Isle and reminiscing of my own time there. I love a good road trip novel, so for me, this was the best part. March is the perfect month to read a story that includes a jaunt through Ireland, am I right?

Not all of Off the Map is a fluffy romance as Doller touches on the serious and heartbreaking disease of dementia. As I mentioned, Carla's dad is suffering from it and I think Doller highlights this very well and in an honest way. I have not read many books that feature characters with dementia, so I applaud Doller for including this sad condition that touches so many people's lives.

My only issue with Off the Map was Carla's spontaneous road trips. While I thought it was so much fun and enjoyed their various excursions, I couldn't imagine doing that to my best friend. If I visited Ireland for my best friend's wedding, I imagine she would be waiting for me to arrive and postponing it to tour with a boy seems really self-centered. I know why Doller did this from a story telling standpoint, but it still seemed really kind of rude to me.

Nonetheless, Off the Map is a fun frolic through Ireland, a destination I never get tired reading about. I recommend it to fans of romance who love a good road trip. So, are you a fan of Trish Doller's novels? Is this one on your TBR list? Let me know in the comments below.   

 

 
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