Today, I'm discussing one of the most controversial thrillers: Behind Her Eyes.
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
Louise is a single mom stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she’s thrilled she's finally connected with someone.
When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David. The man from the bar. The very married man from the bar…who says the kiss was a terrible mistake but who still can’t keep his eyes off Louise.
And then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend. The only problem? She just so happens to be married to David.
The pair look like the picture-perfect couple, but soon, Louise can't help but notice David's need for control over Adele.
As Louise is drawn into the pair's orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong, but Louise can’t guess how wrong―and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets.
I debated whether or not to pick up Pinborough's Behind Her Eyes since her release of Cross Her Heart. Unlike most readers, who read BHE before reading CHH, I did things the other way around. This didn't alter my expectations but it did make me wonder exactly what I was dealing with this time around. And after finishing this highly controversial book, I can honestly say that I don't think anything could've prepared me for the journey that is Behind Her Eyes.
I'd like to start off by saying that Pinborough's writing style is absolutely splendid. Her stories manage to captivate from the very first page in a way that has nothing to do with the characters or the storyline itself and everything to do with her simple ability to compel an audience.
However, in regards to the narrative itself, it's too difficult (for me at least) to set aside the fact that the plot is so incredibly far-fetched and unlikely. While there are hundreds of readers that are completely okay with setting logic aside and suspending their disbelief for the sake of a story, I'm not that person. Because of this (and don't worry, I won't spoil the story), I can only simply say that while I did enjoy Pinborough's novel, I didn't love it.
Aside from the problem I have with the plot and ending, I also didn't love any of the characters. Each of the protagonists was either manipulative or deceptive, which in turn, made the cast (as a whole) quite unlikable.
Despite these shortcomings, I really did enjoy Pinborough's Behind Her Eyes. I wouldn't exactly recommend it to my fellow thriller junkies, but if you are on the fence and what to check it out for yourself, go for it!
Have you read this controversial mystery? Come chat with me.
Today, I'm discussing Helen Hoang's long-awaited novel: The Bride Test.
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
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.
With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.
The Bride Test is a quick and easy read. It's the kind of romance that readers pick up when they're looking for something light--a palate cleanser of sorts. But it's not the kind or romance story that is memorable or all-consuming.
Unlike The Kiss Quotient, which is wonderful due to its originality and captivating set of characters, The Bride Test is simply a fine read. Despite Hoang's splendid writing style, the storyline and the characters aren't particularly notable.
While this is an okay love story, I wouldn't recommend it to my fellow readers. Nonetheless, if you have read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Send me a message on Instagram @theazereads or simply leave a comment down below.
Welcome back bibliophiles
Today, I'll be discussing Book of the Month pick Before She Knew Him.
Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson
Hen and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Hen (short for Henrietta) is an illustrator and works out of a studio nearby, and has found the right meds to control her bipolar disorder. Finally, she’s found some stability and peace.
But when they meet the neighbors next door, that calm begins to erode as she spots a familiar object displayed on the husband’s office shelf. The sports trophy looks exactly like one that went missing from the home of a young man who was killed two years ago. Hen knows because she’s long had a fascination with this unsolved murder—an obsession she doesn’t talk about anymore, but can’t fully shake either.
Could her neighbor, Matthew, be a killer? Or is this the beginning of another psychotic episode like the one she suffered back in college, when she became so consumed with proving a fellow student guilty that she ended up hurting a classmate?
The more Hen observes Matthew, the more she suspects he’s planning something truly terrifying. Yet no one will believe her. Then one night, when she comes face to face with Matthew in a dark parking lot, she realizes that he knows she’s been watching him, that she’s really on to him. And that this is the beginning of a horrifying nightmare she may not live to escape...
After hearing great things, I was excited to choose Swanson's latest as my Book of the Month pick. Unfortunately, this one was a miss for me.
Despite Before She Knew Him not being a standout novel, it's important to note that Peter Swanson's writing is wonderful. The story may have lacked a cast of intriguing, likable characters and an exciting storyline, but Swanson's writing did not fail to be both colorful and concise. His fast pace and word choice kept me reading until the very end.
Sadly, the novel lacked suspense and mystery--it gave up too much too soon which resulted in the missing element of surprise. While some readers did enjoy the twist featured towards the end of the novel, it's one that has been done too many times before.
Aside from this, the cast was filled with unlikable, untrustworthy characters. Each was either a liar, cheater, or simply unreliable.
Altogether, these combined components made it difficult to connect with the story and the cast. Because of this, I wouldn't recommend this novel to fellow thriller readers.
Have you read Before She Knew Him? I'd love to hear your thoughts on Swanson's latest release.
Today, I'm discussing another Hercule Poirot case: After the Funeral.
After the Funeral (Funerals are Fatal) Hercule Poirot #29 by Agatha Christie
When Cora is savagely murdered with a hatchet, the extraordinary remark she made the previous day at her brother Richard's funeral suddenly takes on a chilling significance. Just hours earlier, Cora was heard saying: "It's been hushed up very nicely... He was murdered, wasn't he?"
Now, nothing makes sense, and the family's solicitor has no choice but to turn to Hercule Poirot for help.
This Hercule Poirot mystery is one of the most difficult to review.
On one hand, the storyline is extremely captivating. The ending also makes this one of the most memorable novels that Christie has ever written. However, the slow pace of the narrative accompanied by the underdeveloped cast of characters takes away a lot from this novel.
Despite having the potential to be one of the author's best, After the Funeral lacks Christie's traditional sense of "whodunnit." Because the story focuses more on whether or not a crime was committed and less on who actually committed the crime, readers don't really get the chance to get to know the characters. This not only takes away from the eerie and dangerous aspect of the plot, it also makes it difficult for audience members to draw their own conclusions.
In spite of these contradicting elements, After the Funeral is a wonderful mystery. While it's not Christie's best, it should definitely be added to your "want to read" list.
Have you read this Hercule Poirot mystery?
Today, I'm discussing one of Liza Palmer's most successful novels: Conversations with the Fat Girl.
A big thanks to Forever publishing for my free copy.
Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer
Everyone seems to be getting on with their lives except Maggie. At twenty-seven, she's still serving coffee at Joe's while her friends are getting married, having babies, and thriving in their careers. And now Olivia, Maggie's best friend since grade school, is getting married too. The man in Maggie's life? Well there isn't one, except the guy she has a crush on, Domenic, who works with her at the coffee shop. Oh, and her dog, Solo (the name says it all).
When Olivia comes to town and asks Maggie to be her maid of honor, Maggie is thrilled... but she can't help comparing herself to the new and "improved" Olivia. Way back then, they befriended each other because they both struggled with their weight. Now grown up, Maggie is still shopping in the "women's section" while Olivia went and had gastric-bypass surgery in search of the elusive size 2. But as the wedding nears, Olivia's seemingly perfect life starts to unravel, and Maggie realizes that happiness might not be tied to a number on the scale.
Liza Palmer's upcoming rerelease is the story of 27-year-old Maggie--a young woman who has battled low self-esteem for as long as she could remember.
Maggie and her best friend Olivia grew up trying their hardest to make themselves invisible. They were sure that if they could not be seen, they could not be bullied. Now, Maggie and Olivia are in their late twenties. While Maggie is still battling the same issues, Olivia is down to a size 2 and living the life she always wanted: hanging with a group of thin, gorgeous women; marrying an intelligent man; and throwing the picture-perfect wedding. The only problem? Olivia is no longer the Olivia Maggie once knew.
Conversations with the Fat Girl is an interesting story. The writing is captivating, the plot is relatable, and the characters are authentic and vibrant. Palmer's novel is full of potential. The narrative is filled with powerful messages and lessons that are sure to resonate with hundreds of readers.
Unfortunately, the short anecdotes throughout the novel and Maggie's unlikable personality make it difficult for readers to make a strong connection with the story. Nonetheless, Palmer's shocking and empowering ending saves the story and makes Conversations with the Fat Girl worthwhile.
This rerelease will be hitting the shelves August 6th. Have you read Conversations with the Fat Girl? Will you be picking up a copy?
Today, I'm discussing one of my most anticipated romance reads of 2019: Meet Cute.
A huge thanks to Forever Publishing for my free copy.
Meet Cute by Helena Hunting
On her first day of law school, Kailyn ran--quite literally--into the actor she crushed on as a teenager, ending with him sprawled on top of her. Mortified to discover that the Daxton Hughes was also a student in her class, her embarrassment over their meet-cute quickly turned into a friendship she never expected. Unfortunately, she never saw his betrayal coming either...
Now, eight years later, Dax is in her office asking for legal advice. Despite her anger, Kailyn can't help feeling sorry for the devastated man who just became sole guardian to his thirteen-year-old sister. But when her boss gets wind of Kailyn's new celebrity client, there's even more at stake than Dax's custody issues: if she gets Dax to work at their firm, she'll be promoted to partner.
The more time Kailyn spends with Dax and his sister, the more she starts to feel like a family, and the more she realizes the chemistry they had all those years ago is as fresh as ever.
Will they be able to forgive the mistakes of the past, or will one betrayal lead to another?
Helena Hunting's latest novel is as captivating as expected.
This complex romance follows the story of Daxton Hughes and Kailyn Flowers--who once frenemies, are reunited when a tragic accident occurs.
Meet Cute is wonderful because it's a real-life romance. Unlike other love stories which often set impossible and unrealistic standards, Hunting's latest novel shows that while love is beautiful, it almost always turns up at the most inconvenient times.
Daxton and Kailyn are two people who are figuring out their life. Dax is dealing with loss while Kailyn is figuring out how to land her dream job. Their feelings for each other are complicated and could not have come up at a more difficult time, but despite it all, the pair is eager to make it work. For this reason, Meet Cute is a must read for fans of romance. Helena Hunting's latest features the elements of fate and romance while also being authentic.
If you have not purchased a copy, do so soon.
Have you read Meet Cute?
Hey there bookworms
Today, I'll be discussing one of my favorite romances of 2019.
A BIG thank you to Forever Publishing for my free copy. The Friend Zone will be available on June 11th!
The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
Kristen Petersen doesn't do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don't get her. She's also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.
Planning her best friend's wedding is bittersweet for Kristen--especially when she meets the best man, Joshua Copeland. He's funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he'd be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it's harder and harder to keep him at arm's length.
The Friend Zone just might be one of my favorite reads of 2019. Abby Jimenez's debut novel is compelling, comical, and heartbreaking.
As previously mentioned, this book follows the story of Kristen Petersen and Joshua Copeland--two of the most genuine and candid characters featured in a work of romance. Kristen is witty, funny, and unapologetic. While Joshua is strong, determined, and big-hearted. Together, the pair is absolutely captivating.
Despite The Friend Zone being the author's first novel, Jimenez managed to create a wonderful narrative filled with both delight and heartbreak. Readers can expect to laugh-out-loud and even shed a tear or two.
This book is the perfect pick for readers who enjoyed Jojo Moyes' Me Before You or Christina Lauren's Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating.
Will you be picking up a copy of The Friend Zone? Have you read it already? Chat with me in the comments below or send me a message on Instagram!
Today, I'll be discussing one of Agatha Christie's earlier novels: The Seven Dials Mystery.
The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie
Gerry Wade had proved himself to be a champion sleeper, so the other houseguests decided to play a practical joke on him. Eight alarm clocks were set to go off, one after the other, starting at 6:30 a.m. But when morning arrived, one clock was missing and it was evident that the prank had backfired with tragic consequences.
The Seven Dials Mystery might be my least favorite Christie novel (up to date).
At first glance, the storyline seems captivating. Unfortunately, this isn't the case.
Despite the novel beginning with the murder of Gerry Wade, the focus of the story shifts--making it less entertaining and quite confusing for the audience. The novel features a handful of twists that are meant to keep readers on their toes but instead result in disapproval and displeasure. By the time the mystery is solved, the story can only be described as anticlimactic.
Not much can be said without spoiling the story, so I'll keep it short. If you enjoyed The Secret of Chimneys, you may like The Seven Dials Mystery. I recommend skipping it nonetheless.
Have you read The Seven Dials Mystery?
Hello fellow bookworms
Today, I'm back with an Agatha Christie mystery...
Towards Zero by Agatha Christie
Lady Tressilian, an elderly woman confined to her bed, has invited several guests to her seaside home at the end of the summer. Guest Nevile Strange, incurs her displeasure by inviting both his current and former wife, thus causing awkward misunderstandings and tension between the group.
But events soon turn when Lady Tressilian is killed and Superintendent Battle finds himself in a labyrinthine maze of clues and deception.
What reason could someone have of killing the old woman? Could it have been greed or jealousy, or is something much sinister at bay?
Towards Zero is one of Christie's fine novels. Nonetheless, it can't be described as great or stand out. Despite being enjoyable, the novel lacks a memorable cast of characters and a unique storyline. Because of this, the book is great for readers who are looking for a quick and easy read but not for those trying out the author's works.
Like in other Christie stories, the novel is set at the home of a very wealthy host. The host is found dead, and soon, every guest and employee is a suspect. At first, the narrative is interesting because it makes readers wonder who would gain from the victim's death. Unfortunately, the outcome becomes predictable in the early stages of the mystery.
For avid readers of Agatha Christie, this is a good pick. However, if you're not very familiar with her stories, it's best to opt for a different mystery.
Have you read Towards Zero? Chat with me!
Today, I'm discussing Colleen Hoover fan favorite Maybe Someday.
Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover
At twenty-two years old, Sydney has a great life: She's in college; working a steady job; in love with her wonderful boyfriend, Hunter; and rooming with her best friend, Tori. But everything changes when she discovers that Hunter is cheating on her--and she is left trying to decide what to do next.
Soon, Sydney becomes captivated by Ridge, her mysterious neighbor. She can't take her eyes off him or stop listening to the passionate way he plays his guitar every evening out on his balcony. And there's something about Sydney that Ridge can't ignore, either.
Finally, when their inevitable encounter happens, they soon find themselves needing each other in more ways than one...
While I understand why people would really enjoy this book, I can't seem to love Hoover's work.
A couple of weeks ago, I read It Ends with Us. And now, after finishing Maybe Someday--one of Hoover's most talked about novels--I've come to terms with the fact that her books might just not be for me.
Despite enjoying the author's writing style, I have a hard time connecting with her storylines and characters. Maybe Someday for example, features a really dramatic storyline and very unlikeable characters.
As much as I want to love Hoover's stories, my inability to connect with them makes it really difficult. Because of this, I'm coming to you all for help. If there's any Colleen Hoover book you think I might enjoy, send me a message on Instagram or comment down below!
In the meantime, I'll be checking out other romances.
Have you read Maybe Someday?
Today, I'll be discussing My Favorite Half-Night Stand.
My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren
Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is very single.
So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.
But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship...but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.
Can Christina Lauren do any wrong? This duo has written wonderful novels: Josh and Hazel, Roomies, and Love and Other Words. My Favorite Half-Night Stand is no exception.
Along with Josh and Hazel, Half-Night Stand is one of my C.L. favorites.
The greatest thing about this novel is that the characters, storyline, and writing are equally wonderful.
The protagonists, Millie and Reid, are complex and real. But the supporting cast adds a lighthearted element. Chris, Ed, and Alex are funny and genuine. Like Millie and Reid, they have flaws and insecurities. However, it's their strengths--their loyalty and compassion--that makes them memorable characters.
The plot of My Favorite Half-Night Stand is especially splendid. It very accurately represents dating in the 21st century: dating apps, awkward dates, and the occasional catfish. Though the story can be a bit predictable and cliche, it's impossible not to enjoy it.
Additionally, C.L.'s writing is as captivating as always. It's eloquent but also concise and easy to understand.
Altogether, My Favorite Half-Night Stand is a marvelous novel and a great pick for fans of romance.
Have you read this C.L. novel? Chat with me below or on social media.
Today, I'll be discussing 2018 fan-favorite The Kiss Quotient.
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases—a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.
It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice—with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan—from foreplay to more-than-missionary position...
Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he's making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic...
There's a reason The Kiss Quotient is an award-winning fan favorite... this book is a must for readers of romance.
Hoang's debut novel is delightful... It's humorous, insightful, and absolutely genuine.
The narrative tells the story of protagonists Stella Lane and Michael Phan. Michael is an escort; Stella is an econometrician. And when they're together, all the things they thought they were sure of become blurred. Michael gets Stella to crave physical touch; Stella gets Michael to feel things he's never felt before. Before long, all their rules go out the window.
This novel has many amazing qualities. The storyline is refreshing, the writing is superb, and the characters are simply enchanting.
There isn't much else to say except pick up a copy of The Kiss Quotient asap!
Did you enjoy Hoang's debut novel? Will you be reading The Bride Test?
Welcome back readers
Today, I'll be discussing Christina Lauren's Roomies.
Roomies by Christina Lauren
For months Holland Bakker has invented excuses to descend into the subway station near her apartment, drawn to the captivating music performed by her street musician crush. Lacking the nerve to talk to the gorgeous stranger, fate steps in one night in the form of a drunken attacker. Calvin Mcloughlin rescues her, but quickly disappears when the police start asking questions.
Using the only resource she has to pay the brilliant musician back, Holland gets Calvin an audition with her uncle, Broadway’s hottest musical director. When the tryout goes better than Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until his reason for disappearing earlier becomes clear: he’s in the country illegally, his student visa having expired years ago.
Seeing that her uncle needs Calvin as much as Calvin needs him, a wild idea takes hold of her. Impulsively, she marries the Irishman, her infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves and Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway—in the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting—will Holland and Calvin realize that they both stopped pretending a long ago?
Roomies, one of Christina Lauren's most popular novels, is a fun and unique love story that takes place in New York City. Unlike Love and Other Words, which is a heavy romance, Roomies is lighthearted and comical.
The novel follows the story of characters Holland Bakker and Calvin Mcloughlin--two individuals who are struggling to accomplish their dreams. The pair agree to get married for the sake of Calvin's big break, but soon, start having very real feelings regarding their fake marriage.
Despite the great cast of characters, this book is special for its storyline. Lauren creates a narrative that shows the lengths people go to achieve their dreams. It's a wonderful reminder that while things may not always go according to plan, it's important to never give up.
This novel is a good pick for readers who are looking for a light and fun romance.
Have you read Roomies? Comment below or chat with me on social media.
Hello! Welcome back.
Today, I'm discussing my first Colleen Hoover: It Ends with Us.
It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
Lily has never had it easy, but that hasn't stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up—she's graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything suddenly seems too good to be true.
Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. But he’s also sensitive and brilliant. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him this way in the first place.
As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan—her first love and link to the life she's left behind. Atlas was her kindred spirit and protector. So when he reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is suddenly threatened.
Colleen Hoover is a wonderful creator and writer. This novel may be a love story, but it's so much more than that. It Ends with Us tells a story of violence and pain but also one of compassion and kindness. It also shows a true depiction of domestic violence.
Hoover's writing is enchanting, but like in so many other novels, it's the characters that make this a memorable story. With the change in timeline from the past to the present, readers have the chance to learn about Lily--her thoughts, fears, and dreams. This also makes her interactions with characters such as her mom, Ryle, and Atlas, more captivating.
While this is a fine read, it's important to remember that it features mature content. It Ends with Us tackles difficult topics which may not be for everyone.
Have you read It Ends with Us? Chat with me below or on Instagram!
Hey there book lovers
Today, I'm discussing Sarah Knight's The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck.
The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight
Are you stressed out and exhausted? Are you fed up with pleasing everyone else instead of yourself? Then, it's time to stop giving a f*ck.
This practical parody of Marie Kondo's bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up explains how to rid yourself of unwanted obligations, shame, and guilt in order to start caring about the people and things that make you happy.
Sarah Knight's The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck is a fun twist on Marie Kondo's bestselling novel. And in many ways, it's also more intriguing and engaging.
However, despite Knight's unique perspective, this read isn't as helpful as her other novel Calm the F*ck Down. While The Life-Changing Magic is simply a fine read, Calm the F*ck Down's guide is genuinely useful. Despite offering a couple of tips, this book is repetitive and not exactly applicable. Because of this, I would suggest skipping this one and checking out Knight's other works.
Have you read The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck? Share your thoughts below or reach me on social media!
Today, I'm back with another Christina Lauren novel: Love and Other Words.
Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren
Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious and emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident; plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man; keep her head down; and heart tucked away. But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to disappear.
A long time ago, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother...only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.
Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.
Christina Lauren is truly phenomenal. Like Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating, Love and Other Words is heartwarming and captivating. C.L.'s writing is remarkable, but it's the characters that make this story brilliant and unforgettable.
Through the protagonists, the authors manage to create and develop a narrative that is engaging, genuine, and relatable. Macy and Elliot are real characters, who like many of us, have gone through ordeals that have shaped them, their actions, and their relationships.
Like many, Macy protects her heart by keeping partners at arm's length, while Elliot protects himself from heartbreak by giving other women only a small part of himself. These characters hurt, love, laugh. They remind readers that relationships are hard work, but that sometimes, they're worth it.
Love and Other Words is a great pick for any reader of romance and fans of character-based novels.
Have you read Love and Other Words or C.L.'s other novels? Chat with me!
Today, I'll be discussing Dublin Murder Squad mystery The Trespasser.
The Trespasser (Dublin Murder Squad #6) by Tana French
Being on the Murder Squad is nothing like Detective Antoinette Conway dreamed it would be. Her partner, Stephen Moran, is the only person who seems glad she’s there. The rest of her working life is a stream of thankless cases, vicious pranks, and harassment. Antoinette is savagely tough, but she’s getting close to the breaking point.
Their new case looks like yet another lovers’ quarrel gone bad. Aislinn Murray is blonde, pretty, groomed-to-a-shine, and dead in her catalog-perfect living room, next to a table set for a romantic dinner. There’s nothing unusual about her—except that Antoinette’s seen her somewhere before.
The squad is pushing Antoinette and Steve into arresting Aislinn’s boyfriend, fast. But Aislinnʼs friend is hinting that she knew Aislinn was in danger.
Antoinette knows the harassment she's experienced has turned her paranoid, but she can’t tell just how far gone she is. Is this case another step in the campaign to force her off the squad, or are there darker currents flowing beneath its polished surface?
French's The Trespasser is (so far) my least favorite Dublin Murder Squad mystery. Nonetheless, I haven't picked up The Likeness or Into the Woods.
While this pick has a captivating storyline, the narrative itself lacks thrill. The Trespasser has the potential to be an enchanting story but is unfortunately dull and uneventful.
The reason for this is actually the cast of characters. Despite The Secret Place also featuring Moran and Conway, they're a lot less likable in this novel. While Moran has a smaller role in this mystery, Conway remains paranoid and problematic--surprisingly even more than before. The other characters are just as uninteresting. The squad is untrustworthy, the victim is deceitful, and almost every other character is opportunistic.
Despite this, the mystery is just intriguing enough to keep reading.
While I would recommend French's other Dublin Murder Squad mysteries, I suggest skipping this one.
Have you read The Trespasser? Chat with me!
Today, I'm discussing a Christina Lauren favorite, Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating.
Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
Hazel Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.
Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him a bold email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.
Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?
Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating was my first time reading Christina Lauren, but it certainly won't be the last.
This is a fun and quirky love story that features captivating characters and a delightful storyline. Lauren's narrative is lighthearted, engaging, and enchanting.
The novel starts off by depicting the contrasting personalities of Hazel Bradford and Josh Im. But as the tale progresses, the unexpected pair of friends grow closer as their string of double blind dates go horribly wrong.
This comical novel is sure to stay with readers. Hazel and Josh are not only authentic, they're unforgettable.
This Lauren fan favorite is a great pick for readers who loved Jojo Moyes' Me Before You. Have you picked up Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.
Today, I'm discussing Mary H.K. Choi's Emergency Contact
Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college to learn how to become a writer, it’s 79 miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.
Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for the future, but right now, the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.
When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.
Emergency Contact is a book with great potential.
The writing is concise and captivating, the characters are somewhat intriguing, and the storyline is fun and unique. Unfortunately, Choi only manages to scratch the surface of what this novel could've been.
Despite having good ideas, the author doesn't develop the narrative, the characters, or the protagonists' relationship. While Penny and Sam have an interesting dynamic, their relationship does not evolve enough to make this a memorable story--let alone a romance.
As a matter of fact, Emergency Contact falls quite flat. In spite of the writing being delightful, the actual narrative is unimpressive.
Because of this, I wouldn't recommend this novel to fellow readers.
Have you read Emergency Contact? Come chat with me!
Today, I'll be discussing Sarah Knight's Calm the F*ck Down.
Calm the F*ck Down by Sarah Knight
Do you spend more time worrying about problems than solving them? Do you let unexpected difficulties ruin your day? Do "what ifs" keep you up at night?
Sounds like you need to calm the f*ck down...
Whether you're stressed about sh*t that hasn't happened yet or are freaked out about sh*t that already has, "anti-guru" Sarah Knight is here to help you curb the anxiety and overthinking that's making everything worse.
I am giving all the stars to the potty mouth genius that is Sarah Knight. Seriously can't remember the last time I laughed-out-loud this much while reading a book.
I normally don't pick up self-help novels, but those who know me know that I'm a sucker for profanity, jokes, and Friends references.
Calm the F*ck Down is hilarious, refreshing, and fun. But more importantly, it's relatable and genuinely helpful. I have never really believed in self-help books, but something told me to give Knight a chance. I'm so happy I did.
Knight not only offers advice in her novel, she also includes exercises that help readers help themselves. My worrying isn't 100% gone, but I can say that it's not as drastic and irrational as it was prior to reading this piece.
Calm the F*ck Down is a great pick for several reasons. Aside from being relatable and engaging, it's a quick read and easy to follow/understand.
I recommend this book to my fellow worriers... I'll be checking out The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck next.
Today, I'll be discussing Samantha Young's 2018 release, Fight or Flight.
Fight or Flight by Samantha Young
The universe is conspiring against Ava Breevort. As if flying back to Phoenix to bury her childhood friend isn't hell enough, her flight back home to Boston has been cancelled. In a last attempt to salvage what's left of her trip, Ava tries to get a seat on the next connecting flight. But her hopes to get a first class seat are crushed by arrogant Scotsman, Caleb Scott--who's taken the last spot.
Over the course of their journey home, their antagonism somehow lands them in bed for a steamy and unforgettable layover. And that's all it is... until Caleb shows up on Ava's doorstep in Boston days later.
When fate brings the pair back together, Caleb proposes they enjoy their physical connection while he's stranded in the city. Ava agrees, but not long after, realizes she's made a terrible mistake. For Caleb Scott isn't as unlikeable as she once thought...
Samantha Young's Fight or Flight is the tale of a peculiar and unexpected romance between Caleb Scott and Ava Breevort.
Young's latest is a light narrative focused on intimacy, friendship, chance, and creating your own destiny. Fight or Flight is enjoyable despite being unshockingly predictable. And additionally, the featured cast is authentic and relatable.
Despite this, Young's novel bears a similar resemblance to 2016 bestseller The Hating Game in which the characters "hate each other" but don't actually hate each other. Unlike Sally Thorne who does a good job of keeping the plot interesting, Young's Fight or Flight is repetitive, corny, and even irritating at times.
Although Fight or Flight is a solid piece, I recommend skipping it. There are several other novels with the "I don't actually hate you" trope (The Hating Game for example) that do a far better job of keeping readers entertained and interested.
Have you read Fight or Flight? Share your thoughts in the comments or on Instagram!
Hey there bibliophiles!
Today, I'm discussing New York Times bestseller Eleanor and Park.
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
This is the story of two young teens in love.
Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.
Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep her promises...Park.
Love almost never lasts. Is it worth giving someone else your all?
Eleanor and Park is the heartwarming story of two young kids against the world. With an all too real storyline and a lovable and vivid set of characters, Rainbow Rowell manages to create a narrative that steals the heart of hundreds of readers.
This novel is a great pick for young teens. It's hopeful but real, and it's intense and heartbreaking—all the emotions involved in an adolescent's first romance.
Despite the wonderful narrative and genuine cast, there is no doubt that this novel is especially designed and written for the younger demographic. Eleanor and Park is a wonderful story, but is likely too childlike for readers in their twenties—as it is especially tailored for children in middle and high school.
If you are over the age of 18 and are looking for a romance, consider picking up a more mature novel. This book is not an ideal pick for adults.
Have you read Eleanor and Park? Share your thoughts with me below or on social media!
Hey there readers!
Today, I'm discussing 2018 Pulitzer Prize winner, Less.
Less by Andrew Sean Greer
Who says you can't run away from your problems? You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can't say yes--it would be too awkward. And you can't say no--it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world.
How do you arrange to skip town? You accept them all.
What could possibly go wrong?
Greer's latest is a story unlike any other. Less is a tale of adventure and self discover, but it's also one of pain and love. The protagonist of the novel, Arthur Less, is a man who's struggled with emotions and relationships for a large portion of his life. And when the man he loves is said to get married, Less does everything in his power to avoid this confrontation: he flees.
This novel is beloved and moving because it's authentic and relatable. Many of Greer's readers have experienced heartbreak, but even more so, many of Greer's readers have felt lost and unfulfilled.
Less is a great piece because it's hopeful, heartwarming, and real. But despite this, Greer's writing style isn't for everyone. Although the storyline is refreshing, the author's diction makes the book tedious a lot of time. Because of this, I'd only recommend this novel to readers who enjoy a flowery writing style.
Have you read this Pulitzer Prize winner? Leave your thoughts below or send me a message on social media.
Today, I'll be discussing Goodreads Choice 2018 winner: The Witch Doesn't Burn in This One.
The Witch Doesn't Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace
The witch: supernaturally powerful, inscrutably independent, and now—indestructible. Lovelace's collection encourages resilience and emboldens women to take control of their own stories. Enemies try to judge, oppress, and marginalize her, but the witch doesn’t burn in this one.
As it turns out, I'm in the minority with this one. In the name of honesty, I ask you all to bear with me.
I have A LOT of complaints about this one. For starters, let's talk about how this piece is considered "poetry." If you've picked up Lovelace's The Witch Doesn't Burn in This One and have also picked up other works in the poetry genre, you may agree with me when I say that this is NOT poetry. Throughout the piece, Lovelace shares several messages with readers. On some pages it's 5 words, on others it's a sentence or two. Regardless, the writing, structure, and messages conveyed are evidence that while this is an expression of the writer's emotions, it should not be classified under the poetry genre. (Let's not even discuss the fact that the collection won a Goodreads award under this category.)
Another reason I have a problem with The Witch Doesn't Burn in This One is that it's both badly written and incredibly repetitive. Every single message reads like the last, and because of this, the book quickly becomes dull and monotonous.
The biggest issue I have with this piece is that while some messages can be considered empowering, there are many that just appear bitter and resentful towards the entire male gender. While it's important as a woman to support other women, it's also important to remember that not all men are horrible and untrustworthy.
Because of Lovelace's generalizations, tone, and writing, I'd suggest skipping The Witch Doesn't Burn in This One and checking out other picks in women's literature and the poetry genre.
What do you think? Send me a message with your thoughts!
Welcome back readers!
Today, I'm discussing Veronica Henry's How to Find Love in a Bookshop.
How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry
Emilia has just returned to her hometown to rescue her father's business. Nightingale Books is a dream come true for book lovers. But the best stories aren't just within the pages of the books—the shop's customers have their own tales to tell.
There's the lady of the manor who is hiding a secret close to her heart; the single dad looking for books to share with his son but who isn't quite what he seems; and the shy chef trying to find the courage to talk to the man of her dreams. Meanwhile, Emilia is desperately trying to mourn her father while keeping the promise she made to her father. Will she succeed in saving Nightingale Books?
Everyone in this town has a story... will they get the happy ending they're looking for?
Veronica Henry's How to Find Love in a Bookshop is a heartwarming tale of community, love, and loss. The storyline is light yet moving, and the characters are genuine and charming.
Despite this, How to Find Love in a Bookshop isn't for everyone. Although the plot of the novel is delightful and enticing, Henry's writing style and the pace of events make the story appear a bit slow and tiresome. While this may not be an issue or even evident to some audience members, to readers who enjoy books with a fast and exciting pace, How to Find Love in a Bookshop may be uninteresting.
Nonetheless, Henry's beloved tale is a must read for fans of contemporary fiction and romcoms such as You've Got Mail and Love Actually.
Have you read How to Find Love in a Bookshop? Leave your thoughts down below or message me on Instagram!