GENRE: Historical Fiction, Magic Realism
We’re they Greeks? Turks? They were islanders… like us.
I think this may have dethroned “Book Lovers” by Emily Henry as my favourite book of 2022; and with end of the year looming, I can say that with confidence. I approached this book with uncertainty and caution. There is a 400 dark history between Greeks and Turks. Formerly the Ottoman Empire, occupying and enslaving the Greeks, and its history is still felt to this day, especially on the island of Cyprus. Whenever I read something from Turkish creators, often times it is portrayed in a way that lies about the history, or glorifies what was done to Greece… I was so surprised and happy to read how Elif Shafak addressed the conflict, the people and the island itself; never really blaming one side of the other, but rather focusing on what unites the people. It is an idea that I have often held to heart of people not being their governments. The Turkish people are not their government or the choices that government has made. We are similar peoples, with shared traditions, shared foods, desserts, etc. and this story very much reflected the people themselves within a tremendous and sad conflict.
The story had so many layers to it that it is hard to break it down. I loved the stories of love and perseverance. Whether is be the love between Yussef and Giorgio; Defne and Kostas or the love of a Ficus carica (a fig tree). I loved the narration, either from the perspective of young Ada Kazantzakis or the Fig Tree herself. I loved how history was intertwined within the story. I loved how nature was alive and played an active roll in their lives; moving the story along in ways one might not have ever thought… Elif Shafak is an exceptional writer and story teller.
***Some Spoilers Below***
Not only that, but the story itself felt so deeply personal to me. There were so many details that I related to, although I doubt Shafak meant those things to be… like Kostas’ mother (Ada’s Grandmother) being named Panaghiota, how tough and resilient the woman was, and how she too, like my own grandmother Panaghiota, died of cancer… How she stayed tough til the very end, and not wanting to let those around her even know she had cancer… I miss my giagia so much, and this story, so similar to her own, left me feeling touched. Obviously, Shafak did not write this FOR me and my grandmother, she does not know us and probably never will; but it does feel like the universe almost gave me this. A small gift, just for me.
***End of Spoilers***
The Island of Missing Trees, left me with so many memorable quotes, and so many feelings, I am writing out this review and all I want to do is sit with these feelings. Someday this pain will be useful to you. I am in awe of this book, this story. If you are looking for a story to move you, this is a great choice.
NOTE: This novel took me quite a long time to get through, it is a very slow read, and at times I found myself not quite understanding WHY there were certain details and at times found myself to be a little bored… Understand that there is a reason for this, and I promise it all makes sense in the end.
GENRE: RomCom, Plus Size, Holiday
SPICE: 4/5 - lots of sex but nothing k*nky
Heaven, Hell or Vermont?
So prior to writing my own review, after excitedly finishing this book, I mistakenly decided to go through Goodreads and see what others had said about this novel. This book, like every book, is not for everyone. If you watch Dumplin’ on Netflix and didn’t relate, understand or appreciate the film, you quite likely will not love this book as much as I did… which to be clear I ABSOLUTELY loved. I am really stingy on what books get 5 stars, and maybe because December is a happy month and my last 3 books have been 5-stars, maybe I am wrong… but I quite doubt it.
Conceptually this novel is amazing. The premise is original and hilarious. How would you feel if your favourite boy-band hunk you’ve been crushing on since your teens is now your co-star on a Hallmark-esk film set? How would you feel if that crush had been subscribed to your “Only Fans” (its got another name in the book) for the last 6 years and has a crush on you? That you mistakenly get selected to be the lead in this wholesome Christmas movie and have to hide that you have a very successful film career already! A porn film career that is! This novel really straddled the line between unrealistic Hallmark-wholesome and realistic and down to earth, which is very hard to do.
Let’s talk about the characters. Firstly, Nolan, our hunky ex-boyband now turned new-wholesome-film-star was a great character filled with depth and understanding. One of my primary issues when reading novels with male perspectives is that sometimes men don’t feel like men. What I mean by this is, that the women writing the novels are writing what women want without really keeping in mind generally how men are. What I mean by this is, at times, considering the men I have in my life and the things they say, the thoughts they share, etc. it will at times feel like something this character wouldn’t REALLY say but rather what the reader/author would WANT them to say. I am not sure if that makes sense, but I will carry on. I do see some criticism about how Nolan’s character describes his love interest Bee, and his sexual thoughts. I think all criticism is fair but I love when my partner and I talk to each other and “objectify” one and other. In Nolan’s context, it isn’t creepy but just a man looking out for the woman he is enamored with.
Bree’s character was perfect. No notes. We love a bisexual, plus size, babe who loves her body and knows what she wants in life and doesn’t take “NO” for an answer. There is a moment in the novel, where Bree is given a big choice, be with the man of her dreams in private or not at all. As a big girl, this is something I have experienced and struggled with before. Often I have found myself in situations where I am told I am beautiful, funny and amazing; that all they want to do is spend time with me, but the moment when it’s time to let people outside of our bubble know… The bubble pops. Gone. And then I am left alone once again, picking up the pieces of myself. This scene in the novel… BROKE ME. I do not want to give anymore away, so I’ll leave it there.
Let’s talk about SPICE baby… So I gave this a 4/5 stars, because while YES Bee is a porn star and there is a significant amount of sex in the novel… There was nothing kinky or triggering about it to give it a 5 star rating. So if you’re ok with mostly vanilla sex and it happening frequently through the novel, there is no need to shy away from this novel. Granted… chapter 13 is… HOT and also… there is a sex scene in a church so if that is something “problematic” for you… you have been warned.
I am not usually someone who reads holiday novels. I actually tried last Christmas to read one, and it remains dust-covered on my TBR, but if you are looking for a nice holiday read to pick up before you’re snowed in for the holidays, I recommend picking up this book.
GENRE: Plus-Size, Witchy, Romance
RELEASE DATE : February 7, 2023
In the second novel featuring the Maxwell sisters, we are focused on Rose, the former Prima now witch-trying-to-find-herself-in-this-really-weird-world, a feeling man of us I think can relate to. If you loved April Asher’s first installment of this series, then you will absolutely adore this one. Especially since it features Damian, the sexy grump veterinarian half-demon. He is so dreamy. I thought I couldn’t like a male lead more than I liked Lincoln in “Not the Witch You Wed” but Damian really ups the ante. He is tough with a big heart running an animal sanctuary. Rose and Damian have such amazing chemistry, it’s almost hard to believe I was reading a book and not watching a film! I would pay my good well-earned money to see these books as a TV series or film series.
Asher does it again with this witchy romance, that not only leaves you utterly satisfied, but wanting more. It is witty, funny and filled with pop-culture and witch references that makes Asher a “instant-read” author for me.
**Note: I received this novel for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
GENRE: Thriller, Fiction, Contemporary
RELEASE DATE: April 11, 2023
Wow this book was just wow.
I just finished reading it but I have to say, this book grips you from the first sentence until the end of the book. I was on the edge the entire time.
“Before all this started, I’d thought that squeezing the life out of someone would be easy. The right amount of pressure on their windpipe and they’d just go limp, like when a kitten suddenly falls asleep. It’s actually nothing like that.”
So the novel really is what it says it is. Kitty is an Instagram influencer who gets a taste for killing men. This book had me in so many conflicting feelings… There were moments where I loved Kitty and routed for her, moments when I was angry with her, moments when I felt so bad for her…. This is a 5 star read. Keeping me gripped into the story and the writing is just phenomenal. I really hate writing reviews for books I absolutely adore, because I really do not want to give anything away because it is just so phenomenal and surprising me at every turn. This book has everything. Murder. Friendship. Love. Feminism. Empowering.
*Note: Please check your triggers before reading this novel because there are A LOT of dark subjects other than murder.*
**Note: I received this novel for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
GENRE: Romance, Contemporary,
RELEASE DATE: February 14, 2023
This was a fun and sexy read. Honestly, I do not want to give more away than that, but the premise of the novel is that Gina and Stone are partnered together on The Dance Off. Basically this is like “Dancing with the Stars”. So if you’re looking for something sexy, and you are a big fan of that show, this novel is definitely for you. Also, Stone? He is a sexy Alaskan, wood chopping reality star. Now I don’t know about you, but I really love those wood chopping videos on Tiktok. Reading this novel, honestly made me feel like I would absolutely love to meet Stone in real life because… damn that is hot.
Here is a quote from the novel I simply CANNOT get out of my mind.
She'd danced the tango countless times, with countless partners. It had never, never been like this.
This was foreplay. He was showing her his intensity, what he was capable of, and what he'd do to her - for her, with her - if she let him.
I loved this book. On February 14, 2023 do yourself a favour and get yourself a copy.
**I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
GENRE: Contemporary, Female Lead, Romance
I really loved reading this book. The premise of the novel, is Sophie, who had left her life in London behind to live with her husband, on his family’s farm. Sophie’s simple farm life comes to a complete halt when she catches him cheating on her with one of his employees. I really loved reading this novel because Sophie was so real and relatable. Firstly, (don’t worry not really a spoiler) her first instinct is to try and make her marriage work. Sometimes when reading stories, the character’s take this “holier-than-though” approach and will be depicted as leaving the cheater, no looking back kinda thing. Which I will admit is bad ass, but very difficult to do in real life. I am super happy that MacLeod decided to talk that approach and have Sophie try and work things out. When they didn’t, Sophie goes back to her parents and tries to rebuild her life. This I also found to be super relatable and wonderful storytelling. There is nothing embarrassing about looking back and going to family for help in time of need. Especially post-pandemic, this is a sentiment I think many can relate to as well. While there is a lot of luck with Sophie’s story, mainly the amount of wealth her parents have and their ability to loan her money, and get her on her feet. I think it is important that Phoebe MacLeod included that aspect in Sophie’s life. While Sophie’s emotions and situation are relatable, the ability to pull oneself together is severely limited without the finances she had access to. With that being said, this was a solid 4-star read, and I recommend to all who may have recently been in a situation where a partner cheated or even a hard break up. This novel is really about finding oneself before being in a relationship, and finding hope and moving forward.
**I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
GENRE: Contemporary, French, Moody
So this book is the shortest novel, that has taken me the longest to read ever. This should have been an afternoon but I couldn’t get through it. It was so hard to read. Growing up in Quebec, the education system here has always been super forced and intolerant. So when I started reading this, it really reminded me of those books. The dialogue isn’t clear, and the progression of the store is anything but linear. It explores many themes, like familial drama, growing up, trauma, relationships, which is not the vibe I was looking for, but that is my fault. Like the novel is called “ I Think My Pain Interests You” - what did I expect? Although… I thought it was going to be a sad breakup book but again, I sometime pick up books without reading the synopsis because I liked to be surprised.
This book is objectively good. Like I know it is. I know the style is good, and it is imaginative and interesting. I know not all stories need to be told in linear ways. I know dialogue doesn’t need to be completed. I know that this is a good novel. I just did not like it.
GENRE: Romance, Enemies-to-Lovers, Plus Size
This novel falls into one of my favourite genres as of late (also perfect for anyone reading for Spooky Season). The series follows three magic witch sisters (The Magic Triad) although this novel specifically focuses on the eldest sister Violet (Points for me already being the eldest sister). She is known throughout the community as the “Magicless Dud”, which is super heartbreaking and sadly why I related to Vi quite a bit. She is the underestimated, overlooked eldest sister. She and ex-Lincoln - the sexy Alpha wolf-shifter - are thrown together to pretend they are dating in order to save them both.
The banter between Linc and Vi is just so well written, that it reads as if one is peering into someone’s real life. I could not get enough of their interactions. If someone were to ask me of an example of my favour type of man to read about, I would point to this novel and excitedly yell Lincoln Throne.
One thing about this novel, that does not necessarily pertain to the story, but rather to April Asher’s writing is the pop culture references that were made throughout the book. From Hocus Pocus to Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Sam and Dean on Supernatural. All references that really tied to my own teenage/adult years; all things that I absolutely loved.
This is a fun read, with a complete and captivating story beyond the romance coupled with a beautiful plus size main character. The perfect read to end your spooky season on a high note. Or honestly, if you love supernatural romances, its a perfect read for any time of the year.
GENRE: Contemporary, Romance, Female Lead
*Note this book was gifted to me by NetGalley in exchange for a honest review*
This was really hard to read if I am being quite honest, and if this hadn’t been a novel I was gifted on NetGalley, I would have surely stopped reading this book 20% in. There were a lot of aspects of this novel that I didn’t enjoy, and not enough that I did.
Firstly, Kate, Julia and Ben are all in their 40s and seem to just be surrounded by single people and are looking to settle down (well our protagonist Kate is). I am 27 years old and i am already feeling the pressure of needing to find someone and settled down since so many of my friends are married and having kids and I am just debating if now is the time to move out of my parents house with a looming recession… How is this 43 year old not surrounded by these things? Other than the wedding mentioned at the beginning of the novel, there are no people around who she interacts with who aren’t single. Everyone is single and that really feels like someone’s early 20s rather than their early 40s. Where is the outside pressure? Your mom or auntie asking you when you’re going to “settle down” and “find someone” and “start a family” … It also feels so unrealistic and just… meh.
Secondly, the novel is set in Saskatchewan which I thought would be dope to see, as someone who is from Montreal, Quebec, I was excited to maybe get a peak of what life is there, since you rarely see novels set in that part of Canada. But honestly it really felt like this could have been set anywhere, I wish that we got more of a glimpse of what living in Saskatchewan was like and maybe mentioning specific places that one may even see when visiting.
Another issue I had, was while the characters were in their 40s, they all acted and spoke like they were in their late 20s and early 30s… it was just out of place to me. Like Kate has a mini crush on her barista, Jesse, and she makes comments about how he’s too young for her, because he’s 13 years younger than her… That would mean she’s 43 and he’s 30! You mean the biggest issue for you is his age, rather than the fact that he is a barista and doesn’t seem to be working towards anything of substance at that age? Like seriously I would understand if she was 33, and he was 20… but the novel doesn’t make sense this way… It really feels like this novel was originally made with 33 in mind and someone pushed the author to make it 43. I think the whole book would have been more tolerable if those were the ages. Especially because the novel was well written.
I also dislike that we have Ben’s perspective included at all in the novel. WE KNOW HE LIKES KATE even just from her perspective even though she is obviously oblivious… But i have to say… it is already frustrating that Kate is already so oblivious but like by 50% into the novel and we haven’t had even like a smidge of sexual tension or like “almost” moments between Ben and Kate… its just… this was such a let down.
I am giving this novel a 2/5 solely because if the novel had been written with a different age in mind I would have rated it higher. (Probably a 3/5). If you read this, please comment and tell me what you think? Perhaps I am too harsh, maybe you can open my eyes to a different perspective.
GENRE: Romance, Witchy, Love-the-Villain
This Witchy Rom-Com was the perfect way to start off my Spooky Season reading list. I have so many feelings, it’s so hard to get anything out that is more than just a happy squawk. I loved this book! It was so much more than I expected and I have to say its going to be a contender for one of my favorite books of 2022. Our main character Reggie, knowns nothing about magic, and responds to an add in the paper to work at her favorite card game, Spellcraft: The Magicking. It is not quite what she thought it was, because she ends up as an “assistant” for an eccentric older witch named Drew. Drew is fun and Reggie quickly takes a liking to her, but her nephew Ben is rude, dark, mysterious and insufferable! But when things go bad, Reggie has to put her feelings towards Ben aside and work together to break the curse set on loveable Drew.
Without giving anything away, Ben is everything I love in a romantic interest. He first comes off as rude and obnoxious but he is ultimately the guy who hates everyone but you. He has a dark past (yeah real skeletons in his closet) and he is grumpy but sunshine Reggie seems to pull him out of it. The novel is narrated by Reggie and Ben, and I honestly felt like Ben’s narration stayed true to his character and his gender expression.
Regardless of what the cover may depict, this book had SPICE! So if you’re looking for a tame Hallmark Rom-Com; then perhaps this isn’t for you. But, if you love rom-coms with spice, falling in love with the villain, and the meant-to-be trope; then pick up this book during this wonderful Spooky Season!