The Plus One
GENRE: Romantic Comedy
SUB-GENRES: Fake dating, Enemies to Lovers, Mental Health
RELEASE DATE: APRIL 4, 2023
"I'm not here to fix you! I'm here to love you!"
I could not put this book down. It is my second 5-star book of the year, and it was so unexpected and wonderful. "The Plus One" by Mazey Eddings is a romance novel that tells the story of two childhood enemies, Jude and Indira. Despite their initial hatred for each other, they end up fake dating, and their relationship grows into something more.
One of the standout aspects of the book is the witty banter between the two characters and how Eddings expertly weaves in emotional moments that tug at the heartstrings. The book tackles deeper issues such as sensory overload and therapy, which adds an extra layer of complexity to the characters. Eddings explores these issues in a sensitive and nuanced way that is both relatable and thought-provoking.
Additionally, Eddings' writing style is engaging and easy to follow, making it a quick and enjoyable read. The characters are well-developed and their chemistry is palpable. Their relationship is not without its challenges, but it's heartwarming to see them work through their issues and grow closer.
Honestly, "The Plus One" is a must-read for me. If you love humor, heart, and spice with well-developed characters and emotional depth. Mazey Eddings has crafted a beautiful love story that will leave readers feeling satisfied and swooning for Jude and Indira. Pick it up at your local bookshop when it comes out April 4th. You won't regret it.
Please note: I received this ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This is my first 5-star read of 2023 and it could not have come sooner! I mean we are 3 months in! Before getting into heavy details let me just name a few elements to entice you: Canadian and Desi representation, Muslim representation, Fake Engagement, a love of bread and Foot Fetish (and surprisingly not in a weird way, who would have thought)
This book was laugh out loud funny and I cannot even describe how much I enjoyed reading this. All I know is having a story set somewhere other than the USA or London was a breath of fresh air, especially with all the Canada references. Also the fact that Reena is almost 30, living in Toronto and the only reason she can afford rent is because her parents own the building she’s living in… and god that's too real. Heron’s book also navigates mental health and immigrant families, which was so relatable, being from an immigrant family myself, living in Montreal. If you have the opportunity to pick up this book; PLEASE DO! You will not regret it.
Getting His Game Back
GENRE: Romance, Contemporary
This novel started off strong, and I want to precise STARTED because sadly it did not end on a high note. I am not sure what it is about the last few books I’ve read, they start off strong but fizzle out and eventually leave me annoyed.
Let me start off with the aspects of this book I thoroughly enjoyed. This romance is between Khalil and Vanessa. It is an interracial relationship. Khalil is a white man of Algerian decent and Vanessa is a black woman building a multimillion dollar company (she’s amazing, I love her). The biggest GREEN FLAG for this story is that Khalil is actually impressive. I read a book last year (I don’t want to slander but I’m sure you can find the review on my blog) where the white male love interest was bland and boring and just unremarkable and the main focus/interest is that he was white. In this case, Khalil has a big heart, owns his own business, helps out in the community and deals with very real issues. Vanessa is beautiful, intelligent and caring, and I really like that she approaches her relationship with Khalil with caution. There are culture differences, and different values when two people of different backgrounds come together and it doesn’t just “magically” work.
Now lets get to the stuff that annoyed me and here is the gentle spoiler warning. I love that the book wanted to touch on mental health. What I did not enjoy is how Khalil handles his mental health. I am tired of men who close themselves off when there are issues (in fiction and in my real life). I really hate when men leave relationships because they cant bare to open up to their partners because its “me-strong-man-you-sensitive-weak-woman.” Like the fact that the entire conflict in the relationship is him shutting her out because “he’s supposed to be strong” is realistic but not what I wanted to read in a romantic novel. Also, the OTHER men in the novel are so passive… like Khalil’s twin doesn’t even tell him what’s going on, and how is life is going to shit until it implodes… Khalil’s bestie AND business partner KNOWS there’s something wrong with Khalil and doesn’t take any action whatsoever until Vanessa reaches out to him and takes on the bulk of the emotional labor? This whole thing about men not wanting to be taken care of emotionally but are totally fine with the physical/having maids is annoying.
I know these are my personal icks and if they don’t bother you, then this may be a book you enjoy more than I did. The writing style and structure of the novel was super on point. It had a great pace.
GENRE: Romance, Fiction
This novel by Tessa Bailey started off really strong for me, especially after the intense disappointment of “My Killer Vacation”, which I found to have sloppy and inconsistent writing. This novel was definitely a step up from the previous one I read in terms of writing. I was really loving Hallie and Julien’s story, it grappled me from the beginning and maybe I missed it due to listening on an audiobook vs reading… but the older virgin girl trope that Bailey seems to frequently gravitate to really bugs me. Its a trope that just needs to die. The virgin girl and the sexually experienced man. BARF. Once, twice, its enough.
The stakes in this novel were also just bland and unrealistic. The whole concept of the “Secret admirer” was really cute and promising, but it would have been more appropriate for like a post-college storyline… Not for people in their 30s. Like she is worried that he’s going to reject her for being his secret admirer when the chapter before he full on said he was not going back to his job at Stanford to be with her basically. She wrote him like a total of 3 love letters… like c’mon. It was too much… She was missing and like he thought she was dead or kidnapped? like I get he panicked but what a selfish dumb thing to then disappear on her for 17 days and not even answer her phone calls? Nah, I hate it so much. Like I would have given this a solid 3-stars had that not even the resolution conflict at the end of the book. Honestly, this is the 3rd Tessa Bailey novel I’ve read that I absolutely hated. I am so disappointed. I may need to cross her off my list of authors to look out for.
GENRE: Greek Mythology, Fiction, Young Adult
I was really a disappoint read for me. I felt like reading this was like pulling out teeth. Everything seemed overly complicated to make just a bit of sense… I was a Percy Jackson kid growing up, and I thought this would rekindle that sort of love I had… And honestly just an overall disappointment even though this was ALL OVER TikTok.
The writing was still good, and if you are someone who enjoys the overly complicated with a bit of Greek Mythology thrown in, then you may enjoy this read.
The Island of Missing Trees
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.
A Merry Little Meet Cute
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.
Not Your Ex's Hexes
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.**
How To Kill Men & Get Away With It
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.**
Take The Lead
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.**
2023 Reading Challenge
Antigoni has read 1 book toward her goal of 30 books.