GENRE: Romance, Contemporary Fiction
This was such a let down for an Emily Henry book. I know shocking coming from me, especially considering I gave this book 4-stars. I want you to know, that I am giving this 4-stars as if it wasn’t written by Emily Henry; if I were to compare this book to her other works, it would probably fall closer to 3-stars. Independently, this is a 4-star read.
Let’s begin with the expectation. This novel is presented as exes falling back together. This is not the case. The premise of the book is more along the lines of two people who have been together so goddamn long and should know each other very well miscommunicated and end a relationship and decide not to tell their friends for MONTHS. Then due to unforeseen circumstances they need to pretend they are still together in front of their friends that they have also not been communicating with. This whole book is just a miscommunication trope. If those don’t annoy you then please pick up this book, if they do, then do yourself a favour and (re)read Book Lovers instead.
slight spoilers below
Now, I do not want to sound like a hater, so let me tell you the things I did enjoy about this book. Firstly I did enjoy the motif of back and forth between reality and their “happy place”. The concept of a Happy Place being moments in the past was beautiful. Emily Henry has a phenomenal style of writing, so this was obviously beautifully written. I also liked that towards the end of the novel, not only are the miscommunication issues addressed in the romance but with the friendships and familial relationships. That whole depth of the novel really beautiful. I also quite enjoyed this idea that you are always able to change your mind. Harriette (our main) is supposed to be a surgeon finishing up her residency but it really is a profession that doesn’t suit her from the get-go. Her being able to just drop everything and try something with less prestige and less stability because it is something she would actually love - chef’s kiss. Honestly, had the book been more focused on the friendships/family stuff I think this would have been a much better book.
Let’s hope Emily Henry switches back to her older style, because this made me sad.
Spotlight On Poppy
GENRE: Romance, Contemporary, Fiction
This was a solid read, but a bit of a let down in comparison to “A Highlander for Hannah”, which I absolutely loved. Warren has great writing, and is super funny and relatable. I absolutely loved that there’s this little nod to the show Friends (from a popular Tiktok trend) at the beginning of the novel: “Poppy was happy for her best friend. Yes, Happy and not at all jealous.” Of the bat, this novel has me gripped and laughing. With the exception of my personal icks (I fucking hate when men call women ‘Princess’) my only hang up with this the absence of certain scenes.
For instance, we know that Poppy and Josh are in a play together where the two kiss, but in the novel we are never given a glimpse of Poppy and Joshes feelings when they share the stage kiss. I really feel like people who have feelings for each other would feel a spark or even have emotions even from something like a stage kiss. So that kind of bothered me that it wasn’t really addressed. Another example would be when Josh fights that guy from Broadway. We get a quick summary of the moment Josh punches him after the fact. We don’t get a real glimpse at what happened, what exactly was said and what brought that douchebag and Josh together to even have that interaction.
I know it seems like this is a negative review for something I gave 4-stars too, but it is because I know this is a novel many people will enjoy, and preventing people from picking up this book because of my own personal icks, that likely wouldn’t bother anyone else, seems like too much of a shame. The writing is good, the characters are believable and relatable. I love the closeness of the town, and the logistics of Poppy having to deal with a lot of her feelings on her own (Hannah is on her honeymoon!!).
Great book for someone ready for a touch of magic in their romance, some wonderful plus-size representation and all-in-all good fun.
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.
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.
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.**
2023 Reading Challenge
Antigoni has read 1 book toward her goal of 30 books.