Midweek Mini Reviews #21

This Midweek Mini Reviews post features two romances just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson

Having heard many good things about Matchmaking for Beginners I decided to move it up on my TBR list. Unfortunately, this one fell short for me and I felt that it did not live up to the praise it received. Maybe it’s because I hate when people are no given much choice, but I had a hard time getting through this book. The protagonist, Marnie wasn’t very likeable and she came off as extremely flaky and an incredible doormat. Her heartbreak, however was relatable, which made it tough to see her getting pushed around and manipulated by basically everyone, including little kids, her horrible ex and even complete strangers. That being said, the side characters were entertaining at times and I did appreciate Jessica’s friendship with Marnie in fact, she was probably one of the few reasonable characters in the book. As for the “magic” aspect of the book, I thought it was cool initially as Blitz grew on me as a character, however, it eventually got rather irritating as the “sparkles” was used as an excuse for everything including going behind people’s backs to “help” them. I can certainly see how Matchmaking for Beginners could be the perfect, warm and magical holiday read, however for me it was too saccharine for my liking especially the ending and instead left me feeling slightly depressed.         

Liars, Inc. series by Rachel Van Dyken

The first Rachel Van Dyken novel that I read and loved was Infraction. So when I heard she had a new series coming out, this time centering on a women run PI agency that exposes cheaters, I was intrigued. Starting with Dirty Exes, I wasn’t completely sold yet. I liked Blair alright, however I wasn’t as big on Colin or even him and Blair as a couple. That being said, the book did introduce me to Jessie and Isla and from their shared scenes and off the charts chemistry in Dirty Exes I knew I just had to read their book. Fortunately, Dangerous Exes was a definite hit with me. While Jessie and Isla start off as “enemies”, it does not last very long. Soon they’re thrust into a fake engagement and before either of them realizes it, they’re hooking up and starting to develop “feelings”. I love how sweet the two were as a couple, and how they brought out the best in each other. I also appreciated the fact that Isla was half Chinese and that we got to meet Goo-Poh (her aunt). Goo-Poh was such a wild and hilarious character that she stole every scene she appeared in. While Dirty Exes was an okay read for me, Dangerous Exes was a hot and sweet romance that I could not put down. 

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above reviews consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

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Book Review | Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

Authour:
Soniah Kamal
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
January 15th 2019
Publisher:
Ballantine Books
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that there will always be new attempts at retelling and adapting Pride and Prejudice and that some will excel in their efforts while others will fall flat. Fortunately, Soniah Kamal’s Unmarriageable falls into the former of the two.

Unmarriageable takes the plot of Jane Austen’s classic English novel and modernizes it by setting it in Pakistan during the early 2000s. The “Bennets” are now the “Binats“, a family who went from well off to more middle class due to jealous relatives. I loved the changes to the family’s back story and Kamal does an excellent job at keeping the essence of the original characters and their relationships while adding her own modern twists. Elizabeth Bennet is now Alysba (Alys) Binat, a teacher at an all-girls school and a feminist who tries to teach her students and her younger sisters about the importance of being independent and getting an education. 

However, it’s not just the character of Alys. This entire novel has a feminist feel to it. I loved that the minor female characters like Sherry Looclus (the Charlotte Lucas character), Qitty Binat (aka Kitty Bennet) and Annie were given a voice in this adaptation. It was refreshing to read parts of the story from their perspective. And even though they weren’t meant to be likeable, I appreciated that we got to see the story from the Bingla (Bingley) sisters as well since it makes it clear as to what their true colours are. Furthermore, the characters are seen facing issues that are familiar to women today, including abortion and fighting against the traditions relating to marriage and the role of women including having children. All that being said, the men in the book are given little notice and as a result characters like Darsee (the Mr. Darcy character) and Bungles (the Mr. Bingley character) are not as well developed.

The other thing I loved about Unmarriageable was how it doesn’t shy away from its source material. Pride and Prejudice is not only name dropped, but referenced and discussed by various characters. In fact, the novel begins with Alys asking her class to rewrite the famous first line of the novel. In addition, Unmarriageable is also a love letter to Austen and literature in general. Both Alys and Darsee are bibliophiles and I loved that the two were able to eventually bond over their love of books in addition to their experiences of studying and living abroad even if the love epiphany on Alys side felt a bit rushed.

I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t getting a bit fatigued with all the Pride and Prejudice retellings. That being said, I truly enjoyed Unmarriageable especially how it veered from its inspiration. Forget what I said about the last Pride and Prejudice retelling I read as Unmarriageable now tops my list of favourite Pride and Prejudice adaptations. Read it if you are interested in a South Asian spin on an old classic or if you’re a fan of Austen and books in general.

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Midweek Mini Reviews #19

This month’s Midweek Mini Reviews post features some romance reads for the holiday season.

Fight or Flight by Samantha Young

I was really looking forward to Samantha Young’s Fight or Flight because of the plane travel plot. Plus based on the cover, it felt like it would be a light, and sexy vacation read. What I wasn’t expecting was for it to be more than just a fluffy romance novel. From their first meeting, you can really feel the animosity between Ava and Caleb which quickly escalates to a steamy hook up. However, this is more than an enemies to lovers romance. Both Ava and Caleb actually have some major emotional trauma from their past relationships, and this is never just glossed over. Ava and Caleb’s banter and relationships definitely has its moments, however I just could not get on board with Caleb. I felt that he was unappealing as a romantic male lead and he was too easily forgiven in the end. I would’ve liked to actually see him make more of an effort to make things up to Ava. That being said, however, Fight or Flight has one of the best female friendships, with Ava and her best friend, Harper that I couldn’t help but love the book in the end. To me Ava and Harper’s “love” story was the one that made Fight or Flight worth reading.

My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

I’ve only read one Christina Lauren book before My Favorite Half-Night Stand and that was Roomies which I liked though was weirded out by parts of it. I did pick up Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating due to all the hype, but could not bring myself to finish it. Fortunately Christina Lauren won me back with My Favorite Half-Night Stand which was just perfection. I love Millie, who while has her quirks is not incredibly annoying and intolerable like Hazel was. She has her issues, of course, but she’s also just plain relatable and quite likeable. I love her and the guys as the interactions and the group chats they have are just hilarious. Also the avatars in the chat they use are super cute. Reid and Millie were also a couple I could definitely root for. Both are incredibly stubborn people who, despite being book smart are kind of clueless and a bit hopeless when it comes to matters of the heart and each other. And while I’m not a fan of any kind of cat-fishing I did like how things were realistically handled and how Millie didn’t get off easily. The perfect length for a romance novel, My Favorite Half-Night Stand warmed my heart and made me smile for most of it.

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above reviews consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Authour:
Helen Hoang
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
June 5th, 2018
Publisher:
Berkley
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
With the lack of cultural diversity in the romance genre becoming increasingly obvious than ever, it’s refreshing to read a romance novel with characters who feel like they could be your own family. With Helen Hoang’s debut novel readers gain a heroine with autism and a male romantic lead who happens to be half Vietnamese! Even today, it’s still rare for Vietnamese characters to be presented as leads much less romantic leads hence my excitement for The Kiss Quotient.

Stella Lane is not your stereotypical romance heroine, she’s financially independent, incredibly intelligent and has an actual job that she loves and excels at. She’s also quite a relatable and quirky in an endearing way. Meanwhile, Michael Pham was a charming and sweet guy who just wants the best for his family especially his mother. I loved that we got to meet Michael’s family and I particularly loved his relationship with his cousin Quan as they have an amusing, brotherly dynamic. And while we do not get to know Stella’s parents as well as Michael’s family, I did appreciate Stella’s mother finally stand up for her in the end as up until that point she wasn’t a genuinely supportive parent.

Stella and Michael’s relationship was truly heartwarming as it starts as a reverse “Pretty Woman” situation with Stella, offering to pay Michael for his “help” and evolves into something more. The two of them had a great deal in common, for example, both have insecurity issues and both are passionate individuals, proving that the two of them truly were “endgame”. I loved witnessing how their “arrangement” brought both of them out of their protective “bubbles” and gave them the courage to take the risks that they were too scared to do so before. It wasn’t difficult to fall for Stella and Michael after watching their relationship unfold and observing how they were delightfully awkward in trying to navigate what it was that they truly wanted from each other.

Furthermore, I adored the diverse cast and secondary characters in The Kiss Quotient and with the exception of Stella’s gross and inappropriate coworker, Phillip I would love to see more of them. As a result, I cannot wait for Hoang’s next book, The Bride Test as it features a mixed-race heroine, and an Asian hero specifically, Khai Diep who is also Michael’s cousin. And of course, I am eagerly anticipating the day there is a book starring Quan, Michael’s cousin!

As the illustrated cover hints at, The Kiss Quotient is a perfect balance of steamy and sweet. As an own voices novel for autism and biraciality, I loved that it was an original story with the usual message that everyone deserves love and a happy ending. This one’s a book worth picking up if you are a contemporary romance reader looking for a little something different.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Midweek Mini Reviews #14


Only for You by Melissa Foster

I LOOVED the first book in the Sugar Lake series and was excited for a book featuring Bridgette, Willow’s older sister who was a teenaged rebel and now a single mother and overall just a sweet person. Similar to The Real Thing, Only for You was a cute and quick read that I flew through once I got started. Bridgette’s son, Louie was adorable and Bohdi was definitely a charming love interest. I also admired the overall familial closeness of the Dalton family and their acceptance and openness to new people. However, unlike The Real Thing I wasn’t sold completely on was the romance as I felt that Bridgette and Bohdi’s relationship got extremely intense rather quickly. I guess because of the genre and the brevity of the book this was the only option, still, it would have been nice to have a bit more lead up before the two of them started hooking up. That being said, I did appreciate the decision they made about their relationship as it was mature and realistic even if they regretted it almost immediately. Of course in the end, Only for You is still a feel-good romance so readers can expect another happy ending for all.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

The premise of The Wedding Date is incredibly fun though, two strangers have a “meet cute” in a hotel elevator and proceed to inevitably hook up. What I like about The Wedding Date was it put a new spin on the usual romance tropes by having the characters entering into a long distance hook-up situation since Drew lives in LA while Alexa lives closer to San Fransisco. Furthermore, neither character is shown to have a “One-Hour Work Week” as it’s made fairly obvious how both Alexa and Drew’s jobs truly are demanding and central to their lives, which given due to the nature of both their careers. I also liked Alexa because I could relate to her in that we are both busy young professionals who love pink glazed donuts with rainbow sprinkles! What I hated was the way that all the drama/fights happened as a result of a lack of communication, sure conflict is necessary to move the plot forward, but the way things occurred made both Drew and Alexa seem so immature, which made it last satisfying when they “made up” as it was difficult to buy that they’d be okay in the end. Overall, The Wedding Date was for me a lackluster read as it was not only predictable (as expected) but also there wasn’t much that made it a standout read for me. Still, I will most likely read the follow-up book, The Proposal since it stars Dex’s best friend, Carlos who was a cool character.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Midweek Mini Reviews #12

  
The Real Thing by Melissa Foster

I’m fairly new to the adult romance genre, and after reading a few that I adored I got a blogger friend of mine to give me some recommendations. On her list of recommendations for romances that are more rom-com was Melissa Foster’s The Real Thing. This was my first Melissa Foster book and I absolutely loved it! I’m so glad I decided to pick up this one as one of my first picks. The Real Thing takes place in a small town called Sugar Lake and features Zane and Willow who have a somewhat complicated history. I loved that they technically started out as friends and kept in touch all those years before getting together as it just made their chemistry and relationship all the more steamier and swoonier. And while the fake relationship trope was used in this book, I found it refreshing that the book did not focus on the angst of the scenario. Instead the two managed to have a relatively healthy relationship despite how they first get together. It was also refreshing to see a couple directly address their issues and problems and not take forever to dwell on their conflict and let things fester. A light and fluffy rom-com, The Real Thing has me adding another romance series on to my TBR list. Since the author has stated that there will be books for each of Willow’s siblings, I’m looking forward to the next one which features Bridgette in addition to the ones that will inevitably focus on the pairings of Ben and Aurelia and Piper and Harley as I’m not ready to say goodbye to all these characters for good.

Unconditionally by Erin Lyon

I did enjoy Erin Lyon’s I Love You Subject to the Following Terms and Conditions, however the cliff-hanger ending was killer! Especially since I went into the book not realizing it was only the first book of a duology. Unconditionally picks up almost immediately after the events of I Love You Subject to the Following Terms and Conditions. Things are finally picking up for Kate, she’s now has a new place and a job that she’s finding she doesn’t hate. I loved how chaos and hilarity follows Kate especially at work where she somehow always gets the most “interesting” cases and clients. Unconditionally was every bit, if not more enjoyable than I Love You Subject to the Following Terms and Conditions. And while there are times where the characters, especially Kate come off as superficial, and shallow this just added to the entertainment, and escapism element of the novel. Even with its incredibly satisfying conclusion, I can’t help but want a continuation of the Contract Killers series if only for more of Kate, Adam and their group of friends.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.