Review// People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

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Author: Emily Henry
Series: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 11, 2021
Book Length: 364
Publisher: Berkley Books
Review: 4/5

My Review:

I was today years old when I realized that the best friends to lovers trope is actually top tier and I’ve been missing out on it for years.

Poppy and Alex have been best friends since College. Every year, they take a summer vacation together, until one year something unbeknownst to the reader happens that causes them to drift apart and stop their trips. This year, however, Poppy has a plan to save their friendship with one last getaway for old times sake. Will it be like nothing has changed, or is it better to have let the past be the past?

This was like if Gordo and Lizzie had the spin off they deserved after the Lizzie McGuire Movie, including more trips together, minus Ms. Ungermeyer. At the beginning, I loved it and could not put it down; when I did put it down, it’s all I could think about. What initially drew me in was that Alex loves to read and he seems like a total nerd – and what can I say, I think being nerdy is hot. From the very first few pages where he was described as sitting at a bar reading a book, I knew I was going to be hooked. Their dynamic was fun too because they were sort of opposites in that Poppy was more free spirited, go with the flow, while Alex was more by the books, and I thought their personalities played off of each other well.

However, if there was one thing that I wasn’t a big fan of, it was near the end when there was a little bit of miscommunication between the two that turned into the most unnecessary argument. By that point, it was really obvious they liked each other, and I feel like that immaturity was just inserted in the story just for the sake of it rather than actually needing to be there. That was a really minor thing for me though; other than that, I thought the story was fun and hard to put down!

This was a really good read to get me into that summer vacation vibe without actually having to take a vacation, and I’m happy I found a new trope that I enjoy too! Emily Henry is my next new auto-buy author after how much I enjoyed this one.

– Catherine

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Review// You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

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Author: Sarah Hogle
Series: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 7, 2020
Book Length: 368 pages 
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Review: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

When your nemesis also happens to be your fiancé, happily ever after becomes a lot more complicated in this wickedly funny, lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy debut.

Naomi Westfield has the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family any bride would love to be a part of. They never fight. They’re preparing for their lavish wedding that’s three months away. And she is miserably and utterly sick of him.

Naomi wants out, but there’s a catch: whoever ends the engagement will have to foot the nonrefundable wedding bill. When Naomi discovers that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.

But with the countdown looming to the wedding that may or may not come to pass, Naomi finds her resolve slipping. Because now that they have nothing to lose, they’re finally being themselves–and having fun with the last person they expect: each other.

My Review:

What can I say, I’m a sucker for contemporary romance, and this is the perfect book version of a romantic comedy. Also, that cover? Gorgeous! 😍

I loved the tension and playfulness between Naomi and Nicholas and all the silly little games they would play to get on each other’s nerves. It was done in such a way that I didn’t dislike either character, but rather was actually rooting for them to remember why they fell in love in the midst of all their shenanigans. The last quarter of the book was adorable and left me with such a happy feeling when I finished.

If you enjoyed The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, you’ll likely enjoy this too. I can’t wait to read more from Sarah Hogle and to find more contemporary romances like this in general! Lovers to enemies to lovers is definitely my thing 🙌

– Catherine

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Review// Captive Prince by C.S. Pascat

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Author: C.S. Pascat
Series: Captive Prince #1
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: February 2, 2013
Book Length: 270 pages 
Publisher: Berkley
Review: 2/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos. But when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.

Beautiful, manipulative, and deadly, his new master, Prince Laurent, epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.

For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else…

My Review:

Me, when I found out that this book is supposed to be a slow burn romance:

Oh man, I mean, it was definitely slow, so they got that part down. It just felt like I was waiting forever for something to happen between the two main characters that quite honestly never did. Not to mention, neither of the two were particularly likable or interesting to me, so even if it had happened, I’m not sure I would have cared.

If I really think about it, I couldn’t even really tell you what the plot was – all I know is that the main thing that I can’t shake about this is that there was so much rape, sexual abuse, and paedophilia that I did not anticipate going into it as I knew nothing about the book before reading. There was one character, Nicaise, who is 13 years old but sexualized so much, it made me uncomfortable. The way he’s described is very adult-like, so you almost dismiss it, but then you remember he is a child and it all just feels gross. In addition, although I appreciate all the world building and a lot of it was great, at times the description was so dense and repetitive that it was hard to follow.

The book has very mixed reviews, and personally, it wasn’t for me, but if you’re into fantasy and suuuuper slow burn romances, I’d say don’t knock it till you try it – I have a feeling the next book in the series might even be better.

– Catherine

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🌈Pride Month Reads: Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden

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Author: Nancy Garden
Series: Standalone
Genre: Fiction
Release Date: July 1, 1982
Book Length: 234 pages 
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Review: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Liza Winthrop first lays eyes on Annie Kenyon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she knows there’s something special between them. Soon, their close friendship develops into a deep and intimate romance. Neither imagined that falling in love could be so wonderful, but as Liza and Annie’s newfound sexuality sparks conflict in both their families and at their schools, they discover it will take more than love for their relationship to succeed.

One of the first books to positively portray a lesbian relationship, Annie on My Mind is a groundbreaking classic of the genre. The subject of a First Amendment lawsuit over banned books and one of School Library Journal’s “One Hundred Books that Shaped the Century,” Nancy Garden’s iconic novel is an important story for anyone discovering who they’re meant to be.

My Review:

“What struck me most, though, was that, in that whole long article, the word ‘love’ wasn’t used even once. That made me mad; it was as if whoever wrote the article didn’t know that gay people actually love each other. The encyclopedia writers ought to talk to me, I thought as I went back to bed; I could tell them something about love.”

Happy Pride Month! I am going to try to read more LGBTQIA+ books, not only this month, but in this lifetime, and Annie on My Mind is where that promise to myself begins. I thought this was beautiful. The relationship between Liza and Annie felt really organic and honest, and I enjoyed the journey that it took me on as their relationship blossomed.

This book is about being true to yourself in a world where other people think they know what’s right for you, and even though other people tried to make her feel confused and guilty, I loved that Liza stayed firm and was true to herself and to her love for Annie.

I think this book is definitely suited for young readers, and especially those who are beginning to explore their sexuality. The homophobia in the book broke my heart, but the girls did have reliable, supportive allies to turn to, which I felt was important, because at the time it was written in 1982, I think the author was trying to show people that they could find support somewhere; if not in their real lives, then surely within this book.

The world has definitely changed since this was written, but we still have work to do, and my hope is that one day the ideals in here will be completely outdated and people everywhere can live without fear or judgement and just love whoever it is they want to love in peace.

If anyone has any LGBTQIA+ book recommendations, please let me know!

-Catherine

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Review// Enigma Variations by André Aciman

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Author: André Aciman
Series: Standalone
Genre: Fiction
Release Date: January 3, 2017
Book Length: 266 pages 
Publisher: Straus & Giroux
Review: 4/5

My Review:

What I find interesting about my feelings towards this book is that I didn’t entirely love any part of the story or characters, like, at all, yet I could not put it down at certain points due to how lovely the writing was.

This book is about a man named Paul and his love interests throughout his life. I don’t believe it was ever explicitly stated, but from what I gathered, he was in his forties by the end of it. The love interests each had their own section of the book which detailed the relationship Paul had with them respectively.

Though I was intrigued by some stories more than others, especially Star Love, I can’t say that I really felt a connection to either Paul, or any of the men and women who played a significant role in his life at different stages. If anything, I would say that Paul was unlikable. The way he talked about his lovers made me feel like he didn’t care about any of them; he just wanted them around to make him feel good about himself. He would describe each one in such an unhealthy, obsessive manner that quite frankly made me feel uncomfortable at times, and yet he would always be searching for the next best thing. I also felt dissatisfied every time one story ended because I felt things weren’t explicitly clear with regards to how the relationships ended. Regardless, I have to say that I really didn’t care whether Paul found love, or whatever he believed love was. What I did care for, however, was the writing style. André Aciman knows how to write beautiful prose, and for that reason alone, I would definitely consider giving any other books of his a read.

“Our star life, yours with mine. As someone said over dinner once, each of us is given at least nine versions of our lives, some we guzzle, others we take tiny, timid sips from, and some our lips never touch.” Neither of us asked which was our life. We didn’t want to know.

-Catherine

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