book reviews

New Reading List and Book Reviews

Reading has always been one of my favorite ways to escape, so it’s no surprise that while we’re living on the hell mouth, I’ve upped the ante. I also have almost nothing else to do in my free time, but read.

Over the last few months, I’ve read at least 17 books. Reviews for each one are listed below. Some were big hits. Others were misses. Not all are pictured here, because now that my parents live in KC, I’m constantly borrowing amazing books from my mom. It is wonderful.

You will notice many are romances, because between living in a pandemic, following an election, and consuming lots of scary news, they provided the break I was looking for. You may also see that many of these were written by diverse authors. Paying attention to who wrote the book is something I’ve made a point of doing for a few years now. It has been well worth the small effort, and I honestly feel as if I’m being reward for very little work on my part.

  1. Beach Read: I loved this book. It had a great romance, but also lots of character development and was very well-written. It is about a woman who inherits a beach house after her father dies. She moves there only to find her former nemesis next door. If you wish you were on a beach right now, I’d recommend picking this one up.
  2. The Last Flight: This mystery/thriller follows two women who trade places after a chance encounter. It was only so-so for me. I really liked one of the character’s storylines, but wasn’t as wild about the other.
  3. Evvie Drake Starts Over: Another one I borrowed from my mom, Evvie Drake Starts Over is really wonderful and heartfelt. I liked getting to know the complex characters. The lead, Evvie, is struggling with the death of her husband when she develops a friendship and later, romance with a major league player who’s lost his game.
  4. The Kiss Quotient: I loved The Bride Test and may have enjoyed this one even more. The main character has Asperger’s and thinks French kissing is like “getting her teeth cleaned by a pilot fish,” so she hires a professional to learn the ropes.
  5. The School of Essential Ingredients: Oh, this book killed me in the best way. It is about a group of strangers who take a cooking class together. Each chapter is written almost like a short story, sharing each student’s point-of-view and then connecting it back to the class. Erica Bauermeister has a gift for transporting readers to a place with her descriptions of taste and scent. It also made me want to cook nearly everything she wrote about. I can’t wait to read the sequel, The Lost Art of Mixing.
  6. You Had Me at Hola: You Had Me at Hola takes place on the set of a telenovela. I was sure it would be right up my alley, but I didn’t care for either of the main characters. Their lack of confidence and communication drove me a bit nuts.
  7. Party of Two: I have become a huge Jasmine Guillory fan. And, I’m happy to report Party of Two is completely charming. It follows the romantic chance encounter of a political up and comer and a successful lawyer. I adored both characters who were so smart and actual grown-ups.
  8. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue: In 1714, Addie LaRue essentially makes a deal with a devil to escape a marriage and live freely. As a result, she can leave no mark. She can’t use her name, write or be remembered. The novel alternates between present day and the past. While I do feel this could have been shortened up a bit, I loved how strong and interesting the main character was. The author also has a really beautiful writing style and thought of every scenario.
  9. In a Holidaze: In a Holidaze is like Groundhogs Day meets Hallmark Christmas movie. I mean this as a compliment. The story follows the main character who is forced to relive a family vacation until she “gets it right.” I read this around the holidays and would suggest adding it to your TBR list for Christmas this year.
  10. The Return: This was my first Nicholas Sparks book. I found the protagonist to be a bit of a know-it-all. I also felt he was a bit slow on the uptake for someone who constantly talked about how intelligent he was. Have you read this one? Did you enjoy it?
  11. Royal Holiday: Another Guillory book, this one takes place in England and is a lovely escape. The main character accompanies her daughter on a once-in-a-lifetime business trip. While her daughter styles the duchess, Vivian connects with hunky Malcolm who happens to work for the Queen. This book could be read any time, but is particularly lovely around Christmas.
  12. The Henna Artist: Travel by book to 1950’s India with The Henna Artist. This historical novel offers a unique glimpse into Indian life and culture. I really enjoyed this book, but will admit I found it a bit slow in a few spots. That being said, I would still recommend it.
  13. The Guest List: Guests gather on a deserted Irish island for a wedding. A murder happens during the reception, and the book switches between several characters sharing their secrets and backstory with the reader, allowing us to guess at who committed the crime. I should have loved this one, but thought it was kind of meh. I guessed at a few of the twists and didn’t particularly like any of the characters.
  14. Twice in a Blue Moon: Away on a trip to London with her grandmother, young, Sam Brandis falls for Tate. Her first love, he betrays her by revealing her identity to the press. Years later, they unexpectedly reconnect on the set of a movie. I liked this one, but prefer some of Christina Lauren’s other books more.
  15. Destination Wedding: I have mixed feelings about this book, which takes place during a very fancy wedding in India. The headers before each chapter are very funny, and the author offers a rich look at life in India, showing the wealth and poverty. I also really loved the storylines for the protagonist’s father and mother, along with most of the other characters. The exception for me was Tina, the main character and her best friend. I found both to be frustrating, which may be more of a product of my age and stage in life. Typing this makes me feel old and stodgy. Maybe that’s what I didn’t like? It made me feel like a mature adult. Yuck.
  16. My Favorite Half-Night Stand: Millie Morris is a brilliant professor who has a fling with her best friend. But, when a university gala turns into a black-tie event, she and her circle decide to try online dating. In the process, she creates a fake online profile and matches with the aforementioned friend. Complications ensue. This one was a hit for me, in part, because I really liked her friends.
  17. One to Watch: A plus-size blogger gains a spot on a Bachelorette style reality TV show in One to Watch. This book is entertaining, but also thought-provoking. It explores body image, cultural biases and online trolls. I would definitely recommend this one.

Right now, I’m making may way through Last Tang Standing, which seems to be very funny. What have you read recently? Any favorites I should try?

P.S. Other books to read are found herehere, hereherehere, here and here.



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