Book Review: Meet Me in Madrid


Verity Lowell

Rating: 2 out of 5.

published: 26th October 2021
spoilers? no

Goodreads

Charlotte Hilaire has a love-hate relationship with her work as a museum courier. On the one hand, it takes her around the world. On the other, her plan to become a professor is veering dangerously off track.

Yet once in a while, maybe every third trip or so, the job goes delightfully sideways…

When a blizzard strands Charlotte in Spain for a few extra days and she’s left with glorious free time on her hands, the only question is: Dare she invite her grad school crush for an after-dinner drink on a snowy night?

Accomplished, take-no-prisoners art historian Adrianna Coates has built an enviable career since Charlotte saw her last. She’s brilliant. Sophisticated. Impressive as hell and strikingly beautiful.

Hospitable, too, as she absolutely insists Charlotte spend the night on her pullout sofa as the storm rages on.

One night becomes three and three nights become a hot and adventurous long-distance relationship when Charlotte returns to the States. But when Adrianna plots her next career move just as Charlotte finally opens a door in academia, distance may not be the only thing that keeps them apart.

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Book Review: All Are Welcome


Liz Parker

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

published: 1st August 2021
spoilers? no

Goodreads

A darkly funny novel from a fresh new voice in fiction about brides, lovers, friends, and family, and all the secrets that come with them.

Tiny McAllister never thought she’d get married. Not because she didn’t want to, but because she didn’t think girls from Connecticut married other girls. Yet here she is with Caroline, the love of her life, at their destination wedding on the Bermuda coast. In attendance—their respective families and a few choice friends. The conflict-phobic Tiny hopes for a beautiful weekend with her bride-to-be. But as the weekend unfolds, it starts to feel like there’s a skeleton in every closet of the resort.

From Tiny’s family members, who find the world is changing at an uncomfortable speed, to Caroline’s parents, who are engaged in conspiratorial whispers, to their friends, who packed secrets of their own—nobody seems entirely forthcoming. Not to mention the conspicuous no-show and a tempting visit from the past. What the celebration really needs now is a monsoon to help stir up all the long-held secrets, simmering discontent, and hidden agendas.

All Tiny wanted was to get married, but if she can make it through this squall of a wedding, she might just leave with more than a wife.

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Book Review: Love at First Fight


Mary Jayne Baker

Rating: 2 out of 5.

published: 5th August 2021
spoilers? yes

Goodreads

Love cynic Bridie Morgan is staging a last hurrah to the ‘dating’ stage of her life: she’s going on twenty dates in twenty days. If this ‘love’ thing really is a numbers game, then surely she’ll find The One. And if not? Well, at least the memory of her date with the Spice Girls’ biggest fan will be enough to put her off for life. She’ll never again wonder what she was missing.

But being love’s biggest sceptic is a challenge in the face of best friend Hattie’s upcoming nuptials. And as maid of honour, she really has to give it a chance.

Then Bridie’s lifelong nemesis Ben Kemp returns home to join the wedding party. Ben, who left her waiting outside their leavers’ prom in a brand-new dress, alone. Ben, who triggered the sorry state of affairs that has been Bridie’s love life ever since. Ben, the best man to her maid of honour.

As old enemies reunite, sparks fly – in ways Bridie could never have seen coming…

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Book Review: You’ve Reached Sam


Dustin Thao

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

published: 2nd November 2021
spoilers? no

Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out—move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes.

Heartbroken, Julie skips his funeral, throws out his things, and tries everything to forget him and the tragic way he died. But a message Sam left behind in her yearbook forces back memories. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone just to listen to his voicemail.

And Sam picks up the phone.

In a miraculous turn of events, Julie’s been given a second chance at goodbye. The connection is temporary. But hearing Sam’s voice makes her fall for him all over again, and with each call it becomes harder to let him go. However, keeping her otherworldly calls with Sam a secret isn’t easy, especially when Julie witnesses the suffering Sam’s family is going through. Unable to stand by the sidelines and watch their shared loved ones in pain, Julie is torn between spilling the truth about her calls with Sam and risking their connection and losing him forever.

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Book Review: Role Model


Rachel Reid

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

published: 10th August 2021
spoilers? no

Goodreads

Troy Barrett has been freshly traded to Ottawa after calling out Dallas Kent during a team practice. He wants to be a better person, and the weird, scrappy energy of the struggling Ottawa team seems like the place to…well. It seems like the only place that will have Troy right now.

Fortunately the Ottawa team includes Ilya Rozanov and Wyatt Hayes, and also includes an adorable social media manager, Harris Drover. Harris is the opposite of Troy in every way: friendly, cheerful, chatty, and goofy with a booming voice, a startlingly loud laugh, and Pride pins all over his denim jacket. Definitely not the sort of person Troy would normally associate with, and yet…

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Book Review: I Kissed a Girl


Jennet Alexander

Rating: 3 out of 5.

published: 3rd August 2021
spoilers? nope

Goodreads

Is a happy ending finally in sight for Hollywood’s favorite scream queen?

Lilah Silver’s a young actress who dreams of climbing out of B-list stardom. She’s been cast as the “final girl” in what could be her breakout performance…but if she wants to prove herself to everyone who ever doubted her, she’s going to need major help along the way.

Noa Birnbaum may be a brilliant makeup artist and special effects whiz-kid, but cracking into the union is more difficult than she imagined. Keeping everyone happy is a full-time job, and she’s already run ragged. And yet when the beautiful star she’s been secretly crushing on admits to fears of her own, Noa vows to do everything in her power to help Lilah shine like never before.

Long hours? Exhausting work? No problem. Together they can take the world by storm…but can the connection forged over long hours in the makeup chair ever hope to survive the glare of the spotlight?

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Book Review: The Ophelia Girls


Jane Healey

Rating: 3 out of 5.

published: 10th August 2021
spoilers? nope

Goodreads

A mother’s secret past and her daughter’s present collide in this richly atmospheric novel from the acclaimed author of The Animals at Lockwood Manor.

In the summer of 1973, Ruth and her four friends were obsessed with pre-Raphaelite paintings—and a little bit obsessed with each other. Drawn to the cold depths of the river by Ruth’s house, the girls pretend to be the drowning Ophelia, with increasingly elaborate tableaus. But by the end of that fateful summer, real tragedy finds them along the banks.

Twenty-four years later, Ruth returns to the suffocating, once grand house she grew up in, the mother of young twins and seventeen-year-old Maeve. Joining the family in the country is Stuart, Ruth’s childhood friend, who is quietly insinuating himself into their lives and gives Maeve the attention she longs for. She is recently in remission, unsure of her place in the world now that she is cancer-free. Her parents just want her to be an ordinary teenage girl. But what teenage girl is ordinary?

Alternating between the two fateful summers, The Ophelia Girls is a suspense-filled exploration of mothers and daughters, illicit desire, and the perils and power of being a young woman.

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Book Review: Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead


Emily R. Austin

Rating: 4 out of 5.

published: 8th July 2021
spoilers? nope

Goodreads

Meet Gilda. She cannot stop thinking about death. Desperate for relief from her anxious mind and alienated from her repressive family, she responds to a flyer for free therapy at a local church and finds herself abruptly hired to replace the deceased receptionist Grace. It’s not the most obvious job – she’s queer and an atheist for starters – and so in between trying to learn mass, hiding her new maybe-girlfriend and conducting an amateur investigation into Grace’s death, Gilda must avoid revealing the truth of her mortifying existence.

A blend of warmth, deadpan humour, and pitch-perfect observations about the human condition, Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is a crackling exploration of what it takes to stay afloat in a world where your expiration – and the expiration of those you love – is the only certainty.

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Book Review: The Lucky List


Rachael Lippincott

Rating: 4 out of 5.

published: 21st June 2021
spoilers? minimal

Goodreads

Emily and her mum were always lucky.

But Emily’s mum’s luck ran out three years ago when she succumbed to cancer, and nothing has felt right since.

Now, the summer before her senior year, things are worse than ever – Emily has wrecked things with her boyfriend, Matt, and her dad is selling the house she grew up in and giving her mum’s belongings away. The only person she has to talk to is Blake, a girl she barely knows since she and her dad moved back to town five seconds ago.

But that’s when Emily finds the list – her mum’s senior year summer bucket list – buried in the back of her closet. When Blake suggests that Emily take it on as a challenge, the two set off on a journey to tick each box and help Emily face her fears over losing her connection to her mum. As she starts to feel closer to her mother, so too does Emily’s bond with Blake deepen into something she wasn’t expecting.

And suddenly Emily must face another fear: accepting the secret part of herself she never got a chance to share with the person who knew her best.

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Book Review: Seven Days in June


Tia Williams

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

published: 1st June 2021
spoilers? small ones

Goodreads

Seven days to fall in love, fifteen years to forget and seven days to get it all back again… From the author of The Perfect Find, this is a witty, romantic, and sexy-as-hell new novel of two writers and their second chance at love.

Brooklynite Eva Mercy is a single mom and bestselling erotica writer, who is feeling pressed from all sides. Shane Hall is a reclusive, enigmatic, award-winning literary author who, to everyone’s surprise, shows up in New York.

When Shane and Eva meet unexpectedly at a literary event, sparks fly, raising not only their past buried traumas, but the eyebrows of New York’s Black literati. What no one knows is that twenty years earlier, teenage Eva and Shane spent one crazy, torrid week madly in love. They may be pretending that everything is fine now, but they can’t deny their chemistry-or the fact that they’ve been secretly writing to each other in their books ever since.

Over the next seven days in the middle of a steamy Brooklyn summer, Eva and Shane reconnect, but Eva’s not sure how she can trust the man who broke her heart, and she needs to get him out of New York so that her life can return to normal. But before Shane disappears again, there are a few questions she needs answered. . .

With its keen observations of Black life and the condition of modern motherhood, as well as the consequences of motherless-ness, Seven Days in June is by turns humorous, warm and deeply sensual.

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