With my 2020 favorites posts and 2021 anticipated lists on the way, I’m trying to share some mini reviews early on this month. These three mini reviews include one of my all-time new favorite non-fiction books – I think it’s my favorite non-fiction read of 2020- as well as two contemporary romances, of course. There are also a few quarter star ratings in these reviews because I felt so strangely indecisive about giving a full or half star ratings.
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Bess Kalb’s Nobody Will Tell You This But Me is one of the best books I’ve read in 2020. I admit that I am still somewhat of a newbie non-fiction & memoir reader, but I can safely say that Nobody Will Tell You This But Me is one of the best non-fiction books I’ll ever read. It’s the kind of book that will make you laugh and cry at the same time, and make you call (or long to talk to) the most important female figure in your life.
Nobody Will Tell You This But Me is written by Bess Kalb, but is told from the perspective of Bess’ grandmother, Bobby. Bobby shares the story of the four generation of women in Bess’ family, specifically exploring Bobby’s relationship with her mother, her daughter (Bess’ mom), and Bess. The book alternates between Bobby’s narrative telling, Bobby’s voicemails to Bess while she was still alive, and conversations between Bess and Bobby. Bobby’s humor and wise words are filled throughout. Nobody Will Tell You This But Me is not just Bess’ love letter to her grandmother, but also a story of strong, smart women who are bonded together for their love for another. The section about Bobby and Bess was extra special and made my heart shatter. Bess’ love for her grandmother are evident throughout, and Bobby’s love for her granddaughter is found in both the little & big moments.
At not even 200 pages, Nobody Will Tell You This But Meis the perfect read to consume in one sitting. I’m super tempted to reread Nobody Will Tell You This But Me on audio and buy a copy for everyone I know.
My Rating: 4.25 /5 Stars
Sarah Smith’s latest contemporary romance, Simmer Down, instantly grabbed my TBR attention for its food-inspired synopsis. Simmer Down follows food truck co-owner, Nikki, who runs a Filipino-inspired food truck with her mom in Maui, Hawaii. Nikki has her heart and eyes set on winning the Maui Food Truck Festival, which will give her and her mom the money & buzz the truck needs to stay in business. Nikki’s plans are soon threatened though by Callum, the co-owner of a British food truck who refuses to move his truck away from Nikki’s. Callum and Nikki decide that the winner of the festival gets to keep their food truck spot, while the other has to find another spot on the island. As the two go head to head and get to know each other more in the most unlikely ways, Nikki and Callum’s rivalry soon turns into something more.
Simmer Down’s food truck and Maui settings completely delivered and were my favorite parts of the book. The only other book that I’ve read with a food truck setting is Maurene Goo’s YA novel, The Way You Make Me Feel, so it was really fun to dive into the food truck world within contemporary romance. I genuinely enjoyed reading about Nikki’s food prep and cooking, in addition to exploring her and her mom’s dynamic, running the truck together. The book also delves into Nikki’s personal growth, as Nikki feels somewhat obligated to run the truck with her mom and live in Maui after losing her dad not too long ago. This loss has made her be super careful about forming relationships, friendship and romance both included. Speaking of romance, what ultimately prevented me from giving Simmer Down a higher rating was that I wasn’t the biggest fan of Nikki and Callum. There was something about Calum that I couldn’t connect with. Everyone knows that I love the enemies-to-lovers trope, but even as Callum’s walls come down, I didn’t really like him as love interest and wasn’t into his chemistry with Nikki. Listen, I’m super used to reading romance scenes by now, but there were some lines (especially those in which Nikki compared Callum to a god…) that had me rolling my eyes. Overall, I LOVED Simmer Down for its settings, but it doesn’t have me raving over the romance.
My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
I decided to read the third book in Jasmine Guillory’s The Wedding Date series, The Wedding Party, because I knew the female lead in book #3 appears again in book #4, Royal Holiday, a 2020 holiday read of mine. I likely could have read Royal Holiday without reading The Wedding Party, but wanted to get the full experience, since The Wedding Party follows Maddie and Royal Holiday follows her mom, Vivian.
The Wedding Party matched my desire for something and light & fluffy to read during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and finals stretch. It features one of my all-time favorite tropes, enemies-to-lovers. Alexa’s two best friends, Maddie and Theo, have always been polar opposites but after an accidental kiss, the two can’t deny their chemistry and are forced to spend even more time together as members of Alexa’s bridal party. The central conflict of the book is ultimately that Theo and Maddie don’t think they’re right for each other… but as a reader, I didn’t really understand why? I had this same feeling while reading book #1, The Wedding Date. I’m realizing that one of the main tropes in The Wedding Date series is the romance leads eventually recognizing that they ARE right for each other, but I wish the conflict in the books went further beyond this. One of the reasons why I do keep picking up these books though is because I love that Jasmine Guillory does explore the characters outside of their relationships. Maddie is an up-and-coming stylist and auditions for a local TV show, while Theo works in politics and tries to achieve the works-life balance. I really like that Jasmine Guillory includes such career-driven and focused individuals in her books, but I think I liked Party of Two the most in the series because that book really focuses on what happens when career and romance have trouble matching.
Have you read any of the books I reviewed? Do you have any non-fiction or contemporary romance recommendations for me? Share in the comments!