CONTEMPORARY, CONTEMPORARY: February 2021 Mini Reviews

My reading in February reflected my usual reading habits: contemporary & contemporary romance with some non-fiction and Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Silver Flames mixed in. Today’s mini reviews from last month include a contemporary romance I’m always finding on recommendation lists, a New Years inspired read take took over everyone’s reading at the end of 2020, and a 2020 contemporary about South Korean beauty culture that has recently blown up on my book social media feeds.

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Evvie Drake Starts Over was the perfectly quiet and cozy contemporary romance that I didn’t realize I needed until I was 200 pages in. I read this one over the course of some snow days in February. It’s sweetness and heartfelt ness made for the perfect companion while I snuggled up on the couch watching the snow fall. 

Evvie Drake Starts Over follows the title character, Evvie, who has recently lost her husband. Everyone in her small coastal Maine town constantly check in on her and how she’s handling her supposed grief, including her best friend, Andy. Andy encourages Evvie to rent out her house’s apartment to one of his college friends and a professional baseball player. Dean has recently ended his career after dealing with an athlete’s worst nightmare, the “yips. Despite intense physical training and mental support, he just can’t seem to pitch anymore. 

The book deals with heavier themes, but still felt light & warm at the same time. There’s loss and guilt, as Evvie is dealing with a different kind of grief when it comes to the death of her husband (warning for emotional abuse). Evvie’s marriage to her husband was completely not what it seemed on the outside, and even after his death, she is still combatting people’s interpretations of their relationship. There’s also an emphasis on mental health, between Evvie’s struggles and Dean’s inability to no longer play baseball. 

The story is really driven by Evvie and Dean’s personal journeys and their relationship, but it was complimented by their own friendship and family dynamics. There’s not a ton of romance scenes, but Evvie and Dean’s relationship felt so intimate. Their chemistry and comfort with one another is so instant. I loved how they could drift from light-hearted,easy-going conversations and then deep dive into Dean’s pitching sturggles, Evvie’s marriage, and their own relationship.

Overall, Evvie Drake Starts Over  was just such a soothing read that felt different from most of the contemporary romances I’ve read. There’s definitely more of a focus on the contemporary side of things that just worked perfectly in this one. 

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens

My Rating: 4.25/5 Stars

I feel like Sophie Cousens’ This Time Next Year was THE contemporary book everyone was getting their hands on near the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021, thanks to its New Years-inspired premise. After a long wait on the library holds list, I recently got this one in my hands and devoured it in less than three days! I totally admit that I thought about holding this one off until next December near New Years because I love reading holiday books around said holiday, but This Time Next Year was the fluffy and charming read I needed. I’d say the book is half set between New Years and the rest of the year – somewhat picture Josie Silver’s One Day in December, but imagine just one year and flashbacks to New Years of the past.

Set on the outskirts of London, This Time Next Year follows Minnie and Quinn, who were both born minutes apart on New Years Day back in 1990. Ever since Quinn was born first and won a cash prize for being the first baby born in London that decade, Minnie has always felt like bad luck has followed her, especially each year on her birthday. Quinn and Minnie meet at a New Years Party on their mutual 30th birthday and can’t help but continue to run into each other as the year moves on (and maybe have actually run into each others’ paths during past New Years…). This Time Next Year’s premise and storytelling was done so well. I loved Quinn and Minnie’s instant chemistry. Their humor and adventures together just put such a smile on my face as I read. Everyone knows that I love a book featuring baking or cooking (not to mention one set in the UK), so it was really fun to read about Minnie’s pie business with her best friend, Leila…and yes, it took me the first few chapters to realize that Minnie makes savory pies typical in the UK vs. the sweet/dessert-like pies we’re used to here in the US. I loved seeing both Minnie and Quinn’s personal growth, which may have been a bit inspired by each other  and the subsequent strengthening of her relationship with their parents. Overall, This Time Next Year is such a fun and cute book to read both year-round or just in time for New Years.

If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha 

My Rating: 4/5 Review

Although it came out in April 2020, Frances Cha’s If I Had Your Face was recently all over my bookstagram and Booktube feed in late January & early February. I was instantly intrigued by the synopsis, following four young women living in Seoul and exploring their everyday lives against high-stakes beauty standards and South Korean culture. Since it was also selected as the Bad on Paper Podcast Book Club pick for February, I decided to read it as well as this month and overall thought it was a very enjoyable and thought-provoking read.

I did not know too much about Korean culture before picking up this book, other than travel vlogs and some YA books that follow Korean-American teens. If I Had Your Face was an honest and eye-opening look at life in Korea. I’m someone who’s grown to love books with multiple perspectives, and having four different narrators totally worked here. The book acts also more as a slice-of-life story, and provides a behind-the-scenes look at the culture surrounding women, work, and beauty. The plot isn’t necessarily high-stakes, but each of the women grow and find themselves in new places in life by the end.

Have you read any of these books? What contemporary books or contemporary romances have you been loving lately? Share in the comments! 


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