OFF-CAMPUS & ALEXIS DARIA SEQUELS: Romance Mini Reviews 

Starting off this Wednesday by sharing 2 recent romance reads of mine! I usually try to wait & share my mini reviews until I have at least 3 books to share, but I want to be a little bit more proactive about making my mini reviews, you know, recent by sharing them somewhat close to when I’ve read them. I unexpectedly took a week long break from blogging last week (I  shared some thoughts about burnout 2 weeks), mostly because I worked all throughout last weekend and had a really busy week that left no time for blog writing at night, but I feel more rejuvenated coming into blogging this week. Today, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on two popular romance sequels: A Lot Like Adiòs and The Legacy.

A Lot Like Adiòs by Alexis Daria

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I really liked Alexis Daria’s 2020 releases, You Had Me at Hola, so I looked forward to continuing the Primas of Power companion series with A Lot Like Adiòs. This best friends-to-lovers contemporary romance follows Jasmine’s cousin, Michelle, and her (former) best friend, Gabe, who is back in the Bronx for the first time in nearly ten years to oversee the expansion of his gym. Gabe’s partner hired Michelle, a freelance graphic designed, to help them work on the project without Gabe’s knowledge and the two are forced to reconcile the past & their feelings for one another. 

I think I actually liked A Lot Like Adiòs a little bit more than You Had Me at Hola, mostly because we definitely don’t have as many best friends-to-lovers romances as we do like other popular tropes such as fake dating & enemies-to-lovers (which don’t get me wrong, are two of my favorite tropes). A Lot Like Adiòs was a really refreshing read and things get steamy pretty early on the book.. meaning that we don’t wait for Gabe & Michelle to jump back into their feelings for one another. Just like You Had Me at Hola, the book also tackles family issues, mental health, and career aspirations. Overall, I recommend reading this one if you want more friends-to-lovers reads and want to revisit the world of You Had Me at Hola. Looking forward to seeing what the third prima’s, Ava, will be about! 

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BEACH READS & CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE: September 2021 Mini Reviews

So many books, so many mini reviews! My September reading as been mostly all contemporary (as always these days) with an emphasis on getting in some more beach/summer reads – fitting for my weekend September pool days! – and some contemporary romances of course.

Rock the Boat by Beck Dorey Stein – Rock the Boat immediately grabbed my attention because it was a summertime beach read set in New Jersey!! Everyone knows that I LOVE a good beach read (see all the Elin Hilderbrand books I’ve read so far this year), but most of them tend to take place in the South or on Nantucket, so I was beyond excited to finally get a beach read in my home state. Rock the Boat is split between three different perspectives and high school friends, Kate, Ziggy, & Miles. After a devastating break-up, Kate quits her PR job and moves from NYC to her sleep Jersey beach town, Sea Point. Ziggy never really left Sea Point and is now trying to put back together the family plumbing business after his father unexpectedly passed away, with his best friend Miles back to help him and also prove to his mom that he deserves to be an executive in their family business. I loved the beach town setting so much, and this book is the PERFECT summer read for it. Rock the Boat is really about transitioning into adulthood… and the next phase in adulthood after everything seems to go wrong. The book had a really fun & light tone while also dealing with relationships and grief. My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman – Why did I not read The Bookish Life of Nina Hill sooner?? If I had to answer, it’s probably because I got a bit scared of the hype because so many book lovers have (rightfully) adored this book following bookstore employee Nina as she just discovers the her birth father has passed away and has included her in his will & gets to meet the family she never knew. I absolutely loved the book’s plot, humor, and tone. It was so refreshing to have a protagonist who is definitely an introvert (Nina also has anxiety), but she’s still social and embraces dating and having fun with friends. My Rating: 5/5 Stars

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CONTEMPORARY & ELIN HILDERBRAND READS: August & September Mini Reviews 

One last semi-August mini review round up! Today, I’m going to be sharing mini reviews a few more books that I read towards the end of August and the first few of my September reads. This is my first week at work and while I am really excited about my job (I’m teaching middle school English) & like being back in a work routine, I am definitely going to miss my summer days spent reading, especially since I know that I won’t be reading as much in September as I did in August. As was the theme of my summer reading, today I have a few contemporary fiction reads and yes, 4 Elin Hilderbrand books, to recap. 

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams – Seven Days in June is THE romance book that has taken over my bookish feeds over the past few months. I knew the book featured two Black protagonists, but I didn’t know much else going into it. A few book recommendation sources have recommended this one if you’re in a book hangover after reading Robinne Lee’s The Idea of You, and while I think fans of that book will still enjoy Seven Days in June, Seven Days in June has much more serious and darker tone (and doesn’t have the whole older woman dating a younger celebrity synopsis). Seven Days in June follows two famous Black authors, Eva & Shane, who are both connected by their past in high school (warnings for drug and alcohol abuse and self harm). I really liked Tia William’s writing style and the writing plot lines surround Eva and Shane’s careers. Eva also has an autoimmune disorder that largely affects her lifestyle, which was overall something I haven’t read in a book before. My Rating: 4/5 Stars 

The Rehearsals by Annette Christie – Everyone knows that I’m up for any book about weddings, which led me to Annette Christie’s debut, The Rehearsals. This contemporary read follows college sweethearts Megan and Tom & their disastrous rehearsal dinner before their wedding. After a mega fight, Megan and Tom wake up on the morning of their wedding, only to become stuck in a Groundhog Day-type loop where they repeat the day of the rehearsal dinner again. The time-loop premise totally worked for me in this one, having loved exploring the what-ifs in Tom and Megan’s relationship and their relationship development through the repeated days. I totally admit that I have a love-hate relationship with the ending. I wanted more closure but also I sometimes like a what’s next kind of ending (trying to avoid spoilers). My Rating: 4/5 Stars

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Recent Reads & Currently Reading: August Review Round Up #2

I’m back with a mini review round up a little sooner than expected, but I wanted to try and stay up-to-date with my summer reading – even though I feel all over the place with reading right now between advance review copies for books coming out in the fall and some library books I have checked out. You know it’s bad when I’m balancing three books right now – I’m currently reading an ARC of Leora Krygier’s Do Not Disclose, Elin Hilderbrand’s Here’s to Us (I usually fly through her books but feeling meh about this one plot wise), and because I always need a contemporary romance, The Dating Plan by Sara Desai. 

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé – Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé’s Ace of Spades has gotten so much hype across my bookstagram & after being selected as the Bad on Paper Podcast August book pick, I knew I needed to check this YA thriller out. The book follows two Black teenagers at a private boarding school, Devon and Chiamaka, as a Gossip Girl-like anonymous texter called Aces starts to send out secrets about Devon and Chiamaka that threaten to ruin any college prospects and their reputations. I highly recommend going into this one knowing little as possible, but the book tackles some current conversations about racism and discrimination and had queer representation. My Rating: 4/5 Stars 

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary – After loving Beth O’Leary’s The Switch earlier this year, I wanted to get my hands on her 2021 release, The Road Trip, following two exes who are forced to road trip to a friend’s wedding in Scotland with Addie’s sister, Dylan’s best friend, and a wedding guest who needed a ride. It took me about halfway through The Road Trip to really get into it,  and I definitely liked the “then” parts about Addie and Dylan’s life before their break up then the actual road trip (although Addie had the BEST taste in road trip music). Similar to The Flatshare, The Road Trip has heavier themes (trigger warning for rape and mental health) compared to the book’s ‘lighthearted’ road trip premise. I loved Addie’s relationship with her sister, and I loved the one liners from Deb and Addie’s family at the end of some chapters, but I could NOT STAND Marcus throughout – I know he was going through his own battles, but I could not stand his selfishness and sabotage. My Rating: 4/5 Stars 

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10 SUMMER READS: July & August Review Round Up #1

As the avid summer reader that I am, I have been reading SO many books over the past three months, but I am SO not writing reviews as much as I am reading, oops. I have been reaching more for the full review format more than usual lately, but I am here today to share my thoughts I have books I have loved over the past few weeks, including a 2021 favorite, some really cute YA reads, and more beach reads. 

The Guncle by Steve Rowley – The Guncle is absolutely a must-read perfect for the summer – and let’s be honest, any point in the year. This book is absolutely worth all the hype it’s been getting, following an ex-sitcom star who takes in his niece and nephew for the summer when their mother (& Patrick’s best friend) passes away and their father enters rehab. When I say that I laughed out loud so many times while reading The Guncle, I seriously mean that I laughed over so many scenes and dialogue in this one – mostly over Grant and Patrick’s conversations and what was lost in translation.There is an emotional element to it with the loss of Grant and Maisie’s mother, but I loved the balance between the heart-warmness, heartbreak, and humor. My Rating: 5/5 Stars

It’s Kind of A Cheesy Love Story by Lauren Morill – It’s Kind of a Cheesy Love Story was such a super cute YA read, following sixteen year old Beck who starts her first job in the pizza shop she was literally born in. This was a really fun & light read. I loved the atmosphere of the pizza shop & seeing Beck grow close with her work friends. My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Between You, Me, and the Honeybees by Amelia Diane Coombs – Between You, Me, and the Honeybees was another really cute & light YA read. The book follows recent high school graduate Josie, who wants to stay home & help run her family’s honey business instead of going away to college. Sidenote that I really like YA books that take place in the period between high school and the early college years. Josie also develops feelings for the son of the rival honey business and has to hide both her relationship & post grad plans away from her family. I devoured this book in under four hours, having loved the unique setting. The book also has great anxiety & mental health representation. My Rating: 4/5 Stars

From Scratch by Tembi Locke – Everyone knows that I’ve had so much wanderlust over the past year, thus looking for ways to travel through books. Enter Tembi Locke’s From Scratch, following her marriage to her Sicilian husband, Saro, and the years after Saro dies from cancer.  This book was really emotional, but I loved the storytelling, as Tembi Locke transitions between her relationship & marriage with Saro and the summers after spent in Sicily with her daughter and Saro’s mother. I had no idea until I followed Tembi Locke on Instagram that the book is currently being filmed for a Netflix TV show adaptation! My Rating: 4/5 Stars 

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Beach Reads + Contemporary Romance: July Review Roundup 

You likely know that summer is my biggest reading season, in part that if I’m spending the day in the pool or on the beach, I have a book (or two) with me, & that I am fortunate enough to enjoy some extra time off in the summer as a teacher. I’m definitely doing the most amount of reading than I have ever done before in the summer, averaging anywhere between 4-6 books a week. I mentioned in my 10+ book mini review round up back in June that because I’m reading so much, I haven’t been necessarily writing full reviews for every single book I read & I’ve been enjoying the shorter length mini review format where I maybe don’t write as much in my traditional mini review posts and share more books that I’ve read. I have a few full length reviews planned for the next few weeks, but I definitely have a feeling I’ll be sharing another similar round-up in July! Today I’ll be sharing mini reviews forYA and adult contemporary books (including some romances of course) & a few beach reads from Elin Hilderbrand. 

The Secret Bridesmaid by Katy Birchall – I LOVED The Secret Bridesmaid. This British contemporary following a woman whose hired by brides to be a bridesmaid/undercover wedding planner and is recommended to serve in a royal wedding for a diva of a bride was SO good. It was the perfect blend of self-growth, relationship development (including friendship & romance), and having such a fun story. If you’re a fan of books with some sort of wedding storyline, check this one out! My Rating: 5/5 Stars 

If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane – My local county library branch is closed for at least the first half of July, so I’ve been visiting another local branch and I’ve loved getting to find books that my local library doesn’t have, including so many books from Mhairi McFarlane! She’s a go-to British contemporary romance author from some of my most trusted book rec sources, so I started with what feels like her most recommended book, If I Never Met You. The book uses the fake dating trope, as lawyer Laurie agrees to fake date her co-worker after her long-time boyfriend and also fellow colleague breaks up with her. I liked that the book begins with Laurie’s relationship with her ex and we see the break-up happen and unravel instead of jumping right into the fake-dating. This was overall a fun read and I’m looking forward to checking out more of her books. My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Heart & Seoul by Jen Federick – I was running on the reading rush that was Axie Oh’s upcoming XOXO (review coming to the blog on Monday!) That made me want to read another book set in South Korea, leading me to Jen Frederick’s Heart & Seoul. This contemporary romance (although I think it does read more as a women’s fiction/contemporary drama) follows Hara, a Korean adoptee who decides to go to Seoul for the first time to learn more about her birth parents. I liked that the book balanced so many elements and wasn’t all about the romance or Hara’s adoption/birth story. The book puts way more focus on family than the romance, although I did like the relationship. I’ve read a few books with Korea as the setting, but this book gave such an interesting perspective on the lifestyle and customs there. I was kind’ve mixed on the ending, in the sense that I thought it would’ve been a unique ending for a contemporary romance while also wanting MORE and I was happy to find out that there will be a book #2, Soulmates, in January 2022. My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand – I’m on a slight & unexpected mission to read as many Elin Hilderbrand book as possible this year. Elin was recently interviewed on Bad on Paper Podcast, and Silver Girl came up in their conversation. I was a bit hesitant going into this one because I wasn’t super intrigued by the synopsis, as the book follows Meredith’s downfall due to her husband’s Ponzi scheme and hiding from the media with her former best friend in Nantucket for the summer. However, I became so much more addicted to this story than expected, having actually loved the focus on friendship and how the story intertwined the past & present. My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

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A FAV SUMMER READ & MORE: June 2021 Mini Reviews

Let me just put out a disclaimer and pull the behinds-the-scenes of being a book blogger by sharing that I have been GREAT at reading books over the past few weeks, but AWFUL about writing reviews right after I read them. 

I blame this personal trend on that I have been reading so much lately and instead of pausing after I finish a book to write my thoughts, I instead pick up another book. Again, great for reading life, not so much blogging life, although I’ve been turning to full length reviews lately more than I feel like I’ve had in a long time. I don’t necessarily feel like I must share reviews on every single book I read, but I have been reading some really great books lately and I feel like it could be so random in a wrap up or favorites post and be like “I loved this book as you know”…. when I’ve barely mentioned it on the blog. I want to have a few more mini review posts shared over the next two weeks, but today’s mini reviews feature a contemporary romance I LOVED, and a YA contemporary & memoir I liked but ultimately felt mixed about upon review reflection. 

Meet Me in Paradise by Libby Hubscher 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Libby Hubscher’s Meet Me in Paradise is one of the best contemporary romances I’ve read all year! It is a little lighter on the romance side, but I just loved everything about this book, from the setting to the self growth to the focus on sisterhood. I figured Meet Me in Paradise would be emotional based on its synopsis, as sisters Marin & Sadie lost their famed journalist mother at a young age, and while Sadie has taken off around the world as a photographer, Marin has always stayed close to home, living in their childhood home. While I figured this book would deal with loss, there was a twist I didn’t see coming (& that I don’t really want to spoil) that gave this book even more depth. I read Meet Me in Paradise on my first beach/pool weekend of the summer and highly recommend picking this one up for summer mood reading this season. 

This isn’t the spoiler, but Sadie convinces Marin to go on vacation together and after a series of mishaps, Marin finds herself spending a ton of time with the resort owner of the island and learning a ton about herself through their experiences. The book’s setting was just so atmospheric, as Marin and Luca explore the (fictional) tropical island of Saba – I can’t help but admit I also loved the sound of the all-exclusive resort cottage Marin resides in. The story also alternates between Marin and another outside narrator, and I loved the way the perspectives tie together in the end. Definitely have your tissues ready, but Meet Me in Paradise was ultimately the perfect blend of contemporary and romance. 

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ADD THESE SUMMER READS: May 2021 Mini Reviews

I’ve been in such a great reading mood lately! I’ve been able to read 1-2 books during the week & then another book or two on the weekends. We’ve been having a few sunny Saturdays and Sundays, which means spending the day outside reading in my backyard. If you’re already preparing your summer TBR like I am, make sure you check out these 4 contemporary books below.

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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Two weekends ago on a sunny Saturday, I was craving a book that I could binge-read while sitting outside all day, which meant it was time to pick up another Elin Hilderbrand book! After loving 28 Summers back in March, I decided to pick up another one of her more recent releases, Summer of ’69. Set in, you guessed it, the summer of 1969, the book follows three daughters and their mother’s summer on Nantucket and Martha Vineyard while their brother & son has been recently deployed to Vietnam. 

I love books that place over the summer and follow the daily happenings of the main characters. Summer of ’69 exactly fits that premise, with a few secrets and minor scandals along the way. I totally admit that I was a little hesitant going into the 1960s setting, but it was so interesting getting transported to the days of the space race and the Vietnam War. There’s also commentary on women’s roles and race, between Blair’s husband’s desire for Blair to stay home & raise their family and Kirby’s relationship with a young black man. I really like Elin Hilderbrand’s books because she’s able to handle so many plot lines and conflicts while also keeping the writing style quick and easy to fly through -aka the perfect beach read. I definitely liked reading from the daughters, Blair, Kirby, and Jessie’s perspectives, more than their mother, who was a bit on the melodramatic side, but I overall loved this book!

I am SO going to read more Elin Hilderbrand books this summer – I think she’s going to be one of my go-tos when I want a book-in-a-day beach or pool read. I immediately put Elin Hilderbrand’s June release, Golden Girl, on hold after I finished reading Summer of ’69

Anna K: Away (Anna K #2) by Jenny Lee 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

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Let it be know already that I love anything having to do with Anna K because I absolutely  LOVED Anna K: Away. The sequel to Jenny Lee’s 2020 release, Anna K, the book picks up during the summer after the events of book #1, in which Anna K & co. are grieving over the loss of Anna K’s beloved (trying to avoid spoilers, but if you’ve read Anna Karenina, you can probably figure out who I’m talking about). Anna K is whisked off to Korea, Dustin, Steve, and Lolly are dealing with their own relationship troubles in NYC, and Bea is off to California for a change of pace of her own.

I just love everything about Anna K: Away so much, from Jenny Lee’s writing style to the glamour and drama of these teens’ world. Yes, it is super extravagant and probably unrealistic, but this book is the absolute perfect kind of escape. I loved all of the settings, from California to the Hamptons to South Korea. I think Anna K’s storyline was particularly my favorite because I loved the K-pop and paparazzi storyline while Anna K deals with loss and figuring out her next steps. I really like Bea as a character so it was fun following her storyline, and Lolly and Steve’s relationship always made for some fun drama. I read Anna K: Away nearly a year after reading book #1 and don’t think you necessarily need a reread to get invested in this sequel. You definitely need to read book #1 before book #2 — and should just read this series regardless because it is such a refreshing and mature take on Gossip Girl-esque YA contemporary. 

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A MEMOIR FAVE AND HYPED CONTEMPORARY ROMANCES: April 2021 Mini Reviews Round 2

Keeping up with my normal reading schedule during some pretty busy weeks as I wrap up my last semester of grad school (!!!) often means more mini reviews vs full length or featured review posts. I have been reading some really great May 2021 releases lately, so expect a few full length reviews for new releases in the next few weeks. In the meantime, today I’ll be sharing mini reviews on 2 contemporary romances from two popular favorites and one of my new-to-me favorite memoirs. 

Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon 

My Rating: 3.75/5 Stars

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This week, I finally got to one of my most anticipated romances for 2020, Lily Menon’s Make Up Break Up. You may be able to tell from the last name of the author, but Lily Menon is also known as Sandhya Menon, aka the author of some of my favorite YA contemporaries like 10 Things I Hate About Pinky and There’s Something About Sweetie. As I mention some of Sandhya Menon’s YA books, I just realized that Make Up Break Up has a slight When Dimple Met Rishi feel (no arranged relationship/set-up by parents) with its tech/app setting. Lily Menon’s first contemporary romance follows Annika, a young tech developer who needs funding her app, Make Up, designed to help couples communicate through relationship problems and predict their future together based on their personalities and communication style. She runs the app with her best friend, June. Her biggest competitor in a pitch war? Hudson Craft of the complete opposite app, Break Up, which helps couples end things with one another via automated messages. 

Make Up Break Up was a fun & mostly light-hearted read, but it overall felt somewhat surface-level. I don’t want to necessarily compare Sandhya Menon’s YA books to her first adult book, but her YA books feel like they almost capture more depth and emotion compared to Make Up Break Up. The book delivered on its synopsis – enemies-to-lovers in the app development world – but I wanted more from the story. Don’t get me wrong, I ate this one up over two days. Once I got settled into Lily Menon’s writing style, I was invested in Annika and June’s app and need to get out of debt to keep Make Up running. I ultimately enjoyed the tech plot and even Annika’s relationship with her father more than I was invested in the romance. While everyone knows that I don’’t necessarily mind a predictable story or set-up, I saw everything coming about Annika and Hudson’s relationship, especially the reasoning behind Break Up. I also thought it was weird that there’s constant mentioning of Annika and Hudson’s past together that doesn’t explained until the very end of the book. Overall, I am ultimately glad that I picked up Make Up Break Up to see Lily Menon’s first take in the contemporary romance world because I love her work in the Dimpleverse companion series, and I’m interested to see what else she may write within this genre. 

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

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The Glass Castle is one of those must-read memoirs for any non-fiction fan, so when a few of my students began reading it this month, I decided to join along with them and was hooked. This memoir follows the childhood of Jeannette Walls, who, along with her three siblings, lived throughout the Southwest in such poor conditions, eventually ending up in a West Virgina mining tall. This book is super dark, often featuring scenes involving sexual abuse, alcohol, and child abuse or neglect. Although The Glass Castle is filled with heavy and dark subject matter, I was absolutely swept up by Jeannette Wall’s writing style. Her writing is so honest and to-the-point, and the book’s short chapters made me feel like I flying through even faster than I likely already was. This book left me thinking so much about Jeannette’s family – there is certainly no denying that her parents made horrible decisions for their family, but the juxtaposition between their way of life and Jeannette’s love for her family is extremely-thought provoking.

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TRAVEL MEETS BRITISH CONTEMPORARIES: April 2021 Mini Reviews 

Everyone knows that contemporary is my forever reading mood, but it seems like contemporary is going to be the theme of reading especially in April. Today, I’ll be sharing thoughts on a few books I finished up in late March and kicked off my reading with in April, including books about a month-long adventure in Italy, a very popular book with a library filled with alternate realities, and a much-loved British contemporary. 

Our Italian Summer by Jennifer Probst 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Due to the lack of travel IRL right now, I’ve recently been reaching for books set in other countries – and apparently books set in Italy! I loved Lori Nielsen Spiegelman’s The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany back in January, and I had been craving another light and fluffy read in that setting ever since. One of my favorite authors and Instagram-book-recommenders, Emily Henry, posted about Jennifer Probst’s Our Italian Summer this year and I was instantly hooked in its synopsis. Told from the perspective of three generations of women from the same family, Our Italian Summer follows grandmother Sophia’s request that her daughter, Francesca, and granddaughter, Allegra, spend a month in Italy together learning about their culture and more importantly, trying to fix Francesca and Allegra’s dynamic. 

This book instantly transported me to Italy and made me want to travel there even more. The descriptions of all the places the Ferrari women visit were so detailed and fully immersed me into the country – I especially now want to visit Rome and Capri… not to mention eat ALL the bread and pasta. I liked the focus on relationship development and growth, as Francesca and Allegra try to reconcile their issues between Francesca’s workaholic tendencies and Allegra’s recent rule (& slightly law)-breaking habits. While Francesca was often in the wrong, there were definitely times when I wanted Sophia to stand up more to Allegra about the way she treated her mother .There’s also some romance, as Francesca and their tour guide bond and Allegra spends time with a cute Irish companion. If you loved the first season of RomComPods, you’ll especially love Francesca’s relationship with the tour guide. This didn’t affect my review of the book necessarily, but I thought there was a slightly weird emphasis on looks, or how certain characters, including Francesca and the male love interests, were described as ‘average’ or ‘not traditionally beautiful’. Overall, Our Italian Summer was such a light-hearted read exploring mother-daughter dynamics that makes me want to book a flight to Italy for a month ASAP!

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

The Midnight Library has been absolutely EVERYWHERE since its release last September. It’s a Good Morning America Book Club pick, Goodreads Choice Awards Winner for Best Fiction, and was recently the Bad on Paper Podcast book club pick for March. There is a trigger warning for suicide, as the book begins with Nora’s decision to end her life. After Nora ends her life, she soon finds herself in an alternate reality in the form of a library, in which she can choose any book that then transports her to lives she could’ve lived if she had made different decisions about her relationships, career, and so much more. 

The Midnight Library is definitely a heavier read, given Nora’s decision to end her life and her depression. The book really adopts this what-if mentality, as Nora gets to experience so many different lives with both good and bad results.There is such a wide variety of Nora’s lives, from being a scientific researcher to pub-owner to swimming champion and so much more. Like many readers, my heart broke the most during Nora’s last book. The story is definitely dark and depressing, but does transition to a much more hopeful message about life and making the most out our lives in both the best and worst circumstances. I definitely see why so many readers have loved this one given its messages about life, but I personally wasn’t super in love. I had a hard time getting into the writing style and following the explanations about the library at times between Nora and the librarian. I wish this book had inspired me or resonated with me as much as other readers, but I overall felt like it was an enjoyable read that ultimately might not stick with me for too long. 

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

After loving Beth O’Leary’s The Switch and highly anticipating The Road Trip, I had to dive into her first book, The Flatshare. This book has circulated throughout so many contemporary/contemporary romance recommendations over the past few years that I finally had to check it out. After a difficult break up (trigger warning for emotional abuse), book editor Tiffy is in need of a new and cheap living arrangement. She soon finds herself, sharing a flat with a nurse, Leon, with a unique living situation: since Leon works at night and Tiffy works during the day, they’ll never see each other…which makes it easier to share the flat’s 1 bed. However, Leon and Tiffy’s notes for another about cleaning the flat and food in the fridge soon turns into them learning much more about one other than they could have ever expected.

The Flatshare was a light read that I overall really enjoyed, but incorporated heavier themes than I had expected when I first picked up the book. Tiffy has had an on-and-off again relationship that has finally been put to an end, but she begins to realize that she suffered from emotional abuse throughout their time together and struggles with that as she begins to start talking to other guys…and when said ex keeps on popping up. Meanwhile, Leon is trying to balance life an overnight nurse, his relationship with his girlfriend, and most importantly, helping his brother out as much as he can for a crime he didn’t commit. Tiffy’s relationship with her ex and Leon’s commitment to helping his brother added a complex layer to the story that was very interesting to explore. As Tiffy and Leon leave notes for each other around the flat, they begin to learn about this issues and help each out. The book by no means is all dark: Tiffy is a book editor, with her biggest client as a super knitter who seems to always need Tiffy as a model for some humor-infused book events. Tiffy and Leon’s notes were often sweet and funny, and it was so much fun seeing their relationship transfer from post-its to in-person. I also laughed out so many times over Tiffy’s best friend, Rachel, and her remarks on romance and relationships.  I definitely recommend The Flatshare for readers looking for a blend of light-hearted contemporary and more serious situations. 

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Have you read Our Italian Summer, The Midnight Library, or The Flatshare? What did you think about them? Are they on your TBR? Share in the comments