ARC REVIEW: WHERE THE LOST WANDER

Author: Amy Harmon
Links
: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository .
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Historical; Romance.
Release Date: April 28th 2020.

synopsis

ARC REVIEW : HEADLINERS (LONDON CELEBRITIES #5)

Author: Lucy Parker
Links
: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository .
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary; Romance.
Release Date: January 20th 2020.

synopsis

Sparks fly when two feuding TV presenters are thrown together to host a live morning show in Lucy Parker’s latest enemies-to-lovers contemporary romance.

He might be the sexiest man in London, according to his fan site (which he definitely writes himself), but he’s also the most arrogant man she’s ever met.

She might have the longest legs he’s ever seen, but she also has the sharpest tongue.

For years, rival TV presenters Sabrina Carlton and Nick Davenport have traded barbs on their respective shows. The public can’t get enough of their feud, but after Nick airs Sabrina’s family scandals to all of Britain, the gloves are off. They can barely be in the same room together—but these longtime enemies are about to become the unlikeliest of cohosts.

With their reputations on the rocks, Sabrina and Nick have one last chance to save their careers. If they can resurrect a sinking morning show, they’ll still have a future in television. But with ratings at an all-time low and a Christmas Eve deadline to win back the nation’s favor, the clock is ticking—and someone on their staff doesn’t want them to succeed.

Small mishaps on set start adding up, and Sabrina and Nick find themselves—quelle horreur—working together to hunt down the saboteur…and discovering they might have more in common than they thought. When a fiery encounter is caught on camera, the public is convinced that the reluctant cohosts are secretly lusting after one another.

The public might not be wrong.

Their chemistry has always been explosive, but with hate turning to love, the stakes are rising and everything is on the line. Neither is sure if they can trust these new feelings…or if they’ll still have a job in the New Year.


review

Lucy Parker yet again delivers a winsome addition in what has become one of my favorite contemporary romance series.

It’s  always a delight revisiting the world of London Celebrities that I’ve come to adore. This time we move to the world of television. And although this book can be read as a standalone, the protagonists are still suffering the aftermath from the incidents from the previous book The Austen Playbook.

Rival presenters Nick and Sabrina are forced to work on a morning show. This is a last resort for both of them to bring their careers back into track, after a scandalous year for each of them. Nick was caught saying some very harsh things about a media mogul on video, and Sabrina punched her cheating ex and an actor by profession on live TV. Suffice it to say, they have to make this morning show work. But the problem is – they can’t stand each other. It became worse when in the previous Nick broke the news about a big family secret of Sabrina to the world that affected not only Sabrina but her sister Freddie too. Nick has since felt remorseful but Sabrina will have none of that.

No trope gets me as excited as enemies-to-lovers. And adding workplace romance to that works like cherry on the top! But none of that matters if it’s not executed well. And how well does Lucy Parker execute it? Sabrina and Nick had sparks even in the previous book. And I’d been excited about their book ever since. Also, I loved Sabrina. She’s a hot headed mess but also fiercely protective over those who she cares about. Nick is my favorite kind of hero. He’s charming and handsome. And he is aware of it too.. That gives him a self-confidence that is adorable and annoying at the same time.

The thing that always that end up disappointing me about enemies-to-lovers is how often the characters act immaturely and go way of out line in their self righteousness. But here there’s no such thing. Both Sabrina and Nick are mature and professional. They also respect each other. And while the previous books in the serious have had sub-plots of some mystery or intrigue that I felt unnecessarily got out of hand, that wasn’t the case here.

This book also had a suspense element to it about an mysterious crew member sabotaging things for the show. And although it created for some hilarious mix-ups, nothing was outlandish or over-the-top about it. The pace and the sub-plot did not drag down the story, which was one of my issues with the last book.

The focus throughout the book is very much on the two characters. I loved the progression of the relationship between the two from unresolved sexual tension to a conscious acknowledgement of their attraction that evolves into mature relationship. I particularly loved how these two always communicated with each other and respected each other’s individuality. A healthy relationship and oodles of chemistry made this my favorite book of the series!


review★★★★★

BOOK REVIEW : THE SILENT PATIENT

Author: Alex Michaelides
Links
: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository .
Publisher: Celadon Books.
Genre: Mystery; Thriller; Suspense.
Warnings: Violence, Mental sickness, Mentions of suicide.
Release Date: February 5th 2019.

synopsis

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him…


review

So I finally rode what I’d like to call the hype-train, almost a YEAR after its release. Yes. But there’s a reason that I was late to the party. I’d found the premise very intriguing, and yet I was wary after seeing all the hype. I mean, I can’t be the only one who’s been betrayed by the hype more often than not. And while I’m not on board with the idea that this book is perfect, I do understand the reason behind the raving reviews.

It’s the BIG TWIST. And right now I’m annoyed about it because I can’t actually go into details about my feelings about the book. That would just spoil the BIG TWIST. But the thing is, I didn’t find it to be a huge twist. Did it make me go WTF when I read the reveal? Of course. But, was it completely unexpected? Uh, no. See, I have this bad habit of trying to think of all possible scenarios that the story could lead to, when I start a book, especially a suspense. And the big twist did come to my mind among other possibilities. But I had definitely not expected it to go down the way it did. And the author sure deserves to be commended for that.

The story follows Psychotherapist Theo Faber as he takes up a job at an institution just so that he could personally treat Alicia Berenson, a popular painter who went silent after allegedly killing her husband, and is residing in the same facility Theo joins. This story had quite a few things working against it right from the start. First was my inability to get on board with the motives of the characters. I kept constantly questioning the logic of the plot. Second was again my inability to connect with any of the characters. Third was the pacing. The pace is slow at first and the plot takes time to pick up. And finally, that ending… I felt that the while the twist took the story to a whole another level, it also forced the author to compromise a little with the storytelling. There were little questions still nagging me after the end. I would have liked the author taking a few more pages to wrap things up nicely.

As far as thrillers go, The Silent Patient delivers. Quite an impressive debut from the new writer. I liked it a lot, but it had potential to have had a higher impact on me. That’s where I feel that the story let me down. But I’d still recommend everyone to read it.


ratings

★★★☆☆

BOOK REVIEW : LUCKY CALLER

Author: Emma Mills
Links
: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository .
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company.
Genre: Young Adult; High School; Contemporary; Romance.
Warnings: None.
Release Date: January 14th 2020.

synopsis

Lucky Caller

When Nina decides to take a radio broadcasting class her senior year, she expects it to be a walk in the park. Instead, it’s a complete disaster.

The members of Nina’s haphazardly formed radio team have approximately nothing in common. And to maximize the awkwardness her group includes Jamie, a childhood friend she’d hoped to basically avoid for the rest of her life.

The show is a mess, internet rumors threaten to bring the wrath of two fandoms down on their heads, and to top it all off Nina’s family is on the brink of some major upheaval.

Everything feels like it’s spiraling out of control―but maybe control is overrated?

With the warmth, wit, intimate friendships, and heart-melting romance she brings to all her books, Emma Mills crafts a story about believing in yourself, owning your mistakes, and trusting in human connection in Lucky Caller


review

Emma Mills has somehow decoded the art of writing consistently good Young Adult books, because she keeps doling them out year after year, never compromising on the quality. And Lucky Caller might just be my favorite book by her. Honestly, this is how every story about high school life should be like. Lots of warmth, some teenage angst, family drama, romance and humor. 

Nina’s mother is getting married. And although she genuinely likes Dan, the guy her mom is marrying, she’s still on the fence over how to take the new changes coming her way. She’s also starting her final semester and decides to take the elective class on radio broadcasting, where she is forced to be in a group with Sasha, Joydeep and Jamie (her ex-best friend who she has some history with).

I loved every bit about their radio broadcasting course. The course is basically about every group coming up with their own radio show for the school radio, which would air in hourly slots on every school-day. Although Nina and co. treat it as a walk in the park at first, but after some hilarious hijinks it’s clear that they need to step up their game. And desperate times call for desperate actions. Which leads to even more hijinks. It’s just too entertaining and somewhat realistic.

Even though the parts with the radio assignment were my favorite, I enjoyed the bits with Nina’s family no less. The author created a relatable family, particularly the equation between the sisters resonating with me. And I liked how each of the 3 sisters – Rose, Nina and Sidney had their own colors and their own arcs even if small. The author uses flashbacks to show us the small cracks between them and their dad who’s a radio show host living in LA. It’s also through flashbacks that we see what exactly transpired between Nina and Jamie.

Emma Mills is a great writer of the Young Adult genre, because she can write teenage characters well. Joydeep, for instance is as teenager highschooler as you can get. He is also the most hilarious character I’ve read in a long time and made me laugh out loud too many times. Sasha also won me over with her no-nonsense attitude. But it was Jamie who melted my heart – just as he did Nina’s – at every opportunity he got. He’s just the sweetest and most adorable hero, his personality perfectly complementary to that of Nina’s sarcastic and reticent nature. Theirs is a friends-to-lovers romance. It’s a slow burn and I enjoyed it very much.

If I had to talk of any issues I had with the story, it would be how little the character of Nina’s dad was explored, his history unexplained, and how some plot points were not wrapped up neatly. This made for an ending which wasn’t tight and has me wishing for a sequel. But ultimately, the story and the characters resonated with me, despite some minor flaws. The writing was impeccable and the storytelling was solid, albeit a little loose. My love for Emma Mills’ writing has only increased, as has my love for her habit of leaving references to her other stories in every book, like Easter eggs to be spotted by her regular readers. Anyways, I definitely plan to revisit this story and this world in the near future.


ratings
★★★★★

BOOK REVIEW: THE MOST FUN WE EVER HAD

A dazzling, multigenerational novel in which the four adult daughters of a Chicago couple—still madly in love after forty years—recklessly ignite old rivalries until a long-buried secret threatens to shatter the lives they’ve built.

When Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson fall in love in the 1970s, they are blithely ignorant of all that’s to come. By 2016, their four radically different daughters are each in a state of unrest: Wendy, widowed young, soothes herself with booze and younger men; Violet, a litigator-turned-stay-at-home-mom, battles anxiety and self-doubt when the darkest part of her past resurfaces; Liza, a neurotic and newly tenured professor, finds herself pregnant with a baby she’s not sure she wants by a man she’s not sure she loves; and Grace, the dawdling youngest daughter, begins living a lie that no one in her family even suspects. Above it all, the daughters share the lingering fear that they will never find a love quite like their parents’.

As the novel moves through the tumultuous year following the arrival of Jonah Bendt—given up by one of the daughters in a closed adoption fifteen years before—we are shown the rich and varied tapestry of the Sorensons’ past: years marred by adolescence, infidelity, and resentment, but also the transcendent moments of joy that make everything else worthwhile.

Spanning nearly half a century, and set against the quintessential American backdrop of Chicago and its prospering suburbs, Lombardo’s debut explores the triumphs and burdens of love, the fraught tethers of parenthood and sisterhood, and the baffling mixture of affection, abhorrence, resistance, and submission we feel for those closest to us. In painting this luminous portrait of a family’s becoming, Lombardo joins the ranks of writers such as Celeste Ng, Elizabeth Strout, and Jonathan Franzen as visionary chroniclers of our modern lives.


review
I have a hard time as it is to make my reviews short. Even when the books are short and sweet, with only a couple of main characters, and spanning a few months. The Most Fun We Ever Had is a 532 page book, about 6 main characters and spanning half a century. A piece of cake, right?

So, yeah. I’ll just diverge from my usual approach of writing reviews, to ensure that I don’t end up writing a novella myself while reviewing the book. Here I go.

Story

The novel is centered on a dysfunctional family. The story alternates between past and present. The past chronicles the whole history of the family, from the first meeting of Marilyn and David – the parents – to all the important events that shape up their family. This is a character-driven story. It’s the characters’ complex decisions and actions that take the story forward. I found parts of it gripping, and others hard to get by.

Characters

There’s only one word for describing each of the characters here – flawed. They have all at one point or another behaved selfishly, done terrible things and hurt others. I found David and Marilyn to be careless and irresponsible more than once. Wendy, the eldest sister, is the brashest and doesn’t hold back from punches. But she’s been dealt the worst among them all. And that made me dislike her the least among the characters. I found Liza horrible for the way she treated her boyfriend suffering from depression. Grace also annoyed me with her lies and immaturity

But it was Violet that I despised. This is a character who’s the most selfish and inconsiderate throughout the book. The way she treats Jonah – the son who she had given up for adoption right after his birth 15 years ago, and is again now back in her life – is just awful. Her insecurities about him hurting her family of a husband and two sons drive her to do some horrible things. The author does her best to redeem her in the end, but it didn’t work for me. In fact, it was only Jonah who I cared about and probably read the whole book for. If it wasn’t for him, I’d probably have DNF’d it.

Writing

Even though I wasn’t a fan of the characters, I did like the very realistic portrayal of sisterhood. The complicated feelings between sisters – love, loyalty, jealousy, entitlement, and above all forgiveness – are all very convincingly conveyed in the story. The writing was engaging but it wasn’t perfect by any stretch. The story touches upon some very serious issues like infidelity, mental health, alcohol abuse, grief. But the author treats them with very little respect and only uses them as plot devices or an afterthought.  And that was a big let down.

I find it commendable how the book is unapologetic about how realistic and humane its characters and their actions are. It’s not perfect. Real life hardly ever is. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it, does it?

P.S. I failed in my attempt to keep it concise. But I know myself well enough to be happy that the review wasn’t even bigger.


ratings

★★★☆☆

BOOK REVIEW: THE MAP FROM HERE TO THERE

Acclaimed author Emery Lord crafts a gorgeous story of friendship and identity, daring to ask: What happens after happily ever after?

It’s senior year, and Paige Hancock is finally living her best life. She has a fun summer job, great friends, and a super charming boyfriend who totally gets her. But senior year also means big decisions. Weighing “the rest of her life,” Paige feels her anxiety begin to pervade every decision she makes. Everything is exactly how she always wanted it to be–how can she leave it all behind next year? In her head, she knows there is so much more to experience after high school. But in her heart, is it so terrible to want everything to stay the same forever?

Emery Lord’s award-winning storytelling shines with lovable characters and heartfelt exploration of life’s most important questions.


review

I wasn’t surprised when I heard some mixed reactions about this book before starting it. Because it would be difficult to attain the perfection that The Start of Me and You did for me. And my excitement for this book was more to do with my wish of revisiting this universe and the group of characters who I came to love.

And ironically, it was the characterization that was one of my main problems with this book. One of my favorite things about the first book was how every character got the chance to shine. But I felt that we don’t get that enough here. For example, I’d been rooting for Paige’s bestie Tessa and Max’s cousin Ryan, because of their flirty equation and Ryan’s obvious interest in her, in the last book. I mean, a main part of that book was how Paige and Max were like Jane and Bingley, while Tessa and Ryan were like Elizabeth and Darcy.

But we find out at the very beginning that Tessa got herself a girlfriend over the Summer. I didn’t know whether to be happy that this was introduced so naturally and not made a big deal of (a big yay for LGBT); or be disappointed that we didn’t get more details about how a character who gave no signs of being homosexual in the first book, just suddenly went through such an important transformation over a span of 2 months and we didn’t get to be a party to this character development.

Speaking of Ryan, a character who we got to see have some major moments in the first book, doesn’t have that big of a role to play. I also felt that we didn’t get enough of Morgan and Kayleigh here. There is a part where Morgan drops a big bomb on Tessa about herself drunkenly, and that’s it. There’s no more discussion on it,

Almost everything takes a backseat in this book to Paige. We spend half the book on Paige overthinking every little thing. While I found that endearing in the first book, this time the author just took it too far. Yes, she’s a teenager. She’s right to be flawed and be indecisive and self-involved. But we already saw her doing this in the previous book and overcome it to a large extent. And when we see her doing the same things again, and regressing on her own, what was all that character growth from the first book for?

It also didn’t help that a whole lot of the plot is reliant on Tessa’s overthinking. She has decided over the Summer that she wants to study script-writing in New York or LA. She’s worried that this will cause friction between her divorced and currently dating parents. She’s worried about how it will impact her relationship with Max. Then when Max tells her he’s also applying to the same areas, she’s worried of the pressure it puts on her. And all that’s fine and realistic. But the main conflict was stretched too thin and at one point, the charm was lost.

For all my complaining, I still loved the friendship between Paige, Tessa, Kayleigh, Morgan and Ryan. Paige and Max were really cute initially (when they weren’t being stupid). Their relationship was also realistic. I loved Paige’s family again too. And I’d have been happier had the ending been satisfactory. But that ending was abrupt with one major plot point still being unresolved.


ratings★★★☆☆

BOOK REVIEW : LOVE ON LEXINGTON AVENUE

From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne comes the second delightfully charming installment in the Central Park Pact series, following a young widow whose newfound cynicism about love is challenged by a sexy, rough-around-the-edges contractor.

There are no good men left in New York City. At least that’s Claire Hayes’s conviction after finding out her late husband was not the man she thought he was. Determined to rid her home of anything that reminds her of her cheating husband, Claire sets out to redesign her boring, beige Upper East Side brownstone and make it something all her own. But what starts out as a simple renovation becomes a lot more complicated when she meets her bad-tempered contractor Scott Turner.

Scott bluntly makes it known to Claire that he only took on her house for a change of pace from the corporate offices and swanky hotels he’s been building lately, and he doesn’t hesitate to add that he has no patience for a pampered, damaged princess with a penchant for pink. But when long workdays turn into even longer nights, their mutual wariness morphs into something more complicated—a grudging respect, and maybe even attraction…


review

I did not have high expectations from this one, having disliked the first installment of the series. But sometimes having lower expectations helps. I went in for a typical romance, and I came out quite happy with the book.

Although I’m still not on board with the whole premise of the friendship between the girls, it was easier to suspend my initial disbelief. In case you didn’t know, each of the three books in this series feature three women who met and became friends on the day of the funeral of the man who had cheated on all of them. In this book I could pretend that these three women became friends under believable circumstances.

Claire had it the worst out of the three women. She was married to the cheater. Her husband had gone around saying that they were separated and getting a divorce. This book is about her trying to move on. And she intends to do that by redoing her house. And she enlists the help of Scott for that. He’s totally not her kind of guy. He’s all gruff and unpolished. But they have more in common than they imagined. He was also betrayed by his fiance. And while Claire no longer wants a man in her life, Scott only believes in one-night stands and flings. It was interesting to see their dynamic evolve throughout the book.

There were certain parts in the second half that felt predictable. And that ending was a little too cheesy for me. But I enjoyed the overall story. And in this one, I could actually enjoy the friendship between Claire, Audrey and Naomi. I liked the contrast between the three friends and how Claire could count on the other two in two different types of scenarios. But what this book did the most was make me anticipate the next book about Naomi and her best friend Oliver even more; I’d already been looking forward to it when I read the first book.

But a part of me is wary about my higher expectations for the third installment. Because it’s always better to go blind into a book and enjoy the ride it takes you in, like Love on Lexington Avenue did.


ratings

★★★☆☆