Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Romantic Comedy Review: Talk Bookish to Me by Kate Bromley

Talk Bookish to Me by Kate Bromley
Published: May 25th, 2021

Publisher: Graydon House

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Heat rating: 🔥🔥

# of pages: 320

My rating: 4.5 stars

Acquired this book: From the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for honest consideration

Add to Goodreads

Buy: Amazon CA || Amazon US || Indigo

Warning: This review contains marked spoilers

Kara Sullivan’s life is full of love—albeit fictional. As a bestselling romance novelist and influential bookstagrammer, she’s fine with getting her happily-ever-after fix between the covers of a book.

But right now? Not only is Kara’s best friend getting married next week—which means big wedding stress—but the deadline for her next novel is looming, and she hasn’t written a single word. The last thing she needs is for her infuriating first love, Ryan Thompson, to suddenly appear in the wedding party. But Ryan’s unexpected arrival sparks a creative awakening in Kara that inspires the steamy historical romance she desperately needs to deliver.

With her wedding duties intensifying, her deadline getting closer by the second and her bills not paying themselves, Kara knows there’s only one way for her to finish her book and to give her characters the ever-after they deserve. But can she embrace the unlikely, ruggedly handsome muse—who pushes every one of her buttons—to save the wedding, her career and, just maybe, write her own happy ending?

Talk Bookish to Me is basically a love letter to the romance genre. Our heroine, Kara, is a romance author, a fierce defender of the genre, and a bookstagrammer (so she’s basically me). She’s spent months unable to write her next book and, with her deadline looming, is getting desperate. When she’s reunited with her first love - the guy who broke her heart ten years ago, and who she still harbours a ton of resentment toward - she’s both irritated and intrigued to discover his presence has unblocked her creative flow.

This book was so charming. It had me laughing within the first few pages, and I connected easily to Kara. I loved the combination of second chance and enemies-to-lovers; Kara and Ryan clearly had unresolved feelings for each other and despite the initial anger they felt toward each other for all that had happened, they couldn’t deny their lingering feelings or the chemistry between them. I also really enjoyed the friendship dynamics between Kara and her two best friends and how supportive they were.

Now, here’s where we get into spoiler territory: Cheating is usually a deal-breaker for me. If I’d known that aspect of the plot going in, I’m not sure I would have read this book, which would have been a shame because I genuinely enjoyed it. The way it all happened made me sad, angry, and disappointed in Ryan. I feel so torn because what he did was wrong and inexcusable, but...I appreciated how it all worked out? People make mistakes and while this was a colossal one, he and Kara were clearly in love and were meant for each other. I do wish there had been some other conflict because it feels icky seeming like I’m ‘okay’ with the cheating aspect. I’m not okay with it, but Ryan knew what he did was wrong and was willing to face the consequences. People aren’t perfect and we can’t expect fictional characters to be either. As an author herself and a champion of romance, Kara knew that better than anyone, and I feel like her decision to forgive Ryan was an informed one. She loved him enough to forgive him and forge ahead with a relationship. As readers, our viewpoint is subjective and we bring our own personal biases and histories, so I completely understand how that part of the book will be a hard no for some people. // End spoilers

I think Talk Bookish to Me will be a hit with many romance readers. It definitely was with me! I’ll look forward to more books from Kate Bromley.

Have you read Talk Bookish to Me?

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Romantic Comedy Review: Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall

Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake (Winner Bakes All #1) by Alexis Hall
Published: May 18th, 2021

Publisher: Forever

Genre: Romantic Comedy/LGBTQ+

Heat rating: 🔥🔥

# of pages: 448 

My rating: 3.5 stars

Acquired this book: From the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for honest consideration

Add to Goodreads

Buy: Amazon Canada || Amazon US || Indigo

Warning: This review contains mild spoilers

Following the recipe is the key to a successful bake. Rosaline Palmer has always lived by those rules—well, except for when she dropped out of college to raise her daughter, Amelie. Now, with a paycheck as useful as greaseproof paper and a house crumbling faster than biscuits in tea, she’s teetering on the edge of financial disaster. But where there’s a whisk there’s a way...and Rosaline has just landed a spot on the nation’s most beloved baking show.

Winning the prize money would give her daughter the life she deserves—and Rosaline is determined to stick to the instructions. However, more than collapsing trifles stand between Rosaline and sweet, sweet victory.  Suave, well-educated, and parent-approved Alain Pope knows all the right moves to sweep her off her feet, but it’s shy electrician Harry Dobson who makes Rosaline question her long-held beliefs—about herself, her family, and her desires.

Rosaline fears falling for Harry is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Yet as the competition—and the ovens—heat up, Rosaline starts to realize the most delicious bakes come from the heart.

It’s no secret Alexis Hall’s Boyfriend Material was one of my top favourite books of 2020. Because of that, Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake was one of my most anticipated books of 2021, and I was extra excited that one of my favourite publishers, Forever, was publishing it. After reading this book, I have so many thoughts and feelings. So many. I will say it started and ended great - I was laughing within the first few pages and I was cheering for Rosaline in the end - but the whole rest of it was a bit of a roller coaster for me.

My main issue with this book was how preachy it felt. Within the first 20%, there were three instances where Rosaline was super preachy, and it continued on throughout the book. I’m here for inclusivity and calling out injustices and wrong assumptions, but the fact so many scenes turned into ‘teachable moments’ where Rosaline climbed up on her soapbox and told people they were wrong and why, it got to be a bit much. All of that was paired with the fact it seemed like nobody in the entire book had ever known someone who’d had a baby at 19 and made a huge deal over the fact Rosaline did. Maybe it’s because I know so many people who had babies in their late teens and early twenties so it’s not a big deal to me, but it was a massive deal to literally everyone in the entire book when they found out. Plus it really irked me that someone Rosaline barely knew - a love interest, no less - asked her why she hadn’t had an abortion. Who asks that of someone they just met?!

I got to a point where I rolled my eyes when a conversation was heading a certain way or someone said something even remotely offensive because I knew Rosaline would dust off the ol’ soapbox and we’d get another lesson. On the one hand, I appreciate that these things were included in an overall lighthearted, fun book, but I think a sprinkling would have worked better than having it dumped in repeatedly. The whole preachy aspect was made even..funnier? Stranger?...by the fact Rosaline herself was incredibly judgemental and often made snap judgments about people the moment they opened their mouths.

I’m also not 100% sure how I feel about the romance(s); Alain quickly revealed himself to be a jerk, yet Rosaline seemed determined to make things work with him because he was everything she thought she should want. I kept wondering at what point the red flags from Alain would smack her on the head and knock some sense into her. Harry was sweet, swoony, and very different from the typical love interest, which I loved. I enjoyed his interactions with Rosaline, but I would have loved to see more of the focus on him and not the guy who turned out to be a completely irredeemable scumbag. I’m not a huge fan of love triangles to begin with and this one fell flat for me because of how obviously wrong one of the guys was for her, plus a general lack of chemistry.

Okay, now that all that’s off my chest, I’ll move into the positive. As with Boyfriend Material, this book had me giggling so much. I love Hall’s wit and humour; the way he writes inner dialogue and banter is genius. Despite my issues with Rosaline’s preachiness, I did like her and connect with her, and I genuinely ended up rooting for her and wanting her to succeed. She reminded me of Lorelai Gilmore from Gilmore Girls in a way; despite having rich parents who put a lot of pressure on her, she wanted to forge her own path, raise her daughter on her terms, and find a sustainable (and enjoyable) way to support herself. I enjoyed watching her figure out what mattered to her, and felt like her stumbles along the way were realistic. Even when the things she did made me shake my head or roll my eyes, I still appreciated that more than a perfect, unrealistic character. And even though she came across as preachy, I appreciated how she learned to stand up for herself. 

Overall, despite my issues with Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake, I did enjoy it. I was fully invested in Rosaline’s story and felt like she was a friend I was cheering on from the sidelines. This is apparently the first of three books in the Winner Bakes All series, and I’ll be curious to see what Hall has in store for us next.

Read my review of Boyfriend Material

Have you read Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake? Have you ever thought about trying out for a cooking show or any other reality show?

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Young Adult Review: Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson

Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson
Published: May 4th, 2021

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Genre: Contemporary Young Adult

# of pages: 416

My rating: 4 stars

Acquired this book: From the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for honest consideration

Add to Goodreads

Buy: Amazon Canada || Amazon US || Indigo

Two girls. One night. Zero phones.

Kat and Stevie—best friends, theater kids, polar opposites—have snuck away from the suburbs to spend a night in New York City. They have it all planned out. They’ll see a play, eat at the city’s hottest restaurant, and have the best. Night. Ever. What could go wrong?

Well. Kind of a lot?

They’re barely off the train before they’re dealing with destroyed phones, family drama, and unexpected Pomeranians. Over the next few hours, they’ll have to grapple with old flames, terrible theater, and unhelpful cab drivers. But there are also cute boys to kiss, parties to crash, dry cleaning to deliver (don’t ask), and the world’s best museum to explore.

Over the course of a wild night in the city that never sleeps, both Kat and Stevie will get a wake-up call about their friendship, their choices…and finally discover what they really want for their future.

That is, assuming they can make it to Grand Central before the clock strikes midnight.

I’ve been a fan of Morgan Matson’s books since I fell in love with Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour ten years ago. When you pick up one of her books, you know you’re going to get well-developed characters, realistic portrayals of friendships, lots of laughs, likely a few tears, and a sweet and swoony romance. Take Me Home Tonight had all those things, plus a fun premise and a vivid setting.

Best friends Kat and Stevie are complete opposites, but they love each other unconditionally and would do anything for each other. So when Stevie’s dad bails on her 18th birthday dinner in New York City, Kat suggests they go into the city anyway for a night of fun. Their plan is foolproof, as far as Kat’s concerned...but they weren’t counting on one disaster and mishap after another starting before they even arrived in the city. 

This book was so much fun. It started out a little slow and took me a while to warm up to Kat and Stevie, but once I did I was completely invested in their story and was cheering them on. They were well-developed and realistic, and I could relate to each of them in different ways. I was amazed and impressed with how well Matson managed to pull off so much believable character development and growth in the span of the one-night setting. There were also a lot of great side characters in this book (Brad the dog and Cary-with-six-jobs were my favourites), and I loved how New York City really came alive and felt like a character itself.

While I know I’m not the intended target audience for this book - I’m more than twice Kat and Stevie’s age - I also know many adults will read this book and think about how the girls’ phoneless adventure was how we lived every day growing up. It was amusing while also being realistic; we’re all so attached to and dependent on our phones these days for entertainment, mindless scrolling, posting endless updates, keeping in touch with everyone we know, taking pictures, etc. If Stevie and Kat had had their phones, their night would have ended up a lot different, so I loved that aspect of the story and how it forced them to be resourceful and also live in the moment.

I’m not sure if I can call this an ‘issue’, but my only *thing* with this book was how long it was. I’ve come to expect that from Matson’s books and you always inevitably get to a part where it doesn’t actually feel all that long, but 400+ pages for a contemporary set in the span of one night is a lot. Mild spoiler alert: I had mixed feelings about the side story with Teri; it was entertaining, but it was also completely unnecessary and made a really long book even longer. And while the main storyline with Kat and Stevie was wild, it was mostly believable, whereas Teri’s storyline was just so out there.

Take Me Home Tonight was a highly entertaining read. I felt like I was right there with Kat and Stevie in NYC. I felt for both of them and was rooting for them. I laughed at their mishaps and felt the pangs at the painful lessons they learned. After ten years, Morgan Matson continues to be a favourite author, and I couldn’t be happier.

Have you read Take Me Home Tonight? Who are some of your auto-buy authors?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...