It has been since May since I gave a book 5 stars, so please don’t take this review lightly. I thought I would never read another book that made me laugh, give me a punch in the gut, and warm my heart all at once. Alison Cochrun has done it with The Charm Offensive.
This is a review I knew I needed to write right after I finished the book (well, 10 hours later). I don’t want to risk forgetting the tenderness, the beauty, the overall..charm…of the story. These characters have been forever sorted in my brain with all of my old favorites (lookin’ at you, Lara Jean Covey, Peter Kavinsky and Monte Montague) and I am certain this book will float around in my brain for a LONG time.
Here are FIVE things I loved about this book:
As someone who lives with mental illness, the depression representation in this book was perfection. I’ve never seen a character that felt like they were living my experience, but I got to see that in Dev. The, “I don’t know, sometimes I get into these moods, but I’m fine” bit? That’s me. And it was SO great to see it on a page. Reading a book about two men falling in love may not seem like something I can relate to, but I RELATED SO HARD to this aspect of the book (and it’s absolutely a good chunk of the story).
The parallel to ABC’s The Bachelor tv show was what pulled me in in the first place. As an avid watcher of the show (that I definitely know is mindless trash television), it cracked me up to see it written out. The show is ridiculous, I know, but reading it? Even more ridiculous and I loved every second of it.
Cochrun’s writing style was engaging from start to finish. While written in third person, we still can see into Dev and Charlie’s brains as the readers. We got a great picture of who they are as individuals.
And while reading into Dev’s thoughts helped us get to know Dev (and Charlie’s thoughts helped us get to know Charlie), it also helped us learn about their love interest. Seeing Charlie through Dev’s eyes? Oh, my heart. Seeing Dev through Charlie’s eyes? Even better. Instead of only hearing someone think poorly of themself, we got to see their partners perspective, too. Cochrun nailed it.
Romance often portrays love in unhealthy ways. This book did not. These characters were kind, compassionate, loving, and respectful. It was refreshing to see it portrayed this way.
I do want to urge readers that this book may not be a knock out of the park for everyone. The main reason this one touched me the way it did was the mental health portrayal, something that may not be as important to other readers. But ratings are subjective, and that’s why I gave this one five glowing stars.
Content warnings: vomit, biphobia, cracked door steam (not fully open, not fully closed, either), and descriptions of panic attack/depression. If these things are triggering for you, you may not want to read this book.
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This was my first Mary Kay Andrews and I was pleasantly surprised by the storyline and characters. I really enjoyed the depth to the story and how it all came full circle at the end. The characters each had their own little side story, too, which kept me engaged in each conversation throughout the story.
I liked the main character, Ivy, and how she worked so hard to be strong, independent, but also a good friend to others. She is someone I would aspire to be like if I ever found myself in her situation (divorced and living on my own unexpectedly)! The town she moved to seemed charming and welcoming, and she didn’t hesitate to make social connections and to get involved with the community.
I also really liked Ezra. My biggest complaint about this book is that we didn’t get to hear anything from his end – I think the book would’ve benefited from a dual perspective. I would’ve liked more back story on him, too. He was intriguing and genuine and kind, something I love to see in male leads.
Overall this was a solid read and I would read another by her!
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One of my favorite things about the holiday season is the new books that come out with it! 2021 is no different, and I cannot wait to get my hands on some of the books that are ready to come out (or have already come out)! Here are 10 books that I am adding to my wishlist this year.
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THE SANTA SUIT by Mary Kay Andrews GENRE: Women’s fiction OUT NOW!
I had the pleasure of reading this sweet story early thanks to Netgalley, and this is one that women’s fiction lovers won’t want to miss. A small town setting coupled with a swoon worthy love interest makes for the perfect holiday read. Click the following links to purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.org.
THE MATZAH BALL by Jean Meltzer GENRE: Adult contemporary romance OUT NOW!
This book set in the publishing world about a Jewish woman who secretly loves Christmas sounds heartwarming and eye opening. I am already kicking myself for not picking it up when I visited the bookstore this morning! Click the following links to purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.org.
KEEP ME WARM AT CHRISTMAS by Brenda Novak Genre: Women’s fiction Out September 28
This is technically part of a series, but from what I understand they can all be read as stand alone novels. This one features a Hollywood starlet and her new handsome roommate. Click the following links to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.
THE HOLIDAY SWAP by Maggie Knox GENRE: Adult contemporary romance Out October 5
I love a good amnesia story, so this one seems right up my alley! If you are looking for a Christmas read that isn’t as romance centered, this may be the one for you. Click the following links to purchase it via Amazon or Bookshop.org.
SO, THIS IS CHRISTMAS by Tracy Andreen GENRE: Young adult contemporary romance Out October 5
This may be the one I am most excited about! I love love love young adult love stories at Christmas, so this may be the one I read first. click the following links to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.
NICK AND NOEL’S CHRISTMAS PLAYLIST by Codi Hall GENRE: Adult contemporary romance Out October 5
Any book with a dog on the cover and is described as friends to lovers makes me want to read it! I need it stat. Click the following links to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.
A HOLY JOLLY DIAWLI by Sonya Lalli GENRE: Adult contemporary romance Out October 5
I enjoyed Serena Singh Flips the Script by this author and am looking forward to another story with strong Indian roots! Use the following links to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.
THE CHRISTMAS BOOKSHOP by Jenny Colgan GENRE: Women’s fiction Out October 26
Anything set in a bookshop is 100% a book I want to read. Jenny Colgan has published so many hits and this one should be so sweet and fun! Click the following links to purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.org.
CHRISTMAS IN PEACHTREE BLUFF by Kristy Woodson Harvey GENRE: Women’s fiction Out October 26
Kristy Woodson Harvey has written so many hits in recent years, so I expect nothing less from Christmas in Peachtree Bluff. And I am loving this cover! Click the following links to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.
BLAME IT ON THE MISTLETOE by Beth Garrod GENRE: Young adult contemporary romance Out November 2
This one sounds LOL funny and like so much fun! With a boy next door (well, across the street), I think this one will be a smash hit for a lot of YA readers. Click the following links to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.
To read the book synopsis, click the following links to The StoryGraph and Goodreads.
As a huge fan of Jenny Han (and several blurbs/blogs saying that this book was great for her readers), I was so excited to pick this one up! It made for such a great beach read with some LOL moments, some “aww” moments, and some tear jerking moments. A great book for me takes me on a full rollercoaster ride of emotions, and this one definitely had a lot of those components. Still, it was a 3.5 star read for me, and here’s why.
Things I liked about this book:
The setting! The writing made me want to travel to Martha’s Vineyard, and any book that can make this homebody want to travel is definitely well written.
WIT! What a great solid book boyfriend. He was sweet, charming, funny, and smart. I really enjoyed his character and felt like he was someone I could be friends with.
The pacing! I loved how easily I flew through the book. This one had me flipping pages so quickly, super invested in the characters.
Things I didn’t love about this book:
This is an unpopular opinion (after reading other reviews), but the Taylor Swift references were SO distracting to me. Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t on every page or anything, but they were absolutely sprinkled without and I found it so bothersome. And I even like Taylor Swift. For a super fan, this may be a super appealing aspect of the book!
It was a little too sugary sweet for me at some points. As someone who met and fell in love with my husband around these characters ages, I couldn’t help but think…”Teenagers DON’T talk like that.” So every now and then, I felt myself rolling my eyes a little bit.
This book was sweet and fun and definitely a fun YA read! I give it ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
Content warnings: death of a sibling, grief, car accident, mild sexual content
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The premise of this book was a 10 out of 10 for me as a true crime podcast lover. I read the first couple of pages in a bookstore and had to buy it. A podcaster goes missing? Someone obsessed with murder is seemingly murdered? And a listener wants to rescue her? Perfect, sounded absolutely engrossing.
Unfortunately, the rest of the book was not nearly as explosive or engaging as the beginning section. This turned out to be the slowest burn, and by “burn”, I mean like maybe one ember in a whole bed of coals slightly glowing. At the end of it, I wanted to toss the book into the sand at the beach I was sitting on at the time, because I felt like things were so loosely and, frankly, lousily tied up.
But let’s start with the pros, because clearly the whole book wasn’t an ENTIRE train wreck, or I wouldn’t have finished it.
What I liked about this book:
The premise of it was perfect. Realistic enough and super interesting. Could’ve gotten crazy exciting in so many ways.
The atmospheric writing. I loved feeling like I was traveling to Happy Camp from this abandoned ranch.
Now, to the things I didn’t like about this book…
Unlikeable characters. I couldn’t find myself able to root for any of them. The main character was unintelligent and unreliable, and I hate when I read books where the plot is basically just women making bad decisions.
As I mentioned in the beginning, this book is sloooooow. Like, I fell asleep in the middle slow. I don’t even think it should be called a thriller, because it’s not thrilling in the slightest. Maybe more of a mystery. But the cover blurb says thriller, so I am assuming that’s what it was meant to be. And it was not exciting at all.
The ending didn’t even make sense. I read 300+ pages for me to be like…HUH? I felt like the author wanted to surprise us, but it didn’t surprise me in the right way. It surprised me in a “this doesn’t add up” way.
The most redeeming quality of this book was that it was a relatively quick read despite the fact that I really didn’t like my reading life for the last 200 pages or so. Just didn’t work for me. ⭐️⭐️/5
I realize I didn’t give this book a rave review, but if you still want to pick it up and try for yourself, please consider using my Amazon or Bookshop.org affiliate links. These give me a small commission at no cost to you!
This was my first “women’s fiction” read in a while, and I really enjoyed the ride! I’m glad I gave Jamie Brenner a shot, because this book had a lot of jaw dropping drama in an action packed summer.
Here are three things I enjoyed about this book: 1. The family dynamics. It was super fascinating and made my life seem so boring! 2. The casual drama bombs! Jamie Brenner knows how to space them out and keep them coming. 3. The setting – I think I need to travel there! So atmospheric, quaint, and fun.
Two things I did not enjoy about the book: 1. The characters. At the end of it, there was only one I kind of liked. The rest were not likable at all for me. 2. The usage of infidelity as MULTIPLE plot devices. Seemed like everyone was having an affair and that just felt icky to me.
Overall, this was a 3.5 star read for me. I will read another Brenner next time I want a beachy read!
Content warnings: infidelity, cancer, death of a spouse, death of a parent, divorce
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The Guncle was a lovely heartwarming story that explores grief, heartache, new love, and so much more. The wit and charm kept me laughing and wishing that GUP was a real person I could have a convo with. This is my first read by Stephen Rowley and after my heart recovers from the emotional rollercoaster that was this book, I plan to pick up Lily and the Octopus.
Here are 4 things I loved about this book:
The banter – GUP was just hilarious and dry. This is the kind of humor I love!
The kids – they captured my heart! They were so sweet and lovely.
The heartbreaking portrayal of grief felt personal and real. It was communicated perfectly.
The ending – it was absolutely tied up!
One thing I didn’t love about this book:
I felt like the romance could’ve been fleshed out a little more. While I know it wasn’t the most important part of the story, I love a good love story.
If you haven’t read this hugely hyped summer book, beware that there are a few content warnings: car crash, cancer, addiction, heavy grief, and death of a parent.
This book gets ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ from me!
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Do I even remember how to write a review post? Goodness, it’s been a while. My life has been swallowed up by packing my house up to move, and wow, that can take its toll on a girl. But I finally finished The Layover by Lacie Waldon earlier this week and it was just so dang cute and fun that I had to shout about it! Click here to get the low down on it from The StoryGraph. Thank you to Putnam Books for my free copy in exchange for a review!
This solid 4 star read was a great debut from Lacie Waldon, and here are four things I loved about it:
The characters. I loved all of them (most of the time) and all their quirks and personality.
The information about being a flight attendant for some reason had me super engrossed! Lacie is a flight attendant by day and an author by night, so it was fun to hear about life as a flight attendant on “Northeast Air” and all the rules/responsibilities that come along with it.
I thought the storyline was going one way and it ended up going another – and I loved that. Don’t want to spoil it for anyone, though!
The humor! Lacie is so funny to chat with on Instagram, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that personality trait of hers transfer into the writing in her book.
One thing I did not love:
At times, I didn’t love Ava – our main character. She kind of irked me in the beginning of the book, but I did grow to love her by the end.
If you would like to purchase The Layover, please consider using the following affiliate links to Amazon and Bookshop.org to do so – I would really appreciate it!
Also, if you like this Birthdate Candle pictured in the photo, use my code JENNASTOPREADING10 to save 10% off your purchase on their site!
This was such a sweet, fun ride! I am glad I read this one with my #ReadingForSanity book club and I will absolutely read more from Angie Hockman.
4 things I liked: ❤️I enjoyed our main characters journey with her career. It was inspiring and fun to read! ❤️Our supporting characters were lovable and had depth without overshadowing the story. ❤️The Galapagos Islands setting had me ready to travel. ❤️Graeme = swoon.
1 thing I didn’t love: 👎🏻I felt like our MC held off a little too long to communicate her issues with Graeme, but I suppose that was there to create more tension!
Overall, a solid debut from Angie Hockman and I cannot wait to read what comes next!
If you would like to purchase this book, please consider using my links to Amazon or Bookshop.org – they provide me with a small commission at no cost to you!