Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey

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ARC provided by Berkley Romance in exchange for an honest review.


I really, really wanted to give this book a higher rating. It started as a 5-star read for me, then went down to four… but now I’m sitting at three. I was truly loving it up until the main character did some things that made me so uncomfortable and annoyed.

This book takes place in Columbus, Ohio. More specifically, it takes place in a little part of the city called German Village. I’m a local, so seeing my city represented meant so much to me. Winfrey makes a ton of references to real, local businesses such as The Book Loft (my most favorite indie book store PERIOD), Pistacia Vera, Schiller Park, and so much more. I was LIVING for these and I was so ready to make an aesthetic. Like, give me all the cozy German Village settings PLEASE.

We follow Annie, a grown-ass adult who has really high expectations about how she wants to meet a man. She grew up watching 90’s rom com movies with her mother (who has passed away) so they hold a special place in her heart. But she also has some pretty unrealistic expectations from people she dates, and she wants nothing more than to meet a man in a meet-cute fashion. And I know that all sounds a bit weird, but because this is a rom com about rom coms, I was loving it.

Annie wants to be a screen writer, and she spends her days in German Village at a coffee shop called Nick’s (which I think it based off of Stauf’s, maybe?) But you’re not going to have many film making opportunities in Ohio. However, she currently lives in her old Victorian home with her uncle, Don, and she doesn’t want to leave the house or Don behind.

One day a movie production company moves into German Village and soon Annie lands herself a position as the assistant to the director of the film. The film is a rom com and it stars a famous, hot actor named Drew. Of course, this book being a quintessential rom com, Annie bumps into Drew while on set and spills coffee on him.

Boom. Instant meet cute.

The rest of the book is a lot of back and forth banter between Annie and Drew. Their encounters are funny and cute, and I was constantly rooting for them. I also adored Annie’s friend, Chloe, who was your typical honest/silly/always-there-for-you-BFF.

The thing is: I really did love all the rom com references. While I know that would be annoying to some readers, I knew all the cheesy rom com moments were necessary. And I knew where the story was going. But, because I knew where the story was going, I kept feeling a sense of dread that Annie was going to do a very stupid thing.

Y’all. She does something so stupid, so cringey, so goddamn awful I just want to hide under a rock due to all the secondhand embarrassment. And when that stupid thing is done, and a certain other character feels hurt, she has the audacity to play the victim.

Another thing that I was discussing with my buddy read group was how the author felt the need to bring up, several times, how rom coms lack diversity. And yet… she didn’t include any diversity at all. I really don’t understand the point of her bringing up that topic at all? Why even mention it if you aren’t going to do something about it? Why not have a marginalized main character*? She included one minor character who was POC but their soul purpose was to teach Annie a lesson so that was kinda weird. (*I should note the reason I’m even bringing up why there should’ve been a main POC character was because the film in the book is about an interracial couple and Chloe even mentions how whitewashed rom coms are.)

So while I did love the other cute, cheesy rom com moments and I absolutely adored the setting, I was just disappointed with how the last 1/4 played out. I mean, I enjoyed the very, very end, and I am looking forward to reading Chloe’s story next. But I hope the next installment won’t try so hard to make such bold statements about diversity and then not do anything about it on the page.

But I do still recommend this book if you’re a rom com lover, and I do think you’ll be rooting for Annie and Drew!

threestarsBuddy read with Melanie, Alexa, & Madalyn!

 


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The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

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Book provided by Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review.


Confession: This was my first ever Christina Lauren book, and I can promise it won’t be my last. This was truly the perfect beachy/poolside read and I will recommend it to everyone.

The Unhoneymooners is a contemporary adult romantic comedy that starts out with a wedding. Ami and Olive are twins, but all her life Olive has felt like the “unlucky twin.” Ami is getting married, and Olive is helping her sister with all the final arrangements. But during the reception everyone comes down with food poisoning from eating from the seafood buffet. Everyone… except Olive and the best man, Ethan. Ethan is also the groom’s brother, but he and Olive hate each other.

Not wanting the non-refundable honeymoon in Maui to go to waste, Ami encourages Olive and Ethan to pose as the married couple and take their honeymoon. Olive reluctantly agrees, thinking she can go to relax and avoid Ethan completely.

Of course, this being a romantic comedy… they can’t avoid each other because they’re stuck in the same suite. Things get hilarious from there as they start to bump into people they know from Minnesota, and Olive and Ethan have to put on a show to make everyone believe they are actually married.

If you know me then I love enemies-to-lovers romances. Top it off with a fake dating/fake marriage trope and you’ve got my attention. I was audibly laughing out loud during the majority of this book. I loved the love/hate relationship between Olive and Ethan and it was so much fun to watch their tension grow into a more romantic way.

And let’s not forget the Hawaiian setting, which is making me miss the beach something fierce.

I was also loving Olive’s family, and how much they all support each other and are always there for each other. I’m not going to get into spoilers, but Olive has trouble with employment, and her family was there to help her. Even if her family isn’t in the book a lot, I really loved their dynamics.

However, what made me not rate this an entire 5 stars is how a certain issue was handled between Olive and two male characters. I was really aggravated how Olive was treated in such a flippant way. This is 2019 and when a woman says she’s uncomfortable from a man’s sexual advances, you damn well better listen to her and take her seriously.

Overall this is such a swoon worthy book and I could not stop myself from laughing during the witty, sarcastic exchanges between Olive and Ethan. They are an OTP in my heart and I hope we can see them again in future books!

fourstars

Buddy read with Heather & Jen!


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Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

41150487ARC provided by St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Synopsis:

A big-hearted romantic comedy in which First Son Alex falls in love with Prince Henry of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends…

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?


If there’s one book that’s going to stick with me for years to come, it is Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. I had no idea how much this book was going to make me smile, swoon, and cheer for every single character I came across. I’m not even exaggerating when I say these characters feel like actual, real people, and if you’re like me who is just… really unhappy with the way US politics has been going… then you’re probably going to want these characters to be real, too.

Firstly, I want to mention that this book is new adult (not YA!) So, yes, there are some steamy scenes! Most fade to black, but, nonetheless, still steamy!

So this book stars Alex Claremont-Diaz, a bisexual, 21-year-old, Mexican-American who is the First Son of the United States. His mother, Ellen Claremont, is the first woman president, and she’s coming up for reelection in 2020. You see, in this alternate reality, a woman president took office after President Obama. And, y’all, this book cannot come at a better time when all I want is to keep that hope alive that things here will eventually… get better?

And then there’s Henry, the Prince of Wales. Henry is gay but has not come out due to the pressure and expectations from the crown. Henry has two siblings: an older brother and younger sister. He’s such a soft guy, and he feels so much weight upon him to fulfill his royal obligations. But Henry’s also suffering from anxiety and depression after his father passed away, and his mother has been absent since his father’s death.

This story has my favorite trope of all time: enemies-to-lovers! Alex, the POTUS, and their entourage fly to England for a royal wedding (Henry’s brother’s.) Alex has met Henry before, and always felt like Henry came off as a jerk. So after a bit of arguing, Alex and Henry accidentally destroy the royal wedding cake, and the two families go into full recovery-mode in order to get the negative press off their backs.

Which then leads into… the fake-friendship trope! Now Alex and Henry have to pretend to be BFFs in front of the press so they can clear the air especially since President Claremont is running for reelection and she cannot have this international-wedding-catastrophe in the spotlight.

I’m sure you can guess what happens from here… but once they become fake friends, a real friendship blooms as the FSOTUS and Prince get to know each other. A romance then ensues, and soon they’re trying their best to keep everything a secret.

I really had the best time reading this book. Alex is so sarcastic, witty, and has the best one-liners I’ve ever read. He’s also full of so much heart and he cares so much about his family and his background. His grandparents are Mexican immigrants, and I cannot help but relate so hard to how Alex struggles with his identity of being half Mexican and white (I’m half Thai/white); how sometimes we aren’t sure which box we fit into. I also felt such a deep emotional attachment to Henry as he wanted nothing more than to fulfill his royal obligations, but at the same time struggles with the thought of putting himself and his happiness first.

The romance in this book is top notch, and I would give my soul for a sequel. I not only fell in love with Alex and Henry, but the other diverse cast made this story so amazing. I love June, Nora, Bea, Pez, Tarah, and the POTUS (Ellen) so, so much. Like I said, I truly wish these characters were real people!

Okay, I’m done gushing about this adorable, swoon-worthy book. I sincerely hope you’ll pick this up; not only for the romance, but for the witty banter, hilarious characters, found families, close friendships, and glimmers of hope.

However, there is a lot of talk about US (and royal) politics in this book, so if that’s not your jam, then you may not love it. But even so, all the talks of politics throughout the book does have a purpose and makes sense as the story progresses (I know I’m being vague, but you’ll see what I mean if you read it!)

Trigger/content warnings: Homophobia, talks of cancer, death of a parent, outing, anxiety, depression, talks of drug use, talks of past sexual assault.

fivestars

Buddy read with Heather & Kristin!


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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

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Goodreads 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….


I’m quite surprised by how much I loved this? Honestly, I went in pretty much blind. I avoided all the reviews. I didn’t overthink it. I didn’t try to over analyze everything. I just sat back and enjoyed the ride. I really felt like this book has the perfect blend of darkness, mystery, and twists.

I can see why some people may have not liked this book, and if you read a ton of thrillers, then you may think this book was just okay. I took a break from thrillers but I made it my goal to read more thrillers this year. The Silent Patient was a great start for me, and I really do recommend this book if you’re wanting something dark and fast paced. Also, I think it really helps that the chapters were so short, because it truly made the reading fly by!

So here are the basics: Alicia is arrested for shooting her husband in the face several times. She doesn’t provide an explanation, and she remains silent throughout the entire investigation process and trial. So she’s sentenced to a psychiatric hospital called the Grove, where she continues to remain silent for the next six years — until psychotherapist Theo joins the staff, and he wants to help Alicia speak once again.

What I wasn’t expecting was this book to be (almost) entirely from Theo’s perspective. And while there are bits of Alicia’s journal entries sprinkled throughout the book, we get a lot of investigative work as Theo tries to dig up Alicia’s past and follow any breadcrumbs that could expose Alicia’s motives.

And even if you were able to predict the twists and outcome, I still felt like it was a rabbit hole that was well formulated, and the path we took to the conclusion was superbly done. I also loved how Greek mythology and art was a strong theme throughout this book.

Some things that I did find bothersome was the use of ableist terms such as “crazy” when referring to patients in the Grove. I know that’s expected in a psychological thriller that takes place in a psychiatric hospital, but please use caution if mental illness topics is a trigger for you. Also Theo likes to mention how he wants to “fix” Alicia, which is just language I find gross.

I also want to note that I listened to this book on audio and read along the book at the same time. I loved the cast in the audiobook and I truly felt like that overall enhanced my reading experience. Plus, Louise Brealey is the voice of Alicia, and I loved her so much from Sherlock (BBC)!

Possible spoilers (but not really) in trigger warnings below.

 

Trigger warnings: ableist terms such as “crazy”, talks of suicide, mental illness, depression, stalking, cheating, loss of a parent, abuse from a parent.

fourstars

Buddy read with Stephanie and Amber!


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