I realized I'm woefully behind on my reviews, so please excuse all these upcoming posts while I try to catch myself up!
|Pub Date: 7-26-22|
Adult - Contemporary
For Butter or Worse- Erin La Rosa: Nina Lyons is a professional chef who wants nothing more than to inspire other young girls to cook. She co-hosts a popular cooking reality show with Leo O’Donnell, a restaurateur who takes every opportunity to push Nina's buttons. When one of Leo's jokes goes a little too far while filming, Nina decides to quit the show on-air. Leo doesn't mean to be a jerk, but his anxieties often make him come across that way, and he feels bad for how he acted towards Nina. To make matters worse, paparazzi photos surface of the two in what appears to be a compromising situation, causing the internet to go wild. Despite the animosity simmering between them, neither can deny a fake relationship may be the only way to get their careers back on track. But what happens when the feelings start to turn real?
Oh, how I wanted to love this. I'm not a huge fan of cooking shows (unless we're talking The Great British Bake Off), but I am a fan of a fake dating scenario, but this didn't work for me. The book felt like it started in the middle. You don't get any background on the characters or the tension between them. You're just dropped into a scene and have to figure it out yourself. If it had started with them working together for a bit, it would've helped establish their relationship, rather than have it start right at Leo insulting Nina causing her to quit. I could also take or leave Nina and Leo. Neither one of them made much of an impression on me. Maybe Nina did slightly more, but only because I found her pretentious at times. Their relationship was very meh and almost felt forced at times, so I had a hard time getting invested in it. Sadly, this whole thing felt under baked.
|Pub Date: 3-1-22|
Adult - Contemporary
The Unsinkable Greta James- Jennifer E. Smith: Greta James has spent the last few years making a name for herself in the indie-rock scene. She's released albums, toured the world, and been on the covers of magazines. But all that changes when she unexpectedly loses her mother and has an emotional breakdown on stage that goes viral. Greta's mother was always her biggest fan and cheerleader, but not only that, she was the bridge between Greta and her father, who Greta never seems to please. When Greta reluctantly agrees to go on an Alaskan cruise with her father, the same one he and her mother were supposed to take for their wedding anniversary, she's hoping not only to heal her humiliation but the bond between them as well. While on the ship, Greta meets Ben, a historian with his own struggles, and the two instantly connect. The pair start to rely on one another to help make sense of their issues, but in the end, Greta must face the music on her own.
I always like books that have a musician/celebrity element to them, and this was no exception. I thought the story was interesting, and Smith's writing was engaging and easy to digest. I read most of this in one sitting because it was so fast-paced. I liked how the romance between Greta and Ben took a backseat, and the story focused more on Greta and her relationship with herself and her father. They have such a rocky relationship, and there were so many awkward moments between them as they tried to piece together this new dynamic without the glue that held them together. It was heartwarming seeing them eventually come together into something that may not be perfect yet but has all the makings of it. I also liked watching Greta come into her own and decide what she wants out of life. Overall, I thought Smith did a lovely job balancing the heavier topics such as grief and healing with sweet humor that made for a delightful read.
|Pub Date: 6-22-21|
Adult - Historical Fiction/Retelling
Daughters of Sparta- Claire Heywood: With their beauty and royal status as princesses of Sparta, Klytemnestra and Helen are the envy of all Greece. But their status comes at a price. Both girls are separated and married off to foreign kings when they were young-- the intimidating Agamemnon and his brother Menelaos. Despite their reservations, the sisters know what their duty is: be an obedient wife and provide heirs for her husband. For a while, both Klytenmestra and Helen play their parts, but before long both start to rebel against their husbands' neglect and cruelty. The choices they make will cause a ripple effect that will be felt all over Greece and last for centuries to come.
I've read a lot of Trojan war retellings, but never one from the sole perspectives of Klytemnestra and Helen. It was so fascinating watching the events unfold from their points of view. Heywood does a beautiful job of immersing you in their lives. I enjoyed watching them go from childhood to trying to navigate such rocky marriages. They each had their little ways to make their voices heard in a time where women weren't allowed to have many opinions. They make sacrifices for their families, and their choices have consequences that they weren't prepared for but still persevere. I do think Heywood could've made their personalities a little more dynamic so they popped even more, but it still worked. Other than that, I thought this was a lovely depiction of familial bonds, and even though this is a sad story, it still felt hopeful, and I can't wait to see what Heywood comes out with next.