Book Reviews – May RomCom Edition: Book Lovers, By the Book & I Kissed Shara Wheler

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Goodreads blurb: One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn’t see coming…. Nora Stephens’ life is books – she’s read them all – and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby. Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away – with visions of a small-town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute. If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again – in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow – what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.

My take: 5 out of 5. I think Emily Henry has become my favorite rom-com author (and since that’s my favorite genre she is high up there). Her first book I read, Beach Read, became a high favorite of that year(Also best book title). I read People We Meet in Vacation last year and was obsessed. I recommended it to everyone and it was my favorite romance/chicklit book of the year if not my favorite book, full stop. A truly 5 stars read. With her new book I was nervous. Would it live up to my expectations? The answer was yes, so many times yes. This book was everything. I think I should have written this review closer to when I finished reading it as I had SOOO many thoughts, but still now with a week to digest it, I’m still obsessed. (I give you an advertisement pause for you to go order it (link above/ put it on hold in the library). I think what I find truly engaging in her books is that her characters are so real. I have felt myself in her characters in so many ways, I was living vicariously and could recognize so many traits of myself. It happened in all her books. Making your characters so relatable is a wonderful skill (or maybe Emily Henry and I are soul sisters, but given the overall love for her books, I just think its her jedi magic). Also her male characters are like dream book boyfriends in the best ways. They are not prefect but they are fabulous. Charlie does not disappoint here.

I can honestly say this book got me at hello. As an avid Hallmark Channel movie watcher, the whole intro explaining genre tropes and her being the career girlfriend that is left when boyfriends find the “small town Hallmark girl” was awesome. (It was clear I was not the only person who rooted for Career girl so many times). From then on it was a great ride, where i spend two nights sitting in my couch finishing it because I could not socialize with the outside world until it was done. It was sweet, it was sexy and it had so many books, what’s not to love. This book gave me all the Frozen vibes as well, because as much as it is marketed as a romance, i think the most powerful relationship in the book is between Nora and her sister Libby. Their relationship is beautiful and its development was a tear fest! so gorgeous. Also, can i read Once in a Lifetime? I feel Emily Henry wrote two books, because her descriptions of the book within the book were very detailed and makes you want to pick it up so you know what they are gushing about (in my mind it’s a book as good as this one and that is why everyone is so obsessed)

Having just read Pride and Prejudice I loved this quote: “Another universal truth Austen could’ve started Pride and Prejudice with: When you tell yourself not to think about something, it will be all that you can think about”.

One of the praises for the book (from Sophie Cousens who is also fabulous and we love her books) was that Emily Henry might be out generation’s answer to Nora Ephron. I couldn’t agree more, and her being called Nora after her is just so appropriate and kissmet. But there lies my question – Why has no one made movies of her books? Can I produce this? Where is Hallmark when you need it.

Also mega bonus points for SPOILER ALERT – Women not leaving their kick ass dream jobs for a guy! priorities girls!

By The Book by Jasmine Guillory

Goodreads blurb: A tale as old as time—for a new generation… Isabelle is completely lost. When she first began her career in publishing right out of college, she did not expect to be twenty-five, living at home, still an editorial assistant, and the only Black employee at her publishing house. Overworked and underpaid, constantly torn between speaking up or stifling herself, Izzy thinks there must be more to this publishing life. So when she overhears her boss complaining about a beastly high-profile author who has failed to deliver his long-awaited manuscript, Isabelle sees an opportunity to finally get the promotion she deserves. All she has to do is go to the author’s Santa Barbara mansion and give him a quick pep talk or three. How hard could it be? But Izzy quickly finds out she is in over her head. Beau Towers is not some celebrity lightweight writing a tell-all memoir. He is jaded and withdrawn and—it turns out—just as lost as Izzy. But despite his standoffishness, Izzy needs Beau to deliver, and with her encouragement, his story begins to spill onto the page. They soon discover they have more in common than either of them expected, and as their deadline nears, Izzy and Beau begin to realize there may be something there that wasn’t there before. Best-selling author Jasmine Guillory’s reimagining of a beloved fairy tale is a romantic triumph of love and acceptance and learning that sometimes to truly know a person you have to read between the lines.

My take: 4 out of 5. Disney Publishing + adaptation of Beauty and the Beast + Jasmine Guillory = how was i not going to love this. This book was as good as the first version of this Meant to be series, if the shoe fits, maybe even better? I loved it – all the characters were so wonderful, nuanced and engaging. I was also quite obsessed with the beauty and the beast Easter eggs that where throughout the book – it was such a great homage without it being too on the nose. An absolutely wonderful summer read!

I kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston

Goodreads blurb: Chloe Green is so close to winning. After her moms moved her from SoCal to Alabama for high school, she’s spent the past four years dodging gossipy classmates and a puritanical administration at Willowgrove Christian Academy. The thing that’s kept her going: winning valedictorian. Her only rival: prom queen Shara Wheeler, the principal’s perfect progeny. But a month before graduation, Shara kisses Chloe and vanishes. On a furious hunt for answers, Chloe discovers she’s not the only one Shara kissed. There’s also Smith, Shara’s longtime quarterback sweetheart, and Rory, Shara’s bad boy neighbor with a crush. The three have nothing in common except Shara and the annoyingly cryptic notes she left behind, but together they must untangle Shara’s trail of clues and find her. It’ll be worth it, if Chloe can drag Shara back before graduation to beat her fair-and-square. Thrown into an unlikely alliance, chasing a ghost through parties, break-ins, puzzles, and secrets revealed on monogrammed stationery, Chloe starts to suspect there might be more to this small town than she thought. And maybe—probably not, but maybe—more to Shara, too. Fierce, funny, and frank, Casey McQuiston’s I Kissed Shara Wheeler is about breaking the rules, getting messy, and finding love in unexpected place

my take: 3.5 out of 5. There were things I really enjoyed about this book, but there were also things that just didn’t fully gel for me and did not make is as strong a showing as previous Casey McQuiston’s books I’ve read. I actually preordered this book (shocker! nowadays that privilege is reserved for a select few) because I was a big fan of her previous books One LAst Stop and Red White and Royal Blue. What did I like about this book? – It is a great ensemble YA piece and all the characters are flawed and complicated like teenagers are, but the dynamic within them is great. I really enjoyed the friendship between Chloe, Smith and Rory and their scavenger hunt antics was great. Did I mention I love a scavenger hunt? How could I not like that. Also theater kids and theater love, as a theater geek myself I was all about that!! However it wasn’t all perfect and therefore my score wasn’t as high. As perfectly teens as they were, they are also annoying and some parts were grating. I also could not deal with Shara. I did not get her and therefore her antics I just didn’t understand. I feel that we would have benefited from a little bit more of why is Shara doing what she is doing and why does the act like a brat, before things (SPOILER ALERT BUT REALLY NOT) get prettily tied up into a bow. Also another thing that i actually thought was gimmicky was and this is a SPOILER ALERT – it lost some of the wonderful impact of YA LGBT+ relationships when a lot of the characters end up becoming gay in the span of 20 days in the book. There were some beautiful stories, and the two main LGBT romances were so impactful and relevant that the added side characters just diluted the great representation that was on the page. That is something I have loved about her books and I think here in trying to be more representative diluted the impact.

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