The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

I have a pretty mixed review of this book. After reading The Kiss Quotient, which I really liked, I was excited to get my hands on this. Unfortunately, I didn’t think it was nearly as good. One of the things I liked about Kiss Quotient was reading about Stella’s autism and how it made her connect with people. This story, too, features a main character who has autism. But whereas Stella also knew that about herself and could see how it made her interact with people, Khai (and his family) didn’t seem to think it important to explain any of his behaviors to Esme.  She has come from a poor upbringing in Vietnam over to America to possibly marry Khai. She is eager to make him love her. As you can imagine, there are misunderstandings galore, to the point where I felt like Esme was beyond dumb.
There is tons of graphic sex, just like in Kiss Quotient.

So overall, I didn’t love this. BUT THEN I read the afterward and the author’s story of her own mother moving here from Vietnam and how she researched this story and it made me like it a lot more and perhaps see it in a different light.

The Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

Having just read #3 in this The Wedding Party series (according to Goodreads) I felt pretty familiar with the characters and it’s almost time to read holiday books, so I jumped right into this one. It’s an enjoyable story in that it has some vague royal stuff (“the duchess” Sandringham, the Queen, but everyone else is unnamed) and some charming British Christmas stuff. It is, very much though, pretty similar to the others. Maddie’s (main character of #3) mother is the main character here, but the story is so much like the others–she is very profesionally successful and sexually confident. So it’s the same as the others, just with mistletoe and Marks & Spencer. A quick light holiday read.

The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory

I’ve read her other books and I have to say I really like the way we’re visiting the secondary characters of previous novels and they are all intertwined. In this case I was sort of confused briefly until I realized that this book is taking place simultaneously as the previous one, just telling us a story we didn’t know was going on between two of the characters.
As with the others there is tons of sex, very successful professionally characters, some misunderstandings, and a deep romance.
I really liked this one-possibly more than the others, though in all honesty I don’t remember a lot of details about them. So likely the same will happen here-a lovely fun read while you’re in, but probably not a long lasting memorable story.

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

I was getting extremely tense that I wouldn’t meet my Goodreads goal for this year and there’s less than a week left in it and I was dragging my heels through a Marcia Willett book .How can that be? I love Willett’s book! But it just wasn’t moving very quickly. I needed a quicker fun book and picked this off my stack. It was just the ticket-fun and fast paced. I was slightly apprehensive because I didn’t love her first book as much as everyone did. This one is quite similar to the first in style, romance, sex, friends, successful careers, and geography. It was halfway into the book before I realized that the main character of this book is the bff of the main character of the other book (which also provides a little peek into an epilogue of sorts for those characters.)
I gave this 3 stars on Goodreads, which is a bit skimpy-if there were fractions I’d give it 3.5 or .75. I especially enjoyed all the small side stories and secondary characters. Perfect vacation fun reading.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

I was really looking forward to this as a light romantic romp and while it did live up to that, I just didn’t like it as much as all the good reviews led me to believe I would. I did really like the characters, and I also enjoyed that they were very competent successful professionals-he a doctor, she the mayor of Berkeley’s right hand woman.  The meet-cute (trapped in an elevator, pretend to be a date at a wedding) was charming. There was a TON of sex in this, so much that I actually found it off putting! (have I become a prude? Or did it just detract a bit from the story for me??) I also spent a lot of time wondering how anyone can afford to fly somewhere every other week.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

I’m glad I finally read this (recommended to me quite a while ago, checked out, returned unread, finally read this time) because it was a delightful and sunny and somewhat different YA romance.  Dimple heads off to an awesome summer program at a San Francisco university with the hopes of developing an app and getting a head start on college in the fall. Rishi heads off to the same place knowing Dimple will be there and that their parents would like them to meet. Rishi is extremely respectful of his heritage and parents. Dimple might be, too, but she has her eyes on a bright academic future and career and is not looking for an arranged marriage. There’s quite a meet cute and surprise! they really are perfect for each other.

I enjoyed this very much, the ups and down and back forth point of view. As usual I couldn’t but think that every single character in a YA novel is always SO smart and successful and talented and if I was a teenager I’d want to punch these characters.  Metaphorically, of course.  One of the things I also liked about the book was that it is set after high school, with older teens who are focused on thinking of the next step.


All the Stars in Heaven by Adriana Trigiani

starsThis was such an interesting story. I really wasn’t sure which elements were 100% true, and what was completely made up. The author’s note tells us to read it as straight up fiction about some real people, but I had a hard time not just believing it all as 100% real.
The story is about Loretta Young and Clark Gable and their love affair. It’s also about the movie industry in the 1930s and Loretta’s acting career. Such a neat inside look at what movie productions were like then. My favorite part of the whole thing was when Clark and Loretta were filling together in snowy, remote Washington state. All the actors and crew together, eating and living together in a lodge, Clark pitching in chopping wood. It was hard to imagine movie stars of today ever acting like that.
I really enjoyed this as a love story, historical fiction, and nice long saga over time.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah Maas

thornsAn exciting faerie book that felt steeped in traditional elements of storytelling, especially fairy stories, but was sexy and exciting.  Feyre is so poor her family barely survives, yet she is the only one who does anything about it. She’s a hunter and that’s how they manage to live.  One day she shoots a wolf, but it was no ordinary wolf. Feyre is taken into the faerie world where she lives with Tamlin in a court where magic is changing and everyone has a mask fused to his face. It’s mysterious and she knows there is more going on that she is told. This felt very Beauty and the Beast like to me, but then there was much more to it. Political machinations, revenge, and of course a love story. I thought this was marvelous, vividly created, and can’t wait to read the sequel.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy Reichert

coconutIt’s the premise of You’ve Got Mail + involves a coconut cake and lots of food descriptions-a winning combo for me! I really enjoyed this a lot. No, there was nothing wildly unexpected or surprising about the storyline, but I enjoy a good You’ve Got Mail scenario and I especially enjoyed how this one played out.
Lou is a chef with a fledgling restaurant that is on the cusp of success.  Al is newly arrived from England and is a restaurant critic (for an actual physical paper and writes often enough that it is a full time job that supports him and he goes into the office for a full day. I found all of that most surprising in the whole book!) Lou is a wonderful chef, but after discovering her revolting and smug fiance in a compromising position she’s nutty and cooks the worst meal of her life. Which of course is the night Al is dining at her restaurant. He skewers Louella’s and to say it was bad for business would be an understatement. They meet, they hit it off, and due to a “let’s never talk about work” agreement, each never knows the truth about how they are connected. Until of course it all comes crashing down, as it always does. But meanwhile… the two get to know each other as Lou shows Al around all her cherished favorite spots in Milwaukee, her beloved hometown.  And she does such a good job of it, that she made me want to go visit. And eat at every place she describes. I mean, it just sounds awesome.  And the food descriptions! Sometimes food writing can be a bit too much, but for the most part all the food parts just made me want to eat whatever was being described and I liked how often food showed up in it.  I thought Al and Lou were also genuinely nice people (even if they are fictional) and very likable. I also really liked the timeline of this book. Lou and Al may have hit it off right away, but their relationship develops over many months, and that just seemed more realistic that many romances. Clearly this would make a WONDERFUL movie and rights have probably already been snapped up. Perhaps Amy Adams as Lou?

The Royal We by Heather Cocks

royalThis was highly anticipated, described as a fictionalized version of Will & Kate and looking to be a pretty fun read and it absolutely delivered. It was a surprisingly thick and long story, covering (just like Will & Kate in real life) several years from when they first meet in college, all the way up to the wedding. It’s so beyond anyone’s reality-the luxury and lifestyle of the royal family, that it just is delightfully escapist.  The heroine, Bex (Rebecca) is an American who meets the prince when she goes to study abroad for a year. They hit it off immediately and eventually become a (secret) couple.  There are plenty of details of what it’s like to be in the royal family, the practicalities and rules, as well as how the royal family are not perfect.  This was such a fun book. I loved it and was completely entertained.

*I’m going to edit this having just had a very good book discussion with my friend Melissa. She did not really care for it and I had to say, I agreed with all of her points. So thinking critically about the book-it’s very unevenly written and the pacing is not great. It’s a long book and some years are covered in slow thorough detail, while others fly by, without any particular reason for either. My biggest gripe would probably be that the drama of the story was pretty unnecessary-I think most readers would have been happier with a shorter time frame in the book and more details about that transition to being accepted by the royal family, having a team of people make over your image, and things about that. (Some of that was definitely there, but there could have been more. I can think of at least two major scenes where that was glossed over rather dug into.) I’m still going to give it 4 stars (out of 5, Goodreads) because I was entertained, did find it fun, and loved it when the stuff I wanted was included.