Looking at The Friend Zone (or judging it by its cover), it’s easy to make the assumption that this will be another run of the mill modern romantic comedy. From the outside looking in, this book certainly does look pretty average: it has an ever-so-popular illustrated cover, a will-they-won’t-they synopsis, and a fair amount of buzz around it. So, what sets this book apart from the pack? The Friend Zone deftly handles difficult topics and doesn’t sugarcoat the complexities of infertility, on top of being a darn cute book.
Kristen Petersen doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.
Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen—especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length
A review copy of this book was provided by Karen Odden
Historical mysteries are an often-overlooked sub-genre in today’s popular fiction. While the popularity of modern psychological, serial and true crime mystery books has been on the rise, it’s begun to feel like the same story is being told over and over. When the author (Karen Odden) reached out to me about A Trace of Deceit, I was thrilled – I’ve been feeling burnt out with mystery books lately and this felt like a breath of fresh air in an oversaturated genre. True to its name, A Trace of Deceit is a mystery full of deceit, beautiful art, and an immersive atmosphere.
A young painter digs beneath the veneer of Victorian London’s art world to learn the truth behind her brother’s murder…
Edwin is dead. That’s what Inspector Matthew Hallam of Scotland Yard tells Annabel Rowe when she discovers him searching her brother’s flat for clues. While the news is shocking, Annabel can’t say it’s wholly unexpected, given Edwin’s past as a dissolute risk-taker and art forger, although he swore he’d reformed. After years spent blaming his reckless behavior for their parents’ deaths, Annabel is now faced with the question of who murdered him—because Edwin’s death was both violent and deliberate. A valuable French painting he’d been restoring for an auction house is missing from his studio: find the painting, find the murderer. But the owner of the artwork claims it was destroyed in a warehouse fire years ago.
As a painter at the prestigious Slade School of Art and as Edwin’s closest relative, Annabel makes the case that she is crucial to Matthew’s investigation. But in their search for the painting, Matthew and Annabel trace a path of deceit and viciousness that reaches far beyond the elegant rooms of the auction house, into an underworld of politics, corruption, and secrets someone will kill to keep.
A review copy of this book was provided by Ballantine Books in exchange for an honest review.
India is a place I’ve always wanted to visit and while it’s still on my bucket list I’m trying to read as many books set there as possible. Destination Wedding by Diksha Basu definitely ticked a lot of boxes for me – it’s a work of literary fiction set in India about a millennial woman attending a lavish wedding. Destination Wedding is a big vibrant book with lush settings, family drama, and an interesting story of a woman trying to figure out what she wants in life.
When Tina Das finds herself at a crossroads both professionally and personally, she wonders if a weeklong trip to Delhi for her cousin’s lavish wedding might be just the right kind of escape. Maybe a little time away from New York will help get her mind straight about her stalled career, her recent breakup, and her nagging suspicion that she’ll never feel as at home in America as she does in India. Tina hopes this destination wedding, taking place at Delhi’s poshest country club, Colebrookes, will be the perfect way to reflect and unwind.
But with the entire Das family in attendance, a relaxing vacation is decidedly not in the cards. Her amicably divorced parents are each using the occasion to explore new love interests—for her mother, a white American boyfriend, for her father, an Indian widow arranged by an online matchmaker—and Tina’s squarely in the middle. A former fling is unexpectedly on the guest list, a work opportunity is blurring the lines of propriety on several fronts, and her best friend Marianne’s terrible penchant for international playboys is poised to cause all sorts of chaos back home. The accommodations are swanky, the alcohol is top-shelf, but this family wedding may be more drama than Tina can bear and could finally force her to make the choices she’s spent much of her life avoiding.
Infused with warmth and charm, Destination Wedding grapples with the nuances of family, careers, belonging, and how we find the people who make a place feel like home.
A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Devil Springs by Faydra Stratton is one of those books that a lot of people can relate to: whether you’ve struggled with your faith, grew up in a small town that you dreamed of breaking out of, or even if you have had less-than-pleasant relatives. This book was a little bit outside of my normal purview, as I often avoid books that focus on religion. As somebody who identifies as agnostic, I usually can’t relate to books that focus on characters struggling with their faith. But, when the author reached out to me about this book I was immediately interested – I’ve been trying to branch out and read genres of books that I wouldn’t normally read. Plus I’ve been trying to read more indie authors.
The devil has come to Devil Springs. Except he hasn’t. Not at all. But try and tell that to Mesa Crane’s grandmother, Mayor Avis Kneller. This is not the senior year Mesa had pictured for herself. She’s used to her grandmother’s restrictive dress code and no boys rule, but thanks to some skinny-dipping cheerleaders making some questionable social media posts, Avis is ratcheting up her expectations and decreeing spiritual warfare. Mesa is sick of being bullied into fake piety, but defying her grandmother will mean losing the small freedoms she does have, including her spot on the cross country team. Most unfortunate, since she’s started training with the school’s best (and okay, admittedly hot) athlete, Cody Howard. But when Mesa won’t get baptized—as Grandma Avis mandates—her isolation begins. The actual devil may not have come to Devil Springs, but judgment sure has. Can Mesa endure until graduation? Or will she find the swell of faith she needs to stand up to her grandmother once and for all?
There are very few books that I find physically challenging to read – in fact, I could probably count them all on one hand. To have such a physical and emotional reaction to a book is unusual for me, but The Grace Year really made me stop and think (and at times physically recoil from the book). However, while the book was phenomenal for the most part, there were certain aspects of the story that really defeated the message of the entire book that I could have done without.
SURVIVE THE YEAR.
No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.
In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.
Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.