These two books are part of the same collection from Sara Goodman Confino and I was so beyond lucky to read them back to back! For the Love of Friends was published in 2021 and She’s Up to No Good will be officially released on 8/1, but you can get the ebook now with Amazon First Reads!
In For the Love of Friends, we follow Lily who is asked to be a bridesmaid in five weddings within a two month span, including the weddings for both of her younger siblings. I know this sounds very 27 dresses (Confino even references the movie in the book!) but it was honestly so different. The character development for Lily was absolutely remarkable. Each of the friendships explored were so unique- we had the little brother, little sister, work best friend, childhood best friend, and college best friend. Tell me those are all the same relationship for you and I’ll be impressed! On top of that, we also get sone insight into Lily’s career and her passions through it all.
What I loved most about both of these books was the little bits of humor throughout. While I wouldn’t call them humorous fiction, the author does a great job of making you laugh and smile. Not a single one of Lily’s blog entries detailing her journey as a bridesmaid was dull. If that blog really existed, I would probably be following it!
Now fast forward to She’s Up to No Good. She’s Up to No Good centers around Lily’s newly separated (but not divorced! That is not final yet!) cousin and their shared grandmother. Together, Jenna (cousin) and Evelyn (grandma) return to Grandma’s hometown of Hereford, Massachusetts because Grandma has “business to take care of” though she won’t tell Jenna what that business is. The novel alternates between present day Jenna and flash backs for Grandma as she reminisces on her journey to finding love. This one was both humorous and serious, and honestly just gave me so much hope.
I gave each book 4 stars, but legitimately wonder if I might be lowballing it. Confino is definitely one of my favorite authors of 2022 and I hope we get another book from her soon! But don’t rush it- we want quality in our quantity.
Oof. This book. I realized in a very comical manner when I started the book that it was the same author as Real Men Knit. The only reason I finished Real Men Knit is because it was a book club pick. I did not like that book. I still gave this one a chance, and I was not impressed.
Bethany Lu Carlisle and Truman Erickson go on a quest to find Keanu Reeves, Lu’s celebrity crush, to stop him from getting married. Fortunately for Lu, True has a guy (“Gary”) who leads them to Coney Island, New Mexico, and California all in search of Keanu Reeves. Will they ever find him? Will they find other stars like Jason Monoao and Lisa Bonet? Will Lu find the love she is searching for? These are all the questions that made me want to read the book.
The premise of this book is fun. I was lucky enough to read the first few chapters on NetGalley and it got me really excited for the book. Honestly, I went into this with good expectations because of that little preview. Unfortunately, what I found was a disjointed novel that just didn’t do it for me. It wasn’t all bad, and I do think the book can serve some readers.
What I liked:
The book was written similarly to a slow burn romance. The ending really picked up and it was a little more fun. The only thing I’ll say about this is that there was a realllllllly long scene followed by the wham bam thank you ma’am moment and I was like “woahhhhh”.
The events in the book spanned, well, 90 days. It was fast but not fast all at the same time.
Dawn. Dawn is a supporting character, friends with both Lu and True, and a powerful, hilarious (see quote below) woman!
“Oh, you were jumping all right. I bet you were, ma’am. All over that bungee. Boing. Boing. Boing. Probably all night long too. Weren’t you? Weren’t you? Jumping those bonzzz.”
Dawn to Lu
What I didn’t like:
Their careers. Lu is an artist and True is a professor at NYU. Lu’s art is nothing more than a distracting side plot. Lu calls True “Mr. Erickson”. PROFESSORS HAVE PHDs KWANA. Not always, granted, but I did check NYU’s website and every single one does. As a Black, female, Assistant Professor myself, I felt like this just did a huge disservice to the representation the author strives for.
The backstories/side stories. Every character in the book had a connection to one another. However, threading these connections was honestly just annoying. It felt forced and underdeveloped and I was not here for it.
For two grown ass adults, it sure took True and Lu a long time to address the elephant in the room. And honestly, this wouldn’t have been a problem, if I felt like it had been written well.
My formal recommendation is to pass on this if you’re looking for a good romance novel.
This book was an excellent mystery/thriller. It kept me on the edge of my seat and I honestly couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next.For you other thrill seekers out there, I must warn you that this book is on the more predictable side. There were still twists I couldn’t figure out and I loved the build! I was able to predict parts of the ending based on how it was set up, but honestly, it was more appreciation for the craft and execution than disappointment that I wasn't surprised. I think Hawkins gave us a genius novel and I can't wait to see more from this author.
Synopsis: Lux followed her boyfriend Nico to Hawaii with the promise of being able to travel the world aboard his ship. It has been several months and Lux has done nothing but work in a swanky hotel. One day, she is caught breaking protocol and loses her job. At the same time, Brittany and Amma approach Nico about using his boat to travel to , an atoll with a dark history. Many say the island makes you crazy, will that fate befall this group too? When they arrive, the see that another boat is already there with Jake and Eliza. The quartet and duo make quick friends with one another and the remainder of the novel follows their friendship and time on the island closely. The novel is narrated primarily in the voice of Lux, with additional chapters set "before" narrated by others.
This book is one of relationships and whodunits and oh so much fun! Between Lux and Nico, Brittany and Amma, Jake and Eliza, is anybody what or who they seem? I truly enjoyed piecing this novel together. I found that it was so much fun to try to follow the information presented to figure out what was going to happen to the group, and also how the Before stories fit in to the present day. One thing that I really appreciated was that all of the "Before" carried a very significant meaning in the end. These chapters were used to enhance the book and were executed wonderfully. I loved this thriller and would recommend it to other thriller lovers!
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the eARC of this book!
I loved this love story! I am so happy to be finding more queer and trans representation in romance novels, and I love that this own voices novel made it all come to life for me. The writing was such that I could clearly picture our two main characters- Dahlia and London- from the beginning, but also I had such a great running image of most of the novel. Honestly, I feel like I watched this book just as much as I feel like I read it! What makes that particularly remarkable is that the book actually centered around a television show, so feeling like I “watched” the novel made that aspect come to life as well.
I have (mostly) only good things to say about this book. I felt like so many aspects of owning your identity and coming out to your family were addressed. The only thing I will say is that it felt like everything was smooth sailing in terms of coming out for one of the characters in the book. The character certainly had other struggles, and the addition of that particular struggle honestly may have been too much. It just felt too easy on me as the reader as written.
My favorite part of the book was how full circle things came in the end. Throughout the novel, there is mention of family members, but I honestly wasn’t expecting much of that story line. However, the ending wove siblings and parents and understanding and a future together in a way I did not imagine. It wasn’t the thing that “made” the story, but I also feel like it’s so rare I had to give it some appreciation.
Thank you NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for the ARC of this novel! Publication date is January 18, 2022!
Intercepted is a steamy romance with catty football wives and I am here for it all!
It took me a solid chunk of this book just to stop calling the main character Melanie because I LOVED The Game and it just felt so similar at first. In the end, I think this novel was so much better!
Four years ago, when Marlee and Chris were on a break, Marlee had a one night stand. Now, he’s back and Marlee has to make a choice. Fortunately for Marlee, Chris cheats on her paving the way for the romance we all need between Marlee and Gavin.
Chris is such a slime ball, as are most of the other characters who gang up on Marlee. But she’s also got some amazing friends in her corner and that part of the story was just as great as the romance!
5/5 stars. 10/10 recommend. Catch y’all again when I finish Fumbled.
This book put the “cozy” in cozy mystery and I’m a sucker for books set in my home state of Wisconsin. Rain and her best friend Julia are librarians who have just decided to keep the library open year round, despite the brutal winters. Shortly after Rain arrives at the lake for the annual ice fishing competition, Wallace Benson is found dead. Immediately, his wife Tina blames Julia’s husband, Nick. The police end up finding enough evidence to arrest Nick, and it’s up to Julia and Rain to clear Nick’s name.
Even though I was pretty sure who the killer was before the murder even occurred, I still felt like the sleuthing was interesting enough for me to remain skeptical right until the very end. Many of the characters were unreliable, and I liked that aspect. It was also nice that I was able to read and follow this book not having read the first one in the series. I feel like I’m rating this one a little low considering I didn’t find anything wrong with the book, but I also don’t think it’s of the caliber I would normally give a 4 star read.
Thank you NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for this ARC.