Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

This one was kind of a letdown from my expectations and at least half of that was the narrator’s fault. I made the mistake of *listening* to Dial A for Aunties instead of just reading it, and the narrator’s bubbly, over-hyped voice made things that could’ve been humorous, even if a little weird, sound just plain cringey.

Meddy works for the family wedding business as their photographer, with her three aunties and mom. The family is apparently cursed to be left by every man in their lives, so it’s just the five of them remaining in California and working many of the Chinese-Indonesian weddings in the area. Leading up to a huge and fancy wedding they’re working, Meddy is convinced by her mother to go on a blind date, and *accidentally* kills the guy. Literally. And she looks pretty guilty, so instead of going to the police, the aunties help her cover it up…

But dragging a body around a luxury wedding in a hotel owned by your ex is kind of a lot.

I know you all know I’m going to say this, but I picked this book up because I was told it’s like Only Murders in the Building and it’s not. Story of my life. I never watch television, leave it to me to find the one show I adore and yet cannot replicate the vibe of in my reading habits. I’ve liked most of the picks I got from that list, but they are really not the same. Dial A for Aunties was pretty cute and pretty hilarious, but yea, not Only Murders. Nothing ever will be, lol.

I do have to give credit where credit is due, I loved the antics and the hilarity of this book. Like Finlay Donovan, you need to maintain that suspended disbelief, but if you can, it’s a laugh out loud riot. The aunties were hysterical. The situational irony, totally on point. And Meddy was both real and likeable, so that said, I really enjoyed this book.

I absolutely should have been reading my paperback, and not listening to the audiobook. The narrator made this book sound really childish and immature, which I guess it was, but she just made it so much worse. Read in the correct tone, I think this could’ve landed closer to a Finlay Donovan, but I don’t even know what I would call this. Romance plays a larger role in this story, and it’s not exactly a mystery who killed the guy…so it’s more of a comedy with a romantic element. Suffice to say this is not a genre I would typically pick up.

I think I will definitely be reading the sequel, Four Aunties and a Wedding, and hopefully I will settle into that story a bit better. I’ll keep you posted. 😉

Have a fabulous weekend.

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Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield

Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was the weirdest and most delightful piece of art I have had the fortune of reading lately. Completely unexpected but painfully imaginative, reading Our Wives Under the Sea feels much like staring at fine art: somewhat confusing, utterly beautiful.

Leah has returned from six months in a submarine a different person, or something different altogether. Plagued by whatever she found at the bottom of the ocean, she spends several hours a day in the bath, spacing out, and worrying her wife, Miri. What was supposed to be three weeks under the water became six months with no answers, and even with Leah back, Miri still has no idea what happened there. Whatever stuck with Leah, like leeches on her skin, is slowly dragging her farther and farther from Miri and the life they once shared together.

This book was, again, totally not what I expected. I would classify this more in literary fiction with an element of romance, than in the horror/sci-fi I was originally expecting. I didn’t dislike that at all, in fact, Armfield’s writing style is really suited to this in-between space of contemporary magic. The narrative felt rooted in life even as it was carried away in fantasy; her prose was utterly human and naturally, heartbreaking. This is the story of a marriage uprooted by uncontrollable circumstances, but so strong in its love that it endures even tragedy.

Some comments, with no particular feelings about them: I couldn’t quite pinpoint what this was supposed to be a direct comparison of. “Our wives under the sea” as a concept comes from Miri exploring chat rooms of people with missing family members, and stumbling upon one where wives pretend their husbands have gone on missions to space. “My husband in space”, or MHIS, sparks Miri’s thoughts about her own loneliness and sense of abandonment, as Leah is missing and not heard of for several months. She jokingly suggests the direct comparison name for her own situation, Our Wives Under the Sea. The chat room comparison feels like it could be hinting at military relationships, or those who have missing family members as one suggested. The fact that Leah returns changed and hard to connect with or “save” furthers this theory, but I don’t really like it as a comparison for these relationships and situations – so I prefer not to think that’s the point here. If you live it, and then read this, the two don’t fit in my eyes.

Further, the plot line is wildly interesting and intriguing, but (spoiler alert) comes to nothing concrete. The ending does not wrap anything about the mystery of Leah’s change into a neat little bow. As a horror fan, I wish it did, but as someone who read and understood this story as one of marriage and the strength of love, I understand it is not strictly necessary. And, in fact, maybe even more terrifying for not having the answers, but having to accept things for what they are.

This oddly compelling novel will probably top my list for general recommendations this year – I think anyone can take something from this book and I will keep trying to sell it to my fellow readers! This is a bit of a long-winded review, but this is really an interesting book to dissect. This would make an amazing book club pick, as I think a group read would generate tons of conversation. Weird as it turned out to be, I highly recommend Our Wives Under the Sea.

Have a fabulous weekend. 😉

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Why did I resist this one so much?! I feel like I’ve said that a lot this year (writing from 2022)…I’ve been pleasantly surprised by a number of bestsellers that I probably wouldn’t have picked up, if not for friends’ recommendations or local booksellers’ praise. Book Lovers falls squarely in that category. And I loved it!

Feeling that she’s losing a beloved closeness with her little sister, Libby, city-girl and shark-like literary agent Nora agrees to a month’s retreat to the small town of Sunshine Falls, North Carolina. The pair set out with a list, written by Libby, of things you do in small towns according to literature: save a small business, ride a horse, and date the locals. While she remains committed to working through the “vacation”, she endeavours to help with the list before Libby’s third child arrives…the last thing she’s expecting is cold and ruthless book editor Charlie to be in Sunshine Falls, too. And they just can’t seem to stop running into one another.

This book is, and somehow isn’t, what I was expecting. I don’t think I ever expected it to be a ~romantic comedy~ in its entirety, despite its Book Lovers title. However, there was *a lot* more romance than I thought there would be. I love Nora and Charlie’s dynamic. It feels both reminiscent of The Hating Game in its wit and simultaneously transcendent of it for how they fit together so well, so perfectly to serve the plot and their character growth. This isn’t wholly a romance, but it hits the mark for that as well.

I also love that, from the very beginning, Nora acknowledges that she will never be that small town girl people fall for, that she is cutting and calculating, loves the city, and is never going to soften for another person. She remains committed to that narrative and I love her all the more for it. Not everyone needs to get teary-eyed for small Christmas tree farms and towns where everyone knows everyone. City girls and hard-working bosses deserve love and happiness too! And not only do they deserve it, they can find it in places that aren’t those very small towns. I like the hopefulness of that message, and how surprising and refreshing it feels in the romance genre.

But the real reason I love this book all around is the storyline. There is so much more here than a love story. This is an awesome work of literary fiction, and while I may not have totally related to Nora, I connected with her, thought her story was well-composed and earnest. Her relationships with her sister and formerly her mother, her previous romantic entanglements, her clients – they were all very real and raw; even when things were bad you could feel every human reason why Nora was the way she was, as things slowly unfurled. I just really loved all of these characters, in their own way. Henry nails a small town-feel, but with a larger focal point: a bigger problem than that small town can solve. There’s a lot to love here.

Highly, highly recommend this one. Don’t be me, don’t resist. Just read it. ❤

Have a wonderful weekend!

From Bad to Cursed by Lana Harper

From Bad to Cursed by Lana Harper

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

This series continues to be quite good, and perfect to put you in the fall mood! While the writing and storyline in this one were, again, top notch, I dragged through this in comparison to the way I tore through Payback’s a Witch. It took me significantly longer and I’m hoping I figure out why in the process of reviewing!

At the Thistle Grove Beltane festival, Isidora Avramov witnesses an evil spell trying to take the power of one of the Thorn family girls as she competes to be May Queen. Being the daughter of an Elder, and of the house under suspicion for such dark magic, she is chosen to collaborate along with her arch-nemesis, Rowan Thorn, to investigate the incident.

Issa and Rowan are determined to be professional about their (ugly) history, but it doesn’t take long for the antics (and sparks) to start. To Rowan, it’s clear Issa has a lot more integrity and depth than he previously thought, and for Issa, Rowan’s good deeds might actually be just that: good deeds, and not the holier-than-thou attempts at the spotlight she thought they were. Through the investigation, they grow closer together, the closer they get to the answer: who cast that evil spell, and who has it out for the Thorns?

These books hit the perfect note for fall, even if this one is more spring-themed. Lana Harper, who, as it turns out, is actually Lana Popović (YA fantasy author), writes a great witch story. The magic is both in-depth and immersive while also remaining based just enough in reality that I, as someone who hates fantasy, still thoroughly enjoy it. I get into all of the Thistle Grove magic and history while I’m reading, even if that’s not usually my speed. She makes it easy to enjoy.

I really liked Issa and Rowan, but for some reason they just weren’t as magnetic as characters to me as Talia and Emmy were. I think there’s also something to be said about immersing yourself in a sequel, where the world has already been established and therefore doesn’t require further explanation. In Payback’s a Witch, we were learning of Thistle Grove for the first time, and therefore a lot of the content had to be directed at explaining that. There is less of this in From Bad to Cursed, so it seems as though the romance or mystery should be more present… but I think they were about the same, comparatively. Maybe I was more driven by the storyline of the first novel, whereas the mystery in this one is good, but not as high-energy. Sorry for all my rambling! Point being, I liked book one better, but this one is still really good and enjoyable.

I just got approved for Back in a Spell on NetGalley, so I’m sure I’ll be picking that up in the fall! I will definitely continue to be a reader of this series; I always enjoy them and I appreciate the diversity and inclusivity of the books, as well as the atmosphere of the setting and the magic.

Have a great weekend! 🙂

Secretly Yours by Tessa Bailey

Secretly Yours by Tessa Bailey

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Other Possible Prompts: 6. Household object on the cover, 11. A book with less than 2022 Goodreads ratings, 23. Author with an X, Y, or Z in their name, 38. Don’t judge a book by its cover!, 41. Involves a second chance, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover

I think I’m in a challenge with myself to see just how much Tessa Bailey I can read in a single year. I’m killing it in 2022, and I’d be even one point higher if she released the sequel to this one as soon as possible because I need it.

Hallie has been pining for Julian Vos, heir to the local winery, since her freshman year of high school. When he returns to their town of St. Helena for the summer, Hallie finagles a gardening job at the Vos guest house so she has a front row seat for his return. When Julian can’t help but break his rigid schedules for the charming Hallie, and real sparks start to fly, Hallie realizes reality with Julian may be even better than what she’s been imagining all these years…

…if only she hadn’t written anonymous secret admirer letters to Julian at the same time – and he wrote back.

This is going to be the perfect Valentine’s Day read. It comes out right before Valentines 2023, and it’s a sweet-as-pie romance for the day. The whole “secret admirer” concept feels very Valentines-y, and I think this romance has less bite and more sweetness to it than the usual Tessa Bailey. It’s a little on the lighter side and I think the cover reflects that…

I hate the cover. I’m just going to come right out and say it. I don’t know who’s been doing the last few Tessa Bailey covers (except My Killer Vacation…that one was good actually), but they do not impress me. We’ve ventured far, far into the land of “borderline immature”, over the line of “looks like young adult but is dangerously not”. These literally look like kids cartoons, and it’s too far gone. Reel it in a bit, graphic design department. I can say *with confidence* if this had not been Tessa Bailey I just wouldn’t have picked it up.

I don’t think I’ve rated a Tessa Bailey this low in quite a while, and I think it’s because I just didn’t connect with this one in any way. I didn’t hate Hallie, but I didn’t love her. I liked her chaos, but I felt like she was making a lot of excuses for something and not a lot of progress. She should’ve been seeking therapy or grief counseling in the book, like she kept encouraging Julian to do for his anxiety. While his panic attacks were very legitimate, and his desire to keep things so regimented for management felt very real, I still didn’t really connect with him even as someone with anxiety. Beyond his mental illness, this guy just had a stick up his ass. At least Hallie was carefree and warm; no matter how much he tried to prove the contrary, I couldn’t see Julian as anything other than a cold and calculating rich dude in a suit.

I still think this lives up to the standard for her romance books, but I definitely didn’t connect with it or enjoy the tropes. She executes it well but it’s not a romance I would’ve picked to read if it hadn’t been an author that I loved so much. If you *do* like those tropes, I would definitely recommend as it is still quality romance! What I really can’t wait for is the sequel. Clearly, Julian’s sister Natalie has an enemies-to-lovers trope happening based on some of the scenes in this book, and I can’t wait for it.

A copy of Secretly Yours was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It will be released February 7, 2023. Hope you all have a great week!

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 51. The word “game” in the title

Other Possible Prompts: 9. A book that sparks joy, 18. Jane Austen-inspired, 23. Author with an X, Y, or Z in their name, 34. An author’s photo on the back cover, 41. Involves a second chance, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover

Y’all are in for a real treat because I have, once again, reread The Hating Game. I got the urge to watch the movie again the other day at like, 10pm which is way too late for me, and I remain grateful that I had the foresight when it was released to buy it instead of rent it because obviously I was going to watch it over and over again. Well, naturally, like if you give a mouse a cookie, once I rewatched the movie I wanted to reread the book. I opted for the audiobook this time, my first time listening to this masterpiece.

Lucy Hutton and Josh Templeman hate each other. Every day, they sit across from one another in their glass walled office space at B&G Publishing, and play the hating game. Sometimes it’s the staring game, sometimes the HR game, sometimes the copycat game, but the object is always the same: make the other one crack first.

When Lucy and Josh have to compete for the same promotion, the tension reaches an absolute breaking point. The antics get more intense, and Lucy realizes that hating someone feels disturbingly like loving them…

I am very pleased to inform you that, upon a third listen, this is still the gold standard for romcoms. Authors, take note. We are all shooting for The Hating Game. I love discovering that time has not tampered the charm and warmth that this book holds; it is still just as good as the first day I stayed up until 3am devouring it.

I honestly forgot how laugh out loud hilarious this book is. The “word tennis” that Lucy and Josh play throughout is so smart and witty, and it happens so fast that you’re still cackling when the next punchline lands. It is hysterical, and it increases my enjoyment of the book 1000%. I couldn’t stop laughing.

One thing I did forget from watching the movie more recently than having reread the book was how mean Josh is! I think in the movie you can always tell that he’s flirting, but when you’re listening to Lucy retell it, there are times when it truly doesn’t come across that way. He is brutal. Knowing how it all turns out makes it easier to swallow or spin, but I forgot that I really felt that way as a first time reader. It’s hard to tell when he’s joking or messing with her sometimes.

Lucy and Josh just fit together perfectly. Everything about their romance makes sense. It is just too good. The gold standard. The only thing I’ve read that even came close to matching this wit and heart was You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle, which also had me roaring laughing. I think if you can make me *actually* laugh out loud while reading, you’re doing something right. The rest will fit together fine if you can make your characters genuinely funny to the reader and the other character. This book is a perfect example of that.

So yes, obviously, I recommend The Hating Game. I have been for just about a billion years (I think Goodreads said I first read this in 2017 – so five whole years!), but now you have a full review for once!

Enjoy this fabulous week!

Dream On by Angie Hockman

Dream On by Angie Hockman

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Other Possible Prompts: 7. Household object on the cover, 11. A book with less than 2022 Goodreads ratings, 17. A book picked based on its spine, 34. An author’s photo on the back cover, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover, 52. Published in 2022

This book was unexpectedly adorable! I enjoyed Dream On even more than I thought I would, and I think Angie Hockman has made a fan out of me. This was sweet, cute, easy reading that reminds me of Jen DeLuca and Rachel Lynn Solomon.

After getting in a horrific car accident following the bar exam, Cass wakes up from a coma with memories of a man she’s never met: Devin Bloom. Shocking family an doctors alike, she has three months of memories with this man – who unfortunately for Cass, was never really in her life.

Months after the accident, still haunted by these memories of unknown origin, she sees the real Devin in a Cleveland flower shop. After telling him her story, they begin to explore a real relationship, and try get to the root of why she remembered him to begin with. It seems like fate has brought them together…but the universe has other things in store for Cass.

The basis for the plot in this novel is absolutely wild and so creative. Even though it’s a romance, and follows the typical romance arc, this was a breath of fresh air in its originality. I didn’t know how I would feel about the premise, but I can confirm, it was extremely well done and tons of fun to read.

This novel is of the sticky-sweet variety. I loved Cass and I love her evolution as a character from beginning to end. A lawyer with a creative side, she’s drawn to the world of the flower shop and the whimsy of fate. It was a beautiful backdrop to this story – I love colorful and warm settings like this one. You can almost feel the shift in tone between Cass’ time at the flower shop, and at the large firm where she is a summer associate.

The supporting characters in this book were also top notch. I may not have liked them all, but they were well-rounded and I understood how they fit into the story. I don’t wish to spoil Cass’ romance for you – so, spoilers ahead – but Devin kind of sucked for Cass! And I say this because I think it brings up a whole other element of Hockman’s talent: not only could she show you what her soulmate would look like, she showed us all the ways Devin isn’t it. I think it takes a lot of skill to be aware of all parts of your character in that way, as some writers simply write a romance, and I don’t even think the couple goes together properly. The awareness of her characters’ needs was next level.

Overall, I just really enjoyed this one. It was a quick read, but it pulled me in from the first. I think this showcases a lot of talent and I’m not sure why we’re not talking more about Angie Hockman. It only lost a star in my book for not holding the level of ~steam~ I’ve come to expect from the genre; it’s definitely more on the slow-burn, cutesy side of things. Not at all bad, just not what I’ve come to love and expect from the genre.

Highly recommend! Love, love, loved this and I will definitely be picking up Shipped. This is the first book in a while that I have very few complaints about, and actually liked the vibe of. Have a great week!

On Location by Sarah Echavarre Smith

On Location by Sarah Echavarre Smith

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Other Possible Prompts: 8. Involving the art world, 11. A book with less than 2022 Goodreads ratings, 37. Set in a rural area, 41. Involves a second chance, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover, 50. A person of color as the main character

I am truly on a bad streak right now. On Location fell so flat for me, I’m at a complete loss as to what to try next!

Alia is overjoyed to find her very first solo television project has been greenlit: a series focusing on the National Parks of Utah, a place with special meaning to her from her childhood. She is less thrilled to discover that her host is a washed-up nineties star with a drug problem, and her new field coordinator is her failed date from the previous week: Drew Irons. Determined to keep things professional, she keeps both her host and her feelings for Drew in check.

But when the host misses hours of shoot time, and Drew is so charismatic on camera, Alia hatches a plan that ultimately pushes her and Drew closer. But in the wake of a traumatic relationship, can Alia trust again, even if all the signs are pushing them together?

I felt so very little for both main characters that the romance was just lost on me. Most scenes flopped or fell flat because I felt neutral toward Alia or nothing at all towards Drew (he really didn’t have a personality…or at least not a consistent, pinpointable one). It’s so difficult to enjoy a romance if you don’t like or relate to either character. I think you can still write a good one as long as one of the characters is good and well-written, but not if neither of them are. Alia had a backstory, and a personality, but both were boring! That might be a little harsh, but I just felt nothing for her, I don’t know.

The backdrop of Utah was kind of fun and unique, but I think that fell flat too. There was so much she could’ve done to bring the setting to life, and there wasn’t much detail or imagery. If this book had been rich in setting details, I think it could’ve been more enjoyable and added to the magic. I’ve never been to Utah myself, but one of my friends just recently came back from there armed with tons of photos…so I knew what Smith was writing about, at least from photos, and I don’t think it even remotely captured how magic it looks. It was a great opportunity to use a unique setting that wasn’t fully taken advantage of.

I still like Smith’s writing, though. I can’t deny it’s easy reading. Though dialogue can be a bit cheesy or clunky at times, overall, I like her books. With a bit more practice, I think she could be up there with more popular authors. I didn’t love this one, no, but I would still read more of her work. Sounds like she has another one coming out. The Boy with the Bookstore… *Adds to tbr*.

I just didn’t really dig this one but there’s so much potential. I wish she would take things just a *little* further, both with character development and romance, so I could rate this a little higher. She’ll get another chance, but this one was a no from me. A copy of On Location was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It released on September 21, 2021.

Have a great week!

Dating Dr. Dil by Nisha Sharma

Dating Dr. Dil by Nisha Sharma

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Other Possible Prompts: 5. Chapters have titles, 6. Household object on the cover, 15. A five-syllable title, 33. A bilingual character, 41. Involves a second chance, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover, 46. A job title in the title, 50. A person of color as the main character, 52. Published in 2022

Another Book of the Month DOWN!! I am calling this an absolute win.

As for the book itself, I wasn’t *in love* with it, but I think there’s a lot of things it gets right. Let’s jump in!

Newly thirty, single lawyer Kareena feels like she faces a constant barrage from her family, aunties, and uncles about not yet being married. It’s not for lack of wanting to, she just hasn’t found her true love yet. In contrast, Prem doesn’t believe in true love: an arranged or approved marriage creates the most health and happiness in a home, and once he’s done building his health center, that’s how he’ll have it.

After a chance encounter at a bar, and an internet video gone viral, Prem and Kareena hate each other for this exact difference in relationship views. But as Kareena’s father prepares to sell her late-mother’s home, and Prem needs to secure the last of the funds for this health center, they realize they could have a mutually beneficial arrangement: engagement.

This wasn’t exactly what I was expecting from the book but I definitely enjoyed it. I thought the plot was going to be going in a different direction but I actually thoroughly enjoyed the “marriage for love/marriage for obligation” dynamic. It created really interesting tension and an engrossing story. I read this in a day! It’s a pretty fast and enjoyable read.

It’s always fun to be immersed into a different culture while you read, and I liked Dating Dr. Dil for this as well. While I found that the way her family treated Kareena was sad, in a cultural context of being from an Indian immigrant family, I understood why she went along with it even when it was painful. Additionally, the clothes and food interwoven into the story were magical details that helped me immerse myself.

The first couple pages into this book I made the mistake of reading some reviews on Goodreads…and while they’re incredibly entertaining thoughts on the subject, it was a bit of a deterrent. Pretty much everyone had one very, particular problem…by the name of Charlie. I won’t go into detail. I wish I hadn’t even written it here because I think reading it ruined that aspect of my reading experience, but, uh…it’s kind of hilarious. But definitely, definitely a con when we’re talking about the book. I’m not sure why the author chose to include “Charlie” or why his name is Charlie to begin with, but yeah.

Kareena and Prem were both pretty okay, they each had their annoying faults, but overall they were decent characters and I was invested in their happiness. In Kareena’s case, especially, I really felt like her family was working against her. They all pretty much sucked except the Aunties. They treated her pretty badly and it made me wish she would cut them off, but I get the dynamic. Prem was fine. Just…fine. Pretty unremarkable. When I thought he was a big television personality I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, because I don’t typically like the “famous people” romances, but that turned out to be a very small part of the plot, so it was fine. Everything’s fine.

Overall? I would recommend this book. I do plan to read the second one when it gets released, so she couldn’t have warned me off that much. My biggest complaints were just the immaturity of the writing and the whole…Charlie thing.

Have an awesome week!

Shipped by Angie Hockman

Shipped by Angie Hockman

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This was unexpectedly good, even better than Dream On which I thoroughly enjoyed! They describe this book as a cross between The Unhoneymooners and The Hating Game, which isn’t all that far off – though I naturally hesitate to compare anything to Thorne’s masterpiece (and they should, too…don’t set yourself up for failure like that, guys).

The ultimate career woman, Henley Evans is about to land a big promotion in the marketing department at her vacation cruise line job – if she can beat out Graeme Crawford-Collins, her number one nemesis. To prepare for their interviews, their boss sends them on a cruise to the Galapagos to experience the adventure for themselves, and put together the perfect marketing presentation.

Once the two meet in person, however, sparks start flying. Henley is shocked to find Graeme may actually be…nice? But she can’t lose sight of the prize: a promotion, a director position, and the stability to pay her student loans. It’s all she’s ever wanted…she thinks.

I don’t think this measures up to The Hating Game, because the antics are non-existent. If you’re going to make that comparison, I better be laughing my butt off (kind of like You Deserve Each Other). This book really isn’t funny; it’s not like they’re playing jokes or lobbing quips. They just hate each other. It’s enjoyable, but it’s a long way from comedy. The Unhoneymooners *is* a good comparison, though. I liked that one as well, but for different reasons, of course!

Graeme and Henley were super cute. Henley was driven and relatable. Graeme was sweet and sensitive. They made for a good contrast and a good couple, if nothing remarkable. Their romance was sweet and genuine. For some reason, today, I just can’t make this book sound that good – but I swear I really did like it.

The Galapagos also makes a fantastic backdrop. I like the ~transformative atmosphere~ and all the animals. 🙂 However, none of the supporting characters here were good. I didn’t like Henley’s sister, Walsh. Or the guy who fawns over her, Nikolai. Or their coworkers, their bosses, or anyone working or enjoying the cruise. All bad or mediocre at best. Henley and Graeme were the only good characters, which made them all the more likeable when it came down to it.

I’m always bothered when I’m reading a workplace story and we just skate right over men not looking out for their female coworkers being treated poorly. This book includes some of that misogyny, but I think it’s handled well. Instead of just providing a good excuse and moving on, Graeme actively works to do better by Henley in their office after his behavior is pointed out. I appreciated that! Definitely a positive.

I’m sorry for this jumbled mess of a review – it’s not my best work. Shipped, though? May be Hockman’s best work. Give it a try!

Have a great weekend!