Category Archives: Romance

Book Review: Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai

Avon
Published April 1st, 2020
400 Pages

One minute, Katrina King’s enjoying an innocent conversation with a hot guy at a coffee shop; the next, a stranger has live-tweeted the entire episode with a romantic meet-cute spin and #CafeBae is the new hashtag-du-jour. The problem? Katrina craves a low-profile life, and going viral threatens the peaceful world she’s painstakingly built. Besides, #CafeBae isn’t the man she’s hungry for…

He’s got a [peach emoji] to die for.

With the internet on the hunt for the identity of #CuteCafeGirl, Jas Singh, bodyguard, friend, and possessor of the most beautiful eyebrows Katrina’s ever seen, comes to the rescue and whisks her away to his family’s home. Alone in a remote setting with the object of her affections? It’s a recipe for romance. But after a long dating dry spell, Katrina isn’t sure she can trust her instincts when it comes to love—even if Jas’ every look says he wants to be more than just her bodyguard…– Goodreads

This is my first book by Alisha Rai. I would like to note that this is the second book to her Modern Love series. Although they are separate stories with references to the first book, I did feel like I should have read the first book. When I was reading, I felt like I was missing something and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. With that being said, I probably would have found this more enjoyable if I would have read the first book.

But moving forward this book was cute. Although at times seeing Jas and Katrina act like middle school kids was frustrating, I enjoyed the slow build. If you aren’t interested in slow builds, you will not like this book because it is slow.

I liked Jas way more than I liked Katrina and it is not because she has so much going on. She is just boring. Adorable but boring. Jas was not only attractive, he was talented, spoke three different languages, had depth but was comfortably simple. I adored him and loved the fact that I was able to read from his point of view.

Beyond Katrina being stale, I am just going to say reading about her or Jas having sex was extremely uncomfortable for me. Not because I don’t read sexual activity in books but because it felt forced and it felt like the author just put it in there to appease the masses. It didn’t feel genuine at all. It read like the author was uncomfortable writing it.

*sigh*

But overall, this wasn’t a bad read. It was okay, cute (ish). It would have been nice if Katrina had more personality and if there was more chemistry.

2 Pickles

 

Book Review: Real Men Knit by K.M. Jackson

Berkley
TBP May 19th, 2020
320 Pages

When their foster-turned-adoptive mother suddenly dies, four brothers struggle to keep open the doors of her beloved Harlem knitting shop, while dealing with life and love in Harlem.

Jesse Strong is known for two things: his devotion to his adoptive mom, Mama Joy, and his reputation for breaking hearts in Harlem. When Mama Joy unexpectedly passes away, he and his brothers have different plans on what to do with Strong Knits, their neighborhood knitting store: Jesse wants to keep the store open; his brothers want to shut it down.

Jesse makes an impassioned plea to Kerry Fuller, his childhood friend who has had a crush on him her entire life, to help him figure out how to run the business. Kerry agrees to help him reinvent the store and show him the knitty-gritty of the business, but the more time they spend together, the more the chemistry builds. Kerry, knowing Jesse’s history, doesn’t believe this relationship will exist longer than one can knit one, purl one. But Jesse is determined to prove to her that he can be the man for her—after all, real men knit. – Goodreads

I was very excited for this book. Focusing on a man who not only was adopted but is dealing with grief and knows how to knit, were topics that I was all for. But by the end of the book I was disappointed. I wasn’t disappointed because of lack of writing skills or pace but more so this book felt like a foundation to a bigger novel. So many different topics were passed over. I wanted more details in Mama Joy’s past, background information on the store, more character background and more character description.

I found it really hard to believe that Mama Joy did not teach or leave any information about how to run her business with her boys or even on paper. Kerry knew pretty much everything but it still baffled me how ‘Mama Joy did not write anything down. So that was on my mind but also the fact that the reader knows nothing about the store itself. If the author took more time to give the store a story, I would have believed this story much more.

Also character development as well as character background is pretty much non-existent. The whole issue/conflict in the novel is lack of communication. Kerry stresses so much that she is a grown woman but acts like a middle schooner throughout the entire book. I don’t understand why.

What did love about the book was the slow burn romance. I didn’t think the conflict of the novel was going to be lack of communication and more so Jesse sleeping with most of the city, so it was interesting that the author highlighted that but didn’t make that the issue. Like the author was very specific on who he slept with as well as their interactions with Kerry.

The breakout character for me was actually Jesse’s brother Damian. I really was intrigued by his hard ass and anger. I would love to read his story next.

With that being said, this wasn’t a bad book and I would recommend it as a introduction to this author. I just wish there was more added to it.

Overall,

2 Pickles

Book Review: Hearts on Hold by Charish Reid

Carina Press
Published Feb 3rd, 2020

Professor Victoria Reese knows an uphill battle when she sees one. Convincing her narrow-minded colleagues at the elite Pembroke University to back a partnership with the local library is a fight she saw coming and already has a plan for. What she didn’t see coming? The wildly hot librarian who makes it clear books aren’t the only thing he’d like to handle.

When a tightly wound, sexy-as-hell professor proposes a partnership between his library and her university, children’s department head John Donovan is all for it. He knows his tattoos and easygoing attitude aren’t quite what she expected, but the unmistakable heat between them is difficult to resist.

And then there’s the intriguing late fee on her record. For the Duke’s Convenience… A late fee and a sexy romance novel? There’s more to Dr. Reese than she’s letting on.

John might like to tease her about her late fee, but when he teases her in other ways, Victoria is helpless to resist. Mixing business with pleasure—and oh, it is pleasure—always comes with risks, but maybe a little casual fun between the sheets is just what Victoria needs.- Goodreads

I don’ know how else to describe this book other than one of the sweetest romances I have read thus far. It was adorable from beginning to end. I love the way it builds. I love the fact that John knew what he wanted but at the same time was comfortable enough to let Victoria come to the point he was at. She was frustrating to read. It was like talking with the smartest dumb person in the room. Not only does she need therapy but she also needs to learning how to relax (which thankfully she does a bit in this book).

But I liked Victoria because I was able to relate to her and her mask in the workplace. For some people they don’t use it/need it but others such as myself cannot be the same person inside of the office as they are outside. It was refreshing to see that I am not alone in this (I know I’m not but it was nice to read).

The author touches about the topic I mentioned above as well as ADHD, being a teenager and being Black. I would have liked to see more times when Victoria was herself. I felt that she was herself around John but she wasn’t her complete self. When she was with her friends their interactions are we comfortable. What I mean to say is  she interacted with other Black females in what appeared to be her real self. Do not get me wrong. Friends are going to see a different side of you than your lover is and that is fine. But it felt like she was wearing a mask with John even at the end.

There was something missing to connect her and John but I am not exactly sure if I can word it right.

But other than that, the author must have known that I have a thing for Vikings because John was *insert chef’s kiss*

Overall,

I liked this book a lot.

4 Pickles

Book Review: The Wrong Mr. Darcy by Evelyn Lozada and Holly Lörincz

St. Martin’s Griffin
TBP June 9th, 2020

This book is considered a modern spin on Pride and Prejudice.

Derick Darcy comes from a very wealthy family and decided to become a basketball player. This makes Hara feel as if he didn’t earn his spot on his team but used his influence to get there. Hara is a struggling sportswriter from a small town that has a secret of her own.

This book is better than The Perfect Date and that is saying a lot. However, before you even think about picking up this book, it has to be known that there are so many triggers in this book and they go as follows

  • Suicide
  • Miscarriage
  • Discussion of abortion
  • Violence
  • Abuse

I was surprised to see so much of that in there so a trigger warning would have been nice. But moving on. I thought the subtle references to Pride and Prejudice was great. It was very clear that this book used the theme of poor girl hating the rich, rich guy being skeptical of the poor, but they fall in love anyway and I was cool with it. The authors didn’t lay it on thick nor was it so blunt that it would make you roll your eyes.

What I liked about the book was the gross reality of being a woman in the basketball/sports industry. It was an insight into, what I believe is Evelyn’s world, and it was hard to read. The story has a better beginning, middle, and end. It made sense and the romance seemed very believable. There was more care in crafting this story. And I thought the sex scene was pretty good.

What I didn’t like about the book was Hara. Her dislike for Derick was unreasonable and she was rude like all the time. Derick had every right to be skeptical. He was a rich basketball player that was dealing with women who were only after his pockets. Was he rude? Sure was. However, not as rude as Hara.

I liked the book. I was surprised I liked the book. Other than me not liking Hara, I did feel that they through a lot in this book and a lot of it was left to hang dry. What I mean by this is there was no solution or ending to certain issues that Hara and Derick experienced. I had a lot of questions even reaching the end of the book. Speaking of ending, it was okay. I would have liked to see something more but it wasn’t a bad way to end the book.

Overall, it looks like the authors took their time with this one and that is showing growth as writers.

3 Pickles

Book Review: Grumpy Jake by Melissa Blue

Self-Published
November 8th 2019
104 Pages

Bailey Thorne doesn’t hate Jake the Rake, just despises him. She blames the rumor mill at her school…and, okay, him. His adorable son has only been in preschool, but Jake has already made an impressive dent in dating the unmarried faculty. She’s had to hear of his every exploit from the broken hearts he’s left behind. She was fine to loathe him from afar, but now his son has entered kindergarten–and she’s the teacher. It’s going to be a very long school year.

Jake Polaski was more than fine to avoid Ms. Thorne after it became clear she was not amused by his very existence. But then they get stuck in an elevator for an evening. He finds out that underneath that baleful glare she always gives him, lies a warm, funny and sexy as hell woman. He does his best to not be smitten after every exchange afterward. His son needs him rational, steadfast…and love is the most uncertain thing.

It was the elevator’s fault. Had it worked like it should, Bailey would have gone on with her life without seeing why so many of her co-workers had fallen for the grumpy single dad. (It’s his dry wit, his playful teasing and the drool-worthy cut of his jawline.) And now she’s caught in the way he doles out smiles and the dark depths of his secrets. If nothing else, she knows from rumor there’s a clock ticking on their affair before it implodes because things always do with Jake the Rake, but she can’t seem to walk away first. – Goodreads

I love everything about this cover. It is so fitting once you read the book. It is breath-taking in a way that you never see covers like this. And who ever the illustrator is fantastic job.

Now to the book. Its a novella and it is a well written novella that when I was finished I didn’t feel that I need more or questions needed to be answered. It flowed well, consistently and most importantly it was engaging.

Bailey was everything. I loved her the moment she started speaking. She was unapologetically her. She wasn’t bitter, she was energetic, smart and pure. I liked Jake too but not as much as I loved Bailey.

The novella moves fast but not so fast that you feel that the author is rushing or adding a lot of fillers. The romance is believable and at some points comical. Bailey and and Jake give their all into each other, unknowingly and for Jake, sometimes unwillingly. The lust was there and they sure as heck made sure that each other knew it was there but from the beginning there was something more. There was a caring that was unspoken but definitely felt.

It was written clearly with a beginning, middle, end in a form of consistency that is hard to find in novellas (not rolling off on a tangent).

I loved this novella. It was cute, genuine and packed a lot of punch. There was nothing more or less, I wanted. And even though it is a novella, I would say that this is a filler read i.e. books you read in-between larger books, because this book stayed on my mind for days. I cannot wait to read more from this author.

Overall,

4 Pickles

2020 Cover Love

If you recall from last year (hehe) I did a series throughout the year called cover love to high new releases and their beautiful covers. Its 2020 and I am still keeping that ball rolling.

 

Beyond the fact that these books look gorgeous and will look absolutely stunning on my bookshelf, they sound fantastic.

What books are you looking forward to so far this year?

Book Review: A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison

Inkyard Press TBP Jan. 7th 2020 448 Pages

When they’re stuck under one roof, the house may not be big enough for their hate…or their love.

When Tyson Trice finds himself tossed into the wealthy coastal community of Pacific Hills, he’s ready for the questions, the stares and the feeling of not belonging. Not that he cares. After recovering from being shot and surviving the rough streets of Lindenwood, he doesn’t care about anyone or anything, much less how the rest of his life will play out.

Golden girl Nandy Smith has spent most of her life building the pristine image that it takes to fit in when it comes to her hometown Pacific Hills where image is everything. After learning that her parents are taking in a troubled teen boy, Nandy fears her summer plans, as well as her reputation, will go up in flames.

Now with Trice living under the same roof, the wall between their bedrooms feels as thin as the line between love and hate. Beneath the angst, their growing attraction won’t be denied. Through time, Trice brings Nandy out of her shell, and Nandy attempts to melt the ice that’s taken Trice’s heart and being. Only, with the ever-present pull back to the Lindenwood streets, it’ll be a wonder if Trice makes it through this summer at all.- Goodreads

Jumping right into this, I can see why there is a lot of love with this book. Although I didn’t love it, I can see the love there.

My first impression of this book once I finished it was . . . it was boring. The story of the boy coming from questionable past and environment meeting the rich girl from a completely different world is nothing new. This book didn’t bring anything new to this trope. This does not mean it wasn’t an entertaining read because it was for the most part.

Nandy and Trice were good enough characters to keep the book going. But there wasn’t enough development for me to be convinced of their romance but also and most importantly to like them. I did feel there was actual growth and both Nandy’s and Trice’s turnaround was too fast to be believable. There was no build up.

This is not to say that the book was rushed because it wasn’t. There wasn’t enough depth into the book and that is why I didn’t love this novel.

It was cute but it was boring and overall predictable. Yes, I know those words are harsh but to be fair, I know there are plenty of people that will love this book. I just don’t happen to be one of them.

I liked the fact that this book is a young adult romance that stars Black characters. It highlighted two types of families, touched on ancestry and adoption. It also touched on class and focused on social status. I liked these parts of the novel. Just wish the characters had more life to them and those points I mentioned above weren’t fillers.

Overall, when I sat and thought about it. This book has a very specific target group and it isn’t Black women or people in general. It was basic and didnt deliver the romance.

2 Pickles

Book Review: 100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons

Self Published
TBP: August 7th 2019

Terrified that her vision might never return, Tessa feels like she has nothing left to be happy about. But when her grandparents place an ad in the local newspaper looking for a typist to help Tessa continue writing and blogging, an unlikely answer knocks at their door: Weston Ludovico, a boy her age with bright eyes, an optimistic smile…and no legs.

Knowing how angry and afraid Tessa is feeling, Weston thinks he can help her. But he has one condition — no one can tell Tessa about his disability. And because she can’t see him, she treats him with contempt: screaming at him to get out of her house and never come back. But for Weston, it’s the most amazing feeling: to be treated like a normal person, not just a sob story. So he comes back. Again and again and again.

Tessa spurns Weston’s “obnoxious optimism”, convinced that he has no idea what she’s going through. But Weston knows exactly how she feels and reaches into her darkness to show her that there is more than one way to experience the world. As Tessa grows closer to Weston, she finds it harder and harder to imagine life without him — and Weston can’t imagine life without her. But he still hasn’t told her the truth, and when Tessa’s sight returns he’ll have to make the hardest decision of his life: vanish from Tessa’s world…or overcome his fear of being seen.- Goodreads

I don’t really read contemporary especially contemporary romances. However, I won’t lie this cover and the title really caught my attention and let me just say this book was so freaking adorable.

Seriously adorable and I loved so much about this.

Tessa is feeling it; as she should. She is a hermit that doesn’t go out often and when she does unfortunately, she gets into an accident that makes her blind for a 100 days. The fact that she may get her sight back doesn’t exactly help because it is a big MIGHT and she doesn’t have much faith in things right now.

Enter Weston and he is determined to make sure Tessa doesn’t fall down a dark hole because he knows that it is a very easy thing.

One of the most important parts of this book that I loved is the fact that it is told in both of their point of views AND you also get to read about Weston’s past first hand. It was just raw honesty. I appreciate the author taking the time and care to dig into Weston as opposed to making this book only about Tessa.

Speaking about that. I strongly believe that this book favors Weston more than Tessa. Yes, she is a focal point but something about the way the author writes, the digging of Weston’s past nothing in me believes this book is about Tessa but about Weston and how he helps someone overcome the darkness growing inside him and how he pretty much does the same for himself.

But out of everything I read, the best part of the book was the ending. It broke my heart. It really broke my heart and Weston is perfect. He is such an adult for a 16 year old well actually all the surrounding characters appear to be older than they actually are.

Overall, this was a good book and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

4 Pickles

Book Review: The Perfect Date by Evelyn Lozada and Holly Lorincz

St. Martin’s Griffin
TBP June 111th, 2019
288 Pages

Angel Gomez only wants to get through nursing school and earn enough to support her mother and her son, Jose. Her bartending job helps bring in some extra cash, and the last thing she’s interested in is flirting or men in general.

Caleb “The Duke” Lewis is an up and coming star for the Yankees, known for getting around. However, his last breakup left him distracted and made him turn to drink. When he’s caught by the Yankees manager at a party instead of training, he’s suspended and sent back to the Bronx to get his head straight.

Angel and Duke’s worlds collide one night at the club and sparks fly. Though Angel wants nothing to do with Duke, he has no intention of letting her slip through his fingers. She isn’t star-struck by his fame, and this might be just what he needs to get things in order. He’ll do anything to convince her…even make her an offer she can’t refuse.- Goodreads

I requested this book purely because of the author. I was first introduced to Evelyn Lozada because of the VH1 show Basketball Wives. Not something I am or was really into but she gets your attention and not necessarily in a good way. Fast forward and she is engaged to a big time baseball player and has his child. This is the second reason why I picked up the book because I thought is it about her relationship? Hmmm I can’t say if it is or if it isn’t but I can talk about this book.

It feels like a draft. Not even feels like it the book from beginning to end this book reads like a unedited draft. The transitions between Angel’s voice and The Duke’s is horrible. And I don’t mean that lightly. You will be reading in the The Duke’s voice and about what he has going on and then the very next sentence it will be Angel. This is confusing because these transitions happen in the middle of a thought or a conversation in the middle of the chapter. Confusing and frustrating as you go through the book.

Another thing about this was when Angel spoke Spanish it felt forced. Angel is Puerto Rican and this is known from the beginning. However, she doesn’t speak Spanish in the book expect two times when something happens. I think this was Lozada’s way to remind the reader that Angel wasn’t white, however I felt since that is a big deal then there should have been more insistence of her speaking her language.

I finished the book, in one day and I did because I liked the story. I liked Angel but felt that she could have been less stuck up and more realistic as a single mother. She let her emotions cloud her judgement and what was right and wrong. I liked The Duke and his troubled self. However, with both of these characters there wasn’t development, we are to assume that it happens because of the ending. Lozada did not take the time for the two to build their romance and get to know each other. They were thrown together in the worst times of their lives and expected to be adults, although The Duke (who I wished was called Caleb more in the book) has not acted like an adult since he got money.

I strongly believe that with more work, this could be a great story. It was thrown together and as I stated before it reads like an unedited draft. There were several topics in the book that could have lifted the overall story, could have provided character development and as a reader, I could have gotten to know more about Angel and Caleb as a couple and not two individual people forcing something.

Overall,

2 Pickles

Year of The Asian Reading Challenge

Text: YEAR OF THE ASIAN, A 2019 READING CHALLENGE. Hosted by C.W., Lily, Shealea, and Vicky. Image is of Xiaolong the pink axolotl wearing an upside down purple flower hat eating a bowl of rice.
Image from CW @ The Quiet Pond

This year I am participating in the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge. Its a great way, at least for me, to read different styles of writing. I have a tendency of getting stuck in a specific genre to writing style and then wonder why I didn’t hit those amazing books and got stuck with more 2 stars (and below) than 3s and ups.

So anyway I saw this challenge on twitter but then couldn’t find the post. I then found it on The Quiet Pond’s blog. And my excitement to participate increase. List below is a direct quote from her post:

divider cobra

GUIDELINES

The aim of this challenge is to read as many books written by Asian authors as you can! These books can be backlist titles (i.e. released in 2018 or earlier), new releases, and ARCs. We welcome books of any genre, any format, and any length. Check out the levels we have made for this challenge (I drew them too!) and set your sights on a level you want to achieve.

In order for a book to count, you must start and finish it within 2019; the challenge will end on the 31st of December of this year. (This means that books started in 2018 and finished in 2019 do not count!) Likewise, any books started in 2019 and finished in 2020 do not count either.

We want this to be a relaxing and, above all else, fun challenge, so you can join in at any time in the year! The sign-up form will remain open until 2019 ends.

Follow us on Twitter (@YearOfTheAsian) for announcements, surprises, and more bookish fun. The official hashtag for this reading challenge is #YARC2019.

divider tiger

So here are my goals for books written by Asian authors for 2019: 

Indian cobra: 11 to 20 books read

More than likely, there will be others as I find them but this is my 2019 goal :) Are you planning on participating? If so, you can find more details here. Also I would love to know what you will be reading, please share ^_^

 

Peace & Blessing,

Tanya P.