What I Read This Week: October 17, 2021

Thanks for a few snowy days this week, I managed to finish five books, and they were all pretty good!

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Contemporary romance

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Enemies to lovers is hit or miss for me but it’s done to perfection here. A lot of times, the enemy relationship can feel forced. But Joshua is Lucy’s work nemesis so her hatred for him makes sense. Their picking at each other and pushing each other fits the situation, and it was fun to watch their feelings for each other shift with time. The chemistry and sexual tension between them is on point from start to finish. I loved Lucy and Josh as characters. They have wonderful backstories that explain a lot about them, so even when he was being jerk I could see where he was coming from. This is a funny, sexy, smart book and I highly recommend it!

One Two Three by Laurie Frankel

Literary fiction/Audiobook

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This is a complicated novel that covers a lot of ground. First and most importantly, this is the story of three sisters. They take turns narrating, so that the reader gets to know them and gets well rounded views of what’s going on in their family and their town. Second, this is a novel about a small town that has suffered horribly from environmental contamination. We get to know the members of the town and their stories through the eyes of the Mitchell sisters. Frankel weaves together personal narratives with historical anecdotes and scientific facts to tell a sweeping story full of heartbreak, yet there is hope and humor as well. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Emma Galvin, Jesse Villnsky, and Rebecca Soper. They each do an exceptional job bringing personality to the sisters and emotion to the story. The middle of the book drags, it could definitely stand to be shorter. Otherwise it’s a powerful read and I highly recommend it for readers of literary fiction.

40-Love by Olivia Dade

Contemporary romance

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This is a funny, sexy book that just didn’t go beyond good to great for me. I really wanted to LOVE it because the premise is wonderful, instead it lands at a solid three stars. I’m all about an older women with a younger man so that was a fun change of pace from most romances I read. I also appreciated the body positivity not only in regard to Tess’ size but also bodies in general – there’s talk of injuries and chronic pain and blunt talk about periods. It was refreshing and realistic. Overall, this is an enjoyable read but I feel it had some unfulfilled potential. I recommend it for rom-com readers. 

Instructions For Dancing by Nicola Yoon

Young adult romance

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Oh this is a heart wrencher! The book starts with Evie getting rid of her beloved romance novel collection. This is the perfect representation of how she feels about love now that her parents are divorcing. She has become a new Evie, less hopeful, more cynical and sad. She feels like everything she knew about life and love is a lie. 
So when she meets X, even though he seems perfect she’s determined not to fall in love. Evie and X are wonderful characters. They both have dealt with loss and have taken different approaches to life after. This is a story about moving forward through grief, and how this process looks different for everyone. It’s also about family, friendships, and self love. I highly recommend it for YA readers but also those who enjoy general romance and magical realism.

Writing Hard Stories by Melanie Brooks

Non-fiction

This is exactly the memoir writing book I needed! I don’t need more info on writing technique, instead I want to know how other writers manage the emotional work required to write about the hard, heavy stuff. The only thing I wish this book included was a list of specific tips for dealing with those difficult emotions when they come up while writing. Instead, they are spread throughout the book, as each author interviewed talks about how the emotions showed up for them and what they did to deal. This is a great collection of authors that were interviewed for the book, their memoirs run the gamut on different difficult topics. Any non-fiction writer would benefit greatly from this book.

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