What I Read: November 2021

Robinne Lee: The Idea of You

Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of an art gallery in Los Angeles, is reluctant to take her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band. The last thing Solène expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things. What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate and genuine relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways in Paris and Miami. When Solène and Hayes’ romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her romantic life has impacted the lives of those she cares about most.

Ok, I’m a bit late reviewing this book but better late than never, right? Because once in a while a book comes along that tells a story so compelling, so thought-provoking, so emotional and so exquisitely written that it leaves you speechless (or in my case, I couldn’t stop talking about it for weeks). To say I was blown away by EVERYTHING about this story would be an understatement. It literally checked off every single box and brought on the feels. So many feels! This is one of those stories that offers so much food for thought that one can’t simply review it and move on. Or maybe it’s just me. Thinking how even now in this day and age we still have double standards, how people will always have an opinion and how everyone is always so quick to judge you…And that ending…I don’t think I can express my opinion about it without giving it away so I’m going to stop here. Just pick up this book and enjoy the ride.

By the way, when I started reading it I didn’t know the main character was inspired by Harry Styles but it becomes obvious pretty quickly. If you don’t mind that, you will love this book!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Claire McGowan: I know you

When Rachel stumbles upon a body in the woods, she knows what she has to do: run. Get away. Do not be found at the scene. Last time, she didn’t know, and she ended up accused of murder. But when this victim is identified as her boyfriend’s estranged wife, Rachel realises she’s already the prime suspect. With mounting evidence against her, Rachel’s only hope is to keep the truth about herself well hidden. Because twenty years ago she was someone else—Casey, a young nanny trying to make it as an actress in Los Angeles. When the family she worked for were brutally murdered, all the evidence pointed to her and she went to prison. Back then, she narrowly escaped the death penalty and managed to free herself on appeal. Now she’s fighting to save the life she’s spent years piecing back together.

I admit that I KNOW YOU was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I loved the premise of a woman whose past secrets have come back to bite her, and Rachel’s backstory sounded awful. But even though I could relate to Casey, having been a nanny myself, both Rachel and Casey never got under my skin as much as I had hoped. Perhaps I have just been reading too many mysteries lately because a few days after finishing the book it had already become blurry in my memory. That being said, the mystery surrounding Casey’s conviction for murder at a young age kept me turning the pages to get all the answers. I just didn’t feel the same way about Rachel’s timeline and found her story a bit dull. Even though I didn’t love it as much I had expected, the premise was intriguing and the final reveal added a slight twist that I had not seen coming.

⭐⭐⭐💫

samantha downing: For your own good

Teddy Crutcher has won Teacher of the Year at the esteemed Belmont Academy, home to the best and brightest. He says his wife couldn’t be more proud—though no one has seen her in a while. Teddy really can’t be bothered with the death of a school parent that’s looking more and more like murder or the student digging a little too deep into Teddy’s personal life. His main focus is on pushing these kids to their full academic potential. All he wants is for his colleagues—and the endlessly meddlesome parents—to stay out of his way. It’s really too bad that sometimes excellence can come at such a high cost.

I read so many thrillers and mysteries but this was something different. This is not your classic thriller, it’s more like a large-scale game of cat and mouse. Because of the multiple third-person perspectives, the reader knows most of the things, there aren’t any real twists or a whole lot to discover. Still, though, I found following all the characters, watching them getting closer to the answers, almost but not quite figure it out, walk straight into a deathtrap… quite exciting. Also, the blurb is a bit misleading because you would think this is a book about Teddy. But it’s not! There is a complex web of characters and relationships here, motives and ambitions all overlapping and warring with each other. I have to say it was a bit slow at the beginning and I was wondering where is this story going but somewhere halfway through it got sooo much better! If you are looking for depth, you aren’t going to get it from this book. What you will get is an entertaining and sinister read filled with dark minds and lots of twists and turns. Also, rumour has it that Robert Downey Jr has been cast as Teddy in the HBO adaptation! How exciting!

⭐⭐⭐⭐

sophie cousens: just Haven’t met you yet

Laura’s business trip to the Channel Islands isn’t exactly off to a great start. After unceremoniously dumping everything in her bag in front of the most attractive man she’s ever seen in real life, she arrives at her hotel only to realize she’s grabbed the wrong suitcase from the airport. Her only consolation? The irresistibly appealing contents of the case: a copy of her favorite book; piano music; and a rugged, heavy knit fisherman sweater only a Ryan Gosling lookalike could pull off. The owner of this suitcase is Laura’s dream man–she’s sure of it. Now, all she has to do is find him.

I really enjoyed This Time Next Year so I was very excited to read this new book by the same author. This story is sweet, funny, touching, charming, full of wonderful, likable characters, and has a surprising amount of emotional depth and the insight about love, loss and the tendency of people to put their hopes in things that may or may not always be as real. We get to learn about the geography and history of Jersey as Lauren gets a tour of the Island and finds the places where her mother and father fell in love. This really made me wish to visit it one day! This book is mostly about Laura, and her search for her own identity, and her own misconceptions about love and family so even though, yes, it’s a rom-com, I feel it could also be women’s fiction. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good slow-burn romance set in a gorgeous location.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

jane harper: the survivors

Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences. The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home. Kieran’s parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn. When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away…

Another atmospheric thriller from Jane Harper, my 4th one. This time the story is set in the coastal town of Evelyn Bay in Tasmania. I’m not sure what to think about it so it’s very hard to write this review. I just felt it wasn’t as good as the previous ones. It started really slow, and it was hard to get into. Also, I did find the ending to be a bit abrupt in a ‘as if I blinked and it was over’ type feeling. It sufficiently explained everything, but after following the characters and their storyline for so many pages, I just wanted a little more to fully wrap everything up and satisfy my curiosity. That being said, I love how once again Harper managed to create this gripping and dark atmosphere. So many secrets and hidden agendas. When I finally got into it kept me guessing and questioning everything. It’s a slow burn of a story rather than a suspense-driven thriller with quite a few red herrings present as the tale unfolds. My theory on what happened was completely wrong as I discovered in the dramatic ending.

⭐⭐⭐💫

Colleen hoover: Regretting you

Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to be nothing alike. Morgan is determined to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. By getting pregnant and married way too young, Morgan put her own dreams on hold. Clara doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her predictable mother doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in her body. With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together.

This book felt like I was reading 3 separate stories at once, yet they came together seamlessly. It was the story of a mother and teenage daughter and their changing relationship. The story of young love. And the story of a grieving woman navigating an adult relationship while looking for answers. I know this sounds weird but I promise you it’s not. Actually, it’s better not to read the blurb at all. This book is about grief, love, friendship, and family it took me on an emotional rollercoaster.  What really surprised me was how much I enjoyed the family aspect of this. I really love how CoHo romance, so I was worried the focus on the mother/daughter relationship would detract from that, but it doesn’t! Loved every page!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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