Remember our opposites post last week #forreaderseyesonly? This blog post is all about where we agree; where we screenshot and message our heart-eyes out over the best books in our little world. Sometimes we even buddy read them together, particularly when it’s a series where we’ve both adored the one (or ones) that came before.
Buddy reading with Hollis is, erm, different. Hollis reads at the speed of Formula One and Micky is driving at 50. Add onto this the fact that Micky is a polyreader and Hollis is monogamous, it’s not easy. We have a system that works where Hollis is on a tight restraint regarding which chapter she can read to and where Micky puts the other books down and gives the buddy read her full attention (Hollis is so blessed).
An eccentric woman who is great with numbers—but not so great with people—realizes it’s up to her to pull a community together in this charming, big-hearted debut perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and The Rosie Project.
Germaine Johnson doesn’t need friends. She has her work and her Sudoku puzzles. Until, that is, an incident at her insurance company leaves her jobless—and it turns out that there are very few openings these days for senior mathematicians with zero people skills.
Soon enough though, Germaine manages to secure a position at City Hall answering calls on the Senior Citizens Helpline. But it turns out that the mayor has something else in mind for Germaine: a secret project involving the troublemakers at the senior citizens center and their feud with the neighboring golf club—which happens to be run by the dashing yet disgraced national Sudoku champion, Don Thomas, a celebrity of the highest order to Germaine.
Don and the mayor want the senior center closed down and at first, Germaine is dedicated to helping them out—it makes sense mathematically, after all. But when Germaine actually gets to know the group of elderly rebels at the senior center, they open her eyes to a life outside of boxes and numbers and for the first time ever, Germaine realizes she may have miscalculated.
Filled with an eccentric, totally unique, and (occasionally) cranky cast of characters you can’t help but love, The Helpline is a feel-good page-turner that will make you reexamine what it means to lead a happy life—and is bound to capture your heart along the way.
Title : The Helpline Author : Katherine Collette Format : eARC Page Count : 304 Genre : contemporary fiction Publisher : Simon & Schuster Release Date : July 23, 2019
Reviewer : Hollis Rating : ★ .5
Hollis’ 1.5 star review
I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around THE HELPLINE.
At first blush it seems like it’s supposed to be a humourous take on a woman who is brought in to oust troublemakers for the local city council, troublemakers who happen to be senior citizens, and in the end.. she ends up switching sides and teaming up with said senior citizens. And.. it’s sorta that? But also a lot of not.
It’s never stated in the book if Germaine has Aspergers, or is on the spectrum, but at the very least she’s socially inept and very fact-oriented. She’s also incredibly focused, driven to succeed, and preoccupied with looking good to the higher ups. As a result she’s not given much opportunity to be likeable because the higher ups are shady and manipulative and as a result so is Germaine. She’s also awkward with a neighbour, for no reason but she is, and there’s a lot of judgey hypocrisy in some interactions with other people, too. Most notably women.
The cast of seniors are a delight and.. well, that’s honestly all I can say to recommend it. The best parts of this book were when Germaine is navigating the random requests and conversations from the seniors calling in to the helpline. I wish the book had actually spent more time on that.
I didn’t find the humour in this I was promised, I wish the representation had been identified, and the ending just kind of baffles me. I’m sure it’s meant to be endearing but honestly I’m just really confused by the whole experience.
** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
Betty Dawsey knows that breaking things off with Thom Lange is for the best. He’s nice, but boring, and their relationship has lost its spark. But steady and predictable Thom, suddenly doesn’t seem so steady and predictable when their condo explodes and she’s kidnapped by a couple of crazies claiming that Thom isn’t who he says he is.
Thom is having a hellish week. Not only is he hunting a double agent, but his fiancée dumped him, and thanks to his undercover life, she’s been kidnapped.
Turns out Thom is Operative Thom and he’s got more than a few secrets to share with Betty if he’s going to keep her alive. With both their lives on the line, their lackluster connection is suddenly replaced by an intense one. But in his line of work, feelings aren’t wanted or desired. Because feelings can be a lethal distraction.
Title : Lies Author : Kylie Scott Format : eARC Page Count : 195 Genre : Contemporary Romance Publisher : Indie Release Date : July 21, 2019
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5
Micky’s 4.5 star review
Every single thing about this read was unexpected, even taking the unusual synopsis into mind. This was a fast-paced, thrilling romance with bucket loads of story and plenty of twists. It was also consistently amusing with characters I couldn’t help but be pretty enamoured with.
What is super interesting about this story and how it starts, is that the ‘going wrong’ part of the relationship happens right at the beginning, in unholy style. So, you could almost call this a second chance kind of story but at break-neck speed. It was like a cross between a snarky, funny romance and ‘Die Hard’. Interested?
The heroine, Betty is unconventional, partly because she starts her journey with taking no more messing from Thom. She was over him, the relationship and she was empowered. Everything spiraled from there and Betty was resilient, strong but with heart. I loved her snark, her refusal to be put in a corner and I read about her with total interest.
“There’s a crack in the ceiling high above my head. Fitting, given that there’s an even bigger and even more destructive fault line running smack bam through my life. Move over, San Andreas, Thom Lange has you beat.“
Thom was definitely the character to be revealed but also I felt pretty distrustful of him, with a slice of ‘why are you so swoony’? It made for addictive reading watching these two connect for the second time. It took me time to believe in him and I understood Betty’s anger towards him.
“Thom is basically a machine. Like some killer robot sent from the future to fuck up my love life.”
Alongside the great storyline was a tangible chemistry that also made for compelling reading. Everything about this read was addictive and I read it in less than 24 hours. The twists kept coming and from 80% my jaw was dropped and I was suspicious. This story was an unusual and welcome offering from Kylie Scott who has amazed me with her ingenuity on this one.
Thank you to Social Butterfly PR and Kylie Scott for the early copy.
About Kylie Scott
Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013, 2014 & 2018, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films.
Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet.
Happy “where’d all my money go?” new release Tuesday, everyone! As you know, the most exciting day of the week in this community is the day that follows the one we all dread (Mondays for the nope) and today we’re going to highlight some of the new books chipping away at our bank accounts — but each one is so worth it.
GODS OF JADE AND SHADOW by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is pitched as the Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark, one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore. This sounds fantastic!
THE MARRIAGE CLOCK by Zara Raheem is a more unusual fictional perspective on the pressure for an arranged marriage in an American-desi setting. This book promises a witty story of parents versus the protagonist. Micky enjoyed this and will have her review up this week.
LIES by Kylie Scott is a fast-paced thrilling and also hot ride. This book takes a stale relationship, blows it up, turns it on its head and takes you on an addictive read with Betty and Thom. It’ll keep you guessing. Micky had an early read of this book and loved it, so look for her review today.
ALL ROADS LEAD TO YOU by Jennifer Probst is book three of a series of interconnected stories with different couples. This story is set in a rescue farm with horses and is about a trainer who comes to rein in a spirited animal. Professional meets personal in this ranch tale.
Are there any titles out today you’re excited for? Let us know in the comments below!
In Zara Raheem’s fresh, funny, smart debut, a young, Muslim-American woman is given three months to find the right husband or else her traditional Indian parents will find one for her–a novel with a universal story that everyone can relate to about the challenges of falling in love.
To Leila Abid’s traditional Indian parents, finding a husband in their South Asian-Muslim American community is as easy as match, meet, marry. But for Leila, a marriage of arrangement clashes with her lifelong dreams of a Bollywood romance which has her convinced that real love happens before marriage, not the other way around.
Finding the right husband was always part of her life-plan, but after 26 years of singledom, even Leila is starting to get nervous. And to make matters worse, her parents are panicking, the neighbors are talking, and she’s wondering, are her expectations just too high? So Leila decides it’s time to stop dreaming and start dating.
She makes a deal with her parents: they’ll give her three months, until their 30th wedding anniversary, to find a husband on her own terms. But if she fails, they’ll take over and arrange her marriage for her.
With the stakes set, Leila succumbs to the impossible mission of satisfying her parents’ expectations, while also fulfilling her own western ideals of love. But after a series of speed dates, blind dates, online dates and even ambush dates, the sparks just don’t fly! And now, with the marriage clock ticking, and her 3-month deadline looming in the horizon, Leila must face the consequences of what might happen if she doesn’t find “the one…”
Title : The Marriage Clock Author : Zara Raheem Format : eARC Page Count : 368 Genre : contemporary romance Publisher : William Morrow Release Date : July 23, 2019
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★
THE MARRIAGE CLOCK is a witty insight into the pressure for marriage to take place on parents’ timescale for an American, South Asian, Muslim woman. Leila was a free-spirited protagonist with a desire not to hurt her parents but also with a strong feminist streak. She was also a big Bollywood fan and this fandom had influenced how she imagined her falling in love to play out.
“He’s a nice guy, but we just didn’t connect,” I said. “Connect? What is this, a Wi-Fi signal?” My mother glared at me.
What ensued was a series of cringe-worthy, parent-chosen potential spouses. What was even more hilarious was Leila’s attempt to go solo on this husband-finding project and I laughed many times at her attempts. The speed dating scene was particularly hilarious.
“This was definitely not how I pictured my Indianfairy tale panning out. I had imagined me + Shah Rukj Kahn + villa in the mountains + romantic song + dancing penguins. Instead, I got guy with too much gel + weirded-out looks + tone-deaf singer + lifeteime ban from ever stepping foot into this bistro again.”
The parent nightmare was pressurising and real. I couldn’t imagine having to conform and losing my choice in that way and in reality, this was Leila’s biggest difficulty. She was working as a teacher, she’d lived away from home previously and she sought autonomy, empowerment and freedom. So whilst this was a humourous tale, there was a constant streak of poignancy in Leila’s situation that just got me in the gut. At least she had some great friends around her.
The story went from the US to India and back. There were some short but unexpected heart breaks along the way and they really did have a kick. The story completed in a way that stung my romantic heart but made my feminist heart soar, so I can’t be unhappy about that.
This is a debut by Zara Raheem and she wrote engagingly and with wit. I will definitely be searching out any future releases she has; I would say she’s one to watch.
Thank you to William Morrow and Edelweiss for this review copy.
Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.
Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.
Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.
Title : Dear Martin Author : Nic Stone Narrator : Dion Graham Format : Audio Length : 4 hours 32 minutes Genre : YA contemporary Publisher : Listening Library Release Date : October 17, 2017
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★
Micky’s 4 star review
Many have said that DEAR MARTIN gives them THUG vibes, indeed Angie Thomas recommends this book. I get why, but this story is individual and unique. It starts with a young man in a hoodie, racially profiled and misunderstood. It continues with this young man, Justyce, trying to make sense of this situation and how to live his life with integrity through studying Martin Luther King’s writing. Justyce expressed his experiences through letters to ‘Martin’.
This is a short book and yet is it full; I felt like I had lived each minute with Justyce. The stories of injustice, grief and just trying to have fun and experience all the things he should be able to at 17-18 brought me to tears and anger. Justyce was a character who was endearing in his realness, just a teen, coming of age but a decent guy in all ways. He considered some stupid directions, he occasionally made stupid decisions but they were in the minority next to every good sense thing he did along the way. Just when I got comfortable, all hell broke lose.
The narration in this book by Dion Graham was beyond superb. A deep voice that was easy to listen to but also captured Justyce and his emotions exceptionally well.
DEAR MARTIN is one of those books that you have to read. I’d go so far as to say that all bookies, regardless of their genre leanings, would benefit from reading this. Let it sink to your bones and make you think.
Kristen Petersen doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.
Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen–especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.
The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with…
The steamy Chicago Rebels series returns with this racy and sassy tale of embittered hearts, second chances, and going for the goal—on and off the ice.
Vasquez never met her biological father, so learning he left his
beloved hockey franchise—the Chicago Rebels—to her is, well, unexpected.
Flat broke and close to homeless, Violet is determined to make the most
of this sudden opportunity. Except dear old dad set conditions that
require she takes part in actually running the team with the
half-sisters she barely knows. Working with these two strangers and
overseeing a band of hockey-playing lugs is not on her agenda…until she
lays eyes on the Rebels captain and knows she has to have him.
St. James has been labeled a lot of things: the Puck Prince, Lord of
the Ice, Hell’s Highlander…but it’s the latest tag that’s making
headlines: washed-up alcoholic has-been. This season, getting his
life back on track and winning the Cup are his only goals. With no time
for relationships—except the fractured ones he needs to rebuild with
his beautiful daughters—he’s finding it increasingly hard to ignore
sexy, all-up-in-his-beard Violet Vasquez. And when he finds himself in
need of a nanny just as the playoffs are starting, he’s faced with a
temptation he could so easily get hooked on.
For two lost souls, there’s more on the line than just making the best of a bad situation… there might also be a shot at the biggest prize of all: love.
Title : Hooked on You Author : Kate Meader Series : Chicago Rebels (book four) Format : OverDrive eBook Page Count : 384 Genre : sports romance Publisher : Pocket Star Release Date : May 7, 2018
Reviewer : Hollis Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5
Hollis’ 3.5 star review
Apparently I was so so keen to read this book in October of 2017 (even though it wouldn’t be out until May 2018).. that it took until July 2019 to actually read it. Go me!
“I, more than anyone, understand how they will happily remove your heart, hold it bloodied and pulped to the sky, and offer in sacrifice to whichever gods they pray to.“
“Does Isobel seriously put up with this shit?“
“She has accused me of drama on occasion. I have no idea why.“
So it’s been over a year since I was rubbing elbows with these characters but it was so easy slipping back into the Chicago Rebels universe. Which says something about the level of memorable-ness of both these characters and Meader’s world. A world which is pretty hilarious, full of hockey, hotties, and generally has at least one or two heavy topics to wield, or work through, before we see that HEA. As you do.
The beauty of AA was that no matter what city you were in or the time of day, there was usually a meeting happening nearby. Dallas was no different. [..] The team might be his brothers, but these strangers were his tribe.
This matchup between the grumpy Scot and the sassy Latina has been building for a while (see aforementioned 2017 excitement..) and I won’t say it disappointed. I definitely enjoyed this more than book two, the only other one I couldn’t round up on, because I think the balance between the humour, the joy, and the serious, was just.. right. Violet with her health scare, Bren with his alcoholism, both resisting the other for their own reasons. Throw in some single dad-ness, with two kids who were neither too overwhelmingly present or too precocious, and it was a great mix of Doing The Right Thing for the Right Reasons while still agonizing and angst-hate-flirting.
“Do you have some sort of Fleetwood Mac kink?“
“Kink? No. I’m a fan, like any right-thinking human.“
But there were also weird transitions or hiccups in their dynamic that would sometimes take me out of the moment, and I’m not quite sure why or how it happened. It was almost like being one step out of sync, things just wouldn’t line up, and it would take a moment for the record to stop skipping. But when that wasn’t interrupting my fun, there was also a lot of that ‘final book lets wrap up all couples and get hitched and/or pregnant’ cheese that, I mean, sure we know to expect it. But, again, cheese. Additionally there was a lot of evil ex behaviour syndrome. Which, fair, this is from last year (and likely written well before that) and I think we’ve since seen a down-turn, and taken strides to stop, with this trope but.. still. It existed. A lot. And suddenly.. it didn’t?
“Take me to bed, Scot.“
“Been that long?“
This is definitely a high three, because there was a lot of strength — like Violet not giving in when you think she might, which, for example, was definitely a highlight and also bucked a convenient romance trend — and fun, but those moments holding it back, well. It held it back. I might have felt differently last year but.. shrug emoji.
I have an ARC of Meader’s spinoff for this world, though, and I’m so excited to dive in. One of the many reasons I finally caught up on this series/book, hah. Because, yeah, complaints aside, this series has been a mostly four-star experience for me and I love this female-run, while also managed and supported by the first (in this world) out gay man in hockey (or was Cade out first? I can’t remember! either way! LGBTQIA+ friendly!), hockey team.. because who doesn’t love a Cinderella, underdog, against-all-odds-like-sexism-and-homophobia success story. But at the same time I’ll be kinda glad to leave behind the daddy issues and branch out and get a new angle on things. Like, say, an angle that features a journalist and an ex-Special Forces turned rookie? Hi hello.
Yes, we have demands, and here is our list. Because sometimes you read a book and just know it is perfect for the silver, or streaming, screen. We seem to be living in a world where many beloved books are being optioned, cast, and screened, so it seems like we have no limits to this book to TV/movie thing.
TV The Folk of the Air series by Holly Black The Lux series by Jennifer L Armentrout The Winners Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews The Forbidden Hearts series by Alisha Rai
MOVIES THE SONG OF ACHILLES by Madeline Miller A VERY LARGE EXPANSE OF SEA by Tahereh Mafi MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden THE BRAVEST THING by Laura Lascarso STARRY EYES by Jenn Bennett
DREAMS THAT ARE ALREADY (or might be) COMING TRUE THE HATING GAME by Sally Thorne — the movie has been cast! The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff — movie in development? The Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo — coming to a Netflix near you! THE KISS QUOTIENT by Helen Hoang — movie has been optioned RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE by Casey McQuiston — optioned by Amazon The Aurora Cycle by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff — optioned for tv
I’m (Micky) the kind of reader that occasionally flits in and out of a KU subscription, sometimes a complimentary 3 months (lets have more of this please). Along the way I’ve found some great reads that are mostly in the romance genre and some quick, hot, reads. I make no excuses for the quick, hot reads, sometimes that’s the flavour your mood requires. I’ve also found some fails; which aren’t included in this post.
This KU list relates to what I’ve read on UK Amazon and so there may be some regional variability. Also if you come to this post a little late, titles do move in and out of the KU subscription according to the author’s preference.