Review: The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

Alexis:

I don’t usually read romance books, but I’ve had so much intense reading for class lately that I needed a fun book to read as a distraction!

The Spanish Love Deception follows Catalina, a Spanish woman living in NYC. Her sister is getting married back home in Spain, and Lina promised to bring her boyfriend as her date to the wedding. The only problem: she doesn’t have a boyfriend. But her coworker, Aaron, convinces her to take him along, and pretend to be her boyfriend.

What I liked:

The dialogue was fun, snappy, and playful. Lina and Aaron are foils to each other in many ways; Lina is loud and talkative, and Aaron is serious and quiet. Their relationship is fun to read about, and I enjoyed the dynamic between them, as well as Lina’s dynamic with her family.

The romance takes a while to happen (definitely a slow burn) but it was written well (it does get steamy!)

What I didn’t like:

The book went on a little long. I definitely think 100-200 pages could’ve easily been condensed or cut out. Because of this, the writing, including Lina’s internal narrative, often feels repetitive. We see Aaron’s description literally every chapter; I got a little tired of reading about his blue/ocean eyes and huge/bulky physique.

That being said, if you’re looking for a fun romance, specifically enemies to lovers, an office romance, and the fake dating trope, consider picking this one up.

VERDICT: ⭐⭐⭐

Review: The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis

Alexis:

Hi, everyone! I’m moving into my new apartment tomorrow. I’m really excited, but I’m also already exhausted just thinking about it!

The Masterpiece is the last book I read on the beach. It isn’t my usual read, but it was a great beach read! Overall, this is one of those books that I read and I liked, but it didn’t leave a long-lasting impression.

The book alternates between two timelines. In 1928, Clara Darden is an illustrator teaching at the Grand Central School of Art in New York City. In 1974, Virginia Clay is a recent divorcee and cancer survivor who begins working at the Grand Central Terminal when she finds a painting abandoned in the old art school. 

What I liked: I loved that the story centered around a building. I learned a lot about the history of the Grand Central Terminal. The story focuses a lot on the beauty of the terminal in the 20’s, and how the building has been worn down over the years by the time the 70’s roll around. 

I really enjoyed reading about Clara’s life as a woman struggling to prove herself as an artist. I loved her determined character, and her struggle resonated with me. I also learned a lot about art, especially how illustrators, not to mention women artists, were viewed in the 1920’s. 

What I didn’t like: I wasn’t a huge fan of Virginia’s storyline. I’m not really sure why, but it didn’t resonate with me like Clara’s storyline. 

Clara’s sectionsfocused too much on Oliver, in my opinion, and I wasn’t a fan of his character.

I also found the ending to be melodramatic and not very believable. 

As an aside, my mom also read this book. She loves historical fiction, and she really liked this book. She loved the descriptions and the history of the Grand Central Terminal. 

VERDICT: 3 stars

Review: Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave

Alexis:

This is a book with an unlikeable main character. In fact, most of the characters are unlikeable, except for Sunshine’s cute niece. This makes for an interesting book. As a reader, I kept wondering, “Why is Sunshine like this? Why has she made all these terrible decisions?”

Lying, and what happens when your lies are exposed, is the center of the book. In Hello, Sunshine, Dave exposes how living a lie makes Sunshine confront her past and her future. Sunshine is a successful culinary star, but the kicker? She can’t cook. When she gets hacked and her secret is exposed, her life immediately falls apart.

It was a fast and interesting read, but it wasn’t super impactful.

VERDICT: 3 stars

Choosing a Book to Read Tomorrow

Alexis: Hi, everyone!

I’m trying to choose between these three books to read tomorrow. I’m just not sure what I’m in the mood for.

If anyone’s wondering, I’m thankful that Anna left most of the books she accumulated while living in NYC at home, so I have a lot of books to choose from!

I hope you all have had a great and productive Monday. Goodnight!

Review: The Editor by Steven Rowley

Alexis: 

What I liked: I like Rowley’s writing style. I remember liking it a lot in his other book, Lily and the Octopus. His dialogue is always on-point and funny, and I enjoy his imagery. 

I also really liked James as a character. I found him funny, and I enjoyed reading about his relationship with Daniel. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book set in the 1990’s, and I enjoyed the political climate and the history of the book.

What I disliked:

I really couldn’t get into this until about halfway through. James’ story was a little too boring at first, and I found myself skimming a lot of the details. I wanted to have more of James’ backstory earlier on in the story.

My biggest issue with the book was with Jackie Kennedy as a character. I could tell that Rowley was being careful with how he wrote her, and because of this, she never felt fully fleshed out as a character. I’m not a huge fan of historical people being one of the main characters in books, and I don’t think she served a good enough purpose. In my opinion, the editor would’ve made more of an impact in the story if Rowley had made up a famous editor and created a backstory for her. 

There was also an event towards the end of the book which I felt like didn’t fit into James’ character, and was a little too on the nose. 

Overall, I liked James and Daniel, and as a writer myself, I enjoyed reading about James writing his novel. But the slow plot and Jackie’s character dragged this down a star.

VERDICT: 3 stars

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Review: In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende

Alexis: Read 2/1/19

In the Midst of Winter is a story of grief, guilt, and love. The book focuses on three main characters: Lucia, a lecturer from Chile; Richard, a professor; and Evelyn, a caregiver from Guatemala. Half of the book is set in 2016, explaining how the three characters meet and become involved in each other’s lives, while the other half explores their complicated, and often depressing, pasts.

I adored the first half of the book, which opens on Lucia’s life in New York City during a snowstorm. It’s such a promising premise. As the reader, you are immediately thrown into the minds of Lucia and Richard, and I enjoyed reading about their contrasting personalities. I love that Lucia has a bug-eyed old Chihuahua, while Richard has four cats that he simply calls one through four in Portuguese. Though I found Evelyn’s life and story interesting, I felt like her dedicated chapters didn’t reveal her character or thoughts as well as Lucia’s and Richard’s.

As usual with Allende’s writing, I love her descriptions in this book and I think they serve the story and the characters well. I also enjoyed reading about the tumultuous histories of Chile and Guatemala, as well as Richard’s time in Brazil.

This book went in a different direction than I expected, however. The morbid reason the three characters go on a journey together works at first, but I found that it didn’t work the further I got in the story. I correctly guessed the twist towards the end. When I finished the book, I was left underwhelmed. It addresses such deep and interesting histories and emotions, yet it ends on an almost “oh, well!” and weirdly cheery note, which dragged down my review.

VERDICT: 3 ½ out of 5 books