Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella (2020)
Ava and Matt meet on a writing retreat in Italy, and they instantly click - but in keeping with the rules of the retreat, they don't reveal any personal information about themselves. When they get home to England, eager to continue their relationship, they realize they have very little in common.
Sophie Kinsella is always good for a fun, quick read, and this was no exception. The idea that two people can have perfect chemistry, yet be so incompatible in terms of food, music, and mattress preferences is such a fun premise to explore. I found Ava's frenetic energy and need for everything to be perfect to be a little grating at times, but I understood her desire to want her relationship with Matt to work out. In addition to the romance, there are also a fun cast of side characters, including Ava's dog Harold, and a dilemma facing Matt's job with his family's business. I liked the layers this conflict gave to Matt's personality. Overall, a classic Kinsella story! 4 stars
Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon (2020)
Rowan and Neil have been fierce competitors all through high school, but today, on their last day, they decide to team up on a scavenger hunt through Seattle, during which they confront their true feelings for each other. There were so many things to love about this book: the condensed timeline; the tour of Seattle; watching Rowan's evolving feelings for Neil; Rowan's relatable feelings about her high school experience and the future; the age-appropriate dialogue and behavior. I've read a lot of YA books where the teenage characters felt much older than their ages, but here it was so believable that Rowan and Neil are 18. I loved how even though they've known each other for years, they really discovered a lot about each other over the course of a single day. Rowan was totally the star for me in this book; her love for romance novels shone through, and I was so happy for her that she was able finally express her desire to write them and confront those who didn't take her love of the genre seriously. If you love stories about friendship, love, ending a chapter and starting something new, definitely give this one a try! 4.5 stars
Westering Women by Sandra Dallas (2020)
Chicago, 1852 - Seamstress Maggie sees a flier seeking women to travel 2000 miles west to California, in hopes of finding a husband among the gold miners there. Maggie sees this as her chance to escape her problems, so she (and many other women) sign up to make the trek, led by two reverends. This was such an interesting historical fiction novel. I loved getting to know each woman and her motivations for joining the wagon train. Some were looking for a husband, some a better life, and some, like Maggie, were fleeing dangerous situations. Many of the women become close almost immediately, and you could feel the sense of sisterhood that evolved. They were fiercely protective of each other, from threats on and off the trail. It was heartwarming to see them work together to overcome the harsh environment. It did often feel that everything that could go wrong did, so while I was rooting for the women, it was hard to see how the story could have any hope of a happy ending. Overall, though, this was an interesting look at a time period in American history that I don't often come across in books. 4 stars
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