Book Review: Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

After reading The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams, I could not wait much longer to read the sequel: Undercover Bromance.

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Blurb:

Braden Mack thinks reading romance novels makes him an expert in love, but he’ll soon discover that real life is better than fiction. 

Liv Papandreas has a dream job as a sous chef at Nashville’s hottest restaurant. Too bad the celebrity chef owner is less than charming behind kitchen doors. After she catches him harassing a young hostess, she confronts him and gets fired. Liv vows revenge, but she’ll need assistance to take on the powerful chef.

Unfortunately, that means turning to Braden Mack. When Liv’s blackballed from the restaurant scene, the charismatic nightclub entrepreneur offers to help expose her ex-boss, but she is suspicious of his motives. He’ll need to call in reinforcements: the Bromance Book Club.

Inspired by the romantic suspense novel they’re reading, the book club assists Liv in setting up a sting operation to take down the chef. But they’re just as eager to help Mack figure out the way to Liv’s heart… even though she’s determined to squelch the sparks between them before she gets burned. 

My thoughts:

I enjoyed meeting once again the characters that I had met in the first book of the Bromance Book Club series. As with the first novel, a thread of lightheartedness runs though the story – which was perfect for this period of social distancing. There were times in the novel when I could not help but laugh in appreciation at what the characters said and did.

Despite the humour though, the story does address a more serious issue: that of sexual harassment by a powerful man. Not only does the story address the need for women to stand up against incidents of sexual harassment – but it also suggests the need for women to stand together and support one another when women do find the courage to stand up against the harassment they are experiencing. The need for women to stand together in solidarity and support one another seems to be a theme that runs through many of the recent novels I have read. What I do like about Undercover Bromance is that not all men are tarnished with the same brush.

The main characters (Mack and Liv) are shown as having both strengths and weaknesses – in this way I was able to relate to them as representations of real people. Both these characters grow during the story: they both realise that their past has impacted the way they relate to others. Acceptance of their past leads them to making decisions that will impact positively on their future.

I enjoyed the second novel in the series. Undercover Bromance is the perfect novel if you are looking for a modern romance story that explores issues that women currently face. It is definitely a fun read that draws you in. The second book in the Bromance Book Club is certainly worth a read. Now I wait for the next in the series. 😀

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 31st novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Book Review: The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams is a novel I picked up because of the reviews I had read in Instagram by the bookish community. Staying at home due to social distancing was starting to feel difficult for me, so I picked up this title to give me some cheer.

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Blurb:

The first rule of book club: You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.

My thoughts:

This book was just what I needed to take my mind off the need to practice social distancing and the spread of the Coronavirus. The story was lighthearted but with a thread of seriousness running through it. I could not help but read this story in one sitting – I loved the characters so much.

The Bromance Book Club is told in a 2 person point of view: that of Gavin (the husband) and Thea (the wife). In this way, both sides are told of the problems they are experiencing in their marriage. In addition to the 2 person POV, the author has included excerpts from the novel that the Book Club is reading. It is a fun way to contrast reality vs a story, as well as past practices in romantic relationships with the present. It is interesting to see how Gavin applies the story he is reading with his friends to his own marriage.

The book doesn’t promise you to be more than what it is – a romance story that is geared to take you away from the reality of your life with some steamy sex scenes. What it does do, however, is bring a little humour in your day and encourage you to reach for the next book in the series. If you are looking for a contemporary romance read that will take you to another reality, then this is the novel for you.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 29th novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Book Review: Taken By Storm by Tami Hoag

During the first week of social isolation, I needed something more than music to ease my mind while journaling. I came up with the idea of searching the catalogues of our library for an audiobook. My thought was that the focus required to listen to a story would help focus my mind and prevent it from skittering all over the place as I thought of the CoronaVirus. I requested the first available book I saw by an author I knew: Taken by Storm by Tami Hoag.

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Format: Audiobook (narrated by Donna Rawlins)

Blurb:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Tami Hoag comes this bittersweet romance classic about a woman who’s rebuilt her life—and her heart—after the disappointments of the past, only to find her carefully laid plans shattered by a knock on the door.…

As a trauma nurse, Julia McCarver is accustomed to dealing with life-and-death emergencies. But she is the one in shock when she answers the door and finds the past standing there in the person of S. T. “Storm” Dalton. Julia had painstakingly put her life together not just once but three times in the wake of his abrupt and devastating departures, and she has no intention of doing it a fourth time. Because that’s what S.T. promises he will do—break her engagement to another man, her heart, and her future all over again. Except, of course, that’s not what he calls his plan to win her back. He gives himself two weeks to convince Julia that he’s changed, that she is still in love with him, and that—despite conventional wisdom—the fourth time lightning struck can be a charm.

My thoughts:

I did not know that Tami Hoag wrote romance as I have only read her thrillers. According to the author’s note at the beginning of the story, Hoag began her career writing romance. Taken by Storm does follow the traditional format of a romance, leaving the storyline to be a predictable one. However, many of the images used by the author were beautifully written and reminded me of why Hoag is one of my go-to novelists. In addition, the humour of the story elicited a few chuckles from me.

I enjoyed the audio version of this book especially because the reader did an excellent job. Her voice and pitch for the story was perfect. I loved, too, that she changed her voice for the various characters – even taking on a Latino accent for one of the characters. Donna Rawlins’ interpretation of the text added another level of pleasure to my enjoyment of this novel.

Taken by Storm was the perfect story to take my mind off of the COVID-19 pandemic that was encroaching our borders at that time. It is a lighthearted, humorous read that is perfectly narrated. I recommend that this novel be added to your list of books to listen to.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 27th novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Currently Listening: Taken by Storm

Since the start of social distancing, I have discovered the joy of audiobooks and have started borrowing books from the library through their virtual checkout. I have found that listening to stories distracts me from my boredom – especially when I am no longer able to read physical books. I now listen to novels while doing household chores, cooking, and journaling.

Currently, I am listening to an author I have enjoyed in the past: Tami Hoag. I have read many of her thrillers and have now discovered that she wrote romance when she started publishing work. It is interesting to know that she changed genre. While listening, I can still enjoy the way she writes.

Do you listen to audiobooks?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

Book Review: The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver

I enjoyed Josie Silver’s debut novel so much that when I saw an ARC of her latest, The Two Lives of Lydia Bird, at the OLA Super Conference I brought it home without reading the blurb.

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Blurb:

Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They’d been together for more than a decade, and Lydia thought their love was indestructible.

But she was wrong. On her twenty-eighth birthday, Freddie died in a car accident.

So now it’s just Lydia, and all she wants to do is hide indoors and sob until her eyes fall out. But Lydia knows that Freddie would want her to try to live fully, happily, even without him. So, enlisting the help of his best friend, Jonah, and her sister, Elle, she takes her first tentative steps into the world, open to life–and perhaps even love–again.

But then something inexplicable happens that gives her another chance at her old life with Freddie. A life where none of the tragic events of the past few months have happened.

Lydia is pulled again and again across the doorway of her past, living two lives, impossibly, at once. But there’s an emotional toll to returning to a world where Freddie, alive, still owns her heart. Because there’s someone in her new life, her real life, who wants her to stay.

Written with Josie Silver’s trademark warmth and wit, The Two Lives of Lydia Bird is a powerful and thrilling love story about the what-ifs that arise at life’s crossroads, and what happens when one woman is given a miraculous chance to answer them. 

My thoughts:

This is a story that describes the stages of grief. We read how Lydia learns to cope with the loss of her love, Freddie and, to a lesser degree, we read of how Jonah, Freddie’s best friend, copes with the loss of a man who was like a brother to him. Even though The Two Lives of Lydia Bird is described as a romance, the novel focuses on dealing with how two people learn to cope without the person who has been the centre of their life.

Earlier on in her grieving process, Lydia uses the alternate reality she experiences through the use of sleeping pills to help her push through her days. As time passes, she slowly comes to certain realisations about herself and about her relationship with Freddy. I enjoyed reading about the events and experiences that led to her personal growth and to the increase of her inner strength. These experiences take place in their own time and the pace of them is realistically suggested.

Silver has written this novel with sensitivity, showing an understanding of the grief process. She suggests that it is okay to move at your own pace when grieving for the loss of a loved one. The author shows that life continues despite the loss of a loved one; and that there is hope in the lives of the people left behind. Silver’s writing pulls at at the reader’s heartstrings and gives one a sense of hope that the grief will cease to be all-consuming.

If you read One Day in December and enjoyed it, you will devour this second novel in a heartbeat. Silver did not disappoint me with this book, and I loved The Two Lives of Lydia as much as I did her debut.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 21st novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Book Review: A Girl's Guide to the Outback by Jessica Kate

I had seen reviews of A Girl’s Guide to the Outback by Jessica Kate on Instagram which raised my curiosity. I decided to see whether my library had a copy of the book. They did and soon after it arrived for me to read.

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Christian Fiction

Blurb:

Samuel Payton is a passionate youth pastor in Virginia, but beneath the surface, Sam’s still recovering from a failed business. His coworker—start-up expert Kimberly Foster—is brilliant, fearless, and capable, but her mother’s rejection from a young age till now has left her defensive and longing for a family. Two people have never been more at odds—or more attracted to one another. And every day at work, the sparks are flying.

When Kimberly’s ambitious plans for Sam’s ministry butt up against his risk-averse nature, Sam decides that obligations to family trump his work for the church. He quits the ministry and flies home to Australia to help his family save their struggling farm—much to Kimberly’s chagrin. As Kimberly’s grand plans flounder, she is forced to face the truth: that no one can replace Sam. To what lengths will she go to get him back?

My thoughts:

A Girl’s Guide to the Outback is a romance written in a 3 person point of view. The pacing throughout the novel keeps the reader interested as the author shares a story about ordinary people. What was different in this romance to others I have read, is the Christian slant to it.

Not only was the story clean (no steamy sex scenes) but it also sent out a very Christian message: to trust in God and to let Him lead you to where you are to go in love and life. The growth of the characters in the story as they come to certain realisations is also linked to their belief in God and to their Christian values. They reach their full potential in the story when they realise they have to completely put their trust in God.

The pacing in the novel was good throughout and there was only one section in the story where I got a little bored: the description of when Kimberley doubted herself – it felt a little repetitive. I enjoyed reading a romance that was focused on the spiritual side of a relationship instead of a physical one and will definitely look out for more stories by this author.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 20th novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Teaser Tuesday: A Girl’s Guide to the Outback

I follow many readers on Instagram who enjoy posting about the books they read. One person whom I follow wrote a review on A Girl’s Guide to the Outback by Jessica Kate. I was intrigued, especially as she said the story had a Christian bent to it.

I enjoyed reading a romance that is unashamedly Christian. Throughout the novel there are references to Christian beliefs and values. There is one line that really stands out for me:

“Letting fear win also means you are refusing to trust God. That’s a slap in the face to Him.” (p333, Thomas Nelson, 2020)

These words can really hit home to the hearts of believers, especially in the light of recent events.

Do you enjoy reading Christian-themed books?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

Book Review: The Upside of Falling by Alex Light

While at the OLA conference, I passed by an ARC of The Upside of Falling by Alex Light. The cover of the novel attracted me so I decided to pick it up. Once I had read the blurb, I thought it would be a pleasant read for the month of February.

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Romance

Blurb:

It’s been years since seventeen-year-old Becca Hart believed in true love. But when her former best friend teases her for not having a boyfriend, Becca impulsively pretends she’s been secretly seeing someone.

Brett Wells has it all. Being captain of the football team and one of the most popular guys in school, he should have no problem finding someone to date, but he’s always been more focused on his future than who to bring to prom. When he overhears Becca’s lie, Brett decides to step in and be her mystery guy. It’s the perfect solution: he gets people off his back for not dating and she can keep up the ruse.

Acting like the perfect couple isn’t easy though, especially when you barely know the other person. But with Becca still picking up the pieces from when her world was blown apart years ago and Brett just barely holding his together now, they begin to realize they have more in common than they ever could have imagined. When the line between real and pretend begins to blur, they are forced to answer the question: is this fake romance the realest thing in either of their lives?

My thoughts:

The Upside of Falling was the perfect lighthearted, feel good read. The story is told from two points of view – both Becca and Brett. During the story, the reader sees how both characters evolve and come to certain realisations. They learn to accept changes in their lives, and how to move on despite these changes.

The novel describes the first love of Becca, a bookish nerd. It is a love that is unexpected and sweet. In the story Becca finds her voice and learns to express her feelings. It is interesting to note that Brett, the boy she learns to love, also discovers his own voice. The Upside of Falling shows that, with a friend’s support, changes in life can be managed and you can find the courage to have your say.

I loved this novel and read it in one sitting. The characters drew me in and I became invested in their story. Alex Light has written a perfectly paced story that embraces the beauty of first love and the growth of a person into who they will become. This novel is a perfect read for a romantic and for those who enjoy reading about the experience of a first young love.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 14th novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Book Review: The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

I was still in the mood for a little romance – it was the perfect genre to take my mind off of the strike action the teachers in the province are participating in. I decided to pick up The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa as the cover of the novel appealed to me.

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Blurb:

A wedding planner left at the altar. Yeah, the irony isn’t lost on Carolina Santos, either. But despite that embarrassing blip from her past, Lina’s managed to make other people’s dreams come true as a top-tier wedding coordinator in DC. After impressing an influential guest, she’s offered an opportunity that could change her life. There’s just one hitch… she has to collaborate with the best (make that worst) man from her own failed nuptials.

Tired of living in his older brother’s shadow, marketing expert Max Hartley is determined to make his mark with a coveted hotel client looking to expand its brand. Then he learns he’ll be working with his brother’s whip-smart, stunning—absolutely off-limits—ex-fiancée. And she loathes him.

If they can survive the next few weeks and nail their presentation without killing each other, they’ll both come out ahead. Except Max has been public enemy number one ever since he encouraged his brother to jilt the bride, and Lina’s ready to dish out a little payback of her own.

But even the best laid plans can go awry, and soon Lina and Max discover animosity may not be the only emotion creating sparks between them. Still, this star-crossed couple can never be more than temporary playmates because Lina isn’t interested in falling in love and Max refuses to play runner-up to his brother ever again… 

My thoughts:

The Worst Best Man is an pleasurable read with characters that a reader will enjoy spending time with. However, there is not much depth to the characters who are portrayed in a superficial way. No growth occurs in them as a result of their experience and I missed reading about characters who experience a significant change in their outlook. In writing this novel, Sosa has followed the traditional romance template instead of branching out into the more modern romance which focuses on the character growth of the female character.

Even though The Worst Best Man is an old-fashioned romance novel, it is the perfect read when you need something lighthearted to boost your mood. The novel contains some moments which made me smile and certainly was a pleasure for me to read. The novel is the first in the series and I will probably pick up the second to find out the story of the other characters in the story.

If you are looking for a novel that is a quick read with not too much detail, Sosa’s story is perfect. It will lighten your mood and leave you smiling.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 13th novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Book Review: Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

I picked up a copy of Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Win at the Ontario Library Conference earlier this year. I had heard good things about the novel and was curious enough to read it for myself.

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Blurb:

When eighteen-year-old Ever Wong’s parents send her from Ohio to Taiwan to study Mandarin for the summer, she finds herself thrust among the very over-achieving kids her parents have always wanted her to be, including Rick Woo, the Yale-bound prodigy profiled in the Chinese newspapers since they were nine—and her parents’ yardstick for her never-measuring-up life.

Unbeknownst to her parents, however, the program is actually an infamous teen meet-market nicknamed Loveboat, where the kids are more into clubbing than calligraphy and drinking snake-blood sake than touring sacred shrines.

Free for the first time, Ever sets out to break all her parents’ uber-strict rules—but how far can she go before she breaks her own heart?

My thoughts:

I loved this story and completed it in one sitting. Loveboat, Taipei is a young adult romance that incorporates within it a love triangle. However, the novel is more than just a simplistic version of a girl liking two boys. It is a story in which all three of the characters involved (Ever, Rick and Xavier) go through a period of growth and realisation of who they are and where they want to be in the future.

Hing Wen takes the reader to a place out of their experience. I enjoyed seeing another culture through her eyes; and getting to understand a little more the experience of immigrant children in America. This diverse read focuses on the experience of one person (Ever) but in reality references the experience of many.

This coming of age story is a lighthearted read with a thread of seriousness running through it. It is a perfect feel-good read – and one that is perfectly suited for those who enjoy reading romances (no matter what their age).

I give this novel ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 11th novel in my book pledge for 2020)