Music Monday: A bit of Tiffany

Last week I was looking for a relaxing film to watch on Netflix when I came across a new rom-com of theirs: Love, Guaranteed. I clicked on the thumbnail and decided to watch it based on the very short blurb.

The film was what you would expect of the typical rom-com: a predictable love story that leaves you with a smile on your face. It was just the type of film to watch after a tiring day – and one, as well, that I could stop midway and watch over two days.

During the film, snippets of I Think we’re Alone Now by Tiffany were played.

I used to love this song when I was a teenager – I would play it over, and over, and over. Hearing the song took me back – and of course I had to listen to the full version later on on the week! 🙂

What song in a film has taken you back to the past?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

Currently Listening: The Switch

Currently I am listening to The Switch by Beth O’Leary while starting a new crochet project. I am now working on an afghan for my cousin (remember my yarn haul of a few weeks ago?)

The story I am listening to centres on Leena and her grandmother Eileen. Ordered to take a two month long sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, Leena escapes to her grandmother’s house. Once there, the two women decide to switch lives for the period: Leena takes over her grandmother’s life while Eileen, a 79 year old woman, goes to London to look for love and a change of pace. Stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected – ad leads them to learning more about themselves.

I am enjoying this 2 POV narration that is spot on. The narrators of the novel are perfect for the two generations of women in the story – their voices sound their age! I cannot stop listening as the storytelling just draws me in. I loved The Flatshare and I am enjoying The Switch just as much. Beth O’Leary has done it again in that she has created a relevant story for today’s times that is so different to the other stories out there.

What are you currently listening to?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This audiobook is the 105th novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Book Review: The Hot and Hammered Series

I picked up the first two books in this series by Tessa Bailey as the people on Bookstagram raved about the stories. And the covers look cute! 🙂

Genre of both novels: Romance, Contemporary

Blurb for Fix Her Up:

Georgette Castle’s family runs the best home renovation business in town, but she picked balloons instead of blueprints and they haven’t taken her seriously since. Frankly, she’s over it. Georgie loves planning children’s birthday parties and making people laugh, just not at her own expense. She’s determined to fix herself up into a Woman of the World… whatever that means.

Phase one: new framework for her business (a website from this decade, perhaps?)

Phase two: a gut-reno on her wardrobe (fyi, leggings are pants.)

Phase three: updates to her exterior (do people still wax?)

Phase four: put herself on the market (and stop crushing on Travis Ford!)

Living her best life means facing the truth: Georgie hasn’t been on a date since, well, ever. Nobody’s asking the town clown out for a night of hot sex, that’s for sure. Maybe if people think she’s having a steamy love affair, they’ll acknowledge she’s not just the “little sister” who paints faces for a living. And who better to help demolish that image than the resident sports star and tabloid favorite?

Travis Ford was major league baseball’s hottest rookie when an injury ended his career. Now he’s flipping houses to keep busy and trying to forget his glory days. But he can’t even cross the street without someone recapping his greatest hits. Or making a joke about his… bat. And then there’s Georgie, his best friend’s sister, who is not a kid anymore. When she proposes a wild scheme—that they pretend to date, to shock her family and help him land a new job—he agrees. What’s the harm? It’s not like it’s real. But the girl Travis used to tease is now a funny, full-of-life woman and there’s nothing fake about how much he wants her..

Blurb for Love Her Or Lose Her:

Rosie and Dominic Vega are the perfect couple: high school sweethearts, best friends, madly in love. Well, they used to be anyway. Now Rosie’s lucky to get a caveman grunt from the ex-soldier every time she walks in the door. Dom is faithful and a great provider, but the man she fell in love with ten years ago is nowhere to be found. When her girlfriends encourage Rosie to demand more out of life and pursue her dream of opening a restaurant, she decides to demand more out of love, too. Three words: marriage boot camp.

Never in a million years did Rosie believe her stoic, too-manly-to-emote husband would actually agree to relationship rehab with a weed-smoking hippy. Dom talking about feelings? Sitting on pillows? Communing with nature? Learning love languages? Nope. But to her surprise, he’s all in, and it forces her to admit her own role in their cracked foundation. As they complete one ridiculous—yet surprisingly helpful—assignment after another, their remodeled relationship gets stronger than ever. Except just as they’re getting back on track, Rosie discovers Dom has a secret… and it could demolish everything. 

My Thoughts:

Both these novels are lighthearted reads that don’t require the reader to think too much about social or relationship issues. Like many romances of this genre, they were a little predictable and did not present any surprises. I liked the storyline of Fix Her Up especially as it is about a woman who is fighting to be taken seriously by her family. The storyline of Love Her Or Lose Her had the potential to be interesting (especially as there aren’t too many romances that deal with marriages that are facing difficulties), but the story was portrayed in a superficial way.

When reading a romance, I expect to read about kissing and sex. The sex scenes in these two novels, however, were a little overdone – and, to be honest, unrealistic. What made it even more unrealistic, to me, was that the scenes in both novels were similar. With different characters, I expect different ways of relating to one another sexually. The focus on sex unfortunately impacted the meat of the storyline and, for me, the enjoyment of the novel.

There is a third book in this series that has come out. I am not sure whether I will read it – time will tell.

I give Fix Her Up ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars and Love Her Or Lose Her ⭐️⭐️ 2 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(These novels were the 54th and 55th novels in my book pledge for 2020)

Book Review: Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich

One of the things I have discovered during the period of social distancing and staying at home is the use of audiobooks from my local library. The second title I enjoyed in March was Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich. I had previously enjoyed reading novels by this author, so I looked forward to the story.

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Format: Audiobook – read by Lorelei King

Blurb:

Life in Marblehead has had a pleasant predictability, until Diesel arrives. Rumor has it that a collection of priceless ancient relics representing the Seven Deadly Sins have made their way to Boston’s North Shore. Partnered with pastry chef Lizzie Tucker, Diesel bullies and charms his way through historic Salem to track them down—and his criminal mastermind cousin Gerewulf Grimorie. The black-haired, black-hearted Wulf is on the hunt for the relic representing gluttony. Caught in a race against time, Diesel and Lizzie soon find out that more isn’t always better, as they battle Wulf and the first of the deadly sins.With delectable characters and non-stop thrills that have made Janet Evanovich a household name, Wicked Appetite will leave you hungry for more.

My thoughts:

Wicked Appetite was a fun and hilarious story – and I often laughed out loud at the characters’ antics and at the words that came out of their mouths. This book definitely put me in a good mood – in fact, it encouraged me to continue listening even though I was done with my creative task. If you have read any of the Stephanie Plum stories by Janet Evanovich and enjoyed them, then this story is for you. The author’s effervescent humour is found in this novel too.

There is no character building and growth in this novel – but that is not the intention, I think, of the story. Instead it is a fun tale that will definitely take your mind off of the realities of the COVID-19 virus. I enjoyed the slapstick humour of witches and magic, as well as the dig at the fantasy genre.The audiobook is perfectly read by Lorelei King as her voice projects the humour expressed by the text.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 32nd novel in my book pledge for 2020)

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: 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)

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: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

I was in the mood for a light read and as I browsed through my shelves, my fingers picked out The Bride Test by Helen Hoang.

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Blurb:

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love. 

My thoughts:

The characters in this story drew me in and and a cold winter’s day was the best time to get to know them. Esme is a determined young woman who has grown up in poverty and who desires a better life for herself and her family. I enjoyed reading of her experiences as she is spunky and does not give up. Khai is autistic and Hoang has described his character with dignity and sensitivity. I love the way he is presented as well as his interactions with Esme.

The Bride Test is a modern romance that focuses not only on the relationship between two people who fall in love but also in the growth of both the characters. Both Esme and Khai experience growth as both of them come to certain realisations that help them make a choice for their future happiness. What I enjoy most of modern romances, is that the man doesn’t come to the rescue of the woman. Instead, it is her own actions and choices that lead her to a better place in her life.

The relationship between Esme and Khai is beautifully described: the first touches, the sense of hesitancy, the confusion. Their relationship grows slowly and the author teases us with the development of their relationship. The pacing in the novel was a perfect reflection of the connection between Khai and Esme.

I enjoyed The Bride Test and read it in one afternoon.his novel is a perfect choice if you are looking for a light read that will put a smile on your face.

I give this novel ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 9th novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Teaser Tuesday: Twice In A Blue Moon

On Instagram, many women posted positive reviews of Twice In A Blue Moon by Christina Lauren so I decided to pick it up from the library to read. Today I will share an extract from this romantic comedy.

The extract I am sharing with you describes the moment when the main protagonist, Tate, is caught unawares by reporters and photographers. Since she was a child, she had been living in obscurity causing a lot of curiosity about her as her father is a famous and beloved actor:

“An explosion of cameras caught the awkward collision on film. I’d see the photos everywhere for weeks to come. A chorus of voices shouted my name – they knew my name. Nana turned, grabbing my hand and jerking me back into the hotel. It took me a long time – far longer than it took her – to figure out what was going on.” (p107, Simon & Shuster, 2019)

The story continues fourteen years later when she encounters her first love, the man who sold her story to the papers.

Would this romantic comedy interest you?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020