Matchmaking for Beginners – Book Review

By: Maddie Dawson

Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson is a fun spin on the traditional romance novel. It includes magic, witchery and elements of serendipity. Dawson creates interesting characters that provide enjoyable additions to the story’s main plot.  One of the main characters, Aunt Blix, feels she has a special gift that helps her see and touch people’s emotions.  She believes in some forms of witchcraft, mainly focusing her craft on assisting others in finding love.  She has an unconventional view on life, love and death. 

“…it’s in the broken places where the light gets in.”

Marnie, the other main character in this story, seems completely different from Blix.  Marnie fantasizes about her future life as a wife and mother.  Despite this, when Blix meets Marnie for the first time, she feels instantly connected to her, like they are kindred spirits. These two women meet at Blix’s niece’s home when Marnie is introduced to Blix’s family.  Marnie is engaged to Blix’s grandnephew Noah.   This meeting will shape the final moments of Blix’s life and Marnie’s entire future. 

As the book continues, Marnie’s life takes an unexpected turn leaving her alone and single again.  She eventually tries to pick up the pieces of her life with a new man she thinks she loves.  I could see that this new love interest brought Marnie the comfort she so desperately needed after her heartbreak.  However, it became increasingly apparent that she wasn’t in love with this man, and she was just hoping to find herself back on track with the life she had always dreamed of.  However, in the back of Marnie’s mind she keeps remembering Blix’s inspiring words.   Blix wanted a different life for Marnie, and you can see Marnie struggling to understand which life she truly wants.   Blix, from afar, never stops thinking about Marnie.  Blix tries to influence Marnie to choose bigger and more exciting paths in life. 

“I think she’s kind of enjoying being furious with her ex for now, if you want to know the truth. It’s hard to make room for love when anger still feels so good.”

This story includes love, loss, happiness and humour.  Although Marnie wasn’t the most exciting character, you can’t help but feel connected to her.  Some of the situations she found herself in, especially with Jeremy, were a bit frustrating, but I can understand her desperate need to heal her heart.  Blix brought humour and excitement into this story, and when she passes, I felt like her presence was desperately missed.  I really enjoyed learning about the other characters in Blix’s life.  Her neighbours were all exciting people, and seeing how their lives were affected by love added a layer of intrigue to the story.  I was not fond of the negative connotations implied towards a more conventional life; everyone should choose the path that makes them the happiest.  I can’t say this is my favourite book of all time, but it was definitely a fun read.  I have already purchased Maddie Dawson’s sequel to this book, A Happy Catastrophe.

“My own heart, given away to Noah, now stirs somewhere deep down, stretches, yawns, looks at its watch and rolls over, tries to go back to sleep. But it has one eye open, I notice.”

Have you read any of Maddie Dawson’s work?


A Spanish Love Deception – Book Review

By Elena Armas

A Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas is your typical enemies turn lovers romance novel. It was also very funny; therefore, I would categorize it as a rom-com as well.  The main characters, Catalina and Aaron, are both engineers who work at the same company in New York City.  They do not have a friendly relationship until Aaron offers Catalina his help with a work event and with her family.  Catalina is desperate for help and, despite her worries, decides to take Aaron up on his offer.  As they spend more time together, Catalina begins to see Aaron differently.

What I loved…

I don’t think I have ever loved a main character as much as I loved Catalina. She was intelligent, funny, intense and exciting. The way she interacts with other people and the way she starts babbling in awkward situations was hysterical. The thoughts that went through her head are even more entertaining than the things she ends up saying out loud.  Throughout the book, we see her begin to understand her true worth by accepting her shortcomings, acknowledging her successes and loving herself. 

We are introduced to even more hilarious characters when meeting Catalina’s family in Spain. Her family was loud, intense and funny. I could have read a whole book just on Catalina and her family. All the chapters involving the Spain trip I read in one sitting, it was just too funny, I couldn’t put the book down!

The love story between Catalina and Aaron was predictable, but I still really enjoyed it. They are pretty different, so reading about their interactions at work and their slow progression to falling for one another was amusing. However, I feel that they fell “in love” a bit too quickly, but it made for a good story.

I also liked how Armas included some real-world connections to this story. She wrote of the difficulties a successful female engineer would have in a predominantly male industry. Catalina’s career obstacles would have been different from Aaron’s or any of the other male engineers. The sexist comments she receives from one of the male co-workers show the difficulties that some women may face in their work environment. I think the inclusion of these subplots added some realness to this story that I thought was important.

Minor things I didn’t like…

The book was way too long. The beginning sections that showed the hatred Aaron and Catalina had for one another lasted forever.  I found myself skimming through some of these initial interactions.  I would have preferred the beginning section to be shorter and the parts where they’re in Spain to have been longer. There was so much build-up to their trip to Spain, and then I felt like the Spain trip came and went too quickly!

Final remarks…

In the end, despite its length, I could not put this book down. I enjoyed reading it, and I was sad when it ended.  I would highly recommend reading this book.

Where to find the Author…

https://www.authorelenaarmas.com/


With Warm Weather Comes Bright Books! My Spring Reading List

It is the first week of Spring, and I am so excited! I absolutely love this time of year. Snow is melting (even though Switzerland barely gets snow apparently), flowers and trees are blooming, and the temperature rises. The winter is behind us, and the day is getting longer! All I want to do is be outside enjoying this beautiful weather. With this excitement, I thought it was only fitting to create a list of the books I want to read to keep me in my happy spring mood. Here is the list I came up with:

The Spanish Love Deception By: Elena Armas

Armas has an absolutely beautiful bookstagram page that features all the books she has read and loved. She mostly reads romance novels and is a self-proclaimed hopeless romantic. Some books she has recommended have become my absolute favourites. Therefore, when she completed her first romance novel in early 2021, I knew I had to get my hands on it. The reviews on this book have been great; I can’t wait to get started! 

Dominicana By: Angie Cruz 

This book is set in multiple seasons; it follows a woman from the Dominican who moves to New York City. However, much of the book’s beginning is set in the Dominican Republic’s countryside (which satisfies my need for a warm setting). The main character has always dreamed of a better life in America, and when the opportunity arises, it’s not exactly as she pictured it. This is a more serious book than the rest on this list, but I am really intrigued by the storyline. As well, in 2020, this book was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and has received many other numerous awards. The reviews for this book are incredible.

Float Plan By: Trish Doller

This book is set in the summertime on a sailboat, so I am already hooked! The plot centers around a woman who has just experienced deep grief and is now supposed to be going on a previously booked sailing trip; realizing she can’t make the trip alone, she hires a professional sailer to come on the trip with her. This book is exactly the kind of book that will excite me for the summer months ahead.  

Matchmaking for Beginners By: Maddie Dawson 

This book was written a few years ago and was (and is) very popular. It has been on my TBR list for quite a while, so I thought it was time to take it off the shelf and finally give it a read.  

What is on your spring reading list?


The Happy Ever After Playlist- Book Review

Author: Abby Jimenez

“You can’t control the bad things that happen to you. All you can do is decide how much of you you’re going to let them take.”

I want to start by saying that The Happy Ever After Playlist, by Abby Jimenez, is actually the second book of a series.  However, I didn’t know this when I started reading it; I only realized it after I had finished the book.  The Friend Zone is the first book in the series but, The Happy Ever After Playlist can definitely stand alone.  Zero knowledge of The Friend Zone is needed to read this story.

I picked this book up from the bookstore because I felt it was time to read a lighthearted, fun, romantic book that would make me smile.  This book did just that.  My last few books had been pretty dramatic, serious and emotional, so this was a welcomed break. 

What is this book about?

The main character, Sloan Monroe, is trying to pick up the pieces of her life after her fiance suddenly died in a motorcycle accident two years ago.  The first book gives the excruciating details of the accident and the hospital scene; in this book, you are left to imagine how terrible this experience would have been for Sloan.  I, for one, am very glad I didn’t have to read about those details.  This story is focused more on how Sloan will help herself move on from this loss and bring happiness back into her life.

One day as Sloan was driving and stopped at a stoplight, a dog (which we later find out is named Tucker) ran into her car, causing quite a big scene.  Once Sloan pulled off the road with this dog, she tried to look for the owner but couldn’t find anyone that knew the dog.  She decided to bring the dog home and care for it until she could locate the owner.  Little did she know this encounter would change her life.  Tucker brought so much energy into Sloan’s life, and you begin to see Sloan coming out of her depressed shell while trying to care for this dog.  Eventually, we find out the dog owner is a man named Jason, who is currently in Australia for work.  Sloan and Jason begin speaking over the phone, at first only concerning Tucker, but gradually, they find themselves more interested in learning about one another.  Jason is the first man that Sloan finds herself crushing on since she lost her fiancé.  This is how their romance begins.   The beginning of their relationship is exciting and playful, everything a new relationship should be.  Eventually, as they start to fall more into one another, their relationship becomes a serious love affair filled with dramatic ups and downs, especially once Sloan realizes that Jason is an up and coming musician.

My thoughts on the book…

This is an enjoyable, lighthearted romance novel.  You know the characters will fall for one another right from the beginning, but the turns and twists it takes along the way are pretty surprising.  I also really loved Sloan’s character; I was always rooting for her.  I truly wanted her to find happiness, whether it was with Jason or in her own life.  I think the character development of Sloan was the best part of this story.  You watch her struggle in the beginning to find a way to move on with her life after her sudden heartbreak, then slowly see her trying to put happiness back into her life.  I liked that even though Jason had a big part in helping her move on from her loss, Sloan individually worked on how she could better herself and move on from her tragic experiences.  When she finally gets back into the hobbies she loves, it is genuinely heartwarming. She began as a fractured love hurt young women and grew into an independent artist who woke up every day prioritizing her happiness. 

Jason’s character I fell in love with right from the beginning, I think most women would.  He was incredibly charming, flirtatious, kind and caring.  He knew what Sloan had gone through and approached it perfectly.  He always put her happiness at the forefront of his life, which is something every woman deserves.  His character definitely hit many women’s fantasies of falling in love with a beautiful famous singer.

This book was a very enjoyable read; I especially loved the ending.  This is a perfect book to lift your spirits and make you feel so warm inside. The songs Jimenez included before each chapter really represented the feelings you experience when reading that chapter, and I thought that was a unique twist to this romance novel.   Whenever I would read this book throughout my day, I was instantly in a better mood and really, what more could you want from a book?

A little bit about the author…

Abby Jimenez is the author of The Friend Zone and The Happy Ever After Playlist. Jimenez is also a famous baker who has won many Food Network Competitions. She first showed off her literary skills through comments on her baking page: Nadia Cakes. She has a new book coming out in spring 2021 called Life’s Too Short.


Beach Read – Book Review

By: Emily Henry

“…when the world felt dark and scary, love could whisk you off to go dancing; laughter could take some of the pain away; beauty could punch holes in your fear.  I decided then that my life would be full of all three.”

I want to start by saying I do not like the title of this book; it does not do this book justice AT ALL. I’m not sure why the author chose this title because it also doesn’t seem to connect to either character.  That being said, the title is literally the only negative thing I can say about this book.  Beach Read by Emily Henry was simply amazing. 

I came across this book at a local bookstore in Switzerland.  They had a small English section near the back.  I saw Beach Read perked up on display broadcasted as a new read.  I almost ignored it because of the title.  However, once I looked into the reviews, they were all fantastic! I was on a hunt for a funny, easy read, and this seemed to match perfectly.  I am so glad I picked up this book, it was exciting from beginning to end.

What is the book about?

This book centers around two characters, Augustus Everett (nicknamed Gus) and January Andrews. The book is narrated by January. It is set in the summertime in a small lake town called North Bear Shores.  Gus and January are both staying in cabins next door to one another.  January is visiting this cabin for the first time when she stumbles upon her neighbour, Gus Everett.  January recognizes Gus from her college years, she remembers that he was often rude to her, but she always had a small crush on him.  She always felt like they competed with each other, even after college, when they became published authors.  When Gus and January first stumble upon each other outside of their cabins, their interaction does not go well.  Gus is visibly angry about something, and January is mad with the way he is speaking to her.

As time progresses, Gus and January find themselves continually running into each other; they realize later on that the town people may have had something to do with that.   They eventually form a friendship with one another, becoming more and more fond of each other.  Their relationship challenges both of them to come outside of themselves in different ways. This book is a story of grief, love, laughter and acceptance.  It is so much more than just a ‘rom-com’.

My review…

I think you can already tell how much I love this book.  The book made me cry, made me laugh and made me yearn for the characters to fall in love.  Henry’s writing is so detailed that although I knew these characters were not real, I found myself genuinely caring for them.  She shows how different these two characters are, but she also makes you feel like they belong together. The smart, sarcastic way the characters communicate is so entertaining and the heartwarming story she forms around January and Gus is beautiful.  As well, the relationship both characters have with their fathers adds another layer of emotion to this story.

I did not want this book to end.  Emily Henry knows precisely how to captivate her audience. I had never read anything by Emily Henry before but, I have already ordered another one of her books!

More books by Emily Henry:

The Love that Split the World 
When the Sky Fell on Splendor 
A Million Junes
People we Meet on Vacation (will be released May 2021)