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  • We’re Speaking

    A
    Grade: A

    We’re Speaking

    Proud friend moment: my incredible friend Hitha wrote this book, it’s amazing, and I really think that pretty much everyone that reads this blog will really love it!!!! Also, she wrote it very quickly and I have no idea how she did it… I bow down. This book is an absolute MUST for every woman on your list, especially a younger woman beginning her career or graduating from college. This is a book about Kamala Harris, but it is not a policy book. It’s a book about Kamala’s life, and the lessons we can all learn from it… across family, relationships, work, and beyond. It’s part biography, part self-help/inspirational. It’s a book about finding your voice, being more confident, and stepping into your power. No matter what your political views may be, I think that we can agree that Kamala is pretty awe-inspiring… and it’s pretty amazing to have a Black, Asian-American female VP in the White House. I loved learning more about her life and her career (especially her family life), there is a lot I didn’t know! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

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  • Greenwich Park

    A+
    Grade: A+

    Greenwich Park

    I am calling it now, I think that Greenwich Park is going to be the Girl on the Train of 2022. If you like those types of thrillers (you know how much I love them!), you will not be able to put this book down… it is just so good. We have it all… an unreliable narrator, a potentially dangerous and destructive new best friend, erratic behavior, etc. There is definitely a content warning for infertility and also for rape/sexual assault so keep those things in mind… but this book is excellent! Helen is living a perfect life. A baby on the way, a handsome architect husband, and a beautiful Victorian home in London’s poshest neighborhood that they are renovating. When she meets Rachel at a prenatal class, she’s a little bit caught off guard (Rachel is much younger, brash and unconventional… smoking and drinking even while pregnant) but the two women strike up an unlikely friendship. They’re both a little lonely, and soon they’ll both be new moms! As time goes on though, she begins to wonder what Rachel actually wants… and it seems like Rachel may actually be a huge danger to her family and everything they’ve worked so hard to build. I will say no more but this book is twisty and smart and totally unputdownable. Two solid thumbs up from me! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

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  • State of Terror

    A
    Grade: A

    State of Terror

    I wasn’t sure what to expect from a political thriller co-written by Hillary Clinton, but my net takeaway/one sentence opinion is that this is such a FUN BOOK. It is a fast read, too. It’s a big fat book (around 500 pages) and I have been in a more stressful state of mind where I am wanting lighter reads, so I put off reading it because for whatever reason I assumed it would be a more “serious” read. It’s not. If you loved Scandal or 24, you will love this! It’s a new political administration after a very tumultuous time (seems familiar) and Ellen Adams has just been sworn in as Secretary of State. It’s interesting though, as her and the president do not get along. They’re sworn political enemies, actually. Shortly into the new presidency, things go belly up with a series of terrorist attacks taking place across Europe. Now, it’s up to Ellen to figure out what happens. A cat and mouse hunt occurs as she flies all over the world trying to catch who did this. But as with so many things, the problem is even bigger than she could have imagined. I loved this. I thought it was fun and smart and read it in one day (I was sick that day so I had a lot of free time). I also loved the Trump-esque character, he was fun. I highly recommend this book! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

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  • Cultish

    A+
    Grade: A+

    Cultish

    This is hands down, the best book I’ve read in a long time. Sometimes I will struggle with non-fiction, either putting it down and then picking it up or just taking a really long time to read it!!! Not the case with this one. I packed it for my trip to LA and DEVOURED it on the plane. I usually nap or work on the plane but once I started this, I couldn’t put it down. It’s just so smart – and interesting. I learned a lot from it but also was very much entertained.Amanda walks through more traditional cults like Heaven’s Gate and Jonestown while also teaching us about the language of cults (aka “Cultish”) and their charismatic leaders. Once we get through the more traditional cults she then takes us through more commonly accepted things that use this same language… MLMs, “cult” fitness studios, and social media gurus. I found the whole book fascinating but especially the chapter on MLMs. The language these founders use, and how they manipulate the lower tiers… just WOW. I can’t recommend this book enough, I can’t stop talking about it to anyone who will listen and want to give it to all of my friends! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

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  • You’ll Be The Death of Me

    A-
    Grade: A-

    You’ll Be The Death of Me

    I am such a fan of Karen McManus’s books. They’re always about a group of high school students and tend to give me those nostalgic Breakfast Club (or in this case, oddly – Dawson’s Creek) vibes but with a side of murder and mystery. The best YA thrillers (and an author Becca and I tend to bond over – the books are twisty enough for me but not so scary that she won’t want to read them). This is her latest and it is such a fun read. Three students (who were once thick as thieves but are now a lot less close) skip school for the day. While out and about, they spot a fellow student, also skipping. They follow him… to the scene of his murder! The rest of the book is spent figuring out who did it and working to clear their own names as now they were the only four seniors out of school that day. This was fast-paced and fun with a few good twists along the way. I really enjoyed it and read it in just two sittings. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

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  • If You Tell

    A-
    Grade: A-

    If You Tell

    I’m going to give this book a good rating because it IS perfectly researched, with excellent story telling (it reads like fiction), and the writing is great BUT I don’t know that I can actually recommend this book as it has pretty much every trigger warning I can think of (particularly child abuse, body shaming, torture, murder, I could go on…), leaving me really, really upset and a little bit nauseous. This is the story of Shelly Knotek and her three daughters (+ random friends who joined the family at times but always somehow ended up disappearing). You can read more about Shelly/everything she did in this article… make your decision from there. The book is terrifying. I felt truly sick to my stomach by the end (though relieved as all three daughters made it out alive and seemingly have normal lives today). I know I read a lot of books that are dark and twisty… but they’re all fiction. I think that separation between fiction and reality is what makes me love my twisty thrillers. Knowing that this was real and actually happened to these girls (and the people who were murdered) was deeply upsetting. I read it as research for my friend Casey’s podcast. I’m excited for our episode to come out. If I hadn’t been reading it as research I probably would have stopped reading, instead I read it (all traumatic 400 pages of it) in just a couple days. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

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  • Fake

    A
    Grade: A

    Fake

    I absolutely devoured this book… reading it in literally one day. (I had the most delicious Sunday afternoon where I just read and read and read until it was dark outside). This is a thriller (maybe more of a suspense novel) set in the art world, about rich criminals… which basically is all about my favorite things to read about in one place. Emma Caan is working as an art copier for a Manhattan company. This is a perfectly legal profession (copies are noted as such, and used by collectors, museums, etc. for when the original is being cleaned or to protect it when there is a party or event). One day, she catches the eye of Lenny Sobetsky, one of the agency’s biggest clients. Before she realizes it, she’s gotten a new job at the city’s best gallery, is traveling to Hong Kong (privately!), and living in a chic Soho loft. All for just a few strings and agreeing to help Lenny cut out the middleman and copy his works for less than he was paying the agency. This was so fun to read. I loved the glamour and escapism (the art! Hong Kong! exciting parties and a meteoric rise for our protagonist) all while knowing it would eventually come crashing down. I can’t recommend it enough… pre-order it! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

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  • Ghosts

    B+
    Grade: B+

    Ghosts

    I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this book as the reviews have been so mixed! I will tell you that while it is British, it is much less “British chick lit” than I thought it would be (a positive – that is not really my genre, the writing style can get so rambly; I prefer a more direct style of writing). I really liked the writing. I liked the plot too. Nina Dean is a successful cookbook author, owns her own flat, and is living a pretty great life with great friends (including her long time ex and his girlfriend Lucy). When she meets Max on a dating app, sparks fly and things move quickly . They date for four months, when out of the blue… Max ghosts her. Nina is devastated (and at the same time dealing with her father’s Alzheimer’s, Lucy’s annoying hen do (bachelorette), and issues with her friends. I thought this was really well written, relatable and poignant (it’s probably the most realistic look at modern dating I’ve read in awhile), and also very funny at times too. This one is our November Bad on Paper book club pick and I’m excited to talk about it (and ghosting) in greater detail. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

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  • Not a Happy Family

    C
    Grade: C

    Not a Happy Family

    This was… not good. It bummed me out as I really enjoyed The Couple Next Door, a few years ago. I found it really predictable and I guessed who the murderer was pretty early on. A wealthy couple is found murdered just after Easter, and an investigation begins. At first the police believe it to be a robbery, but they quickly change their tune, believing it to be someone close to the family… or maybe a member of the family. As time goes on we learn that this family was indeed… not a happy family. The father was abusive and vindictive toward the kids, the mom complacent. All three adult children become suspects, and no one trusts a soul. Who could have done it? Who was capable of murder? Or was it actually an outside job. The book takes us through the investigation. Parts were really interesting (and it could be that I read too many of these types of book) but I just found it to be super predictable, a bit of a slog at times, and I guessed the ending really early on. I would skip this one if I were you! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

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  • Goodnight Beautiful

    A
    Grade: A

    Goodnight Beautiful

    I LOVED THIS! You know that my favorite genre is twisty thrillers (or Gone Girl rip-offs, as Becca lovingly calls them). I read so many of these sort of books though that the twists have stopped hitting me as hard. Or, I guess them. This one had SO many good twists and was different from any other thriller I’ve read. Sam Statler and Annie Potter are newlyweds in love! They’ve left New York City to move to a small town upstate. Sam’s mother is in a home for her dementia, and Sam’s opened his own therapy practice (where he tends to a mostly needy, mostly female clientele). The only thing: there’s a vent in the ceiling and every word of his conversations can be heard upstairs. What’s wrong with a little eavesdropping? One day, a French girl in a mini cooper shows up. And from there, everything begins to unravel. Sam disappears, horrible money issues come to light, and Annie begins to wonder if she every really knew her husband at all. The first couple chapters of this felt a little sleepy, but then it gets GOOD. I highly recommend this one if you love a good twist as much as I do. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

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  • Little Secrets

    A
    Grade: A

    Little Secrets

    I was convinced that the universe did not want me to read this book. The first copy I ordered was lost in the mail and the second came but was misprinted… the first half of the book was upside down/printed backwards. It had come highly recommended by @things.i.bought.and.liked (and I reallllly wanted a thriller), so I read it anyway. Let’s just say that I am very glad I persevered… this was SO good. There is a trigger warning for suicide. Marin and her husband Derek were madly in love, but fifteen months ago their little boy was abducted in plain site, kidnapped by someone dressed up as Santa. Marin was with him at the time and blames herself. Meanwhile, in present day, the PI she hired to help her find her son has discovered something else: her husband is cheating on her with a 24 year old (McKenzie Li). Marin becomes unhinged. She couldn’t save her son but she can save her marriage. And she will do *anything* to get McKenzie out of the picture. When Mary Kubica (another fav) blurbed this she said “You don’t just read this book; you inhale it.” She was right!!!! I’d just add that you exhale very deeply at the end. Whew. A wild ride! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

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  • White Smoke

    A-
    Grade: A-

    White Smoke

    This was Tiffany D. Jackson’s first foray into horror and it absolutely does not disappoint. She is one of my favorite authors and usually she writes twisty suspense thrillers for the YA set. Despite being written about teens and generally YA oriented, her books tend to get dark… really, really dark… nothing is off limits and most of her books come with at least a couple trigger warnings! Her books are suspenseful and keep you on your toes but they’re not usually scary. This one was terrifying! So naturally, I loved it. Mari and her newly blended family (her Black mother and little brother Sammy + white father and ten year old step sister Piper) pick up from California and move to a small town in the midwest where her mother has secured a residency. It will be a fresh start for everyone (Mari has a troubled past and also suffers from crippling anxiety). But from the minute they arrive, creepy things start to happen. The floors always creak. Things vanish and get moved around. Mari is convinced that the house is haunted, but her family blames her anxiety and no one will listen her. How far do things have to go before they believe her? I read this while I was sick with strep throat and it was the absolute perfect distraction. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

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  • Reminders of Him

    A-
    Grade: A-

    Reminders of Him

    This book is going to make you cry. A lot. You’ve been warned. Wow. You never know what you are going to get with a Colleen Hoover book and in this case, it’s a tearjerker. A redemption story. An impossible scenario with no real villain (but still, a horrible tragedy).Kenna Rowan is a woman who has hit rock bottom. Five years ago, a tragic mistake (her mistake) left her boyfriend dead, and sent her to prison for five years. Now she’s out of prison and has returned to the town where everything went wrong. All that she wants is to meet her four year old daughter (she gave birth in prison and the daughter is now being raised by her boyfriend’s parents), but those closest to him don’t want that to happen. Through a chance encounter, she winds up connecting with his best friend, Ledger Ward. The two have immediate chemistry, but once they realize who the other one is, they avoid each other. Still, they find themselves being drawn to each other even though they know they can never really be together and that Kenna can never be with her daughter. This one really drew me in and made me cry more than once – highly recommend! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon!

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  • Apples Never Fall.

    A-
    Grade: A-

    Apples Never Fall.

    I want to call this a thriller, but it’s more of a novel about family dynamics. I’m having a hard time classifying it! Regardless, Liane Moriarty is one of my favorite authors and this is her first new book in a few years (her last book came out in 2018 and I wasn’t a huge fan). This was very good, and as with all of Moriarty’s books, I felt as though the understanding of humans (specifically, families) was just so sharp and on point. Stan and Joy have been together for years. They have four children and have just sold the family business – a tennis coaching center. But as they enter retirement, cracks in their marriage (and big secrets!) appear. One night. a young woman (about the age of their adult children) appears at their door, in need of help. And so they offer to help. But what happens? Is she who she says she is? The book alternates between present day where Joy has gone missing and events leading up to her disappearance. I loved this. It kept me on my toes and surprised me more than once. And as someone who ran competitively through high school and part of college I REALLY related to the sports bits. It’s on the longer side but I still managed to finish in a couple of days. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon. 

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  • 56 Days

    B
    Grade: B

    56 Days

    This one was also set in the time of COVID-19 (though in Ireland, so it felt less triggering?) It’s a thriller – fun and twisty… something you can definitely read in a day, preferably on the beach with a cocktail. Ciara and Oliver have a meet-cute at a supermarket in Dublin and start dating. Everything seems perfect, except that the week they meet is also the same week that COVID-19 hits Ireland. He has secrets and worries about her intentions. She can’t believe someone like her could be into her. When lockdown hits, Oliver suggests that they move in together. It’s fast, but it’s just two weeks, right? No one even knows they are together and here they are… living together like a married couple. 56 days later, a decomposing body is discovered inside Oliver’s apartment. What happened?  I won’t say any more but this had lots of twists and turns. I liked that it was told from both characters’ perspectives. It’s suspenseful and DARK! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

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  • Wish You Were Here.

    A
    Grade: A

    Wish You Were Here.

    Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors. I never miss anything she writes! I was a bit deterred when I saw that this one was set during COVID-19, in New York. I will say that if you got really sick or lost a loved one from COVID, maybe skip this – it may be a bit triggering. That being said, it’s one of my favorite books of the year. I don’t want to tell you too much as there’s a great twist. Diana O’Toole is one of those women who has everything figured out. She has a plan. Married by 30, kids done by 35… all while climbing the ladder in the art world, working at Sotheby’s. Her boyfriend Finn is a surgical resident at a hospital in New York. They are about to go on a romantic getaway to the Galapagos Island and she knows he is going to propose. But when a horrible virus hits New York, it is all hands on deck at the hospital. Their tickets are nonrefundable and he encourages her to go without him. So she goes, only to get stuck there. When she arrives, the island is completely shut down. There’s no WiFi. Her luggage is lost. The hotel is shut down. Relying on the kindness of strangers, she settles in and waits it out. I don’t want to say anymore but I LOVED this book. Worth the pre-order. Pre-order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

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  • In Polite Company

    B+
    Grade: B+

    In Polite Company

    I really enjoyed this! Simons Smythe is a twenty something from a long line of born and bred Charlstonians. The middle daughter of two sisters, it seems everything is going to plan. She’s engaged to be married to her college sweetheart Trip, her younger sister is about to debut in society, and her older sister is about to give birth. Simons has a great job working at the local news station. Still, she’s not content. She’s fallen out of love with Trip and unsure what she wants. Sometimes I won’t enjoy books like this with a younger twenty-something protagonist making bad decisions (she makes some terrible decisions with men), but you root for her. And I loved her grandmother Laudie’s character: a seemingly conservative and polite upstanding woman… with secrets of her own! My other favorite part of the book was the depiction of Charleston and its elite old families. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

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  • The Other Me

    A-
    Grade: A-

    The Other Me

    This one took me about 80 pages to get into but once I got into it, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down (I stayed up until 1am finishing it!!!). It’s perfect for fans of Sliding Doors. Kelly is a struggling Chicago artist, but overall, she likes her life. She is free-spirited and happy, with a close knit group of friends. On the night of her 29th birthday, she is at an art gallery. She opens a door and suddenly she’s in her Michigan hometown with twelve years of all new memories (plus, her old memories… confusing!). She is married to Eric, a sweet and handsome guy that she barely knew in high school. Her whole family is there for her birthday dinner and everything is… very different. In this life, he’s her high school sweetheart. She still lives in her hometown, never went to art school and is instead a graphic designer who can barely paint (and seems a little bit bored, to be honest!). At first, Eric seems pretty perfect but as time goes on, she begins to think he might be behind this sudden switch. I liked this book because this sort of plot hasn’t been done before – it felt very fresh and because of that, it kept me on my toes.  It’s also a great exploration of “what if!?!” Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

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  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

    A
    Grade: A

    The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

    This came highly recommended by so many of you (especially after reading The Midnight Library) and wow, I see why… it’s one of the best books I’ve read in a while. So creative and such an interesting premise. It’s been on nearly every “best of” books list, too. I will tell you that it is long (444 pages), and I struggled with the writing at times, but it feels a bit like a fairy tale for grownups in the best possible way. Spanning over 300 years, it is the story of Adeline LaRue. 23 and about to be married off to a man she does not love, she makes a deal with the devil… not knowing what she is doing. In exchange, she’s free – and will live forever. But no one will ever remember her. And so she spends three hundred years being very alone. Can’t get a job, form relationships or ever marry, can’t even rent an apartment. But with that freedom, her life becomes such an amazing adventure, spanning centuries and continents! It was getting pretty sad (and lonely) until one day Addie is in a bookstore and plot twist: a young man remembers her. I won’t say anymore but it’s a wonderful story and I loved the ending so much – it made me cry! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon!

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  • The Magic of Found Objects

    A-
    Grade: A-

    The Magic of Found Objects

    This book is so sweet. Sweet in a good way. I love how Maddie Dawson writes… her books are all so magical. (her other book, Matchmaking For Beginners, is still one of my all-time favorite books.) Phronsie and Judd have been best friends forever, bonding over their (many) bad dates in New York (relatable!!!). One day, Judd hatches a plan… they should get married! They are above all of that love stuff… and since they have the foundation of friendship, they’ll be able to spend the rest of their lives together, raise children, and so on and so forth. Phronsie’s father and stepmother couldn’t be more delighted. The wedding is moving forward. Meanwhile, her capricious and free-spirited semi-estranged birth mother keeps telling Phronsie to STOP, that the universe is sending her signs not to do it. When Phronsie meets someone who she could (maybe?) really love, she has to make a decision. Does she move forward with a life that will give her stability and babies and certainty… or should she give that up and hold out for true love?! I really enjoyed this book and am excited that we’re going to have it as our September book club pick! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

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  • The View Was Exhausting

    B
    Grade: B

    The View Was Exhausting

    I wanted to love this one but only wound up being medium on it! I had seen so much hype about it on Instagram, the premise was so good (a faux Hollywood romance turned real between an A-list hollywood actress and a hotel heir), it had been blurbed by Taylor Jenkins Reid (my favorite), and it was written by a lesbian couple (cool!). But the writing just didn’t grab me and I never felt very connected to the characters. Parts felt tedious to read and a lot of it just just felt… flat? I think it could be that it was a little bit awkward because (I think) the authors’ primary language is German. Regardless, it was a fun read and it had a good twist that I didn’t see coming. I love anything about the ins and outs / behind the scenes of Hollywood, and I read it within a few days. But was only medium on it if I’m being totally honest. I will tell you I am in the minority here. I have been seeing really great things about it all over Bookstagram. So I could be wrong. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

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  • The Show Girl

    B+
    Grade: B+

    The Show Girl

    I received an ARC (advance reader copy) of this one and was drawn to it as I loved City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert so so much. This wasn’t as good as that but I still really enjoyed it. Fun and feminist, and I love reading books set during Prohibition New York. Olive McCormick moves to New York from Minneapolis in 1927, where she becomes a star in the Ziegfeld Follies. Her family (her father, really) is unsupportive of her dancing: they find it disgraceful and force her to make a decision between them (and living a nice life at home) and performing. She chooses performing. It’s the thing she loves most, the thing that lights her on fire. When she meets handsome, wealthy, Archie Carmichael, she thinks she’s found the one: a man that accepts her career and desire to be on stage. But as they continue to see each other and ultimately get engaged, she realizes that she has to choose and that she can’t have both things: does she give up the man she loves for the life she loves… or give up the life she loves for the man she loves? I really enjoyed this. It took me a little while to get into but once I was hooked, I couldn’t stop. And it had a really satisfying ending too. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

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  • The Third Door

    A
    Grade: A

    The Third Door

    Oh my goodness, this book. It was a great re-entry into nonfiction as I was so taken with it that I just couldn’t put it down and wound up reading it in just a few days. It’s so many things. First, it’s a coming of age story (the author was 19 when he started writing the book: the night before finals, he hacked The Price is Right, won, and used the money to fund his dream). So that in itself was pretty interesting. He made it his mission to interview the world’s most successful people and learn from them. In doing this, he noticed a theme that he referred to as The Third Door. The idea is that life and business are like a nightclub. Some people wait in line and never get in. Others (billionaires, mostly) walk right in. But what about a third door – being scrappy and creative and figuring out your own way in? Throughout the book he talks to some of the most inspiring people – everyone from Bill Gates to Lady Gaga. I could not put it down. I loved the plot (his friendship with Elliott Bisnow, founder of Summit, was wonderful). I found myself laughing, crying, and also taking notes. I cannot recommend it enough! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon!

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  • While We Were Dating

    B+
    Grade: B+

    While We Were Dating

    This was the last book of The Wedding Date series. I hesitate to call them a series, as you can 100% read each of the books alone… it’s just that the characters from previous books make little cameos. Anna Gardiner is a Hollywood movie star, determined to make a name for herself. When she stars in an ad campaign produced by (handsome, former backup dancer) Ben, sparks fly between the two of them. A flirtation develops between the two of them, and then sex… and then they become “fake” boyfriend and girlfriend to help Anna advance her career and promote her next movie. But what if the feelings between them aren’t fake? Jasmine Guillory has a formula for her books which usually looks something like this: Boy and girl meet. Sparks fly. But it’s just for fun and they can’t be together. But maybe they can be together? Satisfying reunion. And as much as I know the formula and can guess exactly what is going to happen, it’s still incredibly satisfying. I really enjoyed this. Party of Two is still probably my favorite of hers but this was a fun read. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

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