Book Reviews · Recommendations

For the Love of Friends by Sara Goodman Confino

For the Love of Friends
By: Sara Goodman Confino

Book Cover

Published: August 2021
Published by: Lake Union Publishing
Format Read: ebook, Net Galley, Kindle
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Rating: 3/5

Note: I was sent a copy of For the Love of Friends by Sara Goodman Confino, from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

A sharp and hilariously relatable novel about the business of weddings, the toll they can take, and the lengths one exasperated bridesmaid will go to for the love of friends.

Lily Weiss is her mother’s worst nightmare: thirty-two and single—the horror! She’s also a talented writer but hides behind a boring job at a science foundation. To her friends, she’s reliable and selfless, which is how she winds up a bridesmaid in five weddings in six weeks. Anything for her three best friends and two (younger) siblings, right? Even if her own love life is…well, she’d rather not talk about it. To keep her sanity, Lily needs a safe place to vent.

And so her anonymous blog, Bridesmania, is born. The posts start pouring out of her: all the feels about mom-zillas, her vanishing bank balance, the wicked bridesmaids of the west, high-strung brides-to-be, body-shaming dress clerks, bachelorette parties, and Spanx for days, not to mention being deemed guardian of eighty-eight-year-old Granny (who enjoys morning mimosas in the nude) for her brother’s destination wedding.

So far the blog has stayed anonymous. But as everyone knows, few things online remain secret forever…

When all is said and done, can Lily help all five couples make it to happily ever after? And will her own happy ending be close behind?

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

32 years old, single and stuck in a job beneath her talent; that describes Lily, the main character in Sara Goodman Confino’s debut novel. Life was pretty uneventful until she agrees to be in, not one, but five different weddings! That’s five weddings in the span of only 6 weeks! Piece of cake, right? Wrong! Especially when you throw in numerous celebrations, commitments, bridesmaids from hell and a nearly non-existent budget.

Anyone who has ever planned or been in a wedding party can relate to the chaos that occurs in For the Love of Friends. I’ve had the pleasure of standing in two weddings to date and while it was an honor, they were anxiety inducing experiences for sure. I couldn’t imagine juggling five at once, like Lily. This was a character I was able to easily relate to.

The author did a great job of conveying the emotions Lily experienced including; feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Although the blogging of the mania would get her into hot water, I enjoyed reading about this aspect. Although this is a lighthearted contemporary, I appreciate and was able to relate to the inclusion of body shaming in the wedding industry. Sure, it sounds nice for all the bridesmaids to wear the same dress, but not every women has the same body type. Some of the demands the brides made in this story were way over the top. The hectic pace of this book reminded me of The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger.

I would recommend For the Love of Friends by Sara Goodman Confino to fans of humorous contemporaries with a dash of romance.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Last Bathing Beauty by: Amy Sue Nathan

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The Last Bathing Beauty
By: Amy Sue Nathan

Published: April, 2020
Published by: Lake Union Publishing
Format Read: ARC, Kindle, eBook
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Rating: 2.5/5

NOTE: I was sent a copy of The Last Bathing Beauty y Amy Sue Nathan, from the publisher, via Net Galley, in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

A former beauty queen faces the secrets of her past—for herself and the sake of her family’s future—in a heartfelt novel about fate, choices, and second chances.
Everything seemed possible in the summer of 1951. Back then Betty Stern was an eighteen-year-old knockout working at her grandparents’ lakeside resort. The “Catskills of the Midwest” was the perfect place for Betty to prepare for bigger things. She’d head to college in New York City. Her career as a fashion editor would flourish. But first, she’d enjoy a wondrous last summer at the beach falling deeply in love with an irresistible college boy and competing in the annual Miss South Haven pageant. On the precipice of a well-planned life, Betty’s future was limitless.
Decades later, the choices of that long-ago season still reverberate for Betty, now known as Boop. Especially when her granddaughter comes to her with a dilemma that echoes Boop’s memories of first love, broken hearts, and faraway dreams. It’s time to finally face the past—for the sake of her family and her own happiness. Maybe in reconciling the life she once imagined with the life she’s lived, Boop will discover it’s never too late for a second chance.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Eighteen year old Betty “Boop” Stern wants more than a husband and children. She has dreams of being a fashion editor and having a full career. This is rare for a women in 1950’s America. The Last Bathing Beauty is a dual timeline novel that follows present day senior citizen “Boop” as she reminisces about the life changing events of the summer of 1951.

Fans of the movie Dirty Dancing will appreciate the summer resort setting. Readers will be transported back to a time that is often described as more simple. Although Betty would be faced with some life changing events, this book was chalk full of all things stereotypical of the 1950s. While I enjoyed these aspects, I often found our young main character to be too sugar sweet.

The Last Bathing Beauty showed an interesting comparison between the past and present differences in society, family values and scandal. While I did enjoy the 1950s setting, I liked present day “Boop” more than the naïve beauty queen of her adolescence. I struggled to finish this book as I didn’t feel motivated to read and I felt that too much of the plot was given away too soon.

Although my experience reading Amy Sue Nathan’s The Last Bathing Beauty, garnered a 2.5 rating, I would recommend it to fans of light historical romance.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

What You Wish For by Katherine Center

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What You Wish For
By: Katherine Center

To Be Published: July 2020
Published by: St. Martin’s Press
Format Read: ARC, NetGalley, eBook, Kindle
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Rating: 5/5

NOTE: I was sent a copy of Katherine Center’s What You Wish For, from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

From Katherine Center, the New York Times bestselling author of How to Walk Away comes a stunning new novel full of heart and hope.
Samantha Casey loves everything about her job as an elementary school librarian on the sunny, historic island of Galveston, Texas—the goofy kids, the stately Victorian building, the butterfly garden. But when the school suddenly loses its beloved principal, it turns out his replacement will be none other than Duncan Carpenter—a former, unrequited crush of Sam’s from many years before.
When Duncan shows up as her new boss, though, he’s nothing like the sweet teacher she once swooned over. He’s become stiff, and humorless, and obsessed with school safety. Now, with Duncan determined to destroy everything Sam loves about her school in the name of security—and turn it into nothing short of a prison—Sam has to stand up for everyone she cares about before the school that’s become her home is gone for good.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Samantha Casey has finally found a home for herself with a job as a librarian at a Galveston Texas independent school. Then her life is turned upside down after the death of her mentor and the arrival of a man from her past. Fans of Katherine Center may already by familiar with the male lead; Duncan Carpenter, as he was a minor character in the book Happiness for Beginners.

I began What You Wish For expecting this to be more of a literary fiction. So I was surprised to be introduced to such a quirky main character. I wasn’t sure if I liked Samantha or which genre this book would fall into. But I knew that I liked the current writing style and was eager to see how the plot played out.

I appreciated how just when a situation was about to get too cheesy, it was shut down. and sent in a different direction. But for all Samantha Casey’s quirkiness, What You Wish For, actually touches on some very serious topics. In fact, I would advise caution to those who are sensitive to tragedies and medical issues. One topic of social commentary this book touched on is the importance of good teachers and a positive educational experience. This is especially important during this time of homeschooling during a global pandemic.

Although I found sections to drag on, there were so many points that really spoke to me. In fact there were several passages I marked and read over and over again. I had a profound reading experience, which is why despite some grievances I gave this book 5 stars.

What You Wish For is a story of coping with tragedy and finding joy in life, which really resonated with me. I would highly recommend this book and I look forward to reading more from Katherine Center.

Favourite Quotes

“It’s one of the secrets to life that no one ever tell you. Joy cures everything.”

“It’s a choice,” I went on, feeling like I needed to make him see. “A choice to value the good things that matter. A choice to rise above everything that could pull you down. A choice to look misery right in the eyes.. and then give it the finger.”

“The world keeps hanging on to this idea that love is for the gullible. But nothing could be more wrong. Love is only for the brave.”

“We made a choice to do joy on purpose. Not in spite of life’s sorrows. But because of them.”

“..choose joy on purpose.”