Fromage à Trois

“Fromage à Trois” is a lighthearted if predictable read about a woman on a journey to find herself and her life after a particularly devastating break-up with her long-term partner. Believing it’ll help her heal faster, Ella flees her native Australia for the whimsical, romantic streets of Paris. While I found the trope to be outdated, I still enjoyed the novel. A large credit goes to the characters, both Ella and her supporting cast, as well as the author’s writing.

You get sucked in alongside Ella as she walks the streets of Paris, as she tries all the delicious and delectable cheeses, and explores love in different forms. I will say that there were a few cliche moments and I was slightly disappointed to see Ella jump from one relationship right into another. Nearly as soon as she reached Paris! So many things worked out for Ella, I didn’t feel she experienced quite the struggle someone else would. She had some savings, she found a few jobs, made friends, etc. Things seemed quite easy for her and at the end, I thought that she was making a similar mistake like she began with.

Overall, though, I’m glad I read it. It was a breezy read and if you’re looking for something to escape to, this would be a good bet. It’d make for a fun romantic comedy. Many thanks to NetGalley and Amberjack Publishing for this ARC. It will be published on October 9th, 2018.

Something in the Water

What is supposed to be an idyllic honeymoon for Erin and Mark quickly turns sour when they make a decision and are forced to reckon with the consequences. While the opening chapter grabbed my attention, it was quickly downhill from there.

I had trouble believing a lot of things in this novel, such as Erin and Mark being “passionately in love” as described in the summary. I didn’t pick up on a romantic vibe. In the beginning of the novel, Mark loses his job, just before they’re supposed to get married, and naturally those two things can put a strain on any relationship but all they did was fight, and in such an angry way too.

As the couple tries to figure out what to do about what occurred on their honeymoon, Erin morphs into an odd character. For someone who is a documentary filmmaker, who is supposed to notice and be alert, well, her actions become problematic and strange when trying to deal with certain situations. For most of the novel, I was just like, what are you doing? Not only were her actions confusing to keep up with, so were her thoughts.

I know there was a lot of hype surrounding this novel, especially as pick for Reese’s book club, but unfortunately it wasn’t for me. I couldn’t enjoy it.

The Ancient Nine

I’ve been mulling over “The Ancient Nine” by Ian Smith and I’ve come to this conclusion: perhaps the novel isn’t sure what it wants to be. Does it want to be a book about secret societies at a college campus? A book about religion? Academic research? Romance? Oftentimes it felt that the author was juggling too many threads, making it for a disjointed reading experience.

The novel started strongly enough as the reader is introduced to Spenser Collins, a pre-med basketball player starting out at Harvard University who is punched into the university’s most exclusive all-male members club, the Delphic. He and another student become obsessed with learning more about the dark, troublesome underbelly of the Ancient Nine, a secretive group within the club. It is not your traditional mystery, and possesses many elements of academic research, religion, interesting information about Harvard and its history, even a focus on the sinking of the Titanic, which I particularly enjoyed. Up until the middle half of the book, I was coasting, enjoying the complex mystery tremendously, but I began to skim as I grew closer to the end. There were too many extraneous pages on religion that I thought didn’t add to the story.

A particular thing I didn’t care for was Spenser’s romance with an off-campus student, Ashley Garrett. I didn’t feel like it added anything to the story nor did I believe it when they became serious very suddenly. For me, it was a distraction. To echo another reviewer, I would have enjoyed the novel had it just stuck to the mystery and didn’t make mention of the numerous scenes that objectified women. Granted it was commonplace for the time, taking place in 1988, and let’s be honest, it still is, I would have enjoyed it more had it bucked the trend and not included the boys only mentality and good ol’ boys clubs. I received an advance copy from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for a candid review. The book will be published on September 18th, 2018.

The Storyteller’s Secret

“The Storyteller’s Secret” by Sejal Badani is my last read for the month of August, which seems only fitting since the novel will be available for release on the 1st of September. After suffering three miscarriages, resulting in a separation from her husband Patrick, Jaya heads to India to learn more about the history of her mother’s past. With the aide of Ravi – her grandmother’s former servant and confidant – she learns about her grandmother’s romantic  but devastating past.

The dynamic between Ravi and Amisha, Jaya’s grandmother, was filled with care, compassion, and respect. I particularly enjoyed his dry and sarcastic wit, and the banter that they shared. The writer did a great job depicting India and the culture, Jaya’s heritage. Parts of the novel were sad; it just seemed like Amisha couldn’t catch a break the majority of the time, which was understandable given the social, economic, and political environment of the time. The story is well-written and it certainly left you with a hopeful, positive feeling. However, given some events that occurred in the novel, I would have liked a less uplifting note so to speak, for realism purposes. (I’m sure I’m the only one).

Thank you to Amazon First Reads for allowing me an ARC of this moving novel out on September 1st, 2018 by Lake Union Publishing.

An Anonymous Girl

Perhaps these writers are not for me because as like with “The Wife Between Us,” I did not enjoy this read. On first glance, the premise is intriguing. Jessica Farris, a struggling makeup artist, overhears a conversation during a work session about a morality study where participants will receive $500. The girl originally invited won’t attend so Jessica Farris goes in her place. The questions are invasive covering a span of topics covering honesty, trust, deceit, even murder. Though she is semi-uncomfortable, she continues with the study because she does need the compensation. Soon though, she begins to realize she signed up for more than she bargained for.

I think the writers tried to do too much with the characters and the plot. Oftentimes it felt convoluted, like everything was being thrown at the wall. It didn’t feel cohesive to me. I also grew frustrated with the narration and the character’s voices. There was a stiffness to Dr. Shields and Jessica, for lack of a better word, was rather annoying. It’s hard to become invested in a novel when you can’t get behind a character, even if they’re unlikable. On a final note, one thing that irked me was Dr. Shields’ motivations for the study. I expected something more with depth given all the hoops that Jessica had to run through rather than what was revealed.

The book will be published on January 8th, 2019 by St. Martin’s Press. Many thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for this advanced reading copy.