Content warning: mention of pedophilia in review of “This May End Badly,” discussions of sexual content in review of “Mistakes Were Made.”
I’ve had a lot of advanced review copies sitting on NetGalley waiting to be reviewed, and I’ve had lots of time to read during spring break, so what better way to get through them all than to make a review compilation for my column? Sometimes, I just need a break from very serious books about generational trauma and cultural confusion, so please enjoy my thoughts on a bunch of books about white people.
“This May End Badly” by Samantha Markum
Thanks to the fact that I live halfway across the country from where I go to college, I’ve had to take a lot of flights lately, and I’ve figured out that the best books for me to read on flights are tropey rom-coms with silly drama. And I can think of no better book to accomplish this task than Samantha Markum’s “This May End Badly.”
In lieu of my usual summary of a book’s plot, please accept this non-exhaustive list of tropes found in this book.
- boarding school setting
- rivals to lovers
- high school prank war
- fake dating
- main character with a secret dark past
- she only calls him by his first name when they get really close
- family drama
- friend drama
- there’s a twist and suddenly things get really serious at the end
Like I said: white people and their drama.
Now, in full transparency, this book is fairly diverse — pretty much all the friends are queer and/or non-white, and the book isn’t all lighthearted all the time. There are some discussions of the lack of trans inclusivity in single-sex schools, as well as a plotline about a predatory teacher.
However, I felt that the heart of the story was on the lighter side. Doe and Wells’ schools are in a century-long prank war, and I loved Doe’s determination to prove her school is better. This is a great book for anyone who just really enjoys a good rivals to lovers story.
“This May End Badly” comes out on April 12, 2022. I received an early copy from the publisher, Wednesday Books, in exchange for an honest review.
“Book Lovers” by Emily Henry
Full disclosure, I read this book a few months ago, also on a flight, but I totally forgot to write a review because I was a) super blown away by how good it was and b) really tired since I’d just been on a flight. So now, here are my delayed thoughts.
I love Emily Henry’s novels about bookish or writerly people falling in love, but “Book Lovers” really takes the cake. Nora Stephens, literary agent extraordinaire, spends the summer in a small town with her sister but keeps on bumping into Charlie Lastra, an editor who she’s had many conflicts with. And then — you know — they fall in love.
But “Book Lovers” is about more than the titular lovers or even the books. Nora has a lot of personal issues to work through because of her quite traumatic upbringing. Honestly, this is probably my favorite part about Emily Henry’s adult romances: inevitably, as the main characters fall in love, they also have their own personal issues to deal with, and it adds another layer of depth to the story.
Nora has been absorbed in her agenting career, always fending for herself, always trying to make ends meet. And she never lets herself wish for more, to dream about doing more of what she loves instead of just what she knows she’s good at. But Charlie helps her realize her true passion.
(It’s still related to books. Just in case you were worried.)
In conclusion: stunning, perfect, love it, I want Emily Henry to write the trajectory of my life.
“Book Lovers” comes out on May 3, 2022. I received an early copy from the publisher, Berkley, in exchange for an honest review.
“Mistakes Were Made” by Meryl Wilsner
I don’t know what possessed my brain to think that requesting a copy of the MILF book was a good idea, but I did it, and I got it a day later, and I read it a couple of days later after that.
Yes, I knew, going into the book, that it was a romance between a college senior and her friend’s mom. And I knew that that there are approximately six to eight sex scenes. And I even knew that some of these sex scenes would take place somewhat in public.
In case you didn’t know: I am aromantic and asexual. While I do read plenty of books with sex scenes in them, I have an upper limit as to how much I can read without getting a little uncomfortable.
And yet, here we are.
Cassie Klein, a senior in college, has an earth-shatteringly good hookup on Parents Weekend with a hot older woman she met in a bar. Come to find out the next day, her hookup was Erin Bennett, her best friend’s roommate’s mother. They’re happy to keep this a one night stand, but as the year goes on, Cassie and Erin can’t seem to stop talking to each other. (Among other things.)
I don’t even know what to say about this book. It was actually incredible. Meryl Wilsner is a fantastic writer, and I applaud their ability to write an entertaining story with a forbidden romance that was not based in racism or homophobia. Pretty much the entire plot hinges on Cassie and Erin trying to keep their relationship a secret from Erin’s daughter, but somehow, it works.
It’s a little ridiculous. It’s very, (very, very) raunchy. It is unabashedly bisexual. As a college student myself, yeah, it was really weird for me to think about someone my age hooking up with and dating a person in their late thirties. But somehow, against all odds, it worked.
“Mistakes Were Made” comes out on Oct. 11, 2022. I received an early copy from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.
“In the Event of Love” by Courtney Kae
Listen. I am not particularly in tune with Hallmark’s Christmas catalog, but I’m fairly sure that “In the Event of Love” would fit right in with them.
Courtney Kae’s debut tells the story of event planner Morgan Ross, who goes back to the small mountain town where she grew up to take a break from work after a tabloid disaster. And who else does she run into but her high school crush, Rachel? And when Morgan discovers that Rachel’s family tree farm is about to be bought up by a big corporation, she makes it her mission to save the farm.
So, you know, a pretty standard tropey Christmas romcom, but make it sapphic. Morgan and Rachel are both openly bi, and their town is wholly accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. Which I absolutely loved. Sometimes, you just really need to escape into a world where homophobia doesn’t exist.
Kae is a fantastic writer, perfectly capturing the voice of a high-strung woman in her mid-twenties who occasionally makes terrible decisions. I love Morgan and Rachel so much. Their banter is fantastic, their love for each other permeates the pages and their chemistry is just … *chef’s kiss.*
Also, this book was surprisingly steamy, but after the MILF book, I can honestly read anything.
“In the Event of Love” comes out on Aug. 30, 2022. I received an early copy from the publisher, Kensington, in exchange for an honest review.