I decided to review the #COYER book club reads together in one post. These were our February picks and I both were okay for me. I don’t think I was necessarily in the right mindset, but I did enjoy both of them.Beach Read by Emily Henry
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Published by Penguin Audio on May 19, 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 10 hours and 13 minutes
A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.
Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.
They're polar opposites.
In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they're living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer's block.
Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She'll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he'll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.
I always seem to enjoy books about writers… perhaps because I dream of living that life someday? Beyond that, there was lots to love about this sweet second-chance (kinda enemies-to-lovers) romance.
I think what I enjoyed most about Beach Read was the internal growth of January Andrews as she grapples with what love means. Someone she loves deeply has altered the very foundation of how she looks at romantic love. Meanwhile, she’s a romance author with a book due. How do you write contemporary romance when your heart is broken and you don’t know if you even believe in love anymore? Watching January grapple with that, while watching her fall in love with her neighbor, former classmate, and “rival” author (they don’t write the same genre) – whom she thought hated her and thus, she kinda hates- was sweet. Gus (Augustus) comes with his own issues and peeling his layers is also really enjoyable.
That being said, this wasn’t a profound – blow me away story. It was exactly what I expect of a contemporary romance. Sweet, with some emotional moments, and a HEA.
The narration by Julia Whelan made racing through it just 1 hour before my library ended both enjoyable and possible. I don’t think I’ve listened to her narration before, but I wouldn’t hesitate to listen to her again. It was quite a treat.
Narrator: Ali Ahn
Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1
Published by Recorded Books on January 14, 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Length: 8 hours and 44 minutes
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?
Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.
What kind of ending was that?! OMG you can’t end a romance that way! I’m just going to come right out and warn you – you don’t get your HEA…. I assume it’s coming in future books.
Ok now that I got that out of the way, I was wishy-washy about this book. If it weren’t a book club read I might have put it down at about the 20% mark. But it wasn’t bad – I just wasn’t gripped – so I continued. And I am glad I did. The characters are sweet and endearing. Watching them learn lessons about growing up and facing responsibility was wholesome.
There’s this one “mystery” element that I was pretty certain of from the get-go and kinda forgot about… but when it was revealed I was right. In fact, it was very predictable – I knew what was coming at pretty much every turn. Again, not because it was bad, but because it felt like a combination of stories I know really well. I felt a little bit of Little Women in it, for example.
I feel like it seems like I didn’t like the book – but truth is it was okay. I enjoyed the culture references and the family element – 3 sisters whose mom passed away – was really strong. If it had ended with my HEA I probably would stop with this book. Now… IDK I might read the next one to see how it plays out.
I did listen to this and the narration by Laura Knight Keating was good. I could have sworn I’ve listened to her before, but I’m not seeing a match, so maybe not. She did good with the voices and listening at 2x felt perfect.