The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary – An Unconventional Lesson in Flirty Note Writing

Text: The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary

Blurb:

Tiffy and Leon share an apartment. Tiffy and Leon have never met.

After a bad breakup, Tiffy Moore needs a place to live. Fast. And cheap. But the apartments in her budget have her wondering if astonishingly colored mold on the walls counts as art.

Desperation makes her open minded, so she answers an ad for a flatshare. Leon, a night shift worker, will take the apartment during the day, and Tiffy can have it nights and weekends. He’ll only ever be there when she’s at the office. In fact, they’ll never even have to meet.

Tiffy and Leon start writing each other notes – first about what day is garbage day, and politely establishing what leftovers are up for grabs, and the evergreen question of whether the toilet seat should stay up or down. Even though they are opposites, they soon become friends. And then maybe more.

But falling in love with your roommate is probably a terrible idea…especially if you’ve never met.

Joce’s review:

I was first introduced to THE FLATSHARE when I saw someone ask on Twitter for the title of a novel they’d heard of in which two roommates who share a house at opposite times write notes to each other without seeing each other for a long time and eventually fall in love. That truly sounded like the most ingenious idea for a book so off I went to look for it! Tiffy, who is an assistant editor at a publisher of DIY crafting books, answers an ad that Leon, a night nurse at a hospice, puts in the newspaper, asking for a roommate who would occupy his apartment at night when he works his shifts. 

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Moonstruck, Volume 1: Magic to Brew by Grace Ellis and Shae Beagle – Cute But Somewhat Confusing

Text: Moonstruck by Grace Ellis, Shae Beagle. Image: A brown girl with dark brown natural hair and a light brown skin with blonde hair, sitting across from each other.

Blurb:

In the little college town of Blitheton, fantasy creatures live cozy, normal lives right alongside humans, and werewolf barista Julie strives to be the most normal of all. But all heck breaks loose when she and her new girlfriend Selena go on a disastrous first date that ends with a magician casting a horrible spell on their friend Chet. Now it’s up to the team of mythical pals to stop the illicit illusionist before it’s too late!

Joce’s review:

The first volume of MOONSTRUCK is divided into five different issues, focusing on the main character, Julie, who is a werewolf and plus-sized Latinx woman. She is in a relationship with Selena, who is a werewolf and Black woman. Julie is a barista at the Black Cat Cafe in a small college town where she works with her best friend Chet. Chet’s gender identity is never explicitly stated, but they use they/them pronouns, and at one point, a male character and Chet show romantic interest in one another. Throughout the story, we meet different creatures, animals, and spirits who live in Blitheton, including Dorian the magician, whose magic show Julie and Selena go to for their first date and who casts a spell on Chet.

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Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston – The 2020 Presidency We All Need

Text: Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. Image: on the left, a man with light-brown skin with brown hair, wearing a white shirt and blue slacks crossing his arms and leaning to his right; on the right, a white man with light brown hair, wearing a red and royal military uniform, and black slacks, crossing his arms and leaning to the left.
Blurb:

What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius―his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instagramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic.

Joce’s Review:

RED, WHITE, AND ROYAL BLUE takes place in a United States, where, following Obama’s presidency, Ellen Claremont, a Democrat and a woman, has been elected to be president and is running for a second term in 2020. The First Son of the United States, Alex Claremont-Diaz, is forced to spend time with Prince Henry of England for reparations’ sake after a very public disaster of epic proportions worth $75,000 in cake and frosting, and a romance blossoms.

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The Bride Test by Helen Hoang – I cried. I laughed. I will definitely re-read.

Text: The Bride Test, a novel, Helen Hoang. Image: An illustration of a woman holding a pencil, completing pencils.

One evening around dinner time at the Pond, Xiaolong smelled a rich, delectable aroma of something slightly tangy and warm.

“Mmm,” she mused, “I wonder what’s cooking. It sure smells great!”

Cuddle the otter, wearing a pajama cap, is holding a ladle with a pot of orange-coloured soup in front of her.She wandered in the direction of the scent to find Cuddle huddled over the fire with a ladle in her paw, stirring what looked to be an orange colored soup filled with noodles, sprouts, and various meats. The steam wafted up from the pot towards Cuddle’s face as Party sat peacefully on a log behind her, awaiting dinner.

“Oh, hi, Xiaolong, come over here! I looked up the recipe for an authentic Bún bò Huế. After I read THE BRIDE TEST, I couldn’t stop thinking about this soup. I had all this fish sauce saved up and reading that scene where Esme used it in her recipe made me want to try to make it myself. Taste it. I hope it’s good!” Cuddle shifted nervously from side to side.

“We just had fish snacks the other day, remember? I loved them!” said Xiaolong.

“No, Silly, fish sauce! Not fish snacks!” giggled Cuddle.

Party the stuffed otter, sitting up right with a bowl of soup in front of her.She scooped Bún bò Huế into three bowls: two big and one small, added lime slices, and carried them carefully over to a tree stump by the log where Party was perched.

“Speaking of THE BRIDE TEST, I loved it so much. Let me tell you more…”

Blurb:

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

Joce’s Review:

THE BRIDE TEST opens in Ho Chi Minh City, where Khai Diep’s mother, Cô Nga, takes Trấn Ngọc Mỹ, or Esme, by surprise, and propositions her with the opportunity to move to the Bay Area of California to date her son, in hopes of them one day marrying. Esme is not well off and lives in poverty, so with the hopes of securing a better life for herself and her daughter, she agrees and moves in with Khai, attempting to seduce him. Their story is romantic, exploratory, and well-rounded.

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Internment by Samira Ahmed – Incisive, Deliberate, and Unforgettable

Text: Internment, Samira Ahmed. Image: A brown girl wearing a black cap with the word 'RESIST', her face partially concealed by her long hair. An illustration of a barbed wire stone fence is imposed on her shirt
Blurb:

Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.

With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.

Joce’s Review:

Samira Ahmed’s INTERNMENT is both dystopian and contemporary, transporting readers into a terrifying alternate reality. One day, suddenly, Layla Amin’s home is stormed and her family is forcibly removed and placed in an internment camp for Muslim-American citizens. There, she forms friendships and alliances in a rebellion, hopeful for freedom. With each act of resistance against the Director and his guards, Layla and her companions become more calculated but also more frantic. They struggle to balance hope with powerlessness, two hugely polarized extremes. No one knows who to trust, and all dialogue feels tense.

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