Tag Archives: New York

The Seven Year Slip by Ashley Poston

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The Seven Year Slip by Ashley Poston

Poston, Ashley. The Seven Year Slip. Berkley, 2023. 352 pp. ISBN 9780593336502 $17.00

*****

What makes this truly a fantasy novel? A fantastic rent-free apartment in NYC! This modern magical realism romance is filled with love of art, travel, books, and food, set alongside a messy on-the-cusp-of-thirty career crisis. Clementine has inherited a magical apartment from her beloved aunt and travel companion. Occasionally, when she enters the apartment, instead of her unpacked boxes, her aunt’s peacock chair is back in it’s corner, and the apartment has slipped seven years into the past. One day when Clementine comes home, there’s a handsome, tattooed, stranger there, the son of her aunt’s friend who was granted use of the apartment while Analea is in Europe with her niece. A dishwasher and aspiring chef who wants to make memories with food in a warm, cozy restaurant of his own one day, Iwan charms Clementine with pie and nickname for her (both lemon).

In the present timeline, Clementine is now a book publicist, potentially up for a promotion that will alter her life–or possibly leave her with NO life apart from her work. She discovers that the celebrity chef author her imprint is trying to acquire is none other than Iwan, but he is greatly greatly changed, going by James and making fussy food that is nearly impossible for home cooks to recreate. James creates a cooking challenge to help narrow down his choice of publishers, and they reconnect. He’s hurt from their relationship, but his past hurt is not in Clementine’s timeline yet, and their reconciliation is delicate as a mereguine.

In addition to the past/present timeline, the mystery shrouding Aunt Analea’s death and the relationship she had that could not withstand a literal test of time is brilliantly juxtaposed with the burgeoning relationship between Clementine and Iwan. Supporting characters are diverse and richly constructed. The narrative is witty, lusciously detailed, warm, raw, honest and unputdownable. I read it TWICE. Truly, every word Ashley Poston writes is luminous. Like The Dead Romantics, The Seven Year Slip involves supernatural elements and lots of poignant longing; the appearance from the protagonists from The Dead Romantics is icing on the cake–or the whipped cream topping a slice of pie.

I received a free, advance reader’s review copy of #TheSevenYearSlip from #NetGalley.

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

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Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Henry, Emily. Book Lovers. Berkley, 2022. 384 pp. ISBN 978-0593440872. $27.00

In this novel brilliantly plotted like a Hallmark holiday movie (without the Christmas), protagonist Nora, a shark-like NYC literary agent, has lost not one but four boyfriends to the trope of “went out of town on business, met a local girl, saved her family’s business instead of destroyed it, had a complete change of morals and heart and breaks up with her.” The most recent dumping coincides with a late lunch meeting with notoriously grumpy editor Charlie, to invite him to edit author Dusty’s latest manuscript. He passes. Their verbal sparring is foreplay, but neither knows it yet.

Fast forward two years, and Libby, Nora’s sister, pregnant with her third child, wants a babymoon with her big sister and drags Nora off the not-so-charming Sunshine Farms for a vacation, complete with an irresistible checklist that includes hiking, horse-petting, makeovers, baking and camping–elements of a grownup, multiple- week- long slumber party. Special items for Nora include dates with not one, but two, hot local men.

One of whom turns out to be a certain book editor, born and raised in Sunshine Falls, running his mom’s bookstore while his dad recovers from a second strokeā€¦ Nora can’t be completely “off” on her vacation, because her best-selling and sensitive author is working on a new novel, featuring a rather bloodthirsty and seemingly irredeemable Cruella DeVil of a film agent whose characterization is hitting a little too close to home for Nora’s taste. When Dusty’s agent goes into labor prematurely, Charlie takes over the book, forcing he and Nora to work together. Meanwhile, Libby is hatching a plot to save the ailing bookshop.

This is a gem of a book from the pacing, the plot, the characters. The voice is pitch perfect. The baggage Nora and Libby need to work through is real and not over the top: their single actress/waitress mom who adored New York and made being broke fun; their dad who abandoned them; Libby’s focus on family and Nora’s on career; their sweet and loving but high stakes sibling relationship which Nora perceives as forcing her into a rescuer role. The subplot of a mini-mystery about what’s going on between Libby and her husband Brendan is a nice little side story.

The banter between Nora and Charlie and Nora and her sister is fun, snarky and just wonderfully written. The attraction between Nora and Charlie is real, palpable and a bit gut wrenching. Motifs are just so beautifully carried through, from Nora and Charlie’s crashing into one another to the analogy of their relationship being like a great book that leaves you with a lingering heartache. NYC and Sunshine Falls are both lovingly rendered in their exquisite gory, run-down, lush and gorgeous details.

I have a stack of ARCS to read, but right now, I’m going to finish the paperback copy of People We Meet on Vacation, because I loved Beach Read, loved Book Lovers, and can’t get enough of Emily Henry right now.

I received an advance reader’s review copy of #BookLovers from #NetGalley.

Two Christmases by Suleena Bibra

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Two Christmases by Suleena Bibra

Bibra, Suleena. Two Christmases. Carina Press & Carina Adores (Harlequin), Carina Press, 2022. pp. ISBN 9780369718792 $4.99

**

While the premise is fun and has Hallmark-movie esque bones, with a native New York auction house employee falling for a southern cowboy client, it was a push to get through. Sonia, who dreams of interior design over the art auction house business, is up for a furniture promotion she isn’t sure she wants, and Beau, looking to outfit the offices of his green business venture to appeal to clients with money, is looking for guidance when they meet and Sonia uses his need to feed her desires. The attraction is strong, they debate over where Christmas is best, the city or country, and she takes him to her favorite haunts, including a 170-stall holiday shopping bazaar, a theatre running Christmas episodes of television shows, multiple Christmas parties and more. Hot chocolate is running through their veins.

They consummate their relationship early and with fairly mechanical precision, little variation or dialogue, and zero of the awkwardness or consent conversations that punctuate real-life encounters. She defines what I’d consider pedestrian as the best sex of her life. He calls her Baby Girl with great affection, which I personally found disturbing. Relationship-phobic Sonia dreads the ease with which they come together and tries to set boundaries–she KNOWS he’s going back home–and fails. His invitation to visit on his turf shouldn’t take her by surprise. She agrees to go and experience a country Christmas.

The writing is disappointingly amatuer. Descriptions are detailed, but not sensory, mostly just visual observations. Indian culture is nicely integrated with names, family dynamics and specific Hindi definitions, references to chai and cookies and Indian soap operas. Adverbs are over(ly) used and the writing it repetitive. Sonia smacks Beau on the ass on their way into the LEGO store, and he –her client–doesn’t react. She insults him throughout the first quarter of the book, calling him variations of “Old MacDonald.” These behaviors are unattractive and rude, and the character is not developed enough and the writing is not good enough to pass it off as flirtation or banter. I pushed through the predictable ending.

I received a free advance reader’s review copy of #TwoChristmases from #NetGalley