Friday, September 21, 2018

In Bed With The Beast by Tara Sivec

In Bed With The Beast by Tara Sivec
Release Date - June 5, 2018
Publisher Website - Swerve
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  304 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5

**Spoilers for At The Stroke Of Midnight**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
A tale as old as time: she needs a place to stay, he's a grump with a secret and an extra room...can love find a way?

Meet the Naughty Princess Club, a series from USA Today bestselling author Tara Sivec that brings readers to Fairytale Lane and the hilarity—and romance—that three women fall into once they decide to strut their stuff and bring on their own happily ever after.

Living in her overprotective dad’s basement, shy Belle lives her life through books. Being a part of the Naughty Princess Club is the first adventure she’s ever had, plus she desperately needs the money to save one of her favorite places - the local library.

But when her new friends and new business gets her kicked out of her dad’s house, Belle is rescued by the surly Vincent “Beast” Adams who invites her to be his house guest until she gets back on her feet. Despite his attitude problem and long list of rules, Belle finds herself warming to the muscled man with a penchant for growling and starts seeing a gentle side to him that wasn’t there before.

Yet there’s a room that Beast keeps locked and Belle keeps getting hints that Beast is hiding something…can a nerdy librarian tame the beast or will their romance be over before it has a chance to blossom?
The Naughty Princess Club series started with a Cinderella themed romance that puts a little spice on the classic tales we know. The series continues with a Beauty and the Beast inspired tale that paid tribute to the source material while putting its own delightful spin on it.

A story that pairs iconic princesses with a strip club immediately caught my interest. The three ladies behind the Naughty Princess Club won me over in the first book in the series and only continued to do so with the second. The friendship that exists between these women is my favourite part of this story. They are supportive of one another and they give each other the strength to face the hard things that come up. I wish the friendship had even more of a focus because I think the scenes with just the women are some of the best in the novel.

Belle, like many 'beauties' before her is a bookworm whose quiet exterior hides a fierce and capable young woman. This Belle, like those before her, doesn't allow herself to be treated like a doormat. She stands up for herself, others, and what she deems right. She is not afraid to stand up to Vincent and it makes the spark between them feel a little more real.

Vincent is a man of little words. Less is more when it comes to conversation and dealing with people. Underneath that tough, scary exterior is a decent guy who has some secrets that he is hiding. He will probably remind those familiar with romance tropes of the classic alpha love interest. He is protective, broody, and often infuriating. His character really worked for me because of the story being told. He works because he is a stand in for the 'beast' in our story. He is meant to be portrayed this way. He, however, is not typically the romance hero I go for. I found myself warming up to him by the end though.

Fans of the classic tale this is inspired from will delight in the inclusions found within these pages. There are some great puns and word plays that made me chuckle as I realized their significance. I found this book, even more than the first in this series, weaves these inclusions seamlessly. The references only add to the charm of this story and they are the right ones to be using. They build a feeling of connection with the story without overpowering the elements that make this one something all its own. Characters that are iconic to the classic tale show up in unexpected way, and items that are linked to this love story show up in really fun ways.

The romance itself is, unsurprisingly, one that is built as Belle and Vincent get to know each other. The way Belle ends up living with Vincent is rather fun and makes for a slightly less sad version of the story. Belle's father 'giving' her to the beast never sat right with me and so I appreciate any twist on that element of the story. The romance morphs from sexual attraction to something deeper as their mutual appreciation of each other grows. As a result the romance didn't feel rushed to me.

If you're looking for an easy binge ready read I highly recommend this series. They are light, fluffy fun that will certainly work as a great follow up to a heavier read. Tara Sivec puts a new twist on stories that have been told again and again in a way that worked for me.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Waiting On Wednesday ... Red, White, and Royal Blue

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pick is Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him. 

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you? 
I read the synopsis for this and knew immediately that I needed to read it. It mixes my love of books about royalty with a romance that sounds amazing.

Just read that synopsis and not fall in love with the idea of the book instantly. I am so excited to meet Alex and Henry!

The wait for this one is going to be long but entirely worth it I expect. You can expect the one to hit bookstores at the beginning of next summer (just in time for pool reading season).
Expected release date - June 4, 2019

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A Glass Of Wine Recaps - AHS: Apocalypse

** Spoiler Warning** This season is a crossover of seasons one and three (Murder House and Coven) so expect spoilers for both those seasons as well as the episode being discussed.

American Horror Story: Apocalypse starts with both an ending and a beginning. The end of the world as we know it and the beginning of a new kind of existence for those who survive. This season promised the end of the world and that is exactly what the opening minutes deliver. The end is not brought upon by some supernatural means as one might expect with a show like this. No, it instead is caused by something much more mundane: nuclear missiles and people willing to use them. It seems like a nuclear war is the most likely culprit even thought it is never explicitly said.

The main setting for this season is Outpost Three. A bunker like facility that our survivors find themselves at. It's ran by The Cooperative, a shady group that we know next to nothing about. The setting feels a little claustrophobic, even as the sets feel huge, and tense in the best possible way. 

Our survivors include Coco St. Pierre Vanderbilt (Leslie Grossman), a Real Housewives-ish character who, when we meet her, wants nothing more than to be an 'Instagram influencer'. There is also a talented hair stylist (whom I already love) named Mr Gallant (Evan Peters). There is Coco's long suffering assistant Mallory (Billie Lourde) who could not possibly hate her job more.

We are introduced to this group at Mr Gallant's hair salon. He is, naturally, styling Coco's hair. Coco's assistant is trying to get her to take pictures drinking some gross cold juice press and Coco is totally not having it. Mr Gallant does not think much of Mallory's skills either and hints that she totally should be fired. He's amazing and perfect and Evan Peters is having a BLAST playing this role.

Things quickly take a dark turn as sirens start to go off and emergency notifications start coming in detailing the imminent arrival of missiles. Coco's father calls to say a quick goodbye and tell her that she can still make it out. He purchased four spots on a plane leaving Santa Monica and she is the only one of her family that still has time to make it.

The panic is palpable as Coco and Mallory rush outside and into a waiting car to whisk them to the airport. People are freaking out, news reporters are detailing the chaos that is happening all over the world. Hong Kong, London, and various other cities have been destroyed by nuclear missiles. The effect is pretty chilling. 

Coco has a husband/boyfriend (not sure of his exact status) named Brock (Billy Eichner) whom she calls and implores to meet her at the airport so he can take one of the four spots available. She loves him and doesn't want to go without him. We don't need to worry much about him because he won't be around long, sadly. Coco also convinces Mallory to take one of the four spots instead of going home. 

Mr Gallant decides to rush home to his get his Grandmother Evie (Joan Collins). He quickly tells her that the warnings are real and that missiles are coming. She quips that 'so is global warming' and that it is probably 'fake news'. People will obviously love how ridiculous she is. Mr Gallant rushes them both to the airport in an attempt to take two of the four spots on the plane. Coco is not impressed because Brock is so totally going to be there (except not at all) so there isn't enough room. Mr Gallant points out the obvious: Brock will never be able make it and seals his spot on the plane by reminding her of his usefulness with her hair. 

People, obviously, come to hijack the plane for themselves. Coco basically breaks up with Brock over the phone (ouch) as she is rushed into the plane by her body guard (who is killed for his trouble). Brock is understandably pissed to be left behind but the plane takes off without him anyway. Goodbye, Billy Eichner. 

Elsewhere we meet the Campbell family who provide another one of our survivors. Timothy Campbell (newcomer Kyle Allen) is a teen who is eagerly awaiting news of his college acceptance. He is celebrating his acceptance to UCLA with his family when the alerts start to come in. Their panic is interrupted by government officials storming into their home. They want to take Timothy because his genetics make him an idea candidate for some secret program. Nobody else in the family is allowed to come.Timothy's father wants him to go because it is the only way for him to survive but his mother is not having it. She wants to spend her final moments together as a family. Timothy is eventually taken and brought to a holding facility where he meets Emily (Ashley Santos), a girl about his age, who has also been selected to survive because of her genetics. This totally has to be a 'repopulate the earth' deal, right? As they begin to compare notes we find out that Emily was in jail before she was brought to the facility. The blast happens which shakes the holding cell they are in (which seems to be underground) and Timothy begins to sob as he realizes his entire family is dead.

Two weeks later, Timothy and Emily are finally transported to Outpost Three. They are made to put in hazmat suits to walk from the truck to their new home. Their introduction to this new home is an unsettling one.They view two people getting shot along the path they take to the main door. It may be safe, but they could also shoot you apparently.

Outpost Three was once an exclusive school for boys but is now one of the few remaining outposts still standing. We are introduced to another of our survivors,  Wilhemina Venable (Sarah Paulson). She is in charge but really answers to The Cooperative (shady group who controls the fallout shelters). Each person in the outpost is assigned one of two colours: purple or grey. Purples are the elite. Those chosen to survive. Greys are those who serve the elite and are thankful for such an opportunity. 

The rules of the outpost are plentiful and mostly ridiculous (though some are just common sense). Some of these rules include:

1. Refer to her as Ms Venable
2. Do not go outside (radiation, duh)
3. Dress for dinner
4. No unauthorized sexytimes (no exceptions)

Breaking these rules will result in consequences which can range from being tossed outside the walls with the rest of the puss filled, cancer ridden people there or getting shot in the head. My interest was piqued by the mention of these 'puss filled, cancer ridden' survivors. Could we possibly be dealing with zombies? Is this a zombie apocalypse?!

Our arrival at Outpost Three introduces us to some more survivors. There is Andre and Stu, a gay couple (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman and Chad James Buchanan) who we barely learn anything about, Dinah Stevens (Adina Porter) an Oprah Winfrey like former talk show host, and Miriam Mead (Kathy Bates) who is Ms Venable's right hand woman. 

The group that we are following is mostly made up of 'purples' with them either being rich enough to buy a spot, or chosen for survival because of their DNA. The only 'grey' of note is Mallory. 

Life at Outpost Three is, as you would expect, really boring. The food is beige cubes that are packed with the required vitamins, proteins, and other nutrition bodies need. There is no hydro, no TVs, or other modern technology. There are some books and a radio that plays the same song over and over. It is the definition of monotonous. This feeling is something that is captured very well. Timothy and Emily are the new people and therefore big news. Naturally our group of survivors begins to get a bit of cabin fever and does not react well to the conditions they are living in. Mr Gallant, in particular, is unimpressed. He would very much like to die. Coco is hangry all of the time. Food seems to be the biggest disappointment among the group. Ms Venable advises they have eighteen months of beige cubes and that things will get worse food wise if their situation doesn't change. Turns out that those who did survive the blast turned to killing each other for food, and the governments all but fell apart. It's chaos basically, so they can't expect anyone but The Cooperative to help them.

The first hint of something supernatural comes with our first shower scene. Timothy is cleaning up for dinner and exits the shower to find 666 on the bathroom mirror and a voice whispering 'beware'. That's real great, spirit. Beware of what exactly? Unfortunately for Timothy my guess is that it is referring to pretty much EVERYTHING. 

At dinner one night they discover that someone has gone outside and brought radiation contamination back into the shelter. Mr Gallant and Stu are singled out and taken to the washing stations. After being scrubbed clean only Stu is determined to still have radiation on him. Stu is immediately killed by being shot in the head for his trespass (remember those rules). Andre is upset at the loss of his lover and Mr Gallant is probably traumatized from having to witness it.

We quickly learn that Ms Venable and Miriam have decided go against the orders of The Cooperative and terrorize the people living in Outpost Three. They faked the entire radiation scare to get away with killing Stu. They make use of Stu's death by offering up a stew for dinner that is made from Stu's body. Yup, you read that right ...

Beyond gross and cruel. Coco demands Mallory come and stick her finger down her throat. Only Evie Gallant decides to keep eating. Ms Venable and Miriam deny it and say it is chicken (why is there is freaking TOOTH?!). Andre demands to see Stu's body. The others point out, perhaps to reassure themselves as well, that Stu was contaminated so it makes no sense that they would be fed tainted meat. Good point, except we know Stu wasn't actually radioactive.

The song on the radio switches to a hopeful tune about morning afters which prompts Mr Gallant to dramatically sing and swear the songs are messages from The Cooperative and they are about to saved. However, we learn eighteen more months pass with the same song playing and nothing else changing either. Mr Gallant is beyond done. He has stopped styling Coco's hair and even suggests eating someone. Timothy and Emily have begun carrying on a very tame, but I bet still forbidden, affair. They've limited themselves to one kiss each week (which keeps them from unraveling like the rest of the survivors). It's cute and chaste and I bet they get in trouble for it eventually.

Just as Mr Gallant is snapping and causing quite the scene (including threatening Dinah with a fork in the neck for spouting some Oprah like wisdom about being strong) there is an alert of a breach. A carriage driven by gas mask wearing horses is approaching. It's majestic and darkly beautiful. The driver (who is in a tricked out hazmat suit) demands to speak with Ms Venable and flashes the following identification.

He also tells those around to 'tend to the animals' which means shooting them (they are contaminated after all) and giving them to what seems to be an unseen entity in the woods. Eeeep!

The name on the id should be VERY familiar to fans of the show. Yup, he is THAT Michael Langdon. As in this adorable little Antichrist from the first season of American Horror Story (aka Murder House). The son of Vivien Harmon and Tate Langdon:

He's all grown up now and is pretty much the hottest Antichrist ever. Michael inquires who is in charge and replies a biting 'of course you are' when Ms Venable states that she is. Michael is sassy. He tells her that is impressive that this outpost has survived. Three others have been overran and the other three won't last the year. Turns out that Michael is from The Cooperative (see the id) and he brings news of a sanctuary filled with supplies. Miss Venable is enthused by this news and inquires if he is there to transport them. Michael, however, is there for an entirely different reason.

Survival won't be that easy. Michael gets to decide who goes to this post apocalyptic paradise. It could be all of them or it could just as easily be none of them. Those who make the cut get to live and those who don't end up like Michael's horses (this is informed with the slyest of smiles from Michael).

I love Michael already. We last saw him taking delight in the fact that he had just killed his babysitter so I am curious to find out what has happened to him in the years since. Antichrists apparently age rapidly outside the womb as well since it has been roughly seven years since he was born (if my math is correct).

Ryan Murphy provided the tweet of the night with this gem:
He certainly does have Vivien's flowing locks and Tate's blue eyes. This casting is pretty spot on because I totally buy him as the grown version of the tyke we met at the end of Murder House. Side note - any bets on how quickly Mr Gallant cuts that hair? I bet it happens pretty quickly.

This is, in my opinion, one of the strongest premieres since the first season. There is something about this premise that just seems to click. I am curious about how Michael ties into The Cooperative and what their ultimate goal is. I am curious about this 'sanctuary' location Michael claims exists. It's probably under the Harmon's house right? It's totally got to be under the murder house. I am also counting down the episodes until all our fan favourites make their appearance. I am wondering if the witches are going to have to turn back time and prevent the apocalypse from ever happening (hence the hourglass used so heavily in the marketing)?! So much to speculate upon.

See you next week where we'll discuss episode two. Until then -  be sure to follow Outpost Three's rules. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Weekly Obsessions

The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday.


Cover of Meet Cute by Helena Hunting (goodreads)

I saw this cover pop up on my Twitter feed and instantly loved it. It's cute, bright, and looks perfect for a rom-com style read.

I looked at the synopsis and it sounds like it has the potential to be just as cute as the cover advertises.


The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Teaser 

I've been so excited about this new version of Sabrina since it was first announced. It's a darker, more horror infused version that will be releasing on Netflix just before Halloween. This trailer has left me with nothing but excitement.

Harvey and Sabrina look adorable. That demon thing looks straight up terrifying and I am so excited to meet Sabrina's Aunts in this one! Who knew that the Happy Birthday song could sound terrifying?!

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Poster Art

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina promo is in full swing because along with that spooky trailer this poster art was revealed. It matches the teaser that was released and sets the tone of the show perfectly.

I love the 'Happy Birthday, Witch' tagline! The menacing demon (that is what I am guessing this thing is) behind her! The candles that look ominous!  it is all working. I cannot wait for this to release on October 26th. I plan to binge it immediately.

What are you obsessed with this week? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Josh and Hazel's Guide To Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Josh and Hazel's Guide To Not Dating by Christina Lauren
Release Date - September 4, 2018
Publisher Website - Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  309 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?
I've sang the praises of many of the books by Christina Lauren. They consistently offer up romance novels that read like drinking champagne. They have bubbly, fizzy quality to them that feels effortless when you are reading them. Josh and Hazel's Guide To Not Dating is no exception to this. They've once again offered up an incredibly enjoyable read that will leave you smiling.

Hazel is the type of girl who dances like nobody is watching. She is whimsical and quirky. She would almost be a manic pixie dream girl if Christina Lauren hadn't infused her with so much more than these surface observations. She is acutely aware, mostly because it is what she's been told before, that she is A LOT to handle but refreshingly refuses to change. She likes who she is and that makes her someone you immediately love. Hazel is the kind of friend that is the life of the party but also the shoulder to cry on when you need it. She is much more complex than you might think based on the surface and that is exactly what her character works.

Josh Im is your standard romance novel love interest. He's kind, caring, patient, and entirely charmed by Hazel. I found Hazel much more interesting than Josh but he balances her in a way that makes their romance feel inevitable. I appreciated the focus his family bond had within the story. It is a part of his upbringing and culture and it just seemed to fit his character. He radiates goodness and that is hard not to love.

The friendship first element of the romance is something that always works for me, but especially works well here. They slowly fall in love with each other as the story progresses even if there was an instant spark there. Josh's steadiness and Hazel's playfulness just combine into this really sweet connection. It's one of my favourite relationships that Christina Lauren has written.

This book is, in my opinion, one of the more humour filled books that Christina Lauren has written. The disastrous double dates are not only a great way to inject some humour into the story but they also, perhaps surprisingly, deepen the romance being told.

Many people expect a Christina Lauren book to have some pretty sexy scenes. Those are found within the pages of these novel, but it also feels pretty restrained. It is more in line with Roomies where the story has the heavier focus than the sex scenes that do pop up. I think there is a really good balance to this story as a result.

If you're looking for a charming friends to more romance I highly recommend this one. It's got all of the elements that a romance reader could want and more. I, as always, eagerly anticipate whatever Christina Lauren writes next and whatever new couple they are going to make us love next.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Waiting On Wednesday ... King Of Fools

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pick is King Of Fools by Amanda Foody

**Spoilers For Ace Of Shades**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
Indulge your vices in the City of Sin, where a sinister street war is brewing and fame is the deadliest killer of them all...

On the quest to find her missing mother, prim and proper Enne Salta became reluctant allies with Levi Glaisyer, the city’s most famous con man. Saving his life in the Shadow Game forced Enne to assume the identity of Seance, a mysterious underworld figure. Now, with the Chancellor of the Republic dead and bounties on both their heads, she and Levi must play a dangerous game of crime and politics…with the very fate of New Reynes at stake.

Thirsting for his freedom and the chance to build an empire, Levi enters an unlikely partnership with Vianca Augustine’s estranged son. Meanwhile, Enne remains trapped by the mafia donna’s binding oath, playing the roles of both darling lady and cunning street lord, unsure which side of herself reflects the truth.

As Enne and Levi walk a path of unimaginable wealth and opportunity, new relationships and deadly secrets could quickly lead them into ruin. And when unforeseen players enter the game, they must each make an impossible choice: To sacrifice everything they’ve earned in order to survive...

Or die as legends.
Ace of Shades, the first book in The Shadow Game series, was so much fun that I was eagerly anticipating anything relating to the sequel.

The synopsis and cover of the second book as been released and I am even more excited to read it. I am looking forward to Levi and Enne's continuing relationship. I am also looking forward to diving further into the seductive city that is New Reynes.

The next book may not come out until April of 2019 but that just everyone time to devour the first book and join me in waiting for what is sure to be an amazing sequel.

Expected release date - April 30, 2019

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle
Release Date - September 11, 2018
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  288 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
For fans of Me Before You and ONE DAY comes a wondrous novel of first love, loss, and the dinner of a lifetime.

When Sabrina Nielsen arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also her favorite professor from college, her father, her ex-fiance, Tobias, and Audrey Hepburn.

At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen? These are the questions Sabrina contends with in Rebecca Serle’s utterly captivating novel, The Dinner List, a story imbued with the same delightful magical realism as Sliding Doors, and The Rosie Project.

As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together, and as Rebecca Serle masterfully traces Sabrina’s love affair with Tobias and her coming of age in New York City, The Dinner List grapples with the definition of romance, the expectations of love, and how we navigate our way through it to happiness. Oh, and of course, wisdom from Audrey Hepburn. 

Delicious but never indulgent, sweet with just the right amount of bitter, The Dinner List is a modern romance for our times. Bon appetit.
Plenty of us have often wondered who we would invite to our dream dinner. You know the question, the one that ask what five people living or dead that you would want to have at a dinner party. The Dinner List takes this premise and adds a extra dash of something special to create a whimsical feeling read that packs a lot of emotional heft.

Rebecca Serle is known for her young adult novels. The Dinner List presents her first foray into the world of adult fiction. I believe that adult novels may end up being an even better fit for her as The Dinner List completely captivated me. You get a sense of ease and comfort within the genre that worked its way into all of the other elements of the story. I am hopeful we'll get more adult reads from her as I truly think she shines in this one.

There is an ethereal, magical quality to not just the writing but the book itself. Part of this is the inclusion of Audrey Hepburn at this birthday dinner that is being thrown. A certain amount of disbelief has to be suspended to fall into this story. Give yourself over to the story being told and you'll be richly rewarded. This inclusion of Audrey doesn't feel jarring in the slightest, but rather adds to the atmosphere and tone. All of the characters included in the dinner are there for a reason and so much of that ties into the feeling that is captured within the pages. There is an effervescence that is only matched by the sorrow that is also found  here. It ends up capturing the feeling of something real that also feels magical.

Sabrina is imperfect and I adore that about her character. She's messy and flawed in a way that feels realistic. This bleeds into the relationships she has with the other characters. They are messy in the way that real relationships are. They are not always easy and people hurt one another. The real beauty of both Sabrina as a character and this book is that it reminds you to bask in all of the moments. Those that are good and bad along with everything in between.

The remainder of the guests are not something I will spoil. Part of the charm of this book is discovering things along the way and that means allowing them to happen at the exact time they are meant to. Every single character is there for a reason and many of the characters are not just there to flesh out Sabrina's story arc. There are those that require their own closure, or have their own journeys to take during the course of this dinner and that made them feel more developed. Having characters that are not just there for the benefit of the main character is key and Rebecca Serle captures that here.

There is a major plot point that makes up what is the heart of this novel that is impossible to discuss without getting into spoiler territory. It also feels incomplete to discuss this novel without mentioning it. I've decided to include some spoilery thoughts under a tag so that those who have not read this wonderful novel yet won't be spoiled. This reveal is perfectly timed and stole my breath for a moment so please do not ruin it for yourself.

Those who love beautifully written, engrossing reads that leave you emotionally exhausted but full at the same time will want to pick this one up immediately. It's a perfect blend of whimsy, heart, and that undefinable thing that makes something unforgettable.

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