Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

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“Always it was the same, Furlong thought; always they carried mechanically on, without pause, to the next job at hand. What would life be like, he wondered, if they were given time to think and to reflect over things? Might their lives be different or much the same – or would they just lose the run of themselves?”

A gentle, moving novella about the small moments that make up a life, and that have the power to change it as well. I enjoyed this, but I can’t say much more than that. It’s the kind of story you read, and enjoy while you’re reading, but not really the kind of story you’re likely to think about after you’ve finished it. I found this forgettable, yes, but that doesn’t mean that that will be the case for you too. I’d still recommend this, and I will definitely read whatever Claire Keegan comes out with next.

Thanks so much to Grove Press for providing me with an e-ARC of this in exchange for an honest review!

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

I think my biggest impression of this novel is just how full of love it is. Casey McQuiston poured their heart and soul into this story and it really shows. 💖💖💖💖

Casey McQuiston is just so good at creating a sense of community. Of course the romance is great–Jane is such a charismatic character, it’s virtually impossible not to love her as much as August does–but the side characters bring so much life and vitality to this novel. It’s testament to how well McQuiston develops them that you become as invested in them as you are in the main characters. Also, where I found Red, White and Royal Blue too plot-heavy for my taste, I thought One Last Stop had just the right amount of plot: just enough to give the story momentum, but not so much that it detracted from the romance.

I loved this a lot, and I’m sure a lot of people will, because it’s just really, really good.

Thanks so much to Macmillan Audio for providing me with an audiobook ARC of this in exchange for an honest review!

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So last month uni started again (online classes!) and my brain, for obvious reasons, could not handle reading anything because my schoolwork left it with zero processing power to spare. I’d sit down to read and my brain would just be like ” . . . . . . ” and then I’d be like ok i guess we’re not reading anything today… BUT THEN–but then I read Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert and it Changed Everything. I’ve always dabbled in the romance genre by reading the occasional romance here and there but had never really properly delved into it. But I LOVED Get a Life, Chloe Brown SO MUCH and after finishing it I was like I CAN’T BELIEVE I’VE BEEN MISSING OUT ON THIS FOR MY WHOLE READING LIFE. So then I of course added Talia Hibbert’s entire body of work to my TBR, read a lot of it, and then moved on to explore a bunch more romances as well.

Here are the romances that I’ve read last month:

– Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert (4 stars)
– Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert (4 stars)
Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert (my favourite of the three; I ADORED this one) (4.5 stars)
You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle (4 stars) (this was TOP TIER romance)

THE NON-FAVOURITES (for lack of a better term)
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (3.5 stars)
– Damaged Goods by Talia Hibbert (3.5 stars)
A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert (3.5 stars)
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang (2 stars)
The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams (2 stars)

That being said, I wanted to write this post and talk about some of the joys of reading romance, because it’s just such a joyful genre. there are so many things I loved–and continue to love–about romances and I wanted to use this post as a way to kind of think about what makes them so compelling to me (though I’m sure I’m not the first one to talk about this).

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#1: fast to read

romances go by SO QUICKLY. when I knew my next read was gonna be a romance I’d start reading at like 6pm knowing that I would 100% have finished the book by midnight. even if the romance I was reading was on the longer side, I would still just read it all in one go. because romances aren’t just fast to read, they’re also such COMPULSIVE reads. you kind of know what plot beats to expect (characters meet, spend time, start to like each other, etc.) that you just can’t wait to get to them and see how they’re gonna unfold. so even if the romance was long or it was 1am and I needed to go to sleep I just didn’t care 🤷‍♀️ if i was enjoying the romance then nothing could stop me until I finished it.

#2: always character-focused

romances are, by design, built on character development. a romance will ALWAYS focus on the people in the romantic relationship and their relationship, so you will (assuming this is a well-written romance) never have to slog through boring plot to get to the character focused bits. and because romances emphasize character, they by extension emphasize growth and introspection and relationships. and I LOVE IT.

#3: the banter/dialogue

related to #2: because romances are so character focused, they get to have A LOT OF DIALOGUE. for characters to get to know each they have to TALK, so you can always expect romances (at least the good ones) to have great dialogue (funny, moving, sincere, etc.). and I LOVE dialogue. it’s always what my eyes move to when I’m reading anything, and it helps establish characters so effectively. if the characters in a romance have chemistry, then the dialogue will always be top notch.

#4: the ROMANCE

not exactly insightful but: i love the romance part of romances!! I’m the kind of person who LOVES romance in whatever content I’m consuming (shows, movies, books, etc.) and am always impatient to get the plot stuff over with so we can focus on the romance (if there is a romance involved and I’m invested) so the fact that I just get to have a whole book focused on the romance and the characters involved in it has completely Changed the Game for me

#5: the tropes!

omg TROPES!!! enemies to lovers! oh no there’s only one bed! forced proximity! fake dating! protagonist needs to do something that only the love interest can help them with! it’s so much fun when you’re reading a romance and a trope pops up and you just KNOW it’s gonna be a great time seeing it all unfold 👀

#6: the guaranteed happy ending

this one speaks for itself. happy endings are wonderful, especially now during these not-so-happy times.

#7: the different character dynamics

grumpy character with cheerful character! hardass character with chaotic character! quiet/shy character with loud/bubbly character! there are so many different dynamics that romances can have and I love seeing how different authors put their own spin on them and give their characters nuance within them.

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I loved reading romance this last month so much and I can’t wait to find more romance favourites (there are a bunch I’ve got my eyes on that release in the next few months as well as next year…)!!

If you read romance, let me know what you love about it and what your favourite romances are!! if you don’t, I’d love to hear why!! As you can see from this post, I am a Changed Woman re: romances, so I’m really interested to hear what yall think of romance as a genre 😊

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