The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

Reviewed by Katy Zignego (Library Staff)

I am not a regular reader of romance novels, but when a book gets very popular it can sometimes pique my interest. So it was with The Spanish Love Deception, by Elena Armas. More than 100 people on the holds list can’t be wrong, can they? As it turns out, they can, and I wish to save you from being deceived by The Spanish Love Deception.

The description on the back of the book promised the usual rom-com delights of an enemies-to-lovers fake-dating scenario, set at a wedding in sunny Spain. But the first two hundred pages of the book take place in boring New York, and the reader is equally bored with the supposed tension between zany Lina and stern Aaron. The author underscores the fact that the two hate each other so frequently that I was never able to fully buy into the change of heart that eventually happened–once they finally got to Spain.

Once the soon-to-be-lovers get to Spain, a switch is flipped and they are suddenly not only extremely attracted to one another, but also more communicative, more social, and generally nicer people. I got the feeling that the author originally wrote the New York part of the book and the Spain part of the book as two completely different stories, then tried to combine them into one narrative arc. It doesn’t work; the main characters truly seem like entirely different people in the second half.

And the one place where they seem the most different from their former selves is in the bedroom. Chatterbox Lina is suddenly a tongue-twisted, melting damsel, while gruff, terse Aaron suddenly turns tender and also uses lots and lots of words that I am not at liberty to share here. I’m no expert, but I don’t think people’s communication styles usually change that much when their clothes come off.

Speaking of communication, I have one more quibble to share. The dialogue occasionally felt stilted and unnatural. I think the author, like her character Lina, is not a native speaker of English, so I’m willing to give her a pass on less-than-perfect syntax. If the book could have passed under the eyes of a skilled editor, the dialogue might have been ironed out and seemed more realistic. But, alas, the days of actual human copy editors have passed.

Don’t waste four weeks of your life waiting for your name to creep to the top of the holds list for The Spanish Love Deception. There are lots of better options in the genre, without the wait. If you are in the market for a cute enemies-to-lovers story in a fun, exotic location, I recommend Shipped, by Angie Hockman.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC ARMAS)

Neon Gods by Katee Robert

Reviewed by Jen Bremer (Library Staff)

Neon Gods is the first book in Katee Robert’s Dark Olympus series. What started out as a self-published book on Amazon’s Kindle, has turned into a publishing powerhouse. Neon Gods is a dark, contemporary retelling of the myth of Hades and Persephone. Robert does an incredible job world-building a modern city that is Olympus and fills it with complex and page melting characters. I loved this book. If you like your dark romance novels on the spicy side, I think you’ll love it too.

Available through the Bridges Library System

The Looking Glass by Janet McNally

Reviewed by Avery H (Library Patron)

I really enjoyed this story of falling in love, experiencing heartbreak at the ends of tragedy, all the while being on a quest to search for answers. In this novel, Sylvie, a ballerina, sets out to find her older sister, Julia, who left a year ago leaving no clues or any traces of where she’s gone behind. When Sylvie receives a package in the mail from her, everything changes. The book follows her on a journey that ends up changing her forever. I think this story is beautifully written with it’s touches of magic here and there and the way it goes deep into Sylvie’s past to show how she develops as a character. I would categorize this novel as fantasy/fiction. Anyone who loves a good mystery with touches of romance and fantasy, this one’s for you.

Located in Teen Fiction (TEEN FIC MCNALLY)

We Never Learn Vol. 1 by Taishi Tsutsui

Reviewed by Jess H (Library Staff)

In order to secure a full-ride to the college of his choice, Nariyuki Yuiga must tutor three of his classmates: Rizu Ogata is an ace with math and science, but can’t grasp humanities, Fumino Furuhashi is a humanities genius but can’t wrap her head around equations, and Uruka Takemoto is a swim star but struggles with academics in general.

We Never Learn is a cute slice-of-life/rom-com manga with some pretty funny gags and likeable characters. I’d recommend this to folks who like Nisekoi and Horimiya.

Available through the Bridges Library System

The Secret Recipe for Moving On by Karen Bischer

Reviewed by Taylor H (Library Staff)

It’s the beginning of senior year and Ellie’s boyfriend, Hunter, has just dumped her. To make things even worse, he immediately starts dating someone else—and their relationship may have started before the breakup. Ellie has to watch the two of them be all lovey-dovey during their shared home economics class, and it becomes her goal to beat them in the home ec competition. However, her group consists of Luke, AJ, and Isaiah, people who many in the school would consider social misfits. What follows is a semester of shenanigans, surprises, and mishaps.

I loved this book. Ellie’s journey of figuring out who she is without Hunter was done very well. The characters felt like real people, and the romance is both sweet and believable. Ellie and her love interest have a lot of chemistry. If you are looking for a feel-good YA novel, I highly recommend this one!

Available through the Bridges Library System

American Royals by Katharine McGee

Reviewed by Melissa Beck (Library Staff)

With a fabulous cover and a premise like “What if America had become a monarchy with George Washington as its first king?” I was looking forward to seeing what this book had to offer. It ended up not what I expected and yet I was not at all disappointed.

We had four narrators: Bea, the duty-bound future (and first!) queen of America; Sam, the wild “spare” to Bea’s “heir”; Nina, Sam’s best friend who likes Sam’s twin brother, Jeff, but does not like the spotlight; and Daphne, the picture-perfect ruthless ex-girlfriend of Jeff who still has her eye on the crown. American Royals explores the concepts of duty, celebrity, and being true to yourself, all with witty banter, steamy romance, and wish-fulfillment glamor.

If you go in expecting a probing exploration of an alternate history, you will be let down–the American monarchy angle turned out to be merely fancy set dressing that didn’t penetrate into the fabric of the story. However, if you go in expecting less history and more histrionics, even the most hearty appetite for drama will be satisfied. This book is not going to change your life but it sure is fun.

Located in Teen Fiction (TEEN FIC MCGEE)

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Reviewed by Taylor H (Library Staff)

Ever dream of winning the lottery? In The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Avery Grambs does just that. However, it’s not the lottery in the traditional sense. Instead, she finds out that a billionaire has just left her with nearly his entire fortune, a billionaire she has no known connection to. What follows is a completely new life for her, filled with paparazzi and the billionaire’s unhappy (and potentially dangerous) relatives. Avery and the billionaire’s four grandsons also discover that he left a web of puzzles behind for them to figure out, puzzles that may reveal why he chose Avery.

I definitely enjoyed the twists and turns in this book, and I wanted even more (good thing there’s a sequel). I thought the characters were interesting. They each had their own distinct personality and reasons for doing things. As Avery began to unravel the family secrets, I was right there with her, eager to learn what she was discovering. My only complaint is how the characters deal with the person who tries to have Avery killed. If you like puzzles, mysteries, and a little of bit of danger and romance, this is a book for you!

Located in Teen Fiction (TEEN FIC BARNES)

Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez

Reviewed by Emily Terasa (Library Staff)

YouTuber Vanessa Price quit her job to travel the world because she is worried she won’t live past 30, like her mother and sister. But when her other sister leaves her baby with her, Vanessa is stuck back in Minnesota dealing with the baby, her hoarder-father, and her half-brother who loves a good get-rich-quick scheme. Vanessa struggles, but luckily there is an extremely hot lawyer (Adrian) who lives next door and he seems to be a magic baby-whisperer. With his help, maybe Vanessa can handle everything that life is throwing at her.

This book (and others by Abby Jimenez) is utterly charming and wonderful. It is the perfect book to pick up and read when you are having a bad day. I loved the two main characters the most, but the cast of side characters are also wonderful. There is humor, romance, and fun, while also sharing the message about living every day to the fullest. I highly recommend this book.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC JIMENEZ)

Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

Being a self-confessed nerd, I was eagerly awaiting the release of Spoiler Alert, a romance with a different twist–the main character writes fanfic and attends Cons to support her fandoms. I was disapointed in the execution however. April is a geologist by day, prolific fan fic writer by night. Her most famous ‘ship is from the megahit show Gods of the Gates (a clear Game of Thrones knockoff) staring her favorite actor, Marcus Caster-Rupp. Both characters have inner struggles in their own lives before they come together in a chance Twitter exchange that leads to love. While the writing itself was fine, the story was all over the place and attempted to tie too many threads together–Marcus’ dyslexia, April’s new job and not being herself, both of their relationships with their respective parents, etc. However, the biggest con (pun intended) for me was the main crux of the story being about April’s obsesity. We live in an era where a “movie star” would not date a severely overweight person so I get the inclincation to expand on that topic. But Wade to me, uses it too much as a “teachable moment.” April’s weight is her only story arc, affecting her relationship with Marcus, her parents and her coworkers. While I applaud the use of a character like April in a story, the author didn’t do enough to fully flesh out her character and we are left with a pale imitation of someone who is preachy.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC DADE)

Float Plan by Trish Doller

Reviewed by Emily Terasa (Library Staff)

Anna was supposed to go on a sailing trip with her fiancé, but after a heartbreaking loss, she decides to sail by herself. But after a tough night at sea, Anna realizes that she can’t sail alone so she hires a handsome Irish professional, Keane who also has demons to deal with. What follows is an enjoyable trip through the Caribbean as both Anna and Keane grow and learn.

This was a charming story that I enjoyed, especially the two main characters. The settings were gorgeous, and I now want to go sail around the Caribbean!

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC DOLLER)