Happy 2024! As always, got a jump on my reading list right as the year began. This reading recap features a couple of reads I got right before the new year, the book club pick for the month, plus one anticipated read I got for my birthday. I’d say I started off strong and can’t wait to see what other amazing books I’ll get to read this year.
A Dish Best Served Hot by Natalie Caña – This is the second book following A Proposal They Can’t Refuse, meaning some characters from that book have cameos in this one. It’s a second chance romance with childhood friends kind of story where in a nutshell, it’s two stubborn, independent people with feelings for each other who almost sacrificed their happiness and finding love because of their ego. Grandpas are also at the center of this plot, but there are also some subplots that deal with social justice around LGBTQIA+ youth and homelessness. I gave it four stars because I did find it enjoyable and love to see Latine characters on the page, though I did find it a bit boring in some parts of the book.
All The Lonely People by Mike Gayle – All The Lonely People was The Empire State Book Club pick, and a great one to start the year with. This is the story of a Jamaican immigrant living in England. The book is dual timeline, where happenings from the present timeline trigger a moment from Hubert’s past to help contextualize the present and further understand his story. In his lifetime, Hubert experiences racism, rejection, poverty, grief, and ultimately loneliness. Hubert is a widower living alone in England with two adult children who are out living their lives. He essentially became a recluse due to grief where old friendships died out and he isolated himself from his community, until a new, young neighbor knocked on his door asking for his help. Hubert ends up finding friendship and community in the most unlikely of places, and filled a void he didn’t realize needed filling. I found this story to be quite relevant and touching – I teared up twice! – given that finding community as an adult is a challenge, much more for seniors.
Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson – This book was part of a December book haul where I just randomly picked it up when book shopping. It’s a cute story based in Harlem where four adopted foster brothers mourn the loss of their adopted mother and have to decide whether to save or sell her yarn shop. The most unlikely of the brothers stepped up to help save the business, in honor of their mom, with the help of the shop’s only employee. Sort of friends since they were kids, Kerry and Jesse have to work together to help save the shop while deciding whether to explore the feelings they have for each other. I’ll admit, I picked this up because it was knitting themed (though I crochet! But I digress) but I did consider DNFing a few times while reading the book despite thinking that the story and premise were cute.
Technically Yours by Denise Williams – If you read The Fastest Way to Fall, then you’ll recognize Pearl and Cord, the main characters for this story. This is a second chance romance where Pearl struggles to balance her career, family life, and love – especially when Cord shows up in her life after years of not seeing each other. Cord still has feelings for Pearl, and vice versa but after following her heart with her past lovers instead of with her head, she’s reluctant to open the door to romance out of fear that the balance she’s worked to achieve in her life will be thrown off. I enjoyed reading this story, especially since I “met” Cord and Pearl in The Fastest Way to Fall – they were destined to get together. I loved that Pearl stayed true to herself and her goals amidst the struggle to maintain balance, but opened up to allow Cord into her life, though she was stubborn about it which was annoying. Also Cord was giving peak privileged guy towards the end which I wasn’t a huge fan of.