Monday, July 27, 2020

#AmReading: The Paris Edition

Paris is Always a Good Idea

Jenn McKinlay
Age/Genre: Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Berkely
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
It's been seven years since Chelsea Martin embarked on her yearlong post-college European adventure. Since then, she's lost her mother to cancer and watched her sister marry twice, while Chelsea's thrown herself into work, becoming one of the most talented fundraisers for the American Cancer Coalition, and with the exception of one annoyingly competent coworker, Jason Knightley, her status as most talented fundraiser is unquestioned.

When her introverted mathematician father announces he's getting remarried, Chelsea is forced to acknowledge that her life stopped after her mother died, and that the last time she can remember being happy, in love, or enjoying her life was on her gap year. Inspired to retrace her steps--to find Colin in Ireland, Jean Claude in France, and Marcelino in Italy--Chelsea hopes that one of these three men who stole her heart so many years ago, can help her find it again.

From the start of her journey nothing goes as planned, but as Chelsea reconnects with her old self, she also finds love in the very last place she expected.
Seven years ago, Chelsea had to abandon her post-college year abroad as her mother's health took a turn for the worse. It was then that she left behind the free-spirit she once was. When her father announced his upcoming nuptials, she began to realize that since her mother's death, her life had been at a standstill. In an effort to find the fun and fancy free woman she once was, she booked a trip to recreate her European adventure. Though things didn't go quite according to plan, Chelsea rediscovered herself and so much more. 

This book had me experiencing every imaginable feeling, and I just couldn't get enough of it. It was comical and warm and sweet and swoony. I laughed, I cried, I yelled at the book, but most of all, I smiled. 


It's always fantastic taking a trip via a book, but this was even more fun for me given the fact that we really haven't been able to go anywhere for so long due to the corona virus. McKinlay did a wonderful job taking me back to Ireland and France, and bringing me to Italy for the first time. She incorporated popular attractions, activities, and food, and I felt like I was there with Chelsea.


Each stop on Chelsea's tour brought with it an ex-boyfriend, aka the one she left behind. I loved meeting these men from her past, well most of them at least. Each reunion was quite humorous and filled with great anticipation for me wondering if he would be the "one". But it was those moments of reflection she experienced which I really appreciated, and it was great to see Chelsea discovering so much about herself as she reconnected with her past. 


Chelsea embarked on this trip because she was stuck. After her mother's death, she buried herself in her work. She never really grieved properly, and this trip ended up being an outlet for her. It was in Europe, seven years later, that she finally confronted her pain and let herself come to terms with the profound loss she had suffered. I would say it was equal parts heartwarming and heartbreaking. 


One source of comfort came from a very unlikely source. While Chelsea was in Europe finding herself, her co-worker and nemesis, Jason, sought her help with their latest donor. Needless to say, she didn't expect him to intrude on her trip, but I was so glad he did. I loved their interactions! All of them were so much fun, involving witty banter and lots of heat. Watching both Chelsea and Jason slowly putting down their weapons and removing their armor was so satisfying for me. 


I had an incredible time reading this book. I loved the characters, the settings, the antics, and the romance. McKinlay did an incredible job taking me on this journey and it was wonderful to see Chelsea rediscover herself and reclaim her life.  

Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop
Roselle Lim
Age/Genre: Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Berkley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Become enamored with the splendor of Paris in this heartwarming and delightful story about writing one’s own destiny and finding love along the way.

Vanessa Yu never wanted to see people’s fortunes—or misfortunes—in tea leaves.

Ever since she can remember, Vanessa Yu has been able to see people’s fortunes at the bottom of their teacups. To avoid blurting out their fortunes, she converts to coffee, but somehow fortunes escape and find a way to complicate her life and the ones of those around her. To add to this plight, her romance life is so nonexistent that her parents enlist the services of a matchmaking expert from Shanghai.

The day before her matchmaking appointment, Vanessa accidentally sees her own fate: death by traffic accident. She decides that she can’t truly live until she can find a way to get rid of her uncanny abilities. When her eccentric aunt, Evelyn, shows up with a tempting offer to whisk her away, Vanessa says au revoir to America and bonjour to Paris. While working at Evelyn’s tea stall at a Parisian antique market, Vanessa performs some matchmaking of her own, attempting to help reconnect her aunt with a lost love. As she learns more about herself and the root of her gifts, she realizes one thing to be true: knowing one’s destiny isn’t a curse, but being unable to change it is.
Vanessa never saw her clairvoyance as a gift. Rather, it was a plague which kept her from forming any meaningful relationships outside of her family. After the very unfortunate timing of one of her visions, Vanessa decides it is time to get her "gift" under control. That means lessons with Aunt Evelyn, the other fortune teller in the family. Though she was not looking forward to being under Aunt Evelyn's tutelage, she was excited that her lessons would take place in Paris. Maybe even she could find love there. 

Once again, Lim delivered a feel-good story which was beautifully written and included a bit of magic. Filled with full-bodied descriptions of the sights, sounds, and flavors of Paris, I found myself transported to the City of Lights, and I delighted in every moment I spent there. 

I was also charmed by Vanessa's family. The Yu clan was large and very tight knit. There were close friendship between the cousins, never ending meddling from the aunties, and an abundance of love. The interactions between Vanessa and her family members were full of fun and warmth, and they never failed to bring a smile to my face. 

Though I enjoyed Lim's previous book, I was left wanting a bit more from the romance. Therefore, I was happy to find romance played a bigger role in this book. In fact, there were several romances spotlighted. Each came with smiles and swoons, but there was a bit of drama too. Needless to say, I was excited about all the pairings. 

This was a beautiful story of self discovery made even better by blending in family, food, romance, and a little magic. I was enchanted by Vanessa's story and really appreciated being transported out of my world, even if just for a few hours.  

**ARCs received in exchange for honest reviews. 

Once upon a time, I convinced my daughter to go on a trip to London and Paris instead of having a sweet sixteen party. It was an amazing experience, and I dug up some of my pictures to share with you here. I think we were there in 2011 or 2012. 


Have you ever been to Paris?
Let us know in the comments!

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