July 15, 2020

Friends with ARCs: Paris is Always a Good Idea + Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Teashop

It's been seven years since her mother died, and Chelsea Martin still has parts of her life on pause as she grapples with her grief. When her father announces he's getting remarried, it throws her for a loop and pokes at parts of her life and heart that she'd been avoiding. Chelsea impulsively decides to relive a post-college trip that she took before her mother fell ill in order to try to find that elusive something she feels is missing in her life. Chelsea begins to reconnect with herself as she revisits Ireland, Paris and Italy, and she just might find romance waiting for her with someone unexpected.

The premise of Paris is Always a Good Idea makes it sound like exactly the sort of romantic comedy film that I would watch in a heartbeat. I was optimistic going into it, and can happily report that I really liked it! McKinlay's writing is very readable, her characters were likable, the romance was adorable and the story was funny and heartfelt at turns. But there are two things that really stood out to me about this one. First, I really enjoyed being able to travel vicariously through this novel. McKinlay does such a good job giving readers a sense of the places visited in the book, even with the limited amount of page time each gets. And second, I really liked that this story was primarily about Chelsea coming to terms with her own personal struggles. It felt really honest to watch her struggle with grief and anger, and to see her revisit the past and make note of the parts of it that had and hadn't changed. I particularly loved the juxtaposition of who Chelsea was then and who she is now, as that's always a character journey I appreciate reading about when it's done well. To sum it all up, Paris is Always a Good Idea is great, and I'd recommend checking it out.

Paris is Always a Good Idea will be published on July 21, 2020. Preorder the book!
I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions stated are my own.

What’s an unusual or unexpected trip activity you’ve experienced that challenged you personally? It's going to sound a little bit silly since many of you know how lucky I am to have traveled so much in the last decade. But back before I was more experienced with travel, I accompanied my grandmother and her friends to Japan. I had to navigate the Japan transit system without prior knowledge of it, as this was before the time of smartphones being the norm and the internet not being so easily accessible. It was definitely an adventure, especially for someone as shy and introverted as I am, but it definitely taught me that I can handle that stuff when I need to!

Vanessa Yu has always been able to read people's fortunes (good and bad) by seeing the dregs of their drinks. After she predicts a death in the future, Vanessa feels the responsibility and guilt of her ability weighing on her. When her aunt Evelyn extends an invitation to Paris for a visit so that she can teach Vanessa how to use her ability, she jumps at the chance. But while she's in the City of Lights, Vanessa might learn that it's not necessarily about finding control but instead discovering more about herself (and her family) and learning to accept it all.

I really, really enjoyed Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Teashop! Roselle Lim works her magic yet again as she incorporates food, family and a journey of self-discovery all into one tale. In her sophomore release, Lim really does an incredible job portraying Paris. She invites the reader to feel nostalgic or wistful for it by using an array of details. And, as proven in her first novel and cemented by this one, Lim also has a knack for incorporating food incredibly well into her narratives. Her descriptions lend to the feeling that you are experiencing the food right alongside the characters, and I was constantly hungry and craving all the dishes (especially the pastries, my goodness, the pastries) she wrote about. The story itself is also compelling to read. Lim does well juggling a variety of plot points that weave together Vanessa's personal growth, her relationships with her family, her aunt Evelyn's reasons for settling in Paris, and a budding romance for Vanessa. I really got swept up in the narrative fairly quickly and enjoyed it all, though I did find the ending to be a little rushed for my liking and perhaps a little too movie magical in its near perfect happy ending for all. Still, it was such a delight to read from start to finish! I would definitely recommend checking out Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Teashop when it comes out in August.

Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Teashop will be published on August 4, 2020. Preorder the book!
I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley/the author. All opinions stated are my own.

What meal do you want to relive in Paris?


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