February 2023 Book Reviews

It’s always surprising to me how fast February feels (especially since January is 87 days long) but here we are somehow in March already. I’m ready for longer days, more sunshine, and the beginning of Spring so I’m here for it!

In February I read two books and while one fell pretty flat for me, one is going to be added to my Top Recommendations List because I loved it so much. Let’s get into it!

All You Need to be Impossibly French by Helena Frith Powell

Last month I read Bringing Up Bebe and really enjoyed it. I joked with Justin that I was “entering my French era” and decided to try another book along the same lines. This particular one was written by a British woman living in France and follows kind of a similar thought process as Bringing up Bebe – she’s noticing the differences between herself (and other non-French women) and French women and wants to “uncover the secrets of [their] chic living.”

Here’s the thing. I did not have the same warm, affirming feelings as I did reading Bringing up Bebe. In fact, I found some aspects of this book to be more of a turnoff – like a strange recurring interaction with a Frenchman that borders emotional (and potentially physical) cheating and gave me the ick. While some chapters were interesting and entertaining, overall I wasn’t as charmed by this author’s deep dive into the world of French women. I tried to put more of a finger on why that was and checked the publication date: 2006. Oddly enough, this seemed to make things click. The book feels like the early-00’s obsession with thinness – the “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” era, you know what I mean? And reading it in 2023, yes we want to look good, channel fierce energy, worry less, take care of ourselves more, etc. . . . but in a healthy, well-rounded, accepting our flaws kind of way. And this book doesn’t seem to leave the same kind of room for that. Looking through that lens, I actually don’t think it’s a bad book, I just don’t think it aged particularly well and so it fell flat for me.

Love at First by Kate Clayborn

Nora adores her close-knit, quirky building and never wants anything about it to change. Unfortunately, the newest tenant, Will, is determined to bring change. After inheriting one of the six apartments in the building from his late uncle, he is clear about his intentions: renovate the apartment and rent it out. Horrified by the thought of a revolving door of renters ruining the familial feel of the building, Nora decides to make things difficult for Will in hopes that he changes his mind. Despite the ensuing sabotage and complications, Will and Nora get to know one another better and neither can deny that underneath the animosity they each feel a strong connection to one another.

I ADORED this book! I thought it was so fun and charming and sweet. Nora and Will are both really likeable characters and I enjoyed their back-and-forth dynamic. Their characters are relatable and down-to-earth and I particularly enjoyed Nora’s inner dialogue. I love a good alternating narration, enemies to lovers trope and this book did it so well. The vast majority of the story takes place in their shared apartment building and the rest of the cast of characters is eclectic and delightful. I just wanted to hang out in this building! I’d rank it as PG-13; there’s a bit of language and one steamy chapter (could easily be skipped over if you prefer). It’s predictable but not overly cheesy and is a great choice when you just want a realistic, feel-good romance. I highly recommend!

What have you been reading lately?

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