Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Mini Reviews: Book Club Picks

If you are like me and always curious about celebrity book club picks, then I've got you covered. These two debut novels were recently book club picks and would be solid summer reading choices. 

How To End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang
Pages: 384
Genre: Romance
Pub. Date: April 9, 2024
Publisher: Avon
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Helen Zhang hasn’t seen Grant Shepard once in the thirteen years since the tragic accident that bound their lives together forever. Now a bestselling author, Helen pours everything into her career. She’s even scored a coveted spot in the writers’ room of the TV adaptation of her popular young adult novels, and if she can hide her imposter syndrome and overcome her writer’s block, surely the rest of her life will fall into place too. LA is the fresh start she needs. After all, no one knows her there. Except…

Grant has done everything in his power to move on from the past, including building a life across the country. And while the panic attacks have never quite gone away, he’s well liked around town as a screenwriter. He knows he shouldn’t have taken the job on Helen’s show, but it will open doors to developing his own projects that he just can’t pass up.

Grant’s exactly as Helen remembers him—charming, funny, popular, and lovable in ways that she’s never been. And Helen’s exactly as Grant remembers too—brilliant, beautiful, closed off. But working together is messy, and electrifying, and Helen’s parents, who have never forgiven Grant, have no idea he’s in the picture at all.

When secrets come to light, they must reckon with the fact that theirs was never meant to be any kind of love story. And yet… the key to making peace with their past—and themselves—might just lie in holding on to each other in the present."

Helen Zhang is a YA novelist and one of her novels is being adapted for television. While in the writer's room, she finds out she'll be working with her former high school classmate and all-around popular guy, Grant Shepard. This isn't a normal high school acquaintance though. She has a dark history with Grant in that her sister jumped intentionally in front of his car which ended her life thirteen years ago. There's so much unresolved angst and sadness for both characters around this that seeing one another brings it all up again. They have to work together and keep things professional, but it is becoming challenging, especially as they start to have feelings for one another. Helen's parents would never go for this, so their budding relationship is essentially doomed unless Helen starts living her authentic life and faces her family and her past. How to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang is a steamy romance filled with a lot of heart and trauma.

Reese Witherspoon's Book Club selected 
How to End a Love Story as their book of the month, so I knew I needed to get my hands on a copy. There was some definite chemistry between Grant and Helen but their on-again-off-again/will I...won't I...romance was sometimes annoying. It felt really immature, but admittingly, the characters are quite younger than me. There were a lot of steamy scenes in this novel, so much so that I think it distracted readers from the plot. I wish there was more of a focus on Helen and her growth as a character, especially dealing with her parents and her sister's death. Nonetheless, it was a solid debut if you like romance novels on the sad side as it does deal with a lot of  trauma - anxiety, unresolved grief, suicide, the immigrant experience, and difficult relationships with family.

The Husbands by Holly Gramazio
Pages: 352
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: April 2, 2024
Publisher: Doubleday
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


Goodreads says, "When Lauren returns home to her flat in London late one night, she is greeted at the door by her husband, Michael. There’s only one problem—she’s not married. She’s never seen this man before in her life. But according to her friends, her much-improved decor, and the photos on her phone, they’ve been together for years.

As Lauren tries to puzzle out how she could be married to someone she can’t remember meeting, Michael goes to the attic to change a lightbulb and abruptly disappears. In his place, a new man emerges, and a new, slightly altered life re-forms around her. Realizing that her attic is creating an infinite supply of husbands, Lauren confronts the question: If swapping lives is as easy as changing a lightbulb, how do you know you’ve taken the right path? When do you stop trying to do better and start actually living?"



Lauren attends a bachelorette party one night and returns home to her apartment a bit  tipsy. Much to her surprise, there is a man in her apartment, one who  seems to know her quite well. After a bit of a freak out, and some  investigation, she realizes that this man isn't necessarily a threat,  but instead, he is her husband. How can this be? As Lauren investigates what's going on, she realizes it has to do with her attic. It's experiencing an electrical malfunction and every time a "husband" goes up there, a new one comes out. So, basically, Lauren gets to experience a new version of her life along with every new husband. Some of the husbands are great, some are not so great, and the less than desirable ones she promptly sends them back up in the attic. Will Lauren ever find "the one?" Holly Gramazio's debut novel, The Husbands, is a fun take on the typical time loop novel.

The Husbands had me laughing out loud in true rom-com fashion more than I expected. It has some major Groundhog Day vibes and I really enjoyed this fresh take on the usual time loop novels I read. Lauren gets herself into some hilarious circumstances and while this novel is unrealistic, Gramazio presents it in such a fun way that I enjoyed being lost in Lauren's world. The Husbands is a "Read with Jenna" Book Club pick and I could see why as it not only is a rom-com, but it also touches on  bigger questions about life and the choices we make. 



Have you read either debut novel? Let me now your htoughts in the comments below.



  1. The Husbands sounds so fun - I'm always on the lookout for a good time travel/time loop story!

    1. It was so much fun--definitely had me laughing out loud! Thanks for dropping by, Angela!


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