Hello you lovely lot!
I hope you’re well and having a great weekend? My weekend has been full of yoga, coffee dates, brunch and books, which is how I like to live!
One book that I finished this week is one that I recently absolutely SCOUTED out to try to make sure I could take with me on a recent holiday to MEXICO! I spent 10 nights at the Grand Sirenis Riveria Maya with 4 other lovely ladies. We spent the time sunbathing, sipping cocktails, dancing, eating and having the best time laughing and joking with each other. The hotel is built on an environmental area which means it’s part jungle, with lots of amazing (but safe) animals to see as you walk around the hotel. There were iguanas, coatis, racoons, monkeys and even dolphins! The monkeys were amazing although I heard that they were for sure cheeky. One person had their passport and phone stolen from them! Apparently the monkeys did return it two days later but I think it was too late for that traveller by then. Imagine having to tell the consulate that a monkey stole your passport!
The book I’m about to review is one that from the title I was like ‘OKAY THIS IS A HOLIDAY/VACATION READ’, and its also written by the author of my favourite rom com book, so I was expecting lots of warm fuzzy feelings and good vibes.
BEACH READ, BY EMILY HENRY
‘A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.‘
This book sounded fun, very meet-cute and the possibilities for hilarious scenes of taking some literary guy to some hilarious rom com type moments had huge potential. Basically, January (the romance writer) and Augustus (the literary writer) challenge one another to write a book of the opposite genre, so Augustus would write romance and January something of literary fiction.
I really wanted to root for our protagonists January and Augustus – firstly I wanted them to write some killer fake fiction books that would turn into smash hits and really surprise themselves and push them out of their comfort zones, maybe learn something about themselves along the way; and obviously I also really wanted them to fall in love, because what’s a rom com without some love!
I’m afraid though (and this pains me to say this, it REALLY DOES!) that this really just didn’t happen authentically or at the level of potential that this awesome original idea for a book had.
CAN’T PUT IT DOWN RATING: 2/5
Ouch. It even hurts me to look at this. Now firstly, Emily Henry’s ‘You and me on vacation’ is the best rom com book I’ve ever read in my life. I bloody love it. Also, Emily Henry is a funny lady, and an amazing writer. The reason why I am sharing this review with you is to explore that we should be careful about the expectations we grow from the ‘hype’, that one author can make you both love and dislike their work, but also that the marketing department can really screw up.
This book was marketed as a rom com (I mean it even says it on the front cover!!) but that’s not what it is. It’s also titled Beach Read. The protagonists do not sit on a beach writing books, and this book is too heavy to be a fun beach book. I work in the supply chain and there’s a common phrase we use – ‘under promise and over deliver’ – its the way we set and manage expectations of those who rely on us, and encourage praise rather than disappointment. However, this phrase is true anywhere in life, and equally it is applicable to a marketing department targeting books to readers.
I was expecting to sit on my sun lounger in the sun, cocktail in hand, giggling. I’m afraid though that within a few chapters, I realised that I was getting very distracted and wasnt actually reading the book. First of all I put this down to the very nice Mojitos Laydee our beach waitress was bringing me, but as I tried again and again on different days to get into this one, I just found that I couldn’t.
Firstly, this book is without any doubt, not a rom com. It is not funny. It is quite a serious book handling some really difficult themes. It is necessary to say that Emily Henry handles these well, and whilst you do expect some serious themes in a rom com, they tend to not be centre stage to the novel, and this was. I didn’t actually laugh out loud at any point during this read. Now, ‘You and me on vacation’ on the other hand. POW. What a rom com! I was laughing all the way through. So to be clear if I aren’t being crystal enough already – not a rom com. I wanted a rom com.
Secondly, the characters in this book are very very boring, shallow and one dimensional. The character of January doesn’t really exist off the page. She is not fully formed. I know the name of her last boyfriend and her best friend, and the situation with her parents, but nothing more, not really. She doesn’t really seem to have that many strong opinions and doesn’t stand up for herself. Augustus (the ‘love interest’) could have been so different and so much more fun to read. He again is very boring, very moody and honestly the whole vibe between them is a bit odd. They’re supposed to have been in a lot of contact at school together, yet they dont recognise each other’s voices (?!) and they could have had much more of a rivalry to make this fun. It wasnt fun. There wasnt even a cute dog or a sassy cat to cause a bit of mayhem.
Thirdly, the ‘romance’ was just not genuine. They go from chatting about books to suddenly January feeling a ‘heat’ in between her legs, a load of references to being a ‘dumb bunny’ and a load of hip rubbing. Now dont get me wrong, Emily Henry can write some absolute SAUCE and I am here for it, but half the time I couldn’t work out how theyd gone from talking about some serious literary research theyd undertaken, to starting to get hot and heavy. It was just a bit weird and forced. These characters have ZERO Chemistry.
‘His eyes were doing the thing, the Gus thing . . . and it made my chest flutter almost painfully‘ – I’ve no idea what the ‘Gus thing’ is, but I wasn’t in for this, and it just kept being repeated. The amount of repeated fluffy language was also a problem for me.
The last hundred pages in my opinion were actually the best, as it starts to feel a little more connected and it has some truly touching moments connecting January to her late father which I loved.
My favourite character without any doubt is Shadi, January’s best friend. She’s fun, feisty and a great supporting friend, but I think it says a lot considering that for most of the story she’s just a character via text message.
On the whole, not a rom com, not my favourite book and I’m pissed off that it says it is on the front cover.
However – some good news! I’ve now told you that this isn’t a rom com. You now know it’s literary fiction, its pretty heavy and you should expect to open your heart to it, not want to laugh at it. Out go your expectations and hopefully then, you might enjoy it more than I did.
Also, this book is now in the works (www.theworks.com) for £5 so you dont have to hunt high and low like I had to. THEY ALSO HAVE YOU AND ME ON VACATION FOR £5(!) so if you do actually want a rom com, read that, it’s incredible. I will also mention that Beach Read has a very high rating of 4 stars on Good reads, with some people falling endlessly in love with the relationship, feeling major emotion at the highs and lows etc so it might just be that I just wasnt vibing with this.
Where to buy:
The Works £5
Washed down with:
Lots of cocktails! If you end up at the resort I stayed in, do ask for some of the secret ‘off the menu’ cocktails! I can recommend a Flying Guerrilla which is like banana and coconut, and a Riviera Maya which is like a traffic light!
I also kind wish I was back on this beach sipping cocktails!
I have actually just ordered some more tea for my next review thats pretty new out for me to try and to tell you all about. I can’t wait to share that with you when it arrives!!!!
A quick question to you, given the nature of this review. Do you have an author that is an ‘auto buy’ for you, but that who you’ve found one of their books (or maybe more) just doesn’t vibe with you? Who and which books? I’d be super interested to know!
You can find me of course on my socials were I love having these types of discussions (if leaving blog comments aren’t for you)! Instagram is my preferred channel, you can catch me at @papyrusandpeppermint so do check out my feed. If you’re on IG, also remember to add me to your favourites!
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Until the next chapter,