Welcome to our inaugural community book reviews post! This month features 3 romantic novels that you can find at Bookmarks. Get to know our local reviewers, who each told us either something they love about Winston, their relationship to Winston, or their favorite place to read a book in Winston!
Books were donated by Bookmarks, and we’ll post new reviews monthly.
The Donut Trap by Julie Tieu follows Jasmine Tran, a recent college graduate who has returned home to live with her parents and work in the family’s donut shop. Her mom is constantly on her case about finding a boyfriend and a good job, but with all her time spent behind the counter of the shop, Jasmine has none left to search for either of those things. When the family’s landlord raises their shop rent, their small profit margin becomes a problem that Jasmine must help solve.
Meanwhile, Jasmine’s best friend sets her up with her boyfriend’s roommate, Alex, whom Jasmine realizes she already knows from a brief but memorable encounter in college. And around the same time, Jasmine’s high school ex-boyfriend reappears in her life. Suddenly she is navigating a complicated dating situation on top of searching for a job, preparing for her best friend to move away, figuring out a plan to save her family’s donut shop, and generally Getting Her Life Sorted Out.
This is a sweet and heartfelt romance of the closed-door variety (no steamy scenes), with a lot more to offer than just the love plot. Jasmine’s relationship with her immigrant parents is complicated and tender, her work at the donut shop entertainingly exasperating, and her quest to figure it all out very relatable. And because it’s a romance, a satisfyingly happy ending is guaranteed. This would be a fun February read, perhaps paired with a sweet treat from Dough Joe’s!
Reviewed by Emily Poe-Crawford (pictured above!)
Emily Poe-Crawford moved to Winston-Salem in 2009 to earn her English Literature MA from Wake Forest, and she felt so at home in the city that she stuck around after graduating in 2011. Now, you can find her most Saturday mornings in her favorite reading spot: outside on a bench by the Salem Creek greenway or downtown strollway, soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the company of everyone who passes by walking, running, or riding their bike.
How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days by K.M. Jackson is the perfect weekend escape for those who love romantic comedies. Bethany Lu Carlisle is determined to meet the man she will one day marry, but there are only two problems: he doesn’t know she exists, and he is already engaged. In this laugh out loud book, Bethany travels from coast to coast searching for her one true love– Mr. Keanu Reeves. Throughout the journey, Bethany is joined by her best friend, Truman Erikson as they embark on a quest of a lifetime. As she gets closer to the man of her dreams, she slowly realizes that her match might be right next to her. Bethany sets out for romantic love, but learns along the way how special and important all types of love are. Jackson’s writing is equally parts bingeable and heartfelt. This book is filled with fun movie references and swoon worthy romance scenes, perfect for anyone looking to curl up with a good book this Valentine’s Day season.
Reviewed by Josie Greenwald (pictured above!)
My favorite thing about Winston is the small town community feeling; everywhere you go you see people you recognize from around town and everyone is extremely welcoming. Moving from the West Coast, I'm proud to call Winston home.
I Kissed a Girl by Jennet Alexander. In this unapologetically queer romance, two Jewish girls secretly pine for one another on the set of the new horror film, Scareodactyl. Lilah Silver, a closeted bisexual plagued with insecurities and aspiring B-list star in the spotlight, undergoes an inspiring arc throughout the book. With the help of Noa Birnbaum, an eager special effects makeup artist in training, Lilah is introduced to the thriving LGBTQ+ community of Los Angeles. As the book progresses, the secret lovers are forced to deal with one fan taking their obsession with Lilah one (or ten) steps too far. While this book didn’t bring anything new to the table, it was a quick, lustful, and dare I say cliche read for those who don’t mind a large portion of the book explaining the movie’s gory special effects. The overarching theme of always being true to yourself was endearing and something we all need to be reminded of on those days the jeans don’t fit, the Instagram likes dwindle, and the self-doubt comes creeping in.
Reviewed by Julia Goldman (pictured above!)
Winston Salem provided me with an uplifting safe space to step outside my comfort zone and expand my independence. I have loved finding new reading spots, new cafes, and new shops at every turn!