My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Genre: Adult Contemporary/Romance
Published: July 29th, 2019
Trigger Warnings: Anxiety disorder, panic attacks
The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book. When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?
Nina considers her options. 1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.) 2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)
It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page. – Synopsis from Goodreads .
“You’re the love child that’s going to derail the whole plot of their lives? … I’m afraid so, I didn’t do it on purpose. Of course not but how often does one get a chance to be Jon Snow?”
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill was a really cute, quick read. I have to admit that I thought I would love this one more than I did, but I still enjoyed it overall(ish). I mean there are tons of bookish references and our main character is a book snob, of course I’m going to relate somewhat, right?
I decided to broaden my horizons this year and try more contemporary novels, even ones that lean into the romance category. That is very out of my comfort zone but I figured I might enjoy some in the adult genre. This felt like a safe bet since the main character, Nina, works in a bookstore and is all about that life. In some ways it did work for me and in other ways it fell felt.
I mostly adored the character Nina, she was a bit more of an elitist book snob than I am but I still appreciated her great love for a good book and as someone who runs a book club myself, I loved reading about her running various bookclubs at her store for mostly younger kids. It was super cute reading about her interacting with the kids and the books they loved – I’m a huge middle-grade lover, so I was living for all the great book shout-outs and it was also nice that it was a mostly girl’s book club and Nina seemed fairly dedicated to helping the girls with their confidence – I mean what’s not to love about that? Nina also has some really strong female friendships and I’m always looking for that in my novels. There was no petty or catty bullshit, just women who cared about each other – even when they were being a little nutty. Nina is also a strict planner, obsessively so and a complete trivia nerd who takes part in various trivia challenges around town.
Early on, we learn that Nina’s mom was really absent in her life and she never knew her father or even who he was – until she gets a fateful phone call that drops a bombshell informing her that she has a wealthy father who just passed away and has left her something in his will. On top of that, she now has a whole new family – brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and so on – basically an instant family and all the chaos that goes with it. This could’ve been really eye rolling and cliche but it was probably the strongest part of the story – Nina getting to know her new family. Each member is different and not all of them are completely eccentric but, of course we have a couple that are. It wasn’t really heavy and maybe not totally authentic of how something like that would really would out in real-life but that’s ok – in the realm of a light contemporary it was super enjoyable and I could’ve read about her getting to know them for the whole book honestly – maybe even two books!
Ok, so this is a romance and I still haven’t talked about the romance element, why? Honestly, it fell kind of flat for me. Nina has a crush on another trivia geek and they have a few awkward moments here and there but the banter is never really there and the chemistry is always kind of meh for me, so I honestly lost interest. Nina also struggles with anxiety and panic attacks and when she has a fairly bad one and basically tells him to get out – he doesn’t talk to her for quite awhile. As someone who suffers from severe anxiety and panic disorder, I was not ok with this. Yeah, she was harsh but she was also going through a ton and she did explain why she needed the space and it just didn’t sit right with me. She said what she needed, he refused to listen and made it about him being needed. I’m sorry but if a woman says for you to leave – THEN GOOOO! I got really grouchy about him after that. I’m sure it was supposed to be cute and all but I didn’t get the romance – I find it bland and I can barely remember the guy’s name already. Sorry bout it….
I think this is a good summer read, something you can pick up in the afternoon and just binge read it. Maybe bring it to the beach or take it out on a nice day on the porch – it’s that kind of read. I loved the family and friendships in this book and that is what makes it still worth a read to me. The cover is also super cute and colorful.
Thank you to Berkley and Edelweissfor the e-arc in exchange for my honest opinion.