Thank you [partner] @bibliolifestyle and @williammorrowbooks for including me on the book tour for Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson and for a gifted copy of the book which published on November 16, 2021.
In the near-future world of the novel, climate change has led to (even worse) superstorms, rising sea levels and flooding, heat waves, and deadly pandemics.
A billionaire, T.R. Schmidt, Ph.D.—made wealthy through a chain of restaurants—develops a master plan for reversing global warming from his Texas ranch. His hubristic “Big Idea” may just save earth—or hasten its decline. While the narrative traverses continents, it’s grounded in the humanity of the characters.
Termination Shock manages to pull off a rare trick, at once wildly imaginative and grounded, and readers who go in for this world-building will likely leave with a heightened concern for all the ways in which we are actively making the planet inhospitable…this novel is both a response to a deeply broken reality, and an attempt to alter it.—The New York Times
I am a fan of eco-fiction (or “clifi”) so am very excited to read more of this epic novel. I’m guarding it closely because I think my husband will likely try to abscond with it!
Niki Randhawa has always strived to be a perfect Indian daughter, choosing a tech career over music, her passion, and always following the rules, including dating men of whom her parents would approve. Her carefully planned future shatters, however, when she’s laid off from her job.
Realizing that always doing the “right” thing hasn’t led to success or happiness, Niki impulsively books a flight to Mumbai to attend the wedding of her friend, Diya.
At a lively Diwali celebration, Niki eyes the band’s bass player, later to learn he is London musician Sameer Mukherji, a close friend of Diya. During the wedding celebration and subsequent group honeymoon, Niki and Sam grow closer, with Sam encouraging Niki to follow her passion. Living in different countries, their fling, no matter what feelings it might generate, can only be finite—unless the both take risks, reveal secrets, and stray from the expected path.
My favorite part of the book was the Indian setting, both Mumbai and Goa, which were vividly described. There is also a great sibling relationship between Niki and her older sister.
An important theme throughout the book is familial and cultural expectations and how they shape us and how miscommunication or faulty assumptions can intensify them. It also addresses colorism, class, and gender and income inequality in India.
While I liked Niki and Sam, and was even convinced that the wedding/ honeymoon environment could engender a rapid attraction, they also had communication issues, which at times were frustrating but also necessary to move the plot. For example, I wished Niki hadn’t deflected so much with humor.
Though the book has a fun Christmas scene, Diwali is celebrated in October or November. But, I am here for non-Christmas love stories!
Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review and to @berittalksbooks for organizing the #berkleywritesstrongwomen #berkleybuddyreads!
Single mother April Parker raised her daughter in Willow Creek, but now that Caitlin is graduating and leaving for college, she plans to sell her house and move to the city. Before she can list it, though, she has a long list of updates and repairs from her real estate agent to deal with.
Mitch Malone, the handsome, gym teacher, is a player known for wearing a revealing kilt at the town’s Renaissance Faire. When he asks April to pose as his girlfriend at an upcoming party for his grandparents’ anniversary, she agrees—as long as he helps her with her home repairs.
As they spend time together, their relationship heats up, especially when Mitch’s family dinner turns into a family weekend, but April reminds herself that she will be moving soon. What started as just an act, though, could turn into more—if April could let go of her plans, but even Mitch might not be enough to keep her in Willow Grove.
I enjoyed Well Matched as much as Well Met, the first book in the series. Mitch’s cousin, Lulu, was hilarious, and his family was infuriating—thinking he settled when becoming “only” a gym teacher—but they also began to come around. This book had several scenes at the Faire because April, the quintessential non-joiner, volunteered as a ticket-taker to support Caitlin. Seeing the Faire from that front-of-house perspective was different and fun. The couples from Well Met and Well Played made appearances as well.
A good choice for those who like the fake-dating trope or age-gap romances.
Some open-door steam.
Thanks to Berkley Romance and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review! I also ordered a signed, finished copy from Mostly Books (Tucson, AZ) and got stickers and a print of April and Mitch!