Friday, July 28, 2023

Exceptional Emma by Marie Soleil: Book Review

 *Book received for consideration. All thoughts are my own.

Emma Nazarian is about to find out what makes her truly exceptional.

The last six years have all been leading to this moment--the announcement of a promotion at my structural engineering firm. This job has consumed every spare second of my life, and I'm convinced it's all mine.

But I'm wrong.

After I get passed for the promotion, I start to question where my life has been heading. What makes me stand out from everyone else? Sure, I'm pretty good at math and physics, but you don't see people gasping in awe when I solve a tricky calculus integral. My shoe collection is pretty showstopping, but those just go on my feet. And when compared to my extraordinarily talented younger brother and sister, I feel so...mediocre.

To make things more complicated, I run into my childhood best friend, Jacob. He’s been gone for nearly twenty years, pursuing a super successful professional dance career (and getting super hot), and when he asks what I’ve been up to…I feel so lame.

Will I always be average?

Maybe not.

Maybe I just haven’t tried the thing I’m really, really good at. I don’t care what it is—ice skating, balloon animals, competitive video games—there has to be SOMETHING that makes me amazing.

Something that makes me exceptional.

And with a little help from Jacob, I’m going to find it.

Exceptional Emma is a work of women's fiction with a romantic comedy vibe. It's a standalone novel filled with character growth, laughter, and swoony kisses.

Marie writes heart-warming, sweet and clean romantic stories with big life lessons and character growth. She won the Swoony Award in 2022 for Best Debut Author. When she's not writing, she can be found watching The Office, playing the piano, sewing a dress, or reading a book (while consuming copious amounts of chocolate). She lives in sunny Southern California with her husband of 15 years, three children, and ten chickens.

Oh my goodness, this book! Not trying to be cute here... but it truly was an exceptional read! In this story, we meet Emma as she's passed up for a promotion and finds herself feeling nothing but average. And so, she sets out on a journey to find the thing that makes her exceptional by trying a variety of hobbies to find something that fits, documenting the process on social media. 

I feel like in some ways, there's a little bit of Emma in all of us... or at least that was certainly the case for me. As a perfectionist, who often feels like 'just good' isn't good enough, Emma's character is one I related to very well. I definitely understood that desire to be the best of the best. The story also touched on some of the issues with social media and that desire for outside validation and the dangers of prioritizing that over real-life relationships that again I think is so very relevant to women in all stages of life. As such, not only was this story super entertaining with all her hobby mishaps, but it's a story that we can all learn a little something from too.

When I read in the description that it was 'women's fiction with romantic comedy vibes', I was a little uncertain what to expect because let's just be honest--- I am ALL about the romance in a story. For those who are like me, don't worry! There is definitely a great bit of romance and while it's not the focal point of the story, it definitely made it all that much more enjoyable too. If you were a fan of The Happy Life of Isadora Bentley by Courtney Walsh, this has a very similar feel to it... though both stories are very much different and beautiful in their own ways. Either way, this is certainly one NOT to be missed! 


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