review and cover mani: playing with matches

PLAYING WITH MATCHES was just the lighter fare I needed. Humour and heart are like peanut butter and chocolate, forever a delicious and satisfying combo. PLAYING WITH MATCHES had equal servings of both. Fun and fresh, I laughed at the plethora of hilarious moments that felt all too real in regards to first jobs, first loves, and other first adulting situations. Orenstien captured those highs and lows through Sasha’s twentysomething eyes in a grounded way, so I was able to fall right in and root for her until the end.

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

In the tradition of Good in Bed and The Assistants comes a funny and smart comedy about a young matchmaker balancing her messy personal life and the demands of her eccentric clients.

Sasha Goldberg has a lot going for her: a recent journalism degree from NYU, an apartment with her best friend Caroline, and a relationship that would be amazing if her finance-bro boyfriend Jonathan would ever look up from his BlackBerry. But when her dream career falls through, she uses her family’s darkest secret to land a job as a matchmaker for New York City’s elite at the dating service Bliss.

Despite her inexperience, Sasha throws herself into her new career, trolling for catches on Tinder, coaching her clients through rejection, and dishing out dating advice to people twice her age. She sets up a TV exec who wanted kids five years ago, a forty-year-old baseball-loving virgin, and a consultant with a rigorous five-page checklist for her ideal match.

Sasha hopes to find her clients The One, like she did. But when Jonathan betrays her, she spirals out of control—and right into the arms of a writer with a charming Southern drawl, who she had previously set up with one of her clients. He’s strictly off-limits, but with her relationship on the rocks, all bets are off.

Fresh, sweet, and laugh-out-loud funny, Playing with Matches is the addictive story about dating in today’s swipe-heavy society, and a young woman trying to find her own place in the world.


The matchmaking element produced a fair amount of the punch lines, as Sasha tried her best to find partners for her clients, no matter their inexperience or aggressively specific criteria. I particularly loved the group scenes with other matchmakers, glued to their phones to make connections. It gave me a sense of go-go-go, totally fitting for New York City. While Sasha zipped around, whether by foot, subway, or cab, her unexpected career suddenly became the only constant in her life. Her seemingly-solid relationship exploded into concrete chunks, and the impact forced her to slow down and make some hard decisions. 

Jk. She pretended she was okay and tried to distract herself with a handsome Southern writer and copious amounts of wine. See intro paragraph where I mentioned moments that felt all too real. Haha!

Cover design by Sinem Erkas.

Stories where women save themselves are the ultimate best and as much as I love a high fantasy quest, in the real world, the saving element is more subtle, although just as meaningful. PLAYING WITH MATCHES had that deeper layer of empowerment, which elevated my affection for Sasha. Yes, she had her distractions, but after a while, Sasha had to decide if she’d make choices for herself or keep going with the flow. And isn’t your twenties are about? Watching Sasha’s priorities shift from the desire to please others, to considering her own happiness first—redefining what that happiness would even look like—earned Sasha an endearing place in my heart. 

If you want to laugh, cheer on a wry protagonist, and be left with a smile on your face, PLAYING WITH MATCHES is the book for you! In stores now, make sure you pick up a copy of this charming and voice-rich debut.

Big thanks to Touchstone Books for an ARC!


For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Paper Mâché and Black Expressionism

OPI – Let’s Be Friends, Mod About You, Dulce de Leche, Kiss Me On My Tulips, You Don’t Know Jacques, and matte topcoat

China Glaze – Kiki In Our Tiki, Pretty Fit, Fresh Prince-ss, Bodysuit Yourself, and Chroma Cool

Orly – Storyteller (custom colour)

So Nailicious brushes – needle and warrior

1 comment:

  1. Got to love a book that makes you laugh.



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