I LOVE THESE BOOKS: Adult Fiction and Non Fiction Mini Reviews

You might know that I devoured 17 books in August and had plenty of favorites, which included the following 2 adult fiction reads and my non-fiction read of the month: Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld, The Book of V. by Anna Solomon, and Jesus Land: A Memoir by Julia Scheeres.

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Rodham is for sure a read that divides readers. This adult fiction reads follows a young Hillary Rodham and what her life could have been like if she didn’t marry Bill Clinton. The first third of the book or so does follow Hillary and Bill’s relationship until their eventual break-up and Hillary’s personal life and political career from that point on. 

Many readers & reviewers have questioned how the ethical the book is, since it is a fictionalized account of Hillary’s life and includes depictions of many real figures. However, I can’t help but I admit that I absolutely loved this book and found it so thought-provoking! It’s clear that Curtis Sittenfeld put a ton of research behind Rodham, since the book does take into account Hillary’s real life and many real people. I thought it was so clever how Curtis Sittenheld meshed the real and fictional together. The book takes place from Hillary’s graduation from Wellesley College and all the way through the 2016 presidential election. Yes, this is especially where Curtis Sittenfeld really makes her own alternate reality, but it was just so, so fascinating to think about what could have been. Although I loved it, I know some readers might again recognize that some readers might not feel comfortable with Curtis Sittenfeld’s choices, especially when it comes to Bill Clinton and his depiction, specifically regarding his relationships with other women. I think I did a biography report on Hillary Clinton back in middle school, but I admit that immediately after I finished Rodham, I went into a Google deep dive about the Clintons! Rodham would make for such an interesting and endless talk-worthy book choice amongst friends or a book club! I could see myself picking up Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep or American Wife in the future. Read More »

TIMELY YA READ: Punching the Air Review

Summary (from the publisher): From award-winning, bestselling author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five comes a powerful YA novel in verse about a boy who is wrongfully incarcerated. Perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds, Walter Dean Myers, and Elizabeth Acevedo. 

The story that I thought

was my life

didn’t start on the day

I was born 

Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are white. 

The story that I think

will be my life 

starts today

Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it? 

With spellbinding lyricism, award-winning author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam tell a moving and deeply profound story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth, in a system designed to strip him of both.

 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

I really can’t come up with a YA title to compare Punching the Air to because it is just so, so different from what is out in the YA book world. I don’t believe I’ve ever read a book that follows a protagonist who is incarcerated, let alone one that deals with such timely themes and conversations. Co-written by Ibi Zoiboi and Yuself Salaam, one of the Exonerated Five, Punching the Air is a YA novel told in verse following Amal, a teenager who is incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit. The novel begins with Amal’s court case and decision and soon transitions into his life living in a juvenile detention center. 

Punching the Air caused me to have so many visceral reactions, especially in stanzas when Amal is describing the violence and depression he experiences inside juvenile detention. The reader really begins to feel his frustration and anger, especially when talking to the social worker and other adults who can’t comprehend what Amal is going through. There are so many important stanzas centered around race and discrimination, as Amal identifies as Black and Muslim. Amal is also an artist, and he often attempts to work through his frustration with his (white) art teacher who never understood Amal or his desire to learn about artists with a similar identity as him. Amal tries to rely on art as a form of escapism while in prison, but he often prevented from doing so because it is seen as privilege there. 

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A BOOKISH HOLIDAY YA CONTEMPORARY: Recommended For You Review

Summary (from the publisher):

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before meets You’ve Got Mail in this charming and hilarious rom-com following two teen booksellers whose rivalry is taken to the next level as they compete for the top bookseller bonus.

Shoshanna Greenberg loves working at Once Upon, her favorite local bookstore. And with her moms fighting at home and her beloved car teetering on the brink of death, the store has become a welcome escape.

When her boss announces a holiday bonus to the person who sells the most books, Shoshanna sees an opportunity to at least fix her car, if none of her other problems. The only person standing in her way? New hire Jake Kaplan.

Jake is an affront to everything Shoshanna stands for. He doesn’t even read! But somehow his sales start to rival hers. Jake may be cute (really cute), and he may be an eligible Jewish single (hard to find south of Atlanta), but he’s also the enemy, and Shoshanna is ready to take him down.

But as the competition intensifies, Jake and Shoshanna grow closer and realize they might be more on the same page than either expects…

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

My Thoughts: 

Everyone knows that I’m crave bookish YA books, which made Laura Silverman’s Recommended For You one of my most anticipated releases this fall… not to mention that it takes place during one of my favorite times of the year, the holiday season! Shoshanna Greenberg is spending her winter break at her favorite place in the world, Once Upon, the local bookstore where she works. When her boss announces that the employee who sells the most books will receive a holiday bonus, Shoshanna is ready to up her book recommendation game even more so she can finally fix up her beloved car. What’s preventing her from doing so is Once Upon’s newest employee, Jake, both for that fact that he doesn’t even read and his charm. 

Recommended For You is one of the cutest enemies-to-lovers books that I’ve ever read!  It had such a fantastic atmosphere, between the holiday season and the bookstore & mall. The book takes place over the week leading up to Christimas, with Shoshanna’s family wrapping up their Hanukkah celebrations and Shoshanna working every day leading up to Christmas. Although I haven’t worked in a mall, I have worked in retail and Laura Silverman perfectly summarized the chaos surrounding last minute holiday shopping. Shoshanna’s best friends also work in the mall, and I loved their food court hang outs.

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Jenna Takes The Fall by A.R. Taylor Review

Summary (from the publisher):

Twenty-four years old and newly employed in Manhattan, Jenna McCann agrees to place herself under the dead body of a wealthy, prominent New Yorker―her boss―to hide the identity of his real lover. But why?

Because she is half in love with him herself; because her only friend at Hull Industries asked her to; because she feared everyone around her; because she had no idea how this would spin out into her own, undeveloped life; because she had nothing and no one?

Or just because?

 

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

The first line of the synopsis for A.R. Taylor’s Jenna Takes The Fall instantly caught my attention. The novel begins with twenty-four year old, NYC newbie Jenna falsely owning up as her billionaire boss’ mistress when he suddenly dies to hide the identity of his true lover. 

Jenna Takes The Fall was really different from most books that I normally read. It was this interesting cross between thriller and contemporary fiction, especially because the book begins with Jenna’s role in her boss’ death. The book is split between her life working at a newspaper conglomerate as an executive assistant of sorts to her new life after being bought out by the company’s law team. The reader definitely needs to suspend their sense of disbelief that Jenna is so willing to cover up the identity of a fellow co-worker in what would’ve been a huge cheating scandal without knowing really why she must do so. 

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17 BOOKS 1 FANGIRL: August 2020 Wrap Up

August was another one of those strange months where it felt long and short at the same time! This month, I celebrated my twenty-second birthday, had more beach & pool days, finished my first semester of grad school, and read a ton of books! I had two weeks in August in between the summer and fall semesters, so I spent so, so much time reading! I think it also helped that I didn’t have a ton of new shows coming out (aside from the 3 seasons that I did binge and my weekly reality TV schedule, oops), but I was also just genuinely in the mood to read! I knew in the back of my mind that I likely won’t be able to devour 17 books a month for the rest of 2020 or until at least December, since I just started my fall semester last Monday and have a pretty big course load. 

I have reviews already published and coming for 15 of 16 out of the follow books so I’m not going to be sharing my mini thoughts on them, with the exception of the books I DNF’ed. 

Anna K by Jenny Lee | 5/5 Stars

Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wien | 2.5/5

The Heir Affair (The Royal We #2) by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan | 4.75/5 

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid | 4/5 Read More »

Fall 2020 Most Anticipated Adult Releases

Fall is always my favorite new release season of the year, and with all of the following books coming out, there’s no changing that feeling this year! I’m actually looking forward to breaking down my 2020 reading statistics later in December because I feel like I’ve read so much adult and new adult fiction between May and August. I wouldn’t be surprised if I still read more YA fiction than not as usual, but I’ve just been absolutely loving contemporary romance in 2020. Additionally, I’ve found myself picking up more women’s fiction, literary fiction, and non-fiction more than I’ve ever before. 

Today, I’ll be sharing my most anticipated Fall 2020 releases for September, October, & November. If you’re craving YA and want to add more books to your TBR, I shared my most anticipated young adult release for the fall last week!

Well Played (Well Met #2) by Jen DeLuca | Release Date: September 22

Jen DeLuca’s Well Met is one of my favorite books of 2020, so I could not be more excited to pick up the second book in the Well Met companion series, Well Played. I’m not sure if any male leads will beat my fictional crush for Simon from book #1, but I’m really excited for this romance between Stacey and her Ren Faire summertime fling, Dex. 

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab | RD: October 6

I feel like almost every V.E. Schwab fan has been not-so patiently waiting for The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. V.E. Schwab’s books are just so unique, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue included. The book takes place over 300 years and follows the title character’s bargain to live forever while all those who meet her forget her. I’ve heard absolutely amazing early reviews!

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren | RD: October 6 

Everyone knows a need a holiday-inspired book or ten during the late fall & holiday season, so I know I’ll be saving Christina Lauren’s In a Holidaze for when I’m craving a festive read. Set during Christmas, the book plays with the time loop trope, as Mae finds herself relieving the holiday season at her family’s Utah vacation house, giving her the chance to get her longtime crush under the mistletoe. 

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TWO GREAT READS, ONE MISS: Recent Contemporary Reads Mini Reviews

I’ve been reading so much this summer, and mini reviews have been my new favorite way to share my thoughts on my recent reads. Today’s mini reviews are books that I would describe as mixes between women’s fiction and literary fiction, which include: Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age, Emma Straub’s All Adults Here, and Jennifer Weiner’s Big Summer.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

51nyHHSxOLLSuch a Fun Age by Kiley Reid had been on my TBR since December. So many of my friends have been reading this one since its January debut, but it recently made it way back on to my bookish social media feed between the controversy surrounding The Reading Rush (in short, it was their book club choice and the hosts did not finish reading the book in time for their live show) and that it is a 2020 Booker Prize Longlist Nominee. The book follows the events after an African American babysitter, Emira, is accused by a shopper and security guard at a grocery store for kidnapping the white child she babysits for. Emira develops a romantic relationship with a white man that recorded the altercation, Kelley, while Emira’s boss and blogger, Alix, tries to best handle the situation and develop a relationship with Emira.

Such a Fun Age is a very complicated and multilayered read, alternating between Emira and Alix’s third person perspectives. This book really makes the reader think about the characters and their motivations, especially when it comes to Alix. I didn’t mind the writing style, but it didn’t necessarily grab me. It was easy to read, but again, it leaves the reader thinking about both main characters’ thoughts and actions. In short, Alix is someone who is so out of touch with reality and is ultimately really selfish. She doesn’t understand Emira’s experience and her own husband has recently made some controversial comments on his news cast that ultimately leads to Emira being accosted by the security guard. I will say that I wish there was more development surrounding Alix, especially her past with Kelley, but I think Kiley Reid leaves Alix’s ending unopened in the sense that the reader hopes or assumes that Alix will think more deeply about her actions. Read More »

LIVE LOVE ROMANCE: Contemporary Romance Mini Reviews

Everyone knows that my reading life each month is never complete without a romance book or five. This summer, I’ve done a mini dive back into Colleen Hoover’s books with Verity and Regretting You, while also reading a book by another beloved romance author, Talia Hibbert.

Verity by Colleen Hoover

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

A few of you might now that I took a break from reading Collen Hoover’s books back verin 2018. I was getting tired of seeing the same tropes and honestly, some of the toxic masculinity. Thanks to my mega-romance mood lately, I decided to give one of her books another shot, Verity. I chose Verity because it had been described to me more as a psychological thriller than romance (although there are MANY steamy scenes in this one), and so many people said that its ended has haunted them days after finishing it.  Verity follows Lowen, a struggling writer who receives the opportunity to finish a best-selling series after its author, Verity, gets into an accident that leaves her unable to write. Verity’s husband, Jeremy, offers Lowen to come stay with their family so Lowen can collect Verity’s writing notes and outlines. While searching through Verity’s office, Lowen finds a manuscript of Verity’s autobiography that reveals Verity’s perspective on the various tragedies her and her husband have faced, with plenty of bone-chilling confessions from Verity.

To say the least, Verity was one of the most unique romances I’ve ever read. I’ve read a few thrillers that feature romance or relationship development, but this book was truly romance meets psychological thriller. The book is definitely disturbing at times, as Verity’s confessions in her autobiography reveal her twisted feelings about her husband and children. The book is more about Lowen uncovering Verity and Jeremy’s past than writing the books, but the mystery had me so intrigued. While Verity is pretty much bed-ridden due to her accident, Lowen feels that she’s being watched by Verity at all times, especially as Lowen and Jeremy grow closer. I didn’t really mind Lowen and Jeremy’s relationship because I think it was just a given development in the story. I will say that I had no idea what to expect about Jeremy, and I think Colleen Hoover does a great job leaving her readers guessing throughout.  I don’t think I was as creeped out by the end  as most readers were (I’m not sure what that says about me..), but nevertheless, I did not see the ending coming and I loved how it left me thinking.

Regretting You by Colleen Hoover

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

After really enjoying Verity, I decided to pick up Colleen Hoover’s Regretting You. Many 9781542016421_p0_v2_s550x406of my blogging friends loved this one, since it reads a little bit like a young adult book. Regretting You is told from the perspectives of Morgan and Clara, a mother and daughter who are grieving over two tragic losses in their family. After having Clara at seventeen years old, Morgan is still trying to figure out what else she can be defined as in life aside from a loving mother and wife. Clara has starting to push her parent’s limits, between her crush on a guy her father disapproves and her dream to go to school for acting. At least her dad and Morgan’s husband, Chris, can be the peacemaker between the mother and daughter, until tragedy strikes.

Regretting You reads a lot like many of Colleen Hoover’s new adult reads, but it doesn’t have nearly as many or that steamy of romance scenes.  I would classify it more as a women’s fiction read with a touch of YA, since we get Clara’s perspective as a sixteen-year old high school student. We also get flashbacks to Morgan’s past when she was seventeen, mainly revolving around her finding out about her pregnancy and combatting her feelings for both Chris and Jonah. If you’ve been following the books I’ve been picking up this summer, you’ll know that I’ve been on an adult fiction kick lately, which may explain why I liked Morgan’s perspective more than Clara’s. I think there was a lot more to explore within Morgan’s storyline, between her feelings for Chris and Jonah, her desire to be something more than a housewife, and her struggle to relate to and support Clara. I liked how Colleen Hoover gets at the idea that adults often feel lost themselves or don’t have any idea what they’re doing even if it looks like it.

While I think Regretting You does have a unique premise which definitely intrigued me enough to pick up the book, I don’t think it brought anything necessarily new to the table. I was surprised by the revelation concerning Chris and Morgan’s sister, Jenny, and their relationship, but I sort’ve knew how it would be handled once it’s revealed to Jonah and Morgan. Regretting You  is a pretty fast-paced read, but it feel like I was just waiting for these plot points to reveal themselves. Additionally, Morgan and Clara didn’t really grieve over their losses. I know that grief looks different in everyone, but Morgan and Clara’s concern and feelings for Jonah and Miller respectively overshadowing their grief. While Morgan says repeatedly that she did love her husband, I wish we got to dive into their relationship more.

Overall, I did enjoy Regretting You, but it didn’t have as much depth as I was expecting, both in regards to its romantic relationships and even Clara and Morgan’s mother-daughter dynamic.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters #1) by Talia Hibbert

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Get a Life, Chloe Brown has been floating around the romance blogosphere since its 43884209November 2019 debut so much that I knew it was finally time for me to pick it up. Talia Hibbert is often recommended to me as a staple contemporary romance author. The first book in The Brown Sisters companion series, Get a Life, Chloe Brown is a British contemporary romance following the oldest Brown sister, Chloe. Chloe has  fibromyalgia, a chronic illness that causes her pain daily. Chloe has felt discouraged to socialize and do a lot of things, so she looks to her apartment building’s ‘bad boy’ of a handy-man, Red, to help her with her ‘get-a-life’ list.

There were so many elements that I appreciated in Get a Life, Chloe Brown, but I never really felt too engaged in the story. It took me a while to settle into the writing style and the feeling that the book was much more character-driven than I had expected. The book alternates between Chloe and Redford’s third-person perspectives, and much of the plot grows out of their dialogue. However, there aren’t too many events or major plot happenings. Additionally,  Chloe and Redford are somewhat set in the enemies-to-lovers trope, but I never really sensed anything but attraction between them. Red also doesn’t really read as a bad boy whatsoever! I really enjoyed Get a Life, Chloe Brown’s representation, as I’ve never seen a Black female protagonist with a disability as the main character.

Overall, although I appreciated certain features in Get a Life, Chloe Brown, it ultimately wasn’t a super memorable or enjoyable romance read for me. I think I one day will pick up the next book in the companion series, Take a Hint, Dani Brown, because so many romance readers that I follow have nothing but amazing things to say about it.

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Have you read any of the books I mentioned? Do you have any recommendations for me? What other Colleen Hoover or Talia Hibbert books should I read? Share in the comments! 

Fall 2020 Most Anticipated YA Releases

The time has come for my favorite most anticipated releases season of the year. I always find fall release season so exciting because my all-time favorite books of the year often come out in September, October & November. As always, I am still clinging on to these final weeks of summer. It’s interesting this year especially because normally this would be my first week back to school as an undergraduate, but this college graduate is now home and taking most of her graduate courses remotely while student teaching. But don’t worry, I’ll be breaking out the pumpkin spice coffee soon. 

Today I’ll be sharing my most anticipated young adult releases of the fall, in order of their release date. Next week, I’ll be sharing my most anticipated adult releases for the fall. I decided to separate my YA anticipated releases from my new adult and adult ones just because there were so many exciting releases out in 2020. 

Majesty (American Royals #2) by Katherine McGee | Release Date: September 1

I am so excited that my most anticipated YA release of the fall comes out on the first fall Tuesday! I’ve basically needed Majesty in my life since I first read its predecessor, American Royals, last summer. If you’re someone who loves contemporary royalty books, you need to read this YA series about the American monarch ASAP. 

Recommended for You by Laura Silverman | RD: September 1

I’m sort’ve cheating with Recommended For You personally because I was very fortunate to have read an ARC earlier in August – my review is coming to the blog in 2 weeks! I recommend saving Recommended For You for the latter half of the fall as we get closer to the holiday season, as the book takes place at a bookstore during the holiday season as Shoshanna and Jake compete to sell the most amount of books.Read More »

Top Five Wednesday: Dream Adaptations 

I’ve been participating in Top Five Wednesday since my first year of blogging in 2017. Top Five Wednesday is a weekly meme group on Goodreads featuring a variety of book bloggers. I think the group took a hiatus for a while – I myself haven’t participated in Top Five Wednesday since November 2019, but they’ve recently started sharing topics again. 

Today’s Top Five Wednesday is all about the books we’d love to see adapted into TV shows or movies. It was actually a little difficult for me to come up with five adaptations I’d love to see because so many of my favorite books or series have been picked up for production – some recent ones include Jenny Lee’s Anna K, Lyssa Kay Adam’s The Bromance Book Club, and Alexa Martin’s Intercepted. I did some research on these 5 books to see if they hadn’t (yet) been picked up for adaptation. 

American Royals by Katharine McGee – American Royals is a series I could so see being picked up by Netflix, HBO, Amazon, or even the CW because royals-inspired TV series are often such a hit – Amazon will be adapting Casey McQuistion’s Red, White & Royal Blue into a TV series! I think American Royals would especially make for an interesting one since it’s somewhat of an alternate reality – the United States being a monarchy instead of a democracy. 

Reminder Instagram Post

The Deal/Off-Campus series by Elle Kennedy – Just like how I crave romance or contemporary books set at college, I would love to see more TV shows set at college, Elle Kennedy’s Off Campus series included! I could so see The Deal and the rest of the Off-Campus series being adapted for Netflix (especially if the show-runners kept in some of its more mature content). I could also see the show following multiple characters and intersecting storylines – instead of basing the series on just the first book, The Deal, I would try to balance all 4 books in the series in a season or two. Read More »