2 YA Reads & A Much-Loved Thriller: Recent Mini Reviews

I recently realized that I had a few mini reviews saved from October. At think at one point, I was going to do a thriller mini review round up…but then I never ended up reading that many thrillers over the past two weeks. The following mini reviews include a new YA thriller, an adult thriller from a much loved author, and a YA contemporary series sequel.

Those Who Prey by Jennifer Moffett 

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars 

As soon as I read the synopsis for Jennifer Moffett’s Those Who Prey, it instantly became the next to-read book on my TBR. Everyone knows I love a YA contemporary taking place in college, but Those Who Prey takes the setting to an extreme, as college freshman Emily finds herself recruited into the Kingdom, a cult thinly veiled as a religious group for students. When Emily is sent on a mission trip to Italy, she begins to unravel The Kingdom’s dark past and purpose.

Those Who Prey had such a strong start. Each part of the book begins with newspaper articles or interviews with people close to Emily or other members of the Kingdom, then transitions into Emily’s first person perspective. It was interesting, yet obviously creepy and sad, to see how Emily was introduced into the Kingdom and how her whole mindset about college changed so quickly. However, the first half of the book was much stronger than the second half, in which Emily is in Italy and with the help of her new counselor, begins to see what the Kingdom isn’t really wasn’t seems to be. The whole mystery and its dark past felt really rushed. I feel like I still don’t have a full grasp on what exactly happened. I wanted more development from the other side characters and in general, just more answers. Given the interview excerpts, I expected a much darker ending. I did appreciate Jennifer Moffett’s author’s note at the end, in which she explains the prevalence of campus cults, especially during the book’s setting of the 90s. I think if you’re someone who likes fictional books about cults – I admit that I’ve only read a handful of books with a similar synopsis and the only one I’ve super enjoyed is Megan MacLean Weir’s The Book of Essie – you still might enjoy this one for its story, although I think the plot and characters needed more development. 

This review is based on an unsolicited advance reviewer copy provided by the publisher. By no means receiving this ARC affect my thoughts & opinions. Read More »

Contemporary Romance Mini Reviews: November 2020 Edition

I’ve read some literary fiction and YA books in between, but the fall has once again been all about contemporary romance for me. Two of the books below are wedding-centric, while the third is a much anticipated sequel in one of my favorite contemporary romance series. 

Destination Wedding by Diksha Basu

My Rating: 4.25/5 Stars 

My currently adult contemporary and contemporary romance mood met my love for books featuring weddings recently with Diksha Basu’s Destination Wedding. Tina’s family and her best friend are spending a week in India for her cousin’s wedding. I wouldn’t say there’s a central conflict or plot to the book, but the novel explores so much about Tina and co.’s relationships with other people and to India. Despite its fascinating and sometimes luxurious setting, Destination Wedding is more of a quiet read, focused on character development and self-discovery. I know this might not be every reader’s cup of tea, but I personally really enjoyed it!

You may know that I’ve been super wary of any Crazy Rich Asians comparisons lately because the past few books that I’ve read with the CRA comparison just haven’t held up. Destination Wedding is by far the first book I would recommend to anyone looking to have those Crazy Rich Asians feels once again. Destination Wedding obviously takes place in a different culture, and I admit that is slightly less glamorous than CRA, but the book provides a look at poverty in India. The writing style between the two were so similar, between the satire and comedy (there were so many funny moments and funny one-lines from Tina’s dad, Mr. Das), and the third person perspective. The sections of each chapter are usually dedicated to one character, but will pull away for a brief paragraph or two about a side character there. 

I don’t think I necessarily had a favorite character, but there were never any chapters that I wanted to rush through because I didn’t like the character of focus. I feel like I did want more from Tina and her romantic’s endeavors, but I loved being able to explore her relationship with her heritage and her parents. I also feel like the novel gave such an inside look at India – the book mostly takes place in New Dehli. There was so much I never knew about the culture and traditions there, and honestly, the poverty and pollution.  If you’re someone who craves character-driven books and doesn’t mind a more literary fiction-type reader, I definitely recommend checking Destination Wedding out.  Read More »

A FEW MORE FAVORITES: September 2020 Mini Reviews

My September mini reviews might just be among my favorite mini review round-ups because I enjoyed these 3 books so, so much! 

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars 

I’ve been wanting to read One to Watch since it was a Book of the Month pick in May or June, but I decided to wait for my physical library copy to come in. Thanks to my college friends, I’ve finally gotten into The Bachelor franchise in 2020, so I loved One to Watch’s Bachelorette inspired synopsis. The book follows fashion blogger, Bea, who after drunkenly publishing a blog post about a reality dating show’s lack of diversity, is asked to be the show’s first plus size female lead. Bea agrees to the gig, promising to herself and her producer that she won’t fall in love.

One to Watch is officially one of my favorite books of 2020. It definitely falls into the contemporary romance category, but I actually loved that there wasn’t a ton of steam. The book is really about Bea (and her journey to finding love, as Chris Harrison might say). I really loved the novel’s format, as Bea’s story is told through blog posts, news articles, tweets, and her own perspective. Each chapter features some sort of multimedia format, while focusing on one episode of Bea’s season. I love how much liberty Kate Stayman-London took with Main Squeeze – it was an even more thinly version of The Bachelor than I was expecting. Swap roses with kisses and you basically have the same show! Much of Bea’s struggle with dating on the show has to do with the fact that so many of the 25 guys see her for her weight, not her self. Kate Stayman-London’s take on diversity, including the plus-sized community, on reality TV felt so real and timely! There was such a great balance between these conversations and the reality show premise and romance. As soon as I finished reading it, I immediately texted my friends in our Bachelor group chat and told them to pick it up. Read More »

TWO 2020 FAVORITES, ONE MISS: Contemporary Romance Mini Reviews

It’s one of my reading missions in life to also have a contemporary romance book ready to read! If you’re absolutely loving all the amazing contemporary romances that have come out in 2020, I have another two 2020 releases for you to read… and a 2019 much-loved release to maybe avoid….

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

On a beautiful day in August, I decided I wanted a fluffy book that would occupy my full attention while floating around the pool, which led me to pick up Mia Sosa’s The Worst Best Man. I’ll read nearly any book that has something to do with weddings. This contemporary romance follows Lina, a wedding planner who was left at the altar three years ago when her fiancé’s best man, Max, convinced Andrew to not get married the night before the wedding. Three years later, Lina is up for a wedding planning position at a luxury hotel in Washington D.C. and is forced to work with Max to prepare marketing materials for her final presentation. Although Lina finally gets the opportunity for some payback, her and Max begin to connect in ways both of them would have never expected.

The Worst Best Man is seriously one of my favorite contemporary romances of 2020! I instantly fell into this story and Lina and Max’s attraction. I thought it had the perfect balance between romance & relationship development, the setting, and the personal challenges each character faces. As I’ve said before, Say Yes to the Dress and Four Weddings are among my favorite reality TV shows, so I loved getting the inside look at wedding planning. I thought Lina’s job and all the details were so well-developed. As someone who has experience in marketing, it was also really fun to learn about Max’s job as a marketing executive and seeing him and Lina collaborate on their pitch. We also spend a lot of time with each character’s family, as Lina comes from a close-knit family led by women and is planning her favorite cousin’s wedding, while Max and Andrew are going head to head for the hotel pitch. 

This book  hit a home run when it come to one of my favorite tropes, enemies-to-lovers. Lina and Max seriously had no feelings or attraction for each other at the start and even as their feelings begin to build, Lina is still getting revenge on Max for helping ruin her big day. I loved their antics and their more emotional scenes, romance scenes of course included. Read More »

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 »

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.

newfireborder

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! 

June 2020 Mini Reviews: Books I Should’ve Read A While Ago

Stay-at-home orders forced me to look around all the bookshelves in my house for books that I hadn’t yet read.  I have been buying more books lately and reading more e-books than normal thanks to Netgalley and Libby, but physical books will ALWAYS have my heart. My hunt for books led me to pick up books that I should’ve read a while ago, both in the sense that they’ve been on my TBR for a while and that they are extremely loved and well read.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

9781524763138Although I admit it wasn’t a TBR priority, Michelle Obama’s Becoming was always one of those books that I knew I would read one day. A few of my friends started reading it back in April, so I decided to join in by listening to the audiobook. I’m a sucker for almost any auto-biography or celebrity audiobook that is narrated by the author. Becoming definitely took me a while to listen to – at almost 20 hours in length, it took me over 6 weeks to get through it. This is also because I’m someone who has to be doing something while listening to audiobooks and even podcasts, most commonly when I’m walking or coloring. I also listened to a big chunk of this while unpacking from my college dorm room.

Audiobook listening strategies set aside, Becoming was just as good as everyone says it is! The book really provides Michelle Obama’s backstory before her husband was elected president of the United States. I really enjoyed listening to her time in college and when she first started working (which soon happened to include meeting Barack). It was so fascinating to learn that she never really wanted anything to do with politics and even after she finished serving as First Lady. Throughout, she includes many lessons and conversations surrounding race, education, work, family, and politics. It was interesting hearing about her time in the White House, although it did feel like more of the book dealt with her childhood and pre-First Lady days. I couldn’t help but love anytime she mentioned Lin Manuel-Miranda and her own love for Hamilton.Read More »

YA, ROM-COM, & THRILLER FEELS: April 2020 Mini Reviews

As per usual, my April reading was filled with contemporary books, but I did manage to squeeze in a thriller. Today I’ll be sharing my thought on a YA contemporary, a way-more-popular-than-I-thought thriller, and a recent contemporary romance.

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon 

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

youll-miss-me-when-im-gone-9781481497749_hrRachel Lynn Solomon’s You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone had been on my TBR for what feels like forever. Between my excitement for her upcoming release, Today Tonight Tomorrow, and my need to buy all the contemporary books, I decided to finally pick up a copy! You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone follows twin sisters, Tovah and Adina, who are not the best terms in the slightest bit. Having completely different personalities and passions (viola for Adina, science for Tovah), the two decide to take a genetic test to see if they test positive for Huntington’s Disease, which has wrecked their mother’s health over their high school careers. While one twin tests negative, the other tests positive.

I enjoyed You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone for its plot and focus on family and growth. I also enjoyed Rachel Lynn Solomon’s writing style and see myself diving into the rest of her books! This book is truly a growing up story, as Tovah and Adina are forced to reanalyze their plans for college and the future in light of what they learn from the test. I haven’t read a book before that featured a character with Huntington’s Disease, and I felt like I learned a lot. The book had really great and in-depth Jewish representation. Adina and Tovah’s family are conservative Jewish. While Tovah embraces her faith and traditions, Adina struggles to do so in light of all the hardship her and her family has experienced over the years.Read More »

Adult Romance & Contemporary Love: March 2020 Mini Reviews

I’ve actually done a pretty good job of writing full reviews for most of the books I’ve read so far in 2020. I’ll have more reviews coming in the next few weeks as more spring releases coming out, but today I’ll be sharing reviews that fall into slightly different adult fiction categories and are both well-read and much-loved: Christina Lauren’s Roomies and Chanel Cleeton’s Next Year in Havana.

Roomies by Christina Lauren

81Knrobp2wLMy Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

I’ve made it my recent mission to eat up as many Christina Lauren books as possible, which led me to Roomies. I feel like anyone and everyone was reading Roomies back when it came out in 2017, and I felt like it was finally time for me to pick it up! Plus, how could I not further delay a contemporary romance with an Irish male protagonist??

Roomies follows Holland Baker, an aspiring writer who makes too many excuses to stop at the subway station near her apartment to listen to her street-musician crush, Calvin. When Holland’s musical director of an uncle is in desperate need of a lead musician for his hit Broadway show, Holland gets Calvin an audition. The problem? Calvin is in the US illegally, since his student visa expired years ago. The solution? Holland marries the Irishman.

Roomies was such a light-hearted, rom-com journey for Holland and Calvin. While Holland is absolutely head-over-heels for Calvin from the get-go, this book is really about them finding their passion and love for one another. You better believe that the Irish girl that I am absolutely squealed out loud when Calvin gives Holland a gold claddaugh ring. The symbol- love, loyalty, and friendship- sums up their relationship! I also loved the little reminders that Calvin is Irish and has an accent,like  pronouncing “things” like “tings.” The book does take a while to really set the stage (no musical-puns intended) and get the plot going, but I really liked getting to know Holland her life. Yes, the marriage and romance (and yes, the romance scenes towards the end were so good!) are at its heart, but I loved Holland’s uncles and how they act as her support system. Many contemporary romance and Broadway lovers will especially enjoy Roomies’ settings, as it takes place in the NYC theater world. Holland, Calvin, and her uncle, Robert, have such a genuine love for music, and I loved seeing Holland embrace its place in her life even though she isn’t a musician. After finishing Roomies, I basically added all the Christina Lauren books I haven’t yet read to my TBR!Read More »