March Wrap Up

March was a pretty good reading month for me. I had a lot of 4 star reads and my first 5 star read of 2021! There were a few books this month that really took me a lot longer to read than normal. I also had a couple that I tore through in one sitting. I mostly kept within my comfort zone this month when it comes to genres and that may have lead me into the slump that I’ve been dealing with at the beginning of April. Let me know if any of these books are your favorites!


Shipped by Angie Hockman

This book is pitched as The Unhoneymooners meets The Hating Game which is what initially drew me to it. Unfortunately this book didn’t do either the beach getaway/forced proximity of The Unhoneymooners or the coworkers hate-to-love tropes of The Hating Game nearly as well. While I did find this book to be sweet and fun, I read this book at the beginning of March and I can’t remember anything about it other than the fact that the main characters go on a cruise. I initially gave this book 4 stars, but I think now that I have sat with it, it’s more of a 3 star.

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟


Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

My Goodreads review for this book is just “oof, but in a good way” and that still sums up my feelings about this book. This was one of the stories that I tore through extremely quickly. This book speaks candidly about grooming and abuse within the entertainment industry. This is super important to shed light on, especially within the YA format. In this story, the main character, Enchanted, gets swept up into the entertainment industry by a powerful R&B star. With the promise of her own recording career being dangled over her head, she is easily taken in by this man. While I do think that the pacing of this book was a bit strange, overall the message is super important for teens to read.

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟½


Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

I have a more in-depth review about my feelings here. But this was my first 5-star read of 2021. 👀

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

This was the March pick for my book club and although it was pretty universally liked, we also didn’t have much to say about it. I thought that the concept was a fresh take on the idea of purgatory. It was an easy and enjoyable read and supplied some valuable commentary about living with regrets. While it did deal with some death and mental health issues, it did so tastefully. The ending wrapped itself up in a nice bow and overall this book did what it set out to do.

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟


When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

I really wanted to love this one. The concept was so intriguing. It’s pitched as “Rear Window meets Get Out” and while this story had elements from both films, it failed to execute them in a successful way. The pacing of this book was very strange. The first 2/3 was extremely slow with a romance that was shoehorned in. The male lead made my skin crawl. I felt as though he was fetishizing Sydney and using performative allyship to try to earn her trust. I do think that Sydney’s comments about his eagerness to be seen as trustworthy is a stirring commentary about performative activism. While I really liked this concept, the story suffered because of the strange pacing. The ending happened all at once and I found myself wanting more from it. There was a lot of set up that felt unneccessary but at the same time there were lot of plot holes that needed more explanation.

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟


These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

I chose to read this book mainly because the cover was beautiful. I know, I know, don’t judge a book by its cover. But it’s so pretty! I did put myself into a reading slump after this one though. I loved the world building and the descriptions of the setting. I thought that 1920s Shanghai really came to life. If this were adapted into a Netflix series, I would be the first one to watch it because I think the visuals are stunning. I just didn’t care about either of the main characters. I understand that the “Romeo and Juliet” aspect of it all hinges on miscommunication but oh my gosh? Just talk to each other? Fantasy continues to not be my thing and I keep trying YA fantasy hoping that it’ll be a little easier for me to digest. I have concluded that I can digest it fine, I just don’t like it. And the ending? If you know, you know, but wow I was pissed. I don’t see myself reading the sequel but I do want to know how it ends. 🤷🏻‍♀️

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟


Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Taylor Jenkins Reid has done it again. One of my favorite books that I read in 2020 was The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and it has become clear to me that I live for celebrity drama. While I do think that Evelyn Hugo does it a bit better, I tore through this book in one sitting. The coming-of-age story mixed with the drama of 1960s Hollywood was the perfect storm for me. I wanted to give this story 5 stars up until the very end. The ending was soooo rushed. There was so much time spent with these characters while they were in the band that the ending felt like an afterthought. It felt like a promo for “Where Are They Now?” but we never got the full episode . We only get one paragraph about Daisy and all of her successes after the band and I felt like she deserved a bit more than that.

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟


The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

“A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them.” A hell of a tag line. I will admit that the idea of this apothecary was too fun to pass up. While I enjoyed the story set in 1791, I was a bit bored with the story that takes place during present day. I was expecting more from the actual apothecary story and less time spent dealing with Caroline’s super shitty husband. The parallels were definitely there with the two stories, but there was some clunkiness that could have been ironed out.

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟


What a month. And what a slump I’ve been in since! Please send me some recommendations because my reading in April is so so dry. Did you love any of these books? Did you hate any of these books? Let me know! And thanks for reading. 📚

Book Review: Act Your Age, Eve Brown

Finally! My most anticipated release of 2021 is here! Act Your Age, Eve Brown is the penultimate book in Talia Hibbert’s the Brown Sisters series. The Brown Sisters series is my favorite contemporary romance series for a number of reasons. Gone are the stereotypical romance leads! The self-insert, not-like-other-girls, Bella Swan archetype is nowhere to be found in the Brown Sisters series and I couldn’t be happier. Hibbert features women who are plus sized, differently abled, and bisexual. By featuring women who don’t fall into the stereotypical romance box, Act Your Age, Eve Brown is refreshingly unique while still delivering on all of the steamy and sweet moments a romance needs.


What’s it about?

Eve Brown cannot hold a job to save her life. Bouncing between professions in the hospitality sphere, her particular brand of destruction causes an expensive wedding to go awry, finally forcing her parents to cut her off financially. Eve is determined to prove to her parents that she is grown, so when the bed and breakfast down the road needs a head chef, Eve seems to have found the perfect solution.

Enter Jacob Wayne. Bed and Breakfast owner, Jacob, can tell with one interview that Eve’s chaos does not mesh with his perfectionism. Until she hits him with her car. Desperate for help at his B&B, he reluctantly takes on Eve for the head chef position while his injuries heal.

Eve’s unpredictability grate on Jacob, her every move irritating him. Eve’s sunshine personality and Jacob’s calculated nature make for the perfect hate-to-love romance.


Review

This review will contain spoilers

Eve is everything I want in a main character. She is a little weird, she is smart, and determined to prove herself. Eve goes through life without caring what other people think. With bold purple hair and loud t-shirts, she stands out from other romance heroines. My favorite thing about this story is that the romance is central to the plot, but it’s not the only thing going on. Eve is on a mission to find herself and what she wants more so than finding a man. It just so happens that while she finds herself, she also is able to connect with Jacob.

Jacob and Eve bond through their idiosyncrasies which is something that I haven’t seen a ton of in contemporary romance. I love that both Jacob and Eve appreciate each other’s quirks and they are able to understand each other and love each other through them.

I love how this book spoke about autism and being on the autistic spectrum. Jacob opens the story by letting both Eve and the reader know that he is autistic. Both Eve and Jacob’s best friend love him for all of him and are understanding of his quirks. One of my favorite parts of the book was when a rival restaurateur is kind of ribbing Jacob and giving him a hard time by calling him “Spock.” Eve calls him on it without making a scene and while still showing her support for Jacob. This support no matter what really was the foundation of their relationship and I loved this interaction.

Overall I just think that this book had the perfect balance between sweet moments, steamy moments, and plot points. I loved Jacob and Eve together and I also loved the little cameos from the other Brown sisters. I can’t wait to dive into Talia Hibbert’s backlist and see what else she has to offer!

Check out this beautiful photo of the Brown Sisters series by @chula.is.reading.romance on Instagram!

Rating

I mean do I even need to say it?

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This was my first 5 star read of 2021! I can see this book becoming one that I re-read every year.

February Wrap Up

February was a weird reading month for me. I started out with the idea to read my boyfriend’s books. Instead of reading just romance books all through February for Valentine’s Day, I wanted to read books that my boyfriend liked or that he chose. While I think that it was a fun way to connect, he definitely has different taste than me. It was just reading slump after reading slump. I eventually dropped the theme of reading only his books in order to get back into the reading vibe. I think that after such a strong January, I just got a bit bogged down in all the numbers. I also think that all of the books I read during February were just ok. I didn’t really have any 4 or 5 stars which was discouraging. But! I will say that March is already off to a better start. Here are the books that I read in February and my thoughts.


The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

This book is one of those books that always gets referenced. I decided to read it just because it was on my shelf and I was mildly curious about it. It was one of those things where I wasn’t particularly excited about my next read (especially after reading The Vanishing Half) so I just grabbed a book that was there. This is one of my boyfriend’s books and so the best part of reading this was that I could talk to him about it. I will say that Oscar Wilde’s writing is beautiful but definitely wordy. I found that the audiobook really saved me with the reading experience and was the main reason I was able to get through it.

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟


The Day Boy and the Night Girl by George MacDonald

This is another one of my boyfriend’s favorites and I really enjoyed reading this. This is a short and sweet fairy tale about an evil witch that raises two children separately. She raises the boy to only wake during the day and to fear the night, while she raises the girl to only wake during the night and to fear the day. This story follows the children as they meet each other and learn not to fear the unknown. I think that this was a nice pick me up after the Picture of Dorian Gray.

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟


Outlawed by Anna North

As someone who never reads westerns, this was surprisingly palatable. While I felt that this story was fun and definitely outside my comfort zone, I found the ending extremely dissatisfying and rushed. I really enjoyed how the author addressed nonbinary characters and bisexual characters. The way that she mentioned that the Kid is nonbinary and then just treated them like the rest of the cast without harping on their identity was a really fresh take for me. I felt the same way about how she addressed Lark’s bisexuality. A queer feminist western was something that I didn’t know I needed but that I really enjoyed.

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟


Pet Sematary by Stephen King

For a full review, check out my blog post about this boy!
This was the last book that I buddy read with my boyfriend this month and while I think that Stephen King is definitely a good writer, I don’t know if his content is for me.

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟


The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

So I definitely read this to get me out of the reading slump that Pet Sematary put me in. I was hoping to love this and I just didn’t. I thought it was fine but kind of forgettable. The only thing I remember about this plot 2 weeks after reading, was that the main character has an abusive ex. I do think that the depictions of manipulation and emotional abuse were handled really well, however the relationship between our two romantic leads was lackluster for me.

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟


High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

This was the February pick for my book club and let me tell you! This was divisive. The main character of this book is a sexist sadboy loser who can’t figure out why everyone in his life doesn’t live up to the ideal versions of them that he created in his head. While I think that Nick Hornby’s writing was really well done, the main character was soooo insufferable. If I didn’t have to speak about this in book club, I would have DNF’d it. I do think that after a bit of time, the story grew on me but the main character Rob just deserves every bad thing that happens to him. At one point it turned into me hate-reading this in order to see all the bad decisions that Rob would make.

My Rating: 🌟🌟


A Pho Love Story by Loan Le

This was my biggest disappointment of the month. This story had all the potential to be very sweet but the writing itself fell flat for me. The two main characters are a boy and a girl who each work at their families’ competing restaurants. This book was told through dual narratives in first person, but because our main characters were so similar, the first person narratives would blend together and I would forget which narrator was speaking. I also think that this book read very young. I know that this is a YA romance, but these characters seemed to read more closely to 14 or 15 as opposed to 18. The story was sweet but the narration and the writing lost me. Typically I can read a YA romance in one or two sittings, but this one took me nearly a week just because I wasn’t excited to pick it up.

My Rating: 🌟🌟½ (just because I couldn’t put this in the same category as High Fidelity)


February was such a weird reading month. I am hopeful that I will actually like what I read in March. I do have a couple that I am very excited about like Act Your Age, Eve Brown and The Midnight Library. I also already have a 4 star read for March so things are looking up!

The Best Book I Never Read: Pet Sematary

Stephen King. One of the world’s best selling authors. And up until recently, I had no interest in reading any of his works.

I’m starting a new series on my blog featuring well known authors or books that I have never read. Will they live up to the hype? Or will I banish them to a 1-star rating on my Goodreads page? Only time will tell.

I think Stephen King is a worthy adversary for my first go at The Best Book I Never Read. Everyone, from my dad to my favorite YouTuber, has seemingly read at least one King book. Even I have reluctantly seen a few of his movie adaptations (but why is The Shining so boring??). I wanted to know what all the hype was about so I dug in to Pet Sematary.


Summary

In Pet Sematary, Dr. Louis Creed moves to Ludlow, Maine for a new job. Louis and his family can’t wait to get settled into their picturesque old home. But the trucks on the road in front of their house turn the corner just a little too fast, taking some of the neighborhood pets for road kill. The pets are laid to rest in the “Pet Sematary” in the woods near Louis’s home. But after a few visits to the Pet Sematary, Louis begins to hear warnings from both his neighbors and his nightmares about the secrets buried with the pets.


The Reading Experience

I chose Pet Sematary because the tagline “sometimes, dead is better” got me hooked. The autobiographical nature of the story intrigued me as well. The Author’s Note where King talks about the similarities between his move to Maine and Louis’s, down to the dead cat, reaffirmed my curiosity. It was also readily available at the library in both e-reader and audiobook format which made the decision even easier. I roped my boyfriend into buddy reading it with me which was a great way to bond with him as well as complain about the main character if I needed to.

I started off by listening to the audiobook which was narrated by Michael C. Hall (any Dexter fans out there?).

His narration was incredible. I hated the main character but Michael C. Hall’s narration kept me going because he gave life to Louis where I otherwise would’ve been bored.

About halfway through, I resigned myself to reading on my e-reader because I knew I could read faster with my eyes than I could listening. I think that the audiobook was the right way to get me intrigued and then switching to my e-reader helped me speed read through until the end.


Review

This review will contain spoilers.
This book was the definition of slow burn. King really spends his time planting little seeds of doubt in our main character’s mind which I found a little repetitive. Throughout the book, Louis is constantly thinking about the pet sematary (as the sign in the graveyard has spelled it) but rarely does he do anything about it. The entire first 80% of the book dragged a bit for me. There was also a lot of unnecessary sexism and racism that nearly had me put the book down for good. The way that Louis spoke about his wife and one of the doctors at his work was off-putting and unnecessary for the rest of the story. I did have to remind myself that this book was published in the early 80s and was most likely a product of its time. The ending though made me understand why people read Stephen King.

The body horror was described in such a way that I felt as though I could sense these grotesque monsters in my home, much like Louis did in the first part of the novel. Louis’s slow descent into madness after his son dies is drawn out in such a way that I could understand how he convinced himself to try to resurrect the boy. I think if this book had been about 100 pages shorter, I would have liked it a lot more.

The zombie cat really reaffirmed my stance as a dog person.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


Overall I think that Stephen King is a great writer. The way that he describes both physical horror and psychological horror is unmatched. However, I do think that he suffers a bit when it comes to pacing. Sometimes you just need to spit it out man! I also think that this book is a sign of the times and I would hope that his more recent books don’t have such degrading language regarding women and people of color.

Would I read another Stephen King book? Maybe. While I didn’t love Pet Sematary, I do understand why people love his writing and this story was certainly unique.

Got any suggestions for me to tackle? Let me know!