Review: Dead Girls

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Rating: ★★

I received this book for free as part of an Instagram tour (TLC Book Tours specifically) I did to promote the book.

Despite the title, this isn’t really a book about dead girls. It’s more a book about girls in pop culture, but also a book about the author’s experiences in LA. However, even that doesn’t seem to adequately describe this book. It’s kind of just a collection of essays that are very loosely connected. 

Basically, I felt a bit confused by this collection. The essays themselves were sometimes very interesting, but there just wasn’t a strong enough theme to connect them all together. 

Also, some of the essays themselves were a little disjointed. For example, “The Daughter as Detective,” started out as an essay about a book series her dad liked, then ended up discussing whether her father could possibly have Asperger’s syndrome. Not at all where I thought it was going to go. 

I did like some of the essays, like “Lonely Heart” which explores Britney Spears. I was also happy to see Lana Del Rey mentioned, since she alludes to the dead girl trope a lot in her music. However, I wish the book went deeper into her. The 3 page analysis of her was not sufficient. 

Lastly, the final essay, “Accomplices,” was a mess. I was ready to give this book 3 stars and then I read this essay and had to drop it to 2. I just didn’t get it. It was very long, seemed to try to cover too much, and didn’t really touch upon dead girls at all. It felt more like an afterthought. 

Overall, a few well-written essays can’t save this jumbled collection. 

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Review: Faker

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from the publisher (Berkley Publishing) in exchange for an honest review.

I was so excited to read this book because it is an own voices book written by a biracial Filipino American woman. As some of you may know, I too am a biracial Filipino American woman. I knew I had to read this book because representation matters!

All in all, I found this to be a cute romance. 

I loved Tate. Despite his tough exterior, he was such a softie and a generous lover. I loved that he put female pleasure first. Speaking of pleasure, I really liked the sex scenes. 

One of things I really liked was the communication between Emmie and Tate. Many times in contemporary romances there will be miscommunications and misunderstandings between the main characters and they will go their separate ways and sulk for a week instead of talking through it. In this book, the characters will almost immediately talk about the situation, which I find more realistic. 

This book does get comparisons to The Hating Game by Sally Thorne because of the workplace enemies-to-lovers trope. I have read that book, but it was a while ago so I don’t remember much. Because of that, I can’t speak to their similarities. 

As for the Filipino representation, I enjoyed seeing lit bits of Filipino culture like Illocano words and Filipino food. I was also happy to see Emmie talk about being darker skinned and how that has impacted her. There is also a lot of talk about Hawaii, since Emmie grew up on the Big Island. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am so happy to finally see some Filipino rep in romance! 

Review: The Last Collection

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from the publisher (Berkley Publishing) in exchange for an honest review.

This was a really fascinating book. It combined pre-WWII and WWII historical fiction with the cut throat world of haute couture fashion. It took me a little longer to get interested in it, but once I was, I was hooked! 

Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli are two very intriguing women and this book does a great job showcasing their legendary rivalry. As the author writes, “Men who persist in the belief that women are soft, sentimental creatures have never worked in the fashion industry” (pg. 134). 

The added backdrop of WWII created even more drama between the two. I liked that the book did not shy away from Coco’s affair with a famous Nazi. 

The novel utilizes a third party, Lily Sutter, to highlight the complexities of both women. Lily ends up befriending and spending time with both of them and in doing so, we are shown a more intimate view of these two remarkable women. 

Lastly, there was a really wonderful quote about fashion as a means of resistance. The book states, “Dressing well is resistance, revenge, pride, a form of control over forces trying to control us. That’s why, when taken prisoner, he first thing your enemy takes is that outer layer of your identity and independence: your clothes. That is why prisoners are put in identical uniforms. They no longer exist as individuals” (pg. 274). 

Overall, this is an enthralling portrait of two headstrong fashion designers in the years leading up to World War II. 

Review: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received this book for free from the publisher (Berkley Publishing) in exchange for an honest review.

I absolutely loved this book! It was everything!

To start, I obviously loved the bookish aspect of it. Like chapter sixteen, when she describes her bookshelves….just wow. This book perfectly captured what it’s like to be a bookworm. It’s like a giant love letter to all of us. 

Interspersed between chapters are daily planner templates that Nina fills out each day. Not only were those super cute, but they were very insightful and offered an interesting glimpse into the mind of Nina. 

This book was also hilarious. There were some funny situations and Nina has a unique sense of humor that I loved. 

I also enjoyed the family aspect. One storyline was Nina discovering who her father was (he recently died and Nina was contacted in regards to his will) and meeting her numerous relatives. I loved her interactions with her family and how she was able to develop a bond with them. It was very heartwarming to see.

The supporting characters were awesome as well. There was an interesting collection of people and personalities. I especially loved the elementary school girls in Nina’s book club. They were adorable and funny! 

Lastly, the trivia tidbits were so fun! I loved reading the random trivia facts that get thrown around by various characters, including Nina herself. 

Overall, if you consider yourself a bookworm, then read this book!

Review: Escape from the Isle of the Lost (Descendants #4)

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Rating: ★★★★★

I bought this book a few weeks ago, but when I heard about Cameron Boyce’s (who plays Carlos in the movies) passing, I knew I just had to read it now. My heart ached every time I came across Carlos in the book. Carlos is such a precious character and from what I hear, Cameron was an amazing person off-screen. 

Like the other book in this series, this book was a lot of fun. These books aren’t meant to be much more than a marketing and promotional tool and I am 100% okay with that. I just love seeing more of the characters and their lives! 

This book does a nice job setting up the new characters of Hades and Celia. It also shows what Uma has been up to since we last saw her at the end of Descendants 2. I’m very excited to see what they’ll all do in the third movie. 

As always, I love the little Disney references throughout the book. For example, I loved the names of the colleges like Agrabah State University, Magical Institute Training (MIT), and Sherwood Forest University. Students even have to take the SAT (Salagadoola Abracadabra Test). How clever! 

Overall, if you’re a Disney Descendants fan, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this book. 

Review: Love Looks Pretty On You

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Rating: ★★★★

I’m such a huge fan of Lang Leav so when I saw this book, I just had to buy it! 

I always love how organized Lang’s collections are. She knows how to come up with with an overarching theme and how to follow it. She never tries too hard to make her poems fit into the theme. That is very true with this collection. It was effortless the way the poems came together to convey her message. 

However, for some reason, there was something missing from this collection. I can’t quite place it, but it was lacking something. It could be because some of the pieces didn’t have titles so it felt slightly incomplete. 

That being said, I still enjoyed it and had a ton of favorites. Some of them were:

  • Someone else (pg. 17)
  • Vultures (pg. 29) 
  • Regrets (pg. 35)
  • Idols (pg. 45) 
  • Your Right to Love (pg. 47)
  • Too Young (pg. 61)
  • I Had You (pg. 71)
  • The Friendship Bond (pg. 75)
  • Flowers (pg. 93)
  • Saltwater (pg. 107)
  • Shut Out (pg. 113)
  • Anxiety (pg. 153)
  • Obsession (pg. 155)
  • Sunday Afternoon (pg. 177)
  • Something Else (pg. 181)
  • Write for Yourself (pg. 193)
  • Springtime (pg. 205)

Overall, this was a wonderful collection of poetry! 

Review: Serene

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Rating: ★★★½

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

This was such an interesting and unique read. I’ve never read anything quite like it before. 

At the beginning I was super into this book. I found it mesmerizing in an odd but good way. I loved the scenes with the parties and New York night life. It had such a cool vibe and was an intriguing blend of fantasy and high society. However, once the book got into the more spiritual stuff it kind of lost me for a bit. Don’t get me wrong, it was interesting but there was just so much of it. The characters were constantly globe trotting from place to place and it got repetitive at times. The cool vibe I got from the beginning was gone.

As for the characters, I loved the love interest, James. His character was so fascinating. Like the way he was described was so beautiful. The book states, “His voice, like a drop of sepia in water, as if he came from several generations of opera singers that had all committed suicide” (pg. 7). I wish he was in it more and that we got to know more about him and his life. It was touched upon but there could have been more. 

Overall, this is a unique read. If you’re looking for something different to read, definitely try this book out.