Review: From Hollywood with Love

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (William Morrow) for promotional purposes. 

I absolutely love romantic comedy movies. It is one of my favorite movie genres so I was pretty excited to read this. This book was everything I hoped for and more.

This book explores the history of romantic comedies, starting with When Harry Met Sally and ending with To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. Each chapter is dedicated to a different movie, with an essay in between exploring different rom-com actors. 

The selection of movies and actors were a good mix. I liked that it discussed non-white rom-coms (Waiting To Exhale) and rom-coms about older women (Something’s Gotta Give). 

I was also happy that the book dove into how problematic Hollywood can be. In discussing the Oscars So White controversy, the author writes, “this long standing bias reflected the type of loves stories the Academy deemed worthy of serious consideration…It raises a question Hollywood still hasn’t seriously reckoned with: Do critics and voters like the best stories, or the ones that out comfortingly reflects their own lives?” (pgs. 77-78). I found that question deeply intriguing and it brings up a very important point on the biases prevalent in the film industry. It’s a question that spans across all movie genres and not just romantic comedies. 

The author’s writing style was so accessible and easy to read. Sometimes nonfiction can be dry, but this book was like reading a magazine article. 

The book was also incredibly well researched. Every chapter is filled with so much information on the history and background of the movie, as well as fun trivia. The author includes a Notes section at the end with the citations to all his research. 

Lastly, The illustrations at the beginning of each chapter were adorable and a very cute touch. 

Overall, I loved this look into the world of Hollywood romantic comedies. If you are a fan of the movie genre, you have to read this book! 


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Review: The Girl Who Drank the Moon

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Rating: ★★★★

I received copy of this book for free from the publisher (Algonquin Young Readers) for promotional purposes.

This was such a whimsical and enchanting read! The story was full of magic and wonder. It’s not a surprise this book won a Newbery Medal. It reminded me of the fantasy books I read as child. 

The characters were also a standout. I particularly liked the supporting characters of Glerk, the swamp monster, and Fyrian, the tiny dragon. They added a lot of heart to the story. 

The best part of this book was the writing style. It was so beautifully written. The prose flowed so lyrically; it had a poetic quality to it that added to the magic of the story.  

My one critique was that the book moved at a slow pace, especially in the beginning. It took a while for the story to take off. 

My edition was the Gift Edition which included a full color map, chapter opening illustrations, and a bonus prequel story.  As with all fantasy books, the map was very helpful and made the story easy to follow. The illustrations were cute and I enjoyed the prequel story that offered more insight into Xan, the witch. 

Overall, this was a spellbinding middle grade fantasy! I recommend this book to both young readers and adults. 


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Review: Fake

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Rating: ★★★★½

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (Harper Books) for promotional purposes. 

I previously read the author’s debut book, The Boys’ Club, and loved it, so I knew I just had to read this one. Once again, I was not disappointed! 

Like her previous novel, this one is highly engaging. From the very beginning it takes you on a roller coaster of a ride through the glamorous world of high art. 

The storyline unraveled at a steady pace. The use of the interview transcripts at the beginning of each chapter were a great foreshadowing tool. The book was a little predictable towards the end, but it was still an entertaining read. 

The characters are all fascinating and dynamic. I particularly liked the juxtaposition of Emma’s three friends, Sienna, Leah, and Jules. It was interesting to see her friend dynamic with each of them since they all came from different art backgrounds. 

I enjoyed the theme of being a “fake” and how it was explored throughout the book. I liked how the book incorporated being an Instagram influencer. I found its portrayal of what is “real” and what is “fake” to be so relevant and current. 

Overall, I found this book to be an enthralling read. I can’t wait to see what the author comes up with next!


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Review: Kneel

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Rating: ★★★★½

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher (Inkyard Press) for promotional purposes. 

I want to preface this review by stating that I’ve been a huge Colin Kaepernick since the beginning (the 49ers are my team) and I have always supported his peaceful protest of kneeling during the national anthem. I was very excited to read this book inspired by Kaepernick’s protest. I was not disappointed! 

The storyline felt very real. It depicted the racism and injustice black people face every day in a very nuanced way. It did a fantastic job highlighting the internal struggle of deciding whether or not to speak out. Taking a stand, or in this case, kneeling, has both positive and negative consequences, and this book dove right into the complexity of it all. It really made you think. 

The characters were also well done. They felt multi-dimensional and helped move the story along. For example, Russell’s parents showcased the dichotomy between wanting what’s best for your kid and letting your kid choose what they want to do. Russell’s dad in particular, was not happy about Russell’s kneeling because he knew it would mess up Russell’s chances of getting a football scholarship. On the other hand, Russell wanted to follow his heart and stick up for his friend. This felt so realistic because it’s understandable that a parent would want their kid to stay silent in order to have a better future. 

My only critique of the book is that I would have liked the end to have been developed a bit more. A lot happened in the last 50 pages and I wanted to see it debriefed more. 

Overall, this is an important and timely read. It shows exactly why Black Lives Matter and why the movement is calling for change. I highly recommend this book! 


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Review: A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received copy of this book for free from the publisher as part of an Instagram book tour I did to promote the book. 

This was the cutest Christmas story ever! It was an absolute Christmas dream. Everything from the setting to the characters was Christmas perfection. 

The fictional country of Tolvania was essentially a Christmas village come to life. It was Christmas central. The country had tree lightings, caroling, and even a Christmas crown! I wish it was a real place. 

I loved all the characters, especially the queen. She was such a cool queen and I loved her approach to ruling and how much she cared for her family. The Prince’s daughter, Princess Anna, was also a highlight. She was adorable and had a lot of spunk. 

I will admit this book is very light on plot. The majority of the book is the main character experiencing the various Christmas traditions of Tolvania. That being said, it was still fun and entertaining to read. There is some (predictable) drama at the end to keep things interesting. 

Lastly, I loved the bonus content at the end that included recipes and instructions for crafts that were featured in the story. Bonus content like this is always fun. 

Overall, this was a charming and feel good Christmas read. If you ever need to get into the Christmas spirit, read this book! 


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Mao, Vol. 3 (Mao #3)

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Rating: ★★★★½

I received a copy of this book for free for promotional purposes.

This was another solid installment in the series. 

This installment had more backstory than the previous volumes which I felt slowed down the pace of the book a little. A good chunk took place in Mao’s past and we learned more about his early days.  

Like the previous volume, this one unveiled even more about the story and the characters, including details on how Mao and Nanoka are connected. It is shaping up to be a very intriguing read! 

Overall, I really enjoyed this volume and am looking forward to the upcoming volumes. So far, this series has been full of action and mystery, with things coming together at a steady pace. If you’re looking to read a new manga series, consider starting this one (just keep in mind that all the volumes are not yet available in English yet). 


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Review: Mao, Vol. 2 (Mao #2)

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free for promotional purposes.

This volume was so good!

This installment was jam packed with action. So much happened and I enjoyed every page of it. There was a lot of world building that helped move the story along. I liked that more of the story was revealed in this volume. The first volume did not explain much and I was a little confused about the world. This volume provided some answers and got me hooked. I have to know what happens next. 

This volume also made me love the main characters. Mao is so intriguing and mysterious. I’m excited to learn more about him and his past. Nanoka is turning out to be quite the heroine! Also, Mao’s assistant, Otoya, is so adorable. 

Overall, I loved this volume and cannot wait to read volume 3! 


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Review: Mao, Vol. 1 (Mao #1)

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Rating: ★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free for promotional purposes. 

This was such a good start to the series!

I haven’t read a manga in a long time so it was nice to finally be able to read one again. I haven’t read anything from Rumiko Takahashi, so I can’t say how this compares to her other books. 

The art style is very simple, but classic. There’s something a little old school and retro about it that I liked. 

As for the storyline, I was very intrigued by it. It’s fast paced and there’s a lot of mystery and fantasy action and adventure that kept me turning the pages.

Overall, I really enjoyed this volume and am excited to read the next installment and see how the rest of the story unfolds. 


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Review: A Girl Like You

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Rating: ★★★★

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

I was very excited to read this book because 1) the main character has my name and 2) I  have ventured also into the crazy world of dating apps. All in all, it was a very fun read.

Even though I am only 26 and the main character is in her 50’s, I related a lot to Jessica and her adult children when it came to online dating. I’ve been on my fair share of dating apps so I know how wild and frustrating it can be. The book really highlighted the range of people and experiences you can run into on dating apps. 

I also found it refreshing to read about a woman in 50’s dating and having (hot) sex. You don’t see that in very many novels. When it comes to books about women dating, the main characters are usually in their 20’s or 30’s. 

I enjoyed how short the chapters were. It kept the book moving at a fast pace. 

However, the ending could have been fleshed out more. It ended a little abruptly. The story was going and then something major happened (I won’t give any spoilers about what happened, but I will say it was something super relatable and sad) and then the book ended quickly after that. 

Overall, this was an amusing read. If you’re looking for something light and sometimes steamy (it does get explicit at times), consider reading this book! 


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Review: Tidesong

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Rating: ★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free as part of an Instagram book tour (Storygram Tours) I did to promote the book.

This was such a cute graphic novel! 

I’ve read Mooncakes, which is another graphic novel the author co-wrote, and loved it so I knew I needed to read this one. 

The artwork was of course amazing. The art was very adorable and was appropriate for the middle grade audience of this book. Additionally, the font was super readable. It was one of the clearest and most legible fonts I’ve come across in a comic book or graphic novel. Fun fact: the font is actually the author’s handwriting that was turned into a font. 

Sophie was a relatable character. I can see many kids relating to her struggles to learn magic and her feelings of failure.

I found the storyline to be very basic. I know this is middle grade, but the plot could have been more fleshed out. For example, the magic system between the witches and dragons could have been explored more. Also, the beginning of the book happened so fast. Sophie was on the train to her relatives super quickly with very little background information. 

Overall, I recommend this book to readers of all ages who love magic, witches, or dragons. This book also makes a great gift because it is a gorgeous hardcover! 


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