Review: Plain Bad Heroines

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from the publisher (William Morrow Books) in exchange for an honest review. 

This was such a unique read! 

The best part of this book was definitely the overall vibe and aesthetic. It had a slightly creepy and gothic feel that ran throughout the entire book, even the present day parts. There was also a fair amount of humor and satire that worked well with the gothic vibes and made for an interesting juxtaposition. 

The structure of the book was very clever. The story within a story element was well done and very engaging. I also liked the footnotes. They were very entertaining and added even more humor to the story.

The story started out very strong, but I was a little disappointed at the end. It didn’t live up to my expectations. I was expecting more of a big reveal or an “a-ha” moment. There are still some things that I am a little confused on. 

This book is classified by horror, but many other reviewers say they find it to be very light on horror. I agree with that and I would say that it is more of a gothic horror. The horror is more of a gothic creepiness than any sort of gore or violence. 

The book also has illustrations throughout the book which I found to be a nice touch. There is even a map of the school which made navigating the story easy. 

Overall, I enjoyed the aesthetic of this book the most. I recommend it if you’re looking for something a little different to read.


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Review: The Electric Kingdom

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Rating: ★★★★½

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Penguin Teen) for promotional purposes. 

Wow. This was such an interesting book (in a good way)! 

When I first started reading it, I was a little confused about what was going on. You get thrown into the world without much explanation. But as the book went on, it was all slowly revealed. 

I don’t want to give away too much about the plot, but I will say it is sort of circular and kind of trippy (if that makes any sense). It’s a book that you have to read for yourself. By the time I got to the end, my mind was blown. 

The writing style is so beautiful. It’s very lyrical and poetic at times, but also had a slightly haunting quality to it. 

This is also a book that would be great to reread. Since you don’t discover everything until the end, it would be fun to reread it and pick up on all the little clues woven throughout the story.

Lastly, it felt eerie reading this book during a pandemic. This book is about deadly flies and the flu they carry and it made me think about the situation we are in. 

Overall, this was a deep and thought provoking story. I really recommend it! 


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Review: Christmas Reunion in Paris

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Rating: ★★★★

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

This was a short and sweet romance set in France! 

First off, for such a short book, there was a lot of chemistry between the two main characters. Since this was a second chance romance, the characters already knew each other and had history. I enjoyed learning their backstory and seeing them get back together. 

Also, there was quite a bit of plot which I was happy about. Given the length, I wasn’t expecting too much to happen but I was pleasantly surprised with the storyline. 

The Christmas aspect was pretty minimal. The book takes place during winter/Christmastime but doesn’t have any super Christmasy scenes. So if you’re looking for a Christmas romance, this doesn’t quite hit that mark. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this second chance romance! If you’re looking for something quick to read this winter, then give this book a go! 


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Review: Loathe at First Sight

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Rating: ★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from Books Forward in exchange for an honest review. 

So first off, this book is Own Voices (Korean American). I was happy to see that since this book is about gaming, which is typically a white male dominated field. 

The title of the book is a little misleading. Loathe at First Sight implies that this is an enemies to lovers romantic comedy. In actuality, there was not much of that. The romantic storyline was not the main focus of the book and the two characters were hardly enemies to begin with. As a whole, the love story was not that exciting. I never really felt the chemistry between the two. 

One thing that took me as a surprise was all the harassment. This book has a lot of harassment. From racism to misogyny this book covered it all. On one hand I liked that it went there and tackled that issue. But on the other hand, it was a little off-putting at times because it was so heavy. The book tries to be light at times with some humorous scenes (I really liked some of funny scenes), but all the harassment takes away from it.

I did like the ending. It all worked out and a lot got resolved at the end so I was left feeling very satisfied. 

As for the writing style, I liked how easy the book read. 

Overall, this book didn’t live up to my expectations but I was able to enjoy some parts of it. 


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Review: The Shadows

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Rating: ★★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Celadon Books) in exchange for an honest review.

I just want to start off by saying that I haven’t read The Whisper Man so I cannot say how this book compares to that one. Because of that, I didn’t have any expectations going into the book. I ended up really enjoying it.

At first, I was a little hesitant to read this because I didn’t know how scary it was going to be. It ended up only being a little scary (at least to me). So if you’re a little bit of a scaredy cat like me, you should be able to handle this book.

The strongest part of this book was definitely the writing style. It was so effortless but still managed to create a creepy vibe. I liked the use of short chapters since it made the book easy to digest. There is some back and forth between past and present which was done really well. It wasn’t confusing at all since it was done in short spurts. I never felt like there was a huge information dump which can happen with dual timelines. 

My only critique of this book was the ending. I wasn’t wowed by it. I thought the reveal was going to be mind-blowing but it wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad ending. It just didn’t have the impact I was expecting. 

Overall, despite the ending, this was still a solid thriller. I would definitely recommend it. 


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Review: Anxious People

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Rating: ★★★★½

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Atria Books) in exchange for an honest review. 

This was my first book by Fredrik Backman and I was not disappointed. I didn’t have any expectations going in and this book ended up taking me for a ride. There were a lot of twists and turns that I did not see coming. I didn’t know that this book was a little bit of a mystery so I ended up being pleasantly surprised. 

The author’s insights into the human condition are so insightful. He really delves into the choices people make and what motivates them. He has a talent of saying so many poignant things in such an effortless way. I can definitely see why so many people love his books. 

The cast of characters were probably the best part of the book. They were idiots, but lovable idiots. I don’t have a favorite because I loved them all. They all had something about them that I found compelling. 

I loved how the story all came together. There are a lot of little random things that get mentioned, especially in the beginning, that you don’t quite know what to do with yet. But by the end, it all makes sense and there is that a-ha moment where everything falls into place. 

Overall, this book lives up to all the hype! 


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Review: The Summer Demands

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Rating: ★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (Catapult) in exchange for an honest review.

Going into this book, I was very excited to read it because loved the premise. It’s exactly the type of book I like to read. However, the execution left much to be desired. 

I didn’t become hooked into the book until about halfway through. That is when things got interesting due to an arrival of a new character. Once that happened, the book ended rather quickly. It felt like there could have been a lot more development in that second half. There was a lot of potential for things to get more complex. I was waiting for it to reach a breaking point, but it never did. 

When it came to the characters, I felt like the supporting ones were not fully fleshed out. For example, I never felt like I truly knew much about the main character’s husband, David, and how he felt during the whole thing. I expected there to be more tension surrounding him. 

As for the writing, I did like the prose. There was something special about it and it really helped set the tone and mood of the story. The prose also highlighted the mystique of the camp well. 

Overall, this book had a lot of potential but it ultimately fell flat. 


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Review: Catherine House

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Rating: ★★★★

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

I know not a lot of people liked this book, but I oddly liked it. It’s not going to be an all time favorite of mine, but I was satisfied with it. 

A lot of people say that nothing happens in the book and there is some merit to that. There are a lot of scenes that aren’t that important to the book because they are kind of mundane. To me, I liked those parts because it helped highlight what life was like at the school. The school is the core of the book, so those parts were necessary. 

Speaking of the school, the author did a tremendous job giving Catherine House a voice and personality. Catherine House was a character itself. 

As for the ending, I liked it. It was a little ambiguous which I typically don’t like, but for this book it worked. The book is mysterious and I liked that it kept that element through the end. 

I really liked the writing style. There was something about it that pulled me deeper and deeper into the story. It was haunting and mesmerizing.

One critique I have is that the book didn’t do a good job explaining plasm. I still don’t fully understand that part. I understand what it is generally, but don’t grasp how it works.

Overall, this book will not be for everyone, so I recommend you read it for yourself and see what you think! 


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Review: Say Say Say

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Rating: ★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (Knopf Publishing Group).

I was very excited to read this book because the prose is compared to Sally Rooney (who I love) but it didn’t live up to my expectations. 

The main issue I had was that the prose is incredibly wordy. Usually I don’t take issue with that, but this novel went overboard with it. A lot of the wording would end up being awkward and hard to read. 

For example, there was one part that ended up being (unintentionally) casually racist. When talking about a high school friend, the main character states:

“Dai had spoken perfect unaccented English, but Ella had known that his family still spoke Vietnamese at home…Ella felt him watching her absorb the foreignness of his house, the unfamiliar food smells…”

pg 118

This could have been worded differently so that it could have avoided using the perpetual foreigner Asian stereotype. I get that she was trying to paint a picture of how different his house was, but there’s a way to say that without falling back on stereotypes. 

This book wasn’t all bad. I did find that it explored the life of a caregiver in a very interesting and thought provoking way. It was very intimate. 

Also, every once in a while, the wordiness would pay off, and something profound would be said. One line that stuck with me was

“She believed if she looked at it squarely, her own shoulder would throb unbearably, that his suffering might be contagious, that there might not be any cure, that she would leave his house, return to her ordinary life, and suddenly find she could no longer lift the knowledge that Alix would one day die, that Ella would, too, her shoulder would strain against this once-manageable dread, mirroring the weeping of Bryn’s wound”

pg 89

Overall, this book had some good parts, but ultimately just didn’t resonate enough with me. 


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Review: Big Summer

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Rating: ★★★½

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher (Atria Books) and a finished copy from BookSparks for promotional purposes.

I went into this book pretty blind which I think is the ideal way to read this book. The book description doesn’t give a whole lot of information. The only thing I really knew about this book was that it had a lot of unexpected twists and turns. That is 100% true. I can truthfully say that I did not see any of it coming. 

I found the pacing of the book to be a bit off. It gets off to a really slow start. It didn’t capture my interest until around page 90. There were a lot of flashbacks in the beginning that I felt slowed the book down. Fast forward to the last 90 pages, and that was incredibly fast paced. 

My favorite character was actually Drue. She reminded me a lot of Fallon Carrington from the CW’s reboot of the show, Dynasty. They had similar personalities to an extent. 

As for the plot, I still don’t quite know if I liked it or not. It was fun because it was unexpected, but at the same time I didn’t love it. 

Overall, I do recommend this book because of the unexpected surprises. It makes for a fun reading experience. This is not your typical summer beach read, so if you’re looking for something a little different, try it out! 


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