Review: Counterfeit

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Rating: ★★★★★

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

This was such a fun and clever story! 

First off, I have always loved luxury goods, especially handbags so the premise of this book was right up my alley. 

Plot-wise, the twist halfway through was so smart and I did not see it coming. As soon as I got to the twist, I thought to myself, “This book is brilliant.” I won’t say much about the twist but I will say that it kept the book interesting. 

I enjoyed the author’s writing style. It’s very effortless and flows well. It made the book an easy and smooth read. 

The book also had some relatable quotes about being Asian American. For example at one point Ava reflects, “Asian families are different from white families. We don’t talk the way you all do. I mean, we talk, of course we talk, but not about our fears, our pain, our deepest, darkest secrets” (pg. 211). As an Asian American I find this quote to be so true. My (Asian) family talks, but it’s definitely not anything deep or soul searching. There is a lot of repression happening. 

I found that this book would make a great movie. I hope it gets adapted one day because the luxury handbag aspect would make for a very stylish film. 

Overall, I recommend this book to readers who love designer bags. Also, it gave me some Crazy Rich Asians vibes, so if you like that book, you’ll probably like this one. 


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Review: Darling Girl

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Rating: ★★★★★

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

Wow! What a book! This was a dark retelling/reimagining of Peter Pan that managed to creep me out quite a bit. This book won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me it worked. 

I loved the dark take on Peter Pan. There is something inherently a little sinister about the original story and this book really delved into that. It made me rethink the classic story and want to rewatch the Disney movie. 

The story moved at a good pace, with everything unraveling at the right time. There were a lot of twists and turns that kept me hooked and turning the pages. This book kept me guessing until the very end. 

As for the characters, I liked the incorporation of the original Peter Pan characters. The main characters from Peter Pan (Peter, Wendy, John, Michael, Tinker Bell, and Captain Hook) are either characters in this book or mentioned/incorporated in some way. I also enjoyed the dynamic between the main character, Holly Darling, and her mom, Jane Darling (the daughter of Wendy). They had a very complex mother-daughter relationship that grew as the story went on. 

Overall, if you love Peter Pan and want to explore a darker side to the classic tale, then read this book! 


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Review: Alliana, Girl of Dragons

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Rating: ★★★

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

I previously read one of the author’s other books, Eva Evergreen, Semi Magical Witch, and absolutely loved it. I was very excited to read this one since it acts as a prequel to the Eva Evergreen books. Unfortunately, I didn’t like this book as much as Eva Evergreen. 

This is a Cinderella retelling and because of that, the book felt constrained plot wise. I didn’t feel as though the story benefitted from being a Cinderella retelling. If the book was just a regular middle grade fantasy without the Cinderella aspects, it still would have worked. I also felt that the book wasn’t as magical as Eva Evergreen. Eva Evergreen had a certain charm about it and I was hoping this book would too since it is set in the same universe. 

Additionally, for a book with the word “dragons” in the title, it was light on the dragons. The book never seemed to fully explore the dragons and Alliana’s relationship with them. (Maybe this will come in a later book?)

Don’t get me wrong, I did like some things about the book. I enjoyed the supporting characters, especially Grandmother Mari and Nela. Each of them had such a special relationship and bond with Alliana that was heartwarming to see. I also liked the parts that did feature the dragons. 

Overall, there were some things I liked about this and some things I had issues with. I hope there is a sequel to this book since there’s still more to explore with Alliana. If you are looking for a middle grade fantasy, I would say to give it a shot! 


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Review: Know You By Heart (Heart Resort #2)

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Rating: ★★★★

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

I read the first book in the series last year and liked it, but didn’t love it. This book was definitely a step up from the last one. 

The premise is the classic romance trope, marriage of convenience. However, it takes places when the marriage of convenience is nearing its end, which is a cool twist to the trope. I found that twist very refreshing and it offered a unique perspective to the trope. I enjoyed seeing the main characters, Chris and Eden, discover their true feelings for each other. 

I also liked that Eden and Chris went on a couple’s retreat at the resort. The couples resort was talked about in the first book, but this book really delved into how it operated and what the program was like. The couple’s retreat was fun to read about and also aided in Chris and Eden’s character development. 

I just have to point out that I love that this series has so much Filipino representation. As a Filipino American, I love seeing Filipino culture highlighted.  

Lastly, like the first book, I do feel like there were some pacing issues with this one. Some parts seemed to move slower than others. 

Overall, this was a great installment to the series and I am looking forward to the next one! 


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Review: Tripping Arcadia

Rating: ★★★

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

This book had such a great premise. I love gothic novels, however, the execution could have been better. 

The book started off strong. As soon as the main character, Lena, started working for the mysterious Verdeau family, I was intrigued and was excited to see where the story would go. The book held steady until the last 1/3. The story seemed to be losing its momentum by that point, like it didn’t quite know where it should go. By the end, I felt let down. I was expecting a big reveal or twist but nothing shocked me or made me have an “aha” moment. 

One thing I did like about the book were the supporting characters of the Verdeau siblings, Audrey and Jonathan. They were both fascinating characters with well developed character arcs. Audrey was stuck in the middle trying to balance what she wanted versus what her dad wanted, while Jonathan was such a melancholy and tragic character who was obsessed with death. Their separate relationships with Lena was also interesting to see unfold. They each had such different relationships with Lena. It made for a nice juxtaposition. 

The author’s writing style worked with the overall vibe of the book (gothic with a touch of dark academia), although it could be a little wordy at times. 

As a whole, the plot itself was on the weak side, but the strong supporting characters helped the story. If you’re into gothic novels or stories about poison (this book is all about poison), then I would still say to give the book a shot! It might work for you. 


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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: Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch (Eva Evergreen #1)

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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 the cutest book ever! Seriously. It was like a Studio Ghibli movie in book form. 

First off, the world building in this book was incredible. I could easily picture the quaint seaside town of Auteri with all its little shops and its Festival of Lights. I wish it was a real place! 

The characters were another highlight. They were all so lovable. I loved Eva’s friends, Davy and Charlotte. Watching their bond and friendship grow throughout the story was so heartwarming. The townspeople were also charming. I loved how they came together and helped Eva. 

The book also had cute illustrations at the beginning of each chapter. The art style is similar to the cover art, very Japanese inspired. The pictures added to the whimsical nature of the book. 

The only thing that this book needed was a map. The world wasn’t overly complicated that it needed a map to be comprehensible, but maps in fantasy books are always so helpful, so I prefer them.

Overall, this was a feel good, wholesome, witchy read, perfect for spooky season. Readers of all ages will love reading about Eva and her adventures. I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel! 


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Review: So We Meet Again

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Rating: ★★★★

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

I had previously read the author’s other book, Loathe at First Sight, and liked but didn’t love it. I knew I wanted to give her books another shot, so I jumped at the chance to read this one. This book was so much better! 

First off, I liked the romance in this one. This book had more of a romantic story than Loathe At First Sight. Daniel was a swoon-worthy love interest for sure! I loved his interactions with Jess. They had the most adorable meet-cute. As soon as I read their meet-cute, I knew I was going to like them as a couple. 

I also loved that the book was more than a romance and focused a great deal on Jess’s career change. It explored all the ups and downs of starting over. It was wonderful seeing Jess grow from an unsure former investment banker into a full fledged businesswoman. 

As for the supporting characters, Jess’s parents were so precious! You could tell that they really loved Jess, even if they didn’t always show it in the best way. I could relate to Jess’s experiences with her critical mom. 

I did find the book to be a little unrealistic at times. The book wasn’t super clear on the passage of time, but it felt like Jess’s business took off too quickly. But I will admit I don’t know that much about business so maybe it was realistic. Also, Daniel did something at the very end that could have got him in trouble as a lawyer. It wasn’t anything egregious (just a conflict of interest issue). It was only something I noticed since I am a recent law graduate. Most lawyers would have foresaw that conflict of interest and handled the situation differently. 

Overall, I enjoyed this read! If you want a light and fun romance and/or women’s fiction novel to read, pick this one up! 


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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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