Review: Bloomsbury Girls

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Rating: ★★★

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

I loved the premise of the book, but it ultimately fell a little short of my expectations. 

As a quick note: this book is loosely connected to the author’s previous novel, The Jane Austen Society. However, you do not need to read that book in order to enjoy this one (I personally have not read The Jane Austen Society and was able to understand this book with no issues). 

My main issue with the book is the pacing. It is very slow. Getting through the first half of the book was a struggle. Once I was about halfway through, the pace (luckily) picked up. 

Another issue I had was that I never felt connected to the characters. I attribute that in part to the prose. It felt very detached and overly wordy at times. It never went deep into the characters.

Moving on to what I liked. I loved that the book had a list of characters and a map of the bookstore. Those were so helpful, especially since there were a lot of characters. 

I also liked the exploration of being a woman during that time. The book showcased the difficulties well. It also did a good job exploring the prejudices minorities face. One of the characters, Ash, is Indian and continually faces racism. 

Lastly, I do like books about books so I enjoyed the literary references and cameos as well as the bits about writing.

Overall, I didn’t love this book, but don’t let that deter you from reading it. You might love it! 


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Review: Angels of the Pacific

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Rating: ★★★★★

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

What a book! I personally found it to be a brutal and heart-wrenching read because the story really hit home for me. Short personal story: I am half Filipino and my maternal grandparents lived through World War II in the Philippines. My grandpa lived in Bataan, which was one of the centers of the war. My mom told me that my grandpa would describe that time in life as always running and never having any shoes. In fact, his birth records were destroyed during the war. When he came to America, he had to have a paper from the Philippine government certifying that his birth certificate was destroyed during the war. It’s crazy to think that my grandparents lived through some of what happened in the book. 

This book gave me goosebumps multiple times while reading it. I knew the Japanese occupation was harsh, but reading about the reality of it was something else. I’m so glad that the book shed light on life under their occupation and didn’t hold back on its depictions. It is so overlooked and needs to be acknowledged. I also liked how the book subtly touched upon the Philippines and their previous colonizers (Spain and the US). 

It is evident the author put in a tremendous amount of research in writing this story. Both Tess and Flor’s storylines were compelling, engaging, and well thought out. I liked how their stories showed two different points of view (one from an American nurse and one from a native Filipino working as part of the resistance) and how their stories intersected.  

Overall, if you are looking for a different take on World War II or just want to learn more about the Philippines during the war, I highly recommend this book! 


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Review: Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron

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Rating: ★★★

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

Let me preface this review by saying that I am not familiar with Miss Butterworth. I’ve only read 1 Julia Quinn book (The Duke and I) and have seen both seasons of Bridgerton. I enjoyed both the book and the show. However, neither of those reference Miss Butterworth. Because of that, I did not know what to expect in regards to this story. Initially, I had thought it would be more Bridgerton-like. 

This was a very absurd graphic novel. It was sort of insane, but that was the point. The story was a little gruesome/morbid at times, which I was not expecting. I found the whole story to be a bit strange and I didn’t necessarily love it (nor did I completely hate it). It was just okay for me. I probably would have liked it better if I was more familiar with Miss Butterworth. 

The art style is very cute and cartoon like and worked well for the story. Like I said the book was a little morbid at times, but the art kept it more humorous and light. 

I did love the “In Memoriam” at the end. In case you didn’t know, the illustrator, Violet Charles, was Julia Quinn’s younger sister who tragically passed away in 2021. Julia wrote a beautiful tribute to her sister and I am glad that this collaboration between them was able to be published. 

Overall, if you know more about Miss Butterworth from Julia Quinn’s other books, you’ll probably enjoy this one! 


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Review: My Fine Fellow

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Rating: ★★★★

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

This was a really cute My Fair Lady retelling! I have seen My Fair Lady, but it was a while ago so I didn’t pick up on any of the references to it. If you’re a fan of the movie I’m sure you would appreciate those references. 

I loved that it was a gender swapped retelling. I also loved that Penelope was half Filipino and Elijah was Jewish and that their backgrounds were a central and integral part of the story. The book explored the prejudices that both of them faced. 

The three main characters were all well developed. I particularly liked seeing Helena’s character arc unfold and how her actions affected her friendships with Penelope and Elijah.  

Food is a big part of the story so do not read this book on an empty stomach. You will get hungry! Luckily there is a recipe at the end for the empanadas mentioned in the book. 

Since this is a retelling, the story is a little predictable and straightforward. There are no big surprises.  

Overall, I enjoyed this historical YA retelling of My Fair Lady. If you like reading about 1830s England or books about food, I recommend checking this book out. 


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The Beautiful (The Beautiful #1)

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Rating: ★★★★

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

First off, this is not your typical YA vampire book. It’s a very subtle vampire book. The word vampire isn’t even used until way late in the book. 

This book is a slow burn, which I liked. It definitely takes a while to get into the story. I found that the slower pace worked well in creating the mystery and intrigue. This is the first book in a series that is projected to have 4 books, so a lot of this book is likely setting the stage for the rest of the series. The slower pace is to be expected.

The book has a lot of interesting supporting characters. My favorite was Odette. She was awesome. I can’t wait to see how her character progresses in the coming books. There’s a lot to explore with her. I also loved Pippa because she’s quite the mystery. This book didn’t delve much into her past or background so I am intrigued to find that out in the coming books. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I am very curious to see how the rest of the series pans out. I recommend this book if you are interested in a more historical fiction take on vampires and also if you want to read a YA vampire series that isn’t Twilight (no shade against Twilight, I just know it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea). 


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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 Places We Sleep

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Rating: ★★★★

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

I was really intrigued by this book because it centers on 9/11. I was only 6 years old when it happened so I never truly felt the magnitude of it. 

This book did an amazing job detailing how 9/11 rocked everyone’s world. You saw how 12 year old Abbey felt. You saw how her mom reacted to finding out her sister went missing during the attack. You saw her dad’s military response to it. You saw how regular civilians felt about the possibility of war. You saw racial prejudices exhibited by Abbey’s classmates to a fellow student. The book covered a range of experiences.

This is a novel in verse so the entire book was written in poetry. As a whole, I thought the poems were well done. However, I would have loved if the poems had titles. Instead, they were numbered. Sometimes titles can help enhance the poem and create a bigger impact. But on the flip side, having no titles made the book more novel like. It reads very smoothly because of that. At times, it didn’t even feel like you’re were reading poetry because you get sucked into the story. 

Plot-wise, I wanted a little more, especially towards the end. I wanted there to be a little more development with some of the supporting characters. Even though this book centers on 9/11, it is also a coming of age story. One of the things that gets explored is periods. I am happy that this book did not shy away from showing girls getting their period for the first time. 

Overall, I recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more about the American reaction to 9/11. This book is aimed towards middle grade readers but can still be enjoyed by adults. 


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Review: Superman Smashes the Klan

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Rating: ★★★★★

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

This book was SO GOOD! I loved it.

So first off, the artwork is adorable. It worked really well.

I love that the story did not shy away from depicting racism. It shows both the hard core racism of the Klan and the more casual racism of Tommy and Roberta’s friends. 

I also liked that the book had an even blend of Tommy and Roberta’s story and Superman’s story. Both storylines were well developed and engaging. They also paralleled each other nicely. What I really loved about Superman’s story was how human he was. Like yes he is a superhero with powers, but at his core he is just like us. 

One of my favorite parts of the book happens in the beginning after the Klan burns a cross in the Lee’s front yard. 3 African American men come to help but Mr. Lee doesn’t want it. One of the men says, “They don’t want us around, not even when their house is on fire.” The other African American man (who is the police inspector) replies, “They got a burning cross on their lawn, don’t they? For tonight, at least, they are us. Even if they don’t want to admit it” (pg 48). This small part left a big impact on me because it shows a hint of the anti-blackness that is sometimes seen in the Asian American community. But it also shows a solidarity. That even though they are different races, they still face similar struggles. They are not as different as they may think. 

At the end of the book, there is an essay by the author, “Superman and Me.” The essay gives the historical background behind the story. I really loved it. It not only explained the history of the KKK and racism in the America, but also the story of Superman and how he came to be. 

Overall, I really recommend this graphic novel. Its message is an important one, especially in today’s times. 


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October 2019 wrap-up

Hi beauties! Time for my October wrap-up. After reading only 3 books in August and then rocking it in September with 10 books, I ended up reading . . . 3 books. Not a great month. Life got kind of crazy and I lost motivation to read. I was planning on reading more spooky books this month but I got kind of burned out since I read so many last month.

Here’s what I did manage to read:

Overall, this wasn’t a great month but I am hopeful for November (and my Christmas TBR which I will be starting soon)!

How was your October? Did you read any spooky books?

xoxo,


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Review: Marilla of Green Gables

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours as part of a review tour. 

Growing up, I was a huge fan of Anne of Green Gables. I read the book and used to watch the animated TV show on PBS. I wanted to live in Avonlea with Anne. So naturally I was excited to read this book. 

I was not disappointed. The book felt in the spirit very much like Anne of Green Gables. I can tell that the author did her research (in her author’s note she goes over in detail how much research she did). It had the same quaint feel as the original. Even the stylistic choices mimicked the original. The book is divided into three parts: Marilla of Green Gables, Marilla of Avonlea, and Marilla’s House of Dreams. The chapter titles even paid tribute too. 

The author has a fantastic writing style. The whole book just flowed so nicely and transported you into Marilla’s world. 

I thought the inclusion of the Underground Railroad in Canada was a bold choice. I was happy the author incorporated it because it was an area of history that I did not know much about. I enjoyed learning more about Canada and its history. 

Overall, this was a worthy prequel to an iconic classic series. I think a reread of Anne of Green Gables is in my future. 


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