Book Review

Book Review: Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Fiction
Length: 277 pages
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Square Fish
Expected Release Date: September 9th, 2005
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Welcome to Elsewhere. It is warm, with a breeze, and the beaches are marvelous. It’s quiet and peaceful. You can’t get sick or any older. Curious to see new paintings by Picasso? Swing by one of Elsewhere’s museums. Need to talk to someone about your problems? Stop by Marilyn Monroe’s psychiatric practice.

Elsewhere is where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth. But Liz wants to turn sixteen, not fourteen again. She wants to get her driver’s license. She wants to graduate from high school and go to college. And now that she’s dead, Liz is being forced to live a life she doesn’t want with a grandmother she has only just met. And it is not going well. How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward?

This moving, often funny book about grief, death, and loss will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.

AN INTERESTING CONCEPT.

This was a SUPER quick read. And a very interesting take on heaven.

The whole idea of someone aging backwards until their a baby again in the land of Elsewhere was a bit odd and troublesome to me, but I thought it was unique to think about. While this didn’t change any personal concepts on what I believe the afterlife is like I still found it thoughtful.

It’s a very moving and bittersweet story for Liz, who’s life is cut way too short by an accident. She had to cope with grief and depression to find the hope that she could in her new world. Liz definitely pulled at my heart strings. I love the characters that were in her world and how they each brought something to the story. Betty, Owen, Thandi, and more surrounded Liz when she needed it to help her move on.

It’s even more well-imagined when I got to the dog portion. OHEMGEE talking dogs? SERIOUSLY ALL I WANT. I love the perspective and life and love that came from having a dog in the afterlife. They were cute and spunky and I wanted to hug them all.They also brought a different layer to the story because they were constantly just as thoughtful as the humans.

I like that there was a tiny touch of romance and overwhelming friendships. I think Liz needed something like that to understand her story of life and death. While wildly different they can also be wildly similar.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fiction
  • Language: little
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: discussion of death and how people died (some included were: cancer, overdose, hit and run, gunshot wound, plane crash, flu and more)

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 325 pages
Author: Beth O’Leary
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: April 10th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Tiffy and Leon share an apartment. Tiffy and Leon have never met.

After a bad breakup, Tiffy Moore needs a place to live. Fast. And cheap. But the apartments in her budget have her wondering if astonishingly colored mold on the walls counts as art.

Desperation makes her open minded, so she answers an ad for a flatshare. Leon, a night shift worker, will take the apartment during the day, and Tiffy can have it nights and weekends. He’ll only ever be there when she’s at the office. In fact, they’ll never even have to meet.

Tiffy and Leon start writing each other notes – first about what day is garbage day, and politely establishing what leftovers are up for grabs, and the evergreen question of whether the toilet seat should stay up or down. Even though they are opposites, they soon become friends. And then maybe more.

But falling in love with your roommate is probably a terrible idea…especially if you’ve never met.

What if your roommate is your soul mate? A joyful, quirky romantic comedy, Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare is a feel-good novel about finding love in the most unexpected of ways. 

CUTE AT TIMES.

I didn’t know how I was going to feel about this book when I first started reading it. I wasn’t immediately drawn in and had a hard time connecting with everything. I think the second half of the book was MUCH better and I was so excited when Tiffy and Leon finally met in person.

This was a charming read. I loved watching Tiffy and Leon’s friendship start over post-it notes. That’s precious. The notes were cute and endearing and I really do think letter writing is its own form of intimacy (especially because nobody does it today). You could easily see the opposite spectrum of personalities they had. Tiffy effervescent and loud. Leon reserved and thoughtful. It was an opposites attract that worked so well.

The main conflict centered around Tiffy’s ex boyfriend, Justin. He angered me to a whole other level and I don’t feel like giving him the time of day in this review. What I did like was the approach that Tiffy’s friends had to help her. It can be hard in many ways to work through an awful situation like that (emotionally abusive) and I love that Tiffy had such a strong support group.

I thought the premise was unique too. I think I would be way too nervous to share a flat with someone I had never met, but I’m really happy it worked out for them. I got some good bubbly feelings from this, but it just didn’t have everything I needed to be a GREAT rom-com.

Overall audience notes:

  • Adult contemporary romance
  • Language: some strong throughout
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, some almost love scenes (with mild description) and one fade-to-black love scene
  • Violence: physical
  • Trigger warnings: abusive relationship (emotional/controlling), PTSD from the relationship

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Waiting for Tom Hanks (Waiting for Tom Hanks #1) by Kerry Winfrey

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Contemporary romance/Chick-lit
Length: 259 pages
Author: Kerry Winfrey
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 11th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Can a romcom-obssessed romantic finally experience the meet-cute she always dreamed of or will reality never compare to fiction, in this charming debut adult novel from Kerry Winfrey.

Annie Cassidy dreams of being the next Nora Ephron. She spends her days writing screenplays, rewatching Sleepless in Seattle, and waiting for her movie-perfect meet-cute. If she could just find her own Tom Hanks—a man who’s sweet, sensitive, and possibly owns a houseboat—her problems would disappear and her life would be perfect. But Tom Hanks is nowhere in sight.

When a movie starts filming in her neighborhood and Annie gets a job on set, it seems like a sign. Then Annie meets the lead actor, Drew Danforth, a cocky prankster who couldn’t be less like Tom Hanks if he tried. Their meet-cute is more of a meet-fail, but soon Annie finds herself sharing some classic rom-com moments with Drew. Her Tom Hanks can’t be an actor who’s leaving town in a matter of days…can he?

DID I JUST READ A HALLMARK MOVIE?

Yes, I’m pretty sure I did. This book was everything you expect when you choose to sit and watch a Hallmark movie (which I know we all do sometimes).

This was really cute. I was into the romance between Annie and Drew. They had some great banter and I could feel their chemistry with each other. Things felt like they developed at a good speed (even though it was only over a two week span, remember: Hallmark-esque).

I ordered the side characters. She had a great friend who was truly their for her and helped Annie get out of her shell. Annie’s Uncle Don was fun too. He showed a lot of unconditional love and had some tender moments. They were both sweet and had enough pages in the story for me to feel connected with them too.

As someone who hasn’t seen any Tom Hanks rom-coms (don’t @ me), this was a bit heavy in the analogies to these movies. IT WOULDN’T END. I got tired of the crazy repetitiveness of her talking about romantic comedies. I get it, Annie is obsessed. This influenced her ideas and decisions so much that I would get frustrated that she couldn’t see past her rose-colored glasses. There were waaaay too many metaphors.

This is quick and charming. That’s its best feature. If you’re looking for something that has some witty banter and a cleaner romance this would be a good pick. I wish it was a bit longer so we got some more depth from the characters, but it’s fine! This was still a nice read.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: some strong language
  • Romance: some kisses, one love scene that has no details (literally says: “we had great sex last night” but that’s it for details – it’s very clean for a romance)
  • Trigger warnings: discussion of death of parents

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Earth’s End (Air Awakens #3) by Elise Kova

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Young adult fantasy + romance
Length: 350 pages
Author: Elise Kova
Publisher: Silver Wing Press
Release Date: February 11th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A woman awoken in air, a soldier forged by fire, a weapon risen from blood.

Vhalla Yarl has made it to the warfront in the North. Forged by blood and fire, she has steeled her heart for the final battle of the Solaris Empire’s conquest. The choices before Vhalla are no longer servitude or freedom, they are servitude or death. The stakes have never been higher as the Emperor maintains his iron grip on her fate, holding everything Vhalla still has left to lose in the balance.

BEST BOOK YET.

You know when you love a book SO MUCH that you can’t even form a coherent sentence let alone a whole review? This is what’s happening to my mind trying to put this together. Let me leave at least this one sentence here: I love this series with a crazy bookish passion and it has been the best series I’ve picked up in 2019 thus far (And I’m not even through with it yet).

I swear this series is out to destroy me. Though this much heart ache hopefully leads to the amazing reunion, happy ending I MUST HAVE. Sucker for happy endings. Give them allllll to me.

First and foremost, I am completely obsessed with Aldrik. He is a tortured soul with such deep pains and is struggling so much, and somehow still gives his heart to Vhalla. Every time they spoke I couldn’t handle how sweet his words were to her. HE LOVES HER SO MUCH.

Vhalla is a stellar character in her own right. I gave the first book (Air Awakens) 4 stars because I wasn’t convinced that I liked Vhalla, but figured there would be a major character arc brewing. And so far, so good! I love how passionate, stubborn, and full of strength she is. We also got to see her break to a very low point. This was raw and important for further moving her along in the story. It was a moment for her to dive deep and find her own way.

I do feel it pertinent to mention that this is a fantasy series with a heavy focus on the relationship between Vhalla and Aldrik. I love books like this, but I know others prefer a lot more components. And while this does have a lot of politics, battles and tense moments, it’s heavy on the focus for my OTP.

I love the friendships! Vhalla has her own little crew and all of the relationships have blossomed and flourished in their own ways. She has a support team and everyone actually enjoys each other’s company. Nobody annoys me. They all have a purpose and I know enough of their background that I’m going to be devastated if someone else dies (knock on wood).

This book kept me on my toes. I was never sure what was going to happen next. Would get a nice moment? Would someone else die? *Bonus: Kova is not afraid to kill off characters* Would all be okay?! ALL IS DEFINITELY NOT OKAY.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy + romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses/make-outs, a few love scenes that are a little detailed, but mostly fades out; nothing explicit
  • Violence: swords, poison, battle scenes, loss of loved ones, elemental magic
  • Trigger warnings: alcoholism – used specifically to suppress feelings/emotions

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Adult contemporary romance
Length: 306 pages
Author: Colleen Hoover
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: July 17th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Colleen Hoover delivers a tour de force novel about a troubled marriage and the one old forgotten promise that might be able to save it.

Quinn and Graham’s perfect love is threatened by their imperfect marriage. The memories, mistakes, and secrets that they have built up over the years are now tearing them apart. The one thing that could save them might also be the very thing that pushes their marriage beyond the point of repair.

All Your Perfects is a profound novel about a damaged couple whose potential future hinges on promises made in the past. This is a heartbreaking page-turner that asks: Can a resounding love with a perfect beginning survive a lifetime between two imperfect people?

ALL THE EMOTIONS.

This book tore me up. I love anything CoHo writes. I haven’t read all of her books, but currently I’m at 8 of them and this one might be my favorite yet. Hoover is able to take this intense situations and emotions and create a book that somehow still gives you hope at the end (even if you’re crying).

I really felt this book because of it’s main issue, infertility. This is not a light conversation ever and while I personally haven’t had to deal with this, I know many families who have. I thought the way the book conveyed how deeply infertility can affect someone (and those around them) was done well. There were so many sides to take in and brought in a lot of moments that made the book an easy five stars.

“I love you more in this moment than any moment that has come before it.” 

The now vs. then timeline had me speeeeed reading because I had to know what happened next. It was the perfect stop and starts as I got to see them fall in love, and find that love again. The last couple of chapters with Graham’s letters DESTROYED ME. I seriously went to go kiss my husband after finishing this book because it made me consider a lot. Every couple has to remember why they love each other sometimes and not to give in at the same time. So many truths in this book.

Characters made me want to hug them, yell at them, cry with them, and much more. I couldn’t believe some actions taken by others. It was hard to watch. I am in awe of how great this book was and I am forever a CoHo fan.

Overall audience notes:

  • Adult contemporary romance
  • Language: a bit of strong language
  • Romance: kiss, make-outs, detailed romance scenes
  • Trigger warnings: self-harm (MC cuts her wrist once), infidelity, infertility, miscarriage, depression, grief, cheating,

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Historical fiction + Romance
Length: 346 pages
Author: Chanel Cleeton
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: April 9th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In 1960s Florida, a young Cuban exile will risk her life–and heart–to take back her country in this exhilarating historical novel from the author of Next Year in Havana, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick.

Beautiful. Daring. Deadly. 

The Cuban Revolution took everything from sugar heiress Beatriz Perez–her family, her people, her country. Recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro’s inner circle and pulled into the dangerous world of espionage, Beatriz is consumed by her quest for revenge and her desire to reclaim the life she lost.

As the Cold War swells like a hurricane over the shores of the Florida Strait, Beatriz is caught between the clash of Cuban American politics and the perils of a forbidden affair with a powerful man driven by ambitions of his own. When the ever-changing tides of history threaten everything she has fought for, she must make a choice between her past and future–but the wrong move could cost Beatriz everything–not just the island she loves, but also the man who has stolen her heart…

SOPHOMORE BOOK IS EVEN BETTER.

Oooooh, I loved this even more than Next Year in Havana. Let me also say, I love the Audible narrator: Kyla Garcia. She did another amazing job and kept me completely entranced in this book.

I love Beatriz Perez so stinkin’ much. She was an amazing MC and brought out all of the feels. I love how strong and independent. Beatriz has so much loyalty and love for her family and her country. This control and defines all of her decisions. And even when I wanted to shout out her, I also understood her choices.

THIS ROMANCE THOUGH. Okay, didn’t start out in the best light (trigger: cheating), but guys. I will firmly stand by that this might be the only case where I accepted and was okay with it. Her relationship with Nicholas made me swoooooon. Oh, it was so good. And also destroyed me, but I’ve already accepted that this is how Cleeton likes to torture us. I was happy with the resolution and felt relieved at how it all came to a conclusion.

My reasoning for being 4.5 stars vs. 5 stars was that, at times, it was too political (for me personally). It would cause some scenes to drag on a little long when I had already gotten the point.

BUT, what was really cool was having Beatriz work with the CIA. It was really interesting to have that plot line and her relationships with the agent was intriguing and intense. I loved watching Beatriz navigate the crisis in Cuba, the JFK assassination and the beginnings of the Cold War. History was woven perfectly into the timeline.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction + romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses, and a handful of light detailed FTB scenes
  • Violence: guns, murder, threats of warfare, mentions of the JFK assassination
  • Trigger warnings: cheating (while engaged)

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Contemporary New Adult Romance
Length: 388 pages
Author: K.A. Tucker
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: August 7th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Calla Fletcher wasn’t even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.

She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.

Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. Soon, she finds herself forming an unexpected bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.

THIS. WAS. STELLAR.

Tear-shedding (yes, one scene totally had me shedding a few tears), heart-stopping, and utterly devastating, this book took me to some high highs and some low lows. I’m still speechless thinking about it.

I started off really not loving Calla. She was materialistic, vain, selfish and more. I dearly hoped she would have a turn around in this book, and I’m so happy she did. Calla became more lovable as a character to me and all I wanted to do was give her a hug. She went through a lot in 400 pages.

The story itself, focusing a lot on her Dad left me crying y’all. I know I already mentioned it, BUT IT HAD TO BE SAID AGAIN. I don’t generally cry reading. Granted, it was 2 AM so being really tired probably contributed, but still. There was one scene in there that I *can’t* handle. I loved watched Wren and Calla figure out each other and actually open up. There wasn’t heavy drama between them. It really focused on remembering how important family is and soaking up any time you get to have them. The awkward first encounters turned into deep conversations where they had a chance to know about each other’s lives.

Now, we know I have to talk about the romance. OHEMGEE. Jonah. My rugged space cowboy Jonah. I was totally impressed with how this was done. There was so much angst I could barely stand it. It was amazing. Fantastic banter that left me chuckling (and a few good pranks that made me squeal). Sweet, loving moments where all the emotions came out. All of it. Tucker turned the span of a few weeks into this magical romance that makes me so happy I picked this book up.

While I still don’t want to fly on tiny planes. This book also gave me major wanderlust. I wanted to be in Alaska. Seeing these gorgeous sites in my mind wasn’t doing it justice. The beautiful writing made it feel like I was really in this small towns and rugged landscapes.

Overall audience notes:

  • New adult contemporary romance
  • Language: some strong language
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, a mildly detailed love scene and others more glossed over
  • Violence: plane crash
  • Trigger warnings: divorce, terminal illness (cancer), loss of a loved one

Instagram || Goodreads