The Heart Principle By Helen Hoang – Review

“When violinist Anna Sun accidentally achieves career success with a viral YouTube video, she finds herself incapacitated and burned out from her attempts to replicate that moment. And when her longtime boyfriend announces he wants an open relationship before making a final commitment, a hurt and angry Anna decides that if he wants an open relationship, then she does, too. Translation: She’s going to embark on a string of one-night stands. The more unacceptable the men, the better.

That’s where tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan Diep comes in. Their first attempt at a one-night stand fails, as does their second, and their third, because being with Quan is more than sex—he accepts Anna on an unconditional level that she has just started to understand herself. However, when tragedy strikes Anna’s family she takes on a role that she is ill-suited for, until the burden of expectations threatens to destroy her. Anna and Quan have to fight for their chance at love, but to do that, they also have to fight for themselves.”

Firstly I’d like to say a massive thank you to Atlantic Books and NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to read the acr of The Heart Principle. I honestly didn’t think I would get approved so I was pleasantly surprised!

Over the last year or so I’ve made it a point to find and read more books by authors who are from different ethnic backgrounds and I’m a sucker when it comes to it. I love a story about someone who is different yet similar to me. Someone who I can relate to but also I can’t. I like looking at life through their lens and living vicariously through them doing things, experiencing things I never would in life. It makes me happy just like this book made me happy.

The Heart Principle is book number three in The Kiss Quotient series but can also be read as a standalone. I myself have not read the first two books just yet but now I most definitely can not wait to get my hands on them. Also if I’m being entirely honest I had no idea who Helen Hoang was until I joined book twitter and saw The Heart Principle everywhere to the point I was like I need to read this book right now!

I am going to try to keep this review shorter than usual just because I have been struggling to come up with the words to explain exactly how this book has made me feel. I don’t want to spoil the plot or give too much away because I really think you should pick up this book and give it a read. If you are 18+ that is. Helen Hoang deals with so many hard and deep rooted issues in this book that you are going to feel every emotion under the sun – that is a given. I cried, I laughed, I even got annoyed and felt as though Hoang had taken a peek into my own life and somehow managed to weave it into this story. This is a romance, a spicy romance but it’s also a slice of life.

Anna and Quan are one of the most realistically portrayed couples I have read in a recent book. Both characters are going through a lot, physically and emotionally. Neither is looking for love, just someone they can overcome a hurdle with and then never have to see again but things never go to plan and somehow these two end up intertwined in each other’s lives finding comfort in one another. They understand each other and because there are no expectations I think they are both more open and vulnerable with the other. Two damaged souls – one a little more broken than another find solace eventually together.

Quan has the exterior of a total bad boy; tattoos, leather jackets and even a motorbike. He looks like the kind of guy your parents tell you to stay the hell away from but he is so swoon worthy looks and personality wise. He is one of the most patient love interests that I have ever come across. He is the ying to Anna’s yang because she is the opposite of him in every way. She is a people pleaser, she never says what’s on her mind and she is so self critical that she is her own worst enemy. She is phenomenal but she is surrounded by people who think they know best for her and don’t support or appericatte or even listen to her.

This story for me is about self discovery and acceptance. Coming to terms with who you are and being okay with it. It’s a story about family and how hard it can be – all the ups and downs that come with expectations and pressure. A story about how meeting the right person can change your life for the better.

I think I am going to wrap up my review here. I think I’ve said a lot but at the same time nothing at all. I have to give this book a 5/5 for exceeding my expectations. I really felt seen reading this book and it got me questioning a lot of things in my own life. That’s what a great book does, it evokes emotions, it stirs up something inside of you. The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang is now available in the UK from all major book retailers so definitely get your hand on it!

The Dating Dare By Jayci Lee – Review

“No serious relationships. This is the one rule Tara Park made for herself and it has been working swimmingly, especially since she’s busy with Weldon Brewery. But when Seth Kim, temptation personified and her best friend’s new brother-in-law walks into her life, Tara might be willing to bend her golden rule . . . but only for four dates, which she agreed to after a few good rounds of beer – and a game of truth or dare.

Seth Kim can’t believe Tara agreed to his dating dare. He’s leaving for a new job in Paris in a month and a no-strings attached fling seemed like a nice distraction for both . . . But while their dates have a tendency to hit roadblocks, their non-dates and chance meetings are becoming frequent – and heated. What was supposed to be a little fun game is turning into something that neither is ready for.

But sometimes, the best things in life are the ones we never see coming.”

I had so much fun reading this lovely story by Jayci Lee. The Dating Dare is book #2 in the Sweet Mess series. (I need to go and pick up the first book because I loved this one so much) You can read them together or they can be read as stand alone stories so have no fear if you haven’t read Sweet Mess like me. Thank you so much Headline, Net Galley and of course Jayci Lee for this wonderful opportunity to read such a sweet story.

We all know by now how I’m such a cover girl – give me a cute cover and I will swoon over the book any day. I love both versions of the cover for The Dating Dare, so adorable. (I’ve of course posted the UK version as that is what is available to me)

I can not begin to express how much I enjoyed this story. It is such a feel good book I found myself smiling and swooning throughout and of course there were plenty of moments where I was giggling, even laughing out loud! I love a good romantic comedy and that is exactly what this is.

I love Tara and Seth. They are both so relatable in their own ways so as a reader you feel connected to the characters. But they are also the type of characters that you root for because you just want them to be happy!!!!

So the story goes like this – they both meet at Tara’s best friend’s wedding where Seth just so happens to be the younger brother of the groom. They get to talking (Their banter is impeccable) and end up playing a game of truth or dare, which results in the dating dare. Four dates, no strings attached. Seth is leaving at the end of the month to fly across to Paris anyways. What do they have to lose?

Well we all know from previous experience how these sorts of situations work out, right? This is one of my favorite tropes – “Make sure you don’t fall in love with me.” “No, you try not to fall in love with me.” And then by the end everyone is in love! I just think it works out so beautifully in this story as both characters are scarred from their tragic history with love and find themselves slowly but surely opening up to one another. Yes there are bumps along the way but there is also a whole lot of self discovery and coming to terms with their past and overcoming their fears.

Their chemistry is on fire and the spiciness of their blooming relationship is just on another level, It’s undeniable! There was literally one point in the book where I was like dammnnn where on earth do I find my own Seth! Literally sitting there fanning myself. Honestly this book really made me want to fall in love with the right person and just have all the crazy fun possible.

I adore Jayci Lee and the way that she writes, especially when she is describing food. It’s like hearing someone talk about something that they are so passionate about that they are oozing happiness from the inside. She is so funny and honestly every single character in this story is so relatable. I think I especially like this story because I see a lot of myself in Tara and her experiences so even though I know this is just fiction it allows me to feel as though there is still hope for me out there!

I would like to give this book a 5/5. I know I’ve said I love it multiple times before but it’s true I really do. I know the story is predictable but that’s what makes a romantic comedy so comforting and enjoyable. This was just a quick and easy read, I found myself not wanting to put this book down. Just thinking about Tara and Seth makes me smile (yes I am a weirdo like that) I absolutely recommend this book if you like cute, funny and of course let’s not forget steamy romances.

Silent Pretty Things By O. J. Lovaz – Review

“A small town…a prominent family…a secret. Only two people know the truth, and their silence will have murderous consequences.

Anna Goddard has spent a lifetime being the Good Daughter. Polished and primped into sleek, blond perfection, Anna learned from an early age that being a Goddard meant presenting a flawless façade to the world. But all that changes when Anna stumbles upon a private correspondence that leaves her reeling. With the help of Michael Donovan, a shy but charming local historian, Anna embarks on a journey to find the one thing her family has always denied: The Truth.

Propelled by her mission to protect those she loves, the young woman experiences a tantalizing taste of freedom. But in the process of unearthing the past, Anna and her family will expose a new threat so dangerous it could ruin them all.”

I didn’t really know what to expect when I started reading this Silent Pretty Things. I knew that it was a mystery/thriller so I went in, without any preconceived notions of what this story could be about. At first it did take a little while for me to get into the book and it started off a tad slow for my liking but like any other story it picked up pace around the halfway mark and well from there on out we were in for a bit of a rollercoaster ride.

The story follows Anna Goodard, a young woman who has recently discovered a secret making her all that more suspicious of her not so loving father. She starts investigating to uncover the truth trying to find evidence to back her assumptions. She ends up meeting Micheal – her love interest, while on her endeavors. Micheal is intelligent and charming. He has Anna smitten from the get go and in all honestly the feelings are mutual. We watch their relationship develop quite quickly through this book. I thought that they were cute and complemented each other really well. Both are smart and witty and they just seem to balance one another out.

Anyways, back to the story. Anna enlists the help of her brother Frank – who really hates his dad and her cousin Diane- who is no longer on speaking terms with her mother to come up with the perfect plan to find out what on earth is really going on. They end up involving their other halves and exposing truths at a family gathering after many complications but not long after the unthinkable happens leaving Anna to do what she thinks will save her family.

Lovas is a great writer – there is no doubt about that. This book is so intense and descriptive that you as reader feel as though if you close your eyes you are right there in the book dancing between the lines. For some reason, I am going to put this down to the tone of the book. I thought that this story was set in England and it wasn’t until I was a few chapters in that I realised, nope we’re in Baltimore. I did however find the dialogue very formal but I guess that’s just how these characters are meant to speak. I also find the the whole trope of not calling the police because you’ll end up in jail annoying, like what even is the point of them if they are just going to blame you without investigating properly but to each their own. I’m not going to spend ages ranting about this because lots of authors do it.

I honestly wish I could say that I loved this book but ultimately it was not for me. I just want to stress that just because I don’t like it doens’t mean that you won’t. It’s impossible for a person to love every single story that they read. It’s full of family drama and secrets and in all honesty I can see so many bookstagrammers and booktokers raving about this book in the near future and rightly so. If you love shows like The Good Wife, Big Little Lies, Mistresses (sorry I can’t think of any books that give me the same vibes) This is the book for you. I will be giving this book a 3/5 because even though I don’t like it subjectively there are some great parts if we look at it objectively.

I just want to say a massive thank you to BooksGoSocial and NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to read Silent Pretty Things as this has allowed me to experience something out of my usual book bubble and comfort zone! For those of you who do want to get your hands on this book it is now available on amazon.

As Good As Dead By Holly Jackson – Review

“Pip Fitz-Amobi is haunted by her last investigation. But soon a new case finds her and this time it’s all about Pip. 

She has a stalker, one who keeps asking: Who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears? 

Pip soon discovers a connection between her stalker and a local serial killer, but the police refuse to act. As the dangerous game plays out it’s clear that if Pip doesn’t find the answers, she’s as good as dead…”

When I say I am the biggest fan of the AGGGTM (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder) series I tell you no lies. I was caught a little off guard when I realised that the release of As Good As Dead was just around the corner and I hadn’t pre ordered it yet so I quickly hopped online and ordered one too many books (don’t worry all different kinds). I devoured this book in no time, I stayed up all night just to finish it, no regrets because what an explosive way to end a series, you know the saying “Go big or go home” – well Holly Jackson pulled out all the stops in this exhilarating thriller.

Long gone are the days of doe eyed cheery Pip trying to uncover truths so justice can prevail. She is damaged, broken, suffering from PTSD and she doesn’t have much faith left in the police or the justice system – they have failed her and those around one time too many times before. I like how Pip’s character developed throughout the series, getting a little darker with each story. I also want to point out how the book covers also reflect her character development as they start off as white moving on to red and this final cover is black- well I think they do anyways.

The first half of the story is a little bit slow but I think that is reflective on how Pip is feeling and how she is dealing with the aftermath of what happened in the previous book. Jackson’s portrayal of Pip suffering from PTSD was very well done and allows the reader to really get into Pip’s head and try to understand what it is that she is going through and why she is behaving the way that she is.

Around the halfway mark the book picks and from there on out it’s just go,go,go and we are holding on to the edge of our seats because this is getting crazy now! Holly Jackson is an evil mastermind who has plotted everything so perfectly – nothing is amiss when it comes back around in a full circle all these wonderful connection that we could’ve never imagined. I love that this series took a turn in a darker direction and ultimately Pip ended up doing exactly what I assumed she would when I first picked up A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, without reading the blurb. So I am ecstatic and in awe of how it all played out.

I did figure out who the culprit was quite early on but I personally think that’s because I’m obsessed with mystery and crime novels that I just find myself dreaming up every single crazy scenario that could ever happen. Holly Jackson is a miracle worker when it comes to this mind blowing series. I am so sad that it has all come to an end but just wow what a brilliant way to go out.

I will alway hold the A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series very close to my heart as Pip is just a badass that I would totally be friends with. Her relationship with Ravi is sickeningly cute and her friendships are just the type you ride or die for! I would definitely give this book a 5/5 like how can I not! I am obsessed – I look forward to whatever the future holds for Holly Jackson and can not wait to read whatever she has published next!

Witchy Coffee By Erin Ritch – Review

A fanciful coffee shop run by magical women. A barista that’s still trying to figure herself out. And a small town named Windia where the residents drink coffee and get into everyone’s business.

When a stranger shows up in town and puts her family’s coffee shop in jeopardy, Florence Mackenzie has to step in and do something to protect them, whether that’s an Espresso Off challenge, sabotage, or a good old fashioned banishment spell. But after the Mackenize women try to create a buzz by experimenting with a new blend of coffee beans, the residents of Windia suddenly start falling in love with each other. Florence chalks it up to the spirit of the holiday season, but when she starts falling in love (with the competition, no less) Florence starts to wonder if there’s something more bewitching in the air – or in the coffee?

A clean witchy romance set on the enchanting Oregon coastline, Witchy Coffee is filled to the brim with magical hijinks, an authentic enemies-to-lovers romance, and the cozy atmosphere of the Pacific Northwest during the holidays. Settle in with a coffee and slip away to the little town of Windia, where the forest meets the sea and there’s a promise of magic in every corner.

Witchy Coffee – yes! That is the title of this cute and I mean cuuuutteee (just look at it) book. How on earth could I resist and say no when presented with the opportunity to get my hand on an (ebook) advance review copy? I love all things to do with witches in all and every capacity so there I was screaming YES!! I went into to this book kind of blind. I didn’t bother to read the description only because I was already sold on the title and I thought lets just go wherever this story plans on taking me, no expectations.

I just want to point out that the whole time that I reading this book I kept thinking, that it would make the most perfect Hallmark or Lifetime movie. You know those little guilty pleasures that you binge watch around the winter break!! So just like every romantic story ever (I mean this in the best way possible) Florence Mackenzie just got fired from her job and now she’s headed back to her quaint coastal hometown for the holidays. Where she encounters a few surprises – family secrets, a handsome man who is trying to buy out her family business and magical coffee beans.

This story is warm and fuzzy packed with amazingly bold women who will do just about anything to protect what is theirs. It’s full of fun and a little surprises. What makes it even more endearing is the small town relationships and sense of community portrayed throughout. It’s just the perfect amount of subtle witchy goodness with a sprinkle of clean wholesome romance – it kind of makes me want to pack my bags and move! Who knows I might even end up meeting the love of my life.

The story was pretty fast paced and I was able to get through it within a couple of hours but I will also put that down to it being an ebook so It just made a little quicker to read. If you love coffee, romance and magic I would most definitely recommend this book to you! It’s a perfect book to cosy up with and enjoy a hot beverage. I’m going to score Witchy Coffee 4/5 I love how sweet (yep sweet is the perfect word to describe it) this story is. I think for me I wish there was little more magic and just a tad bit more romance but overall I still enjoyed this read. You can pick up your own copy of this book from the 24th August!

YES NO MAYBE SO BY Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed – Review

Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate—as long as he’s behind the scenes. When it comes to speaking to strangers (or, let’s face it, speaking at all to almost anyone), Jamie’s a choke artist. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.

Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Why her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing—with some awkward dude she hardly knows—is beyond her.

Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer—and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural romance of the century is another thing entirely

Let’s talk about this little book, Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed! It’s a young adult contemporary romance so it’s right up my alley. Who is their right mind could so no to a light-hearted cute romance with a dash of politics? You’ve guessed it, not me. As you already know I like to keep it 100% with you all so I’m not going to shy away from telling you that I was on the fence (I can think of so many political jokes and puns but I shall spare you!) about buying this book. On one hand, the blurb really did entice me, pulling me in with the all that talk about canvassing to get people to vote; something that is very near and dear to my heart and well the cover is super cute too. On the other hand, I could not help but think that I might not like this book because if I can be so frank – this story is advertised as a romance between a brown Muslim girl and a white Jewish boy.

To be clear there is nothing wrong with each individual nor is there anything wrong with them being together, I just think as a Muslim woman I’m sick of the trope of Muslim girls falling in love with white men continuously being portrayed in the media and books. It’s getting a tad old and it’s a little overplayed. We want representation, of course, we do but it is tiring to be always paired with a white man whom you end up giving up your principles and morals for. There is so much that I want to say and I want to divulge much deeper into this topic but we won’t do that today. Let’s get back to the book shall we? I just want to add that Maya’s perspective is written by Aisha Saeed who is a Pakistani Muslim so I can kind of forgive the fact that it went down this route… not because I automatically think it is okay if we write about this trope ourselves but because of the internal conflict and questioning that was portrayed by the author, I don’t think it was enough but it was there and it made it all that more real.

I really like stories with alternate perspectives as it allows you to get inside the head of each character just that little bit more than you usually can. It’s fun to see the main characters through each other’s eyes but it also opens up and gives us a better insight into their surroundings. Both characters are very relatable in their own ways. You’ve got Jamie who is shy and socially awkward and Maya who is more calm and confident. They are so different each with very different goals for their summer but they seem to bring out the best in each other as time passes and it is really nice to watch their relationship blossom.

I love the dynamics of each family, yes one is more vibrant and likeable than the other but they each have an important story to tell of their own. I found it quite refreshing that both families were not portrayed as your typical all American family. Jamie lives with his mum, grandma and sister and then you’ve got Maya, who is struggling to come to terms and adjust with her parents’ separation. Everything about these characters is so down to earth and relatable it very much makes it seem as though they are real teenagers that you could meet at school. I won’t lie my favourite character is definitely Jamie’s Gran and I’m guessing she’ll be your favourite too once you read this book!

Now onto the good stuff! I loved the strong political storyline about the election campaign and canvassing which takes a turn to youth activism so to speak. I personally think that it was beautifully written in a manner that is easy to digest even for those who don’t like politics. Honestly, I wanted to go out canvassing with Jamie and Maya even if it meant third-wheeling. The story made politics approachable and fun and that’s how it should be accessible to all. They even touched on some very important and relevant issues such as antisemitism and islamophobia. These are issues young people should be aware of and informed on even if they aren’t of voting age just yet. It’s very uplifting and makes you want to be involved in your own local community because there is an underlying message that anyone can make a difference be it big or small.

This book is heartwarming and it’s also funny and cute. I found myself smiling like an idiot several times. It’s a very enjoyable summer read. The romance is there but it’s not overbearing. I thoroughly enjoyed the political subplot I think there was so much going on that at times they just missed the mark and honestly, the ending felt a little rushed to me. There was also a point where I was getting pretty frustrated at some of the characters but hey nobody is perfect right? I think that is why I’m going to give this book a score of 3.5/5. I will however be buying books by both Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed in the near future as I enjoyed their writing and I would love to read their individual works and see how they differ from this collaboration.

My So-Called Bollywood Life By Nisha Sharma – Review

“Winnie Mehta was never really convinced that Raj was her soul mate, but their love was written in the stars. Literally, a pandit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before her eighteenth birthday, and Raj meets all the qualifications. Which is why Winnie is shocked when she returns from her summer at film camp to find her boyfriend of three years hooking up with Jenny Dickens. As a self-proclaimed Bollywood expert, Winnie knows this is not how her perfect ending is scripted.

Then there’s Dev, a fellow film geek and one of the few people Winnie can count on. Dev is smart and charming, and he challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope and find someone she’d pick for herself. But does falling for Dev mean giving up on her prophecy and her chance to live happily ever after? To find her perfect ending, Winnie will need a little bit of help from fate, family, and of course, a Bollywood movie star.”

Before we get into my review lets just talk about some things. It might sound a little crazy to everyone but never have I ever read a YA book by a South Asian woman before. As a Pakistani woman that baffles me, like how is that possible? I don’t think I’ve even ever come across such a thing until I saw My So-Called Bollywood Life on the WHSmith website, therefore, I automatically had to buy it. Maybe this is a, me problem, where I just haven’t been looking hard enough for authors who have a similar background and culture to myself but I know for a fact that there is a lack of diversity in the book world and we definitely need more books like this one and the ones that already exist we need to do a much better job of making them visible and more easily available and accessible.

Nisha Sharma’s debut YA novel My So-Called Bollywood Life is what I would class as a teenage rom-com starring an Indian American teenage girl Winne Mehta. She is a film enthusiast who dreams of getting her Bollywood style love story. Being from an Indian family there are certain religious and cultural tradition that her family follows. They believe in astrology and that birth charts can predict your future so it is very interesting to see how out Winne navigates with coming to terms with fate/destiny.

I love the family dynamics in this book it’s the perfect balance of what a loving family should look like. Winnie’s grandma might actually be my favourite character. I think South Asian grandmas are just really funny in general with their sassiness and those one-liners that they pull out of nowhere. I love that she speak in Punjabi throughout it makes it more delightful and adds to the charm of the book. I love Winnie’s relationship with her dad it is so wholesome and it is so cute that she gets her love of Bollywood films from him.

The layout of this book is something I really enjoyed. Each chapter starts with a mini-review of a classic Bollywood movie by Winne herself and it somewhat sets the tone for each of the chapters which I believe is very cleverly done by Nisha Sharma. As someone who wasn’t brought up on Bollywood and hasn’t actually ever seen a single Bollywood movie in their life, I was able to follow with ease and understand all the references which I really appreciate. So even as an outsider to the culture you can very easily develop an understanding of who Winne is and how she was brought up.

I really liked the fact that most of the main characters besides one maybe two are Indian. Both Winne’s love interests are Indian. I am not going to lie I think that is what excited me the most about this book. You read stories and watch tv shows about girls of different cultures in America and the UK who somehow fall in love with a white guy. Like there’s nothing wrong with that, you do you boo but this is not a hugely common thing. so it’s good to see some accurate representation that is relatable.

I’ll have to give My So-Called Bollywood Life a score of 3.5/5. I have nothing against this book it’s super cute, funny and so damn relatable! But I must say at one point I put the book down and didn’t really pick it up and finish it until two months later. I would still recommend giving Winnie’s story a read because there are so many girls out there who haven’t yet seen themselves visibly represented in literature before and this book is a step forward in the right direction.

Five Books I Fell In Love with – YA Edition

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.

I am a sucker for a good book that makes you feel, all the emotions and this books did just that. The characters are so real and so raw it just makes everything about this book so much more endearing. Eleanor and Park’s struggles and insecurities are so relatable that it gives them that extra human factor. You could say that there is nothing extra special about these characters, everyone is so flawed but that is what makes them and this story so amazing. It just feels real like this is actually somebody’s story to tell. This book made me feel like I wanted to be a teenager and fall in love for the very first time all over again that is how much I was in my feels.
Score – 4/5

A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder by Holly Jackson
The people you love weren’t algebra: to be calculated, subtracted, or held at arm’s length across a decimal point.

I love a good murder/mystery, these are the kind of books that I live for!! Let me just tell this that when I purchased this book I just picked it up because the title was obviously calling out to me. In my head I painted this picture that this story was going to be about a girl who had finally cracked and killed a couple of people and had gotten away with it because why not? (maybe this is a book I need to write because clearly I have a thing for serial killers) Holly Jackson blew my mind – this is such a fast paced easy read with an exhilarating plot. It is a rollercoaster of emotions and I was living for it! The layout of the book is pretty awesome and out of the box. This book has very special place in my heart as someone who has a degree in journalism because Pippa is a bad b and I want to be her.
Score – 5/5

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds
“Maybe it’s not how something ends that matters. Maybe it’s about having something good, even for a little while.”

I know everyone says not to judge a book by it’s cover but I’m totally cover girl. If you look pretty or catch my eye I will be intrigued and most likely buy you. That is how I ended up with this beauty! I spent my whole birthday reading Opposite of Always and I have no regerts, none at all. This book breaks my heart but it also makes me so happy. There’s a little bit of everything in the story, love, friendship a lot personal growth and there is time travel! What more can you ask for? I’m not really one for time loops just because they tend to get tedious and they’ve been done so many times that they get predictable. I also get bored easily but I really enjoyed this book. It was hilarious – found myself laughing more often than thought I would. The story is so heartfelt and emotional in a good way but my heart was going through it reading this. Also one other thing I wanted to just big up the author for is how diverse all the characters in the book are. We love to see it! I look forward to reading more of his work in the near future because this is a beautiful debut!
Score 4.5/5

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
“People like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice. I think we all wait for that one time though, that one time when it ends right.”

If you haven’t already read this book or seen the movie I would just like to ask you where you’ve been for the past two years? Like go read it now!! This is such an important book with an even more important message. Angie Thomas did this, she created a book that resonates with so many people in one way or another. She approaches and tackles social, political & racial issues, real issues through fiction. This book is so layered and sadly so real, it broke my heart because there is someone out their who has lived parts of this or will live part of this and that makes me sick to even think about it. Education and awareness is so important and this book is just honest and thought provoking. I will forever recommend this book to everyone, teenagers and adults alike get yourself a copy!
(I’m not going to get all political in this post because I could go on forever but educate yourselves!!)
Score – 5/5

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
“Uncertainty isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it can even be filled with extraordinary potential.”

Look at all those stars on the cover – you know where I am going with this don’t you! The stars, the moon anything related to the beauty of the night sky will forever have a hold on my heart! This book is a true coming of age story with a heck of a lot of diversity and inclusion. I love it!!! Starry Eyes is just a bundle of crazy but the awesome kind. I love that the main characters aren’t conventional types that always tend to have a voice in most books. They are unique and quirky and so is everyone around them. I went through this book fairly quickly it’s just so fun and cute it kind of made me miss being so young and getting up to stupid shizz. A perfect summer read if you ask me.
Score – 4/5

The Summer I Turned Pretty Trilogy – Review

Okay, so I am back with another review!! I really wanted to make a youtube video about this trilogy just so my facial expressions could fully convey my feelings the way words may not be able to.

After reading To All The Boy’s I’ve Loved Before I just felt it in my soul that I needed to get my hands on The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy. It was a need more than a want. I searched high and low, I scoured the internet for months trying to get my hands all three book with the same cover art and honestly it was a very difficult task. And just when I had given up hope I randomly walked into my local The Works and there they were in all their glory, all three books packed together and guess how much they cost me… only 5 quid like totally worth the wait! Okay so now that this story is over let’s get into the books. I’m going to try my best to not give away any spoilers.

“Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer—they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.”

Book #1 focuses on Belly (Isabel) going back to Cousin’s Beach for the summer with her mother and brother. They stay there every summer with their mum’s best friend and her boys. From the title, it of course, implies that Belly is now older and prettier and is getting somewhat more attention from the boys so as any normal teenage girl would want, she’s hoping that she can capture the heart of her long time crush.

The story mainly consists of flashbacks relaying the backstory and the dynamics between the characters. Belly, her brother – Steven, Conrad – her crush and of course Jeremiah – Conrad’s Brother (who I am just going to add is so obviously in love with Belly) Yes there is a love triangle wait no there is a love square but it does not evolve the way one would expect it to. The whole book is really a cat and mouse sort of situation – the whole series is. I wish I could  elaborate more without giving everything away but that is not possible.

One of my favourite things about this book is that I love Susannah so much. She is the one character in this book that I would be infatuated with in real life. She sounds like a wholesome being who is an amazing friend, a great mother and a wonderful second mum to Belly. I think the one thing that really just captured my heart was that Belly loves Susannah like she is her own mother sometimes not realising that her mother is just as amazing and Susannah always lets her know it.

It used to be that Belly counted the days until summer, until she was back at Cousins Beach with Conrad and Jeremiah. But not this year. Not after Susannah got sick again and Conrad stopped caring. Everything that was right and good has fallen apart, leaving Belly wishing summer would never come. But when Jeremiah calls saying Conrad has disappeared, Belly knows what she must do to make things right again. And it can only happen back at the beach house, the three of them together, the way things used to be. If this summer really and truly is the last summer, it should end the way it started—at Cousins Beach.

Book #2 I don’t really know how I felt about this one. It took me a lot longer to get into and I really wanted to strangle all the character especially Belly. Who after everything is still acting like a selfish little child but so is everybody else around her. She’s not a good friend and I don’t think she was in any way a good girlfriend. Honestly, a lot happens but at the same time it doesn’t if that makes sense. Belly is supposed to spend summer with her best friend Taylor but Belly being Belly she wants to be at the beach house and she is making it really obvious that this is not the summer she wanted. So when Jeremiah calls her to ask for her help looking for Conrad she could not be happier.

Conrad’s disappearance adds some much needed  layers to this story. I feel like he was just filling his big brother role and trying his best. As the eldest child, I can tell you we get tunnel vision when it comes to doing what we think is best for our family and protecting others so regardless of what anyone else says I am team, Conrad. We also get to see Jeremiah’s point of view in this book and it gives you more of an understanding of who he is and why he is the way that he is. We get to see what his family is like from his perspective rather than just seeing the Fishers from Belly’s point of view. The love triangle intensity has gone up but at least it’s not a square anymore. There is a lot of nostalgia and an over looming sense of sadness and acceptance in this book and I think it makes a great segue into the third.

“Belly has only ever been in love with two boys, both with the last name Fisher. And after being with Jeremiah for the last two years, she’s almost positive he is her soul mate. Almost. While Conrad has not gotten over the mistake of letting Belly go, Jeremiah has always known that Belly is the girl for him. So when Belly and Jeremiah decide to make things forever, Conrad realises that it’s now or never—tell Belly he loves her, or lose her for good.”

Okay, I have so many yet so little words for this book. Gurrrll!!! I was shook. I’m not even exaggerating, I was about seven pages in and confused about life. Fine, the blurb gives it away that Jeremiah is with Belly and there is a time jump but just reading it I was like noooo whyyy is this happening?!?! The more and more I read the more and more I was like I can not stand Jeremiah his character did a complete 180 and the entire time I was thinking who is this idiot? Honestly, it’s fine that his character did because you are always evolving through life and the things that happen to you or around you shape you over time but he just turned out to be not likeable at all.

I tried so hard to love Belly throughout the series but in the end, I just couldn’t. In this book, you start to see some personal growth and a young woman coming into her own. She even starts to own some of her shortcomings which is amazing but then she just goes back to being her immature self. It comes across as though she thinks the whole world revolves around her. Which is a very unlikeable trait in anyone. I like Conrad to an extent but if a guy did to me what Conrad has done to Belly over the series I would have slapped some sense into him by now. ( I do not condone violence please do not take that away from this. kthanks!) I feel like the only person who has changed is Taylor. She has matured and is so much more likeable and trust me when I say this because I hated Taylor in the first two books.

Overall out of all the books I think #3 has the most amount of drama and craziness but as they say if you’re going to go out, go out with a bang and that is what Jenny Han has done with this book! A little disappointed that the ending didn’t give us readers a bit more of what we would’ve liked i.e a Conrad and Belly scene but needless to say I am satisfied with the ending.

I would give this series a 3/5 don’t get me wrong these books are a perfect quick read, out in the summer sun. They make you feel nostalgic for a beach house summer with your best friends. I’ve always wanted a house by the water and reading about Belly’s summers has really ignited my love for that dream again. Part of me thinks that if I read these books when they first came out, when I was much younger maybe I would have fallen in love with these books because my perspective on life would’ve been a lot different but unfortunately that is not the case now.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before Collection – Review

I’ve never written a book review before so here goes nothing…

all three
I totally forgot I didn’t have a picture of all three books together so I had to run outside just now and take this…

I must admit I had never really heard of Jenny Han before. I think I may have come across her once or twice while watching a few booktubers just mention her in what they were currently reading but I had never looked into who she is or what she has written.

My interest in Jenny Han sparked when I saw the new Netflix trailer for To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.  Immediately I fell in love when I saw the main character was going to be played by an Asain. Like YASS, hello, so excited!! The premise also looked pretty interesting but more so intriguing. I wanted to know how it was all going to play out and I’m impatient so I wasn’t going to wait until the movie came out so instead I bought the books.

Okay so a little background on the author, Jenny Han is an Asain American writer. She writes Young Adult Novels and has previously written a trilogy called The Summer I Turned Pretty and apparently it’s really good. She has also co-written other stories but we’re not going to focus on those.

Okay so let’s talk about To All The Boys I’ve Before…

to all the boys i loved before

Here’s the blurb.

“What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?  Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.”

First things first I am a sucker for anything cute and romantic when it comes to books. I love the idea of someone falling in love and being able to read about their journey. So when I picked up this book I kind of knew what to expect because the premise was laid out for us in the trailer and of course the blurb gives us a vivid enough picture. The book itself is very pretty. I love the cover and how girly it is, there’s just something about it that would make a teenage girl want to pick this book up and read it. Hey, it made a 25-year-old want to do that.

The story follows the journey of Lara Jean Covey who is biracial, she is half Korean and half Caucasian. You rarely find books especially YA books that have a POC as their lead. So it was quite endearing because representation really does matter especially through creative outlets. I also love the fact that Lara Jean is the middle child. How many stories do you read about middle children? None come to mind. Honestly, it was kind of refreshing to read through her perspective.

One of the main reasons I love this book is because of how easy it was to read. I finished it in 4 days. The writing style is very light and playful and kind of how do I put this amateurish because there is no complexity to any of it. I personally feel as though that adds to the charm of the book and also conveys Lara Jean’s personality and her innocence. So fair play Jenny Han, fair play.

Before I picked up this book, I had a little look on Goodreads to see what people thought of it. I mainly came across comments such as people didn’t like Lara Jean because she comes across as very childish and immature for her age. She is supposed to be 16 but acts a lot younger than she should be.  Hmm I have to disagree because I feel like a lot of us are forgetting how immature and naive we were at 16. You are still a child and everyone develops and matures differently, at their own pace.  For me, how Lara Jean is bought up, her family circumstances and who she is as a person comes across very well throughout the book.

She is quirky, goofy and a little bit whimsical, she quotes Sleepless in Seattle (which is one of my favourite films btw) She likes to keep a hold on old things, she writes letters to her crushes and keeps them in a hatbox which her mother gave to her if that isn’t the cutest thing ever I don’t know what is. I kinda love Lara Jean because she is a voice for many unheard teenagers.

Okay so less rambling and on to the story itself. The book started off slowly in the romantic department and is more so based on her family dynamics. Lara Jean has two sisters, One older sister Margot and a younger sister Kitty. He dad is an OBYGN and her mother passed away when she was younger. You grow to love each family member as they add so much depth and personality to the story. My personal favourite is Kitty, she is my long lost soul sister!

Even though we are initially fed the idea that there are five love letters which is in fact true. The story only focuses on two main love interests, Josh and Peter. You’ve got the boy next door who is seemingly the perfect boyfriend. Yes, he is dating Lara Jean’s sister Margot. Again I feel like people were criticising the fact that Lara Jean was in love with her sister’s boyfriend but if we take a step back and think rationally. When you grow up with someone and you are in such close proximity to this person and you do everything together you tend to develop feelings and I’m sorry sometimes the line gets blurred but you can’t really help how you feel.

Next, you have my main man Peter. He is your childhood best friend/crush who gets popular and hot and dates the popular girl but you have a bit of history.  The two strike a deal to pretend to be together to help each other out. I found myself rooting for Peter throughout the book even though their relationship was fake it was a nice good clean romance. Which made me like the book even more. It is kinda fluff but the feel-good kinda fluff that addresses issues that a lot of teenagers face when it comes to love, family or just finding yourself.

The only thing I found slightly frustrating about this book was the fact that it ended on a cliffhanger. Like girrrrrl, if I didn’t already have the second book next to me I would be so mad. I guess it’s a good job that I did.

ps i still love you

The Blurb

“Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?”

Book number two is a continuation of book one. You are thrown right in. Lara Jean loves to write letters and that how this book starts. It’s nice to see how Lara Jean has developed and grown even if it is only a little as a person and I think the letter to Peter shows that she is coming to terms with how she feels. The book is centred around her and Peter making their relationship real.  The main focus in this book is the romance, we don’t really see any development outside that department whether it be family or friendships. So that was a little bit disappointing but I knew there was another book to go so I was okay with that.

In this instalment, another boy is thrown into the mix. He is one of the lucky five who received letters. He is also a childhood friend who grew up with both Peter and Lara Jean. I think adding him into the mix added a little bit more drama because you’ve got Lara Jean crushing on someone who is not her boyfriend and her boyfriend is spending more time with his ex.

I really give props to Jenny Han for trying to tackle an issue that is prevalent in this day an age. That being social media and anonymous online posting essentially cyberbullying. We see how both characters who are very different handle the situation. It also explores and points out double standards in society and how women receive the short end of the stick and guys just seem to get away without even an acknowledgement.

This book is the most eventful out of the three and moves a lot quicker than the first one. I’m not going to lie I don’t know how I felt about the ending just because I kinda saw it coming but at the same time, I didn’t want it to happen.

always & forever

The Blurb

“Lara Jean is having the best senior year. And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends. Life couldn’t be more perfect! At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks…until she gets some unexpected news. Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

I loved seeing each character come into their own and maturing especially our main character, Lara Jean. I felt like a proud older sister reading this book. We watch, well we read how she finally makes decisions for herself. One thing I love about Lara Jean is that when she is stressed out she bakes and I relate to that so much!! I just found myself laughing to myself at times.

We again get to explore her family dynamics and how everything has changed and developed since last had a proper look. Lara Jean’s Dad is getting married, Margot has a boyfriend and Kitty is just ever so wonderful and witty as ever!

You see a real side to our main character that lots of teenagers are able to relate to. She has applied for colleges and she is waiting to find out if she got in and you experience her anxiety with her because it is something we have all experienced in one way or another. Planning for the future and sometimes things don’t go to plan just like with Lara Jean. I think there is a moral to the story though, everything happens for a reason and sometimes something better is waiting for you. You just have to be brave enough to make the right choices for yourself.

Again this book was a little slow, there was hardly any drama except for Peter and Lara Jean not communicating properly and having one argument. Most of the drama, if there is any, it is centred around trying to get into college and making life fit with those plans. Other than that the book has an overall happyish theme going on.

Overall though I think it was a good conclusion to the series and we left our character feeling differently about them than we felt in the beginning. I was left feeling hopeful for what was to come in the future for both Lara Jean and Peter but also I felt like if they weren’t to make it, in the long run, it would be okay as well.

If I had to rate these books I would give them a 4/5 as an average because I did enjoy them but I didn’t fall in love completely. I might feel differently after I’ve had a little time to let all of it sink in but I feel like these books will be on my shelf for a long time to come and maybe one day I’ll have kids and I’ll suggest they give these books a whirl as they are good light-hearted reads that make you laugh, feel emotional and warm inside all at the same time.