Review: Choose Your Own AutobiographyTitle: Choose Your Own Autobiography
Author: Neil Patrick Harris
Genre(s): LGBTQ+, Memoir, Non-Fiction
Pages: 291
Source: Library
For: Book Club
Rating:
Sexual Content: 1 Flames

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There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

Tired of memoirs that only tell you what really happened? Sick of deeply personal accounts written in the first person? Seeking an exciting, interactive read that puts the “u” back in “aUtobiography”? Then look no further than CHOOSE YOUR OWN AUTOBIOGRAPHY! In this revolutionary, Joycean experiment in light celebrity narrative, actor/personality/carbon-based life-form Neil Patrick Harris lets you, the reader, live his life. Choose correctly and you’ll find fame, fortune, and true love. Choose incorrectly and you’ll find misery, heartbreak, and a hideous death by piranhas.

My Thoughts

My IRL book club has done a memoir-of-choice-month in July for the last three or four years. This year I chose to read CHOOSE YOUR OWN AUTOBIOGRAPHY by Neil Patrick Harris (NPH).

I’ve been a fan of NPH for a while. I loved him as Barney Stinson in the sitcom HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER and as Dr. Horrible in Joss Whedon’s DR. HORRIBLE’S SING-ALONG BLOG. And, I thought it’d be fun to read his memoir.

CHOOSE YOUR OWN AUTOBIOGRAPHY is written in the style of the choose your own adventure novels. This style lends mostly to true stories about NPH with the occasional “if you want to listen to your own horrible death, keep listening” anecdotes. Like most celebrity memoirs, NPH narrates his own audiobook. He even breaks out into song every now and then. Even though the choose-your-own-adventure style would’ve worked better in book form, I think the audiobook is still worth listening to.

So pluck up your courage and take that risk! Add another story to the book of your life. Even if it doesn’t go the way you planned or wanted, you’ll still learn from it.

CHOOSE YOUR OWN AUTOBIOGRAPHY focuses on NPH as a whole rather than just one aspect of his life. It focuses on his acting, love of magic, coming out, finding love, and starting a family all while giving him a chance to be funny. I really loved a lot of the over-the-top parts. I especially loved listening to the sometimes true, sometimes comedic notes from his friends. My favorite parts, though, were the stories about his husband and their kids.

Despite the choose-your-own-adventure format not quite working in audiobook form, CHOOSE YOUR OWN AUTOBIOGRAPHY was fun to listen to and I’m glad I read it.

Have you read CHOOSE YOUR OWN AUTOBIOGRAPHY? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for bullying, derogatory comments toward gays, and drug use.

Review: BeartownTitle: Beartown
Series: Beartown #1
Genre(s): Contemporary, LGBTQ+
Pages: 432
Source: Library
For: Book Club
Rating:
Sexual Content: 0.5 Flames

Goodreads Amazon

There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys. Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

My Thoughts

My IRL book club chose to read BEARTOWN for our March book and it’s my second Fredrik Backman book. I’m glad we chose to read it because it’s a thought-provoking story that deals with hard subjects like toxic masculinity, winning at all costs, and consent.

BEARTOWN was a very hard emotional read. The story’s sad but hopeful, and extremely maddening. At times, it was difficult to keep reading. Even though my heart hurts, it was worth the pain and sorrow. I absolutely had no idea that a book about hockey (but not really) would make me feel the way I did.

Humanity has many shortcomings, but none is stronger than pride.

If you’ve ever read one of Backman’s books, then you know his stories are as good as they are because of his characters. Not only is he a master at writing emotionally charged stories, he’s also a master at writing a whole cast of round, complicated characters. The characters in BEARTOWN are no exception. These characters were so easy to connect with because they felt like real people with real lives.

BEARTOWN is the first book in a trilogy. I totally get why Backman wrote another two novels about these characters. The story’s so complex that this first installment could only focus on so much. Backman did a great job of picking and choosing what’s most important so much so that I don’t need to rush and read US AGAINST YOU and THE WINNERS.

Ever since I finished reading BEARTOWN, I’ve been trying to decide if I want to give it 4 or 5 stars. I’m honestly still torn about it. For now, I’ve given it 4.5 stars, but I may change it to 5.

Have you read BEARTOWN? If so, what did you think about it?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for suicide, suicidal ideation, rape, loss of a parent, loss of a child, bullying, and abuse.

Review: Dating Dr. DilTitle: Dating Dr. Dil
Author: Nisha Sharma
Series: If Shakespeare were an Aunty #1
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 364
Source: Own
For: Book of the Month, Trim Your TBR Challenge
Rating:
Sexual Content: 4 Flames

Goodreads Amazon

There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

Kareena Mann dreams of having a love story like her parents, but she prefers restoring her classic car to swiping right on dating apps. When her father announces he’s selling her mother’s home, Kareena makes a deal with him: he’ll gift her the house if she can get engaged in four months. Her search for her soulmate becomes impossible when her argument with Dr. Prem Verma, host of The Dr. Dil Show, goes viral. Now the only man in her life is the one she doesn’t want.

My Thoughts

DATING DR. DIL was the February pick for my Trim My TBR Challenge. I was really excited to read it because it’s a retelling of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW by William Shakespeare and Nisha Sharma did an excellent job with the execution, creating a hot steamy romance that leaves you wanting for more.

I read DATING DR. DIL in two days, which is unheard of for me as I’m not a very fast reader. I got caught up in Kareena’s and Prem’s lives and wanted to know how their story would end. I also really loved the double POV and being in both of their heads. The enemies-to-lovers trope is one of my favorites and DATING DR. DIL did not disappoint. Kareena and Prem had so much chemistry together, including awesome bantering and amazing sexual tension.

The biggest mistake you can make is trying to interpret someone’s actions in a way that fits your definition for love.

I really enjoyed being a part of Kareena’s and Prem’s culture as I read DATING DR. DIL. I honestly didn’t know much about the American desi culture. I loved all the descriptions of the clothing, parties, and food. Oh the food! I’m now craving Indian from my favorite local restaurant. The strong familial influence, sometimes to the detriment of the characters mental health, and the pressure for Indian women to be married and having kids before 30 really resonated with me.

I’m only rating DATING DR. DIL four stars because I just can’t get past a few descriptions of Prem’s mandhood. View Spoiler » Other than that, I really enjoyed DATING DR. DIL and I’m glad I finally read it. I look forward to reading the two companion novels.

Have you read DATING DR. DIL? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for loss of a parent.

Review: This Spells LoveTitle: This Spells Love
Author: Kate Robb
Genre(s): Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 352
Source: Own
For: Book of the Month, Trim Your TBR Challenge
Rating:
Sexual Content: 4 Flames

Goodreads Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis

What if one little wish changed everything? When Gemma gets dumped by her long-term boyfriend, she reacts the way any reasonable twenty-eight-year-old would: by getting drunk with her sister, kooky aunt, and best friend, Dax. They decide to perform a love-cleansing spell, which promises to erase Gemma’s ex from her memory. They follow all the instructions, including a platonic kiss from Dax to seal the deal. When Gemma wakes up, she realizes that this silly spell has worked, except that Dax has no idea who she is either.

My Thoughts

For my 2024 challenges, I decided to focus on reading my Book of the Month books because I’m sorely behind. To help me with this focus, I used BOTM books that have been on my TBR for over a year to create my Trim Your TBR Challenge list. The number for THIS SPELLS LOVE was picked for January and I’m so glad because I absolutely adored it.

I zipped right through THIS SPELLS LOVE because I couldn’t put it down. When I wasn’t reading it, I wanted to be reading it. It hooked me right from the beginning and has left me thinking of the characters and their relationships long after I finished reading.

I adored everything about THIS SPELLS LOVE. I loved Gemma Wilde, her sister, kooky aunt, and her best friend Daxon McGuire. I loved the setting of Hamilton, Canada, just outside Toronto. The description of the people, shops, pubs, curling lanes, and the waterfront of Lake Ontario had me ready to book a plane ticket so I could experience it first hand.

Friends-to-lovers is hands down my favorite romantic trope and THIS SPELLS LOVE didn’t disappoint. Kate Robb’s execution was excellently written, producing a steamy fast-paced romance. The sexual tension between Gemma and Dax is amazing and leaves you wanting for more.

I also loved the lit bit of paranormal, in the form of a love-cleansing spell in THIS SPELLS LOVE. It was fun to see it flip Gemma’s world on its head, causing her to figure out what was truly important to her.

“It’s like Hot Tub Time Machine without the hot tub.”

When I finished THIS SPELLS LOVE, I waffled over rating it 4- or 5-stars. It didn’t take me long to realize that there was nothing about it that I didn’t love. Robb’s debut has a lot to live up to, but I’m definitely looking forward to reading more books written by her.

Have you read THIS SPELLS LOVE? If so, what did you think?

Review: The InvocationsTitle: The Invocations
Author: Krystal Sutherland
Genre(s): Horror, YA
Pages: 400
Source: Library
For: Recommended
Rating:
Sexual Content: 0.5 Flames

Goodreads Amazon

There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

Zara Jones believes in magic because the alternative is too painful to bear--that her sister was murdered by a serial killer and there is precisely nothing she can do to change it. Jude Wolf might be the daughter of a billionaire, but she is also undeniably cursed. After a deal with a demon went horribly wrong, her soul is now slowly turning necrotic. Enter Emer Bryne: the solution to both Zara's and Jude's predicaments. The daughter of a witch, Emer sells spells to women in desperate situations willing to sacrifice a part of their soul in exchange for a bit of power, a bit of magic to change their lives. As Zara and Jude enter Emer's orbit, they'll have to team up to stop the killer--before they each end up next on his list.

My Thoughts

I really enjoy reading horror, but I don’t read it very often because fantasy and romance have my heart. When I read Ellie’s ARC review of THE INVOCATIONS, I knew I had to read it right away. I immediately put it on hold at the library and waited for its release and my turn.

I finished reading THE INVOCATIONS last night and I’m so glad I decided to read it right away. I was not disappointed in the least. I loved the idea of witches and witch hunters, and the use of invocations to grant women borrowed power from demons for a small piece of their soul. The story was dark, tense, mysterious, and full of paranormal goodness. It reminded me of an episode of Netflix’s THE CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA, which is what I think Krystal Sutherland was going for since she mentioned the show a couple of times in the story.

I did not come this far to only come this far.

I loved the three main characters in THE INVOCATIONS. Zara Jones is smart, determined, and grieving the loss of her sister. Jude Wolf is trying to find a way, any way, back into the good graces of her billionaire father’s heart, if he has one, and the life of luxury that represents. Emer Byrne is simply trying to exist without being tracked by those who want witches dead. Together they make an unstoppable team.

I really enjoyed THE INVOCATIONS. It gave me exactly what I was looking for. It ends in a way that doesn’t demand a sequel, but open enough if Sutherland wants to return to this world.

Have you read THE INVOCATIONS? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for loss of a parent, corpse mutilation, and blood drinking.