Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved BeforeTitle: To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, YA
Pages: 368 (Kindle)
Source: Library
For: Book Club
Rating:
Steaminess: 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

Lara Jean keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. One for every boy she's ever loved. The letters are for her eyes only. Until the day they are mailed, and suddenly Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

My Thoughts

I’ve wanted to read TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE ever since it became a huge phenomenon because of the Netflix movie. Yet, I’m only just reading it now because it’s my IRL book club’s book for February. (I’m excited that I can finally watch the Netflix movie at least! Woot woot! ) There are minor spoilers in this review.

I really liked Lara Jean and her sisters. I also really liked the interaction between Lara Jean and the two main guys, the boy next door and Mister Cocky-Handsome-Everyone-Loves-Me. What I didn’t like is that two main guys meant that there was a love triangle. I despise love triangles. They’re my least favorite YA trope. They’re the main reason I don’t read as much YA romance anymore.

Love is scary: it changes; it can go away. That’s part of the risk.

Even though TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE had a love triangle, I decided to be optimistic. I even told myself, maybe Lara Jean will end up with the boy I want her to. Of course, all kinds of chaos ensued and it was a lot of fun to read and witness. I actually really enjoyed the story, but the ending, or non-ending I should say, almost ruined it all for me!

I like choosing to read the next book in a series because I want to, not because I have to. I understand series have cliffhangers; I’ve just never read one quite like this and in the first book. At this point, I’m not sure I’m going to continue the series. I’ll probably just see if I can get what I need from the Netflix movie(s).

I’ve been trying to decide if I want to rate TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE 3 or 4 stars. I’m settling on 3.5 stars. (I find myself giving out more half-star ratings.)

Have you read TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for loss of a parent.

Review: The Magnolia PalaceTitle: The Magnolia Palace
Author: Fiona Davis
Genre(s): Historical Fiction
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
Source: Book of the Month
For: Book of the Month
Rating:
Steaminess: 0.5 Flames

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Goodreads Synopsis

THE MAGNOLIA PALACE tells the story of two women separated by nearly 50 years. 21-year-old Lillian Carter stumbles upon an employment opportunity, but the longer she works as a private secretary to the imperious and demanding Helen Frick, the more deeply her life gets intertwined with that of the family, pulling her into a tangled web of romantic trysts, stolen jewels, and family drama that runs so deep, the stakes just may be life or death. Her life falls apart as a looming scandal leaves her entirely without a safe haven. When 18-year-old English model Veronica Weber is dismissed from the Vogue shoot taking place at the Frick mansion, she chances upon a series of hidden messages: messages that lead her on a hunt that could finally reveal the truth behind a decades-old murder in the infamous Frick family.

My Thoughts

I received THE MAGNOLIA PALACE as my January book from Book of the Month. I’ve been excited to read it ever since I read the synopsis and I’m happy to report that I wasn’t disappointed.

I was hooked on THE MAGNOLIA PALACE from the get-go. I adored it from start to finish. When I’d put the book down, I’d keep thinking about it and I’d want to pick it right back up again. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.

I really loved the dual timeline. I thought it was the perfect vehicle for the story, especially with the mystery aspect of it. I was more invested in Lillian’s story than Veronica’s. I didn’t dislike Veronica or anything; I was just more interested in the 1919 time period than the 1966 one.

The rich think they’re protected, that they have magical powers, when in fact they’re only mortals, like the rest of us. Bodies break down, betray you. People you love die. Children die.

I had no idea that Henry Clay Frick, his daughter, and the Frick Collection were real as I read the story. I didn’t even know that Lillian was based on a model from the 1900’s. I loved reading the author’s note and finding out that Fiona Davis mixed non-fiction with fiction to create the magnificent story that is THE MAGNOLIA PALACE. I don’t know what historians or relatives of the Frick family and the model would think about Fiona Davis’ fiction, but I thought it made for a compelling read.

Ever since I finished reading THE MAGNOLIA PALACE at 2am, I’ve been trying to decide if I want to rate it 4 or 5 stars. I finally settled on 4.5 stars, which might change. One thing is for sure, I’m definitely going to be checking out more of Fiona Davis’ books.

Have you read THE MAGNOLIA PALACE? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for death of a parent.

Review: How ToTitle: How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems
Author: Randall Munroe
Genre(s): Humor, Illustrated, Non-Fiction
Pages: 308 (Hardcover)
Source: Giveaway
For: Play Book Tag
Rating:
Steaminess: 0 Flames

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Goodreads Synopsis

For any task you might want to do, there's a right way, a wrong way, and a way so monumentally complex, excessive, and inadvisable that no one would ever try it. HOW TO is a guide to the third kind of approach. It's full of highly impractical advice for everything from landing a plane to digging a hole.

My Thoughts

My husband turned me onto the xkcd webcomic about a decade ago. I’m not the most religious follower, but I do like his humor. I found out about HOW TO through my library’s “Best in Books 2019” event and actually won a copy of the book while I was there. I was really excited that out of all the books I could’ve won, I won Randall Munroe’s.

I loved HOW TO. I loved all the crazy things Munroe thought of doing using absurd, over-the-top scientific methods accompanied by his typical stylistic stick figure drawings made HOW TO a delight to read. I also loved that since I was in a physics class last semester, a lot of the physics he used and talked about were things I had just learned, albeit on a much simpler level.

Physics doesn’t care if your question is weird. It just gives you the answer, without judging.

One of my favorite chapters was “How to Throw Things” because he has an interactive element on his website with the physics built in. I think it’s hilarious that Thor AND Chris Hemsworth are available throwers. I recommend playing around with it because it’s fun, even if you haven’t read the chapter.

Anyway, I’m glad my Goodreads group’s tag this month was science and prompted me to finally read HOW TO. It was 9 hours well spent (thanks, Bookly, for the stats).

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

Review: Anxious PeopleTitle: Anxious People
Genre(s): Contemporary
Pages: 346 (Kindle)
Source: Library
For: Unofficial Trim Challenge
Rating:
Steaminess: 0 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

A poignant, charming novel about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined. Humorous, compassionate, and wise, ANXIOUS PEOPLE is an ingeniously constructed story about the enduring power of friendship, forgiveness, and hope--the things that save us, even in the most anxious of times.

My Thoughts

I’ve never been interested in reading Fredrik Backman’s books. They sounded boring to me. Then my IRL book club read ANXIOUS PEOPLE back in September and the discussion sounded interesting. Fortunately, I didn’t pay attention too much so I wouldn’t be spoiled because I decided to add it to my Unofficial Trim Challenge list and its number was chosen for January.

Some of us never manage to get the chaos under control, so our lives simply carry on, the world spinning through space at two million miles an hour while we bounce about on its surface like so many lost socks.

I’m so glad I decided to act opposite of my initial inclination and read ANXIOUS PEOPLE. I absolutely adored this book. I was giggling from the outset and I was hooked from the first time I sat down on Monday and started to read the book. I loved how it was written, that we got the story in parts. It reminded me a lot of TRULY MADLY GUILTY by Liane Moriarty (but better executed). I wanted to keep reading so I could figure out how everything would play out.

After I finished reading ANXIOUS PEOPLE, I felt almost spiritually moved and like Backman had spoken to me through his characters on a deep personal level. Backman made me feel a gambit of emotions for every single character, including the grumpy know-it-all who thrived on causing conflict. It made me love every single one of them. He even made me have feelings for bridges.

I’ll definitely look into Frederik Backman’s other books now and see if I like any of them as much as ANXIOUS PEOPLE. It was such a treat to read.

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

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for suicide and suicidal ideation.

Review: Keep MovingTitle: Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change
Author: Maggie Smith
Genre(s): Non-Fiction
Pages: 224 (Hardcover)
Source: Library
For: Book Club
Rating:
Steaminess: 0 Flames

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Goodreads Synopsis

When Maggie Smith, the award-winning author of the viral poem Good Bones, started writing daily Twitter posts in the wake of her divorce, they unexpectedly caught fire. In this deeply moving book of quotes and essays, Maggie writes about new beginnings as opportunities for transformation. Like kintsugi, the Japanese art of mending broken ceramics with gold, KEEP MOVING celebrates the beauty and strength on the other side of loss. This is a book for anyone who has gone through a difficult time and is wondering: What comes next?

My Thoughts

KEEP MOVING is my IRL book club’s pick for January. I picked it up from the library yesterday and I read it really quickly, in a few hours, as it’s mostly pages of affirmations.

Don’t wait for your life to magically come together–it’s your work to do. Every day, every moment, you are making your life from scratch. Today, take one step, however small, toward creating a life you can be proud of.

I liked a lot of the affirmations, like the one above, but my favorite parts of the book were the parts where Smith went into more detail, where she talked about her losses from losing her grandmother, two miscarriages, and divorce. Those were the times I felt a kinship toward her. Even if I hadn’t experienced loss quite the same way she had, I could still empathize with her and think of ways to apply her advice to my own life.

I really liked her perspective on things, especially when she talked about serotinous pine cones and how they only open and spread their seeds in the midst of fire. Or, how she likened trauma and loss to kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing ceramics with gold. The ceramic piece is beautiful because of its brokenness instead of in spite of it.

I wasn’t sure I’d like KEEP MOVING, but I’m glad I read it. I gave KEEP MOVING 3 stars because the ratio between affirmations to the parts I actually wanted to read was too high. Otherwise, I would’ve given it 4 stars.

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