Review: The Good SisterTitle: The Good Sister
Author: Sally Hepworth
Genre(s): Romance, Thriller
Pages: 309 (Hardcover)
Source: Library
For: Book Club
Rating:
Steaminess: 2 Flames

Goodreads   Book Depository   Amazon

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

Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights, and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be ... dangerous.

My Thoughts

I was really excited to read THE GOOD SISTER because my IRL friend Jenny recommended it to our book club and I usually enjoy the same type of thrillers she does. We decided to read it as September’s book and I’m glad we did so I’d read it sooner rather than later.

I loved THE GOOD SISTER. It was a fantastic story that kept me reading until I was done with the book. I saw the big twist coming a mile away; it didn’t ruin the suspense or story for me, though, because I still wanted to know how everything would play out. I wasn’t disappointed.

I really liked the characters in THE GOOD SISTER. I liked that even though I guessed the twist, I still kept wondering if I was right. I also loved that a couple of the main characters were neurodivergent. I have sensory issues, not to the extent Fern does, though. I really connected with that aspect of Fern’s character.

Angry is just a pen name for sad…. In my experience, nine times out of ten if you are kind to the angry person, you will calm them down and find out what is really going on with them.

I would’ve given THE GOOD SISTER 4 stars, except near the end Hepworth perpetuated the stigma that people diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are violent psychopaths. BPD’s misunderstood even among the psychological community. Those trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) understand BPD the most. I simply wish she had talked to a DBT-trained psychologist or someone who’s diagnosed with BPD before she used BPD as one of the reasons why the antagonist did what they did.

I don’t think cancelling someone is the right answer, though, because it takes away from what’s important—educating as many people as possible to help break the stigma surrounding BPD and other mental illness. Because of this, I’ll continue to read and, most likely, enjoy Hepworth’s novels.

Have you read THE GOOD SISTER? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for sexual assault, loss of a child, and loss of a parent.

Review: The Midnight LibraryTitle: The Midnight Library
Author: Matt Haig
Genre(s): Fantasy
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
Source: Library
For: Book Club
Rating:
Steaminess: 0 Flames

Goodreads   Book Depository   Amazon

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

Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices... Would you have done anything different if you had the chance to undo your regrets?

My Thoughts

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY was my IRL book club’s pick for June. I was really excited to read it as I’ve heard a lot of great things. After reading it, I can tell you that I wasn’t disappointed and I hope I can do it justice with my spoiler-free review.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect while reading THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY. It ended up being one of the most profound reading experiences I’ve ever had. It spoke to me like no other book has. I felt seen as someone who has struggled with severe depression, suicidal ideation, and crippling regret for most of my adult life.

But there is no life where you can be in a state of sheer happiness for ever. And imagining there is just breeds more unhappiness in the life you’re in.

I understood Nora, all the emotions she felt, especially the loneliness and despair. I understood her suicidal ideation and urges. AND, even when she didn’t, I knew her depression and loneliness were lying to her–telling her she wasn’t needed, no one wanted her around, she let everyone down, or they’d all be better off without her.

I’m convinced that Nora’s journey through THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY was the only way she could’ve learned what and come to the conclusions she did. After all, one of the lessons the librarian wanted her to realize was, “The only way to learn is to live.”

Haig beautifully illustrates what Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) did in helping me want to build a life worth living. Its message that it’s not too late to start living life is one I think we all need to be reminded of once in a while.

Have you read THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for suicide, suicidal ideation, and loss of a pet.

Review: The Love HypothesisTitle: The Love Hypothesis
Author: Ali Hazelwood
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
Source: Book of the Month
For: Book of the Month
Rating:
Steaminess: 4 Flames

Goodreads   Book Depository   Amazon

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

As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn't believe in lasting romantic relationships--but her best friend does, and that's what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees, Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor--and well-known ass.

My Thoughts

I’ve wanted to read THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS ever since I started blogging and reading again. The cover and synopsis drew me right in and I knew I’d love it. Now having read it, I wasn’t wrong. I adored THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS so much!

The fake-dating trope is one of my favorite romance tropes and THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS did it so well. The sexual tension was strong with this one. Hazelwood is really good at writing banter between her characters. I was giddy during most of the book because I just loved Olive and Adam’s interactions.

THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS is such a fun story. I really needed it right now. I felt so many emotions. I laughed, yelled, cried, and swooned. I stayed up until 2am on Wednesday finishing it because I couldn’t put it down.

I’m starting to wonder if this is what being in love is. Being okay with ripping yourself to shreds, so the other person can stay whole.

I loved all the characters in THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS, even the ones I was meant to hate. They each had distinct personalities and were fun to get to know. I especially loved Holden, Adam’s best friend, and Olive’s best friends, Anh and Malcolm.

I adored the setting of THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS, especially the representation of women in STEM. I know there’s some controversy as to whether a relationship between a professor and grad student would be allowed. Honestly, even if it weren’t allowed, I can suspend my belief enough because of how Hazelwood presented it.

THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS started out as Reylo fanfiction. (Yes, just like FIFTY SHADES OF GREY began as TWILIGHT fanfiction.) You can tell that the characters are based on Rey and Kylo Ren if you focus on it. If you don’t, the story works just fine one its own. Personally, I’m not a Reylo fan. View Spoiler » That being said, if this is how Reylo fans see Rey and Kylo Ren together, I now know why there are so many of them.

Anyway, THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS is a fun nerdy contemporary romance that also deals with some heavy themes to give the story some depth. I’m really glad I took the time to read it.

Have you read THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS? If so, what did you think?

Review: Dear Emmie BlueTitle: Dear Emmie Blue
Author: Lia Louis
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 311 (Hardcover)
Source: Library
For: Personal Interest
Rating:
Steaminess: 1 Flames

Goodreads   Book Depository   Amazon

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

At sixteen, Emmie Blue stood in the fields of her school and released a red balloon into the sky. Attached was her name, her email address … and a secret she desperately wanted to be free of. Weeks later, on a beach in France, Lucas Moreau discovered the balloon and immediately emailed the attached address, sparking an intense friendship between the two teens. Now, fourteen years later, Emmie is hiding the fact that she’s desperately in love with Lucas. She has pinned all her hopes on him and waits patiently for him to finally admit that she’s the one for him.

My Thoughts

When I read Wendy’s review of DEAR EMMIE BLUE, I put it on hold right that second at my local library. Fortunately for me, there was no wait and I got to pick it up the very next day. I’m so happy I got it as fast as I did because I absolutely adored this book!

OMG! This book! I can’t say enough good things about it. DEAR EMMIE BLUE reminded me of a cross between My Best Friend’s Wedding and something I’d read that’s written by Beth O’Leary. (If you don’t know, FLATSHARE by Beth O’Leary was my favorite book last year.)

I loved Emmie. I related to her so hard. I didn’t have a flighty mom and I knew my dad, but I’ve dealt with a lot of severe family drama since my early teenage years. I’m a victim of sexual assault and bullying like her. A lot of her fears and anxieties mirrored my own.

Maybe home isn’t a place. It’s a feeling. Of being cared for and understood. Of being loved.

I loved the other characters in the novel too. Her friendship with Lucas and his family was such a great way to set up the story. I loved Lucas’ brother Eliot and I loved his parents Amanda and Jean. Her work friends, Rosie and Fox, were fun and a bit dirty, which endeared them to me because I love dirty jokes. I loved her landlady Louise the most. I absolutely adored every scene with Emmie and Louise together.

I adored the setting. The constant go between England and France. It was so much fun to read about the two towns where Emmie and Lucas lived, the differences between them and Emmie and Lucas.

DEAR EMMIE BLUE is such a beautiful story. I really needed it right now. I felt ALL the emotions. There were times when I laughed, cried, yelled, and swooned. I was on the edge of my seat for the last two-thirds of the novel because I wanted to know how everything panned out.

I honestly don’t want to say anymore because I don’t want to give anything away. Just know that DEAR EMMIE BLUE may be a fun contemporary romance AND it’s so much more! It deals with some heavy themes that give the story some depth. It’s my second 5-star read of the year.

Have you read DEAR EMMIE BLUE? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for sexual assault (not rape) and loss of a parent.

Review: Dread NationTitle: Dread Nation
Author: Justina Ireland
Series: Dread Nation #1
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Horror, YA
Pages: 455 (Hardcover)
Source: Library
For: Book Club
Rating:
Steaminess: 0 Flames

Goodreads   Book Depository   Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville--derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities--and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

My Thoughts

DREAD NATION was my IRL book club’s pick for April. I was really excited to read it as I’ve wanted to ever since I first heard about it. A zombie apocalypse during the Civil War? Yes, please. A strong black female character fighting to not only survive the dead, but also for freedom from the oppression during Reconstruction Era America? I say again, yes, please!

DREAD NATION is the first zombie novel I’ve ever read and I loved it. I loved how the “Shamblers” worked and how they changed the outcome of the Civil War and society in general. The Shamblers were so much fun to read about. I especially loved reading the fight scenes with all the different weaponry used against the dead.

There’s nothing white folks hate more than realizing they accidentally treated a Negro like a person.

The thing I liked the most about DREAD NATION, however, was the time period and how Ireland used the setting to discuss the oppression of black people not only during Civil War era United States, but in general. Even though the themes are blunt, DREAD NATION isn’t preachy. Ireland skillfully addresses issues of racism and inequality while delivering a complex, enthralling story.

Reading DREAD NATION was very eye-opening. I know I’ve lived a very sheltered and safe life (and I’m not talking about a life free of Shamblers). I felt like DREAD NATION wonderfully illustrates the perseverance and strength black people have while enduring horrific abuse at the hands of those who see them as lesser.

I’m glad I finally got a chance to read DREAD NATION. It was a powerful, entertaining story. I look forward to reading the sequel DEATHLESS DIVIDE.

Have you read DREAD NATION? If so, what did you think?