Tag Archive for: 4.5 Stars

I read several books this year that I haven’t reviewed on my blog. Instead of writing individual reviews for them all, I thought I’d do a mini review of each of them. The first two are non-fiction and the rest are fiction.

Non-Fiction

Mini Reviews #1Title: Atomic Habits
Author: James Clear
Genre(s): Non-Fiction
Pages: 306
Source: Borrowed
For: Recommended
Rating:
Sexual Content: 0 Flames

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Earlier this year, I told my therapist I was having a hard time following through with my goals to exercise more and eat healthier. He suggested I read ATOMIC HABITS, stating that most of the things James Clear had to say were spot on. I decided to listen to the audiobook because Corey already owned a copy.

The audiobook is narrated by James Clear and is very well done. I thought he had a lot of great ideas, like habit stacking. To my surprise, a lot of his ideas align really well with DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) skills. I’ve decided I need to read a physical copy of ATOMIC HABITS so I can annotate the things that are helpful to me to implement what I learned.


Mini Reviews #1Title: Radical Love
Author: Zachary Levi
Genre(s): Memoir, Non-Fiction
Pages: 224
Source: Borrowed
For: Book Club
Rating:
Sexual Content: 0 Flames

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In July, we each read a memoir of our choice for book club. I had already read Marsha Linehan’s memoir but I have wanted to read Zachary Levi’s for a long time. I decided to read RADICAL LOVE a couple of months later.

I’m so glad I decided to listen to the audiobook because Levi, himself, narrates it and talks about his struggles with depression, suicidal ideation, and his feelings of worthlessness. I truly enjoyed RADICAL LOVE. It was raw, emotional, uplifting, and hopeful. It helped remind me that none of us are alone and there’s always help when we need it. I’m glad he sought help during his darkest moments, start the healing process of managing his mental health, and forgiving the abuse he suffered at the hands of his parents.

Fiction

Mini Reviews #1Title: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Author: Jennifer E Smith
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, YA
Pages: 236
Source: Borrowed
For: Personal Interest
Rating:
Sexual Content: 1 Flames

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During the first half of the year, I was trying to participate in the POP Sugar Challenge. One of the prompts was a book that takes place all in one day. I had wanted to read THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT (mouthful) for a while.

THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT was the perfect book to get me to actually sit down and read, something I struggled with for most of 2023. I really enjoyed reading Hadley’s story. Jennifer E Smith’s writing helped draw me right in. I loved the chemistry between Hadley and Oliver. I also found myself grinning stupidly as I read the bantering between them. I also loved watching Hadley and Oliver deal with life’s ups and downs during the day they were together. You may think that the story seems fantastical to happen all in one day, but it just added to the magic.


Mini Reviews #1Title: The Measure
Author: Nikki Erlick
Genre(s): Science Fiction
Pages: 353
Source: Borrowed
For: Recommended
Rating:
Sexual Content: 1 Flames

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Last December, one of the people in my book club recommended THE MEASURE. When I was trying to decide what to read in August, THE MEASURE came to mind.

I decided to listen to the audiobook of THE MEASURE and I was hooked from the beginning. The narrator did a fantastic job. The story’s so compelling that I’d find time to listen to the audiobook and I kept thinking about the strings and characters in between listenings.

I loved Nikki Erlick’s twist on the mythology of The Fates. Just like all the characters, I wanted to understand the mysteries of the boxes and strings. I cared about most of the characters and how their lives were affected by the strings. I also loved the message that life can be meaningful no matter how long it is.


Mini Reviews #1Title: The Only Girl in Town
Author: Ally Condie
Genre(s): Contemporary, YA
Pages: 336
Source: Own
For: Personal Interest
Rating:
Sexual Content: 1 Flames

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I had the chance to attend the book launch for THE ONLY GIRL IN TOWN. Ally Condie is such a sweet, down-to-earth person. Hearing what she had to say about THE ONLY GIRL IN TOWN made me want to read it right away. I chose to listen to the audiobook. The narrator was fantastic and had a lot of emotion in her voice. The short chapters and pacing almost gave the book an “in verse” feel. Sometimes hearing “chapter …” several times in less than five minutes took me out of the story.

As always, Ally’s writing is a joy to read. She has such a poetic and lyrical way of expressing what she wants to write. I was very surprised by the actual story. I have trouble choosing a genre because of that. THE ONLY GIRL IN TOWN wasn’t what I was expecting at all. Despite my surprise, I soon found myself all in as I experienced July’s story and her effort to figure out what was going on around her. THE ONLY GIRL IN TOWN is immersive and a beautiful take on how depression, loneliness, disappointment, and the inevitable changes in our relationships can affect our thinking and choices.


Mini Reviews #1Title: Meet Me at the Lake
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 336
Source: Borrowed
For: Personal Interest
Rating:
Sexual Content: 3.5 Flames

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I adored Carley Fortune’s debut novel EVERY SUMMER AFTER so I was super excited to read MEET ME AT THE LAKE. As with most of the books I read this year, I read the audiobook and I liked the narrator a lot.

As far as the story goes, I wasn’t disappointed. I loved Fern and Will’s story. I loved the premise of them getting a second chance at love. Even though MEET ME AT THE LAKE is mostly fluff, there’s some meat to the story too thanks to the inclusion of how mental illness and the loss of a loved one can mess with our plans and intentions. It made the characters and story feel more real.


Mini Reviews #1Title: The Christmas Murder Game
Author: Alexandra Benedict
Genre(s): Holiday, Mystery
Pages: 325
Source: Borrowed
For: Book Club
Rating:
Sexual Content: 0.5 Flames

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I read THE CHRISTMAS MURDER GAME for book club. I thought the concept of THE CHRISTMAS MURDER GAME sounded fun and suspenseful. While I was never bored, I just didn’t think the execution was done very well and the writing was very clunky. I thought Benedict tried way too hard trying to think up the anagrams. Fortunately, listening to the audiobook helped hide the weird spellings.

As far as the story goes, I knew who the main antagonist was pretty early on. I didn’t mind Lily but I thought some of her choices were a little suspect. Every other character was either annoying, selfish, or not developed very well. The circumstances that had to happen so the story could take place weren’t very realistic either.

Review: Every Summer AfterTitle: Every Summer After
Author: Carley Fortune
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 320
Source: Library
For: Recommended
Rating:
Sexual Content: 3 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

Six summers to fall in love. One moment to fall apart. A weekend to get it right. They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life a decade ago, that has felt too true. Until she receives the call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek--the man she never thought she’d have to live without.

My Thoughts

When I read Wendy’s review of EVERY SUMMER AFTER, I put it on hold right that second at my local library. There was a little bit of a wait, but I finally got it a couple of weeks ago. I’m so happy I read it because I adored this book!

The friends-to-lovers trope is one of my favorites and this one didn’t disappoint. I haven’t read many second-chance romances, but I think I will if they’re anything like EVERY SUMMER AFTER. I thought Fortune was a master at writing sexual tension between her characters, and I loved Percy and Sam’s interactions because of it.

Betrayals don’t cancel each other out. They just hurt more.

EVERY SUMMER AFTER is a heart-warming story of love, betrayal, loss, and redemption. I’m really glad I put my other reads on hold to make sure I got this one read before I had to return it to the library. Not only is it a fun contemporary romance, it also deals with some heavy themes to give the story some depth.

I ended up reading EVERY SUMMER AFTER in two sittings, which isn’t normal for me. If I can read a book that fast, then you know I really love the characters and story. I thought each character had distinct personalities and were fun to get to know. I don’t think there was a character I hated. Besides Percy and Sam, I also really loved Charlie, Sam’s older brother.

I adored the setting of EVERY SUMMER AFTER. It made me think of all the time I’ve spent sailing on Bear Lake with Corey and his family. Whenever the characters were on the dock down at the lake, I could picture it perfectly.

Ever since I finished reading EVERY SUMMER AFTER, 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 EVERY SUMMER AFTER? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for bullying and loss of a parent.

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

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: A River EnchantedTitle: A River Enchanted
Author: Rebecca Ross
Series: Elements of Cadence #1
Genre(s): Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 480
Source: Own
For: Book of the Month
Rating:
Sexual Content: 1.5 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

Jack Tamerlaine hasn’t stepped foot on Cadence in ten long years, content to study music at the mainland university. But when young girls start disappearing from the isle, Jack is summoned home to help find them. Enchantments run deep on Cadence: gossip is carried by the wind, plaid shawls can be as strong as armor, and the smallest cut of a knife can instill fathomless fear. The capricious spirits that rule the isle by fire, water, earth, and wind find mirth in the lives of the humans who call the land home. Adaira, heiress of the east and Jack’s childhood enemy, knows the spirits only answer to a bard’s music, and she hopes Jack can draw them forth by song, enticing them to return the missing girls.

My Thoughts

I’m so glad I chose A RIVER ENCHANTED as my February Book of the Month choice. As soon as I started to read the story of Cadence and its inhabitants, I was hooked. When I was reading A RIVER ENCHANTED, I didn’t want to put it down and I couldn’t stop thinking about it in between reads. I stayed up until 4am on Sunday night finishing it because I was that invested in the characters and the story. I haven’t done that for a very long time.

I loved that RIVER ENCHANTED was written from different POVs and that it wasn’t done chapter by chapter. The story was told from whoever’s POV it needed to be told from at that moment. (Don’t worry. It’s not confusing in any way.) I also loved all the characters and the slow-burn romances. I wish there was more kissing, but I’m glad the story wasn’t sacrificed for the romance.

I once thought home was simply a place. Four walls to hold you at night while you slept. But I was wrong. It’s people. It’s being with the ones that you love, and maybe even the ones that you hate.

I adored the mythology of A RIVER ENCHANTED. It was fascinating. The magical system with the spirits was fun to read about and experience.

I really loved the Scottish feel to A RIVER ENCHANTED and I think Ross could’ve pushed that aspect of the story a lot more. My guess is she didn’t want to make it hard for her readers to pronounce the names and places or dialogue between the characters. Because she didn’t embrace the Scottishness whole-heartedly, the story felt a little YA at times. (Ross states in her “review” on Goodreads that A RIVER ENCHANTED started out that way.) The YA feel doesn’t take away from the story. However, as a lover of adult high fantasy, I think A RIVER ENCHANTED could’ve been that much better if Ross had pushed the envelope a lot more.

I’ve been trying to decide if I want to give A RIVER ENCHANTED 4 or 5 stars. I finally settled on 4.5 stars. I’m so glad I finally got a chance to read it. It was a delight to read and I look forward to reading its sequel. It’s going to be a very long wait until December View Spoiler ».

Have you read A RIVER ENCHANTED? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for cutting, physical assault, mention of stillbirths, and loss of a child and parent.

Review: FangirlTitle: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 457
Source: Own
For: Unofficial Trim Challenge
Rating:
Sexual Content: 1 Flames

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Goodreads Synopsis

Now that Cath and her twin sister are going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn't want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She's got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend; a fiction-writing professor who thinks fanfiction is the end of the civilized world; a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words ... and she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

My Thoughts

I’ve been wanting to read FANGIRL ever since I first heard about it. I’ve just never gotten around to it. I’m glad I put it on my Unofficial Trim Challenge list because I finally read it and it was just as good as I’d hoped it would be.

I loved the whole concept of FANGIRL. Other than the writing fanfiction thing because I don’t do that, I connected with Cath so hard. I’ve been obsessed with fandoms like she and Wren are with Simon before. I’ve met friends in forums and then IRL who are still some of my best friends. I’ve traveled with those friends to settings in the books we love. And, I’ve read fanfics because I wanted those fandoms to live on.

There are other people on the Internet. It’s awesome. You get all the benefits of ‘other people’ without the body odor and the eye contact.

I also loved reading the excerpts not only from the “original” Simon books, but also from Cath’s fanfiction, especially CARRY ON, SIMON. The excerpts made me love the characters almost as much as Cath does. I’m excited that Rowell decided to write CARRY ON so I can read it at some point.

I loved the slow-burn romance between Cath and Levi. I loved their relationship. It was so cute and swoony. There were times when I wanted less Simon because I wanted more kissing, lol. And, I liked the story just the way it was too because Rowell explored some really tough subjects, like abandonment, addiction, and mental illness.

Ever since I finished reading FANGIRL, I’ve been trying to decide if I want to give it 4 or 5 stars. I finally settled on 4.5 stars, but that might change.

Have you read FANGIRL? If so, what did you think?