Mini-Reviews: Quiet Girl in a Noisy World, Little Moments of Love, & Nimona

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World by Debbie Tung
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: November 7, 2017
Source: Borrowed

Sweet, funny, and quietly poignant, Debbie Tung’s comics reveal the ups and downs of coming of age as an introvert.

This illustrated gift book of short comics illuminates author Debbie Tung’s experience as an introvert in an extrovert’s world. Presented in a loose narrative style that can be read front to back or dipped into at one’s leisure, the book spans three years of Debbie’s life, from the end of college to the present day. In these early years of adulthood, Debbie slowly but finally discovers there is a name for her lifelong need to be alone: she’s an introvert.

The first half of the book traces Debbie’s final year in college: socializing with peers, dating, falling in love (with an extrovert!), moving in, getting married, meeting new people, and simply trying to fit in. The second half looks at her life after graduation: finding a job, learning to live with her new husband, trying to understand social obligations when it comes to the in-laws, and navigating office life. Ultimately, Quiet Girl sends a positive, pro-introvert message: our heroine learns to embrace her introversion and finds ways to thrive in the world while fulfilling her need for quiet.

I previously really enjoyed Debbie Tung’s Book Love, and it’s predecessor definitely did not disappoint. These little vignettes of Debbie’s life as she deals with anxiety and a world that always expects her to be “on” were so relatable. So many of the comics in this book were things that have happened to me over the years.

Panel from Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: Debbie is crying surrounded by negative comments. You need to make more friends. Why are you so shy? What's wrong with you? Are you all right? You seem really sad. You should talk more. It's not normal to not say anything.

The only real complaint that I have about this is that the themes are very repetitive. This is a book about Debbie being an introvert, and that’s it. There are only so many ways you can say you’re an introvert before you start to repeat yourself. But I, as an introvert, enjoyed seeing my life illustrated like this and I’d definitely recommend this book.

#wian: an antonym


Little Moments of Love by Catana Chetwynd
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: June 19, 2018
Source: Borrowed

Soppy meets Sarah’s Scribbles in this sweet collection of comics about the simple, precious, silly, everyday moments that make up a relationship.

What began as stray doodles on scraps of paper became an internet sensation when Catana Chetwynd’s boyfriend shared her drawings online. Now, Catana Comics touches millions of readers with its sweet, relatable humor. Little Moments of Love collects just that – the little moments that are the best parts of being with the person you love.

I love Catana’s comics so much, and after reading (and loving) my ARC of Snug, I knew I had to get to Little Moments of Love next. It was just as cute as Snug, and I enjoyed it just as much… if not more. I’d already seen most of the comics included in Snug, but since Little Moments of Love was published two years ago, I had either not seen (or forgotten about) most of these.

Catana comic: Catana has a low battery indicator over her head and hugs her boyfriend. The battery indicator raises until it shows that it's fully charged.

I always think that Catana’s comics are really relatable to anybody who’s been truly in love. Her comics never fail to make me smile, and I’ll happily read her next collection (while also checking out her comics on Instagram daily).


Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Source: Borrowed

The graphic novel debut from rising star Noelle Stevenson, based on her beloved and critically acclaimed web comic, which Slate awarded its Cartoonist Studio Prize, calling it “a deadpan epic.”

Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

I previously read and really enjoyed Stevenson’s Lumberjanes series, and knowing that Nimona was pretty beloved in the book blogging community, I was excited to dive right in. Right away, I loved both Nimona and Ballister. I loved the way they interacted with each other, and we all know I love a good morally gray villain.

The only thing I could have hoped for was a little more backstory on Nimona. I would have loved a little bit more resolution on where she got her abilities and what exactly she’s capable of. Still, this was an excellent graphic novel that I’d highly recommend to anyone looking for a good fantasy/adventure storyline.


Have you read any of these books? Are any of them on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

Find me all over the internet: Goodreads | Twitter | Bloglovin’

Mini-Reviews: Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? & Stiff

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? by Caitlin Doughty
Rating: ★★★★★
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: September 10, 2019
Source: Gift

Every day, funeral director Caitlin Doughty receives dozens of questions about death. What would happen to an astronaut’s body if it were pushed out of a space shuttle? Do people poop when they die? Can Grandma have a Viking funeral?

In Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?, Doughty blends her mortician’s knowledge of the body and the intriguing history behind common misconceptions about corpses to offer factual, hilarious, and candid answers to thirty-five distinctive questions posed by her youngest fans. In her inimitable voice, Doughty details lore and science of what happens to, and inside, our bodies after we die. Why do corpses groan? What causes bodies to turn colors during decomposition? And why do hair and nails appear longer after death? Readers will learn the best soil for mummifying your body, whether you can preserve your best friend’s skull as a keepsake, and what happens when you die on a plane. Beautifully illustrated by Dianné Ruz, Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? shows us that death is science and art, and only by asking questions can we begin to embrace it.

buddy read with my boyfriend!

I was immediately drawn to Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? just because of the title. Luckily, I ended up getting it for Christmas, and I absolutely loved it. The book is written in a Q&A format, answering questions asked by children. The questions range from things like the titular “Will my cat eat my eyeballs?” to “Can I be buried with my dog?” and “Can we give grandma a Viking funeral?”

Everything is explained in a really straightforward, informative way without ever getting too heavy. Death is hard and it’s sad and it’s scary to think about our own mortality, but Doughty puts just enough humor in her answers that the book never gets weighed down.

I learned so much about death and dying from this book and now I’m just waiting to read Doughty’s other books.


Stiff by Mary Roach
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: April 17, 2003
Source: Borrowed

Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers—some willingly, some unwittingly—have been involved in science’s boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. In this fascinating account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries and tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.

I’ve seen Mary Roach’s books show up on a number of lists of best nonfiction, and after finishing (and loving) Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?, I figured that Stiff would be a good place to start. I really thought that this book would focus on what happens to the body after we die, and it sort of does… but mostly it’s about all the different things a body can do after it dies.

Sure, you can be embalmed and buried in a casket, like many people do in the United States. But you can also donate your body to science — and what does that mean, exactly? What are the different paths your body can take if it’s donated to science? You can become an organ donor and save a number of lives. You can have a natural burial. You can be cremated and spend eternity in an urn or have your ashes scattered. Roach covers all of these possibilities and more.

The book is fascinating, and at times pretty disgusting. I have a pretty strong stomach when it comes to most medical stuff, but the section on the materia medica even made me nauseous, so just be prepared for that. Still, it was worth it to learn about ancient remedies, and now that I’m prepared, I’d actually like to learn more about it.

I’ve decided that all of Mary Roach’s books are now on my TBR and I just have to decide which one to read next.


Have you read either of these books? Have you read any good science-y nonfiction recently?
Let’s talk in the comments!

Find me all over the internet: Goodreads | Twitter | Bloglovin’

Mini-Reviews: Pet, Symptoms of Being Human, and With the Fire on High

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: September 10, 2019
Source: Borrowed

Pet is here to hunt a monster.
Are you brave enough to look?

There are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. With doting parents and a best friend named Redemption, Jam has grown up with this lesson all her life. But when she meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colours and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question-How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

I’m not sure the last time I finished a book feeling so confused as when finishing Pet, but at least I knew that I liked it. The thing about this book is that the writing style feels very middle grade, but the subject matter is very much not.

My favorite thing about this book was the representation. Jam is a trans black girl, and it’s not the focus of the story or really relevant to the plot in any way, it’s just who Jam is. I think this is the best kind of representation to have.

The book has an important, if maybe heavy-handed message, that just because we don’t expect people to be evil doesn’t mean that they’re not. In Jam’s world, evil has supposedly been eradicated, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not lurking where we’d least expect it. Her journey, along with her best friend Redemption and the monstrous-looking (but not actually monstrous) Pet, to find out what’s been going on with someone they both care about, is absolutely heartbreaking.

In the end, I would recommend this book as long as you’re okay with the fairly obvious way the message is delivered.

Content warnings
  • child abuse/molestation
  • fairly graphic vigilante justice
  • (accidental) self harm with razor blades

#wian20: 4 letters or less


Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Source: Borrowed

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

We’re all taught from a young age that there are only two choices: pink or blue, Bratz or Power Rangers, cheerleading or football. We see gender in two dimensions because that’s what society has taught us from birth. But, are you ready for a shocking revelation? SOCIETY NEEDS TO CHANGE.

I’d had Symptoms of Being Human on my TBR for a while, but I still went in with no expectations. The reviews are pretty mixed, with most people agreeing that it has great genderqueer representation but very little plot. I guess I can see that.

The story revolves around Riley, who identifies as genderqueer. Riley’s parents don’t really understand. Riley’s classmates don’t really understand. So Riley starts a blog and finds some people to talk to about life. That’s really about it, and I’ll agree that it’s not much of a plot to go on, but it did hold my interest.

I will say that this book made me angry, though. I don’t have any children, but I hope to never make my future child feel like they’re not good enough the way they are, like they have to stuff themselves into a suffocating box to make me happy. I hope it made other people angry too.

Overall, I think the characters really carry the story here, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.


With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Source: Borrowed

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free. 

After really loving The Poet X, I decided to give another of Acevedo’s books a try and read With the Fire on High. I didn’t love it quite as much but it was still really, really good.

I loved Emoni. She was such a strong character and she was truly just trying to do her best with the circumstances in her life. I loved the relationship she had with her abuela. I loved her cooking and just wish that I could taste some of those recipes! There’s even a little touch of magical realism, which I thought was great.

As for why four stars and not five, I felt like, though the overall writing was very good, it did have some awkward parts. (I rolled my eyes every time Emoni let out a breath she didn’t even know she was holding.) I also didn’t understand what purpose there was to all of the drama with Pretty Leslie, though it does get resolved nicely in the end.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. But if you have to pick one of Acevedo’s books to start with, I’d recommend The Poet X.


Have you read any of these books? Are any of them on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

Find me all over the internet: Goodreads | Twitter | Bloglovin’

Mini-Reviews: Dumplin’ & Puddin’ by Julie Murphy

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Source: Borrowed

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

Because of the hype, I managed to avoid Dumplin‘ for a good four years. I’m always scared when I go on Goodreads and out of 38 friend reviews, the average is four stars. But after enjoying Julie Murphy’s middle-grade novel Dear Sweet Pea, I decided to suck it up and get on with it, and I’m so glad I did. Dumplin’ ended up being so much better than I’d expected!

I think, above all else, Dumplin’ is a really inspirational novel. Willowdean knows that she’s fat, and she knows that it doesn’t make her undesirable. She’s had it with society’s ideas that she should be ashamed of her body or try to hide. But that doesn’t mean that she never gets self-conscious. I felt like, while definite inspiration, Willowdean’s feelings about her body were also really realistic.

The romance I could honestly take or leave. The majority of the book is spent in this weird love triangle that I really could have done without. Still, the end relationship was very cute and I don’t really have any complaints about it, once it’s finally settled.

I ended up liking Dumplin’ so much more than I’d expected and now I just feel like I need to watch the adaptation.


Puddin’ by Julie Murphy
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 18, 2018
Source: Borrowed

It is a companion novel to Dumplin’, which follows supporting characters from the first book in the months after Willowdean’s star turn in the Clover City pageant.

Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream—and to kiss her crush. Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend. When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they will surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing they might have more in common than they ever imagined. 

Shortly after finishing Dumplin’, I decided I might as well read its companion novel, Puddin’, which features one of Willowdean’s pageant buddies.

I was immediately skeptical of this book because of how much I disliked Callie from the beginning. She’s portrayed as a really self-centered person who feels like the rules shouldn’t apply to her. She’s brash, she’s blunt, and she’s flat-out rude a lot of the time. Luckily, the book focuses a lot on Callie’s personal growth, which made most of that awful behavior worth it. Millie, as always, was great. I really felt for her and wanted her to achieve her goals. The main conflict between Millie and Callie was a little drawn out, but that’s pretty much my only criticism with this book.

Honestly, both Dumplin‘ and Puddin‘ were unexpectedly great and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend either one.


Have you read either of these books? Are they on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

Find me all over the internet: Goodreads | Twitter | Bloglovin’

Mini-Reviews: Shiver & All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: August 1, 2009
Source: Borrowed

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without.

Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

Shiver was the first book I ever added to my TBR on Goodreads, way, way back in the day. Since The Raven Cycle ended up being my favorite series of 2018, I figured I should finally read some of Maggie’s other stuff. Shiver is, um… very different. It’s basically your standard late-2000s YA paranormal romance, much like Twilight if Twilight just featured werewolves.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, I loved Twilight when I was a teenager. But does it hold up in 2019 (and now 2020)? Not really. In this day and age, we’re much more skeptical of teenage boy (actually grown men) paranormal creatures who spy on unsuspecting teenage girls and those girls whose lives basically cease to exist while they’re in a relationship. There’s a lot of iffy stuff in this book. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a problem, but do I think it would be nearly as popular now? No.

As usual, the writing is good. Maggie’s created a really interesting backstory for the wolves complete with some present-day wolf conflict. It’s just very, very heavy on the insta-love and it uses a lot of the tropes that were common for the time it was written.

If you’re going to read one of Maggie’s books, I’d recommend The Raven Boys over this.


All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Source: Borrowed
From bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater, a gripping tale of darkness, miracles, and family. Saints. Miracles. Family. Romance. Death. Redemption.

Here is a thing everyone wants: A miracle.

Here is a thing everyone fears:
What it takes to get one.

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

I read Shiver and All the Crooked Saints back to back, because why not. I ended up feeling pretty conflicted about this book, hence the three stars, because it goes from really boring to really interesting and right back again.

I think the main problem I had with this one was that I spent more of the book bored than interested. There are a lot of characters and there’s a lot going on, but it also seems, a lot of the time, that absolutely nothing is happening. The most vivid part of this book wasn’t the plot or the characters, it was the setting.

I usually love Maggie’s writing, and I can admit that it was beautiful in this book. But instead of being beautiful in that magical way I’m used to, it was beautiful in a very over-the-top way. It reminded me a lot of the writing in Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore. (If you liked that book, you’ll probably love this one.)

I can see why a lot of people enjoyed this, but it just wasn’t my kind of book.


Have you read either of these books? Do you like Maggie Stiefvater’s writing?
Let’s talk in the comments!

Find me all over the internet: Goodreads | Twitter | Bloglovin’

Mini-Reviews: Parental Guidance, Fix Her Up, and The Bride Test

Parental Guidance by Avery Flynn
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 31, 2019
Source: Borrowed

All I want is to play hockey on the Ice Knights, instead, I’m in a viral video for all the wrong reasons and my mom—yes, my mom—has taken over my dating apps. Then, when I think it can’t get any worse, the fates deliver Zara Ambrose, a five-feet-nothing redhead with more freckles than inches and who’d rather be anywhere other than on a date with me.

Now a bet with her friends and my PR nightmare have us both stuck in this go-on-five-dates-with-the-same-person hell situation. But if we band together, we can get the whole thing over with and go on with our lives. It’s perfect! No feelings. No future. No fuc— *ahem* fun. No naked fun.

What could go wrong? Nothing—as long as I remember the rules. Don’t notice the way she looks in a dress. Don’t react when she does that little shivery sigh thing whenever we touch. Don’t think about the fact that she’s never had a toe-curling orgasm that wasn’t self-delivered and just how badly I want to change that.

Five dates—that’s it—and then we go our separate ways. At least, that was the plan…

Sports romance isn’t usually my thing, so I was happy to find this cute-sounding book about a hockey star for 2019’s romanceopoly reading challenge. It’s an interesting concept for a romance novel: through an app, people are set up to go on dates with someone of their parents’ choosing, and I thought that the reasons both Zara and Caleb agreed to use this app were interesting.

Of course, plenty of drama ensues, including the typical “we’re not going to fall in love so five dates is our limit” trope that I’ve seen many times before. The writing was fine, but everything was a little overdramatic. I think every conflict in this book could have been resolved in about two minutes if the characters would have just acted like adults.

This book might not have been exactly my cup of tea, but it wasn’t bad. If you’ve enjoyed any of Avery’s other books, which one would you recommend I try next?

#romanceopoly: mystery #3


Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Source: Borrowed

Georgette Castle’s family runs the best home renovation business in town, but she picked balloons instead of blueprints and they haven’t taken her seriously since. Frankly, she’s over it. Georgie loves planning children’s birthday parties and making people laugh, just not at her own expense. She’s determined to fix herself up into a Woman of the World… whatever that means.

Phase one: new framework for her business (a website from this decade, perhaps?)

Phase two: a gut-reno on her wardrobe (fyi, leggings are pants.)

Phase three: updates to her exterior (do people still wax?)

Phase four: put herself on the market (and stop crushing on Travis Ford!)

Living her best life means facing the truth: Georgie hasn’t been on a date since, well, ever. Nobody’s asking the town clown out for a night of hot sex, that’s for sure. Maybe if people think she’s having a steamy love affair, they’ll acknowledge she’s not just the “little sister” who paints faces for a living. And who better to help demolish that image than the resident sports star and tabloid favorite?

Travis Ford was major league baseball’s hottest rookie when an injury ended his career. Now he’s flipping houses to keep busy and trying to forget his glory days. But he can’t even cross the street without someone recapping his greatest hits. Or making a joke about his… bat. And then there’s Georgie, his best friend’s sister, who is not a kid anymore. When she proposes a wild scheme—that they pretend to date, to shock her family and help him land a new job—he agrees. What’s the harm? It’s not like it’s real. But the girl Travis used to tease is now a funny, full-of-life woman and there’s nothing fake about how much he wants her…

Toward the end of 2019, after I finished my reading challenges, I just checked out a ton of books that my Goodreads friends had rated highly. I do love a good “brother’s best friend” story, so I was doubly excited for Fix Her Up. I can see why so many people loved this book! The three-star rating doesn’t mean that it’s bad or that I had any huge problems with it.

The beginning of the book was really good. I loved the characterization of both Georgie and Travis. They were wildly different people who bought out the best in each other. I sympathized with both of their struggles. I also loved the idea of the Just Us League.

It had all the makings for a great book, and then it kind of fell apart at the end. What ended up being the main conflict felt so contrived to me. After everything these characters had been through, I’m really supposed to believe that they’d just throw their relationship away? Not buying it. It goes on to end in possibly the most stereotypical way, and it wraps up so quickly that I thought I’d missed something.

I might give Love Her or Lose Her a try, but it’s not really at the top of my TBR.


The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Source: Borrowed

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

The Kiss Quotient was one of my favorite books of 2018, so naturally, The Bride Test was at the top of my 2019 TBR. My expectations were high, and this book ended up meeting most of them.

As expected, The Bride Test ended up being a really well-written romance. And, as expected, it featured a romance that falls outside of society’s norm. While The Kiss Quotient was about a woman who hires (and then falls for) a male escort, The Bride Test is about an arranged marriage.

Where The Bride Test lost points with me was the level of smut. Was The Kiss Quotient this smutty? I felt like basically all that happened after the halfway point was smut. And don’t get me wrong, it’s well-written smut, but it kind of surprised me. It also had a bit too much drama for me in the second half — I just wanted to reach into the pages and force Esme and Khai to have an actual conversation.

But, overall, I liked this book! I have hope that The Heart Principle will be on the same level as The Kiss Quotient.


Have you read any of these books? Have you read any good romances recently?
Let’s talk in the comments!

Find me all over the internet: Goodreads | Twitter | Bloglovin’

Mini-Reviews: Dear Sweet Pea, Small Spaces, and The Lightning Thief

Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Source: Borrowed

The first middle grade novel from Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’ (now a popular Netflix film), is a funny, heartwarming story perfect for fans of Rebecca Stead, Ali Benjamin, and Holly Goldberg Sloan.

Patricia “Sweet Pea” DiMarco wasn’t sure what to expect when her parents announced they were getting a divorce. She never could have imagined that they would have the “brilliant” idea of living in nearly identical houses on the same street. In the one house between them lives their eccentric neighbor Miss Flora Mae, the famed local advice columnist behind “Miss Flora Mae I?”

Dividing her time between two homes is not easy. And it doesn’t help that at school, Sweet Pea is now sitting right next to her ex–best friend, Kiera, a daily reminder of the friendship that once was. Things might be unbearable if Sweet Pea didn’t have Oscar—her new best friend—and her fifteen-pound cat, Cheese.

Then one day Flora leaves for a trip and asks Sweet Pea to forward her the letters for the column. And Sweet Pea happens to recognize the handwriting on one of the envelopes.

What she decides to do with that letter sets off a chain of events that will forever change the lives of Sweet Pea DiMarco, her family, and many of the readers of “Miss Flora Mae I?”

This was my first book by Julie Murphy, and I really enjoyed it! I only picked it up because of a reading challenge but I ended up really enjoying it. I’d been a little skeptical of her books because of all the hype, but I’m definitely planning on trying out her YA novels now.

Sweet Pea was a really charming character and I liked all of the casual diversity — I think that’s so important in books, and books for younger kids in particular. It tackles some big topics like divorce and homophobia, but it does it in a really natural way. I did feel that some things were resolved a little too easily, but then again, this is middle grade and less than 300 pages, so all in all, it was pretty great.

#ps19: a book with a title that contains “salty,” “sweet,” “bitter,” or “spicy”


Small Spaces by Katherine Arden
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Source: Borrowed

New York Times bestselling adult author of The Bear and the Nightingale makes her middle grade debut with a creepy, spellbinding ghost story destined to become a classic

After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn’t think–she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who both loved her, and a peculiar deal made with “the smiling man,” a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price. 

Ollie is captivated by the tale until her school trip the next day to Smoke Hollow, a local farm with a haunting history all its own. There she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she’s been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? Ollie doesn’t have too long to think about the answer to that. On the way home, the school bus breaks down, sending their teacher back to the farm for help. But the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind in his care: “Best get moving. At nightfall they’ll come for the rest of you.” Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie’s previously broken digital wristwatch, a keepsake reminder of better times, begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN. 

Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed the bus driver’s warning. As the trio head out into the woods–bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them–the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: “Avoid large places. Keep to small.” 

And with that, a deliciously creepy and hair-raising adventure begins.

I hadn’t actually planned to read Small Spaces when I did, but it was available at the library, I had finished my other audiobooks, and I remembered Kristen recommending it, so I decided to go for it. It was really good! This is the kind of creepy, spooky story that would be perfect for Halloween.

Just like with Julie Murphy, this was my first book by Katherine Arden. Since I’m pretty picky about MG books, I’m taking it as a really good sign that I liked this! I’m excited to eventually read her YA series.


The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: March 1, 2006
Source: Borrowed

Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse – Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena – Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.

Over the years, so many people have told me to read the Percy Jackson books. Multiple children have told me that this is their favorite series, and I can understand why. This book is a lot of fun. It has a quest, it has betrayal, it has mythology. I can see how Percy would be easy to relate to.

The problem was that I just didn’t care.

I’m not really sure if this was a problem with me not typically loving middle grade stories or if it was more that the hype killed this book for me, but I don’t really feel like continuing on with it. I will, however, try out The Lost Hero.

#ps19: a book with at least 1,000,000 ratings on Goodreads


Have you read any of these books? Have you read any good MG recently?
Let’s talk in the comments!

Find me all over the internet: Goodreads | Twitter | Bloglovin’