Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Her Good Side by Rebekah Weatherspoon (5/30/23)

Her Good Side by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Recommended: sure
for an extremely cute fake-dating story, for characters I loved, for a heartwarming story with a little silliness thrown in


Sixteen-year-old Bethany Greene, though confident and self-assured, is what they call a late-bloomer. She’s never had a boyfriend, date, or first kiss. She’s determined to change that but after her crush turns her down cold for Homecoming–declaring her too inexperienced–and all her back-up ideas fall through, she cautiously agrees to go with her best friend’s boyfriend Jacob. A platonic date is better than no date, right? Until Saylor breaks up with said boyfriend.

Dumped twice in just two months, Jacob Yeun wonders if he’s the problem. After years hiding behind his camera and a shocking summer glow up, he wasn’t quite ready for all the attention or to be someone’s boyfriend. There are no guides for his particular circumstances, or for taking your ex’s best friend to the dance.

Why not make the best of an awkward situation? Bethany and Jacob decide to fake date for practice, building their confidence in matters of the heart.

And it works–guys are finally noticing Bethany. But things get complicated as their kissing sessions–for research of course!–start to feel real. This arrangement was supposed to help them in dating other people, but what if their perfect match is right in front of them?


I was so excited for this book, and I’m glad I wasn’t disappointed. I felt like everything I had hoped it would be, it lived up to, plus then some that I didn’t expect to get!

The way the “dating my friend’s ex” element is handled was done well enough to make me buy into it without it being weird or seeming too contrived. I thought it could be extremely weird and unbelievable for someone to be like “hey borrow my boyfriend for a date” but in this case they actually got me to buy into it.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Her Good Side by Rebekah Weatherspoon (5/30/23)”
Posted in Challenges

15 Books of Summer 2023!

Hey y’all! I’m super excited that this year I remembered to plan for the 20 Books of Summer challenge hosted by 746 Books *BEFORE* it actually starts on June 1st! Although that said — I probably won’t be reading much for the first few days due to prior plans, but still, at least I’ll know what I’ve got. 😂

The Challenge

The general idea is to choose 10, 15 or 20 books to read and review between June 1 and September 1.

Last year, I chose 15 book prompts instead of specific books, which allowed me some flexibility in what books I actually chose. I’m going to do the same this year because I really enjoyed that and I think it worked out pretty well. I’m still going to stick with 15 even though I’m sure that will end up being low, because this way I don’t build it into something that will pressure and stress me. Reading is FUN! 😁

If you want to join too, you can check out the signup post here at 745 Books or click the image below to get to the same page.

15 Books of Summer

The list

My list of categories and an idea or two for books to fulfill it are below. The book choices may change a bit, but the categories shouldn’t! For my rules on this challenge, I’m also counting books that I DNF as long as I still write a review. The overall goal for me is to clear out shelf space, and if I try a book and don’t like it, that’s an answer too!

  • #1-3: What is this book again? x3 — A book that’s been on my shelves so long I forget what it’s about
    • Inland by Tea Obreeht
    • The Color of Air by Gail Tsukiyama
    • Snow by Orhan Pamuk
  • #4-5: A book I bought and haven’t read x2
    • Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree
    • Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yaros
  • #6: An Aardvark Book Club book
    • Liar, Dreamer, Thief by Maria Dong
    • The Perfect Ones by Nicole Hackett
  • #7: A Book of the Month Club book
    • As Long As The Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh
  • #8: A book over 500 pages
    • Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff
  • #9: A World of Warcraft book (because I’ve been craving it!)
    • War of the Ancients Archive by Richard A Knaak
  • #10: One of the furthest back added books on my TBR (in 10 oldest, ideally)
    • The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
  • #11: One of the most recently added books on my TBR (at time of writing)
    • Chasing Chaos by Jessica Alexander
  • #12: A book published during this challenge (June 1 – Sep 1)
    • If You Still Recognize Me by Cynthia So
  • #13: A memoir
    • How to Say Babylon by Safiya Sinclair
  • #14: A book by an author I’ve enjoyed before
    • A Trial of Sorcerers by Elise Kova
  • #15: A book I really wanted to read, and yet still haven’t
    • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

Yo, I’ll be honest, writing out this list has gotten me super excited for some of these books and now I don’t want to wait until June 1st to start them. It’s entirely possible I’ll just read some of these now and finish them before this challenge even starts. xD Oh well, I have plenty of options!

If you’re signed up for the challenge too, add a link to your post in the comments so I can check out what books you’ve included for ideas of my own! 😊

Posted in Reviews

Review: A Door in the Dark by Scott Reintgen

A Door in the Dark by Scott Reintgen

Recommended: sure
For a first step into an interesting world, for an unlikable main character but an intriguing story, for a trying-to-survive-against-all-odds journey, for a dark tale that pulls no punches


Look how gorgeous this cover is!!!

Ren Monroe has spent four years proving she’s one of the best wizards in her generation. But top marks at Balmerick University will mean nothing if she fails to get recruited into one of the major houses. Enter Theo Brood. If being rich were a sin, he’d already be halfway to hell. After a failed and disastrous party trick, fate has the two of them crossing paths at the public waxway portal the day before holidays—Theo’s punishment is to travel home with the scholarship kids. Which doesn’t sit well with any of them.

A fight breaks out. In the chaos, the portal spell malfunctions. All six students are snatched from the safety of the school’s campus and set down in the middle of nowhere. And one of them is dead on arrival.

If anyone can get them through the punishing wilderness with limited magical reserves it’s Ren. She’s been in survival mode her entire life. But no magic could prepare her for the tangled secrets the rest of the group is harboring, or for what’s following them through the dark woods…


I’m most excited about this book as a gateway to the books that will follow. I didn’t realize it was a series started going into it so I was a bit surprised how much seemed open as I neared the end, but I think I’ll enjoy the next piece of the book even more. It seems like it will follow a similar arc to the Red Rising series, where the first book is actiony and life-or-death in the wilderness and the second book is the threat humans pose, scheming and machinations, and so on. While that actually didn’t work for me with Red Rising, I think it will here.

Continue reading “Review: A Door in the Dark by Scott Reintgen”
Posted in Reviews

Review: Now You See Us by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Now You See Us by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Recommended: eh
For a look at the lives of domestic workers in Sinagpore, for slow character studies and secrets


A veteran domestic worker, Corazon had retired back to the Philippines for good, but she has returned to Singapore under mysterious circumstances. Now she’s keeping a secret from her wealthy employer, who is planning an extravagant wedding for her socialite daughter.

Barely out of her teens, this is Donita’s first time in Singapore, and she’s had the bad luck to be hired by the notoriously fussy Mrs. Fann. Brazen and exuberant, Donita’s thrown herself into a love affair with an Indian construction worker and started a lively social media account that says more than it should.

Working as an in-home caregiver for an elderly employer, Angel is feeling blue after a recent breakup with the woman she loves. She’s alarmed when her employer’s son suddenly brings in a new Filipina nurse who may be a valuable ally, or who may be meant to replace her.

Then an explosive news story shatters Singapore’s famous tranquility—and sends a chill down the spine of every domestic worker: Flordeliza Martinez, a Filipina maid, has been arrested for murdering her female employer. The three women don’t know the accused well, but she could be any of them; every worker knows stories of women who were scapegoated or even executed for crimes they didn’t commit.

Shocked into action, Donita, Corazon, and Angel will use their considerable moxie and insight to piece together the mystery of what really happened on the day Flordeliza’s employer was murdered. After all, no one knows the secrets of Singapore’s elite like the women who work in their homes.


I probably would’ve stopped reading this if I hadn’t already been most of the way through. By about 75% I was determining that there genuinely just wasn’t much happening in this book. It’s more about learning a bit about each person than about things happening. Yes, there’s a subplot of a murder mystery, but it felt very unimportant to me for the majority of the book. So if you come into this, come into it expecting an almost diary-like portrayal of three women’s lives.

Continue reading “Review: Now You See Us by Balli Kaur Jaswal”
Posted in Reviews

Review: The Wrong End of the Table by Ayser Salman

The Wrong End of the Table: A Mostly Comic Memoir of a Muslim Arab American Woman Just Trying to Fit in by Ayser Salman

Recommended: yep!
for a perspective of a woman across her years, for a perspective of a Muslim woman who lives in Saudi Arabia and the United States during her life, for an approachable and welcoming look at her life and how being an immigrant affected but did not define her life


You know that feeling of being at the wrong end of the table? Like you’re at a party but all the good stuff is happening out of earshot (#FOMO)? That’s life—especially for an immigrant.

What happens when a shy, awkward Arab girl with a weird name and an unfortunate propensity toward facial hair is uprooted from her comfortable (albeit fascist-regimed) homeland of Iraq and thrust into the cold, alien town of Columbus, Ohio—with its Egg McMuffins, Barbie dolls, and kids playing doctor everywhere you turned?

This is Ayser Salman’s story. First comes Emigration, then Naturalization, and finally Assimilation—trying to fit in among her blonde-haired, blue-eyed counterparts, and always feeling left out. On her journey to Americanhood, Ayser sees more naked butts at pre-kindergarten daycare that she would like, breaks one of her parents’ rules (“Thou shalt not participate as an actor in the school musical where a male cast member rests his head in thy lap”), and other things good Muslim Arab girls are not supposed to do. And, after the 9/11 attacks, she experiences the isolation of being a Muslim in her own country. It takes hours of therapy, fifty-five rounds of electrolysis, and some ill-advised romantic dalliances for Ayser to grow into a modern Arab American woman who embraces her cultural differences.

Part memoir and part how-not-to guide, The Wrong End of the Table is everything you wanted to know about Arabs but were afraid to ask, with chapters such as “Tattoos and Other National Security Risks,” “You Can’t Blame Everything on Your Period; Sometimes You’re Going to Be a Crazy Bitch: and Other Advice from Mom,” and even an open letter to Trump. This is the story of every American outsider on a path to find themselves in a country of beautiful diversity.


One of the points Salman makes a few times in this book is that her religion or heritage or gender or relationship status do not define her. They’re a part of what make her her but they aren’t the be-all end-all.

That would be her neuroses.

I kid! I’m pretty sure she would enjoy that joke, because she makes a lot similar to it throughout her stories, and those added a lot to this as well. I always love to laugh of course, and it seems that being able to laugh at yourself and your life is a critical skill at times. Especially the times when laughing seems impossible. Salman leans into that a lot, and the result is a roughly chronological tale of her life from a teeny child to a whole-ass adult that makes you really care about her and her journey. Or at least, I did. I was just curious to know more about her, and this totally scratched that itch.

Continue reading “Review: The Wrong End of the Table by Ayser Salman”
Posted in Chatty

April 2023 Wrap Up: I wasn’t here…


How many books that I planned did I read?

Well, it turns out I didn’t do a TBR post for April apparently?? But as I recall I had about 4 books I was loosely planning to continue or start, and of those I finished one, started another (but might abandon it…), and have one listed to begin for a buddy read in May. In total though, I read 12 books somehow.

The Plan:

The Result:

Key for April: Green = finished, yellow = in progress, white = not started

The Magician’s Daughter might end up being a DNF for me. It’s not terrible, it’s just not that interesting to me. It’s not catching me at all. I don’t care at all about any of the characters or what they’re going through, and the magic is kind of interesting but not enough to make up for the rest. I have so many other books I want to read right now that I don’t feel like giving time to a meh one for me. We’ll see if I return to it (about halfway at the moment).

Besides that, as you can see, I went on a bit of a tear there! I read a ton of nonfiction graphic novels after seeing a list of them my library posted with a ton of interesting titles. I’d been considering re-reading Anne Frank’s diary now that I’m an adult, so when I saw there’s a graphic novel adaptation I was a bit nervous but also curious about how they would transfer it to this medium. Her writing is shockingly mature at times for such a young girl, but then again so were her circumstances.

Continue reading “April 2023 Wrap Up: I wasn’t here…”
Posted in Reviews

Review: The Radical Practice of Loving Everyone: A Four-Legged Approach to Enlightenment by Michael J. Chase

The Radical Practice of Loving Everyone: A Four-Legged Approach to Enlightenment by Michael J. Chase

Recommended: yes!
For heartwarming and reflective stories about coping with life via how a dog lives, for an easy introduction to some key elements of Buddhism, for people who like dogs


Is “loving everyone” really possible, as the title of Michael J. Chase’s new book suggests? The answer may surprise you, as he chronicles his journey toward enlightenment, gaining insight from a very unlikely source—a four-legged guru named Mollie, who happens to be the most lovable yet mischievous dog in the world. In his attempt to understand her ability to unconditionally love all, Chase begins to see the world through his best friend’s eyes, especially during their morning walks. Mollie’s hilarious antics and maddening behavior ultimately lead to profound insights learned at the other end of the leash. Written with heart and sidesplitting humor, this one-of-a-kind true story of friendship and a divine albeit outrageous dog delivers on its promise to reveal a pathway toward enlightenment . . . and brings each of us one step closer to loving everyone.


I loved this one! I’ve been reading a lot of animal-based-Buddhism stuff (The Dalai Lama’s Cat for example) but this one is nonfiction which made it feel more believable and immediately relevant in some ways. This is an actual guy in these actual sitatuons and finding his own ways to deal with it.

A dog entered my life for the first time about a year ago, so some of the stories of general dog-ishness that he shares feel a lot more recognizable than they would have been for me before that. I think most people would be able to follow this though, assuming they have some passing familiarity with dogs and what they’re like in general. But if you’ve spent a lot of time with them, you’ll see a lot more familiarity here.

Continue reading “Review: The Radical Practice of Loving Everyone: A Four-Legged Approach to Enlightenment by Michael J. Chase”
Posted in Book Talk

May 2023 TBR: tough topics but still excited!

Hey y’all! I’ve got a plan for this month for what I’m going to read, and I’m really excited about it! I feel like there are a lot of books I have available right now that I’ve been anticipating reading for a while. They cover a bit of a spectrum of genres which I like to get a bit of variety, but that also means there’s not much that ties them together besides “I want to read them.” xD

Outside factors to read these!

As I’ve mentioned probably several times now, I’ve got Addie LaRue finally on my list. I’m giving Schwab this one more chance… and then I’ll just stop bothering. 😅 But in this case, I’m doing a buddy read with Nicole at BookWyrm Knits, so even if I hate the book I’ll have the fun of collaborating with someone else during it. 🙂

Continue reading “May 2023 TBR: tough topics but still excited!”
Posted in Chatty

2022 Year in Review, Part 2: Deep Stats from Storygraph & My Own Tracking

Hey y’all! It’s a third of the way through 2023, so of course that means one thing: I should probably post the rest of my yearly review things from last year. xD I did part one already, which was looking at the wrap up stats given by Storygraph (referenced as SG through this post when I’m feeling lazy) and Goodreads, and had some of the basic things like number of books read, longest book, and so on.

This next batch is looking at the beautiful, amazing graphs that Storygraph hosts for each year, as well as information from my own tracking system that I enjoy looking at (primarily countries books are set in!)

“I’m a mood reader”

I most certainly am a mood reader, but I have managed to find ways to work with my moods and give some structure to my reading with monthly TBRs that are usually about 50% completed with the other 50% books I just decided to read during the month. xD

But what ARE my moods that I’m usually looking for? My top five are below, but note that books can have more than one mood (for example, it could be emotional and sad)

  • 51.7% of my books were emotional
  • 30.3% of my books were lighthearted
  • 29.6% of my books were adventurous
  • 27.5% of my books were funny
  • 24.8% of my books were reflective

This is pretty much the same as most years that I’ve tracked on SG. In fact, since 2019 it’s been that same order with lighthearted and adventurous sometimes switching places by a few books difference. But I’m pretty consistent it seems!

And my least commonly read book moods? Relaxing, inspiring, and challenging.

Continue reading “2022 Year in Review, Part 2: Deep Stats from Storygraph & My Own Tracking”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Imogen, Obviously by Becky Albertalli (5/2/23)

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is
Expected Release:

Why wait on this one?

  • Queer romance! Especially when set in college, I love stories that are a more positive view on queer coming out, romance, and life in general as a nice break from some of the other bleaker realities that can come along with it. This sounds like it’ll be wholesome and sweet and just make me smile a lot 😊
  • I’ve read a few other books by Becky Albertalli, and have a few others on my TBR. I think it’s safe to say that I generally enjoy her style and approach to various topics.
  • And, okay, I admit I’m already a little swoony at the base plotline of the “totally straight” girl coming into her own awareness of a friend who starts to seem like maybe more. I admit the element of Lilli telling people she and Imogen used to date seems weird, but I’m assuming it’ll be easier to get behind and suspend my disbelief when I actually start reading it.


With humor and insight, #1 New York Times bestseller Becky Albertalli explores the nuances of sexuality, identity, and friendship.

Imogen Scott may be hopelessly heterosexual, but she’s got the World’s Greatest Ally title locked down.

She’s never missed a Pride Alliance meeting. She knows more about queer media discourse than her very queer little sister. She even has two queer best friends. There’s Gretchen, a fellow high school senior, who helps keep Imogen’s biases in check. And then there’s Lili—newly out and newly thriving with a cool new squad of queer college friends.

Imogen’s thrilled for Lili. Any ally would be. And now that she’s finally visiting Lili on campus, she’s bringing her ally A game. Any support Lili needs, Imogen’s all in.

Even if that means bending the truth, just a little.

Like when Lili drops a tiny queer bombshell: she’s told all her college friends that Imogen and Lili used to date. And none of them know that Imogen is a raging hetero—not even Lili’s best friend, Tessa.

Of course, the more time Imogen spends with chaotic, freckle-faced Tessa, the more she starts to wonder if her truth was ever all that straight to begin with. . .