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ARC Review: How to Win a Breakup by Farah Heron (3/21/23)

How to Win a Breakup by Farah Heron
Expected Release Date: March 21, 2023

Check out the Goodreads Giveaway, open until March 21!

Recommended: sure
For a sweet story with some actual mystery to it, for a fun integration of nerdy gamer things that you’ll be in on the joke for if you’re a gamer, for characters who support being their true authentic selves


First, math genius and gamer-nerd Samaya gets dumped by her boyfriend. Then he sabotages her job and hooks up with her frenemy. What could be worse? Clearly, her golden-boy ex is winning the breakup. The only way Samaya can get some rebound cred is to find someone new. Even if she has to fake it.

At a volunteer bake sale, Samaya meets a sweet opportunity. Daniel is a handsome hockey jock and a whiz when it comes to lemon squares and brownies. And he agrees to play along. Quid pro quo. He’ll pretend to be the boyfriend of her dreams if Samaya helps him pass calculus.

This may well be the recipe for the best revenge, but Samaya has no idea how complicated it will get. As they whip up an imitation romance, and a bumbleberry pie, resisting each other’s very real charms proves impossible. Samaya finds herself on an unexpected journey of secrets, self-discovery, and the true meaning of moving on.


This starts off with a premise that could easily fall to the lazy, boring trope where the conflict is driven by people simply not talking to each other. Happily, that lazy boring trope is not where this book draws from. Instead, there’s a well-developed sense of identity and authenticity, as well as mutual support. Considering this is a fake-dating trope, it’s really impressive that it still felt very genuine for the characters!

I loved that they were pretty honest with each other from the start. Even though there’s the one obvious lie of pretending this guy is an excellent gamer, they both focus on staying true to themselves and encouraging each other to do the same. Daniel’s interactions with Samaya’s friends was focused a lot on who he genuinely is, rather than solely on his assumed persona. They even call that out to each other after, which was a heartwarming moment of clarity. This is a critical basis of any relationship, so I was quickly invested in them, regardless of if romance came or it stayed as a strong friendship.

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Review: Everyone Hates Kelsie Miller by Meredith Ireland

Everyone Hates Kelsie Miller by Meredith Ireland

Recommended: eh…
If you can be ok with an MC / narrator who is actually an unlikeable dick, if you enjoy academic rivals, if you enjoy mini road trips, then this might work for you. If any of that turns you off… probably pass


Today Tonight Tomorrow meets A Pho Love Story in this whip-smart young adult novel about a girl who embarks on a road trip with her long-time rival to win back her best friend and his girlfriend.

There’s no one Kelsie Miller hates more than Eric Mulvaney Ortiz—the homecoming king, captain of the football team, and academic archrival in her hyper-competitive prep school. But after Kelsie’s best friend, Briana, moves across the country and stops speaking to her, she’ll do anything, even talk to Eric, to find out why.

After they run into each other—literally—at the last high school party of the summer, Eric admits he’s been ghosted by his girlfriend, Jessica. Kelsie tells him she’s had zero contact from Briana since she left their upstate New York town.

Suddenly, a plan is formed: they’ll go on a road trip to the University of Pennsylvania the following week when both Briana and Jessica will be on campus. Together, they’ll do whatever it takes to win back their exes.

What could go wrong?

Used to succeeding in everything, Kelsie and Eric assume they’ll naturally figure out the details on the drive down. What they don’t expect is that the person they actually need may be the one sitting next to them.


The main problem here is that I finished this book 4 days ago and I’ve already almost forgotten it. That alone tells me that it’s not anything wildly special to me, if four days have already let it slip away. I acknowledge as part of that, though, that two things went against this for me immediately:
1. I’m not a fan of road trip stories, which this is like 35% a road trip story
2. I’m not a fan of enemies to lovers where it’s really that one person is just an asshole and there was never actually any animosity needed or present for the other person

The road trip portion is blessedly short, which I was super grateful for because a story entirely in a car is a hard sell for me. Once they get out of the car again I was more into it and able to sink in to the characters a bit more. There were definitely a few moments that made me smile in mild amusement, but there were also moments that were so legitimately unbelievable that they just seemed stupid and forced.

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A-Z Challenge 2022 Complete!

Hey y’all!

It’s February, and I’m just starting some of my “2022 wrap up” kinds of posts, because I’ve been procrastinating a lot. These posts take a tonnn of formatting which often bores the heck out of me. But finally, it is done: my list of books for the A-Z title challenge, where I read a book that begins with each letter of the English alphabet. Below is the gallery of my 26 representative books from 2022, as well as some notes on each in the section below the gallery!

“But wait!” you cry. “What about those crazy end letters, like V and X and – my god – Z?!

Yep, I got those covered too. This year, I only read two F books and two R books and yet there was a shocking abundance of H books. And Z? I read TWO Z books this year! Wild!

The Gallery of A to Z

The Summary of A to Z

  • C: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty was a book I had planned to read for a while, and I finally did. And I LOVE IT. Enough to buy the second and third books and immediately read them back to back, finishing the whole ~1500 page series in about 2.5 weeks

  • E: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng is one that I honestly don’t remember why I read it, but I think it was for a challenge. My overall thoughts at this point are “meh” since I don’t really remember it.

  • F: Factory Girls by Michelle Gallen was a book from Aardvark book club, a new one I joined! It was about Northern Ireland in the 90s and a girl graduating high school and trying to figure out what she wants to do, or at least what she’s able to do in the shitty life she has.

  • H: A Hundred Silent Ways by Marie Jojie was an incredibly emotional hit with a really well-done deaf main character and a love story that’s equal parts pain and harsh truths mixed with genuine “I’d do anything for love” moments. I adored it so much, and I want everyone to know about it.

  • I: I Named My Dog Pushkin by Margarita Gokun Silver is one of those long-time TBR lingerers that I finally bought after admitting that no library was going to have it, for some reason. It was SO FUNNY! I enjoyed it quite a lot, and got a lot of unique insight to Russian culture that I’ve never encountered before.

  • K: Kiss & Tell by Adib Khorram was not honestly my favorite, but it was available on a long train ride home when I had finished my other book.

  • M: My Inner Sky by Mari Andrew was an excellent therapeutic read with it’s combination of beautiful words and a beautiful physical presentation through the whole book. I think this will become a mental health re-read for me each year, similarly to Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy.

  • Q: Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf made me feel smart about the words I knew that were touted as the “impressive” words, plus it had an unexpected touch of realism in the murder-mystery plot.

  • S: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty made me think about death a lot, but in a good and healthy way. I will probably re-read this one every few years for both it’s pratical knowledge and the way it makes me reflect on where I’m at

  • T: Take It From Me by Jamie Beck was overall decent, but was unique in it’s handling of a main character with kleptomania, which I have not often seen and especially not in a serious manner (as opposed to being used as a laugh).

So that’s it for 2022’s alphabet challenge! I have some ideas for 2023, but we’ll see where my reading takes me first!

Posted in Reviews

Review: This Is How Your Marriage Ends: A Hopeful Approach to Saving Relationships by Matthew Fray

This Is How Your Marriage Ends: A Hopeful Approach to Saving Relationships by Matthew Fray

Recommended: yes!!
For anyone who interacts with other humans, for anyone who wants to have better relationships of all kinds with others (friendship, coworkers, roommates, etc), for anyone in a long-term relationship or who wants to be, for anyone who shares a living space with other humans


Good people can be bad at relationships.

One night during his divorce, after one too many vodkas and a call with a phone-in-therapist who told him to “journal his feelings,” Matthew Fray started a blog. He needed to figure out how his ex-wife went from the eighteen-year-old college freshman who adored him to the angry woman who thought he was an asshole and left him. As he pieced together the story of his marriage and its end, Matthew began to realize a hard truth: even though he was a decent guy, he was a bad husband.

As he shared raw, uncomfortable, and darkly humorous first-person stories about the lessons he’d learned from his failed marriage, a peculiar thing happened. Matthew started to gain a following. In January 2016 a post he wrote–“She Divorced Me Because I left the Dishes by the Sink”–went viral and was read over four million times.

Filtered through the lens of his own surprising, life-changing experience and his years counseling couples, This Is How Your Marriage Ends exposes the root problem of so many relationships that go wrong. We simply haven’t been taught any of the necessary skills, Matthew explains. In fact, it is sometimes the assumption that we are acting on good intentions that causes us to alienate our partners and foment mistrust.

With the humorous, entertaining, and counterintuitive approach of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, and the practical insights of The 5 Love Languages, This is How Your Marriage Ends helps readers identify relationship-killing behavior patterns in their own lives, and offers solutions to break free from the cycles of dysfunction and destruction. It is must-read for every partner no matter what stage-beginning, middle, or even end–of your relationship.


I found this book and author, probably like many, through a New York Times article about his blog post titled “She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes By The Sink” which he even acknowledges in his book as being part of what got him known. He has an updated version in the book which I appreciated, as it toned down and removed some of the bitterness that still lingered at the original time of writing as well as the man-woman dichotomy presented. He makes room for relationships of all kinds in his book, and that was critical because it’s truly applicable in so many ways.

Look, y’all, I’m not married and frankly I don’t ever plan to be. BUT, I am in a long-term monogamous relationship sharing a house and finances and stuff so it’s basically marriage just without the government being involved. So for me, reading this book was a way to get some advice and more formal tips on being in a relationship. I think I’m doing okay so far, but it’s a skill, and not one I’ve ever had teaching on. I decided to change that, and goddamn was it awesome.

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Review: Have I Told You This Already? by Lauren Graham

Have I Told You This Already?: Stories I Don’t Want to Forget to Remember by Lauren Graham

Recommended: not really…
If you know you really like her style of humor, if you’re interested in acting/filming minutiae


With her signature sense of humor and down-to-earth storytelling, Lauren Graham opens up about her years working in the entertainment business–from the sublime to the ridiculous–and shares personal stories about everything from family and friendship to the challenges of aging gracefully in Hollywood. In RIP Barneys New York, she writes about an early job as a salesperson at the legendary department store — and the time she inadvertently shoplifted; in Ne Oublie she warns us about the perils of coming from an extremely forgetful family; and in Actor-y Factory she recounts what a day in the life of an actor looks like (unless you’re Brad Pitt).

Filled with surprising anecdotes, sage advice, and laugh-out-loud observations, Graham’s latest collection of all-new, original essays showcases the winning charm and wit that she’s known for.


Boy, I did not like this. What a surprise! I guess I don’t like her style of humor? It just wasn’t humorous to me, if it was meant to be. A lot of these were annoying, and frankly a lot of the topics felt superficial and shallow and that’s not always terrible, but in this case it just didn’t work for me. I ended up skimming several of the stories, and in completely skipping one or two of them.

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Review: Sorry, Bro by Taleen Voskuni

Sorry, Bro by Taleen Voskuni

Recommended: sure
for learning about Armenian (or Armenian-American) culture, for an LGBTQ character embracing who she is for the first time, for lovable characters (except maybe the MC sometimes)


When Nareh Bedrossian’s non-Armenian boyfriend gets down on one knee and proposes to her in front of a room full of drunk San Francisco tech boys, she realizes it’s time to find someone who shares her idea of romance.
Enter her mother: armed with plenty of mom-guilt and a spreadsheet of Facebook-stalked Armenian men, she convinces Nar to attend Explore Armenia, a month-long series of events in the city. But it’s not the mom-approved playboy doctor or the wealthy engineer who catch Nar’s eye—it’s Erebuni, a woman as immersed in the witchy arts as she is in preserving Armenian identity. Suddenly, with Erebuni as her wingwoman, the events feel like far less of a chore, and much more of an adventure. Who knew cooking up kuftes together could be so . . . sexy?
Erebuni helps Nar see the beauty of their shared culture and makes her feel understood in a way she never has before. But there’s one teeny problem: Nar’s not exactly out as bisexual. The clock is ticking on her double life—the Explore Armenia closing banquet is coming up, and her entire extended family will be there, along with Erebuni. Her worlds will inevitably collide, but Nar is determined to be brave and to claim her happiness: proudly Armenian, proudly bisexual, and proudly herself for the first time in her life.


Shockingly, the main character is actually my least favorite character in this one. She’s generally okay, but the other characters really really shine. I love her mother. I love Diana. I love Erebuni, SO much. I think I’d rather read some things from her perspective, really! Maybe it’s the slight age difference with Erebuni being a few years older, but she seemed WAY more mature (or perhaps Nareh is just particularly immature in some ways). Erebuni was full of grace and compassion and love for all around her and it was beautiful to watch.

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Review: The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michie

The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michie

Recommended: heck yeah!
For a cute series of anecdotes narrated by a cat, for relatable parables and advice, for a gentle introduction to Buddhism


“In the months that followed I watched His Holiness working on a new book . . . I began to think that perhaps the time had come for me to turn my paws to a book of my own . . . one that tells my own tale . . . How I was rescued from a fate too grisly to contemplate, to become constant companion to a man who is not only one of the world’s greatest spiritual leaders and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, but who is also a dab hand with the can opener.”

Not so much fly-on-the-wall as cat-on-the-sill, this is the warmhearted tale of a small kitten rescued from the slums of New Delhi who finds herself in a beautiful sanctuary with sweeping views of the snow-capped Himalayas. In her exotic new home, the Dalai Lama’s cat encounters Hollywood stars, Buddhist masters, Ivy-league professors, famous philanthropists, and a host of other people who come visiting His Holiness. Each encounter offers a fresh insight into finding happiness and meaning in the midst of a life of busy-ness and challenge. Drawing us into her world with her adorable but all-too-flawed personality, the Dalai Lama’s cat discovers how instead of trying to change the world, changing the way we experience the world is the key to true contentment.

Featuring a delightful cast of characters, timeless Buddhist wisdom, and His Holiness’s compassion pervading every chapter, The Dalai Lama’s Cat is simply enchanting.


When I decided to read this, I didn’t realize how much of a focus on Buddhism there was. I’m so happy for it though, because it was a wonderful way to learn about it and many of the ideas resonated with me. It was a very gentle approach, and was made entertaining by the narrative perspective of a cat. I loved it so much that I’m probably going to look up other similar books in this series as well as ones mentioned in the book itself.

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Review: How To Turn Into a Bird by Maria Jose Ferrada (translated to English)

How to Turn Into a Bird by María José Ferrada


After years of hard work in a factory outside of Santiago, Chile, Ramón accepts a peculiar job: to look after a Coca-Cola billboard located by the highway. And it doesn’t take long for Ramón to make an even more peculiar decision: to make the billboard his new home.

Twelve-year-old Miguel is enchanted by his uncle’s unusual living arrangement, but the neighborhood is buzzing with gossip, declaring Ramón a madman bringing shame to the community. As he visits his uncle in a perch above it all, Miguel comes to see a different perspective, and finds himself wondering what he believes—has his uncle lost his mind, as everyone says? Is madness—and the need for freedom—contagious? Or is Ramón the only one who can see things as they really are, finding a deeper meaning in a life they can’t understand from the ground?

When a local boy disappears, tensions erupt and forgotten memories come to the surface. And Miguel, no longer perched in the billboard with his uncle, witnesses the reality on the ground: a society that, in the name of peace, is not afraid to use violence. With sharp humor and a deep understanding of a child’s mind, How to Turn Into a Bird is a powerful tale of coming of age, loss of innocence, and shifting perspectives that asks us: how far outside of our lives must we go to really see things clearly?



I don’t think I “got” this book, but I still didn’t mind reading it. I ended it feeling pretty bemused and wondering why? in a general way. This was a strange book for me in a few ways.

I had a physical copy, and it was a special printing in hardcover from Aardvark book club. I assume because it wasn’t published that way originally, it led to the oddity of having an extremely generous amount of blank space on each page. The margins were enormous on all 4 sides of the text, and when that combined with a poignantly short paragraph or chapter of only a few sentences, I had a full sized page with about eight words on it. Then it would be a full blank page, and the start of a new chapter. This actually worked really well for the mood of the book in some ways, since it was all about space and freedom and solitude, and the physicality of the words reflected that.

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Review: Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up a Wizard by Tom Felton

Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up a Wizard by Tom Felton

Recommended: yup!
For Harry Potter fans, for a behind-the-scenes look at film life particularly when young, for a gentle memoir that’s treated with teasing humor and sensitivity


From Borrower to wizard, Tom Felton’s adolescence was anything but ordinary. His early rise to fame saw him catapulted into the limelight aged just twelve when he landed the iconic role of Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films.

Speaking with candour and his own trademark humour, Tom shares his experience of growing up on screen and as part of the wizarding world for the very first time. He tells all about his big break, what filming was really like and the lasting friendships he made during ten years as part of the franchise, as well as the highs and lows of fame and the reality of navigating adult life after filming finished.

Prepare to meet a real-life wizard.


Woman at book club: Ugh, my library hold for Tom Felton’s book is MONTHS away still!
[I glance over and see the title is Beyond the Wand and has a moody picture of a man — and assume it’s some kind of light paranormal erotica)
Me: Who’s Tom Felton?
Another woman: Draco!!!
Me: ???
Me: OH!!!
Me: (places my own hold and is pleased that it’s only a few weeks away)

Y’all this is yet another book I did not expect to read, but boy am I happy I did! If you’re somehow here and also not sure who Tom Felton / Draco is, it’s the actor who plays antagonist Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies. I was curious about this because: 1. sure, I like Harry Potter; 2. I’ve been really enjoying my tv / movie related nonfiction in the past few months; and 3. his character is largely portrayed as a hated villain, so I’m extremely curious to take a little peek behind the curtain and see what his experience of it was like.

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Review: Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor

Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor

Recommended: I don’t think so?
Because I ended it feeling like I didn’t really get much out of it, and it’s low-key depressing. Go for it if you like sprawling stories that cover decades and multiple characters, with a tale that weaves between everyone it touches


This is the age of vice, where money, pleasure, and power are everything,and the family ties that bind can also kill.New Delhi, 3 a.m. A speeding Mercedes jumps the curb and in the blink of an eye, five people are dead. It’s a rich man’s car, but when the dust settles there is no rich man at all, just a shell-shocked servant who cannot explain the strange series of events that led to this crime. Nor can he foresee the dark drama that is about to unfold.Deftly shifting through time and perspective in contemporary India, Age of Vice is an epic, action-packed story propelled by the seductive wealth, startling corruption, and bloodthirsty violence of the Wadia family — loved by some, loathed by others, feared by all.In the shadow of lavish estates, extravagant parties, predatory business deals and calculated political influence, three lives become dangerously intertwined: Ajay is the watchful servant, born into poverty, who rises through the family’s ranks. Sunny is the playboy heir who dreams of outshining his father, whatever the cost. And Neda is the curious journalist caught between morality and desire. Against a sweeping plot fueled by loss, pleasure, greed, yearning, violence and revenge, will these characters’ connections become a path to escape, or a trigger of further destruction?


If you ask me what this book is about I would probably have a bit of a hard time explaining. It’s strangely complex, one of those stories where every character you meet is involved with all of the others in some obscure way. While that can have a pretty cool effect, in this one it left me a bit unsure of why things mattered. And when it came to the very end, I genuinely had no idea what happened, let alone why it happened.

My biggest struggle with this book is that everything in it is terrible. Nothing good happens, basically ever. If you think something good has just happened, know that you’re probably wrong and it will be later revealed to actually be a terrible thing. Everyone is unhappy, even the people who are “supposed” to be happy because they’re rich, or in control, or whatever it may be. This was just such a tale of misery that it was really hard to witness it all.

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