Posted in Reviews

Review: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Recommended: ugh, yes
For lovers of meta trope silliness that’s a bit tongue in cheek, for lovers of fake-dating romances, for people in that academia life who want the thrill of love in it (though according to this book none of those people will have time to read anyway 😔)

Summary

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.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding…six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

Thoughts

Ahhhh, shit. I liked it. There was so much hype that I fully did not expect to. Also I kind of hate the cover for some reason? Though I get it now. I guess it looks too much like the guy is confused and not into it, and I don’t like that vibe in a story, but that’s not where this one goes.

I loved how the common tropes were acknowledged and teasingly turned on their head at times. Rom-coms exist in this universe, and the characters know about the fake-dating tropes and associated perils. It was such a fun aspect for an avid reader of rom-coms and romance. ☺

Part of my original hesitation on this book was the expectation that it would be the same old story of the one perky outgoing character and the one reclusive character (sunshine and grump, basically). It kiiind of was, but I think it also developed both leads into more than their assigned stereotypes. There was friendship for each of them on both sides, and other relationships that mattered. Part of the fun, as always in the trope, is the discovery of each other as more nuanced than they first thought.

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Review: Lucie Yi Is Not a Romantic by Lauren Ho

Lucie Yi Is Not a Romantic by Lauren Ho

Recommended: sure!
For a unique plot of romance, for a story of motherhood with wonderful friend support, for a lot of laugh-inducing moments, for a glimpse of how co-parenting can start and work

Summary

Management consultant Lucie Yi is done waiting for Mr. Right. After a harrowing breakup foiled her plans for children—and drove her to a meltdown in a Tribeca baby store—she’s ready to take matters into her own hands. She signs up for an elective co-parenting website to find a suitable partner with whom to procreate—as platonic as family planning can be.

Collin Read checks all of Lucie’s boxes; he shares a similar cultural background, he’s honest, and most important, he’s ready to become a father. When they match, it doesn’t take long for Lucie to take a leap of faith for her future. So what if her conservative family might not approve? When Lucie becomes pregnant, the pair return to Singapore and, sure enough, her parents refuse to look on the bright side. Even more complicated, Lucie’s ex-fiancé reappears, sparking unresolved feelings and compounding work pressures and the baffling ways her body is changing. Suddenly her straightforward arrangement is falling apart before her very eyes, and Lucie will have to decide how to juggle the demands of the people she loves while pursuing the life she really wants

Thoughts

If you look back at my Fast Forward Friday post for this book, I got everything I wanted out of this and more. HOW OFTEN DOES THAT HAPPEN? (Not often!) So I’m really impressed and delighted by this story. I did expect it to be a little bit more serious and dry, but I’m really pleased that I was wrong about that one point, because it was so much fun in addition to being thoughtful and emotional. There was a lot more rom-com to this than I thought there’d be!

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Review: Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Recommended: for certain people
For folks who love food or have strong memory associations with it, for a heartwrenching amount of grief, for (seemingly, I guess who knows what she kept to herself) total honesty and dull blunt assessments of some of the most painful moments in her life, for little splashes of joy, for baffling contrasts of explosive anger and tender love

Summary

In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humor and heart, she tells of growing up one of the few Asian American kids at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother’s particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother’s tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food.

As she grew up, moving to the East Coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, and performing gigs with her fledgling band–and meeting the man who would become her husband–her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live. It was her mother’s diagnosis of terminal cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her.

Thoughts

I guess I didn’t expect or realize that this would be a memoir entirely via food. I’m not terribly interested in descriptions of food or eating or cooking or really much of anything about food, so this was honestly a struggle for me. Pretty much my own fault, but I still would have given this a go had I realized, I just would have been more prepared for it. There are a lot of sections that are entirely about different ingredients, or the process of cooking a meal, or the experience of eating it. If food holds memories for you (or you just like food I guess) then it probably won’t be any issue. This is a huge part of why I didn’t connect to or enjoy this one much, as much as you can “enjoy” such a sad focus in a memoir.

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Review: A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair

A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair

Recommended: eh
For Hades and Persephone sex scenes, for another angle of these characters, for some great creative imaginings of other gods and their world. Not for terribly interesting characters or plot conflicts

Summary

Persephone is the Goddess of Spring by title only. The truth is, since she was a little girl, flowers have shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hopes to lead an unassuming life disguised as a mortal journalist.

Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible.

After a chance encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead and the terms are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever.

The bet does more than expose Persephone’s failure as a goddess, however. As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom, love for the God of the Dead grows—and it’s forbidden.

Thoughts

I finally read this after borrowing it from Hoopla like eight times! It was decent. Thankfully it was more tame than the other Scarlett St. Clair book I read without realizing their, uh, style of writing. xD It can get distracting.

Anyway, my favorite thing about the story was probably the connections to other stories I’ve read fictionalizing Persephone and Hades. It’s fun to tease out the common thread of the original story by seeing what themes come up repeatedly. Minthe, Tartarus, pomegranates, and even pink dresses. Somehow it’s all connected! Delightful.

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Review: The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

Recommended: yessss
For a story within a story (within a story?), for a lot of twistiness around writing and text and authors, for a good old fashioned murder mystery, for a lovely exploration of Boston!

Summary

The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquility is shattered by a woman’s terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who’d happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.

Award-winning author Sulari Gentill delivers a sharply thrilling read with The Woman in the Library, an unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship and shows us that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all.

Thoughts

THIS. WAS. SO. GOOD. By chapter two or three I was so giddy with excitement over all that this book was already promising. There’s a text within the text, and it allowed me to come up with 4 or 5 wildly different theories as to what the resolution of the story would be. I got real creative, LET ME TELL YA. And that last line? BOY DO I HAVE THOUGHTS.

Okay. Obviously it’s a murder mystery, so I’ll keep the spoiler talk out (and/or hidden under a spoiler tag at the end). It was freaking fantastic though! It seemed like everyone at one point or another was a suspect. There was one point about 80% of the way through that made me go “OH okay, it’s obviously X.” And then the characters slowly came to that conclusion. But still — I had an extremely fun time all the way up to that point waiting to see what would happen.

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Review: Soundless by Richelle Mead

Soundless by Richelle Mead

Recommended: sure
For an incredibly sensory experience of the world, for a common plot executed in a unique way

Summary

For as long as Fei can remember, no one in her village has been able to hear. Rocky terrain and frequent avalanches make it impossible to leave the village, so Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink. Many go hungry. Fei and all the people she loves are plunged into crisis, with nothing to look forward to but darkness and starvation.

Until one night, Fei is awoken by a searing noise. Sound becomes her weapon.

She sets out to uncover what’s happened to her and to fight the dangers threatening her village. A handsome miner with a revolutionary spirit accompanies Fei on her quest, bringing with him new risks and the possibility of romance. They embark on a majestic journey from the peak of their jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiguo, where a startling truth will change their lives forever…

Thoughts

A few decisions didn’t make sense to me and seemed like plot holes, but overall I enjoyed this unique implementation of a common plot of exploitation and world changing secrets about everything you know. I was more than willing to suspend disbelief to enjoy the adventure and revelation.

The ending pivoted in fairly quickly in the last twenty percent or so and I wish there had been a little bit more hinted earlier to lead to it. As it was, it felt a little abrupt and strange to get key details only in the last act, but I guess that’s the experience the character has too so I certainly do empathize!

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Posted in Chatty

20 (well, 15) books of summer sign up!

Hey y’all! I’ve seen a few folks (Misty, Carla, Dini) posting about joining a reading goal for the summer of 20 books from June 1st (whoops) to September 1st. I’m a bit late, but I wanted to join in! The catch, if you don’t mind me calling it that, is to also review all of the books read in that time / chosen list. Which is where my strength tends to fail me. xD

So since I’m late and am not sure I’ll read 20 more books in the next two months, I’m going to try this year out at 15! Maybe next year I’ll start on time and give it a 20, but I’m already 5 books in to June right now so I’ve shot myself in the foot a bit with this. For my purposes, I’m also going to include books as counted if I DNF them (and review them for why!) since that means I gave it a shot and got it off my list.

Anyway! The original challenge is created and hosted at 746 Books, and you can check out the details and snag some pretty graphics if you want to join as well. You can comment on their sign up post to add your own too!

I’m going to add these as more of categories than specific book list. For example, I’ll add Sankofa to this list as a book to read, but any Book of the Month book that I haven’t read will fill that slot if not that book. Covers link to Goodreads or my review once it’s up! I’ll update the covers with the books I actually end up using, as well, but my original list includes my first-picked titles. 🙂

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