Posted in Reviews

Review: Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens

Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens

Recommended: yep!
For a cute little love story about love, for characters who are mostly lovable and only ocassionally idiots, for a personal tour of the island 🙂

Summary

Laura’s business trip to the Channel Islands isn’t exactly off to a great start. After unceremoniously dumping everything in her bag in front of the most attractive man she’s ever seen in real life, she arrives at her hotel only to realize she’s grabbed the wrong suitcase from the airport. Her only consolation? The irresistibly appealing contents of the case: a copy of her favorite book; piano music; and a rugged, heavy knit fisherman sweater only a Ryan Gosling lookalike could pull off. The owner of this suitcase is Laura’s dream man–she’s sure of it. Now, all she has to do is find him.

The mix-up seems written in the stars. After all, what are the odds that she’d find The One on the same remote island where her mom and dad had first fallen in love, especially as she sets out to write an article about their epic romance? Commissioning surly cab driver Ted to ferry her around seems like her best bet in both tracking down the mystery suitcase owner and retracing her parents’ footsteps. And if beneath Ted’s gruffness lies a wit that makes their cab rides strangely entertaining, so much the better. But as Laura’s long-lost luggage soulmate proves difficult to find–and as she realizes that the love story she’s held on a pedestal all her life might not have been that perfect–she’ll have to rethink her whole outlook on love to discover what she really wants.

Thoughts

It has now been several months since I finished this, and I still am remembering it fondly, which really could be my entire view in one sentence. However, I am verbose, and will add more. 😁

The overall premise and plot of the book are excellently done and play with tropes and expectations in a really fun way. I think fun is honestly the perfect word to sum up this book. With it you get a lot of smiles and silliness, but also maybe some things that could have been done better (which were sacrificed in the same of more fun). Looking back at my highlights, there are a lot that I had highlighted just because they made me smile. In the whip played with the tropes and expectations, I was somehow surprised in little moments along the way but not at the overall turnout. Granted when you read a rom-com, you kind of know what to expect at the ending most of the time.

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Review: Pride, Prejudice, and Turkish Delight by K.C. McCormick Ciftci

Pride, Prejudice, & Turkish Delight by K.C. McCormick Çiftçi

Recommended: yep!
for a cute story with parallels to a classic lit story, for an adventure story, for a story about taking risks and finding yourself, for lots of teaching pedagogy and moments that teachers will fully resonate with, for career and friendship and romance decisions

Summary

Having led a safe (admittedly boring) life until now, Eliza Britt wasn’t about to turn down the opportunity to work in Antalya, Turkey. With the Mediterranean calling, she was excited to help lead the university’s English department and to finally have a little adventure in her life.

On arrival Eliza soon realizes that her new posting won’t be all cerulean waters and exploring a new culture. Instead she’s faced with Deniz Aydem. Forced to work together, Eliza isn’t sure she will be able to ignore his arrogance or the unexpected attraction she feels for him.

Eliza and Deniz differ in every way. She’s American, he’s Turkish. She embraces her sense of humor, whereas Deniz has a serious disposition. But regardless of all their differences, something is simmering beneath the surface of their interactions. Whether it’s love or just an intense dislike for each other remains to be seen.

Thoughts

The title alone makes it clear that this is meant to be a bit of a parallel to pride and prejudice, but it definitely can stand on its own. There are certainly parallels to Austin’s story, but they are more like little fun bonuses if you know what to look for. For anyone not interested or not familiar with pride and prejudice, this will still be a fun read.

As a former teacher, I enjoyed the realism with which the profession was portrayed. There are so many struggles faced, and I would say that the struggles of from the admin side are not usually the perspective we see. It’s clear for teachers how administration can make daily life harder, but rarely is there a story where the admin making life harder is the protagonist. I appreciated the sensitive insight here and the learning that the main character does in regards of her career and how her decisions affected her teams and teachers and ultimately her students.

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Review: I Named My Dog Pushkin by Margarita Gokun Silver

I Named My Dog Pushkin by Margarita Gokun Silver

Recommended: yes!
For a how-to on getting out of Soviet Russia, for culture clash and integration stories told with a smile and a wink, for a lot of general Russian culture and lifestyle information

Summary

Buy a pair of Levi’s, lose the Russian accent, and turn yourself into an American. Really, how difficult could it be?

Fake an exit visa, fool the Soviet authorities, pack enough sausage to last through immigration, buy a one-way Aeroflot ticket, and the rest will sort itself out. That was the gist of every Soviet-Jewish immigrant’s plan in the 1980s, Margarita’s included. Despite her father’s protestations that they’d get caught and thrown into a gulag, she convinced her family to follow that plan.

When they arrived in the US, Margarita had a clearly defined objective – become fully American as soon as possible, and leave her Soviet past behind. But she soon learned that finding her new voice was harder than escaping the Soviet secret police.

She finds herself changing her name to fit in, disappointing her parents who expect her to become a doctor, a lawyer, an investment banker and a classical pianist – all at the same time, learning to date without hang-ups (there is no sex in the Soviet Union), parenting her own daughter ‘while too Russian’, and not being able to let go of old habits (never, ever throw anything away because you might use it again). Most importantly, she finds that no matter how hard you try not to become your parents, you end up just like them anyway.

Thoughts

This book had been on my list for a long time, and I don’t even remember how I originally found it. I am so glad I finally can around to reading it, because I was just as good as I had hoped it would be! Granted, I had no idea who/what “pushkin” was or why that would matter but I got the sense this would be filled with humor and I was correct.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: Factory Girls by Michelle Gallen

Factory Girls by Michelle Gallen

Recommended: sure
For a life inside the Troubles in Northern Ireland, for an almost slice-of-life story of one girl just trying to live her life, for a lot of irish-y slang and words that you fall into the rhythm of

Summary

It’s the summer of 1994, and all smart-mouthed Maeve Murray wants are good final exam results so she can earn her ticket out of the wee Northern Irish town she has grown up in during the Troubles. She hopes she will soon be in London studying journalism—away from her crowded home, the silence and sadness surrounding her sister’s death, and most of all, away from the violence of her divided community.

As a first step, Maeve’s taken a job in a shirt factory working alongside Protestants with her best friends. But getting the right exam results is only part of Maeve’s problem—she’s got to survive a tit-for-tat paramilitary campaign, iron 100 shirts an hour all day every day, and deal with the attentions of Handy Andy Strawbridge, her slick and untrustworthy English boss. Then, as the British loyalist marching season raises tensions among the Catholic and Protestant workforce, Maeve realizes something is going on behind the scenes at the factory. What seems to be a great opportunity to earn money turns out to be a crucible in which Maeve faces the test of a lifetime. Seeking justice for herself and her fellow workers may just be Maeve’s one-way ticket out of town.

Thoughts

I enjoyed reading this every time I picked it up, but now that I’ve finished it I’m left thinking, wait what was the plot of this? What was the resolution? WAS there one? It’s kind of a weird feeling, because it was kind of a weird ending. It felt very abrupt to me, like even a cop out epilogue that was like “five years later…” would have helped. Still, it was decent overall. There was a lot of historical context that I’ve never learned much about, so this was wildly educational for me in a way, too.

Since it’s set in Northern Ireland in 1994, there’s of course lots of Irish English words (and sometimes just Irish Irish words!) like craic and biccies and boke. Luckily I knew a few of these (craic is fun, a good time, interesting shit, and sounds like crack) and could figure others out through context (the biccies they have with tea are probably biscuits). Some took me a while though, like boke, which I didn’t figure out contextually until probably 70% of the way through after many examples. xD There were others I really didn’t get at all, but was able to just move on and get the gist of a sentence of thought from the rest of it.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: Star Stories: Constellation Tales From Around the World by Anita Ganeri & Andy Wilx

Star Stories: Constellations Tales From Around the World by Anita Ganeri

Recommended: sure
for children as an entry to global myths and legend and culture in general, for adults who want a gentle into to the same, for lovely art and a physically delightful book to hold

Summary

For thousands of years people have looked up to the night sky and told stories about the stars. These epic tales tell of vengeful gods and goddesses, of monsters and heroes. Others try to make sense of the natural world, or unravel the mysterious forces of the universe. This stunning book brings together a selection of these legends from all over the world – from Ancient Greece to North America, Egypt, China, India and the South Pacific. Written by award-winning author Anita Ganeri and with beautifully detailed artwork by illustrator Andy Wilx, this is a magical book to be treasured for generations to come.

Thoughts

This would be a lovely book for kids probably around 10 or so, as it has exciting and varied stories from around the world, plus wonderful and engaging art. Honestly anyone would probably enjoy this, but it’s definitely a good option for children.

This collection has fairly short and simple versions of each story around a constellation, with stories chosen from around the world. The fact that they are somewhat condensed means that some of the nuance can be missing from them. In exchange, it’s easier to get through several without it dragging or getting bogged down in details. For children, I think that’ll be great, particularly as a nighttime story. It would be easy to re-read favorites.

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Review: Where We End & Begin by Jane Igharo

Where We End & Begin by Jane Igharo


Recommended: meh
For lots of Nigerian culture, for a class divide romance, for kind of frustrating characters

Summary

Star-crossed lovers get a second chance at romance when they’re reunited at a wedding in Nigeria, in a heartfelt novel from the acclaimed author of The Sweetest Remedy.

Dunni hasn’t seen her high school boyfriend, Obinna, since she left Nigeria to attend college in America. Before their devastating separation, they vowed to find their way back to each other one day.

Twelve years later, and their vow is a thing of the past. Dunni works as a geneticist in Seattle and is engaged to a man she doesn’t love but one her parents approve of. Her future is laid out for her, and everything is going according to plan until she returns to Nigeria for a friend’s wedding and runs into Obinna. The shy, awkward boy she loved as a teenager is now a sophisticated, confident man. Things have changed, but there’s still an undeniable connection between them.

As they rediscover each other, their days filled with desire and passion, Dunni is reminded of the beautiful future she once planned with Obinna. But when devastating secrets are revealed and the reckless actions of their past bring new challenges, she’s left questioning everything, including if the love that consumed her as a teenager is still worth holding on to.

Thoughts


Alright, here are my issues with it in a nutshell:

First and foremost, SHE IS ENGAGED FROM THE START. I hate that. I hate that she cheats and is like “oh I feel so guilty but also so in love with this guy that I’m going to do it anyway.” I’m not arguing that this isn’t a valid story to be told, or one that doesn’t or shouldn’t happen. I just hated reading about it because I can’t root for a cheater. She was doomed for me from the start.

► On that note…View spoilers
    When she breaks it off with Christopher and tells him “Actually you DON’T love me” I find that really fucking annoying. Like, bitch, don’t tell me what I feel! But you know, on his behalf. So then to just have him meekly be like, yeah I guess you’re right, no hard feelings, have a nice life and essentially just give her Z E R O ramifications for what she did was extra frustrating. And WHY THE FUCK DOESN’T OBINNA CARE EITHER?? I mean sure he’s so in love and all that but damn she’s totally using him here. Ugh.

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Review: June, Reimagined by Rebekah Crane

June, Reimagined by Rebekah Crane

Recommended: noooo
Hateable characters, rampant sexism, lust-not-love, conflict would be 100% solved by talking to each other at any point, and a dead brother is used as a convenient but insignificant plot point. Lots of possessive male bullshit in this one. Lots of the female MC thinking “I’m just being oversensitive, too emotional” and that never being resolved into her saying “hey fuck those guys, I’m entitled to my feelings and also they’re being total assholes and trying to control me and my body!”

Summary

June Merriweather is on the run—from her own life. Her brother is dead, her parents are liars, and her college major is a joke. Apart from her best friend, Matt, June is desperate for reinvention. And a one-way ticket out of Cincinnati to the Scottish Highlands is a good place to start.

With a backpack, an urn, and a secret, June begins again. She snags a job at a café and finds lodging at a quaint inn with a quirky cast of housemates. The only problem: the inn’s infuriatingly perceptive (and sexy) owner, Lennox. He’s suspicious of June. After all, no one comes to Scotland in the winter unless they’re running from something. From rocky start to sizzling temptation, June’s new world is exhilarating…and one detour away from disaster.

With her past and her future both vying for attention, June can’t begin to picture where her reimagined life is headed next. And falling in love with the last person she expected is only the beginning.

Thoughts

Here are all the reasons I would have DNFd this book at 20% if it hadn’t been a review copy. Note: lots of swearing follows.

1. I hated all the characters, except Hamish. June is 20 or 21 and this is billed as an adult novel, but BOY does she act like a child. She’s petty and stubborn and reactive and judgmental. I really really did not like her from early on, and honestly I didn’t care for her by the end, either. Lennox doesn’t really have a personality, either. The side character who is a writer conveniently spells out all the events of the book in a sort of meta way, and I found that really dull. The best friend, Matt? He was SO annoying! He seems like a total prat, and at the big climax all I could feel was a mild spite because he was such a douche in my eyes. What a possessive, entitled asshole. And Angus. Angus will get an entire bullet point of his own later on here. 😐

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Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Morning Sun in Wuhan by Ying Chang Compestine (11/8/22)

Morning Sun in Wuhan by Ying Chang Compestine
Expected Release Date: November 8, 2022

Recommended: yup!
For a feel-good story set during the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, for a look at what it was like for folks in Wuhan where it originated, for absolutely delicious food (complete with recipes!!)

Summary

Weaving in the tastes and sounds of the historic city, Wuhan’s comforting and distinctive cuisine comes to life as the reader follows 13-year-old Mei who, through her love for cooking, makes a difference in her community. Written by an award-winning author originally from Wuhan.

Grieving the death of her mother and an outcast at school, thirteen-year-old Mei finds solace in cooking and computer games. When her friend’s grandmother falls ill, Mei seeks out her father, a doctor, for help, and discovers the hospital is overcrowded. As the virus spreads, Mei finds herself alone in a locked-down city trying to find a way to help.

Author Ying Chang Compestine draws on her own experiences growing up in Wuhan to illustrate that the darkest times can bring out the best in people, friendship can give one courage in frightening times, and most importantly, young people can make an impact on the world. Readers can follow Mei’s tantalizing recipes and cook them at home. 

Thoughts

I’ve been reading book about Covid-19 since Covid-19 was still locking everyone at home. For me, it’s cathartic in a way to read about so many other people’s experiences of this one global experience. It’s a connection to basically everyone in the world, which I find quite incredible, though of course it’s not the connection I’d have asked for. Point being, while the topic can be difficult because of the recent and ongoing pain around it, I do still love reading about it, and this book is a prime example of why.

Mei is my tiny hero. I aspire to be more like Mei. Though this is a book about Covid-19 and it’s onset, it’s also a book about perseverance and generosity and just being a really decent person. Mei not only steps up to help those around her, but she encourages others to do so as well. Standing up to anyone can be tough, but especially tough when you’re a young teenage girl and you’re standing up to a scared mob of large adult men. What a powerful moment that was, among so many others.

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ARC Review: How to Heal a Gryphon by Meg Cannistra (10/04/2022)

How to Heal a Gryphon by Meg Cannistra
Expected Release Date: October 4, 2022

Recommended: yes!
As a sweet magical middle grade read for anyone, for kids who love animals, for witchy Italian lore

Summary

With her thirteenth birthday just around the corner, Giada Bellantuono has to make a big decision: Will she join the family business and become a healer or follow her dreams? But even though she knows her calling is to heal vulnerable animals, using her powers to treat magical creatures is decidedly not allowed.

When a group of witches kidnaps her beloved older brother, Rocco, and her parents are away, Giada is the only person left who can rescue him. Swept into the magical underground city of Malavita, Giada will need the help of her new companions to save her brother—or risk losing him forever.

Thoughts

I adore our main character, Giada. She’s so unabashedly herself, and has such a strong sense of who she is! I think that’s something a lot of kids have, then lose, and many adults take a long time to get back there (or maybe never totally do). Giada holds tight to it, and isn’t afraid to call out people (even adults!) when they are being rude (which at least one adult ABSOLUTELY was). She doesn’t let people shame her about enjoying sweets and food, and she devises her own brilliant salve for thigh chafing which lets be honest, who wouldn’t benefit from that?

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Posted in Book Talk

Top Ten Tuesday: Places in Books I Wanna Go!!!

Hey y’all! Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish question idea that was originally created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, from way back in June 2010! Since January 2018, Top Ten Tuesday has been hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Thanks for taking it over! The idea is to make a list of ten books or bookish things on different topics each week. Check out her site for details on how to join and what the upcoming prompts are. 😊 You can also see all the posts from other bloggers linked on each weekly post on their main site.

This week’s prompt is place I want to go that I’ve read about in books, whether real or fake. This is insanely easy for me both because I love to travel physically, and because I read a TON of books set in places I’ve never been around the world. That’s a specific draw for me. 🙂

I did have a weird moment of realization during this though. Since fictional places are also included in today’s list options, I got to thinking how there didn’t seem to be any fictional place I’d ever want to visit because in books they’re always so violent and dangerous and a million things could kill me. This was followed by me thinking how someone from one of those places would view Earth and/or the United States. And I was shocked when I realized, oh… they might feel the same. 😅 War and human rights issues constantly, a car might run you over, some places on Earth have now become literally too hot for humans to live anymore… there are definitely some issues here, even if they aren’t literal dragons. I mean, heck, we even had a recent plague!

Side note: reading about real current events in a dramatized, fictionalized way would be cool. I’d read that news site.

Anyway. The list.

The Books

Approximately arranged by how far away they are from me currently.

The Places

The Cat I Never Named: Bihac, Bosnia

Because this book was incredible and more than enough to make me fall in love with Bosnia and want to see where they’re at now, knowing the history.

Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday: Places in Books I Wanna Go!!!”