Book Recommendations, Book Reviews

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang – Book Review

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I am not exaggerating when I say that this is the most beautiful book I have ever read.

This is a graphic novel set in the late 19th century France. It follows the lives of Prince Sebastian and a seamstress named Frances. The two of them strike up a friendship when Sebastian hires Frances to make him beautiful dresses that he wears when he becomes Lady Crystallia.

The story is fantastic. Sebastian and Frances come from two very different backgrounds, but they work so well together. They can be who they are with each other without any fear of judgement. And as their friendship grows, my love bloomed. I loved every single moment of this story, even the sad ones.

Sebastian stole my heart just as much as Lady Crystallia did. I was rooting for Frances every step of the way as well. I had the biggest smile of my face throughout the entirety of this. I laughed a few times, and I hugged my book at others.

The artwork was phenomenal. It was so bright and colorful and it accurately portrayed the giddiness I felt because of the story.

This story is described as a fairy tale, and I think that describes it perfectly. And I’ve never loved a fairy tale this much. This is a story I want to remember forever. A story I want to share with everyone. A story I didn’t know I needed this much, but now that I know it, I feel so grateful for it.

And that ending? Couldn’t have been better.

I realize I’m just gushing over how great this book is, but I don’t know how to talk about it in any other way. Just read it.

5 stars

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Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

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“Is it weird that this roomful of straight men is fighting over Reid and not me?”

My Favorite-Half Night Stand by Christina Lauren is a funny romance book that follows Millie and Reid as they navigate their new friends with benefits relationship while trying online dating for the first time.

Isis has read and reviewed a couple Cristina Lauren books before, but I never had a real interest before. Romance is typically not a genre I reach for. But for the month of February my book club wanted a romance and My Favorite-Half Night Stand was the winner of the poll we always hold. And I have to say, it was a lot of fun.

I think my favorite aspect of the book wasn’t even the romance, which I have to admit, was very cute. But the whole friend group Millie and Reid had was so funny and supportive. I even was wishing Christina Lauren would write companion novels of Alex, Chris, and Ed (my fav) each receiving their own romance. Not gonna happen, but it would have been great I tell you.

All the characters were really fleshed out and I personally loved Millie’s character arc. There’s family involvement too which I always love. There might be a bit of a stretch since they are five  good looking, successful, single teachers who get tenure (at least that’s what the women at my book club commented on),  but for me that was easy to ignore. I have seen other reviews complain about how the characters who dumb to online dating as well, but since I’ve never online dated, that also never bothered me.

Overall, it was a fun, fast read. I think in the future when I get into a slump or simply want a lighter read, I would pick up another book by Christina Lauren. 

4 stars

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

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People are motivated to break their moral compasses for a variety of primal reasons: survival, hate, love, envy, passion. And money.

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen is an adult thriller revolving around a study about ethics that then proceeds to change the life of one subject in particular forever. Not everything is as it seems, and the story truly starts to fuck with your head as it continues to unfold. 

One perspective is Jess, a poor makeup artist that wants to help her family. The other perspective is Dr. Shields, the mysterious psychologist providing the study that Jess signs up for.  Both are interesting, complex characters that I always wondered what their next move would be. 

Trigger Warnings: Sexual Assault, Suicide

I loved how unsettling this was. It kept me up late in the night guessing about what would happen next. Some of the twists were unexpected, and I love how everything was wrapped up.

This is apparently this duos second thriller, and I know I must get my hands on the first, The Wife Between Us, as soon as possible. 

5 stars

 

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is a Young Adult contemporary that had taken the world by storm since it’s debut in 2017. It has been nominated several times for awards, and won a lot of them. It’s become a movie, and is being taught in schools. Multiple people have tried to get it banned, and it’s been on my radar since the book deal was announced. It took me this long to read it for no good reason other than I knew it was going to be sad and good and put it off for a long time. But finally I’ve read it and I’m so glad I have. 

The Hate U Give follows Starr, a sixteen year old girl who lives in the ghetto but goes to a mostly white prep school. One day she witnesses her friend gets murdered by the police, and the story follows the fall out from that. Throughout the novel, Starr struggles to find out her place in the world and to find her voice even when situations are scary.

It’s a beautifully written book. All of the characters are well rounded, and the world is fleshed out so that Garden Heights feels just like the real world. The family dynamics are great, and the issues the book tackles are so important and well talked about. 

This book is wonderful on its own, but what makes it so special is the discussions that can be had when reading it with other people. I read this with my aunt, who has sided with the police in the past, and we had the calmest discussion about racism and police brutality, which honestly shocked me. She said it really opened her eyes, and I love this book for that.

All in all, this is not over-hyped.  It’s a must read for everyone, and I’m so glad that schools are teaching it. 

5 stars

Book Recommendations, Book Tag, Lists, Uncategorized

Our Favorite Books of 2018

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Usually I would have had this up on the last day of December but I’ve been sick so it’s a little behind. But here are our favorite books that we have read in the past year!

 

Isis:

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Autoboyography by Christina Lauren 

This books started me off on a really positive note for the year. I read it while I was struggling with my mental health and it helped me get out of the hole where I felt I was buried. It’s such a good book about sexuality and religion and how the two can coexist. 

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The Long Walk by Stephen King 

When I finished this book I wanted to cry. I didn’t know what to do because I instantly missed it. This book made me so upset but also so happy. I loved so many of the characters and I felt so attached to their lives and their stories. I’ll never forget this book. 

 

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Turtles All The Way Down by John Green 

I related so much with the characters in this book. This is one of my favorite John Green books. I loved the representation of a character with anxiety and OCD. It was quite a ride. 

 

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Restore Me (Shatter Me #4) by Tahereh Mafi

I was really happy with the continuation of the Shatter Me series. It wasn’t perfect at all, but I got to read it alongside my friends and discuss it and that made it so much better. Also, any book with Warner is an awesome book. 

 

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The Hating Game by Sally Thorne 

This is one of the best rom-com books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. It made me love the enemies to lovers scenario and it’s something I still can’t move on from. I loved the characters and the way they fell in love in the most unconventional ways. 

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Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram 

This book was so touching and so heart-warming. I loved the representation of depression and Iranian and Persian culture. It was such a sweet book overall. I wanted to keep reading it even after it was over. 

 

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A Sucky Love Story: Overcoming Unhappily Ever After by Brittani Louise Taylor

 This was a really great book. It was insane from start to finish but I couldn’t get enough of it. Brittani’s love story is quite sucky, but she did overcome some of the worst things a person could go through. 

 

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Riding With Brighton by Haven Francis 

I loved this coming of age story. It’s also a coming out story. The characters were lovely and so was the romance. It was one of those feel good stories that I know will always be there when I need a pick me up. 

 

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Fence Vol. 1 by C.S. Pacat 

This was an amazing start of this series. It totally blew me away. I loved the setting, the characters, and their stories. I can sense a very nice romantic build up between the main characters and it’s awesome. I can’t wait to continue with the series. 

 

Nicole:

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The Assassin’s Curse duology by Cassandra Rose Clark

These two belong together since really they should have been one book. These were my first two reads last year, and I love them so much. The pirates and the magic are everything I love about fantasy. And it has one of my favorite romances of all time.

 

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The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani Dasgupta 

This is the perfect start to a new middle grade fantasy series. It was so fast and funny and simply had everything that I love in a book with the added greatness of Indian rep that I hadn’t seen before.

 

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The Clocktaur War duology by T. Kingfisher

Again I have to put these two together since they should have been one book. This series made me laugh, made me cry, and made me stay up way too late in suspense. It’s one of those books I wish I could erase just so I can read it again for the first time. The lovely characters are some of my favorites of all time, and the romance was so sweet and realistic.

 

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The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

I did not expect much when I first picked up this book. So to have it as one of my favorites of the year is amazing to me. But this is such a hidden gem of a book about being true to yourself and your friends. With the best romance. I almost wrote fanfiction about this book when I finished it simply because I was not ready to leave the characters just yet.

 

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Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

My absolute favorite book of the year also happens to have the best cover. Witches, zombies, female friendship, and fat rep? There was nothing that could make me dislike this book, but Anderson knocked it out of the park. Everyone needs to read this book.

Book Recommendations, Uncategorized

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

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There’s a little witch in all of us.

I first knew Practical Magic as a movie first even though I’ve never watched it. Then I saw this on a list of witch books, and knew I needed to read it this Halloween season (yes this was supposed to be up five days ago don’t judge). For those who don’t know, Practical Magic is a magical realism romance book that follows two generations of women.

Sally and Gillion are sisters who are sent to live with their aunts after their parents died. Their aunts are the neighborhood witches that the neighborhood is afraid of. It follows their growth into adults then Sally’s children when they are teenagers.

The writing is simply beautiful. So often I felt like nothing was going on, but I remember thinking that I didn’t even care because of the way Hoffman wrote.

The pacing still is a problem for me, and what makes it not a five star read. When it picked up I was so relieved, and then suddenly, it ended and I was sad cause I wanted more.

The characters were so fleshed out except for the aunts. I didn’t understand why there was a prequel all about them until the end when they are finally given screen time. That’s when I understood that that was the first time The girls saw the aunts for who they are, and that I really needed to read the prequel. 

I still haven’t seen the movie, but I’m so glad I choose to read this book. It has the perfect atmosphere for Halloween without being spooky for those who get scared easily. It satisfied my craving for witches as well.

4 stars 

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

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My mother dips her fingers in a bowl of white clay. She covers my face with it, blows on it to help it dry quickly. Her breath is sweet like rose punch. Then comes the coal. She traces the black of bone around my eyes, down my nose, my lips, my cheeks. We wear the face of the dead so the waking spirits feel at home.

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova is the first book in a young adult fantasy trilogy. It follows Alejandra a sixteen year old bruja who has been hiding that she has come into her powers for years. I think that’s all that’s needed going into the story. I knew a lot more and so I knew what was happening for the first fifty or more pages, and it slowed the story down a lot. 

This is an own voices book regarding the Latinx representation. There is also the bisexual love triangle. Rishi is Indian. Diversity like this always elevates a book in my opinion. It makes it feel more real.

The world that Córdova creates is rich and complex. I particularly liked the excerpts from books in their world at the beginning of every chapter. The magic was fun, the belief system felt so real, and I loved exploring Los Lagos with the characters.

The characters themselves were great as well. I loved watching Alejandra grow into herself. I loved her love for her family. Rishi, her best friend, was a fun addition. I always loved her dialogue. Nova, her guide that she’s not sure she trusts, was perhaps the most fleshed out of the main characters. The love triangle between the three wasn’t the most compelling of all time, but it didn’t subtract from the story at all.

Some parts felt a little rushed. Particularly the action and some of the emotional bits. The guilt of Alejandra and the growth of how she felt about her magic felt very repeated, especially at the end. If they would have balanced that out a little more then I think this would have been a complete five star read for me. 

4 stars