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

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Book Reviews, Uncategorized

No Exit by Taylor Adams

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Inhale. Count to five. Exhale. Forward motion.

No Exit by Taylor Adams is a thriller that has been re-released this year. I’m not sure why it was repackaged. I know they took out one email that was in the book which I think was a smart move because it gave too much away. Other than that, not sure what reasoning was behind it. I just know it caused a lot of confusion with readers.

But onto what the book is actually about. Darby, an over caffeinated college student, is trying to race against a blizzard to see her dying mother. But when she gets stuck at a rest stop overnight, her entire world changes. Because she sees a child locked in a cage in the back of a stranger’s van.

Trigger Warnings: Child Kidnapping, Violence, Racist Comments, Sex Trafficking

The story is fast paced and full of twists. I won’t lie, the first fifty or so pages I was iffy about this novel. But the second that first twist was revealed, I was hooked, and I could not stop reading that night until I finished.

I was riveted the whole time trying to figure out what Darby was going to do, and what the outcome would end up being. She was such a great, smart character. And the villains were equally unpredictable and smart.  It was like watching a game of chess unfold when you don’t know the rules of chess.

There was a lot of incidences that kept me from being into the story completely. A lot of inconsistencies and situations that were stretched on a little too long. I can’t say exactly what because it would ruin some the story lines, but they are the  reasons why this isn’t a full five stars (or flowers).

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 Reviews

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren – Book Review

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“I learned a very important thing that day: my mom would never try to change for a man, and I wouldn’t, either.”


Hazel is an eccentric woman who has no filter, and usually gets into pretty interesting and messy situations. Hazel was a lot of fun. I learned to love her right away, and I was always rooting for her happiness. Years after college, Hazel runs into Josh, a guy she used to like but knew would never date. They quickly strike up a quirky friendship and set each other up on terrible dates. It’s pretty obvious where this is going, but I didn’t find it predictable. It was a really enjoyable read.

I loved Hazel’s relationship with her mom. She was such a cool person, and it was clear how much she had influenced Hazel’s confidence. I loved Hazel’s relationship with Emily and David as well. There was so much love in this book. I liked how Emily and Josh jokingly fought to be Hazel’s best friend. It was adorable, especially because of how much Hazel enjoyed it. I thought Josh was great, too. He was so sweet, and I wanted nothing but good things for him.

The romance was nice, but it didn’t sweep me off my feet. There were never any moments where I felt giddy or thrilled. I was just content throughout the whole thing. The book was great, but it wasn’t anything special. I love Christina Lauren’s writing style. These women are incredibly talented, and they work well together. I still hold Autoboyography to sort of a gold standard. However, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating was really lovely. Pick it up if you’re into friends to lovers romances!

3,5 stars

Personal

I’m In Love…with Fanfiction

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I stumbled into fanfiction when I was around 15. It was kind of an accident. Twilight was the most popular thing at the time, and of course I was obsessed with it. One thing led to another, and I started writing a fifth Twilight novel — starring me and all of my friends. I thought I was so clever. I thought I was the only person who could ever have come up with something so ingenious. For a while, I was convinced that my book would be published and the world would get even more Twilight goodness from me.

Of course, it didn’t take long for me to find the wonderful site fanfiction.net. There, I discovered hundreds, if not thousands, of stories continuing with the Twilight story that I loved so much. I started a few of them, and I was shocked by how good they were. Immediately, I was bummed out about how insignificant my story was compared to them. But I kept writing. I finished my Twilight fanfiction, entitled Sunlight (see how clever I was?) and it ended up being over 500 pages of pure nonsense.

It didn’t take long for me to grow out of that. Twilight was old news, and I had just discovered what was to become my brand new obsession: Supernatural. Now, I know this show isn’t very popular. Sure, it has a big fandom, but odds are, you’ve probably never seen a single episode of the show. It’s perfectly understandable. The show is on it’s 14th season, with plans for a 15th. No one has time for that. I actually gave up on the show around its 8th season. However, my love for Dean and Castiel knows no bounds.

Supernatural came into my life at a very crucial time. I was fresh out of high school, starting college with a very open-mind. I had just stumbled into many LGBT+ books that had me obsessed with learning about the topic. I thought of myself as the biggest ally. And when I read my first Dean and Castiel fic, I knew I had found something amazing. I was hooked on the spot, and I never looked back. Dean and Castiel encompassed all that I loved. Dean was often a closeted bi boy, while Castiel often struggled with his religion and sexuality. I connected with those things so much, and I didn’t even know why. (It took me a while to realize how gay I was, but don’t worry, I got there eventually).

It’s been over a decade since I’ve discovered fanfiction. Now, at 25, I wonder if I’ll ever give it up. Chances are I’ll read fanfiction for the rest of my life. Maybe it won’t always be about Dean and Castiel. Maybe it’ll be about some other crappy show with a couple that isn’t queer-baited. Maybe it’ll be about characters from a book. Who knows? For now, though, Dean and Castiel is all I care about. I have written many fics about them. And through them, I have improved my writing skills. There’s still a lot for me to learn, but I owe so much to my fics.

I am currently in the middle of reading a +400k fic. It is all I can think about. In fact, it’s what inspired this post. I had a brief moment today when it all came back to me. And I thought about all the things I love now because of fanfiction. I found the show The Office thanks to an angsty fic, and it is now my favorite show in the world. I found Bob Dylan thanks to another one, and Elvis Presley, and Alt-J, and Dead Man’s Bones. I learned about The Mothman, who is by far my favorite cryptid ever. I learned so much about angels, too. I found countless favorite songs through thoughtful playlists made by the many authors who write fics. So much of who I am as a person was shaped by fanfiction.

The best part is, I know fanfiction will be there for me when I need a pick-me-up. Every time I struggle getting back into reading, I know fanfiction is a good place to start. The stories are there, written so carefully for anyone to read. And they’re all free and easily accessible. Fanfiction is such a positive thing in my life, even when the fics tear my heart apart, like the one I’m currently reading. I love reading them. I love finding a new favorite, and then re-reading it so many times that I can almost memorize it. I love writing them, and getting those lovely comments from readers who are just as excited about the story as I am. I love knowing that my fanfiction has made others just as happy as it has made me.

For someone who struggles with feelings and dating and all things romance, nothing makes me happier than seeing my favorite couple get together. Again, and again, and again. In every scenario imaginable. In every alternate universe. In a coffee shop, or a pet store, or a concert, or a wedding. It doesn’t matter where you put them, they will fall in love, and they will get a happily ever after. And it never gets old.

This is sort of my love letter to fanfiction. I love it. I love getting lost in it. I love the community around it. It’s my happy place.

If you love fanfiction, let me know what kind you like to read!

Book Reviews

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed – Book Review

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The death of my mother was the thing that made me believe the most deeply in my safety. Nothing bad could happen to me, I thought. The worst thing already had.


For years, I feared this book. I was first introduced to Cheryl Strayed in my college Creative Nonfiction class a few years back. I read her essay The Love of My Life and it gutted me. You see, I had that class one month after my mom passed away. Just like Cheryl Strayed, I was 22 when terminal cancer viciously stole my mom away from my life. Reading her essay brought me to tears, but it also opened a gateway for me to express my mixed emotions about losing my mom, who had also been the love of my life, as well as someone who had deeply wounded me at the age of 5 by leaving me with my grandparents while she moved thousands of miles away. Her essay was magnificent. It was raw and it was beautiful and it was exactly what I needed to read.

I feared that if I read this book, in which Cheryl Strayed goes on an incredible journey to try to face her demons after her mother’s death, I would feel lost. I thought that I would feel tremendously inferior to her because I haven’t done anything significant since my mom died. I graduated college, sure, but I’ve mostly just been battling my mental illnesses ever since that fateful day I saw her die. Reading Wild was difficult. It was impossible to read it without comparing her experience to mine. I kept asking myself: Did I do enough for my mom while she was alive? Because I avoided her during her last few months alive. I lived in denial. And Cheryl Strayed stuck around through the most difficult times. I knew deep down that this wasn’t the book’s intention. I shouldn’t be doing this. But it was practically impossible.

So I read, and I cried, and I wanted nothing more than to turn back time so I could be a better daughter for my dying mom. I know I should really talk about the book. This book isn’t just about Cheryl’s mom dying. It’s about Cheryl’s outstanding strength as she hiked over a thousand miles across the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s about her determination through the hardest of times. It’s about the wonderful and terrible people she encountered along the way. It’s about letting go and moving on. That is the beauty of this book. Certain aspects will touch people in different ways. I think there’s something here for everyone. If not a lesson, at least you’ll be entertained by the adventure.

 

What if I forgave myself?


I loved the way it was written, with the small flashbacks to her life before the PCT. I loved how it was all woven so creatively together. I felt like I was right there with her, every step of the way. I’m glad I was able to pick this up, even though it made me relive things I didn’t want to dig up. But I think it was good in the end. It was worth it.

4 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