Fiction · Romance

The Bride Test

39338454

Title: The Bride Test

Author: Helen Hoang

Page Count: 320

Series: The Kiss Quotient, Book 2

Publishing Date/Publisher: May 7, 2019 by Berkley

Format: eBook

Review: The Kiss Quotient set an impossibly high bar as one of my all-time favorite romance novels.  I was ecstatic when I found out that Helen Hoang would be publishing another love story following a periphery character from her stunning debut.

The story, which follows Michael’s cousin Khai and the delightfully independent Esme, is undeniably sweet, but somehow lacked the same swoon-worthy quality that made the The Kiss Quotient so unforgettable.  It’s hard to say exactly what it lacks, but it just doesn’t have “it”.  The characters were likeable, and the plot was cutesy, but it felt to me like it was just running in a very predictable circle.

I appreciate that this romance is focused on somebody with autism, and if you read the first book, it was nice to see that Khai’s autism isn’t portrayed exactly the same as Stella’s.  There is so much diversity on the spectrum, and it is refreshing to see this represented.

I hope this book is going to be part of a trilogy, and I suspect that if it is, the third book will focus on Khai’s brother, Quan.  He is also a very likable character, and it would be great to follow his story next.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star

Fiction · Young Adult

On the Come Up

35887567

Title: On the Come Up

Author: Angie Thomas

Page Count: 464

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: February 5, 2019 by Balzer + Bray

Format: Hardcover

Review: This is an exceptionally well-written coming-of-age story about staying true to yourself and following your dreams.  What I really loved about it is that Thomas was able to touch upon a lot of hot topics without this book feeling like it was issue fiction.  A Blade So Black touched upon a lot of the same issues, but as I noted in my review, I did not like that the controversial topics were laid out in a very one dimensional fashion.  Angie Thomas managed to avoid this pitfall by exploring the issues from many different angles.  I think this is a very socially responsible approach, and gives the story more power with a wider audience.  I, for example, grew up with very different challenges than the main character, Bri, and though I do not agree with all of her choices and opinions, I can completely understand how her life experiences have shaped her perspective on and reaction to the events that take place in the story.  I think this speaks volumes about Thomas’ skill as a writer, and it makes me very excited about whatever projects she may have coming up in the (hopefully) near future.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Romance · Young Adult

We’ll Always Have Summer

8680278

Title: We’ll Always Have Summer

Author: Jenny Han

Performer: Jessica Almasy

Length: 6 hr, 45 min

Series: Summer, Book 3

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2011 by Recorded Books

Format: eAudiobook

Review: I wasn’t particularly surprised by the ending of this book, but the author really does make you wait until the epilogue to know which brother Belly ends up with.  I felt Belly’s anguish was very relatable throughout the final book, and it is a relief to know that she ends up happy despite it all.

My feelings regarding Conrad and Jeremiah are mixed.  Both characters are deeply flawed, and it was difficult for me to determine Conrad’s motivators in particular.  His love for Belly did not feel very authentic to me, even after I was given insight into his feelings.

To be perfectly honest, I was not as invested in this book as I was in the two that precede it.  I had a very strong suspicion about how it would all play out, and I was pretty much on the mark.  I’m glad that I finished the trilogy though and I would very much consider reading other books written by this author.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star

Historical · Non-fiction

DOUBLE REVIEW: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

38359036

Title: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Author: Heather Morris

Page Count: 262

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: September 4th 2018 by Harper (first published January 27th 2018)

Format: Paperback

Review: I loved this book. It’s heartbreaking and awe-inspiring and wonderfully written. It’s a quick read, which is good because you don’t want to get stuck in that mindset for too long, since it’s about Auschwitz.

Lale’s story is one of immense hardship and Heather Morris tells it very well. It also makes you wonder what you would do if put in his position. He was a remarkable man, and I really enjoyed reading about him.

Lale, as the title suggests, was a tattooist at the concentration camp. His job was to etch numbers on the arms of the new prisoners, and what first grabbed me about him was how he tried to be gentle with Gita’s when she came into his line. He did not know her but he felt the need to make this process as easy as possible, to the point where he almost got in serious trouble for going so slowly. Sometimes it’s the small things that endear someone to you so much.

Reader: Kymberly

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

 

Review: This is an incredibly moving book, and it is no wonder that it is a best seller (it had over 80 holds in my library system at one point!).  This book is a very quick read, so I recommend reading it in one sitting if you can.

As you can imagine, the content of this book is incredibly sad.  My stomach was churning literally the whole time I was reading it.  It is through a series of miracles, both large and small, that the main characters, Lale and Gita, survive.  Honestly I don’t know if I could have made it through the book without knowing that in advance.

This is one of the rare cases that instant love between two people in a story does not make me roll my eyes.  It is literally love at first sight for these two, and though they know very little about each other, it is a love so pure it makes your heart ache.

There is one particular scene in this book that stands out to me and I think it really encapsulates the heart of this story.  Lale comes across a single flower while walking to his barracks one day, and the mere sight of it gives him pause.  It is such a rare sight to see something so delicate and beautiful that he can’t help but stop and marvel at it.  In my mind, this flower is symbolic of the love between Lale and Gita.  It is the one beautiful thing blossoming in a landscape of unimaginable horrors.

After reading this book it is hard not to believe in the concept of soul mates.  It is unlikely that these two would have met under any other circumstances, and it is even more unlikely that they would have both been able to survive the atrocities committed against them.  Yet they did meet, they did fall in love, and they did survive.   This was a story that needed to be told, and I am so glad it has reached such a wide audience.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

It’s Not Summer Without You

6584188

Title: It’s Not Summer Without You

Author: Jenny Han

Performer: Jessica Almasy

Length: 6 hr, 45 min

Series: Summer, Book 2

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2011 by Recorded Books

Format: eAudiobook

Review: I was not quite as enamored with this book as I was with the first one, but it was still a great read.  Han captures the feelings of grief, angst, heartbreak, regret, and guilt so so well.  As with many trilogies, the second book hits the peak of conflict, so there really is no resolution at the end.  I imagine the feelings of resolution will come in the third and final book, and I am really hoping that Belly chooses the brother that I feel is better suited for her.

I certainly experienced some feelings of frustration while reading this book.  The characters are so young and impulsive that sometimes I just wanted to shake the selfishness right out of them.  I think though that Han’s depiction of how the characters react to tragedy is realistic.  It is hard to know exactly how you will cope with something until it happens to you, and sometimes in our hurt we push away the people that matter most and make rash decisions.

That said, I am really looking forward to the final book!

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star

Fiction · Science Fiction

The Lightest Object in the Universe

40591948

Title: The Lightest Object in the Universe

Author: Kimi Eisele

Page Count: 336

Series: Unknown

Publishing Date/Publisher: July 9, 2019 by Algonquin Books

Format: eBook

Review: For people who enjoy realistic dystopian fiction, this would be a great book recommendation.  There is nothing unique about this book that sets it apart from other books I have read in this genre, but I did find the setting and backstory to be very plausible.  I also thought it was very romantic to have one character trekking across the United States to be reunited with his faraway love.

There was nothing particularly surprising about this story (no plot twists); however, it kept a steady pace and was a pretty quick read.  I had a little bit of trouble at times following the plot because the formatting was off in my ARC copy (it would switch POV without warning), but I assume this will be fixed when the book goes through its final edits.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

The Summer I Turned Pretty

5821978

Title: The Summer I Turned Pretty

Author: Jenny Han

Performer: Jessica Almasy

Length: 7 hr

Series: Summer, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2011 by Prince Frederick, MD : Recorded Books

Format: eAudiobook

Review: There is a lot of hype right now surrounding Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series due to the delightful Netflix movie adaptation that was released last year (if you haven’t seen it already, go watch it immediately!).  I will probably get to that book series eventually, but her Summer trilogy has been on my “To Read” list for years, so I finally decided to check it out.

Jenny Han’s writing has a way of transporting me back in time.  I literally felt 15 years old again as I was listening.  The angst and anguish of first love and the end of childhood innocence was conveyed so incredibly well.  It made me wish desperately that I had had a summer home in my youth.  Seriously who doesn’t long for carefree days filled with waves and sun and ice cream!  As someone who had many unrequited crushes in my youth, I could also completely sympathize with Belly’s longing to be noticed by the object of her affection.

Although this book is part of a trilogy, I almost wish it was a standalone.  The ending of the book was very sweet, but I could sense that there was going to be a lot of heartache in the next book (which I of course checked out immediately upon finishing this one).  Just like Belly, I did not want the summer to end!

They selected a great reader for this series.  Her voice sounds age appropriate, and she infuses the story with a lot of emotion with the inflection and tone of her voice.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold