Contemporary · Fiction · Romance

The Heart Principle

Title: The Heart Principle

Author: Helen Hoang

Page Count: 320

Series: The Kiss Quotient, Book 3

Publishing Date/Publisher: August 31, 2021 by Berkley

Format: eBook

Review: Hoang captured my heart with The Kiss Quotient, and though I didn’t enjoy The Bride Test nearly as much, I was still eager to read The Heart Principle when I saw it offered on NetGalley. The Heart Principle is written in a different style than it’s predecessors, and the result is a deeply felt and raw portrayal of love, loss, and learning self-acceptance. The main character, Anna, struggles with hiding her social difficulties and exerts great effort to mold herself into the person her family and boyfriend expects. At the end of each interaction she is left mentally and emotionally drained, hardly able to take care of herself. She is completely blindsided when her boyfriend proposes an “open” relationship, and as she grapples with this new reality, she meets Quan, the “bad boy” with a heart of gold. Both Anna and Quan are wearing masks to hide their inner struggles, but once together, they find a safe space to be authentic within their burgeoning relationship.

This really was a beautiful story, though much sadder in tone than the other two books in the series. The author’s note at the end is worth reading and explains why she chose to make this book different.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
half star

Contemporary · Fantasy · Fiction

The Midnight Library

Title: The Midnight Library

Author: Matt Haig

Performer: Carey Mulligan

Length: 8 hr, 50 min

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: September 29, 2020 by Penguin Audio

Format: eAudiobook

Review: This book had good pacing and although predictable, had a great message. Life is full of choices, and it is easy to get bogged down with regrets. Perhaps we could have had a “better” life if we made different choices, but ultimately this may have resulted in unexpected outcomes. Outcomes that would not necessarily be good. Keeping this in mind, I think this book gives the reader a healthy dose of perspective. We all occasionally have “what if” thoughts, and sometimes we need to reframe our way of thinking to see things in a more positive light. In some respects, this almost felt like a self-help book and it serves as a gentle reminder that we can all be kinder to ourselves.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
half star
Contemporary · Fiction · Romance

His Only Wife

Title: His Only Wife

Author: Peace Adzo Medie

Performer: Soneela Nankani

Length: 9 hr, 3 min

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: September 1, 2020 by Workman Publishing

Format: eAudiobook

Review: This book very comfortably fits the vibe of a chick lit drama. I wouldn’t say there is a lot of depth to the story, but I did really enjoy the character arc of the main protagonist, Afi. I wouldn’t really categorize it as a “coming-of-age” story, however, Afi grows and changes a lot as a person as she gains exposure to more modern ideas of womanhood. I’m categorizing this as a contemporary romance for reference purposes, but this label doesn’t quite fit either. Yes, indeed there is a romance, but it is sandwiched between two distinct time periods of uncertainty. It’s less about the romance and more about how the mysteriousness of this man, Eli, drives the plot of the story. When Afi marries him, he is not even present at the wedding, and he doesn’t enter the scene until much later in the story. Yet even with his marked absence, Afi is expected by her family and in-laws to play the role of dutiful wife. She eventually finds her voice (the time alone gives her LOTS of time for introspection), and the end result is rather satisfying. I felt a strong sense of liberation on her behalf when all was said and done. Overall, a very interesting glimpse into the traditions and culture shaping modern-day Ghana.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
half star

Contemporary · Fantasy · Fiction · Horror · Mystery · Paranormal

Ninth House

Title: Ninth House

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Performers: Lauren Fortgang and Michael David Axtell

Length: 16 hr, 29 min

Series: Alex Stern, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: October 8, 2019 by Macmillan Audio

Format: eAudiobook

Review: Grishaverse fans beware…this is a complete departure from Bardugo’s previous work. Luckily for me, I am also a fan of the paranormal/urban fantasy genre, so there is some crossover appeal for me. This book was a little too gritty for my personal tastes, but the character development really impressed me. Alex’s character in particular is incredibly complex and multi-layered. People who enjoy stories about secret societies are especially in for a treat because Bardugo really has a knack for the intricacies of incorporating the paranormal into realistic settings. She makes it completely believable that this type of world could exist within the shadow of our own.

The dynamic between Alex and Darlington was a bit confusing to me, so I am really hoping for more page time with them in future books. I liked the readers chosen for both of their characters, so I will probably try to continue forward with the series in audiobook format.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
Contemporary · Fiction · Horror · Mystery · Young Adult

The Project

Title: The Project

Author: Courtney Summers

Page Count: 352

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: February 2, 2021 by Wednesday Books

Format: eBook

Review: Looking for a cliché and utterly predictable book about cults? Look no further, because this is your next read. Don’t get me wrong, the author is not a bad writer, but if you have seen any movies/tv series/documentaries or read any books with cults as a theme, then you know exactly how this story is going to play out. I wish I could say there was even one plot twist that caught me off guard, but I can’t. I have heard really good things about the author’s book Sadie, so this was a bit of a disappointment for me.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
Fiction · LGBTQ+ · Romance

Written in the Stars

Written in the Stars

Title: Written in the Stars

Author: Alexandria Bellefleur

Page Count: 384

Series: Written in the Stars

Publishing Date/Publisher: November 10, 2020/Avon

Format: eBook

Review: I loved this book- it was just so much fun and the characters were well flushed out with realistic arcs. The book is somewhat Pride and Prejudice but it takes a life of its own with pop culture references and fake dating (best romance trope, let’s be honest. Tied with ‘oh no, there’s only one bed’). And the fact that they did not have a ‘meet cute’ whatsoever. It was a disaster, and I loved every second of it.

It was so, so easy to fall in love with the characters, with Elle and Darcy both being so well-rounded and flawed but perfect. I also greatly appreciated the fact that there was both no homophobia in it, so it felt like a very safe place to just get lost in.

I absolutely cannot wait for the follow up Hang the Moon, starring Darcy’s adorable brother and best friend. Seriously. I need that book.

Reader: Kymberly

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fantasy · Fiction · Thriller

Dracula

Dracula [Audible Edition] Audiobook By Bram Stoker cover art

Title: Dracula

Author: Bram Stoker

Performer: Alan Cumming, Tim Curry, plus cast

Length: 15hrs 28 mins

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: February 20th, 2012/Audible Studios

Format: Audiobook

Review: This was a fun listen and the cast brought the characters to life (with the exception of Lucy’s, which was just very annoying, to be honest). The classic was enhanced by an all-star cast and unique storytelling method Stoker used was perfect for an audiobook.

Dracula is a classic for a reason, but I wasn’t completely blown away by it. I think that might be because I’ve watched too many film and tv adaptations that the original just felt a bit ‘been there, done that’. I still recommend it for a fun way to escape for a bit, or to have on in the background while working or cooking.

Reader: Kymberly

Rating:

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fantasy

The Priory of the Orange Tree

Title: The Priory of the Orange Tree

Author: Samantha Shannon

Page Count: 830

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2019/ Bloomsbury Publishing

Format: Paperback

Review: Going to start this one off with just ‘wow’. I love fantasy but sometimes high fantasy can be dull and take ages to get anywhere (both in reference to the plot but also they always have to walk everywhere, which annoys me- buy/steal a horse) but this one starts off strong and that carries throughout the whole 800+ pages. Even following the one character I wasn’t super invested in, it was fast and interesting.

The writing was superb, the plot was so engaging, the characters were so well thought out and developed, the magic system was unique, and the relationships? Chef kiss. And dragons. Come on. I would give this book seven stars out of five if I could. Ten maybe. I just really loved it, plain and simple. It was one where I wanted to stay within its pages and world for as long as possible, and since it’s a mammoth book, that was pretty easy.

BRB, I’ve just convinced myself to go re-read it while writing this.

Reader: Kymberly

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fiction · Historical

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Page Count: 401

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: June 13, 2017/Atria Books

Format: eBook

Review: 

This book completely broke me. I was crying at two in the morning while I finished the book, it was just so good and beautiful and well written.

It addresses some very important issues: racial prejudice, domestic abuse, homophobia, and what it was like to be an LGBTQ+ person in a historical setting. And from my own perspective, I think it was handled very well.

I typically don’t like books with multiple first person POVs, I think it gets complicated and messy and rarely works well (multiple third person POVs are great, though), however I think this worked really well in The Seven Husbands because it is as if we are reading Monique’s book in the chapters that we are in Evelyn’s perspective, or even just listening to her through the tapes or sitting down to the interview and hearing her story.

It was compelling, heartbreaking, and profound. So when I say ‘it broke me’, I mean that in the best possible way. I highly recommend it, but be sure to have some tissues handy.

Reader: Kymberly

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Contemporary · Fiction

If I Had Your Face

Title: If I Had Your Face

Author: Frances Cha

Performers: Frances Cha, Sue Jean Kim, Ruthie Ann Miles, & Jeena Yi

Length: 8 hr, 10 min

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: April 21, 2020 by Random House Audio

Format: eAudiobook

Review: This fascinating glimpse into Korean beauty culture immediately had me searching the internet for more information. It seems unbelievable that it would be commonplace for women, and men, to go to such drastic lengths to achieve beauty, but sadly it seems that it is true. I know very little about K-pop aside from it’s growing popularity among American youth, and it is frightening to see the dark side of this industry and how it influences the rest of Korean society.

Looking back on the length of this audiobook, it is stunning that the author was able to offer glimpses of so many different issues in such a short space of time. She tackles prostitution, high suicide rates, unemployment, and poverty – just to name a few. It is amazing that somehow all these topics seemed to circle back to beauty and the commodification of it. The characters seem to have this idea throughout the book that beautiful people get ahead in life, when in reality, beautiful people are just as susceptible, if not more so, to abuse.

In general, I thought the author did a really good job fleshing out the main characters with backstory, however, in retrospect, highlighting the lives of four characters was a bit ambitious. All the characters lives intersect in some way, but the character of Wonna seems largely disconnected from the rest. I can only assume she was included to show how the cultural expectations placed on women affect the average working class wife. All of the other characters are younger, unmarried, and childless. They have little to no interaction with Wonna at all until the very end. I did enjoy her story, but her vignettes didn’t seem to really fit smoothly with the rest of the character narratives. Even so, I liked how the author used these windows into the the past to illuminate current issues.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
half star