Contemporary · Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

Born Confused

Title: Born Confused

Author: Tanuja Desai Hidier

Performer: Marguerite Gavin

Length: 14 hr, 47 min

Series: Born Confused, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: 

Format: eAudiobook

Review: This was a very fun, coming-of-age novel. I really enjoyed the author’s writing style. She finds humor in the mundane, and she paints a vivid picture of family and culture. I liked most aspects of the book, but the way the central romance unfolded annoyed me tremendously. It was a very believable premise leading up to the declaration of feelings, but the fall out that would of resulted feels a bit underplayed. Perhaps I have strong feelings about this because I personally don’t care for romance arcs where the relationship with the close friend is thrown to the wayside in favor of a romantic one.

Although it predates the Netflix series Never Have I Ever by a few years, I think that people who enjoyed that show would enjoy this book tremendously. It explores a lot of similar themes such as building a cross-cultural Indian/American identity, marriage, love, sexuality, family, and friendship.

I did not like the casting for this audiobook. The performer had a melodic voice, but she sounded way too old to be believably portraying a teen girl. Also, I am always a little leery of the accuracy of accents when a person is not from that culture.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold

Contemporary · Fantasy · Fiction · Young Adult

The Magic Fish

Title: The Magic Fish

Author: Trung Le Nguyen

Page Count: 256

Series: Unknown

Publishing Date/Publisher: October 13, 2020 by Random House Graphic

Format: eBook

Review: It is rare for me to read a graphic novel, and even more rare for me to review one. In this case, however, I felt a review was entirely necessary because I was so impressed by the creator’s work. Nguyen managed to convey both time and place entirely through the use of color and wardrobe – a feat that allowed him to seamlessly weave together the present, the past, and the fantastical into one cohesive story. Just…wow.

Another thing I rarely do is save quotes from books, but I couldn’t help but screenshot the line, “They’re only stories. They’ll change when they need to.” I don’t know why, but this little epiphany completely blew my mind and changed the way I now look at retellings and adaptions of classic stories. I also think it sums up this graphic novel fairly well. At it’s core, it’s about a family who communicates through stories when they cannot find the words to express something important to one another. I have always believed in the power of stories, and the execution of this message is just played out so beautifully in this format.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold

Contemporary · Fiction · Magical Realism · Paranormal · Romance · Science Fiction · Young Adult

Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything

Title: Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything

Author: Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

Page Count: 432

Series: Unknown

Publishing Date/Publisher: August 20, 2020 by Simon Pulse

Format: eBook

Review: I went into this book without reading the synopsis, so to say that I was blindsided by the science fiction angle would be an understatement. This book has very strong undertones of magical realism for the first half of the book and them BAM!…it hits you with aliens. Admittedly, the concept was clever…aliens abducting illegal aliens. It takes a strong stance on immigration issues, and is a clear reprimand for how immigrants are treated by the United States government.

Although I found this to be an enjoyable read, I feel that the author tackled too many issues with her story line. I can appreciate a good genre crossover – combining magical realism and science fiction was creative – however, the plot became very convoluted for the last half of the book. I think I would have enjoyed the story more if the author had tightened up the plot a bit. In addition to the magical realism elements, extraterrestrials, and social commentary, there is also a romance that plays out between the main character, Sia, and the hot new guy at her school. Through the lens of this relationship the author explores trauma, first love, racism, family dynamics, and abuse. Combined with all the other elements of this story, it’s just a lot. Perhaps if these additional elements had been more subtle, it would have worked, but I felt that taking on so much detracted from the flow of the story.

It is very unclear to me whether this book is meant to be part of a series or a standalone. The author leaves the readers with a cliffhanger, but I cannot find any references to a sequel.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
Contemporary · Fiction · Romance

Normal People

Title: Normal People

Author: Sally Rooney

Performer: Aoife McMahon

Length: 7 hr, 34 min

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2019 by Random House Audio

Format: eAudiobook

Review: This is a very different romance than the one I last reviewed, but I enjoyed it just as much in different ways. There are so many layers to this story and the relationship it portrays. The magnetism between the two characters in palpable, and it is fascinating how they orbit in and out of each other’s lives. Connell and Marianne are soulmates, but both are so damaged and have so much self-loathing that neither of them can really see it, even as they act on it. To say their relationship is complicated is a vast understatement because there is so much nuance to their every interaction. They show each other parts of themselves that they show no one else, while at the same time shutting each other out from the aspects of themselves that they freely give other people. At the end, I was left with the sense that despite their tumultuous history, they will always find their way back to each other. I found this satisfying in a way, even as it left me feeling slightly bereft.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
half star
Contemporary · Fiction · Romance

The Intimacy Experiment

Title: The Intimacy Experiment

Author: Rosie Danan

Page Count: 336

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: April 6, 2021 by Berkley Books

Format: eBook

Review: All. The. Feeeeelz. This is the romance I didn’t know I needed after reading The Roommate (which I also thoroughly enjoyed). And darn it, Rosie, if you didn’t make me fall in love with these characters. This romance has a refreshingly wholesome quality given the fact it is about a red hot relationship between a former porn star and a rabbi. This isn’t to say it doesn’t have it’s fair share of smut, but it is really more about all the ways intimacy is more than just sex. This book also tackles a lot of the social issues touched upon in The Roommate, and shows them from another angle.

Well done, Rosie. A truly exhilarating romance all around. I hope to read more from you.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
half star

Contemporary · Fantasy · Fiction · Paranormal · Romance · Young Adult

Cemetery Boys

Title: Cemetery Boys

Author: Aiden Thomas

Page Count: 352

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: September 1, 2020 by Swoon Reads

Format: Hardcover

Review: This was a unique coming-of-age novel with a very diverse cast of characters.  My favorite elements of the book were the rich descriptions of Dia de Muertos traditions and the relationship between Julian and Yadriel.  The romance that developed between Julian and Yadriel felt very organic, and served as a great mechanism for character development.  I also loved the paranormal spin to the story, with Julian being a ghost, and thought that overall it was very creative.  

My biggest qualm about the book was the very cliché villain reveal at the end. I had hoped my predictions were wrong and that the author would surprise me, but unfortunately this was not the case. The ending also wrapped up a little too nicely in my opinion, especially given how dark a lot of the content was following the climax of the story.

Reader: Bekah

Rating:

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
Contemporary · Fiction · Romance

The Authenticity Project

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Title: The Authenticity Project

Author: Clare Pooley

Performer: Anna Cordell

Length: 10 hr, 25 min

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: February 4, 2020 by Penguin Audio

Format: eAudiobook

Review: Some books come to you at the right time, and this was one such book for me. I really needed something fun and uplifting, and this truly was a “feel good” read. The writer’s style is very similar to one of my favorite authors, Liane Moriarty, though the content is lighter. We really get to delve into the feelings of the characters and join them through their introspection and personal growth. I liked the way the book was divided into many POV chapters, and found that it made the story very fast-paced and engaging. I enjoyed the uniqueness of each character voice, and though I found some of the premise to be rather far-fetched, I still found it relatable and I wanted to believe in the characters. This book really brings into focus the importance of authenticity to build meaningful relationships, and had an interesting focus on how we as individuals create our own narratives and truths. It was very fascinating and gave me much to ponder.

Really enjoyed this book in audiobook format. It was smooth and well narrated. I felt the performer really added depth to the characters.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold

Contemporary · Fiction

Such a Fun Age

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Title: Such a Fun Age

Author: Kiley Reid

Performer: Nicole Lewis

Length: 9 hr, 58 min

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2019 by Books on Tape

Format: eAudiobook

Review: It took me a long time to decide how I feel about this book, and to be honest I still don’t really know. Lewis is a fantastic writer, so I didn’t dislike the book, but at the same time I felt very unfulfilled by it. She addresses some very timely topics, yet in the end I did not really take anything away from story. I found many of the conversations between characters to be very cringey (probably intentionally so) and the twist at the end was not as shocking as I think it was intended to be. Some elements of the story were interesting, however, I don’t think this book will be one that sticks with me in the years to come.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
half star

Contemporary · Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

Felix Ever After

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Title: Felix Ever After

Author: Kacen Callender

Page Count: 368

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: May 5, 2020 by Balzer + Bray

Format: Hardcover

Review: First off, can we take a minute to appreciate that cover…gorgeous! I would have picked this book up for the cover alone if it wasn’t already in my TBR pile as a Mock Printz Committee selection. In the novel, Felix is an artist with a penchant for painting self-portraits. I like to think that this would have been one of those portraits.

But anywhoo, this book was a nice coming-of-age story filled to the brim with tropes. Misunderstood teenager? check. Angsty art school students? check. Mysterious online admirer? check. Confusing feelings about an attractive best friend? check.

Tropes aren’t necessarily a strike against a novel. When done well I enjoy them, however, I can’t say that about all the tropes in this book. I thought the romance angle in particular was weak. There was a weird quasi-love triangle that I didn’t feel did justice to either of the love interests. I could have cared less if Felix ended up either or neither of them.

So in summary, do not read this book for the romance, but rather for the character arc of a trans teen achieving self-acceptance and figuring out that it is ok to not have it all figured out.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold

Contemporary · Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

Second Chance Summer

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Title: Second Chance Summer

Author: Morgan Matson

Page Count: 468

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: May 8, 2012 by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing

Format: eBook

Review: If you love nostalgic beach/lake house in the summer vibes, this book is for you. It is a sweet story filled with friendship, romance, and above all, family. True to it’s title, this story is all about second chances. So if you are into that sort of thing, check it out. I personally found it to be an enjoyable summer read. I didn’t have to think too hard and I was satisfied by the ending. It had a tone very similar to The Summer I Turned Pretty (just with less angst), so I would definitely recommend it as a read-alike to Jenny Han fans.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold