Non-fiction

The Financial Diet

32927009

Title: The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner’s Guide to Getting Good with Money

Author: Chelsea Fagan & Lauren Ver Hage

Page Count: 208

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: September 26, 2017 by Regan Arts

Format: Paperback

Review: Money has always been a mystery to me.  Though I understand the concept of budgeting and saving, I have always had a difficult time determining how best to save and invest my money in order to make it grow.  I decided to get my feet wet in the world of finance with this beginner’s guide and found it surprisingly enjoyable.  Fagan’s writing is relatable and humorous and Ver Hage provided adorable illustrations and an aesthetically pleasing layout.  Of course not all the information was pertinent to me, but I was able to glean a few gems to get me started on the path to financial wellness.  Overall, I really enjoyed the author’s frankness regarding finances, and it really made me wonder why we are not more transparent about it with our spouses and other loved ones.  It really changed how I think about money and made me reevaluate my financial goals.  I’ve already discussed some of these ideas with my husband, and put some of these ideas immediately into practice.  Other strategies will require further research, but I feel confident now that I am moving in the right direction.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Contemporary · Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

The Distance Between Us

15283043

Title: The Distance Between Us

Author: Kasie West

Performer: Jorjeana Marie

Length: 6 hr, 42 min, 13 sec

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2014 by Tantor

Format: eAudiobook

Review: This is a classic tale of opposites attract.  Caymen is poor, and Xander is rich, so what could they possibly have in common??? Is it possible that Caymen is unfairly judging Xander because of his nice clothes and fancy cars?? Read the book and find out!  Sarcasm aside though (sarcasm is a theme in the novel by the way), this was a wholesome romance that follows a tried and true formula.  I really enjoy books like this when my life gets stressful because it does not take a lot of brainpower to follow the storyline and the outcome is predictable.  Sometimes you just want a feel good romance, and for me this did the trick.

I personally thought that the reader of this book sounded a bit too old for the character, but she did a good job and had a pleasant and consistent tone.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Contemporary · Fiction · Young Adult

Six Goodbyes We Never Said

43178166

Title: Six Goodbyes We Never Said

Author: Candace Ganger

Page Count: 416

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: September 24, 2019 by Wednesday Books

Format: eBook

Review: Loved the cover, loved the title, even loved a couple of the characters *cough Dew and Violet cough cough*, but did not love this book.  The writing felt very disjointed to me, I did not care for one of the main characters (Naima), and the ending just didn’t carry the weight that I thought it should given the subject matter.  There was a lot about this book that confused me, and I am not sure that I liked the way that mental illness is portrayed.  I got the impression that Naima is supposed to be this prickly and guarded, yet lovable individual, but for the most part, I thought she was cruel and hurtful and incredibly selfish.  I tried to like her, I really did, it just didn’t happen.  Maybe this book will really resonate with someone, but that someone wasn’t me.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star

Fantasy · Fiction · Young Adult

The Belles

23197837

Title: The Belles

Author: Dhonielle Clayton

Performer: Rosie Jones

Length: 13 hr, 2 min, 45 sec

Series: The Belles, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2018 by Blackstone Audio

Format: eAudiobook

Review: This book knocked my socks off.  I have been eyeing it for some time due to the beautiful cover art, but kept passing it over in favor of other fantasy novels.  That was my mistake, because this book blew me away with it’s originality and spectacular character development.  Camellia is not by any means a perfect heroine, and this makes her all the more relatable.  The antagonist of the story made my skin crawl, and was a total psychopath. This made for a very interesting story chock full of political intrigue, manipulation, and mystery.

What I find truly fascinating about this book, and what really sets it apart in my mind, is the author’s commentary on beauty through the story.  Beauty standards are fickle and ever changing in today’s world, and it is no different here.  All over the world people are obsessed with achieving impossible standards of beauty, and are never satisfied because beauty is perceived differently by everyone.  This is reflected in the world Clayton has created, where physical appearance can be changed in a matter of minutes, but at great personal and financial cost.  People are constantly changing their appearance to match changing beauty trends and endure a great deal of physical pain to make it happen.  The parallels this draws to real life make this a wholly believable story despite its fantastical elements.

I deducted a half star from my rating because there were a couple things that I did not feel were fully explained, but these minor plot hiccups may very well be ironed out in the second book in the series.  I have already requested it from the library and look forward to listening to it.

The performer for this story was perfection.  She easily ranks as one of my top favorite readers after listening to this performance.  I can’t wait to hear her in other works.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star

Fiction · Historical

Realm

43185532

Title: Realm

Author: Alexandrea Weis

Page Count: 397

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: May 14, 2019 by Vesuvian Books

Format: eBook

Review: I first off want to state that although the cover art for this book is gorgeous, it is highly misleading.  Roxana was not in any way a warrior princess.  In fact, it was quite the opposite.  She spent most of her time sequestered away in baggage caravans and palace quarters.  Her entire life was mostly dictated by others, and though a lot happens in the background, not much actually happens to her until the end.  I will, however, say that this book was well researched.  Some creative liberties were taken, but it seemed that for the most part, the author adhered to what experts speculate happened to the real Roxana and her family.  For some reason I was not really expecting this and thought that this would be a looser adaptation of historical events.  In a way this was a pleasant surprise, because I learned more about an intriguing woman from the past, and it made me interested in conducting a little bit of research on my own.  History buffs will really enjoy this book, but those looking for a thrilling adventure will probably find the pacing to be too slow.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fiction · Romance

After

22557520

Title: After

Author: Anna Todd

Page Count: 582

Series: After, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: October 21, 2014 by Gallery Books

Format: Paperback

Review: This book is incredibly difficult to rate.  As many reviewers before me have noted, there are so many things that are problematic with this book.  The dialogue is whiny and repetitive, the relationship between Hardin and Tessa is borderline abusive, and the twist at the end was not at all original…and yet it kept me up reading late into the night.  I can’t really explain it.  It cast some sort of weird spell over me.  Maybe because the plot is a smutty amalgamation of two of my favorite 90’s flicks, or maybe because the “hot bad boy falling for the good girl” formula is catnip for the avid romance reader.  Whatever it is, it kept me turning pages, all 582 of them.  I generally read 2-3 books at a time, but all the other books I am currently reading were set aside to finish this one.  I have already told myself that I need to finish the ARCs I am currently reading before I even think about reading the next book in this series, but like Tessa and Hardin, I may not be able to resist.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fantasy · Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

We Set the Dark on Fire

37868569

Title: We Set the Dark on Fire

Author: Tehlor Kay Mejia

Page Count: 384

Series: We Set the Dark on Fire, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: February 26, 2019 by Katherine Tegen Books

Format: Hardcover

Review: I enjoyed this book and I can see a lot of potential in this series.  This book was mainly setting the stage and the characters for the overarching storyline, so it doesn’t feel like a lot happens, but it is clear that there is a lot more action yet to come.

This book draws a lot of interesting parallels with current events, and I thought that the mythology aspect was very expertly woven into the threads of the story.  The author did an excellent job establishing the conflict, and I am excited to see where the story goes from here.  Also worthy of note is that all the characters are Latinx and there is an LGBT romance that is central to the story.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star