Book Review: Roomies

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Synopsis: Holland has a crush on a subway performer named Calvin. She convinces him to perform in her uncle’s theatrical production but when he is hired they learn his visa has expired.
Undaunted, Holland suggests they get married so he can have his dream job and she can imagine, even if only for the duration of his work for her uncle, that she has the man of her dreams.

My Rating:

4/5

I really enjoyed the characters in this novel. Holland’s uncles are hilarious and I absolutely loved them. I also really enjoyed Holland as a character. She is a struggling writer and part of her character arc in this book is her pursuit of her writing dreams.

I loved that this book involves the theatre. I am a huge fan of theatre so all the scenes where Calvin and the crew are rehearsing or performing were especially fun for me.

This book was quite funny and I enjoyed the humor of the book.

The main tropes of the book is a marriage of convenience mixed with fake marriage. I like both of those tropes and they were done well. I love watching a couple get to know one another and slowly fall in love even though they don’t have a “real” marriage.

I did feel like there was more focus on Holland and how she changes than I am used to in a romance novel. I felt like her arc, at times, took over the story and overshadowed the blooming romance with Calvin.
The book is told from Holland’s perspective which I think is part of the reason it feels like her arc takes over. Sometimes being in Holland’s head was annoying.

I would really have liked to have a dual perspective because I never felt like I fully knew Calvin and that was extremely detrimental because he did some pretty awful things in the latter part of the book. Things I would consider unforgivable.

I had a hard time being on board with them as a couple after what Calvin did and that hurt my enjoyment of the book a bit. I felt sorry for Holland and didn’t want her to be with someone who could do what Calvin did.

There was also some drama with Holland’s best friend that I could have done without.

Christina Lauren is a great storyteller and this wasn’t a bad book but it is the book I have enjoyed least from this author of those I’ve read.

Other than the thing with Calvin, I had a pretty good time with this book but I don’t know if I can recommend.

I loved the style and the humor of the book. But, as I said, it was hard to be onboard with the romance after Calvin screws things up.

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Book Review: The Universe Doesn’t Give a Flying F- About You

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Synopsis: This is a short non-fiction book (I would even call it an essay) on why we, especially creators, should be brave and take chances.

4/5

I felt like this book offered a very important message. Humans live a few short years and honestly much of what we do won’t be remembered in a hundred and certainly not a thousand years. That offers room to make mistakes. This book encourages creators to ignore their fears because those fears are usually much bigger than the realities surrounding them.

The book is told in the typical humorous fashion I have come to expect of work by Truant. It was fun to read because I really loved not only the message but also the author’s voice.

While I loved this book very much I did want to warn that if you are going through any sort of existential crisis or are not in a good place mental health wise, I would hold off on this book until you are in a better headspace.

The message is that your mistakes aren’t going to matter but it can be flipped on it’s head to say that nothing you do matters. I don’t think that is the author’s message but if you aren’t approaching this book in the proper headspace I can see where it might have some negative effects.

I do think the overall intended message of the book is that we should do the scary things so we can live a full life and not be held back by our fears.

This is an awesome book for writers and other artists and if you fall into that category I recommend that book to you (assuming you are in a healthy headspace).

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Book Review: Scarlet

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Synopsis: This is book 2 in the Lunar Chronicles and is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. However, most of the plot of this book is Cinder, from book 1, exploring her past.

My rating: 4/5

I liked Cinder a bit better though Scarlet was equally well done. They were just very different types of books.

I enjoyed the world building in both books pretty equally. It was well done and in Scarlet it was nice to move to other local to see a wider view of the world.

I felt like Cinder spent a lot of time developing the character of Cinder and setting up the plot. I didn’t feel like Scarlet and Wolf, characters she shares the spotlight with in book 2, got as much development. This book felt more like an adventure story where everything was high stakes and everyone was on the move.
A large part of the story was Scarlet looking for her missing grandmother with the help of Wolf and while I was interested I wasn’t as engages in the plot as I was in Cinder.

In Cinder there was reveal after reveal. In this, I didn’t feel like I learned much information that was new and unexpected. In fact, I felt like there wasn’t much plot movement from this book. We didn’t feel very far from where we ended in Cinder.

Cinder ended on a cliff hanger and Scarlet had a much neater ending. In many ways I liked that but it also made me less desperate for the next book. I read Scarlet over a month ago and still haven’t picked up the next book which several of my friends have said is their favorite of the series.

If you have an interest in this series start at Cinder which is book one. Even though Scarlet ends up being more of an origin story for Cinder than anything else, it would be terribly confusing to read if you haven’t read Cinder first.

I am having a good time with this series and I do recommend it.

I also wanted to mention that I listened to Cinder on audio and Scarlet I read. I think that audio might be the way to go with these books if you have the choice. I think I enjoyed that format a bit more and going from audio to book was confusing due to the way things were pronounced in the audio vs spelled in the physical book.

 

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Book Review: A Curse so Dark and Lonely

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Synopsis:
This is a Beauty and the Beast retelling. Harper is kidnapped from Washington DC and taken to a fantasy land where there is a prince under a spell. She is the only hope of breaking that spell and Harper has no interest in doing so. She just wants to return home to her sick mother and troubled brother.
My rating: 5/5

This book might end up being one of my favorite reads of the year. We will see what happens.
I really loved that this book focused more on the world than the romance. It was a very unique retelling because of that and I totally enjoyed it.

Instead of Harper and the prince sitting around the castle they spend time amongst his people in the fantasy world where Harper tries to make the difficult lives of the people better. The prince’s curse has had terrible consequences for his kingdom and not just those who live with him in the palace.

I think because there was so much focus on being out in the world the character development was amazing. We get to see much more depth to them than we do when a beauty and beast are just chilling in the castle together.

Harper was an amazing character. She is a strong female protagonist but she also has physical limitations which I loved. She has cerebral palsy and I thought that was well done in the book. It is there and makes a difference to the story but she never becomes a character who is defined by her disability.
The world of the story was complex enough to intrigue me but not so complex that I struggled to understand what was happening around me. Also, the book is written in dual first person point of view which allowed so much depth both to place and character.

Despite loving the book I do have a few things that didn’t work for me.

Harper and the prince both had moments where they are over the top. Extreme. Exaggerated. Annoying. It wasn’t often but it was enough to be noticeable. Particularly, Harper had a habit of being impulsive and I would have liked her to think more before taking action.

The prince tended to be overly dramatic about things.

Also, the book was fairly graphic violence wise. I didn’t find it gratuitous but if violence will bother you then this may not be the book for you. The person who cursed the prince likes to torture people and some of those scenes were a bit rough to read.

This is book one in a series and the ending wasn’t neat with every plot point tied up. I hadn’t realized it was part of a series at first and was so annoyed at how vague the end was. However, after learning it was book one in a series I can forgive that it wasn’t neatly wrapped in a bow. Just be aware of that going in.

Overall, this was an amazing read and I very much recommend it if you like fantasy or fairy tale retellings.

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Book Review: Some of My Friends Are: The Daunting Challenges and Untapped Benefits of Cross-Racial Friendships

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Synopsis: This is a non-fiction book that talks about cross-racial friendships. Author Deborah Plummer discusses why they are important as well as some of the pitfalls that can occur.

My rating: 4/5

I received this book in a Library Things Giveaway however this review is honest and voluntary.

I found this book interesting and enlightening. The topics discussed were important and things that I’d never really considered before. One of my favorite stories in the book was when Plummer spoke of her time as a nun. She was the only white nun which she hadn’t expected to be an issue because she expected her identity as a nun to be more important in that situation than her racial identity. Unfortunately, what she found was that the foods served and other elements of life as a nun were culturally white. This created a sort of low key institutional racism that I had never before considered. I had assumed that as long as organizations were welcoming of everyone that was enough but it is different to be non-discriminatory and integrating.

Plummer did an excellent job of bringing her points to life through examples of situations she and her friends had personally experienced. It helped me have a deeper understanding of where she was coming from.

My main complaint about this book is just that it is, for lack of a better word, smart. Plummer is a Phd. I appreciated how educated she was but I thought that her writing made the book less accessible to anyone without a college education. It took me a long time to read this book and I really had to concentrate and struggle with it at times to follow what was being said. I prefer non-fiction which is lighter in tone and easier to read especially because my reading is often interrupted by the demands of motherhood. This isn’t the type of book one can easily read when surrounded by distractions. If you don’t typically read non-fiction this book is not a good place to start.

I do think this is an important book and overall I think everyone should read it. It has helped me look at cross racial friendships differently.

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Book Review: Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics

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Synopsis: In Book 1 Kevin and his friends escaped Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and became product spokesmen for his products. But, kids all over the country are crying foul. They are sure they could have beat Kevin and his friends if given a chance. So, Mr. Lemoncello creates the Library Olympics where the biggest booklovers of the USA are chosen to compete against Kevin and his team to become Library Champions.

My rating: 5/5

I have to confess that my rating is mostly because the book is so much fun to read. This is a well written enough book but for me it was my personal enjoyment that lends itself to a five star rating.

Like the first book, this book is just written for booklovers. It references so many books I am familiar with and concerns that are on book conscious people’s minds. I don’t want to delve too deeply into this because it could move into spoiler territory but I will say that banned books play an important role in the story and I could not have loved how that was handled more.

As with the first, this book has a very Willy Wonka vibe to the fun. I would even say more so this time than last. These parallels led me to guessing the books twist early on. Though that did not in any way impair my enjoyment of the book. I loved what the twist was. It was really fun and well done.

One thing I will mention is that this series should be read in order so you should not read this one before the last one or many elements will not make sense.

There were more characters in this book but since I knew the characters from the last book I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the new ones we meet. The cast is fairly large though because you have so many people competing. Only a few become important enough in the game for us to really get to know though. But that is one reason I would not pick this book up before reading book 1. There are just too many characters if you don’t already have a grasp on who is who.

The only thing negative I will say about this book was that the start was a bit slow. I wasn’t as interested in the stuff leading up to the Olympics as I was in the actual Olympics. So, the announcement of the Olympics and the choosing of competing teams made the pacing in the start of this book a bit slow. But, once I got past that I was totally invested in the book and loved it enough that the first little bit of the story being slow was forgivable.

I highly recommend this series to book lovers and especially for children who are around 9 or 10 and obsessed with books. My kids are a bit young for it now but it is a series I hope we return to when they get older.

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Book Review: The 101 Dalmatians

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Synopsis: Pongo and his wife Missus must rescue their puppies who were kidnapped by the evil Cruella de Vile who wants to make coats out of them.

My rating: 4/5

I really enjoyed reading this book though I didn’t think it aged very well. There is lots of sexism in the book which I was surprised by. The book uses some words that are more common in Britain and/or that aren’t commonly used now so might be a challenge if you are reading to a child. For instance, there is a joke about there being bachelor flats but no spinster flats.

Similarly, the start of the book is very slow with a discussion of the different human characters. This up front information along with the language made it difficult for young children to enjoy. I tried reading it aloud to my 7 yr olds and they couldn’t understand what was going on. I ended up choosing to finish reading it by myself.

I really loved the way the book was narrated. It is told in omniscient narration but heavily from a dog point of view which was hilarious to read. The narrative voice was fun and quite enjoyable.

This book was fairly easy to read if you have some experience with historical fiction. I sometimes struggle with the language of classics but had no problem with this book. It was simple to read.

I loved the story which is very similar to the Disney movie. The book takes the time to take us on more of an adventure with Pongo and Missus as they look for the puppies and I really enjoyed being along for the ride on that.

Cruella was much more evil in the book which I had mixed feelings about. I think she is a perfect villain for a children’s book but she isn’t very well rounded as a character. She is just evil. Perhaps to the point of not even being human.

Pongo and Missus were pretty well developed but the puppies weren’t. There were only two puppies that really stood out to me. There is Cadpig who is the runt and who is weak and always needing cared for. Then, there is Lucky. He is the biggest strongest of Pongo’s pups and he helps his dad lead the puppies to safety.

 

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