Book Review: The Kiss Quotient

Title: The Kiss Quotient
Author: Helen Hoang
Date Published: May 30, 2018
Rating: 4/5 stars
Date read: December 14, 2020 (reread)

The Kiss Quotient follows an autistic woman named Stella Lane who hires an escort to help her learn about intimacy and relationships.

The first time I read The Kiss Quotient I was completely enamoured because not only was this my first romance with asian representation, it also featured a woman with Aspergers, and as someone who has OCD and other autistic related symptoms, it felt really great to be seen. That Stella is also in STEM, and a math related field at that, was another reason I really liked this novel. I find authors rarely feature characters who are interested in mathematics, so while Hoang didn’t delve too deeply into the topic this was still such a refreshing change.

I thought the writing of this novel was solid, nothing spectacular, but easy and enjoyable to read. I also tend to prefer a dual narrative when it comes to romance, so in that regard I was happy. I do have to wonder though, do most men swear so much in their heads? This is something I often see when it comes to romance novels and it is not my favourite. As for the characters, again, I found Stella really relatable and very sweet. And while Michael annoyed me at times, I really liked how kind, patient, and caring he was with Stella, and thought the two had really great chemistry.

This novel is not without its faults though, and what stands out to me most is the last section of the novel. I feel like I will forever be complaining about the unneeded drama that always results in the couple breaking up and then getting back together near the end of every romance novel (that I’ve picked up at least). There has literally only ever been one instance in which I’ve thought this justified and it was not in this novel. But even then, I would have been more open to this narrative choice if it had led to some legitimate character growth on at least one character’s side. Michael’s self-esteem journey in particular could have used a lot more development, especially since it was the root of the conflict. I’m not saying that self-esteem issues aren’t a thing and can’t cause issues in relationships, but I will not ever find the “I’m breaking up with you because you’re too good for me” argument compelling. I also wasn’t a fan of the possessiveness characters developed over their partners, in my first read I was willing to overlook this because I was so happy with the representation, but this second time it just made me uncomfortable. I do still consider this one of my favourite romances though, so ending aside if you’re looking for a fun and steamy romance I’d highly recommend it. 

P.S. Quan is the best. 

Have you read The Kiss Quotient? If not, do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

Book Review: We Have Always Been Here

Title: We Have Always Been Here
Author: Samra Habib
Date Published: June 4, 2019
Rating: 4/5 stars
Date read: April 23, 2020

We Have Always Been Here is a memoir written by Samra Habib, a Canadian photographer, writer, and activist. Samra is best known for her Just Me and Allah project, in which she photographs and documents the lives of queer muslims living in North America and Europe. Her memoir details her struggles growing up Ahmadi Muslim during the oppression of Islamic extremists, immigrating to Canada, and discovering her queer identity, all the while facing sexism, racism, and homophobia, and how her many experiences have been impacted by her muslim faith.

When I first started reading Samra’s memoir I wasn’t overly impressed by the writing, but it definitely improved over the course of the novel. I think Samra actively chose to write according to the age she was describing, and that could explain the improvement as the novel progressed. 

We Have Always Been Here is such an important and impactful story that I feel needed to be told. I don’t often enough hear the voices of queer muslims and am ignorant of the struggles they face being accepted by the muslim community at large. Samra points out that Canadians in particular are ignorant in that Canada is progressive when it comes to LGBTQIA+ rights, and so don’t fully understand that there are still people who struggle to be accepted. Everyone one should read this story for this reason alone.

In terms of Samra’s experiences, I loved reading about someone who came into their queer identity slowly, and that her experience was a learning process. I can relate a lot to discovering my identity in adulthood, and I often wonder if being queer were more accepted and normalized how many people would realize their identities sooner. I especially enjoyed reading about Samra’s varying relationships with her family members. The hurdles they go through together or apart make for a compelling narrative with a very happy and satisfying conclusion. I also liked that being muslim was not treated as a negative thing, and that Samra’s religion was very important to her and helped shape her identity. 

Overall I really enjoyed Samra’s memoir, I love reading about people who are passionate about their beliefs and who are able to overcome discrimination and difficulties. Highly recommend!

Have you read We Have Always Been Here? If not, do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

cance

Book Review: Ignite the Sun

Title: Ignite the Sun
Author: Hanna C Howard
Date Published: August 18, 2020
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Date read: April 12, 2020

Ignite the Sun takes place in a world covered in darkness, where the sun is a myth. This world has mages, nymphs, and fae type creatures. We follow Siria, who is just turning sixteen and is trying to gain the favour of the queen. When she becomes an honoured guest at the Choosing Ball, she discovers not everything is as it seems, and she may be the key to bringing the sun back to the kingdom. 

I’ve been dreading writing this review because I don’t have too many positive things to say. Let’s start with characters, Siria is your typical chosen one. She doesn’t particularly stand out, and she very much does not want to be the chosen one and doesn’t believe she’s capable enough and is a brat about it. The side characters are pretty lacklustre as well and I wish they had been more fleshed out. At times it felt like some characters were introduced solely for the sake of having more characters in the story. The villain of Ignite the Sun really doesn’t have too large a roll and could have benefitted from more page time because she seems like more of a way to drive the story forward than like an actual character.

The dialogue also leaves much to be desired. Siria’s interactions with the other characters come across as forced and the banter between her and her love interest, Linden, is lacking in the charms required for me to root for them together. When we meet the two we already know they have crushes on each other and are the best of friends, but I find none of this believable through their interactions. Siria’s also a bit too focused on Linden’s looks maybe because of his lack of personality and that’s something I never enjoy in regards to romance. 

My biggest gripe with this novel is that I thought the writing was lazy. The main character conveniently keeps blacking out during the height of tension, the plot is predictable, there were many info dumpy moments, especially in regards to the backstory of characters, and there are some very convenient magical elements thrown into the story, some in regards to those backstories, that do not make for an engaging narrative. I think Howard has potential as a writer, her style is easy to digest and the story concept is great, but her potential wasn’t fully reached with this debut.

Something else that does not sit quite right with me is that the “chosen-ones” of the story are all red-haired or blond while, and correct me if I’m wrong, the other characters are dark haired. I understand what the author is trying to do here, and that the hair is meant to represent the sun, but the execution could have been better. 

Have you read Ignite the Sun? If not, do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

Book Review: The Boyfriend Project

Title: The Boyfriend Project
Author: Farrah Rochon
Date Published: June 9, 2020
Rating: 2/5 stars
Date read: April 7, 2020

The Boyfriend Project follows thirty-year-old Samirah, who discovers her boyfriend is cheating on her with at least two other women. Samirah goes to confront her cheating boyfriend and ends her night befriending two other women catfished by her ex. The three women make a pact to try to better themselves before deciding to date again. The timing of this pact could not be worse, as shortly afterwards Samirah meets her company’s new hire, very good-looking, very single, Daniel. 

The Boyfriend Project is The Central Park Pact but with a lot more diversity and a lot more lust. Its first instalment follows a woman in a STEM field, working an extremely desirable and successful job at a tech company. While I very much appreciated the diversity The Boyfriend Project had to offer, much of The Boyfriend Project did not work for me.

My first issue with The Boyfriend Project was the characters. I think characters make up the backbone of any romance novel, and without good characters you really can’t have a good romance novel. Samirah came across as a bit too cocky for my tastes, and both she and Daniel were too perfect. Flawless characters really aren’t my thing and to me often come across as one dimensional. Another strike against The Boyfriend Project was that I didn’t believe in the chemistry between Samirah and Daniel. They were both hyper-focused on looks and how attractive they found one another, but with none of the sexual tension needed to make me invested in whether or not they got together. 

Not all sexy scenes are going to work for every person, and this was an instance in which the steamy scenes made me cringe. I personally find nothing sexy about describing making out as having one’s tongue down someone else’s throat. 

What I did like about The Boyfriend Project was the importance of female friendships in the novel. I like that Samirah was able to balance a romantic relationship while also maintaining female friendships (and maintaining a career too!). Unfortunately, I again did not believe in the chemistry between Samirah and her girlfriends. I wanted more depth to their friend group. Ultimately, this novel didn’t work for me.

Have you read The Boyfriend Project? If not, do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

Manga Reviews: Sailor Moon Volumes 1 & 2

Reviews for each volume have spoilers for the preceding volumes.

Series: Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon
Eternal Edition Volume 1
Author: Naoko Takeuchi
First published: 1992
Ongoing: no
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Date read: December 15, 2018 (reread)

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon follows a young woman named Usagi who stumbles upon a talking cat named Luna. Through Luna, Usagi learns she is actually a Sailor Scout, a chosen guardian to the mysterious moon princess. She must find the other guardians and the princess and protect the princess.

I fully acknowledge that my high rating of the first volume stems a lot from nostalgia. Art in 90s manga has never been my favourite but there is something undeniably pretty about Takeuchi’s art style. It was also a pleasure meeting Usagi again and watching her befriend all the Sailor Scouts. I do wish this series had better character development though, and that it wasn’t so episodic in nature. Yes, there is an ultimate story arc, but for the most part each chapter follows the same formula of bad guy appears, girls transform, bad guy is defeated. As for the characters, while I feel like I know them I think I only feel that way because I’m already familiar with them. And while I’ll always root for Mamoru and Usagi, their relationship is severely lacking in any real substance. In regards to the conflict, the tactics the villains use to control and collect energy are a bit repetitive and easy. To be perfectly honest I’m not sure who the age demographic/target audience is for this manga, and without the nostalgia factor I don’t really see this appealing to many.

Series: Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon
Eternal Edition Volume 2
Author: Naoko Takeuchi
First published: 1992
Ongoing: no
Rating: 3/5 stars
Date read: March 20, 2020 (reread)

Volume 2 picks up right where volume 1 left off. We finally get to meet our Moon Princess, Sailor V.

The story continues! Unfortunately the storytelling aspect of this series is its weakest element, and it relies too heavily on convenience to move the story forward. There was a plot twist revealed in this volume that was neither ground-breaking nor shocking and added to the story in no way whatsoever. Plot wise this unfolds more or less the way you would expect it to. On the plus side I like that we got more into the backstory of the Moon Princess, though I would have appreciated more depth when it came to her romance with the Earth Prince. Their romance plays a central role in the story, so I wanted more from it then just love at first sight. This volume also had the brainwashing trope, which is something I always dread when it comes to manga and anime. It’s just so overused and cheap. I am pleased that the story arc wrapped up well in the first two volumes though.

If you’ve read Sailor Moon or plan to, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

Manga Reviews: Yona of the Dawn Volume 1, 2, & 3

Series: Yona of the Dawn
Volume 1
Author: Mizuho Kusanagi
First published: 2010
Ongoing: yes
Rating: 4.75/5 stars
Date read: May 14, 2020 (reread)

Yona lives her life as the spoiled princess of Kohka, hoping to one day marry her sweet and handsome cousin Su-won and being constantly annoyed by her bodyguard Hak. On Yona’s sixteenth birthday everything changes dramatically after she witnesses the murder of her father at the hands of her beloved Su-won. Hak and Yona flee the palace, and set off on a journey to find Yona’s destiny and the companions she needs to achieve it. 

It’s always so challenging rating and reviewing an ongoing manga based on only one of its volumes. We’re really just starting off the story here, so it’s tough to judge it. When we first meet our main character, Yona, she’s a total brat, and she’s especially dense and insensitive when it comes to a certain someone’s feelings somethings never change, though given the circumstances, her personality and attitude change throughout the volume. She and Hak have a really fantastic dynamic, she’s spoiled and can be a bit much at times, but he keeps her in check with his teasing. Naturally I’m rooting for Hak because I always love a character who puts the happiness of the ones they love above their own, and I respect that he acknowledges his own position. As for Yona’s crush on Su-won, while I do feel it comes from a good place, I’ve never take it too seriously because I’ve always thought of it as an innocent childhood fancy. 

In terms of the story, this volume really is just setting the stage for the series. We get a lot of flashbacks to Yona, Su-won, and Hak’s childhood, and these flashbacks create a solid foundation for the varying relationships between the trio. The flashbacks also make the “love triangle” more compelling, and drive home just how devastating Su-won’s betrayal really is. At this point the plot isn’t entirely clear as we have no idea where Yona wants to go from here. 

As for the art, to be completely honest, Kusanagi’s art didn’t sell me initially, but over time I’ve come to love it and I think she’s improved so much since this first volume. Her characters look a bit young in this first instalment, but they look more their ages as the series progresses. I also appreciate that all the faces of her characters are distinct, I’ve come across more than one manga where the artist will use similar faces for every character and if those characters were all bald or changed their hairstyles I’m convinced I would not be able to tell them apart but that really isn’t the case here. Her assistants are also amazing and the scenery in this manga should not be overlooked.

As for some random musings, I wish Hak hadn’t stopped wearing his headband because it was so adorable, I’m still hoping King Il’s reasoning for not wanting Su-won to be king is further explored later on, and I do have to wonder why no one thought to make sure Hak wouldn’t be an issue the night of the assassination. He’s easily the biggest threat in the palace. 

Series: Yona of the Dawn
Volume 2
Author: Mizuho Kusanagi
First published: 2010
Ongoing: yes
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Date read: May 17, 2020 (reread)

Volume 2 of Yona of the Dawn picks up where volume 1 left off, with Hak and Yona seeking solace from the Wind Tribe.

From Volume 1 of the series, its not entirely clear just where this series is going, and while volume 2 still doesn’t answer that question, it does at the very least give Yona a direction to head in. Volume 2 really takes the time to allow Yona to get over her shock over the loss of both her father and Su-won. In this volume we also get to see Su-won move forward with his plan to be King, and what measures he takes in order to garner the support of all the tribes. I really appreciate that Yona of the Dawn is a multiple perspective story and that we get to see what Su-won is up to, though his motivations are still unclear. I also appreciated the time we spent with the Wind Tribe as it added more dimension to Kohka, and allowed us a glimpse into what Hak’s upbringing was like. There were also some really touching scenes in this volume with Mun-deok, he’s the last parental figure the trio has that I’m aware of at least, I mean I have no idea where Su-won’s mom is. With this volume we also get more insight into Hak and Yona’s characters. They’re both individuals who are quick to take responsibility for their actions or in this case Su-won’s actions and that’s a trait I find admirable in any hero/ine. Our sheltered princess also gets to see the result of violence for the first time, an event that I feel really encourages her to take action, and finally moves the story forward. So overall I enjoyed this volume and the world building and character depth it added to the story.

Series: Yona of the Dawn
Volume 3
Author: Mizuho Kusanagi
First published: 2010
Ongoing: yes
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Date read: (reread)

In this instalment of Yona of the Dawn we follow Yona as she leaves the Wind Tribe in search of a priest who can guide her towards the path she is destined to take. 

Yona of the Dawn is always a pleasure to read. This series has some of the best art and Kusanagi’s attention to detail is impeccable. Kusanagi is not only a talented artist, but also a talented storyteller. I love the attention she gives to the main players of the story and really appreciated exploring both Yun and Gija’s backstories, this really helps bring to life their characters and offers insight into their personalities and motivations. My favourite part of any volume is of course Yona’s interactions with Hak, I can’t help it, they’re my OTP. I also liked the world building in this volume, we got a look at the backstory behind Kohka and I really enjoyed the mythos behind the kingdom. Obviously I’m really looking forward to rereading the next volume!

If you’ve read Yona of the Dawn or plan to, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

Book Review: Anna K

Title: Anna K
Author: Jenny Lee
Date Published: March 3, 2020
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Date read: May 23, 2020 (reread)

Anna K is a modern young adult retelling of Anna Karenina, and follows the love story between Anna K and Alexia Vronsky, the relationship problems between Steven K and Lolly S, and the heartbreak between Dustin L and Kimmie S.

I first read Anna K just after its release, and I enjoyed it so much so that I felt compelled to pick up Anna Karenina. And then of course reading Anna Karenina made me want to pick up Anna K all over again, so here we are. I do think Anna K is more enjoyable if you’ve read the original source material, but that being said it’s absolutely not necessary. Anna K is a fantastic retelling, and viewed as a love story, was much more successful and compelling than its counterpart Anna Karenina. With Anna K we have all the passions and lust of Anna Karenina but told in a way that is much more believable. I also found that while Lee captured the essence of the original cast, her characters were much more dynamic and likeable than Tolstoy’s. As for plot comparisons, I love that the opening few chapters of Anna K really stayed true to the original story, and found the mirroring of the two scenes extremely clever. The changes Lee made plot wise made perfect sense to the setting of the novel and I enjoyed the liberties she took to narrow down the cast a bit and to modernize the story. I especially liked what Lee did with the ending of her retelling, and it’s an ending that I know will have me either near or in tears every time I read it. 

I know this book isn’t going to be for everyone. Anna K has a lot of unpopular elements: cheating, insta-love, and shallow, unlikeable characters, and yet it’s one of my favourite contemporaries. I think a large part of why I was able to overlook the cheating was because without it this really wouldn’t feel like an Anna Karenina retelling, and in Anna K it is so clear to me that Anna and Alexander are not right for each other, yet Anna is in a position where she has a lot of pressure to stay with him. While that doesn’t justify her cheating, it does make it a lot easier to stomach. I also didn’t even think about the fact that this had insta-love until my second read through. The characters falling in love or developing crushes just feels so natural that I didn’t even notice just how quickly these feelings were developing. As for the characters being unlikeable, initially they come across as pretty shallow and selfish, but over time you realize there’s more to each character than meets the eye.

As for the writing, Jenny Lee is a fantastic writer and her style was well suited to the story (I’d love to see her write something else and see how her writing adapts to a different setting). The writing is reminiscent of a tabloid magazine, but I mean that in the best way possible, it really draws you in and it’s easy to digest. My only major complaint is that I wish the main characters had been aged up, and that this was new adult instead of young adult. I don’t know what goes on in the lives of extremely wealthy teenagers, but it would have made the story more believable for me had they been university students instead of high schoolers.

Have you read Anna K? If not, do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

Book Series Review: Soul Eaters

The synopses and reviews for books two and three contain mild spoilers to prior novels. For my overall thoughts on the series are at the bottom of this post.

Title: Cracked (Soul Eaters #1)
Author: Eliza Crewe
Date Published: November 5, 2013
Rating: 4.5/5
Date read: March 3, 2020 (reread)

Cracked follows a half-demon, half-human named Meda who believes she is the only one of her kind. One day, in the middle of one of her human meals, she runs into demons and demon hunters. Meda tricks the demon hunters into thinking she’s harmless in order to infiltrate their base and learn more about herself. 

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, the Soul Eaters series is everything I wanted the Shadow Hunter books to be. We have witty banter, kick butt characters, and interesting (not necessarily romantic) relationship dynamics. Meda is the unconventional hero of my dreams, she’s snarky, sarcastic, and knows how to get her way. She does a lot of terrible things and she doesn’t feel remorseful about it (most of the time). My favourite aspect of Cracked is the friend group that forms. These characters really have to work for their friendships and that makes them so much more believable.

Title: Crushed (Soul Eaters #2)
Date Published: August 5, 2014
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Date read: April 20, 2020 (reread)

Crushed is the second novel in the Soul Eaters trilogy. Crushed picks up a few months after the events of Cracked as Meda is poorly adjusting to life with the Crusaders. Matters aren’t helped when a certain bad boy makes an appearance and a tempting offer Meda doesn’t want to pass up. 

I can’t deny that Crushed is a filler novel, in that we pretty much end things off where we start, but I personally have never been one to hate on filler novels. I find that they tend to offer the most character development/exploration and world building, two things I love, and two things I thought were very well done in this instalment. Because of the events taking place in the novel, Meda develops a lot as a character and becomes more sympathetic towards others (to an extent, don’t worry, she’s not a completely different character by the end of this). As for the world building, it was introduced in a very natural way and at a very natural point in the story, and I thought Crewe’s use of Armand to answer main questions was brilliant.

Emotionally, Crushed is equivalent to Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix or Spider Man 2 (2004) in that we have ANGST, ANGST, ANGST a situation that is wholly frustrating for the protagonist, and it seems no one is on their side. I’m personally a sucker for this type of story line, it really pulls on my emotions, so naturally I loved where the story went. I also think the situation Meda is in is very compelling. You can’t be mad at the Crusaders for not trusting her, but at the same time their attitude and actions towards her are both infuriating and questionable and make you sympathize for her. 

The highlight of this novel for me was Jo and Meda’s relationship, it’s why I have so much love for this series, well that and Meda’s charm, and sense of humour. How often do we come across a young adult novel where the bonds between two female friends are this important to the story? There is nothing easy about their relationship, its a constant uphill battle, and yet they love and are loyal to each other. 

Title: Crossed (Soul Eaters #3)
Date Published: August 13, 2015
Rating: 4.75/5 stars
Date read: April 28, 2020 (reread)

Crossed takes place not too long after Crushed, the Crusaders have lost their base and are moving around a lot. On the bright side, after the events of the last novel they’re also more willing to work with Meda. When the Crusaders propose a crazy plan to help them get an edge over the demons, Meda is less than willing to oblige.

So we’ve finally reached the end. Meda is just as snarky and embracing of her cowardliness and sense of self-preservation as ever. There were some pretty crazy plot points that I had completely forgotten about in this instalment that were a very pleasant surprise. I do have to say that the series gets a bit repetitive in the sense that the ultimate conflict in each novel involves infiltrating the demons’ base, but it makes sense given the premise. 

As usual, the highlight of the novel for me was the characters. I especially liked where the story went with Jo’s character, her development in this novel was fantastic and brought about some really great discussions on hatred and hope. I also liked that we saw more to Chi’s character and the character development and backstory we got on Armand made me sympathize towards him a lot more. It was weird that Meda was the sense of reason in this novel, but fair. And of course I loved how Jo and Meda’s relationship was the most important relationship in the novel. My biggest complaint about this series is that Meda and Jo aren’t canon.

Final thoughts: Speaking for the series as a whole, it’s solidified its position as one of my favourites. I can’t imagine myself disliking a story where the main character constantly struggles to do what’s morally correct versus what’s in their best interests. I’ve read from a few different characters where one of their internal struggles was not succumbing to their more terrible base desires and I think Meda is one of the best depictions of this type of character. It also helps that she’s incredibly charming in a sarcastic and snarky way. If you’re looking to pick up a series with one of the best main characters ever, then this is it!

Have you read Soul Eaters? If not, do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

Mini Reviews: The Adventures of Pinocchio, The Picture of Dorian Gray, & Heidi

Title: The Adventures of Pinocchio
Author: Carlo Collodi
Date Published: February 1883
Rating: 3/5 stars
Date read: April 22, 2020

The Adventures of Pinocchio follows a marionette named Pinocchio as he struggles to be good in order to turn into a real boy.

I say Pinocchio “struggles” to be good very loosely because, really, Pinocchio could put in more effort. Before reading Pinocchio I read a couple reviews on it and was shocked over how harsh some of them were, but now that I’ve read Pinocchio I understand, he really is a dumbass. There are multiple occasions throughout the novel where someone tries to deter Pinocchio from doing something stupid, but he never listens. It also doesn’t help that this novel lacks subtly when it comes to morals, I feel as though I’ve been bashed over the head repeatedly by the idea that “going to school and working hard leads to good things.” I didn’t hate this story, and ultimately enjoyed the direction in which the plot went, I just wish Pinocchio had been smarter about things, or perhaps had more conflict about whether or not to act out. On a more positive note, I appreciated reading a fairytale-like story that originated in Italy because it was a fun change in scenery from other children’s stories/fairytales. What made this reading experience more enjoyable for me was listening to the audiobook and reading the MinaLima edition, Simon Vance does a terrific job narrating it, and the MinaLima edition of it is stunning. 

Title: The Picture of Dorian Gray
Author: Oscar Wilde
Date Published: 1891
Rating: 3.75/5 stars
Date read: April 20, 2020 (reread)

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a novel revolving around the young and handsome Dorian Gray. An artist paints his portrait, and upon seeing it Dorian wishes it would age instead of he. Dorian’s wish comes true with horrific consequences. 

I’ve always loved and will always love the concept behind The Picture of Dorian Gray, a picture that ages instead of its subject, I just think that’s so brilliant. In terms of execution, Wilde can get quite long winded at times, and Henry’s attitude towards woman was appalling, but otherwise I enjoyed this story. I love Wilde’s writing style and truly think he has a way with words. As for the characters, they’re the type you’ll love to hate. I especially enjoyed Dorian’s gradual change of character and how he got worse as the novel progressed. Additionally, I think this book has one of the most perfect endings ever. I do think that my next read through isn’t going to be from the audiobook though, I didn’t enjoy that nearly as much as physically reading it. 

Title: Heidi
Author: Johanna Spyri
Date Published: 1880
Rating: 3.75/5
Date read: April 28, 2020 (reread)

Heidi is the story of a young orphan girl named Heidi who goes to live with her grandfather in the Swiss Alps. She charms everyone she meets, but eventually moves to the city to get a proper education, missing the Alps the entire time she is gone. 

Heidi, the girl, is a bit too perfect for my tastes, and I didn’t think she had enough charm to warrant all the adoration she received throughout the novel. Still, I did enjoy the antics she got herself into, and I loved the backdrop of the Alps. The background was well described and fleshed out and this little story is worth reading just for that.Unfortunately the novel got a bit too heavy-handed with its religious messages for my personal tastes in the second half, it was just a bit jarring given it wasn’t as present an element in the first half and had it been more balanced out it probably would have bothered me a bit less. While Heidi is a cute and charming story, I do think there are better children classics out there.

If you’ve read any of these books or plan to read them, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

Book Review: Alex, Approximately

Title: Alex, Approximately
Author: Jenn Bennett
Date Published: April 4, 2017
Rating: 3.75/5 stars
Date read: April 16, 2020

Alex, Approximately follows 17-year-old Bailey (Mink) Rydell. She’s just moved across the country to live with her father. She’s a movie buff and has been chatting online quite a bit with a boy named Alex, and, unbeknownst to him, she just happens to be moving to the same town as him. Bailey proceeds to spend her summer working and flirting with an obnoxious boy named Porter, and trying to uncover Alex’s identity.

I first read Alex, Approximately when I was just getting back into reading, just after its release day and I loved it, and proceeded to pick up every other Jenn Bennett novel that followed, and much to my dismay I didn’t love any of them nearly as much. So, going into this reread of Alex, Approximately, I was hesitant. Naturally I was really surprised to find I still like Alex, Approximately

Jenn Bennett is fantastic at writing romance. She manages to perfectly capture the innocence, sweetness, and self-doubt that comes with two teenagers crushing on each other, and as a result the flirtation between Bailey and Porter was spot-on. I like that Bailey and Porter’s relationship progressed slowly and organically, they start off not getting along, but that develops slowly into friendship, and then from there romantic feelings blossom. While Bailey is physically attracted to Porter right off the bat, she isn’t fixated on his looks and her feelings feel like they come from her knowing him as a person. 

Bennett is also fantastic at writing characters, and I appreciated the representation she included in her novel. Bailey feels extremely fleshed out, as do majority of the side characters. She feels like an authentic teenage voice then again I’m not a teenager, so do I really know what an authentic teenage voice is?. Bailey starts off pretty passive, and she refers to herself as an evader, but over time she learns to open up. She has to work to get out of her shell, and it doesn’t feel like an instantaneous change. I also like that the novel wasn’t wholly focused on romance, and that Bailey’s relationships with her father and with her new best friend Grace were important to the story.

My one complaint with Alex, Approximately is that it’s a bit too dramatic for my personal tastes, as I tend to prefer light and fluffy romances. Both Bailey and Porter have very dramatic backstories, and Bailey’s deals with PTSD (I don’t know how accurate this representation is). But what really didn’t work for me was Porter’s drama with his ex-friend Davey, I think this didn’t add anything to the story. As for the drama at the end of the book, I also have had an online friend who I shared an extremely meaningful relationship with, and I’m not sure how I would have reacted to Bailey’s situation. Given her age I don’t think her reaction was too out-there though, and it made sense given her personality and the situation.

Overall I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a cute, sweet romance.

Content warning: gun violence, stalking, violence

Have you read Alex, Approximately? If not, do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗