In at the Deep End by Kate Davies

A wonderful tale of a woman’s sexual awakening. It’s equal parts raunchy, funny, and genuine.

DESCRIPTION:

A fresh, funny, audacious debut novel about a Bridget Jones–like twenty-something who discovers that she may have simply been looking for love — and, ahem, pleasure — in all the wrong places (aka: from men)

Julia hasn’t had sex in three years. Her roommate has a boyfriend—and their sex noises are audible through the walls, maybe even throughout the neighborhood. Not to mention, she’s treading water in a dead-end job, her know-it-all therapist gives her advice she doesn’t ask for, and the men she is surrounded by are, to be polite, subpar. Enough is enough.

So when Julia gets invited to a warehouse party in a part of town where “trendy people who have lots of sex might go on a Friday night”—she readily accepts. Whom she meets there, however, is surprising: a conceptual artist, also a woman.

Julia’s sexual awakening begins; her new lesbian life, as she coins it, is exhilarating. She finds her tribe at queer swing dancing classes, and guided by her new lover Sam, she soon discovers London’s gay bars and BDSM clubs, and . . . the complexities of polyamory. Soon it becomes clear that Sam needs to call the shots, and Julia’s newfound liberation comes to bear a suspicious resemblance to entrapment . . . 

In at the Deep End is an unforgettably frank, funny, and racy odyssey through the pitfalls and seductions we encounter on the treacherous—and more often, absurd—path to love and self.

     – Goodreads


Genre(s):
Women’s Fiction, Contemporary, LGBTQIA+

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Expected Publication Date: June.4.2019

*Thank you Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing an ARC through a Goodreads Giveaway. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW: 

Julia, the protagonist, embraces her new lesbian identity and never looks back. She is very quickly introduced to BDSM and polyamory and tries to determine whether either is for her. She falls head over heels for her new girlfriend Sam, an artist. 

I absolutely loved this book. The writing is full of quips and humor. And at first glance, you get the impression everything is happy/go-lucky. But Davies subtly brings in real relationship issues and does a superb job of handling it. 

Julia is an interesting character. She is smart, anxious, and open. Watching her character develop was a journey. One I would gladly go on again. 

RATING: 4/5 stars

RECOMMEND: YES! Just keep in mind it’s sexually graphic haha 😉

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE! 😀

Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

A lovely, romantic tale featuring horrid first impressions, a Bollywood-style wedding, and so much more! 

DESCRIPTION:


A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.

Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.

Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself. 

     – Goodreads

Genre(s): Romance, Fiction, Contemporary, Retelling

Publisher: Berkley Books

Expected Publication Date: June.4.2019

*Thank you First to Read for providing an ARC in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW:

 As far as Pride and Prejudice retellings go, this is a fairly decent one. If you’re familiar with the original, then its easy to see the parallels between the two. Which isn’t a bad thing. It was entertaining trying to figure out how the big plot points of the original would unfold. Besides, there were moments where I was so completely engrossed, that I forgot it was a retelling! 

What I particularly liked was the dual viewpoint. We see what Ayesha is up to, how she feels, we understand her. We also get Khalid’s view! So his horrible first proposal? Completely makes sense because we’ve come to see how and why he acts the way he does. 

A big part of this story weaves religion (Islam) into the narrative. Both Ayesha and Khalid are devout Muslims, which is crucial to the way they interact with one another. I really liked how that was explored. 

The overall tone of the story is pretty upbeat and light-hearted. But there are moments where things got really real. It is a modern-day retelling so prejudice towards Muslims does appear. The way it was handled is important. Especially as hatred spreads through our society like wildfire. 

One thing I did not like? Lydia’s (okay, that’s not her name in this book, but I am not spoiling the story by telling you who she is) happily ever after. Ugh! Why?? She’s so annoying! :/

RATING: 3.5/5 stars

RECOMMEND? Yes! This is such a refreshing take on a classic tale. Plus, that cover! Googly heart eyes forever ❤

2019: Week 21 Reading Roundup

Sunday.May.19 – Saturday.May.25

AKA: Honor a veteran and remember the sacrifice of those no longer with us ❤

FINISHED READING: 5

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

​A quick audiobook listen. Written in verse, the book is an incredibly relatable story of Xiomara, a teen girl in New York. The hype is real! [5*]

Travels With Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck

​Steinbeck and his dog, Charley, embarked on a cross-country trip across America. It’s beautifully perceptive. [3.5*]

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (read by Philip Franklin)

​A cautionary tale. At least, that’s the way I choose to interpret it. A young man wanders off to the Alaskan wild. Months later his emaciated body is found by a hunter. What happened, and why did he leave everything behind? [3.5*]

Native Son by Richard Wright

​Societal critique with overt Communist ideals. It’s graphic and harrowing. This book is a lot. [3.5*]

In at the Deep End by Kate Davies

​Sexually explicit, but oh so good haha! [RTC]

CURRENTLY READING: 1

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

Currently 42% through the audiobook. It’s, um, interesting. 

UPCOMING READ: 1

I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan

I need a horror book in my life right now haha

BOOK HAUL: 1

Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Won this in a Goodreads Giveaway! I waited almost 2 months for this book to arrive. Can’t wait to finally read it! 

PUBLISHED POST(S): 1

Let’s Get Personal: Mental Health Month

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE! 😀

How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox

A haunting story of one young woman’s struggle to stay sane. A perfect read for Mental Health Month!



DESCRIPTION:

Biz knows how to float. She has her people, her posse, her mom and the twins. She has Grace. And she has her dad, who tells her about the little kid she was, who loves her so hard, and who shouldn’t be here but is. So Biz doesn’t tell anyone anything. Not about her dark, runaway thoughts, not about kissing Grace or noticing Jasper, the new boy. And she doesn’t tell anyone about her dad. Because her dad died when she was six. And Biz knows how to float, right there on the surface–normal okay regular fine.

But after what happens on the beach–first in the ocean, and then in the sand–the tethers that hold Biz steady come undone. Dad disappears, and with him, all comfort. It might be easier, better, sweeter to float all the way away? Or maybe stay a little longer, find her father, bring him back to her. Or maybe–maybe maybe maybe–there’s a third way Biz just can’t see yet. 

Debut author Helena Fox tells a story about love and grief, about inter-generational mental illness, and how living with it is both a bridge to someone loved and lost and, also, a chasm. She explores the hard and beautiful places loss can take us, and honors those who hold us tightly when the current wants to tug us out to sea.
     – Goodreads

Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health

Publisher: Penguin Teen

Expected Publication Date: May.7.2019

*Thank you BookishFirst for providing an ARC in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW:

This is a great book. The story, set in Australia, is so relevant and relatable. Biz can’t control her thoughts. At times, they get the better of her. As her mental health begins to unravel, we get a firsthand look at how she experiences the world. 

What I really liked about this story was how accurate the portrayal of mental illness is. Biz’s thoughts, feelings, and actions, are authentic. And you just don’t read about it, you feel it. The writing mimics the unwinding of Biz’s thoughts. This style has triggered me before and I was worried that this book would do the same. Thankfully, it didn’t. So I was able to enjoy this read somewhat at ease. But it just goes to show how incredibly well-written, and lyrical this novel is. 

The book delves into aspects of inter-generational mental illness. It does this in a subtle way. As the reader only becomes aware of it as Biz begins to learn about it herself. And it’s something that Biz struggles with. We see the effects of it throughout the novel.

In a nutshell, this an emotional journey. It is a book about loss and grief, first love, family/support. And a story that leaves you with many questions. As a reader, I was left wondering whether Biz’s experiences were real or imagined. Once again reinforcing the idea, that mental illness isn’t as clear-cut as it seems.

A beautiful book. 

RATING: 4/5 stars

RECOMMEND? YES! Especially if you enjoyed Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman! (The writing styles are similar).

2019: Week 18 Reading Roundup

 Sunday.April.28 – Saturday.May.4

AKA: Another good reading week!


FINISHED READING
: 5

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

​Love Morgan Matson!!! Her books are just so feel-good reads. In this story, we have Charlie, the youngest of 5 trying to get her older sister’s wedding back on track after disaster after disaster threaten to ruin the day. Family dysfunction and family love take center stage in this book. It’s unbelievably hectic, and wild and I enjoyed every second of it (even if Charlie did annoy me sometimes). [4*]

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (read by Jim Dale)

​A beautiful and magical tale. One of my absolute favorites. Loved the audiobook! [5*]

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

​A coming-of-age story told through various short stories/vignettes. It’s a beautifully written, quick read. Esperanza (the MC) reminded me of a young me. [4*]

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

OMG!! This book is so damn HILARIOUS!! The stories are ridiculous, and Lawson’s recounting is the best thing ever. I really enjoyed everything she had to say about mental illness. Recommend the audiobook!! [5*]

The Wrong Mother (Spilling CID #3) by Sophie Hannah

​Do not read this as a standalone! You’ll just be as confused as I was. I had no idea it was part of a series. So while I was trying to solve the main mystery, I was also trying to figure out what was going on between all these detectives. The mystery itself is actually really well done. I was a little shocked by the denouement (in a good way). [3.5*]

CURRENTLY READING: 2

Farewell, My Lovely (Philip Marlowe #2) by Raymond Chandler

My goal is to read the whole Philip Marlowe series. I’m about a quarter of the way through this read and while I am enjoying it, it feels a bit… different from The Big Sleep

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Okay, I barely started this book last night so I’m not that far into it yet. But first impression: the MC runs a blog!!! #relatable haha

UPCOMING READ: 1

Audiobook! Which one? Idk. Nothing is really calling to me right now…


IN OTHER NEWS:
 

Today is Cinco de Mayo. So if you want to go and get drunk? Go ahead! Just don’t use this “holiday” as an excuse (especially if it has absolutely nothing to do with your culture i.e. non-Mexican). Seriously. Don’t wear fake mustaches. Don’t wear a sombrero. It’s just plain wrong. Stop appropriating a historical event that has nothing to do with you. For the record, I’m Latina, not Mexican. So I will not be celebrating the Battle of Puebla. Because again, I am not Mexican. And if you’re not either, then you know what NOT to do. 

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE! 😀

2019: Week 15 Reading Roundup

Sunday.April.7 – Saturday.April.13

(AKA: The week I fell behind on writing ARC book reviews smh)

FINISHED READING: 3

Puddin’ (Dumplin’ #2) by Julie Murphy

​Just as amazing as Dumplin’. I loved the writing. I loved the way female friendship is portrayed. I loved all the diversity. I loved getting to know Millie and Callie. I loved this book! I want more books within this beautiful universe!!! [4*]

How It Feels to Float
by Helena Fox

​About a teenage girl struggling with her mental health after the death of her father many years before. Really liked this book. RTC! (Eventually…)

As Kismet Would Have It
by Sandhya Menon

​A short story sequel to When Dimple Met Rishi. Honestly, it was pointless. But I still liked it more than the actual book lmao [3*

CURRENTLY READING: 3

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

Still making my way through this as part of a 30-Day buddy read on Instagram. About 53% through and it still hasn’t really hooked me. The husband’s secret is scandalous though…

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

This audiobook is long but so good! It’s a nice crash course on early U.S. History. I am about 47% of the way through and absolutely enjoying it. Just worried my OverDrive loan will expire before I finish listening to it…

Del amor y otros demonios (Of Love and Other Demons) by Gabriel García Márquez

My monthly spanish read. I am completely invested in this little girl’s story but am really finding the language difficult. Whomp, whomp. 56% done. 

UPCOMING READ

No clue!

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE! 😀

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

This book was so much more than what I expected! Loved it! Some serious gushing will ensue… 



DESCRIPTION:

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love. 

     – Goodreads

Genre(s): Romance, Contemporary, Fiction

Publisher:
Berkley

Expected Publication Date:
May.7.2019

*Thank you First to Read for providing an ARC in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW:

Esme is a single mother in Vietnam when she meets an older woman that wants her to fly to America and woo her son, Khai. Esme sees this as an opportunity at a chance at a better life for her family so she agrees to do it. Upon meeting Khai, she realizes that he is a bit strange. When he tells her that he is autistic, she doesn’t really understand what that means. In the span of two months, Esme and Khai have to figure out whether they can form a lasting, loving relationship.

I absolutely adored this book!! Esme is unlike any character I’ve ever encountered before. She is a strong mother. Her every thought and action is dedicated towards giving her daughter a better life. In the States, she works hard. Not only at her waitressing job, but at her studies. She takes every single opportunity to better herself. #empowering

The story itself is also fascinating. It’s a lot of “will they or won’t they”. Once you get to understand the characters, you root for them. I mean, Khai (the love interest) is just so perfect. (Although I’d probably take his tatted up older brother 😉 ) . He’s incredibly smart, kind, and movie star handsome. What’s not to love? There were also a few juicy parts in the story that had me swooning haha.

The ending was super rushed and felt a bit off. But overall, this is a fantastic read!!!

RATING: 4.5/5 stars

RECOMMEND? YES!! To romance lovers and anyone looking for a feel-good read.

The Book of Dreams by Nina George

Sobbing. I am sobbing my eyes out. My goodness this book is beautiful.

DESCRIPTION:

Warm, wise, and magical–the latest novel by the bestselling author of THE LITTLE PARIS BOOKSHOP and THE LITTLE FRENCH BISTRO is an astonishing exploration of the thresholds between life and death
 
Henri Skinner is a hardened ex-war reporter on the run from his past. On his way to see his son, Sam, for the first time in years, Henri steps into the road without looking and collides with oncoming traffic. He is rushed to a nearby hospital where he floats, comatose, between dreams, reliving the fairytales of his childhood and the secrets that made him run away in the first place.

After the accident, Sam–a thirteen-year old synesthete with an IQ of 144 and an appetite for science fiction–waits by his father’s bedside every day. There he meets Eddie Tomlin, a woman forced to confront her love for Henri after all these years, and twelve-year old Madelyn Zeidler, a coma patient like Henri and the sole survivor of a traffic accident that killed her family. As these four very different individuals fight–for hope, for patience, for life–they are bound together inextricably, facing the ravages of loss and first love side by side.

A revelatory, urgently human story that examines what we consider serious and painful alongside light and whimsy, THE BOOK OF DREAMS is a tender meditation on memory, liminality, and empathy, asking with grace and gravitas what we will truly find meaningful in our lives once we are gone.

     – Goodreads


Genre(s):
Fiction, Contemporary

Publisher:
Crown Publishing Group (NY)

Expected Publication Date:
April.9.2019

*Thank you First To Read for providing an ARC in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW:

A few years ago I read The Little Paris Bookshop because I found the cover to be gorgeous and the synopsis intrigued me. Boy, was I not prepared for the journey I went on haha. Nina George has this remarkable way of getting you to think about existential questions. That book changed my life. It put everything into perspective for me and helped me through my healing process. 

This book is just as impactful. Sam, Henri, Madelyn, and Edwina’s lives intertwine in a most unexpected way. This novel focuses on life, death, and everything in between as Henri and Madelyn are both coma patients in the same hospital. And surprisingly, they also exist in the same in-between state. We get the viewpoints of all 4 characters thus giving us an interesting, and profound perspective on everything. It’s a soulful, heartbreaking, oddly uplifting novel.  

The writing is lyrical. Everything I’ve come to expect from Nina George. The story tugs on your heartstrings just enough to get you wondering about dreams and what they are. About what happens after death. What, if anything, do we take with us? 

RATING: 4.75/5 stars

RECOMMEND? YES! If you’re ready to experience an existential crisis and/or bawl your eyes out, then this is the book for you!

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

An emotional rollercoaster. Funny, Depressing, Realistic. Queenie is a book not to be missed!



DESCRIPTION:

NAMED ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2019 BY WOMAN’S DAY, NEWSDAY, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, BUSTLE, AND BOOK RIOT!

“[B]rilliant, timely, funny, heartbreaking.” —Jojo Moyes, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You

Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah in this disarmingly honest, boldly political, and truly inclusive novel that will speak to anyone who has gone looking for love and found something very different in its place.

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world.

     – Goodreads

Genre(s): Fiction, Contemporary

Publisher:
Gallery Books

Expected Publication Date:
March.19.2019

*Thank you BookishFirst, Gallery Books and the Candice Carty-Williams for providing an ARC in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW:

This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. As soon as I saw the cover and read the synopsis, I was hooked. I used my BookishFirst points to claim a copy and I’m so glad I did!

Now, I’m not going to lie. At first, Queenie got on my nerves. Her actions were so irresponsible that I couldn’t bring myself to like her. But that all quickly changed once I realized what was happening. It clicked in my head: #IAmQueenie

Let’s rewind a little bit. Twenty-five year old Queenie and her boyfriend, Tom, have decided to take a break (or at least she believes) and reevaluate their relationship in a few months’ time. During that period, Queenie’s life begins to unravel. She engages in unsafe sexual encounters with awful men, puts her job and career at risk, and ultimately has a breakdown causing her to move in with her grandparents. 

Yeah, a lot is going on in Queenie’s life and she knows something is wrong with her mentally but doesn’t really do anything to help herself until it all gets to be a bit much. I found this aspect to be completely relatable. Because, hello! I had a mental breakdown around the same age and wound up in the hospital diagnosed with an anxiety order and depression. All of Queenie’s physical symptoms? Yeah, I experienced those too. Breathing exercises, color counting? Yup, done those too. 

Queenie has this incredible strength though. She has a great group of friends (the Corgis) and family willing to support her. Going on this journey with her was an experience. At times I wanted to slap her and yell “what are you doing”?! But at the end of the day, I understand her. She didn’t breakdown because of the breakup. That was her triggering point. It was the culmination of many things over the years that broke her. 

This book is about a great many things. Black Lives Matter. Body positivity. Mental Illness. The list goes on. Yet, the book is never preachy. Queenie would never do that. She is real about her world. Honest about her life and experiences. She is trying to figure out who she is in a society that doesn’t always accept her. On some level, we are all Queenie. 

 

RATING:
4.5/5 stars

RECOMMEND? YES! A must-read for all women. A phenomenal narrative on intersectional feminism.

December 2018 Audiobooks

December was a disappointing month in terms of audiobooks. None of these listens really blew me away. 

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

I’ve always found this book to be a bit intimidating. Not because of it’s length, but because of the story. Granted, my knowledge of said story only extended as far as knowing Oliver is an orphan that is punished for daring to ask for more food. That’s it. That’s all I knew. And that premise has never caught my attention.
 
But, I wanted to check this classic off my list so I audiobooked it. And… while it wasn’t what I was expecting, I still only feel “meh” about it. 

Dickens has a way to of bringing the drab, dirty city alive. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed about his writing. And his characters! They all vary from one to the next. Although Oliver’s childish innocence reminded me of a young Pip. Anyway, the writing is great, the characters are interesting, the narration was on point, and yet I didn’t really care for the story. Hm.

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking

This book first came to my attention when my book twin Morgana @Morganas Book Box reviewed it. Now, I need to learn how to be happier so of course this book quickly went onto my TBR. When the audiobook became available on OverDrive, I jumped at the chance to listen to it. 

The main point I got from this book: comfort is key. The Danish embrace comfort on a whole other level. Candles, books, food. Anything can be Hygge if it makes you calm and relaxed. Seems simple enough to do. 

It was a quick, fairly interesting read. As an introvert, Wiking’s description of Hygge sounds like a beautiful dream. I’m not a writer, so I can’t really put it into words. But. If you read this book, then you’ll figure out what I mean 😉

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides 

I thought the concept of this book was interesting. A college love triangle where the girl in the middle (Madeleine) is writing her thesis on the marriage plot found within Romantic and Victorian novels. But it fell completely flat for me.

My biggest gripe is how utterly pretentious this book is. Dropping author names left and right and expounding their ideas. So you know who Marquis de Sade and Cheever are. Kudos to you, sir. 

I think this book is designed to be read and appreciated by a certain group of people (i.e. English majors and people who thoroughly enjoy discussing literary themes). Me, I don’t like to overthink books. So I didn’t like this book. 

The only reason I gave this book 2 stars on Goodreads: Leonard. He is one of Madeleine’s love interests. He is also a manic depressive. I thought his representation was fairly done so I bumped my rating up. Other than that. Nope. Couldn’t stand listening to this book.

Recommend? Only to fans of The Secret History

Favorite listen? Definitely The Little Book of Hygge. A great little book from the CEO of The Happiness Institute. Plus, I found his voice to be so soothing!