Odd and Bookish
Review
3 Stars
What The Valley Knows - Heather Christie

I received this book for free from BookLikes’ Giveaways.

This book started off really good. It reminded me a little bit of Riverdale with the whole new girl moves to a small town premise. Genre-wise, it was an interesting blend of YA and women’s fiction. There was a lot of intrigue in the beginning over what was to come.

The book was going good until the “terrible thing” happened. I really was not a fan of what it was. Then the accident happened and the book stalled after that. It never reached its full potential. All the intrigue that the first half had was missing.

Then the book kind of ended too conveniently. Everything was wrapped up super quickly and there was a lack of suspense. Basically Molly would just have flashbacks after seeing things. Not that exciting. This book could have been a great romantic suspense novel if it was fleshed out more towards the end. I think that was the main issue. It wasn’t clearly any genre so it tried to be too many. It would have been more successful if it went strictly the romantic suspense route.

Additionally, I felt like there wasn’t enough closure for the other supporting characters. In particular, I was hoping for more of a wrap up on Missi and Legs.

Another thing I did not like were the stereotypes that plagued the book. You had the unpopular band geeks, mean cheerleaders, and brainless jocks. It made the whole book feel old and outdated. It felt like a cliched 80’s movie.

Overall, the book was well written, but fell short of my expectations.

Review
3.5 Stars
Control Freakz - Michael Evans


I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

So first off this book was written by a sophomore in high school which is pretty impressive. His command of the English language is remarkable for a person his age.

When I was in high school, I could barely write a 4 page paper, let alone a full length book so I just want to say kudos to him.

 

This was definitely an interesting book. It started off a bit slow. It wasn’t until I was a hundred pages in that I got more invested in the story. There was also this weird 3 year time jump that was a bit jarring. However, by the time I reached two hundred pages, I was hooked. The book ended on a cliffhanger and it made me really want to know what happens next.

 

As for the characters, I didn’t particularly care much for any of them. Natalie was kind of annoying for most of the book. Her talk of dying got on my nerves because that was all she ever talked about. Ethan was a bit interesting, but Hunter was kind of bland. I did like Danielle because there was more to her than meets the eye.

 

What I really loved about this book was the sly political commentary that rings true today. There was one passage in particular that I loved. The book states, “what they didn’t realize, was that the one thing they were told would protect them, with their tariffs, immigration bans, and walls that separated them from the horrible outside world, was really the most dangerous thing of all. It wasn’t immigrants who came from less-developed countries who were destroying America, it was the ignorance of America itself. It wasn’t labor outsourced to other countries that caused America’s middle class to dwindle. It was the rich, corporate tyrants like President Ash himself, who owned one of the largest investment firms in the nation, that sucked the wealth away from most Americans” (41). I was not expecting to get such deep commentary from a high schooler. That was a really pleasant surprise.

 

Overall, this was a solid debut book considering the author’s age. I cannot wait to see what else he puts out in the coming years.

Reading progress update: I've read 127 out of 280 pages.
Control Freakz - Michael Evans
Review
5 Stars
Worldwide (Boy Band) (Volume 3) - Jacqueline Smith


I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

Like all the other books, this one was so good!

 

This book was filled with nonstop craziness. It was pretty much bombshell after bombshell. What happened in book two was just the tip of the iceberg. So. Much. Drama. But I loved every second of it (I’m a sucker for celebrity drama. It’s my guilty pleasure). I just couldn’t believe all the things that were happening. Much like the last 50 pages of the previous book, it was utter insanity.

 

Aside from the drama aspect, I loved Mel and Chloe’s friendship. I liked that Chloe would text Mel and check in with her whenever she heard something about the band or Mel. It was really nice seeing their friendship develop especially after their initial rocky start. I hope we see even more of her in the next book.

 

I also loved that this book focused on their tour. I loved the places they visited and the behind the scenes glimpse of what it’s like being on tour. Since I am an RVer, I can definitely relate to the small bathroom space. Those showers are tiny!

 

Overall, this was an excellent continuation of the series. I cannot wait to see how it all ends!

Review
4.5 Stars
Backstage (Boy Band) (Volume 2) - Jacqueline Smith

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

So first off, I just have to say that Jacqueline Smith wins for writing the best dedications. On her dedication page she writes, “I’ve dedicated enough books to my family and friends. This book is for my cat. And Harry Styles.” But honestly, let’s be real, enough books are dedicated to people’s family and friends. Random side note: I freaking love Harry Styles.

Okay, so back to the book. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked this, but I didn’t like it as much as the first one which is why I gave it 4.5 stars instead of 5. The reason why I didn’t like it as much was because nothing super duper exciting happened until the last 50 pages. The last 50 pages were the core of the story and they were a crazy 50 pages. Pretty much all hell broke loose and their world kind of imploded. It was insane and will definitely make you want to read the third book. That’s actually something I really like about this series; it always leaves you wanting more.

Another thing I really like about this series, especially in this book, is that it explores the intricacies of being in a boy band. Being a celebrity is one thing, but being a part of a famous group is another. There’s just so much that goes on backstage that we never see, it’s no wonder that so many of them end up going their separate ways. This book in particular really highlighted that well.

Overall, this was a great installment to the Boy Band series. I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

Review
4 Stars
Surprise Me: A Novel - Sophie Kinsella

I received this book for free through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers.

I was so excited when I found out that I won this book because I absolutely love Sophie Kinsella’s books. They are always so hilarious and so much fun. This book was no exception.

In the beginning it did start off a bit slow. It took a while for the story and the surprises to actually start, but once they did, they really took off. Many of the surprises were so hilarious, I found myself laughing out loud to myself. The scenarios were classic Sophie Kinsella.

I loved the cast of characters that surrounded Sylvie, especially her boss, Mrs. Kendrick. She was so eccentric. I also loved her friend Tilda and their friendship. Robert was another character I liked. I would have loved to seen even more him.

Of course, I loved how British this was. I’m American, but I love reading books by British authors and books that take place there. This book, like all of Kinsella’s books, had that quaint British charm. I especially loved where Sylvie worked. Willoughby House sounds like a dream.

The conclusion was really sweet. I liked seeing the evolution of both Sylvie and her marriage to Dan.

This is totally random, but when I was reading this, my mind kept drifting to something I learned in a philosophy class about Simone de Beauvoir’s idea of idolatrous love. I definitely saw some of that at play in this novel. Since I majored in philosophy, I liked that.

Overall, this is a perfect little Valentine’s Day read, especially if you are married.

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Reading progress update: I've read 178 out of 432 pages.
Surprise Me: A Novel - Sophie Kinsella
Review
4 Stars
Cinemaps: An Atlas of 35 Great Movies - Andrew DeGraff, Fredric Jameson


I received this book for free from the publisher (Quirk Books) in exchange for an honest review.

 

I really liked this book. The idea behind it is so fun! The book consists of maps from 35 different movie worlds. Some of the movies featured include, Jaws, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Clueless, and Guardians of the Galaxy. The maps are also not your typical flat ones. They are more three dimensional and are reminiscent of bus/subway maps because of the characters’ paths that run throughout them.

 

Artistically, each map is stunning, You can tell so much work was put into each one. There is so much detail in each map. It’s really amazing.

 

The essays that accompanied each map were incredibly insightful in its analysis. The essays don’t necessarily correlate to the map; they just talk about the film in general. I also really liked the writing style of the essays. They were easy to read, concise, and flowed nicely.

 

My one issue with this book is the size of the maps. Even though they take up a whole page, the maps are still too small to fully appreciate. Some parts are made bigger which helps, but it’s still not enough to gain the entire experience. You would need a magnifying glass to see all the little details. In person, the maps would be glorious, but in the book they fall a bit flat.

 

Together, the essays and the maps create a beautiful coffee table book that will make you want to re-watch the movies featured.

Reading progress update: I've read 95 out of 160 pages.
Cinemaps: An Atlas of 35 Great Movies - Andrew DeGraff, Fredric Jameson
Review
5 Stars
Secret Lives of the First Ladies: What Your Teachers Never Told You About the Women of the White House - Monika Suteski, Cormac O'Brien


I received this book for free from the publisher (Quirk Books) in exchange for an honest review.

I loved this book! I love history, especially when it comes to topics that are not talked about much. So naturally, this book was right up on my alley.

This edition of the book features profiles of all the First Ladies, including the most recent one, Melania Trump. It gives a short biography about each First Lady and her time in the White House, as well as some fun facts and stories. There are also some fun illustrations (which I loved).

My biggest takeaway from this was that so many of the First Ladies had tragic lives. Many of them were upset and cried when their husbands became president. A lot of them had to endure a bunch of bad stuff (absent husbands, children dying, health problems, long travels, etc.) to help their husbands get to the White House. I had no idea that this was the reality for a majority of them. Their lives were not as glamorous as some may have thought.

Hardly anyone ever talks about the First Ladies (especially the earlier ones) so it was really insightful to learn more about them. They deserve more recognition than they get.

Overall, if you want a fun little history lesson on the First Ladies, then look no further, this book is for you!

Reading progress update: I've read 154 out of 352 pages.
Secret Lives of the First Ladies: What Your Teachers Never Told You About the Women of the White House - Monika Suteski, Cormac O'Brien
Review
4.5 Stars
Basic Witches: How to Summon Success, Banish Drama, and Raise Hell with Your Coven - Jess Zimmerman, Jaya Saxena

I received this book for free from the publisher (Quirk Books) in exchange for an honest review.

 

I’ve been wanting to read this book for the longest time. I’ve been very interested in witches and witchcraft since I read the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and watched the Craft and the Love Witch (I really recommend this movie if you haven’t already seen it).

 

Please be advised that this book doesn’t feature “real” witchcraft that Wiccans would use, so if you are looking for that, then I would suggest looking elsewhere. Like most of the books Quirk Books publishes, this is more fun than it is serious. Instead this book takes the spirit of witchcraft and combines them with the ideas of feminism and turns it into a self help book.

 

From the self help point of view, I found all the chapters to be really empowering and useful. I could definitely see people actually doing some of these rituals. The rituals/spells were all about your mind and how you view situations.

 

One of my favorite things about this book were the historical sidebars about witches. I always love learning little historical tidbits.

 

The only thing I didn’t like was that there wasn’t a concluding chapter. I have a thing about nonfiction books and conclusions. I hate it when they just end, without any sort of wrap up. I would have loved to have seen some final words from the authors.

 

Overall, if you are looking for a fun and different self help book, or want to dabble in witchcraft without going full on Wiccan, then definitely check this book out.

Review
5 Stars
Day - Jessica Florence

 

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

I have to admit, at first I wasn’t loving Leon and Lilith. Leon was a jerk and Lilith was a bit too crazy. However, after getting to know them and their stories, I loved them. Lilith ended up being a total bad ass and Leon just needed a wake up call. I don’t know if I love them as much as Rose and Draco (because they are the cutest couple on the planet) but I still liked them together. They brought out the best in each other and their personalities worked well.

AJ continues to one of my favorites. We’re slowly learning more about him and his history and all I can say is, I need more! He’s such a precious little cinnamon roll.

 

In terms of the overarching storyline, things are definitely getting interesting! I’m really curious to see how everything all plays out because it seems like we’re only just getting started and that everyone is all connected in some way. There’s definitely something big coming for sure!

 

Once again, the playlist was on point. Two of my favorite songs at the moment (“Havana by Camila Cabello and “Whatever it Takes” by Imagine Dragons) were on it, so of course I loved it.

 

Overall, this was a superb installment to the Hero Society series. I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Review
5 Stars
Dawn (Hero Society Book 1) - Jessica Florence

 

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

I loved this but that’s not surprise considering that I love superheroes and I love romance. Give me a book with both and of course I’ll love it!

 

This was a really good start to the series. I always love the whole concept of heroes getting together to fight the bad guys. I will never not love that.

 

The two main characters, Draco and Rose, were amazing. They had a ton of chemistry and overall made a really cute couple. Draco reminded me a bit of the Wolverine because he was such a recluse. He was so manly, like damn, I want a piece of that too. Rose, looks-wise, reminded me of Dove Cameron (who I have a massive celebrity crush on). I loved that despite being a virgin, Rose was very open and comfortable about her sexuality, because not all virgins are clueless about sex.

 

The supporting characters were great as well, especially AJ. I can’t wait to see more of his character.

 

Story-wise, this book was incredibly fast paced, I had a hard time putting it down!

 

Additionally, I loved that it included a playlist. I love it when books include playlists

because I like matching up songs to different parts of the books. Some of the songs on the playlist are some of my favorites like “Believer” by Imagine Dragons and “Wings” by Birdy.

 

Overall, if you love superheroes and romance, you’ll definitely love this! I can’t wait to start reading the next one!

Review
5 Stars
Trashy Romance Novel - Jacqueline Smith


I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

This was the third book I read by this author and so far it’s my favorite.

 

So basically I loved everything about this book. Even the dedication page. Smith writes, “Dedicated also to all of my celebrity crushes. Here’s hoping that none of them ever read it.” I literally laughed out loud when I read that.

 

I loved the fangirl aspect of Delaney. It made her so relatable, especially the whole writing fan fiction about your celebrity crush thing. Because yes, I have done that too. Many times. About multiple celebrities.

 

Moving on, I loved the friendship between Delaney and Gemma. They balanced each other out nicely.

 

The guys in this book were absolutely swoon worthy. Colin and Benjamin were both really hot but also really sweet, which is just the perfect combination.

 

I enjoyed how the author referenced her other works, Boy Band and Cemetery Tours. Those were really fun Easter eggs to find.

 

There was one quote I really liked. It’s when Delaney is exploring a castle and she says, “I’m thinking about magic. Not the fairy tale kind of magic…but the magic that we, as humans, typically overlook. Because it’s everywhere. It exists in everything. It exists in books and in castles, in forests and in mountains. It guards secrets and guides spirits and reassures time and time again that there is more to our existence than we could ever hope to know” (281-282). I just thought that was a really nice reminder to stop every once and while and just appreciate the vast world around us.

 

As I was reading this, I couldn’t help but think that this would make a great romantic comedy movie. It has all the ingredients. A funny yet relatable lead. A sassy sidekick. Drop dead gorgeous guys. A stunning location. Just picture it.

 

Overall, I have nothing but good things to say about this book. If you like rom-coms, you’ll love this.