Odd and Bookish
Review
3 Stars
Poetical Veering - Tanya A Bailey

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

 

This was an interesting collection of poetry. I liked aspects of it, but as a whole it fell a bit flat to me.

 

First off, the collection is divided into 4 chapters based on type of poem (Haikus, Tankas, Lune, and Senryu). It would have been more effective if they were broken into chapters thematically rather than by style. It have helped the collection be more cohesive. 

 

 

As for the poems themselves, they weren’t my cup of tea. I understand the vibe the author was going for, but it just didn’t resonate with me. A lot of the poems felt disjointed like I didn’t quite get what they were trying to convey. However, I did like the ones I did understand. 

 

For example, this is one of the haikus I liked:

 

The unity of us

 

Our humanity

Seeks and identifies that 

We need each other

 

Lastly, since the collection is organized by style, the poems got repetitive. The haiku chapter was the longest and it got a bit boring reading haiku after haiku. It would have been better if there was more variety in terms of style. 

 

Overall, this was an intriguing collection, but it just didn’t click with me. 

Review
3.5 Stars
My Plain Jane - Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows, Cynthia Hand

I received an ARC of this book for free as part of BookSparks’ YA Summer Reading Challenge.

 

I was so excited to read this book, but it ended up being not quite what I was expecting. I love Jane Eyre (it’s one of my favorite classics) and I expected a fun retelling. I kind of got that, but at the same time kind of didn’t.

 

Also I just want to throw it out there that I have never read My Lady Jane, so I can’t say how it compares to that book. 

 

I enjoyed the Jane Eyre aspects of the book a lot. I loved seeing the new takes on classic Jane Eyre scenes and characters. Those were a lot of fun.

 

I also loved the commentary and the little pop culture references, especially the Mary Poppins nanny one in the beginning. 

 

 

However, I wasn’t a huge fan of the ghost hunting storyline. It was a bit much and overtook most of the story. It could have been cut down.

 

The beginning was also a bit slow. It took a while for the story to really get going.

 

As for the characters, I liked having both Jane and Charlotte’s perspectives. But I really didn’t care much for Alexander. I was never that excited to read his parts. 

 

Overall, I wanted less ghostbusters and more epic gothic romance. 

Review
4 Stars
I Am More Than a Daydream - Jennae Cecelia

I received this book for free through a complimentary Pressed Poet box. Pressed Poet is a poetry subscription box. 

 

I liked this collection of poetry as a whole, but I didn’t like it as much as her other collection, Uncaged Wallflower. I related to that collection a whole lot more than this one. Uncaged Wallflower really spoke to me on a personal level. There weren’t as many poems in this collection that made me feel that way. 

 

This book felt a lot like a Rupi Kaur or an Amanda Lovelace book. Many of the poems were in the same realm as theirs, so this collection didn’t feel as fresh and new as Uncaged Wallflower did. But if you like that kind of poetry (like I do), then you’ll probably like this book. 

 

The overall themes of this book were great. They were super positive and feminist and I really liked that. The little illustrations were a nice touch too.  

 

All in all, if you’re looking for a less known poetry collection similar to Amanda Lovelace or Rupi Kaur, then pick this book up! 

 

Review
5 Stars
Uncaged Wallflower - Jennae Cecelia
I received this book for free through a complimentary Pressed Poet box. Pressed Poet is a poetry subscription box.

This collection of poems was so on point. I related to so many of the poems especially since many of them spoke to how my life currently is. I’m at this transition point in my life and a lot of these poems have definitely helped me with my outlook on life. They inspired me to be more bold and to step out of my comfort zone.
 


Some of my favorite poems were, “No More Tomorrow,” “The Best,” “Change,” “Comfort Zone,” and “Change is Inevitable.”

I loved the way the poems were written. They are written in that Instagram poet style that some people love and some people hate (I happen to love it). They kind of reminded me of the poems I write (which aren’t nearly as good as Jennae’s) so they felt very familiar.

Overall, this is an inspiring collection of contemporary poems.

 

Review
4 Stars
The Proposal - Jasmine Guillory

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

 

Please note that I have not read The Wedding Date, so all the characters in this book were brand new to me. I also cannot speak to how this book compares with that book. 

 

It took me forever to read this book because I just started law school, but this was such a fun romance! 

 

First off, I loved the diversity! The main character is black. One of her friends is a plus sized Korean American. The other is a black lesbian. The love interest is Latino. It was just so refreshing to see and read about, especially since the book takes place in Los Angeles which is so diverse. 

 

The premise of being proposed to at a baseball game (if only it wasn’t a Dodgers game- Go Giants!) and saying no was so creative and fun. I could picture this being turned into a great rom-com movie. 

 

I also loved the overall vibe of the book. It felt very LA. Like when I was reading it, I could totally tell that it was LA and I felt like I was there with the characters. 

 

The romance was really good as well. Nik and Carlos made a great couple. I loved their interactions, especially the ones with Carlos’s family. His family is the best. 

 

The ending for me fell a little flat which is why I gave this 4 stars. It ended quickly and I wished that it would have been fleshed out more. 

 

Overall, this was an enjoyable diverse romance! 

 

 

Review
5 Stars
How to Keep a Secret - Sarah Morgan

I received this book for free from the publisher (Harlequin) as part of their bookstagram publicity campaign. 

 

I loved this book!

 

A blurb on the back of the book from fellow author, Jill Shalvis, describes this book as being “Jane Green meets Sophie Kinsella.” I haven’t read anything by Jane Green but I definitely got a few Sophie Kinsella vibes from this (I love Sophie Kinsella if you didn’t already know). One of the characters, Lauren, lives in London at the beginning of the book, which reminds me a lot of Sophie’s characters. 

 

A large part of this book are the secrets and the fallouts that happen when they get revealed and I thought they were handled perfectly. I loved how the secrets were revealed one at a time. They were spaced out nicely and woven throughout the story.

 

 

This book is about three generations of women, which is a trope I love reading about and it was very well executed. All the women were fleshed out and felt real. I liked that we are given all 4 perspectives because that allows you to really get to know the characters and their feelings. I know some people had issues with the perspective changes but I didn’t have any issue with it and didn’t find it confusing.

 

There is romance, but the main focus of the book are the familial relationships, and I liked how the romance didn’t overshadow that. There was a nice balance between the two. 

 

Overall, this was a wonderful piece of women’s fiction with a lot of heart and romance. 

Reading progress update: I've read 233 out of 432 pages.
How to Keep a Secret - Sarah Morgan
Review
3.5 Stars
But Not Forever - Joy Schleh

I received an ARC of this book for free as part of BookSparks’ YA Summer Reading Challenge.

 

This was a fun and fast read. It wasn’t super intricate but it was still enjoyable.

 

I loved the characters, especially the side characters like Kerry (she was the best!) and Sonnet’s cousins. 

 

The ending was really good. I didn’t quite know how it was going to end but I loved the reveal that happened. I was on the fence about this book while I was reading it, but the ending tipped me over and made me decide that I liked the book. 

 

 

As for the things I didn’t like, there were a few things I wasn’t huge fan of. The first being that the book read a little too juvenile for my taste. The characters are 15 and 16 but the writing style felt very middle grade. 

 

Second, there really was no explanation at all for the time travel aspect. That didn’t bother me a lot, but I still would have lot to have seen more depth to it. How it happened still remains a mystery. 

 

Lastly, two of Sonnet’s cousins were half Filipino and half white (just like me!), and I wish there would have been more done with their heritage, since Filipinos hardly get any representation. I knew it probably wasn’t going to happen, but I kept hoping that there would be some sort of nod to Filipino culture in the book.

 

Overall, while this book wasn’t 100% perfect, it was still an entertaining read. 

Review
3.5 Stars
Bitter Orange  - Claire Fuller

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Tin House Books) in exchange for an honest review. 

 

The best part of this book is the atmosphere that Claire Fuller creates with her prose. This book gave me the creeps which I wast totally not expecting. It was so eerie and I got a haunted house vibe from it at times. Fuller uses lush language to create an astonishing portrait of a crumbling English countryside mansion. She really makes the setting come alive and gives it a character of its own. 

 

As for the storyline, I didn’t find it to be as twisty as I had expected it to be. Some of the blurb reviews on the back made it seem like it was going to be shocking but it ended up being more subdued. The twists are more blink and you’ll miss rather than in your face. 

 

The three main characters were all very fascinating. They were all very nuanced and well crafted. However, I didn’t feel like I really got to fully know who Cara and Peter really were. I was waiting for a big a-ha moment to come but it never really happened. I’m still left with a lot questions about their relationship and what really happened between them. 

 

Overall, this was a gorgeously written novel with dynamic characters, a stunning setting and an intriguing mystery.

Review
4 Stars
Caleb's Window - John J. Siefring

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

 

Going into this, I had no idea what to expect since it was a self published book and this type of book can go either way. But luckily I ended up really enjoying it. 

 

I loved the characters. Cara’s strength, determination, and compassion for others was inspiring. I loved how cheeky Caleb was as a teenager. 

 

I liked how the story was woven together and started at one point in time but went backwards to show how they got to that point. 

 

The book was also very well written which made it so easy to read. It took me a while to read this book because I was in the middle of moving, but one night when I wasn’t busy I managed to fly through 100 pages. 

 

The one thing I didn’t like was how fast Caleb’s part was. I would have loved for his story to have been fleshed out more and given the same attention and time as Cara’s story because I found his to be just as compelling. His story went by lightning fast and I wanted to spend a little bit more time with him. Additionally, Caleb grew up during a very interesting time period so there would have been a lot to explore. 

 

This doesn’t have anything to do with the story, but this book probably had the best Acknowledgments page I’ve read recently. The author didn’t thank anyone specifically, but instead gave the reasons why he didn’t. It was subtly hilarious. 

 

Overall, this was a wonderful historical fiction novel about a mother and her son and the struggles they face in life. 

 

Review
4 Stars
Mammoth - Jill Baguchinsky

 

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Turner Publishing) in exchange for an honest review. 

 

This was a super fun and cute read! 

 

I loved the unique point of view. A plus sized fashion blogger who loves paleontology is something we don’t see often. I enjoyed reading her view point and seeing the world through her eyes. It was a unique perspective that I found refreshing.  

 

I enjoyed the little Look of the Day pictures and blog posts that are mixed in at the beginning of some chapters. They were cute and added a nice touch. 

 

I thought the romance was very adorable. I was happy with who she ended up with in the end. I was shipping them from the very beginning. 

 

The one thing I didn’t like was how annoying the main character, Natalie, got in the second half of the book. She started making one stupid decision after another. A lot of the problems she had were caused by making bad decisions and she would try to solve the problem by making more bad decisions. It ended up being a chain of bad decisions and it frustrated me. But aside from this, I still liked the plot overall. 

 

Overall, this was a unique young adult novel full of paleontology fun, a dash of funky fashion, and a sprinkle of romance.

Review
5 Stars
The War Outside - Monica Hesse

I received an ARC of this book for free from TheNovl in exchange for an honest review. Since I received an ARC, my quotes from the book are tentative. 

 

Last month I read a different YA novel about German American internment and was beyond disappointed by it. When I saw that TheNovl was offering a chance to read and review this book I jumped at the opportunity. Thankfully, The War Outside was a million times better than that other book I read.

 

This book was so heart wrenching and emotional. There was one incident towards the end that gave me chills and goosebumps. 

 

I loved the dual perspectives and how well the author put you into each girl’s shoes. I also enjoyed the author’s writing style. It flowed easily and sucked you into the story. 

 

I’m glad that the book showed both Japanese American and German American internment. I particularly liked that it discussed how being called the enemy was different for each group. At one point Haruko tells Margot, “I’m so sorry…that your father had to wake up and realize that you had become the enemy overnight. But a least you didn’t have to wake up and realize that other Americans had thought of you as an enemy all along” (148). She then explains, “the reason this imprisonment is hard to Margot’s father is because they didn’t know yet that this country was unfair…The West Coast Japanese had already given the government their shortwave radios, and they had already agreed to their curfew, eight PM to six AM, but it wasn’t enough, it was never enough. It was so easy for the government make those rules. You can’t hate someone all of a sudden. It takes practice. It takes a long time” (148). This is an idea that Margot revisits later in the book when imagining what it would be like to go back home to Iowa. She ponders, “Haruko was right the first time we talked. It was not like with the Japanese. where entire communities went away. With us it was like a scalpel: a German here, a German there, while the rest of the town went about their business” (207). These quotes showcase the idea of how we are not  free in America until we’re all free. Everyone’s freedom is in jeopardy if one group loses theirs. 

 

The ending was…WOW. It was one of the best endings I’ve read in a while. It left you thinking about all that happened between the girls and the motives behind their actions.  

 

I liked that the author included a note at the end about the history behind the story. It is evident that she did a lot of research and tried to make it as accurate as possible.  

 

Overall, this was an amazing and powerful novel whose ending will leave you questioning it all. 

Review
5 Stars
Anna Undreaming - Thomas Welsh

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

 

I haven’t read much urban fantasy before so I had no idea what to expect going in, but I ended up loving this book. 

 

This book gave me a ton of Alice in Wonderland vibes especially in the second half, which I was totally digging since I love Alice in Wonderland. The book had the same dream-like quality and mad characters that Alice in Wonderland has.

 

The premise of the book was so creative. People with the ability to build new worlds is such a fascinating concept.

 

The whole book was absolutely stunning in terms of execution. Welsh writes brilliantly and through his prose crafts a gorgeous world. 

 

My favorite character was Elise. She was just so fun and quirky and I loved that about her. I hope we get to see more of her in the following books. 

 

As someone who majored in philosophy in college, I enjoyed the philosophy references throughout the book. Rousseau, Nietzsche, and Camus were all mentioned by name.

 

The glossary at the end of the book was tremendously helpful in learning about the their world. I used it numerous times while reading. 

 

The one thing this book was missing was a map. I would have loved to seen a map of The Realm. 

 

Overall, this was a fantastic start to a magical new trilogy! I can’t wait to find out what happens next and learn more about these characters. 

Reading progress update: I've read 159 out of 368 pages.
Anna Undreaming - Thomas Welsh
Review
5 Stars
Sweet Black Waves - Kristina Perez

I received this book for free as part of BookSparks’ YA Summer Reading Challenge.

 

Omg this was so amazing! I don’t know why people aren’t talking about this book. This could have totally been one of those super hyped YA books. 

 

This is a retelling of the popular Tristan and Iseult myth, which I have to admit, I’ve never even heard of. So going into this book I didn’t have any expectations about the retelling aspect since I knew nothing about the story. I went into the book completely blind as to what might happen. I wanted to be completely surprised by it. 

 

What I got was a roller coaster of a story. This book took me on a wild ride and I loved every second of it. It was beautiful yet tragic.

 

For some reason, the book reminded me a lot of the CW show, Reign. The mood and atmosphere were somewhat similar, but mainly the sense of duty that Branwen had to her land reminded me a lot of the women on that show. 

 

 

I loved the blend of fantasy and royalty. It was a very ethereal combination.

 

The writing style is wonderful. Kristina Perez spins a beautifully written tale that is just as magical as the story itself. 

 

Since this is the first book in a trilogy, a lot of this book was set up, but it was still very enjoyable to read. I still found it to be very exciting and I was throughly engaged the entire time. 

 

I loved the notes that the author included at the end about the language used and the source material. You can tell a lot of research went into writing this book so I appreciate that. The author even included a glossary and a list of the characters which made reading this book so easy. There is also a map but I had an ARC so mine didn’t have it but I’ve seen it in a preview and the map is gorgeous. 

 

Overall, I was blown away by this book and will definitely be continuing the trilogy. If you’re looking for a new spellbinding YA fantasy series, then read this! 

Reading progress update: I've read 337 out of 448 pages.
Sweet Black Waves - Kristina Perez