Book Review: The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Book #8 of 2022 was a good one. I think this one’s taking the lead! It might actually be better than “People We Meet On Vacation”. This could be a controversial opinion, but “The Inheritance Games” took me places where I’ve never gone before, you know?

I also could have read it in one day (yes, it’s that good).

Imagine being a senior in high school and not having a father, a mother, or any money at all. You don’t even have a home! You’re sleeping every night in your car with postcards of destinations you dream of travelling to. Then one day you get called to the principal’s office to meet the grandson of the richest man in Texas/one of the richest men in America: Grayson Hawthorn. His grandfather (who you never knew existed), Tobias Hawthorne, is a billionaire. He recently passed away and has requested that you be present at the reading of his will. Why? Because you’ve just inherited everything.

Honestly though, what would you do if you were randomly picked to inherit billions from an old man you didn’t know? I’d freak out! I’d make sure it wasn’t a prank, that’s for sure. What our protagonist, Avery Grambs, finds out is that Mr. Tobias Hawthorne was a man of many mysteries. He communicated through games and puzzles, and including Avery in his will was most definitely part of another puzzle that they were going to have to solve. I think all of the puzzles were a big reason why I enjoyed reading The Inheritance Games. It made me think and kept me wanting to know what was next, which made me incapable of putting this book down. If you love a mystery and being taken for a ride, you’ll love this book! I felt like I was alongside them as they tried to solve each clue/riddle. By “they” I mean the Hawthorne boys + Avery, which leads me to another few reasons (four reasons to be exact) why I loved this book.

The Hawthorne men. The grandsons of Tobias Hawthorne. In order from oldest to youngest, there’s Nash Hawthorne, Grayson Hawthorne, Jameson Hawthorne, and Xander Hawthorne. Their family dynamic is intoxicating. I love them so much. They have the most fun dialogue in the book. Each of them has their own personality with unique qualities. I think it’s safe to say that their handsome but on top of that, they’re smart. I love men with brains lol.

The Hawthorne House. Or I guess the proper term is “mansion”. It sounds like it should be a home classified as something all on its own because this house is crazy huge. It’s full of hidden passageways and dark secrets. Think closets that have hidden doors. Fireplaces with a hidden passageway that opens at the pull of a candlestick. There are floors that open up into completely new rooms. THE LIBRARIES. There are multiple libraries in this novel and I couldn’t handle it. My dream is to have my own library, and the Hawthorne’s have FIVE (at least)! As you read the book, you discover that there’s a whole other wing of the house, then another wing of the house, and so on. I’m hoping this book gets picked up and adapted into a film because I would love to see how they bring the Hawthorne mansion to life.

Another reason why I loved this book is that I feel like this touches on a different kind of Cinderella story. Avery didn’t have much and overnight she had everything (including her own football team and a number of airplanes). I think what makes those that love this book love it so much is the fact that it makes you wonder, could this happen to me, too? Obviously not. I mean, I wish! But it’s probably not likely, let’s be honest. It does let you dream of the possibility though, and who doesn’t like dreaming? (Btw I’m leaving out the part where she has so much money that people are shooting at her on her own property and needs like, heavy security lol – not really the dream)

Now it wouldn’t be the perfect book for me if there wasn’t some kind of romance to talk about. This book is nothing short of romance. It’s got a LOVE TRIANGLE. I’ve never been sure if I like love triangles. Personally, they sound a little messy to me. But Avery gets herself caught in the middle of two of the Hawthorne brothers. The two that seem to have a history of loving the same girl when they couldn’t be more different. It’s Grayson and Jameson. Grayson is super serious/realistic and Jameson is everything but serious. I’d say that the love triangle is more established in the second book than in the first, but let that encourage you to continue the series! The third book comes out in August – I can’t wait!

Okay, I could go on and on about things I loved about this book. But I’m going to say one more thing and leave it at that. I really hope I’ve convinced you to read this by now! But if you’re someone that values getting through a single chapter in one sitting, or just likes the satisfaction of completing something, you’ll love this. The chapters are so short. You can read like, 5 chapters in one sitting. You’ll honestly feel so good about yourself. I mean, I at least did ha-ha. Because I finished so many chapters at a time (this could be my competitive side showing), I just wanted to keep reading and see how many more chapters I could read (which is probably why I didn’t go to bed until 2AM lol)!

Now I wrote down that I wasn’t pleased with the ending of the first book. But now that I’ve read the second, I understand why she did what she did. I was just upset that there wasn’t as big of a reveal that I had hoped for at the end of The Inheritance Games. I also read a few reviews on GoodReads and a lot of people said that they didn’t like these novels because the story was a little too much like Knives Out. I haven’t read Knives Out (Is it a book? Or just a movie?) so now I’m wondering if maybe I wouldn’t be as impressed if I had. Should I read Knives Out? Have you read it? Let me know!

Max is Avery’s best friend in the book. She has very strict parents that take away her phone a lot. She also can’t swear, or curse, or whatever, so she makes up her own curse words. It’s quirky, but sometimes annoying. I also found her to be not that great of a friend. I guess she does the best she can with what she has. With such restrictions, it’s probably hard to be there for Avery in the way that she would like to be. I don’t know, I just felt like that relationship was lacking in some way. I don’t know whether to blame Avery for being too caught up in her own mess, or Max for being unavailable.

There’s also the Emily plot line. She sounds like a nightmare of a person, but everyone adored her. I’m just not a fan of manipulation. I don’t want to get into this in too much detail, but I’d like to know other people’s thoughts if you’ve read this book. Do we like Emily? Because I feel like she’s caused a lot of pain and trauma for a lot of people.

To summarize, I LOVED THIS BOOK. GO GET IT RIGHT NOW. I want to talk about it with someone! Someone read it and get excited about it with me! You have no idea how much I adored these books and reading them was an experience that will stick with me. I love reading again, and I think this series really helped me with that. I think Jennifer Lynn Barnes is a fabulous storyteller and I’m going to look into reading more of her books. Like I said earlier, I could have sat in a chair and finished this book all in one day. This won’t come as a surprise after everything that I’ve said, but I rate this book 5/5 stars!

I hope you enjoyed this book review! I love book recommendations so if you have any, please leave them in the comment section below!

Happy Friday!

Until next time,

– Tiny ❤

Book Review: People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry

Since finishing this book, I have read the second book to the Bridgerton series (Season 2 is out March 25th!!!) and now I’m currently reading “Instructions For Dancing” by Nicola Yoon. I’ve been reading so much more than last year so be ready for more book reviews in the future! According to Goodreads, I’m 3 books behind schedule. How this came to be? I don’t know. I think I’m going to find a light read that I can finish in a couple of days to help me get caught up a little. I’d be devastated if I get too far behind to reach my goal. Do any of you have some books that are less than 200 pages long that you can recommend? Let me know in the comment section below :))

Before I begin telling you about “People We Meet On Vacation”, I want to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was one of those ones that I kept wanting to go back to. I would read it on my commutes to and from work and I’ll be honest, it made those trips 1,000 times more exciting. Warning: This book is very cheesy and probably better for those hopeless romantics, like myself.

People We Meet On Vacation is about a woman in her 30s, Poppy, and her best friend, Alex. They met in college and I don’t remember how it started, but they’ve been taking an annual “summer trip” together ever since. The book is written with every chapter being a scenario or experience that happened during one of their summer trips. It kind of bounces back and forth between one from the past and their present summer trip. Currently, they’re trying to break a funk. They haven’t spoken to each other in two years since something happened between them in Croatia. It’s obvious that they miss each other, and Poppy is just hoping that this trip to Palm Springs to attend Alex’s brother’s wedding will fix everything. Hopefully, it’ll return things back to normal between them. But how exactly were things before? Poppy finds herself with this 5% “what if” situation. Alex is everything to her. She’s happier whenever she’s with him. Does she feel more for Alex than she’s willing to admit? Could her and Alex ever be something more than friends?

You’re gonna have to read it if you want to find out! I’m not spoiling anything ha-ha.

What I probably loved most about this book was Poppy’s job. She worked for a magazine or an online website that shared the best travel destinations. It was kind of like a travel guide? Poppy would go on these trips, take photos/content, and then share them and romanticize the whole experience. And it all started with a blog (maybe kind of like this one lol). Imagine if I somehow turned blogging into my full-time job? That would be the dream. I would no longer have to stress about finding the time to write because I’d literally have ALL the time. What I also loved about her job was all the places in the world that she was able to see for free! CAN YOU IMAGINE? I am dying to see the world but my retail job and shopping addiction isn’t gonna allow that for me.

This might make you roll your eyes, but I loved the romance in this one. Poppy has a lot of relationships in the novel but her relationship with Alex… whoa. Just whoa. Whatever feelings that I felt that I was missing in These Violent Delights were found in People We Meet On Vacation. The love that they have for each other is unmatched. The hopeless romantic in me can’t get enough of a love like that. Is it even possible? Does this kind of love only happen in books? Either way, I ate it all up and loved every second of it. If you love love, like myself, you’re gonna be obsessed with this novel. It’s steamy.

I think Emily Henry also did a fantastic job at continuing to leave the reader wanting more. I just had to know if they were going to end up being together. I had to know if they were going to finally be honest with each other and admit their feelings! Or were they better off not being friends? Is it worth ruining their friendship? I don’t know about y’all, but I’m such a sucker for these types of storylines. Emily somehow wrote something that I hadn’t expected though, and I appreciated that. I really didn’t know what was going to happen! Obviously you’re hoping for that happily ever after, but Emily left plenty of doubt. I liked that she kept me on my toes.

Another thing that I touched on already, but still loved, is the interesting format. She kind of bopped back and forth between past summers that they spent together to the present/current summer together. This progression of them spending summer after summer, year after year together really allowed me to grow with them, and understand how deep their friendship is. You’re kind of along for the ride/with them on their journey to discovering that they’re made for each other.

I’m starting to realize that this blog post is getting long, and that there’s a lot that I can say that I liked about this book but I’m just going to say that I loved that Emily also normalized therapy. I think it’s great that we’re including this in novels now. Therapy should be normalized. It’s okay to get help. It’s okay to admit that there’s something wrong that needs fixing. Sometimes you just need someone to talk to. The fact that Poppy and Alex both admit to getting therapy really made me happy. I respect Emily Henry for including it.

Based on the amount of things that I did like about this book, I’m pretty sure it’s obvious that I don’t really have anything negative to say. Poppy’s character kind of annoyed me sometimes, and I think that’s something you’ll only understand if you read it. I can’t describe it. She was kind of lacking compassion towards Alex. I mean, to be fair, she wasn’t very aware of how Alex felt about her. I just think she just could have been more considerate. The way she communicated was also very frustrating. Girl, JUST SAY WHAT YOU FEEL!

All in all, “People We Meet On Vacation” has to be one of my favourite reads so far in 2022. I feel like I’m making a huge statement that I might want to take back later, but oh well. I highly recommend you read this book if you have a similar taste in novels. This one’s a good one for all you hopeless romantics. It’s also just a great novel in regards to friendship. They really set the bar and their friendship is rather admirable. I would give this book 5/5 stars. I may be hyping this book up too much, but I truly believe it’s worth this rating. If you end up reading this, PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK! Let’s talk about it!

I hope you’re all having a fabulous week so far!

Until next time,

– Tiny ❤

Book Review: These Violent Delights Duet

Let me remind you that I am not an expert when it comes to reviewing books. Take what I have to say with a grain of salt or whatever. I honestly just love reading. And if you’re a YA fantasy fiction lover, like myself, you’ve stumbled upon the right book review today.

Since I’m reviewing the duet instead of each book individually, I probably won’t cover everything. It’ll be brief but I’m going to try to include everything you absolutely need to know. So the duet is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in Shanghai during the 1920s. It’s been a while since I’ve read a period piece. I think the last one that I read would have to be the first Bridgerton novel? Anyways, I love a good period piece! I think it would be a beautiful movie to watch. Juliette wears some of the most stunning dresses in the novel and I would love to see them come to life on screen. I’m smiling just picturing all the sparkle! But I think I’m trailing off my little synopsis here… So, where were we? Ah – Romeo and Juliet! We all know the famous love story by William Shakespeare. However, Roma and Juliette are the main characters in this duet. They’re the heirs to two separate gangs that have been in this ongoing blood feud since the dawn of time. No one even remembers why they started hating each other to begin with. Juliette Cai is the heir to the Scarlet Gang, and Roman Montagov is the heir to the White Flowers. They were each other’s first love. And much like the original play, their romance is ultimately doomed. There is so much betrayal. On top of that, there’s a contagion they name “the madness” and a monster in the Huangpu river that is killing everyone in their city. The only way to stop it is to put their feelings aside, do what’s right for their people, and work together.

I think that’s not the most terrible explanation of the two novels, no? There’s a lot more in the second novel that I’m leaving out, but I think knowing the information that I mentioned above, you’ll figure out what comes next. I am in no means saying that the second book is not worth mentioning. A lot of people online (and I agree with them) have said that the second book was very emotional for its readers. I don’t know what it is about a forbidden romance. The fact that they love each other so much, couldn’t be more perfect for one another, but can never be together is just absolutely heartbreaking! If you’re familiar with the play, you’ll also have a good idea of how the story will go. I’m not saying that it’s predictable. Chloe actually manages to retell the story but still make it something completely different.

There are a lot of characters that I enjoyed getting to know throughout these two novels. My favourites would have to be Juliette and her cousins. Juliette is a badass woman. I love her. Although she demonstrates weakness when it comes to loving Roma, she’s still one of the strongest characters in the book. You know what, she’s probably the strongest. She’s tough both mentally and physically. She’s very decisive and as a woman in a gang in the the 1920s, working alongside mostly men, she’s very well-respected. They treat her with more respect than what you’’d expect during that time. No one would mess with her. I know she had to work hard to earn that respect, and I respect that a lot. There are times in the novel where she’s excluded in some important decision making because she’s a woman. Her father consults her cousin, Tyler, for too many things, and that’s a whole other side story that I could get into but you can find that out for yourselves. I’ll just let you know right now that we don’t like Tyler over here. Awful human. Anyways, I really feel like she’s for the most part an equal, but she’s wearing a gorgeous dress while doing it? That’s pretty freaking heroic/badass if I do say so myself. And Juliette’s cousins are the same way! Kathleen and Rosalind have grown up with Juliette and they all have an equal understanding on how they have to be in order to survive in their “Scarlet vs. White Flower” world.

What I probably love most about these books is that there’s only two. I really feel like most YA fantasy novels are drawn out for much longer than they need to be. Two books long is the perfect length for Chloe’s story, and I appreciate her choosing to do so. Am I the only one that has noticed that most fantasy series are at least 3-4 books long? And sometimes I feel like it’s just unnecessary information/a reason to sell one more book. With two books, I think this duet has much more value. Two really good books is better than 4 mediocre ones.

Another reason why I enjoyed these books so much is that they were a mix of genres. I got a little bit of everything. There was mystery, romance, historical fiction, and fantasy. Some might think it’s too much but I think it was perfect. It allowed so much interest and always had me wanting to know more.

I know I’m almost 29 years-old and still reading teen fiction, but I definitely think things between Roma and Juliette could have been much steamier lol. I’m not asking for porn. I just felt like there wasn’t enough passion between the two of them. Roma was kind of a “blah” character. I didn’t understand how he felt towards Juliette. I think Juliette’s feelings were much more apparent. I had a better sense that Juliette would literally do anything for Roma. Romeo was a hopeless romantic, was he not? I just wanted more from Roma. Personally, I think Juliette was too good for him.

I don’t think anyone ever wants characters to die, but it’s kind of obvious when this is a retelling of Romeo and Juliette that they’re gonna die in some way or another. I didn’t want that though. I really wanted to see them create a life together, away from their city. I wanted them to live happily ever after. I mean, that’s probably the hopeless romantic in me, but I still wanted it nonetheless. They deserved to be together! They had already gone through so much, so why did they have to die?! But I guess that’s the romantic tragedy for ya. The “doomed romance”.

Overall, these were probably the YA fantasy novels that I needed to get back into reading again. I’ve been on a roll! I’ve read almost 4 books this month! I can’t believe it. I am definitely on the path towards meeting my goal of 50 books read in 2022. I know it’s only the first month of the year, but it’s promising! I’m hopeful.

If you’re going to pick up these books, expect a little bit of everything. Like I said, there’s mystery, romance, historical fiction, and fantasy. A ton of twists and turns. It really kept me on my toes despite knowing the story of Romeo and Juliet all too well. Although these were debut novels for Chloe Gong, it really didn’t feel like it. Her writing was exceptional as far as I’m concerned. I think Chloe created amazing characters and told a beautiful and heartbreaking story. Much like Romeo and Juliet, her novels were full of emotions and pain. I think this retelling would be an interesting movie. It’s definitely something I’d consider worth watching.

My rating for this duet is 4/5 stars. The reason it’s not a full 5/5 is because I really think there were characters, like Roma, that needed just a tad more attention. I wanted to understand him more, especially since he was one of the two main characters. I might just be saying this because I love romance, and I wanted Roma to bring more romance to the table. As I said in the introduction, take what I have to say with a grain of salt. I do highly recommend these books if this is the sort of thing you’re into. I think they were a great start to what’s going to be a great year of reading.

If you liked this book review, please let me know in the comment section! I’m a little rusty because a.) I haven’t read this much in a while and b.) I haven’t really reviewed or talked about a book in a long while. I think the more I read, the more insight I have. At least I hope that’s the case ha-ha!

I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend!

Until next time,

– Tiny ❤

Books I Read In 2021

I don’t know where I want to begin with this one because I’ll be honest, I’m a little disappointed with myself. In 2020, I read over 30 books (33 to be exact!) and in 2021, I only read 21?! There are a lot of reasons why I didn’t read as much last year but I thought I’d at least read the same amount, y’know? I could have at least stayed consistent! Unfortunately, I read 12 less books. Ugh, it hurts even more putting a number to it. I mean, it is what it is. I had a lot going on with Never Skip a Bead that didn’t allow me time to stop and read for as long as I would have liked. Julia and I also had the podcast going. I had a book club. We had to stop the podcast because we both got a little too busy so that prevented a higher book count as well. Part of me feels like these are excuses because if I really wanted to read, I would have made it happen. I sound like a broken record but life really does get in the way sometimes. And I’ve got to accept that sometimes it doesn’t work out the way you want it.

But that’s what a new year is all about, right? A fresh start! I know what I want to prioritize this year, and reading is one of those things. I’ve been reading as much as I can on my commutes to and from work. I had some tough side effects after getting my booster this week that I had to call in sick to work for a couple days. I had a fever, chills, and body aches. I couldn’t really do much so I read my book. I’m currently reading the second book to “These Violent Delights” by Chloe Gong. I love this book (expect a book review on this duet soon!) so I don’t see a problem with momentum at the moment, but we’ll see!

Anyways, this post isn’t about current or future reads, but about past reads! It’s tough to pick out my “top ten” because that’s literally half the books I read. I don’t know about you but I don’t think that justifies a top ten, so I’m sharing with y’all this year a “Top 5 Books I Read In 2021”. They’re the titles highlighted in yellow and the pink are honourable mentions. Basically, I really want you to read the yellow and if you have extra time, read the pink ones!

These are the books I enjoyed reading the most in 2021. Not pictured: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (because my littlest sister is borrowing it lol).

TOP 5 BOOKS I READ IN 2021

1. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah – This was a book Julia and I read for the podcast. I would have never bothered with it if it hadn’t been picked up by Netflix and turned into a series. Honestly, I’m super happy I read it. It made me cry. If you haven’t heard our podcast, The Books Office Podcast, I mentioned that I think the book is way better than the Netflix series. You don’t get enough information from the show. The book had so much more depth and Kristin Hannah does a real good job at connecting you with her characters.

2. Crying In H Mart by Michelle Zauner – I saw this book all over social media. The cover is cute. There was a lot of hype and I was looking for something good, like really good. I needed something to get me reading again. This was the last book I read in 2021, and I loved it. It’s non-fiction/a memoir, so that made it even more interesting. Losing a parent to cancer is something I can relate to, and it made her story that much more special to me.

3. Ordinary Girls by Jaquira Diaz – This was another memoir that we ended up reading in our book club last year. I think joining this book club really made me open up to books outside of teen fiction. This story opens your eyes and it makes you appreciate all that you have. I think it also helps you to better understand the minds of young women and young women of colour. Jaquira shares a lot that demonstrates what it takes to survive and make a better life for yourself. She definitely has courage to have written such a vulnerable and honest book like this. I absolutely recommend it.

4. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett – Definitely deserving of this spot. It might be one of the best books I’ve read in years. I think this story had fantastic characters and it covers so much ground: race, identity, gender, belonging, as well as the relationship of twins and their daughters. It’s a very powerful read that I don’t think I am capable of explaining. I definitely can’t do as good of a job as it deserves. You’re just going to have to read it!

5. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig – I’m pretty sure you’ve probably heard of this book. It’s really deserving of all the praise. I think it might be popular on TikTok? Matt Haig is an amazing writer. This is the first book that I’ve read that he’s written, but I’m definitely going to look into reading one of his other novels this year. How he came up with “The Midnight Library” is fascinating to me. It’s such a unique story and I think it has a great message. This is 100% a book that everyone should read.

I know I didn’t describe the books as well as I could have. If you’ve read my book reviews before, you know I struggle along the line of over sharing and not sharing enough. I just don’t want to ruin it for anyone that is dying to read one of these 5 books I’ve mentioned. They all deserve to be read and discovered for yourselves. I think you’ll love any one of them. Now that I’m looking back at this, although I only read 21 books last year, I think I read some pretty darn good ones! If you end up reading one of these, I want to know what you think! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

I also hope you’re all having a great week! I’m so glad that I’m no longer feeling poorly. That booster really took me out this week, but I’m feeling as good as new now! I’m super excited because my mom and sister are coming to visit me for the weekend. They’re going to help me with the apartment and come with me to IKEA! If anything exciting happens, I’ll be sure to share.

Until next time,

– Tiny ❤

THE BOOKS OFFICE PODCAST

I can’t believe I haven’t had time to share this with y’all sooner! I may have mentioned it in a previous blog post but I’d like to officially introduce this project that Julia and I have worked so very hard on: The Books Office Podcast

Julia has been a friend of mine for a while now. We first met when I was a Personal Shopper at Topshop. She was one of my clients that I really connected with. When I left, we stayed in touch and have been friends ever since! Something we’ve really bonded over is BOOKS, and we’re even in a book club together. One of the few things I get most excited for is book club every month and Julia runs it herself. Earlier in the year she approached me with this fabulous idea of starting a podcast together. We would also talk during our book club meetings about what we were currently watching on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Disney+, etc. And she came up with this amazing idea of starting a podcast based on books and their movie or TV show adaptations! We had also just finished watching Bridgerton and had recently found out that it was a book series, so that’s where it all began!

This past Monday we uploaded our THIRD episode. I honestly can’t believe we’ve already shared 3 episodes of our podcast to the public – it’s crazy! But the feedback we’ve gotten has been wonderful and I would love for y’all to check it out. Our first episode is obviously about Bridgerton by Julia Quinn. In every episode, we read the book and watch the TV show or movie, then review and compare them. At the end, we answer the question: Was the book actually better? Before the podcast, we had always assumed that the book was always better. Now we’re doing the research through each episode we create and it’s so much fun. We tell each other after each episode recording that we wish this was our job. And maybe one day it might be?

Anyways, I would love if you’d give our podcast a listen! You can follow us on Instagram: @thebooksofficepod If you’ve read or watched Firefly Lane or The Queen’s Gambit, you should give our other episodes a listen, too!

I’ll leave a link to our podcast here: https://anchor.fm/the-books-office-podcast

You should be able to listen to it wherever you listen to your podcasts!

ALSO, I want to shoutout Julia’s boyfriend, Alex, for doing all the tech-y/editing a tuff for us! We wouldn’t have done any of this without him! He makes each episode sound SO GOOD. He also made our jingle himself! If you need anything like that, message him on IG: @fuchsanator

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you have a great weekend!

– Tiny ❤

Books I Read In 2020

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYBODY! With the start of a new year, I get to share with you my favourite blog post ever. I’m going to share with you all of the books that I read in the past year, and the ones that I loved most. I read a total of 33 books last year and I think I owe it to the two lockdowns that we had here in Toronto. I mean, as much as being forced to stay home kind of sucked, it did also force me to read the books I had always been saying I was going to read. I love reading and I still wish I read more!

For the year 2021, I want to read 50 books and I know that’s close to a book a week but I think I can do it! I might be overly ambitious (the fresh start that a new year brings usually does that to me) but I’m gonna go for it.

In 2019, I wrote the list of books down in my notebook. I read 20 books during the year 2019, so I’ve read 13 more books than the previous year! I hope that I can continue to keep beating the previous year’s amount of books read. Last year, I recorded all of the books that I read in my phone. It makes finding the list a lot easier because the one I had physically written on a piece of paper in 2019 got lost most of the time lol.

Here is the list of books that I read in 2020 (the hearts just mean I really enjoyed them, and I’ll get to that in a second!):

Like I said, I read 13 more books than I did in 2019. I’m super proud of myself and it’s definitely encouraging me to keep going and to stay dedicated to reading/doing one of my absolute favourite hobbies. The books that I thoroughly enjoyed and would highly recommend are the ones with the hearts beside them on my list. I also probably have a book review on each of these books floating around here. But if you would like a list of the favourites, here it is:

1. The Woman In The Window by A.J. Finn

2. Meet Cute by Jennifer L. Armentrout, Dhonielle Clayton, Katie Cotugno, Jocelyn Davies, Huntley Fitzpatrick, Nina LaCour, Emery Lord, Katharine McGee, Kass Morgan, Julie Murphy, Meredith Russo, Sara Shepard, Nicola Yoon and Ibi Zoboi

3. Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

4. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

5. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

6. They Said This Would Be Fun by Eternity Martis

7. Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer

8. Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid

9. The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

10. Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

I love good books. I love recommending books and receiving book recommendations. If you have any recommendations that I should add to my 2021 reading list, please let me know in the comment section below!

I know we’re only 3 days into the new year but I’m really feeling hopeful about it. We’re going to have a great year! I do have some new year’s resolutions that I think I’m going to keep to myself. Sharing them on here has always kept me accountable, but I also think that I need to learn to put less pressure on myself and to take things as they come. It’s okay if nothing happens right away. Sometimes things get in the way and they don’t work out. 2020 taught me that. So I’ve set some goals but I’m definitely going to take 2021 one day at a time.

I hope you guys are having a great start to your year so far! Are you guys making any goals for yourselves? Is there anything you’re trying to manifest? I’d love to hear it! Please share it in the comment section!

Hope you’re all safe and well!

Until next time,

– Tiny ❤

Book Review: Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

I just finished this novel and had to hop on here right away so that I can give you a fresh review lol.

OH. MY. GOODNESS.

Before you waste your time here, I’m going to let you know that this is a novel for the nerds. If you’re even the slightest bit geeky, you might actually enjoy this! It’s obviously about video games and such, hence “Ready Player Two”. So if you’re not into that kind of stuff, read no further!

This is the second book to a book called “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline (shocking title, I know). It was turned into a movie and it was really good! If you’ve seen that and enjoyed it, you’ll want to read the second book. You could even read the first one before reading the second one, because I believe the book is always better than the movie! I love Ernest Cline’s writing. These books are so much fun to read.

You know me and know that I don’t really like to give away too much, but here’s a quick synopsis. It’s like the year 2046 and the world is a mess (sound familiar lol?). This guy named James Halliday and his best bud Ogden Morrow create this extreme alternate reality online where everyone can escape and just live a better life. It was designed by them and Og’s wife, Kira, and they’ve made all these interesting worlds based on they’re favourite things growing up. It’s called the “OASIS”, and inside the OASIS are multiple dimensions or planets where you can go on quests and experience a reality completely different to what you would on Earth. There’s a planet that’s created solely around the artist formerly known as Prince, based on all his work and what he loved when he was alive. There’s a Lord of the Rings planet that you can also teleport to whenever you want. See what I mean by geeky? There’s also a place where you can reenact or witness all of the John Hughes movies going on at once! It’ll take you to the high school in Pretty In Pink, the Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, etc. I didn’t know they used the same high school and basically the same neighbourhood for most of these movies but they did!

Obviously it’s not all fun and games though. In the first novel, Wade Watts and his friends finished the ultimate quest that James Halliday left after he died. After winning, they inherited everything that was in James Halliday’s possession. This included a ton of money, a huge house, and an interesting headset that attaches to your brain/mind and allows you to experience and feel everything in the OASIS as if it were real. It connects your full conscious to the OASIS! Before it was just like a VR video game, so this a game-changer. But with the new perks comes new problems as well. This unlocks a whole new quest, with a whole new bunch of challenges. It’s thrilling! Honestly, if I wasn’t so busy with crocheting, work, and keeping my mental health in check, I would have finished this book in a day! I loved it.

I wish I could tell you more about it but I want you to read this so bad (if you’re a nerd like me). Like this isn’t even half of the story! I didn’t do it any justice, I’m sorry. But please take my recommendation and try this book for yourself! With the way the world is today, I think we all need this little escape. I mean, the plot of this book seems too familiar if you get what I mean. I kind of wish there was an OASIS that I could use right about now.

This book made me feel similar feelings that I had when I read Harry Potter books, the Twilight series, The Shannara Chronicles, etc. It’s just fun and it’s just what I needed.

I might be too generous but I give this book a 5/5 star rating.

If you end up reading these books, please let me know! I’d love to chat about them!

I hope you’re all well!

Until next time,

– Tiny ❤

Book Review: The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

Where do I begin, where do I begin… Well, this book was the November pick for Jenn Im’s book club: @curlupclub! I’ve always admired Jenn’s love for reading and her recommendations are always great. This book was no exception.

“The Best We Could Do” by Thi Bui was a beautiful memoir. I’ve never been in a book club where one of the picks was a graphic novel. I haven’t read graphic novels since high school! This book rekindled my love with it’s beautiful images and well-told story. I think that it takes great storytelling to be able to use images and fewer words, and still have a great impact on the reader.

The book is a memoir, like I said, it’s about Thi Bui’s life and how having a child of her own made her see her parents in a different light. With a lot of research, she retells the story of how her parents met and all the obstacles they, and her parents’ parents, overcame in order to give Thi and her siblings the life they currently have in America. They escaped the fall of South Vietnam and lost so much along their way. Miscarriages, bombings (they lived through two wars!), communism, poverty, starvation, tuberculosis and pneumonia are only some of the challenges Thi’s family had to face.

By reading Thi’s story, you realize that parenthood is endless sacrifices, unnoticed gestures, and depths of unspoken love. After reading this book, it helped me realize the sacrifices even my parents had to make for me and my siblings. Although my family didn’t go through as terrible of things as Thi’s family, this book still gives you a much needed perspective. It’s such a great story to remind you of what’s important and what needs to be cherished. Family is everything and sometimes we forget that (especially during these unprecedented times).

This book really blew me away. The images alone are worth it. The flow of the book made it a very easy read but still meaningful. I’m not a professional book reviewer, but I think this book won awards for a reason. I can only say positive things about “The Best We Could Do” by Thi Bui. If you think a graphic novel is more YA, don’t be so quick to assume! This book is great for all ages.

I actually plan on lending it to my sister that has a one month old son. I think this would definitely give her some perspective on her new role. Anyways, I hope you guys are intrigued by this novel. Please take my word for it! I don’t really review or write one of these guys unless I really think you need to read it for yourselves!

Happy reading!

Until next time,

– Tiny ❤

Book Review: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Hello everyone! I’m back with another book review. I don’t even know if I can fully consider this a review (am I really qualified?). But these are just a few of my thoughts on the book and whether or not I recommend it. Okay, so maybe it is a review lol.

This book was chosen for one of my book clubs and I’ll let you know right off the bat that we all loved it. Everyone gave it a 5/5 star rating. I guess this might be all you need to know, but I’ll tell you a bit more anyway!

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid was such a breath of fresh air. It was so easy to read, and also quite fun! Kiley Reid is a beautiful writer and I loved that she created relatable characters that had very realistic conversations. She perfectly demonstrated the differences there are when it comes to privilege, class and race. I also love how she didn’t create any bias. She let you form your own opinions about each character. Questions like: Is Kelley racist? Is Alix racist? Should Emira really be working for Alix? Is Kelley dating Emira for the right reasons? When trying to figure it out yourself, Kiley Reid made sure that you understood everyone’s intentions and gave you a very considerate look at everyone’s point of view. And despite the weight of these topics, she managed to keep it light and easy to follow.

Guys, this book was great. If you’re still unfamiliar with racism and white guilt (and I really hope you aren’t), this is a book you want to read. If you’re familiar, I think it’s a refreshing approach and something you’ll enjoy reading. It’s definitely one you’ll want to recommend to your friends!

It’s written in two perspectives: Alix (the rich white woman) and Emira (Alix’s black babysitter). One night, Emira is called while she is out at a party with her friends. Alix, her boss, needs Emira to take her eldest daughter out of the house for a little bit. Why? Her husband had said something offensive and racist on television (he’s a news anchor) and a rock was just thrown through their front window. They didn’t want Briar (their toddler and eldest child) to be there when the cops arrived so Emira obliged, and they sent an Uber to come get her (Emira isn’t told why their front window is broken). When Emira gets there, they send her and Briar to the expensive grocery store a couple blocks away. It’s frequented mostly by white people so when Emira and Briar get there, Emira runs into some trouble with the grocery store’s security guard. He thinks Emira (because she’s a black woman with a white child) kidnapped Briar and it becomes a huge and unnecessary scene. Kelley, a total stranger at the time, records the whole scenario with his cellphone and then tells Emira she should post it online. This would go viral and expose the racism in the community. Emira says no and tells him to delete it, and that’s all I’m going to tell you. That’s also practically how this novel starts and everything that occurs afterwards is somehow tied to it.

I always say this (because I really think I’m awful at retelling or providing decent summaries), but I’m sorry if this doesn’t entice you at all to read this book. I’m trying not to give too much away. However, everyone from book club will definitely back me up and encourage you to give “Such a Fun Age” a shot. It honestly was so well done. I loved it. It’s such a perfect example of how things are and have been, and what needs to change.

If you pick up this book, you have to let me know what you think of it! It’s a great novel. Again, 5/5 star rating! I promise you won’t regret this.

Happy reading!

Also, I always love book recommendations so feel free to leave me some in the comments!

Until next time,

– Tiny ❤

Book Review: The Lightness by Emily Temple

So I kind of debated on writing a review for this book because I didn’t love it as much as I wanted to. Part of me only wants to share the books that I love, but maybe it’s more of a book for you than it is for me! I don’t want you to miss out on it just because I wasn’t obsessed. I really wanted to like this book because it was last month’s book for Belletrist (Emma Roberts and Karah Preiss’ book club) and I love them. I usually love their monthly book picks. I respect them so much and they inspire me to create a book club of my own someday so I don’t want to not like one of their book picks, but I kinda did.

The Lightness by Emily Temple was different. Emily Temple’s writing style is great. The story (and I’m just being 100% honest) just didn’t interest me very much. I’m still glad I read it because I learned some things and that’s all I ever ask for when reading a book. The Lightness is just not a book that I would go on about to all of my friends, you know?

It’s about a girl named Olivia who’s father leaves her and her mother. He (the person she adores most in the world) just disappears and Olivia doesn’t know what to make of it. Is he dead? Where did he go and how does she get him back? The last place her father was that she can trace is at the Levitation Center. She enrolls in this summer program there for troubled teens looking for answers, and to get away from her abusive mother. She steals a credit card, pays for this summer program, then meets three girls that she will never forget: Laurel, Janet, and Serena. Laurel is the quintessential beauty, Janet is the quiet and mysterious one, and Serena is their leader. The energy that these girls have whenever their in a room draws Olivia to them instantly. She just has to be their friend, or at least learn more about them. They see something in her as well and they soon become a foursome.

Now a lot happens but the main focus of this book is figuring out Serena and why she is so determined to learn how to levitate and experience “ultimate lightness”. Serena’s passion is contagious and it easily makes the rest of them want to learn as well. It becomes their mission that summer. They try everything. They drink alcohol, (I think) they choke each other (?), at night they perform “The Feeling”, and they create a special diet with this tea made from a weed that they concoct in the kitchen when no one is watching. But most of all, they need Luke’s help. Luke is the “hot guy” that tends the garden at the center. Apparently, Serena has seen him levitate and strongly believes that he can teach them how. All the girls are obsessed with him (and tbh, I don’t understand why).

Explaining the rest would be spoiling the novel for you. I never do novels justice when trying to write a *brief* synopsis, and I apologize for that. However, if you would like to find out whether they actually learn how to levitate or achieve ultimate lightness, and if any of them end up with this Luke fellow, give this book a read! Like I said, I learned a lot. They touch on a lot of interesting facts about Buddhism in this novel if that’s also something you’re into.

Overall, I think I’d rate this book 3.5/5 stars. If you end up reading this, or have already read it, please let me know your thoughts in the comment section! Maybe I didn’t pay enough attention and need to read it again!

Stay well and stay safe!

Until next time,

– Tiny ❤