Review: Barely Functional Adult

Barely Functional Adult by Meichi Ng
Publication: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: 11/24/2020

Disclaimer: I received a finished copy of this book from Harper Perennial in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Wielding her trademark balance of artful humor, levity, and heartbreaking introspection, Meichi Ng’s indisputably relatable collection of short stories holds a mirror to our past, present, and future selves.

Featuring a swaddled, gender-neutral, Barely Functional Adult as its protagonist, who says all the things we think but cannot say, this book is equal parts humorous and heartbreaking as it spans a spectrum of topics including imposter syndrome, therapy, friendships, first loves, letting go of exes, and just trying to find your purpose in the world. Prepare to excitedly shove this book in your friend’s face with little decorum as you shout, “THIS IS SO US!”

In this beautiful, four-color collection compiled completely of never-before-seen content, Meichi perfectly captures the best and worst of us in every short story, allowing us to weep with pleasure at our own fallibility. Hilarious, relatable, and heart-wrenchingly honest, This Book Is a Time Machine will have you laughing and crying in the same breath, and taking solace in the fact that we’re anything but alone in this world.

Review: Barely Functional Adult is Meichi Ng’s debut book. This nonfiction humorous memoir is a collection of short stories written in a memoir writing style with graphics. Overall, I thought this was a decent read. The author’s perspective of not being a young nor old person but trying to figure out your place in the world is something many people can relate. I wasn’t too impressed with the graphics in this book and some of the chapters seemed to be a bit random and meaningless. The chapters felt a bit choppy. Overall, I’d recommend reading this only if you are familiar with the author’s Instagram.

Rating: 3/5

Review: Super Fake Love Song

Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon
Publication: Penguin Teen
Publication Date: 11/17/2020

Disclaimer: I received a finished copy of this book from Penguin Teen in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: When Sunny Dae—self-proclaimed total nerd—meets Cirrus Soh, he can’t believe how cool and confident she is. So when Cirrus mistakes Sunny’s older brother Gray’s bedroom—with its electric guitars and rock posters—for Sunny’s own, he sort of, kind of, accidentally winds up telling her he’s the front man of a rock band.

Before he knows it, Sunny is knee-deep in the lie: He ropes his best friends into his scheme, begging them to form a fake band with him, and starts wearing Gray’s rock-and-roll castoffs. But no way can he trick this amazing girl into thinking he’s cool, right? Just when Sunny is about to come clean, Cirrus asks to see them play sometime. Gulp.

Now there’s only one thing to do: Fake it till you make it.

Sunny goes all in on the lie, and pretty soon, the strangest things start happening. People are noticing him in the hallways, and he’s going to football games and parties for the first time. He’s feeling more confident in every aspect of his life, and especially with Cirrus, who’s started to become not just his dream girl but also the real deal. Sunny is falling in love. He’s having fun. He’s even becoming a rocker, for real.

But it’s only a matter of time before Sunny’s house of cards starts tumbling down. As his lies begin to catch up with him, Sunny Dae is forced to wonder whether it was all worth it—and if it’s possible to ever truly change.

Review: Super Fake Love Song is David Yoon’s second novel. After loving his debut, Frankly In Love, I was really excited for this one. Unfortunately, this one wasn’t up to par to Frankly In Love which was a five-star read for me. The plot sounded really intriguing, but there were times where the story felt like it was dragging. I loved the diverse set of characters, but all the characters were pretty unlikable. The main character, Sunny, was a bit too whiny. His love interest, Cirrus, seemed to have no personality at all and we don’t know much about her. I wasn’t a fan of the way the dialogue was written here and some of the parts were written oddly. Overall, I would recommend skipping this one.

Rating: 2/5

Review: Love Your Life

Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella
Publication: Penguin Random House
Publication Date: 10/27/2020

Disclaimer: I received a free finished copy of this book from Penguin Random House in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Call Ava romantic, but she thinks love should be found in the real world, not on apps that filter men by height, job, or astrological sign. She believes in feelings, not algorithms. So after a recent breakup and dating app debacle, she decides to put love on hold and escapes to a remote writers’ retreat in coastal Italy. She’s determined to finish writing the novel she’s been fantasizing about, even though it means leaving her close-knit group of friends and her precious dog, Harold, behind.

At the retreat, she’s not allowed to use her real name or reveal any personal information. When the neighboring martial arts retreat is canceled and a few of its attendees join their small writing community, Ava, now going by “Aria,” meets “Dutch,” a man who seems too good to be true. The two embark on a baggage-free, whirlwind love affair, cliff-jumping into gem-colored Mediterranean waters and exploring the splendor of the Italian coast. Things seem to be perfect for Aria and Dutch.

But then their real identities–Ava and Matt–must return to London. As their fantasy starts to fade, they discover just how different their personal worlds are. From food choices to annoying habits to sauna etiquette . . . are they compatible in anything? And then there’s the prickly situation with Matt’s ex-girlfriend, who isn’t too eager to let him go. As one mishap follows another, it seems while they love each other, they just can’t love each other’s lives. Can they reconcile their differences to find one life together?

Review: Sophie Kinsella’s latest novel, Love Your Life, is a cute lighthearted romance that I definitely needed at the beginning of this month. This contemporary romance novel is a opposites attract / instalove type troupe that explores self-discovery, friendship, lust, and reality. Overall, I enjoyed this one! I thought that the protagonists’ friends outshines the protagonists. As expected in a Sophie Kinsella novel, I loved that there were laugh out loud and cheesy moments. There were a few times where I felt the protagonists were a bit too extreme, but felt that it ended off nicely. If you’re a fan of Sophie Kinsella or are looking for something fun and lighthearted, I’d recommend picking this one up!

Rating: 4/5

Review: Caste

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
Publication: Penguin Random House
Publication Date: 8/4/2020

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of this book from Penguin Random House in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: “As we go about our daily lives, caste is the wordless usher in a darkened theater, flashlight cast down in the aisles, guiding us to our assigned seats for a performance. The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power—which groups have it and which do not.”

In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.

Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people—including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others—she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.

Beautifully written, original, and revealing, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents is an eye-opening story of people and history, and a reexamination of what lies under the surface of ordinary lives and of America life today.

Review: Caste is the first book I’ve read from Isabel Wilkerson. I’m kicking myself for not picking up Caste earlier. What an incredible book! Though I’m familiar with American and German history, I was blown away on Indian history regarding caste. It was fascinating to learn the caste systems in the U.S., Germany, and India and how each of those similar. I also liked the way that the author not only objectively explained what happened in the past, but how those actions have affected present day. Overall, I highly recommend reading this book. As others mentioned, I agree that this should be required reading for everyone.

Rating: 5/5

Review: Crazy Stupid Bromance

Crazy Stupid Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams
Publication: Berkley Publishing Group
Publication Date: 10/27/2020

Disclaimer: I received an advanced digital copy of this book from Berkley Publishing Group in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Alexis Carlisle and her cat café, ToeBeans, have shot to fame after she came forward as a victim of a celebrity chef’s sexual harassment. When a new customer approaches to confide in her, the last thing Alexis expects is for the woman to claim they’re sisters. Unsure what to do, Alexis turns to the only man she trusts—her best friend, Noah Logan.

Computer genius Noah left his rebellious teenage hacker past behind to become a computer security expert. Now he only uses his old skills for the right cause. But Noah’s got a secret: He’s madly in love with Alexis. When she asks for his help, he wonders if the timing will ever be right to confess his crush. 

Noah’s pals in The Bromance Book Club are more than willing to share their beloved “manuals” to help him go from bud to boyfriend. But he must decide if telling the truth is worth risking the best friendship he’s ever had.

A hacktivist and a cat café owner decode the friend zone in this romantic comedy from the author of Undercover Bromance. 

Review: Crazy Stupid Bromance is the third book in the Bromance Book Club series and features Alexa and Noah. Although this can be read as a stand alone, I’d recommend reading the previous books as you wouldn’t catch some of the references to the other books’ characters. This wasn’t my favorite of the three, but it wasn’t my least favorite either. I like that we get to see the characters in previous books progress in their lives in this book. My favorite aspect of this series is that we get to see the bromance book club come together and support each other. Though there are parts in this book that are highly unrealistic, it was still a fun and light read even though there were undertones of serious subjects. If you loved the previous books or like friends turned lovers trope, then this book is definitely for you. I’m excited to hear that there will be a fourth book coming out soon featuring the Russian and his wife!

Rating: 3/5

Review: Invisible Girl

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell
Publication: Atria Books
Publication Date: 10/13/2020

Disclaimer: I received an advanced digital copy of this book from Atria Books in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Owen Pick’s life is falling apart.

In his thirties, a virgin, and living in his aunt’s spare bedroom, he has just been suspended from his job as a geography teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct, which he strongly denies. Searching for professional advice online, he is inadvertently sucked into the dark world of incel—involuntary celibate—forums, where he meets the charismatic, mysterious, and sinister Bryn.

Across the street from Owen lives the Fours family, headed by mom Cate, a physiotherapist, and dad Roan, a child psychologist. But the Fours family have a bad feeling about their neighbor Owen. He’s a bit creepy and their teenaged daughter swears he followed her home from the train station one night.

Meanwhile, young Saffyre Maddox spent three years as a patient of Roan Fours. Feeling abandoned when their therapy ends, she searches for other ways to maintain her connection with him, following him in the shadows and learning more than she wanted to know about Roan and his family. Then, on Valentine’s night, Saffyre Maddox disappears—and the last person to see her alive is Owen Pick.

With evocative, vivid, and unputdownable prose and plenty of disturbing twists and turns, Jewell’s latest thriller is another “haunting, atmospheric, stay-up-way-too-late read” (Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author).

Review: Since I absolutely loved The Family Upstairs, I was really excited to read Lisa Jewell’s upcoming novel, Invisible Girl. I’ve noticed that Lisa Jewell’s novels are either a hit or miss for me. I had mixed feelings about Invisible Girl. The writing style is fast-paced and easy to get into which made me finish the book in a day! The author does an excellent job in creating these deeply complex characters and for discussing the tough subjects of rape and sexual assault. In this book, she had three POVs and I loved how distinct the voices were for each POV. When it came towards the end of the book, I was expecting there to be more of a twist or surprise but that seemed to never happen. Overall, I’d recommend this book if you’re a Lisa Jewell fan.

Rating: 4/5

Review: The Return

The Return by Nicholas Sparks
Publication: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: 9/29/2020

Disclaimer: I received a free finished copy of this book from Grand Central Publishing in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Trevor Benson never intended to move back to New Bern, NC. But when a mortar blast outside the hospital where he worked as an orthopedic surgeon sent him home from Afghanistan with devastating injuries, the dilapidated cabin he inherited from his grandfather seemed as good a place to regroup as any.

Tending to his grandfather’s beloved bee hives while gearing up for a second stint in medical school, Trevor isn’t prepared to fall in love with a local . . . and yet, from their very first encounter, his connection with Natalie Masterson can’t be ignored. But even as she seems to reciprocate his feelings, she remains frustratingly distant, making Trevor wonder what she’s hiding.

Further complicating his stay in New Bern is the presence of a sullen teenage girl, Callie, who lives in the trailer park down the road from his grandfather’s cabin. Claiming to be 19, she works at the local sundries store and keeps to herself. When he discovers she was once befriended by his grandfather, Trevor hopes Callie can shed light on the mysterious circumstances of his grandfather’s death, but she offers few clues — until a crisis triggers a race that will uncover the true nature of Callie’s past, one more intertwined with the elderly man’s passing than Trevor could ever have anticipated.

In his quest to unravel Natalie and Callie’s secrets, Trevor will learn the true meaning of love and forgiveness . . . and that in life, to move forward, we must often return to the place where it all began.

Review: Nicholas Sparks’s latest novel, The Return, was my most anticipated autumn read. As a fan of his previous work, I had mixed feelings about this book. There were so many times I wanted to DNF this book in beginning, but I ended up finishing the book. Surprisingly, I liked the ending. First half the book is a one star, but I thought the second half of the book was four stars. The premise of the book seemed promising. I had two main issues with this book: 1) writing style and 2) main characters. In terms of the writing style, it’s told from male POV which I had no issue with, but often times the narration was tedious, most of the inner dialogue could have been skipped, and the dialogue between characters seemed forced and uncharacteristic. The second half of the book had more of the writing style that I’m familiar with from Nicholas Sparks and wished more of the book was written in this style. One of the biggest issues I had was with the main character, Trevor. Trevor was completely unlikable, too aggressive, and was trying too hard to be a southern gentleman when he isn’t one. It rubbed me the wrong way that he was basically stalking Natalie when he was perusing her. I also didn’t like that we barely knew much about Natalie and yet we are supposed to be okay with Trevor and Natalie’s sudden budding romance out of nowhere. However, I really loved the secondary characters, Callie, and Trevor’s grandfather, along with the mystery behind them. I was craving more of Callie’s story than Trevor’s. If you are a fan of his work, you may enjoy this one. If you aren’t familiar with Nicholas Sparks, I’d recommend checking out his previous books before diving into this one.

Rating: 3/5

Review: Winter Counts

Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Publication: Ecco

Publication Date: 8/25/2020

GoodReads Synopsis: Virgil Wounded Horse is the local enforcer on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. When justice is denied by the American legal system or the tribal council, Virgil is hired to deliver his own punishment, the kind that’s hard to forget. But when heroin makes its way into the reservation and finds Virgil’s nephew, his vigilantism suddenly becomes personal. He enlists the help of his ex-girlfriend and sets out to learn where the drugs are coming from, and how to make them stop.

They follow a lead to Denver and find that drug cartels are rapidly expanding and forming new and terrifying alliances. And back on the reservation, a new tribal council initiative raises uncomfortable questions about money and power. As Virgil starts to link the pieces together, he must face his own demons and reclaim his Native identity. He realizes that being a Native American in the twenty-first century comes at an incredible cost.

Winter Counts is a tour-de-force of crime fiction, a bracingly honest look at a long-ignored part of American life, and a twisting, turning story that’s as deeply rendered as it is thrilling

Review: When I started reading Winter Counts, I quickly realized that this was more of crime mystery than a thriller. Though it was a slow burn, I found that the story kept my attention throughout. I liked that the author gave insight into Lakota culture and weaved in history and present day injustices found on reservations. In terms of the writing style in the book, I wasn’t really invested in the characters and felt that there needed to be more character development which somewhat put me off from enjoying the book wholeheartedly and I realized this book wasn’t a right fit for me. However with that said, I highly recommend checking out own voices reviews of Winter Counts to figure out if this book is you may be interested in reading.

Rating: 3/5

Review: In a Holidaze

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
Publication: Gallery Books
Publication Date: 10/6/2020

Disclaimer: I received an advanced digital copy of this book from Gallery Books in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

Jam-packed with yuletide cheer, an unforgettable cast of characters, and Christina Lauren’s trademark “downright hilarious” (Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test) hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays.

Review: Christina Lauren is my favorite set of duo authors. I loved this holiday themed, childhood friends to lovers romance read. All the characters were delightful and loved that this book promoted self growth. I felt like I was watching a Hallmark Christmas movie while I was reading this book. There are a couple of sappy/cheesy moments, but that was to be expected. I found myself laughing out loud a couple of times. Overall, I highly recommend checking this one out if you love Christmas romance novels!

Rating: 4/5

3 Tips To Read Outside of Your Comfort Zone

This year I have stepped up my reading game by exploring genres that are out of my comfort zone. This has ultimately helped me diversify my reading and it’s helped me find some really amazing books along the way! Now I know reading genres that you don’t typically read may sound daunting, but it’s actually pretty easy. Reading out of our comfort zone can has a couple of great benefits such as encouraging us to learn new things, diversify our reading, and improving our emotional intelligence by learning to be more empathetic. Now you may be asking yourself, that sounds all great and dandy, but how do you actually do go about reading out of your comfort zone? Check out these helpful tips!

Read a book recommend by a friend or a loved one.
Reaching out to trusted friends or loved ones on book recommendations are always a great way to start. Not only does the recommendation get you out of your comfort zone, but it gives a bit of comfort knowing that someone else liked this book and it ends up being a great discussion to have with the person who recommended the book.

For example, one of my friends recommended that I watch the Hulu limited series 11/22/63 and then read the book by Stephen King. I really liked this approach because horror isn’t really thing, but the recommendation of historical fiction and sci-fi intrigued me. Once I watched the series and read the book, we had a great discussion about what aspects we loved from both and if we liked the show or the book more.


Join a buddy read/read-along.
Buddy reads on books that are out of your comfort zone are a perfect way to get a better perspective on what you’re reading. With buddy reads, there are some newbies who are reading the book for the first time and then there are others who are doing a re-read and have insights to share.

Buddy reads are super helpful to me especially for books that I wouldn’t typically pick up myself. The Jane Austen buddy reads that two of my friends hosted occasionally over the summer helped me develop my love for Jane Austen novels. Before that, I never thought I’d ever pick up a classic again because I was forced to read them for school and wasn’t sure how I felt about it. But I found buddy reads to be helpful because we were able to discuss how we felt about certain characters and interpretations of specific scenes.


Read a book from an author versus a genre.
If you can’t bring yourself to read a specific genre because you don’t know where to start or are wary of it, I’d suggest to start with an author instead. For example, for horror, you could start with Stephen King or for romance, start with Colleen Hoover or Alisha Rai.

Fantasy is out of my comfort zone, but earlier this year, I wanted to try it out. I decided to start with Neil Gaiman because I’ve heard incredible things about his work so I was very excited to pick up his books. The first book I picked up was Coraline because I loved the movie so I thought that this would be a great segue to his work. Turned it was and it opened the door to other fantasy books for me. Now fantasy has become one of my favorite genres to read!

What’s one genre that’s typically out of your comfort zone?