Recommendations | Middle Grade/Children Books I Loved!

Hi friends!

I hope you’re doing well and you’re having a fantastic day. Today I’m bringing you another round of recommendations: Middle grade and children books!

I don’t pick from these two genres very often, but when I do… I get invested in the stories! I’m currently reading an amazing Sophie Anderson book, and that is what inspired this post!

If you have young kids and want to read them good stories of bravery and adventure, this is the recommendation post for you! Or if you’re like me and just want to read something magical and fun, this one is also for you!

Let’s take a look at the books then:

And here they are! You have two classic books that I loved and three (fairly) recent books… either way, these are amazing and I would always recommend them. So let’s go through them individually!

1. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Starting off strong with the amazing classic “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl!

This is a middle grade that everyone should read at least once in their life. This book is special, wholesome and incredibly magical – basically everything you would want in a fantasy middle grade book! This was my first ever Roald Dahl book, and let me tell you: I completely understand why his books are so popular.

It’s a book that teaches kids to be humble, behave and be good to others. Not only that, but it’s incredibly fun! The characters are amazing and quirky and every single one of them serves a very specific purpose in delivering a message.

I highly recommend it if you never gave it a try. Also, if you are a fan of the movies, you definitely need to read it!

Synopsis

“Greetings to you, the lucky finder of this Gold Ticket from Mr Willy Wonka! I shake you warmly by the hand! Tremendous things are in store for you!

One miraculous moment changes Charlie Bucket’s life forever.

A boy who only gets to eat cabbage soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner finds a Golden Ticket that will take him into Willy Wonka’s magical chocolate factory.

Joining him on the tour are four horrible blighters:

Augustus Gloop – a great big greedy nincompoop, Veruca Salt – a spoiled brat, Violet Beauregarde – a repulsive little gum-chewer and Mike Teavee – a TV addict.

With a chocolate river, crafty squirrels and mysterious Oompa Loompas, Mr Wonka’s chocolate factory is the strangest, most magnificent place Charlie has ever seen.

What other surprises are in store for the lucky ticket winners?”

2. The House With Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson

The second recommendation I’m bringing to you today is “The House With Chicken Legs” by Sophie Anderson. Let me tell you something about Sophie Anderson’s books: they are middle grade perfection! To me she is the best middle grade writer, hands down.

This book in particular blew me away with how amazing it was. I can honestly say this is probably my favorite middle grade of all time – so that’s saying a lot! Not only was the story beautiful and full of magic, but it was written with a solid story with great meaning. Definitely check the synopsis below to see what the story is about! As a nice bonus, you get a lot of references to Russian culture, so I’m happy to say I learned a thing or two.

The illustrations that appear alongside the story are amazing and capture beautifully the essence of the story. The book wouldn’t be the same without them and I’m glad she worked with such an amazing artist to bring the story to life!

I highly recommend it if you like a good story with depth and meaning behind it. I can’t stress this enough: if you like middle grade books, you need this in your life!

Synopsis

“All 12-year-old Marinka wants is a friend. A real friend. Not like her house with chicken legs. Sure, the house can play games like tag and hide-and-seek, but Marinka longs for a human companion. Someone she can talk to and share secrets with.

But that’s tough when your grandmother is a Yaga, a guardian who guides the dead into the afterlife. It’s even harder when you live in a house that wanders all over the world . . . carrying you with it. Even worse, Marinka is being trained to be a Yaga. That means no school, no parties–and no playmates that stick around for more than a day.

So when Marinka stumbles across the chance to make a real friend, she breaks all the rules . . . with devastating consequences. Her beloved grandmother mysteriously disappears, and it’s up to Marinka to find her–even if it means making a dangerous journey to the afterlife.”

3. Castle of Tangled Magic by Sophie Anderson

Another Sophie Anderson that I think is worth mentioning is “The Castle of Tangled Magic”. 

This is such a cute book! It has a very creative story that you’ll want to keep reading until you’re finished with the book. 

What I liked the most from this book was definitely the lessons behind the story. Lessons such as “belief is a very powerful thing” and “magic is everywhere” are only a few of the lessons this book teaches. The characters were amazing and I loved that even though they were all so different, they worked together to help Olia (the main character).

Saara Soderlund is the illustrator (once again) and she did an amazing job with this book. It really brought the story to life!

Another cool thing about it is that it is themed after slavic folklore! So that was another fun aspect of the book.

It’s beautifully written, full of details and magical touches! You can tell the author really took her time with this book, because you can feel the love through the pages. Definitely worth picking it up!

Synopsis

Magic and whimsy meet in this Howl’s Moving Castle for a new generation from the critically adored Sophie Anderson, author of The House with Chicken Legs.

Twelve-year-old Olia knows a thing or two about secrets. Her parents are the caretakers of Castle Mila, a soaring palace with golden domes, lush gardens, and countless room. Literally countless rooms. There are rooms that appear and disappear, and rooms that have been hiding themselves for centuries. The only person who can access them is Olia. She has a special bond with the castle, and it seems to trust her with its secrets.

But then a violent storm rolls in . . . a storm that skips over the village and surrounds the castle, threatening to tear it apart. While taking cover in a rarely-used room, Olia stumbles down a secret passage that leads to a part of Castle Mila she’s never seen before. A strange network of rooms that hide the secret to the castle’s past . . . and the truth about who’s trying to destroy it.”

4. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Another book I want to share with you today is “The Girl Who Drank the Moon” by Kelly Barhhill. I found this story to be very magical! It made me dream because it’s told like a fairytale and you get completely immersed in this fictional world. It is a very atmospheric book because the author does an amazing job on awakening your senses – I swear I could almost hear the birds chirping, smell the woods and feel the magic from the moon!
The characters are adorable, and I promise you will fall in love with every single one of them! I loved how there were two cute magical creatures added to the mix (who worked like companions to the lead), a sweet witch and a magical grandmother everyone would want in their life.
It’s definitely a story that makes you dream and takes you to a magical place. It’s targeted as middle grade, but it’s really a beautiful story for every age!

Synopsis

“Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and deliver them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey. 

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule–but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her–even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.”

5. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

And to finish this list with a bang, I’m bringing you another amazing classic “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”! If you don’t know, this story was inspired by a little girl named Alice Liddell who Lewis Carroll liked to tell stories to.

So how would I describe “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”? In a nutshell: this book is the definition of childhood, nonsense and craziness. I can confidently say that I’ve never read a book like this, and I completely understand why it became so popular among people of all ages.

I highly encourage you to read this book, no matter how old you are. It is a beautiful story that reminds you of what it was like to be a child. When you are a kid, nothing really matters and nothing is taken seriously, as it should be. It’s a remarkable piece of art and I definitely recommend it.

Just a piece of advice: if you can, get a copy with the original illustrations from John Tenniel!

Synopsis

“On a drowsy afternoon by a riverbank, a young and distracted Alice follows a rabbit into a fantastical underground world that grows curiouser and curiouser. Dared, insulted, amused, and threatened by a succession of anthropomorphic creatures, the indomitable Alice falls deeper into a swirl of the imagination where logic has no place.

Referenced, resourced, analyzed, and embraced since its publication in 1865, Carroll’s masterpiece of the irrational has inspired such varied artists as Walt Disney, Marilyn Manson, Jerome Kern, James Joyce, and Tim Burton. It stands as one of the most extravagantly and ingeniously absurd works in the English language.”

And there you have it! These are some of my favorite middle grade/children books. I hope you found this recommendation post interesting and I hope you found yourself some new books to read! As usual, I’m always looking for book recommendations so let me know if you have any for me!

Thank you for taking the time to read this post! I hope you liked what I had to share with you today. I’ll see you in the next one! 🙂

Review | Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

“It is definitely annoying that straight (and white, for that matter) is the default, and that the only people who have to think about their identity are the ones who don’t fit that mold. Straight people really should have to come out, and the more awkward it is, the better. Awkwardness should be a requirement.” 4/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: band t-shirts, Harry Potter references, blackmailing, friendship, an old couch, eyeliner, surprise bands, cheerleading uniforms, waffles, teenage hormones, Oreos, Tumblr, good music and a lot of emails.

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

This was a cute book! I have some good things I really want to point out:
1. The writing style. It was very easy to read, especially because of the slang. Their dialogs were very realistic and relatable. This is not a “formal” book, and I’m glad it’s not because the characters gained more dimension.
2. (…speaking of) The characters. I honestly feel like I was put in their high school during this book. All the characters felt realistic. Not just because of the way they spoke, but also for their attitudes and feelings. A great example of this is the first time Simon went to school after Martin posted on Tumblr that he was gay. The fact that he went to his locker and everyone was acting normal (until the douches appeared, of course) felt realistic.
3. Simon’s perspective. I really loved how close I felt to Simon. Being in his head and seeing his struggles made me realize how lucky I am. It was great to see a different perspective on this subject, and I was so happy he finally got his well deserved happiness at the end!
See, the thing is… even though it’s a good book, I didn’t think it was anything extraordinary. I know it deals with a (yet) sensitive topic and it was great to see how Simon dealt with positive and negative attention, but other than that… It was a very simple contemporary book. I enjoyed it!

Review | Jaded and Tyed by Penelope Ward

“I tried to convince myself that my secret chats with Jade were nothing more than friendly banter. But I knew better. I was likely headed to hell in a handbasket. I lived for her messages—fucking addicted to talking to her. I knew it was wrong, but I’d managed to convince myself that it wasn’t cheating.” 3/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: pixie cuts, snuggies, Broadway, baby nephews, treehouses, awkward dinners and accidental friend requests.

From New York Times bestselling author, Penelope Ward, comes a new novelette.

The first time I met Jade Jameson, I lost my words and accidentally dropped a beer bottle, smashing it to the ground.

The Broadway star sister of my brother’s wife had paid us a surprise visit on Christmas. Quite simply, she was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen; I was mesmerized.

I’d made a fool of myself, though, and to make matters worse, my girlfriend was standing right there when it all happened.

Jade went back to New York, and we didn’t cross paths again for a year—until one night when a Facebook notification lit up my screen, setting off a chain of events that would change my life forever.

I was very excited when I found out this book existed because when I finished reading “Neighbor Dearest” I wanted to read more about Jade (Chelsea’s sister) and Tyler (Damien’s brother). Then my disappointment came when I found out this is only a novella and not a full length book. Still, I picked up the book to finally read the story I was so curious about.

I think the quote I picked above describes this book perfectly. After a few months from their memorable encounter during the family dinner, they start texting each other and their connection deepens online… and in secret.

The characters were interesting, but the romance wasn’t the best. I was a little uncomfortable with all the emotional cheating going on since Tyler was in a “serious” relationship with another girl the entire time. Not only that, but I also consider the romance between Jade and Tyler insta-lovey. They only met a few times in person and they were dating other people most of the time. I didn’t feel a true connection between them.

In the end, it wasn’t what I envisioned for them as a couple, but it was entertaining nonetheless.

Review | Neighbor Dearest by Penelope Ward

“You can’t always get what you want. But don’t be afraid to ask.” 3.25/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: new landlords, unicorns, homemade pizza, steamy books, fires, painted murals, hospital stays, ripped shirts and rottweilers.

After getting dumped, the last thing I needed was to move next door to someone who reminded me of my ex-boyfriend, Elec.

Damien was a hotter version of my ex.

The neighbor I’d dubbed “Angry Artist” also had two massive dogs that kept me up with their barking.

He wanted nothing to do with me. Or so I thought until one night I heard laughter coming through an apparent hole in my bedroom wall.

Damien had been listening to all of my phone sessions with my therapist.

The sexy artist next door now knew all of my deepest secrets and insecurities.

We got to talking.

He set me straight with tips to get over my breakup.

He became a good friend, but Damien made it clear that he couldn’t be anything more.

Problem was, I was falling hard for him anyway. And as much as he pushed me away, I knew he felt the same…because his heartbeat didn’t lie.

I thought my heart had been broken by Elec, but it was alive and beating harder than ever for Damien.

I just hoped he wouldn’t shatter it for good.

I read “Stepbrother Dearest” by Penelope Ward a couple of years ago but at the time I didn’t know there was another standalone romance associated with it. I found out about “Neighbor Dearest” recently and I was excited to pick it up knowing it was about the girl Elec rejected.

Personally I think this book was okay. I’m not the biggest fan of “artistic” male leads in NA/YA romances, but this worked out nicely in the end. Chelsea was a good character, and so was Damien, but there was something about the couple dynamic that was a little off. Not only that but I found it weird that at first everyone (neighbors and random people) thought Damien was rude, but that… just evaporated throughout the book.

The romance is on the steamier side, and it was nicely done. I enjoyed watching their relationship flourish with time!

One thing that made me curious while reading this book was Tyler and Jade. I did some research and I found they have their own little novella named “Jaded and Tyed”, so I immediately added it to my reading list!

At the end of the day, it wasn’t the best romance I have ever read, but it was definitely an entertaining read.

Review | Stepbrother Dearest by Penelope Ward

“A broken heart is still a beating one.” 4.5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: hot sauce, stolen underwear, anagrams, clove cigarettes, gaming sessions, shamrock tattoos, bowls of ice cream, clubbing outfits, poker chips and unfinished books.

You’re not supposed to want the one who torments you.

When my stepbrother, Elec, came to live with us my senior year, I wasn’t prepared for how much of a jerk he’d be.

I hated that he took it out on me because he didn’t want to be here.
I hated that he brought girls from our high school back to his room.
But what I hated the most was the unwanted way my body reacted to him.

At first, I thought all he had going for him were his rock-hard tattooed abs and chiseled face. Then, things started changing between us, and it all came to a head one night.

Just as quickly as he’d come into my life, he was gone back to California.

It had been years since I’d seen Elec.

When tragedy struck our family, I’d have to face him again.

And holy hell, the teenager who made me crazy was now a man that drove me insane.

I had a feeling my heart was about to get broken again.

That last sentence of the book before the epilogue killed me… I wish I could put it here, but it would be a spoiler. I was in the mood for a good romance book, and this sounded super good. This story portraits the romance between two non-related step brothers, who don’t like each other – at first. And I like how even though the book has a taboo topic, it was not an important thing in this book. The story does not revolve around the taboo aspect like in most stepbrother romance books, but it revolves around other serious topics like abuse and depression.

I really liked the story and the romance in it. Even though I would consider this an “enemies to lovers” kind of story – at least in the beginning -, it’s definitely a lighter kind of hate. It’s also a very steamy book, so I would only recommend it for a mature audience.

The only thing I wish I knew was who sent that mysterious text to Elec. It was never mentioned again, and there was no logic behind it… other than that, I don’t have any other negative things to say. It was so entertaining that I read it in one sitting, and I MAY have cried… a lot.

Recommendations | Wholesome Stories to Keep Your Heart Warm While It’s Raining

Hi bookish friends!

Are you feeling cold? I don’t know about you, but I sure am! It’s starting to get very chilly here in Lisbon and the leaves are falling everywhere creating a beautiful Fall scenery. This is my favorite time of the year, so I’m beyond happy!

There is no better time to cozy up with a book and a cup of tea/coffee than now! The rain outside and the soft blankets made me think about all the books that made my heart warm, and that’s exactly what I’m bringing you today: wholesome stories to keep your heart warm while it’s raining!

I have an amazing selection of 5 novels to keep you warm during the Autumn/Winter season. Here they are:

I personally loved all of these books because all the stories are amazing! I have to warn you that the saying is true: before the rainbow comes the storm. This means that things may get ugly before they get better in some of these books, so don’t expect these to be roses and butterflies from beginning to end! Still, all of these are incredibly wholesome and I would highly recommend every single one of them to you!

Okay, let’s go through them individually!

1. The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

The first book I want to talk to you about is “The House in the Cerulean Sea” by TJ Klune. Before I’ve even picked this up, I saw countless positive reviews on every single social media platform. This book is very unique! I would describe this as an amazing fantasy book with great characters and a wholesome story.
I’m so happy I decided to buy this and give it a try. It easily became one of the best books I have ever read! The story is beautifully written and easy to follow, it’s full of magic and humor, and the interactions between the kids and the adults were very heartwarming.
This book suits everyone of every age. It doesn’t matter if you’re an adult or a kid, this story is meant for everyone. The hype is real and it’s definitely worth it, can’t recommend it enough!

Synopsis

“A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.”

2. Away With the Penguins by Hazel Prior

Next on the list is a very underrated book in my humble opinion: “Away With The Penguins” or “How the Penguins Saved Veronica” by Hazel Prior. It’s not a very common thing to find in books, but this one in particular can be found with two different English titles.
The wholesome factor in this book is enormous. Not only is the story fun and it has amazing characters, but it also talks about topics such as family bonds and it has a huge environmental aspect regarding nature conservation and endangered species. I also loved how realistic the entire story feels!
It was a really fun book to read and I think it’s a great option to pick up if you’re looking for something light and heartwarming – and even if you’re not, I would still recommend you this book! It’s charming and you’ll fly through the pages. I mean, what could possibly go wrong with a story with penguins? If you don’t love penguins already, you definitely will after reading this book!

Synopsis

Veronica McCreedy is about to have the journey of a lifetime…

Veronica McCreedy lives in a mansion by the sea. She loves a nice cup of Darjeeling tea whilst watching a good wildlife documentary. And she’s never seen without her ruby-red lipstick.

Although these days Veronica is rarely seen by anyone because, at 85, her days are spent mostly at home, alone.

She can be found either collecting litter from the beach (‘people who litter the countryside should be shot’), trying to locate her glasses (‘someone must have moved them’) or shouting instructions to her assistant, Eileen (‘Eileen, door!’).

Veronica doesn’t have family or friends nearby. Not that she knows about, anyway… And she has no idea where she’s going to leave her considerable wealth when she dies.

But today… today Veronica is going to make a decision that will change all of this.

3. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Another book I thought was worth mentioning is “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman. To be fair, Fredrik Backman writes amazing, wholesome books… but for me this one is the best!
It was an emotional rollercoaster from beginning to end! This story is about an old man named Ove, who is a very strict and short tempered man. He doesn’t get along with any of his neighbors and he has no plans of changing that. But what no one knows is that underneath his hard shell is a man who suffered a lot in life and still carries a lot of sadness and grief within.
There are a lot of sad scenes – so prepare your tissues -, but there are also a lot of funny scenes that balance the sad. I completely understood Ove and his pain, and I cared a lot about him and his story – I was rooting for him the entire time! So naturally, I cried a lot. Not only when I finished the book but also during most of it.
Fredrik Backman’s writing style is very unique, and he has a talent to mess with your emotions. But if you’re not interested in reading the book, I’m glad to tell you that there is a movie adaptation! I personally haven’t watched it, but I heard it’s good. Either way, I would still recommend the book. It’s an amazing, emotional book that I will never forget!

Synopsis

“A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.”

4. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

The next book I want to share with you is the amazing “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig. This was my first time reading a Matt Haig book and I absolutely loved it!
In this book, the main character reviews her life decisions to send a clear message: make readers understand they’re exactly where they need to be and we shouldn’t regret anything in our lives. It makes you think about all the decisions you made, big or small, and how they made an impact on the course of your life.
I fully understand the hype of this book and I’m happy it is so popular, because I know for sure I will never forget what I’ve just read. It’s a book that makes you think about life after death and life regrets. It’s incredible, I can’t recommend it enough!

Synopsis

“Nora’s life has been going from bad to worse. Then at the stroke of midnight on her last day on earth she finds herself transported to a library. There she is given the chance to undo her regrets and try out each of the other lives whe might have lived.

Which raises the ultimate question: with infinite choices, what is the best way to live?”

5. The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns

Last, but not least, I present to you the final book recommendation: the book “The Woman in the White Kimono” by Ana Johns.
This book is absolutely stunning! It reminded me of my all-time favorite book “Memoirs of a Geisha”, so I couldn’t help falling in love with this story. It’s essentially an historical love story, but you can take a look at the synopsis below to understand better what this book is about!
A cool thing about this book is that it is based on a real story. The inspiration came from someone close to her that lived a similar reality, so she worked on this fictional story for years before publishing it. But don’t be fooled: this is so much more than a love story. It’s a story about heartbreak, love and loss.
This book is beautifully written and the reading experience is very immersive. Not only will you feel like you traveled in time, but you also get a good glimpse of what life in Japan was like in 1957. I can’t stress enough how beautiful and wholesome it is, I can’t recommend it enough!

Synopsis

“Oceans and decades apart, two women are inextricably bound by the secrets between them.

Japan, 1957. Seventeen-year-old Naoko Nakamura’s prearranged marriage to the son of her father’s business associate would secure her family’s status in their traditional Japanese community, but Naoko has fallen for another man—an American sailor, a gaijin—and to marry him would bring great shame upon her entire family. When it’s learned Naoko carries the sailor’s child, she’s cast out in disgrace and forced to make unimaginable choices with consequences that will ripple across generations.

America, present day. Tori Kovač, caring for her dying father, finds a letter containing a shocking revelation—one that calls into question everything she understood about him, her family and herself. Setting out to learn the truth behind the letter, Tori’s journey leads her halfway around the world to a remote seaside village in Japan, where she must confront the demons of the past to pave a way for redemption.

In breathtaking prose and inspired by true stories from a devastating and little-known era in Japanese and American history, The Woman in the White Kimono illuminates a searing portrait of one woman torn between her culture and her heart, and another woman on a journey to discover the true meaning of home.”

Aaaand now you know what to do while it’s raining outside! We’ve reached the end of the list and I truly hope you found this post interesting. Some of these are very popular, but hopefully you haven’t heard about one or two of them… until now! 🙂

As always, you know the drill: I’m always looking for book recommendations so let me know if you have any for me! I love to find new books.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post! I hope you liked what I had to share with you today. I’ll see you in the next one! 🙂

Review | I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

“Why do we romanticize the dead? Why can’t we be honest about them? Especially moms, they’re the most romanticized of anyone. Moms are saints, angels by merely existing. No one could possibly understand what it’s like to be a mom. Men will never understand, women with no children will never understand. No one buts moms know the hardship of motherhood and we non-moms must heap nothing but praise upon mom because we lowly, pitiful, non-moms are mere peasants compared to the goddesses we call mothers.” 5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: screenplays, hush money, crying on cue, auditions, eating disorders, jealousy, child stardom, gift baskets and abusive parents.

A heartbreaking and hilarious memoir by iCarly and Sam & Cat star Jennette McCurdy about her struggles as a former child actor—including eating disorders, addiction, and a complicated relationship with her overbearing mother—and how she retook control of her life.

Jennette McCurdy was six years old when she had her first acting audition. Her mother’s dream was for her only daughter to become a star, and Jennette would do anything to make her mother happy. So she went along with what Mom called “calorie restriction,” eating little and weighing herself five times a day. She endured extensive at-home makeovers while Mom chided, “Your eyelashes are invisible, okay? You think Dakota Fanning doesn’t tint hers?” She was even showered by Mom until age sixteen while sharing her diaries, email, and all her income.

In I’m Glad My Mom Died, Jennette recounts all this in unflinching detail—just as she chronicles what happens when the dream finally comes true. Cast in a new Nickelodeon series called iCarly, she is thrust into fame. Though Mom is ecstatic, emailing fan club moderators and getting on a first-name basis with the paparazzi (“Hi Gale!”), Jennette is riddled with anxiety, shame, and self-loathing, which manifest into eating disorders, addiction, and a series of unhealthy relationships. These issues only get worse when, soon after taking the lead in the iCarly spinoff Sam & Cat alongside Ariana Grande, her mother dies of cancer. Finally, after discovering therapy and quitting acting, Jennette embarks on recovery and decides for the first time in her life what she really wants.

Told with refreshing candor and dark humor, I’m Glad My Mom Died is an inspiring story of resilience, independence, and the joy of shampooing your own hair.

It’s impossible not to be curious about this book after reading the title. Like everyone else who came across this book, I was hooked by the words “I’m Glad My Mom Died”. That sounds very scandalous… and intriguing!

This book is Jennette McCurdy’s memoir, and trust me: it’s a good one. I watched iCarly occasionally (not religiously), so I was already familiar with Jennette’s work as an actress, but I would have never in a million years guessed what was behind her success. 

She shares a lot in her book so there are a lot of things she talks about, but here are the things that stood out to me the most:

  1. The family dynamics – how her parents were always fighting, how she didn’t have a close relationship with her father and how she would rather spend time at church than at home because it was her happy place away from home.
  2. The abuse, manipulation and exploitation from her mother – this is probably the main focus of the book. From a very young age she had her hair bleached, eyebrows done and etc because her mom wanted her to be perfect for acting roles. Jennette was constantly stressing and worrying about not getting her mother upset and that took a big toll on her mental health. Not only that but her mother knew she would feel bad, so she would take advantage of her daughter.
  3. The child stardom – the fact that she never wanted to act in the first place – was a very important thing in this book. Her mother made her act because it was her dream to become famous, but it wasn’t Jennette’s dream. She did a lot that she doesn’t want, including having to deal with that “Creator” creepy guy (allegedly Dan Schneider).
  4. The body image issues and eating disorders – another big thing about her story is that her mother created her bulimia. If this sounds weird to you, I am sure you haven’t read the book, but it’s true. It’s very sad that she developed a very serious eating disorder because her mother made her starve constantly.

This is a very personal memoir, but mostly – it’s an important one. This is just a real life example of what so many child actors go through growing up. They frequently are abused and exploited by parents and people in the business, and they’re scarred for life – just like Jennette was

It’s a very impactful and tough book to read, and I’m very impressed with what was achieved with this book. I congratulate Jennette for sharing her story and for being brave to speak about her experience as a child actress. It is one of the best memoirs I have ever read – so that’s saying a lot!

Wrap-Up | What I Read in October 2022

Hello friends!

How are you doing? Did you miss me? Well, Wrap Up wise, I mean. I didn’t write a Wrap Up for September for a very simple reason: I didn’t read ANY books in September. Shocking, I know! The truth is that I had a lot going on in September with my trip to Spain and also my surgery plus recovery. So unfortunately, that left me with no time to read. But with that said, I’m happy to report that I’ve read a some books in October! And that’s exactly what I’m bringing you today: October’s Wrap Up.

October was a good reading month! I’ve read a grand total of 7 books, which was good! Ready to check what I’ve read this past month? Let’s go!

  1. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman: 3.75/5⭐
  2. Roomhate by Penelope Ward: 4.5/5
  3. Neighbor Dearest by Penelope Ward: 3.25/5
  4. Jaded and Tyed by Penelope Ward: 3/5
  5. The Obesity Code by Jason Fung: 5/5
  6. Bossman by Vi Keeland: 3.25/5
  7. The Book of Gothel by Mary McMyne: 5/5

So this was mostly a romance month, with a non-fiction book and a fantasy book to the mix! In terms of ratings, the non-fiction book “The Obesity Code” and “The Book of Gothel” both win with a 5 star rating – I truly loved everything about these books! I admit I picked the romances mostly for fun so even though the ratings were lower, I still had a lot of fun reading them. I was trying to read more about Penelope Ward since I know she is a popular romance reader, but I didn’t read a lot from her until this month, so I ended up reading 3 books from her! And don’t worry, I’ll be posting the reviews for these books soon.

October was a good reading month, filled with nice books! In a perfect world, I would have read more thrillers and horror since it was spooky season… but I honestly was just in the mood for romance and non-fiction. The heart wants what the heart wants!

What about you guys? How was your reading month? Let me know in the comments! Thank you for reading friends, I’ll catch you guys later!

Review | Roomhate by Penelope Ward

“The way I see it, if you want to cheat on someone, you should just break up with them. Cheating is for cowards.” 4.5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: resentment, acoustic guitars, tequila shots, Summer houses, strong coffee, memories and cute baby girls.

Sharing a summer house with a hot-as-hell roommate should be a dream come true, right?

Not when it’s Justin… the only person I’d ever loved… who now hates me.

When my grandmother died and left me half of the house on Aquidneck Island, there was a catch: the other half would go to the boy she helped raise.

The same boy who turned into the teenager whose heart I broke years ago.

The same teenager who’s now a man with a hard body and a hardass personality to match.

I hadn’t seen him in years, and now we’re living together because neither one of us is willing to give up the house.

The worst part? He didn’t come alone.

I’d soon realize there’s a thin line between love and hate. I could see through that smug smile. Beneath it all…the boy is still there. So is our connection.

The problem is…now that I can’t have Justin, I’ve never wanted him more.

This was so much nicer than I first thought it would be! I picked this up randomly, but as soon as I started reading I was very intrigued with the story.

I liked all the characters in this, not only the main characters – I even liked the girl Justin was dating! The romance between Amelia and Justin was incredible! If you’re into the enemies-to-lovers trope, you’re in for a treat! It was full of depth, angst and the main characters had great chemistry. When they got together I was very excited to see how they would interact and what was going to happen!

I was also happy to see that there was no cheating from Justin. He went into the house with his girlfriend, but he was always respectful and never tried anything with Amelia while he was with the other girl.

The writing was great and very smooth. I really like how the plot kept twisting so it seemed like they would never be together. Right when they were starting to get close, things changed. It sounds like it was frustrating, but it was very well done and it kept me interested in the story.

We also got some chapters dedicated to when they were younger. I wish there were more moments like this in the book and I also wished those moments included more of their relationship with Amelia’s grandmother.

I think what makes this story so great is that there’s a great balance of pure chemistry, steaminess, sweetness and plot twists! It was very difficult to put this book down! I loved every second of it. I highly recommend it if you’re into steamy romances!

Recommendations | 5 Books with Names in the Title

Hi everyone!

I hope you’re doing well and you’re having a fantastic day! Today I’m starting a new fun little series on my blog – I’m calling it a series because I want to do more blog posts like this one in the future. 🙂

In this series, I’m going to share with you five books that – you guessed it! – have names in the title. I thought this would be a fun way of sharing random recommendations with you, with different genres and writing styles!

Let’s take a look at the books then!

And here they are! I just realized that for some reason I only picked female characters for this post – it wasn’t on purpose, I promise! But no worries, I’ll compensate with male characters in the next “Books With Names in the Title” post.

Some of them you may already know because I’ve talked about them for a while now, but some of them are new additions. So let’s go through them individually!

1. Michigan vs. the Boys by Carrie S. Allen

You have read it correctly: Michigan. Don’t think of the state folks, because the main character of this book is a girl named Michigan!
When I first read the synopsis (below), I thought this would be a “girl power” kind of book of a girl who bested the boys of her hockey team, but I was wrong. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but it’s a very serious book with some serious topics. It’s a story about bullying and perseverance, even when the world seems against you.
It’s heavy, but it’s a book that left a mark on me. I was left with very strong feelings and I know I will never forget about this book. I believe this book is extremely underrated and I wish more people gave it a chance! I highly recommend giving this one a try, just be aware of trigger warnings for abuse, bullying and violence throughout the book.

Synopsis

“When a determined girl is confronted with the culture of toxic masculinity, it’s time to even the score.

Michigan Manning lives for hockey, and this is her year to shine. That is, until she gets some crushing news: budget cuts will keep the girls’ hockey team off the ice this year.

If she wants colleges to notice her, Michigan has to find a way to play. Luckily, there’s still one team left in town …

The boys’ team isn’t exactly welcoming, but Michigan’s prepared to prove herself. She plays some of the best hockey of her life, in fact, all while putting up with changing in the broom closet, constant trash talk and “harmless” pranks that always seem to target her.

But once hazing crosses the line into assault, Michigan must weigh the consequences of speaking up – even if it means putting her future on the line.”

2. Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

You guessed it, Rose Gold is the name of the main character for this book.

This book is a fictitious story based on Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s true story. If you don’t know Gypsy Rose, I recommend you do a quick Google search because this case was absolutely crazy and messed up!

It portrays a very toxic and intriguing mother/daughter relationship, and you get to see the way they talk to each other versus their thoughts – that was one of my favorite parts of this book. 

And by the way, this is in essence a thriller! It was very creepy and haunting, and I was very impressed with this book. It was really good and it was a very interesting approach to creating fiction through true-crime.

Synopsis

“For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold.

Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar.

After serving five years in prison, Patty begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes. And Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling…

And she’s waited such a long time for her mother to come home.”

3. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Yup, Vanessa is the main character’s name for this book.
How to describe this book? I would say disturbing but important. I definitely took a lot from this book and I know I will never forget it. After finishing the book I didn’t know how to feel because even though I was very interested in it, I felt disgusted and uncomfortable at the same time.
This book is about a teenage girl who has a secret relationship with her English teacher. You would think this is a very obvious problem, but it’s not a straightforward and simple book to understand. The goal of the book is exactly that: to be confusing and to make you question things, and maybe encourage you to start a conversation about it.
I’m not going to lie, it’s a very uncomfortable, difficult book to read and you should keep that in mind if you decide to pick this up. But I honestly think it’s worth it and I highly recommend it.

Synopsis

“Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.”

4. Fable by Adrienne Young

This is a book I’ve recommended a few times here on the blog. The main character’s name in this story is Fable! Cool name, huh? But the best thing about this book is the really cool, atmospheric story! The way the characters talked and acted, the terms used, the scenery… Everything contributed to create a rich story in Fable! It’s definitely the type of book that you don’t know who to trust. Everyone acts suspicious and has an agenda here! I will say there were some points the story felt a bit slow paced, but not to the point that would bother me. Still, there is a lot of adventure, danger and secrets to unfold, so if you like pirate stories you are in for a treat!

Synopsis

For seventeen-year-old Fable, the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home she has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one, and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father, and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him, and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men. Fable takes you on a spectacular journey filled with romance, intrigue, and adventure.

5. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

The name of the character is – you guessed it again – Nina Hill.
This is a very fun, contemporary romance! The characters were sweet and quirky, and I loved their interactions. As the main character, Nina was a likable character and I related to her a lot. She is the kind of character who likes to stay at home and be quiet with a book in her hand – who doesn’t?
Still, my favorite thing about this book was the writing and humor! It’s a very charming and wholesome book, and there are so many funny references and dialogs that will make you giggle. I would recommend it for a fun read, with nice characters and humor!

Synopsis

The author of Other People’s Houses and The Garden of Small Beginnings delivers a quirky and charming novel chronicling the life of confirmed introvert Nina Hill as she does her best to fly under everyone’s radar.

Meet Nina Hill: A young woman supremely confident in her own…shell.

The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all–or mostly all–excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.
1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.

And we’ve reached the end of the list! I hope you found this post (at least a little) interesting and I hope you found some new books. And once again, I’m always looking for book recommendations so let me know if you have any for me!

Thank you for taking the time to read this post! I hope you liked what I had to share with you today. I’ll see you in the next one! 🙂