Review | Little Lies by H. Hunting

“Sometimes we have to break so we can recreate a stronger version of ourselves.” 3.5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: lucky charms, tiny bikinis, superheroes, nude models, hockey players, tutors, college dorms, puck bunnies, art classes and a lot of bird flipping.

I don’t want you.
You mean nothing to me.
I never loved you.

I turned my words into swords.
And I cut her down. Shoved the blade in and watched her fall.

I said I’d never hurt her, and I did.

Years later, I’m faced with all the little lies, the untruths, the false realities, the damage I inflicted, when all I wanted was to indulge my obsession.

Lavender Waters is the princess in the tower. Even her name is the thing fairy tales are made of.

I used to be the one who saved her.
Over and over again.

But I don’t want to save her anymore.
I just want to pretend the lies are still the truth.

A standalone angsty new adult romance.

Heroine:
 Lavender Waters (Alex and Violet Waters’ youngest daughter, PUCKED and FOREVER PUCKED couple origin, Pucked Series )

Hero: Kodiak (Kody) Bowman (Rook and Lainey Bowman’s son, A LIE FOR A LIE couple origin, All In Series)

I was in the mood for a nice new adult romance, and this was the first book I thought of picking up. It was an okay story, but definitely not my favorite.

The characters were okay, but a bit too immature for my own taste. One thing I thought about Lavender (by the way, that’s a cool name) is that she wasn’t just another typical main lead. She was surprisingly strong. You definitely get to watch her grow, coming from a place of insecurities and anxiety to a place where she became very sure about herself. With that said, she had a lot of flaws too. She was immature and she made stupid decisions without thinking about the consequences. Kody was more of a typical NA main lead. He was a bit too overprotective and a caveman sometimes, but he was… okay. 

The romance was good and the characters had chemistry, but there was something off about this romance that I couldn’t put my finger on. Maybe it’s because I feel like the interactions were limited, and they didn’t spend a lot of time together. There was a lot of inner monologue and sex scenes (mostly solo), but there was not a lot of interaction between them, so I guess there is where the romance failed for me. Also, what  kept them apart wasn’t even that bad, so the motive ended up being very silly and all that drama (and the plot basis) felt unnecessary.

One thing that got me confused was the amount of people this book had. My lord, it was hard to keep up with all the siblings and cousins when the book started. This book is marketed as a standalone, but apparently this is a book related to an already existing series that I didn’t know. Maybe I’ll pick it up one day? I don’t know yet.

I was entertained, so that’s what really matters to me. Not a perfect book, but it was okay for what it was!

Review | How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie

“When we hate our enemies, we are giving them power over us: power over our sleep, our appetites, our blood pressure, our health, and our happiness.” 4.5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: anxiety, prayer, happiness, getting busy, true stories and life-changing knowledge.

The book ‘How to stop worrying & start living’ suggest many ways to conquer worry and lead a wonderful life.

The book mentions fundamental facts to know about worry and magic formula for solving worry-some situations.

Psychologists & Doctors’ view:

-Worry can make even the most stolid person ill.

-Worry may cause nervous breakdown.

-Worry can even cause tooth decay

-Worry is one of the factors for High Blood Pressure.

-Worry makes you tense and nervous and affect the nerves of your stomach.

The book suggests basic techniques in analysing worry, step by step, in order to cope up with them.

A very interesting feature of the book is ‘How to eliminate 50% of your business worries’.

The book offers 7 ways to cultivate a mental attitude that will bring you peace and happiness. Also, the golden rule for conquering worry, keeping your energy & spirits high.

The book consists of some True Stories which will help the readers in conquering worry to lead you to success in life.

The book is full of similar incidences and narrations which will make our readers to understand the situation in an easy way and lead a happy life. A must read book for everyone.

I’ve been struggling with anxiety for as long as I can remember, and in the past few years it has gotten worse. Luckily, a good friend of mine recommended this book to me, so I decided to give it a try! After reading, I can happily say that this book has completely changed my perspective on worrying and my mentality on the subject.

In this book, Dale Carnegie shares techniques to help us overcome worry in order to live with peace and happiness. The book is divided into eight parts: it goes from understanding and learning facts about worry, to how to analyze what is worrying us, to stop worrying and live a happier life. I could be here all day gushing about this amazing book because I took so much from it, but here are things that marked me the most:

  • To not think too much about what happened in the past and what the future could bring, and focus on today instead;
  • That there’s a difference between being worried and being concerned about something – this was a big one for me;
  • To think of what is worrying me and what the worst case scenario is if the worry became true. After figuring that out, accept it and resolve it the best I can. And voilá, it doesn’t seem so bad anymore!
  • To get clear and deconstruct what is worrying me;
  • To get busy, constructive, improve myself constantly and focus on what I CAN control;
  • That controlling my worries will have a tremendous impact on my health. I’m promising myself I’ll rest more to be energized, I’ll find new ways to relax and I won’t let others rain on my parade!

I feel like almost everything in this book is not ground breaking in the sense that it is mostly common sense. Now with that said, this book tells you exactly what you need to hear, in a very informative, structured and constructive way  – and that’s why this book is so special! Another great thing about this book is that it is packed with true stories that will help inspire readers by showing how others overcame worry.

An important note: if you’re not religious, don’t let the religious aspect of this book stop you from reading the book. I’m sure religious people will resonate more with what’s said here, but I believe this book is for everyone!

This is one of those books I will keep revisiting from time to time, because it helped reflect on my own attitude and actions. This is definitely a must-read for all my fellow anxious/stressed people!

Review | The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke #1) by Tessa Dare

“Emma Gladstone had learned a few hard lessons by the age of two-and-twenty. Charming princes weren’t always what they seemed. Shining armor went out of fashion with the Crusades. And if fairy godmothers existed, hers was running several years late. Most of the time, a girl needed to rescue herself.” 3.75/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: handmade dresses, stray cats, long tables, cute nicknames, convenience marriages, desperate friends, theater nights, newspapers, old scars and a deal.

When girl meets Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules…

Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.

His terms are simple:
– They will be husband and wife by night only.
– No lights, no kissing.
– No questions about his battle scars.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:
– They will have dinner together every evening.
– With conversation.
– And unlimited teasing.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…

I’m a newbie when it comes to historical romances, but I wanted to dive deeper into this genre and a lot of people recommended Tessa Dare’s books. So here we are on book #1!

I really liked this book and I thought it was really cool how the author was inspired by “Beauty and the Beast” to create this story. I ended up really liking the overall plot and I thought it was very well-made. The only parts I didn’t love were the newspaper bits, because it felt a little too silly and unnecessary for me.

All the characters were likable, had great backstories and were special in their own way. Both main characters were hurt and were suffering, but they found love in each other. I really liked their chemistry, which was shown in their banter and funny arguments – especially when Emma was trying to find a cute nickname to call Ash, that was really funny. I also really liked how Ash wasn’t your typical prince charming. Not only was his face deeply scarred, but he was sassy and had an attitude! 

The romance was good, but I admit I wasn’t expecting this to be so steamy! I was kind of expecting some steaminess from this book, but I wasn’t expecting it to this level. Not necessarily a bad thing, though! Just surprising.

I think it’s difficult to come up with new and original stories when it comes to historical romance, but the author added special elements to the story – their personalities, the banter, the backstories – and that’s what makes this book stand out.

Like I said, I’m fairly new at historical romances and I only have read Valerie Bowman’s books for comparison. If this book is not an exception, you can count on a solid plot and a LOT of steaminess from Tessa Dare’s books.

Is this the deepest book you’ll ever read? Probably not, but that’s not what you should expect from this book. It’s supposed to be a fun and quick read to let your mind travel for a while. I’m excited to see what the next book from the series brings to the table!

Review | If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

“For as long as I could remember, I had been apologizing for existing, for trying to be who I was, to live the life I was meant to lead.” 4.5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: bus rides, transphobia, diners, football games, teenagers, transitions, new friendships, supporting parents, prom nights, prayer and secrets.

A new kind of big-hearted novel about being seen for who you really are.

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret, and she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself, including her past. But Amanda’s terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won’t be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that at her old school, she used to be Andrew. Will the truth cost Amanda her new life, and her new love?

Meredith Russo’s If I Was Your Girl is a universal story about feeling different and a love story that everyone will root for.

This book… oh my God! You NEED this in your life! I just know I’m going to push this book to every reader I know – sorry in advance, friends!

This work of fiction is about a girl named Amanda, a transgender girl who went to live with her dad after suffering bullying not only in school but also in the community. And the story follows Amanda and her attempts to find new friends, being a teenager and fitting in, while keeping her secret.

This was my first time reading a story about a transgender character, so it was a very eye-opening experience for me. Amanda’s story was heartbreaking and I was rooting for her the entire time. There were so many aspects that made me reflect. This book definitely touches on some of the struggles of trans people: from not having parents that support the transition, to having people arguing with you for going to the bathroom, to deciding when (and if) to tell the people they’re dating. I can’t imagine what it’s like to keep apologizing and constantly defending who you are to other people.

I also really liked the writing! It was cool to get a deeper look on how Amanda’s life was before and after transitioning with Amanda’s and Andrew’s POVs. I’m also glad the romance was not the focus of the book, because a lot would be lost with the love story.

I wasn’t super satisfied with the ending, because it was a little too ambiguous and open for my own taste. I personally don’t agree with other reviewers on this book being a “too perfect” story. Sure, she found friends and a boy that liked her, but she still went through a lot before she got there.

It’s a very important read that describes perfectly what so many people go through. I really like the message the book sends and how informative it is to readers that don’t go through this experience. Very well executed and a must-read in my humble opinion!

Review | Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles

“Our ikigai is different for all of us, but one thing we have in common is that we are all searching for meaning.” 4.5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: centenaries, healthy eating, daily walks, life purposes, retirement, meaningful lives and longevity.

Bring meaning and joy to all your days with this internationally bestselling guide to the Japanese concept of ikigai (pronounced ee-key-guy)—the happiness of always being busy—as revealed by the daily habits of the world’s longest-living people.

What’s your ikigai?

“Only staying active will make you want to live a hundred years.” —Japanese proverb

According to the Japanese, everyone has an ikigai—a reason for living. And according to the residents of the Japanese village with the world’s longest-living people, finding it is the key to a happier and longer life. Having a strong sense of ikigai—the place where passion, mission, vocation, and profession intersect—means that each day is infused with meaning. It’s the reason we get up in the morning. It’s also the reason many Japanese never really retire (in fact there’s no word in Japanese that means retire in the sense it does in English): They remain active and work at what they enjoy, because they’ve found a real purpose in life—the happiness of always being busy.

In researching this book, the authors interviewed the residents of the Japanese village with the highest percentage of 100-year-olds—one of the world’s Blue Zones. Ikigai reveals the secrets to their longevity and happiness: how they eat, how they move, how they work, how they foster collaboration and community, and—their best-kept secret—how they find the ikigai that brings satisfaction to their lives. And it provides practical tools to help you discover your own ikigai. Because who doesn’t want to find happiness in every day?

This little book is full of wisdom! It was exactly the dose of inspiration I needed to keep me on the right track habit wise.

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that says that everyone should have a reason for living in order to live a happy, fulfilling life. The authors visited and studied the villagers from a Japanese village known for having the world’s longest-living people, and came to the conclusion that all of them remained active and did what they truly enjoyed. They had a clear purpose in life by keeping themselves busy.

I personally found this book truly inspiring and there are a lot of things I took away from it, especially on how the centenaries keep their health. It was so interesting to know how they stayed active by going on walks or by taking care of their gardens… even being centenaries! It blew my mind.The retirement part was interesting as well. Many Japanese don’t even feel the need to retire! They just keep working on what they love for the rest of their lives. They also eat very healthy food and don’t fill up their stomachs to full capacity. All of this made me reflect on my own life choices, and it made me want to do better.

One story I particularly enjoyed was about the retirement of Studio Ghibli’s director. He just kept showing up for work to keep drawing because that’s what he loved to do! His commitment to drawing amazed me, and it made me think about finding my own ikigai.

The only thing I would change about this book is the depth of some of the topics, but I can understand how they wanted to keep the book on the lighter side. I would still read a full length book on the subject, because this was enough to inspire me.

I would definitely recommend it if you would like some tips and reminders on how to live a happier, meaningful life!

Review | All the Tides of Fate (All the Stars And Teeth #2) by Adalyn Grace

“I am Amora Montara, and I will no longer be a pawn. I will be a queen.” 2.75/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: poison, legends, the dead, Gods, fate, bones and teeth.

Through blood and sacrifice, Amora Montara has conquered a rebellion and taken her rightful place as queen of Visidia. Now, with the islands in turmoil and the people questioning her authority, Amora cannot allow anyone to see her weaknesses.

No one can know about the curse in her bloodline. No one can know that she’s lost her magic. No one can know the truth about the boy who holds the missing half of her soul.

To save herself and Visidia, Amora embarks on a desperate quest for a mythical artifact that could fix everything―but it comes at a terrible cost. As she tries to balance her loyalty to her people, her crew, and the desires of her heart, Amora will soon discover that the power to rule might destroy her.

I’m changing my original rating from a 3 to a 2.75. Not a huge difference, but it makes more sense to me to rate this within the 2 star tier. I cooked that “Ferrick situation” in my head for a while, and I concluded that that particular situation made me go from an “it was okay” read to a “I actually didn’t like it that much” read.

Like I said, this was overall a very okay-ish read. To be honest I think I lost interest in the story in the first book, so I basically tried to read this one just to conclude the trilogy.

The plot was boring, the characters were boring and I wasn’t invested in anything from this second book.

I can’t pinpoint exactly what went wrong, because in theory this duology had everything to be a new favorite of mine: pirate themed, strong female lead and an enemies-to-lovers romance. Now that I think of it, I think the pace completely destroyed the potential of the book. The story dragged on for way too long, and added that to the rest of “meh” elements… you can imagine how underwhelming it became.

Also, the nail in the coffin for me was the “Ferrick situation” like I mentioned before. Even if Ferrick wasn’t my favorite character (because he was), the event that happened made no sense and it felt unnecessary. So… there’s my view on that.Just an okay story overall – I know I’m being repetitive, I’ll stop now! Not the best, not the worst either. Wouldn’t recommend it.

Review | Bossy Nights by Liv Morris

“No one would call me a wolf, at least not to my face, but I’ve never been labeled an angel either.” 3/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: mimosas, cherry pies, online blogs, pink outfits, spilled coffee, trench coats, personal libraries, chatty best friends, overprotective siblings and famous writers.

forbidden and sexy office romance standalone from USA Today Bestselling Author, Liv Morris.

I’ve landed in New York City with my resume in one hand and my V-card in the other. The resume? I’ll give to any man on the street. The other? Well… I won’t settle for anything less than lightning bolt chemistry and so far no one has flipped that switch.

Until I meet Barclay Hammond, CEO of the most prestigious publishing house in NYC and the city’s most eligible bachelor.

He’s commanding.
Charming.
Gorgeous.
And my new boss.

The raw attraction between us is off the charts. Late nights together in the city, the looks he gives me across the boardroom table make him impossible to resist. I want him to be the one and he wants me too…

There’s only one BIG problem. Sleeping with your boss is strictly forbidden at Hammond Press.

Who knew losing it would be so complicated?

It was quick and entertaining for what it was, but overall just an okay read for me. 

If you like romances with the rich-businessman and fresh-out-of-college-girl trope – like for example, “Fifty Shades of Grey” – consider giving this one a try, you may like it.

In this book, our main character is Tessa, a Southern belle who just got out of college and is looking for a job in New York – and who doesn’t think she’s pretty, but it’s apparent to everyone else, of course. She then meets the handsome CEO of the company she wants to work for, and they quickly fall in love.

I don’t consider this book bad, but almost every aspect (from plot to characters) was underwhelming to me. And I know this is supposed to be a quick read, but I still feel like some aspects could be developed to create a stronger story. The plot felt a little too predictable, cliché and “perfect” for my own taste. It was unrealistic, fairytale-ish and the “issues” weren’t really issues… so I wasn’t super invested in what was happening.

Not only the main characters were bland, forgettable and uninteresting, but I felt the same way about the secondary characters. For example, Tessa’s bestie was the typical crazy/extroverted best friend that apparently every introvert needs. So nothing new or exciting about the characters as well.

The romantic relationship was also not super captivating. I found their banter boring and kind of annoying at times. The guy used the term “baby girl” too many times – and worse, unironically! Again, not terrible… I was just expecting more.

If it matters to you, keep in mind that this book is on the steamier side – in this regard, I wouldn’t necessarily compare it to “Fifty Shades of Grey”, though! Still, there are a lot of explicit chapters, so keep that in mind if it is something that you consider important when picking up romance books.

Not a very memorable book, but it was entertaining for what it was. It’s fast paced and light, so if you like steamy romances this one is a quick read to read over a weekend.

Review | White Bodies by Jane Robins

“It looks like I am on an island all alone… Or, if there are others here, we have not found each other yet.” 3.25/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: dossiers, syringes, bruises, Peter Pan plays, bookstores, crumbs, online forums, baby teeth, hotel rooms, hijabs, domestic violence, bee bags and secret pen drives.

This chilling psychological suspense novel–think Strangers on a Train for the modern age–explores the dark side of love and the unbreakable ties that bind two sisters together.

Felix and Tilda seem like the perfect couple: young and in love, a financier and a beautiful up-and-coming starlet. But behind their flawless facade, not everything is as it seems.

Callie, Tilda’s unassuming twin, has watched her sister visibly shrink under Felix’s domineering love. She has looked on silently as Tilda stopped working, nearly stopped eating, and turned into a neat freak, with mugs wrapped in Saran Wrap and suspicious syringes hidden in the bathroom trash. She knows about Felix’s uncontrollable rages, and has seen the bruises on the white skin of her sister’s arms.

Worried about the psychological hold that Felix seems to have over Tilda, Callie joins an Internet support group for victims of abuse and their friends. However, things spiral out of control and she starts to doubt her own judgment when one of her new acquaintances is killed by an abusive man. And then suddenly Felix dies–or was he murdered?

A page-turning work of suspense that announces a stunning new voice in fiction, White Bodies will change the way you think about obsession, love, and the violence we inflict on one another–and ourselves.

What an uncomfortable, weird book this was! So what is this book about? I would say the main themes of this book are obsession, sibling relationships and domestic abuse (well… for the most part, that is).

Tilda gets a new boyfriend, Felix, and at first everything seems fine until Callie (her twin sister) notices bruises on Tilda’s arms and signs that Felix is being abusive towards her. Things start to spiral out of control and he is found dead. The real question is what happened to Felix?

Let me tell you straight up: there is not a single likable character in this book. The two main characters (the twins Tilda and Callie) are both terrible. Tilda is a complete narcissist and full of herself, and Callie is obsessed with her sister’s life – and was just pathetic if I’m being quite honest. Of course these characters were created with the purpose of making the book disturbing and intriguing, and I guarantee the author accomplished that!

I always like to read about twins in thrillers because of the strong bond and connection they usually have, and you definitely get some of that here. Callie’s love for her sister is really creepy and on another level. While reading the book I frequently questioned myself if there was more to it, because her behaviors and actions crossed the lines in so many ways.

Intrigued? Give it a try, then! It was weird, unexpected and creepy… but entertaining!

Wrap-Up | What I Read in April 2022

Hello friends!

I hope you’re all well. It’s that time of the month… the time when I share with you what I’ve read in the past month! So today I’m bringing you all the books I read in April.

Overall, it was a good reading month. This was one of those months, where I just grabbed whatever I felt like reading, so I ended up reading a lot of nonfiction (with some sprinkles of fiction).

Since there was no TBR list nor plans for April, let’s get into all the books I read this month:

  1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo: 4.5/5⭐
  2. Where the Drowned Girls Go (Wayward Children #7) by Seanan McGuire: 5/5⭐
  3. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo: 4.25/5⭐
  4. Atomic Habits by James Clear: 5/5⭐
  5. Bossy Nights by Liv Morris: 3/5⭐
  6. Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles: 4.5/5⭐
  7. The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale: 3/5⭐

This month I read 4 self-development books (2 of them being rereads), 1 fantasy book and 2 contemporary books. Two of my favorites from this month were “If I Was Your Girl” and “Ikigai”, just because they are so memorable! Both of these books will be on my mind for a very long time, and I can’t recommend them enough! If you’re curious, definitely check them out.

Not having a TBR has been really working for me lately, so I’m keeping this process for May as well. Let’s see what happens 🙂 What about you? Let me know in the comments how your reading month was!

Thank you for reading friends, I’ll see you later.