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.

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!

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!

Review | Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (Charlie Bucket #2) by Roald Dahl

“You’ll never get anywhere if you go about what-iffing like that.” 2.5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: knock knock jokes, glass elevators, oxygen buttons, space hotels, anti-aging pills and zero gravity.

Last seen flying through the sky in a giant elevator in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie Bucket’s back for another adventure. When the giant elevator picks up speed, Charlie, Willy Wonka, and the gang are sent hurtling through space and time. Visiting the world’’ first space hotel, battling the dreaded Vermicious Knids, and saving the world are only a few stops along this remarkable, intergalactic joyride.

When I first watched the “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” movie, I did a quick research and found out there were two books in the Charlie Bucket series by Roald Dahl. And I thought to myself that they would probably make a movie for the second book. Now that I’ve read the second book, I finally understood that would never happen (for different reasons).

I recently read the first book and I fell in love with the story. So right after I finished, I started reading the second book, “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator“, and I was left disappointed.

There were several things that didn’t work for me with this book, but to name the biggest ones: it was full of (bad) nonsense, politics and was just all over the place.

In this short story the elevator goes to space, they meet aliens and the president of the USA… and then the story changes to anti-aging pills. Ahm… what?

I know this story is supposed to be full of nonsense, but I was expecting the good kind of nonsense, with fun, magic and morals for kids. But this was just a pointless mess. Needless to say I was disappointed.I wasn’t a fan of this. This took a very unexpected turn! The first one is exceptional, and this… was not at the same level. I would recommend only reading “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”! Just forget this one exists.

Review | Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Charlie Bucket #1) by Roald Dahl

“Everything in this room is edible. Even I’m edible. But, that would be called canibalism. It is looked down upon in most societies.” 5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: chocolate factories, surprising prizes, unexpected songs, golden tickets, Oompa Loompas, quirky characters, cabbage soup, a shared bed and a lot of chocolate.

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?

Aaaaah I loved this book so much! I was such a fan of the movie that I always thought to myself “I really need to read the books”. And now that I finally did, I couldn’t be happier.

I think what was the most surprising thing for me was that the movie is so true to the book. There are a few differences of course – like for example in the book the kids are accompanied by both of their parents and we get to see the news reporters at Charlie’s home – but overall, it was very true to the book. They even used a lot of the sentences and songs in the movie! Ok, I’m done talking about the movie comparisons, I promise.

The book was special, wholesome and incredibly inspiring and magical – so everything you would want in a fantasy middle grade book! This is my first ever Roald Dahl book, and now I completely understand why his books are so popular. The characters are amazing and quirky and every single one of them serves a very specific purpose in delivering a message. 

It’s a book that teaches kids to be humble, behave and be good to others. Not only that, but it’s incredibly fun and magical. I highly recommend it if you like middle grade!

Review | How to American: An Immigrant’s Guide to Disappointing Your Parents by Jimmy O. Yang

“I take pride in playing immigrant characters. I’ve come across people who had a negative opinion about playing Asian characters that have an accent. I’ve even met Asian actors who won’t audition for a role that has an Asian accent. They believe these accented characters reinforce the stereotype of an Asian being the constant foreigner. Frankly, I can’t relate. I was an immigrant. And no matter how Americanized I become, no matter how much Jay-Z I listen to, I’ll always be an immigrant. Just because I don’t speak English with an accent anymore doesn’t mean that I’m better than the people who do. My job as an actor is not to judge anyone and to portray a character with humanity. There are real people with real Asian accents in the real world. I used to be one of them. And I’m damn proud of it.” 4/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: music production, acting gigs, stand up comedy, college days, new friends, a new language and new opportunities.

Standup comic, actor and fan favorite from HBO’s Silicon Valley and the film Crazy Rich Asians shares his memoir of growing up as a Chinese immigrant in California and making it in Hollywood.

“I turned down a job in finance to pursue a career in stand-up comedy. My dad thought I was crazy. But I figured it was better to disappoint my parents for a few years than to disappoint myself for the rest of my life. I had to disappoint them in order to pursue what I loved. That was the only way to have my Chinese turnip cake and eat an American apple pie too.”

Jimmy O. Yang is a standup comedian, film and TV actor and fan favorite as the character Jian Yang from the popular HBO series Silicon Valley. In How to American, he shares his story of growing up as a Chinese immigrant who pursued a Hollywood career against the wishes of his parents: Yang arrived in Los Angeles from Hong Kong at age 13, learned English by watching BET RapCity for three hours a day, and worked as a strip club DJ while pursuing his comedy career. He chronicles a near deportation episode during a college trip Tijuana to finally becoming a proud US citizen ten years later. Featuring those and many other hilarious stories, while sharing some hard-earned lessons, How to American mocks stereotypes while offering tongue in cheek advice on pursuing the American dreams of fame, fortune, and strippers.

This was surprisingly nice! I went into this book blindly since I haven’t watched “Silicon Valley” and I wasn’t familiar with Jimmy O. Yang and his work as a comedian/actor, so I went into this book without knowing anything about the author. And now I’m glad to say I’ve become a fan!

Jimmy is a very funny and positive guy, and it shows throughout the book. I listened to this as an audiobook and he was the one narrating it, and I just laughed the entire time! I promise, you will have a great time reading this.

What I liked so much about this book was how he shared his struggles as an immigrant from China to the USA. It was not easy for him to fit in and constantly being mocked for his accent and not understanding English, and yet, he was able to overcome his struggles and became very successful as an actor and comedian.

And I really liked the ending of the book! It was the cherry on top.

I was very inspired not only by his story but also for his positive attitude towards life. It’s an inspiring and funny book that I will always recommend to others!

I want to watch Silicon Valley now.

Review | The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

“Being with you is as good as being alone.” 3.75/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: festivals, movie tickets, curious facts, heritages, quizzes, lost relatives and a lot of books.

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.

I enjoyed this a lot! I think the only thing I didn’t love about this book was the “perfect” ending. It’s not that it was bad, but it felt a little cliché the way things turned out so perfectly. Not that that’s out of the way, let me tell you all about what I loved!

The characters were sweet and quirky, and I loved their interactions. Nina was a likable character, but sometimes I was annoyed at how she kept pushing Tom away for the worst reasons. With that said, I understand her upbringing was very unique and she spent a lot of time alone, so I’ll give her that! I adored Tom and how sweet and supportive he was. He balanced Nina perfectly and their chemistry was cute. I also liked all the other characters, including the girls from the bookstore and Nina’s “new” family members. I even liked Lydia (well, mostly by the end of the story).

But by far, 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. The start is a little slow, but once you get the hang of it, the book flows and you get into the story way easier.

I would recommend it for a fun read full of great characters and humor!

Review | Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell

“…I’m your friend. And friends don’t let friends live small lives.” 4.5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: missions, pies, memorable last work days, succotash, trains, corn mazes, a snack thief, fall food, an angry goat and a lot of pumpkins.

In Pumpkinheads, beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Rainbow Rowell and Eisner Award–winning artist Faith Erin Hicks have teamed up to create this tender and hilarious story about two irresistible teens discovering what it means to leave behind a place―and a person―with no regrets.

Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends.

Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1.

But this Halloween is different—Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye.

Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if—instead of moping and the usual slinging lima beans down at the Succotash Hut—they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years…

What if their last shift was an adventure?

This was soooooo cute, I loved it! I wish I’d read this in the fall, it would be perfect.

The story is so incredibly cute and the friendship made me feel warm and fuzzy. I loved the whole “mission” thing where they seek Marcy while grabbing snacks along the way.

And can we talk about Marcy’s nicknames for a second? Vanessa Fudgens? Fudge Judy? I burst out laughing every time Deja gave her a different nickname.

The illustrations are by far the best thing about this book. The art is soooo beautiful and rich and atmospheric… The illustrator described the fall feeling perfectly with the colors and details.

And now I’m having pumpkin pie cravings… I wonder why.

Review | The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle

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“It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.” 4/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: clock time, pain, ego, overthinking, fear, love and the power of now.

To make the journey into the Now we will need to leave our analytical mind and its false created self, the ego, behind. From the very first page of Eckhart Tolle’s extraordinary book, we move rapidly into a significantly higher altitude where we breathe a lighter air. We become connected to the indestructible essence of our Being, “The eternal, ever present One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death.” Although the journey is challenging, Eckhart Tolle uses simple language and an easy question-and-answer format to guide us.

A word-of-mouth phenomenon since its first publication, The Power of Now is one of those rare books with the power to create an experience in readers, one that can radically change their lives for the better.

So I finally read “The Power of Now”. Overall, my opinion of this book is positive, but I still a little conflicted with what I’ve read and I can’t fully accept the premise… but I’ll get to that in a second!

The book talks about how we should be living in the present and to not overthink, because when we do that we get stuck in the past and in the present. It’s important to focus on our emotions in the “Now” and accept what we are feeling, whether it’s pain or happiness. That way, we’ll finally be able to connect to our true essence – our “Being”.

It was a very interesting read! I believe this book has a very interesting point of view on the “Now”, overthinking and how pain controls our lives. It made me reflect on my own thoughts and how overthinking the past or the future is pushing me away from inner peace.

One thing I found interesting was what he said about how people try to have a relationship with themselves (by using phrases like “I want to love myself” or “I’m my own best friend”) instead of just being themselves. By using this internal dialogue we are separating ourselves into two different entities, when we should just be ourselves fully. That was a very interesting point of view!

Another point of view I found interesting was when the author talked about modern art. He says artists nowadays are not truly connected to their inner “Being”, and their art reflects that – it has no heart. To be honest that made a lot of sense to me! Obviously there are exceptions out there, but I feel the same way about most modern art.

So why didn’t I love this book? Even though I agree with most of what was shared by the author, I was sometimes confused and I didn’t agree fully with the teachings. I think the “problems” I had with this book were the inflexibility of the points of view and the attitude behind them. For example, the author says to live in the present at all times and that we should forget the past and the future fully. And when the questions are made, like “but I have to pay rent, how can I do that by living in the present?”, the author responds with the same sentences over and over again “just live in the present”. This didn’t sit very well with me. I wish these responses were more specific.

I understand the point is to not question what the main message is and just accept what is being said as it being the ultimate truth. And part of me couldn’t do that. It just feels unrealistic to constantly live in the now – I’m pretty sure not even monks can do that at all times. And sure, the past is in the past and the future is not here yet, but I believe it’s important to know where you came from and where you’re going. Thoughts can save us from a lot of trouble in my humble opinion! In the book he mentions this as well, but it is quickly brushed off.

The writing was okay considering how complex the topic is. I liked the answer/question format a lot, and I believe it helped a lot to get the messages across in a simpler way.

You can read this book if you’re not religious, but keep in mind that there are plenty of references to various religions. With that said, he only uses examples of teachings, the book is not religious in nature.

I liked the book, but I wasn’t super impressed. It is not a perfect book by any means, but I still took some interesting points of view from it.

Review | Cupcake by Cookie O’Gorman

“For the first time in my life, I actually felt like a princess.
And it had nothing to do with the tiara. Or even the boy.
It was all me.”
4.75/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: homecoming court, chalices, baking, wasps, trust falls, cute dresses, practice time, Disney princesses, school dances, rom coms, SJM books and prom queens.

I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking this will be just one more story of the ignored, “big-boned ” girl, who sheds her glasses and a few extra pounds and finally attracts the notice of the most popular guy in school.

Except it isn’t. Because I’m not unpopular. Not all that ignored. And I love the way I look―just as I am.

Then someone puts my name in for Homecoming Court.

The bigger surprise?

People actually vote for me!

Now, I’m a “princess”―whether I like it or not―but the guy I’m paired with isn’t exactly Prince Charming.

Rhys Castle is the strong, silent type who always wears a frown―he’s certainly never smiled at me. I’m 99.9% sure he hates being on Court and being my partner, but surprisingly…he doesn’t switch when he gets the chance.

Turns out Rhys has a secret―something that makes him run hot and cold throughout the entire three weeks of Homecoming festivities. Whether he’s stepping on my feet during dance lessons or gallantly escorting me through the Homecoming parade, I can’t get a read on this guy, and for the first time, I find my confidence wavering.

But there’s more to Rhys than meets the eye. And the more the spotlight shines on me, I realize there’s more to me, too.

This book was super cute and sweet! Not gonna lie, this one is probably one of my favorites from Cookie O’Gorman. I think the main reason for that is our main character, Ariel! She is a really sweet girl who loves to bake and share with other people her baked goods. She was very surprised when she got nominated for homecoming court, because she feels like she doesn’t fit with the rest of the court for being a plus-size girl.

Enter the charming prince, Rhys. He is the school’s star quarterback and Ariel’s pair for homecoming court! At first he seems a little distant, mysterious and cold, but quickly his sweet personality shines through! I honestly loved seeing them together during the homecoming activities and how their romance developed day by day.

I can understand how this book may not be for everyone since it’s a “too perfect” kind of story, but I personally love reading books like these. Sometimes you just need a fluffy, cute story to boost your happiness levels!

I personally think this is a good, entertaining story about how everyone deserves love at every size. And not only that, but we should all strive for our own happiness and love ourselves.

I loved it so much, I actually read it in one day! Being a “big” girl myself, this book definitely hit different. Loved it and recommend it!