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Book Review: The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd

Book Review: The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd


The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Cartographers is one of those books that I added to my most anticipated list as soon as the cover and blurb were released. A literary mystery revolving around maps and map-making, with a dose of magical realism to boot? That sounded so very much up my alley that I snatched it up as soon as Book of the Month announced it as a March pick, and have been very much looking forward to it. The fact that it was only in my house for a couple of months before picking up is saying something, as even highly anticipated have my massive TBR to compete with before I manage to get to them. But unfortunately, I think my experience with The Cartographers is a case of letting anticipation spoil whatever is being anticipated, because it fell quite flat for me.

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Book Review: Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Book Review: Book Lovers by Emily Henry


Book Lovers by Emily Henry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Sometimes, even when you start with the last page and you think you know everything, a book finds a way to surprise you.”

Book Lovers was one of my most anticipated reads of 2022, but it was also one of the books I was most nervous to read. I adored Beach Read and The People We Meet on Vacation, Henry’s two previous adult fiction novels, so a part of me was afraid that Book Lovers might not measure up. Also, romance isn’t a genre that I was very into until last year, when nearly half of my 192 reads for the year were romance. I felt like I had gorged on them so much that I was sick of them, and I feared that any romance I read this year would suffer through no fault of their own, but simply because I was burned out. Thankfully, neither factor effected my experience with Book Lovers. It was just as lovely as I could have hoped; different enough from Henry’s other novels to not feel redundant, and with enough plot outside of the romance itself to keep from feeling nauseatingly sweet.

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Book Review: Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby

Book Review: Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby


Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book, y’all. Razorblade Tears broke my heart and kept me on the edge of my seat in equal measures. It’s a superb piece of crime fiction with powerful messages about racism, sexuality, and accepting your loved ones for who they are, no matter how different they might be, before you run out of chances. It’s about vengeance and justice and learning that you can still grow even when you’ve been set in your ways for longer than you can remember. It’s about family, both that which you’re born into and that which you build for yourself along the way. It’s about grief and how, sometimes, you don’t even feel like you deserve to feel it. Above all, this is a story that felt honest and real and true at its core, despite being a work of fiction.

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Book Review: The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Book Review: The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz


The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I was drawn to The Plot by the cover. I try not to judge books by their covers, but the double entrendre of this one, with the book on the book cover and a burial plot in the background of the title, immediately captured my attention. And I did very much enjoy the layers of this story within a story, this nesting doll of layers that Korelitz presents here. But when the premise revolves around the writing of a book with a completely unique plot, one which is not a variation of the same handful of plots we’ve told and retold since before written language came to be, you don’t expect to guess the twist. Alas, that was my experience. The Plot sets out to deliver something new, and does to an extent, but I feel that it promised more than it was able to deliver.

“Good writers borrow, great writers steal. —T. S. Eliot (but possibly stolen from Oscar Wilde)”

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Book Review: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Book Review: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood


The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book, y’all. It was seriously just the sweetest thing. I’m going to be transparent and tell you that I didn’t think I’d be super interested in The Love Hypothesis when I first heard of it. I’m not a science person. Like, at all. But I am a Star Wars person, and I thought something about the cover looked familiar. When I heard that this book was originally Reylo (Kylo Ren and Rey) fan fiction, I could see it immediately in the cover art. I’ve always been a sucker for fan fiction in multiple fandoms, so my curiosity was understandably piqued. And I am so, so incredibly glad that I chose it as my Book of the Month pick, because it was absolutely delightful.

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Book Review: Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Book Review: Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty


Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nine Perfect Strangers was not a book I intended to pick up. The idea of a novel this long set at a health resort sounded tedious to me. But after seeing the trailer for the Hulu series, I found myself intrigued. I enjoyed another of Moriarty’s books, Big Little Lies, and it was also a story whose premise did nothing for me, so I decided to give Nine Perfect Strangers a try. I’m glad I did, because it ended up being one of the best non-fantasy novels I’ve read all year. I was honestly incredibly surprised by how much I ended up enjoying this book.

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Book Review: Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann

Book Review: Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann

Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann
My rating: 6 of 5 stars

The premise and cover of Olympus, Texas immediately grabbed my attention, but I wasn’t expecting anything earth-shattering. I figured I was in for an interesting story that would hopefully keep me engaged but which I would most likely forget about soon after. I was incredibly mistaken. It’s closing in on mid-June, and I can unequivocally say this is the best book I’ve read so far this year. And I started off the year with The Labyrinth of the Spirits, which blew my mind. I can’t believe I found this book even more impactful. Not only was the story excellent and the characters impeccably crafted, this book was a masterclass on the psychology of fictional beings who have been around for millennia without being this thoroughly exposed and explained. I feel like an entire college class could be taught on the Greek pantheon using Olympus, Texas as a textbook. It’s incredible, and it changed the way I think about stories I’ve known for decades.

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Book Review: We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker

Book Review: We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker


We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher, Macmillan Audio, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

We Begin at the End has been on my radar since my co-blogger Emma read it and loved it last year. Petrik and TS decided to pick it up as well, even though it’s not something within their usual genre wheelhouses. Again, they loved it. But they warned me that it was heartbreaking and, since I had been going through a particularly rough patch in my life, I held off until I felt like I was emotionally strong enough to handle it. I’m so glad I did, because I can say without a single qualm that it will be only my list of favorite books read in 2021, but the heart-wrenching emotion of it would have kept it from the same list last year. It really pays to wait until the right moment to read this type of book, and I’m glad I had friends to caution me in that regard.

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Book Review: Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner

Book Review: Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner


Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

We all have our insecurities, reasons we sell ourselves short and chicken out on following our dreams. Reasons we don’t think we deserve those dreams. And we’re all wrong. We all, every single one of us, deserve those dreams. And we need to respect ourselves enough to get out of our own way and to at least try. The worst that can happen is that we fail, right? And how is that worse than never trying at all?

Big Summer is a breezy, very current murder mystery. The perspective character, Daphne, is a plus-sized Instagram influencer who is about to be part of the biggest wedding to ever hit social media. But when someone winds up dead, Daphne finds herself trying to track down the murderer instead.

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Book Review: My Dark Vanessa, by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Book Review: My Dark Vanessa, by Kate Elizabeth Russell


My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I was so disturbed by this book. My Dark Vanessa is incredibly thought-provoking and raises a ton of great questions. I’m glad that I read it. And I’ll never read it again. (Side note: Everything being explored in this review is pretty much referenced in the book’s synopsis, so I don’t think I’m spoiling anything. But if you want to go into this book truly blind, you might want to skip this review.)

“To be groomed is to be loved and handled like a precious, delicate thing.”

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