5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Books About Books · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · romance

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman | ARC #BookReview

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The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Rating: 5 stars 

Published: July 9, 2019 

Publisher: Berkley Books 

Pages: 352

Genres: contemporary fiction, romance, books about books, mental health 

Recommend to fans of: books about the bookish world, quirky relatable anxious characters

 

Synopsis:

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.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Berkley Books, and Abbi Waxman for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like: 

  • Too cute but there’s definitely some adult content at times (not too much)
  • Lots of trivia games
  • Socially anxious, planner and overall funny person — sums up the main character, Nina Hill

Love: 

  • Relatable for all bookish nerds like me!
  • The colorful, fun cover
  • Such an enjoyable read … I cannot get enough of it (an actual note I wrote to myself while reading)
  • Sarcastic and witty
  • Shows that people like her can have a love life. There’s hope for people who don’t fit the typical extroverted, supermodel beauty, perfect life societal ideal.

Dislike: 

  • Some of Nina’s extended family — I don’t see the reason they need to be so rude to her. Luckily it doesn’t take up much of the book or create too much tension.

Wish that: 

  • Nina could better explain to people why she needs to be alone when dealing with a lot of anxiety, post panic attack, or a day that required too much socialization. I absolutely understand that this can be very difficult, but this perspective and explanation could also be very validating for others who struggle with anxiety and/or an introvert. It’s also a great way to educate others, who can’t relate to Nina, as to the frustrating life moments that Nina and so many others experience. 

Overall, this book is why I love reading. Thank you to the author for bringing me such joy while reading The Bookish Life of Nina Hill. The book has truly been the highlight of my week … well, besides all the cats I’ve also gotten to pet. I’m sure Nina Hill would agree with that one!

 

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5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · Young Adult

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

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Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Rating: 5 stars 

Published: June 4, 2019 

Publisher: Berkley Books

Pages: 368 

Genres: contemporary, young adult, retellings 

Recommend to fans of: fun upbeat books, family drama and romance combined

 

Synopsis:

A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.

Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.

Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.

 

Review:

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Berkley Books and Uzma Jalaluddin for an ARC copy of the book. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like:

– Labeled as a modern day Pride and Prejudice

– Set in Canada – allows the story to be told without all the political ramifications of the current U.S. President

– The colors of the book cover will make sense once you read the book 

Love:

– Shows the varying degree to which Muslims practice their religion and engage in the culture while living in the Western world

– Brings me such joy to read. You’ve gotta love a book like that!

– The love story is so darn cute

– I couldn’t stop reading. Something about the characters, the drama, the love story … all of it combined makes for a can’t put down read.

– The perfect mix of religion and culture, family drama, and contemporary romance – needed all of these elements to make the book come together so well

– The family dynamics … aka DRAMA but in a good way filled with a lot of love

– The rishtas (arranged marriage proposals) — I’m not a fan of the concept, but it was fascinating and endearing to read about. 

Dislike:

– The prejudiced boss

– The judgmental people in general 

– Certain characters being forced into an arranged marriage

Wish that:

– There’s a sequel to the book – cannot wait to read more

– The ending didn’t wrap up so quickly- would have liked another 20 pages or so

Overall, a wonderful book that was an absolute joy to read. At its core the story is a romance while still including complex family dynamics, community, and the realities of being Muslim in the Western world. I would love to read another book by the author.

 

 

I LOOOOOOOOVED this book!

What about you?

Have you read it?

What did you think?

 

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Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

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Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

 

 

5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · feminism · LGBTQIA+ Books · memoir · non fiction

Sissy: A Coming-Of-Gender Story by Jacob Tobia | Release Day #BookReview

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Sissy: A Coming-Of-Gender Story by Jacob Tobia

Published: March 5, 2019 

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Pages: 336

Genres: memoir, LGBTQIA+, non fiction

Rating: 5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: gender affirming books, reading and learning more about the experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community, memoirs by people with beautiful souls, books with gorgeous covers — can you tell I loved it???

Foodie Vibes: alcohol and dorm food, because college is where you figure things out 

 

Synopsis: 

From the moment a doctor in Cary, North Carolina put “male” on Jacob Tobia’s birth certificate, everything went wrong. Alongside “male” came many other, far less neutral words: words that carried expectations about who Jacob was and who Jacob should be, like “masculine” and “aggressive” and “cargo shorts” and “SPORTS!”

Naturally sensitive, playful, creative, and glitter-obsessed, as a child Jacob was given the label “sissy.” In the two decades that followed, “sissy” joined forces with “gay,” “trans,” “nonbinary,” and “too-queer-to-function” to become a source of pride, a curse-turned-blessing, a freak-flag hoisted high.

Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story charts those decades, from Jacob’s Methodist childhood to the hallowed halls of Duke University and the portrait-laden parlors of the White House, taking you on a gender odyssey you won’t soon forget. With the snarky voice and wrenching vulnerability that have made them a media sensation, Jacob shatters the long-held notion that people are easily sortable into “men” and “women.” Sissyguarantees that you’ll never think about gender–both other people’s and your own–the same way again.

 

Review:

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, G.P. Putnam’s Sons and Jacob Tobia for an ARC copy. As always, an honest review from me.

Like: 

  • fun upbeat read – the book put m in such a good mood despite the struggles that they went through
  • their experiences navigating college life versus the “real world” as a person who is gender non binary

Love:

  • The cover: the colors are beautiful and eye catching – makes me smile every time I look at it
  • Jacob is telling their story, no matter who cares.
  • Celebrates all people in the LGBTQIA+ community, not just those who fall into the typical gender roles 
  • Their story is real, honest, raw yet is still upbeat because of their AWESOME personality
  • Their love and passion for fashion
  • They are kind, sassy and a badass!
  • The self reflection- especially acknowledging the parts of life that aren’t strictly black or white, good or bad.

Dislike:

Wish that:

  • The book was longer. People need to hear more from Jacob and their beautiful soul. 

Overall, I cannot say enough great things about this book. You absolutely need to read it!

 

Is this book on your TBR yet? 

If not, what are you waiting for?

 

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Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

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Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

 

 

5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Business · memoir · non fiction

The Master Plan: My Journey from Life in Prison to a Life of Purpose by Chris Wilson | New Release #BookReview

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The Master Plan: My Journey from Life in Prison to a Life of Purpose by Chris Wilson

Published: February 5, 2019 

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Pages: 432 

Genres: non fiction, memoir, business

Rating: 5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: inspirational memoir, lifelong learning

Foodie Vibes: healthy food choices: high quality protein, vegetables, minimal sugar and junk food 

 

Synopsis: 

The inspiring, instructive, and ultimately triumphant memoir of a man who used hard work and a Master Plan to turn a life sentence into a second chance.

Growing up in a tough Washington, D.C., neighborhood, Chris Wilson was so afraid for his life he wouldn’t leave the house without a gun. One night, defending himself, he killed a man. At eighteen, he was sentenced to life in prison with no hope of parole.

But what should have been the end of his story became the beginning. Deciding to make something of his life, Chris embarked on a journey of self-improvement–reading, working out, learning languages, even starting a business. He wrote his Master Plan: a list of all he expected to accomplish or acquire. He worked his plan every day for years, and in his mid-thirties he did the impossible: he convinced a judge to reduce his sentence and became a free man. Today Chris is a successful social entrepreneur who employs returning citizens; a mentor; and a public speaker. He is the embodiment of second chances, and this is his unforgettable story.

 

Review:

I won this book for free from Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, G.P. Putnam’s Sons and Chris Wilson for an ARC copy. As always, an honest review from me.

Like: 

  • I learned a lot — about the prison system, prison life, growing up with limited resources, fear, too few positive role models, a system that works against you. Basically so many of the things I was fortunate enough to not have to experience while growing up. 
  • Gives actual insight into the day to day experiences of so many kids experiencing the same things as him

Love:

  • The hard work he puts into his life
  • Inspiring story — including all the steps and setbacks that have led to his success and happiness
  • Hes a lifelong learner
  • His Master Plan: so poignant, applicable, and helpful for many people 
  • He wrote his book to be an inspiration, a guide to those people with his experiences that don’t have it all figured out yet.
  • Couldn’t stop reading it 
  • Well written and relatable 
  • Business oriented but still very approachable

Dislike:

  • The prison system doesn’t set people up for success when they get out – desperately needs changing 

Wish that:

  • Many people take his book and life teachings to heart, so they can improve their lives like they so deserve.

Overall, a really great book that I’ve already been recommending to other people. 

 

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Have you read The Master Plan yet? 

What did you think?

 

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Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

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Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Domestic Fiction · Literary Fiction · mental health

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib | ARC #BookReview

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The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib

Published: February 5, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 384

Genres: literary fiction, mental health, domestic fiction 

Rating: 5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: books about eating disorders and mental health, strong women struggling with difficult things

Foodie Vibes: the meal plan set forth by the eating disorder treatment team – designed for weight gain and food challenges

 

Synopsis: 

The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists’ list. Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound.

Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.

Yara Zgheib’s poetic and poignant debut novel is a haunting, intimate journey of a young woman’s struggle to reclaim her life. Every bite causes anxiety. Every flavor induces guilt. And every step Anna takes toward recovery will require strength, endurance, and the support of the girls at 17 Swann Street.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Yara Zgheib for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Like: 

  • Good representation: adults of various ages and stages in life are shown, not just the stereotypical upper middle class teenage girl
  • Each couple of days is punctuated by the staff’s treatment plan update: physiological observations, psychological observations, summary, target calories, meal plans
  • Not a fluffy feel good book, but the realistic ups and downs of getting help for an eating disorder

Love: 

  • The details that go into the world building – In reality it’s only an eating disorder treatment house, but the author makes it seem like a whole different world 
  • The main character: Anna – kind, relatable, vulnerable, courageous
  • The concept and daily life is oddly fascinating — weird?, I know
  • The relationship between Anna and her husband, Matthias
  • Beautifully written

Dislike: 

  • That so many of the characters are missing out on life.
  • Emm: one of the long term patients. It doesn’t seem realistic that she could be at the treatment center for years. Also she didn’t seem to add much to the story, except as one of the many cautionary tales. 

Wish that: 

  • There was more about the psychological aspects of eating disorder treatment such as group therapy, individual therapy, etc.

Overall, a beautifully written book about the brave struggles of a woman working to survive and eating disorder. It’s hard to explain, but there’s something absolutely captivating about this story. 

 

Do you enjoy reading books about characters with a mental illness? 

 

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5 Star Books · Book Reviews · fantasy · historical fiction · Science Fiction · thriller

I read my FIRST Stephen King Book! 11/22/63

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11/22/63

Published: November 8, 2011

Publisher: Scribner

Pages: 849

Genres: historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, thriller

Rating: 5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: JFK conspiracy theories, history buffs, alternate history novels, long well written books

Foodie Vibes: diner food but made the right way — from scratch, high fat and without preservatives

 

Synopsis: 

Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away…but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke… Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten…and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.

 

Review:

Like: 

  • The main character and narrator
  • Discussions of time travel repercussions – while not real, it’s fun to think about
  • The mix of historical fiction, suspense, and science fiction
  • A blast from the past: all the vintage brands, companies, music and fun anecdotes

Love: 

  • The audiobook version: I highly recommend listening to it! You will not be disappointed. 
  • The main topic: trying to go back in time and stop the JFK assassination 
  • The world building: the 1950s and 60s world the author creates feels extremely immersive

Dislike: 

  • All the talk about food poisoning, illnesses, etc. seems to be discussed more than most books

Wish that:

  • everything could be happily ever after by going back in time to change bad events 

Overall, I am so glad that I finally read a Stephen King book. I know, I know, how could I not have read one of his books before? I loved 11/22/63 and am looking forward to reading more of the author’s work in the future. 

 

Bookish Question:

How many Stephen King books have you read?

Which ones do you recommend?

 

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Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

Instagram: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

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5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · historical fiction

The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner | ARC Book Review

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The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

Published: March 19, 2019

Publisher: Berkley

Pages: 400 

Genres: historical fiction

Rating: 5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: WWII, historical fiction, reading about history from an alternate person’s point of view 

Foodie Vibes: a meager meal of stale bread, soup and coffee as food is scarce during the war 

 

Synopsis: 

Elise Sontag is a typical Iowa fourteen-year-old in 1943–aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity.

The only thing that makes the camp bearable is meeting fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles, whose friendship empowers Elise to believe the life she knew before the war will again be hers. Together in the desert wilderness, Elise and Mariko hold tight the dream of being young American women with a future beyond the fences.

 

Review:

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Berkley, and Susan Meissner for an ARC copy. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like:

  • Alternates between present day and WWII featuring the same characters helps to enhance the story
  • The shared friendship between Elise and Mariko – seamlessly ties the whole story together, even when they’re living on different continents
  • The parents caring for their children during very difficult times

Love:

  • The realism and beauty of the writing
  • We get a more personal complete perspective of the war from the view of a teenager
  • The main characters: Elise, her family, Mariko, and the Dove family
  • Even though it’s fiction I learned more about WWII, especially the experiences of average citizens in the U.S. and Germany 
  • Completely transports me to a different time and place

Dislike: 

  • The sadness, violence and mistreatment of people, even though its realistic to the events in history

Wish that:

  • The character of Max was mentioned more and also more likable 

 

Overall, a wonderful historical fiction novel that tells the tale of two American teenagers who met due to fear an assumptions from the government and changed each others’ lives forever. Definitely, definitely recommend!

 

Bookish Question:

What’s your favorite time period/country to read about in historical fiction novels?

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Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

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