The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin – #BookReview

Book Reviews, Contemporary, Fiction, General Books, Historical Fiction, LGBTQ+, Magical Realism

Goodreads: The Immortalists
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Family Saga, Magical Realism
Panda Rating:

If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?

It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

The prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

“Our language is our strength.
Thoughts have wings.”

It was difficult for me to write this review so apologies if it’s more nonsensical blabber than anything. I really enjoyed this touching novel about family and death. It sounds morose and it certainly isn’t the most fast paced storytelling, but as the story dove deeper into each characters’ life, I found that I couldn’t put the book down and very quickly sped through the pages. The Immortalists is a family saga that explores faith and the idea of destiny/fate. It asks readers the timeless question: if you could learn when/how you die, would you do it?

Trophy Life by Lea Geller – #eARC #BookReview

ARC, Book Reviews, Chick Lit, Contemporary, Fiction, General Books, Women's Fiction

Goodreads: Trophy Life
Publish date: 09 April 2019
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Chick Lit, Women’s Fiction
Panda Rating:

For the last ten years, Agnes Parsons’s biggest challenge has been juggling yoga classes and lunch dates. Her Santa Monica house staff takes care of everything, leaving Agnes to focus on her trophy-wife responsibilities: look perfect, adore her older husband, and wear terribly expensive (if uncomfortable) underwear.

When her husband disappears, leaving Agnes and their infant daughter with no money, no home, and no staff, she is forced to move across the country, where she lands a job teaching at an all-boys boarding school in the Bronx. So long, organic quinoa bowls and sunshine-filled California life. Hello, processed food, pest-infested house, and twelve-year-old-boy humor—all day, every day.

But it’s in this place of second chances (and giant bugs), where Agnes is unexpectedly forced to take care of herself and her daughter, where she finds out the kind of woman she can be. Ultimately, she has to decide if she prefers the woman and mother she has become…or the trophy life she left behind.

This was slow to start and was a little difficult to get into at first but once the story got rolling, I found the ‘light and fluffy’ contemporary I expected. I didn’t find it very surprising or different to anything that I’ve read in women’s fiction before though. For some reason (probably based on the cover) I might have thought the story and characters would be more comedic, but it was still an enjoyable and entertaining enough read.

Cold Feet at Christmas by Debbie Johnson – #BookReview

Book Reviews, Chick Lit, Contemporary, General Books, Romance

Goodreads: Cold Feet at Christmas
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Chick Lit, Christmas Holiday Romance
Panda Rating:

Running out on your wedding shouldn’t be this much fun!
A remote Scottish castle on a snowy Christmas Eve. A handsome husband-to-be. A dress to die for. It should have been the happiest day of Leah Harvey’s life – but the fairytale wedding turns sour when she finds her fiancé halfway up the bridesmaid’s skirt just hours before the ceremony!
Fleeing the scene in a blizzard, Leah ends up stranded at the nearest cottage, where she collapses into the arms of its inhabitant – a man so handsome she thinks she must have died and gone to heaven!
And when Rob Cavelli suddenly finds himself with an armful of soaking wet, freezing cold, and absolutely gorgeous bride on the run, he’s more than happy to welcome her into his snowbound cottage this Christmas…

Argh, I’m struggling with my thoughts on this one because it started off really well! I found myself quickly hooked into the story and the characters, however, I’m really sad to say that it quickly went downhill after the first few chapters. I knew I had to suspend my disbelief because obviously, this is penned as a ‘Christmas romance’ and I was expecting some possible insta-love or something else that wasn’t really believable but okay, I was ready for it. The majority of the story takes place after Christmas though and that wasn’t really a problem for me, but if you’re expecting a fun festive romance, this wouldn’t be my first pick. Potential for mild spoilers ahead (just kidding, it’s not potential, there are spoilers ahead)!

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland – #eARC #BookReview

ARC, Book Reviews, Chick Lit, Contemporary, Fiction, General Books, Women's Fiction

Goodreads: The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae
Publish date: 29 October 2019
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Chick Lit, Women’s Fiction
Panda Rating:

Ailsa Rae is learning how to live.
She’s only a few months past the heart transplant that – just in time – saved her life. Life should be a joyful adventure. But…

Her relationship with her mother is at breaking point.
She knows she needs to find her father.
She’s missed so much that her friends have left her behind.
She’s felt so helpless for so long that she’s let polls on her blog make her decisions for her. And now she barely knows where to start on her own.

And then there’s Lennox. Her best friend and one time lover. He was sick too. He didn’t make it. And now she’s supposed to face all of this without him.

But her new heart is a bold heart.
She just needs to learn to listen to it…

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae was a heartwarming (no pun intended) story about health, family, friendship, love, grief and quite simply ‘adulting’. Ailsa was born with a heart condition which meant that for most of her life she was too ill to really live. She wasn’t completely unexperienced and sheltered although she missed out on a lot of the ‘normal things’ that kids, teenagers and young adults experienced because her heart and body simply couldn’t handle it. She started to blog about her ‘blue heart’ and what her life was like as she waited for a transplant, until she finally gets the new heart she has literally been waiting for her whole life. It’s not a fast paced read and while there’s a lot of changes that happen, it’s not a larger-than-life miracle story either. It’s set in Edinburgh and as you might know by now it’s one of my favourite places! The author really made the city come to life and I could practically feel myself navigating the streets alongside Ailsa and it was such a wonderful feeling!

Kiss Me Not (Kiss Me #1) by Emma Hart – #BookReview

Book Reviews, Chick Lit, Contemporary, General Books, Romance

Goodreads: Kiss Me Not (Kiss Me #1)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Panda Rating:

What do you do when you’re the reigning kissing booth champion but the only person you want to kiss is your best friend’s brother?

Let me make this clear right here, right now: I, Halley Dawson, do not care that Preston Wright is kissing other women. Not a lick. Not at all. Nuh-uh-freakin’-uh.
I do care that he’s doing it six feet away from me behind a gaudy velvet curtain—making him my competition in this year’s kissing contest.

Why do I care, you ask? Because I’ve had an unfortunate crush on the insufferable idiot since I was sixteen years old, but I also know it’s never going to happen. He’s the Creek Falls bachelor to die for, and I’m the Creek Falls racoon lady who puts peanut butter sandwiches out for them every night. I’m not going to let him break my four-year-long reign—no matter how many times he breaks the rules and slides the curtain across to do the one thing he’s not allowed to: Kiss me.

Kiss Me Not is a short and fluffy romantic comedy that certainly had me giggling at times but overall, I thought was just alright. The enemies-to-lovers story focuses on our MCs Halley and Preston. Halley is the all-around golden girl and notorious Raccoon lady, and Preston is her best friend’s older brother and the most eligible bachelor of Creek Falls. Halley has been the reigning champion of the town’s Kissing Booth for the last four years, but this year Preston is her competition and soon bets are made and truths come out.

Under Locke by Mariana Zapata – #BookReview

Book Reviews, Contemporary, General Books, Romance

Goodreads: Under Locke
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Panda Rating:

He was my boss, my brother’s friend, a Widower, an ex-felon, and a man I’d seen casually with a handful of women. But he was everything that gripped me, both the good and the bad. Worst case scenario if things turned awkward between us, I could go somewhere else. I’d gotten over epic heartbreak before, one more wouldn’t kill me.

After moving to Austin following six months of unemployment back home, Iris Taylor knows she should be glad to have landed a job so quickly… even if the business is owned by a member of the same motorcycle club her estranged father used to belong to. Except Dex Locke might just be the biggest jerk she’s ever met. He’s rude, impatient and doesn’t know how to tell time.

And the last thing they ever expected was each other.
But it was either the strip club or the tattoo shop.
… she should have chosen the strip club. 

It’s official: I’m a big Mariana Zapata fan and I think she’ll be an auto-read (maybe even auto-buy) author from now on. I’m so glad that Jen recommended this to me because I absolutely loved it! I was waiting for the right time to start reading this because past experience has shown me that once I start a Zapata book I won’t want to put it down.

Under Locke was surprisingly not as much of a slow burn compared to her other books; although compared to most other romances, it was still very much a slow burn. I don’t think there’s anyone who does slow burns as well as Zapata and it’s always so damn satisfying when the MCs finally get together. I can safely say that it’s absolutely always worth the wait and this one was no different. Although Dex did grate on my nerves a little bit with his extremely volatile temper and asshole-ish behavior, I pretty much fell in lovelust with him at the same pace as Iris did. Although his attitude does soften as the story goes on (especially towards her), he’s unapologetically himself and while I can see how that can rub people the wrong way, I appreciated that about his character. Can I also say that tattoos + men + me = (almost) guaranteed win? They’re kind of like my Achilles heel? Especially when they’re tall, brooding and totally inked (mega bonus points to Dex for owning his own parlor)!

Unsurprisingly, Iris is the total opposite of Dex. She’s sweet, shy, very innocent and it doesn’t take much to make her blush. She’s a pretty strong and resilient character, and did I mention that she’s also bookish and smart? Iris has been through some pretty tough shit in life that made her have to grow up faster than usual. While she’s only in her early twenties, she comes off as pretty mature and I really admired her character! Is the dynamic between Iris and Dex sounding a little too cliché and tropey right now? Well, maybe it is…but Zapata really does it so well and I wasn’t mad about it! Their chemistry was FIRE and those steamy scenes… Damn, those steamy scenes! 😏 I was doing a lot of swooning while reading this book (lmao).

What I also really loved about Under Locke were the side characters. The friendships that form between Iris and the rest of the artists at the parlor really gave me ‘found family’ vibes and I was here for it! The banter (oh, the banter) between everyone that worked at the store had me genuinely bent with laughter and the scenes that showed Dex relaxing/laughing with the group were also some of my favorites! Iris’ half-brother was another character that really grew on me and I really hope that we get his story because he’s such marshmallow/cinnamon roll and I want to know more ASAP!

Overall, I clearly loved this book and it definitely is a contender for my top Zapata book next to The Wall of Winnipeg and Me and Wait For It. I took off half a star because of some repetitive things some characters did which I found slightly eye-roll inducing. I’ve definitely noticed this repetitive trait in Zapata’s characters in other books too though; so by now it’s not unexpected, it’s just a little eh. But that won’t stop me from reading her books because LOVE 😍

Have you read Under Locke? Are you a Mariana Zapata fan?
Let’s chat in the comments!

Frankly In Love by David Yoon – #BookReview

Book Reviews, Contemporary, General Books, Romance, Young Adult

Goodreads: Frankly In Love
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Young Adult Romance
Panda Rating:

Frank Li is a high school senior living in Southern California. Frank’s parents emigrated from Korea, and have pretty much one big rule for Frank – he must only date Korean girls.

But he’s got strong feelings for a girl in his class, Brit – and she’s not Korean. His friend Joy Song is in the same boat and knows her parents will never accept her Chinese American boyfriend, so they make a pact: they’ll pretend to date each other in order to gain their freedom.

Frank thinks fake-dating is the perfect plan, but it leaves him wondering if he ever really understood love – or himself – at all.

My heart! I’ve had time to digest my thoughts on Frankly in Love and I’m still not sure if this will even be a semi-decent review. I really suck at writing good reviews y’all, but bear with me and sorry in advance for the rambling and incoherent thoughts! If you want to read a great review for this book I’d recommend checking out CW’s post because it is awesome. For those who look at this beautiful and cheerfully colored cover and read the synopsis thinking that you’re getting a lighthearted YA contemporary romance, I’d say adjust your expectations because this story is much more than that. It’s about immigrants, culture, identity and understanding yourself in a world that expects you to be one thing when you so badly just want to be.

Before I dive into my reflection, I want to take a moment to appreciate the friendships in this story; particularly between Frank and Q. They are the epitome of a bromance. Their interactions are so geeky and pure, and I don’t even have the words for how full of warmth they always left me feeling. I felt strongly for Frank’s character, but my love for Q knows no bounds! He’s the one that inspires you to forever protect because he deserves ALL THE GOOD THINGS. There’s a twist to Q’s arc at the end of the book that I kind of felt coming 3/4 of the way through the story, so when it happened I wasn’t necessarily surprised. However, I don’t know why Yoon threw it in because it didn’t add anything or really go anywhere, so that was a little confusing. That said, the scene still left me in tears because everything was ending and I was just so proud of that gorgeous, nerdy-licious, pure nugget. *insert a million heart-eye emojis*

Yoon’s debut was a well-written story full of heartfelt emotion and quirkiness. Frank and his friends are all pretty big huge nerds and that really came out in the way the story was written. I thought it was endearing, but I thought the quirkiness went a little OTT at times, although it did make me more fond of the characters. As I mentioned earlier, this book is less about romance and more an exploration of the immigrant identity, culture, racism and family (the parent-child relationships). The representation in this book was pretty amazing. I learned a lot about Korean culture and norms, and I enjoyed seeing the immigrant story through the eyes of a coming-of-age young adult. Frank’s parents were really racist and I thought it was an interesting perspective showing that other ethnicities can be racist too, which you don’t see a lot in many novels. It was pretty upsetting at times and I wish that Frank stood up to his parents more, even if he didn’t believe they would ever change. I thought all the teens were pretty ‘woke’ though and the discussions on racism and other sensitive topics were done well.

While it’s marketed as a romance, I think that aspect really takes a backseat, although it does stem from Frank’s desire to start dating Brit, a white girl (which is a huge no in his parent’s book). While a lot of the sensitive issues were handled well, my least favorite aspect of the story was how the whole fake-dating situation was dealt with because if there’s one thing I really hate, it’s exactly what Frank did.

Could you see that the situation was heading in this direction? Yes, but I was still a little disappointed that Yoon took it there when it could’ve been avoided. I was also a little ‘meh’ on the whole outcome of Frank’s relationship at the end of the book too. After going through all that drama I thought it would’ve been nice for a happier ending, but knowing that there is apparently going to be a sequel makes me curious to see if there’s a reason Yoon left it this way. That said, all of the disappointing romance drama didn’t massively affect how I felt about the rest of the book because for me it wasn’t about the romance; but it is where points came off on my final rating.

“I feel like I don’t belong anywhere and every day it’s like I live on this weird little planet of my own in exile,” I say all in one breath. […] “I’m not Korean enough. I’m not white enough to be fully American.”

Now’s the part where I reflect lol I’m not Asian-American and I didn’t grow up in America. I did however grow up internationally as a “Third Culture Kid”. From the age of 3, I went to American/International schools in several countries and by the time I hit my mid-twenties and realized that I’d have to move to Indonesia, I was feeling more than a little apprehensive. Indonesia is my passport, is where I was born, is where I came from but I knew almost next to nothing about the place and that was terrifying. I came back and the struggle was on: I wasn’t Indonesian enough to be seen as Indonesian, but I wasn’t foreign enough to be seen as a total foreigner either, and that identity struggle is still something I deal with today. So reading about Frank’s struggle with his identity really hit home. How he compared his relationship with his family to those of his friends and recognizing the stark differences in the warmth and openness was also something that I did growing up. TL;DR although I don’t have the same ‘background’ as Frank, there was so much about the exploration of his identity and relationships that really resonated with me and I think it’s what made this book great for me.

While the ending wasn’t really what I expected it to be, I thought everything was wrapped up nicely. I liked that Frank had a greater sense of optimism and assurance about who he is because despite the not-so-happy ending, there was still a sense of hope to it. Frankly, I fell a lottle in love with the story of Frank Li (yuh, I went there) and I would definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a well-written own-voices story about immigrants, culture and identity. It wasn’t the book that I thought I’d get it was a great story nonetheless.

Have you read Frankly In Love? Were you happy with it or was it different to what you expected? Let’s chat in the comments!

Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas – #BookReview

Book Reviews, Contemporary, General Books, New Adult, Romance

Goodreads: Birthday Girl
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Romance
Panda Rating:

JORDAN
He took me in when I had nowhere else to go.
He doesn’t use me, hurt me, or forget about me. He doesn’t treat me like I’m nothing, take me for granted, or make me feel unsafe.
He remembers me, laughs with me, and looks at me. He listens to me, protects me, and sees me. I can feel his eyes on me over the breakfast table, and my heart pumps so hard when I hear him pull in the driveway after work.
I have to stop this. It can’t happen.
My sister once told me there are no good men, and if you find one, he’s probably unavailable.
Only Pike Lawson isn’t the unavailable one.
I am.

PIKE
I took her in, because I thought I was helping.
She’d cook a few meals and clean up a little. It was an easy arrangement.
As the days go by, though, it’s becoming anything but easy. I have to stop my mind from drifting to her and stop holding my breath every time I bump into her in the house. I can’t touch her, and I shouldn’t want to.
The more I find my path crossing hers, though, the more she’s becoming a part of me.
But we’re not free to give into this. She’s nineteen, and I’m thirty-eight.
And her boyfriend’s father.
Unfortunately, they both just moved into my house.

*BIRTHDAY GIRL is a stand-alone, contemporary romance suitable for ages 18+.

This isn’t the type of romance that I often read and I don’t know what pushed me to pick it up since I had never heard of this author or book beforehand, but pick it up I did and … Yeah, it just wasn’t my jam. I liked that it was a slow-burn romance. I admit that the chemistry between Pike and Jordan was fire and the steamy scenes between them were all pretty hot and explosive. If my rating would be based on those scenes alone, I’d probably give this a 4-star rating.

But unfortunately, most of the story was just a little… meh and unbelievable? The majority of the characters were plot devices and I didn’t want to do anything but slap them for being truly awful people (especially Cole and his mother–I could not have rolled my eyes harder at these two characters. Just plain old disgusting). It was really hard for me to have any sympathy for a lot of these characters. One thing I’m glad of is that there was really no ‘love triangle’ aspect to this story because I honestly would’ve DNF’d it if it did (that’s really how much I hate love triangles because you know this panda does not DNF books lol). But there’s actually none of that in this book because Cole is the ultimate douchebag from page one and his hot/cold I-care-and-then-don’t-care attitude was just shitty and shady throughout. I would never cheat on someone but… Damn, Cole did not deserve half the respect that Jordan, and I’d even go so far as to also say Pike, gave him. I didn’t even care about his “redemption arc” at the end and I don’t feel it added anything at all. 🤷🏻‍♀️

There were moments that I found the relationship between Pike and Jordan a little weird because he’d act all reprimanding like her dad would and then obviously, there were the many other times when he’d have indecent very-not-fatherly thoughts about/towards her. I also found Pike annoyingly immature at times. Like, mate, you should be acting well above this immaturity right now. Some of his monologues also came off as sexist and fairly condescending towards Jordan/Jordan’s sister, and it just wasn’t a good look. For the most part, I did like Jordan’s character. She was strong, pretty mature (for her age and in comparison to the others), hard-working and wasn’t overly annoying or had unrealistic expectations about her life and relationships. Unsurprisingly for someone going through a tumultuous time in her early twenties, there were moments where she did get on my nerves, but I think Pike’s character managed to irritate me more.

I will say though that this was oddly addictive because I couldn’t put it down until I finished it. It was like another “The Stopover” moment for me where I was thinking “what the hell am I doing reading this book?!” and then at the same time being unable to stop reading it. 🤦🏻‍♀️ So I guess there’s that going for it?

Have you read Birthday Girl? How do you feel about love triangles?
Let me know in the comments and let’s chat!

The Dugout (Brentwood Baseball #2) by Meghan Quinn – #BookReview

Book Reviews, Contemporary, General Books, New Adult, Romance

Goodreads: The Dugout (Brentwood Baseball #2)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance, New Adult
Panda Rating:

Let me ask you a question:
If someone is vying for your spot on a team and just so happens to injure you during practice, would you believe it was on purpose?
Word around campus is . . . it was no accident.

That injury has cost me everything; my starting position, my junior year—and the draft. Now, I’m a senior fresh off recovery, struggling to find my groove, until the day I run into a nervous, fidgety, girl with freckles, in the dining hall.

They call Milly Potter The Baseball Whisperer, The Diamond Wizard, and The Epitome of All Knowledge. She believes in baseball. She breathes it. She’s the queen of an infamous dynasty, but no one actually knows who she really is, and she plans to keep it that way.

One mishap in the panini line, one miscommunication in the weight room, and many failed attempts at an apology equal up to one solid truth — Milly Potter never wants to speak to me again — no matter how good my forearms look. Little do we both know, she’s about to become more than just my fairy ballmother.

I’m not that big of a sports fan IRL (except for when it comes to tennis and footy) and I know maybe next to nothing about baseball but that didn’t stop me from really enjoying The Dugout! I found myself swooning and laughing my way through this story.

At first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it because Carson comes off as an entitled asswipe from page one and I didn’t like how he was so unnecessarily rude and abrasive. I get that he had a chip on his shoulder but it’s just not a good look, mate! That said, he really grew on me as the story went on and I’m positive a lot of that had to do with the introduction of Milly into his life. Milly is AWESOME. She’s a little bit nerdy, down-to-earth, and insanely smart and talented at coaching baseball! Want to know a random/fun fact about baseball? Milly can supply. Having trouble getting your shit together on the field and need coaching? Milly is your girl. I was worried that there would be one of those “She’s All That” moments where the nerdy girl suddenly transforms into this stunner by shedding the baggy clothing and stepping out in “sexy clothes”, but she sticks true to herself and I was here for it! I really enjoyed seeing Milly and Carson’s relationship grow from friendship to love and their banter was spot on. I like that she continued to be straight up with him, but that his softer and more mature side was brought out more because of her. They had great chemistry and I’m glad Quinn built that up well. I’d probably give the heat factor a four in this book. I think there were more steamy scenes in this one (and it was definitely hotter) than the other Quinn books I’ve read. Ain’t mad about it either 🤷🏻‍♀️ lol

While I liked both MCs, I think that my favorite thing about this story were the friendships. Milly’s best-friendship with Shane and Jeremy was hilarious and pure. They brought an extra little spark of fun and quirkiness that I really enjoyed. What I really loved though was the camaraderie between the whole baseball team. When Milly went over that night to get introduced to the boys, I don’t think I stopped laughing and swooning once! Seriously, from the minute the door opened I was bent over cracking up. I wanted to give them all hugs forever–they were SO CUTE I wanted to know more about all of them and I really hope that they all get stories. Seriously, I really hope so *hint hint Meghan Quinn!*

The reason I took off half a star is because I thought how some characters reacted in certain situations (especially during their monologues) was a little OTT. There were also moments where the narration would switch from first person to second person and back and it was a little annoying. Overall though, I had such a fun time reading this book and I can’t wait to go back to book 1 of this series because I’m definitely curious to know more about Carson’s BFF, Knox (you don’t need to read it to understand this book though).

Have you read The Dugout? Are you a fan of sports romances?
Let me know in the comments and let’s chat!

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman – #BookReview

Book Reviews, Chick Lit, Contemporary, General Books, Humor, Romance, Women's Fiction

Goodreads: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Contemporary Fiction
Panda Rating:

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. 

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill was just as quirky and relatable as I expected and I enjoyed every minute I spent with Nina Hill and the odd mix of characters we encounter in this book. This was one of the more hyped books in the last few months on bookstagram, which intimidated me for a while (hype and I have a love/hate relationship), but I’m glad that I took the plunge and finally read it!

“It also meant she thought of books as medication and sanctuary and the source of all good things. Nothing yet had proven her wrong.”

I’m not sure what expectations I had going in, but the writing style was very different to what I expected, though not necessarily in a bad way. It definitely enhanced the quirkiness of the story and fit it quite well, but I’m not sure if I’d prefer or enjoy this style in a different book. As this was a character driven story, there wasn’t much in the way of a plot. We follow Nina as she navigates having her perfectly structured world turned completely upside down with the introduction of family members that suddenly appear in her life, difficulties at work that could lead to the loss of her safe space, and Tom: #1 trivia nemesis turned potential love interest. The writing was simple, engaging and infused with great humor, which had me speeding through the pages and made it an even greater pleasure to read.

There was so much friendly banter between all of the characters and it made me feel warm and fuzzy inside, as as much as I was constantly smiling and laughing at their interactions. I really enjoyed meeting Nina’s many siblings and nieces/nephews. Peter was sassy, smart and I loved how he so readily embraced and accepted Nina. I also ended up really liking her brother Archie, but especially sweet little bookish Millie! Although I was initially unsure of how I felt about Nina’s character, she quickly grew on me, as did most of the others, and by the end I don’t think there was one I disliked (surprisingly). As a fellow bookworm and appreciator of all things bookish, but also as someone who really appreciates structure, it felt at times that Nina Hill’s story was picked right from my own life; obviously I related to her a lot. What I enjoyed most about Nina was that although she preferred being alone with her books, she still kept up a very busy and active social life — trivia nights, book clubs, yoga etc., and even though she was an introvert she never actually shied away from doing things that I personally would’ve panicked to get out of (i.e. go to a wedding alone). I really admired those traits in her and it was a refreshing perspective to see in a fellow bookworm!

“Being with you is as good as being alone.”

The romance aspect of Nina’s story also had me in giggling fits! The interactions between Nina and Tom were sweet but incredibly awkward at times. I loved that we got to see both of their thoughts during these interactions because it made it all the more hilarious and it endeared me even more to their characters. Their relationship is really a case of where opposites attract, and I thought Tom was such a sweetheart of a character. I do wish we got more personality from him, but he seemed like a really sweet guy that I wanted to give endless hugs to? I found it really adorable how he was so smitten by Nina!

“Being surrounded by books was the closest she’d ever gotten to feeling like the member of a gang. The books had her back, and the nonfiction, at least, was ready to fight if necessary.”

I was thoroughly entertained throughout Nina’s story. I honestly didn’t look too much into the believability and ease in which things happened because of course, life never falls so seamlessly into place as it does for Nina. BUT I still loved it because who doesn’t love a story about a character who’s so much like yourself? Especially when they get happy endings! Overall, this was the perfect fluffy read that I know many book lovers will get a kick out of reading.

Have you read The Bookish Life of Nina Hill? What did you think?
Let me know in the comments and let’s chat!