When I Read the How and the Why

the how and the whyWhy hadn’t I heard much about this book? It is such a hidden gem! Centring on themes of identity, this tells the story of a theatre nerd teen trying to find answers about her adoption. It is an old-school coming-of-age story in the best way; it is the kind of story that wraps you up in its arms and gives you a great big hug! Listening to this audiobook absolutely made my heart sing!

Not that this gives you a glossy-version of reality. No, this is the kind of contemporary that doesn’t hold back. This is not some fairy tale- it’s about realising the value of real life and coping with the hand you are dealt. Dreams don’t magically come true and that’s okay. Sometimes it hurts and that’s okay. Everyone, as it turns out, has skeletons in their cupboards (and their family trees). Personally (and I know this won’t be the case for everyone) I loved that this wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows the whole time- I think it’s a good thing to have a counterweight to the Hollywood narrative we’re often spun. Because life isn’t easy- but it sure as hell is beautiful.

And that’s what this book really shows. Hand’s book dances into the spotlight and announces to the world the importance of friends and family- with *jazz hands*. It is cute and sweet and full of forgiveness. It hits all the right notes emotionally. I just loved the little touches and the big finale… Which admittedly left me longing for more (/to go back to the beginning and start again!)

Overall, there was a lot more to this than I thought there would be. I’m grateful that this came into my life at precisely the right moment- it’s almost as if the entire world conspired to help me find it and the universe unfolds as it should…

Rating: 4½/5 bananas  

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So, have you read this book? Do you plan to now? Let me know in the comments?

Bookish and the Beast was a Beautifully Freeing and Redemptive Read!

*I received this from Netgalley in exchange for review- but the *gushy feels* is all me!*

bookish and the beastYou guys probably know by now that I love fairy retellings. Yet for some reason I rarely get locked in to Beauty and the Beast retellings- well this was the exception! I’ve been really enjoying the “Once Upon a Con” series so far, for all its wondrous geekiness and cuteness- but this took that love to a whole new level. I was hoping that it would hit the spot right now… and it did! It turned out to be *exactly* what I needed.

Starting with an extract from the series’ fictional show, Starfield, we’re given a little sampler of the sweet story to come. From the enemies-to-lovers vibes here and the quirky meet cute, I knew I was going to fall hard for this book. With masses of misunderstandings and a low-key Pride and Prejudice feel, I developed a real attachment to the romance.

Part of my love for this stemmed from admiring the main character, Rosie. Not only is her name, Rosie Thorne, basically the best, but I also liked how she handled the difficult hand she was dealt. There were some particularly moving moments about grief that gave the narrative another dimension. I also couldn’t help but relate to her as a massive reader 😉

I also liked how the love interest was both understandable as the Beast-like character- yet is also given room to grow. And the other additions to the cast were greatly appreciated (particularly the Gaston insert). And this even had a fantastic father figure- which you don’t get enough in contemporary.

Oh and of course, this had some cool concepts and detailed layers from the fandom aspect. I always enjoy how each of these books builds on the Starfield universe- I look forward to finding out more about that as much as the new love story!

Throw in some delightfully geeky references, some chuckleworthy scenes, a pang-inducing budding relationship… and you get the kind of book that left me starry eyed. This didn’t just deliver on the “aww” moments- it gave me all the *feels*! It was wonderfully adorable and surprisingly rewarding.

Above all, I could tell that the author cared deeply about this one- it came across in the emotionality and joy of the narrative. It was precisely the escapism I needed right now and my favourite of the collection so far!

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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And if you’re craving more fairy tale retellings from this series, feel free to check out my reviews on Geekerella and Princess and the Fangirl

So, have you read any of the books in the “Once Upon a Con” series? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

High Praise for With the Fire on High

with the fire on highWhat do you get when you blend a fantastic main character with a pinch of romance, a large dollop of friendship and a huge helping of family? A lovely contemporary- that’s what!

One of the very best things about this story was the strength of the characterisation. Emoni, the protagonist, is remarkably realistic and complex. I really respected that this had the bravery to include the topic of teen motherhood- especially as, when I thought about it, I realised I couldn’t think of a single other book like it. Most books about teen pregnancy just end when the baby is born- yet this shows that becoming a mother is only the beginning of the story. Emoni doesn’t divide herself into being a mother or a teen- she is both and she is true to that.

Above all, this is still a coming of age story- even if it may not be the kind we are used to reading. It was stirring to see Emoni trying to make the best of herself through her cooking. I really liked that this showed her growing in her talent and rising to fresh challenges.

I was also frequently intoxicated by some of the beautiful writing- here’s just a taster: “where we come from leaves its fingerprints all over us”. I will admit, there were a few clichés sprinkled in as well- like “I released the breath I didn’t know I was holding” (twice)- which didn’t bother me, though I know it may get to other readers. I was too busy gorging myself on the otherwise delectable writing to care. Plus, there were little treats along the way, like the recipes included at the start of each part. Each one was carefully crafted and made me smile.

The sweetest part of the book was the friendship and family dynamics. I found the sisterhood/female friendship element lovely to see. And the family, while not without its flaws, was well done. For me personally, the romance added a little spice… but not too much! Some have said in reviews that it was unnecessary- but I disagree. It’s a cleansing aspect to the story, showing that Emoni is free to feel again and welcome new love into her heart. Also, it didn’t hurt that it packed a little heat 😉

We don’t get a straight up happily ever after: it’s a little bittersweet. Yet, I felt this was the ending that was earned. Life isn’t always a fairy tale- it’s about taking the sweet with the sour. I liked that this focused on character growth and didn’t leave us on a false sugary note. This is truly a slice of life and I enjoyed the hell out of it. I’ll definitely want more helpings from this author!

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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So, have you read this book or any others by the author? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!