By the Book by Jasmine Guillory


SYNOPSIS: Izzy feels stuck at work and at home. She hasn’t received the promotion she so desperately deserves and she can’t afford to move out of her parents’ home, so when an opportunity to advance herself by getting the first draft of celebrity Beau Chambers’ memoir is presented to her, Izzy can’t help but seize it. The only problem is that Beau is a recluse and isn’t willing to talk to or see anyone, but Izzy is determined to get his book.

I thought this was a very sweet and wholesome retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I really appreciated that it wasn’t a point for point retelling and that all the references to the original were really clever. I really enjoyed that the names of places in the book were lyrics from the Disney animated film. I also enjoyed that although the house wasn’t enchanted, Izzy gave some of the household objects voices in her boredom and isolation. It was a clever way to keep that element and added a humorous dimension to Izzy’s character. The only thing that I wish was that the Mrs. Potts character, Michaela, was more present in the story. I wanted her to be more than just the snack lady and the reason for Izzy to go into the house in the first place. I loved that she and Beau were close, but I wish we got to see that relationship more. She helped to show Beau’s soft side, but I wanted her to have some development too. I loved Izzy as a character. She was fresh and relatable. I really enjoyed that we saw her starting to doubt herself and through her work with Beau she was able to reignite her passion for what she does. I also liked that her happily ever after not only involved romance, but forward advancement at a new job because I don’t always see that in romance. I’m also glad that Izzy had a friend outside of it all to communicate with and I enjoyed her and Priya’s friendship. Priya was extremely energetic and I loved how she was a nice foil to Izzy. I loved the progression of Izzy and Beau’s relationship. I loved that they bonded over snacks and period dramas and Beau slowly sharing his hobbies with her. I also really enjoyed that the library had a huge emotional importance to Beau. I always loved the library scene in Beauty and the Beast and I think that the fact that that room was also significant to Beau added an extra meaning to him allowing Izzy into the space. I really loved how much their friendship was emphasized before their romantic relationship began. I loved how we really, truly got to see how they brought out the best in each other and how much Beau began to change and come out of his shell because of Izzy’s encouragement. Another thing that I appreciated was that the Gaston character, Gavin, wasn’t trying to date Izzy, but was instead trying to clip her wings at work. I loved that his role was to undermine Izzy’s confidence in herself and her writing and that on the other hand Beau uplifted her at every turn. I also loved the moment when Izzy realized that he was undermining her and that he got what was coming to him in the very end. Overall I really enjoyed this retelling and I loved how Guillory really made it modern. It’s definitely in my top Beauty and the Beast retellings.


Watcaha Reading Wednesday (#97)

Happy Wednesday everyone! I hope your week is going great!

This week I’m still reading the Clanlands Almanac.

I’m learning a lot about Scottish history that I didn’t previously know and it’s also fun getting some behind the scenes stories from Outlander as well. I really enjoy Sam and Graham as narrators and I’m excited to learn more about Scotland.

What are you reading? Let me know in the comments!

Watcha Reading Wednesday (#96)

Happy Wednesday everyone! I hope you all are having a wonderful week!

This week I’m The Clanlands Almanac by Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish.

I really enjoyed Clanlands by these two and I’m really excited to learn more about Scotland in this follow-up book. I love how they include their playful banter in the written narration and I love that they write how they talk. It’s like talking to a friend about something they’re passionate about and you can tell how much they love their heritage in every word. I’m only on January and I’ve already learned a few things that I didn’t already know about Scotland!

What are you reading? Let me know in the comments!

Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan


SYNOPSIS: Ana is a freshman at the elite science school, the Harding-Pencroft Academy, and is all set to take her final when an unexpected attack by their rival school leaves them stranded on a yacht with no school to return to. Ann and her classmates are then pushed into a quest well above their years to find technology that shouldn’t exist and stop their enemies from getting to it first.

It’s no secret that I love Rick Riordan and his writing and it should come as no surprise that I loved this book. I really loved Ana and her friends and I loved that her close friends were girls. My only complaint was that Riordan kind of shoe horned in a male companion to be her number two for most of the book when she had two perfectly good female best friends, but the interactions that the three girls had were very wonderful to read and obviously I wanted a lot more of it. I’ve also been enjoying the fact that Riordan has steadily been adding representation to his novels and while I’m sure these characters aren’t perfectly written, I really like that it’s made obvious that they’re there instead of being an afterthought. Ester is one of Ana’s closest friends and she also happens to have anxiety and is autistic. I don’t remember the last time I read a book where an important character was autistic and their autism wasn’t the main focus of the book. I appreciated that it was acknowledged and I loved that she was allowed to be more than just a label. I loved her and Ana’s relationship and I loved how much narrative power Ester held. She was every bit as much a main character as Ana and any time she was in a scene it was such a joy to read. I only wish Nehelina (their other friend) had as much to do with the story because she was just as cool as the other two. I appreciated that she was always around when important decisions were being made, but as a female engineer I think her point of view would have been another really cool aspect to explore. I really enjoyed the nods to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and I loved how Riordan expanded on the technology first revealed in Verne’s novel. I could tell that Riordan had fun coming up with cool gadgets for the team to use and I really enjoyed how he blended science fact with science fiction. It was great that they all went to a science school because it gave the characters information that they could impart on the readers rather than everyone learn everything together which helped the story flow. I also loved that the Nautilus became a complete character all together rather than a setting. I thought it was really unique to make the submarine sentient in a way and that she had such a distinct personality. It was a nice twist on the original that really made this story Riordan’s own and really elevated the science fiction in the novel. I also enjoyed that The Mysterious Island also came into play and although I haven’t read that particular novel, I definitely will just to see what Easter eggs were hidden in Riordan’s novel. I think this book is a perfect introduction to Jules Verne and to science fiction in general. I really hope that Riordan considers to write more science fiction in the future. Overall I really enjoyed this book and I hope that the story continues!

Watcha Reading Wednesday (#95)

Happy Wednesday! I hope the week has been treating you well.

I’m still reading Jade Fire Gold by June C.L. Tan.

I still think it’s a very slow story, but I am still intrigued as to what will happen next. I think all the characters have a good energy to them and although I haven’t really connected to any of them, I love the relationships that they have with each other. It’s not my favorite book I’ve read this year, but there are some enjoyable things about it.

What are you reading? Let me know in the comments!

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee


SYNOPSIS: There is not much opportunity for women in Gilded Age Atlanta and even less for a Chinese girl like Jo, but when she’s given an opportunity to write anonymously for a local newspaper under the name of Miss Sweetie, she discovers her voice and causes a stir.

Every book by Stacey Lee that I have read I ended up loving. Jo is a fantastic narrator and I loved her voice. She was such an expressive character and I enjoyed how words were important to her not just in speaking, but in writing as well. There were a lot of really clever moments and I enjoyed the few occasions of word play. I really loved that Jo had hardships to face because she was a woman and then extra hardships to face because she was Chinese on top of that. I thought this book did a great job at showing the derision that Asian people received during this time period and while there were some good people that treated them right, it was mostly other people of color and marginalized groups doing the niceties. Sometimes I think we forget just how badly people of color have been treated throughout history and in historical fiction I feel like authors try to correct those wrongs by having a lot of progressive characters and I appreciated that Lee showed both sides in equal measure. I liked that the suffragist movement was fighting for the rights of the white women and that was explicitly stated because I think that’s something that isn’t touched upon very often when talking about women’s suffrage. I also liked that Jo and her friends formed their own suffragist group and put the white one to shame. I also really liked that Jo and her adoptive father had different ideas of what her life should be like. I really enjoyed that although they had differing opinions, at the end of the day they still loved and respected each other. I feel like that’s something that everyone can relate to no matter the time period. I also enjoyed that this story revolved around the time period and the characters rather than following a straight plot. There was so much going on and it all melded together so well and although the back of the book made it seem like it was just about Jo and her “Miss Sweetie” column, it was about so much more than that. The derby race was such a weird subplot, but somehow it worked. I loved how it was well established that Jo is an accomplished horsewoman, but I truly did not expect for her to end up competing in the derby. Especially since there was so much going on around her! There were also quite a few other really well done plot twists although I figured out one of the major ones, the reveal was still enjoyable and there was a lot of other things that I didn’t figure out that took me by surprise. Overall I really enjoyed the characters and the world of the story and I eagerly await whatever Lee writes next.

Watcha Reading Wednesday (#94)

Happy Wednesday! I hope everyone has had a wonderful day!

This week I’m reading Jade Fire Gold by June C. L. Tan.

So far I haven’t really connected with the characters and it’s been a very slow start. I am intrigued by the premise and it’s exciting to read a high fantasy novel that uses an Asian influence for the world rather than a European. I’m hoping once all the initial secrets are revealed that the pace will pick up.

What are you reading? Let me know in the comments!

Whatcha Reading Wednesday (#93)

Happy Wednesday!

This week I’m reading The Storyteller by Kathryn Williams.

This is my first time trying out Once Upon a Book Club and I think it’s really cool that there’s little treats to go along with moments in the book and I can’t wait for them to be revealed. As for the story, it isn’t quite what I thought it would be, but I am interested in what happens next. Part of me wishes that it was just Anastasia’s story, but I’m sure the pay off for how reading about Anastasia changes Jess for the better will be great when I get to it.

What are you guys reading? Let me know in the comments!

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron


SYNOPSIS: Briseis was adopted as a baby and was raised in NYC by her two mothers, but she has a power that her adopted parents don’t share with her. Plants bloom and grow just by being in her presence and nobody in her family has an explanation why. One day a lawyer shows up and tells her that her biological aunt passed away and Briseis has inherited her estate and the apothecary that comes with it. The family treks to upstate New York where Briseis learns the origins of her power and that there’s more to her power than she originally believed.

I really enjoyed this book. Briseis was a wonderful main character and I loved her sass and wit. I really liked that she actually had a meaningful relationship with both of her mothers and that her bond with each of them was showcased throughout the book. I also really loved that her mothers were active in her life and not just throwaway characters like so many parents are in YA books. I also love that she has two moms. I think it’s nice that same sex parents are starting to get more normalized and I loved that this opportunity was taken to show that a family is a family no matter the dynamic. I also thought it was a good touch that Briseis’s struggles with staying true to her adoptive family and learning about her biological family were also at the forefront of the plot because that made Briseis feel more real to me. I thought Bayron did a great job with blending together fantasy and reality because there were moments where real social issues were dealt with, but it felt so natural and thoughtful rather than being on a soapbox out of the blue. I also liked that Briseis struggled with hiding her power. I liked that Bayron showed how this secret strained her relationship with her original friend group and then contrasted it with how strong her new friend group got when she was honest with them about what she could do. I thought it was so unique to have a character that plants were attracted to and how the plants actually reacted in accordance to her mood. Usually with plant powers it’s just making them grow, but I really liked that touch of the plants taking a life of their own when Briseis is around. I also really liked the descriptions Bayron used whenever Briseis touched poisonous and deadly plants. It made it so exciting as a reader and it also gave a new dimension to Briseis’ power. I also really enjoyed the plot twists. Although one reveal I was able to guess early on, the rest of them were complete surprises to me and I enjoyed that I was taken for a loop. Honestly the only thing that I wasn’t overly fond of was the heavy pop culture references, but that’s my personal preference. I felt like there was just a little too much and it dated the book just a little bit, but it didn’t completely distract me from enjoying the story as a whole. I’m really intrigued about what happens next because at first I was upset about the character death at the end and felt like it was playing into negative tropes, the reveal that it could be undone really hooked me and I’m very interested to see how that will be accomplished. The death itself was written beautifully and the scene was super intense and really added a lot to the story, but part of me wishes it was a different character although the character it did happen to will really help drive the next book. Overall I thought this book had a wonderful story, great representation, and an awesome protagonist. I can’t wait to read what comes next!

Watcha Reading Wednesday (#92)

Happy Wednesday everyone! I hope you all are having a good week.

This week I’m reading Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan.

I’ve only read the first chapter, but since Rick Riordan is my favorite author I have no doubts that I’m going to love it. I’m really excited to see what he does with the science fiction genre and I’m curious how he’s going to work 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea into a more modern setting.

What are you reading? Let me know in the comments!