Bookish · Reviews · Self Care & Books

Joy in Everyday Life

I was fortunate enough to be sent copies of Choose Joy (a coloring notecard book) and The 3-Minute Journal of Joy from Ink and Willow! These lovely books could not be more perfect for me as I rebranded my Instagram and blog as “A Lifetime of Joy” this summer!

Both of these would be fantastic Christmas gifts as we head into the season, but more than that they are perfect if you are looking to celebrate simple joys in life!

First up, Choose Joy! This is the lovely book is full of 24 cards that are able to be colored and sent via mail! I started using them this weekend and honestly I have a few that I will be sending to a few friends in the mail. Things I really like about this book include, the simplicity of the coloring, the perfect quotes for spreading joy and the fact that I can actually tear these out, mail them and share the love! I colored 2 over my weekend at our family cabin and I can’t recommend this lovely little book enough. It is calming to color but to color quotes from Brene Brown and Charles Dickens and so many other great people makes it such a great experience! This fantastic book is out now and can be ordered by clicking the title in orange above!

The next item I received was The 3-Minute Journal of Joy! It’s no secret that I love journaling and writing and putting my thoughts down on paper, but sometimes I struggle with consistency while doing this. This journal is set up to share things that make you joyful and ways you spread joy, but it’s set up for 3 years of journaling! That means by purchasing this journal it’s almost like you get 3 journals. I love this concept on looking back year after year at the things that bring you joy! What a great way to make you grateful but also remind yourself of all the things that have brought you joy! This journal is available for preorder now but clicking the title in orange above!

So thank you again to Ink and Willow and I hope you all check these out and enjoy them as much as I already am! These are beautiful gifts for yourself or a friend so be sure to check them out!


A Mad Dash to Love

Book: Dashing Through the Snow

Genre: Romance (Christmas)

Rating: 5/5 Stars

I have read close to 10 Christmas centered/themed books in the last week and this stands out as my favorite among those books! What made it my favorite you ask? Well, LET ME TELL YOU! But first, here’s a quick summary from Goodreads:

Ashley Davison, a graduate student in California, desperately wants to spend the holidays with her family in Seattle. Dashiell Sutherland, a former army intelligence officer, has a job interview in Seattle and must arrive by December 23. Though frantic to book a last-minute flight out of San Francisco, both are out of luck: Every flight is full, and there’s only one rental car available. Ashley and Dash reluctantly decide to share the car, but neither anticipates the wild ride ahead.

At first they drive in silence, but forced into close quarters Ashley and Dash can’t help but open up. Not only do they find they have a lot in common, but there’s even a spark of romance in the air. Their feelings catch them off guard—never before has either been so excited about a first meeting. But the two are in for more twists and turns along the way as they rescue a lost puppy, run into petty thieves, and even get caught up in a case of mistaken identity. Though Ashley and Dash may never reach Seattle in time for Christmas, the season is still full of surprises—and their greatest wishes may yet come true.

Okay, let’s talk the things I love about this book that made it a 5 star read for me. Before I event get into that though, I get asked a lot what qualifies as a 5 star read for me. Honestly, I am not a very picky reader at all. If I find a book enjoyably, if it makes me laugh and happy, it’s a 5 star read. If a book fills me with joy or really just makes me feel, I’m there for it!

First up, this story. My gosh, this story was unique and hilarious and I was literally laughing out loud as I went through this book. I had the joy of listening to the audiobook and it painted the most vivid image of the story. Without giving too many spoilers, how can you not help but laugh when the protagonist ends up on the FBI no fly list on accident? This storyline follows our protagonist on a wild goose chase as she tries to drive home for the holidays and it’s a roller coaster of laughs!

Okay, other than the laughs I had throughout this book I absolutely adored this love story. It’s a classic enemies to lovers and takes you on a whirlwind love story through the ups and downs of their road trip. These two (Ashley and Dash) have such charisma on the pages of this book that you can’t help but root for them as you read along with the story. I particularly loved the moment in the beginning where Ashley and Dash first found themselves faced with riding together and Ashley talked to Dash’s mom. That was adorable and such a typical mom conversation.

Final thing I love about this book, plain and simple, the puppy! I don’t really know why it is, but every Christmas book by Debbie Macomber has some sort of dog in it and I just can’t with that! How do you top a Christmas book with romance in it? YOU. ADD. A. DOG. So thank you Debbie, for adding puppies to the most wonderful time of the year.

This book was an audiobook that I borrowed from the library, but it has now worked its way onto my Christmas list for the year! I hope to receive it at Christmas time and enjoy it for many years to come! If you love a good and cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie, this book will be right up your alley!

Happy reading!


A Christmas Celebration

Book: Celebration at Christmas Cove

Genre: Romance (Christmas)

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Release Date: October 26, 2021

First off, thank you to Netgalley and Berkley for sending me a copy of Celebration at Christmas Cove! As someone who is Christmas obsessed and is constantly watching Hallmark Christmas movies this book checked off all of my boxes!

Real quickly, before I get into my rating, here is a look at the book summary a little bit on the author Carrie Jansen!


CELEBRATION AT CHRISTMAS COVE (Berkley Trade Paperback Original; October 26, 2021) tells the heartwarming story of a grieving woman who can’t wait to leave a wintry New England island, and a widower who would do anything to stay.

Travel magazine writer Celeste Bell is in a terrible mood. Not only was her flight to the Caribbean diverted to a Massachusetts island, now it looks like she’ll have to spend Christmas there. Single and still mourning the loss her mother a year earlier, Celeste is desperate to avoid any emotional entanglements and all holiday festivities. She just doesn’t feel like celebrating.

But that’s exactly what community center executive director Nathan White and his young daughter, Abigail, want to do. Nathan is entirely focused on making sure that his daughter has a happy Christmas, especially with the knowledge that if he can’t raise money for the community center soon, it will close and they’ll have to leave the island. When he meets Celeste, Nathan begins to feel a connection and wonders if he’s brave enough to risk his heart once more.

Thawing their frozen hearts and saving the community center will require a Christmas miracle. But tis the season…

Carrie Jansen:

Earned an MFA in creative writing and published many poems and short stories before becoming a novelist. An avid bodyboarder and beach walker, she spends as much of the year as she can on Cape Cod, where she draws inspiration for her contemporary romances. She also writes Amish romance novels under her pseudonym, Carrie Lighte. Learn more online


Like I said above, I am what you might call a Christmas enthusiast. I start planning and watching Christmas movies before we even reach the end of October. When I got the email via Berkley that I was being gifted an e-ARC of a Christmas book through Netgalley I literally squealed out loud! The summary of the book immediately pulled me in and the rest is history. I loved this book and I know if you love Christmas and romance you will love it too!

The thing that sold this story for me almost instantly was the island of Sea Spray! Anything set in New England or the East Coast during the Holiday season automatically gives me White Christmas vibes and I am all about that. Sea Spray and “Christmas” Cove are exactly what you would hope for in a small island Christmas setting. The thing I always love most about these small town settings is the sense of community among the people who live there. Whenever you read a book that has a tight knit community you can’t help but feel safe and warm. You can feel the love that these people have for each other and to be able to write that kind of feeling is a true gift!

Now, where would a Christmas book be without a dash of romance? This book has the absolute sweetest romance and as I read it I could practically picture their love story playing out in a Christmas movie. Celeste, the typical career driven heroine, falls for Nathan, the small town guy, and I couldn’t have loved it more! I loved that it was almost like an enemies to friends to lovers kind of story. Though the currents of romance ran throughout the book, I appreciated that it was a slow burn and the author really made her characters work for that romance. The grand gesture moment at the end put it over the top for me and I couldn’t help but let my heart soar for them!

Finally, I absolutely loved Jansen’s supporting characters. She does an amazing job of showing Nathan and Celeste’s points of view as she switches between their voices, but it’s the book’s supporting characters that really make it so special. While Nathan’s family is lovely in and of itself, Arthur is a real gem and jumps off the page as the adorable elderly man you can’t help but love. What is so wonderful about Arthur is not just how adorable he is, but his character arc. His growth and dimension as the book progresses literally made me cry and I found myself reading for more Arthur passages by the end.

So – whether you are looking to gift a Christmas book to that Christmas fanatic in your life or you’re looking for a sweet Christmas romance for yourself this season, this book is it! If you’re a Hallmark Christmas enthusiast or not, your heart will soar by the end and I can’t recommend it enough!

Happy reading!


Magnolias of Love

Book: Under the Magnolias

Genre: Contemporary/Romance

Rating: 5/5 Stars

I purchased this book on a whim and am I ever glad I did! The cover intrigued me and I didn’t read the summary at all prior to picking it up. Before I jump into why I loved this book here is the summary from Goodreads:

Austin Foster is barely a teenager when her mama dies giving birth to twins, leaving her to pick up the pieces while holding her six siblings together and doing her best to stop her daddy from retreating into his personal darkness.

Scratching out a living on the family’s tobacco farm is as tough as it gets. When a few random acts of kindness help to ease the Fosters’ hardships, Austin finds herself relying upon some of Magnolia’s most colorful citizens for friendship and more. But it’s next to impossible to hide the truth about the goings-on at Nolia Farms, and Austin’s desperate attempts to save face all but break her.

Just when it seems she might have something more waiting for her―with the son of a wealthy local family who she’s crushed on for years―her father makes a choice that will crack wide-open the family’s secrets and lead to a public reckoning. There are consequences for loving a boy like Vance Cumberland, but there is also freedom in the truth.

T. I. Lowe’s gritty yet tender and uplifting tale reminds us that a great story can break your heart . . . then heal it in the best possible way.

First off, there is a trigger warning with some mental health issues that this book raises. It is a constant theme throughout the book and greatly affects Austin and her family. I just wanted to make sure I put that out there as it is quite heavy.

Okay, on to the reasons I loved this, and there are SO many but I am going to limit it to 3. The first thing I adored about this was the sense of family and commitment to family. Though this caused issues at parts in Austin’s life, her primary focus was always her family. To me that was beautiful as someone from a big family as well. I loved loved loved the familial bonds in this book!

I also really loved the simple & sweet love story between Vance and Austin. I loved how real this felt, with the ebs and flows of not just growing apart but also growing together. I loved watching them grow as teenagers and adults and how much they truly loved each other through it all. I absolutely adored how patient Vance’s love for Austin was and how even when she gave up on them he did not. It was beautiful.

Finally, I loved the emphasis on mental health. I thought that Lowe did an amazing job of portraying how how this mental health affected the family and how them living with it became a norm and it took people outside of that norm to stand up and help them. The sense of community from their friends outside of the family and how they loved Austin and her siblings was amazing! This community made the book feel so real!

If you are looking for a moving book with a heart wrenching romance this is it. This book spoke to my heart in so many ways and I absolutely fell head over heals for it! Do yourself a favor and pick this one up today!

Happy reading!


At a Loss for Words

Book: The Lost for Words Bookshop OR Lost for Words

Genre: Contemporary

Rating: 5/5 Stars

I picked this book up as part of our September book club and instantly fell in love with it. You know that feeling of curling up with a warm blanket on a cool, rainy day? That’s what this book is! It’s a warm blanket. The story is consuming and real and so incredibly beautifully written!

Before I get into it any further, here is the Goodreads summary:

Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look closely, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are things she’ll never show you.

Fifteen years ago Loveday lost all she knew and loved in one unspeakable night. Now, she finds refuge in the unique little York bookshop where she works.

Everything is about to change for Loveday. Someone knows about her past. Someone is trying to send her a message. And she can’t hide any longer.

Lost for Words is a compelling, irresistible and heart-rending novel, with the emotional intensity of The Shock of the Fall and all the charm of The Little Paris Bookshop and 84 Charing Cross Road.

So, I was able to listen to the audiobook via my library and I instantly fell in love with it and went out to grab the physical copy of the book. The story is full of so many wonderful things so I just want to touch on a few that make it a perfect book! I will precede my review with a trigger warning, there is physical abuse mentioned and carried out in this book.

First off, Loveday herself. She is strong and independent and has to overcome so much in her life! Stephanie writes such a real and believable character that you can’t help but fall in love with her. If you listen to the audiobook, the voice actor and the accent really help to put the reader into Loveday’s shoes, but honestly she is written in such a vivid way it would be hard not to!

I also adored the way this story was broken up. You see the history of Loveday through her past and present and this is done in such a fantastic way. Through the history you see the past of who she was before the “incident”, who she was after and who she grew into. It’s a beautiful story, not necessarily “coming of age” but in a way it is.

Finally, I loved how Stephanie wrote love and more specifically relationships. Not just romantic relationships, but friendships as well! She goes into painstaking details about what real love is both in a romantic relationship and a friendship and if you are not crying by the last page because of this I you are heartless. This book is full of relationships even though Loveday seems completely introverted.

If you are looking for a feel good and real book this fall, pick this one up, you won’t regret it!


Bromance Romance

Book: Isn’t It Bromantic

Genre: Romance

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Before I even get into the summary and the review of this book, I need to say that Lyssa Kay Adams is a masterful writer of romance! These books, while sweet and steamy are also thoughtful and deep. I would read and re-read these books any day because of the characters and their real stories.

First up, here is the Goodreads summary of the book:

With his passion for romance novels, it was only a matter of time before Vlad wrote one.

Elena Konnikova has lived her entire adult life in the shadows. As the daughter of a Russian journalist who mysteriously disappeared, she escaped danger the only way she knew how: She married her childhood friend, Vladimir, and moved to the United States, where he is a professional hockey player in Nashville.

Vlad, aka the Russian, thought he could be content with his marriage of convenience. But it’s become too difficult to continue in a one-sided relationship. He joined the Bromance Book Club to learn how to make his wife love him, but all he’s learned is that he deserves more. He’s ready to create his own sweeping romance—both on and off the page.

The bros are unwilling to let Vlad forgo true love—and this time they’re not operating solo. They join forces with Vlad’s neighbors, a group of meddling widows who call themselves the Loners. But just when things finally look promising, Elena’s past life intrudes and their happily ever after is cast into doubt.

A few things stood out to me while reading this were the wine (yes the wine, I’ll explain…), new level of bromance and Vlad & Elena’s love.

Okay, first up, THE WINE. This might seem like such a small detail, but this Michigan author threw in a little Michigan Easter egg and I was so excited to catch it!! While on a walk I was listening to the audiobook and heard one of the characters reference their favorite wine from Michigan. As a Michigander and a lover of Michigan wines, I had to know if she was referring to a specific vineyard/wine. I immediately sent an Instagram DM and Lyssa Kay Adams responded! It’s one of our favorite wines, The Late Harvest Riesling from Black Star Farms ! This was such a tiny little moment, but for me it made the book that much more enjoyable!

THE BROMANCE IN THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING! Each book Adams has built on the amazing bromance and how they interact and help each other. The level of brotherly love, checking themselves on things they say and really just being their to pick each other up makes my hear so happy! These men hold each other up and hold each other accountable and the friendships, though not always perfect, reflect what healthy male friendships should be. They show the tears and heartbreak, but also the love and triumphs that they all share. If you need a book that models healthy male relationships this series does that!

Finally, the Elena/Vlad romance it was completely makes this book. Where the last book left off we knew we were getting their story next, but it was better than I could have ever hoped for! Vlad’s relentless love for Elena (though not always shown in obvious ways) was adorable, and in return Elena’s quiet pining for Vlad was precious! The moment they actually stumble upon the fact that they both love each other is INCREDIBLE! Vlad’s declaration (won’t spoil it) and Elena dressing up for Vlad when they come together finally is too much and their love filled my heart with so much joy!

If you haven’t read this series, there are really no spoilers above, I would HIGHLY recommend you pick these books up! The audiobooks are fantastic, but the books themselves are gorgeous so you can’t go wrong picking these up!

Happy reading!


Historical Fiction and What to Read

Believe it or not, this YA reading and Romance loving reader had a first love, and that first love was Historical Fiction. I grew up loving history and reading all of the Dear America books and their European counterparts. I loved learning about these real characters in a very relatable way and it fueled my love for historical reads. I want to share a few of my favorites, starting with some easy ones to get into and ending with a behemoth of a book!

First up, My Contrary Mary by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows. This is the most recent book by this group of ladies and it was fantastic! You could easily read this first (as it covers the story of Mary Queen of the Scots) OR you could also start by reading My Lady Jane. Both of these books, though they have elements of Historical Fiction to them, they also have some moments of magic! If you have been doubting whether you could get into history, check these out and give it a go!

The next book is actually my current read! The Grace Kelly Dress is a lovely book that spans 3 generations of a family and a dress. It spans the time when Grace Kelly’s dress was originally made, the 1980’s and then current day. I am thouroughly enjoying the journey of the dress and the families! If you want another way to get into some fun historical fiction this is it! It takes the legend of this dress to a whole new level and connects a family through fabric.

If you are looking for another step up in the Historical Fiction world, check out The Taster. This was one of my favorite historical reads of the year. I loved this book and how it approached the topic of WWII. It shed light on the fact that not everyone in Germany was complacent with the Nazi regime. This book showed how people, though fictional people, fought back against Hitler and his cronies. I loved the story so much and I love that it was inspired by the story of an elderly German woman.

Last but certainly not least is my favorite Historical Fiction and series is Fall of Giants, part of the Century Trilogy. Ken Follett is a master of words and this book is possibly the most masterfully written I have ever read. This book follows a family from the UK, Russia and the US during WWI. What I love about this book (and series) is that it follows these families through not just WWI but WWII, the Korean/Vietnamese Wars and the 60’s (all the way up to the 2000’s). How Ken crafts these family’s stories together is unreal. This book is not for the faint of heart though, as it’s thousands of pages and weighs as much as a small child!

Whether you like Historical Fiction or not I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you pick up a Historical, or slightly Historical Fiction book today! One of these are great, or honestly any book would be great, the point is that you should read!

Happy reading!


An Amazing Duo in YA

This past week I had the opportunity to read an ARC of Gutter Girl by Kelly Anne Blount and Lynn Rush and it did not disappoint! I was introduced to these lovely authors earlier this year when I read In The Penalty Box and I instantly fell in love with their writing styles. They are a fantastic duo and the characters they create feel incredibly real. I asked each of them to share what it’s like to write with a partner like this for a book and below you’ll get to read their responses in their own words!

Jacquie! Thank you so much for having us today! You and your blog are
amazing! We are so excited to be here, celebrating the release of GUTTER GIRL!
We’re also looking forward to our IG live with you on Thursday, June 3 rd at 8PM

From Kelly Anne: What is it like working with a co-author? AH-MAZING! Seriously,
though, co-writing has been a great experience! I love working with Lynn. We definitely
have a really weird connection, as in, we often say and think the same thing at the same
time! Ha ha! It’s like we’re long lost identical twins. But, seriously, co-writing is great. It’s
so much fun to have someone who literally knows as much about a project as you do.
Brainstorming together, editing each other’s chapters, it is all really helpful in the writing
process and it’s something that doesn’t automatically happen when you write a novel
solo. We also balance each other out well in many ways. If I’m struggling with
something, chances are, Lynn is able to help talk or text me through it and vice versa.
Also, I’m a word hoarder. As in, I hate cutting scenes and big chunks of text. Lynn is a
word slasher. As in, she’s amazing at getting out the red pen and getting rid of text that
doesn’t move our plot forward. Our strengths definitely compliment and balance out one
another’s writing, editing, marketing, etc. style. Co-writing isn’t for everyone, but for me,
there’s no one else I’d rather write with then Lynn Rush! 🙂

From Lynn:
It’s been a fun experience. And ever-changing as we face different obstacles that come
up. We’ve had some not so fun things happen with deadlines and life, throwing some
tension on the situation, which isn’t uncommon in the writing world. But the key is
communication, communication, communication, and there isn’t anything we can’t work
through. I love having someone to chat with each and every day who gets me and my
demented writer mind. LOL I swear we share a brain sometimes, and it makes me
smile. I love laughing out loud with Kelly Anne. She’s a talented author and I’m so glad
to be on this journey with her!

These amazing authors have two more books coming out in this series that are on my Kindle as I type this and I will soon have reviews up for as well! Before I get to those though, I would love to go through Gutter Girl and my thoughts on this lovely book.

Here is a quick summary for you of Gutter Girl before I jump into my own thoughts on the book:

Star football player Jace Rovers has a secret. And not just any secret—a shocking secret… He writes romance. The kind with swords. And dresses. And kissing.

Nobody knows. Not the other kids at Twin River High. Not his overbearing parents. And certainly not the millions of fans who’ve read his book on the writing platform Scribbles. And that’s the way he plans to keep it.

Except suddenly one of the other football players grabs his notebook in jest and starts reading a kissing scene out loud…and Jace knows he’s busted.

But then McKenna Storm, resident goth girl who avoids the spotlight like a virus, snatches up the notebook and tells everyone she’s the author. And lucky for Jace, she later agrees to continue the ruse…for a price.

Heck, he’d give her anything not to reveal his secret. But when they start to fall for each other, he knows he’ll have to keep the biggest secret of all—his darkest character is based on her…

Okay, this book was adorable and heartfelt and funny in all the best ways. Jace and McKenna felt so real to me which is something I really appreciated in their book In The Penalty Box as well. That’s the first thing I want to touch on, the fact that Lynn and Kelly Anne do not shy away from real problems that teenagers might be facing. Sometimes when reading YA authors skirt those real world problems but that is something this duo takes head on and it’s something that I have really grown to appreciate in their writing!

Second thing I really loved and appreciated in this book was really just these two main characters and their very different personalities. They are so incredibly different and yet they fit so well together and I was there for it completely! McKenna has such a hard exterior but loves so much and has so many amazing qualities that her relationship with Jace highlights. On the opposite end of the spectrum, McKenna does the same for Jace. She helps bring out this absolutely amazing, loving and caring guy through the pages of this book and I loved it so much! Not to say either of them wouldn’t be what they are without the other, but the authors do such an amazing job of showing what these two mean to each other and what they do for each other and it’s beautiful.

Finally, the fantasy romance novel part of this book was TO DIE FOR. Seriously one of my favorite parts of this book is the fact that Jace is a secret fantasy romance author. These incredible authors thought up this unique and fun idea and brought it to life in these pages and I am 100% there for it. I loved seeing Jace as a ‘jock’ come to life through his writing. It did hurt my heart to see him hiding this passion because he was scared of the acceptance of others or living up to his parents expectations. I loved seeing he get to that point of accepting himself though! It was beautiful and made me want to go out and write a book!

There are so many other things I could go into more detail on and I WILL go into more detail on during out live on my instagram (@alifetimeofpages) on June 3rd, so stay tuned for that! If you are interested in checking out Gutter Girl for yourself here is the release and buy information:

Also, If you want to check out these amazing authors, here are their bios as well as their links:

KELLY ANNE BLOUNT is a USA Today bestselling author of young adult novels. She loves to alternate writing sweet romances, gritty thrillers, and fantasy books. She’s a firm believer in balancing light with dark. 

When she’s not writing, she’s probably lost in a book, watching Coronation Street, or having an adventure with her sweet family, which includes her handsome husband, their darling daughter, and their five furry loving rescues.

After living in a palace in Scotland, across from the Caribbean Sea, and in the snowy land of Wisconsin, Kelly and her family reside in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina. She draws inspiration from the places she’s lived while world building in her books.

Kelly loves connecting with readers on social media! Stop by and say, “Hi!” or ask a question. You can find her everywhere @KellyAnneBlount.

Kelly Anne’s Links:





Street Team/Facebook Group:





*TikTok: @KellyAnneBlount

New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author, LYNN RUSH, is a full-time writer, wife, and trail runner, living in the Sonoran Desert, despite her fear of rattlesnakes. Known as #TheRunningWriter, she can’t resist posting epic sunrise pictures while running in the desert with her trail sisters, even if she has to occasionally hop over a scorpion. When she’s not running, writing, or reading, she and her Ironman husband are watching movies that fuel her undying love of superheroes, vampires, and all things Supernatural. Find her on social media: @LynnRushWrites 

Lynn’s Links




Street Team/Facebook Group:







Pho in Love

Book: A Pho Love Story

Genre: Contemporary/YA Romance

Rating: 5/5 Stars

This was the Bookstaclubbers pick for the month of April and boy was it a GREAT selection for the book of the month. This book felt poignant, relevant and had the absolute sweetest romance and story to it!

Before I jump into my review and some spoilers here is the Goodreads summary:

If Bao Nguyen had to describe himself, he’d say he was a rock. Steady and strong, but not particularly interesting. His grades are average, his social status unremarkable. He works at his parents’ pho restaurant, and even there, he is his parents’ fifthfavorite employee. Not ideal.

If Linh Mai had to describe herself, she’d say she was a firecracker. Stable when unlit, but full of potential for joy and fire. She loves art and dreams pursuing a career in it. The only problem? Her parents rely on her in ways they’re not willing to admit, including working practically full-time at her family’s pho restaurant.

For years, the Mais and the Nguyens have been at odds, having owned competing, neighboring pho restaurants. Bao and Linh, who’ve avoided each other for most of their lives, both suspect that the feud stems from feelings much deeper than friendly competition.

But then a chance encounter brings Linh and Bao in the same vicinity despite their best efforts and sparks fly, leading them both to wonder what took so long for them to connect. But then, of course, they immediately remember.

Can Linh and Bao find love in the midst of feuding families and complicated histories?

When Dimple Met Rishi meets Ugly Delicious in this funny, smart romantic comedy, in which two Vietnamese-American teens fall in love and must navigate their newfound relationship amid their families’ age-old feud about their competing, neighboring restaurants. 

Okay, I want to break this into the 3 things I love most about this lovely book. First up, the commentary on racism, specifically again Asian Americans. This book gives a brief commentary and look into what many immigrants, like Asian Americans, have to go through on a daily basis, sadly. The man that enters Bao’s parent’s shop and disrespects them not only in person but online is just the tip of the iceberg and by including him in the story we get a look at what we need to stand up and speak against! Having talked through this with other Book Club members, we were really able to go through and dig into our feelings about this and how we hope to speak up and stand up for others dealing with this persecution.

Secondly, I adore the food aspect of this book. ALL. THE. FOOD. This book made me hungry in so many ways!! I am a huge fan of Pho to begin with, having tried it for the first time years ago at my friend’s home, so I definitely had Pho while reading the book! On top of that, they mention so many other amazing Vietnamese foods throughout the book and all I wanted to do was go out to our local Vietnamese restaurant and buy food every day. I did restrain myself but I would definitely not have declined if someone brought me Pho every day!

Finally, the relationships in this book. Not just the romance between Bao and Linh, which was ADORABLE, but the family dynamics of this book. To get a glimpse into their families, especially as first generation/2nd generation immigrants, it was very enlightening. Seeing the pressures and stresses that they encountered as families and how much they rely on each other was truly a beautiful thing. In addition to that, I LOVED how Bao and Linh had different experiences with their families and expectations too. It was interesting to see how Bao’s parents were supportive no matter what, just because they wanted him to find a passion in life. In contrast to that, Linh’s parents were also supportive but in a very different way, wanting her to be successful in her life. It was all so beautiful and well thought out and I adored every page of it.

If you haven’t read this yet, pick it up and HAPPY READING!!


The Book I’ve Been Craving

Book: Crave

Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 Stars

It’s been far too long since I wrote a review, but this book warrants one. First of, holy shoot, did this one catch me off guard! I had read rave reviews on this and saw the hype via social media, but I didn’t believe it. my library hold came through this week and I am not kidding when I say I could not put this book down (or headphones down since it was in audio format…). Tracy Wolff’s ability to craft this world and these characters is incredible and it is the most captivating thing I have read in way too long.

Before I dig into this review, here’s the Goodreads summary:

My whole world changed when I stepped inside the academy. Nothing is right about this place or the other students in it. Here I am, a mere mortal among gods…or monsters. I still can’t decide which of these warring factions I belong to, if I belong at all. I only know the one thing that unites them is their hatred of me.

Then there’s Jaxon Vega. A vampire with deadly secrets who hasn’t felt anything for a hundred years. But there’s something about him that calls to me, something broken in him that somehow fits with what’s broken in me.

Which could spell death for us all.

Because Jaxon walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake a sleeping monster, and I’m wondering if I was brought here intentionally—as the bait.

First things first, YES, it does have a similar feel to Twilight, but NO it is not like a Twilight knock off in any way. It has some nods to everyone’s favorite vampires, but it is completely unique in its own right. I wanted to start out with that and say I am not going to be comparing this to Twilight, even though it gave me some of that lovely Twilight-is nostalgia that I loved so very much!

The world building of this book is incredible and having started Crush, the sequel, it’s safe to say the Tracy Wolff is a master at it. The academy and the world of these paranormal creatures is amazing. She makes this remote castle in the Alaskan wilderness into a dream world, full of vibrant characters and beautiful scenery and deadly events. The setting alone took my breathe away, but the magic and her own unique take on these paranormal beings made it completely one of a kind.

On top of this amazing world at the academy I am OBSESSED with the characters, two in particular. I adore Jaxon. He gives me all the moody vibes that I always got from Edward, but I am not lying here when I say I like him more. His attitude, the mystery about him and his standoffish attitude all add together to create the most perfect main man on campus! In addition to Jaxon, we have my new favorite dragon, Flint. I have never seen a shapeshifting dragon in a book before (going between dragon and human form) and I AM SO IN LOVE. I also adore that at the start of this book Wolff uses the chess set to reference all of these characters we will meet throughout the book. It’s amazing and I love it so much!

If you have been missing the paranormal Twilight vibes in your life, this book is so for you! I got through it in 3 quick days via audiobook, listening sporadically during my planning periods and drives to work. I can’t recommend it enough, and even bought my own copies because the obsession is real! Go out and get yourself a copy today!!

Happy Reading!