Posted in book review

The Set Up

Title: The Set Up

Author(s): Falguni Kothari

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: Audiobook

Would I Recommend? No

Book Rating:

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Spice Rating:

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Synopsis

“Just three dates…”

Aditi Gupta is a pediatric resident. She has been busy with med school and work, not having time for dating. Well her grandfather disagrees. His compromise is to have his granddaughter go on three dates, that’s it. Aditi begrudgingly agrees but wants to make it clear that this is not an arranged marriage setup. Her grandfather agrees, and so the dates begin.

While Aditi wants to one day find the love of her life, she does not have high hopes for these dates. On her first date she meets the handsome Krishna Lal and as expected is does not go well.

Does she have high hopes for the other three dates? Nope, but these dates are nothing like she expected.


Thoughts?

This is a rom-com novella presented by Audible, which means if you are listening to it on 1.5 speed, it will take you a little over an hour to listen to. I sometimes forget when I am listening to a novella versus a novel that the development of the characters, plot, and emotion can feel lacking. In reality it is the authors attempt to balance out everything in a short amount of time. The question then becomes how well did they balance them out.

Falguni did a decent job at this task. I enjoyed the overall plot line more than I enjoyed the characters. I was really turned off by Krishna’s character early on in the story. He made some comments throughout their date that made me wonder if looks outweighed a shitty personality. Aditi seems independent, strong-willed, and compassionate. She has a lot of responsibility and pressure, but she wants to fall in love one day. Honestly, I just had a hard time connecting with these characters. I think part of it is because their experiences are rooted in a culture I am unfamiliar with. The other part is I just don’t think they were super likable characters.

Its a cute story, but I think I like the side story better (avoiding those spoilers). How the plot wraps up was delightfully sweet and slightly unexpected, but it made me smile nonetheless.

Like all audiobooks, the narrators can make or break a story. If they do not depict a character well or make it uninteresting and monotone, then why bother continuing? This did not happen for The Setup. I think the narrators did well with the material they were given.

Final Review

Do I think this is a good book?

Meh. It was fine for a rom-com novella.

Was the romance good?

I would classify it as a level 1 romance. There are cute scenes but nothing that makes me go “Awe…” Plus, with Krishna having some not-great monologue I just couldn’t see how these two worked together.

Would I recommend this to anyone and everyone?

Uh… No. I thought the cover was cute, which drew me in, but it wasn’t really for me. As I mentioned, I think there are some cultural aspects that I just don’t understand. I can appreciate them, but I don’t connect with them. That being said, maybe if you have similar family experiences, you may get a kick out of this.

Overall, it wasn’t bad. As I was writing this review, I realized that I needed to change my rating on this book. Initially, I gave it 3 stars because I didn’t think it was bad, but it wasn’t my favorite. After looking at all my thoughts… I didn’t think it was great. Not because the writing was bad or the plot was uninteresting, but I couldn’t connect or empathize with the characters. That and there seemed to be some toxic traits I was not a fan of. Regardless if you are interested in the cute plot ending, it’s worth a listen; otherwise, you can pass on this one.


Posted in book review

Beach Read

Title: Beach Read

Author(s): Emily Henry

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: Physical Read

Would I Recommend? Yes!

Book Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Spice Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Synopsis

January Andrews is known for her romance novels. At one point she believed in all things love. She had a relationship that she thought would last forever and she wanted her relationship like her parents. Everyone has secrets though. Following the death of her father, January learns that there were some skeletons in her parents closet. After these secrets are reveal and her perfect relationship fails, believing in love is no longer a reality. As a result, she has been struggling to write her novel. Now she has three months to write her next book…but can she do it?

Her father left her his house after he died. January decided that she would clean it out and spend the summer there trying to write her book. There would be no distractions and it should make it easier. That was until she met her next door neighbor, Gus, who she went to school with and was in constant competition. When the two run into each other in town, both struggling to write their books a competition begins.

Who will win in the end? What other secrets may be hiding? Will January and Gus finish their books? Will they stay enemies?

Only time will tell.


Thoughts?

I read this book immediately after finishing “The Dead Romantics.” I didn’t realize it was going to be the summer of writers. There were some similarities between the books: writers, not believing in love, dead father, but there was also a lot that was different.

When I was first introduced to January, I wasn’t sure how I felt about her. She was going through a lot, navigating her feelings and facing the reality of her financial/family situations. Those are places that I can definitely relate to, but I was a little worried that her pity party would drag out too long. Thankfully I did not find that to be the case.

You are quickly introduced to Gus and see another side of January that highlights her inability to cope and forget the past. Gus had other things in mind. As their relationship developed in different ways, I enjoyed seeing how both characters grew, changed and interacted with each other as they tried to write these new books. They also have some wonderful banter; the note passing is adorable!

The challenge that Gus proposed was truly a delight. Seeing how both characters could create a story and the process that they took was interesting. The dichotomy of the types of books each wrote was also fascinating. Usually I tend to focus my reading on romance or women’s literature. It’s not that I don’t enjoy anything else, but it’s what I gravitate to, so seeing a small perspective of thought process for something different was interesting.

Even though I liked both Gus and January, my favorite character was easily Pete. Pete always has something up her sleeve and is the life of the party. She is the person that causes me to squirm when they enter a room or their opinion into my relationships, but I also know they have the best intentions. Pete is witty, carefree, and an interesting business owner.

So why not 5 stars?

While I enjoy Emily Henry’s writing style and storylines, storylines were dragged out, and others were not developed enough. I also found that there was a lot of hype around this book, making it difficult to stay objective about it. I would like to mention that I owned this book way before the hype; I just hadn’t gotten to it yet. While there is not a lot of sex or intimacy when it does occur, it’s not too bad. The against the bookshelves, wooh! Loved that!

Final Review

Do I think this is a good book?

Yes. I really enjoy Emily Henry’s writing style and the way she develops her characters.

Was it really a summer-y read?

While you aren’t sitting on a beach or going on some magical vacation, the majority of the book takes place within the three months of summer (June, July, August). January and Gus still experience some summer activities, such as the 4th of July, summer weather, and sitting on the patio watching the lake.

Would I recommend this to anyone and everyone?

Yes! I would say that this is a loose enemies to lovers, so if that is not your cup of tea then this may not be for you.

If you are looking for a cute summer read about someone trying to overcome their past and explore the future, this book is for you. Like all Emily Henry books, a small surprise occurs within the book designed to pull on your heart strings. Overall, it is a delightful read, and I am sad it took me so long to pick it up.


Posted in book review

The Calm Before the Storm

Title: The Calm Before the Storm

Author(s): Danielle L Jensen

Genre: Fantasy

Format: Ebook

Would I Recommend? Yes!

Book Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Spice Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis

You have just saved Ithicana from the wrath of your father. He manipulated you, destroyed your trust in people, and endangered all you hold dear. Unfortunately, due to the doomed circumstances of your father’s actions, you are now attempting to rebuild the trust of the Ithicanian people. There are numerous roadblocks in the way; one, in particular, is that you have been stuck in bed for that last month healing from your injuries. Therefore, you must navigate a new set of obstacles that involve winning over the court, discovering marital incompatibility, and being recognized as the Ithicanian queen.

Good Luck.

This novella takes place following The Traitor Queen and The Inadequate Heir.


Thoughts?

Following the near-death experiences of Lara, Aren and Lara have a lot of emotions and sexual tension. The easiest way to relieve that sexual tension is, of course, to have sex; however, Aren’s grandma gave strict orders for Lara to rest. Obviously over-rated. This novella has more sexual scenes and energy than any of the other books in the series, but it also has less plot/details needed.

While the sex scenes were well written, my favorite part in this novella was not the sex. It is the scene when Lara is finally able to leave her bed and starts to walk towards the main room, where the country’s meeting is occurring. Lara’s strength, determination, and vulnerability as a character were relatable and intriguing.

Even though these six chapters were unnecessary, I am glad they exist. They show a rebuilding and rekindling of the relationship that Aren and Lara were working with in the previous books.

I genuinely look forward to seeing what else happens throughout the rest of the series.

Final Review

Do I think this is a good book?

Yes.

Did it add anything to the story , or was it just extra and irrelevant?

This one is a little tough to answer because we do not know what follows The Inadequate Heir. If Danielle L Jensen decides to incorporate several of the story aspects in the next book, then it was probably something just to bid the time between the next release. But, if these points are not added, then it was a great addition and something I am glad exists.

Would I recommend this to anyone and everyone?

Absolutely!

The Bridge Kingdom series is ideal for anyone who loves fantasy, fae, spice, enemies-to-lovers, and wonderful world-building. When I started this series, I did not know what to expect; but now that I am here, it has turned into one of my favorites.


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Posted in book review

The Never King

Title: The Never King

Author(s): Nikki St Crowe

Genre: Fantasy/Romance

Format: Audiobook

Would I Recommend? Yes!

Book Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Spice Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Synopsis

You know the story of Peter Pan, right? Peter meets Wendy, they go back to Neverland, have a jolly old time, and never want to grow up… Well, if that is what you were hoping for from this story, stop reading now and continue on with your day. I hope it’s wonderful.

Now, for those of you who stuck around, this is a dark and sexy version of Peter Pan. Instead of Peter and Hook being enemies, it is the Darling women. How does he remedy that problem? Naturally he kidnaps them on their 18th birthday, brings them to Neverland, and hopes to hell that she can accomplish his much needed task. To find his secret.

This Darling daughter, Winnie, is unlike the others. She grew up with a messed up mom who was always trying the prevent Pan from taking her daughter. She turned into Winnie the Whore way before Pan arrived. Not only that, but she is constantly struggling through life. So, when Pan comes to get her, neither of them are ready for what is about to happen.

Directly quoted from the Goodreads synopsis, because I don’t think I could have summed it up better myself.

“If you like your enemies to lovers romance with hot, ruthless, morally gray love interests, you’ll enjoy The Never King and the Lost Boys. You can expect hate kissing, fighting, bickering, and ‘touch her and I’ll unalive you’ vibes. ”


Thoughts?

When I tell you I have never screamed “Damn-it” so loud while driving, immediately pulled over to see if book 2 had been published, so fast in my book loving time, I don’t know what else to tell ya. Okay, maybe that is a little dramatic, but I did do one of those two things.

Needless to say I was hooked from the start.

I will say that this audiobook is only 4 hours and 35 minutes, so there is not necessarily a whole lot of character building or world building happening. That being said, I don’t think there will be too many people reading this book because of the unique and crafty description of Neverland (spoilers, there really isn’t one).

At the start of the story, you are introduced to Winnie in her shining moment, having some type of disappointing sex. You learn that her life hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies. It has sucked because of this “stupid imaginary” man named Pan that her mom is terrified of. Little does she realize, Pan does exist and everything her mom told her had truth to it.

When the narrator for Pan entered the story with his deep and husky voice. I was sold. It took away any notion of the Peter Pan story I knew growing up and introduced me to a whole new world. I loved it! The other narrators for Kas, Vane, Cherry, and Bash were great too, but you knew there was going to be trouble with Pan just by his voice.

Now let’s talk about sex. Technically, this story would be classified as a reverse harem. If you aren’t sure what a reverse harem is I will go into more detail with the Zodiac Queen series, but basically it is one girl, 3+ guys, and she really doesn’t get a say in who she gets (though there is still the option of consent). Because of its reverse harem status, I will typically give a rating of 4.5 as a minimum. Not necessarily because the sex is extra spicy, but reverse harems can be a kink for some people. There are two main sex scenes in this story which happen in the middle of the book, relatively close together. Expect to see 2-on-1, rough sex, and definitely some after care.

Aside from all that, keep in mind that this is a dark retelling so thing can get a little violent. Not with Winnie involved, but with some of the other characters.

The big downside…she left it on a cliff hanger.

Final Review

Do I think this is a good book?

Yes.

Would I have physically read the book?

I’m sure I would have, but when Audible is having their summer sale and the book is only $3, you really can’t go wrong.

Would I recommend this to anyone and everyone?

Absolutely not! But if you are one of my spicy reader friends, then maybe.

This book is not like any other Peter Pan retelling that I have come across…so far (Hooked by Emily McIntire is on the TBR list). I would add TRIGGER WARNINGS for dark content, violence, references to schizophrenia, rough sex, and references to prostitution. That being said, I am interested to see where this series goes. It is not for the faint of heart, but if you are okay with something a little dark then this might interest you.


Posted in book review

Artemis

Title: Artemis

Author(s): Andy Weir

Genre: Sci-fi

Format: Audiobook

Would I Recommend? No

Book Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Spice Rating:

Rating: 0 out of 5.

Synopsis

Life on the moon sounds amazing! Well, sort of?

Artemis is the first city and establishment on the moon. While it has been there for decades it is still a work in progress. If you are not a billionaire or a tourist you are likely still struggling to get by. Which is why theft and smuggling become a full time operation for some. For this story, that description is set aside for Jazz Bashara.

Jazz has a lot of debts to pay, but she might get lucky and have them removed if she can finish a jon for an eccentric billionaire. It is going to take smarts, plannings, and stealth like maneuvers, but she should be able to do it. Right?

Honestly, if I give you any more details I basically tell you enough of the story that you can piece together what happens on your own. That wouldn’t exactly be ideal would it?


Thoughts?

If you are expecting The Martian or Project Hail Mary then you need to stop and reconsider if this is the book you want to read. I think that a lot of the negative reviews come from the quality and content of his other books rather than taking this book in as it is.

With that being said, I still think this was a decent book. Was it my favorite? No. Did I hate myself for reading it. Also no. It’s just different.

Taking place on the moon in “Artemis” named after the Greek goddess we meet Jazz. A smuggler with a moral compass and smarts. She manages to get herself into some bargain of a lifetime that as you would expect goes south quickly. She is sassy and sarcastic which makes the dialogue interesting. As a Canadian, many of the Canadian comments and references were wonderful.

There is still a lot of science based material as you would expect from his books, but it was easier to understand and follow.

Final Review

Do I think this is a good book?

It was okay

Would I have physically read the book?

Nope. I wouldn’t have made it past the first few chapters.

Would I recommend this to anyone and everyone?

No. Probably not.

The thing is that I think Andy Weir has other books that are much better that I would likely recommend first. While I don’t think it was a bad book, I just don’t think it was the best one he has written.

Ultimately this book is a space heist/undercover mission/under dog story. Add in a little diversity since her family is originally from Saudi Arabia. Sprinkle in some sarcasm and wittiness. You’ve basically summed up this book.


Posted in book review

The Summer Melt

Title: The Summer Melt

Author(s): Emily March

Genre: Romance

Format: Audiobook

Would I Recommend? Meh

Book Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Spice Rating:

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Synopsis

Small town romance story? Sure why not. Sexy Scottish accents? I am not opposed. A little competition? It couldn’t hurt. Something short and sweet (under 3 hours)? Perfect for a trip.

Dana Delaney runs and owns her ice cream parlor, Scoops. During peak summer tourist season, Dana is staying busy. When her friend from the pool suggests an employee switch, Dana isn’t sure how it will play out; but she is convinced that it will increase sales. And she’s right.

But when her star player falls sick, its time to call in the big leagues. Enter Cal Buchanan. Visiting Eternity Springs as an A-list sport agent on a mission to help a client with a surprise proposal. Even if he does get a little distracted by the beautiful Dana Delaney. It can still all work out, right?


Thoughts?

It’s an audio-novella, which means its short and not a whole lot has to happen. The premise is super cute and I think works really well for a sweet summer romance. The narrators did an excellent job with their characters. The Scotttish accent wasn’t too bad, though I will say I am not sure I understand the attraction to accents.

So far its all only good things; why the three star rating? It was super cute and for a quick summer romance listen it fit the bill, but honestly, I was just glad to be done with it. As I mentioned, audio novellas are short and sweet, but this one had some plot points that happened SUPER fast. It seemed super unrealistic. I was also a little concerned at the start when one of the characters was still in high school and the older characters hadn’t been introduced yet. Don’t worry there is no age gap or sketchy things in this novella.

Overall, the premise was interesting and I remember some of the things about it, but it wasn’t something I personally would get excited about.

Final Review

Will you re-listen to it?

No, probably not. While it was cute, it wasn’t anything spectacular for me. It met me needs and then I was able to move on.

Does it meet the classification of a Summer Read (or listen)?

Absolutely! Its a perfectly cute summer time romance listen.

Would I recommend this to anyone and everyone?

If they asked about it, sure!

For anyone, like myself, who likes finding summer reads because trying to read about summer in the middle of winter is a struggle, then this would fit the bill. Its cute and summery. The romance is just the right about of flirtation to make you want to swoon. Honestly, its a quick listen, so even if it is not your usually option, its worth a shot at least.


Posted in Monthly Reads

June 2022 Reads

Oh June…you were filled with lots of PRIDE, teaching, and not enough time to breathe. I was big into audiobooks and apparently all things series. I even started my own book club this month!

I will work on updating and creating blog posts for each of these books. In the meantime, here is the basic information.

Contemporary Romance, Audiobook

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Contemporary Romance, Audiobook

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Contemporary Romance, Audiobook

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Literary Fiction, Physical Read

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Spicy Romance – Hades/Persephone, Physical Read

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, Audiobook

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Sci-Fi, Audiobook

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Fantasy, Audiobook

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Romance, Audiobook

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Fantasy, Audiobook

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Fantasy, Audiobook

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Fantasy, Audiobook

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Manga, Ebook

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Posted in Book World

Rating Systems – What on Earth are you Using?

Have you ever read a review, but have no idea what the ratings mean?

Yeah, me too and honestly, I am guilty of doing the same thing. Before starting my bookstagram account, rating books was not something I ever did. I could tell which books I liked and which I didn’t like by feel. If someone named a book and asked my opinion on it, I would say, “Yea, I liked it” or “No, I hated it.” It was as simple as that.

I quickly learned with my bookstagram that was not something you could really do. When I started in 2021, I figured I would give stars based on how I felt.

Is there anything wrong with this rating system? No, but I found that I could not explain what I liked or didn’t like about a book. If this is how you rate your books, then keep doing it that way! Whatever works for you is always best. For me, what I found was that my feeling it rating scale was subjective and not a great representation of a book.

If you looked at my Goodreads from 2021, this would have been how I rated things. Starting, this gave me perspective; however, I realized I needed more. How did I add more, you might ask, well, I fell in love with romance novels, so I figured I would add spice ratings and a little more detail to my star ratings.

Here I am starting a new book journal and a new year of books and this is what I came up with.

Were they much better than the above? Nope! But it gave me a starting point. I would like to add that as someone who wants to become a sexologist and research different relationships, the above spice rating scale is super disappointing on a personal level.

Again, if this is how you rate your books, there is nothing wrong with it. It is absolutely okay!

So, why am I sitting here writing about all the rating systems I have used? Did I finally figure out the perfect system? Is this going to change the book world forever? Haha no; but I have realized the importance of understanding different people’s ratings.

At the end of May, I was working on wrapping up my monthly book journal spread, when I looked at all my ratings and was shocked. Over half of my ratings were 5 star reads. I began questioning if they really were or if I was just being super generous. Honestly, it seemed like too many 5 star reviews. Naturally, I decided to look on bookstagram and see what other people were rating books. My conclusion after that investigation was that everything is subjective. Unless someone is explicitly giving you their rating system in detail then who knows what it really is. Sure, book reviews help put it into perspective, but it is not a perfect system.

After all that, I decided that I needed to re-evaluate my rating system one last time (at least for this year). I am not 100% happy with it, but at least I know how I am rating things and why.

Needless to say, I am glad I modified it. It is okay to make changes because they help us have a better gauge about not only our opinions but, our preferences too. For me, this is also a way that I can keep you informed about how I view different books and give you some insight into why I scored a book the way I did. I will likely change my rating system again next year, but in the meantime, this is what I am rolling with.

I would love to hear about what your rating systems look like.

Until next time!

Sincerely,

Awakening Bibliophile


One response to “Rating Systems – What on Earth are you Using?”

  1. July Wrap Up – Awakening Bibliophile Avatar

    […] I mentioned in my ratings post, I recently changed how I look at books. The goal being more objective with a hint of subjective. I […]

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