Review: A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert

Title: A Girl Like Her

Author: Talia Hibbert

Rating: ★★★★★

Publication Date: March 14,2018

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Hello friends! Guess who’s out here reading Romance books…. ME! The best part about being apart of the Dragons and Tea Book Club is that I’m reading books, I would normally never pick up. This month’s pick was A Girl Like Her and once again I couldn’t help myself but read this in one sitting. And I couldn’t put it down. Melanie and Amy sure know how to pick excellent book choices.

So what is this book about…

“Fanfic is good for my heart. Running is a disaster waiting to happen, and you know it.”

–> Ruth Kabbah

What did we do to deserve such representation? Honestly, this was awesome. An own-voices plus size, autistic, black woman. *heart eyes* I want to meet Ruth and talk all the comics with her. Seriously, it was like reading my own thoughts about comics. Ruth was a FANTASTIC main character and someone I truly loved reading about. While I couldn’t relate to her being autistic, I did relate to her on many different levels. She was a huge geek and every time she talked comics it was like reading my own thoughts.

Her coping with previous relationships, anxiety, and guilt was beautiful and heartbreaking to read. Ruth was a prickly person with an inability to cook food and said the wrong things 90% of the time, but I absolutely loved her.

–>Evan Miller

My man, Evan. The perfect foil for the prickly Ruth, Evan is all about being a sweetheart. The whole time reading him I kept thinking of Chris Evans, but like bearded Cap from Avengers: Infinity Wars. Is that what the author was going for, who knows. But honestly, it was the best image of Evan. Completely chivalrous, he is new to Ravenswood and is not about any preconceived notions about Ruth. Nah, he was raised by good parents who taught him to get the facts straight from the source. The whole package, Evan is absolutely adorable the entire time. Cooks for others because he is so afraid Ruth is malnourished, and for his new friend Zach and his ailing mother. Evan is all about helping others out. And he is completely infatuated with Ruth and it’s just super cute. He is all about consent and never ever wants Ruth to be afraid of him. Honestly, a dream dude. More men should aspire to be Evan Miller is what I’m saying.


“It’s just, I want to do things with you. Not to you. There’s a difference.”

Am I finally reading adult contemporary/romance books? Yes, I think I might. Did I immediately buy the second one right after I devoured this beauty? Yes, I did. I’m growing up kids. Look out.

Confession time: I’ve only read one other adult contemporary like this in my life. It was called Wallbanger by Alice Clayton and it was so great. So A Girl Like Her is the second, and I enjoyed this so much. I think the reason I loved this so much is that it toes a very fine line of Rom-Com and full on Romance. Because why yes, this was super cute and adorable and nerdy, it also had its share of sex. And there weren’t many cringe tropes that really make or break it for me. Instead, the author does a phenomenal job of highlighting the beauty of consent!

There are some serious warnings for people who have suffered abuse. Ruth suffered from a bad relationship that included emotional, mental and sexual abuse. It’s more of past experience and it’s only through Ruth reminiscing about it. But still could be troublesome for some people. Stay safe, my friends.

Overall this was a great introduction to adult contemporary for me and I’m so happy it was the pick for Dragons and Tea Book Club. For me, A Girl Like Her was a super cute book written by a wonderful Woman of Color who I now adore. Do yourself a favor and spend a little money on A Girl Like Her. It’s worth it. Okay, friends, I’m off to read some more books by Talia Hibbert.

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ARC Review: Somewhere Only We Know

Title: Somewhere Only We Know

Author: Maurene Goo

Rating: ★★★★★

Publication Date: May 7, 2019

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Hello, my loves! A quick update on life before I start the review. You may have noticed I’ve been away for a bit, well on my birthday, my friend and I decided we are going to make a spontaneous trip…… to THAILAND!! And the best part is it’s for a BTS concert. Are you seeing today’s theme is Kpop?

It’s been a while since I’ve read contemporary… like a LONG time. Seriously think the last real one was the Fault in Our Stars??? But this year I’ve read 2! I’ve never been a romance kinda gal, but friends….. I ADORED THIS BOOK. Seriously, it was over and I just wanted to immediately buy all of Maurene Goo’s books. (Stupid spending ban) Am I into contemporary books now? 2019 is really shaping up to be the year of new books. New Year, New Me.

So what is Somewhere Only We Know about…

Lucky/Fern: an up and coming Korean-American idol. At 18, she’s just finished her last concert in Hong Kong after a long Asian tour. Her next stop is to come to America for American debut that hopefully wins her some new fans. She loves to perform and sing, but lately has been just going through the motions. Although she is originally from America, she moved at a young age to Seoul to pursue a music career. She has a very clean record and has not been involved in any scandals. Lucky is her stage name.

Jack: an 18 old Korean-American, who moved with his family to Hong Kong just a few years ago. He’s just graduated from high school and is taking a gap year, working for his father’s bank. He has a passion for photography but doesn’t think his parents would approve of him going to school for it. He also moonlights as a tabloid photographer, photographing all the dirt he can find on famous people.

Lucky’s search for a hamburger is what brings these two characters together in Hong Kong. Think Roman Holiday in Hong Kong. Both Jack and Lucky have secrets they are keeping from each other but still managed to have a fun 24 hours together filled with food, a little romance, Hong Kong scenery and more food.

“Jack, there is actual goodness and badness, you know that right? Like there’s life that is quality and there’s a life that is….empty.”

This was a joy to read from the very beginning. I’m a huge fan of Kpop (BTS FOR LIFE) so I was already really excited for this to come out. But it was the growth in characters that really sold me. Told from both Jack and Lucky’s perspective, I thought this was a really cool premise. Two polar opposite characters spend a fun-filled day together and help each other become better versions of themselves.

It’s hard to write a book based on a mostly 24-hour time window, and Maurene does a wonderful job. It’s paced so well that I kept forgetting this was all happening in such one day. The setting of Hong Kong leaps off the page as the author is very descriptive with the sights, tastes of Hong Kong. Was Hong Kong on my list of places to visit…yes. But now it’s at the top of the list of places I would like to visit.

I really liked Somewhere Only We Know. I thought it had a cute plot, precious characters and a setting I would kill to be in right now. 2019 is the year I read other genres besides just fantasy and comics, lol. Is this the best contemporary book I’ve ever read, who knows. But I enjoyed it and I think a lot of people will all enjoy this incredibly cute story.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

ARC Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Title: A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Rating: ★★★

Publication Date: February 5,2019

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A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a modern retelling of the Beauty and the Beast. It features a much darker story then the old classic. With the “beast” being cursed to repeat the same three months over and over until he find the person to fall in love with him. After three hundred seasons and countless bloodshed, this is finally

Friends, I gotta be honest. I completely forgot what this book was about until I started reading it. I’m not the biggest fan of Beauty and the Beast retellings, but I have read some good ones in recent years. I was really excited to read this book, but it was just so so for me.

“Failure isn’t absolute. Just because you couldn’t save everyone doesn’t mean you didn’t save anyone.”

Harper is from DC and she’s had a Rough ™life. Her mother is dying of cancer and her family cannot afford medical treatments. Her brother, Jake is forced to work for the crime lords to just scrape by. Harper also has Cerebral Palsy. Based on my own personal experiences with this disability and the story itself, its given that Harper is a little more high functioning. She was a pretty cool character, who stuck to her guns and just wanted to make sure her family was safe. She was badass and had no problem telling anyone off including the prince.

Rhen is pretty much over everything and it shows. Reminded me of Rhys a bit from The Court Series. Every time a girl doesn’t fall in love with him, he turns into a different beast and no one is safe from him.

Grey was my dude. Probably my fave character. Loyal to a fault, he is the only one left with Rhen and has seen what happens after every single season. He is also given the ability to travel between the worlds and kidnaps the girls for each season.

The problem I always have with Beauty and the Beast retellings is someone is still kidnapped and held against their will. What made this book so interesting was that Harper was not the intended target, it was a mistake for her to be taken. And so she is already beyond apprehensive about Rhen and Grey and the whole curse. It made Harper’s relationships with both men more realistic and I appreciated it.

“We are not always presented with the choices we want, but choices exist nonetheless.”

My favorite part of this whole book was the theme of choice. Y’all know I love Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier and damn, Rhen and Bucky would be self-loathing best friends for sure. Rhen has been cursed by Lilith and in turn, has killed many people close to him. Harper has had to watch her mother slowly deteriorate and her brother does questionable things. But sometimes things are out of our control. Yes, there are choices we can make, but sometimes it doesn’t matter what is chosen, things still happen.

Overall, I didn’t hate this and I didn’t absolutely love it either. A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a LONG book and sometimes you really felt how long. Some things were a little cliched and Lilith showing up was just annoying sometimes. The ending felt rushed and scrambled, but I saw this isn’t standalone. So maybe I’ll like the second one a little better.

But while I wasn’t the biggest of fans for this book. I can see how some people would really enjoy this. This still had some cool twists and turns and was a good retelling of a beloved classic.

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Review: The Wicker King by K. Ancrum

Title: The Wicker King

Author: K. Ancrum

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Publication Date: October 31, 2017

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Friends! This book was such a surprise for me. I am not the biggest fan of contemporary but I’m trying new things. This was also the first book pick for The Dragons and Tea Book Club! I’m so very thankful to be a part of this club and can’t wait to make new friends in this wonderful book community.

This is a messed up book. The whole time reading I felt every emotion imaginable and it wasn’t until the end where I thought “wow I love this and I hate how much I love it.” I can see why this would be a polarizing story for some.

The Wicker King is a brilliantly written well-plotted story that takes the reader on a dark, emotional and (even a little) disturbing journey. I devoured this book at work and then proceeded to tell my friend (also at work) to please read this so I could have someone to cry over this with. The entire time reading I felt every emotion imaginable. The end of the book had me feeling like Kat reading “10 Things I Hate About You” to Patrick in the movie 10 Things I Hate About You. I hated how much I loved The Wicker King 

Visually stunning by using the pages to signify the main characters’ inner turmoil. As the story progresses, the pages become darker eventually turning black. One of the most creative things I’ve ever seen in a book. The plot is enthralling and the characters are unique, making for a gripping story. The chapters were short which made it very hard for me to put it down.

August and Jack were such interesting TRAGIC characters who I loved. I just want to take them home with me and make them all the food. Broken kids who have gone through a lot for their age. Abusive and neglectful parenting tied these two men together into a relationship that was unhealthy for them both. Codependent to an unhealthy level, Ancrum gives us the story of two young men obsessed with each other and the lengths they will go for each other.

August’s voice throughout the book is so jumbled and well-done that it added an extra level of suspense for the reader. Ancrum does a wonderful job of showing August’s confused inner thoughts. I was confused about his relationships with the other characters and so was August.

A raw and powerful look at mental illness, The Wicker King explores many topics that resonate with many of us. The repercussions of absent, and neglectful parenting greatly impacted the characters and greatly propelled the plot. The effects of unhealthy relationships also really move the plot along. Ancrum does a brilliant job of having a neutral perspective on the characters and their relationships.

All in all, I think this was a brilliantly written book I fell in love with. For my first contemporary book in many years, I found myself asking for more. This is a messed up book, as I’ve said. You’ll either love it or you’ll hate it. But it’s a book I will forever be recommending to people.

“If you drop the weight you are carrying, it is okay. You can build yourself back up out of the pieces.”

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The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy #3) by Katherine Arden

Title: The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy #3)

Author: Katherine Arden

Rating: ★★★★★ (all the stars)

Publication Date: January 8, 2019

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  1. The Bear and the Nightingale– ★★★★★
  2. The Girl in the Tower– ★★★★★

Many years ago, Baby girl Smith was born… me! I wouldn’t meet my parents for another month, but today is my birthday! And since we are just beginning winter I thought today would be a perfect day to release my review for not only my favorite book of 2019 but also the perfect winter read.

“There are no monsters in the world, and no saints. Only infinite shades woven into the same tapestry, light and dark. One man’s monster is another man’s beloved. The wise know that.”

I probably talk about this trilogy at least 3 times a week, so everyone knows about my deep devotion to the first two books. So of course, the last book in this trilogy has been at the top of the most anticipated reads of 2019. I was fortunate enough to finally meet Katherine Arden this year at NYCC and man did I cry. I walked out of NYCC practically cradling The Winter of the Witch.

The Winter of the Witch picks up right at the end of Girl in the Tower and the action is there. Not going to lie, I was stressed at some points. The stakes have never been higher for Vasya and we see that in this fast-paced plot. From the very first moment, you are captured by the story of it all. I said Bear and the Nightingale is a breathtaking fairy tale and Girl in the Tower is an epic adventure, but Winter of the Witch is both. All those easter eggs you were given in the first two books come together in the most creative and imaginative ways. We see where Katherine Arden wanted to take us; a wonderful journey filled with the most fantastical of characters.

“What use am I? None. I have made more mistakes than I can count, and the world has no place for me. And yet, as I said before, I am still not going to die to please you.”

Katherine Arden character development is one of the greatest things I’ve ever read. Vasya is no longer the little girl who stole honeycakes from her nursemaid. Instead, she is this amazingly strong woman who has defied all expectations people had for her. Brilliantly flawed, Arden gives Vasya more character development in just a short time. I say it every day, but Vasya is my all time favorite female character. But it’s not just the main characters brilliantly written in this book. Even the most minor characters show a depth that expertly adds to this folkloric story.

Just like the previous two we are introduced to more fairy tales. This installment adds many whimsical elements that are sure to entice any reader. Midnight roads, quirky characters and legends of old add an extra level of fairytale to this story that reminded me of Bear and the Nightingale.

Friends, I WAS NOT ready for the range of emotions Arden would deliver. I cried, no, BAWLED my eyes out. I felt knocked down multiple times but slowly was put back together by Arden’s story-telling. This book is sure to give you feelings. And that scene…… I…. just.. *cries*

This book was everything I wanted it to be and more. I could read 100 more books about each character. BUT this is the perfect ending to a beautiful story. The characters, the setting, the story all feel completed by the end.

Winter of the Witch really cemented my love for this Trilogy. You may see me hugging these books around town. This is my favorite series of all time. If you ever want my recommendation it is The Winternight Trilogy.

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Thank you to Del Rey for this arc 🙂

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The Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2) by Katherine Arden

The Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2) by Katherine Arden


“You are immortal, and perhaps I seem small to you,” she said at last fiercely. “But my life is not your game.”

Title: The Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2)

Author: Katherine Arden

Rating: ★★★★★

Publication Date: December 5, 2017

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  1. The Bear and the Nightingale  ★★★★★

The Bear and the Nightingale is one of my favorite books so of course, I was beyond excited to reread The Girl in the Tower. If Bear and the Nightingale is a breathtaking fairy tale, than The Girl in the Tower is an epic adventure. 

The Girl in the Tower picks up right where The Bear and the Nightingale ended. Vasya needs to make a choice: go to the convent or marry. But for Vasya, she chooses a third option: travel the world with Solovey. But it’s hard to travel as an unmarried female, so Vasya travels disguised as a boy. Although Vasya enjoys the freedom, she is still grieving the loss of her father. It is hard to travel alone and soon Vasya runs into people who need her help. Unable to do anything but help others in need, Vasya is once again put back into society. 

Vasya then crosses paths with her older brother Sasha, who had become a monk and her sister Olga, who has married a prince and has a family of her own. Meeting her siblings unexpectedly forces Vasya to keep up the disguise of being a boy. This creates some tension for Vasya and her older siblings who have also not seen her in over 10 years.

Most of this story takes place in Moscow and it is very much different from the life Vasya is used to in the wilderness of Northern Russia. The kind creatures she has been so used to are powerless in the more modern world of Moscow. Vaysa has yet to find out what her disguise means for her siblings and their lives in Moscow. Betrayal is coming and Vasya will soon discover the city is not at all as it seems.

“I did not know I was lonely, she thought, until I was no longer alone.”

Once again I found myself really connected to the story because of three things: the characters arcs, the setting and the overall themes of the story.

This series has some of the best characters, I’ve ever read.  While Bear and the Nightingale had Vasya growing physically, Girl in the Tower has Vasya growing emotionally. I think her growth as a character really shined in this sequel. We see Vasya struggle with her loneliness, her family and a new city. She discovers her lies and half-truths have real consequences to her, her family and for Moscow.

But it’s not just Vasya, Katherine Arden is able to create a beautiful world filled with some of the most interesting characters. Not a single character is wasted in terms of development. We get more frost demon, Morozko!! With his much bigger role, Morozko was able to give us great balance to Vasya’s wildfire spirit. We learn more about him and his motives for always coming to Vasya’s aid. 

“Every time you take one path, you must live with the memory of the other: of a life left unchosen.”

It’s been two months since I read this last, and I already want to read it again. The setting for this sequel has changed a little, with us being in Moscow. But it’s still just as atmospheric. You feel how old and new Moscow is to Vasya. Rich and descriptive, you will think you are actually transported into the world Katherine Arden has created.

“Do you think that is all I want, in all my life— a royal dowry, and a man to force his children into me”

The Themes!!! Vasya is the biggest feminist, ahead of her time.  She has never tried to follow social norms and her clear want for freedom is so prevalent in Girl in the Tower. This whole series is about a girl who refuses to conform to gender roles and just wants to travel. I mean what an icon. She knew traveling would be hard for a women, so she disguises herself as a boy. She risked her life to save other girls who had been kidnapped. Vasilisa Petrovna’s entire character is wrapped around this theme of gender roles and social norms. It’s what makes her a great protagonist. She’s independent, strong-willed. She’s not afraid to fail and she does fail a lot in this book. She knows the risks of being unwed, but it’s worth it to her to find her own happiness.

“A woman married. Or she became a nun. Or she died. That was what being a women meant. What then, was she?”

Her step-mother acted as a foil for Vasya’s attitude towards magic and tradition. But in this sequel, it’s her sister who acts as the foil. The opposites of having a family vs wanting to be free. While Olga misses some of her freedoms, she does understand her sense of duty to her family and her role as a woman. Whereas, Vasya clearly wants to be free of the burdens of being married. I absolutely love the way Arden uniquely, creates tension between the sisters centered on this plot device. Honestly, I could talk about Vasya until I’m blue in the face.

This series, this book, these characters mean everything to me. If there’s one series I wish I could reread over again for the first time, it’s this one. Do yourself some self-care and pick up this book. Come fall in love with a frost demon, a talking horse, and a girl who just wants freedom.

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Movie Reviews: Robin Hood, Burn the Stage: the movie, Fantastic Beasts: TCOG

Hi Friends! I did a thing! I’m no longer allthebooksandpineapple. NOW I’m just BooksandPineapple. YAY 🙂 It’s not a big change. But I wanted it easier for people to find things. 

I hope everyone is having a fantastical Monday! This past week has been so busy, with Thanksgiving, my sister’s birthday and working all the days. One thing I did do in the past week is see 4 movies. Which might be a lot for some people, but I’m way behind on my movie list and it’s about to be Award season so I need to get it together. I thought it would be cool to give a quick review on all the movies I saw this week. Note: I saw Burn the Stage twice hahaha. So it’s really three different films, but 4 movies. These reviews will be pretty non-spoilerly, just my final thoughts.

 

Burn the Stage: the Movie

Image result for burn the stage movie

I fell down the BTS hole and I’m perfectly fine living down here. I absolutely love BTS. I legit bought tickets for all three showings playing in my area. Alas, I couldn’t find coverage for my Saturday shift, so I only saw them twice. I cried,  I laughed, I sang along. I just really appreciate this group of guys. My friends think it’s hilarious how obsessed I am with them, but I’m living my best life honestly.

If you don’t know who they are, BTS is a KPop boy group that is taking over the world, and I’m not mad about it. Their music is so inspiring and wonderful. They promote self-care and love. Seriously, do yourself a favor a watch the speech they gave at the United Nations. Here.  *cries forever* I can’t believe these guys are in their 20s. Out here speaking like old men. So inspiring, I’m proud to be a fan of them. Seriously 10/10 would recommend listening to Love Yourself: Answer. 

100/10

PS if you love BTS we should be friends. 

 

Robin Hood

Robin Hood

 

I love Taron Egerton like a lot. Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) is one of my favorite movies of 2014. Robin Hood is also one of my favorite stories. The Disney movie is cute, I adore Robin Hood: Men in Tights, the BBC show was great. I was always fascinated by Robin Hood and his story. Yeah, the history has been distorted throughout time, but oh well. I thought this movie was awesome. Yeah, it had some flaws, but I think Taron and Jamie were a great Robin and John.

A fresh new look on an old story that everyone knows. Darker, and an updated story made this very entertaining.  I thought the way they handled the corruption and greed was fantastic. I watched a lot of videos showcasing Taron’s archery training and it was so stunning to watch in the film. Yeah, some CGI made me laugh and I didn’t understand the costumes compared to the time period, but overall, I enjoyed the movie. I’d go see this again.

8/10 

 

 

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of GrindelwaldImage result for fantastic beasts the crimes of grindelwald

I literally saved this one for last, because I’m still SALTY. Listen, I love Harry Potter. I have since I was a 8 years old. I’ve mentioned before that Harry Potter is my childhood. So yeah I was excited for these prequels when they were first announced. I thought Fantastic Beasts and where to find them was enjoyable.  Newt Scamander is an adorable dude who just wants to meet all the creatures. No, I didn’t like the ending. I don’t like Johnny Depp and I don’t understand for the life of me how you can go from Colin Farrell to Johnny Depp. Explain????

No, I don’t think Johnny Depp should have been Grindelwald. I didn’t like the justifications WB and JKR were trying to give us on why they kept him. But whatever, I was going to see it because it’s Harry Potter. So I saw it, with my best friend who also adores Harry Potter.  

TRASH! ABSOLUTE GARBAGE. What is Canon? Not this movie. I won’t spoiler this because some people actually really love this movie. But for me, it made me mad. There are already 7 books and 8 freaking movies. It is not hard to follow canon, it really isn’t. I’d excuse the prequels for wanting to try new stories if they didn’t try to do many surprises. The whole movie was trying so hard to make you go “Aha! I knew something was off” I didn’t, I was stressed. The movie didn’t even end and my friend and I already had our phones out trying to find the canon.

Yes, Crimes of Grindelwald had pretty cinematography, but I can’t ignore its blatant disregard for already established timelines. There was no wonder, not many fantastic beasts, too many people who I’m now supposed to know who they are and should care about. Crimes of Grindelwald was just a flashy 2-hour movie trying to justify JKR saying Dumbledore and Grindelwald were romantically involved. Seriously, get your shit together. I can’t believe there’s going to be like 5 movies. Sigh. Either give us the Mauraders or stop. This is ridiculous. 

My only hope is that Aquaman makes more money than this just so Amber Heard made more money than Johnny Depp. (I have low expectations for Aquaman, but I’m petty)

3/10

 

Do you see any of the movies above? What did you think of them? I’d love to know? I know there’s way more films I have to see, so this will probably be a new feature on here. AWARD SEASON IS ALMOST UPON US!!!! 

 

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