katiemack's reviews
865 reviews

Just Right Jillian, by Nicole D. Collier

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emotional informative inspiring medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

Book Riot Read Harder 2022: Pick a challenge from any of the previous years’ challenges to repeat! (Read a middle-grade novel.)

I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Although there are some unrealistic details, overall this book is genuine, heartfelt, and inspiring. I love the scientific descriptions of what happens when an egg develops into a chick (looking forward to that TK photo), and the classroom (and family) dynamics are sweet. This will resonate with readers in grades 3-5. 

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Mrs. Martin's Incomparable Adventure, by Courtney Milan

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funny inspiring fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

Book Riot Read Harder 2022: Read a romance where at least one of the protagonists is over 40. 

This is totally fine. I like how abjectly terrible the Terrible Nephew is; even though Bertrice and Violetta's antics are extreme, their playfulness makes it a little more enjoyable. The romance is flat--I expected more passion/development--but it's cute nonetheless.
Shady Hollow, by Juneau Black

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adventurous lighthearted mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? N/A
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.75

I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This started off pretty slow and disjointed, but once Vera starts to investigate the story flows much better--it's easier to learn the names of the residents of the town. I was skeptical of the animal premise, but ultimately it's quite charming. 

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Modern Lovers, by Emma Straub

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lighthearted reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

2.0

This is...okay. It has the occasional funny moment, but it's boring. The characters and plot feel stereotypical and are terrible without being interesting. Eighteen-year-old Ruby is the most intriguing, but she still made me roll my eyes. 

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Loveboat Reunion, by Abigail Hing Wen

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lighthearted fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5

 I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I kind of missed the cultural elements and over-the-top drama of the first book, but it was nice to see some of the characters mature and find themselves--the ending was fairly satisfying. I think a lot of YA readers will relate to this too. 
The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett

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emotional hopeful inspiring medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

Well, I thought I would have something more insightful to say after my book club met, but...I just really like this book! Bennett has created fully realized characters who are flawed in unique ways and don't fall into stereotypes. I found myself wanting to read more about all of them after the book ended. 

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Salaam, with Love, by Sara Sharaf Beg

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emotional inspiring lighthearted medium-paced

3.0

I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The #ownvoices rep is strong in this one. As far as halal romance goes, this book does a decent job illustrating that and the positive aspects of Islam (though it got a little preachy at times). The ending is very cute too. Overall, it's great that this book was written and will be widely circulated so more YA readers will see themselves in mainstream literature--I'm a huge proponent of that.

Unfortunately, it was tough to enjoy the story because the writing feels clunky and overly explanatory. I also read parts out loud to my husband (who is Pakistani) because sometimes it sounds like a South Asian drama. (I love watching those dramas, but it doesn't translate well to the written word.) There were also some strange inconsistencies and errors that will hopefully be resolves when the book is published.

I was conflicted with what to rate this because, again, just the fact that this was written is excellent; however, the writing could use some polish. 

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Vladimir Putin, by Darryl Cunningham

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informative medium-paced

4.0

I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Though occasionally dry, this graphic history of Putin's rise to power is a quick read with easily digestible (and blistering) facts about the Russian ruler. Cunningham's art style is minimalist in its depiction of landscapes yet detailed when illustrating the people within the story--especially their facial expressions 

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To Paradise, by Hanya Yanagihara

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challenging dark reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.25

I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was prepared to be as emotionally devastated as I was by A Little Life, but I was relieved that this time I wasn't crying while reading this in public. To be clear, that doesn't mean this book isn't affecting--its dystopian themes and allusions to the COVID pandemic will bring up some intense emotions for today's readers--but it is not relentless.

By writing three novels smashed into one, all of which recycle and connect names, relationships, and character attributes, Hanya Yanagihara demonstrates her superb writing prowess. The first, which takes place at the end of the nineteenth century, grabbed my attention from the beginning with an exciting sense of alternative history within the traditional fin de siècle storyline. There's a sense of romantic drama that really resonated with me, a messy human who devours romance novels whenever she can. The second didn't work quite as well. The storyline of David living during the AIDS crisis drew me in, but the more ethereal epistolary part really took me out of the story. The third is by far the most ambitious and strongest of the novels-within-the-novel. By taking place in the 2040s-2090s, Yanagihara portrays a dystopian future that feels more realistic given our current circumstances and, therefore, makes the plot all the more terrifying.

I won't give more away; suffice it to say, this is worth the time commitment should you choose to read it 

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I'm So (Not) Over You, by Kosoko Jackson

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funny lighthearted reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

 I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Yay; a black queer romance! Wonderful representation here--in the end I really did appreciate Hudson and Kian's relationship, and some of the one-liners and pop culture references are hilarious. I also enjoyed the nuanced depiction of intersectional issues of race and class that Jackson outlines here.

What didn't work for me, unfortunately, was the story itself.
SpoilerThere were many aspects of the story, of Kian and Hudson's relationship, of the way Hudson's family reacted that were not fleshed out or didn't make much sense. The most frustrating aspect is that we never get much information about Kian and Hudson's relationship before the start of the book, nor do we get an explanation for why they broke up. There's also not a clear reason why they would want to get back together. Olivia's reactions completely baffled me--I had no idea why she went from accepting Kian to raging against him to asking him to be with Hudson again.


The book is unique and important from a representation standpoint--as I mentioned, it did bring me joy--but overall the plotting could be better. 

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