Thursday, May 30, 2024

Book Review - Finally Fitz by Marisa Kanter



Finally Fitz by Marisa Kanter is about a young woman, Ava “Fitz” Fitzgerald who plots with her childhood best friend, Levi Berkowitz, to win back her girlfriend after a devastating breakup. Fitz has worked hard to try and craft the perfect life she has always wanted. She used her passion for sustainable fashion and upcycling to create a popular Instagram page while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA. When she isn’t focused on her social media account, she spends every free moment with her girlfriend, Dani. This summer Fitz plans on telling Dani that she loves her and that their relationship can last when Fitz returns to Boston to finish out school.

Fitz was accepted into a prestigious summer fashion program at FIT in New York City. She knows this program can give her a boost to build her brand and social following. However, right before classes start, Dani breaks up with Fitz and accuses her of caring more about her growing social media presence than their relationship. Fitz is heartbroken unable to focus and feels blocked creatively.

Fitz is desperate to get back together with Dani, and to prove how much Dani means to her, she is willing to take a break from social media. However, as she puts her plan into action, a chance encounter on the subway has reunited her with her childhood best friend, Levi, who she hasn’t seen since elementary school.

Levi is also going through a heartbreak. After reconnecting, Fitz devises a plan on how they can both get back their partners using social media. They will pretend that they are in a relationship and post photos of their “dates” on social media to make their respective partners jealous. Fitz is confident that she can win back Dani with her fake relationship with Levi. As their fake relationship progresses, Fitz starts to learn that not every plan can go according to their wishes. Is Fitz willing to let go of her idea of picture-perfect to choose what is best for her?

I thought the novel was a fun and relatable read. As a native New Yorker, it was fun reading about the main characters’ different experiences around the city. At times, I found myself annoyed at Fitz. She complained about other people not allowing her in and connecting with others, but then she puts a filter on and keeps others at a distance. Then for some people, she didn’t even give them a chance to be vulnerable and open. For example, she was surprised that her classmates made bets about her but then she kept shooting them down at times when they tried to be friendly or was surprised that they wanted to help her. Another time, Dani, whom Fitz supposedly loves and wants to be in a relationship with, didn’t even know Fitz had a sister in the city.  I found this odd because while you can set boundaries with people, it wasn’t like her relationship with her sister was a sensitive issue. She claimed that she wants a sisterly bond with her sister, but it seemed when she’s at her sister’s apartment, she barely attempted to get to know her. I felt that the author could have spent more time building out their sister bond. I thought the book was a cute read and I would be open to reading more books by the author.

**Disclosure - I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion** 



Saturday, 04.20.24 and Sunday, 04.21.24
Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (Los Angeles, CA)


Tuesday, 04.23.24 at 7:00pm PT
The Ripped Bodice (Culver City, CA)

In conversation with Amy Spalding

Friday, 04.26.24 at 7:00pm ET
The Ripped Bodice (Brooklyn, NY)

In conversation with Kelsey Rodkey

Monday, 04.29.24 at 7:00pm ET
Porter Square Books (Cambridge, MA)

In conversation with Jenny L. Howe


Wednesday, 06.05.24 at 7:00pm PT
Barnes & Noble at The Grove (Los Angeles, CA) 
In conversation with Rachel Lynn Solomon and Morgan Matson




Sunday, May 26, 2024

Book Review - The One That Got Away with Murder by Trish Lundy



The One That Got Away with Murder by Trish Lundy is about two brothers who are accused of murdering their respective girlfriends. Robbie and Trevor Cresmont are rich, handsome, and privileged. Girls usually throw themselves at them but, the community at Happy Valley is weary of the brothers. They believe because of the Cresmont’s wealth and privilege that they could get away with anything, including murder.

Both brothers were dating girls who ended up dead, respectively. Robbie’s ex, Victoria Moreno, mysteriously drowned at the Cresmont’s lake house. Victoria was a proficient swimmer so; it was very suspicious that she drowned and no one else was there but Robbie. A year later, Trevor’s girlfriend died of a suspicious overdose. The brothers were never found guilty of any wrongdoing in both cases, but most people believe it’s because of their wealth that they were able to coast under the radar.

The Cresmont brothers are not the only ones with a secret. Lauren O’Brian is the new girl at school. She recently transferred during her senior year after a recent scandal. Lauren is desperate for a new start and to forget her dark past. She was excited to start a no-strings-attached relationship with Robbie until she heard the rumors about him and his brother. She decides to have one last fling before school starts and joins the brothers at their lake house for a holiday weekend. It was meant to be their last weekend together before Lauren broke up with Robbie, but it turns out to be more than she bargains for when she discovers evidence that can implicate Robbie. With her discovery, Lauren is unsure who she can trust, and things start getting more dangerous when a third dead body is discovered.

I thought the book was an interesting read. I was able to narrow down the list of suspects to a few and was able to correctly guess the murderer in the end. I was surprised by their motive though and still didn’t quite understand why they did it. The book was told from Lauren’s point of view, but I wish we did get to learn more about the killer. The book is a quick, predictable, and fast-paced read. It did have a few unlikeable characters but overall, the book was an entertaining read.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Book Review - Kill Her Twice by Stacey Lee


Kill Her Twice by Stacey Lee is about a young woman, Lulu Wong, who was found dead, and her friends who try to solve her murder. In Los Angeles in 1932, Lulu was a star of the silver screen. She was well known for taking on the villain roles. She was the pride of Chinatown, especially to the Chow sisters - May, Gemma, and Peony, who work as flower sellers in Chinatown. May and Lulu were close friends and were in the same class during school. When May and Gemma were preparing their flowers for sale in an abandoned and out-of-the-way stable, they discovered a dead body. They were heartbroken to learn that it was their beloved friend.

The sisters suspect that Lulu’s death was no accident since she was found so far away from her Beverly Hills home. They try to help the police, but it seems that the police are more motivated to pin the crime on anyone and not fully investigate. When a close childhood friend is found guilty of Lulu’s murder, the sisters fear that someone is covering up the crime. Their neighborhood is slated to be demolished to make room for the new railway station, Union Station. They feel that someone powerful is using Lulu’s death as a means to prove that Chinatown is filled with crime and sin.

The Wong sisters determine that they should take matters into their own hands if they want justice for Lulu’s death. They hope that if they can find the true killer, they can save their beloved neighborhood from being destroyed as well. As the girls try to follow leads they discover, they realize someone is willing to stop at nothing to keep Lulu’s death a secret.

The novel was an okay read. I found it to move very slowly at times with nothing happening for pages on end. The book had a lot of details that, at times, were hard to track. The book was told from alternating points of view of Gemma and May. A few times, I even forgot who was narrating as the characters felt very one-dimensional and bland. I didn’t feel connected to the characters. I sometimes forgot they had a third sister, Peony, as she was barely involved in the investigation. I did like the historical details and thought they were interesting to learn. I would be open to reading more books by the author, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to read them.


Monday, May 6, 2024

Book Review - Lola by Melissa Love

Lola by Melissa Love is about a young woman, Lola, finding her voice and leading her gang. The Crenshaw Six is a small but mighty gang in South Central LA. They have mostly kept to themselves but after a recent incident, they were dragged into a conflict with rival drug cartels. 

Most everyone believes that the gang is led by a man named Garcia. However, the gang knows who the real boss is. Lola, Garcia’s girlfriend, is the true gang’s leader and mastermind. She has a brilliant mind and plays the role of a submissive girlfriend, causing people to underestimate her. However, when her gang gets pulled into a war with another, Lola will need to step up if she wants to make sure her gang survives the fallout.

I was very excited to read about a woman leading a gang but found the book to be an okay read. Lola tries to come off as smarter than her peers but at times, she makes the dumbest mistakes. It was interesting at times to see how she handled the role of being a sister to one of the gang members and the girlfriend to another. I felt Lola wanted to be the face of the gang but then she kept pulling back. I wanted to see more examples of why she was the fearsome leader of the gang. 

I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters because they didn’t seem very well developed. The writing style took a bit to get into as it was repetitive and slow moving. Some parts of the book seemed far-fetched and unrealistic. For example, the little girl, Lucy, who Lola “adopts”, doesn’t know basic things like playing with dolls and basic self care or things a child her age should know, but is able to spot where the drugs are hidden. While Lucy's biological mother was an addict, does that make a toddler more able to find hidden drugs that even an adult couldn’t locate? I do get that the author was trying to hint that because Lucy had negligent parents allowed her to see things others didn’t but, I don’t know if it would be to the same extent as the novel described.  The book is the beginning of a series but the book didn’t hold my interest enough to continue reading the rest of the series.

Friday, May 3, 2024

Book Review - The Selkie's Daughter by Linda Crotta Brennan

The Selkie's Daughter by Linda Crotta Brennan is about a young girl named Brigit who tries to come to terms with being both human and a selkie. Brigit has heard of all the old tales about selkies, sea goddesses, and other magical creatures that are not quite human. She should feel proud that she is the daughter of a selkie but she knows it’s a secret she has to keep from everyone. Her aunt, Alys, cuts the webbing between her fingers to help the truth from coming out and to keep Brigit safe from other people.

As Brigit and her family try to keep her secret, a villager has been hurting baby seals and selling their fur. When the Great Selkie hears of this, he brings his wrath to the village.  Brigit decides to travel to Sule Skerrie, the land of selkies, to confront the Great Selkie about the truth. Brigit feels that only the guilt party should be punished and not everyone in the village.

I thought the book was an interesting read. It was a quick and straightforward read with not many twists or turns. I do wish it had a bit more humor to the story as it was quite grim and serious for a young protagonist. I felt I would have enjoyed the book more if it had lighter moments. I did enjoy reading about the lore about the selkie and the Sule Skerrie. The author included a snippet of selkie lore at the beginning of each chapter but I wish it was made like a fun fact about selkies. Instead it was a poem. I would have preferred it to be more story-based, like a snippet of a folklore, song, or myths. The book was a fun read overall and I would be open to reading more books by the author.