Review: Act Your Age, Eve Brown

Review: Act Your Age, Eve Brown

Rating: 5 out of 5.

*I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

No matter what Eve Brown does, it always ends up a mess. So, she gives up. But her parents won’t let her go down that easy. Eve has to grow up, even if she doesn’t know how. Jacob Wayne expects nothing but perfection so when Eve turns up out of the blue, his answer is a hard no. And she’s out of sight, out of mind, until she accidentally hits him with his car. With a broken arm and no chef, Eve is now making a home in his B&B, and Jacob should hate it. But her sunny disposition is infectious, and she’s breaking down walls he’s spent so long to keep up. 

I’ll admit, I had high hopes for the finale in the Brown sister’s hectic lives, but Eve was the sister I wasn’t too sure on, even two books later. I feel like in the previous novels, Eve was the sister I could never quite understand. But Act Your Age, Eve Brown was so much better than I ever I could’ve ever expected. I think it might be my favourite of the trilogy. (Sorry, Zaf.) She’s hilarious and her quips were charming, but she really makes her own here. I was surprised to find myself relating to Eve more than her sisters. Her feelings of feeling lost and helpless despite trying her best to only fail again resonated with me the most. 

You could describe Eve and Jacob as Sunshine meets Grumpy, which is a pairing I would die for. Jacob is also autistic, I can’t speak for the representation, but Talia writes him well. These two compliment each other so well. Eve is chaotic, a human whirlwind that has Jacob frustrated. But he soon realises her work ethic is exactly what he needs. And her cooking skills for the upcoming Pemberton Food Festival. Their transition from enemies to friends to lovers is very wholesome. Jacob and Eve don’t realise it, but they fall for each other and suddenly every quirk becomes endearing. It was quite cute reading the moments before they themselves realise it. Also, if you’re into steamy scenes, Hibbert most likely won’t disappoint any old or new fans. Personally, I’m not into reading them, but that doesn’t change the fact that Hibbert is a tremendous writer. 

All in all, this was a fantastic end to the Brown sisters and their hilarious romantic and personal journeys. What a delightful end! I am truly now, through and through, a Talia Hibbert fan.


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Review: Make Up Break Up

Review: Make Up Break Up

Rating: 1 out of 5.

*I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

Annika Dev has high hopes for her app, Make Up. Born out of her passion and personal history, Make Up will be a revolutionary tool to mend relationships. But as struggles to raise her app from the ground up, Break Up, helmed by Hudson Craft, is rising in downloads, breaking up relationships faster than ever before. Annika thought she could ignore her summer fling with Hudson, but when his business moves next door, the two find themselves pitted against each other in a meaningful investment contest. 

I know this will sound really mean, but I can’t believe I wasted my time reading this. Like, I am trying so hard to think of something to say that isn’t so harsh, but Make Up Break Up was not good. The book lacks tension, the writing dragged, and the characters were truly so miserable to read that I genuinely could not understand what they see in each other.

The story did not work for me at all. It begins with Hudson and Co. moving in next door to Annika’s office. They’re popping champagne while Make Up is struggling to stay afloat. Annika soon realises that Hudson aims to win the same investment competition she needs to keep the place afloat. And then it becomes a cat and mouse chase between Annika and Hudson on who can be the most annoying person ever. They act so pettily and messy between themselves; you would think they were some teenagers and not adults. Like hiring a mariachi band to disrupt the other’s party or taking the charger out of a laptop before a major presentation? The stakes were nothing to feel invested about. The plot pretty much drags itself through Annika and Hudson just being assholes to each other. They’re both very self-centered, but Annika takes the cake because at least Hudson tries to be more sociable. He’s still rude in my view, nothing he does redeems him, but his place as a love interest was so two dimensional. He’s pretty, and he’s got a good body. His personality was to be blatantly in love with Annika while she rants about him for a good chunk of the book. 

Much of Annika’s anger comes from believing that Hudson had stolen her idea and was now profiting off the anti-dating app. She spends much of this book with this high and mighty attitude that Hudson is a creep and that his app is terrible. And she’s not wrong. Break Up is essentially pay-to-break up service where people are hired to break up on behalf of a person. There’s an interactive element where random people just dump terrible new on another, and it’s passed off as quirky. That alone just put me off Hudson as a romantic lead because how uncomfortable that app made me. And, strangely, Annika is the only person to mention how terrible the concept is. But then she thinks she had this moral high ground because her app fixes relationships, but there’s a problem with her app: she never considers whether a relationship is worth pursuing. That not every relationship needs fixing. You would think that would be discussed within the development team. Her own reasoning didn’t do much either, and it felt more like pieces of a draft that hadn’t quite finished developing. This is where you could think they could work together to create an app that takes both concepts into account, but the book’s actual ending was just so much more disappointing. There was a demi-decent discussion about women in tech and the boundaries they faced, but it’s all weak. Annika is too inconsistent in what she wants to say, so Menon’s actual message falls through. 

To summarise, Make Up Break Up is not the romantic story it thinks it is. The plot was weak, the characters were unmemorable, and its whole execution was quite muddy. There were so many points where the book could’ve turned itself around, but it felt like it was doomed from the start.


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Review: My So-Called Bollywood Life

Review: My So-Called Bollywood Life

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

*I received a copy via the publisher in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

Winnie Mehta dreams of getting her Bollywood forever after. For her, everything was perfect. Her life was going according to the words of her family pandit, who swore Winnie would find the love of her life, whose name starts with R, before her 18th birthday. And suddenly, everything is going wrong. Her boyfriend Raj had cheated on her. She’s lost her chair position in the film festival, lowering her chances of getting into film school. Winnie decides to look her prophecy differently, begins taking control of her destiny, in any way possible.

It’s always disappointing not to like a book that you really wanted to enjoy.

Continue reading “Review: My So-Called Bollywood Life”

Review: Internment

Review: Internment

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

*I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

Set in a horrifying future, where the United States has forced all Muslim American citizens into an internment camp, seventeen-year-old Layla must find help inside and out to lead a revolution against the camp’s cruel director.

I engulfed this book. Really. I started reading at 11 pm and didn’t put my phone down until I checked the time when I was done, and it was 2 am. Internment is timely to our ongoing xenophobic climate where a Muslim ban like the one in this book isn’t as fictional as people would think. Muslims are rounded up, their books are burnt, and their bodies are coded. Layla and her family are swiftly rounded up in California, but she refuses to let herself be hidden away like this. She begins to lash out but quickly learns that resistance is death in the eyes of the camp director.

I loved Layla so much. Despite her fears, she carries on, even though she has no idea what she’s doing and everything she does know can come crashing down in seconds if the Director discovers her plans.

Internment focuses on the younger generation, and how they all band together to fight the injustice, they’re experiencing. Layla quickly makes friends, and they all work together to bring attention to their situation and put an end to the unfair treatment within the camps and bring an end to them. Their friendships are one of the book’s main strength. Even when they’re divided into the camp, with the Director doing the most to make them turn on each other, they rise together to uplift everyone’s voices.

The book shines the most when it brings awareness of how this has happened before, and how turning away from history can only bring devastating actions. Layla recalls her history lessons of WWII and Japanese internment and shows how easy oppressive entities can enact destructive acts on marginalised communities.

I’m not sure how to put this into words, but it felt somewhat incomplete? Like the world felt lacking. All we know is that a full-on Muslim ban has been enacted where they must be home by a particular time, they are unable to work, and even Layla’s father’s literature was being burned at book burnings. It was all too frightening to read knowing easily true this can come. The book is marketed as a “fifteen minutes into the future” so I assume our current knowledge is supposed to fill the gaps, but I wished there was more to it. I hoped there was more detail to certain things like the camp and motivation behind secondary characters. There are certain characters who I don’t think they get the right amount of time to understand them. And because of this, certain aspects do come across as comical.

Overall, despite my own personal shortcomings with this book, I still found it gripping and authentic. Can I say how much Ahmed has improved from her debut? She’s definitely an author to watch everyone! A gripping narrative about the internment of Muslims and Layla’s journey to understanding and combating xenophobia and racism. A brilliant book for younger readers and I definitely recommended reading this book.


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Review: Proud

Review: Proud

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

*I received an advance e-copy from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

Proud is an upcoming anthology of stories and poetry by LGBTQ+ YA authors, each piece reflecting the theme of Pride. Proud is such a fun anthology. It was a pure joy to read some of these pieces.

Some stories are utterly hilarious with Green’s Penguins were his own coming out to his parents is interrupted by penguins. Somewhere deeply saddening which follow the narrator as they navigate grief. All the chosen pieces are equally powerful and personal.

Each piece could easily be expanded by their authors if they wanted to. However, my fantasy-biased self obviously loved Cynthia So’s The Phoenix’s Fault the most. The short F/F story where a Chinese lantern maker has to choose between what her heart desires and what is expected of her. It reminded me a lot of Girls of Paper and Fire. Almost Certain comes close which follows a music loving teen who struggles to come out to her family while navigating her impending adulthood. I like reading books set in Brighton, where I’m from.

A broad and heart-warming collection of stories poems about identity and pride. Each piece was refreshing and different. I really love how each writer had interpreted the theme in their own unique way, and the range that is in this book is rather brilliant and fun to read. The accompanying art does not go unnoticed, and they work so well with their matching piece.


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Review: Enchantée

Review: Enchantée

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)
 * I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her sick sister while escaping the clutches of an abusive brother. Relying on her limited knowledge of magic, she transforms herself into a baroness and begins to gamble at Versailles. Quickly, she hones her skills but magic has a cost and soon she discovers leaving Versailles is much harder than it looks. 

What I loved the most about this book was how vividly Trelease painted Paris in the 18th century. As Camille transforms, she comes to face the rich who she has despised her entire life. The rich who live in luxury while families like Camille’s waste away. The world building shines through, 18th century Paris with a tinge of magic in its streets: its street fashion, printing system, hot air ballooning, and games. 

Camille is a determined and headstrong lead, driven by her situation to make a better life for herself and her sister. I really like her as a lead. She tends to get the better of herself and assumes she knows best for her sister, who rightfully calls her out on it. A terrific sibling dynamic between them. 

There are the beginnings of a good discussion with the male love interest who is biracial. (Indian and French) Both India and France see him as an outsider, and there’s a moment where she discusses his identity and how he struggles to find his place. I just wish this was considered more, he was basically a ghost for a good portion of the book.

I did struggle with the length of this book. There’s a lot of moments where you’re just going through it, part build-up as we watch Camille learn the ways of the court, part was just me as reading getting partially bored in some moments. You’re left waiting for something to happen, but it felt like it takes way too long for the actual plot to move on from Camille being introduced into the court. But once it picks up, it gets a lot more exciting, and I really enjoyed it in the end. 

Overall,  There’s a lot of small tidbits that stuck to me and mixed with the writing and plot and the way the author used real historical events that worked with the plot, it was really great. A lot will be put off by its length, but the world was something else and enjoyable to explore. I actually enjoyed this much more than I had expected.


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Content warning: abuse (physical, emotional, verbal), gambling addiction, alcoholism.