Review: Counting Down with You

Review: Counting Down with You

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

Karina Ahmed’s plan for success means keeping her head down and getting to medical school. So when her parents go abroad to Bangladesh, she is finally rewarded a month of peace, away from their watchful eyes. That is until her agreement to tutor Ace Clyde turns awry, and now she’s spending her twenty-eight days in a fake-relationship with him. As she counts down her days, Ace Clyde gives her all the reasons to stay and maybe this facade could have a happy ending. 

Karina is a high school junior, attending alongside her high-achieving younger brother whose interest in robotics has her parents singing praise while she’s barely keeping afloat. And when her English teacher asks her to tutor ever absent classmate Ace Clyde, she immediately assumes the worst. Aft. They start, and a missed lesson, Ace finally shows up, and he knows exactly how to push Karina’s buttons, tip-toeing over the lines she has made herself. Knowing exactly how her parents would react, she keeps Ace at an arm’s distance until she realises Ace has secrets of his own which is why she agrees to his plans. Keep up this act for three more weeks, and they part ways as unlikely friends. (and for Karina, a handful of books, courtesy of the Bank of Ace Clyde.) As the return of her parents looms overhead, Karina realises that these past days are the happiest she has ever been, and with the support of her grandmother, her best friends, and Ace, maybe she can gather the courage to face her family once and for all.

Counting Down with You is a refreshing and hilarious read. I’m not big on contemporary novels, but I found Bhuiyan’s voice to be outstanding. If anything, I am blown away at how much I could relate to Karina Ahmed. Like Karina, my family had also left Bangladesh in search of a different life. Her traditional parents’ ideals and expectations are all too familiar; their harsh words and criticism almost mirrored my own family, almost word-for-word. Karina’s humour to her anxiety felt all too surreal to read this book and realise the main character is an almost exact copy of yourself at sixteen.

The cast of Counting Down with You are some of the biggest sweethearts you’ll ever meet. Ace Clyde is one of the school’s notorious students, rumours upon rumours piles upon him. His character reminds me of Aiden Thomas’s Julian Diaz (Cemetery Boys). Very understanding and wholesome once you get to know him. Karina’s best friends, Cora and Nandini, are as thick as thieves and supportive as hell. They might not understand her refusal to stand up to her parents, but they’re there for her, no questions asked. It was quite refreshing to see them talk and act like teens; their text conversations were hilarious and realistic. While her parents are away, Karina’s grandmother takes care of her and her younger brother. Her grandmother is pretty much amazing and supportive. Her brother is the best example of a desi little brother who doesn’t realise how easy he has it compared to his sister. Whenever he said something wasn’t deep, I wanted to flick him like he was my own brother. Bhuiyan encapsulates the experience of growing up with traditional parents perfectly. Her parents’ aren’t physically present in most of the novel, but their presence is there in most of Karina’s thoughts, dragging her down both mentally and physically.

Counting Down with You was extremely sweet and immensely relatable. I’m not the type to throw around the phrase  “I wish this book existed when I was teen”, but I feel like if this book had existed when I was a teenager and struggling, I would have felt a lot better about myself at sixteen.


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Review: Act Your Age, Eve Brown

Review: Act Your Age, Eve Brown

Rating: 5 out of 5.

*I received a copy via the publisher and 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: Take a Hint, Dani Brown

Review: Take a Hint, Dani Brown

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dani Brown is a workaholic, on the road to her PhD and nothing can stop her. Even romance is on the backburner, a great distraction from her greater cause. But when she wishes for a friends-with-benefits arrangement, she doesn’t expect it to come in the form of grumpy Zafir Ansari. Seven years prior, Zafir gave up on his rugby career after the death of his brother and father. Now, he works security while building his non-profit organisation to help destigmatize mental illness to young athletes. After a social media mishap which makes the duo go viral, he enlists the help of Dani to maintain a fake-relationship to gain exposure for his work. 

After reading Chloe’s story with Red, I definitely had high expectations for Dani because she was my favourite sibling. And Take a Hint absolutely smashed them! I definitely enjoyed Danika’s story more than Chloes. No hate to Chloe, I just saw myself more into Dani’s characters, and plus – Zafir is the dream man. (Sorry, Red.)

Like Hibbert’s previous novel, Take a Hint is fun and outrageous. Dani and Zafir are pretty hilarious before they even get together and in their fake relationship, they are chaotic and bring the best out of each other. Zafir has already fallen for Dani, but he’s trying his best not to fall too deep for their inevitable break-up. Dani isn’t sure of what she wants, but she tries to not think too deeply into their plan. Throughout this story, I couldn’t stop laughing at their banter. Fake-dating (like enemies to lovers in Get A Life) is another trope I always never knew where I stood with. But Hibbert does it again, convincing me that this is a trope I can get behind.  The awkwardness of them finding their footing, the angst, the romance. 

My favourite character had to be Zafir. He was so sweet and charming. And his arc really hit the hardest. He suffers from anxiety and depression after losing his brother and father to a car accident. And when the video of them goes viral, his biggest fear is someone bringing up the past and isn’t ready for that attention. Hibbert does a phenomenal job of addressing his feelings and emotions with grace. 

Overall, I really enjoyed Take a Hint, Dani Brown! I’m super excited to read the finale of the Brown sister where we get to see Eve’s story. What Hibbert does best is her cast of characters. We see old favourites like Chloe and Red, but we are also introduced to some pretty great new people. I loved Zafir’s family and Dani’s best friend. Hibbert knows how to get you to feel for even the smallest of characters. Talia Hibbert is slowly creeping into my auto-buy authors, and this is only the second book of hers I’ve read! 


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Review: Get A Life, Chloe Brown

Review: Get A Life, Chloe Brown

Rating: 4 out of 5.

After a close encounter with a speeding car, Chloe Brown decides she’s had enough. Re-assessing her life, she decides to move out of her family home and creates her Get A Life list. Her bucket list includes enjoying a drunken night out to travelling the world with nothing but hand luggage. But what she doesn’t expect is Redford Morgan, her exasperating superintendent, who might just help her tick a few boxes or shred this whole list up.

As a teenager, I had rashly given up on the contemporary genre, it just never worked out for me, and I had leaned towards the science fiction and fantasy genre instead. But a goal I had made to myself this year was to give it another chance and Get A Life, Chloe Brown was the perfect choice to convert me back to the genre. This book is so much fun. As a teen, I didn’t appreciate novels of everyday life, but now as a twenty-two-year-old adult, stories like Get A Life, Chloe Brown is perfect for people wanting some fun but without the full-on high stakes. What made this book fun was its characters, the way they interact with each other. Talia Hibbert writes in a way that felt like I was talking to a friend, it’s easy to read and enjoy. 

Chloe’s close brush with death causes her to rethink her life. She has fibromyalgia, and the constant pain and fatigue have led her to live a life quite isolated after her friends cruelly abandoned her. But her family is here to stay, including her parents, sisters and eccentric aunt. Her moving out is just one step towards her “getting a life.” In comes Redford (Red) Morgan. He’s dismissive, rude, and annoyingly handsome. But Chloe can’t help but be intrigued by the moody man who spends his free time painting as if his life depends on it. 

Enemies-to-lovers is a trope I see-saw a lot with. Some days I can dig it, some days, I’m just not in the mood. But Get a Life was hilarious in its use of the trope. Chloe thinks Red is just a rude superintendent while Red thinks she’s just a snooty rich girl. After a strange mishap that includes a tree and a cat, the two end up finding common ground. Red enlists Chloe’s skills to make a new website, and he agrees to help tick off her list. But as Chloe’s making her plans, Red is ignoring his past. As I was reading this, I was so surprised at myself. Am I gushing over romance scenes, like, what, who is this changed reader? Talia Hibbert deserves an award for being the author who made me a blushing mess over Chloe and Red.

Chloe and Red were both incredibly flawed in a good way because they get through it all and discuss what is wrong and how to fix it. I have to admit the final argument before the resolution was so unnecessary because the two have proven that miscommunication isn’t an issue, so the way it came about was… confusing. But the rest of the book was a damn delight. There are a lot of layers to the story I hadn’t expected. Chloe and her journey of putting her self out there, Red is suffering from a past abusive relationship, and the little drop-ins from Chloe’s sisters were such mood-boosters. They are hilarious and their stories we will see later in the series which makes me so excited to get started on the next book about Dani. To sum up, Get A Life, Chloe Brown was good fun. It had some great moments and characters who are hilarious. It’s a great pick-me-up, and I’ll recommend it to anyone who wants a quick romantic read, especially if you’re into steamier moments.


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Review: The Sun Is Also a Star

Review: The Sun Is Also a Star

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

Natasha has 24 hours to save her family from being deported to Jamaica. Daniel has 12 hours to decide whether he really wants to follow through with his Korean parent’s life plan for him. Moments after moments leads to the two meeting on a crowded New York street and the moments after show how they go on to change each other’s lives.

TSIAAS is one of those books where I’m genuinely in the middle. Like I didn’t enjoy it, but I didn’t absolutely love it. I feel like there’s a bit of switch here for me. In Everything, Everything, I really enjoyed the beginning of the novel but found it’s ending was a bit disappointing but in TSIAAS, I found the beginning rather dull but it quickly picks up and finished quite well.

I’ll start off with the good. And there’s plenty of that in this book. It’s quite a touching read. I was more heavily invested in each character’s side story than their romance. Natasha and her rush to save her family and Daniel’s clash with his love for poetry and his parent’s approval. Natasha is logical while Daniel is a dreamer. It really is beautifully written. There are even inserts of other perspectives who intersect with the main lead, which would’ve been a distraction if I actually enjoyed the romance, but they enhanced the story, in my opinion, and added to the message of how everything impacts everything. Despite Natasha and Daniel being at odds with each other and their immigrant families, they find a connection which allows them to indeed be truthful to themselves.

The immigration aspect of this novel was what shined the most. It covers and explains how flawed the system that can be to those who are the least danger to it. Natasha’s whole life is being torn down because she’s forced to leave because of her father’s mistake.

What really put me off this book for so long was the romance. Of course, it was going to pull off an insta-love plotline when Natasha and Daniel only have twelve hours together. If you’re a reader that enjoys whirlwind and fast-paced romantic stories, then I have the book for you. But I just didn’t buy it. But I did appreciate the ending a lot, and I was actually really pleased with how it ended. Daniel, while a dreamer and sweetheart at his best, is literally quit obsessed with Natasha from the second he sees her. Their meeting and beginning scenes felt very off and borderline creepy.

Overall, there is clear praise for this book, and I can’t deny it of that. I just don’t think it was a strong enough book regarding its romance. But there’s a lot that I can’t deny that was great. TSIAAS discusses race in regards to the American Dream and the impact of parent-child relationships. The way Nicola Yoon jumps into different bystander’s voices without affecting the main plot brilliantly done and how we are all connected in some way or another.


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Review: American Panda

Review: American Panda

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

At seventeen, Mei is a freshman at MIT and on the road to complete her parent’s dreams for her: become a doctor, marry their preapproved suitor and continue their family line with children. Living in fear of being disowned like her older brother, Mei can’t seem to bring herself to tell her family her real dream lies with dance. Now she’s away from home and falling in love and learning the truth that could possibly shatter her future forever.

I’m not going to lie, I was surprised by how much I loved this book. I was genuinely thrown off by how much I ended up liking this. The narrative was so compelling as we watch Mei struggle with her overbearing parents and how cultural differences clash with what she wants to achieve – I really enjoyed the emphasis on the issue not being with cultural differences but how her parents use it to put their happiness over Mei’s. Even though Mei as a character and myself are worlds apart, I found her journey so relatable and it had me in tears at so many moments.

Honestly, Mei’s development was one of the best parts of this entire novel. We watch her try to struggle between being a good daughter while also wanting to follow her dreams and you get caught up very quickly in her emotions. She starts off as a sheltered kid who does her best to keep up with her parent’s expectation to slowly learning that it’s okay to not be the perfect image she’s expected to upkeep. And she slowly learns to get rid of the initial stereotypes she holds over other. Chao does an excellent job of portraying the drama between her and her family, which was so heartbreaking to read. Mei’s mother took a long time to grow on her, but you honestly develop a sense of appreciation for her, especially towards the end of the book and how the very same family issues and cultural values that affect Mei has had an impact on her.

The background characters all have my heart. And I loved how Mei’s personal development with all of them ended so happily. Especially with Darren and Nicolette.

Overall, Chao’s debut novel is a hit for me. It was such an emotional rollercoaster and a profoundly personal read that I recommend to anyone.


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Content warning: ableist language, fat-antagonism, the death of a family member and mentions of suicide. (If you’ve read the book and felt like I’ve missed something out, please tell me!)