RaveThe Nerd Daily... isn’t easily categorised. For me, it turned out to be nothing like I expected and yet held me captive for the entirety of the book. At times, Yerba Buena read like a reluctant memoir, at others almost like an exorcism of ghosts of the past that haunted the characters ... Anyone who’s ever been haunted by their mistakes, their losses or their regrets will surely feel connected to these women ... Ultimately, what drew me to this book was that, as much as it seems to be about star-crossed lovers, it really focused more on trauma and grief ... What I really enjoyed about Yerba Buena was how it showed you how transient everything in life is only to follow it up with something that left a permanent impression you can’t really put into words. LaCour brings this ineffable feeling to every topic discussed in the story ... Its heavy themes are explored in excruciating detail but if you’re up for it, I’m sure you’ll fall in love with this heartbreaking yet rewarding story ... A true slice of life narrative, Nina La Cour’s adult debut Yerba Buena is a story of love and loss, family and friendship, of two women finding their way in the world—and each other. At times brutally honest and at others comforting and intimate, this story is perfect for anyone who has ever been kicked down by life only to get up again.
RaveThe Nerd DailyWhat a premise, right? And with gorgeous writing, a big mystery at its centre, an underdog protagonist and a race against the clock on a high-stakes heist, Book of Night definitely did not come to play. I can already tell that this will make readers both put it on their Best of 2022 list and beg Holly Black for a sequel (because that ending. Whew) ... What I will say is that Book of Night takes quite a while to pick up its pace. At times, I almost felt like reading two different books: the first half dragged and was boggled down with confusing information about the range of shadows and the alterations one can make as well as the backstory of Vince, Charlie, and Posey but by the time the second half arrived, I was so hooked I couldn’t put Charlie’s story down as it all unravelled magnificently with plot twists that left me shook. So you might have to slog your way through the drawn-out set up, but if you manage that, you’re rewarded with one hell of a ride ... combines a world full of danger and magical shadows with an adrenaline-fueled heist and a flawed, memorable underdog of a protagonist that is sure to have readers keeping an eye on their own shadows. Gripping, dark and sinister.
RaveThe Nerd DailyWhat I also loved was how Pellegrino addressed this idea of being happy for someone else getting the opportunities you deserve while also feeling like you failed because of that opportunity being passed on to said person. It’s hard to be happy for others when you’re struggling yourself and yes, it makes you feel really bad about yourself but it’s a valid feeling and we should be more open about that in real life ... Smile and Look Pretty oscillates between POVs of the four friends...and I loved how we got to see the different dynamic of every single one of them ... Every story brings something else into focus and there’s so much to admire about them—from their tenacity to their moral strength and their fierceness, I couldn’t pick a favourite even if I tried ... Ultimately cathartic, Pellegrino’s debut is a hard-hitting exposé of toxic workplaces and the horrors women are faced with on the daily.
RaveThe Nerd DailyWhat an affirming romcom this turned out to be! London and Dahlia proved to be such interesting characters. My favourite romances are those where I’m equally invested in both characters’ separate lives as I am in their romance and Kelly truly delivered ... What I think Kelly did exceptionally well was how they balanced the sweet romance between London and Dahlia with the more hard-hitting topics of gender identity, divorce and bankruptcy. While London has to deal with misgendering, not only from strangers but also from someone in their family (which, by the way, is one of the best-laid subplots I’ve ever read in my life), Dahlia has her own struggles with her past and her being queer that are dealt with with such a tender touch in this novel ... I’m sure readers will have no choice but to devour this novel in one sitting.
PositiveThe Nerd DailyToo Good to Be Real has all the classic rom-com tropes that readers will rejoice over—an awkward yet kind of hilarious meet-cute, hidden identities, swoony kisses in the rain, and lots of puns that lead to happily ever after ... Julia is a charming and snarky protagonist who has been burned by love so often she’s about to give up on it entirely ... though I thought the fact that both of them kept their identities secret for work reasons was a bit flimsy, I really enjoyed the near-misses and gasp moments when you were sure they’d totally blurt out who they really were during every meeting. Their romance developed quickly and they had some cute moments, but I kind of was missing something when it came to the characters on their own—Luke and Julia are both really defined through their work and sometimes, I would have wished for a bit more flavour to their characterisation. This story also reminded me a lot of Sex and the City in the way that I enjoyed the moments between the trio of friends more than the actual romance?! The trio’s conversations and banter was just so immersive ... Despite the somewhat rocky dimensionality of the two protagonists, I enjoyed the banter, the clever back-and-forth of the dialogue and I was so here for all the romcom references—diehard fans will devour this book for sure! I
RaveThe Nerd DailyRetelling the original story with a queer Asian main character is quite the hefty challenge, yet Vo masters it beautifully ... Vo’s prose is lush and extraordinary detailed, and so reminiscent of Fitzgerald’s writing but somehow even more atmospheric and lyrical. Honestly, in the beginning of the book, I felt like I was watching a movie of The Great Gatsby but with the perspective shifted, which is of course the goal here, but it was done so seamlessly that I can only applaud Vo. There’s so much to love about this book: the diversity of reliving such a classic story through the eyes of a Vietnamese woman and the addition of queer characters brings a breath of fresh air. I loved how this characterization gave Vo the opportunity to approach topics breached in the original—the xenophobia, white supremacy, class struggles—with a new set of eyes ... a compelling expose of the Jazz Age—perfect for both lovers of the original story and those who are in need of a great story with fantastic, lyrical writing.
RaveThe Nerd DailyI felt equal parts called out and validated by this book and really, that’s all you need to know to pick it up. If you grew up smack dab in the middle of the height of popular culture—the early 2000s—chances are, you can at least relate to half of the essays in this book ... Perry is blunt and funny in her examination of the early 2000s gay heroes—it’s equally nostalgic and uplifting to reminisce about the gay heroes we created back in the day before casual queerness and actual on-screen representation became more regular ... Though I have my favourites from these essays, the ones that really stuck with me were those that highlighted how much internalised homophobia is a systemic issue ... Beyond the analysis of texts Perry offers, I also really loved the tidbits we got about her own journey because they read so similar to my own—and probably a bunch of other millennials’—experience ... A timely piece of literature that you won’t want to miss out on!
RaveThe Nerd DailyA Special Place for Women was an outrageously entertaining novel. It was a fun ride watching Jillian be sucked into the world of female empowerment and watch as an outsider trying to get into the closed ranks, even after she’s joined the club for real. This novel does not hold any punches and exposes the way people often misuse their power while thinking they’re doing so for the right reasons. This narrative definitely straddled the line between expose and satire and it worked astoundingly well ... What struck me the most was Hankin’s writing style. It has this certain kind of bluntness to it that makes you feel like a serial killer is after you with an axe and you can never tell whether they are going to use the dull or the razor-sharp edge of it to knock you out cold. This might not sound like a charming writing style, but it fit the theme and overall vibe of the book so well ... enticing ... Showing the dark underbelly of the \'women support women\' movement and what it takes to get to the top, A Special Place for Women is an atmospheric, sharp read, perfect for fans of Celeste Ng and Taylor Jenkins Reid.
PositiveThe Nerd DailyThis book was somewhat of a wildcard for me ... The friend dynamics within this story were also absolutely impeccable ... The thing I loved most about this book was the depiction of academic success not always translating in the economy as you expect it to ... refreshing as it was enlightening ... Grace’s sessions with her therapist and the steps she takes to save her relationship with her father were so intriguing that I couldn’t put the book down. When it all came together in the end, I felt like I’d gained a friend in Grace and that alone was just a really nice gift ... Whether you’re looking for an unexpected f/f romance, a read about an ambitious yet struggling woman who needs time and space to grow into her full potential, or desire the comfort of the found family trope, Morgan Rogers’ debut novel Honey Girl is sure to stay with you way after you’ve closed the book.
Rachel Lynn Solomon
RaveThe Nerd DailyFake dating? Tired. Fake exes? Wired. Just kidding, they are both equally enchanting tropes but wow, Rachel Lynn Solomon really went for that fake exes one and I was here for it ... I didn’t have any expectations going into The Ex Talk but boy, did it blow me away ... A well-rounded romcom with flawed and mesmerising characters that will steal your heart, The Ex Talk will leave you nostalgic for radio shows and delivers the enemies-to-fake-exes-to-lovers trope you never knew you needed!
RaveThe Nerd DailyYou want a book that’s funny? A book that will make you cry because it’s so relatable? A book that will make you swoon, fan your face during saucy scenes, and then some? And above all, a book that is a love letter to fandoms and fanfiction and to being a nerd? Well, look no further, my friends, because Spoiler Alert has got it all ...There’s so much to love about this book but my favourite part was how this was equally a romantic comedy giving you all the second-hand embarrassment and fluff while also addressing real social issues. Marcus and April have sizzling chemistry and their banter is as funny as their flirting is enticing. But the both of them struggle with bigger issues ... the illuminating commentary Dade offers on the fatphobic society we live in was compulsive to read about. Dade does not hold back ... There is no condescension between these pages; instead, we are regaled with a fierce protagonist who is smart, quick-witted, gorgeous and fat. Not in spite of being fat. Not because she’s fat. It’s just another adjective describing the brilliant woman that is April Whittier. It’s a powerful message, showing that yes, fat women are desired, they are loved, they are worthy of getting their happily ever after. It’s not the size of your body but the size of your heart that matters. This representation will mean so much to so many people (I know it did a lot to me) and I hope that everyone falls head over heels in love with April, just like Marcus does ... With flawed, complex characters that leap straight off the page and into your heart, Spoiler Alert is a love letter to fiction, fandom and fatness. As much social commentary as romantic comedy, this one deserves a spot on your favourites shelf!
RaveThe Nerd DailyI wonder if I will ever pick up a book by Backman and not be completely baffled at the synopsis only to fall in love with the book on the very first page (chances are slim, to be honest). Backman excels in Anxious People the way he has excelled in all his previous releases and it’s because of one thing: the way he writes the most painful truths, the way he uncovers what we all think sometimes, but would never dare speak aloud. It’s like he’s hiding in our brains, snagging our worst nightmares and most hopeful daydreams and shoves them into characters that will then make you question why you haven’t robbed a bank yet or gone into the real estate business (okay maybe that’s going a bit too far but you get my point, right?) ... Backman has a way with words that always leaves me reeling. He somehow manages to make everything sound hilarious while also creating moments and characters that change the way you view the world because you’re seeing other people’s perspectives. And even if you don’t agree with them, you at least understand ... Backman manages to make the ordinary feel extraordinary, imbibing seemingly drab topics with passion and fervour and it works every single time to leave me absolutely entranced. And it’s one hundred percent because of the characters ... Backman knows how to capture all the little moments in life we never really think about, the connections we make and take for granted instead of seeing them as the blessings they are, the kindnesses and cruelties that have become the norm when really, they should stand out, for better or for worse ... what I loved most about this book was how it made me question how far I would go for the people I love ... Riveting and jovial while not shying away from the hard truths of life, Anxious People demonstrates Backman’s ability to make even a would-be hostage situation one of the most entertaining and profound encounters to read about. May this man never stop writing.
PositiveThe Nerd DailyWhile the book definitely held up its promise to bring on a swoonworthy romance and all the drama, I think there was a lot more potential for more twists and a bit more development of the world outside of the romance. I’m holding out hope that Daria may give some of the secondary characters from this novel like Jasmine’s cousins Ava or Michelle a chance to shine in a spin-off novel. Daria’s writing style was beautiful and engaging and intrigued me to pick up more of hers soon! Sexy, dramatic and filled with will-they-won’t they vibes, this is a must read for any soap opera or telenovela lovers—or really, anyone who misses Rita Moreno (to whom this book is dedicated!) on their screens!
MixedThe Nerd Daily... Unfortunately, the story didn’t resonate with me like that personally...I kept waiting for something more to happen. A conflict, some plot twist, anything that would propel the story forward. Instead, we keep watching Lydia repetitively live her life in the \'awake\' and the \'asleep\' world ... after the fifth or sixth time she visits this dreamland that is never quite explained and has no rules to it, the book falls into a repetitive two-step: Lydia wants to be asleep so she can be with Freddie, and the awake world is keeping her from it. The story had a lot of potential for exploration of morality and the afterlife in general but it never really addressed the issue of why Lydia could \'live on\' while she was sleeping or the moral dilemma she is facing by taking these sleeping pills even when she doesn’t need them anymore just so she can see Freddie. In general, every issue that could have led to a conflict or a bit of food for thought was kicked under the rug. Even the ‘plot twist’ that you can probably see a mile coming was just – resolved? There seemed to be no tension, no anticipation, just a quick inner monologue and everything was sorted ... The writing style could also use some work. There was a lot of telling rather than showing and the dialogue felt sometimes very unnatural to the point of ridiculous. Not to mention the few instances of fake feminism when it came to clothing and drinking. Additionally, there was a lot of explanatory writing ... All in all, this was a quick read and for fans of afterlife tales and fluffy slowburns definitely worth looking into!