Book Reviews

Book Review: The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine

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Taken at their book signing at my local Barnes and Noble

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be able to meet Liv Constantine, which is the pen name for sisters Valerie and Lynne Constantine, and get an autographed copy of their latest book, The Last Time I Saw You. I was already a fan of the authors after reading their previous novel, The Last Mrs. Parrish.

Just in time for Memorial Day, I was able to read the novel to review it (see disclaimer here), and loved it. Read on for my review:

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Summary: 

The novel begins at the funeral of Lily, the mother of Dr. Kate English. Lily was murdered, and police are investigating the crime. Adding to the drama, Kate’s estranged best friend Blaire appears — to pay her respects, naturally. However, the two have not spoken in about 15 years — the night before Kate’s wedding.

Talk about awkward.

However, the drama and suspense are just beginning. Soon after the funeral, Kate begins to receive cryptic messages from an unknown sender. These messages were just downright horrific — with death threats and dead animals. Over time, Kate realizes that the person sending the messages may be closer than she thinks — which makes her soon realize that there is no one that she can trust.

Meanwhile, Kate and Blaire begin to rekindle their friendship. But soon, Kate realizes that there may be more to Blaire than just wishes than just reconnecting.

Review: 

What I loved about The Last Mrs. Parrish was the twists and turns the story took. Just when you think the novel is going one way, it takes you in a completely different direction. The Last Time I Saw You was similar. If you choose to read this, I will say this: you will not see the end coming.

However, I will say that for almost 75 percent of The Last Time I Saw You, you really begin to believe that the story is going in a certain direction. Then, it swerves off of the road and goes somewhere where readers do not see coming.

Now, does that make the story mundane or boring? Absolutely not.

I was engrossed with this novel from page one, and could not put it down up until the last page. Part of the reason why was because I just needed to find out what was going to happen next.

With that being said, let’s talk about the relationship between Blaire and Kate. Blaire immersed herself into the crime investigation. At first, a part of me wondered why that was. Was she devastated at the loss of her friend’s mom, someone who was like a mom to herself? Or, was there more to her motives?

Furthermore, I was happy though, that the two were able to reconnect. However, I did think that it was unrealistic that Kate let Blaire right back into her life so quickly. Maybe it was the need for comfort during a traumatic time in her life? I don’t know.

Finally, let’s talk about Simon’s and Sabrina’s relationship. He can deny it all that he wants, I still think that there was something going on there. Even though it’s innocent, it’s still fishy how she latches herself onto him — and how Simon tells so much of Kate’s personal business. To me, that’s a little wrong.

Even though I noticed that one little flaw, don’t get me wrong. I absolutely loved the book. So, if you are looking for a good mystery thriller, I definitely recommend it for this Memorial Day weekend. And, judging by the fact that I didn’t want to put it down, I’m sure you’ll be able to finish it this weekend too.

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Update: 15 Books That I Want To Read In 2019

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About four months ago, I wrote a post called 15 Books That I Want to Read in 2019. I came across it this morning, and thought that it might be a good idea to share an update just how I was doing.

As you can see below, I’ve read 6 out of the 15 books listed. Honestly, I’m impressed that I’ve read that much. In my first post, I mentioned that some of these are books that I’ve been dying to read, while others are just books that I’ve had lying around.

With that being said, I’m hoping to read Me, Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews soon. I just recently purchased the book at my local Books A Million for about $4, and I can’t wait to get to it.

Hopefully, in my next update I have a few more down!

  1. Becoming by Michelle Obama
  2. The Game of Thrones Series by George R. R. Martin
  3. The Last Star by Rick Yancey
  4. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
  5. The Wife Between Us by Geer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
  6. Orange Is The New Black by Piper Kernman
  7. Me, Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
  8. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
  9. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
  10. Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner
  11. Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
  12. The Lies We Told by Camilla Way
  13. China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
  14. Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
  15. Capital Gaines by Chip Gaines
Book of the Month

Book of the Month Review: the Bride Test by Helen Hoang

This month’s Book of the Month pick was a book that I have been waiting to come out for a while. That book is called the Bride Test by Helen Hoang.

Summary:

Khai Diep lacks the ability to have emotion — that is any emotion that is not annoyance. Due to this, there is one important one that he lacks the ability to process. That is grief. For years, Khai has become aloof and closed off to his family and friends thanks to that inability and his Autistic diagnosis.

Esme Tran is a hotel maid from Ho Chi Minh City. She works endlessly to support her mother, grandmother and daughter and dreams of the America where opportunity is prosperous. One day, Esme is given the chance to go to America by a mother who just wants her son to meet a nice girl like her.

That woman’s son? Khai.

Once in America, Esme and Khai begin to scratch the surface of emotion. But, with a deadline of two months looming before Esme is sent back to her home forever, the two feel the pressure of romance immediately. However, over time the two begin to fall for each other — all while shedding the skin of their troubled past.

Review:

As I said earlier, I was anxiously anticipating this book’s pub day for a while. I read the Kiss Quotient last December, and loved it. Like The Kiss Quotient, this book talks about the challenges of falling in love with someone who is Autistic. Both books do a great job with not only describing those challenges, but also work to break the stigma towards them.

What I loved about the book is how the relationship between Khai and Esme had blossomed over the course of the book. At first, Esme was attracted and Khai was awkward. Over time the relationship grew. Khai would show little ways to show her how much he loved her — whether that was picking her up when she sprained her ankle, helping her try to find her father, and tried to make sure that she had the best opportunity available. Seeing the relationship and that trust build was an amazing thing to see.

Furthermore, I also loved how over time, Hoang reveals more about the characters. At first, we don’t know why Khai freaks out when Stella tries to ride his motorcycle. Later on, it’s revealed. Furthermore, we also learn more about Stella’s past as well — such as how her daughter was conceived, etc.

Finally, what I really liked about the book was that it had Stella and Micheal, who were the characters from The Kiss Quotient. Spoiler alert: you got to se their wedding, which was awesome.

Overall, I loved this book. It was the perfect romantic comedy that wasn’t overly cheesy, but just packed the right amount of sweetness. The story moved quickly, and held my interest the entire time. So therefore, if you’re looking for a summer romance to heat up your beach chair, then The Bride Test is the book for you.

Eating My Way Around CT · Uncategorized

Eating My Way Around CT: Hamden’s Roost

What do you think of when you think of delicious, fast food fried chicken? Chances are you’re thinking of Chic-Fil-A.

However, there is a new place in Hamden that could give Chic-Fil-A a run for its money. And, I am a huge fan of Chic-Fil-A.

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That place is called Roost. Located on Whitney Avenue, Roost has the same focus as Chic-Fil-A: chicken. You also can get fries and a variety of shakes. But, their menu doesn’t stop there. In addition to the classic chicken sandwich, you can also get bowls, chicken and waffles, and so much more. And, of course, you can dip your food in Roost sauce as well.

I have been to Roost twice since it’s opening and have had chicken and waffles and the original chicken sandwich. And, of course, I also had the fries.

Compared to Chic-Fil-A, their chicken may be fried, but it tastes fresh. And, when you order a side of fries for your meal, you get a ton. When you leave Roost, you definitely are leaving full.

The only bad thing I will say about Roost is this: there is no lemonade like Chic-Fil-A has. However, you can still get Foxon Park.

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Many people while eating Roost will think: is this a more local version of Chic-Fil-A? In some ways, yes it is. With the bigger menu, Roost has some unique qualities that will draw in more people. They also serve wine and beer as well. And, the major difference between the two? Roost is actually open on Sunday.

So, if you’re in the New Haven area, I highly recommend that you check out Roost — even if it’s just to satisfy your Chic-Fil-A craving on a Sunday.

Grief

Getting Real About Grief

Let’s just get this out of the way: grief absolutely sucks. It is isolating, and consumes you. It is the weight that bears down on you, and is the feeling in your chest when holidays come along, and you look over and see that empty chair that your loved one used to sit.

My mom passed away two and a half months ago. Before my mom died, my dog Maggie passed away in October.

Losing a parent and losing a pet are very different, of course. Losing them in a six month time span? Well, that’s just a double whammy.

Now, everyone grieves differently. Everyone grieves at different speeds, and at different speeds.

Unfortunately, there is one truth to grief — you will never get over it. You will eventually move on from it, but you’ll never be the same that you were before everything happened.

When my mother died, someone gave me the best advice possible, which has served as guidance. That is let yourself do what it feels right for you to do. If you want to lie in bed all day, then go ahead and do so. If you want to clean out some of their stuff, then you go ahead and do so. That advice, which was given to me by someone who had lost her daughter, has been the single way that I’ve gotten through grief.

But, let’s be honest: losing someone you love sucks, whether it was instantly or years in the making. Saying goodbye is awful — that is, if you have the chance to.

Therefore, grief is a normal thing that our body goes through to cope with that loss.

To all of you grieving out there, I hope you know that despite how it may feel like it, you are truly not alone. I hope that you know that you will have some good days, and you will have some bad ones too. And, finally, I hope that you know that you do what’s best for you. It is not a race to get better. Feel what you need to feel.

I may not be a therapist or a counselor, but I can at least offer you that food for thought.

Grief · Uncategorized

What Mother’s Day Is Like For Someone Who Just Lost Her Mom

It hits you when you’re walking down the card aisle at Hallmark. It hits you when you’re watching a TV show and an advertisement for Kohl’s comes on. Mother’s Day. Don’t forget to give Mom a gift she’ll love.

But, when your mom is gone, it’s safe to say she won’t be getting a Mother’s Day card.

This Mother’s Day will mark the first that I will not get to celebrate with my mom. It will be the first Mother’s Day where I won’t go to a local Italian restaurant with my mom and grandma, and my mom will give my grandma a carefully picked out outfit. It will be the first Mother’s Day where I won’t be buying my own mother a gift of her own. Instead, she’ll be getting a bouquet of supermarket flowers brought to her grave.

There is not a day that goes by where I don’t think about or miss my mother. For the past 23 years, it would be a day where I would honor her with something. When I was in elementary school, I would bring home handmade clay pots and flowers bought from the flower sale. As I got older, Mom receive an iPod shuffle, and earrings. And, we can not forget the social media posts that sang my mom’s praises every year.

Now, Mother’s Day is a reminder to what I’ve lost. I lost my mom, someone who was both Mom and Dad to me. I lost the person who I knew had my back, even though at the time I thought that she was just being unfair or annoying. Mother’s Day is also a reminder to what I had — a wonderful mother who gave me everything to ensure that I was okay. Finally, Mother’s Day is a lump in my throat to remind me how much I miss my mom.

So, Mother’s Day for someone who just lost her mom flat out sucks. But, for all of you out there who are fortunate enough to have their mom still, be sure to savor every minute and appreciate her. Because truthfully, there is no one like a mom, and once she is gone, she’s gone.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Hope that you are having a good one up in heaven.

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I Am Human, Let Me Eat!

Growing up, gym class was my personal hell. Like seriously. I was so bad at it that I used to have to do an extra gym class on top of my normal one.

It goes without saying that I was overweight as well. That went with me, all of the way through my freshman year of high school. I was that person who was in between — I wasn’t skinny, and I wasn’t fat either.

But, back then I wasn’t exactly making the right choices either. I never worked out outside of gym class. My idea of nutrition was french fries for lunch, and followed by more for dinner.

Yeah, I was healthy.

It wasn’t until the middle of sophomore year that I began to work out. At the time, I would put on my iPod and dance around my room like an idiot. Sure, it wasn’t no Jillian Micheals. But I did lose some weight, which is good.

That summer between junior and senior year, I began to become obsessed with healthy eating and weight loss. Every pound suddenly matter. I watched MTV’s I Used To Be Fat religiously. I used MyFitness pal to record every calorie, and exercised way too much. And, whenever I did eat something unhealthy, I would go all out.

When I entered junior year, I soon realized that method of losing weight wasn’t exactly realistic. I found myself hungry all of the time. That winter, as we got blizzard after blizzard, I ate a ton of baked goods. And all of a sudden, all of that weight that I worked so hard to lose, came right back.

Over time, I began to realize that I wasn’t happy with losing weight that way. I mean, I was happy when I was a size 6 versus an eight or a ten. But, I wasn’t eating foods that I loved. I was so obsessed with trying to get thin and losing even more weight, I forgot how to live.

And, that’s no way to live either.

Nowadays, I try to keep a balanced diet. I will admit that I am obsessed with working out. Honestly, that comes from the fact that working out has become a bit of a form of therapy for me. However, I still eat cookies, cupcakes, and chocolate — and I’m pretty damn happy doing it.

Whenever I see things such as a keto diet or any other diet, I always think about this. Sure, it’s fun to lose the weight. But being able to maintain it? That’s even better. Plus, it’s not good for your body to even manage that. And, isn’t the point of working out to be healthy?

At the end of the day, I think that it’s more important to be healthy and happy than the numbers on the scale. Balance is key in everything — including when it comes to weight loss and eating. Working out for me isn’t about being able to look good in a bikini. It’s about being healthy.

So, yes I’ll eat salads and work out along with Jillian Michaels. But, I’ll still eat cupcakes and take rest days. And, when I do, I will savor every moment.

Book of the Month · Book Reviews · Uncategorized

Book of the Month: Normal People by Sally Rooney

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I am a bit late in reviewing April’s Book of the Month pick. However, better late than never right?

This month, I read Normal People by Sally Rooney. The novel is about Connell and Marianne. At the start of the novel, Connell is the stereotypical, well adjusted popular kid with little money, and Marianne is the outcast. The two developed a connection, then an exploratory relationship.

Over the course of the novel, you see them blossom from teenagers to young adults. Readers will see Connell go through a deep depression, and Marianne in a relationship that is pretty much abusive. All along though, the two maintain a bond — while readers cheer on the sidelines that the two end up together.

So, here’s my thoughts on the novel. It’s a very realistic love story. In many of the novels that I read — ahem many by Nicholas Sparks or Sophie Kinsella — the characters get their act together at some point and ride off into the sunset together. Not going to lie — I am a huge fan of those books. But, with that being said, it’s not always real life.

This novel keeps it real about what it’s like to be in college in the early 2010s — and the relationship that millennials such as myself would share with each other. I liked that the novel kept it real, as spoiler alert, they do not end up together. I liked that brutal honesty, because it felt very real.

Although they did not end up together, I felt almost as though they might eventually do so since the two share a strong bond, a good connection, and they love and care for each other. Therefore, I do have faith that they may end up together.

Now, mental health is one of the major themes in this novel. We see Connell deal with depression — something that is extremely common in relationships. In some ways, Marianne has her own struggles to deal with, as throughout the book, readers get the sense of that when seeing her relationships.

So, what did I think? Overall, this was a good novel. For me, it was sort of in the middle — not the worst that I read, but not the best book that I have read this month. That is partly because I have been reading a ton of Christina Lauren and Colleen Hoover lately — all are books that I just can’t put down.