Book Reviews, Contemporary, Fantasy, Memoir, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Romance

Mini Book Reviews: October 2020 – Part 1


*Books included in this batch of mini book reviews: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, Practical Magic (Practical Magic #1) by Alice Hoffman, Front Desk by Kelly Yang, and Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon


» The Hating Game by Sally Thorne



5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked»  The best part of The Hating Game was the slow burn romance between Lucy and Josh.  I really enjoyed the witty banter and escapades between them.  This romance was an example of the hate-to-love trope done right.

» From the everyday office life to the drama and office politics, I really enjoyed the office setting as the backdrop to this story.   This aspect of the story was very amusing and relatable to anyone that has worked in an office setting.

» I thought the characters were well done and realistic.  Lucy is driven, hard working, and a bit quirky.  While she is well liked by her colleagues, she is also often taken advantage of because she’s too nice.  On the flip side, Josh is her polar opposite.  Josh is intimidating, blunt, and no nonsense.   I do love a good opposites attract pairing.

» I could definitely see this translating well to film.  Maybe a NetFlix romcom?WhatIDidntLike»  This is a very character driven story with not much in terms of plot.  While this was enjoyable, I felt like there was a lot of missed opportunity with some of the underdeveloped side stories – Lucy’s humble beginnings and Josh’s family turmoil.  I would have liked to see these side plots have been a bigger part of the story.   I also would have liked to see more about the workings within the publishing company that they both worked in.

› Recommended to ⇒ hate-to-love trope fans; office romance fans

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ sexual harassment

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren or Beach Read by Emily Henry

» Practical Magic (Practical Magic #1) by Alice Hoffman

Practical Magic


5-Star Rating System

WhatIDidntLike» For being tagged a “witch book,” there sure isn’t a whole lot of magic or witchcraft within the story.  This book felt much more like a contemporary novel than the fantasy novel I was anticipating.

» I’ve never read an Alice Hoffman book, but I found her writing style in Practical Magic to be odd.  I disliked the 3rd person omniscient narration here, especially with the abrupt point of view switches, sometimes within the same scene.

» I found the Aunts to be very intriguing characters, however they are only a very small part of this story.  I would have liked to see the Aunts featured more in the story.

» The climax and ending of this story was super underwhelming.  I remember finishing and thinking “THAT’s it?!”

»  There was one point in the story where the detective reflects internally that he wants Sally so badly, even if she were to say no?  It was a very odd scene that rubbed me the wrong way.

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ domestic violence; rape attempt;

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe


» Front Desk by Kelly Yang



5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked» Hands down, my favorite part about this wonderful MG novel is that it is based off the author’s own experiences immigrating to the U.S from China as a young child.  Mia’s voice and experiences felt very authentic.

» Themes included in Front Desk include immigration, poverty, discrimination, racism, acceptance, inclusion, friendship, and overcoming adversity.   While this is definitely NOT a light-hearted read, it is an important read.  This would be an excellent to use in a classroom setting to discuss some of these topics.

» Yang sheds light on the discrimination and injustice that many immigrants faced here in the U.S. in the 90s – if we are being honest, probably many are still facing today.  Immigrants were oftentimes taken advantage of and forced to work for meager wages resulting in many living in extreme poverty.   It was very harrowing to read about Mia and her family often not having enough food to eat.  As someone who lived it, Yang’s portrayal of poverty felt very authentic.

» Mia was a really wonderful main character, especially for the middle grade audience.  I loved how hard working, tenacious, determined, caring, empathetic, and kind she was.   I also love how she shows that even kids can stand up to injustice and make a difference.

WhatIDidntLike» I would have liked to see a bit more development of the secondary characters – like Mia’s parents & the regulars at the hotel.

» I couldn’t suspend my disbelief over how Mia gets herself (and her parents) out of their predicament at the end of the story…

› Recommended to ⇒ teachers; librarians; MG book club

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ racism; discrimination; poverty

» Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon



5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked» I’d been meaning to pick this book up for YEARS, but never prioritized it until after the world lost this impressive woman.  I wish I would have read this book much sooner.  RBG was such a trailblazer for gender equality, and accomplished so much in her lifetime.

» I’m in awe of RBG’s strength and work ethic over the course of her life.  I was particularly amazed when I learned that while her and her husband were in law school, he was diagnosed with cancer.  While going to law school herself and raising their young daughter, RBG managed to help  Martin through treatment and assisted him with law school as well.  She would have Martin’s classmates take notes for Martin, then she would type them up for him.  Martin would dictate his papers to her, while she typed them up for him.  After she’d finish all of this, she still had her own school work to complete.  Often, RGB would run on 2 hours of sleep.

» RBG & her husband, Martin, are such a wonderful love story.  The mutual respect they shared for one another was touching.  #RelationshipGoals

» This is one of those books that you feel very inspired after reading.

WhatIDidntLike» Parts of this book were on the dry side.  I would have liked the author to include a bit more about RBG’s personal life to balance out all the heavy legal jargon.

› Recommended to ⇒ memoir fans; RBG fans

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ sexism

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ Becoming by Michelle Obama




Have you read any of these books?  If so, what did you think?

Comment below & let me know 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Mini Book Reviews: October 2020 – Part 1”

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