4 star, adult

Review: A Cosmic Kind of Love by Samantha Young

Space is the last thing an event planner and an astronaut need in this charming new romantic comedy from New York Timesbestselling author Samantha Young.

When event planner Hallie Goodman receives party-inspiration material from the bride of her latest wedding project, the last thing she expects to find in the files are digital videos from Darcy’s ex-boyfriend. Hallie knows it’s wrong to keep watching these personal videos, but this guy is cute, funny, and an astronaut on the International Space Station to boot. She’s only human. And it’s not long until she starts sending e-mails and video diaries to his discontinued NASA address. Since they’re bouncing back, there’s no way anyone will ever be able to see them…right?

Christopher Ortiz is readjusting to life on earth and being constantly in the shadow of his deceased older brother. When a friend from NASA’s IT department forwards him the e-mails and video messages Hallie has sent, he can’t help but notice how much her sense of humor and pink hair make his heart race.

Separated by screens, Hallie and Chris are falling in love with each other, one transmission at a time. But can they make their star-crossed romance work when they each learn the other’s baggage?



Overall Recommendation:

A Cosmic Kind of Love shot me straight into space from the start with its cute romance and interesting protagonists. Hallie is an empathetic character and Chris has such interesting points of view (sometimes literally from above in space). The pacing and plot started off so well but felt by the 75% mark to be longer than necessary. The romance is definitely still worth reading, but it wasn’t the 5-star reading I anticipated.

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5 star, adult

Review: I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

A heartbreaking and hilarious memoir by Jennette McCurdy about her struggles as a former child actor—including eating disorders, addiction, and a complicated relationship with her overbearing mother—and how she retook control of her life. 

Jennette McCurdy was six years old when she had her first acting audition. Her mother’s dream was for her only daughter to become a star, and Jennette would do anything to make her mother happy. So she went along with what Mom called “calorie restriction,” eating little and weighing herself five times a day. She endured extensive at-home makeovers while Mom chided, “Your eyelashes are invisible, okay? You think Dakota Fanning doesn’t tint hers?” She was even showered by Mom until age sixteen while sharing her diaries, email, and all her income.

In I’m Glad My Mom Died, Jennette recounts all this in unflinching detail—just as she chronicles what happens when the dream finally comes true. Cast in a new Nickelodeon series called iCarly, she is thrust into fame. Though Mom is ecstatic, emailing fan club moderators and getting on a first-name basis with the paparazzi (“Hi Gale!”), Jennette is riddled with anxiety, shame, and self-loathing, which manifest into eating disorders, addiction, and a series of unhealthy relationships. These issues only get worse when, soon after taking the lead in the iCarlyspinoff Sam & Cat alongside Ariana Grande, her mother dies of cancer. Finally, after discovering therapy and quitting acting, Jennette embarks on recovery and decides for the first time in her life what she really wants.

Told with refreshing candor and dark humor, I’m Glad My Mom Died is an inspiring story of resilience, independence, and the joy of shampooing your own hair.



Overall Recommendation

Jennette McCurdy’s memoir is heartbreaking and consequently empowering to read. From trauma instilled from childhood, her story to where she is now is beyond her celebrity status but the very real journey towards finding herself amidst the experiences she survived. I wished this wasn’t all true half the time but it’s worthwhile to read at the end of the day. She deserves all the success in the world, and it’s really no wonder this book is a #1 seller.

TW: eating disorders, emotional abuse by a parent, alcoholism

Where does one begin to review a memoir, especially to such a calibre as Jennette’s? I’m Glad My Mom Died was eloquently written, taking us with Jennette from her childhood to her young adulthood, and showed the trajectory of recovery for someone who went through so much to get to where she is now. While the title may scream shocking for “wow” factor or something, I won’t deny its attention-grabbing ability but in reality, it seems like a fitting title for everything that transpired within its pages.

I don’t know about you but I grew up watching iCarly. It was one of the few childhood shows I was allowed to watch that wasn’t deemed “educational” by my parents. In part, I wanted to watch it for Miranda Cosgrove but I really liked what I saw of Jennette. Little did we (and even her costars) knew, things are rarely as they seem on the surface level.

I love how the writing is in present tense, like we’re seeing and feeling all of it with her in the moment without the hindsight knowledge. Each scene or moment that Jennette takes us to in her life are contained within the chapter it’s in and never crosses over midway to another chapter. There were many chapters but each was short and digestible in that way. I mean, most chapters took a while to even fully comprehend and process just what happened to her, so the short chapters (all 90 or so of them) helped me get through the hardest chapters to read.

My heart broke multiple times at the experiences and ways she bent over backwards to fulfill what was broken in adults (!!) around her when she was still just a child in every sense of the word. To say she is a strong person is not worded strongly enough. Seeing her document parts of her recovery hopefully gives hope to others who faced/currently faces similar demons or circumstances.

Most importantly, and I will end with this, the overall theme in this memoir to me is about finding yourself. It may seem callous to say her mother dying was the best thing for her, but in all honesty, it was the only way for her to truly become the woman she wants to be. And I’m so darn happy for her because she’s deserving of figuring out what is best for her based off of what she wants alone. That is worth celebrating.

2.5 star, adult

Review: Would You Rather by Allison Ashley

Noah and Mia have always been best friends, and their friendship is the most important thing to them. Life is going great for Noah and he’s up for a promotion in a job he loves. But Mia’s life is on hold as she awaits a kidney transplant. She’s stuck in a dead-end job and, never wanting to be a burden, has sworn off all romance. So when the chance of a lifetime comes to go back to school and pursue her dream, it’s especially painful to pass up. She can’t quit her job or she’ll lose the medical insurance she so desperately needs.

To support her, Noah suggests they get married—in name only—so she can study full-time and still keep the insurance. It’s a risk to both of them, with jobs, health and hearts on the line, and they’ll need to convince suspicious coworkers and nosy roommates that they’re the real deal. But if they can let go of all the baggage holding them back, they might realize that they would rather be together forever.



Overall Recommendation:

Would You Rather was filled with the romantic tropes many of us adore, best friends to lovers and fake dating. But with underlying traumas both protagonists, but mainly Mia, had to individually overcome, the pining was less cute and more grating as I read. For a highly anticipated read for me, I unfortunately was left disappointed even with the happy ending I expected. The plot was everything I could hope for, but its execution just didn’t work for me.

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