What I’ve Been Reading Lately // ft. mini reviews & YA recommendations!!

I’m back at it again with the mini reviews.

This summer has basically been one massive reading and blogging marathon for me, and I’ve been slacking on my reviews lately, so it’s no surprise that today’s post features lots of mini reviews. Shh, no, I’m not scared of full reviews at all. I read all these books in June, but I still can’t wait to scream about them today!

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Much to everyone’s shock, especially my own, this post will not only have YA contemporaries in it but also a fantasy novel! I know, the day that I don’t post solely about contemporaries deserves to become some sort of holiday. Or it should at least have a plaque in its honor because this is monumental.

I’m looking forward to talking about all the good books I’ve been reading lately, so without more nonsense rambling, besides this important reminder to go vote in the 2019 Book Blogger awards, let’s get into the reviews!

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Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss

 

Title: Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss

Author: Kasie West

Page Count: 384

Goodreads

 

thoughts

This was the first book I ever read by Kasie West, and I have to say, it set the bar high and was a great read to start off with. It was adorable, fluffy, and I genuinely loved every second I spent reading it! Which wasn’t a lot, because I flew through it in one sitting.

This story follows Lacey, an actress who is starring in her first big movie. What I loved about Lacey is that she knew exactly what she wanted in life, she was well on her way to achieving her dreams, and she wasn’t willing to let anyone stand in her way. It was amazing to read about a female character who was so sure of herself and goal-oriented.

The book takes place on a movie set, and I loved the unique setting. The reader also gets to know her costars and see her become friends with them, as well as watch Lacey navigate her family relationships.

Due to the cover of this book, it’s obvious that there is a love interest, and I have to say, I loved him (and the slow burn) quite a lot. The banter between Lacey and Donavan was everything I never knew I needed in life!! It was funny, it came naturally, and it left me excited to see how their relationship would continue to progress.

I truly enjoyed this book! I can see myself rereading it in the future, just because it was so cute and made me really happy.

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I know I say this a lot when I do reviews, but it was just missing that extra something that would lead me to give it five stars! However, I still loved it so much.

★★★★☆

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The Forbidden Wish

 

Title: The Forbidden Wish

Author: Jessica Khoury

Page Count: 352

Goodreads

 

thoughts

This was by far the best retelling I have read in a long, long time.

I’ve always underrated Aladdin because when I was little the creepy villain guy scared the heck out of me but this book made me rethink everything. I was enthralled by this story and I couldn’t get enough of the characters.

In this retelling, Aladdin finds the lamp that holds a jinni named Zahra. He releases her and she is to grant him the traditional wishes, but now there’s a catch. Aladdin and Zahra begin to fall in love with each other- but not only is Zahra not free from the curse of her lamp, she’s not even a human.

I loved the female power in this book (so many strong female characters that are raising each other up, not bringing each other down), the Middle Eastern setting, and Aladdin himself. Yes, he was a flirt and kind of a player but he was also adorable and?? I loved him way too much for my own good.

It was really interesting to read about Zahra battling with her own emotions. The last time she loved a human didn’t turn out good at all, and she knows she’s only digging herself into a deeper and deeper hole…but isn’t it worth it for love?

The world building, the romance (!!!!), the setting, everything had me reading this book with heart eyes. I loved it!

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I felt like the pacing could be a little slow at times, but that has to be my only complaint. It was so adorable and writing this review made me want to reread it already!

★★★★☆

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Love, Life, and the List

 

Title: Love, Life, and the List

Author: Kasie West

Page Count: 400

Goodreads

 

thoughts

Another Kasie West book, I know! After reading Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss, I was eager to get my hands on another one of her romances as soon as possible, and this book didn’t disappoint.

This book is about Abby, a girl who’s in love with her best friend, is dying to get her art in an art show, and has a lot of her things going on in her personal life. It does have a crossover (!!) with FFATFK, which I was 100% here for and may or may not have screamed over. Just a tiny bit, okay??

I’m always a fan of a friends to lovers, and I thought this one was done beautifully. Props to Kasie West for keeping up a great banter and relationship between Abby and the love interest, Cooper! They were both adorable and their romance was really well done.

I loved how there were a lot of smaller plots going on throughout the book- Abby’s relationship with Cooper, her art, her budding friendship with Lacey, her dad being stationed overseas, and her mom battling agoraphobia. I did feel like some of the smaller plotlines could have been better resolved at the end, though!

The only thing that’s keeping me from giving this five stars is that I didn’t feel like Abby’s character was that distinguishable. She reminded me a lot of Lacey from FFATFK and I just wish she had more defining personality traits!

I definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for a fluffy, sweet contemporary with a cute romance!!

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As I said, this one was just short of five stars for me, but I still loved it.

★★★★☆

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Somewhere Only We Know

 

Title: Somewhere Only We Know

Author: Maurene Goo

Page Count: 320

Goodreads

 

thoughts

Looking past the insta-love aspect, Somewhere Only We Know is a cute contemporary filled with a lot of K-pop culture, delicious food descriptions, and a sweet romance. It wasn’t just another “we fall in love in one day” book.

I didn’t know much about K-pop before reading this, but it was very interesting and eye-opening to learn about the difficult lifestyle that comes along with it! The main character, Lucky, is a huge K-pop star known all around the world.

She’s in Hong Kong for a show, so when she runs into Jack, they “escape” together into Hong Kong, where they see all the sights and eat all the delicious food. I loved that we got to read from both of their perspectives and learn more about each other their lives!

I do have to say, there was one thing that made me really mad in this book- it’s something Jack was doing, and it’s somewhat of a spoiler so I won’t say it here, but this made it difficult for me to get a handle on his character and understand what was him being cute and adorable and chivalrous and what was him…not being those things.

Overall, I enjoyed this book! It was a sweet, cute read.

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The issue I had with Jack’s character and the fact that this book was pretty insta-lovey and the timeline just seemed unrealistic brought down my rating a bit, but I don’t regret reading it and I can see myself reading more books by this author in the future.

★★★☆☆

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Goodbye, Perfect

 

Title: Goodbye, Perfect

Author: Sara Barnard

Page Count: 300

Goodreads

 

thoughts

I didn’t know what I was getting into with this book. Quite literally- I meant to get another book by Sara Barnard at the library but I got this one instead. I have to say, it exceeded my expectations and left me stunned. I finished it in one day because it was just that good.

Goodbye, Perfect is about a girl named Eden, a typical high schooler with a boyfriend and exams coming up, whose life is changed when her best friend runs away with their school’s music teacher. Suddenly, everything she thought she knew about her friend and their relationship is altered forever.

The author definitely did a really great job handling the student-teacher relationship topic, and I think the message was able to get across a lot better since the main character wasn’t the one in the relationship, but was on the outside watching the consequences unfold. The best friend, Bonnie, was such a complicated character and I found it hard to grasp her thoughts and feelings.

Eden was also adopted, and her relationship both with her biological sister and her adoptive sister, as well as her adoptive parents, seemed really realistic and I enjoyed watching her grow and develop stronger relationships over the course of the novel.

The last thing that really stood out to me in this book was Eden’s relationship with her boyfriend Connor. It!! was!! so!! healthy!! I genuinely think this is the first YA novel I’ve ever read where there’s a solid romantic relationship that lasts the duration of the book. And they were always there for each other and Connor was so sweet and just. *tear* The romance was present, but wasn’t the central focus, and I loved that so much.

I think I’ll be rereading this soon, because it was powerful and beautiful!

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I really liked this book and I can’t recommend it enough! It was a more hard-hitting contemporary that discussed important issues, but still managed to have its lighter moments as well.

★★★★☆

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There we have it, five books that I read last month and that I adored. There’s a lot more where that came from, and I’m hoping to get some more mini reviews posted in the near future. I just have read so many books that got me squealing and?? I just want to scream about them for ages. 😌

I hope this post could give you all some recommendations! All of these books are relatively summer-y, so if you’re in the Northern hemisphere and you’re a seasonal reader (I am really not, but I wish I was) then that’s an extra incentive to read them.

I hope you’re all having a lovely day! Here’s a wonderful week.✨

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Did you add any to your TBR? What’s the #1 thing you look for in books? I’d love to talk with you all in the comments.

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Credits for the image in my featured image >> Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

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40 thoughts on “What I’ve Been Reading Lately // ft. mini reviews & YA recommendations!!

  1. Loved these mini reviews – personally I prefer mini reviews in this format to longer reviews anyway 🙂
    Kasie West’s books sound so good so I’m excited to read them – it’s just so hard to decide which one to go with first?? All of them just sound so promising, although like you said, with their nature I feel like some of the characters could become quite indistinguishable.

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    • Thank you so much, Emme!💓
      I would recommend Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss but that’s just me having read two of her many, many books. XD I’ve heard a lot of people enjoy P.S. I Like You, which I haven’t read yet, but that could also be a good place to start? Happy reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. somewhere only we know is on my tbr!! i’ve heard some really great things about kasie west, but i hate book covers with real people on them for some reason?? what can i say, i judge books by their covers. i’ll probably have to stop doing that oops sksks

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope you get around to reading both Somewhere Only We Know and Kasie West books, I really enjoyed them both.🤗Haha, I don’t really love the covers with real people on them either?? It just makes it a *tiny* bit awkward to be reading in public.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved reading all your thoughts for these books– your mini reviews are great!! 😍
    The Forbidden Wish is probably the retelling I am most eager for because I love Aladdin– I think he is a great character and I love the world so I am so glad to hear you loved this book. It sounds wonderful– it sounds like Aladdin is still an amazing character!! And I am all for the female empowerment!!
    It’s funny that you mentioned that the villain scared you in Aladdin because the cave thing in the dessert which looks like a cat and leads down to the lamp always scared me– it was his voice!! 😂
    It sounds like I will have to try Kasie West’s books now that you love them so much!!
    And I love that Goodbye, Perfect has a healthy relationship throughout the entire book– yes give me all the healthy relationships!! I like that it was there but the not the central plot either– I have always wanted more romances like that!! 😍
    Great post!!! 💛

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    • Thank you so much, Sophie!💘
      Ahh, I’m really glad you’re excited to read The Forbidden Wish. This book made me love Aladdin so much, oh my gosh! Haha, I feel like Aladdin (and a lot of the Disney princess movies too) is honestly pretty scary for a kid to be watching.😂
      Yes, the relationship in Goodbye, Perfect was seriously awesome. I really can’t remember the last time I read a YA book without relationship drama until that one, honestly!
      I hope you enjoy any of these books that you read. Thank you for the kind comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. These are all so true oml do we just read the same books???
    Jafar in Aladdin is SO scary I hate him and his grumpy parrot!
    I really enjoy some of Katie West’s books, but not all of them, so I will have to find a copy soon!
    Amazing post!
    -Emma 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha! I love that.😂
      I’m so glad I’m not the only one! Like, when I was five, I got so terrified and that’s why I never gave Aladdin the true chance it deserved until now. *shakes head sadly*
      I hope you like the ones I recommended! I can see her books getting a bit repetitive after a while, but I really do love both of the ones I talked about here.
      Thank you so much, Emma!💓

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  5. i’m so HAPPY to see you enjoyed fame, fate, and the first kiss too! i just finished it this month and it was really cute and omg donavan was such a great love interest, one of my fav kasie west books! i thought goodbye perfect handled the topic REALLY well and i was so impressed at how it didn’t come off as preachy or judgemental but explained how scary the situation was. both fantastic books
    i really like this mini review idea (or maybe i just like to hear you talk about books 🤔) and i cant wait to hear more of your thoughts soooon

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    • IT WAS the cutest!! Aww, Donavan was seriously the best ever, I loved their casual friendship to love and the trampoline scene has my heart forever.💘Ahh, yes, that’s perfectly said about Goodbye Perfect, I definitely agree!
      Thank you so much May!! You’re the sweetest. *hugs you* I love mini reviews and you have just fueled a lot more screaming from me…thank you again for the lovely comment!

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  6. I’m pretty sure I’ve read the Forbidden Wish. For the other ones, I’ve definitely seen Kasie West books around before, and I think I’ve seen Goodbye, Perfect also. I love the slight crossovers authors do between books! Have you ever seen the book Tell Me Three Things with three waffle hearts on the cover? It came out a few years ago. This year, the author Julie Buxbaum came out with another book, Hope and Other Punchlines (which was in one of my book lists, the one with the 9/11 picture), and there was a tiny cross-reference. Ahh, Eden and Connor sound great. You’re right, they’re not many solid romantic relationships to be found in YA books. That would be a cool booklist.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahh, do you remember if you liked The Forbidden Wish or not? I agree, the Kasie West books are everywhere. I wonder how many books she’s written- definitely a lot. I have seen Tell Me Three Things! I can see the cover in my head right now. *closes eyes and pictures it* Oh my gosh, that’s really cool! I think TMTT is on my TBR from a long time ago, but I’ll have to check because I love a good cross-reference. Eden and Connor were so amazing! Ooh, that would be an amazing list to put together. Although the only book I would know to put on it so far is Goodbye Perfect, haha. Thank you for your comment!

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      • Hm, I don’t exactly remember what I thought, but I do think that I ended up skimming some of it. Yea, her book covers and titles are pretty recognizable. Haha, I love how book covers get stuck in our heads.
        And of course, you’re welcome :))

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  7. I adore reading about strong-minded girls as well! It’s not that I dislike when the heroine is a bit less sure of herself or a bit less focused but it’s always refreshing to come across positive role models as well 🙂 (especially after it became such a trend in YA to have ditzy heroines)
    I have The Forbidden Wish on my TBR as well and can’t wait to read it! The romance sounds super adorable and Aladdin seems to make the perfect cute book boyfriend ❤
    I'm not the biggest fan of friends to lovers but this does sound very endearing! So I'm glad you enjoyed it 🙂
    That's too bad about Jack's character not hitting the right spot with you… That happens to me way too frequently as well and it's so annoying, especially when the rest of the book is pretty great!
    Goodbye, Perfect looks like one of those emotionally intense books that stay with you for a while so I have to be in the right mood to read it.
    Overall, you seem to have had a wonderful reading experience! I really enjoy reading mini-reviews once in a while so your post came at the perfect time 🙂

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    • That’s such a great way to put it! I agree for sure. I feel like strong-minded, confident heroines are less common, so it’s always extra wonderful to read about them.🤗
      Oh my goodness, Aladdin is the BEST book boyfriend and I really hope you enjoy reading The Forbidden Wish! It’s magical and adorable and beautiful.
      Ah, yes, I feel you with that. It’s always frustrating to dislike one semi-major aspect of the book but love everything else dearly, and then you’re stuck on whether or not you loved the book as a whole.
      It was emotionally intense, but it did have its lighter moments as well. I hope you like it as much as I did!
      Thank you so much for this very kind comment, Sophie! Happy reading to you.💛

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ahhhh I love these mini reviews so much! It’s been such a long time since I read a Kasie West book & I miss all the cute fluffiness 😢 You should definitely check out The Fill In Boyfriend, it’s one of my favourites by her & I actually cried reading it!

    💛 Ngoc

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  9. me when seeing that one was a fantasy: :O
    me when seeing that it was THE FORBIDDEN WISH: OH MY GOD

    bro… bro… I have infinite love for that book. I would die for that book. I love Aladdin and Zahra so much!!! That is one of my favorite books of all time and I have all of the emotions. Their romance = perfection. The ending? WILD. I love it.

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    • *nods* IT IS TRUE, this post has lots of Kasie West in it. 😉 Ahh, her books are adorable and I can’t wait to read more! I loved Goodbye, Perfect so it makes me really happy to see that you’re going to give it a chance. Thank you, Chana! ❤

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  10. ahhh, so many great recommendations!
    i’ll definitely consider picking up kasie west in the future after reading your post. i feel like she’s a hit or miss author for a lot of people and most of her books have polarizing opinions. i know some people who love them, and others who hate them, so i’ve always been a bit hesitant about picking any of them up. i did start reading the fill-in boyfriend because it has a fake dating trope, but the portuguese edition was getting on my nerves. knowing both languages pretty well, it’s easy for me to tell when a book is badly translated and that was definitely a case. so i ended up putting it down, but i’ll look into reading it in the original version and hopefully enjoying it a lot more. it is more of a backlist title by kasie west (it was released in 2015, i think?) so maybe it won’t compare to the quality of her most recent ones, but the premise still sounds really good.
    (also the MC was named donovan?? lol that’s such a nice name).
    thank you soooo much for sharing, olivia! loved reading these mini reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Lais!💗
      Ahh, I’ve kind of heard a lot of the same things about Kasie West as you. I feel like they might be “misses” instead of “hits” for a lot of people because they are fluffy contemporaries, and if the reader prefers or is expecting a heavier book, it’s going to let them down. I do like contemporaries that deal with more important issues, but I’m also a sucker for a good fluffy story every once in a while, so they work well for me, haha. Oh, I’m sorry about that version! I hope you enjoy it if you get around to the original, I haven’t read it yet but I’ve heard about it and it sounds good.
      I know right?? Haha, I think so too.
      Aww, thank you for the kind comment! Happy reading to you. :))

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Lovely review, Olivia! Oh my goodness, I felt the exact same about Jack in Somewhere Only we Know! It was such a cute book, but the questionable things he does left me with a bit of sour taste in my mouth. I’m really glad you enjoyed the Kasie West books! I actually haven’t read either of those yet, but it’s great to hear that the MC in Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss is so sure of herself and goal-oriented! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Kelly! I’m right there with you with Jack, I just wish he hadn’t had that odd plot going on with him or else he would have been the perfect guy.😭💗I really surprised myself with how much I loved the Kasie West books- I hope you enjoy any of them that you read. Happy reading to you!

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