The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

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This was my pick for the August 2018 Book of the Month box!

“I love you, but it doesn’t mean anything if you’re not happy.”

Friends, I wanted to love this so much. And at first, this really did feel like watching a lucid dream play out, and I felt so enthralled and captivated! But as time went on, I just cared less and less about the dinner, about the past, and about this book.

The Dinner List is a play on the conversation starter of which five people would you bring to a dinner party, dead or alive? And our main character, Sabrina, is living that reality on her thirtieth birthday this December. We get thrown into a present day restaurant with her and the five people she chose, while the chapters alternate between her past and a romance that has completely consumed her life for almost a decade.

Audrey Hepburn -I mean, she’s pretty self-explanatory. But besides being Sabrina’s namesake, her movies also held a high importance in some pivotal moments in Sabrina’s life.
Professor Conrad – A college professor who I guess made a big impact on her. I’ll be honest, I kept waiting for “more” with this dinner guest choice.
Robert – The father that she never knew, because he left when she was little.
Jessica – Her best friend throughout most of her life.
Tobias – The greatest love of her life. And again, this story is truly about why he is at this dinner and why they aren’t currently together.

“But it’s also not an easy thing to be married to darkness. Eventually I dimmed so far I extinguished.”

Yet, the constant theme of this book is fate and how a ripple effect can really change our lives because of a few choices we made while not really even thinking. I mean, I know this is true of my life, and I’m sure for most of you. Yet, we get to see Sabrina’s play out more and more between each alternating chapter.

As I read through more and more of the story, I felt more captivated by the chapters set in the past and found the present dinner chapters much less enjoyable. Especially with the friend Jessica. I honestly started to hate her towards the end of the book, which I’m not sure will be a mutual feeling with more readers, or not.

I mean, this entire book is trying to talk about how none of us are perfect, and how we all make mistakes. But, man, Jessica just felt like such a bad friend throughout this entire novel. Like, she had no redeeming qualities for me, like everyone else at the table did.

“All we needed was to stay this close. Right up against each other, without any space between us. If we did that, we were good. It was just the world—with all its loud chaos, its demands and people and air—that made us fight…””

But I will also be honest and say that I disliked Sabrina and Tobias more, too. I feel like this just really isn’t the healthiest depiction of love. And I get that love can be messy, and complicated, and hard to even put into words, but you have to be happy. You can’t keep settling, over and over, because you’re scared of upsetting your partner. I will say that I don’t even know what Sabrina ever truly wanted, but I never once thought her and Tobias had anything remotely healthy. Sex and cuddling are important, but you have to be able to count on the person you’re sharing your life with. And that doesn’t have an age limit and shouldn’t be glossed over like, “oh they just don’t want to grow up!” I’ve seen sixteen-year-olds in healthier relationships than them. And you never, ever, have to lose something to know it’s worth and value. Miss me with that garbage thinking.

Overall, this book just wasn’t for me. And I hope if you pick it up that you’ll enjoy it more than I did. I also recommend reading this in close to one or two sittings for a better experience. I almost think me putting it down for fifty pages at a time did me a disservice even more, since the story really does have a “dream like” quality to it, and I was probably making it feel more jarring than it needed to be.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for abandonment, talk of alcoholism, talk of cheating, talk of miscarrying, talk of unhealthy dieting, talk of cancer, and loss of a loved one.

Buddy read with Caidyn at BW Reviews! ❤

September 2018 Book Haul

SeptemberBookHaulHello, friends! Okay, so my birthday was August 27th, and I honestly thought my birthday haul was pretty wild, but I apparently put those gift cards to good use in September, because this is the most books I’ve bought…. maybe ever? 🎃📖


PURCHASED BOOKS:


The Impostor Queen (Thank you, Elise, I love you!) 💕
The Last Time I Lied
The Death of Mrs. Westaway
An Illustrated History of Notable Shadowhunters (Thank you, Lilly, I love you!) 💕
Sleepless, Vol. 1
Giant Days, Vol. 1 | Review – ★★★
Monstress, Vol. 3
Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Vol. 1
Fullmetal Alchemist 01
Fullmetal Alchemist 02
Strange Grace | Review – ★★★★★
Eliza and her Monsters | Review – ★★★★
Ramona Blue
The Heart Forger | Review – ★★★★★
The Bone Witch | Review – ★★★★


PURCHASED EBOOKS:

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
I Belong to the Earth (free on Amazon US still!)
Prince of Gods


PHYSICAL ARCS:


Four Dead Queens
The Kingdom of Copper
The Priory of the Orange Tree


NETGALLEY ARCS:

Daisy Jones & The Six
Enchantée
My Favorite Half-Night Stand
The Gilded Wolves


EDELWEISS ARCS:

Pulp
Kingdom of Copper
99 Percent Mine


SUBSCRIPTION BOXES:


Owlcrate| Mirage: Review – ★★★

Owlcrate| Vengeful

BOTM | The Silence of the Girls & The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock


Okay, loves! I hope that’s it! I also hope I don’t have another haul this big in 2018! But I’ll be honest, I’ve already preordred so many books in October. *Hamilton voice* just you wait… until you see how many Muse of Nightmares I preordered. But have you read and loved any of these? Any I should prioritize? Let me know! And I hope you’re all having an amazing end to September! Happy reading! 🍂 🍁

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The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient, #1) by Helen Hoang

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This was my pick for the June 2018 Book of the Month box!

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“I like you better than calculus, and math is the only thing that unites the universe.”

Friends, The Kiss Quotient is so deserving of every ounce of hype it has received thus far. I am not sure I’ve ever been so happy, and had such a lame grin on my face, while reading any other book. This was heartwarming, beautiful, and a treat to read. Don’t sleep on this one. Also, Michael and Stella are both partner goals, I swear.

This is an ownvoices novel about a high-functioning autistic woman who has succeeded in every aspect of her life, except for love. Her mother is putting pressure on her to find someone and start thinking about family, now that she turned thirty. Plus, Stella is kind of lonely anyway, and as much as she loves throwing herself into her work, she wants to spend her life with someone who she can completely be herself with. The problem is, Stella thinks her autism makes her unable to successfully date, and maybe even unable to be good at/enjoy sex. So, she hires the dreamiest escort to help her!

“Girls like me intimidate boyfriends away. Girls like me have never been asked out by a single boy. Girls like me have to find their own way, make their own luck. I’ve had to fight for every success in my life, and I’m going to fight for this. I’m going to get good at sex, and then I’ll finally be able to entice the right person into being mine.”

The thing is, Michael is an escort that doesn’t do more than one session per client. Yet, after his and Stella’s first night, he might be willing to make an exception. Michael is biracial (Vietnamese and Swedish), fashion designer, and has always put his family first, especially after the way his father left them all. Michael’s mother is also battling cancer, and the medical bills are piling up.

Trigger and content warnings for unwanted touching and forced kissing, lowkey sexual harassment, anxiety attacks, abandonment, a loved one with a chronic illness, a fatphobic comment/insult, and someone telling someone else about a person’s diagnosis.

Also, this book has very explicit and graphic sex scenes. But, like, all of the sex scenes in this book are 11/10. So damn hot, I swear. I have a lot more experience with sex than Stella, but I would happily let Michael teach me a thing or two. *clutches pearls forever* But please use caution if that is something you do not enjoy in your books!

But besides the steamy sex, the beautiful romance, and the lovely messages that are inside this book, my favorite part is that this book never shames Michael for being an escort, and it sure in the hell doesn’t shame Stella for being on the autism spectrum. A lot of other conflicts happen throughout, but those two things are never put in a negative light and it was such a blessing.

And I never expect a fiction book to teach me anything, but this book gave me such a wonderful glimpse and perspective into some people’s autism. (Obviously, I know that no two people are the same!) From overstimulation with lights, sounds, and smells, to the preferred clothing, to focusing everything into one thing, to the importance of schedules, lists, and reminders! This book was really insightful, and I loved that about it.

The importance of consent is always at the forefront of this novel. I think that’s why most people who are reading this right now are so in love with Michael, and it’s because he always is thoughtful and so very patient with Stella. He truly puts her needs first, and makes sure he is never overstepping any line that she is not willing to cross.

And I just loved Stella Lane as a character. She is actually probably my favorite heroine of 2018. Not only does she know who she is, she refuses to change for anyone, even the guy she has fallen in love with. I had happy tears in my eyes so much while reading this, and it was mostly just because I was so proud of her. Michael might be most people’s wet dream, but Stella felt like the character I’ve been searching literature for forever.

“But I want you to know I can handle the truth. If I’m not enough for you, that’s fair and I accept it. I’ll get over you eventually. I don’t want to be coddled or lied to because of what I am. I don’t need your pity friendship”

Overall, this was such a perfect read! I loved this from first to last page, and I couldn’t put it down. Here, I’ll really sell you on how good this book is: Muse of Nightmares, my most anticipated release of 2018, came in the mail while I was reading this book. And you know what I did? I finished The Kiss Quotient before starting it. Seriously, this is a masterpiece. And I can’t wait to see what Helen Hoang does next.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject