Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin (ARC Review)

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Page Count
: 368
Release Date: April 13, 2021

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: racism, Islamophobia, racially motivated hate crimes, loss of a loved one

Hana Khan Carries On releases soon and I cannot wait for everyone to get a chance to read this book. Set in one of my favorite places on this planet (Toronto), the book is a bold romantic comedy playing out in the world of rivaling halal restaurants, but it is also so much more than that. Let me explain!

Hana is a fantastic narrator, which makes sense as she hosts her own podcast and pursues a career in the radio industry. I loved following her thoughts and quarrels from the get go. We quickly learn that she is a South Asian Muslim woman in her twenties and daughter to immigrant parents, who juggles many things in her life even before the real drama starts. While there were always hints at what all this book would ultimately deal with, it starts out with all the makings of a romantic comedy that promises rivals to lovers excellence. There was an immediate attraction and familiarity between Hana and Aydin even when they clashed. They are not afraid to play dirty in order to come out on top, which leads to many a regretful decision. The fire and sparring between them was definitely fun, even when it was easy to guess the big revelation they’d both eventually have to face.

Around the halfway point of the book, the story shifts into something more serious though. As I said, the groundwork for this was laid, because this book was never going to be “just” a romantic comedy. While out with Aydin and her cousin, Rashid (who is visiting from India), Hana encounters a group of hate-filled racists and the situation soon escalates on a much grander scale than she could have ever anticipated. It’s never easy having to come to terms that there are people out there who want to harm you and push you out of a country you were literally born in. It was even more painful when no one came to Hana’s aid (please never be that person when you see someone being attacked. Not doing anything is being complicit), that is until she found the courage to seek refuge in her community.

As much as Hana Khan Carries On is about love and finding your place in the world, it is also about family – the one you are born with and the one you choose. This was an excellent example of how gratifying being part of a community can be and how they can help you through the darkest times. Hana always had to deal with people who were willing to talk over her (a boss using covert racism to undermine her ideas, a co-worker so desperate to fit in that they sold out and a myriad of other characters that show up and will have you wringing your hands not to punch them), but she also had people in her corner willing to go to bat for her and you were right there with them, rooting for her when she found her voice and spoke up. And that’s not an easy thing to do, to stand up to people knowing that it will leave you vulnerable. But she had a life made up of choices, choices she was very grateful to have, and she wanted to make the right ones.

I really loved reading this book and to follow along as Hana uncovers family secrets and finds her voice. I cannot possibly put myself in her shoes, but I was filled with pride and joy at her development regardless. There’s no denying that I would understand if people would rather not be faced with reliving that particular trauma when seeking out a romantic comedy, but I personally appreciated that there was no sugarcoating of racist situations like it happening still. Those parts will never get easier, but we’re not doing anyone a service by ignoring them either.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! An amazing romantic comedy, if you are also prepared for hard-hitting reality.


Would you like to read Hana Khan Carries On? I seem to pick up at least one “You’ve Got Mail”-esque book per year now and I have no regrets! Let’s talk!

The Summer of Broken Rules by K.L. Walther (ARC Review)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Page Count
: 386
Release Date: May 4, 2021

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: loss of a loved one

Sometimes a book comes around and it just sweeps you off your feet. The Summer of Broken Rules was definitely that for me! It’s not easy for a story to be fun as well as moving, but somehow this one struck the perfect balance and just made it an incredibly engaging read.

You meet Meredith and you can easily relate to her. I think anyone who has ever lost someone close to them understands the way you yourself get lost in your grief. Every corner you turn, you see that person and remember how things used to be, but can’t be anymore. The Summer of Broken Rules managed to make this story a beautiful exploration of grief, while also the journey of reemerging from that cloudy haze that comes with loss, without it ever feeling too heavy. I may have shed a tear or two, but I laughed and smiled even more.

From the get go, I was just in love with the setting. I haven’t been on a vacation in forever and definitely have never been to Martha’s Vineyard (it feels like a rich people destination in my head and I cannot explain why?), but I could almost feel the sun on my face, smell the ocean breeze and couldn’t shake that odd feeling when you just know it’s unavoidable to get sand everywhere. Add to that a huge group of relatives and friends, where you sometimes lose track of just how you are related, but you know you are family either way because of the shared bonds and you have captured my heart. At times, I had trouble following the who’s who, but never when it came to the important players.

When it comes to the love story, I thought it was interesting how easily I was swayed by Wit. Many times, I have complained about insta-love and insta-lust, but somehow the connection between Meredith and Wit just felt natural. You basically just follow them through the course of a week, but every interaction felt authentic and made me root for them rather than roll my eyes at their quick attachment.
I’d also like to praise that there was a discussion, albeit brief, about how Meredith tends to latch on to her love interests and detach from her friends as a coping mechanism for her grief. Having scenes with that as a context puts them in a different light and, in this instance, makes them work all the better. With the characters being aware of how fast things are developing and even questioning their behavior, I thought it was refreshing. In the end, it didn’t change how I felt about them though and I was happy to see them grow together through the hurdles they had to overcome.

I can’t say I’ve ever been as competitive or invested in a game as the entire extended Fox family is when it comes to “Assassin”, but what a treat it was to follow them for a week. As serious as they take it, it also created some hilariously brilliant moments and I understand how it became a tradition for them. It’s almost something you’d want to revisit yourself every year to see how everyone was doing, which was why I was so grateful for a little epilogue from the future!

As a final note, this was my first time reading a book by K.L. Walther, but I heard that there are lovely little easter eggs to her previous novel “If We Were Us”. I adore when authors put in those tiny references for readers and it has me very tempted to check out her debut novel.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! Fun and moving – a great summer read along the lines of Morgan Matson books!


Could you see yourself picking up The Summer of Broken Rules? What are some summer reads you enjoyed a lot? Let’s talk!

Thursday Movie Picks – Fake Identity

It’s Thursday and I’m back with a new Thursday Movie Picks feature post. This series is hosted by Wandering through the Shelves and offers you a weekly prompt to post some movie recommendations/talking points according to the theme. Usually, you are supposed to post about 3-5 examples, which I find a very manageable amount.

Today’s topic is Fake Identity! I think it’s fairly obvious what that means? Someone, in that movie, goes by a different identity to their own and to make this list, it should probably be a vital plot point? Let’s see what I got for you! The way I know myself, I don’t think this will be full of crime and/or thrillers though …

She’s the Man

This movie is loosely inspired by William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and involves a lot of misunderstandings in the romance department. The reason I picked it is because Viola loves nothing more than to play soccer and therefore goes to a private school pretending to be her twin brother in order to keep playing and crush her ex’s team, because he didn’t believe in her. I mean, I thought it was pretty obvious that she wasn’t her brother, but it was a funny kinda movie?

Sweet Home Alabama

Sweet Home Alabama sure has flaws, but it also always makes me feel a certain kind of warmth inside when I watch it. Melanie made up a whole different life when she moved to the big city and it obviously came back to bite her in the butt. It all ends well though, so, that is good.

Love at Second Sight

This isn’t so much a fake identity story as it is a lost identity one? It might be cheating to use the movie in that regard, but I still liked it. A man doesn’t appreciate his wife enough and then he experiences a different universe where they never fell in love and how that changed his entire life. He then has to make her fall in love with him again.


If you want a TV show with the theme of fake identity, a bunch of con artists etc, I highly recommend Imposters! You can read a full post on the show here, but just know that it remains one of my all time favourites with impeccable characters all around.


What did you think of my picks? Probably not what you thought of first when it came to that topic, right? Let’s chat!

Thursday Movie Picks – Movies That Haven’t Aged Well

It’s Thursday and I’m back with a new Thursday Movie Picks feature post. This series is hosted by Wandering through the Shelves and offers you a weekly prompt to post some movie recommendations/talking points according to the theme. Usually, you are supposed to post about 3-5 examples, which I find a very manageable amount.

Today’s theme is Movies That Haven’t Aged Well and was suggested by Getter @Mettel Ray, which is another fantastic blog if you are interested in all sorts of TV and movie content. I can really only recommend checking it out! As for the topic at hand, I have no idea if I’ll do well or not. I have a feeling that, if you take a closer look, a lot of movies from the past did not age well and have quite a lot of issues people wouldn’t tolerate these days. I’ll do my best to bring up some good examples, but just know that I know that there are a lot more movies out there that have issues.

American Beauty

This movie always creeped me out, but has won like 5 Academy Awards and was huge back in the day. I know that it’s not the only movie/story about a middle-aged man discovering himself and lusting after much younger/underage girls, but with this one, it’s just especially uncomfortable because of the discoveries about Spacey’s real life on top of everything.

The Breakfast Club

I liked the movie a lot when I first watched it and still think it has iconic scenes, but you really can’t think about a lot of those scenes too much or it will get really troublesome. Molly Ringwald has written her own essay about the matter, detailing why she is not comfortable with some scenes now (e.g. just think about the up-skirt-shot, even though a body double was used at the time, because she was still underage). Read her own words here.

Never Been Kissed

We can acknowledge that an adult made inappropriate remarks to someone they thought were their student and underage, even if that wasn’t the case in the end, right? I don’t want to bash these movies just to bash them, because that’s not the point of this post and Never Been Kissed is not the only movie with that sort of stuff. Even 10 Things I Hate About You had a principal that talked to her students about her erotic novel, which is just as inappropriate.


What are some examples you immediately thought of in terms of movies that didn’t age well? What did you think of the ones I brought up? 

Any Place But Here by Sarah Van Name (ARC Review)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Page Count
: 336
Release Date: May 1, 2021

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: underage drinking

Any Place But Here is my first encounter with Sarah Van Name’s writing and I immediately felt drawn into the world of her characters. You meet June and Jess at an evening that feels like it could be any night of the week for them, beyond tipsy and definitely drunk, just that it’s at a school venue and things are spiraling fast after they get discovered with booze in the bathroom.

After that, no matter what June says, her parents don’t trust her anymore and send her off to live with her grandmother (lovingly called Oma, which is also what I have always called my grandmothers too) to attend an all-girls-school. In the beginning, I struggled a bit with that punishment. I understand the concern of June’s parents and the way they mostly blame it on her “friendship” with Jess, but June is literally a straight A studen and … I come from a country where the legal drinking age is 16, so I always roll my eyes a bit at American laws. Of course, there is a difference between drinking responsibly and just getting wasted and I don’t condone the reckless kind since I’m not much of a drinker myself, but it’s always a bit difficult for me to wrap my head around why it is such a huge deal. I literally had bartending classes at my school when I was 16, but I’m veering off course. This conflict sets up the rest of the novel and does so really well.

Who would want to leave behind everyone they know, including the person they care about most, to live in a town where they know no one and nothing ever happens? I can tell you that the answer is not June.

As we see the world through her eyes, it quickly becomes clear that June’s relationship with Jess was more than “just” a friendship. Whenever she speaks about her, their shared bond seems undeniable, but the longer they spend apart, the harder it becomes. And you also start to wonder what held them together in the first place. Things become even trickier when June’s new friends bring up the question of her sexuality (in an intimate and non-pressure related setting) and June has no real answer for it, especially since she finds herself drawn to one of the new acquaintances. I find it’s not often that bisexuality is explored in young adult books, but I enjoyed the way it was done here.

I have spent my fair share of time away from family and friends and I always felt like I was a different person when I came back. Sometimes I was shocked to see how much had changed in my absence, other times I found myself annoyed with the lack of change in my environment when I felt so utterly different. This book perfectly mirrored my emotions and dealt with how hard it can be to let go or fight to keep someone in your life. It’s always a decision you have to make and sometimes you don’t ultimately get what you want.

When you meet new people that enrich your day to day and you find new hobbies that bring you joy, it can be hard to arrange and combine this with your old life. Things change and so do people. Aside from this beautiful exploration of love and friendship, it was also a great but nonchalant portrayal of family. The messiness of it, but the love that was woven through all decisions really warmed my heart. Even with them being miles apart, June’s younger siblings were always present in her thoughts and the struggle with her parents was so relatable. They always made her feel like she had to compete for their approval, but when she lived with her grandmother she experienced such a different parenting style and through that could actually find things she enjoyed.

Overall, I loved being on this ride with June and seeing her find her own way. It also got me really interested in photography, which I didn’t expect, but hey, maybe I’ll find my own Sam there.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! A great read about changing relationships, family and expectations. Enjoyed it a lot!


I know the release is still a while away, but could you see yourself pick up Any Place But Here? Have you had experiences with toxic relationships? Let’s talk about it!

Thursday Movie Picks – Friends to Lovers

It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for the Thursday Movie Picks feature. This series is hosted by Wandering through the Shelves and offers you a weekly prompt to post some movie recommendations/talking points according to the theme. Usually, you are supposed to post about 3-5 examples, which I find a very manageable amount.

The entirety of February is dedicated to a special Romance Edition, focusing on many, many typical romance tropes and themes. Today is all about Friends to Lovers relationships, something that I consider one of the sweetest tropes. I, personally, would love for my future partner to be one of my best friends first.

Lust for Love

I don’t know if any of you watched the show Dollhouse, but it’s one that I adore and cherish. This movie was kind of the indie movie reunion of that show, at least in my mind, and I loved it every bit for that. Like … do those actors just travel in a pack? Cause I am here for it.

Also, more tuned to the movie, I like a good “help me get the girl”-but-then-I-fall-in-love-with-you-instead story.

Sleeping with Other People

Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis are among their very best in this movie. I love it, it is so much fun – watch it if you haven’t yet!!

What If

I think Zoe Kazan is brilliant and confused Potter is also awesome. I don’t actually have much to say, I think the trailers kinda speak for themselves.

Cavemen

Trust me, this is as cliché as it gets, but I just kind of adore the cast?

When We First Met

I think Shelley Hennig is underrated and should be cast in more movies, especially romantic comedies. Thank you and goodbye.

Honorable Mentions

As per usual, I cannot restrain myself to just 3-5 movies. I always try to pick movies for my actual list that maybe not everyone has seen, but if you want the mainstream stuff and things that just didn’t fit the above list, here are some more:

  • Love, Rosie
  • He’s Just Not That Into You
  • 13 Going on 30
  • Catch and Release (I HAVE SEEN THIS MOVIE SO MANY TIMES AND STILL LOVE IT TO BITS!!!)
  • Something Borrowed
  • Griffin & Phoenix

What are some of your favourite friends to lovers stories in films? I’d love to hear your thoughts on my picks too!

My Year Abroad by Chang-rae Lee (eARC Review)

Publisher: Riverhead Books
Page Count
: 496
Release Date: February 2, 2021

Further synopsis taken from Goodreads:

In the breathtaking, “precise, elliptical prose” that Chang-rae Lee is known for (The New York Times), the narrative alternates between Tiller’s outlandish, mind-boggling year with Pong and the strange, riveting, emotionally complex domestic life that follows it, as Tiller processes what happened to him abroad and what it means for his future. Rich with commentary on Western attitudes, Eastern stereotypes, capitalism, global trade, mental health, parenthood, mentorship, and more, My Year Abroad is also an exploration of the surprising effects of cultural immersion–on a young American in Asia, on a Chinese man in America, and on an unlikely couple hiding out in the suburbs. Tinged at once with humor and darkness, electric with its accumulating surprises and suspense, My Year Abroad is a novel that only Chang-rae Lee could have written, and one that will be read and discussed for years to come.

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: parental abandonment, suicidal ideation, mental illness, forced labor, forced sexual intercourse, sex work

Let’s get it out of the way. Unfortunately, I was not the right reader for this book.

I had been very eager to pick up this novel, because of my own experiences abroad. Be it during my formative High School years or later on in life, every time I went to a different country for a longer period of time, I learned something about the world, about people and most importantly myself. No matter where I stayed, it changed me and taught me valuable lessons. I cherish those experiences and thought it would be a great connection to this story. But no matter how hard I tried, I constantly found myself losing interest.

Told between alternating timelines of now and the adventure that got Tiller to his present situation, I couldn’t always quite make the connection between the different scenarios. I felt that the story was disjointed and didn’t evoke the emotional effect I had hoped for. The journey abroad and its aftermath were so important, yet Tiller doesn’t even leave his country until about 40% into the book.

While everything Tiller describes has a purpose, it’s still hard to follow him as he finds value in situations you wish he had never gotten into. I don’t think anything ever goes smoothly when you set out for something potentially life-changing, but where he found himself along the way was among the worst that could happen. There are some clear themes around parenthood, taking action (which Tiller does very late in the book, mostly being an inactive protagonist who things happen to rather than someone who makes things happen – but that’s all part of the journey!) kinship and the privilege of certain opportunities. And yet, I still couldn’t always grasp the fondness for certain people and experiences I would have rather never thought of ever again, while Tiller had them on the highest of pedestals.

Ultimately, I think that this style of writing just wasn’t for me. I can see many literary fans rejoicing in the details, but I found myself drifting off mid-sentence as the descriptions became ever more elaborate and lengthy. In general, this book was just too long, offering pages of minute details of various foods and drinks or other things, just information on top of information, but not the connection to me as a reader I really sought. I am certain others will be able to appreciate Lee’s craftsmanship and skill more than I could. 

Fazit: 2/5 stars! Unfortunately, My Year Abroad failed to capture me.


Have you spent some time abroad? What was it like for you? Can you see yourself picking up a book like this?

This Is Not a Ghost Story by Andrea Portes (Book Review)

Publisher: HarperTeen
Page Count
: 288

CW: suicidal ideation, depression, mental health decline, grief

When I hear the phrase “this is not a ghost story”, my mind immediately goes to the latest installment of the Haunting series – Bly Manor. So, it came as no surprise when this book was recommended to me as the perfect complimentary read. However, once I started I more and more got Hill House vibes from it (a menacing house working against you, rapidly declining mental health). Then again, it doesn’t seem like either one and yet would fit into the series really well … that is, if you were focusing on just one 17-year-old girl instead of a large ensemble cast. But I digress.

This Is Not a Ghost Story is written in a stream of consciousness/inner monologue style that immediately made Daffodil (the main character and our narrator) endearing to me. She is chaotic, daydreaming, binges conspiracy theory documentaries on Netflix all day and manages to not move from her bed unless strictly necessary. Human contact? Who needs that!?
While I adored her voice, because it helped lighten some of the creepier scenes with a tinge of humour, I could also see a couple people struggling with it. The way I see it is that it’s one of those things that’s either totally your thing or not at all.

As you all well know, I don’t really do horror. OR I mostly only do horror light, so, this worked really well for me. The title already says it, it is not a ghost story. It sure feels like one at times, but there’s a lot more to it that just keeps unraveling and tricking you. This book is for all the people who hear a creepy noise and deliberately ignore it until no longer possible. It’s for all of us who will try to explain away the most illogical and impossible things like there is any kind of rationale to it.

The only thing I am kind of grapple with is the end. It’s not that it doesn’t make sense. It really does, but I am not sure if it feels right? Some have described it as lackluster, which isn’t even my issue with it. I am just uncertain about the involvement of a certain someone in getting Daffodil into this situation in the first place. It just does not sit right with me entirely, but maybe … maybe that is just not for me to understand. As Daffodil said, there’s not yet words for some things you want to say.

In the end, I did pick up a horror-esque book on purpose and … I enjoyed myself! A LOT! I have really ventured out of my comfort zone a little bit this year and I am really proud of that. Maybe this book isn’t perfect, but I am basing this rating on how much it entertained me and I more or less inhaled This Is Not a Ghost Story.

Fazit: 4.5/5 stars! Still trying to come to terms with the ending, but overall I really enjoyed this!


What are we thinking? Would you pick up this book? Let’s talk in the comments!

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar/Max Gladstone (Book Review)

Publisher: Saga Press
Page Count
: 209

I went into this book pretty naive. I thought that if I could grasp movies like Inception (not that it thematically has anything to do with this particular book, I was more thinking in terms of complexity), I’d surely be able to understand This Is How You Lose the Time War. Oh, how foolish a thought of mine!

From the get go, you get plunged into a world or multiple complex interweaving time strings you are not going to be able to comprehend. There is no explanation of this universe. There is no easing you into the matter of Red and Blue (the main characters who tell the stories, partly through letters but also just as you follow their path) and their unique rivalry turned deep connection. You just have to accept prompts such as:

Burn before reading.
Bubble to read.
Every seed is a letter.

When you start out, none of this makes sense. How do you burn a letter and THEN read it? But you soon come to accept that there are words on the page you know, that are familiar, but that don’t make sense in this constellation or context to you. It’s a process that took some time for me to come to terms with and just read like I understood what was going on. But then, Red and Blue aren’t “normal” people/humans. You cannot expect them to operate the way you would and to be confined to our meager options. They are agents of the Garden and the Agency respectively and that means something entirely new and complex again.

But as you go on, dive deeper, it doesn’t have to all seem logical to you. Maybe there is no universal logic that will ever be able to be applied to this novella and that is okay too. It works in its own unique way. I can see a lot of people struggling with it though and it is something to be aware of when you pick up This Is How You Lose the Time War.

What “saved” this book is the sapphic longing that oozed off the pages. It was beautiful and gave this confusing mess a purpose. There is really no other way to put it.

“I love you. I love you. I love you. I’ll write it in waves. In skies. In my heart. You’ll never see, but you will know. I’ll be all the poets, I’ll kill them all and take each one’s place in turn, and every time love’s written in all the strands it will be to you.”

Fazit: 3/5 stars! It makes more sense towards the end, but it’s still utterly confusing in its lyrical beauty.

What is the last read that had you all confused? How important is worldbuilding to you when the focus of the story lies on emotions? Let’s talk!

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams (Book Review)

Publisher: Berkley
Page Count
: 352

A couple of my friends liked this book series and since it kept coming up on my feed, I thought I’d take a look at it as well. This year in general, I came a bit out of my reading comfort zone and tried more romance novels. I’m not sure it’s really my genre, but I found some real gems (thank you Talia Hibbert) and really hoped I’d be able to count the Bromance Book Club among them as well. Unfortunately, the book wasn’t really what I thought it would be.

To make this easier on me (and you?), I decided to just divide this post into two simple lists – what I enjoyed and what I didn’t like about the book!

What I Liked About the Book

  • I generally like settings in the professional sports world, even when it’s just a small component of the world. As much as I avoid all physical activities in real life, there’s just something so enticing to me when it’s in a fictional context. So, Gavin being a professional baseball player was intriguing in my book.
  • This book has some really funny moments! As much as it’s dealing with some serious topics in terms of potential divorce and childhood trauma, it never felt too heavy and knew how to crack those jokes.
  • Gavin has a stutter and I liked that no one tried to cover it up and that his wife was never ashamed of it.
  • Lastly, I adore the actual bromance book club. Those dudes are ridiculous, but they really made me wonder if I, as a woman, could be broken down by the simple guidelines of a romance novel. It was so funny.

What I Didn’t Enjoy About the Book

  • I was so very frustrated with the main characters. I just wanted to shake Thea and yell at her to give her husband a second chance, because he was really trying. And yes, he had hurt her and I understood that her childhood added to the betrayal she felt, but what he did wasn’t that unforgivable … like not even one bit. But not to say that Gavin is perfect, far from it, because the dude needs to learn how to chill and not be so full on all the time … then again, Thea seemed to really like it.
  • It’s a pretty fast paced book, but it still took me until almost the halfway point to really get into it. If I take a break from a story for more than a month and still didn’t really look forward to continuing it, it’s often not the best of signs.

I very much realise that my pros outweigh the cons in number, but while it was an entertaining book in part, the annoyance at the characters (especially Thea) overshadowed it all. As mentioned above, I loved the actual bromance book club part of it and really think there shouldn’t be as much of a stigma on romance books and men should have the support system to talk about their feelings and problems with their friends without judgment.

So, it could be fun for readers who aren’t me, but I also heard that the other books are mostly received better than this one …

Fazit: 2.5/5 stars! Mildly entertaining but not amazing either.


Have you read a book in the Bromance Book Club series too? Would you like me to continue with the books? Let’s talk!