Book Reviews

Book Reviews: Vacation Edition

Hi, friends! Last week I went on vacation and TORE through some books on the beach. Rather than doing separate book review posts on each of them, I decided to review them all in one spot. I also recently started a Bookstagram for this account, @thebookishbronde, so be sure to follow me on there! As always, let me know in the comments in you’ve read any of these and what you think of them 🙂

Book #1: Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan follows several characters and their crazy rich lifestyles (or navigating of others’), but mainly focuses on the love story of Nick and Rachel as they spend the summer in Singapore meeting Nick’s family and attending the most outrageous and glamorous wedding of the year. Rachel has no idea what to expect when she arrives and finds that Nick’s family is far from the homey-type that she thought mirrored her own. And, he is one of Asia’s most sought-after bachelors to boot. Rachel must learn to navigate these complicated dynamics, including winning over Nick’s mother who has more than enough opinions on who her only son marries.

Why I Picked This Book:

Crazy Rich Asians was interesting for me. I loved the movie SO much. The visuals, the costumes, the jewelry- it was all so over the top I wanted to throw myself into the tv just to touch it all. My roommate read the book at the start of quarantine and said I had to give it a shot. It seemed like the perfect beach book, and I was not wrong!

I was so worried that I would not like the book as much as the movie. This was one of the rare instances where I actually saw a movie/show prior to reading! However, I was pleasantly surprised with the differences.

Honest Review: SPOILERS AHEAD!

The descriptions of the opulence and lavish wealth had my imagination going wild- it’s clear that Kevin Kwan knows how to write! I also really enjoyed reading from Nick’s perspective, since so much of the movie focuses on Rachel. And, I felt like Astrid had so much more character development and wisdom in the book than the movie made time for. (Justice for Astrid!!!!!) But… I was a little disappointed in how romanticized the movie was in comparison to the book. I think the book had more substance. If you didn’t follow my earlier spoiler warning, stop reading here:

I was so surprised about Nick’s planned proposal at the house in Malaysia that was thwarted by his family. The movie totally cut that out, and I can’t imagine why! That level of romanticism from Nick seems somewhat lacking in the movie and I can’t believe they decided to write in him walking on the plane and proposing just for romcom/movie wrap-up’s sake. I liked book Nick way better. As I was reading, I was expecting Rachel to leave and Nick to run up and propose on the airplane. However, the book leaves so much unanswered (presumably because there’s a whole series and they wanted to wrap the movie up nicely) and personally, I LOVED that more. It made me want to keep reading- which I am definitely planning to do.

Again, justice for Astrid. Her husband has a different storyline in the book and the way her character is written in the book is just so much better than the movie. Sorry not sorry. Also, wish we had more Charlie in the movie.

Also, can we talk about Rachel’s father and that whole thing? Because that storyline is SO different than the movie. I’m really interested to see if the book’s version continues to play out in the series or if it never gets mentioned again.

The Bookish Bronde Rating of Crazy Rich Asians:

All in all, I give this 3.5 out of 5 stars. The writing sent me into a dream world where I imagined precious gems and flowing ballgowns and the most extravagant weddings money could buy. I don’t think it’s the absolute best book I’ve ever read. Will I continue the series? Absolutely. It’s a great beach read and I would totally recommend to a friend!

Book #2: Beach Read

Augustus and January could not be more different. The only thing they have in common is that they both write for a living and they happen to be neighbors for the time being. January moves in to the beach house following the death of her father, trying to unravel the secrets he left behind AND write the next great romance of the century. Augustus is full of mystery and confidence and is definitely NOT a romance writer. When the two strike a bet to switch their genres to escape creative ruts, there is no turning back. First one to sell their new novel wins it all. January promises not to fall in love with Gus, but can she really handle it with everything else she’s got going on?

Why I Picked This Book:

Beach Read by Emily Henry was on all of the summer reading lists this year. What could be better than reading an actual beach read, called Beach Read, on the beach?!

Honest Review: SPOILERS AHEAD!

Beach Read started out really slow for me. I did not love the way the dialogue flowed for probably the first third of the book. TBH, I was almost ready to stop reading it but then I remembered I left my iPad at home and had nothing else to read at the beach.

BUT I am so glad I kept going because I LOVED Beach Read. This book ended up being a fantastic romance. Emily Henry’s description of the sexual tension between January and Gus… oh my. I think the banter between Gus and January is what finally grew on me and allowed me to fully enjoy the book. By the end, I could not help but root for them. And come on, (SPOILER) who doesn’t dream of dancing in the rain with the person that they love!

Perhaps the beginning was a bit slow to grab me, but once it took off boy did it take off. I also felt strangely moved by January’s reactions to her fathers’ letters. Maybe I’m just a daddy’s girl at heart, though.

And Gus. Oh Gus. His story is written in classic “I’m trying to break your heart” fashion. It works. Heart=broken. But also, both characters had equal development, which I greatly appreciated. AND LGBTQ+ character! That proposal! Acceptance of a fathers’ sins! Learning new strengths! Trying new things! Supportive best friends! *Chef’s kiss*

The Bookish Bronde Rating of Beach Read:

Four out of five stars for me on this one! I was pleasantly surprised by the character growth, depth, and romanticism of this story. Truly a perfect beach read. I am so glad I stuck through it because I am team Gus and January through and through!

Book #3: Dear Edward

Edward Adler is the sole survivor of a plane crash. 183 others, including his parents and brother, perished in the crash. Dear Edward bounces between Edward’s current day life to the day, hours, and moments of the crash that changed his life forever. When Edward is taken in by his aunt and uncle following the crash, he makes a shocking discovery that helps him find his purpose when he felt stuck in the sky.

Why I Picked This Book:

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano came up on my GoodReads as a suggested novel. It was available on the Libby app (not sponsored or anything, I just LOVE this app!) so I downloaded it to my iPad at the start of vacation in case I needed it.

Honest Review: SPOILERS AHEAD!

Other than making me NOT want to fly, this book was a dream. I loved the way the book flipped between Edward’s present-day life and the day/hours/moments of the crash. The book explores so many different people- you’ve got your typical Wall Street man, a gorgeous stewardess, an army man struggling with his sexuality, over protective parents, people searching for love, and so much more.

I found Lacey and John’s protectiveness over Edward to be somewhat annoying, but overall understanding because they literally inherited a 12 year old and lost the rest of their family while struggling to start their own. Personally, I found the best part of the book to be Shay. I loved her bluntness and knew from the start (SPOILER!) that she and Edward would end up together. Additionally, I found myself actively crying every few pages. Ann Napolitano perfectly captures the emotions of a broken heart, a changed life, and emotional trauma.

Obviously it’s powerful when (spoiler) Edward finds the letters. I loved the way the letters connected back to the characters we got to see on the plane and well beyond that. And it’s beautiful to see the support he has from his new family, from Shay, from his doctors, from his principal. Ann perfectly captures his emotional growth and maturity as the years go on, and I found myself wishing for more pages to make sure the poor boy made it through college.

The Bookish Bronde Rating of Dear Edward:

Another 4 out of 5 stars for me on this one! Dear Edward was raw, emotional, and beautiful. It was a fairly quick read and differed from the typical YA/coming of age story that I am used to. I personally found the book to be beautiful, but I would caution those who are already nervous while flying. There’s a lot of description regarding the crash.

Book #4: Untamed

While at an event promoting her book, Glennon Doyle locks eyes with soccer legend Abby Wambach and the rest is history. To honor her “Knowing” Glennon shifts and rebuilds her entire life based on her true self. A self that is free to love who she wants to love, a self that is brave, a self that raises conscious and wonderful children. A self that is untamed.

Why I Picked This Book:

Untamed by Glennon Doyle has been on my TBR list for a long time. I am a big USWNT fan and have followed her and Abby for quite a while. While I have not read any of Glennon’s other work, I really wanted to start with this one since everyone was talking about it this summer. And how gorgeous is the cover art?!

Honest Review: SPOILERS AHEAD!

Do you wish to unlock your true, authentic self? Do you want to live your most true and beautiful and authentic life? READ THIS BOOK. Written in short essays split into chapters, Untamed is grounding, lovely, beautiful, wonderful, honest, and everything in between.

I am ALL about finding my wild. I want to be as untamed as G. (Do you mind if I call you G? I feel like we are already friends.) I fully believe that women are caged by society’s expectations- and that their are false expectations for men as well. This book addresses EVERYTHING I expected it to and more.

It is more than a memoir. It is lesson after lesson about sexuality, self worth, parenting, happy living, marriage, friendships, careers, racism, societal expectations, anxiety, anger… am I forgetting anything?! I definitely am because this book DOES. IT. ALL. Everything Glennon wrote, I felt like I needed to hear. While I might not identify with every aspect of Glennon’s lived experiences, I left this book feeling inspired.

The Bookish Bronde Rating of Untamed:

Five out of five. Is my glowing review not enough to convince you to pick up a copy of Untamed? PS follow Glennon Doyle on Instagram and Twitter. I promise you won’t regret it.