Contemporary Books | Mini Reviews

I’m back with some mini reviews! I’ve written so many reviews lately that my brain has become kind of mush and I didn’t a break from writing my lengthy reviews. I have also been reading so much contemporary so I figured I could mush three books I had differing feelings about into one post. It seemed like a smart way to go.

So buckle up folks because I’m about to review To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin, Sweet Filthy Boy by Christina Lauren and Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman.


| Goodreads |

Trigger Warnings: panic attacks, anxiety disorder, fatphobic comments, eating disorder mentions

I picked up To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin based purely on Destiny @ Howling Libraries review. I typically do pick up books if Destiny adores them and she has never led me wrong. To be Honest is a perfect example of that. This story is fluffy and sweet and truly doesn’t try too hard at all.

Savannah is a fat girl and her mother hates it. Her mother went on one of those reality shows where they push you to lose weight in a short amount of time six months ago and came home a completely different woman. The way she treats Savannah is honestly disgusting. I don’t even have words. The relationship between them is interesting and heartbreaking.

There are so many different elements to this story and so many complicated relationships. Savannah has a complicated relationship with her mother and father but all her friends around her are incredibly supportive. Especially when it comes to the panic attacks she experiences throughout this novel (which were incredibly well done). The other thing I loved about this book was that Savannah and her best friend Grace are school journalists and throughout the book undergo an investigation of the differences in the sports teams treatments at their school – particularly the girls and boys teams. I would have liked this to be a bit more central to the plot, but that is really just because I’m studying journalism at university.

The romance was also incredibly sweet. George and Savannah are such an adorable couple. I just couldn’t stop myself from smiling the whole way through. It really does make you feel giggly and the fact that the relationship grows over the book was so important.

I do wish this story had been a little longer, but overall To Be Honest is an amazing read that features an important story about body positivity. If you want to read more about this book I highly recommend heading over to Destiny’s review. She is so well spoken and her review is incredible.


| Goodreads |

Trigger Warnings: mentions of cheating

Sweet Filthy Boy by Christina Lauren is one of those titles that you just cringe at. The story inside is thankfully better. This was a fun, quick read that I managed to get through in one sitting. I was procrastinating yelling at the members in my group assignment (long since passed by the time I post these mini reviews) and managed to read 385 pages, oops. This is story is a whirlwind of emotion and sex. There is chemistry between the characters but I did have some problems throughout this story.

I really think that Sweet Filthy Boy struggled with the fact that the characters didn’t ever really get to know each other. A drunken adventure leads to Mia and Ansel getting married in Vegas the same night they meet. Less than two days later Mia is on a plane to France with him to escape her overbearing father and to get away from her business school plans. However, in this time period Ansel and Mia really don’t talk. Ansel works a lot, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that when they do spend time together it’s usually having sex. I don’t have any problem with that but I really just wanted more of a connection between the characters. There was chemistry, yes, but no connection. Though this also connects with my dislike for the fact it took a male to make Mia change her life. It would have been nice if she had realised this herself.

My other problem with this story was that the beginning was really confusing. The authors threw six characters in a scene when no one even had a voice yet. I had to re-read parts several times to even get an idea of what was actually happening. It was incredibly frustrating.

The best thing about Sweet Filthy Boy was the atmosphere of Paris. The city sounded absolutely beautiful and Christina Lauren did interweave it into the story well. I would have liked more of it in the story, but what we got was incredibly nice.

Overall, this was a fun story. If you are going to read it don’t expect too much substance. Not a lot happens and then you get a shit tonne of drama thrown in at the end that is resolved way too quickly.


| Goodreads|

Trigger Warnings: emotional abuse, emotional manipulation, sexual abuse, cheating mentions, anxiety, social anxiety, suicide attempt from side character

Unlike the other books in this review Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman is not a fluffy or light read. This book dives into what it’s like to reject half of yourself, the beauty standards and having a narcissistic parent who emotionally abuses you. I really have an unpopular opinion with Starfish, but I couldn’t get into the story and I had a big problem with it.

Kiko does everything to get away from her mum, but she also can’t help but want to make her happy and get recognition. Kiko’s only plan is to get into art school and move far away. When she doesn’t get into art school that dream is squashed. She doesn’t know what to do. The situation only gets worse when her abusive uncle moves into the house, her mother ignoring her pleas to kick him out. An old best friend in town gives Kiko the out she needs: go to California for the summer and visit art schools. Just get away for the summer and have a good time. California really does free Kiko and she grows in her art, however she is stil shackled to her mother and there is so much going on at home that she can’t break free just yet.

Here are some reviews talking about the biracial elements of this book. I won’t be speaking on this topic because I don’t feel as if I am educated enough to.

One, two, three.

My biggest problem with Starfish was the romance. The romance between Kiko and Jamie didn’t feel like it worked. Jamie was repeatedly embarrassed by Kiko in the plot. Several times when she is anxious he gets annoyed at her. I understand that it can be frustrating when someone has anxiety but he has exactly zero patience for what she is going through at any point in time. Not only that but it is very clear that the romance in the book is the healing factor for Kiko. I get that maybe the author wanted it to seem as if he allowed Kiko to learn the love she deserved but it did not come across that way at all. Jamie rubbed me the wrong way several times too. A few of his actions sent red flags up to me and I wanted Kiko to run far away from him. I don’t understand the relationship dynamic at all. I thought maybe it was going to show that Kiko found herself in an iffy relationship and had to get out of it too.

The relationship between Kiko and her siblings was incredibly realistic though. The three of them have all experienced their mothers abuse and that does not always drive families together. In fact it can drive families incredibly far apart.I appreciated that little bit of representation.

Overall, Starfish does have some important elements to it. The discussions on beauty standards and the overall acceptance of identity from Kiko was interesting. It was just the other theme in the book that wasn’t sitting well with me. I would still recommend this book, but just ignore the romance.

3 thoughts on “Contemporary Books | Mini Reviews

  1. Love your review of Sweet Filthy Boy, I felt the exact same way when I read it. The characters didn’t connect with each other, they just had sex, so I didn’t really care about their relationship. I really want to read To Be Honest sometime soon. Great reviews!


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