About Hannah

I'm a 20-something Gemini living in central Ontario, Canada. I love love and being involved in my community, reading, playing the piano and flute, and watching too many movies/tv shows to admit

Leah on the Offbeat

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Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

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Leah on the Offbeat is set in the same universe as award winning book, Simon Vs. The Homosapien Agenda. It takes place roughly a year following the conclusion of Simon and is told from the perspective of Leah.

Leah and gang are in the twelfth grade and trying to navigate the transition to university, relationship drama and changing friendships.

This book is very high school. I stopped reading it around 15% in, because I couldn’t stand the teenage drama and hysterics. For fans of YA it might be great, but there was so much more drama than in Simon Vs. The Homosapien Agenda, which was already at my limit.

I did not enjoy this book but you may love it if you can overlook juvenile protagonists, maybe it will be a hit for you.

DNF

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Twisted (Zeta Cartel #5)

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Persia York has the face of an angel and a reputation that’s pure gutter but she will do anything for her family. Forced into debt-slavery to save her brother, things aren’t what they seem. No matter how hard she works, Persia can’t free herself. Worse, she publicly disses Jorge Santos, the leader of the Zeta cartel, and is catapulted into a turf war. Abducted and a helpless captive of the deadly drug lord, Persia decides she’s had enough. It’s time to fight back.

Dangerous, devious Jorge Santos doesn’t take shit from anyone. When a meeting with a rival turns ugly, Jorge goes to war. Determined on destruction, his first step is to abduct his enemy’s most prized possession, the beautiful but mouthy Persia York. But Jorge soon learns his victim is not as easy to break as he thought and to his shock, he falls for his adversary’s woman. As the war heats up, the cartel boss is forced to make decisions that may cost him his life – and his love.

A ruthless man on a quest to win no matter what it takes.
A woman intent on holding her own, even if it destroys her.

Twisted is a compelling tale of vengeance, murder, cartel violence and finding love in the darkest of times.

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Twisted is the latest cartel novel from author A.J. Adams and it has skyrocketed to one of my favourites in this series. Something about Jorge and Persia just melted my heart.

This novel takes place in England, where the cartel is establishing a foothold, under Jorge. He and Persia start off as enemies – mostly due to a series of misunderstandings – and he kidnaps her to get revenge and gain leverage on her “lover”. Little does he know how much of an asset she would be if he would only work with her and not against her!

This novel is billed as containing graphic violence and dubious consent. The violence isn’t all that graphic compared to previous books in this series. I doubt it would bother anyone accustomed to reading thrillers or dark romance. The dubious consent scene is in the first 25% of the book, and the remaining scenes are entirely consensual from that point forward.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and highly recommend it, but readers will definitely get more out of it if you have read the series. That being said, it could be read as a standalone.

Twisted is one of those books that I am already eager to go back and start reading again. Hopefully you love it as much as I did!

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On The Basis of Sex (2018)

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On the Basis of Sex is a drama based on the life and earlier career of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It is obviously based on a true story and quite an interesting one, as she fought the federal government for legal equality of the sexes.

You can watch the trailer here.

This trailer touches upon the first two decades or so of her career, beginning with her training as a lawyer at Harvard Law School. It also includes her family, particularly that of the late Martin Ginsburg, also a lawyer.

The film begins to take place in the 1950s, but the majority of it is during the 70s … as evidenced by the clothes below.

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I learned a lot about Justice Ginsburg in this film and found it very interesting. It is billed as a drama, but I personally found it to be more of a docu-drama style. It didn’t feel like it was heavily sensationalized, as most dramas tend to do.

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I would recommend this movie, but I don’t know if it is one that I could watch over and over.

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The Hate U Give (film)

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The Hate U Give was released in 2018 and it is based on the award winning best-seller of the same name.

I read this book a few months ago and decided to watch the movie, which I had heard from others was also amazing. I think that the producers and cast did an amazing job of adapting this book, especially since they began the process long before the book was released.

I totally bought all of the actors who were betraying these beloved characters. Starr’s father and King were not as I imagined them, but this didn’t take away from my movie experience at all.

I did feel like the ending was rushed, and not as true to the books. Understandably, sections of the book will always need to be removed for film, but I felt that they altered the ending too much, and in ways I did not agree with.

Otherwise though, I really enjoyed this movie and will definitely watch it again. It wasn’t nearly the tear-jerker that I was expecting, but maybe I got all my tears out through the book.

Watch the trailer here.

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I would love to watch a film adaptation of Angie Thomas’ book On The Come Up one day as well, but so far, no news has been released on its production.

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I Will Not Beg (Mountain Masters and Dark Haven #9)

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She signed away her freedom…

Starved for affection, young Piper Delaney surrenders her life to a Master. But there is no love—only abuse. She’s told she can’t leave; she signed the slave contract. Years later, beaten and starving, she hears an English Dom say the contract’s illegal. Unenforceable. And she runs.

She reclaims her life and rises above the nightmare that was her past.

But her enslavement left scars. She longs for love, but the only men who truly attract her also terrify her–Dominants. Hoping to conquer her fears, she visits Dark Haven, but the sounds of the club are too much.

When a submissive panics, Sir Ethan steps in.

The powerful English Dom recognizes the shivering submissive in his lap. Years before, he’d corrected her Master’s deceit about a contract. She’s come a long way since then. Cynical at being pursued for his wealth, he finds Piper’s honesty compelling. She’s intelligent, brave…and she needs him. What Dom could resist?

He’s the Dom she’d dreamed about—perceptive, firm, and utterly self-confident.

His voice pulls her from panic attacks. His arms enclose her in safety. He treats her like a person, not something to mistreat. As he helps Piper overcome her fears, she starts to fall in love.

Then her past finds her and destroys…everything.

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While reading I Will Not Beg, I kept trying to delay the story because I didn’t want the book to end. I guess that is just as much a mark of a good book as one you can’t put down!

Piper and Ethan have a slow burn romance compared to many of the couples in Ms. Sinclair’s books, which was necessary due to the heroine’s backstory. There is no sex until about halfway through the book. Ethan is extremely patient and forgiving, more so even than many of the previous Doms Ms. Sinclair has written about. I swear he is a saint. Just a saint with a penchant for kinky sex.

Piper is very brave to have come so far from where she was in the prologue, especially without any family or close friends in her support network and after just five years. She started her own successful business, overcame so much of the abuse, and worked her way out of a homeless shelter.

I loved regular updates on Dixon and Stan through I Will Not Beg. This couple didn’t get their own book, and Stan in particular was a bit of a question mark. If the author ever changes her mind and writes their M/m book, I would read it in a heartbeat.

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The Huntress (Kate Quinn)

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From the author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling novel, The Alice Network, comes another fascinating historical novel about a battle-haunted English journalist and a Russian female bomber pilot who join forces to track the Huntress, a Nazi war criminal gone to ground in America.

In the aftermath of war, the hunter becomes the hunted…

Bold, reckless Nina Markova grows up on the icy edge of Soviet Russia, dreaming of flight and fearing nothing. When the tide of war sweeps over her homeland, she gambles everything to join the infamous Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on Hitler’s eastern front. But when she is downed behind enemy lines and thrown across the path of a lethal Nazi murderess known as the Huntress, Nina must use all her wits to survive.

British war correspondent Ian Graham has witnessed the horrors of war from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg Trials. He abandons journalism after the war to become a Nazi hunter, yet one target eludes him: the Huntress. Fierce, disciplined Ian must join forces with brazen, cocksure Nina, the only witness to escape the Huntress alive. But a shared secret could derail their mission, unless Ian and Nina force themselves to confront it.

Seventeen-year-old Jordan McBride grows up in post WWII Boston, determined despite family opposition to become a photographer. At first delighted when her long-widowed father brings home a fiancée, Jordan grows increasingly disquieted by the soft-spoken German widow who seems to be hiding something. Armed only with her camera and her wits, Jordan delves into her new stepmother’s past and slowly realizes there are mysteries buried deep in her family. But Jordan’s search for the truth may threaten all she holds dear.

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The Huntress is one of the best books I have ever come across.

It is an absolute Must. Listen. To. The narrator, Saskia Maarleveld, does a fantastic job of performing many accents and different characters’ voices, both male and female. Maarleveld is the same narrator who performed The Alice Network, also written by Kate Quinn. Throughout the story, there are certain words repeated that are in various languages and to hear them pronounced in Russian, German and Polish is an enriching experience. I believe that the listener will get so much more out of this story by listening to it, rather than trying to read words in a foreign language throughout the book.

Words I have learned while listening to The Huntress

Rusalka (Russian)

Die Jägerin…. the Huntress (German)

Nachthexen … nightwitches (German)

From the beginning of the book I expected the plot to take a certain path based off of the initial information and cover blurb, but there are so many twists and turns that I did not expect. Each time I thought this is where character x dies, or where Nina meets The Huntress, I am wrong. It kept me guessing to the end.

There is a somewhat similar style of how the story unfolds between this book and The Alice Network. On its face, these look like fairly similar tales, but this book is so much more intricately woven, with more layers in The Huntress.

Could Anna really be Die Jägerin? She seems to genuinely like Jordan even though we know she is playing a role. Throughout the tale, I constantly asked myself, Can any one person be completely evil? Is evil incapable of loving anyone?

Kate Quinn is a superb writer who was able to make me feel sympathy for a war criminal.

I highly recommend The Huntress, especially if you choose the audiobook. I could not put it down.

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Luca Vitiello (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles #0.5)

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I was born a monster. Cruelty ran in my veins like poison. It ran in the veins of every Vitiello man, passed on from father to son, an endless spiral of monstrosity. A born monster shaped into an even worse monster by my father’s blade and fists and harsh words. I was raised to become Capo, to rule without mercy, to dish out brutality without a second thought.

Raised to break others.

When Aria was given to me in marriage, everyone waited with baited breath to see how fast I’d break her like my father broke his women. How I’d crush her innocence and kindness with the force of my cruelty. Breaking her would have taken little effort. It came naturally to me. I was gladly the monster everyone feared. Until her.

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Luca Vitiello is the retelling of Bound by Honor from Luca’s perspective. It is a full length novel from author Cora Reilly, but it does retell stories mostly already known by fans. I found that reading this one made me a little more sympathetic to Luca during his stupid moments.

There are a few new scenes from Luca’s POV, especially several from his childhood and induction into NY mafia.

I got the sense that if Luca and Dante were not from separate (warring) mafia families, they might have made good friends.

If you are looking for a brand new story by Cora Reilly, this would be a book to skip, but it is a fun addition to the series if you are Team Luca.

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Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

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Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

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Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a YA book that I have been hearing a lot about the past few years. Last year there was a movie released based off of this bestseller, re-titled Love, Simon. I didn’t realize when I checked out the audiobook that I was reading a book about an LGBTQ character during PRIDE month, but that makes it an extremely timely review to post.

During the course of the book, I became extremely invested in the lives of these characters, including both Simon and his friends. I was constantly guessing as to who “Blue” was. There were a few times I rolled my eyes at some of the more teenager behaviour and drama, but the pace of the book is quick enough that the plot doesn’t become embroiled in high school.

The relationship between Simon and Blue unfolds over the course of half a year. It was sweet to watch friendship and then romance develop, based completely on personality and not looks, cliques, or popularity.

The audiobook is slightly less than 7 hours, awesome for getting through quickly. I was able to listen to the book in two days. The narrator’s voice is smooth and easy to listen to.

I plan to pick up the sequel, Leah on the Offbeat soon, and listening to it as well.

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A Tribe Called Bliss (Lori Harder)

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Lori Harder is a self-love expert with over one million listeners on her Earn Your Happy podcast. In A Tribe Called Bliss she shares the exact structure she used to build her own tribe and grow from the anxiety ridden, unhealthy, introverted underachiever she was to the confident woman who takes risks and leaps out of her comfort zone, with a foreword from #1 New York Times bestselling author Gabrielle Bernstein.

The benefits of a having a tribe are undeniable. Women who have strong social circles are living longer, happier, healthier lives in comparison to those who lack connections and are mentally and physically exhausting themselves trying to quench external desires in isolation.

Today, we live in an uber-connected era, where anyone is able to make thousands of friends and participate in their lives with the swipe of a finger. Why then, in such a connected time in history, do so many women feel disconnected, confined, misunderstood, defeated, or think that success is a solo project?

In A Tribe Called Bliss Lori Harder bridges the gap between inspiration and action, providing a lasting resource for positive change and a guidebook for establishing a support tribe. This practical book is for the growing audience of woman seeking the sisterhood and connection they crave so much. It encourages readers to examine life on a micro level, and Lori provides lessons and contextual self-work exercises on how to develop the kind of awareness of the present moment that is the key to a lifetime of blissful happiness.

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I listed to this book on my phone, but I think it is definitely better suited for reading a physical copy instead. If I ever reread it, I will definitely go that route.

Much of the book is written as an easy-to-understand guide to forming your own girl tribe with 2 or 3 other women. As such, when listening to the book, it can come across as an instructional manual. Also, the author gives you assignments throughout the book that would be impossible to do without sitting down and thinking about them a bit … not ideal when you are listening to a book at work, or while driving.

A Tribe Called Bliss is written from a religious point of view. The author does reference God and prayer multiple times. If you are not a Christian, this may turn you off, but she does also mention that when she refers to God, you can think of any deity/angel/higher power that is appropriate for you.  The “religious-speak” is not overwhelming and I would encourage you to still give the book a go.

One of the lessons that I will take away with me is the idea to not keep yourself small. Harder recommends keeping a small list of people whose opinions matter to you on your person or in your purse, and when criticism is coming your way, reflect back on it. I reflected on who would be on my list, and it isn’t very long. More to the point, there was a lot of baggage that I have been carrying around from people who are definitely not on the list. Deep breaths … and let it go.

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