The Girls I've Been, The Charm Offensive, and The Verifiers (TBR.co Review)
WHAT IS TBR.co (TAILORED BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS)?/HOW I FOUND IT
I was introduced to this service by one of my favorite Youtubers, Kayla from BooksandLala. Essentially, you fill out a survey about your favorite books and what you like/look for in books, etc. They then match you with a bibliologist who recommends you three or four books to read. I want to stress that I am a paying customer just like everyone else, so you can be assured that my reviews of the books I was recommended are not at all biased.
1. The Girls I've Been by Tess Sharpe (YA Mystery)
WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT:
Nora is the daughter of a con artist. Her mother used her as a part of her many cons growing up. Nora, her girlfriend Iris, and her ex-boyfriend Wes are caught in the midst of a bank robbery. It's up to Nora to use what she's learned to get them all out alive.
This novel was a perfect recommendation for me because it has everything I like all in one book. There are morally grey characters, mixed media elements, and found family themes. The atmosphere is tension filled, dangerous, and uncertain in a way that leads you wanting to know what happens next. The real thing that cinches this as an incredible novel, however, are the main trio of Nora, Wes, and Iris. I liked all of them individually and together. Nora and Iris are well matched as both are strong, resourceful women. Something worthy of note is that Iris has endometriosis. I've never read a book with a character who suffers with that condition, but I am always happy to see representation in books. Wes, meanwhile, is a sweetheart who represents safety and comfort for Nora. Together they have a truly unique dynamic which is, thank the heavens, not a love triangle. The messy mixture of love and hurt the three share is what elevates this novel from a great thriller to an exceptional, emotional novel. The only reason I couldn't quite give it 5 stars was because there were a couple of things that were glossed over that I really wanted/needed the details of. I won't reveal what they are because I don't want to spoil anything.
FINAL RATING: 4.5⭐️
2. The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun (Adult Romance)
WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT:
Charlie lost his prestigious tech job after having a breakdown. To redeem his image he becomes the 'prince' on a fairy tale show based on The Bachelor. Instead of finding his princess, however, he falls for his producer, Dev.
This is the most emotional I've been reading a book in a long while. I suffer from an anxiety and panic disorder as well as clinical depression. I mention this here because both the protagonists have the same mental illnesses as I do. Charlie has anxiety and panic disorder and Dev has depression. While I am not defined by my mental illnesses I am insecure about dating with them. I have this fear that I am unlovable and people will get tired of dealing with my struggles. So, getting to read the love story of these characters who I can see myself in meant so much to me. People like myself deserve to have these love stories just as much as those sans mental illness do. Charlie and Dev have plenty of passionate and dramatic romantic moments that made me swoon. However, it was the scenes of Dev helping Charlie through his panic attacks and Charlie staying with Dev when he was too depressed to leave his bed that truly touched my heart. The idea of a man going on a reality dating show to redeem his reputation is a tad questionable, but it doesn't take away from how beautiful and meaningful this book was.
FINAL RATING: 4.75⭐️
3. The Verifiers by Jane Pek (Adult Mystery)
WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT:
Claudia Lin works for a company that investigates the dates people meet on apps. When one of her clients winds up dead, Claudia decides to do some sleuthing to find out what happened.
This book is primarily about the mystery of Iris' death, but it slips in a little family drama in there. There was so much that could have been further explored in terms of the family relationships (especially the way Claudia's mother treated her verses her siblings and Claudia's sexuality and how those effected the family unit). There's enough meat within the Lin family alone to fill a whole novel. I wish we'd gotten more of them. This novel also has some very interesting commentary on the internet and how, while being a convenient and helpful tool, it can also be used in more secretive and nefarious ways. The mystery investigation parts of this story were hilarious, Claudia often made her moves based on her favorite fictional detective (Investigator Yuan) which is something I would do (not that I'd ever try and track down a murderer). She got herself into all kinds of mischief and the writing was such that I felt like I was her sidekick investigating alongside her. I didn't really have any theories about who the murderer was. Claudia was so convinced in her beliefs that I myself became convinced of everyone she suspected. I definitely feel proud when I figure out the culprit before the reveals in mysteries, but sometimes it's even more enjoyable to just be along for the ride.
FINAL RATING: 4⭐️
This was definitely my most successful round of recommendations to date. I very much appreciate the bibliologist giving me three books with LGBT+ representation because that is something I specifically requested (this set came right before pride month). I enjoy using this service because it's a fun surprise every time and it introduces me to new authors.. Still, I think if you know your reading tastes well enough then this service is not necessary. That being said, the price is very reasonable and it's just a treat I always look forward to arriving.