Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January Wrap Up

Hello! Well, we made it through the first month of the year and honestly...how?? I can't believe it's already February (yes, I know we all say that every month). Hope everyone is taking care of themselves, mentally as well as physically.

I actually had a pretty good reading month because I was cramming as much as I could before school started. Believe me, the rest of the year will not look like this. I think I read a good variety, and even got a few nonfiction in there, which I am always trying to read more of.

5-Star Reads: A Closed and Common Orbit
Other Notable Favorites: The Memoirs of Lady Trent Series, The Rise of the Rocket Girls, We Should All Be Feminists, Station Eleven
Nonfiction: Rise of the Rocket Girls, How's Your Soul, We Should All Be Feminists, Feminist Theory

So back in July, I stopped giving star reviews to non-review books (with the exception of 5-star reads, because those deserve it). But starting in 2017, I am also not giving star ratings to review books as well. Hopefully my review does an adequate job of telling you whether or not I liked it, and if you will too. Idk, I just started to find star ratings so...arbitrary and meaningless.

Music: I actually have an old favorite this month. For some reason, I got back into older Relient K music and have not stopped listening to Mhmm and Apathetic EP.
Movie: I saw Hidden Figures this month and I AM STILL NOT OVER THIS MOVIE OKAY
TV: I binged all 7 seasons of Parks and Recreation and OMG YOU GUYS this show I love it so much and I'm not sure what to do with my life now. 

Hope everyone had a lovely January. Keep fighting the good fight, y'all.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Sun is Also a Star {by Nicola Yoon}

Title: The Sun is Also a Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Genre: YA Contemporary
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: publisher

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

I loved Nicola Yoon's debut, and I'm so glad to say that I enjoyed this one so much as well. I don't think I enjoyed it more than Everything, Everything but enough to solidify Yoon as an auto-read author for me. While the book was a quick read (for me, mostly because I devoured it in one night) it was still a deep and complex story.

Characters: One thing about Nicola Yoon is that she always writes great characters. We have Natasha: factual, scientific, no nonsense. Then we have Daniel: poet, dreamer. Both voices were unique and different. Sometimes dual POVs have a tendency to sound alike, but Daniel and Natasha were different enough that I could always tell who I was reading. Both characters are children of immigrants. Daniel is struggling under the high expectations of his parents for his future. Natasha is trying to prevent her family from getting deported. As a child of immigrants myself, I felt that I could relate to them. It was so great to see some of my experiences (realistically) on page. I related to both Natasha and Daniel in different ways, and while you may not agree or like some of their decisions, it is easy to see where they are coming from.

Writing: Nicola's writing was beautiful in this story as well. Lyrical and attention-grabbing, even while keeping the differences between scientific Natasha and artistic Daniel. In this story, we also get POVs from all sorts of different people (and even a few objects) and while I know some people did not like those, I did. It was an interesting choice, but added a lot to the story. Sometimes we don't think of the background characters, the ones we only pass by, or have the tiniest interaction with, and it was interesting to get these little snippets from them as well.

Plot: The story takes place over the course of one day. I'm not the hugest fan of insta-love, but this seemed extreme. There were a few plot things I didn't like, but I was mostly able to ignore that for the characters. I guess if over-the-top romances are your thing, then you will like this. But this book tackled a lot of big issues too - racism, immigration, even religion.

In the end, this was a wonderfully complex, deep, even emotional book that I would definitely recommend.

Nicola Yoon:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | tumblr | Goodreads

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

History is All You Left Me {by Adam Silvera}

 History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Title: History is All You Left Me
Author: Adam Silvera
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Genre: YA Contemporary
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: Edelweiss

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.
To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.
If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

If you are looking for an author that will break your heart, look no further than Adam Silvera. I loved his first novel, and this was no different. It was wholly complex, sad, but in the end hopeful and so lovely.

This book is told non-linearly, which took me a bit to get used to, but was a great decision for this book. Adam does it so well, so there's no confusion. I do love Adam's writing, although it can get a bit dense at times. But it really draws you into the story and doesn't let you go.

Griffin is grieving the death of his best friend/ex-boyfriend. I think this is a subject that doesn't get tackled much in YA, and I am so glad Adam did. Griffin is just trying to figure out how to move forward when life no longer looks like anything he imagined. All of the characters were written very vividly, very real. They acted the way grieving teenagers might act. Sure, they made some terrible decisions from time to time, but we really get into Griffin's head and understand where he's coming from.

Griffin also struggles with OCD, and this was handled very well. We got to see a bit into Griffin's head and understand what it is like for someone who struggles with OCD. So often anxiety is just another plot point, turned on and off when it suits the story, so I was very glad to see accurate representation.

This was another great story from Adam Silvera, and I can't wait to read whatever he has for us next.

Adam Silvera:

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

RoseBlood {by A.G. Howard}

 RoseBlood by A.G. Howard
Title: RoseBlood
Author: A.G. Howard
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Genre: YA Fantasy/Retelling
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: NetGalley

In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.
At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

I…am still not sure what to think of this book. I did enjoy it as I read it but it was also just very…odd. I love anything Phantom of the Opera and so I was super excited when I saw this. I’ve heard great things about A.G. Howard’s books, although I haven’t read any myself. This isn’t a retelling of Phantom as much as it is a sequel. I loved that idea, and for the most part, I think the story is executed very well. But this book also fell a little flat for me.

Writing: the writing was beautiful, and I can see why people are drawn into Howard’s story. The prose is lyrical and haunting, perfect for this story. But it is also so overly detailed. I got lost in the story, because the writing was sometimes confusing and overshadowed the plot. This story is not very fast-paced to begin with. I almost DNF’d 3 times in the first 50%, but pulled through. I did like the dual POV, as I thought it added more depth and interest.

Characters: I think I liked the characters. That may be a weird thing to say, idk. But they had so much potential, and I think I liked who they could have been. But again, it was overshadowed by a lot of the weirdness going on in the book. For the most part, Rune knew what was going on was creepy af, so any bad decisions she made, she knew they were bad. I loved her group of friends, and wish we got more of them in the story. I loved Thorn and the relationship with the Phantom, and thought that part of the story was well-done.

Plot: The plot definitely could have been better. I like the idea of the plot. And the way it played out wasn’t terrible. But as I mentioned, the book dragged for the first half. And then I feel like everything happened too quickly all at once at the end. And did I mention that this book was just weird? Don’t get me wrong, I love weird. But this book had me wondering what the heck is going on right now way too much to actually enjoy it. The whole destined lovers definitely put me off, as it was not romantic, just creepy.

I can see why people would love this book, and just because it wasn’t for me, doesn’t mean it’s not for you. I was waffling between giving this book 2 or 3 stars, but after mulling on it for a few days, I went with 2. I enjoyed it while reading, but my thoughts after the fact are mostly just meh. (Also, has no one else mentioned her use of g*psy, multiple times? It soured the end of the book for me, quite frankly. I know that she has an answer for why, but I don't agree or think her reasoning sufficient). While I would still love to pick up Splintered, this one unfortunately was just not for me.

A.G. Howard:

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Love and First Sight {by Josh Sundquist}

 Love and First Sight
Title: Love and First Sight
Author: Josh Sundquist
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Genre: YA Contemporary
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: The NOVL

On his first day at a new school, blind sixteen-year-old Will Porter accidentally groped a girl on the stairs, sat on another student in the cafeteria, and somehow drove a classmate to tears. High school can only go up from here, right?As Will starts to find his footing, he develops a crush on a charming, quiet girl named Cecily. Then an unprecedented opportunity arises: an experimental surgery that could give Will eyesight for the first time in his life. But learning to see is more difficult than Will ever imagined, and he soon discovers that the sighted world has been keeping secrets. It turns out Cecily doesn't meet traditional definitions of beauty--in fact, everything he'd heard about her appearance was a lie engineered by their so-called friends to get the two of them together. Does it matter what Cecily looks like? No, not really. But then why does Will feel so betrayed?Told with humor and breathtaking poignancy, Love and First Sight is a story about how we related to each other and the world around us.

While this book was a pretty quick read, it was full of emotion and humor and raw feelings. You could tell this book was heavily researched and carefully written, so as to relate as true of an experience as possible.

I liked Will, and reading about his struggles trying to navigate a public high school. Sundquist did a really thorough job of getting into his head, showing us the process and struggles of a blind person, that sighted people would not even think to consider. Will finds his group of friends, who I enjoyed very much. They were fun, and kind of reminded me a little of my own group of friends in high school. br />
This is a romance, and I did like the relationship between Will and Cecily. It blossomed slowly, and I loved them. However, I feel that this book did not necessarily focus on the romance. It's a huge part (I mean, it is the title) but this is a book about Will. I was a little apprehensive about the "giving Will eyesight" part of the story, as that could have gone so wrong, but I should have known Sundquist would handle the subject with great care. Will's thought process leading up to his decision was carefully expounded, and everything that happened after was carefully researched. The writing was detailed yet precise, letting us really see everything that was happening.

I loved this book. I love how all the different subjects were handled, how touching this story was while still being fun. Sundquist wrote a great story, and I can't wait to see what he comes out with next.

Josh Sundquist: