Friday, March 31, 2017

March Wrap Up

Hello again! March was a pretty good month. April is going to be slammed, though, preparing for finals and such, so I'm sure this is the last in a streak of good reading months.


Like I predicted, I had quite a few graphic novels and more comics, which is why I read so much. Plus I tried to cram a lot in during spring break (although I still didn't finish ACOL ahhh). titles linked to Goodreads as always


5-Star Reads: A Darker Shade of Magic, A Gathering of Shadows
Other Notable Favorites: Norse Mythology, Doctor Strange vols 1&2, Milk and Honey
Rereads: A Darker Shade of Magic

Movies: Of course I saw Beauty and the Beast and I loved it!!! I didn't have the same high expectations going in because I wasn't as emotionally attached to the original as every else seems to be, but it was so stunning and beautiful.
TV: So I started that new show on NBC called Powerless (a new comedy from DC) and I honestly kinda thought it was going to be dumb but now I am actually SO OBSESSED like I love it so much. Hopefully, it stays that way.

Hope everyone has a lovely April!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Goodbye Days {by Jeff Zentner}

Title: Goodbye Days
Author: Jeff Zentner
Genre: YA Contemporary
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: NetGalley

Can a text message destroy your life?
Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.
Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?

This book. Wow. I almost don't know how to review it. It was utterly heart wrenching and emotional, which are the only kind of books Jeff Zentner writes apparently. The story follows Carver as he navigates his life after a texting and driving accident took the lives of his three best friends. He has to deal with his grief, his guilt, and how to move on.

Pros:

  • I think death isn't explored so much in YA, so I did like that this book focuses on that. Teenagers lose people too, and I can't imagine losing all your best friends at once. It's also good awareness about the dangers of texting and driving.
  • The positive portrayal of therapy and getting help when you need it was also super important.
  • I think this book also did a good job in showing all the different ways grief can manifest, and how important it is to grieve in your own way. Carver does three different Goodbye Days, and each family was different in the way that they were shown.
  • Carver and Jesmyn go to a School for Arts, and I like how their art (writing and piano respectively) was such an important and integral part of them. (Also! A spoilery thing about Jesmyn that I feel was added almost randomly but I liked. It was cool representation of something not seen that often.)
  • The writing is beautiful, and heartbreaking. Zentner really got us into Carver's head, and the grief and emotions he feels. 
  • Carver's family (parents + sister) are very involved in the story, and I liked that added dynamic. I think it's because I also relate to Carver and his relationship with his parents almost exactly.
Cons:
  • I was a little wary of the relationship. While I understand that the only two left would be bonded deeply by their shared loss, I wasn't sure how I felt about it. However, I am okay with the direction Zentner went and how he chose to leave things.
  • The boys, as a group, just felt...very immature. I understand that Carver's flashbacks often went pretty far back, but even the ones where they were in high school still felt that way. I mean, I know teenage boys can be dumb, but I just still wasn't very convinced.
  • I'm not sure how accurate the court stuff was? It definitely added a lot of emotional turmoil to the book, though.
Again, this book was very heartbreaking and emotional and lovely. I loved it, and would absolutely recommend it (with the disclaimer of be prepared to have your heart ripped out).


Jeff Zentner:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life {by Benjamin Alire Saenz}


Title: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life
Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Genre: YA Contemporary
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: NetGalley

Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican-American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he? 

Oh man. Where to even start? Ari and Dante will always have an extra-special place in my heart, and I knew going in that this wouldn't live up to that, so I tried very hard not to hold it up to that level. But this book was still amazing in its own right and I adored it.

Pros:

  • there was no romance! I loved that. This is a love story--between family, and between friends. Sal and his friends stayed friends, and I LOVED that. I thought the relationships showcased here were beautiful, and I think we definitely need more stories like that. I was honestly expecting one at any moment, and so was pleasantly surprised.
  • actually present parent figures?! Well, kinda. Sal's father is a huge part of the story, and I loved how present and involved he is not only in Sal's life, but in the lives of his friends Sam and Fito. (The same cannot be said for any other parents in the story, dead or alive.)
  • the story was very character driven and I loved that. Saenz is a master at crafting real and raw characters, and this story was no different.
  • I loved the family that they create for themselves (Sal and Sam and Fito and Vicente and even Marco and Maggie the dog) but also just seeing the normal, healthy friendship between Sal, Sam, and Fito was super refreshing to see.
  • Sal is a white boy adopted into a Mexican family, and I thought it was showcased beautifully. Sal is Mexican because his family is Mexican, end of story. 
Cons:
  • there was...no plot? I was half expecting something to happen, but it really is just a book about Sal's angst. He's starting to have questions about his birth father, why he's suddenly punching people, and then the grief of his Mima getting sick. But hey, I think being an angsty teenager is perfect understandable.
  • Saenz's writing style isn't my favorite. I don't think I noticed it as much with Ari and Dante because I listened to the audiobook, but his way of writing short and choppy sometimes made me feel like I couldn't completely get into the flow of reading.
All in all, this was just a beautiful story about life. It dealt with big issues like love and life and death and grief, in the beautiful, haunting way that Saenz is known for. Can you tell I loved this book (like jeez how many times can you say that word)? 



Benjamin Alire Saenz:

Twitter | Goodreads

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Standing Up {by Kate Forest}

Title: Standing Up
Author: Kate Forest
Genre: NA Romance
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: publicist

Brilliant physics major Jill Kramer tutors jocks in math to pay her tuition. The college junior has big dreams—NASA. And if her self-centered ex taught her anything, it’s to never again let a guy distract her from her goals, especially the hottie failing calculus
Former football star Mike Lewis hopes the cute calculus tutor will save his otherwise perfect GPA. Top grades will convince his demanding father that he’s still pursuing law school and not his real dream—the Broadway stage. Acting seems unachievable at the moment, with him hunched over crutches and in crippling pain from a past car accident, but after amputation surgery he’ll strut on state-of-the-art prosthetics.
Jill can’t help but fall for Mike—brains in his head, muscles in his chest, and vulnerability in his legs. Mike loves her determination and her refusal to pity him.
But when choices have to be made—family versus goals, dreams versus love—they both need to find strength to stand on their own, side-by-side.

Oh man, I loved this book. It has been so long since I've read a NA romance that I truly enjoyed. I'm not a fan of romances, in general, so I suppose I don't go seeking them out, and I'm quite picky with them. But this one hit all the things I like, and I loved how cute and fun it was.

Jill is me. I think that was one of the first things that hit me. A scientist, Jill isn't going to let anything come in the way of her career goals and aspirations, especially not guys. She is focused, driven, and hard-working to the point of almost being a push-over. But she was also sassy and strong and I loved that. I also loved Mike. He's dealing with his own issues, between the accident and a father that thinks he's going to law school. But he was sweet and fun and charming.

I am so tired of alpha male characters (tbh that was why I stopped reading NA and romance in general) so I am pleased to announce that this is not one of those books. I also don't feel like a lot of books cover this time period, graduating college and figuring out what the heck comes after, so I loved how that was something that was shown and addressed. Our MC's aren't perfect, but they are growing and learning about themselves and I loved that too. Because honestly, this age (my age) is just such a hard time, and I was glad to see that focused on a bit.

I will say, this book was fairly ableist. Mike constantly talks about how he's ready to get back to being a "normal" person when he can walk normally with his prosthetics. His entire life revolves around the person he will be after his surgery, how he will be a "real" man again. This idea is never corrected in the narrative. Even his therapist doesn't really mention it.

But other than that, this was a cute, fluffy story that I fully enjoyed. It brought it serious issues while still being a fun story, and I loved it.

Kate Forest:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Stranger Than Fanfiction {by Chris Colfer}

Title: Stranger Than Fanfiction
Author: Chris Colfer
Genre: YA Contemporary
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: publisher

Cash Carter is the young, world famous lead actor of the hit television show Wiz Kids. When four fans jokingly invite him on a cross-country road trip, they are shocked that he actually takes them up on it. Chased by paparazzi and hounded by reporters, this unlikely crew takes off on a journey of a lifetime – but along the way they discover that the star they love has deep secrets he's been keeping. What they come to learn about the life of the mysterious person they thought they knew will teach them about the power of empathy and the unbreakable bond of true friendship.

I went into this book thinking it was going to be a fun, easy read. And while it was, what I also got was a lot deeper and more emotional than that. I've actually never read anything by Chris Colfer before, so I was interested to see what I would think.

Cash Carter (oh hmm who could he possibly be based off of) is your typical, young celebrity. The lead actor of a show (that sounds a lot like Doctor Who) that has amassed quite the cult following, he is used to the hordes of paparazzi, fangirls, and media always up in every part of his life. But he's getting tired of it. So when he gets an invitation to join four fans on their pre-college road trip, he agrees. While I love the idea of road trip books, it's hard to find ones that actually work. This one did. Maybe it was because there were more people, but it was a lot of fun.

We get POVs from all five of the characters. While at times this seemed a bit much, I did enjoy each of the characters and getting to know them. There is a lot of diversity and representation (one trans MC, one gay MC, and two POC), but they weren't just plot points. They were just a part of the character, not simply added in for plot twists or to check boxes. The characters aren't perfect; they make mistakes, but they also learn and grow from them.

A few cons: the writing felt like it was meant for younger audiences. I know that Colfer also writes MG, so that might have been it. The writing felt young, and so did the characters. They are supposed to be 18/recently graduated, but they often didn't feel that way. There were also a lot of cliche parts about the story (especially that ending, come on now). I feel like fans were not portrayed quite nicely, so take from that what you will.

While this story did delve into some deeper issues, what with all of the things our main characters are going through, an inside look at celebrity life from the perspective of one, and even the "deep secrets" Cash is keeping, it was mostly just a fun book. Colfer is a sarcastic, and that tone definitely shines through in his writing. It was an easy read, one that was just supposed to be fun. And it was.

Chris Colfer:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Chris Colfer is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and Golden Globe-winning actor. He was honored as a member of the TIME 100, Time magazine's annual list of the one hundred most influential people in the world, and his books include Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal, Stranger Than Fanfiction, and the books in The Land of Stories series: The Wishing Spell, The Enchantress Returns, A Grimm Warning, Beyond the Kingdoms, and An Author's Odyssey, and the companion books A Treasury of Classic Fairy Tales, The Mother Goose Diaries, Queen Red Riding Hood's Guide to Royalty, The Curvy Tree, and Trollbella Throws a Party.


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