Posted in Bloggers, Reviews, Sophie

Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi

Hey guys! Happy happy release day to this lovely book! I wanted to finish it by the release date so I could have a review up, and I made it by the skin of my teeth. Thank you to Simon Teen for providing me with a review copy.

Title: Emergency Contact

Emergency Contact
Goodreads | Amazon

 

Author: Mary H. K. Choi

Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

Release date: March 27, 2018

My rating: 5/5 Goodreads stars

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

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This book was so sweet. It was nicely paced, and I wanted to know what was going to happen till the very end. Honestly, there are still some questions I have even after finishing it! That’s not a big deal, I think Choi had to leave some details a little ambiguous.

Here are a few things I said on Goodreads:

I don’t know why, but it’s taken me a while to finish a book. That’s not to say that this book wasn’t amazing because it was, I just had a lot more going on than I usually do. Anyway, this book was fantastic, and I loved it so much! Full RTC

It took me a while to finish this book. It’s been a while since I finished any book. It’s a combination of school and BTS videos taking over my life. Also, my roommate goes to bed when I want to stay up and read, so I have to go to bed sooner than I’d like sometimes.

Anywho, once I really sat down to read this book it went by too fast. The characters were lovely and the plot was very engaging. I was curious to see how Sam and Penny would become each others’ emergency contacts. Is it cheesy to say it was perfect? Don’t get me wrong, it was super awkward, but I can’t imagine a more perfect way for it to happen in the story.

Penny is such a well-developed character. I love the inner workings of her mind, and I like how weird she is. She reminded me a little of myself, in that she’s fiercely introverted, but fiercely loyal to her friends. It’s interesting to see how things play out between her and Jude, her roommate. I wasn’t sure what to think of Jude at first, but as the book continued she grew on me. I like how open she is with everything and how she would do anything for her people.

Sam is also a flawed but awesome character. I like his flaws, and I like how plainly he can wear them around Penny. They are on the same wavelength the whole time and seem to truly understand each other in ways that the other characters can’t.

Something that is touched on here and there throughout the book is Penny’s experience as a Korean-American. I can’t speak on that directly, but I really could relate to her struggles as an Asian-American. Her rep was well done, and it didn’t feel like something forced. It was a thing, but not the thing.

The book is also set in college! This was awesome. There aren’t many novels set in the early years of college, and while high schoolers are awesome, it’s cool to see more of this narrative especially since I’m going through my first year as well.

Overall, this was a beautiful novel. I hope you read it! I recommend it to anyone looking for something different. Be sure to check this one out!!

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

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Review: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

I can’t believe it took me so long to start this book!! It was so good, and I mainly read it through audiobook. (Thanks to my library for bailing me out all the time!!!)

Title: Flame in the Mist

Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist, #1)
Goodreads | Amazon

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons

Release date: May 16, 2017

Source: Hardcover/Audiobook

My rating: 5/5 Goodreads stars

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

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I really love Ahdieh as a writer. I will always read what she writes. Her first series The Wrath & the Dawn and The Rose & the Dagger were riveting, and I loved her storytelling in that series. This book is unrelated to that one and can be read without knowing anything about her first duology.

Something that prevents me from picking up books for such a long time is the amount of books that I want to read coming out at the same time. Literally there are too many that I’m anticipating that are released around the same time, and I can’t get to them all for a very long time. It makes me sad.

ANYWAAYYYYY! I wish I had picked this book up sooner. The world building of feudal Japan, the characters, the plot; everything was heckin awesome. I was immersed into a world of intrigue and different plot lines intersecting.

One thing I had a hard time with was keeping track of all of the different stories going on at the same time. Sometimes I would be reading about Okami, but I wouldn’t realize it until they said his name a few times, and even then I wasn’t 100% sure. I’m sure once we get Smoke in the Sun all of the strings will tie together and make more sense.

This was a bit of a retelling of Mulan. If you didn’t know, Mulan is one of my all time favorite movies. One time I watched it instead of doing homework on a Thursday afternoon. (I got everything done eventually, don’t worry!) Ahdieh takes the basic ideas of the story and builds her own world out of them. I like that it was taken to Japan instead of staying in China. I like how Mariko fought for her freedom and chose to infiltrate the Black Clan to save herself.  I like that the Black Clan was a rogue group instead of an army. There are a lot of recognizable themes with a different twist.

Mariko was pretty awesome. There were times that I couldn’t stand her much, but I knew that she would get there eventually. She really comes to her own toward the end and I’m so excited to see where she goes in the second book!!

The storytelling is rich and interesting. At first it was a little slow, but once I really got into it I finished it quickly. I highly recommend this book to someone looking for a different take on a classic story and a kick ass woman.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Sneak Peek Sunday: Now a Major Motion Picture by Cori McCarthy

It’s Sunday again, and you know what that means — ARC review!! I am so grateful to all of the people who share ARCs with me and send them in for review. It’s one of my favorite parts of being a blogger and reader. You know what my most favorite part of this is though? Getting to meet other bloggers, readers, and writers. I have made so many amazing connections because of this wonderful community. One of the people I’ve met is Cori. She is one of my favorite people in the world. She creates such well-crafted stories that I get immersed every time. It’s thanks to her that I’m able to write this review for you today! This was given to me in exchange for an honest review. 

Title: Now a Major Motion Picture

Now a Major Motion Picture
Goodreads | Amazon

Author: Cori McCarthy

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Expected release: April 3, 2018

My rating: 4/5 Goodreads stars

Fandom and first love collide for Iris on the film set for her grandmother’s famous high-fantasy triology—perfect for readers of Fangirl!

Unlike the rest of the world, Iris doesn’t care about the famous high-fantasy Elementia books written by M. E. Thorne. So it’s just a little annoying that M. E. Thorne is her grandmother—and that Iris has to deal with the trilogy’s crazy fans.

When Iris gets dropped in Ireland for the movie adaptation, she sees her opportunity: if she can shut down production, the Elementia craze won’t grow any bigger, and she can finally have a normal life. Not even the rascally-cute actor Eamon O’Brien can get in her way.

But the crew’s passion is contagious, and as Iris begins to find herself in the very world she has avoided her whole life, she realizes that this movie might just be amazing…

*************

I packed this in my spring break bag and didn’t get to it until the last day. I knew it was something I *wanted* to get to so I’m glad I had it with me. This novel jumped in on the action right off the bat. We’re immersed in Iris’s world at the start of her trip to Ireland. I loved the whole scene at the airport! It’s something I would have done myself if I’m completely honest.

There were so many references in this book I felt out-nerded. It was awesome. I feel like if I had a background in the different fandoms, I would have enjoyed the book a little more, however this didn’t hinder my reading altogether. It was more like I was missing out on an inside joke that I had a vague idea of what it was. I got a lot of them because LOTR and a lot of fantasy is immersed in pop culture, so I could make my way through the references easily.

At times I wasn’t sure I liked Iris. Every time I feel this with a character I have to remind myself that they have to be flawed to a) grow and b) be truly human. Too often we expect characters to be perfect and without the flaws that we have, especially women. It’s something that I’m trying to counteract by remembering that people aren’t, in fact, model citizens. And that’s totally okay. Iris grew on me over the course of the entire book. She ends as such a different person, and I loved that. She has problems with self-confidence because she feels that she’s living in two shadows — her dad’s and her grandma’s. Going to Ireland helped Iris discover herself and who she wanted to be.

Iris’s passion for music and desire to work with it is something that a lot of people face. It’s hard to tell others that you want to do something without a direct profession to point to when the obvious ones (i.e. writer, musician) don’t make a lot of money. This is something that a lot of people ask themselves many times and I really like how this is handled in the book. There are so many different answers to one question that people overlook, and I think this is emphasized well.

This book made me want to go to Ireland so bad!! I’m hoping to study abroad there, and I fell in love with it more and more with every turn of the page. The descriptions of the locations were gorgeous and vivid; I could see them clearly. Ireland lent a beautiful atmosphere to the story as a whole.

Overall, I highly recommend this to people who are looking for a different fantasy to fall into. It’s lovely and gorgeous.

Happy reading!

Sophie 🙂

I love love debut novels, and you don’t want to miss this one. I had the amazing chance to go meet Gloria in Chicago. I had such a good time, and we had a bit of an adventure trying to get back to Michigan. More on that later, let’s jump right in!

Title: American Panda

American Panda
Goodreads | Amazon

Author: Gloria Chao

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Source: Hardcover, US

My rating: 5/5 Goodreads stars

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

**********************

Mei was awesome. I loved getting to know her and the story was amazing. I couldn’t put it down! There were times that I was laughing out loud walking around campus. It was cute and funny.

Here are a few comments I made right afterward:

This book FLEW BY for me! I couldn’t put this one down. I loved Mei and I loved her personal journey throughout the whole story. It was exhilarating, and I loved every moment of it. 

I wanted to finish this in time for the event that coming Saturday and I finished in time for my friends to even finish the book, too. This was a quick, sweet read.

Mei’s parents are big characters in this book, and their presence is felt throughout the story. Mei’s mom was well-meaning and loving. She tries to do a lot for Mei so Mei can focus on studying. I understand where they’re coming from, and from what I can tell this is a very accurate snapshot of what it’s like to grow up with Taiwanese parents. (I cannot speak from personal experience because my parents are Caucasian and American, though I am Chinese.) Chao pulled a lot of personal feelings and emotions into this story, and I appreciate the accuracy of her representation.

Another aspect I really liked about the book was her representation, even with the cover art. You never notice the lack of rep on covers until you see it, and you wonder why you haven’t see it before. I don’t see a lot of books with Chinese women or other Asian-American/Asian out in the world, but I love the recent efforts made by those women to write their stories. This book does a good job of having diverse characters but not having that as the main focus of it.

The story centers on Mei coming into her own in her freshman year of college. This setting is also something that isn’t often written in. I found that a lot of stories are about adults or high schoolers, especially seniors. This is another thing done well by Chao. She captures the freshman experience within her novel. Freshman year of college is a huge transition, and I think that Mei went through a lot of the things I’ve felt this year so far. She is trying hard to set herself apart from her parents while still needing their help. She wants to do things her way and must balance the wishes of her parents.

One thing I do wish it had done better was talk about Mei’s mental health. There are small conversations about it here and there, but it’s never addressed head on. However, I can see that it wasn’t the full part of the story so I can see why it wasn’t completely talked about.

I feel like I could talk about this book for days, but I’ll wrap it up here. I had an amazing time at the event at 57th Street Books. This is one of my favorite bookstores to visit, and I make sure to go when I’m in the area. Here’s a photo!

20180210_150017

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

 

 

 

Review: American Panda by Gloria Chao

Every time I type that title, I’m surprised when I get to vol. 3. I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for a little longer than that. (I started spring of my sophomore year of high school.) I feel like I’ve grown so much in that time both as a writer and as a person.

ANYWAY! I went home for the weekend!! I’m glad to be here after a really long week with my team. It’s been very stressful as we gear up for the last half of school. Every weekend of April I’ll have a race with the team and I have to stay a week after exams for a race. It’s going to be crazier than it is now, so I’m here resting up before.

As of late, I haven’t had a phone due to mine taking a dunk in the water over break. I won’t be able to access Instagram as easily or post as frequently until I get a new one. Thanks for sticking around! My friend and I have a lot of taking pics for the account and hopefully I’ll be back soon!!

I haven’t had much luck with reading this week. Getting back so late on Sunday meant I hit the ground running on Monday and I haven’t had a day’s rest since. I’m exhausted. I’m looking for something to dig into soon, and hopefully I’ll have some fun, exciting things I can share with you all coming up!

My latest obsession is BTS. I love love love listening to their music, watching the music videos, and watching different YouTube videos of anything relating to them. I don’t understand a lick of what they’re singing except the English, but it’s beautiful music and they’re a group that I’m dying to hear more from this coming year. Have you listened to them before? Let me know in the comments.

I hope you’ve had a good week! What are you reading this weekend? Comment below!

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

My Bookish Life pt. 2, vol. 3

Posted in Bloggers, Reviews, Sophie

#tbt: The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

It’s that day of the week again! I can’t believe this week has flown by so fast. It seems like it was just Monday. I’m not complaining though! Here we are today with a review of The Female of the Species. This was my first introduction to Mindy Mcginnis’ work, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Title: The Female of the Species

The Female of the Species
Goodreads | Amazon

Author: Mindy McGinnis

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Source: Hardcover, US/Audiobook

My rating: 5/5 Goodreads stars

A contemporary YA novel that examines rape culture through alternating perspectives.

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it.

Three years ago, when her older sister, Anna, was murdered and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best—the language of violence. While her own crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people. Not with Jack, the star athlete who wants to really know her but still feels guilty over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered. And not with Peekay, the preacher’s kid with a defiant streak who befriends Alex while they volunteer at an animal shelter. Not anyone.

As their senior year unfolds, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting these three teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

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I want to preface this review saying that it’s going to talk a little bit about rape and rape culture. If this content is something you’re uncomfortable with please be prepared or don’t read this review. Take care of yourself first and foremost ❤

This was a really really quick read for me. Once I started it I couldn’t stop. It was riveting to listen to, and I love the voices of all the characters. For some reason I had thought it would only be told from Alex’s perspective before jumping in, but I’m glad we got to hear the voices of the two other characters.

Here are a few things I said right after finishing:

Extremely well written and something I don’t know if I would have ever gotten around to reading if I hadn’t gotten the audiobook from my library. It was really good and something I couldn’t stop listening to. 

I had thought it was going to be a little more fantastical than it was, but it was raw and real and full of so much emotion. I like it more than I was expecting, and every time that happens for me, it’s a thrill. I love when books surprise me like this.

This book deals with deeply flawed characters. They have a lot of different reactions to the rape culture that is fostered in their sheltered community. It affects the three main characters in very different ways, and each time they must face repercussions in the novel I’m interested to see how it will grow them.

Alex’s character was the most interesting to follow for me. I liked seeing her come to her own person and embrace what she was inside, all the ugly edges and soft curves that she tried to bury. She brought life into the two other main characters in this book. Jack and Peekay are floating without having any strong convictions. Then Alex comes into their lives and they will never look at the world the same way again.

There are a lot of stand out moments in this book to me, and the ending left me shocked. It was one of the things where I thought the author was playing a huge joke on me and was going to pull through for the expected ending. However, I can’t say that I would prefer that ending to the one we got. I feel it’s similar to A Thousand Splendid Suns where it could have only ended this way.

The writing was beautiful and elegant. It was simple, but very powerful. I loved every second of it. I highly recommend this book to people looking for something to stir some thoughts up in their brains.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Posted in Bloggers, Book Chat, Sophie

Book Chat: Anticipated March Releases

Hi there! I know this is coming a bit late for an anticipated releases post, but I do want to talk about all of the amazing books coming out this month. So many came out on March 6, and unfortunately I haven’t been able to get them all. :/

However, I will get to them eventually! I have a few that I’m really excited to read here with me, and some that I’ve already read that you definitely need to keep your eye on.

March 6

March 13

March 20

March 27

Wow, that’s a lot of books. I didn’t realize it until I typed it all out. A few books I want to highlight are The Astonishing Color of After and The Final Six. I got the chance to read those early, and they were amazing. I fell in love with the writing of both authors. Astonishing is full of lyrical, haunting magical realism. The Final Six is a high stakes sci-fi novel that I couldn’t put down!

What’s something you’re looking forward to this month? Have you read any good March releases yet? Tell me in the comments below!

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Review: Twelve Days of Dash & Lily by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Oh man, I love these two collaborating on books, always and forever. Hey there! I see you’ve wandered into my corner of the internet. Welcome! Thanks for stopping by, maybe even reading my jumbled up thoughts about books?! You rock.

Today I’ll be chatting about this lovely little novel that is a follow up to the first book Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares which is so adorable. You must read that book before reading this one. So if I have to redirect you from this review to avoid spoilers, please take this as your opportunity to do just that. I highly recommend you take a moment to read that book first. You won’t regret it 🙂

Title: Twelve Days of Dash & Lily

The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily
Goodreads | Amazon

Authors: Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Reads

Release date: October 18, 2017

My rating: 4/5 Goodreads stars

Dash and Lily have had a tough year since they first fell in love among the shelves of their favorite bookstore. Lily’s beloved grandfather suffered a heart attack, and his difficult road to recovery has taken a major toll on her typically sunny disposition.

With only twelve days left until Christmas—Lily’s favorite time of the year—Dash, Lily’s brother Langston, and their closest friends must take Manhattan by storm to help Lily recapture the unique holiday magic of a glittering, snow-covered New York City in December.

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These two were adorable and so fun to get re-acquainted with. I remember reading Dash & Lilly’s Book of Dares and loving it so much. Cohn and Levithan are one of my two favorite author combos, and I’m so excited to read whatever they write.

I think something they capture well is the time period after people get together and what happens when they leave the honeymoon phase. I think that New York played a big role in helping Dash and Lily find new things to entertain themselves with, and it was nice to see the city through both of their eyes. I think a big thing that people in general struggle with is communication especially with the lack thereof. This was something that felt really relatable and true to anyone’s experience in all types of relationships.

The atmosphere of the book was perfect. Even though I read it after the holiday season it still brought back the warm, fuzzy feelings that usually surround the winter time. I love that time of the year most for a lot of the reasons that Lily does. My family is really big and it’s nice to see them all under one roof having a good time.

One of the strengths of this book was the theme of the twelve days of Christmas. I love how Dash tried really hard to make the days leading up to Lily’s favorite holiday so special. The concept is totally swoon-worthy, and it was lovely to see unfold.

I highly recommend this to people looking for a quick read and something light. I think that reading the first book of the two would be very helpful for really getting the most out of this book.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Hey guys! Happy March!! Can you believe it’s already the third month of the year?! It’s crazy to think that this much time has passed. I feel like the year has just begun and I haven’t gotten anything done. Yet, it seems like I’ve lived three more years, not just three months.

Last year and the year before I used to write installments every week on how I was personally doing, and I’m going to start again. I can’t promise that it’ll be every week because, surprise, being a college student is super duper busy all the time! I’m going to try to keep up though because this was one of my favorite parts of the blog.

So what have I been up to lately? A lot. This past week we went on spring break, and I travelled with the crew team to South Carolina for training. It has been a long hard week of rowing every single day, 2-3 times at least. I’ve been really tired all the time, and I feel like I can’t get a moment to myself without feeling guilty for not socializing with my teammates. This introvert is having too much people time without enough time to recharge her batteries!

That being said, I have really enjoyed a lot of my break. This hard work is getting us ready for a competitive race season, and we’re shaping up to be really good on the water this spring. I’m really looking forward to travelling to Philly in May for the DadVail regatta. My parents are going to come see us, and I’m excited to see them there.

Here are some pics that I’ve taken from the week:

The picture on the left is me and a few of my teammates in the dining hall here at Clemson and the one on the right is taken off the starboard side of our boat from Thursday’s practice. It was a beautiful day for rowing in the morning but we had to do dryland training in the afternoon because of the rough winds.

I finished three books so far on break, but I have a 16+ hour bus ride back to Michigan, so there’s plenty of time to get even more complete. I can’t wait to share reviews on the amazing books I read, and I hope you like them too!

With classes starting back up on Monday, I have a lot to get done so I’m signing off for now. Until next time!

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

 

My Bookish Life pt. 1, vol. 3