Book Review: From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

Hi there, happy new book Tuesday! There are so many amazing books coming out today, including Strange Fascinations (YAY NOAH AND DAVID!!). Today I’m happy to usher in this lovely new read, From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon. I had the opportunity to read When Dimple Met Rishi early as well, and guys, this book does NOT disappoint!

***Thank you to the publisher for sending me an early finished copy for review. This does not affect my reading/reviewing of this title.***

Title: From Twinkle, With Love

From Twinkle, with Love
Goodreads | Amazon

Author: Sandhya Menon

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release date: May 22, 2018

My rating: 5/5 Goodreads stars

Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.


Review

Listen, I really loved this novel. You need to go buy it right now. Like, what are you doing reading this review and not buying the book? NOT TO BE DRAMATIC, BUT YOU SHOULD GET ON THAT RIGHT NOW! I WILL WAIT!!!

*sips an Arnold Palmer*

*flips threw current read*

Ah yes, welcome back! I’m so glad you decided to get this book! It’s truly wonderful, and I love every bit of it. I can’t wait for you to love it too.

Twinkle was a truly fun character. She grew so much throughout the story. While it was written in the first person, I feel that you can tell through the dialogue how she changes and grows. I love how she finds her voice directing the movie. (I totally wish this remake existed because I would watch the crap out of it!!) She definitely had her flaws and her frustrating moments, but in the end, I like what she made of it all.

The story is written in an epistolary format, and at first I wasn’t sure if I would like it. However, right away I was proven wrong in any doubts I had. I love the way the style feeds into the narrative as a whole. While it is mostly sort of a diary, you still get a lot of dialogue, setting, and description. I love how it makes Twinkle more personable and it made the whole thing more intimate.

One small complaint about the book is how mature the teenagers acted. I feel like that was a little bit of a reach, and while I do wish things were resolved like this more often in real life, I don’t think it would always happen like this.

I absolutely 100% love the diversity in this book. While this is mainly about a Desi girl there are many other characters within the story that bring in more rep to the story. It is well written and not forced. Menon expertly weaves in different rep within the book, and I really appreciate it.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now folks. If you didn’t get yourself a copy go do it now! Links above!!

From,

Sophie 🙂

With love

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Book Review: What I Leave Behind by Alison McGhee

Hello there and happy Monday! I’m 14 reviews behind, but if I write this one there is one less in that massive stack. I’m so glad to be here today with a review of What I Leave Behind by Alison McGhee. This book was sent to me for review by the publisher, but does not have any affect on how I read and review it. Thank you Simon Teen for sending me a copy!

Title: What I Leave Behind

What I Leave Behind
Goodreads | Amazon

Author: Alison McGhee

Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books

Release date: May 15, 2018

My rating: 3/5 Goodreads stars

After his dad commits suicide, Will tries to overcome his own misery by secretly helping the people around him in this story made up of one hundred chapters of one hundred words each.

Sixteen-year-old Will spends most of his days the same way: Working at the Dollar Only store, trying to replicate his late father’s famous cornbread recipe, and walking the streets of Los Angeles. Will started walking after his father committed suicide, and three years later he hasn’t stopped. But there are some places Will can’t walk by: The blessings store with the chest of 100 Chinese blessings in the back, the bridge on Fourth Street where his father died, and his childhood friend Playa’s house.

When Will learns Playa was raped at a party—a party he was at, where he saw Playa, and where he believes he could have stopped the worst from happening if he hadn’t left early—it spurs Will to stop being complacent in his own sadness and do some good in the world. He begins to leave small gifts for everyone in his life, from Superman the homeless guy he passes on his way to work, to the Little Butterfly Dude he walks by on the way home, to Playa herself. And it is through those acts of kindness that Will is finally able to push past his own trauma and truly begin to live his life again. Oh, and discover the truth about that cornbread.

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

This was a really, really quick read for me. I sat down with it one afternoon and knocked it out. To be honest, I didn’t know about the 100 word chapters, and in retrospect, I have mad respect for McGhee pulling it off. It’s super easy to get lost in the words and describe everything, but this book was all about being concise. I appreciate how she did it and I applaud her for it.

That being said, I do wish it was a little longer! I feel that I couldn’t get a huge feel for Will throughout the book. I wanted to get to know him more beyond what was given. I also wanted to know the other characters more.

One thing I liked about the book was the constant action. Because the chapters were only 100 words long every word counted. There wasn’t much time spent on descriptions of things or people, it was almost always action. I liked the pacing of the book as a whole, and I liked how Will took you backward in time to explain some things.

I wish I had gotten to know Playa more! She seemed like a really fun character, and a lot of what Will does is because of something that happened to her. I understand that this is Will’s story in the end, but maybe there can be a book about her in the future?!?!?!

All in all, this was a good book, but it didn’t wow me. I wanted more from it, and while I appreciate how hard it must have been to write it, this didn’t quite get there for me. I encourage you to read it yourself though! It may be the book for you!!

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Posted in Blog Tours, Bloggers, Reviews, Sophie

Blog Tour: The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik by David Arnold

Hey, everyone! I’m so excited to be here today with a review of The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik. David Arnold is one of my all-time favorite authors, and I’m so glad to be part of this tour. I first fell in love with Arnold’s writing with Mosquitoland, and if you haven’t read that one yet I highly recommend it. However much I loved his first two books, I think this one is my favorite?!?!?!

About the Book

Title: The Strange Fascinations of Noah HypnotikCover

Author: David Arnold

Publisher: Viking Children

Expected release: May 22, 2018

My rating: 5/5 Goodreads stars

The New York Times bestselling author of Kids of Appetite and Mosquitoland brings a speculative twist to his latest novel. The result: an incisive and deeply humane story with the feel of Haruki Murakami for teens.

“An epic wonder”* from the bestselling author of Mosquitoland

This is Noah Oakman → sixteen, Bowie believer, concise historian, disillusioned swimmer, son, brother, friend.

Then Noah → gets hypnotized.

Now Noah → sees changes–inexplicable scars, odd behaviors, rewritten histories–in all those around him. All except his Strange Fascinations . . .

A stunning surrealist portrait, The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik is a story about all the ways we hurt our friends without knowing it, and all the ways they stick around to save us.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Book Depository

About the Author

David  Arnold

David Arnold lives in Lexington, Kentucky, with his (lovely) wife and (boisterous) son. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Kids of Appetite and Mosquitoland, and his books have been translated into a dozen languages.

 

 

 

 

Review

This was a fantastic book. I sped right through it, but I wanted it to last so much longer. I wish it was longer. PLEASE MAKE IT LONGER I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!!!!!! I have to say that this is hands down one of the best books I’ve read this year. It’ll be one of them at the end of the year, too.

The writing style was different from the first two books Arnold wrote, and I like the slight change. The chapters were short and sweet, but I wanted them to last longer (see above). I think this fit the entire narrative of the story in general, and I think it being written in a typical way would take away from the book a a whole.

Noah is a great character. He is looking for himself, and through the entire book, it seems he will never get to the end. I think this speaks true to what it’s like to be a human in general. There’s something very honest and true about Noah that made me love him more.

I was wondering what would happen when Noah got hypnotized. At first it doesn’t seem like much has changed, but little by little you see something more unfold. I would love to talk more about this, but I feel it would give away the story altogether. I think this was one of the best parts of the book. I had a feeling something like this would happen, but I wasn’t sure.

All in all, I am psyched for you guys to get into this world. It’s amazing. GO PRE-ORDER YOURSELF A COPY!!!

Follow the Tour

WEEK ONE

May 7 – The Blonde Bookworm – Review

May 8 – Confessions of a YA Reader – Review + My Strange Fascinations

May 9 – Forever Bookish – Review

May 10 – Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile – Playlist with Graphic Quotes

May 11 – Adventures in YA Publishing – Author Q&A

WEEK TWO

May 14 – The Nerdy Girl Express – Review

May 15 – A Court of Coffee and Books – Review + Graphic Quotes

May 16 – BookCrushin – Review + Playlist

May 17 – Mind of a Book Dragon – Review

May 18 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Author Guest Post:  What Would Your Strange Fascination Be?

WEEK THREE

May 21 – Pop! Goes the Reader – Wallpaper

May 22 – The Young Folks – Author Q&A

May 23 – Page Travels – Creative Instagram

May 24 – Bookfoolery – Review

May 25 – Dazzled by Books – Candle Creation Post + Review

WEEK FOUR

May 28 – Paper Trail YA – Author Q&A

May 29 – Snowandbooks – Review + Aesthetic Board

May 30 – Reading Writing and Me – Book Review

May 31 – The Radiant Reader – Playlist + Creative Instagram Picture

June 1 – We Live and Breathe Books – Review + Moodboard

 

Happy reading!

Sophie 🙂

Posted in Bloggers, Reviews, Sophie

Sneak Peek Sunday: The Summer of Us by Cecilia Vinesse

Hi guys! I’m so glad to be here with you again this weekend to bring another great book. First and foremost, thank you The Novl for sending me an advance copy of this book for review. This has no inherent influence on how I read and review the novel.

Today I’m talking about the wonderful Cecilia Vinesse, author of Seven Days of Youwhich debuted last year. I even had the chance to interview Cecilia for Justine at her event in Naperville when she toured with her book in the U.S. This June, Cecilia is releasing her second book, The Summer of Us. 

Title: The Summer of Us

The Summer of Us
Goodreads | Amazon

Author: Cecilia Vinesse

Publisher: Poppy

Expected release: June 5, 2018

A swoon-worthy story about five best friends on a whirlwind trip through Europe, perfect for fans of Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, and Jennifer E. Smith.

American expat Aubrey has only two weeks left in Europe before she leaves for college, and she’s nowhere near ready. Good thing she and her best friend, Rae, have planned one last group trip across the continent. From Paris to Prague, they’re going to explore famous museums, sip champagne in fancy restaurants, and eat as many croissants as possible with their friends Clara, Jonah, and Gabe.

But when old secrets come to light, Aubrey and Rae’s trip goes from a carefree adventure to a complete disaster. For starters, there’s Aubrey and Gabe’s unresolved history, complicated by the fact that Aubrey is dating Jonah, Gabe’s best friend. And then there’s Rae’s hopeless crush on the effortlessly cool Clara. How is Rae supposed to admit her feelings to someone so perfect when they’re moving to different sides of the world in just a few weeks?

Author Cecilia Vinesse delivers a romantic European adventure that embraces the magic of warm summer nights, the thrill of first kisses, and the bittersweet ache of learning to say goodbye to the past while embracing the future.

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

I picked this book up a few days ago and finished it in two days. I was in love. It was the perfect book to read after finishing Puddin’. (Review of that to come soon!) I remember how fast I finished Vinesse’s first book, and I couldn’t wait for a second book. Here are some initial thoughts from Goodreads:

I love Vinesse’s writing. I will always love it I think. I can’t wait for you all to read it this summer!! This is a perfect beach read or road trip read. It’s about beginnings and endings and the weird in between feeling. I found it extremely relatable and poignant

This book made me want to travel so bad! I haven’t been outside of the U.S. before and I’m dying to see what’s out there. It made me think of road trips across the U.S., and made me wonder what it would be like to do with my friends. I’m really looking forward to it, but I can see where things could go awry quickly.

It’s written in dual points of view in the third person, and I like that it was limited to only Aubrey and Rae. I feel that it was their story to tell, and while it would have been nice to hear from Clara or Jonah at some parts, I think it would have gotten too messy and lacking in cohesiveness. I love stories about best friends. I’ve had many best friends over my life time, and I think this is something that everyone can relate to. Growing up and growing apart from people is really hard, especially when the person is someone you hold in such high regard. Vinesse writes the dynamic between Aubrey and Rae and their friends so well, and I love the different ways they interact with each other.

Something else that I liked was that it deals a lot with the change after high school. After just going through it, I can attest how weird that period of time is. Everyone is hopeful for the future, but worried about what will come. I wasn’t scared to come to college per se, but I was nervous about making friends. It feels like a huge step in life to just up and move away from everything you’ve known, and I think this is captured perfectly in the book.

Overall, I loved the novel and the story itself. This is a perfect book to read this summer, and I really hope you check it out!

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Sneak Peek Sunday: Love & Other Carnivorous Plants by Florence Gonsalves

Hi all! I haven’t been very active lately, and that’s mostly due to my schedule heating up in the past weeks. I’ve had a lot to do and very little time to do it. Unfortunately that means I’ve pushed reading and blogging to the back burner, but I wanted to pop in because I recently finished an amazing book that’s set to come out soon!

This book was sent to me for review by the publisher. That does not affect the way I read and reviewed this book in any way. Thank you, Little, Brown!

Title: Love & Other Carnivorous Plants

Love & Other Carnivorous Plants
Goodreads | Amazon

Author: Florence Gonsalves

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Expected release: May 15, 2018

My rating: 4/5 Goodreads stars

Freshman year at Harvard was the most anticlimactic year of Danny’s life. She’s failing pre-med and drifting apart from her best friend. One by one, Danny is losing all the underpinnings of her identity. When she finds herself attracted to an older, edgy girl who she met in rehab for an eating disorder, she finally feels like she might be finding a new sense of self. But when tragedy strikes, her self-destructive tendencies come back to haunt her as she struggles to discover who that self really is.

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

I was so excited to be able to read this book, and I was happily surprised when I picked it up from my mail. This book is set right after Danny’s freshman year of college, and I appreciate that this time is being written about. Here are some of my initial thoughts from Goodreads:

I had to set this down for a second because I had to read a different book by a certain date, but once I was done with it I came right back to L&OCP. This was a quick, sweet read altogether. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen, and I think it addresses the topic of mental health in an honest light. 

Between starting and finishing this book I had to read two books to prepare for interviews I had. (Hopefully I’ll have more to share on that later!) I was a little disappointed I wasn’t able to finish before those others, but that meant I couldn’t wait to get back to Love & Other Carnivorous Plants. I was curious to know what would happen, and I found Danny to be a compelling character.

The whole of the story focuses on how Danny struggles with the changes that college brings and how she feels unmoored going to Harvard. Something happens with her long-time best friend Sara that triggers Danny’s self-destructive behaviors. It’s interesting to see how Danny picks up the pieces afterward and how she decides to handle going to treatment.

This book does a good job of honestly portraying mental health. As someone who also struggles with mental health issues, I felt this was written with sensitivity and care without being too filtered. I know this isn’t representative of everyone’s experience with mental health, but I found it to ring a little true for me.

Another thing I really loved about this book was the way it talked about college.  I’m currently finishing up my freshman year and I can attest how hard the transition is. I can’t imagine ever going to a school as competitive as Harvard. I feel that a lot of the emotions that Danny felt and the change in her friendship with Sara are accurate in terms of what can happen. Again, I know this isn’t representative of everyone’s experience at college, but friendships change a lot when you go to college. Some adapt and flourish, others fade away, and some become broken beyond repair. It’s hard when things change. It’s hard when what you thought to be true turns out to be something else. I’ve had my fair share of changing friendships since coming to school, and it’s been hard. My heart went out to Danny and Sara as they tried to repair their relationship.

Overall, this book was compelling and I highly recommend it, especially to college freshmen or those soon to be one!

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

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.

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

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 🙂

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.

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

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?

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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!

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Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

 

 

 

Review: American Panda by Gloria Chao

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 🙂