Book Review: I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maureen Goo

Hi! If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend you do 🙂 This book is something that I look to as an excellent example of great representation done well.

Title: I Believe in a Thing Called Love

I Believe in a Thing Called Love

Author: Maureen Goo

Publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux Inc

Release date: May 30, 2017

My rating: 5/5 stars

Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

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I absolutely loved this book. Desi was so relatable, and she reminded me of myself. This is a cute, quick read that is perfect to pull you up for a pick-me-up.

One of the best parts of this book was Desi’s resilience. She is persistent, and that is something I find admirable. While she is very much a planner (and doesn’t like surprises), she is quick to adjust her plans and reconfigure the way she approaches problems.

The way Korean culture is intertwined in this book was phenomenal. I really liked that it was part of the book, but it wasn’t the whole point of the book. It gives the book diversity that is genuine, and definitely inspired me to make my own ramen at home! After reading this I really wanted to start watching K-dramas, so if you’ve watched any before comment your suggestions!

Desi’s friends are equally as great. They are very supportive of Desi, and defend her till the end. They understand her need to have steps to follow, and I appreciate their friendship the whole way through.

Overall, this was a really enjoyable read. It was fun and light, and I recommend it to anyone looking for something that is a quirky, cute contemporary.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

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Sneak Peek Sunday: The Gatekeepers by Jen Lancaster

Hello and happy Sunday! This has been quite the week full of surprises, tragedy, and coming together to take a stand. With that being said, I think the best way we can always participate is through educating ourselves in various ways — books being one of them!

****This book was sent to me for an honest review from the publisher!

Title: The Gatekeepers

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Author: Jen Lancaster

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Expected Release: October 10, 2017

My Rating: 3/5 stars

Anyone passing through North Shore, IL, would think this was the most picture-perfect place ever, with all the lakefront mansions and manicured hedges and iron gates. No one talks about the fact that the brilliant, talented kids in this town have a terrible history of throwing themselves in front of commuter trains, and that there’s rampant opioid abuse that often leads to heroin usage.

Meet Simone, the bohemian transfer student from London, who is thrust into the strange new reality of the American high school; Mallory, the hyper-competitive queen bee; and Stephen, the first generation genius who struggles with crippling self-doubt. Each one is shocked when lovable football player Braden takes his own life and the tragedy becomes a suicide cluster. With so many students facing their own demons, can they find a way to save each other—as well as themselves?

Inspired by the true events that happened in the author’s home town.

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The best part of this book was getting to know the different characters and their different voices. However, I felt that the author tried a little too hard with trying to get the right slang for a teen’s voice and some of it felt cinematic in that it was a bit forced and not genuine.

I liked the plot as a whole in general. The kids come together and form a strong bond through shared experiences, and Simone is a grounding voice that ties them all together. The seriousness of the subject is one that is hard to tackle, and I felt that it more or less conveyed the message that Lancaster. My major hang up on this book as a whole, however, was the different characters and how they just didn’t really represent a teenager (i.e. their slang).

Important things were highlighted throughout the book. I liked how Lancaster didn’t just focus on the pressure cooker kind of environment of the students’ lives, but also their own mental health. She showed that while environment can play a big role in one’s mental health, there are other things that factor into it. With that said, I can’t speak personally about mental health and how well this boat represents it.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Monthly Update: My Bookish Life College Edition

Hello all! I hope this month has treated you well! I’ve made it through the first month of college, and so far things are going really well. My roommate is awesome, and we have become fast friends. There are a lot of girls on my floor that I’ve become friends with too, and I’m settling in well. (Shout out to you lovely ladies if you happen to be reading this post, and my good friend Anna who I know reads these on occasion.)

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Classes have gone well, and I’m staying on top of homework thus far. I’m anxious for when things really start to dig in. My favorite class is my writing class. We get to pick our own general topics for the papers as long as they meet the prompt. For my second paper, I’m going to be doing extensive research on the different language used to women and how it affects culture as a whole. This will further go into a larger project I’m doing on the side for an Honors portion.

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This is us on our first night on the water! We rowed in a barge to get used to it.

I joined the men’s crew team! I’m a coxswain a.k.a. the person sitting in the stern (or bow if it’s a four) yelling at the rowers and motivating them. It’s going really well, and I’m making a lot of friends. This is something completely new to me, and I’m so excited to be part of such an awesome team. Our first regatta is in two weeks and I’m nervous to see how things shape up at practice. We practice every day but Sunday, and it’s quite the schedule to keep up. I don’t mind missing a lot of clubs for it because they’re a great group of people and I’ve learned a lot over the past month with them.

I’ve gone home once for family pictures, and it was nice to see everyone. I missed my cat! Leaving my parents for a second time was a lot harder and weirder than I realized it would be. The first time is always the toughest, but I had my friend Anna to help me through the first transition. No one ever talks about when you go home the first time and come back! It’s strange and still hurts in an unexpected way, but don’t worry!! I came back from it (thanks to a phone call to my sister), and now I know what to expect.

That’s all I have for now folks. I hope you have a spooky October!

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

#throwbackthursday: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

I loved this book so much. It was one that I bought years ago when I got my job as a bookseller to celebrate it. I finally read it at the urging of my best friend, and I can’t believe I waited so long to read it.

Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, #1)

Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Release date: February 21, 2012

Source: Paperback, US

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

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Let’s take a minute to savor this book. And a moment of silence for the chance I had to read it for the first time ever.

Okay, now let’s talk about how amazing this book is.

First, the characters. I loveeeeeeeeeeeeee Dante and Ari. They are dynamic and deep and so beautiful. Ari is the narrator of the story and his thoughts and voice are strong and lyrical. I think the best part of his voice is how genuine it is. Sometimes it takes a while for authors to really get to a character on this level, but right from the start you can hear it and feel it in Ari. Dante is someone who brings light and perspective into Ari’s life, and that’s what makes this book so beautiful. Their dynamic is something I could read about for a long time. They are gentle and headstrong and they work together so well.

The setting of the book works well with the rest of the novel. It’s set in Texas during the 80s. I love how this influences the kind of life the boys live, and how their love develops around it.

Saenz’s writing in general is lush and gorgeous. It’s full of beautiful quotes that I need to have framed right now. I even Tweeted one. Ugh. So full of such amazing language that I can’t wait to read The Inexplicable Logic of My Life.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Sneak Peek Sunday: Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Hi guys!! I’m back with a new book being released this month. Here I am today with Invictus by Ryan Graudin, and I cannot wait for all of you to read it too!

Title: Invictus

Author: Ryan Graudin

Invictus

Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Reads

Expected Release: September 26, 2017

Time flies when you’re plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

In this heart-stopping adventure, Ryan Graudin has created a fast-paced world that defies time and space.

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I don’t know about you, but Ryan Graudin is one of my all-time favorite authors. She was first introduced to me through Uppercase when I received her book Wolf by Wolf in the November 2016 box. It was phenomenal. I’m a history geek and I couldn’t get over how beautiful the reimagined history was.

This book is another wild ride through history — and I fell in love. The characters, the settings, the writing, the everything — I couldn’t get enough of it. I had to spit my feelings into an initial review on Goodreads:

I may have stayed up pretty late to finish this book but it was TOTALLY WORTH IT. I absolutely love Graudin’s writing. I was first introduced to it through Wolf By Wolf, and since then she has been an auto-buy author for me. I had the amazing opportunity to read an advance copy, which I have two of and *may* do a giveaway of. (However that may be a while as I have no extraneous money laying around at the moment…)

There was a part of the novel where it took a sudden turn, and there was a big reveal that I wasn’t sure to think about. It was like peeling back a third layer to find something completely new, and in the end I really loved the depth it added to the book as a whole.

Quite an amusing trip through history that I recommend for anyone. It includes a little bit of everything that you will love! Be sure to check this title out on

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

#throwbackthursday: 99 Days by Katie Cotugno Review

Hello hello! Today I’ll be reviewing a book that was released a few years ago and felt was worth talking about again, especially since the sequel will come out some time soon!

99 Days
Goodreads

Title: 99 Days

Author: Katie Cotugno

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Release Date: April 21, 2015

Source: Hardcover, US

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

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I read this one pretty darn fast. So fast that I didn’t even add it to my Goodreads until I had finished it. It was a quick, light read with dynamic characters that I enjoyed.

Here’s what I originally thought:

Do you like unlikable female characters? Definitely read this book if you do! I mean that in the most sincere and serious way possible. I’ve had enough of unlikable male characters still being forgiven for the bad things they do and not the female ones. It’s a double standard that I don’t want to participate in anymore. I’m not saying that what Molly does in this book is right, I’m saying that she’s flawed and more real because of it. I like the way this book ends, but more thoughts to come in a review!

Molly Barlow is quite unlikeable. She’s self-pitying, annoying at times, a bit of a player, HOWEVER (and this is a very large however) she was a character who grew and developed. I always say that if the character isn’t flawed then there is no conflict which results in no story. Since reading Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, I have found myself more of an advocate for unlikeable female characters. In one of her essays, Gay points out how we are more forgiving of male characters who are unlikeable versus female ones. So long story short, I have become more aware of what kind of characters I like and dislike.

And I find that I both loved and hated Molly — but that’s what I really enjoyed most about the book — her dynamic character. Obviously, Molly makes bad choices. Obviously, she has learned a lot and still has a lot more to go. I think that we all have a lot more to learn when we look at it. There are things that we don’t know that we think we do, and there is so much room for improvement.

This one isn’t for the faint of heart, those who just don’t want to wrestle with their main character (which is totally cool!), but if you’re up for the challenge this is the one.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

 

Book Review: Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Hello! Welcome to the blog! I hope you find what you’re looking for here. Today I’ll be talking about Geekerella by Ashley Poston — which I adored the whole time I read it.

Title: Geekerella

Geekerella

Author: Ashley Poston

Publisher: Quirk Books

Release Date: April 4, 2017

Source: ARC

Anything can happen once upon a con…

When geek girl Elle Wittimer sees a cosplay contest sponsored by the producers of Starfield, she has to enter. First prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s been scraping together tips from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her stepmother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all—not to mention a fangirl’s dream come true.

Teen actor Darien Freeman is less than thrilled about this year’s ExcelsiCon. He used to live for conventions, but now they’re nothing but jaw-aching photo sessions and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the diehard Starfield fandom has already dismissed him as just another heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, closet nerd Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

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This is the perfect tribute to fangirling and fandoms. I absolutely loved it the minute I picked this title up. Elle and Sage are friends I wish I had! Here’s what my first reaction was on Goodreads

I know it may seem like I dole out stars like it’s my job (well, actually it is), but this one deserves all of them. It’s Cinderella with a heaping of reality. I was wondering how Poshton would end it, especially since Elle seemed grounded the whole novel and I couldn’t have wished for anything better.

I kept thinking of A Cinderella Story the entire time and I loved how much this book reminded me of it!! I wasn’t sure what to think of this book at first so I put it down, but when I picked it back up I was instantly hooked. This captures what it’s like to be part of a fandom and what it means to be part of one. I can’t wait for you guys to come join me in this one 🙂

I don’t know about you, but I love the original A Cinderella Story with Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray. Seriously, they were all I could think of while reading this book. It was so amazing. For this retelling though, I’d say Poston hit the mark and made something even better. (Sorry, Chad 😉 )

This was SO FREAKIN CUTE! I got some Pride and Prejudice vibes reading this as well, if Darcy and Lizzie had modern technology and all. I think one of my favorite parts of the whole book was the cast of characters. Elle, Sage, Darien, even the step sisters! All of them came together to create such an awesome story. Elle’s blogging and her *obsession* with Starfield was something I, and I’m sure many others, could identify with. For so long, there have been geek girls without geek girls in books, movies, etc. and finally we’re starting to have the rise of the geek girl — and it’s really freaking amazing. I love Elle (and Ashley!) for that.

So with that I bid you adieu! Get reading!

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Book Review: Teach Me to Forget by Erica M. Chapman

GUYS! I’M GETTING THERE, I’M GETTING THERE! And by “getting there” I mean I’ve written 3 reviews by now and still have a considerable amount of work to still get done (only 25 more to go, as of now) 🙂 NO WORRIES THOUGH, I BELIEVE IN MYSELF! And that’s what counts, right?

Title: Teach Me to Forget

Author: Erica Chapman

Publisher: SimonPulse

Release Date: December 2, 2016

This is the story of Ellery, a girl who learns how to live while waiting for the date she chose to die.

Ellery’s bought the gun, made arrangements for her funeral, and even picked the day. A Wednesday. Everything

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has fallen into place.

Now all she has to do is die.

When her plans go awry and the gun she was going to kill herself with breaks, she does the one thing she has control over–return it and get a new one. After tormenting the crusty customer service associate by trying to return the gun with the wrong receipt, Ellery gets caught by the security guard who also happens to be someone she knows–the annoyingly perfect Colter Sawyer from her English class.

Colter quickly uncovers what she’s hiding and is determined to change her mind. After confessing a closely held secret of his own, he promises not to tell hers. Ellery tries to fight her attraction to him as the shadows of her past cling tight around her, but when she’s faced with another tragedy, she must decide whether she can learn to live with what she’s done or follow through with her plan to die.

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I think what I liked best about this book was Ellery’s voice. Throughout the entire book, I felt like I could truly relate to what Ellery was saying and feeling. One of the hard things, I have come to find out, is trying to understand a person going through this kind of situation. Reading this book really helped expand my knowledge about this subject and what kind of things people are feeling when they are experiencing this.

One thing I didn’t like a lot about this was a specific scene between Ellery and Colter and then the sudden turn around of the situation. I’m not going to talk about it specifically because it would give away some major plot points, but that’s one thing that irked me. I felt like it was a bit rushed and confusing how the whole thing happened. However, this didn’t put a hamper on my enjoyment of the novel as a whole.

There’s a twist ending that I actually enjoyed and wasn’t expecting (well, duh). It was a refreshing take on the whole situation and I’m glad it left things like that. I wish I would be able to get to know Ellery more after the story ends, but I guess I’ll have to sit here waiting forever 😛

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Book Review + Giveaway: All Things New by Lauren Miller

Hey there! I’m here to celebrate the release of Lauren Miller’s latest book – All Things New. I was sent an early copy of this book, and I cannot wait to share it with  you all 🙂

Title: All Things New

All Things New
Goodreads | Amazon

Author: Lauren Miller

Release Date: August 1, 2017

Publisher: Three Saints Press

Synopsis: Jessa has always felt broken inside, but she’s gotten very good at hiding it. No one at school knows about the panic attacks, the therapy that didn’t help, the meds that haven’t worked. But when a severe accident leaves her with a brain injury and visible scars, Jessa’s efforts to convince the world that she’s okay finally crumble—now she looks as shattered as she feels.

Fleeing from her old life in Los Angeles, Jessa moves to Colorado to live with her dad, where she meets Marshall, a boy whose kindness and generous heart slowly draw Jessa out of her walled-off shell and into the broken, beautiful, real world—a place where souls get hurt just as badly as bodies, and we all need each other to heal.

ALL THINGS NEW is a love story about perception and truth, physical and emotional pain, and the messy, complicated people we are behind the masks we put on for the world, perfect for fans of ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES and THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.

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REVIEW

I really enjoyed this book! I wasn’t sure what to think at first and I was a bit apprehensive. However, as I continued to read I really started to enjoy it, and I couldn’t put it down.

Overall the plot was well done. I enjoyed the small twists and turns that Miller took us on through Jessa’s journey. Jessa’s voice is clear and (I imagine) an accurate representation of anxiety. (The author writes from personal experience, and while I recognize this isn’t everyone’s experience, this is hers and it’s real, so there is truth to her story.) I really enjoyed reading her story and getting to know her quirks.

The other characters were fun to read about, too. I wish there was *a little* confrontation between Jessa and her ex-boyfriend, but I understand that probably would take away from focusing on Jessa. I liked the interaction of the group overall. Marshall is sweet and lets Jessa breathe. Hannah is a true friend to Jessa. The whole dynamic of their trio is fun and I wish I got to hang out with them!

There is an element of magical realism within the book – Jessa’s aphantasia as well as seeing scars/burns on people. Originally the doctors chalk it up to aphantasia, which is losing your mind’s eye or ability to visualize things in your head. However, as she recovers, Jessa discovers that the scars remain on others. I liked the idea of seeing visual representations of the hurt that people feel and are going through. It helped Jessa a lot in seeing that though her pain is very much visible, there are so many things that people don’t talk about that they’re experiencing.

Overall, I really liked this book. I remember the day I finished it I was late to hanging out with my friends because I *had* to finish it! 🙂 Oh, there also are some spoilers for The Picture of Dorian Gray in there, but I loved how it was intertwined with the story!

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GIVEAWAY

This giveaway will run from today until August 8 (8/8) at midnight. The rules are as follows:

-US and Canada residents only

-Must be 18 years or older or have parental permission

HERE’S THE LINK a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Book Chat: Reading Slumps

Hello! Hope you’re having a great week thus far. I’ve got a short week this week at school, so I have a lot of time to read! (Well, and do other things like see Beauty and the Beast with my friend and watch more Glee.)

Today I wanted to talk to you about reading slumps. We’ve all been there. You’ve just finished a phenomenal book and you’re still living in the wonderful world that just ended (or didn’t if it’s a series unless it was the last book in that one). Alas, all good things must come to an end at some point. Yet, you want to go back in time and start reading that book for the first time again. I have felt that way with many books (The Upside of Unrequited being the latest probably).

As a book blogger, being in a reading slump is the worst. I need to read so I can review and stay up to date with all of the buzz! So what do I do to fight this? Here are a few of my tried and true tricks.

1) Read a contemporary. I love contemporaries because they’re light and fluffy. Many of them have strong underlying messages in them too, and I love them even more for that. It’s nice to take a dip into the “real” world and see someone go through something that you have (or haven’t) and sympathize with their plight. Also, I love how fast they usually go. Some of my go-to contemporaries are To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny HanThe Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli, anything by Sarah Dessen, and the latest contemporary that I bought.

2) Re-read my favorites. I don’t know how you people expect me to have just one favorite book. I have some all-time favorites (To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Shug by Jenny Han, You Were Here by Cori McCarthy to name a *few*). Re-reading a favorite book is an awesome solution because it’s revisiting a world that you’ve come to love. I always find that there are details that I missed the first time around and it’s fun to find all of the new things about the book that I love.

3) Start reading multiple different books. This one isn’t for everyone! I know it’s tough to read more than one book at a time for a lot of people, but if I’m feeling a slump come on I start a bunch of different books. Chances are one is going to grab me and suck me in. After I finish that one I have all of the other ones that I started that I can come back to. I slowly make my way through my books this way. (I have so much that I have to read vs. ones that I want to read in addition to this that it’s necessary to read more than one book at a time.) If the book that you picked up isn’t working for you then you can try one that you already started and come back to it later! This is how I finish so many books around the same time. It’s pretty effective when you have a huge tbr stack.

I hope my tips have helped! Are there any tried and true ways that you use to get out of a slump? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading,

Sophie