Book Chat: February Wrap-up

Happy hump day, book lovers! How have you been this February? It’s been so busy around here, and I barely have time to get everything done, let alone read. Thankfully, I can listen to a lot of audiobooks in between things!

How are you doing on your reading goal this year? I think I’m ahead actually. I’ve read 20 books already, and I’m surprised I’ve made so many.

Here’s what I read in February:

  • The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger of LA) by Amy Spalding
  • The Reader by Traci Chee
  • The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis
  • Internment by Samira Ahmed
  • The Speaker by Traci Chee
  • The Storyteller by Traci Chee
  • The Midnight Star by Marie Lu
  • A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGuiness
  • My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life by Rachel Cohn
  • Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider

I loved the last book in The Young Elites series so much!! It was heart crushing, but I loved the writing and characters so much. I also couldn’t get enough of The Sea of Ink and Gold trilogy. The world was soooo beautiful, and I was captured right at the beginning.

I liked most of the books I read this month, but I didn’t quite like My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life. It was okay, but there were a few things that I didn’t really vibe with. Hopefully I’ll have time to get to a full review of that book this year! Speaking of reviews, you can read my review of Internment here! I really hope you have a chance to dive into that amazing book this year.

That’s all I’ve got for today, folks! Have a wonderful March!

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

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Book Chat: Dumplin’ & Other Book-to-Screen Adaptations

Hello there, and happy Wednesday! I’m here today chatting about book-to-movie adaptions. With Netflix and Hulu especially, we can look forward to more (hopefully!) amazing adaptations in the coming years.

Book-to-movie adaptations are hard because usually there’s already an established fanbase of the book. They have certain things that are imperative to following from the books, and some details, unfortunately, have to get left out. Some adaptations are so bad that the author doesn’t even endorse the movie (can anyone say Percy Jackson?).

Today I want to talk about some of the best book-to-movie adaptations that I’ve seen and loved.

  1. Dumplin’ Originally a YA novel by Julie Murphy, this movie hit the small screen on December 7, 2018. Thanks to Netflix, people everywhere (in America at least, I’m unclear about the rights within other countries) were able to see this fantastic movie. This movie follows Willowdean Dickson, the fat daughter of a beauty queen. Grappling with the loss of her aunt, Willowdean goes searching to become the woman her aunt always saw in Willowdean. Willowdean decides to rebel by entering the pageant her mother won all those years ago. Let me tell you, guys, I had so much fun watching this movie! I felt that it was a great one with proper representation. This one is definitely one you want to consider watching over and over again. Be sure to check out the book first! You can add it on Goodreads and read my review of it here.

2. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

I was super excited for this book to become a movie. I absolutely adore Jenny Han, and this series means a lot to me. I was not disappointed! Released in late summer, this movie was perfect to wrap up the season and get people back in the mood for that sweet high school romance. This movie is an ode to sisters and makes itself right at home among the classic 80s movies starring Lana Candor and Noah Centineo. This movie also does a great job with representation thanks to Han fighting for the Song Sisters not to be white-washed. Don’t miss out on this movie! (Unfortunately, it’s only available on Netflix as well.) I highly encourage you reading the book first! Add it on Goodreads.

3. The Hate U Give

For some reason, it took me a little bit of time to really read this book, but once I did, it was awesome. This movie was phenomenal. I saw it twice in theaters, and both times I cried. The story follows Starr Carter, a girl who feels caught between her worlds of living in her poor neighborhood and going to a wealthier private school across town. When she witnesses her childhood best friend get shot by a white cop, Starr becomes the key witness on the case. Tensions rise and sides are taken. Make it a double-feature and add the book on Goodreads.

4. Love, Simon

Originally titled Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, this movie is the perfect one to watch on your night in. I absolutely loved the book and when I found out it was becoming a movie I think I squealed out loud. Love, Simon follows Simon Spier, a not-so-out gay teen in Georgia, when he begins exchanging emails with the elusive Blue, another gay student at his high school. As Blue and Simon get to know each other more, their secrecy is threatened when someone blackmails Simon with the emails. Navigating an increasingly tense friend group and his suddenly uncertain relationship, Simon finds he needs to step out of his comfort zone. I highly recommend you read this book first! It was so good, and I love all of Becky’s novels. Add it on Goodreads and read my review.

What are some of the YA adaptations that you have seen lately? Have you seen any of these? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Book Birthday: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson (+ Giveaway!!)

“An intricately plotted, compulsively readable novel that explores not only fascinating crimes
but also the mysteries of anxiety, the creative process, contemporary fame, and so much else.”
— John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars and Turtles All the Way Down

Happy new book Tuesday! There are so many amazing releases today (Once a King by Erin Summerill, Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare, Fire and Heist by Sarah Beth Durst, to name a *few*). I wanted to take a moment to highlight the release of the amazing book Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson.  This book came out this past January, and it was absolutely incredible. I even posted a review on it.

This book is coming out in paperback today, and I highly encourage you all to go get yourself a copy if you haven’t already! It’s perfect for that last minute holiday gift 🙂

Here’s a little more info on the book:

New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson weaves a delicate tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a striking new series, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and E. Lockhart.
Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.” Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.
True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

Truly Devious returns in The Vanishing Stair

Did you know that the sequel to Truly Devious is coming out in January 2019? You definitely will want to snatch up this follow up novel. I just finished this book on Sunday, and YOU GUYS IT WAS EPIC!!! I’m dying to read book three already!!! Here is the link to the Goodreads page. (I would include the description, but it includes spoilers for Truly Devious!)

Giveaway

Thanks to the publisher I’m giving away a copy of Truly Devious! The giveaway will end on December 11, so make sure to enter by then! U.S. and Canada only please.

Be sure to follow the link to the Rafflecopter! 

Happy reading, Sophie 🙂

Review: Damsel by Elana K. Arnold

Happy new book Tuesday! I’m wanted to wish everyone letting a book into the world a happy book birthday!!giphy

I’m sorry, I had to put this in there. (It is, after all, the day I’m going to see BTS IN CONCERT!!)

ANYWAY! I’m here today to talk about Damsel by Elana K. Arnold, which is a really important book to talk about now more than ever. Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy! This did not in any way impact the way I read and reviewed this book.

Title: Damsel

Damsel
Goodreads | Amazon

Author: Elana K. Arnold

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Release date: October 2, 2018

My rating: 4/5 Goodreads stars

The rite has existed for as long as anyone can remember: when the prince-who-will-be-king comes of age, he must venture out into the gray lands, slay a fierce dragon, and rescue a damsel to be his bride. This is the way things have always been.

When Ama wakes in the arms of Prince Emory, however, she knows none of this. She has no memory of what came before she was captured by the dragon, or what horrors she has faced in its lair. She knows only this handsome prince, the story he tells of her rescue, and her destiny to sit on the throne beside him. Ama comes with Emory back to the kingdom of Harding, hailed as the new princess, welcomed to the court.

However, as soon as her first night falls, she begins to realize that not all is as it seems, that there is more to the legends of the dragons and the damsels than anyone knows–and that the greatest threats to her life may not be behind her, but here, in front of her.


I was really excited to read this book when I got it in the mail. I had just seen it coming across my recommended lists in Amazon.

The first part of the book was pretty eerie. It chronicles how Emory saves Ama and defeats the dragon. I thought it was strange how everything was characterized, and I knew immediately I wouldn’t really like Emory.

The further the book carried on the more I got anxious for Ama. (I just want to say I had a feeling, referring to the end.) I was enraged for Ama the more Emory got controlling (not that he wasn’t at the very beginning). The more Ama dug into her surroundings in Harding, the more the mystery grew and the more self-aware she became. I loved how much she grew throughout the year. It was amazing to see her empower herself.

I didn’t know how to feel about Emory’s mother. There’s a lot she had to contribute to Ama finding herself, but she also didn’t really encourage Ama to leave the toxic environment.

The ending, finding out what the third weapon was, and seeing what ultimately happened was pretty epic. I was satisfied that we got to see Ama become herself. I knew that it would be a happy ending for Ama.

This highlights the important topic of how we build these kinds of happy narratives about the knight in shining armor. Emory genuinely doesn’t do anything wrong in the book, but he does! He does really terrible things, and they find it excusable.

I sincerely hope you read this book, because it’s so empowering.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Book Chat: Thoughts on Asian Representation & Why it Matters

Hi, guys! I hope you all have been having a lovely summer so far. As it winds to a close with the fall equinox rapidly approaching, August has brought to us a wealth of Asian stories. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han are two very different, very unique stories starring narratives of Asian main characters and both have been released as movies in the same weekend. There have been a series of Tweets recently about why Asian stories don’t matter, and that is plain hurtful. I can’t even begin to explain what I’m feeling because everything is so tightly wound together. So here’s my piece on WHY THEY DO MATTER. BECAUSE ALL REPRESENTATION MATTERS.

With the heady rush to see and support both of these masterful creations, it’s important to stop and think about why these movies (and books) mean so much to the Asian-American community.

While Crazy Rich Asians certainly isn’t exclusively a story about only Asian-Americans (the only Asian-Am character is Rachel Chu), it still stands as a great feat because it stars an all Asian-American cast, the first in 25 years. Why did it take so long for America to produce a movie like this again? The fight for representation reaches to all people of color, and that includes Asian people and culture. This should be done in a respectful manner, not done by white people who think they have an idea of what Asian people would like. And that is something that has happened for far too long. This story follows Asian families and tells an Asian story. It centers around the vast diversity within the Asian community and includes many nuances that are hard to grasp if you’re not born and raised in it.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was originally only a YA contemporary novel written by Jenny Han. It was the first time I clearly remember seeing an Asian girl on a book cover. It was published in 2015. At that point I was already 16 years old. For me to have lived as long as I did without seeing someone who looked like me on something as simple as a book cover is mind blowing. What about all of the people who lived longer without this kind of simple representation? Think of all of the covers with white people on it. There are gobs of them. I want to emphasize that this isn’t terrible, but it’s something to consider when our nation quite frankly is not all white. It has never been solely white people.

TATBILB is not a story about a girl and her Asian-ness. And not every story featuring a person of color has to be that kind of teaching moment. It shouldn’t have to be. People of color shouldn’t have to explain themselves and who they are to be accepted as people. We want to see people who look like us doing things that we do. We go to school, go to work, fall in love, fall out of love, get angry, get into arguments, make amends. We live as normally as anyone else. When this kind of story is missing, it is saying that they are less important than others. It takes away the unique struggles that we face as people of color because of our skin. Not every person of color faces the same challenges either. What matters is that these problems we face get acknowledged. We have been silenced and told our stories don’t matter for so long. We can no longer stand for this. People of color need to raise each other up. Everyone wants a piece of the equality pie, and fighting each other is counterproductive and hypocritical.


That’s all I’ve got for now, folks. Thanks for reading this piece!

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Book Review: A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan

Hi guys! As school draws near, I’m trying to get back into the swing of writing on here regularly. I had blogging regularly as one of my resolutions for the year, and it’s not too late to do it right?

ANYWAY! I’m here today with a review of A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan. Thank you to the publicist for getting in touch with me for a review of this book! I was provided a copy, but that does not influence the way I read and will review the book.

Title: A Touch of Gold

A Touch of Gold
Goodreads | Amazon

Author: Annie Sullivan

Publisher: Blink

Release date: August 14, 2018

Source: Hardcover, US

My rating: 3/5 Goodreads stars

King Midas once had the ability to turn all he touched into gold. But after his gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, Midas relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide.

Kora spends her days locked in the palace, concealed behind gloves and veils, trying to ignore the stares and gossip of courtiers. It isn’t until a charming young duke arrives that Kora realizes there may be someone out there who doesn’t fear her or her curse. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, leaving the treasury depleted and King Midas vulnerable. Thanks to her unique ability to sense gold, Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems—not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold—and the power it brings—is more dangerous than she’d ever believed.

Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost?

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

This book was a fun retelling. I was looking forward to it when I saw it pop up on my Instagram feed and I was immediately intrigued. Retelling? Check! A story we don’t hear often? Check! Great characters? Check!

Overall there were a lot of great things about this book. I loved the seafaring and courage of Kora. She was a great main character, and while it took me some time for the story to get going, I did enjoy hearing things from her perspective. That being said, I do wish she had had a stronger voice. I felt that it was a bit rough in the beginning, but toward the end she came out clearer. I’m not sure if it was done purposefully or not, but I couldn’t quite vibe with Kora for a good portion of the book.

The characters drive the plot of the story well. When we first meet the Duke, though, I wasn’t too sure of him. Kora trusted him too quickly in my opinion. He was the first man to show her true kindness outside of her family, and while his backstory provided a solid reason why, I couldn’t put my guard down. Kora’s cousin is so much fun. She was by far one of my favorite characters in the story.

The weaving of the story started out a bit strained, but in the end things came together. I think it’s hard especially for debut novels to really nail this on the head the first time. It was still done with considerably good writing! I enjoyed getting to know the setting, and I wish I had a map to see all of the places Kora went!

All in all, this was a good book. I’m curious to see what comes of the sequel! The ending left a lot to be wanted.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

 

 

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 🙂

Book Tour: Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington

Welcome to out tour stop for Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington! We’re so happy to host Jess here with an interview.

About the BookLove Songs & Other Lies Cover

Title: Love Songs & Other Lies

Author: Jessica Pennington

Publisher: Tor Teen

Release Date: April 24th, 2018

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Synopsis: It’s summer romance and second chances, the songs that stay in your head, and the boy you’ll never forget.

Two years after rock-song-worthy heartbreak, Virginia Miller is looking forward to a fun, carefree summer. Her friends just landed a spot on a battling bands reality show, and Vee is joining them for her dream internship on tour. Three months with future rockstars seems like an epic summer plan. Until she learns she’ll also be sharing the bus with Cam. Her first love, and her first heartbreak. Now Vee has more than just cameras to dodge, and Cam’s determination to win her forgiveness is causing TMZ-worthy problems for both of them. With cameras rolling, she’ll have to decide if her favorite breakup anthem deserves a new ending. And if she’s brave enough to expose her own secrets to keep Cam’s under wraps.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound | Powell’s

| Book Depository | Macmillan

 

 Jessica Pennington.jpg

About the Author

Jessica Pennington is no stranger to the combination of love and drama. She’s a wedding planner, after all. A writer since the age of ten—when she sought publication for her poem about a tree—Jessica likes the challenge of finding the humor in a sad situation or highlighting the awkwardness in a romantic one. She lives in a Michigan beach town suspiciously similar to the one in her books, where she’s currently finishing her second novel, WHEN SUMMER ENDS, out April 2019.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

 

Giveaway Rules:

1 winner will receive a signed hardcover of LOVE SONGS & OTHER LIES along with a swag bag filled with a t-shirt, bookmark, stickers, buttons, etc.

Rules are included inside the Rafflecopter giveaway

US only, 18+ or with parental permission

Ends on midnight May 12th, CDT

Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/f13123ce22/

Interview

Hi, Jess! So glad you could be here with us today. Why don’t you kick things off by telling us something we can’t find in your bio.

Hi, Sophie! I’m so excited to chat with you! I’m mildly obsessed with penguins. Is that in my bio? I don’t think so. But I am. I have a collection of penguin Christmas ornaments, and I don’t consider a zoo “legit” unless they have penguins on exhibit. The selfie I’m most proud of is one I took with a penguin (which was not easy!).

Describe your book in five words or less.

Oh, this is torture! Here goes nothing… first-love gets a second chance

A big part of this book is music (obviously lol). Do you listen to music while you write? What music got you through this novel in particular?

I listen to basically basically any time I’m awake. This book in particular, I listened to a lot of songs about love and breaking up. Which are my favorite kinds of songs anyway!

I love Vee! She’s an awesome MC. What was your favorite part about writing her?

Oh man, this is hard because I love a lot about Vee! I love how strong she is—even though she’s flawed and has fears like any teen girl—and also that she’s really open with people. I think there’s a real vulnerability about Vee and how she connects with people—you see it even in the way she connects with some of the crew on the tour bus.

If Vee were a song, which one would she be?

Well, most literally, she would be Meet Virginia by Train, because her parents named her after that song. But Yellow Shirt by The Icarus Account (which is Vee’s favorite song in the book) is one that I think describes her…she doesn’t see herself quite as clearly as those around her, but when she does, she’s this really magnetic kind of force.

There are a lot of details about touring and the music competition. Did you have to do a lot of outside research for this novel?

You know, there’s never been a reality TV show like the one in LS&OL (maybe there should be??) so I did have to rely on piecing together what I could find out about music tours and TV production and reality shows in general. I looked up layouts for tour buses, and for some of the venues they visit on the tour, and I had to map out the whole tour and how long it would take them to get from place to place. I have a whole road-trip map somewhere! That was actually one of the biggest pieces of research…figuring out the schedule for the whole show, and when they’d land where!

This is set after Vee’s first year at college which is awesome! I love books set in this time period. Why did you decide to write about that summer?

I didn’t set out to write anything set in college, or even to write a dual-timeline novel, it just happened! I had written most of the THEN chapters before realizing that their story wouldn’t end in high school. But I chose that timing for them to meet again, because I wanted them to have enough time to grow and change a bit, but not enough that they’d totally healed from what happened between them.

Okay let’s wrap things up here, if you could collab with any author who would it be and why?

Oh man, this is a hard question! I think I’d say Katy Upperman, because I loved her debut novel Kissing Max Holden, and just finished an ARC of her second, The Impossibility of Us, which left me reeling. I think we have similarities in the kinds of stories we like to tell and the way we tell them. And she loved Love Songs & Other Lies, so I think we have that mutual appreciation for each other’s work, which would be important when doing a collab!

*****

Thank you, Jess for this amazing interview!! Be sure to pick this awesome book up!! Follow the rest of the tour here:

Monday 16th

LILbooKlovers – Interview

Ashleigh’s Bookshelf – Review

Tuesday 17th

The Clever Reader – Dream Cast

Tale Out Loud – Review

Wednesday 18th

Smada’s Book Smack – Top 10 Quotes

BookCrushin – Review

Thursday 19th

My Fangirl Chronicles – Excerpt

A Blunt Book Blog – Review

Friday 20th

BookishBitsBlog – Guest Post

Books. Life. and Everything Else. – Review

Monday 30th

The Candid Cover – Interview

Belle’s Archive – Review

Tuesday 1st

The Cursed Books – Playlist

The Heart of a Book Blogger – Aesthetic

Wednesday 2nd

Portrait of a Book – Aesthetic

Vicky Who Reads – Review

Thursday 3rd

The Mind of a Book Dragon – Interview

Boundless Bookaholic – Review

Friday 4th

Claerie’s Tales – Fanfiction

Librarian Laura – Interview and Excerpt

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 🙂

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 🙂