Hi there! Checking in for the month because honestly, I can’t remember the last time I did this. I know for sure I missed June, but hey, we can’t all be perfect.

I’ve been super busy since leaving school in May, and pretty much hit the ground running. Work has consumed a lot of my life. I don’t mind it, but I don’t love it either. I work at a mini golf course, and while it’s entertaining sometimes, the customers can be a pain. I’ve mastered my customer service voice, and my introvert soul gets a little anxious when it gets too busy. Right now we’re at the peak of our season, soon to be finishing up after the first weekend of August when a big festival in my town wraps up. It’s exhausting really, and I don’t get much of a social life because of opposite schedules with friends.

I have made time for my friends though! We try to visit each other when we can, and I do have a few here in town that it’s nice to see more often now that we’re home.

It’s truly a privilege to have made so many new friends my first year of school. I’m so glad I get to see them often in the summer too! Shoutout to all of my friends I’ve missed because our work schedules are literally the opposite or you live too far for my broke a** to drive and visit. I still love you!!!

Reading is something that has truly kept me sane these past couple of months. Diving into a good book never fails to calm my anxious brain. Sometimes it feels like I’m going a million miles a minute and it’s hard to take a step back, but this is one trick that has always worked for me. I read 21 books since I got home in May, so that’s 7 books per month about. But that doesn’t count the books I read in the first weeks of May and what I’ll read in the last weeks of July. Needless to say, I’ve been quite busy, but unfortunately not very active here. I’m hoping with the coming school year I can get my blogging act together and write regularly. Until anything like that happens, it’ll be sporadic posting :/

ANYWAY

Here are a few of my current obsessions:

Books:

  •  The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang was excellent and I stayed up until 2 AM because I made the mistake of starting it late. I happened to have to work at 9:30 the next day but who cares. Y’all need to get your hands on a copy of it stat.
  • A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman is an anthology of Asian myths and legends. I  started this a few nights ago and I love it so much! This is something I wish I had when I was younger. There isn’t enough space for Asian stories in America.

Music:

  • BTS — you may or may not have heard of this kickass KPop group. Guys, I can’t stop listening to them. Love Yourself: Tear is a gift to humans everywhere and I can’t wait for Love Yourself: Answer this August!!!!!!!

TV:

  • KDramas — following my obsession with BTS my friend and I watched Hwarang because one of the members is in it. Cue my continued watching of other dramas. I love the stories and how intricate they become. There are, of course, some downfalls to the stories, but I’m obsessed either way. I’m always looking for recs if you have them!

 

See y’all next month! Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

 

Advertisements

My Bookish Life pt. ? vol. 3: July 2018

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

Title: American Panda

American Panda
Goodreads | Amazon

Author: Gloria Chao

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Source: Hardcover, US

My rating: 5/5 Goodreads stars

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

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

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

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

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

Here are a few comments I made right afterward:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20180210_150017

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

 

 

 

Review: American Panda by Gloria Chao

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

My Bookish Life pt. 2, vol. 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

 

My Bookish Life pt. 1, vol. 3

Hi guys! I’m back with another installment of throwback Thursday reviews in which I review a book that I’ve read that was released more than 2 years ago.

I know this technically wasn’t over two years ago, but I feel this is slightly long enough that I can still post this review on my Throwback day. Ahh heck, this is my blog and I can do what I want with it 😛

Title: Ever the Hunted

Ever the Hunted (Clash of Kingdoms, #1)
Gooreads | Amazon

Author: Erin Summerill

Publisher: HMH Teen

Release date: December 27, 2016

My rating: 4/5 Goodreads stars

Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

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

I decided to read this because I was a bit impatient with my current reads. It took a bit of time to get into, but I did enjoy it in the very end. I remember when I was finishing this book that I told my roommate that I wasn’t going to bed until it was done, and it was definitely worth staying up later.

OKAY SO LIKE THAT JUST HAPPENED?! OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD🙈 I am SO ready for the second book, and it was a good thing that I have it on me somewhere!!

I could not wait to read the second book, and I’m glad to have the second one right here. I haven’t gotten to it yet (too many other books I have to read at the moment), but I’m so excited to do so.

Britta was a fun character to get to know. For a bit I found her a little annoying, but after a while I found myself rooting for her as she travelled across Malam. She has verve and works hard for what she wants. Something that I quite enjoyed was discovering her inner strength with her. I wanted her to want to be more, I wanted her to come into herself. I think there’s more room for growing, but I liked the direction she was going in toward the end.

I wish I got to know the world it was set in a little more. I felt like I was looking for more details than what we got, but I did love that it included a map in the pages! Books with maps are a special kind of awesome. I feel like it gives you a much better sense of positioning in the entire book.

All in all this was a pretty good read. I recommend it to those who are looking to settle in for a good, long adventure.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

#tbt: Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

Hi guys! How are you all doing today? I love mysteries, so when I found out Maureen Johnson was writing another mystery I was extremely excited. I had the opportunity to read this thanks to her publicist reaching out to me for a review.

Title: Truly Devious

Truly Devious (Truly Devious, #1)
Goodreads | Amazon

Author: Maureen Johnson

Publisher: HarperCollins

Release date: January 16, 2018

My rating: 5/5 Goodreads stars

Author Maureen Johnson weaves a tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a new series.

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.

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

This book reminded me a lot of something like A Study in Charlotte but with a completely different plot. The tone was similar and the setting was a bit similar, and I love it for some of the same reasons. Here’s what I thought initially:

I NEED THE SECOND BOOK IN MY HANDS NOW. OH MY GOODNESS🤤 What a fantastic mystery by an excellent author! Johnson is a *truly* fabulous author and I’m so glad to have read her latest!

Once I was close to the end of the book I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. It was so amazing and gorgeous. I can’t wait for the second book, LIKE I HAVE QUESTIONS PEOPLE. THEY NEED TO BE ANSWERED!

The plot was very intricate and I love how it all twisted in ways that you thought you knew what was going to happen, but you ended up being completely wrong. I thought the end was going to be so many different things. I’m dying to know where the next book will take us!

I love the cast of characters in this book. Something that Stevie openly struggles with in the book are mental health problems. While this is plainly seen, it isn’t the central focus of the novel. I like this representation and how it talks about how Stevie lives with her mental illness. Another thing Stevie struggles with is feeling like she fits in at Ellingham. All of the students have a thing that they are there for and Stevie is there to specifically solve the Ellingham case. She feels a bit like an impostor for being there, but I think this is what moves the plot forward.

Stevie’s friends Janelle and Nate are fun. I like their different relationships and how they are with each other. They aren’t quite as tight as other trios, but I think is what sets them out from the rest. There are a lot of friends groups that I know where everyone isn’t as close as you would think them to be. I feel that despite them not being as close they understand each other well. I can’t wait to see more of them in the next book(s)!!

One of my favorite parts of the book is the element of true crime. I recently got into BuzzFeed Unsolved series on YouTube, and ugh, I look forward to it every Friday night. I really connected with Stevie over this, and I wonder if she would follow the series too.

All in all, this was a wonderful book. I highly recommend it to crime lovers and people who love a good mystery.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Hi there! What better to start off the New Year than with a review! Happy release day to this lovely book and so many other ones.

Someone to Love
Goodreads | Amazon

Title: Someone to Love

Author: Melissa de la Cruz

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Release date: January 2, 2018

Edition: Hardcover, US

Source: Copy Provided by Publicist

My rating: 3/5 Goodreads stars

Constantly in the spotlight thanks to her politician father’s rising star, Olivia Blakely feels the pressure to be perfect. As the youngest girl in her class, she tries hard to keep up and to seem mature to the older boy she’s crushing on, even as she catches his eye. But the need to look good on camera and at school soon grows into an all-consuming struggle with bulimia.

As Liv works toward her goal of gaining early admission to art school, including taking part in an upcoming student show, her life spirals out of control. Swept up in demands to do more than she’s ready for, to always look perfect and to succeed, Liv doesn’t know who she is anymore. It will take nearly losing her best friend and even her life for Liv to learn that loving herself is far more important than earning the world’s approval.

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

This was my last read of 2017! It was exciting to finish it because I was reading it right up until I left for my NYE plans 🙂

Here are some of my initial thoughts from Goodreads:

Last read of the year! Shoutout to my friend Logan and my mom for betting on me to finish 2 more books before the new year!! Crushed it 🙂

This book was interesting. I was sent a copy for review thanks to the publisher and publicist! Something that I liked was the truth to Olivia’s story. Her journey is a hard one, and I like the way it was captured.

More thoughts to come, Happy New Year everyone!

One thing I realized later in the book was that it was set in the same universe as Something in Between which was released in fall of 2016. (You can read my review of that book here.) This was one of my favorite aspects of the book. It was four years in the future, and I loved how you got to know the minor characters in that book much better through this book.

Liv is a very dynamic character. She is very stubborn and is worried about showing vulnerability. It’s something that speaks true to what it is really like to be human. I can’t personally speak on what it’s like to have anxious thoughts, but I feel that this book conveys it well. You read about Liv and her thoughts come so naturally that it doesn’t feel forced at all.

The supporting characters were well written as well. I feel that they have very common reactions that anyone from the outside would have. It seems that they represent all of the different ways that someone could react.

Generally this was a good read. It was something I had to pick up and put down a few times, but I was compelled enough to finish it. I wanted to know the outcomes of all of the different characters, and Liv was a lovely character.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Book Review: Someone to Love by Melissa de la Cruz

Well, it has been quite the year, hasn’t it? Hi there! If you’re new to the blog, welcome, and if you’ve been with us here for a while then thanks for sticking around.

A lot of major changes happened not only in my life, but in the lives of many this year. With the new administration being ushered in during January to the recent wave of women raising their voices together, it was a time of social change and upheaval. This is the time in which we make a difference. I am so excited (and nervous!) to be part of this.

A few things that changed for me…

Well one of them is that I graduated from high school! It was exhilarating and quite the whirlwind. I can’t believe it happened. Senior year was something for sure. It was a whole year full of lasts — last band camp, last band concert, last Model UN conference… I can’t believe all of that happened within the span of nine months. I mean, WHAT?! Mind = blown

Something else new? College! Here are some snapshots

I’m so lucky to have met all of these wonderful people this year, pictured and not. I can’t thank them enough for bringing such happiness to my life. Thank you to those who have stuck by me all of these years. They have been there for me in truly some of the worst times, and I can’t wait for many more years of friendship.

This has been a hard year with a lot of growing pains. I am in disbelief of the turn of world events. It is something that I couldn’t fathom happening in 2016, but I have hope that it will bring better change. It has certainly brought louder voices and more awareness to the injustices of today’s society. I can’t help but appreciate all that has been done thus far.

Book-wise…

I read almost 105 books this year! My goal was to read 80, but I finished that in late October, and one does not simply stop reading. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have books to get me through some things. I unfortunately fell really behind on my reviews here, but I am hoping to change that in the new year!

And in 2018…?

I am really looking forward to the change in the calendar year. It will bring the end of my freshman year of college and the start of my sophomore year. I hope to meet so many more new people, and I hope to keep a lot of my old friends.

My reading goal will be set at 100 this time, and I really hope to reach it (again). I want to blog more, and I want to make more time for writing. I feel that it’s something I want to improve upon and sharpen. Who knows, maybe I’ll start writing my own book at some point.

With that, I bid you farewell 2017. Thank you, dear readers, for your continued support. ❤

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

 

2017 Wrap Up: Graduation, College, and Books (Of Course!)

Hey guys! I’m here to celebrate the release of this super cool retelling of Twelve Dancing Princesses — The Midnight Dance!

About the Book

The Midnight DanceThe Midnight Dance
by Nikki Katz
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: October 17th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Synopsis:

When the music stops, the dance begins.

Seventeen-year-old Penny is a lead dancer at the Grande Teatro, a finishing school where she and eleven other young women are training to become the finest ballerinas in Italy. Tucked deep into the woods, the school is overseen by the mysterious and handsome young Master who keeps the girls ensconced in the estate – and in the only life Penny has never known.

But when flashes of memories, memories of a life very different from the one she thinks she’s been leading, start to appear, Penny begins to question the Grand Teatro and the motivations of the Master. With a kind and attractive kitchen boy, Cricket, at her side, Penny vows to escape the confines of her school and the strict rules that dictate every step she takes. But at every turn, the Master finds a way to stop her, and Penny must find a way to escape the school and uncover the secrets of her past before it’s too late.

Purchase: 

About the Author

Nikki Katz is an author and editor living in sunny San Diego with her three children. NikkiWith a BS in aerospace engineering, Nikki first put her writing skills to use publishing four nonfiction books. She moved on to writing young adult fiction, her favorite genre to read as well. TheMidnight Dance is her debut novel.
Author links:

Review

Get ready for a book with a few Gothic elements that definitely reminded me of Phantom of the Opera mixed with 12 Dancing Princesses. I do have to say that I love retellings!

Penny is an interesting and dynamic character. She is a bit naive to begin with, but as the story continues we see her develop into someone who I found myself rooting for. She’s someone who makes mistakes, and sometimes those cause a lot of trouble for her, but it’s relatable in the sense that we all do regrettable things.

The Master gave me Phantom vibes especially with his large air of mystery and the kind of attention he attracts. While he’s more of a visible character in the setting of the story, he still calls for the sort of weird obsession that people have with the Phantom. That’s not to say that he’s a bad character – he invokes the curiosity needed and is cloaked in an air of austerity.

The plot is a bit slower at the beginning and it took me a few chapters to really get into it, but once you get to more of the intrigue and mystery things start to really pick up.

Giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway (US/CAN)
  • Print copy of The Midnight Dance
  • Ends November 2nd

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule

October 16th
blogs and coffee >> Guest post
Comma Hangover >> Review
MNBernard Books >> Interview
Gemmas Book Nook >> Review
Bibliofagista >> Review

October 17th
Girls With Books >> Excerpt
Smada’s Book Smack >> Review
Darque Dreamer Reads >> Review
Lisa Loves Literature >> Interview
Reaching While Rooted >> Review

October 18th
CBY Book Club >> Excerpt
Booked J >> Review
readingwithwrin >> Review
The Bibliophile Confessions >> Excerpt
Angelic Book Reviews >> Review
Caffeine and Composition >> Review

October 19th
The Candid Cover >> Interview
The Booknerd Dragon >> Review
Books of a Shy Girl >> Review
The Mind of a Bookdragon >> Review

October 20th
Dani Reviews Things >> Guest post
Bibliobibuli YA >> Review
Spinatale Reviews >> Review
Jena Baxter’s Bookworms >> Review

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Blog Tour: The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz Review & Giveaway

Hello there! Happy Sunday 🙂 This is coming to you a little later because I had my first regatta today! It was rainy and cold, but we did well for the circumstances. Today I’m here to talk about The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis. This book has been released in Australia, the author’s country, but is set to release in America this coming Tuesday.

Title: The Sidekicks

The Sidekicks
Goodreads

Author: Will Kostakis

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Expected Release: October 17, 2017

Source: ARC*

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Ryan, Harley and Miles are very different people–the swimmer, the rebel and the nerd. All they’ve ever had in common is Isaac, their shared best friend.

When Isaac dies unexpectedly, the three boys must come to terms with their grief and the impact Isaac had on each of their lives. In his absence, Ryan, Harley and Miles discover things about one another they never saw before, and realize there may be more tying them together than just Isaac.

An intricately woven story told in three parts, award-winning Australian author Will Kostakis makes his American debut with this heartwarming, masterfully written novel about grief, self-discovery and the connections that tie us all together.

*This ARC was sent to me for an honest review by the publisher. Huge thanks to Harlequin Teen!

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

I loved the voice in this book so much. Miles was probably my favorite narrative of the three. His voice was the strongest, and his grief — all of their grief — was so genuine.
I felt the most connection with Miles, though.

The three points of view were a little choppy. I wish the set up of the book alternated POVs every three chapters so we kept moving forward in the story than going back with each change. It would have been cool to see them cope and come together in real time too.

I loved the dynamic between the three of these guys. They were genuine and found a way to be there for each other when it mattered the most. However, it was hard to truly connect with any of them and get a real feel for their friendship due to the structure of the book. I truly wish it had been reorganized. I also didn’t quite like how there weren’t any chapters in the three sections.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Harley’s POV was my least favorite due to its choppiness, but the first and last parts were best.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Sneak Peek Sunday: The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis