We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

 

IMG_2657Well, it took me long enough to write up this review and I want to do it justice because We Are Okay was one of the most beautifully written books I’ve read in 2017. I finished reading this one on the flight to Florida earlier in April and sadly, it took me this long to write the review. Will I ever be better at this? It’s now my personal goal this year to be a bad ass book blogger and not bore you with things like life updates <_<

Synopsis

28243032You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…

Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

Rating: 5/5 wintry evenings

My thoughts

Just a heads up, I have a lot of thoughts about this book. Good thoughts, but thoughts.

I truly loved this story and in the past few chapters of this book I couldn’t put it down. The story is laid out in a past/present format alternating between what happened before Marin disappeared and what’s happening in the future. The writing was in Marin’s point of view and really captured a maturity in someone who has seen a lot of tragedy in her life.

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The message: People grieve in different ways. Some people cry it out. Others hide it behind a mask. Some people push others away while others bring people closer. We lash out. We fight. We love. We create. We destroy. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve the loss of a friend, a loved one, a favorite pet. This is a story that shows the ways we grieve and how even though we try our best to keep a smile on our face or show people we’re ok, we’re sometimes not.

The story begins with Marin, a teenager who recently lost her grandfather. She’s in her dorm room in New York waiting for her childhood friend, Mabel, to arrive and spend the Holidays with her. However, there’s a huge veil of mystery surrounding Marin and the most important one being where she went for the few weeks before her first semester at school started.

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As the story goes along, you realize that Marin not only lost her grandfather, but her mother as well. What you get from Marin is raw, emotion-filled anxiety about who she is, who her family is, and will she ever recover from the loss of every stable entity in her life. She does the one thing that only makes sense to her and that’s to run away.

Fortunately, what you find is that she isn’t alone. Before disappearing, Marin developed feelings for her best friend Mabel and the two of them spent their summer languishing in youthful love. I loved the story between Mabel and Marin. It was unobstructed and not the plot of the story. This story could easily have been the struggle of two teenagers finding true love and the struggle for them to be accepted by society and their family, but it wasn’t and I loved it. The message stayed pure and that is that sometimes loss takes different forms in different people, but I think the most important message to take away from all of this is that nothing stays lost forever.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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Remember, it’s only a game…

Maybe it’s me or the most recent weeks, but I’ve been watching and reading a lot about warp realities and the mind playing tricks on you. What is real? What’s not real? How can you tell the difference?

In a world where you can’t tell what’s real and what’s not real, how do you know who your allies are? Who can you trust?

You can easily say the same with the characters in Caraval by Stephanie Garber.

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com) 

27883214Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Rating: 5/5 buttons

My thoughts

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What I would do for a letter to arrive to me with an exciting journey to a magical place. I’ve been waiting for my Hogwarts letter since I was a kid. Still haven’t gotten it yet.

For Scarlett, it came at the most inappropriate time; ten days before her wedding to a guy she doesn’t know. While she’s wanted to be invited since she was a kid, it wasn’t until she was an adult and getting married to someone that it finally happens. I think there’s a strong metaphor in where childhood fantasies end and real life begin. Stephanie Garber makes an amazing argument that sometimes we all need a little magic in our lives regardless of how old you are.

And Scarlett deserves it. I don’t want to give anything away, but living the life she’s had I’m surprised that she came out of her younger years with the hope of magic still in tact.

I love that Scarlett makes mistakes and tries things that fail. I love how human she is and how slowly she learns the magic of Caraval. I think that if she found things out quickly or tested a theory and it worked on the first try then the story would be a little less believable. She’d be a little less relatable and maybe even a less interesting novel. Who gets everything handed to them on a platter?

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For a fantasy novel, there isn’t a lot of world-building but in this case I think it’s fine since the majority of the novel takes place in a fantastical world within the world. For most world-building, you’re assuming that the characters will be roaming across this world to do whatever it is that they need to. Because Caraval is specifically about the game, the only world you really need to understand is Caraval and Stephanie Garber does a good job at that.

However, I would have loved to feel a little bit more a part of this world. While Stephanie Garber includes handwritten letters throughout the story, I’d love to see the green glass key or the carousel or even the room of stars at the very end. I get that it’s up for your mind to make up what these places will look like, I think if every chapter started with a little illustration then it’d really bring you further into this story.

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Finally, I also wonder if Stephanie Garber has synesthesia. I don’t know how to describe it well, but it’s your brain processing two things at once or doing them together. For example, some people are able to perceive different colors or numbers when associating a word, a person, or a food. It’s like two sensory parts of your brain combining together to create one. Anyway, the way Scarlett associates people with color and smells feels like she may be dipping into that part of her brain capacity. It’s quite interesting and it makes me wonder if the author is as well.

 

A Conjuring of Light by VE Schwab

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If you’re into video games, this book and its series definitely feels like you’re playing one. I think that goes double for A Conjuring of Light in which they have to fight a mega boss; a shadowy creature that inhabits its prey and forces them to do things. What would you do with your rag-tag team of magical people trying to save London?

If you’re into anime, this is also a good one for you. I could easily see this book series as an animated series as well. I guess that’s why it’s being optioned right now for a TV show!

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com)

29939230Witness the fate of beloved heroes – and enemies.

THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED…
The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.

WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?

WHO WILL RISE?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

Rating: 3/5 black-eyed princes

My thoughts

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I want to be really honest with you here. I love this book. I love this series. I love that it’s come to an end and everything is tied up into a nice little bow. But there was something about reading it that irked me. I think it had something to do with the length.

VE Schwab is an incredible author, but like many fantasy writers she falls prey to the world she’s creating. Every scene is detailed. Every movement is described. And for some, that’s an interesting part of the book. It helps to create the scene in their head. For others (like myself), it’s a little too much and sometimes it takes away from the rest of the story.

I don’t want my review here to influence you to not like this book. There will be tons of reviews who praise this book and find it to be an amazing end to a series. Trust me, I agree with those reviewers myself. But being the individual I am and the reader I am, I was a little disappointed by how long this final story was and how it dragged out a little bit. It’s the kind of thing that makes me like a story less. I’m sorry!

However, getting back to the good parts of this book, I swear it reads like either an anime or a video game. While you don’t get to learn about what Osaron actually is, you get to learn about Holland’s background. You get an ending that wraps up the entire series perfectly. You don’t get to learn about the origins of Kelly, but you’ll get some love action between Kell and Lila.

I think this books definitely has its ups and downs, but I want to stress how that’s never important to a novel. If the book is well written, it’s well written despite the things the author chose to omit. Perhaps they’ll be a prequel! Then that’ll be really fun.

 

 

 

Love, Life, and the Teen Dream

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Ah…young love.

Recently, a bookish friend asked me for some book suggestions. She was looking for teen romance novels for girls who are single and want to find love.

I obligingly provided her with a few of the authors that I loved (more on that in a little bit), but there was something I wanted address about the specific genre she was looking for. When I was a teenager, I desperately wanted the kind of love you can only get on the CW. That brooding dude with a mysterious past that’s good to you comes along to the school you’ve been sludging through the past three years and out of everyone he notices you.

It’s the same with these stories. You want to feel what these characters feel and how that one guy you hope will look at you does. 

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Here’s the funny thing about those stories; they’re not real. It’s work of pure fiction and when you go into reading a book about love, you should remind yourself that this is purely for enjoyment of stories. I know that these stories are beautiful and modeling your life a little bit off it is fun, but remember you are yourself and you’re in the middle of writing your own story. 

While I wanted to be one of those girls that fell in love in high school, I actually fell in love for the first time when I was 21. And even then, it wasn’t the best romance of my life. It shook me that I didn’t get to have that experience and it shook me even more when the mental and emotional abuse kicked in. Where is my Happily Ever After there? But then a few years after that, I found a person who loves me for who I am and finds no fault in me and jokes with me and is real with me and it’s better than any love story I’ve ever read. 

Even though that’s only one instance of love and there are tons of people who love their high school sweethearts there are literally billions of people on earth. Don’t limit yourself to that one guy or gal.  

I guess you can call me a cynic, but I want to say this as a person who is a full grown adult and in love; focus on yourself. Focus on what makes you happy and what you enjoy. There’s no point in impressing someone who doesn’t find you impressive, so impress yourself. There will always be someone on the periphery watching what you do and falling in love with you for it. You do you. Continue to be your lovable self. There is life after high school and that’s where most people fall in love. 

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Remember, what do all of those YA stories have in common? No one is going after each other. That goes for both men and women and for every gender in between! You should fall in love with someone who loves you and not with someone who doesn’t know you exist. Be your quirky self and you’ll find that the one person you didn’t even realize was The One will come to you when the time is right. Don’t rush it. It’ll only lead to heartache.

When you fall in love, you fall. Don’t get pushed and don’t throw yourself at it. Let it fall and hopefully someone will catch you.

Now, time for some romance novels for you young loves out there to read and dream of when your time will come:

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Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon – Review and Trailer!

Happy belated Valentine’s Day, y’all! The internet gifted us the other night with the new trailer for Everything, Everything and I’m in love!

I didn’t plan for the trailer to be released at the same time I was finishing this book. Since that’s the way it goes, I’ve decided to post both my review of the book as well as the new trailer.

You have no idea how excited I am about this!!!

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Synopsis (from Goodreads.com)

186924311My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Rating: 5/5 humuhumunukunukuapua’as

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My thoughts

Before you say anything about this book and your level of interest, I need to say something. If you’re an adult or perceive yourself to be an adult, pull yourself out of your adult mind and get excited to read a piece of young adult fiction. Watch out, folks, because I’m about to sell you this book.

Everything, Everything has everything (duh) that I love about YA. Yes, the book is set in the narrator’s teenage years, but like almost all the YA books I’ve read there are some hard hitting themes. It has love in all shapes and forms, identity crisis, family issues, and personal growth. When I read YA, I don’t do it because the world is easier in a YA novel. I do it because the stories are relatable and if you’ve ever been a teenager, then you know exactly what kind of stories these are.

I originally picked this book because of a few reasons. First, I loved The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon as well. Second, the main character is a POC but it’s the kind of story you want to read about POC. On one hand, it’s really important to read about struggling with identity and race, but on the other hand, it’s really important that you see POC characters played out the same way white characters would in a book. Meaning, hey, they live ordinary lives just like everyone else.

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Finally, being in an inter-racial relationship myself, you get to understand more that love has no color. My boyfriend loves me because of who I am and not because I’m Asian or not white or any of those. The world needs to evolve itself to the point that you’re dating someone because of what’s on the inside. You’re friends with someone because you have things in common and we are basically all the same despite where we come from. We’re all human and that’s super important to remember and see and be comfortable with in real life.

But let’s get back to the book.

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Yes, it’s about love but it’s also about life. It’s about what you would do if you met someone truly sick and you wanted to be their friend. It’s about a mother who’s been struggling with letting go of her tragic past. It’s about a young man who is trying his best to be the best son, brother, and friend possible. It’s about a young woman opening herself up to the world as well as to the possibilities beyond the four walls of her little home. You can guffaw at the insta-love (I know I did), but here you feel the same way you felt the first time you had a crush. It’s that warm and fuzzy feeling you feel everyday when you’re in love.

You feel so many emotions. So so many of them! And now you’ll see those emotions on the silver screen. If you need convincing on whether or not you should read this book, I would recommend taking a peek at the video above. It’ll tell you everything you need to know. Everything.

 

2017 Valentine’s Day Reads

I don’t know about you, but I had a lot of fun watching 50 Shades Darker this weekend as my own little Valentine’s Day gift!

With the opening of 50 Shades Darker over the weekend and a very popular romantic holiday coming up, I figured I’d give you a few of my favorite Valentine’s Day reads.

Whether you’re spending the day solo or with someone you love, nothing gets you in the mood like a good old fashion romance novel. The idea of quivering members and heaving bosoms doesn’t really get me in the mood, but if you’re in the mood for love you should definitely check out these reads. I decided to go with the ones that have a little bit of complication, but in the end everyone gets that happily ever after.

Anything You Can Do by R.S. Grey

33037374Lucas Thatcher has always been my enemy.

It’s been a decade since I’ve seen him, but our years on opposite coasts were less of a lasting peace and more of a temporary cease-fire. Now that we’re both back in our small town, I know Lucas expects the same old war, but I’ve changed since high school—and from the looks of it, so has he.

The arrogant boy who was my teenage rival is now a chiseled doctor armed with intimidating good looks. He is Lucas Thatcher 2.0, the new and improved version I’ll be competing with in the workplace instead of the schoolyard.

I’m not worried; I’m a doctor now too, board-certified and sexy in a white coat. It almost feels like winning will be too easy—until Lucas unveils a tactic neither of us has ever used before: sexual warfare.

The day he pushes me up against the wall and presses his lips to mine, I can’t help but wonder if he’s filling me with passion or poison. Every fleeting touch is perfect torture. With every stolen kiss, my walls crumble a little more. After all this time, Lucas knows exactly how to strip me of my defenses, but I’m in no hurry to surrender.

Knowing thy enemy has never felt so good. 

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

17788401When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

Hearts get infiltrated.
Promises get broken.
Rules get shattered.
Love gets ugly.

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

25486998While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

 

Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway

13132816Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.

She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

17838528Andie had it all planned out. When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future. Important internship? Check. Amazing friends? Check. Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life. Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected. And where’s the fun in that?

 

Also, you can just read 50 Shades of Grey if you’re not doing anything special and have a few hours to waste :/

 

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven – Book Review

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I love Jennifer Niven and when I heard she’s publishing another book, I immediately picked it up. Sadly (and a lot of other book people understand this), I’ve got a TBR pile on the verge of burying me in books sitting around waiting to be read. While it took me a few months to finally get to this book, I’m so glad I finally got to read this.

28686840Synopsis (from Goodreads.com) – Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

Rating: 4/5 stars

My thoughts – I’ve actually got a lot of thoughts about this book. To give you a brief explanation of this book, it’s about the pressures of fitting in high school and the problem we have with bullying. Two people, Libby and Jack, are both thrown into the high school experience in different ways. While Libby is verbally abused because of her weight, Jack hides himself and his disability to avoid the kind of ridicule Libby receives. Jack is considered “popular” while Libby is known for being pulled out of her own house by a crane.

The writing itself is very convincing. I’m always skeptic about writers writing from the opposite sex (male writing a female character’s point of view and vice versa), but Niven did an excellent job creating a voice for both Jack and Libby.

I think the only reason why I didn’t give the book a full 5/5 stars is because at some points I wasn’t really sure why Niven decided to go the way she did. Also, there’s some messing around with mental health. Libby “lets herself go” because she’s grieving her mother’s death. Jack has a lot of anger and gets into fights because he found out his father is cheating on his mother as well as hiding the fact he has prosopagnosia. Niven doesn’t do enough to dive into those specific areas and deals more with the bullying and finding oneself when the rest of the world feels like they’re against you. I think it would have made an interesting story to also include some therapy sessions to talk through the anger or sadness. However, not my book so I can’t judge hah.

I do want to get into the bullying aspects, but I feel like it could make up a blog post on its own. I have a lot of feelings about bullying mostly because I’m a person that faced it when I was in high school. While most people get out of high school free from those bullies, there are some people who are really affected by their high school years. Jack and Libby are two examples of people who were able to rise up against their bullies and find themselves. Not everyone is that lucky and I wonder if there was a possible way to show that without taking away from the story.

Either way, if you’re a high school student dealing with questions of your own existence or faced with bullying at school, I think this would be a good book to help you overcome it or help you feel like you are wanted.

 

The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia – Book Review

A few posts ago, I mentioned doing a Library Reading Challenge, where I try to read four books within three weeks time. The reason? Well, you can only borrow a book for three weeks before you have to return it. Given my track record on reading, I would only be able to finish 3/4 books.

Yes, I know that I can renew the books if I don’t get to them, but that doesn’t make it a challenge. I want to see if I can do it. There’s really no other reason why I want to do this. Also, my TBR is piling up to uncontrollable levels and I’d like to read those books as well. First world book problems, am I right?

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Anyway, I decided to start off my challenge with The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia.

The only other novel I’ve read by Kami Garcia was Beautiful Creatures, which wasn’t my favorite even if I always end up watching the movie when it’s on TV.

But this was different. Fast and Furious meets Rich girl/Poor boy.

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com)  Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.

Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

Rating: 4/5 stars and a definite recommendation

My thoughts – I finished reading this book over the weekend while flying over to Florida. I love books like this. I love them because they’re easily digestible and entertaining. That’s not to say there isn’t substance, there is. But when you read a lot of books about serious “adult” stuff, you want a little bit of a break. The Lovely Reckless is definitely a nice little break.

The writing is easy-to-read and digestible. Kami Garcia does a great job painting the picture of a young girl who doesn’t know what to do with herself after seeing her boyfriend die. I think the one thing I didn’t like was how she made it entirely about herself. She ignored her friends and started causing trouble. I get that it’s tough when someone you love is gone, but you don’t ignore the friends and family that want to take care of you during your time of need. That part didn’t sit right with me, but that might not be the case for everyone.

The plot read like Fast and Furious. I was surprised that Frankie, the main character, didn’t actually work for the cops with her dad as an undercover agent. However, I did have to take half a star away for the plot being too quick for the couple to fall in love as well as the “good girl gone bad” and the rich/poor dynamic of the couple.

But again, this isn’t about the smaller minutae, but the bigger story. You will definitely fall in love with Frankie and Marco and you’ll feel feelings for Deacon that you wish could come true. It’s riveting and had me at the edge of my seat even if I was 30,000 feet in the air.

October 2016 Library Book Haul

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I started loving books or going to the library, but I did. I don’t even think it had anything to do with the books, but the fact that there’s this public place you can come to and study, rent books, and escape from reality. Because the truth is that only a certain kind of person goes to the library and those people are the dreamers.

Scratch that, the truth is that homeless people go to the library because it’s warm and there’s a free bathroom.

But I go to the library or a bookstore or any place you can patron that has books because I’m just your typical book lover. I love to read books, be around books, and generally want to be a book.

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There’s a magic when you arrive. The air is musty from the older reference books and the temperature is cold to keep the publicly used computers nice and cool.

My childhood library was amazing. There were three stories of books all ranging from children’s to research and I remember spending my time from when I was really young (maybe 6-7) to when I graduated from high school there. I’d be a part of the reading program every summer and at one point wanted to work at the library. I ended up spending my lunch periods in high school helping out in the school library and putting books back on the shelf. I was that lame.

It took me a while to get back to the library mostly because there was a scene in the movie The Squid and the Whale where the young kid masturbates in the stacks and then wipes his semen on the spines of the books. That swore me off from those books for a few years. I didn’t want to touch nasty books especially when I live in the same city as the characters from that movie.

But I’ve managed to quell my OCD thoughts from what might be on those books and started to take advantage of the library system again.

All of this to say, I’ve got some great reads from the library and I’m sharing them with you now.

272461151. Siracusa by Delia Ephron – New Yorkers Michael, a famous writer, and Lizzie, a journalist, travel to Italy with their friends from Maine—Finn, his wife Taylor, and their daughter Snow. “From the beginning,” says Taylor, “it was a conspiracy for Lizzie and Finn to be together.” Told Rashomon-style in alternating points of view, the characters expose and stumble upon lies and infidelities past and present. Snow, ten years old and precociously drawn into a far more adult drama, becomes the catalyst for catastrophe as the novel explores collusion and betrayal in marriage. 

Ephron delivers a meditation on marriage, friendship, and the meaning of travel. Set on the sun-drenched coast of the Ionian Sea, Siracusa unfolds with the pacing of a psychological thriller and delivers an unexpected final act that none can see coming.

I was going to read this right after I finished Commonwealth, but I’m starting to see that maybe this one is a little too close to what I’m reading now. I might hold off while I get a palate cleanser in there.

268938192. The Girls by Emma Cline – Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

I’ve been going back and forth with this one. In fact, this is my second time borrowing this book from the library because I haven’t made up my mind if I should read it or not. It’s because I like stories about Charles Manson, but I don’t want to read about the horrendous acts he made those people do.

Coincidentally, my office decided to have a book discussion on this read in a few weeks, so I figured I’ll read it with the intention of going to this book discussion and see how I feel about it.

286868403. Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven – Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

Ugh, I can already tell by the looks of this novel that it’s going to thrash my soul. I love Jennifer Niven and I was a huge fan of All the Bright Lights. Jennifer Niven has a tendency to hit some serious issues as well (depression, suicidal thoughts), so hopefully this won’t throw me into a panic.

274144344. The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia – Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.

Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

I think this one will be the book I read next since it’s a little bit more light-hearted (ish) and not too close to Commonwealth’s plot. I’m actually really excited because I loved Beautiful Creatures and sometimes I guiltily re-watch the movie.

What about you? Do you love the library?

Book Review: P.S. I Like You

 

25486998Summary (from Goodreads.com) – While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

 

 

Rating: 5/5

My thoughts-

Going to be honest with you, I didn’t really feel interested in this one. I’d received this book in my Owlcrate and I’ll be honest, I judged the book by its cover and to me, the cover read as cheesy and predictable. I didn’t have high hopes for it, but I still gave it a shot.

Living in the city and living on the subway line that I take everyday, I’m greeted with an abundance of readers enjoying everything from one of the books in the Harry Potter series to the works of Kafka. And to be honest with you, it’s downright intimidating to walk on the subway with a book cover the likes of this one.

“But Simone, you should be proud of the book you’re reading. You should be proud to be amongst one of the readers who actually read.”

You have no idea how many times I’ve tried to lift my head up from the intimidation, but then I get that glance from that one pseudo-intellectual that is book shaming me for reading YA and I crawl back into my introverted shell of shame.

But I persevered and I sat on my commutes to work and back completely encroached in this novel. Although you can argue that the story itself is overplayed and it’s just that old high school trope, but the reality is that sometimes you need to remember what it’s like to be a kid and what it was like to fall in love.

Lily Abbott is the kind of character I can resonate with. I was the girl that sat in class and instead of paying attention wrote poetry and thoughts in a journal I carried with me all the time. I was listening to obscure punk bands and sitting with the less popular group of friends. While I never exchanged letters and never really dated anyone outside of the occasional blind date, I resonated with her. I resonated with the entire story.

You can’t help but to feel good and even at the end when I thought everything was going to go south, it didn’t. My cold heart warmed up reading this book and I’m so surprised by every YA novel I pick up and how detailed and emotionally stirring they all are.