Sunday, July 2, 2017

June Wrap-Up

Is June really over? How did that happen? The month absolutely flew by--but don't worry, I did manage to read several books. And there was a pretty good mix this month: nonfiction, fiction, YA, adult, graphic novel, contemporaries, and sci-fi. Let's talk about the stories I got through this month!

One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul
A+. This book of essays was laugh-out-loud funny, as well as serious and vulnerable and true in parts. Koul wrote about everything from her relationship with her parents to an embarrassing dressing room incident to roofies and sexual assault. This book had been hyped a lot, so I went in with high expectations, and they were met. Recommended for fans of Roxane Gay and Laura Bates. 

It's Not Like It's A Secret by Misa Sugiura
B. Sana Kiyohara moves to California, meets a girl named Jamie Ramirez, thinks she might be into her--there's your romance. Sana's dad also might be having an affair, if the mysterious number texting him kissing emojis is any indication--there's your mystery and family drama. Meanwhile, Sana's new friends are more diverse than anything she knew in her old Midwestern town, and she's dealing with interracial and intraracial racism, and coming to terms with her own internalized racism--there's your social justice story. Also sprinkled throughout: Sana's poetry journal for her English class, as she shares her favorite poems and poets (but the poems are never actually printed in the book, leaving the reader to look them up). I'm all for any of these storylines, but when it came down to it, this book was just trying to do too much. After finishing it, I didn't feel like I had closure on any of the storylines, because they were all squeezed into a 300-some page book. (A+ for diversity, though, and for Asian American #ownvoices). Recommended for fans of Nina LaCour and Jenny Han.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Book Review: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I did it, you guys. I finally read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I've had it on my shelf for about a year now, and I even brought it with me to college, only to pack it up again in May, unopened. But now I have done it--I finished this 771-page beast.

And...I'm having several feelings, some of which are good and some of which are bad. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start with a quick synopsis.

So Theo Decker is 13 years old, and he and his mom are in an art gallery when there's an explosion and his mom is killed. Theo survives. As he leaves the rubble of the gallery, he grabs and takes a painting of a goldfinch that his mom had mentioned loving. His dad had left his mom before the accident at the art gallery, so Theo's basically on his own...with a stolen painting.

Okay, after the jump, we're going to be in spoiler-y territory, so be warned.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Life Update: I Survived My First Year of College!

I recently got home from my first year of college (still feels really weird to say that). And I enjoyed it. I had some trouble adjusting to things (roommates, homesickness, anxiety, etc.), but for the most part, it was a great experience. And I know I made the right choice for me. I found a college with an amazing community (I especially love the English and Women's Studies departments, which is handy, since I'm majoring and minoring in those, respectively). I made friends, I got jobs, and I managed my courseload well.

The one thing I didn't do too much of this year? Reading. I mean, I am an English major, so I did a lot of reading, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't reading just to read.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Reading the Sad Books

This week was my spring break, so I was obviously excited for all the reading I could get done. I asked my family to grab a few books for me at their trip to the library, so I'd have a few specific ones ready for me the night I got home. And then I read them. And let me tell you... they were all pretty sad. I mean, they ranged from "oh, wow, that was shocking, I'm tearing up a bit" to "I HAVE NOT STOPPED CRYING IN 200 PAGES".

Obviously, I didn't mean to read all sad books over break. I tried to get light ones, I really did. I needed a break from the school books (the last one I read for my English class was The Bell Jar, but that seemed like a laugh riot after this week of reading). Here, I'll prove it to you--

I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of Sarah Dessen's new book, Once and For All (It comes out in June). In this book, Louna helps her mother with her wedding planning business. Good old lighthearted Sarah Dessen summer fun, right? WRONG. Something happened the summer before this book takes place that will break your heart, and then just when you think you're over it (it is in the past, after all), those already shattered pieces will crumble even more as you finish the book.

Look, it's not for everyone. Sarah Dessen does what she does well, and I welcomed it. But fair warning: it's sappy stuff. It's shameless in pulling out all the emotional stops. I just thought the emotions would be of a happier variety.

Sadness rating: I didn't actually cry at this one. But my eyes were red enough that my mom asked what was wrong. Final rating: Once and For All gets 4/5 stars.

I have to admit, I saw this next one coming. I read History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera. If you read Silvera's debut, More Happy Than Not (which, if you haven't, get on that), you know he's good at the gut punch. And this synopsis doesn't really promise a bucket of laughs. Griffin's ex-boyfriend Theo dies, and Griffin had kind of thought that they would get back together eventually. Now he doesn't have anyone to talk to, except for Theo's new boyfriend.

I know, I know. But I love Adam Silvera, and I really did love this book. The characters just come to life, and Adam Silvera has that fantastic writing style that makes you feel like you're actually there, in that world. It had been awhile since I'd felt that about a book, and so I loved having that feeling of a world to escape to again. I just wish the world weren't so sad.

Sadness rating: Lots of hand-over-mouth-to-cover-up-what-might-have-been-either-a-gasp-or-a-small-sob-but-either-way-you're-having-trouble-breathing-normally. Final rating: 500/5 stars.

Then I read Kids of Appetite by David Arnold, and I swear, I had no idea what this book was about. I just knew I loved David Arnold's Mosquitoland, and a friend who has good taste in books said this one was good. Little did I know the main character, Vic, has to deal with his father's death throughout the book. And the sadness continues.

This one did have funny moments. I laughed out loud a few times. And then I went back to my stomach hurting from how much I felt bad for these characters. The group Vic hangs out with, the Kids of Appetite, are one of my favorite friend groups in YA literature since the Six of Crows peeps, and I would read anything about them hanging out some more. Prequel? Sequel? Short story about them buying furniture? Give me something happy, David Arnold. These kids deserve it.

Sadness rating: I had a dull sense of sadness throughout the whole thing, and then there were chapters where the sadness just burst out and screamed, "look at me!!" But again, the laugh-out-loud moments made it bearable. Final rating: 4/5 stars.

I think there might be time for me to read one more book this break. Good thing I have another book checked out from the library. It's Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which is about the Biafran War in the 1960s. Oh, good, so that'll be another sad one, then.




Saturday, February 18, 2017

Anticipated 2017

When I want to read, but can't, I just add more books to my TBR. So, as you can guess, I've built up quite a list of books being published in 2017 that I would love to read. And, yes, it is February, and thus maybe a bit late for this, but I'm reading slower these days, so it's fine. Here's some of the books I'm most looking forward to in 2017:


History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (Release date: January 17, 2017)
If you read YA, you've probably heard fantastic things about Adam Silvera's novel More Happy Than Not. And you're going to hear the same from me. I absolutely loved it, and I can't wait to see what Silvera does next. I don't even really know what it's about, I just know I have to get my hands on a copy.

Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World by various (Release date: January 24, 2017)
According to Goodreads, this is a "scrapbook-style teen guide to understanding what it really means to be a feminist." And while I've probably got the basics down, you can't learn too much, and the authors contributing to this are fantastic, so I'm excited. Authors include: Courtney Summers, Malinda Lo, Daniel José Older, Siobhan Vivian, and Amanda Stenberg.

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate (Release date: May 2, 2017)
I loved Redgate's debut novel, Seven Ways We Lie, so I'm especially excited for this one. It's about a girl who decides to audition for her boarding school's all-male a cappella group. I love music and I love Riley Redgate, so this one's a no-brainer.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han (Release date: May 2, 2017)
Yes, I am getting tired of trilogies. Yes, I think the stories can often be told in fewer than three books, but they get dragged out. YES, I WILL READ THIS THIRD BOOK IN THE SERIES. I loved Jenny Han's To All the Boys I've Loved Before duology, and I'm incredibly excited for this book. It's got lovely characters and it makes me happy. And that's exactly what I want in a book this year.

Sorry again for the lack of posting lately. I have been swamped with college things, job things, and other things. But I'm working on my time management, so hopefully I'll be able to read more soon! Have a fantastic week, everyone.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

2016 Favorites

2016... There aren't a ton of great things to say about 2016. A lot of bad things happened, and the general consensus is that 2016 was a dumpster fire. BUT it wasn't all bad. I started college, and I'm enjoying myself. I moved to a new place, with new people, and I was completely out of all my comfort zones, but I still found myself happy. So, as rough as 2016 was, there might have been some redeeming qualities.

Another redeeming quality? I read a lot of really good books. Sure, school was really busy, so I slowed down a lot in my reading in the last few months, but it was still a good reading year. 

Way back in January, I read A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I've been getting more into fantasy lately, and this one is unavoidable. If you're looking for a fantasy to read, almost everyone will point you towards this series. And, while I don't love every little thing about this series (I'm still working through the gendered violence), I really do enjoy the politics of the world, and the stories are just so compelling! I'm really looking forward to continuing this series.

November 9 by Colleen Hoover was my first venture into New Adult fiction, and I absolutely loved it. As I recall, I read it all in one morning. I just could not put it down! It's about a couple who meet the day before one of them is about to move across the country. They agree to meet on the same day each year (it's November 9th, if you hadn't put that together). It's cliche, and I've probably read variations of this multiple times before, but I still devoured this book.

If you read only one young adult book this year, read Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (And then, if you are inevitably drawn into the world and you need to read more, read its sequel, Crooked Kingdom). It's set in a Russia-like fantasy world, where a criminal puts together an incredibly diverse crew to pull of a heist. The writing is fantastic, the plot is compelling, and, again, the characters are incredibly diverse. What else could you want?

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie earned a spot on my favorite books of all time. I read it quickly, right before Adichie came to my city for an event, and I loved it. If I hadn't had to read it fast, I probably still would have, due to the fact that I couldn't think about anything other than this book the whole time I was reading it (Sorry, two days of school during which I zoned out). It's about a woman from Nigeria who goes to America and begins to recognize the implications of being black in America. Thinking about it now (and the new relevance brought on by certain events), I'm definitely going to want to re-read this pretty soon.

What's that? You want a diverse, contemporary, young adult book? And if it could be funny and smart and cute and sad all in one, that'd be just great? Read Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate. It's about a high school, where the different characters who tell the story represent the seven deadly sins. Come on, what else could you want?

The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle is one of those books that makes you laugh out loud and then feel like crying, within a few pages. This one's about a boy who wants to write for movies, but hasn't really left his house since his sister died in a car accident. When he does leave his house, he meets a guy and starts liking him. So, you can see the crying parts, but I promise there's also hilarity ensuing.

I also have to include Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, but I can't choose which volume I liked best, so we're just going to include them all (hey, it's my blog, I'm making these rules). It's fantastic and I cannot wait to read more of it.

My 2016 reading year was full of good books, but I'm looking forward to reading many more in 2017. I'm getting excited about my extremely large TBR list again, so let's get started. Happy New Year!