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.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
A++. What an adorable book! I was super excited to read this one, and it did not disappoint. It's about Dimple, a super smart Indian American girl who's interested in STEM (you go, girl) and goes to a pre-college summer program. Little does she know her parents have set up an arranged marriage for her and the guy, Rishi, is also going to be at this program. It's so cute and so perfect for summer. I flew through this story, but I have a feeling I'll be returning to it when I need a sweet contemporary. Recommended for fans of Rainbow Rowell and Stephanie Perkins.

Once More for Love: Blithe Images/Search for Love by Nora Roberts
D. Hear me out, guys. This is definitely not a "Bridget" book. But I was at work, and I was allowed to read, except I didn't have a book, so I read one of my co-workers' books. This one was two short stories in one book, but it honestly felt like the same story twice. Naive girl meets dominating man, hates him, all of a sudden loves him, has an inner crisis, and ends up with him (ooh, spoilers, sorry). And, to be fair, I did read the whole thing in one night, which one might say means it's not all bad. It was entertaining in the same way an US Weekly is, so I'll give it that. But I'm not rushing to read more (Disclaimer! I've heard this is one of Roberts' early works, and that she's gotten better since). Recommended (with a grain of salt) for fans of Debbie Macomber.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
A. Oh my goodness. This book is so important. It's about a black girl who sees one of her best friends get shot by a cop, and what happens after that. So, going in, I knew it was going to be important, but it was also GOOD. Some of the "quirky" traits given to the main character, Starr, felt a little bit overdone--there were a lot of Harry Potter references--but overall, she was a great character. And I may have cried a few times while reading this. This book felt real and needed, and I'm glad I read it. Recommended for fans of Adam Silvera and Nicola Yoon.

Lumberjanes, Vol. 6: Sink or Swim by Shannon Watters
A overall, A+ for that one page with that one panel that I've been waiting for (my Lumberjanes know what I'm talking about). It's difficult to review something so far along in the series, but let me tell you, these girls are my favorites and I would love to be friends with them in real life. This graphic novel series is a must-read. Recommended for fans of: Noelle Stevenson and Hope Larson.

The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich
A-... maybe? I'm really not sure where I stand on this one. It was good, and I tend to round up in my ratings anyway, but I don't know... It's about a secret organization that breeds teenagers to be spies. They must court and win people who have been predicted to be important people, and then they'll spend the rest of their lives telling those people's secrets to the organization. Caden and Dylan are Love Interests, competing for one girl. And the one who doesn't win will die. It's an interesting concept for sure, and I loved the twist (which is pretty heavily hinted at in the synopsis on Goodreads, so I'm not even sure if it's a spoiler?), but it didn't completely follow through. Still worth a read for the characters, though. Recommended for fans of Adam Silvera and Suzanne Young.

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
B+. This book of essays was good, definitely, but nothing that made me pump my fist or go, "YASS GIRL." The titular essay, written before "mansplaining" was in the vernacular, was the best of the bunch, in my opinion. Solnit's story of having a man tell her what her own book was about is, sadly, a common experience for women, and I definitely recommend it for anyone interested in feminism and/or being a woman in the world today. Recommended for fans of Jessica Valenti and Andi Zeisler.

Dear Reader by Mary O'Connell
C. So I had never heard of this book or author, but I picked it up because the back cover said something about a Bronte sister, and its title seemed like a Jane Eyre reference... and then it ended up being all about Wuthering Heights, my least favorite Bronte book (all sisters included). I really can't tell you about the plot because it jumped around a LOT, but it included a missing English teacher, a magic book, and a high school girl who seemed to me to be a little too interested in her English teacher's life. And I feel like it just wasn't developed enough--the synopsis says one of the characters just might be Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights come to life, but that isn't mentioned until the last third of the book. And he was in it from the beginning; it just hadn't come up. I thought it was good writing, just confusing plot. Recommended for fans of Lucy Keating and Elizabeth Eulberg.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
A. Another super cute contemporary; I am blessed. This one's about a Korean American girl named Desi who's at the top of her class, student body president, etc. When a new boy shows up at her school, she decides to take the formulas of Korean dramas and apply them to her life. Okay, so Desi's completely out of touch; the things she does are crazy. But I love her. I can't help it. And the book is just fluffy and adorable. Recommended for fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Strohmeyer.

Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee
A! A book about a girl who creates a web series that's an adaptation of Anna Karenina? Be still my heart. As a girl who spent last summer reading War and Peace and thoroughly enjoyed "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries," this is just what I was looking for. And the main character is asexual, which is a really rare thing for a YA book, as far as I can tell (if you've found more, send them my way!) Tash is a realistic character--funny and well-meaning, but flawed--and I loved reading about her life as her web series goes viral. Recommended for fans of Riley Redgate and Leo Tolstoy (duh).

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali
A-. This book is about a Muslim girl in high school and dealing with an attempted assault by a prominent member of her religious community. And let me tell you, you need to get your hands on a copy. It's not the best book I've ever read, but it's pretty good. And I am all about the representation and supporting it where I find it. Not to mention delicate (but truthful) handling of some pretty heavy material. Recommended for fans of Randa Abdel-Fattah and Justina Chen.

Happy July! Here's to summer days with good friends and good books.

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