Monday, June 12, 2017

May Reads // I READ SO MANY BOOKS!!!!!!!!!

April and May are usually the busiest months of my year. The rival December, which is bonkers. We've been celebrating weddings, graduations, birthdays, and tons of showers. Not to mention Mother's Day, and the food truck festival... sheesh. All of these things are good, but boy it doesn't leave much time for reading... : / SOMEHOW... I still managed to read quite a lot! Self care I guess?!

To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

4 Stars - I recommend if you are looking for a cute YA read. The characters in this are complex and well written. I enjoyed the family relationship between the sisters (so Little Women!) and their dad. I also really enjoyed the perspective of a bi-racial main character, I wish there was more diversity floating around in popular literature.

This book follows Lara Jean Song's experience as she balances becoming "the lady of the house" with being a teenager. Lara Jean's mom passed away when she was a kid, and her older sister took on the role of caretaker and organizer of the house. When her sister goes abroad for college, Lara Jean must take up those roles, all while trying to make it through high school. While Lara Jean has been in love (5 times), she's never had a real boyfriend. When she ends her infatuation with each one she writes a goodbye letter to him, that's never meant to be sent. One day, she finds out that someone has sent her letters after all. There are mortifying consequences of this, especially that one letter, the newest one, is sent to her older sister's (brand new) ex, Josh. Things get complicated quickly.

Overall this book was really sweet and fun to read. It's the first one that I have read by Jenny Han, and I liked the ways she wrote. While this book is definitely fluffy, romantic, and girly, I appreciated that there was a lot of plot related to the family dynamics, etc. in addition to the letters. I thought it was cool that Lara Jean and her sisters are bi-racial. It's not a perspective that I (or many) get to read a lot, but I found it eye opening. For example, her struggle with choosing a Halloween costume ("are you an anime character?" I liked that this family and these characters were interesting. They did fun things as a family, took care of each other, had their own traditions, and each of the siblings had their own interests and defined personalities. I feel like you sometimes get pretty generic characters in these types of books. I liked Lara Jean's romantic interests/struggles too. Her situation with Peter reminded me so much of Veronica Mars and Logan or Rory Gilmore and Logan, for that matter. Last random tidbit, I loved that they mention Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory. It seems kind of obscure, but it was one of my FAVORITE things I read in 2015! I'm excited to read the next two books and more of Han's work!

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

4 Stars - I recommend if you are looking for cute YA to read, and if you've read To All The Boys I've Loved Before.

This book follows Lara Jean Song and her sisters as they continue to navigate the changing landscape of their lives. When another one of Lara Jean's letters is answered by a former love, things as they are will be shaken up once again. 

I won't talk too much about this one since I'm also reviewing the first one here, but oh my gosh these books are so fun and cute! I still love Lara Jean, Margot, Kitty and their dad. I love their family dynamic. I loved how the story unfolded, and it was complicated but vivid. I loved loved loved Lara Jean. I mean, I guess it's probably because we like a lot of the same things... she scrapbooks, bakes, entertains, etc. She's ultra romantic. I couldn't even handle the parts where she is working at the nursing home. It's too cute to handle for me. I think I'm happy with how it ended up... but now there's another book in the series, so we'll see how it goes! :) 

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

4 Stars - I recommend if you are looking for a raw and emotional contemporary YA read. This book explores loneliness, grief, sexuality, mental illness, and hope.

This book follows Marin who's grandfather, her sole guardian, passed away just before she's to move across the country for college. She deserts her friends and heads straight to school. She can't face San Francisco or her memories anymore. When she convinces her college to let her stay on campus over winter break, her best friend Mabel pays her a visit. Mabel has an agenda, but Marin isn't ready to dig up the recent past.

I got a sneak peek of this via Netgalley, and I LOVED it. I finally got the full copy from the library, and while I didn't love it quite as much, I did really enjoy the story. I particularly enjoyed the refreshing take on contemporary YA. The characters are very real and filled with a lot of issues that they don't know how to deal with. It's such an interesting book in that you get to watch the characters unfold their pain and hurt and emerge from it in the end. This one definitely deals with some complex topics like grief, mental illness, money issues, etc. But I appreciated that it wasn't all neatly tied in a bow. I also appreciated that this book included LGBTQ themes, which is not something I see a lot of in YA fiction. Overall a good read, it will make you have all the feelings. I definitely cried a lot.

Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse*

4 Stars - I recommend if you like contemporary YA romance. This one is a bit dramatic and fluffy, and was very fun to read. I also recommend if you are looking for a different or interesting setting. I really enjoyed that it took place in Tokyo.

Sophie has one more week as an expat in Japan. She's made Tokyo her home over the last 4 years, and feels that leaving will mean the end of her life as she knows it. Her only friends live there, her favorite foods and places exist there, and she doesn't want to leave. As if leaving wasn't bad enough, she has to share her final week with Jamie, who's returning to Japan after years away at boarding school. Jamie and Sophie were friends in middle school, but the day he left, he sent her a mean text by accident. She doesn't want to see him again, but soon remembers that she had more feelings for him than she thought.

This book was on and off a little bit dramatic for me, but overall I really liked it. I liked that it was set in Tokyo, it's a very neat picture that's painted as their backdrop. I liked that Sophie and her friends are pretty vivid characters. I don't know if their lifestyle is realistic, it's very much like a TV show that their parents aren't too concerned with where they are or what they are doing. But I suppose the justification in the book (Tokyo is safe, and most expat parents get used to trusting their kids/are too busy to worry about it) could be totally on point. I found myself pretty caught up in Sophie and Jamie's story. I kind of want to read more, so I guess if Cecilia Vinesse ends up writing a semi related sequel ala Lola and the Boy Next Door, I would be cool with that.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher 

3 - 3.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary YA that deals with difficult issues facing teenagers. I also recommend if you enjoy a bit of a mystery as far as how things are connected go.

This book follows Clay who receives a package containing 13 audio tapes from a friend who recently committed suicide. The tapes instruct him to listen to all of the tapes and then pass them on to the next person. If he doesn't the contents of the tapes will be exposed publicly. Each tape is associated with a person and a "reason" that Hannah killed herself. As the story unfolds, Clay will learn the mystery behind why Hannah ended her life.

Overall this book was a lot of hype, and I think it's really more the show that's the hype at this point. It was compelling enough to get through quickly, but I was expecting a mystery or something very thrilling to happen. However, I found that since it went in order, I wasn't too shocked at any point. I'm guessing that the show is more interesting in the sense that things don't go in chronological order, and you see things from multiple points of view. Overall this was just ok for me. I haven't watched this yet, but expect to enjoy the show.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy mysteries or thrillers, or anything pertaining to the lifestyles of the upper class.

This book follows Jane Chapman, a young kindergarten mom who moves to a beachy upscale suburb of Sydney for a change of pace and a better future for her son Ziggy. On the first day of kindergarten orientation Ziggy is accused of choking one of his classmates, which sparks a war between other kindergarten parents. Along the way Jane makes friends with Madeline, unapologeticaly dramatic and straightforward, who is dealing with divorced parenting of a teen. Celeste also becomes her friend, she seems to have the perfect life, but no one knows her dirty secret. When a parent is murdered, an investigation follows to figure out who did it, and as the reader, who died.

I was worried that I wouldn't like this one (because I did not like/abandoned Hypnotist's Love Story), and I mostly read it because I wanted to watch the show... but I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. I liked the writing style, the changing POVs, and the dark comedy. I found myself pretty wrapped up in each character, and I really didn't know what was going to happen in the end. I had no idea who the murder was, or who would be murdered. It was pretty suspenseful, especially toward the end. The show, by contrast is a lot easier to solve as far as the murder goes. KC (like many other bloggy SOs) got it in about 4 episodes. I liked that the show was well cast, and well acted... but I found it quite a bit more depressing and/or "real" ... I enjoyed that the book was a bit hyperbolic and more funny. I still enjoyed it... but I'm not sure I want to watch season 2.

Destination Thailand: A Lonely Hearts Travels Club Book by Katy Colins*

3.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy a fluffy beach read, especially one that is comedic (think Bridget Jones), or related to travel.

Georgia Green has just been dumped, two weeks before her wedding. Not only that, she's lost her job. When her friend prompts her to make a list of all the things she's dreamed of doing, but put off, Georgia realizes it's time to start seeing the world. She books a tour of Thailand, and heads out on an adventure. The trips turns out to be a disaster. Catty roommates, gross accommodations, sketchy planning, etc. have her itching to return to England. Once she meets Dillon, however, she's having a much better time in paradise. But is Dillon who he says he is? Is he the reason she went traveling? and what does Georgia want long-term?

Overall I really enjoyed this book. It was a bit fluffy, but really fun to read. The humor was great, the romance was fun, the travel aspect was pretty unique. I found myself wanting to make lists and accomplish big dreams while reading this one. I liked that it wasn't all about the men in her life either, it was about her getting back to herself and moving forward with her life. As a traveler (though not nearly as exotically...) I can really relate to her travel woes and triumphs! I like that it is set up to be a series. I can totally see reading more of these books in the future. This was super fun.

Technically finished this June 1... oh well!

Miranda and Caliban by Jaqueline Carey*

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy coming of age stories with magical themes. This is a retelling of The Tempest.

Miranda knows her father, and her island... and that is it. They live alone in a peaceful world. Her father toils over his work, which he will not explain to her. One day her father seeks to capture the wild boy, the only other human inhabitant on the island, and tame him. The boy is named Caliban and fights his capture. Over time Miranda and the boy become friends, and she teaches him to speak and to be "civilized". They bond as young friends, and as they are both held captive by Miranda's father. One day Miranda's father releases a wild elemental spirit who wreaks havoc upon their lives. What is Miranda's father up to? When will Miranda find out? What makes them better than Caliban or the spirits they command to do their bidding?

Overall this book was really interesting. I am not familiar with The Tempest, so I didn't quite know what to expect and I cannot speak to how closely it re-tells.... but, I enjoyed that this book had fantasy elements to it, but I also enjoyed that it was a side-by-side coming of age story between the two characters. It's a very vivid portrayal of the confusion that occurs when you become an adult. Parts of it also reminded me of things like Tarzan, for obvious reasons. There were some uncomfortable parts related to animal sacrifice, and others related to puberty/sexuality. But overall I found it really holistic and vivid. I liked the mystery of what Miranda's father was up to. Ultimately, I felt like there was a lot going on, a little too much perhaps... but that I was very absorbed by the world. It was left a little open ended, so I wonder if there is a sequel set up happening? I almost would have preferred and epilogue if so. We shall see. Overall, I really enjoyed this one!

Currently Reading:

Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins A Fork in the Road edited by James Oseland
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Be Your Own Fairytale: Working with Storytelling for Positive Life Chaneg by Alison Davies*

Books on Deck:

21 Rituals to Change Your Life by Theresa Cheung*
Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly*
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier - OMG THIS MOVIE LOOKS SO GOOD!
The Beguiled by Thomas Cullinan - OMG THIS MOVIE LOOKS SO GOOD!
The Dry by Jane Harper
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Linking up with Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books tomorrow. :) 

Life According to Steph

What have you been reading? What do you hope to read this month?! 

Let's be friends on Goodreads!



* Asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Netgalley!

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