June 2018 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 5

Heavy Vinyl by Carly Usdin + Nina Vakueva1.Heavy Vinyl Volume 1 by Carly Usdin +Nina Vakueva (Heavy Vinyl #1)

Owned | Started/Finished June 1 |Rating: ★★★★★ | Heavy Vinyl Full Review

Overall Thoughts: A fun, diverse, graphic novel with so much girl power set in 90’s New Jersey! Heavy Vinyl follows Chris who works alongside her all-female co-workers at her local vinyl store. With anxiety, she wants to fit in with her new friends but hasn’t gotten the chance! That is until a case of missing singer introduces her to the world her co-workers have been hiding from her: their vigilante fight club! Now she’s tagging along with them to solve the mystery and maybe uncover more along the way! This is an incredible graphic novel that’s character-driven, diverse, and just a fun story! Friendship is at the heart of Heavy Vinyl and it really shows with each page. Additionally, there’s a lot of fantastic representation among the main cast/side characters: f/f & m/m relationships, lesbian rep., black & Puerto Rican rep., interracial relationships! I adored this graphic novel so much & highly recommend it!  I think there’s only 1 volume planned which is sad, because it ends on at place leaving you to want more from the story & characters, so definitely pick it up & support it, you won’t be disappointed!

Running With Lions by Julian Winters2.Running With Lions by Julian Winters

Owned| Started June 3 + Finished June 7 |Rating: ★★★★☆ ½| Running With Lions Full Review

Overall Thoughts: A coming-of-age YA sports contemporary, that really focuses on characters! Sebastian Hughes is ready for his last summer of soccer training camp with his teammates, before senior year. However things get a bit complicated when his former friend, Emir Shah, shows up. Though regardless of their past, Sebastian is eager to make Emir feel at home! Through a 3rd person POV, the characters, plot, summer setting/atmosphere come to life! A huge aspect of this novel is the way Winters explores sexuality, with characters identifying as gay and bisexual + through the teammate’s support + acceptance of each other throughout the entire book! The characters really grow as they spend their time at Camp Haven and I loved seeing their friendship dynamics with each turn of the page! The plot, characters, etc. are all wonderfully developed and the pacing is great! Highly recommend checking out Winter’s debut!

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl3. Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl

ARC| Started June 9 + Finished June 12 |Rating:★★★☆☆ ¾| Neverworld Wake Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Neverworld Wake was an intriguing YA Contemporary that blends with science fiction! Beatrice Hartley gets the opportunity to reconnect with her friends from boarding school at an estate, since the year or so since her boyfriend Jim’s passing. But when a mysterious man arrives, he tells them they’ve been caught in the Neverworld Wake and only one person can make out alive by the end. The mystery that surrounded Neverworld and how the info was revealed was both delivered and explored at perfect moments throughout the story. While the plot and mystery remain such huge parts of the story, I did find myself not enjoying this book as much as I’d hoped. The writing (which is 1st person) never really made me find a connection to Bea as a character and with the simplicity to the writing, some elements of the story, like side characters were pretty forgettable. However, what definitely made Neverworld Wake an immersive read, was definitely the mystery, and exploration + complexities to the Neverworld!

Not The Girls Your Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi4.Not The Girls You’re Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi

ARC| Started June 13 + Finished June 18 |Rating:★★★★☆ ½| Not The Girls You’re Looking For Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Aminah Mae Safi’s debut explores the complexities of family and friendship (especially female friendships) in her debut! I connected with Lulu, the main character, from the very first page! She’s outgoing, not afraid to speak her mind and I just–loved her character so much.  This novel explores the messiness of friendship in an honest + complex way, and its such a huge theme of the story. Safi really allows for both friendship & family to be explored, and I was able to really see the many different sides to these dynamics. The unique plot, themes explored, character dynamics, etc. all came together so wonderfully in Not The Girls You’re Looking For to make for such a fantastic YA Contemporary!

A Reaper At The Gates by Sabaa Tahir5. A Reaper At The Gates by Sabaa Tahir (An Ember In The Ashes #3)

Library| Started June 19 + Finished June 25|Rating:★★★★☆| A Reaper At The Gates Full Review

Overall Thoughts: This is very much a darker continuation to the An Ember In The Ashes series! Character development and lore/mythology are such huge parts of this book and really take center stage. I loved seeing the development and growth to Laia, Helene, and Elias. They are such phenomenal characters and you really see where their fates lead them in this book! War and the dark aftermath of it are explored in this novel and its just heartbreaking. While this was such a great book, I found for me personally that the pacing in the first 1/2 or so made this book a bit difficult for me to really love it as with the previous ones. With the pacing, I felt that with the urgency of the stakes that are given + alongside the writing that made side characters, setting, etc. feel a bit under-developed and not as fully immersive for me in previous books. However regardless of that, as soon as I reached the end, I needed the next book right away. So, I am beyond excited to read the final book and see what Sabaa has in store for the world/story of Ember! 

Additional Posts From This Month:

Book Bytes #12

Audio Dime Museum Podcast Review {Literary Listens}

Currently Reading & YA Books On My June 2018 TBR!

Circle Of Shadows by Evelyn Skye Exclusive Cover Reveal

Dark Ages Podcast Review {Literary Listens}

Plans For July:

~READ MORE!! I feel like I just haven’t been reading much as I’d hoped (;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`) & before summer ends, really want to catch up on my TBR! If you have any tips to read more, definitely let me know!! 😭💕📚📚

~ Post more podcast reviews for Literary Listens! June was my first month posting audio drama podcast reviews & they were such fun posts to make!! I really hope to review/recommend more audio dramas next month too!! 🎙✨💖

~Continue working on my summer bullet journal 😍📒💕☀

What books did you read this month?? 😍📚

+ What are your bookish goals for July? Lets discuss in the comments!! ✨✨

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Heavy Vinyl Vol. 1 by Carly Usdin & Nina Vakueva Review {Graphic Novel}

Heavy Vinyl by Carly Usdin + Nina VakuevaHeavy Vinyl Vol. 1 by Carly Usdin, Nina Vakueva,  Irene Flores & Rebecca Nalty
(Heavy Vinyl #1)

Publisher: BOOM! Box (Boom! Studios)

Release Date: April 24, 2018

Pages: 112

Summary:When Chris joins the staff at her local record store, she’s surprised to find out that her co-workers share a secret: they’re all members of a secret fight club that take on the patriarchy and fight crime!

Starry-eyed Chris has just started the dream job every outcast kid in town wants: working at Vinyl Mayhem. It’s as rad as she imagined; her boss is BOSS, her co-workers spend their time arguing over music, pushing against the patriarchy, and endlessly trying to form a band. When Rosie Riot, the staff’s favorite singer, mysteriously vanishes the night before her band’s show, Chris discovers her co-workers are doing more than just sorting vinyl . . . Her local indie record store is also a front for a teen girl vigilante fight club!

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: Heavy Vinyl is an incredible graphic novel that follows an all-female vigilante group! With great art, 90’s references, female friendship, diverse representation, and of course–music, you follow Chris as she, alongside her co-workers at the local record shop, solve a case of a missing singer! With mystery, friendship, and so much more, Heavy Vinyl is a fantastic graphic novel!

I hadn’t looked too much into the summary, so all I knew going into Heavy Vinyl was: female friendship, record store, and GLBTQIA+ rep!

Heavy Vinyl was beyond spectacular!! (~˘▾˘)~♥♥ I had a feeling I would enjoy it, but by the time I reached the last page, I realized just how much I loved & adored it! ❤

Its easily become one of my new all-time favorite graphic novels! Its one I could see myself reading over & over again!! Its fantastic!!

Set in 1998 New Jersey we follow Chris, who is passionate about music & has worked at her local record shop, Vinyl Destination for about a month!

She’s gotten pretty close with her co-workers, Maggie, Dolores (who doesn’t exactly get along w/ her sometimes), Kennedy, and her manager Irene, but doesn’t feel included just yet.

She hopes to find some way to fit in with her new friends (she suspects that maybe they have a secret band, that they won’t tell her about!) and maybe find the courage to tell her co-worker/friend Maggie how she feels about her!

Then when a local band Stegosour has a gig at the shop and it turns out their lead singer Rosie Riot, goes missing, while she had her suspicions, Chris learns there’s more to her co-workers than she originally thought!

It turns out, they are actually part of an all-female vigilante group!

“It’s more than just fighting crime and beating bad guys though–we pledge to fight all forms of injustice…”

Chris is unsure whether she has what it takes to be alongside these brave women, but with some encouragement from Maggie + connecting more with Dolores, she discovers that she does belong!

The plot itself was so interesting! Its first all about Chris working in the vinyl shop and getting a bit of a romantic plot-line with Maggie and Chris wondering if anything could ever happen between them!

Then its all about the mystery surrounding Rosie who’s gone missing & Chris finding a way to fit in this secret group that her co-workers are all a part of!

However, the more they get into the mystery of trying to find Rosie & understanding why her band mates are starting to act a bit odd, the more it becomes a even more interesting case than they first thought!

The world of the vigilante group and the history behind it was developed in such a great way, where it never felt like all the info was just delivered all at once. It develops all throughout the graphic novel and builds even more into the mystery of the plot when you reach the very end!

There’s also such a great emphasis and overall theme of friendship/female friendship! Chris also has anxiety and all though she has a passion for music, she finds she doesn’t really feel like she clicks with any of her co-workers completely!

However throughout Heavy Vinyl, the more she becomes a part of the vigilante group, the more she comes out of her shell bit by bit and really feels she can belong at Vinyl Destination and connect even more with her friends!

There’s also a lot of diverse representation throughout Heavy Vinyl, which was so great to see!! From the f/f & m/m representation (Irene & her girlfriend & Maggie’s 2 fathers), black rep. (Kennedy), Puerto Rican rep. (Dolores), and lesbian rep. (Chris)!

The characters and their dynamics was one of my favorite parts! We have Chris who really looks up to Irene and wants to be like her one day (with her passion of music), we have Kennedy who kicks butt and is always on top of any situation, Maggie who is the cutest & apparently loves everything ^_^, & Logan + Chris who we see really get along through their love of comics (Logan works at the comic store not to far from Vinyl Destination & the relationship between him & Kennedy is the sweetest♥♥!!)

I also really loved the art style & the colors, they worked perfectly with the story, setting, etc.!!

While reading Heavy Vinyl, I also listened to my favorite band Haim ^_^ I don’t usually listen to music w/ lyrics while reading, but I found in this case, overall it made the reading experience even better!

I was so sad when I reached the end because its clear there is so much more to the vigilante group and the conspiracy they uncover regarding the missing bands, etc.!

I think my only very minor issue was that I wanted a bit more background for the Vinyl Destination girls like Maggie, Irene, Kennedy, & Dolores. Their characters really do shine throughout the graphic novel, I just wanted a bit more!

From what I heard, there is only 1 volume of Heavy Vinyl currently planned, but I do hope there’s more in the future!

So, if your looking to read another graphic novel or are looking for a story with female friendship, music, mystery and adventure, I highly recommend picking up Heavy Vinyl! You won’t be disappointed!

Heavy Vinyl is a stunning graphic novel! From its 90’s and music scene, great artwork, fantastic story, mystery, intrigue, diverse representation, and girl power, Heavy Vinyl is a graphic novel you don’t want to miss!

May 2018 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 6

Here’s my wrap-up for May 2018! Now that I’m officially on summer break, I’m hoping to read + review more this month!! 

Out Of Left Field by Kris Hui Lee1. Out Of Left Field by Kris Hui Lee

ARC | Started April 28 + Finished May 10 |Rating:★★★★☆ | Out Of Left Field Full Review

Overall Thoughts: If your looking for a contemporary that doesn’t focus on romance, this is the book for you! Out Of Left Field is about Marnie as she takes the place of her best friend Cody on her high school baseball team after he gets injured. There’s such a big focus on the dynamic of friendship, life after college, + Marnie’s passion for baseball and I really loved that. The plot, in my opinion, just went in such unique directions compared to other YA Contemporary novels and continued to surprise me with very interesting plot twists! There’s also representation through the side characters (Filipino + Latinx & bisexual rep., Indian-American rep.). The pacing does get slow at some points & I wish that some of the main/side characters had more expansion + development, additionally there are some plot threads I wish could have been expanded on. However, overall Out Of Left Field is a uniquely plotted YA Contemporary that really focuses on its characters and the complex dynamics of friendship! Definitely recommend Kris Hui Lee’s Out Of Left Field if your looking for more sports in YA Contemporary!

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo2. The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

Owned | Started May 11 + Finished May 13 |Rating: ★★★★☆ ½ | The Way You Make Me Feel Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Having been a big fan of Goo’s previous novel, I Believe In A Thing Called Love, I knew I would be picking up, The Way You Make Me Feel. Clara is a bit of a troublemaker, so when she gets tasked with working on her father’s Korean-Brazilian fusion food truck w/ her school nemesis, she feels her perfect summer (w/ plans of visiting her mother) has come to an end! But, she soon finds herself changing and growing throughout the summer, making new friends, and maybe finding romance along the way. The development of family and the complex dynamic was developed so incredibly well in this book as was the friendship! The Way You Make Me Feel was a book that captured my heart from page 1 with its character-driven story, wonderful writing, and summer adventures! The Way You Make Me Feel is a must read for summer!

Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter3. Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

Library | Started May 16 + Finished May 19 |Rating:★★★★☆ |Not If I Save You First Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Carter delivers another political thriller, with a mystery that keeps you turning the page as the stakes continue to build! Maddie, daughter to a secret service agent and Logan, the president’s son, have been friends since they were little. However after an attack at the White House when they were 10, leads Maddie to stay off the grid for almost 6 years in the Alaskan wilderness alongside her father. Maddie & Logan are soon reunited and their friendship is no longer what it used to be, yet when its revealed someone may be after Logan, they have to team up and uncover the answers. Carter does a fantastic job at seamlessly integrating politics and mystery within her novels and I always look forward to reading her books! However, through out Not If I Save You First I felt the pacing was pretty slow and while the build up to the mystery was done incredibly well, when answers are revealed it felt not only rushed, but a bit disappointing in its execution. Additionally,there was a bit of repetitiveness when it came to the setting. Overall though, Not If I Save You First was definitely an entertaining mystery thriller that really kept me turning the page!

Driving By Starlight by Anat Deracine4. Driving By Starlight by Anat Deracine

ARC| Started May 21 + Finished May 22 |Rating:★★★★★ |Driving By Starlight Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Driving By Starlight has easily become another one of my all-time favorite novels and is one that I will never forget!! I haven’t seen a lot of buzz for Driving By Starlight, but if you haven’t read it, please do, its phenomenal!! Set in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia crafted an honest and moving YA Contemporary, which follows Leena & Mishail, who are no strangers to a bit of rebellion within their town. Due to strict laws however, they find themselves unsure of their futures as women within society. Leena dreams of attending university and studying law, but with the absence of her father (who is a rebel), needing to take care of her mother, and not wanting to leave her friends/life behind, its becoming uncertain whether she will be able to follow her dreams. Over the course of the novel, Leena goes through quite a journey! From the powerful messages, themes of family & friendship explored with such depth, incredible cast of characters, thought-provoking & beautiful writing, Deracine’s novel is phenomenal! There’s honestly so much to this amazing novel I can’t put into words, but I highly recommend reading Driving By Starlight, its a must read!

caraval-by-stephanie-garber5. Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Library |Started May 23 + Finished May 26 |Rating:★★★★☆ |Caraval Full Review

Overall Thoughts: I’d been putting off reading Caraval because of all the hype, but I’d recently been fortunate enough to get an ARC of Legendary and felt I’d give it a try! I’m so glad I did because I ended up really enjoying it! Garber’s writing easily pulled me into the story and crafted mystery into her novel so well, as we follow Scarlett attempting to find her sister throughout Caraval. Garber’s novel surprised me in ways I wasn’t expecting and I really enjoyed it. I did find that the repetitiveness of color to describe setting/emotion didn’t really click with me and I found other than Caraval, the world-building wasn’t really expanded on either, & I was expecting a bit more from the ending. However, I was definitely more surprised by Caraval than I expected and found it to be an immersive, mystery adventure!

Legendary by Stephanie Garber6. Legendary by Stephanie Garber (Caraval #2)

ARC |Started May 28 + Finished May 30 |Rating:★★★★☆ |Legendary Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Legendary takes what you knew in Caraval and really makes it more of a mind game, which was very interesting! Following Tella, were back into the game of Caraval, but there are very much real-life stakes involved. I loved how Garber seamlessly weaved in the fantasy elements, however all throughout Legendary I was thinking ‘why wasn’t this introduced more in Caraval?’, but I’m glad it was added into the story! Garber introduces new settings and a character by the name of Jacks who I really loved! It takes a bit of a darker, more fairy tale vibe, but I really enjoyed it! The plot is filled with intrigue, magic, mythology of the world of Caraval, and really had me guessing & on the edge of my seat wondering where the next book is headed!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Book Bytes #11

The Last 8 Cover Reveal

Author Interview w/ Maura Milan about her upcoming novel Ignite The Stars

Plans For June:

~ Catch up on reading, now that I’m officially on summer break & work on my summer reading bullet journal!

~Post upcoming TBR lists/other posts that I’ve had drafted for a while! 😂✨📚

~Planning to hopefully create + share another Literary Listens post! 🎙✨💕

Driving By Starlight by Anat Deracine ARC Review

Driving By Starlight by Anat DeracineDriving By Starlight by Anat Deracine

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.

Release Date: May 22, 2018

Pages: 288

Summary: Sixteen-year-olds Leena and Mishie are best friends. They delight in small rebellions against the Saudi cultural police—secret Western clothing, forbidden music, flirtations. But Leena wants college, independence—she wants a different life. Though her story is specific to her world (a world where it’s illegal for women to drive, where a ten-year-old boy is the natural choice as guardian of a fatherless woman), ultimately it’s a story about friendship, family, and freedom that transcends cultural differences.

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: Driving By Starlight is a phenomenal YA Contemporary! Set in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia best friends Leena and Mishail are no stranger to small rebellions! Told through an impactful and beautifully written 1st person POV, Deracine’s debut explores with such depth  family, love, friendship, feminism, and so much more!

You know when a book immerses & impacts you so much throughout its entirety and it leaves you thinking for so long after the final page?

That’s what reading Driving By Starlight felt for me!🌟❤

Driving By Starlight is a thought-provoking read and I loved every single moment of it!

Deracine’s debut is one to read ASAP + Add to your TBR if you haven’t already!! This gem of a novel follows Leena on her journey as she navigates love, family, friendship, and contemplates about her future during her senior year, while also encountering strict laws and rules for women within Riyadh.

It was just so moving and captivating, this novel has easily made it to my list of all-time favorite YA Contemporary novels + favorite books of all time!!

Told through such an emotional, thought-provoking, and descriptive POV, we follow Leena and her best friend Mishail who are inseparable!

With strict rules within their town, they find themselves being a bit rebellious. Whether its walking out on their own late at night, wearing western clothing, changing out of or not wearing their abayas etc.

However because of the strict rules within society & fear of being caught by the religious/cultural police , Leena, Mishail, and her friends find themselves unable to fully take hold of their futures.

Deracine’s writing is poetic, moving, and honest! While reading, I may have tabbed quotes/passages at least 20+ times!! 😂💞✨

Told through a first person POV, we follow Leena who has such courage and determination throughout the entire novel shows us how much she is willing to sacrifice for her friends, family, and future!

She lives with her mother and spends as much time as she can with her best friend Mishail! However, her father is in prison for being a rebel against the government and in his absence, must take care of herself and her mother, while also working her hardest towards a future she dreams of!

As for Riyadh, from the descriptions of the deserts, city, clothing, politics, society–everything, Deracine delivers the setting in such a way that it balances the beauty and everyday life for Leena, while also discussing in such a real and honest way, the injustice within society for herself, among other women.

Leena dreams of continuing her passion and pursuit of law after high school. However, the strict rules for her within her town make it increasingly difficult for her to pursue her dreams.

Leena herself is so worldly and just wants to fight for a future she dreams of and, just wants more! However, her fears of what it could mean for her best friend + family, just captured my heart and I rooted for her with each and every page!

I’m not really sure how to go about explaining the plot, because there’s just so much that happens! But, I will say that all though it follows Leena & her story, its also about her friends and family, who come to life through her POV.

Additionally, you truly understand each and every one of the characters when you reach the very end!

There are also quite a number of themes explored throughout this novel, with the three main one’s being family, friendship, and the complexities of being a woman within the restrictions of society!

There’s mystery as well, in terms of the fate of Leena’s father, who we know is currently in prison. However, though he is mentioned throughout the novel, Deracine builds his character with such complexity and mystery, that we see the impact he has made on a number of characters as we delve further into the plot! I loved how Deracine explored his character!

I also loved how female-centered this story was! A majority of the cast is female and this novel also explores female friendship + dynamics incredibly!

Leena, Mishail, and her friends Bilquis, Sofia, and Aisha all attend the same all-girls school and are not strangers to a bit of rebellion themselves (which is why Headmistress Maryam Madam does what she can to ensure their safety, even if she’s well aware of their rebellious schemes).

However, things begin to change when an attack on a neighboring all-girls school, Najd National, introduces the girls to a new friend + Saudi American, Daria Albukhair.

Daria slowly but surely joins Leena + her friend group, but as Daria introduces the girls to a bit more rebellion, Leena not only finds herself worried for her friends safety, but feels she may also be losing her best friend Mishail to Daria.

While this fear that Leena encounters does take more of a central role towards the middle of the novel, the complex friendship is explored so incredibly well, with its ups, downs, and everything in between throughout the novel’s entirety!

Deracine also does a phenomenal job at weaving her characters together! From side characters that become such more prominent as the story progresses, to characters who you see a multitude of sides from as well, the threads of each of these characters weaves in such a way that is truly unforgettable!

While I honestly loved each and every character so much, there are a few I wanted to talk about!

First is headmistress Maryam Madam! While its clear she only wants whats best for the girls, we see how she connects more with Leena and her family as the story progresses! She is such a great character and I loved seeing how her character evolved throughout the novel and that there’s so much more to her than we first expect!

I also really loved Faraz, who is the son of Hossein, (who was a friend of Leena’s father, growing up)! He is so kind and supportive of Leena throughout the entire book! While he only has a couple scenes, he becomes such a prominent character and I loved him so much!!

Similarly, I also really loved Ahmed’s character, who is Daria’s cousin! He connects with Leena easily through her father, who he knew as rebel! Seeing how they connect through a way that Leena finds such difficulty talking about was also so incredibly explored + developed, and similarly to headmistress Maryam Madam & Faraz, Ahmed is a character who develops so much and you see differing sides of him throughout Driving By Starlight!

Continuing with the writing, there were just so many quotes and moments that were so thought-provoking and really left me seeing Leena and her story from so many different angles.

I honestly adored everything about Driving By Starlight! Its immersive, makes you think, has heart wrenching + heart-breaking moments, builds characters and their stories is such a fascinating and absolutely incredible way!

I loved the complex characters, story line, themes, powerful messages of hope–basically everything!!

So, if you haven’t picked up Driving By Starlight yet, I cannot recommend it enough! This novel is truly such a gem!!

Driving By Starlight is a spectacular novel! With an honest, moving and emotionally captivating story, phenomenal characters, and powerful messages, Deracine’s debut is a must read!

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo Review

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene GooThe Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Release Date: May 8, 2018

Pages: 336

Summary: Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind?

**TW for trypophobia*

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Way You Make Me Feel is not a YA Contemporary to miss! With a phenomenal cast of unforgettable characters, brilliant writing-style, and a plot that will immerse start to finish, this is a must-read summer YA Contemporary!

The very 1st novel I read by Goo, was I Believe In A Thing Called Love! I love YA Contemporary and after that book, I knew I would read her future books as well!

The Way You Make Me Feel is a book that is not only a fun and unique story, but also weaves in serious themes revolving around friendship and especially family!

What I also loved about The Way You Make Me Feel, is that even though I got through it within a matter of days, it felt I was with these characters + this story for so long! For me, that’s the best kind of story, where you become so attached to the story, setting, characters, and can’t believe the story is over when you’ve reached the last page!

Clara Shin, our main character, is the star of this novel and I loved her so much! She’s fierce, confident and a bit of trouble-maker!

As summer vacation is on the horizon, Clara has it pretty much planned out: she’s counting down the days to visit her mother Mãe in Tulum, Mexico, while her dad Adrian, works on his KoBra food truck (Korean & Brazilian fusion food).

However, when a school prank gets out of hand with her school nemesis, Rose Carver, her summer is about to change!

In order to pay for the damages caused by the prank, she now has to work on the truck with Rose and feels her entire summer has come crashing down!

Now she’s working with her nemesis, trying to find time for herself and friends Patrick + Felix, make time to plan her trip to visit her mom, and maybe begin to have feelings for a guy (Hamlet) she meets near one of the KoBra stops!

Goo’s writing not only brings the characters to life, but also the vibrant + diverse LA setting! I loved how she brought the setting to life through the littlest details, like the never-ending traffic XD, the weather, food and classic LA stops!

There is also such great diverse representation and I loved that!!~♥♥*:✧ From the Korean-American & Korean-Brazilian rep., to Hamlet who is Chinese-American, Rose who’s Black, hinted at gay rep. (Patrick), and Mexican-American rep. (Felix), Goo does such an amazing job at creating such a diverse cast of incredible characters!!

I loved each and every character! From Clara, her parents, her friends Patrick Keen & Felix Benavides, to Rose, Hamlet Wong, all the main characters just came to life from their very first introductions and I loved them so much!!

The relationships and dynamics are so real and just develop so wonderfully! From Clara & Rose’s development into a beautiful friendship, to the dynamic between Clara & her dad, + the slow but steady development of Clara’s relationship with Hamlet!

Clara is a very confident and rebellious teenager! She speaks her mind and I just loved her so much! She starts off a person who quickly brushes things off, but over the course of the novel begins to find herself changing and growing throughout the summer.

From her outlook on relationships, friendships, commitments, etc. I adored her fierce and confident side, while also loving how she began to view things from a new angle as her summer plans turned out different than she had hoped!

The relationship she develops with Hamlet was so cute! Hamlet was so kind, optimistic, ans just so sweet and I loved his contrast to Clara, seeing their dynamic grow was so lovely!!~ Their development was so well done, I loved their banter and how they grew and changed with each other throughout the summer!

Now as for the dynamic with her dad, Adrian Shin, its clear that while there is such a strong father/daughter bond between them. What I found relatable to their dynamic with my own parents, was the fun/comedic moments they’d share♥♥*:✧~

I loved seeing how Clara not only strengthened her relationship with her dad, but by the end was able to see how even though she saw a lot of herself in her mom, also saw the strengths in her dad that her mother didn’t have.

What I also admire about Goo’s work, is the development of family in her novels, especially this one! From Clara’s parents not being married, but still keeping in contact, the bond Clara has with her dad, and the overall the complexity of family in this novel is something I love and related to so much in this book! Also the family dynamic Hamlet has with “grandparents,” who are actually grandparents of family-friends while his parents are working in China!

I also adored the friendship that developed between Clara & Rose! While they didn’t get along in the beginning, they really formed this beautiful friendship and learn a lot from each other along the way.

Their forced to work together on the KoBra truck, but what surprised me (considering Rose’s very upfront/honest personality) was how she really opened up to Clara + we learn she really finds it difficult to make friends and has anxiety! Seeing how Clara really made so many efforts to make Rose feel included + get her out of her shell was so beautiful to read!

Now I’m going into 1 aspect I didn’t really like (mentioned in the TW), so I may rate this book at 4.5 instead of 5, but still deciding on an exact rating:

**I suppose my only minor issue was the “trypophobiascene. Now, I’ve never felt triggered while reading a book before, so this was–an odd experience. I personally did find this scene triggering and just wanted to mention where it is, in case others who read this book are unaware! I find explaining this for me personally is also a bit triggering, so readers, just be wary & apologies if I’m a bit vague because of it.

I don’t usually read reviews before starting a book (so I was unaware of this scene before hand), but I had seen a couple reviews mention it, after I finished the book and looked on GR. Note: its discussed on pg. 84* (Basically Clara mentions wanting to send her dad certain triggering photos, (aka where the Trypophobia is discussed).

*Acquadimore’s reviews are always so great and found the TW discussed in her review of The Way You Make Me Feel as well!

Aside from that scene however, I really did love this book so much!

Clara undergoes quite a journey as she begins to consider and change her rebellious nature from the start of the novel. She see’s friends + family in a new light, and finds herself growing because of that!

The themes central to this novel that are explored so incredibly well and are at the heart of this story are family & friendship! There is such depth to them that are explored through Clara’s POV and her adventures throughout the summer and I loved that!

The Way You Make Me Feel is a fun + delightful YA Contemporary that captured my heart from page 1! With such incredibly developed characters and themes, a unique and immersive plot, summer adventures, and so much more, this is a perfect YA Contemporary for summer!

April 2018 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 3

April wasn’t the best reading wise, but overall it did give me more time to come up with posts that I can’t wait to share this month!! ^_^

Legendary Ladies-50 Goddesses To Empower And Inspire You by Ann Shen1.Legendary Ladies: 50 Goddesses To Empower And Inspire You by Ann Shen

Owned | Started/Finished April 6 |Rating: ★★★★☆ ½ |Legendary Ladies Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Legendary Ladies is a beautifully illustrated book that chronicles the tales of goddesses from around the world! With a selection of goddesses from a variety of cultures, Shen not only shares their stories, but also a guiding sentence at the end to offer words of wisdom inspired by each heroic goddess. What I found while reading, was how goddesses tales across time and cultures seemed to weave together and connect! I just wish there were more stories, because Shen not only does an incredible job at summarizing their legends, but also accompanying them with such vibrant illustrations! This colorful and inspiring collection is a must read!

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi2.Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Library | Started April 3 + Finished April 8 | Rating: ★★★★★ | Emergency Contact Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Emergency Contact was a book I knew I would go into really enjoying, but did not expect to love it as much as I did! I don’t usually read contemporary books that a very romance heavy/centered, but this one was just incredible! Choi delivers such a character-driven, raw, modern-day romance that is just so unique and moving! I found myself re-reading this book twice & annotating my own copy when I bought it late last month, because I just loved it so much! Told through dual POV, it allows you to really understand the main characters Penny & Sam, how they really escape their loneliness through one another, and seeing the development of their deep friendship & connection with each other. It was so interesting to see how their text messages with each other vs. real-life interactions differed. Overall added such a unique layer to their relationship/development. It has a deep and moving story, is romantic, and has such emotional depth! If your looking for a unique,modern-day romance, Emergency Contact is definitely a book to check out! 

Aru Shah And The End Of Time by Roshani Chokshi3.Aru Shah And The End Of Time by Roshani Chokshi (Pandava Quartet #1)

Library | Started April 11 + Finished April 24 | Rating:★★★★☆ |Aru Shah And The End Of Time {Mini Review}

Overall Thoughts: Chokshi delivers a heroic fantasy adventure weaved in with Hindu mythology and folklore! Aru Shah And The End Of Time also emphasized family and friendship throughout the entire story, which is so wonderfully explored (And I loved that!). The 3rd person POV really allowed for the mythology, characters, and world to get such an expansive view and great development! Sadly the plot did get a bit slow for me as I read nearing the middle and the end. However, Chokshi’s debut into middle grade is not a book to miss! She brilliantly blends fantasy w/ the modern day, delivers a dazzling writing style, and immerses you into an unforgettable fantasy adventure!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Book Bytes #10

Empire Of Sand by Tasha Suri Cover Reveal

Top 10 Tuesday: Podcasts I’ve Recently Discovered {Freebie!}

LA Times Festival Of Books Wrap-Up {2018} + Giveaway {INTL + Open until May 15th}

Plans For May:

~ Now that finals are close, I’ll be on summer break (finally!) and catch up on so many books!!

~Planning to finally post my SFF TBR! 😍💞✨⚔🚀💫📚

~Share the posts I spent time drafting last month!

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi Review

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. ChoiEmergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Release Date: March 27, 2018

Pages: 400

Summary:For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: Emergency Contact is character-driven and complex YA Contemporary, with so much heart and depth! Through Choi’s writing, Emergency Contact handles and discusses a number of difficult subjects, develops a dynamic cast of characters, and delivers a romance like no other! 

Okay so originally I got an ARC of Emergency Contact, but at the times I really wanted to read it, school just got so busy! So when my library copy came, after about being maybe 100+ pages in, I decided to start it over.

I’m so glad I did because while I really loved it the first time, taking the time to re-read & catch-up had me even more invested in Emergency Contact than I was before!!

I adored Emergency Contact so much & if your familiar with my blog, you’ll know I hardly read contemporary romances. But from the summary (& amazing cover!! ♥♥I knew I had to read this book!

And this YA Contemporary has easily made it to my list of all-time favorites!!

This novel follows 2 POVs with the 1st being: 18 yr. old Penny Lee, who is about to start her first year of college in Austin, Texas and dreams of becoming a writer, then there’ Sam Becker, 21 yrs. old, who works at House Coffee in Austin (+ is an an incredible baker!) and dreams of becoming a documentary filmmaker.

Penny has a difficult relationship with her mom and has felt she’s been forced to grow up on her own. She feels college (in a new state) will make things different for her and allow her the new start she needs.

Sam is stuck. He’s working/living at the coffee house and barley getting by, while also having been neglected by his mother as the years went by and having an absentee father. He also has an ex-girlfriend Lorraine, who’s recently decided to contact him, though he is still trying to get over their break-up.

Penny’s college roommate Jude (and her friend Mallory) decide to take a trip to House and it turns out Sam is Jude’s uncle.

Jude makes it clear to both Penny & Mal that she doesn’t want them to get into any kind of relationship with Sam. Both Jude & Sam are close, so Jude doesn’t want things to be complicated.

However, when Sam’s ex comes back into his life, with news that she may be pregnant, Sam is not sure what to make of the situation and quickly gets overwhelmed.

After having a panic attack, Penny notices him shortly after and decides to help him. Offering to take him to the hospital then back to House, the two talk for a bit & soon form a bond with each other. Then they decide to be each others emergency contacts.

Not long after making sure each of them is okay after that, they begin messaging each other and form an even closer connection via text.

What I loved about Emergency Contact so much was seeing how both Penny & Sam could relate to each other on such an emotional and deep level. They both feel such an intense loneliness and find comfort + solace with each other through the friendship/bond they share by text messaging.

Penny finds it very difficult to connect with people or surround herself with people who really understand her. Because of that, her friendship with Jude + friendship/relationship with Sam has its ups and downs.

I definitely related to Penny at times throughout, but seeing her continue to do her best to connect with Sam and better understand herself was just so beautiful to read!!

Additionally, while its clear that a friendship (and maybe something more) is forming between them, I loved that it really took its time to develop and a majority of this novel is really about Sam and Penny navigating the situations they encounter in life, while finding a deep and personal connection with each other.

Seeing Penny’s relationships change and grow with the people around her, especially her mother Celeste was so well developed and you fully understand their complex relationship by the end of the novel.

Penny and her mom haven’t always had the best relationship. Penny has felt like her mom has never been the mom she’s needed and at a young age had to be independent and do things on her own.

It honestly was so beautiful seeing their relationship grow & develop throughout the entire story! We better understand Celeste and while Penny hasn’t always had the best dynamic with her, its clear there’s room for change.

What really surprised me was the dual POV! Going in I thought it was just going to be Penny’s POV, but having both Penny & Sam’s perspectives really brought so much depth and growth to the characters (especially the one’s they both know/encounter) like Jude.

Overall the 3rd person POV really allowed me to see Sam & Penny grow and develop on their own. Additionally, seeing how they tackled the obstacles in their life & how their relationship really provided them the opportunity to form a deep connection they could never make with anyone else, was just so beautiful!!

From Penny’s POV there was Mal, Andy (her fiction writing classmate; I really like his character & his how his short relationship w/ Penny worked out), J.A. Hansen (her fiction-writing professor), and her mother!

From Sam’s POV there was Lorraine, Al (owner of House), Bastian (a 12-year old who later becomes one of the subjects for his documentary), and his mother as well!

From their very first meet where their practically wearing similar outfits, and later to the relationship they develop through text, it was all just developed so wonderfully! You really see how similar they are + how they really understand each other, and find comfort in their relationship when they both clearly feel lonely + sense of abandonment.

I also really loved the friendship between Mallory, Jude & Penny. While Mal + Penny’s dynamic doesn’t start off too well, seeing their friendship change and grow when they are given time to better know each other was just so great to read!!

What I found also added depth to this story was seeing how different they were through text vs. in-person. Seeing how they allow their relationship to grow through text and noticing how different it is in person just added a completely different layer to the romance and dynamic to Sam & Penny’s relationship!

It was also great to see such diversity/rep. in this YA Contemporary! There’s Penny & her mother who are Korean/Korean-American, there’s J.A. Hansen who’s black, and Bastian who’s Mexican-American!

My only minor issue was some moments of slow pacing, but aside from that this book just went above and beyond my expectations (So, I’m still debating between 4.5 & 5, but I think I’ll end up staying w/ 5)! Its just such a unique and deep YA Contemporary!

Emergency Contact is a raw, character-driven, coming of age YA Contemporary! Real, romantic, witty dialogue, with a unique and moving story, and such emotional depth, makes Mary H.K. Choi’s novel a must read! If your a fan of YA Contemporary or Contemporary Romance, Emergency Contact is a must read! Highly recommend it!!