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!! ✨✨

Not The Girls You’re Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi ARC Review

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

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Release Date: June 19, 2018

Pages: 336 (327 ARC)

Summary: Lulu Saad doesn’t need your advice, thank you very much. She’s got her three best friends and nothing can stop her from conquering the known world. Sure, for half a minute she thought she’d nearly drowned a cute guy at a party, but he was totally faking it. And fine, yes, she caused a scene during Ramadan. It’s all under control. Ish.

Except maybe this time she’s done a little more damage than she realizes. And if Lulu can’t find her way out of this mess soon, she’ll have to do more than repair friendships, family alliances, and wet clothing. She’ll have to go looking for herself.

*Received ARC through Yallwest*

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Not The Girls You’re Looking For is a YA Contemporary that explores with such complexity: friendships, love, family, and self-growth! Safi’s debut also seamlessly weaves in humor while navigating a complex and heavy topics!

Through a 3rd person POV, Safi’s debut centers around Leila “Lulu” Saad as she’s continuing to navigate her life + high school with her friends: Audrey, Lo, and Emma by her side!

But aside from high school there’s also family, friendships, and so many different facets to her life that are explored throughout the entire book! From the very beginning Lulu came to life on the page and with each and every moment, Safi continued to develop her character with so much depth!

I loved that there were just–so many different sides of Lulu’s life that are explored and seen throughout.

Friendship is a huge element of this book, obviously seen through Lulu and her core group of friends. As the friendship hits a few bumps along the way, it allows us to explore the complexities of it through Lulu’s eyes as she finds herself attempting to mend the conflict that has driven her friends apart.

Safi tackles the messy aspects of friendship in what I found to be an honest and complex way that is a big element to the story!

With Lulu a bit lost and unsure of how to mend and repair those bonds, it allowed for numerous amounts of page time of seeing Lulu’s complexity and the differing sides of her life!

It really allowed for me to connect to her even more and see her struggle to find a balance with various obstacles that appear as the story progresses.

Lulu was easily my favorite character of the entire book! She’s outgoing, reckless, sarcastic, and some would say “imperfect” but that’s what makes her such an incredible character!

She loves going out to parties, making out with guys, drinking + hanging out with her friends, etc. and I loved how she’s very outgoing and just always willing to have fun!

For me personally, at certain moments it definitely takes time to be very outgoing, but reading about Lulu and how confident she was, was just really inspiring and I just loved reading about a character who’s personality is different than mine but also very much like mine in ways too!

She is very much trying to find a space for herself, both as a biracial teen (white mother & Muslim + Iraqi father) finding where she fits in with her other family members, & overall just on her own.

I loved how Safi explored Lulu’s character and made it such a grounded element to the story!

Family is also a huge aspect to this book as Lulu confronts her uncertainties of her identity as she spends Ramadan with other family members and also explores the complex relationships/dynamics with them.

Additionally, I loved the sibling dynamics explored with her older brothers Ben & Reza. Though they aren’t present for the whole novel, their moments with Lulu are done so well as we see the sibling banter between them and as they try to help Lulu navigate the rift between her friends.

I also loved how integral her parents were! Her relationship with her mother and father is explored so well throughout the entire book. For me I did find the growth and development was slow and gradual and something that really took its time to develop and change, which I loved!

Also the way Safi crafted them as characters, their development/dynamic growth with Lulu and overall through Safi’s writing-style, they really did feel so real and I found them to be so memorable and real!

While there’s definitely memorable parents in YA Contemporary, there’s just something about Safi’s complex writing that added unique layers to Lulu’s parents, Aimee +Ahmed as well!

From family to friendship, Safi makes it clear that there’s so many differing sides and the dynamics and relationships we have with them aren’t just one sided and I loved how she explored that through her writing.

There’s also a character named James who Lulu finds herself falling for and I love how their relationship was developed! She finds herself really opening up to him over the course of the story before + after the obstacles with her friends arise!

She’s very outgoing + bold and it was great seeing that part of her shine through even more as she got to know him!

Plot-wise, it was very unique! There was never a moment where I knew where the plot was going and I found that made this reading experience so great!

From Lulu’s family life, school, celebrating Ramadan, etc. I loved the way Safi developed her plot while also making it both slow and fast paced & having work perfectly for the story!

Not The Girls You’re Looking For also discusses a number of complex/heavy subjects involving consent as it becomes a relevant topic to the overall story.

There’s just so much I loved about this book!! From the amazing focus on family and family dynamics that are so central to the story, importance of finding yourself, and the messy/complex dynamics of friendships!

Overall Not The Girls You’re Looking For is a must read YA Contemporary! It explores numerous topics from friendship, family, self identity, and so much more! Safi navigates the real and messy moments in life, while also balancing with the wonderful and memorable ones too!

What I’m Currently Reading & YA Books On My June TBR!

Book Blog Discussion BannerThere’s been a lot of books I’ve made made plans to read over summer and now that I’m officially on summer break, I’m hoping to read as much of these as I can this month!

So, today I’ll be sharing with you what I’m currently reading and the other books I’m planning on getting to!

Currently Reading:

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl1.Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl

I was able to get an ARC of Neverworld Wake from Yallwest and finally started reading it early last week, but sadly put it down to catch up on a graphic novel & Running With Lions (which I’m hoping to post my review of next week!). I’m still very interested in reading Neverworld and want to try and finish it within the coming week + post my review!

From what I know about it & have read so far, it follows Beatrice Hartley who lives in her small town working at her parents ice cream parlor.

She’s been disconnected from her 6 friends after graduation for a while, with the loss of her boyfriend Jim.

Then she returns with her friends to “Wincroft—the seaside estate where they spent so many nights sharing secrets, crushes, plans to change the world…”

Soon, they receive a mysterious knock at the door and I think, find themselves caught in a Neverworld Wake??

Overall I’d really been enjoying it so far and want to finish it! I don’t read much mystery, but Neverworld Wake has had me intrigued!

June TBR

Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova1.Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova (Labyrinth Lost #2)

I read and loved Labyrinth Lost when I read it back in 2016! It centered around Alex who is a bruja and an adventure that takes her on a quest to find her family after a spell she preforms, causes them to disappear!

From the Latinx rep. to themes of family (and sisterhood), all of which I could relate to so well, I fell in love with this book, from the story to the world–everything!

Now with Bruja Born finally out, I am beyond excited to get back into this amazing world & follow even more of Alex’s adventures!

Mariam Sharma Hits The Road by Sheba Karim2.Mariam Sharma Hits The Road by Sheba Karim

Similar to Neverworld Wake, I was also able to get an ARC of this from Yallwest! This book basically centers around a group of friends who go on a road trip after their freshman year at college!

As always, I’m always looking to read more #OwnVoices + diverse books and overall, Mariam Sharma just sounded like such an amazing read, perfect for summer, so I’m definitely going to be reading this one soon as well!

And being a college student myself, I’m also just looking forward to reading more college-centered & about college-aged YA characters!

A Reaper At The Gates by Sabaa Tahir3.A Reaper At The Gates by Sabaa Tahir (An Ember In The Ashes #3)

I’m such a big fan of An Ember In The Ashes quartet, so of course I would definitely have this on my TBR list! I can’t wait to read where Sabaa takes the story, characters, everything!!

I’ve had just– so many theories for where I think A Reaper At The Gates will be going, so I’m just counting down the days until this is out!

I’ve really been looking forward to reading more from Laia, Elias, etc. and am beyond excited to finally get my hands on A Reaper At The Gates!

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

Similar to the other ARCs above, I was also able to get a copy of Not The Girls Your Looking For at Yallwest & even met Aminah, who was so nice! Getting the chance to talk to her about the importance of representation and books in general was just so great & I’m beyond excited to read her debut novel!

Definitely check out the summary for Not The Girls Your Looking For below & add it to your TBR if you haven’t already!

“Lulu Saad doesn’t need your advice, thank you very much. She’s got her three best friends and nothing can stop her from conquering the known world. Sure, for half a minute she thought she’d nearly drowned a cute guy at a party, but he was totally faking it. And fine, yes, she caused a scene during Ramadan. It’s all under control. Ish.

Except maybe this time she’s done a little more damage than she realizes. And if Lulu can’t find her way out of this mess soon, she’ll have to do more than repair friendships, family alliances, and wet clothing. She’ll have to go looking for herself.” 

A Thousand Beginnings And Endings by Ellen Oh and Elise Chapman5. A Thousand Beginnings And Endings edited by Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman

I don’t usually read many anthologies, but when I first read the summary (& saw the gorgeous cover) of A Thousand Beginnings And Endings, I knew I’d have to read it!

This book will contain 15 short stories from authors of East and South Asia background, writing re imagined folklore and mythology!

I love reading about mythology and the blend of fantasy + mythology in this anthology sounds like it’ll be right up my alley!

I also do want to try to get into reading more YA anthologies and in general, it just sounds like an overall great read!

The Game Of Hope by Sandra Gulland6.The Game Of Hope by Sandra Gulland

Additionally, this was also another ARC I was able to get from Yallwest @ PenguinTeen’s booth, out of I think 3 other choices, The Game Of Hope was my pick!

Set in 1798 Paris, France, this novel is a YA Historical Fiction that centers around Napoleon’s step-daughter, Hortense de Beauharnais.

Wanting to go into this book without much knowledge, I do know it essentially follows Hortense as she goes about her daily life in boarding school, studies, arts, etc., but is unsure of where her future lies when her mother marries Napoleon.

I don’t usually read much historical fiction, but this novel just intrigued me from the summary and I’m beyond excited to read it!

And that wraps up my June TBR! 📚✨😍

What are you planning to read this month? Any of the books on your TBR similar to mine? Let’s Discuss! 📚✨☀