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! 🎙✨💕

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Legendary by Stephanie Garber ARC Review

Legendary by Stephanie GarberLegendary by Stephanie Garber (Caraval #2)

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Release Date: May 29, 2018

Pages: 416

Summary: A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.

*Received ARC through a festival* + *Be wary of major spoilers!!*

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Legendary takes readers back into the world of Caraval! With a darker and more magical atmosphere, Tella finds herself immersed in a game of secrets, mystery, and magic!

While Legendary for me personally wasn’t a 4.5+ star read, it really put the view of Caraval in a completely different perspective and I really enjoyed that.

Legendary takes a different, much darker turn than Caraval, while introducing and expanding on the mythology + lore of the world, which was so interesting. Through the Fates and Deck Of Destiny.

We get an expansion on the world even more than we did in Caraval and I loved seeing how it played a bigger role towards the mysterious character of Legend and the game of Caraval itself.

Firstly, this novel now follows Tella’s journey after the events of book 1 in a much slower paced story, where the stakes are higher. However, in my opinion those stakes were definitely overshadowed by the slow pacing and character-developed route of the story.

Tella’s on a journey through Caraval just as her sister was in Book 1, however with a bit of a twist.

By the end of Caraval, we learn she’s made a deal with the help of a mysterious friend she’s sure will reunite her with her mother. But, we learn she will only get her back, if she learns of Legend’s true name!

She must now complete her own game of Caraval if she hopes to be reunited with her mother, while also preventing darker forces from interfering.

I enjoyed how Legendary took more of fairy tale vibe with royalty, curses, love, prophecies, magic, etc. I found the sequel delivered this element in a very interesting way.

Garber’s writing seamlessly introduces more magical elements this time around and easily incorporates it into the world of Caraval.

With more of a game set in reality, the dark atmosphere and familial/personal stakes this game delivers for Tella was done in a very interesting way and had you really question what was real or just another part of Caraval.

I really loved how Caraval this time around really blended with reality, it made Legendary that much more of a mind game, with the reader unsure of what exactly to believe!

Legendary also introduces us to a couple new characters who deliver so much to the story.

We get introduced to the prince of Elantaine, Jacks (the Prince of Hearts aka one of the Fates) and the queen of Elantaine.

Jacks was easily one of my new favorite characters! He was very mysterious and his personality shined through every moment of page time he was in.

While its clear what his motives are regarding the Fates and his plans during the 2nd Caraval, his character was just so dynamic and interesting till the very end.

I also loved how we got a new and different view of Tella! From book 1 we see her through Scarlett’s eyes and in a very one-sided way, but this time around we just get to see more of her personality shine and the inner depths of her as a character, who isn’t all she seems.

Additionally, it was also great to get more development on the mysterious Dante, who was somewhat of minor character in Caraval, but definitely gets a lot more expansion in Legendary!

I really wish Scarlett had more page-time though! She was so great in Caraval, that I felt in Legendary she didn’t have much of an impact on Tella as Tella had on her, in book 1!

Continuing with the characters and story, I really loved reading more about discovering who exactly was Legend and the introduction to the mysterious prince, Jacks!

Jacks is a character who I can’t wait to learn more about in Garber’s, Finale!

The element of the Fates also allowed for more depth to a different side of the world + story in Caraval, which was so interesting.

However, with those great elements aside, to me Legendary (at times) just felt it was Caraval (plot-wise) all over again, but now following Tella. While that is definitely not a bad thing, I just couldn’t help but compare the 2 very easily.

I was just hoping for Legendary to take a bit of a different approach, however the mystery and expansion on the mythology made it a very memorable sequel.

The last 50 pages or so however, really brought me back in as all the pieces were coming together. Finally reaching the end, all I could think was “what?? Now, how am I supposed to wait for Finale?” 

I enjoyed the ending and know seeing where the story seems to be headed, I am beyond excited to read book 3!

Legendary is a darker and even more character-driven sequel! With the magic system expanded on and even more intrigue and mystery, Garber’s continuation to Caraval will have you unsure of what is real and what is all part of the game as Tella takes a chance and plays Caraval!

Caraval by Stephanie Garber Review

caraval-by-stephanie-garberCaraval by Stephanie Garber (Caraval #1)

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Release Date: January 31, 2017

Pages: 407

Summary:Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Caraval is an immersive and page turning YA Fantasy! With elements of mystery and wonder throughout, Garber’s debut will have you turning the page!

So, I’ve finally read Caraval!! To be honest I was so worried about reading this book because I’d heard so much pre-release hype and heard such amazing things well before & after release!

I’m so glad I gave Caraval a chance, because I ended up really really enjoying it!🎪✨🌹

I also managed to somehow get my hands on an ARC of Legendary through Yallwest and after reaching the end of Caraval, can’t wait to read/review it!!

Scarlett has wished her entire life to go to Caraval and finally witness the magic and wonder she’s heard stories about since she was little & maybe even get a chance to meet the mysterious Caraval master, Legend!

With a difficult home life, living with a manipulative + abusive father, and arranged marriage, however, she is unsure whether her dreams of attending Caraval will ever come true!

Although she is invited by Legend himself and finds herself with a spark of hope again, she’s doubtful she’ll ever be able to make it.

Tella and Scarlett couldn’t be more different. Tella is the younger, but more outgoing of the two. She’s no stranger to romance and maybe even danger.

As Scarlett is about to share the news of Legend’s letters to Tella, she see’s her fooling around with a mysterious sailor, Julian!

Scarlett shares the news with Tella and Julian provides a way for them to make it to Caraval. Scarlett isn’t sure it’ll be so easy, but she has no choice when her sister and Julian team up to take Scarlett & leave the Isle Of Trisda behind to make it to Caraval and escape their father + Scarlett’s arranged marriage!

Things however take a different turn when Tella goes missing as Scarlett gets dragged into Caraval!

Now Julian and Scarlett have to team up when they soon realize that Tella has become a part of Caraval and have about 4 nights to find her and maybe even earn a wish, but everything isn’t what it seems.

Through the mystery and suspense, Caraval becomes such an immersive and fun read! As we follow Scarlett on the hunt for her sister, the magic and dark secrets of Caraval, come to light!

The mystery of the plot built a lot of suspense and really heightened the stakes, which for me, made the story unexpected and overall made just fun in trying to piece everything together through the twists and turns!

I was taken by surprise at the plot twists a number of times, which made the book really unique, fun to read as well and just helped to continue building the suspense and mystery!

It made the story such a page turner, not only through the way Garber built mystery but also through the puzzles throughout Scarlett’s Caraval adventure!

The characters all really came to life and through Garber’s writing the plot itself was so immersive + cinematic!!

Garber brings such life to her characters and I loved each and everyone! They were all written in a way where its so easy to picture who they were and have them become so real on the page!

From Scarlett, Tella, Julian, Aiko, the mysterious Legend, and so many others,  every single character brought so much to this story and made Caraval such an engaging read!!

While I loved pretty much all of the characters, I really loved Julian and Aiko!! Aiko is a mysterious girl with an even more mysterious journal who helps Scarlett along the way during Caraval, when Scarlett + Julian get split up for a bit!!

She was a fun, sassy, and witty character & she easily became one of my favorites, along-side Julian!!

As mentioned above, Garber’s writing easily pulls you into the magical story of Caraval and makes her world so cinematic and immersive! Additionally, because its also written in 3rd person, it allowed for such an expansive view of Caraval itself and helps to build the mystery + eeriness of the story so well!

I’ll admit I was a bit hesitant b/c of the length of Caraval, but was so surprised at how quickly the pages were flying by!

No matter what page I stopped reading, every time I picked it back up I was immediately transported back to Caraval!

You can also feel and see the love that Scarlett has for Tella and what she’s willing to sacrafice for her, even if Tella & Scarlett don’t see eye-to-eye on everything!

This reminded me so much of Wintersong, in a great way!! From the sisterly bond and the mystery!! Not only that, but both older sisters show such determination to get their sisters back!! ❤

I really found that sisterly bond through Scarlett’s actions and thoughts throughout Caraval to really drive the story as she tries to find her before others can reach her first & Caraval comes to an end!

Now as to some of the cons…

For me personally, I did find the writing to get a bit dull and repetitive, when colors were used to describe/tell so much of the setting or emotions. While I liked how it offered nice visuals for the story, I was hoping for a different type of descriptive writing-style to bring more magic to the setting!

Additionally, I felt the plot built up so much mystery for Caraval & Legend, that I personally wanted a bit more from the ending when things are finally revealed.

Other than Caraval itself, the other elements of the world (various Isles & Continents) were mentioned, but never really given much development or expansion.

However, aside from those elements Caraval surprised me more than I thought it would and I am beyond excited to see where Garber takes Legendary!

Caraval is a fun and immersive YA Fantasy!! With a page-turning plot and mystery to keep you hooked, Garber’s magical tale will have you guessing as you follow Scarlett on her adventure throughout the mysterious game of Caraval!!

LA Times Festival Of Books Wrap-Up {2018} + {Swag Giveaway!}

This past weekend I went to the L.A. Times Festival Of Books! Its a great festival hosted at USC every April where there are signings, celebration of art, music, and of course–tons of authors & books! 😍✨📚

If you’ve never gone, I highly recommend going if you have the chance! There’s always such great and interesting booths–and not just ones about books!

There’s entertainment, education, food, writing booths & so much more! (Especially great book swag!)

For Saturday April 21 it was a pretty easy schedule with only 4 authors on my list:

A Crown Of Wishes Cover RevealRoshani Chokshi author of The Star-Touched QueenA Crown Of Wishes, & her most recent, Aru Shah And The End Of Time (which I’m almost done with!!)

Sandhya Menon author of When Dimple Met Rishi

Sara Saedi author of Never Ever & Maurene Goo author of I Believe In A Thing Called Love 

I was able to meet all these authors & get my books signed! Throughout the festival I also checked out a lot of the booths, got some swag, and bought a book!

Shout-out to Maurene who recognized me b/c I also met her last year to get an ARC of I Believe In A Thing Called Love!😭✨❤💗

And Sara Saedi! I really loved her Peter Pan retelling Never Ever, so now that the sequel is out, it was great to be able to talk to her about it & what to  expect!

I also got to chat/see some lovely book blog friends again, such as Jordan from: The Heart Of A Book Blogger

Paige: The Paige Turner

& Allison: @AlliCrystal

On Sunday April 22, I had a few more authors on my list & was able to see almost all of them (sadly Nic Stone’s signing was too late for me & I couldn’t find my copy of American Panda in time to see Gloria Chao 😭):

The Belles by Dhonielle ClaytonFirst I met: Dhonielle Clayton, author of The Belles and co-author of The Tiny Pretty Things duology! {We talked about writing, then she asked me about tea-cup animals {which are in The Belles} & which one I would want–I said foxes or dragons!! 😆😍✨🦊🐉 & chatting w/ her was just so much fun!}

Before I met Dhonielle Clayton, I actually attended a panel that featured her, Sabaa Tahir, Marie Lu, & Tochi Onyebuchi for: Eat. Read Sleep: Fantastical Young Adult! This panel was moderated by Sarah Enni who runs the podcast: First Draft Pod.

They discussed the fantasy worlds they create, diversity and the importance of representation, how they go about world-building, etc.! It was a great panel & they were so funny!! 😂✨

I don’t usually attend panels when I go to book events, but this one was just fantastic & I’m so glad I attended!

Next I stayed around the YA Stage to meet:

Flight Season by Marie MarquardtMarie Marquardt author of Flight Season 

Emily X.R. Pan author of The Astonishing Color Of After (Which I still have yet to read!! But will very soon! 😭✨)

& Mary H.K. Choi author of Emergency Contact!

Getting the chance to chat w/ each author was just so great! Especially Marie & Mary, who I got to fangirl with over their amazing books!!

I also met some cool bookish people in line, such as Kalie who blogs about books at: A Bit Fairy Tale!

Afterwards I decided to make my last stop at the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore booth to What You Left Me by Bridget Morrisseypick up an early copy of Bridget Morrissey’s upcoming YA Contemporary novel:

What You Left Me

I’d heard about it a while back and I definitely decided to keep it on my radar b/c it sounded like a great YA Contemporary & couldn’t miss the opportunity to get an early copy and meet the author!

Out on June 5, here is a summary: Martin and Petra meet for the first time at graduation, and though they’ve shared the halls of their high school for four years without crossing paths, there’s an instant connection the moment they’re seated next to each other at the commencement ceremony.

Then a car accident puts Martin into a coma, and Petra is somehow left picking up the pieces, using friends, family, and shared dreams to keep their surprise connection going.

Together they must unlock the truth of his situation, and with time running out, their bond becomes Martin’s best shot at waking back up to the life he’s left behind.

Overall talking with each author was amazing! They were all so kind! Getting the time to ask them questions about writing and their books was incredible!

And now for the giveaway!! I was at the Mysterious Galaxy booth & found some Furyborn swag (an exclusive sampler + bookmark!)

So not only is this my first swag giveaway, but its also my first international one!
All you have to do is RT the tweet below & follow my twitter!

& I can’t share it yet, but I’ll also be having another LATFOB giveaway soon! (Stay tuned on my twitter ^_^)

So overall it was another fantastic weekend at the LA Times Festival Of Books!! It just gets better & better w/ each year!! I can’t wait to return again next year in 2019!

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!!

Flight Season by Marie Marquardt Review

Flight Season by Marie MarquardtFlight Season by Marie Marquardt

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Release Date: February 20, 2018

Pages: 352

Summary:Back when they were still strangers, TJ Carvalho witnessed the only moment in Vivi Flannigan’s life when she lost control entirely. Now, TJ can’t seem to erase that moment from his mind, no matter how hard he tries. Vivi doesn’t remember any of it, but she’s determined to leave it far behind. And she will.

But when Vivi returns home from her first year away at college, her big plans and TJ’s ambition to become a nurse land them both on the heart ward of a university hospital, facing them with a long and painful summer together – three months of glorified babysitting for Ángel, the problem patient on the hall. Sure, Ángel may be suffering from a life-threatening heart infection, but that doesn’t make him any less of a pain.

As it turns out, though, Ángel Solís has a thing or two to teach them about all those big plans, and the incredible moments when love gets in their way.

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: Flight Season is a gem of a novel! Heartfelt, impactful, and beautifully written through 3 brilliantly woven POV’s , Marquardt’s novel discusses love, grief, loss, family, forgiveness, and acceptance! 

From the very first page I fell in love with Flight Season and it easily became not only another one of my all-time favorite YA Contemporaries, but just connected with me in such a way I am truly grateful for!

You know when you read a book & feel you read it at the most perfect moment? That’s definitely what reading Flight Season felt like~

Told through 3 phenomenally developed POV’s, we follow Vivi Flannigan, TJ Carvalho & Ángel Solis.

Vivi has just barley passed her classes at Yale for pre-med, now in order to stay in the program she’s required to complete a summer internship at a hospital in the heart ICU. There she meets nurse aid TJ & patient Ángel.

TJ is planning to complete his training at the hospital & classes in community college to become a nurse.

Ángel Solis is an 18-year old patient, who finds himself in the hospital with a heart infection due to an incident from his job.

The 3 POV’s were all written so wonderfully and each had their own unique and distinct voice. I truly loved reading how these POV’s all weaved together.

One aspect I loved about Flight Season so much was the growth/development seen within each character. Though Vivi’s journey is essentially a huge aspect of this novel, both TJ + Ángel’s perspectives are equally as important and their stories are progressed so wonderfully!

These characters are very much different from their first introductions to the very last page and Marquardt brilliantly gives insight and depth to our 3 main characters that they just truly come to life!

Reading the friendship and deep connection the characters create with each other over the course of the story was miraculously developed and seeing how supportive they became of each other was written so beautifully!

Vivi herself was so relatable to me because she went through moments (especially thinking about university/majors) about whether what she’s studying is really what she wants to pursue. Also considering she heavily handles the emotions of grief and loss was just something for me personally I struggled with not too long ago and reading her long, but fulfilling journey to accept what happened w/ her father was just so beautiful to read & I felt for her with each and every moment.

Additionally what truly made this novel so much more special for me was the Latinx representation! We have TJ who is Brazilian-American & Ángel who is Indigenous Guatemalan & speaks Mam (an indigenous Mayan language).

This is actually the very first time I can say that I am truly writing a 100% #OwnVoices review (with my culture being represented) and that honestly meant so much to me reading it in Flight Season!

With my ethnic background being Guatemalan, it just felt so surreal to read that explicitly stated in the text, reading through Ángel’s falshbacks about Guatemala (& later Vivi’s POV), from the description of the setting to the indigenous languages, just had me crying tears of joy!!😭

I truly loved each of the 3 main characters with all my heart. Their personalities just shine through with each page and you really see their slow, but definite development when you reach the end of Flight Season.

Vivi is really into birds and bird-watching. Throughout the novel we see entries in her journal from the various birds she sees and what exactly they represent for her.

Flight Season discusses grief throughout a majority of the novel through Vivi, and we see how these birds later represent a sense of acceptance for her with the loss of her father + how that not only impacts her from before the start of the novel, but also her mother + the struggles (mainly economic) they face as the novel progresses.

TJ + Vivi both struggle with finding where their place in the world, but support each other when issues come up and through their *almost hate-to-love relationship, really shows their growth as characters and how they learn to really lift each other up + better understand who they want to be!

Though I loved all 3 main characters equally, Ángel was easily my favorite. His perspective in a way broke the 4th wall as he was essentially talking with us (the reader) as he narrates his time in his hospital room, how he got there & with the friendship he builds with Vivi + TJ.

The dynamic he has with each of them was so beautifully done and overall just his witty +  kind personality made his character very refreshing to read about! He was just a really nice and supportive person throughout the novel and regardless of what obstacles he faced, just remained optimistic + hopeful!~

The themes throughout Flight Season were very well developed and explored, from loss (through the explanation of the death of Vivi’s father + Ángel’s family), but also acceptance and the importance of friendship & how it can allow for healing through difficult times.

Flight Season is one of those truly special books that takes you on an quite a journey and doesn’t let go for a single page! From the beautiful characters, writing, themes, and uniquely plotted story, Marquardt’s novel is a must read YA Contemporary!

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo ARC Review

The Poet X by Elizabeth AcevedoThe Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Publisher: Harper Teen

Release Date: March 6, 2018

Pages: 368

Available for Pre-Order Through: The Book Depository

Summary: Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

*I received an ARC from the publisher through Karina (Afire Pages)* Thank You!! 😄❤💕

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Poet X is must read! Told through honest, raw, and impactful poems, Xiomara finds her voice through the written word as she questions + navigates her world to understand who she wants to become!

If you haven’t added The Poet X to your TBR yet, I highly recommend you do!

Told through verse, Acevedo’s writing evokes so much passion, emotion, and with each poem Xiomara’s story becomes so vivid and real!

Xiomara feels a number of divides and uncertainties in her world. With a sense that she will never be the perfect daughter her mother expects, to the rocky dynamic/relationship she has with her twin brother Xavier and her father, to the questions she has about religion, life, and love.

With each and every poem you get deeper into Xiomara’s life, her as a character, & how she wants to better understand herself in the many conflicting aspects of her world.

Probably one of my many favorite character dynamics of The Poet X was between Xiomara and Xavier (usually called Twin). Having a twin myself, I loved the little details that not only explored their dynamic as twins (such as Xo’s comment on twin telepathy) but also the unique side to their distant relationship that develops and changes as the story progresses.

I felt that the contrasts and differences with Xiomara & Twin (from seeing them at spearate schools, differing hobbies, and their own personal way of showing their care/love for each other), were just so well explored and developed that it really allows you to see the growth of their distant relationship to a much closer bond, & how this development changes their dynamic for the better.

The Poet X is such a character-driven story and although the poems are fast-paced & quick, they leave such an impact through the heart, emotion, and depth that Acevedo weaves into each one. From Xiomara to Twin, her mother & father, her English teacher Ms. Galiano, Xiomara’s bio lab partner Aman, and so many other characters, they all shine through the moving and complex poetry!

The characters all come to life through the power of Acevedo’s words and just stay with you throughout the entire book!

There were so many themes and topics discussed in this novel and I felt they were all fully developed and explored. From family, body image/self-love, independence, love/relationships, religion, and tackling sexism–through Acevedo’s impactful writing you get the messages she’s exploring with each and every one.

Through the raw and vivid writing, Acevedo made The Poet X such a gripping read as I learned more about Xiomara and her world. As mentioned above, though the poems are fast-paced and quick, they continue to build every aspect of Xiomara and her world from her dreams, thoughts, and the family/friends + other important people in her life!

What also made this novel so special for me was the Latinx representation! Xiomara & her family are Dominican and just reading the phrases or words of Spanish throughout the poems just allowed me to connect with this novel so much and left such an impact!

As for other representation, we have Aman who is Trinidadian and there is also gay representation that is explored as we learn Twin is in a relationship with one of his classmates.

Seeing how poetry and the power of words allows Xiomara to connect to the world and find her place was such a deeply explored message throughout the entire story. Seeing her journey to share her love and connection of poetry was so beautifully weaved into each and every aspect of The Poet X.

Xiomara’s dynamic with her mother was such a vital aspect of the story, that was explored through a number of ways. From Xiomara’s views on herself & love, to her uncertainty with religion, seeing how her mother impacted them in such huge ways really allowed me to see just how their complex and difficult relationship shaped so many different aspects of Xiomara’s life.

The Poet X is a powerful and inspiring coming-of-age story that deeply explores the power of words, their emotional impact, and how they allow one to find their voice! With such deeply explored themes of family, love, religion and so much more, Xiomara uses the power of poetry to find her place in the world and make herself heard!