2020: Week 1 Reading Roundup

Sunday.29.December.2019 – Saturday.4.January.2020 

The first week of 2020 is over and I’ve managed to read 3 amazing books, making progress on my personal AOC challenge.


Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story by Debbie Tung

This is a wonderful little book. It made me feel so completely understood. It features a college-aged Debbie making her way through college and feeling a bit like an outsider. The comics are lovely and really capture the introvert life {5*}

Book Love by Debbie Tung

Another Debbie Tung comic! This one resonated with my bookish life. The comics are once again lovely, but there is a certain something lacking in this book. There was no “aha” moment. So while I really did like this book, I am not head over heels in love with it. Still enjoyable though {4*}

Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller

If there is one book that should be required reading this year, this is it. Everyone needs to experience this book. Chanel Miller is Emily Doe, the Stanford rape victim. Her story is harrowing. I cried through pretty much the whole audiobook (that she narrates!). Her writing is thoughtful and eloquent. I was heartbroken, angry, empowered. As a fellow gaucho alum, I may be a little biased. But seriously, I cannot recommend this book enough. Read it, read it, read it. {5*}


The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

An ARC I received through BookishFirst. As soon as I saw Marie Lu’s name, I knew I had to have it. The cover is stunning. And the story is so good!! Ahh, my heart is happy.

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I’m only half an hour into this audiobook and I am already enjoying it. It is just so incredibly relevant. 


Um, I’m not sure! I’m not that far into my current reads so who knows what book I’ll be in the mood to read after.


The one where I make my blogging return: New Year, New Bookish Resolutions


2019: Week 21 Reading Roundup

Sunday.May.19 – Saturday.May.25

AKA: Honor a veteran and remember the sacrifice of those no longer with us ❤


The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

​A quick audiobook listen. Written in verse, the book is an incredibly relatable story of Xiomara, a teen girl in New York. The hype is real! [5*]

Travels With Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck

​Steinbeck and his dog, Charley, embarked on a cross-country trip across America. It’s beautifully perceptive. [3.5*]

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (read by Philip Franklin)

​A cautionary tale. At least, that’s the way I choose to interpret it. A young man wanders off to the Alaskan wild. Months later his emaciated body is found by a hunter. What happened, and why did he leave everything behind? [3.5*]

Native Son by Richard Wright

​Societal critique with overt Communist ideals. It’s graphic and harrowing. This book is a lot. [3.5*]

In at the Deep End by Kate Davies

​Sexually explicit, but oh so good haha! [RTC]


The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

Currently 42% through the audiobook. It’s, um, interesting. 


I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan

I need a horror book in my life right now haha


Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Won this in a Goodreads Giveaway! I waited almost 2 months for this book to arrive. Can’t wait to finally read it! 


Let’s Get Personal: Mental Health Month


2019: Week 17 Reading Roundup

Sunday.April.21 – Saturday.April.27

AKA: The week I rushed to the doctor and got a booster shot because I work with tiny little humans and I refuse to die from a 19th-century disease like some Dickens peasant…


The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

​Three different storylines intertwine, all relating in some way, to the husband’s secret. The secret itself a doozy, and one we find out early on in the book. The main focus is on the consequences of actions taken (or not taken) by the characters. An easy, fast-paced read. I really liked the epilogue! (A lot of… what if…) [3*]

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter (narrated by Mariska Hargitay and Lin-Manuel Miranda)

​Best book ever! Everything you ever wanted to know about the musical Hamilton is in this fabulous book. Costume choices, lighting, picking the performers, etc. I am #obsessed. FYI Lin-Manuel narrates the last part about the libretto lyrics, this is where the physical book would have been a better option [4.5*]

The Song of the Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning

RTC!! Eventually…


Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (narrated by Jim Dale)

My second read, first time audio listen. Loving it!! Should be finishing it up before the month ends 🙂

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

Morgan Matson does it again! I am really enjoying this read!! About 73% through the book. Should be wrapping it up by tonight.


Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
I have this audiobook all set and ready to go as soon as I finish Peter Pan.

Well that wraps up another week in reading! Also, this is me right now:


The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne Du Maurier

I was looking  for a new audiobook to listen to when I stumbled across this one. It consists of six short stories written by Daphne Du Maurier and narrated by various people. 

The Birds

Okay, we all know this story. For some reason birds, all kinds of birds, start attacking humans out of nowhere. 

The story follows the Hocken family. Nat Hocken, a war veteran sees birds gathering together in droves and finds it strange. When he comments on it, others wave it away. It’s the weather, they explain. He is not satisfied with this response but doesn’t think too much of it. Until the birds suddenly attack him as he makes his way into his home. 

These attacks start occurring everywhere. And as the bird attacks become fierce, the Hocken family takes shelter in theor home. Nat boards up the house and does everything possible to stop the birds from entering the home as their incessant pecking on the wooden house increases.

This is a pretty eerie story. It’s fairly short yet still managed to scare the bejesus out of me. When I saw a pigeon out and about, I almost fainted on sight. The worst part? The story has no conclusion. But taking into consideration everything that happens, I feel safe in assuming the Hocken family doesn’t survive. Which means, the birds win. And we still don’t know why it all happened in the first place. 

Monte Verità

The unnamed narrator recounts a tale regarding his best friend Victor, his best friend’s wife Anna, and a mysterious mountain. 

The story begins with the 70 year old narrator, talking about how he and Victor first met as students. How they both shared a passion for hiking and had climbed every mountaintop near them. And he talks about how Victor met Anna.

The narrator thinks of Anna as Victor’s opposite. While he is loud and boisterous, she is quiet and serious. One day, the couple plans a hiking trip to Mount Verità. Neither of the men have heard of it, so the narrator tells Victor to be cautious as he does not know the terrain, and leaves on a business trip.

Upon his return, he discovers that Anna has left Victor and he has been in a nursing home for quite some time. He rushes to his friend’s side and listens to Victor’s strange tale of their adventure on Mount Verità.

This was an usual story. I knew something weird was going on, but like the narrator, we have to piece the narrative together ourselves. We only know what the narrator knows, after all. 

It was a good anecdote. There are a few tiny things that I didn’t fully grasp, but it was still enjoyable. It’s a bit of a mystery. Trying to figure out what exactly is happening on Mount Verità. And when you do, you realize it’s actually deeper than expected. 

The Apple Tree

Well, I’ll never eat an apple without thinking of Midge. Yikes.

 A man has been married to Midge for a long time. When he retires, the two are all of a sudden spending more time together. The husband is often neglectful of his wife and her needs. It becomes obvious fairly soon that they kind of don’t know how to live one another.  

One day, Midge gets sick. Pneumonia. Next thing you know, she’s dead. The husband thinks he is to blame. And comes to believe that an apple tree holds his wife’s spirit. From that point on, he begins to crack. The wood burned from the tree sickens him. The apples produced by said tree, also sicken him. He cannot tolerate anything that the apple tree provides. 

This was a fairly interesting story. Less on the spooky factor, more on the straightforward factor. It’s basically the story of a shitty husband who is haunted by an apple tree. And what happens when he tries to get rid of the poor tree. That’s it. That’s the story. But it was a damn good story. 

The Little Photographer

A Marquise is vacationing on the French Riviera with her two young children when she meets a photographer. The two begin an illicit affair. When she attempts to end things, the story takes a sinister turn. 

This story wasn’t as supernatural as the others. It left me feeling underwhelmed. I wasn’t actually surprised by the turn the story takes. Actually, it reminded me of a stunt they’d pull in a telenovela. 

Hm. Not my favorite. 

Kiss Me, Stranger

A war veteran is living a pretty satisfactory life. One day, he visits a local movie theater and is smitten by one of the usherettes. He flirts with her but she gives him the brush off. After the movie ends, he catches a glimpse of her walking down the street. He follows. She boards a bus. He does too. She falls asleep. He sits beside her and pays her bus fare. She briefly wakes up tells him at which stop to wake her and leans her head on his shoulder and dozes off again.

This story was pretty straightforward. Girl catches guy’s eye, seemingly good guy acts like a creep and stalks her. Guy and girl share a moment. Then the story takes an unexpected turn. I thought I knew where the story was going. Ha! I was way off base. 

There’s a tinge of suspense in the story. You get the idea that something is going to happen. But you’re not exactly sure what. And then it all dawns on you just as the narrator realizes what is happening. My mouth actually fell open. The creep dodged a bullet. 

The Old Man

A man watches his strange neighbor and his family. The old man, the family’s patriarch, does not allow any of his family members to interact with other people. The rare times that they do, they communicate in a language that the neighbor does not recognize.

One day, the old man and his wife return home without their children (2 daughters and 1 son). Now, the children are all grown so the neighbor thinks that the parents simply kicked their kids out of the house. But 3 weeks later, the son shows up and is pushed away by the father. A few days later, the son turns up dead.

This story reminded me a bit of Rear Window. Because this guy is always observing the old man and his family. They’ve been neighbors for years so I guess he’s curious about them. 

The ending was weird though. I have a feeling it’s supposed to be profound. But that deepness was lost on me. Honestly, I’m confused. I don’t get it. So I can’t really say much else. I have nothing else to add about this story. 

Overall Thoughts

These stories make me want to reread Rebecca because I actually didn’t like it the first time I read it. Maybe her writing style isn’t for me..?

Some of these short stories were definitely good and spooky. I think The Birds was my favorite. Least favorite? Obviously The Old Man. #stillconfused. But for the most part I thought they were simply okay. Idk. Must be a writing style thing. 

A Book About a Problem Facing Society Today

I tried to narrow this down to one problem. But I couldn’t. I simply couldn’t. Our society has one too many issues. And these books do a good job of sparking a discussion.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

What can I say about this book that hasn’t been said before? This is an incredibly powerful book. My top read this year. No doubt about it. The hype is legit with this one.

Starr is an African-American teen from “the ghetto” attending a predominantly white private school. One night, her best friend is murdered by a cop right before her eyes. What ensues, is heartbreakingly real and poignant.

This book is real. Cannot stress that enough. I cried, I laughed, I was angered, I reminisced and I cried again. Look, I grew up in the hood. And I felt this novel perfectly encapsulated that part of my life.

All I know, is that if I were to fall victim to a crime today, my name and reputation would probably be dragged through the mud because I lived in the projects and may therefore have “possible gang affiliations”. Despite the fact that I live in the suburbs, graduated from a decent university and have a steady job. But in today’s America, those details get lost as soon as someone’s skin color is seen.  

My review of The Autobiography of Malcolm X


Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer

A look at the prevalent number of alleged campus rapes/sexual assaults in Missoula, Montana by college athletes. The book presents interviews with the victims and the accused and their parents, friends, etc. It is an in-depth look at certain cases, some that made headlines. 

Wow wow wow. A myriad of emotions. I listened to the audiobook which was narrated by Mozhan Marno and every morning I was upset. I’ve always been on the “believe the victim” side (I’ve known people who were roofied, sexually assaulted and raped). So to listen to these young women in the book go through what they did in detail. It was a lot. My blood boiled. And it scared the shit out of me. At the end of the day though, it didn’t really surprise me. That’s the heartbreaking part. That I knew justice wouldn’t be served in these cases. In one instance, it actually is. It shocked me and I cheered and cried. Why? This shouldn’t be something out of the norm. But, it is. 

The way the prosecutors and detectives went out of their way to help the accused football players makes me see red. Seriously Kirsten Pabst?! She was in charge of one of the cases but refused to file charges. She then resigned, her boss decided to file charges, so she joined the guy’s defense team! I mean, what kind of bullshit is that?! 

And the trials themselves! Good Lord! You confess to rape and still deserve a lenient sentence because you’re a good person? The fuck?! NO! Raping “your little sister” proves otherwise! “I have suffered enough and have a bright future”. Excuse me?! You’re the one that raped someone and have caused years of emotional damage. Do not play victim when YOU have committed a crime. 

Reason #37293629 why I don’t trust the justice system. I am a woman and if I were the victim of sexual assault I wouldn’t get Oliva Benson or Eliot Stabler. I’d get some asshole that would blame me for falling asleep in a friend’s house in the first place. How dare I expect people to act like decent human beings? Haha, silly me. 


Columbine by Dave Cullen

An in-depth look at the school shooting that rocked the United States. This book is written by one of the many journalists that initially covered the massacre. My one pet peeve: the writing format. Bounced back between something that happened pre-massacre to one of the survivors. It seemed a bit unstructured to me.

I remember life before Columbine. After? Big changes. My sister was in high school and my mom worried about her constantly. I went from having regular earthquake/fire drills in school to active shooter/lockdown drills. Although to be completely transparent, my elementary school was in a rough neighborhood and we had drive-by drills. Um, yeah. 

Look, I don’t know what the root of these incidents is. Gun control? Mental health? Bullying? I honestly, have no clue. One of the Columbine killers was a psychopath, the other was severely depressed. So again, I don’t know. I do know that whatever is driving this phenomenon has gone on too long. 

I thought after Sandy Hook some kind of change would occur. Those babies were slaughtered. Yet, nothing happened. Sending your kids to school shouldn’t be a daunting task. 

Here’s a loose list of mass shootings that have happened in the last 20 years. Full disclosure: my alma mater is on the list. (Sort of). IV ❤ 

2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

Prompt: a book about a problem facing society today

Challenge Update: 44/50

Mini-Reviews: Anna Kendrick, Road Trips, Music, and Nicholas Sparks

More mini-reviews! Yay! This is what happens when you hunker down in your home to escape the heat outside. Honestly, I think all this reading is starting to burn me out haha. 

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

I listened to the audiobook version and I must say, listening to these celebrities narrate their essays and memoirs has been amazing so far. A bit of their personalities shine through. Anna Kendrick’s is no exception. 

I think Anna Kendrick has been the realest. She holds absolutely nothing back when talking about her life. And I could relate to her in a way I didn’t think would be possible. She’s an anxious oddball! Was I a huge fan of hers before? Eh, not really, sort of? I can watch the Pitch Perfect movies on repeat all day though haha. Now I think I’ll see her a little differently. She let her crazy out and I really enjoyed it.

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Amy has been left home alone for a month. Her twin brother is at a “summer enrichment program” (aka rehab), her mother is setting up their new home in Connecticut, and her father? Well, her father died 3 months before in a car accident; Amy was the driver. Now Amy’s mother needs her to get the family car from California to Connecticut. Enter Roger, an old family friend. He has to get to the East Coast and is willing to do the drive with Amy. An amazing road trip ensues.

Roger and Amy go on the greatest cross-country road trip ever. Her mom had planned out the trip’s original route but Amy and Roger decide to take detours. Loved it. As they’re stuck spending hours together they get to know each other and help one another out. 

When you’re trying to read but your dog won’t let you lol

Throughout the book, there are pictures and receipts from the trip scattered around which I liked. Plus music playlists! It made Amy’s scrapbook seem real. And they come across so many people that help them on their personal journeys. Besides, they actually go to some pretty cool places!

I want to go on a road trip! Haven’t been on one in what seems like forever. Sigh. Morgan Matson is definitely one of my new favorite authors.

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

Frank is a vinyl record store owner in 1980’s England. One day a strange woman faints outside his shop. A tentative friendship springs up between him and Ilse. 

So vinyl records. Frank is an old soul, and refuses to sell tapes, cd’s and whatnot. He has a knack for finding people the music they need. Just by listening to your story, he knows what it is you should listen to. Now because he only sells vinyl, his store begins to suffer as people flock to pick up the new shiny tech. Actually, the whole street is suffering. Then Ilse appears and things are okay for Frank for a while. Then flash forward to 2009 and Frank has been dealt many blows. His shop is no more, his old shop neighbors have all either died or moved on, Ilse hasn’t been seen in so long.

Sigh. This book was an all-around downer. I picked it up thinking it would be like The Little Paris Bookshop but with music. In a way it was. Frank is very passionate about music and it’s all extremely interesting. Everything outside that is a bit of a bummer though. I dreaded picking this book up. It ends on a relatively happy note but getting there was a depressing read.

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

Erin is in an abusive marriage. Her husband Kevin, a detective in Boston, is extremely controlling and beats Erin for absolutely zero reason. She manages to escape to Southport, a small beachside town. There, she is finally safe, living a life of her own, and falling for Alex, a widower with two young children. But Kevin is desperate to find her.

Okay. This is my first Nicholas Sparks book and it wasn’t that bad. I’ve seen the movie adaptation before so all of the plot twists weren’t surprising to me. 

I think my biggest problem is the writing style. It kept telling me all these things, but not really showing it. Plus, some things were completely unbelievable. And oh my goodness, if Erin’s beauty was discussed one more time I was going to scream. Seriously. Her good looks were always mentioned. I’m sure she has other attributes! Ugh. 

Anyway, it was an okay read. 

If you made it this far, you’re a trouper haha

Happy blogging everyone! 🙂

Mini-Reviews: Judy Blume, Gidget & Lauren Graham

It’s summer and I’m getting through books faster than I usually do. Hence the mini-reviews. I am not complaining though. Let’s see how well this pace keeps up before I burn myself out haha. 

Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

Caitlynn and Victoria (“Vix”) have two distinct backgrounds but meet when they’re 12 years old. Every summer since,they spend it at Caitlynn’s family home on Martha’s Vineyard. This is the story of their friendship, and how they grew up and followed different paths in life.

The dynamic of their friendship is weird. Vix wishes she had Caitlynn’s life. So as little girls, she does what Caitlynn wants. Never once questioning her actions. Which is why Caitlynn likes her. As adults though, you realize that Caitlynn is struggling. She cries out for help in her own way but Vix kind of blows her off. And there are all these revelations that make you think, they were shitty people to each other. Yet, they’re still friends. 

Caitlynn’s dad and stepmom become Vix’s benefactors, giving her opportunities that she otherwise may not have had. Vix follows the path that everyone assumes Caitlynn was destined for. She goes to college, she maintains a healthy relationship with Caitlynn’s parents, she marries, she has a baby. While Caitlynn travels the world, never once returning to the island. She sort of drifts along. That is until she decides to settle down and marry Vix’s first love on her birthday!

Yeah. That happens. Vix started dating Bru, an islander, when she was about 16 years old. They maintained an on-again/off-again relationship for about 4-5 years while she was in college. When he proposes, she turns him down and that’s the end of that. Fast forward a few years and he is engaged to Caitlynn. Caitlynn who has only recently returned to the island. Caitlynn who one day out of the blue rings Vix and invites her to the island because she is getting married. When Vix asks to who, Caitlynn is so matter of fact. Talking about “I thought you knew”, and you have to be my maid of honor, and oh we’re getting married on your birthday so you never forget our anniversary. What?! Girl, bye! 

This is my first adult novel by Judy Blume. And, um… haha. I liked it. I really did. I loved the setting. I loved the writing. I loved the story. It’s an interesting take on childhood friendships and how they change when we grow up and experience life. But. The ending. Something happens and it’s open to interpretation. Sigh. This always bothers me. I do have a theory though… 

Gidget by Frederick Kohner

I am completely biased when it comes to this book. Gidget is a precocious teen and Moondoggie is swoon-worthy haha. I love it!

It’s summer and Franzie goes for a swim at the beach when she gets caught in the waves. Enter Moondoggie. A surfer that pulls her out of the water. He rides the wave in, with Franzie on the board, and what ensues are Gidget’s attempts to learn how to surf and become a part of the all-boy crew.

The book is a good look at 50’s surfing culture in Malibu. It is also The Catcher in the Rye for women. Gidget is trying to grow up fast but she is also scared to do so. She’s funny, she’s adorable and strong-willed. While she’s fallen head over heels for Moondoggie, it is surfing she has truly fallen in love with. 

In all fairness I should mention there is an instance of cheating. But it is important to remember dating norms were different in the 50’s. Even wholesome Nancy Drew dates other guys, even though she has Ned. So, don’t judge the book by today’s standards. (Didn’t I say I was biased? ;)) 

My book is signed by the real-life Gidget!!! 😀

The story was inspired by Kathy Kohner’s own surfing adventures in Malibu. Her father took her stories, fictionalized them, and wrote this book in 6 weeks! This is actually the first book in the series. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to read the rest :/ (I can’t find them in any bookstore!)

A quick, easy, summer read! Read the books, watch the movies and tv show! 🙂

Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between) by Lauren Graham

I listened to the audiobook which was narrated by Lauren Graham herself. Which I absolutely loved! Her happy go-lucky personality really shines through.

In her memoir, she takes the reader through each season of Gilmore Girls. With tidbits on her fashion choices, and other behinds the scenes stuff. The part that got me was when she talked about the ending of the show. Apparently no one knew with any degree of certainty that the show would be cancelled so when the show wrapped up the seventh season, she left. Not knowing that it would be years before she would get to go back. 

What I particularly enjoyed was when she discussed the renewal. Because boy do I have opinions about the revival. And Graham does a wonderful job of conveying her own confusion with the revival’s finale. (Those damn 4 words ya’ll!). But we also get to see how emotional she is to be back on the set. I got a little teary-eyed myself. 

One thing to keep in mind if you go with the audiobook. Lauren Graham frequently refers to photographs. (OverDrive wouldn’t let me download the supplementary stuff). So a quick peek at the physical book before or afterwards would be a good idea. 

Overall, an enjoyable listen. I laughed, I got a little sad, but it was nice to see Stars Hollow through the eyes of someone who spent quite a lot of time there. Lauren Graham, is funny, witty, and she really does talk fast haha. It’s a relatively short memoir and one I would recommend to all Gilmore Girls and Parenthood fans.

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

Picked this book up because it’s by Lauren Graham and she mentioned how it came to fruition in her memoir. 

Franny Banks is an aspiring theater actress living in New York in the 90’s. She has a deadline. A deadline to ascertain whether she continues trying to pursue acting or takes a different career path. She fumbles, she mildly succeeds but she keeps trying, and manages to keep her happy go-lucky attitude through most of it. 

It’s not the best book but it is entertaining. And as someone who has seen Gilmore Girls multiple times, I could see elements of the show within the book. Some of the character quirks and personalities seemed oddly familiar. But it is a good look at the entertainment world from someone who has lived it. It also parallels Franny and Zooey, which I didn’t realize. Yet another book I apparently need to reread. 

Well, that concludes today’s mini-reviews. Until next time. Happy blogging everyone! 🙂

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Let’s get straight to it. I didn’t like this book. I listened to the audiobook, which was read by Anthony Heald, and I hated every second. (Not his fault, the story was awful).

The basic premise is interesting. Captain Ahab is obsessed with finding the whale responsible for the loss of his leg. He puts together a crew to help him hunt the elusive white whale, Moby-Dick. Ishmael, one of the shipmates, narrates the story. But there is so much boring detail! It’s waaay over 500 pages, and at least 80% of the book is about the ship and whaling industries. 80%!! I fell asleep so many damn times. My poor ears are bleeding from all the dullness. 

The other 20% I did like. It’s about Ishmael and how he ended up on the ship. About the adventures the crew experiences while out at sea. Now, that was well done. I liked those parts. And this nugget of wisdom made me laugh:

Better to sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunk Christian

I know there is a broader theme about the evils of revenge and all that. But, I don’t know. I didn’t think Captain Ahab was crazy. Then again, I zoned out quite a number of times so there’s probably a lot I missed. And no, I didn’t go back and listen to those parts again. I’m not that big of a masochist.

Overall Feeling:

Fun Fact: Starbucks (yes, the coffee chain), got its name from one of the shipmates in this book. Apparently at one point Pequod (the ship’s name), was considered. I did have a hankering for coffee while I was listening. Would’ve been useful, to be honest. I see what you did there, Starbucks 😉

2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Challenge update: 31/40(*50)

Prompt: a book set at sea

Mini Reviews: The Year of Secret Assignments / Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Two YA books I recently finished that I would absolutely recommend to anyone looking for a nice, summer read. 

The Year of Secret Assignments (Ashbury/Brookfield #2) by Jaclyn Moriarty

Also Known As: “Finding Cassie Crazy”

​Cassie, Lydia and Emily are best friends and attend Ashbury, a private school in Australia. As part of their English class assignment, they write a letter to someone at their problematic rival school, Brookfield. Matthew, Sebastian and Charlie, are the boys that write back. Through their letters, notes, emails, etc., we get to know each character.
I was confused for a quick second in the beginning. Page 1. I didn’t realize Lydia was writing in a kind of self-help book and not taking it seriously. Once I got over my initial confusion, I was able to engage with the story. And what a lovely story it is.

The girl’s each have a distinct personality that is visible in their letters. I loved their loyalty to one another. How they rally around one another when problems occur. There is absolutely zero drama between them. It is a real, and honest friendship.

There is some romance. It is a YA after all. But it’s not perfect. When is it ever, in real life? It’s sweet though. Because they get to know each other through their letters first before meeting in person. 

A smile was permanently plastered on my face throughout this read. It is the second book in a series, something I didn’t realize when I bought it (See: Book Haul #1). It works great as a standalone though. As I was able to understand everything going on without having read any of the other books in the series.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Is it possible to fall in love with a book? Because I think I just did. This is such a beautiful coming of age story. It was simple, yet so profound. 

When I saw that the audiobook was narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda I knew I had to bump this book all the way up my TBR. Absolutely no regrets. I enjoyed listening to this book. And I enjoyed the irony of Ari not wanting to know anything about Alexander Hamilton haha 😉

Aristotle and Dante meet one summer and quickly become friends. They hang out, they fight, they grow and they love. And their parents are actually loving people. Something so incredibly rare in YA novels. 

An incredibly refreshing read that doesn’t fall into all of the usual YA tropes. Ari and Dante are Mexican-American! Do you know how incredibly rare it is to find Latino representation in YA novels? Let alone 2 protagonists? And they’re gay? What?! Unfathomable! 

This is an important read. That’s for sure. I think it addresses machismo in a subtle way. I am in awe. 

Can’t wait for book #2!! 😀 Meanwhile, I’m going to go listen to La Bamba. Love that song too, Ari! 

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

My feelings are ambivalent. At times I disliked this book. At others, I thought it was an okay read. Sigh.

Tiffany, the protagonist, is a writer for a women’s magazine in New York, months away from getting married to her dream guy, Luke Harrison. Through alternating flashback chapters, the reader discovers that Tiffany experienced tremendous traumatic events in high school. Now those events are being revisited and Tiffany has to face what happened so many years ago. Those events have molded her into the woman she has become. And that woman is my problem with this novel.

Early on, it’s hinted that something tragic happened to Tiffany. But because it was teased out for so long, I grew to loathe Tiffany. Grown up Tiffany. 14 year old Tiffany was actually a bit endearing. The things that she went through. Jesus. Awful doesn’t even begin to cover what happened to that girl. It doesn’t justify her becoming such a dreadful person. Well seemingly dreadful. I was sympathetic towards her though. And the ending did make me hopeful. Because the real her emerges. 

I listened to the audio book version of this novel. The reading was fantastic! It was exactly the way I would imagine Tiffany to speak. Which probably didn’t help me like her any better, now that I think about it. 

I didn’t love this book. At times I wasn’t even sure I liked it. It wasn’t the writing. (It was great). Again, it was Tiffany. I will say that one of the traumas Tiffany experiences caught me off guard. Sort of. I thought it was heading in that direction and I seriously hoped it wasn’t. Young Tiffany and the ending may have redeemed my feelings towards this book. It was an okay read, I guess. 

2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Reading Challenge update: 22/40(*50)

Prompt: A book with an ugly cover

I am over the black rose covers. *shrugs*