Odd and Bookish
Review
4 Stars
Mammoth - Jill Baguchinsky

 

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Turner Publishing) in exchange for an honest review. 

 

This was a super fun and cute read! 

 

I loved the unique point of view. A plus sized fashion blogger who loves paleontology is something we don’t see often. I enjoyed reading her view point and seeing the world through her eyes. It was a unique perspective that I found refreshing.  

 

I enjoyed the little Look of the Day pictures and blog posts that are mixed in at the beginning of some chapters. They were cute and added a nice touch. 

 

I thought the romance was very adorable. I was happy with who she ended up with in the end. I was shipping them from the very beginning. 

 

The one thing I didn’t like was how annoying the main character, Natalie, got in the second half of the book. She started making one stupid decision after another. A lot of the problems she had were caused by making bad decisions and she would try to solve the problem by making more bad decisions. It ended up being a chain of bad decisions and it frustrated me. But aside from this, I still liked the plot overall. 

 

Overall, this was a unique young adult novel full of paleontology fun, a dash of funky fashion, and a sprinkle of romance.

Review
5 Stars
The War Outside - Monica Hesse

I received an ARC of this book for free from TheNovl in exchange for an honest review. Since I received an ARC, my quotes from the book are tentative. 

 

Last month I read a different YA novel about German American internment and was beyond disappointed by it. When I saw that TheNovl was offering a chance to read and review this book I jumped at the opportunity. Thankfully, The War Outside was a million times better than that other book I read.

 

This book was so heart wrenching and emotional. There was one incident towards the end that gave me chills and goosebumps. 

 

I loved the dual perspectives and how well the author put you into each girl’s shoes. I also enjoyed the author’s writing style. It flowed easily and sucked you into the story. 

 

I’m glad that the book showed both Japanese American and German American internment. I particularly liked that it discussed how being called the enemy was different for each group. At one point Haruko tells Margot, “I’m so sorry…that your father had to wake up and realize that you had become the enemy overnight. But a least you didn’t have to wake up and realize that other Americans had thought of you as an enemy all along” (148). She then explains, “the reason this imprisonment is hard to Margot’s father is because they didn’t know yet that this country was unfair…The West Coast Japanese had already given the government their shortwave radios, and they had already agreed to their curfew, eight PM to six AM, but it wasn’t enough, it was never enough. It was so easy for the government make those rules. You can’t hate someone all of a sudden. It takes practice. It takes a long time” (148). This is an idea that Margot revisits later in the book when imagining what it would be like to go back home to Iowa. She ponders, “Haruko was right the first time we talked. It was not like with the Japanese. where entire communities went away. With us it was like a scalpel: a German here, a German there, while the rest of the town went about their business” (207). These quotes showcase the idea of how we are not  free in America until we’re all free. Everyone’s freedom is in jeopardy if one group loses theirs. 

 

The ending was…WOW. It was one of the best endings I’ve read in a while. It left you thinking about all that happened between the girls and the motives behind their actions.  

 

I liked that the author included a note at the end about the history behind the story. It is evident that she did a lot of research and tried to make it as accurate as possible.  

 

Overall, this was an amazing and powerful novel whose ending will leave you questioning it all. 

Review
5 Stars
Anna Undreaming - Thomas Welsh

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

I haven’t read much urban fantasy before so I had no idea what to expect going in, but I ended up loving this book. 

 

This book gave me a ton of Alice in Wonderland vibes especially in the second half, which I was totally digging since I love Alice in Wonderland. The book had the same dream-like quality and mad characters that Alice in Wonderland has.

 

The premise of the book was so creative. People with the ability to build new worlds is such a fascinating concept.

 

The whole book was absolutely stunning in terms of execution. Welsh writes brilliantly and through his prose crafts a gorgeous world. 

 

My favorite character was Elise. She was just so fun and quirky and I loved that about her. I hope we get to see more of her in the following books. 

 

As someone who majored in philosophy in college, I enjoyed the philosophy references throughout the book. Rousseau, Nietzsche, and Camus were all mentioned by name.

 

The glossary at the end of the book was tremendously helpful in learning about the their world. I used it numerous times while reading. 

 

The one thing this book was missing was a map. I would have loved to seen a map of The Realm. 

 

Overall, this was a fantastic start to a magical new trilogy! I can’t wait to find out what happens next and learn more about these characters. 

Reading progress update: I've read 159 out of 368 pages.
Anna Undreaming - Thomas Welsh
Review
5 Stars
Sweet Black Waves - Kristina Perez

I received this book for free as part of BookSparks’ YA Summer Reading Challenge.

 

Omg this was so amazing! I don’t know why people aren’t talking about this book. This could have totally been one of those super hyped YA books. 

 

This is a retelling of the popular Tristan and Iseult myth, which I have to admit, I’ve never even heard of. So going into this book I didn’t have any expectations about the retelling aspect since I knew nothing about the story. I went into the book completely blind as to what might happen. I wanted to be completely surprised by it. 

 

What I got was a roller coaster of a story. This book took me on a wild ride and I loved every second of it. It was beautiful yet tragic.

 

For some reason, the book reminded me a lot of the CW show, Reign. The mood and atmosphere were somewhat similar, but mainly the sense of duty that Branwen had to her land reminded me a lot of the women on that show. 

 

 

I loved the blend of fantasy and royalty. It was a very ethereal combination.

 

The writing style is wonderful. Kristina Perez spins a beautifully written tale that is just as magical as the story itself. 

 

Since this is the first book in a trilogy, a lot of this book was set up, but it was still very enjoyable to read. I still found it to be very exciting and I was throughly engaged the entire time. 

 

I loved the notes that the author included at the end about the language used and the source material. You can tell a lot of research went into writing this book so I appreciate that. The author even included a glossary and a list of the characters which made reading this book so easy. There is also a map but I had an ARC so mine didn’t have it but I’ve seen it in a preview and the map is gorgeous. 

 

Overall, I was blown away by this book and will definitely be continuing the trilogy. If you’re looking for a new spellbinding YA fantasy series, then read this! 

Reading progress update: I've read 337 out of 448 pages.
Sweet Black Waves - Kristina Perez
Reading progress update: I've read 142 out of 448 pages.
Sweet Black Waves - Kristina Perez
Review
3 Stars
Disco Sour - Giuseppe Porcaro

 

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

 

So this was an interesting book. I’m not quite sure I “got” it. I’m American and I felt like I would have understood and appreciated the political side of it better if I was from Europe. I’m just not that familiar with how everything works over there. 

 

The book does raise some fascinating ideas about the future, especially the intersection of politics and technology (“Tinder-politics”). I enjoyed that exploration. 

 

I did like the parts that didn’t have to do with politics such as his nightmare of a journey to the conference. That was loads of fun to read. I also liked the parts about his ex Janine. 

 

The one big issue I had was that I found the ending to be too rushed. Everting just ended super quickly. I would have liked to seen it drawn out more. As a whole, I felt like the book could have been at least 50 pages longer. That way the whole thing could have been developed a bit more. The book seemed to end just when things were really getting interesting. 

 

Overall, this was a promising debut novel and I am eager to see what else this author publishes in the future. He certainly has a very creative and innovative mind! 

Review
3.5 Stars
Campaign Widows - Aimee Agresti

I received this book for free from the publisher (Harlequin) as part of their bookstagram publicity campaign. 

 

 

This book and I got off to a rocky start. In the beginning, I had a hard time connecting with the book and the characters. I typically get sucked into chick lit, but I didn’t with this one. To me, it felt a bit like fan fiction in the beginning. It kind of felt like I was reading someone’s fantasy election season. Like the 2016 election was so bad that they just created their own.

 

Once I hit the halfway mark, things got a whole lot better. The story finally seemed to be picking up and I was able to connect more with the characters. The friendship between the widows also started to blossom at this point and that’s when the book actually started to work for me. However, their friendship never reached its full potential. I would loved to have seen more of them together. A lot of the times two or three of them would be hanging out but not all four of them. 

 

Out of all the widows, I loved Cady and her storyline the most. She had the most development and was really the glue that brought everyone together. 

 

As much as I loved Cady, my favorite character was Parker. I loved his sense of humor and his bar was such a genius idea. 

 

Overall, this was your average chick lit novel, just with an election backdrop.

Review
5 Stars
When the Beat Drops - Anna Hecker

I received this book for free as part of BookSparks’ YA Summer Reading Challenge.

 

Going into this book, I didn’t have very high expectations. I thought it was just going to be an average contemporary YA summer read. Instead, this book blew me away.

 

The way the author describes music is incredible. From the very beginning you could just feel the passion that the main character, Mira, has for jazz music, and then later on for DJing. Prior to reading this book, I never thought of DJing as being that beautiful. But after reading this, I’m never going to look at it the same way. I have a newfound respect for it. 

 

I liked that this book didn’t shy away from the drug aspect of rave culture. That was a huge part of the story and it highlighted the reality of it very well. 

 

 

I also enjoyed Mira and Britt’s sisterly relationship and the journey they went through together. A large chunk of the book is focused on them going to these music festivals and how they cope with the devastating tragedy that happens at one of them.

 

Character-wise, I loved Shay! She was hands down my favorite character. I was actually shipping her and Mira after they first met, even though I knew (based on the blurb) that was probably not going to happen. 

 

Another aspect of this book that I loved was the secrets that some of the characters had. They were all revealed at the right time and it just made the story click. 

 

Overall, this is an impressive novel that was realistic and hit all the right notes! 

Review
5 Stars
Boardwalk Summer - Meredith Jaeger

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review as part of a TLC Book Tour.

 

I absolutely loved everything about this book! 

 

I was so excited to read this because it takes place in Santa Cruz, California. I just so happen to live in nearby San Jose (which is mentioned in passing a few times in the book) and have been to Santa Cruz and the boardwalk myself. It was really cool reading about a place that I was familiar with. The beach boardwalk was the place for end of the field trips while I was in school. Whenever the Giant Dipper or the carousel was mentioned, I got exited and  was like, I’ve been on that! 

 

This book has dual storylines: Violet’s story which takes place in 1940 and Mari’s story which takes place in 2007. I found both stories to be very compelling and I liked how they were connected. Usually when it comes to dual storylines, I’ll end up liking one story more than the other, but with this book, I loved them both! 

 

 

I was so happy to see that Mari was Mexican American. It gave the book a realness that was refreshing. There are a lot of Mexican Americans in the Bay Area so it was nice to see that representation. 

 

The whole tearing down the gazebo and building condos storyline in Mari’s part was so accurate. That happens so much in the Bay Area especially since the Silicon Valley tech boom. Developers are constantly trying to tear down things that have been here forever in order to build stuff the city doesn’t even need. I could relate to Mari’s opposition to it so much! 

 

As for Violet and her storyline, I enjoyed how it portrayed the reality of Hollywood. It showed both the glamour and the grime of it. It especially important now because of the #MeToo movement. 

 

Overall if you’re looking for a California beach read, then look no further, this book is for you! And from a local perspective, this was spot on!

Reading progress update: I've read 223 out of 384 pages.
Boardwalk Summer - Meredith Jaeger
Review
4.5 Stars
The Liars' Asylum - Gilbert Allen;Terry Dubow;Valerie Fioravanti;M.S. Allen;Jacob M. Appel;Kathleen Toomey Jabs;Tom Juvik;Amina Gautier;Nick Healy

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

 

 

This is the fifth collection of short stories that I have read from this author and I have loved all of them. It’s no surprise that I loved this one too. 

 

The first two or three stories were good but didn’t wow me, but the rest of them did. The stories just kept getting better and better. 

 

My personal favorites were “Prisoners of the Multiverse,” “Picklocks in Oblivion,” “The Summer of Interrogatory Subversion,” and “When Love Was an Angel’s Kidney.” 

 

In case you’re not familiar with Jacob M. Appel’s work, he writes the most unique short stories and novels you’ll ever read. He has numerous graduate degrees including a JD, an MD, an MFA in creative writing, an MPhil, and an MS in bioethics so that’s probably why. A lot of his stories pull from those backgrounds. He’s an incredibly talented writer and it shows throughout all his work, especially his short stories. 

 

Overall, if you haven’t read any of Jacob’s work, you definitely should consider reading this collection (or any of his other collections). You won’t be disappointed. 

Review
3 Stars
1968: Today's Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution, and Change - Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Marc Aronson

I received this book for free through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers. 

 

1968 was a fascinating year. This book was not. 

 

I was really looking forward to reading this book because I wanted to learn more about this pivotal year in history. So many important events happened in that year and I was hoping to find some interesting insight into them. Unfortunately, the book left much to be desired.

 

The book consists of essays from different authors. None of the essays resonated with me. I kept waiting for one to really hit me, but it never happened. Even the ones about the topics I was especially interested in (ex. Kennedy assassination and Mexico City Olympics), didn’t leave much of an impression on me. 

 

There were a few things I liked. One was that the last essay did provide a conclusion to the book. Sometimes with nonfiction books, there’s no wrap up at the end when I feel like there should be one. Luckily, this book did provide some closure.

 

I also liked the Nightly News segment at the beginning of each section. Those were one of the more interesting pieces to read. 

 

Lastly, the parallels the book made comparing 1968 to 2018 were very interesting and thought provoking.

 

Overall, the book provides a good baseline to the events of 1968, but ultimately did not manage to do it in an engaging way. 

Review
5 Stars
Falling for You - Becky Wade

I received this book for free from the Bethany House Blogger Review Program in exchange for an honest review.

 

Full disclaimer, I did not read the first book in this series, which is about Willow’s sister, Nora, but that did not affect my comprehension of the book whatsoever. You could read this book as a standalone if you wanted to and still be able to fully enjoy it. I actually kind of want to read the first book now because Nora is in this book. It turns out she’s a nerdy librarian and so that fact alone just makes me want to read her book.

 

Overall, this was a really sweet romance novel! 

 

I loved Willow and Corbin’s love story. I loved how they were a couple in the past, but lost their way, and then found each other again. Their romance was incredibly well developed. Nothing felt rushed. Plus, I thought they made a very cute couple. 

 

I also really enjoyed the Josephine mystery. It added that something special to the book. There was a nice balance of the love story and the mystery story. The mystery didn’t overpower the book. Instead it complemented the existing romantic storyline.

 

This is Christian fiction so there are Christian aspects in the book. There was talk of religion, like God and the Bible, but it was done in the right amount and wasn’t too preachy. I’m not super religious so sometimes I find it to be a bit too much for me. With this book, I thought it was very well done, especially towards the end. I liked how inspirational it got. 

 

All in all, this was a cute Christian romance novel with a little bit of mystery thrown in. 

Review
3.5 Stars
Above the Star - Alexis Marie Chute

I received this book for free from the publisher (SparkPress) as part of a promotional blogger unboxing campaign. 

 

 

This is probably the most unique book I have read so far this year. 

 

Up until I got about halfway through the book I thought it was weird. It was odd and bizarre, kind of in a Roald Dahl way, but stranger. It took me a while to get used to it and the world. I’ve never encountered a world quite like this one before, so there was definitely a learning curve. 

 

One thing that really threw me for a loop early on was the amount of death in this book. I wasn’t expecting there to be so much of it and for it to be somewhat gruesome. 

 

But once I got used to the peculiarities of the book, I started to really enjoy it. This book follows the typical quest storyline, but it was still a lot of fun. 

 

As for the characters, it was interesting to see a grandfather as a main character in YA book. You don’t see that too often. I think my favorite character was Lady Sophia. She was a supporting character but she was so funny! 

 

I also really liked the illustrations in the book. There is a hand drawn map of the world and various sketches that the character, Ella, draws dispersed throughout the novel. 

 

The glossary at the end was a nice touch. It was super helpful in figuring out how the world worked. 

 

Even though it took me a while to get into it, I’m really excited for the rest of the books in this trilogy! 

 

 

currently reading

Progress: 45/312pages
The Fashion Intruder - Roma E. Black
Shelter of the Most High - Connilyn Cossette