Odd and Bookish
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! 

 

 

Review
5 Stars
You Think It, I'll Say It - Curtis Sittenfeld

 

 

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

 

This collection of short stories was so amazing! 

 

I’ve only ever read Curtis Sittenfeld’s novel, Prep. I read that a long time ago (like around 10 years ago) but I do remember that I enjoyed it. I’ve never read any of her short stories so I did not know what to expect. 

 

I was blown away by how good ALL the stories were. Usually with short story collections, there will be some stories I liked and some that I didn’t. But with this collection I can honestly say that I liked them all. I was trying to decide which one was my favorite, but after much debating, I just couldn’t pick one! 

 

Subject-wise, all the stories were very current. A lot of them dealt with motherhood and marriage. 

 

I really liked how the book came full circle. The very first story mentioned the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump and the last story mentioned the election of Donald Trump. That connection gave the book a sense of closure, which you don’t really see in short story collections.

 

Curtis Sittenfeld’s writing style is phenomenal. She writes with such an ease that makes it all seem so effortless. She is truly a talented writer. 

 

Overall, if you are looking for a quality short story collection, then definitely pick this book up! 

Reading progress update: I've read 63 out of 368 pages.
Above the Star - Alexis Marie Chute
Reading progress update: I've read 123 out of 226 pages.
You Think It, I'll Say It - Curtis Sittenfeld
Review
2 Stars
Who Are You, Trudy Herman? - B.E. Beck

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

 

I wanted to like this book, but I had a lot of issues with it. 

 

First off, it took me a while to get into the book. It didn’t really engage me until Trudy and her family got sent to the internment camp. That’s when things finally started to get interesting.

 

I did appreciate that the book focused on German American internment because I didn’t know anything about that prior to reading this book. It was nice to learn more about that.

 

As for the actual story itself, it was really lackluster. Quite a few things happened, but nothing was ever really developed to its full potential. Everything felt really glossed over; there was no depth to the events. I felt like the book was trying to make some sort of point about injustices, but never really got there.

 

At one point in the book, Trudy’s class learns about Japanese internment which I felt was a little inaccurate. I’m skeptical that internment would have been a part of the curriculum. That part of the story took place in 1948 in Mississippi. I really don’t think they would have been talking about internment at that time, especially in place that was shown to be segregated and very hostile to blacks. 

 

The ending of the book was so rushed. Something major happened and then it was resolved in like 10 pages and then just ended. There was no closure for a lot of the other little storylines in the book. 

 

Lastly, I can’t stand the cover. It’s a very poorly chosen stock photo. The fence part is fine, because that is a part of the story. But I have major issues with the girl. This book takes place in the 1940’s and the girl looks like she’s from modern times. I could probably buy the shirt she’s wearing from a mall store. 

 

Overall, this book had so much potential, but ultimately failed in its execution. 

 

 

Review
3.5 Stars
The Girls' Guide to Conquering Life: How to Ace an Interview, Change a Tire, Talk to a Guy, and 97 Other Skills You Need to Thrive - Erica Catherman, Jonathan Catherman

I received this book for free from the publisher (Revell Books Nonfiction) in exchange for an honest review. 

 

I was super excited to read this book because next month I will be moving and living on my own, and I could surely use all the help and advice I can get! 

 

I think the book is aimed towards high school girls, and maybe early college girls. As someone who is starting law school, this book probably wasn’t meant for me. Nevertheless, I did find some of it useful. But when it came down to it, some parts of the book worked and some parts didn’t.

 

Some of the how-to’s weren’t that helpful. Quite a few of them were no-duh instructions. For example, How To Fill Out An application was pretty much common sense. The first couple of sections had a lot of how-to’s like that. 

 

I found the later sections to be more helpful, particularly the ones pertaining to driving, cooking, and repairs. Those were more relevant to my needs. 

 

It is worth noting that since this comes from a Christian publisher, the dating section was very heteronormative. Aside from that, there wasn’t anything that was Christian specific. There was nothing about God or praying or anything along those lines. 

 

Overall, this is a good guidebook for teens, and depending on your needs, college-aged women. 

Reading progress update: I've read 64 out of 294 pages.
Who Are You, Trudy Herman? - B.E. Beck
Reading progress update: I've read 169 out of 304 pages.
The Girls' Guide to Conquering Life: How to Ace an Interview, Change a Tire, Talk to a Guy, and 97 Other Skills You Need to Thrive - Erica Catherman, Jonathan Catherman
Review
5 Stars
Would You Rather?  - Katie Heaney

 

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

 

It wasn’t until I actually read the blurb on the back that I realized that this was written by the girl who wrote Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date. I had really wanted to read that book and even marked it as such on Goodreads, but I never did get around to reading it. I’m glad that I was able to read this book because it does touch upon some of the themes that Never Had I Ever covered.

 

So basically, I loved this book. I loved it because I related so much to it. I’m not a lesbian, so I couldn’t relate to her coming out but I did relate to a bunch of other stuff. I related to the fact that she was single until her late twenties (I’m currently 23 and still  perpetually single). I related to her anxiety, especially when it came to googling medical symptoms and convincing yourself that you have some grave condition (I’ve done that many times). I related to her obsessive bed making. Pretty much I felt like I was a lot like Katie. I saw a lot of myself in her.

 

What really made the book so fantastic, was the writing. It was so conversational. It felt like she was talking to you. Every essay was clear, to the point, and a lot of fun. 

 

I also really liked the balance between the fun and the serious. There were a lot of quirky anecdotes, but also a lot of introspection.

 

Overall, this was a very touching and relatable memoir. 

 

Review
4 Stars
First Impressions: A Contemporary Retelling of Pride and Prejudice  - Debra White Smith

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

 

I had actually just finished reading Pride and Prejudice before starting this book so everything was still fresh in my mind. 

 

As a retelling this was pretty spot on. There was even a list of the cast of characters and their Pride and Prejudice counterparts at the beginning of the book. Personality-Wise, the characters stayed true to their Pride and Prejudice version. Linda (Lydia in P&P) was very flirtatious, Mary Boswick (Mrs. Bennet in P&P) was very silly in her views, etc. For the most part, the storyline followed Pride and Prejudice very closely. Many of the original plot points were included. Overall, the storyline was translated to modern times very well. 

 

I liked how the book showed you multiple points of view (Eddi, Dave and Linda’s). I particularly enjoyed hearing Dave’s thoughts throughout the novel. 

 

I also loved that since the characters in the book were putting on their production of Pride and Prejudice at their community theatre, there were lines from Pride and Prejudice in this book. 

 

This book is Christian fiction, so some of the characters’ viewpoints lean towards that. But I wouldn’t say it was an overwhelmingly Christian book. 

 

All in all, this was a fun retelling of a classic story.