Book Review: Since You’ve Been Gone

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson.

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Summary:

It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger? Um…

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane’s list. Who knows what she’ll find? 

Go skinny-dipping? Wait…What? 

My Thoughts: 

I’ll admit that when I first picked up this book, I was skeptical about whether or not I would like it because some of Morgan Matson’s books have been pretty hit-or-miss with me. However, Since You’ve Been Gone has changed my mind – I LOVED IT!

At first I struggled to get into it because I was going through a minor reading slump when I started it, but once I got past the 100-page mark I flew through it! I loved the concept of the list of “challenges” that Emily has to complete – although I hated how Sloane just ditched her.

I enjoyed getting to know Emily and her family – I loved watching her grow as a person while the list. I also liked how in some ways she starts to find autonomy a part from Sloane. Then there is Frank Porter…he is such a cute character and I love him, he is an adorable cinnamon roll and I wish there were some actual guys like this in reality!

I also enjoyed getting to know Dawn and Collins and seeing how they, along with Frank, try  to help Emily on her quest. I liked Sloane, however I also disliked her because of how she basically drops out of Emily’s life without saying goodbye, but  the explanation that is given for this makes sense.

I really liked the playlists that appear throughout the book are awesome – I wish there were more. And I also liked how each chapter jumps back to the past to explain certain items on the list, or even just certain things that happen in the present day.

I really loved it, and it made me want to pick up her latest release, Save the Date, right away. 5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

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Book Review: Once and For All

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on Once and For All by Sarah Dessen.

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Summary: 

As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen’s thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself

My Thoughts: 

Sarah Dessen has a way of making readers feel all the feels in almost all of her books and Once and For All was no exception.

I like how we, along with Ambrose, were kept in the dark about Louna is so cynical when it comes to true love – the reason made sense and was very fitting with today’s current events and when it is revealed it is hard not to cry!

I liked all of the characters, although I found Louna to be a bit too mopey at times, although it did make sense. Ambrose was also interesting, although his way of trying to win Louna is ridiculous. I also enjoyed the side characters: Natalie (Louna’s mom) and William and their whole wedding planning business.

As I mentioned before, Sarah Dessen has a way of writing books that have readers tear up at some point, and there was scene towards the end of the book that had me in tears because of the build up to it, and Dessen makes the reader think that something similar happens to Ambrose that happened to Louna’s first love.

This was a good contemporary read that has  a lot of perfect fluffy moments, but yet still has scenes that are tear-jerkers, which is a perfect reminder that life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, and that bad things do happen. 3.5/ 5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: From Twinkle, With Love

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon.

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Synopsis: 

 Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.

My Thoughts: 

Even though I liked When Dimple Met Rishi, I enjoyed this one a lot better, especially the ending. I loved getting to know Twinkle and how the format of this book is setup like her diary (I am a sucker for books like this). I also liked how her entries are written to different female movie directors that she looks up to. I  also loved how this read as  a good classic romantic comedy and it is the perfect summer read.

Sahil is the typical (but still awesome) hero of this rom-com. I loved how he was always trying to push Twinkle to be the best she could be, while also letting her figure out stuff on her own.

It was also interesting to see that in order to truly grow as a character, Twinkle had to become her worst self and realize that she had to change. It was also interesting to see all the different family dynamics that take place in the novel: Sahil and his inferiority to his twin brother Neil; Twinkle and her grandma, Twinkle and her parents who seem disinterested in her life. I also liked how it dealt with friendships and relationships in general: Maddie and Twinkle; Maddie and Hannah; Twinkle, Victoria and Francesca. I also liked how it dealt with some of the issues that people that immigrants face when they leave their home countries behind.

I am looking forward to seeing what Sandhya Menon writes text. 4.5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Fat Girl on the Plane

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on Fat Girl on a Plane  by Kelly deVos.

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Synopsis:

Fat.

High school senior Cookie Vonn’s post-graduation dreams include getting out of Phoenix, attending Parsons and becoming the next great fashion designer. But in the world of fashion, being fat is a cardinal sin. It doesn’t help that she’s constantly compared to her supermodel mother—and named after a dessert.

Thanks to her job at a fashion blog, Cookie scores a trip to New York to pitch her portfolio and appeal for a scholarship, but her plans are put on standby when she’s declared too fat to fly. Forced to turn to her BFF for cash, Cookie buys a second seat on the plane. She arrives in the city to find that she’s been replaced by the boss’s daughter, a girl who’s everything she’s not—ultrathin and superrich. Bowing to society’s pressure, she vows to lose weight, get out of the friend zone with her crush, and put her life on track.

Skinny.

Cookie expected sunshine and rainbows, but nothing about her new life is turning out like she planned. When the fashion designer of the moment offers her what she’s always wanted—an opportunity to live and study in New York—she finds herself in a world full of people more interested in putting women down than dressing them up. Her designs make waves, but her real dream of creating great clothes for people of all sizes seems to grow more distant by the day.

Will she realize that she’s always had the power to make her own dreams come true?

My Thoughts: 

Before I get started with my thoughts I am grateful to have received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

This year there seems to be quite a few novels dealing with weight and body-positivity for teens, which I think is great! However, I honestly didn’t read through the synopsis thoroughly so I found the events that unfolded to be a surprise, which I guess is a good thing.

I found it weird that there were two story lines – the past when Cookie was fat and when she is skinny in the present. I liked how it explored some of the misguided reasons for losing weight. I liked how Cookie discovered that life doesn’t become all sunshine and roses when she is skinny.

In some ways I found “fat” Cookie to be relatable especially with the emotions she goes through when she starts her journey. I loved watching her pursue her dreams in fashion and comes to realize that no matter what size she is, it is still a cut-throat industry.

I hated her relationship with Gareth Miller, especially since she was 19 and he was 35…it was just weird – I found this to be one of the pitfalls of the novel. I also wanted to love Tommy, her ex-best friend and crush, but he kept messing up and was just an idiot.

I loved her grandma, her parents were just awful. I loved her best friend Piper and how she deals with Cookie and her antics.

I liked the ending although I wish there was more resolution with her parents. And I also wish there were not quite as many F-bombs. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Katie in Waiting

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on Katie in Waiting by Erynn Mangum.

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Synopsis: 

Katie McCoy has spent her whole life waiting for the right guy and he isn’t coming. After relocating to Carrington Springs, Missouri, Katie finds herself getting more and more frustrated. Can’t God see that she’s trying her best to meet someone? Doesn’t He care that she’s lonely? What is she doing that is making Him not bless her with this? With two new friends, Eliza and Ashten, by her side, Katie starts to realize that maybe God has bigger plans for her life than she could have ever imagined.

My Thoughts: 

There were so many jokes that were said in this novel that I feel like explain me to a “T”! Some of the things that Katie goes through, such has having become stagnant in her walk with the Lord is something that I myself have struggled with myself.

I liked how even though there was a possibility of romance it still ended up with Katie coming to terms with her singleness and finding contentment with the Lord. I also enjoyed getting to know Eliza and Ashten and I can’t wait to read each of their stories very soon. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Love Amid the Ashes

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on Love Amid the Ashes by Mesu Andrews.

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Synopsis: 

Readers often think of Job sitting on the ash heap, his life in shambles. But how did he get there? What was Job’s life like before tragedy struck? What did he think as his world came crashing down around him? And what was life like after God restored his wealth, health, and family? Through painstaking research and a writer’s creative mind, Mesu Andrews weaves an emotional and stirring account of this well-known story told through the eyes of the women who loved him. Drawing together the account of Job with those of Esau’s tribe and Jacob’s daughter Dinah, Love Amid the Ashes breathes life, romance, and passion into the classic biblical story of suffering and steadfast faith.
My Thoughts: 
I really enjoyed this book. It was interesting to see how Andrews combined two pieces of biblical history together into a work of fiction. She puts together Job and Dinah, Jacob’s daughter who’s brothers killed an entire city for her honor. It definitely provided some insights into that text that I never thought of before. Plus, recalling a couple of lectures I listened to from Dr. Chou,  professor at my alma mater, mentioned that Job was a descendant of Abraham.
I liked how this book was a constant reminder of God’s love and mercy and how when we are truly repentant He forgives us, as in the case of Dinah, and even Job. I also enjoyed the reminder of how once we have confessed our sin and asked for forgiveness, we need to let go of the past and move on, which is something I struggle with.
I loved getting to know Dinah and Job besides just what is written in Scripture, even if it is just fiction. I also liked how Job’s affliction was given a human dimension, which is also possible. I enjoyed watching Sitis’ (Job’s wife) redemption through the novel, I also enjyoed getting to know Aban, Elihi, and Neghlahu. The one character that I’m not sure I liked the direction the author took was Jacob, I felt like he came across as bitter and harsh towards Dinah.
I loved the author’s note explaining why she did what she did with the characters and attempting to tell Job’s story in fiction. I had also just finished reading Genesis when I read this and I loved seeing a possibility of what happened beyond the text, even though it was fictional.
Overall I loved that this book was that it dealt with not just romantic love, but also God’s love amidst the trials of life. 4/5 Stars.
Happy Reading,
Janelle L. C.

June Wrap-up

Hello Everyone!

Welcome to my June Wrap-up! I know my blog posts lately haven’t been the greatest but I am trying to change that, once again I am sorry for the half finished posts that have appeared here in the last couple of months, but from now on I am going to make sure all my posts are complete before I schedule them. On that note, here are the books that I read in June:

1. Remember by Karen Kingsbury with Gary Smalley 

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I enjoyed re-reading this one. It is definitely a tear-jerker! Longer review to come. 4/5 Stars.

2. Assassination Classroom Volume 6: Swim Time by Yusei Matsui 

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A good continuation of plot. I am only 6 volumes in and I excited to see where the rest of the series goes from here. 3.5/5 Stars.

3. The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross

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This was an okay read. I felt like a lot of the action happened too quickly and I kept having to flip back to find out what I missed. 3/5 Stars.

4. In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It by Lauren Graham 

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This was a good, quick read based on the speech that Lauren Graham gave to the 2017 graduating class at her old high school. She gives good advice and it is perfect for anyone who has just graduated from high school or college, as well as anyone who is starting a new job or starting a new stage of life. 5/5 Stars.

5. Assassination Classroom Volume 7 by Yusei Matsui 

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Another great installment in the series. 3.5/5 Stars.

6. The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay 

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This was an okay read. I highly recommend it for Jane Austen fans who are looking for a light contemporary read. Longer review to come. 3/5 Stars.

7. Assassination Classroom Volume 8:  Time for an Opportunity by Yusei Matsui 

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A good continuation of the story, however I found  a couple of the villains introduced in this story to be very weird. 3/5 Stars.

8. Return by Karen Kingsbury with Gary Smalley 

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This was a good book, but it didn’t seem to hold my attention as much as the other two, however I am enjoying my reread of the series. 3/5 Stars.

9. Assassination Classroom Volume 9: A Shocking Time by Yusei Matsui 

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Enjoyed this volume a lot better than the last one. I also like that we got some of the back story on several of the minor characters. 3.5/5 Stars.

10. Assassination Classroom Volume 10: Time for Robbery by Yusei Matsui 

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The story keeps getting better and better. 4/5 Stars.

11. Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy #1 by Chynna Clugston Flores 

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A somewhat decent introduction to this crossover series. 3/5 Stars.

12. Assassination Classroom Volume 11: Time for Sports Day by Yusei Matsui 

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A good continuation of the story, seemed to take a more slice of life approach in this volume. 3.5/5 Stars.

13. Lumberjanes/ Gotham Academy #2 by Chynna Clugston Flores 

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The plot starts to thicken. 3.5/5 Stars.

14. Lumberjanes/ Gotham Academy #3 by Chynna Clugston Flores 

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The story just keeps getting better! 4/5 Stars.

15. Lumberjanes/ Gotham Academy #4 by Chynna Clugston Flores

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Good. 4/5 Stars.

16. Lumberjanes/ Gotham Academy #5 by Chynna Clugston Flores

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Some good action in this one. I was sad to see it end in the next installment. 4/5 Stars.

17. Lumberjanes/ Gotham Academy #6 by Chynna Clugston Flores 

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A good conclusion to the series. 4/5 Stars.

18. Lumberjanes Issue #1  by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson

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Great introduction to the series! 4/5 Stars.

19. Lumberjanes Issue #2 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson 

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Good! 3/5 Stars.

20. Lumberjanes Issue #3 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson 

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Good! 3/5 Stars.

21. Lumberjanes Issue #4 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson 

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The plot thickens in this installment! 4/5 Stars.

22. Rejoice by Karen Kingsbury with Gary Smalley 

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Another great installment in this series! I am glad I have decided to revisit it after 6 year. 4/5 Stars.

23. Lumberjanes Issue #5 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson 

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Good! 3/5 Stars.

24. Lumberjanes Issue #6 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson 

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The story keeps getting better! 4/5 Stars.

25. Lumberjanes Issue #7 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson 

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Good! 3/5 Stars.

26. Lumberjanes Issue #8 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson 

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Good! 3/5 Stars.

27. Goldie Vance Issue #1 by Hope Larsen

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This was a good introduction to this comic series. I am looking forward to following Goldie Vance on more of her adventures! 3/5 Stars.

28. Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

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This was a good contemporary read, however there was a long build up to the actual plot and it only seemed to take up 100 pages of the book. But Sarah Dessen is good at writing tear-jerker scenes, especially one scene towards the end that really got me! I highly recommend this for anyone who is looking for a light, but heavy, YA contemporary to read this summer. 3.5/5 Stars.

29. Lumberjanes Issue #9 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson

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I enjoyed the different “scary” stories that the Lumberjanes tells in this issue! 4/5 Stars.

30. Lumberjanes Issue #10 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson 

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Loved this introduction to the new story arc in this series. 4/5 Stars.

31. Reunion by Karen Kingsbury with Gary Smalley

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The conclusion to the first series in the overarching Baxter Family Drama series (there are currently 6 series in the saga!). This one was a tear-jerker! It was good, but it was hard to get through at the same time. 4/5 Stars.

32. Lumberjanes Issue #11 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson 

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Good! 3/5 Stars.

33. Fame by Karen Kingsbury

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Always a good time catching up with the Baxter family and I love the new characters that readers will get to know throughout the Firstborn series.

34. Lumberjanes Issue #12 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson 

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Good! 3/5 Stars.

35. Lumberjanes Issue #13 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson 

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Good! 3/5 Stars.

36. Lumberjanes Issue #14 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson 

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Good! 3/5 Stars.

37. Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West 

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This was a cute, contemporary read and it is perfect for summer! 4/5 Stars.

DNF’d 

Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi 

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Even though I have been looking forward to this book for months, I just couldn’t get into it. I might try reading it again in a few months.

And those are all the books I read in June!

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

 

 

2018 Bookish Goals

Hello Everyone!

Today’s post is all about my bookish goals for 2018. I don’t have many goals, but the ones I did set are ones that I think I can achieve over the course of the year. Here are my goals:

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1. Read 52 Books 

I set it my Goodreads goal for 52 books because even though I want to read everything in sight, I also want to slow down and enjoy what I read! Last year I read a lot, but I honestly can’t remember what half of them were about.

2. Complete the Around in 52 Books 2018 Challenge.

I attempted to do this challenge last year, and even though I was only a couple books short of completing it, this year I want to make more of an effort to complete all 52 challenges. If you would like to see what the challenges are for this year, check out my blog post all about it!

3. Complete the Beat the Backlist Challenge. 

If you would like to find out more about the Beat the Backlist challenge, check out my blog post from a couple of days ago where I talk more about it. I am going to attempt to read 20 books that were published before 2018 throughout the year, I might be able to read more, but right now I feel like this is the most attainable goal.

4. Read my Bible every day. 

One of my goals last year was to read through the Bible in a year, however I completely slacked off on this for most of 2017. However, this year I am determined to stick to a plan and do it for the whole year!

5. Write a review for every book I read (long or short). 

The only exception to this rule is going to be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows because I haven’t done a review for the rest of the series. But every other book is going to get a review this year, it just might take a while for it to go live on the blog.

6. Post consistently on my blog. 

The second half of 2017 was somewhat disastrous posting wise because I didn’t really have much of a schedule and I would take several weeks off at time. However, this year I am planning on posting three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday), with a few extra posts on a Saturday. There will also be certain times (like the first two weeks of January) where I will be posting five days a week just to keep up with all the content I want to post this year!

7. Post consistently on Instagram. 

Over the past several months my Instagram account has primarily been a Bookstagram account (apart from several personal posts) and I am looking forward to uploading more Bookstagram photos. My plan is to try and upload a photo every day (at least for this month), and to just be consistent with it.

8. Try to gain 100 followers for my blog. 

9. Try a genre I wouldn’t normally read. 

For this goal I am thinking of trying out either Thriller or Horror, but nothing to scary. I am thinking of picking up either The Shining or Carrie by Stephen King in order to complete this goal.

10. Try different kinds of content on my blog. 

I am still working on what exactly this is going to be, but I am looking forward to sharing some of the ideas I have with all of you soon.

And those are my goals for 2018! What are some of your bookish goals for the year?

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

P.S. If you haven’t done so already, don’t forget to click the blue “Follow” button. You can also follow me on my other social media profiles: Twitter (@Jlc0904Janelle), Instagram (@jazzyjan101), GoodReads, and The Meanderings of a Bookworm Facebook page! 🙂

The Name Change

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Hello everyone!

It has been about a week since I moved from Blogger to WordPress, and The Scribbler became Meanderings of a Bookworm.

The reason for the change is that I felt like it was time to give my blog a makeover and I was finding it difficult to use Blogger in more innovative ways to improve my blog. I had heard in the past that WordPress was better than Blogger, however I wanted to do my own thing and refused to accept it. But since I felt that a change was needed on my blog I decided to check it out and see whether or not I wanted to use it as the new home of my blog.

After spending a few hours of playing around with WordPress, I discovered that it was easier to use and make changes than on Blogger. I also decided that if I changed to WordPress then maybe it was time to change the name as well; for a while I have been wanting to change for a while.

I also felt like a change was necessary since I started The Scribbler back when I had just finished my senior of high school and two years later I decided to turn it into a book blog. However, now that I have graduated from college and I am a little bit older I also wanted my blog to reflect the changes I have been going through.

For those of you who read The Scribbler, welcome to Meanderings of a Bookworm and I hope you enjoy the content of this blog as much as you enjoyed the old blog! To my new readers, welcome! I hope you enjoy my ramblings about books and anything book related! 🙂

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

P.S. Don’t forget to follow the blog and like the Facebook page. You can also follow me on Twitter (@Jlc0904Janelle) and Instagram (@jazzyjan101).

Book Review: The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.

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I had heard that The Complete Persepolis  was a good graphic novel for those who are interested in finding out more about life in the Middle East during the Islamic Revolution. It has also been a frequently challenged book for supposedly being politically, socially and racially offensive. This intrigued me even more because it is an own voices graphic novels that is depicting recounting real experiences that the other went through.

The Complete Persepolis is an autobiographical graphic novel that depicts author Marjane Satrapi’s life from adolescence to early twenties. It is a collection of comic strips that tell the story of her life in Iran at the beginning of the Islamic Revolution in the early 1980s and the affect it had on her and her family, especially as it started to get more oppressive and other Middle Eastern took advantage of this unrest by declaring war on Iran. It also shows her parents struggling with the decision to send her away to Europe to get an education that is better than what she would get in her home country. The second part of this graphic novel depicts Marjane’s life in France as a teenager and how she had to fight against prejudice, discover love, as well as the drug culture that was readily available to her. It also shows her eventual return to Iran and how different it is, and even how it is more oppressive than what she is used to, especially towards women.

Persepolis was an interesting read. The art style is beautiful, as well as most of the story, however there are few things that I personally, and others, might find a bit of put off, for instance when Marjane talks to God and he talks back to her, some might find this blasphemous, however this was probably used to show her innocent faith before she becomes jaded due to the events that are happening around her. Another concern that some readers will have is the depiction of drug use during the latter part of the graphic novel, again it might be uncomfortable, but it is used to show how the author tried to occupy her time with various things, especially when she was away from her family during her time in Europe.

However, despite those two concerns, it is a beautiful graphic novel that is heartbreaking to read from beginning to end, especially when readers are introduced to various friends an family members that ended up killed either in war or for the ideologies that went against the Islamic Revolution regime. It will also make readers thankful for the freedoms that we have in the Western world, compared those who do live in countries where it is very limited what women can do. One part that was very interesting was the section where the author is in an art class at university and they have to draw models, but yet the model is covered from head to toe so that they cannot make out the shape of her body. It was also interesting to see how various relationships between men and women were (are) frowned upon and that how the fundamentalist Muslims harshly treat those who are “in sin.”

One major theme that many readers will appreciate is the author’s depiction of the discrepicies between men and women, and how men tended to have more freedom, but women were constantly seen as temptresses, even for small things such as having their hair exposed or even wearing pants with wide legs! It’s mind-boggling and I can’t imagine even begin to imagine the difficulties of living in such a society.

Another major theme is woven throughout Persepolis is the importance of family and how much her parents love Marjane, even when she disappoints them or makes decisions that puts her life in danger. The also try to encourage freedom within their own home, but yet they also stress the importance of following the rules of society when outside the home. It was also interesting to see them make the hard decision to send her away to school in Europe so that she could receive a better, and more freeing, education than she would in Tehran.

The Complete Persepolis should be definite read for those who are interested in finding out more about the Islamic Revolution. I also recommend it for fans of Khaleed Hoseini (author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns) who has also written several books set during the Islamic Revolution of the 1980s and 1990s. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: My Oxford Year by Julie Whelan

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on My Oxford Year by Julie Whelan.

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I chose My Oxford Year because it has been getting a lot of buzz in the BookTube and Bookstagram community, and it sounded interesting. Also, who hasn’t dreamed about having the opportunity to study at Oxford University?

Ella Durran is an American graduate student who wins the Rhodes scholarship and gets to live out her dream of studying at Oxford University for a year. As she arrives in England, she also finds out that she has been asked to help with the campaign of a presidential candidate, and that she will possibly have a job when she arrives back in the U.S.

Also on her first day in Oxford she has a run-in with a man who almost knocks her down with his car, and later that same day spills sauce on her shirt and is not apologetic for his actions. Ella never wants to see him again, until she gets to her first class and discovers that he is her professor – Jamie Davenport. What starts as a relationship of animosity, soon turns into something more and sparks start to fly. They come to care for each other, even though they know that Ella will be leaving at the end of the year, however she uncovers a secret about Jamie that could possible change both of their lives forever.

My Oxford Year  has a good meet cute between the main couple that in some ways points to the obvious relationship that happens between the two of them. Although some readers will find it frustrating that they would not admit their feelings for one another until later on in their relationship.

However, the main characters of the novel will be a selling point to most readers, especially Jamie Davenport who is, at best, a swoon-worthy character that most people dream of. He is also aggravting, especially when he forces Ella to share the story of her dad’s death, forcing her to be vulnerable, but yet he turns around and asks her for a month off from their pseudo-relationship, allowing her to think the worst of him. It was also enjoyable to see Ella grow as a character and eventually come to the realization at the end that what she wants for the future, is very different from what she had originally planned, and that a life of politics was not her dream. My one complaint of her character is that she does not treat her mother well, in fact she comes across as an awful daughter. Whelan tries to make us sympathetic towards her reactionary responses to her mother, but that still doesn’t make them right. Another relationship that will interest readers is the one between Jamie and William, who also seem at odds with each other, and the eventual discovery as to why their relationship is strained. It is definitely worth the wait to find out what happened.

There are also many side characters who are charming and add some elements of humor to the story that is needed and appreciated at just the right moments. However, Tom and Maggie’s relationship was frustrating, but it is a small blip in an otherwise decent narrative.

My Oxford Year has a good story that most readers will enjoy, however some readers will find the ending to be too poetic, vague and abrupt. They will be left with questions as to what happens to the main characters after the ending and they will be frustrated when those answers are not answered. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Redemption

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on Redemption by Karen Kingsbury.

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Synopsis: 

The Redemption series won “Christian Retailing”’s 2005 Retailer’s Choice Award for Best Series! When Kari Baxter Jacobs finds out that her husband is involved in an adulterous relationship and wants a divorce, she decides she will love him and remain faithful to her marriage at all costs. This book shows how God can redeem seemingly hopeless relationships, and it illustrates one of Gary Smalley’s key messages: Love is a decision. “Redemption” is the first book in the five-book Redemption series that Gary and Karen will write about the Baxter family—their fears and desires, their strengths and weaknesses, their losses and victories. Each book will explore key relationship themes as well as the larger theme of redemption, both in characters’ spiritual lives and in their relationships. Each book includes study questions for individual and small-group use as well as a “teaser” chapter of the next book in the series

My Thoughts: 

This is probably my 4th or 5th reread of this book. I also forgot how weighty these books can be, but I still love this series. This book deals with the widely discussed topic adultery and divorce in Christian circles.

I liked how the authors showed Kari as someone who is willing to fight for her marriage, even though her husband, Tim, refused to – they could have really easily just had her concede to the divorce and run to the arms of her old flame.

Even though it deals with some serious topics, it was still an enjoyable read. I also liked all the different perspectives from Kari, Tim, Angela (the other woman), Pastor Mark Atterbury, Ryan, John and Elizabeth Baxter, ass well as a couple of others – it gave the story more depth and dimension.

It was great to revisit these beloved characters especially with the T.V. show coming out later this year based on the series. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: All the Ever Afters

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller

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All the Ever Afters follows Agnes who is born into poverty and is forced to go work as a laundry girl at Aviceford Manor. She faces cruelty from other servants and discovers that the lord of the manor is a drunkard who is seemingly out of touch with the running of his estate. Several years later she has an opportunity to become a servant at Ellis Abbey, where she starts to feel like she might finally have a chance to escape her destiny. However, the horrible Abbess Elfilda scoffs at her plans to become a nun, and Agnes finds solace in the abbess’s ward, Fernan. Through a cruel twist of fate she is forced to leave the abbey, and eventually ends up back at Aviceford Manor to be a nurse maid to Sir Emont’s daughter, Elfilda (nicknamed Ella). However, she soon rises above her place as servant and marries her lord and becomes Ella’s stepmother.

There are several reasons why I chose this book, one of the main ones being that the cover is gorgeous! It definitely drew me in and made me want to find out more about this book. Then there is the subtitle, “the untold story of Cinderella’s stepmother”, that also piqued my interest, especially since I haven’t read anything that tells her side of the story. I was curious to see how the author tried to “redeem” the stepmother as not the villain that she has been known as for several hundred years and if it is even possible to have a Cinderella story if the stepmother isn’t evil.

All the Ever Afters ended up being somewhat different from what I had been expecting, I honestly expected it to be an origin of the wicked stepmother but she is still evil. However, this book provides a new take on the wicked stepmother that I had not seen before. The story starts out with the stepmother being asked if the rumors and gossip are true about her and her daughters in regards to how Cinderella came to be married to the prince (the traditional story of Cinderella is presented as mere court gossip that is spread around). Once hearing some of the ridiculous statements that are being said about her, she sets out to write her own story from the beginning to the “present day.”

The stepmother’s name is Agnes and she is a kind and strong woman who stands for what is just, even it means that others view her as harsh. Everything she does is result of the cruelty she faced as a young girl, and even that of Fernan her lover. She also discovers that the world is no place for a widow, however she does get a chance to gain employment back at Aviceford Manor.

Agnes also strives to make a living for herself by learning how to brew ale and reopening the alehouse that she lives in. Even when she goes back to Aviceford Manor, though she is a nursemaid, she proves that she has a mind for business and becomes a confidant of Sir Emont. I also loved watching her relationship with Ella, she truly loves her stepdaughter, even though she does resort to seemingly “harsh” punishments when she acts out of line, however she only does so to make sure that her stepdaughter does not grow up to be a spoiled brat.

This brings me to another aspect of the story that I liked. Ella is presented as a young woman who is given everything she wants by her father, whereas her stepmother tries to stop him from doing so because she knows that it can lead to selfishness. Instead of the virtuous Cinderella that everyone knows, we meet a girl who is unsure of herself, and is sheltered and spoiled.

Then there are the two stepsisters, traditionally they have been known as ugly because of their character, however Danielle Teller paints them as kind girls who are physically ugly due to their father being a foreigner and both of them suffering through either a burn or chicken pox, which left them scarred.

I do wish more attention had been paid to the prince and that we had learned more about him besides the fact that he was considered to be a rake. However, since the story is told from Agnes’s point of view it makes sense that we do not gain more insight into his true character.

As far as pacing goes, I felt like it started out slow, but then it started to pick up and I found that I had a hard time putting it down. I think that is a good read for anyone who wants a different story of Cinderella, especially from the point of view of the character that has been painted as evil for as long as the original tale has existed. However, if you are looking for a wicked stepmother who is justified in her villainous deeds, this is not the book for you. Instead it paints a picture of woman who does have faults, but she is also a good woman whose actions are sometimes misunderstood.

I do feel like the story of Cinderella and the prince meeting was rushed and I felt like more could have been written on their initial meeting and his pursuit of finding the woman he loves. However, I also see why Teller chose to not include this in her novel because it would detract from the stepmother’s story. I also liked the ending, however I do wish the stepsisters, Charlotte and Matilda had happier endings, but I guess it is enough that they lived a peaceful life after leaving Cinderella’s court.

Another aspect of the novel that I appreciated was the attention to different parts of the medieval kingdom, especially to how manors were run. The world is painted as being both whimsical, but also cruel to those who are not fortunate enough to rise above poverty. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

September Wrap-up

Hello Everyone!

Welcome to my September Wrap-up. Here are the books I read this month:

1. All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller 

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An interesting take on Cinderella’s stepmother. Longer review coming soon. 4/5 Stars.

2. Take Two by Karen Kingsbury 

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An interesting installment in the series. There were a couple of things that bugged me in it. 3/5 Stars.

3. Cottage by the Sea by Debbie Macomber 

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Debbie Macomber doesn’t disappoint in her latest offering. I loved reading about this small town by the ocean which provides healing to several characters. Longer review to come. 3/5 Stars.

4. A Heart Full of Hope by Robin Jones Gunn

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Always good to reread this series. Another good installment in this series. 3.5/5 Stars

5.My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan 

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A novel that partially fulfills many people’s dream, however there was some content that bugged me. 3/5 Stars.

6. The Complete Persepolis by Marjari Sartarpi 

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An interesting graphic novel that depicts life in Iran when the Islamic Revolution breaks out. Beautifully told, although there were a few things that didn’t settle well with me. 4/5 Stars.

7. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline 

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Reread this for a class, listened to the audiobook. Review coming soon. 3.5/5Stars.

8.  The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

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An interesting read written during the Cold War when bio-weapons were more of a concern. Longer review coming soon. 3/5 Stars.

9. Take Three by Karen Kingsbury 

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A good installment in the series that deals with some tough subjects like abortion. 3.75/5 Stars.

10. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

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Another reread this month. I love The Princess Bride and I will have a longer review up soon. 4/5 Stars.

11. The Readers’ Advisory Handbook edited by Jessica E. Moyer and Kaite Mediatore Stover 

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Read for a class, very insightful on how to provide good Reader’s Advisory to people.

12. A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell

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I don’t really read thrillers but decided to read this after watching the trailer. Wasn’t good as I was expecting. 2.5/5 Stars.

13. True Friends by Robin Jones Gunn

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Another good installment in the Christy Miller series. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

 

 

October TBR

Hello Everyone!

It’s that time for another TBR. I know this last month I have been kind of failing on the book review front, and I am going to try to be better, but my classes and life are kind of kicking my butt right now! But I do have some good posts coming in October that you all might like. So stay tuned for those.

I might have mentioned in my last TBR or Wrap-up that for the next few months I am going to be focusing on reading mainly “adult” fiction because I have to read 35 “adult” fiction books for one of my classes (thankfully I get to choose most of them!). So here are some of the books I am planning on reading in the month of October:

1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaeffer and Annie Barrows

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2. The Waking Land by Callie Bates 

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3. Legacy of Mercy by Lynn Austin

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4. The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

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5. Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts

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6. The Shape of Water by Guillermo Del Toro and Daniel Kraus 

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Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: A Thousand Beginnings and Endings

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh and

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Since this is an anthology, I am going to do a review of each story and then give a quick overall review at the end.

Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi 

This story was inspired by Filipino Folklore and was a beautiful, lyrical tale about a mountain goddess who falls in love with a mortal and the complications that happen with that. I really felt that this was a strong start to the collection, even though I found the beginning a little bit confusing. 3.75/5 Stars

 
Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong 
Inspired by Chinese culture and folklore, this was also an interesting story, although not as good as the previous one. It is about a woman who serves food to ghosts once a year in a small town in Arizona in order to appease them. I did like how the author took this tradition and made it her own by referring to her mixed-race heritage (Chinese-America) and set it in Arizona which according to the author’s note was known to attract a lot of Chinese settlers. 3/5 Stars
Steel Skin by Lori M. Lee (Hmong) 
This was an interesting story set in the future. I like how the author explains the whole story that this is based after and how she went about making it her own, because it is a very interesting twist on it. 3/5 Stars
Still Star-crossed by Sona Charaipotra (Punjabi) 
This story was confusing until I read the author’s note about the myth is based after. It is kind of like a Punjabi version of Romeo and Juliet, except where Juliet is the main character and Romeo is a ghost (?) and thinks that her daughter is his long lost love. 3.5/5 stars
The Counting of Vermillion Beads by Aliette De Bodard (Vietanamese) 
This was a weird story that I never fully understood and I kept having to go back and read what I had read before. It had good ending, but it was too confusing, even after reading the author’s explanation about what inspired it. 2.5/5 Stars.
 
The Land of the Morning Calm by E. C. Myers (Korean) 
An interesting story where the main character visits the after life in the form a computer game that her mother used to play. I liked the concept and feel like it should have been longer to further explain certain things in the story. It was also hard to keep track pf when the story was in the past or the present. 3.75/5 Stars
The Smile by Aisha Saeed (South Asian) 
This was yet another interesting story in the collection, I liked how it kind of touched on how oppressive South Asian culture could be historically. 4/5 Stars.
Girls Who Twirl and Other Dangers by Preeti Chhibber (Gujarati) 
I liked learning a little bit more about a Hindu festival that I have never heard of before (Navrati) and how the story of why it is celebrated has some parallels to the main characters revenge plot in the present day. However, it also seemed drawn out at points. 3.5/5 Stars
Nothing into All by Renee Ahdieh (Korean)
I really enjoyed this story and how it read like a fairy tale. I also liked how Renee Ahdieh changed the original tale up a little bit to make it her own. I wish I could read more about what happened after the end of this story. 4/5 Stars.
Spear Carrier by Rahul Kanakia (South Asian) 
This was a weird story, and it was only towards the end that I kind of understood what was going on. However, it wasn’t until I got to the end that I realized it was a take on the events that happen in the Mahabharata (from which we get the Bhagavad Gita) and the author taking a look at why someone would or would not fight with Krishna and Arjuna. 2.5/5 Stars.
Code of Honor by Melissa de la Cruz (Filipino) 
This story was short and simple. Unlike some of the previous stories I easily understood this story. It is about a lone vampire who is trying to find a coven of vampires that is rumored to be in New York City. 3/5 Stars.
Bullet, Butterfly by Elise Chapman (Chinese) 
This was an interesting story that really needed more world-building in order to help readers understand more of what was going on. I felt like I was just thrown into the middle of a world a barely started understanding when I got to the end. I did find it interesting that this was based on a Chinese folktale that is similar to Romeo and Juliet. 3/5 Stars

Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar (South Asian) 
An interesting combination of two South Asian stories taken from Mahabharata told with magical realism. Again, this was hard to follow at first and it is definitely something that needed more than 30 pages in order for the reader to understand it. 3/5 Stars.
The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon (Chinese) 
For some reason I never wrote a review for this story when I finished reading it, but I do remember that I liked it. 3/5 Stars.
Eyes Like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa (Japanese)
The same thing that happened with The Crimson Cloak happened with this one, I can’t remember much of this story but I liked it. 3/5 Stars.
Overall: 
I really liked this anthology, definitely one of the better ones that I have read. I enjoyed most of the stories in this collection. All of these authors were new to me, and they are ones that I definitely plan on reading more of their works. I also appreciated the authors’ notes at the end of each story because it helped me understand some of the stories a bit better. I liked how each of these represented a different facet of the East Asian cultures that they represent. Definitely worth the read! 4/5 Stars.
Happy Reading,
Janelle L. C.

 

Book Review: Eliza and Her Monsters

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia.

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Summary:

Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart. 

My Thoughts: 

I’ll admit that it took me a while to get into this book, but I really enjoyed it. It was cute and heartbreaking at the same time. I also loved the webcomics and I wish there was a graphic novel available of them (if there is, let me know!)

Eliza was an interesting characters, especially since she is someone who is struggles with anxiety and depression and how she finds an escape in her web comic, Monsterous Sea. Wallace was another great character, especially when we find out more about his tragic past and seeing how similar he is to Eliza.

It was sad to see how out of touch Eliza’s parents were, they might have meant well, but not really, they never seem to be considerate of her and her issues.

There were also several good quotes that I underlined in the novel:

“Truth is the worst monster because it never really goes away” (p.286). 

“But motivation doesn’t come from nowhere. Like any good monster, you have to feed it” (p.375). 

It was interesting to see how Eliza copes with her secret being let out in the open, in the end she does the right thing.

Even though I did enjoy it, I also feel like this book has been overhyped by a lot of people. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

 

Book Review: Listen to Your Heart

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West.

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Summary:

Talking to other people isn’t Kate Bailey’s favorite activity. She’d much rather be out on the lake, soaking up the solitude and sunshine. So when her best friend, Alana, convinces Kate to join their high school’s podcast, Kate is not expecting to be chosen as the host. Now she’ll have to answer calls and give advice on the air? Impossible.

But to Kate’s surprise, she turns out to be pretty good at the hosting gig. Then the podcast gets in a call from an anonymous guy, asking for advice about his unnamed crush. Kate is pretty sure that the caller is gorgeous Diego Martinez, and even surer that the girl in question is Alana. Kate is excited for her friend … until Kate herself starts to develop feelings for Diego. Suddenly, Kate finds that while doling out wisdom to others may be easy, asking for help is tougher than it looks, and following your own advice is even harder.

Kasie West’s adorable story of secrets, love, and friendship is sure to win over hearts everywhere. 

My Thoughts: 

Ever since I read By Your Side last year, Kasie West has become a favorite contemporary author to me. I’ve read all of her latest books and have enjoyed them. Listen to Your Heart was cute and I love how the main character, Kate, was pushed out of her comfort zone by being a host of a podcast. She really comes to enjoy being a host once she get the the hang of giving advice. I also love how passionate she is about the marina, where she lives, and how she just wants to be out on the water all the time.

Then there is Diego, he is sweet and kind, and the object of Kate’s best friend Alana’s affections. I loved watching his interactions with Kate while she was trying to push him toward Alana.

I also liked the seemingly Romeo and Juliet-esque story that almost ensue, and I am very happy that it didn’t!

This was just a sweet, clean, fluffy, YA contemporary novel that is the perfect read for summer. And I can’t believe I have to wait until next year for another Kasie West book to come out, but that also gives be a chance to finally catch up on everything she wrote before By Your Side. 3.75/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

August Wrap-up

Hello Everyone!

Welcome to my August Wrap-up! I managed to read 20 books this last month, however most of them were pretty average, only a few of them were really fantastic. Here are the books I read this month:

1. Save the Date by Morgan Matson

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A cute contemporary following a seemingly perfect family and a wedding where almost everything goes wrong. I also loved the comic strips and I wish there had been more. 4/5 Stars.

2. The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo 

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I did not like the main character at first, but I grew to like her as the novel progressed and she started to grow as a character. 3/5 Stars.

3. Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka 

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A cute contemporary that revolves around a performance of Romeo and Juliet. I am looking forward to seeing what this duo publishes next. 3/5 Stars.

4. Sunrise by Karen Kingsbury 

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As always, an enjoyable time rereading this book. I loved watching all the characters grow . It is a good, light read, perfect to take on vacation. 3/5 Stars.

5. Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly 

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I really liked this take on an adventure Belle could’ve gone on during her stay at the Beast’s castle. It was interesting and I flew through it. However, I did find that I had to not think to much about the movie and certain things that happen before and after that make this not quite fit in. But it was still a great read! 3.75/5 Stars.

6. Katy by Jacqueline Wilson

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This was an okay book, there were aspects that I liked and others that I didn’t, mainly that it took 200 pages to get to the main plot of the story. 3/5 Stars.

7. A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman

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An interesting collection of stories based on Asian folklore and myths. I enjoyed most of the stories and I am sad that it is over. 3.5/5 Stars.

8. Summer Promise by Robin Jones Gunn

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Another reread. I really enjoyed getting to know Christy and Todd in this very first book that they appear in and I can’t wait to read the rest of this series! 3.5/5 Stars.

9. Finding Felicity by Stacey Kade 

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It took me a while to get into it. I am also glad I watched the first few episodes of Felicity so that I understood most of the references and parallels that occurred in this novel! 3/5 Stars.

10.  A Whisper and A Wish by Robin Jones Gunn

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I enjoyed watching Christy navigate the new changes in her life. Also there is a character with the same name as me that is introduced, so that is always a bonus! 3.75/ 5 Stars.

11. Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

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It was okay. It was pitched to me as having You’ve Got Mail vibes but that was only at the very end, plus the synopsis basically spoils the ending so the shock factor is non-existent when the big “twist” is discovered. 3/5 Stars.

12. Summer by Karen Kingsbury

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I really enjoyed rereading Summer and it definitely brought tears to my eyes at the end, such a beautiful and heartbreaking story. 4/5 Stars.

13. Yours Forever by Robin Jones Gunn

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Another good reread that reminds me of some of the feelings I had in high school in regards to friends. It was interesting to read this again since I have been out of high school for almost six years. 3.75/5 Stars.

14. Someday by Karen Kingsbury 

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This was a rollercoaster ride of a book watching some beloved characters to go through some very hard things. I loved the theme of someday because I feel like it is something that a lot of us look forward to! 3.75/5 Stars.

15. Surprise Endings by Robin Jones Gunn

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A good installment in this series which teaches an important lesson: be willing to step aside so that others can do what the Lord wants them to do. 3.75/5 Stars.

16. Sunset by Karen Kingsbury

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A good conclusion to this particular series that brought some tears to my eyes. However, I know this is not the last time I’ll see the Baxters! 4/5 Stars.

17. The Ten, Make That Nine Habits of Very Organized People, Make That Ten by Steve Martin

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I liked reading these tweets, even though I expected a lot more humor. But reading some of these made me think of my brother because these are things he would probably tweet. 3/5 Stars.

18. The Radium Girls by Kate Moore 

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I flew through this! It was really good. A shocking expose about the dark side of corporate greed and the ignorance of radium. 5/5 Stars.

19. Island Dreamer by Robin Jones Gunn

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Interesting to read this after graduating college and seeing how I still relate to Christy in some ways. 3.75/5 Stars.

20. Take One by Karen Kingsbury 

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I liked this installment in the series, but it was a slow start for me. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.