Book Review: When We Collided

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When We Collided by Emery Lord

2.5/5

First of all, let me just say: I have read three books in five days and it’s such a rush! I read this one in one day, a sci-fi book the day before, and a graphic novel today. I also started reading Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore this morning and if I finish it on Monday, I may throw a party.

Okay, on to reviewing this book. The 2.5 stars means I was stuck between “it was okay” and “I liked it.” That pretty much sums up my opinion. I went into reading this book knowing that it would be a quick, light-hearted summer read. And it was, kind of. The story switches perspectives between Vivi and Noah, two high schoolers who have had their share of tragedy. It’s set in a fictional California beach town, Verona Cove. Vivi is there vacationing with her artist mother and Jonah is struggling under the weight of caring for his younger siblings after his father’s death and his mother’s subsequent depression.

Parts of the book that I liked: Love was not this all-consuming, soulmate thing. We love and we move on and we love again. Great stuff. Also, I found the beginning of Viv’s mental breakdown to be very realistic.

I just don’t know. Also, there were a lot of one-dimensional characters that I wished were more defined. The male protagonist, Jonah Daniels’ whole family were really interesting but we never got to know more about them besides one character trait each and that they were sad over their father’s death. Another issue was the set-up of plot-points. There is a point early on in the novel when Ivi purchases a type of motorcycle and you just know what’s going to happen, and of course, it does.

I guess this is my final thought: Vivi suffers from mental illness. (Spoiler alert because I don’t think the reader is meant to know one of these going in) Vivi has depression and is bipolar. And her not taking her medications starts her on a downward spiral and she is unkind to the people who love her. It is real and ugly and for the most part, Lord writes Vivi’s frantic actions and words and increasingly disconnected inner dialogue really well. But the overall presentation of the romance and the neat ending do not fit with the story of issues of mental health, and that’s what left me feeling less than thrilled with the book.

Book Review: Hot Dog Taste Test

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Hot Dog Taste Test by Lisa Hanawalt

Rating: 5/5 stars

Guys, read this graphic novel. I kid you not. Even if you’ve never read a graphic novel before. Especially if you’ve never read a graphic novel before. This book is funny, weird, completely over-the-top and filled with some real depth. Hanawalt focuses in on foodie culture (deconstructed food, perfectly edited Instagram shots of fancy breakfast foods) and our relationship to food (filling your shopping cart with healthy foods and wondering if people assume you’re super healthy and put together, a food diary that keeps track of how many chocolate-covered almonds you consume in a day). It’s freakin’ great social commentary that never feels preachy, only cutting and hilarious.

I’m going to include a few excerpt here so that you can get a feel for the book without me spoiling a bunch of great stuff. Check it out:

I received Hot Dog Taste Test in my monthly Landfall Freight subscription box, but you can get it over on Amazon. Please let me know if you read it because I don’t know anyone else who has!

Book Review: Heir of Fire

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4.5/5 stars

Sarah J. Maas consistently writes kick-ass female characters who are deep and real and flawed and powerful. Heir of Fire is the third book in her Throne of Glass series and it did not disappoint. This book was broken up into parts, with different characters in different locations being focused on in different chapters. I know that not everyone likes that style, but I think it was not only necessary here, but beautifully done. The world of Throne of Glass is so large and there are so many developed characters that we need to keep track of and that wouldn’t have been possible if we had simply followed the protagonist on her solo journey throughout the whole novel. Also, Sarah never does that “cliff-hanger-at-the end-of-the-chapter-oh-no-now-we’re-following-another-character-guess-you’ll-have-to-wait-fifty-pages-to-find-out-what-happened” thing. Which is great. Almost every time that there is a tense moment at the end of a chapter, the next chapter is in the same spot so we aren’t left hanging.

Another thing I have to touch on is the romance in Sarah’s books, which is particularly important to this installment. **Spoilers kinda** Sarah has characters date, sleep with,and love different people throughout her series and it is shown as a normal and healthy thing. Caelena, the main character of this series, sleeps with two men in the first novel. One relationship came to an end and then she begins another. Then, in book three, we see her beginning a relationship (I may be wrong here and they could be best friends in book four), and it’s okay. It doesn’t mean that the other relationships were bad and it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with Caelena. Caelena has grown and she wants different things now and that’s shown in who she has in her life and what she values and it’s such a refreshing thing to see. So many books have one person fall in love with one person and that’s it. Or books will have side characters sleep around because that’s not something a respectable protagonist would do.

Heir of Fire was filled with adventure and Caelena is **Spoilers** is dealing with her fae heritage and there is so SO much world building that is done fantastically. This book is filled with a lot more mythology than the first two and I really enjoyed that. I would recommend this series to anyone who likes sex positivity, fantasy and well-developed women.

July and August TBR List

Here we go again (I realize that I’m a bit late for July so I’m sharing my combined July and August TBR lists):

  1. When We Collided by Emery Lord (Illumicrate box)
  2. Hot Dog Taste Test by Lisa Hanawalt (Landfall Freight Box)
  3. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
  4. Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
  5. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
  6. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Wolf
  7. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  8. Captain America, Masculinity, and Violence: The Evolution of a National Icon by
  9. Whatever graphic novel Landfall Freight sends for July

I love reading, and I’m so thrilled because I’ve read two books in two days and it’s such an accomplishment. I would love to keep up the pace, but sometimes all a girl wants is to lie down and marathon some Buffy with her boyfriend. And that’s okay. But books are awesome and I have to try to read as many before I die.

Here are all the books I’m reading during the last week of July and all of August. I tried to keep the summaries spoiler-free and short.

When We Collided is a YA contemporary novel that follows to people who meet and fall in love over the course of a summer. It was book chosen for Illumicrate‘s last quarterly box and I’m excited to enjoy it this summer.

Hot Dog Taste Test is a graphic novel that pokes fun and rips apart pop culture and our current obsession with food and how to market ourselves in relation to food (ex. stylized photos on Instagram of our hip breakfast). Part screwball, part social commentary, all hilarious.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is a a contemporary novel about a bookstore during the Great Recession. I don’t know anything else and I’m kinda digging the no spoilers, so that’s all you get for now.

Wolf by Wolf is YA historical fiction/science fiction. It takes place in an alternate reality where the Axis and Imperial Japan rule the world and it follows Yael, a death camp survivor and her plan to kill Hitler.

An Ember in the Ashes is the first book in a planned trilogy. It is an epic YA fantasy novel that follows the female protagonist’s journey to save her brother in a tyrannical society.

A Room of One’s Own is an extended essay that argues for a literal and figurative space for women in literature. I read excerpts in high school and I’ve been feeling a need to complete it.

 

Jane Eyre is one of my favorite genres: a gothic romance.

Captain America, Masculinity, and Violence: The Evolution of a National Icon is a nonfiction book that analyses the every evolving Captain America and connects superhero traits to a shifting patriarchal view of what it is to be a man. I stumbled into this while hanging out at my boyfriend’s campus and I’m obsessed.

There is no fantasy on this list and that is killing me a little so I may read Queen of Shadows which is the latest book in Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series. Or Cindi Williams Chima’s The Demon King. Yes, reward lots of reading with fantasy. Sounds great.

(For those of you who haven’t been following along, I was an English major in college and so I read A LOT of classics and “important” books that I loved and then my first year out of college I read EVERY contemporary novel that was published that year, and now I’m obsessed with fantasy and sci-fi. I’m reading Asimov’s Foundations Series and Neil Stephenson, and every book Sarah J. Maas has wrote and this summer is my attempt to diversify my reading a bit).

Also, I haven’t been doing too well with actually reviewing the books. I’m either working or reading and I know I need to get better with that so I’m going to try. This Sunday I’m going to post a few reviews and I’m going to figure out how that will look. Stay tuned.

**Question** When I’m not reading I like to binge-watch a bunch of Netflix. I’m into genre shows at the moment. I just finished Stranger Things and I freakin’ loved it. Let me know if you’re watching it or any shows I should be watching.

 

Summer update

Hey guys. This weekend I’m going to be writing up reviews for the books I read in June and later today I will be announcing my July TBR. So the goal was to read 8 books in June, and I knew going in that that would be pushing myself. I did not read all 8 books, but, you know what? I’m really proud of how much I ended up getting through.

In June I completed 5/8 books. I would have loved to have read more, but I was working a lot of overtime and some nights I would fall asleep the moment I got home, and well, there went my reading time. Still. I think 5 books in one month is a great month of reading.

My internship is going well, but we’re ramping up our programs during the summer, so I’ve been very busy. I spent several days at my boyfriend’s parents house to celebrate the 4th of July and that was a great break. Also, I get to go visit my family for an entire week this coming Sunday and I’m stoked. So that’s what’s going on in my life right now. Ahh now to go adjust my July TBR list. I’m going to aim for 6 books this month (a more reasonable goal) and so a few books need to get kicked off the list and I need to figure out what to do with the three books I didn’t get to this month.