Publisher: Inkyard Press Release Date: October 8, 2019 Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Books about Books
From the moment she first learned to read, literary genius Darcy Wells has spent most of her time living in the worlds of her books. There, she can avoid the crushing reality of her mother’s hoarding and pretend her life is simply ordinary. But when a new property manager becomes more active in the upkeep of their apartment complex, the only home Darcy has ever known outside of her books suddenly hangs in the balance.
While Darcy is struggling to survive beneath the weight of her mother’s compulsive shopping, Asher Fleet, a former teen pilot with an unexpectedly shattered future, walks into the bookstore where she works…and straight into her heart. For the first time in her life, Darcy can’t seem to find the right words. Fairy tales are one thing, but real love makes her want to hide inside her carefully constructed ink-and-paper bomb shelter.
Still, after spending her whole life keeping people out, something about Asher makes Darcy want to open up. But securing her own happily-ever-after will mean she’ll need to stop hiding and start living her own truth—even if it’s messy.
Ahh, I loved this book about books. 🖤
The friendship between Darcy and her best friend Marisol made my heart soar—I love when books feature women who stand by each other and support one another through all of life’s messiness.
Darcy’s mom has a mental illness—she is a hoarder. I appreciated so much how this was represented throughout the book, and I appreciated even more that Darcy discussed how both she and her mom saw a therapist. If you want to learn more about hoarding, check out the Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s article on the basics.
I could ramble about this book for ages, but I went into not reading the synopsis, and I definitely recommend picking it up and diving in.
If you’re a lover of books, this one is for you.
“Holding a real book is like holding something alive. There’s the grit of the pages between your fingers as you turn them. The edges get soft and worn. With a real book, you feel the weight of the story more.”
“I’d learned more about life from books than my own mom.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura is a Cuban-American Californian who can be found haunting her favorite coffee shops, drooling over leather jackets, and wishing she was in London or Paris. She lives in San Diego with her husband and two superstar children.
This former teacher writes young adult novels about quirky teens learning to navigate life and love. Her debut, The Library of Lost Things, will be published from Inkyard Press/HarperCollins. Her #ownvoices sophomore project, A CUBAN GIRL’S GUIDE TO SWEATERS AND STARS is coming fall 2020 from Atheneum Simon and Schuster.
This young adult contemporary romance was a quick, enjoyable read—and I’m looking forward to checking out other books by this author.
Don’t miss my playlist inspired by the book + the giveaway at the end of this post!
Happy Messy Scary Love by Leah Konen
Publisher: Amulet Books Release Date: May 14, 2019 Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
As everyone at her Brooklyn high school announces their summer adventures, Olivia harbors a dirty secret: Her plan is to binge-watch horror movies and chat with her online friend, Elm. Olivia and Elm have never shared personal details, apart from their ages and the fact that Elm’s aunt is a low-budget horror filmmaker. Then Elm pushes Olivia to share her identity and sends her a selfie of his own. Olivia is shocked by how cute he is! In a moment of panic, assuming she and Elm will never meet in real life, she sends a photo of her gorgeous friend Katie. But things are about to get even more complicated when Olivia’s parents send her to the Catskills, and she runs into the one person she never thought she would see. This sweet and funny summertime romance is perfect for fans of Love and Gelato and The Unexpected Everything.
About the Author
Leah Konen is a graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied journalism and creative writing. She’s the author of the forthcoming Happy Messy Scary Love, Love and Other Train Wrecks, The Romantics, The Last Time We Were Us, and The After Girls. She lives in Brooklyn and Saugerties, NY with her husband and their dog, Farley.
This book gave me what I came for: sweet first love, horror film enthusiasts, romantic tension, and a hint of adventure.
However, I never suspended my sense of disbelief about the plot. I found the chance meet up too unrealistic, which the writing and build up could have amended. Though I enjoyed the book overall, I didn’t enjoy the characters. For those reasons, I gave the book 3 stars.
I would definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for a quick summer read! ☀️
Okay, reader friends. I’m so excited to share this post—another book’s blog tour! 😆
I was sent The Beauty of the Moment by Tanaz Bhathena in exchange for an honest review in collaboration with the Fantastic Flying Book Club, and let me just say: I honestly loved this book.
I feel so lucky that I’m a part of this tour because I don’t know if I would otherwise have picked up this book. Now I can’t wait to tell everyone to pick it up! 🖤
Plus, my partner Kelvin also chose this book for me to read this spring in a recent video on my BookTube channel, MY LOVE CHOOSES MY SPRING TBR. One book down, four more to go.👍🏻
Also, don’t miss the giveaway at the end of this post!
The Beauty of the Moment by Tanaz Bhathena
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux ReleaseDate: February 26, 2019 Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Susan is the new girl—she’s
sharp and driven, and strives to meet her parents’ expectations of
excellence. Malcolm is the bad boy—he started raising hell at age fifteen,
after his mom died of cancer, and has had a reputation ever since.
Susan’s parents are on the
verge of divorce. Malcolm’s dad is a known adulterer.
Susan hasn’t told anyone,
but she wants to be an artist. Malcolm doesn’t know what he wants—until he
Love is messy and families
are messier, but in spite of their burdens, Susan and Malcolm fall for each
other. The ways they drift apart and come back together are testaments to
family, culture, and being true to who you are.
About the Author
Tanaz Bhathena was born in India and raised in Saudi Arabia and Canada. Her critically acclaimed novel A Girl Like That was nominated for the 2019 OLA White Pine Award and named a Best Book of 2018 by The Globe and Mail, CBC, Quill & Quire, Seventeen, PopSugar, and The Times of India among others. Her second novel The Beauty of the Moment releases on Feb 26 2019. Her short stories have appeared in various journals including Blackbird, Witness and Room.
A wanderer at heart, Tanaz can often be found travelling to different countries, learning bits and pieces of a foreign language, and taking way too many photographs. She loves slapstick comedies and any kind of music that makes her dance. She lives in the Toronto area with her family.
So I read this book in a day. I fell for our main characters Susan and Malcolm, their struggles, their messy and complicated relationships with their family and friends, their hopes. Ugh. It all felt real and brought me back to my own high school experiences.
Still, though I may have been nervous to drive and fought with my parents and not had many friends and fell in love in high school, Susan Thomas’ life experience is so different from my own.
Susan immigrates from Saudi Arabia to Canada, and I still live in the same small town I grew up in. I never changed schools growing up let alone changed the country on my address.
But I was with Susan as she started her new school. I was with her when she talked to her first crush. I was with her when her friend Alisha back home began to grow distant in their calls. I was with her when her parents didn’t understand or support her dream of going to art school. Her heartbreak, her disappointments, her successes, her breakthroughs—I was with Susan every page of this book. I empathized for her, worried for her, cheered for her. Susan was such a likeable, endearing main character. 🖤
Through the course of the novel, Susan works through adjusting to a new culture while confronting stereotypes, ignorance, and her own loneliness. I especially appreciated the following passages:
“He talks about becoming Canadian like it’s a destination: a utopia of privilege that comes with a first world citizenship, a house instead of an apartment, two cars, and a dog in the backyard.”
“We didn’t go to school on camels, if that’s what you’re wondering…I always get that look from people when I tell them I lived there. Like I was living in some primitive magic-carpet land and not a cosmopolitan city with beaches and highways and malls a population of nearly three million.
“It does not matter that Malcolm and I share skin tones. Everything about him screams Canadian, from the way he speaks to the way he dresses to the self-assurance with which he walks. Malcolm belongs here as much as I don’t and probably never will.”
“I have been called too Saudi for India even though I don’t have a passport from the Kingdom, and too Indian for Saudi Arabia even though in my birth country I am treated like a foreigner. For the longest time, I thought I didn’t fit in anywhere. Even at Qala Academy, among other kids straddling lines between two different cultures, there were times I felt like an alien. But here, in this moment, I wonder if fitting in is important after all.”
Like Susan, I rooted for our other main character and love interest Malcolm. Both he and Susan have difficult home lives for different reasons. Malcom is still working through the death of his mother and the abuse of his father, and he is trying to change his reputation after turning to drugs and alcohol his junior year.
He and Susan were such different characters, and both highlighted the other—the other’s best qualities and their worst. They challenged each other. And I loved it.
I could go on and on about Susan and Malcolm. And don’t get me started about the side characters. Basically, the character development in this novel was phenomenal.
And. The. THEMES. FEMINISM. RELIGION. IMMIGRATION. THE REPRESENTATION. The attention to the Syrian refugee crisis. 🖤🖤🖤
I wouldn’t change a thing about this book.
More people need to know about this book. More people need to read this book. Please enter the giveaway at the end of this post, but regardless if you win, read this book. Spread the word. 🖤
🖤 “Wounds only fester if you let them, I remind myself. If you let yourself like someone way more than they’ll ever like you.”
🖤 “The line between love and hate can be as thin as a paper’s edge.”
🖤 “I want to say something. Put words to the horror I’m feeling right now. But everything tastes inadequate. Sour like bile at the back of my tongue.”
🖤 “No one gets to pick what is right or wrong for anyone else. It’s always going to be your decision, Susan. Nothing that’s truly meant for you can be taken away.”
🖤 “But love isn’t easy…You just need to decide if it’s worth the trouble.”
🖤 “Nothing that’s worth having comes easy.”
🖤 “People always find ways to embarrass you if they can…You can’t control that, but you can control your reaction.”
🖤 “I’m a mess…” “So am I.”
I created a Spotify playlist inspired by The Beauty of the Moment! It even includes songs from artists mentioned in the book. 👌🏻
The playlist also includes Susan’s (“Here” by Alessia Cara) and Malcolm’s (“Something Just Like This” by Coldplay and The Chainsmokers) theme songs, which the author Tanaz Bhathena shared on the first stop of this book tour with The Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Club.
Publisher: Simon Pulse Release Date: January 15, 2019 Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Aspiring choreographer Sophie Orenstein would do
anything for Peter Rosenthal-Porter, who’s been on the kidney transplant list
as long as she’s known him. Peter, a gifted pianist, is everything to Sophie:
best friend, musical collaborator, secret crush. When she learns she’s a match,
donating a kidney is an easy, obvious choice. She can’t help wondering
if after the transplant, he’ll love her back the way she’s always
But Peter’s life post-transplant isn’t what
either of them expected. Though he once had feelings for Sophie too, he’s now
drawn to Chase, the guitarist in a band that happens to be looking for a
keyboardist. And while neglected parts of Sophie’s world are calling to
her—dance opportunities, new friends, a sister and niece she barely knows—she
longs for a now-distant Peter more than ever, growing increasingly bitter he
doesn’t seem to feel the same connection.
Peter fears he’ll forever be indebted to her.
Sophie isn’t sure who she is without him. Then one blurry, heartbreaking night
twists their relationship into something neither of them recognizes, leading
them to question their past, their future, and whether their friendship is even
worth fighting for.
The main characters of this book Sophie and Peter were talented, flawed, annoying, selfish, kind—and human. Sophie is a dancer with a life-long crush in the making on her best friend Peter. Peter is a musician who is exploring his bisexuality and a healthier life with a new donor kidney—Sophie’s kidney. Sometimes I hated both these main characters, but other times I loved them.
I gave this book three stars because of its raw, bittersweet tone that encapsulates real life. I appreciated this book. But I didn’t love it.
I plan to go more in-depth on my BookTube channel about why I had a hard time with the climax and denouement of this book (which is full of spoilers, so I don’t want to include it in this review). Again, while it did feel “real,” it ruined my appreciation for both Sophie and Peter. And I wanted to appreciate them, especially Peter.
Anyway, I would totally recommend this book for fans of John Green, Robyn Schneider, and Rainbow Rowell. So, if that’s you, don’t miss the giveaway at the end of this post!
I made the mistake of looking at the author’s dream cast before creating my own—now I can’t unsee Luca Hollestelle as Sophie and Timothée Chlamet as Peter. Can you blame me though?
About the Author
Rachel Lynn Solomon lives, writes, and tap dances in Seattle, Washington. Once she helped set a Guinness World Record for the most natural redheads in one place. She’s the author of You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone (out now from Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse), Our Year of Maybe (1/15/19), and Today Tonight Tomorrow (2020). A short story of hers will appear in the anthology It’s a Whole Spiel (Penguin Random House/Knopf, fall 2019).
One of my fave genres is magical realism, so I was thrilled to receive an ARC of A Room Away for the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma. 👌🏼
Bring on the strange and mysterious. 🖤
Also, don’t miss the giveaway details below my review!
A Room Away From the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers Release Date: September 4, 2018 Genre: Young Adult, Magical Realism, Mystery
Bina has never forgotten the time she and her mother ran away from home. Her mother promised they would hitchhike to the city to escape Bina’s cruel father and start over. But before they could even leave town, Bina had a new stepfather and two new stepsisters, and a humming sense of betrayal pulling apart the bond with her mother—a bond Bina thought was unbreakable.
Eight years later, after too many lies and with trouble on her heels, Bina finds herself on the side of the road again, the city of her dreams calling for her. She has an old suitcase, a fresh black eye, and a room waiting for her at Catherine House, a young women’s residence in Greenwich Village with a tragic history, a vow of confidentiality, and dark, magical secrets. There, Bina is drawn to her enigmatic downstairs neighbor Monet, a girl who is equal parts intriguing and dangerous. As Bina’s lease begins to run out, and nightmare and memory get tangled, she will be forced to face the terrible truth of why she’s come to Catherine House and what it will take for her to leave…
About the Author
Nova Ren Suma is the author of the YA novels THE WALLS AROUND US as well as the YA novels IMAGINARY GIRLS and 17 & GONE, which were both named 2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound by YALSA. Her middle-grade novel, DANI NOIR, was reissued for a YA audience under the title FADE OUT. She has a BA in writing & photography from Antioch College and an MFA in fiction from Columbia University and has been awarded fiction fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Millay Colony, and an NEA fellowship for a residency at the Hambidge Center. She worked for years behind the scenes in publishing, at places such as Harper Collins, Penguin, Marvel Comics, and RAW Books, and now she teaches writing work-shops. She is from various small towns across the Hudson Valley and lives and writes in New York City.
So I wanted to love this book, I really did, especially because I’m a fan of magical realism. And because the main character Bina is bisexual. (She doesn’t identify with that particular word anywhere in the novel, but we know she’s attracted to both boys and girls.) I wanted it to be a five-star read.
However, I needed more from this book, specifically more of the mystical and romantic elements. Basically the elements I most wanted to read.
More than anything, I enjoyed the mysterious atmosphere—and mysterious plot points—of this book. Greenwich Village, Catherine House, even Bina’s stepdad’s house in the middle of nowhere surrounded by woods. Each setting had creepy (and some super creepy) details that I was here for.
The atmosphere and setting (and the ghosts) honestly made this book for me. 👻
There were a lot of characters, but I didn’t get to know a single one of them well except for Bina and her mom. Even our sort-of-romantic-but-not-really interest Monet, another girl staying in Catherine House, wasn’t fully developed.
But I did appreciate how flawed, seriously flawed, Bina was. She stole, she vandalized, she lied, she got together with her stepsister’s boyfriend, and the list could go on. She wasn’t exactly likeable, sure, but I’m not a fan of too-likeable characters anyway. And, like you’ll see below, there were lots of almost brooding descriptions of Bina’s thoughts that really resonated with me.
Last was the ending. I won’t spoil anything, but geez, it was not all I had hoped it would be. The magical realism elements took a confusing turn, and I didn’t get the on-the-page romance I NEEDED.
All in all, though, it was an okay, solid read that I do recommend. The elements I liked kept this at three stars, and the elements I didn’t kept this from being four stars.
🖤 “One by one, in quick succession, these thoughts struck me: She thinks my mother sent me here on purpose. She thinks I talked to a dead woman on the phone. Get up. Get out of the chair. Walk to the door. Get your suitcase. Go. But my body didn’t move. Only my mouth did.”
🖤 “The way she spoke made the sunny street dark for a moment. I heard the whistle of wind, as if I were back inside that gated garden, down on my knees in the dirt by the grave, where the city didn’t seem to touch.”
🖤 “The girls who lived in this house didn’t really have Monet’s back, not like I did. There was a point at which you threw your lot in with someone. There was a point when you were all in, and there was no scrambling out of it when you got scared, or found morals, or wanted to save your own skin.”