Tag Archives: YA Contemporary

Dear John Green…

Turtles All The Way Down by John Greenfive-star-rating-black-clip-art-hi

I wanted to do something really special for this review as this was a special book for me. So, I decided to write this review in the form a thank-you letter to John Green. I hope you all enjoy! 

Dear John Green, 

35504431Let me begin by introducing myself! 🙂 My name is Christina and I have been a longtime fan of both your books, your VlogBrothers YouTube channel and your “Dear Hank & John” podcast. I have always appreciated your candor and your willingness to be vulnerable with your own mental health journey.

I, myself, have been diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder, depression, PTSD and…Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). In my work with my previous therapist, my OCD really is the foundation of my mental health struggles, as this was something that I could trace back to my childhood. I’ve always been an anxious individual and it wasn’t until I started working with a therapist that I realized my anxiety really stems from my obsessive thought spirals. Thankfully, I have gotten to a point where I have graduated from therapy and have been living my life using the coping skills that I learned in therapy.

When I heard that this book was coming out…I can’t begin to tell you, I was filled with both anxiety and excitement. Anxiety, because (to be quite honest), I was nervous about how the character with OCD was going to be portrayed in this book. Excitement, because I hardly ever see OCD represented accurately or respectfully in books.

Now…I’ve read the book and you’re probably where I fall on the scale of anxiety to excitement. Honestly, I don’t think I actually fell anywhere on the scale. This book wrecked me emotionally. I couldn’t even properly cry because the amount of emotions I was experiencing was quite overwhelming. In the beginning of the book, when we were getting acquainted with Aza’s thought spirals and how her OCD manifested, I had to keep putting the book down because it just hit me square in my heart. It felt like someone transplanted my own thought spirals and put them in book form, and I had a really hard time reading through it – which to me, showed how accurate the thought spirals felt to me. This tends to be the part of OCD that is overlooked in books – the “O”, the “obsessive” thoughts. It’s paralyzing. It’s invalidating. It’s hurtful. And it really doesn’t feel like my thoughts.

The relationship between Aza and Daisy also really hit too close to home. Particularly when we start to see how Aza’s OCD impacts Daisy…this has always been my own lifelong fear. I know I’ve lost friendships due to my mental health disabilities. And this is, quite frankly, the hardest part of carrying my mental health disabilities. It is the constant fear that I am a burden to those that I deeply care about around me. In the deepest parts of my OCD and anxiety, I know that I cannot think of my impact on others because I am already so deep in my own thought spiral well. It feels so isolating. It literally makes me feel crazy.

The last thing that I would like to say…is thank you. Thank you, John Green. Thank you for writing this book that is gritty, painful, ugly and hard. Thank you for not shying away from how ugly and hard mental health disabilities can be. But, thank you for also showing the hope that exists at the end of the dark tunnel of mental health disabilities. More and more books targeted to a younger audience need to read like this one. They need to be honest and they need to provide hope, because hope always exists. Even when we can’t see it ourselves.

So, thank you, John Green. I cannot express in words how thankful I am for this book and how much this book has impacted my soul.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Christina Choi

 

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Quick Take: The Upside of Unrequited

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
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My boyfriend has been on a major audiobook kick, so I was kind of jonesing for an the upside of unrequitedaudiobook myself. Enter “The Upside of Unrequited”! I got this through my library and after sampling the book, I thought that this would be a great book to pick up after the slight book hangover that “Our Dark Duet” gave me. And if you’re wondering why it gave me such a book hangover, check out my most recent series review that I did!

Anyways! On to the book! I loved Becky Albertalli’s first book, “Simon and the Homo-Sapiens Agenda”, so I had been meaning to get to this next book of hers! This book follows Molly, who is a serial monogamous “crusher”. She has had 26 crushes. And 0 boyfriends. Molly’s twin sister, Cassie, keeps pushing her by telling her to “woman up” and make something of these crushes already. A new girl enters Cassie’s world bringing a cute hipster-boy, that may seem to dig her back? An interesting problem presents itself to Molly, however, in the form of Molly’s coworker (Reid) who Molly couldn’t possibly fall for, right?

Overall I really enjoyed this book! I think the reading of this audiobook was super fun. I think the narrator did a great job conveying all of the different characters and she really won me over. This book is super cute and sweet! Not only is this a sweet book about first love, but also a book about sisterhood and family. I loved the diverse representation in this book, as well! 🙂 If you’re looking for a sweet book, consider picking this one up! 🙂

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Quick Take: Love & Gelato

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
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love & gelatoI think this was the perfect transition book from my summer reads into my fall reads. This was a lovely, yet not overly sweet contemporary novel.

This novel follows Lina as she goes to spend a summer in Tuscany to get to know the father that she didn’t know about, per her mother’s dying wish. Despite Tuscany’s picturesque beauty, Lina is definitely in no mood or rush to enjoy what Tuscany has to offer…or really even that interested in getting to know a father who’s never been around. Once Lina arrives, however, she is given an old journal of her mother’s that takes her on a whirlwind romantic adventure. Lina follows along in her mother’s footstep with her newfound friend, Ren, as she gets to know a side to her mother that she didn’t realize was even there.

Overall this novel was sweet and romantic, but again, not in an overly sweet kind of way. There were elements of love, family and grief, that it makes this a great transitional novel between the summer and fall seasons. I appreciated having a contemporary that felt more multi-dimensional than other contemporary novels, so that definitely gets two thumbs up from me!

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Quick Take: Everything, Everything

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
four-star-rating-black-hi (.75)

Oh goodness, just all the feels with this book. Val has also read this beautiful novel everythingand has reviewed it, so I encourage you to check out her blog post!! I am going to go into a quick synopsis and then the rest of this is going to be pretty spoiler-y, so if you haven’t checked this out, you need to ASAP! I’ve read another Nicola Yoon book earlier this year (check out my review!) and she is quickly becoming one of my favorite contemporary authors!! She not only writes beautiful books that tug at your heartstrings, but she also weaves in such important themes such as family and race relations. All of which is super refreshing and so important to see represented in YA novels.

Now a quick synopsis: Madeline has just turned 18 and has never left her house due to having SCID. This basically means that she’s allergic to everything, so she stays inside her house with her nurse and her mother. Olly, a cute and interesting boy, moves in next door peaking Madeline’s interest in the outside world. And that is it for a synopsis! And if you are reading the synopsis thinking that you know exactly how this story turns out…I am going to tell you to ignore that voice in your head and read this book! This book takes the most interesting of turns, and while it is the cutest and sweetest love story you’ll probably ever read, it’s also a beautiful and heartbreaking story about family. So now, I’m going to get into some spoilers, so get out of here if you haven’t read this yet!! 🙂

Continue reading

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Quick Takes: Finding Audrey

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
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Image result for finding audreyHooray I’m back!

I needed a quick, fun, easy read to get me out of grad school mode, and this book was it! I first cracked it open while I was poolside, and easily got through the first hundred pages. I was on the last page before the end of the weekend.

This was a cute little romance about 14 year old Audrey, who suffers from social anxiety, and the boy who helps motivate her to work through her fears. Don’t worry though, it’s not an I’m gonna change for this boy so he can finally like me kind of story. It’s just a sweet little story. Plus, it’s not just about romantic love, but also familial. I loved the interactions between Audrey’s family. They were wacky and ridiculous without fringing into caricature territory.

I was also impressed by how well social anxiety and mental illness as a whole was treated throughout this book. This wasn’t a romanticized view of it, which some books seem to be guilty of. It was pretty realistic, and could even offer younger readers a better understanding of what social anxiety means. Heck, any readers a little less familiar with the topic of mental illness will probably learn some things.

Although I get a little tired of the pop culture references that will likely date this book in a few years, it’s a cute story that’s worth picking up if you’re in the mood for this sort of read!

 

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BookTube-A-Thon 2017 Wrap Up!!

booktubeathon

BookTube-A-Thon Wrap Up Stats

Pages Read: 769 pages
Books Finished: 3 and like the first part of a 4th
Challenges Completed: 4 – I read a book completely outside, a whole book in a day, a book bought because of the cover and a book about a character that’s very different from me

Overall, I think I did pretty well! I read 2 whole books, a graphic novel and started another novel. I was very happy with everything that I read during this past BookTube-A-Thon. Now, I am going to share some mini reviews of the books that I read this past week!

Matilda by Roald Dahl five-star-rating-black-clip-art-hi
matilda

This is a childhood favorite of mine!! 🙂 This book fills me up with so much goodness, happiness and overall good feelings. This book is what really ignited
my fire for reading as a child. I was very shy and awkward as a child and I had a hard time making friends, so I found friends in my books. As a shy and awkward kid, it was super important for me to see that quality of love for reading in a female character. So, yes – I love this and will always love this! 🙂 ❤

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo five-star-rating-black-clip-art-hi

I have had this for quite some time and I thought that the BookTube-A-Thon was if i was your girlthe perfect time for me to finally pick this up. I especially thought that with the ridiculous political climate, it was the perfect time to pick up a book that is about a young trans woman. I had such an emotional experience reading this book, but it definitely challenged my own cis-female privilege, as I was reading this book. This was a very light, yet deep contemporary read, which I loved! There was a lot of great character growth in the side characters around our main protagonist, which was also fantastic to read about. This was fantastic and I highly recommend!!

Prince of the Elves (#5) by Kazu Kibuishi four-star-rating-black-hi

It’s definitely been a while since I’ve read this series and this was a great prince of the elvesinstallation to jump back in with! 😀 I adore Kazu Kibuishi’s artwork – it’s like watching a Miyazaki film in book form, it’s fabulous!! The story also really picked up in this book! That’s all I can really say without spoiling the rest of the series. I highly recommend this!! 😀

I had a great time with the BookTube-A-Thon this year! 😀 If any of you also participated, I hope you all had a great run too!!

 

 

 

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Presenting: Hits & Misses, March Edition!

march to april

Hello readers! Happy April! 

So alas, this is usually the time of the month where we share our thoughts on our most recent monthly TBR book and share our TBR’s for the coming month. We have had a lot of fun doing this this past year, but I was thinking that we were in need of a bit of a change.

So I present to you…our new “Hits & Misses” series! This will be a simple way for any of us to share what our “hits” and what our “misses” from the past month have been, hopefully giving you a glimpse into what we read in that month and give you some recommendations!

Now without further ado, here are my March Hits & Misses!! 🙂

MARCH HITS!! 

By far, the greatest hits of this month had to have been “The Sun Is Also A Star” and “The Hate U Give”!!! Both novels were stunning in their own right and made me feel all the feels!! Both conveyed incredibly important and much needed messages about race; one focusing on the Black Lives Matter movement and one focusing on the perils of immigration in this country. Both definitely should be read by everyone…like now!

MARCH MISSES!!  

truthwitch

Now…I didn’t necessarily read any “misses” this past month. I’ll just share the read that maybe felt like the most let down? And that let down this month, unfortunately, was “Truthwitch”. Now…don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate it. I liked it!! I’m continuing with the series. It just let down in the high-fantasy aspect of this first book. I was looking forward to more world-building, as I felt slightly confused and left behind as I was reading. I’m hoping that the second book does more in that department!!

There you have it! My first set of monthly hits & misses!! I hope y’all enjoy the new monthly wrap-up format!! Happy reading everyone!!

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