Tag Archives: YA Contemporary

Quick Take: Dear Martin

Dear Martin by Nic Stonefive-star-rating-black-clip-art-hi

If you can’t tell how much I loved this book by my star rating, then I will tell you that I 38346862read this in two days! 😀 I couldn’t stop reading because the story was so mesmerizing and heartbreaking. I absolutely loved it – this is an incredibly important read!! Everyone needs to absolutely read this book!!

This book follows Justyce, who is a young black man attending a predominantly white affluent preparatory high school. He is at the top of his class and Ivy League school bound. Suddenly at the beginning of the book, however, he is mistakenly arrested by a white cop solely because of his skin color. This leads Justyce to reflect on not only the incident, but also the greater injustice of police brutality against black men. To help his reflections, Justyce starts writing letters to Martin Luther King Jr. and really dives into his teachings in order to be “more like Martin”.

I not only have the words to describe how impactful this book was, but I also do not want to spoil the experience of anyone who also wants to experience this book. The format of this book was incredible and definitely added to the impact that the book had on me. Last year, I read The Hate U Give which was also an incredibly impactful read, but one of the main things that stood out about this book was that we followed the perspective of a young black man, which I think is a perspective that gets left out in books and the overall media.

In conclusion, READ THIS BOOK! Not only are we giving room for the stories of young black men and women, but it’s also supporting more authors who identify as people of color, particular women of color. READ THIS BOOK! 😀

 

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , ,

A New Kind of Love Story

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
four-star-rating-black-hi

This was an absolutely lovely read! 🙂 I was so happy to receive this for Christmas from 28458598my future mother-in-law and I was so excited!! I’ve heard such great reviews about this book, so I was excited to dive in myself.

When Dimple Met Rishi is a YA contemporary story that follows our two protagonists, Dimple and Rishi. Dimple is Stanford bound to study computer science and we follow Dimples’ summer before Stanford as she attends a summer camp, Insomnia Con, for aspiring web developers. Once Dimple arrives to Insomnia Con, she unexpectedly meets Rishi, who is there because his parents have told him that they have set up a meeting for him with his future wife at the same summer camp. However, their first meeting was not quite what Rishi had hoped it was going to be. Needless to say, this is where this quirky, heartwarming, heartbreaking and fun love story begins!

This was such a fun and important read, especially today. I think what was so great about this book was not that it was the most different story in terms of plot, but it was the most different story in terms of representation. We’ve all read stories like this before, but never with these characters. These characters who are not only ordinary college-bound young people, but characters who also carry the weight of their cultural upbringing.

I appreciated how we saw both characters wrestle with their culture in such different and real ways. I also appreciated that the book was real in how young people of color are typically received by their white counterparts. It’s unfortunate and hurtful, but it is so true. I know I’ve had similar experiences, as a woman of color, growing up so this definitely tugged at my heartstrings. This story was real, raw, but also just so much fun which I really appreciated.

Overall, this was a great story and I think everyone should read it!! We need more stories out there like this and I cannot wait to read Sandhya Menons’ upcoming novel which is coming out this May!!! 😀

Tagged , , , , ,

Christina’s Favorites of 2017!!

2017

2017…oof, what a year. Let’s just leave it at that, kay? Now to focus back on books! Many books have been read by us as a collective this year. Between the three of us, we have read…105 books!!! Here we are to share with you some of our favorites from this past year!! These are not in any specific order for any of us, just as a heads up!

Christina 

  1. I’m going to cheat a little with my first book and go with the Six of Crows duology. These were the first two books that I read this past year and I was so glad that I finally got around to this duology!! This was a fantastic duology filled with a fast-paced plot, incredibly dynamic characters and a fascinatingly immersive world. I loved it!!
  2. My second pick is going to be none other than Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Another one of the first books that I’ve read this year and this is definitely the book that has had the most last impact. A debut author and I am hoping to definitely see more from Yaa Gyasi. This was a most beautiful multigenerational book following two Ghanian sisters. This book explored blackness in such a unique way through the most beautiful storytelling.
  3. My third book is in similar vein with my second book, and that is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas…another beautiful book written by a debut author!! This was a moving YA book inspired by the “Black Lives Matter” movement. This was a difficult book to read as it tells the BLM story from the perspective of a young black girl, which just makes it even more heartbreaking. This is such an important book and I believe that EVERYONE should read this book…and ASAP.
  4. My fourth pick came to me at quite the surprise when I read it earlier in the year. And that is Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. Now, Cassandra Clare’s books have been my longtime guilty pleasure reads, as they are slightly ridiculous and just pack full of YA tropes. However, her newest trilogy (The Dark Artifices) is beyond anything that I had expected to read from Cassandra Clare. It is evident that her writing and storytelling have become so much more sophisticated and I believe Cassandra Clare to be a YA author that believes in not sugar-coating books for a younger audience. She used this book as an opportunity to address some real world issues and I applaud her for doing so.
  5. My fifth and final pick for this list is going to be none other than Turtles All The Way Down by John Green. As someone with OCD, I have always appreciated John Green’s openness and his candor about his own experiences with OCD. It has always given me something to relate to and connect with in media, since I have not seen OCD represented either accurately or respectively. What this meant for this book was a most painful, heartbreaking and accurate portrayal of OCD. This was a difficult book for me to read, but I am so glad that it exists in the world and I am incredibly grateful to John Green for being continuously open and raising awareness on this issue.

I like to think that I had a pretty good reading year and I hope y’all did too!!! 🙂

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Christmas Quick Takes

christmas banner

I don’t know about y’all, but every time December rolls around I use it as an excuse to pull out as many Christmas-y reads as I can physically fit into the month. I love the general theme of hope, faith and love in Christmas stories! That means the majority of my reads from this past month were pretty Christmas-y, so I thought I’d do one post with quick take reviews of my reads from the past month. I’ve read two other books that I will review later on! 🙂

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares (#1) by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan three-star-rating-black-hi

d & l book of daresThis was the first book that I picked up this month because I was seeing it circulate everywhere as this cute and light Christmas contemporary. Plus, I ended up getting it on my Kindle for like $1.99. This is a story following Dash & Lily as they fall in love via passing back and forth this red Moleskin notebook with dares and clues for each of them. As expected, this was super light, super fluffy and quite cute. My biggest hang up was actually the portrayal of the character, Dash. My main criticism of him is actually similar to most people’s criticisms’ of John Greens’ characters in that I found Dash to be absolutely unlike any teenage boy I’ve ever met. He has a love for the Oxford English Dictionary, so uses and throws around big words in his everyday vernacular, which I just find slightly difficult to believe and relate to. Overall, it was cute, had loads of family elements and a sweet love story to carry me through.

What Light by Jay Asher four-star-rating-black-hi

This book was the biggest surprise of the month! I had been wanting to pick this up and I finally got around to it this month, definitely not expecting to like it as much as I did. The Books Jay Asherbook follows Sierra and her family who run a Christmas tree farm. They spend the year in their home in Oregon and then every holiday season, travel down to California to sells Christmas trees. While there, Sierra meets Caleb who is surrounded by a dark and dangerous past that everyone warns her against. This was a beautiful book about redemption, forgiving oneself and acceptance (self and of others). This book got me surprisingly emotional and I cried through the last quarter of the book. While this was a heavier read, it was still quite light and easy to get through. I appreciated that this book was a slightly different take on most Christmas stories that I have read.

Comfort & Joy by Kristin Hannah ijss5

comfort & joyThis book was, by far, the biggest disappointment maybe of the year? I know that’s kind of a harsh statement, but it was definitely pretty bad. I picked this up because I have heard fantastic reviews about Kristin Hannah, particularly with her Nightingale book. This also sounded like the perfect Christmas read set in my current home state of Washington. But alas, it was pretty terrible. It was just a weird book full of magical realism elements that I was definitely not expecting. The only reason why I gave it two-stars was because it was set in Washington and in the area where my fiance grew up, which added an extra fun element for me as I read. Everything else was pretty awful. I am still going to give Kristin Hannah a chance, as I am still excited to read Nightingale.

The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily (#2) by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan ijss5

Alas, another disappointment…le sigh. I’m especially disappointed since I enjoyed the first book so much earlier this month. It was a cute, light and fun Christmas story, while dash & lily iithis one felt like it was trying to be something that it definitely was not. This book follows Dash & Lily, as Dash tries to reignite the Christmas love and light in Lily as she experiences a lot of change and turmoil in her life. What ended up happening was a weird dismantling of the characters that I came to love from the first book and just an inability to take this book seriously. This is a great example of a perfectly good book and story that should’ve just been left alone. Le sigh…

All in all, I think I had a pretty good reading month 🙂 Christmas reads always make me happy and help me to enjoy the holidays even more!! 😀 I hope you all have enjoyed your holidays, got a lot of reading done and got a lot of books!! 🙂

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

Quick Take: The Upside of Unrequited

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
three-star-rating-black-hi

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! 🙂

Tagged , , , , ,

Quick Take: Love & Gelato

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
three-star-rating-black-hi

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!

Tagged , , , ,