Review: I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Summary: Desi doesn’t fail when it comes to being the top student in her grade, dominating the varsity soccer field, and filling up her resume that’s bound to get her into Stanford University. Flirting, on the other hand, is a completely different matter. Desi is notorious for her “flailures” (flirting+failure), but when the perfect guy comes into town, she finds guidance in the Korean dramas her dad has always been obsessed with. Using her “K Drama Steps to True Love”, Desi is ready to win over Luca, K drama antics in store.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

**Warning: There are spoilers below for Maurene Goo’s I Believe in a Thing Called Love**

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My Thoughts:

The most unique part of I Believe in a Thing Called Love is Maurene Goo’s use of K dramas! Before reading the book, I really didn’t know too much about K dramas, so it was interesting to learn more about them and Korean culture in general. It was funny how K dramas motivated the plot of the novel, and I knew from the get-go that Desi wouldn’t have a picture-perfect success story.

While the plot was a tad predictable, what made I Believe in a Thing Called Love for me was Appa! I loved the idea of how this ex-bad boy and mechanic came home everyday to hang out with his daughter and watch K dramas. It was just so adorable to see how much he cared for Desi, and his dad humor was to die for. I felt just as disappointed as he did when Desi misses her Stanford interview to go to the hospital with Luca.

I’m going to go a bit off topic, but I think one of the reasons why I was so disappointed in Desi was that I didn’t understand why Desi was so enchanted with Luca?? Yes, he seemed good-looking and had the whole angsty-art boy thing going, but despite what he argues toward the end of the novel, I feel like him and Desi wouldn’t have gotten together if it wasn’t for Desi’s K-drama scheming. I wish we got to explore him a bit more (would have loved to see more of his Tumblr-famousness come into play or something) outside of his tagging and his problems with his parents. Even though Desi is obviously upset that she doesn’t get into Stanford, I hated how she tried to downplay it, saying that Boston University had a better program anyway and Fiona saying that part of Desi’s infatuation with Standford comes from her mother’s influence. PLUS HOW COULD YOU GO TO SCHOOL ACROSS THE COUNTRY FROM THE CUTEST DAD EVER??

Overall, while I found some aspects a bit problematic, I enjoyed I Believe in a Thing Called Love for its diversity, family life, and integration of K dramas.

Have you read I Believe in a Thing Called Love? Share your thoughts & feels in the comments!

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The Goodreads Book Tag

Goodreads has been one of my book BFFs since 2015, so I think it’s time to recognize one of my favorite websites.

What was the last book you marked as read? The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

What are you currently reading? Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee

What do you plan to read next? Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart (ARC)

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Do you use the star rating system?

I do, but I recently wrote a discussion about my love-hate relationships with star ratings here.

Are you doing a 2017 Reading Challenge?

I am! My goal is to hit 58 books because that will put me at having read at least 200 books from 2015 to 2017.

What book do you plan on buying next?

I’m not really sure! I’m trying to limit how many books I buy for the rest of the year.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

UM YES! I am the type of reader who keeps a notepad close by when I’m reading just for the purpose of writing down quotes. Here’s one of my favorites from Leigh Bardugo’s Crooked Kingdom:

“Jesper couldn’t quite believe he was having a conversation with the Sturmhond. The privateer was a legend. He’d broken countless blockades on behalf of the Ravkans and there were rumors that… “Do you really have a flying ship? blurted Jesper.


“No.”


“Oh.”


“I have several.”

“Take me with you.”

Jesper forever ❤

Who are your favorite authors?

Marie Lu, Ruta Sepetys, Rainbow Rowell, Jenny Han, and Sarah J. Maas

Have you joined any groups?

I’m part of Top Five Wednesday and a group focused on Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles (I remember freaking out over Winter’s cover).

Have you done the Goodreads Book Tag? Share in the comments!

 

 

Top Five Wednesday: Series That Got Better

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Book series that get better with every installment are the best type of series. Listed below are some series that improved with each book for this Top Five Wednesday.

The Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab– One of my reading goals for this summer was to read the entire Shades of Magic trilogy, which includes A Darker Shade of Magic, A Gathering of Shadows, and A Conjuring of Light. This series is among the most loved books in the book blogging community, so I knew it was time for me to pick it up. While the Shades of Magic trilogy wasn’t my favorite, I did enjoy reading these books, and I was impressed by how the cast of characters grew with each installment (Hastra, Alucard, and Rhy are my faves).

The To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series by Jenny Han– When I read To All the Boys Before back in May 2015, I thought it was another cute and heart-warming read and was pretty excited to pick up the next book, P.S. I Still Love You. I ended up loving this second book about Lara Jean and the Song sisters even more, and my heart squealed when Jenny Han announced in 2016 that this once-duology would be turned into a trilogy, finishing with Always and Forever, Lara Jean. Always and Forever, Lara Jean was everything I could have hoped for in this series conclusion, and I love how much Lara Jean and her story grows throughout the series.

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins– I’m one of the very few people who consider Mockingjay their favorite book in The Hunger Games trilogy. I KNOW IT’S VERY DEPRESSING, BUT IT WAS JUST SO GOOD! I obviously love the first two books as well, with The Hunger Games having so much action and setting the scene and more plot movement in Catching Fire, but I just remember being obsessed with Mockingjay and the way this series finished.

The A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy by Sarah J. Maas– The A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy is one of my all-time favorite series, and I really enjoyed seeing the ACOTAR world and cast of characters grow and improve with each installment (not to mention how much more gorgeous fan art came out with each book). I have reviews for A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury, and A Court of Wings and Ruin on the blog.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling– It’s no surprise that I think each Harry Potter book is amazing in its own way, but I must admit that I love the final three books in the series a bit more than the first four. I enjoy seeing Harry Potter and friends a bit more mature and older, even as their story grows darker. When asked which is my favorite book in the series, I always struggle to choose between Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (ranting sidenote: I really don’t like seeing people put down Order of the Phoenix because of ‘angsty’ Harry, he was facing a really dark and depressing time in his life) and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Top 5 Wednesday is a collaborative group of book bloggers from various platforms who love sharing lists on Wednesdays. The T5W group can be found here on Goodreads.

Review: Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel

Summary: It’s been sixty-five days since Camilla died, and Juniper Lemon is still reeling from her older sister’s death. What makes the hole Camilla left in Juniper’s life even bigger is discovering the secret breakup letter addressed to YOU Camilla wrote the day she died. Juniper is determined to figure out YOU’s identity and deliver the letter, even if it means discovering some of her fellow classmates’ own secrets. Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index is Julie Israel’s debut novel.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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**Warning: There are spoilers for Julie Israel’s Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index below**

My Thoughts:

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index has been on my TBR radar since its release in June, and I was extra motivated to read it when it was chosen as the BookTtube-A-Thon (a reading marathon taking place this week hosted) 2017 book. If you’re a fan of Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, I recommend picking Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index. Both books take place in Oregon, feature main characters dealing with loss and grief, and incorporate musical elements.

While there are plenty of happy moments, Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index certainly has its sad moments, as Juniper and her family struggle dealing with Camilla’s death. Each chapter in the book is numbered after how many days it’s been since Camilla died, and I feel like that helped show how Juniper is affected by her sister’s death daily. It was really hard to see Juniper’s mom so disconnected from her other daughter, so it was heart-warming to see her embrace Juniper in 3 Hall toward the end of the novel. Having two sisters myself, I can definitely picture having a fight filled with all the dramatics like Camilla and Juniper did, and I couldn’t imagine dealing with the same guilt as Juniper did. It was really interesting to see that be index card 65.

My one “disappointment” with Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index was not finding out who YOU was. Throughout the book, I found myself trying to figure out who YOU could be. I figured that it wouldn’t be Brand, especially with the growing feelings between him and Juniper, and I thought it would be too convenient for Nate to be YOU. While I figured that Nate was somehow involved in Camilla’s death, I did not expect him to be Aaron’s brother. Getting back to YOU, I am convinced that Mr. Bodily is YOU. It explains why Camilla kept their relationship so secret; there’s no way that she would be allowed to have a relationship with a teacher, and she wouldn’t even risk having any evidence of them together, like photographs. Even though you could argue that Mr. Bodily cared for Camilla as a student, he also made sure that Juniper knew that he could be a person to talk to when it came to Camilla. This is totally going off on a limb, but it’s even mentioned that Mr. Bodily is pretty young when we first meet him, so maybe he was finishing up a master’s degree or taking some classes at Fairfield while he was dating Camilla.

Overall, I enjoyed Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index way more than I thought I would. In the beginning of the book, Juniper is really depressed (which is obviously completely understandable), but I couldn’t imagine her getting out her depression. While we do spend a lot of time focused on YOU, I really enjoyed seeing Juniper building relationships with Brand, Kody, and the other characters. Plus I really was intrigued by who YOU was– hence my disappointment even though we’re supposed to be happy that Juniper knows and it really doesn’t matter who YOU is  since it was Camilla’s secret.

Have you read Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index? Share your thoughts and feels in the comments!

 

My Favorite Summer Contemporary Books

summercs.jpgContemporary books set during the summer time are among my favorite types of books. There’s just something about them that makes me want to run to the beach or spend days by the pool (which I end up doing 99.9% of the time)! Listed below are some of my favorite contemporaries set during my favorite season.

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson– Frankly, any of Morgan Matson’s novels are great summer contemporaries, but I do love Second Chance Summer the most (even though it caused me to cry A LOT). After they receive devastating news, Taylor and her family decide to spend one last summer together at their lake house in the Poconos Mountains.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares– The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants will always have a special place in my heart because it was one of the very first YA book series that I read. All of the books in the series take place during the summer, with the pants traveling between Carmen, Tibby, Lena, and Bridget throughout their various locations. If you’re also looking for some summery films, I definitely recommend checking out this series’ film adaptions as well.

My Life Next Door by Huntley FitzpatrickMy Life Next Door isn’t just about a summer romance, as it really incorporates family (which I often adore in most if not all young-adult books that I read). Samantha Reed wonders what it’s like to be a member of the Garrett family, her loud and messy neighbors, until she starts dating their son, Jase. Jase and the Garretts embrace Samantha into their family, and Samantha finds herself not only in love with Jase, but the whole family.

The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy by Jenny Han– I marathoned Jenny Han’s The Summer I Turned Pretty series last summer and I’m still so happy that I did. While there’s some different vibes from her To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series, Jenny Han again proves that she’s one of the queens of young-adult contemporary, writing about Belly, Jeremiah, and Conrad’s summers at their beach house. This series has had some really pretty cover changes, but I recommend getting the 3-book bindup from Target (bargain+super summery cover).

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord– One of my recent favorite summer contemporaries, The Names They Gave Us follows Lucy’s summer working at a summer for troubled kids and teens. Lucy is struggling herself, between her mom’s cancer coming back, her recent break-up with her longtime boyfriend, and trying to connect with her faith as her mom’s health gets worse. The Names They Gave Us is a great summer contemporary for its setting and its emotion-filled plot. I have a full review here.

What are some of your favorite summer contemporaries? Share in the comments!

Mini Reviews: Lost History, Musicals, and Do-si-dos

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

When I saw that my favorite historical fiction author, Ruta Sepetys, had rated Sarah’s Key 5 stars on Goodreads, I knew that I had to pick it up. Similar to some of Ruta’s work, Sarah Key’s focuses on little-known history, in this case, the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, the mass arrest of French Jews by the French Police in 1942. When journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write about the 60th anniversary of the Vel’ d’Hiv’, she uncovers the hidden history of a girl named Sarah, whose story may resonate with Julia’s own family. While I wasn’t a massive fan of the writing style, I enjoyed reading about this historical event and seeing Sarah’s story unfold.

Dear Evan Hansen by Steven Levenson

IMG_4468.JPGMy Rating: 5/5 Stars

I bought Dear Evan Hansen from the Drama Book Shop in NYC back in May and it was haunting my TBR pile ever since. I’ve really enjoyed Dear Evan Hansen’s original cast recording and with it being the hottest show on Broadway this season, I needed to experience this show in some way. Dear Evan Hansen is both heart-warming and heart-breaking, and if you’re sad about not being able to score tickets to this show, go pick up the book instead!

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The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

After loving Emery Lord’s The Names They Gave Us, I knew I had to pick up another one of her books. I was even more driven to read The Start of Me and You when it recently became a Zoella & Friends 2017 Book Club pick. I devoured The Start of Me and You while floating around my pool, which I highly recommend doing with any contemporary read. This book follows high schooler Paige Hancock, as she rebuilds her life after the death of her boyfriend, Aaron. Even though it has its sad moments, The Start of Me and You is filled with family, friendship, books, and a boy by the name of Max Watson with a love for Girl Scout cookies that few can rival. While I wasn’t totally sold on the premise of the novel, I really enjoyed seeing Paige bond with her friends and Max, plus the nerdiness in this book was perfect (I want coffee dates to the bookstore with Max please).

Have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments!

Top Five Wednesday: Books That Aren’t Set in the Western World

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For today’s Top Five Wednesday, I’ll be discussing five books that are set outside North America and Western Europe. All of these books take place in multiple locations (some of these places may be set in North America or Western Europe), but their overall story takes places outside the Western World.

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Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys– One of my favorite books, Between Shades of Gray tells the story of fifteen-year old Lina, whose family has just been deported to Siberia from their home in the Baltic States. This novel is so heart-wrenchingly beautiful, and I think it is so important for everyone to read this book, as many people are unaware of the horrors people from the Baltic States experienced during World War II.

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin– Ryan Graudin’s Wolf by Wolf takes place in a world where the Aix Powers won World War II. Every year, the Third Reich and Imperial Japan host a motorcycle race across their shared continents. Yael, a former death camp prisoner with skin-shifting abilities, is given a mission: win the race disguised as Adele Wolfe and kill Hitler. While the race begins in Europe, much of the novel takes place in Asia, as Yael races to win.

Cinder by Marissa MeyerThe first book in The Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder primarily takes place in the Eastern Commonwealth, a futuristic version of Asia. If you haven’t yet heard of Cinder or The Lunar Chronicles, all you need to know that this series includes cyborgs, fairy-tale retellings, sassy robots, and a hot prince known by the name of Kai.

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin– Still on my TBR, Ryan Graudin’s The Walled City takes place in a dark world based on Asian culture. I’ve been told to go into this novel without knowing much in order to get all the thrills!

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff– Want a book that doesn’t take place on Earth at all? Then jump into Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s sci-fi series, The Illuminae Files, and head into OUTER SPACE. This series is filled with space ships, politics, romance and more!

Top 5 Wednesday is a collaborative group of book bloggers from various platforms who love sharing lists on Wednesdays. The T5W group can be found here on Goodreads.