Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Rating: Five Simons 😛

Why shouldn’t everyone have to come out and tell the world their sexual orientation? Why is it only a big deal if someone “comes out” as gay? Becky Albertalli’s novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, is fan-freaking-tastic!!! She explores what it’s like to be a kid falling in love for the first time in a day and age, where social media can make or break you. What I loved most about this novel, is that Simon coming out as gay fuels the plot line but it isn’t the only motivating force. Albertalli, tells a vivid story that explores all types of love from familial, friendship based, and romantic perspectives. She portrays Simon and Blue’s emotions as valid, real, and not “abnormal”.

I guess I’m getting ahead of myself here. The main character of the novel is Simon Spier, a sixteen-year-old who’s got the “perfect” life, except for one secret: he’s gay. He’s got an amazing family, cool dog named Bieber, and friends who love him. Yet, he can’t seem to tell them he’s gay. When someone else anonymously comes out on the high school Tumblr page, Simon reaches out. A budding romance develops between them under the pseudonym of “Jacques” and the mysterious “Blue”. Throw in some blackmail with other teen drama and you’ve got a winner. When I say this novel is fan-freaking-tastic, I mean it’s FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC! I read the book within a few hours; I could not put it down. The novel is quirky, nerd-loving (heck yah Harry Potter for life), and genuine. Albertalli, makes some incredibly insightful and moving points that can move the reader to question our societies’ norms, I know I did. My recommendation? READ. THIS. NOVEL.

P.S. Read it before going to see the movie. Trust me. They are two different beasts and you’ll do yourself a disservice if you see the movie first. Don’t get me wrong the movie is great. I enjoyed it, just keep the movie and book separate in your mind. Again, I repeat, READ THE NOVEL 🙂

 

Advertisements

SWOOOONNNNNNNN

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

***PSA – YOU MUST LISTEN TO THIS BOOK!!!***

Buy the physical novel and read it, that’s good too. BUT if you’re treating yourself BUYS THE AUDIO BOOK!!! It’s narrated by the one and only Christian Coulson – i.e. the actor who played teenage Tom Riddle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. His reading of the novel was described to me as, “So sexy I almost crashed my car”. I can attest to the accuracy of that statement as I made a few questionable lane changes while listening myself. The novel’s main character, Henry “Monty” Montague, an English youth of noble breeding must be read in a British accent. Therefore it must be read by Christian Coulson’s British accent. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. Click on this link to hear a sample of Coulson’s swoon worthy tones.

I promise I’m getting to the review – I just want to make sure you understand how life changing the audiobook is. Coulson’s reading is pleasing to the ear for all and my attempt at a British accent is nothing in comparison. I’m done now, I promise. A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee follows roguish Henry “Monty” Montague as I stated earlier. Lee writes the character into reality. His personality is palpable and he literally reads off the page – I wait with batted breath for a movie or television adaptation because Lee’s characters deserve human manifestation. Monty has been born and raised to be a gentleman but no level of education or parental reprimand can contain his passions – for gambling, drink, and “waking up in the arms of women or men” (Lee, 2017). The novel follows Monty as he goes on his tour of Europe which would ideally be the enactment of living his most unvirtuous life. If only life could be as we imagine it. Instead, Monty’s plans are derailed by his domineering father and he is sent off on his great adventure with his sister Felicity as charge and a chaperone who will insure that Monty has no fun. The one solace he has is that his best friend, Percy, will still go on tour with him and Monty plans on flirting with his as much as possible. Its harmless fun right? Monty’s antics quickly turn the tour sour and results in an arduous voyage across Europe that makes Monty question everything. Intrigued? You’ll have to read to find out.

Lee does a brilliant job of representing love. Love between a brother and sister, best friends, and romantic love between two young men. The way Lee writes, you don’t question Monty’s romantic choices. He loves because he loves and it doesn’t matter the gender of that person. It’s beautiful. I didn’t feel like Lee wrote this book in order to make a statement about love and politics. She simply wrote realistic characters and made me as a reader root for their love! No matter your political leanings, this is an artfully written novel that uses a historical perspective to explore the social realities we’re facing today. I, for one, am a big fan and hope you take the chance to become one yourself 🙂

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Have you ever read a book that has you smiling ear to ear like a giddy preteen about to get their hands on the final Twilight book? When Dimple Met Rishi was that book for me. Once I got started, I couldn’t put it down. I read in the car. I read while walking across campus for class. I read on the sardine packed Aggie bus and proceeded to fall over because I was paying more attention to Sandhya’s magical book instead of holding on for dear life as the driver hit the brakes. I’m not being hyperbolic when I say this book is magic.

It.

Is.

Literal.

 

If you’re reading this and shaking your head because YA romance just doesn’t float your boat, I implore you to hear me out. This book is more than boy meets girl, tragedy strikes and tears them a part, and somehow they end up with their happily ever after. Sandhya’s book is a coming of age story with a complicated, driven, and strong female lead. Dimple Shah refuses to be the perfect Indian daughter her mother wants. She doesn’t like wearing makeup, feels more comfortable in jeans and converse, and prefers her “specs” over contacts (Girl same, you will never see me without my glasses). Her mother’s biggest concern is making sure Dimple finds her I.I.H – Ideal Indian Husband and that’s the farthest thing on Dimple’s mind. She wants to be a badass computer coder and go to Stanford to make that dream a reality.

Insomnia Con is a budding coder’s heaven – the chance to code an app all summer long competing for the prize of a life time – having THE Jenny Lindt, powerhouse female coder, help you get your app market ready. Dimple doesn’t believe her frugal parents would ever pay for her to attend Insomnia Con yet how could the plot of the book develop without Dimple going??

According to the summary on the back of the book, “Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic”. He’s also the perfect Indian son. He wants to please his parents, in his wife choice as well as career choice. Rishi has no interest in Insomnia Con, but if it means a chance to meet his future wife – why not? Rishi, his parents, and Dimple’s parents are already writing up the marriage announcement but if I’ve done any justice in describing Dimple, do you think she’ll go along without a fight? You’ll just have to read the book to find out!

Sandhya’s writing style is quick and witty. She artfully pens what it is like to be an Indian-American teenager and the cultural pressures that entails. I know I butchered the Hindi word pronunciation and if I had one “issue” with the book it would be that there wasn’t a pronunciation guide at the back of the book. Instead I just bugged my friend who speaks Hindi endlessly until I was saying the words correctly – sorry not sorry Divya! I loved learning about Indian culture and it was eye opening to see even a small representation of the cultural conflict children of immigrants face. I cannot say it enough – I LOVED THIS BOOK!! It’s unique, quirky, with a realistic and empowered female lead, and REPRESENTATIVE! I learned so much, laughed, cried, and never wanted to leave the vivid world Sandhya crafted.

A Court of Thrones and Roses (ACOTAR) Trilogy

A Court of Thrones and Roses (Book #1)

A Court of Mist and Fury (Book #2)

A Court of Wing and Ruin (Book #3)

By Sarah J. Maas

            …. I am lost for words. The ACOTAR trilogy by Sarah J. Maas took my breath away, had me balling my eyes out, laughing myself silly, and literally running around my house screaming when my Nook began losing power in the last one-hundred pages of final book. I found my Nook charger and plugged it in in time; I know you were worried for me.

Where to begin with this series…where to begin? The first book, A Court of Thrones and Roses, could be described as a take on Beauty and the Beast, but that’s too simplistic of a description in my opinion. Similar to the Disney movie, the book does have a female protagonist, Feyre, and a so called “beast” in the immortal faerie of Tamlin. Feyre is taken away to a magical faerie land, Prythian, against her will in a bargain of sorts similar to one made by Belle for her father. There is also a curse on Tamlin and his people in Prythian like the movie, and there is the potential for romance between Feyre and Tamlin like Belle and the Beast, but the similarities between the movie and book stops here.

Sarah J. Maas is a masterful world builder. She has created three different lands and multiple races of humans and faerie species. She has constructed social orders not only amongst the humans, but the fae as well. She has developed intricate war histories dating back thousands of years. She has crafted various courts for the faeries each with their own personalities, abilities, and reputations. Sarah J. Maas has built a world that consumed me; I was completely transported into their world, and I never wanted to leave. I devoured the first two books within days. I then had a tortuous three month wait in between A Court of Mist and Fury and the release of the final book, A Court of Wings and Ruin. You are lucky. If you’re just starting the trilogy, you can read all three books consecutively.

I am seriously at a loss of words … how can I accurately explain how much I LOVE this trilogy? I can’t. It’s that simple. I will never be able to articulate just how obsessed, enamored, and enthralled I am with these books. There’s intricate plot and character development. A bit of more than PG-13 sex scenes – be warned.  There are harrowing fight scenes and battles that illustrate the grit and grim involved in warfare. Some people might say the first book is slow paced, that it inches to a climax. Fine, say what you will, BUT I will fight you if you say the second and third books in the trilogy are slow. Maybe fifty to a hundred pages in they hit a certain point, and then they are flying. There is a major battle, a new twist in the plot, and something else tugging on your heart strings one thing right after another. I’ve never read a 626 page book as fast as I did when I read A Court of Wings and Ruin. Gaaahhhhhh, I feel a flurry of emotion and odd summersaults in my stomach writing about this trilogy. It’s that good. It’s that consuming. I can proudly say I indoctrinated one of my friends into the ACOTAR Trilogy lifelong fan club; that’s how good this series is. I hope you join us and start reading the books right now! Please let me know if you’ve joined the club in the comments section!

As I’ve reiterated multiple times, I feel like my words fail to express how much these books impacted me. Click the link for a brilliant GIF review a fellow ACOTAR Trilogy lifelong fan club member posted on Goodreads. It accurately describes all I wish to express in images.

 

The Cellar by Natasha Preston

Rose. Poppy. Violet. Lily. Four exceptionally beautiful, pure, and innocent women. A family cultivated by Clover and seemingly perfect in every way. Excluding the fact that all four of these women were kidnapped, renamed, and are being held by Clover in the cellar beneath his home.

the-cellar-review

The Cellar by Natasha Preston follows the story of Summer, a feisty sixteen year old who lives in the boring old town of Long Thorpe, England where nothing exciting happens to anyone, until the day it happens to Summer. Violently abducted and shoved into her kidnappers hidden cellar, Summer is forced to become Lily. She’s thrust into Clover’s “family” along with Rose, Poppy, and Violet because in Clover’s mind he is saving his “flowers” from the corruption and filth that taints the world. He is their protector and deserves their gratitude for his noble work.

Preston writes The Cellar from the point of view of Summer, her boyfriend Lewis, and even her abductor Colin, better known as Clover. The change in perspective allows the reader to put themselves in the shoes of all involved, to try and understand each mindset and their emotional journey. The reader experiences the crushing fear and despair that consumes Summer. They experience the manic drive propelling Lewis in his search for the girl he loves. They enter the deranged and distorted reality of Colin and are able to glimpse the rational he uses to commit different actions and why he believes he’s doing the “right” thing. The way Preston switches between characters is masterful and allows the reader a chance to breath. If there weren’t the changes in perspective or flash backs to before Summer was taken, I know I wouldn’t have been able to finish the book. I felt an overwhelming sense of unease and terror as I read through Summer’s point of view. A pressure built up in my chest as I read through Summer’s fears and feared for her myself. The pressure continued building the longer I read and soon I felt like I was suffocating because although this is a fictitious book, it’s a sad reality of our world that things like this actually happen. The segmenting of the book allows for the reader to step back and remember that the book is a work of fiction. It’s okay to breath.

This book is captivating, exhilarating, and impossible to put down. When I did finish The Cellar, I felt very unsatisfied with the ending until I realized that there was going to be a squeal entitled You’ll Always Be Mine which I plan on starting today. This book will keep you with bated breath, wanting to cry and scream at the same time, and riding a wave of anticipation. If you want to be swaddled in rainbows and butterflies, this is not the book for you. If you find yourself horrified yet fascinated by the heinous acts of this world, this is the book for you.