Tag Archives: fiction

The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon

IMG_9531The characters in this were beautiful and I wanted to learn even more about them beyond the pages we have. The Sun is also a Star centers around the meeting of Daniel, a Korean American teenager who is supposed to be on his way to an admissions interview at Yale, and Natasha, a Jamaican teenager who is trying to overturn her family’s deportation. Their paths unexpectedly cross during a day that both of their futures could completely change. They somehow fall in love in the span of that single day, which was a bit too cutesy and unrealistic for me, but an enjoyable read nevertheless. If you want a bit of fluff with some great characters that you’ll want to root for, I recommend this to you!

Publication Date: 1 November 2016 by Delacorte PressFormat: Kindle ebook.

Author: Nicola Yoon web/@twitter/tumblr/@instagram

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The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

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I absolutely adored Hoang’s debut The Kiss Quotient and found myself eager to pick up The Bride Test, which picks up with Khai, a tangential character in The Kiss Quotient who has autism. During a trip to Vietnam, Khai’s mother found Esme, a Vietnamese woman that Khai’s mother asks to come to America to potentially marry her son. Esme leaves her family, including her daughter, for a summer of work, cohabitation, and a glimpse of the American dream in sunny California. I loved reading things from Esme’s point of view and learning about her, but I found Khai to be a bit grating. Luckily, the reader does get brief glimpses at what the future had in store for the main characters in The Kiss Quotient through Khai’s cousin Michael who appears now a

nd again. While I loved Hoang’s debut, I merely liked her follow up. Because I was less interested in one of the main characters (in comparison to liking both in The Kiss Quotient), I was less excited to read the sexy scenes and the romance.

Disclaimer: I was provided with an advance reader’s copy of this book for free from Penguin Random House. All opinions expressed in the review are my own and have not been influenced by Penguin Random House.

Publication Date: 7 May 2019 by BerkleyFormat: Paperback ARC.

Author: Helen Hoang web/@instagram/facebook/@twitter

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

9C65C533-072A-4C7E-A84B-34373632D823How did I make it through this much of my life without reading this book??? As I was wrapping up my 2018 of reading, I decided to throw in the classic To Kill a Mockingbird to finally tackle this well known favorite.

To Kill a Mockingbird follows the world of young Scout, her elder brother Jem, and their father Atticus as he defends a black man in the deep American south during the 1930s. This book is full of racial tensions, gendered expectations, and many good lessons. I can’t imagine reading this and grasping its depths entirely as a child, but I wish I had. I wish I had informed classroom discussions about this context and its relation to actual American history. I found it to be absolutely riveting as an adult and if you are one of the few who haven’t yet read it, borrow a friend’s copy. I’m sure they’d be happy to lend it to you and to have in-depth conversations about it as soon as you’re finished.

Publication Date: 11 July 1960 by J. B. Lippincott & Co. (original). Format: Paperback by Grand Central Publishing.

Author: Harper Lee bio

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

Screen Shot 2018-12-09 at 1.47.34 PMThe Proposal by Jasmine Guillory is delightful and charming … and hits almost exactly every single note of her debut The Wedding Date. Is that a problem? You decide. 

The entire plot has all of the same markers as Guillory’s debut (see my previous review to compare) — two adorable characters are attracted to each other, but don’t think they’re ready for a relationship so they lightly enjoy each other’s company under the guise of not becoming too attached until… suddenly! they are too attached and maybe they actually do want to be in a relationship and love each other, et cetera. 

Guillory packages the same story nicely with darling characters that I enjoy — I loved all of the auxiliary characters and their personalities just as much as the main characters (and maybe they’ll even be the central character in a future book? The kickboxing instructor alone made me want to quit my current kickboxing gym to seek her out as my trainer). The book opens on our two main characters who meet during a botched, public proposal. We follow Carlos, the best friend of one of the leads from The Wedding Date who is a pediatrician and helms his Mexican-American family, and Nikole, a freelance writer who is black and has a gaggle of cute girlfriends that she adventures with in the city. 

The book is perfectly packaged sweetness that delivers the same story and vibe as The Wedding Date. In the same way that romcoms often hit the same notes and can be exactly what you’re seeking, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you’re wanting to recreate reading Guillory’s debut. However, for me, The Wedding Date was too fresh in my mind and I couldn’t stop comparing their similarities. If I hadn’t read both of Guillory’s novels in the same year, I might have felt differently. But could I see myself picking up her next book when I need something cute, cozy, and familiar to read? Definitely. 

Publication Date: 30 October 2018 by Berkley BooksFormat: Paperback.

Author: Jasmine Guillory web/@twitter/@instagram/facebook

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

image1 (19)Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler follows Tess, a 22-year-old white woman who flees her old life in favor of starting afresh in New York City and “discovering” herself. Within days of arriving in the city, she lands a job at a very in demand restaurant in Manhattan, despite only having barista experience in whatever town she was in before. The book is all about the whirlwind, yet very contained life this job lands her in.

The lead character, Tess, perpetually whines and wants people to take her seriously as a “real person”, fitting the stereotype of many people I met at this age in NYC. While Tess’s own actions are annoying, you’re not met to necessarily be rooting for her — she moves to New York to be a more exciting person than she used to be, but she spends all of her time working in a restaurant without exploring the city or her own interests while living in the city. Tess throws herself into the restaurant world, with all of the learning about fine dining and the hooking up and the drugs and alcohol that follow restaurant workers into the early hours of the morning. 

The story is mostly about a young woman who immediately gets usurped into a specific restaurant’s world and the strange rules and practices of those who have been at the restaurant for years and view it as the center of the universe. These characters are pretentious and I found the story absolutely delectable. I’m looking forward to watching the TV adaptation soon.

Publication Date: 24 May 2016 by KnopfFormat: Hardcover.

Author: Stephanie Danler web/@instagram/@twitter

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

Screen Shot 2018-11-25 at 1.04.42 PMThe Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald was passed down to me via my best friend’s mom who is very into libraries and book clubs, which once you know the contents of this plot, somehow totally makes sense.

The story centers around a visitor from Sweden coming to stay with her bookish penpal in a slow moving town in Iowa. The visitor, Sara, stays for a few months and decides to open a bookstore in the town as a way to rally the community together. She falls in love with the the bookstore, the town, and its inhabitants along the way. The entire book was charming and fluffy and had absolutely no drama. Aka when you’re wanting to get away from the terrifying news cycle, this is a perfect way to zap your brain into a cozy little town that won’t stress you out. 

The entire novel is incredibly book-centric. Sara finds her penpal from selling books internationally and starting a message chain about books with another book lover. Sara is constantly talking about books in her inner monologues and with others, even those who aren’t typical readers, sometimes giving away major plot lines of classics that you may not have read yet yourself (this didn’t bother me, but it may bother some readers). Everything is about books books books and I could see many readers wanting to get swept away with a protagonist who is just reading reading reading all of the time.

While the story was cozy, pieces of it did feel very heavy handed — there are bits about racism, queerness, etc. that feel very pointed and proud, but also strangely forced. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a story about a small town, but really mostly about a visiting reader and her constant bookish comparisons. If you’re looking for something with a bit of charm and no harm, this is a book for you.  

Publication Date: 19 January 2016 by SourcebooksFormat: Paperback.

Author: Katarina Bivald web/@twitter

 

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 12.01.41 PMThis book is one of the rare books on my to-read list that a ton of the people I follow have already read and rated it extremely favorably, so when I was scrounging for a new book to read it was an obvious fit.

In All the Light We Cannot See, a historical fiction book about multiple characters in Europe during World War II, the sentences are absolutely beautiful. The characters are nuanced, and the plot mainly revolving around two adolescents: one is the French Marie-Laure who is blind and must move around and rely on others to help her live during the treacherous times, but is also shielded from how severe some things are because of her lack of sight, and one is the German Werner who is an orphan and is plucked up to join a school that funnels boys into the German military because of his keen interest and intelligence about circuitry and radios.

The stories of the two adolescents, and those who touch their lives is brilliant. I loved the details of nearly every character that was introduced as they all navigate their very different lives, yet move forward in parallel with the war being a steady, terrible event that unifies each of their lives. A theme of mysticism runs throughout one of the storylines and adds some interesting, dramatic turns to the story as well.

The chapters of All the Light We Cannot See are short, which makes it feel like you can control the pacing of this 500+ page book and not feel like you need to push through to finish an idea. In a huge book, this can (and did for me!) make the novel more enjoyable because it’s easy to pick up and put down, without feeling lost the next time you pick it up again. However, the length is what causes this to not be 5 stars for me. Did I enjoy this book thoroughly while I was reading it? Absolutely. Did I enjoy it enough to foist upon another person to read 500+ pages without mentioning the length as a caveat? Unfortunately, no. But if the book already sounds intriguing to you, you should definitely add it to your list for 500+ pages of captivating story.

Publication Date: 6 May 2014 by ScribnerFormat: E-book.

Author: Anthony Doerr web/facebook