Blogmas Post Recap

This past December, I completed Blogmas on my blog. I wrote a post for every day in December. Here’s a recap of the posts that I wrote:

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The Summer I Turned Pretty Season One Review

What is The Summer I Turned Pretty?

The Summer I Turned Pretty is a novel by Jenny Han which follows Belly Conklin during the summer which she spends at a beach house with her mother and brother as well as her mother’s best friend and two sons. During previous summers, Belly was usually left out from the boys’ experiences. However, this summer, everything changes. To see my review of the entire trilogy, click here.

The Summer I Turned Pretty (TSITP) is the second trilogy by Jenny Han to be adopted into film. Another series by Han, To All the Boys I Loved Before, was available on Netflix. TSITP, however, is available on Amazon Prime. On one hand, it is exciting that more of Jenny Han’s beloved series are transforming into series or movies. On the other hand, it is becoming increasingly more expensive to spend money on multiple streaming services, which may drawback some fans from watching the series.

Are the Plot Changes Good or Bad?

Whenever a book is adapted to the screen, there are always changes. Overall, I feel like most of the changes from book to screen do not take away from the original series and capture the spirit of the novel. However, there are some changes which I found unnecessary. They didn’t necessarily take away from my enjoyment of the series, but if they weren’t included, I wouldn’t have minded.

In the Amazon Prime series, there are several plots or storylines added which do not appear in the original novel. This is due in part to the show focusing on multiple perspectives, rather than only showing Belly’s storyline. One major part of the television show, which doesn’t appear in the novels, is Belly’s participating in a debutante ball. This story line contains major scenes and pivotal moments within the series. While this storyline isn’t in the book, I found that it really reinforced a major idea within the show: Belly undergoes major changes due to growing up.

There are several other storylines which take place in the show, which do not appear in the novel. Viewers get to see Belly’s older brother develop a relationship with a girl from a wealthy background. Belly’s mother develops a relationship with a local author. On one hand, this allows readers to understand all of the characters in the show better, as opposed to Belly in the books. However, there were some scenes which I found myself wishing to get back to the main story line.

While the television show isn’t a carbon copy of the book, it does capture the same spirit as the novel, which readers will appreciate. However, it also brings some new ideas which freshen up the storyline and make it more relatable for current teenagers, who are the target demographic for the show?

How Were the Characters?

One of the biggest strengths of the TSITP show is the casting. Most of the characters are exactly how I pictured them in the book. Lola Tung captures Belly’s excitement as she grows older and breaks out of her shell. Rain Spencer makes Taylor, Belly’s friend, more likable and comedic. Christopher Briney embodied Conrad’s broodiness. Jackie Chung and Rachel Blanchard had excellent chemistry as Laurel and Susannah that you wanted to be friends with them too.

The only character who was slightly different than I envisioned when reading was Jeremiah. In the books, Jeremiah becomes a frat boy later on, so I always imagined him more like a frat boy of the era in which the book was being published. However, I did like the changes to his character, and if I think the book was written now, Jeremiah would have been written like he appears in the show. Gavin Casalegno, the actor who portrays Jeremiah, gives his character a “golden retriever” personality which helps to really set him apart from Conrad.

Final Thoughts

Overall, TSITP is a fun series which readers of the original series and people who haven’t read the book before will equally enjoy. While there were some changes from the book to the screen, I didn’t mind the changes and thought they provided a good update to the original series. I highly recommend this Amazon Prime series and give it five out of five stars.

From Blood and Ash Review

From Blood and Ash, the first book in the Blood and Ash series by Jennifer L. Armentrout, follows Poppy, an untouchable Maiden bound to follow orders from society before her Ascension. When a new and mysterious guard, Hawke, becomes closer to Poppy, she begins to question the rigid rules thrust on her by the leaders of her land.

I picked up From Blood and Ash because it is always recommended to fans of the Court of Thorns and Roses series. While I do see some similarities, From Blood and Ash didn’t completely immerse me in the world like A Court of Thorns and Roses did. While I did enjoy aspects of From Blood and Ash, I am not completely sold on picking up the next book in the series.

One aspect of this book that readers may enjoy are the characters. Poppy and Hawke are reminiscent of many other characters in this genre, so readers may like the dynamic which plays out between them. At the same time, this makes Poppy and Hawke rather unremarkable among a sea of similar characters within the same market. If you like a female character who likes to fight and can be a little stubborn, then you will probably like Poppy. If you like a male love interest who is charming with a little edge, then you will probably like Hawke.

On the other hand, some of the interactions between Poppy and Hawke reminded me a lot of the scenes we reflect on from ten years ago and no longer view as romantic but as signs of an unhealthy relationship. I found this to mostly be true at the end of the story after a large plot twist is revealed. A lot of information is withheld from Poppy throughout the story and this overwhelming amount of information comes forward largely at the end of the book. Not only is Poppy enduring some traumatic experiences, but she is also very confused about her feelings towards Hawke, and I do not feel that Hawke respects her boundaries during this time. To me, the ending presented a very uneven power dynamic between Poppy and Hawke, which is not a type of relationship which I like to read.

As for the story itself, there were some aspects that I liked and others which could have been improved. Overall, the story was fairly easy to read. The structure of the world was easy to understand. At the same time, there weren’t many surprises as the twists were fairly easy to figure out.

Additionally, I had some issues with the pacing. From Blood and Ash reminded me of A Court of Thorns and Roses and The Winner’s Curse in some regards to story structure. For about 60-75% of the book, the story takes place in the same setting with the same characters and same social structure. Then, for the last quarter of the book, it takes place in a completely different setting with new characters introduced and a new person in charge. For me, this worked in A Court of Thorns and Roses for several reasons: we already knew a little bit about the new characters appearing on the page and after a lot of world building in the first part of the book, the action finally picked up. However, like with A Winner’s Curse, this actually did From Blood and Ash a disservice. The last quarter of this book felt too different from the rest of the book. Readers get immersed in a whole new cast of characters, a whole new power dynamic, and a whole new social structure in too short of a time. For me, it felt like this book needed a little bit of editing to end the book a little sooner and move some of the end of the book to the next book in the series so it wasn’t as rushed.

Overall, From Blood and Ash was an average read to me. I can see why readers who are a fan of this genre would pick it up. However, I find that is falls short when selling readers to continue this series. I give this book three out of five stars.

Love Her or Lose Her Book Review

I didn’t love this book and I wish the series could lose it out of the line-up.

Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey follows Rosie Vega who has been having issues in her marriage with her high school sweetheart, Dominic. Frustrated by their lack of communication, Rosie decides to leave Dominic and only agrees to try and repair their relationship if he goes to counseling with her.

Love Her and Lose Her would have to be my least favorite book out of all the books within this companion series. For me, this book had a lot of potential, but it fell flat in many areas of the plot and character development. While I consider this series to be generally fun, there were several aspects of how characters and situations played out that made me feel more uncomfortable than anything else.

Love Her or Lose Her (Hot & Hammered, #2)

Usually with the books in this series, I am generally like the leads about the same. However, in this book, I strongly liked Rosie a lot more than Dominic. I think Rosie acted a lot more realistically than Dominic, particularly during therapy when she realized that she also played a role in the broken marriage between her and Dominic.

On the other hand, there were many aspects of Dominic that I didn’t really like. I thought Dominic’s backstory was interesting: he is an army veteran. I thought this would be a large part of their story and explain a lot of Dominic’s current behavior, unfortunately, this aspect wasn’t really explored in the book. There were some aspects of Dominic’s behavior that I did not enjoy and made me uncomfortable. Dominic definitely exudes “alpha male” behavior, which I thought was often excused as him being protective. For example, Dominic paid for a security officer at the mall where Rosie worked to make sure she got into her safely and didn’t tell her. This is presented as being his love language which is “acts of service.” He even bought a house, without telling Rosie, and kept it a secret from her for several years. There are other instances, like when Rosie is trying to leave and tells Dominic multiple times, but he still tries to get her to engage in intimate aspects of their relationship. Due to several instances that left me uncomfortable, I was not sold with Dominic as a romantic lead.

Another aspect of this book that fell short for me was the character and plot development. Around the same time that I read this book, I read The Bromance Book Club, which is also about another struggling marriage. In that book, I felt like the characters showed a lot of development emotionally, so it was natural how they progressed back into a relationship that was different than before, but still loving. In this book, the pacing and scenes were all off for me. I thought the therapy sessions would be a big deal, but they ended about halfway through the book. Most of the scenes in this book just reiterated how the couple didn’t have healthy communication, but were just so physically attracted to each other. For the most part, the characters just started doing thing for the other’s “love language.” However, even these scenes were few and far between. By the end of the book, it was difficult for me to believe that they made any significant changes to their relationship.

Overall, Love Her and Lose Her wasn’t the fun romance that I expected. For a romance book to work, you have to see the romantic leads and compatible and believe that they could work off the page which I found to be lacking in this book. I give this book one out of five stars.

Fix Her Up Book Review

This book just needed a few renovations to be perfect.

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey follows Georgette “Georgie” Castle who fake dates former baseball player and childhood crush Travis Ford so people will think she is more mature and to help him score a commentating job. While the two agree to keep the fake relationship casual, the situation becomes more confusing when the two start to develop feelings for each other.

Fix Her Up (Hot & Hammered, #1)

For me, Georgie was a very relatable character. Even though Georgie is grown up and has her own job, people in her family don’t take her seriously and can’t see her as anything but a little girl. Georgie is generally a likable character, although some readers may find her over bubbly personality a little bit annoying at times. The other lead, Travis, is similar to Georgie. I didn’t mind him (except when he kept calling Georgie pet names), but there isn’t anything that makes him necessarily stand out from other romantic leads for me. I wish the author would have dived a little bit more into his backstory.

As for the story, the beginning was strong for me, but the end needed a little “fixing up.” I have noticed a pattern within books by Tessa Bailey which sometimes irritates me, but after reading several of her books, I have come to expect it. Once the characters admit their feelings for each other, it seems like there is only is a large emphasis on the physical aspect of the relationship and the characters start to become more one dimensional. The “all is lost” moment is the story is usually isn’t as large or dramatic as I would expect and then the recovery from the all is lost moment always feels rushed to me.

That being said, Fix Her Up is a fun and quick read. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book even though it ends up with an average overall rating for me. I give this book 3.5 stars out of five stars.

Spoiler Alert Review

Spoiler alert: This is one of the most well done fandom books that I’ve read in awhile.

Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade follows April, a fan-fiction writer of a popular Greek-inspired show, who goes on a date with the leading actor, Marcus Castor-Rupp, after a tweet of her cosplay goes viral. While April and Marcus grow closer, Marcus harbors a secret that could ruin their relationship and his reputation. Marcus, like April, writes fan fiction that slams the television show that he stars in and his online persona regularly interacts with April, but she doesn’t know it.

Image result for spoiler alert book

I have read several books that involve fandom and they usually fall short for me. In most of the books, the main character harbors an unhealthy obsession with whatever book, show, or movie that they enjoy. This could include dehumanize actors in the show or using unsafe methods to find their haters in real life among many other unhealthy depictions. While fandoms can, and often do, have a dark side, I find that the positive side of fandoms are rarely featured.

Fortunately for me, this book takes an opposite approach, which was one of the aspects that I enjoyed most in this novel. While there some aspects of this book that did fall flat for me, I overall enjoyed my reading experience and I think this book has many elements that will appeal to many different readers.

As I mentioned earlier, one of my favorite parts of this book was April’s involvement in her fandom. In all of April’s interactions, she never dehumanizes the actors on her favorite shows and delivers thoughtful criticisms on the shows problematic elements. For example, when April goes on her initial date with Marcus, she is open and upfront about the fan fiction that she writes. Additionally, after she meets him in person, she changes the way that she describes the appearance of his character in her work, because after interacting with him personally, she doesn’t want it to seem like she is inserting him instead of the character into her work.

Another aspect of this book that I enjoyed was the body positivity in this book. April is plus-size and receives a lot of hateful comments after her date with Marcus. However, April always stands up for herself and sets clear expectations for how she should be treated. I appreciated how this extended to her fandom as well. April feels connected to Lavinia, her favorite character from the show, who is often put down for her appearance. A lot of times in books with fandoms, I don’t understand why the main character is so attached to a book, show, or movie. However, in this book, the connection is clear and meaningful.

I also enjoyed the background that readers receive on April and Marcus, especially regarding their parents and childhood. While April was belittled by her parents for her appearance, Marcus was treated as unintelligent by his parents because he had dyslexia. As the book goes on, April and Marcus begin to set clear boundaries with their parents of what they will and will not tolerate. I don’t often see this in adult books, but it is very much part of the adult experience, so I appreciated its inclusion within this novel.

While I did enjoy aspects of this novel, there were some issues that impacted my reading experience. For me, this book moved extremely slow. I found myself putting this book down and picking it up multiple times because some of the scenes seemed to drag on way too long. Additionally, I found many of the scenes and interactions in this book extremely repetitive, so it felt like it took awhile for the story to progress. When the story finally seemed to get moving, the ending was wrapped up quickly and abruptly. Additionally, I found too much of the end to be focused on a different character, who I imagine to have their own spin-off, which has been one of my pet peeves this year in adult romance books bound to become companion series.

Overall, Spoiler Alert is a fun book with a good message and a positive depiction of fan culture. I give this book three out of five stars.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Events that I Would Like to Go to Someday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is book events/festivals that I would like to go to some day. Since I am a huge homebody, I don’t really like to go to huge events or festivals. Consequently, I decided to include some fictional book events/activities or author signings that I would like to visit:

  • Sarah J. Maas Author Signing
A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)
  • Camping in the California forests (Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett)
Starry Eyes
  • See Romeo and Juliet performed live (Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Brocka)
Always Never Yours
  • Sarah Dessen Author Signing
The Moon and More
  • Eat at Big League Burgers and Girl Cheesin’ (Tweet Cute by Emma Lord)
Tweet Cute
  • Go boating (Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett)
Chasing Lucky
  • Spend the summer at a lake house (The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen)
The Rest of the Story
  • Flip a house (Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey)
Tools of Engagement (Hot & Hammered, #3)
  • Go to a book signing for January and August (Beach Read by Emily Henry)
Beach Read
  • Meg Cabot Author Signing
The Princess Diaries (The Princess Diaries, #1)

What book events/festivals would you like to visit?

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Smile by Raina Telgemeier Review

The message in this book will make you smile.

Smile by Raina Telgemeier is a graphic novel memoir inspired by the author’s experience as a middle school student who received extensive dental work after an accident that took out her two front teeth. After the accient, Raina loses a lot of self-confidence, but as she grows older, she becomes more confident in herself and learns what is truly important.

Smile

I remember when this book came out around ten years ago because I literally saw it everywhere. I don’t remember graphic novels being as huge at the time, and as someone who strictly read contemporary YA at the time, I never picked it up. Now that I’m older, I have expanded my reading, and recently, I’ve been trying to pick up more books targeted for middle grade.

In the past few years, I’ve read quite a few graphic novels that I enjoyed, like El Deafo by Cece Bell and Best Friends by Shannon Hale, both of which are graphic novel memoirs. I was pleasantly surprised that Smile is also a graphic novel memoir, as I didn’t know this when it became popular so long ago. While Smile isn’t my favorite graphic novel, I still think it has a valuable message as well as relatable characters for the graphic novel’s target audience.

As someone who has never had braces, or any major dental work besides removing my wisdom teeth, I appreciated how Telgemeier explained a lot of the dental work that she received in this book. While I’ve seen other people get braces, I have never personally felt the physical pain that they can cause or how they may affect how someone feels about their appearance. I think Telgemeier’s explanations, especially regarding her emotions on her appearance, makes the book relatable to many readers. Even if you have never had braces, in middle school there are a lot of people who feel self conscious about how they look for a multitude of reasons, and it is comforting to read that you’re not the only person who felt that way.

I also enjoyed how Raina grew as a person throughout her experience with braces and as a student in middle school. At the beginning of the graphic novel, Raina’s “friends” frequently make fun of her and walk all over her. However, as she grows older and gains more confidence, she stands up for herself and becomes more comfortable in her skin. Even though this book doesn’t take place in 2020, it is still a relevant message that is important for young readers to hear.

Overall, Smile is a quick read with a relatable and positive message for young readers. While it wasn’t my favorite graphic novel, it is still a solid story, especially for the target audience. I give Smile three out of five stars and I look forward to checking out more graphic novels by this author.

Independence Day Book Tag

Happy Fourth of July to all of my American followers! Since today is Independence Day, I thought I would celebrate by completing the Independent Day Book Tag. Here are my answers (I am not sure who started this tag. If you know, please link to their social media down below so I can credit them!):

  • Show three books you have already read (one red, one white, and one blue)
Tweet Cute

How about one with all three? Tweet Cute was one of the first books that I read this year due to all the hype surrounding this 2020 contemporary release. While this book was only average for me, it has been one of the most buzzed about contemporary books this year.

Tweet Cute follows Pepper and Jack, the children of two rival food companies who start a Twitter war using their respective family’s business accounts.

  • A book with your favorite “rag-tag” band of revolutionaries
Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle #2)

A “rag tag” band of revolutionaries is one of my favorite tropes. This year, I’ve read the first two books in the Aurora Cycle which definitely features a cast of unlikely heroes who try to save the galaxy. While I loved the first book a lot more than the second book, I’m still interested to see the adventures that this group goes on in the next installment of this series.

Aurora Rising, the first book in this series, follows Aurora who wakes up 200 years after she was cryogenically frozen for a mission to space. However, when she wakes up, all the history of the colony that she was supposed to land on has been erased.

  • Show a book that takes place in one of the 13 original colonies
The Rest of the Story

All of Sarah Dessen’s books take place in fictional places in North Carolina, which is one of the 13 original colonies. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book after being disappointed by a couple of her other recent releases. This is the perfect book to read during Independence Day: it is set a lake during the summertime!

The Rest of the Story follows Emma Saylor, who visits the family on her mother’s side at the lake where the live, years after her mother passed away.

  • Show a book that takes place in England
Again, but Better

I bought this book several months ago… and still haven’t gotten around to reading it! I am always interested in picking up books by Booktubers, so I’m excited to give this one a try (eventually).

Again, But Better follows Shane, who lives a life that is way too predictable, so she decides to spend a semester abroad.

  • Time for fireworks! What book(s) end with a bang?
The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2)

The Folk of the Air series has plenty of twists and turns, but the end of this book was the most shocking to me. I couldn’t believe that I had to wait to see how the series ended!

The Folk of the Air series, starting with The Cruel Prince, follows Jude, a human girl, who lives in a world of faeries. It angers Jude that the faeries see her as lesser than, so she will do whatever she can to get a place at court.

  • Show three books you would like to read (one red, one white, and one blue)
The Parker Inheritance

Once again, I have selected a book with all three colors! I’ve been starting to read more middle grade and I’ve heard a lot of positive reviews for The Parker Inheritance, so it definitely has a high spot on my middle grade TBR.

The Parker Inheritance follows Candice, who discovers a letter that leads to a fortune for whoever can solve the puzzle.

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Summer Book Tag

Summer is now in full swing, so it is the perfect time to complete the summer book tag! I could not find the creator of this tag, but if you know who created it, please leave their blog in the comments so I can credit them. Here are my answers:

  • What book cover makes you think of summer?
Beach Read

How could this book cover not make me think of summer? The title has beach in all capital letters with two people reading books on beach towels. The cover is also bright yellow which makes me think of the sun. While this cover isn’t exactly accurate with what lies in the book, it is definitely reminiscent of the summertime.

  • What book brightened your day?
Starry Eyes

I read through Starry Eyes in one day. If you are looking for a summer book that isn’t beach, then this one will be perfect for you! This book takes place in state parks of California and made me want to go camping this summer.

  • Find a book with yellow on the cover.
The Unhoneymooners

This book takes place in the wintertime, but also in Hawaii, so it still seems very summery to me. It also has a very yellow background with a lot of different flowers on the front which remind me of the summertime.

  • What is your favorite summer beach read?
Along for the Ride

Sarah Dessen’s books have been a summer staple of mine since high school. Colby Beach is mentioned throughout her books, but this is one of the few that primarily takes place there. I feel like this prompt was leaning towards what books do you read at the beach, but for me, it makes me think of books that take place on a beach. Reading this book makes me want to go to the beach, even if most of the book doesn’t take place directly on the water.

  • What action book had you running for the ice cream man?
Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle, #1)

Aurora Rising was a slow-moving book for many people, but I was hooked the entire time. I don’t typically read books in this genre, but there were so many twists and turns that I couldn’t stop reading. The authors of this book definitely don’t do things just to please the audience and I was constantly surprised at what happened next.

  • Sunburn! What book has a bad/painful ending?
Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle #2)

This book has both a bad and painful ending. The characters in this book are in constant jeopardy and after the first book, you know these authors aren’t going to make it easy for them or the readers which I like. On the other hand, this book lands on a major cliff hanger which really annoyed me. Even though it is part of a series, this book didn’t really have much going on until the very end and it feels like I got cheated as a reader because I still think books in a series should have their own definite end.

  • What book gave you a happy feeling when it ended?
Tools of Engagement (Hot & Hammered, #3)

I think what made me happy about this book was the character growth in the main character, Bethany. She constantly felt pressure to be perfect and meet everyone else’s expectations, but in the end, she started to make choices based on what she wanted. I found myself very similar to Bethany in that regard, so relating to her story put a smile on m6 face.

  • What book cover reminds you of a sunset?
Four Days of You and Me

This book literally has every color of the perfect sunset. It also is about a relationship and how their high school years are winding down which makes me thinking of the sun setting on that chapter of their lives.

  • What book series do you hope to read this summer?
The Betrothed (The Betrothed, #1)

This is the first book in a new series by Kiera Cass. I bought this book when it was released, but haven’t read it yet. I am trying to get caught up on all the Kindle books that I have bought recently, so I hope to knock this one of the list this summer

What books do you hope to read by the end of the summer?

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