Blogmas Day #11: ‘Tis the Season Book Tag

blogmas

On the eleventh day of Blogmas, a book reviewer gave to me… the ’tis the season book tag!

  • Do you have a favorite winter read?

One of my favorite winter reads is Secret Santa by Sabrina James. While a little cliche, I have read it numerous times since high school and still find it as enjoyable as the first time that I read it. Secret Santa follows several student at a high school as they participate in their school’s Secret Santa gift exchange.

  • Find a book with blue on the cover.

A book that I read this year with blue on the cover was Real Friends. Real Friends is a graphic novel that details Shannon Hale’s real life changing friendships during middle school. This book is a great read for anyone, but it would be particularly powerful for current middle schools student who are going through changing friendships.

  • Find a book that you’d use as a star on a Christmas tree

I would put Maybe This Time by Kasie West on top of a Christmas tree. I gave this book five stars and it was one of my favorite contemporary reads of the year, so it would shine brightly on top of a tree.

  • Pick one fictional place that would be perfect for a winter holiday

I would love to visit Whoville during Christmas since they are known for their Christmas celebrations. Plus, it would fun to meet the Grinch!

  • Pick one fictional character you’d take with you on your holiday

A character that I would take with me to Whoville is Sophie from Maybe This Time. She loves to design clothes, so I think she would be very inspired by the setting and people who reside in Whoville during Christmas.

  • Name one book on your wish list this year

This year, I would prefer an Amazon gift card as opposed to a physical book. I don’t have much space left on my shelves, and I read more on my Kindle anyway, so it would make more sense for me to ask for an Amazon gift card so I can purchase more e-books for my Kindle.

  • Favorite holiday drink, treat, and movie

I’m not usually a fan of warm drinks, however, I’m a huge fan of limited time drinks at Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. I also do enjoy hot chocolate with whip cream and extra toppings. As for treats, I always enjoy baking cookies with my grandma and sister every year on Christmas Eve. For movies, there are so many that I love to watch year after year. Home Alone 2 and Elf could be considered two of my favorites.

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Snow In Love Book Review

book review

Snow in Love

Snow in Love is a Christmas/holiday short story collection featuring short stories by Melissa de la Cruz, Nic Stone, Aimee Friedman, and Kasie West. I was initially excited to read this collection since it featured, Kasie West, one of my favorite YA contemporary authors. Overall, this is a cute short story collection for the winter. However, like other YA short story collection, there are some stories that fare better than others. Here are my opinions on each short story in the collection:

Snow and Mistletoe by Kasie West

Snow and Mistletoe follows Amalie, who is returning home after leaving her semester abroad early. Once her flight is canceled, it appears she has no way home for Christmas. However, Amalie runs into Sawyer, a classmate from high school, who offers her a ride home with his sister and friends.

This is a classic Kasie West story and I would not have minded in Kasie West expanded this story into a full book. This story is cute, albeit predictable, and will make you smile. This is the largest book in the collection (I believe) and it was definitely my favorite out of the bunch. This story was paced well and had a satisfying ending compared to some other stories in this collection. I give this story four out of five stars.

Working in a Winter Wonderland by Aimee Friedman

Working in a Winter Wonderland follows Maxine, a Jewish girl who decides to take the rolf of an elf in a department store to get closer to her crush and earn enough money for a beautiful dress for New Year’s Eve.

This was definitely my least favorite story out of the collection. There seemed to be a lot of unnecessary descriptions that I found myself skimming over. Also, the pacing was off which made the ending feel rushed. I also didn’t buy the romance in this one since the love interest switches before the story ends. I think this story tried to do too much in a short amount of time. I give this story two stars out of five stars.

The Magi’s Gifts by Melissa de la Cruz

In the Magi’s Gifts, a high school couple prepares to attend a swanky holiday party. Additionally, they struggle to find the perfect gifts for each other with a limited budget. This story closely follows the original story it is based on, so you can probably guess the rest from there.

After reading a lot of reviews for this story, it seems like most people consider in their least favorite in the collection. For me, I actually enjoyed it although it doesn’t particularly stand out to me. Compared to another holiday story I read by this author, I enjoyed this one far more. I think this story is cute, even though I questioned how much the main character actually liked the love interest for who he was. I give this three out of five stars.

Grounded by Nic Stone

Grounded follows Leigh, who is stuck in an airport in Atlanta after a snowstorm delays her flight. Her mother suggests she meets up with Harper, another girl stuck in the airport. From there, Leigh creates a scavenger hunt for the other girl to complete before they finally meet up.

Like with The Magi’s Gifts, this was another average read in the collection for me. I liked the idea of the scavenger hunt and I thought it paced the story well. However, compared to some of the other stories in the collection, it lacked the holiday feel. Like with The Magi’s Gifts, it was also a quick and easy read. I give this story three out of five stars.

 

When I look at Snow in Love compared to other holiday collections, I overall enjoyed more of the stories in this collection than others (for example My True Love Gave to Me). I appreciated that this only featured four stories compared to other lengthy collection because it was easy to get through, especially when I encountered a story that wasn’t my favorite. Overall, I give Snow in Love three out of five stars.

 

Which was your favorite story in this collection?

Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West Review

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Listen to your heart… read this book!

Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West follows Kate Bailey, a lake-loving introvert whose life takes a dramatic turn when she’s forced to become a host on her school’s advice podcast. When an anonymous guy calls in for relationship advice, Kate is convinced it is her best friend Alana’s crush Diego looking for scoop on how to win her heart. Kate is excited to help out her friend… until she starts to develop feelings for Diego herself.

When it comes to Kasie West’s books, her books fall into two categories for me. There are books that I absolutely love and others that I consider fairly average. While I did enjoy Listen to Your Heart, it definitely fell more into the average category for me. That being said, this is still a cute YA book that was perfect to read during the summertime despite its beginning of the school year setting.

Like many of Kasie West’s other characters, the characters in this book aren’t something new or original for YA contemporary. To me, all of her characters are like ones you would see straight out of a high school teen movie. The characters in Listen to Your Heart are no different. Bailey is the shy, sarcastic main character. Her best friend is girly and outgoing. Diego is a sweet and likable love interest. While nothing too out of the box, I think readers of Kasie West will expect typical characters that make her books easy and light reads.

One aspect of the book that I think West did a nice job of putting a twist on is the YA love triangle. In this book, both Bailey and her best friend Alana develop feelings for the same guy. In most YA books, this would completely destroy their friendships, lead to cat fights in the school hallway, and mean posts online. However, Bailey and Alana showed a lot a maturity towards the situation and made sure not to throw away their strong friendship for a crush. I really appreciated this aspect of the book and think it would give a good message to younger readers who find themselves in the same situation.

Another aspect of this book that I really appreciated was how large a role the podcast not only played in the story, but it’s larger theme. Bailey has always stated that the lake is her life and she will run her family’s lake rental business when she grows older. While it is amazing to have a female character who has such an unwavering outlook on her goals, it was nice to see the message that it’s also okay to branch out and find other ventures in your life that you life. I think it’s great that this book shows a balance of being confident in who you are and what you want to do in life, but that is also important open yourself up to new experiences.

Overall, Listen to Your Heart is a cute and easy-to-read YA contemporary. Although not my favorite Kasie West book, this book still provided an enjoyable reading experience. I give this book three out of five stars.

Love, Life, and the List Review

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It would take forever to list what I love about this book.

Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West follows aspiring artist Abby Turner after her paintings are declined from a local art show for lacking heart. To improve her painting, Abby develops a list to experience more in life with her best friend and long-time crush, Cooper.

After reading all of Kasie West’s contemporaries, I find that I either absolutely love her books or only find them okay. Either way, they are still extremely fun to read for their fluffy content. I’m happy to say that Love, Life, and the List falls into my “love” category of Kasie West’s books and my be my new favorite out of her books.

One problem I tend to have with Kasie West’s books is the pacing. Sometimes, the book will have a slow start, and once it finally picks up, everything will be wrapped up quickly at the end. While some aspects of this book were rushed at the end, overall, I found the pacing much more even in Love, Life, and the List. This book flowed a lot easier than some of her other books, which kept me turning the pages until it was done.

Another aspect of this book that I really enjoyed with the characters. While I never have any major issues with characters in Kasie West’s book, they can sometimes be forgettable. However, Abby and Cooper really stuck out to me among other couples in Kasie West’s books. I think since I’ve seen similar situations to Abby and Cooper’s relationship play out in real life, I had a greater connection with their story. Plus, they were both extremely relatable and likable characters.

However, I think my favorite aspects of this book was Abby’s character growth. In the beginning of the book, Abby will literally do anything to make Cooper happy and to keep his attention, but he never puts in the same effort. I liked how Abby learned to stand her ground and find friends and other things she loves outside of Cooper’s orbit. I think this is a great message for Kasie West’s target audience.

Overall, Love, Life, and the List has been one of my favorite reads so far of the year. It makes me even more excited for Kasie West’s book released later this year and the rest of the books in this companion series. I give Love, Life, and the List five out of five stars.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2018

top ten

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is books I’m looking forward to in 2018. Here are my top ten choices:

  • Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West

Listen to Your Heart

Kasie West quickly became one of my favorite contemporary authors in 2017. I know she has a lot of books up her sleeve, so I can’t wait to read this release next year!

  • Wires and Nerve Vol. 2: Gone Rogue by Marissa Meyer

Wires and Nerve, Volume 2: Gone Rogue

More Lunar Chronicles! More Iko! How could I not be excited?

  • Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely

Gunslinger Girl

Gunslinger Girl sounds like a book that’s right up my alley. A girl goes to a lawless city in the west after a second Civil War in the United States. This book has an interesting premise, so I’ll be interested to see how it plays out in the book.

  • More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer

More Than We Can Tell

Letters to the Lost was one of my favorite contemporary books of the year, so I definitely have high expectations for Brigid Kemmerer’s next book, More Than We Can Tell. I’m particularly excited for this book because it follows Rev, one of the minor but most interesting characters in Letters to the Lost.

  • Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1)

With a con man and city of sins, the description of this book brings me the same feelings of Six of Crows. Since I loved Six of Crows, I have high hopes that I will love this book too!

  • A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.5)

I loved A Court of Thorns and Roses and was sad to say goodbye to the characters. With a few open-ended parts of the story, I’m excited to see what direction Sarah J. Maas will move this series towards.

  • Bookish Boyfriends by Tiffany Schmidt

Bookish Boyfriends

This sounds like the perfect cute contemporary book! I think all readers have imagined what it would be able to date their favorite literary characters, so I can’t wait to see this author’s take on the idea.

  • Royal by Rachel Hawkins

Royals

I enjoyed the Rebel Belle series by Rachel Hawkins, so I’m excited to see what she does with this story!

  • American Panda by Gloria Chao

American Panda

I’m really interested in reading this book because it features not only a diverse main character, but a character in college. It seems like it could be cute, but deep at the same time, which is my favorite kind of contemporary!

  • Turn it Up! by Jen Calonita

Turn It Up!

I’ve read some of Jen Calonita’s young adult series and loved her easy and fun writing style. This sounds like Pitch Perfect for a younger audience.

What books are you looking forward to in 2018?

Final Countdown Friday: Kasie West Contemporary Books

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I started reading Kasie West’s book this year and quickly devoured all of her contemporary books. I loved her spins on typical tropes throughout young adult contemporary books and enjoyed that her books reminded me of my favorite high school movies. I even purchased one of her books this year shortly after it was released which I only do for authors that I really love since I primarily buy most of my books at thrift stores or through Kindle daily deals (where I purchased most of her books). However, there are some Kasie West’s books that I love more than other. Here is a countdown from my least favorite to favorite books among Kasie West’s contemporary books (reviews will be linked to book titles):

6.) The Distance Between Us

The Distance Between Us

The Distance Between Us was the first book by Kasie West and at the time, I really enjoyed it. However, after reading her other contemporary books, it is definitely my least favorite. I think I really liked this book when I read it the first time because I read it so quickly and I thought I was supposed to like it because so many people liked her books. However, I don’t really remember the characters from this book and I don’t think their relationship is as realistic or well-developed as other relationships in Kasie West’s books. Plus, I wasn’t a fan of the doll shop either.

5.) On the Fence

On the Fence

Even though I ranked On the Fence so low, I actually really enjoyed it and it was hard to decide third, fourth, and fifth place for me because I have similar feelings towards all of them. In this book, I liked the voice on the main character and appreciated her tomboy personality since Kasie West typically writes very girly characters. I also liked the plot involving the main character’s mom and how this helped her grow throughout the novel. However, I thought Kasie West could have done a little more with the love interest in the book. She hinted at a darker back story, but I wish I could have seen that play out a little more in the novel.

4.) Lucky in Love

Lucky in Love

Lucky in Love is the only physical copy of a Kasie West book that I own. As I mentioned in the introduction, I loved Kasie West’s books so much that I bought this one when it was released, which I don’t typically do. Like with On the Fence, there were parts of this book that I really loved, but some aspects that I found needed improvement. In this book, I really liked the love interest. He was an all-around nice guy and very supportive of the main character throughout the novel. On the other hand, I found the characterization of the main character a little inconsistent and had a few problems with the plot. While I enjoyed this book, it isn’t my favorite.

3.) By Your Side

By Your Side

Even though By Your Side is ranked highly on my list, I could easily switch it out with Lucky in Love or On the Fence because what I liked and what I disliked in those books is similar to this one. In this book, I really liked the two main characters and think Kasie West did a great job of fleshing out their characters. However, the plot wasn’t what I expected and the pacing was slightly off. However, like On the Fence and Lucky in Love it was still a cute book that I overall enjoyed.

2.) The Fill-In Boyfriend

The Fill-In Boyfriend

Looking at reviews for Kasie West’s books, I know this isn’t typically regarded as a favorite among her books. However, this is definitely one of my favorites by Kasie West’s. At the beginning, Gia is not a likable character. However, that’s what I really liked about her. A lot of Kasie West’s characters tend to be quirky girls with a few friends. However, Gia is popular and outgoing which I don’t see much of in young adult fiction. In this book, I think Gia grew a lot throughout the novel and the relationship in this book is one of my favorites in Kasie West’s books.

1.) P.S. I Like You

P.S. I Like You

P.S. I Like You is by far my favorite Kasie West book. Although it contains A LOT of tropes, Kasie West still manages to make it her own. Plus, it reminds me of everything I love about high school movies. I think Lily is a really fun and outgoing character and her love interest is also another one of my favorites in Kasie West’s books. I know that I will reread this book multiple times in the future because I flew through reading this book since I enjoyed it so much.

 

What is your favorite Kasie West book?

Lucky in Love Book Review

lucky in love

Luckily, there are other Kasie West books for me to love.

In Lucky in Love by Kasie West, high school senior Maddie decides to buy a lottery ticket on her eighteenth birthday. Much to her surprise, she wins. It seems like all of Maddie’s problems vanished overnight, that is, until people start treating her differently. The only person unaware of Maddie’s newfound wealth is Seth, her cute friend from the zoo. Soon, Maddie finds herself juggling people asking her for money, popularity at school, and reporters looking for the worst in her.

This year, I managed to read all of Kasie West’s contemporary novels. One of the main reasons I devoured Kasie West’s books are that they are fun, lighthearted, and remind me of some of my favorite high school movies. I went into Lucky in Love with high expectations. I actually bought this book when it was released from the store which I only do if it’s from an author I really love. While I do enjoy Kasie West’s books, there have been some hits and misses for me. I would say if I ranked Kasie West’s books, Lucky in Love would fall around the middle for me.

Lucky in Love is actually the first physical copy of a Kasie West book that I own since I downloaded the rest of her contemporary books on my Kindle (Yay for Daily Deals!). Usually, I can finish a Kasie West book in one sitting because I’m extremely invested in the fast-paced story line. However, this was not the case with Lucky in Love. I think it’s party because I was reading her books in a new format (I like seeing where I am percentage-wise while reading) and the somewhat repetitive and predictable plot of this book. While Kasie West’s books are generally predictable, this one felt a little more so than the others. Additionally, certain plots, such as her best friend questioning the “mean girl” (without reason), didn’t really add anything to the story and were boring to read about so many times especially when it didn’t really amount to anything in the end.

As for the main character, Maddie, she was okay but definitely not my favorite heroine by this author. Maddie was extremely naive–she signed contracts without reading them, continuously lent her brother money despite evidence that told her to stop, etc.–to the point where it sometimes annoyed me. While high school students are naive, this seemed out of character for Maddie, who readers are constantly told is one of the smartest girls in school who will be accepted to a prestigious university. That aside, Maddie is still a likable character who grows for the better throughout the novel, despite winning a large sum of money.

Compared to some of the other relationships in Kasie West’s book, I think this one definitely had one of the most well-developed love interests. Seth is an all-around nice guy who shows concern and respect for Maddie. I really wished more guys like Seth appeared in books! The author also did a great job of developing Seth’s characters. Readers get to see his passion for filmmaking, his struggles to make his dream come true, and the discrimination he faces as an Asian person is a predominantly white area. While not particularly remarkable, Maddie and Seth’s relationship was cute and enjoyable to read about.

Overall, Lucky in Love is a cute contemporary book that’s perfect for anyone looking for a light-hearted read. Although it wasn’t my favorite book by Kasie West, I still enjoyed it overall. I give Lucky in Love three out of five stars.

By Your Side Book Review

by your side

When it comes to my favorite Kasie West books, By Your Side definitely sits off to the side.

In By Your Side by Kasie West, Autumn Collins finds herself trapped in a library over a holiday weekend during a snowstorm. Autumn quickly learns that she isn’t alone and is trapped in the library with the school’s notorious bad boy, Dax Miller. Little does Autumn know, nothing will be the same after that weekend in the library.

I became a huge fan of Kasie West earlier this year and was so excited once I read the plot of this book. While this book wasn’t exactly what I expected and didn’t meet all of my expectations, it was a cute and quick read that I still enjoyed. In terms of all the Kasie West books that I’ve read, I would say this book falls somewhere in the middle because it contains aspects about her books that I love, but also aspects that I find need improvement in her books.

I think one of the most successful aspects of this book are the two main characters, Autumn and Dax. I like how Autumn already possesses a solid group of friends all with unique personalities which I find fairly uncommon in young adult literature. Autumn also struggles with an anxiety disorder, which is relatable to many readers, and plays a significant role in the plot. With Dax, I appreciated how Kasie West gave him a little more depth than some of her other male characters. In On The Fence, I liked how Braden had a darker back story, but wish Kasie West explored it more. Fortunately in this book, readers get a more well-rounded view of Dax and his backstory.

One aspects of this book that I thought could be improved was the pacing and plot. From the book’s description, I assumed this book primarily took place in the library. However, Autumn and Dax escape around halfway through the book. For the next 25% of the book, it didn’t seem like much happened and the plot kept moving around in circles. Although Kasie West is known for playing on a lot of cliches in her books, but twisting them into her own ideas, a lot of this portion of the book felt a little too generic and bland to me. Luckily, the book picked up again in the last quarter of the book.

Overall, By Your Side is a cute, but predictable book that is perfect for readers going back to school. While there were some aspects about this book that I really enjoyed, there were others that I felt could use improvement to make this book a more solid and cohesive read. Still, I enjoyed this book and give it four out of five stars.

#ThrowbackThursday: My Favorite High School/College Back-to-School Books

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve discussed my favorite elementary back-to-school books and my favorite middle school back-to-school books. This week, I’m discussing my favorite high school and college back-to-school books. High school and college back-to-school books involve new classes, new friends, and new relationships. Here are some of my old and new favorite high school and college books (any book with a review will be linked to the title):

P.S. I Like You

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West follows Lily, a high school student stuck in chemistry class. When Lily scribbles song lyrics on a desk and someone responds, she starts a secret pen pal relationship. Kasie West’s books always remind me of my favorite high school movies and I recommend this book for anyone looking for a lighthearted and fun read.

  • Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Just Listen

In Just Listen by Sarah Dessen, Annabel returns to school in the fall after a breakup with her best friend earlier that year and an event that changed her life forever. Just Listen is a well-written book with a memorable story and characters. I recommend this book for anyone looking for a deep young adult novel with a powerful message.

  • Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Catching Jordan

What is high school without Friday night football? In Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally, Jordan is the starting quarterback for her high school football team and determined to play football in college. However, when a new (and very cute) quarterback joins the team, her plans are derailed. This is one of my favorite books in Miranda Kenneally’s Hundred Oaks series so far because Jordan’s voice and high school experience is so authentic. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a young adult books that mixes sports and romance.

  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl

On this list, Fangirl is the only book that takes place in college. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowelll follows Cath as she starts her freshman year of college and finishes her fanfiction novel before the release of the last book in her favorite series. Fangirl is a fun book that also deals with serious themes and topics. I recommend this book to any fangirl or person starting college!

Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me

Sophomore Year is Greek to Me by Meredith Zeitlin follows Zona Lowell, an American teenager whose life is uprooted when her father moves her to Greece for her sophomore year of high school. In Greece, Zona connects with her mother’s family that she’s never met. Sophomore Year is Greek to Me is the perfect book if you’re looking for a high school book that focuses on another college and emphasizes family over a relationship!

 

What is your favorite high school back-to-school book?

On the Fence Review

on the fence

On the Fence is the first Kasie West book that leaves me on the fence.

On the Fence follows tomboy Charlotte “Charlie” Reynolds who is forced into working at a girly boutique to pay off her expensive speeding tickets. With four brothers and an athletic neighbor, Charlie has always been just one of the guys. One night, when Charlie isn’t able to sleep after nightmares about her mother’s death, she ventures out to the fence. There, she starts midnight talks with her neighbor and wonders if they could be something more.

I started reading Kasie West’s books at the tail end of last year and I immediately fell in love with her easy writing style and fun plots. While On the Fence definitely fits in those categories, it’s my least favorite of the books that I’ve read by her. While all of Kasie West’s books lean towards the stereotypical side, this one seemed the most unoriginal and I never felt incredibly invested in the characters. That being said, I still enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a quick summer read.

One aspect of this book that I really appreciated was the main character, Charlie. Many of Kasie West’s other characters are traditionally girly, but Charlie doesn’t really fit that mold. However, I also appreciated that Kasie West emphasized that even though Charlie’s interests are “traditionally girly,” girls can still play tackle football, know more about baseball than guys, and be interested in movies other than romantic comedies. It made me happy that Charlie’s inner monologue questioned this whenever a male character stated otherwise. Additionally, I liked how Kasie West showcased through Charlie’s experiences at the store that girls with many different interests can still be friends and support each other rather than tear each other down.

Another aspect of this book that I really enjoyed in this book was staying true to yourself. Charlie struggled a lot with her mother’s death and who she was as a person throughout the novel which is relatable to many readers. When Charlie takes the job at the store, she lies about her mother’s death in order to avoid people treating her a certain way. She also dates a guy in the novel, who even though he’s not a bad guy, makes her feel like she can’t really be herself. I liked how Kasie West resolved these issues in the novel and sent a good message to readers.

As for the romance in this book, it reminded of a lot of other books I read and doesn’t really stand out compared to the relationships featured in Kasie West’s other books to me. Braden is a nice guy who likes Charlie exactly the way she is which is a definitely plus. He also had family issues which were hinted at throughout the novel, but were really never explored in too much depth. While Braden and Charlie were cute and I was happy when they got together, it just didn’t have the spark to make it particularly memorable.

On the Fence is one of those books that I finished in one sitting because it was easy and fun to read. This isn’t the most earth-shattering books, but it is perfect if you want something light-hearted that will leave you smiling. I give On the Fence three out of five stars.