READING BOOKS & BOOKS: July 2019 Wrap Up

One of the best parts of the summer is being able to read, swim, read, and tan. Did I mention reading outside in the summer is my favorite thing ever? My reading plans in July primarily focused on Book Expo ARCs and some necessary (summer) contemporaries. I actually read my three most anticipated books of the year this month, and I found myself craving more adult books and romance in July than usual! I definitely blame the latter for my love for the Off-Campus series by Elle Kennedy this year—I recently bought the first book in the spin-off series, The Chase.


The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord (reread) | 4.5/5 Stars

I enjoyed The Start of Me and You even more the second time around! And like the first time around, I spent a lot of time reading it and floating around my pool.

The Map From Here to There by Emery Lord (ARC) | 4/5


This was a solid sequel to The Start of Me and You, but I wasn’t as in love as I hoped I’d be.

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren | 3.5/5

I liked how Love and Other Words flipped between the past and the present, but I feel like the book didn’t really bring anything I hadn’t seen before.

Unpregnant by Jenni Hendricks and Ted Caplan (ARC) | 5/5

If you thought that there could never be a thing called a ‘funny YA abortion story,’ think again and read Unpregnant when it comes out this fall.

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Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (ARC) | 5/5

I just knew Ninth House was going to blow me away, and it probably sounds ridiculous saying it because what else would you expect, but I found my favorite book of the year.

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Once again, my monthly mini reviews is filled with contemporary books! What else am I supposed to read in the summer?


Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

downloadMy Rating: 4/5 Stars

Open Road Summer was the final published Emery Lord book I had left to read. I received the gorgeous UK edition of Emery Lord’s debut novel last summer, but decided to save it until this July because this fangirl loves having summer contemporaries saved for summer reading. Open Road Summer follows Reagan’s summer as she travels the US on tour with her country music star of a best friend, Dee. After a PR nightmare, Reagan’s plans of a summer with her best friend are soon interrupted by Matt Finch, Dee’s opening act.

Open Road Summer is a really solid summer contemporary about friendship and romance. Reagan and Matt’s relationship was sweet, but I was most invested in Dee and Reagan. It was really fun being on the road with Dee and Reagan and I loved getting to explore their friendship. No matter what, Dee and Reagan are there for each other through everything. I loved Dee and her family’s Southern charm and I wouldn’t mind some sort of spin off following her career and romance! On the other hand, while Reagan is a really complex and well developed character, I just couldn’t like her. Like a few other readers, I agree that her cattiness/ her girl-hate was way too melodramatic most of the time. While a lot of her remarks had to do with her feelings for her love interest, she sees a lot of girls as competitors and blatantly put a few of them down for not being as attractive as her or for not being ’Hollywood/celebrity’ attractive.

The Names They Gave Us remains my #1 Emery Lord book and I just love Max from The Start of Me and You way too much, but Open Road Summer definitely has a spot in my summer contemporary loving heart. Contemporary fans looking for books featuring friendship, road trips, and/or music will particularly enjoy this one.

Pretty Guilty Women by Gina LaManna 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars 


Pretty Guilty Women is the perfect read for beach and binge reading. With comparisons to Big Little Lies, Pretty Guilty Women rewinds the events of a destination wedding week, as four women each confess to the same murder. The book flips between interviews with the case’s lead detective and the four women’s happenings throughout the week. Each women is dealing with some sort of issue, varying levels of seriousness. Lulu is afraid her fifth marriage won’t be her last, as her husband takes phone calls from someone named S while on vacation; Ginger is having trouble connecting with her fifteen year old daughter; while Kate seemingly has all the money in the world, there is one thing she can’t buy that is causing problems with her boyfriend; Emily finds herself unable to escape her past, including the relationship that has haunted her for over ten years and another that destroyed her friendship with Ginger.

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The Book Addiction Tag

Sorry to reveal the answer to this tag’s title already, but not only am I addicted to books, but I’m also addicted to discussing my relationship with books! I originally saw the Book Addiction Tag done by Kate of Reading Through Infinity, but I’ve seen it pass through my blogging circles a few times this month. Since much of this tag is about our time and dedication to reading, I realized that I may do some sort of ‘tracking my reading’ (aka seeing how much time I spend reading a day) post in the near future. As you’ll be able to tell, many of my answers and this possible future blog post topic depends on the time of the year and whether if I am in school or not at that moment in time.

What is the longest amount of time you can comfortably go without picking up a book?

At most, I can go from 1-2 days without starting a new book. The two day mark usually occurs during the school year. During the summer, I usually start a new book after immediately finishing one or a few hours later. If I finish a book at night, I will more than likely have started a new within the next 24 hours.


How many books do you carry on your person (or kindle) at any one time?

One! Even if I’m reading more than two books at a time, I usually just carry one book with me at a time. I’ve definitely gotten better about not bringing a book with me in certain social situations over the years (aka when hanging out with non-bookish friends and family). I almost always have a book on me though in these situations:

  • running errands where I know I’ll have time to sit or have to wait
  • traveling by train (I really can’t read in the car without getting a headache)
  • breaks at work
  • if I have time in between classes or meetings that doesn’t have to be dedicated to homework or other priorities

Do you keep every book you buy/receive or are you happy to pass them on to make space for more?

I don’t keep every book I buy or receive for review, once I’ve finished reading it of course. If I didn’t really enjoy or love a book or have some other sentimental attachment to it, I don’t see the point in keeping it. I pass on these types of books to friends/family, trade through #arcs or booksfortrade on Twitter, or donate them.

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Top Five Wednesday: 2019 Favorite YA Contemporaries

While Top Five Wednesday has been on its summer hiatus, I’ve been revisiting some older topics. However, I decided to switch things up for today by creating my own topic! I’m in a little shock right now both IRL and from a bookish standpoint that it’s July! I can’t believe that there’s only about a month and half of summer left. Blogging wise, I can’t believe that it’s time to start working on my most anticipated books of Fall 2019 post.

Thinking about what books are left to come out this year and my own reading plans for this second half of the year, I decided that I wanted to talk about some of my favorite books of the year so far. Today I’ll be featuring and discussing my top five contemporary books of 2019.  I’m sure it’s no surprise that it was super difficult for me to choose the five books below. I decided to limit myself by only talking about YA books released in 2019 so far, considering that three of my favorite contemporaries of the year are new adult (and yes Red, White and Royal Blue is of course one of them). I have a feeling my favorites of 2019 list later in December is going to be a bit lengthy.


If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka – A slight change I’ve noticed this year in a few YA contemporaries are unlikeable protagonists! Cameron in If I’m Being Honest is definitely not the nice girl in her LA high school, but her personality- and let’s be honest, bitchiness- made her such a complex character.

There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon – Sandhya Menon always make for  the cutest feels, but I particularly loved There’s Something About Sweetie. I think rom-com has been thrown around for a lot of YA contemporaries this year as well, and Sandhya Menon’s latest release sure fits the category! Following Ashish and Sweetie’s relationship, this book features a ton of relationship and character growth and plenty of LOL worthy moments.



Maybe This Time by Kasie West- One of the reasons why I started reading Kasie West’s books in 2019 was to prepare myself for Maybe This Time because I loved the synopsis so much! Our main character, Sophie, who works for her small town’s florist, also falls into the unlikeable protagonist category. Maybe This Time is a really unique book, told over nine events over one year.

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WISH I LIKED IT: Again, but Better Review

Summary (from the publisher): Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?

814XStjxU4LHer life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.

Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless.


My Rating: 2/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Let me start off by saying that I really wanted to enjoy Again, but Better.

Like many, Again, but Better was one of my most anticipated spring releases. Christine Riccio of polandbananasbooks was the first BookTuber I watched. Her channel really introduced me the online book community back in 2014 and many popular and contemporary YA books.  I love college YA books and based on the premise, I thought I would be able to relate to Shane and her story, as my first year of college was filled with many ups and downs. The book follows college junior Shane who decides to throw off her a pre-med track for a semester by studying abroad in England for a creative writing program.

Again, but Better’s synposis did not deliver. This book is definitely more heavy on the dialogue, but told from her first person perspective, Shane doesn’t really explain why she hasn’t had the best college experience thus far. In addition, while this is likely considered a spoiler, I did not like the time travel at all. Having not expected the magical realism at all, this element did not mesh well with the story. Shane is supposed to be doing study abroad to have second chance at college, then she basically gets a second chance to redo study abroad.

What also threw me off with this book is how much Shane was really Christine. I know we are supposed to separate the author from the story, but Christine made it really hard to do so with this book. Before and after writing Again, but Better, Christine has discussed how her first two years of college were a struggle and going abroad really changed her experience. In her author’s note, she does acknowledge that some of Shane’s experiences were modeled off her own. While I think it is likely fun for authors to insert their own personality and traits into their characters, Again, but Better goes a bit too far. This may be a result of me being a longtime viewer of polandbananasbook, but Shane screams Christine: from her interest in The Da Vinci Code to Lost to Taylor Swift, to Shane’s blog name that is so closely modeled to polandbananas, to her Italian last name, to her physical appearance and while small, the fact that Shane’s favorite t-shirt is her tiger crop top! Speaking of fandoms, I also grew tired  of the pop culture references. I’m still confused over why Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball was referenced so much and I’m so sick of TFIOS being referenced across other books and pop culture.

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Books I Refuse to Lend

Many readers love sharing their love of books. But many readers don’t love sharing their physical books, including me!

When I was younger, I made a form for my sisters to fill out before they borrowed a book from my shelves. I’m pretty sure it was harder to borrow a book from me than our local library.In the days before book sleeves, I’m pretty sure my dad wrapped up my paperback editions of The Hunger Games trilogy in a few grocery bags before putting them in his messenger bag. Even when my mom and sisters borrow books from me now, I make sure I take the dust jacket off hardcovers beforehand and for some books, make them promise not to take the book out of the house.

As someone who takes care of her books, I do admit that I rarely lend books over the of fear them getting damaged or lost. While I’ve landed out paperbacks before and they came to me more worn out, I haven’t had a particularly bad experience lending out a book- aka the cover is ripped, pages are missing, or worse, I never get it back. I’m definitely open to lending them out to my family and one of my close reader friends, but there are certain books that will never leave my hands (or my heart!).

Signed Books

I think many fellow readers would agree that lending out signed books are an absolutely no-no. As someone who has received more and more signed editions, as a result of book conventions and ordering special editions, I’m actually less hesitant to lend out signed books, specifically if the book doesn’t have any special meaning to me or if I didn’t absolutely love it. However, the following books are the signed editions that I refuse to lend.

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Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas (& basically my other signed SJM books)- I got Queen of Shadows signed by Sarah J. Maas on her QoS book tour in 2015. This was back in the day when her events weren’t as limited and tickets weren’t as difficult to come by. This particular signing was a bit strange and took place at a Costco on a bad weather day. I think I got there 20 minutes beforehand and was one of the first people in line. Anyway, QoS is my favorite Throne of Glass book, hence why I won’t let that edition out of my sight. I also refuse to lend my other signed SJM books (Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire, ACOTAR, and Catwoman:Soulstealer) and my ToG collector’s edition.


Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell- Fangirl is one, if not my all-time fave, of my all-time favorite books, so I’m so happy I have two signed editions of two different special editions. I’ve met Rainbow Rowell twice and she signed each copy for me. I hold the indie edition especially close to my heart because its my favorite color (the light pink) out of the 3 special editions and Rainbow Rowell signed it for me the first time I met her.

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Top Five Wednesday: Standalones I Wish Had Sequels

Since Top Five Wednesday is on summer hiatus, today’s topic comes from July 2016, aka standalone books that I wish had sequels.

As a contemporary girl at heart, I am very used to standalones, even though I absolutely love a good contemporary series. Throughout genres, I think I am at a point where I do prefer standalones to series. However, there are just some characters and stories that I I just can’t simply let go after the final page. And all the fan art and bookish swag based on said book can’t fill my heart like a second book would.

Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith- I’m not sure to what extent this counts as a sequel, but I really want a book about Hugo and his five brother and sisters. Yes, I realize that much of Hugo’s storyline in Field Notes on Love is learning what it’s like to be considered as an individual, not a sextuplet, but I’m too invested in Hugo’s siblings and their dynamic.


The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker- One of the most bittersweet parts of many contemporary standalones (okay let’s be honest, basically any book) is not knowing what will happen to characters or couples after the ending. While I was pretty content with The Simple Wild’s ending, I am very interested in experiencing a certain couple’s future, specifically seeing where their lives will be together. Sorry for the vagueness, but trying to avoid spoilers as much as I can so everyone will pick this one up!


Catwoman:Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas- Although it’s technically part of the DC Icon series, Catwoman: Soulstealer is its own story. I just really enjoyed SJM’s take on Catwoman and despite that the book had a solid resolution, I wouldn’t mind another installment featuring Catwoman and Batwing.

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BEST MUSIC BOOK: Night Music Review

Summary: Ruby isn’t known as just Ruby. She’s known as Ruby Chertok: daughter of a renown composer, a touring pianist, sister to three incredible musically gifted siblings, and future pianist. But after a terrible audition for her father’s musical school, Ruby needs a break from music. But that also means figuring out who she is without music. 
Enter Oscar Bell, seventeen year old musical genius with 1.8 million YouTube views of his latest performance. When Oscar comes to live with the Chertoks for the summer and study in NYC, sparks fly between Ruby and Oscar. But can two people trying to figure out themselves figure out how to be together?


My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars


My Thoughts:

Jenn Marie Thorne’s The Wrong Side of Right stole my heart in March. That being said, I couldn’t wait to dive into her latest release, Night Music. I devoured this book up over two incredibly beautiful days outside (with plenty of sunburn as a result). How could I not love a summer contemporary set in NYC with such gorgeous writing?

Night Music follows Ruby’s summer in New York City as she tries to figure out a life without music, which is pretty hard when her parents and siblings are all famous classical musicians. Music becomes an even bigger reminder in Ruby’s life when Ruby’s dad takes seventeen-year old music genius Oscar under his wing for the summer.

9780735228771Night Music blew me away for its amazing writing style. Jenn Marie Thorne’s writing style in the book reminded me of Morgan Matson, but with its own uniqueness. I’ve read books with protagonists who are musicians or have a deep appreciation for music, but this book especially features music, specifically classical music. The only other book I can think of is with a strong classical music presence is  Gayle Forman’s If I Stay. Night Music is only told from Ruby’s point of view, which I appreciated because the book’s premise made it sound like it was told from both Ruby and Oscar. In addition, I also didn’t really get the official premise’s rom-com vibes. If I had to summarize Night Music, I would refer to it as a romantic family drama or just a romantic contemporary! Through Jenn Marie Thorne’s writing, readers are able to experience all the layers of Ruby’s life: her relationship with music, her family dynamics, her growing feelings for Oscar, her confusion about what she wants to do with her life, and yes, her feelings towards delicious-sounding French pastries.

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BEING IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK: If I’m Being Honest Review

Summary (from the publisher): High school senior Cameron Bright’s reputation can be summed up in one word: bitch. It’s no surprise she’s queen bee at her private L.A. high school—she’s beautiful, talented, and notorious for her cutting and brutal honesty. So when she puts her foot in her mouth in front of her crush, Andrew, she fears she may have lost him for good.40087230._UY400_SS400_

In an attempt to win him over, Cameron resolves to “tame” herself, much like Katherine in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. First, she’ll have to make amends with those she’s wronged, which leads her to Brendan, the guy she labelled with an unfortunate nickname back in the sixth grade. At first, Brendan isn’t all that receptive to Cameron’s ploy. But slowly, he warms up to her when they connect over the computer game he’s developing. Now if only Andrew would notice…

But the closer Cameron gets to Brendan, the more she sees he appreciates her personality—honesty and all—and wonders if she’s compromising who she is for the guy she doesn’t even want.


 My Rating: 5/5 Stars

 My Thoughts: 

It’s official: Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka write my kind of Shakespeare.

Okay let’s go back a little. This writing duo’s first book, Always Never Yours, stole my heart back in October when Megan finds herself cast as Juliet in her school’s production of Romeo and Juliet.  In If I’m Being Honest’s case, our main character, Cameron, finds herself relating a bit to closely to one of the main character in her latest reading, for English class Katherine from The Taming of the Shrew.

An element that I love about If I’m Being Honest and Always Never Yours is that the main protagonists have very strong personalities and at times, are just plain unlikeable. These qualities just make the characters feel all the more real and complex. Cameron definitely wins the unlikeable award, known as her LA high school’s queen bitch. Throughout the book, Cameron says exactly what is on her mind, nice or not. Although there were many uncalled moments that were a bit frustrating (especially towards the end), Cameron owned her personality while experiencing a significant amount of character growth.


I also enjoyed exploring why Cameron is the way she is. Her mean girl attitude was not accompanied by the typical rich girl stereotype, as her and her mom are not as wealthy as her elite LA classmates. I feel like YA parents have come a long way in some more recent YA releases, but Cameron’s parents were honestly horrible. There are some redeeming qualities for Cameron’s mom along the way, but I felt for her in the family department. Seeing Cameron talk about her family life with her newfound friends was a really nice way to see her change.While Cameron definitely made some changes in her attitude, I did enjoy how she didn’t completely change and made some realizations about why she even wanted to change herself in the first place.

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There’s Something About Sandhya Menon’s Books: There’s Something About Sweetie & As Kismet Would Have It Review

Summary (from the publisher): 

51PEpjfmsLL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Ashish Patel didn’t know love could be so…sucky. After being dumped by his ex-girlfriend, his mojo goes AWOL. Even worse, his parents are annoyingly, smugly confident they could find him a better match. So, in a moment of weakness, Ash challenges them to set him up.

The Patels insist that Ashish date an Indian-American girl—under contract. Per subclause 1(a), he’ll be taking his date on “fun” excursions like visiting the Hindu temple and his eccentric Gita Auntie. Kill him now. How is this ever going to work?

Sweetie Nair is many things: a formidable track athlete who can outrun most people in California, a loyal friend, a shower-singing champion. Oh, and she’s also fat. To Sweetie’s traditional parents, this last detail is the kiss of death.

Sweetie loves her parents, but she’s so tired of being told she’s lacking because she’s fat. She decides it’s time to kick off the Sassy Sweetie Project, where she’ll show the world (and herself) what she’s really made of.

Ashish and Sweetie both have something to prove. But with each date they realize there’s an unexpected magic growing between them. Can they find their true selves without losing each other?


My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Between her past three books, Sandhya Menon is becoming one of my go-to YA contemporary authors. For some reason, I’ve picked up her latest release every year in June, so this year I saved There’s Something About Sweetie for that month. In short, There’s Something About Sweetie is my new favorite Sandhya Menon novel! I just fell head over heels in love with Ashish and Sweetie as a couple and as individual characters.

“But with Sweetie time passed in gentle waves. A conversation with her was like a warm hug and a cup of hot coca on a cold day – comforting, familiar, a place you never wanted to leave” (175).

There’s Something About Sweetie is such a sweet  YA rom-com. If Ashish’s father said ‘hanky-panky’ one more time, even I would have expected Sweetie to lose it! The book takes a comedic sort of turns in one of the main protagonist’s lives, as the charming Ashish’s heartbreak over his breakup with his girlfriend Celia drives him to allow his mother and father to choose a girl for him. It seemed to work with Dimple and Rishi, right? When Ashish’s parents try to set him up with Sweetie, Sweetie’s mother declines the relationship because of her daughter’s weight.


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