HARD YA READ: Hope and Other Punch Lines Review

Summary (from the publisher):Abbi Hope Goldstein is like every other teenager, with a few smallish exceptions: her famous alter ego, Baby Hope, is the subject of internet memes, she has asthma, and sometimes people spontaneously burst into tears when they recognize her. Abbi has lived almost her entire life in the shadow of the terrorist attacks of September 11. On that fateful day, she was captured in what became an iconic photograph: in the picture, Abbi (aka “Baby Hope”) wears a birthday crown and grasps a red balloon; just behind her, the South Tower of the World Trade Center is collapsing.36584899._SY475_

Now, fifteen years later, Abbi is desperate for anonymity and decides to spend the summer before her seventeenth birthday incognito as a counselor at Knights Day Camp two towns away. She’s psyched for eight weeks in the company of four-year-olds, none of whom have ever heard of Baby Hope.

Too bad Noah Stern, whose own world was irrevocably shattered on that terrible day, has a similar summer plan. Noah believes his meeting Baby Hope is fate. Abbi is sure it’s a disaster. Soon, though, the two team up to ask difficult questions about the history behind the Baby Hope photo. But is either of them ready to hear the answers?

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Let’s be honest, summer contemporaries are always on my TBR radar, no matter the time of year. Me being the reader and TBR planner that I am, I of course save most of them for the summer  including Julie Buxbaum’s Hope and Other Punch Lines. This was my first book by the author, sold on its summer camp premise.

While the book’s main characters Abbi and Noah are camp counselors, this book is more about 9/11 and the two’s relationship with the September 11, 2001 attacks. Known to the world as Baby Hope, Abbi was pictured in one of the most well-known 9/11 photographs. A budding comedian and journalist, Noah is hoping to do a newspaper article on the people in the Baby Hope photo, including figuring out one of their identities.

Julie Buxbaum writes in her author’s note that many of her young readers really only know about 9/11 rom their history classes. However, 9/11 is a much more familiar event for me personally. There is a 9/11 memorial in my town and college town. I live about ten minutes away from the town that lost the most amount of people outside of New York City, which Julie Buxbaum loosely based the fictional town of Oakdale from. One of my parents worked in the Towers and is a 9/11 survivor.

That being said, I have a weird relationship with fiction centered around 9/11. I knew Hope and Other Punch Lines had some sort of 9/11 element, but blame it on me for not reading the synopsis again before reading and realizing how much 9/11 is part of the story. To be honest, if I really realized how much this book is about 9/11 before then, I likely wouldn’t have picked it up.

As much as I do wish that we got a teeny bit more light-heartedness, aka Abbi and her co-counselor fawning over the hot camp lifeguard and burger dates with Noah, there is much heaviness within this story. Abbi is constantly getting recognized as Baby Hope and feels that she can never not live in the shadow of that day. She is also having some health problems that could be connected to 9/11 syndrome, which I had heard of and definitely learned more about as a result of this book.

Throughout, between Noah and Abbi’s personal connections and their interviews with survivors, Hope and Other Punch Lines provides a ton of great learning moments about 9/11, along with grief and loss. I think this book would be great for YA readers who may be part of the generation born after 9/11 and who have only learned about it as part of their history classes. I think I could have easily put this book down for the subject matter, however, I quickly fell into Julie Buxbaum’s storytelling and her character dynamics. From the main characters to their interviews with the survivors, this book felt pretty real in an all too-real situation.

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The Sunshine Blogger Award Part 3

The Sunshine Blogger Award is one of my favorite awards that floats around the book blogging-sphere. I was nominated and did the tag twice back in 2017, but recently Alexandra from Reading by Starlight nominated me for the award again! I really enjoy this award/tag because I love reading and answering the creative questions and answers everyone comes up with.

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It’s doomsday – what is the last book you want to read before the world ends?

Currently American Royals by Katharine McGee, because I’m so excited to read it.

Quick! I’m stuck in a slump! What’s your go-to recommendation?

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, because contemporary books are typically faster to read than most genres. And once you meet the Song-Covey girls (and Peter K.) you’ll soon be moving on to books two and three.

What is your favorite setting to read about, be it realistic or fantasy?

Beach town and bakeries set in the summer are preferred.

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ARC AUGUST & MORE: August 2019 TBR

Since I read more in the summer than any other time in the year, I love creating TBRs during this season. Making my August TBR is especially exciting because I will be participating in ARC August for the second time! ARC August is hosted by Octavia and Shelley of Read.Sleep.Repeat. The purpose of this month-long reading challenge is to tackle as many ARCs or books for review as possible, since the fall is always packed with new releases. More information can be found at Read. Sleep. Repeat. but in short:

  • anyone (including non-bloggers) can participate
  • both released and unreleased, physical, audio, and e- ARCs count

My goal is to try to read as many of my Book Expo ARCs and books I’ve been sent for review as possible, since school starts up again at the end of this month, while also reading some more from the library & my bookshelves and leftovers from my July TBR. Like always, I’ll more than likely pick up a few more books than what’s planned below.

ARCs

American Royals by Katherine McGee- Does anyone else hold off on reading books because they’re just so excited to read them? This is the case for me with one of my most anticipated books of the year, American Royals! This book following the American royal family (imagine the US had a monarchy and not a democracy) has been receiving so much hype lately that I can’t hold off on reading it for much longer.

A Match Made in Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai- Matchmaking has become a rising and one of my favorite tropes in YA that I’m excited to dive back into with A Match Made in Mehendi. 

The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert- Brandy Colbert is another hyped author that I have not yet read. The Revolution of Birdie Randolph has been slated as one of the best books of the fall, so I’m extra excited to jump in.

The Library of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey- Mention a bookstore and I’m there. Mention a book about a character who works in a bookstore and I’ll be in a bookstore buying said book.

Throw Like a Girl by Sarah Henning- I love sports YA books—blame it on being obsessed with Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally back in my early YA days. I know people love Sarah Henning’s Sea Witch (also my physical TBR!) so I’m excited to see her contemporary take.

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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.

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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

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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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CONTEMPORARY, CONTEMPORARY: July 2019 Mini Reviews

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

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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 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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