LOVE & LANGUAGE BARRIERS: Love in English Review

Summary (from the publisher):

Sixteen-year-old Ana is a poet and a lover of language. Except that since she moved to New Jersey from Argentina, she can barely find the words to express how she feels.

At first Ana just wants to return home. Then she meets Harrison, the very cute, very American boy in her math class, and discovers the universal language of racing hearts. But when she begins spending time with Neo, the Greek Cypriot boy from ESL, Ana wonders how figuring out what her heart wants can be even more confusing than the grammar they’re both trying to master. After all, the rules of English may be confounding, but there are no rules when it comes to love.

With playful and poetic breakouts exploring the idiosyncrasies of the English language, Love in English is witty and effervescent, while telling a beautifully observed story about what it means to become “American.”

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Everyone knows that I can spin anytime of year into contemporary book reading season, but February especially screams cozy contemporaries thanks to Galentine’s Day (forever thankful to Leslie Knope for solidifying this day as a holiday) and Valentine’s Day. If you’re looking for a book with a great female friendship, a love triangle, and most importantly, a girl trying to find herself in a new country where she struggles with the language, I can’t help but recommend Maria E. Andreu’s latest release, Love in English. 

Love in English follows sixteen-year old Ana, who has just immigrated to New Jersey from Argentina with her mother and is finally able to reunite with her father after years apart. Everyone has told Ana how lucky she is to be able to live and study in America, but Ana doesn’t feel so lucky herself. As a native Spanish speaker, she struggles to understand what her classmates are saying and their weird American phrases…unless it’s Harrison, the looks-like-a-Neftlix-movie-heartthrob of a guy in her math class. Ana only finds comfort and a way to express herself through poetry, but she begins to connect with another boy in her ESL class, Neo, and a girl named Altagracia, who knows a thing or two about how Ana feels in school.

Love in English is such a cute read to devour over a day this February. I flew through this one over a snowy weekend, given the book’s short chapters, poetry excerpts, and yes, the sweetness of Ana’s relationships with Harrison and Neo. Her relationships with them reminded me of the love triangles I used to devour in my early YA contemporary days. I wasn’t necessarily rooting for one guy over the other, but I did enjoy Ana’s relationship with Neo a tiny bit more because it was really cute to see them learn together, from ESL class conversations to watching classic 80s films together. I must admit though, my favorite relationship in the book was Ana’s friendship with Altagracia. She was a huge part in bringing Ana out of her shell and always gave her someone to rely on.Read More »

A BOOK CLUB PICK & NEW BOOKS: February 2021 TBR 

You probably know by now that I’m a total mood TBR type of person, but there are a few books I do want to make a point to read in February. This month’s TBR focuses on a few backlist titles I finally borrowed from the library, books for review, and potentially one of my all-time most anticipated fantasy releases. As always, I plan on hopefully being able to read more than just the books on this list. I didn’t include them on the *official* list because I don’t have my own physical copies yet, but I’m also hoping to get to You Have a Match by Emma Lord – waiting for it to come in from the library – & The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon – I’m planning on buying a copy this month. 

If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha – If I Had Your Face is the Bad on Paper Podcast book club pick for February. I read at least half of their book club picks in 2020 and I’m always going back to the old book club picks, so I’m excited to join in on the February read. I decided not to read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic with them in January because I wasn’t particularly in the mood for it then, but If I Had Your Face sounds like such an intriguing read. The book follows four young women in Seoul, Korea and shines light on the high beauty standards there. 

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes – Based on my 2021 reading goals, I’m going to try to read at least 1 backlist contemporary romance each month. This month I went with Evvie Drake Start Overs because I’ve heard that this is such a heartfelt and soothing read. As a huge fan of sports mixed in romance (hello Bromance Book Club), I’m also interested in the professional baseball player love interest. Read More »

FEMINISM MEETS GOTHAM CITY: Black Canary Review

Summary (from the publisher):
Dinah Lance was seven years old when she overheard the impossible: the sound of a girl singing. It was something she was never meant to hear—not in her lifetime, and not in Gotham City, taken over by the Court of Owls. The sinister organization rules Gotham as a patriarchal dictatorship, all the while spreading their influence like a virus across the globe.
Now seventeen, Dinah can’t forget that haunting sound, and she’s beginning to discover that her own voice is just as powerful. But singing is forbidden—a one-way stop to a certain death sentence. Can she balance her father’s desire to keep her safe, a blossoming romance with mysterious new student Oliver Queen, and her own desire to help other women and girls rise up and finally be heard? And will her voice be powerful enough to destroy the Court of Owls once and for all.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

I recently jumped back into the DC Icons series this month with the latest installment, Black Canary: Breaking Silence by Alexandra Monir. This companion series written by various young adult authors – Leigh Barudgo, Marie Lu, Matt de la Pena, and Sarah J. Maas all included- follows teenage versions of the most beloved heroes in the DC Comics world. While I’ve been more familiar with some DC heroes like Wonder Woman and Batman in this series, Black Canary was my first time learning about this female hero. I’ve had Birds of Prey on my to-view film list, and I might have to view it sooner rather than later because I want to learn more about Black Canary after reading this book!

Black Canary follows a teenage Dinah Lance growing up in Gotham City under the rule of the Court of Owls, an organization who took down the city’s superheroes years ago. Women have little to no rights in Gotham, including the right to sing, which frustrates Dinah immensely given her and her mother’s love for music. Dinah wants to be involved and seek justice for women and her city, while handling her father’s desire to stay under the radar and having feelings for the new guy in town, Oliver Queen.

Like the other books in the DC Icons series, Black Canary is really Dinah’s origin story. More than that, the book had very relevant themes surrounding female rights and empowerment. I do see The Handmaid’s Tale comparisons, but the book definitely takes on its own DC Comics inspired spin. Read More »

MINI LIFE UPDATES & ALL THE BOOKS: January 2021 Wrap Up

I can’t be the only one shocked that the first month of 2021 is almost over. My first few days of January started out fairly relaxing, having stayed home for New Years and reading a few books & watching tons of Kara & Nate before I jumped into my full time clinical internship for my master’s program. Aside from diving into full time work life this month, I also have a mini life update – I’m living at my grad school! Being on a college campus during a pandemic is a very different experience – picture masks everywhere a and really only going into the building you live in and the campus mailroom – but it feels surprisingly more normal than expected. 

Between being back at school – which means binge-watching all the shows & movies with my roommate- and having a full time academic schedule, I expected my reading life to suffer a tiny bit this month, but I still managed to read 9 books. I’m hoping to continue to carry on this reading energy throughout the rest of the semester. What’s slightly helping my reading is that since I’m on a laptop all day for my clinical and grad classes, I enjoy taking my eyes away from any screen at night and turning to a book.  

Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli (ARC) | 4/5 Stars

I decided to start off my New Year with one of my most anticipated releases that I was fortunate enough to read early for review (coming in April!), Becky Albertalli’s Kate in Waiting. I loved the emphasis on self-growth, friendship, relationships, growing up, & so much more. After enjoying it so much, I may make my reread book of February as Becky’s The Upside of Unrequited, aka my favorite book of her’s! 

We Came Here to Forget by Andrea Dunlop | 4.5/5 

Although I am content with the books I chose in January,  none of them screamed FAVORITE books of 2021 — but if I had to choose a favorite, it’d be Andrea Dunlop’s We Came Here to Forget. I loved the plot, following a former Olympic skier who relocates to Buenos Aires after a family tragedy.

Lucky Caller by Emma Mills | 4/5 

I was craving a YA contemporary and decided to finally pick up the only Emma Mills book I hadn’t yet read, Lucky Caller. I ended up enjoying it more than expected – the school radio premise was done well and like Emma Mills’ other books, I liked its quiet feel and emphasis on friendship. 

Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win by Jo Piazza | 4/5

Books about politics, let alone one about an election, might not be everyone’s cup of tea right now, but Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win was a really enjoyable read. I liked how much it explored what it’s like for a woman to run for government vs. a man. I’m still not sure how I feel abut the ending though. 

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman | 4.5/5

If there’s one fluffy read I would recommend this month, it’s hand down The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany. I loved the plot, the setting in Italy, and the themes surrounding family and love. If you’re a fan of Chanel Cleeton’s Next Year in Havana and want something a little more lighter, I definitely recommend picking this one up. Read More »

NON-FICTION FAVE & CONTEMPORARY READS: January 2021 Mini Reviews

Another mini review round-up, another example of me finally remembering to share mini reviews from December 2020 and a few reads from January 2021. I know I shared my reading goals last week, but I think one of my blogging goals for this year should be for me to write my mini reviews as soon as I finish a book I read! Today’s reviews feature my last read and one of my favorites books of 2020, a adult contemporary meets thriller that I really enjoyed, and a YA contemporary that had sat on my TBR for way too long.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

December can often to turn into a reading month where you try to catch up on some of the books you were meaning to read over the year (and maybe avoided for whatever reason) and some fluffier reads. I don’t know if that makes sense, but in short, I didn’t expect my last read of 2020 to be one of my favorite books of the year, especially a larger non-fiction reader about therapy.

Lori Gottlieb’s Maybe You Should Talk to Someone had been on my TBR radar since its 2019 release, but so many signs this December pointed me to it. Lori Gottlieb was a recent guest on the Girls Gotta Eat podcast, and one of my favorite authors, Hannah Orensetin, included the book on her favorite books of 2020 instagram stories. And let’s be honest, we could all probably use some therapy thanks to 2020. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is about scenarios Lori Gottlieb has encountered as a therapist and her own experience going to therapy. Each of her ‘patients’ – due to ethical concerns of course, their identities and exact stories were changed and the scenarios were adapted and based on her experiences with multiple patients – stayed with me for different reasons. I also loved following Lori’s own life and experience with therapy, as she dives deep into her personal journey and her really unique experience having a career shift from entertainment & TV to med school to psychotherapy. No matter what kind of reader you are, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is a book I encourage EVERYONE to read. Read More »

much-needed feminist poetry: shine your icy crown review

Summary (from the publisher):

amanda lovelace, the bestselling & award-winning author of the “women are some kind of magic” poetry series, presents shine your icy crown, the second installment in her new feminist poetry series, “you are your own fairy tale.” this is a story about not letting society dictate the limits of your potential. it’s time to take back your power & realize that you don’t need a king in order to be a queen.

 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

It’s never a complete reading year without reading at least one poetry collection from amanda lovelace. I’m so grateful I was able to kick off my new year reading this month with the second & latest installment in her “you are your own fairy tale” feminist poetry series. shine your icy crown is its own fairytale, interweaving the story of a princess who doesn’t want to accept a crown from a prince, a big sister’s advice to a little sister, and pieces of wisdom & advice.

amanda lovelace’s poetry always comes at the right time for me. I always look forward to sitting down with a set of page tabs and making note of all the poems that I really relate with. The poems that spoke to me the most in this collection reflected women empowerment and doing things for one’s self. Given the timeliness of inaugurating our first female vice president here in the US, I especially loved the poems about female leadership. My favorite section of the book was this first section, which alternates between the ‘little sister’ having darker and honest thoughts about herself and the ‘big sister’ giving her corresponding advice. I loved the poems dealing with creating your own story, (female) friendship, and dealing with crushes, unrequited men, and partnership. There were some poems across the collection that I couldn’t personally relate to, but I always appreciate that amanda lovelace’s poetry is so representative of different female experiences. Read More »

2021 Reading Goals

I wasn’t going to publish my 2021 reading goals because until last week, it didn’t feel like I had any.  I was writing my winter 2021 recent TBR additions post, when I realized I mentioned at least 2 reading goals and figured it was time to formalize them. I didn’t rush to formalize or even create goals for 2021 because let’s be honest, everything is in such a weird fluctuating state right now both in the world and even in my personal life. I’ll get more into this below when I talk about the amount of books I want to read this year, but I’m currently in my last semester in a fairly intense graduate program and by the time I settle in for the night, I’m often too tired to focus on reading – I find that I have the most energy to read right when I get home if I don’t have to do work or attend a remote class.

Read at least 75 books, with the ultimate goal of reading at least 100 – You can probably tell that there is a bit of an explanation to how many books I want to read in 2021. I do the most amount of reading in the summer months, reading 12-15 books a month between June through August. I then on average read anywhere from 5-10 books during the other months, based on school commitments and work. I definitely got a boost in 2020 due to the state of the world and that I was the type of person who looked (and still looks) to reading as a way to relax and be distracted.  I wasn’t commuting whatsoever, I wasn’t living with my friends (who are awesome but definitely distract me from reading), I worked and went to school from home, & had a ton of beach and pool days.

That all being said, I think I will be able to read at least 75 books in 2021, which I set as my Goodreads goal. The ultimate goal is to read at least 100 books, since I’ve been able to do so each year since 2018. The reach, REACH goal is to read more than 133 books in 2021, which was the amount of books I read in 2020. I think in order to do so, I would have to cut out a significant amount of TV time out of my life. I do ultimately read more than I watch… but then I get to my monthly wrap ups and am always astonished about how much TV I did ultimately watch. Also add in the fact that after a long day of work and school, I tend to favor TV over reading because I feel like I can’t focus as much. I’m always caught between knowing I want to read more but also feeling tired, but ultimately, reading is something that I forever want to be able to enjoy and not treat as a chore.

Read at least 1 non-fiction book every 1-2 months/ at least 6 non-fiction books total – 2020 was the year of non-fiction for me… okay, I think I only read 8 non-fiction books out of the 133 I did read, but that is the most amount of non-fiction I read any other year. I’m going to try to regularly incorporate non-fiction into my reading life in 2021 by reading at least 1 non-fiction book every 2 months. I’d like to beat my 2020 total by reading more than 8, but I find that a non-fiction book really has to grab me in order to read it and I generally don’t have many on my TBR (aka leave me recs in the comments).

Catch up reading popular contemporary books/contemporary romances – I somewhat started this goal in 2020, but I want to catch up on popular contemporary or contemporary books that I haven’t yet read either because of the hype scaring me away, I wasn’t originally interested in the book when it first came out, or I just haven’t gotten to them yet. Some priority books for me include The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes, The Friend Zone series by Abby Jimenez, Katherine Center’s books, and most of Christina Lauren’s backlist. Whenever I’m stressed IRL, I always reach for a contemporary book and I’m going to try & reach for these in those moments.

Actually reread books – Rereading is often a goal we all strive to do each year, and more often than not, I personally never reread as much as I’d like. I couldn’t tell you how many ‘rereading goals’ blog posts I’ve written over the past 4 years, but I could tell you that I most likely only reread maybe half of the books I listed. Between lockdown and my county library being closed for a few months last year, I ended up rereading 7 books, but once the libraries and bookstores opened up again, I basically kissed any rereading goals goodbye. I’d like to get back to my goal of rereading Rainbow Rowell’s contemporary books (I have Fangirl and Eleanor & Park left), Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Frost & Starlight and House of Earth & Blood before their respective sequels come out, Jenny Han’s Always & Forever, Lara Jean, and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.

What are your reading goals for 2021? Do you have any contemporary romance or nonfiction recommendations? Share in the comments!

Recent TBR Additions: Winter 2021 Edition

Last year, I shared a few recent TBR additions posts and I want to keep up the trend more frequently in 2021 – maybe I’ll share  each season! I love these blog posts because it’s fun to share my recent reading cravings and also got feedback from you if you’ve read the book or have similar recommendations. I’m not the type of reader whose goal it is to get their TBR down to single digits or 0. I actually enjoy knowing that there’s always books I’m looking forward to reading one day.

shine your icy crown (you are your own fairy tale #2) by amanda lovelace – I absolutely loved the first collection in amanda lovelace’s you are your own fairy tale poetry series, break your glass sippers, in 2020 – so much so that I can’t believe I didn’t realize the second installment is coming out next week until I was generously given a copy for review by the publisher!! I cannot wait to dive into shine your icy crown on a cozy weekend day ASAP. shine your icy crown comes out on January 26. 

Our Italian Summer by Jennifer Probst – I discovered Jennifer Probst’s Our Italian Summer through Emily Henry’s Instagram last week. I recently read The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany, and I’m so ready to once again dive into the Italian setting. The book follows three generations of women as they embark on a summer vacation to trace their family roots in Italy. Read More »

evermore book tag

I was so swept up in the holidays and taking a small laptop detox in December that I didn’t consider if there was an evermore book tag floating around the book blogosphere. It’s been over a month since Taylor Swift’s second surprise album of 2020 came out, and I still can’t decide (not that it’s a high stakes decision) if I prefer folklore or evermore.Surprise, surprise, I love both so much! Right now, I’m leaning more towards folklore, but evermore has become my go-to car music lately. My current top favorite songs are “no body, no crime,” “marjorie,” and “ ’tis the damn season,” with much love for “right where you left me,” “dorothea,” and “long story short.”

The evermore book tag was created by Ahaana of Windows to World, and I personally discovered the tag through Erin of Rin’s Reads. 

willow – a book with a character you can’t help but fall in love with 

I absolutely love The Russian/Vlad from Lyssa Kay Adams’ Bromance Book Club series, and I can’t wait for his own installment coming out this summer, Isn’t It Bromantic?, featuring his mystery wife, Elena. 

champagne problems – a book with a broken relationship 

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle – there’s a few in this book, and I think it’s even more coincidental that I believe the characters drink champagne at some point. 

gold rush –  a book you love with all your heart

Yes it’s 2021, and yes I’m still keeping my love for Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl alive and well. 

Read More »

MATURE YA READ ABOUT FRIENDSHIP: Our Year of Maybe Review

Summary (from the publisher):

Aspiring choreographer Sophie Orenstein would do anything for Peter Rosenthal-Porter, who’s been on the kidney transplant list as long as she’s known him. Peter, a gifted pianist, is everything to Sophie: best friend, musical collaborator, secret crush. When she learns she’s a match, donating a kidney is an easy, obvious choice. She can’t help wondering if after the transplant, he’ll love her back the way she’s always wanted.

But Peter’s life post-transplant isn’t what either of them expected. Though he once had feelings for Sophie too, he’s now drawn to Chase, the guitarist in a band that happens to be looking for a keyboardist. And while neglected parts of Sophie’s world are calling to her—dance opportunities, new friends, a sister and niece she barely knows—she longs for a now-distant Peter more than ever, growing increasingly bitter he doesn’t seem to feel the same connection.

Peter fears he’ll forever be indebted to her. Sophie isn’t sure who she is without him. Then one blurry, heartbreaking night twists their relationship into something neither of them recognizes, leading them to question their past, their future, and whether their friendship is even worth fighting for.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

I really enjoy YA contemporaries that focus more on friendship and family dynamics rather than romance (don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE a good YA romance). I really enjoyed Rachel Lynn Solomon’s You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone and her 2020 release, Today Tonight Tomorrow, was my favorite book of the year. As one of my new favorite authors, I knew I had to read the only book of hers I hadn’t yet read, Our Year of Maybe. I was gifted a copy of the recently released paperback editio, which looks so good on one of my contemporary bookshelves!

Back to the book, Our Year of Maybe follows forever best friends and neighbors, Sophie and Peter. While Peter & Sophie have always been super close, from always hanging out to putting on performances for their families as Sophie dances and Peter plays piano, their friendship goes to the next level when Sophie donates her kidney to Peter. Peter has a chronic kidney disease, but after a successful transplant from Sophie, he’s able to go back to school and live his life outside of the confines of his house and his parents’ strict rules. But as Peter makes new friends without Sophie and Sophie gets swept into dance team and picturing a new life for herself, the two have to deal with their feelings for another. 

I know that was a lot to unravel about the book, but in short, Sophie and Peter at a few points in their relationship have had more-than-friends feelings for one another, but the lines between genuine love for each other as friends vs. romantic feels get even more muddy after Sophie donates her kidney to Peter and Peter begins to form new relationships and discover a new life for himself. By the end of the book, Sophie and Peter are both such different people. I really liked seeing their transformation, especially for Sophie, who often adapted her social life and future plans for Peter’s sake. Read More »