Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Character Names

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and the meme moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to list their favorite character names. The following names are in no particular order. Also, I added more than ten names because it was very hard to narrow down amazing character names. 


1. Newt Scamander, Percival Graves and Seraphina Picquery from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Screenplay by J.K. Rowling.

2. Cricket Bell from Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins.

3. Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell from the Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco.

4. Alice Alexis Queensmeadow from Furthermore by Tahrereh Mafi.

5. Fleur Delacour, Draco Malfoy and Sirius Black from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.

6. Annabeth Chase from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan.

7. Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

8. Amatis Herondale (née Graymark) from The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.

9. Kestrel from The Winner's Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski.

10. Mayavati from The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi.

11. Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

12. John Ambrose McClaren (aka JAM) from To All the Boys I've Loved Before trilogy by Jenny Han.


What are some of your favorite character names?

Friday, May 18, 2018

From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon

Title: From Twinkle, With Love
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: May 22, 2018
Pages: 336
Source/format: e-ARC//Publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.  

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Twinkle Mehra is an aspiring filmmaker living in Colorado Springs. She has a major crush on swimmer Neil Roy. Neil's twin brother, Sahil Roy, is a film fanatic and is his part of the film club at school. He asks Twinkle to be part of it and to direct a film for Pike Peak Charter's Midsummer Night. Not only is Twinkle ecstatic that she gets to pursue her passion but it's one step closer to getting know Neil. Sahil and Twinkle decide to film a gender bender version of Dracula. During the first part of the novel, Twinkle is very oblivious that Sahil is flirting with her since Twinkle is very into Neil who by chance hasn't really noticed her. The ironic part is that Sahil and Neil are twins and Sahil likes Twinkle. Let's just say that Sahil likes Twinkle a lot.

I noticed that in the novel, Twinkle does not have a cellphone like many of her peers which was nice to see. Because she doesn't have a cell phone, her communication with people is usually in person or via e-mail. Twinkle receives an e-mail from a secure admirer who signs the e-mail with N. Of course Twinkle believes the secret admirer is Neil.

Sandhya Menon weaves in socioeconomics within the novel with how Sahil and Neil lives in the affluent part of town compared to Twinkle who lives humbly. Indian culture and family values are important for Twinkle's family. Dadi definitely steals the show though! I love her personality and the interactions she has with Twinkle. Yet Sahil is so charming and is generally a thoughtful guy who likes Twinkle for just being Twinkle.

Throughout the novel, Twinkle's character growth is more apparent than anyone else's even though it's a rollercoaster of a ride. She learns a lot from her actions and the things she says. Menon captures the excitement of high school yet she writes about the gossip and the downright ugly parts of high school life realistically. Teens can be mean and a main reason is because people can't seem to communicate truthfully to one another.

The formatting of the novel is as if Twinkle is writing to female film directors that she admires which I found very unique. On the letters, the dates are carefully listed and the location of where Twinkle is located at. Occasionally there are e-mails, Sahil's text messages to his friend's and random blog posts scattered through out the book.

From Twinkle, with Love is an engaging contemporary novel that's inspiring for female teens. In a male dominated industry, Twinkle proves that females can be amazing directors. Her version of Dracula is so well liked, that many prominent schools and figures in the film industry contact her for interviews or to write articles. One place in Mumbai asks her to speak at an event which actually is a way for her to give back to her family. Twinkle has a chance to give her family a gift to visit their homeland.

If you love When Dimple Met Rishi, you will devour From Twinkle, with Love. Trust me, it's pretty grab!


Monday, May 14, 2018

Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian

Title: Stay Sweet
Author: Siobhan Vivian
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication date: April 24, 2018
Pages: 368
Source/format: Library//Hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆1/2

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):
A summer read about first love, feminism, and ice cream.

Summer in Sand Lake isn’t complete without a trip to Meade Creamery—the local ice cream stand founded in 1944 by Molly Meade who started making ice cream to cheer up her lovesick girlfriends while all the boys were away at war. Since then, the stand has been owned and managed exclusively by local girls, who inevitably become the best of friends. Seventeen-year-old Amelia and her best friend Cate have worked at the stand every summer for the past three years, and Amelia is “Head Girl” at the stand this summer. When Molly passes away before Amelia even has her first day in charge, Amelia isn’t sure that the stand can go on. That is, until Molly’s grandnephew Grady arrives and asks Amelia to stay on to help continue the business…but Grady’s got some changes in mind…

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Run by all girls, Meade's Creamery ice cream stand is open from the first day of June to the last day of August at Sand Lake. Meade's Creamery opened up in 1945 by Molly Meade, the mastermind of the delicious homemade ice cream,  and is a favorite with the locals and visitors all summer long.

Amelia Van Hagen becomes Head Girl after she graduates her senior year of high school. She has been working at Meade's Creamery every summer since four years ago. All the girls wear strawberry pink polo shirts and the Head Girl is granted a gold flower pin. This is going to be the best last summer working at Meade's Creamery until one morning, Amelia stumbles upon the death of Molly. Everyone thought Molly had no family around to continue the business but Grady, Molly's great-nephew, takes over but with many new changes to be implemented.

In Stay Sweet, Amelia takes charge for the most part but she is very much a goody two shoe and likes to do everything perfectly. She doesn't like getting in trouble and likes to follow the rules. Even keeping secrets is hard for her. Amelia's friend Cate, who is also a Meade Creamery girl, is usually there for Amelia but this summer has been a rocky one. Amelia and Cate have a falling out in the book which causes major tension in their friendship. Unfortunately, the tension is due to boundaries involving a guy and also having control of Meade's Creamery as Head Girl.

I don't want to spoil the ending but Amelia finds out what she loves to do and she makes her dreams happen even though the journey is bumpy. Working at the Meade's Creamery isn't about the ice cream. It's about the experience and the friends you will meet. It's about the bonding and what you get out of the summer working there. The memories that are made will last a lifetime.

Unfortunately, the romance in the novel wasn't up to par compared to other contemporaries. It felt too rushed and I didn't feel the chemistry. There was one point where both parties though they loved each other but they hardly knew each other. Also, I wish there was more character growth with Cate. She had so much potential to blossom and to mature. It seems like Amelia was the only one who had significant character growth. She learned what the consequences are after she says certain things or does certain things. She learned from her mistakes. Amelia also finds out her calling. Also, there was very little background information about the other girls in the novel. I was hoping for more interaction with Amelia's parents. Grady also seemed so consumed with pleasing his father and doing well at Truman. I wish Grady brought more to the table. He took all of the credit and didn't vouch for Amelia's hard work. And when Grady promoted Cate trying to fix a friendship, it was a hard hit for Amelia.

There were a couple of things that I was curious about regarding running a business. Home Sweet Home is one of the flavors Molly Meade makes for her ice cream stand. However, no one knows what is in it. I found this sort of unrealistic because of the laws in food service, food vendors are required to know the ingredients in their products due to food allergies. Also, I found it unrealistic that the girls are being paid $15.00 per hour and the Head Girl gets paid $17.00 per hour. As a high school student, you're glad to be making minimum wage. I believe in Massachusetts, the minimum now is $11.00. I used to start at $7.00 back in like 2005 when I first worked as an ice cream scooper and when I left the ice cream industry in 2011, I was making $10.85 in a supervisor role. Many jobs at $15.00 or $17.00 nowadays require some sort of experience or a degree.

I do applaud Siobhan Vivian for creating a book that screams summer! The novel is very nostalgic for me since it takes me back to when I was working at an ice cream shop for seven years. I have had experience working at a regional ice cream shop and also a national more well known ice cream shop. Each had their pros and cons but Meade's Creamery definitely brought make memories of the polo shirts, the long lines during the summer and the relationships you make with coworkers and the customers. Vivian also has a slight feminist take on the story. The girls are in charge of their lives from Molly all the way to Amelia. The guys don't hold the power.

Molly's diary entries can be scattered throughout the novel which allows history from the 1940's to be woven into a sort of mystery that Amelia is trying to solve. The hunt for the ice cream favor recipes can be tracked through diary entries to letters. I would love to see some of the recipes as an extra add on for the paperback version of Stay Sweet next year.

Stay Sweet is a quick read that readers can soak up on a nice summer day. It's light and fairly fast paced. Ice cream is very nostalgic in general. It allows the person to reminisce about their childhood.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Eggsistential Thoughts and Gudetama's Guide to Life

Thank you to Penguin Random House for providing two Gudetama books for me to review. I have always been a Sanrio fan and I know a lot of people rave about Gudetama. I was interested in reading more about this intriguing character. Please see below for more information about Eggsistential Thoughts and Gudetama's Guide to Life.



BY: GUDETAMA THE LAZY EGG

Meh . . .

From Sanrio, who brought you Hello Kitty, comes Gudetama, the lazy egg. 
Not all Sanrio characters are cheery! In Japanese, when you're lazy, you are referred to as gude gude. And that's where our new friend gets its name. Gudetama (tama from tamago, egg in Japanese) is the lazy egg. Gudetama likes soy sauce and being left alone. Sometimes, Gudetama wonders if we are born only to suffer. And here, in Eggsistential Thoughts, are Gudetama's musings on life.


ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Francesco Sedita and Max Bisantz are two authors who enjoy eggs, no matter how lazy. They both reside in New York City.


GUDETAMA'S GUIDE TO LIFE

BY: BRIAN ELLING

From Sanrio, who brought you Hello Kitty, Gudetama the Lazy Egg returns with a guidebook to living life to the almost fullest.
In Japanese, when you're lazy, you are referred to as gude gude. Gudetama (tama from "tamago," egg in Japanese) is the lazy egg. Gudetama likes soy sauce and being left alone. Sometimes, Gudetama wonders if we are born only to suffer.

Each page of this book is kind of packed with helpful lessons, inspiring quotes and mind-blowing advice that will have you laying around like an egg in no time! And all of it comes straight from the yolk of a Gudetama!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Elling is the author of several books for children. He lives in Los Angeles, California.


MY THOUGHTS

Both of these Gudetama books are bright in color and are very simple. Gudetama is a Sanrio character that can be seen on the contrast with much of Sanrio's cheery characters. There is some speculation that Gudetama may have depression or another mental health illness. Also, in Gudetama's Guide to Life, readers find out that Gudetama is gender neutral. This is one of the first times I've seen a gender neutral character in a book.

Although, people may see Gudetama as a lazy egg, they have a very strong stance about things. Gudetama has wonderful do's and don'ts that everyone can live by. Gudetama reminds people that it's okay if you don't want to get out of bed. It's okay not do over do it. Gudetama is blunt and will tell you how they feel.

Eggsistential Thoughts is more like a picture book with vibrant colors and short phrases for each spread. Read this book first before reading Gudetama's Guide to Life. The simplicity of the Eggsistential Thoughts lets readers get a overall understanding who Gudetama is. Gudetama's Guide to Life goes more into detail about Gudetama's life and the guidebook is full of advice on living life to the almost fullest.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Top Ten Books With My Favorite Color On the Cover

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and the meme moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to list their top ten books with their favorite color on the cover. My favorite color is teal and surprisingly there are a good amount of books that have teal on the cover. The following books are in no particular order.  So I might have added more than ten books here. 


1. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins is the last book in the Anna and the French Kiss companion trilogy. Not only do readers experience Paris, New York City and Barcelona, but they get to read about Isla and Josh! There are also cameos of characters from Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door.


2. Stardust by Neil Gaiman is a little bit different from the film but it's very good. Tristran Thorn has lost his heart to the beautiful Victoria Forester and he vows to retrieve her a falling star. He lives in the tiny town wall and ends up going over the wall into a world he has never imagined.


3. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson may be hard for some people to read since it deals with eating disorders and how one girl lost her life. Self-image is highly prevalent in this chilling novel.


4. P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han may only have some teal for the text but I still counted the novel in this week's TTT because it's a fantastic book! Not only do root for JAM but this novel in particular is very nostalgic for me with the game of Assassins. Plus, I love this contemporary series!


5. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell might lean toward more mint green than teal but I'll add it to the list anyways because this is one of my favorite books of all time. If you love cute contemporaries, fandom and fan fiction, this is definitely a book to pick up! The Simon Snow fandom is very similar to Harry Potter. Also, there is a cute romance in the novel. Cath and Levi, forever!


6. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia is also another fandom based book but it's geared toward a webcomic, Monstrous Sea, that Eliza creates under an anonymous name. She happens to meet one of the webcomic's biggest fans and he attends her high school.


7. Feed by M.T. Anderson is a sci-fi novel that I read back in 2008ish in my Literature for Young Adults college class. I love reading about dystopian and consumerism during that time because I was a Communications-Advertising major and enjoyed reading books about technology and how people are influenced by the things they read, hear and see.


8. Lost in Thought by Cara Bertrand is the first book in the Sentenia series. If you love reading about boarding schools and the paranormal, this book is for you! I also loved the interactions Lainey and Carter have within this novel.


9. Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato is the second installment in the Little Elliot picture book series. I am a huge fan of Curato's books and artwork. Not only is the Little Elliot books timeless but the adventures Little Elliot goes on with mouse is fun to read about. This time, Little Elliot and Mouse need a break from the big city and decide to venture to the countryside to relax with some farm animals.


10. As I Descended by Robin Talley is a modern paranormal retelling of Macbeth. Located on a creepy plantation, Acheron Academy is an elite boarding school located in Virginia where all the students have their eyes on a prestigious scholarship. However, how far will people go to obtain that scholarship?


11. Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch is such a cute contemporary about Lina who travels to Florence, Italy after the death of her mother to live with her father. Also, Lina meets Ren! Immerse yourself in Tuscany! This novel actually brought back memories from when I visited Florence back in 2009.


12. North of Happy by Adi Alsaid is a coming-of-age novel about Carlos who relocates from Mexico to Washington to pursue his dream to become a chef. The novel is chockfull of recipes and readers find out more about Felix, Carlos's brother.


13. Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly is a dark middle grade novel about Kymera who tries to save girls of Bryre that an evil wizard has been kidnapping. However, her father tells her that she must not be seen by humans. This whimsical novel weaves in self-acceptance and how appearances are not everything.





What is your favorite color and what books do you have on your list? Do you have any book recommendations with teal as part of the cover art?

Friday, May 4, 2018

Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

Title: Love & Luck
Author: Jenna Evans Welch
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: May 8, 2018
Pages: 320
Source/format: e-ARC from Publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Addie is visiting Ireland for her aunt’s over-the-top destination wedding, and hoping she can stop thinking about the one horrible thing she did that left her miserable and heartbroken—and threatens her future. But her brother, Ian, isn’t about to let her forget, and his constant needling leads to arguments and even a fistfight between the two once inseparable siblings. Miserable, Addie can’t wait to visit her friend in Italy and leave her brother—and her problems—behind.

So when Addie discovers an unusual guidebook, Ireland for the Heartbroken, hidden in the dusty shelves of the hotel library, she’s able to finally escape her anxious mind and Ian’s criticism.

And then their travel plans change. Suddenly Addie finds herself on a whirlwind tour of the Emerald Isle, trapped in the world’s smallest vehicle with Ian and his admittedly cute, Irish-accented friend Rowan. As the trio journeys over breathtaking green hills, past countless castles, and through a number of fairy-tale forests, Addie hopes her guidebook will heal not only her broken heart, but also her shattered relationship with her brother.

That is if they don’t get completely lost along the way.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Addie Bennett is in Ireland for her aunt's wedding. Right after the wedding, she gets to fly out to Florence, Italy to meet up with her best friend Lina. However, there is a catch. Since Addie was fighting with her brother, Ian, her mother decides that having both siblings fly out to Florence would be a good way to for them to bond. If either of them causes a ruckus, they are both kicked off their sports teams. However, Ian has other plans.

I was super excited that Jenna Evans Welch transports her readers to another country and even ties in characters from her debut novel, Love & Gelato, with Love & Luck. With the introduction of Addie and Addie's mother and brothers, readers also meet Ian's Irish friend, Rowan, who is equally as charming as he is smart. Not only did he figure out how to resolve a family argument between Ian and Addie, but Rowan and Addie eventually become good friends. Addie's first words to Rowan are "Who are you?" in a demanding voice and sees Rowan as a nuisance at first. She warms up to him as the novel progresses.

One of my favorite characters is Ian. Even though he is a football player who is scouted out for a scholarship to attend Washington State University, Ian's passions lies elsewhere. Ian has his own blog called My Lexicon and he is a teen music online journalist. He has a pretty good following online and that's how Rowan and Ian met. Rowan has been following Ian's articles for sometime and decided to contact him. Ian doesn't care too much about Washington State because he is working on polishing up his portfolio for a career in journalism. This is Ian's secret that he has been hiding from his family. However, Addie also has a secret she has been hiding from her family and it has to do with Cubby Jones. Throughout the novel, Addie utilizes Ireland for the Heartbroken to get over heartbreak while she travels throughout Ireland.

Welch is able to flesh out a lot about characters' pasts beyond the main character. It adds substance to the plot and characterization to understand what these characters have been through. What are their struggles? How did they overcome them? What are they trying to achieve now? What are there goals and what are their pursuits to their own happiness? It helps readers figure out why characters say the things they say and do the things they do.

When you first read Love & Luck, you think this is just Addie's story but it's so much more than that. I see it more like Ian's story and how Addie and Rowan add to his journey of following a band's footprints from their early days to their days of their final show. It's also a story about how Addie needs to figure out what she wants from life. Addie actually has a passion in auto mechanics but she only sees it as a hobby. Both Addie and Ian strengthen their sibling bond with this journey throughout Ireland. This novel contains ultimate coming-of-age stories about Addie and Ian.

One thing that bothered me about the novel was how Addie claims that the only way that she will be able to attend a good college is through soccer. Although I don't want to see teens think like this, it does happen. I hope that Addie didn't see soccer as her only way to a good college. Also, what is defined as a "good" college? Everyone's definition of "good" varies. 

Love & Luck is wanderlust at its very best, tracing steps to a music festival in Ireland along sibling bonding and exploring Ireland with a guidebook to ease heartache. It's the perfect summer read where time slows down and people dive into new experiences. I highly recommend Love & Luck for readers who love traveling, music and coming-of-age novels. Definitely read Love & Gelato if you haven't but it's not a required to read Love & Gelato before Love & Luck.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Top Books I’d Slay a Lion to Get Early

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and the meme moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to list their top ten books they would slay a lion to get early. The following books are in no particular order. I actually came short and listed eight books.


1. Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco is the third installment in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell venture out to the Americas on a luxurious ocean liner where passengers are murdered one by one. The question is, who is the killer? I loved the first two books and I am sure I will love this one as well. It's one of my most anticipated novels of the year.


2. Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft edited by Jessica Spotswood and Tess Sharpe is an anthology including stories written by authors such as Emery Lord, Zoraida Córdova and Robin Talley. This anthology contains contemporary, historical, and futuristic stories featuring witchy heroines who are diverse in race, class, sexuality, religion, geography, and era. I cannot wait to read this and look at the bewitching cover art!


3. Forest Queen by Betsy Cornwell is a gender swapped retelling of Robin Hood. That alone sounds awesome! I read Cornwell's Mechanica and Venturess which are wonderful retellings loosely based on Cinderella. Also, I am digging this stunning cover art.


4. Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka sounds like an adorable and fluffy read. Megan Harper's exes find their one true love right after dating her. Instead of Megan feeling sorry for herself, she focuses on her passion for directing theatre. However, things backfire when she tries to have the smallest role possible in Romeo & Juliet. Of course she somehow gets casted with the lead role of Juliet. This novel sounds up my alley and the spring is the perfect time to read it.


5. Merry Christmas, Little Elliot by Mike Curato is the fifth book in the Little Elliot series. This time we have a holiday Little Elliot book which I am beyond excited for! With Curato's timeless illustrations and wonderful narration, I am always looking forward to a new Little Elliot book.


6. A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan is a retelling about the story of King Midas and how everything he touches turns to gold. He almost kills his daughter with this ability and relinquishes The Touch forever because of this. However, ten years later his daughter bears the consequences of her father’s wish and her skin glows golden. I am very intrigued about this novel!


7. Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi is a collection of short stories that take place in the universe of The Star-Touched Queen and A Crown of Wishes. I love Chokshi's lush and beautiful writing and her stories are captivating. This is an excellent addition to her exquisitely written novels.


8. Kingdom of The Blazing Phoenix by Julie A. Dao is another one of my most anticipated novels for 2018. I absolutely loved Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. Both novels are part of the Rise of the Empress series. The latter is a retelling about the Evil Queen. The sequel is a retelling of Snow White which in this novel is Princess Jade.



What books would you slay a lion to get early? I can't wait to see what books everyone is excited about!