Book Spine Poetry Sunday (8)

On rare Sundays, I will be posting book spine poems because I love poems and I love books and I think book spine poetry is awesome. Thank you to Charlie of Letter Trails for the feature photo!
Dark Places
Dead Silent
Exile
Lucid
Lullabies
The Madness
Insomnia
You can follow me on Instagram at oopsireadabookagain for more bookish photos (with low resolution and bad lighting HAHA)!

Want to change some titles on my poem? Go comment your own version below! Just have at least one of those books in yours. Have your own book spine poem? Share them! Looking forward to seeing them!
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Playlist: For rainy summer days and hot rainy days~

So in all honesty, I’m just too lazy to write my #LeighBardugoinPH recap yet. I only slept for 3 hours because WE GOT NO ELECTRICITY in da hood, yo. Obviously, I am very bleary-eyed and I am not accountable for anything I say. Plus, dudes, I freakin’ met and talked to and sang Britney Spears to Leigh Bardugo yesterday and it has been surreal and I am still not over it. I can’t believe it happened! And now it’s Monday and I am here in the office bored out of my wits.

With that, I’m sharing this short playlist I made last week! I don’t even know why that’s the title of the playlist because my plan was just to make a playlist of upbeat songs sang by female vocalists. Not everything are dance-y upbeat though, just, all songs in here are feel-good. I guess that’s the title because last Friday was an uncategorizable day. I don’t know if it was a rainy summer day or just a damn hot rainy day. And I was yearning for some upbeat songs and HERE IT IS!



Hope you enjoy this one-hour mix!

In other news, keep an eye out for my #LeighBardugo recap this week!

Review: The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

It’s so sad when a hyped book that you were sure you’d love ends up disappointing you.

The Night We Said Yes

Title: The Night We Said Yes
Author: Lauren Gibaldi
Publisher: Harper Teen
Date of Publication: June 16, 2015

A fun, romantic read, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Susane Colasanti!

Before Matt, Ella had a plan. Get over a no-good ex-boyfriend. Graduate from high school without any more distractions. Move away from Orlando, Florida, where she’s lived her entire life.

But Matt—the cute, shy, bespectacled bass player who just moved to town—was never part of that plan.

And neither was attending a party that was crashed by the cops just minutes after they arrived. Or spending an entire night saying “yes” to every crazy, fun thing they could think of.

Then Matt abruptly left town, and he broke not only Ella’s heart but those of their best friends, too. So when he shows up a year later with a plan of his own—to relive the night that brought them together—Ella isn’t sure whether Matt’s worth a second chance. Or if re-creating the past can help them create a different future.

In alternating then and now chapters, debut author Lauren Gibaldi crafts a charming, romantic story of first loves, lifelong friendships, uncovered secrets, and, ultimately, finding out how to be brave.

Pre-order from Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository


Review

My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Thank you to HarperCollins International for the review copy! Receiving one did not affect my views of the novel.

I started The Night We Said Yes after I finished The Start of Me and You because I felt like binging contemporary YA novels. I’ve been hearing great things about it so I dived into it. But by the third chapter, I figured that it wasn’t working for me. I want to love this one so I decided to put it down for a while. Maybe the timing wasn’t right, I thought.

After almost a month, I decided to pick it up again but even though I brought it everywhere I went, I never actually picked it up. I was dreading going back to reading it and that should have been a sign to STOP THE MADNESS, LET GO OF THE GUILT, DROP THIS BOOK. But I’m stubborn so last Saturday, I started reading this again.

Oh boy, I wanted to gouge my eyes out. It wasn’t horrible but that’s the problem. If it was horrible, maybe I would have been entertained. Alas, the writing was fine but ultimately, the characters were a big ol’ MEH. Good lord, I was 20% in and I didn’t want to go further. I couldn’t care less about the characters as they bored me to tears. I didn’t care why Matt left a year ago and I was so annoyed by how Ella (It took me a minute to remember her name…) read like someone whose life isn’t complete because of a boy. I went to Twitter to ask for advice because the need to DNF was soaring. People either loved it or even if they didn’t at the start, they urged me to not quit as it gets better. So I listened and powered through until the end even if it was akin to being tortured. (I do exaggerate.)

Yes, it did get better, I guess, (in that maybe I was desensitized to being annoyed at Ella) but STILL, nothing made me care about Ella and Matt. They could have not patched things up and I WOULDN’T EVEN BAT AN EYELASH. I know, I sound so mean but GAH, I feel frustrated just remembering things and writing this review.

I actually like the secondary characters more! I was more invested in Jake and Meg’s (I had to check my copy as I couldn’t remember Ella’s best friend’s name…) will-they-won’t-they story. Guys, I read this book just a week ago and I couldn’t even remember the names of the characters. Me, who can still remember the name of the duck in The Once and Future King which I read at least six years ago… Guys, isn’t that a GLARING SIGN on how much I wish I didn’t waste my time finishing this? I should have listened to my book conscience telling me to drop this.

It’s not about Ella being a bit of an introvert compared to how vivacious her best friend Meg was that bored me. It was because the characters read like stock characters to me. They don’t have small quirks that made them real to me. All Ella talked about and thought about was Matt and her jerk of a first boyfriend. They were just characters to me so I didn’t feel for them.

Then when the reveal happened on why Matt left town, I just scoffed. The whole conflict was built on that and it didn’t pay off. Then the book glossed over it right away. WHAT GIVES?

It just saddens me that I did not love this one or even remotely like it. I wanted to join the loving party for this one but PASS. It was so reminiscent of how much Love, Lucy irritated and frustrated the hell out of me. I’m in the minority in here though so I’d still say that you should check out The Night We Said Yes for a story of second chances and saying yes to what life has in store for you.

About Lauren Gibaldi

I’m an author of young adult novels and public librarian. I’ve been, among other things, a magazine editor, high school English teacher, bookseller, and circus aerialist (seriously). I have a BA in Literature and Master’s in Library and Information Studies, both from Florida State University. I currently live in Orlando, Florida with my husband, daughter, and ever-expanding collection of books. (I mean, it comes with the professions, right?)

I love dinosaurs, pasta, musicals, and cheesy jokes.

I’m represented by Michelle Andelman with Regal Literary.

Review: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

It is by friggin’ Lauren Oliver so OF COURSE I have to read it. It is by friggin’ Lauren Oliver so OF COURSE it is amazing.

Vanishing Girls

Title: Vanishing Girls
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperCollins
Date of Publication: March 10, 2015

New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver delivers a gripping story about two sisters inexorably altered by a terrible accident.

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it’s too late.

In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.

Purchase from Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository

Review

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I read Vanishing Girls with Miel of Bookish and Awesome (linked is his review) and I’m glad I read it with someone because this is the type of book that you just HAVE TO discuss afterwards. I mean, we both went WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK DID JUST HAPPEN toward the end of the book. It is THAT kind of book.


As expected from Lauren Oliver, Vanishing Girls was slow in its build-up. I remember Miel telling me around halfway of the novel that nothing was happening and that the build-up and prose are slow. But that’s the brilliance of Lauren Oliver. Nothing is happening and it feels and reads sluggish but everything ties up in the end. When she decides to pull all the tension possible into a scene? HOLD ON, I CANNOT FOLLOW. I CANNOT BREATHE. Damn, Lauren Oliver, damn.

What was so great about Vanishing Girls is that I had a hunch right from the start and apparently, I was right! But Lauren Oliver made me reject that hunch and my gut feel EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. so that’s what I did. I rejected my gut feeling. That’s how great Lauren Oliver is because I trusted her narrative more than what my mind told me.

I know Lauren Oliver is not for everyone as her writing style is not for everyone but damn it, she slays me with the slow, a bit dragging but detailed and beautiful prose. I think Vanishing Girls is the easiest to get into though among her novels that I’ve read (Delirium series and Panic) so for those who want to try out Lauren’s works, I suggest you go start with this. We were eating lunch and my mom noticed that I was rushing. OF COURSE, I WAS. Time away from Vanishing Girls was excruciating because I HAVE TO KNOW WHAT IS THE DEAL.

Like most of her novels, Vanishing Girls is more like a slice-of-life story and it is driven by its characters rather than the plot. The Madeline Snow case just provides a backdrop to what is essentially the story of Nick and Dara’s relationship as sisters. We peel every single layer, be it the heartwarming ones or the gritty ones.

One of my favorite aspects of the novel is how nuanced the relationship is between sisters Nick and Dara. I have a younger sister and I can definitely relate to Nick and I also know for a fact that my sister will relate to Dara. But then like Nick I also envy Dara, and my sister, like Dara, also envies her older sister. It’s such a complicated relationship. As the eldest I’m expected to be patient and be good and my sister is always compared to me. But then I wish I can be as nonplussed and not uptight and worrisome as my sister. She’s so carefree! I love my sister and I spoil her (and boss her around HAHA) but I also EXPECT a lot from her. Like, I expect her to KNOW me and my moods, know when to push me or leave me alone, etc. So when she makes a mistake, it’s so easy for me to get angry because I feel like: YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO KNOW ME THE BEST. I know when my sister’s lying and I know when to pry and when to let her do her thing. The part where if you don’t understand then maybe you don’t have a sister is just so true. I mean, of course, my sister and I are not this intense/stressful but it’s just so on point without being actually exact experiences for us.

By the end, I was having goosebumps while reading Vanishing Girls. Remember when I rejected my hunch because Lauren Oliver made it seem like I was wrong? By the time I realized I was right, I WAS FLOORED. Because little clues have been left all along, clues that were not suspicious AT ALL but worked in favor of the reality bomb Lauren Oliver just dropped all over the reader. You wouldn’t have thought that these little things, little conversations, will serve as proof in the end. They wouldn’t raise any red flags but at the end, you’d go: WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK. It was unbelievable because it works. Everything is in its place and I was left with my brain screaming FUCKING BRILLIANT.

Just, don’t give up on Vanishing Girls. I know it starts slow but just continue with it and revel in how Lauren will surprise you. DAMN, LAUREN OLIVER, DAMN.

About Lauren Oliver

Lauren Oliver comes from a family of writers and so has always (mistakenly) believed that spending hours in front of the computer every day, mulling over the difference between “chortling” and “chuckling,” is normal. She has always been an avid reader. 

She attended the University of Chicago, where she continued to be as impractical as possible by majoring in philosophy and literature. After college, she attended the MFA program at NYU and worked briefly as the world’s worst editorial assistant, and only marginally better assistant editor, at a major publishing house in New York. Her major career contributions during this time were flouting the corporate dress code at every possible turn and repeatedly breaking the printer. Before I Fall is her first published novel. 

She is deeply grateful for the chance to continue writing, as she has never been particularly good at anything else.

Review: Those Girls by Lauren Saft

Those Girls

Title: Those Girls
Author: Lauren Saft
Publisher: Poppy
Date of Publication: June 9, 2015
 
Some girls will always have your back, and some girls can’t help but stab you in it.
 
Junior year, the suburbs of Philadelphia. Alex, Mollie and Veronica are those girls: they’re the best of friends and the party girls of the school. But how well does everybody know them–and really, how well do they know one another? Alex is secretly in love with the boy next door and has joined a band–without telling anyone. Mollie suffers from a popular (and possibly sociopathic) boyfriend, as well as a serious mean streak. And Veronica just wants to be loved–literally, figuratively, physically….she’s not particular. Will this be the year that bonds them forever….or tears them apart for good?
 
Lauren Saft masterfully conveys what goes on in the mind of a teenage girl, and her debut novel is raw, honest, hilarious, and thought-provoking, with a healthy dose of heart.
 

Purchase from Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository

Review
 

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Novl and NetGalley for the review copy! Receiving one did not affect my views of the novel.

It was a Sunday and as a habit, I always sample books on my Kindle before I go to sleep. I checked the books publishing this June and remembered that Those Girls was publishing a week from then. I started Those Girls by Lauren Saft, thinking I’ll just check it out and see if it’s any good so I can read it next. But when I started it, I COULDN’T STOP! I ended up finishing it at 3AM and I ended up sleeping at 4AM because I had to re-read some ~key scenes~. This happened even though I had work at 8AM. Oops. BUT IT WAS ALL WORTH IT!

I was like, hey, I want to check out this book then I finished it. WHAT HAPPENED? A HECK OF A GREAT, ENTERTAINING BOOK IS WHAT HAPPENED. Sarah Mlynowski said it best when she blurbed Those Girls as:

“I read Those Girls the way you accidentally binge-watch a great TV show – I always had to know what happened next. Lauren Saft’s debut novel is smart, funny, and raw, and I can’t wait for more people to read it so we can talk about it.”

That was EXACTLY how it felt when I read Those Girls. I devoured it. I couldn’t stop. I’ve never watched Gossip Girl (fine, I watched the first ten episodes and all of the Dair scenes on Youtube I AM A PROUD DAIR SHIPPER) because I had no interest in seeing catfights and a group of friends backstabbing each other but IS THIS HOW GOSSIP GIRL was? Because I just might binge it. I APPARENTLY LOVE GIRLS BEING HORRIBLE TO EACH OTHER.

Those Girls was raw and real. I’m all for reading about awesome friendships but I love how the author did not shy away from writing about the toxic ones. Horrible girls in YA are far in between and it was such a breath of fresh air to me that here’s this book that focuses on them. Alex isn’t really horrible and I think majority of the readers will relate to her the most. Mollie is positively insanely scary and I LOVE IT. I feel like she will eat a person alive and her scheming? Oh gods, I love how I’m kind of afraid to cross her. Veronica, oh, Veronica. Veronica is that character in most novels that’s just one surface: the girl labeled as a slut. But I love how Veronica was written, with her own insecurities, being sex-positive, and the reasons why she acts like that.

You know all the secrets they’re keeping from each other will just be another wedge in their friendship but WHO CARES, KEEP YOUR SECRETS. LET THEM PILE UP. Some girls just want to see the world crash and burn and with this novel, I was like: OH YES, LET THE WORLD CRASH AND BURN. These girls are complex and Lauren Saft bravely wrote every gritty and shameful thoughts that crosses these girls’ minds.

I’m interviewing Lauren tomorrow (Don’t forget to check that out!) and I love what she said about how she wanted to write about the rarely-seen teenagers in YA (as protagonists, at least!): “the binge-drinking, sex-having, chain-smoking, foul-mouthed hooligans”. Lauren Saft certainly did not put on any brakes in writing these characters and the things they do. Those Girls features drugs, alcohol, and sex A LOT so it certainly isn’t for younger readers and for those with delicate sensibilities. It wasn’t pretty, not at all, but it was true. Because these characters are people that exist in real life and these things happen. 

Those Girls is mercilessly honest and unflinching in its portrayal of the toxic side of a friendship among high school girlfriends and spot-on with the characterization of these complex, sometimes-horrible (but ultimately representative of the collective embarrassingly insecure high school self) characters. It was unputdownable and such an entertaining read. I will definitely be reading more books by Lauren Saft in the future!

About Lauren Saft

Lauren Saft holds an MFA from the University of San Francisco and a Bachelor’s degree from Tufts University. She’s worked in publishing, TV, education, child care, retail, journalism, and food service, all the while closely studying the habits and compulsions of teenage girls. She currently works as a TV producer in Philadelphia where she lives with her cat and creative inspiration, Desi. Her work has been published in Five Quarterly, Rap Up Magazine, and clubplanet.com. One time, she met the Olsen twins. Those Girls is her debut novel.

Website | Twitter

Review: The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan

I asked this book as a Christmas gift last year from a friend and I just recently finished it. And a gift, that’s how it felt reading Marina Keegan’s essays and stories. Marina died a few days after she graduated from Yale and it’s a gift that we can read her works.

The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories

Title: The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories
Author: Marina Keegan
Publisher: Scribner
Date of Publication: April 8, 2014

An affecting and hope-filled posthumous collection of essays and stories from the talented young Yale graduate whose title essay captured the world’s attention in 2012 and turned her into an icon for her generation.

Marina Keegan’s star was on the rise when she graduated magna cum laude from Yale in May 2012. She had a play that was to be produced at the New York International Fringe Festival and a job waiting for her at the New Yorker. Tragically, five days after graduation, Marina died in a car crash.

As her family, friends, and classmates, deep in grief, joined to create a memorial service for Marina, her unforgettable last essay for the Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness” went viral, receiving more than 1.4 million hits. She had struck a chord.

Even though she was just twenty-two when she died, Marina left behind a rich, expansive trove of prose that, like her title essay, captures the hope, uncertainty, and possibility of her generation. The Opposite of Loneliness is an assemblage of Marina’s essays and stories that, like The Last Lecture, articulates the universal struggle that all of us face as we figure out what we aspire to be and how we can harness our talents to make an impact on the world.

Purchase from Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository


Review

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Ever since I read about Marina Keegan’s book, I knew I had to read it. I remember having goosebumps and tearing up when I read an excerpt of her essay The Opposite of Loneliness. I made sure my friend got this for me last Christmas and I just got around to reading it recently. And I cried, man, I cried. 

I am now a fan of Marina Keegan and it saddens me how these stories and essays could be the first and last of hers that I’ll be able to read. There were nine short stories and nine essays and I’ll talk a bit about some that I really loved.

Fiction

Cold Pastoral. What if your not-a-boyfriend-not-really suddenly dies? But then, you didn’t actually love him and he didn’t really love you either. But you were his last whatever-you-guys-are so you’re left to speak a eulogy for him and all that. I was surprised at how unique the situation of the protagonist is in this story and amazed at how did Marina ever think of it.

Reading Aloud. Wow. I didn’t know where this story was going at first but it reminded me a bit of the Bastille short in the film Paris, je t’aime (about the husband and his wife with the red coat). It surprised me because by the end, my heart was breaking and I didn’t even realize it.

The Emerald City. Before I read Challenger Deep (the last story), I was so sure this was my favorite one. It’s in epistolary format, emails from Will to Laura. Will is an architect in Iraq, working on re-districting and he and Laura had a something before he left. He tells her how he is and as we go on, he tells the story about how one single decision he made could have killed a lot of people. Just that one decision, where he was so sure he was doing right and helping others. It was so Homeland to me, and if you know me, Homeland is my favorite TV show. I just love how Marina Keegan wrote Will, his faith and need to do something right, that good intentions sometimes end up badly.

Baggage Claim. This one was short but I thought it was cute.

Hail, Full of Grace. The last paragraph was effin’ perfect. I’m having goosebumps right now (I am not kidding) remembering that scene and how I felt.

Challenger Deep. This, guys. BRING ON THE TEARS. This was the perfect last story and it just captured so much of the spectrum of human emotions. Love, desperation, letting go, grief, acceptance, denial, everything. I was so sure that The Emerald City was my favorite story until this. UNTIL THIS. This blew out all stories I’ve read before out of the water. I still think of this story until now. The characters. I wanna hug them. I’ll be a fan of Marina Keegan forever just for this story.

Non-Fiction

Stability in Motion. This was such a good read. About how her car isn’t just a car but it’s actually a repository of her high school memories. Her kiss with a guy, her trips with a friend, reviewing for exams, her grandmother. And how about going to college is about moving on and moving forward and passing the car to his younger brother.

Why We Care About Whales. So I teared up a bit while I read this. I was eating breakfast at McDonald’s and it just happened. (What is with me and McDonald’s and crying?)

Against the Gran. This was the essay about Marina having Celiac disease. And it was a great read, even just for seeing how Celiacs live. But I especially loved the ending.

I Kill For Money. This featured an exterminator and it positively broke my heart a little bit. Goes to show how the funny guys who joke about everything aren’t that happy on the inside.

Song for the Special. This wasn’t her strongest essay in my opinion but it was a great ending. I love everything.

While the plot and characters of her short stories are a bit unique, Marina Keegan was able to tap into something universal. Whether it be guilt, shame, letting go, insecurities, grief, sadness, yearning for lost youth, desperation, everything is just so damn heart-grabbing. I just, wow. 

Then let us not forget her non-fiction essays, which were so heartfelt. She didn’t shy away from talking about how she hated how her mother fussed about her because she has Celiac disease (she’s allergic to gluten) and then come back from that with the realization and understanding for her mother. She had insights and she was truthful about them, in the way that just grabs you because YES, THAT IT IS EXACTLY. I might not have seen pilot whales die due to beaching but her concern that it’s easier for humans to care for animals was just so on point, so real. I’m having goosebumps again when I remember how good her essays were. Just, wow. 

I definitely recommend The Opposite of Loneliness. Marina Keegan had the knack for observation and writing about it in a way that was completely accessible and relatable and mind-awakening. She puts words into emotions you’ve felt and musings you’ve thought about and makes you feel not alone. And isn’t that how books tap into you? When they make you feel not alone? When they make you feel like you’re special, not just a speck of dust in our vast universe? When they make you feel that it’s okay, someone understands? Marina Keegan probably understood more from her short years living than some people who’ve seen more. And I am grateful that she chose to share those with us in her words.

About Marina Keegan

Marina Evelyn Keegan was an American author, playwright, journalist, actress and poet. She is best known for her essay ‘The Opposite of Loneliness’, which went viral and was viewed over 1.4 million times in ninety-eight different countries after her death in a car crash just five days after she graduated magna cum laude from Yale University.

Review: The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

Honestly, I didn’t know what The Start of Me and You was all about until it arrived on my doorstep (AFTER SO LONG! *throws shade at the Philippine postal system*) and I picked it up. Emery Lord is an auto-buy author for me after I loved (and offered to be impregnated by Matt Finch, never mind he’s a fictional character SHUSH DO NOT BURST MY DAYDREAM BUBBLE) Open Road Summer and I remember wailing when I wasn’t approved for The Start of Me and You on NetGalley. Point is, AT LAST, I’VE READ THIS ONE!

The Start of Me and You

Title: The Start of Me and You
Author: Emery Lord
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Date of Publication: March 31, 2015

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

Purchase from Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository


Review

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I tried not having any expectations going into this book but it was impossible because Emery! freaking! Lord! Seriously, Open Road Summer just ranks so high up on my favorite contemporary YA books and it’s hard not to compare. And while I really liked The Start of Me and You, I still love Open Road Summer more.

In retrospect, I should have loved this novel to the end of the world. It features quite possibly all of my favorite topics and tropes. We have Paige, our heroine who’s a TV show junkie (Like me! We deconstruct and analyze TV shows! I review TV shows! And movies! Even the technical things like dialogue, editing, cinematography, etc.). She’s also a bit of an introvert, she loves to read, she’s an amazing friend, she’s close to her grandmother, just, PAIGE IS MY PERSON. We have a love interest who’s a nerd and COME HERE, MAX WATSON, LET ME PINCH YOUR CHEEKS. We have an awesome group of friends (SQUAD GOALS). IT IS A BEST FRIEND ROMANCE, COME ON, I AM PUTTY WITH THOSE. We tackle grief, moving on, taking your life by the reins, divorce, parents dating again, A LOT. Guys, I read anything tackling grief. I talked about what I feel about my grandmother dying before here in the blog. The Start of Me and You had the trappings of being in my all-time favorites list but somehow, somewhere along the pages of this book, it didn’t end up there.

Don’t get me wrong, I really liked and enjoyed The Start of Me and You. The ending was PERFECT and made me feel things in that stone I call a heart. I was so sure this was a solid 3-star read (actually, a 3.5 if only do .5s) but the ending! But why didn’t I love it entirely? I hereby list all possible reasons.

1. Max wasn’t as fleshed out as I hoped to be. I know that this is Paige’s story but I was expecting to know him more. To know is to love and sadly, this also meant I didn’t end up loving Max as much as I wanted to.

2. The Start of Me and You read a little bit young to me? I know Paige Hancock is shy and has been hiding behind her boyfriend’s death but that was how she read to me.

3. I know the title is The Start of Me and You, which means it’s the start of Paige and Max’s romance but CAN YOU FAULT ME FOR WANTING MORE KISSING AND ROMANCE-Y THINGS AND SWEET THINGS? Nope.

All in all, I enjoyed this one but my heart is still owned by Matt Finch when it comes to fictional boys written by Emery Lord. Still, Emery Lord ranks high in my favorite contemporary YA authors because YOU CAN NEVER GO WRONG WITH THE LORD. Wahaha, that was horrible. ANYWAY, I still highly recommend this one to YA contemporary lovers!

About Emery Lord

Emery Lord is a 20-something Midwestern girl who writes stories about high school and best friends and weird families and the crushes that make you feel combustibly alive and also more awkward than you thought was possible. If you’re not sure how to pronounce Emery, try slurring the name “Emily,” and that will get you really close.   

She lives in Cincinnati in a 100 year-old pink row house with her BFF/husband, a closet full of dresses, and lots of books. If karaoke-ing in grocery store aisles or guzzling coffee while impulse shopping were illegal, Emery would be writing her overemotional YA books from jail. Also, she makes up words sometimes. Like combustibly.


OPEN ROAD SUMMER, her first YA novel, is out now with Bloomsbury. Her second, The Start of Me & You, will be released March 31, 2015.

Website | Twitter

I Am More Happy Than Not


Last May, I buddy-read More Happy Than Not with Miel of Bookish and Awesome and we cried together at its rawness and all the heart-squeezes and all the damn feelings. Well, he cried first because I suck at buddy-reading and I finished it a week after he did. Inspired by More Happy Than Not, he posted THIS, wherein he lists times and things that make him more happy than not. After my prodding (ha!), he made it into a tag! And because I suck, of course I’m posting mine a bit late. But still, here it is!

***

Whenever I step on dried leaves and hear them crunch underneath my feet, I am more happy than not.

Whenever I acquire new books, I am more happy than not. (I can never have too many books, Dad. Never!)

Whenever I watch my favorite films, whether it be the 1843209th time, I am more happy than not.

Whenever I listen to music I love and discover music to love, I am more happy than not.

Whenever I see my bookshelf, I am more happy than not. (Seriously. I can stare at it all day. Sure, it stresses me out too because !!! so many unread books !!! but whatever.)

Whenever I get to sleep in and wake up to birds chirping, I am more happy than not.

Whenever I go down memory lane and remember memories worth framing, I am more happy than not.

Whenever I unabashedly unapologetically sing even though my voice would get me booted first out of a singing competition, I am more happy than not. (KARAOKE IS MY HAPPY PLACE.)

Whenever I play my ukulele, even though good lord when will I improve, I am more happy than not.

Whenever I go to bookish events, meeting bookish people and authors, I am more happy than not.

Whenever there is ice cream, I am more happy than not. (CARAMEL! BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE! MINT CHOCOLATE CHIP!)

Whenever I talk to my favorite authors, I am more happy than not.

Whenever I daydream, I am more happy than not.

Whenever I am alone reading, I am more happy than not.

Whenever I am surrounded by people I love and people who love me, I am more happy than not.


WHAT MAKES YOU MORE HAPPY THAN NOT?
Feel free to do the tag!

***

In case you missed it, I posted my review for More Happy Than Not yesterday, along with a PH only giveaway for my ARC. Bookish Filipinos, don’t forget to join the giveaway! For my non-Filipino readers, I’m so sorry! But you should DEFINITELY check out and read More Happy Than Not!

Review: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

More Happy Than Not
Title: More Happy Than Not
Author: Adam Silvera
Publisher: Soho Teen
Date of Publication: June 2, 2015

“A brilliantly conceived page-turner.” -Kirkus Reviews, starred review.
“Vividly written and intricately plotted.”-Publishers Weekly, starred review.

The Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-relief procedure seems too good to be true to Aaron Soto — miracle cure-alls don’t tend to pop up in the Bronx projects. But Aaron can’t forget how he’s grown up poor or how his friends aren’t always there for him. Like after his father committed suicide in their one bedroom apartment. Aaron has the support of his patient girlfriend, if not necessarily his distant brother and overworked mother, but it’s not enough.


Then Thomas shows up. He has a sweet movie-watching setup on his roof, and he doesn’t mind Aaron’s obsession with a popular fantasy series. There are nicknames, inside jokes. Most importantly, Thomas doesn’t mind talking about Aaron’s past. But Aaron’s newfound happiness isn’t welcome on his block. Since he’s can’t stay away from Thomas or suddenly stop being gay, Aaron must turn to Leteo to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he is.


Adam Silvera’s extraordinary debut novel offers a unique confrontation of race, class and sexuality during one charged near-future summer in the Bronx.


“[A]n engrossing, intense narrative.”-School Library Journal, starred review.

“Thought provoking and imaginative.”-Booklist, starred review.

Purchase from Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository


Review

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Thank you to Soho Teen for the copy I won! Receiving a copy from the publisher did not affect my views of the novel.


I admit, all the acclaim and the hype surrounding More Happy Than Not made me SO afraid to read it. WHAT IF I DON’T LOVE IT? WILL PEOPLE STILL BE FRIENDS WITH ME? But Miel of Bookish and Awesome (Linked is his review. Which is way better than whatever I’ll write because he said EVERYTHING I want to say!) and I decided to buddy-read this one so I had to put my big-girl pants on. And I’m so glad I read this because MY HEART GOT SO FULL OF LOVE FOR AARON SOTO and so sad too because MY HEART WAS PULVERIZED.


It wasn’t love at first sentence, what happened between More Happy Than Not and me. Maybe it was the burden of the hype or my mood when I started reading but I wasn’t invested in MHTN right away. It was bleak! I started reading this last May while I was a bit down so the bleakness of Aaron dropping the bomb right away that his dad committed suicide was a lot to handle. But as I continued reading, I got to know Aaron Soto more. And the more I read about him, the more I got invested in his story. Because Aaron is a character worth knowing. (Infinite brownie points for a diverse character! He’s Puerto Rican! Living in a Bronx housing project!)

We get to know Aaron more (He’s a comic geek and he loves this fantasy series Scorpius Hawthorne and he doesn’t know how to ride a bike [like me].) and his friends. While Aaron was not completely happy with his father’s death and his own attempt to end his life still weighing him down, we can say he’s trying to be happy. He has his ever-loving and ever-patient girlfriend Genevieve and the simple joys of hanging out with his friends. Then Genevieve has to go for a summer art camp and Aaron gets a new friend in Thomas from another housing project. They spend all summer together and because of Thomas, he’s now happy. And Aaron realizes that he’s a dude-liker, as he calls it. But being gay in the Bronx projects makes you a target for hate crime and with Thomas not returning his feelings too, Aaron decides to get the Leteo procedure — fixing his memory so he forgets he’s gay and so he can start anew.

“I don’t want to be me.


I don’t want to second-guess if my friends are going to be okay with me being me, and more importantly, I don’t want to see what happens if they’re not. I don’t want to be someone who can’t be friends with Thomas, because if there’s anything worse than not being able to be with him, it’s knowing our friendship will ultimately have an expiration date if being around him becomes impossible.


I know not being me will be a lie, but I know I’m doing myself a favor in the long run if I can somehow book a Leteo procedure. Because as I stand now, I have so much bullshit to look out for.

Happiness shouldn’t be this hard.”


WHICH JUST MADE ME BAWL. Scene: I was sneak-reading in class and while Aaron was trying not to cry, I was also trying not to cry during class. I needed to stop reading because I cannot break down in public… When I got home, you bet your ass I cried and heaved as freely as I could.

It broke my heart that Aaron wanted to be straight. To not be targeted and to not live through the pain of rejection. I previously read The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi where the protagonist was forced to go to a degayifying camp. That book made me rage because HOW CAN THERE BE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO DE-GAYIFY A PERSON? But with More Happy Than Not? I got so sad. Because it was Aaron HIMSELF who wanted to be straight.

(Can I just say that it’s so damn hard to review this title because I feel like I can’t talk about anything! That everything would be a spoiler! As much as this novel is driven by Aaron, it is also plot-driven so I cannot divulge plot points. You have to read it for yourself!)

I can’t really talk about the latter half of the novel but JUST KNOW THAT IT WILL PULVERIZE YOUR HEART. The twist, GAH, THE TWIST. I couldn’t deal! I was full-on crying, be it from the sibling love, the maternal love, and everything that Aaron went through. I couldn’t even remember the feeling of not being invested in Aaron because all I wanted to do was hug him and take him away from such a homophobic society and shelter him and love him and protect him. NO PERSON SHOULD EXPERIENCE BEING ATTACKED FOR WHO THAT PERSON IS. But alas, our LGBTQIA* friends experience this every day.

I don’t know how to end this review except that everyone should read More Happy Than Not. It’s the kind of book people should read to gain insights and understanding. It tells it as it is, that being gay is not something you decide to be, it just is. With an array of characters you will feel the whole spectrum of emotions for (be it love, pity, understanding, hate, or rage), a plot that will take you through all the crests and troughs of Aaron’s life, and themes always worth discussing and rallied for, Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not will certainly cement itself in the YA landscape as a book that accurately presents how it is to be different in a society that silences and attacks the minority. I cannot wait for more books from Adam Silvera!

About Adam Silvera


Adam was born and raised in the Bronx and is tall for no reason. He was a bookseller before shifting to children’s publishing where he worked at a literary development company, a creative writing website for teens, and as a book reviewer of children’s and young adult novels. He lives in New York City.  


More Happy Than Not is his debut novel. 



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