STARFISH Giveaway!

Hello my lovely friends, family, followers and everything in between ~

I am doing a book giveaway over on my twitter account! The book I chose for this giveaway is STARFISH by Akemi Dawn Bowman! I read and reviewed this book last month (thanks, NetGalley!) and absolutely loved it! I want every person possible to love this book too so here’s your chance!

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So just head over to my Twitter, follow me and retweet my original tweet (maybe leave a mention and say hi?!) and you will be entered! For an extra entry, just follow my blog if you do not already! When you follow my blog, just leave me a comment saying you found me through the Starfish giveaway ❤

There are so many new YA book releases I am looking forward to this fall, and Starfish is one of them! What book are you most excited for this fall?

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Review: What Does Consent Really Mean?

 

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Title: What Does Consent Really Mean?

Author: Pete Wallis and Thalia Wallis

Illustrator: Joseph Wilkins

Publication Date: November 21, 2017

My Rating: 3/5

As soon as I saw the title of this book I immediately knew I wanted to review it. We all know the importance of teaching our children and youth the importance of 1.) understanding what consent means, 2.) Learning “no” means “no” and 3.) knowing the importance of consent. What better way to illustrate this to our children and youth then with a graphic novel of our own youth discussing among themselves?

The whole graphic novel consists of a group of high schoolers discussing consent, what it means, and how you know if you received consent.  The graphic novel begins with a new girl in the local high school who, as rumor has it, transferred schools because she was a sexual assault victim. This sparks conversations among the characters about sexual assault and consent.

The conversations begin with the characters feeling somewhat confused and bewildered about what consent means. However, throughout the story, this group of friends bounce their ideas off each other about consent, which leads the characters to having a good understanding about consent by the end of the story.

I was impressed by the topic of the book, but I was not impressed by the content or the dialogue. I feel as if the writers could have done a better job with the dialogue, because it did not seem like a real conversation teenagers would have; you could tell that this graphic novel was written by adults. There is a lot that needs discussed to our children and youth about consent, so I would argue there is more content that could have been added to this graphic novel to really get the importance of consent to the readers. I do not think this graphic novel did as good of a job as it could have. Though this graphic novel is a great starting force for getting the discussion of consent out there (we have to start somewhere!), there were ways to enhance the content of the graphic novel and making the dialogue more realistic.

I would also like to note that this is not a graphic novel meant for younger children, because of some of the explicit sexual content, the graphic novel is directed towards students who are in high school. But by this point, high school kids should already know what consent is. I think this graphic novel would have had more of an effect if it was written with less explicit content and directed more towards those children in middle school.

All in all, the graphic novel had an excellent topic that is well need in the literature world, but it was not perfect and could have used some improvements.

I would like to express my appreciation towards the authors of this graphic novel for recognizing the important of sharing what consent means. I would also like to thank the publishing company Jessica Kingsley Publishers and Singing Dragon for allowing me to review this book. This publishing company works towards publishing works with themes like autism, education, mental health, spiritual development, and wellbeing. I plan to read more books from this publishing company in the near future!

Starfish Review

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Thank you to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Starfish

Author: Akemi Dawn Bowman

Publication Date: September 26, 2017

Bio: Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

From debut author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes a luminous, heartbreaking story of identity, family, and the beauty that emerges when we embrace our true selves.

My Thoughts: If you were to ask me what piqued my interest about Starfish, my answer would be both the social anxiety representation and the Japanese representation. I have never read a book that had a Japanese character, so better late than never to get a jump start on this type of specific diverse read! If you know me well, you know I love reading books with a mental health theme, so it is no surprise that the social anxiety rep in this book caught my eye. Kudos to the author, Akemi Dawn Bowman, because she created and wrote both themes very well! (Well, the social anxiety at least- I can’t personally speak for the Japanese rep, but to the best of my knowledge she wrote it well.) It is always reassuring when you just know that the author has the understanding and knowledge of what she is writing about; it was evident throughout the book that the author knows first handedly or has done her research about what it is like to be biracial or suffer from social anxiety. Thank you, Akemi!
I felt a lot of STRONG emotions toward three of the main characters: Kiko, her mom, and Jamie.
Kiko’s mom… aka, the worst mom I have ever encountered in a YA book. There is not one single good quality about her: she is a narcissistic, narrow minded, and unfeeling character. Some of the things she did to Kiko and her brothers rose my blood pressure while getting my blood boiling. When you feel such strong emotions toward a character, you know the author is doing his/her job successfully. Few characters have angered me like she did, which I believe was the purpose of the character,
Kiko is just a beautiful little soul who I just wanna hug and reassure her how worthy and lovable she is. Her dedication towards her art left me inspired for the creative work I do (writing, blogging, drawing, etc.) Meaning, I wanna be as talented and cool as Kiko. I relate on a personal level to the social anxiety she experiences, so this left me feeling empathetic toward her struggles with her mental illness. The fact that she finds her happy ending in the epilogue of the book will leave me satisfied for the rest of my life… that may sound dramatic, but oh my god it is so true.
Jamie…oh, my heart. It has been a while since I had a book character crush, because lately the male characters in my book just have been annoying and incorrigible. However, if I had to pick a boy for my friend Kiko to love, it would be Jamie. He is gentle, dorky, goofy, handsome, and compassionate. He was always helpful and understanding of her anxiety. I appreciated how the author depicted Jamie as a perfect guy for Kiko to date, but gave Kiko the awareness that she can not solely rely on Jamie to make her happy.  I want a real-life Jamie, please.

The plot itself was fairly fast-paced and kept me eagerly flipping each page, which is not a commonality in my reading. I grew connected with the characters and storyline enough that I never wanted to put the book down. The author had several plot twists that kept me reading past my bedtime. (Again- not a commonality in my reading!) The last few chapters in the book left me on the edge of my seat because so much stuff happened!
This will be one of those books I will recommend to each and every reader out there, especially if they are interested in books centering around mental illness because this book depicts mental illness with a more positive outcome. Kiko works towards overcoming social anxiety and fully understands that the capability to “conquer” her fears is within herself. Even though Jamie is absolutely wonderful and helps Kiko, Kiko is aware that it is still within herself to successfully overcome the hurdles she faces. I personally believe this is something each and every person should understand.
The author does a beautiful job with the story telling and character building in this novel and I look forward to reading more of her work! If you are looking for a riveting, fast-paced, and diverse read, this is the book for you.

 

4 Bookish Facts About Me

What better way is there to get to know a book lover than having them share bookish facts about themselves?

1. My favorite genres are YA contemporary and fantasy

I have always preferred and adored young adult books, and it is rare that you can find me reading a new adult or adult book; something about young adult just excites me (maybe because I am a young adult!)

My two favorites genres of young adult are contemporary and fantasy. I love both tremendously, but typically I tend to be drawn more towards contemporary YA because I tend to prefer quick and easy reads, which is what I receive with contemporary books. I always SPEED through contemporary books!

I do love a good fantasy book, too-It just normally takes me a little longer to really be grabbed by a fantasy book as compared to a contemporary book.

And sometimes fantasy books intimidate me, (sorry not sorry.)

2. The book that really made me fall in love with reading

I mean, I have always really loved reading- but I permanently fell in love  with this hobby, lifestyle- whatever you wanna call it- my sophomore year of high school with Before I Fall.

Before this book, I had a little “break” from reading, and Before I Fall got me out of that dreadful break and reminded me how great reading truly is. I had a lot of issues with anxiety at that time in my life, (fun fact- I still struggle with the anxiety) but this was when I learned how helpful reading could be so helpful for me.

3. Favorite Book(s)

It is very difficult for me to pick *one* favorite book, but I have been able to narrow it down to two books.

Eleanor & Park: It was the first book I read by Rainbow Rowell, so I did not know what to expect but of course I fell in love with Rainbow Rowell’s writing and story-telling abilities. I loved the total 80’s vibe: reading comics on the bus and listening to a Walkman. It was total pop culture, which I am an absolute freak about.

For some reason, I am a sucker for stories about characters who do not have a favorable home life (probably because I love to torture myself with tears.) The whole book I was hooked on Eleanor and her story as well as what was going to become of her. (This book also somewhat gave me a Don’t You Dare Read This, Mrs, Dunphrey vibe– if you haven’t read, I totally recommend!)

Eleanor & Park’s relationship was sweet, romantic, and I love how they shared music and comics with each other– that alone reminds me of my own relationship.

Basically, the story itself, the writing and the characters were so beautiful it scotched it’s way up to my top two favorite books. (For now at least- ugh, so many great books out there.)

It’s Kind of a Funny Story: If you do not already know this about me, I suffer from anxiety and depression. This leads me to being very critical about myself- not just academic wise but with literally everything. In this novel, you see a lot of this in Craig who is putting a whole load of pressure on himself to do well– wait, not just “well”, EXCEEDINGLY well– in school. This gets the best of him and leads him to being in a mental hospital.

The story goes through with Craig being in the psychiatric hospital after calling 1-800-SUICIDE to report himself for suicidal ideation (which is so super admirable that it makes me love and appreciate Craig even more.) You meet the other characters who are also in the hospital; they make you laugh, they make you cry. You fall in love with them. You feel Craig’s emotions as he ventures through this difficult part of his life.

I loved Ned Vizzini’s writing; he told the story like he actually knew what Craig was going through. I did not realize it at the time I was reading the book, but later after finishing I learned that Ned committed suicide seven years after the publication of this book–I cried, it is absolutely heartbreaking, but it brings a new light to this book.

4. Favorite childhood books

Most of my favorite childhood books are ones that my parents would read to me when I was young:

1. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

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2. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

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3. Wacky Wednesday by Dr Seuss (as Theo LeSieg)

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Books Read in July!

Hello all!

July was a particularly fun reading month for me- though I did not read as much as I had wished (IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?!)  I still got a few great books in!

WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI by Sandhya Menon was a beautiful, lovely, heart warming read. I really loved Dimple and Rishi’s culture and how different they were in regards to it; Dimple, while she does embrace her heritage (not as much as Rishi, of course), she still manages to dance to her own beat without feeling forced to marry young. Dimple also prefers to think of herself as more than just a woman with looks- she values her intelligence and talent when it comes to the world of coding and app building and all that tech-y stuff I wish I understood.

Rishi follows his parent’s lead verbatim while always doing what is expected of him. He plans on going to college to be an engineer because it is a realistic decision in this day and age. He wants to marry young and immediately start on his “forever” with a girl (preferably Dimple.)

Throughout the book, Rishi teaches Dimple to embrace her culture more as well as appreciating her parents. Dimple encourages Rishi to “step out of the box” and purse an art career. Basically, they are both just perfect for each other.

I loved Rishi and Dimple’s relationship. It is clearly portrayed that they are best friends, as well as obviously a couple. They highly support and encourage each other. The relationship may get a little too gooey for me, (so much kissing in front of Rishi’s brother???!!) but, hey, it is a beautiful love affair.

I highly recommend this book to any romance/contemporary YA lovers! Though the large book was somewhat daunting, the story really did flow by quickly.

Ah, Scarlet! #2 in THE LUNAR CHRONICLES by Marissa Meyer. Here’s a secret: I actually started this book last August but finally finished it in July. Oops, yeah…but I am still counting it towards my books read in July!

So, like most people who have read The Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Scarlet are super cool. They are two people who I would want kicking some ass by my side!

While I did enjoy Scarlet (despite my mega-long break from reading it), I still think I enjoyed Cinder more. I really enjoyed Cinder and Kai’s relationship, which you see a lot more of in Cinder. Not only that, but I think I just enjoyed CInder’s personal story more. The fact thats he is 1.) a mechanic 2.) a cyborg. The fact that she is- well, basically bionicle- is super cool and unlike anything I have read before.

Though Cinder’s story is my favorite so far, I did enjoy the relationship between Scarlet and her grandma as well as Scarlet’s fierce dedication towards saving her. There was just something about Scarlet’s attitude that kind of “irked” me a little more than I had wished. BUT! That’s just me, and I know a few other people who actually really love Scarlet’s story! Probably cause she is a badass, independent woman and who can say no to that kind of woman?

I am hoping to start the third installment in the series, CRESS, within the next month or so because I am highly anticipating finding out where the story goes! (And I need more of Cinder and Kai, please!)

So, if you don’t already know, I read ELIZA AND HER MONSTERS, in May after receiving it in my OwlCrate box and I absolutely loved it. Naturally, I had to go read Francesca Zappia’s other book, MADE YOU UP- which, you better believe it!, includes a character with schizophrenia! I absolutely adore books with a mental illness theme, and I am intrigued by all things mental health, so I was very excited to read this book.

(I do not have schizophrenia myself, nor do I personally know anyone else who has it so I am unaware on how accurate the author’s details about this mental illness is.)

I really enjoyed Alex as a character and I appreciated her effort in trying to have a normal high school career in spite of her mental illness. Miles was a dreamboat, to sum it all up. When he finds out about Alex’s schizophrenia, he is very chill about it and does not treat her any differently, despite Alex’s fears about the aforementioned.

In addition to Alex’s story with her dealings of her schizophrenia, I enjoy Miles’ story as well. He is a complex character with, basically, a lot of feelings and a lot of darkness in that mind of his. His home life is not ideal whatsoever, which really makes me feel sad things for him. He experiences something most of us could probably relate to– feeling alone, like no one cares for you, like you do not have any friends. But, he learns- as most of us hopefully do- that there are people out there who love and care for us.

The characters in this book are just so well created, and the story itself reads like a contemporary but will spontaneously hit you RIGHT IN THE FEELS out of the blue. (I literally dropped the book and gaped- mouth wide open!- for at least a whole 3 minutes.)

Anyways- Francesca Zappia is an awesome person and writer and, so far, I have enjoyed everything she has done.

 

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Well, obviously the reason this book is on this list is because this past month or so I have become completely obsessed with Hamilton. (Which says A. LOT. because I rarely become *this* obsessed with anything.) So of course, I had to read the love story of ALEX AND ELIZA and Alex is a wondrous intelligent man and Eliza is who I aspire to be.

Obviously the book had some differences from the musical, but that did not bother me as much as I know it had bothered others. I am always astounded by how ahead of her time Eliza was- I appreciated how she did to put too much effort into her looks, or even finding a husband for that matter. Her dedication towards the revolutionary war and taking care of the injured soldiers says a lot about her character and her empathy and it is just. beautiful. Eliza Schyler is someone any girl can look up to; something I will forever be in awe of.

I like how in the book you really get a deep look into Alex’s deep love for Eliza, which is something you do not really get to see much of in the musical (in my opinion.) It would have been nice to have more history with politics and that sort, but I guess that is what the musical is for– the book is for the romance.  😉

Sometimes I forget how much I love historical fiction.

Definitely a recommend for Hamilton fans who love Alex and Eliza’s relationship as I do!


Here is hoping August brings a lot more great reads! Leave a comment below and tell me what you read in July and if you have any historical fiction recs!