Book of the Month YA: Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi

In addition to getting a Book of the Month subscription, I also get a YA Book of the Month. Now, this month, I had a hard time picking out which book to get. It was a cross between Frankly In Love by David Yoon and Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi. The reason why I chose this novel was because I read Choi’s other novel, Emergency Contact, and wanted to check out her latest read. (And, side note: I have Frankly In Love on my Kindle to read next).

Summary:

Dating a pop star is every man’s dream. That dream becomes reality for Pablo Rind. When he runs into pop star Leanna Smart, he falls madly in love with her. And, the love becomes mutual.

However, Pablo isn’t exactly the greatest on paper. He is a college dropout and faces thousands and thousands of dollars of credit card debt. At the start of the novel, he is behind on rent and works nights at a deli.

Over the course of the novel, he of course falls madly in love with Leanna – to the point where he neglects all other responsibilities. Of course, that’s the stereotypical love story, isn’t it? Soon, Pablo begins to ignite change.

Review:

I loved this book, and almost cried at the end of it. No, I’m not going to give the ending away. But, I will give you one little hint – the novel doesn’t have the standard Hallmark ending. Which is something that I liked about it.

Social media is a huge part of this book. Pablo constantly posts photos of foods on his Instagram. Many of the characters often discuss it. And, it’s a priority to check it constantly. This shows how Instagram has become a huge priority of millennial culture. Which is true. How many of us – myself included – are checking Instagram throughout the day? How many of us constantly post photos on our stories and on our pages? I mean, I’m guilty of it too. Social media has changed us – our relationships, and how we communicate. It also is a huge time suck. This novel also demonstrates it. And, furthermore, it also shows how one can make a living just by posting.

Now, let’s talk about Pablo. I thought he was kind of an awful character. He was pretty lost at the beginning of the novel. That happens. However, it frustrated me that he didn’t want to do anything about it. It also bothered me how self-centered he was, especially while dating Leanna Smart. His brother was having crisis after crisis and really needed support. Instead of being there for him, Pablo took off to be with Leanna. He also neglected important meetings, and even his job. I almost wanted to jump into the novel and say “get your life together, for heaven’s sake!”

Furthermore, you also get an inside of fame, which isn’t surprising since Leanna was a celebrity. I liked her methodology of dodging paparazzi and the real moments she shared with her grandmother. She also craved privacy in her relationship with Pablo.

This leads me into my next point. I think that Choi did an outstanding job demonstrating the relationship between the two. Leanna often ditched Pablo because of work and left him hanging out in a hotel room. She couldn’t even follow him on Instagram without eyebrows being raised. She did what she could to hide Pablo. However, she treated him to expensive things that he couldn’t afford. All of these things are hallmarks of the celebrity relationship.

With that being said, I did enjoy the novel. What I like about Choi’s writing is that it’s real. It’s about real relationships, and the characters feel real. I mean, many millennials are having to face the issues that Pablo is facing – crippling debt, trying to figure out what to do with the future, etc. This novel feels relatable, which is something that I liked most about it.

Overall, if you see this novel lingering in your local bookstore and you love YA, be sure to pick it up. Trust me, you will love it.

11 Books I Loved Reading This Summer

Monday is Labor Day, so you know what that means. It’s the end of summer. Well, the unofficial one, anyways, as the summer extends until September 21st.

One of the best parts about summer is reading lazily on a beach with waves rustling in the background. This summer was no exception. So, as we head into the last true weekend of the summer, here’s some of my favorite books I read this summer:

  • Educated by Tara Westover

The critically acclaimed novel is worth 100 percent of the hype. This novel is a powerful and shocking read about Westover’s childhood as she grew up with survivalist parents.

  • Things You Save In A Fire by Katherine Center

Katherine Center’s latest read talks about starting over and forgiveness. Cassie is an award winning firefighter who is up for a promotion. One act of revenge sends her down a path to Massachusetts, where she becomes the only woman on the fire station — despite her abilities. Oh, and she’s enlisted to take care of her sick mother. Soon, Cassie learns to forgive and to move on.

  • City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

New York in the 1940s. An interesting time. Elizabeth Gilbert tells the story of Vassar dropout Vivian, who uses her seamstress skills as a costume maker to the play, City of Girls. However, one mistake unravels all of that.

  • How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

Margaret has it all — a dream job, a wonderful condo and has just gotten engaged. However, right after the ring is slipped on her finger, they are in a tragic plane accident, where Margaret loses the ability to walk.

With that being said, Margaret’s life is changed forever — especially when her long lost sister comes back into the picture, and she loses that perfect life. As she begins to heal, she soon learns to adapt into her new normal.

  • Say You Still Love Me by KA Tucker

Ahh, nothing like a second chance at love, right? Piper Calloway was dragged to Camp WaWA by her mother. She never guessed that she would fall in love with Kyle. However, 13 years later, the two are forced apart — only to be bought together. KA Tucker tells an amazing Romeo-Juliet style story of two lovers who come from different worlds, who despite all odds, find their way back to each other.

  • After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

What happens after the wedding cake was eaten, and after the house was bought? Taylor Jenkins Reid tells the story of Lauren and Ryan, college lovers who decide to take a year off from the marriage to figure out if they still want to be with each other. Spoiler: you’ll need tissues.

  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK by Mark Manson

I’ve been on a self help kick this summer. This book explores ways to live the life you live — and not feel guilty about it.

  • Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey

Annie Cassidy is obsessed with Tom Hanks. Not just any Tom Hanks — the Tom Hanks in Nora Ephron’s hit movies. However, she’s in a funk. It takes a movie set coming to town to realize that she’s the one who is holding herself back — professionally and romantically.

  • Girl Stop Apologizing, and Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

A must read for anyone unhappy or wanting to reach your goals. These two books were so inspiring and can send you down a rabbit-hole of learning how to change your behavior.

  • Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

Sarah falls in love with Eddie, and the two share a beautiful romance that lasted a week. Then, he disappears. Sarah becomes obssesed and looks for him. I loved this book, because it has so many twists and turns that you question what is going to happen next.

  • The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

Emma Saylor has an entire family that she doesn’t know — her mother’s side. That same mom who passed away when she was in her pre-teens. However, one summer she is sent to the lake, where she is deemed the rich cousin. She becomes a maid at the family hotel, and soon learns more about her roots.

  • When Dimple Met Rishi and There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandha Menon

Dimple wants to be her own woman, but her parents want her to be tied to her Indian roots. Rishi is the perfect Indian son. Needless to say, Dimple is surprised that her parents let her go to a camp for young and aspiring technology hopefuls. However, she soon learns to meet Rishi — her Indian husband to be.

Both When Dimple Met Rishi and There’s Something About Sweetie tell the story of Indian tradition and first love. Definitely a great read to bring to the beach this weekend.

So, what did you read this summer? Let me know in the comments below.

Why Everyone Should Read Rachel Hollis’ Two Self Help Books

Last November, I purchased the book Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. It was Black Friday, and Amazon had a ton of ebooks — many of them bestsellers — marked down to only a few dollars.

So, I purchased the book. However, after I purchased my Nook e-readers, it sat in my Amazon library for about eight months.

That is, until recently. Something told me to read this book. Recently, I’ve been going through a rough patch, and I can use some inspiration.

I couldn’t put the book down. In fact, in two days, I’ve read both that and Girl, Stop Apologizing.

Both books have left me inspired. I’m talking I needed to have my journal nearby at all times inspired. It helped me realize some habits that I’ve been developing to mask the pain. I’m talking it helped me learn to appreciate my worth and value, and learn to say no (something that I am still struggling to learn to do). And, it taught me a easy way to help me manage my goals.

Let’s be honest — I haven’t read any self help books since Jen Sincero’s You Are A Badass in 2016. What I liked about this book is that it felt like I was having a conversation with a wiser, older girlfriend who had all of the wisdom that she wanted to share with me.

Since reading these books, I have started writing a “goal of the day,” which describes my intention of the day. Some days, it’s making sure that I carve out time to take care of me. Others, it’s an actual goal.

Throughout both of her books, Hollis continues to remind readers that dreams and life doesn’t work until you do. This means carving out time to make your goals happen (coined as the five-hour rule), this means pushing past the point you usually quit, and it means envisioning the goal as if you already met it.

However, here are some of the biggest things that I soaked up while reading these too books:

  • You are the company that you keep. Hollis wrote positivity attracts positivity. And, we always adapt the mannerisms and habits of the five people that we spend the most time with. Therefore, if our “tribe” is constantly bringing you down or is negative, maybe it’s something to look at.
  • Carve out five hours a week to work on your goal. We all are spent when it comes to finding time. Hollis recommends that you spend five hours a week doing nothing but that goal. For me right now, it’s organizing and blogging more regularly. Maybe down the line, I’ll be using that time as time to write a book (a forever dream of mine). You can spilt it up, or you can do it all at once. It doesn’t need to be a permanent time, it just needs to be on the schedule.
  • Write down a goal of the day. I like this so much because it sets your mind up to do so. And it feels so good when it’s done.
  • Write a list of things that you’ve accomplished.
  • Write a letter to yourself singing your praises. And then, do it again. I wrote mine and felt so good after doing so!
  • Learn to say no when it’s something that you hate doing. Chances are, you’ll be ten times happier. Of course, it’s easier said than done. But, learning to own your time is always the best.
  • If you really want something, it will happen. If you don’t, it’s an excuse.
  • Finally, the main message in both books is to be yourself unapologetically. Hollis talks about the many comments that she gets — from family, people criticizing her as a working mom, and so much more. How many of us have felt the same way. I really felt inspired when she discussed this, because you can not please everyone. After reading this, I’m learning to slowly shield the commentaries that others may give and putting myself first.

Needless to say, this book left me inspired and ready to take on the world. It also left me a Rachel Hollis fan. However, both books taught me so much, and now have become something that I want to reread for years to come.

Book of the Month: Things You Save In A Fire

So, I am a little behind on my Book of the Month reviews, but I decided to dive in with July’s pick, Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Carter.

Before I begin to review the novel, I will first start off by saying that I had a hard time choosing this month’s book. However, being the rom-com book nerd that I am, I went with this choice.

And, I wasn’t sorry.

The novel is about Cassie Hanwell, an award-winning firefighter who is just one of the guys. At the opening of the novel, Cassie wins an award that was handed to her by none other than a senator who she’s had a run with in her past. The senator tries to grab Cassie’s butt, only for her to punch him.

The morning after, Cassie gets a phone call from her estranged mother, who asks if Cassie can come to Cape Cod to take care of her for a year. Between the scandal and this, Cassie is forced to relocate.

Cassie enters a firehouse that is completely different than the one that she left behind in Texas. In this firehouse, she is the first woman to be a firefighter. Needless to say, it’s a man’s world full of hazing and dirty jokes. Cassie begins to prove herself.

What Cassie expects is to prove herself and show that she is better than any one of the guys. But, what she didn’t expect is to fall in love with the Rookie that she starts with.

As I said before, I picked this book because it looked really good. I had never heard of Katherine Carter, nor did I know what to expect. But, after reading the novel, I began researching her other books.

Let me start off by saying this: I absolutely loved this book. This is the type of book that you can get lost in and read in one single sitting. The writing keeps you engaged, there’s romance, and there’s even some heartfelt moments of forgiveness.

Oh, interesting!

What I loved about the book is Cassie. She is a flat-out badass. The fact that she is an award winning firefighter that got fired for hitting a senator for grabbing her ass and refusing to apologize for it? I honestly have so much respect for her. Furthermore, what made me love her even more was that she stopped at no end to prove herself to her coworkers. Naturally, she succeeds, which is awesome.

Then, there’s her relationship with the Rookie. Cassie flat-out fell for him. And, this is a woman who has not dated anyone since one ill-fated night in high school. Their romance is the classic one — tried to stay away from each other, only to fall madly in love. They of course worried that they would get in trouble with their co-workers. However, I was pleasantly surprised that they were extremely supportive of the relationship.

Overall, this book is awesome. I am so glad that I picked it up, because I became an instant Katherine Carter fan and want to read all of her books (I may have ordered one while writing this if I’m being honest). Therefore, I highly recommend this book to anyone out there who is looking for a super awesome rom-com read that you can read during one single beach vacation.

Book Review: The Rest Of the Story by Sarah Dessen

Sarah Dessen is pretty much the queen of Young Adult Literature. I have been reading her novels for well over a decade, when I first picked up Just Listen. Over the last ten years, I’ve read pretty much every one of her novels, and even had an opportunity to meet her when she came to a book store when the novel Once and For All came out.

So when her latest read, The Rest of the Story came out last month, I knew I needed to get it. In fact, I even ventured over to my favorite bookstore, RJ Julia in Madison to pick up the book the day it came out (and bonus, it was an autographed first edition. . . Score!)

The novel was about Emma Saylor Payne. Emma’s mom died when she was 12 as a result of being a drug addict. As a result, Emma doesn’t know too much about her mom — or the life that she left behind long ago at North Lake.

As a result of tragic circumstance, Emma finds herself at North Lake, with an entire family that she knows little to nothing about. Dubbed as the “spoiled, rich cousin,” Emma spends three weeks of the summer cleaning the family motel and soon learns more about her mother’s past thanks to Roo, someone who is even more linked to Emma’s past than she would have thought.

So, this novel was pretty similar to all of the other Dessen books: took place in the summer, protagonist is in her senior year/approaching her senior year in high school, and is set in North Carolina. Additionally, Emma has a bit of a traumatic past, similar to many of Dessen’s protagonists as well. For instance, in Once and For All, Louna’s boyfriend was shot and killed in a school shooting, and in Dreamland, Cait is abused by her boyfriend. Emma’s past consisted of dealing with her mother’s death when she was twelve, which was caused from drug addiction.

With that being said, I really enjoyed this novel. I mean, I am biased because I am a huge fan of Sarah Dessen, but the novel itself is nothing short of amazing. I’ve read all of Dessen’s novels, and her style keeps me engaged with each and every one of her novels.

Overall, as you’re getting ready to hit the beach for Independence Day, consider putting this novel into your beach bag.

Book Review: The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine

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Taken at their book signing at my local Barnes and Noble

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be able to meet Liv Constantine, which is the pen name for sisters Valerie and Lynne Constantine, and get an autographed copy of their latest book, The Last Time I Saw You. I was already a fan of the authors after reading their previous novel, The Last Mrs. Parrish.

Just in time for Memorial Day, I was able to read the novel to review it (see disclaimer here), and loved it. Read on for my review:

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Summary: 

The novel begins at the funeral of Lily, the mother of Dr. Kate English. Lily was murdered, and police are investigating the crime. Adding to the drama, Kate’s estranged best friend Blaire appears — to pay her respects, naturally. However, the two have not spoken in about 15 years — the night before Kate’s wedding.

Talk about awkward.

However, the drama and suspense are just beginning. Soon after the funeral, Kate begins to receive cryptic messages from an unknown sender. These messages were just downright horrific — with death threats and dead animals. Over time, Kate realizes that the person sending the messages may be closer than she thinks — which makes her soon realize that there is no one that she can trust.

Meanwhile, Kate and Blaire begin to rekindle their friendship. But soon, Kate realizes that there may be more to Blaire than just wishes than just reconnecting.

Review: 

What I loved about The Last Mrs. Parrish was the twists and turns the story took. Just when you think the novel is going one way, it takes you in a completely different direction. The Last Time I Saw You was similar. If you choose to read this, I will say this: you will not see the end coming.

However, I will say that for almost 75 percent of The Last Time I Saw You, you really begin to believe that the story is going in a certain direction. Then, it swerves off of the road and goes somewhere where readers do not see coming.

Now, does that make the story mundane or boring? Absolutely not.

I was engrossed with this novel from page one, and could not put it down up until the last page. Part of the reason why was because I just needed to find out what was going to happen next.

With that being said, let’s talk about the relationship between Blaire and Kate. Blaire immersed herself into the crime investigation. At first, a part of me wondered why that was. Was she devastated at the loss of her friend’s mom, someone who was like a mom to herself? Or, was there more to her motives?

Furthermore, I was happy though, that the two were able to reconnect. However, I did think that it was unrealistic that Kate let Blaire right back into her life so quickly. Maybe it was the need for comfort during a traumatic time in her life? I don’t know.

Finally, let’s talk about Simon’s and Sabrina’s relationship. He can deny it all that he wants, I still think that there was something going on there. Even though it’s innocent, it’s still fishy how she latches herself onto him — and how Simon tells so much of Kate’s personal business. To me, that’s a little wrong.

Even though I noticed that one little flaw, don’t get me wrong. I absolutely loved the book. So, if you are looking for a good mystery thriller, I definitely recommend it for this Memorial Day weekend. And, judging by the fact that I didn’t want to put it down, I’m sure you’ll be able to finish it this weekend too.

Book of the Month: Normal People by Sally Rooney

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I am a bit late in reviewing April’s Book of the Month pick. However, better late than never right?

This month, I read Normal People by Sally Rooney. The novel is about Connell and Marianne. At the start of the novel, Connell is the stereotypical, well adjusted popular kid with little money, and Marianne is the outcast. The two developed a connection, then an exploratory relationship.

Over the course of the novel, you see them blossom from teenagers to young adults. Readers will see Connell go through a deep depression, and Marianne in a relationship that is pretty much abusive. All along though, the two maintain a bond — while readers cheer on the sidelines that the two end up together.

So, here’s my thoughts on the novel. It’s a very realistic love story. In many of the novels that I read — ahem many by Nicholas Sparks or Sophie Kinsella — the characters get their act together at some point and ride off into the sunset together. Not going to lie — I am a huge fan of those books. But, with that being said, it’s not always real life.

This novel keeps it real about what it’s like to be in college in the early 2010s — and the relationship that millennials such as myself would share with each other. I liked that the novel kept it real, as spoiler alert, they do not end up together. I liked that brutal honesty, because it felt very real.

Although they did not end up together, I felt almost as though they might eventually do so since the two share a strong bond, a good connection, and they love and care for each other. Therefore, I do have faith that they may end up together.

Now, mental health is one of the major themes in this novel. We see Connell deal with depression — something that is extremely common in relationships. In some ways, Marianne has her own struggles to deal with, as throughout the book, readers get the sense of that when seeing her relationships.

So, what did I think? Overall, this was a good novel. For me, it was sort of in the middle — not the worst that I read, but not the best book that I have read this month. That is partly because I have been reading a ton of Christina Lauren and Colleen Hoover lately — all are books that I just can’t put down.