Review | Far From The Tree: A brilliant story about the power of family

I recently read Far From The Tree by Robin Benway, which I absolutely adored. I listened to it on audio.

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33830437Being the middle child has its ups and downs.

But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including—

Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.

And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him.

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Review | Down and Across: Crosswords & Coming of Age (BLOG TOUR)

Welcome to my first ever blog tour! This is also why I am posting a review on a Wednesday, but anyway here’s my review for Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi.

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35134061Scott Ferdowsi has a track record of quitting. Writing the Great American Novel? Three chapters. His summer internship? One week. His best friends know exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives, but Scott can hardly commit to a breakfast cereal, let alone a passion.

With college applications looming, Scott’s parents pressure him to get serious and settle on a career path like engineering or medicine. Desperate for help, he sneaks off to Washington, DC, to seek guidance from a famous professor who specializes in grit, the psychology of success.

He never expects an adventure to unfold out of what was supposed to be a one-day visit. But that’s what Scott gets when he meets Fiora Buchanan, a ballsy college student whose life ambition is to write crossword puzzles. When the bicycle she lends him gets Scott into a high-speed chase, he knows he’s in for the ride of his life. Soon, Scott finds himself sneaking into bars, attempting to pick up girls at the National Zoo, and even giving the crossword thing a try–all while opening his eyes to fundamental truths about who he is and who he wants to be.

Arvin Ahmadi was born and raised in Northern Virginia. He graduated from Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn. Down and Across is his first novel.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor arvin ahmadi

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Review | More Than We Can Tell: A Beautiful, Emotional Contemporary about Family and Abuse

More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer is an emotional story about two people who, though they have their own problems, find each other.

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34236194Rev Fletcher is battling the demons of his past. But with loving adoptive parents by his side, he’s managed to keep them at bay…until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.

Emma Blue spends her time perfecting the computer game she built from scratch, rather than facing her parents’ crumbling marriage. She can solve any problem with the right code, but when an online troll’s harassment escalates, she’s truly afraid.

When Rev and Emma meet, they both long to lift the burden of their secrets and bond instantly over their shared turmoil. But when their situations turn dangerous, their trust in each other will be tested in ways they never expected. This must-read story will once again have readers falling for Brigid Kemmerer’s emotional storytelling.

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Review | All The Ways To Here: A Super Cute f/f Romance about Family

All The Ways to Here is the second book by Emily O’Beirne I read and it’s the second book in this contemporary series about Finn and Willa. I loved the first one and now again, I loved the second.

This review can contain spoilers for the first book, but I’ll try to avoid them as much as possible. If you’d like to read my review on Future Leaders of Nowhere, check out my review here.

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Review Starfish: relatable and perfect

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman has a cover that makes you want to go out and buy it immediately, but please just wait a few minutes because after this review you’ll want to read it even more 🙂

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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.

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This is a story about friendship, about family, about love and about choosing for yourself. It’s a wonderful book and basically incorporated everything I look for in a book. I love books about friends and families. I love books that are set in the last year of high school, before life really starts and you need to decide your future.

Kiko is such a relatable character. She has social anxiety and is extremely socially awkward. Her relationship with her family is distant. Her mother is pretty much the most annoying person ever (my words, not hers, but I’m pretty sure she’d agree). She’s tortured by childhood trauma. Her escape is art, she draws and paints and when she doesn’t get accepted to the art school she has always dreamed of going her life suddenly got another turn.

I loved reading from Kiko’s perspective. I found an endless number of situations I recognized myself in, from the way her relationship with her brothers is distant, to how socially awkward she is in conversations. She often doesn’t say what she wants to say and I really liked the way that was described in the book. I also loved the way in which her art was incorporated in the book. At the end of almost every chapter, there is a short description of something she draws/paints.

“I don’t know the right words to say to sound cool, because “being cool” does not fall within my skill set.”

Kiko is half-Japanese (or half-white depending on how you see it) and I found it incredibly interesting to read about how it is to grow up as mixed-race. Kiko wasn’t raised with Japanese culture but throughout the story, she learns more about her roots. I think the book really captured this really well, the author is also mixed-race and her experiences really shine through in the book.

“Fixing me isn’t like fixing a loose screw or a little bit of rust. I’m like a giant mess of problems, all linked together and tracing back to my childhood. Back to when things got so complicated.”

I want to mention the love story, even though it is not a major part of the story. It was really cute, and I found the way Kiko dealt with it very realistic. I loved that she didn’t just let herself “be saved” by someone else, she wanted to be able to stand on her own two feet. I loved that the message wasn’t that you need love to fix yourself. I feel that is often the case in similar coming-of-age contemporaries dealing with issues like is. I’m a huge advocate of the idea that you don’t need a boy to save you. (who run the world?)

“I don’t want to need anymore. I want to stand on my own two feet. I want to control of my own life and my own emotions. I don’t want to be a branch in someone else’s life anymore — I want to be the tree on my own.”

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I am giving this book 5 stars because it was all I hoped this book would give me. I loved Kiko and Jamie basically everything. I literally can’t think of anything that might have made this book even better (well maybe except having Kiko’s actual art in the book but that’s not a possibility I think). It was emotional, funny, relatable, and the writing style was wonderful.  I will definitely recommend this book if you like contemporaries!

I would like to thank Akemi for providing me with a copy of this wonderful book!

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman will come out in September of 2017.

Discussion: Reasons to write: Fantasy vs. Contemporary

So far I have attempted to write a contemporary novel and I am currently working on a fantasy novel. It is very different from my contemporary story and so far I am loving it. For this discussion, I wanted to discuss some of the differences and pros and cons of writing these two genres and compare them.

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Review: The Color Project: Adorable and Heartbreaking

This book is so cute it’ll make you smile all the way through (well, almost, the time you don’t spend smiling, you spend crying).

General rating: ★★★★☆
Diversity rating: ☆ (There were some POC characters but not major)

The Color Project by Sierra Abrams22892448

Bernice Aurora Wescott has one thing she doesn’t want anyone to know: her name. That is, until Bee meets Levi, the local golden boy who runs a charity organization called The Color Project.

Levi is not at all shy about attempting to guess Bee’s real name; his persistence is one of the many reasons why Bee falls for him. But while Levi is everything she never knew she needed, giving up her name would feel like a stamp on forever. And that terrifies her.

When unexpected news of an illness in the family drains Bee’s summer of everything bright, she is pushed to the breaking point. Losing herself in The Color Project—a world of weddings, funerals, cancer patients, and hopeful families that the charity funds—is no longer enough. Bee must hold up the weight of her family, but to do that, she needs Levi. She’ll have to give up her name and let him in completely or lose the best thing that’s ever happened to her.

This book is about Bee and her family and about Levi, the boy she falls in love with. The idea of Bee not wanting to tell anyone her name is fun in the beginning, but through the book her stubbornness is starting to get back on her. But beside that, Bee is the absolutely sweetest. She loves her family, is caring, and wants to do something good in the world. She is really relatable and funny and I would love her as a friend. (& also I need her family).

The love interest Levi is honestly the best book boyfriend I’ve ever read about. Though it took me a few chapters to get to really see how cute they were/would be together, but after that, I was sold 100%. They are the cutest couple together and they will make you swoon and gush all the time.

“The world spins, and I feel pain everywhere, and I die a little bit inside with every tear I shed, so that I’m left feeling like a husk, empty, ruined, devoured.”

I don’t really want to say what happens in the story, because then I would spoil you, but I do want to tell you that it is such a great story and it all flows just really well. I don’t know, it just works so well together, and it’s not just about happy things, it is about struggles and it feels real. It is sad and beautiful, but also really happy and fun. It’s just such a joy to read this book, that during the entire book I did not for a moment felt bored. I think that if I had the time, I could have read this book all day.

I adored the writing style of this book, it was different from other books I’ve ever read. It was written from the perspective of Bee, but there were little (often funny) comments written between brackets. I also loved the interaction between the characters, especially the sisters, and the text messages.

“Make her stop,” she says, practically weeping.
“I wish I could. Only stabbing her will do the trick.”
“No, that will make her wail louder.” Millie moans again.
“Then there’s nothing left but to bury her in the backyard,” I tease.
This earns a laugh. “Think Mama and Daddy will miss her?”
“Nah.”

Another thing that I thought was a great addition to the book were the songs as titles of the chapters. Though, after a few chapters, I didn’t feel like taking breaks to listen to every song before/while reading the chapter (because that would mean, I had put the book away), I really loved the idea and execution. (I actually wanted to do the same with my WIP, but didn’t do it in the end).

I am giving this book 4.5 stars, because I had the best time reading it. It made me feel so happy and sad and wonderful, that when I finished, all I could do is be all happy and gushy. I just wanted more!! If you want to read a great romance book about family, I will definitely recommend you this book, because I bet that you will love it.