Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Recently Read: When Dimple Met Rishi

Author: Sandhya Menon
Genre:Young Adult- Contemporary
Page Count: 380
Publication Date: 2017
Rating: 4/5

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Dimple is not interested in getting married. She's interested in college and computer programming, even though her mother would rather see her getting married to the most eligible Indian bachelor. Rishi is a romantic. He's ready to give up his passion for art for a stable engineering career and a family. When Dimple and Rishi's families arrange a meeting for the two in the hopes that it ends in marital bliss, Dimple and Rishi have very different reactions. 

This book was about the cutest thing I have ever read. It was a good ol' fashioned too-cute-to-handle YA contemporary and I loved it! I loved both Dimple and Rishi, and the fact they we get both of their p.o.v.s throughout the story. Rishi is so sweet and optimistic and I loved Dimple's skepticism and drive. Their relationship with one another developed naturally and realistically.

I really appreciated a lot of things about this book. I loved that Dimple and Rishi were so passionate about their interests: coding for Dimple and comic book art for Rishi. They are both unashamedly passionate about their interests and that's something that I love seeing in YA characters in contemporaries. I also loved that Dimple was honest about the challenges facing a woman of color interested in the tech world, and her skepticism to accept her family's and culture's expectations for a woman of her age. 

I also appreciated the way that this novel handled sex, as that is an element about YA contemporaries that usually gets under my skin. I won't give anything away, but I thought this novel displayed a healthy and empowering view of the topic and the decisions surrounding it. 

This book had me laughing out loud and swooning, It was the perfect quick summer romance read. I really felt for both characters by the end of the novel, and this book has definitely made its way to my favorite YA contemporaries list.   

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: My 2017 Favorites So Far

So far this year I have read twenty-five books, which of course, isn't as many as I had hoped to read at the half-way point of the year, but I don't think I will ever read as many books as I would like to in a year. Here are my favorite books I've read in 2017 (so far.) 

Click the book title to read my review

I loved all of the characters in this book and couldn't put it down! This is a book I will be rereading in the future many times. 

I'm a sucker for any book that deals with the idea of fate, and this novel is so well crafted and heartfelt. The romance is adorable and heart wrenching. I laughed, I cried, and I thought about for days after finishing it. 

This book lived up to the hype for me. All of the characters were so well developed, even the smallest of side characters, and the message so important and well delivered. This book entertained and delivered a strong message and sense of hope. I'm hoping we will see more YA books getting political and touching on current social issues, as young people care about those things too, and have the power to make quite the impact on our society, sometimes they just need to be reminded that they have that power. 

I picked this one up on a whim as I didn't even know it existed and I'm so glad I did. I love Saenz's writing and the way he crafts characters. This was another book I had a hard time putting down. 

This book had me on the edge of my seat for the whole five hundred pages! I loved the twists and turns and the historical setting. 

6. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (Review coming tomorrow) 
This was about the cutest book I've ever read! I loved both Dimple and Rishi and their passions for computer tech and art respectively. 

Surprisingly, five out of the six of my favorite novels of the year are YA contemporaries, a genre I don't often read. Perhaps that means I should read it more often! 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Need Something to Watch? Try This!

I've been wanting to write up a post about what I have been watching and loving recently on Netflix, but haven't gotten around to it. In the past half-year or so, I've watched a lot of things that I want to recommend to other people, but I thought I would just highlight a couple today in this post. As always, my to-watch list is a mile long, but I'm really into supernatural T.V. shows right now (the older the better) so leave me your recommendations if you have some!

Twin Peaks

I have recently rewatched the original Twin Peaks in preparation for the reboot with my brother who had never seen the show. (I haven't started the reboot yet, so no spoilers please!) This show took over my life the first time I watched it, which was this past winter right around the end of the semester. I finished the whole series in about four days and was floored by the supernatural scenes. This show is so interesting and was groundbreaking for 1990 when it first aired. If you are unfamiliar, it is part soap-opera parody part supernatural thriller and entertaining as all get out. If you haven't watched this yet, it's a must. The juxtaposition of the soap-opera drama with David Lynch's dream-logic supernatural scenes are so jarring in the best way possible. I'll never forget the first time I watched the second episode in the series and experienced the Black Lodge; I was floored. This show really started my obsession with old supernatural T.V. shows, and now that's all I want to watch. This show is funny, over-the-top dramatic, and creepy. It's a must watch. 

The Crown

The Netflix original The Crown about Queen Elizabeth II took over my life last semester as well. This show had a HUGE budget, and it really shows. I loved the cast chosen for each part and the drama. I'm a history minor, so I love a good historical drama and this one delivered! I flew through this season and then immediately Googled when to expect season two. I discovered that they will cast new cast members to play the cast as they age on the show, which I think is a brilliant idea, and I'm eager to see how it turns out. I'll definitely be rewatching the first season before the second one comes out. This show left me in the mood to read all of the historical biographies and historical fiction on my shelves. 
The Keepers

The Keepers is a multiple part true-crime documentary made for Netflix revolving around the decades old murder of a nun turned public school teacher. My mom and I have been watching a lot of true-crime documentaries lately, and when this one came out, we decided to start it on a whim. All I can say about this one is WOW. This documentary deals with a lot of very heavy and heartbreaking topics, including sexual and physical abuse within the Catholic Church. This was so heart breaking to watch, but so worth it. There are so many fearless and strong women in this series. While I didn't enjoy this in the traditional sense of a light T.V. show, it was such a powerful and engaging watch. I highly recommend this one, just be ready for some tears and anger. 

Packed in a Trunk 

This lovely documentary was discovered on a whim by my mom, and I'm so glad she discovered it. It's about a woman's search to understand the life story of her great-aunt, Edith Lake, who was an amazing artist before she was institutionalized in her early 50s. This documentary has smart and witty real-life women, amazing art, history, and the discovery of forgotten female artists; is there anything else you could ask for? This is a hidden gem that I highly recommend you check out. It will leave you feeling inspired and determined. 

What have you been watching lately? Any good old Sci-fi to recommend?  

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Recently Read: West With the Night

Author: Beryl Markham
Genre: Nonfiction- Memoir
Page Count: 294
Publication Date: 1942
Rating: 4/5

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You may also like:
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain 

Beryl Markham was the first person (man or woman) to fly nonstop from Europe to America. She was born in Britain in 1902 and moved to Kenya with her family shortly thereafter. She was a renowned race horse trainer and adventurer. West with the Night is her memoir of her life in Africa.

Last year, I read Circling the Sun by Paula McLain because she is an auto-read author for me. I had no idea who Beryl Markham was, but by the end of McLain's fictionalized story about her, I knew I needed to learn more about her. 

Markham was tall, blonde, and fearless. She inhabited many male dominated spheres without second thoughts or doubts. This memoir covers a few events from her life, but Markham leaves quite a bit out. She leaves out all three of her marriages, and her various love affairs, as well as the birth of her son and her turbulent relationship with her mother. But she talks of her childhood in Africa, training horses, and learning to fly. I was taken back by Markham's writing skills and ability to create an image. 

There is a blurb on the cover from Ernest Hemingway who writes:
"Written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer... Markham can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers... It is really a bloody wonderful book."
Now if you know anything about Hemingway, and his reluctance to compliment any woman he wasn't trying to sleep with, that's high praise. The book's introduction speaks of claim's made by Markham's ex-husband after their divorce that he actually wrote the book instead of Markham, but I, along with most of those who read this book, have a hard time believing that claim.

I love the pictures that Markham creates of Africa in the early to mid 1900s and the way she speaks about the country she loved. It really has sparked an interest in me to learn more about British colonized Africa. While Markham doesn't write a linear biography of her life, she writes about events that were particularly special to her, which makes this novel, in turn, special.

I highly recommend checking this out the next time you are in the mood for adventure and a far-away setting. I'll leave you with a taste of Markham's writing. This is from one passage about the solitude of flying an airplane that stuck out to me.
"You can live a lifetime, and at the end of it, know more about other people than you know about yourself.... The abhorrence of loneliness is as natural as wanting to live at all. If it were otherwise, men would have never bothered to make an alphabet, nor to have fashioned words out of what were only animal sounds, nor to have crossed continents - each man to see what the other looked like."  

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I STILL Need to Start

This year has been the year of the standalone for me so far. There are so many series that I need to get caught up on (a post for another day) and that I need to start! So, before I get too overwhelmed with thinking about all the books I want to read, here's ten series that I would like to start! I own at least the first book in the series for all of the series listed below, so I really have no excuses here.
Hosted by: The Broke and the Bookish


1.  The Fairyland Series by Catherine M. Valente 

2. Papergirls by Brian K. Vaughn 

3. The Bronze Horsemen Trilogy by Paulina Simmons 


4. The Magnus Chase Series by Rick Riordan 

5. The Thursday Next Series by Jasper Fforde 

6. Finishing School Series by Gale Carriger


7. The Glamourist Histories Series by Mary Robinette Kowal  

8. The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency by Jordon Stratford 

9. The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante 

10.  The Lois Lane Series by Gwenda Bond

Monday, June 19, 2017

Used Book Haul!

I went a little crazy in the used section of my local bookstore. I had some credit I had been hanging onto for a while as I was so indecisive as to what I wanted to spend it on. When I was browsing recently, I found a couple books that I have been keeping an eye out for, and a couple more that just caught my eye, so I went for it! Be prepared, I also made a Book Outlet order recently, so that post will be coming too... oops!

Tea: Addiction, Exploitation, and Empire by Roy Moxham
Two things I love are tea and history. I am a history minor, but since I have finished my degree, I have missed learning and studying history on a regular basis. I think this book will be a perfect fix for that learning void. I love approaching history through an object or artifact, and tea has such a long history and world-wide significance. I'm really eager to get into this one and love the images included in the book.  

On the Pleasure of Hating by William Hazlitt
I have quite the pile of these Penguin Great Ideas sitting on my shelf that I need to get to, but when I saw this one on my bookstore's shelves, I couldn't pass it up. These are near impossible to find in America, unless you buy online, and I love the compact design they come in. This is an author I know absolutely nothing about, but the concept sounds really interesting to me, and it has been on my wishlist for a while. 

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
I just finished and loved (and reviewed here) my first Water's novel Fingersmith, and loved it! So naturally, I had my eyes out for more of her works. I wasn't planning on picking up this one next, but since I found it used, I might have to. The concept of this one, oyster-girl turned music hall star, sounds really interesting. 

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
I love historical fiction so this one has been on my wishlist forever. I decided to finally go for it when I found a used hardcover copy. I have really high hopes for this one, and plan to get to it very soon. 

Those are the books I've picked up lately! I'm really keen to get to all of them very soon. Let me know your thoughts about these ones! 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Recently Read: Fingersmith

Author: Sarah Waters
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 2002
Page Count: 582
Rating: 4/5

Add on Goodreads 

Sue is an orphan who lives with a family of thieves in London in the year 1862. She has learned the tricks of the trade from her family around her, and when she is offered a chance to make her own fortune by a man who does regular business with her adoptive father, she knows better than to refuse. But Sue has no idea what she is getting herself into, or where she comes from. 

Ever since I have been blogging, I have heard great things about Sarah Waters. I picked this book up at my local bookstore a year or so ago, and it has sat on my shelf because of its size and my busy school schedule. I finally picked it up on a whim earlier this month and flew through it despite its size. Waters is known for her lesbian historical fiction with twists and mysteries, and this one delivered.

Waters did a great job creating the atmosphere for this novel. The atmosphere was historic, Gothic, and quite dreadful: perfect for London in 1862. The characters were done so well. Every character had multiple sides to them, as many were crooks or thieves, but were real people with messy motivations. I really enjoyed the romance element of this novel, as it was not front and center, but was natural to the story and the plot. It's great to see a well done lesbian romance set in a historical setting, as that is not something I come across too often in my reading of historical fiction. I know most of Waters books have a lesbian romance and a historical setting, so if that interests you, please check her out. 

I don't want to talk about the mystery/twist in this novel too much because I want you to be as taken back by it as I was, but I will say, I was on the edge of my seat for the entirety of this novel. I couldn't read fast enough when I got to the middle of the novel; I had to know what was happening and how it could have happened. I was thoroughly engaged and entertained by this novel from the first to last page.  

I will be picking up another Waters novel as soon as I can. I have a feeling I will be speeding through her back catalog of novels in the near future. Let me know which novel of hers I should read next! 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Theme Spotlight: Faith in Young Adult

It's been a while since I have done a theme spotlight, and I was thinking about this topic the other day before deciding it would be perfect for a theme spotlight post. I have not come across that many YA books that tackle the theme of religious faith. These three books featured in this post tackled the theme in a really interesting way. Two of the novels deal with a blind but intense faith; the third with the questioning of a faith that has been handed down to you.

Previous Theme Spotlight Posts:
Unique Form
Self Discovery
Family Relationships
Faith and Spirituality in Classics
Gender in Young Adult
Fictional Novels Featuring Real People

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley 
I really want to reread this novel this summer. The faith in this novel is so interesting. I don't want to say too much because it's tied to spoilers, but there are different kinds of faith in the novel. One character deals with faith in a kinda-sorta religious kinda-sorta just plain faith way and another deals with a really intense and obsessive faith. This is one of my favorite YA contemporaries, but it doesn't seem to get talked about very much.  

The Serpent King by Jeff Zenter
This novel also deals with intense faith and the idea of 'small-town America.' The main character's father is the leader of the religious organization that he and much of the town are a part of. This novel questions blind faith as well as the role faith plays in the lives of many people. It is neither condemning or encouraging regarding religious faith, it just deals with the theme in an honest way. 

The Inexplicable Logic of my Life by Benjaimin Alire Saenz 
I've become a huge fan of Saenz this year, and I really loved this novel. This novel deals with many themes, but among them is the handing down of faith from parents to children. I really enjoyed this aspect of the novel and the questions that Sal asked himself. Again, the idea of religious faith felt natural in the novel and the lives of the characters.  

Leave me your recommendations for books with similar themes!