Me, reviewing books?
This is when you know the quarantine has gotten to me. I’m mostly kidding, but actually sort of not, because I just went back to look at my previous posts and realized the last time I wrote reviews (and they were mini, not even full) was in July. Which was almost a year ago. So I’d say this post is way overdue.
One good thing about being at my house almost all the time now is that I’ve been able to read a lot of new books!! I read some of these books using Overdrive, but some of them are ones I’ve owned for a while and never got around to reading and then realized how disappointed I was in myself for having an unread book on my shelf, and with the free time, thought it would be even more disappointing if I didn’t read it now. Both access to books online and unread books on my shelves allowed me to have books to read even in this time of staying inside.
Thankfully, after spending March and April trying to get access to books online, my library started doing curbside pickup in May! Now, in mid-June, they’re opening back up with distancing measures and mask guidelines and everything, and I haven’t gone yet, but I’m hoping to go really soon.
Anyway, I’ve read a lot of books I enjoyed and wanted to talk about in the last couple of months, and after promising mini reviews both in my April and May recaps and going through the comments to make sure I’m talking about all the books people wanted to hear about- I’m finally actually writing them! This post was originally going to include over ten books, but it was getting way too long, so I’m only going to talk about five books in this post and review the rest in a part two later this month.
Title: 10 Blind Dates
Author: Ashley Elston
My Rating: ★★★★★
I think this might be the most adorable I’ve read in quite a while! It was so good that I felt compelled to write out some of my thoughts on Goodreads, which I never used to do, and I’m glad I did it because now I can easily recall some reasons why you should most definitely read it. Besides the cover, because that’s just a reason all in itself.
- This book is full of family relationships! The main character, Sophie, goes to stay at her grandmother’s house along with dozens of her aunts, uncles, and cousins, and the bond the whole family has is so sweet. She also has an amazing relationship with her older sister, and I loved the texts between them- and she and her cousin Olivia (!!) are close as well! Oh, and her grandmother, Nonna, is hilariously amazing.
- The premise of going on blind dates set up by her family is amazing. It does seem crazy, but the dates are so entertaining to read about. Some are more serious, some are hilarious, some are embarrassing. And her whole family places bets on the dates and falls over themselves to pick the best date…it’s a whole game.
- I had a personal connection to the setting. Some of my extended family lives in the same town where this book was set and I recognized a lot of the places and one of her date locations was somewhere I go every year and that made it all the more cozy to me!
Overall, this book is brimming with family relationships, hilarity, cozy Christmas vibes (although there’s nothing wrong with reading it in the dead of summer), and was completely heartwarming. I had to give it five stars because it made me so happy, kept me thoroughly entertained, and is a book I will definitely reread!
trigger warnings: high-risk pregnancy threats, gray area cheating
Title: Love From A to Z
Author: S.K. Ali
My Rating: ★★★★☆
I feel like the title of this book sums it up more than perfectly: Love From A to Z is a love story at heart, and I thoroughly enjoyed not only the romance, but the other plots and messages that were a part of this novel!
- The dual perspectives allowed you to get to know both Adam and Zayneb so well. I loved how this book was written in the diary-ish format, what with both Adam and Zayneb being interested in the “marvel and oddities” of the world. Both of their voices were distinct and I felt like I got to know them both separately.
- I just loved how both Zayneb and Adam were complex characters with so many layers. Zayneb is focused on dealing with the continued Islamophobia she faces at school, as well as with the death of her grandmother. Adam is dealing with his diagnosis of MS and grieving his mother. Yet, somehow despite everything going on in their lives, they find each other through it all.
- Family relationships were everything in this novel! From Zayneb’s amazingly fun aunt she’s staying with in Qatar to Adam’s relationship with his widower father and little sister…I feel like nothing makes characters more relatable than when they have sweet interactions with family members.
- The epilogue. I mean, read this for the epilogue, if for nothing else.
I just loved this book, and as much as I feel like I just word vomited about it…it’s the best? So sweet, so layered, so filled with vibrant characters, such a wonderful read. It wasn’t quite five stars for me, but I still loved it and it just barely missed my imaginary mark that no one knows what it is, not even me!
trigger warnings: Islamophobia, death of loved one, talk of war
Title: You Asked for Perfect
Author: Laura Silverman
My Rating: ★★★★☆
I knew from the second I saw the Goodreads synopsis of You Asked for Perfect that I was going to be able to relate to this story, and I wasn’t wrong. Out of all the young adult books set in American high schools, I think this one got it right the most. I loved almost every second of reading this novel.
- The academic pressure- they got it right. I don’t usually talk about my experience with school, but I, like the main character, Ariel, place so much pressure on myself to excel academically. I’m not quite to his level (he is valedictorian, after all), but honestly, reading about all his AP classes and staying up late to finish work and putting aside everything else to do well is so relatable, I almost cried. I could never have read this book at any other time besides quarantine, because had I been in actual school at the time of me reading this, the stress of this compounding on my ordinary school stress would have been way too much.
- I loved reading about Ariel’s Jewish culture and family. This book put a lot of emphasis on his Jewish culture, and I loved the scenes where his family would eat dinner together (this made me want his mom’s matzo ball soup SO much) and go to his little sister’s soccer games and celebrate holidays and generally be adorable.
- The romance was so sweet! I feel like for me, my memories of this book are much more of the school side of things and everything with Ariel’s faith and family, but it’s important to note that the love interest, Amir, was so soft and sweet and the romance was such a lovely asset to the story.
This book is so so important! I think I gave this 4 stars because there were some smaller subplots that I didn’t love, but overall, wow, this book really got the high school experience right. Although as a note: if you put academic pressure on yourself, I would not recommend reading this during the school year! It might cause more stress.
trigger warnings: anxiety & panic attacks, hospitalization
Title: I Wish You All the Best
Author: Mason Deaver
My Rating: ★★★★☆
This book was so, so good. I’ve always been so in love with books that manage to be quietly powerful, and that’s exactly what I felt like I Wish You All the Best was.
- Ben’s experiences were shattering and eye-opening. The story starts with Ben coming out as nonbinary to their parents, and getting thrown out of their house. Watching them go through the heartbreak of being rejected by their parents, have to adjust to life living with their estranged sister and her husband, going to new school, finding a counselor and dealing with the emotions of all of this- wow. I can never understand the depth of what Ben went through, but reading about their experiences is the closest I can get.
- I loved reading about Ben’s relationship with their sister! Hannah, Ben’s sister, also left their parents’ house, though she chose to. Their relationship was complicated, as Ben felt that she had abandoned them when she left years ago, but Hannah also takes him in and she and her husband (I forgot his name but he was so kind!!) start to build a relationship with Ben.
- Nathan!! Nathan is Ben’s friend and eventual love interest (it says that in the synopsis so not a spoiler I guess?) and he is everything sweet and sunflower-y and friendly and soft and I just adored him. What a gem.
As much as this book is sad, it also has so many moments of hope and I just really wanted to give Ben the biggest hug. It was the first book I read with a nonbinary main character, and I found it to be such an important, powerful novel.
trigger warnings: homophobia, misgendering (accidental and purposeful), parental abuse (physical and emotional), transphobia, detailed anxiety & panic attacks, detailed depressive episodes, suicide idealization
Author: Emily X.R. Pan
My Rating: ★★★☆☆
Before reading this book, it had been sitting on my shelf unread for way too long. Despite it sort of putting me in a reading slump for part of May and not quite living up to my high expectations for it, I did overall have a positive experience with The Astonishing Color of After!
- I loved the culture and family. The main character, Leigh, travels to Taiwan to visit her grandparents after her mother dies, and getting to read about the culture and places she visits in Taiwan was so amazing! As Leigh is biracial, she also struggles with feelings of belonging, both in America and in Taiwan. I also thought her relationship with her grandparents, whom she never has met before, was really sweet. I was not a fan of her relationship with her dad at all (I really didn’t like him), but there was good development with that!
- I didn’t see the magical realism coming. I failed to actually pay attention to Goodreads and see that there was magical realism in this- and while it threw me off guard, it was magical, so yay! I also felt like the flashbacks were nice, but ended up making the book move at a much slower pace, which is why I fell into a reading slump while reading this.
- The romance seemed a tiny bit unnecessary to me. I didn’t have a problem with the love interest, Axel, and I always think “we were best friends until we were more” is so cute…but it just seemed kind of irrelevant to me.
- The ending though! I think what saved this book for me was that I loved the ending. Everything that I was sort of “eh” about fell into place way better than I would have imagined, resulting in me actually enjoying this book!
I wish I had loved this book more, but it’s not as if I didn’t like it. Like I said, the ending really pulled everything together for me and took this from a possible 2 star to a definite 3 star! I would still recommend it, especially for the Taiwanese culture and for following Leigh’s journey with herself and with her art.
trigger warnings: suicide, suicidal thoughts, depression, death of loved one, electroconvulsive therapy
I really loved writing these reviews, and I hope you enjoyed reading them! Before I wrote this I was feeling like it might be the most fun ever to write reviews, and was kind of doing it out of blogger obligation, but it turns out I love nothing more than writing bullet point after bullet point about books I love.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you’re all doing well! Please take care of yourselves, stay safe, and continue to educate yourselves on how we can make the world a better place and how you can help to do that. I love you all!✨
Have you read any of these books, or do you want to? What did you think of them? I’d love to talk with you in the comments!
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash