Book review: My Lady’s Choosing by Kitty Curran & Larissa Zageris

My Lady’s Choosing by Kitty Curran & Larissa Zageris
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonTBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: April 3, 2018
Source: Borrowed

The romance novel that lets you pick your path, follow your heart, and find happily ever after

You are the plucky but penniless heroine in the center of eighteenth-century society, courtship season has begun, and your future is at hand. Will you flip forward fetchingly to find love with the bantering baronet Sir Benedict Granville? Or turn the page to true love with the hardworking, horse-loving highlander Captain Angus McTaggart? Or perhaps race through the chapters chasing a good (and arousing) man gone mad, bad, and scandalous to know, Lord Garraway Craven? Or read on recklessly and take to the Continent as the “traveling companion” of the spirited and adventuresome Lady Evangeline? Or yet some other intriguing fate? Make choices, turn pages, and discover all the daring delights of the multiple (and intertwining!) storylines. And in every path you pick, beguiling illustrations bring all the lust and love to life.

Earlier this summer, I read a different book by Kitty Curran & Larissa Zageris: The Secrets of the Starbucks Lovers. It was a detective novel featuring Taylor Swift and Lorde, and if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. Much like that book, My Lady’s Choosing was an experience. Is it well-written? Probably not. Would I have enjoyed it as a traditional romance novel? Nope. Was it a really fun way to spend a Tuesday night? You bet it was.

The thing about this book is that it’s just fun. Don’t take it seriously. Don’t pretend that it’s high-level literature. It’s cute and maybe a little trashy and the choices are honestly hilarious. At one point, I had to decide whether I wanted to be a curious wench or a demure governess, and I just about died laughing. In real life, I’m more of a demure governess, so clearly, the version of myself in this book had to be a curious wench. Things worked out pretty well, though there was a big plot twist at the end.

I still have a few days before this one is due back to the library, so I’m planning to choose a few more paths when I get a minute. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a fun time.

Goodreads summer reading challenge: childhood reboot

Previously: The Secrets of the Starbucks Lovers


Have you read My Lady’s Choosing? Have you read other any choose your own adventure books recently? Let’s talk in the comments!


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Reading Challenge Update: Goodreads Summer Reading Challenge

A few months ago, I decided to participate in the Goodreads Summer Reading Challenge. I went with the beginner level, which had 23 prompts. I’m happy to report that, while I didn’t finish the challenge, I did complete twenty of the prompts! (Given another week, I probably could’ve finished the challenge, but it’s okay!)

Into the Great Wide Open: read a book that takes place out in the great wide open

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson (★★★☆☆)
Goodreads | my review

Get Your Grill On: read a book that features summer recipes or outdoor summer activities

😦

The Colors of Summer: read a book that features a yellow, green, or sandy cover

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur (★★★☆☆)
Goodreads | my review

Beach Bum: read a book that could be considered a beach read

Save the Date by Morgan Matson (★★★★☆)
Goodreads | my review

Sand Between My Toes: read a book that takes place in or around a beach/ocean

Seaside Sweets by Melissa Chambers (★★★★☆)
Goodreads | my review

Ocean Blue: read a book that takes place on the water

How to Breathe Underwater by Vicky Skinner (★☆☆☆☆)
Goodreads | my review

Hook ‘Em: read a book that features fishing or fishermen

😦

Sports-a-holic: read a book that features a popular summer sport

Running With Lions by Julian Winters (★★★★☆)
Goodreads | my review

Campfire Story: read a book that scares the bejesus out of you

😦

One and Done: read a book that you can finish in one day

To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin (★★★★☆)
Goodreads | my review

Let’s Get It On: read a book that features falling in or out of love

Paper Hearts by Claire Contreras (★★☆☆☆)
Goodreads | my review

Take Pride: read a book written by an LGBTQIA author or that features an LGBTQIA character

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour (★★★☆☆)
Goodreads | my review

Read the World: read a book that takes place in a country – or focuses on a culture – other than your own

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (★★★★☆)
Goodreads | my review

Diversify Yourself: read a book by an author of color

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (★★★★★)
Goodreads | my review

You Have a Lovely Accent: read a book that was translated from another language

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo (★★★★☆)
Goodreads | my review

Won’t Be Long: read a collection of short stories or essays

Summer Days and Summer Nights anthology (★★★☆☆)
Goodreads | my review

Poet at Heart: read a book of poetry

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace (★★★★☆)
Goodreads | my review

My, What Big Teeth You Have: read a book that puts a spin on a well-known fairy tale

Kingdom of Ash and Soot by C.S. Johnson (★★★☆☆)
Goodreads | my review

High Noon: read a classic or contemporary Western

Lights, Cowboy, Action by Cindi Madsen (★★★☆☆)
Goodreads | my review

TBRing It: read a book from the bottom of your TBR pile

The Pawn by Skye Warren (★★☆☆☆)
Goodreads | my review

Unshelve It: read a book that’s been sitting on your Goodreads Shelves for a while

Very Bad Things by Ilsa Madden-Mills (★★☆☆☆)
Goodreads | my review

Childhood Reboot: read a choose-your-own-adventure novel

My Lady’s Choosing by Kitty Curran & Larissa Zageris (★★★★☆)
Goodreads | my review hasn’t been posted yet, but it’s coming!

Listen to Me: listen to an audiobook

We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates (★★★★★)
Goodreads | my review hasn’t been posted yet, but it’s coming!


Did you participate in the Goodreads Summer Reading Challenge? If so, how did you do? What should I have read for the prompts that I missed? Let’s talk in the comments!

Book review: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: February 14, 2017
Source: Borrowed

You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…

Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

One of my goals for this summer was to read more books by Nina LaCour. I really enjoyed You Know Me Well when I read it a couple years ago, but life got in the way and even though at least three of her books have been on my TBR forever, I never got around to actually reading them. I put a library hold on We Are Okay months ago. When the hold finally came in, I promptly forgot that I had the book and realized, as I was packing for my trip to Wisconsin, that the book was going to expire the next day. I read it in the airport and I usually love books that I read in airports, but this one was only… okay.

I think the biggest problem I had was that the book is just super character-driven, to the point that not a lot actually happens. And I get it, I really do. The whole point of the book is that Marin’s grandfather has just died and she’s trying to deal with her grief and all the changes in her life and she’s trying to figure out what everything means for her. I get it. But I wanted something more to happen. Something to keep me interested. Something other than just beautiful writing.

The book was just so sad and I didn’t see much of a point to it other than that. Three stars for the writing alone, but if I’m being honest, I’m pretty disappointed.

#mm18: vacation reads
Goodreads summer reading challenge: take pride


Have you read We Are Okay? Have you read any of Nina LaCour’s other books?
Let’s talk in the comments!


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ARC review: Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Source: ARC from First to Read

Darius doesn’t think he’ll ever be enough, in America or in Iran. Hilarious and heartbreaking, this unforgettable debut introduces a brilliant new voice in contemporary YA.

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming–especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.

Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understands that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.

Sohrab calls him Darioush–the original Persian version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.

I might have let out a little yelp when I got the email from First to Read that I’d been chosen for an ARC of Darius the Great is Not Okay. I’d been looking forward to reading it for a while and I never really know what’s going to happen when I try to get books from them. It was also on Becky Albertalli’s list of LGBTQ recommendations, so there’s another ringing endorsement. I was all set to love it, and I did… mostly.

I loved the friendship between Darius and Sohrab. Darius is a lot of things. He’s awkward, he’s nerdy, and he’s self-conscious. He’s overweight, he struggles with depression, and he gets bullied a lot. He doesn’t really have any friends except for the one Persian girl in his school that he sometimes has lunch with. But when he gets to Iran, he instantly bonds with Sohrab. Sohrab is a guy who doesn’t really fit in, either. He’s different from the other kids in his town, but he knows from the minute that he meets Darius that they’ll be best friends. Their friendship is so sweet.

The actual LGBTQ aspect is very subtle. I don’t recall Darius ever actually addressing his sexuality. There are times when a family member will ask him why he doesn’t have a girlfriend and he’ll kind of dodge the question. There are little hints that Darius feels more than friendly toward Sohrab, and maybe Sohrab feels the same toward him, but this isn’t a romance. (And that’s totally fine.)

Now, for what kept the book from a full five stars. There were two things that kind of ate away at me while I was reading. First, the book relies pretty heavily on Star Trek references to move along the plot. This isn’t necessarily a problem for me in general. I’ve never been a huge fan of Star Trek, but I usually love pop culture references in books. It just felt a little over-the-top here. And second, there were so many similes. Everything had to be compared to something else. My protected PDF wouldn’t let me make highlights, so I’m just going based off my memory here, but I recall Darius referring to his voice as “squeaky like a cheese curd,” and that was just really interesting. All in all, though, those are two really minor complaints about a book that was otherwise really well-written.

In the end, I’d say that Darius the Great is Not Okay is a really great character-driven debut that I’d easily recommend to just about anyone. There’s one point, near the end of the book, where I almost burst into tears in the middle of a crowded airplane. I felt so bad for Darius and just wanted to give him a big hug.

#mm18: vacation reads
Goodreads summer reading challenge: read the world


Have you read Darius the Great Is Not Okay? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!


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Mini physics reviews: The Quantum Labyrinth & Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

I don’t usually talk about physics, but today I’m bringing you two non-fiction physics book reviews! I understand very little physics. In fact, I barely scraped by with a C in my high school physics course. (That horrible class kept me from being valedictorian, but it’s fine. It’s fine! I might still be bitter ten years later, but it’s fine.) Coincidentally, I started dating a boy just after high school who was very interested in physics. Ten years later, he’s got a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from Princeton. I still understand very little of it.

My uncle (who is also rather into physics) sent me a copy of The Quantum Labyrinth several months ago in hopes that I would gain more of an understanding of the field. Or maybe, if not the field, a little bit of what makes some people so interested in physics. I was also eagerly anticipating Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, so what better than to combine the two into one post?

The Quantum Labyrinth by Paul Halpern
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: October 17, 2017
Source: Christmas present!

The story of the unlikely friendship between the two physicists who fundamentally recast the notion of time and history.

In 1939, Richard Feynman, a brilliant graduate of MIT, arrived in John Wheeler’s Princeton office to report for duty as his teaching assistant. A lifelong friendship and enormously productive collaboration was born, despite sharp differences in personality. The soft-spoken Wheeler, though conservative in appearance, was a raging nonconformist full of wild ideas about the universe. The boisterous Feynman was a cautious physicist who believed only what could be tested. Yet they were complementary spirits. Their collaboration led to a complete rethinking of the nature of time and reality. It enabled Feynman to show how quantum reality is a combination of alternative, contradictory possibilities, and inspired Wheeler to develop his landmark concept of wormholes, portals to the future and past. Together, Feynman and Wheeler made sure that quantum physics would never be the same again.

I often think that I should read more academic-type books. You know, books that actually teach me something rather than just being fun. The Quantum Labyrinth definitely fits the bill. It’s well-written (though it can be a little dense at times) and the references to familiar places, names, and theories helped me slog through the more technical sections.

Going into this book, I knew next to nothing about John Wheeler, Richard Feynman’s friend and advisor during his years at Princeton. I have read a bit about Feynman himself since I read What Do You Care What Other People Think? a number of years ago. (Pre-blog and even pre-Goodreads account, it seems.) It surprised me to learn how interconnected the physics world was back in the 1940s. Imagine just popping over to Einstein’s house (coincidentally right down the street from where I used to live) or inviting Niels Bohr over for tea!

I don’t know that I’d recommend this for the average reader (it’s certainly not something that I would have picked up on my own) but it’s a good read for anybody interested in physics.

#mm18: read locally

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Source: Borrowed

The essential universe, from our most celebrated and beloved astrophysicist.

What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson.

But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.

While you wait for your morning coffee to brew, for the bus, the train, or a plane to arrive, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will reveal just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe.

So, as I said, astrophysics really isn’t my forte. Words are more my thing. I’m also pretty decent at explaining anything that can happen to your skin, since I have, after all, worked in dermatology for six years. But astrophysics? That whooshing noise you just heard is all of it going straight over my head. You should have seen me at an astrophysics conference in Scotland in 2015. I tagged along because, hello, extraordinarily discounted trip to Scotland?!? But yeah, I was a deer in the headlights the entire time. Good thing some of the other guys brought their wives and children. I might have died otherwise.

I figured that Neil deGrasse Tyson might be a good person to explain astrophysics to me. He seems like a good guy in interviews. But… I don’t know, I feel like this book might be a little too basic? It’s easy to understand and it’s well-written, but I don’t think I learned a single thing that I hadn’t already picked up from my horrible high school physics course and all of the million meals I’ve been forced to consume with large groups of physicists. I don’t consider myself well-versed in the topic — like, at all — but I didn’t really get anything new out of this.

I’d recommend it as a very basic intro to the field, but not necessarily for someone who already knows what astrophysics is and is looking to learn more.

Goodreads Summer Reading Challenge: into the great wide open


Have you read either of these books? How do you feel about physics?
Let’s talk in the comments!


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Book review: Running With Lions by Julian Winters

Running With Lions by Julian Winters
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: June 7, 2018
Source: Purchased at BookCon!
Bloomington High School Lions’ star goalie, Sebastian Hughes, should be excited about his senior year: His teammates are amazing and he’s got a coach who doesn’t ask anyone to hide their sexuality. But when his estranged childhood best friend Emir Shah shows up to summer training camp, Sebastian realizes the team’s success may end up in the hands of the one guy who hates him. Determined to reconnect with Emir for the sake of the Lions, he sets out to regain Emir’s trust. But to Sebastian’s surprise, sweaty days on the pitch, wandering the town’s streets, and bonding on the weekends sparks more than just friendship between them.

So, basically, I’ve been counting down the minutes until this was released ever since I first saw it pop up on a list of Becky Albertalli’s diverse YA recommendations. I also saw early reviews and was denied for it on Netgalley (still crying, honestly) but it’s all good because I bought it at BookCon! Ahead of publication, even!

While I was at BookCon, I met Julian Winters. He’s the only author I actually interacted with there, and he was so nice. He personalized my book for me, we had a little conversation about how I’m Sara with no H, and he told me to tag him in my review if I love it and just throw away the book if I hate it. I’m not throwing away the book, Julian. It was so cute.

I’ll be honest, it took me a minute to adjust to the writing style. I’m not really used to third person present tense narration, but it’s okay. I got used to it. And, honestly, this is what a YA sports romance should be like. None of the petty arguments and random physical altercations that plagued my last attempt at the genre. I’m not a big sports person (much to the dismay of every elderly man that tries to talk about the Green Bay Packers with me), but I’m like 99% sure this is how a team is supposed to function. These kids make such a great team. Even the conflict (Emir not quite fitting in) feels really realistic and I thought the whole thing was just very well-done.

The romance itself was super cute, and I guess we can safely say that I have a thing for friends-to-enemies-to-lovers romances, because I almost always enjoy them. Sebastian and Emir were so cute together (how many times can I say cute in one review??) and I was rooting for them the whole time. I loved how accepting the whole team was and how much they stood up for each other.

The last thing I want to say is that I loved all the music references! The team is always listening to some kind of good music, be it Fall Out Boy or The 1975 or fun. There are also a couple Taylor Swift references, and if that’s not the way to my heart, I don’t even know what is.

I would definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for a cute (there’s that word again!) M/M YA romance.

Goodreads summer reading challenge: sports-a-holic


Have you read Running With Lions? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!


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ARC review: To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin

To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: August 21, 2018
Source: ARC from BookCon!

Savannah is dreading being home alone with her overbearing mother after her sister goes off to college. But if she can just get through senior year, she’ll be able to escape to college, too. What she doesn’t count on is that her mother’s obsession with weight has only grown deeper since her appearance on an extreme weight-loss show, and now Savvy’s mom is pressuring her even harder to be constantly mindful of what she eats.

Between her mom’s diet-helicoptering, missing her sister, and worrying about her collegiate future, Savvy has enough to worry about. And then she meets George, the cute new kid at school who has insecurities of his own. As Savvy and George grow closer, they help each other discover how to live in the moment and enjoy the here and now before it disappears.

loved Maggie’s debut, The Big F, when I read it last year. TBH has been at the top of my 2018 TBR ever since it was announced and I was so excited to grab a copy when I was at BookCon! Side note, BookCon was how long ago and I’m just now getting to the ARCs? I’m so sorry.

Anyway, the review.

Savannah is definitely a less likable heroine than Dani was. She’s rude, she’s angry, and she pushes people away. And why shouldn’t she? Her mother is always making snide comments about her weight and trying to get her to tag along with her latest diet scheme. I’d be rude and angry, too. Despite Savannah’s attitude problem, or maybe even because of it, I liked her. I got where she was coming from. She was a refreshing protagonist and reading her story made me so happy.

The family dynamics in this book stressed me out so much, but I also loved them! In addition to her diet-crazed mother, Savannah has a barely-there father who really isn’t that great at parenting… when he even bothers to show up. Her sister Ashley is her saving grace, but since Ashley just left for college, Savannah is more or less on her own with a mother who constantly makes her feel like she isn’t good enough.

Luckily, Savannah’s best friend Grace is a constant positive presence. I loved Grace and the fact that their friendship never took a backseat to the action, regardless of what the action was. There’s a really great side plot about Savannah and Grace doing some investigative journalism, and I loved it!

The last thing I want to talk about is the love interest, George. He was such a cutie pie and I loved him so much. George and Savannah were so cute together, honestly, I was just one big heart eyes emoji while I was reading their scenes together. 😍 The only thing I could’ve wished for was some better communication between the two of them. Savannah jumped to a lot of conclusions and George was pretty closed off about his emotions, but considering that they’re in high school, I’m really not that surprised!

All in all, this is a great contemporary focusing on body shaming and body image that also includes a super cute romance. Highly recommended!

Goodreads summer reading challenge: one and done


Have you read To Be Honest? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!


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