Mini Reviews: Sheets & Ghosts

Found out a very important thing when I was at the library the other day… All the good graphic novels are in the kids section!!! I’ve been going to this library for my entire life (I still have my original library card with my barely legible childhood signature) and once I moved up to the YA and adult sections I kind of stopped going to the children’s section. But now that my brothers are old enough to be getting into chapter books, I’ve started to venture into the middle grade section more and more. For one, it’s super fun to reminisce over all of the books that I recognize over the years, but also I’ver realized that there are so many good books that I’ve wanted to read that are hidden over there!

The graphic novel section in the YA part of my library holds almost exclusively manga (which I’ve never really gotten into) so I was super excited when I went to get my brother a graphic novel from the kids section and I stumbled upon Sheets by Brenna Thummler and Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier! I read them both in one night and was surprised that they carried pretty similar themes so I’ve decided to group them together in this post to review!

So first off is Sheets by Brenna Thummler. This book follows a girl named Marjorie. She’s thirteen and is not only navigating the difficulties of school (boys and P.E. are stressful, definitely relatable) but she’s also running her family’s laundry business completely on her own. Now take in the fact that a ghost named Wendell is starting to cause problems behind the scenes of the store and a conniving “businessman” that’s trying to take the business out from under them this story dives a lot deeper than I ever expected it to.

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First off, I want to say that the artwork in this is stunning. The colors are absolutely gorgeous. I mean look at these!

 

And apart from that, the story is great. The parts with the rude customers hurt my heart but were so highly realistic (and this is coming from someone who works at a dry cleaners so it was very relatable). This book was about healing and growing. While both Marjorie and Wendell have experienced death in one way or another (Marjorie lost her mom and Wendell himself is dead) it was touching to see how they grew into themselves as the story progressed. This was incredibly different than I expected it to be from when I’ve heard people talk about it but I absolutely loved it all the same.

Now the second graphic novel I read was Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier. Raina is a favorite author of mine and I was really excited to finally be able to read this. Ghosts is about a girl named Catrina (Cat) and her sister, Maya. Maya has Cystic Fibrosis (CF) so their family is moving to a coastal town in order to try and see if the sea air will help her lungs. After moving, the sisters find out that there is more to the little coastal town than meets the eye. Spoiler alert: It’s ghosts 😉

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This book was also a lot deeper than I expected it to be and there were a few scenes that got me tearing up. It was a really touching story about a town that embraces those that have died and celebrates their ghosts as they come back. A lot of this story centered around Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and the town enjoying their time with those that have passed away.

I read a number of reviews that I found myself disagreeing with because in the end, I don’t think that this book was supposed to be a history lesson. It was a story in which two girls were trying to learn how to come to terms with the fact that one them is sick. Now CF is slowly becoming less and less of a fatal disease, but it is a lifelong illness that people have to deal with. No matter how much the technology improves, there’s still a chance that someone could die. I mean I closely followed Claire Wineland‘s journey on Youtube while she tried to get a lung transplant and then she ended up passing away from a stroke that was caused by a blood clot after having a successful transplant. The scene in Ghosts where Maya asks Cat if she would be scared of her ghost if she died tore me up inside. And that’s what this story is about. It’s about seeing the inevitability of death and understanding that we can be scared of it, but that doesn’t mean that we have to forget about or be saddened by the people we have lost. We can celebrate and cherish our loved ones for as long as we live.

And maybe this story could have done with the Dia de los Muertos aspects (I personally didn’t read into it as much as some reviewers did) but I think that having those allowed the characters to celebrate their heritage and traditions that not everyone gets to learn about.

I thought that this story was great and although it wasn’t my favorite of Raina’s (Smile still takes the cake) I did really enjoy this story!

I gave both of these books 5 stars and I highly recommend them both.

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The Books That Shaped Me: Part 3

I honestly thought that I would only be doing one post for this series but the more that I thought about all the books that have meant so much to me over the years, the more that I realized there were way more than could fit into one post.

Part 1 consisted of the books that I read throughout elementary school. Part 2 was all the books that I read throughout middle school. And now this post, Part 3, is going to showcase all the books that I read throughout high school. There could possibly be a Part 4 someday with books that I read in college (my first attempt at college anyways) but I’ll have to see, I might also lump a few of them into the end of this post because there really weren’t many that I read. Homework kinda got to me and I avoided reading so much!

So high school was when I discovered BookTube and Goodreads. I joined Goodreads in November of 2011 when I was a freshman.

Books by Sarah Dessen

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Her books are some of my favorite YA contemporary books and whenever I need something happy to read I pick up one of hers. I haven’t read all of her books yet but I’m working on it. She and Maureen Johnson are two of my absolute favorite authors and I will probably buy every single one of their publications from here on out.

The Top 8 series, which then turned into my love for Morgan Matson starting with Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour

I don’t even remember why I got the Top 8 series, I’m sure I had a gift card to Barnes and Noble, looked inside, liked the formatting and then bought all of them. But the Top 8 series were written under Matson’s pen name, Katie Finn. I’m not even sure when I found out that Finn was Matson but I remember being absolutely shocked because I had had books under both of her names for years before ever realizing.

Dystopian Books: Hunger Games, Delirium, Shatter Me, Divergent)

I would honestly be shocked by anyone who was into reading from around 2012-2014

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

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Her books introduced me to graphic novels! And boy did I reread Smile so many times, like I would be genuinely interested to see just how many times I checked it out from the library back then before I owned my own copy of it!

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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Oh good ole TFIOS. I don’t think I could make a post about books I read in high school without mentioning this gem. This was also the first ever signed book that I owned and I literally shrieked and danced around my kitchen when I saw that that’s what my grandma had managed to purchase.

The Possession of Cassie Quinn by Kathryn Knutson

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My sister bought this book at a local bookstore in the town that my grandparents live near. After she read it, I picked it up and I loved it. I’ve read both this book and her second book and I’m so glad that I liked them because I love having the opportunity to support a Minnesotan author.

It took me a really long time growing up to get into horror things. I mean, I used to be terrified by the show Ghost Hunters and either had to leave the room or put on headphones to block out the noise. I was scarred pretty early on in life by the movie Arachnaphobia and while I’m still terrified by spiders, other horror stuff doesn’t really scare me anymore. I love the spooky stuff.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

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This was one of the only classics that I was forced to read in high school that I genuinely enjoyed. The story sticks with me even to today and there are just so many quotes from this that make me feel all the feels.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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And this one is not on here for a good reason. I HATE this book, like it is one classic that I genuinely despise. I usually dislike classics for one reason or another (most of the time being that I have the hardest time reading them) but I actually have a deep seated hatred of Great Expectations. I’m now kind of fuming right now just thinking of it and almost want to write an entire blog post dedicated to my hatred of this book.

Quiet by Susan Cain

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I read this book so that I could write a paper about it in my tenth grade English class. I have absolutely no recollection what that paper was about but

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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One of the first books I’ve ever read where I saw myself. It hurt. It’s still absolutely everything to me.

Anna and the French Kiss/The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight/My Life Next Door

I also started to get really into YA contemporaries when I was in high school. I bought Anna and the French Kiss at a Borders Books store on the way back from New York one summer (does anyone else fondly think of Borders? I might like it too much because I don’t have any access to small book stores and I’ve never been a big fan of Barnes and Noble). I even saved the sticker from AatFS because I wanted to preserve the last Borders purchase I ever made.

Anyways, I very quickly fell in love with the contemporaries that I read. The idea of having an open ended happy ending just made my heart happy. I devoured happy endings as much as I could, breaking my own single little heart time and time again. I pretended that they taught me a lot about what I wanted in relationships and in guys.

So overall, my reading in high school was full of contemporaries, classics (forced reading), and dystopian. I definitely started to hone in on my favorites and began to read a bit more critically than I had in the past.

Now that I’ve written about a lot of the books that have shaped my reading and myself over the entire course of my life, I’ve started to think about a new series of posts. I would really like to start rereading some of the books featured on these posts and discuss them now. Why I loved them when I first read them, why I still love them today (or not love them depending), and if they still hold up today. I’ll preface it all by saying that I almost always fail with my post series though so we shall see how far this idea takes me.

What were some of your favorite books in your teenage years?

 

June Reading Wrap-Up

Well I feel like if I continue to read as many books as this month or more I might have to start splitting up my wrap up posts into multiple parts! This was a really productive reading month for me. Although I’m sure if I end up getting back into school this fall that my “for fun” reading will diminish greatly as it always does when I’m in school.

Anyways, after each book I have attached links to the places that you can go to purchase these books if you are interested. The Amazon link is an affiliate link. The links attached to each of the titles will send you directly to that books Goodreads page for more information! And without further ado, here are all the books that I read in June!

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

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4/5 Stars. Overall, I really enjoyed this story. It was an incredibly (sometimes overwhelmingly) detailed tale following a myriad of characters through the events of a Singaporean summer. Though there were some aspects of the story that I didn’t enjoy, I could see why it was written the way it was. Such a lavish and interesting book. I highly recommend.

Amazon Affiliate Link // Barns and Noble // Book Depository

If Only by Melanie Murphy

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2/5 stars. This was a sweet slow-burn romance about second chances, “if only’s”, and learning about oneself. It was an easy read but I felt like the plot dragged on as well as being pretty predictable. I had some problems with the story and characters that kept me from fully enjoying it but it was by no means a bad read. I think I’m just really picky with my romances! It was also a lot more emotional than I had expected it to be but I appreciated the rawness of some of the emotions throughout.

I would recommend this to people who like more emotional contemporaries, sweet, slow romances, and a little bit of magic. Also this was the first ARC review that I’ve done so I was really excited about that! Still kind of surprises me that I can get ARCs!

Amazon Affiliate Link // Barnes and Noble // Book Depository

The Girls by Emma Cline

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3/5 stars. This book had been sitting in my Kindle library for over two years and I finally checked out a physical copy of the book from my public library to actually read it. The plot dragged on at some points but it was really well written and incredibly atmospheric. It just felt like it was missing something!

Amazon Affiliate Link // Barnes and Noble // Book Depository

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

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5/5 stars!!! Definitely going to be in my top books of the year I feel! Here’s the link to my blog post about this book. I highly recommend this book and I am so excited to read what Casey McQuiston comes out with next!

Amazon Affiliate Link // Barnes and Noble // Book Depository

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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5/5 stars. I’m working on a post right now about all of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books and I started with this one. Absolutely loved it and it had the exact ending that I was hoping for! I found the characters in this story to be really mature and I was really impressed with how logical the ending came about. Reid writes lovely stories that just fly by!

Amazon Affiliate Link // Barnes and Noble // Book Depository

Fled by Meg Keneally

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4/5 stars. This is a debut novel by Meg Keneally. I got an ARC of this book from NetGalley and will link my Goodreads review here. I think that anyone who likes really engrossing historical fiction would enjoy this. Some bits drag on but the book also takes place over quite a few years so it’s kind of understandable that there will be slower parts. Such an interesting story though and to think it’s based off of a real woman is just amazing. I’ll be interested to see what else Keneally comes out with in the future!

Amazon Affiliate Link // Barnes and Noble // Book Depository

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

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5/5 stars. I thought that this graphic novel was cute and funny and it reminded me so much of my own time at camp that it made me super nostalgic!! The art style was lovely and I really enjoyed the monochromatic color palette that Brosgol chose. When I was reading other people’s reviews I was kind of surprised by how harshly it was rated but it didn’t make me want to change my own review. I could see where everyone was coming from but I thought it was a 5 star book for myself nonetheless.

Amazon Affiliate Link // Barnes and Noble // Book Depository

See How She Dies by Lisa Jackson

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1/5 stars. This book was published in 2004 and let me just tell you that it did not age well at all. Trigger warning for abuse, rape, incest (I don’t even care about how the plot ended up but I’m calling whatever this BS romance was incest.) I feel like this book had so much potential and then it just fell short in every single aspect. There were so many plot holes and stupid reasons as to why the plot couldn’t be different (I spent half the book yelling at them to do a DNA test but apparently it wasn’t possible because the parents were cremated, um the girl has four living siblings? Do they not possess the ability to give a sample of their DNA?) Really just not a great book.

Also I’m not linking places to buy this book. Don’t read it, honestly. And if for whatever reason you feel a need to read it, just get it from a library or find it second hand. But truly, guys, it is not worth reading! I’m not even sure anymore if I want to give Lisa Jackson a second chance. There’s a whole shelf of her books at my library but every time I go there I see this book on there and just get sick to my stomach.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

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4/5 stars. This was the first Christina Lauren book that I have read and I really enjoyed it! I’ve come to realize that I am really not a fan of enemies to lovers stories because I’ve yet to see one executed in a way that the “enemy” aspect isn’t literally only from miscommunication. So if any of you know of a book where they’re actually enemies first send that recommendation my way!!

I wrote a longer review of this which you can read here.

Amazon Affiliate Link // Barnes and Noble // Book Depository

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

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5/5 stars. If I could go back in time and give this book to my high school self I would. I will be recommending this book to every high schooler and early university student from here on out. Like this is exactly the type of book I would’ve wanted to read when I was questioning my entire life back when I was 16-18. And because I’m in a similar headspace again now I think this book just hit really close to home.

You can read more of my in depth thoughts here.

Amazon Affiliate Link // Barnes and Noble // Book Depository

Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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3/5 stars. Again, working my way through Reid’s books for an upcoming post that I’d like to publish by the end of July! Of the three books by her that I read in June, this was my least favorite. I found the main character to be really grating and I wish that I had liked the romance in this a little bit more. I just felt like the relationship leaned more towards toxic than it should have. Felt very lusty over lovey in my opinion and I wasn’t overly impressed.

If you like Reid’s other books I would recommend this but if you haven’t picked up her books before I wouldn’t suggest this to be the first one that you read. It was an interesting concept with killing off the love interest in the first chapter and seeing how the characters go from there but the flashbacks to before his death kept me from really seeing how she loved this guy so much. I’m sorry but I really feel like nothing good comes from rushed relationships.

Despite all of that it was breezy to read through as I’ve found with each of Reid’s books and I did enjoy most of it which is why I ultimately gave it 3 stars.

Amazon Affiliate Link // Barnes and Noble // Book Depository

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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5/5 stars. Earlier in the month I had read If Only by Melanie Murphy which is another sort of “what if” plot. I would have to say that Maybe in Another Life executes the plot better. At least in my opinion anyways. I found the parallel plot lines in this novel to be really interesting. Some people didn’t enjoy it when things were the same down to very specific things but honestly I kind of enjoyed that! I thought it was so interesting to see how similar the plot lines could end up and how much overlapped and intertwined despite them playing out so differently.

I also loved that the message in the end was that no matter how your life ends up due to the choices you make, you can find happiness. It just gave me a lot of really warm fuzzy feelings to read the last couple of chapters.

Amazon Affiliate Link // Barnes and Noble // Book Depository

While the Duke was Sleeping by Sophie Jordan

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2/5 stars. Okay I still can’t stop laughing at the fact that I read this book… Oh boy I am so not a fan of these type of romance novels! But I decided to give it a try anyways because people won’t stop talking about these types of books. Reading this though definitely showed me that these are not my style and I don’t need to try and make myself read others even though people rave about books like this.

I think that people who are fans of smutty romance would probably enjoy this a lot more than I would. It’s a pretty average book and was really quick to read so I’m sure there will be people out there that would love this!

Amazon Affiliate Link // Barnes and Noble // Book Depository

So at this point I have about 6 books that I’m currently reading so if I can make myself come out of this reading slump that I’m falling into I will hopefully be able to finish reading those books. There is a very long list of books that I want/need to review as well as quite a few other posts that I’d like to get out this month. I think July is going to be quite busy for me so we’ll see how this goes!

What books did you read this month? Anything that you think I should check out? Did you read any duds this month? What are you looking forward to reading in July?