Review: Ghosted in L.A., Vol. 1

Title: Ghosted in L.A., Vol. 1
Author: Sina Grace, Siobhan Keenan, Cathy Le
Genre: Graphic Novel, Contemporary, LGBT, Paranormal
Publisher: BOOM! Box
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 14, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Daphne Walters moves to Los Angeles and finds that the only ones who can help her find love and live life to the fullest are the ghosts of her new home!

In Los Angeles, finding an apartment is killer—unless you live with the dead. Daphne Walters moves to Los Angeles for her boyfriend Ronnie, ready to live her happily ever after. But when happily ever after turns into happily for a month, she’s stuck in a strange city with no friends, family, or prospects for fun. Desperate to escape the lingering ghost of Ronnie’s presence everywhere, Daphne sets out to explore the city—and ends up encountering ghosts of a more literal kind! Rycroft Manor is abandoned, beautiful, and haunted. Will the dead be able to help Daphne find the life she’s been missing in the big city? From GLAAD Award-nominated Sina Grace (Iceman) and illustrator Siobhan Keenan (Jem and the Holograms) comes a story about learning how to make friends, find love, and live life to the fullest with a little help from some friends whose lives didn’t end at death. Collects Ghosted In L.A #1-4.

Review:

Daphne chooses to go to the same university as her boyfriend, but when she arrives on campus, he tells her he wants to break up. She leaves her dorm and discovers a beautiful mansion that appears to be empty. She quickly learns that it is filled with ghosts from a variety of backgrounds. Daphne spends time with the ghosts while also learning more about her ex-boyfriend.

I loved the format of this graphic novel. The chapters had small scenes from the ghosts’s previous lives. The ghosts come from different decades, like the 40s and 80s. These scenes explained a bit about what happened to them and how their lives were affected by the time periods. This was a great way to give some background on the ghost characters.

There were some huge reveals and cliffhangers in the final pages. I’m really excited to see where this story goes next.

Thank you BOOM! Box for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Avant-Guards, Vol. 1 by Carly Usdin, Noah Hayes

Eat, and Love Yourself by Sweeney Boo, Lylian Klepakowsky

Have you read Ghosted in L.A., Vol. 1? What did you think of it?

Review: Recipe for Persuasion (The Rajes #2)

Title: Recipe for Persuasion (The Rajes #2)
Author: Sonali Dev
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 26, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the author of Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors comes another, clever, deeply layered, and heartwarming romantic comedy that follows in the Jane Austen tradition—this time, with a twist on Persuasion.

Chef Ashna Raje desperately needs a new strategy. How else can she save her beloved restaurant and prove to her estranged, overachieving mother that she isn’t a complete screw up? When she’s asked to join the cast of Cooking with the Stars, the latest hit reality show teaming chefs with celebrities, it seems like just the leap of faith she needs to put her restaurant back on the map. She’s a chef, what’s the worst that could happen? 

Rico Silva, that’s what.  

Being paired with a celebrity who was her first love, the man who ghosted her at the worst possible time in her life, only proves what Ashna has always believed: leaps of faith are a recipe for disaster. 

FIFA winning soccer star Rico Silva isn’t too happy to be paired up with Ashna either. Losing Ashna years ago almost destroyed him. The only silver lining to this bizarre situation is that he can finally prove to Ashna that he’s definitely over her. 

But when their catastrophic first meeting goes viral, social media becomes obsessed with their chemistry. The competition on the show is fierce…and so is the simmering desire between Ashna and Rico.  Every minute they spend together rekindles feelings that pull them toward their disastrous past. Will letting go again be another recipe for heartbreak—or a recipe for persuasion…? 

In Recipe for Persuasion, Sonali Dev once again takes readers on an unforgettable adventure in this fresh, fun, and enchanting romantic comedy. 

Review:

Ashna Raje is the chef and owner of Curried Dreams, her father’s restaurant. The restaurant is failing, so when her best friend offers her a chance to be on the new reality show Cooking with the Stars, she decides she must do it to get the money for the restaurant. Rico Silva is soccer player who went into an early retirement following a knee injury. When he finds out that Ashna is going to be a chef on Cooking with the Stars, he knows he must be the celebrity to cook with her. He wants to get the closure from their relationship that ended suddenly 12 years ago when they were teenagers. The tense competition brings back their feelings, opening up many old wounds.

I read Persuasion by Jane Austen years ago. I loved the book. This story is a great retelling, like the first book in the series, Pride and Prejudice and Other Flavors. It’s an updated version of the classic Austen story, with more contemporary themes.

This story was much darker and more serious than Pride and Prejudice and Other Flavors. There are some trigger warnings that should be included, such as suicide, substance abuse, and rape. These things were addressed, though they didn’t directly happen in the story. It was realistic to show these things happening, even though they were upsetting to read. The characters hadn’t addressed these things in the moment that they happened, due to the stigma around mental health problems. Those were tense moments in the story, and made it a much more serious book.

This is a great Persuasion adaptation.

Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Trouble with Hating You by Sajni Patel

The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli

Other Books in the Series:

Have you read Recipe for Persuasion? What did you think of it?

Review: Parachutes

Title: Parachutes
Author: Kelly Yang
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 26, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Speak enters the world of Gossip Girl in this modern immigrant story from New York Times bestselling author Kelly Yang about two girls navigating wealth, power, friendship, and trauma.

They’re called parachutes: teenagers dropped off to live in private homes and study in the US while their wealthy parents remain in Asia. Claire Wang never thought she’d be one of them, until her parents pluck her from her privileged life in Shanghai and enroll her at a high school in California. Suddenly she finds herself living in a stranger’s house, with no one to tell her what to do for the first time in her life. She soon embraces her newfound freedom, especially when the hottest and most eligible parachute, Jay, asks her out.

Dani De La Cruz, Claire’s new host sister, couldn’t be less thrilled that her mom rented out a room to Claire. An academic and debate-team star, Dani is determined to earn her way into Yale, even if it means competing with privileged kids who are buying their way to the top. When her debate coach starts working with her privately, Dani’s game plan veers unexpectedly off course.

Desperately trying to avoid each other under the same roof, Dani and Claire find themselves on a collision course, intertwining in deeper and more complicated ways, as they grapple with life-altering experiences. Award-winning author Kelly Yang weaves together an unforgettable modern immigrant story about love, trauma, family, corruption, and the power of speaking out.

Review:

Claire’s parents decide to send her to an elite American prep school for her final years of high school to give her a better opportunity for university. She becomes a “parachute,” which is what they call Chinese students who are sent to the United States to study. Most of the students stay with a host family, unless they can afford to live in their own home. Claire moves in with Dani and her mom. Dani attends American Prep on an academic scholarship, and she works with her mom’s cleaning service after school. Dani is a star on the debate team, so she spends a lot of time getting private lessons with her debate coach, until he gets too close to her. Claire appears to have a great life at that school, since the most popular “parachute” boy likes her, but things aren’t always what they seem. Though Dani and Claire don’t really get along, they both have similar problems they have to deal with.

There was a trigger warning at the beginning of the book that warns it will contain scenes of sexual harassment and rape. I was glad to see this warning at the book. I still chose to read it, but I liked that the warning was right there in the book. Sometimes I think that trigger warnings can be spoilers, because they give away things that will happen in the book. However, warnings are important to protect the readers from upsetting triggers. I was actually surprised at how the assault happened. It wasn’t the situation I expected.

The way the international students, like Claire, were treated was appalling. They were abused by teachers and their home hosts. Just because they were at a disadvantage because they weren’t in their home country, the teachers and hosts thought they could do anything and say anything to them. The school also separated international students from American students. That defeats the purpose of going to an international school, since the students end up only mingling with people from their own countries. That was only one of the problems that the school had.

The injustice in this book was upsetting and made me uncomfortable. There was racism and sexism. For some reason, the racism seemed easier for the authorities to punish than the sexism and harassment, which I found strange. I guess that was because the sexual harassment and sexism was often physical, so it is a larger issue, rather than words written down that are easy to erase.

I appreciated the author sharing her own personal connection to the story at the end of the book. This was an upsetting and disturbing story, yet it is an unfortunate reality that is important to share.

Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

Rules for Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell and Katie Cotugno

Have you read Parachutes? What did you think of it?

Review: Just a Boy and a Girl in a Canoe (I See London, I See France #2)

Title: Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe
Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 19, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Sam’s summer isn’t off to a great start. Her boyfriend, Eli, ditched her for a European backpacking trip, and now she’s a counselor at Camp Blue Springs: the summer camp her eleven-year-old self swore never to return to. Sam expects the next seven weeks to be a total disaster.

That is, until she meets Gavin, the camp’s sailing instructor, who turns her expectations upside down. Gavin may have gotten the job just for his abs. Or that smile. Or the way he fills Sam’s free time with thrilling encounters—swimming under a cascade of stars, whispering secrets over s’mores, embarking on one (very precarious) canoe ride after dark.

It’s absurd. After all, Sam loves Eli. But one totally absurd, completely off-the-wall summer may be just what Sam needs. And maybe, just maybe, it will teach her something about what she really wants.

Review:

Samantha and Eli are spending their summer apart, after their freshman year at NYU. He is going backpacking through Europe with his cousin and she is going to work as a counselor at a summer camp that she went to as a kid. They can’t communicate very much because she doesn’t have good cell reception at the camp. Right away, Sam notices a boy from the camp who was there when she went before. Gavin is now the hot sailing instructor. As the summer goes on, Sam starts to wonder if it would really be that bad if she should have a summer fling with Gavin, since Eli is probably having his own fun with girls in Europe.

This book is a sequel to I See London, I See France. It isn’t about the same characters, but some minor characters make an appearance. That book was about girls who backpacked across Europe. They met Eli and Gavin’s girlfriend, Kat. I wasn’t sure how much these books would be connected because it’s been a couple of years since I read I See London, I See France. They could each be read as stand-alone novels. However, since they are connected and happening simultaneously, they may contain spoilers for either book.

This book was actually pretty funny. Sam’s campers in her bunk were young kids, around 7 or 8 years old. They said some funny things when they had no filter. I think this is a great book for right now, since many summer camps will be cancelled. This story can fill that gap in the summer, so we can still read about summer camps. Though there were kids in this book, the audience should be in their late teens, not children. It’s an older young adult, or new adult, book.

I saw some negative reviews for this book for the theme of cheating in the book. What Sam does when she wants a fling with Gavin is wrong, and she acknowledges it. She had a boyfriend, so she shouldn’t have been interested in another boy. At the same time, she’s a teenager, and everyone makes mistakes. It would be unrealistic to say this would never happen. I don’t think this book is condoning that kind of behavior because it is a fiction story, not a how-to book.

I really enjoyed this summer camp story!

Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

I See London, I See France (I See London, I See France #1) by Sarah Mlynowski

Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have) by Sarah Mlynowski

Other Books in the Series:

Have you read Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: Breath Like Water

Title: Breath Like Water
Author: Anna Jarzab
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 19, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

“Expansive, romantic, and powerful.” —Gayle Forman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of If I Stay and I Have Lost My Way 

Susannah Ramos has always loved the water. A swimmer whose early talent made her a world champion, Susannah was poised for greatness in a sport that demands so much of its young. But an inexplicable slowdown has put her dream in jeopardy, and Susannah is fighting to keep her career afloat when two important people enter her life: a new coach with a revolutionary training strategy, and a charming fellow swimmer named Harry Matthews.

As Susannah begins her long and painful climb back to the top, her friendship with Harry blossoms into passionate and supportive love. But Harry is facing challenges of his own, and even as their bond draws them closer together, other forces work to tear them apart. As she struggles to balance her needs with those of the people who matter most to her, Susannah will learn the cost—and the beauty—of trying to achieve something extraordinary.

Review:

Susannah’s dream is to go to the Olympics. She has a tough coach, but she knows he can turn her into an Olympic athlete. In the year before her Olympic trial, another coach is brought into her school with a completely different training method. Susannah meets a boy, Harry, who gives her a life outside of the pool. She also has something happen to her that is potentially life changing. Susannah and Harry both have struggles that they have to balance on her road to the Olympic trials.

I’ve never been an athlete, so stories about sports and athletes are completely new to me. There was so much tension leading up to all of Susannah’s swim competitions. I felt myself getting nervous for her, because I couldn’t imagine myself doing what she did. I found this world of competitive swimming quite scary, both mentally and physically.

The second half of the book was dark and emotional. I don’t want to give away the plot, but there are some possible trigger points about mental health and suicide. These are things that can happen to anyone, not just competitive athletes, so the story isn’t just about sports. It’s also about the pressures with growing up and discovering your place in the world.

This is a powerful and emotional story.

Thank you Inkyard Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Every Reason We Shouldn’t by Sara Fujimura

Four Days of You and Me by Miranda Kenneally

About the Author:

Anna Jarzab is a Midwesterner turned New Yorker. She lives and works in New York City and is the author of such books as Red Dirt, All Unquiet Things, The Opposite of Hallelujah, and the Many-Worlds series. Visit her online at annajarzab.com and on Twitter, @ajarzab.

Have you read Breath Like Water? What did you think of it?

Review: Say Yes Summer

Title: Say Yes Summer
Author: Lindsey Roth Culli
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: May 12, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Perfect for fans of Morgan Matson and Netflix/Hallmark Channel rom-coms, this is the story of a girl who decides to give in to the universe and just say yes to everything, bringing her friendship, new experiences, and, if she lets her guard down, true love.

The perfect book to kick off summer! For as long as Rachel Brooks can remember, she’s had capital-G Goals: straight As, academic scholarship, college of her dreams. And it’s all paid off–after years of following the rules and acing every exam, Rachel is graduating at the top of her class and ready to celebrate by . . . doing absolutely nothing. Because Rachel Brooks has spent most of high school saying no. No to dances, no to parties, and most especially, no to boys.

Now, for the first time in her life, there’s nothing stopping Rachel from having a little fun–nothing, that is, except herself. So when she stumbles on a beat up old self-help book–A SEASON OF YES!–a crazy idea pops into her head: What if she just said yes to . . . everything?

And so begins a summer of yes. Yes to new experiences and big mistakes, yes to rekindled friendships and unexpected romances, yes to seeing the world in a whole new way. This book is a fresh and fun take on the coming-of-age novel that explores the quintessential themes of growing up: taking risks, making mistakes, and, of course, love. And who knows? Lindsey Roth Culli’s hilarious and heartwarming debut may just inspire your own SAY YES SUMMER.

Review:

Rachel has always had a crush on the most popular boy at school, Clayton, but he hasn’t ever noticed her. After Rachel gives her valedictorian speech at graduation, Clayton starts talking to her. Rachel finds a book in her grandmother’s things that is about saying yes to every opportunity. She has spent her whole life saying no to other people, while focusing on her grades and family, but she’s ready to start having exciting experiences. Rachel starts hanging out with Clayton, but she’s not sure about his relationship status, so she also spends time with her childhood best friend Miles. Saying yes to everything leads Rachel into two complicated relationships.

Rachel’s story was kind of a modern fairytale. The boy she had always liked suddenly liked her too. Her childhood friend, who also would be a good match for her, likes her as well. Suddenly the girl who didn’t have many friends has two potential boyfriends. It was exciting in the moment, but someone was bound to get hurt in the love triangle.

This story showed how it’s easy to think that someone else’s life is perfect, from a distance. Rachel thought the popular kids in her school were perfect and didn’t have any problems. She would stalk their social media and see the perfectly curated lives they showed on there. She ended up discovering that they had a lot more problems than she thought, though they were good at putting on a brave face online.

This is a great summer romance!

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

Four Days of You and Me by Miranda Kenneally

Have you read Say Yes Summer? What did you think of it?

Review: Four Days of You and Me

Title: Four Days of You and Me
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 5, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A new swoon-worthy romance following a couple’s love story on the same date over four years. 

Every May 7, the students at Coffee County High School take a class trip. And every year, Lulu’s relationship with Alex Rouvelis gets a little more complicated. Freshman year, they went from sworn enemies to more than friends after a close encounter in an escape room. It’s been hard for Lulu to quit Alex ever since.

Through breakups, make ups, and dating other people, each year’s class trip brings the pair back together and forces them to confront their undeniable connection. From the science museum to an amusement park, from New York City to London, Lulu learns one thing is for sure: love is the biggest trip of all.

Review:

Every year, the students at Coffee County High get to go on a special school trip. The trips get larger each year, starting with a museum outing in their freshman year and ending with an international trip in their senior year. Each of these trips marks a pivotal moment in Lulu and Alex’s romance, such as their first kiss on their freshman trip. Each of the following trips pushes them together, leading them to make important decisions about their relationship.

This story shows just a few snapshots in their relationship. It covers about four days, with a few other brief scenes from throughout the year. It was amazing to see how their relationship is defined by their actions in these few days. Their relationship and feelings changed so much throughout the book that I wasn’t sure if they would end up together at the end.

This book brought back so many high school memories for me. We went on a bunch of school trips, though none as lavish as the later ones in this book. Lulu and Alex, as well as their friends, deal with the complicated feelings that come along with first loves and discovering yourself. It made me laugh and it made me cry. This book has all the feels!

This was a great high school romance!

Thank you Sourcebooks Fire for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Have you read Four Days of You and Me? What did you think of it?