My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life by Rachel Cohn

“I’m here to take you to live with your father. In Tokyo, Japan! Happy birthday!”

In the Land of the Rising Sun, where high culture meets high kitsch, and fashion and technology are at the forefront of the First World’s future, the foreign-born teen elite attend ICS-the International Collegiate School of Tokyo. Their accents are fluid. Their homes are ridiculously posh. Their sports games often involve a (private) plane trip to another country. They miss school because of jet lag and visa issues. When they get in trouble, they seek diplomatic immunity.

Enter foster-kid-out-of-water Elle Zoellner, who, on her sixteenth birthday discovers that her long-lost father, Kenji Takahari, is actually a Japanese hotel mogul and wants her to come live with him. Um, yes, please! Elle jets off first class from Washington D.C. to Tokyo, which seems like a dream come true. Until she meets her enigmatic father, her way-too-fab aunt, and her hyper-critical grandmother, who seems to wish Elle didn’t exist. In an effort to please her new family, Elle falls in with the Ex-Brats, a troupe of uber-cool international kids who spend money like it’s air. But when she starts to crush on a boy named Ryuu, who’s frozen out by the Brats and despised by her new family, her already tenuous living situation just might implode.

My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life is about learning what it is to be a family, and finding the inner strength to be yourself, even in the most extreme circumstances.

Read below for my spoiler free review. I received this book to review from Net Galley, but all opinions remain my own.

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Reading Update

Hello everyone! I’ve been settled at school for about a month now so I figured that it was time to post a little update.

Living in Boston definitely has its perks for finding books. I recently got a library card at the Boston Public Library, which is not only aesthetically beautiful but has hundreds and hundreds more books than my library back in Vegas. I’ve recently checked out Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee, The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson, and Twisted Palace by Erin Watt.

PictureI also went to the Boston Teen Author Festival (BTAF) where I may have *accidentally* spent like $80 on books. Oops. I got to see some great authors like Heidi Hielig, Mary Pearson, Sasha Alsberg, S. Jae-Jones, Holly Black (!!!) and a lot of other cool people that I don’t have room to name. Unfortunately I had to leave before the signing, but I did get to see some pretty interesting panels.

So, what have I finished this month? Well I am kind of ashamed to say that I hardcore binged the Paper Princess series by Erin Watt. For those of you who don’t know, Erin Watt is the pen name of two erotica authors. Let’s just say this series is as cheesy as Riverdale and as explicit as Game of Thrones, which makes for some super-addicting soap-opera-esque trashy fiction. I highly recommend for anyone who’s looking for something with high entertainment value at the cost of style, and realism, and subtlety, and brain cells…

29283884I’ve also read Year One by Nora Roberts (4 stars, but huge cliffhanger) and Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (3.5 stars, also huge cliffhanger). I might be reviewing these in the future. I listened to Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (4 stars), and am currently listening to Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker through Kobo Books. Right now I’m reading The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, but so far it isn’t living up to the hype. Reagan at Peruse Project highly recommended it, so I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt even though I’m almost done.

That’s it for now! In October I plan to attend another book festival. I’m also going to NYC with my roomie, and I’m incredibly excited to visit the Strand while I’m there.

ALSO. OCTOBER IS THE HEART OF BOOK RELEASE SEASON. WE’RE GETTING A MUSE OF NIGHTMARES AND KINGDOM OF ASH THIS MONTH. PREPARE YOURSELVES!!!

Whisper Me This by Kerry Anne King

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  • My rating: 2/5 stars
  • Genre: mystery, contemporary
  • 362 pages
  • TW: domestic abuse/violence, alcoholism
  • Goodreads
  • Amazon

Single mother Maisey Addington has always fallen short of her own mother’s expectations—never married, a bit adrift, wasting her high IQ on dead-end jobs. The only thing Maisey’s sure she’s gotten right is her relationship with her twelve-year-old daughter, Elle…until a phone call blows apart the precarious balance of their lives. Maisey’s mother is in a coma, and her aging father faces charges of abuse and neglect.

Back at her childhood home, Maisey must make a heartrending life-or-death decision. Her confused father has destroyed family records, including her mother’s final wishes. Searching for answers, Maisey uncovers one unspeakable secret after another when she stumbles upon a shattering truth: a twin sister named Marley.

Maisey’s obsession with solving the mystery of her sister forces her to examine her darkest memories and triggers a custody battle with Elle’s father. Will Maisey’s love for her daughter be strong enough to break a cycle of abuse and create a new beginning for them all?

Read below for my spoiler free review.

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Reading shouldn’t be an obligation… (a discussion)

We all have that book (or…several books) that we’ve been wanting to read forever. Perhaps they’ve been sitting on our shelves for ages, or we’ve been meaning to borrow it from the library for a while now.

While TBRs are, of course, inevitable, lately I’ve been wondering if they’re contributing to this sort of obligation I’ve been developing towards reading. Reading has always been my greatest love, and my greatest escape, but recently it’s started to feel like a bit of a chore. I used to devour books, sometimes having to find a new one each day. Now, I find myself counting pages and growing impatient. There are many things that might be adding to this frustration: my reading goal, my desire to produce reviews at a consistent pace, my growing list of books I “need” to read…a lot of it stems from the pressure I put on myself to cycle through books. I’m beginning to wonder if this is affecting my reading, because now it seems like I read for quantity instead of enjoying a book to the fullest. Some of this might come from the label I’ve given myself: “reader”. As a reader, I must enjoy books, I must read a certain amount, then I must review them–or that part of my identity is false, it’s fabricated. I know this is not the case, but sometimes I can’t help feeling that way, especially since I’ve started blogging. I wanted this to be a cathartic experience, but sometimes it can be stressful because I feel that, to be a successful reader and book blogger, I can’t stop reading or posting–ever. 

Now I’ve realized: I need to give myself a little room to breathe. I’m not going to guilt myself over being 7 books behind on my Goodreads reading challenge. I’m not going to feel bad when it takes a couple weeks to read a book that would normally take me a couple days. It’s not healthy, and it’s not promoting this love that I’ve held for books my whole life. So, the books that have been sitting on my shelf can hold tight for a little bit, because I’ll get to them when I can. I want to crave reading like I used to, I want it to be a true release–not something I feel guilty about when I don’t feel like doing it.

41qhpu2riblWriting this down makes me realize that I have every right to focus on other aspects of my life and spend my free time doing other things. I think I’m going to relax my pace on my blog, and probably books as well. I won’t force myself to do it; I’m going to read when I feel the need and write when I feel the need. For anyone who’s read this far…I sincerely appreciate you tolerating my ramblings.
I’m going to start this new direction in my reading with something I recently picked up: Florence Welch’s Useless Magic. It’s a poetry book, which is a genre I’ve never really explored. It has a beautiful aesthetic with thick, creamy pages and gorgeous photographs. I’m going to take my time savoring it, and see if I can get a little of the reading bug to manifest itself meanwhile.

Happy reading,

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Some of my art

Hi everyone! I’d thought I’d share something a little different today. While this is obviously a book blog, and reading is my favorite hobby, I also dabble in drawing and painting. Recently I’ve started creating digital pieces through Photoshop, and I wanted to start documenting my journey with that as well. I don’t draw as much as I’d like to, but I want to share something once a week, or maybe more frequently. Here are a couple paintings that I’ve recently finished:


I have a more diverse portfolio of my art (including watercolor, ink, colored pencils, etc) on my Instagram @lwrendraws.

My current goals for my art are to first develop my technique for digital illustrations. I’ve been experimenting with different methodology to see what works best for me, and I think I’m starting to get a hang of all the different tools available. More importantly, though, I’m trying to develop a recognizable style. While working on technique is great, it usually produces some unoriginal images because I’m copying exactly from reference. Although using references is a healthy practice, even for professional artists, I’d like to start adding my own twists and style to the image.

(For those of you wondering, I work in the newest version of Photoshop. I use a Wacom Intuos tablet, which you can find here)

Thank you all for taking a look at my art 🙂

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Rule by Ellen Goodlett

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The king is dying, his heir has just been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. But the kingdom of Kolonya and the outer Reaches has one last option before it descends into leaderless chaos.

Or rather, three unexpected options.

Zofi has spent her entire life trekking through the outer Reaches with her band of Travelers. She would do anything to protect the band, her family. But no one can ever find out how far she’s already gone.

Akeylah was raised in the Eastern Reach, surrounded by whispers of rebellion and abused by her father. Desperate to escape, she makes a decision that threatens the whole kingdom.

Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a lady’s maid and scheming her way out of the servants’ chambers. But one such plot could get her hung for treason if anyone ever discovers what she’s done.

When the king summons the girls, they arrive expecting arrest or even execution. Instead they learn the truth: they are his illegitimate daughters, and one must become his new heir. But someone in Kolonya knows their secrets, and that someone will stop at nothing to keep the sisters from their destiny… to rule.

Magic, mystery, and blackmail abound in this sensational and striking fantasy debut.

Read below for my spoiler-free review. (Thanks to Netgalley for sending me this ARC. This is an honest review and all opinions are my own) Continue reading

Discussion: Physical or E-Reader?

Hello everyone! I thought I’d break up the monotony of reviews I’ve been posting in favor of one of the most frequently debated topics of bookworms: do you prefer physical books, or eBooks? Like most people, I’d say there are pros and cons to both.

I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember, and until recently I was a staunch advocate of physical books. A project I was forced to do in my Language and Writing class forced me to take a look at both sides, and now I find myself (reluctantly) using my Kindle more often than usual. Here are my thoughts on the two formats.

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Just some pretty physical books I’d like to share 🙂

Physical books: pros and cons. So, I think this one has a lot of pros. It’s all about sensation–the weight of a book in your hands, the smell of the freshly printed ink and creamy paper. While researching, I found that this haptic connection we have with physical books actually helps us form deeper connections because we remember plot and sequences better when we can feel the pages shift from one side of the book to the other, which absolutely fascinates me. The format of books in a culture is directly tied to how we perceive the events that take place in it. How cool is that? Plus, who doesn’t love collecting, or browsing at a bookstore? It’s one of my favorite feelings to place a new book on my shelf…though this leads to some of the cons of physical books. The main issue I have is sustainability. It’s pretty clear that books use a lot of paper, and mass consumerism means that many more books are printed than are actually needed. And then what? They sit on our shelves, collecting dust, until we decide that we don’t need them anymore. Then they get donated and passed on to libraries, where they’re discarded when they aren’t presentable anymore. Yes, I’m sure some end up in recycling–that’s great. But how many more end up taking space in a landfill? Of course, there’s also the convenience factor. While I don’t think this is a big deal (I have spacious purses), this is one of the main reasons people have for liking eBooks better. What do you guys thing of this?

eBooks: pros and cons. It is with great reluctance that I admit that eBooks are very convenient. Not only are they cheaper, but they’re easily accessible from almost anywhere–no shipping or printing necessary. I can buy a new release on the midnight it comes out, right from the comfort of my home. I can borrow and return digital library books with the touch of a button. I can read on the bus, on the subway, while standing in line. I see the benefits for publishers as well, especially with ARCs–it’s a practically free way to publicize new novels. Of course, there’s also the lack of environmental footprint. While there is energy used to create and read eBooks, it’s almost nonexistent compared to physical books. So, there must be a trade-off for this seemingly magical way to read. That brings me to this question: what are we sacrificing for convenience? Are there connections we can make with a physical book that are impossible to forge with an eBook? What do you guys think about this? For me, the answer is absolutely. There’s something about real books that an eBook can never capture, and I think it comes down to a sense of ownership. In a way, when we buy or borrow a book, we become the masters of that story. We are holding it in our hands–the way we read and perceive it belongs solely to us. Each book feels different, just as all of the stories they contain are different.

I think there needs to be a balance between the old souls inside of us and our more practical, modern selves. For me, I’d say that balance needs to start with buying books that I know I’ll like. I’ve found that, for the most part, I agree with the general population of Goodreads. If a book has more than four stars, I’ll probably enjoy it enough to buy a physical copy. If it has bad reviews but I still think I’ll like it, I borrow it from the library. Anything that doesn’t fall under those categories will be found on the Kindle store, Kobo, or Netgalley. (You guys just witnessed me make a promise to myself. Hopefully this will help my wallet and cut down on my TBR of books that I own).

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you agree with me? Which format do you prefer, and why? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Quick side note: Thank you all for 150 followers! I know this may not seem like a lot to some bloggers out there, but I think this is a pretty hefty milestone. Huge gratitude to those who have followed since the beginning as well as those who have recently decided to join me on my journey. I was thinking about maybe hosting a giveaway when I reach 200 or 300 followers, so stay tuned :). I’m so glad that I’ve become a more active blogger, because I love this bookish corner of the internet. Everyone is super friendly, responsive, and informative! I’ve learned so much from everyone’s thoughts, opinions, and comments, and I can’t wait to see what the future brings.

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The Last Wish of Sasha Cade by Cheyanne Young

  • 34802290My rating: 4.5/5 stars
  • Genre: Young adult contemporary
  • Publisher: KCP Loft
  • 320 pages
  • Goodreads
  • Amazon

The day Raquel has been dreading for months has finally arrived. Sasha, her best friend in the whole world — the best friend in the whole world — has died of cancer. Raquel can’t imagine life without her. She’s overwhelmed and brokenhearted.

And then a letter from Sasha arrives. Has she somehow found a way to communicate from the afterlife?

In fact, Sasha has planned an elaborate scavenger hunt for Raquel, and when she follows the instructions to return to Sasha’s grave, a mysterious stranger with striking eyes is waiting for her. There’s a secret attached to this boy that only Sasha—and now Raquel—knows.

This boy, Elijah, might be just what Raquel needs to move on from her terrible loss. But can Raquel remain true to herself while also honoring her friend’s final wish?

Read below for my spoiler-free review. (I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)

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July Wrap-Up

Hello everyone! I hope you had a wonderful July full of lots of good books. This month was actually pretty successful for me, and I’m happy that I finally picked up the pace. I’m still seven books behind on my reading goal, according to Goodreads, buuuut that’s okay. We don’t worry about that. Hopefully I’ll have more good months like this to catch up.

This month I read a total of eight books, and I think I wrote reviews for most of them:

  • Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
    • My rating: 3/5 stars
  • Gilded by Christina Farley
    • My rating: 3/5 stars
  • Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon hale
    • My rating: 5/5 stars
  • Circe by Madeline Miller
    • My rating: 5/5 stars
  • Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
    • My rating: 4/5 stars
  • Furyborn by Claire Legrand
    • My rating: 2/5 stars
  • The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle
    • My rating: 3/5 stars
  • The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith
    • My rating: 4/5 stars

I was able to read these mostly due to the fact that it’s summer, so no school, but also because I did quite a bit of traveling this month. First was Boston, the week of July 4th. While there, I did my orientation for Northeastern University and also did a bunch of cool tours to see the history of the city, which was really fun. We also went to Disneyland! It’s one of our favorite places to go as a family, and this year it was exciting because we saw the redesigned Pixar Pier. It was super cool and I’d totally recommend going if you have yet to see it.

Other posts:

PLUS: A huge thanks to all the new followers who’ve joined me this month 🙂 I can’t wait to get to know all of you!

Books I tentatively plan to read in August:

Okay, well that’s all for now everyone! How was your July in terms of books? What books do you plan to read next month?

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