Showing posts with label college. Show all posts
Showing posts with label college. Show all posts

Book Review: In His Kiss (Unrequited) by Ava Alise

In His Kiss is the first book in the Unrequited series by Ava Alise. "This was a mistake" were the words that sunk my entire world. Jordan should have been my first, he was already my everything. My best friend, my secret crush. We were closer than siblings. Our family's weaved together an intricate pattern of lines never meant to be crossed, until that night. We had a bit too much to drink and the heated way he stared at me made me feel that we could finally be something more. Things got a little out of hand and once the kissing started I didn't want it to stop. The time felt right and I gathered courage and told him how I felt. If only I knew how awkward things would be the next morning.

In His Kiss 
is a book that had me almost constantly holding my breath waiting for something horrible to happen- and each time the the issue was less horrible than I expected. It is emotionally charged and draining, but in the best way. Xia and Jordan have been best friends forever, and each crushing on the other almost as long. When things heat up the insecurities and family struggles they each have are the first barriers to their happiness, but not the last. I do love that they talk to each other, even if they delay it too often. There is just so much going on for all the characters, and one of the twists I considered right away- but some of the moments were really unexpected. Their friends and family are also well developed, and have so much going on in their own stories. I will admit that there were moments that I found Xia and her reactions to be immature, but this is also about college age characters and their is self-awareness about maturity levels that really balanced out those moments of annoyance.  I am invested in this circle of individuals, and am very much looking forward to the next book, which the afterward promised me. 

In His Kiss is an intense read with a happy ending. I enjoyed the read and look forward to more.

Early Book Review: Just a Boyfriend (End of the Line) by Sariah Wilson

Just a Boyfriend is the second book in the End of the Line series of new adult romances by Sariah Wilson. It is currently scheduled for release on January 7 2020. Each book can stand on its own, but there is character crossover than make the read more satisfying for returning readers.

Ian “Bash” Sebastian and Ember Carlson were high school sweethearts, until their single parents got married. With one thorny twist of fate, a secret young crush went from on fire to off-limits. What could a new stepbrother do but bail? Now, after almost four years, Bash has returned to Seattle, and he’s back in Ember’s orbit at End of the Line. EOL is the go-to college for second-chance scholarships. But what about love? Sure, the old hurts are there. So is the attraction—and it’s more magnetic than ever. Still, they’re adults now, levelheaded and just fine with the friend thing. If only to make family dinners less awkward. But when they agree to start dating other people, moving on threatens to bring them closer together than ever. Is it time to admit their past to their parents? Even trickier, their hope for the future? Because Ember and Bash deserve a love story of their own. With all their defenses down, can they make it a happy ever after?
Just a Boyfriend is a solid second chance romance with plenty of issues that must be dealt with by the major players. Ember is still not sure how she drove Bash away, but is sure it must be something wrong with her. Both Bash and Ember are so busy trying to be perfect and please other people that they alway seem to put their own happiness last. I loved seeing this two face their problems and find their way back together. I think the family and friends that make up their support systems play such an awesome role in this book, and even though that circle does not always say or do the 'right' thing- that love and support hit me right in the feels. If everyone had type of support system then issues that people have could be handled much more effectively. I think the personal problems like depression were handled well, with an honesty that is so often missing. I do generally like my romance with more heat, but I think that for the characters and the obstacles they faced the book might have hit the right level for realism's sake. 

Just a Boyfriend is a good new adult romance that will appeal to many readers.

Book Review: Bird Brain: Comics About Mental Health, Starring Pigeons by Chuck Mullin

Bird Brain: Comics About Mental Health, Starring Pigeons by Chuck Mullin is a collection of brutally honest, brilliantly weird comics exploring what it’s like to live with mental illness, using pigeons. When Chuck Mullin began experiencing anxiety and depression as a teenager, she started drawing comics to help her make sense of the rollercoaster. Eventually, she found that pigeons—lovably quirky, yet universally reviled creatures—were the ideal subjects of a comic about mental illness. The book is organized in three sections—"Bad Times," "Relationships," and "Positivity"—and featuring several short essays about the author’s experiences. 

Bird Brain is a comic collection that I related to on some levels, and not so much on others (I am more of an emotion stuffer than a crier), because we are all different. I loved how honest Mullin is about how she has felt, and the changes that she has made in her life. Like Mullin I have never shared the disdain for pigeons, and find them fun and cute. I liked the stories she shared, and the artwork. I think the only thing I might have changed is the inclusion of resources, like hotlines or online communities, that readers might use for support if they want or need some connection. However, since the book was originally published in the UK, I understand that it would take getting some different information for each publishing market.

The acknowledgement that self love and the love of others is not mutually exclusive, and that improving mental health is a journey, was important to me. So many of the platitudes people throw at people dealing with any kind of mental distress (clinical or situational)  are more harmful than helpful- because if people could just smile and feel better don't you think they would? If only it were so easy. I also like that Mullin points out that medication can be part of the solution- but is not the only part and is not for everyone. Side effects and allergies can make medication more problematic than what they are supposed to help, but if he right dose of the right med is found it can make life significantly better for some. I really love the clear point that we are all different, and effect to different therapies and tools accordingly- working with a professional to find the right combination is important and can very greatly depending on the person. 

Bird Brain is an honest and relatable collection that will speak to anyone that has suffered through anxiety and/or depression. I think it would also be a great read for those with loved ones that are dealing with them to help them understand what it feels like. 

Book Review: Liam Davis and the Raven by Anyta Sunday

Liam Davis and the Raven by Anyta Sunday is a stand alone romance, although I could not stop myself from looking for characters I might recognize and hoping for more on some of the secondary characters as I read. 

Liam Davis is a serious journalist, and he’s good at it. Or at least, he was. Until the chief of Scribe, the campus magazine, makes him give up his politics column to write for the party page —the party page that is problematic for two reasons: One, it threatens Liam’s chance of getting the traineeship with his apathetic father at his prestigious newspaper company, and two, he has no idea what it means to party, let alone how to capture this new audience’s attention! But Liam Davis is no quitter. He’s determined to prove to his father, the chief, and above all himself that he can do it—and do it well. Life doesn’t make it easy. Not when Freddy Krueger comes stalking out of the shadows to attack him. Luckily the Raven, the campus vigilante—the vigilante getting hate mail sent to Scribe’s opinions page—comes to his rescue. Now, between finding the perfect angle for his party page columns and making friends (and perhaps something more?), Liam needs to find this mysterious Raven — not only to thank him, but to warn him to watch his back.
Liam Davis and the Raven made me smile, cringe, and sigh in turn. Liam is a all work and no play kind of guy. He does not do well with emotion, and spends more time working for the college magazine than doing anything else.l When he does not get the paper assignment he wants and an attack makes him much more aware of his loneliness the world starts to shift. I completely related to Liam, as he struggled to understand the social and emotional cues he never really had to deal with before. He is trying to make friends, write a column he is uncomfortable with, and reach the level of success with his writing he needs to reach his long term goals. Watching Liam discover the good and annoying bits of having people involved in your life was enthralling, and his complete honest about what he was feeling and wanting to be sure was sweet and frustrating in turn. I liked how he was both so smart and clueless at the same time. Quinn, Hunter, Sam, and the rest of the secondary characters were fantastic and added a great deal of depth and emotion to the story as a whole. Now I need a story just for Hunter, because I need more of him and want him to get his own happy ever after.

Liam Davis and the Raven hit all the right notes and left me wanting more from the author, and about a few favorite characters from the book. I just love the depth and realistic nature of the characters. 

Early Book Review: Check Please!: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu

Check Please!: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu is the first graphic novel in a two volume series for new and young adults, and older readers of course. It is currently scheduled for release on September 18 2018. 
Bitty may be a former junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and very talented pie maker, but being a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team is a whole new challenge. It’s nothing like co-ed club hockey back in Georgia! First of all? There’s checking. And then, there is there is Jack—our very attractive but moody captain. This volume is a collection of the first half of the webcomic series of the same name. It is a coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during what could be the best four years of your life.
Check Please!: #Hockey is a graphic novel that tackles the fears of fitting in, especially when you are different, or do not conform to gender expectations. Bitty is not just gay, he also bakes like a dream, has a video blog, was a figure skater, and faints at the thought of getting checked on the ice rink. I worried that the character was going to be too stereotypical, but I was glad to get the story from his perspective, and was easily lost in his story. I felt like his journey toward being comfortable with himself, and sharing that with his team when he was ready. There were places I wanted more information, or a peek at someone else's mindset. However, the story was well done and captured my attention while leaving me wanting more. I thought the artwork was a great match to the story. I thought it did a good job of covering some of the good and bad of college life without getting too caught up in any one aspect. 

Check Please!: #Hockey is a fun and heart warming story, with a nice variety of characters and challenges that are tackled with light-hearted, hopeful, and realistic. My only complaint is that While left hopeful, I was left with a bit of a cliffhanger, wondering how things will work out. I will be checking out the next volume. 

Book Review: Gemini Keeps Capricorn (Signs of Love) by Anyta Sunday

Gemini Keeps Capricorn is the third book in the Signs of Love series by Anyta Sunday. Each book in the series can stand up fine on its own, however some characters from previous books do have cameos.

Wesley loves annoying his RA, Lloyd Reynolds. He just can’t help it. Lloyd is focused, decisive, grounded. He has this amusing ability to follow rules. Of course Wesley wants Lloyd to break one, or more. But Lloyd doesn’t crack easily. He’s full of principles. He’s unshakable. He’s the perfect friend to have when Wesley needs help. Like with his truant brother and his old high school principal. One little lie is all it takes to find Wesley fake-engaged to his off-limits RA. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Gemini Keeps Capricorn is a delightfully slow burn, and Wesley is a fun but clueless main character that makes the journey entertaining and more than a little frustrating. I loved the banter and friendship between Lloyd and Wes, it made me smile. I found the family drama and hard life choices that need to be made to be on point and realistic. There characters reminded me of people I new in college, and afterward, and felt like people I might run into in real life. The background stories, Wes's brother Caleb and the parent connections, did not distract from the relationship growth, rather they added to it and help build on it. I love that I could get lost in the characters and the day to day issues, and enjoy the developing friendship and more. Sunday's stories are so much about people, life, and getting to know yourself and be yourself that I wish more people would discover her work- particularly those that cannot get past other people being different. I wish I did not have close to two hundred books in my Netgalley queue so I could go read more from Sunday right now, without the guilt. I will get to them though- eventually. 

Gemini Keeps Capricorn is another slow burn from Sunday that I loved. All I could ask for to change here (or any of the books in this series) is to get a glimpse into the other main character's head. I just want more!

Book Review: Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan

Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan is a wonderful contemporary romance that made me happy on multiple levels. Xander Fairchild can’t stand people in general and frat boys in particular, so when he’s forced to spend his summer working on his senior project with Skylar Stone, a silver-tongued Delta Sig with a trust fund who wants to make Xander over into a shiny new image, Xander is determined to resist. He came to idyllic, Japanese culture-soaked Benten College to hide and make manga, not to be transformed into a corporate clone in the eleventh hour.  Skylar’s life has been laid out for him since before he was born, but all it takes is one look at Xander’s artwork, and the veneer around him begins to crack. Xander himself does plenty of damage too. There’s something about the antisocial artist’s refusal to yield that forces Skylar to acknowledge how much his own orchestrated future is killing him slowly…as is the truth about his gray-spectrum sexuality, which he hasn’t dared to speak aloud, even to himself. Through a summer of art and friendship, Xander and Skylar learn more about each other, themselves, and their feelings for one another. But as their senior year begins, they must decide if they will part ways and return to the dull futures they had planned, or if they will take a risk and leap into a brightly colored future—together.
Antisocial is so much more than I expected. It is a romance, it is a coming of age story, and it is a wonderful study of the shades of the spectrum when it comes to sexual identity.Xander is an artist, and is as closed off and moody as any stereotype you might image. Skylar is a golden boy, being groomed for a life as a corporate lawyer. Each has their wounds and secrets. I loved the development of friendship between these two unlikely partners, and how the one that seemed the most in need of saving at the start was the one that offered the most encouragement and support through the entire story. I found the open communication between Xander and Skylar was so important, and something that happens too rarely in real life and romance novels alike. The inclusion of a friend group, and the struggles with parents and finances were important and valuable parts of the story- making it more real and engaging. My only sticking point was just how perfect their happy ending was, I think some of the parental resolution was left hanging. However, as this is my only issue with the book, I still want to highly recommend the read to anyone even vaguely interested.

Antisocial is a contemporary romance that explores the shades of sexual identity and the search most of us have for who we want to be, and what makes us happy. Every time I had to step away from reading I found myself eager to get back to the world of Xander and Skylar. I think this is a great read, and that young and new adults should read it particularly if they or anyone they care about is struggling with their own sexuality.

Book Review: Discovering Princeton: A Photographic Guide with Five Walking Tours by Wiebke Martens, Jennifer Jang

Discovering Princeton: A Photographic Guide with Five Walking Tours by Wiebke Martens and Jennifer Jang is a photographic guide featuring five fully illustrated walking tours of the charming New Jersey town with seventeenth-century roots and the renowned university at its core. It explores the heart of Princeton University as well as its more modern sections; downtown Princeton, including some of its oldest neighborhoods; and the campuses of Princeton Theological Seminary and the Institute for Advanced Study. Each walk highlights the town's rich history, varied architecture, and a multitude of local attractions, ranging from museums and theaters to parks and playgrounds. For those who want to roam a bit farther, a host of ideas for short outings and longer excursions in the greater Princeton area are included.
Discovering Princeton: A Photographic Guide with Five Walking Tours is a visual interesting and informative book about the history and features of Princeton and the surrounding area. The walking tour guides and information about how and why specific buildings came to be, and how things have changed over the years was interesting and well organized. I enjoyed the look at the school, its buildings. The full-page images paired with informative captions make this guidebook something that will appeal to locals, guests and the families of potential students or alumni.  I think the ideas for further excursions in the surrounding areas were particularly useful. The only downside is that much of the architecture and landscaping looks similar to other large universities- so as someone that has worked at or visited prestigious schools on a regular basis I found the images to be less interesting and unique than others that actually have a connection to Princeton. Too many colleges and universities have similar architecture, which means that the target audience for the book is very limited- but for those with a personal connection to Princeton and the area will certainly love it.

Book Review: The Trouble by Daria Defore

The Trouble by Daria Defore is a contemporary romance.  Danny Kim is the frontman of a Seattle indie rock band. He's also struggling to graduate from college. After rudely hitting on a cute guy at one of his concerts, he gets in even deeper trouble when the guy proves to be the TA of his accounting class. Though Jiyoon clearly would prefer never to see Danny again, a rough breakup brings then unexpectedly together and a tentative friendship forms. But Danny can barely keep his band afloat and pass all his classes, never mind learn how to make time for what is rapidly becoming the most important person in his life.

The Trouble is a book that rang as realistic, showing the diverse characters facing common struggles, and I think it will be very appealing to the new adults that are currently facing some of the some issues. I mean specifically struggling with college, career, and figuring out who and what they want. I like that the characters were not what I normally see in my romance, not only is this a same sex romance but the main players are of Korean decent. What I really liked about the portrayal of all the characters is that all the little pieces of their lives, history, and personality are there- but none define them. Just like any well written character, you get a feel for the shape of the character and their world but no one or two traits defined them. I will admit that I had a couple moments with Danny when I just wanted to kick him and tell him to grow up, but the other characters in the book shared that urge, and it was part of Danny's journey in figuring out how to be an adult, and how to function in a relationship. I liked the interplay between Danny and Jiyoon- as well as the way Danny and his band interacted with each other and those outside of their circle. Again, having seen and been part oft he music scene, this felt very realistically done. 

The Trouble is a romance that realistically portrays the struggles that the characters would face in their circumstances.  I enjoyed the story and think it was very well done.