Book Review: I’d Rather Be Reading by Guinevere De La Mare

I'd Rather Be Reading by Guinevere De La Mare

I’d Rather Be Reading by Guinevere De La Mare
Rating: 2 stars

I had such high hopes for this book when I saw it on amazon. The title obviously catches my eye because I’d pretty much always rather be reading! And the picture on the front seems to guarantee the book will be filled with other wonderful bookish art. It’s also just an assumption that this will be a large coffee table type book. After reading reviews I did come out that it’s quite tiny and compact. But I still requested it in a book exchange I recently took part in, hoping it would exceed my expectations. It didn’t.

First of all, there are almost no “essays” in the book. Just a few very short chapters. I loved the beginning because the author seemed to have the same story as me. I also was a huge bookworm as a child. I loved books like crazy – until my AP English class. Just like her, the pretentious discussions and constant analysis was just so much more than I wanted. I liked reading books for enjoyment. I still only like reading books for enjoyment. Anyway, I thought after that first chapter the rest of the book would follow in the same vein. But in a future essay it was all about focusing only on literary fiction and reading the classics. It was basically pointed out that unless a book is a classic work of fiction, it’s not worth reading. I don’t like hearing that! It really turned me off to the rest of the book.

The photos and artwork were just okay. It was certainly interesting, but I would have enjoyed it so much more if they were bigger! I also would have greatly appreciated the title of the work and the artist on the same page. Instead, the artist’s name is just listed at the back of the book.

Overall, I was gravely disappointed by this book. It had the potential to be amazing. Instead it felt like a very rushed and ridiculously simple way to make money. Anybody could have whipped up a book like that. Throw about 70 pictures together (mostly photographs, not actual bookish art like I had hoped) and ask three people to write a two page essay. There could have been hundreds of prints, at least fifty essays! Anyway, it’s fun to thumb through. It took me about half an hour to read in its entirety. But it’s definitely not worth buying.

Book Review: Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge
Rating: 5 stars

Barry is an American who just left his finance career to pursue his true love of painting. Sophie is a French architect who is on her honeymoon. They are both in a small plane over the South Pacific when a lightning storm and lack of fuel causes their plane to crash. They are the lone survivors and both happen to end up on the same very tiny deserted island. They have almost no salvaged supplies and the only food available to them are bananas and the occasional clam. And yet somehow they manage to survive, suffering sadness and hopelessness which turns into a rabid hatred for each other, and eventually morphs into love and respect.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s told through the eyes of both characters as well as occasional chapters by a narrator pointing out random facts about the island and how it came to be. The more I read, the more I began to love the story. Barry and Sophie do not start as very likeable characters. They both have a lot of spunk and they do not like each other. At all. But over their years on the island, they become closer and start depending on each other in ways that only two people on a deserted island can. They develop a pure and beautiful love that holds them together through every challenge they face.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book. It’s a beautiful redemptive story about being abundantly happy with what’s in front of you and what you already have, no matter how little it might be. It’s about the purity of a relationship that can bloom without outside distractions. And it’s about doing everything you can to make another person smile as you challenge them to follow their dreams. Even when you’re fighting for mere survival on a tiny island with almost no hope of rescue. I loved this book and I know it will stay with me for a very long time.

Book Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (audiobook version)
Rating: 4.5 stars

I decided to give fiction audiobooks another try after hearing so many rave reviews about The Hate U GiveI’m sure I would have eventually read it because it’s being talked about everywhere, but the audio version was definitely worth the time I put into it (over eleven hours).

That being said – this is a hard book to read. It will challenge you, the way you think about everything. It’s about Starr, a 16 year old black girl who lives in a very rough neighborhood with her parents, older half brother, and younger brother. When she’s at home she’s Garden Heights Starr, black girl with black friends and a black family. But she goes to a predominately white prep school an hour away with her white boyfriend and white friends. She constantly feels split between her two worlds. Near the beginning of the book she is the sole witness to the death of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Six years earlier she witnessed the death of her other best friend by a drive by shooter. This horrific event spurs everything that happens for the rest of the book.

Overall, this is a very powerful and poignant book with a very strong voice. As a white woman in an almost entirely white small town, it was pretty eye opening. And heartbreaking. It’s so easy to judge the people that live in these kinds of neighborhoods, surrounded by drugs and thugs and violence. Dismiss them, group them together, push them out of your mind if you’re not in the middle of it. But this book brings everything to the surface, really pushing you to pay attention and want to join the fight for change. I loved learning more about Starr and was so intrigued by her family dynamics. It was hard for me to reconcile her loving father with the man he was before she was born. It really goes to show how powerful love and family can be, no matter what your external circumstances.

I thought this was a fantastic book. But it’s not something I necessarily enjoyed listening to. It was heavy, for sure. I had to take a day break in between huge chunks of listening. But I think it’s important and something that everybody should be required to read.

My All Time Favorite Cookbooks: The Best Cookbooks to Amplify Your Meals and Treats

cookbook pinterest photo

I adore cookbooks. I’m a little bit obsessed with them. Though I have to admit that I’m not all that great about going to them when I’m in need of a quick meal idea. Pinterest is usually my greatest friend. But I do have a few cookbooks that I go to again and again because there are certain recipes I just love so, so much. I hope to eventually have that kind of relationship with all of my cookbooks. But for now, I’d like to tell you about the seven I use the most. These would be awesome to add to your own shelves, or would also make super Christmas gifts!

Joy the Baker Cookbook

1. Joy the Baker Cookbook

I would say this is my most used cookbook for the last four or five years. All of the recipes are simple and delicious. There are photos for every recipe, which is pretty much an absolute must for me in terms of a great cookbook. The majority of the book covers breakfasts and sweets. She is a baker, after all. But there are occasional sprinklings of savory dishes as well. There are a handful of recipes I go to again and again and again. I love this cookbook!

My Favorites:

  • Baked Chili Cheese Fries – These are to die for. They’re the only way I’ve ever made and pretty much every will make, baked french fries. They’re spicy, salty, cheesey, gooey – perfection.
  • The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting – You CANNOT live without this recipe. I’m not much of a frosting lover. Or a cake lover. But this frosting? I will literally eat an entire bowl of it, by itself. I’ve used it every single time I’ve needed chocolate frosting since I’ve gotten this book.
  • Chocolate and Salty Peanut Butter Ice Cream – Need I say more? My favorite chocolate and peanut butter ice cream recipe. So good.
  • Browned Butter Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Treats – This is the recipe that inspired my neighbor boy to build me a four foot tall trophy for “best rice krispy treat maker.” I’ve probably made this recipe fifty times. It’s a million times better than your regular rice krispy treat.

Joy the Baker has come out with two other cookbooks after this one, both of which I own. Homemade Decadence, which is full of desserts and treats, and Over Easy, which is mostly breakfast and brunch. I haven’t had as much time to try out recipes from these cookbooks, but they look just as fantastic.

The Cookies and Cups Cookbook

2. The Cookies & Cups Cookbook

If it’s not already obvious by book two on my list, I’ve always been much more into baking than cooking. I’m most drawn to cookbooks full of sweet and salty treats that I can make to satisfy my own cravings, and use to show off to my friends and family. This is another great book full of tasty goodness. There are also lovely photographs with each recipe.

My Favorites:

  • Salty Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies – I love browned butter. I love salty sweets. (Love passionately – much to Greg’s dismay because he hates salty sweets – loathes them.) I’m always up for trying new chocolate chip cookie recipes because they never seem to work out the way I want them to. But this one is great!
  • Salted Caramel Apple Butter Bars – (I might have a problem.) This is a really delicious and easy treat to make to share with a group.
  • Salty Caramel Corn – (Yes, a problem.) I’ve never liked caramel corn until I tried this recipe. It’s amazing. AMAZING. I’ve made it many, many times in the year since I bought this book.

The Everything Pizza Cookbook

3. The Everything Pizza Cookbook

We have pizza night every Friday. Even though Caden doesn’t eat pizza, Greg and Shepard practically live for Friday nights. I mostly just love knowing what we’re going to be eating one day a week, week after week. I have a handful of pizza cookbooks (the others are much prettier!), but this is the one I go back to again and again. I mostly use it for the crust recipes, though when I’m feeling more experimental (which doesn’t go over so well with the other pizza eaters in my house), I like to flip through the suggestions.

My Favorites:

  • Classic Crust – This is the recipe I use 90% of the time. Every few months I change things up with recipes from other places, but this is always my go to. It’s the crust that other people always rave about. It’s a good one!
  • Smoked Gouda Pizza – On the pepper crust recipe. Delish!

Eat Delicious

4. Eat Delicious by Dennis the Prescott

This one came out earlier this year and I bought it on a whim at Target in September. The photos are what will get your attention first – they are incredible. Every recipe looks like the best food you’ll ever eat. To be fair, I’ve only made two recipes in this book so far – tonight. The general steak cooking guidelines and the Hasselback Potatoes. But I can guarantee this book is going to be a favorite. Other than the seafood chapter, because none of us like seafood, I know I’ll be picking this one up over and over again. Everything looks SO GOOD. This particular cookbook would make a lovely Christmas gift for anyone on your list. Also, be sure to follow @dennistheprescott on instagram. You’re welcome.

My Favorites:

  • Maple-Bacon Scones – Flipping through this book again, I forgot that I did make this recipe! And it was fantastic!!
  • Ancho-Rubbed Steak Tacos with Pineapple-Avocado Salsa
  • Buttermilk Fried Chicken Burgers
  • Sriracha-Roasted Cauliflower
  • Brown Sugar Bourbon and Candied Pecan Ice Cream
  • Salted Caramel Apple Parfaits

Half Baked Harvest Cookbook

5. Half Baked Harvest Cookbook by Tieghan Gerard

The Half Baked Harvest blog is my all time favorite food blog. Every recipe I have ever made from Tieghan has been of the most delightful and flavor bursting sensational food produced in my kitchen. Her Korean Fried Chicken Tacos are my favorite food of all time. Her Thai Pomegranate Enchiladas rock my world. Her Cuban Chicken Quinoa Bowls have some of the most uniquely flavored chicken I’ve ever eaten. Suffice it to say, Tieghan was bound to create an incredibly first cookbook. I pre-ordered the day it was announced and anxiously waited the six months it took to be released. And it does not disappoint! All of the photographs are so beautiful. A photo per recipe, of course. I’d say the only downside is that many recipes do require an awful lot of ingredients. They’re not usually last minute quickly prepared meals. But if you have the time and buy all the ingredients, it’ll be so worth it. Trust me. And full disclosure, I haven’t had a chance to make many recipes from the cookbook yet. But I plan to rectify that very soon!

My Favorites:

  • Nonnie’s Dutch Baby – I love Dutch Babies for weekend breakfasts. So fast and delicious.
  • Salted Brioche Cinnamon Rolls
  • Apple Ricotta Pancakes with Bacon Butter
  • Crunchy Roasted Broccoli with Toasted Bread Crumbs
  • Fig and Cider Pork Chops – I made this last month with the apple instead of fig substitution and my family went nuts over it. I very rarely make pork, but this was a keeper!
  • Apple and Brie Soup with Bacon and Pumpkin Seed Granola
  • Salted Treacle Butter Apple Pie

First Prize Pies

6. First Prize Pies by Allison Kave

If you like to eat pie, make pie, read about pie, or know anyone else who does – this is the cookbook for you. First of all, it’s gorgeous. A perfect gifting book! Unfortunately there is not a photo with every recipe, but there are plenty. The cookbook is organized by season so you can always search for a pie that would be perfect for whatever season you’re making it in. It guarantees the freshest pie for that time of year. Every pie I’ve made from this cookbook has been a hit!

My Favorites:

  • Samantha Bee’s Salty Caramel Pie – Perhaps I should rename this post to my favorite salty sweet cookbooks! This one is easy and delicious!
  • Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
  • Trifecta Pie (Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel)
  • Ginger Peach Pie – I don’t even like the taste of ginger, but this is one of my all time favorite pie recipes. It’s amazing.

Simply Scones

7. Simply Scones by Leslie Weiner and Barbara Albright

This is probably the oldest cookbook in my collection. It’s a cookbook my mom used and I later bought a copy for myself. The cookbook itself is tiny and not much to look at. But the recipes are really great. I love making scones, especially for company or get togethers. They’re a treat that not many people actually make, despite how easy they are! They also taste wonderful.

My Favorites:

  • Banana Chip Scones – Like banana bread, but better!
  • Blueberry Coffee Cake Scones – Very messy, but very delicious!
  • Brownie Scones
  • Buttermilk Scones
  • Chocolate Stuffed Peanut Butter Scones
  • “Classic” Cream Scones
  • Gingerbread Scones

And that’s it for my all time favorite cookbooks! I have many, many more on my shelves, so I’m hoping with a little more intentional cooking, in the future I’ll have more cookbooks to share. Let me know your favorites!

Book Review: The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre

The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre

The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre
Rating: 5 stars

Helena is an extremely famous, but very difficult to like, romance author. She’s written 14 bestsellers in her 32 years of life. She lives by rules and is extreme in her privacy. But she is suddenly diagnosed with brain cancer and given three months to live. She knows that before she goes she has to write a final book – the truth about the death of her husband and loss of her daughter. She needs to confess her truth to alleviate the guilt that has weighed her down so much in the last four years. She also realizes that in order to get the book written in time, she’ll need the help of a ghostwriter. Someone who can write well, match her voice, and be fast. She finds that in her writing nemesis, Marka Vanske.

Helena is not a very likeable character. She is rigid, uncompromising, condescending, angry, and driven by her characters and the worlds she creates. And yet you feel so passionately sad by how she is living and how closed off she has become from everyone. In her final months she is forced to let in Kate – her agent, and Marka – her sworn enemy. They help her work through her most painful years and ultimately be able to die in peace.

I decided to read this book because it pops up on amazon every single time I search a Colleen Hoover novel. Hoover is my favorite, so I figured they must be similar in style. And they are! Unfortunately, there was no romance in this book. But you don’t miss it. The little bit of friendship and trust that buds between the characters is fantastic. The book is so well written. It’s marketed as a mystery, and there is a bit of it. You’re told at the beginning that Helena has killed her husband, but it takes you until the end of the book to figure out how and why. Overall, this was really a beautiful book and well worth picking up.

Book Review: The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy Reichert

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy Reichert

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert
Rating: 4 stars

Lou is the owner of an up and coming French restaurant in Milwaukee, WI. Al is a British born food critic who is becoming well known for his scathing reviews of so many local restaurants. One day they meet by happenstance at a market, Lou later walks in on her fiance with his assistant, and goes to work a huge mess. Of course that happens to be the night Al is set to critique her restaurant – unaware that Lou is actually Elizabeth, the owner of Luella’s. They meet again after his horrendous review comes out and hit it off. Al writes under a pseudonym, so she doesn’t realize who he is either. They begin a friendship, agreeing to never discuss work. While Luella’s business is basically destroyed after the awful review, she distracts herself with touring Al around the best parts of Milwaukee in her days off. They become great friends as Al softens to life in Wisconsin and begins to enjoy many of the restaurants he frequents. But of course the truth eventually comes out and things get heated.

I liked this book because it felt very personal. I was born in Milwaukee, for one. I don’t spend a ton of time there as an adult, but many of the places they visited were also places I’ve been, which made reading about it a lot more fun. I also loved how excited all of the characters became when they were creating new meals. It’s an excitement that I can relate to and really want more of. While her business declines, Lou often talks about the restaurant choices she wished she had made. It frustrated me that instead of implementing those changes right away, she just let everything continue to fail. It felt like with some immediate changes she might have been able to turn things around. It also felt slightly unbelievable to me that two people can spend so much time together and never talk about their work. Especially since she was a chef! She spent mornings at markets picking out fresh food and all day and night at the restaurant. Al admits to being a writer, but doesn’t want anybody to make the connection that he’s also the revered, and sometimes hated, food critic.

Overall, this was a sweet book about finding the courage to own up to who you are and what you actually want out of life. I loved how vibrant the setting was and it made me want to further appreciate all the local festivals and restaurants that I visit. I was rooting for Al and Lou throughout the book and loved how their relationship developed over time. It’s a great book!

What I Read: October 2017 Book Reviews

Well, October was definitely a better month of books than September. There were still a lot of so/so books that didn’t really spark my undying love, but I did have a few clear winners. As always, I’ll try to keep these reviews brief and you can go back and read my full reviews if you’re interested!

\The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
Rating: 3.5 stars

Lucy and Owen meet by chance in their apartment elevator during the middle of a NYC blackout. They spend one night talking on their roof and then both of their life circumstances change on the next day, moving them apart. They keep in touch by postcards. The theme of the book revolves around how important the right person can be to you, even if you don’t have a solid relational foundation to begin with. I enjoyed the book, but it didn’t resonate that deeply with me. I’d prefer to see my main characters actually together, conversing, interacting. Very little space of this book is dedicated to them actually being in the same place together. Cute concept, but also nothing that special.

Read full review here.

Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker

Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker
Rating: 5 stars

I love the idea of nonfiction books. I’m addicted to finding new ones I want to read. And I usually buy physical copies of nonfiction books, otherwise they’ll get lost in my kindle. It’s pretty rare, however, that I actually start AND finish a nonfiction book in my collection. The fiction world is a pretty hard full for me. This book, though? It’s awesome. Jen has such a strong voice, which I’ve gotten much more familiar with since also listening to her podcast. It’s made me love this book even more. Each chapter is a short essay on a variety of topics about the mess of life and the moxie required to get through it. So many chapters were completely poignant to my own life, and I know they’d be so perfect for other people as well. No matter what stage of life you’re in, if you’re a woman – I think you’d love this book. It’s hilarious, it’ll bring you to tears, and it’ll make you realize that you are not alone.

Read the full review here.

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover
Rating: 5 stars

I think it’s safe to say that Colleen Hoover is my all time favorite author. She’s never written anything that I didn’t fall in love with. Her characters have so much depth and emotional rawness that is hard to ignore. While this book is a little less romance-y than all of her others, I still adored it. The main character, Merit, was not exactly likeable. But I could still relate so strongly to some of the things she was going through. The story is about her and her crazy family and her sister’s boyfriend who she has fallen for. It’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s a little bit heartbreaking. I loved it all. Read this book, and all of her others!!

Read the full review here.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
Rating: 4 stars

This is a book that will get under your skin. With the appearance of a happily married life, Grace is actually behind held captive by her sickeningly disturbed husband Jack through blackmail and threats. As the book progresses you learn how Jack is able to keep her quiet and why she stops making attempts to flee. You’ll wonder how anyone could continue to hope for a way out when every single chance she’s gotten resulted in such horrible outcomes. It’s truly a fascinating psychological thriller. The ending is quite clever and definitely worth sticking around for.

Read the full review here.

Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle

Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle
Rating: 4 stars

I feel like I keep talking about this, but I made the mistake of reading this book series at the same time as watching the first season of the show and had a hard time separating the two in my mind. But thinking solely about the book! It’s about an unknown actress who is instantly thrown into stardom with two of Hollywood’s hottest actors. She develops feelings for Rainer who helps her through the insanity. And then she meets Jordan and sparks fly. But she feels like she owes her devotion to Rainer for being her comfort and friend from the beginning. I found myself pretty irritated with how Paige couldn’t seem to make up her mind and understand which guy she actually wanted. I couldn’t understand why she would pick Rainer again and again when she SO CLEARLY had much more delightful chemistry with Jordan. But their love triangle is complicated.

I just realized I didn’t write a full review on this. Whoops! Well, I think I summarized it pretty well above. 🙂

Truly Madly Famously by Rebecca Serle

Truly Madly Famously by Rebecca Serle
Rating: 4 stars

The sequel is much the same as the first. Love triangle madness. Paige feels like she needs to keep her fans happy, which means she stays with Rainer. Even though she so clearly wants Jordan. I was annoyed with how self important she felt she was. That she couldn’t have what she wanted because it would disappoint too many fans. I wish she had gone with her heart from the start. But overall, I enjoyed the books. I just HIGHLY recommend either watching the show or reading the books – not both. In the books, Paige’s best friend Jake is a very minor character. Jordan is who she really wants to be with. In the tv show, Jordan is off in his own mess of relationship drama and Jake is THE guy. You will LOVE tv Jake. And you might love tv Paige more than book Paige. So maybe just watch the show. 🙂

Read the full review here.

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
Rating: 3 stars

I’ve read a lot of raving reviews for this book since it came out a month ago. I was hoping I’d love it as much as everyone else, but it fell a little flat for me. I think the storyline revolved way too much about the LDS church and how strongly they are against homosexuality. Which is probably true and a very important topic. I just wasn’t super interested in reading a whole book about it. But I loved the main character Tanner and how supportive and wonderful his family was of his own sexuality. The story was interesting, it just didn’t really grip me the way I had hoped.

Read the full review here.

Warcross by Marie Lu

Warcross by Marie Lu
Rating: 3.5 stars

This is a YA sci-fi/dystopian type novel about how most people in the world connect through a virtual reality network. I really liked the main character, Emika and how she learned to trust people and let them in, after a lifetime of fending for herself. But the overall arc of video game type stuff, just really isn’t my thing. It was very well written and I liked it, but I also had a hard time actually wanting to keep reading it.

Read the full review here.

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld
Rating: 5 stars

I loved this book! It’s obviously a very serious topic – hunting down children that are missing. Most of the book is told from the perspective of Naomi, the child finder, and Madison, one of the girls who was taken. It’s quite the page turner. I forgot to write this in my original review, but it’s worth mentioning. This book is so beautifully written. Denfeld has a lyrical way of writing prose that I haven’t come across in quite awhile. Multiple times in the book I stopped to re-read a sentence and just revel in how acutely she phrased something. As a bit of a writer, I really appreciated it. Overall, I highly recommend this one.

Read the full review here.

Book Review: The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld
Rating: 5 stars

Naomi is well known among parents of missing children as “the child finder.” As a lost child herself, with no memory of what happened the first nine years of her life before she was found, she has an innate ability to get into the mindsets of the children that are gone and more often than not, is able to find them. Sometimes she finds them in time, and sometimes it’s too late. But she’s incredible at what she does. She’s optimistic and full of hope when looking for the lost children, but has a deeply hard time trusting and loving people that want to be close to her.

In The Child FinderNaomi is hired to look for Madison Culver, a child who mysteriously disappeared in the northern Oregon woods three years ago at age five. It seems impossible that she would have survived a day, let alone three years, but her mother refuses to believe Madison dead. Soon after the book begins, you find that Madison did indeed survive, thanks to a rescue from a deaf and mute old man named B. Mr. B nurses Madison back to life and keeps her captive for his own comfort and pleasure. Madison learns how to keep him from getting angry by being whatever he needs from her. She doesn’t talk because seeing her lips form words makes him extremely angry. She starts to call herself “The Snow Girl” and constantly makes up stories and fairy tales in her mind to separate that persona from Madison, the girl she used to be.

This book is definitely a page turner. If you’re highly sensitive, you should know that Mr. B does use Madison for sex, but it’s never described and she does not seem truly aware of it happening, thanks to the imaginative nature of her mind. I did have a little bit of a hard time believing that a five year old could be as mature and intuitive as Madison became in the three years she was held captive. If she were a few years older to begin with it wouldn’t have felt like such a stretch to me. But at any rate, it was an excellent story. It’s the first book I abandoned all else for so I could keep reading in quite awhile. I really didn’t want it to end. I highly recommend it!

Book Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

Warcross by Marie Lu

Warcross by Marie Lu
Rating: 3.5 stars

Emika is a penniless, orphaned bounty hunter. Days away from being evicted from her apartment, she desperately hacks her way into a worldwide virtual reality game called Warcross and is instantly famous. She is immediately whisked away to Tokyo to meet with Hideo, the billionaire creator of Warcross who inspired her to make something of herself when her dad died seven years earlier. Hideo asks Emika to join the Warcross games with the additional duty of finding out who else has been hacking into their elaborate security systems. She is recruited to a team with members she does not fully trust. She struggles to learn how to work in that team, while also having feelings for Hideo.

Much of this book takes place in a virtual world. In that regard, it’s very similar to Ready Player OneWhich really isn’t my genre. Lu does it well, but I also read through the intricately laid out scenes wishing it’s something I could just see on a screen, instead of trying to visualize everything. When people are constantly seeing each other and interacting through virtual reality, I can never stop thinking about what’s going on with their real life bodies in the meantime. At any rate, this also comes across as a bit of a dystopian novel, which I do like reading about. It was all done very well, and ends with a little twist that leaves you hanging for the second book.

Overall, I’d recommend this book to anybody who enjoys young adult dystopian/sci-fi fiction. The storyline is interesting and the characters are intriguing. I like how Emika’s teammates come through to help her in the end, even though she wasn’t much of a team player herself before that point. I like seeing her learn to trust people, despite how hard her childhood has been. I greatly look forward to the sequel coming next year to get some closure on where the characters are left at the end of Warcross.

Book Review: Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
Rating: 3 stars

Tanner is an 18 year old bisexual kid whose family moved to a very Mormon community in Utah and he is forced to go back into the closet. His family is aware and extremely accepting of his sexuality, but they live in fear that the community will find out and he will end up hurt. Tanner has a best friend Autumn who is not to secretly in love with him. Tanner and Autumn take a seminar their last semester of high school that requires them to write a full length book by the end. Helping teach the class is Sebastian, son of the local bishop, a boy whose book from the year before is about to be published. Tanner and Sebastian immediately feel a connection and begin to explore the possibility of the relationship they’d truly want with each other.

The main theme of this book is being comfortable with your own sexuality and learning how to deal with it if people will not accept you for who you are. Tanner is fortunate that his family is incredibly supportive of him and they have excellent relationships with each other. Sebastian is highly religious and though he knows that he’s never been attracted to a girl, he refuses to admit that he might actually be gay. Coming out – and acting on said attraction – would ostracize him from his family and his LDS community. The boys struggle with their extreme attraction to each other, while needing to keep their relationship in secret, living in fear of the wrong person finding out.

This book definitely has some heartbreaking moments. It makes you think about the kind of person you would aspire to be if your own son/brother/friend came out as gay or bisexual. Tanner’s parents’ accepting nature lead them to an amazing family dynamic, whereas Sebastian even suggesting the possibility of him being attracted to men leads to his entire family giving him the silent treatment for weeks. It’s really sad. Overall, the storyline made for some great YA. I just wasn’t extremely interested in all the LDS stuff, which makes up a pretty big portion of the book.