Book Review: Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Love & GelatoAuthor: Jenna Evans Welch

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release date: May 3, 2015

Purchase from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

synopsis

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

MINIMAL TO NO SPOILERS LIE AHEAD. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Love & Gelato was an abundance of sweetness, adventure, heartbreak, and even more sweetness. From the beginning, I was thrown a huge curve ball filled with heartache and sympathy for Lina. Hadley, Lina’s mother, is diagnosed with terminal cancer – her world is turned upside down when Hadley delves into stories of a man named Howard who lives in Italy. We quickly learn that Howard is Lina’s father and it is Hadley’s last wish for Lina to go to Italy and get to know the man who has been absent from her life for seventeen years. Lina’s life changes in Italy by startling revelations, friendships, and a budding romance.

I’ve been loving all the contemporaries that have fallen into my hands. Love & Gelato is one of them. I loved Lina as a stubborn, cautious, and running enthusiast. Her mother’s death is still raw and I liked how it was portrayed. It isn’t easy to move on and I just…liked that Lina encompassed that grief well without hindering the will to live. In its own way…it is a beautiful thing. I also love how Lina is so cold towards Howard and steadily warms up to him as the story progresses. Her feelings towards her father are aligned to how Hadley “see’s” him.

Now, you may be wondering why I put quotation marks around “see’s.” Well, things aren’t always how they seem and Lina figures that out on her adventures through Italy.

The journal that her mother left Lina spurs her into action to see Italy as Hadley had experienced it when she was younger. It is through the journal that she sees the romance between Hadley and her father unfold. The journal also brings her new friend, Ren, on the adventure! I love love loved the incorporation of the journal in the novel. It was a story within a story and I enjoyed the glimpses of Hadley’s life and how it affected Lina.

Opposite of Lina was Ren, the half-American/half Italian boy she meets and grows fond of. Ren is quirky, sweet, and adorable. He was an unexpected character in both friendship and romance. Speaking of unexpected characters – Howard was too. He didn’t act like a repentant father, but it didn’t make me hate him. In fact, I liked him a lot. He often tried to explain the situation, but Lina pushed him away until she was ready for the truth.

And boy does that truth hit you like a semi-truck.

Lastly, that ending. I cried. Literal tears of just happiness 🙂

All in all, Love & Gelato is a sweet contemporary novel with a bit of heartbreak entwined. It’s a story that heavily relies on voice and if you love Lina, just like I did, you’ll love her adventure in Italy!

addy5star

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Simply Sunday #31

simply sunday

Simply Sunday is a reading meme hosted by Books For a Delicate Eternity. It’s where you share your favorite quote; be it from a book, movie, novella, song, ect.

My favorite quote this week is from L.H.Z.:

You love him despite the burden of Atlas resting on his shoulders, and he loves you despite the death still clinging to your lips, and the blood drying at it’s corners. What a pair you make.

Why I Chose It

I’ve been enjoying short, profound, Tumblr poetry. It’s modern and simple, yet, demonstrates the depth of human emotion. I think that when it comes to love we love the other person no matter their flaws, mistakes, and burdens. We accept the bad parts just as we do the good. L.H.Z. depicts this same concept with a little more angst, depth, and bleakness to an emotion that is often seen in light.

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I hope everyone has a happy holiday! I’ll be stuffing my face and going into a food coma 😛

Emma

Book Review: Prom Queen Perfect by Clarisse Davide

Author: Clarisse Davide

Publisher: self-pub

Release date: July 7, 2016

Format: E-book

Purchase from Amazon

synopsis

Being perfect isn’t supposed to be this hard.

Alex dela Cruz has it all. Looks, money, and a killer sense of style.

When the annoyingly gorgeous Adam Cordero calls her selfish, she decides to prove him wrong by transforming Christy Marquez from an invisible misfit into a ruling princess of Asia Pacific Academy. Great hair? Check. Flawless red lipstick? Check. Instant popularity? A slightly too big check.

But now, Alex is on the brink of losing the plastic tiara she’s supposed to get as prom queen, her best friend, and her heart to the unlikeliest of candidates. Too bad she isn’t letting anything—or anyone—get between her and that tiara.

NO SPOILERS LIE AHEAD. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Prom Queen Perfect was everything I needed in an incredibly sweet and short (to my utter dismay) story about childhood friends turned high school frenemies/sweethearts. I plunged into this novel blindly; not really knowing or expecting how I’d feel. At the end, I felt a WHOLE LOT FOR ALEX AND ADAM.

Alex dela Cruz is that popular girl in high school that everyone hates but wishes to secretly be. She rules Asia Pacific Academy with an iron fist; no one dares to undermine her superiority. Well, except Adam Cordero. Adam is the only one who tells Alex that she is selfish, which sends her into an obsessive spiral of proving him wrong. Her project? Turn Christy Marquez from invisible to popular.

What I liked most about the plot was the fact that yes, it sounds cliche, but it is executed well with stunning metaphors that are unique to Clarisse Davide. The amount of emotion also blew me away as I felt overwhelmingly giddy for Alex in her bouts of clarity over love.

Even though Prom Queen Perfect is abundantly sweet, there are still some issues that Alex overcomes like the estranged bond between her and her mother, what it means to have a best friend, the act of selflessness vs. selfishness, and of course, how it feels to be in love.

I also loved the diverse cast from a diverse author! That was gold and god, soooooo good. I literally devoured this book in one sitting and all I wanted was MOAR.

 

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At 58% I made a note: Slowly falling in love is one of my favorite things to read.

It is. It really is. The relationship between Alex and Adam was everything my little heart desired. I was grinning like the mad Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland. It was that SWEET AND JUST ASDFGHJKL.

I also highly enjoyed the relationship between Christy and Alex. It was an unexpected friendship. It was interesting how their bond grew, broke, and was mended back together as authentically as any friendship in real life.

Prom Queen Perfect is a beautiful, whirlwind of a story about learning to be not-so-perfect and showing the world who the girl behind the facade really is. I truly loved this so much and just want more of Alex, Adam, and Christy in my life.

addy5star

What Makes Me Happy

musings of a writer tres

2016 has been a year of heartbreak. We’ve lost beautiful souls, been broken by the election, and have been affected by the mass onslaught of deep rooted hatred towards poc. This post was inspired by Reagan @ PeruseProject and is an effort to look at the good things in life that simply make me happy.

It is important to be happy, but it is also important to act. We must not dwell on the bad and if we choose to do so, then bring about change. Speak up if you see someone being threatened because of their gender, sex, color, ect. Do not sit idly. Do not go gentle into that good night.

Below is a list I’ve accumulated of things that make me happy.

  1. Tea. Any kind of tea, but it has to be loose leaf with a tsp of rock sugar for a little bit of sweetness. My favorite kind of tea is from Teavana.
  2. Books. It wouldn’t be a proper list if I didn’t mention that I love books. I prefer books over flowers 😉
  3. Rainy days. The sound of rain is soothing. It makes for a perfect day!
  4. Fluffy socks. With the holiday season upon us, this is a must in my wardrobe 😀
  5. Mugs. I recently purchased a Narwhal mug from Suko and it is the most adorable thing on the planet. I love cute animated mugs!
  6. Hot chocolate. One of my favorite things to look forward to when fall and winter come around!
  7. Sweaters. I wish I could wear them all the time!
  8. Running shoes. I’ve gotten so used to wearing them all the time that any other kind of shoe hurt my feet >.<
  9. Pens. Since the beginning of my college career, I use nothing but pens. I love collecting all types!
  10. Candles. My favorite scents are coconut and cotton candy. I don’t like holiday scents…sorry.
  11. Bookmarks! One of my favorite shops on Etsy for these bookish items are CraftedVan and ReadandWonder.
  12. Yoga pants. Does this need an explanation???
  13. Stars. I love looking up at the sky at night. One of my favorite things to do is drive up to the mountain at night and look at the sky in all its glory; away from all the city lights that dampen the beauty of nature.
  14. Loved ones. I love every single person that is part of my life. My family, friends, and boyfriend.
  15. Hiking. I love being out in nature and challenging myself in new feats by hiking difficult trails.
  16. Swimming. When I was little I used to pretend I was a mermaid. I still do.
  17. Nail polish. I’m a little bit of an addict when it comes to this. All I need now is some holo nail polish because I am a #holosexual.
  18. Netflix. After long days of school and work, this little gadget is there for me to watch whatever my heart desires. I just finished The Flash and OMG. LOVE.
  19. Doctor Who. One of my favorite shows ever. I also love the cast and will follow their work to the ends of the earth.
  20. Fur babies. I love animals. Dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, ect. I often go to the animal shelter with my boyfriend to play with the dogs and cats. I wish we could take them all home. But alas, I am mildly allergic.

Spread the happiness! Share some of the things that make you happy 🙂 Lastly, remember to always have courage and be kind.

xx

Emma

Simply Sunday #30

simply sunday

Simply Sunday is a reading meme hosted by Books For a Delicate Eternity. It’s where you share your favorite quote; be it from a book, movie, novella, song, ect.

My favorite quote this week is from M.A.W:

we’re all killers.
we’ve all killed parts of ourselves
to survive.

we’ve all got blood on our hands.
something somewhere had to die
so we could stay alive.

Why I Chose It

I am in constant war with myself. I am my worse enemy. I’ve lost parts of myself in order to fit in, to make others happy, to simply survive in this world. This poem illustrates the harsh reality that I (and maybe you) have gone through, and even though it isn’t the most happiest thing in the world, it is still part of us. The beauty lies within survival and the strength I’ve had to keep on fighting.

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Do you have a favorite quote this week? Let me know down in the comments below! 🙂

Emma

Book Review: I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil

Author: Gretchen McNeil

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Release date: October 18, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 352

Purchase from Amazon | Barnes & Noble

synopsis

Beatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She’s starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.

So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend Jesse dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it’s time to use The Formula for herself. She’ll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win Jesse back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

Unfortunately, being a manic pixie dream girl isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and “Trixie” is causing unexpected consequences for her friends. As The Formula begins to break down, can Bea find a way to reclaim her true identity and fix everything she’s messed up? Or will the casualties of her manic pixie experiment go far deeper than she could possibly imagine?

MINIMAL TO NO SPOILERS LIE AHEAD. YOU’RE WELCOME.

I didn’t really know what to expect from I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Within the first three chapters I was inwardly groaning to myself: Ugh…not another cliche high school hierarchy story. After those three chapters and the explanation of what exactly a manic pixie dream girl is…well, I was hooked. 

The main protagonist, Bea “Trixie” Giovanni, is an incredibly smart, sassy, and stubborn biracial filipina on the brink of a unique and creative experiment. Her love for math helps her concoct a formula using applied math to real life. Her reasons for this experiment is to help her best friends Gabe and Spencer deflect bullying and to climb the social ladder in their senior year of high school. Bea’s reasons to use the formula on herself is to win her ex-boyfriend back from the clutches of Toile, the epitome of a manic pixie dream girl. Well, at least it starts out that way.

Bea’s personality greatly shifts throughout the story, which gets kudos from me. It is important for the character to grow and flourish rather than stagnant. No one wants to read about a character who is too set in their ways. I love the moments of clarity for Bea like when she realizes what her intentions have become by using the formula and the matters of her heart.

One of my favorite things (which in truth is becoming a thing I look for in books) is the amount of diversity. You’ve got a non-white strong female lead, a gay supporting character who does not die and is used as a sympathetic tool for main character, endearing portrayal of LGBT romance, and a romantic interest that is not part of the jocktocracy, i.e. not popular or is in a sport.  I loved Bea so much that I could honestly say I’d like to be friends with her. She is the kind of girl that likes to keep to herself, that loves math so much that she lives and breathes it. Her friends accept her for who she is just like she accepts them. There are a handful of times where Spencer tells Bea that she does not need to change for anyone, much less a guy who is fickle. #friendshipgoals

Then, there is Gabe who is just FABULOUS. I really like how McNeil addressed the stereotypical tropes of a gay young man, but also stayed true to Gabe’s true personality and wishes apart from the formula that made him a star. The portrayal of gay romance is also sweet, highlighting that love is never easy no matter what gender is preferred.

Lastly, the last character of this lovely platonic triangle is Spencer. There aren’t enough words for Spencer other than:

Spencer is the kind of guy we all want. The guy who values a girl’s worth and doesn’t demand change just to suit his needs. He is artsy, smart, and stubborn yeah, there are times Bea and Spencer butt heads. He is the voice of reason throughout the story. And boy, I wish Bea would have listened to him sooner. She could have avoided a lot of the mess created by the formula. But hey, if she didn’t make them…well, we wouldn’t have had such a whirlwind of a story!

This book also highlights feminism (the good kind), family relationships/dynamics, and what it means to be yourself. It is an outstanding hoorah! and is sure to fill you with unbelievable happiness and empowerment. I’m pretty sure my face was plastered in a goofy smile 89% of the time while I read.

Check out my Goodreads for a play-by-play reaction of this book!

addy5star

Simply Sunday #29

simply sunday

Simply Sunday is a reading meme hosted by Books For a Delicate Eternity. It’s where you share your favorite quote; be it from a book movie, novella, song, ect.

This week, my favorite quote is a short poem by Topher Kearby:

i thought i saw stars in her eyes

glimmering

shimmering

shining in the night

but i was wrong.

it was fire

and those eyes –

they turned my soul to ash.

Why I Chose It

I am the girl who loves, well…love. But I also love heartbreak, and the inevitable strength that rises from the ashes. I love the use of alliteration that Kearby uses, emphasizing the greatness of this girl he’s come across. I think it’s so simply, yet, so beautiful, conveying nature as a force to be reckoned with.

Do you have a favorite quote this week? Let me know in the comments down below 🙂

With love always,

Emma

Book Review: Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

Author: Melissa de la Cruz

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Release date: October 4, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 432 pages

Purchase from Amazon | Barnes & Noble

synopsis

Jasmine de los Santos has always done what’s expected of her. Pretty and popular, she’s studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship.

And then everything shatters. A national scholar award invitation compels her parents to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all and the very real threat of deportation.

For the first time, Jasmine rebels, trying all those teen things she never had time for in the past. Even as she’s trying to make sense of her new world, it’s turned upside down by Royce Blakely, the charming son of a high-ranking congressman. Jasmine no longer has any idea where—or if—she fits into the American Dream. All she knows is that she’s not giving up. Because when the rules you lived by no longer apply, the only thing to do is make up your own.

SPOILERS MAY LIE AHEAD. PROCEED WITH CAUTION DEARIES.

Something in Between is what I needed after a tough week in the U.S. It tells a compelling and realistic story of an undocumented teen and how her status affects her future, the view of herself, and ultimately the resolve to fight. As a daughter of immigrants, I could relate to Jasmine and her family in a way that is unparalleled to any other character I ever read. My parents had to file and wait for citizenship, a process that isn’t easy just as Jasmine discovered throughout the story.

There are countless of stories that mirror Jasmine’s in real life. For those of us who are natural-born citizens, it is easy to forget that we are privileged – that we have an abundance of opportunities compared to our undocumented counterparts. Life Jasmine’s family – the reason they left the Philippines was to seek a better life full of endless possibilities and opportunity.

The rawness and authenticity of this story pulled at my heart and I cried. I am crying as I write this. I had a bucket full of empathy for Jasmine and her situation. I also really loved how she handled the hurdles that were thrown her way. This is contemporary and it has fluff, but it also heavily conveys the issues of immigration, identity, stereotypes, and the oppression of minority groups in the U.S.

Melissa de la Cruz weaved all these issues in the story seamlessly. She didn’t push her views down my throat, rather, she demonstrated it through Jasmine. Because of her “illegal” status, Jasmine began to question who she was, letting the fear of not having a paper that said she was a citizen contradict her feeling of being American. She also wondered how she would be treated by her race because she did not speak Tagalog (her native Filipino tongue) fluently. Lastly, the oppression of minority groups is seen in the story’s antagonist, Mason Blakely. Jasmine is targeted by his racist remarks.

As the story still lies in the realm of contemporary, there was a budding romance that made my heart melt – that gave me light. Royce Blakely isn’t your typical male protagonist. He is Mexican-American, dyslexic, and unbelievably adorable. He is charming without being arrogant. He is sweet without being obsessive. He is everything that Jasmine doesn’t need, but wants anyway. THAT is love. I love how they aren’t dependent on each other to live. There are also some definitely swoon-worthy moments that you’ll definitely have to see for yourself!

Then, there is an overwhelming amount of support – not just within Jasmine’s family, and they are pretty much a family I’d love to be a part of! but also regarding her peers. I think that’s an important idea to portray. A person should be judged by their character and not by the color of their skin, status, gender, ect.

Lastly, one of my favorite things about Something in Between were the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. They inspired me to never give up and to act. I cannot sit idly, while the world around me is in chaos.

This is one of those reads that you have to read – to gain knowledge and understanding of a facet within immigration. If you’re wondering what happens to Jasmine and her family, well…that’s something I am unwilling to give away 😛 Something in Between will stay with me for a long time and I will always remember how it gave me an insight on immigration and Filipino culture.

My friend Sue @ Hollywood New’s Source wrote a beautifully detailed review of this novel. She further analyzes the topics I listed and gives textual evidence.

As for me, I give this lovely read…

addy5starUntil next time,

Emma

My Dream Bookish Panel

One of my favorite things to do as a lover of books is going to book signings. I love the opportunity of meeting some of my favorite authors and being part of the Q/A that often follows at the end of the introductory and moderator questions. If you’re like me, you often shy away from asking questions that a) are filled with spoilers or b) advice for aspiring writers.

Today, I am here to share with you my dream panel of authors/characters and the questions I’d ask them without the anxiousness that comes from speaking in a crowded room.

Jasmine de los Santos from Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

img_0254I just finished this lovely read last night and if you’ve read it, you’d know how Jasmine is a strong authentic character who fights in the face of adversity. Jasmine gives us a realistic insight on what it means to be an undocumented teen immigrant in America. She deals with the stereotypes of what it means to be undocumented, college dreams crumbling, and dating. Jasmine handles all of these obstacles with grace. Above all, Jasmine is an excellent student and I want to know how she does it!

Question: What are some of your favorite study tips for success?

Will Herondale from The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare

Oh, Will. My lovely, tormented, sweet boy. Even as the years have passed, you are my all-time fictional boyfriend.fullsizerender If you haven’t read any of Cassandra Clare’s books, I highly recommend them. Will is the epitome of brooding, sarcasm, loyalty, and selflessly. He spent years pushing everyone he loves away because he believed it was the only way to keep them out of harms way. My heart still hurts with all that he had to go through. The two people who offered light in his life were Jem and Tessa, which leads me to…

Question: Do you remember the exact moment you fell in love with Tessa?

Aria and Perry from the Under the Never Sky series by Veronica Rossi

This series is one of my favorite dystopians to-date! The main conflict is man vs. nature rather than rebelling against a society. Aria and Perry challenge one another and realize that what they believe of their world (dwellers vs. savages) isn’t always true. The romance between the pair is definitely swoon-worthy, too! Lastly, the friendship they have with Roar, respectively, is #squadgoals

Question: In one word, describe what it meant finding the Still Blue.

Rachel Caine, Claudia Gray, and Richelle Mead: Vampire Talk!

All these ladies wrote some series ass-kicking female heroines who are vampires and/or fought against them. Some of my questions would delve into their vampire world, respectively, and if they had a female pop culture icon as a model for their heroine. Most of all, I want to know…

Question: Which is your favorite vampire novel and did it inspire your 
own vampire story?

Libba Bray: Strong Heroines

The Gemma Doyle trilogy is severely underrated in YA, but it is one of my favorite urban fantasies in existence. It rivals my love for Cassandra Clare’s writing. Bray writes a multitude of strong heroines in coming-of-age novels. Her female characters flourish and find out who they are and what they can do to change their fate. Love isn’t a central plot device in this series, which makes it that much more empowering.

Question: Who was your favorite character to write?

J.K Rowling: Unforgettable Characters

Image result for the golden trio fan artMy dream author/character panel would not be complete without the mention of J.K. Rowling. The Golden Trio is the kind of friendship I admire; through thick and thin. If you are like me, you’ve probably grown up with Harry and company, wished you’d have received a Hogwarts letter, and secretly desire to be a witch/wizard. Even if you didn’t grow up with Harry, Hermoine, and Ron – their story is widely known all around the world and it is one that fills you with childhood nostalgia.

Question: If you could rewrite one character’s story cough Snape’s cough
who would you choose? 

Thank you all so much for joining me on this adventure! One day I would love to be a moderator if I can get over my fear of public speaking! I would like to give special thanks to Eventbrite for inspiring this post idea. Eventbrite is one of the largest self-service ticketing platform in the world that helps people find and plan events. If you ever need to plan your own bookish conference or find one near you – it is definitely worth checking out!

Who is in your dream bookish panel?

I choose you! Yes, really! If you decide to write your own dream bookish panel post, make sure to leave me a link in the comments below! I’d love to check it out!

With love always,

Emma

Simply Sunday #28

simply sunday

Simply Sunday is a reading meme hosted by Books For a Delicate Eternity. It’s where you share your favorite quote; be it from a book movie, novella, song, ect.

My favorite quote this week is by Franklin D. Roosevelt:

Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.

Why I Chose It

At this present time, this is so so important to remember.

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Do you have a favorite quote this week? If so, leave a comment down below! I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

Emma