Monday, May 29, 2017

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke

Hannah Swenson #1. Kensington (April 2000) Library
Hannah Swensen already has her hands full, between dodging her mother's attempts to marry her off, and running Lake Eden, Minnesota's most popular bakery, The Cookie Jar. But when the Cozy Cow Dairy's beloved deliveryman is found murdered behind Hannah's bakery with her famous Chocolate Chip Crunchies scattered around him, Hannah sets out to track down a killer. The more Hannah snoops, the more suspects turn up. This is one murder that's starting to leave a very bad taste in Hannah's mouth, and if she doesn't watch her back, her sweet life may get burned to a crisp.


Cozy mysteries are a rare read for me. Which is strange because I like mysteries and I like food (most of them have a food related theme). Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder has always felt like the epitome of a cozy mystery. Whenever I have looked up the genre, there it is. I have had this book for so long no my TBR I thought I would never get to read it but finally I have. It wasn't what I expected...

I've read better. Shock and dismay all around I know for if you know this series it's like 20+ books long. I've always been tempted to read them but now? *Whoosh* That feeling is gone. I've read cozy mysteries before so I don't know why reading this book the unbelievability of this book hit me so hard. 

#1 - Hannah ran a bakery that only sold cookies called The Cookie Jar which I kept on thinking how on earth she got so many to come in. Unless she made more things and it just wasn't mentioned or I completely missed those recipes. 

#2 - Her sister's husband is a cop and not only asks her to help him with a murder investigation but doesn't bat an eye when she is actively investigating the case. Like that's a good idea.

#3 - She isn't even 30 but acts like she is 40. I literally felt like I was reading a book about an older woman. And it wasn't because she lived alone and had a cat... The way she's written in the story it sounds like she's super mature for no reason. And the excuse of it being an older published book fairs no weight here because it was published in 2000 and nowhere in 2000 do almost 20-year-olds sound and act like Hannah does.

#4 - The killer. There was no evidence that this person was going to be the killer until the very last second. I didn't react like, "Oh wow! I can't believe that person's the killer." I reacted more like, "Really? That person's the killer...."

I was so hoping for a better read. I wish I could say I enjoyed something about Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder but after skimming from the middle of the book towards the end... it can't be redeemed. I'm not giving up on this genre however since I did enjoy the first Bakeshop Mystery book a while back. I just need to find a series like it in my library.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

2017 Young Adult POC Books


POC books or People of Color books are things that I've found lacking in my reading. I'm Hispanic, my family is from Cuba and before that from Spain. I recently just found out there are members of my family still in Spain. And as I've gotten older it's now that I feel like I care more about whether a book has POC characters in the books I read. It's a little ridiculous how small the amount is. And I don't mean the bad boy the MC is into that has "olive" skin tone. I mean ACTUAL characters that are identified as a different race or ethnicity other than white. It's not like there is anything wrong with having white characters - I'm white. It's just that there are so many more people out there. Not everyone looks the same...

So I've been on a hunt to find POC characters in YA books published this year. I thought I could at least recommend one and find some more that I would like to read. And here are the results of my search:

Desi Lee knows how carburetors work. She learned CPR at the age of five. As a high school senior, she has never missed a day of school and has never had a B in her entire life. She's for sure going to Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation-magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds her answer in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It's a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Rules for True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and fake car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love is a book I've read this past month. It's a really cute romance that has Desi Lee who is Korean and obsessed with fixing everything/being perfect using K Dramas to find love with Luca Drakos.

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A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married. 

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right? 

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself. 

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not? 

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

I feel like everyone and their mother knows about this book but it's probably me just obsessing over it when I see it added or being read on Goodreads. This is another romance that looks ridiculously cute and full of humor with two Indian Americans in the center.

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Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?


I honestly cant't believe there is another one of these books in Lara Jean's series. I like how the summary admits that it's a surprise follow-up. They are all surprises! I'm a bit apprehensive about this one just because I feel like I always end up really down while reading about Lara Jean. Still this story is sure to amazing and it so happens to be another book featuring a Korean family.

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His whole life has been mapped out for him… 

Carlos Portillo has always led a privileged and sheltered life. A dual citizen of Mexico and the United States, he lives in Mexico City with his wealthy family, where he attends an elite international school. Always a rule follower and a parent pleaser, Carlos is more than happy to tread the well-worn path in front of him. He has always loved food and cooking, but his parents see it as just a hobby.

When his older brother, Felix—who has dropped out of college to live a life of travel—is tragically killed, Carlos begins hearing his brother's voice, giving him advice and pushing him to rebel against his father's plan for him. Worrying about his mental health but knowing the voice is right, Carlos runs away to the United States and manages to secure a job with his favorite celebrity chef. As he works to improve his skills in the kitchen and pursue his dream, he begins to fall for his boss's daughter—a fact that could end his career before it begins. Finally living for himself, Carlos must decide what's most important to him and where his true path really lies.

You know I can only recall one book that had a Hispanic/Latino(a) character in it that I've read before? I don't count the "olive" skinned bad boy characters. That's pretty pathetic. I already like Carlos' bravery as well as what seems like would be a book with a lot of food descriptions in it. Maybe I'll finally be able to know some actual authentic Mexican food with Carlos' skills in the kitchen.

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June's life at home with her stepmother and stepsister is a dark one—and a secret one. She is trapped like a butterfly in a net. 

But then June meets Blister, a boy in the woods. In him she recognizes the tiniest glimmer of hope that perhaps she can find a way to fly far, far away from her home and be free. Because every creature in this world deserves their freedom... But at what price?

June is mixed race - black and white - living with her white side of the family and dealing with a predominately white school. She doesn't have anyone except Blister, a boy she finds in the woods. I'm sure this one will get people angry and want to hug June because it's already doing that for me.


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Before

Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.

But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.
                                                                       After

Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.

No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse. 

Now someone made a comment on this book basically being frustrated that this book has a black woman as the MC but that it's written by a white woman. I honestly don't know how I feel about this because I don't know how I would feel if it was a Hispanic woman on the cover. I don't look Hispanic and I'm very American so I'm probably missing something. All I can think of is that the author might not get certain things right if they were from a different race/ethnicity. Does anyone else see it as a problem and can you explain why? Other than that I love the premise and the cover.

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Some other POC books:

Antisocial by Jillian Blake - I recently reviewed this book. A lot of diverse characters but not the MC who has Social Anxiety Disorder. 
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas - A timely story featuring discussion that has to do with #BlackLivesMatter. I've seen that everyone loves it when they've read it.
She, Myself, and I by Emma Young - This may or may not have a POC main character. Her name is Rosa so I assume she's Hispanic. If she's not let me know. The story sounds pretty amazing with her going through a brain transplant after she's been quadriplegic. 

How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life by Lilly Singh - This is by a pretty famous youtuber and it promises tons of laughs.

There are still a bunch out there but I'll stop here. I've noticed that there are a lot of Asian and Black POC characters out there being MC's. NetGalley is a good place to look for a lot more. If you know of more Hispanic MC books out there coming out in 2017 please let me know because I need to get my hands on them.


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Have you read or want to read any of the books I've mentioned?
Do you have any POC book recommendations to give out? 
Let me know in the comment section!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Searching Saturday: Water on the Cover



This honestly took way longer to do than I thought it would. Searching Saturday is challenging you to find new-to-you books every week depending on the theme. Apparently, I know a lot of water based books because all the one's I could find on Goodreads before I found these were one's I've seen before/know of. I decided to participate because I like scavenger hunts and discovering new books. 


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Lose Me by M.C. Frank

"Today is not the day I die."

Ari Demos starts every day with this thought. Fresh out of high school, she's landed a coveted role as a stunt double in a new Pride and Prejudice adaptation starring the Hollywood phenomenon Weston Spencer. But this job isn't going to be easy: Ari will be performing complicated water stunts and driving fast cars along the narrow cliffs of Corfu. One false step and she could lose not only her job, but her life.


And then Wes Spencer, Mr Darcy himself, arrives in Greece. He's got dirty blonde hair, a mile-long yacht and a bored look on that gorgeous face. Ari wants nothing to do with the rich actor boy, but on the day she meets him, she has an accident. One that almost claims her life. And now she can't hide from the truth any longer:She might be much closer to losing everything than she thought. She might be dying. And the British actor is the last person she'd expect to save her life.


She's a hard-working island girl. He's adored by millions. Falling in love was never supposed to be a part of the job. Staying alive was never supposed to be a part of growing up.


Was this story ever meant for a happily ever after?
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It had been a while searching for books so I decided to go on NetGalley I believe and found this. Absolutely love the cover. I'm very curious about her possible illness although the whole actor thing doesn't appeal to me for some reason.


Trusting & Other Lies 
by Nicole Williams

Phoenix can't imagine anything worse than being shipped off to family summer camp. Her parents have been fighting for the past two years--do they seriously think being crammed in a cabin with Phoenix and her little brother, Harry, will make things better?

On top of that, Phoenix is stuck training with Callum--the head counselor who is seriously cute but a complete know-it-all. His hot-cold attitude means he's impossible to figure out--and even harder to rely on. But despite her better judgment, Phoenix is attracted to Callum. And he's promising Phoenix a summer she'll never forget. Can she trust him? Or is this just another lie?

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This is the second book I found on NetGalley. I don't really like the premise since the guy is the hot and cold attitude. I'm tired of those guys in books. 


Alex, Approximately 
by Jenn Bennett


The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.
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I actually TBR'd this book before I went on my search. I look over on the left in my Goodreads and shake my head. This is the one book I really want to read. I love everything about it and expect great things. The cover makes me excited for summer.


Changes in Latitudes
by Jen Malone


A "road" trip romance that takes place at sea!

All Cassie wants is to get some solid ground under her feet following the shock of her parents' divorce. So when she learns of her mom's plans to take Cassie and her brother, Drew, on a four-month sailing trip from Oregon to Mexico, she's stunned. There is absolutely nothing solid about the Pacific Ocean. 

Cassie is furious. And nervous. It's been hard enough keeping Drew sheltered from what Cassie knows about her mother's role in breaking their family apart, but living in such close quarters threatens to push her anger past its tipping point. Enter Jonah, a whip-smart deckhand who's as gorgeous as he is flirtatious. Cassie tries to keep him at a distance, but the more time they spend together--wandering San Francisco, riding beachside roller coasters, and exploring the California coastline--the harder it is to fight the attraction. 

​Cassie wants to let herself go, but her parents' split has left her feeling adrift in a sea of questions she can't even begin to answer. Can she forgive her mom? Will home ever feel the same? Should she take a chance on Jonah? With life's unpredictable tides working against her, Cassie must decide whether to swim against them... or dive right in.

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I just saw this before I was going to make this post. Sarah wrote a review on it. I like the imagery. I don't know about the living on a sailing trip part. I've noticed if I haven't read something similar to it before it's usually a no. 


Have you read or heard of any of these books?
What books with water on the cover have you enjoyed?

Friday, May 19, 2017

Beautiful Broken Girls by Kim Savage

Standalone. Farrar, Straus, & Giroux (Feb. 2017) NetGalley
Remember the places you touched me.

The parts of Mira Cillo that Ben touched are etched on his soul.

Palm. Hair. Chest. Cheek. Lips. Throat. Heart.

It was the last one that broke her. After her death, Mira sends Ben on a quest for notes she left in the seven places where they touched—notes that explain why she and her sister, Francesca, drowned themselves in the quarry. How Ben interprets those notes has everything to do with the way he was touched by a bad coach years before. But the truth behind the girls’ suicides is far more complicated, involving a dangerous infatuation, a deadly miracle, and a crushing lie.


Well, I'm done with whatever that was. This is the second time that Kim Savage leaves me baffled. I think she tries to make things so shocking that sometimes it translates to readers and other times it doesn't. I honestly thought the story was going to end differently. These girls are BROKEN to the max. I was in a very confused state of what? after reading this. I wanted to process it a little more before I wrote a review but I still feel lost. 

Ben is our main character and he is written extremely well. I feel like I got into his mind. Something I have to admit is that although Savage's book can get crazy - she knows how to write. I just don't know what to make of her books when I'm done with them. That's a sort of compliment. If you've read this or After the Woods you would know what I meant. Any who, back to Ben. Ben has a lot going on with him. There are things from his past that come up not including the person he loved writing notes about why she and her sister killed themselves. He also starts dealing with things that happened to him as a child. Ben was in love with Mira. Mira started retreating from everyone including him after the death of their cousin and no one knows why except the two sisters. Francesca also started retreating but her and her sister? VERY different people.

As Ben starts finding more and more messages he starts losing himself. While that is happening flashbacks of him with Mira as well as the sisters progression to their deaths are intertwined within the story. You can not guess right now what was going on with the sisters because it is so left field that I still don't understand it. If you constantly want to be in a state of what is going on? boy is this the book for you. It all circles around to Francesca. Francesca doesn't like Ben. Ben doesn't really care for her either but Mira does. She's concerned for her well being but no one in the family talked about what was going on so Ben's mind starts going around the possibilities.

There is no doubt in my mind that Savage can write an incredible story that will keep you guessing. For some reason the ratings on this book are low on Goodreads. I rated it three stars myself because it was even more confusing than the last book which is good and bad. I love this story to an extent. I don't want Savage's writing to change by all means because her endings remind me a little of Robert Cormier who is amazing. I just wish she could be a little more clear.... but also I don't! There's a balance that needs to be met. I just can't describe anything correctly with her books. I do know I will continually look for more of Savage's writings because she's amazing and messes with my head. Although, I've been very contradictory towards my review of this book I do recommend reading it especially if you are looking for something out of the ordinary. 

Beautiful Broken Girls will leave you guessing what's real and what's not.

Antisocial by Jillian Blake

Standalone. Delacorte Press (May 2017) NetGalley
6 hours and 30 minutes

Alexandria Prep is hacked in this whodunit set in the age of social media and the cloud.

Senior spring at Alexandria Prep was supposed to be for sleeping through class and partying with friends. But for Anna Soler, it’s going to be a lonely road. She’s just been dumped by her gorgeous basketball star boyfriend—with no explanation. Anna’s closest friends, the real ones she abandoned while dating him, are ignoring her. The endearing boy she’s always had a complicated friendship with is almost too sympathetic.

But suddenly Anna isn’t the only one whose life has been upended. Someone is determined to knock the kings and queens of the school off their thrones: one by one, their phones get hacked and their personal messages and photos are leaked. At first it’s funny—people love watching the dirty private lives of those they envy become all too public. 

Then the hacks escalate. Dark secrets are exposed, and lives are shattered. Chaos erupts at school. As Anna tries to save those she cares about most and to protect her own secrets, she begins to understand the reality of our always-connected lives: 

Sometimes we share too much.


Antisocial is the epitome of what teenagers have to deal with in the age of technology and social media. I was never someone who cared for social media in high school or even now and it's not like I was in high school too long ago. It's now that I'm in my twenties that I see what a big impact social media has cost us. People have committed suicide and destroyed lives because of what has been said on their screen. It's something I've only begun to understand until now. How there are people out there who feel isolated and alone with no one to talk to. And when you make a mistake where there was a picture taken - your life could be over. Antisocial helps you see this and more.

Anna, is a complicated person to like. She's come groveling back to her friends after she abandoned them for her boyfriend who happened to be popular. They shared similarities that no one else acknowledged - an intense social anxiety. I just happened to be watching this long video/documentary yesterday where it had multiple people with different forms of mental illness including Social Anxiety Disorder. Now it's different from really not wanting to go to places or see people. It's feeling extremely scared and worried in social situations with feelings of people judging you while you are judging yourself even more than I feel possible. We know the feeling growing up but it's way more intense. So I saw Anna this way and felt for her. But then she just left her friends. Stopped talking to them for no reason. 

See? She's a complicated person to like.

During the story, there is a person or people that start hacking important players and start ruining their lives. I mean, they deserve it but it has a collateral effect on Anna's friend. More and more people's secrets are being exposed. Anna is in fear of what she's written about her friends. Ugly things that she didn't really mean. Her friends are a wide cast of diverse kids (like in real life *shocked face*) including a hacker, a tough girl, a quiet girl, a popular kid, and a sweet guy. Most of them have different backgrounds other than just white which I appreciated. Almost all of them, including Anna, have secrets that they don't want to come out.

I really enjoyed Antisocial for its mystery, diversity, plot, and characters. All of it felt very possible to me. It was a very real story. On the other hand, I also felt there was a lot of generational talk that I didn't particularly care for but when everything came together - I was happy to have read this. There could have been a little more to make this truly amazing since I felt towards the end things began to get weird and sideways. Unexpectedly, I did feel profoundly unhappy reading the last few chapters. Antisocial shows us how mean and cruel we can be. That we are people who carry secrets and lies but we also make mistakes. Despite everything, people aren't just their secrets and mistakes. There is so much more of us than what we or others portray us to be.