YA Contemporary Book Recommendations

I read a lot of YA contemporary, especially considering the fact I am not its target audience. But it is just so much fun that I can’t help myself! That being said, sometimes I feel like it is hard to find great YA contemporaries. Some are too cheesy, some don’t have enough of a plot, and some are just too immature. So today, I will be writing about my favorite YA contemporaries!

I also want to mention that I began a page where I made a list of diverse reading recommendations. It can be overwhelming to try to figure out where to begin when it comes to diversifying your reading, and I wish I would have had a similar list when I began reading more! You can find it here.

There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon

This was a recent read for me, and one of the absolute cutest books I’ve ever read. This is the companion novel to When Dimple Met Rishi, although you don’t have to read them in order. This follows Sweetie, who has constantly been told by her parents that she is not good enough because she is fat. Meanwhile, Rishi has just gotten his heart broken and is trying to get back into the dating field. Both Rishi and Sweetie have something to prove, and so they team up and decide to begin dating, despite not really having feelings for one another. This was the cutest book ever, and had such great messages about fatphobia. There was also great Indian-American representation in this (as well as Menon’s other books!)

I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee

This book follows Skye, a plus-sized, bisexual, Korean-American teenager. After auditioning for the singing and dancing portion of a K-Pop competition, Skye’s mom urges her to drop out of the dancing portion because girls her size should “not be dancers.” However, Skye continues to practice, working hard to fulfill her dream of becoming the next K-Pop star. I absolutely loved Skye as a character, and the representation in this book was also wonderful!

Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

I love all of Tiffany D. Jackson’s books, but this one is by far my favorite! This follows Enchanted, a rising R&B star. After becoming noticed by the 26 year old uber-famous Korey Fields, he takes Enchanted under his wing, claiming he will help her become successful. Instead, Enchanted finds herself trapped under Korey’s influence. After a night gone wrong, Enchanted wakes up with a dead Korey Fields, and everyone claims she killed him, even though she has no memory of the night before. There are quite a few triggers in this book to be aware of, but it was so addicting and had me sobbing by the end. I would highly recommend this.

Clap WHen yOu Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Like Tiffany D. Jackson, I love all of Elizabeth Acevedo’s books, but this one is my personal favorite. This follows two sisters who don’t know about one another, one in NYC and one in The Dominican Republic. After their father dies in a tragic plane crash, they discover that their father has been living a double life. This is a book written in verse, but don’t be intimidated by that! Elizabeth Acevedo’s writing is so easy to devour and is actually what got me into poetry in the first place.

Now That I’ve Found You by Kristina Forest

This was such a cute read, and one that has stuck with me long after reading it! This follows Evie Jones, a rising actress in LA. However, after a betrayal from her “best friend,” Evie gets blacklisted by all Hollywood producers. The only person who can save her career? Her grandmother, film legend Evelyn Conaway. After traveling to NYC to get her grandmother to help, Evie panics when she realizes she is missing, just days before a huge awards ceremony. I loved the familial relationships in this book, and the Hollywood/NYC aspect of this book was so fun! There is also a super adorable romance.

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

This is a super interesting story, focusing on 3 siblings who have been adopted by different families at birth. Grace, decides she wants to find her birth mother after giving up her own child for adoption. Instead, she finds Maya, who has never felt like she fits in with her new family, and Joaquin, who has been in and out of the foster system his entire life. It was so amazing seeing these 3 siblings team up trying to find their birth mom, and how all three of them had such unique stories. This was such a quick read, but also a very important one that left me very emotional.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Tahereh Mafi is the author of the Shatter Me series, and I believe this is her first contemporary (she has another coming out soon!). This book takes place a year after 9/11, and follows Shirin, a 16 year old Muslim girl. This book essentially follows Shirin’s journey as she deals with Islamophobia. There was also a cute romance in this book!

Kisses and Croissants by Anne-SophiE Jouhanneau

The last book on this list was definitely one of the cutest books I’ve read this year! This follows Mia, who is an American studying at a prestigious ballet school in Paris over the summer. Mia doesn’t have time for distractions, and vows to dedicate all her time to ballet. But that becomes very difficult after meeting Louis, who happens to be the son of her dance instructor. I thought the romance was so cute, and really encapsulated first love so well. Even so, my favorite part of this book was the dancing element. I love ballet and it was so cool reading a book where it was centered! I also loved the descriptions of Paris, and really felt transported there.

Let me know what your favorite YA contemporaries are in the comments below!! I am always looking for new recommendations!

Spring Reading Recommendations

Spring is finally upon us, so today I have created a list of some great books to read this season! I often find myself in the mood for fun, light reads in the spring, since I love diving into high fantasy in the fall/winter.

The SUn is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Nicola Yoon is one of my favorite authors, and this is one of my favorite books of all time! This is a YA contemporary following two teenagers in New York City. Natasha is 12 hours away from being deported to Jamaica, and is on a mission to do everything she can to keep her family in the States. During her journey, she runs into Daniel, who is on a mission to make her believe in love in just 24 hours. This novel is fast paced, addicting, funny, and heart breaking. I have read it twice and would love to pick it up again this spring!

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

I love all of the books in Sandhya Menon’s When Dimple Met Rishi series, but this one was definitely my favorite! This follows Dimple, who is longing to graduate high school and move far away from her hometown and over-bearing mother, who insists that Dimple needs to find an ideal Indian husband. After her mother shockingly agrees to allow Dimple to attend a computer coding camp over the summer, she finds out it was another ploy of her’s, to try to set her up with Rishi. This book was so much fun, and I loved the Indian culture interspersed throughout it!

Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price

This is a fairly recent read for me, and one that I loved so much! This is a Pride and Prejudice retelling, following Lizzie, an aspiring lawyer. After involving herself in a murder case, Lizzie is convinced the wrong person has been arrested, and sets out to solve the case herself. However, the snobby Mr. Darcy is constantly in her way, making her job so much harder. This book was described as a mix between My Lady Jane and Stalking Jack the Ripper, and I think that is a perfect representation of this book! While the content matter is a bit dark, it was written in such a fun way that made this book so addicting!

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

This has been one of my favorite books of the year, and I think this fun, fast-paced novel was a perfect read for spring! Alosa is the daughter of the most feared pirate in the ocean. After being deliberately kidnapped by her enemies, she is sent on a mission to find a missing piece of a map that will lead her to the sea’s most coveted treasure. If you like enemies to lovers, action, and badass heroines, this story is for you!

I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you’ve probably seen this book around before, because it was one of my favorite contemporaries of 202! This follows Skye, who is a bisexual, plus-sized, Korean-American teenager. Skye loves dancing, but has always been told that it isn’t for her because of her body type. After a K-Pop competition comes to her city, she auditions, and totally nails it! However, she is still constantly being pushed back because of her weight. Skye was such a fun character, and it was amazing seeing representation for plus-sized women in this book!

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

The last book on this list is pretty hyped up, but for a very good reason! This follows 18 year old Imani, who is trying to enjoy her senior year of high school and juggling being a new mother. Imani loves to spend time in the kitchen, and dreams of opening her own restaurant to provide for her and her daughter. After a spot opens in her school’s culinary trip to Spain, Imani dreams of going but knows she can’t afford it with the cost of raising a daughter. While this book wasn’t super plot driven, it was still a beautiful story, one that I am fully intending to re-read over the summer!

What are some book recommendations you all have for spring? Let me know in the comments so I can add them to my TBR!

Book Review: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

“And I think about all the things we could be
if we were never told our bodies were not built for them.”

Elizabeth Acevedo, The Poet X

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Year: 2018
Page Count: 368
Format: Paperback
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (From Goodreads):

A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

I read this book for the first time last May, while I was in the midst of a reading slump. While I enjoyed it then, I enjoyed it even more the second time around!

This is a novel in verse, which was definitely a bit intimidating at first, but this novel is definitely nothing to be scared of! Elizabeth Acevedo’s writing is just so readable and touching.

From the surface level, I really didn’t think I would be able to relate to Xiomara: a Black teenaged girl living in NYC, daughter of immigrant parents. However, there were so many times in this book where I read a line, and it put my exact feelings into words that I could never come up with on my own. There were so many great quotes in this novel, and I now have so many markers and sticky notes throughout the entire thing (I ran out of sticky notes because there were so many great passages).

I think the parts of this novel that I resonated with the most were the passages that addressed beauty standards for woman. There were so many great lines that literally brought tears to my eyes. Just a few because they are too beautiful not to include in this review:

“And I think about all the things we could be if we were never told our bodies were not built for them.”

“When your body takes up more room than your voice, you are always the target of well-aimed rumors.”

“It happens when I wear shorts. It happens when I wear jeans. It happens when I stare at the ground. It happens when I stare ahead. It happens when I’m walking. It happens when I’m sitting. It happens when I’m on my phone. It simply never stops.”

From these quotes, it is so evident how beautiful Acevedo’s writing style is. I just wanted to soak up every word and ponder over the text. Even though it is a poetry book, it was not intimidating at all, and really made me want to explore more novels in verse.

I wish I could do this novel justice, because it was just such an incredible reading experience. This coming-of-age story is so relatable and beautiful. I will read literally anything Elizabeth Acevedo writes because she is really one of the most talented authors I have ever gotten to read.

6 Books That Are Worth The Hype- Part 1

If you’re at all like me, you may be skeptical of hyped books. Some of my most disappointing reads this year have been books that were so hyped up, that I was sure I would love them. So when I didn’t, I was quite let down. So, I have acquired a list of books that did live up to the hype for me!

Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin

I read this book just last month, and I put it off so long because I didn’t think there was any way I would like this as much as everyone else does. However, this book very much exceeded my expectations! The atmosphere was so dark and I loved the dual perspectives that this book follows! I would definitely recommend this book if you are skeptical about picking it up! You can read my full review here.

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

This book took the entire Internet by storm when it first came out, and so I was hesitant to pick it up because there was no way I would like it as much as everyone else. But guys- this was the cutest thing I’ve ever read! This royal romance has everything you could ever want in it, and will leave you swooning. It has definitely been my favorite contemporary of 2020 so far! You can read my full review here.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

As soon as I started reading this book, I knew it was going to be a 5 star read. Sabaa Tahir is a master story teller, weaving in an intricate world with characters you would die for. This is a book set in a world inspired by Ancient Rome, and follows a female slave and male soldier in dual POV. This is definitely another favorite of mine for 2020, and I can’t wait to read book 2 soon! You can read my full review here.

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

This is another book I’m sure you have seen around, and rightfully so because it was so cute! This is a small town f/f romance that follows Liz as she campaigns to be prom queen so she can move out of rural Indiana. Growing up in a small town I definitely resonated a lot in this story, and watching Liz grow as a character was so much fun. You can read my full review here.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

You know, we can honestly just put all of Elizabeth Acevedo’s books on this list, but Clap When You Land is my favorite so far! I’m sure you know, but this book is written in verse and follows two sisters who discover one another after their father is killed in a tragic plane crash. This book will pull at your heart strings. I am still not okay and I read this in June!

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Even though I read this last year, it still definitely has a place in my heart as one of my favorite books of all time. This follows a band called The Six in the 70s as they make begin their rise in fame and their eventual downfall. This book is told in an interview style format and it really felt like I was reading about a real band. I didn’t even know it was fictional until about halfway through! I would highly recommend the audiobook as well, because it has an amazing full cast of characters.

I definitely plan on doing a part 2 of this, so let me know what you think about these books! Were they worth the hype for you?

Book Recommendations: YA Contemporaries

Recently I have been reading the absolute cutest YA contemporaries! I am always looking for excuses to gush about my favorite books, so I have compiled a list of a few of my favorites.

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Okay, so unless you’ve been living under a rock this summer, I’m sure you’ve heard of this book. Let me tell you, if you are on the fence, this book is definitely worth the hype! This book follows Liz, growing up in a small town that is obsessed with prom. In order to get out of rural Indiana, Liz needs to win the prom queen scholarship that will get her into med school. Along the way, she also finds herself falling for another prom queen contestant. You can read my full review here.

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

This was hands down probably one of the cutest books I have read this year. This book follows Jack and Pepper, two teenagers who are engaging in a Twitter war over a stolen grilled cheese recipe. Suddenly, when the entire Internet starts shipping them, things get weird and crushes begin to form. This is a book I definitely wish I would have read in high school and is just a quick and fun read! You can read my full review here.

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

This Pride and Prejudice retelling was super entertaining and just such a great read! When a new family moves in across the street, Zuri is immediately put off by their older son, Darius. However, as they get to know each other, Zuri realizes although they come from different worlds, maybe they have more in common than she thinks. I listened to the audiobook of this novel and it was quick and impactful!

With The Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Honestly, I really could have put any Elizabeth Acevedo book on this list because she is definitely becoming my favorite author. This is her only book not written in verse, and is therefore a bit like the more traditional YA contemporary. This book follows Imani, a teen mom who aspires to be a chef. When a the opportunity to practice culinary arts in Spain arises, Imani feels guilty for wanting to follow her dreams when she has her daughter an abuela to worry about. I haven’t read many books about high school moms so this was definitely an eye-opener and super heart-warming!

Slay by Brittney Morris

This book has also been wildly popular in the last few months, and rightfully so! Kiera is the developer for Slay, a video game created for the Black gaming community so they can have a safe space. However, after a murder takes place because of events on the game, the news starts referring to Slay as hateful and dangerous. Not only that, but a troll is threatening to sue Kiera for anti-Black discrimination. Now, Kiera finds herself having to fight to keep her game and legacy alive.

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

This is definitely one of my favorite reads this year and I don’t see many people talking about it! Grace knows she was adopted, but it’s not until she gives up her own baby for adoption that she goes on a mission to find her birth family. She find her sister, Maya, who doesn’t feel like she fits in with her adopted family, and her brother, Joaquin, who has been in and out of the foster system his whole life. They create an unlikely bond and discover what family really means.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez

This is a book I have already read twice in the past year and will definitely read again in the future! Julia struggles to live up to her parent’s expectations, especially when her sister Olga is the golden child. While her parents want Julia to be submissive and stay home after graduation, she has plans to attend college and get out of the Chicago suburbs. After a tragic accident leaves Olga dead, Julia realizes maybe Olga wasn’t the perfect daughter she was believed to be. As the family grieves Olga’s death, Julia’s mother becomes stricter than ever and refuses to understand Julia’s need to leave the city.

Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

This is a Romeo and Juliet retelling told from Rosaline’s perspective, and will leave you smiling! Megan has always been the director in her high school theatre department, but needs an acting credit to get into college. To her shock (and horror), Megan is cast as Juliet in their high school’s production of Romeo and Juliet. After becoming enamored with the new stagehand, Megan asks playwright friend Owen to help her win him over. This is a story that high school theatre kids will definitely relate to!

Hopefully this gave you all some good recommendations for the future! Leave your own recommendations in the comments below!

Summer Book Haul

Hi it’s me, and surprise surprise I have no control over my book buying habits! Yesterday I counted my shelves and have a total of 121 books, with a whopping 40 of them unread. Because of that, I have decided I will not be buying any more books until my physical TBR is down to at least 20 books, and for the year of 2021 I believe I will have a goal of reaching a 0 book TBR. I know it will be tough, but it has been done before by others! In the meantime, I will be borrowing new releases from my local library.

So, hopefully this will be my last book haul for awhile! Just a warning, it is a large one, so brace yourselves.

Smash It! by Francina Simone

Luckily for me, I received this book as an e-arc from NetGalley in preparation for its September release. This is a book by Booktuber Francina Simone, whose videos I haven’t yet watched but would like to in preparation for this book! Smash It! follows Liv, a junior in high school who decides she is done fitting in with the crowd. She makes a list of goals for her junior year, including being bold, standing out, and being herself. The first thing Liv decides to do is audition for the school’s musical, and with it comes boy drama. I’m so excited for this book and may pick it up next!

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

This is a book I just read for the first time this year via audiobook. I fell so much in love with it that I needed to get my hands on a physical copy so I can read and reread it. This book is everywhere, so I’m sure everyone knows that it is written in verse. I fell in love with Elizabeth Acevedo’s writing style and can’t wait to read it again soon.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

If I’m being honest, I don’t know what this book is about. However, I know that it has blown up on social media these past few months and everyone has been raving about it. This is a book discussing racial injustices in America through the eyes of Justyce, a high school student. It is very short so hopefully I will be able to fly through it soon.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Take a Hint, Dani Brown has completely taken over the Internet, so I definitely wanted to give Get a Life, Chloe Brown a try! I have heard so many great reviews about this book, and summer always puts me in the mood for fluffy romances. In this book, Chloe has a near death experience and puts herself on a mission to “get a life,” by doing things she would’ve never dreamed of. However, she doesn’t feel like she is “rebelling” correctly and seeks help from Red. The cover is also so dreamy so I just had to pick it up when I saw it!

Anna K: A Love Story by Jenny Lee

This is one of the few books I have already read in this haul! This is a YA retelling of Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, and it is so entertaining. I already know this is going to be a book that I reread in the future. Lee’s writing style is so addictive and fun, despite telling a tragic story. You can read my full review by clicking here.

10 Things I Hate about Pinky by Sandhya Menon

This is another e-arc that I received from NetGalley! This is the 2nd Sandhya Menon book I read, and I definitely really enjoyed it. This book follows Pinky, an activist who has always been accused of caring about everything a little too much. When she finds out she has to spend her summer with her perfect cousin Dolly, Pinky teams up with Samir to convince her parents she haws found the perfect boyfriend. This book has either just been released or is to be released very soon, so be sure to check it out! You can read my full review here.

From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

This is the third Sandhya Menon book I read and was another good one! Even though I have the physical copy, I read it via audiobook and thoroughly enjoyed it. Twinkle is an aspiring film maker and wants to show the world her stories. She is also totally crushing on Neil, a jock who probably doesn’t even knows she exists. When a film festival is approaching, Neil’s twin brother Sahil offers to team up with Twinkle to create a gender-bent Dracula film, which can finally give Twinkle a name in the film industry.

There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon

So yeah, I totally decided to buy all the Sandhya Menon books I don’t already own. This is a companion novel to When Dimple Met Rishi and 10 Things I Hate About Pinky. In this book, Sweetie feels like she can never live up to her parents expectations. She’s fat, and to her parents that is a tragedy. So, Sweetie teams up with Ashish, a fellow Indian-American who can’t live up to his parents expectations. Both feel like they have to prove one another to their parents, and end up falling for each other along the way.

What if It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

This was part of a buy two get one free sale at Books-A-Million, so I just couldn’t say no. I don’t know what this book is about, except that I have heard great reviews, it takes place in New York City, and it is a m/m romance. If you haven’t been able to tell, contemporary romance is my jam during summer so hopefully I can pick this one up soon.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I know, am I even a true reader if I haven’t read this? I recently read Turtles All the Way Down and Looking for Alaska (full review here) and liked both of them enough to purchase this one. I feel like this is a book I will either love or hate, so I suppose we will see what happens.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

I have never read a Victoria Schwab book, and they get so much hype that I decided to hop on the bandwagon. I have literally no idea what this book is about, besides that it is a fantasy. I also heard the beginning is slow, but the ending makes up for it, so I guess we’ll see what happens!

The Red Queen By Victoria Aveyard

This is the final book I have to haul (if you made it this far, I’m impressed)! I am buddy reading this with a few of my cousins in the next few weeks and am anxious to see what I think about it. Again, I don’t know what this book is about, but I’ve heard that the first book of the series is good, but the following books don’t really live up to it.

I’m glad you made it to the end! I also wanted to mention that a few of these books I purchased from Book Outlet, but I will no longer be shopping there due to some of their comments about their lack of diversity in vlogger friends. If you want more information, feel free to message me or leave a comment below.

Happy reading!