Book Review: The Summer of Jordi Perez (ARC)

Book Review: The Summer of Jordi PerezBook: The Summer of Jordi Perez (And The Best Hamburger in Los Angeles)

Author: Amy Spalding

Genre: YA / realistic fiction

Rating: 4/5

What it’s about:  Abby Ives is pretty sure she’s the sassy best friend in the romcom of her best friend Maliah’s life—and she’s okay with that, honestly! The only girl she’s ever crushed on has a boyfriend, so she’ll just stay sort of happily single until she moves to New York to start her fashion career, thank you very much. But then she starts her summer internship at Lemonberry, her all-time favorite store, and is stuck sharing it—and the possibility of a job there come fall—with Jordi Perez, a quiet photographer who may or may not have committed arson according to Maliah. Unfortunately she’s also very cute and passionate, and, oh no, Abby’s definitely falling for her. Even better? It seems like Jordi’s falling for her, too. Between that and the fact that she’s helping total dudebro Jax, her “friend-in-law,” look for the best burgers in LA and learning that he’s actually maybe pretty okay… Well, let’s just say it’s shaping up to be a pretty interesting summer.

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Book Review: The Boat People (ARC)

Book Review: The Boat People | rachelbrittain.comBook: The Boat People

Author: Sharon Bala

Genre: realistic fiction

Rating: 4.5/5

What it’s about: When a boat of Tamil refugees arrives in Canada they think they’ve finally found a place of peace and safety–but fear, intolerance, and bureaucratic political systems get in the way. The five hundred odd refugees fleeing torture, death or forcible conscription in Sri Lanka find themselves imprisoned and stuck as they sit through hearing after hearing to determine if they can even qualify for refugee status.

Mahindan, a single father whose wife died back in Sri Lanka, mourns his separation from his seven-year old son who is put in the women’s prison. Priya, a second generation immigrant and law student, finds herself getting invested in the cases of the refugees even though she always wanted to go into corporate law (and is pretty sure she was only selected for this assignment because of her own Tamil heritage). Grace is an adjudicator overseeing the cases of the refugees and struggling against the fear that she might let a terrorist into the country–despite the fact that her mother keeps comparing their plight to that of Grace’s grandparents, Japanese immigrants who lost everything to the government in World War II. Their stories intertwine in heart wrenching ways as we slowly begin to see that nothing is quite as simple as it seems.

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Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down

Book: Turtles All the Way Down

Author: John Green

Genre: YA / fiction

Rating: 4/5

What it’s about: Aza spends most of her time thinking about the gut bacteria that makes up her microbiome and whether she might have contracted some kind of terrible infection. It’s not that she wants to think about that, it’s just that she can’t help it. Her anxiety medication and therapy help, but sometimes the thought spirals are inescapable. When the elusive billionaire father of her childhood friend goes missing–along with a sizeable reward for any information–her best friend, Daisy, convinces her they should Veronica Mars that situation. Aza reconnects with Davis who just wants to find someone who wants to be his friend for him and not his father’s money. Aza grows closer to Davis as they all search for the truth. But as her thought spirals worsen, Aza may not even be able to take care of herself, much less be in a real relationship with Davis or solve the mystery of his missing father.

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Book Review: Tash Hearts Tolstoy

Book Review: Tash Hearts Tolstoy | rachelbrittain.comBook: Tash Hearts Tolstoy

Author: Kathryn Ormbee

Genre: YA / fiction

Rating: 4/5

What it’s about: Tash loves two things: Tolstoy and filmmaking. Unhappy Families, the low-budget web series she’s co-creating with her best friend Jack, is the perfect culmination of those loves. When a famous vlogger mentions Unhappy Families in a video, their views suddenly go through the roof. But this newfound fame comes with a lot of stress and haters, too. Tash has to figure out how to balance being a good friend and daughter with managing a breakout web series. What would Leo do? Other than help a bunch of serfs and write a few best sellers, that is. Tash struggles to keep it all together as the filming for Unhappy Families wraps up, they get a nomination for a kind-of big deal internet award, and she tries to navigate unexpected crushes and complicated family relationships.

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Book Review: The Beauty That Remains (ARC)

Book Review: The Beauty That Remains | rachelbrittain.comBook: The Beauty That Remains

Author: Ashley Woodfolk

Genre: realistic fiction / YA

Rating: 4.5/5

What it’s about: Autumn, Shay, and Logan are connected through music—and grief. Autumn, who lost her best friend just weeks ago, is struggling to find herself without Tavia here to guide her. Shay’s twin sister Sasha died after years of fighting Leukemia, but the debilitating panic attacks she’s trying to hide from her family and friends are threatening to undo her. Logan is drinking and lashing out, unable to cope or heal after the suicide of his ex-boyfriend Bram. He hasn’t been able to write a song since. They all used to be connected through Unraveling Lovely, the epic band put together by Logan, managed by Shay, and always cheered on by Autumn. With so many griefs and secrets separating them now, will music be enough to bring them back to themselves and maybe even back together?

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Book Review: Everything Leads to You

Book: Everything Leads to You

Author: Nina LaCour

Genre: realistic fiction / YA

Rating: 5/5

What it’s about: When Emi’s brother leaves his apartment to her and her best friend Charlotte for the summer, he makes them promise one thing: to do something epic here before he returns. Emi isn’t really sure what that might be. As a wunderkind set designer, she spends most of her time as an intern on movie sets, but when she and Charlotte discover a letter from a silver screen film legend it leads them to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi’s ever met before, and the two have an almost instant connection. But Ava’s tumultuous past and Emi’s ideas about what makes a perfect hollywood romance complicate things. Will Emi be able to make things right, get the girl, and fulfill her promise of doing something epic, all before the end of summer?

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Book Review: Sing, Unburied, Sing

Book: Sing, Unburied, Sing

Author: Jesmyn Ward

Genre: realistic fiction / magical realism

Rating: 5/5

What it’s about: Three generations, just trying to live their lives in rural Mississippi: Jojo, who doesn’t expect much from his mother who he calls Leonie, and watches out for his little sister with a quiet devotion. Leonie, who loves her kids in her own way, but can’t ever figure out how to love them right– or to stop seeing the ghost of her dead brother. River, Leonie’s father who takes care of the kids and is still haunted by his days as a prisoner in Parchman. When Michael, Leonie’s white boyfriend, is released from Parchman Prison, she takes decides to take the kids on a road trip to get their father. Haunted by the metaphorical and literal ghosts of their pasts, they all struggle to move forward and heal from the wounds they’ve inflicted on each other.

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Book Review: Flight Season (ARC)

Book: Flight Season

Author: Marie Marquardt

Genre: YA / realistic fiction

Rating: 4/5

What it’s about: Vivi, a college student still mourning the loss of her father, is only one internship away from failing out of school. TJ works at the hospital by day, trying to finish up his nursing school requirements, and for his family’s Brazilian churrascaria the rest of the time. They meet at the hospital, and TJ almost takes an almost immediate disliking to Vivi, the rich Yale pre-med student who faints at the sight of blood.

Along the way, Vivi meets Ángel, the Guatemalan teenager dying from heart failure and seemingly determined to make everybody else’s lives a living hell in the process. But Vivi and Ángel share a connection in their grief, and when she’s reassigned as his translator, Ángel finds an unexpected friend in her. They , along with TJ, form an unlikely bond as Ángel tries to show the other two that they don’t actually hate each other—quite the opposite. But heart failure isn’t the only problem Ángel faces, and as much as TJ and Vivi would like to save him, they learn that sometimes all you can do it be there for the people that need you—even when doing so seems almost impossible.

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Book Review: We Are Okay

Book: We Are Okay

Author: Nina LaCour

Genre: realistic fiction / YA

Rating: 5/5

What it’s about: Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone back home since running away to college, not even her best friend Mabel. Especially not Mabel. Struggling to stay afloat in the grief and anger left in the wake of her grandfather’s death, Marin isolates herself. But even in New York, thousands of miles away from her California home, Marin can’t escape the past– or the people from it who still love her.

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Book Review: History is All You Left Me

Book: History is All You Left Me

Author: Adam Silvera

Genre: YA / realistic fiction

Rating: 4.5/5

What it’s about: For Griffin, falling in love with Theo was the easy part, it’s learning to get over him that’s so hard. Especially because now that he’s dead, his presence seems to be a haunting constant, and Theo’s boyfriend (Griffin’s former competition) isn’t half as terrible as he expected. Griffin and Jackson form an unexpected friendship as they try to mourn and heal after losing the boy they both loved, but it’s not that easy when they’re both keeping secrets– about themselves, about Theo, and maybe even about each other. As Griffin spirals, his OCD worsening exponentially in the wake of his first love’s death, he’ll have to come to terms with the history Theo left him and learn how to look to the future.  Continue reading