August Wrap Up

What Happened in August

I cannot believe summer is over! Although it feels like summer has flown by, I am very excited to start high school this month and get back into a more rigorous mindset.

What I’m Reading51nha5jnbll-_sx329_bo1204203200_

Right now, I’m reading Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Gyasi’s stunning debut traces a Ghanian family through three centuries, from Ghana to America. I love the writing of Gyasi’s debut, but sometimes I feel like I am reading multiple interconnected short stories, not one novel.

What I Blogged About

Review: The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana. I adore the world Khorana created by drawing from Indian and Greek influences. However, The Library of Fates was predictable and at times contrived.

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. Menon’s debut was a perfect beach read- engaging and funny, but not lacking depth.

Blog: Who and What I’m Reading. Here, I analyzed what I read and why I read it. I found that I read books by a disturbingly low amount of people of color and men, so this month that’s all I’m reading.

Review: Warcross by Marie Lu. I am a huge fan of Lu, and her latest, set partly in Tokyo, and partly in a sprawling virtual reality, did not disappoint.

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The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

Go ahead, judge this book by its cover. I mean, with a cover as beautiful as The Library of Fates, it’s hard not to. Khorana’s second novel is filled with folklore and has truly incredible world building, however fell short due to predictability.

32766747Most of all, The Library of Fates was smart. Presenting themes such as drug addiction and the intersection of feminism and colonialism in a way that made me feel like I was learning without being lectured to. Additionally, Khorana uses historical context to better the reader’s idea of the fictional country the novel was set in. This context was fantastic at times, but occasionally I felt like I was missing a bigger picture since I do not have extensive knowledge of the Silk Road.

The Library of Fates follows Amrita, princess of Shalingar, a fictional country that is similar not only in name to Shangri-La. Amrita lives a privileged yet extremely sheltered life in the royal palace- so sheltered that her own people do not even know her face. However, Amrita would do anything for her people, so when Sikander, a Macedonian conqueror, comes to Shalingar, Amrita agrees to marry him so he does not colonize her country. Before she can do this, Sikander attacks the palace, killing Amrita’s father and forcing her to flee in an attempt to warn her people. Continue reading

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Recently, I attended an author event where the author (I’m pretty sure it was Victoria Schwab, but don’t quote me), described that the part of a novel that mattered most was not the first line, or the first chapter, but the very end. She used the analogy of a dinner. If you have an amazing meal, but a lackluster final course, you won’t remember the dinner as amazing. You’ll remember that so-so final taste in your mouth. Her sentiment articulates how I feel about Sandhya Menon’s debut, When Dimple Met Rishi.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetIn my July Wrap Up, I described When Dimple Met Rishi as the perfect summer read, and, for the most part, it is. At least until the last twenty pages.  Suddenly, the novel changes from a funny account of an arranged marriage, into a story idealized to the point of disbelief. Parents are suddenly accepting, characters realize their mistakes, colleges mysteriously loosen their admission requirements, and all is well in the world. Especially after what had been such a lovely debut, I was disappointed.

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Warcross by Marie Lu

I absolutely love Marie Lu, but her Young Elites trilogy was not my favorite. They felt boring and a little contrived, which was why I was so worried when I began to read Warcross. Additionally, Warcross centers around video games, a topic I am completely uneducated in. But, her Legend trilogy has remained a constant favorite of mine, so I picked Warcross up.

Initially, all my worst fears were confirmed. Warcross begins with bounty hunter Emika Chen flying around Times Square, following people who have amassed steep debts gambling on the popular video game warcross. From the moment Emika began describing the beauty of Times Square, it was clear Lu lives in Los Angeles.

“Everyone- everyone– played Warcross. Some played it intensely, forming teams and battling for hours. Others played by… lounging on a virtual beach… Still others played by wearing their glasses while walking … showing off their virtual pet tigers…. However people played, it became a way of life.”

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July Wrap Up

What Happened This Month

I cannot believe it’s August already! July seems to have flown by. Many books I’m excited about came out this month, such as Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana. Also, at the bookstore I worked at, I worked an event with Joyce Carol Oates, which was incredible.

40B239F2-556B-4B10-96B9-99D9C85906A4.jpgWhat I’m Reading Right Now

I’m reading When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. I’ve been searching for the perfect summer read and I think I’ve just about found it. Unexpectedly funny and heartfelt, Menon’s debut is perfect for a beach day. Although I’m not done with When Dimple Met Rishi, I have high hopes. Stay tuned!

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Reviewing Writer’s Block

Ah, writer’s block- the Achilles heel of every author. I do not consider myself an author, but as of late I have been suffering from what can only be described as writer’s block. I have been writing online book reviews since 2010. My blog has changed themes, genres, even platforms, multiple times (I’m still a little nostalgic for the original castle themed Tumblr). Since I’ve moved to WordPress, I’ve added and taken away multiple cool features. I even tried a short lived stint on Instagram.

But something has not quite felt right. I am at a transition point in my life, so I figure that I’m probably at a transition point in my blog, too. Although my medium and writing ability has changed, the format of my review has remained pretty constant. After doing the same thing for nearly seven years, I think I want to switch it up.

I don’t know how my reviews will change when I’m at boarding school. I might try video reviews, drawings, more formal, editorial styles, or something else completely new.  I do know however that my website and writing will change in some major ways.

Now, don’t get worried All I’m saying is stay tuned and stay interested (and if you’re not, tell me why). I’m excited to try new things.

Be True to Me by Adele Griffin

It is rare for me to be unable to finish a book. I hate that feeling of guilt over the abandonment, that creeping thought that maybe it gets better, there’s just a slow build up. But, I could not bring myself to finish Be True to Me. I kept waiting for something to happen- some action, or drama, or something, but nothing did. I read until page 148, and all that happened was a never ending saga of rich girls whining and pining after a guy who, in my opinion, was pretty awfully stringing them along.

“Summer romances were made out of ice cream and cotton candy, intensely sweet before they melted into nothing. But I’d never thought of Gil as a summer thing.”

Initially, I was most excited to read Be True to Me because of the setting, Fire Island, NY, in 1976. But, I found the writing inauthentic and clumsy, like someone born in 2010 trying to describe 1990. The only difference between now and Griffin’s ’70s was a few phrases and cultural references. This is probably what disappointed me most about the novel. I am a sucker for a good setting- and lazy, not-entirely lucid days in a wealthy New York vacation spot sounded just perfect. Unfortunately Be True to Me was nothing special- the island too bland to have any summertime mystique.

Putting a book down is always hard for me to do. But when it came to Be True To Me, I just couldn’t keep reading. The characters were annoying and one dimensional, the setting not far enough removed from reality. My search for the perfect beach read is not over yet though- next on my list is Once and For All by Sarah Dessen.

A Million Junes by Emily Henry

A Million Junes was the last book I read in Morocco for a couple reasons. The first: I didn’t really want to read it. I didn’t love Henry’s debut, so I thought A Million Junes might be similar. Second: A Million Junes is pitched as a romance novel, which is not exactly the genre I gravitate towards. Third: This reason’s a little silly, but it’s true. All of the other books I brought were paperbacks, and I didn’t want to lug around a heavy hardback book in my bag. But, eventually, with no other options left, I became deprived of words on the page, and picked up A Million Junes.

While A Million Junes is technically a romance novel, the heart of the story is about a struggle all teenagers go through- growing up and reconciling their parents’ views with their own. June, the protagonist, falls in love with a boy from a family her late father believes is evil. June cannot fit this description with her boyfriend, Sal, who she feels is one of the only people making an effort to understand her. At the end of the day though, her father is dead. He can’t stop her.

“Grief is an unfillable hole in your body. It should be weightless, but it’s heavy. Should be cold, but it burns. Should, over time, close up, but instead it deepens.”

Simultaneously, June is entering senior year in high school. While her friends are all planning out college, careers, and beyond, she is content staying at home. She feels the need to be a homebody, a traditional, scrappy, farmer’s daughter. This is everything Sal and his family are not- which is what seems to fuel the divide. June is forced to reconsider her whole life when she meets- not a boy, don’t worry- her creative writing teacher. Suddenly, she has an outlet and a way to explore her world. Maybe leaving the farm her family has owned for generations wouldn’t be too bad after all.

A Million Junes is the story of a girl caught between two worlds- where she is and where she might want to go. While there are whimsical elements to the story (a pink ghost, dandelion fluff that lets you jump into memories), I found the most touching moments were grounded in realism. Henry’s second novel felt real in a way her first did not- it is clear to me she has grown enormously as a writer.

The Burning Girl by Claire Messud

“I just don’t like how she feels the need to describe every chair in the room when writing,” a friend told me when describing Harvard professor and Guggenheim fellow Claire Messud’s latest. With this review in mind, I went into The Burning Girls was doubt on my mind. Yet, I was pleasantly surprised. It may just be a difference in preference, but I really enjoyed the detail Messud wrote in- I feel it added layers and dimension to the suburban Massachusetts town she was describing.

The Burning Girls is the story of a crumbling friendship as told by teenage Julia, who feels left behind by her childhood best friend Cassie. The two meet as toddlers and the story follows them through tenth grade as their dynamic shifts and they grow into their adult selves. Julia lives a predictable life- the middle class daughter of a dentist, she is comfortable but always reaching for something more. It seems she is drawn to Cassie because of the unpredictability she adds to Julia’s life. Cassie has a tumultuous home life and a lack of foresight- when her hand is mauled by a dog in the beginning of the novel the circumstances make it no surprise to the reader. The two grow apart in high school. Cassie falls into a party-girl persona and obsession with someone she will never have. Julia follows the path lined up for her- success on the school’s speech team, nice boyfriend, new friends with similar interests and aspirations.

“Sometimes I felt that growing up and being a girl was about learning to be afraid. Not paranoid, exactly, but always alert and aware, like checking out the exits in the movie theater or the fire escape in a hotel.”


It is nice to see a realistic depiction of growing into yourself as a teenager written by an adult, but something just felt off in the novel. I found the observations about growing up as a girl relatable and introspective, but the sometimes the depictions of teenagers felt outdated. Cassie and Julia talked almost like modern teenagers, but not quite. They almost acted in the same way as modern teens, but not quite. The liked the same things as modern teens, but not quite. At times, The Burning Girls felt like a novel written about teenagers by an adult.