Monday, November 11, 2019

Review: I Love You So Mochi (Sarah Kuhn)

I Love You So Mochi
Title: I Love You So Mochi
Series: standalone
Author: Sarah Kuhn
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: May 28, 2019
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Content Rating: Teen (kissing, a few surprise words of language)
Format Read: ARC
Find OnGoodreads
PurchaseAzon | B&N | BookDepo | Indiebound
Summary:

Perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Kasie West, I Love You So Mochi is a delightfully sweet and irrepressibly funny novel from accomplished author Sarah Kuhn.

"As sweet and satisfying as actual mochi... a tender love story wrapped up in food, fashion, and family. I gobbled it up." -- Maurene Goo, author of The Way You Make Me Feel

Kimi Nakamura loves a good fashion statement.

She's obsessed with transforming everyday ephemera into Kimi Originals: bold outfits that make her and her friends feel like the Ultimate versions of themselves. But her mother disapproves, and when they get into an explosive fight, Kimi's entire future seems on the verge of falling apart. So when a surprise letter comes in the mail from Kimi's estranged grandparents, inviting her to Kyoto for spring break, she seizes the opportunity to get away from the disaster of her life.

When she arrives in Japan, she's met with a culture both familiar and completely foreign to her. She loses herself in the city's outdoor markets, art installations, and cherry blossom festival -- and meets Akira, a cute aspiring med student who moonlights as a costumed mochi mascot. And what begins as a trip to escape her problems quickly becomes a way for Kimi to learn more about the mother she left behind, and to figure out where her own heart lies.

In I Love You So Mochi, author Sarah Kuhn has penned a delightfully sweet and irrepressibly funny novel that will make you squee at the cute, cringe at the awkward, and show that sometimes you have to lose yourself in something you love to find your Ultimate self.


*          *          *

Three Words: Fun. Flirty. Fashion.

I Love You So Mochi is a sweet teen contemporary romance about first love and finding your passion. When Kimi must face the realization that the artistic dream she's been expected to follow may not be what she wants, she visits her grandparents in Japan and with the help of a cute boy goes on a quest of self-discovery and romance.

Despite dealing with heavier subjects of estranged relatives, parental expectations, and determining one's future in a week, Kimi's awkward but relatable voice made for a light and fun read that I easily breezed through. Her parentally-conditioned obliviousness to her passion for fashion was a little frustrating but understandable, and for the most part I enjoyed following her journey to finally realize it.

Sincere and resolute Akira was the absolute sweetest, and although their mochi-flavored romance moved way too fast for me - kissing barely halfway through - given the short time-frame I acknowledge that it had to move quickly to fit in plenty of swoons. Japan is a favorite country so I loved seeing the sights and cultural comparisons in Kyoto, especially from Kimi's fashionista perspective, and it was nice to spend time somewhere other than the typically-used Tokyo.

Conclusion: Although the story and romance moved a bit too fast, I really enjoyed Kimi's passion quest and her colorful visit to favorite Japan! Recommend for travel romance lovers, especially those with a passion for fashion.

Scribble Rating
4 of 5 Scribbles


Other Reviews That Might Interest: 

Truly Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud
Maybe This Time by Kasie West
What You Always Wanted by Kristin Rae


Friday, November 1, 2019

NaNoWriMo 2019


It's that time of year again: National Novel Writing Month is upon us!

This will be my 14th consecutive year participating (wow), and I plan to make it my 10th win. I'll be writing the 2nd in my 5-book sci-fi adventure series (Project HA2), and with a partial outline at the ready this draft may actually come out decent the first time (fingers crossed).

Because I will be writing 1,667 words every day this month, my blog may go a bit quiet during November. But I'll still try to post as much as I can, and hope you'll stick with me for many more novel and manga reviews to come!

To those of you who are also participating in Nanowrimo: good luck to us all, & happy writing!

The #FridayReads Review (11/1/19)



Welcome to The #FridayReads Review, a regular Friday segment where I share what I've been reading the past week, and what I'm planning to read next! Want to join the Friday fun? Post your own #FridayReads Review and leave the link in the Comments below, or just Comment with what you've been reading!


>> CURRENTLY READING <<
Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)Wild Ones, Vol. 7 (Wild Ones, #7)

Cress by Marissa Meyer (PBK)
After my next read didn't work out (see DNF below), I couldn't help but go straight into the next Lunar book. Even for a paperback it's so heavy it hurts my hands, but the story continues to be engrossing. So excited to finally be continuing this amazing series!

Wild Ones vol. 7 by Kiyo Fujiwara (PBK)
Needed a manga fix so I decided to re-read this favorite 10-volume series for enjoyment and review. Such a fun and sweet story of young adult love with a humorous yakuza twist. Look for my review later this year!


>> DNF <<
The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co., #1)
The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (PBK)
DNF at Page 62. In brief summary, I had 4 problems with this book: the writing, the setting, the lack of initial backstory, and the dull voice. Although I can enjoy a good ghost story, I had to push myself to read as far as I did and just couldn't muster any interest in continuing Lucy's ghostly adventures. For my full DNF review, see here.


>> JUST FINISHED <<
Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (PBK)
4 Stars (re-read). This wasn't quite as enjoyable as Cinder since my dislike for 3+ POVs has only grown over the years and this one has at least 6 (I eventually lost count), but I was still reluctant to put it down and burned through it in just a few days. Still as original, vivid, and engrossing as the first time I read it, I can't recommend it and Cinder highly enough. You can read my full original review here.


>> [POSSIBLY] READING NEXT <<
(subject to change with my ever-shifting reading whims)
Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5)
Fairest by Marissa Meyer (PBK)
So I guess I'm supposed to read this one before Winter? I'm really not crazy about Levana, but I'll give it a try.


So what are you reading this week?

Monday, October 28, 2019

Review: The Mediator Series 1-6 (Meg Cabot)

Shadowland (The Mediator, #1)Ninth Key (The Mediator, #2)Reunion (The Mediator, #3)
Darkest Hour (The Mediator, #4)Haunted (The Mediator, #5)Twilight (The Mediator, #6)

Titles (in order): Shadowland, Ninth Key, Reunion, Darkest Hour, Haunted, Twilight
Series: The Mediator Series, Books 1-6
Author: Meg Cabot (some originally released under Jenny Carroll)
Publisher: Avon Books
Release Date: November 1, 2000 - February 1, 2005
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Suspense
Content Rating: Older Teen (some language, violence, scary situations, sensuality, innuendo)
Format Read: Mass Market Paperback
Find OnGoodreads
PurchaseAzon | B&N | BookDepo | Indiebound
Summary (of Book 1):

Suze is a mediator -- a liaison between the living and the dead. In other words, she sees dead people. And they won't leave her alone until she helps them resolve their unfinished business with the living. But Jesse, the hot ghost haunting her bedroom, doesn't seem to need her help. Which is a relief, because Suze has just moved to sunny California and plans to start fresh, with trips to the mall instead of the cemetery, and surfing instead of spectral visitations.

But the very first day at her new school, Suze realizes it's not that easy. There's a ghost with revenge on her mind ... and Suze happens to be in the way.


*          *          *

Series: This is a review of the first six books in the series, which comprise Suze's teen years and were originally the entire Mediator series. Meg has since released a seventh book, Remembrance, about Suze as an adult.*

The Mediator series was a favorite of my youth, discovered while browsing library shelves and delightfully devoured through my teens. It was such a favorite that I own an entire set and occasionally re-read them when I'm feeling nostalgic and in need of some classic snark.

The Voice: Mediator is essentially all about the voice. Meg does an amazing job of writing the mind of a teen, young but jaded after a lifetime of dealing with ghosts, who moves across the country to a life of "new"s: new coast, new family, new school, new friends, new loves, and naturally new people trying to kill her. Suze's first person point of view is chatty and telling and her naive yet bad girl flare really brings her story to realistic life despite the paranormal elements. Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or Veronica Mars (if Veronica took up ghost hunting).

The Characters: Still, despite Suze's snark and butt-kicking abilities, I must note that she is not a bright girl. Foolish at her best and suicidal at her worst, she's a hit and insult first, try to reason with later kind of gal, and she doesn't see how this is not the best mediation technique. Her communication skills, especially with the dead, are abominable, and only with luck (and typically a trip to the hospital) is she able to accomplish her job in some semblance of the word. But you don't read these books for her mad mediating skillz. You read them for her quick wit, her sweet romance with Jesse, and her ghostly albeit violent adventures. They aren't pretty, but they're entertaining.

As for Jesse, the hot ghost who shares Suze's bedroom, it must also be noted that he sadly has very little screen time. This is a grave disappointment since he is the highlight of the series, but you learn to look forward to his brief scenes and enjoy what time he graces the story. And if you make it to the final book, you are at least rewarded with a lively, Jesse-centric climax.

But then there's Paul. Conceited, creeper Paul is unfortunately as important to the last three books as Jesse (even more so, really) and therefore gets a lot of skin-crawling screen time. Meg did her job of making him unlikable way too well, and it's very easy to find the boy as repulsive as poor Suze does. If you care enough about Jesse's fate to finish the series then he's an antagonistic element you just have to accept and bear.

The Books: The first three books are classic mediator Suze, kicking butt and getting bloody. She takes on the suicidal and murderous ex-girlfriend of her first school crush in Shadowland (1), faces off with a vampire and psychotic businessman in Ninth Key (2), and the first two plots combine for a vengeful teen foursome and psychotic killer in Reunion (3). Spooky and violent, these are quick, thrilling reads that introduce Suze and her paranormal world as she struggles with her new life and confusing feelings for Jesse. (Just be ready to forgive an excess of commas.)

In the last three books, Suze's mediating world expands as she discovers there's more to her gift/curse than she ever knew. She faces deadly ghosts and a backyard body in Darkest Hour (4), meets a very different kind of mediator in Haunted (5), and exploits a newly discovered (if rather illogical) power in Twilight (6). While 4 had its moments, 5 & 6 weren't as enjoyable with their abundance of obnoxious Paul and questionable new powers. But Suze and Jesse's relationship finally reaches its romantic conclusion, and the series ends on a sweet and hopeful note for everyone's future.

Conclusion: Despite the violent undead and psychotic living out for her blood, as well as too little Jesse and way too much Paul, after nineteen years the six-book Mediator series still remains a quick and snarky teen classic for me. Suze can be a serious idiot most of the time, with the living and dead alike, but she and her life are certainly never boring. Definitely recommend for fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and/or Veronica Mars.

*A Note About Book 7: Book 7 sees the return of Paul in all his evil glory, so if you despise him in the teen years as much as I did, I recommend you skip Suze's adult stories as I am.

Scribble Rating
3.5 of 5 Scribbles

Friday, October 25, 2019

The #FridayReads Review: #FierceReads Edition (10/25/19)



Welcome to The #FridayReads Review, a regular Friday segment where I share what I've been reading the past week, and what I'm planning to read next! Want to join the Friday fun? Post your own #FridayReads Review and leave the link in the Comments below, or just Comment with what you've been reading!


>> CURRENTLY READING <<
Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (PBK)
Dove straight into this sequel after devouring Cinder and no surprise I have been burning through it too! My dislike for 3+ POVs has only grown over the years and this one has... well, at least 5 (I've lost count) so it's not quite as enjoyable as Cinder was, but I've still been reluctant to put it down and am now only a few dozen pages from the end. So happy this series is just as engrossing as I remembered! 
(You can read my original review here.)


>> JUST FINISHED <<
Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)
Cinder by Marissa Meyer (PBK)
4.5 Stars (re-read). I was a little wary to re-read this (second reads of older favorites can go bad for me), but I loved it just as much as I did before. I also didn't remember pretty much all of it (one of the very few perks of sieve brain), so it was like reading a whole new book! A brilliant and original fairytale retelling with relatable characters, an amazing world, and a stellar plot. You can read my full original review here.


>> [POSSIBLY] READING NEXT <<
(subject to change with my ever-shifting reading whims)
Pitch Dark
Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda (ARC)
I should slide straight into Cress but feel the need for some serious chills for Halloween so I'm planning to finally tackle Courtney's YA space horror! 


So what are you reading this week?

Monday, October 21, 2019

Review: Illusions of Fate (Kiersten White)

Illusions of Fate
Title: Illusions of Fate
Series: standalone
Author: Kiersten White
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Genre: Young Adult Alternate Historical Contemporary Fantasy
Told: First Person (Jessamin), Present Tense
Content Rating: Older Teen (some minor torture, violence, kissing, quick animal cruelty)
Format Read: ARC
Find OnGoodreads
Purchase:Azon | B&N | BookDepo | Indiebound
Summary:

“I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.


*          *          *

Illusions of Fate is an alternate historical fantasy with a little bit of everything: mystery, romance, suspense, magic. After a mysterious and alluring man insists on rescuing her from trouble, Jessamin finds herself violently entangled in power and politics and must find a way to save herself and everyone she holds dear from a sadistic villain.

At its heart, Illusions is a lord-and-commoner love story - although Finn is an unorthodox lord and Jessamin is anything but common. Capable and self-reliant, Jessamin wielded strength and wit against friend and foe and held her own against a terrifying antagonist. Even in the face of danger and torture she pushed through and saved herself when required, not waiting for a man to eventually rescue her. While her actions weren't always prudent she was true to herself and took responsibility for the consequences, and she was a fierce friend willing to sacrifice herself if need be to save others. Lord Finn, aptly described by the author as Howl meets Mr. Darcy, could be a bit vain, but ultimately he was charming and caring not only to Jessamin but to generally everyone. His and Jessamin's romance was odd but sweet and not overpowering, which I really enjoyed. I adored their dear friend and gossip Elanor for her cleverness, compassion, and secret skills, and although Jessamin got her into some deadly trouble Elanor remained a steadfast and reliable companion.

Despite the story's lighter romantic feel, the mystery elements involved gruesome murder, hidden magic, and a surprise twist in the last chapter that I did not anticipate in the slightest (bravo, Ms. White). The plot of power and politics got quite dark with a disturbing scene of torture, sadistic threats and actions, and a violent climax that almost ends on a bittersweet note, but ultimately love prevails for a happy and satisfying end.

Conclusion: Although the surprising bursts of violence were a little unsettling, Illusions of Fate is an enchanting standalone in the vein of Howl's Moving Castle with a sweet romance, intriguing magic, and a strong female character you can't help but root for. Highly recommend for alternate historical fantasy lovers.

Scribble Rating
4 of 5 Scribbles

Other Reviews That Might Interest: 

House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple
Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore

Friday, October 18, 2019

The #FridayReads Review (10/18/19)



Welcome to The #FridayReads Review, a regular Friday segment where I share what I've been reading the past week, and what I'm planning to read next! Want to join the Friday fun? Post your own #FridayReads Review and leave the link in the Comments below, or just Comment with what you've been reading!


>> CURRENTLY READING <<
Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)
Cinder by Marissa Meyer (PBK)
Was in a vague sci-fi mood so I finally grabbed this favorite for a re-read (I never finished the series and have been eager to). Although I was a little wary (second reads of older favorites can go bad for me), I'm loving it just as much as I did before! I also don't remember pretty much all of it so it's like reading a whole new book (one of the very few perks of sieve brain). Already excited for Scarlet next, which I recall I enjoyed even more than Cinder.


>> JUST FINISHED <<
Me & My Brothers, Vol. 11 (Me & My Brothers, #11)
Me & My Brothers vol. 11 by Hari Tokeino (PBK)
4 Stars. Re-read of the entire series for review. A cutie classic from my shelves about a teen girl who goes to live with her four stepbrothers and falls for the late-twenties eldest. Enjoyed the romance and hijinks as much as previous reads, despite the story moving way too fast. Review to come!


>> [POSSIBLY] READING NEXT <<
(subject to change with my ever-shifting reading whims)
Natsume's Book of Friends, Vol. 23
Natsume's Book of Friends vol. 23 by Yuki Midorikawa (PBK)
Expecting this in the mail soon and I'm excited for a new volume of adventures with Natsume! I rather hope this favorite series never ends.


So what are you reading this week?