Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour / Morgan Matson

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour / Morgan Matson

Synopsis: “Amy Curry is not looking forward to her summer. Her mother decided to move across the country and now it’s Amy’s responsibility to get their car from California to Connecticut. The only problem is, since her father died in a car accident, she isn’t ready to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger. An old family friend, he also has to make the cross-country trip – and has plenty of baggage of his own. The road home may be unfamiliar – especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory – but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way.”

Review: I came across this book my senior year of high school. There was a guest speaker / author who came in who talked about the importance of reading and writing, and also promoted her new book, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour. At the end of her talk, there was a raffle for everyone who came to watch her, and with that raffle she gave away ten free copies of the book. I was one of those lucky ten–she even signed mine for me.

I must admit, I didn’t read it right away. It sat in my room untouched for about a year before I even remembered I had it. But, once I did read it, I fell in love with it.

This book is quirky, fun, and even romantic. It starts centering on the characters’ journey rather than their relationship, but then slowly transitions to these two teens really forming a connection, which is why I think it’s such a great YA novel. (It also includes road trip playlists in the chapters with, in my opinion, some pretty cool music).

Rating: fourstar

Dirty Pretty Things / Michael Faudet

Dirty Pretty Things / Michael Faudet

Synopsis: “Dirty Pretty Things is the much anticipated book by Michael Faudet. His whimsical and often erotic writing has already captured the hearts and minds of literally thousands of readers from around the world. He paints vivid pictures with intricate words and explores the compelling themes of love, loss, relationships and sex. All beautifully captured in poetry, prose, quotes and little short stories.”

Review: I really, really, really wanted to like this book.

As a lover of poetry and expression, I am all for being able to express yourself in anyway you choose. And in poetry especially, I don’t think that anyone should be able to tell anyone else that their poetry isn’t “good” because the work is often subjective and personal.

However, with this being a book review, I am going to have to make judgements about this poetry. And unfortunately, it’s not my cup of tea.

This book was advertised as “exploring the compelling themes of love, loss, relationships and sex” (from Goodreads) which it did, but I think the way it examined those topics was juvenile at most points. The word “fuck” was present in around 75% of the poems, while other fairly vulgar words like “pussy”, “cock”, and phrases like “dusty pink nipples” were also repeated throughout. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with those words and that they shouldn’t be used, but I do think that there are many other words that Faudet could have used instead to give the scenes more imagery and the language more beautiful. It seemed like he was just putting erotic and provocative language together, but not really saying anything of value.

Overall, I had extremely high expectations for this book and they were not met, so I will give this a two star rating.

Rating: twostar

This Is How You Lose Her / Junot Díaz

This Is How You Lose Her / Junot Díaz

Synopsis: “On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness–and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the aging Miss Lora; Magdalena, who thinks all Dominican men are cheaters; and the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own.

In prose that is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender, and funny, the stories in This Is How You Lose Her lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart. They remind us that passion always triumphs over experience, and that ‘the half-life of love is forever.'”

Review: I don’t have much to say about this book, and not in a bad way.

I think Juno Díaz really knows what he’s doing with his craft in creating characters like Yunior and following them throughout certain points in their lives. Every character in this collection was full of life, the descriptions were beautiful, and I was intrigued by Yunior’s inner-most thoughts while he was dealing with everything going on around him.

A good portion of the vocabulary and some names and things were in Spanish, along with slang terms and ideas that I had never heard of before. I think this book excels at mixing the culture of the Dominican Republic and the United States, which is something that isn’t seen very often.

Rating: threestar

Hello 2017

Hello 2017

2016 was a roller coaster of a year. We lost not only a multitude of amazing and talented celebrities including David Bowie, Harper Lee, and Alan Rickman, but we also lost many others during the Pulse nightclub shooting and the destruction of Syria. Even though these things are completely heartbreaking and terrible, I don’t want to forget all of the good things that happened in 2016 as well. Because of the ALS ice bucket challenge a LOT more money has been donated and they’re closer to finding a cure, Hillary Clinton became the first woman ever to clinch a major-party endorsement for POTUS, and (even though the construction is allowed to continue) they cannot build the Dakota Access Pipeline in one area of North Dakota where a Native American tribe currently lives.

I know that the bad seems to outweigh the good, but progress is made slowly.

As for me, I am taking matters into my own hands to make sure I have the best 2017 I can have. After years of only half-heartedly committing to any type of resolution (except quitting smoking, so glad I cut that out) I felt that I really needed to focus my energies into becoming a better “me.” So, without further ado, here is my list of 2017 New Year’s Resolutions.

♦ Read (at least) 35 books.

During 2016, I think I read a total of 22 books? (I honestly didn’t keep track the way I should have). This year, I’m using the Goodreads challenge to make sure I log the books when I read them. I really want to read more books this year than I did last year because I felt like I didn’t really put aside any time for me to just be with myself and really submerge into my books, and also because I want to write some more reviews on them for this blog.

♦ Keep a morning + nighttime routine.

I am the worst with keeping routines up. I always forget to put in my retainer, or wash my makeup off, or floss at night (I know it’s super gross). I want to get myself into a good routine because it’ll not only be better for my skin and my teeth, but going through that routine every day will eventually let my body know that it’s either time to wake up, or time to get ready for bed.

♦ Work out more.

Okay, so this one’s pretty obvious for everyone. Summer time is only a mere six months away and everyone wants to look good in their swim suits, right? Well, yes and no. Of course I want to look strong and toned in my bikinis, but that’s not why this is on my resolutions list. As many of you don’t know, I have a small heart condition in which the valve between my heart’s upper chamber and the lower chamber doesn’t close properly, sometimes causing blood to be pumped backwards. It’s very common and very mild, so it doesn’t affect my day-to-day life. I also have a condition known as POTS: Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. With this condition, when I stand up the volume of blood flow that occurs is extremely low, causing many symptoms including lightheadedness, fainting, and rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fatigue, inability to exercise, anxiety, or blurred vision. This is the real killer for me. Every time I’ve gone to workout I’ve gotten anxious, my heart beats extremely fast and I get very dizzy. I’m hoping that this is something that I can beat this year because it’s held me back from so much.

♦ Eat cleaner.

This ties in a little bit with the exercising above, but not too much. I’ve decided to try vegetarianism. Part of the reason I want to do it comes from the compassionate / animal care side, while the other part stems from my health. I’m taking this in baby steps, and I bought a really great cookbook off Amazon called The $5 a Meal College Vegetarian Cookbook: Good, Cheap Vegetarian Recipes for When You Need to Eat (Everything Books)” and it’s amazing. I love this cookbook because it’s not overly fancy, but it does have some interesting recipes that require a little more than just your average lunch.

♦ Embrace minimalism.

Lastly, minimalism. I’ve been in love with the minimalistic art style every since I could remember. With having this on my resolutions list, I want to not only use that style for my own home decor and aesthetics but also embrace the ideas that come along with minimalism. Using less, donating things I don’t need, detaching myself from inanimate objects (like my phone). I’m not going to completely throw all my material possessions away and only wear like three shirts or anything like that, but I’d like to get into the idea of “freeing myself” from these possessions.