WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI by Sandhya Menon

For the last couple of years I have routinely heard great things about When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. I happened to be browsing Libby the other day to see what’s available (as I do), when I happened to see it. Not having my fill of funny romance-y books, I decided to go for it. And I’m super glad I did, because this lived up to my expectations – it was light, fun, with smart, strong, ambitious, and charismatic main characters.

Dimple has just finished high school and is on her way to Stanford in the fall, but not before doing Insomnia Con – a 6 week long program in which she would have a chance to design an app and have a shot at working with her female coding idol. She is shocked her parents agree to let her go, but she realizes quickly that the guy her parents would like her to marry has been told to go there as well. Rishi is much more into the idea of an arranged marriage, and doesn’t realize that Dimple isn’t until he meets her. She quickly shoots down the idea, as marriage is a far off idea, but also quickly becomes friends and more with this kind, smart, attractive, family-oriented, respectful guy that she has so much in common with. Throughout the book they get to know each other, but more importantly what they themselves want and need from life.

I really loved Dimple, she was just such a real girl, I loved that she was a coder, smart, moral, and kind to people. I also loved that there were so many Hindi words peppered throughout, references to Indian culture and food, and a bunch of Bollywood. I looked up a Bollywood dance on YouTube that Dimple and Rishu performed – so awesome!

If you’re looking for a light romantic comedy that’s not too silly, this is the book for you. I would recommend for 8th grade and up.

Amazon.com: When Dimple Met Rishi (9781481478687): Menon, Sandhya ...

SOMEWHERE ONLY WE KNOW by Maurene Goo

My favorite genres are realistic fiction and memoirs, but I try very hard to go outside of my comfort zone on a regular basis. I have been asked a few times recently for funny romance books, so I decided to try one that sounded very fun – Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo. Perfect timing too, because I think everyone could use a nice light read right about now. And it sure was an easy and enjoyable read!
Lucky is one of the biggest K-pop stars in the world, but as much as she loves performing, she feels lonely and constrained by her management. One night she escapes her hotel room in Hong Kong on a hunt for a cheeseburger, when she meets aspiring tabloid photographer, Jack (he keeps this a secret from her just as she keeps her identity a secret from him). They go out for a night and day on the town, Jack secretly taking pictures of Lucky for an expose he wants to write), both of them having a blast and also falling for each other. The fun  and secrets can’t last forever though…
This story made me interested in K-pop and its stars, but the best part of the story was the portrait of Hong Kong – what a cool place it would be to visit! Fun, eccentric, with delicious food – it was so awesome. Oh and the love story was good too. A fun book for 7th grade all the way up through high school.

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WHAT I CARRY by Jennifer Longo

A  couple of years ago, I read a book I really loved called Far From the Tree by Robin Benway, about 3 biological siblings that meet each other for the first time after having very different life experiences. Then a few months ago, I read multiple starred reviews including a comparison to Far From the Tree for What I Carry by Jennifer Longo. Well, I can honestly say that the reviews were totally right, and I loved What I Carry. I don’t often give 5-star reviews to books, but this was a no-brainer.
Muir, named for John Muir the naturalist (and also the namesake of the NICU she spent time in), has been in the foster care system after being born addicted to meth. She has lived in 20 different homes in her 17 years of life, and has gotten by by being as perfect as she can possibly be, since the standards for foster children are so much higher than others. She is never late, never argues, gets good grades, helps around the house, and also leaves as soon as she feels comfortable (or uncomfortable somewhere). The book begins as she enters her last placement before she ages out of the foster care system, as the only and last foster child of Francine, on an island near Seattle. Muir finds an internship she loves leading hikes for children, a boyfriend that understands her love of nature, and a spunky artistic best friend that she can care for and cares for her.
It’s a beautiful book, and gives a glimpse into the foster care system. Although the author points out multiple times, during the story and after, that there are many different experiences, and Muir’s is only one possible story. Fantastic read for teens or adults.
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FRANKLY IN LOVE by David Yoon

In the last six months I have read multiple reviews and have heard a bunch of people raving about Frankly in Love by David Yoon. I feel like the majority of the young adult books I’ve read usually have female protagonists, so I’m always happy to find a really good one with a male protagonist. I am happy to report that Frankly in Love is not just good, it’s great!

Frank, a senior in high school, is Korean-American and living in California with his parents. His parents own a convenience store, and spend the majority of their time there – except for when they are hanging out with a group of their friends that they went to university with in Korea. Frank goes to these monthly “Gatherings” where he spends time with other first generation Korean-American kids. They all deal with similar issues regarding their parents, but a big one for Frank and his friend, Joy, is their parents’ refusal to accept partners that are not Korean. His parents have even gone so far as to disown their older daughter for marrying someone that isn’t Korean. Joy has a boyfriend that is Chinese-American, and Frank starts to date a girl that is “European-American”. They decide to pretend to date each other, so that their parents don’t know who they’re really with, but things don’t work out as cleanly as they hope. This book has so many funny moments, and just really current, witty dialogue, but it also has a lot of frank (haha) discussions on race, what it means to be a first generation immigrant, acceptance, high school relationships, and family.

A fantastic and important book for any high school student, and I think that many adults would find a lot to like here as well. Also, interesting tidbit, David Yoon is married to another great YA author – Nicola Yoon!

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SKYWARD by Brandon Sanderson

I wanted to read outside my comfort zone for this month’s Talk It Up! Book Club, and so I chose the sci-fi book Skyward by Brandon Sanderson. The reviews were great, my husband loves Brandon Sanderson (his adult and YA books), and I really love some sci-fi (i.e. CINDER!!!).

The premise of the book was really interesting – humans had escaped to a not great but habitable planet. There is enough floating trash to block out the sky, people live mostly on algae and rats, and they are routinely attacked by mysterious aliens, the Krell. Sensa, the main character, is a tough girl who wants nothing more than to be a fighter pilot just like her father. However, her father allegedly died trying to run away from the Krell, and so people call her father a coward – which is just about the worst thing you can be in this new world. Sensa is told she will never be a pilot due to her father’s traitor status, but she finds a way through her father’s old partner and her new teacher. Flight school is very difficult, so difficult that most of her classmates don’t make it through between dying in battles or just not being able to hack it. Sensa deals with grief, making new friends, courage, and having to give it her all in the face of adversity.

There are so many battles in this hefty book, and there were about double the amount of battles for my taste. However, the reviews that I read compared them to being very video game-like, which I know a lot of the teens love. And sure enough, this book really landed well with a few of the teens in my book club. Even though I didn’t care for all the battles – the big reveal at the end made it all worth it. Definitely a book for sci-fi and video game lovers.

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BONE GAP by Laura Ruby

I chose the 2016 Printz Award winner for my last Not-So-Young-Adult Book Club pick – Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. I had started and stopped this book once before, and I’m not totally sure why because this time around I had no issues zipping right through it. Finn is an 18 year old boy who witnessed, a few months prior to the beginning of the book, his brother’s girlfriend being kidnapped. And since he is not able to really describe the kidnapper (and we later find out why), no one in the town believes him. The narrative then switches to Roza’s point of view, following her experience being held by her captor. The book goes back and forth between the two for the rest of the novel. Finn struggles with trying to figure out how to help Roza, repair the relationship between himself and his brother, and also falling in love with beekeeper and tough girl, Petey.

This book has twists, some unexpected fantasy, commentary on beauty/inner beauty, relationships, and so much more. Beautifully written, this book really is for anyone in 8th grade and up.

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THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins

You may ask yourself as you see this blog post title, why on earth would Liz write about The Hunger Games? Doesn’t she know that this book has been huge for over 10 years, with multiple movies based on the trilogy? Well, I reread The Hunger Games last week, and I was compelled to write about it BECAUSE I FORGOT HOW AMAZING IT IS.

I chose it to read with my newly restarted High School Book Club – I figured it would be a crowd pleaser, plus I don’t feel comfortable discussing a book so brutal with middle schoolers (even though I’m sure many of them have read it). I very quickly realized that this book is one of the best young adult books I have ever read in my life, 5 stars all the way.

I’m not going to get into a detailed summary, here’s one if you need it. I just want to say, Katniss is a super cool, tough, conscientious protagonist, and every minute I spent reading about her and the world she inhabits was a minute well spent. If you have not yet read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, you definitely should. I can’t imagine a middle or high schooler (or even adult), not thinking it was great. Plus the prequel is coming out this spring!

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