July: Books I've Read Recently

books on a light pink background

"Books I've Read Recently" is a series where I, Penelope Gomez, will do a monthly wrap up of the books I've read throughout the past month. In this series I will give a brief synopsis of the story and then give the book a rating of :

thumbs up emojiThumbs Up
thumbs down emojiThumbs Down
emoji hand forming 'okay' signJust Okay

I will then give a brief description of why I chose to rate a book a certain way.

So without further delay lets get into the "Books I've Read Recently," and as always leave a comment down below and tell me which of these books you've also read, or plan on reading next.

Books I've Read Recently

Book Cover "Squad" by Mariah MacCarthSquad by Mariah MacCarthy

Jenna Watson is a cheerleader. But it’s not some Hollywood crap. Cheerleaders are not every guy’s fantasy; they are not the “popular girls” or the “mean girls” of Marsen High School. They’re too busy for that. They're literally just some human females trying to live their lives and do a perfect toe touch. But that all changed after Raejean stopped talking to Jenna and started hanging out with Meghan Finnegan. Jenna stopped getting invited out with the rest of the squad and she couldn’t tell if it was on purpose or if it was all in her head.

At times heartbreaking, at others hilarious, Squad follows Jenna through her attempts to get revenge on Raejean and invent a new post-cheer life for herself through LARPING (live action role-playing) and a relationship with a trans guy that feels like love—but isn't. In the, end Jenna discovers that who she is is not defined by which squad she's in.

thumbs up emojiThis book is just so hilarious! Jenna has been friends with Raejean practically her whole life. They share everything, their cheerleading squad, even the boy they both like! Nothing has ever gotten in the way of their perfect friendship, then suddenly and without reason Raejean, completely replaces Jenna with another member of their cheerleading squad. Jenna is confused and can't fathom why they aren't friends anymore. Jenna is left in the dark and deeply hurt over loosing her best friend.. Jenna decides she needs to get "Revenge" on Raejean, and does her best to make her feel as badly as she does. At first I wasn't sure if I was going to like this novel. The main character Jenna does some really awful things to Raejean, in attempts to get 'even' with her. At the beginning I thought that Jenna had no redeemable qualities, and just kind of sucked as a person, but as the story develops, she does grow and starts to show remorse for her actions. I couldn't really hate her as a character, I mean who didn't make some questionable choices in high school? Mariah MacCarthy also seemed to really capture how truly difficult high school can sometimes be when it comes to 'cliques.' Overall this book is extremely funny, there is no real plot to this story just a string of events that happen to Jenna's character, and the RANDOM scenarios she gets thrown into her Junior year of high school. 16 can be such a rough age, I honestly was just laughing at Jenna the whole time I read this novel. If your a fan of the movie Mean Girls, then read this book, because this is like the book equivalent of that movie... so funny!

Book Cover "You Owe Me A Murder" by Eileen CookYou Owe Me A Murder by Eileen Cook

17-year-old Kim never expected to plot a murder. But that was before her boyfriend dumped her for another girl. Now, Kim’s stuck on a class trip to London with him and his new soulmate and she can’t help wishing he was a little bit dead, even if she’d never really do that.

But when Kim meets Nicki, a stranger on the plane who’s more than willing to listen to Kim’s woes, things start to look up. Nicki's got a great sense of humor, and when she jokes about swapping murders, Kim plays along—that is, until Kim’s ex-boyfriend mysteriously dies.

Blackmailed by Nicki to fulfill her end of the deal, Kim will have to commit a murder or take the fall for one.

thumbs up emojiFirst off I want to say that this book was incredibly well thought out! I low key think Eileen Cook is a criminal mastermind... some clues she mentions are things that I would just NEVER even think of. In this book the main character Kim goes on a class trip to London. On the plane she befriends a girl named 'Nicki,' and they 'jokingly' plan the perfect murder. Nicki agrees to kill Kim's nasty Ex and Kim agrees to kill Nicki's awful mom. The perfect murder, done by perfect strangers, so neither one could ever be connected to the other. #GENIUS ...Anyway Kim gets off the plane thinking she'll never see the other girl again, but when her Ex boyfriend suddenly commits 'suicide' on the class trip, Kim knows deep down that it was Nicki. That their 'perfect murder' wasn't a joke! This book was so suspenseful! For example each chapter is a countdown with titles like "8 days remaining", "7 days remaining." The entire book is a countdown waiting to see if Kim makes it home safe from London, or if things are going to get majorly screwed up! Also the way Eileen Cook writes about her character 'Nicki,' makes it even more suspenseful because the way she is described in this book is INSANE! Like she is obviously CRAZY FOR COCOA PUFFS! I was honestly so scared for Kim's safety the entire time I was reading this novel. This book was such a suspenseful read, I didn't have a clue how it was going to end, it could have gone in so many CRAZY filled directions... such a unique twist to the murder mystery genre.

Book Cover 'We Set the Dark on Fire" by Tehelor Kay MejiaWe Set the Dark on Fire by Tehelor Kay Mejia

At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children, but both are promised a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her bright future depends upon no one discovering her darkest secret—that her pedigree is a lie. Her parents sacrificed everything to obtain forged identification papers so Dani could rise above her station. Now that her marriage to an important politico’s son is fast approaching, she must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society, where famine and poverty rule supreme.

On her graduation night, Dani seems to be in the clear, despite the surprises that unfold. But nothing prepares her for all the difficult choices she must make, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or to give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?

thumbs up emojiFirst off here are the things I really liked about this book. I liked the writing style. It was easy to follow and I liked that they used a lot of Spanish vocabulary throughout the novel. I liked the plot line/ trope of having an arranged marriage. It reminded me a lot of "The Glittering Court" series by Richelle Mead. In the sense that the girls attend a school and then are married off based on their school "rank." Here's the twist though it's one husband and TWO BRIDES that are arranged to be married. First off an arranged marriage sucks enough, but now you have to share a husband! That wasn't the issue in Daniela and Carmen's marriage though, no their issue is that they are both secretly lesbians and way more into EACH OTHER than their evil politico husband. Now the thing I didn't like about this novel is the fact that Daniela and Carmen's relationship seemed to come out of no where! There was no real build up of emotions or hints of sexuality, just all of a sudden they were together. I feel like Tehelor Kay Mejia could have expanded on their relationship and built it up more in my opinion. It seemed really one sided at first. There was also no flirting or friendship at first, so it just made it seem like more of a "LUST" situation instead of a real "Love" connection in my opinion. Their relationship was never fully developed. If Tehelor Mejia had expanded on this just a little bit more this would have been an A+ LGBT read. I didn't love this book... and I honestly found it a little boring at times, so I was on the fence about this book for a long time, but I will say I LOVED that cliffhanger ending and I will 100% be finishing this series! That ending just won me over.

Book Cover "My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life" by Rachel CohnMy Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life by Rachel Cohn

"I'm here to take you to live with your father. In Tokyo, Japan! Happy birthday!"
In the Land of the Rising Sun, where high culture meets high kitsch, and fashion and technology are at the forefront of the First World's future, the foreign-born teen elite attend ICS-the International Collegiate School of Tokyo. Their accents are fluid. Their homes are ridiculously posh. Their sports games often involve a (private) plane trip to another country. They miss school because of jet lag and visa issues. When they get in trouble, they seek diplomatic immunity.

Enter foster-kid-out-of-water Elle Zoellner, who, on her sixteenth birthday discovers that her long-lost father, Kenji Takahari, is actually a Japanese hotel mogul and wants her to come live with him. Um, yes, please! Elle jets off first class from Washington D.C. to Tokyo, which seems like a dream come true. Until she meets her enigmatic father, her way-too-fab aunt, and her hyper-critical grandmother, who seems to wish Elle didn't exist. In an effort to please her new family, Elle falls in with the Ex-Brats, a troupe of uber-cool international kids who spend money like it's air. But when she starts to crush on a boy named Ryuu, who's frozen out by the Brats and despised by her new family, her already tenuous living situation just might implode.

thumbs up emojiGoing into this book, I had really low expectations, but I surprisingly really enjoyed this novel. The main character. Elle has been living in a nightmare. When her single parent mother is sent to jail, Elle gets sent into the foster care system. She is forced to endure bad foster parent, after bad foster parent. Then one day she is told that her 'deadbeat' dad wants her to come live with him in Tokyo. Right away Elle starts to realize this 'deadbeat' dad is actually a millionaire and she is being flown first class straight into a Tokyo Dream Life Fairytale. If you like the book series Gossip Girl and books like The Thousandth Floor, then you will love this book. I really liked the way Rachel Cohn delves into the lives of Tokyo's Elite. I feel like Rachel Cohn really did her research on Japan while writing this book. If you've ever dreamed of traveling to Japan but just haven't had the funds or vacation time to go, then read this book. She writes about a lot of fun touristy things to do, like visiting the cat cafe's and famous robot cafe's in Shibuya. I really felt like I was experiencing everything for the first time along side Elle because her character was just so relatable. This book was really well written and you honestly feel like your on vacation in Japan while reading this book. This was honestly a perfect summer read.

Book Cover "Glass" by Ellen HopkinsGlass by Ellen Hopkins Book Cover "Crank" by Ellen Hopkins

Crank. Glass. Ice. Crystal. Whatever you call it, it's all the same: a monster. And once it's got hold of you, this monster will never let you go. Kristina thinks she can control it. Now with a baby to care for, she's determined to be the one deciding when and how much, the one calling the shots. But the monster is too strong, and before she knows it, Kristina is back in its grips. She needs the monster to keep going, to face the pressures of day-to-day life. She needs it to feel alive.

Once again the monster takes over Kristina's life and she will do anything for it, including giving up the one person who gives her the unconditional love she craves -- her baby.
The sequel to Crank, this is the continuing story of Kristina and her descent back to hell. Told in verse, it's a harrowing and disturbing look at addiction and the damage that it inflicts.

thumbs up emojiWow... this book just blew my mind! I don't think I've ever read such a heart wrenching series. Glass is the sequel to Crank, that I reviewed last month. This book is loosely based on Ellen Hopkins's own daughter's battle with drug addiction. Like I said in my first review this book has a lot of drug usage, sex scenes and a ton of other adult content/themes, so read with caution... Since this is book 2 in the series, the story picks up 6 months after the first book ends. We are re-introduced to the main character Kristina who is now a meager 17 years old! The book starts on a very positive note. We find Kristina is sober for the first time in a long time and her life has undergone some MASSIVE changes. Without giving too much away, some of these changes leave Kristina feeling a little depressed and trapped in her own life. She feels like a prisoner in her own house, and we find that she quickly turns back to "The Monster." In book one we see Kristina's introduction into the narcotics world, and we see how addicting substances can be. Book 2 was honestly just so shocking. We only go through 1 year of Kristina's life and it was such a crazy contrast from start to finish. As a reader you literally watch a life deteriorate. Drug abuse is a scary thing and I think using her own experience Ellen Hopkins captured this so vividly throughout her novel. Just the way she described Kristina's appearance in the beginning of the novel vs how she was described at the end is mind blowing! My heart truly goes out to Ellen Hopkins because even though this book is written loosely from her daughters perspective, I can't imagine what it would be like being the mother in this story. That's heart breaking to even think about... There is a third book to this series so I look forward to reading the rest of Kristina's story. A 5 star read for sure.

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