January: Books I’ve Read Recently

"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 out of 5 stars. 5 stars being the best and 1 star being the worst!

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

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares, book cover

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares Rachel Cohn & David Leviathan

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own. 

My Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars

I wanted to read this book before watching the new Netflix series adaptation for Dash & Lily, but I'll be honest I watched the show first. I personally loved both the book and the show. I think the show captured Lily's character perfectly! Lily is very high energy, like picture a child who ate a whole months’ worth of Halloween candy in one sitting and is now bouncing off the walls and can't stop talking. That basically sums up Lily's personality/ level of energy on the daily. I listened to the audiobook and I thought it captured her personality perfectly. It really brought the character to life for me. Dash on the other hand is the complete opposite. He's very low energy and not as enthusiastic about Christmas as Lily is. He's kind of a recluse and would rather read in his room alone all day. In this book these two characters end up accidently starting a scavenger hunt all across New York through a notebook. They become kind of like anonymous Pen Pals and end up making a real connection through this book of Christmas specific Dares. This was honestly the perfect holiday read. There are currently 3 books in this series and I can't wait to read the rest. They all center around Christmas so I probably won't pick up the next book in the series until next December. This series is perfect if you just want a feel good holiday read. I definitely had a smile on my face the entire time I read this novel, it was just so wholesome. This book did leave a few unanswered questions though, so not everything gets wrapped up at the end.

Little White Lies, book cover

Little White Lies by Jennifer Barnes

"I'm not saying this is Sawyer's fault," the prim and proper one said delicately. "But."

Eighteen-year-old auto mechanic Sawyer Taft did not expect her estranged grandmother to show up at her apartment door and offer her a six-figure contract to participate in debutante season. And she definitely never imagined she would accept. But when she realizes that immersing herself in her grandmother's "society" might mean discovering the answer to the biggest mystery of her life-her father's identity-she signs on the dotted line and braces herself for a year of makeovers, big dresses, bigger egos, and a whole lot of bless your heart. The one thing she doesn't expect to find is friendship, but as she's drawn into a group of debutantes with scandalous, dangerous secrets of their own, Sawyer quickly discovers that her family isn't the only mainstay of high society with skeletons in their closet. There are people in her grandmother's glittering world who are not what they appear, and no one wants Sawyer poking her nose into the past. As she navigates the twisted relationships between her new friends and their powerful parents, Sawyer's search for the truth about her own origins is just the beginning.

My Rating: 3 Out of 5 Stars

I'm only giving this book a 3-star rating, because I had the hardest time paying attention to this book. This books plot line was a little too tame for me. The setting was absolutely stunning and had a lot of potential to be like the next big Gossip Girl in my opinion. I think if we amped up the drama, this series would make an excellent TV show. In this book Sawyer is the biggest "tomboy" living below the poverty line with her mother. Without giving too much away Sawyer ends up going to live with her Grandmother, a well to do, rich, Southern Belle. Sawyer must change everything about herself to fit in with high society and join in the southern "debutant" ball. It's basically like a super elite society, where they have to accomplish all these tasks before "graduating" into the world of high class Southern belles. The reason I think this book has a lot of potential to be a TV show is, because there was a lot of scandal and teenage drama. Plus, the wardrobe of a debutant would be immaculate to see on screen... But I just wasn't feeling it as a book. There was a ton of drama that just didn't translate well on to page. I felt like this book was a lot of "Tell, Not Show," so a lot of the descriptions were just lacking in my opinion. This book is a series and I am going to continue to read this series, just because I really do think there is a lot of potential for this novel to grow and escalate! I'm hoping that the next book in the series will be a lot more DRAMA packed. I think I just had a hard time paying attention to this novel because there was A LOT of back and forth, flashbacks to present. I was just getting a little lost... I'm hoping that won't be a factor anymore as the series continues now that things have been "explained."

The Black Flamingo, book cover

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Michael is a mixed-race gay teen growing up in London. All his life, he’s navigated what it means to be Greek-Cypriot and Jamaican—but never quite feeling Greek or Black enough.

As he gets older, Michael’s coming out is only the start of learning who he is and where he fits in. When he discovers the Drag Society, he finally finds where he belongs—and the Black Flamingo is born.

Told with raw honesty, insight, and lyricism, this debut explores the layers of identity that make us who we are—and allow us to shine.

My Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

Ok, I'm going to be honest and say I only read 10 pages into this book, and knew without a doubt that I was going to LOVE this novel. Everything about this book was stunning from start to finish. I have never loved a character the way that I love Michael. In this novel we follow Michael from a very young age all the way to adult hood. Michael has known from the start that he was different from the other boys. Michael has always known that he prefers Barbie's to teenage mutant ninja turtles. When he plays "house" at school Michael only wants to play the "wife," never the husband. Michael has always known that he likes boys. This character, I think since we follow him from such a young age, was just so endearing and captivating to read. I grew very fond of this fictional character. We follow him as a child playing with Barbie's, then to middle school where he has found his love of musicals and singing and is now getting bullied for his "feminine" hobbies. Then to high school and "coming out," getting bullied and having his first real crush, all the way to finding himself and his love for drag in college. To me Michael is a real person and Dean Atta did an incredible job of bringing this character to life! This book was so well written and goes into such depth that we literally go through every emotion alongside Michael. I am genuinely attached to this character and I wish there was MORE! This was an easy 5 out of 5 stars. There was absolutely nothing that this book was lacking. It was complete perfection and I can't wait to read everything by Dean Atta. This book is also written in short verse, so it was an incredibly quick read, and well worth my time. I loved it so much I wish there was a sequel. 

Honey So Sweet by Amu Meguro

Honey So Sweet 7, book cover
Honey So Sweet 8, book cover

Little did Nao Kogure realize back in middle school that when she left an umbrella and a box of bandages in the rain for injured delinquent Taiga Onise that she would meet him again in high school. Nao wants nothing to do with the gruff and frightening Taiga, but he suddenly presents her with a huge bouquet of flowers and asks her to date him—with marriage in mind! Is Taiga really so scary, or is he a sweetheart in disguise?

My Rating: 4 Out Of 5 Stars

So I was finally able to finish this series. There are only 8 books in this manga series and I am going to have to rate this series a 4 out of 5 stars as whole. This manga is very sweet. It starts off with Nao a rather shy and old fashioned girl doing a good deed for a "delinquent” named Taiga. Taiga just so happens to be extremely shy and old fashioned just like Nao, but his outwardly appearance makes him look like a thug. Everyone at school is afraid of him and they cross the street just to get out of his way! Nao is the first person who's ever gone out of their way to be nice to him, so he quickly falls in love. The only problem is Nao thinks he's a wild child and is afraid of him also. Taiga must prove that he's actually the complete opposite of his appearance and that he is actually a good person! This manga had such a good plot line and is full of misunderstandings and miscommunication issues, but once Nao and Taiga are on the same page, this entire series was basically smooth sailing from there. The only reason I am giving this book series 4 Stars is because I felt like this manga series went on for just a tad bit too long. There wasn't a lot of drama or much of a plot line once the main characters got together. I felt like everything after that, was just "filler" in my opinion. Although it was cute and there was a really good cast of characters that got introduced, this series just sort of lost my attention after that. It did wrap up very nicely at the end of the series and everybody gets a happy ending. If you’re looking for just a feel good, quick romance manga I highly recommend this one.

Ao Haru Ride by Io Sakisaka

Ao Haru Ride, book cover
Ao Haru Ride, book cover
Ao Haru Ride, book cover
Ao Haru Ride, book cover
Ao Haru Ride, book cover

Futaba Yoshioka has encountered her first love again in high school, but he seems different from the boy she once knew. Futaba wonders what happened between Kou and Yuri, but she's still determined to find out more about Kou's past and why he won't allow others to get close to him 

My Rating: 5 Out Of 5 Stars

I absolutely adored this manga series. I personally finished the whole series already. SJPL has volume 1 through 5 right now, but I managed to snag the rest of the series through Link+. If you have not used Link+ before it's a great way to order books from other library systems, while still using your SJPL library card. It's free! Anyway this book series was amazing I personally love anything written by Io Sakisaka. She writes the cutest romance novels. I personally like Strobe Edge and Love Me, Love Me Not by her if you’re looking for more manga titles to read. In this novel Ao Haru Ride follows a high school girl named Futaba Yoshioka, Yoshioka hates boys, she hates the way they talk and hit on females and because she is pretty they give her wayyyy too much attention. Basically she finds them annoying and overbearing. The only boy she likes is named Kou. Kou is different from the other boys he smells good, isn't obnoxious and treats females very kindly. He is Futaba's first real crush, but before anything can happen between them he mysteriously moves away and leaves their middle school! Years later Futaba still hates boys and hasn't had a crush since. She decided boys were "too much" and has been acting like a tomboy. She acts obnoxious, doesn't wear makeup and has basically done everything possible so that boys won't find her attractive and leave her alone! I have honestly never related more to a character in my life! At her new high school Futaba has the whole tomboy act down, only Kou her forever crush has reappeared back into her life. Only he's completely different too and she has no idea why. This whole series is a romance of them kind of trying to get to know each other again, mixed with a lot of other characters and their drama, so it’s hard to tell if they will EVER get their moment to SHINE and be together. It was a really cute manga with a unique plot line and an awesome cast of characters. Unlike the manga I mentioned before this manga series is full of non-stop drama and really kept me captivated all the way through. As always with Io Sakisaka the artwork is also so amazing. It's a 5 out of 5 stars for me.