March: 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

The Downstairs Girl, book cover

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady's maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, "Dear Miss Sweetie." When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society's ills, but she's not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender.

While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta's most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Although I really enjoyed this book, I just felt like it was lacking something? The story line was a little slow for me hence the 4 star review. I loved Jo as a main character, she is a Chinese-American  teenager living in the South. This is a historical fiction but It wasn't really clear what time period? ...but just know that there is a lot of turmoil in the south during this time period setting, so race and feminism play a huge roll in this storyline. Jo just wants to be treated equally, she wants to ride in the "white train only," and as a female she wants the right to vote. Jo is a high-strung character who's full of OPINIONS and she wants her opinions to be heard! It's because of this that she makes the perfect person to run an anonymous advice column under the guise "Miss Sweetie." I think this was my favorite part of the book. Throughout the novel she receives some letters asking for advice, and Jo's responses were just so hilariously written. Another thing I really loved about this novel was the romance. Jo secretly has a crush on the editor for the newspaper she writes for and it was really fun to watch this romance play out, but I do think if there had been just a little bit more romance strewn throughout the novel it would have made for the quicker pace, that it was lacking in my opinion. Also if the time period had been made just a little clearer it would have been an A+ novel.

Patron Saints of Nothing, book cover

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

A powerful coming-of-age story about grief, guilt, and the risks a Filipino-American teenager takes to uncover the truth about his cousin's murder.

Jay Reguero plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte's war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story.

Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth -- and the part he played in it.

As gripping as it is lyrical, Patron Saints of Nothing is a page-turning portrayal of the struggle to reconcile faith, family, and immigrant identity.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I absolutely loved this novel. This is a novel that I think everybody can appreciate. This was such an emotional read as it deals with the topic of death. The story starts out with Jay finding out that his cousin Jun has been murdered in the Philippines. The two were pen pals, but as Jay grew older he stopped responding as frequently to Jun's letters and eventually stopped responding at all. Jay is heartbroken over the loss of his dear cousin but when he finds out Jun had run away from home, and had somehow gotten murdered Jay is determined to solve the mystery behind Jun's death. The majority of this story takes place in the Philippines and I feel like this novel was very informative without being info dumpy. I feel like I learned a lot about the Filipino culture and the Philippines current events. This book mainly revolves around the current, "War on Drugs," that has been taking place there for the last several years. I think the authors main goal was to shine more light on this particular current event and he did an amazing job. This book was heartbreaking. Randy Ribay's writing style was amazing, he just made the characters so endearing. I felt like I was also mourning the loss of Jun along side his family. This book was really heartfelt and touching. I would recommend this book to everyone, 5 stars all around.

Pet, book cover

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Pet is here to hunt a monster.
Are you brave enough to look?

There are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. With doting parents and a best friend named Redemption, Jam has grown up with this lesson all her life. But when she meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colours and claws, who emerges from one of her mother's paintings and a drop of Jam's blood, she must reconsider what she's been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption's house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question-How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

In their riveting and timely young adult debut, acclaimed novelist Akwaeke Emezi asks difficult questions about what choices a young person can make when the adults around them are in denial.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I was really astonished by this book. I honestly had no idea what direction this book was going to go in when I first started reading. At first I thought this book was placed in modern times, but as you continue reading you'll discover that that's not quite the case. This book is set more in a fantasy utopia kind of place. In this book the main character Jam is a transgender girl, who is also deaf. This book starts off normally enough but all of a sudden a "Hunter" named Pet emerges from a painting! Pet claims that there is a monster living in Jam's best friends house. It is up to Jam and Pet to stop this monster from causing any more harm to children. The way that this character, Pet is described reminded me a lot of the soul reaper in the graphic novel "Death Note." Jam basically has her own invisible companion that nobody can see. He is described as a scary animal-like beast with wings. I really liked the fantastical elements set in this "modern" day-ish setting. This book is honestly about the very hard topic of child abuse, but it was astonishing to see this subject talked about in this fantastical like way where I don't think it would be triggering to its readers. Akwaeke Emezi did an amazing job of shedding light on such a tough subject, in such a whimsical way as to not overwhelm her readers. I feel like this would be such a great book to discuss. 5 out of 5 stars, I highly recommend it.

The Way You Make Me Feel, book cover

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn't so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind?

With Maurene Goo's signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I really liked this book, but I will say the title was a little bit deceiving in my opinion. The title "The Way You Make Me Feel," with a very upset looking girl on the cover I thought I was going to be in for an emotional roller coaster of a read, but this book ended up being very light hearted. There wasn't a ton of conflict in this story. Basically in this book a girl named Clara Shin is forced to work on her father's food truck. Along the way she makes an unexpected friend, and even finds love. I want to say that this was a really sweet coming of age story. At the beginning of the story Clara is really wild and reckless, but there was a lot of character development throughout the story. Maurene Goo flawlessly transitions her character closer to adulthood. This was a very easy and quick read for me. I think this would be a great contemporary book to read in the summer time. I was getting a lot of summer vibes, because there were a couple scenes where Clara and her friends go swimming, and go to a water amusement park, etc. It was just a happy summertime read. Also one of my favorite parts of this book is Clara's mom is actually a social media influencer. so if you've ever been curious about what it would be like to be Instagram famous then this book offers a small glimpse into the "influencer" lifestyle.

This Is Where It Ends, book cover

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity High School finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03 a.m. The auditorium doors won't open.

10:05 a.m. Someone starts shooting.

Told from four different perspectives over the span of fifty-four harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I have never read a book like this. This book is about a school shooting set somewhere in Alabama, The entire book takes place in a span of 54 minutes and is told from multiple different perspectives. It's told from students outside of the high school waiting for information on loved ones, and students inside, trapped by the school shooter. This was such a sad and terrifying book to read. There was so much anticipation and build up while reading this book. I literally finished this book in one day because I just wanted to see which characters would survive until the end of the book. I thought the characters perspectives were unique. One student was the school shooters. recently ex girlfriend, so it was interesting to watch her character come to terms with who he really was as a person. Another perspective was from the school shooters own sister! The characters that Marieke Niijkamp chose to write about were the ones closest to the shooter. The only thing I'm disappointed about was that there were no chapters written from the shooters perspective. Everyone had different reasons as to why they think this person would want to cause harm, but they are all just assumptions and at the end of the book, no one really knew the real reasons. I felt like there was no sort of closure for the characters in this book.This book was absolutely heart breaking... If you want to cry read this book.