October: 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

Not So Pure and Simple, book cover

Not So Pure and Simple by L. R. Giles

Del has had a crush on Kiera Westing since kindergarten. And now, during their junior year, she’s finally available. So when Kiera volunteers for an opportunity at their church, Del’s right behind her. Though he quickly realizes he’s inadvertently signed up for a Purity Pledge.

His dad thinks his wires are crossed, and his best friend, Qwan, doesn’t believe any girl is worth the long game. But Del’s not about to lose his dream girl, and that’s where fellow pledger Jameer comes in. He can put in the good word. In exchange, Del just has to get answers to the Pledgers’ questions…about sex ed.

With other boys circling Kiera like sharks, Del needs to make his move fast. But as he plots and plans, he neglects to ask the most important question: What does Kiera want? He can’t think about that too much, though, because once he gets the girl, it’ll all sort itself out. Right?

My Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

I really did like this book...except the main character really irritated me, like I full on hated him by the end of the book! Basically in this book the main character Del has a huge crush on a girl named Kiera. Kiera has always had a boyfriend and has never been available. Even though Del hasn't talked to Kiera since like kindergarten he somehow gets it into his head that he is going to be Kiera's new boyfriend. He straight up said, "I have dibs," in the book! This is where my irritation with Del began. Basically in this book Del comes up with this elaborate plan for getting Kiera's attention. He even joins her "Purity Pledge Club" at Church, just to get an opportunity to worm his way into her life. He does things like planning "group" outings and then making the other members disappear so that he can forcibly trick her into a one on one "date." A date that she has NO IDEA is even a date! Del is borderline crazy, incredibly pushy and borders on sexual harassment/ stalker behavior the entire book! I don't think a main character has ever irritated me as much as Del has, he was incredibly problematic the ENTIRE book! Kiera is very blatant in the fact that she is NOT interested in Del, but he refuses to acknowledge that fact. He thinks if he's persistent Kiera will miraculously change her mind, even though she has made it extremely clear that she is disgusted by him and no longer wants to be anywhere alone with him! Del has made her feel that uncomfortable, which I guess was the whole point of the novel to show how sometimes people don't understand "No means No." Del even justifies his actions by saying, "I'm not a rapist." Del may not be a rapist but he was a borderline STALKER claiming to be "friends." I flat out hated Del, I have never wanted to punch a fictional character in the face before. I guess it was a really good book, but unless you've been on the other side (Kierra's side) where you flat out tell someone that your not interested and they don't get it! I don't think you will fully grasp the authors main objective. I felt like Del's harassment was very, very subtle unless you've been in that position? I don't know let me know your thoughts in the comments was the author too subtle? Did you also find Del's behavior to be problematic? I'm curious to know peoples thoughts. This book was really good, but honestly just thinking about this book makes me angry. #TeamKiera Sorry, if that was too many spoilers, but this book really irritated me!

Girl Gone Viral, book cover

Girl Gone Viral by Arvin Ahmadi

For seventeen-year-old Opal Hopper, code is magic. She builds entire worlds from scratch: Mars craters, shimmering lakes, any virtual experience her heart desires.

But she can't code her dad back into her life. When he disappeared after her tenth birthday, leaving only a cryptic note, Opal tried desperately to find him. And when he never turned up, she enrolled at a boarding school for technical prodigies and tried to forget.

Until now. Because WAVE, the world's biggest virtual reality platform, has announced a contest where the winner gets to meet its billionaire founder. The same billionaire who worked closely with Opal's dad. The one she always believed might know where he went. The one who maybe even murdered him.

What begins as a small data hack to win the contest spirals out of control when Opal goes viral, digging her deeper into a hole of lies, hacks, and manipulation. How far will Opal go for the answers--or is it the attention--she's wanted for years?

My Rating: 3 Out of 5 Stars

If I'm being honest this book was incredibly boring! I had the hardest time getting through this novel, and I in all honesty I didn't want to finish reading it... First off I am obsessed with all things social media, so I really thought that I was going to love this novel. I mean its even set in the Silicon Valley! This book is set in a futuristic Palo Alto. Iphones are now considered out dated technology, Youtube stars are no longer relevant because now it is all about the website, "WAVE." Wave is a fully subversive virtual reality program that now allows it's users to follow social media influencers around and get gossip first hand! Crazy right!? Basically there is no longer such a thing as "privacy." In this book the main character Opal is competing in a technology based competition. This competition is about all things influencers and the algorithms. Opal has to make a "WAVE" channel, figure out what people are interested in, create content and whoever gets the most views, will win the competition. Opal is determined to win the competition in order to meet with her missing fathers former colleague, who is now the head developer of WAVE. She believes that he is somehow responsible for her fathers disappearance. This novel did have a mystery integrated into the novel, but I think that a lot of the social media aspects clouded up this plot line and made it not even a main focus in the novel. The novel got side tracked from this plot by Opal's social media, school life and new boyfriend, etc. I got about three fourths of the way through this novel and I was still no where closer to figuring out the mystery, like it got completely put on the back burner. This book completely lost my attention because the author got so side tracked while writing this novel. The mystery wasn't even solved until the last 10 minutes of the audio book and by that time I no longer even cared! The technology premises for this novel was incredibly interesting especially if your from the Silicon Valley, but otherwise the only thing I liked about this book was the cover... maybe that's a little harsh but I got really, really bored while reading this novel. I'd rate this book lower, but I'm going to give it a 3 for creativity, the futuristic setting was incredibly fascinating and the fact that the author came up with a whole new form of social media was a touch of genius, but I just got lost in the storyline.

Love Me, Love Me Not by Io Sakisaka

Love Me, Love Me Not, book cover
Love Me, Love Me Not, book cover

A new romance from Io Sakisaka, leading shojo manga creator and author of Ao Haru Ride!

Four friends share the springtime of their youth together.

Fast friends Yuna and Akari are complete opposites: Yuna is an idealist while Akari is a realist. When lady-killer Rio and the oblivious Kazuomi join their ranks, love and friendship become quite complicated!

My Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

NEW MANGA ALERT! So in case you didn't know SJPL has recently added a ton of new manga to the collection and due to COVID backdating everything we are finally able to get our hands on some of the new manga we have been not so patiently anticipating! This manga Love Me, Love Me Not by Io Sakisaka is the same author who wrote Strobe Edge. If you have not read that manga yet, that's another series that I highly, highly recommend. Its another Shojo Beat romantic comedy. Anyway, in this manga series the main character Yuna's best and only friend has just moved away! Heartbreaking I know, she is really shy, so its hard for her to make new friends who she feels truly understand her and her overly romanticized expectations on true love. Anyway she unexpectedly ends up running into a girl named Akira who has just moved into town and has no friends either. Akira is incredibly confident, super-outgoing and has been in love many, many times. The two girls are complete and total opposites, but they end up striking up a remarkable friendship. Yuna even ends up falling in love with Akira's brother! Which is crazy because she's never even had a crush before. Akira makes it her solid mission to make sure the two of them fall in love. I personally could not get enough of this wacky scenario and I can't wait to read the rest of this series. Did I mention that there is a CRAZY, out of frame plot twist that gets revealed on the very last page! I never saw it coming and I am now completely, 100% invested in this plot! I just know that this is going to end up being one of my favorite manga series. It just has a really good cast of characters and the artwork is stunning. I can't wait to finish this series.

Love In Focus by Yoko Nogiri

Love in Focus, book cover
Love in Focus , book cover
Love in Focus, book cover

Mako's always had a passion for photography. When she loses someone dear to her, she clings to her art as a relic of the close relationship she once had...Luckily, her childhood best friend Kei encourages her to come to his high school and join their prestigious photo club. With nothing to lose, Mako grabs her camera and moves into the dorm where Kei and his classmates live. Soon, a fresh take on life, along with a mysterious new muse, begin to come into focus!

My Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars

For this manga series, I was able to finish the entire series quickly since it is only 3 books long. I love that this was a short series. I hate when manga doesn't get wrapped up right away! I don't want to read 52 books before finding out if the main characters are going to be together or not! That's just my personal pet peeve when it comes to manga. I do not have the attention span for that, if things don't get wrapped up before book 20 I'm just not going to finish the series, I am going to move on with my life and those unanswered questions are just going to burn a hole in my soul, like why do manga artists have to be like that?! Anyway in this novel the main character Mako decides she needs to transfer schools after a family members death. Mako is invited to move in with a childhood friend named Kei, a boy. They are currently living in a shared boarding house with a bunch of other people. Mako ends up making friends with another boy from the boarding house and things quickly turn into a love triangle. Kei has been in love with Mako since childhood and there is no way he is going to let a random roommate step on his chance of finally being with Mako. It was such a cute romance. I really like that things got wrapped up quickly and I didn't have to wait until book 10 to find out how this love triangle would turn out, but this was one instance where I totally would have been okay with reading 10 more novels. I felt like although it was a great ending, and everything was essentially squared away, but I still felt like the story line ran a little too smoothly. This manga could have used a good monkey wrench or two to stir things up! This was one storyline that actually had a lot of potential to be really GOOD but instead, because everything ran so smoothly there wasn't a lot of drama and it ended up just being, "OKAY." I do recommend this series though just because it was short and cute, easy to read. The artwork was also really good. This is by the same author who wrote That Wolf Boy is Mine, so if you liked that series I'm sure you'll like this one too.

Arisa by Natsumi Ando

Arisa, book cover
Arisa, book cover
Arisa, book cover
Arisa, book cover
Arisa, book cover
Arisa, book cover

Tsubasa thinks that her pretty and popular twin sister, Arisa, has the perfect life. Everyone at school loves Arisa—unlike the hot-tempered Tsubasa, whose nickname is “the Demon Princess.” But when Arisa attempts suicide, Tsubasa learns that her seemingly perfect sister has been keeping some dark secrets. Now Tsubasa is going undercover at school—disguised as Arisa—in search of the truth. But will Arisa’s secrets shatter Tsubasa’s life, too? 

My Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

This is not a new series, this is just one I've been putting off finishing FOREVER, even though its really good! Basically this manga series is about a game called "King Time" in this game students submit wishes to the KING and he or she grants one of the classmates wishes. Nobody knows who the king is, but they always deliver no matter what the wish is. Anyway this game quickly turns sinister and people start wishing for some dark things to happen to other classmates, etc. When something happens to Arisa and she ends up in a coma, her twin sister Tsubasa is determined to find out who exactly is behind King Time. Tsubasa decides to pretend to be Arisa and takes over Arisa's life completely. She changes her hair and her personality in order to look and act identical to her twin sister. She's doing her best not to get caught before figuring out the answers to this gripping mystery. This was such a great series I love a good mystery/thriller and it's even better when it comes in a graphic novel form! This was also by Natsumi Ando, one of my all time favorite manga artists. There isn't a single book she has written that I don't completely love. She is the author for the manga series Kitchen Princess and Zodiac P.I.. I believe those are the only two series by her that SJPL currently has but the rest can be requested through Link+ if you're interested in more of her writing. The artwork is stunning and the plot line is on point. I was completely addicted and ended up finishing the rest of this series in one day! Give it a try if you haven't already. This particular title is also great for fans of The Lying Game by Sara Shepard because it has similar themes of identical twins taking over each others lives, in order to unravel a dangerous secret.