Wednesday, July 31, 2019

100 Days of Sunlight, or, the One with My Life Story plus More Cute Stuff and Some Blindness

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100 Days of Sunlight

by Abbie Emmons

Pages: 311
Publisher: Self-published by author
Publication Date: August 7th, 2019
Cover Comments: Major props to the author for designing this cover herself. It's adorable and has so many clues pointing to plot lines in the novel.
First Lines: 
"The black pickup truck flies through the red light, heading straight for us.
               Goodreads δΈ¨ Amazon
When 16-year-old poetry blogger Tessa Dickinson is involved in a car accident and loses her eyesight for 100 days, she feels like her whole world has been turned upside-down. 

Terrified that her vision might never return, Tessa feels like she has nothing left to be happy about. But when her grandparents place an ad in the local newspaper looking for a typist to help Tessa continue writing and blogging, an unlikely answer knocks at their door: Weston Ludovico, a boy her age with bright eyes, an optimistic smile…and no legs.

Knowing how angry and afraid Tessa is feeling, Weston thinks he can help her. But he has one condition — no one can tell Tessa about his disability. And because she can’t see him, she treats him with contempt: screaming at him to get out of her house and never come back. But for Weston, it’s the most amazing feeling: to be treated like a normal person, not just a sob story. So he comes back. Again and again and again.

Tessa spurns Weston’s “obnoxious optimism”, convinced that he has no idea what she’s going through. But Weston knows exactly how she feels and reaches into her darkness to show her that there is more than one way to experience the world. As Tessa grows closer to Weston, she finds it harder and harder to imagine life without him — and Weston can’t imagine life without her. But he still hasn’t told her the truth, and when Tessa’s sight returns he’ll have to make the hardest decision of his life: vanish from Tessa’s world…or overcome his fear of being seen.

100 Days of Sunlight is a poignant and heartfelt novel by author Abbie Emmons. If you like sweet contemporary romance and strong family themes then you’ll love this touching story of hope, healing, and getting back up when life knocks you down.



100 Days of Sunlight is a cute book that made me smile and feel the sunshine a little extra on my skin. I’ve been on a string of really good contemporary novels lately (shoutout to my girl Kasie West), and I was sure that 100 Days would continue that streak. I loved the story as described through the synopsis, and I always like to support people in the blog/vlog community. However, I have a lot of qualms about the story, characters, and writing that took away from my enjoyment of the novel as a whole.

I’m a little convinced that Abbie Emmons has been stalking me, or my high school self anyway. In high school, I was homeschooled, Christian, bookish, lived with other relatives instead of my parents from a young age, and ran a blog in my spare time. I should have related a lot to the main character, Tessa, but the sentence above pretty much describes everything we know about Tessa, besides the recent turn of events that rendered her blind. I never got a sense for who she was as a person. Her character was mainly defined by her reactions to Weston. We got tiny insights into her personality when she’s talking with her online friends through chat, but there were so many missed opportunities to go beneath the surface. I felt like more could have been explored concerning Tessa’s parents and her feelings about them, her relationship with her grandparents, even her faith and how it is affected by this period in her life, but everything stayed surface-level. Also, I cringe when I read books about homeschooled teens who don’t have deep friendships with other teens face-to-face. I’m all for connecting with friends over the internet, but sometimes you actually need to be with friends, physically, and I don’t care for the stereotype perpetuated here that homeschoolers don’t have friends outside of the digital world. Also that Christian teens don't have "inappropriate" thoughts about boys.

The story gave a little more depth to Weston, mainly through his flashbacks to his injury. Weston’s story about how his disability began and how he coped with it was the part of the book where I began to be more pulled in - I wanted to know what happened and how he got to be the lil ray of sunshine that he was. Prior to the flashbacks, I thought Weston was annoying and creepy (how about not stalking someone to their home and then refusing to leave when asked, yeah?), but hearing more about his life, his friendship with Rudy, and his ADORABLE three little brothers was really interesting. However, at a certain point, his sections started to become more of a motivational speech (literally at one point) that teetered on the edge of being sanctimonious. This became even more evident when he monologues about how he needs to “save” Tessa, and show her how to stand up to Life, which is where his character got some points shaved off the cute guy total.

Getting past my initial dislike of the idea that Weston has decided to swoop in uninvited to show Tessa how to live, I really liked the way the book is divided into five senses - smell, hearing, taste, touch, and sight. I really think this book would make a great rom-com movie. The way Weston tries to make Tessa happy through showing her how to experience things through the senses she still has is truly sweet, and makes for some adorable moments. This is where the story really grew on me, namely when Weston and Tessa watch Tessa’s favorite movie - I’m leaving this intentionally vague so you can enjoy the sweetness yourself first. The only thing that spoiled the romance aspect of the book was a consent issue that made me uncomfy. I don't want to spoil anything, but you'll know it when you see it.

I thought that the obstacle to Tessa and Weston being together was pretty artificial. I didn’t buy that Weston would be afraid of Tessa knowing about his disability and wish that this point had been built to more. Finally, there were some aspects of the writing that I found a bit juvenile and irritating, like Tessa’s poetry (unless it was intentionally cringe-y, because I too wrote poetry like that in high school…), and the tendency of the author to emphasize things by doing this: I am blind.
b l i n d.

In a nutshell, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a short, cute contemporary romance in the style of Me Before You or Five Feet Apart. I loved reading about Weston’s little brothers, Weston’s relationship with his best friend Rudy, and sweet portions of Tessa and Weston’s romance. I know that Abbie Emmons is a young indie author and that this is her debut novel, so I have high hopes that her next offerings will be more fleshed out and enjoyable. 100 Days of Sunlight is a great start.


*Thanks to Netgalley and the author for the chance to read 100 Days of Sunglight before its publication date.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer (Reads)

One of my favorite things in this world is what I call seasonal reading (is this a real thing outside of my head? Not sure). I love to pick a book that reflects what it's like outside. It makes me feel more connected to the world outside and the world inside the book. So, I'm rounding up my favorite summer reads for your seasonal pleasure. Enjoy!

In no particular order...

1) Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West

35068742One of the more adorable novels I've read, Love, Life & the List follows Abby and her best friend Cooper as they spend the summer following a list Abby's come up with that will give her more emotional depth for her to channel into her art. There are more feels than I bargained for in this book though - in the best way. I loved Abby and Cooper's friendship and the complexity of Abby's relationship with her mom, who sometimes spends weeks never leaving the house. Add a sarcastic grandpa and I'm in love. This book makes me remember all the meandering summers you have before the "real world" gets ya - time to discover yourself and dive into the things and people you love.

2) The Secret Life of Bees

37435. sy475 The Secret Life of Bees perfectly captures the feeling and atmosphere of summer in the south. The intense heat and humidity coupled with the sweetness of honey and bees, the hard social realities paired with the strength of Southern women - it all comes together poetically in this historical novel based in the 60's. It will make you laugh, cry, and want to become a beekeeper. This is up there as one of my favorite novels ever, and it's perfect for this time of year.

3) Stay by Deb Caletti

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This book wrecked me. Stay covers an abusive relationship, leaving out none of the details. What's striking about the book is that it jumps between present day, when the main character Clara knows that her ex-boyfriend Christian was abusive, and the beginnings of their relationship, when she didn't see the signs. The setting is a beach town, but this isn't your typical light beach read. This is more of beach during a thunderstorm with waves crashing against the sharp rocks type of mood - still beautiful, but dangerous.

4) The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

6584189. sy475 The Summer I Turned Pretty perfectly captures the feeling of hope and possibility that summer can bring. Maybe this will be the summer that I learn to surf, take a long road trip, or hey, turn pretty! This book is total wish fulfillment for so many girls - I know I thought that every time I went back to school or saw someone I hadn't seen in a year I wondered - do I seem different? Can I reinvent myself now? Belly is experiencing that throughout the novel during her summer on Cousins Beach. This is the quintessential beach read - light and romantic.

5) Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

7306337While I haven't actually gotten around to reading this one for whatever reason, the cover and description have always intrigued me. Main character Anna is attempting to deal with the death of her boyfriend Matt. It's complicated, though - Matt is her best friend Frankie's older brother, and no one knew they were together. Anna grieves alone while Frankie attempts a twenty-boy summer: with twenty days in Zanzibar Bay, if they meet one boy a day, they're bound to find true love. This book promises to be bittersweet, but if it's anything like Sarah Ockler's other books, ultimately worth it.

6) The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams

35068700Another book that I've only admired so far, but Beatriz Williams' writing is always well-researched and interesting. The Summer Wives is a historical fiction set in the summers of 1951 and 1969 on the New England coast. I love the idea of a New England summer since I've only experienced beaches in Georgia, Florida and Hawaii - I feel like New England is a completely different vibe (and obviously was in the 50's!). The novel follows Miranda from 1951 to her return to the same island town in 1969. I really want to fit this one in to read this summer, it looks amazing!

7) Summer Days and Summer Nights, anthology edited by Stephanie Perkins

25063781And just in case you can't settle on just one or two stories - the perfect anthology for the summer! I've read the winter anthology My True Love Gave to Me, also edited by Stephanie Perkins, which seems to be the pair to this one. There are so many great authors contributing to this one - Cassandra Clare, Jennifer E. Smith, Libba Bray, Veronica Roth, and the list goes on.

See my summer reading list on Goodreads for these and other summer reads!

Monday, July 15, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (3)

This meme started on J Kaye’s blog and was then passed on to Sheila from Book Journey, then Kathryn The Book Date, where it currently resides. It's a fun way to share what we've read in the past week, what we're currently reading, and what's next!

Covers link to Goodreads, reviews linked below if I've posted them!


1. Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson


Sorcery of Thorns is one of my favorite books of 2019 thus far! I loved the focus on libraries and dangerous books, and the romance and love interest was sublime. Silas was probably my favorite character though - animal sidekicks ftw.


2. Happy Together by Suzann Pileggi Pawelski and James O. Pawelski


I am literally always on a self-help kick, and wanted to read one about romantic relationships specifically. I thought Happy Together took a great approach to relationships by emphasizing positive psychology, and seeing the best in your partner. There are some great exercises in here that I can't wait to try out with my significant other! It wasn't life-changing, but I did quite enjoy reading this one.


3. Save the Date by Morgan Matson

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Save the Date was a fluffy and funny contemporary novel revolving around the main character, Charlie, and her sister's wedding. It focuses on the issues of change when it comes to family. Charlie tries so hard throughout the novel to reconnect with her four siblings and get back that feeling of the whole family hanging out together and talking, the way it was before everyone moved out of the house. Charlie is the youngest, and the last one left, the house is being sold, and her mother's comic focusing on their family is ending. 

I liked Save the Date well enough, but I noticed something that many other readers on Goodreads did as well: it sort of read like a screenplay. There were some great scenes I could imagine full-out cackling at if it were a movie scene, but only got a slight smile, if that, in book format. I did appreciate the focus on family and siblings - although there is a little romance - and the realization that sometimes your family isn't perfect, and that's okay!


Currently Reading: 

I went a little crazy starting new books this week, as you can see... no judgement!!

1. Burned (Pretty Little Liars #12) by Sara Shepard


This is one of those series that never ends, but I kinda don't mind it (think the other neverending series, Gossip Girl). It's pure fluff, and interesting enough to keep me turning pages, even though I know that A is not whoever the girls are guessing at this point.

2. Split Second (Pivot Point #2) by Kasie West


I LOVED the first book is this series, Pivot Point, so I immediately started on the next one. This one alternates between the main character Addie's POV, and her best friend Laila. It's not quite as engrossing as Pivot Point, but I do like being able to see inside Laila's head since she seemed a little shallow in the first book.

3. Grim Tuesday (Keys to the Kingdom #2) by Garth Nix


I love Garth Nix with a probably abnormal passion, so I'm determined to get into this series despite not finding the first book very compelling. I'm not far into Grim Tuesday, but it's not hooking me so far, sadly.

4. The Summer I Turned Pretty (Summer #1) by Jenny Han

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I'm almost ten years behind the hype on this one, but it's super cute so far! I love short chapters <3

5. The Gathering Storm (Katerina #1) by Robin Bridges


I plucked this one off my shelf through a random reads thing I've been doing - putting all my to-read books on Goodreads into a random number generator and reading the one that is selected. The Gathering Storm is a little different than what I expected based on the cover, but I'm intrigued.


It'll be all I can do to finish my currently reading for next week I think, but I am going to start a couple new things despite that.

1. Coral by Sara Ella


I was just approved for an ARC of Coral on Netgalley, and I'm so excited! The Little Mermaid was my favorite movie as a kid, and adult me likes the angst of the original Hans Christian Anderson tale as well - this is a twist on that version. I can't wait to dig into this. The book comes out in November!

2. Messenger by Lois Lowry


I re-read The Giver recently and remembered how much I loved it - I'm finishing up the series now, and really enjoying the new stories and characters.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Sorcery of Thorns, or, The One with LIBRARIANS WIELDING SWORDS, SO MUCH YES


Sorcery of Thorns

by Margaret Rogerson

Pages: 456

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Publication Date: June 4th, 2019

Cover Comments: This cover is gorgeous, and I love that it matches the style of the author's other book, An Enchantment of Ravens. I love that the sword and vines with thorns on them give subtle clues to the story without being heavy-handed. I wish Silas had made it on the cover though, in cat form of course.

Synopsis: All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.


“Books, too, had hearts, though they were not the same as people's, and a book's heart could be broken: she had seen it happen before. Grimoires that refused to open, their voices gone silent, or whose ink faded and bled across the pages like tears.” 

Sorcery of Thorns made it *this close* to my list of all-time favorite books, and definitely tops my list of favorite reads of 2019. Although quite a long book, it pulled me out of a reading slump and I flew through it. The premise of sword-wielding librarians and books that bite back is amazing, but Margaret Rogerson gets so much deeper into the library and grimoire mythology, really making this an amazing book.

The yays and nays, in no particular order:


1) Library magic (cue The Head & the Heart)

Okay, any book set in a library and revolving around libraries and books automatically gets a yes from me. I don't think I've read one that involves those elements that I didn't love. But Rogerson goes even deeper to make libraries and books not just an element of Sorcery of Thorns, but an integral plot point that leads to one of the most touching scenes I've read in recent memory. LOVE.

2) Nathaniel

Best. love. interest. ever. I am head over heels for Nathaniel's dry humor and complicated past. What's a boy without emotional baggage, amirite? *crickets* ...okay, moving on.

Nathaniel's backstory and his relationship with his demonic servant, Silas, is complicated and simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming. And the way he and Elisabeth interact is hilarious and touching. For example:

“His severe expression faltered as his hand grazed the cape covering her gown.

"Scrivener," he said carefully, "I don't mean to be forward, but is that a—"

"A sword hidden underneath my dress? Yes, it is."

"I see. And how exactly is it—"

"I thought you didn't mean to be forward." She squeezed his arm. "Come on.” 

I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll leave the touching lines for you to discover.

3) Tall, strong female who don't need no man (but she does like one)

Elisabeth isn't afraid to wield a sword or crowbar, fight demons, or take down powerful men if they are doing wicked things. She's tall, brave, and not afraid to make a scene in social situations, which I personally enjoyed greatly.

4) Subtle nod to fluid sexuality

It's a very small part of the book, but it's mentioned that Nathaniel is bi-sexual, and it's totally not a big deal. You know why? CAUSE IT'S NOT A BIG DEAL, PEOPLE. It's nice to see different sexuality types thrown in without a huge plotline being made of it. It's just a natural part of the character.

5) World-building

As the plot unfolds, we get to learn more about the Great Libraries, grimoires, demons, and the Otherworld, and it's all so fascinating.

6) Silas

I LOVE SILAS, probably because he reminds me of Moggett from Garth Nix's Abhorsen series (see more on that below). The duality of his nature is fascinating, with his demon side constantly battling with the side of him that would kill his beloved master in a heartbeat.

“First, I learned how to make tea," he said finally, speaking more to himself than to her. "When humans wish to help, they are forever offering each other tea.” 

Also, his animal form looks a bit like this, I imagine, so ALL THE STARS.


1) Too much borrowing

There's a reason I love Silas and the Great Libraries so much, aside from their inherent awesomeness: I've seen them before. Silas is pretty much Moggett from the Abhorsen series by Garth Nix: great powerful, evil being who can take a cat form (check), can be released, but it might end the world (check), sarcastic (check), great/evil power held in check by a family that it serves (check). The Great Libraries in Sorcery of Thorns are much like the library of the Clayr in Lirael, the second in the Abhorsen series. Lirael herself was raised an orphan in a library, just like Lirael, or even Lazlo from Strange the Dreamer. The biggest difference is that Nix did it slightly better, no offense to Rogerson. Rogerson freely cites Nix's books and the restricted section in the Hogwarts library as inspirations for Sorcery of Thorns, and she definitely expands on the ideas in a new and interesting way, but it was a little too much borrowing for my taste. I probably would have given the book five stars if I had not already read Nix's series.

2) Slightly predictable

There were definitely some twists and turns in there that I didn't anticipate, but I knew who the villain was immediately, and knew how the battle at the end would turn out.

3) Could use some Jenny Craig

Some slight trimming could have been done here - the book is over 450 pages, and there were some parts in the middle that were a little slow and didn't contribute much to the plot. However, I didn't get bored!

I think this will definitely be a favorite for this year, for me and many other readers. I highly recommend for anyone who loves libraries, snark, and demonology (jk on the last one... sorta).

4.5/5 biting books