Honey Girl by Lisa Freeman [spoiler-free review]


Title: Honey Girl
Author: Lisa Freeman
Paperback: 288 pages
Publication Date: March 17th 2015
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, LGBTQIA+
Rating: star icon star icon star iconstar icon

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I was sent this book from the publicist for an honest review. This does not change my opinions of the book in any way.

Set in the summer of 1972 in California, we follow 15 year old, Nani who is dealing with the loss of her father, discovering herself and trying to fit in with the honey girls on the beach. This story was very unique because it’s about a Hawaiian girl living in 1972 when girls were not allowed to surf and being gay wasn’t accepted. We see scenes of how you were treated if you were gay and it saddened me. There is a scene where a gay man is beat up and screamed at for being gay. It was fascinating to learn about how different it was then vs now.

Nani is a complex character who is dealing with her mother, now a widow and living somewhere that isn’t Hawaii, her home. Throughout the story, Nani is focused on following rules she was taught to abide by to become a honey girl herself. Nani grows a liking to the lead honey girl, Rox and discovers that she likes boys and girls. Nani also gets involved in typical teenage drama with the group of girls they consider their enemies.

However, the story was very slow for me and I didn’t feel that there was much emphasis on Nani having a crush on Rox. This story is full of emotion and grief while Nani is grieving the loss of her father and trying to figure out a way to dump his ashes into the ocean where he belongs. Honey Girl has a lot going on, having me confused at times but I did enjoy the read overall. The writing is easy to read and Lisa Freeman includes Hawaiian slang words which are explained in English plus there is a glossary of some of the words in the back of the book. It was fun to learn some Hawaiian words, it was very different!

Historical fiction is not a genre I normally read therefore I cannot comment on the way Freeman executed it. But, it did feel like I was in the time period and setting in California. Freeman also includes mentioning of Nani’s father’s routine of  planting marijuana before his passing.

I do believe that this is a great summer read for young readers because of Nani as a character and discovering her sexuality. I will be continuing on with the sequel, Riptide Summer. A link to my review will be posted here when it is live.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han (contains spoilers)



Title:  Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Author:  Jenny Han
Hardback: 404 pages
Publication Date: May 2nd, 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Rating: star icon star icon star iconstar iconstar icon

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Many, many, many tears later…I am very satisfied with the ending to my favorite trilogy of all time. Here come some more tears. I’ve read Lara Jean’s story a total of five times and I loved being on adventures with her and Peter K as they created their love story. As a conclusion to this series that means so much to me, I am so thankful that Jenny decided to add this final book.

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Lara Jean is in her senior year of high school and making it last with her boyfriend, Peter Kavinsky. We see Lara Jean’s final year at home before she goes to college. She’s deciding on her destination and trying to make ends meet for her and Peter in the long run. Lara Jean faces college acceptances and rejections, she learns how to react to these changes.

Besides her own love life, she’s busy setting up her father’s wedding with Ms. Rothchild, their neighbor (seen in PS I Still Love You). I’m a lot like Lara Jean in the sense that I love organizing events but it can go too far sometimes. Lara Jean intervenes a little too much in the wedding and I could relate to this so much!! It’s just an instinct especially since she’s a crafty person.

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Lara Jean takes a trip to New York, which was one of my favorite scenes. They go to Levain Bakery – to taste the best chocolate chip cookie, The Brooklyn Bridge, and the Brooklyn Ice Cream Shop factory, and the Empire State Building just like Sleepless in Seattle *spoiler* ahh that promposal #goals!* We really get to see Peter’s affection toward LJ in this book specifically. He’s so sweet and kind to her with his grand gestures! I mean, we’ve seen his grand gestures in the past but these were elaborate!

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She forces Peter to watch her favorite movies, who knew Peter would like rom-coms?! I love that they had a movie list and took turns. This reminded me of my boyfriend senior year of high school. We dedicated every Monday to watching movies we liked/haven’t seen. This is when I watched Back to the Future for the first time :O  Jenny Han includes so many rom-com references and I loved it. Peter recreates the Sixteen Candles scene after prom for Lara Jean’s birthday. I’ve been living vicariously through their senior year/high school experience. Related image

As always, Lara Jean has a passion for baking, in this book she’s trying to perfect the best, most perfect chocolate-chip cookie! You’ll develop a strong craving for chocolate chip cookies after this or during – like me! I baked a lot during my read of this. Chocolate chip cookies and Chai Tea Eggnog Sugar Cookies (she bakes these in ps i still love you).

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This book had me crying from happiness and sadness. Peter made me cry from his cuteness and then Stormy was pronounced dead and I lost all control at a late hour in the night. WHY JENNY WHY?!?!? R.I.P. Stormy, she was such a great character and I loved her influence on Lara Jean. Her memorial service at the retirement home was great, it was all I expected and more!

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Books hardly ever make me cry, but this one is very special to my heart because it made me SOB, it always will be my favorite. Actually, I’m crying while writing this. The wedding scene is what started my endless sobbing. When Mr. Covey danced with his daughters I COULDN’T SEE THE PAGES I was crying so much. I was so happy for their family and it was so cute. The wedding was adorable and I loved all the Song girls being together.

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I think this was the perfect conclusion and all I really needed to end my favorite story with my favorite characters. It was bittersweet closure. I see so much of myself in LJ that I felt like I was going through her and Peter’s relationship myself. Lara Jean, Margot, Kitty, Jamie Fox-Pickle and Peter K will always hold a special place in my heart.

Hats off to Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky and their story. Thank you to Jenny for writing Lara Jean and her story. I’m forever thankful!

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*click the books to see my spoiler reviews for the other books

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Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman REVIEW


Title: Girl Out of Water
Author:  Laura Silverman
Hardback: 320 pages
Publication Date: May 2nd 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Rating: star icon star icon star icon

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I was sent this book from Sourcebooks through Net Galley for an honest review. This does not change my opinions of the book.

Personally, I felt that this book was very hyped up for me by many other bloggers I know and follow. Anise is ready for the best summer in her home of Santa Cruz to spend with her friends before they leave for college and one for the navy. She expected a great summer full of surfing waves, late night bonfires, and the Surf Break – a big music festival. Her plans drastically change when her Aunt Jackie gets in a horrific car accident and she has to spend her summer in Nebraska babysitting her cousins; Parker, Nash and Emery as well as helping Aunt Jackie around the house.

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Anise is devastated and sulking throughout her time in Nebraska with her cousins and her father. I really didn’t like Anise’s actions toward her friends and family, she was sulking the whole summer and taking it out on her friends and family members. I think she was selfish, however she made her summer work by taking her cousins to the skate park every day. She learns to appreciate the art of skateboarding to savor her loss of surfing all summer. I really liked the aspect of comparing Anise’s love for surfing with her learning to skateboard. This also had some perks because she meets a local skater, Lincoln – a disabled black character who is an excellent skater despite living with one arm. Lincoln and Anise spark a relationship and go on adventures. I really liked seeing their adventures and the fun spots that Lincoln took her.


The writing was concise and I did get some great quotes out of it! I especially liked Lincoln’s character because he pushed Anise and showed her that she didn’t have to lack her sense of adventure just because of her mother’s history. I appreciate this novel for Lincoln and his diversity, as well as the skateboarding and surfing aspect which I don’t see often! I also really loved her cousins, they were a nice and fun touch to the story and I was full of worry for them as Anise was.

We willmiss you!

However, this novel just fell short for me with Anise. She really bothered me and I hated that she pushed away her friends because she was angry about her summer plans being messed up. Then, she came back to Santa Cruz confused why her friends weren’t happy she was there? Like I mentioned, she was selfish but hid it from her cousins. I just didn’t love this as much as I expected to. I would recommend this for a diverse summer read. Diversity elements include a f/f relationship among side characters as well as Lincoln and his brother Austin who are adopted. Lincoln is black and Austin is white, their adopted father is Vietnamese.



Book Review: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson



Title: The Art of Being Normal
Author:  Lisa Williamson
Hardback: 275 pages
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, Young Adult
Rating: star icon star icon star icon star icon star icon

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This was an amazing book representing transgender. We see through dual POV, David who has wanted to be a girl ever since he was young and Leo who is the new student at David’s school; Eden Park School – a rich, prep school – Leo just wants to be invisible and get through the school year. But, the school starts buzzing when they find out that something happened at Leo’s old school bringing him to Eden Park.

David has great friends, who know that he wants to transition but he struggles at times being the third wheel since the two are dating. David has also not told his family about wanting to transition because of fear to how they will react, especially his father.

Leo is a mystery, so I am not going to say too much on him. But, I loved his story because it was so mysterious. We get to meet his family and their past history. He’s on the hunt to find his father, who left them when he and his sister were born.

I really just loved this story and everything it had in it. Especially, the friendship that evolves between Leo and David when Leo stands up to the bully David is trying to fight off. Leo was my favorite character, but I liked David’s family and friends. They were fun and very friendly. David has a very accepting coming out to his family however, it felt realistic as the parents build up emotions toward David and they don’t understand completely. The ending was bittersweet and had me smiling for David and for Leo.

I really enjoyed this because it was different and it didn’t focus heavily on a romance. It focused more on David and Leo’s lives, personalities and their future. This is a brief review because I do not want to spoil the book!

Between 2010 and 2012, I worked as an administrator at the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), based at the world-famous Tavistock Centre in North London. GIDS is the NHS service for under-eighteens struggling with their gender identity. The young people who used the service inspired me to write a story from the point of view of a transgender teenager. This eventually became The Art of Being Normal.  http://www.lisawilliamsonauthor.com/about.html 
The Art of Being Normal is not an own voices book. However, the representation comes from the author, Lisa Williamson’s’ experience working as an administrator at a Gender Identity Development Service. If you’re looking for a book that features transgender, I really recommend this one. Also, if you enjoyed, IF I WAS YOUR GIRL by Meredith Russo, you’ll like this one.

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli ~ SPOILER FREE REVIEW!


Title: The Upside of Unrequited 
Author:  Becky Albertalli
Hardback: 350 pages
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Rating: star icon star icon star iconstar iconstar icon

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It was inevitable that I would enjoy this book having loved Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, Becky’s debut novel and this book did a fantastic job at satisfying my book-lover needs.

Molly Peskin-Suso has had twenty-six crushes but has never been kissed. This has come easily for her twin sister, Cassie who has had girlfriends like it was not a problem. Molly learns about growing apart from her sister and finding herself. Everything changes this summer for Molly when she starts working at Bissel, a shop in town and meets a nerdy boy, Reid.

Reid and Molly are my new OTP. I shipped them so, so hard and I was laughing out loud. Reid is a funny guy who is obsessed with GoT and Cadbury Mini Eggs (same to the mini eggs). Reid has a great sense of humor and so much sarcasm. Their story is so cute and pure and I JUST LOVED IT AND THEM AND AH.

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This book has so much diversity within the character’s (race, sexual orientation, religion, mental health and size). Molly and Cassie are sperm-donor children and have two mothers, Patty and Nadine – who are #parentgoals – they’re so chillaxed and very supportive. Their family is Jewish and interracial, we see Jewish traditions implemented or just talk of Jewish culture (Reid is Jewish too 😉 ). Mina, Cassie’s girlfriend is a pansexual Korean American and we see some of her culture as well.

This is such a great coming of age novel about a seventeen year-old girl wishing for her first kiss. Molly’s story is so real, sweet and raw. I definitely related to Molly in many ways. She has a hard time interacting, she’s shy and experiences anxiety. Molly’s anxiety is not overlooked, we see scenes of her explaining her anxiety especially at a party. She talks about how she can’t drink or shouldn’t be drinking because of her anxiety medicine.This was so important because it’s not often addressed to the fullest. She feels like the friend that is being looked at in the wrong way. But, she also is a Pinterest queen and I envy her. I made some edible cookie  dough that she made and it was delicious.

Becky Albertalli takes this book and defeats the “fat girl” stereotype and makes Molly the YA heroine you wish you could be friends with and you’re rooting for throughout the whole story.

If you liked Simon, you are going to love this novel especially because we get to see more of Abby, who is Molly’s cousin. As well as glimpses of Simon and Nick.

Disclaimer: This book is like Mini Eggs, you’re sad when they are all gone. Truly, I didn’t want it to end.


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Book Review: You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

Title: You’re Welcome, Universe 
Author:  Whitney Gardner
Hardback: 297 pages
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Rating: star icon star icon star iconstar iconhalf, rating, star icon

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I was sent this book from the publisher, Knopf in exchange for an honest review.  This does not change my opinion of the book in any way.

Julia is a lover of art, street art to be specific. When she gets caught for the graffiti mural that she creates to hide a slur written about her bestfriend, Jordyn  on the wall behind the school, she is expelled when Jordyn rats her out. Julia is panicked and upset because she has to change schools and her mother’s will not be happy. This changes Julia’s life for the best, and she learns a lot of lessons along the way.  


I really admire  the representation in this novel especially on deaf culture. This is a topic I have never read about in YA fiction, having not picked up any books with deaf main characters. I have only read about blind main characters (Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom). Julia teaches us what it’s like to be in her shoes by seeing her daily routine when moving from a deaf school to a hearie school. It is a drastic change for her, she has to get an interpreter, Casey. We see her frustration as she tries to keep up with lip reading and trying to get others to understand her. As the reader, you get frustrated along with Julia when students and teachers just do not know what she’s trying to tell them. This is not an own voices book, but it definitely reads like one.

Julia is a deaf teenager with two deaf mothers, Ma and Mee. Mee is Julia’s biological mother who is Indian leading to Julia being an Indian character. Like I mentioned, I really admire the representation in this story, there is so much of it and it is fantastic. However, I really do wish that we had more emphasis on Julia’s Indian culture because we see so much of her deaf culture, her Indian culture is overlooked.  

“I don’t want Muslim hands touching my food. Or the children’s”. She turns and wraps he arms around the boy in the passenger seat, who looks as confused as I do. Some things I wish I didn’t lip-read. Just because I’m brown doesn’t mean I’m muslim” (59)

Whitney Gardner writes Julia as a normal teenager despite her disability. She works at McDonald’s as a fryer, we go with her to her shifts as she puts in the fries, takes them out, fries again, and puts them in their bags. I really loved this, I’m a sucker for characters that have jobs especially teenagers because it adds to the Realistic Fiction aspect. 

Julia learns a lot of life lessons in this story, a main topic is friendship and finding out who your true friends really are. As well as keep doing what you love, no matter what gets in the way. Julia struggles with maintaining a friendship with her friend, Jordyn, who has a cochlear implant. Jordyn is busy chasing after a boy they work with, Donovan, who Julia also has a crush on.  Jordyn could care less about Julia, at that given time and is just rude. Jordyn is really a fake friend to Julia. 

If you were a fan of the book, Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom you will love You’re Welcome, Universe. Parker from NIISYF and Julia would be the best of friends, they have similar personalities and they do not want anyone’s pity because of their disability. I really loved that about NIISYF and I really enjoyed having another character like her in Julia. Another thing NIISYF does is put less emphasis on romance, which Gardner did with You’re Welcome, Universe. Julia develops a crush on Donovan but it doesn’t escalate to be the center of the story.

If you aren’t convinced to pick up this book already, here is another reason. The author, Whitney Gardner is also the illustrator and the illustrations are spectacular!! Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll see while reading You’re Welcome, Universe and the illustrations match up with the story! Gardner really captures Julia’s art to the fullest in this novel.


Nonetheless, I really enjoyed this book and I would like to thank Knopf again for sending me a copy of this to review! Go pick up your copy now, you won’t regret this read!

IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

YOU’RE WELCOME, UNIVERSE is an American Booksellers Association Indies Introduce Pick for the Winter/Spring 2017 season.



This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E Smith – Book Review


Title: This is What Happy Looks Like
Author:  Jennifer E. Smith
Hardback: 404 pages
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2013
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Rating: star icon star icon star icon

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This is What Happy Looks Like follows Ellie and Graham when they meet through an accidental email. Graham accidently sends an email to Ellie, writing to his pig walker for his pig, Wilbur. They start up an long lived conversation and the story continues…..

I really think I had high expectations for this book having it be about an email anon relationship, however it was super short and I wished we got to see their relationship through emails progress instead of “3 months later”. I didn’t feel the email aspect per say and I really wanted the book to be centered around finding out who Graham was rather than how quickly we were introduced to him.

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Quickly, we find out that Graham is a famous movie star on set for a movie he’s filming. Hung up on Ellie, he asks his director if they could move set to Hunley, Maine (WHERE ELLIE LIVES!! NOT CREEPY AT ALL???). They say yes, it’s a small town blah blah blah. So, Graham sets out to meet Ellie and oh, he does.

The way I feel about this book is a lot similar to my feelings toward The Geography of You and Me. I felt like Ellie was a lot like Lucy, where she got mad at Graham for her own personal reasons and just tried to push him out of her life without any explanation. Then, she went back to him?

I guess the book fell short for me because of my own personal preferences especially how the chapters aren’t split in dual POV and the chapters telling you which character we’ll be reading from. Jennifer E Smith writes in third person which really throws me off and I was very confused to which character we were reading from, having their names helped but I did feel confused and just wished I had the first person.

However, I really enjoyed Graham toward the end of the book and I feel I knew his personality better the last 20 pages !?! I wanted more of Graham’s wit and sweet side throughout the whole story.

Last, I did enjoy the way family is introduced between the two characters, a lot like The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight where Hadley and Oliver both have family storylines that aren’t the best, but are meaningful to the story and characters.

I really did find myself dragging through the book, I almost DNFed at page 340 because I was so done with it. But, the ending really helped me and I just wish the book was more like that!

I recommend this for a summer read, I read it in the Winter but I still liked the Fourth of July scenes and the hot summer days!

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