Book Review | Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan

I make efforts to read diverse books.

I especially like books with non-straight narrators or characters, but the selling point for me was not that the main character was bi-sexual. The selling point was the setting.

An amusement park in summer? I can’t think of a more perfect summer reading option than a book set in summer at an amusement park.

I mean, I live pretty close to a pretty large chain amusement park (this is a thing right?) but I grew up near a local amusement park and my days at this park were always some of the best.

Reading this book was almost like vicariously living through a character to live out my high school dream of being able to work at my local amusement parks.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Elouise (Lou) Parker is determined to have the absolute best, most impossibly epic summer of her life. There are just a few things standing in her way:

* She’s landed a job at Magic Castle Playland . . . as a giant dancing hot dog.
* Her crush, the dreamy Diving Pirate Nick, already has a girlfriend, who is literally the Princess of the park. But Lou’s never liked anyone, guy or otherwise, this much before, and now she wants a chance at her own happily ever after.
* Her best friend, Seeley, the carousel operator, who’s always been up for anything, suddenly isn’t when it comes to Lou’s quest to set her up with the perfect girl or Lou’s scheme to get close to Nick.
* And it turns out that this will be their last summer at Magic Castle Playland–ever–unless she can find a way to stop it from closing.

Jennifer Dugan’s sparkling debut coming-of-age queer romance stars a princess, a pirate, a hot dog, and a carousel operator who find love–and themselves–in unexpected people and unforgettable places. 

Elouise and Seeley

They have the best version of best friendship. I loved Seeley’s character. She’s much more than her wild colored hair and I just loved her sassy, sarcastic attitude.

Elouise was not always my favorite but in all fairness, most leading ladies never are my favorite. There’s always something about the leading ladies in YA novels that makes me want to shake them and say “LOOK BITCH!” Elouise is no exception. She’s incredibly dense, but so lovable. I was rooting for her the whole time, even though I was rooting against what she thought she wanted.

A teensy tiny bit of cliche

There’s a fake relationship in this novel.

If you’ve read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before you know how this goes.

I’ll leave it at that.

Bi Girls Date Girls for Boys Attention?

This is something I’ve read a lot of on Goodreads lately, especially in regards to this book. I don’t see it that way at all though. If Elouise fake-dated someone for the attention of her crush, don’t you think she’d be walking around in all her PDA glory for said attention? Or is that just me? Spoiler alert: that’s totally not the case.

I don’t get some of the internet critics so if you are one, can you enlighten me please?

Overall thoughts

You all know I love a good debut. This one was decent. Totally a cutesy summer story about love and friendship and it was exactly what I needed when I picked it up.

Overall, I wasn’t disappointed and if Jennifer Dugan writes another book I’d read it. She has a really sweet writing style that I can’t stop thinking about.

Rating: ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐Ÿ’ซ

This was v cute (my goodreads review lol).

Let’s chat!!

What’s your favorite childhood summertime memory? It doesn’t have to be childhood, but a favorite summertime memory in general.

My favorite summer memory involves a trip to San Diego to visit my bestie when I was about 24. We went to Disneyland on that trip and it was one of the best days of my life.

Book Review | More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

I fell into a reading slump at the end of my first term of library school. I was stressed about my portfolio – which I’ll be writing about later this week – and worried that I wasn’t good enough to make it through my remaining 5 terms.

This is the vicious cycle my anxiety takes me through. I’m anxious because of school and I’m anxious without school because I’m anxious about grades and new terms and meeting new professors and classmates. It’s endlessly draining.

So when I fall into a slump like this, I always find it best to turn to an author I know I love.

When I discovered Mr. Silvera’s writing, it was not through his debut novel – it was, in fact, through the much raved about They Both Die at the End. I saw it on sale, picked it up, and discovered a new favorite author.

Until recently, Silvera’s other two novels have been sitting on my TBR cart – patiently waiting for my cycle of anxiety to bring me back.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Part Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, part Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Adam Silvera’s extraordinary debut confronts race, class, and sexuality during one charged near-future summer in the Bronx. 

Sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto is struggling to find happiness after a family tragedy leaves him reeling. He’s slowly remembering what happiness might feel like this summer with the support of his girlfriend Genevieve, but it’s his new best friend, Thomas, who really gets Aaron to open up about his past and confront his future.

As Thomas and Aaron get closer, Aaron discovers things about himself that threaten to shatter his newfound contentment. A revolutionary memory-alteration procedure, courtesy of the Leteo Institute, might be the way to straighten himself out. But what if it means forgetting who he truly is?

Delayed Flight = More Time to Read

This was one of two books I took on my weekend trip to DC to visit my bestie, her daughter, and her dog. The night I left, my flight was severely delayed. The flight was only two hours, but I was stuck at the airport for an extra hour while I waited for my flight to depart. Weather always takes its toll on my plans when I’m flying, haha.

I decided to make the most of this though. Knowing I wouldn’t get much reading done on the plane because the delay reset my departure for close to sunset in inclement weather, I sat my butt down by my gate and read about 75 pages in one sitting.

Yinz… I was hooked.

Character Development

You all know I love a good character description, but the thing I love most about Mr. Silvera’s writing is I don’t need to know what the characters look like to feel connected to them. Immediately, I felt a connection to Aaron that I can’t really explain. He’s just so damn likeable.

Even the characters you’re not meant to like (i.e. Brendan, Me-Crazy) are so well developed. The book is really character driven and I love that about Silvera’s writing. The plot is important, but all of his characters drive the plot along so well.

The Tough Stuff

Look, reading books that deal with suicide and depression are really hard for me – I’m sure they are for most people. But when I got to the third part of this book, I had to take a break from reading before I full on wept in front of a full plane of people. This book is heartbreakingly devastating and I couldn’t bring myself to stop reading for very long. Even through the tough parts of this book, I kept wanting a happy ending for Aaron, Gen, and Thomas.

I’m not even exaggerating when I say it was devastating. This seems to be a running theme in Silvera’s writing.

A Mandatory Read

Yes, you read that right. I’m just going to come right out and say it – if I were teaching English today, I would make this book mandatory for sophomores to read. I don’t care if it’s curriculum or not – THIS WOULD be on my summer reading list for my students.

The thing about this is, I don’t care WHO or WHAT you are, this book teaches about acceptance. Not just of people who are different than you, but it teaches you the importance of accepting yourself for WHO YOU ARE and that is something I see a lack of in a lot of YA I’ve read.

But Did I Cry

No. It was close though. Had I been in the comfort of my own home, I would have straight up bawled my eyes out. I don’t think it’s socially acceptable to sob into a paperback on a plane quite yet.

Rating: ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

This was another great contemporary. I’m so happy to have finally read it and I can’t wait for the day I can discuss it with my children.

Let’s Chat!

When’s the last time you flew somewhere? Are you as unlucky as me when it comes to flights being delayed? Which of Adam Silvera’s books is your favorite? Leave me a comment so we can chat!

Book Review | They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

I went into this book knowing how it would end. For some reason, I kept holding on to the hope that it wouldn’t happen and was still surprised when it did happen. Adam Silvera absolutely destroyed me with this book and now I have to go read everything he has ever written.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Adam Silvera reminds us that thereโ€™s no life without death and no love without loss in this devastating yet uplifting story about two people whose lives change over the course of one unforgettable day.

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: Theyโ€™re going to die today.

Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, theyโ€™re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: Thereโ€™s an app for that. Itโ€™s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventureโ€”to live a lifetime in a single day.

Silvera’s Writing

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt the need to really dissect a person’s writing, but I loved the writing in this too much to wait to talk about it. Adam Silvera somehow manages to voice two entirely different characters in this book beautifully. You know what, strike that. He manages to voice every single character in this book differently and I’m so impressed by the use of these different voices. Honestly, I don’t know how someone manages to perfectly voice multiple characters without them sounding the same, but this guy has got that down.

I would have known who was speaking through the multiple viewpoints without the name headings at the top of each chapter. He’s that talented. Look, I’m just saying THIS is what I envy about writers – the ability to produce characters who don’t all sound exactly the same.

Lovable Main Characters

Rufus and Mateo are seriously two of the most lovable characters I’ve read in a long time. Even though Rufus is a little rough around the edges when we meet him, when he links up with Mateo, I just fell in love with both of them. Seriously, I think the reason I held out hope that Death Cast called them by mistake because they were so lovable.

Mateo is a super nice guy – the kind of person I want my sons to be. I really appreciated the nods back to Mateo’s acts of kindness throughout this book. It made his kindness feel more authentic in a way. And I really loved Rufus’ genuine love for his friends. I enjoyed reading about how much Roof loves his friends as much as I enjoyed how kind Mateo was.

General Thoughts

Overall, I couldn’t put this book down. I mean, I had to, but I didn’t want to. It is so good at reminding readers of the importance of living. I’m very much like Mateo – introverted, shy, and would rather stay at home all day with my books, but this book left me wanting to live like Rufus – boldly. That’s the main theme behind the story – to live boldly. And it’s exactly what I needed to pull me out of a slight slump I’ve been feeling.

Rating: ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Let’s chat!

What book reminded you that it’s important to live life to the fullest? What’s your favorite Adam Silvera book? If you could ask these characters anything – what would it be? Let’s chat in the comments.