I’m back from vacation! My apologies for the serious lack of posts in the first half of July. I meant to schedule at least two posts per week while I was away, but alas, life got in the way.

Two weeks in Hawaii with no responsibilities is wonderful. If you ever have the chance to go to the Big Island of Hawaii, I highly recommend it. It is absolutely beautiful and full of really neat things. Along with your typical sitting-on-the-beach-with-a-book vacation things, we also hiked a gorgeous valley in the jungle to a gorgeous black sand beach (see the header picture!), hiked across cliffs to a green sand beach, and hiked across an old lava flow. We also went scuba diving, snorkelling, and even biked across a lava flow to watch the molten lava from the active volcano as it entered the ocean. It was so cool!

Check out my Instagram feed for fun pictures of the books I picked up at the AMAZING used bookstore there, and some of the books I brought with me.

Kona Bay Books in Kona, Hawaii

Kona Bay Books in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii is an AMAZING used bookstore.

I finished reading five books on my trip. Scroll down for my thoughts on them.

Mini Reviews: Vacation Edition

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon – 5 Stars

when dimple met rishiThis book has been super hyped by a lot of people. It’s own voices. It’s by an author of colour. It’s absolutely brilliant! It has been hyped for a reason. Dimple is adorable and feisty, Rishi is sweet and oh-so-cute. They are Indian-American teens who are set up by their parents for an arranged marriage. One of them is totally down. The other…not so much. But, as they get to know each other at an app-development summer camp, they start to like each other.

I laughed so much while listening to this audiobook. The characters are so real. The narrators did a fabulous job (the story switches between Dimple’s and Rishi’s perspectives.) The dialogue is engaging and realistic and it all just works so well. The situations Dimple and Rishi get into, the conversations, the misunderstandings, the kindnesses, it all flows wonderfully into a really enjoyable story. Sandhya has done brilliantly.

(I realize I’m totally rambling here, but I honestly can’t express how much I loved this book.)

Not only is this book wonderfully entertaining, it is also a fantastic representation of what being an Indian-American is like for many (so I’ve heard Indian and Indian-American readers say on Twitter) and for a white girl like me, it was a really good education in an uplifting, honest, and positive package. I feel like I learned a lot about Indian traditions, experiences, family life, and even clothing.

This is a diverse read at its finest. It fits into the romantic-comedy packaging (all the feels! happy ending!), but also has some real meat to it with the pressure teens often feel to fulfill their parent’s wishes for them, the desire to succeed, the experience of feeling different and not fitting in, bullying, college dreams, and first love.

I can’t wait to read When Dimple Met Rishi again. It’s definitely my favourite book of the year so far!

 

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell – 5 Stars

attachments by Rainbow RowellI’ve read this book once before and brought it with me as a guaranteed pleasant beach read. It’s an adorable romantic comedy told through emails between to lovely ladies and the perspective of the guy who is paid to read their emails and report on them when they use the office email for personal conversations. Except he doesn’t report them. Instead, he falls in love with one of them. Without ever having met her.

Attachments is set in 1999, just before the (as we all know now) ridiculous fears about Y2K crashing all computer systems. It’s a little cheesy, and very 90s, but it’s also sweet and fun and super cute.

Although Jennifer and Beth do talk about men (including that cute guy Beth keeps seeing around the office), they also talk about so much more and support each other in so many ways. Their friendship is a beautiful representation of what female friendship should be.

The whole premise of Attachments is silly and the ending is a little ridiculous, but it’s also just plain fun and sweet. It is a really fun, satisfying romantic comedy with a lot of great friendships represented.

 

The Doorway and the Deep by K.E. Ormsbee – 2 Stars

the doorway and the deepI won this middle grade novel in a Goodreads giveaway last year. I immediately read the first book in the series The Water and the Wild in preparation for this one (and liked it) and then the sequel ended up falling lower in my TBR. I finally read The Doorway and the Deep and it was…okay, I guess.

I think many younger readers will like The Doorway and the Deep. Lottie is determined to help her best and oldest friend Elliot, but is struggling between helping him and helping all the people in the magical world she has come to love. She and her friends are spurred along on a dangerous journey to try and stop the evil Southerly King from destroying the world (and any chance for Lottie and Elliot to get home). It’s full of adventure, jealousy, arguments, and magic.

Unfortunately, it’s also full of coincidences. Each advancement in the plot felt like a coincidence to me. Lottie just happens to see the bad folks wreck the tree, just happens to be found by a helpful Barghest at just the right time, her bird shows up with the key that will help them later, and Lottie just happens to finally be able to control her magic at just the right moment to heal Nash but can’t call control it whenever she wants to. And then, my biggest pet peeve, the story ends without a real resolution, and we’re left with a HUGE cliffhanger that sets up a new book.

This book picks up right where the first book ended and has no explanations included or reminders about what happened in the last book — which is totally fine if readers read them back to back. But with months between books, a few drops of reminders here and there would have been appreciated.

This book has things going for it, but it just hit too many of the wrong notes for me to like it.

 

One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern – 4 Stars

onehundrednames-ceceliaahernJournalist Kitty Logan made a big mistake, and her career is on the line. Her mentor Constance has died and commissioned Kitty to write the one story she didn’t get to. Kitty’s only clue to the story: a list of 100 names of people she doesn’t know, who’ve never heard of Constance, and don’t seem to have anything in common. As Kitty connects with these people, she works through her own demons and discovers that so-called normal people are pretty darn amazing.

Cecelia Ahern’s books are always elegant and complex and lovely. This one is no different. Kitty’s character was fully developed. Following along on her journey was interesting, emotional, and really fun. One Hundred Names is a lovely literary mix of drama, comedy, and mystery.

This book is all about the spirit and goodness of people. It’s wonderfully written, quite literary but still an enjoyable read even if that’s not your typical genre. It’s a little slow moving in points, but as I neared the end I didn’t want to put it down. I needed to know – what is the story!? what connects all these people!? And the conclusion Kitty comes to is wonderful.

 

Graceling by Kristin Cashore – 4.5 Stars

graceling by kristin cashoreMy beautiful friend Erica suggested this book to me two years ago. I found it in a used book pile last year and have been meaning to read it ever since. I’m so glad I did.

Katsa is a graceling, someone who is born with an extreme skill. Hers happens to be killing. Not quite the grace a girl wants (why not something a little less scary?). And everyone knows about her skill (and fears her) because her uncle is the king and has forced her to be his assassin. But, she’s also a rebel and is trying to redeem herself by subversively helping people. That’s her life, kill for the king and then try and help a nearby village from being destroyed by raiders due to the king’s ignoring them. Then she meets Prince Po from a neighbouring kingdom. He’s a graced fighter and they get along wonderfully. Soon though, everything falls apart. And that’s when things  gets really interesting.

There are a lot of YA Fantasy novels about teenage female assassins. This one fits right in with them. But it also felt a little more workable to me. I liked Katsa’s character. She has issues, but she isn’t morose or cruel. She isn’t completely self-absorbed like some comparable characters in other series. She’s not fuelled by  anger but is sad about how her life has turned out. She also has some really great friendships. Kristin Cashore’s world is also super interesting. The idea of graces, how they are recognized and learned, and used, and how they are all so different is intriguing. I’m eager to learn more.

Overall, this book was fun and fast moving. There were a few plot moments that felt a little coincidental, but Cashore also threw in some fab twists that make up for those. I didn’t realize this novel was part of a series and now I have more books added to my TBR.

trishajennreads glasses

Well, there you have it. Five mini-ish reviews of the books I read on my vacation. I brought far too many books with me on my trip and then bought four more. As soon as I read them, I’ll let you know what I think here or on Goodreads.

What have you read lately? Have you read any of these books?

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