Book Review

Book Review: Tash Hearts Tolstoy

 

DSC_0774Tash Hearts Tolstoy
Written by Kathryn Ormsbee
Published by Simon & Schuster
Page count: 367
Tea Pairing: Yerba Mate for those times when Tash needed a meditative moment. New to yerba mate? Try this sampler from Adagio to find your favorite. And don’t forget – there’s a honey sale going on as we speak!

Natasha Zelenka, nicknamed Tash, is an aspiring film creator. With the help of her best friends and some willing novice actors, Tash produces a webseries titled Unhappy Families based off of one of her favorite Tolstoy novels. It’s her dreamto go to Vanderbilt and study filmmaking. And when her webseries gets a shout-out from a popular YouTuber and a nomination for a Golden Tuba Award, her dream is likely to become a reality.

Even better, her nomination means she has a chance at meeting fellow YouTuber Thom Causer, a boy she’s been flirting with since they discovered each other’s channels. But can she keep her friends as her focus shifts to her successful webseries? And how will Thom react to her confession that she’s a romantic asexual?

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I’ll be honest, this book is a little slow in the beginning. It took a while for me to get into it.

(Which, after the fact, I found a little cute because you know what other books take a while to get into? Literally anything Tolstoy has ever written.)

But once you get into it, there are so many beautiful things about this book:

  • An asexual protagonist. Let me repeat for the people in the back. An asexual protagonist. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book with an asexual protagonist and her story is so accurate. Her confession of her sexuality (confessionS, actually, as people who come out never really come out once) is often met with confusion and misunderstanding and sometimes even anger. But we have something wonderful here. Tash sticks to her guns and never once sacrifices her happiness or her comfort for a boy. She knows who she is, she spent a long time getting there, and her message is that you should never sacrifice yourself for someone else. Such a great message for teens.
  • The theme of friendship and family. Ormsbee has every reason to let Tash pursue her dreams and leave behind everyone she knows, especially when things in her family grow tense. But Ormsbee lets her readers know that it’s so much braver and better to stick with the ones you love.
  • The message that our idols aren’t perfect. Yeah, Tash hearts Tolstoy (it’s right there in the title). But one of my favorite scenes includes her admitting that in all actuality, Tolstoy was a pretty crappy guy. Perhaps that’s why I had trouble getting into this book. Tash would wax poetic about how amazing Tolstoy was and I knew better. That scene was such a moment of redemption for me and it doubles as a great message for readers.

Ormsbee’s book truly surprised me in the end. I’m going to miss this one. And I really wish there was a Tea Time with Tash vlog because I would totally watch it.

(Let’s face it, I’d watch Unhappy Families too.)

Give this one a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Read on, my friends!

Book Review

Book Review: Love and Gelato

Remember when I said I’d review Tash Hearts Tolstoy first?

I lied!

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Love & Gelato
Written by Jenna Evans Welch
Published by Simon Pulse
Page count: 400
(Image from Amazon. As it was an eBook, I was unable to take a picture of my own (darn black & white Kindle).
Tea Pairing: This chocolate chip tea from Adagio goes perfectly with Lina’s love of stracciatella gelato. Best of all, Adagio’s having a honey sale this month! Get it while it lasts!

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So I found myself dog-sitting on Saturday night for my cousins and their literally perfect wigglebutt. I brought probably seven books with me (yes, for one night of dog-sitting, don’t judge me) and yet, for whatever reason, I abandoned my previous books and picked this one up instead.

It was raining (my favorite), my cousins’ house is stocked full of tea (by the way, beloved cousins, I stole your tea), I had a sleeping and snorting beagle asleep in my lap, and I had a book about Italy, gelato, romance, and family. Needless to say, it was a pretty perfect evening.

My perfect evening extended into a perfect weekend because I did not put this book down. As you can see above, it’s 400 pages. I finished it in a day and a half.

Love & Gelato follows teenager Lina as her entire life is uprooted to Florence, Italy. After her mother’s death from pancreatic cancer, the idea of leaving behind everything she’s known is unthinkable.

Add to this the idea of moving into a cemetery with her previously unknown father and things go from unthinkable to unbearable. With her best friend back in America and her mother gone, Lina feels isolated. Only through reading her mother’s journal does Lina discover who she truly is and where she comes from.

What is it about this book that I like?

Awesome Stuff:

  • I like how Italy was portrayed. Fun fact, I was reading another book about Italy (and I am so embarrassed about it, I won’t even leave a title) (*cough*HarlequinRomance*cough*) and the descriptors in the other book were dreadful. Great. You can say Buon Giorno. Fantastic. But in Love & Gelato, I got a far better sense of Italian scenery and ambiance. Not perfect, mind you. The Duomo is a beautiful structure in Florence and I could’ve used more detail but I found it suitable. I love any book that fascinates me enough to instigate a Google search.
  • There’s a moment where girls help girls. One girl had no reason to help the other and yet she did. I love that in literature, especially in YA literature. Girls compete; women help each other.
  • I like the theme of identity. By learning about her mother, she understood herself.
  • It’s a cozy read and when you’re sitting on a couch listening to rain and snuggling a snorting beagle, you need a cozy read.

What Could Be Better:

  • There’s still that theme of ‘girl vs. girl.’ In this generation (and every generation, actually), we need better. We need girls defending other girls instead of tearing each other down.
  • It’s a bit predictable. Not sure if it’s intentional but the reader figures out the twist after about 3 pages. The protagonist figures it out about 70% into the book (ah, Kindle percentages). So by the time she gets there, you’re practically screaming, “FINALLY.”
  • There were some inconsistencies. Why would [insert character name here] have a picture of [insert other character name here] hanging up if he/she felt that way? It doesn’t really make any sense. If he/she (can you tell I’m trying to avoid spoilers here?) was really that awful, so be it, but then that picture wouldn’t exist.

But all in all, this book truly was one of the best parts of my weekend. It’s very sweet, very cute, and very helpful to those coming to terms with loss. I recommend it highly.

I can 100% promise that my next review will be for Tash Hearts Tolstoy. I’ve got some feelings about that one, my friends.

What are you reading this weekend? The weather’s getting cooler, the leaves are changing color, and it’s the perfect weather for reading.

(For those of you in the path of the hurricanes, please be safe and know we’re thinking of you. I’ve got a few donations coming your way. As someone who fought with Hurricane Sandy back in 2012, I understand a bit of what it’s like. My thoughts are with you.)

Read on, my friends!

Books, featured, Reading, Uncategorized, Young Adult Literature

Review Time!: When Dimple Met Rishi

Ready for our first review? Strap on in!

When Dimple Met Rishi
by Sandhya Menon
published by SimonTeen (May 30, 2017)
384 pages

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When Dimple Met Rishi follows two very teenagers who are destined to meet.

Dimple, an aspiring web developer, has no time for anything but following her dreams. She’s solely focused on meeting her STEM icon and building up her resume for the brightest future imaginable.

Rishi, on the other hand, is a bit of a hopeless romantic. Fond of his cultural heritage and determined to please his parents, Rishi is a little too eager when his parents send him to a summer program with the promise that his promised bride will also be attending.

That promised bride just so happens to be Dimple who embraces Rishi by splashing him in the face with her iced coffee. Perhaps she would’ve been more open to the arrangement had her parents warned her. Can they learn to accept each other and maybe even love each other?

Continue reading “Review Time!: When Dimple Met Rishi”

Books, Reading, Welcome, Young Adult Literature

Welcome!

Welcome to Hooray for YA!

A little about me:

  • I love YA lit (duh).
  • I love writing about YA lit (duh).
  • I went to school and studied about how to write about YA lit (to which many people say, “Wait, you can do that?”)
  • I’m also rather fond of 19th century literature.
  • If I’m sad, I make pancakes.
  • If I’m scared, I wear superhero underwear.
  • If a dog walks past, I will point it out.

A little about you (I presume?):

  • You love YA lit.
  • You love reading about YA lit.
  • You’re looking for book recommendations.
  • You love the occasional giveaway.
  • You love book-themed recipes.

Then welcome to Hooray for YA! Engage, interact, talk to me, and keep reading!