Seven Days of You

Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse  

5 stars

 





Before I tell you why I loved this book so much you should know some things about me.

I studied Japanese for several years & then advanced my studying at The Japan Institute in Kansai. So, although I say that I completely adored this book, it also broke my heart because I miss Japan so very much, and I cannot wait to go back. Here’s a few pictures of me in Japan.

Now, as far as a YA contemporary romance novel this book hits all the major points.

-coming of age protagonist

-love interest, bonus points for a love triangle

-miscommunication with best friend or either counterpart to love triangle

-drama w/ family

-life altering/emotional moments that makes our protagonist be less of a selfish a-hole

Check, check, and check them all. Seven Days of You is about a girl, Sophia (“Sofa”) who is moving from Tokyo to the states due to her mom’s work. Within this last week everything about her life and what she actually thinks she knows gets turned upside down – from the boy she thought she hated, the boy she thought she liked, the best friend she thought she knew everything about, the dad who lives in Paris, to what ‘home’ really means. It’s a coming of age story about a girl who acts like the world revolves around her, and slowly comes to realize that she isn’t the only one with problems, broken hearts, and how to generally accept what is coming next.

Plot-As far as the plot goes, I couldn’t really as for more. YA contemporaries are mostly about a teenager who is discovering themselves or concurring some fear of what they have to do. In this case, we get to experience Sofia basically getting over herself over and over as she has to struggle with forgiveness with her friends with how they unintentionally hurt each other. We’re too young to hold grudges, and are we really going to leave things the way they are the rest of our lives?

Characters-So our main character is Sofia, she’s your typical inexperienced teenager who is all swoony over the typical popular guy, David-despite how much of a D-Bag he is. Her best friend is Mika, a Japanese bad ass who makes up for the spunk and experience that Sofia lacks. Jamie-the sweet gangly kid who liked Sofia before he previously moved away from Japan in middle school with a huge misunderstanding.

The characters themselves were typical as far as YA contemporary goes. But, I mean, it’s cliché for a reason. I loved that no one was perfect, especially Jamie who is still dorky and awkward that you can’t help but adore him.

Setting-now this was obviously my favorite part. The entire time I was reading this I wanted to close my eyes and just revel in the memories of Japan that the book brought up. That would of course have been counter productive since I wouldn’t be able to continue reading.

Okay, so part of the setting was this school Tokyo International Academy, or T-Cad. This is basically a school where English speakers can get an education for ex-pats or just people that live there. These schools are real, believe it or not, in fact I have a friend who went to one in Tokyo. After discussing the little details the book gives that is based on a school called American School in Japan, ASIJ – I know can it be any more straight forward? This school meets the recipe-about an hour from the city center, has a large cemetery near it, and obviously primarily for foreigners who speak English.

Here’s the part that really got me though. Cecilia Vinesse did an amazing job describing the sounds and feels of Tokyo. From the sudden down pours of rain when the previous day was hot (the book is set right after Tsuyu, which is the rainy season of mid June/July). The idea of the air conditioning going out and how hot and humid it can get. The sounds of cicadas chirping in the distance and trains rushing by, hearing the announcements on the train. The red lights of tall buildings blinking in the night time, rows of vending machines, the unique flavored drinks-especially the obscure ones at Starbucks that you can only get in Japan.

“Tsugi wa, shibuya. Shibuya desu.”

Even just the simple sights like this,

“We got off behind a group of women wearing yukata and walking slowly toward the ticket barriers. Their tightly bound robes were dark blue with undulating patterns on them like moving water. They had jeweled kanzashi pinned in their hair and wooden geta on their feet.”

This is a completely normal sight to see there. Especially in the summer months when there are tons of masturi/festivals going on. Other details such as the famous Shibuya crossing make it easy for many people to visualize. Not to mention other minor details snuck in here or there. For once in a foreign book I didn’t have to Google every word. Words like genkan, purikura, hanabi, koen, kokeshi, temizuya, suica card, onigiri, etc

Anyway, I can go on and on about these setting development in the book, but let me just say it was spectacularly done. It really fills my heart with joy remembering all the unique things that make up Japan’s culture. I don’t know what it would have read for someone who doesn’t know much about Japan, but for me it was full of reminiscence. I want to go home and watch Lost in Translation now.

-Scrill

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Hunted

Hunted by Meagan Spooner

5 stars

“She was so tired after all. Tired of fairy tales, and magic, and empty castles. Tired of wanting so intensely that she didn’t know what she wanted.” 








GUYS MY HEART IS FULL!

I absolutely adore Beauty and the Beast. It was my absolute favorite Disney film growing up. With that being said, I am always so eager to read a retelling of it, but at the same time anxious in case it is ruined. Hunted does such a good job keeping the original story still intact while still having a spin that makes it its own story.

So we all know what happens between Beauty and the Beast, so I am going to point out the particular changes that I liked in this version:

World Building – Instead of a little town full of little people (in France). Hunted is actually set in Russia. It’s not explicitly said in the book, but the character names and the culture around it points to Russia. Belle references some fairytales throughout the book, and they are actual fairytales. These fairytales written by none other than Alexander Afanasyev, who was basically the Brothers Grimm of Russia. Here is a Wiki page that tells of Ivan, the Firebird and the Gray Wolf, which is the primary fairytale that drives the story. She’s wooing the Beast in this fairytale with more fairytales!

While the idea of the story is the same, we are put into a world that is real and Beauty sort of stumbles upon a magical world. The magical elements in the book tied in wonderfully and also felt original. Nowadays, you find a lot of the same regurgitated fantasy elements (stop trying so hard!), but the light details of magic really just helped the story of Beauty getting to know Beast as well as set up the premise for the ending.

Character Changes-I liked that new characters were introduced and gave Beauty a little more depth. Her family and her obligations play a huge role in her drive as a character. Her need for revenge and her will to come home to take care of her sisters. Instead of a girl who wants more adventure and grandeur we have a girl who battles with the desire to be free to step out of her female expectations (without shoving gender controversy down your throat) and to be the person her family needs (without making her full of herself that she thinks they depend solely on her).

I love that there is no Gaston villain as well. We aren’t stuck with a shallow man that is full of himself that just wants our protagonist for her looks. We are given the opportunity to understand why someone might want her besides a need for arm candy.

Anyway, I thought as a retelling that this was pretty solid. Stayed true the story, but was original in it’s own way.

Rose Petal Graves

Rose Petal Graves by Olivia Wildenstein 

I received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Weapenry Co-Op via Netgalley.

2 stars

So a girl comes home to dad. Meets a guy who’s actually a fairy…basically an evil-selfish type of fairy. She starts to like the guy even though they both know their relationship is going nowhere because of duh, circumstances. But still he’s uber hot, rich, and shows up when he’s not wanted. There’s another guy that likes her – but pass they’re just friends, and no matter if he is the only thing normal in her life she just doesn’t like him like that. Enter in another guy and he is sort of more human, but still has special powers. What are these powers? He’s a Native American who’s from a clan granted special power to counteract the fairies and keep them in check. And no matter how much he basically tells her to stay away, she still tries to force him to be her friend.

….

I think we’ve been here before. In fact, I know I have been here before.

Edward Cruz and Jacob Kajika are creating a mess in Cat’s life and she’s basically got to choose a life between them, because she’s too involved to turn around and pretend it isn’t happening. Also, she’s dumb and keeps entangling herself more and more between the several century long feud between these families.

Okay, so the book was mostly entertaining. And I mean entertaining in the way that you find shows like Teen Mom entertaining. You know it’s not great content…but you still get sucked into it. Besides the striking similarities to Twilight, there were parts in the book that just seemed too convenient (super powers, portals, long life, mind control) or didn’t even need to be in the book at all (mallow-faerie weed). The book also jumped all over the place we have been thrown modern world elements, fae elements, made up Native American elements, and familiar elements. I sort of felt like we had our fingers in too many pots and was trying to mix them together into a book that might have some meaning.

Our protagonist is a girl who makes awful decisions and just trusts these rando’s with their magic and whatever they’re doing. I mean, what the heck is even happening here? I would think I was a schizo based on everything that I was encountering.

I just couldn’t get with a girl who goes from one guy, then another the next day. That’s just beyond flighty. On top of that, it’s not like she has any REAL connection to either of them. Considering the circumstances, the fact that she’s even attracted to the guys is slightly demented. None of the characters are believable.

The book is named after rose petals in the graves that magically kept these Native Americans preserved in their graves. But that’s it – there’s no other meaning to them. It just makes for a whimsical sounding title. Let’s call the book what it is: Native American Zombie Hunters versus Narcissistic Faeries.

I can’t even put together cognitive thoughts about this book. Gatizogin (that’s made up Gottwa for sorry), but I just didn’t like it. Now while I may rant about the book, you have to remember that I still read it to the end, even with all the other dubious head shakes – that doesn’t mean I intend to read the second book though. Pass.

-Scrill