Books to Read while on Vacation

It’s been a while since I’ve gone on vacation because of Covid but today I am on a plane to Walt Disney World. I thought about books to bring with me so that I could read while waiting in line or when I want a break but instead of physical books I decided just to load my kindle book so my luggage would have space. These are a few of the books I suggest taking with you on vacation to either read on the plane, in your hotel, by the pool or while you wait for things.

Kiss & Tell by Adib Khorram 

A smart, sexy YA novel about a boy band star, his first breakup, his first rebound, and what it means to be queer in the public eye, from award-winning author Adib Khorram

Hunter never expected to be a boy band star, but, well, here he is. He and his band Kiss & Tell are on their first major tour of North America, playing arenas all over the United States and Canada (and getting covered by the gossipy press all over North America as well). Hunter is the only gay member of the band, and he just had a very painful breakup with his first boyfriend–leaked sexts, public heartbreak, and all–and now everyone expects him to play the perfect queer role model for teens.

But Hunter isn’t really sure what being the perfect queer kid even means. Does it mean dressing up in whatever The Label tells him to wear for photo shoots and pretending never to have sex? (Unfortunately, yes.) Does it mean finding community among the queer kids at the meet-and-greets after K&T’s shows? (Fortunately, yes.) Does it include a new relationship with Kaivan, the star of the band opening for K&T on tour? (He hopes so.) But when The Label finds out about Hunter and Kaivan, it spells trouble—for their relationship, for the perfect gay boy Hunter plays for the cameras, and, most importantly, for Hunter himself. 

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

In a novel-in-verse that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times-bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other. 

Some Girls Do by Jennifer Dugan

 In this YA contemporary queer romance from the author of Hot Dog Girl , an openly gay track star falls for a closeted, bisexual teen beauty queen with a penchant for fixing up old cars.

Morgan, an elite track athlete, is forced to transfer high schools late in her senior year after it turns out being queer is against her private Catholic school’s code of conduct. There, she meets Ruby, who has two hobbies: tinkering with her baby blue 1970 Ford Torino and competing in local beauty pageants, the latter to live out the dreams of her overbearing mother. The two are drawn to each other and can’t deny their growing feelings. But while Morgan–out and proud, and determined to have a fresh start–doesn’t want to have to keep their budding relationship a secret, Ruby isn’t ready to come out yet. With each girl on a different path toward living her truth, can they go the distance together?

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp 

 A story of first love, familial expectations, the power of food, and finding where you belong.

Penelope Prado has always dreamed of opening her own pastelería next to her father’s restaurant, Nacho’s Tacos. But her mom and dad have different plans—leaving Pen to choose between disappointing her traditional Mexican American parents or following her own path. When she confesses a secret she’s been keeping, her world is sent into a tailspin. But then she meets a cute new hire at Nacho’s who sees through her hard exterior and asks the questions she’s been too afraid to ask herself.

Xander Amaro has been searching for home since he was a little boy. For him, a job at Nacho’s is an opportunity for just that—a chance at a normal life, to settle in at his abuelo’s, and to find the father who left him behind. But when both the restaurant and Xander’s immigrant status are threatened, he will do whatever it takes to protect his newfound family and himself.

Together, Pen and Xander must navigate first love and discovering where they belong in order to save the place they all call home.

The Girl who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill Book review

Book Description

Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and deliver them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey. 

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule–but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her–even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I heard about this one on bookstagram and booktok so when I saw it at the library I immediately picked it up. It took me a while to get into this book because it is a slow story and it doesn’t really pick up at any point throughout. I am glad that I stuck with it though because it is such a beautifully written book and I loved the world that this book takes you to.

I really enjoyed the world-building in this book and how this takes place throughout the book rather than just at the start of the story. The fact that we learn more as we read kept me immersed in this story and made me want to read more. I loved getting to learn more about the Protectorate and how that town came to be as well as the forest as Xan, Luna, Glerk and Fyrian make their way through different parts of this forest.

I loved that this whole story has a lot to do with misunderstandings and lack of communication. I thought it was great that throughout we see the mess that is caused by a lack of communication between people. I was so angry that so much of this was due to something that could’ve easily been solved but that is reality when problems occur due to communication.

Another theme that I really enjoyed in this book is found family. I loved Luna’s family with Xan, Glerk, and Fyrian and how important each one of them was to each other. I liked seeing their relationship strengthen over the course of the book and seeing how Glerk grows to love Luna.

Characters: In this book, there are several characters that you get introduced to as there are a lot of main characters. While this book centers around Xan and Luna, there are other characters that are quite important to the story as well as those who are important in their lives. Glerk and Fyrian are a part of Xan and Luna’s family and you get to know a lot about them throughout this story. You also get to meet Antain, a man who lives in the protectorate and is set on freeing his people from the witch. There is also the “madwoman” who is Luna’s mother and has gone mad with grief after her baby was taken as a sacrifice to the witch. Then there is our villain who I can’t say much about because that would ruin our story.

I loved all of the characters that you get to meet throughout this book and really enjoyed the relationships that they develop with one another. I loved Xan as Luna’s grandmother and how strong their bond with each other is throughout this book. I also really liked Fyrian’s playful nature and his relationship with everyone in the family.

I liked getting to learn about the people of the Protectorate and how they interacted with one another. I liked seeing the relationships they had with one another and why those relationships were important to this town.

Writing Style: This story is told in the third person and it gives you several perspectives. This story follows Xan, Luna, Antain, people of the Protectorate, and at some times Glerk and Fyrian. At first, I was not a fan of this story bouncing around between which characters I was reading about but by the end, I loved getting to see things from so many different viewpoints.

Most times an all-knowing narrator throws me off because I find the story not as interesting but this narrator was good. I liked that the narrator knew everything but didn’t reveal everything to us all at once. The narrator allowed our characters to slowly find things out for themselves and as they encountered new things so did we.

Author Information

Kelly Barnhill is an author and teacher. She won the World Fantasy Award for her novella The Unlicensed Magician, a Parents Choice Gold Award for Iron Hearted Violet, the Charlotte Huck Honor for The Girl Who Drank the Moon, and has been a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, the Andre Norton award, and the PEN/USA literary prize. She was also a McKnight Artist’s Fellowship recipient in Children’s Literature. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her three children and husband. You can chat with her on her blog at www.kellybarnhill.com

The Forest of Stolen Girls Book by June Hur Review

Author Information

June Hur was born in South Korea and raised in Canada, except for the time when she moved back to Korea and attended high school there. Most of her work is inspired by her journey through life as an individual, a dreamer, and a Christian, with all its confusions, doubts, absurdities and magnificence. She studied History and Literature at the University of Toronto. When she’s not writing, she can be found journaling at a coffee shop. She lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter.

Her debut novel THE SILENCE OF BONES (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, April 2020) is a murder mystery set in Joseon Dynasty Korea (early 1800s), and also a coming-of-age tale about a girl searching for home. It was recently selected by the American Booksellers Association as one of the top debuts of Winter/Spring 2020 (Indies Introduce).

She is represented by Amy Bishop of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC.

Book Description

After her father vanishes while investigating the disappearance of 13 young women, a teen returns to her secretive hometown to pick up the trail in this second YA historical mystery from the author of The Silence of Bones.

Hwani’s family has never been the same since she and her younger sister went missing and were later found unconscious in the forest, near a gruesome crime scene. The only thing they remember: Their captor wore a painted-white mask.

To escape the haunting memories of this incident, the family flees their hometown. Years later, Detective Min—Hwani’s father—learns that thirteen girls have recently disappeared under similar circumstances, and so he returns to their hometown to investigate… only to vanish as well.

Determined to find her father and solve the case that tore their family apart, Hwani returns home to pick up the trail. As she digs into the secrets of the small village—and reconnects with her now estranged sister—Hwani comes to realize that the answer lies within her own buried memories of what happened in the forest all those years ago.

Review

Thank you to Netgalley and Macmillan Children’s Publishing group for the advanced copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Thoughts and Themes: This book has a very slow pace to it and it never really does pick up, that being said the pacing doesn’t take away from the story. I really enjoy the slow pacing of this story because it gives you time to think about all the revelations that occur as you read. This isn’t one that I would’ve picked up normally because of the fact that it is classified as historical but I am so glad that I read it. I really enjoyed a lot about this story.

I really enjoyed the way that the story was built and how you are right there with both of the sisters as they go on this search for the truth. I thought the way that this book was written allowed you to feel the suspense building up and also try and solve the case with them.

As I was reading this I kept forgetting that this was historical and written in a different time period. I thought that the time period was captured well in all the small aspects that were included as well as the back story of different people. I really liked learning about the different people involved in the case and the people that the two girls were interrogating.

I think it is very important to read the Historical note portion of this book because that lets you know that the story is based in real events. I thought it was interesting to learn about things that had happened in Korea in the past as I didn’t know about any of this. I really thought this book was a good way to learn about those things and liked the way facts were introduced to this novel.

Characters: This story is a lot more plot driven than character driven so I feel that we don’t get to know much about our characters. What I did like about this book is the relationships that we see between Maewol and Hwani, along with the relationship they each had with their father. I really liked watching as they learned about each other and reading as Hwani learned about her father. I thought it was good to see those relationships change and also watch the relationships that Maewol has developed with others as a result of the absence of her family.

Writing Style: This story is told through the perspective of Hwani which I thought was great. I think if the story had included any other perspectives things may have been muddied. I liked that we were watching everything unfold through Hwani’s viewpoint as she was a visitor to this place. I thought it was good that she didn’t have close ties to anyone there besides her father, and even her relationship with her sister was estranged.

City of Ghosts Book Review

Summary: Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspecters, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspecters head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself. 

Thoughts: I’ve been listening to a lot of young adult books on audio since they are easy to get through and I can go through them faster this way. I thought that since young adult on audio was good I might as well also listen to middle grade since I enjoy reading those as well. I’m glad that I listened to this one on audio as it was nice to hear.

I really enjoy getting a chance to read stories with ghosts that are friendly and have a human like personality. I liked hearing about the adventures that Jacob and Cass are going on and the trouble that they get themselves into. I really enjoy the friendship that they have with each other and how that friendship continues even if Jacob is a ghost.

Something else that I enjoy in this book is how the adults support Cass in her friendship with Jacob and in her pursuit of ghosts. I think it was nice to see how her parent’s were so fascinated by the supernatural while Cass was the only one who could communicate with ghosts and they had no idea. I enjoyed all of the adults that Cass comes into contact with both in the veil and in the real world.

I also really enjoy the way that the truth unravels and how as the reader you are also learning along with Cass. I liked hearing about Cass being in the veil and her feelings while she’s in there. I think you get a good glimpse into what a teenager would feel like being in this world and how it changes her perspective on life.

I recommend this to those of you who like paranormal books and those who are ages 10+. You can get this book at Barnes and Noble or IndieBound or look for it at your local library.

Queens of Geeks Book Review

Summary: Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Thoughts: This one was recommended by a fellow bibliophile on twitter and the recommendation came just in time. I love to read books about pandemics, epidemics, outbreaks, and more but right now not even those can make me happy. I feel like my anxiety has gone up and just won’t come down and my depression went right along with it but this book has made my days a little brighter. This book has made me feel like I’m not alone.

I like how this book goes back and forth between two characters and really love how different the characters are from each other. It gives two distinct perspectives even if some of their lives are combined. Since I listened to it on audio each of the girls had a distinct voice.

Often times I forgot that this book took place over the span of a convention because so much was packed in. I really liked the pace of the book and didn’t think that too much was going on even if there were several plots happening at once. I think the stories came together nicely and each character that was introduced complemented the others.

Something else that really made me love this book is the LGBTQ+ representation along with the fact that they have an autistic character. I love that both of the characters bring up the challenges that they face because of their identity, it makes them so much more relatable. I think that they tackled some of the important issues regarding sexuality with one of the characters being bisexual and how her ex feels about it. I also think that the autistic representation was done well and I really enjoyed when Taylor meets another autistic girl and is overwhelmed with emotions.

I recommend this to those of you who enjoy reading LGBTQ+ books and those of you who really enjoy the concept of fandom. You can get this book at Barnes and Noble or IndieBound or look for it at your local library.

Pet Book Review

Goodreads Summary:

Pet is here to hunt a monster.
Are you brave enough to look?

There are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. With doting parents and a best friend named Redemption, Jam has grown up with this lesson all her life. But when she meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colours and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question-How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

Thoughts: I picked this one up since I was looking for a good short read and it did not disappoint. I wanted to make sure that I read books by black people or that featured black people this month.

I loved all of the characters involved in this story and how their relationships developed. I liked how much you got to know these characters in a short amount of time. I really enjoyed that Jam was selectively non verbal and how that was shown throughout the story. I also enjoy how there was brief mention that she is transgender but that wasnt the focus of the story, it was nice to have a trans protagonist but have the story be about something other than her gender.

I really like the idea of Angels and monsters in this book. I thought it was such a nice change from what were used to. I also really like how it was the children who were able to see the monsters for what they were. I think it was great to have them play such a large role in the rescue.

I recommend this to those of you who enjoy reading middle grade or young adult, and those of you who are looking for good lgbtq+ representation.

You can get this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.

Five Feet Apart Book Review

Goodreads Summary: Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.

The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals.

Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment.

What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?

Thoughts: I know that a movie is never better than a book and they ever hardly come close so since I saw the movie before this book I made sure to try and read with no expectations. Even though I knew what was coming the story still had the same impact as if I hadn’t already seen the movie.

I love each of the characters in this book. You get a chance to really get emotionally attached to Will, Stella, and Poe. I love getting to know everyone’s personal story and their lives outside of each other. I liked that we got to even see some of Poes life through Stella’s eyes.

Something else I enjoy in this book was that it switched between two different perspectives. A voice was given to both Stella and Will, and I loved that the voices were distinct. I love that while both characters develop and grow they still are themselves throughout the whole story. The changes they go through dont make them completely new people.

I recommend this to those of you looking for a cute yet sad love story and those of you who enjoy reading YA fiction. If you’ve enjoyed the movie then I’m sure you’ll love this book.

You can get this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.

The Tenth Girl Book Review

Goodreads Summary: Simmering in Patagonian myth, The Tenth Girl is a gothic psychological thriller with a haunting twist.

At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi—a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother—it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.

Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house—despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored.

One of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi’s existence. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery—and then fight for her life.

Thoughts: I’m so conflicted with my feelings about this book. I listened to it on audio and feel that I should’ve done this with a ebook or physical book. I’m so confused with the last hours of this book. The twists is confusing and I dont know if I like it or hate it but what I know is it confuses me. This one is hard to review without spoiling anything so pardon me if I sound vague.

I enjoy having two different perspectives throughout the whole book because it makes me more invested in the ghost story. It makes me wonder what was happening throughout the story and how things played out. I liked hearing what happened when Dominico was involved and when he no longer was involved.

The ending reminds me of some of the movies I’ve seen recently. I hate trying to figure out if something in a book is real or not especially if the book didn’t tell you that was going to happen. I think the ending just confused me more than explained this book. I might just reread this one in physical form so that I can fully enjoy it. It definitely is one that each reader will get something different from.

I recommend this to you if you like mystery and twists at the end of the book. Twists that may or make not make sense to you.

If you’ve read this book let me know what you think. Also talk to me about the twist ending, how did you take it?

You can get this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.

I’m Not Dying With You Tonight Book Review

Summary: Lena and Campbell aren’t friends.

Lena has her killer style, her awesome boyfriend, and a plan. She knows she’s going to make it big. Campbell, on the other hand, is just trying to keep her head down and get through the year at her new school.

When both girls attend the Friday-night football game, what neither expects is for everything to descend into sudden mass chaos. Chaos born from violence and hate. Chaos that unexpectedly throws them together.

They aren’t friends. They hardly understand the other’s point of view. But none of that matters when the city is up in flames, and they only have each other to rely on if they’re going to survive the night. 

Thoughts: I got this book because it’s the library’s big read and they had it available on audiobook. I also have been seeing others read it and wanted to give it a try so this was the perfect excuse for that.

The audiobook is really good because they use two different people to read each characters chapters. I always have a difficult time with fiction audiobooks because it can be so monotone but not this one. This one the voices change as the characters feel different emotions and even the description is read in the tone of specific characters.

I really enjoyed how there was a clear distinction between which character was speaking. I loved that even other characters who were introduced had a different tone of voice and way of speaking. It makes me wonder if I would’ve seen the story any differently if I read it rather than listened to it. I wonder if I would’ve understood the perspectives as much as I did or if I wouldn’t have paid much attention to the differences between the two girls.

I liked having this story told in both of the girls perspectives. I enjoyed that this was such a big event that has been occurring recently and that you got both sides of this story. I liked that Lena iss black and Campbell is white, I think that their raqcial dynamic added a whole new layer to their story.

I liked watching Lena be one way towards Campbell but be so frustrated with her. I also loved the revelation that Campbell comes to at the end and how she sees everything as she’s told off. And I love how things aren’t resolved at the end and it leaves you thinking.

I also really enjoyed how quick paced everything was. I liked that everything happened in the span of a few hours. I think that things had to happen that quickly for anything to have an impact.

You can get this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.