April 26, 2017

Mini-reviews: Girl Out of Water + Cold Summer

Okay books are the hardest for me to review. For books I love I'm always ready to gush and with the books I dislike, I feel very opinionated about. But what about those in between ones that aren't quite bad but aren't quite good either? That's how I felt about two recent reads, Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman and Cold Summer by Gwen Cole, and the reason why I'm choosing a slightly different format for this post.

Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman
pub 5/2/17 by Sourcebooks Fire
Young Adult - Contemporary
Received from pub via Netgalley
Girl Out of Water is about California girl Anise Sawyer who spends most of her days surfing and hanging out with friends. But when her aunt, a single mother of three, gets into a car accident, it forces Anise and her dad to spend the entire summer in Nebraska to help out. And what initially starts off as a difficult and lonely situation becomes an eye-opening experience for her. Anise meets Lincoln, a gorgeous skater who goads Anise into skateboarding but more importantly, shows her that there's more to out there than just staying in her hometown forever. It also makes her realize friendship take work and actively keeping in touch, which gives her a much-needed glimpse into what college will be like when they all go there separate ways. On the surface, this sounds very much like a book I would love. It highlights important friendship growing pains, involves growing up, close family bonds and of course, romance and yet.. I couldn't quite connect to it. Often times Anise seems to be going through the motions and we're just shown what she's doing but there was no insight or connection into her character.

Which is exactly the same problem I had with Cold Summer.

Cold Summer by Gwen Cole
pub 5/2/17 by Sky Pony Press
Young Adult - Time Travel
Received from pub via Edelweiss
Cold Summer intrigued me for numerous reasons – the main one being that I love a good time-traveling story. I was hoping for something along the lines of Tamara Ireland Stone's Time Between Us but unfortunately Cold Summer never hit that emotional note or level of depth in her characters. We alternate point-of-views between Kale and Harper, although the former is clearly at the center of the book. Kale travels between the present where he's a high school dropout and the past, where he's a soldier in World War II. He's been time-traveling his whole life but never as much or as dangerously as this. He's also never been in control and lives at the whim of his "abilities". He's tired of it and when Harper, the girl who used to live next door to him, returns, all the unspoken feelings between them begin to flare up again. And while I liked the concept of the story, the execution fell short. I never connected to either character and as a result, it made it difficult to feel invested in the romance. I finished the book only because I was curious as to how certain plot lines would get resolved.

Do I recommend?: Both books are in that middle area for me. I can't say I'd personally recommend either to friends but if the plots interest you, check them out and see if you feel differently than I did.

April 25, 2017

San Francisco, Part Deux

Twin Peaks
I got to spend a week in San Francisco for work and it was both fun and totally exhausting. I'd only been to SF once a couple years ago with my travel buddy Jackie and we loved it. I remembered thinking there was still so much left we wanted to do so I wanted to make the most of my stay even if I wasn't traveling for leisure. 

My favorite parts were sightseeing with my coworker (no surprise!), shorter business hours, walking to the office every day, Philz Coffee and spending time with my team. But the introvert in me was balking at the lack of alone time and I surprisingly felt homesick for my own bed and my friends. Especially when I saw something cool or wanted to check out a restaurant or dessert (which I didn't get to do!), I really wished they were around to enjoy SF with me. I have to admit, by Friday I was more than ready to head back home but I'm glad I got to see new sights this time around. And hopefully I can come back again because there are still things on my to-see list that I want to cross off! 

Here are my favorite photos from last week:
(They're all landscape photos because one, I'm terrible at solo selfies and two, I don't talk about my blog at work so it doesn't seem right to include team photos haha)

Pier 39 to see the sea lions • Fisherman's Wharf
love these vintage trolleybuses (I think that's what they're called?) • the famous Lombard St
my beloved iced mint mojito from Philz Coffee • one of a few interesting sculptures near the office
Entrance to Chinatown • pretty red lanterns everywhere
Chinatown had some really cool graffiti art • Rainbow crosswalk
The gorgeous views from Twin Peaks
The stairs my coworker & I had to climb to get an even better view!

What's your favorite thing to see/eat/do in SF?

April 24, 2017

Doctor Who + Mr. Men Gift Guide

It's no secret that I love Doctor Who so I jumped at the chance to be a part of something both Whovian and book-related! I'm teaming up with Penguin Young Readers (thank you!) to promote a brand new picture book series by Roger Hargreaves that reimagines some of our favorite Doctors, companions and villians as Mr. Men and Little Miss. The result? Absolutely adorable!

The books will be released tomorrow, April 25th, and to celebrate, I've paired all the books with a fun gift that reminds me of each story.

Dr. First • I haven't watched any of the early episodes but this story features a lost granddaughter, Cybermen and a radio. This Crosley speaker looks like the old school radio in the book!

Dr. Fourth • Yet another Doctor I'm unfamiliar with but I do know his companion, Sarah Jane! The two of them are running away from Daleks and it involves some clever tactics of escape. One of them being jelly babies.

Dr. Eleventh • Finally a Doctor I know and love! (Although you know I was hoping for my favorite, Ten.) But this story made me smile because it involved Eleven, River Song and a fez hat. Which is why this fez and bowtie set is perfect for any fan of Smith.

Dr. Twelfth • And lastly, the current Doctor. In this book he chases after Missy to save the day yet again. One glance at the cover made me realize that I had to include his classic Wayfarers on this gift guide. (I actually own a pair myself!)

Which pairing is your favorite?
If you're a Doctor Who fan, I'd love to know!