Book Review: Emergency Contact

Title: Emergency Contact

Author: Mary H. K. Choi

Publisher: Simon& Schuster Books for Young Readers

Format: Hardback

Penny Lee is heading to college and glad. High school wasn’t for her, and she’s happy to be spreading her wings and staring her journey to being a writer. Her first day, she meets Sam, her roommates “uncle” and is immediately attracted. Meanwhile, Sam is overwhelmed with the idea his ex-girlfriend might be pregnant and not in the best place in his life. When a panic attack causes him and Penny to cross paths again, they agree to become each other’s emergency contact and start texting each other. The more they text, the more attracted they are toward each other, but each is unsure if they’re ready to take the next step.

I struggled with this one. I just found Penny to be so unlikable. She judges everyone from her mom to her new roommate and just… I don’t know. Isn’t very nice. Now, I know characters don’t need to be nice to be likable, or a character doesn’t need to be likable for a story to be good, but in this case, it was detrimental to the plot. 

However, I think Penny’s likability was part of her journey as a character. The more Penny and Sam communicated, the more understandable Penny became. She opened up to the world, she faced her flaws, and she became more well rounded.

Sam didn’t go through quite the same journey. He had issues that he had to work through, and he did, and was changed from the beginning, but I don’t feel like he experienced quite the same growth and awakening as Penny did. I liked him better than Penny, but I wasn’t as invested in him.

This book overall was interesting. The characters went through growth and helped me relate to and understand them better. I struggled in the beginning, and I feel there were some threads that were left unfinished or hanging, but it was a solid read with a good ending.

This or That book tag

Today I’m here with another tag: the This or That book tag. This tag was created by Paper Fury. I saw it done over on The Kingdom of Pages and thought it looked like fun. So, I’m giving it a try!

Series or Standalone?

Obviously I want whatever is going to serve the story the best, but if it’s really good, I generally want a series so I can have more.

Magic earned or magic born?

Either, as long as they have to work and learn to control and use the magic. If they’re born with it and it comes as naturally as breathing, I’m less interested, but if they have to work to learn to control it, it’s okay.

Enemies-to-lovers or friends-to-lovers?

I tend to like enemies-to-lovers better. I’ve always been a sucker for when the bad guy has to join up with the good guys to defeat an even bigger bad guy, and that’s a little of what enemies-to-lovers gives me.

Hilarious banter or emotional ruin?

Hilarious banter.

Love triangle or insta-love?

It depends, is the isnta-love due to a biological imperative or soul-bond? Because I love that. But if it’s just two people falling in love instantly… eh, I think I’d still prefer that to a love triangle. I’m tired of those.

Keyboard smash fantasy names or all names start with the same letter?

All names start with the same letter. I don’t read keyboard smash fantasy name books.

Mean parents or dead parents?

Dead parents.

Supermodel looks or constantly says how plain they are?

Supermodel looks. That’s how I’ll picture them anyway.

Face on cover or typography on cover?

Depends on how pretty/arresting the face or typography is. I’m not particularly drawn to one over the other.

Villain turning a little good or hero turning a little bad?

I probably already answered this, but villain turning a little good. It’s catnip to me.


Top 5 “Unputdownable” Reads

It’s Tuesday which means it’s time for Top 5 Tuesday! Yay! Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm. Each week, she posts a new topic and gives us all a chance to respond. This week’s topic is Top 5 “unputdownable” reads.

Star Wars: Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn. When I was in seventh grade, I had finished all my books and my work in English class. Having nothing to read, I must have complained, because a boy in my group handed me this book. I was only able to read the first chapter before the period ended and he had to take it back (it wasn’t his book), but the damage was done. This book was like drugs to me: I couldn’t think for the rest of the day and I was addicted for life. I mean, I’ve always been a Star Wars fan, but this book took it to a whole new level. I don’t think I thought of anything but Star Wars for the next two years, when the trilogy was finally over. I definitely couldn’t put it down.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I was always a kid who liked to be prepared, so when I knew I was going to have to read this book the next year for English class, I decided to get a head start. I had an old, beat up copy of my nana’s (which has since completely fallen apart) and I started reading. I read for most of the hot summer evening, well into the night sitting on the tile floor of the kitchen in front of the back door. I was fascinated by Scout and her brother, by Boo Radley and everything that was happening. I could not put the book down.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Shortly after this book came out, I went to the book store determined to find a book with the following criteria: YA, dystopian, and about a girl. But, I couldn’t get into this at first. Still, it was the book I took with me to Disneyland/DCA when my family and I went to see World of Color. We were taking a break in the shade and I decided to put it out. Four hours later, the lights went down so the show could start and I had to put the book away. I missed all the singing, games, and performing of the preshow just so I could keep reading this book because I was so enthralled.

Seize the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon. I am honestly embarrassed to include this on my list because I didn’t really think the book was that great, but I could not put it down. I got it for free at ComicCon one year and I started reading it and could tell it wasn’t my taste, but there wasn’t much going on that day. Any time my sister and I sat down, I’d pull it out and start reading. I read the whole thing in bits and pieces throughout the day, the entire time lamenting the fact I couldn’t stop because it was so over the top silly. To this day, all I can remember is the main character feeds her romantic interest penis-shaped pasta and that he, at one points, sucks garlic butter off her breast. I won’t say this book was bad, because a) I know the series is wildly popular and scratches an id and b) it wasn’t badly written. I tried to read others in the series, but could never get into them. But this, for that day, was glued to my hand.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. Yes, it’s taken me years and years to read. But I finally did and couldn’t put it down. When I saw its size, I thought it might take me three or four days to get through. But then, I got home from work yesterday, pulled it out, and read way past my bedtime. I didn’t want to put it down and I was dying to see how it ended. Despite my initial reservations, it was a very fun read and very unputdownable.

What are some books that you’ve had a hard time putting down? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Book Review: Clockwork Angel

Title: Clockwork Angel

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Format: Paperback

Tessa Gray travels to Victorian England to live with her brother, Nathaniel, after the passing of their aunt. But instead of the quiet life she expects, she’s abducted by the mysterious “Dark Sisters” who teach her to use a power she never knew she had: the ability to change shape into another person. Under threat from the Pandemonium Club and the Magister, the head of the organization, Tess despairs of ever being free again. However, she is rescued by a group of warriors called the Shadowhunters, who free her from the clutches of the Dark Sisters and thrust her into a world unlike she has ever known.

I really enjoyed this book. I picked it up sort of on a whim when I was at the library the other day. They didn’t have another book I wanted, and my sister has told me that she thought I’d enjoy this one, so I decided to give it a try. I found the plot really engaging and didn’t want to put the book down. I was intrigued by the magic system and the Nephilim and Downworlds. I thought the organization and rules of the world were very clever.

The character were interesting, but they do feel a little unfinished somehow. They’re painted in broad strokes. Will Herondale, who is sharp, caustic, clever, and beautiful, borders on being more of a cliche than a fully realized character. However, he has some depth to him that pops up throughout the book that saves him from being too shallow (in fact, for all that I feel he’s not quite a fully realized character, yet, he reminds me a lot of someone I know in real life. So I’m not quite sure what to do with that.) I think, however, it’s less to do with the writing and character and more to do with the fact this is the first book in the series and just an introduction. The ending certainly suggests there’s a lot more to Will.

I also really liked Tessa. She’s your typical heroine where she thinks she’s average and ordinary, and then is thrust into extraordinary circumstances. I like how she adapts to her situation, and I especially like that one of the main ways she adapts is through books and reading. I like how she deals with Will and how sure of her own worth she is.

I’m a little less than thrilled that there appears there may be a love triangle in the series. I’m not totally opposed to them, but I’m not usually happy when they appear. I am very concerned as to how it will play out.

This book was a really fun read. I almost wish I hadn’t read it first out of my selections, because I have three more books to read before I go back to get the other Infernal Devices books. Unless, you know, I say screw it and just go and get them anyway. We’ll see.

Sunday Post: May 19

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by the Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, and showcase books and things you’ve received. The rules are here: The Sunday Post.

This was just a difficult week all around. It started with migraines on Monday, an anxiety attack that made my hands go numb on Tuesday, and just a general sense of blah and exhaustion the rest of the week. I’m not enjoying a book I got from NetGalley, and while I don’t want to DNF it because I want to be nice and review it…. I also really, really don’t want to keep reading it. Luckily, a trip to the library helped turn my reading week around and I got some books I’m really enjoying. Also, with any luck, next week will be much better and I’ll get things back on track.

Monday: The Alchemist (book review)

Tuesday: Top 5 Magical Creatures

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: Aurora Rising (book review)

Friday: Avengers Book Tag

Saturday: Last Sons of America (book review)

Monday: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare book review

Tuesday: Top 5 Unputdownable Reads

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett book review

Friday: TBD

Saturday: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi book review

What are your reading this week? How did you last week go? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Book review: Last Sons of America

Title: Last Sons of America

Author: Phillip Kennedy Johnson

Illustrator: Matthew Dow Smith

Colorist: Doug Garbark

Format: Graphic Novel

Publisher: Boom!Studios

After a biological attack on America makes everyone infertile, the only way to have children is to adopt from other countries. Jackie and Julian are adoption agents stationed in Nicaragua. They go to families with children, those who are poor and need money, and negotiate on behalf of prospective parents. But it’s becoming harder to do this legally because child abductions are on the rise. Desperate, Jackie decides to kidnap a child to sell. Of course, he chooses the exact wrong child, the daughter of a local crime lord. Now, Jackie and Julian find themselves in the midst of a conspiracy that will turn their world on its head.

This was a kind of tough read. It started really well and the consistency of the writing stayed high throughout. It was the subject matter that was hard to deal with, especially by the third volume. I found I had to put it down and read something else just because it was so horrifying. The entire concept is difficult. It reminded me a little bit of Children of Men, where no one was having children, but in this case, it’s just America and not the whole world. The idea of people buying and selling children–and more–his terrifying in the extreme.

I liked the characters. Julian was more sympathetic and a good guy. Jackie was the “older” brother, but he really acted immaturely and in desperation. My favorite character was Sara. She had a good heart, was bold and brave, and is a Star Wars fan, which is awesome.

Personally, I didn’t find the art anything to write home about. It was serviceable and got the story across, but there wasn’t anything noteworthy about it.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was sobering and scary, but action filled and tense. I liked the characters and the plot and thought the writers and artists did a good job.

Avengers Book Tag

I’ve seen this tag done in several places and, since I love the Avengers, I thought I’d play along. From what I can tell, this originated on YouTube with Super Space Chick.

So, without further ado, The Avengers Book Tag!

Iron Man: A Book that made you laugh out loud.

I listened to this on audio, the combination of the hilarious plot and the even more hilarious narrator had me laughing out loud almost the whole book. I love this book so much. It’s silly, it’s fun, it’s intriguing, it’s fast paced. It’s just a wonderful experience. If you haven’t read it or listened to it, do it ASAP.

Captain America: A book that sends a positive message.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levin is a wonderful story about saving yourself, choosing your own live, and being authentic. It’s also got a wonderfully developed love story.

Thor: A book with a character’s strength you admire.

Ace of Shades/King of Fools. I admire Enne Salta’s strength. She’s spent her life feeling like a failure. But when her mother disappears, she goes from her safe life in Bellamy to the city of sin and gets entangled in the dark underworld. Instead of letting it beat her, she becomes a street lord, forms her own gang, and does what she needs to survive. She’s strong and she doesn’t break even when things get rough. I wish I could be half as strong as she is.

Black Widow: A book with a kick-ass female protagonist.

Velvet Templeton from Velvet: Before the Living End by Ed Brubaker is a secret agent turned secretary turned rogue agent. She’s strong, she’s smart, and she’s deadly. She’s awesome.

Hulk: A book that made you incredibly angry.

Blackout by Mira Grant made me angry. I liked the first one okay, enjoyed the second more, but the third one made clear that something was happening and then did all sort of acrobatics to claim it wasn’t what it was. And it made me mad. Because, just call it like it is, don’t justify it and pretend it’s not what it actually is.

Hawkeye: An underrated book you think more people should pay attention to.

Backwards to Oregon by Jae is a super fantastic book about a woman named Luke Hamilton who’s lived her life as a man (and is probably really non-binary). She’s planning on going to Oregon and needs a wife to join the wagon train. She marries a woman named Nora, who’s worked in a brothel for three years and is ready for a change. It’s got so many tropes that I love, it’s romantic, it’s sexy, it’s epic, and it’s wonderful. And no one I know except for my sister has heard of it. I think more people need to read this book.

*BONUS* Loki: A book with a twist or a surprise that tricked you

Gemina totally tricked me. I was in Minneapolis on a work trip, and I grabbed a few minutes for myself in the room I was sharing to read while everyone was at happy hour. I was relaxing on the bed, reading, and then something happened in the book. I bolted upright and yelled out loud. It was totally shocking and totally great.

I’m not entirely sure who to tag to do this, so I’m going to leave this open for anyone who’s interesting. Just drop a link below so I check yours out.