Book Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett  cover

Alex, Approximately
by Jenn Bennett
Goodreads | Amazon
Series: no
Published: April 4th 2017
Rating: Summer Lovin'

Sometimes you have to endure painful things to realize that you’re a whole lot stronger than you think.

I don't think that I am particularly good at figuring out mysteries.  But I guess I am enough of a reader to see a plot twist coming if there is any amount of foreshadowing. Long story short: there is a plot twist in this book, and I called it on like, page 4.  However, as this is a light YA romance and not a mystery or a thriller my figuring it out didn't dull my enjoyment of this book. Also.. THE. BLURB. GIVES. IT. AWAY. Excuse me while I rage.

And there was a lot to enjoy. Most importantly, I was a fan of Baily. This is one of those books that really depends on the reader connecting to the main character and like her.  Mission accomplished.  I found her to be funny, impulsive, and vulnerable.  She doesn't always make the best choices, but I didn't spend the whole book planning on ways to get her to a therapist either. She has gone through and is going through some tough times, and although she compensated by avoiding conflict and unpleasantness, she isn't a train wreck. You can feel that she is going to be okay which is reassuring.

The central theme of this book is avoidance.  It is pretty much spelled out. Baily even understands that this is how she deals with things in her life. I appreciate this theme as someone who also tends to avoid conflict and unpleasantness. I do wish that it had been more subtle. Baily was just a little too aware of it. She out and out mentions it in the first page or so of the book. I feel as if the avoidance would be something that she would do subconsciously. Like realistically, she would self-sabotage by not dealing with things and then be frustrated with herself because not dealing just made everything worse. Either that or I wanted her to struggle more because of her avoidance so that she has to learn how to face things head on sometimes.  If something is going to be that thematically important I want some sort of payoff.  I didn't expect her to be "cured," but I did want some kind of change. Otherwise, what is the point?

Let's talk about sex and this book.  It was quite prominent, and I was pleased with how it was handled. The sex isn't graphic, but you know what exactly is going on and how. It definitely isn't implied.  You know the scenes that I am talking about in YA sometimes. Two characters will be talking; some random detail will be painstakingly described (perhaps the texture of the carpet?) and then a throwaway sentence.  Which you have to read eight times because, "Wait, did they just have sex?" That is not this book. Baily thinks about masturbation (which made me realize how rare that is especially in girl characters in YA).  Consent and protection are discussed beforehand. It isn't the biggest deal ever that it is her first time, but it also isn't trivialized.  I was comfortable with her with her decision-making process. Gold star. 

This was a quick and easy read that I smiled most of the way through. A great book for the summer.

Is this the kind of book you like for the summer?

From Goodreads:

The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

Book Review: Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brant

Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brant cover

Goodreads | Amazon


quote from book

From Goodreads:


Top Ten Ten Book Recommendations for Travelers

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by the Awesome people over at The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by the Awesome people over at The Broke and the Bookish.

I spend a good deal of my life traveling.  That doesn't mean that I don't want to read about travel as well. This week list is for travelers or for those of you who like to travel by book.

BTW: Why is this list so full of white girls? And trips to Europe. Sigh.  I am looking to expand. Does anyone have any traveling novels that fit the bill?  Traveling POC characters and/or (preferably and) non western locations

Just One Day by Gayle Forman cover

Just One Day
by Gayle Forman 

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: Just One Day
Published: January 8th 2013
Rating: Read it in one go and then actually screamed into an empty apartment because the next book wouldn't be out for six months

“Sometimes the best way to find out what you’re supposed to do is by doing the thing you’re not supposed to do.” 

This is one of my favorite book tours of Paris.It has an awesome wandering around for real backstreets actual people live here feel to it that I love.  Okay, here is my thing with this book.  While there are a few swoony parts I truly feel that the romance is irrelevant. Yes, she spends a year kind of obsessing about a guy she spent one day with.  I always thought that it was never about the guy.  It was about the girl that she was that day. For whatever reason Allyson found herself that day. She could have been cod fishing that day and come to the same epiphany. Find him is really about finding herself. Rant over.

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard cover

by Kirsten Hubbard

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: no
Published: March 13th 2012
Rating: Full review of Wanderlove here

“You can't control the past, but you can control where you go next.”

My favorite part of this book is how much you can tell that the author has been a long term traveler.  Oh, yeah.  She knows these people.

The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton cover

The Art of Travel
by Alain de Botton 


Goodreads | Amazon
Series: no
Published: 2002
Rating: Let's go somewhere

“A dominant impulse on encountering beauty is to wish to hold on to it, to possess it and give it weight in one’s life. There is an urge to say, ‘I was here, I saw this and it mattered to me.” 

For all your pretentious-thoughts-on-traveling needs.  Yes, he takes traveling way to seriously. No, I don't mind.

When Wanderers Cease to Roam: A Traveler's Journal of Staying Put by Vivian Swift cover

When Wanderers Cease to Roam: A Traveler's Journal of Staying Put
by Vivian Swift

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: no
Published: October 28th 2008
Rating: Worth packing

“Some days 'staying put' might feel the same as Going Nowhere. Make a cup of tea, and wait for that feeling to pass.” 

But what happens after all that whirlwind travelling around? Vivian Swift is glad you asked. This is such a charming sort of art journal/ coffee table book.  I have lugged it to numerous apartments in numerous apartments.        

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen cover

North of Beautiful
by Justina Chen


Goodreads | Amazon
Series: no
Published: February 1st 2009
Rating: much relate

“Beauty—real everlasting beauty—lives not on our faces, but in our attitude and our actions. It lives in what we do for ourselves and for others.” 

What I love about this book is that it really examined the idea that we learn more about ourselves while traveling than about the place that we travel.  One of my favorite books.

An Age of License: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley cover

An Age of License: A Travelogue
by Lucy Knisley


Goodreads | Amazon
Series: no
Published: September 18th 2014
Rating: delicious

“I'm sorry... that it couldn't last. But part of me is glad that it can exist, whole and lovely and complicated, in my mind.” 

An amazing combination of food and travel.  All in the form of a graphic novel. Or is it graphic memoir.  I loved French Milk but this is much less early twenties angsty. Also, now I want cheese.

Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War by Annia Ciezadlo cover

Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War
by Annia Ciezadlo


Goodreads | Amazon
Series: no
Published: February 1st 2011
Rating: What is pommegranante syrup and why can't I find it in China?

“Luckily, just at the world’s outer limit, right where a wandering soul needs it most, is a bar where he can get a beer.” 

Sometimes I like my travel mixed in with food.  And sometimes the other way around. That is just the way that it is. I am a wild one. I feel as if this book doesn't get enough love.  It sort fits in that Eat. Prey, Love niche but is much less self-absorbed and has better writing (sorry if you are a huge fan of Eat, Prey, Love. I just found it meh) This book also made me aware of the sad lack of food memoirs in my collections.  All suggestions welcome!

Seriously, getting a print of this cover for my wall.

Seriously, getting a print of this cover for my wall.

Listen, Slowly
by Thanhha Lai


Goodreads | Amazon
Published: February 17th 2015 b
Rating: top ten every week

“My curse: rebellious in my head but oh-so-lovely in real life.” 

Yes, this book is on every list I make. No, I am not sorry.  A young American girl goes to Vietnam to visit her relatives one summer. If you have never read a novel in verse before this is a lovely book to start with.  Cannot recommend enough.  It will probably be on next weeks list. #IKnowWhatILike

Half a World Away by Cynthia Kadohata cover

Half a World Away
by Cynthia Kadohata

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: no
Published: September 2nd 2014
Rating: so not typical

“Loneliness flooded his whole body like it was a physical sensation, not merely a feeling. Like it was a liquid that had replaced his blood and flowed inside his veins as his heart pumped it through.” 

An eleven year old boy travels with his parents to Kazakstan to adopt a new baby. It is both beautiful and heartbreaking. 

What are your favorite travel novels and books on travel? I am such a sucker for these kinds of books!  I would love to hear your favorites!