Review: Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen {4.0}

 

Title: Loveboat, Taipei
Author: Abigail Hing Wen
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: April 4th, 2017
Pages: 414
My Rating: 4 Stars

When eighteen-year-old Ever Wong’s parents send her from Ohio to Taiwan to study Mandarin for the summer, she finds herself thrust among the very over-achieving kids her parents have always wanted her to be, including Rick Woo, the Yale-bound prodigy profiled in the Chinese newspapers since they were nine—and her parents’ yardstick for her never-measuring-up life.

Unbeknownst to her parents, however, the program is actually an infamous teen meet-market nicknamed Loveboat, where the kids are more into clubbing than calligraphy and drinking snake-blood sake than touring sacred shrines.

Free for the first time, Ever sets out to break all her parents’ uber-strict rules—but how far can she go before she breaks her own heart?

As a daughter of immigrant Chinese parents myself, I relate to this book in so many levels. When I was in high school, I also got sent to Taiwan for a study tour. The main difference was that I went willingly and with my friends, as opposed to Ever who didn’t like the idea. Being born in a different country and growing up with various influences, I also failed to love the part of me that is Chinese at a young age. Seeing Ever’s struggles, especially with her parents, I know that those are genuine because I have experienced the same things myself.

Loveboat, Taipei was an easy and cute read, but filled with so much substance and meaning. I loved all the friendships that formed within the novel, the easiness with which they all kind of related to each other. I really loved how I enjoyed even the minor characters, especially the boys who took Asian stereotypes into their own hands. I also loved the accurate Mandarin sentences in the novel, and I’m kind of proud that I understood them. (Take that, 13 years of Mandarin lessons!)

I really enjoyed reading this book, but I would have liked it better if it explored the culture and country more. I really wanted more details about tradition and a better description of the night markets and the amazing food because this book was in the position to do so. It had so much potential to educate others about our culture and it failed a little bit in that aspect for me. But then again, it might be a personal bias, because the main story was really well-written and relatable not only for those of Chinese descent, but for every teenager out there.

4 culturally-relatable stars

Review: What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen {4.0}

 

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Title: What Happened to Goodbye
Author: Sarah Dessen
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Vikings Juvenile
Publication Date: May 10th, 2011
Pages: Paperback, 416
My Rating: 4 Stars

Who is the real McLean? 

Since her parents’ bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother’s new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out.

Combining Sarah Dessen’s trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling, What Happened to Goodbye is irresistible reading.

When I first read the synopsis for What Happened to Goodbye ( after buying the book, mind you), I didn’t think much of it. But since I already bought 5 Sarah Dessen books at a bargain price on impulse, I figured, why not just read it? Turns out, it’s a great idea because this is something that I really enjoyed!

Mclean may seem like a complicated character at first glance, what with her multiple names and personalities that come with each move, but really, she’s just like all of us – desperate for a fresh start, and a teenager just wanting to find who she is, or maybe who she’s supposed to become, after the divorce and all the court meetings. I really connected with the story and characters, and I just loved how everything was tinged with just a bit of chaos. I think it just made the story more realistic.

What Happened to Goodbye showed friendship, family, compromise, opening up, learning, love, and so many more themes that I really enjoyed. I really loved the new group of friends that Mclean found, and I’m really glad to have seen Deb do something in her own element. One of my favorite scenes from the book is when they all went to Riley’s. It was when I saw how they functioned as a group, banter and all. I also really loved how Riley’s parents treated them.

This book took me by surprise, and I loved it! I really got immersed in the story, and it was amazing seeing mentions of characters from Dessen’s other books. I can’t believe I only started reading Dessen this year! I definitely missed out. As can be seen, I definitely recommend this book! So far I’ve read 4 Dessen novels, and this is one of my favorites.

****Side note: What the heck happened to Jason though? How did he end up working for Luna Blu. It’s just so out of his personality!

4 captivating stars

Review: Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas {4.0}

 

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Title:
 Catwoman: Soulstealer
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retelling
Publisher: Random House Books for young Readers
Publication Date:  August 7th, 2018
Pages: 384 pages
My Rating: 4 Stars

When the Bat’s away, the Cat will play. It’s time to see how many lives this cat really has. . . .

Two years after escaping Gotham City’s slums, Selina Kyle returns as the mysterious and wealthy Holly Vanderhees. She quickly discovers that with Batman off on a vital mission, Batwing is left to hold back the tide of notorious criminals. Gotham City is ripe for the taking.

Meanwhile, Luke Fox wants to prove he has what it takes to help people in his role as Batwing. He targets a new thief on the prowl who seems cleverer than most. She has teamed up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, and together they are wreaking havoc. This Catwoman may be Batwing’s undoing.

Catwoman: Soulstealer is the first book I finished in 2019, and I take a lot of pleasure in that fact. Sarah J. Maas has always been one of my favorite authors and I long ago vowed to read any book she publishes. I also read Batman: Nightwalker, which is why I was super excited about this one.

If you guys know me, you would probably know that I did not grow up with superheroes. In fact, I don’t know much about them. And then I read Batman: Nightwalker, and I started getting interested, until I binge-watched the entire Marvel universe movies. I still don’t know a lot about DC, so I don’t know back stories and all that. So fair warning, this review is from the perspective of a person who doesn’t know anything at all, and may or may not have pestered her brother to inform her about such things.

When I first picked up Catwoman: Soulstealer, I didn’t know if I would like it or not. I had such high expectations because of Batman: Nightwalker but this one was slow in the beginning. I enjoyed being transported into the world, but not much exciting was happening yet. And then I got to about 50% and things started become so exciting that I forgot to put the book down. Towards the end, I was wiping tears from my eyes and my heart felt full.

Catwoman: Soulstealer centers on Selina Kyle, who disguised herself as socialite Holly Vanderhees. She goes to Gotham to wreak havoc, while Luke Fox – Batwing – tries to anticipate and stop her. I like how this novel centered on Catwoman being a villain instead of the superhero portion. I like how this story gave dimension to her character and how she formed amazing bonds within the novel. It’s amazing how human villains can be when we look into their backstories. I really liked the way everything tied together and unfolded.

Catwoman: Soulstealer is not a fast-paced action novel in my opinion, which was what I was expecting. This novel gave just the right amount of action, but it focuses more on the humanizing part, as well as the wit. It was also humorous in some parts, and I may or may not have been caught grinning like a fool on the airplane. This novel is well-rounded and exciting, and I really enjoyed it.

Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers {4.0}

 

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Title:
 Sadie
Author: Courtney Summers
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date:  September 8th, 2018
Pages: 311 pages
My Rating: 4 Stars

A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind. And an ending you won’t be able to stop talking about.

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page.

If you know me, you probably know that this is not my type of read. I don’t like reading about crime, gory stuff, or things that make me overly uncomfortable. However, curiosity got the better of me with this one as it was hyped so much that I just had to know what everyone was talking about. It did make me uncomfortable, it did make me read about things I don’t normally like reading about, but it also made me understand all the hype surrounding it.

Booktubers recommended to listen to the audiobook of this instead of reading the paperback, so I did. I learned that it has a cast of about 30 voice actors, and that just validated how amazing it could be. And it was. While I did not love this book as much as other people did, I still liked it.

This book is not one to be enjoyed. This book is to be understood and put to heart. Sadie is not a fun book to read, but it is an important and necessary one. It fucked me up and it bothered me, but it opened up my eyes. Sadie is one of the most infuriating characters ever, but she’s one of the realest ones as well.

I honestly don’t know how to give a proper review of this book because I still can’t wrap my head around the story until now so this is my best attempt. All I can say is if you can, listen to it on audiobook, and get ready to be mind fucked. Oh, and the hype is totally worth it!