Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas {5.0}

 

Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Pages: 464 pages
My Rating: 5 Stars

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

The Hate U Give is one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read, and I wanna beat myself up for not reading this when it came out but I just got really scared of the hype. With hyped books, it’s usually a hit or miss for me, and I didn’t want people to hate me if I didn’t like this one. But oh boy, I was so wrong because I love this book with all my heart. In fact, this is my first 5-star book of the year.

I actually just watched the trailer for this one the other day, and I had goosebumps the entire time. The Hate U Give is a book that everyone must either read, or watch at least once in their lives. It’s an amazing story about a young girl finding her voice, having solace in her family, standing up for herself, living through grief, learning to love, learning the reality of Black violence, along with all the things that come from being a teenager.

The story is beautifully written, and I definitely felt so much while reading it. It’s amazing how Angie Thomas was able to weave all these things together into one beautiful novel. The Hate U Give encompasses so much, and my heart truly connected with the characters in this one. They all felt very real to me, and I just had this urge to give Starr a big hug. Ugh, definitely a must-read!

eye-opening-and-life-changing stars
Angie Thomas

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: 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!

Furyborn by Claire Legrand {3.0}

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Title: Furyborn
Author: Claire Legrand
Series: Empirium #1
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: May 22nd, 2018
Pages: Kindle, 512 pages
My Rating: 3 Stars

Follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world…or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

I first heard about Furyborn while watching a book haul on Youtube, and once I heard what it was about, I knew that I had to read it immediately. Once I got a copy, I immediately started reading, and I must say, the first chapter was so captivating that I knew this was going to be a great novel. However, I had some issues with reading this book, and although I really am interested in the story, I couldn’t give it more than 3 stars because of those issues.

 

What I Didn’t Like:
1. The long, excessive narratives: As I said, I really like the story that this novel tells, but I just found the narratives to be quite boring. I often found myself skimming the pages until conversations would come up because the book is a long one. I still want to read the next book, but I just hope that the 2nd book would be more concise so it would be less boring.
2. The main characters: The main characters were both insufferable, although I must say I grew to like Eliana more towards the end of the novel. I couldn’t say the same thing for Rielle though. She’s so arrogant and prideful, and sometimes I just want to shake her awake because dude, can you see the situation you are in? Do you think this is the time to boast around your skills just because you have them? Gosh! And with Eliana, at first I couldn’t get a grip on her personality because she switches from one decision to another completely opposite decision, without thinking of how it will affect others, and within a few pages. She was confusing as heck, and it was hard to keep up with her.
3. The alternating POVs: I really, really hated the way in which the chapters ended. I feel like it just takes me out of the story, instead of deepen my interest in it. The chapters cut the POV right as I was getting interested, and because of that I kind of forgot my interest after the next chapter. It was also confusing at first, because it was hard to keep up with what was going on. I kind of wished that this was two separate books instead of one.
4. It was confusing despite the number of pages: Speaking of confusion, this book was confusing as heck! So many things happened, and yet I have no answers. I just read a 500-page novel, and I only have the tiniest clue about what this really is about. Although this book did a good job in setting the tone for the following novels, I just felt like there were still far too many questions left unanswered.

 

What I Liked:
1. The side characters: I really enjoyed the characters of Remy and Ludivine. They add a nice element to the story, and the innocence coming from them both is really just something else. I always like it whenever they appear in the story. Sometimes I like Audric and Navi as well, although other times I just want to knock Audric in the head because he can be so clueless at times.
2. The story: Although I complain about how slow the plot moves, I really am interested and invested in how the story will go. I’m genuinely interested because it seems like such a unique story. Even though I did not love this one, I see myself still continuing on with the series because I just feel the potential. I mean, angels are bad in this novel, and there are prophecies, kingdoms to save, and so many secrets yet to uncover. I honestly can’t wait for the next book!
3. The gripping start: Honestly, the first chapter was what really drew me in. I loved how action-packed and ominous it was. It’s what got me excited for this book, and it’s also what’s still hooking me to the series, even though I didn’t love it. If we’re basing it on Rielle’s chapters, the first one was actually in the future, after everything has already happened. Honestly, I’m more interested in the after of that first chapter than the before, so I just want to find out more about what happened.

 

Overall, this book is a unique story that I truly am interested in, but I just couldn’t rate it higher because the plot was moving too slow for me, it was confusing at times, and I felt like there are still so many questions left unanswered. That said, I still can’t wait for the second book because I just want to find out more about this world!
interesting-but-slow stars

 

Review: PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han {4.0}

Title: PS I Still Love You
Author: Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 26th, 2015
Pages: Paperback, 337
My Rating: 4 Stars

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

P.S. I Still Love You continues right where To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before ended, and I’m glad. This was a quick and short read. I didn’t enjoy this as much as the first book, but all the elements that I loved from the first book are still present – the cute romance, the family bond, being there for others, and the harsh realities of life. 

I expected a lot from this book, and while it’s not a 5-star read, I still enjoyed it thoroughly, given my high expectations. There were still lots of amazing quotes, and the feels were definitely there! I was annoyed at how I was constantly feeling like something wrong was about to happen, which prevented me from enjoying the story as much as I should have. Although, when I read the ending, I finally got why it was so.

I really loved Kitty in this book. Sure, she’s kinda annoying in that kid way sometimes, but most of the time, she’s actually right. She’s wise beyond her years and she knows much more than I knew when I was 9 or 10. In this book, I saw that she’s equal parts Margo and Lara Jean.

Another favorite character is Stormy. I really enjoyed the chapters where she was present. She’s strong, independent, quirky, isn’t afraid of saying things, and she imparts some great knowledge, albeit being a bit sexist. She’s really different from any other grandma I’ve read of or known, and it’s enjoyable reading about her.

The ending of this book was not the kind of happy ending that I was expecting, but I am appeased by it. I still felt all the feels, and I felt really connected with Lara Jean. As always, Jenny Han’s writing was just amazing! Definitely a must-read!

4 a-must-read stars

ARC Review: Busted by Gina Ciocci {3.5}

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Title: Busted
Author: Gina Ciocca
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date:  January 1st, 2018
Pages: 288
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Marisa wasn’t planning to be a snoop for hire—until she accidentally caught her best friend’s boyfriend making out with another girl. Now her reputation for sniffing out cheaters has spread all over school, and Marisa finds herself the reluctant queen of busting two-timing boys.

But when ex-frenemy Kendall asks her to spy on her boyfriend, TJ, Marisa quickly discovers the girl TJ might be falling for is Marisa herself. And worse yet? The feelings are quickly becoming mutual. Now, she’s stuck spying on a “mystery girl” and the spoken-for guy who just might be the love of her life…

It has been a long, loooooong time since I last finished reading a book in one day, and Busted was the one that finally cracked me after a while, even with responsibilities the whole afternoon. Busted was written in such a way that it was addicting and hard to put down, and I couldn’t stop even when my brain nagged at me to do homework. I’m not a fan of mysteries, but the hint of a little mystery in this book was just perfect to make the book addicting.

Busted is a short and quick read, and I loved how invested I was in the story. My absolute favorite things about this book are the friendship and family dynamics. For the friendship, I loved how Marisa and Charlie could talk to each other honestly, to the point that Marisa called out Charlie for being judgemental, and Charlie apologizing instead of getting mad like most people would be. I just loved how they could talk everything out with respect, and not with the tone of blame. For the family, I loved how Charlie could freely talk to her mother about things, and how her brother is actually an accomplice instead of the enemy.

On the other hand, I felt like sometimes the story seemed to lack direction and objective because it was just snaking its way through everything without a clear path. Sometimes it felt like reading in circles. It also dragged on a little bit for some of the parts. I don’t know why I felt this way towards the book, and I really can’t explain it in words, but that was what was on my mind while reading it.

The major issue I have with this book is the lack of connection with any of the characters. This is the reason why, although I enjoyed the book, I couldn’t give it a rating higher than 3.5 stars. I just didn’t feel anything for the characters, and I absolutely dislike the love interest. For me, TJ is sketchy af, and I just didn’t really feel that he liked Charlie honestly. Maybe in the start but then towards the end it seemed like he didn’t care about Charlie, and even supported her flirting with another guy. Shouldn’t he be at least a teeny tiny bit jealous or protective? I don’t know, I just didn’t like him overall.

To wrap things up, I really enjoyed this quick and addicting read, although I couldn’t give it a higher rating because I didn’t really connect with any of the characters.

3.5 couldn’t-connect stars

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon {5.0}


Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date:  May 30thth, 2017
Pages: 380 pages
My Rating: 5 Stars

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

When I first read the synopsis for When Dimple Met Rishi, I immediately wanted to read it. Fake and arranged relationships that turn into love are guilty pleasures of mine when it comes to romance novels. When I learned that this also features Indian characters, I just needed it in my hands! However, I was kind of put off because of the low Goodreads rating. Speaking of, how can such an amazing book not even have 4 stars?! How appalling! Anyway, I’ve read both positive and negative reviews on this one, and I kept them in mind while reading the novel. I mostly remembered the negative ones, but I couldn’t help but disagree with those because I just loved When Dimple Met Rishi so much!
I saw so much of myself in all the characters – Dimple, Rishi, Ashish, and Celia – and I just couldn’t help but fall in love with each of the characters. Being born of immigrant parents myself (Chinese in the Philippines) I sometimes feel like I don’t belong anywhere as well (Dimple) and how I still want to uphold the traditions of my ancestors (Rishi), at least those that I know of. Most of the time, I do things I’m uncomfortable with as well so as not to break the status quo and be branded as overreacting (Celia), and always have a defensive stance and not let people see me hurt or sad (Ashish). Sometimes I also don’t have the courage to speak up for what I know is right (Isabelle) and just like the parents of Dimple and Rishi, I often don’t know how to show love, understanding and acceptance in a way people would understand.
When Dimple and Rishi is a very dynamic book that encompasses so much. It showed Dimple’s relationship with her family, as well as Rishi’s relationship with his family. Here, it was seen that there were a lot of misunderstandings and ultimately, all our parents want for us at the end of the day is what would be best for us. Sometimes they don’t understand that what makes us happy may be the best things for us, but we to do our parts as well and make them understand. I also really loved how the relationship of Ashish and Rishi took a turn for the better after they talked to each other, although it still wasn’t perfect in the end.
I also loved how it featured aspects of Indian culture because it’s books like this that make people more open minded about the different cultures in the world. I had some issues because there were no translations for the Indian words in the novel, but that’s a minor issue for me. The aspects of respect towards elders and having to call relatives confusing titles is something similar with our culture as well, and I’m glad that I learned new things about Indian culture.
My favorite aspect is the journey that Dimple’s character took. She was very headstrong and stubborn at first, but towards the end of the book I believe that she has learned a lot. She often criticizes herself, but she’s also very adamant when it comes to her goals. Some people might find her character annoying, but I find her character to be full of potential. My favorite is probably when she learned to listen to her heart and learned to speak up for herself when it comes to her parents.
More than just about feels and romance, When Dimple Met Rishi is about culture, family, self-discovery, personal growth, gaining courage, learning to break the mold, and most of all, learning to listen to your heart and following it despite the criticisms of others, and most especially yourself. This book made me so happy and made me feel so many different things. I loved it to bits and pieces, and I wish everyone could appreciate it as much as I did. This is definitely a must-read!
5 dynamic stars

ARC Review: Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows {3.0}

Title: Before She Ignites
Author: Jodi Meadows
Series: Fallen Isles Trilogy #1
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: September 12th, 2017
Pages: Kindle, 400 pages
My Rating: 3 Stars

Before: Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.

But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.

After: Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.

No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.

 

Before She Ignites has a really interesting storyline. When I first read the synopsis, I couldn’t help but read the book. But although this book was able to deliver with an incredible plot, I found it to be dragging and not captivating enough, as well as not being able to explore the entire world built enough.

My biggest issue about this book is how the main character thinks. As a result of always being labelled as stupid by her mother, she thinks that she is stupid, and I get that. But she thinks in such a way that the only thing she is good for is her pretty face, and I hated that. For instance, when Aaru saw the scar on her face, she was so, so ashamed and thought that her face is her only asset. I hated it. Whatever happened to looking at inner beauty and strength? Whatever happened to not putting too much emphasis on the physical? Somehow, when there was so many things that could have been her best quality, her face became the forefront of it, and I just don’t get why.

Other than that, I also felt like the story were exciting at some parts, and then boring at other times. It dragged on, and it wasn’t exciting enough for me. The world built is big – there are seven kingdoms. However, I felt like they were not explored well enough, and were only talked about in small instances. Additionally, I also felt like too little was revealed throughout the book. On one hand I want to read the next book to find out what happens, but on the other I fear that I wouldn’t get much information anyway.

Negative points aside, I did love the story of the book. It was interesting and it was cool how the author was able to form a story when the main character was within the confines of a cell for almost the whole duration of the novel. There were so many mysteries and things to find out, and it piqued my interest. For the most part, the main character was badass as well, she just doesn’t know it.

Overall, I didn’t love this book because of the execution, but I did love the story. I want to find out more, but maybe I could just read a recap instead of reading the whole thing if possible.

3 annoying-self-pity stars