Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

the-hate-u-giveThe Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas
February 28th 2017
Balzer & Bray/Harperteen
Hardcover
453 pages
Young Adult / Contemporary / Realistic Fiction

Synopsis
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.

Rating: A- – Obsessed

By the time I post this review, I’m pretty sure everyone has read or at least read a review of this novel. It took me quite some time to wrap my mind around this one and seriously, I pretty much have nothing more to add on to others’ praises for this book. So, I’ll just leave this right here. The Hate U Give is such an important read and everyone – and I really mean EVERYONE – should read it.

What I Liked

Thought-provoking. There has been a lot of controversy regarding extrajudicial killings, human rights and the war on drugs here in my country. I had my own opinion about it but to be honest, this book challenged and made me question my own views concerning this matter. That’s really a good thing because this put me into another perspective.

Relevant. A story of everyday racism as timely as ever. It’s the saddest reality. But it’s not just racism and the problems of society that this book dwelled on – poverty as well. And that is something I could really relate to.

Mostly everything. The voice, the plot, the storytelling – you name it. Basically, this book is incredibly written. It’s probably way too early to say, but I think – The Hate U Give may go down as the best book of 2017.

What I Didn’t Like

The teen romance.  There are already too many things going on in this book, so why threw in an undeveloped interracial romance too?

A little too long. There’s really nothing major that I didn’t like in this book aside from it’s a bit longer than it should be. I could’ve preferred a shorter read for a contemporary novel.

This is a rare occurrence but guys, I’m telling you – believe the hype.

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Review: By Your Side by Kasie West

by your sideBy Your Side
by Kasie West
January 31st 2017
Harper Teen
Paperback
346 pages
Contemporary / Young Adult / Romance

Synopsis
When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.
Only he doesn’t come. No one does.
Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

Rating: C – Okayed

It took some effort to actually come up with things that I did like on this book. Not that this book is horrible. It’s just a little too bland for me.

What I Liked

The anxiety disorder. It’s good that this was given a highlight on this book. In fact, I do think this was given more emphasis than the actual romance.

A light read. Overall, it’s a light, fluffy, romance contemporary. In other words, it’s an easy read which is totally fine but it fell short on the romance. That can be a good thing if you’re the type that prefers the subtle love in the air and not the cheesy stuff.

The library setting. My second favorite place in the world! Next to my bed obviously. Woot! Woot! On the same note, it’s just hard to believe that they got stuck in a freaking library. Like how? Usually, someone checks the entire place before locking down and like, there’s no way they couldn’t have found the public computers or the landline phones. I mean – emergency exits exist for a reason, don’t they? I was literally shaking my head the entire time.

What I Didn’t Like

Dull. I’ll say it again. If I was asked to describe this book, I would say drab. Boring. Lackluster.

Dax. I couldn’t read his character. What was really his impression of her? Does he really like her? How is he really as a person? Maybe he was just written to be that way – a little off, mysterious loner.

Autumn. This is just a personal perspective but I do hate it when people play with other people’s emotions. Maybe it wasn’t Autumn’s intention but it felt like along those months she was on and off flirting with Jeff, teasing him, she could’ve already ended things with him. Knowing that she couldn’t handle her disorder and her feelings for him weren’t even that strong enough. For me, that’s being hoggish. And for what? A cheap shot for a love triangle?

The underdeveloped plot. The snowed-in trope is nothing new. After all, it’s the easiest way to trap two individuals into isolation. There’s just so many things that could’ve happened while Dax and Autumn were having their own little world to themselves. The plot could totally use some work.

By Your Side is definitely not Kasie West’s best work.

Review: The Heartbeats of Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

the-heartbeat-of-wing-jonesThe Heartbeats of Wing Jones
by Katherine Webber
March 14th 2017
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Kindle Edition
336 pages
Young Adult / Contemporary / Romance

Blurb
Jandy Nelson meets Friday Night Lights in this sweeping, warm, arrestingly original novel about family, poverty, and hope.

Synopsis
Wing Jones, like everyone else in her town, has worshipped her older brother, Marcus, for as long as she can remember. Good-looking, popular, and the star of the football team, Marcus is everything his sister is not.
Until the night everything changes when Marcus, drunk at the wheel after a party, kills two people and barely survives himself. With Marcus now in a coma, Wing is crushed, confused, and angry. She is tormented at school for Marcus’s mistake, haunted at home by her mother and grandmothers’ grief. In addition to all this, Wing is scared that the bank is going to repossess her home because her family can’t afford Marcus’s mounting medical bills.
Every night, unable to sleep, Wing finds herself sneaking out to go to the school’s empty track. When Aaron, Marcus’s best friend, sees her running one night, he recognizes that her speed, skill, and agility could get her spot on the track team. And better still, an opportunity at a coveted sponsorship from a major athletic gear company. Wing can’t pass up the opportunity to train with her longtime crush and to help her struggling family, but can she handle being thrust out of Marcus’s shadow and into the spotlight?

Rating: B- – Liked

What I Liked

The POC representation. This novel perfectly captures how it’s like to be a POC and biracial at the same time. I really felt Wing’s struggle. The struggle of not being considered ‘Black’ enough or not ‘Asian’ enough because she’s somewhere in between, having both Chinese and Ghanaian as her ethnic background. It’s basically the same reason why people around her treat her differently making her feel out of place.

The characters.  I like how the characters are quite unique and distinct from each other.

The character development. Wing’s journey to self-discovery is deeply moving. This makes this book a good inspirational read for teens.

The family dynamics. I love how their family is really close and that in times of adversity, they all have each other’s back. That’s what family is for.

What I Didn’t Like

The magical realism. The lioness and the dragon were probably a symbolism of her ancestry. They awakened and gave power to her inner strength. It’s a good concept but I wouldn’t say that I’m particularly a fan of the idea of magical realism. It’s just a personal preference.

The ending. Seriously? Things ended just like that? It’s quite underwhelming. I mean – this is not really a movie. I deserve an epilogue.

The romance. For me, a romantic interest in the story is dispensable. I just don’t see the point of adding it into the mix.

I think I would’ve prefered The Heartbeats of Wing Jones as a film rather than a book. That is just my two cents.

Review: Anything You Can Do by R.S. Grey

anything-you-can-doAnything You Can Do
by R.S. Grey
February 2nd 2017
Kindle Edition
247 pages
Romance / Contemporary / New Adult / Adult / Chick Lit

Synopsis
Lucas Thatcher has always been my enemy.
It’s been a decade since I’ve seen him, but our years on opposite coasts were less of a lasting peace and more of a temporary cease-fire. Now that we’re both back in our small town, I know Lucas expects the same old war, but I’ve changed since high school—and from the looks of it, so has he.
The arrogant boy who was my teenage rival is now a chiseled doctor armed with intimidating good looks. He is Lucas Thatcher 2.0, the new and improved version I’ll be competing with in the workplace instead of the schoolyard.
I’m not worried; I’m a doctor now too, board-certified and sexy in a white coat. It almost feels like winning will be too easy—until Lucas unveils a tactic neither of us has ever used before: sexual warfare.
The day he pushes me up against the wall and presses his lips to mine, I can’t help but wonder if he’s filling me with passion or poison. Every fleeting touch is perfect torture. With every stolen kiss, my walls crumble a little more. After all this time, Lucas knows exactly how to strip me of my defenses, but I’m in no hurry to surrender.
Knowing thy enemy has never felt so good.

Rating: C – Okayed

Recently, I’m into nemesis-to-lovers trope – all thanks to The Hating Game by Sally Thorne which I totally adore so much that it went straight to my favorite romance reads. So I ended up recommending it to a good friend who recommended this book back.

What I Liked

The love hate relationship. This is one of my go-to romance tropes. If I’m in a reading slump and currently in the mood for something romantic, I make my way for this kind of books on my bookshelf. They almost always work. So this book was hard to pass for me.

The flavor of sweetness and sexiness. This is the kind of book that doesn’t disappoint because it meets your expectations. And what do you expect in a contemporary romance novel? Well, obviously some hot stuff and sweet nothings for you. The plot almost hit the right spot. Mind you, almost. The emails totally made me swoon!

The practice. It’s a plus for me that they’re both doctors because I don’t really meet a lot of contemporary romance or new adult characters that work in this field. Most of them are in corporate jobs – you know those men in Armani suits.

What I Didn’t Like

The first lovin’. In the wrong place at the wrong time.

Childish act. The main female character is a big joke to the point that, it felt like the male character had to redeem her at times. She was just petty.

This book was fun but I really can’t say that I enjoyed it that much. It met the basic requirements for it to be considered a good read but I guess, I just need something more.

Review: Poison’s Kiss by Breeana Shields

poisons-kissPoison’s Kiss
by Breeana Shields
Poison’s Kiss series #1
January 10th 2017
Random House Books for Young Readers
Paperback
304 pages
Fantasy / Young Adult / Mythology / High Fantasy

Synopsis
Marinda has kissed dozens of boys. They all die afterward. It’s a miserable life, but being a visha kanya—a poison maiden—is what she was created to do. Marinda serves the Raja by dispatching his enemies with only her lips as a weapon.
Until now, the men she was ordered to kiss have been strangers, enemies of the kingdom. Then she receives orders to kiss Deven, a boy she knows too well to be convinced he needs to die. She begins to question who she’s really working for. And that is a thread that, once pulled, will unravel more than she can afford to lose.

Rating: B+ – Loved

I don’t really know a lot of things about India or its culture except for the basic stuff taught in my world geography class back in high school. What I do know though is that I really enjoyed reading this book.

What I Liked

Page-turner. You will not be able to put this book down. You’ll enjoy this book so much that you’ll read it in one sitting – or maybe two like I did.

The plot twists. Emphasis on the second ‘s’ on that word. This book is really an engaging read particularly halfway through the book, it’s suddenly a surge of plot twist after plot twist after plot twist.

The romantic interest. I love Deven. He’s giving me the nice guy vibe and you can’t just hate guys like him. He’s seriously the kind of guy that you would bring home to your parents to meet. He’s that nice.

Predictable but not quite. That’s what I like about this whole book. It’s like you can make absurd predictions but end up getting them right anyways. Well, that was what I did and ha! I was correct on the most parts and boy, I don’t feel pissed at all.

Good writing. I really think the writing is good. Especially when the author started describing these mouthwatering food. She left me craving and hungry. I’m not just sure about the world- building, though. It felt like just modern-day India to me – not that I’ve been to India anyways.

What I Didn’t Like

The not a total badass character. The main character, Marinda, who is a visha kanya aka a poison maiden is basically a female assassin. Poison is her main weapon. That’s what makes her lethal but still, my impression of her is that she’s not really that deadly. In fact, it weirded me out when she kept on mentioning that she’s an assassin. But that’s probably because I see an assassin as the full-package killer deal: someone with kickass fighting skills, tricky mind and a real strong personality, someone who makes cautious decisions and actions. Highlight on that last part btw.

A little slow. The beginning is a snore. I wasn’t really hooked in the beginning. That’s why it took me a couple of nights to finish this because I almost lost interest reading it on the first night. But exactly midway, things started happening and got more exciting.

Not a stand-alone. If this was a stand-alone, I would’ve given this a higher rating like an A- or even an A+. That is only if everything was summed up in just one novel.

Now, I’ll have to wait for the sequel.