Review: By Your Side by Kasie West

by your sideBy Your Side
by Kasie West
January 31st 2017
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: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

everything everythingEverything, Everything
by Nicola Yoon (Author), David Yoon (Illustrations)
September 1st 2015
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Hardcover
310 pages
Young Adult / Contemporary / Romance

Synopsis
My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Rating: D – Disliked

This is another unpopular opinion, folks.

What I Liked

POC lead. Putting a POC as the main character is always a huge yes for me. Always.

What I Didn’t Like

The romance. Oh for the love of the young teenage romance. Maddy and Olly are a little bit too cheesy for my liking.

The illustrations. I have nothing against illustrations on books. In fact, I love them cute little doodles. Maybe, I just don’t like the artist’s particular style on this one.

The driving plot. The overall plot is absurd and sloppy. There were details that were disregarded making things somewhat inaccurate. You’ll know that if you actually know something about SCID or basic immunology. Sometimes, it’s just so easy to spot how much little knowledge about the whole topic the author has and yes Nicola Yoon, I’m talking about you specifically. On that note, I just hope that authors would stop trivializing a disease by just using it as a plot device.

The plot twist. Plot holes turned plot twists *shaking my head*.

The happily ever after. I don’t want to spoil at all but I just hated that things ended so perfectly. It just made the ending a little underwhelming and predictable at the same time.

Final thoughts: I should have skipped the book and waited for the movie instead.

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: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

fangirlFangirl
by Rainbow Rowell
September 10th 2013
St. Martin’s Press
Kindle Edition
445 pages
Young Adult / Contemporary / Romance

Synopsis
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…
But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?
Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Rating: B- – Liked

Finally! I can now tell everyone that I’ve read Fangirl. Someone print me a certificate of achievement for finishing this novel. It took me a couple of years until I decided that 2017 is the right time to read this neglected novel. Almost four years late but it’s still worth a read, right?

What I Liked

The quality. This book is quality – the real deal. By that it means, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to anyone. The writing is impeccable and this is not really up for discussion.

The premise of fanfiction. I’m not into fanfictions. I’ve read some but not enough to make it my thing. I’d rather accept the ugly truth or deal with the misery that the author has bestowed upon my book – no matter how much I hate it. I’m more likely to grab a new book rather than re-live the story one more time anyways. But then, Fangirl seems to convince me that I just haven’t found the right fanfiction for me yet.

The book cover. I’m in love with the color palette and the art style used by the designer. Everything about it screams girly and cute. If I was a nonreader and I was to pick a book for myself, this would probably be the first book that I would pick. It’s really that eye-catching.

What I Didn’t Like

Somewhat unrelatable. Fangirl failed to tap the inner fangirl in me. It made me ask myself ‘Is this really what a fangirl is?’. Because again, by the standard set in this book, apparently, I’m not a fangirl.

Not discreet enough. We all know that Simon Snow is already a knock-off of Harry Potter but couldn’t the author be more discreet? Did she really have to mention Harry Potter in this novel? It’s just weird knowing that in this book’s world, the Harry Potter series also exists along with that of Simon Snow.

The main character. I hate how it felt like Cath was limiting fiction to fantasy and science fiction. I don’t know how she became such a brilliant amateur writer with that kind of thinking. Also, there’s something really wrong and weird in Cath. I’m not saying it because she’s into the whole fandom but because she’s really just downright crazy. She made me feel uncomfortable. In my opinion, she needs to see a counselor.

Boring. The short excerpts from Carry On and Simon Snow books are way more interesting. Like I had thoughts of just moving on with Carry On. I need to be honest. The whole plot is just meh because it felt like nothing really was happening. In the end, particularly in the latter parts, it was really able to set things right and redeem itself. Cheers to that!

To be honest, Fangirl is both a delightful and a boring read. Coming from that, it’s really something that I’m giving Fangirl a B-.