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: Lost Girl by Chanda Hahn

lost-girlLost Girl

by Chanda Hahn
Neverwood Chronicles #1
December 13th 2016
Paperback
320 pages
Fantasy / Retellings / Young Adult / Romance

Synopsis
Wendy doesn’t remember anything about Neverland—or the experiments done on her there as a child. Seven years later, all she wants is a normal life, but shape-shifting shadows plague her dreams and turn her life into a waking nightmare. When the shadows attack at a football game and a boy disappears right in front of her, she realizes these wraith-like shadows are real. They’re not just haunting—they’re hunting.
A mysterious boy named Peter, his foul-mouthed sidekick, and a band of misfit boys intervene before Wendy faces a similar fate. But can they trust Wendy enough to take her to Neverwood Academy and reveal all of their hidden secrets when she’s hiding a secret of her own, or will the dreaded Red Skulls find her and drag her back to Neverland?

Rating: C – Okayed

What I Liked

A different twist. This is quite a twist from the old Peter Pan story I knew and loved. I got to give Lost Girl some props for that.

The romance. Weird – I know – but I’m shipping Peter and Wendy. There’s someone on the side but I won’t get ahead of myself and call him the love triangle.

A little The Mortal Instruments vibe. Neverwood instantly reminded me of the New York Institute and Peter was somehow playing the Jace. Maybe that’s another reason why I started liking the teenage Peter. I kinda like this new character to him.

What I Didn’t Like

The end. The ending is such a cliffhanger. I hate it because it felt like the whole story is back to square one.

The sequel. I hate to say this but I think it’s pointless for me to read the next book in the series. You’ve fooled me once. I can’t let you fool me twice. That’s coming from someone who isn’t a big fan of retellings.

Reachin’. The synopsis is really something. But for me, the plot is just so much of a reach into the YA genre. Making the characters suddenly teenagers is just ‘meh’. This would’ve been a more appropriate read for the younger adolescents instead.

To fans of retellings, Lost Girl should be the next read for you. I know there’s a whole lot of Peter Pan retellings out there but I quite think this one is one of a kind.

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: 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.