Book Review #41: Famous in a Small Town

“It’s not selfish to want people in your life who care about you” (pg 261).

STORY:
Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills (320 pages) is a contemporary story with likable imperfect characters and pretty cover. There are some wonderful friendship moments like the “broken miniature greenhouse”, sweet moments like the kiss just because I want to make you feel good, and fun dialogue 75% of the time.

I really liked/disliked Brit. She felt realistic to me. I’ve seen people like her in real life, and I like each dynamic she has with the individual characters. Sophie has a big heart which is both a positive and negative thing for her. She sort of dislikes how everyone views her in this saintly-good-person light. Relatable.

I liked that the ending didn’t end in the way I expected. I didn’t really care about the August-Sophie connection. That was a little meh (he’s hot; let’s date; argument; kiss; awkward tension; kiss; fight argument repeat until conclusion) and the whole find Megan Pleasant thing ran a little long for me. I guess I just found the friendship/family interactions and characters to be the best part(s). To be honest, everything about Ciara was really confusing. But yeah …

This is exactly 3.5/5 stars for me!


Bonus:

Read my review for “On the Come Up” by Angie Thomas here!

Read my review for “Clyde” by Jim Benton here!

Read “Dreaded Dinner Partyhere!

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Book Review #39: Prince in Disguise

“Now was not the time for casual necksmelling, even if someone smelled tantalizingly of cinnamon, like a manly Christmas cookie” (pg 91).

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Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Strohm (320 pages) is about Dylan’s country bumpkin, beauty queen sister getting married to a lord (but prince sounds catchier! hence the title). Unfortunately, this forces the rest of the fam onto a reality TV show. Poor Dylan would just like to pass by un-noticed except network television is not having that!

First, I’m sorry (not really), but I’m tired of those cliche American vs. British jokes. You guys have fish and chips? Oh you, Brits! You guys deep-fry everything? Oh you, Americans! That’s about 75% of the book right there. Please stop! It’s cute at first but then it just gets grating.

Yeah, the plot twist is as obvious as a glow stick in a dark room. I guess the anticipation is waiting for Dylan to realize it.

I didn’t care for the ____ or the sacrificial reality-tv lamb storyline. Surprisingly the “deadbeat returns” plot was actually fun. I enjoyed that part.

“Now, I knew romance could be perfect stillness” (pg 96).

Jamie and Dylan liked each other rather quickly. Still, that’s the basis for a crush, right? Instant attraction. A few lines about poetry and the girl’s hooked.

CHARACTERS:

The characters are fine. Heaven’s got the most personality for me (and I really want to know more about her beyond being a best friend).

Dylan’s the ugly-duckling who is actually not ugly but just overlooked. Apparently, she plays sports, likes books, and has never been kissed. I didn’t really feel for her because beyond hating the reality show, liking Jamies, and feeling resentful toward her sis, there was nothing distinct about her.

Dusty, the beauty queen sister, has a little depth to her that makes her likable.

I liked Jamie but come on! He was written to be super likable as if there was a sign attached to his head saying, “Hey, like this guy! He spouts poetry references and likes Frozen!”

OVERALL:

“Perhaps that’s what happens when you meet someone you really quite like […] You both feel a bit as though you’ve tricked the other person into liking you” (pg 198).

A sweet relatively wholesome story with some cute moments (“You missed, Dylan … ” AWWW) though too predictable for anyone not interested in a light-hearted read. This is by no means a bad story; it’s just I may have liked this more when I was younger. Still, I definitely recommend this for Hallmark movie lovers.

Book Review #38: Every Book is a Boy

(I won this in a Goodreads giveaway! The title really drew me in)!

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“He was afraid, not because he thought she wasn’t the one. He was terrified because he knew she was.”

Every Book is Boy by Mirella Muffarotto (413 pages)  is set in Italy and begins with Marika coming to terms with her growing feelings for Matteo, her best friend. A romantic relationship is just around the corner until a soccer team tries to scout him. Now, Marika’s world has been turned upside down and a series of unneeded drama events break her heart. Will Marika and Matteo ever get together?

Let me be honest. The first five chapters were torture, but this story slowly, slowly (it’s a snail’s pace) starts getting interesting. Of course, there’s constant drama. SO MUCH DRAMA!

I find the drama so frustrating because of misunderstandings. I almost never enjoy drawn-out misunderstandings in stories because they take forever to resolve and the other characters react stupidly as a result.

I enjoyed the Italian setting, Carlotta and Dario, and the book title. I’m not really into soccer/football/fútbol, so I skimmed over the games and terminology, but I enjoyed reading the business side of things, seeing how players dealt with their agents, training camps, and meeting potential teammates. It was nice and a lot of detail has been put into it.

Now, one of the things I didn’t enjoy about Every Book is a Boy is the long passages of details. People are always stressing for writers to add more detail, but I kept skimming through a lot of it.

So, about the romance … Listen, I’m no stranger to YA romances but Marika’s thoughts about Matteo are drenched in syrup. For example:

“I know … you’re right, but all I want to do is score. It’s the only thing I can think of out there.
‘He was to die for, even though his only desire was to score (pg 18).’”

I don’t mind “oh my gosh, my heart almost stopped because he touched my hand” love if I have a connection with the characters. Because I found Matteo so annoying and unlikable, I was left only rooting for ½ of the couple. This doesn’t mean there aren’t any aww-worthy or some oh-my-wink-wink moments. The cute moments are just filtered through mountains of text of Marika pining for Matteo, Matteo being upset for words he can’t convey, Federico trying to woo Marika, and historical and architectural information about Italian cities.

By the way, there’s a minor subplot about the dangers of teen sexting and webcamming. There’s some harsh language (F bombs, bull****, sluts, “easy girls,” etc) and a brief mention of a love scene, but it’s not constant if that’s a worry.

CHARACTERS:
Marika is bland. She has a slight touch of “not like other girls” because she’s such a tomboy. She cries a lot too, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it’s prevalent.

Carlotta is very self-absorbed but nice. She’s got a big mouth but a big heart to go along with it.

Dario is a decent guy.

Matteo, the most wishy-washy character alive, couldn’t decide between water and H2O. Hopefully, you get where I’m coming from. He ain’t have no communication skills!

Lucreiza and Marcello and Valerio are 1-dimensional villains who only think with their genitals. In the beginning, I feel like there is subtle programming to dislike Lucrezia because she wears ridiculously short skirts and flirts with boys and goes “further with boys.” Of course, she does turn out to be a horrid mess of a person, but I didn’t even get a chance to discover her nastiness. I was already predisposed to dislike her.

Federico is my favorite character, but it’s for a sad reason. I only like him because he doesn’t have any of Matteo’s bad qualities. Since we don’t see any bad aspects of him, he’s the seemingly perfect guy. He COMMUNICATES his feelings and doesn’t treat Marika’s heart like a RAGDOLL and APOLOGIZES when he messes up quickly.

Eve was cool but then just awful at times. I don’t mind brash characters, but she played a nasty joke that I didn’t care for. Still, she had a lot of personality more than I can say for Marika.

OVERALL:
One of the most frustrating stories I have read in a while with the most wishy-washy male lead ever. This story could’ve been cut by like 200 pages. Maybe I feel so tough on this story because the length exhausted me? I don’t know. On the positive note, I love the title.

If you like slow burn romance (?), soccer, and friends to lovers, then this story is for you. Keep in mind if you don’t enjoy chick-flicks or cheesiness, then you might be annoyed the entire time.

Book Review #37: Security Breach

Now that finals are over, I’m catching up on all my reading and Netflix shows!

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In Security Breach by R. Waites (191 pages), despite exhibiting major potential and leadership skills, Dwayne Walker’s content being a low-ranking sentry at his father’s guard syndicate. His lack of ambition is disappointing to everyone.  But Dwayne is fine with his position until an opportunity presents itself, a crazy, dangerous opportunity.

The premise of security is interesting. I know next to nothing about security/guard syndicates, but I feel the book explained everything without babying the reader.

Also, for those who don’t care for it, no romance is present.

CHARACTERS:

Dwayne’s delightfully witty and self-less. I like how chill he is. His (arguably) two best friends, Hector and Lila, are respectively a manipulative pretty boy and cut-throat boss chick. Honestly, their dynamics are entertaining.

Hector is my absolute favorite. He’s so snot-nosed (not literally). He’s hilarious, prideful,  and awesome in his own right. I can see why Dwayne (and Lila) find him so draining at times.

Lila’s soft-spoken and vicious, the best combination.

Also, let’s acknowledge that Major, Dwayne’s smartwatch, is dope. I wished I could have seen it used a little bit more.

Lastly, I really like Barrel Walker (doesn’t that name scream manly?). It’s rare to see strict, serious parents that actually love their kids in YA fiction.

Yes, he probably eats rocks for breakfast and doesn’t cry when he slams his hand in the car door, but he loves Dwayne. Believe it! *Naruto voice*

OVERALL:

Fun cast of characters and good action and suspense!  I wouldn’t mind reading more about Dwayne, Lila, and Hector.

I recommend it!

Mini Book Review #11: In Paris with You

During my Thanksgiving break, I read this ARC I won through Goodreads! 

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“Well yeah, there you go: fourteen.

At that age, you’re still under construction (pg 16).”

In Paris with You by Clémentine Beauvais (320 pages) is a highly romantic tale (on the hopeless romantic scale of 1 to 5; 5 being the highest; it’s a 4.5)! Sometimes, things have a strong chick-flick feeling, but a touch of realism is added at the end. I enjoy having a fun lighthearted story to read. However, it’s a bit unusual to read because everything is in verse and the omnipresent narrator is confusing haha. 

I totally get all the imaginary scenarios fourteen-year-old Tatiana dreams up about Eugene. You know, it’s like when you go to a store or Starbucks, I guess, and you think hmm… wouldn’t it be funny if I fell in love with the barista, and he remembers how I hate coffee but always order tea. Coincidentally he goes to your college and in his 4th year of engineering, he remembers you and asks you on a date, and it’s not coffee he promises, amused. Eventually, you two marry with lots of money, no cheating, and 2.5 kids. 

Yes, Tatiana, I get you! That’s the same longwinded junk I used to daydream about when I was younger too. 

Heads up. There is a suicide, a reference to Down Syndrome that’s in bad taste, and the male lead could possibly be insufferable to you. 

OVERALL:

Is it perfect? No, but no story is.

Does it make sense why Tatiana’s still hung up over Eugene? Not entirely.

Is Eugene the best male lead? Nah, he’s mad-arrogant and pretentious (yes, they’re slightly different: see here), and everything that goes wrong in this story is exactly because of him. He’s very sex-obsessed. (In his mind), he calls Tatiana a slut for assuming she’s sleeping with a man that she already denied being with. God’s gift to women, everyone. Yes, he apologizes, but he’s pressedt about imaginary scenarios where she’s with other men. I understand jealousy is a natural reaction (imperfect characters are certainly fine with me), but Eugene’s got a lot of gall. I think he was more eager to have sex with Tatiana than to truly get to know her again. He’s more genuine when he was younger.

Still, I give this 5/5. I enjoyed every page of it and will definitely reread it over and over. Also, I like the cover. There are countless passages or quotes to love, and I highlighted my favorite ones. It’s quirky and cute.

A fun read for any young or new adult.

 

 

Book Review #36: A Blade so Black

Love the cover!

STORY:36952594
In A Blade so Black by L.L. McKinney (384 pages), after a scary night in the hospital, Alice had fully-embraced her new life as a dreamwalker, fighter of nightmares, in Wonderland. Hatta’s been training her for months at night while she still manages to live as a normal 17-year-old. Well, until Hatta’s been poisoned, and everything goes up into flames.

At times, I feel like this story is over-eager. It tries to mention all the points: grief, racism, police brutality, white allies, and not fitting the stereotypical “black” mold. I would’ve liked more focus on each subject individually instead of a quick touch and go.

Despite that, I love the way the nightmares spawn from real-life fear. For example, the connection between the black girl being gunned down and Alice’s community pumping out waves of fear. I found this aspect excitingly interesting. I would’ve loved to delve more into that as opposed to the many repetitive times Alice has to deal with her mom/sneak out. They all end the same way. Alice says sorry, leaves again and has to fake text/call to fool her mom, Mom doesn’t get fooled, and Alice gets in trouble. Rinse and repeat. I don’t mind the living a secret life trope, but I wish the instances could’ve been more varied.

I enjoyed some of the cultural moments like when Alice forgot to defrost the meat for her mom (girl, how are you still alive!?! lol), the fact Alice knew she had time because her mom was at a looong church service, the AAVE, her natural hair, etc. I hadn’t thought too much about the struggle of monster fighting with natural hair. For example, Alice bout sweated out her silk press trying to kill a monster. All of that stuff is relatable to me and made me smile when I noticed it.

Anyway, this has a slow start but when the Big Bad Boss starts messing with Alice, the real fun begins.

CHARACTERS:

“I’m protecting the world. Who’d protect me? (pg 143)”

Alice is okay. We don’t really get a lot of time to spend in her head when she’s not dealing with pain, grief, or nausea haha. I like that she has a smart mouth, and she’s bold. She’s strong but still vulnerable. I love when the characters cuddle or coo over her, and when they get the heck out the way and let her run things! SN: I love her nickname, Baby Moon.

I enjoy Hatta’s wit. I know it’s cliche, but I just love hearing (reading in this case) English people say “luv.” I like him, but I don’t know a lot of his motivations such as choosing Alice.

Eh, I didn’t care too much for Alice’s friends. They aren’t that memorable and just play their roles (best friend to cover for you; 2nd love interest). I also don’t care about pumpkin spice, not even enough for a drawn-out conversation that affirms my disdain for it (sn: to me, pumpkin spice smoothies are mad nasty ._.). And every time I’ve heard someone use Aaliyah’s “Age ain’t Nothing but a Number” in an argument (jokingly or not) some foolery has always followed.

OVERALL:
If you can wait for 100 pages, then you can really decide if this story’s for you. I definitely knew I wanted to finish this because I love fantasy and diverse fiction. But I will admit I wasn’t super eager to keep reading until after that point.

I haven’t read AiW in forever, but many of the AiW references are in name only, like literally the characters names. This will either be great or disappointing depending on what you want. The originality tho does give it a lot of room to be great and distinct.

Be aware there are some cringey moments and dialogue here and there but some nice moments too!

Yes, I may have squealed at a certain kiss scene, but one day I’ll grow up and be mature when reading about kisses. BUT TODAY IS NOT THAT DAY!

Lastly, why are y’all like this? As soon as junk gets entertaining and the stakes get high, you gotta wait for book 2. :/

Book Review 34: Rosario (Mia Keys Book 1)

Hey everyone, back with another review! I’ve been swamped with logarithms and powerpoints and a plethora of other boring, school-related things. Still, I managed to finish this today.

First of all, that cover’s beautiful! Love it.

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“It’s my belief that we don’t always need to feel the heat on our hand to know the fire burns[…] Sometimes, seeing others in pain is all the motivation we need to not do, or sometimes, to do something (location 400).”

In Rosario by J. Kenyarta (ebook; less than a 100 pages), Mia Keys has just released her high school class for the day and lost her wallet. While walking home, she finds three things: her wallet, an old friend of her fiancé, Levi, and that her fiancé is in some serious trouble. Of course, all this rigamarole requires a journey to Rosario in central Argentina.

Rosario is more plot-driven than character-driven. No filler so action starts quickly.

What exactly drove Mia to go all the way to Argentina? Maybe Alejandro’s been so ingrained in her life that she just needs to see his lips move one more time or to see his eyebrow twitch before she believes he will be fine. Okay, the romantic in me is talking now.

I know this isn’t a romance, but love’s the catalyst, right? Mia should’ve had a flashback/memory of Alejandro,  for example, if he was the one who consoled her in his arms after that incident at school or he met her in college and encouraged her to become a teacher because kids need someone like her. Then, I would have been like let’s find Alejandro! Girl, go get your man! Because there was a lack of development, I just didn’t have an emotional connection to Alejandro or Mia’s need to save him.

On the other hand, I think the story’s strength is really in its action scenes. One of the best parts is when Mia has a huge realization. It’s fast-paced and exciting to read about a narrowly-missed bullet, fun banter, and quick-thinking. Let’s go, Mia, action hero!

SN: A minor nitpick with the Spanish. Isn’t it more likely they would call Mia an estaoudinese than americana? Also, some words needed accent marks, like, sí without the í is “if” (sí=yes, si= if). They’re in Argentina, so I’m surprised there were no mentions of vos/sos.

CHARACTERS:

Mia’s definitely for justice, honesty, and non-violence whenever applicable. It’s great that she upholds integrity so highly, but just once I wanted her to have a raw reaction like cursing out Alejandro for putting her through all this. She’s just too perfect, but I suppose that’s the nature of action heroes. Like, if you walking away from explosions without a scratch, then you’re not human. I’m looking at you, American blockbusters. Back on topic, I don’t really know much about Mia besides her skills and job. It’s cool to have a soft-spoken hero that can hold her own though.

Levi’s kind of just there to guide Mia along.

Gianna was a textbook villain.

OVERALL:

Go ahead and read this!

If you need a quick read while in the doctor’s office or a novella on a rainy day, then here you go. No convoluted plotline just good action.