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.

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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!

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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.

Review 33: Song of Blood & Stone

First, what a beautiful cover! As far as book presentation, I am impressed. The little folktales before each chapter are fun and not distracting. I even like the size of the hardcover book, the way it fits in my hands, and the slightly and purposely jagged edges.

This is a New Adult book, a change of pace from the usual YA and middle-grade I read. There are adult situations (politics, sex, sense of duty, etc) present in the book as well as this review.

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“…They battled forces much more powerful than themselves. She could only hope those forces wouldn’t win” (pg 244).

In Song of Blood & Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles #1) by L. Penelope (372 pages), Jasminda is half-Lagrimari from her father and half-Elsiran from her mother, who was disowned by her family. Lagramari are treated like dirt with pronounced distaste. Jasminda, living a quiet farm life, manages to avoid most of the country people’s scrutiny until a fateful day. After going to the post office, a relatively-dying soldier in the enemy’s clothes, Jack, needs her help. This chance meeting sets many events into motion and unveils a powerful past.

Heads up. There’s an attempted sexual assault moment around pg 60. It’s really unnecessary and serves no purpose but to point out the bad guys. Also, it’s never mentioned again and has no long-lasting effects on the character who experienced it.

The story’s told through Jasminda and Jack’s alternating perspectives, which is fine. In the background, Jasminda can see visions of a past earthsong couple and her songless twin. Unfortunately, I wondered when did the visions become more compelling than the actual story. On a side note, you can notice some real-life parallels fairly easy.

Also, okay, there’s a teensy amount of cringe/ultra dramatic-ness in Jasminda and Jack’s first interaction.

“With great effort, she pulled away from the impossible temptation of his body” (pg 40).

“The intensity in his expression dissolved her creeping sorrow, bringing instead a pang of yearning.”

Concerning the romance, I’ll admit maybe Jack and Jasminda’s attraction happened rather quickly. But they’re not proclaiming their undying love, so it’s cool, right? They respect each other and think the other is very attractive. Also, some onesided dry- humping ensures until later.

“Molten longing pooled between her legs” (pg 211).

Lose his sanity? devoured his mouth? her scent driving him crazy? his hardness? is this a fanfiction!?!

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jk… Okay, I’m just poking harmless fun. I know I can’t write love scenes and it stops being cringy after a while. xD If the love scenes were hardcore with all the real names of the gentials, I would be acting like a total shy kid.

CHARACTERS:

“Do what you think you can’t” (pg 24).

I understand that Jasminda’s been pretty beaten up in life dealing with prejudiced country and city folk, but she’s a little bland. It’s like she just reacts to her surroundings but doesn’t have strong feelings about it. (ex: oh, I have to protect myself? pull out knife. we can’t be friends? cries…)

Jack is okay. Just okay.

My favorite characters had to be Yllis and Oola.

You know who was really interesting that I wanted to see more of? Grandad! Vanesse and the other Elsiran family members too. I also want to know more about Jasminda’s family, her daddy and the twins.

OVERALL:

I don’t know.  Everything just wrapped together too nicely. Not a lot transpired in this book for the longest. The bulk of the story is world-building, Jack and Jasminda, and some visions. Of course, it’s understandable being the first book of a trilogy (?).

Yes, insta-love is present. He’s her whole heart after a week and two sex sessions? I’m assuming more relationship development happens offscreen since Jack knew about her aunt, and I don’t remember that conversation (possibly forgot or skimmed over it).

The entire earthsong story and power is my absolute favorite part, so I muddled through the star-crossed lovers drama and whatnot. The female deity and folklore are equally interesting parts as well. If you’re into fantasy in general, I recommend it. If you’re seeking action or slow-burn romance, look elsewhere.

STILL, I’mma rock with it to book 2. Somehow I think since all the expository, world-building writing’s out of the way, we can get into the real meat of the story. ^^

2.5 stars out of 5, but let’s round it up to 3!

Thanks for reading!

Review 32: Making Friends

It’s been a little while, guys. I have just been so busy! I’ve published an ebook of my collection of short stories, got swamped with homework, read like 12 books in a week, and started watching My Hero Academia. So yeah. Anyway, this book is a gem. c:

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“How do you weaponize friendship?” (pg 234)

In Making Friends by Kristen Gudsnuk (272 pages), Dany is bummed to find herself split up from her usual friend group. Now in the 7th grade, she finds herself lonely and unable to befriend anyone. Through luck, she discovers her aunt’s old sketchbook has some serious magical capabilities. She brings to life Prince Neptune (from a Tokyo Mew Mew/Sailor Moon/magical girl mash-up of an anime) and her ideal best friend, Madison from New York. Only thing is when imaginary beings become sentient, free-thinking beings, everything doesn’t go as planned.

Existential crisis in juvenile fiction? The best friend is the ultra special, pink-haired character from anime(s) with actual depth? Magical girl shoujo references!?! Let’s go!

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I honestly enjoyed the entire cast of characters, relatability, and artwork. Yes, to that cute, expressive artwork. The light humor is great too, not cringy just right.

This story is great for younger kids to acknowledge how all your actions have a consequence; On the other hand, older kids/teens will love that it explores the be-careful-what-you-wish-for trope in a fresh way.

And that plot twist tho? Laughs for days!

“You’re a minor character! Boom!” No context needed but the shade of it all. xD

CHARACTERS:

I loved the cast of characters and a few of them came from diverse backgrounds (black, Guatemalan, Asian, etc).

Dany is pretty normal. Usually, in these type of stories, the main character is whiny, annoying, or special-snowflakey. Dany might be a touch of that, but she’s still likable to me.

Prince Neptune is bae! Yeah, Dany I liked him too.

Also, go Aleesha! She’s adorable and brainy and comically serious and has a cute bun of natural hair.

Tom is also equally bae haha. He’s an adorable character obsessed with conspiracy theories and can think for himself. Gasp. A middle-school character not consumed with popularity? Yep, that’s him.

ART:

A wonderful display of colors, not too bold but not too soft. It reminds me of the palette of a 90’s pop culture ad, green, blue, purple, pink, etc.

Like I said before, I enjoyed the anime-inspired expressions and whatnot. I think the paneling was fine as well.

OVERALL:

Making Friends is beautiful and wonderfully dumb.

READ IT!

If you’re like me and love shoujo/general anime references, light-hearted stories, and a good laugh, then I definitely recommend it. I couldn’t stop smiling while reading this.

5 out of 5