Mini Book Review #11: In Paris with You

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

39803890STORY:

“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.

 

 

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Book Review #35: Pride

Yo, this book’s presentation is wonderful. I love the cover, the inside drawings, and the poems.

STORY:
(Disclaimer: So, I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice, so I’m probably oblivious to the references, parallels, and easter eggs. I’m just taking this story as it is.)

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Pride by Ibi Zoboi (258 pages) gives me a weird feeling where I like the story but not the main character. I definitely liked Zuri standing up to undisclosed Darcy family member because I can’t stand when people know how their family is but still invite you into some negativity. Despite me not caring for Zuri, it was nice to get a basically filler/slice-of-life story. There’s no real plot behind a backdrop of gentrification and prejudice and college admissions. And that’s okay. I can just understand why a story with no goal in mind might annoy some people.

Also, I have seen smoother hate-to-love relationships, but Zuri and Darius are all right. Maybe if the length of this book had been increased I would’ve had more of an emotional connection with them. I really enjoyed Darius trying to win Zuri over in his both confident and awkward way at the diner with Carrie and Georgia. These two just needed a bit more time. I understand why Darius likes her, but why does Zuri like him if he’s everything she hates in a person? Just a little more development and I would’ve been awwing-ing at them. Not to say the pretty descriptions of long eyelashes, gentle caresses, and kisses weren’t aww-worthy. *wink*

Anyway, I liked the writing despite the many many instances of swag, stank, and hood (it’s a drinking game, guys!). The honey analogy is very cute to me.

CHARACTERS:

I loved Zuri’s family (I’m including Madrina as well). I wanted more time with her mom and papi. Janae seemed really adorable. The money-hungry and boy-crazy twins were fun too (most of the times).

On the other hand, Zuri is irritating. I’m sorry but she’s one of those people that call any black person with alternative interests outside of what society says black people can like, white. I definitely understand her valid concerns of gentrification (I’ve seen it too in my own town). But, in general, why do you feel like you have to prove something!?! She’s always assuming and questioning people! Let’s do 20 questions with you, Zuri, since you know everything. It’s sort of hinted Zuri makes quick judgments since people have judged her family all her life (like, automatically assuming they’re fatherless because her mom has a horde of kids) but not taken seriously. It’s definitely okay if she’s the type of person that hates to apologize, but she couldn’t accept this fact during a heart-to-heart conversation.

To be honest, Darius is my favorite character. I know Zuri thinks he’s uppity, but he just seems awkward to me. Like, back at the bodega, he didn’t know he was supposed to acknowledge those guys ( a big no, no in the south because you’re supposed to speak to people (especially at family gatherings)). Now, straight-up ignoring them is dumb but I think he was just… awkward. If he did acknowledge them, they probably would have roasted him but at least been open to a friendship.

Ainsley, Colin, and Charlise were kind of just there. I barely know anything about Darius and Ainsley’s parents.

Forget about Warren. He went as quickly as he came.

Carrie was weird.  You are supposed to feel a certain way about her at first, but then there’s a kneejerk change to make you feel another way. Maybe it was to show hidden depths, but it happened way too fast for me.

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OVERALL:
This is a firm 3/5 for me.

I enjoyed the New York setting, Zuri’s family, and, to an extent, Zuri and Darius’ relationship. But I just couldn’t get into judgmental Zuri. Like chick, you really do need to sit down. If someone’s looking down on you, you’re going to know, so don’t just assume.

Pride has a decent look at duality, and even though I can’t stand Zuri, I do get where she’s coming from. Let this story be a reminder that everyone (read: black people) doesn’t have to be the same or from your neighborhood for you to like them *cough cough Zuri* In addition, if you don’t want to be painted as an uppity, spineless dude, then make an effort to communicate and see things from others point of view, actually stand up for your friends and admit when you’re wrong  *cough cough Darius*

Well, those are my thoughts. If you like modern retellings of classical literature and a relatively quick read, then go for it!

Book Review #30: The Edge of Everything

“‘Why endanger yourselves?’ he said. ‘Why do all this for me
Zoe looked down at where his hand lightly gripped her. She gave him a smile, a trace of light in the darkness.

‘There’s nothing good on TV,’ she said (page 87).”

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The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles (368 pages) has some good narrative(s) though a bit cringy at times. I enjoy the details embedded in the character’s personalities and movements.

“Zoe couldn’t help it; she took a photo to put on Instagram later (page 41).

For me, the bounty-hunter moments are the best parts. The entire supernatural element to bounty-hunting is just mad interesting, and the ordeal with a character named Stan was my favorite part.

At times, the story falls into “slice-of-life” moments such as Zoe and her mom not seeing eye-to-eye about her father’s death or caving, which is a huge part.

Now, a serious case of “instalove” is present in this book. AIN’T NO REASON X should’ve been that caught up and strung out on basic-behind Zoe that quickly. Perhaps, it is akin to baby chicks imprinting on the first image they see as their mother, but X was too into Zoe too fast.

This doesn’t mean I don’t like their little cliche romance, but it is worth noting.

CHARACTERS:

Zoe is bland but the stuff that happens around her is what’s interesting. Her friends, Dallas and Val, are much cooler.

Jonah, the little brother, is a little cinnamon roll. 😀

Bounty hunters seem really nice for this sort of story. Maybe too nice for me… I mean Zoe was talking to them like they couldn’t have snapped her neck into two at will. Here, bounty hunters are basically the grim reaper.

X is fine with me but his backstory seems a bit like a cop-out, so we don’t forget for a second his life’s not like the other morally-gray bounty hunters. Still, I liked his gentlemen-ly speech even if it didn’t feel consistent at times.

OVERALL:

Well, The Edge of Everything reeks of instalove, but it has me hooked enough to read the sequel. The story’s a bit of a slow burn but the plot twists keep readers engaged. It is worth a read, and you can tell early on whether you love/hate it.

Book Review #28: Calling My Name

33829748Aye! I’m always excited for new fiction with black leads!

STORY:

“‘You can’t control everything, Taja,’ Daddy says in a soft voice, eyes closed to the sun.

‘I know, Daddy. But I can control a lot.'” (pg 227).

Calling My Name by Liara Tamani (384 pages) explores Taja Brown’s life. It is something of a fictional biography of a young, African-American girl growing up in a conservative Christian background from childhood to adulthood. Of course, you can expect first kisses, periods, and dealings with f*boys.

I think it is a good read if you enjoy “slice-of-life/coming of age” stories. However, the writing is so flowery that I get confused often.

I can emphasize with Taja’s upbringing as I have grown up in a Christian home as well though my parents weren’t overbearing with our faith.

Still, unfortunately, the narrative of an ultra-conservative character usually isn’t that fun.

One of my favorite parts is when Taja feels guilty for reminding her father about a promised birthday present. That is a really relatable moment when you first feel “child guilt” because you know your parents don’t have the money but you want something.

Also, I realized mid-way through the story that this is set somewhere between 80’s-90’s. Some of the references are dated like them listening to Johnny Gill. Chile, who out here listening to JG?

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Okay, okay… I’m one of those people. XDsoul train life of new edition GIF by BET

A few days ago I was just listening to Johnny Gill’s old Arsenio Hall performances. (yes, I know the gif is from Soul Train).

CHARACTERS:

Not too many characters were memorable. I enjoyed the glimpses we saw of Taja’s family and would have liked a bit more beyond her mother always disciplining her.

Taja is cool, but she is very whiny and a bit annoying in her narrative.

Naima, Taja’s younger sister, is a character that I wished we could have seen more of. Unlike Taja, she’s more sure of herself. Taja and Naima’s sister relationship is barely displayed save for a few conversations in their older years.

Damon, the older brother, was okay. I like how he tried to overcompensate for his thinning headline at 15.

OVERALL:

This isn’t a book I would necessarily read again, but it is nice experiencing Taja’s adolescence with her.