American Panda – Emotional and Empowering coming of age story

American Panda

Publication date : February 6th, 2018

Publisher : !Simon Pulse | Simon & Schuster

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count: 311

Synopsis : At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies. With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese. Continue reading

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Foolish Hearts – The book that feels like the warmest of hugs

Publication date : December 5th, 2017

Publisher : Henry Holt | Macmillan

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count: 320

Synopsis : The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn’t supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn’t know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they’re both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia’s ever seen. As Claudia’s world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for. (From GoodreadsBut mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia’s ever seen. As Claudia’s world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for. (From Goodreads)

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The Hate U Give – …Little Infants Fucks Everybody

 

The Hate U Give

Publication date : February 28th, 2017

goodreads

Publisher : Balzer + Bray | Harpercollins

Genre : Young Adult |Contemporary

Page Count: 444

Synopsis : Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
(From Goodreads)

Rating: 5 stars

The Hate U Give

TW: Racism, police brutality, gunshots, physical assault, substance abuse and addiction.

(No spoilers)

I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts and type up this review for the last week, but everytime I open up the document, stare at the blank page for an hour and then close it, unable to type up anything because none of it feels right or adequate. The Hate U Give honestly feels too important for my words to do it justice. But I shall try because I already delayed reading it by like…a year (Don’t judge me) and I don’t want to delay reviewing it as well. So here goes nothing.

The Hate U Give is so unapologetically black, it breaths, speaks, sleeps black (and more specifically African-American) and I loved that about it. The writing is both strong and beautiful, sprinkled with AAVE all throughout. Angie Thomas’s writing feels like a punch to the gut over and over again (in a good way) it packs so much emotion in every single sentence. And the amazing thing is, it’s not just *one* type of feelings, this book made me feel every emotion on the spectrum because of how real and well rounded it was, it made me angry (mostly), sad, frustrated, happy, laugh (a lot). Speaking of laughing, the humour in this book is some of the best I’ve ever read, the author managed to infuse even the hardest scenes with it, which I REALLY appreciated as someone who uses humour as a coping mechanism because it allowed me a breather amidst all the chaos.

Being black, I know what racism feels like, I know what it sounds like but I don’t live in the US and nothing I’ve ever experienced comes close to the very real instituonalized racism, the police brutality and corrupted justice system black folks (and other/all minorities) have to deal with in the US. And I haven’t been living under a rock, I’ve known about these things that happen to folks on a daily for a while, but knowing about them and reading brief articles is very different from reading a whole story from the perspective of a character living and learning to navigate them written by someone who actually knows what they’re talking about. It’s gutting.

The Hate U Give stars Starr (no pun intended) as she witnesses her unarmed childhood best friend, Khalil, get shot and killed by a cop and the aftermath as she tries to navigate the mental and social repercussions from that as well as normal teenage things as her two worlds – living in a black neighborhood and studying in a white neighborhood- clash. The trauma that comes which such an experience follows Starr wherever she goes, whatever she does, and it changes her. And I loved how Angie explored the way her feelings and interactions changed in such a genuine, unfiltered way. And that’s the thing about this book, it’s so beautifully and horrifically unfiltered. Reading it hurts, but it’s necessary.

I loved Starr’s character so. much. Her growth as she has some impossible choices and hard decisions to make was heartbreaking to read, she’s scared at first and terrified to use her voice (which is understandable) but as the story progresses, she can’t just keep quiet anymore in the face of so much injustice surrounding her and starts speaking up, which was done with a lot of nuance and ups and downs. Her journey into activism wasn’t linear and seeing her best friend’s murder didn’t flip a switch, she grows into it with a lot of doubt and hurddles.

My favourite thing about this book is her family, and how close knitted they all are. They’re probably my favourite literary family now. They can be dysfunctional but at the end of the day they all love each other unconditionally and show it through actions rather than words. They’re there for each other no matter what. She calls her parents her OTP for God’s sake HOW CUTE IS THAT? I can’t really correctly express how good reading about their family made me feel, it was moments of reprieve in the middle of all the hardships, it’s just little moments that warmed my heart ad that you have to read ot really understand.

I also watched the movie a few days after finishing the book and although the core message as well as the main events were the same, a lot of it was different and that only made me love it more. Both book and movie deserve a multitude of awards.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read The Hate U Give? If so, what did you think?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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Odd One Out – A Masterpiece of Messy Feelings and Relationships

Odd one out

Publication date : October 9th, 2018goodreads

Publisher : Crown Books | Penguin Random House

Genre : Young Adult |Contemporary

Page Count: 320

Synopsis : Courtney “Coop” Cooper
Dumped. Again. And normally I wouldn’t mind. But right now, my best friend and source of solace, Jupiter Sanchez, is ignoring me to text some girl.

Rae Evelyn Chin
I assumed “new girl” would be synonymous with “pariah,” but Jupiter and Courtney make me feel like I’m right where I belong. I also want to kiss him. And her. Which is . . . perplexing.

Jupiter Charity-Sanchez
The only thing worse than losing the girl you love to a boy is losing her to your boy. That means losing him, too. I have to make a move. . .
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Leah on the Offbeat – Is really Offbeat

 

Leah on the offbeat

Series: Creakwood #2

Publication date : April 24th, 2018goodreads

Publisher : Balzer + Bray | Harpercollins

Genre : Young Adult |Contemporary

Page Count: 343

Synopsis : Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst. When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended. (From Goodreads)

Rating:2 stars

Leah on the Offbeat

TW: racist comment (challenged), biphobia, fatphobia

(No Spoilers)

Listen. Listen. No one is more surprised than me by how much I disliked this book. I’m sad. And disappointed. And sad some more. Because this book let me down from an 80 stories building and i’m just. Sigh. If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’ve been championing this book from the moment it was announced til it hit the NYT Bestseller’s list, I was so sure I would love it but then issues started surfacing and my excitement went down a few notches but I still thought I would enjoy it. What surprised me the most though is I didn’t even have an issue with most things people complained about, some of them bugged me for sure, but not enough to dislike the book. It was just a bunch of things adding up which I’m gonna break down in this review.

The writing is pretty good, kind of similar to the one in Simon vs. the Homosapiens’ Agenda where it’s obvious it’s written by the same person but still different in the way that Leah’s personality still shines through it which is Always a sign of skilled writing. One thing I really liked about this is the humour, Leah is sharp and snarky and VERY sarcastic which is my kind of character and it translates well into the narration.

Now, Leah. I know a lot of people had a problem with her character, about how temperamental she is, how sometimes she speaks before she thinks and says hurtful things, she’s hotheaded and abrasive but the thing is, that’s how some teens are, that’s actually how I was as a teen, so I really appreciated her character, not only for that but also for how she was portrayed for having a softer inside that she didn’t know how act on at all, how her anxieties overwhelm her and make her think the worst of everything and everyone, how honest and funny she is and she never hesitates to stand up for the people she cares about (she called out and kind of cut off a friend of hers who implied Abby got into a college because she’s black). What I had an issue with though is that she’s NEVER held accountable for her fuck-ups.

Like I said, being the way she is is perfectly normal but the thing is, she hurts quite a few people and treats her friends and family like crap but that just… flies? Which would NEVER happen in real life. She literally never apologized for anything. NOT ONCE. Not when she lashes out on her mom, not when she lashes out on any of her friends, things just magically go back to normal as if nothing ever happened. What was the most striking is what you’ve probably heard of: Leah’s love interest comes out to her as “lowkey bi” in what is clearly a very vulnerable moment, which gets Leah, who is also bisexual, to tell her that it’s not really a thing to be “lowkey” be, you either are or aren’t and basically policing her label.

I understand the reaction, I really do. With the kind of backlash bi people face, Leah getting defensive and protective of her sexuality like that BUT that did hurt the girl, she was questioning and easing into the new label and Leah basically rejected her and erased her identity. Again, an understandable reaction but one that usually has consequences. You just can’t say something like that, hurt someone like that, and be with them later on without apologizing. So in my opinion, the fact that the scene was written isn’t really a problem, what’s a problem though is that it was never brought up again.

The next thing I had an issue with is that the book was labelled “a cute f/f romance” which…I didn’t see. I honestly didn’t see it. The feelings were established before the book even started, but the thing is for half the book, Leah and her love interest never interact beyond a few words and for the second half it’s the LI trying to get close and Leah just biting her head off over and over again. I love my angst, but this was just non stop angst. All of that together made for little to no on page development for the romance which really saddens me, as the couple is one I was rooting for. There were two cute moments in the whole book, both of which took place in the last two chapters. Otherwise all the cuteness came from Simon and Blue, I LIVED for their interactions as well as little gestures towards each other. And that made me sadder in a way, because I wish Leah’s romance had the same treatment. I wish I could say it was adorable but it wasn’t.

The ending felt very messy to me. The chapter before last was absolutely perfect, it takes place at prom and it full of heart to hearts and cuteness but has a few unresolved things like how <Spoiler> Nick reacts to Leah and Abby being together, as well as Garrett who is Leah’s DATE WHO SHE HAS BEEN LEADING ON FOR THE WHOLE LENGTH OF THE BOOK <End of Spoiler> then between that and the last, a lot has changed, those things are perfectly wrapped up and even Leah seems like a whole different person but we never see any of those things happen which was quite frustrating to me. During the whole book, Leah goes through very little character development but then suddenly at the end she’s changed and when did that happen? how? I’m annoyed. That chapter was really cute like I said but it was just SO out of place I couldn’t fully enjoy it. 

I really wish certain characters were treated better. I really wish the romance was given the space to develop organically. I really wish the ship was given the kind of chemistry they deserve and that I was hoping for. Y’all don’t even understand how much I shipped them and for things to go well for them. So it’s safe to say I felt cheated. And my disappointement is the size of the galaxy.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read Leah on the Offbeat? If so, what did you think?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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Darius the Great is Not Okay – And neither am I.

 

Darius the Great is Not Okay

Publication date : August 28th, 2018goodreads

Publisher : Dial Books | Penguin Random House

Genre : Young Adult |Contemporary

Page Count: 320

Synopsis : Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming–especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything. Continue reading

Final Draft – More Layered than I expected… In a good way

Final Draft

Publication date : June 12th, 2018goodreads

Publisher : Amulet Books

Genre : Young Adult |Contemporary

Page Count: 272

Synopsis: The only sort of risk 18-year-old Laila Piedra enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories: epic sci-fi worlds full of quests, forbidden love, and robots. Her creative writing teacher has always told her she has a special talent. But three months before her graduation, he’s suddenly replaced—by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who is sadistically critical and perpetually unimpressed. Continue reading

The Poet X – Broke me to Pieces and put me back Together

 

The Poet X.png

Publication date : March 6th, 2018goodreads

Publisher : HarperTeen

Genre : Young Adult |Contemporary

Page Count: 368

Synopsis : Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.  Continue reading

Nice Try, Jane Sinner – Tackling depression with humour… On a reality show

Nice Try, Jane Sinner

Publication date : January 9th, 2018

goodreads

Publisher : Clarion Books

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count: 420

Synopsis : The only thing 17-year-old Jane Sinner hates more than failure is pity. After a personal crisis and her subsequent expulsion from high school, she’s going nowhere fast. Jane’s well-meaning parents push her to attend a high school completion program at the nearby Elbow River Community College, and she agrees, on one condition: she gets to move out.

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Not the Girls You’re Looking for Blog Tour: Review + Author Interview

 

Not the Girls You're Looking for

Publication date : June 19th, 2018

goodreads

Publisher : Feiwel and Friends | MacMillan

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count: 336

Synopsis : Lulu Saad doesn’t need your advice, thank you very much. She’s got her three best friends and nothing can stop her from conquering the known world. Sure, for half a minute she thought she’d nearly drowned a cute guy at a party, but he was totally faking it. And fine, yes, she caused a scene during Ramadan. It’s all under control. Ish.
Except maybe this time she’s done a little more damage than she realizes. And if Lulu can’t find her way out of this mess soon, she’ll have to do more than repair friendships, family alliances, and wet clothing. She’ll have to go looking for herself.
(From Goodreads)

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