Posts Tagged: YA

Friday, February 02, 2018

Didn’t Love: American Panda by Gloria Chao

Posted by 3 Comments

Didn’t Love: American Panda by Gloria Chao
American Panda
Gloria Chao
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publication date: February 6th, 2018
by Simon Pulse

GoodreadsPurchase
An incisive, laugh-out-loud contemporary debut about a Taiwanese-American teen whose parents want her to be a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.

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.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?
-A copy was provided by Simon Pulse for review-

American Panda was one of my most anticipated novels of 2018 so it is truly unfortunate that I did not, in fact, love it. I do want to start off by saying that I don’t intend to discourage anyone from reading the book in this review, just convey my experience with it. We are at a point in time where even though there is a large influx in diverse books, we still don’t have nearly enough. Stats show that the number of diverse books published by diverse authors every year is so dismal. I hope that this book will allow many many many kids to see themselves reflected in the story and that they will be able to cherish it.

That said, my biggest issue with the book is not with the story or the characters really. It is with the writing. Perhaps my experience was impacted by the fact that I did not read a finished copy. Changes are always being made b/w arc versions and finished versions but the writing definitely felt choppy throughout as opposed to just in specific parts.

I liked Mei and I liked the people she met but none of the characters I was introduced to really came to life for me. I felt like I was reading stories about cardboard cutouts. There was depth to them on paper but that depth didn’t really translate itself across the span of the story. The writing was chock full of moments where we are told things but not really shown them.

I assumed the romance would also be more central to the story, which in some ways it was but it really wasn’t? Does that even make sense? There is nothing wrong with the romance being central or not being central but the way it was written just didn’t work. The romance looked really good on paper but not so much in practice. The characters had no chemistry and I am not even entirely sure how they ended up together.

The book centered Mei’s narrative above all which was nice and appreciated. We get to see her come of age and navigate her complicated relationship with her conservative parents. We also get to see her navigate her culture and what her Taiwanese-American identity means. All of these things were so great and even as I struggled to truly enjoy the novel, I still found things I could relate to so I am sure so many teens and other readers will as well.

I do feel obligated to warn that there are undertones of internalized racism in Mei’s character that aren’t really addressed. Of course, overcoming internalized racism isn’t easy so it is not surprising that everything isn’t automatically okay by the end of the book, but it is still painful to read about if you’ve had those experiences. It was painful for me because I am still working on overcoming my own internalized racism from years of microaggressions. It might not be an issue for some people but because of my own experiences, it kind of was for me.

That being said, there is humor to be had and some feel-good moments to be had. Unfortunately, I just ended up not clicking with the book. It is not a terrible book by any means and I know I am 100% the black sheep in how I felt about the book. You have no idea though how much I wanted to like this book as someone who also experiences diaspora AND started college at 17. Sometimes, things are just not meant to be though and I hope that other people will be able to find pleasure and goodness in American Panda.

2.5 Stars
2.5 Hot Espressos

A Fairy tale about Fairy tales: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

A Fairy tale about Fairy tales: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Posted by on 01/30/2018 • 4 Comments

I think it’s fair to say there has been some mild hype surrounded The Hazel Wood. I mean, that gorgeous cover and the synopsis are kind of hard to resist so it makes sense. BUT, is the book worth it? This is a slightly complex question to answer because I ~know~ this book won’t be for everyone. To be honest, I also kind of avoided reminding myself what the book was about before I read it because I dreaded the hype getting the better of me and my tastes. I came out pleasantly surprised.

The Hazel Wood is part urban fantasy, part fairy tale and part a book about stories. If someone had told me that before I read the book, I would be intrigued but also nervous because…

Complex and Feel-Good: Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

Complex and Feel-Good: Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

Posted by on 01/24/2018 • 9 Comments

Let’s Talk About Love surprised me. I went in expecting good vibes and it still blew my expectations out of the water. It is NOT a perfect book, I am nitpicky and its hard for books to be perfect for me, but Let’s Talk About Love is damn well a fantastic read that is worth your time.

Do you love a feel-good romance that will sweep you off your feet? Do you love reading about friendships that have true-to-life complexity? Do you love some angst (the good kind)? Let’s Talk About Love is an ode to not just romantic love but all kinds of love, it explores the complexities of all kinds of relationships and it’s just a GOOD BOOK.

So why am I a nit picky bastard? Well because…

An Avalanche: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner

An Avalanche: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner

Posted by on 01/19/2018 • 4 Comments

I am behind on the times because this is my first time reading a book by this dynamic duo. To be fair, These Broken Stars has been on my tbr since 2012 and we’re just going to ignore the fact that 5 years later (or 4 years since it came out,) I still haven’t read it. BUT, I WASN’T GOING TO LET THAT HAPPEN WITH Unearthed. If I remember correctly, at some point it was pitched as Indiana Jones in space. I also got serious National Treasure vibes from the synopsis and I  am garbage for anything that involves a treasure hunt and secrets.

For those wondering, yes Unearthed 110% lives up to those comparisons. Unearthed is a fantastically written book that you WILL gobble up because it is…

Truly Clever: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Truly Clever: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Posted by on 01/17/2018 • 6 Comments

I somehow missed that Maureen Johnson had a new book coming out this month and only found out like a month or two ago. That shows you how I’ve been doing on keeping on top of all the new releases. Spoiler alert, its not good.  I actually had not read any Maureen Johnson prior to reading Truly Devious but had heard so many good things about her other books. Plus I am absolute garbage for books that have boarding schools and this one even had a fun murder mystery involved. I am going to be a spoilsport though and start off by focusing on the bad because I really enjoyed the book and would rather end on a more positive note.

Ellingham academy sounds amazing but… I felt like it…

2017 Releases You Shouldn’t Miss Out On

2017 Releases You Shouldn’t Miss Out On

Posted by on 01/04/2018 • 8 Comments

It is NO LONGER 2017 but that doesn’t mean you cannot revisit the past and read some amazing books that came out last year. This list is based on what I’ve read and still isn’t entirely complete because I HAVEN’T READ SO MANY BOOKS that came out last year. I also wanted to narrow it down so as not to dump too many books on your tbr! The following is a list of some of the best books out in 2017 in my opinion. Looking for a book to make that will make you cry, or at the very least, make you FEEL? These books might have something in store for you. Just as an FYI, all of these books involve death.

Saint Death by Marcus Sedwick

What…

4 Anticipated Sequels That Will Make it Even Easier for Me to Say Bye to 2017

4 Anticipated Sequels That Will Make it Even Easier for Me to Say Bye to 2017

Posted by on 12/19/2017 • 4 Comments

2017 has been an absolute garbage year not just on a political level but like a personal level (for me at least.) Back in 2016, I was so excited to bid the year adieu and yet here we are, again. I am not particularly looking forward to 2018 because wow, what a scary path ahead of us, but there are some books coming out that I’ve been waiting for since before I was born and I just wanted to scream about them for a little bit to make myself feel a little bit more pumped to bid this year GOODBYE.

1. Trouble Never Sleeps by Stephanie Tromly

I’ve been waiting for this book since 2016 and its unfair that I still have to waitttt. If you haven’t read this…

Cute But Not Much Else: Cast No Shadow by Nick Tapalansky & Anissa Espinosa

Cute But Not Much Else: Cast No Shadow by Nick Tapalansky & Anissa Espinosa

Posted by on 11/29/2017 • 1 Comment

Cast No Shadow was a surprise graphic novel I received but it looked really cute and I couldn’t help but read it right away. Of course, this was some time ago and I am only now getting around to writing the review for the book so forgive me.

Greg has no shadow and is kind of an outcast. One day, he discovers a haunted mansion and ends up falling in love with the resident ghost. Obviously, things get a little complicated and there is some good angst going on there too.

The graphic novel is as cute as it sounds but doesn’t necessarily leave a lasting impression. Not every book I read, or anyone reads, needs to be revolutionary but I think the premise is so unique that I would…