Review: The Right Swipe (Modern Love #1)

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received this book for free free as part of an Instagram tour (TLC Book Tours specifically) I did to promote the book.

I was really impressed with this book. This is the first book in Alisha Rai’s new Modern Love series which is an appropriate name for it since it reflects exactly that. It tackles a lot of timely issues, like dating apps, the #MeToo movement, and CTE in the NFL. It was so refreshing seeing a romance that was very on point with what is going on in today’s world. On top of that, this is a diverse book which is always nice to encounter, especially in the romance genre. 

I loved the cast of characters. I really liked the female lead, Rhiannon. She was a total boss. The male lead, Samson, was a great love interest. I loved how he was able to get through to Rhiannon since she is so guarded due to her past. Additionally, I loved Samson’s Aunt Annabelle, who was a supporting character. She was so quirky and eccentric but very endearing. Rhiannon’s friend, Katrina, was another supporting character I loved as well. 

This book does fall prey to the typical miscommunication at the end of the book (a common trope in the romance genre) but it does get resolved fairly quickly. 

Overall, I loved this very modern (and diverse) take on romance and will be looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series. 


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Review: Faker

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from the publisher (Berkley Publishing) in exchange for an honest review.

I was so excited to read this book because it is an own voices book written by a biracial Filipino American woman. As some of you may know, I too am a biracial Filipino American woman. I knew I had to read this book because representation matters!

All in all, I found this to be a cute romance. 

I loved Tate. Despite his tough exterior, he was such a softie and a generous lover. I loved that he put female pleasure first. Speaking of pleasure, I really liked the sex scenes. 

One of things I really liked was the communication between Emmie and Tate. Many times in contemporary romances there will be miscommunications and misunderstandings between the main characters and they will go their separate ways and sulk for a week instead of talking through it. In this book, the characters will almost immediately talk about the situation, which I find more realistic. 

This book does get comparisons to The Hating Game by Sally Thorne because of the workplace enemies-to-lovers trope. I have read that book, but it was a while ago so I don’t remember much. Because of that, I can’t speak to their similarities. 

As for the Filipino representation, I enjoyed seeing lit bits of Filipino culture like Illocano words and Filipino food. I was also happy to see Emmie talk about being darker skinned and how that has impacted her. There is also a lot of talk about Hawaii, since Emmie grew up on the Big Island. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am so happy to finally see some Filipino rep in romance! 

Patron Saints of Nothing blog tour: author guest post!

Hello beauties! Today I am so thrilled to be a stop on the Patron Saints of Nothing blog tour. As a biracial Filipino American like the main character, this book means the world to me because representation matters! I have written a review for this book (which will be up on a later date, spoiler alert: I gave it 5 stars), but for today I have an awesome guest post from the author, Randy Ribay, where he describes why he decided to tackle the heavy subject of President Duterte’s war on drugs.

Without further ado, here is the post written by Randy Ribay:

In the novel Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami writes, “Closing your eyes isn’t going to change anything. Nothing’s going to disappear just because you can’t see what’s going on. In fact, things will even be worse the next time you open your eyes. That’s the kind of world we live in. Keep your eyes wide open. Only a coward closes his eyes. Closing your eyes and plugging up your ears won’t make time stand still.”

I think about this concept a lot, and I think it helps explain why I’ve always been drawn to “heavy” subjects, as the books and TV shows and movies I love the most are usually stories grappling with very serious issues. I feel as though such stories get at the core of what’s real. They show us who we truly are—as individuals, as humanity—at our best and our worst. I believe it’s important to confront these moments to figure out what leads us down one path or another. 

As a Filipino American, I wanted to explore the drug war in the Philippines because the thousands of extrajudicial killings comprise such a moment. I wanted to think through why President Duterte and other politicians believe it’s a good solution, why so many Filipinos support it, why some fight it, and why so many people (Filipino and otherwise) choose to ignore it. Of course, it’s one thing to try to understand this at the macro-level as a matter of policy, but there’s also a human impact of these cumulative actions/reactions/inactions, and that’s what I wanted to look at through Patron Saints of Nothing

The main character, Jay, is a Filipino American only vaguely aware of the drug war going on in the country where he was born. But when he gets news of his cousin’s death as a result of that drug war, he decides to try to figure out what really happened. Pursuing that question causes him to also confront a whole host of other questions about identity, family, faith, morality, truth, etc., that he likewise hadn’t given much thought to before. I think it’s only by struggling with such questions that can we develop a better understanding of who we are as individuals and who we are as a community. With that, we have a much better chance of becoming who we want to become. 


BOOK DESCRIPTION

A powerful coming-of-age story about grief, guilt, and the risks a Filipino-American teenager takes to uncover the truth about his cousin’s murder.

Jay Reguero plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story.

Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth — and the part he played in it.

As gripping as it is lyrical, Patron Saints of Nothing is a page-turning portrayal of the struggle to reconcile faith, family, and immigrant identity.


AUTHOR BIO:

Randy Ribay was born in the Philippines and raised in the Midwest. He is the author of After the Shot Drops and An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes. He earned his BA in English Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder and his Master’s Degree in Language and Literacy from Harvard Graduate School of Education. He currently teaches English and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Review: Hearts Unbroken

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Rating: ★★★½

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Candlewick Press) as well as from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers. Yes, I ended up with two ARCs because I had sent a review request to the publisher (which they granted) and had entered to win the book on LibraryThing (and ended up winning a copy).

I was so excited to read this book because I have read very few books about the Native American experience and wanted to learn more.

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I loved the premise of the book and the message behind it. Native Americans and their experiences are always swept under the rug when it comes to racial inequality, so it is important to have books like this out there. I learned a lot from this. For example, L. Frank Baum’s racist attitudes towards Native Americans. I never knew that because it never gets mentioned.

I also liked how the author incorporated some Mvskoke words into the story. It was a nice touch.

However, the book’s execution was a bit lackluster. To me it just seemed like there was a lot going on. Not only was there a lot about racism but there were also a little bit of slut shaming and bullying thrown in the mix too. This was all on top of a romance story too. I wished the book would just focus on one main issue, instead of trying to throw it all in. It would have had more focus and been more impactful that way.

Overall, the book had a powerful message despite a few flaws in the execution.

Review: The Proposal

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from the publisher (Berkley Books) in exchange for an honest review. 

Please note that I have not read The Wedding Date, so all the characters in this book were brand new to me. I also cannot speak to how this book compares with that book. 

It took me forever to read this book because I just started law school, but this was such a fun romance! 

First off, I loved the diversity! The main character is black. One of her friends is a plus sized Korean American. The other is a black lesbian. The love interest is Latino. It was just so refreshing to see and read about, especially since the book takes place in Los Angeles which is so diverse. 

The premise of being proposed to at a baseball game (if only it wasn’t a Dodgers game- Go Giants!) and saying no was so creative and fun. I could picture this being turned into a great rom-com movie. 

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I also loved the overall vibe of the book. It felt very LA. Like when I was reading it, I could totally tell that it was LA and I felt like I was there with the characters. 

The romance was really good as well. Nik and Carlos made a great couple. I loved their interactions, especially the ones with Carlos’s family. His family is the best. 

The ending for me fell a little flat which is why I gave this 4 stars. It ended quickly and I wished that it would have been fleshed out more. 

Overall, this was an enjoyable diverse romance!