Review: Almond

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (HarperVia).

This book is why I love international books. They’re always so different from what is traditionally published here in America and I find that so refreshing. 

In the prologue it states that, “I won’t tell you whether it has a happy ending or a tragic ending…neither you nor I nor anyone can ever really know whether a story is happy or tragic.” I think that perfectly sums up the book. It is sad at times, but there is still hope and happiness. The book toes the the line between both very well and highlights the complexities of life. 

This is a very fast book to read since the chapters are so short. I personally loved the short chapters because it kept the book moving at a good pace. 

I loved the juxtaposition between the two main characters. Their dynamic was so fascinating. A boy that feels nothing meets a boy who feels too much. 

Lastly, there are some lovely descriptions about books in this novel. At one point the main character states, “I felt connected to the smell of old books. The first time I smelled them, it was as if I’d encountered something I already knew” (pg 43). At another point he states, “But books are quiet. They remain dead silent until somebody flips open a page. Only then do they spill out their stories, calmly and thoroughly, just enough at a time for me to handle” (pg 127). 

Overall, I found this novel to be beautiful and thought provoking! If you’re looking to try something new and a bit different, pick up this book! 


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Review: Frankly in Love

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Rating: ★★★★½

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher. Since I received an ARC, my quotes from the book are tentative.

This book was so good! It’s a romance but it goes so much deeper than just that. At the core, it’s a story about first love, racism, identity, and family. 

I absolutely loved that this book did not shy away from talking about racism, especially the racism of Koreans towards African Americans and other Asian communities. I haven’t really seen that in a book before. 

I liked that this book explored the struggles of being Korean-American and having immigrant parents. Frank is often conflicted over his identity. At one point he states, “I call myself Korean-American, always leading first with Korean or Asian, then the silent hyphen, then ending with American. Never just American” (pg. 133). 

I also loved the end of the book. It was a bit sad but still realistic. 

My one critique is that the romances seemed a bit instalove-y, especially Frank’s romance with Brit. Frank fell in love with Brit so fast. It kind of came out of nowhere. 

Lastly, as a Filipino American I’m always looking for representation and this book has a tiny bit of Filipino rep. One of Frank’s friends, Paul, is Filipino. His character doesn’t do much, but the book does incorporate Isang Bagsak. Isang Bagsak is a Filipino unity clap, whcich I never even heard of prior to reading this book. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this #OwnVoices exploration of love and identity. 

Review: 29 Dates

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Rating: ★★★★½

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

This book doesn’t get the greatest reviews but I tend to rate books based on what they are. This was a YA romantic comedy and I thought it was a super cute one!

In the beginning it slightly reminded me of Melissa de la Cruz’s middle grade series, The Ashleys (which I read way back in middle school), because it had a slightly materialistic vibe and was set in San Francisco.

The romance itself was basic but still cute. I loved the little snippets from her 29 dates that were at the beginning of the chapters. 

I really liked that the book touched upon the casual racism that Asians in America face daily such as people thinking Asians all look the same, people being surprised at how well an Asian person speaks English, and the notion that Asians are quiet. 

Since I am Filipino, I also loved the inclusion of some Filipino representation. One of the love interests was Filipino and I loved seeing that. I enjoyed the chapter that explored his life because we got to see a little bit of Filipino culture such as Filipino food and karaoke. 

I noticed at least one use of the word “hella” (pg. 353) which I was super happy to see because that is one of the most popular Bay Area slang words.  

Lastly, I have to address the controversy that surrounds this book. Many people have issues with this book because a non-Korean (Melissa de la Cruz is Filipino) is writing about Korean culture. I think that is a fair and valid critique and I can’t really say much about the Korean aspects since I am not Korean. The one thing I will say however, and this may be controversial, but I do think some of the criticisms I’ve read are overly harsh. Going into this book, I knew this wasn’t going to be a deep book because Melissa de la Cruz’s books are never deep. Even the one book she wrote about a Filipino American immigrant experience still had that classic Melissa de la Cruz fluff. In my personal opinion (which you do not have to agree with), I think Melissa de la Cruz just wanted to write a fun cute story and she tried the best she could with the Korean aspects (which she addresses in her author’s note at the end). She wasn’t trying to make some grand statement about the Korean experience. 

Overall, I really liked this book. Is it mind blowing? No. Is it fun? Yes. So if you’re looking for something fun and not super serious, then consider reading this book.