Review: The Birthday Girl

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Rating: ★★★½

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

I was really looking forward to reading this book because I love Melissa de la Cruz’s books. However, this book wasn’t as good as I expected it to be. 

As a thriller/mystery, the book falls kind of flat. There wasn’t much suspense. For a lot of the book I was waiting around for something big to happen. Nothing super thrilling happened until the very end. I was also expecting something to happen at her party but nothing really did. The big surprise happened in her past (the book is told in alternating timelines). 

One thing I did like were the descriptions. Melissa de la Cruz knows how to write about rich people and their lifestyle. I’ve read many of her books and that is a constant throughout a lot of them. I loved reading the descriptions of all the rich people at Ellie’s birthday party. They were hilarious; it was like watching a reality tv show. 

Overall, this book isn’t that surprising or thrilling but still has entertainment value. It’s a quick read, so if you want something short and entertaining to read, then go for it! 

Review: Escape from the Isle of the Lost (Descendants #4)

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Rating: ★★★★★

I bought this book a few weeks ago, but when I heard about Cameron Boyce’s (who plays Carlos in the movies) passing, I knew I just had to read it now. My heart ached every time I came across Carlos in the book. Carlos is such a precious character and from what I hear, Cameron was an amazing person off-screen. 

Like the other book in this series, this book was a lot of fun. These books aren’t meant to be much more than a marketing and promotional tool and I am 100% okay with that. I just love seeing more of the characters and their lives! 

This book does a nice job setting up the new characters of Hades and Celia. It also shows what Uma has been up to since we last saw her at the end of Descendants 2. I’m very excited to see what they’ll all do in the third movie. 

As always, I love the little Disney references throughout the book. For example, I loved the names of the colleges like Agrabah State University, Magical Institute Training (MIT), and Sherwood Forest University. Students even have to take the SAT (Salagadoola Abracadabra Test). How clever! 

Overall, if you’re a Disney Descendants fan, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this book. 

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.