Review: The Grace Year

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Rating: ★★★★½

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

Omg this was a roller coaster of a book. 

This book is described as The Handmaid’s Tale meets Lord of the Flies. I haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale but I loved Lord of the Flies. This was definitely like a female Lord of the Flies. In fact, it was 100 times more terrifying and disturbing than LotF. This book also reminded me a little of Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill because it also featured a sexist dystopian world. 

I don’t want to give too much away, so all I’ll say about the plot is that it is filled with non-stop action and intrigue, which makes it a fast read. You’ll be flipping through it trying to find out what happens next. You definitely won’t be bored. 

The writing style is also incredible. It’s hauntingly beautiful which perfectly captures the mood of the book. 

There was one quote in particular that really spoke to me. At one point, the main character states,

“We hurt each other because it’s the only way we’re permitted to show our anger. When our choices are taken from us, the fire builds within. Sometimes I feel like we might burn down the world to cindery bits, with our love, our rage, and everything in between”

pg. 345

I find this quote to be so reflective of our own society. In general, the themes behind this book are so prevalent in today’s world. 

Overall, this is an amazing and timely dystopian novel.

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Review: The Dead Queens Club

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Rating: ★★★

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

Initially, I was super excited to read this book. The Tudors meets Mean Girls? Yes please! However, this book ended up being pretty messy. 

My main issue is that the book is way too long. The book is about 450 pages and could have easily been just over 300. The whole first half is is slow and confusing. The book starts off at girlfriend number 5 and then kind of goes back and forth into the backstory. And there was so much backstory. It could have been summarized significantly and in a more chronological manner. Part of the issue was that the backstory jumped around a lot so it was sometimes hard to get a bearing as to what point in time it was.

Once the book got to girlfriend number 6 (about halfway through), it picked up. It was so much more exciting and The Dead Queens Club finally came into fruition. The book was enjoyable from the halfway point onwards. 

There were some things I did like. The premise was genius. Taking Henry and his 6 wives and setting it in a high school was so appropriate. I liked how Henry and the wives were all translated. I also liked the themes the book handled like slut shaming for example. 

Overall, this book could have been really amazing had it been edited more for clarity and length. 

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: You Must Not Miss

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from The NOVL in exchange for an honest review. 

Going into this book, I had no idea what to expect. But damn, this book was so unique and different that I ended up loving it.

When the book started, I wasn’t super into it since it started off like any other high school drama. There’s the bullied girl who befriends other outcasts, the mean girl, etc. To me it seemed to be going down a  path that I’ve seen one too many times.

Then about halfway through, the magical realism element to the story came out and it got weird. But I liked it. As the book progressed, it got darker and even more weird. And I still liked it. A lot. The whole plot and storyline just worked for me. 

What really made the book successful was the the writing style. It went so well with the book. It was easy to read and captured the mood and tone of the book perfectly. It had that contemporary feel with more mysterious and darker undertones. 

Overall, this is one of those books that you have to read for yourself to see if you like it. It’s so unique and different that it’s hard for me to say who would enjoy it. It may be a bit bizarre for some people, but for me that was what made me like it so much.  

Review: When Summer Ends

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Rating: ★★★★½

I received an ARC of this book for free as part of a Storygram book tour. 

When I first started this book, I just thought it would be your typical YA summer romance book. Something generic and cliched. But it ended up exceeding my expectations and being so much more. 

This book was so damn cute. Aiden and Olivia had such a cute relationship. Like that is the teen summer romance that I have always wanted. They were so good together and brought out the best in each other. They complemented each other so well. And Aiden in general is just amazing. Like he’s total boyfriend goals. 

I also enjoyed the writing style. It was easy and effortless and the POV changes were done very well. Because of this, reading this book was a breeze. I flew through it. 

I loved that this book dealt with a teenager with vision loss. That’s something that I haven’t come across in a YA book before so it was nice to see that representation. 

The only critique I have is that I wanted a little bit more closure in the epilogue. It was short and only from Aiden’s perspective. There was something in Olivia’s life that I had wanted to see how it played out. 

Overall, if you’re looking for a cute YA romance to read for the summer, definitely pick up this book! 

Review: Fat Angie Rebel Girl Revolution (Fat Angie #2)

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Rating: ★★★½

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

First off, I just want to put out a trigger warning since this book deals with a lot of serious topics such as fat shaming, bullying, grief, homophobia, and self-harm. 

This book is the sequel to Fat Angie, and going into this book I did not know that. I had thought it was a standalone book. Even though I did not read the first book, I was still able to understand what was happening in this book. There were a few things that I was confused about in the beginning, but I managed to figure it out. 

I liked the plot of the book, particularly the road trip aspect. The reason why I wanted to read this book was because it was about an RV road trip. I’m an RVer so that appealed to me. The best parts of the book involved the road trip. The beginning of the book is really heavy subject-wise, so the road trip came at the perfect time. 

However, the execution of the book wasn’t great. The writing style wasn’t my favorite. It was a bit awkward and clunky at times. I wished it flowed more smoothly. 

Overall, I enjoyed the story despite some flaws in the execution. 

Review: The Lost Coast

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Rating: ★★★½

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

I had such high hopes for this book, but it ultimately did not live up to my expectations. 

Let’s start with what I did like. 

I liked the diversity. There was a lot of sexual (lesbian, ace, etc.) and racial diversity. One of the girls was Filipino which I was super happy about since I’m Filipino. I love seeing Filipino representation.  

I also liked the aesthetic of the book. The descriptions perfectly captured that foggy, mystical, Northern California vibe. 

Now on to what I didn’t love. 

There were a lot of point of view changes throughout the book which really made it difficult to understand especially in the beginning. Each POV would last for only a few pages so it ended up being a bit jarring and all over the place. 

As for the storyline, it wasn’t exciting. It felt kind of blah to me until the end which is when things finally got interesting. 

I also wished the book focused more on June and Hawthorn. They were my two favorite characters and I wanted to explore more of their backstory. 

Overall, this book had some good moments (Queer POC witches for the win!), but didn’t reach its full potential.