Saturday, June 24, 2017

I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Title: I Believe in a Thing Called Love

Release Date: May 30, 2017

Publisher: BYR

Pages: 336

Received: Bought

Star Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that love is about way more than just drama.

My Thoughts

The premise of this novel was MADE for me. I love summer contemporaries AND kdramas. I know kdramas seem repetitive when meets the eye, but I agree with the main character Desi, how the build up and intimacy make the moments worth it. This novel picked me up into the perfect summer mood. I suggest this to anyone in need of a smack of summer in one punch.

Obviously, the novel follows a young Korean American in high school, who like most teenagers worry about, boys. Other than being the valedictorian and perfect SAT scorer, she can’t seem to handle herself when it comes to guys. She’s clumsy and awkward at heart, and I love how relatable and authentic her personality is.

Desi follows the common steps every kdrama couple goes through for their happily ever after. So of course, a new guy, Luca, steps into her narrative. The plan seems foolproof right?

I loved how the writer plays on not only kdrama cliches, but common cliches in American culture. It’s poignant and messy, but these dramatic events work. Also, I treasure the family dynamics and culture because searching for diverse books in a sea is difficult, but the first step is to look. I enjoyed the storytelling and larger character realizations. This is one not to miss!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Armchair Book Expo 2017: Day 1

 Hello! Day 1 is here for Book Expo! Introductions are so exciting because it brings the lovely book community together. I'm happy to introduce myself and I hope to hear more from all of you! Please comment below, so I can check out your post. 


I am...Readical. But behind Readical is me, Marcey. I review YA books, where I voice my concerns, passions, and raves. 

Currently...I'm studying computer science and have been hectic with school. It's difficult to put aside time for reading, but that's where I hope to improve my time management. (and priorities aka books)

My current read... is Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. Let me know if you've read it!

My social media... My twitter handle is @marceyreads or Follow me and tell me you're from Armchair BE and I'll follow you back!

I hope to hear from you! Thank you for a warm welcome.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

Title: Royal Bastards

Release Date: May 30, 2017

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Pages: 352

Received: Publisher

Star Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.

Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . .  [goodreads]

My Thoughts

*No spoilers!

Everything in this book was what I needed to fulfill my fantasy craze. My eyes were peeled towards the enchanting world building: the magic and the ever growing kingdom. After each page, the plot thickened to be more compelling and mesmerizing as the last. There is plenty of action to keep anyone focused and entertained.

Royal Bastards, was a solid read and I recommend anyone who is in the mood for some YA fantasy, to pick this one up. There was always someone new to meet in the plot and I grew to become very interested in them. One issue I had was the very simplistic writing in a very historic and fantasy background, which didn't pull me in all the way.

I usually try not to pick a fight with the main character, but Tilla was not my favorite. But I enjoyed how the author tied the ends on the character and story arcs. There were more lessons learned in the end by the main characters, but it pulled the novel more together.

I hope there will be more after this because I'd like to see where the author takes these complex characters in his world. It was strong in female bonds and power, which I can never get enough of. This was full of humor and intrigue, so don't miss out!

*received in exchange for an honest review (Thank You!)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Title: Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Release Date: May 2, 2017

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Pages: 336

Received: Purchased

Star Rating: ★ ★ ★  

Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding. But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind. When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to? [goodreads]

My Thoughts

First: check out my reviews of the first two books in the trilogy!

*Includes spoilers-- You've been warned

A cherry on top. This is exactly how Jenny Han ended her sweetest book series. I'm usually late to the party, but when I bought this and read it in one day, it was an expecting ending. I haven't reread the second one in a looong time, but I thought I knew where this was going because of the synopsis. Jenny Han captures the reader, with more than savory and sweet diction, but with powerful character dynamics from the Song sisters, to her relationship with Peter.

Senior year! Lara Jean and Peter began the book with a stronger, faithful, and bubbly relationship than their last. They immediately drawn me in because their relationship is so playful. I absolutely adored Kitty; she reminds me of Lily from Modern Family! I couldn't exactly remember Stormy at first, but it all came back to me when I heard about John. Then I thought about all the other boys she loved before! Like all the pity mentions of Josh were hilarious, he was obviously the rotten apple in the bunch. I had a small feeling we were going to see Josh, but it never happened. But either way, he is the past, and Peter is Lara Jean's future.

Peter and Lara Jean's relationship was definitely on the table the entire novel. We've heard the saying the entire series, "Don't be the girl that goes to college with a boyfriend". I could not see this go any other way, but in despair for Lara Jean. But the commitment Peter has for Lara Jean, was a true testament to his love for her. The tensions between them rose from their families, to their future together. We learn more about Peter's parents, nothing that wasn't new, his dad left him and his mom's distrust of Lara Jean. Lara Jean was almost just pestering Peter about his dad, but I was also angry that he didn't go to graduation because he didn't see Peter do well without him. But his mom is another story. A whole talk with Lara Jean. How she is ruining Peter's future?! I was even more disappointed when Lara Jean believed her entirely. The breakup was dramatic to say the least. The wedding came at the perfect point for a resolution and more lovey dovey comments.

Margo and Ms Rothschild were a complicated relationship. Margo didn't want her mom to be replaced and she felt like Ms Rothschild was too comfortable at home, when she was away at college. Jenny Han amplifies common tropes to her characters, but masterly renders the storytelling from cliches. There was not a pleasant resolution between these two characters, but I know it'll work out in the end.

Korea. The best gift, but also at the worst timing. I didn't like the idea of this trip at this point of time because of the rising tensions with Peter, college switching, the wedding, I convinced myself Korea was a plot hole, where no character mentioned it again. This large event was used as another wall between Peter and Lara Jean. But just the fact that no one mentioned something briefly like, "Remember when we...",... none of that.

One final thing I loved dearly, was college choosing. Lara Jean didn't get into a selective school all her peers, and her boyfriend, got into, but it leads her to a path with a higher ranked school and best first impression. The spontaneous rendezvous with Chris to the college that suddenly un-waitlisted her was such an exciting and thrilling experience. It was basically one last hurrah for these two besties and it lightened the mood.

 I loved that the novel ends in a full circle, from the very beginning contract. The story of how someone met is usually a special one and I'm teary-eyed about Peter and Lara Jean's.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Daily

Hello readers! I know my hiatus was long, but I'm here to mention the upcoming events and posts I have in store! It's been a hectic year, always hustling and bustling, but I know my roots: this blog. I want to evolve this blog to become something I've always wanted it to be. I know I'll put extra hard work into this blog this summer, so enjoy the sun and keep reading!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Blog Tour: Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven

Title: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Release Date: October 4, 2013

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Pages: 400

Received: Publisher *In exchange for a fair and honest review

Star Rating: ★ ★ ★  

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.
Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything in new and bad-ass ways, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool:Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.
Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. . . .Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.[goodreads]

My Thoughts

Upfront, this is of course a non spoiler review. This is also my first Niven novel and I know of her previous NYT bestseller. But what did this one have that intrigued me more? Some substance. I'm talking its central theme brings up stigma or bullying overweight teens. But I don't believe the author wrote it in a convincing way. Some people might even take it offensively. It's tricky...or it's an easy topic that can be taken out of proportion and at times I felt like it did.

Libby Strout was once in every headline on tv which started with something like "America's Fattest Teen". No one really looks past her weight and high school kids are brutal to her. The type of comments she receives from people her age are terrible and disheartening. She also wanted to be a dancer despite her weight contradictions and comments from teachers. I feel like the story lost sight of that, but she keeps on dancing in spite of the haters.

Jack Masselin is supposedly the cute, nerdy guy who sees Libby for who she is underneath and out of her skin. His friends are complete jerks, so he fits into the high school scene just fine. Did I mention he has prosopagnosia? Which means he can't identify faces, not even the faces of whom he loves. And another engineer in the male dominated STEM world. It's sarcasm. I feel like it didn't really delve into that engineering part except making robots and I didn't see a clear purpose for it.

This entire relationship was very tedious. It felted like a "meet-cute, insta-love after a week" type of deal. Maybe they were utterly perfect for each other and any other climax didn't stop them from realizing they needed each other. But the entirety of the description, "finding someone who sees you for who you are and seeing them right back" is a little tacky. Isn't that what love in every other books is or becomes? It's a good comparison with Caroline, Jack's on/off girlfriend, but other than didn't feel as exhilarating as the description delivered.

I gave this novel a chance or I took, " Every Possibility Life Has To Offer", but I didn't deliver for me. This didn't take me home, but take the book's advice and "Take every possibility life has to offer" and give this your best shot.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

Title: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire

Release Date: September 27, 2016

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Pages: 448

Received: Publisher

Star Rating: ★ ★ ★  

When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched.
The heirs of the city’s most powerful—and warring—families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan—and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die.
Paris Catresou has always wanted to serve his family by guarding Juliet. But when his ward tries to escape her fate, magic goes terribly wrong—killing her and leaving Paris bound to Romeo. If he wants to discover the truth of what happened, Paris must delve deep into the city, ally with his worst enemy . . . and perhaps turn against his own clan.
Mahyanai Runajo just wants to protect her city—but she’s the only one who believes it’s in peril. In her desperate hunt for information, she accidentally pulls Juliet from the mouth of death—and finds herself bound to the bitter, angry girl. Runajo quickly discovers Juliet might be the one person who can help her recover the secret to saving Viyara.
Both will find that Viyara holds more secrets and dangers than anyone ever expected. And outside the walls, death is waiting. . .  [goodreads]

My Thoughts

This may not seem like a high rating for a Rosamund Hodge novel because I've loved her previous dark, eerie novels. I can't help but feel a bit disappointed in this one. The premise intrigued me because I read Romeo and Juliet and the idea of how different scenarios pan out is so cool. But the problem was, I couldn't explain it to a friend. I was somewhat confused throughout the novel because the world was so huge, I couldn't keep up with the complexity. 

But once I got to the half way mark, it all clicked and I've fully realized what was going on. The writing didn't feel as special as in her previous works. There were of course threats in the novel. There were revenants and reapers, etc, Even though the romance between Romeo and Juliet was a bit dim, this world was so big and with there being more conflict, it was satisfying. A great character in the novel, Runajo was another hero saving the day from revenants. I enjoyed the magical surrealism in this retelling because it almost feels like another relic in history.

Also, the first thing I read about of the description is Romeo and Juliet retelling. I'm sad to say there's less Romeo and Juliet romance except in flashbacks, but there's more retelling. A countless amount of twists and turns, I'm 50/50 puzzled and interested. Additionally, I love being kept on the balls of my feet and this book did just that.

This first installment was full of tremendous detail, creativity, power, and eerie storytelling that would interest anyone in the classics.


Images by Freepik