Book Review

The Way You Disappoint Me

The Way You Make Me FeelThe Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thank you, Macmillan, for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

People who would be there for you even when you messed up and behaved like a jerk? They were the good stuff.

I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has noticed that people of color (e.g. Koreans, Filipinos, and more) are becoming popular in literature nowadays. Readers continue to crave for more diverse books, whether it be in regards to race, religion, and more. With that in mind, books like this are nice because they can make all kinds of readers feel represented.

By looking at the pretty cover, one can easily deduce that The Way You Make Me Feel is about an Asian girl. It follows Clara Shin, who is both Korean and Brazilian. She is particularly famous (or infamous) for her ability to cause mayhem and piss people off. After Clara gets into a catfight with her African-American nemesis named Rose Carver, both of them are obliged to spend the whole summer working on Clara’s dad’s food truck, the KoBra. They continue to get on each other’s nerves but eventually realize that it is possible for them to be friends. To make things more interesting, Hamlet, a hunky, Chinese barista nearby, seems to be crushing on Clara. Get ready to be entertained by a story of family, love, and friendship.

For the most part, this book was a fun read. I gave 3.5 stars to I Believe in a Thing Called Love last year, so I expected to have a similar reading experience. Unsurprisingly, I encountered the same virtues: diverse characters, beautifully simple writing, and touching family dynamics. I also didn’t have a hard time finishing this book because the content was very easy to process or take in.

I particularly loved the close relationship between Clara and her dad, Adrian. Adrian practically raised Clara on his own. Jules was an Instagram celebrity who couldn’t stay in one country, so she wasn’t very involved in raising Clara. Hence, it was interesting that Clara seemed to favor her mom, who clearly didn’t prioritize the right things. There wasn’t supposed to be any competition, but I was on Adrian’s side all the way because he never made Clara feel neglected. He was a permissive parent at the beginning of the book, but thankfully, he became wiser and stricter. At the end, Clara couldn’t have asked for a better dad.

Clara and Rose’s hate-to-love relationship was also fascinating. I was surprised that even worst enemies could become best friends. After spending much time together, they learned to understand and accept each other. I didn’t feel sad at all that Clara decided to “ditch” her old “friends” who only brought out the worst in her.

As for the romance between Clara and Hamlet, it was sweet but instalovey. Even Rose thought so! Haha. She was shocked to learn that Clara and Hamlet became a couple after just one date. LOL. Looking on the bright side, it was nice that Hamlet did not pressure Clara to confess her love for him. According to Hamlet, they would follow “Clara Time,” not “Hamlet Time”. That was such a cute and feminist thing to say.

The only problem I had with this book was…Clara. She was super annoying, especially at the beginning of the book. In fact, she was the one who made me understand the concept of girl hate because she had nothing but derogatory things to say about the females she encountered. And she had a public altercation with Rose, for crying out loud. Clara wasn’t this mean or aggressive to any of the male characters, so I couldn’t help but describe her attitude as a manifestation of girl hate. With that in mind, it was a miracle that she was able to make a best friend out of Rose.

Furthermore, it bugged me that Clara kept on comparing Hamlet to a dog. Chinese people are kinda known for their willingness to eat dogs, so go figure. 😦 I’m not sure if this counts as racism. Thus, please correct me if I’m wrong. Is it okay for Asians to be racist to fellow Asians? Ugh. Whatever.

Overall, I liked reading The Way You Make Me Feel mainly because of its emphasis on family dynamics. Still, in retrospect, some of its themes/aspects were contradictory (e.g. female friendship and girl hate, racial diversity and racism). If you loved I Believe in a Thing Called Love, you might be disappointed in this book. I hope that you’ll enjoy it more than I did.

Book Review

Just a Little Sign Language

A Quiet Kind of ThunderA Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

All I need is just a little sign language. Show me that you’re mine, baby. And say what you wanna say.

—Dylan Gardner

This book was my second contemporary read (in 2017) concerning mental illness, and I am happy to say that I liked it very much. The premise itself was intriguing: a selectively mute girl forming a bond with a deaf boy. One would expect the story to implode with all kinds of infamous tropes (e.g. instalove and romanticized mental illness), but I actually found it to be educational, substantial, and refreshing.

British Sign Language (BSL) played an important role in A Quiet Kind of Thunder. Given the characters communicative impairments, BSL was primarily what they used to talk to each other. With that in mind, I really enjoyed the dialogues between Steffi and Rhys. The author enriched their conversations by helpfully explaining how to sign particular words and phrases, and I applauded her for doing so. It made me think about my father back home, who is (or used to be) adept at American Sign Language. I fondly remembered the days he taught me how to finger spell each letter of the alphabet. xD In other words, I liked this aspect of the novel because it rekindled my childlike interest in silent speech.

Another strength of this novel was its meaningful content. Interestingly, it explored the dichotomy of the “Speaking World” and the “Non-speaking World.” To simply put it, I enjoyed how the author debunked the stereotypes “normal” people have against those who are deaf or mute. I was sad whenever Steffi and Rhys felt alienated from others, including their own loved ones. Still, it was inspiring how they managed to find their own voice in spite of the ignorant and insensitive people around them.

I would have given this book five stars if I wasn’t perturbed by the values of the characters, especially their attitude towards sex. I was particularly offended by Steffi’s subtle mockery of chastity. I do not condemn fictional characters who are non-conservative, but it’s a different matter when they attack my own beliefs. This criticism is clearly subjective, but my conscience would bother me endlessly if I keep it to myself.

In the end, A Quiet Kind of Thunder lived up to its title. It’s characters were indeed quiet, yet the message of their story resonated in my mind like thunder: do not look down on those who are deaf or mute, because their condition does not prevent them from achieving a happy and purposeful life.

Book Review

A Court of Pain and Feels

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I feel like I won’t be able to write a decent and meaningful review without discussing the events of the book in detail, so, WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD! Read at your own risk ✌

This is the first book that I’ve read by Sarah J. Maas, and OMG, she didn’t disappoint! I read ACOTAR twice last year, and I’m still amazed by how good she is in telling stories. She doesn’t use fancy and flowery words to describe things. Instead, she relates details in such a way that I can easily transform the words into images in my mind. It almost feels like watching the story rather than reading it.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is a fairy-tale retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and like any other fantasy retelling, it comes with very interesting twists. The protagonist, Feyre, is a huntress. She lives in a land divided into two: the Mortal Lands and the realm of faeries called Prythian. After killing a wolf, Feyre is brought to Prythian to pay for the life of the faerie she killed.

First of all, I really hated Feyre’s sisters in the beginning. Feyre was the youngest of three, but she was the one who had to provide food for their family. The other two girls, Nesta and Elain, just waited for food to come. They couldn’t even chop wood, for goodness’ sake! However, I somehow warmed up to them as I learned more about their personalities and the reasons why they acted that way. It was a little heartwarming when Nesta said that she came looking for Feyre after she was taken to Prythian and nobody couldn’t remember anything except her, and also when Nesta told her not to come back because she knew that Prythian was now Feyre’s home and that she would be happier there.

I really loved the world-building. I found Prythian very interesting with its lands divided into different courts: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Dawn, Day, and Night. The different creatures were also fascinating (and terrible), especially the Suriel. I wonder what I would ask if I ever caught it (and survived the encounter). It was also interesting to find out that there were two types of faeries: the High Fae and Lesser Fae.

Let’s talk about Tamlin, the High Lord of Spring. I am writing this review after reading A Court of Mist and Fury, but since this is only a review for ACOTAR, I’ll reserve my current thoughts for my review of ACOMAF…which is really hard. Haha. Okay, so Tamlin. He was really kind to Feyre, and I really appreciated that he took care of her family when their only provider was brought to Prythian. I also liked that he attempted to talk to her nicely, even though he was kinda awkward about it…which was cute. Also, I liked that he gave her a chance to live her life the way she wanted after years of having no choice but to hunt food for her family and keep her promise to their mother.

I was frustrated when Tamlin sent Feyre away days before the deadline of the curse. It was clear that Feyre would confess her love soon, but what did he do? He sent their only hope of breaking the curse back to the mortal lands! They couldn’t guarantee that she’d be safe there. The Suriel even told Feyre that she just had to stay with the High Lord. It was really stupid to send Feyre away!

My heart broke for Feyre because she had to go through a lot of pain Under the Mountain to save her love and break the curse. I really admired her courage and bravery in accepting Amarantha’s bargain, even though it looked foolish to others. I was frustrated that her inability to read almost killed her and Lucien. Hmmm, come to think of it, it was an interesting turnabout to Beauty and the Beast. While Belle loved to read, Feyre could barely understand written words.

And then, there’s Rhysand, the mysterious High Lord of the Night Court. Again, it’s a struggle to recall what I thought about him before I read ACOMAF. ACOMAF changed everything! Anyway, before reading this book, I had already heard of his name countless of times. He’s famous in the Bookstagram community. I personally didn’t know what to think of him. I didn’t hate him, but I also didn’t like him that much. I was glad that he helped Feyre at times when she badly needed help, but then, he also treated her terribly. Also, when I think about it, it might have been just an act so that Amarantha would not notice anything fishy…I was confused! He was just so mysterious. I didn’t really know what he was thinking and what his agenda was in helping Feyre. But I kinda liked Rhysand when he attacked Amarantha even though he knew that he had no chance in defeating her without his full powers back. He was shouting Feyre’s name and risking his own life, while Tamlin, on the other hand, just remained in his spot, doing nothing. What is wrong with him??! His love was being tortured but he was just watching her die! ASDFGHJKL!!

My favorite character in ACOTAR was Lucien. He was very mischievous, but I could tell that he also cared for Feyre, not just because his High Lord told him to do so. Feyre and Lucien’s playful banter was one my favorite things in this novel. I would’ve shipped them together, were it not for the fact that there were Tamlin and Rhysand to think about. If Lucien was also involved, things would just be more complicated.

To end this lengthy review, I would like to say that I really enjoyed reading this book. It was easy to read, the characters were interesting, the world was fascinating, and everything else was very engrossing. I highly recommend it!

Author Interview

Q & A with Amanda Hocking

Hi, everyone! As a participant in a blog tour for Between the Blade and the Heart, I was given the opportunity to have a written interview with Amanda Hocking, one of the most popular authors of YA literature. BTBATH was the last book I read in 2017, and you can find my review here. Hopefully, this Q & A will encourage you to check out BTBATH, which comes out today. 😀

(Note: The questions with a red asterisk were submitted by my fellow blog tour participants.)

Cover Between the Blade and the Heart

  1. What or who was the inspiration behind Between the Blade and the Heart

“I have already written several books inspired by Scandinavian folklore, and I was always fascinated by Valkyries. But because I had already done in Scandinavian fantasy, I wanted to come at this one from a different angle. I imagined the Valkyries helping to police a gritty, diverse, cyberpunk metropolis, in a world filled with not just Norse figures but from many mythologies.”

  1. What are the life lessons that you want readers to glean from your book? 

“That love is a strength, not a weakness.”

  1. If you were given the chance to go on a date with one of your characters, who would you choose and what would you do together? 

“Oona. She doesn’t swing that way, but since I’m married anyway, it would be a friendship date. I think it would be fun to go to an apothecary with her and have her show me around the magic. Or maybe just veg out and watch bad movies.”

  1. Would the essence of your novel change if the main protagonist were male?

“Yes, it would be changed dramatically. For one, Valkyries are women. But I also think the book explores the relationships between mothers and daughters, and friendships between young women.”

  1. What is your definition of true love in YA literature? 

“There has to be passion and desire – not necessarily anything physical, but so much of young love is about yearning. But I also think that true love is based on mutual respect and selflessness.”

  1. *What advice would you give to someone who wanted to be an author/start writing?

“My biggest piece of advice is to just write. It’s so easy to get caught up in self-doubt or procrastination. There are lot of great books and blogs about the art of writing, but the most important thing is really to just do it. The best way to get better at writing is by doing it.”

  1. *What cities inspired the urban haven where the Valkyries live?

“I was really obsessed with this idea of an overpopulated metropolis, and so I took a lot of inspiration from some of the biggest cities in the world, particularly Tokyo, Mexico City, Mumbai, and Manila. The city itself is actually a sort of futuristic, alternate reality of Chicago (one of my favorite cities in the world), and I wanted to incorporate that into it as well.”

  1. *How did you name your characters? Are they based on people you know in real life?

“It’s combination of names I like and taking inspiration from the world itself. With Between the Blade and the Heart, the names were inspired both by the mythology they come from – many Valkyries have Norse names like Malin, Teodora, and Freya, for example – and the futuristic setting of the book, so I wanted names that seemed a bit cooler and just slightly different than the ones we use now.”

  1. *Which mythological character is the most like you?

“Demeter, because she’s pretty dramatic – she basically kills all the plants in the world when her daughter goes missing – but she’s also determined, and will stop at nothing to protect those she cares about.”

  1. *You’ve said that pop culture and the paranormal both influence your writing. How do these things intersect for you?

“In a way, I think they’re both about how humans choose to interpret and define the world that surrounds us. So many mythologies come from humans trying to make sense of the seasons and the chaos of existence, and even though we’ve moved past a lot of the scientific questions, pop culture is still tackling our existence. Even when looking at shows made for kids, like Pixar, they handle a lot of difficult concepts, like what it means to love someone else, how to be a good friend, facing your fears, and overcoming loss. These are things that mythologies and stories have been going over for centuries.”

  1. *Your novels and characters are so layered. How do you stay organized while plotting/writing? Do you outline, use post-it notes, make charts, or something else?

“All of the above! This one was the most intensive as far as research and note taking goes, and I also had maps, glossaries, and extensive lists of various mythologies. I think I ended up with thirteen pages of just Places and Things. I do a lot of typed notes, but I also do handwritten scribbles (which can sometimes be confusing to me later on when I try to figure out what they mean. I once left myself a note that just said “What are jelly beans?”) For this one, I really did have to have lots of print outs on hand that I could look to when writing.”

  1. *Was this book always planned as a series or did that develop afterwards?

“It was always planned as a duology. I don’t want to go into too much or risk spoiling the second book, but I had this idea that one book would be above, and the other below.”



About the author:

Amanda Hocking NEW--credit Mariah Paaverud with Chimera Photography

Amanda Hocking is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.

Visit Amanda’s website


Book Review

Between Valkyrie Profile and City of Bones

Between the Blade and the Heart (Valkyrie, #1)Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I reviewed this book as a participant in a blog tour hosted by the publisher. Thank you, Macmillan (Wednesday Books), for sending me an e-galley and a finished copy.

Did I choose to be a Valkyrie, or did it choose me? —Malin

Being a fan of Valkyrie Profile, I was very excited to delve into Between the Blade and the Heart, Amanda Hocking’s new novel about a teenage girl tasked by Odin to gather the souls (kill) of chosen individuals. After reading the first few chapters, I felt like I was devouring a revamped version of City of Bones. The setting was dark and urban, filled with creatures that were divine, diabolic, and something in between. Intrigued by the book’s great premise and familiar world, I was able to fly through each short chapter.

Essentially, this book had a strong beginning but lackluster ending. As a result, I had a hard time sorting through my conflicted feelings. Thankfully, this book had strengths that prevented me from giving it a lower rating. For example, most of the characters were diverse; there were many people of color. Moreover, there was an emphasis on female empowerment; it was impossible for males to be Valkyries. Gender equality obviously wasn’t shown, but it was nice that the female characters deviated from stereotypical weakness. Finally, the author’s application of Norse mythology was concise and excellent. I particularly loved learning about the history of Valkyries and the gods that governed mortals and immortals.

Romance was the thing that nearly ruined my overall enjoyment. The love triangle was unique since it involved a straight dude, a bisexual girl, and a lesbian. After all, queer love triangles are rarely seen in YA. However, I really disliked how Malin always compared Asher and Quinn. Her comparisons made Quinn (who was lesbian) seem inferior to Asher (who was straight). In spite of that, Malin couldn’t make up her mind. She claimed that there were more important issues to deal with than her complicated love life. I understood the urgency of her world’s destruction, but I couldn’t help but wince at her insensitivity. Asher was my favorite character, and I was annoyed that Malin was inadvertently toying with his feelings.

In the end, I decided to give Between the Blade and the Heart 3.5 stars because for the most part, it was fast-paced and entertaining. Its premise made it one of the most unique books in my library. Regardless of its flaws, I look forward to reading more books by Amanda Hocking. ^^

Book Review

Soon to Be a Satisfactory YA Contemporary

Now a Major Motion PictureNow a Major Motion Picture by Cori McCarthy

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Thank you, Sourcebooks Fire, for giving me an e-galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I’d read her story and began drowning in a loss I’d never known was mine. My grandmother was a brilliant author—and I’d never read her books.

Now a Major Motion Picture is marketed as something that fans of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl will enjoy. It’s been a few years since I read the latter book, but I can say that the blurb is true to an extent. NAMMP, like Fangirl, features excerpts from a completely original fantasy novel. However, NAMMP is less impactful and more focused on fan culture, particularly in regards to book to movie adaptations. With that in mind, remember to take everything with a grain of salt. Otherwise, you might feel a little disappointed.

The premise of NAMMP is actually unique compared to most of the YA contemporary novels I’ve read this year. It follows Iris Thorne, a girl who wants nothing to do with her late grandmother’s popular book series. Despite her protests, Iris is sent to Ireland for the film adaptation of Elementia. She yearns for the film to become a commercial failure, but the possibility of finding love, friendship, and her musical identity gradually shakes her resolve. By the end of the film’s production, she might have to say good-bye to her “Jaded Iris” title.

The first thing I liked about this book was its depiction of fan culture. It was easy for me to relate to how the hardcore fans of Elementia feared that the film would deviate too much from the book series. It is an undeniable fact that although we bookworms love to see our beloved characters come to life on screen, we are rarely pleased by book to movie adaptations. We just can’t help but see the creative license of the film industry as a catalyst for bookish sacrilege. xD

It was also fascinating that NAMMP explored the “dark side” of fandom: it can cause people to emotionally or physically harm others. Iris did have a lot issues about Elementia, but the underlying reason for her hatred was justified. Her life would have been less complicated if a delusional fan hadn’t terrorized her baby brother.

Another thing I enjoyed was the book’s enlightening discussion of sexism in the film industry. Cate, the director of Elementia, was underestimated because of her sex. Her production company was very patriarchal, so it was more than willing to cut her budget or cancel the film (which was supposedly a Feminist take on Lord of the Rings). Thankfully, Cate refused to back down, determined to prove that women were a force to be reckoned with in both film and literature.

My problem with NAMMP was something that I had already encountered in many contemporary books: the Bad Parent(s) trope. Iris’s dad was a complete jerk, while her mom was almost nonexistent. Iris’s dad was practically the antagonist in the story because he was a fountain of stress and resentment. In light of his undignified attitude, I wasn’t surprised that Iris and Ryder treated him like he was anything but their parent. Personally, I really dislike it when contemporary books portray parents as the bad guys because it doesn’t promote a healthy understanding of family life. Some people may say that this trope simply reflects reality because there are many bad parents in the world. Still, what’s the point of further discouraging readers?

In totality, I gave NAMMP 3.5 stars because it was both fun and enlightening to read. If you are interested in literary discussions on fan culture and Feminism, you should give this book a shot. Just tread carefully if you are triggered by the Bad Parent(s) trope.