ARC REVIEW: FORESHADOW by Nova Ren Suma, Emily X.R. Pan, et al.

This is my first time reviewing a short story anthology, and only my fifth time reading one (my former favourite being Slasher Girls and Monster Boys), so I’m honestly not entirely sure how to go about this! BUT I know that I loved the collection and wanted to share my thoughts with you, so here we go:

*Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for the e-ARC of this wonderful collection*

Foreshadow is an anthology of short stories by thirteen incredible, diverse and lesser-known Young Adult authors, introduced by a variety of famous names. Each story is followed by a short essay by Nova Ren Suma or Emily X. R. Pan about a theme, motif or technique used within, and each essay is followed by a writing prompt on a similar theme.

I adored this collection. When I first heard about it, I was instantly obsessed, and when I started reading, that didn’t change at all. The range in these stories means that there is at least one in the collection that everyone will love, and I found myself constantly surprised by the genre variance from one tale to the next. It’s consistent in the way that each story resonates with the reader, but uses an incredible array of settings, genres and voices to achieve this. It is easy to see how every single author used their own personality to shape their contribution to this collection and it was fascinating to become so invested in thirteen different plots in such a short space of time.

I do have to admit that a couple of the stories weren’t my favourite, but the entire concept of this collection completely made up for it. I found that, even if a specific story wasn’t for me, I connected with the characters anyway and looked forward to the analysis that followed. Plus, whether I loved them all or not, I can easily say that every story in this book is edited to perfection. A few of my favourites (that were 5/5 reads easily) were ESCAPE, SOLACE, GLOW and BREAK, all of which have inspired me to check out the authors in the hope that they have something else I can read immediately.

This beautiful collection showcases the diversity that Young Adult Fiction has to offer, as well as the depth that can be achieved in a short story, which is interesting for all readers, but especially for aspiring authors. This collection made me want to open up a new document and start writing after every single story, and I haven’t read anything powerful enough to inspire me like that in a long time.  I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a diverse and thought-provoking collection of stories by up-and-coming new authors, but would argue that it’s essential reading for anyone who wants to be inspired to begin (or continue) their own writing journey.

RATING: 5/5

Side note: this collection was originally a digital anthology, published at foreshadowya.com, where there are additional stories and content warnings for everything included in this collection!

Foreshadow comes out on October 20th 2020.

BOOK REVIEW: SEA WIFE by Amity Gaige (BLOG TOUR STOP)

Hi, welcome to my first ever blog tour review! Firstly, thank you so much to Grace Vincent at Fleet for the advance copy of this book, and HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY to Amity Gaige! This was such a fascinating read and I’m so excited to be part of the blog tour.

Seawife tells the story of a woman named Juliet, whose husband convinces her to join him on a year-long trip around the Caribbean, living almost entirely on the ocean. When their voyage is over, and tragedy has struck, Juliet must adjust back into life on land and to parenting their two children in a more conventional way.

All the while, though, her mind is still on their journey across the ocean and her husband’s sailing obsession, and we learn the specifics of their trips through a combination of Juliet’s story, Michael’s logbook and, occasionally, their daughter Sybil’s thoughts and prayers.

It might just be because this isn’t a genre that I’ve really looked into, but I have never read a book like Seawife. The style and subject matter were both so completely new to me that I found myself getting quickly sucked in, and I ended up so glad that I gave this book a go! I was definitely intimidated by all of Michael’s technical terminology at the beginning, but the story is written in such a compelling and accessible way that I was genuinely interested in the technicalities of sailing by the time I finished (something I really never thought I’d say!)

Juliet speaks of the sceptics of her voyage in this book and, I admit, I also didn’t understand the allure of a life on the ocean until the story really got into it. I never would have considered the possibility of abandoning life, school, work, etc, to live in a 44 square-foot floating home, but I was very quickly hooked on learning about their new lifestyle. Their life story is beautiful, fascinating and completely believable, and it definitely made me re-evaluate my initial thoughts. By the end, it seemed strange when the characters were on land, and I wanted to hear more and more about their life on the water.

The characters in this book- primarily Juliet, her husband Michael, their daughter Sybil and their son George- were all really interesting, both in terms of their personalities and their relationships with each other, and I found myself deeply invested in the lives of each of them. I think Sybil may be my favourite character, overall. She was believable as a young child, funny and enthusiastic, but also grown-up in a way that her lifestyle would make her. George was adorable as well. Michael and Juliet were both strong-willed, firm in their beliefs and completely genuine and seeing the complexities of their marriage was fascinating.

Overall, I found this story to be a compelling depiction of the dangers and the allures of a life at sea. It’s thought-provoking, gripping and completely absorbing and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who has ever wondered about life on the ocean, or even just anyone who wants some good, old-fashioned escapism.

RATING: 4.5/5

You can find out more about this book on the Little, Brown site, and I would definitely recommend you pick up a copy from The Hive (support your local indie!) or Waterstones.

BOOK REVIEW: CLAP WHEN YOU LAND by Elizabeth Acevedo

*Thank you to Hot Key Books for the e-arc*

I don’t throw the term ‘one of the best books I’ve ever read’ around often, but it’s impossible not to consider this one of the most beautiful, poignant stories I’ve ever read, both in terms of the writing style and the dual stories.

‘Clap When You Land’ follows Yahaira and Camino, two half-siblings who don’t know that the other exists, and who find this out quite drastically following the death of their father. When they each find out that their father had two families and, effectively, two lives, they are heartbroken and confused, and having to deal with that in addition to their loss is a pain that they both face very differently and very beautifully.

I couldn’t choose a favourite character of the two. Both are strong and independent, and I think it makes the book all the more heartbreaking that they both try to be strong throughout it all. It made me more emotional to think about how much they were trying to hold it together than I think it would be to see them both fall apart. Both Yahaira and Camino are two of the most emotionally mature, and yet still believable, teenagers I’ve ever read. The other characters in the story also had an incredible amount of depth to them that I was certainly impressed by, and I found myself becoming invested in the plots of all of the characters, rather than just Yahaira and Camino.

The writing style in this book is something that totally blew me away. I have never read a book in verse before and, when I first started, I was a little sceptical about whether I would be able to read an entirely (relatively long) novel that is written this way. Within pages, though, I was completely hooked. It was so easy to get pulled through the book and I was halfway through before it even felt like I’d started. It’s such an easy book to read, despite the intense and meaningful plot.

The lives that are portrayed in this story are extremely contrasting, but both were equally captivating, and I finished this book in a day because I literally couldn’t put it down. The combination of Yahaira’s determination, Camino’s strength and an incredibly beautiful verse writing style definitely made this my most memorable book of the year so far, and I know for a fact that I will be picking up everything I can by Elizabeth Acevedo.

If you’ve read this book, I’d love to hear if you were as completely gripped as I was. Also, if you have any similar recommendations, I would love to hear them! This is a style that I think I might be quickly falling in love with….

RATING: 5/5

MID-YEAR BOOK FREAK OUT TAG 2020

Hi! I’m supposed to be studying right now because I have two reports due at the end of the month but, instead, I’m here, freaking out about books. As usual.

I’ve seen so many booktube videos of this and I feel like I’m missing out, so I wanted to join in the fun here! And also stress myself out trying to remember everything I’ve read so far. So… the book freak out tag.

BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2020

Spoilers for what will (probably) be my next blog post but Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo is absolutely the best book I’ve read this year. I cannot stress enough how much you need to read this book if you haven’t already.

BEST SEQUEL OF 2020

I- I haven’t actually read a single sequel in 2020, and it’s taken this tag to make me realise that. But, if this redeems me at all, I’m desperately checking the post every day for copies of Good Girl, Bad Blood and One of Us is Next so I’m assuming that one of them may be my best (and hopefully not only) sequel of the year…

NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ YET BUT WANT TO

All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban has been catching my eye for months now. It looks twisty and creepy and absolutely my type of book. I’m definitely hoping for a This Lie Will Kill You, One of Us is Lying kind of thing.

MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE OF THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR

I feel like there are a million books coming out in the second half of the year that I want to read, but the first one that springs to mind is Skyhunter by Marie Lu. She could literally write an instruction manual and it would be my new favourite book so her brand new, dystopian, action thriller is absolutely my most anticipated read of 2020.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Hart and Seoul by Kristen Burnham. I wrote a review of this book for Netgalley, but couldn’t bring myself to share it on here as I hate being overly negative. When I read this book, I was hoping for a cute, funny romance and the entire thing just kind of fell flat. I found it problematic and honestly a little difficult, so it was really disappointing after getting my hopes up so high.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

The Rules by Tracy Darnton. This book was pitched for fans of three books that I absolutely love (One of Us is Lying, We Were Liars, and A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder) so, in that respect, I was really hoping I’d like it. I wasn’t entirely sure when I read the blurb, though, and I was really worried that it wasn’t going to be as exciting as I hoped. This book turned out to be one of the best books I’ve read this year and I absolutely take back those doubts- it’s fast-paced, full of twists and a definite page-turner.

FAVOURITE NEW AUTHOR

Based on my reads so far this year, an author that I’m really excited about is Hina Belitz, author of To Lahore With Love. I absolutely loved this book (except for the fact that the recipes in every chapter made me hungry for the entire story…) and would definitely give anything she comes out with a try.

NEWEST FICTIONAL CRUSH

Hmmm, this one is surprisingly difficult. Maybe Xavier from Loveboat, Taipei.

NEWEST FAVOURITE CHARACTERS

I didn’t want to repeat any books in this tag but I don’t think I could possibly say anyone except Camino and Yahaira from Clap When You Land. Read. This. Book. Please!

BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu. I’m pretty sure I cried during the book, but I know for certain that I cried during the author’s note…? I should probably be ashamed to admit that but, as mentioned re. Skyhunter, literally any book she writes could become my new favourite book. *fangirling over*

BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY

Again, Again by E. Lockhart, another one of my auto-buy authors. This probably isn’t one of the happiest books I’ve ever read (in fact, it’s pretty not-happy-at-all for the most part) but it had sweet moments and it mostly just makes me happy that E. Lockhart came out with a new five-star book this year.

FAVOURITE BOOK-TO-MOVIE ADAPTATION YOU’VE SEEN THIS YEAR

Umm. I’m not sure if re-watching a movie should count, especially if I’ve seen the movie a million times, but I probably need to go with Love, Rosie for this. It’s so different from the book but the characters are completely spot on. Also, it’s adorable.

FAVOURITE REVIEW YOU’VE WRITTEN THIS YEAR

When I look back at my reviews, I’m almost never happy with them, so this is kind of tough! One that I kept pretty short and sweet was Not Your Idol vol. 1, so maybe that. Also, before this year, I never even considered reviewing a manga, so that was a fun thing to try.

MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU’VE BOUGHT OR RECEIVED THIS YEAR

I’ve got a couple of gorgeous new hardbacks this year, but the gold, Penguin Classics style ARC of Anna K is absolutely the prettiest book I got this year. I like the book’s final cover and I like the US ARCs, but when I opened up my parcel from ReadersFirst and saw this gold cover, I would not shut up about it.

BOOK YOU NEED TO READ BY THE END OF THIS YEAR

Six of Crows. And about a million others, but mostly Six. Of. Crows.

Hope you enjoyed my bookish meltdown! I’d love to hear what your favourite book of 2020 so far is, so definitely leave a comment and let me know, if you’d like to help me expand my already worryingly large TBR pile.

KPOP READATHON TBR

Hi! I’ve been on a slight involuntary hiatus recently, but it seems like I’m coming back with a bang.

Right now may be a terrible time for me to join a readathon (because, as you may or may not have noticed, I haven’t finished or reviewed a book in quite a long time), but when I saw that Noura at theperksofbeingnourablog.wordpress.com created a KPOP themed readathon, I knew it was something I had to join.

In case any kpop fans are interested, I’m obsessed with about a million groups (Super Junior, BtoB and SF9 are my ults), so it took a while to decide which group to use for my prompts. As may be obvious from the picture here, I’ve chosen Team Day6.

It took me a while to choose which books to read (and I’ve tried to pick some pretty short ones so I actually stand a chance) but I think I’ve finally got my TBR set!

Day and Night: Read a book during the night or day (pick 1 timing):

I work 9-5:30, so picking night for the timing of this was pretty straightforward. But the specific book I have chosen for this is The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant, because Netgalley… and also because it looks kind of amazing.

I’ve seen a few great reviews of this one so I’m really excited to see what it’s all about. Plus, it’s about a criminal underworld and it’s inspired by Les Mis so, honestly, it might be my most anticipated read of the month.

Zombie: Pick a book with zombies or other creatures:

I was really struggling to come up with a zombie book but my twitter mutuals came through (THANK YOU). I got a bunch of recommendations, including:

Dread Nation, Girl With All The Gifts, Wranglestone, Rot and Ruin, World War Z, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Walking Dead, The Enemy, Deadinburgh and A Ritual of Bone.

Then I was recommended Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard, which I actually already have a copy of, from a few years ago. So, I guess that’s fate. Zombie books aren’t normally my thing so I’m really excited to step out of my comfort zone with this one!

Tick Tock: Read a book within 10 hours:

For this one, because it publishes next month and is absolutely at the top of my TBR, I have chosen Seawife by Amity Gaige. It definitely seems short enough and exciting enough to get done in 10 hours (I hope!).

Also, as a slight side note, the cover is stunning. Completely unrelated but… important.

Love Me or Leave Me: Read a book of your choice:

This was actually the hardest one to choose, for some reason. But I let Netgalley pick for me in the end, and I’m going with Girl With Three Eyes by Priya Ardis!

I read My Boyfriend Merlin about five years ago and got completely obsessed so, although I forgot about it for a while, seeing this on Netgalley brought back all the feels. I’m so excited to see what this one’s all about.

1 to 10: Pick 10 books and ask someone to choose which one you read:

This was such a fun prompt. As a fun lockdown activity, I laid out ten books (very similar lengths, very different genres) in front of my mum and got her to choose for me.

In case you’re interested, the ten books were: Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella, Across the Universe by Beth Revis, Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams, Milkman by Anna Burns, Heartstream by Tom Pollock, The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown, The Survival Game by Nicky Singer, Baby Doll by Hollie Overton, A Life Discarded by Alexander Masters and Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant.

After a very lengthy period of deliberation, she chose Across the Universe.

Afraid: Book you’ve been afraid to pick up:

1984 by George Orwell. I have had ridiculously high expectations for this book since I first picked up a copy about ten years ago, and I’ve always been too scared to actually read it in case it disappoints. Here goes nothing 🙂

And that’s it. If you’re doing the readathon too, I’d love to hear what team you’re reading and which book you’re most excited about. Also, please let me know if you’ve read and loved any of the books I’ve picked; I’m going to need all the positive motivation I can get to get through six books in a month!

ARC REVIEW: AGAIN, AGAIN by E Lockhart

*We Were Liars is my favourite stand-alone of all-time and the fact that I get to review E Lockhart’s new book before it comes out is completely insane to me, so THANK YOU Hot Key Books for sending me an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review*

If you saw my most anticipated reads of 2020 post, you’ll know that this was one of the books I was most excited for this year. So I’m really excited that it lived up to my (maybe unfairly high) expectations.

I have never been so captivated by an author’s writing style as I am by E. Lockhart’s. ‘Again Again’ returns to the style of writing- somewhat poetic, metaphorical and at the same time, often very simplistic- that she uses in ‘We Were Liars,’ and it is a style that never fails to impress me.

This story is about Adelaide and a summer spent at Alabaster Prep, navigating through life in a variety of different ways and discovering who she truly is and what she is looking for from life. The different paths that her life takes in this time vary from minutely different to entirely life-altering as she finds herself falling in and out out love, grief and happiness in a variety of scenarios.

The content of this story is incredibly simple and realistic, to the point that it maybe shouldn’t have been as captivating as it was, but I found myself desperately turning the pages to keep going and find out what happened next. I cared about every alternative possibility as much as the first and found that the changes between universes were perfectly timed to keep me interested. I also found that the short chapters and ‘parts’ of this book kept it very fast-paced and easy to read.

In terms of the setting, I was thrilled when I realised that it’s the same school that appears in ‘The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.’ The various subtle references to this book reminded me that this is a setting that has been explored before and that I am now desperate to revisit. And the characters, though obviously entirely different to those in Lockhart’s other book, fitted into this setting very well.

This book is very intelligent in a lot of ways, but I think I was most impressed by the character development, which was certainly one of the most important parts of the story. Although I found the majority of the characters to be fascinating, Toby resonated very strongly with me. His voice is so clear, even in short message threads, and when he speaks about how he feels about his former self, it is raw and believable to the point that it is almost painful to read. Adelaide herself similarly speaks with raw honesty and it makes her one of the most accessible protagonists I’ve ever read. When Adelaide falls in love in this story, you can’t help but believe that it’s real. And when she realises her mistakes, you realise them too. I felt very much in tune with her, as though I was living her story, rather than just reading it.

There are so many words I could use to describe this book that I find it difficult to sum up. ‘Again Again’ is somehow both beautifully poetic and painfully realistic, with poignant, comedic and heart-breaking moments scattered throughout. I can tell that this is a book that I’ll be forcing everyone I know to read and, despite only finishing it an hour ago, I’m already considering picking it up and starting again.

RATING: 5/5

ARC REVIEW: THE RULES by Tracy Darnton

*Thank you to Stripes Publishing for this e-ARC*

I’m super excited to talk about this book because it’s the first of two five-star reviews that I’m posting this week! I’ve read so many amazing books recently and this is definitely one of the best.

‘The Rules’ is described as a a gripping thriller for fans of One of Us is Lying, We Were Liars and A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder so, after giving all three of those books 5 stars, I had really high expectations for this one. After reading the summary, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect in terms of how close this book would be to those and whether it would be completely in my comfort zone, but I knew that it had the potential to be a new favourite, and it absolutely didn’t disappoint. 

Amber is a young girl who has spent her teenage years making her way through care homes and foster homes, after running away from her somewhat delusional, prepping-for-the-apocalypse father. When she finds out that he has tracked her down, she makes the immediate decision to run away from the first place she has ever felt settled in order to self-preserve. What follows is a story of intelligence, planning and survival instinct, both on her part and on her father’s, as we get an insight into just how troubled he is and just how much that has scarred Amber.

I enjoyed every aspect of this book. I liked both Amber and Josh as characters and I loved that, despite their very different outlooks on life, they both found themselves at least a little dependent on one another throughout the story. There was no forced romance at all but it was beautiful to watch their relationship develop as they both figured out what they were doing on their journey and how they ended up together on the run.

As well as having strong characters, I found the story to be so compelling that I just couldn’t put the book down. The chapters are very short and abrupt, and I found it incredibly easy to keep going and get through this book without even realising it. The story is fast-paced and permanently exciting, with both the flashbacks and the present day constantly building up tension and setting the reader on edge. I knew throughout this entire book that it was building to a grand conclusion, and I wasn’t at all disappointed with the ending.

A combination of likeable, strong characters, an intense plot, and an enjoyable amount of twists and turns made this book one of the best YA thrillers I’ve read in years, and I will absolutely be grabbing every Tracy Darnton book I can get my hands on from now on.

RATING: 5/5

If you’d like to read this book, you can pre-order a copy here.

BOOK REVIEW: MEET ME AT MIDNIGHT by Jessica Pennington

*Thank you to TorTeen for the e-arc*

I only just realised that I wrote this review months ago and never posted it so… here you go.

‘Meet Me at Midnight’ is the story of Asher and Sidney, family friends who spend every summer together in neighbouring lake-houses. From the offset, we learn that they ‘hate’ each other, in a friendly sort of way, pranking each other at every opportunity and basically making each other’s lives miserable. The reader, along with the other characters, is perfectly aware that there is some kind of romantic interest underlying these pranks, but for the first part of the book, we simply watch them competing to outdo the other person’.

They’ve been doing this for years, but when they finally take the pranks a step too far in the summer before college, they decide to make a truce and work together against a whole new target. Of course, this truce then turns into a summer fling, and the two re-evaluate their friendship completely, facing a new set of challenges along the way.

I did enjoy this book, but I had a couple of problems with it. In terms of the characters, I really loved Asher’s character and how consistent he stayed throughout the book. It became obvious to me early on that he wasn’t as on-board with the hate-relationship between himself and Sidney and that he had other intentions all along. His humour was amusing, his motives were believable and some of his romantic gestures were really adorable. Sidney, on the other hand, wasn’t so likeable for me. I found her to be irritating and irrational, jumping to conclusions without giving others a chance to explain themselves and generally struggling to manoeuvre other people’s feelings. The redeeming factor for this is that multiple people in the novel, including Sidney herself, appear completely aware of how dislikable she is, and many times she is called out for her behaviour.

I found the story to be sweet and I did like seeing their relationship develop, but I also feel as though some moments were a little unnecessary. There are some parts of this book that I loved and raced through, but these were interspersed with moments that I feel the book could have done without. This wasn’t really an issue because I still happily made it through the entire novel, but I do think that the book was dragged out a little more than it could have been.

The writing itself was really impressive and I loved how well Jessica Pennington differentiated between Asher and Sidney’s voices. Her style of writing was extremely easy to read and I feel as though this is one of the reasons why the book is so quick to get through. I will definitely have a look at the author’s other work because I feel that her ideas and writing are very enjoyable, even though parts of this book specifically just weren’t for me.

Overall, despite the issues I had with this book, I loved the premise and think that this would be a good, easy summer read. Some of the romantic moments really warmed my heart and parts of this book did leave me laughing out loud so, if you’re looking for a sweet YA contemporary, you might really enjoy this.

RATING: 3/5

ARC REVIEW: PRIVATE LESSONS by Cynthia Salaysay

Thank you, Candlewick Press, for providing me with a free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

‘Private Lessons is the story of a seventeen-year-old girl who confuses idolisation with affection when she starts to attend lessons with a charismatic, male piano teacher, Paul Avon. She has always loved playing but things become exponentially more serious when she realises that she’s desperate for even a hint of Paul’s approval and her feelings begin to spiral out of hand.

This is a beautiful and heartbreaking story of a girl who becomes so obsessed with being loved that she is taken advantage of, and how she makes it through this. With a devastatingly, heartbreakingly vulnerable protagonist, this is a painful and necessary story in light of the #MeToo movement.

I think that this book is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever read. The writing style is easy and readable, jumping between harshly realistic whilst Claire is in the real world and beautifully poetic whilst she’s playing the piano, but this book contains a lot of difficult content that is not for the faint of heart. It’s the kind of thing that you don’t want to read but you know you have to, and I found myself crying more than once at what Claire was going through. A lot of what happens is stuff that, as someone who has gone through my teenage years already, was so believable for me and that really hit me hard. I have thankfully never been through anything at all like what Claire has in this novel, but I know how easy it is to be swept up in trying to impress people and how quickly you can lose yourself to please others, and that made this story especially poignant.

Claire makes mistakes in this book, and normally I’d call a character out on such problematic thoughts, actions and feelings, but I can’t bring myself to with her. The mistakes that she makes are not mistakes made by the author in writing the story, but very intentional reminders that Claire is only seventeen-years old and trying to fit in. She’s an incredibly vulnerable, innocent young girl who is desperate to be loved and found beautiful, and that’s something that both the reader and the other characters can tell about her. It’s painfully believable the way others take advantage of her and, in terms of emotional connection, she is probably the character I’ve cared about the most so far this year.

Many of the characters in this story are bad for Claire, at least at certain points, but all of them are completely believable. Every single character in this story is going through something that is affecting their emotional or mental health, and it’s so impressive to see such three-dimensional characters that aren’t completely over-exaggerated. It’s heartbreaking that Paul is so realistic, rather than a caricature villain, and that Claire’s friends so quickly swept her into lifestyles that she wasn’t comfortable with. Rather than getting annoyed at Claire for her mistakes, I wanted to protect her.

The final part of this book is, thankfully, a little easier to read. Seeing the character growth in Claire and her mother particularly, and the way they are able to leave others behind, is so important to tie this story together and Cynthia Salaysay handled this incredible well. I literally couldn’t put this book down until I finished the entire thing and I’m so glad that I powered through such an uncomfortable but hopeful tale of growth and recovery.

RATING: 4.5/5

If you’d like to buy a copy of this book, it publishes on May 12th and you can get it here.*

*I get a small commission if you use any of my links.

BOOK REVIEW: LOVEBOAT, TAIPEI by Abigail Hing Wen

I don’t know what’s happened in the past few days, but it actually seems like I’ve remembered how to read! Which is super exciting and is something I’m absolutely going to be taking advantage of. But instead of continuing to work my way through my Netgalley shelf (as I should be doing), I saw that Loveboat, Taipei was 99p on Kindle and could not resist picking it up. In less than 24 hours, I’ve gone on a whole emotional rollercoaster with this story. And… now I’m going to talk about it.

Loveboat, Taipei is the story of a girl named Ever Wong, who has always been the only Asian-American in her class and has lived a lifetime under her parents’ heavy expectations. When she decides to spend her final summer before college getting her passion for dancing out of her system, ready to follow in her father’s footsteps of going to med-school, her plans are rapidly derailed- by a trip to a summer school in Taipei.

What Ever sees initially as a punishment, however, turns rapidly into the trip of a lifetime and a chance to live without parental restrictions, breaking every Wong family rule and getting in years’ worth of teenage rebellion before college begins.

This book is so much like Anna and the French Kiss that I’m finding it difficult not to draw excessive comparisons. Studying abroad, a love interest in a long-term relationship, insta-friendships, first-time clubbing experiences, rich kids with political connections and very teenage betrayals appear in both, and I saw so much in common that I guessed multiple times at what would happen next.

That being said, I’m going to try not to compare the two any further.

So. I found that I had a complicated relationship with Ever throughout this book. It seems that teenage rebellion was the entire purpose of the majority of the story and I loved seeing her journey to discovering the difference between purposely going against her parents to deciding what she truly wanted. Her character growth was huge and it was amazing to see how she developed and, likewise, how other characters including Xavier and Sophie particularly grew as well. My main issue was with just how stupid some of her rebellious decisions were. The book acknowledges this, which I appreciate, so I don’t fault Abigail Hing Wen at all for adding these elements to the story, but multiple times I wanted to scream at Ever to stop and think before doing anything.

What I really did love about Ever, though, was how strong her voice is throughout the entire book. Even when her decisions are wrong, she knows exactly what she wants and goes for it. A few times, she’s led astray, but I really appreciated that her passion, particularly for dance, never faltered throughout the entire plot. Her ability to own up to her mistakes was also very impressive.

The love triangle in this book was entertaining in a frustrating kind of way. Both boys were equally viable as love interests (though I, I’m sure like anyone else who reads this book, found myself developing some clear favouritism) and I found myself rooting for different couples at different times. In the end, I think(?) I was happy with the result on that front, but I definitely enjoyed the romantic ups and downs as the story went on.

I liked this book. It isn’t perfect, but it turned out to be a very moving story of how a young girl realises her true self and re-evaluates her relationship with life and her family. It was a very easy book to get through in a day and, if you’re looking for something that is somehow both incredibly light and still poignant, it could be just what you’re looking for.

RATING: 4/5

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