Book Review

Unconventional Abruptness

Gone WildGone Wild by Jodi Lundgren

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

*Thank you James Lorimer & Company for sending me an ARC of this book (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.*

This piece of literature is actually more like a short story than a novel. It’s less than 200 pages long, so it’s logically a quick read. I am normally fond of fast-paced stories because they are usually hard to put down. However, in the case of this “novel,” the latter description cannot be applied. Because of its length, many aspects of the plot were left unexplored, and the development of the characters was so abrupt, it was practically MAGIC. I was completely caught off-guard by the ending, but it was not in a positive way; I was utterly rendered confused and distraught.

Nevertheless, I don’t want my review to be completely pessimistic, so I shall try to look at the glass half full. If anything, Gone Wild features a heartwarming discourse on relevant issues like foster care, pregnancy/abortion, and parental estrangement. The protagonists, Seth and Brooke, suddenly have a mountain escapade, yearning for a “break” from their respective families whom they deem as abusive, controlling, or neglectful. Yes, it is typical for teens to entertain such feelings (which are sometimes delusional), but I was still moved by the circumstances which made these characters feel unloved. Believe me, their reasons were 100 percent, tug-at-your-heartstrings legit. Now, although the ending was indeed unsatisfactory, I’m quite happy that Seth and Brooke were at least able to attain a sense of closure and personal empowerment.

In the end, I would not recommend Gone Wild to readers who are searching for great samples of YA literature. As signified by my 2-star rating, it was just “okay,” and I don’t see myself remembering the story for a very long time. However, if you are currently in a reading slump, then I think this book might be perfect for you. I’m sure its unconventional abruptness would do the trick. 😉

Book Review

Hang-ups, Instalove, and Blended Families

The Summer Before ForeverThe Summer Before Forever by Melissa Chambers

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

*Thank you Entangled Publishing, LLC for sending me an ARC of this book (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.*

When my beloved mother discovered that I was reading this book, she immediately reprimanded me online, telling me that I should not be reading pulp romance. I couldn’t blame her for jumping to conclusions. After all, that cheesy cover says a lot. Now, although I hadn’t read the book yet during that time, I deigned to defend its reputation, determined as I was to give it a chance. I wanted to prove to my mother that not all YA contemporary novels have frivolous content.

With that in mind, I’m happy to say that this novel was cute, thought-provoking, and inspiring at best. It tackled important issues, such as broken families, sexual abuse, and learning disabilities. These are topics readers don’t normally encounter (simultaneously) in summery, feel-good literature, and I appreciated how these sensitive issues were explored in a very refreshing and optimistic approach. Furthermore, given my divergent upbringing as a “normal” boy in a conservative, tight-knit family, I was filled with sympathy for Chloe and Landon, who were significantly flawed because of their respective backgrounds and hang-ups. I am not a teenager anymore, but I was still capable of putting myself in their shoes. Overall, the majority of the plot was emotionally charged, and it surprisingly made my reading experience more meaningful, memorable, and vibrant.

Unfortunately, I am persuaded to give this novel merely three stars because of its major cliches or tropes. The moment I started reading, I already assumed that a forbidden romance was going to blossom between Chloe and Landon in spite of their imminent, familial connection. However, I was disturbed by how quickly their relationship developed; it was practically lust at first sight! These two teenagers had the hots for each other the very moment their gazes locked, and I was further annoyed by how they could not resist the temptation to objectify each other’s bodies.

Landon was the bonafide pervert of the two, occasionally alluding to the “movements” and “needs” of his genitals. To make things worse, he attributed his amorous behavior to his masculinity, as if to imply that all males were naturally horny. I nearly lost all my respect for him as a protagonist when he briefly considered sleeping with other girls just to help him get his mind off Chloe (at least for a little while). Chloe was of course the overrated virgin, an innocent girl who was weirdly ashamed of her single (NBSB) status. Despite her gradual character development, she also had a generally weak and dependent personality. How so? A male was the one who broke her, and it was also a male who helped her heal. To simply put it, this book reinforced quite a number of our gender stereotypes.

In conclusion, The Summer Before Forever is predominantly substantial in regards to its content. The issues it discussed were very relevant, especially in this time wherein people are often insensitive to the struggles of others. In spite of its shortcomings, this contemporary novel is still worthwhile. Just be careful to keep your Feminist sentiments in check.

Book Review

If Harry Potter and Nancy Drew had a Date…

The Nightmare Affair (The Arkwell Academy, #1)The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In my honest opinion, this underrated book is the love child of Harry Potter and Nancy Drew (or even Sherlock Holmes). Filled with the delights of magic, mystery, adventure and friendship, The Nightmare Affair has integrated the best of both worlds.

However, I will not be hasty and categorize it as fan fiction, for it has shown originality in its own special way. Otherwise, I bet our beloved Marissa Meyer wouldn’t have blurbed it. I dare you to contradict me, or her for that matter. Hahaha. For me, the most unique feature of this novel was its magic system, which was highly “parasitic” in nature. Furthermore, this might sound strange, but the political side of me was pleasantly surprised by the book’s subtle delineation of Republican and Democratic ideologies. After all, this is NOT supposed to be a dystopian story. #Overthinking

Sadly, it did take me more than a month to finish it, but this only happened because I had the nerve to read eight books alternately. Please trust me when I say that this book has blown my mind. Readers will surely have a brain workout trying to pinpoint the elusive killer. I had quite a number of suspects in mind, so I had a blast judging the diverse cast of characters. When I come to think of it, the only problem I encountered was the insta-love trope, but in the end, it actually turned out to be “justified.” (wink, wink)

In conclusion, if you decide to pick up this book, I salute you. I hope you would enjoy it as much as I did. I would love to be a student at Arkwell Academy!

Book Review

I Want Gelato. Now.

Love & GelatoLove & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was the first contemporary novel I’ve read this year, and I absolutely enjoyed it.

Although Love & Gelato was marketed as a love story, I found the romance between Lina and Ren to be nearly insignificant next to the novel’s overall premise: A girl desperately trying to cope with the sudden loss of her beloved (and frustratingly secretive) mother.

In its totality, this book earned a spot in my favorites shelf because it entertainingly delineated the importance of love, honesty, and perseverance. And if I must say so, I am all over stories set in Europe.

P.S. I had a brief correspondence with the author on Goodreads, and I was touched by her modesty and sincerity. I can hardly wait for her to release a new book!

Book Review

Potterhead Feels #1

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The first time I read this book was almost 10 years ago, so I desperately needed to reread it. I am glad I did so, for it has made me realize how talented J.K. Rowling is; her writing resonates in the hearts of both children and adults. As young as they are in this novel, Harry, Hermione, and Ron will always be one of the most brilliantly crafted characters I’ve encountered in my life as a bibliophile.

*The featured image was contributed by Dessa Mae Jacobe (@dessatopia)

Book Review

Snow in Summer

Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes, #1)Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Why in the world was this book in the bottom of my TBR??? I would’ve read it sooner had I known it would be this freakin’ good. I admit it was off to a very slow start because of the meticulous process of world building, but thank heavens it somehow evolved into this exhilarating ride of plot twists that kept me hanging on the edge of my seat. Honestly, there were moments when I was jadedly sure where the story was going. However, I assure you that these moments were soon followed by gasps of surprise and claps of amazement. I’m so glad I was peer pressured by BookTube to read this book.

Snow Like Ashes had quite a number of virtues worthy of discussion, but I was especially fond of its characters, Meira and Prince Theron in particular. Meira was basically a great heroine in the making who did all in her power to emancipate her kingdom, while Prince Theron was a charming bookworm/intellectual who refused to follow the crooked footsteps of his insufferable father. Both of these protagonists were admirable and relatable in their own unique ways.
Furthermore, I must say that Meira and Prince Theron are the perfect couple. Hahaha. I guess I was VERY biased because their relationship was so “Selection-like.” Seriously, they reminded me a lot of America and Prince Maxon (#Maxerica). I don’t want to spoil anyone, so all I can say is that Meira and Prince Theron’s interactions were so witty, innocent and delightful.

Overall, in spite of its dragging beginning, Snow Like Ashes was an excellent addition to the YA fantasy genre. It had a vividly detailed setting, a grin-worthy cast of characters, and more plot twists that I could ask for in a single novel. With that in mind, I definitely look forward to reading the next two books in the trilogy. 🙂