Tag Archives: YA Contemporary

Text Me, K? :)

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
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emergency contactAnother incredible diverse read for the win!!! This book is why representation matters so much in literature, especially today. This was another 2018 release that I was so excited for, so went ahead and got it right away thanks to Amazon!!

In this story, we follow dual-perspectives between Penny and Sam who find themselves swapping numbers thanks to an unfortunately, awkward incident. As their story progresses, they continue their relationship via their phones leading to a deeply intimate relationship with very limited IRL interactions.

First off, I really appreciated the age range of the characters in this book. Penny is in her freshman year of college and Sam is just a couple of years older. We do not typically see a lot of YA contemporaries of characters at this age or in this phase of life, which is refreshing and fun to read. It’s a different take on a contemporary, allowing the topics explored to be a bit riskier and darker which they were and I loved it!!!

Like I said, this contemporary is not your average sunny coming-of-age story, it was grittier, hard-hitting, darker and raw which made the story feel that much more real. But what I appreciated about this book was that the gritty, raw details weren’t the main parts of the story, but that they were layered within the story just like they are in real life. We are not defined by the bad things, they are parts of our bigger story and that is how this story was written about both of our characters.

And last but not least, Penny is our lead Korean-American woman who is not only a refreshing lead character but is also a different representation of Korean/Asian-American women that we typically see in literature. As an own-voices novel, I loved seeing a different take on Penny’s character and the different ways in which Korean-American women can be seen in literature. I definitely saw myself more in Penny’s character than I ever have in books and so for that, I am incredibly grateful to Mary H.K. Choi.

All in all, this was a great read. It was fun, heart-warming and a definite journey for myself and all the characters involved. This was a great new contemporary and I cannot wait to see more books from Mary H.K. Choi!!

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“Believing Is A Kind Of Magic…”

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Panfive-star-rating-black-clip-art-hi

TW: Suicide and Depression

This book was beyond stunning. If I could just leave my review at that, I would. This 35604686book was beyond stunning.

In this book, we follow the events that happen after Leigh’s mother commits suicide. Leigh is not certain of a lot of things after the event, but she is sure of one thing and that one thing is that her mother became a bird once she died. Leigh is half-White and half-Asian, travels to Taiwan for the first time to visit the maternal grandparents that she didn’t know she had. She goes to follow the clues left behind by her mother and this leads Leigh down a path of not only self-discovery, but discovering more about her culture and her family.

This magical realism story uses colors in a way that is stunning and literally paints a picture of mental health, grief and family. I am so grateful to Emily X.R. Pan for giving us this stunning story that explores the intersection of the Asian/Asian-American identities and mental health. This intersection is definitely not something that is explored, particularly by Asian/Asian-American authors. As an Asian-American woman who has and still struggles with mental health illnesses, this was not only a breath of fresh air but I found this to be incredibly necessary and validating.

This book doesn’t shame Leigh’s mother or her story, and it doesn’t fully only evolve around her mother’s suicide. Her mother’s suicide is the core of the story, but shows us just how interconnected mental health is with not only our experiences, but with the experiences of those around us. This story honors Leigh’s mother and her experiences, and it melted my heart.

At the end of the story, there is a note from the author where she shares her own familial experience with suicide. This note is what really set off my emotions and left me a blubbering mess of tears. I didn’t realize how much I held my breath throughout this book because I didn’t realize how overwhelmed I felt with how seen this book made me feel. I’m a bit of a blubbering mess just thinking about it all, but this book is a very important book and I hope to see more stories around this specific intersection in how mental health and culture impact one another.

If you haven’t read this book yet, GO GET IT! This is definitely one of the most stunning books I’ve read this year and I cannot wait to see more from Emily X.R. Pan.

 

 

 

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How Serendipitous :) <3

Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet by Various Authors
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This anthology was beyond sweet!! 😀 When I first heard that this was coming out, I was absolutely head over heels! I loved the concept of this anthology as it is one of my favorite movie/book tropes. I love the concept of a “meet cute” and I am a sucker for 33503607 sweet, romantic stories.

As I have done with other short story compilations, I will give you mini breakdown of all the stories along with my ratings for each story. The rating above is the overall average rating which came to be about 3.6ish. Overall, I really liked this anthology!! This anthology was not only super sweet, but also incredibly diverse which just made my heart sing! I appreciated the diverse portrayal of love and characters. I also loved how different all of the stories were. As these were stories of how people who fall in love initially meet, they all definitely leave you hanging and the better stories definitely leave you wanting more.

With all that being said, I will now get into mini/spoilery reviews of each story!! 🙂

Continue reading

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Quick Takes: The Summer I Turned Pretty

The Summer I Turned Pretty (#1) by Jenny Han
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So…I LOVED Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy. Like adored them!! 😀 35380161They made me smile, cry and they were just oh so sweet! I’d heard great things about her Summer trilogy, I was going on a beachy vacation and so, I definitely thought that that this would be a great beachy read. As you can see from my rating, that definitely wasn’t the case. Le sigh…

Honestly I just think that this isn’t the book for me. There’s something about this book that just felt so juvenile, which I think is the target demographic anyways. I am not normally someone that strictly abides by target demographics of books, but this one definitely read very juvenile and definitely a story plot line that I am well past.

Belly is, probably, the worst and most annoying protagonist I think I’ve ever read from. I do realize that Belly is 16 (I am pretty sure) in this book, but she is just so petulant, immature and everything she does is for the boys in her life. She is a protagonist that feels substance-less and I was disappointed in that. Regardless of her age, I could see a lot of potential for her character to be strong, driven and I was really hoping for a sweet coming-of age story while set on the beach. Unfortunately, I got a whiny and entitled 16-year old. It wasn’t even the relationship with the boys that annoyed me, but it was her all around personality. Her relationship with her mother and just her overall entitled personality.

The only true redeeming character in this story was Susannah and her story line. It was heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time. I appreciated reading about her experience and I loved how the beach provided a literal escape for Susannah, which is always how I feel when I run to the ocean. There is a part of me that totally wishes that this book was all about Susannah rather than Belly.

Overall, I didn’t like this book. I am really sad to say that. This doesn’t take away my love for Jenny Han, but this book was definitely not for me and I will not finish the trilogy of books.

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Quick Take: Dear Martin

Dear Martin by Nic Stonefive-star-rating-black-clip-art-hi

If you can’t tell how much I loved this book by my star rating, then I will tell you that I 38346862read this in two days! 😀 I couldn’t stop reading because the story was so mesmerizing and heartbreaking. I absolutely loved it – this is an incredibly important read!! Everyone needs to absolutely read this book!!

This book follows Justyce, who is a young black man attending a predominantly white affluent preparatory high school. He is at the top of his class and Ivy League school bound. Suddenly at the beginning of the book, however, he is mistakenly arrested by a white cop solely because of his skin color. This leads Justyce to reflect on not only the incident, but also the greater injustice of police brutality against black men. To help his reflections, Justyce starts writing letters to Martin Luther King Jr. and really dives into his teachings in order to be “more like Martin”.

I not only have the words to describe how impactful this book was, but I also do not want to spoil the experience of anyone who also wants to experience this book. The format of this book was incredible and definitely added to the impact that the book had on me. Last year, I read The Hate U Give which was also an incredibly impactful read, but one of the main things that stood out about this book was that we followed the perspective of a young black man, which I think is a perspective that gets left out in books and the overall media.

In conclusion, READ THIS BOOK! Not only are we giving room for the stories of young black men and women, but it’s also supporting more authors who identify as people of color, particular women of color. READ THIS BOOK! 😀

 

 

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A New Kind of Love Story

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
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This was an absolutely lovely read! 🙂 I was so happy to receive this for Christmas from 28458598my future mother-in-law and I was so excited!! I’ve heard such great reviews about this book, so I was excited to dive in myself.

When Dimple Met Rishi is a YA contemporary story that follows our two protagonists, Dimple and Rishi. Dimple is Stanford bound to study computer science and we follow Dimples’ summer before Stanford as she attends a summer camp, Insomnia Con, for aspiring web developers. Once Dimple arrives to Insomnia Con, she unexpectedly meets Rishi, who is there because his parents have told him that they have set up a meeting for him with his future wife at the same summer camp. However, their first meeting was not quite what Rishi had hoped it was going to be. Needless to say, this is where this quirky, heartwarming, heartbreaking and fun love story begins!

This was such a fun and important read, especially today. I think what was so great about this book was not that it was the most different story in terms of plot, but it was the most different story in terms of representation. We’ve all read stories like this before, but never with these characters. These characters who are not only ordinary college-bound young people, but characters who also carry the weight of their cultural upbringing.

I appreciated how we saw both characters wrestle with their culture in such different and real ways. I also appreciated that the book was real in how young people of color are typically received by their white counterparts. It’s unfortunate and hurtful, but it is so true. I know I’ve had similar experiences, as a woman of color, growing up so this definitely tugged at my heartstrings. This story was real, raw, but also just so much fun which I really appreciated.

Overall, this was a great story and I think everyone should read it!! We need more stories out there like this and I cannot wait to read Sandhya Menons’ upcoming novel which is coming out this May!!! 😀

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Christina’s Favorites of 2017!!

2017

2017…oof, what a year. Let’s just leave it at that, kay? Now to focus back on books! Many books have been read by us as a collective this year. Between the three of us, we have read…105 books!!! Here we are to share with you some of our favorites from this past year!! These are not in any specific order for any of us, just as a heads up!

Christina 

  1. I’m going to cheat a little with my first book and go with the Six of Crows duology. These were the first two books that I read this past year and I was so glad that I finally got around to this duology!! This was a fantastic duology filled with a fast-paced plot, incredibly dynamic characters and a fascinatingly immersive world. I loved it!!
  2. My second pick is going to be none other than Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Another one of the first books that I’ve read this year and this is definitely the book that has had the most last impact. A debut author and I am hoping to definitely see more from Yaa Gyasi. This was a most beautiful multigenerational book following two Ghanian sisters. This book explored blackness in such a unique way through the most beautiful storytelling.
  3. My third book is in similar vein with my second book, and that is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas…another beautiful book written by a debut author!! This was a moving YA book inspired by the “Black Lives Matter” movement. This was a difficult book to read as it tells the BLM story from the perspective of a young black girl, which just makes it even more heartbreaking. This is such an important book and I believe that EVERYONE should read this book…and ASAP.
  4. My fourth pick came to me at quite the surprise when I read it earlier in the year. And that is Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. Now, Cassandra Clare’s books have been my longtime guilty pleasure reads, as they are slightly ridiculous and just pack full of YA tropes. However, her newest trilogy (The Dark Artifices) is beyond anything that I had expected to read from Cassandra Clare. It is evident that her writing and storytelling have become so much more sophisticated and I believe Cassandra Clare to be a YA author that believes in not sugar-coating books for a younger audience. She used this book as an opportunity to address some real world issues and I applaud her for doing so.
  5. My fifth and final pick for this list is going to be none other than Turtles All The Way Down by John Green. As someone with OCD, I have always appreciated John Green’s openness and his candor about his own experiences with OCD. It has always given me something to relate to and connect with in media, since I have not seen OCD represented either accurately or respectively. What this meant for this book was a most painful, heartbreaking and accurate portrayal of OCD. This was a difficult book for me to read, but I am so glad that it exists in the world and I am incredibly grateful to John Green for being continuously open and raising awareness on this issue.

I like to think that I had a pretty good reading year and I hope y’all did too!!! 🙂

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