Review: American Panda

Review: American Panda

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

At seventeen, Mei is a freshman at MIT and on the road to complete her parent’s dreams for her: become a doctor, marry their preapproved suitor and continue their family line with children. Living in fear of being disowned like her older brother, Mei can’t seem to bring herself to tell her family her real dream lies with dance. Now she’s away from home and falling in love and learning the truth that could possibly shatter her future forever.

I’m not going to lie, I was surprised by how much I loved this book. I was genuinely thrown off by how much I ended up liking this. The narrative was so compelling as we watch Mei struggle with her overbearing parents and how cultural differences clash with what she wants to achieve – I really enjoyed the emphasis on the issue not being with cultural differences but how her parents use it to put their happiness over Mei’s. Even though Mei as a character and myself are worlds apart, I found her journey so relatable and it had me in tears at so many moments.

Honestly, Mei’s development was one of the best parts of this entire novel. We watch her try to struggle between being a good daughter while also wanting to follow her dreams and you get caught up very quickly in her emotions. She starts off as a sheltered kid who does her best to keep up with her parent’s expectation to slowly learning that it’s okay to not be the perfect image she’s expected to upkeep. And she slowly learns to get rid of the initial stereotypes she holds over other. Chao does an excellent job of portraying the drama between her and her family, which was so heartbreaking to read. Mei’s mother took a long time to grow on her, but you honestly develop a sense of appreciation for her, especially towards the end of the book and how the very same family issues and cultural values that affect Mei has had an impact on her.

The background characters all have my heart. And I loved how Mei’s personal development with all of them ended so happily. Especially with Darren and Nicolette.

Overall, Chao’s debut novel is a hit for me. It was such an emotional rollercoaster and a profoundly personal read that I recommend to anyone.


GOODREADS |BOOK DEPOSITORY | AUTHOR SITE

Content warning: ableist language, fat-antagonism, the death of a family member and mentions of suicide. (If you’ve read the book and felt like I’ve missed something out, please tell me!)

Advertisements

Review: Run, Riot

Review: Run, Riot

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2/5)

* I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

After Taran’s twin brother witnesses a murder, it suddenly becomes a giant game of cat and mouse in their tower block. Them vs the police. Them vs everyone else. Hari and her friends soon learn there’s something else happening in the estate, something that will uproot from everything they knew.

Run, Riot tackles some pretty important topics. Racism, police brutality, corruption and gentrification. It has the makings of being a very compelling book. It was fascinating to read this fast-paced story as these group of kids face these moments of injustice from the very people who are meant to protect them. One death leads to the breakdown of an entire community and exposes a trail of corruption that goes further than anyone expected. I really enjoy how the narrative played how, a minute by minute account of events, over a twenty-four-hour time lapse, with moments of flashbacks. I could definitely see this on TV.

I’m actually struggling to put into words what I didn’t like about this book. I just didn’t connect with the characters nor plot. It just felt bland, and many moments were just so dull to read. It’s not as adrenaline-fuelled you would think it would be. Which was a real shame because I actually enjoy its concept and plot, but I was actually really disappointed in its execution. The plot was gripping, its characters genuinely fascinating to read about but the whole book just didn’t work for me. Which really frustrated me because I was enjoying this and I wanted it to be better, but it wasn’t.

Overall, an interesting read about a group of teens standing up and speaking up for what they believe in. Personally, I think my dislike of this is just from my own personal reading experience/taste, but I still think it’s a book that a lot of people will enjoy, hopefully much more than I did.


GOODREADS | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY | AUTHOR SITE

Review: Something in Between

Review: Something in Between

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5/5)

Jasmine de los Santos is the perfect student. Working hard to please her parents, hoping to get a full college scholarship to her dream college. But the dream is shattered when she is rewarded an award she can’t accept. Her entire family is residing in the U.S. illegally after their visas expired years ago. Now Jasmine’s breaking out and falling in love with the charming son of a Republican congressman. Time is running out, and Jasmine needs to find a way to stay.

I think Something in Between is a fantastic book about identity and one of the many experiences of undocumented immigrants. A significant theme of Something in Between is how children of immigrants are stuck between two worlds, two cultures, and figuring out how to identify when they clash with each other. Jasmine struggles, and her story shows the exploration of cultural conflict and how she learns that neither have to conflict with the other and you can be proud of both.

I enjoyed the dynamics and interactions between Jasmine and her family mainly. There’s a lot of diversity in this book that was really relatable. I wasn’t a huge fan of the drama that occurred within Jasmine and her friends, but I appreciated how in the end they worked it all out and rather than separating, all of them work out their issues and it’s realistically resolved.

The romance between Jasmine and Royce was initially quite sweet and adorable. It starts off with mutual respect between both of them and they slowly learn more about each other. It was later sort of ruined by miscommunication issues. Most of their problems could’ve been solved in seconds if they had just spoken more clearly. The whole ‘Are we still dating? We’re still dating.’ Thing got pretty old really quick. I didn’t hate Jasmine as a lead, but her personality tended to be very dramatic, and I wished the story focused a bit more on her actual family rather than the typical YA drama. She’s quite headstrong, and I liked that. But her family were the stronger aspects of the book, and I wished it was showed more.

There were some aspects that I didn’t enjoy, and one of them was how the Republicans were portrayed a bit too nice. Royce’s father does some terrible things, but they do help Jasmine’s family at one point, but I feel like they were a bit too nice to them when in the book they’re seen dismissing and alienating immigrants in the book.

Overall, it’s quite a good read. This is a very personal story about immigrants and finding out where we belong in a country that doesn’t want you and how the world can be terrible to them. I would definitely recommend it.


GOODREADS | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY | AUTHOR SITE

Book Review: From Twinkle, With Love

Book Review: From Twinkle, With Love

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

* I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

Told through letters to her favourite female filmmakers, Twinkle Mehra navigates her journey as she is approached to help direct a movie for her school’s upcoming festival. Wallflower Twinkle grabs at the chance of getting to show off her skills while using it as an opportunity to get closer to her long-time crush, Neil Roy. But she finds herself falling for her producer, Neil’s twin brother Sahil. Suddenly, a mystery person called “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is dead set on it being Neil. Soon, everything spirals out of control but can Twinkle change the script in time?

Twinkle was such an adorable read. The characters are a bit younger than Menon’s debut characters, but you get the same feeling from this cast. Twinkle and Dimple share similar but different struggles when pursuing their passions so if you’re a fan of Menon’s first, you’ll definitely love this. There’s a lot to like in this book. The formatting was cute and worked well. The storyline with her family was one of the better parts of the book.

I enjoyed the dynamics of Twinkle and her friends. It’s more frenemy, but I liked how up and down the relationship went. It was a more realistic portrayal of teen groups in high schools. But I did feel like there was a lack of clarity as to why Maddie left Twinkle.

With everything that was good and enjoyable about this book, there was a lot that I didn’t enjoy. Everyone sort of becomes unbearable. Like all of them. Twinkle becomes really selfish and just belittles everyone around her and never really apologises for most of her behaviour even though she internally tells herself it wasn’t right to do that. And her stringing Sahil long when she begins to kind of date him even though she really just wants to date his popular twin brother, who literally doesn’t even know her. She uses him to try and shoe her way into the popular group, and her attitude towards everyone just didn’t make sense. She learns her lesson in the end, but that didn’t make it any better to read.

Overall, I’m glad I gave this book a chance since I wasn’t a huge of fan of When Dimple Met Rishi. I think I preferred Twinkle’s story over Dimple’s due to personal taste and how the plot developed and was wrapped up in the end. It was a fun, light read and great for the summer!


GOODREADS | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY | AUTHOR SITE

Book Review: Amazing Women

Book Review: Amazing Women

Rating: ★★★✰✰ (3/5)

* I received a physical copy of this book from the publisher. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

Amazing Women spotlights a unique collection of female figures with a focus on British women. It features a vast variety of women in different fields from the sciences to the arts, including the lives of many women.

The illustration of this book is adorable. Sarah Green has a style that I just love and which worked well with this book. And I liked how the book is divided which highlighted the different areas in which these women contributed to society, highlighting older and new voices.

I believe this book can be inspiring to girl and women from all backgrounds and shows the diversity of women that did amazing things. I would say this is quite a cute book with unbiased overviews of every woman and their achievements. I loved the adorable designs and illustrations. I understand its need to be unbiased but I most likely would’ve never picked this book up when I can clearly see women on here I don’t personally agree with supporting.


GOODREADS |AMAZON

 

Book Review: Skylarks

* I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

Skylarks is about the life of Joni after a wealthy company buys out her family estate, slowly forcing its working-class tenants to leave so that they can make more money. Joni slowly joins the grassroots campaign to reclaim their home. While working at her part-time job at the library, she meets Annabel, a girl who comes from an upper-class conservative background. They clash a lot in the beginning until they slowly find a middle ground with each other, while Joni struggles to keep her family together. It is quite a heartwarming story that touches on poverty, class divide, grassroots projects and inequality.

However, I didn’t really enjoy this as much as I thought I would. It was quite irritating to read, there were odd moments that felt jumpy, with moments that dragged onto long, and I just felt impatient reading this. The plot’s good, just not engaging enough. Joni and Annabel were cute though, I like that they bounced off each other and learnt a lot from each other.

There is also a scene were Joni is very ableist. She’s rightly upset that her father is not receiving the benefits he needs, but she points the finger to her next door neighbour and says that they get more even though she looked well. This was quite horrible to read and it isn’t challenged in the novel. Joni also accidentally outs Annabel to her father due to a misunderstanding and while Joni acknowledges her mistake, it’s quickly brushed off because her father is already aware and then, again, quickly forgotten about.

Overall, a novel about the conflict of wealth and social class while two girls fall in love. It was quite pleasing to read, but I did find it dull in some moments.


GOODREADS | WATERSTONES | AUTHOR

Trigger/Content Warnings: Classism, ableism. If you’ve read this and feel like I missed something out, tell me!