Mini-review: Soft on Soft and Women of Resistance

Mini-review: Soft on Soft and Women of Resistance

41212987Soft on Soft by Em Ali

Rating: ★★★☆☆(3/5)

June Bana is a growing make up artist whose looks are gaining traction by the day on social media. But to June, the real her is a quiet homebody and lives a life less eventful than the pictures on her feed. Then she meets Selena Clarke, drop dead gorgeous model, who loves June for who she is.

A soft sweet tale of two women learning each other and falling in love. A rapid contemporary read with little to none conflict. This title is very fitting. Soft on Soft is precisely what you get. This story centres two women of colour falling in love. The writing is simple and easy to follow. Pop culture references abound!

Its uneventful plot makes a bit tricky to read since you can hardly tell what is going on at the moment. I don’t expect something tragic to happen to make it interesting, but something a little more eventful would’ve improved the pacing a lot.

Overall, there’s something to love in this. Em Ali has a bright future in of them. I know I’ll read more.

UPDATE: Purchase links for Soft on Soft are not currently available as the author has taken them offline for further edits. I will upload a longer review once it’s available. 

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Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism – Edited by Danielle Barnhart and Iris Mahan

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)
when a girl pronounces her own name
there is glorywhen a woman tells her own life story
she lives forever

A feminist poetry collection that discusses race, gender identity and sexuality. I really enjoyed the variety of poetry styles that each contributor used. There’s a variety in content and form. I am not sure each piece is beautiful and exciting. The collection encompasses the works of a diverse range of poets who I’ll definitely want to check out. I don’t read that much poetry, but this collection of works from such inspiring people was indeed a hidden gem. 

I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected by opinions of the book.


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Review: Crazy Rich Asians

Review: Crazy Rich Asians

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (2.5 going on 3/5)

Rachel Chu agrees to come to Singapore to celebrate her boyfriend’s best friend’s wedding. She expects a traditional wedding like any other. But what she doesn’t realise is that Nick comes from one of the wealthiest families in the world. And she has no idea how big the target on her back truly is.

Crazy Rich Asian was weirdly entertaining and strangely absurd. And I think that is the best I could say about this book. I wouldn’t call this the best book ever, but it was reasonably entertaining. The way these characters behave are so over the top. Reading this was like looking into a whole new and different world. It was fascinating to read. Kwan has a talent for writing interesting descriptions of this affluent society, its architecture, fashion, cuisine and goods. I read this frustrated at every single of these characters, but there is some humour within. It’s more outrageous than it is funny.

When it comes to the flaw of this book, I don’t know what else I can say that hasn’t already been said. (x, x – note that these articles are about its 2018 movie adaptation but nonetheless they can still be applied to the novel) I didn’t expect this book to the answer to all Asian representation and I don’t think it can be done in one book. But here it’s evident that Asian effectively means east Asian or ethnically Chinese. And there’s a whole lot of ugly in this book. That includes racial slurs towards Black people, Indian people and Romani. A ton of classism and loads of prejudice from Asians towards other Asian ethnicities.

Overall, there’s a lot that goes unchallenged, but the sheer outrageousness of this novel was probably why is it so well received. The plot is a rollercoaster ride, with one bad thing happening after another with this group of wealthy elites. I’m entirely sure if I want to continue the series yet.


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Content warning: TBA.

Review: How She Likes It

Review: How She Likes It

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

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

Isabel Alfonso is next in line to be CEO of her family-owned company. But she’s also risking her own business to take it. There are a hundred things that need to be done before the deal is sealed and Isabel is in dire need of an assistant. It’s not her fault the first person in the door happens to be the same man she had a one night stand with the very night before. Single dad Adam Sevilla is just going by, raising his daughter while also allowing her to reconnect with her distant mother. 

There’s a lot to this book that I really liked. Isabel is a cool and unapologetic career-focused woman who doesn’t want to risk falling in love because of how it will affect her career. There are mentions of the double standards women face when they’re in the place of a CEO versus a man in the same position. “They were expected to have it all, but just enough that their partners didn’t feel intimidated.” Despite being raised to those closest to her as the enemy, her best relations are with them. She’s very quick-thinking and witty. I would definitely read more of her story if we’re ever given a chance.

Adam is a pretty interesting love interest, a single dad who adores his daughter. He’s continuously facing belittling comments from his ex, who questions his ability to raise their daughter. He really tries to do well by his daughter and is a sickly romantic at heart – with a penchant to quote one too many Star Wars related things. What else do you expect from a man who names his daughter Leia?

Isabel and Adam are two very different people, but they work well together. And so does this story. It’s pacing was well, and it was a relatively fun and enjoyable read that’s body-posi and tackles working against cultural norms. It gets pretty steamy in some moments, not really my thing, but I understand other readers will definitely have a different experience.

I think #romanceclass is something I’ve seen floating around Twitter for ages and Carla mentions it in her acknowledgements, and I finally had the good sense to find out what it means. The good thing is I’ve got a new list of people to read from, bad news for my TBR but we won’t mention that. 


 

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Review: Circe

Review: Circe

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

Madeline Miller creates a new voice in her second novel which follows the life of Circe, daughter of Helios, a goddess born with a human voice. Mocked for her lack of power in a world of Gods, Circe accidentally uncovers a skill that sees her banished forever to the island of Aiaia. She is upset, outcasted forever and alone, Circe turns to take revenge on those who wish to exploit her by transforming any ship of men who enter her island into a herd of pigs. But as time goes by, Circe finds that she can’t escape the world forever.

Miller clearly has a talent in giving a voice to characters not usually heard. I really loved how she reinterpreted the role of Cire. While making nods to other parts of Greek Mythology, Circe is clearly a story of its own, unpeeling the layers of Circe that make her a more substantial person than we see in The Odyssey.

The story of Circe explores the use of power and how it can be easily abused and while Circe’s transmutation power play an essential part so does her transformation as a character as she goes through independence, love and motherhood and how, despite it all, she still had hope. Like in The Song of Achilles, other key figures from Greek mythology are mentioned and also take centre stage without overpowering Circe’s story, including the well-known arrival of Odysseus and how their lives are changed from then on.

This book is thrilling with extreme drama Circe, and despite the constant presence of well-known characters like Zeus and Athena, Circe stands strong and finds her real place in a world where she’s told she’s nothing.

Overall, Miller’s ability to re-present the classics never fails to amaze me. Seven years since TSOA was first published, four years since I had read it, and I can definitely say that Circe was definitely worth the wait.


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Review: The Sun Is Also a Star

Review: The Sun Is Also a Star

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

Natasha has 24 hours to save her family from being deported to Jamaica. Daniel has 12 hours to decide whether he really wants to follow through with his Korean parent’s life plan for him. Moments after moments leads to the two meeting on a crowded New York street and the moments after show how they go on to change each other’s lives.

TSIAAS is one of those books where I’m genuinely in the middle. Like I didn’t enjoy it, but I didn’t absolutely love it. I feel like there’s a bit of switch here for me. In Everything, Everything, I really enjoyed the beginning of the novel but found it’s ending was a bit disappointing but in TSIAAS, I found the beginning rather dull but it quickly picks up and finished quite well.

I’ll start off with the good. And there’s plenty of that in this book. It’s quite a touching read. I was more heavily invested in each character’s side story than their romance. Natasha and her rush to save her family and Daniel’s clash with his love for poetry and his parent’s approval. Natasha is logical while Daniel is a dreamer. It really is beautifully written. There are even inserts of other perspectives who intersect with the main lead, which would’ve been a distraction if I actually enjoyed the romance, but they enhanced the story, in my opinion, and added to the message of how everything impacts everything. Despite Natasha and Daniel being at odds with each other and their immigrant families, they find a connection which allows them to indeed be truthful to themselves.

The immigration aspect of this novel was what shined the most. It covers and explains how flawed the system that can be to those who are the least danger to it. Natasha’s whole life is being torn down because she’s forced to leave because of her father’s mistake.

What really put me off this book for so long was the romance. Of course, it was going to pull off an insta-love plotline when Natasha and Daniel only have twelve hours together. If you’re a reader that enjoys whirlwind and fast-paced romantic stories, then I have the book for you. But I just didn’t buy it. But I did appreciate the ending a lot, and I was actually really pleased with how it ended. Daniel, while a dreamer and sweetheart at his best, is literally quit obsessed with Natasha from the second he sees her. Their meeting and beginning scenes felt very off and borderline creepy.

Overall, there is clear praise for this book, and I can’t deny it of that. I just don’t think it was a strong enough book regarding its romance. But there’s a lot that I can’t deny that was great. TSIAAS discusses race in regards to the American Dream and the impact of parent-child relationships. The way Nicola Yoon jumps into different bystander’s voices without affecting the main plot brilliantly done and how we are all connected in some way or another.


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Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Years after making herself a household name, Evelyn Hugo is ready, to tell the truth about her rise to fame and what she’s done, and lost, to get there. But she’s shaking the journalism community by plucking unknown Monique Grant to write her story. But Monique is listening as Evelyn begins her tale in the cutthroat world that was Old Hollywood and the stories of her seven husbands along the way.

I am starstruck, honestly. This book isn’t my usual go-to read, but after hearing everyone talking about this, I knew I couldn’t miss this out. And I’m glad I didn’t. Seven Husbands indeed one of the best books I’ve read this year. I wasn’t expecting much because I hadn’t heard much about this book apart from “read it now”. It was a compelling read about race, sexuality, misogyny and how you shouldn’t use your short time on earth being someone you’re not.

Evelyn recalls her life to unknown journalist Monique Grant, starting from her roots: losing her mother and marrying a man (husband number one) to leave her the dead end city and into Hollywood to make her name with the stars. Evelyn is unapologetic and cunning. She learns to play the game and uses everything she can to prove herself. She’s her own saviour in a world that wants nothing more to do with her. I was so in love with her story. The story explores her Cuban heritage and bisexuality. And it is phenomenal. The writing and pacing are impeccable and had my heart racing with every page. This book really surprised me. Rarely do books steal my heart so quickly and within the first chapter.

Monique, in my opinion, was sorely underutilised. It’s not her fault that Evelyn’s story was so overpowering that it literally takes all your attention but a second read through is needed to appreciate her again. She’s an unknown journalist requested to write the biography of Hollywood’s greatest star. And she has no clue as to why she’s chosen. There are breaks between Evelyn’s chapters where we follow Monique as she processes what she learns from Evelyn and later we learn the bombshell in how she connects to the story.

Overall, this was an incredibly well-written story and an utterly brilliant novel. Honestly, if you’re in need of a new read, make sure to pick this one up.


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Content warning: the death of a loved one, mentions of suicide and miscarriage, unhealthy eating, abortion, domestic abuse, cheating, homophobia, biphobia, alcoholism. (If you’ve read this book and felt like I’ve missed something out, please, inform me.)