Review: How to Date a Superhero

Review: How to Date a Superhero

Rating: 2 out of 5.

*I received a copy from the publisher in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

Astrid has her plan for life all sorted out. Everything is planned to the T, each second allocated and never wasted, all for the end goal of getting into medical school. While endearing and loveable, her boyfriend Max manages to throw her entire life up in the air. He never keeps to her schedule and always disappears mid-date for unknown reasons. When a villain breaks into her room one night, the last thing she never expects is Max to be the one to save her as local superhero Kid Comet. With the truth now out, Astrid must come to terms with the fact that life might become much more demanding. And hopefully, her GPA doesn’t suffer.

What worked well for me with How to Date a Superhero was its concept. I enjoyed Fernandez’s debut and her take on the coming-of-age story within a college setting of a young girl learning her boyfriend is a superhero and has been for quite some time. We’ve always asked ourselves what happens to the regular person during the midst of a superhero takedown of a city. And for Astrid, it’s wondering if her classes will still be happening. It was funny and relatable as someone who also had a very stressed-out experience in university that began with a multitude of strikes and ended with the beginning of a global pandemic. There is minimal action as we follow mainly Astrid’s college life and her time in a programme designed for significant others of superheroes.

While Fernandez sets up a fascinating and unique story, I couldn’t help but feel like this entire story was lacking. In theory, the book is good, but its execution was rather lacklustre. It felt somewhat repetitive: Astrid goes to classes, something comes up (Max related or not), and she laments about the strain it will cause her plans. And this is repeated throughout the novel. There is a significant conflict within the story between Astrid and a classmate, but it wasn’t well incorporated into the story to the point when the climax happens; it feels deflated and unexciting because the build-up wasn’t there, except for a few throwaway lines that were painfully obvious it was meant to link back to the resolution. As part of Astrid’s nature to stick to her rules and timetable, her feelings for Max don’t come across well on the page. I’ll be honest; I felt more stressed on her behalf, wondering what the two saw in each other. There are sweet flashbacks, but again, it slows the story down because of their odd timing.

Astrid is the only character I liked because she was the only one who got any development. Her roommate is quirky but strategically gone for most of the novel, Max is sweet, but again, his thing is to be that goofy boyfriend hiding a lot from Astrid. There is minimal action as we follow mainly Astrid’s college life and her time in a programme designed for significant others of superheroes. Again, we are introduced to more characters who aren’t memorable at all.

Overall, another book where the execution doesn’t live up to the potential of its concept. A fun take on the life of a superhero from someone not so super. I did like that it was in a college setting (more books like this, please), but in the end, I wouldn’t recommend it.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

Long Time, No See

Long Time, No See

Hi, hi! 

It has been some time since I’ve sat down and written something for my blog. Last summer, I was sure I had revived my joy for writing, and I was really excited to come back to reviewing and making content for my blog. I’ve mentioned a few times before that since I graduated in 2020, and I’ve been looking for a full-time job. Since I was 17, I have worked mainly as a waitress as I went to college/university while also running this blog as a way to keep myself creative. Lockdown had a massive effect on me and my mental health as it caused many job interviews and internships to cease as companies tried to figure out COVID. I don’t blame them; 2020 was a tough time to figure out how to keep going. 

I had thought that with all my free time while job searching, I was sure to keep my blog going, but instead, I faced a huge mental roadblock. I felt like I couldn’t write reviews because it took away from the time I could be job-searching. I even found myself reading less because I was consumed with the idea that I couldn’t allow myself the pleasure of reading if I still didn’t have a job. In all, I just felt defeated. I write this as I am 24, turning 25 this March and looking back at my early twenties feeling like I’ve done nothing remarkable. 

Sorry for the gloomy post so far. I’m hoping from now on; it will be much more positive. People always say we shouldn’t have to wait for the new year to make a change, but I find it comforting and a lot easier on my brain to use the new year as a refresher and figure out what comes next. 

So, what is next? I don’t know, and I think I’m okay with that. I’ve slowly been returning to reading more and finally sorting through my neglected TBR and ARC list. I began reading webtoons during lockdown, which I have been a great way of easing me back into reading. I do have some old reviews just sitting around that I didn’t feel 100% on posting but looking back at them, the reviews were fine; I just wasn’t in the best head space to share them. I’m excited to feel happy again about making reviews and sharing them with the world, but that isn’t the only thing I’ve been doing. I shared a few pieces of artwork here last year, but I’ve recently returned to drawing, especially digital art, which has been a blessing in disguise. It has helped me a lot whenever I was stressed, giving me another way to have the creative output that blogging usually gave me. 

Continue reading “Long Time, No See”

Review: I’m Glad My Mom Died

Review: I’m Glad My Mom Died

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Having risen to fame in the hit Nickelodeon show iCarly, Jennette McCurdy recounts her childhood and experience growing up with an abusive and narcissistic parent. All her mother wanted was for Jennette to be a star, and from a young age, Jennette knew she wanted to make her mother happy. McCurdy guides us through her life with great wit and insight, her story is much more than the rumours on the internet, and she has given us an empowering journey of self-recovery. I almost have so much to say about this book and also no words for it at all

McCurdy recounts moments like her mother threatening her dad with a knife in front of her, showering her until she was 16, which included invasive exams to check her body for cancer lumps and leading her daughter to develop an eating disorder in order to keep her body looking young. (Looking young had meant more acting roles) McCurdy retells her story in the present tense, keeping to her age when she is recounting, so without interruption, you witness her go from a naive and hopeful child to a bitter young adult. McCurdy’s voice is dry and sharp, and the moments she chooses to show us are disconcerting. McCurdy’s mother had done a lot of harm to Jennette in her lifetime, but the most significant blow is the damage to her daughter’s body image. She is only 11 when she takes on a restrictive diet; alongside her mother, they weigh themselves almost every day, and if anyone spoke up about it, her mother would simply lash out and leave the room. Rewards for good behaviour (weight loss) would often be zero-calorie ice lollies. Readers would do well to research content warnings before choosing to read this, as the details about weight loss and her recovery were painful to read.McCurdy does not sugarcoat her past, nor does she glamorise her recovery. Every word is raw and honest. The title might be an odd choice for anyone unaware, but after you close the final page, you begin to understand her a little more, even if you can never understand that feeling yourself.

As headlines amplify the dark side of Nickelodeon and McCurdy’s complicated relationship with Ariana Grande, this memoir is so much more than that. Jennette said it best herself, “this book can’t be reduced to any sort of headline,” I’m Glad My Mom Died is a visceral and emotional account of Jennette’s life from childhood to her mid-twenties. Having grown up watching Jennette on iCarly, reading her memoir has given me even more respect for her. Finishing this book and knowing she’s on the road to recovery makes me incredibly proud and happy. Her journey was hard and long, but reading her story of survival will have any reader encaptivated by her voice.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

Review: All That’s Left Unsaid

Review: All That’s Left Unsaid

Rating: 3 out of 5.

*I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

Ky Trans returns to her hometown of Cabramatta in the wake of her younger brother’s death after he was brutally murdered inside a restaurant. Ky discovers that not only do the police have no idea what happened, but every witness in the building also claims they saw nothing. Determined to find out what had happened, Ky is forced to recount her childhood as her own investigation will have her return to the community of Cabramatta, a place so buried in her past that the truth might never be free. 

Ky’s story will resonate with many children of immigrants, families whose lives were uprooted and planted in a foreign nation and left to survive in a community that doesn’t want them. The real Cabramatta is home to many Vietnamese families, and Lien incorporates the history well into this tale of a young woman desperate to find the truth. Her parents can barely speak English, so navigating the system is already a hurdle that only she can help her family with. When she realises finding the truth will be hard as people begin to suspect her brother was involved with the local gangs. She is forced to investigate the roots of her communities and face the harsh realities that she left behind. Intergenerational trauma, racism, addiction and poverty are just some of the hardships that Cabramatta faces. And Ky has to return to the roots of her parents, her brother and her childhood friend, who she had lost connection with years ago. 

However, I did feel like there could’ve been a better distinction between the flashbacks of the past, as those scenes tend to blend into one. The mystery aspect of the story doesn’t hold up well, so in terms of suspense, I felt like it wasn’t strong enough to keep me on my toes. Nonetheless, Ky’s story is still heartbreaking and powerful. 

Overall, All That’s Left Unsaid is insightful and emotional. Lien has a strong writing style that compels me to look forward to future releases. A crafted story that brings forth a touching tale about community and survival while also a snapshot into the lives of the Vietnamese community in the 90s.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

Review: Love & Other Dramas

Review: Love & Other Dramas

Rating: 3 out of 5.

*I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

Love & Other Dramas follow the lives of three different women. Tania is newly divorced, her mother Helen is recently widowed, and her best friend, Priya, nearly lost her job and then her promotion to a newcomer. Tania struggles to move on from her husband, Helen finds it hard when faced with a new lover, and Priya can’t seem to get her mind off her lost promotion. As all three ladies begin to move on, a series of secrets from the past threaten to bring them back to their knees, and who knows if their relationship will survive?

Having found this by accident after perusing the Netgalley discover page, I am glad to have found this book. It was a fun and refreshing story that was quick to absorb and enjoy. Three distinct voices and intertwining tales about the relationship of these three women, not only with others but also with themselves. They are all dealing with their own issues, having to fight against expectations and learning how to trust in their own instinct. Tania is divorced and finds herself returning to her ex-husband as she struggles to return to her life before marriage. Her mother, Helen, comes to terms with the fact her husband was not the man everyone thought he was and finds difficulty in her new relationship. Priya should hate the women who snatched her promotion from under her, but she cannot help but be captivated by her. 

Love & Other Dramas is a fun and witty debut, a tale of women dealing with life in a realistic and healthy way. There’s something to love in their journeys, all coping with romantic, familial and platonic love. Collings explores their lives in thrilling detail, cultivating their stories and weaving together three distinct stories that still come together into one solid story about starting over and second chances that shouldn’t be missed.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

Review: The King is Dead

Review: The King is Dead

Rating: 3 out of 5.

*I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

When his father unexpectedly dies, James is suddenly thrown into the spotlight, days away from being the first Black heir to the throne. And the world is suddenly very keen on the eldest son as the papers begin to lash out at his ascension. As a prince, he has had his fair share of terrible tabloids, but when his secret boyfriend disappears, and suddenly everything he thought was private is splashed out on the front pages, can James find out who is betraying him, or will the weight of the crown be too heavy for him to bear?

The King is Dead is meant to be a mystery thriller, and I can’t help but feel disappointed at the lack of energy throughout the book. Although the opening scenes gripped my attention, beginning with the king’s death as James and his family come to terms with what it means for them. The instant action grips you immediately, but after that, it feels lacklustre. 

There are plenty of plot twists and turning points; although only one shocked me, the rest feels uneventful and almost predictable. I never see an issue with guessing the ending; the thrill of reading it is how the story gets there, and The King is Dead just takes you on an underwhelming ride of telling the reader everything that happens instead of showing it. A lot is going on in this as James is trying to find out who is leaking information; he is also dealing with the press, his boyfriend who has disappeared, and his rocky relationship with his twin brother. There is so much going on, but it felt like reading separate stories that haven’t fully been incorporated well into one account. The stakes were undoubtedly high, but the tension was not there, and all the plot points lacked development.

Although I have to say, I mainly did enjoy how Dean used his experience as a celebrity reporter as his portrayal of the British media was quite spot on. You can see the influence of the current Royal family on James and his own family as they face the brunt of the tabloid’s anti-Blackness while his (white) family members remain unscathed. The strength of this book came through in these moments as James came to terms with the relationship between public figures and the media. They claw at any information, even going as far as outing a seventeen-year-old child and attacking his mother, their queen, by the racist comparisons between her and the King’s former wife. It echoes the experience that Meghan Markle faced during her time in the Royal Family. Dean’s writing shines through in these moments, which is why I felt so disappointed at finding the rest of the story somewhat lacking in comparison. 

Overall, The King is Dead wasn’t necessarily a bad book. There is mystery and drama that will satisfy most readers. Dean had some great ideas for this story; with some expansion and rework, I could have seen myself enjoying this a lot more. Nonetheless, it’s still a quick, fun novel, but it wasn’t for me.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR