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.


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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!)

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

[I found this review hidden in the pits of my drafts, how it managed to stay hidden is beyond me 😂]

Promised to each other by their parents, Dimple and Rishi finally meet at a programming course. Only, Dimple has no idea that she’s being set up while Rishi thinks he’s meeting his future wife.

I would say I was severely disappointed by When Dimple Met Rishi. I really wished the plot made sense. If it were just a little bit clearer, it would’ve improved this story so well. Dimple and Rishi both enter this programming course but the lack of them is doing what they came for is odd. The story is supposed to follow their romance, but I wished it was a bit more consistent in its background. Like there’s an app contest which later leads to a talent show which leads to even more confusion.

I think I’ve come to the decision that I liked these characters separately, but not together, they’re a damn mess that really doesn’t work well.

Dimple was a very irritating main lead. Just because the lines “Not like other girls” wasn’t used, doesn’t mean that wasn’t there. Dimple literally never fails to mention how different she is to other girls because she’s into STEM subjects and how she’s not like those art girls. I wished this book celebrated girls in STEM without throwing girls who don’t go into those subjects under the bus. Dimple is constantly putting down loads of the “mean girls” in this book, which is literally almost all the remaining girls in the book. Most of the time I really enjoyed her character, mainly because she’s ambitious and career-motivated, but the amount of girl hate indeed clashed for me, personally, about her character.

I feel bad for Rishi, he’s trying the most to be on his best behaviour and to get Dimple to fall in love with him. It was a bit creepy at first, and I didn’t enjoy the fact he ends up having to put up a lot with her behaviour. Especially in one scene, there’s an annoying invasion of Rishi’s privacy that’s immediately brushed away in the plot.

Overall, I would say When Dimple Met Rishi was a sweet read, despite my shortcomings about it. A fun, culturally diverse read but I wouldn’t really rush to recommend it.


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Review: Warcross

Review: Warcross

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Warcross has taken the world by storm. Millions log in every day, millions are made every day from it. And Emika Chen has hacked her way in. Now its creator, Hideo Tanaka, wants to hire her, a teenage hacker, to undercover its biggest security issue.

Warcross is seriously one of the best books I’ve read this year. I can’t believe how much I loved this book. It’s so thrilling and engaging that I was so shocked how well this book suited my reading taste. (Seriously, if anyone knows any other books like this, throw them my way.) I loved everything about this.

The world its set in is so annoying amazing that I’m mad we don’t, as humanity, have not reached the kind of technology there is in Warcross. Warcross is, in simple terms, a VR game where the player is literally immersed into their environment. The sky’s the limit basically in this game. And like we have Smash Bros tournaments, there are competitions where the best players are pitted against each other in the ultimate gaming tournament. It’s so brilliant to read how the game worked, which connected users worldwide and made VR practically actual reality. The workings of the game were so much fun!

I have to admit the plot twist in this book was very predictable. I picked it up quite early who it was that was hacking into the Warcross system, but I have to admit I was completely thrown off by the other half of the reveal as well. I’m just glad I read the book now when its sequel, Wildcard, is closer to being released.

Just from this one book alone, I now understand the hype around Marie Lu’s books. If my TBR list weren’t so jam-packed, I would’ve read everything else she has written in a heartbeat straight after reading Warcross. Her cast of characters here are so amazing and brilliant, and I quickly grew to love in like seconds. They’re all so different but work so well together. I can’t tell you how great they are. I think Hideo may be the only character that still hasn’t grown as me, especially as the love interest. His role out of that was so engrossing, and I absolutely loved him. I’m a picky romance reader even in a book I loved like this, it just didn’t get to me. Like the development between them was sweet but, again, not for me.

Overall, there were certain elements, such as game design, to its world that left questions and some moments of predictability but nonetheless, I enjoyed it a lot. Like damn, I’m more upset that this is the first Marie Lu book I’ve read. What have I been missing out?


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Review: Want

Review: Want

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

In a world divided by the rich you and the poor mei, advanced tech is needed to survive the polluted air that covers the city of Taipei. Angry at his city’s corruption which allows the rich to survive while the poorest are left at nature’s mercy, Jason Zhou along with his friends infiltrate the lives of the wealthy yous in order to destroy Jin Corp which manufactures the suits to survive.

Within the very first chapter, I was hooked. Pon has created a story that is fantastic. We’re introduced to the overcrowded smoggy city of Taipei and you’re in with Pon’s vivid imagery and writing. The wealth disparity isn’t so different from real life and this story tackles so many important topics. It is such a compelling read that will satisfy anyone looking for a thrilling and fast-paced read. And it’s cast of characters are so memorable and amazing. I don’t know how many times I can say how spectacular this was to read and experience.

I was so drawn to Zhou as the novel’s lead and his band of friends as they attempt to complete this ambitious mission. Each and every character is vital and the chemistry between them all is so good. They are such a diverse bunch of people and can’t wait to read more about them. The scenes of them just living their lives were really sweet and some of the best scenes in the book.

I did have an issue with the pacing, there were moments where it goes way too fast and then suddenly goes at a snail pace, especially in the middle of the book. And the romance between Jason and Daiyu deserved more time to develop. They’re very quickly pushed together that just needed more time to work better.

Overall, Want reads like a movie we all deserve to see on the big screen. And I loved it. A story about a group of friends infiltrating a corporation with hidden identities, spy actions and damn amazing group dynamics. A futuristic heist story that everyone needs to read.


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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!


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Frequently Used Words In Young Adult/Fantasy Titles

Frequently Used Words In Young Adult/Fantasy Titles

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature once hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, but has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl! Each week, a new topic is put into place and bloggers share their top ten (or your own amount) accordingly.

My frequently used word is “and bone”. There’s probably way more to add to this list but since I’m rushing this week’s post, I’ve stopped at six because these were the first ones that came to mind. University assignments are due so soon so I’ll be pretty infrequent in the upcoming weeks.

TTT_frequentlyusedwords_books

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh
Flesh and Bone by Jonathan Maberry