Mini Book Reviews: Two Fluffy, Summer Romances—except not quite

Ahh, summer.

It’s the season for short, fluffy romances you can indulge in while being  b u r n t  a l i v e  by the sun. Ahh.

I haven’t read too many romances this summer, or this entire year for that matter. In fact, the two novels I’m about the review in this post are the only books I’ve read from the genre in the past few months. Maybe I’m growing old and bitter, or maybe it’s just the mood reader in me kicking in (may-haps both?).

I think what I like more than summer romances now though are books that are marketed as such, but actually place more emphasis on other plot-lines. That’s what these two stories have in common and why I enjoyed them. So, here are two fluffy, (sort-of) summer romance reviews:

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Book Review: Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier // two stars for fantasy and time travel

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Title: Ruby Red

Author: Kerstin Gier

Published: May 10, 2011

Pages: 324

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction

Amazon / Barnes & Nobles / Goodreads

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Ruby Red is the first book in the Edelstein series. It follows sixteen year-old Gwyneth who unexpectedly replaces her cousin Charlotte in a secret time travel society when it’s discovered that she has the female time traveling gene, not Charlotte. After being kept out of the loop of the society’s mysteries all her life, Gwyneth has to learn what the rules are of time traveling and her duties as a time traveler. She’s not alone in learning as she has Gideon, the obnoxious male equivalent of Gywenth from another family, to help her learn the ropes of time travel.

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Book Review: Wildcard by Marie Lu // an anticlimactic end

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Title: Wildcard

Author: Marie Lu

Published: September 18, 2018

Pages: 352

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Amazon / Barnes & Nobles / Goodreads

Goodreads Description: Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems–and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

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Let’s get right into it: this book was disappointing.

Wildcard was the much-anticipated, second book in the Warcross duology by Marie Lu. It bums me out that I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would because I was so blown away by the first book, Warcross. The technology, asian american representation, and eventual shocking plot twist in Warcross had me itching for Wildcard’s release. Needless to say, I had high expectations—and that’s my fault.

Honestly, I didn’t learn anything after reading Warcross though. Like, ᴅᴏɴ’ᴛ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ᴇxᴘᴇᴄᴛᴀᴛɪᴏɴs. (Specifically, don’t expect that a book is a standalone—but you can read more about that particular frustration in my book review for Warcross.)
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Mini Book Reviews: 3 Female-Authored, YA Contemporaries

In celebration of March being Women’s History Month, I aimed to exclusively read female-authored books for the thirty-one days.

With the exception of one book, I made good on my goal and ended up having my best reading month this year. It’s really not much of a feat considering how busy I was in January and February and the complete disregard of my TBR pile that ensued. But, I’ll accept anything remotely close to win—it keeps me motivated 😅.

If you read my Women’s History Month Read-a-thon, you’ll know that the majority of the novels I read last month were young adult (YA) contemporaries. It wasn’t on purpose. ɪ ᴅɪᴅ ʀᴇᴀᴅ ᴀ ʙᴏᴏᴋ ʙʏ ᴏᴘʀᴀʜ. I think it just played out that way because I’m a giant mood reader, so I peruse the blogosphere when picking out my next reads. That results in me repeatedly reading YA since I mostly follow YA-oriented book blogs.

Don’t get me wrong though, there’s nothing wrong with YA. In fact, I made this conclusion after my read-a-thon:

There are so many brilliant women contributing their powerful thoughts for a more competent, diverse, and tolerant society—and there’s no place where it’s more apparent than YA bookshelves.

Groundbreaking.

Anyways, shall we get on with the mini reviews?

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Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon // an okay book with Indian-American representation

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Title: When Dimple Met Rishi

Author: Sandhya Menon

Published: May 3, 2017

Pages: 380

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary

Amazon / Barnes & Nobles / Goodreads

Goodreads Description: Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

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Indian American Protagonists.

If I had to summarize in two words why I picked this book up, it’d be just that: Indian American Protagonists.

Being half Indian myself, this book immediately sparked my attention when it blew up in the blogosphere last year and people were celebrating it for being a refreshing young adult novel. Because I grew up in such a diverse community with many unique Indian Americans, I was personally keen to see how they would be portrayed in the story. On top of that, I hoped that I could learn something new about the Indian side of my blood—particularly arranged marriages. Maybe it’s my fault for placing so much on the book, but I didn’t love When Dimple Met Rishi

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Book Review: Warcross by Marie Lu // a solid YA, sci-fi book

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Title: Warcross

Author: Marie Lu

Published: September 12, 2017

Pages: 353

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Amazon / Barnes and Nobles / Goodreads

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I am so mad right now. I’ve ruined myself.

For some reason, I went into Warcross thinking that it’s a standalone, BUT IT’S NOT‼️ And now it has ended in a cliffhanger and I can’t binge-read the series because the second book doesn’t come out until September 😤.

🍃 Deep breaths, Belle.

Honestly, I brought this upon myself because I kept thinking to myself that the book seemed so predictable and would need a good plot twist to spice it up. Little did I know that I DID NOT WANT THIS PLOT TWIST.

Breathe in, breathe out. 🍃
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Anyways, let’s see what I thought about the book until the last twenty pages

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Book Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo // better than Six of Crows

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Title: Crooked Kingdom

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Published: September 27, 2016

Pages: 536

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Amazon / Barnes & Nobles / Goodreads

Goodreads Description: 

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

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Crooked Kingdom retained all of the elements that I loved in Six of Crows—strategic scheming, morally ambiguous characters, strained romances—and expanded on them. 

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Book Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli // a realistic narrative of awkward, first relationships

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Title: The Upside of Unrequited

Author: Becky Albertalli

Published: April 11, 2017

Pages: 336

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Amazon / Barnes & NoblesGoodreads

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I was never interested enough to pick up Becky Albertalli’s book, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, when it was front and center in every book store I visited two years ago.

When I was perusing the nominees for Best Young Adult Fiction in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2017, I came across yet another one of Alberatelli’s books and decided to give the author a chance. 

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Book Review: Geekerella by Ashley Poston // a homage to fandoms

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Title: Geekerella

Author: Ashley Poston

Published: April 4, 2017

Pages: 320

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Amazon / Barnes & NoblesGoodreads

Goodreads Description: 

Anything can happen once upon a con…

When geek girl Elle Wittimer sees a cosplay contest sponsored by the producers of Starfield, she has to enter. First prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s been scraping together tips from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her stepmother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all—not to mention a fangirl’s dream come true.

Teen actor Darien Freeman is less than thrilled about this year’s ExcelsiCon. He used to live for conventions, but now they’re nothing but jaw-aching photo sessions and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the diehard Starfield fandom has already dismissed him as just another heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, closet nerd Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

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I totally judged this book from its title. 

Although one of my semi-guilty pleasures is reading about geeky girls, Geekerella was not something I’d see in a book store and pick up. It just sounded so corny. I thought I would give it a chance anyways since it was nominated for Best Young Adult Fiction in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2017—and I was glad I did. 

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Book Series Review: The Reckoners by Brandon Sanderson // fantastically written, but not without its faults

Welcome to my first series review!

Writing this review was an interesting experience for me. For starters, it encompasses my thoughts and feelings for three different books instead of one. I also wrote it well after finishing all the books so my memory of them is kind of fuzzy. Usually, I jot notes while reading books I’m going to review, but I had no intention of making this post until I was almost finished with the third book.

Here’s to firsts!

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