Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Book Review: Three Dark Crowns

Title: Three Dark Crowns
Author: Kendare Blake
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication year: 2016
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 398
Series: Book 1 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis: Three sisters must kill each other to gain the crown.

I kept going back and forth on writing a review for this book. I feel like I've fallen into a reading slump where I keep picking books that have a good premise, but end up not being that great. I really like the dark premise of Kendare Blake's book; three sisters who must eventually kill each other to gain the crown. This is clearly not a book about family love, but I thought it would be fun to read about what crazy lengths these sisters will go through to earn the crown. Sadly, I almost DNF'd this book pretty quickly as this book has a very slow burn. Nothing really happens for the first 75% of the book. Things slowly start to pick up towards the end and some questionable things are done, but it takes so long to get to anything good that it's hard to really get into the story. I also had a big problem with "romance." A lot of the romances in the story weren't really fleshed out and felt really fake. Especially the one between Mirabella and Joseph. I don't understand how they could get that intimate and fall in love after 5 minutes of knowing each other. I'm all for women empowerment and being sexually open, but their "love story" unfolded too fast and wasn't necessarily. Even though Maribella is the town favorite, that is really the only thing going on for her so it felt like the romance was just thrown in there to give her something for the reader to talk about (and it worked).
There are also a lot of characters in this story, which can be a good thing, but sometimes that means that not every character is flushed out. I was under the impression that this story was supposed to be about the three main sisters; Mirabella, Arsinoe, and Katherine but in the end I felt like I knew the most about Jules. She isn't even in the running for queen even though it's clear that she should be. With the emphasis on Jules' storyline it made it hard to really understand who to root for.
I will say I did like the underworkings of the kingdom. There were so many shady relationships and plans going on that I wasn't sure what was going to happen. I feel like in a lot of tales that are set in this time period have a lot of background noise in that there is always some council member or family member trying scheme and weasel their way through the story. It's very Game of Thrones in that regard.
If you like slower books about queens, I would recommend this.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians

Title: Crazy Rich Asians 
Author: Kevin Kwan
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication year: 2013
Format: Hardcover/ebook
Page Count: 416
Series: Book 1 in CRA series

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Synopsis: The fabulous Nick Young wants to take his ABC (American Born Chinese) girlfriend, Rachel Chu, home to meet his family. Little does Rachel know she is about to be thrust into the world of the rich and famous.

With the upcoming movie hitting theaters soon (I wrote this review before the movie came out), I wasn't sure how I'd feel about this book even though I'd been wanting to read it for awhile and luckily it got picked for book club. Honestly, there wasn't anything I didn't like about this book. It gave the reader a look inside the Asian upper class which I had no idea existed (clearly this shows my naivete about Asian culture). Crazy Rich Asians  also showed the effects of being an outsider in a world filled with money. The story line was at times predictable but it was still really fun. I'm usually not a fan of stories with different character chapters, but I was genuinely interested in all the different storylines and characters. In my opinion, this means that Kevin Kwan did a great job developing each character. Family was obviously a big theme in this book, and I loved how each family was different. It was refreshing to see an upper class that was not white, and no matter how snooty they were I appreciated finally getting a different perspective. 

If you haven't read the book yet, stop reading here as a spoiler lies ahead:

Also, I stand by the fact that I do not agree with what Astrid's husband, Michael did. Whether he felt like what he was doing was helping her, he should've been bold enough to stand up and be honest about how he was feeling. I believe the way he went about the whole situation only hurt Astrid more and that is what I have the problem with. Lying to your wife about an affair because you can't be honest about your feelings is a bitch move. I know Michael wanted to save face and make Astrid look good in the eyes of the family, but he still could've been honest. They could've told the family whatever they wanted, but the emotions that come with thinking your husband is cheating on you are the worst and I felt like it wasn't necessary for Astrid to have to go through that. 

It's obvious that the real MVP of the Astrid storyline is Charlie Wu. He loves Astrid so much that he would put aside his own feelings to see that she is happy in the end. 
Now let's talk about this movie that just hit theaters.

I heard someone say they thought the movie was better than the book, but I have to disagree. I think that if I would've seen the movie without reading the book I would've thought it was really great. I thought the movie was fun and light but I thought the book was even more fun and complex. Besides the fact that some characters were left out and some storylines were changed, the two biggest things that changed were the characterization of Rachel and Astrid standing up to Michael. I feel like the changes were made to fit the "me too" movement we're a part of right now. That is clearly not a bad thing, but it's just not how things played out in the book. The movie gave both Rachel and Astrid bigger balls and I'm still on the fence about how I feel about that. I love to see a strong woman standing up for herself, but I was happy with the way the storylines played out in the book because they left room for the characters to grow since there are two other books, and the movie didn't do that for me. Overall, the movie was fun and a big step in the right direction for Asian representation. And clearly Awkwafina stole the show bringing in a ton of laughable moments. Her character was so great that I didn't even mind that she is nothing like the Peik Lin in the book. I'm excited to see if they make a sequel. 

I'd 100% recommend the book and movie if you haven't seen it yet. If you're a person who can watch a movie before you read a book, I'd suggest going that route. Or if you can seperate the book from the film, then read the book first. 



Friday, August 10, 2018

Book Review: Call Me by Your Name

Title: Call Me by Your Name
Author: André Aciman
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Macmillan
Publication year: 2007
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 256

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Summary: The romance that unfolds between a young boy and his father's apprentice during a summer in Italy. 

To say André Aciman's writing is beautiful is an understatement. The main reason I wanted to read this book was because of the amazing movie that came out in 2017. Call Me By Your Name was my pick for Best Picture of that year, and my favorite movie of the year. The movie ruined me emotionally and the introduction of Timothée Chalamet was pure magic. With that said, I've been trying to do a better job at separating books from their film adaptations. In this case I think Luca's film is a great adaptation of Aciman's work. 

Luca's film really captures the same romantic Italian feel as the book and has direct quotes from Aciman's beautifully written word. I will say, I wasn't as emotionally invested in the book as I thought I would be and the one thing that really threw me off was how much inner dialogue we get from Elio in the book. At times, Elio kind of annoyed me as he became quite obsessive during some parts. At the same time, I do think the obsessive inner dialogue helps the reader understand the inner turmoil this young boy is going through while trying to figure out his sexuality and the attraction he has to Oliver. It's all beautifully written and feels very authentic. I found myself underlining numerous quotes throughout the book.

I would 100% recommend this book. You'll fall in love with Aciman's writing. After you finish the book, watch the movie and fall in love all over again.


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Book Review: The Disasters by M.K. England

Title: The Disasters
Author: M.K. England
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: December 18, 2018
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 368

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

SynopsisA band of misfits who have flunked out of their Space Academy get wrapped up in a shady conspiracy and must in turn save the world from being destroyed. 

I was lucky enough to be given a copy of this by Kid Lit Exchange. All opinions are my own.

I really wanted to love this book. I usually pick books based on their cover and this is one of the best covers I've seen in a while. I didn't know much about the premise of the book, but I knew it dealt with space and I'm always 100% on board when any story has to do with space/space travel. This book reminded me a lot of The Breakfast Club & Guardians of the Galaxy (A group of misfits who need to save the universe).

Likes: I thought some of the action scenes were really well done and I loved the inclusion of racially & sexually diverse characters.

Dislikes: Even though there was a mix of characters, there was not a lot of character development. Everything felt very "on the surface," and we didn't ever really get a deep dive or understanding  of this diverse cast.

Lastly, the ending was very anti-climactic. It was kind of like oh and everyone is just saved now, okay.

I really felt like this was a starter book with not a lot of character development and started to lose me a bit at the end. The book was fun, but not great.