REVIEW: simon vs. the homo sapiens agenda; becky albertalli

review - simonvs9.5/10 ✩

genre: young adult, contemporary, LGBTQ, romance

series? no, standalone

published: on april 7, 2015 by balzer + bray

pages: 320

i read the: us hardcover

began: april 14, 2015 // finished: april 15, 2015

where can i buy this? here via the book depository!

goodreads: right here.

first sentence: “It’s a weirdly subtle conversation. I almost don’t notice I’m being blackmailed”


simon vs the homo sapiens agenda is a book everyone needs to read – and i mean everyone.

this is a book i know will stay with me forever (or at least for a long long time). if you don’t already know, this is a “gay” book. even if you feel uncomfortable or somewhat opposed to people of LGBTQ, i still believe you should read simon vs.

i’ve read other novels that are LGBTQ, but i’ve never read one that was as wholeheartedly and honest as simon vs. everything was so relatable. in other novels, it was clear and obvious the characters that were LGBTQ were sorta different: in the way they act, speak, dress, etc. etc. however in simon vs., that was most certainly not the case. after reading this novel, i’ve realized that people who are LGBTQ are just like everyone else. there really isn’t a difference between gays and straights, except the preference in gender; in the end, that’s all there is.

reading things from simon’s perspective, we could also see how the LGBTQ community is generally treated. it was beautiful to see people who were incredibly supportive, but also people who were just downright awful. i loved every bit of that. it was completely genuine and true. we saw everything: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

my favorite aspect of the novel was how casual simon and his friends spoke of being gay. they would often joke about it – but not in anyway i found insulting or condescending. people often make this a huge deal, which i suppose it is a big deal, but sometime it shouldn’t have to be a big deal. if you think about it, being gay/straight/etc is only a big deal because people make it a big deal. why should it really matter? it’s just a small part of who we/you are. i find it similar to a person’s race. for example, it’s not like you’re going to see someone and instantly judge them because of their race (if you do, then go away). the same should be said about a persons’ sexual orientation.

moving on from the deep and somewhat controversial stuff, let’s talk about the writing and plot.

simon was an extremely sarcastic and funny character, so i couldn’t help but smile and grin the entire time. no, seriously, i couldn’t read this book in public because i would (literally) laugh out loud and smile to myself. people were definitely giving me strange looks, but i have no regrets because i looooooove it so much! (eventually i resorted to happily reading in my room.)

the main reason why i enjoyed this book so much was because IT WAS SO CUTE. the interactions between simon and blue made me want to squeal; i couldn’t help but root for them until the very end. the relationships between everyone were truly genuine and lovely and just.. *content sigh*. his family and friends were great and everything was <3.


simon vs. the homo sapiens agenda was like a diary. because the writing seemed like this, there were parts i really enjoyed, but also parts i didn’t like. i loved how we could hear and see simon’s internal dialogue. i mean, he’s hilarious and very relatable. i got to connect with simon much more because i knew what he was thinking. but, there were parts in the beginning i was left confused. since simon already knows these characters, there’s no introduction. we meet everyone and it’s like an information dump and you’re kind of left stranded like, “what’s going on?” also, there are less descriptions. i don’t describe people in my head, so it makes sense for the writing to be this way. but, i found it hard to visualize characters, places, etc.

it was a quick read, which has it’s good and it’s bad. it’s a wonderful book to read in between huge series because it’s quite tiny, but because of that you’re left wanting more. the book concluded wonderfully, but since it’s so short i feel like i need just *holds fingers .00001 cm apart* that much more.

overall, i loved this book. it was honest; it was hilarious; it was adorable; it was so much more. becky albertalli created a true masterpiece from beginning to end. with a easygoing prose, the story was filled with love, finding yourself, and truth for the LGBTQ community. i’ve come to realize that many people are simply ignorant to the way LGBTQ people are it may not be their intention to be condescending or offensive; they’re simply oblivious to it all. i would recommend this book to… um, everyone. *whispers* go read it.


**on a side note: i saw this beautiful artwork by risa rodil and i had to share it with you. it was one of my favorite quotes from the novel! she made it for spark notes’s review on the novel. you can find her original post by clicking the image.

– alexandra

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REVIEW: endgame: the calling; by james frey

endgame cover

3.6/10 ✩

genre: young adult, dystopian, science fiction

series? yes, first book

published: on october 7th, 2014 by harpercollins

pages: 496

i read the: ebook

source: netgalley

began: march 27th, 2015 // finished: april 5th, 2015

where can i buy this? here via the book depository!

goodreads: right here.

first sentence: “much of this book is fiction, but much of the information in it is not.”

reading this book was slow and slightly painful. it wasn’t the worst book i’ve ever read, but it most certainly wasn’t the best.

i hate to compare novels with other novels, but i couldn’t help but think of it like the hunger games. the plot is something along the lines of: twelve teenage representatives fight to the death in an epic end-of-the-world type of games. the circumstances are different, but the main gist of things are the similar.

the story is told from an omniscient (kinda) third-person pov. at the start of every chapter, it’ll tell you who’s pov you’ll be viewing from. it would be weird because there would be some chapters where you would feel omniscient, but others it would feel like third-person. it was awfully confusing to me because it would seem like the story was more focused on the plot, and not a certain character. however, in the end it still seemed focused on a character.. sorta. um… what?


i liked how the characters were diverse and distinct. each player was from a “line” in history, so they were all from different races and places. (rhyming~) it made me curious about history and how our civilizations were built. we travel the globe, stopping at places that aren’t popular in books, which i enjoyed.

however, i couldn’t connect with any of the characters. the players of the game were heartless, sadistic, irrational, and sometimes annoying. it wasn’t until the last two pages that there was some emotion shown through. before that, i was convinced the feelings were fleeting, or they were trying to use each other one way or another. there was also a love triangle going on.. *groan* as i mentioned earlier, it would feel like the story was focused on the plot, but randomly throughout the novel, there would an implying love triangle thrown in. the relationships were artificial and forced; i couldn’t sense any chemistry between any of the characters. i think it would’ve been better if the romance was gone altogether. it was there, but not there. 

my favorite part of the novel was the concept. although it was similar to the hunger games, the differences were clear and made it unique. there would be clues and other hints dropped throughout the novel: certain capital letters, spaces between words, symbols and photos here and there. it was interesting because it would feel like you were solving a mystery. i was hoping it would all be explained at the end, but it turns out you were supposed to figure it out yourself.

i liked how the author/publisher incorporated the story with real-life, as if you were playing the games as well. the entire book was a game, with the not-so-random symbols and letters. there’s even a website and like, ten pages of terms and conditions. the prize is $500,000, but i’m still not entirely sure if this is a fraud. buuuut i saw the endgame display the caesar’s palace hotel in las vegas and it was very cool! it all seems really legit.

overall, i did not enjoy this book. i thought it was quite interesting at first, but it eventually got really slow and it wasn’t enough to keep me going for it. the characters were unstable; the relationships were dry. i was confused on what was going on, and i didn’t particularly like the writing style. i’m curious to know what happens next, but i don’t think i’ll actually pick up the next book.


(background photo of the header is courtesy of epic reads, design by yours truly!)



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REVIEW + DISCUSSION: the well of ascension; brandon sanderson


9.5/10 ✩

genre: fantasy, fiction

series? yes, second book

published: on august 21st, 2007 by tor books

pages: 784

i read the: us paperback

began: march 17th, 2015 // finished: march 24th, 2015

where can i buy this? here via the book depository!

goodreads: right here.

first sentence: “ash fell from the sky.”

favorite quote:

“a man was not defined by his flaws, but by how he overcame them.”

– zane, pg. 212

i had fairly high expectations of this book, considering the mistborn was so good. so it means a lot when i say, it surpassed my expectations. i don’t even know where to begin.

brandon sanderson has a remarkable way of structuring the storyline. there are so many layers to the story. the plot continuously surprised me; the twists and turns left me gawking, but thinking back, there were many clues and hints that i never caught on. just when things start getting calm, he slaps you across the face with another twist; just when you start suspecting someone, he proves everything wrong and your mind explodes. reading his writing is truly an adventure.

excited agnes

my thoughts, basically

the only so-called problem i found was that it was still long – even longer than mistborn. i said this in the other review, but don’t let the size scare you. if you were able to finish the first book, you’ll be able to finish this one. it took me over two weeks to finish mistborn, but nearly half that time to complete the well of ascension (and twoa is a hundred pages longer!). i was really really really engaged; after about 10% in, i was hooked. it’s just picking it up that’s the hardest part.

this book was much more engaging and emotional than the first. i connected with the characters more, and the world was more familiar. you’ll see things from different pov’s, instead of mainly vin. there will also be a few new characters! a new problem arises and you begin to question everything. overall, this was super action packed and i was captured by everything – the plot, the relationships, the characters, feelingsssss.

in a nutshell:


if you haven’t read mistborn or the well of ascension, PLEASE LEAVE. i will be discussing the details and it will contain many SPOILERS. i really don’t want to spoil you because i believe this book is really worth reading!

Continue reading

REVIEW: mistborn; brandon sanderon


9.3/10 ✩

genre: fantasy, fiction

series? yes, first book

published: on july 17th, 2006 by tor books

pages: 659

i read the: us paperback

began: february 16th, 2015 // finished: march 7th, 2015

where can i buy this? here via the book depository!

goodreads: right here.

first sentence: “ash fell from the sky.”

favorite quote:

“our belief is often strongest when it should be weakest. that is the nature of hope.”

– sazed, pg. 510


reading mistborn was like riding a roller-coaster when you signed up for the merry-go-round.

before starting this book, i was iffy about a few things: 1) this book is so big; 2) THIS BOOK IS SO BIG. after too many good reviews, i decided to give it a try. i’m eternally grateful for the moment i picked it up. mistborn surpassed my expectations and blew my mind. it deserves all the hype.

the story is told in third-person, mainly following a girl named vin who is a “street urchin,” and occasionally following kelsier, a skilled mistborn. these people have abilities to burn specific types of metals for powers. it’s hard to explain, but SO COOL. the world is set in what seems to be the far future (the sun is red?!), and it’s under the control of an immortal tyrant. that’s all you really need to know of the story. most fantasies are hard to grasp, but brandon sanderson made everything east to visualize and smooth. the world building was tremendously executed.

the writing was so good. so so so so good. reading sanderson’s sentences were like watching a dance unfold. it made words more than just combinations of letters; words became works of art. everything had a hidden meaning. you knew all the words were deliberately chosen and thoughtfully placed. the metaphors and quotes hidden in paragraphs made my want to gasp and cry. speaking of tears, i did cry while reading this book. but i also laughed. i was frustrated too. it brought out all my emotions. it was so beautifully put together. (i also liked how the little paragraphs were incorporated into the story! these little things in his writing make all the difference.)

although the writing was good, it wasn’t very demanding – meaning i wasn’t eager to finish the book in one sitting. it was a slow read. i didn’t want to finish it.. that sort of just happened. it was only after about four hundred pages when i became really engaged with the story. when that did happen though.. PLOT PLOT PLOT TWISTS.

the characters were authentic. everyone had their own distinct qualities and everyone developed. you grew connected to the entire crew and understood their sorrow and joy. but the thing is, it’s so unexpected. when we’re first introduced to them, i thought they were mediocre and mysterious. but as we slowly got to know each individual person – their small habits, powers, and personality – they really grow on you. *happy tears* their relationships were also incredibly smooth and natural. they fit together perfectly, but they were also flawlessly flawed as individuals. it was acknowledged that they were not invincible and they each had weaknesses.

the most difficult part of the book is the size. i’m not very familiar with reading books with nearly 600+ pages, and it can be very daunting. don’t let the size scare you! it might take a while to finish it, but i promise it will be worth it.

conclusion, my thoughts in a gif:


have you read this masterpiece? let me know your thoughts!



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REVIEW: red queen; victoria aveyard


4.4/10 ☆

genre: young adult, fantasy, dystopian

series or standalone? series

published: on february 10th, 2015 by harperteen

pages: 383

i read the: us hardcover

began: march 11, 2015 // finished: march 12, 2015

where can i buy this? here via the book depository!

goodreads summary: right here.

first sentence: “i hate first friday.”


reading red queen was a frustrating process; i was super interested in the plot, but everything else made me cringe.

the story is like any other dystopian: a poor girl is somehow different and special compared to everyone else. the king and queen notice her – and want her dead. there’s a rebellion going on. and don’t forget the confused love-triangle feelings! what caught my attention was the premise; a world split by blood: silver and red. people with red blood are ordinary peasants who live in the towns. those with silver blood have special powers. our main character, mare, is a red.

i wanted to love this book, i really did! my annoyance started off as just that – an annoyance, but it continued to grow as i read on. i was hoping that if i continued to read it, i would like it better, but it just went on and on and on. the situations was too predictable and stereotypical: our main protagonist is living a dull, ordinary life, then a bunch of things get worse for her. suddenly, she’s the symbol of a rebellion. sound familiar? (psst.. the hunger games) add in a prince trying to find a bride (echm.. the selection?) and a confusing love interest (um.. very misleading) mix it all together and you got red queen! yes, the story is super interesting (which is why and also how i managed to finish it in one day), but it’s predictable. i would be reading a chapter and think, “why am i getting a sense of deja vu? has this happened before?” buuuuut, i’ll admit the plot twist at the end is extremely shocking. (shocking to the point where it’s unbelievable. as in, this-doesn’t-make-sense-no-way-ohmygod) but let’s be honest, besides the interesting storyline and plot twist, i didn’t find this book enjoyable.

omg backing away

that plot twist got me like

i’ve rolled my eyes too many times while reading red queen. it’s gotten to the point where my eyes should’ve rolled out of their sockets. it seemed like mare would constantly repeat the phrase, “i’m different.” yes, we know you’re different. not only have you shown us, but you’ve repeated the phrase six hundred times. i wanted to slap her across the face. however, there would be moments of clarity. it would feel as if the character actually had feelings: she was sassy, witty, and thorough. but then, mare would go back to being her annoying self and the alter-ego would *poof* disappear. she is (usually) indecisive and overdramatic – the typical ya “heroine.” i found it hard to connect with her thoughts – on second thought, i found it hard to connect with any of the characters. the closest it came to was, “oh, that’s nice” or, “um that’s unfortunate.” the main male character would either be a complete asshole or extremely compassionate. okay?? i couldn’t see any of the characters; they were murky and inconsistent. 

the love triangle, square, hexagon thing is confusing to no end. it starts off with one guy, then another appears and the first guy is disregarded, then another guy appears and i don’t know what to think. if you want to be friends, then just be friendly. if you want something more, then make a move. she was teetering on the edge of just-friends and love-of-my-life for all three guys. please, make up your mind! it seemed like the author wanted to simultaneously make the romance a small and big part of the story.

overall, this book was irritating beyond my comprehension. the storyline had the potential to be so much better. i was expecting it to be so much better (which i clearly should not have). i will probably be reading the next book (ugh, more mare) simply because the cliffhanger was quite good and i’m giving it a second chance. not fun to read, but it was so interesting.. UGH. do you understand my struggles???

how did you feel about this book? let me know in the comments!



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REVIEW: the winner’s crime; marie rutkoski


8.9/10 ☆

genre: young adult, fantasy, romance

series or standalone? series. trilogy to be specific; second book

published: on march 3rd, 2015 by farrar straus giroux

pages: 416

i read the: advanced reader’s copy (arc), reread in the us hardcover

began: january 26, 2015 // finished: january 28, 2015

where can i buy this? here via the book depository!

goodreads summary: right here.

first sentence: “she cut herself opening the envelope.”

this is the second book of the trilogy. if you haven’t read the first book, please redirect to my review on the winner’s curse here. i would not advise reading the rest of this review if you have not read the first book. it will contain SPOILERS on the winner’s curse!

okay, so i’m assuming if you’re still here, you’ve read the winner’s curse but not the winner’s crime. the first and most asked question is almost always: did you enjoy it more than the first? quite honestly, no. it was good, but i still liked the winner’s curse better. they were different, but it felt like you didn’t know what was really going on (conclusion: all the second books of dystopian trilogies follow this pattern. see: insurgent, catching fire, prodigy, etc.). but here’s the main reason for my disliking:

kestrel and arin became unbearable. meaning: they would try to protect each other, claiming they know what’s best, resulting in lying and betrayal. *cough cough june in prodigy, ruby in never fade, tris in insurgent, katniss in catching fire…* the main characters in the second book of dystopian trilogies are almost always like this, too. i don’t know why i expected different. it was frustrating to no end. you should’ve listen to me, kestrel and arin. look at your regrets. i couldn’t stand it because a lot of their problems were just misunderstandings. one character would jump to conclusions, and the other would say, “it’s for the best.” please, stOP. why are you doing this to my feelings?!


everything else, was more than the first book. not necessarily better, but more: more intense, more emotional, more shocking, more action, just more. you really see the conflicts grow and you begin to think, “oh no. there’s no way this is going to work out. i’m not going to have my happy ending.” but, kestrel and arin’s feelings grow stronger as well, so they have to have a happy ending.. right? there are more plot twists, betrayals, and the cliffhanger is just plain cruel. marie rutkoski, i’d like the next book PRETTY PLEASE WITH CHERRIES ON TOP.

the story is now told from both arin and kestrel. in the winner’s curse, there are only small snippets from arin. you see his betrayal coming before kestrel knows what’s happening. now, we hear from him nearly every other chapter. we get to know him more; there are flashbacks to moments in the first book and you see his perspective of things. before he was mysterious and hard to read, but now we see who he truly is.

although the characters change, they are still themselves. sometimes when characters develop, authors would change them into a completely different person. that didn’t happen here. kestrel continue to impress me with her brains and goodness; arin continued to impress me with his strength and fiery passion. it felt as if everyone was alive and living. you wouldn’t be able to guess what’s next, but it was never out of context.

the mood of the book was sad, which is another reason why it wasn’t as enjoyable. don’t get me wrong; i did love this book. but i grew so attached to the characters that since they were sad, i became sad. i felt the character’s struggles and depression; i felt their sorrow and guilt. there were happy moments but the overall mood was negative, which is another big reason as to why i liked the first book better. (claps to marie rutkoski’s writing! making me feel all the things, yet again.)

the writing was so beautiful. i fell in love with it in the first book, but this one was even better. there would be pages and pages of scenes and moments and i would tear up because it’s so beautiful. there isn’t another adjective for it. usually when we hear from two povs, they have no relation to each other. it goes like: ___ did this, ___ did that. arin and kestrel’s chapters intertwine. they could be across the world or in the same room, and their thoughts are together; they are completely in sync.

its so beautiful


you’ve read the winner’s curse, so what are you waiting for? buy/read this book right now. it is definitely worth the read and i cannot wait for the next installment! (if you finished, let me know your thoughts in the comments!)



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REVIEW: the winner’s curse; marie rutkoski


9.2/10 ☆

genre: young adult, fantasy, romance

series or standalone? series. trilogy to be specific; first book

published: on march 4th, 2014 by farrar straus giroux

pages: 355

i read the: us hardcover

began: january 24, 2015 // finished: january 25, 2015

where can i buy this? here via the book depository!

goodreads summary: right here.

favorite quote:

“isn’t that what stories do, make real things fake, and fake things real?”

– kestrel, page 6

first sentence: “she shouldn’t have been tempted.”



first, let’s talk about this gorgeous cover. i’ve tried taking a million pictures of it, from all different angles and it still doesn’t do the real thing justice. if you’re deciding between ebook or physical copy, definitely buy the physical copy. and once you pick it up to read it, you will thank me.

i don’t even know how to compile my thoughts on this book. the more i think about it, the better it gets. i’ll try my best to summarize the main gist of things:

in a world filled with power-hungry empires, salves, and war, kestrel is the daughter of one of the high generals; she lives a good life, in a large house filled with maids and yes, slaves. one peculiar day, she’s wandering the town with her good friend and they come upon an auctioning for slaves. normally she would just walk away, but for some reason she purchases this slave. from that moment on, things begin to change. – that’s how the story starts, and i don’t want to share any more because i feel like the resolution would seem very obvious but it’s NOT. the plot has a lot of twists and turns, it would be more fun to read if you knew little of what it’s about. and i feel like i’ve already spoiled too much. it’s fairly straightforward – you know what’s going to happened, you can see it happening, you don’t want it to happen – but it leaves you grasping for more, nonetheless.

my favorite aspect of this book was the beautiful characters and their relationship/chemistry between each other. they are sassy, witty, selfless, and not-annoying in any way. annoying characters will be the death of me. what amazes me is that they’re all good characters, but none of them are “mary sue.” they have flaws, but *squeals* i just love them. the chemistry between everyone was so smooth and natural. a lot of the times, i’ll see interactions between characters and it seems so forced. there wasn’t a single time that happened in this book. if it did, it would seem intentionally tense or awkward.

i think the biggest problem here was the lack of a map. yes, that’s the biggest problem. it made the whole world hard to visualize. their city/state/country/idk-what-it-is is on an island. i didn’t know that until the end of the book. things would’ve made a lot more sense if i’d known that small fact. we just need a map. it’s fine though because i know the second book, the winner’s crime, will have a map. THANK YOU!

there are a lot of hidden metaphors. there would be a repeated sentence here, another reference there, and you don’t realize their meaning until the very end; you might not even realize until you reread the book. marie rutkoski clearly put thought in every word and sentence, which is another reason why i love this book. the writing is gorgeous. however, there was lack in sense of time. you never knew how much time passed, or sometimes, it felt as if time didn’t even exist.

if you finished the book, i also advise reading the author’s note! she explains where she got the idea of the winner’s curse and all that interesting stuff.

what are you waiting for? go read this book! if you’ve already read it, let me know your thoughts in the comments~



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REVIEW: maybe someday; colleen hoover


8.6/10 ✩

genre: new adult, contemporary, romance

series or standalone? standalone

published: on march 18th, 2014 by simon & schuster (or atria books in other editions)

pages: 384

i read the: ebook

began: february 14, 2015 // finished: february 14, 2015

where can i buy this? here via the book depository!

goodreads summary: right here.

favorite quote:

“words can sometimes have a far greater effect on a heart than a kiss.”

– ridge, page 273

first sentence: “i just punched a girl in the face.”

maybe someday is.. something i didn’t expect. and i’ve waited a week to review it, but somehow, i still can’t compose my thoughts. i flew through the book in less than twenty-four hours, but it’s still not as satisfying as i’d hoped. (even though it was still really good.) i was hesitant to read it because the summary said it was about a girl who found her boyfriend cheating on her best friend. i’m not a huge fan of crying, heartbroken girls, so this book was something i wouldn’t usually read. but after all the raving on colleen hoover, i decided to give it a try. (also the ebook was on sale, why not?)

the synopsis is mostly about her “wonderful life,” then things come crashing down when she finds her boyfriend cheating on her best friend/roommate. it also mentions a guy named ridge, who she’s kinda getting into? um.. okay. i promise, that is the first ten pages. everything after that is a bit mind blowing and not what i expected. i would tell you, because it feels like you should know, but it’s considered a “spoiler;” i wouldn’t want to risk it. this book talks about a few serious(ish?) topics, and does include a love triangle (but not with who you expect). music is a huge part of the story and i love how it connects the characters and brings out all the emotions. the story and writing will leave you saying, “just one more chapter,” until you’re finished with the book – which is exactly what happened to me. 

colleen hoover’s writing style is kind of amazing, but it also reminds me of fan fiction. there will be moments when i’m reading and it feels like i’m reading a really good fan fiction, not a novel. i’m not sure if that’s a good thing, but that’s just the vibes it gives. the way she writes makes you feel as if you’re actually inside the character’s head. you follow their thought process and everything. she’s also hilarious. there were multiple times when i literally laughed out loud because it was so funny. you care for every single character (which is extremely rare) and learn to accept and embrace their so-called flaws. the relationships between the people and her quotes! ahh, all of it is just so good. this is the first colleen hoover book i read, and i do intend on reading the rest of her novels.

i feel like i would’ve given it a higher rating if it wasn’t over-hyped. i mean, yes, it is good, but it’s not that good. it was also my first new adult book, so i couldn’t relate to the characters as much since they’re experiencing things i wouldn’t yet understand (i’m still a teeeeeeen). nonetheless, this book was enjoyable. you should definitely read it if you like cute and adorable contemporaries.



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REVIEW: dash and lily’s book of dares; rachel cohn and david levithan

8.8/10 ✩


genre: young adult, contemporary, romance, rom-com

series or standalone? standalone

published: on october 26, 2010 by knopf books (also random house, in later editions)

pages: 260

i read the: us paperback

began: december 2, 2014 // finished: december 2, 2014

where can i buy this? here via the book depository!

goodreads summary: right here.

favorite quote:

“.. because i don’t think meaning is something that can be explained. you have to understand it on your own.”

– dash, page 86

this is the cutest, most adorable book to exist – right up there with anna and the french kiss and fangirl. it’s also super cliché, but sometimes you need that in your life. now is one of those times.

this story is told from two points of view: dash and lily. dash is strolling through his favorite bookstore when he finds a mysterious red moleskine. he then sets off to accomplish the challenges the notebook dares. and their conversation begins. the story is set during christmas and new year’s, so it’s perfect to read during the holidays. it’s a fun adventure, making me want to visit one of my favorite cities (manhattan, new york) again.

the concept of the story is extremely clever and witty. i was in love with the idea of this red notebook connecting two strangers together. it’s one of those books you read simply because their chemistry is adorable and the storyline is hilarious. both characters are snarky and sarcastic, which left me grinning from ear to ear. however, the relationships (between other people) and character development were lacking. dash and lily were hard to imagine and felt two-dimensional – lily especially. there were times where she felt like a completely different person. she would overreact and jump to conclusions, which was so frustrating. i guess the characters were supposed to be “realistic” and real people make mistakes, but it came off as more confusing and unrealistic than anything else. i connected with the settings and situations more than the characters themselves.

another thing that bothered me was the excess amount of filler paragraphs. there would be pages of flashbacks and whatnot that wouldn’t change the story if it wasn’t there. AKA FILLER. the book is so short already, i would appreciate getting back on track. there would also be problems noted, but we never got back to them. like, what about those other problems???

this book was simultaneously light-hearted and deep. deep, as in, this-left-me-in-an-existential-crisis deep. lily and dash are both book nerds (the story starts in a bookstore.. so that’s not really a spoiler right?), so they both have a remarkable way with words and think more deeply. in this sense, i could relate with them very well. also, they’re more comfortable talking through writing than actually speaking (which i’m sure we can all relate to here). but like almost all contemporary books, i just wanted one more chapter. it wasn’t even like it ended abruptly, but i just want more. like, what happens next?

this is a book you should read after a book hangover. when you’ve finished something epic and you don’t know where to go. it’s a very short, light read that helps if you don’t want to invest in a huge, scary series yet (aka game of thrones, anyone?). in a way, it’s kind of like a “filler” book. which is great because we need those in our life too.



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REVIEW: the walled city; ryan graudin


genre: young adult, dystopian, science fiction, fantasy

series or standalone? standalone

published: on november 4, 2014 by little brown

pages: 432

i read the: ebook

source: netgalley

began: november 3, 2014 // finished: november 12, 2014

where can i buy this? here via the book depository!

goodreads summary: right here.

the walled city is a dystopian novel, that actually could be real. what makes it “dystopian” is the amount of gangs and banned-book-type of vibe it gives, but government falling apart? not really. at the end of the book, the author’s note said (semi-not-really-spoiler? just be aware.) such a place had existed! she’d just made it more dystopian-like. although there were some differences, the book was based on this place in hong kong, china. there were even pictures. i think she should’ve included some of this stuff at the front of the novel. after seeing the pictures of the actual location (which was basically the premise of the book!), it was much easier to picture everything. even after finishing the entire book, i couldn’t see the setting.. like at all. so, you should look for the pictures in the author’s note before you start this book.

the story is told from three main characters: a runaway with a mysterious past (dai), a girl who’s been sold to be a prostitute (mei yee), and said girl’s sister, who is trying to save her (jin). the character were not very relatable and a bit dull. some of their thoughts and actions seemed extremely petty and overall they were mediocre.

there were fairly strong topics discussed in this book, so i wouldn’t recommend it younger readers or those who prefer lighter reads. i knew the story was going to be dark, but it was much more than i’d expected. there were drugs, prostitutes, murder.. everything. although it had intimidated me at first, i appreciated it later because it was a nice insight of the awful truth. you see the character(s) who were traumatized by the events and makes me think about humanity and what we’re doing.

the writing was extremely poetic and beautiful. there were many metaphors, but it got to the point of confusion. i still found it hard to visualize. it was as if she used the most beautiful colors to paint a picture, but the details are missing and you’re not entirely sure what it is. in a way, it reminded me of a decorated sugar-free cake: beautifully executed on the outside, but the inside (world building, character development, relationships, etc.) was mediocre and bland.

the romance of this book came out of nowhere. maybe it was because i was in denial, but still, it came out of nowhere. the two characters meet and are instantly in love. it bothered me especially because for the girl, it was basically the first considerable male she met, and for the guy, he just thought she was pretty. they knew nothing about each other and there was no build-up. absolutely no chemistry, and somehow, was simultaneously a minor and major part of the story.

to be honest, i was mainly interested in this book because it had an asian setting. i come from a chinese background, so naturally, asian culture appeals me. i learned things i didn’t know about my own culture, and there were references to things i’m familiar with (for example: they would eat baozi every morning, and i knew exactly what they were talking about). for some reason, that made me especially happy.

there were many fun plot twists, but the climax of the story was not very climactic. also, i would’ve liked more closure. i was still left with “what happens now?” questions. overall, the plot and actuality of the book was meh, but the writing style was beautiful. in a nutshell: i liked… the asian references, writing style, and heavy topics, but i didn’t like… the characters, relationships, and visualization.



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