Diverse Books · Review

Book Review: The Summer fo Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding

the summer of jordi perez

Title: The Summer of Jordi Peres (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles)

Author: Amy Spalding

Publishing Date: April 3rd 2018

Published by:  Sky Pony Press

Genres: Contemporary, YA

Pages: 224 pages

Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby has stayed focused on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a prized internship at her favorite local boutique, she’s thrilled to take her first step into her dream career. She doesn’t expect to fall for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Abby knows it’s a big no-no to fall for a colleague. She also knows that Jordi documents her whole life in photographs, while Abby would prefer to stay behind the scenes.

Then again, nothing is going as expected this summer. She’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win a paid job at the boutique. She’s somehow managed to befriend Jax, a lacrosse-playing bro type who needs help in a project that involves eating burgers across L.A.’s eastside. Suddenly, she doesn’t feel like a sidekick. Is it possible Abby’s finally in her own story?

But when Jordi’s photography puts Abby in the spotlight, it feels like a betrayal, rather than a starring role. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image that other people have of her? Is this just Abby’s summer of fashion? Or will it truly be The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles)?

Goodreads | Amazon

The Summer of Jordi Perez starts with Abby, the main character, on her way to her first day working at her favorite boutique. I feel like the first few pages are not the best introduction to Abby as a character. Abby is very, very disperse at the beginning, she gets distracted way too easily and it’s a bit annoying because we’re reading the story from her perspective. But if you give it a few pages that distractiveness isn’t a big character trait in the rest of the book.

After that rough start, I actually got to like Abby. She is a pink-haired, fat, lesbian girl, who loves fashion and blogs about it and is always dressed in colorful clothes. Then there’s Jordi, the love interest, a talented mexican-american girl, who loves photography and dresses all in black. The amount of good representation in this book, in terms of sexuality, body-positivity and ethnicity is lovely to see.

From the start, it’s easy to tell this is the story of a first love, there’s certain innocence to the relationship and the romance that made the story sweet and put a smile on my face. There’s instant attraction between the characters, but the relationship development is organic.  They like each other, they go on dates and it doesn’t take forever for them to get together. Abby and Jordi are incredibly cute together and there’s so many sweet moments. The conflict that surges between them is very predictable, there’s a lot of not so subtle hints about it, and it’s not the biggest conflict ever, but it’s easy to understand where the characters are coming from. At the end, this is a very adorable story, so don’t expect lots of angst and drama when it comes to the conflict, which to be honest is something I really like about it.

I was expecting the whole best burgers of Los Angeles plot to be a bit more important since it’s on the title of the book. The reality is that Abby and Jax go eat burgers together in several ocasions throughout the book and they become friends because of that. They are very different people and they have very different perspectives and it is interesting to read their conversations, which  are hilarious, and the burgers are more an excuse for their friendship to develop that anythig else. Don’t go into this book expecting amazing food descriptions because that’s not what you’re gonna find. Instead, you’ll get an amazing and compelling friendship, that will keep you entertain. It is one of my favorite parts of the story.

Other interesting subjects and themes that are present in this books are: complex family dynamics, especially between Abby and her mom; then there’s female friendship, Abby has 3 friends who are not perfect, but they are supportive, encouraging and loving; and also there’s abby’s work in the boutique, which revolves around social media, it’s really great to see the real applications of social media in buisness and the importance that it has, because it’s such a big part of our world.

Overall, this is short, cute and funny story with a diverse cast of characters, that addresses important subjects and that will have you smiling the entire time. 

Rating: 4 stars

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#ownvoices · bookish list · Diverse Books

Most Anticipated Book Releases – June 2018

Most anticipated book releases 2018

Hi guys! So, I have written one of these posts ever month this year,  I have been consisten in that sense at least, but I have done a very poor job of actually reading the books I’m anticipating. I’m hoping to make a post in June to check my progress, because reading my anticipated books was a goal of mine for 2018, so I hope that’s gonna motivate me to actually read some of the books I have put in these posts before the month ends. Let’s hope that actually happens!

Anyway, here are some of my most anticipated books that are being release in June 2018:

 

Mariam Sharma Hits the Road by Sheba Karim

Road trip + frienships + New Orleans + Muslim rep + South Asian rep + fun banter + Queer rep + self discovery = what else could I ask for?! This sounds like a book I would really enjoy and I was really excited to read it, until I look it up on Goodreads to write this post and saw that it doesn’t have the best reviews. I have been anticipating it for a while and that’s why I still included it, but I’m a bit nervious about it.

Release date: June 5th 2018

Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

The main character in this book is a muslim woman, who is an aspiring poet struggling with money issues, that sounds really interesting to me. Plus, this is an #ownvoices story. Also, it’s a Pride and Prejudice retelling and I love those!

Release date: June 12th 2018

Not the Girls You’re Looking For  by Aminah Mae Safi

Female friendship takes a central place in this story and I’m here for it! If we add the fact that this is a very diverse book in terms of culture and sexual orientation, I’m even more excited. Also, it’s #ownvoices!

 Release date: June 19th 2018

Final Draft by Riley Redgate

This book has a pansexual, biracial,  plus-size main character, who is an aspiring writer, and I can’t wait to read her story. Plus, I heard that her group of friends is adorable and it’s a big part of the story and I’m excited to read about them.  Also, I have heard a lot of great things about Riley Redgate’s writing and her other books, so I want to read something by her.

 Release date: June 12th 2018

What June book releases are you anticipating? Do you want to read any of these books? Have you read any of these books and what did you think about them?

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9 Books Monday

9 Books with Asian Main Characters

9 books asian

9 Books Monday is a feature that I used to have here on the blog, where I would talk about 9 books that have positive representation for a minority/marginalized group. It’s a weekly feature that I’m excited to bring back. In the past, I have done posts about 9 book with: bisexual female main characters, latinx mc, black mc, muslim mc and lesbian mc.

This time I’m doing 9 books with Asian main characters written by asian authors.

3 Books I Read and Loved  

 If The Dress Fits by Carla de Guzman

I talk about this book A LOT, but it’s such a cute book and I feel like people would love it if they gave it a chance.  This is an #ownvoices book about a fat filipino main character. It has friends to lovers, fake dating, incredible family dynamics and insightful depiction of the Philippines. You can read my full review and you can see the Bookish Style Guide I did based on the main character Martha Aguas.

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

This book was released recently and I really enjoyed it!  Amazing food description + wonderful female freindship + strong character development+ cute romance+ incredible father/daughter relationship= an adorable, fun and compelling read. The main character is Korean american and her dad has a food truck that sells fusion, a mix between korean and brazilian food. 

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Indian main characters + arranged marriage in a contemporary setting + summer program for web developers + adorable romance + incorporation of indian culture (language, customs, movies, food) = one of the cutest books ever and also a really interesting one. Also, #ownvoices for the indian representation. 

4 Books on my TBR

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao

Part of this book is set in India, the main characters are from India, and the author of the book is also from India, which is why I’m trusting the representation in this is gonna be amazing.  The main characters of this book are two girls and this story revolves around their friendship, while dealing with themes like domestic abuse, human trafficking, immigration, and feminism. I can’t wait to read this one, even if I have the suspision that it’s gonna break my heart.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

This book is an East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend from Snow White, it explores the origin story of this ‘evil’ character and I have heard that it has stunning writing, complex characters and it had a dark twist to it. I love books with morally gray characters and I’m looking forward to reading this one.

Want by Cindy Pon

This book is set in a futuristic Taipei that’s sucumbing to environmental problems. It deals with themes of  inequality, poverty and privilege. The main character of the book is Taiwanese and this is #ownvoices representation since Cindy Pon is also Taiwanese. There are chinese, filipino and indian characters as well, and there’s diversity in terms of sexuality too. This sounds so interesting and I have heard nothing but good things about it, so I’m excited to read it!

Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions by Six de los Reyes

This book is set in the Philippines, the main character is a scientist, who is trying to find love through a scientific methodology and ends up falling for the guy she less expected. I love stories where opposites attract and I’m looking forward to this one. Also, this is #ownvoices since the author is from the Philippines. I’m expecting this to be cute, funny and entertaining.

2 Books Releasing Soon 

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

This is the story is set in an Asian-inspired fantasy world where a Demon King takes human girls for concubines, and it’s the story of two of the girls that fall in love and fight for their freedom and each other. The author had said that the kingdom in which this story takes place is heavily inspired by her experiences growing up in Malaysia. There’s a huge trigger warning for violent assault/rape, so I’m a bit scared that this is gonna be frustrating and devastating because of the  subject matter, but I’m still really excited to read it! Release date: November 6th 2018

Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan

It’s always amazing to see a POC in the cover of a book, but I’m particulary excited to see an Asian character in the cover of a sci-fi book. This is the story of a girl that is a criminal mastermind and unrivaled pilot, she has spent her life terrorizing the imperialist nation that destroyed her home and then she is captured, sent to a military academy and has to work for them. This sounds like something I  would really enjoy and I can’t wait to give it a chance!  Release date:  September 4th 2018

Have you read any of these books? did you enjoy them? Are you planning on reading any of them? Do you have recommendations for books with asian main characters?

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Diverse Books · Review

Book Review: The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

the way you make me feel

Title: The Way You Make Me Feel

Author: Maurene Goo

Publishing Date: May 8th 2018

Published by: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Genres: Comtemporary, YA

Pages: 288

Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind? 

With Maurene Goo’s signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.

Goodreads | Amazon 

This books is a love Letter to L.A. from the very beginning. We get commentary about different neighborhoods, who primarily lives there, what type of activities are done there and what types of food are sold in them. All of that, without being info-dumpy and managing to keep it interesting. Also, there’s a lot of talk about food, not only because the main character’s dad has a food truck, but also because Clara, the main character likes to try different things. So, be prepared for amazing food descriptions that will make you hungry. 

Now, in terms of Clara, the main character, let’s start with the fact that she likes to pull pranks on people and sometimes she goes bit too far. I do have to mention the fact that there’s a scene that bothers me because Clara intentionally triggers her dad’s trypophobia and the fact that that wrong is never addressed. Clara is a bit apathetic and mean at the beginning, but then she spends the summer working and being responsable and we get to see her grow so much as a character. Also, she spends the summer surrounded with people her age that have goals and ambitions and that definitely helps her as well. Really there’s a lot of character development and it’s wonderful to see. 

From the beginning of the book,  the father/daughter relationship has a very important place in the story. Clara’s relationship with her dad is not perfect, he can be too lenient and she can be really mean, but there’s comunication, love and support. Also, the way that relationship develops throughout the book is beautiful. Seeing Clara realise how lucky she is and what an amazing dad she has and learn to appreciate that was really heartwarming.

The female friendship in this story was the most wonderful thing ever. At the start of the book, Clara and Rose hate each other, but when they are forced to work together they become friends. I love Rose and I really related to the way she talked about her anxiety. Also, I really like the ways Rose helps Clara see things in a different way and aspire to be less apatethic towars life.  Seeing them be there for each other was so beautiful.

In regard to the romance, I will say that it’s not the focus of the story.  At the beginning, I felt like there was no chemestry between Clara, the main character, and Hamlet, the  love interesting. But Hamlet is such a soft hero, he’s nice, thoughtful and respectful and he won me over the same way he did with Clara. They are so cute together and I couldn’t stop smiling when I read about them together.

Overall, this is a fun and cute story with amazing characters and tempting food descriptions. 

Rating: 4 stars 

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Diverse Books · Review

Book Review: The Queen of Ieflaria by Effie Calvin

the queen of ieflaria

Title: The Queen of Ieflaria

Author: Effie Calvin

Publishing Date:  February 19th 2018

Published by: Nine Star Press

Genres: Fantasy, YA

Princess Esofi of Rhodia and Crown Prince Albion of Ieflaria have been betrothed since they were children but have never met. At age seventeen, Esofi’s journey to Ieflaria is not for the wedding she always expected but instead to offer condolences on the death of her would-be husband.

But Ieflaria is desperately in need of help from Rhodia for their dragon problem, so Esofi is offered a new betrothal to Prince Albion’s younger sister, the new Crown Princess Adale. But Adale has no plans of taking the throne, leaving Esofi with more to battle than fire-breathing beasts.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Queen of Ieflaria has two main characters, Eofi and Adale, who are complete opposites, but both of them manage to be complex, flawed and compelling characters. A big portion of this book is focused on developing their relationship from reluctantly liking each other to being friends to having romantic feelings. While their relationship is explored, the book maneges to show a bit of the world, how the kingdoms are divided, how things work in Ieflaria, the problems the kingdom is facing and how the magic system works. It’s not a super detailed description of these aspects, but it shows the basics.

In this book, the magic system is intimately related to gods, goddesses and the mythology that surrounds them. What we get to see a magic system that it’s interesting even if it’s similar to the magic system in other YA fantasy books. Nonetheless, there’s an elements that made this world and this magic system especial: the dragons. This is definitely not the first book in YA to have dragons, but this book does something a bit wacky  in regards to the dragons right at the end, which is gonna play a bigger role in the rest of the series.

I did have a problem with this book because there are some elements in terms of worldbuilding and magic system that are fascinaring ideas, but that are never fully developed and are left in the air. Some of those elements I will not mention because they are spoilers, but one example is a secret cult that exist around one of the goddesses, which sounded like a fascinating addition to the story but it was never really explored. Also, there were several mentions of  a tension between magic and science within this world, and it was a source of disagreement between the main characters, Eofi and Adele. That tension could have given more depth to the book and made it more thought provoking, but unfortunately it was never fully explored either. Even if we are left with these holes, I think in future books a lot of the aspects that were left unexplored are going to add very compelling elements to the story.

Now  into the romance, which was my favorite part of this book. The romance in this book is a slow burn and a fantastic one at that, they have a bit of a rough start but it becomes obvious pretty fast that they good for each other and they complement each other really well. There were a lot of sweet moments between the main characters, Eofi and Adale, and the reader gets to see how they slowly build a friendship. Both characters had things to learn from the other and they managed to do that. Even when there’s some miscommunication between them, it’s resolved quickly.

Even if the exploration of the world, the characters and the relationships between them is really interesting, the set up for the story and the build up of the relationship between the two main characters lasted way too long. Around 70% of the book is set up and then all of the sudden, in the last part of the book, it feels like everything happens, all the action takes places and it does feel a bit rush. Nonetheless, the last 20% of this book hints at a very fascinating and unique story in the rest of the series. 

Overall, this books has complex and compelling characters, an amazing romance and an interesting magic system. Nonetheless, it very much feels like a set up book for the rest of the series. There’s ideas and plot elements that are mentioned but left for later. Hopefully, all the set up pays off in the future books.

Rating: 3,8 stars

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#ownvoices · bookish list · Diverse Books

Underrated Diverse Romance Books (less than 200 ratings on Goodreads)

Underrated Diverse Romance Books

Recently, I discovered that some diverse romance books I really enjoyed have less than a 200 ratings on Goodreads. After realizing this, I felt like it was a good idea to promote these amazing books that a lot of people may have not read. I didn’t choose books released in 2018, because I feel like they haven’t been out for very long and that may have to do with why they don’t have that many ratings.

A few weeks ago, I did a post about Underrated YA Books (less than 1000 rating on Goodreads)  in case you want to check it out! Now I wanted to make a list of diverse romance books with less than a 200 ratings on Goodreads that I think deserve more attention and love from the reading community:

 

If The Dress Fits by Carla de Guzman (2016) – 156 ratings on Goodreads

if-the-dress-fits

Martha Aguas kind of has it all–she’s an accountant who loves numbers, an accident-prone puppy that loves her, and the perfect wardrobe. Yes, she wears a dress size 24, her bras don’t fit and she’s never had a boyfriend, but so what? 

It becomes a big deal when her perfect cousin Regina announces her engagement to Enzo, the only boy she’s ever loved (he doesn’t know, so don’t tell him!) Suddenly Aguases from all corners of the globe are coming for the event, and the last thing Martha wants is to be asked why she still prefers her lattes with a waffle on the side. 

Thank god for Max. Goofy, funny, dependable Max, who finds himself playing the fake boyfriend at the family festivities. But why does it feel like only one of them is pretending?

Goodreads | Amazon 

If you want am #ownvoices book about a fat filipina main character with a really cute best friends to lovers romance, that stars with fake dating and that has incredible family dynamic and insightful depiction of the Philippines, this book is for you! It’s a funny and adorable read. You can read my full review and you can see the Bookish Style Guide I did based on the main character Martha Aguas.

 

North to You by Tif Marcelo (2017) – 165 ratings on Goodreads 

North to youCamille Marino has got a full plate. As the sole guardian of her eighteen-year-old sister and the head chef and owner of a food truck, she’s used to life being a juggling act. With food to cook, social media accounts to manage, and a little sister to look after, she doesn’t have time for much else. That is, until Drew Bautista walks back into her life.

Drew is Camille’s former high school crush and he returns to San Francisco to repair his relationship with his father before he ships out for deployment. By helping his father renovate his failing Filipino restaurant, he hopes to win back his respect. But when sparks fly between Drew and Camille—his father’s major competition and sworn enemy—Drew is conflicted. Should he join his father in the war against her food truck? Or surrender to the woman who’s given him a second chance at love?

Goodreads | Amazon

If you are looking for a book with  likeble main characters, a soft hero, a second chance romance and an interesting storyline revolving around food, this may be the book for you!  Also, I would like to mention that the male main characters is filipino and there’s a lot of reference to Filipino food.

The Story of Lizzy and Darcy by Grace Watson (2017) – 90 ratings on Goodreads

The Story of Lizzie and Darcy

 

When Lizzy Bennet first meets Darcy Williams, there is an instant dislike between them. As much as they try to avoid it their paths keep crossing, and they each start to see a different side to the other. Their tentative friendship is soon tested, but will they realise how they really feel?

The Story of Lizzy and Darcy is a modern day, same-sex adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Goodreads | Amazon

If you would like to read a Pride & Prejudice retelling, where a lesbian and a bisexual woman that have tons of chemestry fall in love, all while working in the book publishing industry, this book is for you! Also, there’s a trans character in this book that has a big role in the story.

 

Better at Weddings Than You by Mina V. Esguerra (2017) – 134 ratings on Goodreads 

Better at Weddings than you

Daphne Cardenas is the best wedding planner around, and everyone knows it. That’s why her friend Greg hired her as an emergency replacement one month before his wedding—because he fears his fiancée Helen is falling for the guy they first hired for the job. 

Aaron Trinidad is new to the wedding industry but years of conference planning and loads of charm make him good at it. Really good at it. Planning the wedding of his friend Helen should be easy, and it is. To be unceremoniously fired isn’t good for his new career, but the chance to learn from the best might be the silver lining.

Aaron and Daphne have chemistry, but there’s history with Helen that at least one other person considers a threat. Who’s the planner who can fix this impending disaster?

Goodreads | Amazon  

If you would like to read a book set in the Philippines, revolving around the wedding planning industry, with a romance between a female main character that has been planning weddings for years and a charming guy that’s a new comer into the wedding planning buisness, you may enjoy this book! Also, this is #ownvoices, written by a filipina author.

 

Do you want to read any of these books? Have you read any of these books? Did you like them?
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movies wrap up · The movie Journal

The Movie Journal: April 2018

The Movie Journal

The Movie Journal is a feature where I keep track of the movies I watch in 2018 and my thoughts about them. Here are the movies I watched in April:

 

The Shape of Water  (3,7 stars) 

At a top secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.

  • Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
  • Written by: Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
  • Cast: Sally HawkinsOctavia SpencerMichael Shannon

This movie was simply underwhelming for me. It was not a bad film, the acting was good, the way the movie looked was very distintive but nostalgic at the same time,  it was very clear that it was a tribute to old monster movies, and the sound work was great. Nonetheless, it tried to be reminesent of a fairytale and because of that the storytelling was really straightforward, which could have worked well, but I felt like the story lacked depth, everything was overly simplified, including  the characterization.

The Circle (3,7 stars) 

A woman lands a dream job at a powerful tech company called the Circle, only to uncover an agenda that will affect the lives of all of humanity. 

  • Directed by: James Ponsoldt
  • Written by: James Ponsoldt, Dave Eggers
  • Cast: Emma WatsonTom HanksJohn Boyega, Karen Gillan

I found this movie really interesting, the concept is not enterily unique but it’s compelling and it takes things a bit farther than a lot of movies with similar premises. The acting was fantastic and it was actually a very entertaining film. The main problem for me was the ending, which was incredibly disappointing. Another problem is that it brough up really complex and interesting discussions but the main characters had some messed up ideas about them and the fact that their positions where messed up was never addreses in the movie.

Avengers: Infinity War   (3,8 stars) 

The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.

  • Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
  • Written by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
  • Cast: Robert Downey Jr.Chris HemsworthMark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson

After I watched this movie, I spent a while not knowing how I felt about it and I’m still not sure. The movie is funny, enjoyable and entertaining. Also, it’s interesting to see a movie where everything goes wrong, plans fail, character fails and the ending leaves you waiting.

Nonetheless, the movie lacked a bit of cohesiveness in the way it looks, it felt disperse; different parts of this movie looked like different movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it was like several movie put into one. Also, I felt a completely lack of emotion when it came to deaths and sacrifices, the movie flied through those moments and left me not knowing if the characters died or not, if I should care or not, if I should be sad or not. I think that’s the biggest mistake of the film, because if those moments were more emotional, I would have made the storyline more believable and it would not have felt like everything was gonna be fixed later.

 

 Have you watched any of the movies I mentioned? Did you enjoy them? Do you want to watch any of them? Let me know in the comments! 

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