For What It's Worth

Thursday, May 24, 2018

review: the way you make me feel by Maurene goo

35704397From the author of I Believe in a Thing Called Love, a laugh-out-loud story of love, new friendships, and one unique food truck.

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. ~

Source: ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Review: I was a little leery of reading The Way You Make Me Feel at first. I (mostly) enjoyed Goo’s I Believe in a Thing Called Love but took issue with the lack of growth of that books MC (Desi) over the course of the story.

When I saw that Clara was yet another protag that enjoys pranks (same as Desi) and was fairly unlikable at first I was sure I was going to bail on this book but what drew me in to I Believe in a Thing Called Love and kept reading The Way You Make Me Feel was the family dynamics. 

16 year old Clara lives with her dad while her mom is a Lifestyle Influencer, traveling around the globe – documenting her life on social media and is rarely in Clara’s life unless it ties in with a work assignment. Her parents had Clara when they were 18, never married and separated when Clara was 4 years old. Her dad, Adrian, is still young (in his early 30’s & a looker) and is fairly lenient with Clara since he once rebelled against his strict parents and tries to be a little looser with her.

Clara crosses a line at school with one of her pranks and dad cracks down. As punishment, she is forced to work with her arch nemesis, Rose, on her his food truck – KoBra (which serves Korean/Brazilian food) for the summer in exchange for not being suspended at school.

I’m going to be completely honest and say that I think most people won’t like this book. Unless you make it to the 1/2 way point – all you will see is a self absorbed, flippant character who doesn’t really care about or take the time to understand anyone around her. Everything is a game or potential prank to her.

It wasn’t until Clara and Rose were thrown into a forced proximity friendship that Clara finally started to soften and think about the people around her. Rose is seemingly stuck up & judgemental but has her reasons and thankfully, calls Clara on her bullshit. They are really wonderful together once they open up a little.

If you make it that far (or don’t mind unlikable MC’s) - the exploration of changing friendships, letting yourself open up to new feelings – even if it means you might get hurt or let down and wonderful, tear inducing, family dynamics is well worth it IMO. It’s messy but real and I think would help teen readers relate to all the changes you go through at that age.

The romance fell a little flat for me but that’s fine. It wasn’t the main focus and I loved how Goo showed that you can just date – or not – or date without it being love. That’s a really nice thing to see in YA.

But the real star of this book is Clara and her dad. My heart cracked and got pieced back together watching these two work through their relationship. Another rarity in YA are parents but is something this author does SO well. I grew up with just my dad (although under totally different circumstances) and it's such an awkward dynamic at times but it was written well. 

I know this isn't going to be the book for everyone (way to sell it Karen! lol) but if you're looking for a messy, realistic YA filled with diversity (I especially loved the descriptions of LA and the food)  and family dynamics that tug at your heartstrings - give this one a try. Despite a few heavy topics - it's a fairly light, fast read. Perfect for summer. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

tell me something tuesday

Tell Me Something Tuesday is hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings and discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging.

Question: Are you more inclined/less inclined to read books that are compared to other popular books or authors.

LESSSSSSSSSSSSS. SO much less inclined!

The main reasons being that they rarely measure up favorably to a book I’ve loved & the comparisons aren’t usually accurate.

I wish publishers used more restraint while using this tactic to sell books. I get it…if Gone Girl becomes a break out hit and readers are clamoring for more – why not compare any unreliable narrator/twisty thriller to that title? I’m sure it works for the first one or two comparisons until those don’t measure up in quality and readers don’t trust that angle anymore.

I’m old school – I trust my blogger peeps. If something catches my eye outside of blogging (anything other than a review or rec on a blog/by a blogger), the first thing I do is check if anyone I know has read or reviewed the book and go from there. If no-one has then I head to the library to give it a go in case it doesn’t work out - unless I’m 99% sure it’s my reader catnip and give it a shot anyway.

As for those author blurbs – same thing. I don’t mean this in a bad way - but most authors have VERY different tastes than I do and are more accepting of things that irritate the shit out of me. Also, I don’t know them and their reading habits on a personal level so that means zilch to me.

I do have a few author Twitter friends that give honest book rec’s all the time in genres I love. The key word there being honest. I’ll one-click those because they are recommending the books out of true reader enthusiasm – just like us.

*Updated: I'm also adding one more related peeve (because it's my blog and I can do what I want lol).  Don't promote a book as  *never been done before - totally original*. I read a lot. You may have an interesting slant on a trope or characters that make it seem fresh but I promise it's ALL been done before.

Do book comparisons and author blurbs lure you to buy a book?

Monday, May 21, 2018

monday minis: the epic crush of genie lo & the final six

30116958The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

She annihilates standardized tests and the bad guys.

Genie Lo is one among droves of Ivy-hopeful overachievers in her sleepy Bay Area suburb. You know, the type who wins. When she’s not crushing it at volleyball or hitting the books, Genie is typically working on how to crack the elusive Harvard entry code.

But when her hometown comes under siege from hellspawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are dramatically rearranged. Enter Quentin Sun, a mysterious new kid in class who becomes Genie’s self-appointed guide to battling demons. While Genie knows Quentin only as an attractive transfer student with an oddly formal command of the English language, in another reality he is Sun Wukong, the mythological Monkey King incarnate—right down to the furry tale and penchant for peaches.

Suddenly, acing the SATs is the least of Genie’s worries. The fates of her friends, family, and the entire Bay Area all depend on her summoning an inner power that Quentin assures her is strong enough to level the very gates of Heaven. But every second Genie spends tapping into the secret of her true nature is a second in which the lives of her loved ones hang in the balance. ~

Source: Library

My thoughts:  Chinese mythology, demons, action packed and filled with humor and a relatable protagonist – The Epic Crush of Genie Lo was a fun, fresh take on the *chosen one* trope. Don’t let the title fool you – “crush” in the title isn’t used in the traditional romantic sense. I won't spoil what it does refer to.

My one little nitpick – there were several interesting side characters that felt like they were going to be central tot eh story but kind of vanished midway through the story but I see there is a sequel coming so hopefully that will be fleshed out more.

36491465The Final Six (The Final Six #1) by Alexander Monir

When Leo, an Italian championship swimmer, and Naomi, a science genius from California, are two of the twenty-four teens drafted into the International Space Training Camp, their lives are forever altered. After erratic climate change has made Earth a dangerous place to live, the fate of the population rests on the shoulders of the final six who will be scouting a new planet. Intense training, global scrutiny, and cutthroat opponents are only a few of the hurdles the contestants must endure in this competition.

For Leo, the prospect of traveling to Europa—Jupiter’s moon—to help resettle humankind is just the sense of purpose he’s been yearning for since losing his entire family in the flooding of Rome. Naomi, after learning of a similar space mission that mysteriously failed, suspects the ISTC isn’t being up front with them about what’s at risk.

As the race to the final six advances, the tests get more challenging—even deadly. With pressure mounting, Naomi finds an unexpected friend in Leo, and the two grow closer with each mind-boggling experience they encounter. But it’s only when the finalists become fewer and their destinies grow nearer that the two can fathom the full weight of everything at stake: the world, the stars, and their lives. ~

Source: Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

My thoughts: The Final Six was….fine. There is a diverse cast of characters with a cool premise. Climate change is making earth uninhabitable and humans need to find a way to live on another planet before it’s too late. 24 teens from all over the world are sent to compete for 6 slots to make the voyage to settle and repopulate a new planet for humans.

If you have ever read a YA dystopian novel about government secrets, experimentation, teens competing against each other in cutthroat training montages - then this doesn’t cover any new territory. It felt very paint by numbers and predictable. Despite the outer space premise, this book takes place entirely on earth.

Having said that, the book ends on a cliffhanger that promises a much more excting sequel.