Friday, February 14, 2020

Best Swoon-worthy Contemporary Reads

It's that time of year full of hearts, roses and everything pink and red. Valentine's Day! Whether you love it or despise it, check out these cute contemporary reads! This is the perfect month to dive into these wonderful novels that I adore!

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch is a great read if you want to explore Italy with Lina where she reconnects with her father and Lina relives her mom's memories through her mom's journal. This book is about self-discovery and love in another country. Check out the companion novel, Love & Luck and upcoming Love & Olives.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before trilogy by Jenny Han is one of my favorites! When five love letters get sent in the mail, Lara Jean is mortified. However, this sets the plot where readers will follow Lara Jean in a fake relationship with Peter. With a signed contract, Lara Jean and Peter are trying to make Josh and Gen jealous but Lara Jean and Peter end up falling for each other. I won't spoil the rest of the other books but let's say there is another guy who received a love letter that takes on a larger role in P.S. I Still Love You. And while you are at it, after reading the books, check out To All the Boys I've Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You on Netflix!

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins takes place in a boarding school in Paris. What is there not to love about reading a book set in Paris, the City of Light? Anna befriends √Čtienne St. Clair and is smitten with him at first sight but unfortunately, he has a girlfriend. Let's just say there is a lot of relationship drama in this novel. Check out Perkins's companion novels, Lola and the Boy Next Door (my favorite out of the three) and also Isla and the Happily Ever After.

The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord is definitely one of the best slow-burning romances in a contemporary that I adore. Paige and Max meet over Quiz Bowl and they are so meant to be together. Lord also includes strong female friendships within the novel which is empowering. They have each other's back which I like since there are so many books out there with girls being catty. I absolutely adored this book and I hope you do too. Check out Lord's When We Collided and The Map From Here to There.

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum starts off with Jessie moving from Chicago to Los Angeles and attending a new school during her Junior year. Her mother passed away and her father eloped with another woman. Jessie misses her old home and school and is having hard time navigating her new life. However, someone anonymously messages her as Somebody/Nobody, SN for short, who ends up helping her with the transition. Who is this SN mystery guy? Well pick up this novel to find out! Check Buxbaum's What to Say Next and upcoming Admission.

The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder is about Pen who is a romantic waiting to fall in love. She explores and talks about multiple types of heartbreak one goes through. However, she doesn't realize that sometimes love can be right in front of her in the least expected places. Check out Leder's Letting Go of Gravity as well.

The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee is about a girl named Mim who wants to experience life as a teenager but because she is from a family of aromateurs, it is her duty to carry on the legacy. Aromateurs are not allowed to love and there are strict rules she needs to abide by according to her mother. Of course, when rules are made, rules are sometimes broken and Mim finds Court who she is smitten with.

by Sandhya Menon is a rom-com where Dimple and Rishi meet at a summer program. Their first meeting together is far from perfect but they grow to be fond of each other by the end of the book. This book explores cultural identity, tradition, STEM fields, and female empowerment. Check out Menon's other novels such as From Twinkle, With Love, There's Something About Sweetie and upcoming 10 Things I Hate About Pinky.

Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli is about Simon who ends up falling for his e-mail pen pal friend named Blue. However, Martin threatens to blackmail him outing Simon if Simon doesn't introduce Martin to Simon's friend Abby. I love the conversation between Simon and Blue and the reveal of Blue at the end of the book is too cute! Definitely watch the film adaptation of the book after reading this novel. Check out Albertalli's other novels including The Upside of Unrequited and Leah on the Offbeat. She also co-wrote What If It's Us with Adam Silvera.
by Mary H.K. Choi is about Penny who is headed to college and has a boyfriend who hardly knows her. Sam works at a cafe and is struggling financially and emotionally. Penny realizes she is falling for Sam after they become each other's emergency contacts and they both end up relying on each other. This meet-cute novel is perfect for fans of Fangirl. Check out Choi's Permanent Record.

American Panda by Gloria Chao is about Mei who currently attends MIT to become a doctor despite her being a germaphobe. She is giving in to what her parents want for her even though her passion lies within dancing. When Mei is interested in a non-Taiwanese guy, her parents are definitely not happy. Mei tries to find a balance between living up to traditional cultural expectations and living her life to the fullest. Check out Chao's Our Wayward Fate and upcoming Rent a Boyfriend.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

Title: Loveboat, Taipei
Author: Abigail Hing Wen
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: January 7, 2020
Pages: 432
Source/format: Hardcover//Library
Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from

Perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen, and praised as “an intense rush of rebellion and romance” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Garber, this romantic and layered Own Voices debut from Abigail Hing Wen is a dazzling, fun-filled romp.

“Our cousins have done this program,” Sophie whispers. “Best kept secret. Zero supervision.”

And just like that, Ever Wong’s summer takes an unexpected turn. Gone is Chien Tan, the strict educational program in Taiwan that Ever was expecting. In its place, she finds Loveboat: a summer-long free-for-all where hookups abound, adults turn a blind eye, snake-blood sake flows abundantly, and the nightlife runs nonstop.

But not every student is quite what they seem:

Ever is working toward becoming a doctor but nurses a secret passion for dance.

Rick Woo is the Yale-bound child prodigy bane of Ever’s existence whose perfection hides a secret.

Boy-crazy, fashion-obsessed Sophie Ha turns out to have more to her than meets the eye.

And under sexy Xavier Yeh’s shell is buried a shameful truth he’ll never admit.

When these students’ lives collide, it’s guaranteed to be a summer Ever will never forget.

“A unique story from an exciting and authentic new voice.” —Sabaa Tahir, #1 New York Times bestselling author of An Ember in the Ashes

“Equal parts surprising, original, and intelligent. An intense rush of rebellion and romance.” —Stephanie Garber, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Caraval

“Fresh as a first kiss.” —Stacey Lee, award-winning author of Outrun the Moon

"Fresh, fun, heartfelt, and totally addictive, a story about finding your place—and your people—where you least expected." —Kelly Loy Gilbert, author of the William C. Morris Award finalist Conviction

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Ever Wong loves to dance. Her parents want her to study medicine to become a doctor. However, Ever doesn't want to study medicine. She secretly applies to Tisch for dance and is invited for an audition. When her parents find out about the acceptance, they send her to Chien Tan, also known as Loveboat, which is a school in Taiwan during the summer.

Ever along with several hundred other Chinese Americans are attending a boarding school where they learn Mandarin, calligraphy, Chinese Medicine, and much more. Unfortunately, Ever's parents preselected all of her electives so she cannot partake in ribbon dancing. They want her to attend Northwestern's pre-med program. However, little do most adults know is that Loveboat is notoriously known for being a summer of partying, nightlife and hookups. This is a chance for Ever to find herself and to rebel against her strict parents' wishes.

At Loveboat, Ever becomes close to her roommate, Sophie Ha. Ever also befriends Rick Woo, aka Boy Wonder, and Xavier Yeh. Abigail Hing Wen created characters full of life. Each character is unique and three-dimensional. Readers get attached to the main characters. They want to know each character's journey and how the characters navigate their lives through times of joyfulness and times of despair.

When Ever finds out more about her classmate's heritage and lineage, she realizes she feels out of place since many of them are well off. Ever comes from a family with little money. Her mother had to sell a pearl necklace in order for Ever to got to Taiwan. However, Ever finds out the secrets and high expectations of her classmates. Ever becomes intrigued when she has a secret admirer who draws sketches of her. Coming from a strict family, she never considered dating in high school. Loveboat, Taipei tests Ever, Rick, Sophie and Xavier in unimaginable ways.

I admire Ever's passion for dancing. She even finds a way to keep up with dancing despite her not wanting to attend Loveboat and her parents thwarting her plans to go to Tisch. She stays true to herself even though her peers pressure to make risky decisions about certain things. Dancing is something she can call her own. It's something that grounds her. Ever learns to open-minded and to be a little more adventurous than when is at home in Ohio. Taipei has opened new doors for her.

Wen starts Loveboat, Taipei with various college acceptances and rejections which I find is very clever and a good way to open the novel. Wen wrote a wonderful coming-of-age novel that is relatable from family expectations, unrequited love, crushes, double standards, finding your passions, making new friends and paving your own path. Loveboat, Taipei is about breaking stereotypes, rules and expectations. Don't worry about meeting others' expectations. It's about finding who you are and making your own expectations for yourself.

I highly suggest Loveboat, Taipei for readers who enjoyed American Panda by Gloria Chao, Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao and Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan.

Disclaimer: there are mentions of suicidal ideation, revenge pornography, domestic violence, love triangles, etc in this novel.