The Perks of Being a Wallflower Review

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Review

By Stephen Chbosky

Publisher: Pocket Books/MTV Books

Print Length: 213 pages

Release Year: 1999

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary 

Avg. Goodreads Rating:  4.2

Available on Amazon and B&N

standing on the fringes of life…

offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see

what it looks like from the dance floor.

This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being A WALLFLOWER

This is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie’s letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that the perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up. (Goodreads)

Originally posted on my personal website crystinaluna.com.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, at this point, is a long-time favourite of mine. At this point, it can probably be considered an older book, but– at least to me– it doesn’t read like that. The many reasons it reads that way is probably the same reason this book is considered banned in many places. 

A realistic examination of what it’s like to be a teenager, this book follows Charlie as he begins his first year of high school. Charlie immediately struggles with the transition and it’s not until he befriends two seniors, Sam and Patrick, that his year begins to make a turn for the better. Chbosky leads us through a graphically realistic teen experience that includes concepts regarding LGBT struggles, drug experimentation, mental health, and much more. 

I feel like there really is something for everyone in this book. Though I personally did not have the “traditional” teenage experience (far from it, actually) I still find myself relating heavily with the characters in this book. You may not have direct experience with certain things, such as drugs and certain mental health struggles, but it’s hard to be a teenager nowadays without being exposed to these concepts one way or another. I feel it’s even that indirect connection that fosters understanding and compassion for the book’s characters in the readers. Having read many books in my few years on this earth, with is one of those rare books that truly captures what it’s like growing up.

Regardless of all these great things, I am aware that this book is banned in many schools and to some extent, I understand why. I would probably recommend this book for a more mature audience, but not in the sense that maturity equates age. With hard subjects including molestation and suicide, this books is not for everyone. Though I think this should be read by all high schoolers, I admit that the individual should be taken into consideration. I wouldn’t go so far as to right out ban the book, rather, I’d explicitly warn younger readers what is to come and open it up for conversation if there is something they need help understanding. 

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown Review

Get a Life, Chloe Brown Review

By Talia Hibbert

Publisher: Avon

Print Length: 373 pages

Release Year: 2019

Genre: Romance

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 3.86

Available on Amazon, B&N

Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?

• Enjoy a drunken night out.

• Ride a motorcycle.

• Go camping.

• Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.

• Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.

• And… do something bad.

But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.

Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.

But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior… (Goodreads)

I generally don’t read many contemporary adult romance but Get a Life, Chloe Brown got my immediate attention due to the fact that the protagonist, Chloe, suffers from chronic pain. As someone who suffers through similar struggles, I was excited to read a romance with a protagonist not that different from me. This was one of the few stories where I deeply related to many of Chloe’s struggles, from her inherent want to “get a life,” from her pain-cause mood swings, and her apprehension in starting a relationship. This read was refreshingly real and the relationship depicted was equally as refreshing in how healthy it was.

I don’t read much adult romance, and my understanding of it is limited to the harlequin books my mom would read when I was younger. While I’ve never read one myself, I assumed that all romance book were all like Hallmark movies. It goes without saying I was dead wrong, and Get a Life, Chloe Brown is a prime example. 

The writing is the book was absolutely fantastic and full of character. The humour is top-notch and the romance scenes exude sensuality. This book is one you read when I want to truly satisfying love story. Hibbert does an amazing job pacing this book in such a way to have you at the edge of your seat, just waiting for satisfaction. And, let me tell you, she delivers.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Permanent Record Review

Permanent Record Review

By Mary H.K. Choi

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 

Print Length: 400 pg. 

Release Year: 2019

Genre: Contemporary Young Adult

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 3.45

Available on Amazon, B&N, and Libby

After a year of college, Pablo is working at his local twenty-four-hour deli, selling overpriced snacks to brownstone yuppies. He’s dodging calls from the student loan office and he has no idea what his next move is.

Leanna Smart’s life so far has been nothing but success. Age eight: Disney Mouseketeer; Age fifteen: first #1 single on the US pop chart; Age seventeen, *tenth* #1 single; and now, at Age nineteen…life is a queasy blur of private planes, weird hotel rooms, and strangers asking for selfies on the street.

When Leanna and Pab randomly meet at 4:00 a.m. in the middle of a snowstorm in Brooklyn, they both know they can’t be together forever. So, they keep things on the down-low and off Instagram for as long as they can. But it takes about three seconds before the world finds out… (Goodreads)

Permanent Record is one of those books you pick up cause its absolutely gorgeous and keep cause it’s just as good. I had mixed feelings going into, having had mixed feelings when going into Choi’s previous book Emergency Contact. When I first read Emergency Contact, I adored it; but the second time I picked it up not so much. So I was justifiably scared about picking up Permanent Record, but in the end, it worked out. 

Choi writes relatable romance with genuine issues that young couples often face. Permanent Record steps a bit farther away from most peoples reality by being a romance between a multifaceted pop star and once-internet-viral college drop-out. In a way, this book plays on many peoples fantasies of somehow running into a celebrity and falling in love. But, regardless of the circumstances of the romance, it is still very relatable and realistic. Pablo, our protagonist, really likes Leanna (his popstar love interest) but is embarrassed by his own shortcomings as a college drop out. He can’t communicate this to her and feels his only option is to lie. This critical failure in communication causes an invisible wall between them, that is only fortified with the struggles that come with dating someone in Leanna’s field of work. Choi manages to write this outlandish and rare situation in a very relatable and easy to understand manner, making it just as easy to relate to Leanna as it is to Pablo. 

Overall, the writing in the book is standard for YA contemporary, but as mentioned above, extra points to the author for being able to craft such relatable character even when they have less-than-relatable circumstances. In the end, I found that I enjoyed this book quite a bit, even more than its predecessor. If this trend continues, I have high hopes for Choi’s next book (which I believe is titled Yolk).

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Rent a Boyfriend Review, Thoughts, and Fan Art (Book Tour)

Rent a Boyfriend Review, Thoughts, and Fan Art (Book Tour)

By Gloria Chao

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Print Length: 320 pages

Release Year: 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary 

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.0

Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Chloe Wang is nervous to introduce her parents to her boyfriend, because the truth is, she hasn’t met him yet either. She hired him from Rent for Your ’Rents, a company specializing in providing fake boyfriends trained to impress even the most traditional Asian parents.

Drew Chan’s passion is art, but after his parents cut him off for dropping out of college to pursue his dreams, he became a Rent for Your ’Rents employee to keep a roof over his head. Luckily, learning protocols like “Type C parents prefer quiet, kind, zero-PDA gestures” comes naturally to him.

When Chloe rents Drew, the mission is simple: convince her parents fake Drew is worthy of their approval so they’ll stop pressuring her to accept a proposal from Hongbo, the wealthiest (and slimiest) young bachelor in their tight-knit Asian American community.

But when Chloe starts to fall for the real Drew—who, unlike his fake persona, is definitely not ’rent-worthy—her carefully curated life begins to unravel. Can she figure out what she wants before she loses everything? (Goodreads)

Special thanks to Simon Pulse and Hear Our Voices Book Tour for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review and participation in this tour. 

An emotional ride through the darker aspects of Asain culture in the United States, and the rift it can create between generations. Rent a Boyfriend follows the lengths a young woman would go to protect herself from a future she doesn’t want. In the process of doing so, she learns exactly what she wants, and what she has to do to have. This book is about sacrifice and how in excess it does more harm than good. Illustrating the importance of communication, and the battle to find stable ground among the generations. It’s an emotional ride, the ends with a breath of relief.

An absolute highlight of this book is the romance. Young-adult books have a tendency to fall victim to insta-love, and while there was immediate chemistry between the two romantic interest it wasn’t insta-love. Their love is visibly flawed and organic, making it a breath of fresh air. You see both of their sides, the feelings and thoughts that dictate their actions and the whole thing just makes sense. You root for them, not only because of their chemistry but because of their realness. The organic nature of the romance is this book is truly one of the best I’ve ever read. 

I often found myself mad reading this book, not at the book itself but at characters within it. Chao does an amazing job showing the rift between Chloe and her family, and how truly detrimental their situation is. All the emotions Chloe goes through you can feel yourself and it seriously hurts. I think it’s a universal struggle, wanting your parents to be happy, but what they want for you isn’t exactly what you want for yourself. While I come from a culture considerably different, it wasn’t hard to find parallels between my experiences and that of Chloe and Drew. 

This is a powerful book, that just so happen to have a happy ending. The way there is rocky but worth it. There is so much to be learned from as well, making this book an easy recommendation. This is a must-read.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thoughts While Reading

  1. I was fascinated by the idea of “Rent for Your ‘Rents” and found myself wondering how such a business would work. Especially for female operatives, if there is such a thing.
  2. Hongbo made me utterly angry, I used many choice words in my notes related to him. 
  3. The misogyny surprised me, but not that much after I thought about it. I related to it, actually. I really felt Chloe’s pain. 
  4. I struggled alongside Drew with some of his decisions. The wants to help people and the moral struggle of living a lie. 
  5. I learned some things about a culture that’s always fascinated me. And I continue to have a deep appreciation for many aspects of it.
  6. I loved the sheep, they’re so cute. When I can’t sleep I’m going yo start counting sheep.
  7. I took the time to sit and contemplate what  I would do if I was in Chloe’s place. It actually made me sad what I found out about myself. But at the same time, I’m not surprised. 
  8. I lost count of how many times this book gave me flashbacks to similar situations I’ve found myself in.

Fan Art

Magic Review

Magic Review

By Mike Russell 

Publisher: StrangeBooks

Print Length: 268 pages

Release Year: 2020

Genre: Fantasy Contemporary

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 3.84

Available on Amazon

Does magic exist? Charlie Watson thinks it does and he wants to tell you all about it. Before he was famous, Charlie Watson decided to write a book to share with the world everything he knew about magic. This is that book. You will discover why Charlie always wears a top hat, why his house is full of rabbits, how magic wands are made, how the universe began, and much, much more. Plus, for the first time, Charlie tells of the strange events that led him from England to the Arctic, to perform the extraordinary feat that made him famous, and he finally reveals whether that extraordinary feat was magic or whether it was just a trick. (Goodreads)

Special thanks to StrangeBooks for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Magic is the second book I’ve read by Mike Russell, and it definitely continues to perpetuate what seems to be an overarching theme of his writing: the whimsicality of otherness. His writing continues to come off as consistently surreal, as Russell is one the better surrealist writers. In Magic, he again utilises simplistic writing to vividly illustrate a dadaistic view version of the world, that at times feels a little like a fever dream.

Magic takes a magical view of the world in the most literal sense, going so far as to describe the big bang as an immense act of magic. Magic in this book is often present as a soft version of itself, for the sake of continuing the themes of otherness. There is certain humour that the softer writing style allots Russell, as he tells a story that manages to feel anything but serious. The book isn’t really meant to be serious, but for those who like to look deep to find more existential themes Russell’s work delivers. 

This book is a speedy read, largely due to the casual writing style. The experience of reading this book is reminiscent of the whimsy of reading a magical children’s book, only more existential. It’s a great comfort read, something that really lightens the mood; which is honestly what we need most this year. 

While I enjoyed this book very much, for purely subjective reasons, my personal rating is a little lower. This, I believe, is primarily due to personal circumstances that simply led to this book just not sitting right with me. I think that if I read under a calmer circumstance, I would have easily rated it higher, but as of late books such as this haven’t appealed to me. Regardless I’m interested in reading more by Russell in the future, as well as keeping up with the author’s releases. I recommend this book to anyone who just needs to escape for a bit in the more relaxing reading environment this book creates.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Inheritance Games Review (Book Tour)

The Inheritance Games Review (Book Tour)

By Jennifer Lynn Barnes 

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Print Length: 384

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery

Release Date September 1, 2020

This book is currently available on Amazon and B&N

Special thanks to Little, Brown Books and TheWriteReads for providing me with an ARC and allowing me to participate in this book tour.

Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why–or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch–and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes.

Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive. (Goodreads)

I believe I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve never been the biggest fan of mysteries. As of late, I’m wondering if that’s simply because I haven’t read enough of them. After all, a year ago I would have said the same thing about fantasy, but that’s now one of my most favourite genres. The Inheritance Games, in a way, maybe a wake-up call for me to pick up more mysteries. 

The Inheritance Games is honorarily the first YA mystery I’ve read and I have to say: I thoroughly enjoyed it. If it weren’t for certain life-responsibilities I would have read this book in one sitting, my attention was utterly rapt. Barnes shows an exceptional understanding of how to properly create suspense, making every little detail seeming like a possible clue. It’s hard to put down a book when you’ve convinced yourself you can solve part of the mystery in the next chapter; the desire to continue and know more seemingly endless. (And the book ends on a cliffhanger! Boy, isn’t that frustrating!) 

This book follows a young woman, Avery, as she discovers she has been left an immense fortune by an eccentric billionaire; all to the chagrin of his family. She soon finds out she may be a piece in yet another one of his puzzles, and as she falls into the spirals of this mystery we are treated with a fair amount of thrills and romance. There are so many questions, and the answers are in sight, but just out of grasp. 

I enjoyed following along with Avery and the Hawthorne brothers as they worked through puzzle after puzzle, finding some easier than others as I’m sure they did. The book was predictable enough to be a chill read, but with enough unpredictability to keep you turning the page. For romance lovers, the book definitely did not fall short on its romance, with a heart-pounding love-triangle that had you anticipating what came next almost as much as the mystery. The characters are charismatic and charming, it was easy to fall into their world. 

From what I understand this book and it’s upcoming sequel have been picked up to be adapted into a television series, or streaming series rather. While reading the book I was acutely aware of how well this book would translate into a serial television romance, and if the production follows through, trust I will be an early viewer.

Subjective Rating

Objective Rating

Final Rating

Legendborn Review

Legendborn Review

By Tracy Deonn

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Print Length: 512 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Release Date: September 15, 2020

Special thanks to Margaret K. McElderry Books and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Legendborn is available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

A flying demon feeding on human energies.

A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.

And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.

The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.
She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets—and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight. (Goodreads)

In the past year, I have read a number of Arthurian retellings and its quite easy for me to say that Legendborn is by far my favourite. It was practically unputdownable as it lead me through an emotional rollercoaster ride of sadness, anger, joy, and love. I found myself being so deeply involved in this book that I had to occasionally set it aside to absorb the plot and to calm the intense emotions I’d find myself feeling, mirroring that of characters in the book. I read a lotlike 110+  books by mid-September a lot— and this book was far and way one of the best books I’ve read this year. 

Legenborn boasts a well-crafted world with well-crafted characters and will make you feel everything from deep rage to unbridled joy. The protagonist, Bree Matthews, is truly a protagonist we’ve needed as she is the definition of black girl magic. She’s powerful, emotional, and unyielding; a literal force to be reckoned with. But even with great, unexpected power, she is one of the most relatable protagonist’s I’ve read in a while. 

Did I mention this book made me cry multiple times? Cause it did. 

Deonn flawlessly follows the beats of modern action-thrillers and presents us while a wholly entertaining twist on classic legends. Legendborn is a book for everyone. Those who love fantasy, those who love action, those who love romance, and those who love mystery. A lot of the struggles depicted in this book are very real, and the themes important. Legenborn highlights one’s roots, where one comes from and how their history affects them. It teaches about grief, and how it can hold us back but also propel us forward. 

We really need this book. I can’t tell you how important it’s become to me, and how monumental it will be in the lives of others. You need this book. So does your friend. And you’re mom. 

I don’t give out many five stars, or in this case five hearts. Five heart books are books I love so much I keep a physical copy in my personal library, which currently holds 44 books. This year, of the 116 books I’ve read (as of writing this) I have given 18 of those books five hearts. Legenborn will be the newest addition to my collection. 

Subjective Rating

Objective Rating

Final Rating

Kind of a Big Deal Review

Kind of a Big Deal Review

By Shannon Hale

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Print Length: 304 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy

Available for pre-order on Amazon and B&N

Special thanks to NetGalley and MacMillan/Roaring Brook Press for providing me with an ARC.

Josie Pie was born to be a star. So she dropped out of high school to pursue her Broadway dreams, but after months of failed auditions, she finds herself broke, beaten-down . . . and nannying in Missoula, Montana. Lonely and directionless, Josie checks out the local bookstore, looking for the ultimate escape.

And escape she does. Literally. She falls into the plots of her books, including a bodice ripper, a dystopian thriller, a YA romance, and more, all filled with swoony co-stars who just make her yearn to repair things with the boyfriend she left behind in NYC.

As her reality begins to unravel, what starts as a welcome break from her lackluster life soon begins to feel like a stifling nightmare—but is it too late for Josie to get back to the real world? (Goodreads)

Kind of A Big Deal is a short entertaining read that plays on the idea of books being a getaway for faraway fantastical worlds. It’s a fun concept that I’m sure every reader has daydreamed about but in a book form. Though, from my point of view, this story probably would have benefitted from being released in another form, such as a television series or film. In the form of a book, the effect of being transported into all these different stories fall short as the author doesn’t do the best job distinguishing the transitions even with the use of chapter breaks. 

Overall, the writing is lacklustre. The style of writing is stagnant throughout the book, which wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that some of the sections are meant to be from other fictional books. The writing is simple, which is good for a quick read but not much else. 

Honestly, for me, this book is one of those you pick up for a short bit of fun. It’s a way to break up the monotony of ones TBR with a quick and relatively lighthearted contemporary that can be read in one sitting. Will you read it more than once? Likely not. Will you regret reading it? Probably not.

Subjective Rating

Objective Rating

Final Rating