Contemporary · Romance

By Your Side by Kasie West

I’m a Kasie West fan. I haven’t read everything by her, but I’ve liked everything by her that I’ve read. Comparing the books by her that I’ve read, By Your Side didn’t wow me as much as The Distance Between Us or Pivot Point did,Β but it’s still a nice read that brought me out of a reading slump.

The romance and storyline in here do not offer anything new – two teenagers who are complete opposites end up stuck in a library together. Autumn is a typical Good Girl, who may not be the most popular, but has a good group of friends, and is seems to be well-liked. What her friends don’t know is that she also has anxiety, and in order to hide this from them, she’s known to disappear at times. Continue reading “By Your Side by Kasie West”


One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

This is one of the titles I’ve wanted to read ever since before the hardback was published, but somehow never got around to. Perhaps because not enough people were talking about it online, which is a really not a good reason not to pick up a book I’m already interested in anyway! The reason I was interested is the title, which is also the title of one of my favourite Rufus Wainwright songs.

I started this book prepared to find a story that didn’t have anything to do with Rufus Wainwright, and was pleasantly surprised to find otherwise. The main character is Alek Khederian, an Armenian American who grew up in a very, Continue reading “One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva”

Contemporary · Romance

#famous by Jilly Gagnon

I have to admit, I’m a complete sucker for so many things that are now YA tropes – which is precisely why I can’t seem to stop reading YA books. One of the tropes I like? Teens dealing with fame, especially insta-fame. And I do like happy cute romances as much as I like my angsty issue books. So, #famous got me from the moment I saw the title and cover.

Inspired by the story of “Alex from Target” – which I had to google because I’ve never heard of him until now – #famous is about a smart, funny, but terribly insecure (and rather unpopular) girl named Rachel, who has a crush of a popular kid named Kyle. Kyle isn’t as funny or as interesting as Rachel (and he knows it), but he is extremely cute. When Rachel “flits” (this book’s version of twitter) a photo of Kyle to her best friend with a particularly embarrassing hashtag, the only result she expects is for her friend to cheer up. She didn’t expect her flit to be reflitted… nearly half a million times over. Continue reading “#famous by Jilly Gagnon”


That Thing We Call a Heart by Sheba Karim

I started this for the “Religious MC” square on my #AsianLitBingo, but now I’m not sure if it really counts, because the MC did not consider herself religious. In fact, I think most of the people I know IRL would consider this – and several other books I’ve read featuring American Muslim characters – Β a “bad” representation of Muslims. I do not share this opinion. In fact, I found myself completely in love with this book, despite the fact that I think the cover’s kind of unfortunate. I don’t like real people on covers, and this particular cover makes this book look like it’s a depressing tragedy, rather than the amazing coming-of-age book that it is.

I love that this book shows that there are different kinds of Muslims, that some may be more religious than others, and that some may interpret things differently from others. Maybe it’s the fact that I spent most of my younger days feeling the way Shabnam did about religion. IΒ live in a Muslim country, and while we have our share of liberals, the majority are the type to judge others on their decision not to wear the hijab, who think nothing of policies that discriminate against non-Muslims, who uphold cultural misogyny and racism and homophobia in the name of religion. Continue reading “That Thing We Call a Heart by Sheba Karim”

Contemporary · Romance

Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse

Sophia had lived in Tokyo for four years with her mother and sister, but at the beginning of this novel, she had precisely seven days left in the city. She planned to spend her remaining days ignoring the fact that she was leaving her two best friends for a place where she doubted she would be able to make new friends. And, to make matters worse, Jamie Foster-Collins moved back to the city. Sophia and Jame did not part in good circumstances, and she thought that his arrival ruined her last week in Tokyo, but of course, this being a contemporary romance, they fall in love instead.

Okay. I love my contemporary romances, but I could have easily passed on this one if it wasn’t for the setting. When was the last time I read a contemporary YA set in Japan? Um, never, I think. And so, despite having my doubts (it’s still a white-people-falling-in-love-in-Japan story, after all) I put this high up on my TBR list. Continue reading “Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse”


The Inside of Out by Jenn Marie Thorne

insideofoutA major reason I wanted to read this book was because of the cover, and the fact that it has an Asian girl as one of the three characters depicted on it. Oh, and rainbow colours, implying that it’s quiltbag YA. Which it is… and yet, it’s written from the point of view of the straight best friend. I have to admit, there were a lot of moments that made me want to read this book from Hannah’s point of view instead of Daisy’s, but the point is that – Daisy is the straight best friend who made Hannah’s queerness all about herself, instead.

The thing about Daisy is that she is annoying and selfish and insensitive and she totally appropriates asexuality to further her own cause. However, like I expected her to, and hoped she would, she does grow as a person throughout the story. I think I would’ve been fine even if she didn’t, because (1) I appreciate the fact that Jenn Marie Thorne didn’t shy away from writing an unlikable character, and (2) her character helps drive home the message about different kinds of privilege, and straight privilege in particular. Continue reading “The Inside of Out by Jenn Marie Thorne”

Contemporary · Romance

Been Here All Along & No Holding Back

These were originally from my zine, where I wrote quick first impressions on all the recent(ish) YA I’ve been reading. I probably would end up posting more of those in this blog, too, since these days it’s harder to find the time to… take my time. Ha. I wish I’m back in college sometimes. Who would’ve guessed that having to read 3 novels, 1 play and 10 short stories, memorize a monologue, and write a bunch of essays in the same week, as the good old days of “having free time”?

Anyway, I’ve been interested in the YA romance imprint Swoon Reads for awhile, and am currently highlighting them at the store. These are two of the more interesting ones by them I’ve read recently! Continue reading “Been Here All Along & No Holding Back”