mini reviews // i read some contemporary books

So I read some contemporary books and obviously none of them were five stars.

I mean one of them got 4 stars!! BUT FANTASY IS STILL MY FAVE GENRE OKAY? I’m not changing my brand for anything.

FAR FROM THE TREE

ROBIN BENWAY
3.5 STARS

i haven’t enjoyed a book in a while i guess? and I ACTUALLY WANTED TO PICK THIS BOOK UP AND READ IT.

so that’s a miracle. (reading slump WHO?)

i liked this a lot more than i expected and i just love the found-family trope 4000 times more after reading this. 

the characters are all so precious. grace has just given her baby up for adoption, Maya’s parents are getting divorced, and Joaquin is dealing with years worth of traumatic foster parents…AND ALL THEIR STORIES WERE SO WELL CRAFTED IT MADE ME WANT TO CRY??? These characters genuinely felt so real and i want to hug them all. 

There were so many themes tackled here (teen-pregnancy, adoption, foster parents, guilt, slut-shaming and race).I love how it was pretty hard-hitting but also cute at the same time?? as someone with five siblings, the sibling dynamic was very well written and cute but also they’re annoying but also their loyal and have your back.

I think it’s just very real. The characters make so many bad decisions. For example, Maya shutting people out at every opportunity. Joaquin doing the same. I don’t know, there was just so many points in the book where I was like “oh that’s me” in each of the character’s stories.

normally i’d find these stories kinda cringey and too-soft but i just felt like it had the right balance between sappy moments, angry outbursts, and stupid characters doing stupid things.

my only main complaint is the writing was sometimes really awkward?? and it’s not a 5 stars, not because i had major gripes, but because it’s not anything revolutionary, or amazing, or profound? it’s just this quiet little book ya know? also contemporaries hardly ever get 5 stars from me so,,, take my rating with a pinch of salt!

i would recommend if you’re looking for a refreshing, wholesome contemporary that’s about family!! 

MY SO CALLED BOLLYWOOD LIFE

NISHA SHARMA
2.5 STARS

I don’t know to start of this review without saying, that we don’t get enough stories like this. All the Asian books i’ve been reading are 1) stunning Asian inspired fantasies or 2) emotionally heavy contemporary books about identity, mental illness and culture. Maybe I’ve been looking in the wrong places, but it made me so happy to see an Indian main character being caught up in harmless high school drama and romance because…for so long fluffy contemporary has been so WHITE. People of colour have so little chances to have stories that are very light-hearted and fun. I just want to us to be able to write a contemporary that isn’t about the racism and prejudice we deal with today, and just about being a stupid teenager. Because for so long, we haven’t had that.

For most of my childhood and even now, I’ve felt so ashamed of my culture. I’ve always wanted to keep it a secret or hide away from it.So it made me so happy to see Winnie in this book being so unapologetically indian,  Even though I’m not indian, I am pakistani, so there’s a lot of culture that I could definitely see myself in from the dishes to the clothes – my heart felt so warm reading it. I loved seeing her Nani, mum and dad being so close to Winnie and understanding her. I so want more positive desi parent rep because it’s practically non-existent.

If you’re looking for something hard-hitting and serious, this book isn’t for you. This is about drama and crushes and is super melodramatic, crazy and cheesy. And to be honest, I am not a fan of romance-focused books so I didn’t really care for the love triangle in this. I thought Dev was sweet, and Raj needs to sort himself OUT (dude, seriously, you’re clingy as hell) but the romance wasn’t really something I liked (And considering romance is the main plot…I can’t really rate this too high) Like there’s no reason Winnie falls for Dev. It’s just “oh i like you and want to kiss you”. And the whole drama with Jenny was also pretty pathetic.

Honestly, this book isn’t anything amazing. But I’m so glad authors of colour are making their way into the publishing industry and are allowed to write “trashy” books, just like white authors. There are some super cheesy scenes in this book, and it gets so corny at points, but it’s really fun to read, and if you have one brain cell and are looking for something to pick up, read this! 

If you liked this, you might like: Not The Girls You’re Looking For, Love, Hate And Other Filters and, When Dimple Met Rishi

HIGHLY ILLOGICAL BEHAVIOUR

JOHN WALEY
3.75 STARS

OKAY THIS MADE ME CRY

Maybe I was just feeling emotionally unstable at the point of this reading, but I genuinely care about Solomon so much? Like I don’t MADLY LOVE any of these characters, but I definitely hold a great amount of affection for them (look at me not being heartless). I genuinely wanted to protect Solomon, he’s just such a geek and also has anxiety which affects him so, so much. Clarke is not really developed but he’s super sweet! Lisa wants to cure Solomon for a project…BUT she learns and changes, which is always better than a perfect character in my opinion. (in this house, we stan growth and development)

it’s just so much about friendship, ya know? Like it just makes you feel GOOD. i’m wishing for a wholesome as a friendship as Lisa, Clarke and Solomon. THEY’RE SUCH GEEKS!!! 

Why don’t I rate this higher? IT’S SO SHORT!! And therefore doesn’t really give much time for me make room in my heart for these characters? And nothing much happeeensss. But also it’s a really nice quick, easy read so if you wanted to get out of a reading slump…this book is right here.

So: the character’s aren’t perfect, love and friendship doesn’t cure mental illness, panic attacks suck, teenagers can have good relationships with their parents, Lisa is a bit of a jerk but no one’s perfect, and I love this trio for being so pure!! (I read this a while ago and I don’t remember much HAHA)

SUMMER BIRD BLUE

AKEMI DAWN BOWMAN
1.5 STARS

I haven’t seen anyone really dislike this book.Even the most critical reviewers I follow. And i’m just surprised by that. (There’s only TWO 1-star reviews for this book?)

IT WAS SO BORING AND REPETITIVE. We spend most of the time in Rumi’s head…and this book is REALLY long, there’s just pages and pages of Rumi thinking the same thing but in different words. And of course, Rumi is going to be grieving over her sister but the entire book felt like all Telling and not showing. We just kept being told about how much her sister mean to Rumi. Yes, we got memories (which were cute) but then we still get an entire monologue of Rumi rambling about metaphors of how much she missed her sister. I think overly-emotional books just don’t Do It for me – I had the same problem with Girl Made of Stars. I just find it really boring to read about sadness all the time. It doesn’t make me sad or cry. Personally, I like when there’s an actual plot and the sadness is tucked away underneath it, subtly talked about. But this entire book was GRIEF and I just found it really…boring

What I did like? Rumi and Mr Wantabe’s friendship was so unexpected BUT SO BEAUTIFUL AND DSSKFJHDSA:LFLKASFJ. And I’m glad that there was questioning + ace/aro rep because it’s rarely discussed in books, so that was nice! And the theme of music was really beautiful to read about.

All the characters just felt so one dimensional, even Kai, and everything is so boring and bland. I wasn’t entertained and I felt the book was so long but quick because it was just the same thing again and again and not much else? Unpopular opinion.

THE TRUTH ABOUT KEEPING SECRETS

SAVANNAH BROWN
4 STARS

SO SAVANNAH BROWN!!! At one point in my life, I was obsessed with her. Maybe I still am. After loving her spoken word, i was so excited about her debut novel. And I wasn’t disappointed at all.

I loved Sydney and June’s relationship SO MUCH. I haven’t read slow-burn like this for so long, and it was so beautiful and GOOD. It’s like IS JUNE FLIRTING OR NOT?!?! Will they? Won’t they? My favourite f/f romance PERIOD!!!

And god, I am in love with Sydney’s narrative. I read this a while ago, but I just remember her voice was so perfectly how a teenager would think!! This has some TWISTS that you won’t expect, and every time I think about this book I just feel heavy because I just remember how amazingly it tackles grief.

Everyone’s sleeping on this book (oh yeah because it’s a UK release haha) but anyways you should pick this up because it’s just REALLY GOOD OKAY?? (Please, please add this to your TBR)

Have you read any of these books? What do you think about being writers of colours writing non-issue books? Have you added The Truth about Keeping Secrets to your TBR (YES!)?? What contemporaries have you read recently?

ilsa

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25 thoughts on “mini reviews // i read some contemporary books”

  1. I read Far From the Tree and I thought about it for two weeks! Longest book hangover I’ve ever had so far.
    And writers of any color can write WHATEVER THEY WANT. They don’t have to write about personal issues or anything! Just write what you want.

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  2. OH I’m sad you didn’t like SBB :// but yeah it makes sense what you said about not liking emotional sadness-heavy books as much, but that’s good to know so you can avoid it in the future! ❤ and fhdshfs I had no idea you had FIVE siblings I thought you had like two at most!!! but I'm very excited to get to Far From the Tree (even though I literally knew that None of what you said was in it except for the family themes)

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  3. Ahhh I felt sort of similarly about Summer Bird Blue, unfortunately. Even though I rated it 3 stars bc I enjoyed the exploration of Rumi’s sexuality, it did feel extremely repetitive and unstructured. BUT I am glad you’ve found some books recently that you’ve enjoyed, even if perhaps not as much as you’d have liked! 😉

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  4. EXCUSE ME The Truth About Keeping Secrets sounds AWESOME. Thanks so much for the rec, just added to my TBR!

    I’m so glad that My So-Called made you feel seen. That is amazing. I tried listening to the book and just couldn’t get into it (same issues as you, I think), but it’s definitely a momentous thing to have a book like this going more mainstream… I’m so happy for it!

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  5. Ahh lovely reviews! I’m so happy you overall liked Far From The Tree, it’s such a lovely book and it made me emotional and I loved these characters so very much ❤ I'm with you about Highly Illogical Behaviour, I rated it a bit higher than you did but it's just soooooo short, it's a quick and great read, but it also could have used way more pages haha 🙂
    Wonderful reviews! ❤

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    1. Far From the Tree was such a pleasant surprise and I’m so glad I enjoyed it! And yes?? If Highly Illogical Behaviour was just a biiit longer I’m sure I could’ve got unhealthily attatched to the main characters?? thank you so much!

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  6. My brand is probably a cross of classics, fantasy, and historical fiction, so I totally relate to you on not finding most contemporary novels to be 5 stars, and that’s probably why I don’t enjoy most YA as much as everyone else seems to :’) I think the last contemporary book I read was the Mindwar trilogy by Andrew Klavan–in March haha! These are some fab reviews xx

    brineandbooks.com

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  7. Ooh, I have been interested in Far From the Tree and your review makes me want to read it more. I am a total sucker for family stories. Also Highly Illogical Behavior has caught my eye. Did someone say FRIENDSHIP???
    Recently I have read several contemporaries, all of which I enjoyed, but some more than others. (Also I am having a crisis because fantasy has always been my favorite but now there are so many contemporaries that I just love? And it confuses my brain.) My favorites of the recent bunch are House Arrest and Knock Out, which I think are technically Middle Grade. They are written in verse and they are SO BEAUTIFUL. I was wary about the whole verse thing, but it was actually really effective and the characters were so real and wonderful and I loved them. They are also super easy to read because less words on each page.

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  8. I loved reading your thoughts on all of these books so much! Your writing style is just so easy to consume WOW. but I’m sad that you didn’t enjoy SBB much 😦 I gave it four stars initially, but then I realized that the plot was a little repetitive. And The Truth About Keeping Secrets has been on my TBR since it released! I really have to get to it because I’ve been hearing amazing things 💚

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  9. im going to pretend you didn’t rate far from the tree 3.5 stars bc otherwise i’ll cry, so moving on
    i thought my so called bollywood life was a fun, light, easy read too. it wasn’t anything amazing but it was nice to read a book so unapologetically indian. OKAY I FEEL YOU on summer blue bird (even though i didn’t dislike it as much as you did) but there was something so repetitive and detached about it that left me feeling :/

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