Book Review: Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: AmazonTBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: January 7, 2020
Source: Borrowed

When eighteen-year-old Ever Wong’s parents send her from Ohio to Taiwan to study Mandarin for the summer, she finds herself thrust among the very over-achieving kids her parents have always wanted her to be, including Rick Woo, the Yale-bound prodigy profiled in the Chinese newspapers since they were nine—and her parents’ yardstick for her never-measuring-up life.

Unbeknownst to her parents, however, the program is actually an infamous teen meet-market nicknamed Loveboat, where the kids are more into clubbing than calligraphy and drinking snake-blood sake than touring sacred shrines.

Free for the first time, Ever sets out to break all her parents’ uber-strict rules—but how far can she go before she breaks her own heart? 

When I first read the synopsis for Loveboat, Taipei, I really wanted to love it. I’m all for diverse stories being published, and this one, set at a study abroad program in Taipei, sounded so interesting! Unfortunately, regardless of how much I wanted to love it, I had a number of problems with the story.

The first problem I had was that this book is basically just a racier version of American Panda. Let’s break this down. Both books feature a Chinese main character born to immigrant parents who have sacrificed a lot to get the main character where they are. Both books feature a main character whose parents want her to be a doctor, and both books feature characters that don’t want to be doctors because of a phobia of blood/germs. Both books feature characters who would actually rather pursue a career dancing professionally, but both sets of parents do not support this career choice. Where Loveboat, Taipei deviates from American Panda is in the middle section of the book, in which the author attempts to tackle about 1500 issues, which I’ll address below.

There was far too much going on in this book. The book is 432 pages, which is pretty long for a YA contemporary, and it’s only that long because the author tries to tackle so many different issues. There was no reason for there to be so many dramatic events in this book, especially given that few of the events are ever resolved. You can’t just throw a ton of issues at a book haphazardly and expect everything to work out in the end.

A list of things that happen in this book, many of which could be triggering to some readers:depression, suicidal ideation/threat/attempt, graphic knife injury, abusive parents, abusive relationship (physical & emotional), leaked nude photos, victim blaming, racism, sex (not at all realistically portrayed, in my opinion), cheating, parent injured in car accident, very questionable drag scene that comes out of nowhere

Finally, everything wraps up far too neatly and far too easily at the end. Ever is unrealistically mature about everything, forgiving everyone for things that should definitely not be forgiven and conveniently achieving several goals she’d set for herself with seemingly few roadblocks. All of the problems are just forgotten, probably (hopefully??) to be addressed in the (entirely unnecessary) sequel.

I can see how some readers might enjoy this story, but it wasn’t for me.


Have you read Loveboat, Taipei? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Mini-Reviews: The Vanishing Stair, 19 Love Songs, & The Wicked King

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonTBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: August 15, 2017
Source: Borrowed

All Stevie Bell wanted was to find the key to the Ellingham mystery, but instead she found her classmate dead. And while she solved that murder, the crimes of the past are still waiting in the dark. Just as Stevie feels she’s on the cusp of putting it together, her parents pull her out of Ellingham academy.

For her own safety they say. She must move past this obsession with crime. Now that Stevie’s away from the school of topiaries and secret tunnels, and her strange and endearing friends, she begins to feel disconnected from the rest of the world. At least she won’t have to see David anymore. David, who she kissed. David, who lied to her about his identity—son of despised politician Edward King. Then King himself arrives at her house to offer a deal: He will bring Stevie back to Ellingham immediately. In return, she must play nice with David. King is in the midst of a campaign and can’t afford his son stirring up trouble. If Stevie’s at school, David will stay put.

The tantalizing riddles behind the Ellingham murders are still waiting to be unraveled, and Stevie knows she’s so close. But the path to the truth has more twists and turns than she can imagine—and moving forward involves hurting someone she cares for. In New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson’s second novel of the Truly Devious series, nothing is free, and someone will pay for the truth with their life.

Much like with Truly Devious, I wasn’t really fully convinced by The Vanishing Stair until partway through. I was worried that this was going to be a filler book, one where the characters sort of just wander around looking for clues until we hit the final book in the trilogy, where everything finally happens. That worry ended up being unwarranted, because a ton of stuff happens in this book!

With any mystery, I’m kind of hesitant to get into details because I don’t want to accidentally spoil anything. I just want to say that Maureen Johnson has clearly thought everything through in this series and planned out every detail in depth. I can’t wait to find out what will happen next!


19 Love Songs by David Levithan
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: January 7, 2020
Source: Borrowed

The New York Times bestselling author of Every DaySomeday, and Two Boys Kissing is back with a short story collection about love–perfect for Valentine’s Day or year-round reading!

A resentful member of a high school Quiz Bowl team with an unrequited crush.

A Valentine’s Day in the life of Every Day‘s protagonist “A.”

A return to the characters of Two Boys Kissing.

19 Love Songs, from New York Times bestselling author David Levithan, delivers all of these stories and more. Born from Levithan’s tradition of writing a story for his friends each Valentine’s Day, this collection brings all of them to his readers for the first time. With fiction, nonfiction, and a story in verse, there’s something for every reader here.

Witty, romantic, and honest, teens (and adults) will come to this collection not only on Valentine’s Day, but all year round. 

I’ve been reading David Levithan’s books since I was a teenager myself, so when I saw that he had a new collection of short stories out, I had to read it. Levithan has written some of my all-time favorite books (The Lover’s Dictionary, You Know Me Well) as well as some books that I’ve really disliked (Every Day, the Dash & Lily books). He’s also written a ton of books that I’ve felt indifferent about, and I won’t link all of those reviews here, but they’re all on my “all reviews” page.

The point is, I can go either way on Levithan’s writing, and I went both ways on the stories in this collection. When they were good, they were really good. I loved the story about Taylor Swift fanfiction, the story about being snowed in, the quiz bowl story, and the Santa story. I also loved all of the music references. The stories I didn’t love mostly left me bored. This isn’t really Levithan’s fault, because I’m sure there are plenty of people who connect more with those stories than I did.

Overall, I think this evens out to a three-star read for me. If you’re into Levithan’s writing, a lot characters from his previous books make appearances in these stories, so you might be pleasantly surprised.


The Wicked King by Holly Black
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
Source: Borrowed

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.


After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

Well, 89% of people on Goodreads have given this book either 4 or 5 stars, and I am not one of those people. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate this series or anything. I gave the first book four stars, mostly because it really grabbed me toward the end, but I definitely thought it had a rough start.

In The Wicked King, I had many of the same problems as I had in The Cruel Prince. Jude is less annoying than she was in the first book, but she’s equally dumb. Cardan is still mostly mean to Jude (that’s the point, I know) and I didn’t buy their “romance” at all. I found much of the plot boring, and the big plot twist at the end seemed so in-character for everyone that I wasn’t really surprised at all. In 336 pages, very little happens that actually advances the plot.

And yet. For however much I disliked this book, I still want to read The Queen of Nothing to find out how everything ends.


Have you read any of these books? Have you read any good YA recently?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: Consent by Donna Freitas

Consent by Donna Freitas
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: August 21, 2018
Source: Borrowed

In this “compelling and disturbing” true story (Rebecca Traister), a young woman’s toxic mentor develops a dark, stalking obsession that disrupts her career — and her peace of mind. Donna Freitas has lived two lives. In one life, she is a well-published author and respected scholar who has traveled around the country speaking about Title IX, consent, religion, and sex on college campuses. In the other, she is a victim, a woman who suffered and suffers still because she was stalked by her graduate professor for more than two years.

As a doctoral candidate, Freitas loved asking big questions, challenging established theories and sinking her teeth into sacred texts. She felt at home in the library, and safe in the book-lined offices of scholars whom she admired. But during her first year, one particular scholar became obsessed with Freitas’ academic enthusiasm. He filled her student mailbox with letters and articles. He lurked on the sidewalk outside her apartment. He called daily and left nagging voicemails. He befriended her mother, and made himself comfortable in her family’s home. He wouldn’t go away. While his attraction was not overtly sexual, it was undeniably inappropriate, and most importantly–unwanted.

In Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention, Donna Freitas delivers a forensic examination of the years she spent stalked by her professor, and uses her nightmarish experience to examine the ways in which we stigmatize, debate, and attempt to understand consent today.

This is a hard review for me to write, not because of the subject matter, but because of the way this story is told. Although I think this book tells an important story that needs to be told, I have a number of issues with the way Freitas delivers it, and the messages that she — likely unintentionally — sends in the process. I will get into all of this soon, but I worry that, in writing this book, she has sent the exact opposite of the message she was hoping for.

There may be some spoilers below.

Let’s start with the premise, which is absolutely terrifying. When the author was a college student, she was stalked by a professor. As many students do, she went to his office hours during her first semester. She found the subject matter of his course interesting, and he misinterpreted that as her wanting to form a personal relationship with him. Things escalated to the point that he was inundating her with phone calls on her personal landline and letters to her parents’ house, information he would have only been able to find by accessing her confidential records. He struck up a friendship with her dying mother, only to use it to his advantage. To complicate matters even further, he was a priest at a Catholic university that was dead-set on keeping everything under wraps.

Before I get into my criticisms of this book, I want to make it clear that I think what Freitas went through was absolutely awful. I don’t think that anyone should be subjected to the kind of behavior that she lived with. Her professor is 100% at fault for everything that happened, regardless of any time she willingly spent with him when they first met. With all of that said, I do have a few problems with this book.

I think that the first point I want to make is how disjointed everything is. Freitas tells her story in the most roundabout way. She’s in grad school being stalked by her professor, and then she takes us back to high school when she kissed a bunch of boys, then we’re back in grad school and she repeats herself, and then she’s talking about how she’s the only female on the entire campus who ever dressed nicely, and then she’s back with another weird phone call from the professor. It was almost as if she thought she didn’t have enough to say on the actual topic of the book, so she decided to fill up space with a bunch of random asides.

The second point I want to make is about her lack of action. It infuriated me. I can understand feeling trapped. I can understand feeling powerless. But her professor did so many creepy things, and people noticed. He’d call her parents’ house, and when her family asked how he got the number, she’d lie and say she gave it to him. He’d show up somewhere unexpected and she’d lie and say she invited him. She had so, so many chances to tell even one person that something wasn’t right, and she made excuse after excuse for why she couldn’t. He’s a priest, so he doesn’t mean it like that. I don’t want to get him in trouble since he’s probably just being friendly. My mom is sick and she’s super religious and I don’t want to upset her. Okay, so don’t tell the school. Don’t tell your mom. But tell a friend. Tell your boyfriend. Tell someone.

In the end, more than sending a message that this behavior was wrong or needed to be challenged, I think that Freitas sends a message that the Catholic church is corrupt. I don’t think that she necessarily meant to do this. But after going on about the stalking and harassment for 300 pages or so, the whole thing is never resolved. The Catholic university and Catholic church end up giving her some money and telling her to sign an NDA to make it all go away.

I’m not saying that Freitas’ experiences aren’t valid or that her pain from this situation isn’t real. I can’t even imagine the recovery from something like this. But I feel like this book would have been much better if it had included any kind of resources on what you should do in this kind of situation. Freitas mentions, probably dozens of times, that she lectures on Title IX and abusive behavior. I imagine this means that she shares resources with the audience. That she offers some sort of advice for who you can talk to, where you can go, what you can do to get out of a situation like this. The book was, sadly, lacking any of that. It’s just a sad story of a young woman being stalked and harassed to the point that it effectively ended her career before it even began. The story feels incomplete, and it mostly just left me feeling disappointed.


Have you read Consent? Have you read any good books on Title IX?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown [SPOILERS]

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: AmazonTBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: August 30, 2016
Source: Borrowed

Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.

Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?

“She told me forgiveness was a virtue and stubbornness would block the road to happiness.”

Please brace yourself, because I have some thoughts on this one. Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit has been on my TBR for years, but I’ve consistently passed it up in favor of books that sounded more exciting. Well, I finally sat down for a listen, and… I have a lot to say.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MANY SPOILERS!

I’m going to start out with the positives. There aren’t many, but they’re what kept this book from getting just one star. First, I felt like the actual writing was good. Not the progression of the plot or the characterization, which I’ll talk about a lot later in this review, but the flow of the language and dialogue. And second, more importantly, I feel like the exploration of homosexuality and religion is a topic that’s both important and uncommon in YA fiction. There’s a scene where Joanna goes off on some close-minded people who claim that the Bible says homosexuality is a sin by citing the exact verse they’re referring to and the other things it prohibits, like tattoos and shellfish. On that topic, at least, I feel that Brown did an excellent job.

Now for the negatives. There are a lot.

Joanna Gordon, or maybe Gugliemi, depending on who you ask, is an out and proud lesbian living in Atlanta. Her father is a well-known preacher, which some might see as a source of conflict, but Joanna feels that her father preaches acceptance and love, so it’s a nonissue. Joanna has some wild and crazy friends in Atlanta — Dana, in particular — and she feels like her life is going pretty well. When her father marries Elizabeth, his third wife, things start going downhill. First, Joanna gets the news that they’re moving from the big city of Atlanta to the small town of Rome. Then her dad tells her she’ll need to keep quiet about her sexuality because her new grandma-in-law is super homophobic. (Yes, the main conflict of this book happens in the first few pages.)

So… hold on a second. Joanna’s father, Mr. I Preach Love And Acceptance, decides to force his own daughter back in the closet because his new mother-in-law doesn’t like gay people? After being totally accepting of her for her entire life up until that point? Was he out of character for the first chapter or the rest of the book? I can’t tell.

And Joanna! She’s so sure of herself at the beginning of the book, so secure in her sexuality, and she barely puts up a fight before being like, “Ugh, fine, I’ll pretend to be straight.” I thought that maybe, just maybe, the author would make up for this by having Joanna rebel a little in secret. Maybe tell her new friends that she’s a lesbian and just ask them not to say anything. Maybe outright defy her father. But no. She decides that she has to go so far as getting a pretend boyfriend to follow along with her dad’s plan. All for grandma-in-law, who’s a terrible person.

Mary Carlton is another of the main characters. She’s also Joanna’s love interest. She’s the golden child of Rome, Georgia. She’s popular, parents love her, she’s active in the church, she’s an all-around great girl. She throws Joanna some vibes, which Joanna finds confusing, because for all we know, at the beginning of the book, Mary Carlton is dating a boy. It quickly becomes apparent to Joanna, though, that Mary Carlton is very much not interested in this boy and is very possibly interested in her. Mary Carlton isn’t an all-around bad character, but she does do some pretty problematic things, none of which are really ever called out. First, she treats her brother pretty badly, but more on him later. Second, and more importantly to my rant, she attempts to force Joanna out of the closet on multiple occasions. It doesn’t matter that Joanna was out in Atlanta. In Rome, she’s not. I understand that, after years of hiding, Mary Carlton finally feels ready to come out. I understand her wanting to shout from the rooftops that she’s in love. But that does not give her the right to force someone else to come out.

Mary Carlton’s twin brother, Barnum Bailey (no, seriously), becomes one of Joanna’s best friends in Rome. He and Joanna meet in the office when he’s assigned to show her around the school on her first day. Clearly, if he’s capable of doing that, he’s not the child everyone in this book makes him out to be. By the end of the book, Barnum (or B.T.B., as he’s often called) is unable to have even a single conversation without a reference to elephants (his favorite animal). I get that he was born with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. I get that he has some intellectual disabilities. That doesn’t mean he never matured past kindergarten. He made it to high school and he’s able to function on his own, so maybe act like it.

Finally, Dana. As I mentioned, Dana is Joanna’s best friend from Atlanta. She seems to have both no self-awareness and no regard for others. When confronted about hooking up with a much older woman right out in the open at a wedding, she says something about how she’s not going to force herself back into the closet to make other people comfortable. First of all, can we stop with the teenagers hooking up with much older people? I have seen this so much lately and it really worries me. A normal thirty-year-old is not going to be interested in hooking up with a high school student. Second of all, going back into the closet wasn’t the point, Dana. Respect was the point. If you’re going to hook up with someone, at least have the courtesy to do it in private. Another problematic thing Dana does throughout the course of this book is threaten to “revoke Joanna’s queer card” if she doesn’t “prove how gay she is.” Um, Joanna being gay has absolutely nothing to do with the number of people she hooks up with or what she’s done with them and everything to do with how she feels inside. Third, and perhaps most upsetting, is Dana’s constant manipulation of Joanna. I hate seeing people fall victim to manipulation and I get so frustrated when I can’t stop it, even when it’s a fictional character. It was so obvious that Dana had a crush on Joanna, even if she didn’t want to admit it, and was subtly influencing Joanna’s decisions to get the best possible outcome for herself. This is illustrated during the really uncomfortable scene where Dana ponders (out loud) why she and Joanna have never hooked up and then makes a move on her. It’s just so… icky. Dana was my least favorite character in this book by far.

Okay, so now that I have my character rants out of the way, I’m moving on to a rant on the romance. I’ve seen a ton of reviews calling the romance cute, and I just don’t agree. It was fine, I guess, but it was nothing special. I didn’t have a problem with the romance itself, but we got this big build-up where Joanna wonders whether she’s reading Mary Carlton’s signals correctly, they admit they like each other, and then *boom* they’re on top of each other. I mean, it was obvious that Mary Carlton had feelings for Joanna. We knew from the narration how Joanna felt about Mary Carlton. But it was just kind of like… tension followed by declaration of love followed by clothes falling off. I guess that might happen in adult life sometimes, but does that really happen in high school?

While I’m on the topic of the romance, I really don’t understand why Joanna couldn’t just tell Mary Carlton about the promise she’d made to her dad. It was an unreasonable promise, for sure, but I fully believe that Mary Carlton would have understood and would have been less pushy about Joanna coming out. And this isn’t a case of “oh no, nobody can know my secret,” because literally one of the first things Joanna does after meeting her pretend boyfriend is tell him that she’s gay. Instead, she just tells lie after lie to Mary Carlton, avoiding questions about why they can’t go public with their relationship and saying that she’s not ready to come out yet. And, keep in mind, Joanna tells all of these lies while repeatedly saying that she doesn’t lie, which makes it so much worse.

There’s also a ton of homophobia in this book, and for the most part, Joanna is the only one who calls it out. Except not really, because she’s determined to follow her dad’s rule to stay in the closet, and clearly, if she were to speak out about homophobia, everyone would know she’s gay. That was sarcasm, in case you couldn’t tell. Straight people can (and definitely should) speak out against homophobia. Anyway, I’m a heterosexual adult and it made me uncomfortable. I can only imagine how I’d feel if I were reading this book as an LGBT teenager.

In the end, the moral of the story is to forgive. The quote that I bolded at the top of this review is said by Mary Carlton near the end of the book. She’s found out about Joanna’s lies, she’s been randomly put in this really unhealthy relationship with another girl (which she thankfully extracts herself from), she’s had a good cry, and she comes back to Joanna saying that her mom told her she needs to forgive people. I have shared this PSA before, but you do not need to forgive anyone. By all means, if it’ll make you feel better, if it’ll give you closure, if you feel like it was truly a mistake and you’re ready to try again, forgive someone. But you do not need to forgive people who’ve hurt you in order to be happy. You have every right to be mad. You have every right to be hurt. You have every right to never speak to that person again. Life is too short to keep putting up with people who hurt you.

And that brings me, in sort of a convoluted way, to my final point. All of the conflict in this book began because grandma-in-law was homophobic, and rather than tell her to shut up, all the adults in her life were like, “Yes, let’s make Joanna feel terrible about herself so grandma can continue living in her bubble.” I’m not advocating being rude to grandmas, but I think it’s perfectly reasonable to say something like, “You know what, grandma? Joanna likes girls and that’s not going to change. I’m sorry if that makes you feel uncomfortable, but I can’t ask her to change who she is to make you happy.”

Overall, I feel like this was a good concept that just spectacularly failed in execution. This book gets an extra star for the exploration of faith and homosexuality, but that’s all. I definitely do not recommend.


Have you read Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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ARC Review: All the F*cking Mistakes by Gigi Engle

All the F*cking Mistakes by Gigi Engle
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: January 21, 2020
Source: ARC via Netgalley

Come As You Are meets How to Date Men When You Hate Men in this sex handbook for the millennial feminist on how to own your body and sexuality, and use that confidence to take charge of your life

“This bold, sex-positive book delivers on its promise.” —Publishers Weekly

Stop Apologizing for Your Sexuality and Take Charge of Your Life

If you’ve ever wished you had a big sister or older cousin who could show you all the ropes of womanhood, look no further: Gigi Engle has done it all and is here to tell you all about it in All the F*cking Mistakes, a practical handbook for all the slutty and wanna-be-slutty women out there. It is the ultimate sex-talk book, demystifying female sexuality without any of the awkwardness of “the talk.” From learning how to take back your confidence in a world full of slut shaming, to discovering and owning your sexual empowerment through masturbation, to demanding the love you really deserve, this book is an ode to the women of the world who deserve to be empowered, sexually and otherwise, without guilt.

Offering bite-sized lessons that incorporate Gigi’s own special brand of no-nonsense advice to provide clarity and guidance on all things slutty, sexually normative and non-normative, and everything that falls between the cracks of these brackets, this book is your how-to guide to living your sexy AF, fabulous life.

This book sounded so promising, and when I got an email from St. Martin’s asking if I’d like to review it, I was ready. This ended up being less of the feminist guidebook it claims to be and more like your drunk friend screaming at you that “the best way to get over someone is to get under someone new.” In short, not my kind of book. But it’s an ARC, so I read it anyway.

The book isn’t all bad. I’m going to start with some things that I liked and then I’ll move on to my rants.

First of all, I loved Gigi’s stance on cheating. She hates it. She thinks it’s a symptom of deeper problems in a relationship because you wouldn’t cheat on someone you truly loved and cared about. Like, the thought wouldn’t even occur to you. I agree.

Gigi also says that if someone cheats on you, you need to get out of that relationship, because it’s all you’ll ever think about. I agree with that too. Cheating is an active decision to sabotage a relationship. I love this quote:

The “I’m so sorry! It just happened!” excuse is not a fucking excuse. Don’t try to tell me that this was a mistake. A mistake is dropping your phone and cracking the screen. A mistake is the barista using whole milk instead of 2 percent. A mistake is wearing bright blue underwear with a thin heather-gray dress. A mistake is overcooking the chicken. Fucking someone is not a mistake.

I liked her stance on feminism. She’s very clear on what feminism is and is not, and I agree with her 100%. Here are some quotes from the book:

While scrolling through my feed, avoiding deadlines, per usual, I saw a photo on a feminist author’s Instagram; a repost from a father of he, his daughter, and her prom date. The father was holding a gun. The caption read, “I hope my beautiful daughter and her date have a great time at prom.” While this may be seen as a joke and warning to her date to be a “gentleman,” what it actually is is a reminder that this man perceives his daughter as his property.

Want is the key word here. If you’re doing something you want to do and feel in control, you are doing something feminist.

A man should not be able to touch a female coworker’s thigh and face zero repercussions. You shouldn’t be able to comment on someone’s body on the street without getting called out for your bullshit. Asking for shitty, aggressive, threatening behavior to be checked is not too much to ask for.

Unfortunately, this is about all that I liked in this book. There were a number of points she made that I took issue with.

Probably the most upsetting for me, because it’s just absolutely terrible advice, is her stance on sexually transmitted infections. Basically, Gigi’s whole thing is that STIs are not a big deal and you’re a terrible person if you break up with someone for having one. This isn’t like your partner getting a cold. They didn’t get food poisoning. They engaged in risky behavior with another person and ended up putting not only their health at risk, but also yours. If someone I’m dating comes to me and says, “Well, looks like I have chlamydia!” I’m not going to say, “Oh, cool! Let’s go get some antibiotics!” I’m going to be like, “Um, where did that come from because it certainly isn’t from me.” This doesn’t quite go along with her stance on cheating, which is confusing.

She goes on to say that if your partner can’t handle you having an STI, they’re not going to be able to handle it if you get seriously ill when you’re older. The example she gives is cancer. So, way to compare apples and… I don’t even know. Staplers? There is a huge difference between being upset that your partner has contracted a sexually transmitted infection from someone other than you and has now put your health at risk and your partner being diagnosed with a terrible illness that is, first of all, not contagious, and second of all, not caused by being irresponsible. Yes, you’re pretty terrible if you break up with someone because they get cancer. You are not terrible if you break up with someone for getting an STI while dating you. (You are also not terrible for breaking up with someone if they got the STI before dating you and didn’t bother telling you about it until you’d already had sex with them.)

Gigi also claims to be trying to write a really inclusive, sex-positive book. She mostly succeeds on the sex-positive part, although I think she’s forgotten that you don’t need to go out and have a ton of casual sex to be sex-positive. She mostly ignores that same sex relationships and asexual people exist, except when she’ll casually drop that she’s dated a couple girls or talks for 0.2 seconds about how asexual people can find the kind of sex they like having, too. My favorite part of this was when she basically said, “This is what you need to do when you have sex, and if you’re not doing it, you’re wrong.” Who even is she?

My number three issue with this book was her idea that you should allow yourself to text your ex as much as you want for six weeks after the breakup, then stop. Well, yes. Please stop. But as someone who was on the other end of a constant barrage of texts from their ex for literal months after the breakup, I can confirm that this is a terrible idea. Waking your ex up in the middle of the night on a Wednesday with a text that says, “I miss you all the time 😢” is not doing you any favors. Sending your ex a string of fifteen texts while they’re in the middle of a meeting about how you wish you could have another chance does not make your ex want to get back together. Shooting off a casual, “I’m sad and drunk and I accidentally locked myself out of my apartment” just makes you look like a mess. These kinds of texts don’t make your ex feel bad. They’re just annoying. It’s not doing anything to help the situation and constantly reminding yourself of the relationship is doing nothing to help you get over it, either.

The final thing I want to talk about is the way she demonized her ex for having emotions and acting like a grown up. The story is that Gigi writes about sex for a living. She writes about dildos and anal sex and BDSM. Because of this, she draws a lot of negative attention. It’s not right, but it happens. Her ex was initially okay with this, and then it started affecting him personally and professionally. He realized he wasn’t okay with it anymore, and rather than asking her to give up her chosen career for him, he broke up with her. She mentions that the constant attacks by internet trolls aggravated her ex’s anxiety and “were a source of panic for him.” Apparently this makes him “weak” and “a coward” in her eyes. A few chapters before this, Gigi talks about her anxiety and what triggers panic attacks for her. What I’m getting from this is that Gigi’s mental illness is valid, but she’s decided that her ex’s isn’t. To make matters even worse, she reveals near the end of the book that her ex “became obsessed with having a private life” and specifically asked to be left out of this book, but she included him anyway because it’s her life and her book. Then she just casually mentions that he broke up with her the next day, seemingly out of nowhere. Out of nowhere? Really? I would have broken up with her too if I’d told her that I didn’t want to be written about in her sex book and she did it anyway.

I think that we currently live in a society that professes that we’re the best, we’re amazing, we’re perfect, and anybody who doesn’t want us just exactly the way we are is an idiot, a coward, the worst person on the planet. This is such a toxic mentality. Sometimes relationships don’t work out. It sucks, but it is what it is. Wallowing in it, rehashing what happened with your ex years ago over and over and over again despite now being married to someone else, repeatedly calling your ex a coward and complaining that he didn’t deserve you — all of that is unhealthy. It’s bad for your mental health. You need to let it go. One person didn’t want to be with you. They couldn’t handle the way you live your life. That hurts, I get it. But you have to get past it. You have to move on.

Overall, you’ll either love or hate the very aggressive writing style of this book. You’ll either love or hate Gigi’s very opinionated essays. You know which side I’m on.

For a better book on female health and sexuality, I’d recommend The Vagina Bible, written by an actual physician who actually has credentials to back up the claims she makes. For better books on feminism in general, I’d recommend We Should All Be Feminists and Dear Ijeawele. If you have any recommendations of good books on feminism, sexuality, or women’s health, I’d love to hear about them.


Have you read All the F*cking Mistakes? Can you recommend any books with similar themes?
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Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: AmazonTBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: June 11, 2013
Source: Borrowed

Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back.

Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick’s formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should–and should not–marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider’s look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich.

I was inspired to read Crazy Rich Asians after seeing the trailer to the movie. It looked funny! And like it would just be a great time! And I did really enjoy the first half of the book. Just not the second half.

It starts off with a bang, with the most over-the-top, hilarious response to racism I’ve ever read. The first part of the book knows it’s over-the-top. It’s like an episode of a trashy reality show, where the characters are all gossiping and throwing money around and nothing’s really happening, but at least it’s entertaining.

It takes a turn, though, after Rachel and Nick get to Singapore. His very wealthy family doesn’t accept her, and they let her know it. It was that same laughable kind of excessive behavior until it wasn’t, and it just got repetitive and I just got bored. There were so many characters and so many relationships and so many conflicts to keep track of that I felt like I should have been keeping track with a flowchart.

I honestly don’t have a ton to say about this one because aside from the gossip, not a lot happened. I’m still excited to watch the movie, but I don’t need to read the next book in this series.


Have you read Crazy Rich Asians? Have you seen the movie?
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Book Review: Lucky in Love by Kasie West

Lucky in Love by Kasie West
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: AmazonTBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Source: Borrowed

Maddie’s not impulsive. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment —

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun… until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

With tons of humor and heart, Kasie West delivers a million-dollar tale of winning, losing, and falling in love.

I’ve had the same TBR for like three years, so I decided that 2020 is my year. I’m going to read as many books from it as I can. I started with Lucky in Love by Kasie West. Now, I can go either way with her books. I loved The Distance Between Us and cringed all the way through Listen to Your Heart. I wasn’t sure which way this one would go, but I figured that her books are short and easy, so why not.

Well.

It turned out to be pretty bad, honestly.

The whole premise of this book is that newly eighteen-year-old Maddie has the worst birthday ever — her brother eats her birthday cereal (yeah, I don’t get it either), her parents take her out to eat and can’t afford the bill, her best friends all stand her up and don’t even come to her birthday party — so she goes out to a gas station and buys a lottery ticket on a whim. There’d be no book without her winning, so she’s suddenly $30 million richer.

She proceeds to do exactly what you might expect an eighteen-year-old high school student to do with $30 million. Waste it. Wildly. Illogically. Stupidly. I’m talking a Corvette, a yacht party, designer clothes, a diamond necklace, half a million to a relative she’s never met… the list goes on. Maddie, who once just wanted to do well in high school so she could get a scholarship to a good college, completely forgets about her classes and fixates on being popular. I was annoyed.

But what was possibly even more annoying than her wildly irresponsible wasting of money was her family. Was I supposed to empathize with any of these people?

  • A father who has sat at home, unemployed, for three years because he claims he can’t find a job? Right, I’m sure there are zero companies hiring in California. You might not be able to find a job in your field or a job making as much money as you want to be making, but you know what? Making something is better than making nothing. (And somehow his teenage daughter found a job with no experience so what’s his excuse??)
  • A mother who’s worked double shifts for years because her husband can’t be bothered to find employment? I should have been able to sympathize with her, but all she ever did was complain and argue and yell. And she has the audacity to ask her daughter, the new multi-millionaire, if she’ll be able to take care of them in the future after that daughter already gave them TWO MILLION DOLLARS and PAID OFF THEIR DEBTS? WHAT?
  • And don’t even get me started on the brother. (Really, I can’t even get into him without spoilers.)

The majority of the book is just Maddie spending money, Maddie angsting over whether to tell her love interest that she’s won the lottery, Maddie wondering if everybody who knows she won the lottery is using her for her money, and a romance that kind of feels like an afterthought.

I added a star because I appreciated that the love interest was Vietnamese and that there was a conversation about the very racist “no, where are you really from” question. I also liked the zoo. But overall? Definitely not recommended.


Have you read Lucky in Love? Is it on your TBR?
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