January 8, 2020

Friends with ARCs | Loveboat Taipei + Woven in Moonlight

pub 1/7/20 by HarperTeen
Young Adult - Contemporary
Received ARC from pub for review 
I have been raving about Loveboat, Taipei since I read it last month and for good reason! It's pitched as Crazy Rich Asians for YA and while that's accurate, I found this story and the heroine Ever Wong's journey to be much more relatable. Despite her circumstances being vastly different from anything I ever experienced as a teenager, her coming-of-age story and the generational gap she felt with her parents spoke to me on a deeply personal level. Eighteen-year-old Ever is sent from her hometown in Ohio to Taiwan for a summer program against her will. Her parents expect that she'll be dutifully studying Mandarin while highly supervised. The reality is that they've sent her on the infamous "Loveboat" which is basically Asian kids gone wild -- partying, hooking up and skipping class. But in this new-to-her freedom, she's finally having the space to discover who she wants to be and for the first time is surrounded by other teenagers like herself. And that is the heart of the story, more so than all the crazy antics that ensue. Though their backgrounds are different, they're all there in some way to discover what their culture means to them and what they want their future to look like. I loved that! For Ever, her parents want her to be pre-med but her heart is set on dance (this made me so happy). She constantly struggles with the desire to follow her own dreams or theirs. She also meets new friends, find romance in unexpected places, makes mistakes and picks herself back up again. At the onset, the book may seem like it'll be a fluffy rom-com but there's so much more depth to it and I found myself equal parts entertained, charmed and moved the entire time.

If you could have participated in a summer abroad program to get fluent in another language and learn about another culture, where would you go and why? • My answer shouldn't surprise anyone but I wish I could've gone to Paris to learn French. Even after going twice, it's still my dream city! I just love the culture and being there.


pub 1/7/20 by Page Street Books
Young Adult - Fantasy
Received from pub for review
What sets Woven in Moonlight apart is how it draws inspiration from Bolivian culture, history and language into its world. That was, by far, my favorite aspect of the book as it was definitely on the "fantasy light" side and more or less followed typical (read: obvious) YA fantasy tropes. That being said, I still had a lot of fun reading this! The heroine, Ximena, is a decoy Condesa meaning she's pretending to be the last remaining Illustrian royal in order to keep the real princess safe. It's a life that Ximena is devoted to because she wants nothing more than to protect her people from Atoc, the false king and usurper who used an ancient relic to summon ghosts to drive her people out from the city. It was interesting to see how the lines between her pretending to be the princess blurred with her natural leadership. Not to mention, that it's understadnable to wonder who she'd be if she wasn't the decoy and just a regular girl with a rare ability to spin thread from moonlight (very cool albeit a tad hard to picture while reading). When Atoc demands the Condesa marry him, Ximena goes in her place determined to use this opportunity to help her people. But when she meets individuals in the palace who challenge everything she's known, suddenly the right path becomes less clear. And it was that aspect, especially in the last quarter of the book, that really clicked for me and set a more urgent pace for Ximena's journey. If the entire plot had felt that way and the book was longer (in order to develop the characters and world more), I think I would've loved Woven in Moonlight. It's still a solid debut though and I'm curious to see what Ibañez does next!

Do you have any cloth work skills? | Nope but I am learning how to crochet this year!
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Collaborative feature with Alexa. We read ARCs together and post our reviews on the same date.


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