Prom Queen Perfect

29331371-_uy1600_ss1600_Title: Prom Queen Perfect
Author: Clarisse David
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Rating: ★★★☆☆ | 2.5

Alexandra de la Cruz is perfect: perfect family, perfect older sister, perfect clothing, perfect life. She’s the most popular girl in school, and she’s on track to become prom queen––just like her sister. Just like her mother’s favourite. And if she becomes prom queen, maybe her mother will stop finding fault with her at every turn.

So when childhood friend-turned brother-in-law turned nuisance Adam Cordero tells her she’s selfish, she’s determined to prove him wrong by taking Christy Marquez on as a project, turning her from social reject to social butterfly. Her plan works, but it works too well, and suddenly the title of prom queen, which was so within her grasp, is slipping away, and she has to contend with the true nature of friendship.

This was a cute pick-me-up during finals week––it’s short, utterly predictable, and its characters were bland and vacuous enough that I didn’t feel so caught up in their struggles that I neglected my studying, which is good. For finals week. Not really so good for when I need a substantial story to keep me occupied.

But I’ve mentioned this multiple times across multiple reviews and I am always going to be the first to say: fluff entertainment has value, too, and I’m not going to dismiss the novel because it doesn’t have substance. Books are entertainment, and English minor I may be, but I will meet you behind the gym at 3:00 pm with my fists ready if you entertain the notion that all books have to meet some arbitrary standard of Literary Value to have Worth™.

That being said, while I enjoyed the novel for what it is––the written version of, say, She’s All That––it wasn’t much beyond that. I don’t really know what else to say. It was cute, it was okay, it’s the equivalent of watching a teen movie with a tub of ice cream and some popcorn on a lazy Saturday when you should be doing other things. I don’t regret purchasing it, but I’m also probably not going to reread it. The characterisation was jerky––who becomes a best friend mere hours after meeting?––but overall it was inoffensive enough that it went down like jello. It didn’t stir up any strong emotions or attachment, but I was also not really expecting it to.



Let it Shine

b01d04cpq4-01-lzzzzzzzTitle: Let it Shine
Author: Alyssa Cole
Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction
Rating: ★★★★☆ || 4.0 stars

warnings for: racialised violence/state violence, racial & ethnic slurs

I admit, I’m not a romance reader. I like romance in my books, but romance books themselves don’t tend to be my cup of tea. So when I came across this book on my Goodreads recommendations list, I made a face like I just bit into a kumquat and discovered it was a lemon, primarily because a) it was pitched as an interracial romance set during the Civil Rights Movement, which has the potential to be either really good or so, so awful and b) I didn’t know who Alyssa Cole was.

Well, now I know who Alyssa Cole is, and I can confirm that this was an absolutely well-done novel. It’s not free of flaws (will get to those later), but from the beginning it set my fears about what this book could have become to ease. There’s no shortage of really difficult content––slurs, racialised state violence, sexism and scrutiny of female behaviour, antiblackness, anti-Semitism––but none of it felt excessive or like it was there for shock value.

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Short Soup

16330647Title: Short Soup
Author: Coleen Kwan
Genre: Romance
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ || 2.0

The concept of this novella was reeled me in long before one of my friends recommended that I read this book, and while in theory I enjoyed this novel, practice is a beast of different nature.

Short Soup is a novella that follows two childhood friends, Dion Chan and Toni Lau, as they reconnect following Toni’s divorce from a cheating husband. Dion’s been in love with Toni for years and never found a good way to tell her, but now that she’s back and he’s taking over their parents’ jointly owned restaurant, he’s determined not to let her go, especially now that scumbag Nick is out of the picture. But there are things more pressing than opportunity and timing keeping them apart––Toni’s life is in Sydney now, Dion’s father is hard to please, while Toni’s baba is terrified that Toni will distract Dion and leave him heartbroken again. Together, they must navigate not only their attraction for each other, but also food, their futures, and family expectations.

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