Posted in Reviews, Sophie

Book Review: We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Hello, beautiful people! I can’t believe it’s already June. It feels like this year is flying by much faster than last year. I’m here today to chat (read: scream) about one of my most anticipated (and favorite!) books of the year. We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon is the fourth YA novel from the author, and it’s her fifth published book. If you remember I have been a fan of Rachel’s since before her debut, You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone. From Our Year of Maybe to Today Tonight Tomorrow, Rachel has delivered on every single novel. Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an early copy for review. Without further ado, let’s get into it!

About the book

Title: We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This

Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon

Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR

Release date: June 8, 2021

Rating: 5/5 stars

Description:

A wedding harpist disillusioned with love and a hopeless romantic cater-waiter flirt and fight their way through a summer of weddings in this effervescent romantic comedy from the acclaimed author of Today Tonight Tomorrow.

Quinn Berkowitz and Tarek Mansour’s families have been in business together for years: Quinn’s parents are wedding planners, and Tarek’s own a catering company. At the end of last summer, Quinn confessed her crush on him in the form of a rambling email—and then he left for college without a response.

Quinn has been dreading seeing him again almost as much as she dreads another summer playing the harp for her parents’ weddings. When he shows up at the first wedding of the summer, looking cuter than ever after a year apart, they clash immediately. Tarek’s always loved the grand gestures in weddings—the flashier, the better—while Quinn can’t see them as anything but fake. Even as they can’t seem to have one civil conversation, Quinn’s thrown together with Tarek wedding after wedding, from performing a daring cake rescue to filling in for a missing bridesmaid and groomsman.

Quinn can’t deny her feelings for him are still there, especially after she learns the truth about his silence, opens up about her own fears, and begins learning the art of harp-making from an enigmatic teacher.

Maybe love isn’t the enemy after all—and maybe allowing herself to fall is the most honest thing Quinn’s ever done.

Review

Oh man, where to begin? First, if you couldn’t already tell, I love Rachel’s writing. She is one of my auto-buy authors, and I am so happy that her books are out in the world. We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This is one of Rachel’s most personal books to date. Quinn especially is a character she wrote with a lot of the author’s personal journey with OCD. I will note some content warnings for this book are descriptions of depression and OCD.

WCKMLT is a laugh-out-loud book that made me love Quinn and Tarek even more than I thought I would. Quinn is quiet and trying to find herself. She is trying to do her best navigating her family business and searching for her passion. I loved to see how much Quinn grew throughout the book. She begins as someone who is self-conscious and timid, but by the end of the book she is proud and uncovers the bravery that was there all along. Also, I loved that Quinn was a musician. As someone who loves music and considers myself a musician (at least in some capacity lol), I loved seeing Quinn rediscover her love for the harp.

All the other characters, from Tarek (I love him, must protecc) to Quinn’s best friend to Quinn’s sister, bring life and depth to this book. Quinn’s relationships are affected deeply by her past experiences with love (umm, hello parents), and I loved seeing her take charge of her mental health. It’s refreshing to read a book with mental health rep without it being The Thing.

One thing I love most about Rachel’s writing is how she creates a world I want to live in. You can tell how much she loves the places she writes about. The people in her books are individuals I want to be friends with. It’s rich in inclusion of various identities without those being the focal point of the novel. It’s a book about joy. It’s a book about people living their lives, and that’s truly what is at the core of Rachel’s books. If they fall in love along the way, well who’s to say no to that!

Overall, the structure and plot of the story was engaging and fast-paced. I waited to read it a bit when I received it because I knew that I would speed through it. Of all the RLS books I’ve read so far, this one is my favorite to date, which is hard because T3 was amazing. I highly recommend this book to those looking for a witty summer read.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Posted in Blog Tours, Reviews, Sophie

Blog Tour: Counting Down with You by Tashie Bhuiyan

Hi everyone! I’m here again with yet another blog tour, and I’m very excited to share this with you. I have had the pleasure of reading Counting Down with You by Tashie Bhuiyan early thanks to Caffeine Book Tours and the publisher providing me a copy.

About the Book overlaid the cover

Genre: young adult, contemporary, romance

Diversity tags: author of color (bangladeshi american); poc representation (bangladeshi-american mc; black, indian, and chinese side characters); religion representation (muslim mc); lgbtq+ representation; mental health representation (mc with anxiety)

Publication date: 04 May 2021

Publisher: HarperCollins

Cover: Samya Arif (artist), Gigi Lau (art direction)

Synopsis: A reserved Bangladeshi teenager has twenty-eight days to make the biggest decision of her life after agreeing to fake date her school’s resident bad boy.

How do you make one month last a lifetime?

Karina Ahmed has a plan. Keep her head down, get through high school without a fuss, and follow her parents’ rules—even if it means sacrificing her dreams. When her parents go abroad to Bangladesh for four weeks, Karina expects some peace and quiet. Instead, one simple lie unravels everything.

Karina is my girlfriend.

Tutoring the school’s resident bad boy was already crossing a line. Pretending to date him? Out of the question. But Ace Clyde does everything right—he brings her coffee in the mornings, impresses her friends without trying, and even promises to buy her a dozen books (a week) if she goes along with his fake-dating facade. Though Karina agrees, she can’t help but start counting down the days until her parents come back.

T-minus twenty-eight days until everything returns to normal—but what if Karina no longer wants it to?

Content/trigger warning: In-depth discussions of mental health (specifically anxiety) and mentions of parental abuse (emotional and psychological)

Bookshop | Goodreads | Amazon

Continue reading “Blog Tour: Counting Down with You by Tashie Bhuiyan”

Hello and welcome to another new release Tuesday! I’m so excited to be here with another wonderful book, this time it’s Lucky Girl by Jamie Pacton. Similar to Joan He’s book, Lucky Girl also focuses on climate change and ocean conservation/environmental activism. Let’s get into it!

ID: Cover of Lucky Girl, which has tones of sea foam green with a girl in a red shirt and black jeans leaning against a blue truck.

Title: Lucky Girl by Jamie Pacton
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publishing Date: May 11, 2021

Synopsis:
Content Warning: deals with parental mental health (hoarding, depression caused by grief) and loss of a parent.
A hilarious and poignant reflection on what money can and cannot fix

58,643,129. That’s how many dollars seventeen-year-old Fortuna Jane Belleweather just won in the lotto jackpot. It’s also about how many reasons she has for not coming forward to claim her prize.

Problem #1: Jane is still a minor, and if anyone discovers she bought the ticket underage, she’ll either have to forfeit the ticket, or worse…

Problem #2: Let her hoarder mother cash it. The last thing Jane’s mom needs is millions of dollars to buy more junk. Then…

Problem #3: Jane’s best friend, aspiring journalist Brandon Kim, declares on the news that he’s going to find the lucky winner. It’s one thing to keep her secret from the town, it’s another thing entirely to lie to her best friend. Especially when…

Problem #4: Jane’s ex-boyfriend, Holden, is suddenly back in her life, and he has big ideas about what he’d do with the prize money.

As suspicion and jealousy turn neighbor against neighbor, and no good options for cashing the ticket come forward, Jane begins to wonder: Could this much money actually be a bad thing?

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indigo | IndieBound

Continue reading “Blog Tour: Lucky Girl by Jamie Pacton”

Blog Tour: Lucky Girl by Jamie Pacton

Blog Tour: The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He Review

Hello, there! Thanks for joining me again today. I’m really excited to be here as a member of Joan He’s street team. I was with Joan and Hesina’s Court for her debut, and I’m glad to be here once more for her sophomore novel. I marvel at Joan’s ability to craft words so well, and I’m so happy to be sharing my review for the street team tour today. A huge thanks goes out to Paola for organizing this wonderful tour!

[ID: Banner with the words “About the Book” overlaid the cover for the book.]

Title: The Ones We’re Meant to Find
Author: Joan He
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Release Date: May 4th, 2021
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction/Dystopian
Rating: 4/5 stars

ID: Cover of The Ones We’re Meant to Find. Two young women have their faces coming out of waves. They both have dark brown hair and the woman on the left has her face partially hidden by the one on the right.

Synopsis: One of the most twisty, surprising, engaging page-turner YAs you’ll read this year—We Were Liars meets Black Mirror, with a dash of Studio Ghibli.

Cee awoke on an abandoned island three years ago. With no idea of how she was marooned, she only has a rickety house, an old android, and a single memory: she has a sister, and Cee needs to find her.

STEM prodigy Kasey wants escape from the science and home she once trusted. The eco-city—Earth’s last unpolluted place—is meant to be sanctuary for those commited to planetary protection, but it’s populated by people willing to do anything for refuge, even lie. Now, she’ll have to decide if she’s ready to use science to help humanity, even though it failed the people who mattered most.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Books-a-Million | Bookshop.org | Booktopia | IndieBound | Indigo | Powells | Waterstones | Signed and Personalized Copies

Continue reading “Blog Tour: The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He Review”
Posted in Blog Tours, Bloggers, Reviews, Sophie

Blog Tour: The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur Review + Reflection

Hi, everyone! Ever wonder when I’m not going to be posting something because of a blog tour I’m part of? Same, but for now, this is what is working best for me. I’m VERY EXCITED to bring The Forest of Stolen Girls to you today! I read this incredible novel last week, and I couldn’t put it down. All I ever wanted to do is sit down and read this book. It’s definitely going to be one of the best books I’ve read in 2021. Without further ado, let’s get into it.

ID: “About the Book” is set over the cover of The Forest of Stolen Girls
ID: Forest of Stolen Girls cover; The title, in red, runs vertically down the center with June Hur’s name under. There are two women’s faces facing away from each other and partially obscured by the flowers surrounding them.

Title: The Forest of Stolen Girls

Author: June Hur

Publisher: Macmillan’s Publishing Group

Release Date: April 20, 2021

Genre: Historical Mystery

Summary:

After her father vanishes while investigating the disappearance of 13 young women, a teen returns to her secretive hometown to pick up the trail in this second YA historical mystery from the author of The Silence of Bones.

Hwani’s family has never been the same since she and her younger sister went missing and were later found unconscious in the forest, near a gruesome crime scene. The only thing they remember: Their captor wore a painted-white mask.

To escape the haunting memories of this incident, the family flees their hometown. Years later, Detective Min—Hwani’s father—learns that thirteen girls have recently disappeared under similar circumstances, and so he returns to their hometown to investigate… only to vanish as well.

Determined to find her father and solve the case that tore their family apart, Hwani returns home to pick up the trail. As she digs into the secrets of the small village—and reconnects with her now estranged sister—Hwani comes to realize that the answer lies within her own buried memories of what happened in the forest all those years ago. 

Goodreads| Amazon | Barnes & Noble

ID: “About the Author” set over The Forest of Stolen Girls cover.

June Hur was born in South Korea and raised in Canada, except for the time when she moved back to Korea and attended high school there. Most of her work is inspired by her journey through life as an individual, a dreamer, and a Christian, with all its confusions, doubts, absurdities and magnificence. She studied History and Literature at the University of Toronto. When she’s not writing, she can be found journaling at a coffee shop. She lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter.

Her debut novel THE SILENCE OF BONES (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, April 2020) is a murder mystery set in Joseon Dynasty Korea (early 1800s), and also a coming-of-age tale about a girl searching for home. It was recently selected by the American Booksellers Association as one of the top debuts of Winter/Spring 2020 (Indies Introduce).
Twitter | Instagram | Website | Goodreads

ID: “Review” set over the Forest of Stolen Girls cover.

I don’t think I can adequately describe how much I loved this book, but I’m going to try. This post will be both a review and a reflection on the book. Just to break it down, I’m going to do my best to weave them both together in this whole section, so bear with me here!

The voice alone is haunting, and it sets you up perfectly for the entirety of the book. The whole mood is like walking through a foggy forest and trying to find your way back home. I felt like I could see and feel and smell the forest on Jeju right alone with Hwani. Everything was so real. Hwani really discovers herself and becomes someone I truly admire. She works really hard, and at times I didn’t like her. Her flaws were what made me love her even more, though. It was amazing to be able to see her grow and change throughout the book.

Maewol was such an interesting character. She reminded me of myself in some ways. I’m the youngest of five kids, so it’s easy to get lost in the mix sometimes. I loved her fighting spirit and her determination to take care of herself and Hwani despite their estrangement. Her boldness and intuition is something I wish I had and something I appreciated in her character.

The setting of this book!!! Chills!!! It gave me chills because it was so eerie. Like I mentioned above, the combination of the setting, details, and voice really created a wonderful reading experience. It felt like I was wading through the clues and dead ends with Hwani and Maewol. There were several times where I didn’t know who to trust. I was kept guessing until the very end.

Hur’s writing style lends itself beautifully to this story. I love how she got to the heart of the novel and found Hwani and Maewol at the center. It caught my attention from the very first line and never let go. I’m wondering what I’d have to do to be able to read this book for the first time again…

What I loved most about this book was how it made me think and reflect on the kind of history we learn in U.S. schools. As an adoptee, I often feel disconnected from my heritage because there wasn’t a built in system to necessarily teach me cultural or historical things about China. I love how this novel thrusts you deep into the Joseon era in Korea with nuance and care. It’s a story that is more than just the setting, but it truly makes you think more about the lens of history you’ve learned.

Overall, I highly recommend you read this book and check it out when it releases tomorrow! It’s perfect for fans of true crime and those who are looking for a little more of a darker read, sans romance.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Thanks for joining me today, and HUGE thanks to Hear Our Voices Tours and FSG for selecting me as a tour host! Be sure to check out the rest of the tour this week (schedule below).

April 19

Windows to Worlds – Review
Luna Reads – Favorite Quotes
Mind of a Book Dragon – Reflection
Whispering Prose – Theme Analysis

April 20

Sirena Reader – Playlist
Krithi – Review
Beast Reader – Favorite Quotes
Salty Badger Books – Review in 5 GIFs
BooksnRaeDunn – Forest Survival Pack

April 21

Read to the End – Reflection
John the Paper Bender – Book Aesthetic
Books Dramas and More – Blog Interview

April 22

Shivani – Review
Hanna Kim Writes – Blog Interview
Luna Reads – Favorite Quotes
Trishla – Book Recs

April 23

Mella Musings – Favorite Quotes
The Shenners – Playlist

April 24

Vici Reads – Review
Johs Journal – Journal Spread
Books and Strokes – TV/Movie/Book Recs
Astoldbyxtay – Food Post

Posted in Blog Tours, Sophie

Blog Tour: Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Hi everyone, happy Sunday! I am so so excited to be writing this post for you today! I have the privilege of being part of the blog tour for Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley. Below you’ll find my review of this gorgeous book. Thank you so much to the publisher for selecting me!

[ID: Banner that says “About the Book” with part of the book cover as a background]

Title: Firekeeper’s Daughter

Author: Angeline Boulley

Publisher: Henry, Holt & Co.

Release Date: March 16, 2021

Description:

Debut author Angeline Boulley crafts a groundbreaking YA thriller about a Native teen who must root out the corruption in her community, for readers of Angie Thomas and Tommy Orange.

As a biracial, unenrolled tribal member and the product of a scandal, eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. Daunis dreams of studying medicine, but when her family is struck by tragedy, she puts her future on hold to care for her fragile mother.

The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team. Yet even as Daunis falls for Jamie, certain details don’t add up and she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into the heart of a criminal investigation.

Reluctantly, Daunis agrees to go undercover, but secretly pursues her own investigation, tracking down the criminals with her knowledge of chemistry and traditional medicine. But the deceptions—and deaths—keep piling up and soon the threat strikes too close to home.

Now, Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she’ll go to protect her community, even if it tears apart the only world she’s ever known.

Goodreads | Storygraph | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Angeline Boulley, an enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, is a storyteller who writes about her Ojibwe community in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She gained attention from the We Need Diverse Books Mentorship Program. Angeline was the former Director of the Office of Indian Education at the U.S. Department of Education. Her agent is Faye Bender at The Book Group. Firekeeper’s Daughter has been optioned for a Netflix series by the Obamas’ Higher Ground production company.

Website | Twitter | Instagram

Wow, where even do I begin this review? It was such a lovely, heartbreaking-yet-invigorating read. It was great to read a book set in my home state (yes, I knew how Sault was pronounced before Daunis clarified it in the book lol), and from a perspective I haven’t heard yet.

Over the course of reading and reviewing, I’ve found that character driven novels are my bread and butter. This one is no exception — Daunis is such a wonderful character. I loved reading her thoughts and perspective as things went on. Something I could relate to about her was the in-between-ness that she felt as a half-Ojibwe and half-white woman. I personally am not mixed race, but as a transracial, transnational adoptee I fully understand the in-between-ness of feeling like you live in two separate cultural worlds. Daunis speaks with such clarity and raw emotion that I couldn’t help but never want to put the book down. It was like I found a friend in an unexpected place, and I never wanted to say goodbye.

Those who love plot in their books — never fear! Firekeeper’s Daughter is full of an interesting, twisty plot. Right off the bat, there’s an air of mystery. Daunis’s uncle recently died and her grandmother (GrandMary) has some health issues. What are the circumstances leading up to these events? Those questions lead you deeper into the heart of the novel and I felt like Daunis was the perfect narrator to bring us along on this journey.

Overall, this book was gorgeous. I highly recommend it to people who love a strong plot and character driven book (I’d say this is about 50-50). If you love Tomi Adeyemi’s writing, you’ll definitely love Firekeeper’s Daughter. Check it out on shelves March 16 (this Tuesday!!) or pre-order it from your local indie!

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Posted in Blog Tours, Bloggers, Reviews, Sophie

Blog Tour: A Pho Love Story by Loan Le

Hi everyone! Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for A Pho Love Story by Loan Le, which debuted this week! Thank you so much Colored Pages Bookish Tours for selecting me as a host. I have included all the information, including the giveaway(!!!) below. I hope you love my review in GIFs 🙂

About the Book

Title: A Pho Love Story 

Author: Loan Le 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

Publication Date: February 9th, 2021 

Genres: Young Adult romantic-comedy 

Synopsis:

When Dimple Met Rishi meets Ugly Delicious in this funny, smart romantic comedy, in which two Vietnamese-American teens fall in love and must navigate their newfound relationship amid their families’ age-old feud about their competing, neighboring restaurants.

If Bao Nguyen had to describe himself, he’d say he was a rock. Steady and strong, but not particularly interesting. His grades are average, his social status unremarkable. He works at his parents’ pho restaurant, and even there, he is his parents’ fifth favorite employee. Not ideal.

If Linh Mai had to describe herself, she’d say she was a firecracker. Stable when unlit, but full of potential for joy and fire. She loves art and dreams pursuing a career in it. The only problem? Her parents rely on her in ways they’re not willing to admit, including working practically full-time at her family’s pho restaurant.

For years, the Mais and the Nguyens have been at odds, having owned competing, neighboring pho restaurants. Bao and Linh, who’ve avoided each other for most of their lives, both suspect that the feud stems from feelings much deeper than friendly competition.

But then a chance encounter brings Linh and Bao in the same vicinity despite their best efforts and sparks fly, leading them both to wonder what took so long for them to connect. But then, of course, they immediately remember.

Can Linh and Bao find love in the midst of feuding families and complicated histories?

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Indigo | BAM!

About the Author

Loan Le is the youngest child of two Vietnamese immigrants hailing from Nha Trang. She holds an MFA degree in fiction from Fairfield University, also her undergraduate alma mater. A Pushcart Prize–nominated writer, her short stories have appeared in CRAFT Literary, Mud Season Review, and Angel City Review. Loan is an editor at Simon and Schuster’s Atria Books imprint and lives in Manhattan. A Pho Love Story is her first novel.

Author Links: 

Website: https://writerloanle.me/ 

Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18108415.Loan_Le 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/loanloan 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loanloanle/ TikTok:https://www.tiktok.com/@writerloanle?

Review

via GIPHY

The first thing you need to know about this book is that it’s primarily about family, which I love so much. Bao and Linh’s families are at the center of A Pho Love Story, and I love how this book explores family dynamics and the experience of having immigrant parents. Though I cannot speak to that experience, I know from talking to friends that have immigrant parents this book rings true. I love how Bao and Linh grow as characters both as individuals, together, and members of their families.

via GIPHY

Obviously, a key part of the novel is the FOOD. I had my mouth watering pretty much every time I opened this book, and I can’t say I regret a single minute of reading it. I love how food is another central theme in the book — how it brings communities and people together who wouldn’t normally be together. Of course, as Bao and Linh’s families own opposing pho restaurants it’s interesting to see how they see and view food from that perspective. It’s also one of the core ways they’re able to relate to their parents.

via GIPHY

Like I mentioned above, I love how the characters develop and change throughout the book. Linh and Bao are being pulled in different directions — Linh loves art and Bao isn’t sure what he wants to do after high school. They also have their parents’ expectations to grapple with, and I love that Le tackles the many voices and pressures these characters face with such a compassionate tone.

via GIPHY

All in all, you will eat this book up! I loved the writing style, the characters, and I love the witty dialogue/banter throughout. They are such anxious cinnamon rolls that I can’t help but want to hold them close.

Giveaway

Three finished copies will be provided. This giveaway would only be available for residents in the US only. Giveaway will start on 9 February and end on 19th February. 

Rafflecopter link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/9e8d94b12/

Tour Schedule

February 9th 

Book Rambler – Welcome Post / Review

Acapricornreads  – Favorite quotes

February 10th 

The Mind of a Book Dragon – Review in GIFs 

Shelf Explanatory  – Review 

Bymyshelf – Interview 

February 11th 

Reading On A Star – Author guest post

Mixaphoria –  craft cocktail inspired by the story

February 12th 

Margie’s Must Reads – Book recommendations based on the book

this belle reads too – Review and mood board

February 13th 

Allegory of Words –  Interview 

Dearrivarie – Mood board 

Book Lover’s Book Reviews – Review 

February 14th 

Know Your Books – Favorite quotes

too much miya – Favorite quotes 

The Book View – Mood board 

February 15th 

Portals Into Books – Mood board

Bitacoradesofi – Review

Posted in Blog Tours, Reviews, Sophie

Blog Tour: Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao

Hello and thanks for reading today! I’m here chatting about one of my top reads for 2020, Rent a Boyfriend by the wonderful Gloria Chao. Gloria and I met back in 2018 when she debuted with American Panda, which was an absolute delight. I’m stoked to be able to be part of the tour for her most recent book thanks to Hear Our Voices Tours and Simon Teen for coordinating everything and providing a copy for review. Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Title: Rent a Boyfriend

Author: Gloria Chao

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: November 10, 2020

Genre: YA Contemporary

Pages: 320 pages

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop.org | Book Depository

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before meets The Farewell in this incisive romantic comedy about a college student who hires a fake boyfriend to appease her traditional Taiwanese parents, to disastrous results, from the acclaimed author of American Panda.

Chloe Wang is nervous to introduce her parents to her boyfriend, because the truth is, she hasn’t met him yet either. She hired him from Rent for Your ’Rents, a company specializing in providing fake boyfriends trained to impress even the most traditional Asian parents.

Drew Chan’s passion is art, but after his parents cut him off for dropping out of college to pursue his dreams, he became a Rent for Your ’Rents employee to keep a roof over his head. Luckily, learning protocols like “Type C parents prefer quiet, kind, zero-PDA gestures” comes naturally to him.

When Chloe rents Drew, the mission is simple: convince her parents fake Drew is worthy of their approval so they’ll stop pressuring her to accept a proposal from Hongbo, the wealthiest (and slimiest) young bachelor in their tight-knit Asian American community.

But when Chloe starts to fall for the real Drew—who, unlike his fake persona, is definitely not ’rent-worthy—her carefully curated life begins to unravel. Can she figure out what she wants before she loses everything?

Gloria Chao is the critically acclaimed author of American Panda, Our Wayward Fateand Rent a Boyfriend. When she’s not writing, you can find her with her husband on the curling ice or hiking the Indiana Dunes. After a brief detour as a dentist, she is now grateful to spend her days in fictional characters’ heads instead of real people’s mouths.

Her award-winning books have been featured on the “Best of” lists of SeventeenBustle, Barnes & NoblesPopSugarPaste Magazine, and more. American Panda received four starred trade reviews, was a Junior Library Guild Selection and Indie Next Pick, was a YALSA Teen’s Top 10 Pick, and on the Amelia Bloomer List.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Tumblr

Today’s review is going to be a bit fun! I will be posting my review in five gifs, which is what I did for We Are Not Free by Traci Chee. I’ll also talk a little bit about the book as it relates to my experience as an Asian American. I am not specifically Taiwanese American (I’m Chinese American), and I didn’t grow up with immigrant parents, so as a disclaimer here, I’d like to say I can’t speak on those specific identities.

I think this gif accurately portrays how freaking excited I was to read Rent a Boyfriend. From the opening line I was sucked in, and I couldn’t get enough of it! All I wanted to do was read it. Seriously, I think I ignored my partner more than once because I was too enthralled with my book (sorry!!). This book is such a delightful one full of voice and witty commentary with a reflective tone.

A major part of this book is Chloe/Jing Jing’s relationship with her parents, specifically her mom. There is a lot of hurt on Chloe’s part, from the backhanded compliments to the nagging about her single status, Chloe has a hard time with her mom. And this isn’t to say that her mom is terrible, you can truly tell that Chloe loves her mom and her family, but it’s a very difficult and complicated relationship to navigate as a young woman. I can totally attest to this as someone who’s going through growing pains with my mom. Chloe is constantly trying to balance who she is and who she thinks her parents want her to be, and that’s exhausting. It was great to see this part of growing up explored in this book.

Let’s definitely not forget to talk about the fake dating aspect of the book! It’s one of my top favorite tropes, and to see it with Asian main characters was truly a treat. I loved the realness between Chloe and Drew from the get go. They knew the terms of the agreement, but they also had a spark of truth behind every interaction. I loved watching their relationship develop over the course of the book. Drew and Chloe respected and pushed each other to do more and be more themselves. They weren’t afraid to be bare and honest, which really made their relationship stronger. Everything they went through felt so real, and I love that this practice is pulled straight from Asian culture as well.

Food also is a big element in the book. Chloe has a small, private point system for herself that’s measured in mooncakes. She accidentally lets it slip in front of Drew, and soon they’re both talking about the number of mooncake points different things would be worth. I love how this is a marriage of their Asian and American sides. Something Chloe struggles with a lot is how she feels like she straddles two different worlds and two different versions of herself. She feels like she’s disconnected with the Asian part of her identity, but she finds little ways to incorporate it in her life, especially through food. Drew is a wonderful force in her life in this regard. He helps Chloe meld her two selves and realize that both are equally important to who she is as a person.

Overall, I would give this book a bazillion mooncake points and two thumbs up from sheep in pajamas. This book is filled to the brim with angst, happiness, and a lot of growing. I’m definitely going to be rereading this in the future when I need a shot of joy in these bleak times. As to my own experience, I definitely related a lot to Chloe’s feelings of inauthenticity. I also occupy the liminal space of being Asian and American and sometimes not feeling like I’m enough of either to be part of the community. I love the heart that this book is written with, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂