Wow, I'm so impressed with this book. It's a lovely, unique contribution to YA literature. It's killing me not knowing what is going on Chen Yong's miWow, I'm so impressed with this book. It's a lovely, unique contribution to YA literature. It's killing me not knowing what is going on Chen Yong's mind and how he feels about Ai Ling! Can't wait for the "pre-sequel"....more
I found myself not liking the main character so I was unconvinced why Danny would either. Although I gave this book 2 stars, it's actually closer to 3I found myself not liking the main character so I was unconvinced why Danny would either. Although I gave this book 2 stars, it's actually closer to 3 because there were moments in the book that were really great -- but just not consistently enough. I am curious regarding the sequel and may get it just to find out if she finally gets Danny....more
I really struggled with what to make of this book. I enjoyed reading it because it was well-written and it was set in Southern California (where I livI really struggled with what to make of this book. I enjoyed reading it because it was well-written and it was set in Southern California (where I lived for a few years a while ago). So, the voices rang true to me -- they felt authentic. Early on in the book, I remember saying to myself "Oh, this going to be good". I felt anticipation about the prospect of these two characters meeting. However, as the book went on, I couldn't shake the feeling of "am I missing something?" I really do think that I missed the boat on what the author was trying to convey.
The book is written in the alternating perspectives of Carlos and Isabel. They each have so much going on in their lives. Actually, that is one of my complaints about this book. There are like ten different story lines that began but never got explored related to friends, co-workers, and family members of Carlos and Isabel. I didn't understand the point of bring all that up to never find out what happens to these people and their ongoing issues. In any case, when Carlos and Isabel FINALLY meet, their interactions felt very uninspiring and flat. Not much spark. They were each initially attracted to each other and had a connection regarding Red Vines (thus the picture of the book).
By the description of this book, you are led to believe that Vanessa plays a significant role in their relationship (if it's even one). She really doesn't. Something happens to her and there is the aftermath of it. We know very little about Vanessa. You get hints regarding her past without explanation. It was hard to feel like you knew her at all -- and if you don't know her -- it's hard to care about her when that something bad happens to her.
Okay, I am going to stop picking at what I found wrong with the book. I will say that it is well-written and worth the read for that alone. Lastly, in regards to the romance, the impression I was left with: this is a story about two people that are at the very cusp of starting something. They are at the pivotal point where you proceed and become involved with each other or make a determination that it is not worth it to pursue and move on to something else. Only in the very end do you get a sense of which direction they are headed. ...more
I love all kinds of romance, but as subgenres go -- historical is my least favorite. That whole world, with its sense of propriety, and the limitationI love all kinds of romance, but as subgenres go -- historical is my least favorite. That whole world, with its sense of propriety, and the limitations placed on women always felt to me like a constricted environment for which a great relationship can bloom. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed the romantic relationship between Alex and Gavin. I think the reason for that was because Alex and Gavin were such good friends from the start of the book. Gavin was like family -- even like a brother to her for so long. As a result, the same "rules" did not apply to them. For example, it wasn't entirely inappropriate for Alex to be in Gavin's company unchaparoned. This lax environment allowed for them to have some interesting, more open conversations -- and later, some scintillating interactions.
I really liked how their relationship develops over the course of the story. Right from the beginning you sense their easy-going nature with each other. They tease each other in a tender, affectionate way that reveals how much they care about the other. Then, the first sign that they may feel something for each other beyond a friend/sibling affection, comes in the form of jealousy. Alex is irritated by the attention Gavin receives from another female and, similarly, Gavin is very annoyed by Alex's suitors and finds them all unworthy of her. There a couple of things that really tip the scale into romance -- 1) physical attraction resulting from dressing up for balls and dancing in each others arms, and 2) Gavin's pain resulting from his father's death and Alex's desire to comfort him. As their romantic feelings become evident to each other -- they struggle with what that means and if and/or how to proceed. Gavin questions whether he is betraying Alex's family's trust while Alex deals with her long-held opposition to marriage.
I love to see development and growth in relationships and you definitely see that here with Alex and Gavin's relationship. ...more
I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did. It was a pleasure to read. Galen and Rose were both great characters and, while written in thiI was not expecting to like this book as much as I did. It was a pleasure to read. Galen and Rose were both great characters and, while written in third person, every couple of chapters alternated between their two perspectives -- so the reader gets a good feel for each of their backgrounds.
The romance was sweet. There were was playfulness and teasing between them. Their attraction to one another evident by the awkwardness associated with first love (e.g., blushes, stammering, furtive looks). Of course there's was also a forbidden love since she is a princess and he is a commoner, a gardner. I was impressed that while this difference in social standing was present, neither Rose nor her princess sisters treated Galen with haughtiness or condescension. Similarly, Galen didn't cower to or was meek when interacting with the princesses. That was a tribute to Galen's character -- despite all he's been through with losing his family and being in the war, he had a strong sense of self. He was comfortable with who he was and this is a very attractive quality both to the reader and to Rose. The guy knits, afterall, and not once did I think it was unmasculine. He was also bold and daring -- sending gifts to Rose and risking his life to take on this seemingly unsolvable puzzle in order to save Rose from suffering.
Rose's character, on the other hand, was much more reserved. While it was clear she had feelings for Galen, she didn't express them easily. I loved the ending though, when she couldn't contain herself any longer during her father's "reward" for Galen's effort. Galen was having difficulty asking for what he wanted and Rose, allowing herself to be vulnerable, leads them to their happy ending.
This wasn't exactly what I was expecting. It was beautifully written -- almost lyrical. But, it was a very short book with several different stories tThis wasn't exactly what I was expecting. It was beautifully written -- almost lyrical. But, it was a very short book with several different stories that were loosely connected. ...more