Mini-Reviews: David Levithan Books

It just happened that I have three David Levithan books popping on my bookshelf so why not read and do mini-reviews with them?!

Every Day
by David Levithan

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone A wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Genre/s: YA Romance
Series: Every Day #1
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication date:  August 28th 2012
Source/Format: Bought/Paperback
Purchase link: Amazon 

My Thoughts:
  • This is a re-read. I’ve read it before my book blogging days.
  • I remember liking this so much the first time that I might have rated it 5 stars then.
  • Such a fascinating premise. I like how the book gives me this unique perspective of A living a different kind of life each day.
  • The book is in A’s first person POV. A’s voice has this mixed innocence and maturity in it. Because of having to switch bodies every day, he has developed a high sense of empathy but he is also naive in other ways, like falling in love for example.
  • David Levithan writes such emotionally raw lines that makes me want to crawl up in a coccoon and weep for a while.
  • I mean: “She is so lost in her sadness that she has no idea how visible it is.” 
  • Also: “ Ultimately, the universe doesn’t care about us. Time doesn’t care about us. That’s why we have to care about each other.”
  • Also, also: “What is it about the moment you fall in love? How can such a small measure of time contain such enormity?”
  • Actually I want to quote chunks of the book, but obvi I can’t do that.
  • I still like it upon re-read, although not as much as the first time. I partially blame the law of diminishing marginal utility applying itself.
  • But more like because I re-read it with its companion book, “Another Day”, and that seriously ruined things for me. I’ll explain more later on my review for “Another Day” below.
  • I would highly recommend if you want to be wrapped in beautifully woven words.

Diversity Watch:
A is the epitome of gender fluidity.

The bodies that A switched into is diverse in race, gender and body rep. Am amazed and happy with this.

There is a positive discussion with regards to mental health when A switched into the body of a girl with suicidal thoughts.

My Rating:

Another Day
by David Levithan

Every day is the same for Rhiannon. She has accepted her life, convinced herself that she deserves her distant, temperamental boyfriend, Justin, even established guidelines by which to live: Don’t be too needy. Avoid upsetting him. Never get your hopes up.

Until the morning everything changes. Justin seems to see her, to want to be with her for the first time, and they share a perfect day—a perfect day Justin doesn’t remember the next morning. Confused, depressed, and desperate for another day as great as that one, Rhiannon starts questioning everything. Then, one day, a stranger tells her that the Justin she spent that day with, the one who made her feel like a real person…wasn’t Justin at all.

In this enthralling companion to his New York Times bestseller Every Day, David Levithan tells Rhiannon’s side of the story as she seeks to discover the truth about love and how it can change you.

(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Genre/s: YA Romance
Series: Every Day #2
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication date:  August 25th 2015
Source/Format: Bought/Paperback
Purchase link: Amazon 

My Thoughts:
  • I know I was excited in the past about the news that there will be a companion novel to Every Day because I tweeted about it.

  • Fast forward to after the time I’m finished reading the said companion book and I’m like I wish I can blow away my excitement before because there is nothing much to get excited about.
  • First, I was deeply disappointed with the “another day” part which is also the ending because it did so little to make this companion book needed.
  • Second, it ruined the pure and lovable images of A and Rhianon for me. I liked them both in Every Day. I kind of rooted for their love in Every Day. But having read Rhianon’s point of view, I get to realize that she cheated on Justin with A. And that Justin is not a total jerk at all and he was hurt with what Rhianon did. I just think that it’s toxic to romanticize things that are really hurtful to others.
  • I recognize the effort to flesh out Rhianon and Justin. I see now that love can be pure on one side but can be complicated on the other. 
  • I just feel after reading it that I really don’t need Rhianon’s side of things. I want my untainted version of the story back. I wish I only read "Every Day".
  • No worries, Levithan’s beautiful writing is still there: “ Most of the time when we think we’re looking for death, we’re really looking for love.”
  • So I will maybe recommend if you are a die-hard David Levithan fan. 
  • I’ve heard there’s a sequel coming this year called “Someday”. I have no feelings about it at the moment.

Diversity Watch:
What stood out for me here was Rhianon’s reactions to A’s different bodies. Rhianon feels less enthused when A is not an attractive cis male. This is not negative because it made me reflect on how I will react if I am on the same situation.

My Rating:

Will Grayson, Will Grayson
by John Green, David Levithan

Will Grayson meets Will Grayson. One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two strangers are about to cross paths. From that moment on, their world will collide and lives intertwine.

It's not that far from Evanston to Naperville, but Chicago suburbanites Will Grayson and Will Grayson might as well live on different planets. When fate delivers them both to the same surprising crossroads, the Will Graysons find their lives overlapping and hurtling in new and unexpected directions. With a push from friends new and old - including the massive, and massively fabulous, Tiny Cooper, offensive lineman and musical theater auteur extraordinaire - Will and Will begin building toward respective romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history's most awesome high school musical.

(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Genre/s: YA Contemporary
Series: Will Grayson, Will Grayson #1
Publisher: Dutton Books
Publication date:  April 6th 2010
Source/Format: Bought/Paperback
Purchase link: Amazon 

My Thoughts:
  • The book is about two teenage boys who are both named Will Grayson and how their two worlds intersect.
  •  It’s in alternating first person PoV narration by both Wills. One Will is written by John Green and the other by David Levithan.
  •  While reading, I tried to guess which Will is by J.G. and which Will is by D.L., and what do you know, I guessed right! (according to the bonus content at the back of the book)
  • Both Wills are okay characters, I guess. I don’t have much feelings for them. The book owes its charm to the character, Tiny Cooper.
  • Tiny Cooper is the creator/director/actor of a musical aimed to celebrate love and gayness. He is the kind of person who belts out original musical numbers whenever he feels like it. Also he is huge and a linebacker of their football team.
  • Tiny’s enthusiasm with the things he love and the people he care about reminds me of Clarence from the Cartoon Network TV show.
  • Tiny is cartoonish but he is also oh so real. He reminds me too of this super gay classmate I had in college who is a social butterfly and flirts with every guy he meets.
  • It’s a funny book, thanks to Tiny’s hilarious antics and both Wills’ wit and sarcasm. 
  • David Levithan can write funny if he wants to.
  • The friendship dynamics here involves being rude and insulting to each other, not in the spirit of being mean but more like because they are overly familiar and close to each other. (Personally, I don’t like this kind of friendship. I thrive on positive reinforcement.)
  • There is this interesting and layered friendship (or non-friendship) of one Will with a Maura character, that I like.
  • The ending is a bit corny but that’s easily forgivable.
  • I just don’t like it when John Green tries to be unnecessarily deep and complicated. Like in this book, he compared how relationships work with the paradox of the Schrödinger's cat.
  • If you love shows like “Glee” and the “Pitch Perfect” films, I recommend this highly to you.

Diversity Watch:
I love how Tiny Cooper is the "pillar of fabulosity" for gayness. He is described as fat and he carries it with grace and and confidence.

My Rating:

Mini-Reviews: #romanceclass titles

Hello you, it's time for another round of mini-reviews. I’ve been meaning to share some Filipino authors on the blog, so in this post I will say my thoughts on some of my #romanceclass reads.

Bucket List To Love
by C.P. Santi

Aya Contreras is thrilled to be studying in the land of sakura and sushi. Tokyo is a fascinating city to live in—vending machines, cosplayers, karaoke boxes, and bright, colorful conbinis on every corner. And the architectural design program she’s in is everything she dreamed it to be.

The only problem? Her tutor doesn't seem to like her.

Well, she doesn't like him very much either. Sure, Ryohei Mori is talented, and there's no denying he's hot. But he's also a surly, bossy know-it-all who eats too many cookies.

Another annoying thing about him is he's nosy. And when he stumbles upon the crazy bucket list Aya's sisters forced on her, he teases her mercilessly about it.

But when their professor pairs them up for a design competition, things get . . . interesting. Fueled by beer and a whole lot of cookies, can Aya and Ryo cross out some items on her bucket list without killing each other? Or will they realize there's much more to each other than they'd originally thought?

(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Genre: Romance
Publisher: Anvil Publishing / Spark Books 
Publication date:  January 2017
Source/Format: Bought/Paperback
Purchase link: Amazon 

My Thoughts:
“Bucket List to Love” met my expectations: it brought me to Japan and it gave me a romantic love story to root for. I love the overall authentic feeling of the setting in the book. The book is even made genuine with its use of Japanese words and honorifics in the characters’ dialogues. I am mildly surprised that even without looking at the meanings of these Japanese words – a glossary was provided in the book at the back page – I can still understand them. I guess my occasional anime binge watching paid off.

I find the characters very likable: Aya for her moxie and Ryo for his just the right mix of suplado (snobbish) attitude. I love the chemistry between them and the thing that endeared me most to Aya and Ryo’s romance is how they are not just attracted to each other physically but intellectually as well. Added bonus likable characters: Aya’s awesome and supportive sisters, Yumi and Kit, whom I heard will have their own books as well soon. You know how I can always do with supportive sibling stories! I am now invested with these sisters, I’ll be right here waiting for the release of their books.

My Rating:

When Sparks Fly
by Ines Bautista-Yao

Twenty-four-year-old photographer's apprentice Regina has always felt like the plain, dull orange next to the shiny red apple that is her best friend Lana. But then she meets Ben—the first guy to ever break Lana's heart, and the first guy to ever make Regina feel that he only has eyes for her. As Regina finds herself falling hard for Ben, she also finds herself breaking all the rules of best-friendship. Will she give up the love of her life for Lana, or will she finally realize that she deserves her share of the spotlight, too?

When Sparks Fly can be read as a standalone novel, but it is also a prequel to Ines Bautista-Yao's other book Only A Kiss.

The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans. 

(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Genre: Romance
Publisher: self-published
Publication date:  August 15th 2016
Source/Format: Amazon freebie/eBook
Purchase link: Amazon 

My Thoughts:
I have a number of concerns with “ When Sparks Fly”. First, it lacks heat. I expected cheek-burning, ovary-stirring kissing scenes and stuff but it did not deliver. The writing is crisp and polished but the story is too dry and maybe not just what I’m looking for from this particular genre.

Second, I’m not sold on the love triangle among Regina, Ben and Lana. The tension between Lana and Regina is not tight enough. I like my love triangles tricky and surprising but this one is too predictable. Also, the resolution of the love triangle felt rushed. Instead of focusing on the love triangle and using it to maximum effect, the book chose to underdevelop it and proceeded to add another character (Alexa) into the mix.

Lastly, the characters have the personality of a paper doll. Maybe because this is a sort of a prequel to another book that I haven't read so I'm missing out on some character nuances? Whatever the case, I feel sorry that I saw no sparks flying between the love birds of this book.

My Rating:

Songs of Our Breakup
by Jay E. Tria

Every breakup has its playlist.

How do you get over a seven-year relationship? 21-year-old Jill is trying to find out. But moving on is a harder job when Kim, her ex-boyfriend, is the lead guitarist of the band, and Jill is the vocalist. Every song they play together feels like slicing open a barely healed tattoo.

Jill’s best friend Miki says she will be out of this gloom soon. Breakups have a probation period, he says. Jill is on the last month of hers and Miki is patiently keeping her company. 

But the real silver lining is Shinta. Having a hot Japanese actor friend in times like these is a welcome distraction. This gorgeous celebrity has been defying time zones and distance through the years to be there for Jill. Now he is here, physically present, and together he and Jill go through old lyrics, vivid memories, walks in the rain, and bottles of beer. Together they try to answer the question: what do you do when forever ends?

(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Series: Playlist #1
Genres: Romance
Publication date:  August 22nd 2015
Source/Format: Won from Giveaway/eBook
Purchase link: Amazon 

My Thoughts:
“Songs Of Our Breakup” has a lot of qualities that a lot of romance readers would enjoy, but I hated the characters! ALL of them are these extremely cool people whom I can’t relate to. Take Jill for example. She’s a straight-up manic pixie dream girl with not one, not two, but three boys pining for her affections. The third person PoV placed her far from the reader that she seems to serve no other purpose but to be an object of the male gaze. She watches the stars, pines for forever in romance, by and large basically appearing to have no clear ambition in life. The narrative’s main conflict is to make her run on the hamster wheel of heartbreak, which got frustrating for me. Even when she is alone taking a break from her love problems, she is still fantastically, unrelatably too cool.

Other stuff I’m not too happy about: not enough tension on the love quadrangle, cliches such as drama under a downpour of rain, a lot of “I love you’s” thrown that the phrase lost it’s meaning. It’s a bit of a shame because the book has some great lines, funny banters and steamy love scenes, but those are not enough to save me from losing interest on what’s next with these characters.

My Rating:

Mini-Reviews: Complicated YA Heroines

Complicated characters make reading interesting. In this post of yet another mini-reviews, let me talk about backlist books with complicated Y.A. heroines.

Jellicoe Road
by Melina Marchetta

In this lyrical, absorbing, award-winning novel, nothing is as it seems, and every clue leads to more questions.

At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother. At fourteen, she ran away from boarding school, only to be tracked down and brought back by a mysterious stranger. Now seventeen, Taylor's the reluctant leader of her school's underground community, whose annual territory war with the Townies and visiting Cadets has just begun. This year, though, the Cadets are led by Jonah Griggs, and Taylor can't avoid his intense gaze for long. To make matters worse, Hannah, the one adult Taylor trusts, has disappeared. But if Taylor can piece together the clues Hannah left behind, the truth she uncovers might not just settle her past, but also change her future.

(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Genres: YA Contemporary, YA Romance
Publisher: HarperTeen 
Publication date:  March 9th 2010 (first published 2006)
Source/Format: Bought/Paperback
Purchase link: Amazon 

My Thoughts:
  • Trigger warning: suicide, domestic abuse, implied child rape
  • I’ve seen a lot of people in Goodreads saying they are confused as hell with the beginning and I get that. There were two major timelines involved with flashbacks between those timelines. Not to mention dream sequences. I am confused as hell too at the start but I eventually got the book’s jibe and I swear, you will reap the rewards for sticking with it until the last pages.
  • The book is like a puzzle and it was a pleasure piecing it together.
  • I pretty much guessed how the characters and timelines fit halfway through but still there were nice touches in the ending that were unpredictable. One of which nice touches I’m talking about is that kindly postman in a train station. I mean, who would’ve known?!
  • I am currently seventy pages in re-reading it and now that I got the whole picture, it’s nice picking up the cues that I did not notice on the my first read.
  • This book wrecked me emotionally. All those poor characters beleaguered with tragedy. I remember there’s some ugly crying involved.
  • But there were a few laughs and chocolate chip muffins, too. The banter between characters are gold. And the way the characters treat the territory wars — which is actually just a childish fight on places to hang out — all political, serious and business-like has some hilarity to it.

Diversity Watch:
Taylor Markham – described as tall, lanky, brown hair and brown eyes

Jonah Griggs – racially indeterminate

Chaz Santangelo – dark skinned, black/Aboriginal mother and Italian father

Rafaela – racially indeterminate

Hannah – described as having hazel eyes.

My Rating:

Love Letters to the Dead
by Ava Dellaira

It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more -- though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was -- lovely and amazing and deeply flawed -- can she begin to discover her own path in this stunning debut from Ava Dellaira, Love Letters to the Dead. 
(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Genres: YA Contemporary, YA Romance
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:  April 1st 2014
Source/Format: Bought/Paperback
Purchase link: Amazon 

My Thoughts:
  • Trigger warning: implied child sex abuse
  • You probably know that Emma Watson tweeted about this book some years ago.
  • She recc’ed good! I’m done reading in no time despite my notoriety as a slow and easily distracted reader.
  • As the title suggests the book is literally just Laurel’s collection of friendly letters to famous dead people. It became her way of coping from her older sister’s death whom she greatly looks up to and the subsequent falling apart of her relationship with her parents.
  • I have a bit of a reservation of being fully sold with how the letters were written. I mean, If I write friendly letters talking about how I’ve been or what are the things that happened around me lately, I don’t do it complete with dialogues, proper punctuation and everything. The letters are just too authorly, in my opinion.
  • But that did not mean that I wasn’t emotionally involved with Laurel and her story. I was there with her when she was all clammed up with her grief and aloneness, when she slowly opened up and gained friends, realized that her sister had her own flaws, told us what really happened and eventually started her path to healing.
  • The romance between Laurel and her love interest is not over the top, with a surprise layer from the past that involved Laurel’s dead sister.
  • Even the supporting characters have likability and depth in them, too.
  • “I guess when you lose someone, sometimes it feels like you are the only one. But I’m not.”
  • Speaking of letters to famous dead people, If I’m going to write one a la Laurel, it’d probably be to Nick Drake. I’d thank him for sharing his gift of music to the world and I’d tell him how his songs made me feel less alone.

Diversity Watch:
My apologies, I forgot to take notes and now that I’m writing this review, I can’t recall any physical descriptions of the characters.

My Rating:
The Manifesto on How to be Interesting
by Holly Bourne

Apparently I'm boring. A nobody. But that's all about to change. Because I am starting a project. Here. Now. For myself. And if you want to come along for the ride then you're very welcome.

Bree is a loser, a wannabe author who hides behind words. Most of the time she hates her life, her school, her never-there parents. So she writes.

But when she’s told she needs to start living a life worth writing about, The Manifesto on How to Be Interesting is born. Six steps on how to be interesting. Six steps that will see her infiltrate the popular set, fall in love with someone forbidden and make the biggest mistake of her life.

From the bestselling author of Soulmates comes a fearlessly frank take on school, cliques and crushes.

(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Genres: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Usborne Publishing
Publication date:  August 1st 2014
Source/Format: Giveaway/Paperback
Purchase link: Amazon 

My Thoughts:
  • Trigger warning: self-harm
  • You probably know how I love me some Holly Bourne.
  • With deep regret tho, I must inform you that this is not her best work. No matter how many times I dropped and picked up the book, I still can't warm up to it. This is one of Holly's early works tho, I still adore her.
  • I just realized that almost all Holy Bourne characters either love lists or films or both.
  • Bree loves both. But I don’t like Bree at all. I mean, there are characters whose decisions I might not agree with but still manage to relate to. But Bree is like, sorry to say, TSTL.
  • She’s a wannabe author whose submitted manuscripts had been rejected one too many times. Then one of her teachers advised her to try to be more interesting and gain real life experiences that she can turn to literary art.
  • Okay I get that real life experiences contribute to art but I don’t get why Bree has to make herself the guinea pig of her own social experiments. 
  • I can forgive her for one or few reasonable bad decisions but there are just too many times when she knowingly and willingly went looking for trouble just for the sake of “gaining real-life experience”.
  • Bree be-friended the popular mean girls and the book attempted to avoid stereotyping them but that did not work for me.
  • Plus the Lolita-esque romantic (?) subplot left a bad taste in my mouth.
  • And even after all that, Bree was not able to translate her self-inflicted miseries to any literary art. In the end, she did not finish any manuscript. Surmising from the blog entries she has written for her how-to-be-interesting project, I don’t think that Bree’s writing is that special at all.
  • Bree’s teacher is a tool and his advice is total crap. She’s a teen, she still has a long way to go. What she needs is persistence: more writing practice, more reading or watching films, observing people, observing life in general and if she really has talent, the muse will come to her.

Diversity Watch:
Bree’s hair is described as a lanky mouse shade that she dyed an eccentric color then later dyed blond.

Holdo, Bree’s bestfriend is described with blondish hair and acne-splattered forehead.

Jasmine, ringleader of the popular girls, blond.

Hugo, popular boy in school, Jasmine’s boyfriend, described with deep-set blue eyes.

Gemma, one of the popular girls befriended by Bree, blond.

Jessica, one of the popular girls befriended by Bree, blue-eyed.

Matty, one of Hugo’s buddies, described as short, a bit chubs, ginger and Caucasian as hell skin.
Mr. Fellows, a teacher described with brown hair.

My Rating: