Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen Review

I picked this book up at the start of the year in Waterstones, I almost didn’t but I was buying a few books that day anyway and decided to take a chance. I am so glad I did.

I loved this book.

The story is about Ever, an Asian American who’s parents want her to attend medical school when she has a passion for dance. I suppose it is the age old story we all know, where the child’s parents are pushing them to do something that they don’t want to do.

On top of this, Ever’s parents have sent her to a summer in Chien Tan in Teipai, it is a summer school for the Asian American Elite. And is definitely not how Ever thought she would be spending her last summer before college.

I am not familiar with the culture but I found it interesting to learn about through the book. Supposedly parents send their children off to summer schools like this to find suitable partners for them. Hence the title Loveboat as everyone is hooking up and partying and trying to make the best out of the situation they are in.

Ever is thrown in the deep end at Chien Tan with a roommate who is hell bent on taking full advantage of Loveboat, while Ever decides to spend the summer breaking all the rules her parents set for her.

As the novel progresses, Ever realises that instead of trying to do things because she can that she should focus on doing things because she wants to, and she begins to come into her own identity.

I found myself relating a lot to Ever in the story, as I understand a lot of the pressure that Asian families put on their children. I mean my parents have never been pushy or anything about what I should be doing with my life, but it’s an underlying thing. You know how much they have sacrificed of their own lives for you and you feel the need to repay them in some way.

I know these feelings are not specific to Asian culture but it is definitely stronger there, especially if the family has emigrated from Asia to a Western country. They gave up everything and worked hard to give you the opportunities you have, so turning around and declining to do something for them feels like a betrayal. Which is how Ever feels about choosing dance over medical school.

Aside from the conflict of identity and breaking rules, Ever also has her own loveboat experiences as she ends up tangled in a bit of a love square? I can’t say I was super surprised about her love interests but I think I was surprised about the way things ended up.

I think it was a bit crap how things ended up with Xavier, the boy who didn’t get picked in the end, I guess I just hoped that he and Ever would remain friends, because they were friendly for a while before Ever chose Rick. But I guess when you have feelings for someone who doesn’t feel the same way, it’s best to stay away from the other person and protect yourself.

Overall an enjoyable read and I was super excited to find out that someone has bought the film rights to the book. I would love to see it come to life on screen because I think it would be amazing to see Taipei and this world come to life on screen.

I also found out that there will be a sequel to this book so I wonder where it will take us, I think it stands well as a solo book but I will definitely pick up a sequel if it’s released.

If you haven’t read this yet, I highly recommend it as I enjoyed it a lot, and I think it’s a great way to kick off some summer reading.

~ Courtney x

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood Review

I started reading this immediately after the Handmaid’s tale. I think I read the first 20 pages or so and then didn’t touch it for like almost a week and a half haha.

Again like the previous book, I found this one hard to get into. I guess I just sort of throw myself into books without taking time to digest the characters and making sense of what was going on.

But in this book there were three different point of views and naturally it took me a while to figure out which was which. Especially because two of them were named very similar, the difference being an A or a B at the end.

After a while though I picked up what was happening.

I really enjoyed this book. I think way more than the first. In this book we find out more about how the other women lived in Gilead, the Aunts and the little girls who were growing up to become wives.

This world fascinates me a lot which I think is why even though I took a long period away from reading this book I went back to it. I had to know what happened.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when jumping into this one. I was surprised that they didn’t mention Offred from the first novel directly. Though it is assumed that she was the mother of both the girls in the story.

Overall, I found it to be a good read. I can definitely understand why the series gets a lot of attention.

I don’t know if there will be more books to the series, though I see it being quite an easy series to add to over time. But that being said I would also be glad if it was just the two books.

I still have yet to watch the TV show but I think I will be adding it to my list of shows to watch now I’ve read both books. I know it will only be loosely based on the first book since the second one was only released last year but that’s fine. I’m just interested to know where they take it.

And with this book complete I am now halfway to my goal of reading 30 books this year! I think I’m making good progress and am a little bit ahead of where I should be so that’s nice.

I’m glad that even in our current circumstances and even with my excessive amounts of Animal Crossing play that I can still find time to read lol.

Not sure what my next book will be, I think maybe one I picked up from Waterstones at the start of the year.

As usual you can expect some kind of reading update in the future. Whether it is here or on GoodReads.

~ Courtney x

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood Review

I wasn’t sure about this one but I decided to give it a go after someone gave me a brief description of the TV show. I feel very behind with this but it’s better late than never right? Plus I haven’t seen the TV show yet so I might as well take a chance with the book if I don’t really know what to expect.

I have to be honest, I almost gave up on this one. I was finding it hard to get into the story as the timelines kept changing from the past and the present, it was initially hard to keep up with the change. The writing style was also not an easy one to get into, I have been reading a mix recently so I’m not surprised when a writing style isn’t what I am expecting, but normally I can get into it fine, this one just took longer than most.

I would say I got into it after the first 100 pages or so, I know they say you should read a book until at least 50 pages in to see if you like it or not. But to me, if you make it that far you might as well see it to the end. I can’t just leave something unfinished, even if I didn’t like it.

But with this one, I found it easier to read big chunks at a time and then leave it for a few days. I think it’s the kind of thing you have to be in the mood to read. But we made it through in the end.

Overall I did enjoy the story, it’s an interesting take on what society would do to handle a situation. It’s actually made me interested in the TV show just to see what happens with that.

I do wish we knew more about the transition process and also about what happened to Offred after she was captured. When I got to the end and it was explained the story was told through Offred in a bunch of tapes and they weren’t in order, it suddenly made sense that the story was so haphazard in it’s switch between past and present. It is still sad that we don’t know for sure what happened to her.

I know there is a sequel now but I’m not sure if it will even tell us what happened. Though I probably will read it because I am interested to see what will come from that and what we will learn about this world.

And as I said before I will probably watch the TV show too, it’ll be different from the book for sure, considering the TV show has 3 seasons now and you can’t stretch a book that far out. But I want to know what direction they take the story.

While I am surprised it took me so long to get through this book after reading my last two books quite quickly I am not going to let it deter me from my reading journey. I am basically halfway through my goal to read 30 books this year and I would like to try and keep my pace up.

I know it’s not a race, but I don’t want to get lazy with it and not pick up another book for months again because I do quite enjoy my reading time.

So hopefully I’ll be back with another book review soon, if not then I’ve been distracted by Animal Crossing as usual lol.

~ Courtney x