This review and others by me can also be read on my Goodreads. 🙂
I liked this book a lot!! Empress of the World was an easy YA read that reminded me of what it was like being 16 and infatuated with a girl. The love the narrator and protagonist, Nic, and felt for her trying desperately to always make sense of things with words: her identity, her feelings for her friends, even trying to “figure out” other people. The way Ryan writes Nic’s conflict with labeling her bisexuality and addressing others trying to make that decision for her. The way that Nic thinks through her attraction to other girls her age while also honoring the crushes on boys she’s had felt very authentic, as well as her roping in the difference between ‘like’ and ‘love’ feelings. Dealing with her heartbreak, the gender dynamics of that, as well as the way that Nic experiences discrimination or even annoying and sometimes hurtful microaggressions from her friends, all felt appropriate. The characterization of Nic’s friend group was thorough at the beginning, but tapered off just a bit as the book focused on Nic and Battle’s relationship. Empress of the World is a sweet book on summer friendships and romances as a nervous teenager, too smart for your own good sometimes. 5/5
Strange Weather in Tokyo read similarly to the way a cup of coffee or tea acts to keep you company rather than to drink up right away. It is a leisurely read following a slow-paced and simple romance between a now-adult student and her older ex-teacher. The main characters are both reserved and unhurried in almost every interaction as their plot-less time together passes. If you prefer a passionate love story, this book may not be your favorite, but Tsukiko and Sensei’s progression of companionship aligns with who both characters seem to be at heart. While I wasn’t completely invested in them, by the end of this read I was still touched by their story. 3 stars
This review contains spoilers!
I chose to read Love in the Time of Cholera in the time of my own romanceless historical pandemic, hoping the love story would ignite something in me. After reading the synopsis and following the novel’s initial introduction of his character, I did not think I would care for Florentino Ariza and his love (re)proclamation at all. A lifetime allegiance of fidelity along with taking 600+ lovers? A confession of love while Fermina Daza’s late husband was not even cold yet in his grave? I was not buying it. However, my opinion shifted as I followed Florentino’s life after his graceless rejection. His passion was definite. Fermina Daza was written rather coldly in terms of her own attitude towards love, even when she was apparently her most in love. I felt her late husband to be the most honest of the three, or at least the most believable lover. I felt sad for Florentino’s life of pining after a woman who would not really see him.
The writing was lyrical. I learned new vocabulary with this read, as well as how to stop reading when chapter structure was not so easy. To say the least, I did not enjoy the casual and, in my opinion unnecessary, pedophilic relationship between elderly Florentino and his teenage ward. To be honest, it soured my fairly positive regard for his character at the end and ruined much if not all of the magic his dedication towards love weaved throughout the story.