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Diplomatic Immunity by Brodi Ashton

Hello! Before we get started on the usual humdrum of reviews, book tags and the usual fun, I wanted to apologise for having been gone for so long! 
I honestly have no excuses - I should have been more on top of things, and not just gone AWOL with no warning. 
That being said, I am making a concerted effort to be more part of this community again - I thought back to 2016 when I rejoined the community, and how welcoming you all were - you guys honestly made my days back then! I had so much fun, and I really enjoyed book blogging! 
Without further ado...here's a book review! It's an old book review I've had shelved as a draft since 2016 heheheheh but I hope you enjoy! 

The Breakdown


General Info:
     Title: Diplomatic Immunity
     Author: Brodi Ashton 
     Genre: Contemporary, YA 
     Publisher: Balzer + Bray
     Publishing Date: September 6th, 2016

Thoughts:
     Excellent:
          - Representation of autistic people felt authentic

    Things that could have been better:
         - Characters - Piper and Rafael were boring and dull - no chemistry 
         - Weak ending

Rating: 2 stars
Goodreads | Amazon |

Initial Thoughts

I really picked up this title because of the title. It sounded like it would be full of political intrigue, and it made me think of The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne, which I thought was a cute, fluffy politics-based romance. Even after reading the synopsis and finding out it was about journalism, I wasn't deterred, because I had heard of Brodi Ashton before. In fact, I tried reading Everneath (a book that Ashton had previously published) and I DNFed it, but hey, I can always give second chances right? 

Aspiring reporter Piper Baird decides to write a scathing exposé on the overprivileged students at an elite Washington, DC, school, only for her life to change when she begins to fall for the story's main subject, in this new realistic contemporary romance from Brodi Ashton, the author of the Everneath trilogy.
Raucous parties, privileged attitudes, underage drinking, and diplomatic immunity...it’s all part of student life on Embassy Row.
Piper Baird has always dreamed of becoming a journalist. So when she scores a scholarship to exclusive Chiswick Academy in Washington, DC, she knows it’s her big opportunity. Chiswick offers the country’s most competitive prize for teen journalists—the Bennington scholarship—and winning will ensure her acceptance to one of the best schools in the country.
Piper isn’t at Chiswick for two days before she witnesses the intense competition in the journalism program—and the extreme privilege of the young and wealthy elite who attend her school. And Piper knows access to these untouchable students just might give her the edge she’ll need to blow the lid off life at the school in a scathing and unforgettable exposé worthy of the Bennington.
The key to the whole story lies with Rafael Amador, the son of the Spanish ambassador—and the boy at the center of the most explosive secrets and scandals on Embassy Row. Rafael is big trouble—and when he drops into her bedroom window one night, asking for help, it’s Piper’s chance to get the full scoop. But as they spend time together, Piper discovers that despite his dark streak, Rafael is smart, kind, funny, and gorgeous—and she might have real feelings for him. How can she break the story of a lifetime if it could destroy the boy she just might love?

Thoughts

Diplomatic Immunity was a step up from Ashton's Everneath books for me - at least this time I could finish reading the book. However, that's not to say that Diplomatic immunity doesn't have flaws and all. In fact, I believe that it has several of them that made it difficult for me to truly get on board with the story. 

First of all - the characters. They all fit into some stereotype or another, and were flat and dull. Piper, the main character, is characterised by her drive to get into Columbia University and study journalism - she's willing to do just about anything to achieve her goals. I think my main issue with her was that I couldn't relate to her at all. I have never wanted anything as much as Piper has - not even to get into medicine, which is my dream goal that I'm working towards right now. I have never been so determined to achieve my goals that I would cross ethical boundaries for them, which Piper certainly does in Diplomatic Immunity. Furthermore, even if I did cross ethical boundaries, I would definitely know that what I was doing was unethical. However, we have Piper and her best friend who both are oblivious as ever, to write an expose on Piper's friends. In short, I didn't relate to Piper because she was everything I was not - someone who has unrealistic goals and oblivious to her sense of morals. 

Rafael was a character I did not love and swoon over. He was the stereotype of the bad boy who is nice to the main character. For me, he didn't stand out at all, with no quirks that made him unique or different from the other bad boys in other books. 

The ending of Diplomatic Immunity also had me scratching my head. Firstly - it was too perfect. It was a fairytale ending, constructed in a few pages, after several pages of angst. It didn't fit in with the book for me, and it left many loose ends. For one, what happened to Samuel? And Piper's family? Lots of unanswered questions, and lots of focus on the romance in the novel. I expected the ending to be a lot more nuanced than just a focus on romance. 

The one commendable thing in Diplomatic Immunity is the portrayal of people who are on the spectrum. Autistic people don't get a lot of attention in YA books - in fact, I think this is the frist book I've read that actually depicts them. I don't know if the representation is accurate though - I lack personal experience to verify that. Regardless, Michael and Alejandro were refreshing characters, and I loved how their characters weren't defined by the fact that they were autistic, and they were very real characters. I would go so far to say that they were better characterised than the two lead characters - Piper and Rafael. 

Final Thoughts

Diplomatic Immunity was a disappointing read for me, with the main highlights being its easy readability and honest characterisation of two autistic characters. Most of the book left a sour taste, with my inability to relate to Piper being a major reason for this. I'm going to give a hard pass from recommending this book - it's a 2 stars from me. 

*additional thoughts from me since its now 2018 and I read this book in 2016: uhhhhh i didn't remember anything from this book??? guess it was super unmemorable and not that interesting in the end 


Rating

This is based off my Goodreads review, which ranks the book by its characters, plot, writing style and entertainment value. 


Thoughts in a Phrase 



Keep reading and loving books!
Geraldine


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A Taxonomy of Love by Rachael Allen



The Breakdown


General Info:
     Title: A Taxonomy of Love 
     Author: Rachael Allen
     Genre: Contemporary, YA 
     Publisher: ABRAMS Kids
     Publishing Date: 9th January, 2018

Thoughts:
     Excellent:
          -  Emphasis on family 
          - Gives a voice for people with Tourette's Syndrome and their close relatives and friends
    Things that could have been better:
         - Plot was very typical of normal YA books

Rating: 3 stars
Goodreads | 

Initial Thoughts

I was hooked by the book synopsis; a character with Tourette's Syndrome. The cover was gorgeous, and the first few pages were interesting, so I knew I had to request this title from Netgalley! Many thanks to ABRAM Kids, who approved my request to receive an advanced copy of A Taxonomy of Love
The moment Spencer meets Hope the summer before seventh grade, it’s . . . something at first sight. He knows she’s special, possibly even magical. The pair become fast friends, climbing trees and planning world travels. After years of being outshone by his older brother and teased because of his Tourette syndrome, Spencer finally feels like he belongs. But as Hope and Spencer get older and life gets messier, the clear label of “friend” gets messier, too.

Through sibling feuds and family tragedies, new relationships and broken hearts, the two grow together and apart, and Spencer, an aspiring scientist, tries to map it all out using his trusty system of taxonomy. He wants to identify and classify their relationship, but in the end, he finds that life doesn’t always fit into easy-to-manage boxes, and it’s this messy complexity that makes life so rich and beautiful.

Thoughts

I love how we had a protagonist with Tourette's Syndrome. Reading is a gateway towards understanding others' lives, and I felt like we got a good taste of what it might be like to have Tourette's Syndrome. A Taxonomy of Love covers many aspects of disability, ranging from the medication schedules, side-effects, and experimentation, to the stigma experienced. I particularly appreciated how Allen showed that disability isn't necessarily a hindrance towards a 'normal' life. 
However, unfortunately, I don't think A Taxonomy of Love is a particularly memorable book. As a contemporary novel, it blends into the background of all other contemporary YA novels, despite its strong, intriguing protagonist. For me, A Taxonomy of Love followed the same formulaic structure that most contemporary YA novels follow: childhood friends, high-school angst, with an eventual romantic relationship. The only thing that really makes this book stand out would be the character's diagnosis of Tourette's Syndrome. 
Many contemporary YA novels fail to address a key aspect of many teenagers' lives; family. I love how A Taxonomy of Love was not one of these novels, with the strong emphasis on Spencer's parents and grandmothers. I also really appreciated Allen tackling Spencer's difficulty in obtaining his father's approval and his feelings of inferiority to his brother. Coming from a family where there are three girls - I constantly felt like I had to fight with my sisters for my parent's attention and approval, and I loved how Allen addressed this, particularly as Spencer has Tourette's Syndrome, which I would imagine would compound these feelings of inferiority, as Allen continually repeats in the book. 
At times, it did feel like I was reading a middle-grade novel - but this was mostly in the first half of the book. I did feel like this book is less accessible who people who aren't familiar with the U.S. schooling system - I was unsure what age the characters were due to the distinct U.S. take on this story, and so I initially thought this book was more middle-grade oriented. 

Final Thoughts

All in all, A Taxonomy of Love is a wonderful take on a protagonist with Tourette's Syndrome, that is ultimately marred by a predictable plot, which reduces this tale down to a simple story that is twisted by high-school love and drama. If the entire plot of this story didn't rest on Spencer's obsession on Hope, I think I would have enjoyed this story a lot more, as it would have seemed less juvenile. 
Nevertheless, A Taxonomy of Love is still a good read for anyone who would like to understand Tourette's Syndrome a bit more. 


Rating

This is based off my Goodreads review, which ranks the book by its characters, plot, writing style and entertainment value. 



Thoughts in a Phrase 

Strong characters that are ultimately let down by a predictable plot

Keep reading and loving books!
Geraldine


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I'm Feeling Wanderlust | The Around The World Book Tag


Hi everyone! 

I'm here with a new book tag today! I really admire how creative book-tag-creators are...because these seriously take a lot of work! 
I love traveling...and as someone who hasn't been able to travel for the past three years, I'm feeling that wanderlust again! 
This book tag will be a bit different to normal book tags - I'll be writing down the places that fit the category or my personal experiences, along with a book that fits the category! 

1. Sailing Across the Seas - A book about travelling - bonus points if it's travel by sea! 
My experience/place: I've actually never travelled by sea before, but I kind of want to travel in the Dead Sea, just because I've heard stories about how the density is different, so I can float easily there! 
My book: Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan! 

2. Fine Dining - A book that made you hungry with its overwhelming descriptions of food 
My experience/place: MALAYSIA. I love Malaysia, it's where I was born, but I consider it a holiday destination since I spend less than a month in it every year. The food here is actually the main reason I return - from Sarawak laksa, kolo-mee, chao kueh tiao, pig trotters and rice, as well as the various desserts like layer cake, the Nonya desserts, and Ais Kachang, Malaysia is a food heaven for me! 
My book: Haven't actually read a book that's made me that hungry...probably because I always have a snack with me hahaha...Unless you count recipe books! Give me recommendations on books with lots of food! 

3. From Motels to Hotels - A book that was an unexpected surprise 
My experience/place: Oh my god, there is this one hotel in Beijing that was THE BEST HOTEL I HAVE EVER BEEN TO. My family went to Beijing as part of a tour, and I was expecting a 3-star hotel or something, nothing too fancy, with the standard shower, TV set and beds cramped into one room. Instead, we got a five-room suite, with...wait for it...a STAIRCASE. The bottom floor was one bedroom, a bathroom, and a sitting area; going up the staircase led to another three rooms. Our six-person party had access to this entire place ALL TO OURSELVES because it was classed as ONE ROOM. I STILL HAVE PHOTOS OF IT AND I LOVE IT. 
Going to that hotel was one of the happiest moments of my life. 
My book: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. I actually expected this to be trash, because the friend who recommended it to me really liked The Vampire Diaries, which I read and thought was trash. Turns out my friend liked the TV show The Vampire Diaries, which I ended up liking at the time (when The Vampire Diaries was showing Season 3 episodes lolll), and coincidentally, I really loved Vampire Academy too. 


4. Miscommunication - A book that's hard to understand 
My experience/place: Again, when I went to China, because I looked Chinese, a lot of people spoke to me in Mandarin...jokes on them when I tried speaking back in broken Mandarin ahahahahaha
My book: Soundless by Richelle Mead. It was just hard to understand this book, mostly because its concept revolved around the inability of the citizens to speak, and how the citizens relied on sign language. 


5. Sightseeing - A book that you picked up because it's really popular 
My experience/place: Phi Phi Islands in Thailand. We went around so many small islands on a small motor boat, and we could see how clear the water was, and the beach was just so pristine...it was gorgeous! 
My book: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. It ended up being sort of a disappointment, to be honest...but it was BIG at the time it came out. 

6. Dealing with the Desert - A book that you were so addicted to, that you could have gone days without water just to read it
My experience/place: I've never been to the desert, but one day I'd like to go to Antarctica, even though I hate the cold. It's just such a novel place - a frozen desert. 
My book: Anything by Cassandra Clare! Another anecdote - I actually spent a whole day, sitting by the fireplace, reading City of Heavenly Fire, from start to finish. I don't think I ate, I don't think I even took a break; I was completely immersed in the Shadowhunter world.

7. Journey through the Jungle - A book that was difficult to navigate through 
My experience/place: HAHA in Malaysia, my grandparents essentially live in a jungle... But I'd love to go to the Amazon someday! 
My book: Whisper to Me by Nick Lake. This book, whilst an awesome representation of mental illness, was really hard for me to get into. I had no idea what was actually happening sometimes, and it made me work really hard to follow the plot. 

8. Holiday House in the Hamptons - A book you continually revisit, time after time again. 
My experience/place: A place I continually revisit is Malaysia! Malaysia is almost my second home, with my grandparents there, and some of my extended family members. 
My book: Wild Swans by Jung Chang. I'm actually due for a reread, to be honest! But I find this book fascinating, because it explores three generation of women, and their experiences in China, especially around the time of the Cultural Revolution. 

9. Souvenirs - A book you would give as a gift for a close friend 
My experience/place: Once, I got a souvenir from a friend who went to Fiji, and I was really touched she got me something...until I found out everyone else got the same thing as me! I'm really picky, and I like feeling special, so ever since then, I've made sure to buy souvenirs that are unique and personal for the person I'm getting them for! 
My book: For Gabby, my sister, I actually got her Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. Definitely a book I would give to any empowered young woman! 


10. There's No Place Like Home - A book that makes you feel like you're home 
My experience/place: Even though I thought Brisbane was small, and there was nothing to do in Brisbane, recently, I've seen more and more events crop up, that are Brisbane events! There's so much to do in this sunny city...sometimes I don't feel like leaving it! 
My book: Anne of Green Gables! I read this when I was young, and it made me feel all the feels...I could see Anne growing up, and I did similar things to all the foolish things she did! 

I tag...
As always, I tag whoever wants to do this! If you decide to do this tag...tweet me your post! I'd be keen to check it out; otherwise, comment a link in the comments below! 
But in particular, I'd love to hear:
1) Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books - you go travelling so often, it would be awesome to hear your thoughts! 
3) Cilla @ Paved With Books

Keep reading and loving books!
Geraldine


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