Review: The Shadows

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Rating: ★★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Celadon Books) in exchange for an honest review.

I just want to start off by saying that I haven’t read The Whisper Man so I cannot say how this book compares to that one. Because of that, I didn’t have any expectations going into the book. I ended up really enjoying it.

At first, I was a little hesitant to read this because I didn’t know how scary it was going to be. It ended up only being a little scary (at least to me). So if you’re a little bit of a scaredy cat like me, you should be able to handle this book.

The strongest part of this book was definitely the writing style. It was so effortless but still managed to create a creepy vibe. I liked the use of short chapters since it made the book easy to digest. There is some back and forth between past and present which was done really well. It wasn’t confusing at all since it was done in short spurts. I never felt like there was a huge information dump which can happen with dual timelines. 

My only critique of this book was the ending. I wasn’t wowed by it. I thought the reveal was going to be mind-blowing but it wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad ending. It just didn’t have the impact I was expecting. 

Overall, despite the ending, this was still a solid thriller. I would definitely recommend it. 


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Review: Anxious People

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Rating: ★★★★½

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Atria Books) in exchange for an honest review. 

This was my first book by Fredrik Backman and I was not disappointed. I didn’t have any expectations going in and this book ended up taking me for a ride. There were a lot of twists and turns that I did not see coming. I didn’t know that this book was a little bit of a mystery so I ended up being pleasantly surprised. 

The author’s insights into the human condition are so insightful. He really delves into the choices people make and what motivates them. He has a talent of saying so many poignant things in such an effortless way. I can definitely see why so many people love his books. 

The cast of characters were probably the best part of the book. They were idiots, but lovable idiots. I don’t have a favorite because I loved them all. They all had something about them that I found compelling. 

I loved how the story all came together. There are a lot of little random things that get mentioned, especially in the beginning, that you don’t quite know what to do with yet. But by the end, it all makes sense and there is that a-ha moment where everything falls into place. 

Overall, this book lives up to all the hype! 


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Review: Dating Makes Perfect

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Entangled Teen) in exchange for an honest review. Since I received an ARC, my quotes from the book are tentative. 

This was the cutest YA rom-com! 

Okay so first I just have to talk about the #OwnVoices aspect. As a Filipino American, I know how important it is to have your stories told, so I was so happy to finally see a book about the Thai American experience. I had never read a book about the Thai American experience before so I was super eager to read this. From food to the Songkran festival, there was a lot of Thai culture woven throughout the novel. 

The premise of this book is adorable. I loved how the dates were inspired by romantic comedies including some of my favorites, “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” and “Always Be My Maybe.” 

I found this book to be highly relatable. As an Asian American, I could relate to some of Winnie’s experiences. For example, at one point, Winnie’s mom jumps to the conclusion that Winnie could be pregnant. Winnie replies, “Must you always skip fifty million steps? I haven’t even kissed him yet” (pg 126). Yup. My mom is like that too. You start dating a boy and their mind immediately goes to pregnancy. There’s also the quintessential bringing weird food to school moment that Winnie mentions in passing. Lastly, I related to how Winnie talks about respect towards her parents. She states,

“Sometimes, I get so bored of this respect. Yes, it’s important, and yes, it’s my parents’ due. But respect also prevents us from admitting our infractions— and talking about them. That’s what I want. For us to talk. Not as friends, exactly, but certainly without this yawning chasm between us.”

pg. 237

I think that is so true. There can often be this divide between Asian parents and their children because of this notion of respect. 

As for the romance, I thought it was so cute. It’s the classic childhood friends to lovers and enemies to lovers tropes but I thought it was done very well. Winnie and Mat had a lot of chemistry so I loved them as a couple. 

Overall, I recommend this #OwnVoices romance! This book gave me a ton of “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” vibes, so if you like that movie or the books, you’ll probably like this! 

Review: Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (Tristan Strong #1)

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Rating: ★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free as part of an Instagram tour (Storygram Tours specifically) I did to promote the book. 

So first off I just want to say that it is incredibly refreshing to read a book about mythology that isn’t Greek. I know very little about African/African American mythology so it was fun to learn about it through reading this book. 

Since this is the first book in a new series, it is a little slow. That is understandable since there is a lot of world building and set-up that needs to be done. The one thing it could have done better was developed some of the supporting characters more. Like I wanted to know more about Ayanna. I can tell there is more to her. However, I am sure this will be revealed in the coming books. 

I really liked that there was a map included. Maps are always so helpful in reading fantasy books and makes it easy to follow the heroes on their journey. 

I also liked how the author would slip in some important messages throughout the book. At one point John Henry is talking about the Jim Crow laws and states, “A lot of times those little facts get smudged cutoff the history books. If you gon’ tell a story, you better be sure you’re telling the right one” (pg 108). At another point the main character muses, “it was my job to carry the stories of the land to its people. All the stories. If we ignored the past, how would we learn from it” (pg 426). Both of these quotes are so important because they show the importance of learning history, both the good and the bad.

Overall, I thought this was a Strong start to a new Own Voices series. I am intrigued to see what happens next. 


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Review: The Lion’s Den

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Rating: ★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the Publisher (Grand Central Publishing) in exchange for an honest review. 

Wow. What a crazy ride! This book really took me on an adventure through the lives of the rich.

This is a summer mystery novel that kept me guessing until the very end. All throughout the novel you know something is up, but it won’t all be revealed until the end. The way it all came about was very smart and clever. I liked how there were small little mentions of things that would later become integral to the plot and mystery. 

One small issue that I had was that the book felt a little slow in the beginning. It took a bit to really get the book rolling. This was in part due to the flashbacks. The flashbacks were very important, but in the beginning I was super eager to learn more about the present day situation. As the book went on, I enjoyed the flashbacks more because they provided more insight into what was happening. 

Additionally, I wanted to know a little bit more about what happened to some of the supporting characters afterwards. The book wraps up everything with the main character, but not for the supporting characters. 

Overall, I recommend this book for anyone looking to get lost in a fun summer read! 


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Review: Opposite of Always

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free free as part of an Instagram tour (Storygram Tours specifically) I did to promote the book.

This was such a fun YA book!

I absolutely loved the premise. The time loop aspect was so interesting. I liked how you saw the consequences to Jack’s actions throughout every go around. 

In a way this book is kind of sad because the love interest is continually dying. But at the same time it is still full of hope. 

I loved the characters. Since this book is a time loop you spend a lot of time with them and get to seem them react to different scenarios. I loved the friendship between Jack, Jillian, and Franny. They were so supportive of one another and were like a tight knit family (most of the time). 

The only downside to the book is that it is a bit repetitive because of the time loop. Luckily, after a few times through, it does not rehash the same events. 

Lastly, this book is Own Voices which I loved. The book even mentions the importance of it. The main character states, “I’ve always loved reading. But there aren’t a lot of books about kids like me. And I just think every kid deserves a book that looks like them” (pg 34). Amen to that! 

Overall, I really enjoyed this YA debut! 


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Review: The Places We Sleep

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Rating: ★★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from Books Forward in exchange for an honest review.

I was really intrigued by this book because it centers on 9/11. I was only 6 years old when it happened so I never truly felt the magnitude of it. 

This book did an amazing job detailing how 9/11 rocked everyone’s world. You saw how 12 year old Abbey felt. You saw how her mom reacted to finding out her sister went missing during the attack. You saw her dad’s military response to it. You saw how regular civilians felt about the possibility of war. You saw racial prejudices exhibited by Abbey’s classmates to a fellow student. The book covered a range of experiences.

This is a novel in verse so the entire book was written in poetry. As a whole, I thought the poems were well done. However, I would have loved if the poems had titles. Instead, they were numbered. Sometimes titles can help enhance the poem and create a bigger impact. But on the flip side, having no titles made the book more novel like. It reads very smoothly because of that. At times, it didn’t even feel like you’re were reading poetry because you get sucked into the story. 

Plot-wise, I wanted a little more, especially towards the end. I wanted there to be a little more development with some of the supporting characters. Even though this book centers on 9/11, it is also a coming of age story. One of the things that gets explored is periods. I am happy that this book did not shy away from showing girls getting their period for the first time. 

Overall, I recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more about the American reaction to 9/11. This book is aimed towards middle grade readers but can still be enjoyed by adults. 


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Review: The Summer Demands

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Rating: ★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (Catapult) in exchange for an honest review.

Going into this book, I was very excited to read it because loved the premise. It’s exactly the type of book I like to read. However, the execution left much to be desired. 

I didn’t become hooked into the book until about halfway through. That is when things got interesting due to an arrival of a new character. Once that happened, the book ended rather quickly. It felt like there could have been a lot more development in that second half. There was a lot of potential for things to get more complex. I was waiting for it to reach a breaking point, but it never did. 

When it came to the characters, I felt like the supporting ones were not fully fleshed out. For example, I never felt like I truly knew much about the main character’s husband, David, and how he felt during the whole thing. I expected there to be more tension surrounding him. 

As for the writing, I did like the prose. There was something special about it and it really helped set the tone and mood of the story. The prose also highlighted the mystique of the camp well. 

Overall, this book had a lot of potential but it ultimately fell flat. 


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Review: Walk With Wings

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

This was such an inspiring poetry collection! 

The book is divided into 5 sections each with its own theme. My favorite was Monsoon Love, which was the shortest section but it was filled with love poems. I have a thing for romantic poems. I am such a sucker for them. A lot of poems from this section reminded me of Michael Faudet and Lang Leav’s poetry. The following sections were very reminiscent of Rupi Kaur and Amanda Lovelace’s poetry. So if you like any of those poets, you’ll probably like this one. 

I had a lot of favorite poems. Here is the list of my favorites:

  • I Write To Heal (pg 5)
  • Missing You (pg 9)
  • Synchronization (pg 10)
  • Love Song (pg 13)
  • Forever (pg 17)
  • True Colors (pg 24)
  • Makeup (pg 33)
  • Heartbite (pg 34)
  • Masking Pain (pg 36)
  • Dying Love (pg 38)
  • Almost Right (pg 39)
  • Caged (pg 40)
  • Numb (pg 47)
  • Still I Dream (pg 51)
  • Bitter Trials (pg 53)
  • Blessings (pg 61)
  • A Letter To My Natural Hair (pg 65)
  • Celebrate Yourself (pg 71)
  • No Ordinary Woman (pg 75) 
  • Rejection (pg 78) 
  • Girl Power (pg 87)
  • Girl Boss (pg 98)
  • Irreplaceable (pg 107)
  • Love Hurts (pg 108) 
  • Shit Happens (pg 109)
  • Inner Battles (pg 111)
  • Situationship (pg 114)
  • Dignity (pg 118)
  • Love Exists (pg 123) 
  • Someone’s Favorite (pg 124)
  • Introvert (pg 131)
  • Self-Development (pg 151)
  • Partnership (pg 160)

It’s a lot, I know! I just loved all the bits of wisdom in these poems. The whole collection was very uplifting and positive. It’s a great book to read after a heartbreak or just when you’re down. 

Overall, I loved this collection! 


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Review: You Brought Me The Ocean

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Rating: ★★★★½

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (DC Comics) in exchange for an honest review.  

This was a heartfelt origin story that tackles identity and sexuality. 

Prior to reading this, I had no idea who Jake Hyde (aka Aqualad) was so I had no expectations going in about his origin story. I was pleasantly surprised. The superhero element was a lot more subtle than I thought it would be. Jake trying to figure out the mystery behind his powers and coming to terms with his sexuality were both given equal weight. I liked that the book didn’t go too overboard with the superhero aspect because that could have easily overshadowed the coming-out story. 

The plot is very basic (it’s not the most exciting superhero comic you will read), but it works well for what the story was trying to accomplish. Sometimes less is more, and this book proves that. 

As for the characters, I loved Kenny. He was hands down my favorite character. I also loved the diversity in the characters. Jake is black. His best friend, Maria, is Latina. Kenny is Asian. The teacher, Mrs. Archer, is Native American. 

At first I wasn’t a fan of the artwork. I saw a sneak peek of this in another DC Comic and I was a little hesitant. The artwork seemed a little incomplete. But as I started the book and kept reading, I grew to love and appreciate it. There was actually a lot of detail in the sketches. I loved that at the end of the book there was sketches from the illustrator explaining the thought process behind them. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this beautiful superhero comic and its coming-out storyline! #RepresentationMatters 


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