Review: William Shakespeare’s Avengers

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (Quirk Books) for promotional purposes. 

This book is pure genius!

I’m a huge MCU fan (I’ve seen every movie and tv show) and I enjoy reading Shakespeare so I knew I needed to read this. I’ve also read the author’s Shakespearean Mean Girls retelling (aptly titled Much Ado About Mean Girls) and loved it. 

This book is all 4 Avengers movies written as Shakespearen plays. It includes stage directions, a list of characters, and even full color illustrations (loved seeing the Avengers dressed Shakespearean style). All the iconic lines and scenes are translated perfectly. 

However, the most genius aspects are the Prologue and the characters’ speech patterns. The Prologue recaps the previous movies (i.e. Iron Man, Captain America) and is written in an acrostic that spells out the movie titles. How smart is that? 

The author gave all the main Avengers characters (20 in total) unique speech patterns. For example, Hawkeye’s dialogue features bird related terms for obvious reasons and Ant-Man’s dialogue contains both a one syllable word and a 4 syllable word since he can shrink small and grow very large. The fact that the author came up with patterns for 20 different characters is insane. Major kudos to him. 

Overall, this is a must read for Marvel and Shakespeare fans! It would make a great gift as well.


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Review: Far From The Shallow

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Rating: ★★★★

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

The thing I love most about poetry is how personal it can be. This collection was the epitome of that. I could tell that every poem came from the heart.

I really liked the water theme that was woven throughout the poems. It made the collection very cohesive. 

The end included a note from the author that further explained the meaning behind the collection. The author’s note really helped bring the collection full circle. 

My one critique is that I would have liked to see the poems divided into sections. A lot of poetry collections, especially ones centering around trauma and healing, often use sections to help guide the reader through their journey. The poems clearly told a story and sections (perhaps one dealing with water) would have elevated the book even more. 

I loved a lot of the poems. Here is a list of the ones that really stood out to me: 

  • Lilac Notes (pg. 12)
  • Needle and Thread (pg. 21)
  • Peace in the Rain (pg. 24)
  • Blooming (pg. 32)
  • My Guardian Angel (pg. 34)
  • Brave (pg. 56)
  • Lost Girl (pg. 72) 
  • Recollections of Unlearning (pg. 75) 
  • Natural Love (pg. 80)
  • Irreplaceable (pg. 88)
  • Abandoned (pg. 99)
  • You’re Not Alone (pg. 102)
  • Write Your Way (pg. 105) 
  • Be Mindful (pg. 110)
  • Her Love (pg. 112)
  • Bouquet (pg. 120)
  • Break Free (pg. 125)
  • A Bright Girl (pg. 156)
  • Nostalgia (pg. 159)
  • A Rare Soul (pg. 166)
  • Peace (pg. 171)
  • Dreamer (pg. 189)
  • Moonflower (pg. 193)
  • Dear Gentle Soul (pg. 202)

Overall, this was a powerful poetry collection! 


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Review: My Fine Fellow

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Rating: ★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (Harper Teen) for promotional purposes.

This was a really cute My Fair Lady retelling! I have seen My Fair Lady, but it was a while ago so I didn’t pick up on any of the references to it. If you’re a fan of the movie I’m sure you would appreciate those references. 

I loved that it was a gender swapped retelling. I also loved that Penelope was half Filipino and Elijah was Jewish and that their backgrounds were a central and integral part of the story. The book explored the prejudices that both of them faced. 

The three main characters were all well developed. I particularly liked seeing Helena’s character arc unfold and how her actions affected her friendships with Penelope and Elijah.  

Food is a big part of the story so do not read this book on an empty stomach. You will get hungry! Luckily there is a recipe at the end for the empanadas mentioned in the book. 

Since this is a retelling, the story is a little predictable and straightforward. There are no big surprises.  

Overall, I enjoyed this historical YA retelling of My Fair Lady. If you like reading about 1830s England or books about food, I recommend checking this book out. 


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Review: Tripping Arcadia

Rating: ★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (Dutton Books) for promotional purposes. 

This book had such a great premise. I love gothic novels, however, the execution could have been better. 

The book started off strong. As soon as the main character, Lena, started working for the mysterious Verdeau family, I was intrigued and was excited to see where the story would go. The book held steady until the last 1/3. The story seemed to be losing its momentum by that point, like it didn’t quite know where it should go. By the end, I felt let down. I was expecting a big reveal or twist but nothing shocked me or made me have an “aha” moment. 

One thing I did like about the book were the supporting characters of the Verdeau siblings, Audrey and Jonathan. They were both fascinating characters with well developed character arcs. Audrey was stuck in the middle trying to balance what she wanted versus what her dad wanted, while Jonathan was such a melancholy and tragic character who was obsessed with death. Their separate relationships with Lena was also interesting to see unfold. They each had such different relationships with Lena. It made for a nice juxtaposition. 

The author’s writing style worked with the overall vibe of the book (gothic with a touch of dark academia), although it could be a little wordy at times. 

As a whole, the plot itself was on the weak side, but the strong supporting characters helped the story. If you’re into gothic novels or stories about poison (this book is all about poison), then I would still say to give the book a shot! It might work for you. 


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Review: From Hollywood with Love

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (William Morrow) for promotional purposes. 

I absolutely love romantic comedy movies. It is one of my favorite movie genres so I was pretty excited to read this. This book was everything I hoped for and more.

This book explores the history of romantic comedies, starting with When Harry Met Sally and ending with To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. Each chapter is dedicated to a different movie, with an essay in between exploring different rom-com actors. 

The selection of movies and actors were a good mix. I liked that it discussed non-white rom-coms (Waiting To Exhale) and rom-coms about older women (Something’s Gotta Give). 

I was also happy that the book dove into how problematic Hollywood can be. In discussing the Oscars So White controversy, the author writes, “this long standing bias reflected the type of loves stories the Academy deemed worthy of serious consideration…It raises a question Hollywood still hasn’t seriously reckoned with: Do critics and voters like the best stories, or the ones that out comfortingly reflects their own lives?” (pgs. 77-78). I found that question deeply intriguing and it brings up a very important point on the biases prevalent in the film industry. It’s a question that spans across all movie genres and not just romantic comedies. 

The author’s writing style was so accessible and easy to read. Sometimes nonfiction can be dry, but this book was like reading a magazine article. 

The book was also incredibly well researched. Every chapter is filled with so much information on the history and background of the movie, as well as fun trivia. The author includes a Notes section at the end with the citations to all his research. 

Lastly, The illustrations at the beginning of each chapter were adorable and a very cute touch. 

Overall, I loved this look into the world of Hollywood romantic comedies. If you are a fan of the movie genre, you have to read this book! 


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Review: The Girl Who Drank the Moon

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Rating: ★★★★

I received copy of this book for free from the publisher (Algonquin Young Readers) for promotional purposes.

This was such a whimsical and enchanting read! The story was full of magic and wonder. It’s not a surprise this book won a Newbery Medal. It reminded me of the fantasy books I read as child. 

The characters were also a standout. I particularly liked the supporting characters of Glerk, the swamp monster, and Fyrian, the tiny dragon. They added a lot of heart to the story. 

The best part of this book was the writing style. It was so beautifully written. The prose flowed so lyrically; it had a poetic quality to it that added to the magic of the story.  

My one critique was that the book moved at a slow pace, especially in the beginning. It took a while for the story to take off. 

My edition was the Gift Edition which included a full color map, chapter opening illustrations, and a bonus prequel story.  As with all fantasy books, the map was very helpful and made the story easy to follow. The illustrations were cute and I enjoyed the prequel story that offered more insight into Xan, the witch. 

Overall, this was a spellbinding middle grade fantasy! I recommend this book to both young readers and adults. 


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Review: Fake

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Rating: ★★★★½

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (Harper Books) for promotional purposes. 

I previously read the author’s debut book, The Boys’ Club, and loved it, so I knew I just had to read this one. Once again, I was not disappointed! 

Like her previous novel, this one is highly engaging. From the very beginning it takes you on a roller coaster of a ride through the glamorous world of high art. 

The storyline unraveled at a steady pace. The use of the interview transcripts at the beginning of each chapter were a great foreshadowing tool. The book was a little predictable towards the end, but it was still an entertaining read. 

The characters are all fascinating and dynamic. I particularly liked the juxtaposition of Emma’s three friends, Sienna, Leah, and Jules. It was interesting to see her friend dynamic with each of them since they all came from different art backgrounds. 

I enjoyed the theme of being a “fake” and how it was explored throughout the book. I liked how the book incorporated being an Instagram influencer. I found its portrayal of what is “real” and what is “fake” to be so relevant and current. 

Overall, I found this book to be an enthralling read. I can’t wait to see what the author comes up with next!


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Review: Kneel

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Rating: ★★★★½

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher (Inkyard Press) for promotional purposes. 

I want to preface this review by stating that I’ve been a huge Colin Kaepernick since the beginning (the 49ers are my team) and I have always supported his peaceful protest of kneeling during the national anthem. I was very excited to read this book inspired by Kaepernick’s protest. I was not disappointed! 

The storyline felt very real. It depicted the racism and injustice black people face every day in a very nuanced way. It did a fantastic job highlighting the internal struggle of deciding whether or not to speak out. Taking a stand, or in this case, kneeling, has both positive and negative consequences, and this book dove right into the complexity of it all. It really made you think. 

The characters were also well done. They felt multi-dimensional and helped move the story along. For example, Russell’s parents showcased the dichotomy between wanting what’s best for your kid and letting your kid choose what they want to do. Russell’s dad in particular, was not happy about Russell’s kneeling because he knew it would mess up Russell’s chances of getting a football scholarship. On the other hand, Russell wanted to follow his heart and stick up for his friend. This felt so realistic because it’s understandable that a parent would want their kid to stay silent in order to have a better future. 

My only critique of the book is that I would have liked the end to have been developed a bit more. A lot happened in the last 50 pages and I wanted to see it debriefed more. 

Overall, this is an important and timely read. It shows exactly why Black Lives Matter and why the movement is calling for change. I highly recommend this book! 


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Review: A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received copy of this book for free from the publisher as part of an Instagram book tour I did to promote the book. 

This was the cutest Christmas story ever! It was an absolute Christmas dream. Everything from the setting to the characters was Christmas perfection. 

The fictional country of Tolvania was essentially a Christmas village come to life. It was Christmas central. The country had tree lightings, caroling, and even a Christmas crown! I wish it was a real place. 

I loved all the characters, especially the queen. She was such a cool queen and I loved her approach to ruling and how much she cared for her family. The Prince’s daughter, Princess Anna, was also a highlight. She was adorable and had a lot of spunk. 

I will admit this book is very light on plot. The majority of the book is the main character experiencing the various Christmas traditions of Tolvania. That being said, it was still fun and entertaining to read. There is some (predictable) drama at the end to keep things interesting. 

Lastly, I loved the bonus content at the end that included recipes and instructions for crafts that were featured in the story. Bonus content like this is always fun. 

Overall, this was a charming and feel good Christmas read. If you ever need to get into the Christmas spirit, read this book! 


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Mao, Vol. 3 (Mao #3)

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Rating: ★★★★½

I received a copy of this book for free for promotional purposes.

This was another solid installment in the series. 

This installment had more backstory than the previous volumes which I felt slowed down the pace of the book a little. A good chunk took place in Mao’s past and we learned more about his early days.  

Like the previous volume, this one unveiled even more about the story and the characters, including details on how Mao and Nanoka are connected. It is shaping up to be a very intriguing read! 

Overall, I really enjoyed this volume and am looking forward to the upcoming volumes. So far, this series has been full of action and mystery, with things coming together at a steady pace. If you’re looking to read a new manga series, consider starting this one (just keep in mind that all the volumes are not yet available in English yet). 


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