Review: Snapdragon

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Rating: ★★★★

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

This was such a cute graphic novel!

The story was so heartwarming. I loved how Jacks and Snapdragon’s backgrounds and pasts were connected. There were some parts where I was wondering on the relevance of some things (like the story of One-Eyed Tom), but it all came together at the end. 

However, in regards to the plot, I wanted more about the magic. Since this is a book about a witch, naturally there is magic, but it was a little vague on how it all worked. I would have loved to seen it explored in more detail. 

The diversity and representation in this book is amazing! There was so much black and LGBTQ representation. For example, Snapdragon’s friend, Lulu is transgender. I loved seeing how Lulu slowly came out to be the person she was meant to be! 

The art style worked well with the story. The color use in particular was incredibly well done. I liked how vibrant the art was. 

Lastly, I thought they should have stuck with the original name of the novel, Roadkill Witch. Snapdragon is too basic of a name for this slightly odd (in a good way) graphic novel.

Overall, this was a charming graphic novel with a dash of magic. If you’re looking for a quick read this spooky season, give this one a try! 


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Review: It Takes Heart (Heart Resort #1)

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Rating: ★★★

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

I thought this was a solid second chance romance and start to a new series.

First off, I really enjoyed seeing all the Filipino culture. I am half Filipino myself so it was so amazing seeing the representation. From the Filipino names of the tiny homes to a discussion on “Filipino time,” there was so much culture woven throughout the book. Additionally, the family dynamic of the Puso family was very typical of a Filipino family. Side note, I loved that the resort was named Heart Resort because their last name, Puso, is Tagalog for heart. That was very clever.

I also liked “cozy” feeling of the storyline. The plot was so family oriented and you could tell there was a lot of love between the family members themselves and their friends. 

My biggest issue with this book is the pacing. The book dragged in parts, mainly in the beginning and middle. There wasn’t a whole lot happening besides set up for future books in the series (i.e. relationship issues for Brandon’s other siblings). At times there was little focus on Brandon and Geneva’s romance. Towards the end the book finally picked up speed and became more exciting. 

Overall, I can tell this will be an amazing series. This book just fell a little short on Brandon and Geneva’s story. 


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Review: So We Meet Again

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Rating: ★★★★

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

I had previously read the author’s other book, Loathe at First Sight, and liked but didn’t love it. I knew I wanted to give her books another shot, so I jumped at the chance to read this one. This book was so much better! 

First off, I liked the romance in this one. This book had more of a romantic story than Loathe At First Sight. Daniel was a swoon-worthy love interest for sure! I loved his interactions with Jess. They had the most adorable meet-cute. As soon as I read their meet-cute, I knew I was going to like them as a couple. 

I also loved that the book was more than a romance and focused a great deal on Jess’s career change. It explored all the ups and downs of starting over. It was wonderful seeing Jess grow from an unsure former investment banker into a full fledged businesswoman. 

As for the supporting characters, Jess’s parents were so precious! You could tell that they really loved Jess, even if they didn’t always show it in the best way. I could relate to Jess’s experiences with her critical mom. 

I did find the book to be a little unrealistic at times. The book wasn’t super clear on the passage of time, but it felt like Jess’s business took off too quickly. But I will admit I don’t know that much about business so maybe it was realistic. Also, Daniel did something at the very end that could have got him in trouble as a lawyer. It wasn’t anything egregious (just a conflict of interest issue). It was only something I noticed since I am a recent law graduate. Most lawyers would have foresaw that conflict of interest and handled the situation differently. 

Overall, I enjoyed this read! If you want a light and fun romance and/or women’s fiction novel to read, pick this one up! 


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Review: More Bad Days in History

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Rating: ★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free as part of a review tour hosted by TLC Book Tours. 

What an outrageously fun book! 

I haven’t read the first volume (Bad Days in History) so I cannot say how it compares. 

I’ve always loved learning about history, so naturally I found this book to be fascinating. I loved learning about all the weird, strange, and terrible things that have happened throughout the course of history. Some events were hilarious, others were more tragic, and a few were a little disturbing. 

I appreciated the use of footnotes and the extra information they provided. They were utilized well and not overdone (some authors go a little overboard with footnotes). 

There are also a few illustrations scattered throughout that added to the comedic appeal. 

My one critique is that I wished it was more global. The majority of the events were US or Europe based. For example, there were numerous events about various US presidents. I would have loved to seen more diversity in the events and people showcased. Bad days are a universal experience after all. 

Overall, this was an intriguing read. I recommend it to anyone who loves weird history or is having a bad day and needs a pick-me-up. It’s a book you can read all at once, or read daily. It would also make a great gift to the cynics and pessimists in your life.


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Review: Conquer the Day

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Rating: ★★★★

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

This was a strange yet inspiring book!

Essentially, this is an illustrated cartoon style book of affirmations. It features classic affirmations such as “I attack the day with energy and conviction” alongside tongue-in-cheek pictures. That particular affirmation was paired with the cover photo, showing an unamused, not ready to get out of bed person. This contrast and duality made the book very fun and relatable. I find typical affirmation materials to be a little too upbeat and saccharine, so I appreciated this take on affirmations. My favorite one was a doodle of a man wearing headphones and listening to the affirmation, “I am sexy and people want to be around me.” That one was hilarious and also resonated with me. 

I am not familiar with the author’s work (@PantsPants on Instagram and @Pants on Twitter if you want to check out his stuff), so this was my first exposure to it. I found the illustrations to be cute but also weird and sometimes disturbing (but not in a bad way). It’s unique to say the least, but it worked so well for this book. 

Overall, this was an amusing little book and would make a great gift! 


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Review: Beyond the Point

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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. 

Omg what a beautiful book! It definitely lives up to all the hype. 

The story was mesmerizing. I became so invested in the lives of the three women. I felt like I personally knew them and that I was right there with them through their ups and downs. All three of them felt so realistic.

The author’s writing style is phenomenal. There’s something utterly captivating about it. 

Some people mention that this book should be classified as Christian fiction because of the talk of God and religion. I have read my fair share of Christian fiction and I don’t think this book quite fits that. There are mentions of God, but that’s mainly due to one character being religious. Just because the Christian religion is discussed in a book does not mean it is Christian fiction. There is so much more to this book than that (friendship, love, grief, etc.). 

My edition had a little bonus section at the end with filled background behind the novel, including interviews with real life West Point women. I enjoyed hearing their experiences. 

Lastly, I wanted to share a quote from the book about love that really struck me. The author writes,

“Love starts in the body. It starts with the tingling of toes and the rushing of blood and the lightness in the head. It feels a lot like pain…There are convulsions, nausea, heartburn, and breathlessness. There is a physical ache you feel when falling in love. It’s your heart making room for someone else, like a gardener is there, digging out a hole for a new plant. There is pain, and there is fear. The fear that the hole might stay forever”

pg. 151-152

Overall, I LOVED this book and consider it a new favorite of mine. If you’ve been putting off reading this book like I did (it had been sitting on my shelf since 2019), just pick it up already and read it! 


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Review: Bad Lawyer

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Rating: ★★★★

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

What a wild ride!

I’m just about to graduate law school so I thought it was the perfect time to read this book. 

Even though the author is a white woman from a privileged background and I am an Asian American woman, I still related to her and her experiences becoming disenchanted by the law. I agree with a lot of her issues with the legal profession and system. She went into criminal law, a field I have no interest in, but I am not surprised by her experiences or her realizations. The legal system is incredibly archaic and it can be frustrating because of that. 

Even law school itself makes no sense sometimes. She writes in relation to summer jobs,

“representatives from all the top law firms in the country came…and interviewed students for their 2Ls summer jobs, which are said to determine the rest of our legal careers. Why? I have no idea. It was just something we all knew and all accepted.”

pg. 83

That is a true statement and just highlights how cookie cutter becoming a lawyer can be.

I loved how the author explained everything so simply. For example, she explains all the basics of law school in such uncomplicated language. She really provided an in-depth overview of all things law school. She even mentions bar review which was something I was super confused about when I first started law school (I naively thought it was when 3Ls studied for the bar exam, but it’s actually when law students go out to a bar for drinks). 

If the author needs an idea for another book, she should totally do a “Law School For Dummies” type of book. Her writing style is so accessible (unlike most law books) so even the lay person can understand what she’s saying. This probably stems from her inability to master the Bluebook (another archaic legal gatekeeping tool or as she puts it, “The cursed Bluebook is filled with ways to make the law inaccessible to non lawyers. That’s what the law is all about— making what should be accessible esoteric to keep lawyer salaries high” (pg. 66)). 

I did feel that the book lost a bit of its steam towards the end. It felt a little lost, like the author didn’t quite know how to end the book. Because of that, the last few chapters were disjointed from the first half of the book. The last chapters dealt with how messed up the criminal justice system is and I felt that those chapters could have been a jumping off point for a whole other book. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this memoir on the realities of being lawyer. I really recommend this if you are interested in becoming a lawyer. Not everything she says may apply to you, but it does give honest insight into the profession. 


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Review: Loveboat, Taipei (Loveboat, Taipei #1)

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Rating: ★★★

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

I was really looking forward to reading this one since it is an Asian American Own Voices novel, but unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations. 

The whole beginning and middle section felt like an early 2000’s teen book. There was a lot of unnecessary drama and it felt so unrealistic. The main character, Ever, went from total good girl to rebellious teenager so quickly. Also, the students in the program would often get in trouble for some things, but for other things, the faculty had no clue what was going on. (Sorry if that sounds super vague, I’m trying to remain spoiler free). 

Additionally, I didn’t love either of the two potential love interests for Ever. I just didn’t see any chemistry between Ever and either one of them. 

The book did get better towards the end (around the last quarter). Once a lot of the initial drama was resolved, the book became more enjoyable. There was actually time spent on character development, which was sorely missing for a large part of the book. Also at the end, the message and lessons really shined through. 

Overall, parts of this book were lacking, while other parts were satisfying. 


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Review: All Our Hidden Gifts (All Our Hidden Gifts #1)

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from the publisher (Walker Books US) in exchange for an honest review. 

I was very excited to read this book because it focuses on tarot and I recently just learned how to read tarot. 

Speaking of tarot, I liked how there were pictures of the tarot cards scattered throughout the book. I think that is so helpful for readers who may not be familiar with tarot cards and what each card looks like. 

When it comes to the characters, there is so much representation. Roe is non-binary. Maeve has a lesbian sister. But my favorite character was Fiona, Maeve’s Filipino friend. As a Filipino myself, I love seeing Filipino representation so when Fiona was first introduced, I was ecstatic. I loved that Fiona’s family was a little witchy. Her tita (aunt) is a fortune teller who helps them and tells them about the White Lady (Kaperosa in the Philippines). I found it so refreshing to see a nonwhite representation of witchcraft. So often witchcraft in books is so centered on a white perspective, but witchcraft is in every culture, as Fiona’s tita illustrates. She mentions that versions of the White Lady exist everywhere, in different cultures and places. 

As for the plot, it started off really strong with the mystery of Lily’s disappearance. But about halfway through, it stalled and lost some of its momentum. I felt like it dragged on a bit in the middle. I believe there will be a sequel to this book, and I think the book did set up a sequel very nicely. 

Overall, I recommend this book for anyone looking for a witchy YA read! 


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Blog tour: Yolk (Excerpt + Giveaway!)

Hi beauties! Today I am a stop on the YOLK by Mary H.K. Choi Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. I am so excited to read this one! I’ve heard her books are amazing! Check out the excerpt and make sure to enter the giveaway! 

About The Book:

Title: YOLK

Author: Mary H.K. Choi

Pub. Date: March 2, 2021

Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 400

Find it:  GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, AudibleB&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBDBookshop.org

From New York Times bestselling author Mary H.K. Choi comes a funny and emotional story about two estranged sisters switching places and committing insurance fraud to save one of their lives.

Jayne Baek is barely getting by. She shuffles through fashion school, saddled with a deadbeat boyfriend, clout-chasing friends, and a wretched eating disorder that she’s not fully ready to confront. But that’s New York City, right? At least she isn’t in Texas anymore, and is finally living in a city that feels right for her.

On the other hand, her sister June is dazzlingly rich with a high-flying finance job and a massive apartment. Unlike Jayne, June has never struggled a day in her life. Until she’s diagnosed with uterine cancer.

Suddenly, these estranged sisters who have nothing in common are living together. Because sisterly obligations are kind of important when one of you is dying.


EXCERPT

From Chapter 1 of YOLK

By Mary H.K. Choi

Depending on where I focus and how much pressure I apply to the back of my throat, I can just about blot him out. Him being Jeremy. Him who never shuts up. Him being my ex. He whose arm is clamped

around the back of the café chair that belongs to another girl. She’s startlingly pretty, this one. Translucent and thin. Achingly so. She has shimmering lavender hair and wide-set, vacant eyes. Her name is Rae and when she offers her cold, large hand, I instinctively search her face for any hint of cosmetic surgery. Her lids, her lips, the tip of her nose. Her boots are Ann Demeulemeester, the ones with hundreds of yards of lace, and her ragged men’s jacket, Comme. 

“I like your boots,” I tell her, needing her to know that I know, and immediately hating myself for it. I’m so intimidated I could choke. She smiles with such indulgent kindness I feel worse. She’s not at all threatened by me. 

“I got them here,” she tells me in faultless English. I don’t ask her where there might be.

Jeremy says I’m obsessed with other women. He might be right. Then again, someone once described Jeremy’s energy to me as human cocaine, and they were definitely right. 

“Mortifying.” He shudders, blotting his slick mouth with a black cloth napkin. Jeremy’s the only one eating a full-on meal here at Léon. A lunch of coq au vin. I draw in a deep breath of caramelized onion. All earthy, singed sugar. 

“Can you imagine failing at New York so publicly that you have to ‘move home’?” He does twitchy little scare quotes around the last bit. He does this without acknowledging that for him, moving home

would be a few stops upstate on Metro-North, to a town called Tuxedo. A fact he glosses over when he calls himself a native New Yorker.

I watch Rae, with a small scowl nestled above her nose, purposely apply a filter on her Instagram Story. It’s her empty espresso cup at an angle. I lean back in my wicker café chair and resume lurking her

profile, which I can do in plain sight because I have a privacy shield. 

It’s the typical, enigmatic hot-girl dross on her main feed, scones cut out onto a marble surface dusted with flour, her in a party dress in a field. A photo of her taking a photo in a mirror with a film camera.

In an image farther down, Rae is wearing a white blouse and a black cap and gown. Grinning. It’s a whole different energy. When I arrive at the caption, I close my eyes. I need a moment. I somehow

sense the words before they fully register. She graduated from Oxford. It’s crushing that most of the caption is in Korean. She’s like me but so much better.

My will to live leeches out of my skin and disappears into the atmosphere. I should be in class. I once calculated it, and a Monday, Wednesday, Friday course costs forty-seven dollars, not counting rent.

Counting rent in this city, it’s exactly one zillion.

“Yeah, hi.” Jeremy flags down a passing server. A curvy woman with a tight Afro turns to us, arms laden with a full tray of food. “Yeah, can you get me a clean glass of water?” He holds his smeared glass to the light.

“I can,” she says through her teeth, crinkling her eyes and nodding in a way that suggests she’s garroting him in her mind.

“That’s not our server,” I whisper when she leaves. As a restaurant kid, albeit a pan-Asian strip-mall operation that charges a quarter for to-go boxes, I cringe with my whole body. Jeremy shrugs.

I check myself out in the strip of antique mirror behind Rae’s and Jeremy’s heads. I swear my face is wider now than it was this morning. And the waistband of my mom jeans digs into my gut flesh, stanching

circulation in my lower belly and thighs. I can feel my heartbeat in my camel-toe. It’s a dull pain. A solid distraction from this experience. I wonder if they were talking about me before I arrived.

I eye the communal french fries. Saliva pools in the back of my gums. Ketchup is my kryptonite. Especially swirled with ranch dressing, which I’ve trained myself to give up. The Raes of the world would

never. Or they would and it would be quirky and wholesome.

Her leg is the circumference of my arm.

I smile at the room in a way I imagine would appear breezy yet bored in a film about heartbreak. I love this place. You’d never guess that a dumpy French restaurant from the seventies would be the new hotspot, but that’s the other thing Jeremy’s good for: knowing the migratory practices of various clout monsters. That and ignoring the tourists as he sweet-talks Oni the hostess into ushering us past the busy

bar and into the seats in the way, way back.

Someday I’m going to eat a meal in a New York restaurant by myself without burning with shame.


About Mary H.K. Choi: 

Mary H.K. Choi is a Korean-American author, editor, television and print journalist. She is the author of young adult novel Emergency Contact (2018). She is the culture correspondent on Vice News Tonight on HBO and was previously a columnist at Wired and Allure magazines as well as a freelance writer. She attended a large public high school in a suburb of San Antonio, then college at the University of Texas at Austin, where she majored in Textile and Apparel.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon 


GIVEAWAY

Giveaway Details: 

2 winners will win a finished copy of YOLK, US Only.

To enter click on the following link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e2389ba21245/


Tour Schedule:

Week One:

3/1/2021Westveil Publishing Excerpt
3/1/2021A Dream Within A DreamExcerpt
3/2/2021BookHounds YA Spotlight 
3/2/2021Book-KeepingReview
3/3/2021Lifestyle of MeReview
3/3/2021What A Nerd Girl SaysReview
3/4/2021Momfluenster Spotlight 
3/4/2021Not In Jersey Review
3/5/2021Kait Plus BooksSpotlight 
3/5/2021Trapped Inside StoriesSpotlight 

Week Two:

3/8/2021My Fictional OasisReview
3/8/2021Eli to the nthReview
3/9/2021The Scribe OwlReview
3/9/2021Nay’s Pink BookshelfReview
3/10/2021Lala’s Book Reviews Review
3/10/2021The Mind of a Book DragonReview
3/11/2021Odd and BookishReview
3/11/2021Little Red ReadsReview
3/12/2021Amani’s ReviewsReview
3/12/2021michellemengsbookblogReview