Review: Alliana, Girl of Dragons

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Rating: ★★★

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

I previously read one of the author’s other books, Eva Evergreen, Semi Magical Witch, and absolutely loved it. I was very excited to read this one since it acts as a prequel to the Eva Evergreen books. Unfortunately, I didn’t like this book as much as Eva Evergreen. 

This is a Cinderella retelling and because of that, the book felt constrained plot wise. I didn’t feel as though the story benefitted from being a Cinderella retelling. If the book was just a regular middle grade fantasy without the Cinderella aspects, it still would have worked. I also felt that the book wasn’t as magical as Eva Evergreen. Eva Evergreen had a certain charm about it and I was hoping this book would too since it is set in the same universe. 

Additionally, for a book with the word “dragons” in the title, it was light on the dragons. The book never seemed to fully explore the dragons and Alliana’s relationship with them. (Maybe this will come in a later book?)

Don’t get me wrong, I did like some things about the book. I enjoyed the supporting characters, especially Grandmother Mari and Nela. Each of them had such a special relationship and bond with Alliana that was heartwarming to see. I also liked the parts that did feature the dragons. 

Overall, there were some things I liked about this and some things I had issues with. I hope there is a sequel to this book since there’s still more to explore with Alliana. If you are looking for a middle grade fantasy, I would say to give it a shot! 

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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: Tidesong

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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! 

I’ve read Mooncakes, which is another graphic novel the author co-wrote, and loved it so I knew I needed to read this one. 

The artwork was of course amazing. The art was very adorable and was appropriate for the middle grade audience of this book. Additionally, the font was super readable. It was one of the clearest and most legible fonts I’ve come across in a comic book or graphic novel. Fun fact: the font is actually the author’s handwriting that was turned into a font. 

Sophie was a relatable character. I can see many kids relating to her struggles to learn magic and her feelings of failure.

I found the storyline to be very basic. I know this is middle grade, but the plot could have been more fleshed out. For example, the magic system between the witches and dragons could have been explored more. Also, the beginning of the book happened so fast. Sophie was on the train to her relatives super quickly with very little background information. 

Overall, I recommend this book to readers of all ages who love magic, witches, or dragons. This book also makes a great gift because it is a gorgeous hardcover! 

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Review: Undead Girl Gang

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Rating: ★★★★

I’ve been wanting to read this book for the longest time. I finally got around to reading it as part of my Spooky TBR. 

I thought this was a fun book! 

The premise is awesome. A teen witch bringing three dead girls back to life to uncover the truth about their deaths is perfect for Halloween. 

I liked the interactions between the three dead girls and Mila. It was especially interesting to see Mila, the school outsider, interact with June and Dayton, the two popular girls. I liked seeing the relationship between the four girls grow and develop into a friendship. 

I also loved that Mila was a plus sized Latina because yay for diversity! 

The reveal of what actually happened to the girls was a little underwhelming for me. I wasn’t shocked or anything. I thought it was going to be more dramatic and have more twists and turns. 

Lastly, I loved that Riley was wearing a SF Giants hat throughout the book as part of her disguise. The Giants are my favorite baseball team and also their colors are orange and black, making it even more perfect for the Halloween season. 

Overall, if you’re looking for a YA read for spooky season, then check out this book. There’s witchcraft, zombie girls, and a creepy old abandoned house. What more could you want?

Review: The Lost Coast

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Rating: ★★★½

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

I had such high hopes for this book, but it ultimately did not live up to my expectations. 

Let’s start with what I did like. 

I liked the diversity. There was a lot of sexual (lesbian, ace, etc.) and racial diversity. One of the girls was Filipino which I was super happy about since I’m Filipino. I love seeing Filipino representation.  

I also liked the aesthetic of the book. The descriptions perfectly captured that foggy, mystical, Northern California vibe. 

Now on to what I didn’t love. 

There were a lot of point of view changes throughout the book which really made it difficult to understand especially in the beginning. Each POV would last for only a few pages so it ended up being a bit jarring and all over the place. 

As for the storyline, it wasn’t exciting. It felt kind of blah to me until the end which is when things finally got interesting. 

I also wished the book focused more on June and Hawthorn. They were my two favorite characters and I wanted to explore more of their backstory. 

Overall, this book had some good moments (Queer POC witches for the win!), but didn’t reach its full potential.