Review: Tokyo Dreaming (Tokyo Ever After #2)

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Rating: ★★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free as part of a blog tour.

First off, I loved the first book in the series, Tokyo Ever After. It was one of my favorite books of 2021 which made me very excited to read the sequel. I still think that the first book was a tiny bit better, but for the most part I found the sequel to be a worthy successor. 

This book picks right up where the last book left off and from there continues Izumi’s story. It does not miss a beat and gets right into the drama of royal life. Like the first book, the writing style is easy and a breeze to read. 

I loved the character development, especially the development of Akiko and Noriko (aka the Shining Twins). I enjoyed seeing them get more of a spotlight and how dimensional they became. They could have easily stayed the villains, but instead got more depth. 

I also liked how the book explored growing up and maturing. The story explores Izumi’s post-high school life and contrasts it with her friends. The juxtaposition highlighted Izumi’s coming of age journey well. 

There was a love triangle, which I didn’t think was necessary. The book would have still worked without it. 

Overall, this was a sweet sequel and I hope Izumi’s story continues! 


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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: Super Fake Love Song

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Rating: ★★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Penguin Teen). Since I received an ARC, my quotes from the book are tentative.

I had previously read Yoon’s other novel, Frankly In Love, and loved it, so I knew I had to pick this one up.

It should first be said that this book is different than Frankly in Love. This book is less serious and more light hearted, so don’t go into this book expecting it to be just like Frankly in Love. 

I thought this book was so fun. I found the whole “fake being in a band to impress a girl” premise to be well executed. I loved seeing how it all came together. 

As for the actual romance, it was not the most exciting thing. I didn’t find Sonny and Cirrus’s relationship to be all that interesting or compelling. I just didn’t see the chemistry. In terms of relationships and dynamics, the book really shined in regards to Sonny and his brother. I loved seeing them reconnect. I also liked the friendship dynamic between Sonny and his two best friends, Milo and Jamal. 

I was really glad that Gunner, the school bully, was so much more than that. Oftentimes YA authors just use bullies as an adversarial cliche, but in this book we discovered that there was more lurking under his tough exterior. 

Lastly, I just love Yoon’s writing style. It flows so well and is highly entertaining. He is also so good at making big points in very subtle ways. For example, there is a short mention of the racist background of the national anthem. He writes, “ the crowd groaned along with its hoary antiquated lyrics, as always omitting the third stanza threatening murder for free former slaves” (pg 107). It was a brief nod, but I liked how it brought attention to it. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading what he writes next! 


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Guest Post: Why it’s important to have a diverse bookshelf

Photo from Lei’s Facebook Page

Hi beauties! Today I am so excited so share a guest post from author, Belinda Lei. Lei just published her first book, Not THAT Rich, earlier this month. Described as Gossip Girl meets Crazy Rich Asians, this dramatic debut novel is about a group of private high schoolers in an affluent Southern Californian suburb. This book is at the top of my TBR for the new year. As an Asian American, I love reading books about the Asian American experience because representation matters!

Lei’s guest post highlights the need and importance of reading diverse books. As we enter a new year, I hope this post encourages to take stock of your current bookshelf and evaluate how you can do better!

So without further ado, here is Belinda Lei’s post:

“Do the books on your shelf reflect the world you claim you want?” – Kwame Alexander

In early June 2020, I had the pleasure of hearing Kwame Alexander, a prolific NYT Bestselling writer, speak and deliver a magnificent poem during Act To Change’s first Solidarity Convo. As a Managing Director at Act To Change, a nonprofit focused on ending bullying amongst youth and especially in the AAPI community, the importance of increasing diversity, representation, and solidarity amongst communities is often at the forefront of my mind. After all, it’s something that Act To Change works towards every day – addressing bullying in underserved and diverse communities. 

However, while the activist in me watched the conversation with a smile, my writer and reader’s voice was screaming at me internally, holding me to account with thoughts of “You’re not doing good enough.” Internal Tiger Mom jokes aside, I’ve always prided myself in being an avid reader of anything and everything under the sun, and I’ve always craved to have characters that reflected my 2nd generation immigrant Chinese American background and identity in the books that I read. Needless to say, I never got that when I was growing up. In my head, sure, it wasn’t ideal that the Baudelaire orphans, Hermoine, Bella, or Katniess weren’t Black, Indeginous, or a person of color (also known as BIPOC), but it was fine.

Just fine. 

And that’s where the problem lies.  In 2019, approximately 9% of main characters in U.S. books were of Asian descent, 12% were Black, and only 3% of total books included a LGBTQIAP+ character. Less than half of protagonists were white and about a third were protagonists with animals/other as the main character. When there are more white characters and talking animals as protagonists than BIPOC folks, “just fine” just isn’t good enough. Books allowed me, especially in my teenage years, to dive deep into the glory and struggles of the 1920s, capture the bougie dramatics of New York’s Upper West Side, and immerse myself in the struggles of a magical school for witchcraft and wizardry. It exposed me to a culture that was different than my own – one that was predominantly White. So why can’t I do it the other way around? 

By writing Not THAT Rich, I wanted to present a set of fun (and dramatic!) experiences that also exposed young adult readers to a cast of characters that reflected my world growing up – one that reflected the ethnic suburban enclaves that were part of my world. My hope for the book is that it emphasizes the diversity of Asian American culture, but also offers up the common challenges that teenagers all experience today – educational and familial pressures, identity struggles, and peer pressure. 

I fully acknowledge that as a new author, I still have a lot to learn about the publishing world, and that will take time. However, as a lifelong reader, I can also do better now, today. In my wild pursuit of seeking out books with characters that remind me of me, I’ve neglected to paint the other side of the world that I would like to see more of – books by other BIPOC authors that are not Asian American. I’ve neglected reading more BIPOC voices by so desperately pursuing my own. I’ve made steps towards creating the bookshelf to reflect not just the world that I want, but the world that already exists (highly recommend Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates by the way!) and I hope by reading this post, you’ll consider joining me in looking towards your bookshelf as well. 


Belinda Lei is the author of the #1 New Release in YA Asian American Fiction, Not THAT Rich.  She’s a Southern California native and an avid reader of all genres from thriller to fantasy — but especially young adult novels. She is a Yale MBA candidate, proud Georgetown Hoya, Managing Director of an anti-bullying non-profit, software engineer, and a former strategy consultant. In her spare time, she can be found cooking, spoiling her chubby cat and grumpy dog, and binge watching dramas.

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 Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly

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Rating: ★★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free as part of The Fantastic Flying Book Club’s Instagram tour for this book. Since I received an ARC, my quotes from the book are tentative.

This was such a fun feminist YA debut! 

I liked how inclusive and diverse this book was. Kit’s best friend Layla is bisexual. One of the characters, Penny, is a transgender Serving Wench at the restaurant. There is also Alex who also works at the restaurant and goes by the pronoun, “they.” Kit’s love interest, Jett, is half Indian. I also liked that Kit checks her own privilege. At one point she states:

“[W]e need this to be bigger than me. I’m just a white girl from the suburbs. Maybe my privilege makes it easier for me to say this isn’t fair, but we need to show people that this is more than just me doing a man’s job. It’s about getting rid of gender restrictions altogether.” 

pg 114

I liked that Kit wasn’t a traditional “good girl”. She is a smart girl who gets into college, but she also smokes cigarettes and drinks alcohol. 

I loved how medieval history was incorporated into the story. You actually learn some cool facts. 

This book was also incredibly fast paced. I flew right through it. 

One thing I didn’t like was that the romance aspect didn’t thrill me. It didn’t add much to the plot and the book would have been just fine without it.

Overall, this is an entertaining YA novel with lots of female empowerment and some medieval merrymaking! 


Synopsis:

Kit Sweetly slays sexism, bad bosses, and bad luck to become a knight at a medieval-themed restaurant.

Working as a wench―i.e. waitress―at a cheesy medieval-themed restaurant in the Chicago suburbs, Kit Sweetly dreams of being a knight like her brother. She has the moves, is capable on a horse, and desperately needs the raise that comes with knighthood, so she can help her mom pay the mortgage and hold a spot at her dream college.

Company policy allows only guys to be knights. So when Kit takes her brother’s place and reveals her identity at the end of the show, she rockets into internet fame and a whole lot of trouble with the management. But the Girl Knight won’t go down without a fight. As other wenches join her quest, a protest forms. In a joust before Castle executives, they’ll prove that gender restrictions should stay medieval―if they don’t get fired first.


Giveaway

Prize: Win a copy of THE LIFE AND (MEDIEVAL) TIMES OF KIT SWEETLY by Jamie Pacton (US/CAN Only)

Starts: May 5th 2020

Ends: May 19th 2020

To enter click here


About the Author

Jamie Pacton writes all sorts of books: dark, feminist YA fantasy; contemporary YA stories with a funny + geeky bent; funny MG adventure-fantasy; and, even the occasional adult rom-com. She was a Pitch Wars mentee in 2015 and she mentored YA in 2016, 2017, and 2018. She grew up minutes away from the National Storytelling Center in the mountains of East Tennessee; she’s the oldest of ten kids; and, she currently lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband, their two kids, and a dog named Lego. The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly (forthcoming May 5, 2020) is her Young Adult debut.

Author Links

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19025294.Jamie_Pacton

Website: https://www.jamiepacton.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamiepacton

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamiepacton/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.es/jamie_pacton/

Review: 10 Blind Dates

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received this book for free as part of a blog tour

This was such a cute YA Christmas romance! I honestly wasn’t expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised. 

First off, I loved the premise. 10 blind dates picked by family members is a hilarious idea. The execution was great as well. There were some cute dates and some OMG dates (like the one that her twin cousins set up). 

I also loved the emphasis on family, both with her immediate and extended family. I loved the bond Sophie had with her pregnant older sister, Margot. It was so heartwarming to see how much they supported one another. Additionally, Sophie’s extended family was insane, but so lovable. You couldn’t help but laugh at their craziness (like them placing bets on what time she came home from her dates). Despite that, they all cared for Sophie and wanted to help her get over her heartbreak. 

The pacing of the book was amazing. It was faced paced but at the same time everything was well developed and there was no insta-love. This book could have very easily dragged on in some parts, but didn’t. 

Overall, this was the perfect YA holiday read. It’s light, fluffy, and full of Christmas cheer! 

Review: Let It Snow

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Rating: ★★★

I received this book for free from Penguin Teen for promotional purposes.

I was really excited to read this because I wanted to watch the movie on Netflix. For once, I was good and actually read the book first. I haven’t watched the movie yet but I will at some point in the next few days so my review is solely based on the book.

As a whole, I found this to be underwhelming. I had such high hopes but it didn’t quite reach them. This book was originally published in 2008 and I felt like this was a very typical YA book from that time. There was nothing that really drew me in and made me fall in love with it. I also didn’t feel any sort of attachment to the characters. I felt sort of meh about all of them. 

As for the three stories, the best one was The Jubilee Express, followed by The Patron Saint of Pigs and A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle. 

I did like that even though they were three separate stories, they still felt cohesive, as if they were all a part of the same novel. I liked that some of the characters crossed over into the other stories. That helped tie everything together nicely. 

Overall, this book wasn’t what I was expecting, but if want a cheesy YA romance to read for Christmas, give it a shot! 


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Review: When the Stars Lead to You

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from The NOVL in exchange for an honest review. 

First and foremost, I want to start off with a massive trigger warning for depression and suicide. These topics are heavily discussed in this book.

This was a very heartfelt and touching book.

The depression representation was really well done. It showed what depression looked like and how it affects not only the person with it, but also their loved ones. After reading the author’s note at the end, you can tell just how personal this story was for the author. 

A lot of reviewers have mentioned that the romance in this book is very insta-lovey and obsessive. There is merit to that, however, that was kind of the point of the book. Towards the end, the nature of their relationship gets discussed. This book isn’t necessarily supposed to be one of those cutesy YA romances. 

I loved the biracial (main character is half white and half black) representation. I liked that it didn’t shy away from showing the racism that is still prevalent today. I also liked that classism and elitism was also explored in conjunction with her race. It’s interesting to see how race, class, and gender all intersect. This book is so sex-positive which is so refreshing to see in YA.

Lastly, I thought the ending was perfect for the story. It seemed realistic and I liked that it was more ope-ended. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this #OwnVoices debut. 

Blog tour: 10 Blind Dates

Hi beauties! Today I am a stop on the 10 Blind Dates blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. There is giveaway for this book so be sure to keep reading!

About the Book

Title: 10 BLIND DATES

Author: Ashley Elston

Pub. Date: October 1, 2019

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook

Pages: 336

Find it: GoodreadsAmazonKindle, AudibleB&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD

Sophie wants one thing for Christmas-a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship.

Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents’ house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That’s when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby.

When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she’s started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available.

This is going to be the worst Christmas break ever . . . or is it?

“This piece-by-piece romance doesn’t need its Christmas theme to sell, but it makes it glitter all the more.”—Booklist

“In a funny holiday romance that has Sophie dog-sitting in a hockey rink, watching porn at a drive-in theater, and playing the Virgin Mary in a middle school Nativity, Elston cleverly reflects the family members’ personalities through their choices of dates for Sophie.”—Publishers Weekly

About Ashley: 

Ashley Elston is the author of several novels, including THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING (a finalist in the Best Young Adult Novel category of the International Thriller Awards) and THIS IS OUR STORY. She graduated with a Liberal Arts degree from Louisiana State University in Shreveport. Ashley worked for many years as a wedding photographer before turning her hand to writing. Ashley lives in Louisiana with her husband and three sons. 

Ashley is represented by Sarah Davies at The Greenhouse Literary Agency.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of 10 BLIND DATES, US Only.

To enter click here!

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

10/1/2019- BookHounds YAExcerpt

10/2/2019- Odd and BookishReview

10/3/2019- FictitiouswonderlandReview

10/4/2019- Here’s to Happy EndingsReview

Week Two:

10/7/2019- PopTheButterfly ReadsExcerpt

10/8/2019- Read. Eat. Love.Review

10/9/2019- Paper ReaderReview

10/10/2019- A Bookish DreamReview

10/11/2019- Savings in SecondsReview

Week Three:

10/14/2019- book briefsReview

10/15/2019- Shelf-RatedReview

10/16/2019- Smada’s Book SmackReview

10/17/2019- Do You Dog-ear?Review

10/18/2019- Wishful EndingsReview

Week Four:

10/21/2019- Southern Girl BookaholicReview

10/22/2019- Eli to the nthReview

10/23/2019- fictitious.fox– Review

10/24/2019-  Fire and IceReview

10/25/2019- Two points of interestReview

Week Five:

10/28/2019- Riddle’s ReviewsReview

10/29/2019- Jena Brown WritesReview

10/30/2019- Moonlight RendezvousReview

10/31/2019- Novel NoviceReview