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!
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.
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!
I received a copy of this book for free as part of an Instagram book tour (Storygram Tours) I did to promote the book.
I was really excited to read this book since it takes place in the Silicon Valley and that is where I was born and raised.
The book started off on the slow side and it felt a little superficial. It read like a typical YA novel with high school drama and it dragged in parts because of that. However, once the main conflict happened, the book matured and picked up the pace. The empowering message finally managed to shine through.
The book’s greatest strength is its messages about female empowerment, female friendship, women in STEM, sexism, and sexual harassment. The book touched upon and explored all of these topics in a meaningful way. I was happy to see that the book did not shy away from the realities of the (predominantly male) tech world.
On the other hand, the book’s greatest weakness were the characters. I didn’t particularly love any of them because I didn’t feel an emotional attachment towards them.
I typically don’t talk about book covers in reviews, but I have to mention this book’s because the girls on the cover actually depict the girls in the story. They are an exact match, right down to their necklaces. I love that attention to detail!
Overall, if you’re looking for an empowering YA read or are interested in the tech world, consider picking this one up!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Penguin Teen) for promotional purposes.
Wow. This was such an interesting book (in a good way)!
When I first started reading it, I was a little confused about what was going on. You get thrown into the world without much explanation. But as the book went on, it was all slowly revealed.
I don’t want to give away too much about the plot, but I will say it is sort of circular and kind of trippy (if that makes any sense). It’s a book that you have to read for yourself. By the time I got to the end, my mind was blown.
The writing style is so beautiful. It’s very lyrical and poetic at times, but also had a slightly haunting quality to it.
This is also a book that would be great to reread. Since you don’t discover everything until the end, it would be fun to reread it and pick up on all the little clues woven throughout the story.
Lastly, it felt eerie reading this book during a pandemic. This book is about deadly flies and the flu they carry and it made me think about the situation we are in.
Overall, this was a deep and thought provoking story. I really recommend it!
I received a copy of this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.
This book is described as being Crazy Rich Asians meets Gossip Girl and that comparison has a lot of merit. It has the rich ridiculousness of Crazy Rich Asians and all the teen drama of Gossip Girl.
I really liked how this book was both entertaining and insightful. The story was addicting to read but it also managed to say a lot about the Asian American experience and the college admission process. The book heavily explores the familial pressures to succeed that many students face. It masterfully showcases the effects it can have on them.
As for the Asian American representation, this book did an amazing job showing how being Asian adds to the pressure. As an Asian American myself (I am Filipino American), I could relate a lot to their experiences.
There is quite the cast of characters in this book (there’s a character list at the end that I found so helpful) and each one was so compelling in their own way. My favorites were Trisha and Pamela. I liked how they were so different from each other but yet such great friends.
Also, this is kind of random to note but I loved that this book showed a school with a block schedule (3 classes a day as opposed to 6). I had a block schedule in middle and high school (and loved it) but never seen one in a fictional context before.
Lastly, the ending of the book felt realistic in the sense that not everything was wrapped up nicely (teasing the possibility of a sequel maybe?).
From Jennifer Donnelly, author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller Stepsister, comes a fairytale retelling that’ll forever change the way you think about strength, power, and the real meaning of “happily ever after.”
Once upon a time, a girl named Sophie rode into the forest with the queen’s huntsman. Her lips were the color of ripe cherries, her skin as soft as new-fallen snow, her hair as dark as midnight. When they stopped to rest, the huntsman took out his knife . . . and took Sophie’s heart.
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Sophie had heard the rumors, the whispers. They said she was too kind and foolish to rule — a waste of a princess. A disaster of a future queen. And Sophie believed them. She believed everything she’d heard about herself, the poisonous words people use to keep girls like Sophie from becoming too powerful, too strong . . .
With the help of seven mysterious strangers, Sophie manages to survive. But when she realizes that the jealous queen might not be to blame, Sophie must find the courage to face an even more terrifying enemy, proving that even the darkest magic can’t extinguish the fire burning inside every girl, and that kindness is the ultimate form of strength.
Once upon long ago, always and evermore, a girl rode into the Darkwood.
Her lips were the color of ripe cherries, her skin as soft as new-fallen snow, her hair as dark as midnight.
The tall pines whispered and sighed as she passed under them, the queen’s huntsman at her side.
Crows, perched high in the branches, blinked their bright black eyes.
As the sky lightened, the huntsman pointed to a pond ahead and told the girl that they must dismount to let the horses drink. She did so, walking side by side with him. Lost in her thoughts, she did not hear the soft hiss of a dagger leaving its sheath. She did not see the huntsman lift his face to the dawn, or glimpse the anguish in his eyes.
A gasp of shock escaped the girl as the huntsman pulled her close, his broad hand spanning her narrow back. Her eyes, wide and questioning, sought his. She was not afraid—not yet. She felt almost nothing as he slid the blade between her ribs, just a slight, soft push and then a bloom of warmth, as if she’d spilled tea down her dress.
But then the pain came, red clawed and snarling.
The girl threw her head back and screamed. A stag bolted from the brush at the sound. The crows burst from their roosts, their wings beating madly.
The huntsman was skilled. He was quick. He had gutted a thousand deer. A few expert cuts with a knife so sharp it could slice blue from the sky and the delicate ribs were cleaved, the flesh and veins severed.
The girl’s head lolled back. Her legs gave out. Gently, the huntsman lowered her to the ground, then knelt beside her.
“Forgive me, dear princess. Forgive me,” he begged. “This foul deed was not my wish, but the queen’s command.” “Why?” the girl cried, with her dying breath. But the huntsman, tears in his eyes, could not speak. He finished his grim task and got to his feet. As he did, the girl got her answer. For the last thing she saw before her eyes closed was her heart, small and perfect, in the huntsman’s trembling hands.
• • •
In the forest, the birds have gone silent. The creatures are still. Gloom lingers under the trees. And on the cold ground, a girl lies dying, a ragged red hole where her heart used to be.
“Hang the huntsman!” you shout. “Burn the evil queen!” And who would fault you?
But you’ve missed the real villain.
It’s easily done. He’s stealthy and sly and comes when you’re alone. He stands in the shadows and whispers his poison. His words drip, drip, drip into the small, secret chambers of your heart.
You think you know this tale, but you only know what you’ve been told.
“Who are you? How do you know these things?” you ask.
Fair questions, both.
I am the huntsman. Dead now, but that’s no matter. The dead speak. With tongues blackened by time and regret. You can hear us if you listen.
You will say that I’m telling you tales. Fairy stories. That it’s all make-believe. But there are more things afoot in the Darkwood than you can imagine, and only a fool would call them make-believe.
Keep to the path, the old wives say. Stay out of the forest.
But one day, you will have to walk deep into those dark woods and find what’s waiting there.
For if you do not, it will surely find you.
Jennifer Donnelly is the author of A Northern Light, which was awarded a Printz Honor and a Carnegie Medal; Revolution (named a Best Book by Amazon, Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, and the Chicago Public Library, and nominated for a Carnegie Medal); the Deep Blue series; and many other books for young readers, including Lost in a Book, which spent more than 20 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.