Review: Inheritance

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Rating: ★★★★★

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

This was a beautifully illustrated and powerful poem!

Being a huge poetry lover, I surprisingly have not read any of Elizabeth Acevedo’s previous works. I’ve heard countless amazing things about her work, so I was excited to finally read something by her. I was not disappointed! 

The poem was short yet so impactful. It beautifully highlighted the struggles of natural hair as well as the complexities of being Afro-Latinidad. It’s personal, real, and authentic, which are all qualities I look for when reading poetry. 

Since it is a visual poem, I have to talk about the illustrations and the role they played. The illustrations were gorgeous. They were so colorful, bold, and vibrant. They complemented the poem and its message very well. I can tell a lot of thought went into the illustrations. For example, some of the words are written in cursive which mimics the curves and coils of curly hair. 

Overall, I highly recommend this little book! Get it for yourself, or gift it to a friend who loves poetry and/or Elizabeth Acevedo (I cannot reiterate how stunning this book is. It would make a great gift).


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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: 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: Whistle

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Rating: ★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the publishers (DC Comics) in exchange for an honest review.

This was a fun origin story for a new superhero!

First off, the art in this is amazing. I loved the color palette of blue, orange, and green. It made for a striking combination. The art style reminded me of the old school cartoons I used to read in the newspaper as a kid. 

The storyline is interesting. Many reviewers mention the ending, in which things are not wrapped up completely. Things are left in a morally gray area so it may leave some readers unsatisfied. Personally, I was fine with the ending because it leaves open the possibility of more installments. Also, the morally gray ending was thought-provoking so I appreciated that aspect. 

Whistle’s powers were intriguing. Her dog-like powers and ability to communicate with dogs reminded me of Marvel’s Squirrel Girl and her squirrel-like powers. However, I would have liked more story development on her powers. There wasn’t a lot of exploration on them, and since this is a new character, it would have been helpful to see the full extent of what she could do. 

I loved the subtle cameos/references to other DC characters. For example, Black Canary makes a brief musical appearance (pg. 135), Willow wears a Flash tee shirt (pg. 139), and there is Harley Quinn graffiti (pg. 142). 

Overall, this was a solid start to a new superhero story. I am curious to see where it goes next. 


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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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The Beautiful (The Beautiful #1)

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Rating: ★★★★

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

First off, this is not your typical YA vampire book. It’s a very subtle vampire book. The word vampire isn’t even used until way late in the book. 

This book is a slow burn, which I liked. It definitely takes a while to get into the story. I found that the slower pace worked well in creating the mystery and intrigue. This is the first book in a series that is projected to have 4 books, so a lot of this book is likely setting the stage for the rest of the series. The slower pace is to be expected.

The book has a lot of interesting supporting characters. My favorite was Odette. She was awesome. I can’t wait to see how her character progresses in the coming books. There’s a lot to explore with her. I also loved Pippa because she’s quite the mystery. This book didn’t delve much into her past or background so I am intrigued to find that out in the coming books. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I am very curious to see how the rest of the series pans out. I recommend this book if you are interested in a more historical fiction take on vampires and also if you want to read a YA vampire series that isn’t Twilight (no shade against Twilight, I just know it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea). 


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Review: From Little Tokyo, With Love

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Rating: ★★★★★

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

This was such a cute and heartwarming story!

I loved the representation in this. Both the main characters are biracial. Rika is Japanese and white and Hank is Filipino and Chinese. I am biracial myself (Filipino and white) so I related a lot to them. I really resonated with something Rika said. She states, “But it’s not like white people look at me and think I’m one of them” (pg. 130). I have felt that way my whole life. 

Also in terms of representation, Rika’s aunts were lesbians which I found very refreshing and important especially in regards to the Asian American community. Often times LBGTQA+ people are not accepted by the Asian American community and this book highlighted that fact.

I liked that the Rika was flawed. So many young adult female leads are written as perfect people, so it was nice to see one who had flaws. It made her feel more realistic. 

I also enjoyed that the city of LA was utilized well. Numerous books just use LA as a backdrop but never explore the city. Here, it was given a life of its own and featured lesser known attractions like the old Griffith Park Zoo (I never knew this existed and need to check it out!). 

Lastly, going back to Asian American communities, this book delved into the shortcomings of said communities. One character states,

“I really wish so many of our communities would just, like, acknowledge that anger isn’t always a bad emotion…You can’t just reject it — you have to let yourself feel it, make room for it, or all that repressing will burn you up inside”

pg 313

That is so true. We are often taught to just hold our anger inside but that isn’t healthy. We can and should be angry. Additionally, the book also talks about shame in relation to not being what is considered to be “perfect” in the community. 

Overall, this book was relatable with a super cute romance, but it also struck a more serious note and shed a light on the Asian American experience. 


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Review: Tokyo Ever After

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Rating: ★★★★½

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (Flatiroin exchange for an honest review.

This was such a cute read! 

The premise is everything. A Japanese American girl discovering she is a princess? Yes please! As a whole, I thought the premise was well executed. There was a good balance between the humorous adjusting to royal parts and the more serious discovering who she is parts.   

I really liked that the book included a family tree with a brief description of everyone in the family. It made the book so easy to follow. 

Character-wise, I loved Izumi’s all Asian friend group (nicknamed Asian Girl Gang, or AGG for short). It was so nice seeing a female lead with a large friend group to support her. Also, one of her friends was half-Filipino just like me. I always love seeing Filipino representation in books, even if it’s just a small side character. 

I also enjoyed the writing style. It was engaging and flowed well. 

The Own Voices aspect was also really strong, especially in regards to feeling like a foreigner. The book highlighted how visiting Japan while being Japanese American feels strange since she’s not “Japanese” enough. That is so true. Being American is an added layer of identity and affects how others perceive you. I’m Filipino American and there is a difference in how people in the Philippines view you if you’re American born versus Philippines born. 

However, the book is on the predictable side. If you’re familiar with the lost royalty trope or have seen The Princess Diaries movies, then a lot of the plot points are nothing new. 

Additionally, the romance in this book is a little insta-lovey. I felt like the book didn’t even need a romance sub-plot; it was already strong on its own. 

Overall, I throughly enjoyed this Own Voices take on lost royalty! I recommend it if you love stories about royal families. 


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Review: My Last Summer with Cass

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Rating: ★★★½

 I received an ARC of this book for free from The Novl in exchange for an honest review. 

The strongest part of this book was how it portrayed a complicated friend dynamic. It explored their past as childhood friends, then their last summer together in New York, and then finally revisited them a few years later. It really highlighted the highs and the lows of their friendship well.

Since this is a graphic novel, I have to talk about the artwork. I had an ARC so the art was not in full color. But I did look through the book preview on Amazon and saw it in full color and the coloring was amazing! 

However, I wanted a little bit more from the story. The plot is incredibly basic and I would have liked for it to have been more nuanced. It’s also very fast paced and would have benefited from a slower pace, especially after the main conflict happened. It jumped from the main conflict to three years later so fast. I would have liked to seen the aftermath of it play out more (most of it happened off page), especially in regards to Megan and her parents. 

Overall, I enjoyed this graphic novel, but ultimately was left wanting more. If you like art or are an artist yourself, you may like this one! 


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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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