Review: Victor and Nora

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Rating: ★★★★½

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

What a tragic love story! 

This was another great comic from the DC Graphic Novels for Young Adults imprint. This one followed a young Victor Fries (aka Mr. Freeze) as he first meets Nora (aka Mrs. Freeze). I thought this comic set up their origin story nicely. 

The comic really delves into the emotional states of the characters and the tragedies of their lives. There was a lot of depth and complexity to them. Both Victor and Nora have a lot of grief and it was interesting to see how they dealt with that. If you like tragic young adult love stories, then you’ll probably like Victor and Nora’s story! 

Since this is a comic, I have to talk about the artwork. It is amazing!The use of colors in showing their relationship was very clever. Victor was cool blues, while Nora was warm hues. The colors were also useful in distinguishing whose point of view was being shown. There were also a few art style changes in the comic that were super fun. For example, on pages 38-39, the art changes to the Tim Burton skeleton look, which was so spot on! 

Overall, I really enjoyed this young adult take on a famous Gotham villain couple! 


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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: Bookish and the Beast (Once Upon A Con #3)

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Rating: ★★★★

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

I am such a huge fan of this series so I was excited to read this, especially since Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale. I ended up enjoying this a lot!

So first off, there are a lot of references to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Like on page 37 there is a reference to “the great wide somewhere” and on page 224 there is talk of “Magic spells. Daring sword fights. A prince in disguise.” As a Beauty and the Beast super fan I had a ton of fun picking up all these little Easter eggs. 

As for the characters, the author always writes the most interesting and dynamic ones. Both the main and supporting characters were so lovable and fleshed out. My favorite was Rosie’s dad, aka Space Dad. He seemed like the coolest dad ever. 

The writing style as usual was perfect for the genre. It was a good amount of geeky mixed in with an easy to read prose. 

This books also had amazing descriptions dedicated to the love of books. For example, Rosie states, “But there is so much more in those words than just loving books. I love the smell of them. I love the way their bindings look pressed together on a shelf…They are portals into places I’ve never been and people I’ll never be, and in them I have lived a thousand lives and seen a thousand different worlds” (pg. 39). I couldn’t agree more. 

I also would like to point out something the author put in the acknowledgments that I absolutely loved. She writes, “I wrote this book for me. So, if you didn’t really enjoy this book, that’s okay! You’ll find one that you love” (pg. 284). I thought this was a great reminder to readers that it is okay if you didn’t like a book and that authors can write what they want to write (on the assumption for course that it is not offensive, problematic etc.) 

Lastly, I did feel like there was something missing in this book compared to the other ones in the series. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was. It could be that this book is significantly shorter than the other two and I wanted a bit more. 

Overall, if you are a fan of this series (or books or Beauty and the Beast), you’ll probably like this one! 


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Blog Tour: Poisoned

Hi beauties! Today I am a stop on the Poisoned blog tour hosted Rockstar Book Tours. If you love fairy tale retellings, be sure to check out my excerpt post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

About the Book:

Title: POISONED

Author: Jennifer Donnelly

Pub. Date: October 20, 2020

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 320

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, AudibleB&NiBooks, KoboTBD, Bookshop.org

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. 

GRAB STEPSISTER NOW!


EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK

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.


About Jennifer:

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 ReviewsSchool 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.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon


GIVEAWAY DETAILS

3 winners will receive a finished copy of POISONED, US Only.

Enter via this link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e2389ba21161/


Tour Schedule:

Week One:

10/1/2020The Book Nut : A Book Lovers GuideReview
10/2/2020oddandbookishReview
10/3/2020popthebutterflyReview

Week Two:

10/4/2020A Backwards StoryReview
10/5/2020FictitiouswonderlandReview
10/6/2020Kait Plus BooksInterview
10/7/2020The Book RookeryReview
10/8/2020History from a Woman’s PerspectiveReview
10/9/2020MomfluensterReview
10/10/2020Thindbooks BlogReview

Week Three:

10/11/2020The Momma SpotReview
10/12/2020Satisfaction for Insatiable ReadersReview
10/13/2020Bookhounds YAReview
10/14/2020Seeing Double In NeverlandReview
10/15/2020Book-KeepingReview
10/16/2020Nays Pink BookshelfReview
10/17/2020Lisa Loves LiteratureReview

Week Four:

10/18/2020Two Chicks on BooksInterview
10/19/2020The Pages In-BetweenReview
10/20/2020Two Points of InterestReview

Review: Dating Makes Perfect

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Entangled Teen) in exchange for an honest review. Since I received an ARC, my quotes from the book are tentative. 

This was the cutest YA rom-com! 

Okay so first I just have to talk about the #OwnVoices aspect. As a Filipino American, I know how important it is to have your stories told, so I was so happy to finally see a book about the Thai American experience. I had never read a book about the Thai American experience before so I was super eager to read this. From food to the Songkran festival, there was a lot of Thai culture woven throughout the novel. 

The premise of this book is adorable. I loved how the dates were inspired by romantic comedies including some of my favorites, “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” and “Always Be My Maybe.” 

I found this book to be highly relatable. As an Asian American, I could relate to some of Winnie’s experiences. For example, at one point, Winnie’s mom jumps to the conclusion that Winnie could be pregnant. Winnie replies, “Must you always skip fifty million steps? I haven’t even kissed him yet” (pg 126). Yup. My mom is like that too. You start dating a boy and their mind immediately goes to pregnancy. There’s also the quintessential bringing weird food to school moment that Winnie mentions in passing. Lastly, I related to how Winnie talks about respect towards her parents. She states,

“Sometimes, I get so bored of this respect. Yes, it’s important, and yes, it’s my parents’ due. But respect also prevents us from admitting our infractions— and talking about them. That’s what I want. For us to talk. Not as friends, exactly, but certainly without this yawning chasm between us.”

pg. 237

I think that is so true. There can often be this divide between Asian parents and their children because of this notion of respect. 

As for the romance, I thought it was so cute. It’s the classic childhood friends to lovers and enemies to lovers tropes but I thought it was done very well. Winnie and Mat had a lot of chemistry so I loved them as a couple. 

Overall, I recommend this #OwnVoices romance! This book gave me a ton of “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” vibes, so if you like that movie or the books, you’ll probably like this! 

Review: Wonder Woman Tempest Tossed

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Rating: ★★★★

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

This was a great YA interpretation of Wonder Woman! 

The book was very appropriate for the young adult age range. This focuses on a teenage Diana and she is portrayed exactly like that. Diana is frustrated with her changing body and is unsure of her place in the world. A lot of teenagers will be able to relate to her and her struggles of growing up.

The book also touches upon the refugee experience which is such an important topic. Additionally, is features child trafficking which is another tough topic. All of this was well executed. 

At one point Diana wears a hoodie that says, “Seeking Asylum Is A Human Right,” and her friend wears one that says, “Immigration Built This Nation.” This was a subtle, but powerful touch. 

My one critique is that the book went by so fast. Since this is an origin story, there was a lot of stuff that happened and it all happened at lightning speed. I wished it would have went a little more slowly. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this new take on the Wonder Woman origin story and its message! If you love YA and Wonder Woman, read this! 


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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: The New Girl Code

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Rating: ★★★★★

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

This was such an inspiring read for young girls and teens! 

Story time: When I was in college, I wanted to major in computer science so I took a programming class. I ended up failing it (the class was A/B/C/no credit so it didn’t hurt my GPA). I just couldn’t understand how any of what we were learning was going to translate into anything. So I gave up on it and now I’m in law school. 

Reading this book has helped clarify everything I didn’t understand back in college. This book does a great job walking through how apps are made and also the basics of how coding works. 

The book is written in a diary style way with cute illustrations sprinkled throughout. If you think the cover is adorable, that’s exactly the style of illustrations that are in the book. (Added bonus: there are also some cute laptop stickers included!) 

The plot is pretty simple, but it worked well for what it was trying to accomplish. As previously mentioned, it walks the reader through how an app becomes an app in a very easy to follow manner. But it also highlights the importance of female friendship and the dangers of social media and the internet. 

I also liked that the books touches a little upon IP law (particularly copyright). As a law student, I love IP law. I think it’s so fascinating and important to know. 

Overall, this book would make the perfect gift for a girl who is interested in coding! If you want to learn more about coding and the story behind this book, visit: https://thenewgirlcode.com/


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Review: Gotham High

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Rating: ★★★½

I received a copy of this book for free from DC Comics.

This graphic novel takes the iconic Batman characters and puts them in a high school setting. It reminded me a lot of the show, Riverdale. There’s mystery and lots of high school drama. 

What I really loved was the diversity. Bruce Wayne’s mom is from Hong Kong, which makes him half Asian. I found that so refreshing. There’s been so many versions of Bruce Wayne over the years and they are always white. It was cool seeing a Bruce Wayne that was different. Now I really want to see an Asian Bruce Wayne on tv or in a movie. I also loved that Alfred is now Uncle Alfred, Bruce’s gay Asian uncle (he even has a husband). 

The storyline wasn’t mind blowing in any way. It’s fairly simple and straightforward. It went by really fast and could have used a little bit more of development towards the end. 

The artwork, on the other hand, was amazing. It really popped and worked well with the young adult vibe of the book. 

Overall, this was a quick and entertaining graphic novel with beautiful artwork. If you are open to a different interpretation of Batman, give this one a try! 


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