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: 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: 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: 29 Dates

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Rating: ★★★★½

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

This book doesn’t get the greatest reviews but I tend to rate books based on what they are. This was a YA romantic comedy and I thought it was a super cute one!

In the beginning it slightly reminded me of Melissa de la Cruz’s middle grade series, The Ashleys (which I read way back in middle school), because it had a slightly materialistic vibe and was set in San Francisco.

The romance itself was basic but still cute. I loved the little snippets from her 29 dates that were at the beginning of the chapters. 

I really liked that the book touched upon the casual racism that Asians in America face daily such as people thinking Asians all look the same, people being surprised at how well an Asian person speaks English, and the notion that Asians are quiet. 

Since I am Filipino, I also loved the inclusion of some Filipino representation. One of the love interests was Filipino and I loved seeing that. I enjoyed the chapter that explored his life because we got to see a little bit of Filipino culture such as Filipino food and karaoke. 

I noticed at least one use of the word “hella” (pg. 353) which I was super happy to see because that is one of the most popular Bay Area slang words.  

Lastly, I have to address the controversy that surrounds this book. Many people have issues with this book because a non-Korean (Melissa de la Cruz is Filipino) is writing about Korean culture. I think that is a fair and valid critique and I can’t really say much about the Korean aspects since I am not Korean. The one thing I will say however, and this may be controversial, but I do think some of the criticisms I’ve read are overly harsh. Going into this book, I knew this wasn’t going to be a deep book because Melissa de la Cruz’s books are never deep. Even the one book she wrote about a Filipino American immigrant experience still had that classic Melissa de la Cruz fluff. In my personal opinion (which you do not have to agree with), I think Melissa de la Cruz just wanted to write a fun cute story and she tried the best she could with the Korean aspects (which she addresses in her author’s note at the end). She wasn’t trying to make some grand statement about the Korean experience. 

Overall, I really liked this book. Is it mind blowing? No. Is it fun? Yes. So if you’re looking for something fun and not super serious, then consider reading this book.