Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

Luck at the library

Well, I just posted my 2021 Library Love challenge yesterday, and I’ve already been doing pretty well this month with it! I put holds on two recent releases I was excited about, fully expecting I wouldn’t actually get a copy for probably a month or two since they were popular. Plus, the little time estimated gadget and the number of other holds was… pretty lengthy.

Happily (and unexpectedly), I got both within days of submitting the hold! I have no idea what happened — maybe other people cancelled their holds? maybe the library got more copies? — but one is finished and the other is nearly. ☺

The first was Siri, Who Am I? by Sam Tschida that surprised me by being a shade more thoughtful than I anticipated. Frankly I was in it for a probably generic but still enjoyable light read. Girl has amnesia, has to figure out who she is (was?) from her only true source: social media. But since most people fake their lives on social, can she even trust that?

The other is Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas, which you may well have heard of. And if you haven’t, I’ve read about 75% of it and can happily say it’s quite good! I think it’s a little softer and less gut-wrenching than her other book with it, The Hate U Give. Still good, for sure, but you can probably read it without wanting to rage at the world. Though, who knows: I haven’t finished it just yet!

Good news if you have the next hold on this book after me: it’ll be coming your way soon. 😁

Posted in Reviews

Review: Heiress Apparently by Diana Ma

Heiress Apparently by Diana Ma
Verdict: a somewhat generic plot spiced up by art, history, family, racism, and so much more!

Recommended: sure
For a slightly altered YA version of Crazy Rich Asians, for a happy book where kindness takes control, for surprising pepperings of acting, art, history, and more that will keep you interested.

Summary

Gemma Huang is a recent transplant to Los Angeles from Illinois, having abandoned plans for college to pursue a career in acting, much to the dismay of her parents. Now she’s living with three roommates in a two-bedroom hovel, auditioning for bit roles that hardly cover rent. Gemma’s big break comes when she’s asked to play a lead role in an update of M. Butterfly filming for the summer in Beijing. When she arrives, she’s stopped by paparazzi at the airport. She quickly realizes she may as well be the twin of one of the most notorious young socialites in Beijing. Thus kicks off a summer of revelations, in which Gemma uncovers a legacy her parents have spent their lives protecting her from—one her mother would conceal from her daughter at any cost.

Thoughts

Admittedly better than I expected! There were conversations about art, Chinese history, belonging, racism, family, and so much more. They went a bit deeper than I expected them to, and cut to the heart of the matter without bogging down the story or losing it’s true thread. That’s a pretty impressive skill, to weave in ideas and commentary without taking over your characters. The central plot itself was also heartwarming in a lot of ways, since kindness takes precedence as the most important thing. So often, this is forgone in books for a more dramatic, cruel kind of pull. I’m not about that. I thought this was a wonderful balance.

Continue reading “Review: Heiress Apparently by Diana Ma”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Concrete Rose, 1/12/21

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas (who I feel probably doesn’t need an introduction as an author at this point).
Expected Release: January 12, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • Well, of course, Angie Thomas. The fact that this is a companion novel to The Hate U Give is enough reason alone for me to want to pick it up. The first book was raw and painful and necessary. Give me more any day.
  • I trust Angie to take an honest and balanced look at life in — and after — a gang. Hearing Mav’s story has so much potential, to see how he managed to get out of the game. It was referenced so much and such a key factor in some elements of the other book, that it will be exciting to dive into his story a little more.
  • On top of that, there’s the whole unexpected-parenthood thing, which is a difficult situation to be thrown into for anyone I imagine. There are so many colliding “difficult situations” in here for Mav to deal with. I hope it doesn’t get jumbled, but I expect good things!

If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man takes care of his family. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does that the only way he knows how: dealing for the King Lords. With this money he can help his mom, who works two jobs while his dad’s in prison.

Life’s not perfect, but with a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back, Mav’s got everything under control.

Until, that is, Maverick finds out he’s a father.

Suddenly he has a baby, Seven, who depends on him for everything. But it’s not so easy to sling dope, finish school, and raise a child. So when he’s offered the chance to go straight, he takes it. In a world where he’s expected to amount to nothing, maybe Mav can prove he’s different.

When King Lord blood runs through your veins, though, you can’t just walk away. Loyalty, revenge, and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart, especially after the brutal murder of a loved one. He’ll have to figure out for himself what it really means to be a man.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: A Vow So Bold and Deadly, 1/12/21

Hey y’all! It’s the first Friday of the year, and the first day of the year! Whoo, I guess! But hey, I’m not breaking tradition just because of a page flip on a calendar: today’s Friday, and I’m looking forward to a book coming out (blessedly) soon. Saying I’m looking forward to A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer almost feels like cheating since it’s such a hugely popular release. BUT: I also never thought I would actually be interested in it! So here’s what changed my mind…

Why wait on this one?

  • Since this is the third (and final) book in the series, I’ve of course already read the other two (A Curse So Dark and Lonely and A Heart so Fierce and Broken). So obviously my first reason for being excited for this book is TO KNOW THE ENDING! We’ve come a long way in this story, and met a lot of different characters, and jumped ship probably a million times. So. Now what, Brigid?
  • I’m particularly intrigued in this book as a tiebreaker book between the first two. The styles changed dramatically from book one to book two, and we even changed character perspectives entirely (which was not a wildly popular choice for some people). So, I want to know who we’re going to hear from now! Will it be all four main-ish characters? Just two of them? Written in third person omniscient?! WHO KNOWS! I’m terribly curious to see how she’ll wrap this up
  • Remember how I said I never thought I’d actually be into this series? Well that’s because it was so obnoxiously overly hyped and popular for so long that I hated it just for that. I figured it would be a pretty generic girl-ends-up-in-faerie-land story, and boy was I wrong. I love the way Harper’s disability is just a part of who she is, instead of defining her entirely. I love the complex relationship dynamics between Grey and Rhen. Admittedly Lia Mara is not really that compelling for me, but she is now a pretty important player in the game so she better step it up. I love the world and characters now, so I’m seeing it through to the end.

summary

Emberfall is crumbling fast, torn between those who believe Rhen is the rightful prince and those who are eager to begin a new era under Grey, the true heir. Grey has agreed to wait two months before attacking Emberfall, and in that time, Rhen has turned away from everyone—even Harper, as she desperately tries to help him find a path to peace.

Meanwhile, Lia Mara struggles to rule Syhl Shallow with a gentler hand than her mother. But after enjoying decades of peace once magic was driven out of their lands, some of her subjects are angry Lia Mara has an enchanted prince and magical scraver by her side. As Grey’s deadline draws nearer, Lia Mara questions if she can be the queen her country needs.

As two kingdoms come closer to conflict, loyalties are tested, love is threatened, and an old enemy resurfaces who could destroy them all, in this stunning conclusion to bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer’s Cursebreaker series.

Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

Do you like knowing if a book is the start of a series before reading it?

Hey y’all!

I ran into a little issue with a book I read today (and finished today… it was a slow day). While I actually enjoyed Heiress Apparently by Diana Ma more than I thought I would, I also learned that it’s apparently part of a series! I’m not totally sure how or why, since it doesn’t feel totally required by the ending. I’ll probably read it though — I quite enjoyed this one and would follow the characters a bit further!

Anyway, once I found that out midway through the book, it shaded my expectations of it a bit. I got a little bit bitter and suspicious, because it felt like the story could cleanly wrap up in this one book — but I knew it was the first in a series! I started thinking something really frustrating would happen to unnecessarily draw the story out, likely in a way that didn’t make sense and wasn’t needed (which is all too common).

Continue reading “Do you like knowing if a book is the start of a series before reading it?”
Posted in Reviews

2 Second Review: Hunted by the Sky by Tanaz Bhathena

2 sentence summary:

Gul’s prophesied birthmark is the cause of her parents death and her own doomed life on the run from the kings men. She breaks into the palace seeking vengeance, and poor magic-less Cavas the servant gets swooped up into her schemes (and… maybe into her heart…).

Thoughts?

An ok start that I think will be followed by an even better sequel. For an author who usually makes me love characters, they were a bit meh for me here, oddly. I don’t really care for Gul one way or another. She has strengths and flaws I guess, but I feel like she doesn’t have heart. It was so performative to me somehow. I never really bought into the danger or fear that should have been pulsing through every moment. There also seemed to be a lot of things that were easily handed to Gul and not worked into the plot very well. Any issue seemed to be immediately resolved with little effort. It was… unimpressive. This fast forward Friday feature was not quite as I’d hoped.

So what’s going to make me read the sequel? I love the blend of myth and life and magic. I think now that we have a whole book of exposition out of the way, the path is clear for the real excitement to begin. With the way the first book ended, there should be no way book 2 won’t be absolutely thrilling!

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: 11 Paper Hearts

Hey y’all! I usually do these on Fridays (hence the title) but some holidays are falling on Fridays this month so… they’re a bit delayed. 😅 But nonetheless, I am still excited about this upcoming 2021 release!!! OOoooh, so shiny! 11 Paper Hearts is (hopefully) a lovely way to start off the new year.
Expected Release: January 5, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • Alright, I’ll be honest, the plot relying on the whole “accident causes teenage amnesia and she has to relearn her own life” is pretty done out and, yes, cheesy AF. But. I still kinda love it. And I still want to read it. 😂
  • Falling in love, again, is also a trope I swoon for. I think falling in love with your partner daily is partly a choice, and a way to focus on the good and things you’re grateful for. Taking someone for granted seems like a fast track to the end of a relationship. So even though this is, you know, teenagers… I’m still on board.
  • Cute rom-com mystery! Who are the secret hearts from? Is it her boyfriend she doesn’t remember? Some newcomer who is emboldened at a chance with her, free of judgment? Love it up, y’all.

Summary

Ella’s life was picture perfect. She had a circle of close friends, a jam-packed social life, and an amazing boyfriend. But then something completely unexpected happened: a car accident after a Valentine’s Day dance. When Ella woke up in the hospital, she couldn’t remember the accident . . . or anything about the weeks before it, including the reason she broke up with her boyfriend.

Now, a year later, she begins receiving paper hearts from a mysterious admirer who seems to have the answers she craves. Ella is intrigued. The hearts contain clues to help Ella remember her life before . . . and take her on a journey she never imagined. Following the paper hearts is the most spontaneous thing Ella has ever done . . . but will she find love?

Posted in Reviews

2 Second Review: 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston

2 sentence summary:

Sophie’s boyfriend ditches her just before Christmas, and she ends up heartbroken and surrounded by her (somewhat estranged) extended family. So they decide to each take turns setting her up with single young men for two weeks of daily dates, as they get to know their beloved relative again.

Thoughts?

I read this book in one sitting while I couldn’t move out of bed for a day. It was a wonderful distraction, way better than I expected, and perfect for a Christmassy-but-not-too-Christmassy read. Also I thought it would be pretty weird and awkward to get over the fact that her whole family is setting her up on these dates, but it was presented in a loving and fun way rather than in a “we are concerned about your sex life” way. Which is good since she’s only 17 anyway. Also matchmaking is still a thing, so I guess family-delivered blind dates really isn’t that weird.

Posted in Reviews

Review: The Queen’s Assassin by Melissa De La Cruz

Hey y’all! A quick note that the formatting for this post is pretty weak because I’m posting this from my phone with limited connection. So I have to keep it simple today! I’ll update it once I’m home again. ☺️

Summary

Caledon Holt is the Kingdom of Renovia’s deadliest weapon. No one alive can best him in brawn or brains, which is why he’s the Guild’s most dangerous member and the Queen’s one and only assassin. He’s also bound to the Queen by an impossible vow–to find the missing Deian Scrolls, the fount of all magical history and knowledge, stolen years ago by a nefarious sect called the Aphrasians.

Shadow has been training all her life to follow in the footsteps of her mother and aunts–to become skilled enough to join the ranks of the Guild. Though magic has been forbidden since the Aphrasian uprising, Shadow has been learning to control her powers in secret, hoping that one day she’ll become an assassin as feared and revered as Caledon Holt.

When a surprise attack brings Shadow and Cal together, they’re forced to team up as assassin and apprentice to hunt down a new sinister threat to Renovia. But as Cal and Shadow grow closer, they’ll uncover a shocking web of lies and secrets that may destroy everything they hold dear. With war on the horizon and true love at risk, they’ll stop at nothing to protect each other and their kingdom in this stunning first novel in the Queen’s Secret series.

_______________________

Thoughts

It was ok. There’s a chance I’d continue the series, but not in any pressing way. The writing was somewhat weak; there was lots of telling not showing, particularly in the very beginning and end. It weakened the story overall, as it felt distant from the story itself and like a blurb provided midway for an editor to have context. Not really the experience I want as a reader.

The plot is pretty generic, but there’s a reason I keep reading books with a secret royal / royal assassin / demon and magic baseline: I like them. I would say this was definitely more romance than adventure, though. A sprinkle of cave sleeping and near escapes, but overall there was minimal peril or even things going wrong.

Continue reading “Review: The Queen’s Assassin by Melissa De La Cruz”
Posted in A Picture's Worth

A Picture’s Worth: Roma, Juliette, and Mina Lee

Words have always carried more weight with me than images – give me a book over its movie any day – but I do love to see the beautiful images other people create when they’re in love with a book. That’s not my strength, but I can certainly appreciate it in others! So here’s a few of my faves based on what I’ve been reading recently.

These Violent Delights

I chose These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong as a Book of the Month because I had never heard of it before. And then promptly was told by others that they had been hearing about it everywhere for ages. 🤣 Not sure where I’ve been, but it was new to me! 1920s Shanghai combined with Romeo and Juliet and also gangs — yeah, I’m into that.

Ughhhh THE COLORS! They’re so pretty together! I love the high contrast on this one making the drama of the book cover’s details really stand out.

It was nice enough recently for me to chill on the deck again and enjoy some citrus while reading my delicious new book 😍

Continue reading “A Picture’s Worth: Roma, Juliette, and Mina Lee”