Book Review | This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura

Authour:
Misa Sugiura
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
June 4th 2019
Publisher:
HarperTeen
Publisher Social Media: 
Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
Every so often, when I’m stuck between two ARCs I turn to social media to help me decide what to read next. Misa Sugiura’s sophomore novel, This Time Will Be Different was the winner of a recent poll I had.

CJ Katsuyama is a Japanese-American teenager who lives with her mother, a high-powered executive and her aunt who runs the family flower shop. While there are countless things CJ isn’t sure of, the one thing she is sure of is that she loves working on floral arrangements with her aunt. So, when she learns that the family shop is being sold to a descendant of the man who cheated her family during World War II she decides to do something about it.

There are two things that I loved about This Time Will Be Different. The first was how relatable CJ was as a teenager, I found it refreshing that she was cynical when it came to matters of the heart as a result of her family’s complicated love history. Still it was nice to have a character be jaded when it comes to love yet still root for others and have crushes. I also appreciated how in the end CJ’s hasn’t been completely changed, she is open to love but not overly sentimental about it. The other thing I loved was the strong women in CJ’s life, I also liked how it the book highlights how CJ feels pressured as a teen to be amazing, especially seeing how well her mother has done for herself as a single and working parent.

This Time Will Be Different was an unexpected read for me, but in a positive way. It started off as a slow read for me, and initially I was only interested in learning more about CJ’s past as it was more interesting than her present day situation. However, I came away learning so much about the language and meaning of flowers in addition to the history of Asian Americans, particularly the Japanese and of the origins of the “model minority” myth. Even though all of this felt like an enormous information dump and at times the placement of these sections affected the pacing of the novel, I still was grateful that it gave me the context to critically look at CJ’s story.

An emotionally resonant story about family, community, and activism This Time Will Be Different shows that real life and people cannot be simplified into good or bad and that history can bring complications even several generations later.

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Advertisements

Book Review | Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

Authour:
Roselle Lim
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
June 11th 2019
Publisher:
Berkley Books
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
Everyone knows what comfort food is, well Roselle Lim’s debut novel is what I call a comfort read. Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune is just one of those reads that warm the heart, and provides a sense of nostalgia.

The story follows a young woman who returns to the neighbourhood, she grew morup in upon hearing of her mother’s death. When Natalie comes back home, she finds her once vibrant San Francisco neighbourhood dying, a shadow of what it once was. I found it interesting that the authour chose to tell Natalie’s story from first-person point of view. This helped me to further connect with Natalie’s personal history and story, including the father she never knew, and the mother who she was estranged from. Natalie’s story was more tragic than I initially thought, however I appreciated the complicated mother-daughter dynamics in the book. I also could relate to Natalie in more ways than one, especially her restlessness and wanderlust. Still, I admired how she fights for her dream and was able to make something of herself.

Along with this being a story of family, community and getting back to your roots, there is also romance in store for Natalie. Though if I were honest, the romance plot in the book didn’t genuinely work for me. The romance had its sweet moments but the development was too fast and the circumstances were too rooted in fantasy and not realistic for me to enjoy. Fortunately, it was not the main focus of Natalie’s story.

Still, there’s definitely something magical about Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune, and I’m not saying that due to the magical realism elements of Natalie’s story. Roselle Lim’s writing truly brings the world that she created to life. The descriptions of all the food is so vivid and mouth-watering that it made me hungry. This is one novel you shouldn’t read on an empty stomach! Luckily, there are recipes in the book and while I may not be much of a cook, I now want to try them out for myself.

Touching on topics like mental illness, and estrangement between mothers and daughters, Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune was not the light and fluffy read I thought it would be. It is however, a read that is as enchanting as its cover promises.

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon

Authour:
Sandhya Menon
Format:
eGalley
Publication date:
May 14th 2019
Publisher:
Simon Pulse
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
We first met Ashish in When Dimple Met Rishi as Ashish is Rishi’s little brother. There’s Something about Sweetie continues Ashish’s story and introduces us to the sassy Sweetie Nair. I’ll be honest, despite my excitement for this book I was a bit wary. The plot of There’s Something about Sweetie meant that Ashish and Celia would no longer be a couple and I loved them as the beta couple in When Dimple Met Rishi. In spite of that, Sweetie quickly won me over and I truly felt that she and Ashish were the perfect foil to one another. 

This was a book that had me grinning from ear to ear, of course, there were a few (joyful) tears as I love how authentically both characters’ families were portrayed. As a child of immigrants, I could definitely relate to Sweetie’s conflict about wanting to be her own person and not giving in to familial pressure yet at the same time not being able to fully go against her parents. After all, even if you disagree with them their words still have an effect on you because they’re your parents and you want them to accept and love you for who you are. I also loved how this was a YA novel where families, especially parents play such an integral part in a teenager’s life. However, I also love how both Sweetie and Ashish’s friends are heavily featured in this book, especially as they are all such fun characters who always have each other’s’ backs. Furthermore, it was amazing how a couple of Ashish’s friends, even got their own subplot and character development moments.

Ashish truly has come a long way since his first appearance and I love how Sweetie grows, although her character doesn’t change a great deal. Perhaps this due to the fact that she was shown as being perfect with her only flaw being her struggling between standing up for herself and being a dutiful daughter? It’s hard for anyone to not fall in love with her. A delightful read, There’s Something about Sweetie is one of those books that’s guaranteed to put you in a good mood with its adorableness, lack of any major angst and message of loving yourself and opening yourself up to others.

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo

Authour:
Maurene Goo
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
May 7th 2019
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
For those who remember or are familiar with the movie, Roman Holiday starring Gregory Peck as a reporter and Audrey Hepburn as a princess looking for one day of freedom from her royal duties. Somewhere Only We Know modernizes this story by having it set in present day Hong Kong. I also like how Goo made the story her own by changing up the setting and making the two characters Asian American teenagers while still making nods to the book’s inspiration. The Hong Kong setting allows readers to visit another country and culture and experience Hong Kong from more of a local’s perspective, though with a sprinkling of the tourist highlights of course. I also felt that the pacing was actually perfect, especially for a story that supposedly takes place over less than two days at no point in the story did ever felt rushed. 

Somewhere Only We Know has two narrators, “Lucky” aka Fern (neither is her real name) and Jack. I found it refreshing that both were older teens as we watch them struggle to find their passion and decide what they want to do in life. I related to both characters’ pressure and stress over not letting others down, especially when they’ve made so countless sacrifices for you. I also appreciated how the parents, especially Jack’s parents weren’t your stereotypical strict, “tiger” parents. Since Jack’s story is told from his point of view, we only view his parents from his eyes. As a result, it was nice when he finally is able to talk to them and they’re able to clear up any misconceived notions he had about them. 

Finally central to Somewhere Only We Know is the relationship that gradually develops between Lucky and Jack. While there were a few clichéd moments that could be attributed to the K-drama feel of the book, their relationship like the characters themselves felt truly authentic. The romance wasn’t swoon worthy nor did it make me hardcore ship Lucky and Jack together. However, in the end I bought their connection and I’m satisfied with how both their story ends. 

A light read that isn’t all rainbows and sunshine, Somewhere Only We Know is still an entertaining read, especially for those who love K-dramas, or those who believe you can find love from a short, chance encounter.

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka

Authour:
Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
April 23rd 2019
Publisher:
Viking Books for Young Readers
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
As a slightly obsessive YA contemporary rom-com reader, I’ve wanted to read an Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka book ever since their début novel last year. Fortunately, I was able to snag an advance copy of their latest book, If I’m Being Honest. Pitched as “The Taming of the Shrew meets Mean Girls”, I was a bit wary of it since The Taming of the Shrew is the Shakespeare play that I hate the most. Yet something told me to give it a chance and fortunately I listened.  

To almost everyone around her, Cameron Bright appears to be your stereotypical “mean girl”. She’s attractive, popular and has no regard for others. However, as readers, we get a glimpse at Cameron’s home life and her complicated family, thus showing us a more vulnerable side to her “mean girl” actions. After getting to know her better, it was difficult not to feel sympathy for her. She just wants her father to acknowledge her since her mother never seems to care about her. So while Cameron is not your typical, likeable protagonist I actually liked her for her independent nature and how she was incredibly honest to others even if it was to a fault. It was also enjoyable to have a protagonist who was a teenager who, while flawed had several layers to who she was. This made it more satisfying as we see Cameron develop into a more self-aware and caring person while still retaining her “bite”. Furthermore, she learns to accept her flaws and won’t settle for someone who can’t take her as she is.

The romance in If I’m Being Honest was sweet. I love all the banter between Cameron and Brendan especially since they went from sending emails to each other to texting and then to interacting in person. There’s also family drama in this book as both of Cameron’s parents are not truly present in her life and Brendan and Paige also do not have the best relationship with their parents. Cameron’s mother, however does do a heel face turn towards the end of the book, though I had difficulty buying into her reasoning as it just doesn’t add up. That being said, it was refreshing to see parents who weren’t perfect, but who weren’t exactly all complete monsters either.

Similar to Always Never Yours, If I’m Being Honest is a modern twist of The Taming of the Shrew. However, it’s so much more than that. If I’m Being Honest stands on its own as an unflinchingly realistic, but empowering twist on your average teen rom com. I’ll definitely be checking out future books by this duo as well as Always Never Yours since the couple from that book make an adorable cameo in If I’m Being Honest.

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

What’s Next? #6 | This Time Will Be Ordinary

What’s Next is a weekly book blogging meme originally created by IceyBooks; where bloggers ask their readers to vote on which one they should read next.

Today on Words of Mystery, I need to decide which of the YA contemporary novels I should pick up next.

For two sisters as different as Plum and Ginny, getting on each other’s nerves is par for the course. But when the family’s finances hit a snag, sending chaos through the house in a way only characters from a Jane Austen novel could understand, the two drift apart like they never have before. Plum, a self-described social outcast, strikes up a secret friendship with the class jock, while Ginny’s usual high-strung nature escalates to pure hysterics.

But this has always been the sisters’ dynamic. So why does everything feel different this year? Maybe because Ginny is going to leave for college soon. Maybe because Plum finally has something that she doesn’t have to share with her self-involved older sister. Or maybe because the girls are forced to examine who they really are instead of who their late father said they were. And who each girl discovers—beneath the years of missing their dad—could either bring them closer together…or drive them further apart.

Katsuyamas never quit—but seventeen-year-old CJ doesn’t even know where to start. She’s never lived up to her mom’s type A ambition, and she’s perfectly happy just helping her aunt, Hannah, at their family’s flower shop.

She doesn’t buy into Hannah’s romantic ideas about flowers and their hidden meanings, but when it comes to arranging the perfect bouquet, CJ discovers a knack she never knew she had. A skill she might even be proud of.

Then her mom decides to sell the shop—to the family who swindled CJ’s grandparents when thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII. Soon a rift threatens to splinter CJ’s family, friends, and their entire Northern California community; and for the first time, CJ has found something she wants to fight for.

So, which book do you think I should pick up first? Cast your vote in the Twitter poll below!

https://twitter.com/WordsofMystery/status/1113953200598601733

Frenzy Five | Spring/Summer 2019

It’s hard to believe it’s been 7 years since the very first, Frenzy Presents. Frenzy Presents has certainly come a long way since its humble beginnings especially as this event had over 110 attendees and that’s not including the waitlist! This particular event was definitely shorter than the ones in the past due to the Angie Thomas event that was taking place at the Art Gallery of Ontario later that afternoon. Still there was no shortage of great titles, so without further ado here are my top five picks from all of the titles presented.

1. The Wise and the Wicked by Rebecca Podos (Release Date: May 28, 2019)

A contemporary-fantasy hybrid novel, The Wise and the Wicked is about a family with an unusual power. Every woman in Ruby’s family when they come of age, has the ability to see when exactly they will die. And without fail, every member of the Chernyavsky family has died in the same manner that they saw that is until Ruby’s great-aunt Polina passes away. This twist leads to Ruby having hope that things are not completely set in stone, but can she really change her fate? An own voices magical realism story, this one awesome some awesome LGBTQ characters and representation which I’m all here for!

2. Ordinary Girls by Blair Thornburgh (Release Date: June 4, 2019)

This one was one of the titles on my wish list and I was fortunate enough to snag an ARC in my swag bag. A modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, this one’s for those who love stories about complicated and dysfunctional family dynamics particularly among sisters. 

3. This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura (Release Date: June 4, 2019)

Another contemporary YA novel that I’m eagerly anticipating, this one is about a Japanese American girl whose family owns a flower shop. Interestingly enough this one looks at the effect that the Japanese internment camps still has, since CJ’s family ends up selling their shop to the family that swindled her grandparents during WWII. This causes CJ to stand up and fight for her family, causing conflict within their entire Northern California community. Perfect for fans of Samira Ahmed’s Love, Hate & Other Filters, Sandhya Menon’s When Dimple Met Rishi as well Jenny Han.

4. The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter (Release Date: June 25, 2019)

Everyone that attended the event received a chapter sampler of this Evil Queen retelling. For fans of twisted fairy-tale retellings like the Lunar Chronicles series, this one takes place in a world where your fate is already written in the fairy tales. Everly Morrow is a loner and outsider who has the ability to commune with mirrors. Unbeknownst to her, she is destined to be the “Evil Queen” in Snow White’s story. Will she succumb to becoming the evil queen and a villain or give up her crown to become a hero? After reading this one, I’m even more intrigued to read the rest of Everly’s story.

5. Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin (Release Date: September 3, 2019)

Okay so technically this one doesn’t come out until the fall, however those who attended the Spring 2019 Frenzy Presents event were given a tiny glimpse of some upcoming fall titles. This one is the first in a fantasy duology, and is the authour’s debut novel. Although, fantasy isn’t my typical cup of tea I’m excited for this one because it has a runaway witch, a marriage of convenience cleverly orchestrated by the protagonist and of course some forbidden romance between a huntsman and a witch! Also how awesome is this cover?

Book Review | The Birds, The Bees, and You and Me by Olivia Hinebaugh

Authour:
Olivia Hinebaugh
Format:
eGalley
Publication date:
January 22nd 2019
Publisher:
Swoon Reads
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
Olivia Hinebaugh’s The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me is an important read, especially for teenagers since even in 2018 sex ed. is under constant attack. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to hear about schools where the curriculum is outdated or harmful to students as happens to the characters in The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me 

The protagonist of The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me is a high school senior named Lacey who is fed up with her school’s climate of shaming students who may have real questions about their sexual health. And while she has little life experience in that area, Lacey is probably more qualified when compared with the questionable guest speakers and perhaps even a couple of her teachers as she grew up with learning everything there is to know about “the birds and the bees” from a mother who is a obstetrics nurse. 

The mother-daughter relationship between Lacey and her mother was refreshingly drama free and supportive. It was entertaining to see her mother more than ready to jump behind the antics of Lacey and her friends as they try to fight the educational “system”. In addition to being a sex-positive and health-conscious book that makes the topic of consent “cool”, The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me is also an incredible “friend group” book. There is also a bit of romance in the book, but it’s truly only a minor part of the entire book. Instead the friendship between Lacey, Evita, Theo and later Alice stood at the forefront of the book. Which is why I appreciated the fact that any potential love drama between the friends was avoided by having the characters engage in honest conversations and not fight with each other and/or act all passive aggressive. I also loved the frank way in which asexuality was discussed. Evita considers herself to be asexual, but she also struggled with discovering her sexuality, which is also common among young people in life.

I liked The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me for the fact that it tackles something I haven’t seen yet in YA novels in a non-preachy way. However, other than its interesting premise, it was only an average read for me. That being said, I hope this book gets into high school libraries as it is an excellent book about an important issue and it can help start what teens may feel to be an awkward conversation by making the topic more accessible. 

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

TeensRead Winter + Spring 2019 Preview Picks

Two months ago, I was fortunate enough to attend the Raincoast BooksTeensRead Winter and Spring 2019 Preview event in Toronto. As always there were some of the best donuts I’ve ever had, awesome swag bags, and of course tons of amazing books that were presented to us. Below are my top three picks from the preview and for 2019.

1. Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Evans Hicks (on sale February 12th, 2019)

Faith Evan Hicks is a Canadian cartoonist and animator known for her graphic novel. Comics Will Break Your Heart is her first young adult novel. The plot of this book inspired by the real life stories of comic creators of companies like DC and Marvel who lost the rights to their creations, and thus were never fairly compensated for their work, comics will break your heart is about Miriam the granddaughter of one of the creators of a well-known superhero who was betrayed by my co-creator as a result her family is now penniless. While Miriam is trying to out if she truly wants more than what her small town can offer, she meets a cute boy who of course ends up being the grandson of the man who betrayed her grandfather. I got an ARC of this one at the preview event and am intrigued by it. Hopefully I’ll get around to reading this one. Fun fact, Comics Will Break Your Heart is apparently the first book in a series, though I hope the book is a standalone and the next book is about other characters.

2. Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo (on sale May 7th, 2019)

At the time of the preview, we didn’t have a cover for this book. However, now that we do can I just say how adorable it is? Of all the titles mentioned during the preview, this one is without a doubt my most anticipated title! Another romantic comedy from Maurene Goo, Somewhere Only We Know is a modern take on the classic Audrey Hepburn film  Roman Holiday only with Hong Kong setting and a potential romance with Kpop singer and the son of a paparazzi who is trying to impress his dad. I cannot wait to read this one, and *fingers crossed* I’ll be able to snag an advance of it!

3.We Hunt the Flame (We Hunt the Flame #1) by Hafsah Faizal (on sale May 14th, 2019)

We Hunt the Flame is getting ALOT of buzz on social media and a lot of people at the preview were excited for it. I love the tagline for this book which is, “people lived because she killed, people died because he lived”. Doesn’t that speak your curiosity? The author herself is Muslim and she wanted to write a diverse fantasy novel with an Arabica setting with no genies or even supernatural elements. The first in a duology, We Hunt the Flame promises to be a thrilling novel that is all about discovering who you are and conquering your fear.

Book Review | Dear Heartbreak: YA Authors and Teens on the Dark Side of Love

Format:
ARC
Publication date:
December 18st 2018
Publisher:
Henry Holt & Company
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
Anthology collections that are short stories or essays can be difficult to review at times, however reviewing an anthology of letters from real teens that are answered by authors in story form with a sprinkling of advice is something I haven’t done until now. As the title suggests, Dear Heartbreak has teens write in to authours about their heartbreaks and about the not so pleasant side of love which is unfortunately something we do not often see in non-fiction that is geared towards teenagers. I love this idea as it was a unique twist on the typical advice columns.

The authours’ personal experiences and stories lead to plenty of compelling reading material. Kekla Magoon’s response to a teen who is surrounded by people but still feels lonely, tiled “If You Call, I Will Answer” resonated the most with present me as I’ve also found it to be true that occasionally you need to be the one to reach out whether it’s when you need help or whether you just want company. The other piece that stood out to me from this collection was Gayle Forman’s response to a teen who wrote in initially about heartbreak however it turned out to be about experience. In “The Teacher of All Things”, Forman is able to write back in a way that shows she understands the teen and is able to emphasize with their desires without coming off as condescending or preachy. I also love that she recommends travel as a way to gain new experiences as I could not agree more!

In spite of the fact that I’m no longer a teen, this anthology still spoke to me and helped me to come to terms with my past experiences. I still remember as a teen and kid feeling lonely, confused and heartbroken as I faced constant rejection and felt socially isolated all while trying to find friendship and acceptance. As a result, seeing the raw vulnerability from teens and a few of the authours broke my heart and made me tear up several times while reading their stories. 

Dear Heartbreak is a collection that I wish I had as a teenager in high school. In terms of advice there isn’t anything that stands out in this book, however a list of resources is provided at the back of the book for those who need more. Otherwise, for people, particularly those in high school who feel like no one sees, hears, loves and/or understands them this book is like one giant, warm hugs.

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao

Authour:
Julie C. Dao
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
November 6th 2018
Publisher:
Philomel Book
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
I’ve said it before, and I should probably say it again fantasy fiction is typically not my cup of tea. That behind said, I occasionally enjoy a magical fairy tale retelling. Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is a Snow White retelling with an Asian cast and setting. As it is the second book and a companion novel to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, I wasn’t sure what to expect. 

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix takes place 15 years after the events of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. The heroine this time is Jade, who is the true heir to the Feng Lu. As a protagonist, I found Jade to be likeable and it was not at all difficult to root for her and her comrades. I also liked that despite being the heroine of the book, the individuals that chose to accompany Jade’s on her journey were also fleshed out with their own motivations and backstories. However, as a result of this I also felt that we barely scratched the surface of who Jade truly was as there was not much time spent with her. Moreover, I also would have liked to have seen more of Jade and her comrades working together and not having them be separated. 

On the other hand, what I loved about Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix was how the story was set in the world of Chinese mythology. Dao’s prose is exquisite and her descriptions of the setting and the various magical items such as the cloak gifted to Jade were incredibly lush, that I felt like I was actually transported into the world of the book. Furthermore, I appreciated how the third person omniscient narration of the book gave the story a Chinese folklore kind of feel. What I wasn’t too fond of was how the ending felt a bit rushed, the final battle happened so quickly and in such an intense manner that it gave me whiplash reading those scenes.

If you love the diverse representation in the fantasy, YA genre, then Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix may be the book for you. I went into it without reading Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and was still able to enjoy the book. A heartwarming story about the strength and power of love particularly familial love, this one surprisingly lived up to most of the wonderful praise its received.

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft

Format:
ARC
Publication date:
August 28th 2018
Publisher:
Harlequin Teen
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
Short story anthologies are always a mixed bag. However, Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft piqued my interest as it features stories about witches by several of my favourite YA authours. And while I’m not much of a fantasy, supernatural reader I thought this anthology would be a marvelous way to ease myself back into the genre. 

Altogether, Toil & Trouble features various diverse and intriguing takes on what a “witch” truly is. The stories all feature strong heroines and I loved the positive representation of sisterhood and female relationships, both friendships and romantic ones. That being said, there were a few stories that truly stood out for me. The first one being, Beware of Girls with Crooked Mouths by Jessica Spotswood. I knew her from her Cahill Witch Chronicles series, and she brings it once again with this heartbreaking and emotionally powerful story, proving that stories about witches and sisters are truly her forte. Other favourites include Emery Lord’s The Gherin Girls which looks at one sister’s toxic romantic relationship and how it affects her family. I adored this one as it made me cry while also warming my heart plus it was just a wonderful story about sisters and sisterhood. And finally The Heart in Her Hands by Tess Sharpe was an incredible story as I appreciated the message of standing up for yourself and not giving up your love as a result of another person being “chosen” as your “soulmate”.

Readers coming into Toil & Trouble will appreciate the fact that the stories in this collection feature not only the stories and voices from various cultures but also includes a decent amount of positive LBTGQ+ representation. While not my favourite anthology, I would recommend Toil & Trouble as a perfect fall read to those looking for a collection of feminist, empowering and witchy stories.

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | Bonjour Girl by Isabelle Laflèche

Authour:
Isabelle Laflèche
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
August 25th 2018
Publisher:
Dundurn
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
Having previously read a few of Isabelle Laflèche’s books from her J’adore series I was curious to see how she approaches her first YA novel. I’ll admit I had a few reservations going into Bonjour Girl as the protagonist is half Chinese, however I felt that this aspect of Clementine’s background was barely touched upon as she truly is a European teenager having grown up in France with a European mother.

One of the unique aspects of Bonjour Girl was how Clementine was an international student attending New York’s Parsons School of Design, it’s refreshing as a reader living in North America to read a book from the perspective of an international student who isn’t just another American studying abroad in Europe or Asia. Clementine’s story is an entertaining one, especially when it comes to her colourful family history. In addition, I loved how passionate she was about her goal to become a fashion influencer which is obvious when she mentions real fashion bloggers and blogs like Garance Doré.

As with the majority of novels featuring young protagonists, there is adventure as well as drama in this case the drama revolves around cyber bullying and intellectual fashion property theft. There is of course, romance as well, however I wasn’t the biggest fan of the relationship between Clementine and Jonathan. The “romance” was seriously undeveloped and lacked any chemistry that would’ve made it believable or even charming. Instead the romantic plot in this book was truly unnecessary to Clementine’s story as the book would have been a better read in my opinion if the focus was more on Clementine’s school life and her friends.

Bonjour Girl seems like it’s just the beginning of Clementine, and with the hints given at the end of this book I wouldn’t say no to reading more of Clementine’s journey. After all, while she may be an incredibly privileged teenager living an essentially charmed life, her story is one with its amusing and interesting moments and a decent cast of side characters.

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | Mariam Sharma Hits the Road by Sheba Karim

Authour:
Sheba Karim
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
June 5, 2018
Publisher:
HarperTeen
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
With summer around the corner, this book had me at friendship and a road trip! I didn’t even care where the characters were headed (New Orléans) but I knew this was the one title I NEEDED to have from the Frenzy Presents preview. Fortunately, through trades, I was able to obtain an ARC of it and it did not disappoint!

Mariam Sharma Hits the Road follows Mariam and her two best friends, Umar, and Ghaz as they embark on a cross-country road trip to New Orléans. Part adventure, part escape and part journey of self-discovery, Mariam Sharma Hits the Road is definitely a character-driven as the three friends have their own personal issues to sort out. Nevertheless, there are several amusing and entertaining moments during their trip and I appreciated that the characters acknowledge their privilege and the fact that negative stereotyping can come from either side.

Speaking of stereotypes, I love the relationship Mariam has with her mother and how their relationship subverts what the stereotypical Desi mother-daughter relationship and her relationship with her brother mirrors the one that I have with my brother. That being said, the families of the three are merely background characters in this book. I love the bond the three friends have with each other, cheering one another on and steeping in as “family” where their parents and even siblings may have failed them. This is all the more heartwarming as the three of them at first glance seem like a peculiar group of friends and became friends by virtue of the fact that they all felt ostracized by their own religion and culture.

For those of you who are looking for another YA novel featuring college-age teens, Mariam Sharma Hits the Road is a great read. I also heard a few people say that Mariam Sharma Hits the Road is “the” road trip novel you need to read this summer and I agree. This book is a true coming of age novel for Mariam and her two friends that manages to touch on serious issues among them being faith, race, cultural growing pains, and relationships while keeping the story fairly light-hearted. In addition, Mariam Sharma Hits the Road avoids veering into the overly dramatic storytelling territory by staying true to how the characters’ journey would unfold in life. In the end, while all three come away with new a new outlook and new insights, none of their stories are resolved neatly. Instead, just like in life, there is still so much more to all their stories even after the book is done.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

5 YA Books I’m Looking Forward to this Fall

I’ve always said, as a book blogger its easy to forget what season we’re actually in because many of us are always reading ahead. For instance, over the last month or so I’ve had the pleasure of attending to bookish events that showcased some of the publisher’s upcoming fall titles. And while summer hasn’t officially begun, it can’t hurt to get a head start on creating your fall reading list. With that being said, here are a few YA titles that will be coming out in the fall season.


Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adis Khorram (August 28th, 2018)
I’ve heard great things about this one from many people. Darius is a half Persian, half White American teenaged boy who is forced to go back to Iran with his family due to the declining health of his maternal grandparents which causes him to feel even more out of place than normal. The main character self-identifies as a geek, so expect lots of references from shows like Star Trek. There’s also mental health representation as both Darius and his father suffer from depression and both deal with it in very different ways. Darius the Great is Not I Okay seems primed to be a heartwarming novel and I love that it is set in Iran as the authour is from there and we don’t often get YA contemporary novels set in the Middle East.

The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees by Don Brown (September 18, 2018) 

As a child of immigrants, one who was a refugee as well as someone who works in a field where we deal with a lot of marginalized individuals I’m always curious about the stories of those in other countries. The Unwanted Stories of Syrian Refugees is a timely read and given that it’s a graphic novel, this one is also good for just about anyone who wants to learn more about the conflict in the Middle East and the Syrian refugees. Featuring actual refugee stories, this one is an important read on a tough subject matter.

Carols and Chaos by Cindy Anstey (October 9, 2018)

So I haven’t read the Suitors and Sabotage books yet, however, it’s not mandatory to do so in order to enjoy Carols and Chaos. I love a good winter holiday read and this one with its side of mystery and danger in addition to romance sounds intriguing, to say the least. Plus I love a good historical setting and it’s always enjoyable to get a story from the perspective of the house staff rather than just the wealthy. And I’m always game for books that are recommended for Jane Austen fans.

Kingdom of The Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao (November 6th, 2018)

So I didn’t realize that Julie C. Dao was a Vietnamese writer until recently, which only adds to my excitement for this book. A companion novel to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, which I haven’t read yet Kingdom of The Blazing Phoenix is a retelling of Snow White that takes place years after the events of Forest of a Thousand LanternsNow normally I not much of a fantasy reader, but I’m all for supporting Asian voices plus I’ve heard great things about this one so I’m stoked to read and review this one for my blog. Also look at that amazing cover! Stay tuned for a review of this title on the blog in November.

Dear Heartbreak: YA Authors and Teens on the Dark Side of Love by Heather Demetrios (December 18, 2018)

Dear Heartbreak isn’t your typical YA anthology. Bringing together some of the biggest names in YA, this book is a series of letters from real teens writing to their favourite authours who in turn reply to them. Each of the authours has chosen a letter that hits close to home with them, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what some of my favourite authours like Gayle Forman, and Sandhya Menon have to say on things like break-ups, cheating, betrayal, and loneliness.

What are some of your guys’ most anticipated titles for this Fall?