Book Recommendations, Book Reviews

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere

I don’t have a plan, I’m afraid, but then, no one really does, no matter what they say.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is an adult literary novel that follows the Richardson family and their new tenants, the Warren family. The kids become fast friends, but the mothers are completely different and soon but heads.

The story of the novel is so simply that I don’t know how to really say the plot without spoilers, but I feel like it doesn’t matter. The magic of this novel is not about the plot, but with the characters. Each one is devastatingly complex and real. They move the story forward with their every breath, and I feel like at some point I loved and hated every one of them.

The writing is so beautiful. I immediately fell into the world, and I wanted to stay there, even after the novel ended. Usually I don’t like when authors jump from POV to POV in the same chapter, but Ng made it work. It definitely wouldn’t be the same story if she had written it any differently.

Representation: Chinese rep. F/F relationship.

Trigger Warnings: Miscarriages. Abortion. Racism.

I gave this book five star. I think I will definitely pick up Everything I Never Told You, Ng’s debut, soon because I can see her becoming a favorite author of mine.

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews

A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

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She’d protected this world, but would anyone protect her?

A Blade So Black L.L. McKinney is typically described as Buffy meets Alice in Wonderland. This Young Adult trilogy follows Alice, a Black, queer teenager, as she becomes a protector of Wonderland. When her mentor is poisoned, Alice has to go on a dangerous journey while dealing with her overprotective mother.

In between the first three chapters there are two big time jumps that caused me to have a bit of trouble getting into the story. I wondered why there wasn’t a simple training montage or even flashbacks if the author didn’t want to write through that amount of time However, as I got into the story it didn’t matter at all. The word building probably was better for it in all honesty.

Alice is a wonderful main character. She’s very passionate about everything in her life. She loves her mom, her friends, cosplay, fighting Nightmares (the monsters from Wonderland), has so many crushes, and grieves deeply from losing her dad. She’s emotional but brave, and is a good fighter.

I loved the world of Wonderland. It’s so magical. The descriptions were everything. I also like the dark side to it with having Nightmares that grow out human’s fear. All of the Alice in Wonderland references were great, and made me very happy every time they were included.

Alice’s mom was great. As I’ve said she is very protective and strict, and added a great element to the novel with Alice needing to sneak around her. Even though I know she would be 110% against it, I find myself wanting the mom is find out about Alice’s side job in the next book.

Representation: Alice is Black and the book is ownvoices for that. She is also queer. There is an f/f side relationship. The people of Wonderland aren’t human, but the whole land is influenced by the human world. So Maddi is described to look Latina, and the Princess is Indian, but not really.

Trigger Warnings: Loss of a parent, violence, and mentions of police brutality.

I am looking forward to reading the second book of this series. The ending was unreal, and I feel so bad for the people who had to wait between releases.

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Phaethon by Rachel Sharp

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The more people thought they knew everything, the less open they were to new explanations.

Phaethon by Rachel Sharp is an adult urban fantasy following established couple Jack and Rosie as they get the new phone on the market and subsequently discover that fairies are real and that there is a plot to basically end the world.

Phaethon’s blending of technology and the modern world with fairy mythology was ingenious, and something I haven’t seen in a story that includes fairies. It was seamlessly done and gave fairies a fresh feel to it.

I liked Jack’s and Rosie’s dynamic as well. I don’t often see an established relationship in books, and I liked that it wasn’t a source of drama. They were a solid team, and it was them and against the world. They were funny and cute, and I really enjoyed reading them.

The rep in this book is iffy. Not that it is bad, though I wouldn’t know if it was. But basically, Sharp doesn’t specify the rep. I got the feeling that Rosie is Latinx, and Jack is transgender, but it was never outright stated. I looked through reviews, and I think I saw one person mention it and that is all. I do think it portrayed poverty well though, and that was nice to read as I don’t think it’s talked about as much because its simply easier to make characters have money.

Nonetheless, I really liked this story a lot. I didn’t want to stop reading, and I laughed multiple times. I think this is the third book in a row that I plan on looking into the author’s other works because the book, and their writing, is just that good.

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews

Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope

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The only crime she’d ever commited thus far was being born.

Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope is listed on Goodreads as Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult so it seems a little confused. My copy I got from the library was shelved in the Adult section. I guess it’s because Jasminda, the main character, is 19 that confuses people. I don’t know. But it is a fantasy series that so far has two books and two novellas out, with two more books, at least, on the way.

So in this novel there is basically two races: Elsiran and Lagrimari. Basically Elsirans are white and don’t have magic and Lagrimari and Black and supposed to have magic. Their separate kingdoms are kept apart by a magic Mantle that sometimes cracks and crumbles. Then people slip through and there is war until the Mantle is sealed again.

Jasminda’s mom was Elsiran and her dad, Lagrimari, which is basically unheard of. And since she lives in Elsira, but looks Lagrimari and has magic as well, she has a very tough life. She just wants to live peacefully on the farm her father built, but with the government suddenly demanding back taxes that she can’t afford, she might lose her last connection to her family.

Until, she saves Jack, a handsome Elsiran soldier that stumbles upon her path. He’s on a mission to save the kingdom from an impending war, and Jasminda finds herself wrapped up in it.

Trigger Warnings: Racism, violence, attempted rape, and explicit sex scenes.

I love Jasminda so much. She is my favorite kind of female protagonist. Brave and smart, she fights and sticks up for herself and also solves the mysteries presented instead of not understanding even if it’s obvious. But she isn’t one dimensional. She cries when she is hurt, and is insecure, and feels guilty over her magic not being strong enough.

The romance is very sweet and lovely. It falls under the forbidden romance trope so kind of angsty too, but it doesn’t stop the book. I hate when characters spend pages upon pages mooning over each over even if the world is falling apart, but this doesn’t happen here.

Not only is this a book about Black characters written by a Black person, but there is also queer characters as well.

Normally, if someone says a book has a lot of political intrigue or whatever, I tend to shy away from it. I never thought it was something I liked, but I liked it in this book. I don’t know if that means I do like it or if this book is an exception. It’s something I will have to look into.

The world is immaculately created. I loved the little excerpts at the beginning of each chapter, and the history that always effected the main plot. The magic was simple but not everything needs to be complicated, you know.

Anyway, I gave this book five stars, and I’m very frustrated my library doesn’t have the novellas because I would read it right now if I could. I kind of feel like I didn’t do this book the justice it deserves, but it is hard to find the words when all I want to say is go read this book.

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews

Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

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They said I was one thing. But I have changed my mind.

Robert Jackson Bennett might be a new favorite author of mine and that’s something I never say after reading one novel. But Foundryside was that good. It’s an adult high fantasy with steampunk vibes that involves ancient magic, humor, and amazing characters.

It follows former slave and current thief Sancia as she takes the highest paying and most dangerous job of her life. And this job completely changes not only her life, but everyone’s in this world. She teams up with the most unlikely people (including a talking key), and it is non stop action.

The world building is immaculate. The magic in this world is called scriving which is sigils embedded into whatever object (wheels, wood, weapons etc.). They basically convince they are something or should be doing something they aren’t. Like wood is steel so buildings are cheaper or wheels are moving so no need for horses to pull the carriages. This plays such a big role in the world (reference the talking key again), and there is a detailed history that plays a very important part of the novel.

The only problem with the world building, this is why I knocked off a star, is because of this magic system being so detailed and important the characters kept talking about it. And then things would be revealed that was completely confuse them because that isn’t how the magic is supposed to work. It would be a very big deal for the characters, but I felt nothing because I’m just learning about the magic as a whole. So I felt like I wasn’t connecting during these scenes. Does that make sense? I hope so because I don’t know how else to explain how I felt.

But the characters were amazing. I loved all of them. They were all multifaceted, and I miss them already. There is good rep as well with a gay male character and a female/female romance. I did try to find a review commenting on how the slavery was dealt with, but I couldn’t. I felt like it was dealt with well because Sancia doesn’t simply brush off her past. I would tentatively say she has some PTSD, but keep in mind I am white and don’t have PTSD so I could be completely off base.

This is the first book in a trilogy that I am definitely going to continue. Trigger Warnings though for graphic violence, a lot of blood, and death.

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

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I don’t think you have to do something so big to be brave. And it’s the little things that are harder anyway.

Morgan Matson is generally considered a queen with writing summer YA reads, and Since You’ve Been Gone is a perfect example of why. This contemporary romance follows sixteen year old Emily after her best friend disappears only leaving behind a list of things to do. Lost, she decides to do everything in hopes it will bring her answers. Along the way, she makes more friends, a love interest, and begins to find herself and her confidence.

You know how people usually say there is the extrovert friend and the introvert friend? Well, Emily is the introvert friend to an extreme degree. She rarely does any talking, exploring, dating, and really anything on her own. Without meaning to, her friendship with Sloane had turned slightly toxic, and Sloane disappearing is quite possibly the best thing to happen to Emily.

I love the character arcs that take place in this book. Throughout the book Emily finds more friendships, better friendships, and I loved all the characters and personal growth that takes place.

There is a lot of tropes in this book. The list is a trope, and the coincidentally absentee parents is another. The list is usually one that I don’t like, and actively avoid but it worked for this book.

Overall, I found this to be a fun, lighthearted book that’s perfect to get you into a summer mood. I also heard these characters might pop up for a second in her book The Unexpected Everything so I know I will need to pick that up soon.

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

New Kid by Jerry Craft

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New Kid by Jerry Craft Cover
A black child drawing in a book.

New Kid by Jerry Craft is a middle grade graphic novel that follows seventh grader Jordan Banks as he enters his new private school. Not only is entering seventh grade tough, but having a new school in a completely different part of town, the rich side, while also being one of the few kids of color makes for a very tough transition. Jordan struggles between his two worlds while he simply wants to focus on his art.

This graphic novel is the first ever to win a Newbery Medal, and it is well deserved. First off, the art style is so pretty. I feel like sometimes art can get muddled, and sometimes make it harder to read but I didn’t get lost once. In this case, the art enhanced the novel. Also, Jordan’s own art was featured a lot which I thought was a nice touch. And it was different to the usual art of the comic much like a talented seventh grader would draw. It was a nice detail.

I loved Jordan’s parents, particularly his mom. She just wanted to baby him still even though he is growing up. I know seventh grade is a transition for kids, but I think it is for guardians too and I think this novel showcased that well.

I think all the characters really popped which is why I loved reading this graphic novel so much. It is so easy for side characters to fade to the background, but every character was well rounded, for better or worse.

Overall, this was a five star read for me. I think kids and teachers should read it so I hope school libraries are purchasing it. And in October Class Act is coming out. It follows Jordan’s friend, Drew, through eighth grade. I know I will be picking it up.

Five Sunflowers

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi review

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Sometimes you don’t even know how special you might be. Sometimes it takes moments of horror or happiness to, if you will, unleash that knowledge.

 

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi is the very first Riordan Presents book, and it follows Hindu mythology. Aru Shah is the twelve-year-old daughter of an absent mom who runs the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture. She’s also a big time liar. So when some of the popular kids in school call her out on a lie about a demon being in a lamp in the museum, Aru says she will prove it. To her surprise, when she touches the lamp an actual demon comes out and threatens to end the world. Apparently, Aru is a Pandava and it’s her and her new “soul sister’s” job to save the world. All the while Aru is still in her spider man pajamas. 

This is an absolute gem of a novel. So fun and heartwarming and funny and sweet. I love it as an adult, and I am certain I would have loved it when I was twelve. I remember wanting so much for protagonists like Aru at this age, and I’m glad that kids now have these characters to read.

I admit I know not a lot about about Hindu mythology, but that wasn’t a problem at all. The world is vast and rich and complex, but explained so easily and naturally. I was worried about getting the Gods confused, but I didn’t even need to check the glossary that is in the back of the book.

As always my favorite aspect was the relationships. In particular, Aru’s relationship with her mother. I loved that she wasn’t just an absent parent, and while she wasn’t along for an adventure, the fact that she could have her own fantasy novel is really cool to me. 

This is the first of four, and I’m very eager to get to the next book. A perk of not getting to the series when it first came out. Five out of five stars. Definitely a book everyone should read.

5 stars

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert Review

 

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Anyway, at some point in a woman’s life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time. After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is.

Trigger Warnings: Sexism, mentions of rape, sex

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert is an adult historical fiction set in New York City in the 1940’s. Vivian Morris flunks out of college and her uptight WASPy family sends her off to live with her eccentric Aunt Peg who owns a theater. The story follows Vivian as she experiences love, sex, and heartbreak throughout her life.

 

I can’t claim to have read many historical novels, but from what I’ve read this has got to be the most feminist, diverse one  and it really should be what some other books need to learn from. There is a f/f couple, a minor gay character, some minor POC (see not even a lot yet more than others in the same genre). It acknowledges casual sex, racism, interracial relationships, privilege and single motherhood.  It was so refreshing to read, and I appreciated it a lot. 

 

Every single character had depth and is complex. I felt as swept up in their lives as Vivian was swept up in NYC. She sews, and every time it went into her designing clothes and fabrics I loved it. She was so knowledgeable, and I loved the tiny details. I also felt like I have never read a 1940s book without it focused on the war. Because, while it was mentioned, it was not the central focus. And that ties into the fact that Vivian was an oblivious person, more interested in having fun than reading newspapers. I’m not saying that as a complaint either. I loved that Vivian was free and wild and wanted to be pretty and glamorous, and wasn’t ashamed of that. 

 

There was a lot to love in this book. And I had a great time reading it. I’ve never read Elizabeth Gilbert before, never had any interest really, but this book has changed that. I only knocked off a star because I felt like it dragged a little in a couple parts.

 

4 stars

Book Recommendations, Lists, Uncategorized

Our Favorite Books of 2019

Isis:

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Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

This book blew my mind. It was amazing. The enemies to lovers romance was so well done. The alternate universe in which the US had a female president and her son is openly bisexual made my gay heart very happy. It was my favorite read of the year.

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Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell

I loved this. Rainbow Rowell is so good at friends to lovers romance and this one didn’t disappoint. I loved the fall themes because fall is my favorite season. And I loved the rep of the pansexual/bisexual main character.

 

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My Brother’s Husband vol 2 by Gengoroh Tagame

A great ending to this beautiful manga. It was bittersweet but I really enjoyed it.

 

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The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

Such an incredible graphic novel. I loved that it was told like a fairy tale. It was so beautiful and poetic and became an instant favorite.

 

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An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

I loved this book so much. I wasn’t expecting it cause it’s about giant robots and I am not into that at all but I was very much into this book. It had a lot of great themes and awesome characters.

 

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Trail by Cheryl Strayed

This book made me cry but it was a good, healing cry. I connected a lot with Cheryl’s struggle in dealing with her mom’s death

 

Nicole:

 

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I think this was my first read of 2019, and I truly thought I was starting off the year good. This is such an emotional and funny and extremely well written. Everyone needs to read this book.

 

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An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

This book completely swept me away. I had no idea what was going on, but I was completely hooked on every word.

 

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The Lost Hero and The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

I love every book by Rick Riordan, and these books were great for making me feel better about not reading a lot this year.

 

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

This book made me cry, but it was so good I forgive it. It’s all about depression which is a hard subject for me, but its dealt with amazingly. One of the few books I’ve read that shows good therapy rep.

 

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