Not my fave, but Asian rep so… | Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Descendant of the CranePrincess Hesina knows her father was murdered, now she just needs to convince everyone else of that fact. She embarks on a journey to not only prove that he was murdered, but to also find his murderer. As she does, she will learn things about her country, her family, her friends, and herself. Hesina’s world is turned completely upside down as she grapples with these revelations and she’ll need to decide what kind of ruler she wants to be.

TL;DR – There were things that I liked about this book, but I don’t feel super invested in the story or the characters. Asian rep was cool though.

Purchase: Hardcover | eBook

This book started off really slow for me and that proved to be just the beginning of my issues with the plot. Several “shocking” plot points ended up being pretty obvious to me and others came out of left field and made little to no sense. The Sooth premise was interesting, but again, was mildly confusing. I didn’t really understand how their powers worked. I thought I understood the thing with their blood, but then halfway through the book I got confused. The author does try to explain certain things but it still doesn’t really make sense? And then the ending is just so…convoluted. I’m sure more things will be explained in the next book, but I don’t know that I’ll get to it.

The characters were fine. I didn’t love Hesina, but I did appreciate some small things about her. I liked that the author addressed periods as a thing that happens to women. I also liked that Hesina was a competent ruler. Even though she acquired the throne unexpectedly, she’d been adequately prepared for the role and knew how to do things like administrative paperwork, taxes, etc. I didn’t love Hesina’s relationship with her brother, Sanjing. I thought it was pretty obvious that he was just looking out for her and she pushed back at him to the extreme. It also doesn’t totally make sense to me how a 16-year-old boy could be trusted to lead the entire military? But, okay. Akira was fine but I wish his character had been explored more. He kind of just popped in at convenient times. Caiyan was pretty bland for most of the book and then all of the sudden got really interesting at the end. With that being said, since he wasn’t interesting for 99% of the book, I don’t feel any motivation to continue with his character arc in the next book.

Overall, I appreciated the Asian rep–always a great thing–but I didn’t LOVE this book. I thought the story was just kind of confusing and the characters weren’t great. There were some subtle things that I did appreciate, but I’m not really invested and probably won’t continue the series.

Overall Rating: 3.5
Language: Mild
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild

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12 Best Book Deals for 7/11/19: A Princess in Theory, After You, Robin, and more

As of this posting, all of these deals are active, but I don’t know for how long!
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After You by Jojo Moyes

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1776 by David McCullough

Robin by Dave Itzkoff


Recommended from this post:

17 Best Book Deals for 6/27/19: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Swing Time, The Eyre Affair, and more

As of this posting, all of these deals are active, but I don’t know for how long!
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The Door in the Hedge: And Other Stories by Robin McKinley

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Isaac’s Storm: A Man, A Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson

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We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

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8 Buzz Books for Fall/Winter 2019 [Netgalley Buzz Books]

Buzz Books Fall Winter 2019

NetGalley puts out this great compilation every season of some of the hot new Young Adult books that will be coming out. Here are my thoughts on the 8 books featured.

Legacy and the QueenLegacy and the Queen by Annie Matthew, created by Kobe Bryant (9/3)

GAME. SET. MAGIC.

Game – Tennis means life and death for the residents of the magical kingdom of Nova, and for twelve-year-old Legacy, it’s the only thing getting her through the long days taking care of the other kids at the orphanage. That’s all about to change when she hears about Silla’s tournament.

Set – Silla, the ruler of Nova, hosts an annual tournament for the less fortunate of her citizens to come and prove themselves and win entrance to the Academy, where they can train to compete at nationals. The prize is Silla’s favor and enough cash to keep open the orphanage, and Legacy has her heart set on both. 

Magic – What Legacy has yet to know is that the other players have something besides better skills and more money than she does. In Nova, tennis can unlock magic. Magic that Silla used to save the kingdom long ago and magic that her competitors have been training in for months already. 

Now, with the world turned against her and the orphanage at stake, Legacy has to learn to use her passion for the game to rise above those around her and shine.

Cover: While I like the cover, it doesn’t make me want to read it.  I quite like the concept though, just not a big tennis person. 6/10

Premise:  I like magical competitions as much as the next girl, but I’m not into a magic/tennis tournament hybrid. WHO ASKED FOR THIS. And, I’m sorry, but I just have a hard time taking this seriously when Kobe Bryant isn’t even listed as an author–they’re not even pretending that he made much of a contribution here. He was probably just like, “What if we have a tennis tournament but…it’s MAGIC.” 2/10

Excerpt: Immediate info-dumping and the tennis aspect sits as weird as I’d feared. 2/10

TBR?: No

Preorder

The Last True Poets of the SeaThe Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake (10/1)

The Larkin family isn’t just lucky—they persevere. At least that’s what Violet and her younger brother, Sam, were always told. When the Lyric sank off the coast of Maine, their great-great-great-grandmother didn’t drown like the rest of the passengers. No, Fidelia swam to shore, fell in love, and founded Lyric, Maine, the town Violet and Sam returned to every summer.

But wrecks seem to run in the family: Tall, funny, musical Violet can’t stop partying with the wrong people. And, one beautiful summer day, brilliant, sensitive Sam attempts to take his own life.

Shipped back to Lyric while Sam is in treatment, Violet is haunted by her family’s missing piece-the lost shipwreck she and Sam dreamed of discovering when they were children. Desperate to make amends, Violet embarks on a wildly ambitious mission: locate the Lyric, lain hidden in a watery grave for over a century.

She finds a fellow wreck hunter in Liv Stone, an amateur local historian whose sparkling intelligence and guarded gray eyes make Violet ache in an exhilarating new way. Whether or not they find the Lyric, the journey Violet takes-and the bridges she builds along the way-may be the start of something like survival.

Cover: Like…I like it, but I’m getting serious The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe vibes. I literally thought this was a sequel until I saw that it was by a different author. 7/10

Premise: I am definitely intrigued by the premise. I like books with family legacies/curses and I also like the shipwreck hunting aspect of it. I hope that there are some flashbacks to Fidelia as well. 7/10

Excerpt: I like the quick back and forth between Violet and her uncle. It keeps the story moving, fills the reader in on some information, and doesn’t bog the writing down. I’m having a hard time deciding, though, whether Violet is going to be an enjoyable level of snarky, or if it’ll end up being too much. 7/10

TBR?: Yes.

Preorder

CoralCoral by Sara Ella (11/12)

Coral has always been different, standing out from her mermaid sisters in a society where blending in is key. Worse yet, she fears she has been afflicted with the dreaded Disease, said to be carried by humans—emotions. Can she face the darkness long enough to surface in the light?

Above the sea, Brooke has nothing left to give. Depression and anxiety have left her feeling isolated. Forgotten. The only thing she can rely on is the numbness she finds within the cool and comforting ocean waves. If only she weren’t stuck at Fathoms—a new group therapy home that promises a second chance at life. But what’s the point of living if her soul is destined to bleed?

Merrick may be San Francisco’s golden boy, but he wants nothing more than to escape his controlling father. When his younger sister’s suicide attempt sends Merrick to his breaking point, escape becomes the only option. If he can find their mom, everything will be made right again—right?

When their worlds collide, all three will do whatever it takes to survive, and Coral might even catch a prince in the process. But what—and who—must they leave behind for life to finally begin?

Cover: The cover intrigues me and I really like the color contrast between the artwork and the title. I’m always down for a good fairytale retelling but I feel like there have been some duds lately. 7/10

Premise: Meh. I read one book where emotions were considered a disease and that was enough for me. I’m not really interested in revisiting that concept. On the other hand, it sounds like there could be some good mental health rep in here, so that’s something. 3/10

Excerpt: It’s a little too lyrical…is that the right word? The writing feels like it’s trying too hard to be beautiful and the story gets lost in it. 3/10

TBR?: No.

Preorder

I'm Not Dying With You TonightI’m Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones & Gilly Segal (10/1)

Lena and Campbell aren’t friends.

Lena has her killer style, her awesome boyfriend, and a plan. She knows she’s going to make it big. Campbell, on the other hand, is just trying to keep her head down and get through the year at her new school.

When both girls attend the Friday-night football game, what neither expects is for everything to descend into sudden mass chaos. Chaos born from violence and hate. Chaos that unexpectedly throws them together.

They aren’t friends. They hardly understand the other’s point of view. But none of that matters when the city is up in flames, and they only have each other to rely on if they’re going to survive the night.

Cover: This cover is pretty good, but doesn’t necessarily grab me. 5/10

Premise: This book sounds like it’s probably pretty intense. The summary gives some information, but I’m still not 100% what this book is going to be about. 6/10

Excerpt: I like when two authors write for different POVs. It makes the characters authentically sound like different people because it’s actually written by different people. The writing is nothing special, but it is extremely readable. I’d want to see what people say about this one. 6/10

TBR?: Maybe.

Preorder

Dear Haiti, Love AlaineDear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite (9/3)

You might ask the obvious question: What do I, a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything?

Actually, a lot.

Thanks to “the incident” (don’t ask), I’m spending the next two months doing what my school is calling a “spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. I’m toiling away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle at her new nonprofit. And my lean-in queen of a mother is even here to make sure I do things right. Or she might just be lying low to dodge the media sharks after a much more public incident of her own…and to hide a rather devastating secret.

All things considered, there are some pretty nice perks…like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with my mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. I’m even exploring my family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse.

You know, typical drama. But it’s nothing I can’t handle.

Cover: This cover is great–I really like it. The title font is awesome and I love all the red. 8/10

Premise: This sounds so fun! And Haiti isn’t a country I know a lot about. I really like the epistolary format as well and I get the sense there could be a really great mother/daughter dynamic in this one? 8/10

Excerpt: I like the writing even if it doesn’t read like I would expect an epistolary novel to. It reads more like a normal book, so I’m not sure the epistolary format is actually adding anything to it yet. 8/10

TBR?: Yes.

Preorder

Harvey Comes HomeHarvey Comes Home by Colleen Nelson (9/19)

A dog’s world is a world of scents, of adventure. When a runaway West Highland Terrier named Harvey wanders out of his old life guided only by his nose and his heart, lives begin to converge.

Austin, a young volunteer at Brayside retirement home, quickly finds that the audacious Harvey inspires Mr. Pickering, a bitter resident coping with memory loss, to tell stories of his childhood. Moved by the elderly man’s Dust Bowl recollections of grinding poverty and the perseverance of his friends and family, Austin begins to trade his preconceived notions for empathy. But is it enough to give him the resolve to track down Harvey’s original owner?

Cover: Beyond the puppy, this cover really holds zero appeal for me. 2 points for the good doge. 2/10

Premise: I don’t have anything against reading middle grade, but I personally don’t read a lot. The premise makes this sound like a pretty young book, so I probably wouldn’t pick it up. 2/10

Excerpt: I do like that part of the book is written more from the dog’s perspective (though still in 3rd person). 3/10

TBR?: No.

Preorder

Scars Like WingsScars Like Wings by Erin Stewart (10/1)

Ava Lee has lost everything there is to lose: Her parents. Her best friend. Her home. Even her face. She doesn’t need a mirror to know what she looks like–she can see her reflection in the eyes of everyone around her. 

A year after the fire that destroyed her world, her aunt and uncle have decided she should go back to high school. Be “normal” again. Whatever that is. Ava knows better. There is no normal for someone like her. And forget making friends–no one wants to be seen with the Burned Girl, now or ever. 

But when Ava meets a fellow survivor named Piper, she begins to feel like maybe she doesn’t have to face the nightmare alone. Sarcastic and blunt, Piper isn’t afraid to push Ava out of her comfort zone. Piper introduces Ava to Asad, a boy who loves theater just as much as she does, and slowly, Ava tries to create a life again. Yet Piper is fighting her own battle, and soon Ava must decide if she’s going to fade back into her scars . . . or let the people by her side help her fly.

Cover: Another cover that reminds me of another book. This time I’m getting serious Death Prefers Blondes vibes. I still like it though, the contrasting colors are fun. 7/10

Premise: It sounds interesting since I’ve never read a book featuring a burn victim before. I’m just not sure if I’ll like it if the main character is too angry. It makes me tired when characters are SUPER angry at the world. 5/10

Excerpt: I find the writing to be super compelling and I like the character’s mixture of snark with her other emotions. I also think (and hope) that her relationship with her aunt will prove to be really interesting. 8/10

TBR?: Yes.

Preorder

Home GirlHome Girl by Alex Wheatle (9/3)

New from the winner of the Guardian Children’s Book Award: Home Girl is the story of Naomi, a teenage girl growing up fast in the care system. It is a wholly modern story which sheds a much needed light on what can be an unsettling life – and the consequences that can follow when children are treated like pawns on a family chessboard.

Cover: I’m not as much a fan of photos for covers compared to illustrations. Also, something about this cover has a low-budget, self-published feel to it. 0/10

Premise: Seems like it could be a really important story, but we’re really not given much to go off of. Just from this premise, I probably wouldn’t pick it up. 3/10

Excerpt: The flow is fast-paced with a lot of British slang, some of which I didn’t really understand. I can see the appeal, but I’ll probably pass on it. 4/10

TBR?: No.

Preorder

 

Let me know in the comments what you’ve heard about these books and which ones you’ll be adding to your TBR!

March Mini-Review Madness

Did anyone else do a bracket for March Madness this year? My husband’s family is super into sports so we do a family competition every year. This year, I really didn’t put much thought into it and ended up barely beating my nephew (who is 4). I know games are still being played, but at this point I don’t have any of the top 4 so…I’m out. But on to the reviews!

mini-reviews

A Darker Shade of MagicA Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

I’d been meaning to read this series for forever and I’m so glad that I finally picked it up! I love the covers and am looking forward to one day having the whole series on my shelf. I thought the initial world explanation all happened really smoothly. Schwab also did a great job of making Kell (and Lila) super likable right from the start. She’s obviously put a ton of thought into this world with the magic system and languages. I appreciate that she doesn’t shy away from hard decisions (i.e. killing characters, no spoilers). Where I was most amazed, though, was how she managed to create a sympathetic character out of Holland (at least, for me). I get the sense that he isn’t as evil as he portrays himself. Don’t get me wrong, he did some truly evil things in this book, but I still sympathize with him for some reason? And she doesn’t even tell us that much about him! That’s what’s truly amazing. 4.5/5

eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

VoicesVoices by David Elliott [ARC]

I’ll premise this review by saying I know almost nothing about Joan of Arc. I wasn’t going to pick up this book, but then I read an excerpt and found it really compelling. I’ll also say real quick that I know pretty much nothing about poetry and what makes good poetry. So take my comments with a grain of salt, I guess. With that being said, I thought the poems were interesting and beautiful at times. I really liked the perspectives from the different objects and I found the fire to be especially impactful for some reason (though I do feel like the fire’s last poem was missing, but maybe that was just because I had an ARC?). I also really liked the short sections that were quotes from her actual trial. In the end, I used to know nothing about Joan of Arc, and now I feel like I know a little bit about her. 4/5

Note: An ARC of this book was provided to the library where I work.

eBook | Hardcover

The Girl Who Drank the MoonThe Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Trigger warning: Intended infanticide

Ever since having a baby myself, I’ve found mentions of babies dying to be really hard. So the beginning of this book was difficult for me. But then we get into it and Xan is amazing and I love her for saving all the babies. I really enjoyed all of the (good) characters in this book and the found family aspect was really fun to see. Luna, in particular, was a great character though I wish we’d gotten to know her and her personality a little bit better. I thought the ending was fantastic and tender and so much more than I had even realized I wanted it to be. The only thing about this book is that I question its middle grade-ness. I feel like if I was middle grade age, so much of this book would just go straight over my head. Only as an adult do I feel like I can even scratch the surface of what this book is about. 5/5

eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

The Other EinsteinThe Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

This book was not my cup of tea. First of all, it’s never clear throughout the whole book which parts are completely fictionalized and which parts are true or partially true. I think I needed an author’s note in the beginning or something because I felt pretty confused throughout most of the book. I didn’t like any of the characters and found most relationships between characters to be stifling. I felt like Mileva was an extremely weak character and I just wanted her to stand up for herself. I also came out of this book completely hating Einstein which is kind of a weird feeling… 2.5/5

7 best YA couples of all time (this is completely subjective)

My little brother’s getting married today! Obviously, I’m not writing this on his wedding day, though. Like a good blogger, I have pre-scheduled content for this weekend including yesterday’s review of Bloodwitch. But I’m getting away from myself. In honor of my baby brother’s wedding day, I wanted to post my top 7 (he was born on the 7th) YA couples of all time! (In my opinion). Happy wedding day, B! (He doesn’t read this blog, but whatever).

Best YA Couples

1) Amy and Roger from Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

This is such an ultimate road trip book and I love it! Roger is super respectful of Amy the entire trip and when they finally get together it’s so satisfying. I love all the different playlists throughout and it’s so fun to watch them get to know each other and fall in love.

eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

2) August and Kate from the Monsters of Verity duology by Victoria Schwab

These two never really get together, but I still love them as a couple. I feel like they’re really well-suited for each other–I have a hard time imagining anyone else being able to understand either of them. They just seem really perfect.

eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

3) Blue and Gansey from The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

Blue and Gansey spend so much time in this series not actually together and while it can be frustrating at times, it also makes their inevitable relationship that much more satisfying. We know they’re fated to be with each other right from the beginning and I loved watching their relationship grow over the four books.

eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

4) Dario and Khalila from The Great Library series by Rachel Caine

These two! What a pair! Dario is so ridiculous, but he shows an unexpected tender side whenever Khalila is involved. And Khalila, for her part, doesn’t put up with any of Dario’s crap. She loves him, but she’s not going to let him get away with ANYTHING.

eBook | Paperback

5) Eril-Fane and Azareen from the Strange the Dreamer duology by Laini Taylor

I almost chose Lazlo and Sarai from this book, but then I remembered Eril-Fane and Azareen. While Lazlo and Sarai have a sweet new love, Eril-Fane and Azareen have a deep and tragic love. Reading about their relationship throughout the two books is so heartbreaking. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I love the way this mature relationship is portrayed in these books.

eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

6) Cress and Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

One of my OTPs. These guys are definitely perfect for each other. They compliment each other so nicely and I love how tender Thorne is with Cress. She needs someone who will be gentle with her, but also acknowledge all the ways in which she is strong–Thorne is able to do that perfectly.

eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

7) Remy and Dexter from This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

You knew there was going to be a Sarah Dessen couple on here, right?!? I wanted to pick Macy and Wes so bad, but in the end I had to go with Remy and Dexter. They are the ultimate example of opposites attracting. I love the way Dexter brings out the less serious side of Remy while Remy does a good job of being an anchor to the relationship.

eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

Any of your guys’ favorite couples make it on my list? Anyone you think I missed?

Provo Library’s Best Books of 2018 | YA Non-Fiction, Fiction, & Graphic Novels

Every year my local library puts on a “Best Books of…” event and I love it! A lot of the books I’ve already heard of, but I always come away with new books on my TBR! Even though I do work here, I wasn’t part of putting on the event or choosing the books–I was able to just attend as a patron, so that was super fun as well. I made my book club come with me too, so hopefully some of these books will make it into our discussions! Here’s a link for anyone who missed my post on the Adult non-fiction and fiction list.

Provo Library Best Books YA

Bolded books are ones that are on my TBR. Italics are ones I’ve read.

Non-Fiction
Fiction
Comics & Graphic Novels
Have you read any of these? What young adult books would you add to the list?

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Provo Library Best Books YA