I Wanna Be Where You Are | Book Review

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Title: I Wanna Be Where You Are

Author: Kristina Forest

Format: Hardcover (own)

Pages: 256

Categories: Young Adult, Teen Readers, Contemporary, Romance, Family, Friendship, Coming of Age

A debut young adult rom-com about an African American ballerina who finds love on the road to an audition.

When Chloe Pierce’s mom forbids her to apply for a spot at the dance conservatory of her dreams, she devises a secret plan to drive two hundred miles to the nearest audition. But Chloe hits her first speed bump when her annoying neighbor Eli insists upon hitching a ride, threatening to tell Chloe’s mom if she leaves him and his smelly dog, Geezer, behind. So now Chloe’s chasing her ballet dreams down the east coast—two unwanted (but kinda cute) passengers in her car, butterflies in her stomach, and a really dope playlist on repeat.

Filled with roadside hijinks, heart-stirring romance, and a few broken rules, Kristina Forest’s I Wanna Be Where You Are is a YA debut perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Sandhya Menon.

  • I love the cover and the pastel aesthetics. It’s so pretty and makes me feel like it would be a good spring/summer read.
  • Chloe and Eli’s adventure was eventful although they did lie or withhold information from their parents. I thought it something that mended their friendship and then some.
  • Chloe is a talented dancer and want to realize her dream of joining a company but she’s at odds with her mother who doesn’t feel like it’s a good career choice for her. Eli is going through the same thing with his dreams of wanting to be an artist as opposed to his dad’s dream of him pursuing law just like he did. That was very relatable to me because I remember feeling lost as a teen, wanting to please my parents but knew my major wasn’t what I really wanted to do in life.
  • The romance is sweet, and this is a quick, light contemporary read with a happy ending. It covers family dynamics and pursuing your dreams, so it’s perfect for teen readers.
  • Triggers: car accident, grief, anxiety
  • Other than Eli cursing a few times using the F word, this book is fairly rated PG. Or is PG-13 with swear words? I don’t know – I’d rate it PG though haha. It’s more for teens than young adults.

I enjoyed this quick read and in my teen years, this was the kind of book I’d have devoured in one sitting. This is a solid debut and I think Kristina Forest will definitely be a name to watch for in the contemporary teen and YA romance genre.

📚 ~ Yolanda

Love Spells and Other Disasters | ARC Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: Love Spells and Other Disasters

Author: Angie Barrett

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 400

Publication Date: 2/1/21

Categories: Romance, Young Adult, Witchcraft, Friendship, Family, Contemporary

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

I didn’t know when I wrote the first love spell that it would actually make things happen. Like, actually make people fall in love with each other… 

How could I have known something like that? I mean, magic isn’t real, right? 

But here’s the thing—the spell does work and so does the next one and the next one…and suddenly I’m getting a whole lot of attention from everyone at my high school. Me, Blend-into-the-Walls, Please-Let-Me-Introvert-in-Peace Rowan Marshall. And not only that, but I’ve also caught the attention of Luca Russo, a godlike, football-playing hottie who claims he likes me just the way I am. Ummm…

But as I’m about to learn, playing around with things you don’t understand means when things go wrong—like really, very awfully wrong—you don’t know how to fix them.

  • Rowan has an interesting mom who is famous for being a parapsychologist, someone who studies the mystical and unexplainable. Ro feels like people at school thinks she is weird because of it. She has one best friend, Ethan who’s been friends with her since childhood and that pretty much consists of her social life, or lack there of…until a project at school makes her realizes she has the power to cast spells.
  • The romance is cute with a touch of heat. There are some sexy scenes but it stays PG-13 for the most part. Luca is the hot jock who is actually a nice guy. The romance comes of as insta-love but he did confess he was into her way before he talked to her. I mean, there are love spells involved so it gets complicated.
  • I did like how Rowan and her project partner, Abby, innocently start making these love spells for a project without thinking of the consequences but when it all hits the fan…the consequences are bad. Rowan does the right thing and takes responsibility. She tries her best to fix broken relationships by doing acts of kindness, which I thought was awesome.
  • I think this story had a good blend of romance, drama, and witchcraft.
  • Rowan isn’t your typical strong girl who can stand up for herself, Ethan helps her do that. Abby pushes her around when it came to doing the spells, but I guess Rowan felt guilty also for her part in ruining Abby’s science project years ago. I think Rowan is strong in her own way, not loudly, but in telling the truth and acts of kindness.
  • We don’t learn much about Rowan’s magic lineage in the story until her mom starts finally talking about her dad which is near the end of the book. It would have been nice to get some idea of how she could do the spells earlier in the book.
  • Ethan was her best friend until that spell really took a turn for the worst and he turned on her. That sucked to see since yes Ro cast the spells, but Ethan asked for the spell. I’m just glad they made up.
  • I read an arc copy so there were some errors near the end of the book which probably will be cleaned up by publication.

I enjoyed reading this witchy romance story because it was a nice blend of sweetness and drama. I liked seeing Rowan blossom as she starts dating Luca and also it was good to see her tackle the consequences of the love spells going bad by helping the ones she hurt. Even though Rowan and Luca seems like an insta-love kind of deal, he actually was into her way before the spells and I loved their relationship. We get a happy ending and it gave me all the feels in the end, that’s all I wanted, so goal accomplished.

♡ ~ Yolanda

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter | Book Review

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

Author: Erika L. Sanchez

Format: paperback (own)

Pages: 368

Categories: Young Adult, Family, Friendship, Grief, Mental Health, Identity, Coming of Age, Sexual Situations

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian meets Jane the Virgin in this poignant but often laugh-out-loud funny contemporary YA about losing a sister and finding yourself amid the pressures, expectations, and stereotypes of growing up in a Mexican American home. 

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.

But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend, Lorena, and her first love (first everything), Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?

  • Julia is a Mexican American teen who is feeling trapped by grief and her family with their strict rules. I could relate to Julia even though I am not Mexican American, my parents are immigrants, so I remember not understanding some of their rules even silly ones like not shaving your legs. I couldn’t understand my parents, just like how Julia couldn’t understand hers. Her story is very relatable to me.
  • Julia is so judgmental until near the end when she becomes so overwhelmed with her thoughts and feelings about Olga’s death, her mom, herself…that I realized she needed help. I thought it was powerful that we saw her coasting through life, angrily and acting out (but nothing too crazy), thinking she’s going to be okay, she just needs to let time heal woulds and all that and then the situation becomes dangerous. This is very relatable too – how many of us think we feel trapped, not realizing we need help? I remember that in my teen years and beyond as well. I’m glad we see how Julia gets the help she needs.
  • I liked when Julia goes to Mexico. It reminded me of my parents taking us on our family trip to the Philippines when I was 7 years old. I remember seeing and hearing my dinner being killed, and butchered. It was quite an eye opening trip. But it was nice to learn more about Julia’s family in Mexico and glad she had that time to feel a bit freer from her anxiety.
  • Julia as a character is real as can be, her thoughts aren’t censored, she judges everyone harshly but it was refreshing. She wasn’t likable, but she didn’t even like herself, and who does like themselves as a teenager? Julia is dealing with so many things at one time: grief, her mom’s rules, trying to please her parents/family, hating her life, and investigating Olga’s past. She is imperfect and I loved the scenes where she is finally acknowledging her thoughts out loud to someone else who listens without judging her.
  • Triggers: grief, suicidal ideation, violence, sexual harassment
  • I thought this story moved slowly in the beginning and it almost lost my attention, especially since I thought investigating Olga’s past was the main thing about this story – but nothing much happens there until the big reveal at the end.

Despite it being a slow moving story, it is powerful in the way it explores immigrant Mexican American families, grief and mental health issues. None of us are perfect but most of us live with the pressure from our parents or other family members to be their idea of perfect. Julia was not about to conform to their ideals but she felt trapped and didn’t know who to talk to about it. This is a great book for teens coming of age.

📖 ~ Yolanda

BLOG TOUR } One of the Good Ones by. Malika Moulite & Maritza Moulite

Welcome to the blog tour for One of the Good Ones by. Malika Moulite & Maritza Moulite!

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: One of the Good Ones

Author: Malika Moulite & Maritza Moulite

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 384

Publication Date: 1/5/21

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Google Play | IndieBound | Books-A-Million

Categories: Racism, Social Justice, Protests, Family, History, Contemporary, Young Adult

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

The Hate U Give meets Get Out in this honest and powerful exploration of prejudice in the stunning novel from sister-writer duo Maika and Maritza Moulite, authors of Dear Haiti, Love Alaine.

ISN’T BEING HUMAN ENOUGH?

When teen social activist and history buff Kezi Smith is killed under mysterious circumstances after attending a social justice rally, her devastated sister Happi and their family are left reeling in the aftermath. As Kezi becomes another immortalized victim in the fight against police brutality, Happi begins to question the idealized way her sister is remembered. Perfect. Angelic.

One of the good ones.

Even as the phrase rings wrong in her mind—why are only certain people deemed worthy to be missed?—Happi and her sister Genny embark on a journey to honor Kezi in their own way, using an heirloom copy of The Negro Motorist Green Book as their guide. But there’s a twist to Kezi’s story that no one could’ve ever expected—one that will change everything all over again. 

  • I loved how this story explored racism and it’s history through Kezi’s life and death which happens because of a protest for a black man who lost his life, Jamal. The story ties into racism in American history with Happi and Genny’s road trip using The Negro Motorist Green Book! This trip also helps Happi and Genny learn about their own family history. I learned a lot of things through their journey.
  • The road trip opens Happi and Genny’s eyes to a lot of history and to some things in Kezi’s life they were missing. It’s a healing journey for them and Kezi’s youtube followers too.
  • The way the Smith family copes after Kezi’s death is different, as everyone grieves differently. I thought it was interesting how religion is brought into the story and how the Smith parents have to deal with certain truths about Kezi’s life. I like that it touches on how the girls were “raised”. How they were the good ones: good life, grades, looks, family, etc…as opposed to the bad ones who are vilified in the media because they don’t have all those things.
  • The plot twist in this book made my eyes go wide. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I kept on reading, but the ending of the book is really unexpected. It goes in a direction I never expected!
  • Triggers: mention of lynchings, racism, police brutality, stalking, grief, kidnapping
  • I had a hard time getting into the story at first because there are many different perspectives with many different dates (timelines): Kezi, Happi, Shaqueria, and Evelyn. They are all connected but I’m not even sure if Evelyn’s story perspective was needed since Kezi explains who she was and how her family was close to Derek’s.
  • I feel like this story turns into something else entirely in the second half and almost wish it picked one story to go with. I would have been satisfied with an amazing road trip story or the plot twist really could have been a separate book on it’s own. Honestly…the second half would be my pick because then the story becomes a thriller!
  • With all this said, there are so many great stories in this book, but I think maybe there was too much going on.

Overall, I think this is an impactful story when it comes to talking about racism, American history, family dynamics and social justice. It took me awhile to get into because of all the different perspectives and timelines but I do love how thrilling the ending becomes, which was so unexpected. This is an important story about how society as a whole values black lives.

♥️ ~ Yolanda

About the Authors:

MAIKA MOULITE is a Miami native and the daughter of Haitian immigrants. She earned a bachelor’s in marketing from Florida State University and an MBA from the University of Miami. When she’s not using her digital prowess to help nonprofits and major organizations tell their stories online, she’s sharpening her skills as a PhD student at Howard University’s Communication, Culture and Media Studies program. Her research focuses on representation in media and its impact on marginalized groups. She’s the eldest of four sisters and loves young adult novels, fierce female leads, and laughing.

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads

MARITZA MOULITE graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s in women’s studies and the University of Southern California with a master’s in journalism. She’s worked in various capacities for NBC News, CNN, and USA TODAY. Maritza is a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania exploring ways to improve literacy in under-resourced communities after being inspired to study education from her time as a literacy tutor and pre-k teacher assistant. Her favorite song is “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire.

https://www.maikaandmaritza.com/

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads

New Year’s Kiss | Book Review

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Title: New Year’s Kiss

Author: Lee Matthews

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 240

Categories: Romance, Young Adult, Holiday Romance, Teen Readers, Contemporary

A fun and upbeat paperback original romance about a girl who has a New Year’s resolution to make the coming year epic in every way—and is willing to put herself out there for love.

Tess and her opinionated older sister Lauren are spending the week after Christmas at the snowy Evergreen Lodge in Vermont and they aren’t happy about it. Their stern grandmother, who owns the holiday resort, is not known for her warmth and good humor. But when shy, straight-laced Tess meets Christopher in the lobby, things are suddenly looking up. And when she decides to get out of her comfort zone and create a bucket list of things to accomplish before the New Year-like singing in public and skiing a black-diamond slope-Christopher is happy to help, even as he keeps a secret that could turn everything upside down. When the ball drops, will Tess and Christopher share a magical kiss-or will Tess start the new year off alone?

  • It’s short, sweet, wholesome, and a quick light holiday romance story.
  • I like the setting of a holiday resort in Vermont where it’s got snow, skiing and a quaint town. It’s a perfect read for Christmas/New Year’s.
  • It’s one of those books where the main character makes a list of things she’s never done and tries to accomplish everything on the list before a certain time, this one would be by New Year’s – she has like a week to do it.
  • Definitely more for teen readers than young adult because it’s light reading. Tess’s parents are going through a divorce and she and her sister Lauren are trying to bond while at their grandmother’s lodge. There isn’t much drama going on in the book, no depth. I was bored in the middle since we pretty much knew what was going to happen.
  • Didn’t really connect to any of the characters.

For what it is, a romance teen holiday story, it hits all the marks – we have the right location, family time (that you dread) and meeting cute boys. Tess goes through some drama but nothing heavy at all and in the end there is a happy ending. If you want a quick holiday romance read geared towards teens, then you will like this one.

🎉 ~ Yolanda

You Have a Match | ARC Review

My Rating: 4/5 STARS

Title: You Have a Match

Author: Emma Lord

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 320

Publication Date: 1/05/21

Categories: Young Adult, Identity, Family, Friendship, Romance, Coming of Age, Adoption

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

When Abby signs up for a DNA service, it’s mainly to give her friend and secret love interest, Leo, a nudge. After all, she knows who she is already: Avid photographer. Injury-prone tree climber. Best friend to Leo and Connie…although ever since the B.E.I. (Big Embarrassing Incident) with Leo, things have been awkward on that front.

But she didn’t know she’s a younger sister.

When the DNA service reveals Abby has a secret sister, shimmery-haired Instagram star Savannah Tully, it’s hard to believe they’re from the same planet, never mind the same parents—especially considering Savannah, queen of green smoothies, is only a year and a half older than Abby herself.

The logical course of action? Meet up at summer camp (obviously) and figure out why Abby’s parents gave Savvy up for adoption. But there are complications: Savvy is a rigid rule-follower and total narc. Leo is the camp’s co-chef, putting Abby’s growing feelings for him on blast. And her parents have a secret that threatens to unravel everything.

But part of life is showing up, leaning in, and learning to fit all your awkward pieces together. Because sometimes, the hardest things can also be the best ones.

My Attention: read in one day

World Building: Washington State – mostly at camp

Writing Style: easy to read and relatable

Crazy in Love: friends to lovers 

Creativity: Abby’s life gets a bit tangled and she learns to unravel some of the things tying her up in knots.

Triggers: adoption

My Takeaway: Sometimes when you try to find yourself…you find a sister along the way.

  • Emma Lord is becoming a must-read author for me. I love how she writes young adult contemporary that is filled with relationship problems, whether it be between a romantic interest or issues that arise with family and friends.
  • Abby’s not doing so well in school, her parents have her scheduled with tutoring. But her grandpa passed away, and she’s in love with her best friend – then on top of that she finds out her parents have been hiding a secret all her life. Talk about trying to manage all her emotions at once! It’s rough and she isn’t one to confront things happening in her life, but she learns how to when Savvy comes into her life, since Savvy is all about putting herself out there.
  • The story is heart-warming. I love her friendship with Leo but she wants more and she doesn’t know what he wants. And when Abby and Savvy get to know each other, watching their relationship grow after a few rough spots…I wanted them to be in each other’s lives forever by the end of the story.
  • The secret that Savvy and Abby’s parents share and hide is just so unfortunate, but I can see it as being totally realistic in adoption cases. I felt Abby’s mother’s pain and Savvy’s adopted mother’s as well.
  • Not only is Savvy adopted but Leo is adopted too. He and his sister was adopted from the Philippines (love the rep!) – and he starts to open up about wanting to know his roots, and his people, through food dishes. I thought that was so fitting because as a Filipino myself…food is everything, it’s so connected to our family/history/culture/memories.
  • It takes awhile for Leo and Abby to get together haha – lots of back and forth of not knowing where the other stands, but I did adore their friendship. Abby is a Junior so the angst is expected.

You Have a Match is a heartwarming story about finding yourself and family and friends along the way. Abby is grieving her grandpa, wishing she was “better” at everything so her parents could stop trying to fix her, and she’s in love with her best friend. In the end, she realizes her parents support her, and that the boy she loves, loves her back – she just had to open up and tell them what she felt. I enjoyed this story about Abby Day finding herself and also finding a sister.

💕 ~ Yolanda

Maybe This Time | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Maybe This Time

Author: Kasie West

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 368

Categories: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary

One year. Nine events. Nine chances to . . . fall in love?

Weddings. Funerals. Barbecues. New Year’s Eve parties. Name the occasion, and Sophie Evans will be there. Well, she has to be there. Sophie works for the local florist, so she can be found at every big event in her small hometown, arranging bouquets and managing family dramas.

Enter Andrew Hart. The son of the fancy new chef in town, Andrew is suddenly required to attend all the same events as Sophie. Entitled, arrogant, preppy Andrew. Sophie just wants to get her job done and finish up her sketches so she can apply to design school. But every time she turns around, there is Andrew, getting in her way and making her life more complicated. Until one day she wonders if maybe complicated isn’t so bad after all . . .

Told over the course of one year and following Sophie from event to event, this delightful novel from master of romantic comedy Kasie West shows how love can blossom in unexpected places. 

  • It’s so refreshing to read a contemporary ya book after reading so much fantasy ones. I enjoyed all the elements in this book: enemies to lovers, small town girl wants to go to the big city, complicated family, and a tight best friend relationship.
  • Sophie and Andrew’s moments together span over a year. They are basically together in scenes when they work a big even in town. Sophie works as an assistant events planner and Andrew helps his chef dad with his website. They don’t get a long at first and I liked the bickering between them.
  • Sophie and her best friend Micah have a fun relationship! Thank goodness for Micah to help Sophie lighten up, especially when it comes to Andrew. They have their struggles but I love that their bond is hard to break.
  • Sophie’s broken family is due to her dad leaving their family. But Sophie wants to eventually leave too, but she doesn’t know how those plans will pan out. She questions herself: she doesn’t know if she’s skilled or talented enough to make it in design school.
  • I’m not sure that anything really resolves between Andrew’s dad and Sophie, but I guess it doesn’t matter, because Andrew finally stands up to him. Still, I just didn’t understand what his problem was with her.
  • The story is spaced out over the year – for example there was a wedding event, and then a fall festival and in between these events Andrew and Sophie never hung out. So there would be a month they haven’t seen each other and I thought that was interesting.

This was a super quick and enjoyable read. It was refreshing to read a YA contemporary romance since it’s been awhile for me! It was nice to see Sophie grow as a person and I loved her hate to love relationship with Andrew. I look forward to reading more from this author.

💘 ~ Yolanda

Grown | Book Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: Grown

Author: Tiffany D. Jackson

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 384

Categories: Contemporary, Young Adult, Sexual Assault, Rape, Mystery, Thriller

Korey Fields is dead.

When Enchanted Jones wakes with blood on her hands and zero memory of the previous night, no one—the police and Korey’s fans included—has more questions than she does. All she really knows is that this isn’t how things are supposed to be. Korey was Enchanted’s ticket to stardom.

Before there was a dead body, Enchanted was an aspiring singer, struggling with her tight knit family’s recent move to the suburbs while trying to find her place as the lone Black girl in high school. But then legendary R&B artist Korey Fields spots her at an audition. And suddenly her dream of being a professional singer takes flight.

Enchanted is dazzled by Korey’s luxurious life but soon her dream turns into a nightmare. Behind Korey’s charm and star power hides a dark side, one that wants to control her every move, with rage and consequences. Except now he’s dead and the police are at the door. Who killed Korey Fields?

All signs point to Enchanted.

  • Aesthetics ~ the cover is gorgeous! I love that mustard yellow and brown combination with the earring carrying the title of the book.
  • This is a murder mystery that really got me hooked on the first page. I didn’t know it would be inspired by R. Kelly’s story and yes, I did watch that docuseries Surviving R. Kelly which aired last year. The author did such a great job following Enchanted and how she is groomed by Korey. She thinks it’s love but it becomes something more dark and sinister the longer she is trapped with him. I was afraid for her and the other girls in his life. I felt the same way as when I watched that docuseries.
  • The story brings up so many issues such as parenting ~ was it Enchanted’s parents to blame for what happened? The artist himself, Korey, obviously had a pattern of this behavior ~ how could people let him do this in front of the whole world? The police ~ why didn’t they believe Enchanted or her parents when they reported something was wrong? Enchanted ~ should she have known better, she knew he was 28? Bottom line, Korey was the adult and the monster.
  • Enchanted is filled with so many dreams of being a singer in the beginning and she gets part of her dream – with a huge cost. She loses herself, her family, her power, and the little control she had over life. Korey was scary because he came off so perfect at the start, in the end he was the boogie man in the closet.
  • Triggers: physical, emotional and sexual abuse, being drugged, grooming, kidnapping
  • There was a point in the book when Enchanted’s sanity is questioned – especially when it comes to her friend Gab. Even I thought I was losing my mind as it confused me for a moment as to what the author was trying to do with that moment.

Whether you know the R. Kelly story or not, this book is a powerful read. Enchanted’s story is scary and heartbreaking, I felt scared and trapped with her. How do we let these predators get away with so much? If you can handle the heavy issues in this book, read it.

💛 ~ Yolanda

Parachutes | Book Review

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: Parachutes

Author: Kelly Yang

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 496

Categories: Contemporary, Young Adult, Sexual Assault, Racism, Classism

They’re called parachutes: teenagers dropped off to live in private homes and study in the US while their wealthy parents remain in Asia. Claire Wang never thought she’d be one of them, until her parents pluck her from her privileged life in Shanghai and enroll her at a high school in California. Suddenly she finds herself living in a stranger’s house, with no one to tell her what to do for the first time in her life. She soon embraces her newfound freedom, especially when the hottest and most eligible parachute, Jay, asks her out.

Dani De La Cruz, Claire’s new host sister, couldn’t be less thrilled that her mom rented out a room to Claire. An academic and debate-team star, Dani is determined to earn her way into Yale, even if it means competing with privileged kids who are buying their way to the top. When her debate coach starts working with her privately, Dani’s game plan veers unexpectedly off course.

Desperately trying to avoid each other under the same roof, Dani and Claire find themselves on a collision course, intertwining in deeper and more complicated ways, as they grapple with life-altering experiences. Award-winning author Kelly Yang weaves together an unforgettable modern immigrant story about love, trauma, family, corruption, and the power of speaking out.

  • I was really clueless about this term of parachute kids. This book was a learning experience for me on the whole subject of Chinese kids coming to American to live with host families to go to school here. I used to work in a college library and many of my student workers were female Chinese students, but graduate students, so they did their high school years in China. I do remember them telling me about how hard they studied and the pressures they had to deal with.
  • The wealth disparity in this story shows such a big gap between the kind of wealth Claire (parachute kid) has and Dani, her Filipina roommate, lacks. Dani’s mom is a cleaning maid and Dani herself works part-time as one too. They are Claire’s host family because they need the money. Claire is basically filthy rich by most people’s standard – but not rich enough to have their own private jet kind of rich.
  • Sexual Assault is a BIG theme in this book and a major trigger so please be aware of that. There is a situation with Dani’s debate coach, and then Claire experiences one with her boyfriend but throughout the whole story the boys and men (minus Zach) were really trash. There are some events that happen that help the two girls bond, but for a good time in the book, they aren’t very close.
  • The girls learn to find their voices to tell their truths and that’s the inspirational part of the book.
  • Triggers: rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, grooming, cheating, stalking
  • I understand Dani and Claire barely know each other and it stays that way throughout most of the book. I was hoping for a little more connection between them but then again, Claire does make friends with the other Parachutes.
  • I wasn’t feeling the Zach romance storyline – I didn’t think it was needed. Also, I think I got it that Claire and her friends were super rich, there was a lot of brand names and labels being dropped. Those parts definitely reminded me of Crazy Rich Asians.

This book was eye-opening to me because of the parachute kids in American schools. I have no experience with that, so it was good to learn. There are a lot of important issues covered in this book, especially when it comes to racism, classism and sexual assault. Though both Claire and Dani experience some traumatizing moments in this book, I liked that the ending was hopeful as they found their voices and told their truths. Overall, an important story to read about two different girls, who are strong in their own ways.

🪂~Yolanda

A Curse of Ash and Embers | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: A Curse of Ash & Embers

Author: Jo Spurrier

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 272

Publication Date: 11/3/20

Publisher: Voyager

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Witches

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

A dead witch. A bitter curse. A battle of magic.

Some people knit socks by the fire at night. Gyssha Blackbone made monsters.

But the old witch is dead now, and somehow it’s Elodie’s job to clean up the mess.

When she was hired at Black Oak Cottage, Elodie had no idea she’d find herself working for a witch; and her acid-tongued new mistress, Aleida, was not expecting a housemaid to turn up on her doorstep.

Gyssha’s final curse left Aleida practically dead on her feet, and now, with huge monsters roaming the woods, a demonic tree lurking in the orchard and an angry warlock demanding repayment of a debt, Aleida needs Elodie’s help, whether she likes it or not.

And no matter what the old witch throws at her, to Elodie it’s still better than going back home.

Thank you to Voyager and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC!

My Attention: it couldn’t hold my attention

World Building: Black Oak Cottage, witches and a mystery to uncover

Writing Style: atmospheric

Bringing the Heat: none

Crazy in Love: nope – not crazy

Creativity: magic, witches and monsters

Mood: mixed feelings

Triggers: violence

My Takeaway: Elodie is a strong and brave young woman who can take care of herself.

  • I enjoyed the story of Aleida and Gyssha, the witches of Black Oak Cottage. When Elodie meets Aleida, Black Oak Cottage isn’t in good condition. We learn about Gyssha’s demise and then more about the witches’ history but Aleida is pretty fierce.
  • The female characters in this book are strong. Elodie is a great character because she is literally just turned out from her home. Her step-father wants her gone and unfortunately her mother agrees it’s time for her to go. She’s a young woman, away from family and home. Elodie is smart, and isn’t afraid to ask questions. I liked her inquiring mind as she met different people like the wizard.
  • The writing is wonderful and atmospheric. There is action and danger to keep things somewhat exciting.
  • Unfortunately, I found myself bored at times reading this story because it moves slowly like a mystery.
  • Would have liked a little more romance, but that’s a personal thing for me because I love romance in my stories.

This book may have not captured my full attention but many people who read young adult fantasy will enjoy this story very much. It has witches, action, danger and a girl named Elodie who finds a new home in the most unexpected place.