book review, coming of age, contemporary, netgalley, romance, Teen Readers, Young Adult

Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous by. Suzanne Park | ARC Review

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous

Authors: Suzanne Park

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 352

Publication Date: 6/1/21

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Categories: Social Media, Young Adult, Romance, Summer Camp, Contemporary

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

Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

A social media influencer is shipped off to a digital detox summer camp in this funny coming-of-age story, perfect for fans of Jenny Han’s The Summer I Turned Pretty and Love and Gelato .

Sunny Song’s Big Summer Goals:
1) Make Rafael Kim my boyfriend (finally!)
2) Hit 100K followers (almost there…)
3) Have the best last summer of high school ever

Not on Sunny’s list: accidentally filming a PG-13 cooking video that goes viral (#browniegate). Extremely not on her list: being shipped off to a digital detox farm camp in Iowa (IOWA??) for a whole month. She’s traded in her WiFi connection for a butter churn, and if she wants any shot at growing her social media platform this summer, she’ll need to find a way back online.

But between some unexpected friendships and an alarmingly cute farm boy, Sunny might be surprised by the connections she makes when she’s forced to disconnect.

  • I thought this was a fun premise for a story. Youtuber gets sent to technology detox camp to reconnect with life again and learn about what’s important in her life. Sunny isn’t even a big time social media influencer but someone trying to get to that level but her parents thinks whatever she is doing is enough to send her to camp.
  • Sunny is a fun character – she’s from L.A. and gets sent to Iowa. For the most part she is bored without all her technology. She makes some friends at camp and even meets a boy who works at the farm. She comes off self-centered because she is very focused on her youtube career but I did like how she stood up for herself when dealing with microagressions on the farm because she is Korean-American.
  • Sunny and Theo’s romance is very cute and sweet. The two of them are opposites in every aspect. She’s a city girl, he’s a farm boy. He’s traditional, she’s a risk taker. I liked seeing their relationship grow.
  • I did like the message in the story – which is about finding a life with balance. Sunny makes good points about why technology is needed and helpful. I also loved that she stands up to Theo and Ms. Davenport about her choice to become a social media star and she works hard at her craft to try and reach her dreams. I like that she made it clear that going to college isn’t the only way to success these days. I agree and I went to college haha. But Coach, the “counselor” at camp makes good points too about making human connections face to face. I like how she connects with the elderly, it reminds me of the times I volunteered as a teen in nursing homes. So I like how this story shows how connecting online and offline is a good thing.
  • Triggers: microagression
  • This one is a quick, lighthearted read. It’s light and cute with the romance and nothing that went too deep into the issues.
  • Not sure why one of the campers, Wendy, really hated on Sunny. Competition? She just didn’t like her? I’m not sure and it’s not really addressed.

I think we all could be reminded now and then, or everyday, how connecting online and offline can be a great thing when there is a balance between the two. The author conveyed this message very well in the story. I found this book to be an entertaining, quick, lighthearted read with a good message and sweet romance. This one is perfect for teens and young adult readers.

📚 ~ Yolanda

book review, coming of age, contemporary, E-book, romance, Young Adult

When We Were Infinite by. Kelly Loy Gilbert | Book Review

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Title: When We Were Infinite

Author: Kelly Loy Gilbert

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 368

Publication Date: 3/9/21

Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

Categories: Young Adult, Friendship, Romance, Abuse, Mental Health, Identity, Contemporary

All Beth wants is for her tight-knit circle of friends — Grace Nakamura, Brandon Lin, Sunny Chen, and Jason Tsou — to stay together. With her family splintered and her future a question mark, these friends are all she has — even if she sometimes wonders if she truly fits in with them. Besides, she’s certain she’ll never be able to tell Jason how she really feels about him, so friendship will have to be enough.

Then Beth witnesses a private act of violence in Jason’s home, and the whole group is shaken. Beth and her friends make a pact to do whatever it takes to protect Jason, no matter the sacrifice. But when even their fierce loyalty isn’t enough to stop Jason from making a life-altering choice, Beth must decide how far she’s willing to go for him—and how much of herself she’s willing to give up.

  • This story starts off so happy and then it’s a slow descent into heartbreak and then healing. It starts off as this story about a tight knit group of five friends, most of them Taiwanese except for Grace who is Japanese American, and Beth who is half-white and Chinese, who has no deep to connection to either side of her cultures. These kids are smart, goal oriented, talented and have everything going for themselves, their futures are so bright and they all seem so perfect – on the outside. Their friendship is a beautiful thing but even though they are the closest and most supportive of friends, there were things they couldn’t prevent. Through Beth we see that as their time comes to an end in high school, pressures start building, more for Jason the boy she’s in love with, and a series of events happen that shakes their tight knit group.
  • But let’s talk about Beth. We are in her head a lot and I was scared at times being in that head because some things I could really relate to. She’s the most quiet among her friends, and so talented with a violin. She is that type of person ready to appease everyone, at least she is with her friends. Beth lives her life in a way so that she won’t repeat the mistakes of her mother who she blames for the divorce and making her dad leave. As a teen, I would have understood Beth a lot with the anger at her parents. Now that I am a mom and way older, Beth was breaking my heart blaming her mom for everything. She comes off selfish (when it comes to her mother) but so unselfish when it comes to her friends and Jason. The story comes around full circle from Senior year in high school to them being in college which I’m glad about because there were so many things Beth needed to learn about herself, she needed to actually grow without these amazing friends of hers and she does. It’s not easy, but she does it, little by little.
  • Mental health is a big topic in this story. From the very high expectations of immigrant Asian parents (I know how that feels but not to the extent of what Beth and her friends are going through), abuse in a family and is it considered “abuse” and should you tell anyone, dating someone with mental health issues, and seeking help when you do have mental health episodes among other things.
  • I love how music is interwoven into the storyline because of Beth and her friends being in the school symphony club. The place Beth is her true self is with her violin. Music is what brings her back to life that is worth living.
  • This story is written beautifully and I hope to read more of this author’s work. I was really drawn into this story of perfect friends as thing unraveled. By the end of it, I wanted them to all be fixed and the ending made me cry. I think I was just so happy that Beth and Jason were okay despite everything.

Triggers: attempted suicide, anxiety, divorce, abuse, panic attacks

  • This is heavy reading material and so very triggering. Beth’s anxiety chaffed at me, it gave me anxiety. I wanted to shake sense into her because I’m an adult now but I saw some of myself in her. Jason’s withdrawal made me nervous for him. I felt helpless for both of them. I felt quite drained by the end of this book, so read at your own pace if any of these topics are a trigger for you.
  • The romance between Jason and Beth in the end becomes a beautiful thing but the beginning of it is toxic. It’s a bad idea, but Beth is diving into it head first, she is all in without a care for her own well-being. To me their love story wasn’t something comforting to me at all when it began…but by the end of the book, I was tearing up because they both did a lot of work to meet each other half way.

When We Were Infinite is an emotional journey about at a time when the transition from high school to college is full of pressure. It’s a story about Beth, who seems okay at the beginning of the book and we slowly uncover all the layers to see she is not doing okay at all at home, or at life in general. I was invested in the story the whole way through and saw parts of me in it that made me uncomfortable but seen, which I appreciated. This is a powerfully layered story that will stay in my head for awhile.

📚 ~ Yolanda

Quotes from the Book:

book review, coming of age, contemporary, Young Adult

Concrete Rose by. Angie Thomas | Book Review

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Title: Concrete Rose (The Hate U Give, #0.5)

Author: Angie Thomas

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 360

Publication Date: 1/21/21

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Categories: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Family, Fatherhood, Gangs

International phenomenon Angie Thomas revisits Garden Heights seventeen years before the events of The Hate U Givein this searing and poignant exploration of Black boyhood and manhood.

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

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

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

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

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

  • Angie Thomas is a must-read author for me. Her writing is so good! Once I start reading, I feel my body just settling into her words, into the story and there I am watching things unfold for Maverick in real time, at least that’s what it feels like for me. It’s an enjoyable reading experience, and it’s almost soothing even though the topics in Concrete Rose are anything but calming.
  • This story is about a teen boy turning into a father too fast – and honestly, I grew up in this period that the story is set. Pagers were the thing to have (my parents never let me have one), Boyz to Men was being played everywhere, and teenage pregnancy was happening at a high rate. All my high school male cousins, some drop outs, all got their girlfriends pregnant in high school so they were very young dads. A few female friends of mine also got pregnant in high school, so I love that this was from Maverick’s perspective and his struggles of becoming a father almost overnight, because it is relatable to me. I was baby-sitting my cousin’s kids a lot and I was barely in high school myself! Parenting at any age is hard, but doing it when you barely have money and a high school diploma is rough.
  • Maverick isn’t perfect – he sells drugs to make ends meet, he is in a gang, he is grieving, but he tries his best when Seven (his son) comes into his life to do the right thing. He gives up the high paying drug business and gets a regular low paying job, he goes to school even though he is failing, he is helping his mom pay the house bills (his dad is in jail), he has no time to hang with friends…but his struggle to stay on the good path is hard, especially when having no money is a problem. I felt for him but was seriously proud of him too for trying to own up and be a “man” so his son could have a father around. He had to make a few tough decisions on different matters and I’m so glad he chose to do the right thing.
  • His community had his back. Yes, he thought it was the King Lord gang that had his back and maybe they did in some ways when it came to protection in their neighborhood but it was his neighbors and family that really got his back. They gave him a job, gave him advice/direction/a listening ear/patience/forgiveness, they helped him babysit Seven and that was a beautiful thing!
  • I feel like this one didn’t have much action, like The Hate U Give but it works…it’s beautiful and introspective as we get to know Maverick and his struggles. Very well done!

Triggers: gun violence, violence, drugs, teen pregnancy, grief

  • There were a lot of parenting advice in this one that I wasn’t expecting but it was relatable and I’m in my 40’s! So I definitely loved all the parenting advice in this one.
  • There was a moment I thought it was like the Boyz n the Hood movie (has anyone seen that? Talk about my childhood, that movie was big and eye opening) and I was scared for that “moment” to happen. 😭
  • Speaking of movies, all of Angie’s books should be movies.
  • I may be biased because I am female, but I always gravitate to stories about girls, young women, women – because it’s been so hard for us to be heard. But this story reminded me boys need to be understood too. As I was reading, I was wondering if this was how my boy cousins felt when they had gotten their girlfriends pregnant and became teen dads. Did they feel the pressures, the fears and behaved in ways to get away from those feelings? I connected to Maverick as a parent especially in those first few months of parenthood.

Concrete Rose is the perfect prequel to The Hate U Give. We get Maverick’s point of view and learn about his relationship with King and how Starr, his daughter and Seven, his son, came to be. We see his struggles and there is many coming from school, parenting, working to make ends meet, his parents, his ex-girlfriend, losing family and friends. Angie Thomas is one of my favorite authors and her books always has a powerful message. There are many messages in this book about parenting, owning up to your mistakes, and trying to change your life path. Teens and young adults should definitely read this one, but adults can enjoy this one as well, just like I did.

📚 ~ Yolanda

Quotes from the book:

book review, contemporary, netgalley, paranormal, Teen Readers, Young Adult

Spells Trouble by. P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast | ARC Review

My Rating: 2/5 Stars (DNF @25%)

Title: Spells Trouble (Sisters of Salem, #1)

Author: P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 320

Publication Date: 5/25/21

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Categories: Witches, Young Adult, Twins, Contemporary, Paranormal

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

Double double, twins spell trouble…

Hunter and Mercy Goode are twin witches, direct descendants of the founder of their town of Goodeville. As their ancestors have done before them, it is now time for the twins to learn what it means to be Gatekeepers–the protectors of the Gates to different underworlds, ancient portals between their world and realms where mythology rules and nightmares come to life.

When their mother becomes the first victim in a string of murders, the devastated sisters vow to avenge her death. But it will take more than magic to rein in the ancient mythological monsters who’ve infected their peaceful town.

Now Hunter and Mercy must come together and accept their destiny or risk being separated for good.

I DNF’ed this book at 25% because it was just not for me. But let’s look at what I liked ~

  • Love the cover, it’s what drew me to the story in the first place and a book about witches? I was definitely interested.
  • Right away there is some crazy action with the girls 16th birthday ritual night but I can’t say for the rest of the book because I wasn’t interested in finishing.
  • The Goode twins, Hunter and Mercy, are different and have distinct voices.
  • Their familiar, a cat named Xena turns into a human, so that was fun.
  • The one time I read this mother/daughter duo is when they came out with the House of Night series back in 2007! I followed it up until book 5 maybe? It was fun and I was obsessed with it in 2007-2009 and then I outgrew it. The writing is much more suited for teen readers (except there is detailed sexual content). At times the story felt superficial and rushed especially when their mom died.
  • I felt no connection to any of the characters.
  • I really wish this held my interest because the concept is good and witches always make for a fun and thrilling story.

Overall this one is definitely not for me because of the writing style which felt rushed. At times I felt like I was in my 20’s reading a young adult novel again, but not in a good way because times have changed in the young adult world and I did not finish it but I think many people will still enjoy this one. I feel like it’s written for teen readers except for the detailed sexual scene.

📚 ~ Yolanda

book review, coming of age, contemporary, romance, Teen Readers, Young Adult

Take Me Home Tonight | ARC Review

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Title: Take Me Home Tonight

Author: Morgan Matson

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 368

Publication Date: 5/4/21

Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

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

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

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off meets Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist in this romp through the city that never sleeps from the New York Times bestselling author of Since You’ve Been Gone, Morgan Matson.

Two girls. One night. Zero phones.

Kat and Stevie—best friends, theater kids, polar opposites—have snuck away from the suburbs to spend a night in New York City. They have it all planned out. They’ll see a play, eat at the city’s hottest restaurant, and have the best. Night. Ever. What could go wrong?

Well. Kind of a lot?

They’re barely off the train before they’re dealing with destroyed phones, family drama, and unexpected Pomeranians. Over the next few hours, they’ll have to grapple with old flames, terrible theater, and unhelpful cab drivers. But there are also cute boys to kiss, parties to crash, dry cleaning to deliver (don’t ask), and the world’s best museum to explore.

Over the course of a wild night in the city that never sleeps, both Kat and Stevie will get a wake-up call about their friendship, their choices…and finally discover what they really want for their future. 

That is, assuming they can make it to Grand Central before the clock strikes midnight.

  • The title ALWAYS makes me sing that 80’s song, “Take me home tonight, I don’t want let you go till you see the light…” – it’s such a good song and reminds me of my childhood! Such a fun title!
  • Everything happens in one night in NYC of all places which is always a good time, right? It’s such an exciting city, so I loved the setting. It’s the perfect place for nightly shenanigans.
  • I did enjoy Kat and Stevie’s friendship. At the start you just know they are tight, and they do get separated during their wild night in NYC but it helped them deal with their own issues for a few hours before meeting up. I like their separate emotional journeys and when they come back together, they are better for it.
  • Kat has a cute little romantic encounter, but I loved Stevie’s interactions with her family even more. We get to meet her step-siblings and watch her deal with family issues, I thought it brought the emotional feels in the story.
  • I appreciate the whole Adventures in Babysitting references with Teri’s storyline but I mostly skipped it. It didn’t work for me because I was more interested in Kat and Stevie’s adventure and it really went off in a whole direction with Teri. In the end I thought it was sorta funny and cute but during the story, it would take me out of the story.
  • This would make an entertaining movie.
  • More suited towards teen readers.

This story is about one wild night in New York City shared between two best friends who have a falling out along the way but find their way back to one another. There is Teri’s storyline who is on an Adventures of Babysitting kick and it’s funny in the end but unfortunately took me out of the story multiple times. I think teen readers will enjoy this one and relate to Kat and Stevie’s personalities and friendship.

📚 ~ Yolanda

Blog tour, book review, fantasy, magic, romance, Young Adult

BLOG TOUR} These Feathered Flames by. Alexandra Overy | ARC Review

Welcome to the blog tour for These Feathered Flames by. Alexandra Overy!

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Title: These Feathered Flames

Author: Alexandra Overy

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 496

Publication Date: 4/20/21

Publisher: Inkyard Press

BUY HERE: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Books-A-Million | AppleBooks | GooglePlay

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Sibling Rivalry, Political Intrigue

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

Three Dark Crowns meets Wicked Saints in this queer #ownvoices retelling of “The Firebird,” a Russian folktale, by debut author Alexandra Overy.

When twin heirs are born in Tourin, their fates are decided at a young age. While Izaveta remained at court to learn the skills she’d need as the future queen, Asya was taken away to train with her aunt, the mysterious Firebird, who ensured magic remained balanced in the realm.

But before Asya’s training is completed, the ancient power blooms inside her, which can mean only one thing: the queen is dead, and a new ruler must be crowned.

As the princesses come to understand everything their roles entail, they’ll discover who they can trust, who they can love—and who killed their mother.

  • It has a gorgeous cover! I love red covers.
  • I liked the power of the Firebird. Izaveta and Asya are twins but separated because one will be Queen and the other will be this mysterious, powerful Firebird. The Firebird basically finds someone who’s done something it deems wrong and takes “payment” in usually violent ways from the person committing the crime. Asya is the Firebird and she is trying to control the power in her, afraid of it’s power.
  • Izaveta is the cold and cunning princess who will be Queen. She plays the politic games and tries to stay a step ahead of everyone, including her own sister.
  • There is a strained relationship between them since both have different roles in this kingdom. But each of them have missed one another, so it was interesting to see them navigate their relationship as strangers pretty much. Deep down though, their need for each other is fierce.
  • I liked Asya’s growing relationship with her guard. Asya is feared and despised by everyone around her, including her guard, but things change when they are thrown together. Things definitely get intense between them and it’s a f/f romance. Izaveta has a growing love interest as well but with a scholar.
  • Sadly, I didn’t connect to any of the characters.
  • If you like Three Dark Crowns where sisters are against one another, you will enjoy this one. I think I needed to be in the right mood to read this one.

For me this was just an okay read, maybe it would have been more enjoyable for me if I was in the right mood for it. I do think the story is fascinating with the Firebird storyline and it will definitely appeal to young adult fantasy readers.

🔥 ~ Yolanda

About the Author:

ALEXANDRA OVERY was born in London, England. Ever since she was little she has loved being able to escape into another world through books. She currently lives in Los Angeles, and is completing her MFA in Screenwriting at UCLA. When she’s not working on a new manuscript or procrastinating on doing homework, she can be found obsessing over Netflix shows, or eating all the ice cream she can.

https://www.alexandraovery.com/

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

book review, coming of age, contemporary, romance, Teen Readers, Young Adult

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega | Book Review

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: Fat Chance, Charlie Vega

Author: Crystal Maldonado

Format: eBook – borrowed (Overdrive Library)

Pages: 308

Publication Date: 2/2/21

Publisher: Holiday House

Categories: Teen/Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Body Image, Family, Friendship, Dating, Coming of Age

Coming of age as a Fat brown girl in a white Connecticut suburb is hard. 
Harder when your whole life is on fire, though. 

Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.

People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter. 

But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing–he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? UGHHH. Everything is now officially a MESS.

A sensitive, funny, and painful coming-of-age story with a wry voice and tons of chisme, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega tackles our relationships to our parents, our bodies, our cultures, and ourselves.

  • Love the message for girls and guys in here about body image and loving yourself no matter what size you are, no matter what skin color you are, no matter who you love. Charlie has to live with a mom who has chosen a fitness lifestyle and is trying to get Charlie to do the same. It causes Charlie’s self-esteem to take a beating and her relationship with her mom is strained. It was very relatable. It’s hard growing up in a family that points out every time you gain weight, I can definitely relate!
  • Charlie deals with a lot of body issues but the one thing she excels at is her writing, which is fantastic. I love that she has that outlet for her creative ideas and she’s good at it.
  • Charlie and her best-friend Amelia have an amazing relationship until Charlie finds a boyfriend. But they have a long hard talk about what came between them and I love that they had this moment. Charlie needed to speak her truth and Amelia as well. I love that even though they took some time apart, the came back together, maturely and talked it out. That’s what makes a friendship grow, when you can get through the rough parts.
  • Charlie’s romance with Brian is sweet because it starts as a friendship and I love that for her. Even the drama that came with it was realistic, especially because Charlie has some emotional issues to deal with that have nothing to do with Brian.
  • The cast of characters are quite diverse in this story, Charlie is half white/puerto rican. Brian is Korean with two mothers, and Amelia is black and pansexual.
  • Triggers: grief, fatphobia
  • Charlie’s mom really gets on Charlie to adopt a healthy lifestyle and to lose weight. It comes between them a lot. At times her mom seems to understand where Charlie is coming from and then the next scene it’s back to normal, shoving diet drinks in Charlie’s face. Even after Charlie lets her know how she feels, I felt like her mom didn’t truly get it.
  • The beginning was slow for me, it was turning out to be just an okay read for me because it seemed liked a story that was only about Charlie’s self-image but the second half of the book is where it gets really good and emotional.

Charlie Vega, despite her weight and self-image issues comes out shining in this story. She goes through some challenges with her mother, her first attempt at dating and best friend drama but she gets her happy ending. This book is great for teens and young adults because it’s totally relatable. I enjoyed this one, even though I thought it had a slow start, the second half came through with lots of emotion.

💛 ~ Yolanda

Quotes from the book:

book review, kindle unlimited, paranormal, urban fantasy, Young Adult

Year of the Chameleon | Shadowspell Academy 5 | Book Review

My Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Title: Year of the Chameleon (Shadowspell Academy, #5)

Author: Shannon Mayer

Format: eBook (Kindle Unlimited)

Pages: 314

Publication Date: 3/30/21

Publisher: Hijinks Ink Publishing

Categories: Series, Young Adult, Academy, Romance, Urban Fantasy

You Don’t Choose The Academy. The Academy Chooses You.

The Shadowkiller is back. 

And he is hunting me down like a dog in the streets of New York City using every tool and ally he has—including people I once trusted.

I have never been so alone in my life, and yet if I turn to my friends that puts a target on their backs too. Which means I have to keep running.

So, I do what I know, and I set myself to finding the trail of breadcrumbs that will lead me to the one who is still pulling the strings.

Frost. A Chameleon just like me. Just like the Shadowkiller. Worse, she’s seeking out my friends to pick them off, one by one. To drain their lives in order to feed hers.

To stop her, I have to find her—a task easier said than done in a city this size. 

What I don’t expect to find is a truth that this world and its secrets run far deeper, and far darker than I could have ever suspected. 

But is any of that going to stop me?

Not a chance.

  • It’s a quick read and continues right where book #4 left off. Wild is now with Nicholas and Ash but she’s trying to get away from them.
  • This time, we get different perspectives from her crew, especially Wally the Necromancer. I love that Wally is part of Wild’s crew because she needs more girls around her. Yay for the positive women friendships. The rest of the guys are awesome as well.
  • We get to learn more about the Shadowkiller and the few Chameleons that exists.
  • I feel like this could’ve been added to book number 4 because it was such a quick read and there were some things I thought was a bit repetitive, like when it came to Ethan. Will there be enough time in the next book to tie up all the loose ends about the Shadowkiller? I don’t know.
  • Also, does Wild really need to think about her feelings about Rory, Ethan and Colt right now when so much things are going down? Haha…I know she put it behind her, and put the mission first but still, it came up way too much for me.
  • Something feels missing and I just realized that the first three books in the series was co-written with another author, K.F. Breene. No wonder these last two books felt like something was missing, and that makes a lot of sense.

This one feels rushed and the next book is the last to the series, so it makes me wonder if every loose end will be tied up? I’ll read the next one because I’m already this far invested and they are really short books anyway so we shall see what happens next but this wasn’t my favorite book in the series.

📚~ Yolanda

book review, coming of age, contemporary, netgalley, romance, Young Adult

Slingshot | ARC Review

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: Slingshot

Author: Mercedes Helnwein

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 352

Publication Date: 4/27/21

Categories: Young Adult, Mature Situations, Romance, Family, Abuse, Boarding School, Coming of Age, Contemporary

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

An exciting debut contemporary young adult novel perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell and Mary H. K. Choi 

Grace Welles had resigned herself to the particular loneliness of being fifteen and stuck at a third-tier boarding school in the swamps of Florida, when she accidentally saves the new kid in her class from being beat up. With a single aim of a slingshot, the monotonous mathematics of her life are obliterated forever…because now there is this boy she never asked for. Wade Scholfield.

With Wade, Grace discovers a new way to exist. School rules are optional, life is bizarrely perfect, and conversations about wormholes can lead to make-out sessions that disrupt any logical stream of thoughts. 

So why does Grace crush Wade’s heart into a million tiny pieces? And what are her options when she finally realizes that 1. The universe doesn’t revolve around her, and 2. Wade has been hiding a dark secret. Is Grace the only person unhinged enough to save him?

Acidly funny and compulsively readable, Mercedes Helnwein’s debut novel Slingshot is a story about two people finding each other and then screwing it all up. See also: soulmate, friendship, stupidity, sex, bad poetry, and all the indignities of being in love for the first time.

  • Grace is a MESS. She’s 15, at a boarding school, unlikable, mean, a jerk, lacking social skills, says whatever she wants to say usual not caring about the consequences and she doesn’t believe in love. In a way she’s courageous, for not giving a crap but in lots of ways she’s afraid (of love) but wouldn’t admit it out loud until Wade and even Beth comes into her life. Also, she and her mom are her dad’s secret family so it’s no wonder she doesn’t believe in love. The blurb says “acidly funny” and all that acid comes from Grace haha!
  • Watching Grace navigate all her emotions was riveting and I could not put the book down. She’s all over the place. This girl is in love with her teacher then hates him when she finds out she was basically delusional about it. She pretty much scars a guy she hates, then sleeps with him and then unknowingly breaks his heart. If she went to my high school, this girl would have been getting into a lot of fights – she’s that girl. Despite her psychotic tendencies – I related to her thoughts about relationships, falling in love and sex because the relationships I saw growing up were totally dysfunctional too.
  • As for the romance with Wade ~ they start off as unlikely friends. Then best of friends into the possibility of something more and then into love. So it wasn’t instant which was nice, because Grace has a lot of issues but it was a sweet spot in the book. Wade is a good guy but we don’t know much about him until almost the ending. His life is complicated too.
  • Bittersweet ending – in true fashion, Grace falls for Wade, has this amazing time with him and it all comes crashing down. One thing is for sure with Grace, who basically hates everyone…she doesn’t hate Wade. And because Wade is so good, she learns to open up a bit…even make some friends and let some in. It’s not a total happy ending but realistic? I think so.
  • Triggers: student/teacher crush (one-sided), abuse, bullying
  • Grace crushes on her Bio teacher – hard. She thinks he reciprocates her feelings but ugh…he surely does not. And she basically does crazy stuff to him because she’s angry at him (breaks his pencils, writes him notes, tells him off) ~ this is how we are introduced to Grace and honestly from then on, I knew she needed therapy! This might turn people off to this book right away but seriously, it’s all one-sided.
  • Kind of bummed that Grace let all her grades go because of that whole teacher crush heartbreak – obviously this girl is SMART just lacking so much social skills and is almost hungrily studying others around her, hating them, judging them, needing praise (even it’s from some random guy like Derek who she hates) – dooming herself to loneliness because in the essence of it all she thinks her father never wanted her. Doesn’t love her.
  • I felt called out when Grace says she was into older music like 80’s/90’s and starts jamming to Smashing Pumpkins and Rage Against the Machine. 🤣 Talk about nostalgia – that was the music of MY high school years! Yes I’m old, but damn it the music was good!
  • This book totally could be a tv series, it’s quirky and dark enough, and Grace is so problematic.

Do not be fooled by this pink, happy book cover…this is not a fluffy, cutesy love story. Grace is a mean, cold, hurt, lost teenager trying to navigate all these feelings of love, sex, and friendship. She takes it out on everyone around her, and then Wade comes along and she tries to be better, for him. This story will not be for everyone, Grace has no filter ~ but she reminds me of someone I befriended in my younger years and things turned out okay for my friend. Moral of the story, we are all flawed, the teenage years are angsty and emotional, but we can still turn out okay.

🖤 ~ Yolanda

book review, coming of age, E-book, Mystery, romance, thriller, Young Adult

Firekeeper’s Daughter | Book Review

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Title: Firekeeper’s Daughter

Author: Angeline Boulley

Format: eBook and hard cover (own)

Pages: 496

Publication Date: 3/16/21

Publisher: Henry, Holt and Co.

Categories: Mystery, Young Adult, Romance, Family, Friendship, Drugs, Native American, Suspense, Thriller

Debut author Angeline Boulley crafts a groundbreaking YA thriller about a Native teen who must root out the corruption in her community, for readers of Angie Thomas and Tommy Orange. 

As a biracial, unenrolled tribal member and the product of a scandal, eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. Daunis dreams of studying medicine, but when her family is struck by tragedy, she puts her future on hold to care for her fragile mother. 

The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team. Yet even as Daunis falls for Jamie, certain details don’t add up and she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into the heart of a criminal investigation. 

Reluctantly, Daunis agrees to go undercover, but secretly pursues her own investigation, tracking down the criminals with her knowledge of chemistry and traditional medicine. But the deceptions—and deaths—keep piling up and soon the threat strikes too close to home. 

Now, Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she’ll go to protect her community, even if it tears apart the only world she’s ever known.

  • What drew me to this book was the cover first, the description second because I love that it was a young adult story about a native teen. I haven’t read many books about Native Americans in all the decades I’ve been reading and it’s about time, or more like overdue. We need more books like these.
  • I’m not a big fan of mysteries and didn’t realize this story was a mystery at first. But I was sucked into Daunis’ history, and her story of owning her identity. We learn Ojibwe tribe history, customs and current issues natives go through in their communities. We get to see them experience discrimination, racism, drugs, the role of the elderly, and just how their communities are so tight. I learned about the casinos on reservations and how enrolled tribal members earn per cap and how someone can even be enrolled as a member ~ I learned so much from this story.
  • Daunis’ life is complicated but she navigates her life using her tribe teachings and it really centers her when things get rough. And things get dark and sinister in this story which I didn’t expect. Another thing about Daunis which I adored was her intellect and scientific mind. Her western science knowledge and tribe healing practices collide in this story to help her with the investigation and I thought that was really cool to see.
  • I love all the family aspects in this book, as complicated and as hurtful as they are, Daunis stays very strong in the face of criticism and hate. I also loved so much how this story features the elderly community because they really should be honored and taken care of. It reminds me of how in my filipino culture the elderly are taken care of by family members, young and old, and I loved that. It made me realize how fortunate I was to be able to grow up with one set of grandparents and help take care of them before they passed. Daunis reveres the elders in her family and community and it is beautiful.
  • I thought the ending was beautiful and bittersweet. ❤️ Daunis is the best of her community, she embodies all the complications that natives and half natives live and feel day in and out. And no matter what challenges come, she deals with them with intellect, grace, strength, bravery, respect and knowledge from her Anishinaabe kwe upbringing.

Triggers: drug use, suicide, homicide, sexual assault, rape, kidnapping

  • Everything about this story is complicated including Daunis’ love life which is a fake relationship with blurred lines. I think it ended realistically since in reality she didn’t even know Jamie’s real name ~ I LOVE how Daunis was so mature enough to know that both of them needed time to grow a but before maybe pursuing something. And I adore the dream prophecy about her future as well.
  • This story is full of trauma. There are family scandals, tribal scandals, drug use/abuse, suicide murder, sexual assault, the history of native kids being taken to boarding schools without their parents consent, stories of women being abused, so much grief and trying to just heal from the injustices native people have endured for so, so long.
  • There is mention about Hawaii (a James Michener book I read in high school), and then UH Hawaii at Manoa and I loved seeing our state college get mentioned!

Everything about Daunis’ story in the Firekeeper’s Daughter drew me in and I cared about her and her family, no matter how complicated it was because the love is real. I love that we get to experience life through Daunis, a half white/half native young adult who wants the best for all the people she loves and the best for her community. I learned a lot about native life, some of the cultural aspects like pow wows and tribal council votes, casinos and per cap payouts. But underneath all that information you feel the struggle native americans feel to try and exist on the land their people had stolen from them with violence and oppression. I hope we get more native stories in books, tv and movies because their stories are important and need to be told. This is an honest and powerful story that is multi-layered, and must be read.

🔥 ~ Yolanda

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