Review | Stargazing by Jen Wang

Moon is everything Christine isn’t. She’s confident, impulsive, artistic . . . and though they both grew up in the same Chinese-American suburb, Moon is somehow unlike anyone Christine has ever known.

When Moon’s family moves in next door to Christine’s, Moon goes from unlikely friend to best friend―maybe even the perfect friend. The girls share their favorite music videos, paint their toenails when Christine’s strict parents aren’t around, and make plans to enter the school talent show together. Moon even tells Christine her deepest secret: that she sometimes has visions of celestial beings who speak to her from the stars. Who reassure her that earth isn’t where she really belongs.

But when they’re least expecting it, catastrophe strikes. After relying on Moon for everything, can Christine find it in herself to be the friend Moon needs?

New York Times–bestselling author-illustrator Jen Wang draws on her childhood to paint a deeply personal yet wholly relatable friendship story that’s at turns joyful, heart-wrenching, and full of hope.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

As I’ve enjoyed some of Jen Wang’s work before I was sure I would enjoy the art in this one, knowing that it had some personal elements to it made me even more excited to get to it. I was not disappointed at all with this one. Not only does it perfectly depict some of the struggles and emotions that young teens/tweens deal with when navigating friendships and finding their place among their peers – it also touched upon some large issues in the element that was Moon’s sudden health condition. I also really loved some of the cultural aspects that were included, such as different experiences that Asian Americans may have, as well as their family dynamics. There were moments that were joyful or funny but also some that tugged at the heart for both Christine and Moon while they figured out their emotions, friendships and life in general.

Happy reading!

Review | Soft Thorns II by bridgett devoue

Bestselling poet Bridgett Devoue shares insight and advice into the powerful world of unrequited love and abuse.  

Soft Thorns Vol. II is a continuation of the deep and emotional journey author Bridgett Devoue started with her debut poetry collection Soft Thorns. Similar to her first book, Devoue’s lyrical and comforting writing is perfectly complemented by gorgeous illustrations.  Focusing on themes of online bullying, abusive relationships, and unrequited love, Devoue’s topics resonate.  As she explores and elaborates on these issues over eight chapters of poems, the reader will discover all the knowledge and power to be gained from facing hardships head on. Soft Thorns Vol. II is for those who are struggling to reckon with their past, apprehensive of what is to come, and a little nervous about everything in between.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This poetry collection was absolutely beautiful, but also heart wrenching. Part of this may be that a lot of the subject matter and emotion woven into it really resonated with me and I could empathize since I’ve had similar feelings and experiences. Keep in mind before going in that there are definite trigger warnings for trauma, rape, rape culture and toxic relationships. I loved the language used and the imagery that was woven not only in words, but also in the illustrations that were peppered throughout the collection. This one really spoke to be and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a poetry collection that will make you sit with it and absorb as well as just power through it depending on your mood.

Review | Starfell: Willow Moss & the Lost Day by Dominique Valente

The ordinary becomes extraordinary in this sparkling first book in the Starfell series, a modern classic perfect for fans of Nevermoor and The Land of Stories.

Willow Moss’s small magic has always seemed unremarkable. But when the most feared witch in the land of Starfell appears on the Moss family’s doorstep looking for help, it’s not Willow’s talented sisters she seeks, it’s Willow. Because Willow is a finder of lost things—and Moreg Vaine says that last Tuesday has gone missing.

Willow and Moreg set out on a perilous journey across the wilds of Starfell, looking for what they’ve lost. If they don’t discover what happened to the missing day, the repercussions could be devastating for the entire kingdom.

Can Willow find the day, to save the day?

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Oh my heart – I loved this story about Willow who is able to find lost things (and doesn’t think that’s much of a magic power to have) going on a quest to find last Tuesday, which has gone missing. I immediately felt for Willow as you very quickly see how certain members of her family treat her because of how unremarkable they see her power, which reinforces Willow’s feelings. Throughout her adventure she meets a lot of interesting people and creatures and is able to grow and discover that maybe her power isn’t so bad after all. If you’re looking for a fast paced adventure with a young witch (especially if looking for alternatives to something else) this is a great one to pick up. Keep in mind there are trigger warnings for slight bullying and death of a loved one.

Happy reading!

Review | One Perfect Summer by Brenda Novak

When Serenity Alston swabbed her cheek for 23andMe, she joked about uncovering some dark ancestral scandal. The last thing she expected was to discover two half sisters she didn’t know existed. Suddenly, everything about her loving family is drawn into question. And meeting these newfound sisters might be the only way to get answers.

Serenity has always found solace at her family’s Lake Tahoe cabin, so what better place for the three women to dig into the mystery that has shaken the foundation each of them was raised on? With Reagan navigating romantic politics at her New York City advertising firm, and Lorelei staring down the collapse of her marriage, all three women are converging at a crossroads in their lives. Before the summer is over, they’ll have to confront the paths they walked to get there and determine how to move forward when everything they previously thought to be true was a lie.

But any future is easier to face with family by your side.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

For a summer read I felt this one really fit the bill. It was more than just a light fluffy read, but still had a lot of those elements that factor in to a summer or beach read. I thought the interactions between the three half sisters were really interesting, especially the fact that they didn’t immediately get along or bond. There were a couple elements that felt like they were left as loose ends, almost as if they were forgotten, which was a little frustrating. Each sister had her own struggles and personal issues that they were bringing to the table, which definitely factored in – which lent to the growth that each sister had throughout the story. The writing style flowed easily and made it a pretty quick paced read. Still, even though there were some things that I had some issues with it was a really enjoyable read.

Happy reading!

Cover Reveal | How to Survive a Modern-Day Fairy Tale by Elle Cruz

How to Survive a Modern-Day Fairy Tale
Elle Cruz
Published by: Entangled: Amara
Publication date: November 30th 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

This is no ordinary Cinderella story from #OwnVoices debut author Elle Cruz. Claire never believed in fairy tales—that is, until she met Nate—in this fun, flirty rom-com.

Claire Ventura is nothing like the poised and perfect heroines she reads about in her favorite romance novels. She’s a quirky, people-pleasing bookworm with a degree in Women’s Studies and an internet cookie decorator all rolled into a five-foot-two package fueled by chamomile tea.

And most of all, Claire loves her grandmother, Lola. Claire was always her favorite grandchild, and they shared a special bond. So when Lola inches into her nineties and Alzheimer’s starts chipping away at the vital and independent woman she used to be, the whole family dynamic starts shifting in a new direction.

Then Claire meets Nate, the CEO of a mega tech company, and he takes her to Paris. Hailed as the next Mark Zuckerberg, Nate is a fast-rising star in the tech industry, and he’s just fallen head-over-heels for Claire. Together, Claire and Nate must learn to navigate their personal and professional lives and, in the end, Nate proves to Claire that fairytale endings are really just the beginning.

Add to Goodreads


Author Bio:

Elle is a thirty-something Southern California native. In the daytime, she is a nurse practitioner. She earned her first undergraduate degree in English from the University of California, Irvine. She writes sexy contemporary romance with smart heroines, and sweet but strong love interests. She also writes young adult and middle grade under the name Erika Cruz.

Elle currently lives in Orange County, California with her husband and two young children.

Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Instagram


Hosted by:
XBTBanner1

Review | Ghosthunting Oregon by Donna Stewart

As part of the America’s Haunted Road Trip series, Ghosthunting Oregon takes readers along on a guided tour of some of the Beaver State’s most haunted historic locations. Local author Donna Stewart researched each location thoroughly before visiting, digging up clues for the paranormal aspect of each site.

In Ghosthunting Oregon, Stewart takes readers to some of the spookiest haunts across the state including: Oaks Park in Portland, where visitors have reported a ghostly apparition of a child in a 1920s or 1930s style dress; the O’Kane Building in central Oregon, where people have reported seeing “ghostly smoke” and strange lights; and Pioneer Park in Pendleton, where some have reported apparitions and hearing voices.

With a copy of Ghosthunting Oregon in hand, readers can visit some of the spookiest haunts across the state and compare their experiences.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I did really enjoy the unique spin that this book and books in the series have in that they focus specifically on places that are open to the public or able to be visited. Most of them allow tours or have options of staying. I really enjoyed the first half of the book, but the writing style became more dry and didn’t flow as well in the last few sections, which made it really hard for me to read. I liked that the author talked about the history of each place and looked at the lore with an objective eye. I also really liked that there are resources in the back if you want to visit these places, but I’m sure as time goes on some of these resources may become outdated. All in all I did enjoy learning about the different places, but as it went on the writing did let me down a bit.

Happy reading!

Can’t Wait Wednesday | 5/5

Can’t Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings based on the meme Waiting on Wednesday by Breaking the Spine. In this weekly post people share a book that they’re excited about being released.

This week I want to highlight Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim. I’ve been waiting for this one to come out for a long time and can’t wait to get my hands on it!

Shiori, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.

Raikama has dark magic of her own, and she banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.

Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and, on her journey, uncovers a conspiracy to overtake the throne—a conspiracy more twisted and deceitful, more cunning and complex, than even Raikama’s betrayal. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to contain—no matter what it costs her.

Happy reading!

Review | Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by debut author Joya Goffney is the story of an overly enthusiastic list maker who is blackmailed into completing a to-do list of all her worst fears. It’s a heartfelt, tortured, contemporary YA high school romance with epistolary elements. Fans of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Kristina Forest’s debut I Wanna Be Where You Are will love the juicy secrets, leap-off-the-page sexual tension and the enemy-to-lover romantic arc.

Quinn keeps lists of everything—from the days she’s ugly cried, to “Things That I Would Never Admit Out Loud,” to all the boys she’d like to kiss. Her lists keep her sane. By writing her fears on paper, she never has to face them in real life. That is, until her journal goes missing…

An anonymous account posts one of her lists on Instagram for the whole school to see and blackmails her into facing seven of her greatest fears, or else her entire journal will go public. Quinn doesn’t know who to trust. Desperate, she teams up with Carter Bennett—the last known person to have her journal—in a race against time to track down the blackmailer.

Together, they journey through everything Quinn’s been too afraid to face, and along the way, Quinn finds the courage to be honest, to live in the moment, and to fall in love. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

As someone who to this day carries notebooks around with them (and would be in a panic if I lost any of them) the premise of this one really intrigued me from the start. Quinn’s notebook comes across more as a journal, so that would make losing it all the worse. It’s apparent pretty quickly that Quinn has lots of areas where she could grow, her notebook contains a lot of things she’s scared about, dreams about and more and without it she has to learn how to gain courage and sometimes take chances to face her fears.

There are definite themes of racism, blackmailing, general high school pressures (including those from parents) and more. With everything that was packed into this book I almost felt like the romance wasn’t needed since there was so much more to unpack, but it was still a nice addition. All in all I really enjoyed this debut and would look forward to reading more from Joya Goffney in the future. The writing style flowed really well and made it a fast paced read for me.

Happy reading!

Wrap Up | April 2021

Hey everyone! It’s that time again and I have no idea what happened to April. It ended up being a far different month than I anticipated. I’m enjoying just a few bullet points for my wrap ups, so if you want to see all the books I read and my ratings on books that I read that I don’t necessarily cover on the blog – you are more than welcome to add me as a friend or follow me over on Goodreads. There are some books that I don’t always write up full reviews for, but I always rate them over there.

  • I only finished two of last month’s TBR books, but I’m ok with it. I did really enjoy them, so that’s what really matters.
  • I did not read any Nancy Drew books in April.
  • I did not make any progress on series that were ongoing, but started some new ones.
  • April was very much the month of graphic novels, so I read a ton of them!

I’m not sure what my favorite book of the month would be, I had lots of books that I really enjoyed. Even though it wasn’t my typical month, I did still complete 23 books, so I can’t complain.

How did everyone else’s April go?

Happy reading!

May TBR and Reading Plans

Hey everyone! It’s time to see what the cards picked for me this month. I only read two of my picks from last month sadly (April was a far different month than I thought it would be) but as always I’m carrying over what I didn’t read. I have a stack of the books still waiting from these picks, so I’m going to get to them.

  • Jack of Diamonds – under 300 pages
  • Four of Clubs – Mystery
  • Six of Hearts – Random Kindle
  • Two of Hearts – Fantasy
  • King – Stack of Five
  • Nine of Hearts – YA

For under 300 pages I selected a book I picked up non long ago but something that I was very excited for, Ghosthunting Oregon. I’m a sucker for history/ghost stories and this was an impulse buy in my local Barnes and Noble.

For Mystery I selected The Lost Apothecary, as I’m also really trying to get to my BotM picks since I have a ton of them left unread at this point. My random kindle pick was Lightfall, which spoiler alert if you saw my post yesterday – I have already finished! For fantasy I selected the first Starfell book since I do want to try and read a lot of middle grades in May, but also because I have wanted to get to this one ever since I picked it up.

Rich had just picked another book to go on the Stack of Five choices, which was Vampires Never Get Old, so I was glad to select that one. Finally for my YA pick I selected The Perfect Escape.

Rich and I made a few changes to the board this month, we switched out a few prompts that I didn’t really want on there anymore, so I’m excited for the new options to come up in the future.

So that’s what the cards determined for me this month! Hopefully I can get to these as well as some from previous months so that the stack can get smaller.

Happy reading!