1465 Padawans
91 Masters

Rashika, The Book Owl

So my name is Rashika and I am weird. I read a lot (duh) and I watch a lot of TV. I also like to review. Check out my blog (where I co-blog with awesome people).

Brain candy

Burning Midnight - Will McIntosh

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

I don’t know if I am being picky or if nothing is blowing my mind lately. Is it the book or ME? The thing is, Burning Midnight is a pretty great read but it also isn’t that substantial. This book is fantastic for a brain candy read when you just need to let go of the world and dive into an interesting world and a compelling plot.

So how did I feel? IDK, CAN SOMEONE TELL ME HOW I FELT? Google drive has the new voice feature where it lets you talk and type, but I don’t think that’ll help me put my feelings down on paper (or document in this case.) I finished the book with a smile on my face, feeling completely satisfied but a couple hours later, I kind of forgot about it because it was a thrilling read in the moment but didn’t have as much of an impact, afterwards.

David and Sully are the main characters of the story and I had a lot of fun following them along on their journey. Neither of these characters have a perfect life and as a result, they do get kind of greedy but they never pissed me off. They seemed realistic enough even though some of their decisions and their romance made cartoonish question marks appear out of my head.

I also thought this book had a great secondary characters and did a pretty decent job with diversity. The characters could have been more present so friendships would have played a bigger role but there was a positive parental unit in the book and that was great. David and his mom have a great relationship and are so cute.

The world building in this book is awesome. If you are curious about this book because it seems fantastical, your life is a lie. This book is more urban fantasy with an emphasis on the urban bit because the only magical thing about this book are the colorful spheres for which we don’t really get a history. Okay so when I said the world building was awesome, what I really meant was that it is engaging. I love the world the author has constructed because it is interesting and because I am drawn into the weirdness of it. it is so similar to our own but made so different by the existence of these magical spheres.

The plot is also basically what I want. Lots of adventure, and action mixed in with a scavenger hunt. BASICALLY MY LIFE. Which is why I had so much fun with this book.

I know I make it seem like this book isn’t a great read but it really is. It was a refreshing read and it was nice to read a book that just pulled me in and had me invested in the characters. Sometimes, you don’t need a book to blow your mind, you just need it to engage you and your brain.

Note: I apologize if you feel like this review isn't up to standards. I AM TOO SICK TO THINK PROPERLY.

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review


It made me hungry

Written in the Stars - Aisha Saeed

Written in the Stars is the kind of book that I should have loved but I didn't. Diversity? Check. Forbidden romance? Check. A female lead you want to root for? Check. So why didn’t I love it? For starters, it is written in a very simplistic middle grade style which is odd given the age of the characters and the things happening.


I also think the book is a lot more rushed than it should be. It takes a lot of time to build to the climax but not enough time is spent providing readers with a detailed resolution. We find out what happens in the epilogue but given the risk and the issues at hand, it would have been a lot nicer if more time were spent actually hashing that bit out.


I also struggled a lot with the cruelty of her parents because even though this is SUCH AN important issue and it happens a LOT, I also feel like the way the community was represented as a whole could have been done better? Not all south-east asian parents are trying to marry their kids off at the youngest age possible and are super conservative. If we got more positive depictions, I think it would have helped highlight the issue even more without stereotyping an entire community.


That said, I do think the author did a good job with exploring the issue of forced arranged marriages and how horrible they can be. In the second half of the book, Nalia’s emotions become so real and her pain  and it hurts. 


So overall, I would recommend this book to readers because the right people will fall in love and every story needs to be told & read.


problematic but I loved it

Riders - Veronica Rossi

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

Riders has been getting a lot of mixed reviews and I am here to tell you that your enjoyment of the book will depend heavily on your likes and dislikes when it comes to writing styles and narration. This book is narrated in a before and after and a good chunk of it is told in a summary like style so if that is something that is already turning you off, you might not want to read the book.

That writing style worked for me though and I thought it suited the book perfectly. I honestly don't think I would have enjoyed the book as much as I did were it NOT written this way.

I dove into the book with almost no knowledge of how others were reacting to the book and I barely remembered the blurb since all I knew was that it was by Veronica Rossi and that I wanted to read this book more than I wanted to do anything else.

Was it worth it? That is a really hard question because I absolutely love this book because it is such a me book but at the same time, there were little its and bits that bothered the crap out of me.

For starters this book has diversity but the way Marcus (who is black) is portrayed as dangerous and at times unhinged, really bothered me. That did change over the course of the book as the main character got to know him better but this initial characterization of Marcus did bother me. There were also some characteristics about Bas (who was latino) that seemed a little awkward but it wasn’t nearly as problematic as the way the main character initially saw Marcus.

A lot of your enjoyment of the book will depend on whether or not you like Gideon. I did for the most part. He is actually hilarious and honestly, we are similar in so many ways that I couldn’t help but relate to him. ALSO his leadership skills are great. Except when he gets ragey but he is war so it is a thing that happens unfortunately. His characterization is also very 'not like the other boys' and that--I imagine--can get old REAL fast.

This book is chock full of amazing characters who are ready to win your heart over with their amazingness. I will say though, Jode is one character I wish was fleshed out more. Because I could see myself loving him but I wasn’t attached enough to him to appreciate his character. Daryn is also an amazing character but I hated her as a love interest. I shipped Gideon with ANYONE ELSE. It’s just something about their dynamic. I liked them better as master and sensei than I did as l-o-v-e-r-s (okay so they technically aren’t that yet but they are in a weird relationship because neither of them wants to do anything about feels.)

The reason why this is a Rashika book though is all the adventure in the book. I AM RASHIKA. I like my adventures and especially love it when they come with a side of paranormal. I love how the plot is set up in terms of rising action and the world building in this book definitely helps set up that feeling of adventure (although still not okay with the religion bits but that is a rant for another day.)

So to recommend or not to recommend? I say look at that pretty cover and let that be answer enough for you because that book will look gorgeous on all shelves if I do say so myself. Also, I really really really liked it and my body is ready for book 2.

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review


The romantic drama made this one a lot harder to enjoy

Banished (Forbidden) - Kimberley Griffiths Little

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

I am now officially calling 2016 the year of the meh books because I have yet to read a book that has truly blown my mind and makes me want to roll around in the mud with joy. Banished is by no means a bad book, I would actually say that on the whole, it was a lot better than its predecessor but my problem with the book and what prevented me from loving it was the shit ton of romantic drama.

Romantic drama is the bane of my existence. Why cannot two people love each other and that be it? Why is it that there has to be 50000000 complications before my otp can be together? UGH. I am okay with *some* drama as long as I get groveling but when the main couple basically faces a new hurdle every couple of pages, I cannot. I want my couples to be able to work together as a team and trust each other. Trust is IMPORTANT and my rant is starting to get out of hand so let me pull myself together. Give me a second. I am alive. Okay. So within the context of this book (can you tell that the drama frustrated me?), I just wanted Jayden and Kadesh’s reunion to be a sweet one rather than them forming another fragile relationship after everything they had been through in Forbidden.

Now that I have that major rant out of the way I can calm the fuck down (to some extent) and talk about everything else in the book. WE GO ON A JOURNEY. And I like journeys so I really liked that aspect of the book. The stakes were super high and it was so so fun (I am a closet thrill-junkee…. SHHHHH.)

Jayden has also come so far since Forbidden. Her strength was admirable in Forbidden but it always seemed a little naive. In Banished; however, Jayden has matured so much that I just wanted to hug her and tell her I was proud. What? All characters are secretly my children. Kadesh on the other hand did not fair as well. He was still swoony but the fact that he chose to keep things a secret because he wasn’t ready to deal with issues was not a good thing. I realize he kept them a secret not because he didn’t think Jayden was ready because he wasn’t ready (which is better than nothing) but I was not satisfied. I am going to stop right here because otherwise, I will go on another long rant about romance stuff since that seriously disappointed me.

The setting also continues to be amazing. This time we got to see even more of the world and that made me happy since world building is always really important. I did notice that religion became a part of this story in a way it wasn’t in Forbidden. Or maybe I just noticed it more? It wasn’t like shoved down our throats which is nice but I also felt like the way religion was done wasn’t necessarily accurate given the era? I don’t want to say more because again, things get out of hand when I go on and on about something completely off topic. I am just really bad, aren’t I? You should all treat yourselves to chocolate if you are still here and reading my review. YOU HAVE EARNED IT.

So what else can I talk about? The ending? YOU MEAN THAT THING THAT HAD ME BITTING MY NAILS AND MAKES ME WANT TO BEG THE AUTHOR FOR BOOK 3? yeah that thing. it was okay I guess. *flips hair and walks out*

But on a serious note, if you are looking for a book set in a completely different time period, this is it. You have come to the right place, the Mesopotamian setting of the series is what appealed to me in the first place and now here I still am because the characters and the great plots keep me coming back for more.

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review


Seriously disappointing

Revenge and the Wild - Michelle Modesto

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

After reading and loving three YA westerns last year, I expected Revenge and the Wild to be another winner but sadly, I was let down. I went into this book expecting my mind to be blown and was ready to fall in love but that didn’t end up happening. Instead, I was very disappointed.

One of the biggest problems with the book is that it isn’t very consistent. This could be because I am reading the eARC as opposed to the final copy but while I was reading the book, there were many details that would come out of nowhere and left me feeling confused. It seemed like things were being pulled from thin air and there wasn’t a lot of consistency throughout the text.

The main character was an okay human being and I liked how independent she was (without having to crossdress to be free) but I hated the way her alcoholism was treated in the book. For starters, I would have liked a better background but also just a more realistic struggle with alcoholism. I didn’t want it to be something that was meant to add to her character, I wanted the alcoholism to be explored and given the attention it deserved. Instead, it just became a deus ex machina and that was really disappointing.

On top of that (if you heard me rant on social media you might already know this) this book puts forward a very uncomfortable idea of sex. The main character describes sex as a gift to be given and that was not something I was okay with. Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting your first experience to be special but the way this scene was written made the main character seem extremely passive. As if, her enjoyment was not important at all and it also seemed to imply that a sexual encounter is not worth having if it isn’t super special. THAT IS A LIE and definitely not what I would describe as sex positive.

So, going back to the main character. Every guy seems to be in love with her? I wouldn’t necessarily describe the situation as a love rectangle but there are a lot of men vying for her attention even if she is clearly in love with one of them. I didn’t understand that but I am also just generally opposed to every guy being interested in the MC. There is something very off-putting about that.

The ‘main’ romance in the book was actually pretty decent until the love interest--Alistair-- gives a shit explanation for why he was a douche for all those years. Then I was just like why?!?! It was the worst excuse in the entire universe and Alistair deserves to be punched in the face for his pathetic excuses.

Moving on, the world building in this book was actually pretty awesome-sauce and I liked the way magic mingled with the wild west. There were some references to things that happened in real life which just helped add to the world. I will say that I do wish the storyline with the natives had gone another way. The author uses them to make many valid points but I would have been so happy if they were an even bigger part of the novel (especially since they contribute so much to the world of this book.)

The plot of this book did seem all over the place though. There seem to be a bunch of inter-related things going on but the various pieces of the puzzle didn’t fit together as well as they could have. There was also this twist at the end that just creeped me out. It could have been a really good twist but given everything else that had happened, I was seriously weirded out by it.

Would I recommend this book? If anything I mentioned in my review is off putting to you, you might want to steer clear but I do know that many reviewers whose opinions I trust have enjoyed this book so perhaps you might too!

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review


Angsty but awesome

We Are The Ants - Shaun David Hutchinson

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

If you like confusing books where you’re never sure about what is actually going on, We are the Ants is for you. This is an incredibly well-written book that will tell you a lot of things that might or might not be true. The real mystery is trying to figure out what the fuck is up with Henry Denton.

Henry Denton is not the perfect male lead. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if some people didn’t like him at all. But I DID. Henry Denton is SO imperfect he is real. He has been given the choice of saving all humanity but he doesn’t want to. He doesn't think humanity is worth it. He doesn’t think HE is worth it. Henry Denton has suffered through many horrible things in his short life time and they have all made him believe that he is the one at fault, and the reason why all bad things happen. Which we know isn’t true, but he doesn’t. When his boyfriend killed himself, he cut himself off from his friend(s) and he continues to be bullied at school. He is a social pariah, constantly mocked and bullied and it is HEART BREAKING. And he doesn’t just magically wake up one day and realize that he is deserving. It is a long process and at times, we aren’t even sure Henry will get there. His character development is stunning and I loved watching him, with the help of various awesomesauce people, come to realize his own worth.

One of my other favorite things about this book are all the other characters. Hutchinson does a great job with making them imperfectly perfect. There is no right and wrong with his characters. He will make you feel bad for the vicious bully, for the mean brother, for everyone. And really, there is a fine line between good and bad and most people aren’t either.  They are that fine line.

The relationships in this book are also amazing and I loved watching them develop. I loved seeing Henry interact with his brother and watching their relationship morph into something amazing over the course of the book. I loved seeing Henry reach out to Audrey and watching them built their relationship from the ruins and most of all I LOVED DIEGO AND HENRY.

So yes, there are a lot of things to love about this amazing book. It’s A BIG BOOK (at 464 pages) but I read it in 3.5 hours so it’s also a very fast read. It sucks you in and makes you want to know more about the aliens (because aliens) and you want to know more about Henry and there is just so much about this book that is great. Including Henry’s grandma who is awesomesauce.

If you’re still not sure about this book, I am not sure anything I can say will help because I have run out of words (and my rambling is mostly incoherent) and will fail to do this book justice. All I can say is that We Are the Ants is an amazing book. It can be angsty in ways that might make you uncomfortable but hey, sometimes books make you uncomfortable and you still love them.

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review


Complicated romance that is worth it in the end!

Listen To The Moon - Rose Lerner

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

Marriage of convenience? A romance between people of the serving class as opposed to aristocracy? YES PLEASE. When I read the blurb for Listen to the Moon, I knew I needed this book in my life and was excited to read it especially since I loved A Lily Among Thorns. I wasn’t even really surprised that I ended up loving this one.

My main issue with the book was that towards the end, there was a little too much drama and angst for my tastes but that’s really about it.

I didn’t know going into the book that the two MCs would have a huge age gap and I was a little nervous because age-gaps can either be gross or so well-done that you forget about it. The romance was really neither of those. Lerner did not shy away from exploring the weirdness of a relationship where there is an giant age difference. The romance between John and Sukey is awkward and hard but also full of so much compassion and understanding. They aren’t a perfect couple but they are perfect for each other. I LOVE this about the romance. I love that there are some real misunderstandings that arise from both of them feeling as though they cannot communicate with one another. This isn’t just plain-ole miscommunication, it’s so much more than that.

Even though John clearly has feelings for Sukey, he sometimes has a hard time treating her like an equal since she is so much younger than he is. He ends up treating her like a little girl and Sukey, for her part, also acts like one. She wants to be comforted and protected, but also wants to be treated as an equal. Throughout the book these two struggle to find a balance in their relationship and it’s GREAT seeing them do that. Also, it is a marriage of convenience but they don’t fall in love with each other a few weeks later. It’s actually kind of awesome. A couple weeks into their marriage, John even states that he isn’t quite in love with Sukey but can see himself falling into love. It’s so great that it isn’t a denial of his feelings but more of him admitting to really care about Sukey while also stating that he isn’t quite in love yet. HOW MANY TIMES DOES THIS HAPPEN and isn’t a denial? Not a lot in my experience.

As you can probably surmise, these two undergo a LOT of character development over the course of the book and it is AMAZING. Who doesn’t love character development? YAY.

Listen to the Moonis definitely one of the better historical romances I’ve read and if you’re looking to read an HR with a romance that is messy, complicated and totally worth it in the end, Listen to the Moon

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

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I really liked this one except when it was being offensive

Trouble is a Friend of Mine - Stephanie Tromly

***This review has also been posted on Xpresso Reads

If you like your Sherlock re-tellings full of lots of wit, humor and fun; Trouble is a Friend of Mine is for you. This book was SO MUCH fun to read. I was giggling most of the time, I liked the characters, I liked the plot, I liked the relationships. This was a great brain candy book but my problem with the book was how ignorant and privileged the characters were.

We are constantly reminded that the characters live in a very white neighborhood with no diversity and I would assume that that would at least mean that the MCs weren’t completely ignorant and flippant about certain issues but that’s sadly not true. Even though Zoe moved from NYC, a very diverse city, to a white suburban neighborhood. It isn’t just a case of slut shaming (although that is definitely present) though. There are some very privileged attitudes in this book about class, prison (and the entire system) and just diveristy as a whole. Philip Digby even mocks what it means to be a transgender teen and reduces that experience to stereotypes in movies. That actually hurt because Philip Digby is a great character, I expected more from both of these characters.

So, given all those issues, WHY did I like the book? Well for starters, it’s one of the few (if not the only) Sherlock retelling I’ve read that actually addresses mental health. I wish mental health had been explored a little more in the book than merely being stated, but I love that Digby’s habits aren’t just attributed to ‘quirks.’

Also Zoe’s relationship with her mother was kind of awesome. Zoe constantly berates her for not being a good parent but I love the ways in which the author makes the reader aware of the fact that Zoe’s perception might not necessarily be true.

My favorite thing was that even though Digby and Zoe were solving the mystery by themselves, they actually had help from adults. WHO WEREN’T THE ENEMIES. I know. I KNOW. And when I saw adults, I mean police adults. I was really excited about that. Especially since the two characters we met were hilarious and great. This made it a lot easier to believe in the plot and the mystery. Everything mixed together very well and the author connected the various threads together beautifully.

The characters, when they weren’t being ignorant, were also pretty great. I loved seeing Zoe find her place in a community where she felt left out of and I liked that over the course of the book her attitude changed from “Not like the other girls” to “they aren’t so bad.” Baby steps? Philip is also adorable and I’d really like to find out more about him in a sequel.

I definitely had issues with this book but I still think it’s a great read if you’re looking for something light to get you through the day or if you need a palette cleanser. It’s so cute and quick!

Note that I received a finished copy of this book in exchange for an honest review


really really disappointing

The Edge - Roland Smith

It’s been so long since I read Peak but I remember it fondly. Unfortunately, this sequel did NOT live up to my memory of Peak. I love a fast-paced adventure but this one didn’t do much for me. It was quick and easy to read but that's pretty much it.



For starters, I think this book needed more development. Everything happened too fast and the tension was never the right amount. As a result, I wasn’t as invested in what was happening. I also found the entire situation unbelievable. A lot of things didn’t add up and there were way too many loopholes. For example, the climber from Australia is some guy who cannot even climb but the entire event is supposed to be full of professional young adult climbers. Could they not find a single kid who knew how to climb in Australia? I am just like woah.



Peak, for the most part was an okay kid, but he said some obnoxious things that made me wonder whether or not he lived under a rock (yes I am trying to be punny.) I guess when you’re a child prodigy, anything is a possible…



Maybe pass this one if you, like me, haven’t read Peak in years. Or if you haven’t read either, Peak might be something cool to try! Mountain climbing for the win!


Best Sarah Fine book

The Impostor Queen - Sarah Fine

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

Sarah Fine is one of my favorite authors and so far, I’ve read 5 books by her (and need to read a bunch more to complete series but I am not ready to say goodbye because that’s how I roll.) The Impostor Queen is hands down my favorite book that Sarah Fine has ever written. This book is AMAZING and shows how much Sarah has grown as a writer. She always crafted amazing worlds and fantastic characters but she goes above and beyond with this book. The Impostor Queen, simply put, blew my fucking mind. This book has magic, diversity and awesomeness. What else could I want?

Elli is our wonderful, clueless, naive female lead. Or at least that is what she is at the beginning of the novel. She has blindly followed the Elders of Kupari, and never questioned them. That is, until her powers don’t manifest when the Valtia dies. She is forced to flee (or die) when this happens and leave her first love, Mim behind. She has no skills though and no way to fend for herself and there are consequences for this (which is great because I am so tired of clueless MCs magically surviving the wild without any injuries.)

Over the course of the novel, Elli blooms and develops as a character. She steps outside of the privileged world she was raised in and adapts to the new world she finds herself in. Her transition is so fantastic and I LOVED seeing her try to figure out her place in this new world.

The world of this novel is beautifully built. Sometimes, with fantasy, it feels like you are re-entering different variations of a similar world but I never felt that way with The Impostor Queen.Sarah took the world and made it her own. The way magic works in this world, the prophecies, the hierarchies, EVERYTHING.

You might know me as the kid who is impatient and tends to like fast paced action but Fine is just fabulous (I feel like a broken record right now since I’ve said this so many times.) The way she paces the novel is wonderful. The plot develops nicely and there are enough things going on at any given point, enough mysteries to figure out that the book pretty much had my full attention from the start until I turned the last page with my emotions overflowing.

Also, because I love diversity, I AM JUST SO HAPPY that this book features it. Fine has always done a fantastic job of featuring diverse characters in her books (which is also why she is amazeballs) but this is the first fantasy I’ve read that featured an MC that wasn’t straight (I have read fantasies that feature lgbtqia+ characters but never the main character...unless of course, I am forgetting a book in which case, oops?) I know there are a bunch more out there but it is SO important to have all sorts of diversity across all genres and I am glad that diversity is starting to show itself in fantasy. The only real qualm I have is that I wish Elli’s relationship with Mim was explored a little bit more.

That said, the romance in this book is wonderful. Oscar is a cute little gruff and I have feels. He is a little rough around the edges but he cares deeply for those that matter to him and he is never an asshole. Yes, we do have a winner here.

If you are a fan of fantasy, this book is 100% worth checking out when it comes out next month. It is well written, well developed, and remarkable. It’s definitely a favorite book of the year and one I won’t fail to recommend and push at people’s faces.

Note that I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review


Not as great as the Elemental series

Thicker Than Water - Brigid Kemmerer

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

Brigid Kemmerer’s novels are some of the best brain candy out there. They are always so much fun to read, so engaging, and I am always drawn in from the very start. As much as I enjoyedThicker than Water though, it wasn’t nearly as awesome as Kemmerer’s Elemental series.

Thomas was a great character to read about but the book kept trying to paint him as mysterious and I just couldn’t see it. Charlotte kept talking about how mysterious he was, and how people wouldn’t be so vicious if he weren’t a mystery but I was like whaaat? HE ISN’T mysterious. That was partially because I got to be inside his head but also, nothing about him, even from Charlotte’s POV screams mysterious. He is just a kid in a REALLY awful situation.

This brings me to said awful situation. I hated it. I hated that every single person blamed Thomas for his mother’s death and was so AWFUL to him. At one point, I wondered how the book could end in any other way besides Thomas bidding every single person in this book a fuck you and driving off into the sun with 1,000,000 dollars in hand as compensation for his troubles. Kemmerer always writes incredibly family dynamics but I couldn’t appreciate Charlotte’s family as much as I would have if they weren’t such butts when it came to Thomas.

With everyone being so awful to Thomas, I couldn’t understand why Charlotte believed him so easily. Why was she the only sane one? Because he was hot? Because it was logical to not accuse someone of being a murderer at their mother’s funeral? There was such a stark contrast in reactions that it threw me off. I think a more mellowed hate would have helped. This is also one of the reasons why I enjoyed Thomas’s POV more than I did Charlotte’s and also liked Thomas better.

My other problem was the twist. I definitely did NOT like it.Kemmerer does a fantastic job with foreshadowing just the right amount so that it isn’t quite obvious but isn’t random but I didn’t want the twist (does that make sense or do I sound like an annoying child who doesn’t like things?) The twist isn’t surprising but it also completely changes the novels in ways that didn’t work for me. It’s the kind of thing I would want introduced earlier on or not at all.

Having said all of that, I’d be lying if I said I didn't have a shit ton of fun reading this book. The small town, the mystery, everything about this novel drew me in had me flying through the pages. I wanted to know who HAD murdered Thomas's mother and I think Kemmerer did a fantastic job with that part of the reveal. She also blew my doubts about her ability to wrap everything up in a satisfying manner out of the water.

So, if you’re a fan of her Elemental series, definitely check Thicker Than Water out. If you haven’t read them, GET ON IT. If you’re curious about this book, GIVE IT A SHOT. That is all, folks. *drops the mic and leaves the stage*

Note that I received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review



Anna and the Swallow Man - Gavriel Savit

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

I don’t read a lot of historical fiction but I absolutely adore middle grade novels so when I heard about Anna and the Swallow Man, I knew I was going to have a lot of feels and would probably need a lot of tissues. The book; however, turned out to be not exactly what I expected. When I read the blurb, I thought that Anna and the Swallow Man would be right in the middle of the war instead of spending their time skirting its edges. Don’t get me wrong, you can tell that there is a war going on and the war definitely impacts their life, it’s just I thought their circumstances would be different.

Having said that, Anna and the Swallow Man is a beautiful, lyrical book and one I wouldn’t fail to recommend to someone who really wants to be sucker punched in their feels (because who doesn’t want that?)

Here are a bunch of reasons to read this book

1. Anna. She is one of the saddest main characters I’ve read in middle grade and Savrit works magic in the way he writes her. She is a very aware child but the way Savrit writes her constantly reminds readers that she IS a child no matter how smart she is. It’s why my heart constantly broke for her and her struggle.

2 Secondary Characters. The Swallow Man is a wonderfully complex character. He, at the beginning of the novel, is someone who comes off as a savior but as the novel progresses, we find out that there is a whole lot more to him. He isn’t a perfect character and there were parts during the middle of the book where I wanted the ground to swallow him whole (I am so clever) because he was really getting to me. By the end of the novel, I liked him as a character since there is SO much to him. Reb Hirschl one the other hand was my favorite character in the world. Okay perhaps not in the world but in this book, yes. He broke my heart a million times over and made me smile like no one else in the book.

3. The Journey. Or the journey to nowhere as it should more accurately be called. Throughout the entire book, Anna and the Swallow Man are walking to somewhere yet we don’t know where. The Swallow Man tells Anna that they are trying to find a bird that is almost extinct but a lot of the time, they just seem to go on and on in circle. Their journey is full of many hardships and even though they are never in the middle of the war, the war is never forgotten. It impacts them when they run out of food and slowly start to starve, it impacts them when they attempt to cross German borders, it impacts them when they come upon mass graves. Even though the story doesn’t seem to be about the war, it IS. Savrit weaves in the war into their journey and as the war rages on, we become more and more aware of the horrible affects the war has. The book spirals into darkness and starts to tear open our hearts. It loses its innocent charm and turns into something darker.

So hopefully I have convinced you to read this book… if not OOPS? I TRIED, OKAY. I did my best. I am going to go home and sleep now because emotions.

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review


Because re-reading fav books is awesome

American Born Chinese - Gene Luen Yang

I was in 8th grade when I first read American Born Chinese. I loved it but re-reading this book took my love to a whole new level. So what prompted this re-read you ask? Well, I was reading The Arrival, another great graphic novel, for one of my classes and then suddenly, I remembered ABC. I remembered the yellowness of the cover and I remembered the way the author weaved together 3 completely different stories in such a surprising way and then I wanted to re-read the book. I wanted to experience it from a more ‘grown up’ perspective.

I kind of want to make re-reading the book an annual thing for myself now because I have so much love for it. American Born Chinese deals with cultural identity, bullying, stereotypes and learning to love who YOU are.

Jin Wang moves from China Town, San Francisco to a school where he is the only Chinese-American kid in his class. The teacher basically gets his entire life story wrong on the first day and makes it evident to him how much he sticks out. As the years go by, he seems to become more and more self-conscious of all the stereotypes surrounding his culture and how that affects the way people view him.

His story runs parallel to the Monkey King's and the two stories interact in such interesting ways! Of course everything about this book is interesting to me but we won’t go down that rabbit hole.

So do I recommend this book? HECK YEAH I DO! Also if you’re a fan of Fresh off the Boat, this book would be a great read.


I liked it but it could have been a whole lot better

The Devil's Engine: Hellraisers - Alexander Gordon Smith

Immediate Reaction After Finishing Book


Hellraisers drew me in because of its intriguing premise and while I loved the world building I never managed to fall in love with the book. There is definitely potential in the series and by the end of the book, I was hooked, I just wanted more from the book as a whole.

What I Liked

  • World building. The idea of a machine that can grant any wish at a cost is so intriguing and the author totally did this idea justice. My favorite bits in the novel were when we got to learn more about the machine and it’s powers. I love the way it isn’t just a fantastical thing but that it becomes scientific in the way engineers and lawyers approach it,
  • Lack of romance. If there had been a romance it would have been instalove and I am glad that it didn’t happen. It could but right now, all we have is an unrequited crush and that’s fun too because then we get to see a relationship develop as opposed to a romance that doesn’t make sense.


What could have been better (i.e. things that were just okay)

  • The Characters. I had a really hard time relating to the main character, Marlow. I also didn’t like Pan, the other main character. Marlow was hard to relate to because he had no drive. This characteristic is essential to his character so I don’t know if my annoyance is a good thing or not, I do know that I wanted to shake him most of the time. It’s why his development doesn’t do much for me. Also he totally mistreated Charlie--his best friend--and it pissed me off. My problem with Pan was that she transitions too quickly from an ice-queen to someone who has too many feelings and it made her development almost unbelievable to me. It’s kind of hard to explain and I am doing a bad job at explaining anyway so I am going to stop.
  • The pacing/plot. I didn’t like that it took half of the book for us to finally be introduced to the world of the engine. I did like the realisticness of Marlow’s reactions but I was so excited to just see the world of the engine (the lawyers, engineers, the actual engine, etc.) that his inability to believe started rubbing on me. This is mostly a ‘me’ thing since I am impatient and prefer when things move quickly (although not too quickly because if a book is rushed then that’s no fun at all.) The plot was also paced weirdly in that the first half of the book took forever and the second half seemed to fly by, almost too quickly. I also felt like there wasn’t a proper overarching plot? Like I had no real idea where the book was going until the end, not because there was some major twist that changed my entire perception of the novel but because there wasn’t always consistency throughout the novel.


The difference between the ‘What I liked’ and the ‘What Could Have Been Better’ might make you think I mostly didn’t like the book but that isn’t true. I liked it okay, it’s just that nothing about it really grabbed at me and made me go WOWZA, THIS IS AMAZEBALLS and that’s kind of what I expected given the novel's amazing blurb. The ending did really up the stakes though so I am going to continue with the series and see what awaits for these characters in the future novels.


This book = Feels + characters + great relationships + diversity

The Smell of Other People's Houses - Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Reasons why I read the book: Title + cover + setting + time period.

Reasons why I loved the book: Feels + characters + great relationships + diversity

The Smell of Other People’s Houses is actually not about some weird person that goes around sniffing other people's houses. It is a profound book about families, relationships and the interconnectedness of a community.

I don’t usually like multiple point of views and while I think some of the transitions between them could have been neater, I actually liked all of the characters and enjoyed being inside their minds. The characters don’t have much in common besides the community they are part of/will become a part of and don’t even really hang out with each other, but the way their stories interwine is amazing.

This may seem like a feel-good book but it really isn’t. It’s heartbreaking. 3 out of 4 of the main characters come from heartbreaking backgrounds and their journey to finding a place within this community isn’t easy.

Ruth has to deal with teen pregnancy and this constant feeling of not being loved. Dora is trying to escape from her awful home and although she has found a new, loving family, she cannot embrace them because she still thinks it’s too good to be true. Hank runs away from home with his brothers to give them a new beginning, but he loses one of his brothers. Alyce on the other hand is just trying to find a place in her own family. Her parents got divorced and summer is the only time she gets to see her father so she is torn between wanting to stay with him and following her dreams.

Things do wrap up a little too easily at the end of the book but it did not keep me from enjoying the nice warmness this book brings about when these characters find their place and begin to understand the world in a way they hadn’t before.

I would recommend this book to everyone that wants to cuddle up with a book on a cold winter night that will warm them up as much as any cup of hot cocoa.

Shout out to my Public Library for lending me this copy for review purposes!


Too rushed

Forbidden - Eve Bunting

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

Oh, Forbidden. I wanted to love you so much and I am sorry that this didn’t work out. I imagine, in an alternate universe, if you were more detailed and not so rushed, I could have loved you, but you weren't, and so our story must end.

My lamenting aside, I am really disappointed. There were so many interesting things going on in this book but everything was SO RUSHED. I wanted details, I wanted a build-up, actual character development, all of the things but didn't get nearly enough of any of them.

For starters, the main character was really hard to connect to. Whenever Josie did anything, she’d think about how improper it was and how much Mrs Chandler would disapprove. Mrs Chandler, by the way, isn’t even a real person. IT’S A BEHAVIORAL GUIDE for young ladies. I am all up for characters who aren’t traditionally strong and badass, but I don’t want to read about a character who cannot do anything without thinking about a behavioral guide. Even when she becomes ‘strong’ and ready to let go of all the stupid claims, she refers to Mrs Chandler. *shakes head*

Then there is the romance that comes out of nowhere. That is one of the things I was most excited about because I love me a forbidden romance but there was no romance. Sure there were ‘I Love Yous’ but there was literally no development. One minute she finds the guy sketchy and the next she cannot live without him? How did that jump happen? She even admits to not knowing him but somehow she can be in love and NOT know him? How does that even work?

This brings me to the love interest, who is mysterious but so mysterious we don’t find out anything about him. Also, I don’t think he and Josie ever have a conversation that is straightforward. It’s usually him being elusive, mysterious and vague and her falling for it.

One thing I did love about this book was that it is incredibly atmospheric. Right from the start, you can tell that something weird is going on. Something you don’t want the main character to be involved in, but it’s not like she can listen to us yelling on the other side for her to RUN FOR HER LIFE.

Then we find out what is going on behind the scenes and it is kind of really awful, but I wish we got more details. I wish the build-up was more clear, I wish there was more than just one scene where this awful thing takes place. I wanted more.

The same goes for the resolution to this conflict. Too rushed. Not detailed. Just plain sad.

The way the novel ended was really interesting and something I liked but because of the lack of details throughout the novel, it did not have the emotional impact on that it would have otherwise. I remained detached from the happenings of the novel with only the mystery keeping me glued to the pages. This book could have been great, mind blowing even, but it wasn’t because it was rushed. And hey, I like my quick reads but I don’t like them when it takes away from actual development.

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review