One Last Stop | An ARC Review

Hiya! Today I’ll be reviewing One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston. Enjoy!

**I received an advanced readers copy via Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

(Synopsis from goodreads)

For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures. But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train. Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.

The original premise of One Last Stop excited me. However, it never really stood out as something out of the ordinary. A time travel love story is something I see a lot within the science fiction genre. I was actually quite interested to see how the plot would be executed. On top of that, I was very eager to read the book due to all the hype surrounding it. Unfortunately though, One Last Stop fell extremely flat. 

Saniya, how could you?! Yes, yes, I know, it’s a popular book and I am very happy for the author. No one wanted a 2> star review for One Last Stop. BUT, this was dare I say, really bad. Before you scream at me in the comments, allow me to explain myself…

Let’s start with the characters. Our two MCs August and Jane felt very two dimensional, and had an even more superficial relationship. Aside from Jane liking punk rock music, the two seemed to have no personality. Because of this, I was unable to root for them. 

Luckily, I enjoyed reading about Myla! She was eccentric and book smart, which is one of the best combinations possible if you ask me. The other side characters didn’t keen my interest at all though. Thus when almost 80% of the book was August interacting with the side characters, I couldn’t bring myself to care about their conversations. Furthermore, I also felt as though there were too many people being introduced into the story. Henceforth why I quickly became overwhelmed as more characters were introduced. 

In addition, the dialogue was one aspect I had a tough time with. August and her roommates seemed to talk about rather pointless things that added nothing to the plot. I would have been completely fine with this if the dialogue was actually amusing or intriguing. However, the snarky remarks came off as odd and unfunny instead. 

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The writing is where I had another huge issue with. There was an abundance of rambling that added nothing but ~length~ to the story. The chapters were also incredibly long, and it felt like a chore to push through the book. The time travel aspect also made absolutely no sense at all. This led to me being confused and uninterested.

Overall, One Last Stop was an unenjoyable read for me. The story dragged on way too much, and the jokes just weren’t funny. Despite disliking the book, I recommend this to all the Casey McQuiston fans out there!

Age Rating: 16 and up

TW: Drinking, depression, anxiety, familial death, familial estrangement, missing persons

Final Rating: 3.5/10 or 1.75 stars

⭐⭐

Have you read One Last Stop? If so, what did you think of it? Have a lovely day, and thank you for reading!

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We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This | An ARC Review

Hi all! I hope you are well. Today I bring you my review for We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon. Enjoy!

**I received an advanced readers copy via Netgalley and Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

We Can't Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon

(Synopsis from goodreads)

Quinn Berkowitz and Tarek Mansour’s families have been in business together for years: Quinn’s parents are wedding planners, and Tarek’s own a catering company. At the end of last summer, Quinn confessed her crush on him in the form of a rambling email—and then he left for college without a response. Quinn has been dreading seeing him again almost as much as she dreads another summer playing the harp for her parents’ weddings. When he shows up at the first wedding of the summer, looking cuter than ever after a year apart, they clash immediately. Tarek’s always loved the grand gestures in weddings—the flashier, the better—while Quinn can’t see them as anything but fake. Even as they can’t seem to have one civil conversation, Quinn’s thrown together with Tarek wedding after wedding, from performing a daring cake rescue to filling in for a missing bridesmaid and groomsman. Quinn can’t deny her feelings for him are still there, especially after she learns the truth about his silence, opens up about her own fears, and begins learning the art of harp-making from an enigmatic teacher. Maybe love isn’t the enemy after all—and maybe allowing herself to fall is the most honest thing Quinn’s ever done.

This book will punch you in the gut, but in the best way possible. 

Incredibly poignant and heart-wrenching, Rachel Lynn Solomon delivers a young adult contemporary unlike any other. To start off, the book wasn’t predictable at all, which is quite rare for me in terms of YA romance. Furthermore, the initial plot of We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This had me thinking this would just be a romantic comedy, and boy was I wrong! This was such a rich novel, whose characters laid bare on the page.

Speaking of characters, despite not throwing in a gazillion references to pop cultures, the book’s characters are immensely relatable. Seventeen year old Quinn Berkowitz hates grand gestures. Eighteen year old Tarek Mansour on the other hand? It’s all he knows romance to be. The story essentially follows Quinn’s life as she navigates love (it wouldn’t be a Rachel Solomon book without it), family life, and the future. I  must say, the experiences Quinn goes through really had me all over the place. Despite disliking Quinn, (I found her to be extremely infuriating), she feels so real as a character. Moreover, Tarek was the absolute sweetest! His character was so endearing. Tarek loves baking, and of course, rom-coms. What I found to be quite refreshing is that despite being a guy, he loves romance. His infatuation in it is something I have strictly only seen in female protagonists, so it was definitely a nice change of pace. Unfortunately though, I could never really understand what Tarek saw in Quinn. When he was basically head over heels for Quinn, she didn’t reciprocate even 50% of that energy despite having a huge crush on him. Admittedly, this made me dislike her a lot more.

On a more positive note, an aspect of We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This that I absolutely adored was the representation. Quinn is Jewish, and lives with OCD. Tarek is Muslim, and lives with eczema, and depression. I can’t speak on how accurate the OCD, Jewish, or depression representation was. However, I am someone that lives with eczema and is Muslim. In terms of eczema rep, I think it was represented quite accurately. As for the Muslim rep, I didn’t feel represented in it at all. But that’s okay! Not every Muslim person is the same.

In addition, the dialogue is where it really hit me. It was just too good! The interactions Quinn and Tarek have are so genuine. They fight, they grieve, they love, and here I am tearing up, witnessing their whirlwind of emotions.

The story is told through Quinn’s point of view, and is written very smoothly. There aren’t any clunky paragraphs, and no typos either. Although, I will say that some chapter transitions seemed as though they had cut off mid scene. Moreover, Tarek and Quinn had a very on and off relationship. At times, it felt much too repetitive. Nevertheless, the writing style was very charming, which is always a plus!

The overall enjoyment level of We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This is, is very high. It explores various aspects such as mental health, relationships, consent, and so much more! We rarely get to see these topics compiled into a single novel, and that my friends is what makes this book a must read for all. 

Age Rating: 15 and up

TW: OCD, Depression, Anxiety, some us of alcohol

Final Rating: 9/10 or 4.5 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What’s one contemporary that made you cry? 😆 Have a lovely day, and thank you for reading!

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Scritch Scratch | A Review

Hey everyone! I hope you are well. Today I’ll be reviewing Stritch Scratch by Lindsay Currie. I must say, this one scared me quite a bit. Yes, yes, I’m a scaredy cat. We’ve established that by now. 😆 Anyways, I hope you enjoy!

Scritch Scratch: Currie, Lindsay: 0760789294242: Books - Amazon.ca

(Synopsis from goodreads)

Claire has absolutely no interest in the paranormal. She’s a scientist, which is why she can’t think of anything worse than having to help out her dad on one of his ghost-themed Chicago bus tours. She thinks she’s made it through when she sees a boy with a sad face and dark eyes at the back of the bus. There’s something off about his presence, especially because when she checks at the end of the tour…he’s gone.
Claire tries to brush it off, she must be imagining things, letting her dad’s ghost stories get the best of her. But then the scratching starts. Voices whisper to her in the dark. The number 396 appears everywhere she turns. And the boy with the dark eyes starts following her.
Claire is being haunted. The boy from the bus wants something…and Claire needs to find out what before it’s too late. 

Deliciously eerie and mysterious, Lindsay Currie brings us a story all thriller fans will adore! The plot hooked me right from the beginning, and kept my attention till the end! Scritch Scratch is fast-paced and gripping, so it’s definitely the perfect read to get out of a slump.

Furthermore, the characters were not that interesting. Although I respect the author’s ability to create semi-realistic kids without throwing in a gazillion references, I did not feel any connection to the characters. None of them were annoying per se, they were just lacking in development. Fortunately, the main character’s parents were very well developed. They each had their own unique personalities. The MC’s dad is a ghost story author, and runs his own spooky tour bus company. While their mom runs a baking business. How cool is that?!

“Love Ms. Mancini. She’s the only teacher I have who wouldn’t shame a student for falling asleep in class. I think she remembers what it was like to be in seventh grade and that’s what makes her so good at her job.”
― Lindsay Currie, Scritch Scratch

In addition, the dialogue fell short on personality. Most of it was trope-y, and uneventful. However, it’s the writing that really grabbed me.

Man oh man does Lindsay Currie know how to write a chilling story! I was very frightened, yet so intrigued throughout the book. What I found interesting, was that the writing was not very descriptive. This fascinated me as typically thrillers are quite descriptive. Luckily, this didn’t have a negative affect.

The overall enjoyment level of Scritch Scratch is very high. If you’re looking for a thrilling story with a wonderful message about friendship, and never forgetting those who came before us, then this is definitely the novel for you!

Age Rating: 10 and up

TW: Some scenes might scare younger children, lots of talk of a drowning accident, talk of abandonment

Final Rating: 7.5/10 or 3.75 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐

What’s your favorite thriller? I’d love to know. Have a lovely day, and thank you for reading!

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Made in Korea | An ARC Review

Hiya! Today I’ll be reviewing Sarah Suk’s Made in Korea; A delightful and charming YA contemporary. I had buddy read this with some amazing bloggers; Rania and Ritz! Do check out their blogs as well if you can. Anyways, let’s get into it!

Made in Korea | Book by Sarah Suk | Official Publisher Page | Simon &  Schuster Canada

There’s nothing Valerie Kwon loves more than making a good sale. Together with her cousin Charlie, they run V&C K-BEAUTY, their school’s most successful student-run enterprise. With each sale, Valerie gets closer to taking her beloved and adventurous halmeoni to her dream city, Paris. Enter the new kid in class, Wes Jung, who is determined to pursue music after graduation despite his parents’ major disapproval. When his classmates clamor to buy the K-pop branded beauty products his mom gave him to “make new friends,” he sees an opportunity—one that may be the key to help him pay for the music school tuition he knows his parents won’t cover… What he doesn’t realize, though, is that he is now V&C K-BEAUTY’s biggest competitor. Stakes are high as Valerie and Wes try to outsell each other, make the most money, and take the throne for the best business in school—all while trying to resist the undeniable spark that’s crackling between them. From hiring spies to all-or-nothing bets, the competition is much more than either of them bargained for. But one thing is clear: only one Korean business can come out on top.

I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book via TBR and Beyond Tours and Simon & Schuster Canada. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This was everything I ever needed! Rival school businesses and K-Beauty will always be a win in my book. What makes this novel so special is that the characters make bad decisions while still remaining logical. You typically see people making bad decisions emotionally, never logically, so that was very refreshing to see. Also, I think it’s worth mentioning that despite being marketed as a rom-com, I really don’t think it is one as the book deals with a lot of of hard hitting topics. Essentially what I’m saying is that if you’re looking for a funny enemies to lovers, you most likely won’t get that from Made in Korea. Anyways, on with the review!

What I loved most about this book, is that Valarie and Wes had very distinct personalities. They each have their own goals, and progressively became the best versions of themselves as the story went along. There was an abundance of character development, and I loved seeing them grow. I’ll admit, at first I didn’t like Wes. I couldn’t understand why everyone, including himself, kept of saying that he was so nice. I didn’t think he was nice till the last 30 percent of the book. Nevertheless, I still really enjoyed reading about Valarie and Wes’ relationship dynamic.

The side characters were such a joy! Charlie, Valarie’s cousin and business partner, will forever be my all time favorite book character! I don’t think I’ve ever read about someone so incredibly wholesome. Taemin was also absolutely hilarious, and he genuinely made me laugh. Kristy was another great character too. Furthermore, Valarie and her halmeoni (grandmother), had such a cute relationship. I loved how much they cared about each other, it felt so real and genuine. Valarie’s older sister Samantha was a character I could really resonate with. She has all these expectations placed on her because she’s the eldest sibling, and it’s something that Valarie will never understand. I was interested in their relationship, and would like to have seen more interactions between them. Pauline however, I wasn’t too fond of. In my opinion, she was a fairly dull character, and I couldn’t see why Charlie could like her. It felt as though he had a crush on Pauline just for the sake of it. Her infatuation with marine biology was cool though.

The dialogue in Made in Korea was very well written, I really felt all the emotions the characters were experiencing. This novel contains by far one of the best dialogues I have ever read. It was extremely raw and heart-wrenching. I loved every bit of it.

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In addition, the writing style was simple and easy to follow. It’s told by the perspectives of Valarie and Wes. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I can’t tell the difference between the perspectives of characters. Thankfully, I had no issues telling them apart. My only complaint is that the constant italics complicated things a bit. Nevertheless, the story had me hooked on every word.

The overall enjoyment level of Made in Korea is through the roof! You’ll definitely not want to put it down. If you love the idea of entrepreneurial enemies to lovers, or love it when opposite attract, than this is definitely the book for you! I highly recommend this book to all contemporary fans!

Age Rating: 14 and up

TW: Some use of alcohol

Final Rating: 9/10 or 4.5 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you for reading (or skimming). You can read my interview with the author here! Have you read Made in Korea? What’s your favorite YA contemporary? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have a fabulous day!

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The Other Side of Perfect | An ARC Review

Hey everyone! Today I’ll be reviewing The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk. Feel free to read my interview with the author here! I hope you enjoy!

(Thank you Netgalley and Little Brown Books for Young Readers for providing me with a copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)

The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk

Alina Keeler was destined to dance, but then a terrifying fall shatters her leg — and her dreams of a professional ballet career along with it.
After a summer healing (translation: eating vast amounts of Cool Ranch Doritos and binging ballet videos on YouTube), she is forced to trade her pre-professional dance classes for normal high school, where she reluctantly joins the school musical. However, rehearsals offer more than she expected — namely Jude, her annoyingly attractive castmate she just might be falling for. But to move forward, Alina must make peace with her past and face the racism she experienced in the dance industry. She wonders what it means to yearn for ballet — something so beautiful, yet so broken. And as broken as she feels, can she ever open her heart to someone else? Touching, romantic, and peppered with humor, this debut novel explores the tenuousness of perfectionism, the possibilities of change, and the importance of raising your voice. 

The original premise of The Other Side of Perfect is very unique and intriguing. Luckily, the execution was done quite well. I loved the talk about racism in the ballet industry. It’s something you never hear about, so I’m beyond happy the issue was addressed.

Our main character Alina Keeler is going through a rough patch. Due to an injury in her leg, she can’t dance Ballet anymore. At first, I thought she was unnecessarily rude and judgmental. Eventually, as time passes, Alina learns to grow from her experiences. Towards the end, I started to admire her character much more than I did when I first started reading the book.

The side characters were all quite diverse and three dimensional. Unfortunately though, Alina’s best friend Margot was very infuriating. Throughout the whole book, she’s mean and crude to others for no reason. Thankfully, our main character’s other friends are all very sweet. Each of the characters go through development, and change throughout the novel. My favorite character is Jude. I love how the he defies gender stereotypes. The topic was discussed quite a bit, and I’m so glad the author discussed it. That’s actually one of the reasons why I’m rating The Other Side of Perfect higher. Furthermore, I really enjoyed the dynamic between Alina and her younger sister Josie. It felt incredibly realistic and raw. Also, can we talk about the fact that the bullies in the novel are named Jake and Paul. Okay social commentary, I see you. 👀

Moreover, I couldn’t connect much with the dialogue. There was too much profanity for my liking, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It just isn’t something I particularly enjoy.

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In addition, the writing was just okay. It wasn’t very engaging, and thus bored me a bit. The author rambled a lot as well, which caused the writing to be repetitive. However, Mariko Turk successfully created a character that actually felt like a teenager. The story is told through Alina’s perspective, and is done very well. She’s a morally grey character that’s a teensy bit selfish. But you can’t help but like her! The author captures Alina’s emotions and sentiments perfectly.

The overall enjoyment level of The Other Side of Perfect is well, fine. The first 70% was boring and uneventful. Luckily, the last 30% was very enjoyable! If you’re looking for a coming of age novel on dance, racism, and grief, than this is definitely the book for you!

Age Rating: 14 and up

TW: Profanity

Final Rating: 7.5/10 or 3.75 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Turtle Under Ice | A Review

Hiya everyone! Today I’ll be reviewing Turtle Under Ice by Juleah del Rosario. This is actually the first time I’m reviewing a book written in verse. Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Turtle Under Ice by Juleah del Rosario

Rowena feels like her family is a frayed string of lights that someone needs to fix with electrical tape. After her mother died a few years ago, she and her sister, Ariana, drifted into their own corners of the world, each figuring out in their own separate ways how to exist in a world in which their mother is no longer alive. But then Ariana disappears under the cover of night in the middle of a snowstorm, leaving no trace or tracks. When Row wakes up to a world of snow and her sister’s empty bedroom, she is left to piece together the mystery behind where Ariana went and why, realizing along the way that she might be part of the reason Ariana is gone. Haunting and evocative—and told in dual perspectives—Turtle Under Ice examines two sisters frozen by grief as they search for a way to unthaw.

I usually read books in verse if I’m trying to get out of a slump. However, I just picked this one up spontaneously. And I’m happy that I did! Turtle Under Ice is a story full of emotion and the will to just push on. It oozes out with sisterly love, and tells us that we should always be grateful for our parents.

The story follows sisters Ariana and Rowena. It’s told through both their perspectives and is done astonishingly well. Despite disliking Ariana, I can 100% understand where she’s coming from. Ariana wants to be an older sister Rowena can look up to, but she knows she’s failing that role. I found this to be incredibly touching and relatable. Ariana is also a creative, and uses her art to cope. She actually does her summative art project on grief. Meanwhile, Rowena, or Row, uses soccer as an escape from her heartache. What really broke me is that Row sees her mother on the field when she plays. The reason behind this is that her mom was always so busy, that she could never attend any of her soccer matches. Furthermore, I ADORED the sibling dynamic. It perfectly captured the fact that no matter what happens in life, they’ll always have each other, and it was just the sweetest thing!

“Maybe hope is like a turtle under ice
breathing through its shell,
through its biochemistry, still alive. Maybe hope waits for spring to come, for the ice to thaw
for the weight of the pond that encapsulates us to melt into nothing. But maybe we are not meant to wait for springtime.
Maybe, instead, we are meant
to break the ice
and be free.”

― Juleah del Rosario, Turtle Under Ice

In addition, through the dialogue we got to see how Ariana interacts with other people. The way she talked to people with no care in the word was quite interesting. Aside from that, there wasn’t much dialogue. Instead, there were more monologues, which brings me to the writing!

“There was no right time for my mother to die,
because when someone we loves dies,
it will always be untimely”
― Juleah del Rosario, Turtle Under Ice

Juleah del Rosario’s writing is truly beautiful. Turtle Under Ice is written in verse, and is done exquisitely. The author creates such vivid yet depressing scenes that will make you want to read on! It’s absolutely stunning, and isn’t overly metaphorical or unclear.

Overall, Turtle Under Ice is a quick and emotional read perfect for those who are looking for a moving story on familial relationships and grief.

Age Rating: 14 and up

TW: Death of a parent (off page but talked about a lot), miscarriage, main character runs away from home

Final Rating: 7/10 or 3.5 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐

What’s your favorite novel written in verse? Have a lovely day, and thank you for reading!

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Yesterday Is History | A Review

Hey everyone! Today I’ll be reviewing Kosoko Jackson’s debut novel Yesterday Is History. Did I binge read 240 pages of this book in one day? Perhaps. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

Yesterday Is History: Amazon.ca: Jackson, Kosoko: Books

Weeks ago, Andre Cobb received a much-needed liver transplant. He’s ready for his life to finally begin, until one night, when he passes out and wakes up somewhere totally unexpected…in 1969, where he connects with a magnetic boy named Michael. And then, just as suddenly as he arrived, he slips back to present-day Boston, where the family of his donor is waiting to explain that his new liver came with a side effect—the ability to time travel. And they’ve tasked their youngest son, Blake, with teaching Andre how to use his unexpected new gift. Andre splits his time bouncing between the past and future. Between Michael and Blake. Michael is everything Andre wishes he could be, and Blake, still reeling from the death of his brother, Andre’s donor, keeps him at arm’s length despite their obvious attraction to each other. Torn between two boys, one in the past and one in the present, Andre has to figure out where he belongs—and more importantly who he wants to be—before the consequences of jumping in time catch up to him and change his future for good.

What initially drew me into reading Yesterday Is History was the plot. I was looking for a book that would make me 💫feel something💫, and I’m happy to say that it delivered! This debut novel is the heart-wrenching and emotional read I needed. I was ecstatic to find that the time travel concept wasn’t confusing either!

Unfortunately though, the main character Andre was a bit insufferable. What really annoyed me was how everyone, including himself, kept on saying that he was a ‘smart boy.’ It was repeated way too many times. Aside from that, I liked that Andre was a bit selfish as it made him seem more human. I’m glad that cancer was also represented as simply a part of Andre’s identity, and not his whole entire personality. People are more than just their medical situations, so I think the author handled it very well.

“The only way out is through. And the best way through something is the truth.”
― Kosoko Jackson, Yesterday Is History

What made this novel so incredibly gut punching was Andre’s relationship with the love interests. There was one love interest in each timeline. One in 1969; Arthur, and one in the present day; Blake. The main character’s relationship with Blake felt extremely rushed and sudden. It came out of nowhere. The one in 1969 felt too insta-love for my liking, but I was anticipating it, so their relationship wasn’t surprising. Furthermore, I enjoyed reading about Andre’s relationship with his parents, and with Blake’s parents. There was something so genuine about it. In addition, his relationship with his best friend Isabel felt forced and unnecessary. She barely had a role in the story. Considering that Isabel is his best friend, it felt odd that she had little to no presence.

The dialogue in Yesterday Is History sometimes felt unrealistic. It was very picture perfect, and was too formal. Luckily, there were some moments where I pondered what was said, which was nice.

“But every time I think back on it, on every spark of joy Blake gives me, I wonder, would that spark be a roaring flame if I were with Michael?”

― Kosoko Jackson, Yesterday Is History

The writing was simple to understand, which I was very grateful for considering that this is a science fiction novel. Sadly, it felt bland at times. I really wanted to this book to be emotional because it seemed like that type of book, but it just wasn’t. (But I guess that’s more on me then the book.)

I must admit, I was planning on giving Yesterday Is History 3 stars. But my oh my this was such an addicting read! I could not put it down. If you’re trying to get out of a slump, I highly recommend this novel. Overall, it was very enjoyable. If you like science fiction, or are wanting to get into it, this might just be the book for you.

Age Rating: 15 and up

TW: Use of alcohol

Final Rating: 8.5/10 or 4.25 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐

What’s your favorite science fiction novel? I’d love to know! Have a great day, and thank you for reading!

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Eyes that Kiss in the Corners | A Review

Hey guys! Today I’ll be reviewing the lovely picture book; Eyes that Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho, illustrated by Dung Ho. I hope you enjoy!

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners: Ho, Joanna: 9780062915627: Books - Amazon.ca

(Synopsis from goodreads)

A young Asian girl notices that her eyes look different from her peers’. They have big, round eyes and long lashes. She realizes that her eyes are like her mother’s, her grandmother’s, and her little sister’s. They have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons, and are filled with stories of the past and hope for the future. Drawing from the strength of these powerful women in her life, she recognizes her own beauty and discovers a path to self love and empowerment. 

The plot, if you will, was so empowering! I love how it’s simply about a young Asian girl talking about her eyes and heritage. I mean come on, how awesome is that!

Since this is a picture book, I don’t expect the characters to be extremely developed. However, I loved the main character’s relationship with their grandmother and mom. It was so cute and genuine. The girl’s relationship with who I assume is her younger sister, was also incredibly sweet. I loved how every character played a positive and impactful role in the young girl’s life.

In addition, the writing was phenomenal. It was poetic and left me feeling warm and fuzzy on the inside. The metaphors were very interesting, and I adore how the author enshrouds the readers into the story. My only complaint is that some lines where repeated a little too much. In my opinion, it made the lines lose there passion and impact a bit. Then again, repetition is very common in picture books so it didn’t bother me too much.

“My eyes crinkle into crescent moons
and sparkle like the stars.
Gold flecks dance and twirl
while stories whirl
in their oolong pools,
carrying tales of the past
and hope for the future.”

― Joanna Ho, Eyes That Kiss in the Corners

I’m not going to lie, the art style is what initially drew me to the book. It is without a doubt, absolutely gorgeous. The way the illustrator creates the scenes is just remarkable. They captivate the readers’ attention, and are very aesthetic!

The overall enjoyment level of Eyes That Kiss in the Corners is definitely high. It took me around ten minutes to read, and let me tell you that is was certainly ten minutes well spent! I recommend this stunning book to everyone!

Age Rating: 3 and up

TW: None

Final Rating: 9/10 or 4.5 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Have you read Eyes that Kiss in the Corners? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. 😊 Have a fabulous day!

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Rogue Princess | A Review

Hey everyone! I hope you’re doing well. Today I’ll to be reviewing Rogue Princess by B.R. Myers. Before we get into it, I would like to point out how gorgeous this cover is! Anyways, I hope you enjoy!

Rogue Princess by B.R. Myers

(Synopsis from goodreads)

A princess fleeing an arranged marriage teams up with a snarky commoner to foil a rebel plot in B. R. Myers’ Rogue Princess, a gender-swapped sci-fi YA retelling of Cinderella. Princess Delia knows her duty: She must choose a prince to marry in order to secure an alliance and save her failing planet. Yet she secretly dreams of true love, and feels there must be a better way. Determined to chart her own course, she steals a spaceship to avoid the marriage, only to discover a handsome stowaway. All Aidan wanted was to “borrow” a few palace trinkets to help him get off the planet. Okay, so maybe escaping on a royal ship wasn’t the smartest plan, but he never expected to be kidnapped by a runaway princess! Sparks fly as this headstrong princess and clever thief battle wits, but everything changes when they inadvertently uncover a rebel conspiracy that could destroy their planet forever.

First, let’s talk about the plot. The original premise sounded so cool! A steampunk genderbent Cinderella retelling? Um yes!! The execution was done fairly well. However, I feel like the story was subject to bad writing. The story was all over the place, and there were too many mini plots. I didn’t know what direction the story was taking until page 220 or so. There was also a certain event that was used as a plot device even though it barely added anything to the story. Luckily, one thing that allowed me to raise my rating was the plot twist. I was definitely not expecting it.

Additionally, the main character Delia was underdeveloped. There was so much that happened in Delia’s life, yet she still stayed the same at the end of the book. She also didn’t have much of a personality aside from not wanting to marry a prince. Then again, it’s not like Prince Charming had much of a personality in the original Cinderella. Fortunately, Aidan was a very likeable character. He was passionate, fun, and his snarky remarks never failed to make me crack a little chuckle.

“If you love anything in this world, fight for it. Otherwise what’s the point of anything?”

―B.R. Myers, Rogue Princess

The side characters were definitely a hit or miss. The princes felt very comic book like, which made them seem extremely one dimensional. Prince Quinton really caught my attention though. He was mysterious and kind, and I really enjoyed reading about him. I only wish he was a little more developed though. Same goes for Prince Felix. Moreover, Delia’s sister Shania did not stop talking about men. It was literally all she would talk about. I’m not going to lie, it did annoy me quite a bit. Thankfully, the pirates were actually very cool. I loved the way the author worked them into the story too! Overall, the majority of the characters felt very one dimensional, which is unfortunate.

Furthermore, the dialogue was consistently done well. It was most certainly the highlight of the story. The dialogue really added to the enjoyment of the novel. From Delia and Shania’s interactions, to Aidan’s sassy remarks, the dialogue was undoubtedly very enjoyable.

“There is no greater power than the power of choice.”

―B.R. Myers, Rogue Princess

The writing style is where I had a lot of issues with. It was extremely dragged out at times, and felt overly repetitive. It was too blunt and the metaphors made no sense. I simply could not get into it. Due to the writing, so many moments that where meant to seem beautiful or symbolic did not make me feel any emotions. The story was also very confusing and I found myself struggling to imagine what was going on. There was also little to no world building. This led me to being heavily confused throughout the story. Luckily, despite being in third person, the story read like a first person story. I was very happy about that since I’m not a fan of third person writing.

The overall enjoyment level of Rogue Princess was pretty average. It was a good story that simply wasn’t impactful. As mentioned previously, the writing and underdeveloped characters made the story less enjoyable. Nevertheless, the original concept was very unique. Rogue Princess opened my eyes to a completely new genre of books that I will certainly explore more of!

If steampunk or science fiction are genres that interest you, I highly recommend you give this book a read!

Age Rating: 15 and up

TW: manipulation, death of a loved one, violence

Final Rating: 7/10 or 3.5 stars

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Have you ever read any steampunk or science fiction novels? Let me know in the comments down below. Have a fabulous day!

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Thanks A Lot, Universe | An ARC Review

Hey everyone! I hope you’re all doing spectacularly! Here is my review for Thanks A Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas. Thank you Netgalley and ABRAM Kids for providing me with an eARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Without further ado, here is the review!

Thanks a Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas

(The synopsis provided is from goodreads.)

Brian has always been anxious, whether at home, or in class, or on the basketball court. His dad tries to get him to stand up for himself and his mom helps as much as she can, but after he and his brother are placed in foster care, Brian starts having panic attacks. And he doesn’t know if things will ever be “normal” again . . . Ezra’s always been popular. He’s friends with most of the kids on his basketball team—even Brian, who usually keeps to himself. But now, some of his friends have been acting differently, and Brian seems to be pulling away. Ezra wants to help, but he worries if he’s too nice to Brian, his friends will realize that he has a crush on him . . .
But when Brian and his brother run away, Ezra has no choice but to take the leap and reach out. Both boys have to decide if they’re willing to risk sharing parts of themselves they’d rather hide. But if they can be brave, they might just find the best in themselves—and each other.

Before I get into the review, I would just like to mention how absolutely stunning the cover is. Just look at this beauty!

First let’s talk about the plot. It seemed like an average middle school coming of age. You’ve got the bullies, the awkward and quiet kid, and that one parent who loves sports. With that said, I’m happy to report that the plot was executed in a very intriguing and unique fashion. It tackled issues that I haven’t encountered all that much in other middle grade novels. My only complaint is that I feel as though the synopsis made me assume that Brian and Ezra would help each other out more than they actually did. Fortunately though, it was something pretty easy to overlook.

The main characters, thirteen year old Brian and Ezra, where so lovable! They were such interesting characters! Brian is socially awkward and has a hard time talking to the ‘popular kids.’ When I was their age, I could totally relate! Ezra was such a cool character! He loves old music, told hilarious jokes, and had great fashion sense! The only thing I found to be a little infuriating was when Brian talked so much about having trouble speaking to people, but then a couple pages later he swears at a teacher. I felt as though he went from zero to a hundred a bit too quickly. His parents also talked about how he was such a responsible kid, even though some of his actions in the book were rather questionable. Then again, I can only imagine how hard it is to be in the foster care system. My heart goes out to all of the children in these systems. Overall, our main characters are put into such heartbreaking situations that I was happy to see represented in a middle grade novel.

The side characters where also very diverse and intriguing. Thanks A Lot, Universe gave adults diverse narratives, and it really worked well in the story. It was also interesting to see Ezra lose touch with his supposed best friend. Friendship was widely explored throughout the book, and I absolutely adored that aspect of it! Moreover, I liked how although there are a lot of side characters, each character plays a significant role in Brian’s life. Whether it be positive, negative, or neutral. My only complaint is that the police officer associated with Brian wasn’t talked about that much, and we never really got to know his true intentions.

Furthermore, the dialogue was a lovely mix of lighthearted and serious. Brian’s conversations with his dad, Katie, and the police officer, seemed rather mysterious. While the conversations he had with Gabe, Brittany, his teacher, and Ezra, seemed more lighthearted. In addition, it was interesting to see how Brian explained their family situation to his little brother. Overall, the dialogue in Thanks A Lot, Universe was superb!

Unfortunately, the writing style felt repetitive at times, which was a bit of a turn off. At certain times in the story, the pacing escalated and de-escalated very quickly. For example, sometimes Brian’s mindset would change from I-am-so-shy-and-responsible to edgy-bad-boy-has-been-unlocked in almost an instant. However, as mentioned in my A Song Below Water review, I love when books have no swearing in them. There’s just something so refreshing about books like this one. I also liked how there wasn’t necessarily any romance. The main characters aren’t even fourteen yet, so it makes sense for there not be any romance. One aspect of the book that I really enjoyed reading about was the setting! It takes place in (I believe) Nova Scotia, which is a maritime province in Canada. It was very fascinating to read about a place I’ve never been to before.

The overall enjoyment level of Thanks A Lot, Universe is very high. The plot was gripping, the characters are intriguing, and the story is fast paced. Must I say more?

Age Rating: 11 and up

TW: bullying, displacement of homes, running away, some violence

Final Rating: 8/10 or 4 stars

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What is your favorite coming of age novel? Let me know in the comments down below! Have a wonderful day!

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