MINI REVIEWS: June 6, 2018 Book Releases

Excuse this mess of a roundup post, but a gazillion amazing books were released today and there just wasn’t enough time to give each their own post 🙁 Regardless, these are all wonderful books and deserve a place on your TBR. Thank me later.


The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Stella uses math and statistics daily for economic analysis. When her parents bug her about finding a husband, she starts the only way she knows how: research and lots of practice. So, (duh!) Stella hires a male escort to teach her the ways. Stella, our main protagonist has Asperger’s and Michael is Vietnamese/Swedish.

I have been frequently rereading passages because this book made me so giddy with happiness. I’m always looking for #ownvoices books that have neurodiverse characters. THE KISS QUOTIENT is more graphic than most romances I read but I didn’t even care because I loved these characters so much.

MY RATING:  ✰✰✰✰✰ (one of my fave reads from 2018 so far!)

Thank you Berkley Romance for my e-galley!


Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh

If, like me, you were completely captivated by Ahdieh’s Mulan-esque retelling A FLAME IN THE MIST, the sequel is here and it’s just as incredible. First, can we talk about the gorgeous cover redesign?! I loved the original cover, but it makes me enormously happy to see an Asian girl on the cover. Picking up where the first book left off, Mariko is on a mission to rescue Okami after he is kidnapped. She returns to her betrothed, Raiden, and is forced to lie about her time with the Black Clan. It’s sooooo good, peeps. You need this book (and series) in your life.

MY RATING:  ✰✰✰✰

Thank you to a fellow blogger who kindly sent me their ARC


Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez

This book is a retelling of Tristan and Iseult, which full disclosure, the only knowledge I have is the horrible James Franco film. Our heroine, Branwen, is the cousin and lady-in-waiting to the Princess. She possesses healing magic that has (so far) been dormant. But when she unknowingly saves the life of a mortal enemy, her powers begin to manifest. Add in some forbidden romance, some backstabbing, and an ending that I am SO mad about because I need the sequel NOW, SWEET BLACK WAVES is such a great debut.

MY RATING:  ✰✰✰✰

Thank you to HarperCollins for my galley!


The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen

Ok, talk about forbidden love. THE BIRD AND THE BLADE is an enthralling story about the sons of Genghis Khan and a retelling of the opera, TURANDOT. Set in the Mongol Empire, Jinghua finds herself in the company of Prince Khalaf and his father as they journey away from their enemies. Khalaf is set to marry Turandokht and unite the warring empires, if and only if, he correctly answers three riddles. Or else he loses his head. Oh, and during this trek across the Mongol Empire, Jinghua falls in love with Khalaf. The prose is absolutely beautiful. I cannot wait to see what else Bannen comes out with.

MY RATING:  ✰✰✰✰

Thank you to HarperCollins for my galley!


Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

This book is Gossip Girl cranked up to the nth degree. I can totally see why it was optioned for film already, it’s totally a cinematic book. When plain Jane Louise makes friends with the glitzy Lavinia, her life completely changes. Soon her days are all parties and booze and she’s loving it. Until she doesn’t anymore. SOCIAL CREATURE is dark and gritty and dirty and when you finish, you’re going to feel like you want to take a shower.

MY RATING:  ✰✰✰.5 

Thank you to Doubleday for my e-galley!

BLOG TOUR: Lies You Never Told Me, Jennifer Donaldson (May 29, 2018)

If you are a fan of explosive, edge-of-your-seat YA thrillers, I have your book of the summer. LIES YOU NEVER TOLD ME, the debut from Jennifer Donaldson, is chock full of mystery, intrigue, and (of course) lies.


The 411:  Gabe and Elyse have never met. But they both have something to hide.

Quiet, shy Elyse can’t believe it when she’s cast as the lead in her Portland high school’s production of Romeo and Juliet. Her best friend, Brynn, is usually the star, and Elyse isn’t sure she’s up to the task. But when someone at rehearsals starts to catch her eye–someone she knows she absolutely shouldn’t be with–she can’t help but be pulled into the spotlight.

Austin native Gabe is contemplating the unthinkable–breaking up with Sasha, his headstrong, popular girlfriend. She’s not going to let him slip through her fingers, though, and when rumors start to circulate around school, he knows she has the power to change his life forever.

Gabe and Elyse both make the mistake of falling for the wrong person, and falling hard. Told in parallel narratives, this twisty, shocking story shows how one bad choice can lead to a spiral of unforeseen consequences that not everyone will survive.


I was very fortunate to get an ARC of this book (thank you Penguin/Razorbill!) and knocked it out in a couple of hours. LIES YOU NEVER TOLD ME is incredibly compelling and readable. You just keeping turning and turning and turning the pages.

I’ve mentioned on this blog maaaaany times that I am horrible that figuring out plot twists in books…and I actually called this one! So proud of myself. But don’t get me wrong, it’s still a zinger you won’t be expecting.


But don’t just take it from me:

“A compulsive page-turner with a shocking twist–get ready to stay up all night!” –Sara Shepard, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars

“This conversation-starting page-turner is…Fatal Attraction meets Big Little Lies.” —Kirkus Reviews


Jennifer Donaldson graduated from Reed College and received her MFA from the University of Texas at Austin. She currently lives in Austin with her family.

The biggest thank you to PENGUIN BOOKS for including me on this book tour.

Middle Grade Roundup

I have read some absolutely fantastic middle grade books lately and have been horrible about posting about them. So please enjoy this roundup of middle grade books—they are already available and you can pick them up immediately!

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake

Twelve-year-old Ivy loves to draw and most of her pictures are of two girls holding hands in a treehouse—she’s never shared her drawings with anyone. She is terrified after a tornado displaces her family and she loses her notebook of drawings. In the days following the event, she begins to find her own drawings in her locker with notes encouraging her to talk to someone about her sexual identity.

This book is BEAUTIFUL and I’m so happy a middle grade book with this topic exists.

MY RATING:  ✰✰✰✰✰


Thank you Disney Hyperion for sending me these galleys!

FRIENDLY TOWN THAT’S ALMOST ALWAYS BY THE OCEAN! by Kirk Fox, M. Shelley Coates

In this first installment to the Topsea series, we watch new kid Davy get acclimated to his new, exciting, and, well…weird school and town. His new classmates are quirky and charming and they all band together to help Davy discover the secrets of Topsea.

This book is super cute and also told in newspaper clippings and web articles. Think ILLUIMINAE-style storytelling.

MY RATING:  ✰✰✰


CHARLIE & FROG by Karen Kane

Charlie is sent to live with his grandparents for the summer, where he encounters a old woman who gives him a frantic message in sign language before disappearing. Charlie teams up with Francine aka Frog, a local deaf girl, who wants nothing more than to become a real detective.

Yay for disability rep in middle grade books! Also yay for positive friendships!

MY RATING:  ✰✰✰1/2


CAPTAIN SUPERLATIVE by J.S. Puller

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Captain Superlative! Janey is as mesmerized as her classmates when a self-proclaimed superhero shows up at her middle school in a cape. When she reluctantly befriends the avenger, she learns secrets behind the mask and starts to question what it means to be a superhero.

I loved this—such a powerful message about friendship and how we look at our heroes.

MY RATING:  ✰✰✰✰


Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Twelve-year-old Aru Shah is known as a bit of a fibber amongst her classmates. She often will make up grandiose stories to fit in with her classmates. When three classmates show up at the Museum of Ancient Indian Art to catch her in a lie, Aru accidentally lets loose an ancient demon, the Sleeper, who is on a mission to wake the God of Destruction. To stop this from happening, Aru must find the reincarnations of the five Pandava brothers and save the world.

As per usz, Chokshi has the most beautiful writing and I cannot wait to read the three remaining books in this series.

MY RATING:  ✰✰✰✰

Thank you Disney Hyperion, Rick Riordan Presents, for my e-galley!


Carnival Magic by Amy Ephron

Siblings Tess and Max return to England for the summer to stay with their Aunt Evie in the magical sounding Devon-by-the-Sea. Tess and Max manage to finagle attending a traveling carnival alone, but promise to meet Aunt Evie in a few hours. While attending the carnival psychic, Tess and Max are transported into a seemingly alternate universe, where they befriend two acrobat siblings. In order to return to life as they know it, they must find their way back through the mysterious House of Mirrors.

I hadn’t read the first book, THE CASTLE IN THE MIST, but still enjoyed this a lot. Such a cute MG fantasy story.

MY RATING:  ✰✰✰

Thank you Philomel books for my galley!

REVIEW: Legendary, Stephanie Garber (May 29, 2018)

Helloooooo, one of my most anticipated reads of 2018. You were brilliant. The day I received this book in the mail, I screamed and did a little spin in my desk chair. Apologies go out again to my coworkers for disturbing the peace, but I will not hold back my glee.

LEGENDARY is the hotly anticipated sequel to last year’s CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber. And I’m just going to make the wait even more difficult for you (#sorrynotsorry) because I loved this so much.


The 411: Let’s backtrack just a tad. If you’re unfamiliar with this series, here’s a brief rundown: In CARAVAL we are introduced to sisters Scarlett and Donatella “Tella.” Scarlett has long dreamed of attending Caraval, a renown performance spectacle that happens once a year. What makes Caraval special, is that it requires audience participation. Think a murder-mystery party amped up to the extreme. Scarlett found herself deeply immersed in the game when Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind, Legend, and must play to get her sister back…

So here we are. *spoiler* Tella may be rescued, but still not free. She made a seemingly impossible deal with an anonymous Friend in exchange for her freedom: the true identity of Legend. To discover this, Tella must rejoin Caraval and uncover the mystery behind its maker.


Ok. Okokokokokokok this is a near perfect sequel. And I only use “near perfect” because I’m super picky about my five star ratings. I read this book in a few short hours and I’m confident there will be a reread in the future, especially since it was announced yesterday that there will be a third book in the Caraval series and I am throwing confetti in excitement.  I’m super interested to see where Garber ends this story.

The world of Caraval is incredible. I love the magic, the deception (oh the deception!), and the complex relationships between our “players” and “actors.” If you liked CARAVAL, I (obviously) highly suggest LEGENDARY. If you didn’t like CARAVAL, I still suggest giving LEGENDARY a try. It’s the same atmospheric feel, but Tella as the main gives it a different tone (in my opinion). And I found myself enjoying Tella’s POV more than Scarlett’s. Tella’s a bit more feisty and sarcastic, which is my personal fave in a narrator.

Ooh and the love story, peeps. If you are a fan of the enemies-to-lovers trope, you will be immensely happy.


MY RATING:  ✰✰✰✰1/2
RECOMMENDED FOR: fans of THE NIGHT CIRCUS and DAUGHTER OF THE BURNING CITY


Thank you Flatiron Books for my galley! Legendary is available May 29.

REVIEW: Baby Teeth, Zoje Stage (July 12, 2018)

Hi all. Long time no talk. Reeeeally long time. To be honest, I’ve been in a little of a reading slump. I’ve read a fair amount of books, but they’ve all hovered between the 2.5-3 star range. I enjoyed them, but nothing to write home about. I am so happy to say that I’ve broken the rut.

Holy CRAP, this book.


The 411: Alex, Suzette, and their daughter, Hanna, live a normal, domestic suburban life.  Hanna has selective mutism, but uses her few words to scare the living daylights out of her mother, who is convinced that Hanna is out to get her. And, spoiler alert, she is. Hanna goes out of her way to ruin her mother’s life and undermine her, all the while remaining the image of absolute innocence with her father. And Alex doesn’t believe Suzette that Hanna is a little different.


This book alternates perspectives between Suzette and Hanna. Hanna’s chapters are chilling and creepy and there were several times where I actually said out loud, “What the fuck?!?!” Suzette’s chapter are equally hard to read but in a completely different way. Suzette is a mother just desperately trying to connect with her daughter. And her daughter is a budding psychopath.

Feels very Rosemary’s Baby, right? Well, here’s the thing. Hanna’s not possessed. She’s just a sadistic kid. And quite honestly, that makes it even the more scarier for me. At the moment, I have no interest in kids, and quite frankly, I’ve never been the biggest fan of kids. Especially babies. But thanks to Damien and now, Hanna, I am more than happy to prolong the time before I am a mother. Because this book encapsulates one of my worst nightmares: What if I’m not a bad parent, but my kid just doesn’t like me?

This is going to a polarizing book, I can feel it. It’s going to be a 5-star or a 1-star read for you. I’m a horror junkie, so I highly enjoyed this book. My knowledge of psychopathy ended in freshman year Psychology I in college, but Hanna’s thought-process seemed very realistic and well-researched to me. I would definitely categorize BABY TEETH as a horror novel. And it’s hands down the best horror novel I’ve read in a long time. Thank you for the nightmares, Zoje. Dark and twisty just like I like it.


MY RATING:  ✰✰✰✰1/2
RECOMMENDED FOR: fans of Nick Cutter and Stephen King


Thank you St. Martin’s Press for my e-galley! Baby Teeth is available July 12.

REVIEW: Picture Us in the Light, Kelly Loy Gilbert (April 10, 2018)

PICTURE US IN THE LIGHT, like THUNDERHEAD, is a book I will shoving down everyone’s throats for the rest of the year my life. I was initially drawn in by the beautiful cover and then I was captivated from the first page and finished in my usual fashion: crying uncontrollably into my teddy bear and pillow.

So, #sorrynotsorry for name-dropping this book up the wazoo…because I will not rest until everyone has read this beautiful book and we can all gush together.


The 411: Danny Cheng is a high school senior and talented artist, who has already been accepted to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). But ever since his acceptance, he’s felt uninspired and unable

Danny’s parents are immigrants from China. He also has an older sister who died prematurely. Even though he barely knew her, Danny has always felt an emptiness in his life where she should be. One day Danny unearths a box hidden away in the closet, full of files detailing the whereabouts of a powerful Silicon Valley family, and his parents refuse to explain.

As Danny begins to put the pieces together, he starts reflecting on things from his past that just didn’t add up. Like the time his parents moved them from Texas to California overnight with no warning. Along for the ride is Danny’s best friend, Harry, for whom he harbors a deep, hidden attraction.


First off, 90 percent of the cast of characters are of Asian descent. *insert squee here* Any typical stereotypes of Asians, i.e. Asian parents all want their kids to be doctors, are addressed head on. (And Danny’s parents are more than supportive of his future in art).

If you like getting your heart ripped out by love stories (or just in general), you’re in for a reeeeal treat. Danny’s feelings for Harry definitely aren’t the focus point of this book, but play a large role. Danny’s sexuality is also never specifically labeled, which I love. The word “gay” is never used. Danny is just Danny. And he loves Harry. (#HANNY <—  Yes, I just did that).

With all the current political conversations regarding immigrants to the US, this book feels extremely timely.  For a book that tackles many hard-hitting topics, Gilbert does it with grace. Her writing is lyrical and eloquent and her first novel, CONVICTION, skyrocketed to the top of my TBR.

Now, unfortunately, the “swerve” of this novel that touched me to my core is a spoiler and I won’t mention it more here. But just know my origin story begins the same way and it’s a storyline I’ve read very little about in YA. Once I surmised that the story was going in this direction, I actually had to hold in my gasp because it’s perfect. (Once you read, message me on Goodreads and LET’S TALK).


MY RATING:  ✰✰✰✰✰ (one of my fave books of 2018 so far)
RECOMMENDED FOR: anyone with a heart and/or soul. So everyone.
MAY I ALSO SUGGEST: STARFISH by Akemi Dawn Bowman


Thank you Disney Hyperion for my galley! Picture Us in the Light is available April 10.