Book Review

Book Review: From Little Tokyo, with Love by Sarah Kuhn

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 432 pages
Author: Sarah Kuhn
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 11th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

If Rika’s life seems like the beginning of a familiar fairy tale–being an orphan with two bossy cousins and working away in her aunts’ business–she would be the first to reject that foolish notion. After all, she loves her family (even if her cousins were named after Disney characters), and with her biracial background, amazing judo skills and red-hot temper, she doesn’t quite fit the princess mold.

All that changes the instant she locks eyes with Grace Kimura, America’s reigning rom-com sweetheart, during the Nikkei Week Festival. From there, Rika embarks on a madcap adventure of hope and happiness–searching for clues that Grace is her long-lost mother, exploring Little Tokyo’s hidden treasures with cute actor Hank Chen, and maybe…finally finding a sense of belonging.

But fairy tales are fiction and the real world isn’t so kind. Rika knows she’s setting herself up for disappointment, because happy endings don’t happen to girls like her. Should she walk away before she gets in even deeper, or let herself be swept away?

FANCIFUL.

I enjoyed this one! I don’t necessarily think it was intensely memorable or compares to some of the recent YA contemporaries I’ve read, but it had some charm and good moments.

The addition of Disney princess aspects was cute. Her cousins have princess names and the whole vibe of the book reads with different takes. I noticed Cinderella the most. It added a *magical* (no actual magical realism) touch to Rika’s quest.

One of my favorite aspects was Rika’s anger issues. That’s not something I’ve seen a lot of in young adult novels and I love the way it was approached. Many of the conversations made my teenage self feel seen. Rika may have struggle with it at times, but the support of those around her helped her see the strength of her passions. Other conversations such as stereotypes, being biracial, racism and fitting into the Asian community were also addressed.

For the romance, I was initially smitten. But the intense speed at which this flew had me trying to slam on the brakes. It went too fast, and took a turn I couldn’t get behind. Very sweet overall at least. Henry and Rika communicated well and really did lift each other up and I did love that.

It was an enjoyable read and one I would recommend!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses to one closed door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: racism, colorism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, parental abandonment, panic attacks, teen pregnancy (recounted)

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Book Review

Book Review: It’s All in How You Fall by Sarah Henning

Rating: ★★★★★
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Sarah Henning
Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: May 31st, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A contemporary young adult romance about moving on, finding your place, and recovering after life falls apart.

Gymnast Caroline Kepler has three state balance beam titles, a new trick even most elites can’t do, and chronic, undeniable back pain. While she might never be an Olympian, she has dreams of leveling up to elite, making Nationals, and competing in college. But when one epic face-plant changes all that and Caroline’s back pain goes from chronic to career-ending, her dreams are shattered and her life is flipped upside down.

Enter Alex Zavala, a three-sport athlete who’s both incredibly cute and incredibly off-limits. He offers to give Caroline a crash course in all the sports she’s missed, and she has an offer for him in return: For every sport Alex teaches her, she’ll play matchmaker for him. Deal done, Caroline “dates” new sports with Alex for the rest of the summer, which is loads more fun than wallowing in despair. Just as Caroline starts to see herself as more than her past athletic successes, she picks up something she didn’t bargain for: a big fat crush on Alex. Turns out life was way easier when it was just layout-fulls and beam burns.

THIS WAS AMAZING.

This was a read for any young athlete who’s had to give up a sport sooner than they were prepared for (hi, it’s me). I felt those opening scenes with every fiber of m athletic soul and the rest of the book carried a beautiful story I couldn’t get enough of.

The romance was absolutely the SWEETEST YA friends to lovers. Oh my goodness it was too much to handle. I loved Caroline and Alex. When Alex offered to hep Caroline find a new sport/activity she could possibly enjoy and sincerely took the time to show her the ropes? SMITTEN doesn’t even begin to cover it. This is exactly the kind of love story I want to see in young adult lit.

What was my favorite aspect was the COMMUNICATION. Multiple times things came up in the plot where it could have gone two ways. One being a major miscommunication that would lead to hurt feelings and drama, and the other a conversation to alleviate all of those issues. Time and again Caroline truly thought through how she felt, how she thought others would feel and chose to have a conversation rather than let things fizzle in a bad way. I LOVED IT SO MUCH.

I could spend a long time gushing about this read. It’s appropriate for younger audiences and older alike. I think there’s so much here and it really sang to my heart and I hope you give it a chance too.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: a little strong
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: career ending injury, depression

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Book Review

Book Review: First Rider’s Call (Green Rider #2) by Kristen Britain

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy
Length: 596 pages
Author: Kristen Britain
Publisher: DAW
Release Date: August 3rd, 2004
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

GHOSTLY RIDERS

Karigan G’ladheon had been a Green Rider, one of the king of Sacoridia’s elite magical messengers. Being a Green Rider was more perilous than Karigan had ever imagined, for a rogue Eletians had cracked the magical D’Yer Wall which had protected Sacoridia for a thousand years from the evil influence of Blackveil Forest–the arboreal prison of Sacoridia’s ancient enemy Mornhaven the Black–and had brought the threat of dark magic into the land. In the messenger service she had been caught up in a world of deadly danger, and though she had defeated the Eletian, she had nonetheless been tainted by his wild magic.

Exhausted in body and spirit, and determined to be the mistress of her own destiny, Karigan has returned to her home in Corsa. But Karigan’s determination was no match for the Rider’s call. Ghostly hoofbeats echoed in the deep regions of her mind, and when she awoke to find herself on horseback halfway to Sacor City–in her nightgown–she finally gave in.

Back at court Karigan found the Green Riders weakened and diminished. Rider magic was becoming unreliable, and she herself was having ghostly visions–visions of a strong woman with wild flowing hair and a blue and green tartan draped across her shoulder, pinned with a golden brooch. This woman was no stranger to Karigan nor would she have been to any Green Rider, for she was Lil Ambriodhe, First Rider, and founder of the Green Rider corps. But why was she appearing to Karigan? And would Karigan be able to seek the help of a woman who had been dead for a thousand years?

I’M INVESTED.

I didn’t know what to expect when I picked this up. I decided to try the audio (highly recommend) to make it through this tome to really decide if I wanted to invest in this series. Ohhhh did the audio convince me! I really liked this epic fantasy and I feel excited to read book three.

After about 100 pages I started to settle [and remember] who was who and what was happening. By the end I found myself intrigued by the storylines and characters. I wanted to know more about everyone and I am HOOKED on the bit of romance this book is finally adding in. Some books need a dash of romance and this is the case for the series. There’s so much action and politics and things of that nature happening that a bit heavier addition of some soft, tender moments would send this into 5 star land for me.

There’s many maaaany different lines weaving together. I liked the change of POV’s and I was able to keep up with what was happening. They’re journal chapters that gratefully do lead to a HUGE reveal that I think is going to have some great threads for the next book.

I’m excited to continue this high fantasy. It’s nice to have a thick series to work my way through and will definitely be continuing with the audio books.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Violence: physical and magical altercations, murder, loss of loved ones, fires, kidnapping, near death experiences

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Wild is the Witch by Rachel Griffin

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: YA Paranormal Romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Rachel Griffin
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: August 2nd, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

When eighteen-year-old witch Iris Gray accidentally enacts a curse that could have dire consequences, she must team up with a boy who hates witches to make sure her magic isn’t unleashed on the world.

Iris Gray knows witches aren’t welcome in most towns. When she was forced to leave her last home, she left behind a father who was no longer willing to start over. And while the Witches’ Council was lenient in their punishment, Iris knows they’re keeping tabs on her. Now settled in Washington, Iris never lets anyone see who she really is; instead, she vents her frustrations by writing curses she never intends to cast. Otherwise, she spends her days at the wildlife refuge which would be the perfect job if not for Pike Alder, the witch-hating aspiring ornithologist who interns with them.

Iris concocts the perfect curse for Pike: one that will turn him into a witch. But just as she’s about to dispel it, a bird swoops down and steals the curse before flying away. If the bird dies, the curse will be unleashed―and the bird is a powerful amplifier, and unleashing the curse would turn not just Pike, but everyone in the region, into a witch.

New witches have no idea how to control their magic and the consequences would be dire. And the Witches’ Council does not look kindly on multiple offenses; if they found out, Iris could be stripped of her magic for good. Iris begs Pike to help her track the bird, and they set out on a trek through the Pacific Northwest looking for a single bird that could destroy everything. 

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an audio ARC.

TAKE ME TO THE WILDS.

I was craving a witchy read and this delivered. Wow do I love how atmospheric and moody Griffin is able to create in a setting. I felt like I was out in the wood with Iris and Pike. The vibes are all there to bring about the best things in paranormal reads.

A ridiculous meddling owl caused all sorts of problems leading to an adventure that brought our couple together. There were solid loath to love nods and I definitely felt the initial animosity between Iris and Pike. I liked the development of their relationship and the trust they formed together. And even when things fell apart the admittance of a connection had my heart swelling.

It’s a very fast paced read with the big focus on Iris righting her wrongs. The tumultuous events lead to declarations of feelings and powerful magical moments. I liked the choices made for the story including how the curse was resolved and the relationships in general. There’s great exploration of forgiveness and working through grief too.

All in all, a vivid read filled with perseverance and hope that the sun really will rise in the morning. I love the sense of learning to let go and let be and the many aspects of growing up.

Audiobook notes: I have none! I LOVED the audio and the narration. It was well done and definitely enhanced the story for me.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Paranormal Romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: make-outs
  • Violence: medium
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: parental divorce mentioned, PTSD & trauma, anxiety, panic attacks, blood & injury depiction, cancer mentioned, fire, animal death and injury

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