Book Review

Book Review: One for All by Lillie Lainoff

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: YA Historical Fiction
Length: 389 pages
Author: Lillie Lainoff
Publisher: Straus and Giroux
Release Date: March 8th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

An OwnVoices, gender-bent retelling of The Three Musketeers, in which a girl with a chronic illness trains as a Musketeer and uncovers secrets, sisterhood, and self-love.

Tania de Batz is most herself with a sword in her hand. Everyone in town thinks her near-constant dizziness makes her weak, nothing but “a sick girl”; even her mother is desperate to marry her off for security. But Tania wants to be strong, independent, a fencer like her father—a former Musketeer and her greatest champion.

Then Papa is brutally, mysteriously murdered. His dying wish? For Tania to attend finishing school. But L’Académie des Mariées, Tania realizes, is no finishing school. It’s a secret training ground for a new kind of Musketeer: women who are socialites on the surface, but strap daggers under their skirts, seduce men into giving up dangerous secrets, and protect France from downfall. And they don’t shy away from a swordfight.

With her newfound sisters at her side, Tania feels for the first time like she has a purpose, like she belongs. But then she meets Étienne, her first target in uncovering a potential assassination plot. He’s kind, charming, and breathlessly attractive—and he might have information about what really happened to her father. Torn between duty and dizzying emotion, Tania will have to lean on her friends, listen to her own body, and decide where her loyalties lie…or risk losing everything she’s ever wanted.

This debut novel is a fierce, whirlwind adventure about the depth of found family, the strength that goes beyond the body, and the determination it takes to fight for what you love.

AMAZING DEBUT.

I adored this read. It was a fantastic debut and I was completely wrapped up in this young adult historical fiction.

There were many things I loved including: the chronic illness rep, found family, and women supporting women. Those were the biggest highlights and made this story. The audiobook was wonderful too and I would definitely recommend that avenue as well.

I loved the growth Tania showed throughout the book. She constantly showed a deep well of strength and perseverance. To love who she is, and to find a balance within her life. Her new found friends were great side characters and really enhanced the plot. I liked the conversations and dialogue throughout.

There’s even a tiny dash of romance which is always a plus for me. I thought originally this was a fantasy (because I rarely read summaries), but I like that there actually wasn’t any magic. It was a unique historical setting, especially with the gender-bend on the Three Musketeers. I can’t wait to see what other books this author will write!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Historical Fiction
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: medium (present, but not intensely bloody/gory)
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: chronic illness, bullying, kidnapping, near death experiences, loss of a parent, implied sexual assault, ableism and internalized ableism

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Book Review

Book Review: A Pho Love Story by Loan Le

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 416 pages
Author: Loan Le
Publisher: Simon Schuster
Release Date: February 9th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

If Bao Nguyen had to describe himself, he’d say he was a rock. Steady and strong, but not particularly interesting. His grades are average, his social status unremarkable. He works at his parents’ pho restaurant, and even there, he is his parents’ fifth favorite employee. Not ideal.

If Linh Mai had to describe herself, she’d say she was a firecracker. Stable when unlit, but full of potential for joy and fire. She loves art and dreams pursuing a career in it. The only problem? Her parents rely on her in ways they’re not willing to admit, including working practically full-time at her family’s pho restaurant.

For years, the Mais and the Nguyens have been at odds, having owned competing, neighboring pho restaurants. Bao and Linh, who’ve avoided each other for most of their lives, both suspect that the feud stems from feelings much deeper than friendly competition.

But then a chance encounter brings Linh and Bao in the same vicinity despite their best efforts and sparks fly, leading them both to wonder what took so long for them to connect. But then, of course, they immediately remember.

Can Linh and Bao find love in the midst of feuding families and complicated histories?

WONDERFUL YA.

Another gem in the young adult genre y’all. And the audio book was really great!! If you’re interested in that format, would highly recommend.

There was such a sweet love story between Bao and Lin. I love how perfectly cute it was for YA, but also had deeper levels that connected back to so much more. There’s not really angst involved, it’s just two people who have a bit of a Romeo & Juliet situation happening. It was romantic watching them on dates and reconnecting.

I really like the conversations that were interspersed throughout. One was the pressure of parent expectations vs. what Bao and Lin both wanted to do with their lives post high school. There were many relatable discussions and things I connected to myself from that time in my life. I also liked the exchanges about racism. I felt my understanding became another step better because this book was yes, light-hearted, but also covered important and relevant topics.

The amount of food discussed will have you salivating. I loooove a good foody book and all of the Vietnamese dishes sounded absolutely amazing and I hope to try some one day. I love the way culture was expressed and the story-telling surrounding it all.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of a loved one, racism and microaggressions

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary + Romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: March 1st, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Sabaa Tahir comes a brilliant, unforgettable, and heart-wrenching contemporary YA novel about family and forgiveness, love and loss, in a sweeping story that crosses generations and continents.

Lahore, Pakistan. Then.
Misbah is a dreamer and storyteller, newly married to Toufiq in an arranged match. After their young life is shaken by tragedy, they come to the United States and open the Cloud’s Rest Inn Motel, hoping for a new start.

Juniper, California. Now.
Salahudin and Noor are more than best friends; they are family. Growing up as outcasts in the small desert town of Juniper, California, they understand each other the way no one else does. Until The Fight, which destroys their bond with the swift fury of a star exploding.

Now, Sal scrambles to run the family motel as his mother Misbah’s health fails and his grieving father loses himself to alcoholism. Noor, meanwhile, walks a harrowing tightrope: working at her wrathful uncle’s liquor store while hiding the fact that she’s applying to college so she can escape him—and Juniper—forever.

When Sal’s attempts to save the motel spiral out of control, he and Noor must ask themselves what friendship is worth—and what it takes to defeat the monsters in their pasts and the ones in their midst.

From one of today’s most cherished and bestselling young adult authors comes a breathtaking novel of young love, old regrets, and forgiveness—one that’s both tragic and poignant in its tender ferocity.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC.

MUST READ.

I’ve sat here in a struggle to put words together enough to explain how I think this should be a required reading type of book. Filled with some things I understand, but many more I never will. This is one of those stories that we need to hear, need to acknowledge and need to learn from.

The nuanced level at which the title, All My Rage, played out on page was impeccable. I saw the rage, I felt the rage. A complex emotion that stems from many different avenues was written out again and again in raw and deep ways. This isn’t a light-hearted read by any means. Yet with the discussion of religion and love for those around us and far from us, hope still stands like a pillar in dark times.

It was visceral and full of broken-hearted people trying to rise from the ashes. I loved the main characters, Noor, Salahudin, and Misbah. Each told their own story as they wove around each other. The strength of this story is immense. The writing was captivating and the pacing made the pages fly by. I loved the ending and these characters are going to stay with me for a long time.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary + Romance
  • Language: strong
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: drug and alcohol addiction, mentions of repressed sexual assault, physical domestic abuse, Islamophobia, racism, death, tense exchanges with law enforcement

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Book Review

Book Review: Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: YA Contemporary + Romance
Length: 328 pages
Author: Ben Philippe
Publisher: Balzer + Bay
Release Date: October 13th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Henri “Halti” Haltiwanger can charm just about anyone. He is a star debater and popular student at the prestigious FATE academy, the dutiful first-generation Haitian son, and the trusted dog walker for his wealthy New York City neighbors. But his easy smiles mask a burning ambition to attend his dream college, Columbia University.

There is only one person who seems immune to Henri’s charms: his “intense” classmate and neighbor Corinne Troy. When she uncovers Henri’s less-than-honest dog-walking scheme, she blackmails him into helping her change her image at school. Henri agrees, seeing a potential upside for himself.

Soon what started as a mutual hustle turns into something more surprising than either of them ever bargained for. . . .

This is a sharply funny and insightful novel about the countless hustles we have to keep from doing the hardest thing: being ourselves.

ADORE.

This was so CUTE. I read this via book and audio version and both were great ways to take it all in.

I found myself laughing and smiling so much throughout. These characters were just lovable and felt realistically high school without the eye roll level drama. I felt the plight of trying to get into the college of your dreams and figuring out what the next step is after getting that diploma. I love that this wasn’t only a romance and added in elements of family, friendship, and more. Exploring the pressure of many topics in a light and sincere way.

BUT, the romance was too precious which is always a win. Henri and Cori were a MATCH. They hit it off beautifully and they clearly had chemistry. I liked the way they supported one another and were able to enjoy each other’s company.

The writing had great flow and storytelling. I loved the main characters, but the side characters/family members shown in their own way too. For a shorter read I thought everyone was incredibly devloped and made this book lovable.

Did I mention there’s also a lot of dogs? BECAUSE THEY’RE ALL ADORABLE. I don’t know how they didn’t steal the show (okay, maybe they did a little?).

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary + romance
  • Language: some storng
  • Romance: kisses/make-outs; brief innuendo

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