Category Archives: Christina

Double the Story, Double the Fun

Replica (#1) by Lauren Oliver
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I was looking for an audiobook to listen to and I found this through my library, so I decided to give it a go! This was a book that I had first heard about when it came out and29505437 I was initially intrigued by the premise and idea of the book!

So this book follows the perspective of two girls, Lyra and Gemma. We meet Lyra at the infamous Haven Institute, which is tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida. What people don’t know about the Haven Institute is that it is a research facility where thousands of replicas, or human clones, are born, raised and observed. Lyra is one of these replicas and when an attack is launched on the Haven Institute, she and another replica (a boy only known as 72) manage to escape. Then we meet Gemma, who is a lonely teen who has been in and out of hospitals her whole life. After a scary and strange encounter with almost being abducted by a stranger, Gemma begins to investigates her family’s past and discovers that her father has a strange connection to the Haven Institute.

Now that you know what this book is about, there is something else that you need to know about this book! This book is written in half, half is from Lyras’ POV and half is from Gemmas’ POV. Both POV’s begin separately as we begin to see what each individual girl’s life is like and then the stories begin to overlap. The book can be read through different ways; you can either read all of Lyras’ story and then read Gemmas’ story OR you can either read all of Gemmas’ story and then Lyras’ story OR you can read alternating chapters between Lyra and then Gemma. This is such an interesting concept and I was even more interested to see how this experience was going to translate to via audiobook.

First, it was crazy to hear the voice of April Kepner from Grey’s Anatomy (Sarah Drew) and it was kind of a fun experience, haha!! Second, I did find that it was more cumbersome to switch back and forth between chapters more than I think it would have felt reading the physical book.

Overall the story was good and fun! I definitely liked reading from Lyras’ perspective more than Gemmas’. I found Gemmas’ character to be annoying and way focused on her body. Now reading through the book, I do understand where this is coming from but it was still infuriating to read from. Lyras’ perspective was really interesting since we get to see more than her own experiences, as we get to learn more about the Haven Institute through her perspective.

I definitely enjoyed the book. There is a second book to this, as it is a duology, and I am still debating on whether or not I will be picking it up soon. I don’t find myself to feel too curious to the rest of the story, but we shall see! Definitely a good reading experience!!

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Text Me, K? :)

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
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emergency contactAnother incredible diverse read for the win!!! This book is why representation matters so much in literature, especially today. This was another 2018 release that I was so excited for, so went ahead and got it right away thanks to Amazon!!

In this story, we follow dual-perspectives between Penny and Sam who find themselves swapping numbers thanks to an unfortunately, awkward incident. As their story progresses, they continue their relationship via their phones leading to a deeply intimate relationship with very limited IRL interactions.

First off, I really appreciated the age range of the characters in this book. Penny is in her freshman year of college and Sam is just a couple of years older. We do not typically see a lot of YA contemporaries of characters at this age or in this phase of life, which is refreshing and fun to read. It’s a different take on a contemporary, allowing the topics explored to be a bit riskier and darker which they were and I loved it!!!

Like I said, this contemporary is not your average sunny coming-of-age story, it was grittier, hard-hitting, darker and raw which made the story feel that much more real. But what I appreciated about this book was that the gritty, raw details weren’t the main parts of the story, but that they were layered within the story just like they are in real life. We are not defined by the bad things, they are parts of our bigger story and that is how this story was written about both of our characters.

And last but not least, Penny is our lead Korean-American woman who is not only a refreshing lead character but is also a different representation of Korean/Asian-American women that we typically see in literature. As an own-voices novel, I loved seeing a different take on Penny’s character and the different ways in which Korean-American women can be seen in literature. I definitely saw myself more in Penny’s character than I ever have in books and so for that, I am incredibly grateful to Mary H.K. Choi.

All in all, this was a great read. It was fun, heart-warming and a definite journey for myself and all the characters involved. This was a great new contemporary and I cannot wait to see more books from Mary H.K. Choi!!

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Rise Up!

Children of Blood & Bone (#1) by Tomi Adeyemi
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AAAAHHH!!!! YAAASSSS!!!! ALL. OF. THE. YAAAAASSS!!!!! 

Okay…now to get into my coherent review of this incredible book!! This was an children of blood and boneincredible fantasy read and a much needed read. This book follow Zélie Adebola, who is the descendant of Reapers, powerful magji whose magic used to flow through the land. One tragic evening, a ruthless king targeted the maji and had them all killed. Zélie will never forget that night, never forget the night that she watched her mother die at the hands of the ruthless king. The night that magic died.

As life happens, Zélie finds herself an opportunity to bring back magic, avenge her mothers’ death and bring down the evil monarchy. With her brother and the rogue princess, Zélie sets out on her journey and meets various obstacles along the way. Little does Zélie realize that she may be her own greatest obstacle.

This story is a West African inspired YA fantasy and it was a definite breath of fresh air for this fantasy reader. As a woman of color and as an avid fantasy reader, it was so refreshing and so impactful to read a fantasy story that only had people of color in the book. One of the greatest downfalls of the fantasy genre is the lack of representation, in any identity not just race. It is encouraging to see that more and more fantasy authors are integrating more layers of diversity into their stories and I am so excited to see what else is coming!

This book was beautiful, dark, fast-paced and action packed. It was a much darker than I had anticipated for a YA fantasy, and I was pleasantly surprised. Tomi Adeyemi took a risk with writing this dark and violent, yet also so filled with family, captivating mythology and strong women and I am here for that risk!! This book was beautiful and I am beating myself up for reading this book right when it came out, because now I have to wait an entire year for the next one!! 😦 If you haven’t already, please pick this up!! 😀 You will not regret it!! Now, I have a few spoiler-y filled thoughts, so if you haven’t read this yet…do not read further!!

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“Believing Is A Kind Of Magic…”

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Panfive-star-rating-black-clip-art-hi

TW: Suicide and Depression

This book was beyond stunning. If I could just leave my review at that, I would. This 35604686book was beyond stunning.

In this book, we follow the events that happen after Leigh’s mother commits suicide. Leigh is not certain of a lot of things after the event, but she is sure of one thing and that one thing is that her mother became a bird once she died. Leigh is half-White and half-Asian, travels to Taiwan for the first time to visit the maternal grandparents that she didn’t know she had. She goes to follow the clues left behind by her mother and this leads Leigh down a path of not only self-discovery, but discovering more about her culture and her family.

This magical realism story uses colors in a way that is stunning and literally paints a picture of mental health, grief and family. I am so grateful to Emily X.R. Pan for giving us this stunning story that explores the intersection of the Asian/Asian-American identities and mental health. This intersection is definitely not something that is explored, particularly by Asian/Asian-American authors. As an Asian-American woman who has and still struggles with mental health illnesses, this was not only a breath of fresh air but I found this to be incredibly necessary and validating.

This book doesn’t shame Leigh’s mother or her story, and it doesn’t fully only evolve around her mother’s suicide. Her mother’s suicide is the core of the story, but shows us just how interconnected mental health is with not only our experiences, but with the experiences of those around us. This story honors Leigh’s mother and her experiences, and it melted my heart.

At the end of the story, there is a note from the author where she shares her own familial experience with suicide. This note is what really set off my emotions and left me a blubbering mess of tears. I didn’t realize how much I held my breath throughout this book because I didn’t realize how overwhelmed I felt with how seen this book made me feel. I’m a bit of a blubbering mess just thinking about it all, but this book is a very important book and I hope to see more stories around this specific intersection in how mental health and culture impact one another.

If you haven’t read this book yet, GO GET IT! This is definitely one of the most stunning books I’ve read this year and I cannot wait to see more from Emily X.R. Pan.

 

 

 

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Series Review: “Study” Trilogy

Magic Study (#2) by Maria V. Snyder
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Fire Study (#3) by Maria V. Snyder
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I have been on a journey, much like Yelena in this trilogy and I have come out victorious! 🙂 I have been very curious about this trilogy for quite some time now and I finally just set out to satisfy the curiosity. I have already written a review about the first book in this trilogy, “Poison Study”, so check it out! In short, I found the first book in this trilogy to be quite addictive, dark, full of political intrigue and a lot of great potential about a fantastic magic system. I did find that a lot of this continued into the second book with one major issue that I’ll discuss further in the spoiler section, however I found that the third book slowed quite a bit for me which super bummed me out. I am surprised that these are marketed as YA books, and I think these could’ve done so much better marketed as Adult Fantasy books.

The things that I liked most about the series, as a whole, was the evolution of our protagonist, Yelena. Yelena definitely grew into her abilities, albeit quite slowly which was slightly frustrating at times. The other thing that I very much enjoyed about the rest of the series was the introduction of complex side characters and a dark political story line which I am always a fan of. I did feel a little let down by the final book as the first two were definitely highly addictive and fast-based, and then the third book weirdly slowed down to a point that I found it become a chore to finish. Le sigh…

If I’m understanding the series correctly, there is a spin-off trilogy that comes next which is based off of a side character from these books. I am definitely intrigued as I really liked this side character and I will probably pick them up sometime in the near future.

Now I only have a few spoiler-y things to discuss, so if you haven’t read this, stop now! 🙂 Overall, if you want a politically-based and dark fantasy trilogy, I definitely recommend trying this out!

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Series Preview: Poison Study

Poison Study (#1) by Maria V. Snyder
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I had first heard of this series years ago and was definitely intrigued by it, but never got around to picking it up. Recently, I was watching one of my favorite BookTubers, Regan17206162 from PeruseProject, and she had binged the trilogy, which peaked my interest again. I looked at my library and found this first book available via eBook, so I decided to check it out. And I am so glad that I did!! 😀

This first book was so great!! Admittedly, I did go into this book with some low expectations, but I found that this book way exceeded my low expectations!! For those of you who don’t know about this book, we follow Yelena, who is a convicted murder given a chance at a new life as the Commander’s poison taster. At the surface, this sounds like such a basic fantasy story but there were some surprising layers and complexity to the story. I had read someone’s review of this book and agree with the notion that I wished that this was an adult fantasy rather than a young adult, as I think that that would’ve added even more layers to the story.

Now I have read some mixed reviews of the rest of this series, so I am going to try to find a library copy of the second book to see how I feel about it. But, I did like this first book and it was definitely enough to intrigue me to continue on with the series. This is the first book in a fairly longer series with some overlapping series, which is my favorite thing to read! Depending on how I feel about the second book, I’ll either do a full series review or I’ll do an individual review if it flops for me.

This now concludes my spoiler-free review of this book and now I need to get into some spoiler-y thoughts because I definitely have a few of them!! 🙂

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Love & Injustice

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
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This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2018 AND my February Book of the 33590210Month pick, so all around I was really excited for this book! As you can see from my star rating, I LOVED this book!! This was a book that I kind of had to sit on my rating and thoughts before I made a final decision and I’m happy to say that I genuinely believe that this is a five-star read.

This book was beautifully written, captivating and heartbreaking all at the same time. We follow Celestial and Roy, a pair of happy newlyweds. Roy is a young executive and Celestial is an artist, both up and coming and at the start of their exciting careers. As happy as their lives are unfolding, it all comes tumbling as Roy is wrongfully accused of a crime and then sentenced to 12 years. Throughout the novel, we follow their individual journeys and the impact of this event on them and their marriage. This is such an important read exploring the injustice of our justice system, particularly towards Black men, but from a different lens. To me, this is equally a socially just focused book but also a tragically beautiful love story.

The thing about this book that I loved the most was the deep exploration of our characters. We take a pretty deep dive into both Celestial and Roy, but also Andre who is Celestial’s childhood friend that she takes comfort in while Roy is incarcerated. Not only do we have strong character profiles of our protagonists, but we also examine the lives of those around them which builds for a richer story. In the exploration of our characters, we find incredibly flawed, relatable and real characters. You can’t really find fault in anyone’s actions, as I would ask “what would you do” if you were to find yourself in any kind of situation like this.

I loved the different formats and switching of POV’s throughout the book. I found this to have a powerful impact on the book, as we could actually see the direct impacts on each of the characters and just helps you to understand where everyone is coming from. There is a short exchange of the story that is told in letters sent back and forth between Celestial and Roy while Roy is in jail, and this was the most heartbreaking part of the story as you really start to see the changes in their marriage just from the letters.

All in all, this was an important read and it was a heartbreaking love story. This was complex and raw, and I believe everyone needs to read this book. I am so happy to have read this and am so grateful that this got to be my Book of the Month pick! 😀

 

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