Reading

We Are Not From Here – Jenny Torres Sanchez | A Book Review

We Are Not From Here - Jenny Torres Sanchez

Title: We Are Not From Here

Author: Jenny Torres Sanchez

Genre: Contemporary (Young Adult)

About the book: It follows 3 kids in Pulga, Pequeña, and Chico who attempt to make the journey from their hometown in Puerto Barrios all the way to the United States.

I received an advanced review copy from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I was looking forward to this novel as the premise sounded interesting and different from other books I’ve read. I like the title as well as the cover, both capture the essence of the story.

Characters: I adored the main protagonists. They are easy to relate to and likeable. I saw parts of myself in many of the characters. They develop so much, changing in such profound ways.

Quote:

“I guess sometimes lying to those we love is the only way to keep them from falling apart.”

Writing: The point of view alternates between Pulga and Pequeña. I loved the short chapters because they helped to build suspense and made me want to keep reading. The whole story is beautifully written but so heartbreaking at the same time. I enjoyed the Spanish words and phrases sprinkled throughout.

Final thoughts: I wasn’t sure what to expect with the ending, but I think Sanchez did a great job overall.

I highly recommend We Are Not From Here. It’s such a timely, relevant read that will have resonance for years to come.


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Reading

The End And Other Beginnings – Veronica Roth | A Book Review

Title: The End and Other Beginnings: Stories from the Future

Author: Veronica Roth

Genre: Science Fiction (Young Adult)

About the book: It’s a short story collection with black and white artwork throughout that complements the text.

I received an advanced review copy from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: The title and cover are cool. I enjoy futuristic stories, so I found the premise interesting.

Characters: Each story follows a different cast of characters. I could relate to the protagonists, and they develop a good deal by the end of their narrative.

Quote:

“I wanted one last chance to tell you that you’re worth so much more than your pain.”

Writing: The stories aren’t too short or too long. Despite the advanced technology, Roth explores human issues like friendship, revenge, as well as love.

Final thoughts: I crave closure as a reader, and I felt the ending tied up loose ends enough to satisfy me. That said, the narratives also leave room for further rumination.

If you’re looking to read a few futuristic stories, check out The End and Other Beginnings: Stories from the Future. It’s not a lengthy collection, so the book makes for a quick, fun read.


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Reading

Fireborne – Rosaria Munda | A Book Review

Title: Fireborne

Author: Rosaria Munda

Genre: Fantasy (Young Adult)

About the book: It’s the first in a series following Lee and Anne, two teens rising in the ranks as dragonriders, despite different backgrounds. Fireborne explores ties to the family you were born into and the family you choose.

I received an advanced review copy from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I adore both the title and the cover. I was also super intrigued by the novel’s themes.

Characters: The two protagonists grew on me so much. I especially enjoyed seeing Anne’s development into a more confident young woman. Even the secondary characters are unique and likeable.

Quote:

“It is difficult, knowing that your choices are ones whose consequences others suffer.”

Writing: The book alternates between Lee’s and Anne’s point of view with flashbacks to their childhood at the beginning of some chapters. Munda is descriptive, building the world in detail. Overall, I liked the platonic relationships as well as the romantic ones.

Final thoughts: The ending provides some closure while leaving questions to be answered in the second novel. I’m curious to know what happens next. My favourite fantasy novels balance fantastical elements with human issues; this book falls into that category.

I highly recommend Fireborne if you like stories about rivalries and romance.


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Reading

Crier’s War – Nina Varela | A Book Review

Title: Crier’s War

Author: Nina Varela

Genre: Fantasy (Young Adult)

About the book: It’s the first in a series with a female-female, enemies to lovers story. Ayla, a human girl, wants revenge by killing the sovereign’s daughter, Crier, an Automae. But after Alya becomes Crier’s handmaiden, both realize they aren’t that different from each other.

I received an advanced review copy from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I love a good fantasy read, so I was looking forward to this novel. The cover is beautiful.

Characters: I liked Ayla and Crier equally. They have their flaws, but I found them easy to root for. I enjoyed seeing their development alone as well as together. I will never not be a fan of diversity and representation, especially when it’s done well.

Quote:

“But if I give up, then what have I even been living for?”

Writing: The narrative alternates between the two main characters’ points of view. There’s a little romance near the end of the story. Varela is descriptive but not overly so.

Final thoughts: The ending doesn’t wrap up all the loose ends. Instead, it leaves many questions unanswered, setting the stage for the next book.

I highly recommend Crier’s War to fans of fantasy with LGBTQ+ representation.


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Reading

Break In Case Of Emergency – Brian Francis | A Book Review

Title: Break in Case of Emergency

Author: Brian Francis

Genre: Contemporary (Young Adult)

About the book: Toby Goodman’s mom committed suicide and her dad left before she was born. But now her father, a gay, female impersonator, comes home. When Toby’s plans to end her pain goes awry, she has to learn to pick up the pieces of her life and put them back together.

I received an advanced review copy from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I like the title and cover a lot. The premise intrigued me, so I was looking forward to reading it.

Characters: Toby develops a great deal throughout the course of the novel. Many of the characters are flawed in their own ways, which made it easy to relate to them.

Quote:

“It’s only when you lose something that you understand what it meant to you.”

Writing: The author explores topics such as mental health and suicide. In my opinion, Francis handles these issues really well. He doesn’t glamourize or trivialize anything.

The book isn’t too long, and the chapters are short. On one hand, it’s beautifully written; on the other, the story is so sad.

Final thoughts: The ending suits the rest of the story. Honestly, I wish I could’ve read this book when I was in high school.

I highly recommend Break in Case of Emergency if you want to read an emotional but important novel.


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Reading

A Treason Of Thorns – Laura E. Weymouth | A Book Review

Title: A Treason of Thorns

Author: Laura E. Weymouth

Genre: Fantasy (Young Adult)

About the book: It’s a stand-alone novel following Violet Sterling who has been in exile for seven years after her father committed treason. When she returns to her childhood home, Burleigh House, it’s in bad shape. Vi needs to decide what she’s willing to sacrifice in order to save her house.

I received an advanced review copy from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I haven’t read Weymouth’s debut, so I wasn’t too sure what to expect. That said, I love the cover and title. The beginning sets the stage for the rest of the story.

Characters: Violet is an interesting protagonist I could relate to, and she develops a good deal throughout the novel. Wyn is another main character who grew on me.

Quote:

“What if we don’t have to be who we were told to become?”

Writing: Weymouth is descriptive, describing many aspects of the world. The pacing is slower at the beginning and middle but picks up at the end. There’s not too much romance, just a little bit.

Final thoughts: The ending’s my favourite part of the book. Since it’s a standalone, loose ends are tied up.

A Treason of Thorns might not be for everybody, but if you enjoy fantasy with an unusual premise, consider checking it out. The novel is set in England with historical and magical realism elements.


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Reading

The Downstairs Girl – Stacey Lee | A Book Review

Title: The Downstairs Girl

Author: Stacey Lee

Genre: Historical Fiction (Young Adult)

About the book: It follows a Chinese teenager named Jo Kuan. She works as a maid by day and writes an anonymous advice column by night. Jo challenges commonly held ideas of race and gender in 1800s Atlanta, which leads to backlash from readers.

I received an advanced review copy from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: The cover sold me. I was also intrigued by the title and premise.

Characters: Jo is curious and resourceful. I saw so much of myself in her. I enjoyed seeing the different individuals develop as the story went on. I wasn’t too fond of certain characters early on, yet they grew on me.

I love diversity and representation of traditionally marginalized groups, especially when it’s done right.

Quote:

“One should never confuse cost with value.”

Writing: There’s a little bit of romance but not too much. I’m no expert on how people in Atlanta around 1980 spoke, but in my opinion, the language seems to capture that time period well.

Final thoughts: The novel gets better, and the ending is satisfying.

I highly recommend The Downstairs Girl especially if you’re a fan of historical fiction. Even if you aren’t, it’s an eye-opening read that explores racism and sexism from different perspectives.


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Reading

Swipe Right For Murder – Derek Milman | A Book Review

Title: Swipe Right For Murder

Author: Derek Milman

Genre: Mystery (Young Adult)

About the book: Aidan Jamison, a seventeen year old, finds himself on the run from the FBI and a cyber-terrorist organization after a hookup ends with someone murdered.

I received an advanced review copy from Hachette Book Group in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I love thrillers as much as anybody, so I was excited to read this novel. The title and cover intrigued me. I didn’t know what to expect.

Characters: Aidan is complex, and he has a complicated past. I appreciate the LGBTQ+ diversity with some individuals being gay. The author did a good job of representing different relationships.

Quote:

“But we can’t hold on to so much fury we succumb to pure evil, and become worse than those we hate.”

Writing: The chapters are long but have breaks in between. There’s a little bit of romance, which I didn’t mind too much. Milman addresses issues like drinking and drugs while also exploring equality and civil rights for members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Final thoughts: I wasn’t sure how the story would end, but I felt the ending provided me with enough closure.

If you’re interested in diverse YA thrillers, I’d recommend Swipe Right For Murder.


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