Blackwolf by Phil Gilvin

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the author. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Blackwolf

Author: Phil Gilvin

Book Series: Truth Sister Book 2

Rating: 3/5

Recommended For…: dystopian, feminism, sci-fi

Publication Date: April 27, 2022

Genre: Dystopian Sci-Fi

Age Relevance: 16+ (climate change, sexism, violence, gore, language, sexual content, plague, sickness)

Explanation of Above: The book discusses climate change and contains a plague and worldwide sickness in the book. There is sexism and sexual content in the book. There is some violence and gore. There is also some cursing.

Publisher: Aelurus Publishing

Pages: 300

Synopsis: What is truth in a world of lies?

Added to the deteriorating climate and dwindling energy, a wave of plagues is sweeping Britain. But while the Women’s Republic of Anglia attempts to keep cloning going, former Truth Sister Clara Perdue plans to help her mother escape from prison. But can she succeed against the Republic’s prohibition on Naturals?

Meanwhile, Jack Pike has fallen in with a warlike chieftain in the disputed territory between Anglia and Wessex. Drawn into a fight that they cannot win, will he and his friends survive?

And when Clara and Jack’s paths cross again, can they put the past behind them and trust each other once more?

Review: For the most part I thought this was a pretty good book. I liked the premise of it and was instantly drawn into it. The book had a Handmaid’s Tale feel to it and I liked it overall. The book had decent character development and world building. I liked where the story was going for the most part and how it had parallels to the real world.

However, I didn’t realize it was the second in a series and I think reading the first book would help in comprehension of this book. I thought that while the book was really reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale, I also had the same hesitation of this book that I do with THT: that the events shown are a parody or callback to events in time that have actually happened to BIPOC women, but the story doesn’t have a lot of BIPOC characters. I also didn’t see trans men or women in the book and in an era of feminism literature where a lot of authors are writing about dystopian worlds where women and/or men are killed off/enslaved  needs to address all levels of intersectionality. I also felt that the book was a bit too fast paced for my liking.

Verdict: It’s ok.

AAPI Heritage Month Book Recs

Hey bookies! May is AAPI Heritage Month! Last year I did a list of AAPI book recs for May and I’m doing it again! For this list I am keeping it to YA and MG books released in 2022 or that are releasing in 2022. I am also including all Asian authors that I can find, so some of these are not Asian American, but I wanted to do an encompassing list for all Asian authors, whether also American or not.

(book 4 comes out this year!)
(This is book 5)
(This is book 2)
Winston Chu Vs. the Whimsies by Stacey Lee
(This is Book 2!)
(This is Book 2!)
(This is Book 2!)
(This is book 0.5 of The Green Bone Saga!)
(This is book 2!)
(This is book 3!)
Untitled Shamanborn book 3 by Lori M. Lee coming in November 2022!)
(When You Wish Upon a Lantern by Gloraia Chao coming 2022!)
(This is book 2!)

Travelers Along the Way: A Robin Hood Remix

(Gloria Buenrostro Is Not My Girlfriend by Brandon Hoang to be published this year!)

Dead End Girls by Wendy Heard

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Dead End Girls

Author: Wendy Heard

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Queer MC, Queer trans side character

Recommended For…: young adult readers, thriller, LGBT, Thelma and Louise

Publication Date: May 10, 2022

Genre: YA Thriller

Age Relevance: 16+ (death, language, disordered eating, fatphobia, romance, running away, drug use, attempted overdose, underage alcohol consumption, gore, violence, sexual harassment, murder, sexual content, gaslighting, emotional abuse, child abuse, attempted murder)

Explanation of Above: This book contains death, murder, attempted murder, gore in the form of some blood and vomit, and violence in the form of stabbing and car accidents. There is moderate cursing in the book. Disordered eating is shown and mentioned, as well as fatphobic comments said to the MC. There is also gaslighting, emotional abuse to a child, and child abuse shown in the book. The book centers around characters who run away from home. There is some romance in the book and some slight sexual content. There is also drug use shown, underage alcohol consumption shown, sexual harassment mentioned and shown, and an attempted overdose shown.

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Pages: 336

Synopsis: In one week, Maude will be dead. At least, that’s what she wants everyone to think. After years of research, Maude has decided to fake her own death. She’s figured out the how, the when, the where, and who will help her unsuspectingly.

The why is complex: revenge, partly. Her terrible parents deserve this. But there’s also l’appel du vide, the call of the void, that beckons her toward a new life where she will be tied to no one, free and adrift. Then Frankie, a step-cousin she barely knows, figures out what she’s plotting, and the plan seems like it’s ruined. Except Frankie doesn’t want to rat her out. Frankie wants in. The girls vault into the unknown, risking everything for a new and limitless life. But there are some things you can never run away from. What if the poison is not in the soil, but in the roots?

This pulse-pounding thriller offers a nuanced exploration of identity, freedom, and falling in love while your world falls apart.

Review: I really liked this book! It was a fun Thelma and Louise themed book centering around  two characters who have fairly bad spaces at home, one more toxic than the other, and their attempt to make their own way in the world ala faking their own death and then having to become a little murderous. The book is Multi-POV with Frankie’s scenes being more of a flashback at what led them to this conclusion currently in the book. The character development was well done as was the world building. And overall I loved the book and had so much fun with it. It kept me on the edge of my seat as I questioned how the characters would get out of the mess they kept making for themselves and I will say that the ending is satisfying.

The only issue I had with the book is that when the scenes would cut to Frankie the voice was a little hard to distinguish from Maude and the back and forth nature of the book is a little confusing at first. You have to pay attention to the headings at the top of the chapters, which is always my arch nemesis.

Verdict: It was great!

Book Info:

Dead End Girls by Wendy Heard

Genre: Young Adult Thriller

Publishing Date: May 10, 2022

Synopsis:

In one week, Maude will be dead. At least, that’s what she wants everyone to think. After years of research, Maude has decided to fake her own death. She’s figured out the how, the when, the where, and who will help her unsuspectingly.

The why is complex: revenge, partly. Her terrible parents deserve this. But there’s also l’appel du vide, the call of the void, that beckons her toward a new life where she will be tied to no one, free and adrift. Then Frankie, a step-cousin she barely knows, figures out what she’s plotting, and the plan seems like it’s ruined. Except Frankie doesn’t want to rat her out. Frankie wants in. The girls vault into the unknown, risking everything for a new and limitless life. But there are some things you can never run away from. What if the poison is not in the soil, but in the roots?

This pulse-pounding thriller offers a nuanced exploration of identity, freedom, and falling in love while your world falls apart.

Book Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58839257-dead-end-girls

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0316310417/ref=x_gr_w_bb_sin?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_sin_ca-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dead-end-girls-wendy-heard/1140141195?ean=9780316310413

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Dead-End-Girls-Wendy-Heard/9780316310413?ref=grid-view&qid=1646576964815&sr=1-1

Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/dead-end-girls/9780316310413-item.html?ikwid=dead+end+girls&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0#algoliaQueryId=a3aaf7bd2b7caa4a922beb623158b0ee

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780316310413

About the Author:

Wendy Heard is the author of two adult thrillers: The Kill Club and Hunting Annabelle, which Kirkus Reviews praised as “a diabolically plotted creep show from a writer to watch.” She’s Too Pretty To Burn, which Kirkus called “a wild and satisfying romp” in a starred review, marks her YA debut. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America, is a contributor at Crimereads.com, and co-hosts the Unlikeable Female Characters podcast. Wendy lives in Los Angeles, California.

Author Links:

Website: https://www.wendyheard.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wendydheard

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wendydheard/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17011089.Wendy_Heard

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/wendydheard

Tour Schedule:

Hollow Fires by Samira Ahmed

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Hollow Fires

Author: Samira Ahmed

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Iraqi American Muslim character, Desi American Muslim MC, Muslim characters, Queer characters, Jewish character, Pakistani Muslim character

Recommended For…: young adult readers, mystery, contemporary, thriller, race, white supremacy

Publication Date: May 10, 2022

Genre: YA Thriller Mystery

Age Relevance: 14+ (death, kidnapping, murder, violence, gore, rape, terrorism, racism, bullying, micro aggressions, white supremacy, police brutality, antisemitism, sexism, islamaphobia, religion, language, climate change)

Explanation of Above: The book involves death and a murder of an Iraqi American child. Kidnapping is mentioned, violence is shown with fights and mentioned in various ways, and gore is briefly shown and mentioned in the form of vomit and blood. The word rape is used in the book, but nothing like that happens. It’s just a thought of what might have happened. There are a lot of tough subjects that are covered in the book, including a lot of racism and micro aggressions, extreme islamaphobia, terrorism and hate crimes committed by white people, and white supremacy shown and dog whistles mentioned. There are also instances of Donald Trump being quoted in the text. There is some showing of police brutality against Muslim characters and there are mentions of antisemitism and sexism. The Islamic religion is shown in this book and the book beautifully describes some of the practices and customs of the religion. There is minimal cursing in the read. There is one mention of climate change.

Publisher: Little, Brown

Pages: 416

Synopsis: A powerful, gripping YA novel about the insidious nature of racism, the terrible costs of unearthing hidden truths, and the undeniable power of hope, by New York Times bestselling author Samira Ahmed. Perfect for fans of Sadie and Dear Martin.

Safiya Mirza dreams of becoming a journalist. And one thing she’s learned as editor of her school newspaper is that a journalist’s job is to find the facts and not let personal biases affect the story. But all that changes the day she finds the body of a murdered boy.

Jawad Ali was fourteen years old when he built a cosplay jetpack that a teacher mistook for a bomb. A jetpack that got him arrested, labeled a terrorist—and eventually killed. But he’s more than a dead body, and more than “Bomb Boy.” He was a person with a life worth remembering.

Driven by Jawad’s haunting voice guiding her throughout her investigation, Safiya seeks to tell the whole truth about the murdered boy and those who killed him because of their hate-based beliefs.

This gripping and powerful book uses an innovative format and lyrical prose to expose the evil that exists in front of us, and the silent complicity of the privileged who create alternative facts to bend the truth to their liking.

Review: I absolutely loved this work. It made me both sad and angry, but gave me strength to fight for a better tomorrow for my BIPOC friends. The book discusses injustice in the legal system and corruption/injustice in the education system at length. The more and more the book went on, the more my heart broke. I wanted to punch so many people in this book because of the hurt they inflicted on so many children due to the adults racist agendas. The book is very raw and it demands that you listen and it does so good to show how white supremacists and lazy attitudes toward racist behavior have led to a huge issue in society today, especially in America. The book also did good to juxtapose famous quotes that alt-right politicians and others, one specifically being Donald Trump, have said to what the truth actually is. The character development was well done, the world building was superb, and I could just go on and on and on about every aspect of this book and how we should be dissecting it for study on how well it describes the increasing attitudes of today’s world. This book should definitely be taught in Literature or Social Studies classes.

The only tiny issue I had with the book is that because it’s in mixed media format and told in a flashback manner sometimes that it’s sometimes hard to remember which is the past and which is the present due to both of those times only being a year apart.

Verdict: I highly recommend you read this book so we can learn what behaviors we need to look for to protect children from the dangers of white supremacy and the alt-right.

Book Info:

Hollow Fires by Samira Ahmed

Genre: Young Adult Mystery Thriller

Publishing Date: May 10, 2022

Synopsis:

A powerful, gripping YA novel about the insidious nature of racism, the terrible costs of unearthing hidden truths, and the undeniable power of hope, by New York Times bestselling author Samira Ahmed. Perfect for fans of Sadie and Dear Martin.

Safiya Mirza dreams of becoming a journalist. And one thing she’s learned as editor of her school newspaper is that a journalist’s job is to find the facts and not let personal biases affect the story. But all that changes the day she finds the body of a murdered boy.

Jawad Ali was fourteen years old when he built a cosplay jetpack that a teacher mistook for a bomb. A jetpack that got him arrested, labeled a terrorist—and eventually killed. But he’s more than a dead body, and more than “Bomb Boy.” He was a person with a life worth remembering.

Driven by Jawad’s haunting voice guiding her throughout her investigation, Safiya seeks to tell the whole truth about the murdered boy and those who killed him because of their hate-based beliefs.

This gripping and powerful book uses an innovative format and lyrical prose to expose the evil that exists in front of us, and the silent complicity of the privileged who create alternative facts to bend the truth to their liking.

Book Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58511505-hollow-fires

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0316282642/ref=x_gr_w_bb_sin?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_sin_ca-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hollow-fires-samira-ahmed/1140137040?ean=9780316282642

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Hollow-Fires-Samira-Ahmed/9780316282642?ref=grid-view&qid=1646255635566&sr=1-1

Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/hollow-fires/9780316282642-item.html?ikwid=hollow+fires&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0#algoliaQueryId=d045818e451cb3c6e8f6d164886865c1 IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780316282642

About the Author:

Samira Ahmed is the bestselling author of Love, Hate & Other FiltersInternmentMad, Bad & Dangerous to Know, and  Amira & Hamza: The War to Save the Worlds, as well as a Ms. Marvel comic book mini-series.  Her poetry, essays, and short stories have appeared in numerous publications and anthologies including the New York TimesTake the MicColor Outside the LinesVampires Never Get Old and A Universe of Wishes.

She was born in Bombay, India, and grew up in Batavia, Illinois, in a house that smelled like fried onions, spices, and potpourri. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Samira has taught high school English in both the suburbs of Chicago and New York City, worked in education non-profits, and spent time on the road for political campaigns.

Samira currently lives in the Midwest. When she’s not reading or writing, she can be found on her lifelong quest for the perfect pastry.

Author Links:                                            

Website: https://samiraahmed.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sam_aye_ahm

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sam_aye_ahm/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8345582.Samira_Ahmed

Tour Schedule:

Nate Plus One by Kevin van Whye

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Nate Plus One

Author: Kevin van Whye

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 4/5

Diversity: Gay Black (South African ancestry) MC, Black characters, South African characters, bisexual/queer characters, M/M romance

Recommended For…: young adult readers, contemporary, romance, travel ,school band, Wedding plus one trope, LGBT, m/m romance

Publication Date: May 10, 2022

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Age Relevance: 16+ (romance, underage alcohol consumption, racism, parental death, grief, homophobia, animal death, language, sexual content, apartheid, child abuse)

Explanation of Above: There is romance in this book, as it’s a YA contemporary romance. There is some small scenes and mentions of underage alcohol consumption. Racism is mentioned in the book and some slight homophobia is shown. There is a parental death mentioned in the book and grief is shown occasionally in the text. There is an animal death shown in the book and it’s a goldfish. There are a couple of curse words in the book. There is slight sexual content, with one fade to black sex scene. Apartheid is mentioned in the book and there is some exploration into what happened in South Africa. There are also allusions to child abuse in the book.

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Pages: 256

Synopsis: Nate needs a date to his cousin’s wedding. Jai is Nate’s best friend and secret crush. Could Jai be Nate’s plus-one–and only?

Nate Hargraves is a behind-the-scenes kind of guy. That’s why he dreams of being a songwriter instead of a singer. But things change the summer after junior year as Nate gets ready to fly to South Africa for his cousin’s lavish destination wedding. The trip is bound to be epic. Except–Nate just found out that his ex-boyfriend will be at the reception. Ugh. He does not want to face this one solo.

Jai Patel, Nate’s best friend (and secret crush), has his own problems. The lead singer of Jai’s band, Infinite Sorrow, quit weeks before a contest that promised to be their big break. But Nate rocks Jai’s world when he agrees to sing with the band. Even though Nate’s not one for the spotlight, he knows this is the kind of stuff you do for . . . friends. In return, Jai volunteers to be Nate’s travel buddy around South Africa, a buffer against his ex, and his plus-one at the wedding.

Maybe this summer will be epic after all. Now that Nate’s crush is on board, will love crash the party? Fall in love with this joyful, swoon-worthy rom-com by the author of Date Me, Bryson Keller.

Review: For the most part I really liked this book. It was a cute romance and it contained a lot of things I love: school bands, wedding plus one trope, and getting over an ex/reconciliation with your past. I thought the messages in the book were well done, especially in dealing with homophobic family members and exes who want to get back together. The book was sweet and it showed an adorable romance.  I also really appreciate that this book showcases two BIPOC queer male characters and I hope to see a lot more in the future. Every reader should be able to see themselves in a multitude of books. The character development was good and the world building was great. I loved the premise of the book and it’s a book I could see myself rereading if I needed a pick-me-up.

However, I thought while the book was good, it really struggled with an overall plot. There were about 3-4 different plot points in the book and they weren’t that cohesive. The book would solve one and there would be an awkward lull until we got to the next one. The plot issue really hurt the book and it felt more like a collection of stories about this character’s dating journey than an overall novel.

Verdict: It was good! Highly recommend.

Book Info:

Nate Plus One by Kevin van Whye

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Publishing Date: May 10, 2022

Synopsis:

The gorgeous new feelgood LGBTQ+ romantic comedy from the author of Date Me, Bryson Keller!

Two boys. Two bands. Two worlds colliding.

Nate Hargraves – stage-shy singer-songwriter – is totally stoked for his cousin’s wedding in South Africa, an all-expenses-paid trip of a lifetime. Until he finds out his sleazeball ex-boyfriend is also on the guest list.

Jai Patel – hot-as-hell high school rock-god – has troubles too. His band’s lead singer has quit, just weeks before the gig that was meant to be their big break.

When Nate saves the day by agreeing to sing with Jai’s band, Jai volunteers to be Nate’s plus-one to the wedding, and the stage is set for a summer of music, self-discovery, and simmering romantic tension. What could possibly go wrong . . . ?

‘One of the most adorable, big-hearted, charming books in existence’ – Becky Albertalli, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, on Date Me, Bryson Keller! 

Book Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59447014-nate-plus-one

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09K3NCJN7/ref=x_gr_w_bb_sin?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_sin_ca-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/nate-plus-one-kevin-van-whye/1140393990?ean=9780593376423

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Nate-Plus-One-Kevin-van-Whye/9780241567807?ref=grid-view&qid=1646574059472&sr=1-1

Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/nate-plus-one/9780593376423-item.html?ikwid=nate+plus+one&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0#algoliaQueryId=93cf6b742a8a52de5d2147aa5047445b

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780593376423

About the Author:

Kevin van Whye was born and raised in South Africa, where his love for storytelling started at a young age. Kevin is the author of Date Me, Bryson Keller. He lives in Johannesburg, and when he’s not reading, he’s writing stories that give his characters the happy rom-com endings they deserve.

Author Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59447014-nate-plus-one

Tour Schedule:

In Search of a Prince by Toni Shiloh Review and Excerpt!

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: In Search of a Prince

Author: Toni Shiloh

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 4/5

Smut Rating: 0/5

Diversity: Black MC and characters

Recommended For…: Christian, romance, contemporary, royalty

Publication Date: February 1, 2022

Genre: Christian Romance

Age Relevance: 15+ (romance, religion, death, grief, slavery, depression, gore, HP content)

Explanation of Above: There is romance in the book, but there is no smut. There are some light kissing and it would be defined as “clean”. The book is religious and religion is very entrenched in this book. There are mentions of death and some grief is shown in the book. There are a couple of mentions of slavery and the oppression of Black people. There are a few mentions of depression and some slight gore involving vomit and blood. There is also one HP reference in the book.

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Pages: 352

Synopsis: Brielle Adebayo is fully content teaching at a New York City public school and taking annual summer vacations with her mother to Martha’s Vineyard. But everything changes when her mom drops the mother of all bombshells–Brielle is a princess in the kingdom of Ọlọrọ Ilé, Africa, and she must immediately assume her royal position, since the health of her grandfather, King Tiwa Jimoh Adebayo, is failing.

Distraught by her mother’s betrayal, Brielle is further left spinning when the Ọlọrọ Ilé Royal Council brings up an old edict that states she must marry before assuming the throne or the crown will be passed to another. Uncertain who to choose from the council’s list of bachelors, she struggles with the decision along with the weight of her new role in a new country. With her world totally shaken, she must take a chance on love and brave the perils a wrong decision may bring.

Review: I really liked this story! I thought the book was absolutely beautiful and I loved the Princess Diary feel of the book! The book would be perfect for someone who is looking for smut-free romance and is wanting something that’s not white-centered. The premise is intriguing and I just had to know what was going to happen next. The book had a great story and the pacing was on point. I liked the character development and the world building was fairly well done as well.

However, I did have a couple of issues with the book. I did find one mention of HP in the book, which is a huge no-no in my reviewing process because of JKR’s stance against trans people, her active campaigning against trans people, and other issues the author has that is problematic. I also didn’t realize how religious this book was as a whole when I picked it up. The book does have progressive moments, which I highly appreciated and it made for an easier read for me, but there is a lot of religion in the book and it would be classified as a Christian Romance.

Verdict: It’s good!

Excerpt:

“Your Majesty, I am afraid the news is not good.” 

Tiwa Jimoh Adebayo, king of Ọlọrọ Ilé Ijọba of Africa, closed his eyes and lowered his chin to his chest. But even that slight movement was enough to bring a cough to his lips. His shoulders shook with the effort to expel the phlegm that did not seem to move from his lungs. He wiped his mouth, using a handkerchief embroidered with the kingdom’s crest, as his chest ached from the exertion. 

“How bad is it?” he rasped. 

The doctor sighed, lines furrowing his brow. “I am afraid there is nothing more that we can do, my king. The chemotherapy has been too taxing on your body and ineffective against the cancer.” He shifted on his feet. “All we can do now is make you as comfortable as possible.” His pause stretched heavy in the room, the only sound the king’s struggled breathing. “Dare I suggest, Your Majesty, that you present an heir to our great country?” 

Yes. Of course. The time had come for the nation to know his heir—

heiress. The granddaughter Tiwa had never met. He had wanted to remedy the situation, but regrets and pride had lengthened the time since his gross mistake and expanded the distance. 

Tiwa wiped his mouth again. “You are right, Dr. Falade.” He rose unsteadily to his feet. “Rest assured, the kingdom will continue to thrive after I am gone.”

Review:

Duet by Elise Broach

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Duet

Author: Elise Broach

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 3/5

Recommended For…: middle grade readers, contemporary, music, biography-like

Publication Date: May 10, 2022

Genre: MG Contemporary

Age Relevance: 8+ (death, animal violence, sickness)

Explanation of Above: There is death mentioned very briefly and sometimes vaguely in this book. There is some animal violence displayed in a little bit of a cartoonish manner in the book. Sickness is also mentioned briefly.

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Pages: 304

Synopsis: A musically gifted bird, a piano-playing boy, and a real-life mystery involving three artistic geniuses

Welcome to the world of Mirabelle, a young goldfinch who loves to sing and dreams of becoming a musical star. She lives with her family in the backyard of a piano teacher, and she is quickly intrigued by Mr. Starek’s newest pupil. Michael Jin is an eleven-year-old keyboard sensation, but lesson after lesson, he refuses to play.  With the prestigious Chopin Festival looming at summer’s end, how will he be ready in time?  Mirabelle is responsible for Michael’s breakthrough—to her own astonishment, she sings the Chopin piece he is beginning to play at the piano. It is their first duet.

Thus begins a secret adventure that will take Mirabelle and Michael further than they ever imagined—in music, in friendship, and in solving the mystery of a lost piano that could be worth millions.  A house full of treasures holds the clues. There, Mirabelle, Michael, and their friend Emily will make an important discovery that links the great composer Frederic Chopin, the trailblazing author George Sand, and the French Romantic painter Eugene Delacroix.

A fast-paced, history-rich mystery will have young readers hooked as they root for boy and bird in this beautifully told novel, full of emotion and suspense.

Review: I liked this book alright. The book contains a bird MC, which is probably the first of that I’ve read in a bit. The book does well to show the healing power of music and it’s a good little biography-like book on Chopin, a famous pianist, Sand, an author, and Delacroix, a painter. The book is fun and has good character development. The story is simple and sweet and would make a fun bedtime story to read to little ones or a good beginner book for younger middle grade readers.

However, I did think the book was a bit too slow for me personally and it was weirdly formatted. The book is like part biography, with a lot of info dumps about Chopin, Sand, and Delacroix, and part story about this bird and her love of music, but also a side story plot with the humans and their own issues. The stories didn’t really mesh well together in my opinion and there was just a lot going on. The plot is also really loose because of this.

Verdict: It was good.

Book Info:

Duet by Elise Broach

Genre: Middle Grade Mystery

Publishing Date: May 10, 2022

Synopsis:

A musically gifted bird, a piano-playing boy, and a real-life mystery involving three artistic geniuses

Welcome to the world of Mirabelle, a young goldfinch who loves to sing and dreams of becoming a musical star. She lives with her family in the backyard of a piano teacher, and she is quickly intrigued by Mr. Starek’s newest pupil. Michael Jin is an eleven-year-old keyboard sensation, but lesson after lesson, he refuses to play.  With the prestigious Chopin Festival looming at summer’s end, how will he be ready in time?  Mirabelle is responsible for Michael’s breakthrough—to her own astonishment, she sings the Chopin piece he is beginning to play at the piano. It is their first duet.

Thus begins a secret adventure that will take Mirabelle and Michael further than they ever imagined—in music, in friendship, and in solving the mystery of a lost piano that could be worth millions.  A house full of treasures holds the clues. There, Mirabelle, Michael, and their friend Emily will make an important discovery that links the great composer Frederic Chopin, the trailblazing author George Sand, and the French Romantic painter Eugene Delacroix.

A fast-paced, history-rich mystery will have young readers hooked as they root for boy and bird in this beautifully told novel, full of emotion and suspense.

Book Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58064769-duet

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s?i=stripbooks&rh=p_66%3A9780316311557&tag=hacboogrosit-20

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/duet-elise-broach/1140137071?ean=9780316311557&st=AFF&2sid=Hachette%20Book%20Group_8040641_NA&sourceId=AFFHachette%20Book%20Group

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Duet-Elise-Broach-Ziyue-Chen/9780316311359

Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/duet/9780316311359-item.html?ikwid=duet+elsie+broach&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0#algoliaQueryId=2ecab12151efea27e90acfd8558585d9 IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780316311359

About the Author:

Elise Broach is the author of more than twenty books for young readers, including board books, picture books, early readers, middle-grade mysteries, and young adult novels. Her picture book, My Pet Wants a Pet, was named Parents Magazine’s Best Picture Book of 2018. Another picture book, When Dinosaurs Came with Everything, won the E. B. White Read-Aloud Award and was Time Magazine’s #1 Children’s Book of the Year. Her middle-grade novel, Masterpiece, was a New York Times bestseller and also won the E. B. White Read-Aloud Award. Elise’s books have appeared on more than a dozen state reading lists. She lives in Connecticut and teaches creative writing at Yale University. 

Author Links:

Website: http://www.elisebroach.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/23642.Elise_Broach

Tour Schedule:

Lia Park and the Missing Jewel

BOOK INFORMATION

TITLE: Lia Park and the Missing Jewel

AUTHOR: Jenna Yoon
PUBLISHER: Aladdin
RELEASE DATE: May 3, 2022

GENRES: CHILDREN’S, MIDDLE GRADE
BUY LINK: https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Lia-Park-and-the-Missing-Jewel/Jenna-Yoon/Lia-Park/9781534487932

SYNOPSIS:

Perfect for fans of the Storm Runner and Aru Shah series, this thrilling middle grade fantasy follows a young girl who must venture to the undersea kingdom of the Dragon King in Korea to save her parents from an evil diviner spirit.

Twelve-year old Lia Park just wants to fit in. Her parents work with a mysterious organization that makes them ridiculously overprotective. Lia’s every move has been scrutinized since she was born, and she’d love to have the option of doing something exciting for once. So when she gets invited to the biggest birthday party of the year—and her parents say she can’t go—Lia sneaks out.

But her first act of rebellion not only breaks her parents’ rules, but also an ancient protection spell, allowing an evil diviner spirit to kidnap and ransom her parents for a powerful jewel that her family has guarded for years. With just the clothes on her back and some very rusty magical skills, Lia finds herself chasing mysterious clues that take her to her grandmother’s home in Korea.

From there, she has to make their way to the undersea kingdom of the Dragon King, the only person who knows where the powerful jewel might be. Along with her friend, Joon, Lia must dig deep and find courage to stand up for those who are weak—and become the hero her parents need.

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Jenna Yoon studied Art History at Wellesley College and received her master’s degree in Korean art history from Ewha Womans University. She’s lived about half her life in both Korea and the United States. When she’s not writing, Jenna loves to travel, find yummy eats, play board games, and take skin care very seriously. Currently, she lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two kids.

Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor by Xiran Jay Zhao

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc and physical copy from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor

Author: Xiran Jay Zhao

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Muslim Chinese MC and side character, Chinese side characters

Recommended For…: middle grade readers, fantasy, Chinese, Chinese history and mythology

Publication Date: May 10, 2022

Genre: MC Fantasy

Age Relevance: 12+ (racism, micro aggressions, possession, violence, death, scary moments)

Explanation of Above: There is some racism and micro aggressions shown throughout the book toward the MC. Possession by ancient ancestor is shown. There is some small violence and death in the book. There are also some scary moments that might scare some younger readers.

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Pages: 340

Synopsis: A middle grade contemporary fantasy that follows a young boy as he journeys across China to seal the underworld shut and save the mortal realm.

Zachary Ying never had many opportunities to learn about his Chinese heritage. His single mom was busy enough making sure they got by, and his schools never taught anything except Western history and myths. So Zack is woefully unprepared when he discovers he was born to host the spirit of the First Emperor of China for a vital mission: sealing the leaking portal to the Chinese underworld before the upcoming Ghost Month blows it wide open.

The mission takes an immediate wrong turn when the First Emperor botches his attempt to possess Zack’s body and binds to Zack’s AR gaming headset instead, leading to a battle where Zack’s mom’s soul gets taken by demons. Now, with one of history’s most infamous tyrants yapping in his headset, Zack must journey across China to heist magical artifacts and defeat figures from history and myth, all while learning to wield the emperor’s incredible water dragon powers.

And if Zack can’t finish the mission in time, the spirits of the underworld will flood into the mortal realm, and he could lose his mom forever

Review: For the most part this was a great book! I loved the storyline, it was unique and had a very interesting premise. I thought that the magic system and how the information was overlaid to Zachary was also interesting and well done. It’s a fun read that I think most kids would highly enjoy and one that I think that could use to help learn about the Chinese Emperors. The characters are also well developed and the world building was as well.

However, I had issue connecting to the book. I thought the book was a bit too fast paced and it took me a bit to get into it because of that pacing.

Verdict: It was great! Highly recommend!