Book Review: A Song Of Wraiths And Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

Book: A Song Of Wraiths And Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

Published June 2020 by Balzer + Bray|480 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: A Song Of Wraiths And Ruin #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.

But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic…requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.

When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?

The first in an fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore in which a grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee find themselves on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction.

I liked A Song Of Wraiths And Ruin!  It took me a while to get through it, and I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would, but I’m still glad I read it.

I liked that Malik cared so much about his sisters.  They are really important to him, and he just wants things to be better for both his family and himself.  I’m not sure how I feel about Karina but I felt for her.  I can understand why she’d want to resurrect her mother- she just didn’t feel ready to step into her mother’s shoes.  It couldn’t have been easy, having to be the heir after the death of her sister, and the unexpected death of her mother.

Things are not what they seem, and Karina learns a lot about what’s really go on, and what’s holding her country together.  Things go very, very wrong, of course, and things are going to change pretty drastically.  But I think they’ll get there.  It makes you wonder what’s going to happen next, with everything that happened in this book.  There were some twists and turns along the way, and those things make me curious about what Karina is really up against, and how it’s going to work out.

There are a lot of different connections in this book- I didn’t see all of them right away, but looking back, they did make sense, and it was something that made me sad for Karina.  It really affected and changed things for her, and to find out who did it and why…it had to have been a shock to be betrayed like that.  I’m kind of wondering what I’d pick up on if I did a re-read of this book but maybe before the next book comes out, I’ll do a re-read.

This was another book I struggled to get through, and this was a book where I found myself reading a few chapters at a time.  I had a really hard time focusing on this book.  It is what it is, and that’s just how it worked out, because I did want to like this book more.  Still, the world is interesting, and like I said before, you can’t help but wonder what’s going to happen next.

Something about it made me think of Children Of Blood And Bone- I’m not sure what it is, but I think, if you really liked that book, you’ll like this one.  They do go pretty well together!  I don’t know if it’s the setting or the magic, or what, but it’s a pretty good read-alike for that book.

3 stars.  I liked A Song Of Wraiths And Ruin, but I struggled to get through it.  Still, I liked the world and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Book Review: Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Book: Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Published August 2020 by Amulet Books|368 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Raybearer #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Nothing is more important than loyalty. But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy?

Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself?

Raybearer was a book I was really excited about, but it ended up being just okay for me.

I struggled with this book- I’d read a few chapters at a time, and then have to put it down.  I don’t know if I just wasn’t in the mood for this book, or if maybe I needed to listen to it on audio, or what was going on, because I really wanted to like it more than I actually did.

I love the idea of the book, though.  I mean, a council of 11, who help the prince rule the land, and have this magical bond?  It’s pretty cool.  And the fact that they can get sick if they’re too far apart?  That’s really different, but also interesting.  I mean, it forces them to not go running off to do their own thing, and make sure they’re close to the Crown Prince.  The fact that they’re all chosen is children is interesting too.  It’s one way to ensure the council is loyal to the prince.  Easier to form a bond if they’re all children.  It’s a little horrifying, in all honesty, especially given what happens throughout the book, and the task Tarisai is given.

And what we learn about Raybearers makes it a little more horrifying and scary.  It’s amazing what information rulers do (and do not) want out there and how different things could be if that knowledge was known.

I did feel for Tarisai, though.  Things were not easy for her- with her childhood, and everything she learns about her family.  I felt for her, trying to find her own path while also wanting to protect Dayo, and carrying out the task the Lady gave her.  She just wanted to belong, which makes so much sense considering how she grew up.  She wants love and family and friends and people who care about her.  Being part of the council offers her that chance.  We grow up with her, though it felt like we missed quite a few years.

The setting is amazing!  In particular, the sounds described in this book made the book come alive.  And even now, there are things described in the book that I can still picture.  Still, there are a lot of people and places and other bits of information that I had a hard time keeping track of.

I did get through the last few chapters pretty fast- that was when I got really into the book, and I’m a little sad it took me so long to get into this book, especially because of the things I did like.

2 stars.  I really wanted to like this book more, but it ended up being just okay for me.  I’m still looking forward to reading the next book in this series, because I want to know what happens.  Even though it wasn’t for me, I still think it’s worth checking out.

Book Review: Rent A Boyfriend by Gloria Chao

Book: Rent A Boyfriend by Gloria Chao

Published November 2020 by Simon Schuster Books For Young Readers|400 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before meets The Farewell in this incisive romantic comedy about a college student who hires a fake boyfriend to appease her traditional Taiwanese parents, to disastrous results, from the acclaimed author of American Panda.

Chloe Wang is nervous to introduce her parents to her boyfriend, because the truth is, she hasn’t met him yet either. She hired him from Rent for Your ’Rents, a company specializing in providing fake boyfriends trained to impress even the most traditional Asian parents.

Drew Chan’s passion is art, but after his parents cut him off for dropping out of college to pursue his dreams, he became a Rent for Your ’Rents employee to keep a roof over his head. Luckily, learning protocols like “Type C parents prefer quiet, kind, zero-PDA gestures” comes naturally to him.

When Chloe rents Drew, the mission is simple: convince her parents fake Drew is worthy of their approval so they’ll stop pressuring her to accept a proposal from Hongbo, the wealthiest (and slimiest) young bachelor in their tight-knit Asian American community.

But when Chloe starts to fall for the real Drew—who, unlike his fake persona, is definitely not ’rent-worthy—her carefully curated life begins to unravel. Can she figure out what she wants before she loses everything?

I really liked Rent A Boyfriend!  I really liked Chloe and Drew, and I really felt for both of them.

As much as I liked this book, and (some of) the characters, I found that I was angry at Chloe’s parents for most of the book.  I know they want to make sure she’s okay and taken care of and happy, especially in the wake of her dad’s illness.  She’s more than capable of taking care of herself, and she doesn’t need a guy to take care of her.  Of course, love’s important, but it’s sad they’re pushing her to someone she doesn’t want and who is pretty terrible person.  I’m angry that they didn’t tell her why they were pushing so hard for her to get married, I’m angry that her virginity was a selling point, and that not being a virgin would ruin her, and I’m angry that she had to rent a boyfriend so they’d leave her alone, only for them to still push her towards Hongbo.

It also makes me sad that this is something she needs to worry about and deal with.  She eventually tells her parents about Drew, and while it makes things really difficult between them, they do come around.  I understand why she feels like two different people and being ourselves around family can be really hard.  Especially with her parents, but she figure out what she wants and becomes honest about it, even though it’s really hard and it gets complicated along the way.

I like her and Drew together.  I loved their random conversations, and their text messages, and they’re just really cute together.  Meeting each other ended up being a really good thing for both of them.  It’s a really cute romance while also dealing with some pretty serious things.  There was a really good balance between everything.  If you like the fake relationship turning into a real one trope, this is a great book for you!

I’m glad we got to see his POV, because I really liked seeing how he saw things.  Don’t get me wrong, we spend plenty of time with Chloe, and I’m glad we do, but it was also nice to get a different take on things, and see how he saw her.  Also, I’m sad for Drew.  Chloe has her own issues to deal with, but so does Drew.  And it just made me sad that his parents cut him off just because he’s an artist, and wants to pursue that.  Also, the comparison to someone he didn’t know made me sad for him as well.

I totally want to use sleep loose from now on, by the way.  It’s totally random, but true!

I really liked Chloe, and I can relate to how insecure she is.  It’s no wonder she is, with all the things she’s heard over the years.  Words have more of an impact than people think, and though people might not mean to be hurtful or think they’re actually helping, it doesn’t mean that words don’t hurt, and that we don’t internalize it and start to believe it.  I think it’s part of why I was so angry on her behalf.  I really do hope that things get better between Chloe and her parents, and that they (but especially her mom) are more accepting of her.

4 stars.  I really liked Rent A Boyfriend.  I was angry and sad but also happy and this is a cute romance with some seriousness as well.  I’m glad I picked this book up!

Book Review: No, You Shut Up: Speaking Truth To Power And Reclaiming America by Symone D Sanders

Book: No, You Shut Up: Speaking Truth To Power And Reclaiming America by Symone D. Sanders

Published May 2020 by Harper|240 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Non-fiction/Politics/Memoir

In this rousing call to leadership, the self-described millennial spokesperson for the culture, CNN’s designated “woke AF” former commentator, and the youngest national press secretary in the history of the United States shares her take-no-prisoners approach to life, politics, and career success, and shows a new generation how to be loud and powerful in their own right.

Many people—most notably white older men—may try to stop Symone Sanders from speaking up and out. But Symone will NOT shut up. And neither should you. In this inspiring call-to-action, Symone tells stories from her own life of not-shutting-up alongside loud young revolutionaries who came before her to help you find your authentic voice and use it to your advantage; to fight ideological battles more effectively; and to resist those who try to silence you.

We are all gurus, masterminds, artists, entrepreneurs—we are the change agents we have been waiting for. IT IS US. And the time is RIGHT NOW. I know you’re wondering, “But HOW?” And we don’t have all the answers! Symone is the first to admit we’re all winging it in one way or another. But the point is we’re out there doing it. So get started. Open your mouth and start talking. Loudly.

No You Shut Up goes beyond the surplus of “Vote-Or-Die” books we’ve seen before. Because change doesn’t just happen at the ballot box. We need people fighting oppression, injustice, and inequality—in the workplace, on the cultural battlefield, in government, in every corner of the world. With spirited storytelling filtered through a voice that cannot and will not be ignored, Symone inspires you to start now. You don’t need to have all the answers, or wait your turn to help create the change you want to see. All you need is a new toolbox, an unshakable commitment, and the confidence and guidance to wield those tools effectively. 

I wasn’t sure what to expect with No, You Shut Up, but it ended up being an okay read for me.

It’s part memoir, part call-to-action in politics.  I really enjoyed reading about Sanders time in politics, and what it was like to work on Bernie Sander’s campaign, and working as a commentator on CNN.  It was very clear she knew what she wanted, and went for it.  She didn’t have all the answers, but she wants things to change, and she refuses to stay quiet and shut up.  She’s determined, and finds really creative ways to get what she wants.  She doesn’t take no for an answer, she knows how to set boundaries and stick with them, and she asks for what she wants in clear and plain terms.

It’s clear that she believes that we can be better, that who we are is really important, and that we can, and should, have a role in shaping politics and getting involved in things.  Overall, it’s an interesting look at what it’s like to work on a campaign, but I don’t know that I could begin to tell you how to otherwise get involved in politics and change things by something other than voting or working on a campaign.

Personally, I would have liked something a little more concrete than that, but I felt like it was a good look at her own life in politics.  She shared a lot of stories from her own life, and I could tell that she wanted to make a difference and that she knew what she wanted to do.  She got as much experience as she could- she had a lot of internships, worked on different campaigns, and at different organizations, with each one expanding her skill set and getting her closer to what she wanted to do- work in politics.  She didn’t always get the job she wanted, but that didn’t stop her at all, and if anything, she worked harder to get where she wanted to be.

The book felt very conversational, like she was telling me what happened.  It’s a fast read, though I could only manage a chapter or two at a time.  She didn’t get bogged down in details, and it would be easy enough to read in a day or two.

Even though I thought it was okay, I still think it’s worth checking out.  Especially if, after the last four years, you want to be more involved, or want a peek at what it’s like to work in politics, particularly the Democratic party.

2 stars.  This was a book that I thought was okay, but I still liked reading about how Sanders got to where she is today.

Audio Book Review: Juliet Takes A Breath by Gabby Rivera, Narrated by Lillian Claire

Book: Juliet Takes A Breath by Gabby Rivera, Narrated by Lillian Claire

Published July 2016 by Audible Studios|Run Time: 7 hours, 35 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff.

Will Juliet be able to figure out her life over the course of one magical summer? Is that even possible? Or is she running away from all the problems that seem too big to handle?

With more questions than answers, Juliet takes on Portland, Harlowe, and most importantly, herself.

I liked Juliet Takes A Breath!  Juliet’s pretty cool, and I loved seeing her as an intern in Portland.  She learns a lot about herself and others, and it was great to be along for the journey.

I was pretty angry at her family when she came out to them.  I was angry that they saw it as a joke, and didn’t take it seriously.  I was angry that they saw it as a phase she’ll grow out of.  I know not everyone has supportive families, but I still found myself angry at them and their reaction, because Juliet deserves so much better than that.

She had quite the summer in Portland.  She’s a world away from New York, and her time in Portland wasn’t what she expected.  We see social justice, feminism, race, sexuality, and how they do (or do not) intersect.  We see that the people we look up to are flawed, and that meeting our heroes can be hard, and that they’re not who we thought they were.  That the words they write can be hard to separate from the person writing them, and that they can get some things wrong, while also getting some things right.  That people can be allies in some ways, but ignorant in other ways.  I can see why Juliet clung to Harlowe’s book- we all have that something we hold onto for dear life, that thing that means the world to us, and the realization that we can’t put the creator of it on a pedestal.  Still, I’m sad that Harlowe was great in some ways, but horrible in other ways, and that Juliet had a front row seat for it.

Still, I loved some of the people Juliet met over the course of the summer, and I hope that she stays in contact with some of them.  Like Kira, and Harlowe’s ex.  And the women from the workshop that wanted Juliet to submit her story to the anthology she was putting together.  I wish I could remember their names, but they seemed really cool and supportive, and I hope Juliet talks to them long after the book is over.  I also hope Juliet’s family comes around as well, and they’ll be more accepting of her and whoever she brings home to meet them.

Honestly, I just enjoyed seeing Juliet figure things out and what she learned about life, other people, and herself.  She has a clear, honest voice, and I found myself rooting for her the whole time.

3 stars.  I didn’t love Juliet takes a breath, but I still liked it!  Juliet had an interesting summer, and I was glad I was there for it.

Book Review: Something To Say by Lisa Moore Ramee

Book: Something To Say by Lisa Moore Ramee

Published July 2020 by Balzer + Bray|304 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

From the author of A Good Kind of Trouble, a Walter Dean Myers Honor Book, comes another unforgettable story about finding your voice—and finding your people. Perfect for fans of Sharon Draper, Meg Medina, and Jason Reynolds.

Eleven-year-old Jenae doesn’t have any friends—and she’s just fine with that. She’s so good at being invisible in school, it’s almost like she has a superpower, like her idol, Astrid Dane. At home, Jenae has plenty of company, like her no-nonsense mama; her older brother, Malcolm, who is home from college after a basketball injury; and her beloved grandpa, Gee.

Then a new student shows up at school—a boy named Aubrey with fiery red hair and a smile that won’t quit. Jenae can’t figure out why he keeps popping up everywhere she goes. The more she tries to push him away, the more he seems determined to be her friend. Despite herself, Jenae starts getting used to having him around.

But when the two are paired up for a class debate about the proposed name change for their school, Jenae knows this new friendship has an expiration date. Aubrey is desperate to win and earn a coveted spot on the debate team.

There’s just one problem: Jenae would do almost anything to avoid speaking up in front of an audience—including risking the first real friendship she’s ever had. 

Something To Say was really cute!  I really liked it, and I’m glad I read it.

I really liked Jenae, and she was very easy to relate to.  I always hated talking in front of an audience and I could relate to doing anything possible to not do it.  I never went to the lengths she did, but I completely understand why she’d do anything she could to not do it.

I loved her relationship with her family, but especially her grandpa.  It made me think of my grandparents, and how I grew up with them.  I really do love books where we see the characters have relationships with their grandparents.  When her grandpa has a stroke, I felt how much it affected her- I think a lot of it was because my grandma had a stroke when I was in high school, and I knew what she was going through.  I really was reminded of my own relationship with my grandparents when I read this book.

I liked that she did speak up at the meeting regarding the name change for her school.  I don’t think it was easy for her, but she did it anyway.  It was a pretty important part of the book, and it’s something I can see happening today.  If it’s not happening somewhere, I’d be really surprised.  But I am glad they changed the name of her school.  There are people who aren’t going to like it, but there are also people who are happy about it, and are glad the name of the school reflects the community that it’s a part of.

This book was great to read, and I not only liked the story but the characters!

4 stars.  I really liked Something To Say, and I’m glad we saw Jenae learn to speak up when she really needed to.  I loved the family relationships we saw in the book too!

Book Review: Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Book: Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Published July 2020 by Bloomsbury YA|400 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy/Fairy Tale Re-Telling

It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.

Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew…

This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.

I really liked Cinderella Is Dead, and I’m really glad I read it!

This is a very unique take on the Cinderella story.  Centuries after the death of Cinderlla, and Lille is a horrible place to live, especially where women and girls are concerned.  They’re abused and at the mercy of men, and it’s up to Sophia and Constance to take down Prince Charming so all women can have better lives.

I was not expecting Prince Charming to be so horrible, but he was.  He executed a seamstress, accusing her of helping Sophia leave because all Sophia did was stop in her shop.  Prince Charming is definitely the villain in this story, and Cinderella’s step-mother and step-sisters were part of the resistance against Prince Charming.  Centuries later, they’re still fighting against a man who uses the souls of young women to stay alive.

Also cool was the take on the fairy godmother- she’s a witch, the mother of Prince Charming, and the reason he’s still in power.  But she’s also the reason he was able to not be in power.  So even though we thought she was on our side, only to see that she wasn’t, she still did the right thing, and helped break the curse on this really tiny town.

I like that we questioned the version of the story we got, and I loved that the version put out by the palace had nods to the original fairy tale, and not the Disney movie.  Which I love, don’t get me wrong, but this story was dark, and I’m glad it used some of the original story.  By the end of the book, we learn so much about what happened to Cinderella both before and after her marriage to Prince Charming, and it really makes you think about the stories we’re told.

What really happened is so completely different than the story the palace puts out, and there are some pretty big differences between the two.  I am glad that we get the real story, and that it’s the one that everyone knows as well.  They have a lot of work ahead of them, but they’re definitely on the right path.

I liked Sophie, and I felt really bad for her.  Her parents didn’t seem accepting of who she was, and I get that her world is not accepting of anyone who is part of the LGBT community.  We see it with her, her best friend and another character that we meet.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember his name, but he was willing to make a run for it with Sophia, and try to have a better life somewhere else.

With her best friend in particular, it was hard to tell if she felt the same way, but couldn’t reciprocate because she was worried about what would happen to her and her family.  Maybe she didn’t feel the same way towards Sophia.  Either way, her eventual husband was this horrible, abusive man, and it’s sad that they had to live in a world like that.  No one should have to live like that, and I’m glad that Sophia and Constance were able to change things.  They made it very clear that things were going to change, and that there will be consequences.

4 stars.  I really liked Cinderella Is Dead, and it’s such a different but really cool take on a story we all know.

Book Review: Aru Shah And The Tree Of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

Book: Aru Shah And The Tree Of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

Published April 2020 by Rick Riordan Presents|358 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Pandava Quartet #3

Genre: MG

War between the devas and the demons is imminent, and the Otherworld is on high alert. When intelligence from the human world reveals that the Sleeper is holding a powerful clairvoyant and her sister captive, 14-year-old Aru and her friends launch a search-and-rescue mission. The captives, a pair of twins, turn out to be the newest Pandava sisters, though, according to a prophecy, one sister is not true.

During the celebration of Holi, the heavenly attendants stage a massage PR rebranding campaign to convince everyone that the Pandavas are to be trusted. As much as Aru relishes the attention, she fears that she is destined to bring destruction to her sisters, as the Sleeper has predicted. Aru believes that the only way to prove her reputation is to find the Kalpavriksha, the wish-granting tree that came out of the Ocean of Milk when it was churned. If she can reach it before the Sleeper, perhaps she can turn everything around with one wish.

Careful what you wish for, Aru . . . 

I really liked this one!  I’ve enjoyed the series a lot, and this book was no exception.

We meet two more of the Pandava sisters, though we didn’t spend a lot of time with them.  I’m sure we will in the next book, which would be nice.  The twins are definitely the younger sisters of the group- they want to be part of things, but aren’t completely included because they’re still too young.  Still, they did help in their own way, and hopefully, they’ll have more of a role to play in the next book.  It would be a shame if they were introduced only to have a very minor role to play.

I really liked seeing Aru think about her father, and how things could have been different.  She reflects a lot on their relationship and I think she’s changed in the sense that we wouldn’t have seen that self-reflection in the first two books.

I have to say, Mini is amazing!  She’s changed so much and she really is wise and thoughtful.  She doesn’t get the attention Aru does, but she really deserve more attention!  This group would be very different with her, though you could say that about all of the characters.  Losing one means that entire group dynamic has changed, and they all work really well together!  But as far as Mini is concerned, you can tell she puts a lot of thought into things.

There’s a lot of adventure, and things aren’t easy for Aru and everyone else.  Still, they get through it together.  They really make a good team, and I can’t wait to see how their new sisters fit in.

4 stars.  I really liked Aru Shah And The Tree Of Wishes.  I loved seeing Aru learn more about her father, and I can’t wait to read the next book.

Book Review: The Chaos Curse by Sayatani DasGupta

Book Review: The Chaos Curse by Sayatani DasGupta

Published March 2020 by Scholastic Press|368 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Kiranmala And The Kingdom Beyond

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Creating order out of chaos has frightening consequences in this New York Times bestselling series!

Kiranmala must leave the Kingdom Beyond and travel to her hometown of Parsippany to save Prince Lal, who has been spirited to the unlikeliest of places — a tree in the yard of her best-enemy-for-life. She also faces evil serpents (of course!), plus a frightening prophecy about her role in the coming conflict between good and evil. Most troubling of all, though, is the way reality all around her seems to waver and flicker at odd moments. Could it be that the Anti-Chaos Committee’s efforts are causing a dangerous disruption in the multiverse?

Kiran must grapple with the increasingly tangled threads that threaten to ensnare her…and everyone in the world and the Kingdom Beyond.

I liked The Chaos Curse!  I wish I liked it as much as the first two books in the series but I still liked it.  Even if it wasn’t as much as I wanted to like it.

The characters felt really young in this book.  I know it’s middle grade, and the characters are supposed to be young.  It’s weird, because I didn’t feel that way with the other books in the series.  We are living in pretty weird times, and maybe I just wasn’t reading this book at the right time.  I’m not in the biggest mood to read right now, so I’m pretty sure that’s why I had a hard time with this book.

The thought that the characters seemed young was something I thought pretty much the whole time I read the book.  Don’t get me wrong, I really like Kiran and seeing what adventures she has.  Overall, this book was just as fun as the other books, and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

I really liked the story.  Everything is definitely mixed up and very alternate universe.  Things do go back to normal, of course, but things definitely go haywire for a while.  I’m glad Kiran and her friends were able to get things back to normal.

Well, as normal as they’ll ever be for this world.  Things always go wrong, and there’s always an adventure to be had.  I really like the world, and I really feel like we learn more about it with every book in this series.  It’s a really big world, and I liked that there were all of these different dimensions and alternate worlds/timelines.  We definitely saw one of them in this book, and it makes me wonder how many other versions of Kiran’s world are out there.

We also see how connected everything is in this book.  It’s not surprising in a world like Kiran’s, but I liked seeing how complicated things get, and how changing one thing changes so many other things.  I think DasGupta did a great job with that, and I really liked seeing how Kiran dealt with that.  I enjoyed seeing the characters try to save the stories they know and love.

It’s a fun book, and a really good addition to the series.  I also love the different characters we meet, and even though I will probably never read the original stories DasGupta drew from, I also love that she included stories from a variety of mythologies.  In my opinion, these are great books for Percy Jackson fans.  Or if you really want a series drawing from mythology that’s not Greek mythology.

3 stars.  I liked The Chaos Curse and I am excited about reading the next book.

Book Review: The Gravity Of Us by Phil Stamper

Book: The Gravity Of Us by Phil Stamper

Published February 2020 by Bloomsbury UK|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

In this smart, heart-warming YA debut perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, two teens find love when their lives are uprooted for their parents’ involvement in a NASA mission to Mars.

Cal wants to be a journalist, and he’s already well underway with almost half a million followers on his FlashFame app and an upcoming internship at Buzzfeed. But his plans are derailed when his pilot father is selected for a highly-publicized NASA mission to Mars. Within days, Cal and his parents leave Brooklyn for hot and humid Houston.

With the entire nation desperate for any new information about the astronauts, Cal finds himself thrust in the middle of a media circus. Suddenly his life is more like a reality TV show, with his constantly bickering parents struggling with their roles as the “perfect American family.”

And then Cal meets Leon, whose mother is another astronaut on the mission, and he finds himself falling head over heels–and fast. They become an oasis for each other amid the craziness of this whole experience. As their relationship grows, so does the frenzy surrounding the Mars mission, and when secrets are revealed about ulterior motives of the program, Cal must find a way to get to the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.

I really liked The Gravity Of Us!  I was intrigued, of course, but also not sure if I would like it.  I am so glad I picked this book up!

I really liked Cal, and what I felt for him.  Especially with everything that happened with Kiera, who seemed so cool at first.  But she ended up not being as cool as I thought she would be, and what she did was pretty horrible.  And his life changed because of his dad’s desire to be an astronaut.  Who didn’t want to be an astronaut as a kid, though?

Life definitely wasn’t perfect in Houston, and not how reality t.v. made it seem.  He made fast friends with Leo and Kat, and overall, I liked seeing how the whole community came together to make the Mars mission happen.  There were a lot of ups and downs, of course, and Star Watch really took things out of context.  That wasn’t surprising at all, and it felt very realistic.  I loved how Cal stood up for Mrs. Bannon, and that overall, he wanted people to see things how they really were.  I’d definitely follow Cal, if he were a real person.

I loved that it was about keeping NASA funded and getting to Mars!  I don’t pay attention to NASA enough, but with reading this book, I felt really excited that they got to see people travel to Mars!  I can’t help but wonder if that’s what it was like when we went to the moon decades ago.

I really liked seeing that Cal’s family wasn’t perfect.  Leo’s family wasn’t perfect either, but I felt like this book really highlighted that things aren’t what they seem, and that we put people on a pedestal only to tear them down.  It was sad that this mission almost lost funding because of some things that came out about this particular mission.

Cal worked so hard to make things right, and it really made me believe in this mission and what they were trying to do.  There were so many people involved in making this happen, and I didn’t want anyone to lose their dream or their job because of some pretty terrible people.

I thought the romance was really cute, and I like Leo and Cal together.  I really hope it works out for them and that Leo figures out what he wants to do.  I’m also hoping things work for Cal, and that he gets to be the journalist he wants to be.

4 stars.  I really liked The Gravity Of Us, and I really recommend it, especially if you like cute romances or space!