Book Review: I’ll Be The One by Lyla Lee

Book: I’ll Be The One by Lyla Lee

Published June 2020 by Katherine Tegen Books|336 pages

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

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

The world of K-Pop has never met a star like this. Debut author Lyla Lee delivers a deliciously fun, thoughtful rom-com celebrating confidence and body positivity—perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Julie Murphy.

Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.

She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.

When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.

But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself.

I really liked I’ll Be The Only One!  It’s cute and heartwarming and Skye is just awesome.

I loved Skye and thought she was a great character.  I really felt for her, and people are terrible, particularly one of the judges in the competition.  She clearly has a lot of talent, but it’s like that’s not important because of her looks.  Some people on social media are terrible, of course, but there’s a lot of support for her, and she’s determined to make it.  Not just for herself but for the people who feel like they’re not good enough.

Her mom was so frustrating!  I get why she acts that way, but it doesn’t mean it’s okay to treat Skye the way she does.  Skye does talk to her about it, and hopefully, her mom will realize that Skye is wonderful just the way she is.  And be more supportive.  I just want them to have a more healthy relationship, if her mom is willing and able to change her behavior, and if that’s what Skye wants.  It just goes to show how fraught mother/daughter relationships can be, especially in a world where Skye wants to be a K-pop star.

At least her friends and dad are great.  I wish we saw more of her dad, but he was really supportive, and tried to explain why her mom acted the way she did.  Her friends were great too, both her friends from school, and the friends she made along the way.  I loved the support she had, and she has a great group of people around her.  She’s going to need it!

The competition was cutthroat, but not as much as I thought it would be.  Then again, it’s a book, so there’s only so much you can see on page.  I’d love to see this as a movie or t.v. show, because it would work really, really well on screen.  One can only hope!

Also, I wouldn’t mind a sequel.  Just to see how she’s doing in Korea, as a trainee.  And to see how things go with her mom and with Henry.  It’s not often I want a sequel, but Skye was amazing, and I want to follow her on her K-pop journey.

4 stars.  Skye was awesome and I loved how she accepted herself, and was determined to go for what she wants.

Book Review: Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters

Book: Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters

Published July 2020 by HarperTeen|368 pages

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

Series: Ghost Wood Song #1

Genre: YA Contemporary

Sawkill Girls meets The Hazel Wood in this lush and eerie debut, where the boundary between reality and nightmares is as thin as the veil between the living and the dead. 

If I could have a fiddle made of Daddy’s bones, I’d play it. I’d learn all the secrets he kept.

Shady Grove inherited her father’s ability to call ghosts from the grave with his fiddle, but she also knows the fiddle’s tunes bring nothing but trouble and darkness.

But when her brother is accused of murder, she can’t let the dead keep their secrets.

In order to clear his name, she’s going to have to make those ghosts sing.

Family secrets, a gorgeously resonant LGBTQ love triangle, and just the right amount of creepiness make this young adult debut a haunting and hopeful story about facing everything that haunts us in the dark.

I liked this one!  Ghost Wood Song was creepy and haunting and quite the mystery!

So, Shady.  I liked her and it had to have been hard to lose her dad and gain a stepfather she didn’t like.  I love that she plays the fiddle, and and seeing Cedar play at an open mike opened up a world of possibilities in terms of music.  I get she doesn’t want to stop playing with her friends but I also get wanting more, and feeling like others are sparking creativity and possibilities.

She also has a lot going on- family issues, raising the dead by playing the fiddle, family mysteries…It was interesting to see how everything unraveled and how ghosts were laid to rest.  And I get why she wanted to help her brother.  So many people had no problem believing that he did what he did, and even though he wasn’t the one who did it, it was easy for people to pin it on him.  It made me angry, that they were able to get a teen to take the fall for something they didn’t do.  And unfortunately, this is a town where no one would believe him if he told the truth.  It’s sad, but something I can see happening.

The atmosphere was creepy and haunting and it seeped into everything going on.  It was very much there, and there was no forgetting it.  It felt a little oppressive at times, like something wasn’t right.  I mean, things weren’t right, as we find out by the end of the book.  But there was no escaping it.  It just had a really good balance of family secrets and creepiness and ghosts.

I wasn’t all that interested in the other characters.  They were alright but I wasn’t invested in them.  This was a book that was definitely about Shady and everything she’s trying to figure out.  Figure it out, she did, and with the help of her aunt and brother, she was able to do what she had to in order to get rid of the ghosts.

3 stars.  I liked Ghost Wood Song but didn’t love it.  The atmosphere was creepy and seeped into everything, but I wasn’t enthused with a lot of the characters.

Book Review: This Promise Of Change by Jo Ann Allen Royce and Debbie Levy

Book: This Promise Of Change: One Girl’s Story In The Fight For School Equality

Published January 2019 by Bloomsbury Children’s Books|320 pages

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

Series: None

Genre: Children’s Non-fiction/Memoir

In 1956, one year before federal troops escorted the Little Rock 9 into Central High School, fourteen year old Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve African-American students who broke the color barrier and integrated Clinton High School in Tennessee. At first things went smoothly for the Clinton 12, but then outside agitators interfered, pitting the townspeople against one another. Uneasiness turned into anger, and even the Clinton Twelve themselves wondered if the easier thing to do would be to go back to their old school. Jo Ann–clear-eyed, practical, tolerant, and popular among both black and white students—found herself called on as the spokesperson of the group. But what about just being a regular teen? This is the heartbreaking and relatable story of her four months thrust into the national spotlight and as a trailblazer in history. Based on original research and interviews and featuring backmatter with archival materials and notes from the authors on the co-writing process.

This book was amazing!  I had never heard of what happened at Clinton High, but I’m glad that I read this book.

I loved reading Allen’s experiences at Clinton High, and I still can’t believe that it was only 65 years ago that students like Jo Ann Allen and her classmates were integrating schools.  The hate that they all experienced was chilling, and sadly, we still see that hatred today.  She was just going to school, and what she had to experience because people didn’t want her there made me both angry and sad.

I think I was angriest at the people who said they didn’t like that they had to integrate but were only doing it because it was the law.  While it wasn’t obviously or outright hateful, I was angry that they were only integrating because they had to.  There were some kind people that Jo Ann encountered, but it was still disheartening to see that their neighbors would borrow sugar from them but also turn their backs on Jo Ann and her family.

It was disheartening to read that her family moved to California because her parents thought they’d have better chances out west than in Tennessee or the rest of the South.

She just wanted to finish what she started and she didn’t get that chance- she wanted to stick it out with her friends, to belong, and she never had that chance in Clinton.

Poetry was an interesting choice to tell this story, but it was a really good one.  I’m not a fan of that, normally but it really worked.  I didn’t love it, for some reason, but I think I’m just not used to reading books told this way.  I can’t explain why, but it was a good choice.  It drew your attention to certain things, and made what happened much more powerful than if it had been told any other way.

I also loved the headlines and interviews and quotes throughout the book.  It really brought everything together, and it gave some background on what was going on the time in a different way.  You learn more about the other members of the Clinton 11, what Clinton was like at the time, and a timeline of desegregation.  That extra information was great to have and read through because it adds to the picture of what it was like at the time.

5 stars.  It’s a fast read, but absolutely worth it!

Book Review: Root Magic by Eden Royce

Book: Root Magic by Eden Royce

Published January 2021 by Walden Pond Press|320 pages

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

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fiction

A historical ghost story set in South Carolina in the 1960s—a tale of courage, friendship, and Black Girl Magic.

It’s 1963, and things are changing for Jezebel Turner. Her beloved grandmother has just passed away. The local police deputy won’t stop harassing her family. With school integration arriving in South Carolina, Jez and her twin brother, Jay, are about to begin the school year with a bunch of new kids. But the biggest change comes when Jez and Jay turn eleven—and their uncle, Doc, tells them he’s going train them in rootwork.

Jez and Jay have always been fascinated by the African American folk magic that has been the legacy of her family for generations—especially the curious potions and powders Doc and Gran would make for the people on their island. But Jez soon finds out that her family’s true power goes far beyond small charms and elixirs…and not a moment too soon. Because when evil both natural and supernatural comes to show itself in town, it’s going to take every bit of the magic she has inside her to see her through.

I really liked Root Magic!  I loved reading about Jez and Jay, and I really liked reading about Jez and her family.

Jez was a great character, and I really liked her.  Having a lot of new kids was pretty hard for her, but hopefully, some of them won’t be too bad.  Some of them aren’t the nicest, but I really hope she’s able to make a few friends.  Still, she has Jay, Doc and her mom, and she seems more okay with not having a huge group of friends at the end of the book.  There was Susie, though, and it was interesting to see how that changed and evolved.

I felt so sad for her.  It seemed like she was pretty close to her grandma, and had a hard time after her grandma passed away.  I have a soft spot for grandparent-grandchild relationships, which isn’t surprising because growing up, I was pretty close to my grandparents.  But root magic was something she could learn- and it connected her to both her grandma and all of the generations that came before.  I thought that legacy was amazing.

Root magic was something that people had mixed feelings about, it seemed like.  Publicly, people seemed to look down on it, or thought it was strange, when privately, they might stop by her family’s house for a potion or powder.  That contrast was interesting, but not surprising.  It just seems like people didn’t want to admit that it was something they used or needed.

Things weren’t easy for Jez or her family, but Jez has a really good heart, and wants to help.  She was able to help Susie, who helped her in return when Jez needed it.

The atmosphere was great!  I could feel it in my soul, and it was as much of a character as the people were.  I really felt it in every word, and one of the reason’s I liked this book so much!  Royce shows how people are treated during that time, but this is a book that is more about life, friends and family, and staying connected to the things that have been passed down from generation to generation.

4 stars.  This was a great book, and absolutely worth reading, no matter how old you are!

Book Review: Every Single Lie by Rachel Vincent

Book: Every Single Lie by Rachel Vincent

Published January 2021 by Bloomsbury YA|324 pages

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

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

In this gripping YA novel about social media bullying and half-truths, one girl’s discovery of a dead baby in her high school locker room rocks an entire community.

Nobody in Beckett’s life seems to be telling the whole story. Her boyfriend Jake keeps hiding texts and might be cheating on her. Her father lied about losing his job before his shocking death. And everyone in school seems to be whispering about her and her family behind her back.

But none of that compares to the day Beckett finds the body of a newborn baby in a gym bag-Jake’s gym bag -on the floor of her high school locker room. As word leaks out, rumors that Beckett’s the mother take off like wildfire in a town all too ready to believe the worst of her. And as the police investigation unfolds, she discovers that everyone has a secret to hide and the truth could alter everything she thought she knew.

I really liked Every Single Lie!  It was a book I read in one sitting, because I needed to know what was going on.

Beckett was a character I really felt for- losing her dad, finding a newborn baby in the locker room, issues with her ex…she had a lot going on in this book.  I just wanted to know what was going on, and it was interesting to see how everything unraveled.  There was a lot she needed to deal with, and any one of those things would be hard to deal with.  But all of them together?  Definitely not good.

People are terrible.  They really are.  Of course, people are going to think she’s the mom, and no amount of her saying she’s not is going to change their mind.  I did figure out who the mom was a little bit before the reveal, and it made so much sense, though it’s a journey getting there.

Back to terrible people, though.  People are so cruel to Beckett, even though, for the most part, they don’t say anything about it to her face.  It’s so unfortunate, but easier to be cruel behind someone’s back, or online.  Hopefully, she’ll be able to get far away from that town, because she deserves better than them.  But her family is there, so I’d understand why she would want to stay.  Who knows, maybe they’ll see her differently in a few years.  I doubt, because they seem pretty gossipy, but it’s possible.

One thing I thought was both strange and interesting was everything that happened with her dad.  It’s weird that people would be so terrible about the newborn in the gym, and say something to her face, but rumors of her dad never made their way to her?  I don’t get that at all, considering this is a gossipy, judgmental town.  I just have the hardest time believing she wouldn’t know the rumors about her dad until now, months after everything that happened with him, but everything they’re saying about this newborn and her get to her really fast.

Still, she has the support of her family and friends, and I’m glad she has them.  She tries to figure everything out herself, which I understand.  I feel like I might do that too, if I were her.  Hopefully, everything works out okay for Beckett, her family, and her friends.

This was a book worth reading, and I’m glad I read it!  I like Vincent’s books in general, and this book was another great book by her.

4 stars.  I really liked Every Single Lie, and I’m glad I picked this one up.

Book Review: This Is What America Looks Like by Ilhan Omar

Book: This Is What America Looks Like: My Journey From Refugee To Congresswoman by Ilhan Omar

Published May 2020 by Dey Street Books|288 pages

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

Series: None

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction/Memoir

Ilhan Omar was eight years old when war broke out in Somalia. The youngest of seven children, her mother had died while Ilhan was still a little girl. She was being raised by her father and grandfather when armed gunmen attacked their compound and the family decided to flee Mogadishu. They ended up in a refugee camp in Kenya, where Ilhan says she came to understand the deep meaning of hunger and death. Four years later, after a painstaking vetting process, her family achieved refugee status and arrived in Arlington, Virginia.

Aged twelve, penniless, speaking only Somali and having missed out on years of schooling, Ilhan rolled up her sleeves, determined to find her American dream. Faced with the many challenges of being a Muslim refugee, she questioned stereotypes and built bridges with her classmates and in her community. In under two decades she became a grassroots organizer, graduated from college and was elected to congress with a record-breaking turnout by the people of Minnesota—ready to keep pushing boundaries and restore moral clarity as she sees it in Washington D.C

I LOVED This is what America Looks Like!  This was a great read, and I’m really glad I picked it up.

I loved reading Omar’s story.  I didn’t know much about her, other than she’s a Congresswoman out of Minnesota.  But I learned a lot about her from hearing her story.  We get a glimpse of her life as a refugee, how she came to the U.S. and how she ended up running for Congress.  I really appreciate how important it is to represent her district, and we very much see that she’s dedicated to doing a great job and fighting for both her district and all Americans.  She wants to make this country a better place, and she had a lot of challenges and obstacles along the way.

We see how close she is to her father, and how important he was in her life.  It was clear that he wanted her to do well, and was supportive of her and her interests.  I also liked learning about her family, and the different relationships she had with them.

Honestly, I wanted this book to be longer!  I wanted to read more about her experiences, and this was a book that’s easy to read in one sitting.  I took my time with it because I wanted to enjoy her story, but I’m surprised I didn’t breeze right through it.  It’s very readable, and doesn’t get bogged down in detail.  It’s simple and straightforward, but it’s absolutely worth reading.

I am glad that we have people like Omar here- she cares about this country, and the people who live in it.  I’ve said something like this already, but she really does work for the people, and she has a strong sense of self and her place in the world.  She wants to make this country better, and though there are people who don’t want her here and disagree with her politics, she continues to stand up for what she believes in, and fights for justice for everyone, not just some people.

5 stars.  This book is a must-read, and I’m glad I did.  Omar is an amazing person, and her district is really lucky to have her representing them!

Audio Book Review: Not So Pure And Simple by Lamar Giles, Narrated by Korey Jackson

Book: Not So Pure And Simple by Lamar Giles, Narrated by Korey Jackson

Published January 2020 by Quill Tree Books|Length: 11 hours

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Two-time Edgar Award finalist Lamar Giles delivers his first contemporary YA—an eye-opening novel that spotlights societal pressures, confronts toxic masculinity, and asks the question: What does it mean to be a “real man”?

Del has had a crush on Kiera Westing since kindergarten. And now, during their junior year, she’s finally available. So when Kiera volunteers for an opportunity at their church, Del’s right behind her. Though he quickly realizes he’s inadvertently signed himself up for a Purity Pledge. His best friend, Qwan, doesn’t believe anyone is worth this long of a long game. But Del’s not about to lose his dream girl.

And that’s where fellow pledger Jameer comes in. He can put in the good word, but with other boys circling Kiera like sharks, Del needs to make his move now. However, with all his plotting and scheming, Del never really stops to think: What does Kiera want? No matter, though—once he gets the girl, he’s sure all will sort itself out. Right?

I really liked Not So Pure And Simple!  I liked Del, though he has a lot to learn.  But I really enjoyed his story, and seeing him change and grow.

Del has a lot to learn.  He’s not forgiving of Kiera, when he’s being pretty dishonest himself, holding her to a completely different standard.  I felt like he had her on a pedestal, and that came crashing down.  I felt like he never took the time to get to know her as a person, and that he was into the illusion of her but not her as a person.  It sucks when your crush doesn’t respond the way you want them to or doesn’t feel the same way.  I get why he was angry and frustrated and everything else.  But Kiera is a real person with real feelings- and was definitely not the person Del thought she was.

Was Del frustrating at times?  Absolutely!  He wouldn’t leave her alone, had this odd obsession with her and jumped through all kinds of hoops when he could have been more straightforward.  There were times when I felt like Del was that guy who wouldn’t take no for an answer.  I was a little frustrated by the couple of times we see male characters not seeing women as people until they learned a female they were close to was hurt by a guy.  It’s sad that’s what it took for what that to happen, but hopefully, it was a wake-up call to be better and to treat all women better.

I really think Del started to learn from it, and I hope he continues to learn AND listen to the women in his life.  Hopefully, he’ll have more conversations with his sister and Cheyanne, and they’ll continue to be honest and call him if they think he needs it.  I like that toxic masculinity came up, and that we need to recognize it in ourselves and others, and speak up when we see it in others.

One thing that was interesting in the book was how sex education in Del’s school was very much influenced by the pastor.  It was frustrating, because not everyone has parents who will talk about reproduction, sex and birth control with them- it seemed like the healthy living class was the only way for some of these kids to get any information about their bodies.  And even then, they directed their questions to Jameer so Del could ask the questions in class.

I was really surprised that there was a flyer on the door, and that nothing seemed to go home to the parents, because Del’s parents were definitely surprised that the class wasn’t a thing anymore.  It’s sad, because the kids suffer and the parents know nothing about what’s going on.  I feel like that’s something the school should have told them, but that’s just me.  You really see what happens when sex ed isn’t a priority, and I feel like it would have been good for these kids.

It really is a good read, and one I think we should all read.  As a woman, I’m not at all surprised by what a lot of the girls experienced, and maybe, just maybe, seeing things through Del’s eyes will be good for at least some of the people picking this book up.

I also thought Korey Jackson was a great narrator.  I feel like I always say that, and that I always say that the narrator brought the characters to life.  But it really is true most of the time, and it is the case for this book.  I don’t know that I’ll be seeking out other books narrated by Jackson, but I wouldn’t mind listening to another book narrated by him.

4 stars.  I really liked this book, and I’m definitely going to take a look at Giles’ other books because of how he handled some of the more serious issues in this book.

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.

Audio Book Review: Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer, Narrated by Reba Buhr

Book: Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer, Narrated by Reba Buhr

Published September 2020 by HarperAudio|Run Time: 8 hours, 48 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: Crownchasers #1

Genre: YA

A deadly race across 1,001 planets will determine more than just the fate of the empire. This explosive first book in a duology jam-packed with tension and thrills is perfect for fans of ‘The Hunger Games, ‘Aurora Rising’, and ‘Three Dark Crowns’.

Alyssa Farshot has spent her whole life trying to outrun her family legacy, even leaving behind the Kingship and her uncle, the emperor, for a life of exploring.

But when her dying uncle announces a crownchase – a search for the royal seal hidden in the empire that will determine the next ruler – Alyssa is thrust into her greatest, most dangerous adventure yet.

I really liked Crownchasers!  It was really interesting, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book.

This is a story that’s pretty familiar- a race across the galaxy to see who will rule the empire.  Still, it’s in space!  We get to see the galaxy and the people living in it!  There’s a lot of adventure and outrunning the past!  It was exciting and I always wanted to know what happened next.

I also liked seeing Alyssa’s memories, and they were pretty important in how we see the present, and the other people involved in the crownchase.  I get why she doesn’t want to be empress, but at the end of the book, I felt like that might be in her future.  It might not be, but with everything that happened at the end of the book, I feel like it’s an option for her.

So, for the life of me, I cannot remember what happened to her parents that she had to live with her uncle.  I believe they died, but obviously, any details that might have been mentioned did not stick with me.  Her mom did come up a little bit, and it seems like her mom wanted to change things, but we don’t get a lot of detail.  And I’m really curious about her dad, because I feel like we don’t hear about him at all.  I really shouldn’t assume he was around, because maybe he wasn’t, and that is perfectly fine.  I’m just really curious, that’s all.

I just want to know what’s going on!  Who are the cloaked people, and what are they up to?  What on earth do they really want?  I hope we find out in the next book, because otherwise, what’s the point in bringing them up?  Anyway, they are very suspicious, clearly up to no good, and I want to know why.

I liked Alyssa.  She certainly likes to run into danger and has no sense of self-preservation.  She also wants to do her own thing, even though being her uncle’s heir would make a lot of sense.  It makes me wonder if he knew that she wouldn’t want to be forced into it, and I doubt he could have known everything that would end up happening during the chase.

It seemed to me that she was only involved in the chase because of her connection to the former emperor, but I can’t help but wonder if he thought that maybe she want it, but had to choose that role on her own.  Or not, and it’s just protocol or whatever that she’s involved.  She clearly didn’t want it, considering she makes an alliance with one of her competitors, but I am looking forward to see if that changes, and it does (or doesn’t) change.

I also liked Hell Monkey, and I’m glad he’s sticking around.  I’m glad Alyssa has someone she can trust and rely on, because it seems like the number of people she cares about is shrinking really fast.  She can’t do this alone, and she’s going to need all the help she can get.  I don’t know if things will become more romantic between them- it would be weird, because I didn’t particularly notice or care about a romance for Alyssa, much less with Hell Monkey.

I don’t know that I’m necessarily hoping they’ll get together, because Alyssa has a lot going on.  I honestly like them as friends, and I think they have a pretty good working relationship.  I’m really glad they made it through the book relatively unscathed, though it didn’t always look that way.

This was a book that I was glad I did on audio.  I don’t know if I would have gotten through it had I read it in print, but I enjoyed listening to it.  Buhr did a great job narrating and I hope she’ll narrate the next book.  I mean, she probably will because series usually stick with the same narrator, but still.  I enjoyed her narration.

4 stars.  I really liked Crownchasers, and I really, really hope some of my questions from this book get answered in the book.