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!

Book Review: Song Of The Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao

Book: Song Of The Crimson Flower by Julie C Dao

Published November 2019 by Philomel Books|288 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Rise Of The Empress #2.5

Genre: YA Fantasy

From the acclaimed author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns comes a fantastical new tale of darkness and love, in which magical bonds are stronger than blood.

Will love break the spell? After cruelly rejecting Bao, the poor physician’s apprentice who loves her, Lan, a wealthy nobleman’s daughter, regrets her actions. So when she finds Bao’s prized flute floating in his boat near her house, she takes it into her care, not knowing that his soul has been trapped inside it by an evil witch, who cursed Bao, telling him that only love will set him free. Though Bao now despises her, Lan vows to make amends and help break the spell.

Together, the two travel across the continent, finding themselves in the presence of greatness in the forms of the Great Forest’s Empress Jade and Commander Wei. They journey with Wei, getting tangled in the webs of war, blood magic, and romance along the way. Will Lan and Bao begin to break the spell that’s been placed upon them? Or will they be doomed to live out their lives with black magic running through their veins?

In this fantastical tale of darkness and love, some magical bonds are stronger than blood.

Song Of The Crimson Flower was just okay for me.  I really wanted to like it more but I just wasn’t really into it.

That makes me sad, because I loved Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns so much, and the more books I read in this series, the less I like it.  The world is amazing, and the writing is really pretty but it wasn’t enough for me to like the book.

I didn’t like Lan, and even though she realizes she cares for Bao, she was pretty horrible to him.  She does regret how she treats him, but she does come across as selfish, spoiled and unable to see what’s in front of her.  She does change but even with those changes, I just didn’t care what happened to her.

I did really like Bao, though.  He seemed like a good guy, and I really felt for him.  I thought (some) of his family history was obvious, and so I wasn’t surprised when it was actually revealed.  I was glad things worked out for him in the end.

I was glad to see what happened with both Wei and Jade.  They seem to be doing really well, and it was nice to catch up with them and see how things were working out for them.

2 stars.  Song Of The Crimson Flower was okay for me, and I really wish I liked it more because this series started off so strong for me.

Book Review: Race To The Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Book: Race To The Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Published January 2020 by Rick Riordan Presents|306 pages

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

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy/Re-telling

Lately, seventh grader Nizhoni Begay has been able to detect monsters, like that man in the fancy suit who was in the bleachers at her basketball game. Turns out he’s Mr. Charles, her dad’s new boss at the oil and gas company, and he’s alarmingly interested in Nizhoni and her brother, Mac, their Navajo heritage, and the legend of the Hero Twins. Nizhoni knows he’s a threat, but her father won’t believe her.

When Dad disappears the next day, leaving behind a message that says “Run!”, the siblings and Nizhoni’s best friend, Davery, are thrust into a rescue mission that can only be accomplished with the help of Diné Holy People, all disguised as quirky characters. Their aid will come at a price: the kids must pass a series of trials in which it seems like nature itself is out to kill them. If Nizhoni, Mac, and Davery can reach the House of the Sun, they will be outfitted with what they need to defeat the ancient monsters Mr. Charles has unleashed. But it will take more than weapons for Nizhoni to become the hero she was destined to be . . .

Timeless themes such as the importance of family and respect for the land resonate in this funny, fast-paced, and exciting quest adventure set in the American Southwest.

I really liked Race To The Sun!  I am definitely glad I read it.

I liked Nizhoni, Mac and Davery, and they worked really well as a team.  I loved Davery’s knowledge and Nizhoni’s ability to detect and defeat monsters.  I loved that Nizhoni was brave but also scared and unsure of herself.  It made her easy to relate to, and I feel like I would have acted the same way if I were in her position.

Sadly, I don’t have anything to add about Mac, which makes me sad because I really do wish I had more to say about him.  I felt like he wasn’t super-important to the story, even though he goes along for the ride.  It really felt more like Nizhoni’s story, and I kind of wanted Mac to have more of a role.

It is a great adventure story, especially if you like the Percy Jackson books.  This is partly because this book is a part of Riordan’s imprint, but also I think that if you love mythology and stories, you really like this book.  I knew nothing about the stories and characters we see in this book, and I really want to know more.  I really liked seeing a story focusing on the Southwest and seeing mythology that’s not Greek or Roman.  Not only that, but I loved seeing Navajo stories brought to life.

The stories were woven in so well, and it felt contemporary and timeless at the same time.  I really want more books set in this world, and it seems like this book is a stand-alone.  I feel like that’s something I don’t say often, but I really want at least one more book set in this world.

The ending did feel a little rushed and I think it could have been a little bit longer, but overall, it was a fun and great read.

4 stars.  I really liked Race To The Sun, and I wish it were a little longer!  It’s a great read if you like stories and adventure.

Book Review: Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

Book: Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

Published October 2019 by Knopf Books For Young Readers|290 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

In a community that isn’t always understanding, an HIV-positive teen must navigate fear, disclosure, and radical self-acceptance when she falls in love–and lust–for the first time. Powerful and uplifting, Full Disclosure will speak to fans of Angie Thomas and Nicola Yoon.

Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.

Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real–shy kisses escalating into much more–she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. She knows she has to tell him that she’s positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she’s terrified of how he’ll react! And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too.

Simone’s first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on…

I liked Full Disclosure!  I really felt for Simone, who’s pretty amazing.

It can’t be an easy diagnosis, and you see how much it affects her.  Whether it’s telling friends, or a guy she likes, it’s not an easy thing for her to share.  When it does get out to the whole school, people are completely horrible to her.  People just don’t want to take the time to truly understand what it means.

Miles, Claudia and Lydia are pretty supportive, and even though Simone has her issues with them, they do care about her, and it’s clear they support her and still want to be around her.  It’s especially important with Miles, since they’re pretty into each other.  Being HIV positive is a pretty big deal in any romantic relationship, but he was great because it honestly didn’t seem to bother him or scare him away.  It seemed like he was willing to take things slow and wait.

Her dads are pretty awesome too, and I love the relationship she has with both of them.  It’s obvious they love her and would do anything for her.  It’s also nice to see a YA book where the parents are around and involved in her life.  A lot of times, it feels like the parents are absent or barely there, so it’s nice that they actually show up more than once or twice, if at all.

I also liked that we got the whole story with Sarah.  It’s interesting that there was no flashback, but I thought it’s inclusion was well-done.  And I get why it’s hard for Simone to trust people because of what happened with her.  I really felt for her when it happened again.  Because people can be horrible, especially with things they don’t understand.  But she has a great support system with her dads, her best friends, and Miles.  And even her support group was pretty cool too.  They definitely understood what she was going through when no one else did.

It’s definitely an important read, and I’m glad I read it.  I think Positive by Paige Rawls is a good read-alike for this one.  Positive is a memoir, but I was reminded of it the whole time I read this book.  Simone is more than her diagnosis, and she really came to life in this book.  I’m not a musical person by any means, but for some reason, I feel like I’d get along with her.  I thought it was interesting that Rent was the school musical, though I got really angry when one of the teachers involved with the musical was hoping that Simone, as a student director, would win the school a lot of theater awards.  I hated she would try to use a student like that, but thankfully, the other teacher involved wasn’t about to let her do that.

3 stars.  I liked Full Disclosure, though I didn’t love it.  I’m not sure why, but regardless, this is a must-read!

Book Review: The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton

Book: The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton

Published March 2019 by Freeform|344 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: The Belles #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

In this sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller, Camille, her sister Edel, and her guard and new love Remy must race against time to find Princess Charlotte. Sophia’s Imperial forces will stop at nothing to keep the rebels from returning Charlotte to the castle and her rightful place as queen. With the help of an underground resistance movement called The Iron Ladies-a society that rejects beauty treatments entirely-and the backing of alternative newspaper The Spider’s Web, Camille uses her powers, her connections and her cunning to outwit her greatest nemesis, Sophia, and restore peace to Orleans. 

I have really mixed feelings about The Everlasting Rose.  I really liked The Belles when I read it almost two years ago- enough to pick up the sequel and see what happened next.  But I’m not sure how I feel about the sequel.

I really liked the world and we see more of it in this one.  I felt like the underground resistance randomly came up but I also feel like it sort of makes sense, considering how little Camille actually knew.  We learned some stuff at the end of The Belles that is the focus in this book.  Sophia really takes things to a different level, and part of me wishes we had spent more time closer to Sophia to actually see what happens.  We do get it in bits and pieces throughout the book, which is fine, and works okay enough, considering what’s going on with Camille, Edel and Remy.

I did like the significance of the Everlasting Rose, and how it had a few different meanings.  I really liked the moments where I got to see each meaning of it.  One is definitely better than the other, that’s for sure.

There’s definitely more to the Belles power than I originally thought.  It was hinted at in The Belles, and I did kind of like how it was used throughout the book.  It makes me wish we saw it earlier in the series, because I wanted to see a little bit more of it, but I think it worked well here.  Just because the first book had a different focus than this one, and it might have been a little out of place in this book.

Changes are in store for Orleans, and under Sophia’s rule, you see how much it affects everyone.  What people think about the changes under Charlotte’s rule remains to be seen, and hopefully, we’ll see that in the last book.  Even though my overall feeling is…meh…I still want to finish out the series and see how much has changed.  I won’t be rushing out to get the next book, but at some point, when it is released, I’ll pick it up and read it.

I wanted to like it more, but considering how fast I went through this book, I didn’t like it as much as I could have.  It did keep me reading, though, so I’ll give it that.

2 stars.  Overall, The Everlasting Rose was okay.  The world is interesting but I lost interest in Camille’s world in this book.  Hopefully, the next book get my attention a lot more than this one day.

Book Review: I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn

Book: I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn

Published May 2019 by Scholastic Press|320 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Kasie West, I Love You So Mochi is a delightfully sweet and irrepressibly funny novel from accomplished author Sarah Kuhn.

“As sweet and satisfying as actual mochi… a tender love story wrapped up in food, fashion, and family. I gobbled it up.” — Maurene Goo, author of The Way You Make Me Feel

Kimi Nakamura loves a good fashion statement.

She’s obsessed with transforming everyday ephemera into Kimi Originals: bold outfits that make her and her friends feel like the Ultimate versions of themselves. But her mother disapproves, and when they get into an explosive fight, Kimi’s entire future seems on the verge of falling apart. So when a surprise letter comes in the mail from Kimi’s estranged grandparents, inviting her to Kyoto for spring break, she seizes the opportunity to get away from the disaster of her life.

When she arrives in Japan, she’s met with a culture both familiar and completely foreign to her. She loses herself in the city’s outdoor markets, art installations, and cherry blossom festival — and meets Akira, a cute aspiring med student who moonlights as a costumed mochi mascot. And what begins as a trip to escape her problems quickly becomes a way for Kimi to learn more about the mother she left behind, and to figure out where her own heart lies.

In I Love You So Mochi, author Sarah Kuhn has penned a delightfully sweet and irrepressibly funny novel that will make you squee at the cute, cringe at the awkward, and show that sometimes you have to lose yourself in something you love to find your Ultimate self.

I loved I Love You So Mochi! It’s cute and sweet and heart-warming, and I’m kicking myself for not reading it earlier!

It’s such a great read, and I didn’t know I needed to read it until I started reading it. I loved seeing Kimi connect with her grandparents, and I loved seeing her relationship change with both of them. It made me miss my grandparents, and my grandma in particular. It’s this time of year my grandma died, and I can’t believe it’s been almost two years. I did have to put the book down and take a little bit of a break because reading this book made me miss her a lot more than I usually do.

Going to Japan and getting to know her grandparents (and her mom) was such a good thing for her. It was a place where she found a lot of inspiration, and I loved seeing her learn so much about her mom and her grandparents. She really saw her mom in a different way, and you could see that in the emails Kimi wrote to her. You could also see it in the relationship she had with her mom at the beginning and the end of the book, and it changed SO much. I loved seeing that change, and I finished the book feeling like things were in a better place between them.

I also loved seeing Kimi go for a fashion design program instead of the art program. She really grew into being able to speak up and go for what she’s interested in, instead of doing something that she’s interested in, but not as a career or a passion. I don’t know what the future holds for her career-wise, but her clothes sound amazing, and I would love to see this as a movie just for the clothes. Plus, seeing her explore Japan would also be really cool.

The romance was really cute, and I liked Akira. For me, I was more interested in Kimi exploring Japan and her family history than I was in their romance, but I still liked it. They’re cute together, and I felt like he was a great tour guide. It seemed to help Kimi a lot, and everything between them felt natural. It didn’t feel forced or insta-lovey or anything, and that was refreshing.

I was not prepared for the waterworks that happened, which is a weird thing to happen when you’re reading at work. Usually, I can tell when I’m going to start crying, in which case I would put the book down and read at home. But I wanted to keep reading to see how things would work out with Kimi and her mom, and if her mom would ever work things out with her parents. It seems like things are well on their way to getting at least a little bit better, but there was some crying along the way.

My Rating: 5 stars. I loved Kimi and her time in Japan. She learned a lot about herself and her family, and I was glad that she was able to go to Japan. I’m glad I got to go on this journey with her, and I Love You So Mochi is a really special book!

Book Review: A Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai

Book Review: A Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai

Published September 2019 by Little, Brown Books For Young Readers|320 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Fifteen-year-old Simran “Simi” Sangha comes from a long line of Indian vichole-matchmakers-with a rich history for helping parents find good matches for their grown children. When Simi accidentally sets up her cousin and a soon-to-be lawyer, her family is thrilled that she has the “gift.”

But Simi is an artist, and she doesn’t want to have anything to do with relationships, helicopter parents, and family drama. That is, until she realizes this might be just the thing to improve her and her best friend Noah’s social status. Armed with her family’s ancient guide to finding love, Simi starts a matchmaking service-via an app, of course.

But when she helps connect a wallflower of a girl with the star of the boys’ soccer team, she turns the high school hierarchy topsy-turvy, soon making herself public enemy number one.

I liked A Match Made In Mehendi! It was really cute and really fun to read.

I think what I liked most was how Simi updated her family’s matchmaking business. They were pretty traditional, and not interested in using apps to match people. But after seeing how successful the app was at her school, they ended up modernizing how they did things. I’m curious to see how it works years from now, but hopefully, they’ll be able to match more people with it.

I wish I could remember names, but Simi definitely made an enemy out of the popular girl at school. I’m not surprised by how she acted at all, but I wasn’t surprised that she didn’t have any strong matches. She made Simi’s life hell because she didn’t get what she wanted. It seemed like there was a reason behind it, but that didn’t make it okay.

She seemed pretty interested in art, especially mehendi, but it seemed like the matchmaking app took over her life for a while. It definitely changes things for a while, and she learns that people aren’t what they seem. But for someone who’s really into art…I just wanted to see more of her art. Her project for art class seemed really cool, and I felt like it dropped off as she got more wrapped up in matchmaking and boys.

I know the app is a huge part of the book and boosting her social status. And it was cute to see how people were matched up- even the people you wouldn’t think would go together. The family history of matchmaking was really cool, though, and I get her hesitation to be involved in the family business. It’s not something you see in books, and I like how unique it is.  It makes the book stand out even more.

3 stars. I liked A Match Made In Mehendi. It’s cute and light-hearted and perfect if you like books like When Dimple Met Rishi.

Book Review: The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad Of Mulan by Sherry Thomas

Book: The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad Of Mulan by Sherry Thomas

Published September 2019 by Tu Books|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

CHINA, 484 A.D.

A Warrior in Disguise

All her life, Mulan has trained for one purpose: to win the duel that every generation in her family must fight. If she prevails, she can reunite a pair of priceless heirloom swords separated decades earlier, and avenge her father, who was paralyzed in his own duel.

Then a messenger from the Emperor arrives, demanding that all families send one soldier to fight the Rouran invaders in the north. Mulan’s father cannot go. Her brother is just a child. So she ties up her hair, takes up her sword, and joins the army as a man.

A War for a Dynasty

Thanks to her martial arts skills, Mulan is chosen for an elite team under the command of the princeling–the royal duke’s son, who is also the handsomest man she’s ever seen. But the princeling has secrets of his own, which explode into Mulan’s life and shake up everything she knows. As they cross the Great Wall to face the enemy beyond, Mulan and the princeling must find a way to unwind their past, unmask a traitor, and uncover the plans for the Rouran invasion . . . before it’s too late.

Inspired by wuxia martial-arts dramas as well as the centuries-old ballad of Mulan, The Magnolia Sword is perfect for fans of Renee Ahdieh, Marie Lu, or Kristin Cashore–a thrilling, romantic, and sharp-edged novel that lives up to its beloved heroine. 

I was really excited about this one because it’s a re-telling of Mulan, but unfortunately, I didn’t like this one as much as I wanted to.  It ended up being an okay read for me.

There were some things I really liked about The Magnolia Sword.  I really liked that she was a twin, and that her family was at odds with the prince’s family.  I liked that each generation had to duel- it wasn’t what I expected, but I thought it worked really well.  Especially with how they came together during the book.

I also liked how detailed this book was.  You could tell that Thomas did her research while reading this book.  It really shone throughout the book, and while I know nothing about this time period or the original telling of Mulan, it felt like it was pretty true to the time period.  Please take that with a grain of salt, though, because I’m only familiar with the Disney movie.  And even then, it’s been ages and ages since I’ve watched it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find the book thrilling or romantic, the way it was described.  I was bored, which made me sad, because I didn’t want to be bored.  The Magnolia Sword is more about the characters, which is fine, but I don’t think it was what I wanted.  I wanted more action and battles, and considering the fact that there seemed to be a lot going on at the time, I wanted to be more interested in the book.  Instead, I was really close to not finishing it, and I’m not sure how I did.

Mulan…was not memorable.  I wish I could tell you more about her, but she didn’t stand out to me.  Considering the book was more character driven, and she’s the main character, that was a little disappointing.  And the prince is even less memorable, considering I can’t even remember his name.  And the fact that he and Mulan end up dueling, and they spend a good amount of time together…it’s definitely not a good sign.  You’d think I’d be able to remember but the name didn’t stick.

2 stars.  The Magnolia Sword was just okay, and while there were some things I liked, overall, I was pretty bored.

Book Review: The Candle And The Flame by Mafiza Azad

Book: The Candle And The Flame by Mafiza Azad

Published May 2019 by Scholastic Press|391 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy

Azad’s debut YA fantasy is set in a city along the Silk Road that is a refuge for those of all faiths, where a young woman is threatened by the war between two clans of powerful djinn.

Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population — except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, Noor is protected from the Shayateen by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, and by their commander, Zulfikar.

But when one of the most potent of the Ifrit dies, Fatima is changed in ways she cannot fathom, ways that scare even those who love her. Oud in hand, Fatima is drawn into the intrigues of the maharajah and his sister, the affairs of Zulfikar and the djinn, and the dangers of a magical battlefield.

Nafiza Azad weaves an immersive tale of magic and the importance of names; fiercely independent women; and, perhaps most importantly, the work for harmony within a city of a thousand cultures and cadences.

I liked The Candle And The Flame!  I definitely wanted more from it but I did enjoy it.

I really liked the world and the magic.  I liked learning about all of the djinn clans, and I actually really wanted to know more about them.  We get a lot about the Ifrit and the Shayateen, but other groups are mentioned, and I found I wanted to know more about them.  It’s too bad this book is a stand-alone, because I think there’s a lot in this world that can be explored.

Another thing I really liked about the world was naming, and how it gave the Ifrit a human form.  That was really interesting to see and it really made wish that we got more about the djinn clans and their world.

The characters are also great, and the characters felt fully formed- like living, breathing people.  I really liked Fatima, and it was great to follow her story and see how much she changed over the course of the book.  She had a lot to deal with, and surviving what she did really changed her.  Some of them, she had no idea about, and she was definitely pulled into a world she was not expecting.  She really stands out, more than any of the other characters.

She’s my favorite character, though I did like Zulkifar too.  He was intriguing, and it seemed like he wanted to keep his distance, yet he still seemed to care for her and wanted to help her.  I wasn’t sure of his intentions, especially at the beginning.  It never went away, but it did lessen over the course of the book.

The book moved pretty slow, and if you’re expecting action, just know this book doesn’t have it.  I was expecting more action, but if you like books that are more focused on characters, this is the book for you.  I did struggle with it, especially later on, because I just kept expecting action.

One thing I thought was strange was how narrators seemed to change.  It seemed like it randomly switched from Fatima to Zulkifar to the prince and it seemed really sudden and out of place.  I wish it had been a little more obvious, because it made it hard to follow what was going on.  I did have some trouble keeping track of who was who, and I did have to refer to the list of characters included at the beginning of the book.  It made me glad it was there, especially when I couldn’t remember who was who…even at the end of the book.

Going back to something I really liked…I really liked the descriptions.  I could picture everything really well, and Azad did a great job at describing the setting.  The prologue was especially great, and it made me so interested in what was going to happen.  It did a great job at drawing you in, and it made me wish I liked the book more than I did.

3 stars.  I liked The Candle And The Flame but I wish I liked it more.  I can see why so many people love it, and I wish I were one of them.

ARC Book Review: Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite And Maritza Moulite

Book: Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

Expected Publication Is September 3, 2019 by Inkyard Press|Expected Number Of Pages: 384

Where I Got It: I received an e-ARC from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

When a school presentation goes very wrong, Alaine Beauparlant finds herself suspended, shipped off to Haiti and writing the report of a lifetime…

You might ask the obvious question: What do I, a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything?

Actually, a lot.

Thanks to “the incident” (don’t ask), I’m spending the next two months doing what my school is calling a “spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. I’m toiling away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle at her new nonprofit. And my lean-in queen of a mother is even here to make sure I do things right. Or she might just be lying low to dodge the media sharks after a much more public incident of her own…and to hide a rather devastating secret.

All things considered, there are some pretty nice perks…like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with my mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. I’m even exploring my family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse.

You know, typical drama. But it’s nothing I can’t handle. 

I wish I liked Dear Haiti, Love Alaine, but it was a hard book for me to get through, and I ended up not liking it.

It’s told in a mixed media format, so you see news articles, emails, texts, transcripts, and diary entries from both Alaine and her family.  That didn’t work at all in an e-book format.  It just didn’t look great, but keep in mind I was reading an advance copy, so I’m pretty sure it’ll look better once it’s actually published.

I did have a hard time getting through the book, and part of it is that the mixed media form of story-telling didn’t work in an e-book form.  A few parts of the text were out of order, and it’s hard to have a good flow when you start a new section or chapter in the middle of a sentence.  Again, I’m sure that will be fixed by the the time the book actually comes out, but it did affect my reading experience.

Part of why I struggled with the book was the random tangents.  We’d be reading things from Alaine’s point of view, and then suddenly, we’d be getting imagined emails between her mom and someone at GNN, where her mom used to work, or diary entries on a centuries old family curse.  Even though everything did tie together in the end, it didn’t make sense for most of the book.  I did finish the book wondering what it was supposed to be about.  There’s a lot going on, and while I did like the individual pieces, I don’t know that I liked all of them together.  I felt like it muddled the overall story to the point that I wasn’t sure what the story was supposed to be about.

I did like the family relationships, and that was something I did like about the book.  You don’t really see that in YA, and it was really refreshing to read.  It was nice to see how they developed and changed over time but I wish we saw more of it.

Alaine had a really strong voice, and I wish we saw more of it.  It did take a backseat to some of the other things we see in the book, and I’m a little sad about that because I felt like it took away from her story.

My Rating: 1 star.  I really wish I liked this book more, but it just didn’t work for me.  I think it would work great in physical form, but as a digital ARC, it was hard to get through.  There were parts of the book I liked, but it wasn’t enough for me to really get into the book.