Book Review: Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis

Book: Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis

Published March 2020 by Katherine Tegen Books|240 pages

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

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

The world is not tame.

Ashley knows this truth deep in her bones, more at home with trees overhead than a roof. So when she goes hiking in the Smokies with her friends for a night of partying, the falling dark and creaking trees are second nature to her. But people are not tame either. And when Ashley catches her boyfriend with another girl, drunken rage sends her running into the night, stopped only by a nasty fall into a ravine. Morning brings the realization that she’s alone – and far off trail. Lost in undisturbed forest and with nothing but the clothes on her back, Ashley must figure out how to survive despite the red streak of infection creeping up her leg.

I am glad I picked up Be Not Far From Me!  I really liked Ashley’s story, and I really liked this book!

If you like survival stories, this is the book for you!  I’m amazed Ashley managed to stay alive, but if anyone could, I think it would be her.  She seemed pretty equipped to stay alive, and definitely spent enough time both hiking in the woods and being outdoors to know how to stay alive long enough to get find someone who could get her help.

I knew she’d survive- this is YA after all, but I really liked seeing how she survived, alone in the forest, with an infection creeping up her leg.  I’m pretty impressed she got out of the forest relatively okay.  She has a long road to recovery ahead of her.

The fact that she went through a lot trying to get out of there…I don’t know know that I would have been able to do what she did in order to save herself.  Her recovery isn’t going to be just a physical recovery, but an emotional/mental one as well.

The writing was beautiful and you could tell in the way Ashley thought about the forest.  It was clear she had a lot of respect for the forest and nature and the circle of life.  It was clear she understood nature does what it does, and that the world is not a tame place to live.

The great outdoors is her home away from home, but in her time trying to get back home, she does realize that home is a pretty important place to be.  She realizes a lot, because she has a lot of time to think and appreciate what she has back at home.  I’d probably feel the same way if I were her.

Ashley was pretty easy to relate to, and I thought she handled everything pretty well.  I’m not sure I would have handled it that well, but I’m also not the hiking in the woods type.  I did like that about her, though.  It seems to fit her pretty well, and I think it’s pretty cool she’s into hiking.

I also really admire that she wanted to go back and find her former camp counselor.  I’d like to think I’d go back and get him, just so his family has closure but I think it would also terrify me after going through what she went through.  Ashley is pretty awesome, and she is most definitely a survivor.

4 stars.  I really liked Be Not Far From Me, and I especially liked the moment the title made sense.  It really fits what Ashley went through to survive.

 

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: The Map From Here To There by Emery Lord

Book: The Map From Here To There by Emery Lord

Published January 2020 by Bloomsbury YA|368 pages

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

Series: The Start Of Me And You #2

Genre: YA Contemporary

Acclaimed author Emery Lord crafts a gorgeous story of friendship and identity, daring to ask: What happens after happily ever after?

It’s senior year, and Paige Hancock is finally living her best life. She has a fun summer job, great friends, and a super charming boyfriend who totally gets her. But senior year also means big decisions. Weighing “the rest of her life,” Paige feels her anxiety begin to pervade every decision she makes. Everything is exactly how she always wanted it to be–how can she leave it all behind next year? In her head, she knows there is so much more to experience after high school. But in her heart, is it so terrible to want everything to stay the same forever?

Emery Lord’s award-winning storytelling shines with lovable characters and heartfelt exploration of life’s most important questions.

I loved The Map From Here To There!  Her books always get me emotionally, and this book was no exception.  I’m definitely glad I read this book!

I loved seeing Paige and Max deal with things.  And they deal with a lot of things in this book.  There’s a lot of ups and downs for them, and things did not go how I expected them to.  I really hope that things are okay for them, if not now, then in the future.

Paige had so many big choices to make- it’s her senior year, and college is looming over her.  Deciding which school she wants to go to, and which degree she wants to get.  Max is a pretty big factor in her decision, and I think it’s a big reason why there are so many ups and downs for them.

It really did bring me back to my senior year, and wondering what was going to happen.  There’s a lot going on for Paige- personally, with Max, with her friends…it felt very real, and me being me, I couldn’t help but cry my heart out, especially towards the end.  I really felt for Paige, and I loved being there for every part of her journey.  I could definitely relate to the anxiety she felt, and Emery Lord did a great job at showing what Paige was thinking and how she dealt with it.

Even though this book is a sequel, you can read it without reading The Start Of Me And You.  I hadn’t re-read it prior to reading this one, and I can honestly say that you know what happened before but you can still follow the story.  It’s a great book, and I do recommend reading it first.  I think Paige will make a lot more sense and have a greater impact if you read The Start Of Me And You first.

Part of me wishes I had re-read it first but I can’t do anything about that know.  Either way, I loved this book, and it’s worth reading, especially if you like contemporary!

5 stars.  I loved this book, and I can’t wait to see what Lord writes next!

Book Review: Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell, Illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks

Book: Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell, Illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks

Published August 2019 by First Second|211 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Series: None

Genre: YA Graphic Novel- Contemporary

Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends.

Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1.

But this Halloween is different—Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye.

Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if—instead of moping and the usual slinging lima beans down at the Succotash Hut—they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years . . .

What if their last shift was an adventure?

Beloved writer Rainbow Rowell and Eisner Award–winning artist Faith Erin Hicks have teamed up to create this tender and hilarious story about two irresistible teens discovering what it means to leave behind a place—and a person—with no regrets.

I LOVED Pumpkinheads!  I wasn’t sure what to expect, because overall, Fangirl is the only book of Rowell’s that I’ve liked.  At least from the ones I’ve read, so even though I was intrigued, I wasn’t sure if I’d like it.

But I loved it just as much as I loved Fangirl, which really surprised me.  This graphic novel is hilarious and nostalgic, and I had so much fun following Josiah and Deja as they had adventures all over the pumpkin patch.  Everything that could go wrong did, and the names for the fudge girl were really funny…I mean, Fudge Judy, Vanessa Fudgens, Cornelius Fudge…I wouldn’t expect anything else from Rowell, because she is good at incorporating pop culture in her books.

I loved the nostalgia factor of one last night before everything changes.  I wasn’t expecting to cry at the end but I did.  I loved the moment Josiah realized something important, and I’m glad he had one last adventure at the pumpkin patch.  It’s March, and Halloween is months away, but I really, really want to go to a pumpkin patch.

Especially this pumpkin patch.  I would love to go to this one, and I loved that we were able to see so much of it.  It really came to life in this book, and Hicks did a great job with the illustrations.  I really could see everything that was happening, and being able to see what was going on was great.  The story really is suited to a graphic novel format, and I really hope they work together on another project one day, because I’d love to see what they come up with.

5 stars.  I loved Pumpkinheads and it’s a great story with great visuals!

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 Princess And The Fangirl by Ashley Poston

Book: The Princess And The Fangirl by Ashley Poston

Published April 2019 by Quirk Books|320 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Once Upon A Con #2

Genre: YA Contemporary

The Prince and the Pauper gets a modern makeover in this adorable, witty, and heartwarming young adult novel set in the Geekerella universe by national bestselling author Ashley Poston.

Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary fangirl on an impossible mission: save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off from her favorite franchise, Starfield. The problem is, Jessica Stone—the actress who plays Princess Amara—wants nothing more than to leave the intense scrutiny of the fandom behind. If this year’s ExcelsiCon isn’t her last, she’ll consider her career derailed.

When a case of mistaken identity throws look-a-likes Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. But when the script for the Starfield sequel leaks, and all signs point to Jess, she and Imogen must trade places to find the person responsible. That’s easier said than done when the girls step into each other’s shoes and discover new romantic possibilities, as well as the other side of intense fandom. As these “princesses” race to find the script-leaker, they must rescue themselves from their own expectations, and redefine what it means to live happily ever after.

I loved The Princess And The Fangirl!  I wasn’t sure what to think about because I did like Geekerella, but I ended up loving this book.

Something I thought was interesting, and was one of my favorite things about the book, was seeing the girls step into each other’s shoes.  They learn so much about each other, and I loved seeing how much they change.  They see a side of fandom they never considered before.

This book is narrated by both Imogen and Jess, and it worked so incredibly well for this book.  With Imogen, we see how much Amara means to her, and why she wants to save her favorite character.  The campaign she put together was absolutely amazing.  But you also see her realize why Jess wouldn’t want to be Amara anymore.  I certainly wouldn’t want to be in a fandom like Starfield with everything Jess has to put up with.

Imogen, masquerading as Jess, sees the ugly side of things, and I think she realizes that things aren’t easy for Jess.  Yes, she wants to #saveAmara, but it comes at a price for the person playing her.

With Jess, she starts to see why people love Amara.  For Jess, she starts to find joy in life again, and she starts to see the part of Starfield she never got to see because of horrible people who think she’s not their Amara.  Unfortunately, it was a little true to life, and I’d be surprised if what happened to Jess didn’t happen to other actresses.

I’m not going to lie, I was crying by the end of it.  The crying made it a not good choice for a laundry mat read, but at least there were only a couple of other people in there, and they were pretty busy, so I guess it worked out.  But it did get me more emotionally than Geekerella.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked Geekerella, but there’s just something about this book.  I have not been to a con, so that part goes way over my head.  But there was something about seeing Jess and Imogen switch places and learn a lot about themselves and each other.  I loved seeing them pull off this insane plot to figure out who leaked the script of the next Starfield movie.  I especially loved seeing them work together to figure this out and to save Amara.

And even though this book is part of a series, you really don’t need to read the first book to read this one!  I read Geekerella a few months ago for book club, but didn’t re-read before reading this one.  Some of what happens in that book is mentioned in this one, and it’s nice to see what happens to some of those characters, but this is definitely a book that stands on its own pretty well.

5 stars.  I loved The Princess And The Fangirl so much, and Imogen and Jess are great characters.  I don’t think I’ve loved character names as much as I loved Imogen Lovelace and Jessica Stone.

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: When She Reigns by Jodi Meadows

Book: When She Reigns by Jodi Meadows

Published September 2019 by Katherine Tegen Books|496 pages

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

Series: Fallen Isles #3

Genre: YA Fantasy

The First Dragon

The Great Abandonment has begun. Panic has seized the Fallen Isles, where no one knows which god will rise next. Mira Minkoba believes her dreams hold the secret to bringing an end to the destruction, but in order to save her people, she’ll have to find a legendary treasure: the bones of the first dragon.

The Last Hope

Mira’s desperate search leads the Hopebearer and her friends on a dangerous journey into the heart of enemy territory: the Algotti Empire itself. The empress is more than willing to help—for an impossible price. And as tensions escalate beneath the shadows of the risen gods, Mira grapples with a terrifying question: What will she have to sacrifice to preserve what she loves?

The explosive finale to Jodi Meadows’s Fallen Isles trilogy is ablaze with sizzling romance and fiery magic as Mira’s fight to save dragons from extinction evolves into a mission to save her world from annihilation. 

I liked When She Reigns. Unfortunately, this is another one where I’m having trouble remembering the details, so this is going to be a short one.

It’s been a while since I finished it, so I’m having trouble remembering a lot of the details. Mira’s connection with the dragons was amazing, and that was actually my favorite thing about this book. I loved seeing that connection, and everything that came along with it. It definitely changed over the course of the book, and one particular moment at the end made me really sad, but it also made sense for the story.

Even though I re-read the series before reading this one, I actually want to go back and re-read them after reading this one. Mira’s love of dragons makes so much sense now, and knowing what I know, part of me wants to go back and see if there was anything I missed.

Seeing all of the gods was interesting, but I think seeing them through Mira was even more interesting. You see how horrifying it is each time, especially because of how much it affected the dragons. In the end, everything worked out but it was interesting to see how everything happened. I am curious to see how everything worked for everyone.

We did get to visit the empire, though their name is escaping me at the moment. I wish we saw more of it, considering it was mentioned quite a bit. At least we got to go for a little bit, but part of me just wanted to know more about them. I know it’s not really about them, but I feel like there’s a lot of history there, and that’s a story I’d love to see if there was ever a spin-off series.

3 stars. When She Reigns was a good conclusion but not a lot stuck with me after finishing it.

ARC Book Review: All-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney

Book: All-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney

Expected Publication Is November 12, 2019 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux|Expected Number Of Pages Is 256

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

Allie Abraham has it all going for her—she’s a straight-A student, with good friends and a close-knit family, and she’s dating cute, popular, and sweet Wells Henderson. One problem: Wells’s father is Jack Henderson, America’s most famous conservative shock jock…and Allie hasn’t told Wells that her family is Muslim. It’s not like Allie’s religion is a secret, exactly. It’s just that her parents don’t practice and raised her to keep her Islamic heritage to herself. But as Allie witnesses ever-growing Islamophobia in her small town and across the nation, she begins to embrace her faith—studying it, practicing it, and facing hatred and misunderstanding for it. Who is Allie, if she sheds the façade of the “perfect” all-American girl? What does it mean to be a “Good Muslim?” And can a Muslim girl in America ever truly fit in?

ALL-AMERICAN MUSLIM GIRL is a relevant, relatable story of being caught between two worlds, and the struggles and hard-won joys of finding your place.

I really liked All-American Muslim Girl!  I loved Allie and she’s a great character.

Allie struggles a lot with faith and I love that we get to see her explore her faith.  Having to hide my faith and heritage because of how other people see it is something I will never have to experience.  Unfortunately, we live in a world where people are treated differently because of what they look like or what they believe, and Allie has to deal with that as well.  She recognizes she has a lot of privilege, and it was interesting to see her as she started to stand up to the Islamophobia she sees around her.

I loved Allie’s integrity and determination.  She was open to exploring while wanting to do the right thing.  I felt like we saw her change over the course of the book, and she went from hiding who she was to standing up for herself and others.  We see her figure out what she wants, even when things get a little bit different with both her dad and the people around her.

I loved the friendships Allie forms, and her family was great too.  I wish we saw more of her extended family because they seemed pretty awesome when we did see them.  I especially liked her parents, and I get why her dad is concerned.  Things were rough between them for a while, but hopefully, they’ll be able to work it out.  I really think they will, because they have a pretty good relationship.

Accepting who you are and finding your own path were really strong and great messages in the book.  And even within different groups, you see a wide range of beliefs, which was nice.  I liked that her study group had different takes and relationships with Islam, and the author does a great job at showing how different a group of people can be.  I know it may be simple and maybe even a little bit obvious.  But she really does do a wonderful job at showing how different the girls are.

This book is a great read and I definitely recommend it!

My Rating: 4 stars.  I really liked All-American Muslim Girl and it’s worth reading!  It has great characters and a great story.