this was beautiful

Tokyo Ever After – Emiko Jean

Japanese Americans, belonging, families, duty, japan, california, princesses, princes, royalty, young adult, fiction,

Izumi always felt like she didn’t fully belong anywhere but she is happily content with her life for the time being. She always had her mother and she is grateful for that. One day upon looking through a book she finds a love poem from her mother’s ex who turns out to be her biological parent. Her mother explains that they had a fling and he left America to go back to Japan. After some digging, Izumi finds out that her father is the Crown Prince of Japan. Within hours she is contacted by one of her father’s staff and is flown out to Japan to meet him. He offers for her to stay and get to know her father’s history and the history of Japan. As she is studying and interacting with the locals and her newly found family members, she realizes that she is far too American and is afraid of being disliked or rejected. Izumi makes it her mission to learn the history and get the best out of the two worlds she was born into. 

My heart felt so many feelings when I was reading this novel. I can’t imagine the culture shock and the flood of information that the protagonist got when she found out that her father’s side is royalty to the oldest known monarchy in Japan. This novel points out that Americanization of a culture is destructive to cultures and their traditions. That is what happened with Izumi’s parents; they couldn’t be together since her mother was not only a commoner but American as well, which is a bad mixture. When Izumi learned the history and constitution of Japan as well as how royalty worked, she used her knowledge to impress and give respect to her grandparents. 

Overall, I deeply loved the writing of this novel and felt that this was really good. I think the author did a splendid job with descriptive and sensory descriptions.  The dialogue felt natural and nothing felt forced. There were references of modern events and going-on of the world that felt even more subversive to the narrative. I simply didn’t want to put down this novel because of how well the plot carried from one point to another. I highly suggest you go borrow or get this book to read because it is so magnificently written. I just love this novel and was so happy to have gotten to read it.

so much better than HP and Percy Jackson combined!!

Amari and the Night Brothers – B.B. Alston 

Supernatural, magic, missing persons, African Americans, fantasy, adventure, POC representation, children’s literature, fiction. 

Rating 10/10

Amari is trying to fit in and not feel much like an outcast. Also, she wonders what had happened to her brother and wants answers. She gets mystery mail that reveals that he nominated her to join the Night Brothers. She ventures to get accepted into this magical society but before she has to go through training and tests. Ultimately she will try to fit in and be accepted into this society while trying to find her brother. Some strange and unusual things occur at the Night Brother academy and she has to obtain the stolen items to return as well as find the traitor of the Beauro.

I had seen a TikToker read and review this book. I instantly knew I was going to love this book. This takes parts that I enjoyed about Harry Potter and parts of Percy Jackson, combined into this beautiful and stunning children’s book. I love a good female heroine and Amari was that for sure. I finished this in one sitting and I am still stunned by the magicalness of this novel. This had POC representation and a lot of lore but not too much that it would be overwhelming. I have to say that I am sort of mad that there are no sequels to this novel, but when the moment that Alston produces another book I will be instantly buying. The writing is amazing and adventure packed. This novel is good for all ages really because I think this is really fun to read. I highly suggest to not only get this book for one’s self, but as a gift for a middle grade, high school, or a gift to anyone. All ages can enjoy this phenomenal novel.

so powerful, really resonated

Love is a Revolution – Renee Watson

Love, dating, self-acceptance, social action, Jamacian Americans, Harlem, New York, Young Adult, POC representation, fiction. 

Rating 10/10

Nala goes to an open mic night with her cousin for her birthday. When one of the poet activists, Tye, goes on stage her attention is drawn to him. She makes herself more relatable to him by omitting lies and she struggles to keep them straight as she is falling more and more for Tye. Her relationship with her cousin isn’t easy either and Nala learns to stop and reflect. She needs to love herself first and in turn love Tye. 

My heart vibed with what the author wanted to express through this narrative. Love can really change and inspire a person to love themselves better. I loved the place and this felt so real that I was there. I was witnessing everything happening with Nala and her interactions. Everyone needs to go pick up this book and read this novel. I can’t express how much I love this book. I did borrow this from the library and I am definitely going to buy the book. Then most likely read it again because it was so good. I finished this book in one day and it’s that type of book that can be read in one sitting because the pacing is perfect. I do not see enough hype but this book deserves so much more hype.

Monterey is a beautiful place…

Tortilla Flat – John Steinbeck

Hispanic Americans, Monterey, classic literature, fiction.

Rating 8/10

Danny returns home from the war and deals with life after the war. Danny realizes that he owns two houses and decides to share with his good friend Pilon whom Danny let’s stay at the second house. Pilon promises to pay for the room and be a good friend. Time progress and two more people, Pablo and Jesus Maria join into the group. They navigate together in an unforgettable adventure and get a sense of belonging amongst each other in Monterey.

I was recommended this author to read since I plan to move to Monterey. I loved this novel and I found the Arthurian legend themes in a new and modern adaptation with the place of Monterey was really intriguing, Usually I have a harder time reading classics, but this came at an ease. I binge read this novel so fast. I do recommend this novel for sure. I had a good time reading this novel. I plan to read another book of Steinbeck’s.

This Was Okay?

The Universal Laws of Marco – Carmen Rodriguez

Friendship, love, Cuban Americans, Miami, young adult, fiction.

Rating 4/10

Marco has his whole life planned by him. It is senior year, he is working hard for his family, applying to colleges, and has a girlfriend. He remembers a time where he and this girl, Sally used to be close friends and she was his first kiss. Sally disappeared for a long time and Marco had coped with her disappearance and moved on. When Sally had returned, this threw Marco’s universe into a whole new direction. He finds himself thinking more and more about her. Eventually his girlfriend catches on and breaks up with him. Sally comes around and Marco confesses his love for her. Sally confesses her love for him as well. Both Sally and Marco look forward to a future together.

I sort of enjoyed this novel, but it was too painstakingly slow. To me it was too much of a cliché love story. Childhood best friends becoming lovers is overplayed and would’ve wanted a better story. There was too much telling of the past and present that it got confusing for me. I did enjoy the use of astrology because it made the story a bit better. With all considered with this young adult novel, maybe if someone was into cheesy teen romance novels, this would be for them. I was expecting something different but instead got a stupid cliché.