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.

a new Romeo and Juliet ?

A Pho Love Story – Loan Le 

Romance, comedy, rival pho restaurants, Vietnamese-Americans, young adult, fiction. 

Rating 8/10

Linh and Bao’s families are rival pho restaurants. They are always competing against each other to the point where sometimes nasty words are said. Sometimes rumors are spread that are lies. Linh and Bao try to have a relationship and navigate the rough waters of their families’ rivalry. Both vowing to make it work for both of them and their families. 

I was curious about this book as I was looking at the new YA section and wanted to read something different so I picked this book and some others. I liked this. I felt that this is a great and better replacement of Romeo and Juliet with a happier ending with more diverse characters. We need more diverse books in the public school curriculum that aren’t just old racist dudes. I’m sure that this is much more enriching than a tale of two people deciding to end it all if they can’t be together. These two people, Linh and Bao, work it out between their families. I can see this happening in real life and love that there is food involved. I never really tried pho but now I want to try it. Besides, I love both characters and feel for them. Go get this book and read it.

enjoyed this novel so much

Cemetery Boys – Aiden Thomas

Latinx, magic, day of the dead, ceremonies, transgender, coming of age, culture, science fiction, young adult, fiction. 

Rating 9/10

Yadriel wants to prove he’s a brujo worthy to be a part of the brujos. Despite being transgender, he still tries to convince his family to allow him to prove his worth. As they don’t want to accept his gender he will not stop trying to convince them. One night a spirit left the world and that spirit is their cousin. Defying the rules he goes to find where his cousin went and summons his spirit. Except that wasn’t his spirit but of a fellow high school student that died that year. Yadriel also accidentally summoned a relentless spirit that doesn’t want to leave. Yadriel has to clean up the mess he made and prove to his family his gender. 

This was the most beautifully written young adult novel that I ever had read. I was so sad that this book was short and I had binge read this. This novel speaks so many truths behind the fiction of how some families in society do not accept their child’s gender and the pronouns that they prefer. I loved the ending and found it perfect. Usually there are only novels that have families either shun them or the protagonist is accepting of themselves. Never in between and this book made my heart warm and glow. There was some romance and a lot of science fiction going on. I loved it and I would’ve loved it more if there wasn’t a potential dead love interest. That got me bummed out in the end. Overall, I loved this novel and was so glad to have read it.

deeply resonating

This Is My America – Kim Johnson 

Racism, judicial error, African Americans, race relations, prisoners, murder, family problems, young adult, fiction.

Rating 10/10

Tracy knows her father is innocent of a crime he didn’t commit. She writes letters to InnocenceX in hopes of getting their help in freeing her dad. She has less than a year before her father is executed. Tracy researches legal help as she wants to become a lawyer to fight for the rights of African Americans. When a teenage girl is found murdered and her brother is on the run, he is being framed for murder. She knows he is also innocent but being blamed because he was found near the scene of the crime along with his jacket. Tracy seeks out help and tries to bring home not only her father but brother as well. 

This novel was not easy to read. As covering the topic of systematic racism is a very serious topic. Johnson describes a reality that all African American families face when someone in their family was innocent of a crime that they did not commit but they were framed and sentenced to jail. Systematic racism exists and it impacts more than the individual but thousands of African American families, young and old. These families struggle to gain a sense of safety and security in a land that is extremely racist and discriminates. Trying to find legal help is never easy just like Tracy when she was trying to get help from a foundation that is dedicated to helping free innocent African Americans. Nothing is free of cost and getting lawyers costs a lot of money and this is a cold truth and reality of the justice system. The justice system is geared to suppress African Americans from succeeding. It was built on racism and discrimination. 

This novel, as it is fiction, does have a happy ending where her father and brother were freed from the investigations and trials to form the harsh stereotypes that were placed upon them. Many in real life don’t get the happy ending of having their family member come back home alive. 

Here is a link of all those who were murdered in police brutality and in the hands of the police Know their names: Black people killed by the police in the US 

Those are only some that appear on the news headlines. 

Many others don’t. 

Racism ends here.

this was really resonating

The Gilded Ones – Namina Forna 

Fantasy, young adult, fiction. 

Rating 9/10

Deka awaits the ceremony that will allow her to be welcomed by her community. The ceremony determines whether or not she’s pure or impure. Pure ones stay while impure ones are casted away. She was revealed and declared as impure as her blood ran golden. They try to kill her but she never dies so they collect her blood. A woman with White Hands rescues her and gives her a second chance at life serving under the Emperor. She is told terms and conditions then decides she wants to become stronger. As she is training she learns more about herself and what she truly is. More of why she is more feared than the rest of her peers. 

I saw this book and needed to read it. I heard so much about this book and saw it trending on and all over TikTok and Instagram. I found a copy at my local Barnes & Nobles and got down to reading it. This is a beautifully written novel with lots of fantasy elements and along the way world building in bite sized portions. The characters are so diverse and intriguing as we meet them through Deka’s eyes. As I was reading this I felt anger and sadness as well as hope for the main character. The author did a splendid and extraordinary job with the world building and characters. However, I don’t like cliffhanger endings and this had a cliffhanger ending. I wanted more and I do hope that in the future the series continues. There were a good amount of twists that I hadn’t expected so this novel definitely kept me on my toes. I do have to say, and I say this a lot, recommend this novel. I know that I say each post of a book I like is a good book. I say to go read it but there are so many good books out there like this one that need more hype and more love and attention. 

home is where ever they go because they are with each other

Fly Me to the Moon Vol 4 – Kenjiro Hata

Romance, contemporary, young adult, manga, fiction. 

Rating 10/10

Nasa and Tsukasa return from touring the Kyoto area and getting to know his parents to find that his home got burned up. Now they have nowhere else to go, one of his friends offers a room at the place he is a regular. Throughout this, they find romance and make memories with each other. Nasa learns what it is like to treat his wife to things that she deserves. Their next adventure would be finding their own place to live at. 

Okay, this one was definitely cuter than the previous volume. They are so cute that one has to obviously ship the two. There are some pervy parts in this one but there is too much romance and fluff that it goes unnoticed. I’m so happy to have found this series and can’t wait for the rest to come out. I am 100% deeply invested in this manga series.

so much fluff and romance

Fly Me to the Moon Vol 3 – Kenjiro Hata

Romance, contemporary, young adult, manga, fiction. 

Rating 10/10

Nasa realizes that their home is small and sort of cramped. He wants to move to a bigger space but she is happily content. He convinces her that they can get a bigger space for the two and get more stuff that she likes. Now that she’s on board with that idea but points out that a new bigger home would be costly. Nasa knows who to go get help for a bigger place, his parents. In realizing this, he forgot to inform them that they got married. He wants the best for his wife and will do anything to prove that he loves her. 

I was struggling to find this manga volume. As one can tell, I am deeply invested in this series. There are a lot of cute and hilarious moments. Moments that made me go aww and cried cause it was so much fluff and romance. I’m so happy when I found this and I found the fourth volume as well. I sincerely recommend this manga series because there is a lot of cute fluff and moments that will make one’s heart melt. The artwork and dialogue are perfect and well done. Unfortunately there are only four volumes but this can be a way to catch up if there is more coming out later this year. I saw at Barnes & Nobles that there are four more coming out this year which is great news.

…this was fine…

A Heart So Fierce and Broken (The Curse Breaker Series: Book 2) – Brigid Kemmerer

Fairy tales, retellings, fantasy, young adult, fiction.

Ratings 7/10

Grey is on the run with the new information that can get him killed. He is the true heir to Ember Fall. He nearly escaped and murdered the Enchantress who told him the truth of his birth. Karis Luran and her two daughters travel to Ember Fall to try to make a treaty of marriage to solidify the two nations. Lia Mara knows the true intentions of her vicious sister and wants peace between the two-warring kingdoms. Karis Luran meets with Rhen and blackmails him into trying to make a treatise. Rhen doesn’t want any of that. Lia decides into her own hands that led to her to becoming her mother’s pawn. Rhen finds Grey and confronts him about the heir. Grey is the heir but Rhen doesn’t know. The manhunt becomes benevolent. 

I wasn’t fully into the second installment of the trilogy. The writing is amazing, and organization of the different narratives helped build the world in making this world easier to understand. The new characters in this story were interesting and this revealed a lot more than the first book of the magical world. I should say not fully invested as I was with the first book. For those who have read the first book would be into the second book. Someone let me know if the third is good or comment below if I should continue. Convince me in other words without spoiling. I see this series all over TikTok and so many others. For those who are into the first book and are deeply invested in the series then this book is for those who are into it. I just personally am good with having the first book as a standalone because the second book was all over the place for me personally.

A Willing Sacrifice

King’s Cage – Victoria Aveyard

Young adult, Science fiction.

Rating 8.7/10

Mare sacrificed herself to Maven to protect those who she considers dear and innocent of this war between Silver and Red bloods. Maven holds her prisoner and parading his prize to everyone. Mare doesn’t understand why he keeps her alive, she’s committed a lot of wrong. He only keeps her as a weapon against The Scarlet Guard. As well as he finds her useful in other ways as well. Either she plays her role that he gave her or the fate of her family hangs in question.

This book was heavy and sort of hard to follow because I was expecting one theory and got another. I have to say this novel really kept me on my toes through each page. There are a few changes in perspective and its stated in the beginnings of each new chapter. Overall, I enjoy the fact that this doesn’t involve romance whatsoever but survival and fighting both externally and internally. The author provides more detail and history of this fictional world through the plot. I appreciate an author who goes in depth rather leave the reader wondering. I couldn’t put the book down without questioning what’s to happen to Mare. I’m too heavily invested in this series and never was this heavily invested when my best friend introduced me to the Divergent series, another Young adult series I will be reading eventually. I do recommend this Young Adult series as well as the other I’ve mentioned. 

BANNED BOOKS?!

 Suggested Reading – Dave Connis

Young adult, banned books, fiction.

Rating 9/10

Clara loves literature as much as she loves breathing air, she needs to read various types of literature. When its senior year, she is prepared to read certain books on her list. Clara comes across an email she shouldn’t have had read and is angry as well as devastated. All her favorite books are banned and taken out of circulation. Clara attempts to reason with the principal, she is told to stand down otherwise she would face the consequences of her actions. Clara enlists her friend to start an underground book club with these banned titles in rebellion of the unfair rules. Someone catches her distributing these banned books and Clara must face the reality of her actions as well as her heart on the matter.

This book caught my attention for far too many reasons. This novel is different from I’ve read, and I loved this novel so much I reread the novel. The idea of banned books and one bibliophile fighting for book rights really warms my heart that at least there is a fictional character I can relate to. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to read about the fight for unbanning books.

RANT: I don’t understand why books are banned in general. All books should be accepted and appreciated. Writing fiction is never an easy task and I personally find it a waste to even have a banned list. Yes, some books are controversial, but they sometimes reflect time eras of when the authors were going through and or topics that needed to be addressed one form or another. If one doesn’t want to read controversial books, then don’t read the book at all. If we restrict the books we offer to our youth, this sends a bad message that reading should only be assigned and creativity as well as curiosity should be nonexistent. For me I would rather have the freedom to read what ever I wanted versus only given an outline of potential books I’m allowed to read. As a bibliophile, that idea of a list of banned books horrifies me slightly. There are some books that should be banned such as Twilight but that’s my only banned book list I would have in my household.