Cover Reveal: Yes & No by Elisha Cooper

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Publisher: Roaring Book Press

Release Date: 04/13/2021

From Caldecott Honor author/illustrator Elisha Cooper comes Yes & No, a timeless tale of friendship, adjusting your perspective, and the joys (and trials) of siblinghood.

Link:

https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250257338

Top Ten Books I Wanna Read For 2021

I’m horrible at making resolutions and sticking to them, but one of my goals this year is to read more of my unread books and tackle my TBR! How about you?

Here are my top 10 reads I’m hoping to read for 2021. In no particular order:

1) THE IRON KING BY JULIE KAGAWA

2) THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE BY SARAH J MAAS

3) AN EMBER IN THE ASHES BY SABAA TAHIR

4) A TALE OF MAGIC BY CHRIS COLFER

5) CINDER AND SPARROWS BY STEFAN BACHMANN

6) HOUSE OF DRAGONS BY JESSICA CLUESS

7) THE ROAD BY CORMAC MCCARTHY

8) ALL THE STARS AND TEETH BY ADALYN GRACE

9) A THRONE OF SWANS BY KATHARINE CORR

10) STALKING JACK THE RIPPER BY KERRI MANISCALCO

Have you read any of these? What book are you hoping to get to this year?

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Today’s Burn Book entry..

Genre: YA Fantasy, Retelling

My Rating: DNF @ ch.8 ⭐️⭐️

The story started off really well..just like a fairytale. I was very intrigued by Soraya and her curse of being poisonous. But somewhere along the way, it started to go downhill for me. It was slow with very little happening. I grew bored and a little frustrated with Soraya. Did we really need an entire chapter describing Soraya’s need to talk to her brother during the Nog Roz celebration. She’s gifted with this power/curse and could have been a fierce MC, yet cowers and lets Ramin treat her like shit. Umm.. aside from her power, isn’t she royalty?!! It was infuriating. And don’t even get me started on the instalove/love interest! It felt forced.

It’ll come down to personal taste (doesn’t it always?), but I really wanted more action and evil! I would have been more interested in seeing Soraya become evil or killing someone. But that’s just me. Maybe the story picks up later on? I don’t know, and really didn’t care to find out.

Have you read this one? If so, did you like it more than I did?

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story. 

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison. 

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

The Wife Upstairs By Rachel Hawkins

** Thank you NetGalley & St.Martin’s Press for gifting me an eARC **

Genre: Domestic Suspense, Retelling

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

If you like:

-domestic dramas & suspense

-multiple POV’s

-retellings

This was a slow burn read, with each character harbouring a secret of their own. I both loved & hated the twist at the end (if that even makes sense), which by no means is a bad thing! It’s the sign of a good writer who knows how to get under your (my) skin! I just wanted a different turn of events and outcome for some of the characters.

I haven’t read Jane Eyre yet, but I do have a general idea of the story and liked the author’s use of the same names!

This was like Wysteria Lane (Desperate Housewives) meets The Usual Suspects. Lies, gossip and drama! There wasn’t one character I was rooting for, Jane included! Which didn’t bother me, cause if you know me by now, I actually kinda like the unlikeable characters 😜. They make for good stories!

Overall, I really enjoyed this one and found myself reading late into the night.

Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates––a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name.

But her luck changes when she meets Eddie Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie––not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.

Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past––or his––catches up to her?

Book Vs Show: A Discovery Of Witches by Deborah Harkness

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ (for the book)

After watching the first season and loving it, I decided to give this book a second go. I had DNF’d it the first time, which was back in my Twilight loving days.

BOOK VERSUS THE SHOW

As with any book to film adaptation, the book is always more detailed and obviously different than the show. Personally, I’m glad I watched the show first! It was SO good!!

Book

– It started off strong with the mention of witches, vampires, daemons and a mysterious manuscript (Ashmole 782).

– I loved the setting and all the magic that Diana possessed. I just wish we got to see more of that, rather than spend the entire time with Diana reading textbooks, drinking tea, eating, drinking wine, drinking more tea, sleeping and other useless activities that had no relevance.

Show

– I really enjoyed the chemistry between Matthew & Diana on screen. Unfortunately, the book was too PG for my liking, and I wasn’t as invested in their relationship as I was with the show.

– The characters are a little different in the show than in the book, which was totally fine by me. Some of the ones that took a back seat or were merely mentioned, played a much larger role in the show, which I really liked. I loved how the power of witches and vampires were shown in the show. It’s only in the book that we learn what daemons are capable of.

-There was definitely waay more action in the show versus the book. I found the book slow, making it hard for me to want to binge read. Hardly anything happens in the majority of the book.

I did however, enjoy the background history on the Bishops, Matthew & Ysabeau de Claremont that we get to see in the book, that was missed on screen.

OVERALL VERDICT

It’s a very rare occurence when I like a show or movie adaption better than the book.

While I enjoyed the book, I didn’t love it like I did the show. It had the potential to be an amazing read, but got caught up in too many mundane details.

To be honest, if I hadn’t watched the first season and loved it, 1) I would have never picked up the book again and 2) I would have DNF’D it..AGAIN.

My advice: WATCH THE SHOW!! (Whether you’ve read the book or not).

Buddy Read: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Sorry, but this one’s going in the burn book! Today’s rant: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies — humans with extraordinary abilities — who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone… except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice — and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

For some, third time’s a charm..but in this case, not so much!

This is the 3rd book by Marissa Meyer I’ve now attempted to read, and have come to the conclusion that her storytelling and writing is just not for me.

Jonny @ Jaunts & Haunts and I buddy read this one, and both of us threw in the towel..he actually lasted much longer than I did. He made it to chapter 15. I only made it to chapter 5 🤦‍♀️.

Here’s how our convo went down:

Jonny:

*stomps into digital room pouting* Gigi, I’m so disappointed! I wasn’t able to finish this book. You know I love me some superheroes (and hate hate hate not finishing books), but I just couldn’t get through it.

Gigi:

Ugh. You too? I didn’t like it either! I DNF’d at ch. 5 😭

Jonny:

Well, at least I’m not alone in that.

I actually bought a print copy back in April at the beginning of the pandemic and was really looking forward to it. Now I kind of regret it. I had issues after the prologue, but somehow managed to last until Chapter 15 before calling it quits.

What was the main thing that killed it for you?

For me there was just way too much detail packed in each page. I don’t need to know what color the wallpaper is (that’s not an actual example from the book but a comparison) in the room, just what is important to the story. At first that didn’t bug me too much, but once it was clear that wasn’t going to change I got a bit miffed.

Gigi:

I bought my hardcover from Book Depot a few years ago and was hoping that 3rd time would be a charm for me. I’ve tried to read 2 other books written by Marissa Meyer and wasn’t feeling them. I should have known better! Marissa Meyer just isn’t for me.

The descriptions killed it for me too. Too much effort was spent describing the scene and setting in my opinion. There wasn’t enough character building, which was a shame. There was potential for some really great characters, but none of them really stood out.

To be honest, at times I felt like I was reading a reimagining of Teen Titans Go. It was cheesy.

Jonny:

Oh wow, that’s awful! I’m sorry this author isn’t for you. I probably won’t be trying anything by this author anytime soon to be honest.

The sad thing was that it could’ve been great with some simple tweaks and cutting out of unnecessary bits. Editing sucks (I would know!), but it’s a necessary part of being a writer.

I agree with you that the characters didn’t really wow me. I did like Adrian and his powers, but there wasn’t enough there to warrant me continuing. I understood where Nova was coming from but kind of wish there was more behind her overall goal than revenge. I feel like the author would probably try to gear Nova and Adrian towards each other in a romantic way, but I didn’t get that far.

Oh no, I do not like Teen Titans Go, but the original cartoon? Yes, yes, yes!

I’m definitely not giving up on superhero novels. Dreadnought was phenomenal. This one just didn’t work.

Gigi:

I feel like Nova could have been a great character. I actually liked the revenge angle. I just wish the story was executed better.

Lol. My kids love Teen Titans Go! I find it a bit annoying. 😂

Most of the superheroes I read about are pretty much in graphic novel form. So when you find another one in novel format, let me know!!

I can’t wait to read Skyward with you!!

Jonny:

I can see the appeal with Nova. I did like her power if that’s any consolation, and there were redeeming qualities about this book I enjoyed. The concept and world it’s set in was seductive. I love the idea of a world where superpowers are rather common.

Oh, I hear ya! The new show I found very annoying. You are not alone!

Graphic novels and comics are great! I grew up reading Xmen comic books. I just prefer books a bit more these days. Haha, I have a list of superpowered novels I have yet to try. I’ll definitely be sharing that with you soon!

I’m looking forward to it too! Thanks for giving this one a chance with me. 🙂

Gigi:

No problem! It’s always fun reading with you! Especially when we both go on a rant. 🤣🤣

Looking forward to our next buddy read ❤

What did you think? Have you read it? Did you like it?

Author Spotlight: John Hunt

Hey bookworms! Sorry for being a little MIA, but it’s been crazy over here!! Stay tuned for updates!

I don’t normally do a spotlight and it’s been a long time since I’ve done one. But I thought this was worth sharing and might even help some fellow friends who are either thinking of writing, or already write and publish their own work.

So without further ado, I present to you, Canadian author:

John Hunt

I’ve been reading and reviewing John’s work since Doll House, which was an intense and disturbing ride! But oh-so good!!

When he told me about his YouTube channel and wanting to share his personal journey in self-publishing, I knew I had to share it!

https://youtu.be/pFAqB1tFOw8

The links to his videos can also be found on his website: https://johnhuntfiction.ca

The Roxy Letters by Mary Pauline Lowry

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ 1/2 (3.5 stars)

“Yeah. I’m pretty sure ‘trophy wife’ is a top-five fetish for underemployed artist types.” -Crumb Cake (Artemis)

It wasn’t perfect, but I had a blast reading this one. Roxy is like the friend you live vicariously through, who has all the crazy adventures and messed up stories to tell.

I read this book in short doses, which is probably the way to go, since the entire book is written in the form of letters to Everett (the ex-boyfriend turned roommate). This will either work for you or it won’t.

For me, it was lacking some pizzazz. It would have been a knockout had the book included Everett’s response to some of the letters, with perhaps a mix of text messages between some of the characters.

Unfortunately, I did not see the connection between this story and Where’d You Go Burnadette, other than the topic of mental illness. So I have no idea why that was even a comparison.

While I enjoyed the happy ending, I also thought it was rushed and wrapped up too neatly.

Don’t get me wrong. This was an overall fun read, and exactly the break I needed from my usual reads.

If you:

✔ enjoyed Bridget Jones

✔ like happy endings

✔ aren’t a prude

✔ enjoy epistolary format

Then I think you’ll wanna read this one. 🙂

Have you read it? What did you think?

Bridget Jones penned a diary; Roxy writes letters. Specifically: she writes letters to her hapless, rent-avoidant ex-boyfriend—and current roommate—Everett. This charming and funny twenty-something is under-employed (and under-romanced), and she’s decidedly fed up with the indignities she endures as a deli maid at Whole Foods (the original), and the dismaying speed at which her beloved Austin is becoming corporatized. When a new Lululemon pops up at the intersection of Sixth and Lamar where the old Waterloo Video used to be, Roxy can stay silent no longer.

As her letters to Everett become less about overdue rent and more about the state of her life, Roxy realizes she’s ready to be the heroine of her own story. She decides to team up with her two best friends to save Austin—and rescue Roxy’s love life—in whatever way they can. But can this spunky, unforgettable millennial keep Austin weird, avoid arrest, and find romance—and even creative inspiration—in the process?

Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

On this week’s episode of My Burn Book, I present to you..

Genre: YA

My Rating: DNF @ch. 4

Womp. Womp.

I’m sorry guys, but I’m about to go full on Regina George today and light this shit on fiyah!

Just for the record, I frikkin LOVED Twilight! But this…was eye roll central for me.

“Hate and irritation. Impatience. Would the hour never pass?”

Omg Edward. My thoughts exactly!

By the way, I was Team Edward all the way until I read this book! 🤦‍♀️ So for those of you who have held off on this one cause you’re unsure, let me save you some time! DON’T. DO. IT!!

“Ignorance was bliss to the human mind.”

Oh, Edward you fool. How right you are!

The idea of wanting to hear Edward’s POV was enticing, but now that I’ve read it, I can’t unread it! And quite frankly, he was totally annoying. I seriously thought the first chapter would never end!

It does pick up and get a tad better, but it wasn’t enough to keep me invested.

Have you read it? Thinkin about reading it?

Were you Team Edward? Or Jacob?

[BLOG TOUR & EXCERPT] The Last Story Of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim

Hey Bookworms!

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Last Story Of Mina Lee.

Publication Date: September 1, 2020

Publisher: Park Row Books

THE LAST STORY OF MINA LEE (on sale: September 1, 2020; Park Row Books; Hardcover; $27.99 US/ $34.99 CAN). opens when Margot Lee’s mother, Mina, doesn’t return her calls. It’s a mystery to twenty-six-year-old Margot, until she visits her childhood apartment in Koreatown, Los Angeles, and finds that her mother has suspiciously died. The discovery sends Margot digging through the past, unraveling the tenuous and invisible strings that held together her single mother’s life as a Korean War orphan and an undocumented immigrant, only to realize how little she truly knew about her mother.

Interwoven with Margot’s present-day search is Mina’s story of her first year in Los Angeles as she navigates the promises and perils of the American myth of reinvention. While she’s barely earning a living by stocking shelves at a Korean grocery store, the last thing Mina ever expects is to fall in love. But that love story sets in motion a series of events that have consequences for years to come, leading up to the truth of what happened the night of her death.

Buy Links:

Harlequin

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Nancy Jooyoun Kim is a graduate of UCLA and the MFA Creative Writing Program at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Guernica, The Rumpus, Electric Literature, Asian American Writers’ Workshop’s The Margins, The Offing, the blogs of Prairie Schooner and Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. Her essay, “Love (or Live Cargo),” was performed for NPR/PRI’s Selected Shorts in 2017 with stories by Viet Thanh Nguyen, Phil Klay, and Etgar Keret. THE LAST STORY OF MINA LEE is her first novel.

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @njooyounkim

Instagram: @njooyounkim

Goodreads

Margot

2014

Margot’s final conversation with her mother had seemed so uneventful, so ordinary—another choppy bilingual plod. Half-understandable.

Business was slow again today. Even all the Korean businesses downtown are closing.

What did you eat for dinner?

Everyone is going to Target now, the big stores. It costs the same and it’s cleaner.

Margot imagined her brain like a fishing net with the loosest of weaves as she watched the Korean words swim through. She had tried to tighten the net before, but learning another language, especially her mother’s tongue, frustrated her. Why didn’t her mother learn to speak English?

But that last conversation was two weeks ago. And for the past few days, Margot had only one question on her mind: Why didn’t her mother pick up the phone?

****

Since Margot and Miguel had left Portland, the rain had been relentless and wild. Through the windshield wipers and fogged glass, they only caught glimpses of fast food and gas stations, motels and billboards, premium outlets and “family fun centers.” Margot’s hands were stiff from clenching the steering wheel. The rain had started an hour ago, right after they had made a pit stop in north Portland to see the famous 31-foot-tall Paul Bunyan sculpture with his cartoonish smile, red-and-white checkered shirt on his barrel chest, his hands resting on top of an upright axe.

Earlier that morning, Margot had stuffed a backpack and a duffel with a week’s worth of clothes, picked up Miguel from his apartment with two large suitcases and three houseplants, and merged onto the freeway away from Seattle, driving Miguel down for his big move to Los Angeles. They’d stop in Daly City to spend the night at Miguel’s family’s house, which would take about ten hours to get to. At the start of the drive, Miguel had been lively, singing along to “Don’t Stop Believing” and joking about all the men he would meet in LA. But now, almost four hours into the road trip, Miguel was silent with his forehead in his palm, taking deep breaths as if trying hard not to think about anything at all.

“Everything okay?” Margot asked.

“I’m just thinking about my parents.”

“What about your parents?” Margot lowered her foot on the gas.

“Lying to them,” he said.

“About why you’re really moving down to LA?” The rain splashed down like a waterfall. Miguel had taken a job offer at an accounting firm in a location more conducive to his dreams of working in theatre. For the last two years, they had worked together at a nonprofit for people with disabilities. She was as an administrative assistant; he crunched numbers in finance. She would miss him, but she was happy for him, too. He would finally finish writing his play while honing his acting skills with classes at night. “The theatre classes? The plays that you write? The Grindr account?”

“About it all.”

“Do you ever think about telling them?”

“All the time.” He sighed. “But it’s easier this way.”

“Do you think they know?”

“Of course, they do. But…” He brushed his hand through his hair. “Sometimes, agreeing to the same lie is what makes a family family, Margot.”

“Ha. Then what do you call people who agree to the same truth?”

“Uh, scientists?”

She laughed, having expected him to say friends. Gripping the wheel, she caught the sign for Salem.

“Do you need to use the bathroom?” she asked.

“I’m okay. We’re gonna stop in Eugene, right?”

“Yeah, should be another hour or so.”

“I’m kinda hungry.” Rustling in his pack on the floor of the backseat, he found an apple, which he rubbed clean with the edge of his shirt. “Want a bite?”

“Not now, thanks.”

His teeth crunched into the flesh, the scent cracking through the odor of wet floor mats and warm vents. Margot was struck by a memory of her mother’s serene face—the downcast eyes above the high cheekbones, the relaxed mouth—as she peeled an apple with a paring knife, conjuring a continuous ribbon of skin. The resulting spiral held the shape of its former life. As a child, Margot would delicately hold this peel like a small animal in the palm of her hand, this proof that her mother could be a kind of magician, an artist who told an origin story through scraps—this is the skin of a fruit, this is its smell, this is its color.

“I hope the weather clears up soon,” Miguel said, interrupting the memory. “It gets pretty narrow and windy for a while. There’s a scary point right at the top of California where the road is just zigzagging while you’re looking down cliffs. It’s like a test to see if you can stay on the road.”

“Oh, God,” Margot said. “Let’s not talk about it anymore.”

As she refocused on the rain-slicked road, the blurred lights, the yellow and white lines like yarn unspooling, Margot thought about her mother who hated driving on the freeway, her mother who no longer answered the phone. Where was her mother?

The windshield wipers squeaked, clearing sheets of rain.

“What about you?” Miguel asked. “Looking forward to seeing your mom? When did you see her last?”

Margot’s stomach dropped. “Last Christmas,” she said. “Actually, I’ve been trying to call her for the past few days to let her know, to let her know that we would be coming down.” Gripping the wheel, she sighed. “I didn’t really want to tell her because I wanted this to be a fun trip, but then I felt bad, so…”

“Is everything okay?”

“She hasn’t been answering the phone.”

“Hmm.” He shifted in his seat. “Maybe her phone battery died?”

“It’s a landline. Both landlines—at work and at home.”

“Maybe she’s on vacation?”

“She never goes on vacation.” The windshield fogged, revealing smudges and streaks, past attempts to wipe it clean. She cranked up the air inside.

“Hasn’t she ever wanted to go somewhere?”

“Yosemite and the Grand Canyon. I don’t know why, but she’s always wanted to go there.”

“It’s a big ol’ crack in the ground, Margot. Why wouldn’t she want to see it? It’s God’s crack.”

“It’s some kind of Korean immigrant rite of passage. National Parks, reasons to wear hats and khaki, stuff like that. It’s like America America.”

“I bet she’s okay,” Miguel said. “Maybe she’s just been busier than usual, right? We’ll be there soon enough.”

“You’re probably right. I’ll call her again when we stop.”

A heaviness expanded inside her chest. She fidgeted with the radio dial but caught only static with an occasional glimpse of a commercial or radio announcer’s voice.

Her mother was fine. They would all be fine.

With Miguel in LA, she’d have more reasons to visit now.

The road lay before them like a peel of fruit. The windshield wipers hacked away the rivers that fell from the sky.

Excerpted from The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim, Copyright © 2020 by Nancy Jooyoun Kim Published by Park Row Books

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