Review: The Meet-Cute Project

Title: The Meet-Cute Project
Author: Rhiannon Richardson
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: January 12, 2021
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before meets Save the Date in this sweet and hijinks-filled rom-com about a teen girl who will do whatever it takes to find a date for her sister’s wedding.

Mia’s friends love rom-coms. Mia hates them. They’re silly, contrived, and not at all realistic. Besides, there are more important things to worry about—like how to handle living with her bridezilla sister, Sam, who’s never appreciated Mia, and surviving junior year juggling every school club offered and acing all of her classes.

So when Mia is tasked with finding a date to her sister’s wedding, her options are practically nonexistent.

Mia’s friends, however, have an idea. It’s a little crazy, a little out there, and a lot inspired by the movies they love that Mia begrudgingly watches too.

Mia just needs a meet-cute.

Review:

Mia needs to find a date to her sister’s wedding so that she isn’t paired with her future brother-in-law’s younger brother for the wedding party. Mia already has a lot to deal with, including math team, swim team, AP classes, and volunteering at the community garden, so she doesn’t have time to look for her own date. Her friends decide to each try to create a meet-cute moment for Mia, so she can “spontaneously” meet the perfect guy for her. It seems like a simple solution, until something goes wrong with each meeting, making Mia wonder if she will ever get her meet-cute moment.

This was a light, fun romance. Mia had to deal with typical high school things, like homework and teams, but she also had to deal with her bridezilla sister who insisted that Mia find a date for her wedding. I don’t really think it was that necessary for Mia to have a date to the wedding when she didn’t already have a partner, but it made for some funny moments.

I liked that though Mia is Black, it wasn’t the entire part of her personality or the story. It is definitely important to have stories about race, but it doesn’t have to be the main focus of every story. Mia didn’t have to deal with racism or racial issues. She was just a teenage girl who was trying to find a date.

This was a fun young adult romance!

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston

Have you read The Meet-Cute Project? What did you think of it?

Review: You Have a Match

Title: You Have a Match
Author: Emma Lord
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 12, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A new love, a secret sister, and a summer she’ll never forget. 

From the beloved author of Tweet Cute comes Emma Lord’s You Have a Match, a hilarious and heartfelt novel of romance, sisterhood, and friendship…

When Abby signs up for a DNA service, it’s mainly to give her friend and secret love interest, Leo, a nudge. After all, she knows who she is already: Avid photographer. Injury-prone tree climber. Best friend to Leo and Connie…although ever since the B.E.I. (Big Embarrassing Incident) with Leo, things have been awkward on that front.

But she didn’t know she’s a younger sister.

When the DNA service reveals Abby has a secret sister, shimmery-haired Instagram star Savannah Tully, it’s hard to believe they’re from the same planet, never mind the same parents — especially considering Savannah, queen of green smoothies, is only a year and a half older than Abby herself.

The logical course of action? Meet up at summer camp (obviously) and figure out why Abby’s parents gave Savvy up for adoption. But there are complications: Savvy is a rigid rule-follower and total narc. Leo is the camp’s co-chef, putting Abby’s growing feelings for him on blast. And her parents have a secret that threatens to unravel everything.

But part of life is showing up, leaning in, and learning to fit all your awkward pieces together. Because sometimes, the hardest things can also be the best ones.

Review:

Abby Day signs up for a DNA service to support her adopted friend Leo who is doing the test to possibly find out more about his birth parents. When Abby gets her results back, she’s shocked to find out that she has a full sister in the system, who she never knew existed. Abby and her newly found sister Savannah meet and decide to go to a summer camp to get to know each other and to figure out why Abby’s parents had a daughter who they gave up for adoption a year and a half before Abby was born.

The Parent Trap was one of my favourite movies when I was a kid, so I was so excited to read this book with a similar premise. In the movie, two twin sisters meet each other at a camp, and realize that their parents split up and each took one of the twins. This story is a little different since the girls weren’t twins and one was adopted to another family, but it had the same theme of finding a sister that you never knew you had.

This story was also a little suspenseful because of the mystery surrounding Savannah’s adoption. It seemed unusual that Abby’s parents would have a child who was given up for adoption and then a year and a half later have another child who they kept. I couldn’t figure out why that happened, so it was a surprise when it was revealed. I have heard of cases like this happening with adopted children before, where parents give up a child for adoption and then have more children later. DNA services are also making it more common for people to find relatives that they didn’t know existed, which I think will be a common story in many books in the future.

I really enjoyed this fun summer story!

Thank you Wednesday Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Have you read You Have a Match? What did you think of it?

Review: Love and War (Alex and Eliza #2)

Title: Love and War (Alex and Eliza #2)
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: April 17, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

1780. Albany, New York. 

As the war for American Independence carries on, two newlyweds are settling into their new adventure: marriage. But the honeymoon’s over, and Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler are learning firsthand just how tricky wedded life can be. Alex is still General George Washington’s right-hand man and his attention these days is nothing if not divided–much like the colonies’ interests as the end of the Revolution draws near. Alex & Eliza’s relationship is tested further by lingering jealousies and family drama. 

Review:

1780: Newlyweds Alexander and Eliza Hamilton are settling into their new life. They haven’t been able to settle into their own home yet because of Alex’s unstable job and traveling around. He has been General Washington’s right hand man, but he’s ready to take a bigger role for himself. While Alex decides to take some chances with his job, Eliza has to deal with family drama at home.

Though this story takes place almost 250 years ago, there were some timely aspects of it. America is still fighting in the Revolutionary War in the story. Alex has ideas about how America should be governed after the war. He believes the states should be united, using the same currency and laws. This theme of unity is prevalent today in the President Joe Biden’s plans for his presidency. There was a quote from Eliza at the end of the book which is so relevant today: “[The United States of America] is a shared space and a shared vision, and only when we learn that our different points of view give us a special strength will we tap into the full potential of our unique, united sensibilities.” Our differences make the world special, and they shouldn’t divide us.

I learned a lot about American history in this story. I didn’t know the details about how the country was formed during the Revolutionary War. I also found it fascinating how these historical problems, like the division between two groups of people, are still so relevant today.

This is a beautiful historical series!

What to read next:

All for One by Melissa de la Cruz

Hamilton and Peggy!: A Revolutionary Friendship by L.M. Elliott

Other books in the series:

Have you read Love and War? What did you think of it?

Review: Red School (Part 1)

Title: Red School (Part 1)
Author: Victoria Aveyard, Soman Chainai, Joel Gennari (illustrator)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Publisher: N/A
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: October 27, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Fantasy titans Victoria Aveyard and Soman Chainani team up in a two-part graphic novel event! Featuring your favourite characters from ‘Red Queen’ and ‘The School for Good and Evil’ series.

Review:

The royalty from Norta, including Mare, Cal, and Maven, go to The School for Good and Evil for a special ball. While they are celebrating, the school is taken over by a red fog that infects people from both sides and posses them. The characters from Red Queen (Mare, Cal, and Maven) and the characters from The School for Good and Evil (Agatha, Sophie, and Tedros) have to work together to find the source of the fog.

This is such a fun graphic novel that combines the worlds of two of my favourite series. This story doesn’t give any spoilers to the series (all the characters are alive, even if they died at some point during either series) so this graphic novel could be read at any point during the series. However, it would be useful to have some knowledge of the characters and read at least one book from both series before reading this graphic novel because the characters aren’t really introduced.

I loved seeing these characters illustrated. There are images of the characters from The School for Good and Evil on those book covers, but I had never seen authentic illustrations of the characters from the Red Queen series. It was so much fun to see all of these characters work together.

This was such a fun graphic novel! I can’t wait to read the next one!

What to read next:

Red School (Part 2) by Victoria Aveyard, Soman Chainani, Joel Gennari (illustrator)

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Other books in the series:

  • Red School (Part 2)

Have you read Red School (Part 1)? What did you think of it?

Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

Title: A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

FEYRE WILL BRING VENGEANCE.

She has left the Night Court – and her High Lord – and is playing a deadly game of deceit. In the Spring Court, Tamlin is making deals with the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees, and Feyre is determined to uncover his plans. But to do so she must weave a web of lies, and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As mighty armies grapple for power, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places. 

BUT WHILE WAR RAGES, IT IS HER HEART THAT WILL FACE THE GREATEST BATTLE.

THE THRILLING THIRD BOOK IN #1 NEW YORK TIMESBESTSELLING FANTASY SERIES FROM SARAH J. MAAS.

Review:

Feyre has left the Night Court, Rhysand, and her newly fae sisters, and returned to Tamlin and the Spring Court. She’s pretending that the mating bond between her and Rhys has been broken so she can learn the war plans of Tamlin and Hybern. Feyre has to figure out how to defeat Hybern with his magical cauldron, while also uniting the High Lords in war.

This was an epic conclusion to Feyre’s story. The story continues in a novella and another novel, which will focus on another couple. However, this book ended Feyre’s main story arc, which had an exciting finale.

There were some heart-pounding moments at the end of the book. I really didn’t know how it was going to end and who was going to survive. Even though this story ended most of the main story, there were still some loose ends that can continue in the upcoming books.

I loved this thrilling third book!

What to read next:

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Other books in the series:

Have you read A Court of Wings and Ruins? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: One of the Good Ones

Title: One of the Good Ones
Author: Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 5, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The Hate U Give meets Get Out in this honest and powerful exploration of prejudice in the stunning novel from sister-writer duo Maika and Maritza Moulite, authors of Dear Haiti, Love Alaine.

ISN’T BEING HUMAN ENOUGH?

When teen social activist and history buff Kezi Smith is killed under mysterious circumstances after attending a social justice rally, her devastated sister Happi and their family are left reeling in the aftermath. As Kezi becomes another immortalized victim in the fight against police brutality, Happi begins to question the idealized way her sister is remembered. Perfect. Angelic.

One of the good ones.

Even as the phrase rings wrong in her mind—why are only certain people deemed worthy to be missed?—Happi and her sister Genny embark on a journey to honor Kezi in their own way, using an heirloom copy of The Negro Motorist Green Book as their guide. But there’s a twist to Kezi’s story that no one could’ve ever expected—one that will change everything all over again.

Review:

Kezi Smith, a teenage vlogger and activist, was killed during a social justice rally. Her younger sister, Happi, and her older sister, Genny, are left to their grief. Kezi is called “one of the good ones,” and is recognized as an idol by the media because she wasn’t a troublemaker. Kezi had planned on doing a road trip after she finished high school along Route 66, following the guide book The Negro Motorist Green Book. Genny and Happi decide to do this trip with two of Kezi’s best friends to commemorate her life, but what they find is something only Kezi could give them.

This was a fantastic story! I already know it’s going to be one of my favourites of the year and perhaps of all time. It brings up some important questions that are timely but also have historical significance. Why are some deaths condemned because the victim was “one of the good ones”? Just because someone has made some mistakes, does that mean they deserve to be brutally murdered? Since Kezi was popular and fighting for social justice, she was called “one of the good ones,” who didn’t deserve to die as a result of the rally. That implies that the “bad ones” deserve those deaths. It also brings into question, what determines if someone is good or bad, and who makes this decision.

This book blended many different genres. There were some historical chapters, which looked back on Kezi’s ancestors and the way they were treated because they were Black. Most of the story had a contemporary setting. The final part of the story was extremely suspenseful. There were some thriller aspects which I wasn’t expecting, but they just made this story even more tense and exciting.

I could not put this book down. It had something for everyone and I believe everyone should read this book!

Thank you Inkyard Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

About the authors:

MAIKA MOULITE is a Miami native and the daughter of Haitian immigrants. She earned a bachelor’s in marketing from Florida State University and an MBA from the University of Miami. When she’s not using her digital prowess to help nonprofits and major organizations tell their stories online, she’s sharpening her skills as a PhD student at Howard University’s Communication, Culture and Media Studies program. Her research focuses on representation in media and its impact on marginalized groups. She’s the eldest of four sisters and loves young adult novels, fierce female leads, and laughing.

MARITZA MOULITE graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s in women’s studies and the University of Southern California with a master’s in journalism. She’s worked in various capacities for NBC News, CNN, and USA TODAY. Maritza is a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania exploring ways to improve literacy in under-resourced communities after being inspired to study education from her time as a literacy tutor and pre-k teacher assistant. Her favorite song is “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire.

Have you read One of the Good Ones? What did you think of it?

Review: Charming as a Verb

Title: Charming as a Verb
Author: Ben Philippe
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: October 13, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Henri “Halti” Haltiwanger can charm just about anyone. He is a star debater and popular student at the prestigious FATE academy, the dutiful first-generation Haitian son, and the trusted dog walker for his wealthy New York City neighbors. But his easy smiles mask a burning ambition to attend his dream college, Columbia University.

There is only one person who seems immune to Henri’s charms: his “intense” classmate and neighbor Corinne Troy. When she uncovers Henri’s less-than-honest dog-walking scheme, she blackmails him into helping her change her image at school. Henri agrees, seeing a potential upside for himself.

Soon what started as a mutual hustle turns into something more surprising than either of them ever bargained for. . . .

This is a sharply funny and insightful novel about the countless hustles we have to keep from doing the hardest thing: being ourselves.

Review:

Henri Haltiwanger is a charming student at the prestigious FATE Academy in New York. He has created his own dog walking company, and he aspires to attend Columbia University. When he gets a new dog walking client, he’s brought to the home of his neighbour and classmate Corinne Troy. Corinne discovers that Henri’s dog walking company is masquerading as a large corporation when it’s really just rum by him. She blackmails him to help her become more social at school to look better on college applications, or she will expose the truth about his company. Henri and Corinne get closer and closer, until he makes a mistake that jeopardizes everything he’s worked towards.

This story addresses common issues that teens face, such as applying to college and keeping up with your classmates. Henri and his friends applied to colleges, and they each had different experiences. For one friend it was easy to get an acceptance right away, while another had to work a little harder at it. Henri had some problems while applying, and he had to decide if he really wanted to go to Columbia for the right reasons. Though Henri went to a prestigious school, he wasn’t in the same position as the other students. His fellow students were from wealthy families, but Henri’s parents were working class immigrants. His parents’ dreams for Henri got in the way of his own path in life, which led Henri to take an extreme measures.

This story reminded me a lot of The Field Guide to the North American Teenager, Ben Philippe’s first novel. Henri was like Norris, the main character in that novel, with his confident attitude to life. Though some parts of this story were predictable, I still found it exciting when my predictions were correct.

This is a great contemporary story!

Thank you HarperCollins Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Have you read Charming as a Verb? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: Glimpsed

Title: Glimpsed
Author: G.F. Miller
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook, Paperback ARC
Release Date: January 5, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Perfect for fans of Geekerella and Jenn Bennett, this charming, sparkly rom-com follows a wish-granting teen forced to question if she’s really doing good—and if she has the power to make her own dreams come true.

Charity is a fairy godmother. She doesn’t wear a poofy dress or go around waving a wand, but she does make sure the deepest desires of the student population at Jack London High School come true. And she knows what they want even better than they do because she can glimpse their perfect futures.

But when Charity fulfills a glimpse that gets Vibha crowned homecoming queen, it ends in disaster. Suddenly, every wish Charity has ever granted is called into question. Has she really been helping people? Where do these glimpses come from, anyway? What if she’s not getting the whole picture?

Making this existential crisis way worse is Noah—the adorkable and (in Charity’s opinion) diabolical ex of one of her past clients—who blames her for sabotaging his prom plans and claims her interventions are doing more harm than good. He demands that she stop granting wishes and help him get his girl back. At first, Charity has no choice but to play along. But soon, Noah becomes an unexpected ally in getting to the bottom of the glimpses. Before long, Charity dares to call him her friend…and even starts to wish he were something more. But can the fairy godmother ever get the happily ever after?

Review:

Charity is a fairy godmother. She’s also a teenager at Jack London High School. Charity gets “glimpses” of people’s dreams coming true, so she has to figure out how to make it happen for them. But when one of her granted wishes ends in disaster, she has to wonder if she’s doing the right thing. Then she gets an anonymous message threatening to expose that she’s a fairy godmother who is manipulating students. Noah, her blackmailer, agrees not to expose her identity, if she grants his wish. After spending time with Noah, Charity has to question if she deserves her own happily ever after.

This story is a cute play on the traditional fairy tale. Usually the fairy godmother is a side character who doesn’t get a happily ever after. Charity comes from a family of fairy godmothers. Her grandmother is also a fairy godmother, and she acts as her mentor. The fairy godmothers who manipulated their “Cindys”, the people they get glimpses of, and didn’t give them a happy ending, are known as witches in fairy tales. I liked this comparison of fairy godmothers and witches, since they are both usually characters who guide the heroes to either succeed or fail.

Charity believes that since she’s the fairy godmother, she doesn’t get to have a happily ever after. She gives her “Cindys” their happily ever after, which she thinks is her entire purpose. However, even when she grants the wishes, it doesn’t always turn out the way it was destined to end. Charity has to fix the wishes she’s already granted as well as figure out her own happily ever after.

This is an adorable modern fairy tale.

Thank you Simon and Schuster for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer

About the author:

G.F. Miller can write 80,000-word novels, but ask her to sit down and write 250 true and meaningful words about herself and she is likely to have an existential crisis. Who am I, really? She ponders. What do I want to be known for? Does anyone even read the back flap or visit author websites?

But eventually she will pull herself together and tell you that…She married her college sweetheart and is mom to three littles who routinely make her heart burst and her head explode (it’s a messy business, love). There are puppies big and small residing at her house (you’ll be seeing a lot of them if you follow her on Instagram). She’s been to a dozen countries, but not nearly as many as she would like. She loves learning all the things. She cries at all the wrong times. She makes faces at herself in the mirror. She believes in the Oxford comma. And she’s always here for a dance party.  

While the stories she has brewing in her soul vary wildly from one another, there are three things they will always have in common: love, snappy dialogue, and happy endings.

Where to buy:

Tour schedule:

January 5th
A Court of Coffee and Books – Interview
Read more sleep less – Review
We Write at Dawn – Review & 15 Reactions While Reading Glimpsed
Reading On A Star – Review & Mood Board

January 6th
What Irin Reads – Review
dinipandareads – Review & Top 5 Reasons to Read Glimpsed 
Sadie’s Spotlight – Promo Post
Stocked Up on Starbooks – Promo Post

January 7th
Adventurous Bookworm – Review & Favourite Quotes
Justice For Readers – Review, Playlist, & Mood Board
Young at Heart Reader – Review
Endless Pages – Review & Favourite Quotes
Ash and Books – Book Look

January 8th
Kait Plus Books – Top 5 Reasons to Read Glimpsed & Interview
Unconventional Quirky Bibliophile – Review & Mood Board
Struck by Stories – Review & Mood Board
The Writer’s Alley – Review, Playlist & Mood Board

January 9th
B for Bookslut – Review
Confessions of a YA Reader – Promo Post
The Book Dutchesses – Review, Favourite Quotes & Top 5 Reasons to Read Glimpsed
Ashes of a Book Dragon – Review
Bookishfairytail – Review & Favourite Quotes

January 10th
Sophie’s Reading Corner – Review & Playlist
Not Just Fiction – Top 5 Reasons to Read Glimpsed
The Paper Reels – Review & Playlist
Jill’s Book Blog – Review

January 11th
Miss Linda Bennet – Favourite Quotes & Interview
The Book View – Review & Mood Board
One More Chapter – Review
And On She Reads – Review & Top 5 Reasons to Read Glimpsed

Giveaway:

One person will win a finished copy of Glimpsed. This giveaway starts on January 5th and ends on January 12th.

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Have you read Glimpsed? What did you think of it?

Review: Graceling (Graceling Realm #1)

Title: Graceling (Graceling Realm #1)
Author: Kristin Cashore
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Dial Books
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 1, 2008
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug. 

She never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po. 

She never expects to learn the truth behind her Grace—or the terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone. 

With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.

Review:

Katsa is a Graceling, a person with two different colored eyes who has a special ability. Katsa can kill any man with her bare hands. Since she has this special skill, she is sent on missions by the king, her uncle. On one of her missions, she meets Prince Po, another Graceling. This meeting changes her life and sends her on a journey to find the reason behind Po’s grandfather’s kidnapping.

I’m so glad I discovered this series. This was a whirlwind adventure with danger, suspense, and romance. Katsa was a strong character, physically and mentally. She knew exactly what she wanted, so she was surprised when she learned new things about herself, such as when she found herself falling in love.

This story had so many shocking scenes. The characters suffered a lot, but they grew stronger because of it. There were a few times when I thought the characters had painted themselves into a corner, and I couldn’t think of a way they could possibly get past their challenges. This made the story very exciting.

I’m so excited to read the next book in this series!

What to read next:

Fire by Kristin Cashore

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Other books in the series:

  • Fire
  • Bitterblue
  • Winterkeep

Have you read Graceling? What did you think of it?

Review: Punching the Air [audiobook]

Title: Punching the Air
Author: Ibi Zoboi, Yusef Salaam
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Poetry
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Audiobook
Release Date: September 1, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From award-winning, bestselling author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five comes a powerful YA novel in verse about a boy who is wrongfully incarcerated. Perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds, Walter Dean Myers, and Elizabeth Acevedo. 

The story that I thought

was my life

didn’t start on the day

I was born 

Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are white. 

The story that I think

will be my life 

starts today

Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it? 

With spellbinding lyricism, award-winning author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam tell a moving and deeply profound story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth, in a system designed to strip him of both.

Review:

At sixteen, Amal Shahid was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. He was an artistic student and a poet. The only way he can survive prison is to express himself through his art. Over and over again Amal is let down by the adults around him. He needs to figure out how to speak his truth and fight for justice.

This is a story written in verse. The poetry suited the emotional story. Amal had a lot of emotions that he expressed through his art. He was able to explore his anger in a constructive way by writing poetry and drawing. This story couldn’t have been told the same way if it was written in prose rather than verse.

I listened to the audiobook version of this story. The physical book has some illustrations that I missed out on in the audio version. However, I loved the narrator for the book. He sounded like a teenage boy, so it was like Amal was telling his story. He put a lot of emotion behind the words, which made the story come alive. I really want to check out the physical copy to see the art, but the audio was very good!

This is a great, powerful story!

Thank you Balzer + Bray for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Have you read Punching the Air? What did you think of it?