Title: Instructions for Dancing Author: Nicola Yoon Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance Publisher: Delacorte Press Source: Purchased Format: Hardcover Release Date: June 1, 2021 Rating: ★★★★★
Evie Thomas doesn’t believe in love anymore. Especially after the strangest thing occurs one otherwise ordinary afternoon: She witnesses a couple kiss and is overcome with a vision of how their romance began . . . and how it will end. After all, even the greatest love stories end with a broken heart, eventually.
As Evie tries to understand why this is happening, she finds herself at La Brea Dance studio, learning to waltz, fox-trot, and tango with a boy named X. X is everything that Evie is not: adventurous, passionate, daring. His philosophy is to say yes to everything–including entering a ballroom dance competition with a girl he’s only just met.
Falling for X is definitely not what Evie had in mind. If her visions of heartbreak have taught her anything, it’s that no one escapes love unscathed. But as she and X dance around and toward each other, Evie is forced to question all she thought she knew about life and love. In the end, is love worth the risk?
After her parents got divorced and she found out her dad cheated on her mom, Evie Thomas gave up on her belief in love. Then, one day she sees a couple kiss and has a vision of their entire relationship, including how it will end. She has these visions when she sees a couple in love kiss, even if they’re her best friends. Evie is led to a dance school by a book she finds called Instructions for Dancing. She’s partnered up with a boy called X, and they’re trained to compete in an LA ballroom dance competition. As they get closer and Evie starts to believe in love again, she has to decide if love is worth it in the end.
This story was a quick read. The chapters were short and the timeline of the story flew by. Even though it was fast, the story was complete. I fell in love with the characters right away, starting with Evie. She had a valid reason for not believing in love anymore, but I was rooting for her and X the whole time.
I found most of the story fun and light hearted. The parts where Evie and X were learning to dance and getting to know each other were so fun. I used to dance so I could relate to their lessons. I had read in a review that this story was heartbreaking, and I found it hard to believe that until the end. It was definitely heartbreaking but I also want more of their story.
Instructions for Dancing is another beautiful and heartbreaking Nicola Yoon story.
What to read next:
The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
From Little Tokyo, With Love by Sarah Kuhn
Have you read Instructions for Dancing? What did you think of it?
Title: Blood Like Magic (Blood Like Magic #1) Author: Liselle Sambury Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: June 15, 2021 Rating: ★★★★★
A rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family’s magic. The problem is, she’s never been in love—she’ll have to find the perfect guy before she can kill him.
After years of waiting for her Calling—a trial every witch must pass in order to come into their powers—the one thing Voya Thomas didn’t expect was to fail. When Voya’s ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to complete her Calling, she agrees—and then is horrified when her task is to kill her first love. And this time, failure means every Thomas witch will be stripped of their magic.
Voya is determined to save her family’s magic no matter the cost. The problem is, Voya has never been in love, so for her to succeed, she’ll first have to find the perfect guy—and fast. Fortunately, a genetic matchmaking program has just hit the market. Her plan is to join the program, fall in love, and complete her task before the deadline. What she doesn’t count on is being paired with the infuriating Luc—how can she fall in love with a guy who seemingly wants nothing to do with her?
With mounting pressure from her family, Voya is caught between her morality and her duty to her bloodline. If she wants to save their heritage and Luc, she’ll have to find something her ancestor wants more than blood. And in witchcraft, blood is everything.
Voya has been waiting for her Calling, a trial that gives a witch her powers. When it finally comes, Voya is given a seemingly impossible task: she must destroy her first love. If she fails her task, her family will lose their magic. Voya has never been in love. She signed up for a genetic matchmaking service, and she gets matched with Luc, an infuriating intern at the genetic company. Voya has a fast approaching deadline to complete her trial, so she has to fall in love as soon as possible to save her family. Voya doesn’t want to kill her first love, but she’ll have to make some tough decisions to save her family.
This was such a thrilling fantasy novel! The witches in this society had to use their blood to use their magic. There were lots of scenes where blood was used, especially in the first few pages. Genetics were also an important part of this story. It is set in a couple of decades in the future. People could purchased changes to their DNA to alter their appearances. They even used DNA to find compatible partners. This is a plausible future, but it caused some moral and ethical problems.
I loved that this story was set in Toronto. There were so many authentic references that I could relate to because I’ve always lived in Toronto. The Caribbean festival Caribana was an important event in the story. Caribana was the deadline for Voya to complete her task. In this story, it wasn’t just a celebration of Caribbean culture but also a celebration for Black witches in the city. I loved how this book combined real places and events in the city with the fantasy world of the novel.
I loved Blood Like Magic and I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book!
Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in an honest review.
What to read next:
Wings of Ebony by J. Elle
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Have you read Blood Like Magic? What did you think of it?
Title: Misfit in Love (Saints and Misfits #2) Author: S.K. Ali Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance Publisher: Salaam Reads Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook, Paperback arc Release Date: May 25, 2021 Rating: ★★★★★
In this fun and fresh sequel to Saints and Misfits, Janna hopes her brother’s wedding will be the perfect start to her own summer of love, but attractive new arrivals have her more confused than ever.
Janna Yusuf is so excited for the weekend: her brother Muhammad’s getting married, and she’s reuniting with her mom, whom she’s missed the whole summer.
And Nuah’s arriving for the weekend too.
Sweet, constant Nuah.
The last time she saw him, Janna wasn’t ready to reciprocate his feelings for her. But things are different now. She’s finished high school, ready for college…and ready for Nuah.
It’s time for Janna’s (carefully planned) summer of love to begin—starting right at the wedding.
But it wouldn’t be a wedding if everything went according to plan. Muhammad’s party choices aren’t in line with his fiancée’s taste at all, Janna’s dad is acting strange, and her mom is spending more time with an old friend (and maybe love interest?) than Janna.
And Nuah’s treating her differently.
Just when things couldn’t get more complicated, two newcomers—the dreamy Haytham and brooding Layth—have Janna more confused than ever about what her misfit heart really wants.
Janna’s summer of love is turning out to be super crowded and painfully unpredictable.
Janna Yusuf is busy preparing for her brother, Muhammad’s wedding to Sarah. She’s been staying at her father’s lake house, where they are holding the wedding, so she’s excited to be reunited with her mother for the wedding. Janna is also excited to be reunited with her childhood friend, and crush, Nuah, who she is finally willing to tell that she likes him. However, Nuah treats her differently when she arrives. To add to the wedding drama, Muhammad has made choices for the wedding that his fiancée doesn’t like, Janna’s dad is acting strangely, and her mom has a new male friend who she has brought to the wedding. Add in charming Haytham, Sarah’s cousin, and mysterious Layth, the nephew of her mom’s friend, and Janna has a drama filled wedding weekend!
I was so glad to return to the world of Saints and Misfits! I loved that book when I read it years ago. This story was more light hearted but still dealt with some important issues. Janna discovered that someone close to her was racist and prejudiced. It was disturbing to her to realize this, which others had noticed before. There were a couple of instances of prejudice against someone’s culture. Most of the characters were Muslim, but from different countries and cultures that some others found hard to accept. This wedding was the joining of two people, from different cultures, but that was all that mattered in the end.
Love was a major theme in this wedding story. Love is universal, and doesn’t discriminate against race, nationality, or culture. It was nice to read a story where love was the centre, after a senseless hate-motivated attack on a Muslim family in an Ontario city. I don’t understand how things like that can happen in this world. This story proves that despite our differences, deep down we are all the same. We can all join together in celebrating love, like the wedding of Muhammad and Sarah in this book.
Misfit in Love is the perfect sequel! I hope there will be another book in this series!
Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Title: Of Princes and Promises (St. Rosetta’s Academy #2) Author: Sandhya Menon Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy, Romance Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: June 8, 2021 Rating: ★★★★★
From the New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi comes the second installment in a brand-new series set an elite boarding school that’s a contemporary spin on fairy tales, this one a delightful, romantic twist on The Frog Prince.
Caterina LaValle is determined to show she’s still the queen of St. Rosetta’s Academy. Sure, her crown may be slightly askew after her ex-boyfriend, Alaric, cheated on her, but she’s a LaValle. She’ll find a way to march right back in there, her hands clutching the strings to the whole puppet show. This time, she’s going to be untouchable.
Rahul Chopra knows that moment he shared with Caterina LaValle at the winter formal meant something. Surely she feels it, too. He’s a little uncertain how someone like him (socially inept to a point way past “adorkable”) could fit into her world, but he’s loved Caterina for years. He knows they’ll find a way.
When Caterina finds out Alaric is taking a supermodel to the upcoming gala, she knows she cannot arrive without the perfect date. But the thought of taking another superficial St. R’s boy exhausts her. The solution? Sweet-but-clueless Rahul Chopra and a mysterious pot of hair gel with the power to alter the wearer into whatever his heart desires.
When Rahul tries it, he transforms instantly into RC—debonair, handsome, and charming. But transformation comes with a price: As Rahul enjoys his new social standing, the line between his two personas begins to blur. Will he give up everything, including Caterina, to remain RC? Or will this unlikely pair find their way back to each other?
Caterina LaValle is the queen of St. Rosetta’s Academy. Everyone wants to be her friend and will do anything to be close to her. When Rahul Chopra comforted Caterina at a winter dance following her breakup with her boyfriend, Rahul fell in love with her. Now, they’ve returned to school after their winter break, and Rahul is hoping his relationship with Caterina can begin. When Caterina finds out that her ex-boyfriend is bringing a supermodel to a gala, she has to find a date quickly. She decides to transform Rahul into the perfect date. With some magical hair gel, Rahul becomes the confident and charming RC, who dazzles everyone at the party. Rahul loves this new persona and thinks he has to keep it up to be with Caterina. When his two identities begin to merge into one, he has to decide who he really is to win Caterina’s heart.
I wasn’t very familiar with the story of the Princess and the Frog before reading this story. I knew that a Princess kissed a frog, turning him into a Prince, but I haven’t read or watched any adaptations of that tale so I didn’t know what to expect from this story. I love how this series has a touch of magic in these fairytale retellings. Most of it could take place in the real world, except for the magical hair gel that literally transforms Rahul into RC. That brings a fairytale element into a contemporary story.
I was surprised at the twist at the end of the story. I knew one character was acting a little strangely, but I didn’t know why. I couldn’t have predicted the twist, so it made the ending tense and exciting. There was a bit of a teaser for the next book in the epilogue. I hope there will be another St. Rosetta’s Academy book because I love this setting and the characters.
Of Princes and Promises is another fun Sandhya Menon book!
Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Title: Pantomime Author: Christopher Sebela Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel Publisher: Mad Cave Studios Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: July 20, 2021 Rating: ★★★★★
Haley and her brother, Max, are alone after their mother’s death and are sent to Wayfair Academy, a special needs boarding school. Eventually, they find family amongst other deaf children. One night the group decides to dip their toes into crime… the thrill is too much to leave behind. They soon find out that stealing from the wrong person, has its consequences. With no one to turn to but each other, they must make a choice, one where no one comes out the same.
After Haley and Max’s mother died, they were sent to Wayfair Academy, a boarding school for deaf students. One night, after Max’s devices are taken by a teacher, they decide to steal everything the teacher has taken from students. Since that crime was a success, they decide to do some more thefts with their friends. However, they soon rob the wrong man, and end up spending years paying back for those crimes.
I love boarding school stories. This was a special boarding school for deaf children. It was the perfect setting for these kids to plan their crimes, since they all lived together without parental supervision.
This is the first book I’ve read where all of the characters are deaf. It worked well in graphic novel format because the movement of their hands was illustrated. Their speech bubbles led away from their hands, instead of their mouths. The children were underestimated because of their deafness. They were able to use the perception that others had of them being weak to their advantage.
Pantomime is a great crime graphic novel!
Thank you Mad Cave Studios for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Crowded by Christopher Sebela
Stargazer by Anthony Cleveland
Have you read Pantomime? What did you think of it?
Title: Savage Beard of She Dwarf Author: Kyle Latino Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel, Fantasy Publisher: Oni Press Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: June 16, 2020 Rating: ★★★★
A heartwarming graphic novel that tells the story of a lonely dwarf searching for her place in the world.
She Dwarf believes herself to be the last dwarf in existence. Hoping to find evidence to the contrary, She Dwarf sets out on a mission to find the lost dwarven city of Dammerung. But Dammerung isn’t on any map and will not be easily found. Strong forces stand in She Dwarf’s way. Begrudgingly forced to take on a partner to aid in her mission, She Dwarf is joined by war barbarian, Hack Battler. Together, the pair will face vengeful shorcs, sludge demons, mutant bear monsters, and more. When warned by an elf named Drift of the dangers of searching for the lost city, She Dwarf will come face to face with the consequences of her quest. Driven by memories of her mother, She Dwarf is more determined than ever to unearth the truth of the dwarves.
Savage Beard of She Dwarf is a fantasy webcomic seen in book form for the first time. From comic writer and artist Kyle Latino, this YA graphic novel packs all the epic adventure and delightful humor with a heartwarming story of a lonely dwarf searching for her place in the world.
She Dwarf believes she is the last dwarf in existence, but she wants to travel to the dwarf kingdom of Dammerung to see if there are any others still alive. She Dwarf is joined by a fighter, named Hack Battler, who she defeated in a beard battle. They are warned along the way to Dammerung of how dangerous this quest is, but She Dwarf is determined to make it to the dwarf homeland.
This graphic novel was so funny. It had some clever twists on the classic fantasy journey tale. She Dwarf is a female dwarf with a long beard. She is able to use the beard for fighting as well as style. She traveled with Hack, who was clueless most of the time. There were a few laugh out loud moments that I really enjoyed.
She Dwarf and Hack met different fantasy creatures along the way. There was an elf who helped them after proving their strength in a battle. There were goblins and a dragon. There was even a creature with real bears in place of arms. These fantastical characters made the story unpredictable and exciting.
Savage Beard of She Dwarf is a fun fantasy graphic novel.
Thank you Oni Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Girl Haven by Lilah Sturges
Dark One, Vol. 1 by Brandon Sanderson, Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly
Have you read Savage Beard of She Dwarf? What did you think of it?
Title: The Witch King Author: H.E. Edgmon Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT Publisher: Inkyard Press Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: June 1, 2021 Rating: ★★★★★
To save a fae kingdom, a trans witch must face his traumatic past and the royal fiancé he left behind. This debut YA fantasy will leave you spellbound.
Wyatt would give anything to forget where he came from—but a kingdom demands its king.
In Asalin, fae rule and witches like Wyatt Croft…don’t. Wyatt’s betrothal to his best friend, fae prince Emyr North, was supposed to change that. But when Wyatt lost control of his magic one devastating night, he fled to the human world.
Now a coldly distant Emyr has hunted him down. Despite transgender Wyatt’s newfound identity and troubling past, Emyr has no intention of dissolving their engagement. In fact, he claims they must marry now or risk losing the throne. Jaded, Wyatt strikes a deal with the enemy, hoping to escape Asalin forever. But as he gets to know Emyr, Wyatt realizes the boy he once loved may still exist. And as the witches face worsening conditions, he must decide once and for all what’s more important—his people or his freedom.
Wyatt is a witch who ran away from his home and his marriage contract with a fae prince. The prince, Emyr, finds Wyatt in Texas, where Wyatt has found his transgender identity. Emyr has to bring Wyatt back to their kingdom, Asalin, so they can get married and fulfill their blood contract. However, Wyatt has bad memories of Asalin and doesn’t want to return. He will do anything to get out of this marriage. Wyatt is forced to travel to Asalin with his human best friend Briar, where he discovers Emyr may still be the boy he used to love. Tensions run high between the witches and the fae, leading Wyatt and Emyr to make life changing decisions.
This is the YA fantasy book I’ve been waiting for! I loved that the main character was transgender. Wyatt’s gender identity was an aspect of his personality but not his entire character. There were many moments where Wyatt commented on when someone treating him respectfully or not. Some of the ignorant and mean characters misgendered him or used his deadname (former name). He felt respected and acknowledged by characters who used his correct pronouns, even to refer to moments in the past. These were informative scenes that taught me about being transgender.
In this fantasy world, witches are non- fae children born to fae parents. Since they are considered outsiders in their family, they are ostracized from society and are often abandoned as children. Wyatt compared being a witch in that world to being queer in the real world. Wyatt had experienced being a witch and being queer. This metaphor of the witches and fae compared to being queer was a refreshing take in a fantasy novel.
The Witch King is a fabulous, diverse fantasy! I highly recommend it!
Thank you Inkyard Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Infinity Son by Adam Silvera
Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve
About the author:
H.E. EDGMON H.E. Edgmon was born in the deep south but has had many homes, dropped out of school to do gay stuff, and is at least a little feral.
In both their writing and daily life, they aim to center the voices of Indigenous people, trans people, and survivors of trauma. It is always their goal to make fascists uncomfortable.
They have an eccentric little family of their own design, several very sensitive pets, and a lot of opinions. They can most often be found on Twitter @heedgmon.
Title: Cool for the Summer Author: Dahlia Adler Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, LGBT Publisher: Wednesday Books Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: May 11, 2021 Rating: ★★★★★
Lara’s had eyes for exactly one person throughout her three years of high school: Chase Harding. He’s tall, strong, sweet, a football star, and frankly, stupid hot. Oh, and he’s talking to her now. On purpose and everything. Maybe…flirting, even? No, wait, he’s definitely flirting, which is pretty much the sum of everything Lara’s wanted out of life.
Except she’s haunted by a memory. A memory of a confusing, romantic, strangely perfect summer spent with a girl named Jasmine. A memory that becomes a confusing, disorienting present when Jasmine herself walks through the front doors of the school to see Lara and Chase chatting it up in front of the lockers.
Lara has everything she ever wanted: a tight-knit group of friends, a job that borders on cool, and Chase, the boy of her literal dreams. But if she’s finally got the guy, why can’t she stop thinking about the girl?
Cool for the Summer is a story of self-discovery and new love. It’s about the things we want and the things we need. And it’s about the people who will let us be who we are.
Lara has had a crush on Chase Harding, the star quarterback at her school, for six years. When she starts her senior year, Chase finally notices her and starts flirting with her immediately. However, Lara isn’t the same girl she used to be. She spent the summer with her mom at her mom’s boss’s summer house where she met Jasmine, the daughter of her mom’s boss. Lara and Jasmine had a summer romance that Lara thought was in the past since Jasmine was going back to her home with her mom. Now that Jasmine has moved to Lara’s school, she is a constant reminder of their summer fling. Lara has to wonder if it was just a fling and she should enjoy the attention from Chase, or if she has deeper feelings for Jasmine.
This was such a fun story. It would be perfect for summer because there were many scenes from Lara and Jasmine’s summer spent at the beach. There were also lots of feelings in this book. Lara was experiencing so many emotions, with her surprise feelings for Jasmine and her dreams of dating Chase coming true. This was a heart pounding story about figuring out your teenage romantic feelings.
This story explored what it means to identify as bisexual. In other novels that I’ve read with bi characters, they have a hard time defining their feelings. Lara had always had a crush on Chase so she assumed she was straight. When those feelings were finally recognized by him, she thought she had to be with him since that was her dream. However, she started to question her sexuality after having a relationship with a girl. For some reason, it’s sometimes difficult for people to accept that people can like both girls and boys, including the person experiencing those feelings themself. It’s possible to identify as bisexual and be in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex or the same sex, without being identified as straight or gay. Lara had to come to terms with her feelings before she could become her true self.
Cool for the Summer is the perfect summer read!
Thank you Wednesday Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
Have you read Cool for the Summer? What did you think of it?
Title: Made in Korea Author: Sarah Suk Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance Publisher: Simon and Schuster Source: Publisher Format: Ebook, Paperback arc Release Date: May 18, 2021 Rating: ★★★★★
Frankly in Love meets Shark Tank in this feel-good romantic comedy about two entrepreneurial Korean American teens who butt heads—and maybe fall in love—while running competing Korean beauty businesses at their high school.
There’s nothing Valerie Kwon loves more than making a good sale. Together with her cousin Charlie, they run V&C K-BEAUTY, their school’s most successful student-run enterprise. With each sale, Valerie gets closer to taking her beloved and adventurous halmeoni to her dream city, Paris.
Enter the new kid in class, Wes Jung, who is determined to pursue music after graduation despite his parents’ major disapproval. When his classmates clamor to buy the K-pop branded beauty products his mom gave him to “make new friends,” he sees an opportunity—one that may be the key to help him pay for the music school tuition he knows his parents won’t cover…
What he doesn’t realize, though, is that he is now V&C K-BEAUTY’s biggest competitor.
Stakes are high as Valerie and Wes try to outsell each other, make the most money, and take the throne for the best business in school—all while trying to resist the undeniable spark that’s crackling between them. From hiring spies to all-or-nothing bets, the competition is much more than either of them bargained for.
But one thing is clear: only one Korean business can come out on top.
Valerie Kwon has a business with her cousin at school where they sell Korean beauty products. Valerie is saving her money to take her grandmother on a trip to Paris in the summer before she starts college. In their senior year, Wes Jung moves to town. His mother works for a company that manages a popular K-Pop band. When Wes’s mother gives him some K-Pop cosmetics to bring to school to give to his friends, he learns what a lucrative business it could be to sell them. Wes wants to save money to pursue music studies in college, which his parents don’t approve of. Wes becomes major competition for Valerie’s business. Their competition gets intense, leading them to make an all or nothing bet. What they don’t count on is falling for each other, but only one business can win in the end.
The idea of student run businesses in high schools has pros and cons. It’s a great way for young people to learn about how to run a business and manage money. There were a couple of other student businesses, other than Valerie’s and Wes’s, but those were the two cosmetic ones so they were direct competitors. There were a few opportunities throughout the years for the businesses to sell their products and earn awards.
There were also consequences to these kinds of businesses that were addressed in the story. The students were earning real money with these businesses. That made the stakes much higher since Valerie and Wes had big plans for their potential earnings. This also made them take chances with their businesses that had moral and legal consequences. Valerie and Wes had to deal with the consequences of breaking the rules with their businesses. This story accurately represented what could go wrong with a student run business.
Made in Korea is a great young adult novel!
Thank you Simon and Schuster for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
A Taste for Love by Jennifer Yen
From Little Tokyo, with Love by Sarah Kuhn
About the author:
Sarah Suk (pronounced like soup with a K) lives in Vancouver, Canada where she writes stories and admires mountains. When she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the water, taking film photos, or eating a bowl of bingsu. You can visit her on Twitter and Instagram @sarahaelisuk.
Sarah is represented by Linda Epstein at Emerald City Literary Agency.
Title: From Little Tokyo, with Love Author: Sarah Kuhn Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: May 11, 2021 Rating: ★★★★★
Celebrated author Sarah Kuhn reinvents the modern fairy tale in this intensely personal yet hilarious novel of a girl whose search for a storybook ending takes her to unexpected places in both her beloved LA neighborhood and her own guarded heart.
If Rika’s life seems like the beginning of a familiar fairy tale–being an orphan with two bossy cousins and working away in her aunts’ business–she would be the first to reject that foolish notion. After all, she loves her family (even if her cousins were named after Disney characters), and with her biracial background, amazing judo skills and red-hot temper, she doesn’t quite fit the princess mold.
All that changes the instant she locks eyes with Grace Kimura, America’s reigning rom-com sweetheart, during the Nikkei Week Festival. From there, Rika embarks on a madcap adventure of hope and happiness–searching for clues that Grace is her long-lost mother, exploring Little Tokyo’s hidden treasures with cute actor Hank Chen, and maybe…finally finding a sense of belonging.
But fairy tales are fiction and the real world isn’t so kind. Rika knows she’s setting herself up for disappointment, because happy endings don’t happen to girls like her. Should she walk away before she gets in even deeper, or let herself be swept away?
Seventeen-year-old Rika doesn’t believe in fairytales. Her two cousins, who she was raised with, are named after Disney Princesses: Belle and Aurora. Rika has never felt like she fit in anywhere. Her mother died in childbirth, and never knew her father, so she was raised by her aunts. Rika is half Japanese, so she has never fit in with their traditional Japanese community. She’s even too aggressive in her judo classes, with a reputation for biting a boy. Rika’s life changes when she catches the eye of Grace Kimura, the most popular rom-com actress, at a parade. That chance meeting makes Rika question the story behind what happened to her mother. Along with Hank Chen, a hot young actor, Rika goes on a hunt around LA to find her mother.
I loved the fairy tale aspects of this book. Rika’s family was obsessed with fairy tales. Her cousins were named after princesses, and they constantly watched romantic comedies. Since Rika didn’t feel like she belonged in her family or community, she didn’t think she deserved her happily ever after. Once she met her prince, Hank Chen, her life turned into the rom com she never expected.
A big theme of this story was fitting in. Rika didn’t feel like she fit in with her family, since she wasn’t a sibling, and she didn’t fit in with the Japanese community since she was only half Japanese. Rika felt like she was the only one to experience it, but then she learned that everyone feels left out at some point in their lives. Even the people who seem to get along with everyone wherever they go, don’t fit in everywhere. It’s easy to think that a problem is unique to yourself, but once you talk about it, you can learn what you have in common with everyone else.
From Little Tokyo, With Love was such a fun rom com!
Thank you Penguin Teen for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
A Taste for Love by Jennifer Yen
The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo
Have you read From Little Tokyo, with Love? What did you think of it?