Review: Our Wayward Fate

Title: Our Wayward Fate
Author: Gloria Chao
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 15, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Ali Chu knows that as the only Asian person at her school in middle-of-nowhere Indiana, she must be bland as white toast to survive. This means swapping her congee lunch for PB&Js, ignoring the clueless racism from her classmates and teachers, and keeping her mouth shut when people wrongly call her Allie instead of her actual name, pronounced Āh-lěe, after the mountain in Taiwan.

Her autopilot existence is disrupted when she finds out that Chase Yu, the new kid in school, is also Taiwanese. Despite some initial resistance due to the “they belong together” whispers, Ali and Chase soon spark a chemistry rooted in competitive martial arts, joking in two languages, and, most importantly, pushing back against the discrimination they face.

But when Ali’s mom finds out about the relationship, she forces Ali to end it. As Ali covertly digs into the why behind her mother’s disapproval, she uncovers secrets about her family and Chase that force her to question everything she thought she knew about life, love, and her unknowable future.

Snippets of a love story from nineteenth-century China (a retelling of the Chinese folktale The Butterfly Lovers) are interspersed with Ali’s narrative and intertwined with her fate.

Review:

This is an amazing second novel from Gloria Chao!

Ali had to deal with a ton of racism, living in a predominantly “white” town. I couldn’t believe the way that her peers and teachers would talk to her, including commenting on how good she must be at math and putting on a Chinese accent in front of her. She was born in America so she was just as much of an American as them. These racist people also assumed that she must date the new Asian boy in the school. It was heartbreaking to read the way people spoke to her.

I learned a lot about Chinese culture in this book. There was a Chinese folktale that was threaded throughout the story and united with the main plot in the end. It had to do with Ali’s mother’s secrets, which was another amazing and suspenseful subplot!

I liked that the Mandarin words weren’t translated directly into English. It brings the reader into Ali’s position of being on the outside of the culture she lives in. I could figure out what most of the words meant from the context, but I liked that it kept Ali’s culture prevalent in the story.

I loved this book!

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

What to read next:

American Panda by Gloria Chao

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo

Have you read Our Wayward Fate? What did you think of it?

Review: The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)

Title: The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 14, 2008
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don’t live to see the morning?

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before – and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Collins delivers equal parts suspense and philosophy, adventure and romance, in this searing novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present.

Review:

I’ve finally read this book, eleven years after it was published! I wanted to catch up on the series so I can read the upcoming book next year.

This is one of the few books that I’ve read the book AFTER watching the movie. I usually read the book first, so I get so much more out of the movie. I wish I had read this book first. Since this book is told in first person perspective from Katniss’s point of view, there are lots of her thoughts that can’t be portrayed in a movie. I understood a lot more of what happened in the movie after reading the book.

I’m curious to see what happens in the next book! I don’t remember what happened in the second movie, so it will be a bit of a surprise.

What to read next:

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins

Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1) by Tahereh Mafi

Have you read The Hunger Games? What did you think of it?

Review: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me

Title: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me
Author: Mariko Tamaki, Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel
Publisher: First Second Books
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Rating: ★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Laura Dean, the most popular girl in high school, was Frederica Riley’s dream girl: charming, confident, and SO cute. There’s just one problem: Laura Dean is maybe not the greatest girlfriend.

Reeling from her latest break up, Freddy’s best friend, Doodle, introduces her to the Seek-Her, a mysterious medium, who leaves Freddy some cryptic parting words: break up with her. But Laura Dean keeps coming back, and as their relationship spirals further out of her control, Freddy has to wonder if it’s really Laura Dean that’s the problem. Maybe it’s Freddy, who is rapidly losing her friends, including Doodle, who needs her now more than ever. Fortunately for Freddy, there are new friends, and the insight of advice columnists like Anna Vice to help her through being a teenager in love.

Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell bring to life a sweet and spirited tale of young love that asks us to consider what happens when we ditch the toxic relationships we crave to embrace the healthy ones we need.

Review:

This book was a break up story, rather than a love story. Laura Dean kept breaking up with Frederica, but Fred still loved her. Every time Laura decided she wanted to be with Fred, Fred would accept her. However, when Fred spent all her time thinking about Laura, she was neglecting her friends when they needed her most.

There were some tough issues that were in this book. Fred was in an unhealthy relationship, but it was difficult for her to get out of it. It was obvious from the beginning that Laura wasn’t a great person, but Fred loved her. I kept rooting for Fred to figure it out and move on. There was also another character who had an abortion. This could be a trigger warning for some readers.

I loved the art in this book. The images were in black, white, and some light pink. It was a simple design to go with this heavy story.

This was a great story!

What to read next:

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki, Mariko Tamaki

Kiss Number 8 by Colleen A.F. Venable, Ellen T. Crenshaw

Have you read Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me? What did you think of it?

Review: Cupid’s Match (Cupid’s Match #1)

Title: Cupid’s Match (Cupid’s Match #1)
Author: Lauren Palphreyman
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Wattpad Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Rating: ★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

He’s mythologically hot, a little bit wicked, and almost 100% immortal. And he’ll hit you right in the heart . . . 

“Miss Black, we have a big problem.”

Lila Black doesn’t believe in matchmaking, let alone soul mates. So then why is she constantly being hassled by the Cupids Matchmaking Service? But this gilded, cherub-bedecked dating agency isn’t exactly what it seems . . . and it’s about to turn Lila’s entire world upside down. 

It turns out that Cupids Matchmaking is the real deal. As in, it’s run by actual cupids—who don’t look at all like they do in the paintings—and they have a serious problem with Lila’s “match.” Because this guy shouldn’t be in the system. He shouldn’t have a match. And while he’s irresistibly hot, he’s also incredibly dangerous. Because Lila’s true love match is Cupid. The original bad boy of love. And he wants her. 

Now Lila’s once-normal teenaged world has exploded into a mythological nightmare overrun by crime-lord sirens, wrathful cupid hit men, magic arrows that cause no end of trouble, and a mischievous, not-so-angelic love god she can’t seem to stop herself from falling for . . . 

Adored by 50 million readers on Wattpad, Lauren Palphreyman’s smash-hit book is now in print for the first time. 

Review:

This story was a cute combination of mythology and a contemporary romance.

The world building of the Cupid matchmaking service became very developed by the end of the story. The beginning was more contemporary, as the characters were introduced. There were some other mythological figures who made an appearance by the end, which I loved.

There were a lot of cheesy references in the first half of the book. The names of places in the town Forever Falls included the Love Shack and Romeo’s. There was a street named after Juliet, to go along with Romeo. I also found it a little confusing that all of the Cupids had names that started with “C.” It made it easier to tell who was a Cupid, but I kept getting the names mixed up.

Despite the sickly sweet references, this was a fun story!

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

What to read next:

Valentine’s Day (Cupid’s Match #2) by Lauren Palphreyman

Have you read Cupid’s Match? What did you think of it?

Review: SLAY

Title: SLAY
Author: Brittney Morris
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 24, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy. But at home, she joins hundreds of thousands of Black gamers who duel worldwide as Nubian personas in the secret multiplayer online role-playing card game, SLAY. No one knows Kiera is the game developer, not her friends, her family, not even her boyfriend, Malcolm, who believes video games are partially responsible for the “downfall of the Black man.”

But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, news of the game reaches mainstream media, and SLAY is labeled a racist, exclusionist, violent hub for thugs and criminals. Even worse, an anonymous troll infiltrates the game, threatening to sue Kiera for “anti-white discrimination.”

Driven to save the only world in which she can be herself, Kiera must preserve her secret identity and harness what it means to be unapologetically Black in a world intimidated by Blackness. But can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?

Review:

I love video games so I was super excited to read this book! I kept my gaming side a secret when I was younger, because my friends didn’t like playing games. I could relate to Kiera, since she had to keep that part of her life a secret too. However, she had the even bigger secret that she actually created the popular game that she plays!

Race was a huge issue in this book. Kiera created the game as a place for black gamers to celebrate themselves in a game. The cards in the game were named after references to black culture or famous black figures in history. The game became controversial when a boy was killed for playing the game. Then, Kiera had to face the possibility of real life consequences for creating this game.

One thing that the critics of this game in the book often said was that the game excluded people of other races because you had to be black to be invited. It wasn’t created as an exclusionary game, but instead as a safe place for gamers to play a game where they wouldn’t be attacked due to their appearance. Kiera walked a fine line when her game was analyzed by the news, but it’s important for everyone to have a safe space to do what they love.

I loved this book so much!

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

What to read next:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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

Review: The Grey Sisters

Title: The Grey Sisters
Author: Jo Treggiari
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 24, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Two years after a deadly plane crash, best friends D and Spider head into the mountains to face their grief. A gripping psychological thriller for fans of The Cheerleaders and Sadie.

D and Spider have always been close friends, and they are further united in their shared heartbreak: they both lost siblings in a horrific plane crash two years earlier. A chance sighting of a beloved cuddly toy in a photograph of the only survivor spurs D to finally seek closure. She and Spider and their friend, Min, set off on a road trip to the mountainside site of that terrible crash.

Ariel has lived on the mountain all her life. She and her extended family are looked down upon by neighboring townsfolk and she has learned to live by her wits, trusting few people outside of her isolated, survivalist community. A terrifying attack sends her down the mountain for help; on her way, she comes upon the three girls — a chance encounter that will have far-reaching consequences for them all. 

Review:

This book was a gripping thriller!

The story is told from multiple perspectives. D, Min, and Spider all have third person narratives. Ariel is the only girl who tells her story from a first person perspective, and she is the only one from the isolated community. The parts about the community seemed like they could have taken place a hundred years ago because of the isolated way that they lived. Since that was the only narrative that was told in first person, it made it easier to relate to her character.

The two different types of narratives seemed like separate stories for a lot of the book. D, Min, and Spider were going to see the crash site of a plane crash that killed D’s and Spider’s siblings. Ariel happened to live near the crash site. When both narratives came together, I was so shocked. They were connected in a way I never could have predicted. It was an amazing ending!

I loved this book! It’s a great, unpredictable book!

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

What to read next:

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Have you read The Grey Sisters? What did you think of it?

Review: Hotel Dare

Title: Hotel Dare
Author: Terry Blas, Claudia Aguirre
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Publisher: KaBOOM!
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

It’s not your typical family vacation when Olive, and her adopted siblings Darwin and Charlotte find themselves falling into other worlds as they explore Grandma Lupé’s strange hotel.

OPEN THE DOOR. ADVENTURE AWAITS. 

Olive and her adopted siblings Charlotte and Darwin are spending the summer with their estranged grandma at her creepy hotel and it’s all work and no play. They’re stuck inside doing boring chores but they soon stumble upon an incredible secret… Behind each room door of the hotel lies a portal to a different strange and mysterious place. The simple turn of a knob transports them to a distant magical world filled with space pirates. Behind the next door are bearded wizards. Down the hall is a doorway to a cotton-candied kingdom. But once the doors are opened, worlds start colliding, and only one family can save them before they tear themselves apart. 

Written by Terry Blas (The Amazing World of Gumball) and illustrated by the talented Claudia Aguirre (Kim & Kim), this world-hopping fantasy tale breaks down the door to imagination and dares you to embrace the idea that family is everything. 

Review:

This was a great graphic novel!

Within a few minutes of starting this book, I was hooked! The mysterious elements were introduced slowly, as the kids discovered secret portals to other worlds in the hotel. The story developed at a fast pace, which made me want to keep reading.

The one thing that I would have liked is more background on the characters. I think there is an interesting story that has brought Charlotte, their adoptive sister, into their family that I’m curious to learn. The ending of the story hinted at a sequel that’s about the rest of the family, so I hope it is written!

I loved this story!

Thank you BOOM! Studios for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Dead Weight: Murder at Camp Bloom by Terry Blas, Molly Muldoon, Matthew Seely

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

Have you read Hotel Dare? What did you think of it?