Review: The Heiress Gets A Duke by Harper St. George

Title: The Heiress Gets A Duke
Author: Harper St. George
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher
: Berkley
Publication Date
: Jan 26, 2020
GoodReads

Synopsis:

American heiress August Crenshaw has aspirations. But unlike her peers, it isn’t some stuffy British Lord she wants wrapped around her finger—it’s Crenshaw Iron Works, the family business. When it’s clear that August’s outrageously progressive ways render her unsuitible for a respectable match, her parents offer up her younger sister to the highest entitled bidder instead. This simply will not do. August refuses to leave her sister to the mercy of a loveless marriage.

Evan Sterling, the Duke of Rothschild, has no intention of walking away from the marriage. He’s recently inherited the title only to find his coffers empty, and with countless lives depending on him, he can’t walk away from the fortune a Crenshaw heiress would bring him. But after meeting her fiery sister, he realizes Violet isn’t the heiress he wants. He wants August, and he always gets what he wants.

But August won’t go peacefully to her fate. She decides to show Rothschild that she’s no typical London wallflower. Little does she realize that every stunt she pulls to make him call off the wedding only makes him like her even more.

Review:

I’m not a huge historical romance reader, but I absolutely adored how put together this book was – the characters, the story, and the writing had me absolutely hooked! This takes place in 1875 London, with August and her family visiting from New York. Already, there’s a huge difference in how the Crenshaw family conducts themselves versus those of London society. For one – August works for her family business. As a result, rumours state that she’s “mannish,” thus making her ineligible for a proper match (which August thinks is trash, I agree obviously).

That being said, I loved how little drama there was through this book (for the most part, but we’ll get into that later). I loved that despite August fulfulling the I’m-not-like-other-girls trope, she never shames the women around her for how they conduct their lives – she shows pity for those forced into marriage, and respects those who are able to make the system work for them without bringing shame. It was refreshing that there wasn’t any shame thrown around – it’s just August didn’t want that for herself and I loved how willing she was to fight for the freedom of her sister and herself to marry who they loved.

Can I also note that Evan is the KING of consent and it wasn’t obvious or overstated. His character growth through the book was fantastic – he always tried not to stomp on August’s ideals and characters, despite needing to marry her to save his estates and support his family and staff. I appreciated how much he cared about what she wanted, even if it was something as simple as a kiss.

Tension. There was so much delicious tension between August and Evan from the very beginning and their verbal sparring made me smile often through the book, and showed how very equal they were in wit and humour. There’s so much detail and depth in all characters, not just the MCs. Everyone had a chance to show off their personality which added to the whole story and world immensely.

My one gripe with the book is the end. As noted, this book has little drama, but the end has two fairly big misunderstandings/complications that cause a rift between the MCs that was resolved all too quickly. A whole book developing and growing these characters and the end reward was so rushed that it took away from the overall story as a result. It left the book feeling a little unresolved and didn’t leave me fully satisfied, even though it was the end I wanted, which is a real shame and took a star off from my overall rating.

As a whole, this book surprised me in its depth and in its characters. I’m extremely excited to read Violet’s companion novel in July when it releases!

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 4.5/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Pacing: 4/5
Overall: 4/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.99/5

eARC obtained via Berkley via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Buy Links:
Book Depository | Indigo | Amazon CA | Penguin CA

Book Tour: Rent A Boyfriend by Gloria Chao

Welcome to the Rent A Boyfriend Book Tour, hosted by Hear Our Voices!

Title: Rent A Boyfriend
Author: Gloria Chao
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: Nov 10, 2020
GoodReads

Synopsis:

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before meets The Farewell in this incisive romantic comedy about a college student who hires a fake boyfriend to appease her traditional Taiwanese parents, to disastrous results, from the acclaimed author of American Panda.

Chloe Wang is nervous to introduce her parents to her boyfriend, because the truth is, she hasn’t met him yet either. She hired him from Rent for Your ’Rents, a company specializing in providing fake boyfriends trained to impress even the most traditional Asian parents.

Drew Chan’s passion is art, but after his parents cut him off for dropping out of college to pursue his dreams, he became a Rent for Your ’Rents employee to keep a roof over his head. Luckily, learning protocols like “Type C parents prefer quiet, kind, zero-PDA gestures” comes naturally to him.

When Chloe rents Drew, the mission is simple: convince her parents fake Drew is worthy of their approval so they’ll stop pressuring her to accept a proposal from Hongbo, the wealthiest (and slimiest) young bachelor in their tight-knit Asian American community.

But when Chloe starts to fall for the real Drew—who, unlike his fake persona, is definitely not ’rent-worthy—her carefully curated life begins to unravel. Can she figure out what she wants before she loses everything?

Buy Links:
Indigo | Bookshop | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Amazon

If you liked that, read this!

On the theme of fake dating and familial expectations, here’s a list of 10 books I’d recommend to you if you’re looking for characters who’ve tried to fit cultural or social expectations and have been surprised and/or changed by the people around them and the people they meet along the way!

American Panda by Gloria Chao 
Gloria Chao’s debut novel about Mei, a first-gen immigrant, dealing with family expectations, the stress of cultural norms, and figuring out whether its her dreams or someone else’s she’s chasing. A great #ownvoices book starring a Taiwanese MC!

The Way to Game the Walk of Shame by Jenn P. Nguyen
This is a favourite of mine and you can read my full review here! With very similar vibes to Rent A Boyfriend, Taylor, the school nerd and “ice queen,” makes a deal with popular, playboy, Evan, to pretend to be in a relationship after waking up to a sea of gossip the day after a party. With focus on broken and found families, this book is full of cute and fun moments!

Frankly In Love by David Yoon
Another great fake-dating #ownvoice romance! Frank Li is caught between the cultural expectations of his Korean parents and his Southern California upbringing. To hide his Caucasian girlfriend, he enlists fellow Korean-American Joy Song to pretend to be his girlfriend. A fun book about expectations and teen love, this book is sure to keep a smile on your face!

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
What happens when you fall for someone you don’t know? When Lily writes her favourite lyrics on her chemistry table out of boredom, it surprises her when someone write a response! Full of high school drama, missed connections, and the joys of being part of a big family, P.S. I Like You is a cute YA romance that you’re sure to fall for!

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
If you need a laugh, Morgan Matson’s got you! The Unexpected Everything is a fun story about subverting social expectations, a teeny-tiny scandal (kind of), and lots of dogs! Andie learns the hard way that not everything in life can be planned, and sometimes you just have to go along for the ride.

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo
A whirlwind one-day romance between Lucky, a K-Pop star, and Jack, a paparazzo, who meet when Lucky goes out in search of a burger. Full of cute moments, heavier moments (addressing anxiety and body image), and scenic travel scenes through Hong Kong, this book is for lovers of K-Pop, travel, and insta-love (ish!)!

Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali
What happens with you pretend to be someone you’re not? What happens when you don’t? A beautiful book about living differently for others and figuring out how to be true to yourself and stand up for what you love and who you love in a world that keeps trying to tear you down.

I’ll Be The One by Lyla Lee
Staying true to yourself is hard enough, but Skye Shin is trying to do that while also competing to be the first plus-sized K-Pop star. Navigating a glittery world of fat-phobia, media scrutiny, and maybe love (???), Skye has her work cut out for her. A fantastic stand-alone and a great look at the unrealistic (and often dangerous) standards of the K-Pop industry.

Charming As A Verb by Ben Philippe
Henri is the dutiful first-gen Haitian son who seems to have it all figured out, but Henri burns with ambition outside of the expectations set for him. When he’s enlisted by Corinne Troy to help fix her image at school, they both find themselves wondering how much it’d cost them to be themselves.

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon
You’ve probably heard of this one before, but I’ll be another voice telling you to read it! Another one-day romance that is chalk full of self-discovery, taking chances, and falling in love, even when the future is uncertain.

Hope you found some books to add to your TBR and some new #ownvoice books to invest in! And remember, Rent A Boyfriend by Gloria Chao is out today!

Buy Links:
Indigo | Bookshop | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Amazon

About the Author:

Gloria Chao is the critically acclaimed author of American Panda, Our Wayward Fate, and the upcoming Rent a Boyfriend (Nov 10, 2020). When she’s not writing, you can find her with her husband on the curling ice or hiking the Indiana Dunes. After a brief detour as a dentist, she is now grateful to spend her days in fictional characters’ heads instead of real people’s mouths.

Author Links:
Newsletter | Website | GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Blog Tour: The Fallen Hero by Katie Zhao

Welcome to The Fallen Hero blog tour, hosted by Caffeine Book Tours!

Title: The Fallen Hero
Author: Katie Zhao
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Kids
Publication Date: October 13, 2020
GoodReads

Synopsis:

[Spoilers for The Dragon Warrior ahead]

Faryn Liu thought she was the Heaven Breaker, a warrior destined to wield the all-powerful spear Fenghuang, command dragons, and defeat demons. But a conniving goddess was manipulating her all along…and her beloved younger brother, Alex, has betrayed her and taken over as the Heaven Breaker instead. Alex never forgave the people who treated him and Faryn like outcasts, and now he wants to wipe out both the demons and most of humanity.

Determined to prevent a war and bring Alex back to her side, Faryn and her half-dragon friend Ren join the New Order, a group of warriors based out of Manhattan’s Chinatown. She learns that one weapon can stand against Fenghuang–the Ruyi Jingu Bang. Only problem? It belongs to an infamous trickster, the Monkey King.

Faryn sets off on a daring quest to convince the Monkey King to join forces with her, one that will take her to new places–including Diyu, otherwise known as the Underworld–where she’ll run into new dangers and more than one familiar face. Can she complete her mission and save the brother she loves, no matter the cost?

Review:

Have I mentioned I’m in love with this series? I honestly think this is one of my favourite middle grade series to date! Full of daring adventures and high-stake consequences, this book blew me away. Right from the start, we’re thrown into action – the author wastes no time putting our heroes into the path of danger and by the end of chapter one I was eager to binge the book in its entirety (admittedly, sleep won that round, but I did end up devouring this book!).

I don’t want to give too much away, but, as mentioned in the synopsis, Faryn isn’t the Chosen One anymore – her brother now holds that title. It was really interesting to see how she dealt with not only losing that title, but having it given to her brother who changes sides. I appreciated the author exploring how life works when what you think is destiny comes to a grinding halt.

Through this book, there’s the same witty humour, fantastical world building, and fascinating development and exploration of Chinese mythology. I liked how focused this one was on the mythology around the Monkey King. I also enjoyed the new characters and the fact that there’s acknowledgement that Faryn’s situation, and the situation of most diaspora people, isn’t unique and requires some grappling and some soul searching to fully understand how to be content in our own skin.

As a whole, I’m really enjoying this series and loving every bit of it! The end of the book is left open for a third book and I’m excited to see what the future holds for these beloved characters!

Plot: 4.5/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 5/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Pacing: 4.5/5
Overall: 5/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.23/5

eARC obtained via Caffeine Book Tours via Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review.

Buy Links:
Amazon | Indigo | Barnes & NobleBook Depository | IndieBound

About the Author:

Katie Zhao is a 2017 graduate of the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English and Political Science, and a 2018 Masters of Accounting at the same university. She is the author of Chinese #ownvoices middle grade fantasy THE DRAGON WARRIOR (Bloomsbury Kids, October 2019 & 2020), as well as a young adult author. She is a mentor for Author Mentor Match. She is currently open to freelance editorial services for young adult and middle grade manuscripts.

Author Links:
Website | GoodReads | Instagram | Twitter

Review: The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao

Title: The Dragon Warrior
Author: Katie Zhao
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Publication Date: Oct 15, 2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury
GoodReads

Synopsis:

As a member of the Jade Society, twelve-year-old Faryn Liu dreams of honoring her family and the gods by becoming a warrior. But the Society has shunned Faryn and her brother Alex ever since their father disappeared years ago, forcing them to train in secret.

Then, during an errand into San Francisco, Faryn stumbles into a battle with a demon–and helps defeat it. She just might be the fabled Heaven Breaker, a powerful warrior meant to work for the all-mighty deity, the Jade Emperor, by commanding an army of dragons to defeat the demons. That is, if she can prove her worth and find the island of the immortals before the Lunar New Year.

With Alex and other unlikely allies at her side, Faryn sets off on a daring quest across Chinatowns. But becoming the Heaven Breaker will require more sacrifices than she first realized . . . What will Faryn be willing to give up to claim her destiny?

Inspired by Chinese mythology, this richly woven contemporary middle-grade fantasy, full of humor, magic, and heart, will appeal to readers who love Roshani Chokshi and Sayantani DasGupta.

Review:

The Dragon Warrior is a beautiful and fun middle grade fantasy full of humour, mythology, and East Asian culture. I love that there are more East Asian fantasy books coming to the middle grade genre. This is exactly the kind of book I needed as a kid.

Faryn is a fierce warrior who is determined and breaks through all the limitations that society has set for her. She felt out of place in the Western world – one of those too Asian to be American, too American to be Asian – which I totally understand being that myself. Faryn has so much heart and I loved seeing her learn more about her history and her culture.

I also loved the world building in this one – they really brought to life the Chinese culture in San Fran with descriptions of delicious foods, Chinese celebrations, and mythology. Being Chinese myself, I learned stuff that I didn’t even know (I’m second gen, so there’s much that wasn’t passed down). The adventures and action-packed story gave me a Rick Riordan vibe, as well, making this even better (honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Katie Zhao one day ends up part of his publishing company).

The Dragon Warrior ensures that young Asian kids can find themselves in books too, and that we can be the hero. I’m excited to dive into the second book! I love the humour, all the characters, and the great lengths the author went to in order to introduce readers to Chinese culture and values.

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 4.5/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Pacing: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5
GoodReads: 4.05/5

eBook obtained via Caffeine Book Tours via Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review.

Book Tour + Review: Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Title: Where Dreams Descend
Author: Janella Angeles
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: August 25, 2020
Genre: YA Fantasy
GoodReads

Synopsis:

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.

Review:

If you’ve had an itch for magical performances, fantastical circuses, and a bit of mystery – you’ve come to the right place!

Where Dreams Descend is a slow burn masterpiece that brings to life a forgotten city, filling it with magic and intrigue. I fell in love with the magic of this world and the beauty of the performances – I hung onto every detail, every wonderful moment. I loved how well this world was built and the prose is probably the biggest reason this book gets my love! The mystery also lends itself to the plot. I appreciate that this book isn’t all just one big hullabaloo – the author gives events time to breathe, lets the dust settle, and then drops the other shoe when you least expect it. It’s both terrifying and fantastic. Because of this, I’ve honestly been unable to get this book out of my head for weeks!

On top of the beauty of the magical world, I love Kallia. I appreciate how she just storms through these crowds of people who are ready to tear her apart and performs so amazingly that they’re just struck with awe. She is a badass protagonist who refuses to take anyone’s crap, and yet we grow to know her weaknesses and understand her fears. Yes, she can be immature at times, and she doesn’t always ask the right questions, but I love her and the Conquering Circus crew for being amazing, powerful women who crash through the obstacles society puts in their way.

Where Dreams Descend is the first book in a duology. With all the mystery and secrets, it’s clear that much of this book is setting up for its sequel. And that’s fine. However, I wish there was a lot more communication between characters and more character development for Daron and Jack. There’s so much left unsaid that it becomes frustrating at points, especially with Jack. As much as I loved the tension that’s present with both of them and Kallia (for very different reasons), I feel like their characters could have been explored more, at least for the eyes of the reader. I predict, and pray, that the sequel will be more focused on Daron or Jack in order to round out the series, as this book was very much Kallia’s book, with Daron as the side act.

As a whole, Where Dreams Descend is a strong debut that builds up slowly, layering up drama, mystery, and magic for you to marvel at by the end. I’m desperate to get my hands on book two (even though book one isn’t even out yet, ahh!!), and I’m excited to unlock whatever secrets Jack and Glorian hold!

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
World Building: 5/5
Pacing: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Overall: 4/5
GoodReads: 3.85/5

eARC obtained via Wednesday Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Buy it Now!

About the Author:

Janella Angeles is a Filipino-American author who got her start in writing through consuming glorious amounts of fanfiction at a young age—which eventually led to penning a few of her own, and later on, creating original stories from her imagination. A lifelong lover of books, she’s lucky enough to be working in the business of publishing them on top of
writing them. She currently resides in Massachusetts, where she’s most likely to be found listening to musicals on repeat and daydreaming too much for her own good. Where Dreams Descend is her first book.

Author Links:
Instagram | Twitter

Early Praise:

“Where Dreams Descend is a glamorous dark gem of a tale, sparkling with romance, magic, and intrigue. Readers will be captivated by prima donna Kallia as the mystery is slowly unmasked. Bravissima!”
– Julie C. Dao, author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

“Vibrant imagery, jaw-dropping set pieces, sizzling romantic tension, and unstoppable heroine Kallia bring this ambitious debut novel to spectacular life. Fans of Caraval and The Night Circus will be delighted!”
– Claire Legrand, New York Times bestselling author of Furyborn

Review: Displacement by Kiku Hughes

Title: Displacement
Author: Kiku Hughes
Publisher: First Second Books/Fierce Reads
Release Date: August 18, 2020
Genre: YA Historical Fiction, Graphic Novel
GoodReads

Synopsis:

A teenager is pulled back in time to witness her grandmother’s experiences in World War II-era Japanese internment camps in Displacement, a historical graphic novel from Kiku Hughes.

Kiku is on vacation in San Francisco when suddenly she finds herself displaced to the 1940s Japanese-American internment camp that her late grandmother, Ernestina, was forcibly relocated to during World War II.

These displacements keep occurring until Kiku finds herself “stuck” back in time. Living alongside her young grandmother and other Japanese-American citizens in internment camps, Kiku gets the education she never received in history class. She witnesses the lives of Japanese-Americans who were denied their civil liberties and suffered greatly, but managed to cultivate community and commit acts of resistance in order to survive.

Kiku Hughes weaves a riveting, bittersweet tale that highlights the intergenerational impact and power of memory.

Review:

I don’t usually review graphic novels – I love them, but they’re often so short that I find it hard to get beyond general fangirling.

However, Displacement is a book that deserves a full review.

First of all, this is a mix of memoir and historical fiction. While Kiku puts herself and her family into the story, she doesn’t have all the facts of her family history, as she states in her author’s notes. After the bombing of Pearl Harbour, over 120,000 people in the US and about 12,000 people in Canada were put into internment camps where they were isolated, mistreated, and wrongfully murdered. This event led to people being scared that their culture, language, and history could and would be used against them on the streets, in the court of law, and in school/business. It is not a time that victims want to remember, but it is an event that has impacted how their story has been told and passed on.

East Asian culture is about endurance – people often take on the weight of the world while saying it’s light as a feather. As someone of Chinese descent, born and raised in Canada, my family rarely talks about our history. Our story is told in bullet points. Succinct, factual, and without emotion. It’s easier that way. And I think that’s how American and Canadian internment camps have been talked about. Not with human empathy, but as a fact of history that we can walk away from.

Displacement demands that we put empathy and humanity back into the narrative. Not only are we brought back in time to the internment camps to witness the treatment of Japanese people after Pearl Harbour, but we’re also asked to reflect and question the dogma of today’s politics. Those who have experienced oppression in the past should be fighting against travel restrictions for Muslims and the captivity of children from Mexico. Beyond what’s noted in the book, this call to action asks us to fight for the BLM movement that we’re deeply entrenched in now.

Displacement is a quick, impactful read that sheds light on a moment in history that’s often forgotten by the rest of the world, and even those connected to it. Definitely a must read for everyone, and in particular a fantastic selection for MG and YA readers!

Plot: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 4.5/5
Pacing: 5/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Overall: 5/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.41/5

eARC obtained via Turn the Page Tours via First Second Books/Fierce Reads in exchange for an honest review.

Buy Links:
Barnes & Noble | Indigo | Amazon

Blog Tour + Review: The Lost City by Amanda Hocking

Title: The Lost City [The Omte Origins #1]
Author: Amanda Hocking
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: July 7, 2020
Genre: Young Adult Fantasty
GoodReads

Synopsis:

The storm and the orphan

Twenty years ago, a woman sought safety from the spinning ice and darkness that descended upon a small village. She was given shelter for the night by the local innkeepers but in the morning, she disappeared—leaving behind an infant. Now nineteen, Ulla Tulin is ready to find who abandoned her as a baby or why.

The institution and the quest

Ulla knows the answers to her identity and heritage may be found at the Mimirin where scholars dedicate themselves to chronicling troll history. Granted an internship translating old documents, Ulla starts researching her own family lineage with help from her handsome and charming colleague Pan Soriano.

The runaway and the mystery

But then Ulla meets Eliana, a young girl who no memory of who she is but who possesses otherworldly abilities. When Eliana is pursued and captured by bounty hunters, Ulla and Pan find themselves wrapped up in a dangerous game where folklore and myth become very real and very deadly—but one that could lead Ulla to the answers she’s been looking for.

Review:

I read the original Trylle trilogy back in 2012 (I even reviewed it! Please ignore how amateur it was). I absolutely loved it – Hocking created a magical world embedded within, yet hidden from, our own. The characters were feisty and the narrative addictive.

The magic of her world is on full display in The Lost City. Ulla, a half-breed troll of unknown origins, begins the book in Northern Canada (Nunavut, if you’re curious). Already, we’re sucked into the story through Hocking’s lyrical, yet straight-forward narrative that quickly throws us into the world of trolls and myths. As I knew a lot of the history from my memory of the Trylle series, it wasn’t too hard for me to digest the different branches of trolls, with there even being a callback to the Trylle series in one of the first few chapters. However, there are a lot of info-dumps. There’s lots to absorb when it comes to the history of the trolls, and I think a big part of this method of world-building is driven by the fact that Ulla, our MC, is diving into troll history and studying her own origins. As a result, this information is necessary in order to understand their world as much as it is to understand the character. As such, I appreciated the short-chapter format the story is told in, as it definitely helped make the story more manageable and easy to process.

Ulla’s journey to self-discovery made this book very relevant to current events. In a time of protests against sexism, racism, among other major societal issues, The Lost City takes on some of these issues and makes them both fantastical and topical.

“It was more than a tad, honestly, and it was the kind of thing I’d heard used a hundred times to dismiss me. Because I was Omte, and everyone knows they’re the dumbest of the tribes. Because I’m a half-breed, and everyone knows that mixed blood makes them weak and stupid. Because I’m from Iskyla, and everyone knows that only the unsophisticated and naïve live there.
Because I’m female.
Because I’m asymmetrical and overweight.
Because I’m blond.
Because I’m an orphan.
Because.
Because.
Because.”

I felt that quote in my bones, and I was very surprised and pleased to see these topics being addressed. Throughout the book, we continuously get to see Ulla crash through the stereotypes attributed to her and I absolutely loved that.

Beyond Ulla, the development of the secondary characters was fantastic and  how each one had a chance to grow with the story and its events. Similar to the original Trylle trilogy, there were moments where I wanted just a little more depth with the characters and with the story, but this is only the first book so I guess there are plenty of chances to get everything I want in the upcoming sequels!

All in all, it was fantastic jumping back into this world and I had so much fun with this new cast of characters. I’m curious to see where this series leads!

Plot: 4/5
World Building: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Writing: 3.5/5
Pacing: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5
GoodReads: 3.8/5

eARC obtained via St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from advanced proof and may not match the final book.

Buy The Lost City:
Macmillan | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Indigo

About the Author:

AMANDA HOCKING is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.

Author Links:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Pinterest | GoodReads

Early Praise for The Lost City:

“Hocking’s fast, engaging fantasy will draw in new and seasoned fans of the genre… [She] keeps the surprises coming, [leaving] readers eager to know more”

School Library Journal (starred review)

Review: Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

Title: Boyfriend Material
Author: Alexis Hall
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: July 7, 2020
Genre: Adult LGBTQ+ Romance
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Wanted:
One (fake) boyfriend
Practically perfect in every way

Luc O’Donnell is tangentially–and reluctantly–famous. His rock star parents split when he was young, and the father he’s never met spent the next twenty years cruising in and out of rehab. Now that his dad’s making a comeback, Luc’s back in the public eye, and one compromising photo is enough to ruin everything.

To clean up his image, Luc has to find a nice, normal relationship…and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He’s a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and he’s never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: perfect boyfriend material. Unfortunately apart from being gay, single, and really, really in need of a date for a big event, Luc and Oliver have nothing in common. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends until the dust has settled. Then they can go their separate ways and pretend it never happened.

But the thing about fake-dating is that it can feel a lot like real-dating. And that’s when you get used to someone. Start falling for them. Don’t ever want to let them go.

Review:

Boyfriend Material is probably one of my favourite reads of 2020 so far. Luc’s inner voice is so tragically relatable – awkward, insecure, but also loving and hopeful – anyone who’s ever been hurt will instantly understand Luc’s vulnerability. Also, Luc is an absolutely lovable trainwreck in social situations, but they’re so LUC that you just end up wanting to give the poor guy a hug.

This book is simply life – there’s no HUGE drama that permeates the story – it’s all relational, and I appreciated that. There’s a big emphasis on support networks, friends, family, and love. Both Luc and Oliver have great friend groups, and the author found it important to give them all unique voices and ways of supporting the two lovebirds. Luc and Oliver themselves are also super supportive of one another – they don’t let each other get beaten down by assaholic relatives, or their own inner demons. All the little details of their relationship made them perfect for each other despite their differences and I loved every second of their love story!

I’d recommend it to those who loved If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane and Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. To set expectations, this is a fairly wholesome book – more fade-to-black than explicit – so don’t go into it expecting lots of sordid sex.

Boyfriend Material is chalk full of humour and ALL the feels. Despite its general lightheartedness, there’s a lot of psychology and emotion for the two MCs to work through. Full of heart and love, I definitely recommend this book to everyone!

Plot: 4.5/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 5/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Pacing: 5/5
Overall: 5/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.21/5

eARC obtained via Sourcebooks Casablanca via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Title: Such a Fun Age
Author: Kiley Reid
Publication Date: Jan 7, 2020
Genre: Adult Contemporary
GoodReads

Synopsis:
Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living showing other women how to do the same. A mother to two small girls, she started out as a blogger and has quickly built herself into a confidence-driven brand. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night. Seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, a security guard at their local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make it right.
But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.
With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” the complicated reality of being a grown up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.

Review:

Such a Fun Age maintains a perfect balance between fun, compelling, and uncomfortable as you jump into a novel with real and flawed characters.

This story takes place in today’s world of influencers, imposter syndrome, and the question of “how on earth do we deal with the subject of race!?” Alternating between Emira and Alix’s POV, you really get to see how mindset, motivation, and personality really influence someone’s actions and how it’s received by others.

It’s interesting to see not only Alix’s perspective of a situation, but how her actions and insecurities lead to her end of sorts. And I was also surprised how the author wrote Alix’s friend group and the dynamic of it. Such a Fun Age examines the subject of race, class, and privilege from so many different angles that it really paints a diverse picture of how social pressures and media can impact one’s actions and decision-making processes.

I was also pleasantly surprised by how aspects of Emira’s life were presented. Emira is introduced as someone with insecurities and a general lack of direction that I know many millennials face after university. While the rest of her friends seem to have their lives together, Emira remains unsure of what to do with her life. Her scenes with Briar always stole my heart and I loved those scenes the most from the book.

Speaking of Briar – it’s amazing how every secondary character had a moment to shine and you got to see a bit of how they came into their biases and some of their character flaws/quirks that affected how they walked through life. Such a Fun Age has such a fantastically developed cast of characters. And knowing their motivations almost made everything worse because I was able to understand why they were doing/saying what they were. It made me uncomfortable because I knew it was wrong, but also because the trajectory of their story made their actions make sense.

Such a Fun Age is such a relevant read for today’s world, and delivers the message that no matter who you are your biases and experiences will affect how you approach a situation and the actions you take. Is there a remedy for that? I don’t know. This book doesn’t really present a solution so much as it presents us with the problem brief. I’m sure Reid has a lot more up her sleeve in terms of this subject and more. This is such a phenomenonal and important debut book from her and I’m excited to see what she has for us next!

Plot: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 4.5/5
Writing: 5/5
Pacing: 4.5/5
Overall: 5/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.06/5

ARC obtained via Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review