THAO (2021)

by Thao Lam
ASN/ISBN: 9781771474320
Publication: April 21, 2021


**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

This has been a year of so many great children’s books being published. THAO is one I immediately liked. On the surface, Thao is a simple story about having a name that is continually mispronounced but names hold a lot of power. Our identities are often intertwined with our names and have the ability to negatively affect us when no one seems to get it right; thus, the desire to have a name that is more familiar and easier to pronounce–I am speaking from personal experience. Individuals with unfamiliar names (and potentially even those with unconventionally spelled names) will be able to relate to Thao Lam’s story and will applaud the ending, which encourages individuals to be proud of their name and who they are.

My name was an unusual one in the area I grew up as well as spelled phonetically different from how it is pronounced, so it was hard to get my name write. I always hated the beginning of the school year and when we had substitutes. I desperately wanted to be called Victoria because I was obsessed with a TV show with a heroine named Victoria. I can empathize with Thao’s experience, but it took me a lot longer to be proud of my name. I adored the book and Lam’s illustrations and collages.

The Bibliophile’s Night Out Tag

I saw this at White Rose Stories (whose blog is beautiful by the way) and thought, “I need a night out!”

RULES

  • Thank the person who tagged you and link back to their post
  • Link to the creator’s blog (booksnest.co.uk) in your post
  • Answer the questions below
  • Tag 5 bloggers to take part
  • ENJOY THE TAG!

PRE-DRiNKS
a prequel/novella you’ve read

The Assassin’s Blade is technically a set of novellas. The Throne of Glass series ranks as one my favorites, and it wouldn’t be complete without the novellas. If anything, it’s worth reading for Sam.

THE TAXI TO ToWN
a book about travel

McKenna is the main character and she heads to Ireland from Massachusetts after finding out some information about her past. I enjoyed the lush descriptions of the places she visits while trying to track down someone to tell her more about herself. Yes, I’d like to visit Ireland one day.

TRYING TO FiND A TABLE
a book you didn’t like to start with, but then ended up loving

I was skeptical when I first read The Ninth House. I would not have read it had I not been reading it for a book club. The beginning was a bit slow, so I had to try a few times before I finally got through the beginning and then I couldn’t stop. I ended up loving it! (The friend who invited me to the book club discussion DNF’d it though.)

FIRST ROUND OF DRiNKS
a first book in a series

Midori sours are my weakness…This is my go-to drink but maybe the first round should be something new, so here’s a book in a series that I’d like to read. The Ninth House convinced me I should give Shadow and Bone a try. I have it on my reading app and forgot about it until recently so I hope to start this soon. If it’s as good as the reviews and as the book club says, I will likely be going through the Grishaverse in its entirety. If you’ve read it, I would love your take on it! Or, if you reviewed it, drop a link so I can check it out.

THE DANCe FLOOR
a book that makes you want to jump up and down with excitement

This is the last book that made me jump up and down. I was so excited when it arrived but had to restrain myself from reading it–I would have jumped to the end had I not done so. I finished it not too long ago though. Is it as good as I hoped? Yes. I couldn’t help sighing after I completed it.

THE TOiLETS
a book you wouldn’t touch with a barge pole

I don’t have a specific book that fits into this category…how about a genre?. I am terrified of horror–you won’t catch me with a copy of The Shining or anything remotely close to it. **shivers**

THE FiRST TO BAIL
the last book you DNF’d

I’m technically still working on it but it’s taking me longer to finish it than most books. It’s interesting. The beginning started off really good but I’m having a hard time with how the heroine is written and her interaction with the hero. I’m hoping to be able to pick it back up after some time away…um, a lot of time away.

THE JOURNeY HOME
a book you can’t really remember the plot of anymore

This is an older book but I suddenly started thinking about it after reading Adrienne Young’s Fable and Namesake. I haven’t read this since I was a kid but I think I might want to reread this because I do not remember who the murderer is.

THE MORNiNG AFTER
a comfort read

Rereading books make the best comfort reads. I just recently finished reading Meet Cute again and it was as good as I remember it. I still think the leads are great together. I still love that ending.

This was a lot of fun! If you need a night out, then I tag YOU!!
Please get me a midori sour while you’re out. Heh…

Malice (2021)

by Heather Walter
ASN/ISBN: 9781984818652
Publication: April 13, 2021

**I received a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Malice is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Princess Aurora is still Princess Aurora but she is more than just a girl destined to be pricked by a needle. Aurora wants to be become Queen and has ambitious plans for her future reign. Until then, she is forced to keep searching for true love’s kiss to break the curse. The resident villain, on the other hand, isn’t so much a villain. Alyce is forced to work as a Grace. In Briar, Grace are blessed by fae with abilities such as wisdom or making people beautiful but she is different. Known as the Dark Grace, people fear Alyce yet they use her services for elixirs and hexes to put worts onto a face or ensure a competitor fails. All Alcye has ever wanted is to be accepted, but no one seems able to do that.

The book centers on Alyce’s development and her growth. Prominent in the story is her inability to trust, which is a double-edged sword. She wants to trust people, but she also second guesses the motives of everyone around her, even those she could trust. Of course, her suspicions are warranted because she’s always been forced to exist on the outskirts of society, which also contributes to low self-esteem and self-loathing.

While the story excels with characterization, the plot is on the slow side. Nothing much happens for pages except Alyce trying to figure out who she is and the fighting among the Grace. Every so often, I wondered when something might actually happen to push the story forward. Despite this, I was undeterred from finishing the book because I enjoyed Walter’s writing.

Walter takes the fairy tale and gives depth to the world and the characters inhabiting it. The story is rich in detail, especially in its world building. The bulk of information from the history of Briar to the magical system is largely concentrated at the beginning of the novel, feeling very much at times like an information dump, but it’s so fascinating that I didn’t mind. I’m looking forward to learning more about the lands and the inhabitants, both past and present, in the next book.

Overall, the book is maleficent magnificent. I found myself sympathizing with Alyce, although I was also often frustrated with her decisions. Fans of fairy tale retellings, especially those that enjoy origin stories, will enjoy reading Malice, but it may not be for those who like a faster paced novel. If readers can overcome the pacing, the ending will certainly be rewarding–it was so good.

The Sharey Godmother (2021)

by Samantha Berger
Illustrated by Mike Curato
ASN/ISBN: 9781250222305
Publication: April 13, 2021

**I received a copy of the book from the publisher. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own. **

Shari T. Fairy, the Sharey Godmother, is a godmother I can get completely behind! Shari loves to share, from her lunch to the cake she likes to bake and decorate. When her friends begin to question what she gets in return, she also begins to wonder what might happen if she stopped sharing. Shari realizes it’s not what she gets in return; sharing is just part of who she is. I love the message the book conveys. The illustrations are charming, with a mix of drawings and photos, add to how endearing the book is. (**GIVEAWAY**)

As my nieces like to say, “SHARiNG IS CARING.

Tacos_sharing

Sharing for the sake of sharing is what underlies The Sharey Godmother. I am always sharing food! I love food…and so does the rest of the family.  It doesn’t happen only during special occasions. The family shares food throughout the year, whenever it’s an “I made this dish that you have to try” or an “I made your favorite dish” kind of day. We usually pack it up and drop it off. (It’s just about an everyday type of thing.)

Laab_sharing

When we share tacos (my weakness are pickled purple onions added on top) or laab (the more herbs and the sourer it is, the merrier), it’s never about what we’re getting in return. We are always genuinely sharing our love for one another. Just as it is for Shari the Sharey Godmother, sharing is a part of who we are, and there is joy that comes with it.

GIVEAWAY

In sharing the “love,” you have the opportunity to win a finished print copy of The Sharey Godmother (US/Canda Only). You don’t have to sign-up or subscribe to anything unless you want more entries. You can enter the Rafflecopter below. If the widget isn’t showing up, you can also enter by clicking here. The giveaway ends 04/30/2021 at 12 AM PST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

My One Night (2021)

by Carrie Ann Ryan
ASIN/ISBN: 9781950443116
Publication: April 13, 2021
Series: On My Own #1

**Jump to Review**

Goodreads
Amazon: US | UK | CA | AU
B&N | Kobo | Apple Books | Google Play
Audio: Amazon
Print: Paperback | Hardback

A one-night stand is supposed to end once the sun rises. Only it doesn’t always work out that way.

I never expected this.
I didn’t want to go to another fraternity party, but when my friend pulls me in, I somehow find myself hiding in a corner with…him.
Dillon Connolly.
The smirking, so-called good guy with the shadows in his eyes.
A single glance, a sweet smile, and I let myself have one night of giving in.

I never expected her.
Elise Hoover haunts my dreams more than I care to admit. I never thought I stood a chance—until she said yes. 
When a single night turns to two, I know I’m in over my head, but somehow, she makes me believe I can have anything.
Until the sun rises, and my past along with it.
I know I don’t deserve her, but now I have to fight to keep her…or save her from myself.


On My Own Series
(click for Goodreads Links)

Prequel: Out now
#2: June 8
#3: Sept 7
#4: Dec 7

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carrie Ann RyanCarrie Ann Ryan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary, paranormal, and young adult romance. Her works include the Montgomery Ink, Redwood Pack, Fractured Connections, and Elements of Five series, which have sold over 3.0 million books worldwide. She started writing while in graduate school for her advanced degree in chemistry and hasn’t stopped since. Carrie Ann has written over seventy-five novels and novellas with more in the works. When she’s not losing herself in her emotional and action-packed worlds, she’s reading as much as she can while wrangling her clowder of cats who have more followers than she does.

Website |Newsletter | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


REVIEW

**I was provided a copy of the book by Give Me Books as part of the promotional campaign. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Like the first book I read by Ryan, I was excited to read it because the book description was interesting. There are positive aspects to the novel, but I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted. Unfortunately, I don’t think I click very well with Ryan’s writing style, which is more a preference on my part.

The aspect I enjoyed the most was the strength of familial bonds, at least for Dillon’s family. The love the brothers had for one another was apparent and they took care of each other–Dillon never had to go it alone even if he felt like he needed to. It was nice to see he had a strong support system. Elise’s parents, on the other hand, were overbearing. I didn’t care for them very much about them when I was introduced to them. Families can be complicated, and we see just how much as the story moves forward.

I wasn’t really invested in Dillon and Elise’s relationship. The foundation for their relationship is a trope I enjoy but it never quite formed into a solid relationship for me. While it may have started as a one night stand, it eventually led to something more, but I didn’t feel a connection between them. I was told there was a connection and Elise and Dillon both voiced it but I never felt like they actually loved each other. Conversations between Elise and Dillon and even those with their friends often felt formal, sometimes even a bit stilted, and I think this added to me not being able to connect with their relationship as much as I would have liked.

While I may not have connected with the leads, those looking for new adult reads about young love and the angst that comes with it may enjoy the novel.

**Thank you to the author for providing print copy**

Yang Warriors (2021)

by Kao Kalia Yang
Illustrated by Billy Thao
ASN/ISBN: 9781517907983
Publication: April 13, 2021


**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Led by Master Me, ten cousins train daily in the Ban Vinai refugee camp. They have to in order to protect their families, which includes a plan to search for fresh vegetables after a week without any. They embark on this dangerous mission, leaving behind the five-year-old author to await her sister Dawb and the rest of the warriors’ return.

While I was born in the U.S., my family arrived as refugees.  I grew up hearing stories about life in Laos and the refugee camps, a life so vastly different from my own. The perspective of the author at five years old offers a different view of the refugee experience and affords an opportunity for children today to try to understand and possibly to even relate to the children in the book. Yang crafts an engaging story from memories of her time in Ban Vinai, drawing from the heroism of her older sister Dawb and her cousins. It’s a story of brave children in an adverse environment doing their best to survive.

The illustrations were exceptional, helping connect me to my family and the past of my people. I may not have experienced life in Ban Vinai, but the illustrations helped to tie my childhood to the Yang Warriors–what child hasn’t “trained” to prepare for their battles ahead? It may have been under different circumstances with different training for different missions, but the intent being similar, protecting those we care about.

It’s a heroic story that needs to be shared. It’s the perfect story to create opportunities to help my nieces and nephews begin to understand their roots.

We Are the Fire (2021)

by Sam Taylor
ASN/ISBN: 9781250241429
Publication: February 16, 2021


**I was provided a copy of the book by the publisher through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Children are regularly kidnapped and forced to become soldiers in an emperor’s effort to maintain his borders against a neighboring country and to ensure obedience from his subjects. Furthermore, the child soldiers are forced to wield fire through a brutal, potentially crippling, process, that not all recruits survive. Pran barely survived, but only through Oksana’s help. While most soldiers have learned to only look out for themselves, Pran and Oksana are able to rely on each other, but differing desires place a strain on their relationship. Pran wants to rebel against their commanders while Oksana dreams of returning home. 

It was difficult to find a sense of balance when I first started reading the book. It felt as though I was thrust into the middle of something I didn’t fully grasp, so I had difficulty settling into the story. Presented with many names, including those of people and places, and titles (e.g. Tuliikobrets, Nightmare, Hellions, etc.) in a short amount of time made it difficult to keep track of everything that was going on. It was also difficult to get a sense of place. It wasn’t until later that I pieced things together, but I was a bit frustrated when I finally arrived at this point. Adding the somewhat slow pace to my list of frustrations further inhibited me from being fully immersed in the book. Eventually, the book picked up right before the halfway point, both in pace and story. In particular, the multiple moral dilemmas presented added to the complexity of Pran’s and Oksana’s decisions and helped me to appreciate the book more. The action in the last half also helped a lot as well.

I didn’t particularly like Pran very much. He had an inferiority complex and also kept insisting on protecting Oksana when she was just as capable as he was. Although I gravitated toward Oksana, I didn’t fully like her either. I did like that Pran and Oksana were in an established relationship, so they weren’t in the honeymoon period. I got to see their relationship play out under stressful conditions and this created an interesting dynamic. I liked Sepp/Kati, but she doesn’t appear until a fifth of the way through the book. While a secondary character, she was the only one who seemed to have any kind of sense and was not overly swayed by her emotions. 

Ultimately, We Are the Fire was a bit of a toss-up for me. I struggled to finish the book. I was frustrated in the beginning, and it was difficult to connect with the characters. On the other hand, the last part of the book was more action-packed, and I liked the themes presented.

Daring and the Duke (2020)

by Sarah MacLean
ASN/ISBN: 9780062691996
Publication: June 30, 2020
Series: The Bareknuckle Bastards #3

I haven’t read the other books in the series, but it’s not necessary to read the prior books to understand Grace and Ewan’s friends-to-lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romance. MacLean provides enough background to understand the events that lead up to Grace and Ewan meeting again. Grace is also known as Dahlia, but I’ll just refer to her by Grace here.

Grace created a kingdom with her brothers in Covent Garden, but she sits alone on her throne while her brothers have found love. While several men would willingly stand beside her, she’s never gotten over the boy who broke her heart. When he reappears, she attempts to get her revenge so she can finally move on and remove him from her life. Unfortunately for Grace, Ewan isn’t going to let her go so easily. 

This book was everything I needed and more to get me back to reading romance novels. I reverted to rereading old and new favorites because I was unsuccessful in finding something new that I liked. Then, I read a mini-review at A Fox’s Wanderings that mentioned lots of groveling, and I said, “Yup! I need it in my life.” (I stand with Alienor at A Fox’s Wanderings as a lover of books with groveling heroes.) I read the review on March 30th, started it on the 31st, and finished reading it on April 1st.  It was flipping fantastic! I smiled, I swooned, I had to set it down for a few minutes to breathe and settle my aching heart, and then I smiled some more, and I swooned some more.

I liked Grace. She was smart, kind, and a real badass. But even love will make fools of the most intelligent people. Despite multiple attempts by Grace to remove Ewan from her life, he continues to maintain a hold on her. He never pushes her more than she is willing to give. I appreciated his non-alpha character and the respect he had for her. Although Grace tries to stay away from Ewan, their connection is electric. When they’re together, there is always an undercurrent of passion sizzling beneath the glances they throw one another. The groveling was near perfection. It made the butterflies swarm, and my heart beat erratically.

The pull between Grace and Ewan and their constant longing for one another wouldn’t have been so fever-inducing had it not been for MacLean’s gift with the written word. MacLean skillfully seduced my emotions–I was in love, vengeful, hopeful, outraged…filled with regret. It was an aching wave of so many feelings in such a short amount of time. It was wonderful! (The evidence: here, here, and below)

However, as much as I enjoyed Daring and the DukeI kept expecting just a bit more. A bit more revenge. A bit more plot. A bit more than just the romance. There were multiple opportunities to expand on interesting points, but they don’t pan out to very much. The book mentions parliamentary votes, conspiratorial women, and even raids, but it doesn’t really go beyond this. The description promises revenge, but I didn’t get the revenge I was hoping for. The only real revenge from Grace is at the beginning, while the rest of the book is more about their struggle to control their feelings and define what they might still be to each other. Also, I just really wanted Ewan to experience more pain for all the heartache he caused. 

Fans of historical romance will enjoy Daring and the Duke, especially if a groveling lovelorn hero is sought after. There isn’t much outside of the romance, which doesn’t necessarily take anything away from it being an oh-so-satisfying read. If you’re looking for romance, this is certainly a book that will sweep you off your feet. 


One last quote from The Duke…
(Photo: Manohar Manu on Unsplash)