So We Meet Again (2021)

by Suzanne Park
ASIN/ISBN: 9780062990716
Publication: August 3, 2021

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

Repeatedly passed over for promotions despite her hard work and now finally terminated due to downsizing, Jessie/Jess Kim returns home to figure out her next steps. It doesn’t help that she bumps into boy wonder Daniel Choi, who she was always compared to while growing up. The only difference now is that he’s no longer the bowl cut wearing PK or pastor’s kid, but successful and very good-looking. Although long-time rivals in life and Daniel remains rather snobby, he ends up being a helpful presence as Jess and umma’s cooking show starts taking off.

The blurb of a book can often affect our expectations. In this case, I was expecting something a bit different from what I read. I was focused on the cooking show Jess eventually develops with her mom and also on her high school rival and frenemy Daniel because the description primed me to focus on these two aspects. When I didn’t get a lot of the cooking show as highlighted, I was disappointed. It takes about a quarter of the book for the cooking show to appear. When it does, there aren’t as many streams with umma and appa as I wish there had been, which would have helped support the fact that Jess’s success starts rolling in pretty quickly. She goes from live streaming to career-defining deals in what feels like a matter of pages.

I was also disappointed by the blurb’s spoilery information about Daniel, which I won’t mention because it’s a spoiler and also because I believe the description has since changed in some outlets but not in others. The setup sounded like it would be a pivotal part of the book, and it sort of is in some aspects, but it makes up only a small portion of the book. The emphasis should have been on Jess trying to find her place after losing a job that finally solidified her as being a success. Her outlook on her career became framed by the perspective of a company that didn’t know how to value someone like her–apparently, being hardworking and committed to the job is frowned upon. She spends much of the time figuring out how to start over. This would have better prepared me for the book. For those who have yet to read the book, the current description on retail sites leaves out this information, so I think you’ll have a slightly better experience than I did.

Although I had a different set of expectations for the book, there’s still a lot to like in So We Meet Again. Park’s signature humor is present. I loved the family dynamics, the emphasis on career aspirations, and the experiences highlighted because I can identify with many of them. A 50-lb or 100-lb bag of rice on sale is a big thing! I rush over when I know it’s on sale. Additionally, it’s a story that is easily relatable if you’ve ever been compared to other kids growing up. Unfortunately, similar to Sunny Song Will Never Be FamousSo We Meet Again is a good story that ends just as it’s only about to get better.

Six Crimson Cranes (2021)

by Elizabeth Lim
ASIN/ISBN:  9780593300930
Publication: June 6, 2021
Series: Six Crimson Cranes #1

**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.** (Loved it so much I had to purchase a copy though…just saying)

Six Crimson Cranes is a retelling of The Wild Swans that incorporates other legends such as Chang E the Moon Goddess and Madame White Snake. It reads as magical as a fairy tale with a princess, a kingdom in peril, and the deceptions of a stepmother. Lim’s descriptive prose, from the rendering of lush landscapes to the decadent food, immediately transported me to Kiata. I’ve always appreciated this nearly dreamlike quality that accompanies Lim’s novels that make them so enchanting.

After discovering her stepmother’s true identity, Shiori’s brothers are cursed and turned into cranes while she is forced to remain silent about their conditions lest she kills a brother with each word she speaks. Shiori begins as a headstrong troublemaker, used to being indulged by the family and getting her way. The curse forces her to be more thoughtful toward others while still retaining her headstrong tendencies. I appreciated that she didn’t completely transform into someone new because I liked her curious nature and willingness to stand her ground.

The sibling dynamics is another element I enjoyed. Despite their duties forcing them to spend most of their time apart, Shiori and her brothers all love one another dearly. There isn’t as much one-on-one time between her and each brother, but it’s easily discernible that her relationship with each is different, but she is cherished among all her brothers. (Being the youngest and the only girl can be so hard…hehehe.)The curse reinforces how much they love one another as they search for one another and work together to break the curse. 

The romance is both expected and unexpected. I couldn’t help but smile at the direction the book takes in terms of love interests. It’s gradual, beginning soft and subtly, seemingly not like much until a few key lines made me swoon. The book hints at a potential love triangle, and I’m hoping if that becomes the case in the next book, it is short-lived. I dislike love triangles a lot.

Lim includes a letter at the beginning noting the different tales she includes in the book. I grew up with similar tales and also watched some as wuxia movies. Familiarity with the stories does not take away from enjoying the book nor should being unfamiliar with the tales. Lim creatively weaves them effortlessly into each other, although there are a few times when just a bit too much was going on. It was fun identifying details from the various stories as well as trying to figure out how different parts would play out in the novel. Although more still needs to be done, the increase in diverse books creates positive opportunities like this one, allowing readers to not only see themselves in the books they read but also the stories they grew up with. Six Crimson Cranes is now my favorite of Lim’s novels.

Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous (2021)

by Suzanne Park
ASIN/ISBN: 9781728209424
Publication: June 1, 2021

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

Sunny Song spends an inordinate amount of time on social media and her phone. With nearly 100K followers, content creation is high on her list of things to do this summer. However, her plans go astray when a cooking video goes viral. Sunny must either attend a digital detox camp or face expulsion from school so she’s shipped off to a farm camp in Iowa. 

Suzanne Park proves once again why I immediately add her books onto my TBR as soon as they’re announced. She’s able to create relatable characters and provide insight into current problems related to the digital age all while making me laugh along the way.

Sunny Song is the average tech-savvy teenager and generally doesn’t seem to cause her parents much grief except she’s always on her phone, often leading her to tune out those around her. I think many of us can relate to paying too much attention to our phones that we unintentionally shut out those around us. She’s also a social media influencer with a relatively large following. Smart and driven, she’s determined to increase her online influence even though she’s prohibited from having electronics at camp. This leads me to one of my favorite relationships in the book, Sunny and Maya. Although we don’t get to see much of Sunny’s best friend Maya, I absolutely loved their relationship. Maya is such an amazing friend and helps manage Sunny’s accounts and content while she’s away at camp. Only a true friend would be willing to do that and go the extra mile to mail you care packages with your crush’s picture. The other relationship I enjoyed was with Sunny and Theo. It was cute how sweet on each other they were. It wasn’t instant love but a month-long attraction and I liked it. It played out somewhat realistically. She definitely received extra special attention from Theo.

As much as I liked Sunny, I was more invested in the problem addressed in the book. The focus on social media and reliance on digital devices is especially poignant as social media is now an integral part of our lives. Many kids grow up wanting to become the next social media star as opposed to more traditional occupations. Of course, this growing dependency on electronics and social media isn’t just particular to kids and teens. Adults also face similar struggles. Park never comes off preachy even though she uses the characters to question the extent to which our lives revolve around electronics and social media. It even made me question how often I’m on social media and this blog! Gah! While Sunny is initially resistant when she arrives at the detox camp, she eventually begins to recognize how social media has influenced her behavior, both positively and negatively. Rather than completely writing off social media, Sunny’s experience at the camp suggests that a balance must be sought with a focus on understanding or remembering who we are outside of our social media persona. The focus on our identity beyond the one we present on social media was especially thought-provoking.

While the book touches on a complex subject, the novel remains relatively light as Sunny struggles with trying to get online and mainly focuses on the romance. I adored the book. I enjoy Park’s storytelling and her humor is always welcomed. I can always expect to laugh when I have one of her books is in my hands. As much as I liked the book, the ending felt rushed. Things were just getting good and then it has already going to be over. I was looking at the 75% mark wondering if there would be enough time for the story to wrap up. Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous is a solid read, and I greatly enjoyed it; however, I could have used another 50 pages to flesh out the events that happen at the end.

Scavenge the Stars (2020) / Ravage the Dark (2021)

by Tara Sim
Series Review

**This is a series review that contains spoilers for Scavenge the Stars**

ScavengeTheStars_cover

Scavenge the Stars
ASN/ISBN: 9781368051415
Publication: January 7, 2020


Amaya is nearing her final day on a debtor ship when she saves a stranger from drowning. He gives her an opportunity to take vengeance on the man who destroyed her family but things get complicated when she starts to fall for the mark’s son, Cayo.

I’ve never read The Count of Monte Cristo so I likely missed the book’s references to the novel it is based on. Aside from this, having not read the foundational material doesn’t take away from enjoying the book. It might even be better since that means I’m less likely to compare it to what I hear is a phenomenal classic. Up until about the end of Scavenge the Stars, I felt this was what revenge novels should be like. Amaya’s chapters were my favorite, a lot darker and intriguing, while I was not nearly as invested in Cayo’s plight.


Ravage the DarkRavageTheDark_cover
ASN/ISBN: 9780753555334
Publication: March 9, 2021

Betrayed by someone she thought was more friend than foe, Amaya and her friends narrowly escape with the help of a friend. Cayo and his sister also accompany Amaya and her colleagues. While it’s difficult to tell whether Cayo and Amaya will be able to overcome Amaya’s betrayal, everyone will have to work together to save the state of Moray. 

Ravage the Dark focuses more on Cayo’s development as he searches for his place outside of his father’s household. There’s less of a focus on Amaya and she does a lot of brooding in this one–so much. Ravage the Dark is repetitive in many parts, following Cayo and then trying to figure out the source of the illness.


Characters: Amaya & Cayo

Amaya is trying to fulfill the revenge plot of her benefactor while also trying to understand why her mother gave her up to a debtor ship. Her time on the ship has stolen her childhood and hardened her to life, but has amplified her desire to protect the other children she served her time with–those too young to fight against the life their parents have given them to. There are two sides to Amaya: the hardened child slave seeking revenge on those who have wronged her and the girl who believes in love, yearning to break free of the chains of vengeance placed upon her. She is strong and full of conviction, ready to uncover what happened to her family.

While Amaya as this stronger, capable individual, Cayo is written less so. Aside from his father’s wealth and reputation, Cayo comes across as weaker in character. He is trying to overcome a gambling habit and hasn’t been able to live up to his father’s expectations. Except for loving his sister, initially his only redeeming quality, I wasn’t a big fan. Of course, he is trying to be a better person. Cayo is constantly trying to prove his worth throughout both books, but it’s not until Ravage the Dark that he slowly comes into his own. Overall, Cayo isn’t a particularly likeable character. In each other, Amaya and Cayo see qualities they desire in themselves. Additionally, in each other, they seek freedom from their obligations and even hope to find redemption.

Overall Assessment

This is a well-written duology, however, both books suffer from the same fate: a great build-up with somewhat lackluster endings. Sim does a great job of creating the world along with an intricate plot. I kept turning the pages, wanting to find out what would happen next. As I got closer to the end, however, I became increasingly frustrated. This happened with both books. I was able to forgive the ending of Scavenge the Stars, just a little, because most everything before the end was great. Also, I hoped it was building to something bigger in the next book. I was more frustrated with Ravage the Dark than I was with Scavenge the Stars. There was a character who had so much potential but was underutilized. Then, what could have been an epic ending happened outside the pages of the book! I was flabbergasted by this. Sim had me fully immersed in Amaya’s plot for revenge but the endings in both books reduced my overall enjoyment of the duology. I couldn’t return from that even though there was much to like, especially in the first book.

Something’s Wrong! A Bear, a Hare, and Some Underwear (2021)

by Jory John
Illustrated by Erin Kraan
ASN/ISBN: 9780374313883
Publication: March 23, 2021


**I was provided a copy of the book by the publisher. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own (and that of my nieces).**

BearandUndewear

At first, it’s not quite clear what exactly is going on. The cover and the title will surely make you raise your eyebrows. We have a bear and some underwear, so of course something is wrong. Even all the other animals are wondering why there is a bear with some underwear. The kids found it hilarious! A bear…with UNDERWEAR?! They knew exactly what was wrong! It’s not until the hare that everything becomes clear. It’s a cute book with lovely illustrations. The bear and his underwear that even has a place for his tail…heh. The ending of the book is not only funny but underlines the importance of friendship. Even adults will smile at the truth of it.

Sweethand (2021)

by N.G. Peltier
ASN/ISBN: B08GV497WC
Publication: March 30, 2021
Series: Island Bites #1

(Review at the End)

Goodreads
Amazon | Nook | Kobo | Apple Books


DESCRIPTION

After a public meltdown over her breakup from her cheating musician boyfriend, Cherisse swore off guys in the music industry, and dating in general for a while, preferring to focus on growing her pastry chef business.

When Cherisse’s younger sister reveals she’s getting married in a few months, Cherisse hopes that will distract her mother enough to quit harassing her about finding a guy, settling down and having kids. But her mother’s matchmaking keeps intensifying.

Cherisse tries to humour her mother, hoping if she feigns interest in the eligible bachelors she keeps tossing her way, she’ll be off the hook, but things don’t quite go as planned. Turns out for the first time in ages, she and Keiran King, the most annoying man ever, are on the island at the same time. Avoiding him is impossible, especially when Keiran’s close friend is the one marrying her sister, and he’s the best man to her maid of honour.

Keiran doesn’t know what to make of Cherisse now. They’ve always butted heads. To him she’s always been a stuck-up brat who seeks attention, even while he secretly harbored a crush on her. Now with Cherisse’s sister marrying one of his good friends he can’t escape her as the wedding activities keep throwing them together.

When things turn heated after a rainy night of bedroom fun, they both have to figure out if they can survive the countdown to wedding day, without this turning into a recipe for disaster.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

N.G. Peltier is an anime watching, book reading, video-game playing, story writing kinda girl.

A devourer of words and books from a young age, she enjoys writing romance and creeping people out with the Caribbean folklore stories she grew up hearing.

A Trinidadian born and raised, she currently lives in Trinidad with her mountain of ideas and characters battling each other for whose story get told next.

She is represented by Lauren Abramo of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC

Website | Goodreads


REVIEW

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

First, let’s admire the cover. I adore it so very much! I love the color scheme with the warm tones giving off such a cozy, homey feeling. It’s reminiscent of one of my other favorite covers, A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, which exudes similar feelings but with a bit cooler tone. Just in case it wasn’t enough that Cherisse is a baker and bakes so many delicious goodies, the cover also made me crave tangerines and sherbert. (Yes, food is always on my mind.)

Did what was on the inside live up to the beauty of the outside? Yes, for the most part it does. I enjoyed the novel and liked both lead characters.

Cherisse is confident and advocates for herself. She’s smart and knows her worth so when someone like Keiran tries to minimize who she is and what she does, she is more than willing to kill with kindness. Keiran is musically talented (for the most part) and petty too. He’s a genuinely nice guy, but just not to Cherisse. This is a classic case of two nice people (friends swear they’re both great individuals) who just can’t seem to be nice to each other. For some reason, they bring out the worst in one another, and, luckily for us, we get to read about their evolution from hate to love. Being forced to work together on the wedding festivities puts them in close proximity (squee!), and they slowly, although somewhat begrudgingly, overcome their misconceptions of each other. Overcoming one’s biases is a consistent theme in the book, and Cherisse and Keiran’s evolving relationship portrays it well.

I enjoyed the antics and the development of their relationship up until nearly the end. Everything was going well until the third act conflict hit. It didn’t seem like such an overwhelming obstacle but maybe to Cherisse’s character it is. I was hoping for something just a bit…more. The solution was cute, but it was also swift and led to an abrupt ending. Also, I never used to care about epilogues but, darn it, I think I’ve gotten so spoiled with the prevalence of epilogues in romance novels that I was extremely sad there wasn’t one in here. It would have helped with the book’s ending because I really really want to know what happens next in their relationship.

There were a few things I could see coming from pages away but it did not mean I enjoyed the book any less. It was nice to bask in the feelings those moments evoked because Cherisse and Keiran had great banter often followed by inner turmoil over what they were feeling toward one another. There were a few subplots I wanted more about. They served their purpose to push the romance along but then I kept wondering what happened next. Since this is just the first book in the series, maybe I can get some closure in the next book even if it’s a quick throwaway to say this is what happened with that thing that happened in the first book.

Overall, it was a good read. If you’re an enemies-to-lovers fan, this book will hit the right spots.

Sock on the Loose (2021)

by Conor McGlauflin
ASN/ISBN: 9781250304575
Publication: February 23, 2021


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

I have lots of nieces so I try encouraging them to read more by reviewing and purchasing children’s books and middle grade books. They tell me that when they come over, it feels like they’re in a library. Best compliment ever! I recently dropped of two middle grade reads for the two older nieces. Here’s a children’s book I got a chance to take a peek at and it’s definitely a fun read!

SockontheLoose02Sock on the Loose is an imaginative story of what happens when a sock goes missing. When you only find one sock, rest assured the other side isn’t really lost so much as on an adventure. It’s out discovering what it likes and finding new friends. The adventures are fun and the illustrations are made memorable with its vivid colors. My nieces adored it, especially the sock’s visit to the watermelon cave. The story promotes identity and pushes kids to step out of their comfort zone by trying to find out new things they might like. 

I was lucky enough to be a part of the promotional tour for the book’s release.  My sock Sprightly and I went on a walk because it’s really beautiful around here this time of the year.  Sprightly got a chance to hang out (heh) and admire the beautiful blossoms. Sprightly photobombed the one below.  That’s what happens when a sock is on the loose!

SockontheLoose03

Subversive (2020)

by Colleen Cowley
ASN: B08GYLTKNZ
Publication date: September 27, 2020
Series: Clandestine Magic Trilogy #1


Get it here: Amazon
For more details (like content warnings), click here.

**I was provided a copy of the book by the author. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own. (If you’re wondering, the book is superb!)**

Peter Blackwell returns to his former hometown Ellicott Mills to serve as the town’s resident wizard, an omnimancer to help with illnesses or other problems that may arise in the town.  Requiring an assistant, he manages to steal Beatrix Harper from her current place of employment (against her wishes).  Although initially adverse to the idea, Beatrix agrees to help him, not realizing that helping Peter will require her to break the law because he didn’t exactly return home to just be an omnimancer.

There’s something to be said about reading a book you hope is going to be good and have it meet your expectations, possibly even exceed them. Reading Subversive was one of the best experiences I had all year. It felt like all my favorite genres—fantasy, romance, regency (not a real genre I know…but it’s historical but yet not and I get regency vibes from it )–melded into one.  I had a difficult time trying to figure out that something to say, how I might capture how wonderful it is in a blog post—the answer is that I couldn’t but still tried.

Cowley’s magnetic storytelling and distinct magic system had me enamored with the book and its characters. The social system and the political system are reflective of the present United States but this somewhat dystopian U.S. lags in women’s rights—women don’t have any.  Okay, they have limited rights but it feels more like no rights at all. For instance, women have a curfew, and single women are not allowed to be alone with single men or else their reputations will be tarnished. The lack of women’s rights and the privilege that comes from having magical abilities serves as a compelling backdrop to the events that unfold. The book poses multiple questions, and among them is the question of what those in power will do to stay in power. 

I immediately liked Beatrix upon meeting her.  Family is everything to her, and she is determined that her sister has opportunities she never had, even though it can lead to resentment and go unappreciated at times. She isn’t infallible.  She can be stubborn and doesn’t have a problem speaking her mind or apologizing when she has erred.

Peter is a bit harder to figure out because it isn’t immediately clear what his motivations are. What is clear, though, is that he knows exactly what he is doing when he hires Beatrix, and it isn’t because he is just a nice wizard trying to help her out.  The relationship that blossoms from their work arrangement is a complicated one and kept me turning the pages.

I cannot emphasize how much I enjoyed it!  It felt like stepping into a Jane Austen novel in an alternate 21st century made extra complicated by the presence of magic. I wasn’t always able to predict what was going to happen next. I both loved and hated how it kept me on my toes just as I thought I had it figured out. I kept wanting to skip to the end so I wouldn’t be so anxious about what was going to happen next. I didn’t but I really wanted to. It’s perfect for fans of romantic fantasy with strong, capable women fighting for what they believe in.

Sound of Stars (2020)

by Alechia Dow
ISBN: 97813335911551
Publication: February 25, 2020

The Sound of Stars is set in the U.S., mainly New York, where aliens—Ilori—have taken over to…wait for it…use it as a vacation spot.  (I know.  Doesn’t that make you mad too?) They will use humans as sleeves, inserting their consciousness into human bodies to experience earth as “natives.”  Before this can happen, a vaccine must be created and administered to make human bodies vacant, devoid of freedom and thought but still functioning.  M0Rr1S—since humans cannot produce the sound of his name pronounce it as Morris instead—is a labmade, created in a lab in the image of humans and from the genetic material of a true Ilori mother (true meaning fully Ilori and not mixed with any other type of genetic material).  As a labmade, he holds the title of commander largely due to his father’s status but is no more than a servant doing the bidding of true Ilori.  One of his tasks is to create the vaccine, which he successfully makes. But, being labmade makes M0Rr1S unique: he feels; he enjoys music; and he enjoys reading—all things outlawed by Ilori.

The other half of our pairing is seventeen-year-old Janelle, or Ellie as her friends call her, who silently defies Ilori restrictions by loaning out books—yup, she’s a rebel librarian (best title ever). She is not the most sociable person, proclaiming books to be her friends, except for one individual, Alice.  Ellie may live with her parents but she may as well be living on her own. Her father is no longer her father but a walking, breathing “half-shell” of the man he used to be after being given monthly injections of a vaccine. Her mother has fallen to a different kind of drug, alcohol, and even asks Ellie to help hide alcohol. 

Ellie’s current life is often interspersed with memories of life before the invasion when things were (relatively) better.  Her father was a librarian, her mother was a professor, and she played the cello. Her parents were in love not sleeping in different bedrooms and barely speaking to one another. Before the invasion, racism often reared its ugly head (not that it isn’t still present after the invasion; it’s just there are now other things to possibly be more concerned about). They weren’t welcome in their new home and people looked at her, wondering how she got into a prestigious school (hence not better, just only relatively).

Their lives intersect when M0Rr1S stumbles upon her hidden library.  Rather than turn her in, he requests her assistance in acquiring more music, and in return, he promises that she and her family will be spared from the vaccine.  Despite the danger, Ellie agrees to the bargain to save the people she loves.  All seems to go according to plan until someone notifies the guards of what she is doing, and she is to be immediately executed. Rather than allow this to happen, M0Rr1S rescues her and sets into motion a road trip to California, bonding over music and books, and trying to board a fallen Ilori ship to save the world.

REFLECTING ON
JANELLE “ELLIE” BAKER

Ellie is a character I related to immediately. She loved books and music, finding solace in them. She treasures her books like I treasure mine, but she’s a lot nicer than I am because she lends them out. Lucky for me (or maybe not so lucky), my friends don’t really like to read. She has a quiet strength others may overlook because she is not very social and doesn’t vocalize her concerns. She appears to be the last person who would willingly break the rules. I could relate to that, I was that person for my friends–of course, I’ve never broken the law. (Innocent until proven guilty. You have no evidence on me. And even if you did, it’s all circumstantial. It might also depend on which law you’re referring to…)

Ellie, as one half of our heroic duo, is not a flawless individual and I liked that about her character–it made her seem like a real person. She has hyperthyroidism. She has anxiety. And, she didn’t just wake up one day and randomly decide she would be a rebel librarian; she didn’t wake up with superpowers. Events in her life compelled her to resist Ilori rule in her way. She lives in fear of the consequences of actions but also refuses to go down without fighting. She didn’t originally choose to be a hero. She starts off only wanting to save her family but eventually it becomes more than just her family but saving humanity. Janelle is the hero I hope I have inside of me.

MORE REFLECTING ON THE BOOK

While I could immediately connect with Janelle and could also sympathize with M0Rr1S, for some reason it took me a bit to warm up to them as the OTP. I rather liked them individually and as friends–despite M0Rr1S essentially blackmailing her to become his friend. Their love of art–music and books–is what connects them, allowing them to bond over the span of about a week and a half. They just meet all of two seconds (okay, I’m exaggerating a bit) and he already likes her, bordering on being in love with her. She is still cautious of him and being demisexual means that she doesn’t feel the same immediate attraction that he does. So, I understood their connection to one another, but the romance felt forced to me because it seemed more like friendship. It didn’t feel like what M0Rr1S was making it out to be, until maybe the last quarter of the book when the potential was finally there.

I like how Janelle calls out the trope as well—falling in love in just a few days and how impossible it seems—because I kept thinking it too.  But even as she calls it out loud and M0Rr1s tries to make her believe otherwise, and even if I’m a nonbeliever now, being a lot more cynical than I used to be, I recalled a time when I was in love and in those seven days I felt like I made a connection that most people only ever dream about. It was even less time than Ellie and M0Rr1s had together…so maybe it isn’t so impossible.  It was a long time ago but this book made me wistfully remember when love felt like it conquered everything, and it was worth the risk.  And for Janelle, who is cautious, and M0Rr1S, who never fails to express himself, love empowers them to risk their lives for a better future. Just to be clear, it’s not a romantic love that initially pushes them forward. For Janelle, it is first her family and humanity. For M0Rr1S, it is his mother and his people. Although at the beginning of the book, Janelle insists that “it’s about time everyone understands that there is no hope,” by the end she is doing what only the hopeful would do, shoot for the stars.

The Sound of Stars is a unique read and feels very much like Alechia Dow’s love letter about books and music. It is about the power that resides in the arts, its ability to connect us; the power it has to evoke feelings so strong that it can, and maybe even should, lead us to rebel against oppression of those we may only think are different from us.

There is a lot to like, including pop culture references and the regular person/alien becoming a hero. One of my favorite parts in the book is the incorporation of lyrics into the writing, in particular “Dreams” from The Cranberries. Neither of them was singing, it was just M0Rr1S feeling like his life was changing, you know, “in every possible way.” I found myself smiling and reading those words to the tune (and I’m also a fan of The Cranberries so obviously there is bias on my part). When an author is writing about music and books, I think it should be expected that lyrics are incorporated in the writing and not just as lyrics being sung/spoken. It’s like sharing this knowing glance with the reader, a look that says, “Yes, I just did that. And, I know you know what song this is from.” Also, I very much need music of the Starry Eyed in my life. I need to hear Allister Daniels put those lyrics to a tune.

While the middle of the book was just so-so (I mean, things happen and it’s not bad or anything), I enjoyed the beginning and the ending most of all. Overall, I found that I could connect to both characters because of their connection to music and books and how it brought them together. Music spoke to M0Rr1S and Ellie like it speaks to me, songs triggering memories and emotions but also moments triggering the perfect song. We all have a soundtrack to our lives and Dow captures that well through the characters and the epigraphs.

Most of all, I liked that the book left me feeling empowered.  

**This is a very surface-level review and doesn’t really do the book justice. There are so many themes that are rampant in this book that I could dissect but maybe I can do that another time. For now, it’s just about my connection to Ellie and the theme of music and books.