Book Review: A Cuban Girls Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey

Publication Year: 2020
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 320
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 3 stars

Blurb (From GoodReads):

For Lila Reyes, a summer in England was never part of the plan. The plan was 1) take over her abuela’s role as head baker at their panadería, 2) move in with her best friend after graduation, and 3) live happily ever after with her boyfriend. But then the Trifecta happened, and everything—including Lila herself—fell apart.

Worried about Lila’s mental health, her parents make a new plan for her: Spend three months with family friends in Winchester, England, to relax and reset. But with the lack of sun, a grumpy inn cook, and a small town lacking Miami flavor (both in food and otherwise), what would be a dream trip for some feels more like a nightmare to Lila…until she meets Orion Maxwell.

A teashop clerk with troubles of his own, Orion is determined to help Lila out of her funk, and appoints himself as her personal tour guide. From Winchester’s drama-filled music scene to the sweeping English countryside, it isn’t long before Lila is not only charmed by Orion, but England itself. Soon a new future is beginning to form in Lila’s mind—one that would mean leaving everything she ever planned behind.

I really thought I was going to love this book. I had heard such good things about it, it is a Reese Witherspoon YA Book Club pick (which I usually love), and it sounded like a fun travel novel! While there were some aspects I loved, unfortunately this book did fall a tad flat for me.

To start off with what I liked, I really liked the Cuban culture in this book! I haven’t really read many books including Cuban heritage, so I learned a lot in that aspect, especially in terms of Cuban food. I loved the fact that Lila was a chef. This was what a big portion of the book was about. The author so vividly described the Cuban food Lila was making, to the point I felt like I could almost taste it. It honestly made me want to look up Cuban recipes so I could try them myself!

Along with that, I really liked the exploration of grief in this novel. Lila is dealing with the loss of her Abuela, who was her best friend. I felt like Lila’s reactions and feelings were very realistic, and I liked that the author included it in the story. Lila’s Abuela was the one who taught her how to cook, which was also a very cool element because it made the cooking even more heartfelt.

I also want to mention that I thought it was so cool that this is a novel that takes place in England that doesn’t take place in London! I have never read a book that takes place in Winchester before, and it really made me want to visit the English country side and smaller cities! It definitely was a different feel from the other English novels I have read before.

I wish I could leave a review with all positive comments, because I definitely understand why this story is loved by so many people. It is cute and fun but also has some more serious themes throughout. However, I just did not mesh with Lila as a narrator. I don’t know if it was just me, but it annoyed me to no end that she spent nearly half the book complaining she was in England. Goodness, what I wouldn’t do to be in England right now! I am not sure if it annoyed me so much because I haven’t been able to travel, but it just immediately turned me off from the character. Lila has a really strong connection with her home city, Miami, and I don’t have that connection with my city so maybe that is why I could not emphasize. But I had a hard time caring about Lila because I was just so annoyed.

Along with that, I just did not care about her relationship with Orion at all. I must say, this author had some beautiful romantic scenes interspersed throughout the book. While they were swoony, I felt like they could be about any couple and it wouldn’t have made a difference. I think part of the reason I didn’t care so much is because the stakes just didn’t feel very high. Of course, this doesn’t make any sense because Lila lives in the States and Orion lives in England, so there were potential problems. However, I guessed how the story would end about 60% of the way through so it didn’t really leave many surprises for me.

I do believe that I am starting to outgrow YA contemporary, so that may be where my not-so-great feelings about this book come from. I think this book definitely read as younger, so it just didn’t make me feel as much in my 20s.

Overall, I would recommend this book if you like:

  • Learning about new cultures
  • Travel novels
  • Books exploring grief
  • Books that give similar vibes as Anna and the French Kiss

What were your opinions on this book? Let’s chat in the comments below!

YA Book Recommendations by Asian Authors

This May, I am planning to read books by some amazing AAPI authors in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Therefore, I have compiled this list of books by AAPI authors that you can pick up as well in preparation!

And of course I must include the disclaimer: it is so important to read stories and elevate Asian voices all year long, especially as anti-Asian hate has becoming more prominent in American society. These are great books to read during any time of the year, not just during AAPI Heritage month!

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

After hearing this was a fantasy novel that was a mix of Phantom of the Opera and The Night Circus, I knew I had to read it. Although it had a bit of a slow start, by the end I was totally enchanted by this story. It also left off with such a cliffhanger, so now I have to read the second one! Janella Angeles is a Filipino-American author, and Filipino stories are so important, although we as Americans aren’t exposed to enough of them. I would highly recommend checking this book out!

Wicked Fox by Kat CHo

This book was pretty popular when it first came out, but I feel like the hype kind of died down a bit. Even so, I loved this book so much! This is an urban fantasy set in Seoul, and takes inspiration from Korean mythology. This book follows a Gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who feasts on the souls of humans, disguised as an 18 year old girl. The mythology in this book was so complex and just totally enveloped me as a reader. I can’t recommend this book enough!

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

This was a recent read for me, and one that I simply devoured. This fast paced novel is based on Persian mythology, and follows a princess who has been cursed with poison in her veins that kill everyone she touches. While this wasn’t my favorite novel of all time, I still loved the world in this story, and learned so much about Persian mythology. This also has a Sapphic love story interwoven in the fantasy with a bisexual main character, so this is great if you are looking for an LGBTQ+ inclusive fantasy standalone.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

I won’t lie- I was initially drawn to this book because of its gorgeous cover. But the story inside is even more gorgeous, following Lei, who has been chosen as 1of the 7 girls forced to become a concubine of the king. After weeks of training, Lei swears that she will not perform her duties, because against all odds, she has fallen in love with someone else. Together, she creates a team dedicated to overthrowing the demon king. This is a book set in a world based in Malaysia, which is a culture I have no exposure to. This book was a great beginning to what I hope will be a fantastic trilogy!

Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao

Switching gears a bit, this is a super cute contemporary that follows Chloe, daughter of Chinese immigrants who are trying to set her up with a horrible boy. Out of desperation, Chloe hires a boyfriend who is too good to be true. However, when she starts falling for her fake boyfriend, things become a bit complicated. I love the fake dating trope, so this was just a fun read! It also dives deep into Chinese-American culture, including holidays, food, and traditions.

I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee

I can’t believe this book hasn’t been more talked about, because it was so cute! This book follows Skye, a plus-sized teenager who loves to dance. When a TV show dedicated to finding the next K-Pop star holds auditions in Skye’s town, she jumps at the chance to try-out. This novel definitely dives into the beauty standards and homophobia in America, but specifically the K-Pop community. Skye was such a fun character to read about, and she doesn’t let anyone bring her down. I couldn’t help but root for her the whole time!

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

Last but not least, one of my favorite reads from 2020! This is a magical realism novel that follows Leigh, who is grieving the loss of her mother. Leigh is convinced her mother has turned into a bird, and is encouraging her to visit her Taiwanese family who she has never met. This was such a powerful story about love, loss, family, and culture. Not only that, but this was just so beautifully written. There are quite a few triggers though, so I would definitely be cautious if you have any.

I would love to hear your recommendations, or what you thought of these books. Let’s chat in the comments below!

Review: Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

I am me because I choose to be me. I am what I want. Some people say you have to find yourself. Not I. I believe we create ourselves to be what we want.

Tricia Levenseller, Daughter of the Pirate King

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Publication Year: 2017
Page Count: 311
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (From GoodReads):

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King. 

I’ll be honest, when I first picked up this book, I wasn’t too sure if I would like it. I had never seen The Pirates of the Caribbean, and just have never been drawn to pirate stories. However, this book changed all of that for me, and now I am craving pirate stories more than ever before!

This book follows Alosa, who is the daughter of the most powerful pirate of the ocean. In an attempt to collect a map that will lead her father to the most coveted treasure in the sea, Alosa is purposefully kidnapped by her enemies. Now, she must find the map on her captor’s ship, or else face her father’s wrath.

I think the highlight of this story was definitely Alosa! Literally, the first word that comes to mind when I think of her is ‘baddie,’ because that is EXACTLY what she is. She is so full of life and energy, and doesn’t let anyone stand in the way of her mission. She is determined, and just a free spirit. I was afraid that no man would be good enough for her, but then the author introduced us to Riden, who I instantly fell in love with. Alosa and Riden’s relationship was so much fun to read about! Watching them catch feelings while simultaneously teasing to kill one another was my weakness. I love enemies to lovers so much, and this was so well done. The shift from one to another was gradual, and didn’t feel forced.

If you like fast-paced plots, this book is for you! This was the definition of a page turner. I read this book in 2 days, because I could not put it down. The book always kept me on my toes, and there was never a dull moment. There was also a plot twist that I did not see coming (although in hind’s sight, it was really obvious but I just didn’t put it together).

So, should you read this book? I say YES, especially if you love:

  • Enemies to lovers
  • Fast-paced plots
  • Adventure novels

I definitely will be needing to pick up the sequel soon! 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Let me know what you thought about this book in the comments below!

April TBR: Books to Read in April!

If you have not been able to tell, I absolutely love doing monthly TBRs. It gives me a chance to talk about some books I am excited for, as well as sets guidelines for what I hope my reading month will look like (even if I hardly ever stick to them). So, here are a few books I am hoping to get to this month!

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

I am so excited that I am actually going to *hopefully* get around to re-reading The Infernal Devices this year! While I do feel guilty for re-reading books when I have so many unread books to read, what is the point of owning a book if you don’t want to dive back into it? I am really hoping this series holds up for me, and I like it as much as I did the first time I read it.

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

This is not the book I would normally go for, but I am really trying to expand my horizons and read more literary fiction. I have heard incredible things about this story and this author, so hopefully I enjoy this one when I pick it up!

(Also the author is Swedish, which is another plus!!)

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Believe it or not, this is going to be my first V.E. Schwab book I’ve ever read! Obviously, this author has become hugely popular since the publication of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, so I am so excited to experience her writing for the first time! I’ve heard this story is a bit on the slower side, so I am nervous I may not like this as much as some other people.

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

I am very hesitant to put this on my TBR, because I don’t think I’m going to like it. I DNF’d Spinning Silver a couple months ago, and started this book a few months ago and put it down. But, it sounds so fascinating so I really want to give this book one more good try before completely giving up on it (and the author).

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I have been saying I wanted to read this book for months, and so now is the time! I DNF’d Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, but I have heard nothing but raving reviews for this book, and want to give it a fair shot. I will probably buddy read this with a friend, so hopefully that will also give me motivation to actually pick this up and see what the hype is about.

Hot British Boyfriend by Kristy Boyce

Since most of the books on my TBR have been dark, high fantasies, I figured I should probably put a lighter contemporary on here to break things up a bit! This is a book that caught my eye right away, and I guess it takes place in England? Travel books have been my best friend during this pandemic, so hopefully this one is as fun as I hope it will be! (Also the author is a professor at my university? Yay!).

Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

I need to continue on with this series. It’s been 5 months since I’ve read book 2, so I need to continue before I forget everything that happened. I was a little bit disappointed with book 2, and I’ve heard that this is the worst book out of the quartet, but I really want to read A Sky Beyond the Storm, so….

What if It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

I’ve had this book for about 8 months now, and have heard really mixed things about it. I have not read from either of these authors before, so I honestly have no idea what to expect. But I think it takes place in New York City (again, travel novels are my best friend right now!), and one of the main characters is a theatre kid, so it sounds right up my alley!

Let me know if any of these books are on your TBR! Happy reading!

Book Review: Majesty by Katharine McGee

Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication Year: 2020
Page Count: 374
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 1 star

WARNING: There may be spoilers ahead for American Royals (Book 1).

Synopsis (From GoodReads):

Is America ready for its first queen?

Power is intoxicating. Like first love, it can leave you breathless. Princess Beatrice was born with it. Princess Samantha was born with less. Some, like Nina Gonzalez, are pulled into it. And a few will claw their way in. Ahem, we’re looking at you Daphne Deighton.

As America adjusts to the idea of a queen on the throne, Beatrice grapples with everything she lost when she gained the ultimate crown. Samantha is busy living up to her “party princess” persona…and maybe adding a party prince by her side. Nina is trying to avoid the palace–and Prince Jefferson–at all costs. And a dangerous secret threatens to undo all of Daphne’s carefully laid “marry Prince Jefferson” plans.

A new reign has begun…

In the wise words of Jake Tapper, ““That was a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck.”

Before you read ahead, there may be spoilers from book 1 in this review. If you have not read American Royals and plan to, I would not read ahead.

Um…. so what the heck was this? I gave American Royals 5/5 stars. I loved the drama, the gossip, the relationships the author built, the characters… it was so much fun and so entertaining. This sequel essentially took everything that Katherine McGee spent book 1 doing, and totally unraveling it. The reader spent the entire first book learning to love these characters, becoming invested in their relationships, and then essentially decided to start the story over.

Obviously, the first book followed 4 main characters: Beatrice, Samantha, Nina, and Daphne. They were each so defined from one another and had totally different personalities. In this book, the characters lost all of their uniqueness (except Daphne- but we’ll get there later) and became obsessed with the men in their lives. Beatrice is now queen after the death of her father. In book 1, she was struggling with choosing between her heart and her duty to her country, while in this book she was too busy pining over her sister’s ex-boyfriend. Nina had no personality traits- I could not tell you a single thing about her except for what I remember in book 1. Samantha was surprisingly my favorite character in this novel, as her relationship definitely seemed the most believable. She is the only character in this to have the slightest bit of character development.

Also, can we please talk about that ending? We spent the entire story reading about all these women and their love interests, and for what??

I feel like I cannot talk about the ending without inserting a spoiler, so if you have not read Majesty, I would stop here. Essentially, if you liked American Royals, I would not read Majesty because it ruined book 1 for me.

Anyways, onto the spoilers!!

There was not one single relationship that was believable in this book. The author really wanted us to believe that Nina would date her ex-boyfriend’s best friend, Beatrice would become engaged to her sister’s ex-boyfriend, and Jefferson would fall for Daphne? She really expected us to disregard every single relationship that happened in book 1 and forget it all ever happened? What happened to Connor? Samantha’s thing for Teddy was merely a fling? It made absolutely no sense.

Lastly, can we please talk about Daphne? When I said the other characters didn’t have development, I didn’t include Daphne because she is on a whole different level. Not only does she not develop, but she becomes even more infuriating in this book. She nearly killed her best friend, sends her off to Japan, sabotages Beatrice and Nina’s relationships, and manipulates Ethan, all with literally 0 consequences. In fact, she still gets what she wants: a relationship with Jefferson. Which, by the way, was the most unbelievable part of the whole story. Jefferson moved on from Nina extremely fast, and felt more like a prop in the story rather than a character.

Anyways, that concludes my rant for the day. Did you all think the same thing about this book or am I the only one? Leave a comment below and let’s chat!

Book Review: Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar

Her blood heated as something kindled at her core. If light had a voice, this would be it.

-Shveta Thakrar, Star Daughter

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Year: 2020
Page Count: 435
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (From GoodReads):

If the night sky holds many secrets, it holds Sheetal Mistry’s secret the closest. A secret that explains why her hair is the silver of starlight, or why some nights the stars call Sheetal by name.

Stars like her mother, who returned to her place in the constellation Pushya years ago. Since that day, Sheetal has been forced to hide.

But as her seventeenth birthday draws near, the pull from the sky is growing stronger. So strong that Sheetal loses control, and a flare of starfire burns her human father—an injury only a full star’s blood can heal.

Sheetal has no choice but to answer the starsong and ascend to the sky. But her celestial family has summoned her for a reason: to act as their human champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of heavens.

Desperate to save her father, Sheetal agrees. But nothing could have prepared Sheetal to face the stars’ dark history—or the forces that are working to shut the gate between the realms for good. 

I wanted so badly to like this because look at that cover! Alas, I don’t think it was meant to be.

This book follows our main character, Sheetal, who has grown up in the mortal world as half human and half star. As her 17th birthday approaches, Sheetal feels more drawn to the Heavens than ever, and finds herself visiting her mother in the sky after her father falls ill. In order to save him, she must win a competition in order to obtain star blood that will heal her mortal father.

Essentially, the entire plot that I just described takes place in the first 200 pages of the book. I definitely quite enjoyed part 1, which definitely was an urban fantasy. However, when the author started shifting to a style that felt more like high fantasy, I started to lose interest. After Sheetal ascends into the Heavens, the plot follows her training for the competition she must win. From there, the author strayed from the main plot line of saving Sheetal’s father, and rather focused on things like high school drama, bullies, and boy problems. This just made the plot feel extremely slow moving and honestly, boring.

I don’t usually have a problem with slow moving plots if I am able to connect with the characters, but I honestly couldn’t relate to Sheetal at all. Even though I finished this last night, I don’t think I could tell you anything about her (except that she is obsessed with her boyfriend). She also felt so much younger than 17. As for the side characters, there were a bunch of them. I think the author would have benefited from developing 2-3 side characters super well, rather than having 9-10 side characters we hardly know. For me personally, I prefer stories with few characters, so that might just be my personal preference, but I just felt like I didn’t know any of the characters.

To end with a positive note, I must say that I loved the Hindu mythology that the author threw into this story! I wish that she would have expanded on it a bit more because it was a bit overwhelming to try to understand everything since I am not familiar with the myths or magic in Hindu culture. I did also enjoy this authors writing and felt like she really had moments where her style shined. Particularly, I loved reading about The Night Market and the Heavens. She was so descriptive and created a vivid, magical atmosphere. I would have loved to see more moments like that and less moments focusing on the petty drama Sheetal encounters.

All in all, even though this book wasn’t for me, I think I would give this author a chance in the future because there were some aspects to the story I enjoyed. This was a debut novel, and I feel like this author has a bunch of potential to create some amazing stories that I would love!

Let me know your opinions of Star Daughter in the comments below!

Holiday Book Haul

Hello, friends!

Sadly, Christmas is over, but this means that I get to dive into some amazing books that have been gifted to me! Every year I come home with a bunch of new great books, and this year I have a bunch to talk about!


Fable by Adrienne Young

Okay, when I tell you this has the most beautiful cover, I seriously mean it! This book follows the daughter of the most powerful trader in all of the ocean. She is abandoned on a magical island by her father with little food or any means to survive, and must use the skills that her mother taught her many years ago before she drowned. Her only ally is another young trader named West, but she realizes she may not even be able to trust him. This book sounds great, and I haven’t really read many pirate/life at sea stories so I am very excited to dive into this one!

How The King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories by Holly Black

I was so excited when I opened this because I really loved The Cruel Prince series, even though Cardan was always a mystery to me. This novella gives the reader a sneak peak into his thoughts, so I am really excited to see if this clears things up a bit from the trilogy. I flipped through it and the illustrations are absolutely stunning as well! This is a short book so hopefully I should be able to get through it pretty quickly and develop a better understanding of Cardan’s mind!!

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

I finally got myself a copy of this book! First of all, it is even prettier and person, but also it is huge. So hopefully I don’t push it off because I would really like to get to it! As you probably know, this book follows Addie, who made a deal with The Devil to live forever. However, part of the deal is that no one will ever remember her, until one day a mysterious stranger does. I don’t know how V.E. Schwab is going to pull this off, but I have heard nothing but amazing things about it so I have full confidence that she will.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Hopefully I enjoy V.E. Schwab’s writing, because I was also gifted Vicious! I read the synopsis and it was kind of confusing, but essentially we are following a man named Victor, 10 years after he graduates college. In college, he did an experiment on how humans can obtain extraordinary powers, but it went horribly wrong and Victor ended up in prison. Now, he needs to find his old roommate to finish the experiment. This sounds like there is a lot going on, but sounds extremely intriguing. I have heard so many good things about this series and I really hope it lives up to the hype!

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

This is the first book in a new YA mystery series, and it sounds so intriguing! This book follows Avery, who is just a normal high school student. However, everything changes when Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves her his entire fortune. Avery has no idea who Tobias is or why he would leave her his fortune. To receive her inheritance, Avery must go to the Hawthorne house where she finds mazes, mysteries, and Tobias’s 4 grandsons who are pissed their grandfather didn’t leave them anything. This isn’t a book I would normally go for but this has great reviews and just sounds super interesting!

Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

After I listened to this audiobook a few months ago, I knew I needed a physical copy as well, so I added it to my Christmas list. This is a YA contemporary/thriller, following Enchanted. Enchanted wakes up one morning to find out that Korey Fields is dead, and all the signs point to her. However, Enchanted has no recollection of the night before or the murder, and must prove herself to be innocent. This book was so heart breaking to read but the story was so important, and I will never get over it. I am so happy I now have a physical copy to read and will definitely be doing a reread of it in 2021.


An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

So, I originally bought this book as a gift for my sister, but then I decided to keep it for myself because I have no self control! I absolutely loved this book when I read it last summer, and would love to do a reread soon. The characters, the world, the story… everything was just so well done! This book follows Laia and Elias. Although an unlikely pairing, they come together to try to defeat The Empire. This story is inspired by Ancient Rome and was just such an amazing tale.


My Contrary Mary by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton

Ahhhhh I am so excited that I received an ARC of this book! This was such an anticipated book for me, and I am so happy I get to read it early! This is a story about Mar, Queen of Scot’s life with a fantastical twist. It takes place in the same world as My Lady Jane, which is a book I absolutely adored. These authors are so good at creating fun, witty stories that are just so addicting. I loved learning about Mary, Queen of Scots in my history class so I think it will be so interesting how they transform her life into a magical story.

Those are all the books I have acquired over the holiday season! Let me know your favorite from the list!

Happy reading!

Book Review: My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

“Words were good. But sometimes they were simply inadequate.”

-Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows, My Plain Jane

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Year: 2018
Page Count: 447
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (From Goodreads):

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

Wow, where to begin with this one?

I want to start off by saying two things. 1: I loved My Lady Jane so much! I thought it was loads of fun and loved seeing how the authors took a classic historical figure and gave her a fun twist. 2: I do not have any previous exposure to Jane Eyre. I have never read the original novel, and I only watched glimpses of the 1950s film. If I had been more familiar with the story, this may be a totally different review!

Like My Lady Jane, this book had the fun and easy banter that was present in that book. The writing was a lot a fun, with quirky comments that wouldn’t usually be found in historical fiction novels. You can tell the writers had a blast writing this novel and creating a unique retelling. They also added a supernatural element to the story by including ghosts, which was a lot of fun but also a bit much at times.

This story follows two main characters, the famous Jane Eyre and Charlotte Brontë (yes, the author of the original novel). Of course, once Jane is old enough to leave school, she becomes a governess to Mr. Rochester, despite the fact that she is offered a position at the Secret Society that pays much more. Charlotte is furious at her friend for turning down such an opportunity, and sets out to convince her to change her mind (and to make her Jane’s assistant when she accepts the position).

I unfortunately didn’t really connect with either Charlotte or Jane. Their voices were very similar and so I had a hard time distinguishing the two from one another. Jane repeated turned down the well paying job at The Secret Society, but really didn’t have any sound reasoning behind it. Charlotte had the exact same quirky personality as Jane, but I honestly can’t tell you much about her plot line except for the love interest.

The authors also took the liberty to acknowledge how old Mr. Rochester is compared to Jane, which I feel like is a bit overdone. Going into this, the only thing I knew about Jane Eyre was that Mr. Rochester was old enough to be her father, but they still “fall in love.” I think they could have moved their focus onto other aspects of the story rather than spending so much time on the supposed love story between Jane and Mr. Rochester.

Along with that, I just really didn’t connect much with the plot of the story. For the first 40% of the book or so, I thought the story was going one way, but around the 60% it took a complete turn around. I understand the plot twist was supposed to be dramatic and shocking, but it just felt like the authors spent so much time trying to create a story line that eventually led… no where. Furthermore, when the plot twist happened, there was just so much going on that I had a hard time following. Everything the reader thought was true wasn’t, and it was a lot to process very quickly. I felt the same way with the ending; the last 10% or so just felt very rushed, and I’m not quite sure exactly what the characters were accomplishing.

All in all, I think this book was kind of miss with me, but it may have been my fault because I am not familiar with Jane Eyre and I was admittedly a bit distracted while reading it. This was still a lot of fun though, so I definitely plan on reading the rest of the books this trio comes out with (I just got approved for an arc of My Contrary Mary and I cannot wait!).

What were your thoughts on this book? I know it is beloved by so many so I am curious what others think. Leave a comment below!!

Review: Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publication Year: 2019
Page Count: 432
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 2 stars

Blurb (From Goodreads):

When a school presentation goes very wrong, Alaine Beauparlant finds herself suspended, shipped off to Haiti and writing the report of a lifetime…

You might ask the obvious question: What do I, a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything?

Actually, a lot.

Thanks to “the incident” (don’t ask), I’m spending the next two months doing what my school is calling a “spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. I’m toiling away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle at her new nonprofit. And my lean-in queen of a mother is even here to make sure I do things right. Or she might just be lying low to dodge the media sharks after a much more public incident of her own…and to hide a rather devastating secret.

All things considered, there are some pretty nice perks…like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with my mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. I’m even exploring my family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse.

You know, typical drama. But it’s nothing I can’t handle.

The initial reason I picked up this book is because it is the first YA novel I have read that takes place in Haiti! Reading about Haitian culture was so cool, because it is something I have never really been exposed to. The author also touches on colonialism, including missions trips and donations that often times do more harm than good. It definitely spun the country into a new light I had not seen before. I also learned a lot about how Haiti gained its independence, and just the history behind the country.

Despite all that, there were some things in the book that really just didn’t mesh with me. I think a part of it was definitely because I was listening to the audiobook. I didn’t know that this was a mixed media novel before picking it up. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t have a physical copy so the audiobook was the only way I was able to read it. This story is told through Alaine’s perspective, as well as interviews, emails, articles, and even recipes. Because of that, it was a bit hard for me to follow along without a physical copy.

As for Alaine herself, I couldn’t really connect with her. There was nothing about her that really stood out to be among other YA main characters. She wanted to be a journalist when she grew up, which was cool, but that is really the only concrete detail I can remember about her. I also found her romance subplot to be extremely forced. I felt like the author only added the love interest because it’s a YA novel, and it is a bit obligatory. I did like the family dynamics in this book, even though it was a lot to keep track of. The book also switches to Alaine’s mother’s perspective at times, which was also confusing to follow.

I think the biggest disconnect for me was the plot. I felt like there was too much and too little going on. Even though I just finished this book yesterday, I am struggling to come up with any way to explain what it was about. The author also added magical realism to the story, which just didn’t work for me. It was distracting from the main plot and I just didn’t care.

All in all, even though this book had it’s moments, I did struggle to finish it. If you do decide to pick it up, I don’t think the audiobook is the best way to go. It just felt a bit unorganized and hard to follow.

What did you think about this book? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Review: A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

“Failure doesn’t define you. It’s what you do after you fail that determines whether you are a leader or a waste of perfectly good air.”

Sabaa Tahir, A Torch Against the Night

Publisher: Razorbil
Publication Year: 2016
Page Count: 452
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4 stars


Listen. I am NOT okay.

As to be expected, this book takes off from the first page. It picks up right after we left off in book one. So much happens in this book, and I absolutely loved it! We get to see more of each of the main characters, and Sabaa Tahir’s writing just really shines.

Of course, the thing that stood out to me in book 1 is the characters. This book is no exception! If you liked Elias as much as I did in book 1, you are not going to be disappointed. We get to see Elias as he is turned into a villain roaming the Empire, yet is only trying to help save Laia’s brother. He is so selfless, and risks himself for Laia so many times. His POV was by far my favorite, because we get to see the internal battles he is fighting, trying to decide where his loyalties lie.

And of course, I love Laia as well. The character development of Laia from book 1 is immaculate. We see her go from an innocent, helpless slave to a fighting, badass warrior. Laia loves her brother so much and will stop at absolutely nothing until he is safe. We watch her discover more about herself as well, which ultimately help her become developed into an unforgettable female lead. Now if only her and Elias could get it together and admit their feelings!!!

I read AEITA a few months ago, and forget whether or not Helene had a POV in that one. She does in this book, and although I enjoyed it, I felt like it did distract a bit from Laia and Elias’s. I just found myself so much more invested in their plots than Helene’s. Of course, Helene is important and her internal conflict is fascinating, but I wish there would have just been… less of it, I guess? Regardless, I can’t complain because I know it will without a doubt come into play in the next two books.

This book was just an absolute masterpiece and it definitely deserves all the hype it has been getting. The only reason I am not able to give it a full 5 star rating is because I think the pacing was just a bit off. Even though there are definitely moments filled with action and angst, there is also a large portion of the book where the main characters are just traveling, and I found myself wishing something more would happen. I also was able to guess one of the major plot twists, which made me a bit sad. However, it didn’t really deter me from loving this book because the characters just make the story.

I am so excited to read A Reaper at The Gates hopefully soon!

What did you think of this book? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!