BOOK REVIEW (+ Giveaway): Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress #1) by Julie C. Dao

Title: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress #1)

Author/s: Julie C. Dao

Publication Date: October 10th 2017

Publisher: Philomel Books

Format: Paperback

Number of Pages: 363

Purchase at:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

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iBooks

Book Depository

synopsis

“An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest
to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.
Eighteen-year- old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she
is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her.
Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill
the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and
seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?
Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and
exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of
the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his  power is absolute.”

My Thoughts

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is a compelling story that revolved around love, beauty, destiny, and darkness.
Tell you what, I am not familiar with the origin of the Evil Queen, I don’t even have any idea what her story is. Anyway, that’s the reason why I decided to join a blog tour for A Forest of Thousand Lanterns hosted by a co-Filipina, besides the fact that the novel has such a promising blurb.
The pacing. I honestly find it slow at the beginning up until the middle part, it was rather uneventful, but it went good enough afterwards.
For the world-building, hands down, Julie! Very well done. I loved the fables, the lore and legends, myths that were involved, stories that were told. Everything. The setting made me feel like I am familiar with its culture and tradition. Julie made it easy for her reader to be pulled in the world she created.
The novel also gave a voice to women and girls. Julie made it certain that the reader will have it figured out that women can make choices of their own, fight for themselves, be strong enough and lift herself up. Empress Lihua, Guma, Lady Sun, especially Xifeng, are strong in many different ways. As for Xifeng, I’m kind of in a love/hate relationship with her character. I disliked her arrogance and vanity, but I liked her determination and bravery. She struggled with the inner turmoil between her good and evil side, and I pity her for that. Her internal conflicts were written very well. I admire her for being courageous enough to do everything just to reach the top. And though knowing that this is a retelling of the Evil Queen, I somehow hoped for a different ending. I wanted something changed. But despite the fact that the antiheroine had been selfish, I want more stories like this. Girls who know what they want and won’t stop at anything to get it, women who put themselves first.
The plot. Obviously, this was a character-driven novel, and everything became exciting when Xifeng happened to take an action to pursue her said destiny. I’ll admit the heart-eating parts kind of creeped me out, but I find it brutally satisfying and it reminded me of Regina from Once Upon a Time series. (Though she collects the blood, not eat them.) Twists and turns were present, but I did predict some, and some almost literally blew my mind.
Overall, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, I must say, is the kind of debut novel & retelling, that one wouldn’t want to miss. 4/5 stars for this beauty!
I liked Julie C. Dao’s writing style and I hope to read more of her novel.

Rating

4stars
author

Julie C. DaoJulie C. Dao (www.juliedao.com) is a proud Vietnamese-American who was born in upstate
New York. She studied medicine in college, but came to realize blood and needles were her
Kryptonite. By day, she worked in science news and research; by night, she wrote books
about heroines unafraid to fight for their dreams, which inspired her to follow her passion of
becoming a published author. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is her debut novel. Julie lives
in New England. Follow her on Twitter @jules_writes.


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BOOK REVIEW: Little Fires Everywhere  by Celeste Ng

Title: Little Fires Everywhere

Author/s: Celeste Ng

Publication Date: September 12th 2017

Publisher: by Penguin Press

Format: Paperback

Number of Pages: 352

Purchase at: Amazon

synopsis

“In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

My Thoughts

Little Fires Everywhere is one of the most engrossing 2017 release that I’ve read. From the writing down to the plot, man, it was beautiful.

One of the many things that amazed me in this novel is the setting. Shaker Heights, I still can’t believe how planned everything is, imagine, included is the way to dispose or collect garbage. Even mowing a lawn!

The characters. Pearl seemed to be a young girl who’s innocent, but then like most of us teenagers, we can’t help but hangout and spend some time with people. Those who have different lifestyle than us, different mindsets. And little do we know, we’re adapting. We’re changing. Peer pressure, wanting to fit in, craving to be a part of what’s in trend.
Izzy, one who is so unique, crazy in ways others can’t explain and understand. I saw myself in her, someone who wanted to have a different life, one who feels like there’s more to her life than this. The other characters, each and everyone of them has their own deep voices. Reading the book, I realized that almost everyone was given a spotlight, a chance to be heard.

The Mother-Daughter relationship. There was a misunderstanding, a miscommunication between a mother and a daughter. Mothers, most of the time, only want what’s best for their children.

Both families in the book are different in nature, different in many ways. The Richardsons are loving an almost perfect life, while Pearl and Mia are like nomads, Mia doesn’t even have a stable or regular job. Still, one can’t deny the fact that NOT EVERYTHING IS ABOUT WEALTH.

“It bothers you, doesn’t it?” Mia said suddenly. “I think you can’t imagine. Why anyone would choose a different life from the one you’ve got. Why anyone might want something other than a big house with a big lawn, a fancy car, a job in an office. Why anyone would choose anything different than what you’d choose.”

Little Fires Everywhere did not just explore the weight of secrets, not just motherhood as well as art and identity. It also explored one’s rights. It delved into a child, a teenager, an adult, and a parent’s life and perspective. It tackled about making the right decisions and, choosing. Determining the fine like between right and wrong. It captured life and its complications, relationship complexities.

LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE FELT SO REAL!

Rating

5stars


author

164692Celeste Ng is the author of the novel Everything I Never Told You, which was a New York Times bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book of 2014, Amazon’s #1 Best Book of 2014, and named a best book of the year by over a dozen publications. Everything I Never Told You was also the winner of the Massachusetts Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, the ALA’s Alex Award, and the Medici Book Club Prize, and was a finalist for numerous awards, including the Ohioana Award, the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award.

Celeste grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio, in a family of scientists. Celeste attended Harvard University and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan (now the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan), where she won the Hopwood Award. Her fiction and essays have appeared in One Story, TriQuarterly, Bellevue Literary Review, the Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere, and she is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize.

Currently, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her second novel, Little Fires Everywhere, will be published by Penguin Press in fall 2017

BOOKS BY CELESTE NG:

186937631

 


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BLOG TOUR: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust (Book Review + Mood Board + Giveaway)

21325645_1422313911151640_1009778711_nTitle: Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Author/s: Melissa Bashardoust

Publication Date: September 5th 2017

Publisher: by Flatiron Books

Format: Paperback

Number of Pages: 384

Purchase at: Amazon

synopsis

Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale

At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

My Thoughts

*I want to say thank you to Macmillan International, Flat Iron Books, and Karina of Afire Pages for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this magical blog tour*

What are words? I actually don’t know how and where to start. So please bear with me guys, for this review will be very random. I’ll put my thoughts into words without any hesitation.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass is probably the most powerful Snow White reimagining I’ve ever read. It’s no secret that the book is a feminist YA novel, and surprisingly, Melissa did a pretty great job. It’s quite diverse, which I didn’t expect.

The story as well as the characters seemed familiar, yet refreshing. The strong female leads were portrayed in amazingly different ways. Wherein I didn’t presume it to be that good. Too good. This is a character-driven novel. I am pleased that though I’m someone who has a weak spot for plot twists & turns, this one did not even disappoint me a bit. I loved the characters of Mina, Lynet, and Nadia.

The concept of this book mesmerized me. Especially how wonderful the girls were made. How they were handled. Mina was a human, whose heart was replaced by glass, while Lynet was made of the magician’s blood, and snow. Mina and Lynet’s relationship was downright beautiful. Where I fell in love with are the girl’s stories, their personalities, and their relationship. For this isn’t your typical mother-daughter conflicted story. Their relationship was so complex. It was all about love. Craving love, wanting to feel loved, and the desire to be able to give it. I was in awe as to how developed the characters are. There were no knights in shining armor, no prince charming. Man, that was what I’ve been looking for! Girls/women who can fight for themselves, stand, be courageous, be their own hero. The girls were strong, brave, they know what they want, and they’re persistent. Mina, Nadia, and Lynet, just proved to every reader that they can be whatever they want, they can do whatever they want to. And that their only limit is their self. 

I originally rated the book 4.5, but of course, I needed to round it up. 4.5 stars for the reason that the pacing disturbed me, if the pacing wasn’t too slow, it’s too fast. Also, I want to point out the lack of world building. More background about the curse that was placed in Whitespring. I needed more, but despite these facts, GMOSAG was written beautifully, it was well-thought of.

Overall, I was really hooked. Beyond impressed. Melissa captured me, wholly, in ways I wouldn’t want to forget. With her exquisite and moving writing style, she dared to touch her me as her new reader. MELISSA THAWED THIS FROZEN HEART! 

Rating

5stars


author

15454955

Melissa Bashardoust (pronounced BASH-ar-doost) received her degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, where she rediscovered her love for creative writing, children’s literature, and fairy tales and their retellings. She currently lives in Southern California with a cat named Alice and more copies of Jane Eyre than she probably needs. Girls Made of Snow and Glass is her first novel.

 

 

Girls Made of Snow and Glass Mood Board

For Blog Tour

GIVEAWAY

RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY

 


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ARC REVIEW: Grit by Gillian French

Title: Grit

Author/s: Gillian French

Publication Date: May 16th 2017

Publisher: by HarperTeen

Format: Paperback

Number of Pages: 304

Purchase at: Amazon

synopsis

is presence beside me is like heat, like weight, something I’ve carried around on my back too long.
Raw and moving, this contemporary realistic debut novel will leave readers of E. Lockhart and Gayle Forman breathless as it unflinchingly unfolds the tragic secrets being kept in a small, deceptively idyllic Maine town.


Seventeen-year-old Darcy Prentiss has long held the title of “town slut.” She knows how to have a good time, sure, but she isn’t doing anything all the guys haven’t done. But when you’re a girl with a reputation, every little thing that happens seems to keep people whispering—especially when your ex-best friend goes missing.

My Thoughts

**Thank you HarperCollins International for providing an ARC of Grit.bBeing provided a review copy doesn’t affect nor influence my thoughts about the book.**

Primarily, this book disappointed me. 
The book was a bit different than what I thought. I expected conflicting mysteries, some sort of character insanities and mind-blowing twists and turns.
Instead of having read those, the author just showcased the daily life of the main character. The story revolved around Darcy’s journey, her continuous mention about the thing that happened on the fourth of July, the sudden disappearance of her former best friend, the problems that she’s currently facing and their preparation for the beauty pageant. Speaking of, I still don’t understand the part that the pageant played, what’s its concern, why is there a need to make a storyline with a pageant or what message it’s trying to convey. 
I don’t understand a lot of things. The story focused on too many activities at once. Turning the pages, I kept on waiting to be exposed to the real mystery, with hopes of finally reading a surprise revelation. So much is going on with the plot. I struggled looking for the main point of the story. 
I admired Darcy Prentiss’ character, she’s a strong girl who gives importance to her family. A girl full of determination. Someone who doesn’t care about what other people say to her. I liked how she handled all the issues about her, the slut-shaming and all. She managed to force a smile and laugh at the insults. I guess I focused more on this kind of real-life issues (sexual assaults) than the mysteries. 
Aside from the characters’ strong voice, what kept me reading this novel is the writing style of the author. French was able to use figures of speech that sometimes I tend to forget that the confusing plot is pissing me off. I appreciated her style. 
Altogether, I think Grit has a lot of potential, and it would be an okay read if the plot wasn’t as busy as it was. Just some cleaning up will do. 

Rating

2tars


author


Gillian French is the author of three novels for teens: GRIT (HarperTeen, 5/16/2017), THE DOOR TO JANUARY (Islandport Press, 9/5/2017), and THE SUMMER BOYS (HarperTeen, 5/2/2018). Her short fiction has appeared in Odd Tree Press Quarterly, EMP Publishing’s anthology Creepy Campfire Stories (for Grownups): Tales of Extreme Horror, Sanitarium Magazine, and The Realm Beyond. She holds a BA in English from the University of Maine, and lives in her native state of Maine with her husband and sons, where she’s perpetually at work on her next novel.

 


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ARC REVIEW: I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Title: I Believe in a Thing Called Love

Author/s: Maurene Goo

Publication Date: May 30th 2017

Publisher: by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Format: Paperback

Number of Pages: 336

Purchase at: Amazon

synopsis

“Desi Lee knows how carburetors work. She learned CPR at the age of five. As a high school senior, she has never missed a day of school and has never had a B in her entire life. She’s for sure going to Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation-magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds her answer in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Rules for True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and fake car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

My Thoughts

**Thank you MacMillan International for the review copy of this book.**

Being an Asian and a K-Drama fan, being approved of having to review this book brought me a-100% joy! Reading the blurb, I immediately knew that I’d love the MC, a Korean-American teenage girl with a cool father who loves watching K-Dramas… Or would I?

Meet Desi Lee, an outstanding student, a goal-setter, a complete control freak, she excels at anything except love. Then she met the artist, Luca Drakos (what a cool name right?) and she’d do anything to make the boy fall in love with her. Of course, with the help of her listed steps or Rules on How to Achieve True Love.

A round of applause for the well-made diversity. Racial and sexual diversity are present in this book. Stating the fact that the two MCs are people of colors and that Desi’s best friend is a lesbian.

Desi Lee has such a strong voice, with her being all nerdy, wanting to be in-control, setting goals, having directions in life, and planning her future. But I hated how she thought that she can manipulate EVERYTHING, I mean, who would want their feelings to be manipulated? I hated how she purposely played with Luca’s feelings, like Luca’s just another science experiment (which he was) and another trophy to put on her collection.

I also want to mention the difference between Desi and Luca’s father. Desi being really close to hers supporting her, her dad being all vocal and witty around her. While Luca has a father who always have him arrested, grounds him, and all. Makes the readers realize that parents do have different ways on raising their children.

This is my first time reading a book written by Maurene Goo. Her exceptional and brilliant writing made me want to read more of her works.

I highly recommend this book to everyone who loved Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I’ve Love Before.

 

Goodreads Review Click This Link

Rating

6171cf4f-39cf-4de2-b9c6-bebe8ed9657e


author

6549377Maurene Goo grew up in a Los Angeles suburb surrounded by floral wallpaper and piles of books. She studied communication at UC San Diego and then later received a Masters in publishing, writing, and literature at Emerson College. Before publishing her first book, Since You Asked, she worked in both textbook and art book publishing. She also has very strong feelings about tacos and houseplants and lives in Los Angeles

 


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BOOK REVIEW: The Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu

Title: The Careful Undressing of Love

Author/s: Corey Ann Haydu

Publication Date: January 31st 2017

Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers

Format: Paperback

Number of Pages: 288

Purchase at: Amazon

Synopsis

“Everyone who really knows Brooklyn knows Devonairre Street girls are different. They’re the ones you shouldn’t fall in love with. The ones with the curse. The ones who can get you killed.

Lorna Ryder is a Devonairre Street girl, and for years, paying lip service to the curse has been the small price of living in a neighborhood full of memories of her father, one of the thousands killed five years earlier in the 2001 Times Square Bombing. Then her best friend’s boyfriend is killed, and suddenly a city paralyzed by dread of another terrorist attack is obsessed with Devonairre Street and the price of falling in love.

Set in an America where recent history has followed a different path

Untitled-3

I am grateful that The Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu was sent to me.
The novel’s synopsis hooked me. I mean, who wouldn’t want a book about girls who shouldn’t fall in love with a boy? Because if so happens, the boy they love will die.
Another magical realism! I am starting to be a fan of this genre. I love how odd and mysterious the book is, the curses, their beliefs. Problem is it became TOO mysterious, there wasn’t even a history or background about the curse, why there’s a curse, when did it start, etc. ACUOL has a nice plot if only the author did let it reach its potential. 
This novel is indeed about a careful undressing of such a powerful feeling, love. What is love per se, and all its worth. The book also focused on grief and how to cope. 
I didn’t feel any connection to characters. And I was disappointed for the whole story centered to Lorna, her grief and her beliefs. It seemed like the author forgot about the other girls who were also supposed to be in pain, grieving, questioning love and their curse. But each character has a loud voice screaming things about the importance of friendship.
I’d like to mention two of the things that made me rate this book three stars. First is the diversity. The characters have different nationalities as well as sexualities. Next in line is the gorgeous prose, one full of feelings and emotions.
Though the ending left me feeling unsatisfied, I would still say that this book deserves to be read especially by those who love mysterious magical realisms, that my dearies, is if one is open to a lot of questions

Rating

3stars


Author

5414574

To know more about Corey Ann Haydu follow her on:

Goodreads


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BOOK REVIEW: City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie Anderson

Title: City of Saints and Thieves

Author/s: Natalie Anderson

Publication Date: January 24th 2017

Publisher: by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Format: Paperback

Number of Pages: 401

Purchase at: Amazon

Synopsis

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets Gone Girl in this enthralling YA murder mystery set in Kenya.

In the shadows of Sangui City, there lives a girl who doesn’t exist. After fleeing the Congo as refugees, Tina and her mother arrived in Kenya looking for the chance to build a new life and home. Her mother quickly found work as a maid for a prominent family, headed by Roland Greyhill, one of the city’s most respected business leaders. But Tina soon learns that the Greyhill fortune was made from a life of corruption and crime. So when her mother is found shot to death in Mr. Greyhill’s personal study, she knows exactly who’s behind it.

Untitled-3

**Thank you Penguin Random House International for providing an ARC of this title in exchange of an honest review.**

Please take note thar this review is based on an ARC.

A YA novel I never thought I’d love!

What had me hooked was the first rule in being a thief. “If you’re going to be a thief, the first thing you need to know is that you don’t exist.”

The unique setting quite fascinated me. I now have enough knowledge about Kenya. I mean, if I am not mistaken not much books are set in such place. Tina lives in such a complicated yet interesting place, Congo. The originality caught my whole attention and made my reading experience more enjoyable.

I liked the characters, mostly Tina. She’s someone who’s determined, strongly-motivated, someone who knows exactly what she wants. A brave and smart young girl. Together with her is Michael and Boyboy, both played a really important role in the the story. They were also one my favorites!

There were serious issues tackled in the story like human rights, politics, economics are also included, as well as inequalities. Each has strong and unimaginable impact.

The pacing of the story is what annoyed me, most of the time the pacing is stead-fast, while some times, it’s too slow. Though it didn’t affect my reading, I just you guys to know just in case some of you don’t like alternated pacing.

Never have I ever read a thriller book with a revenge plot mixed with street gangs. One which has relevance in our current situations. The story was too thrilling, too unpredictable, I was often at the edge of my sit. The storyline kept me guessing, thank goodness I was brought to a few new places.

Overall, City of Saints and Thieves successfully pleased me. I want to read more diverse books like this. Highly recommended if you want something different.

Rating

4stars


Author

14746831

Natalie C. Anderson is a writer and international development professional living in Boston, Massachusetts. She has spent the last decade working with NGOs and the UN on refugee relief and development, mainly in Africa. She was selected as the 2014-2015 Associates of the Boston Public Library Children’s Writer in Residence, where she wrote her debut novel, City of Saints and Thieves.


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