Posted in Blog Tours, Reviews, Sophie

Blog Tour: Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao

Hello and thanks for reading today! I’m here chatting about one of my top reads for 2020, Rent a Boyfriend by the wonderful Gloria Chao. Gloria and I met back in 2018 when she debuted with American Panda, which was an absolute delight. I’m stoked to be able to be part of the tour for her most recent book thanks to Hear Our Voices Tours and Simon Teen for coordinating everything and providing a copy for review. Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Title: Rent a Boyfriend

Author: Gloria Chao

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: November 10, 2020

Genre: YA Contemporary

Pages: 320 pages

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop.org | Book Depository

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

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

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

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

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

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

Her award-winning books have been featured on the “Best of” lists of SeventeenBustle, Barnes & NoblesPopSugarPaste Magazine, and more. American Panda received four starred trade reviews, was a Junior Library Guild Selection and Indie Next Pick, was a YALSA Teen’s Top 10 Pick, and on the Amelia Bloomer List.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Tumblr

Today’s review is going to be a bit fun! I will be posting my review in five gifs, which is what I did for We Are Not Free by Traci Chee. I’ll also talk a little bit about the book as it relates to my experience as an Asian American. I am not specifically Taiwanese American (I’m Chinese American), and I didn’t grow up with immigrant parents, so as a disclaimer here, I’d like to say I can’t speak on those specific identities.

I think this gif accurately portrays how freaking excited I was to read Rent a Boyfriend. From the opening line I was sucked in, and I couldn’t get enough of it! All I wanted to do was read it. Seriously, I think I ignored my partner more than once because I was too enthralled with my book (sorry!!). This book is such a delightful one full of voice and witty commentary with a reflective tone.

A major part of this book is Chloe/Jing Jing’s relationship with her parents, specifically her mom. There is a lot of hurt on Chloe’s part, from the backhanded compliments to the nagging about her single status, Chloe has a hard time with her mom. And this isn’t to say that her mom is terrible, you can truly tell that Chloe loves her mom and her family, but it’s a very difficult and complicated relationship to navigate as a young woman. I can totally attest to this as someone who’s going through growing pains with my mom. Chloe is constantly trying to balance who she is and who she thinks her parents want her to be, and that’s exhausting. It was great to see this part of growing up explored in this book.

Let’s definitely not forget to talk about the fake dating aspect of the book! It’s one of my top favorite tropes, and to see it with Asian main characters was truly a treat. I loved the realness between Chloe and Drew from the get go. They knew the terms of the agreement, but they also had a spark of truth behind every interaction. I loved watching their relationship develop over the course of the book. Drew and Chloe respected and pushed each other to do more and be more themselves. They weren’t afraid to be bare and honest, which really made their relationship stronger. Everything they went through felt so real, and I love that this practice is pulled straight from Asian culture as well.

Food also is a big element in the book. Chloe has a small, private point system for herself that’s measured in mooncakes. She accidentally lets it slip in front of Drew, and soon they’re both talking about the number of mooncake points different things would be worth. I love how this is a marriage of their Asian and American sides. Something Chloe struggles with a lot is how she feels like she straddles two different worlds and two different versions of herself. She feels like she’s disconnected with the Asian part of her identity, but she finds little ways to incorporate it in her life, especially through food. Drew is a wonderful force in her life in this regard. He helps Chloe meld her two selves and realize that both are equally important to who she is as a person.

Overall, I would give this book a bazillion mooncake points and two thumbs up from sheep in pajamas. This book is filled to the brim with angst, happiness, and a lot of growing. I’m definitely going to be rereading this in the future when I need a shot of joy in these bleak times. As to my own experience, I definitely related a lot to Chloe’s feelings of inauthenticity. I also occupy the liminal space of being Asian and American and sometimes not feeling like I’m enough of either to be part of the community. I love the heart that this book is written with, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Blog Tour: The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim

Hi everyone! I’m happy to be back here today with an interview with the lovely author Wai Chim. Chim wrote The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling, which came out in the U.S. this past Tuesday. I was very excited to read this book, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to chat with Wai about it! Thank you to Tours Terminal and IReadYA/Scholastic for selecting me as a host for this tour. I was provided an ARC for this tour as well. Without further ado, let’s get into it.

Title: The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling

Author: Wai Chim

ISBN: 1338656112 (ISBN13: 9781338656114)

Edition Language: English

Setting: Sydney, New South Wales (Australia)

Synopsis

An authentic novel about growing up in a migrant Asian family with a mother who is suffering from a debilitating mental illness.

Anna Chiu has her hands full. When she’s not looking after her brother and sister or helping out at her father’s restaurant, she’s taking care of her mother, whose debilitating mental illness keeps her in bed most days. Her father’s new delivery boy, Rory, is a welcome distraction and even though she knows that things aren’t right at home, she’s starting to feel like she could be a normal teen.

But when her mother finally gets out of bed, things go from bad to worse. And as her mother’s condition worsens, Anna and her family question everything they understand about themselves and each other.

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling is a heart-wrenching, true-to-life exploration through the often neglected crevices of culture, mental illness, and family. Its strong themes are balanced by a beautiful romance making it a feel-good, yet important read.

Links

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Continue reading “Blog Tour: The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim”

Blog Tour: Broken Wish by Julie C. Dao

 

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the BROKEN WISH by Julie C. Dao Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

 

About the Book:

Title: BROKEN WISH

Author: Julie C. Dao

Pub. Date: October 6, 2020

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Pages: 320

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, KindleB&NiBooks, KoboTBD, Bookshop.orgPurchase a SIGNED copy!

Sixteen-year-old Elva has a secret. She has visions and strange powers that she will do anything to hide. She knows the warnings about what happens to witches in their small village of Hanau. She’s heard the terrible things people say about the Witch of the North Woods, and the malicious hunts that follow.

But when Elva accidentally witnesses a devastating vision of the future, she decides she has to do everything she can to prevent it. Tapping into her powers for the first time, Elva discovers a magical mirror and its owner-none other than the Witch of the North Woods herself. As Elva learns more about her burgeoning magic, and the lines between hero and villain start to blur, she must find a way to right past wrongs before it’s too late.

The Mirror: Broken Wish marks the first book in an innovative four-book fairy-tale series written by Julie C. Dao, Dhonielle Clayton, Jennifer Cervantes, and L. L. McKinney, following one family over several generations, and the curse that plagues it.

Broken Wish is the perfect dark Disney fairytale.” – The Disney Blog

Julie C. Dao sets the bar high with Broken Wish, a stunning and skillful introduction to the world of The Mirror, Disney’s new fractured fairy-tale series written by four different authors that follows a family curse through the ages.” – Medium

Fairy tales were literally the foundation of how I started writing my first full-length novel at the age of eight. So, it felt like coming full circle when Disney asked me to write the first book in this series, and I had a blast incorporating classic fairy tale themes with my own twist. Hanau, Germany is none other than the birthplace of the Brothers Grimm, and as a lover of dark fairy tales, I felt that there was no setting more perfect for me to explore. My book takes place during a time when rural villages would still have clung to superstition and prejudice, and that gave me an excellent springboard for this book about a woman who has never quite fit in and longs for love and friendship.” – Julie C. Dao on Broken Wish in Publishers Weekly

 

This was such an interesting read. I didn’t know much about the book going into it, but I was really impressed. I love Julie’s writing, and I’ve been following her since her debut. It’s a good book with a lot of mystery, and it seems like an excellent beginning for a series. I’m curious as to what will happen in the sequels. This story began with Agnes and Oskar, but for the majority of the book it follows Elva, their daughter. I really loved her spirit throughout the book. She’s a strong character who believes in herself, which inspires those around her. Her relationship with Mathilda is a beautiful mentor/mentee structure. Mathilda is so pricky, but that doesn’t stop Elva from prying down Mathilda’s doors. I couldn’t put the book down. It was a short book, and it was over too soon! I loved the setting and how it was woven into the tale. I felt like I was really there. I wanted to be in the North Woods feeling the breeze on my skin and smelling the trees. All in all, this was a great, quick read. It’s perfect for this fall/spooky season!

 

About Julie:

Julie C. Dao is the author of the acclaimed Rise of the Empress duology, including Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix, as well as the follow-up novel Song of the Crimson Flower. A proud Vietnamese-American who was born in upstate New York, she now lives in New England. Follow her on Twitter @jules_writes. Photo Credit: Melody Marshall

 

Website | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon

 

 



Giveaway Details:

 

3 winners will receive a finished copy of BROKEN WISH, US Only.

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

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

10/1/2020

Kait Plus Books

Excerpt

10/2/2020

YABooksCentral

Excerpt

 

Week Two:

10/5/2020

Seeing Double In Neverland

Review

10/6/2020

Novel Novice

Excerpt

10/7/2020

The Book Nut : A Book Lovers Guide

Review

10/8/2020

Nays Pink Bookshelf

Review

10/9/2020

Rajiv’s Reviews

Review

 

Week Three:

10/12/2020

A Dream Within A Dream

Review

10/13/2020

The Bookwyrm’s Den

Review

10/14/2020

Smada’s Book Smack

Review

10/15/2020

Book Briefs

Review

10/16/2020

The Mind of a Book Dragon

Review

 

Week Four:

10/19/2020

Do You Dog-ear?

Review

10/20/2020

popthebutterfly

Review

10/21/2020

oddandbookish

Review

10/22/2020

Fictitious.fox

Review

10/23/2020

Momfluenster

Review

 

Week Five:

10/26/2020

What A Nerd Girl Says

Excerpt

10/27/2020

onemused

Review

10/28/2020

Gimme The Scoop Reviews

Review

10/29/2020

A Backwards Story

Review

10/30/2020

linathebookaddict

Review


Posted in Blog Tours, Reviews, Sophie

Blog Tour: Spell Starter by Elsie Chapman

Hi everyone, and welcome to the first day of the Caffeine Book Tours week-long tour for Spell Starter, the sequel to Elsie Chapman’s exciting Caster. As a host for this tour, I received an advanced reading copy courtesy of Caffeine Book Tours and Scholastic; huge thank you to both!

About the Book

Title: Spell Starter

Author: Elsie Chapman

Publisher: Scholastic

Publication date: 06 October 2020

Age group: Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis:

The Sting meets Fight Club in this magical, action-packed sequel to Caster by Elsie Chapman.

Yes, Aza Wu now has magic back. But like all things in her life, it has come at a great cost. After the tournament, Aza is able to pay off her parents’ debt to Saint Willow. Unfortunately, the cost of the gathering spell she used to strip Finch of his magic has put her permanently in the employ of the gang leader. Aza has been doing little errands using real magic — collecting debts, putting the squeeze on new businesses in the district. But that had never been the plan. Saint Willow is nothing if not ambitious and having Aza as a fighter is much more lucrative than as a fixer. Especially if she can control the outcome. Aza is going to have to put it all on the line again to get out of this situation!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound | Goodreads

About the Author

Elsie Chapman grew up in Prince George, Canada, and has a degree in English literature from the University of British Columbia. She is the author of the YA novels Dualed, Divided, Along the Indigo, and Caster as well as the middle-grade novel All the Ways Home, and the coeditor of A Thousand Beginnings and Endings and Hungry Hearts. She currently lives in Tokyo, Japan, with her family.

Website | Instagram | Goodreads

Review

First, let’s talk about how awesome that cover is! I loved the first book’s cover, but the series re-design totally kills it. They really pop, and they still have Aza taking center stage in them. What I love most is the font and the colors.

If you loved Caster, Spell Starter is going to blow your freaking mind. I loved the way Lotusland was built and described in the first book, everything from the smells to the sights, it felt like I was there. You get even more of that in the second book as Aza takes on Saint Willow himself. I was pooping myself at the end of the first book, so thankfully we pick right up in the second one.

What I really enjoyed was the deeper dive Chapman took into Aza’s. I liked her in the first book, but I feel like I got to know her better and become her friend in Spell Starter. Her strength and power is terrifyingly amazing, and it was wonderful to see her grow and change with it. Of course, part of it is the danger of wielding magic that isn’t her own, but I think Chapman explores this question beautifully. Aza is a clever, well-written character, and I was rooting for her at every challenge.

All in all, I really loved the sequel. It furthers the narrative from the first book and thrusts you back into a rich city that is both vibrant and has a seedy underbelly that we first saw in Caster. This is a sequel you don’t want to miss this Tuesday!

Be sure to follow along and check out the rest of the posts today and this week on the tour schedule!

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Hello there! Today is the first day of the We Are Not Free book tour, organized by Colored Pages Bookish Tours. I’m very excited to be part of this tour because I’ve really enjoyed Chee’s writing, and this book delivers on all counts. Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Image description: Text over cover of book — About the Book.
Image description: Cover of We Are Not Free.

Title: We Are Not Free

Author: Traci Chee

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Publication Date: September 1, 2020

Genres: Historical YA Fiction 

Synopsis:

All around me, my friends are talking, joking, laughing. Outside is the camp, the barbed wire, the guard towers, the city, the country that hates us. 

We are not free. 

But we are not alone.”  

From New York Times best-selling and acclaimed author Traci Chee comes We Are Not Free, the collective account of a tight-knit group of young Nisei,  second-generation Japanese American citizens, whose lives are irrevocably changed by the mass U.S. incarcerations of World War II. 

Fourteen teens who have grown up together in Japantown, San Francisco. 

Fourteen teens who form a community and a family, as interconnected as they are conflicted. 

Fourteen teens whose lives are turned upside down when over 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry are removed from their homes and forced into desolate incarceration camps. 

In a world that seems determined to hate them, these young Nisei must rally together as racism and injustice threaten to pull them apart. 

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Kobo | Indigo 

Continue reading “Blog Tour: We Are Not Free by Traci Chee”

Blog Tour: We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

Book Review: The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

Happy happy book birthday to The Black Kids and Christina Hammonds Reed for writing such an exquisite, breath-taking novel! I am really excited to be sharing this book with you all today, and I can’t wait for the rest of you to read it!

A note about this review: I received an eARC of this book back in early April. I was approached by the publisher, and I accepted the review request. After recent discourse on the importance of getting ARCs into the hands of more OwnVoices readers, I reached out again in July to see what was happening for The Black Kids and offered to provide names of OwnVoices individuals but received no reply. Seeing that the publisher was working with a book tour specifically geared toward #OwnVoices reviewers and readers and seeing more OwnVoices readers in my feed have copies of the book, I decided to move forward with my own reading and review. Moving forward, I am planning on declining review requests for books that need #OwnVoices reviewers, instead offering names of reviewers who are part of the represented community. In the event I receive any of these, I will confer with the publisher and further announce this on my social media channels. I apologize for taking this spot, and I’m working on being better about this in the future.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed”
Posted in Bloggers, Reviews, Sophie

Book Review: Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon

HAPPIEST OF RELEASE DAYS TO TODAY TONIGHT TOMORROW AND RACHEL! I’m so so so excited to bring you a review of this book today! I’ve been a fan of Rachel’s since she debuted back in 2017, and getting to know her over the years has been really awesome. Thank you so much to the publisher for getting me a copy.

Title: Today Tonight Tomorrow

Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release date: July 28, 2020

Format: ARC

Rating: 5/5 Goodreads stars

The Hating Game meets Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by way of Morgan Matson in this unforgettable romantic comedy about two rival overachievers whose relationship completely transforms over the course of twenty-four hours.

Today, she hates him.

It’s the last day of senior year. Rowan Roth and Neil McNair have been bitter rivals for all of high school, clashing on test scores, student council elections, and even gym class pull-up contests. While Rowan, who secretly wants to write romance novels, is anxious about the future, she’d love to beat her infuriating nemesis one last time.

Tonight, she puts up with him.

When Neil is named valedictorian, Rowan has only one chance at victory: Howl, a senior class game that takes them all over Seattle, a farewell tour of the city she loves. But after learning a group of seniors is out to get them, she and Neil reluctantly decide to team up until they’re the last players left—and then they’ll destroy each other.

As Rowan spends more time with Neil, she realizes he’s much more than the awkward linguistics nerd she’s sparred with for the past four years. And, perhaps, this boy she claims to despise might actually be the boy of her dreams.

Tomorrow…maybe she’s already fallen for him.

I can do nothing but love Rachel’s writing. She is such a lovely and talented writer, and I fall in love with her characters every time.

Rowan is someone I loved. She is a Jewish biracial woman coming into her own voice as a writer. Her affinity for romance novels reminded me a lot of myself. (Her parents were awesome, btw! They’re so fun, and we see them a couple times throughout the book.) I loved Rowan’s voice and the way it shined. While I can’t speak directly about her rep, I love Rowan as a character. I also know that Rachel is writing as a Jewish #OwnVoices author.

Neil was also a really interesting character. We only really understand and see him through Rowan’s eyes, so it’s really fun to see him evolve and change based on her relationship to him. No matter how hard Rowan tried to hate him, I loved Neil. He seemed really grounded and sure of himself, and as we get to know him better, I couldn’t help but adore him.

The setting of the story is like an ode to Seattle. It made me want to visit even more than I already do. The record shop was probably one of my favorite scenes. And the zoo scene was so funny! As Rowan and Neil travel throughout the city, you get to learn the ins and outs as a local. You can tell how much love was put into this book just by the way Rowan admires her city.

In terms of premise, I love the idea of a class-wide scavenger hunt! It was so exciting to read, and it made me wish there was something like that for my high school. The sense of build up and camaraderie was excellent. The ending of the scavenger hunt was both epic and exactly not what I thought it would be. But it still was heartwarming and fun, and I loved every minute of reading it.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. It’s such a cute, fun romance that will have you dreaming of your own scavenger hunt.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Book Review: Agnes at the End of the World by Kelly McWilliams

Hi there! I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy. I have been doing okay. Since graduating, I have been on the job hunt, which is long and hard and seemingly endless. What’s comforting is being able to take breaks and read, and I’m very grateful to be able to stay at home.

Today I wanted to share my review of a recent release by debut Kelly McWilliams! I was sent this by the publisher for review, and it was a great read. So without further ado, here we go!

Title: Agnes at the End of the World

Author: Kelly McWilliams

Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR

Format: ARC

Release date: June 9, 2020

My rating: 4/5 Goodreads stars

The Handmaid’s Tale meets Wilder Girls in this unique, voice-driven novel from Kelly McWilliams.

Agnes loves her home of Red Creek–its quiet, sunny mornings, its dusty roads, and its God. There, she cares tirelessly for her younger siblings and follows the town’s strict laws. What she doesn’t know is that Red Creek is a cult, controlled by a madman who calls himself a prophet.

Then Agnes meets Danny, an Outsider boy, and begins to question what is and isn’t a sin. Her younger brother, Ezekiel, will die without the insulin she barters for once a month, even though medicine is considered outlawed. Is she a sinner for saving him? Is her sister, Beth, a sinner for dreaming of the world beyond Red Creek?

As the Prophet grows more dangerous, Agnes realizes she must escape with Ezekiel and leave everyone else, including Beth, behind. But it isn’t safe Outside, either: A viral pandemic is burning through the population at a terrifying rate. As Agnes ventures forth, a mysterious connection grows between her and the Virus. But in a world where faith, miracles, and cruelty have long been indistinguishable, will Agnes be able to choose between saving her family and saving the world?

Wow, this book was such an interesting read! I’m not sure I would have picked it up if I hadn’t been sent a review copy, but I was pleasantly surprised by it, and I definitely would recommend it to pretty much anyone who will let me.

Agnes, at first, appears to be the perfect disciple of Red Creek. She is thought of by many as the obedient one, the one with perfect virtue. Her strength as a character grows and shines as the story progresses. I really admired how much courage she had. Her dedication to her family and faith to do what was right was unwavering, and I loved that about her.

Beth was someone I didn’t expect to like. Her character had so many flaws, but I think that is the best part of her. Beth’s humanness and desire to be needed is something I found relatable. I looked forward to reading her POVs, especially in the middle when there is a change in setting for one of the characters. She reminded me a bit of Amy from Little Women. Similar to Amy, Beth wants to stand out and to be noticed among her siblings. She wants to be recognized as her own person, not just because she’s Agnes’s sister.

The story began a bit slow, but I really got into it after the first few chapters. When I got to the end of part one, I had to know what was going to happen next. There is so much action in that end scene. I love how McWilliams built a world so similar to ours that I could easily imagine the same events playing out IRL.

Faith and religion play a major role in this book. I like how religious teachings (from the Prophet, from the Bible, etc.) were used at the beginning of each chapter. Noticing the shift in who is speaking is super important to the rest of the story. This theme definitely had me reflecting on my own faith and what it means to me.

Overall, I highly recommend this to people who are looking for a book with good atmosphere that tackles family, faith, and challenges you to think.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂