ARC Review: The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman

Special thanks to Clarion Books for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: The Ivory Key (The Ivory Key Duology #1)
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publish Date: 04 January 2022
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

Magic, a prized resource, is the only thing between peace and war. When magic runs out, four estranged royal siblings must find a new source before their country is swallowed by invading forces. The first in an Indian-inspired duology.

Vira is desperate to get out of her mother’s shadow and establish her legacy as a revered queen of Ashoka. But with the country’s only quarry running out of magic–a precious resource that has kept Ashoka safe from conflict–she can barely protect her citizens from the looming threat of war. And if her enemies discover this, they’ll stop at nothing to seize the last of the magic.

Vira’s only hope is to find a mysterious object of legend: the Ivory Key, rumored to unlock a new source of magic. But in order to infiltrate enemy territory and retrieve it, she must reunite with her siblings, torn apart by the different paths their lives have taken. Each of them has something to gain from finding the Ivory Key–and even more to lose if they fail. Ronak plans to sell it to the highest bidder in exchange for escape from his impending political marriage. Kaleb, falsely accused of assassinating the former maharani needs it to clear his name. And Riya, a runaway who cut all family ties, wants the Key to prove her loyalty to the rebels who want to strip the nobility of its power.

They must work together to survive the treacherous journey. But with each sibling harboring secrets and their own agendas, the very thing that brought them together could tear apart their family–and their world–for good.

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Blog Tour Review: The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk

Today is my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk.
Special thanks to Netgalley and Little Brown Books for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Be sure to click on the banner below to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: The Other Side of Perfect
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Publication Date: 11 May 2021
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Panda Rating:

(actual 4.5 pandas)

Alina Keeler was destined to dance, but one terrifying fall shatters her leg–and her dreams of a professional ballet career along with it. 

After a summer healing (translation: eating vast amounts of Cool Ranch Doritos and binging ballet videos on YouTube), she is forced to trade her pre-professional dance classes for normal high school, where she reluctantly joins the school musical. However, rehearsals offer more than she expected–namely Jude, her annoyingly attractive cast mate she just might be falling for. 

But to move forward, Alina must make peace with her past and face the racism she had grown to accept in the dance industry. She wonders what it means to yearn for ballet–something so beautiful, yet so broken. And as broken as she feels, can she ever open her heart to someone else? 

Touching, romantic, and peppered with humor, this debut novel explores the tenuousness of perfectionism, the possibilities of change, and the importance of raising your voice. 

CW/TW: the protagonist is dealing with a lot of anger and some depression, various experiences of racism, bullying

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May 2019 Monthly Wrap Up!

Friends, May is over and the only thing going through my mind is: how is it possible?! I have no idea where the days went in May. It was ridiculously busy at work and I took that week off for my best friends and my birthday. I can’t believe my birthday has come and gone already too and I’m another year older. I feel like this year is just flying by… Despite the work struggles and feeling more restless than ever this month, May was actually a pretty good month overall. For some reason I feel like I didn’t read much but when I checked on Goodreads, I saw I read 12 books. I also read one webcomic, but since it’s only the first season of the comic, I won’t officially add it to my tally. Here’s what I read by order of date:

The majority of these were e-books and I managed to read and review 4 ARCs. I’m honestly so behind on my NetGalley reads, and I feel so guilty about it, but I’m hoping to make up for it in June. I really need to get better organized because my head has been so all over the place lately, it’s a miracle I manage to get anything done at all! May was also AAPI month and I attempted to read more books by Asian authors; however, being a mood reader, I only managed to get three books in by AAPI authors. It did make me realize that although I do have quite a few books by Asian authors on my shelf, I tend to read the latest releases and other popular books because of FOMO. I need to make more of a conscious effort to read these other books, so I will be working on that throughout the rest of the year!

Of the books I read, I think Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren was my favorite. While I only had two five star reads this month, the majority were 4.5 stars, so it made it quite difficult to choose, but Josh and Hazel was the lighthearted romantic comedy that I didn’t know I needed. These characters really lifted my mood and made me feel giddy with happiness and hope, and I know I won’t be forgetting them anytime soon! Thank you CLo for writing stories that sucker punch me in the feels and for writing characters that make me laugh uncontrollably!

As with May, there are quite a few books I’m looking forward to adding to my shelves in June. But all I’ll be doing until I manage to cut down my highly unmanageable giant of a TBR list by a lot. I’ll be posting about the books I’m most excited for, plus a list of all the books that I’ve acquired this month in the coming days!

How was your reading month? What was your favorite read?
Come drop me a comment below 🙂

#WWWWednesday: 29 May 2019

Friends, we’ve come to the end of yet another month. I realize this is what happens when each day and week ends, but my head’s spinning at the fact we’re already moving into JUNE. What have I done with all these months that have passed?! Damn. So it’s time for another WWW Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words, which means I’ll be talking about:

  1. What did you read last?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What will you read next?

What did you read last?

In the last week I finished Final Girls by Riley Sager, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren and I Spy the Boy Next Door (ARC) by Samantha Armstrong (read my review). I absolutely ADORED Josh and Hazel–they were adorable and their story of friends-to-lovers is one of my favorite kinds. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book as fast as I did theirs. You can read my full review here. I’m so excited to read more Riley Sager because I really enjoyed Final Girls. The twists and that ending was completely different to what I expected to happen and it blew my mind (and everyone at that Starbucks on Sunday morning can attest to how shocked, as I started swearing out loud–oops)! 🤦🏻‍♀️ My review for this one will be coming soon.

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi. This is another one from my #APICelebrAsian list and I’m hoping that I can finish it soon, although it’s the kind of book that I don’t feel like rushing through right now. I’m loving the characters and their stories–I honestly just want to give Sam the biggest hug in the world, and then stick him in a room with Penny SO THEY CAN TALK. This was admittedly a cover buy because I couldn’t resist this gorgeous millennial cover, but I’m happy to say that I can enjoy the content as well. I’m embarrassed to say that I’m still pretty behind on reading my galleys, but I am determined to slowly make my way through them! I started The Women by S.E. Lynes and it’s been interesting so far, but I think because I can anticipate this one making me pretty anxious, I’m not racing to pick it up again.

What will you read next?

Besides the MANY MANY ARCs that I will be reading, I’m really looking forward to starting Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I won my first ever giveaway on Instagram at the end of April, and the book I requested was Crawdads. Y’all have no idea how happy I am that this book is finally in my hands! As I’m sure many of you know, the hype for this book has been unreal and even months after its release, it’s still getting hyped. So you know it’s bound to be a great read, right? I’ve heard some say that they really didn’t like it, but mostly because they’re not fans of historical fiction, so I think it’s safe to say that I won’t find myself relating to them because I love historical fiction!

What are you currently reading? Have you read any of these books?
Leave me a comment and let’s chat 🙂

Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Goodreads: Little Fires Everywhere
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: ★★★★☆

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours 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 teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.

Little Fires Everywhere started off slowly but quickly picked up as we learned more about the members of the Richardson and Warren families. Celeste Ng opens the story by introducing readers to a semi-chaotic fire scene, where the characters seem slightly defeated, and the big drama of the summer has just passed, but the buzz around the incident is still being discussed behind closed doors. This story covers such complex issues that I wished I had read this with a group of people because I would have loved discussing this during and after I finished the book.

“Sometimes you need to scorch everything to the ground and start over. After the burning, the soil is richer, and new things can grow. People are like that, too. They start over. They find a way.” 

This is a slow burn character driven family saga. It’s about motherhood, the struggles of being one and the desperation to become one, and the politics of a perfectly made community. It’s about being a teenager and trying to find where you fit in, whether at home or in school. It shows how you’re not immune to unwanted changes and disastrous events, no matter how perfectly you build a life for you and your family. It doesn’t matter what you think you and/or your loved ones deserve, people will be people and they will sometimes make wrong and selfish choices that you won’t understand. There are little fires everywhere. The build up in the story is well paced and how Ng writes made the tension so palpable, you can feel just how badly everything is going to come crashing down. It’s a bit like a snowball being rolled up and then pushed down a hill—it happens so quickly. 

Perhaps the best thing about this book is how it looks at relationships between friends, lovers, parents, and mothers and their children. All the characters are fully fleshed out, and even the side characters have background stories that allow you to build a connection to them. I’m surprised that I didn’t actually dislike any of the characters in this book. There’s no doubt that Elena Richardson was pretty awful most of the time; she did questionable things and made infuriating choices, but her character was so complex. Her struggle to keep within the boundaries of the rules she grew up with and set for herself was relatable. She would think about doing awful things to keep things the way they were, but in the next moment she would show her softer side and could empathize with those she opposed. Even Mia, who Celeste Ng clearly wrote as the “good mother” vs Elena’s “bad mother”, was imperfect, and I really liked that she painted her characters as not simply “black and white” and “good or bad” in their personalities and actions, but rather everyone is a mix of all of that, much like how it is in real life.

I loved how the teenagers bonded, although I did feel at times their relationships were a little toxic, especially between the Richardson children with Pearl and Mia. There was a dependency that grew, which wasn’t unrealistic but I thought it was a little unhealthy. Though seeing the Richardson children recognize their flaws, and watching them grow and learn through their interactions with the Warrens, was heartwarming; even as I wished that their growth was more profound or concrete at the end. The only characters I was a little disappointed with was Moody and Pearl, especially since the foundation of their friendship seemed so strong, only to have it unravel so horribly towards the end. Moody’s reactions/actions, although understandable as a teenager overcome with intense emotions, was particularly disappointing and I found that I couldn’t really forgive him for reacting the way he did, especially with the fallout.

A lot of people commented how the ending was unsatisfying and I do agree. I felt that it was too rushed and everything was wrapped up too neatly. Everyone went their own way without really facing any consequences for their actions, with the exception of the Warren’s who really felt the full brunt of it. A lot remained unresolved and Ng left it pretty open ended, but I also think it was kind of fitting that it ended that way. I was hesitant to read this one for so long because of the hype surrounding it, but if you can be patient and let the story slowly unfold for you, it’s definitely worth it! I’m so glad that participating in the #AsianReadathon and #APICelebrAsian month of May pushed me to finally pick it up. I’m now looking forward to reading Ng’s debut novel, and whatever she comes out with next!

Have you read Little Fires Everywhere? What did you think of it? Do you think it lived up to the hype? Let me know in the comments!