Jade War by Fonda Lee // Book Review

Jade War by Fonda Lee // Book Review

The sequel to Jade City definitely delivers and I think this world is a new obsession for me. Thanks to Orbit Books for the gifted book. My opinions haven’t been influenced by the publisher or the author.

Here’s more about Jade War

In Jade War, the sequel to the World Fantasy Award-winning novel Jade City, the Kaul siblings battle rival clans for honor and control over an Asia-inspired fantasy metropolis.

On the island of Kekon, the Kaul family is locked in a violent feud for control of the capital city and the supply of magical jade that endows trained Green Bone warriors with supernatural powers they alone have possessed for hundreds of years.

Beyond Kekon’s borders, war is brewing. Powerful foreign governments and mercenary criminal kingpins alike turn their eyes on the island nation. Jade, Kekon’s most prized resource, could make them rich – or give them the edge they’d need to topple their rivals.

Faced with threats on all sides, the Kaul family is forced to form new and dangerous alliances, confront enemies in the darkest streets and the tallest office towers, and put honor aside in order to do whatever it takes to ensure their own survival – and that of all the Green Bones of Kekon.

Jade War is the second book of the Green Bone Saga, an epic trilogy about family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of blood and jade.

My thoughts

This was such an incredible book and literally so much intrigue in this one that you can get lost in all of it. This time, the story foucsed less on the rivalry between the two clans (the Mountain and the No Peak clans), and focused on how these clans were planning their next step.

A this point, it’s not as simple as claiming territory on the small piece of land in Kekon, but expansion out into the other countries. After the Mountain clan revealed that they’ve been doing dealings overseas, the No Peak clan also wanted to get a little of that action focusing their effort to expand in Espenia. But with a huge war between two countries happening, refugees from those countries coming to Kekon, and jade in desperate demand, there was money to be made even if it muddled the major ideologies behind wearing jade.

I was truly surprised by this ending and what all the political dealings surmounted to. I may have seen it if I were paying more attention to the story and the political components of the book, so it was surprising to see how all the war and turmoil and war turned out to be a bigger plot device! Both families have some interesting business happening and while you’re only reading the No Peak side, it’s still quite interesting to see how they decide to expand their business.

Of course this was also a much deeper development into Hilo, Shae, and Anden and the characters that surround them. They’re not only acclimating into the roles they’re designated, but you see them try to push so hard against it as well. It was really interesting to see Shae try to become the Weather Man. While she’s got the mind for business, it also felt like she tried to keep some semblance of herself in the mix by having a relationship and trying to avoid the more gruesome sides of her job. However, there were things that were just unavoidable and watching Shae reluctantly step deeper into the role of Weather Man was heartbreaking in some ways.

The same goes for Anden as he’s shipped off to Espenia to live a life without jade. While he’s there, he somehow stumbles into the Green Bone families of that island and becomes a bigger component to the No Peak clan. It was interesting to see both Shae and Anden discover their true selves while also being pulled into the worlds their family built. My favorite character was probably Wen who grows massively from this story. Don’t let a Stone Eye with a heart of green fool you!

I will say the story felt a bit slower for me. Focusing more on the political and economical gains for the families didn’t make much for a compelling story. It felt more character-driven with the No Peak clan family being its driver. Granted, that’s pretty much until the ending when a lot of the really big points in the novel take place. There are other moments throughout the book to drive your interests, but I kept asking myself where all of this was going at a few points.

Overall, this was such a great story and sequel to Jade City. It really felt like The Godfather Part two where Michael starts dealings with Cuba and legitimize the business, but similarly to the movie, it did drag a little as everything set itself up for the final chapter.

Asking Bookstagram: 10 Romances with only one bed

Asking Bookstagram: 10 Romances with only one bed

A little while back, I asked bookstagram to share the books that included only one bed. It’s a romance trope where two unlikely people are forced to share a bed for a night. One of the most obvious answers was The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary. For the most part, this story is exactly that trope featuring two roommates who literally share one bed in the apartment. However, it’s not entirely what I was thinking when I thought about this trope.

When I think of “there’s only one bed” (aka forced proximity), I think of that couple who isn’t very friendly with each other and they’re forced at some point to sleep in the same room in the same bed. It’s a trope I thought I only saw in movies like Leap Day or The Proposal, but it happens in books too and here’s a few romances suggested to me by the community you’d want to read (I haven’t read them all) if you’re hoping that there’s only one bed.

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

A wedding planner left at the altar. Yeah, the irony isn’t lost on Carolina Santos, either. But despite that embarrassing blip from her past, Lina’s managed to make other people’s dreams come true as a top-tier wedding coordinator in DC. After impressing an influential guest, she’s offered an opportunity that could change her life. There’s just one hitch… she has to collaborate with the best (make that worst) man from her own failed nuptials.

Tired of living in his older brother’s shadow, marketing expert Max Hartley is determined to make his mark with a coveted hotel client looking to expand its brand. Then he learns he’ll be working with his brother’s whip-smart, stunning —absolutely off-limits — ex-fiancée. And she loathes him.

If they can survive the next few weeks and nail their presentation without killing each other, they’ll both come out ahead. Except Max has been public enemy number one ever since he encouraged his brother to jilt the bride, and Lina’s ready to dish out a little payback of her own.

But even the best laid plans can go awry, and soon Lina and Max discover animosity may not be the only emotion creating sparks between them. Still, this star-crossed couple can never be more than temporary playmates because Lina isn’t interested in falling in love and Max refuses to play runner-up to his brother ever again…

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


The Spanish Love Deception by Elenas Armas

Catalina Martín, finally, not single. Her family is happy to announce that she will bring her American boyfriend to her sister’s wedding. Everyone is invited to come and witness the most magical event of the year.

That would certainly be tomorrow’s headline in the local newspaper of the small Spanish town I came from. Or the epitaph on my tombstone, seeing the turn my life had taken in the span of a phone call.

Four weeks wasn’t a lot of time to find someone willing to cross the Atlantic–from NYC and all the way to Spain–for a wedding. Let alone, someone eager to play along my charade. But that didn’t mean I was desperate enough to bring the 6’4 blue eyed pain in my ass standing before me.

Aaron Blackford. The man whose main occupation was making my blood boil had just offered himself to be my date. Right after inserting his nose in my business, calling me delusional, and calling himself my best option. See? Outrageous. Aggravating. Blood boiling. And much to my total despair, also right. Which left me with a surly and extra large dilemma in my hands. Was it worth the suffering to bring my colleague and bane of my existence as my fake boyfriend to my sister’s wedding? Or was I better off coming clean and facing the consequences of my panic induced lie?

Like my abuela would say, que dios nos pille confesados.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can’t imagine working anywhere else. But lately it’s been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who’s fresh off a journalism master’s program and convinced he knows everything about public radio.

When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other. Neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, but it’s this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it’s not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts.

As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell

While the Iskat Empire has long dominated the system through treaties and political alliances, several planets, including Thea, have begun to chafe under Iskat’s rule. When tragedy befalls Imperial Prince Taam, his Thean widower, Jainan, is rushed into an arranged marriage with Taam’s cousin, the disreputable Kiem, in a bid to keep the rising hostilities between the two worlds under control.

But when it comes to light that Prince Taam’s death may not have been an accident, and that Jainan himself may be a suspect, the unlikely pair must overcome their misgivings and learn to trust one another as they navigate the perils of the Iskat court, try to solve a murder, and prevent an interplanetary war… all while dealing with their growing feelings for each other.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


The Simple Wild by KA Tucker

Calla Fletcher wasn’t even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.

She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.

Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. Soon, she finds herself forming an unexpected bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle

Maybell Parish has always been a dreamer and a hopeless romantic. But living in her own world has long been preferable to dealing with the disappointments of real life. So when Maybell inherits a charming house in the Smokies from her Great-Aunt Violet, she seizes the opportunity to make a fresh start.

Yet when she arrives, it seems her troubles have only just begun. Not only is the house falling apart around her, but she isn’t the only inheritor: she has to share everything with Wesley Koehler, the groundskeeper who’s as grouchy as he is gorgeous—and it turns out he has very different vision for the property’s future.

Convincing the taciturn Wesley to stop avoiding her and compromise is a task more formidable than the other dying wishes Great-Aunt Violet left behind. But when Maybell uncovers something unexpectedly sweet beneath Wesley’s scowls, and as the two slowly begin to let their guard down, they might learn that sometimes the smallest steps outside one’s comfort zone can lead to the greatest rewards.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


Mangos and Mistletoe by Adriana Herrera

Kiskeya Burgos left the tropical beaches of the Dominican Republic with a lot to prove. As a pastry chef on the come up, when she arrives in Scotland, she has one goal in mind: win the Holiday Baking Challenge. Winning is her opportunity to prove to her family, her former boss, and most importantly herself, she can make it in the culinary world. Kiskeya will stop at nothing to win , that is, if she can keep her eyes on the prize and off her infuriating teammate’s perfect lips.

Sully Morales, home cooking hustler, and self-proclaimed baking brujita lands in Scotland on a quest to find her purpose after spending years as her family’s caregiver. But now, with her home life back on track, it’s time for Sully to get reacquainted with her greatest love, baking. Winning the Holiday Baking Challenge is a no brainer if she can convince her grumpy AF baking partner that they make a great team both in and out of the kitchen before an unexpected betrayal ends their chance to attain culinary competition glory.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun

Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.

Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.

As Dev fights to get Charlie to connect with the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org

Pub Day Picks // September 21, 2021

Pub Day Picks // September 21, 2021

Happy Pub Day! Every week has some great picks and this week is no different. I’m going to be reading Under the Whispering Door after my next read and I can’t wait for Iron Widow. But also, The Bronzed Beast is the end of the Gilded Wolves trilogy and I absolutely loved that too. OMG, there’s too many books! What are you excited for?

Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune

When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead.

Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop’s owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over.

But Wallace isn’t ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo’s help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life.

When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​

To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi

In love they breathed. In destiny they believed. In the end, will divinity be their demise?

After Séverin’s seeming betrayal, the crew is fractured. Armed with only a handful of hints, Enrique, Laila, Hypnos and Zofia must find their way through the snarled, haunted waterways of Venice, Italy to locate Séverin.

Meanwhile, Séverin must balance the deranged whims of the Patriarch of the Fallen House and discover the location of a temple beneath a plague island where the Divine Lyre can be played and all that he desires will come to pass.

With only ten days until Laila expires, the crew will face plague pits and deadly masquerades, unearthly songs and the shining steps of a temple whose powers might offer divinity itself… but at a price they may not be willing to pay.

Returning to the dark and glamorous 19th century world of her New York Times instant bestseller, The Gilded Wolves, Roshani Chokshi dazzles us with the final riveting tale as full of mystery and danger as ever.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org

Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki // Book Review

Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki // Book Review

What does a violin teacher from Hell, a trans runaway, and an alien donut shop owner have in common? Well, I was skeptical too, but then I read Light from Uncommon Stars and now I feel like anything is possible. Thanks to Tor Books for the gifted book.

Here’s more about Light from Uncommon Stars

Shizuka Satomi made a deal with the devil: to escape damnation, she must entice seven other violin prodigies to trade their souls for success. She has already delivered six.

When Katrina Nguyen, a young transgender runaway, catches Shizuka’s ear with her wild talent, Shizuka can almost feel the curse lifting. She’s found her final candidate.

But in a donut shop off a bustling highway in the San Gabriel Valley, Shizuka meets Lan Tran, retired starship captain, interstellar refugee, and mother of four. Shizuka doesn’t have time for crushes or coffee dates, what with her very soul on the line, but Lan’s kind smile and eyes like stars might just redefine a soul’s worth. And maybe something as small as a warm donut is powerful enough to break a curse as vast as the California coastline.

As the lives of these three women become entangled by chance and fate, a story of magic, identity, curses, and hope begins, and a family worth crossing the universe for is found.

My thoughts

This book is incredible. Full stop.

Beautifully written and smartly displayed. It gave me TJ Klune and Becky Chambers vibes. It gave me donuts and so much delicious Asian food. It made me think of my violin-playing youth. And it was a massive love letter to the Asian communities of LA. I honestly was so astounded by the beauty, the embrace, and the creativity this book provided. It’s definitely one of my favorite books of the year.

I don’t even know where to begin with how to explain my feelings. Let’s start with the characters. There are several different characters that this book follows, but the main ones are Lan, an interstellar alien trying to escape from a deadly plague that’s ravishing star systems around the universe. She’s escaped to Earth where her family work to rebuild their ship and as a cover they run an old donut shop. Shizuka was a violin virtuoso back in the day, but not anymore. In fact, she’s spent the last 49 years cultivating young violin students, bringing them great fame and fortune, only to lose them all to tragic ends. Why? Because she works for the devil and collecting the souls of virtuoso is what she does. Katrina is a young trans youth who’s recently run away from home. Without a place to stay, money to get food, or anyone to turn to, she’s made her way doing sexual favors. That is, until one day, when Katrina plays her violin in the park and Shizuka just happens to hear.

The story surrounds these three individuals and their lives become more and more intertwined learning about each other, themselves, and what they’re all capable of doing when given a little bit of love. The beauty of this story is surrounding their relationships and how they each grow so drastically in the pages within. Honestly, it’s so incredible reading this book and watching how these people become the people they’re supposed to be.

Of course, the story wasn’t without its truths. There was a lot of heartbreaking depictions of Katrina as she struggles with being loved by someone unconditionally, with coming-to-terms with what’s happened to her in the past, and how she finds herself through her music and the support of Shizuka and Lan. But there were also some uplifting moments where Katrina and Shizuka’s relationship really made you believe in the good of people; even if they’re actually conditioning their souls for the devil.

It was interesting to see Shizuka grow as well because she’s been literally grooming children for death and eternal damnation. To see her change little by little with Katrina just makes you think there’s possibility for bad people to be good again. And Lan, she changes immensely as well. Coming from a pragmatic people who don’t understand why people would want a variety of donut flavors or why they waste their time with video games, you see how important these things are to humans and how this level of entertainment can be the exact thing the universe needs to keep moving forward.

Then, there was the violin play. Honestly, the violin was its own character in this book. As someone who has played violin for 10 years of her adolescent life, actually played Schradieck and tried her hand at Paganini, these violin references were SPOT ON. Even down to the kinds of bridges used and the kinds of sound the instrument can make if you use the right strings. It’s literally so accurate that I thought Ryka Aoki was a long-time player like me. It was surprising when I realized that Ryka Aoki doesn’t actually play the violin. She really fooled me because she had everything from the makers of violins to the differences a bow can make read like she was as experienced at the violin as Shizuka was.

The descriptions of the violin reminded me so much of The Red Violin; one of my all-time favorite movies. It was this idea that the violin held someone’s soul and the music it played was seductive, embracing, and completely spell-binding. There was something free and beautiful about the violin that everyone coveted it and throughout the movie, you see how it makes its way around the world and touches everyone that plays it. You can watch the trailer here. So much of that feeling was deeply held to the violin parts in this book. I was honestly so moved by the way Ryka Aoki wrote the violin and the way it touched both Shizuka and Katrina’s lives.

The ending is where you see everything come together. Honestly, I was so surprised. I had a feeling the ending would go a certain way; an ultimate sacrifice, but then it was completely thwarted and put a huge smile on my face. It was an incredible ending to finish off such an incredible experience.

Pub Day Picks // September 14, 2021

Pub Day Picks // September 14, 2021

Happy Pub Day! It’s another beautiful Tuesday and tons of great new books coming out. Here’s what I’m excited for:

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding…six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


A Lot Like Adios by Alexis Daria

Hi Mich. It’s Gabe.

After burning out in her corporate marketing career, Michelle Amato has built a thriving freelance business as a graphic designer. So what if her love life is nonexistent? She’s perfectly fine being the black sheep of her marriage-obsessed Puerto Rican-Italian family. Besides, the only guy who ever made her want happily-ever-after disappeared thirteen years ago.

It’s been a long time.

Gabriel Aguilar left the Bronx at eighteen to escape his parents’ demanding expectations, but it also meant saying goodbye to Michelle, his best friend and longtime crush. Now, he’s the successful co-owner of LA’s hottest celebrity gym, with an investor who insists on opening a New York City location. It’s the last place Gabe wants to go, but when Michelle is unexpectedly brought on board to spearhead the new marketing campaign, everything Gabe’s been running from catches up with him.

I’ve missed you.

Michelle is torn between holding Gabe at arm’s length or picking up right where they left off—in her bed. As they work on the campaign, old feelings resurface, and their reunion takes a sexy turn. Facing mounting pressure from their families—who think they’re dating—and growing uncertainty about their futures, can they resolve their past mistakes, or is it only a matter of time before Gabe says adiós again?

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer

The kingdom of Kandala is on the brink of disaster. Rifts between sectors have only worsened since a sickness began ravaging the land, and within the Royal Palace, the king holds a tenuous peace with a ruthless hand.

King Harristan was thrust into power after his parents’ shocking assassination, leaving the younger Prince Corrick to take on the brutal role of the King’s Justice. The brothers have learned to react mercilessly to any sign of rebellion–it’s the only way to maintain order when the sickness can strike anywhere, and the only known cure, an elixir made from delicate Moonflower petals, is severely limited.

Out in the Wilds, apothecary apprentice Tessa Cade is tired of seeing her neighbors die, their suffering ignored by the unyielding royals. Every night, she and her best friend Wes risk their lives to steal Moonflower petals and distribute the elixir to those who need it most–but it’s still not enough.

As rumors spread that the cure no longer works and sparks of rebellion begin to flare, a particularly cruel act from the King’s Justice makes Tessa desperate enough to try the impossible: sneaking into the palace. But what she finds upon her arrival makes her wonder if it’s even possible to fix Kandala without destroying it first.

Set in a richly imaginative world with striking similarities to our own, Brigid Kemmerer’s captivating new series is about those with power and those without . . . and what happens when someone is brave enough to imagine a new future.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson

Marigold is running from ghosts. The phantoms of her old life keep haunting her, but a move with her newly blended family from their small California beach town to the embattled Midwestern city of Cedarville might be the fresh start she needs. Her mom has accepted a new job with the Sterling Foundation that comes with a free house, one that Mari now has to share with her bratty ten-year-old stepsister, Piper.

The renovated picture-perfect home on Maple Street, sitting between dilapidated houses, surrounded by wary neighbors has its . . . secrets. That’s only half the problem: household items vanish, doors open on their own, lights turn off, shadows walk past rooms, voices can be heard in the walls, and there’s a foul smell seeping through the vents only Mari seems to notice. Worse: Piper keeps talking about a friend who wants Mari gone.

But “running from ghosts” is just a metaphor, right?

As the house closes in, Mari learns that the danger isn’t limited to Maple Street. Cedarville has its secrets, too. And secrets always find their way through the cracks.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


With You Forever by Chloe Liese

Axel

Rooney Sullivan is sunshine incarnate. Warm, bright, always smiling, she’s everything I’m not and the last person I have any business desiring. Desperate to hide a hopeless attraction, I’ve done everything possible to keep my distance…until a charades game gone wrong brought that to a grinding halt. 

Since then, steering clear of Rooney has been impossible. In a matter of months, she’s kissed me speechless, commandeered my art career, and infiltrated not only my dreams but my home. The woman who was once avoidable has become the last thing I needed: temptingly within reach.

Rooney

Axel Bergman is a gorgeous grump who doesn’t have the time of day for me. Thankfully, I’ve kept my crush under wraps…well, until I kissed him. Charades got away from me, okay? It was an accident! I haven’t seen him since, which is for the best. My life is a mess, and the last thing I need is to embarrass myself further with the man who avoids me like that’s his job rather than painting modern masterpieces.

It seems the universe, however, has a different plan. When Axel and I unexpectedly find our paths—and problems—converging, a marriage of convenience proves the perfect solution. At least, until I’m facing my most serious problem yet: a once-loveless marriage of convenience that’s inconveniently become a love match, after all.

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Not Here to be Liked by Michelle Quach

Eliza Quan is the perfect candidate for editor in chief of her school paper. That is, until ex-jock Len DiMartile decides on a whim to run against her. Suddenly her vast qualifications mean squat because inexperienced Len—who is tall, handsome, and male—just seems more like a leader.

When Eliza’s frustration spills out in a viral essay, she finds herself inspiring a feminist movement she never meant to start, caught between those who believe she’s a gender equality champion and others who think she’s simply crying misogyny.

Amid this growing tension, the school asks Eliza and Len to work side by side to demonstrate civility. But as they get to know one another, Eliza feels increasingly trapped by a horrifying realization—she just might be falling for the face of the patriarchy himself.

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Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff

From holy cup comes holy light;
The faithful hand sets world aright.
And in the Seven Martyrs’ sight,
Mere man shall end this endless night.


It has been twenty-seven long years since the last sunrise. For nearly three decades, vampires have waged war against humanity; building their eternal empire even as they tear down our own. Now, only a few tiny sparks of light endure in a sea of darkness.

Gabriel de León is a silversaint: a member of a holy brotherhood dedicated to defending realm and church from the creatures of the night. But even the Silver Order could not stem the tide once daylight failed us, and now, only Gabriel remains.

Imprisoned by the very monsters he vowed to destroy, the last silversaint is forced to tell his story. A story of legendary battles and forbidden love, of faith lost and friendships won, of the Wars of the Blood and the Forever King and the quest for humanity’s last remaining hope:

The Holy Grail.

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The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun // Book Review

The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun // Book Review

Ok, so when I heard that this book featured a Bachelor-style TV show where the main contestant falls in love with his handler/producer of the show. With that in mind, I was expecting something like that TV show Unreal, but I got way more than that!

Thanks to Atria Books for the gifted book.

Here’s more about The Charm Offensive

Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.

Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.

As Dev fights to get Charlie to connect with the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.

My thoughts

If you’re a fan of shows like The Bachelor, then get ready for this one. Seriously, I’m pretty sure Alison Cochrun watches the show because the mentions were spot on. “Can I steal you away for a sec?” is probably one of the most iconic lines of Bachelor ever and it was in here! Not only that, but the timeline of the show, the iconic parts that make up the show, the behind-the-scenes scripting of the characters (even how they made someone into a villain), and the best part is that this was the running theme throughout the book. Sometimes you read these romance books and they just drop off on the main plot of the book to focus on the romance. I’m so glad that you basically see until the final episode what happens on the show.

And the show itself was surprising! Of course, it couldn’t have been surprising without its incredible characters.

Charlie’s character really surprised me. When the author said he was the star of the show, I was expecting someone with a huge ego, knows that they’re good looking, and a straight-up dick. However, I was pleansantly surprised that this character had as much depth as Dev, was truly struggling through something in their life, and it caused a lot of concern in his relationship with Dev throughout the book.

And on top of that, Dev himself was just as mess as well. Honestly, this felt like two seriously real people who were dealing with some seriously real issues, but not ironically on a dating TV show. I loved Dev and how understanding he is of Charlie right off the bat. Instead of just shrugging him off and pretending he’s just another arrogant bachelor, he really opens up and gets to know him which was really nice. I was expecting it to be a little bit of an enemies-to-lovers, but I’ll take friends-to-lovers with a side of fake (aka practice) dating!

Not only were Dev and Charlie super well developed, but you also get to know the other characters. Between Dev’s friends and coworkers and the other contestants on the show, there was some seriously well understood characters. I can only imagine the subsequent books that will come after this one.

The biggest surprise was the real conversations about mental health and neuro-diversity. Each person was heard out, listened to, and embraced as the person that they are. It was so good to see these topics handled with such care and understanding representing those folks out there who understand that life. There were also big discussions on sexual and gender identity, which were interesting especially for the characters as they start to open up even more about their lives.

Overall, this was such a great story filled with romance and funny bits. I hope Alison Cochrun decides to write more romance novels in this world especially for the other characters since they felt so realized as well.

Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton // Book Review

Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton // Book Review

Have you ever read anything more hopeful and gorey at the same time? Well, then this unique little novel will definitely intrigue you because it’s pretty much The Secret Life of Pets meets The Walking Dead as the animals the humans leave behind after a zombie apocalypse try to gather their strength and survive. There are many animals that do die and the reason why the humans became zombies was because of an unknown virus spread through their phones, so just keep that in mind if you’re sensitive to animal death and the recent COVID pandemic.

Here’s More about Hollow Kingdom

One pet crow fights to save humanity from an apocalypse in this uniquely hilarious debut from a genre-bending literary author.

S.T., a domesticated crow, is a bird of simple pleasures: hanging out with his owner Big Jim, trading insults with Seattle’s wild crows (those idiots), and enjoying the finest food humankind has to offer: Cheetos ®.


Then Big Jim’s eyeball falls out of his head, and S.T. starts to feel like something isn’t quite right. His most tried-and-true remedies–from beak-delivered beer to the slobbering affection of Big Jim’s loyal but dim-witted dog, Dennis–fail to cure Big Jim’s debilitating malady. S.T. is left with no choice but to abandon his old life and venture out into a wild and frightening new world with his trusty steed Dennis, where he discovers that the neighbors are devouring each other and the local wildlife is abuzz with rumors of dangerous new predators roaming Seattle. Humanity’s extinction has seemingly arrived, and the only one determined to save it is a foul-mouthed crow whose knowledge of the world around him comes from his TV-watching education.

Hollow Kingdom is a humorous, big-hearted, and boundlessly beautiful romp through the apocalypse and the world that comes after, where even a cowardly crow can become a hero.

My Thoughts

I wholeheartedly loved this one. It was unique, different, and one of thsoe books with some goregous prose to take you away from the rest of the world. The story follows main character, ST (short for Shit Turd). I kid you not, I’m so surprised that I could connect with a crow as a main character. Of course, I can’t fly and I can’t connect to the animal network like they do in the book, but the emotional and mental issues he goes through as he processes what’s happening to him, his murder, and the world around him were so close to human that you couldn’t help but to relate.

The writing is exquisite. You can honestly tell that Kira Jane Buxton is a huge fan of Seattle and this almost reads like a love letter to the city if it were also in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. I’ve never been to Seattle and this book made me really want to go. The depictions of nature, the beauty of the animals as they gather together to survive, and even some of the landmarks were really vivid throughout the story. However, Kira Jane Buxton is also one of those authors who uses her powers for evil and I will tell you now, there are some seriously gross parts in this book. The zombies were gross, the bodies were gross, the decay, the death, all of it was just really nasty. It didn’t bother me much because I’m used to this kind of thing, but I can imagine someone faint of heart having problems stomaching the descriptions in some places. I will warn you now, it gets graphic.

There were also some interesting characters like ST’s dog, Dennis, who’s a bloodhound with so much loyalty for the bird. Then there’s the different animals that get their own chapter. You read this book through the perspective of the animals and each of them has their own views from different parts of the world. I absolutely loved this perspective and reading it through their eyes really made me so happy.

the ending was super surprising as well. Of course I won’t go into detail about it, but it definitely changes course right at the end and for the better.

Overall, this was a good one and if you’re a fan of horror, then I suggest this one to you. I’s fast-paced and easy to read if you can stomach the gruesome descriptions. I loved ST’s mission to save all the domesticated animals who were stuck without help and how that makes ST grow into a much more evolved crow. I kind of wish I waited to read this in October, but maybe I’ll save the second book for then.

The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina by Zoraida Cordova // Book Review

The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina by Zoraida Cordova // Book Review

I picked this one recently because it was compared to Alice Hoffman (the author of Practical Magic) and I needed a little bit of magic in my life. But what I received was something way more and way better than the magical books I’ve been reading. Thanks to Atria Books for the gifted book.

Here’s More about The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina

Perfect for fans of Alice Hoffman, Isabel Allende, and Sarah Addison Allen, this is a gorgeously written novel about a family searching for the truth hidden in their past and the power they’ve inherited, from the author of the acclaimed and “giddily exciting” (The New York Times Book Review) Brooklyn Brujas series.

The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low or empty, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers—even for graduations, weddings, or baptisms. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held onto so tightly their whole lives. Instead, Orquídea is transformed, leaving them with more questions than answers.

Seven years later, her gifts have manifested in different ways for Marimar, Rey, and Tatinelly’s daughter, Rhiannon, granting them unexpected blessings. But soon, a hidden figure begins to tear through their family tree, picking them off one by one as it seeks to destroy Orquídea’s line. Determined to save what’s left of their family and uncover the truth behind their inheritance, the four descendants travel to Ecuador—to the place where Orquídea buried her secrets and broken promises and never looked back.

Alternating between Orquídea’s past and her descendants’ present, The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is an enchanting novel about what we knowingly and unknowingly inherit from our ancestors, the ties that bind, and reclaiming your power.

My Thoughts

This story was definitely a stunner and I had so much fun reading it and getting to know The Montoyas. I’m so blown away by the writing, the story, and the characters. I’ve read Zoraida Cordova before, but this felt like nothing I’ve read from her in the past. Well, mostly that’s also because I was reading her YA fantasy fiction and not her adult novels.

And this delivered! The writing is gorgeous, the pacing is beautiful (up until the end where it got rushed), the mystery was mysterious (albeit a bit predictable), and all together such a great read. It was not necessarily a fantasy book, but I wouldn’t call it magical realism either. There was magic, for sure, but it definitely felt more like a fantasy. I would go as far as say science fiction, even! But this genre blending book definitely gave me all the feels.

I loved Marimar, Rey, and Rhiannon as they journey from their grandmother’s small home in Four Rivers to Ecuador and find out more about what happened to her. From the flowers growing out of their bodies to the ultimate power they release at the end, it truly blew my mind to read their whole story. Reading about Marimar and Rey, especially, and the lives they lived through their family traumas and dramas made the story so much more relatable to me. I felt so much for both of these characters and the middle ground they found themselves stuck in. And as they were searching for their grandmother’s past, they were learning so much about themselves in the process. It was really beautiful.

The family dynamics between them all plus all of Orquidea’s other children and grandchildren reminded me so much of my own family. While I came from a patriarchy rather than a matriarchy, the close-knit bond I have with my aunts and uncles and cousins is a stronger relationship than I’ve had with any friend in my life. And I loved that Marimar and Rey were cousins, but were best friends as well. It really brought home the family bits that really pulled at my heartstrings.

Written in a dual timeline, you read both Orquidea’s origin story and the story of her grandchildren as they try to uncover their grandmother’s mysterious past. But you get first-hand experience on the life Orquidea lived and while it felt like such an adventure, there were some pitfalls she found herself in. It was sad and a little cringey (I could feel my toes curl when the villain finally showed itself), I still rooted for her to find her path, find love, and find a life where she’s wanted and cared for.

The mystery component was a little bit disappointing, but I still loved it. This is where it felt more like a magical story. There was an ominous quality to the mysterious stranger who stalked Marimar, Rey, Rhiannon and her parents, and it was really interesting to see how that turned out.

Overall, I highly recommend this book if you’re a fan of magic, mystery, a little bit of history, and sweeping family stories. I hope this becomes a movie because I can already see all of this playing so perfectly in my head.

Your Book Reviews are Valid

Your Book Reviews are Valid

Recently, I finished reading a book that I absolutely loved. I loved it so much I already knew it would be one of my favorites of the year. And I went and did what I usually do, go to Goodreads, mark it as Read, rate it, and check what other people thought about it.

Turns out, this book isn’t wildly loved as I thought it would. The reviews weren’t terrible, but I was expecting a much higher rating percentage. I thought this book would be universal. Alas, it isn’t and I was a little disappointed by that.

But one thing I did notice when I was looking at ratings and reading reviews is that I paid less attention to what people thought and how that reflected on me. In the past, I would gripe over negative reviews for a book I liked because I thought maybe I missed something. I’ve doubted myself and my ability to read comprehensively for so long that every time I read a book that I really loved and people didn’t, I thought there was something wrong with me. Yeah, welcome to my insecurity.

This time, things were different. I looked at the reviews, reviewed the ratings, and none of it changed the way I felt about the book. I still love it. I don’t think what the reviewers said was wrong, but I also took what they said with a grain of salt and let me tell you, this was a first.

Reading books is an extremely unique experience. While you may find people in your book club or online who feel the same way you do about the book, there’s also that group of people who didn’t feel the same way. The varying degrees on how people feel changes depending on the person, their experiences, their life up to that point. And all of it is valid.

Because there’s no one way to read a book, you’re going to read based on how you (as an individual) experience life. If you’ve suffered through some traumatic event, you’ll approach a book that features a similar event differently than someone who hasn’t. If you’re the falling in love type, you may feel differently than someone who’s never been in love. And when you go to write your review and share your opinions on the book, it’s going to be different in a few ways than the ways other people have read it and that’s just such an interesting perspective! Collectively, our opinions together give other readers an idea of the book. While some may drag a book for its negative aspects, others will look past them and see the truer story behind that. And that’s also where we find our common ground. By sharing our opinions regardless how vastly different it is, we’re able to connect with others in an interesting manner. Isn’t conversation and debate one of the reasons why we like to read in the first place?

No opinion is wrong because it’s exactly that, your opinion. Of course, I don’t mean to discount critical opinions when an author doesn’t do justice to a certain group of people, includes racist/sexist rhetoric, or bullies people, but I mean the ways you fell in love with the book and the ways you hated it. It will be your opinion and yours alone and the beauty of holding that opinion out there is reflected in the number of people you find who think the same thing.

So don’t feel embarrassed if you liked the book everyone hated. Don’t feel bad if the book everyone recommended you didn’t work for you. All you can do is read the opinions of others, see their perspectives, compare it to your own, and then move on. There’s no dark judgments on you because of what you thought. It’s just you out there, with your thoughts on a book, telling others how you felt too.

Pub Day Picks // September 7, 2021

It’s another new month and as the days get cooler, the TBRs get higher. I’m so excited for today because there’s a few books I’ve had my eye on publishing. I’ve already read two of the books on this list and I can tell you now they are well worth the read!

No Gods, No Monsters by Cadwell Turnbull

One October morning, Laina gets the news that her brother was shot and killed by Boston cops. But what looks like a case of police brutality soon reveals something much stranger. Monsters are real. And they want everyone to know it.

As creatures from myth and legend come out of the shadows, seeking safety through visibility, their emergence sets off a chain of seemingly unrelated events. Members of a local werewolf pack are threatened into silence. A professor follows a missing friend’s trail of bread crumbs to a mysterious secret society. And a young boy with unique abilities seeks refuge in a pro-monster organization with secrets of its own. Meanwhile, more people start disappearing, suicides and hate crimes increase, and protests erupt globally, both for and against the monsters.

At the center is a mystery no one thinks to ask: Why now? What has frightened the monsters out of the dark?

The world will soon find out.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun

Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.

Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.

As Dev fights to get Charlie to connect with the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.

In this witty and heartwarming romantic comedy—reminiscent of Red, White & Royal Blue and One to Watch—an awkward tech wunderkind on a reality dating show goes off-script when sparks fly with his producer.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


The Last Legacy by Adrienne Young

New York Times bestselling author Adrienne Young returns with The Last Legacy, a captivating standalone about family and blood ties, reinventing yourself, and controlling your own destiny.

When a letter from her uncle Henrik arrives on Bryn Roth’s eighteenth birthday, summoning her back to Bastian, Bryn is eager to prove herself and finally take her place in her long-lost family.

Henrik has plans for Bryn, but she must win everyone’s trust if she wants to hold any power in the delicate architecture of the family. It doesn’t take long for her to see that the Roths are entangled in shadows. Despite their growing influence in upscale Bastian, their hands are still in the kind of dirty business that got Bryn’s parents killed years ago. With a forbidden romance to contend with and dangerous work ahead, the cost of being accepted into the Roths may be more than Bryn can pay.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic comes a pulse-pounding neo-noir that reimagines vampire lore.

Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is just trying to survive its heavily policed streets when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life. Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, is smart, beautiful, and dangerous. Domingo is mesmerized.

Atl needs to quickly escape the city, far from the rival narco-vampire clan relentlessly pursuing her. Her plan doesn’t include Domingo, but little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his undeniable charm. As the trail of corpses stretches behind her, local cops and crime bosses both start closing in.

Vampires, humans, cops, and criminals collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive? Or will the city devour them all?

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina by Zoraida Cordova

The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low or empty, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers—even for graduations, weddings, or baptisms. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held onto so tightly their whole lives. Instead, Orquídea is transformed, leaving them with more questions than answers.

Seven years later, her gifts have manifested in different ways for Marimar, Rey, and Tatinelly’s daughter, Rhiannon, granting them unexpected blessings. But soon, a hidden figure begins to tear through their family tree, picking them off one by one as it seeks to destroy Orquídea’s line. Determined to save what’s left of their family and uncover the truth behind their inheritance, the four descendants travel to Ecuador—to the place where Orquídea buried her secrets and broken promises and never looked back.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


The Bones of Ruin by Sarah Raughley

As an African tightrope dancer in Victorian London, Iris is used to being strange. She is certainly a strange sight for leering British audiences always eager for the spectacle of colonial curiosity. But Iris also has a secret that even “strange” doesn’t capture…​

She cannot die.

Haunted by her unnatural power and with no memories of her past, Iris is obsessed with discovering who she is. But that mission gets more complicated when she meets the dark and alluring Adam Temple, a member of a mysterious order called the Enlightenment Committee. Adam seems to know much more about her than he lets on, and he shares with her a terrifying revelation: the world is ending, and the Committee will decide who lives…and who doesn’t.

To help them choose a leader for the upcoming apocalypse, the Committee is holding the Tournament of Freaks, a macabre competition made up of vicious fighters with fantastical abilities. Adam wants Iris to be his champion, and in return he promises her the one thing she wants most: the truth about who she really is.

If Iris wants to learn about her shadowy past, she has no choice but to fight. But the further she gets in the grisly tournament, the more she begins to remember—and the more she wonders if the truth is something best left forgotten.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


A Clash of Steel by CB Lee

Two intrepid girls hunt for a legendary treasure on the deadly high seas in this YA remix of the classic adventure novel Treasure Island.

1826.
The sun is setting on the golden age of piracy, and the legendary Dragon Fleet, the scourge of the South China Sea, is no more. Its ruthless leader, a woman known only as the Head of the Dragon, is now only a story, like the ones Xiang has grown up with all her life. She desperately wants to prove her worth, especially to her mother, a shrewd businesswoman who never seems to have enough time for Xiang. Her father is also only a story, dead at sea before Xiang was born. Her single memento of him is a pendant she always wears, a simple but plain piece of gold jewelry.

But the pendant’s true nature is revealed when a mysterious girl named Anh steals it, only to return it to Xiang in exchange for her help in decoding the tiny map scroll hidden inside. The revelation that Xiang’s father sailed with the Dragon Fleet and tucked away this secret changes everything. Rumor has it that the legendary Head of the Dragon had one last treasure—the plunder of a thousand ports—that for decades has only been a myth, a fool’s journey.

Xiang is convinced this map could lead to the fabled treasure. Captivated with the thrill of adventure, she joins Anh and her motley crew off in pursuit of the island. But the girls soon find that the sea—and especially those who sail it—are far more dangerous than the legends led them to believe.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org