Mini Review #5: American Street


“Chantal is Brains.

Donna is Beauty.

Pri is Brawn.

I am Brave. No one has to tell me this. I know it for myself” (pg 317).

American Street by Ibi Zoboi (336 pages), was…Whoa. I thought it was brilliant. A real thriller with some gut punches.

I disliked Fabiola’s cousins except for Chantal. I just…Even though they were joking, they just came off as awful a lot of the time.

I loved Kasim as much as Fabiola.

It had a bit too much cursing, but I enjoyed the storyline immensely. And Fabiola was such an adorable, sweet girl.

SN: Donna and Dray were mad dysfunctional.


This book definitely has to be added to your tbr (to-be-read).  Even with that ending, I liked this story.


Book Review #21: The Sweetest Sound


“You know, church is like that. Sometimes the pastor is talking and all you can think about is eating pancakes when he is done. But sometimes he says something and, just like that, it feels like he’s talking absolutely, positively to you!” (pg 17)

In The Sweetest Sound by Sherrie Winston (272 pages), Cadence Jolly is tired of adults giving her “motherless child” pity. She’s also trying to break out of her perpetual shyness enough to own her beautiful voice. In a fit of frustration and later regret, Cadence films herself disguised singing on Youtube. Of course, now her church choir is trying to find the little girl with the big voice, and Cadence doesn’t know if she will be able to own up to it.


The cast is very diverse with Cadence and her family being African-American, Faith, a Dominicana, Zara, bi-racial (black mom/white dad), and Mei-Mei and Sophie, Chinese.

Some of the best singers (and def your faves) started singing in church, and Cadence is no different. Cadence was very shy but prideful, and I actually like that combination. She was also an avid reader, always mentioning classic books, and wanted to be a writer.

I couldn’t stand Faith. At all. Little girl be happy for your friend.

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Zara wasn’t memorable but at least she was sweet.

Cadence’s dad was well-meaning but overbearing. Still, he was okay in my book. I didn’t care about his little romance though.

Random note: I kept reading Sofine as So-Fine. :p


“…Learning to be strong didn’t mean changing everything” (pg 259).

This book was a little dry. Too much poetry and way too much irrelevant junk. It was really hard for me to push through and finish it.

I don’t like giving stars, but this one is about a 2.5. Still, I’m sure it will make some kid’s day.

SN: THAT COVER! (ღ˘⌣˘ღ)

Cadence has the cutest pixie cut!

Book Review #19: Piecing Me Together

25566675Diverse fiction? Yes! Diverse fiction with a black main character? Yes, yes! Diverse fiction with a female black main character? So many yes’s! Bonus points for the main character being darkskinned and round. I have read a few (there is a severe lack of them) books centered around black girls and that is a rare combination because in most books the girl is brownskin and thin.


“My life is full of opportunities. Give an opportunity to someone else.

But girls like me, with coal skin and hula-hoop hips, whose mommas barely make enough money to keep food in the house, have to take opportunities every chance we get” (pg 7).

In Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson (272 pages), Jade hates that she is labeled as an “at-risk-youth” for many factors but tries her best to take advantage of the opportunities given to her. Instead of being nominated for a study-abroad trip in South America (that she is more than qualified for), she is recommended to apply for an African-American Girls’ Mentorship program, Woman to Woman. Throughout the program, Jade receives a flaky mentor, gets exposed to new places, and has to wonder is it all worth it. Is she just a charity case?

Jade and I have some things in common such as, both our favorite colors are yellow, we both learn Spanish, and love art. I also completely relate to having a mom who always has a comeback ready and not always having a good reply myself.

“It’s okay,” I tell her. It’s not, but what else am I supposed to say?” (pg 39)

See? Jade gets me.

I enjoyed how short the chapters were (bite-sized pieces!), and how they began with a Spanish word (usually infinitives). I thought Jade’s propensity to nickname people in her head like Book Girl, Glamour Girl, and Afro Woman, all characters you will know when you read the story, was cute.

As much as I like reading it, I’m glad that there was NO ROMANCE. Nothing to derail the focus. This book is going to leave you with something.

I liked Jade’s narrative immensely, and many of the chapters ripped off metaphorical bandages. Chapter 21 was real, just real.

“And this makes me wonder if a black girl’s life is only about being stitched together and coming undone, being stitched together and coming undone” (pg 86).

“Maxine is right and wrong. Those girls are not the opposite of me. We are perpendicular. We may be on different paths, yes. But there’s a place where we touch, where we connect are the same” (pg 132).”

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“I don’t know what’s worse. Being mistreated because of the color of your skin, your size, or having to prove that it really happened” (pg 137).

This book is too undeniably real.

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The characters are really human, in a sense, that the nicest characters have flaws and good points, help and hurt, and ignore and understand.


After reading this, I just want to play Solange’s “Cranes in the Sky” and persuade someone to buy this book and parade it on their bookshelf.

Piecing Me Together is thought-provoking and will make you do some serious self-reflection and introspection.

FIVE STARS! Read this. Read this. It’s deserving of all its accolades.

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Book Review #18: Everything, Everything


Just in time for Mother’s Day! This book has a huge focus on the mother-daughter relationship!

Everything, Everything was everythang! Nicola Yoon has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I reviewed The Sun is Also a Star before this, and Yoon’s first book is just as good (TSIAAS is just a bit more polished).


“…The world barely knows I exist. I mean, I exist online. I have online friends and my Tumblr book reviews, but that’s not the same as being a real person who can be visited by strange boys bearing Bundt cakes” (pg 29).

In Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (310 pages), Madeline Whittier (I’m going to be calling her Maddy throughout the review) is sick, in a way, she’s allergic to the entire outside world. Her mom and the best nurse ever, Carla, keep her monitored closely and on a tight schedule. Nothing in Maddy’s life is unplanned or out of the ordinary until (wait for it…) a boy, parkour-black-clothes-only-wearing boy with one dimple in his right cheek, moves in next door.

Yoon is awesome at “showing” and not telling. I love reading her descriptions of characters and things, basically just nouns. She describes nouns well.

“Maddy: What color are your eyes?

Olly: Blue

Maddy: Be more specific, please.

Olly: jesus. girls. ocean blue

Maddy: Atlantic or Pacific?

Olly: Atlantic. What color are yours?

Maddy: Chocolate brown

Olly: More specific, please

Maddy: 75% cacao butter dark chocolate brown

Olly: hehe. nice” (pg 51).

I also like how the real-world references didn’t feel cringy. This book taught me a word that I never knew existed, uxorious. Aww! My favorite English word is pugnacious (or adore), but it might change!

“Maddy: Friends don’t kiss, Olly.

Olly: really good ones can” (pg 123).

I want to say Olly and Maddy were attracted to each other too quickly (instalove!), but if you were basically trapped in an impenetrable bubble your feelings might be intensified. Also, hormones.

There are some mentions of domestic abuse (not with Olly and Maddy btw), and a heavy-handed hint at mental trauma. Oh yeah, there’s a sex scene too, a little edgy but not explicit. Blink and you miss it. I don’t know how I feel about it.

No one had to tell me, but I just knew from the minute I picked up this book that there would be adorable “aww-worthy” moments and some punches in the gut. This book has a mean right hook.


Maddy was sheltered and compliant, but her head was also in the clouds (or rather outer space) and Olly sent her thoughts and health awry.

Olly was agile, witty, and fun. He harbored a lot more pain than he let on, and Maddy intrigued him in every way. He also loved black clothing but wasn’t goth.

Wow. The mom was so believable. I just… She really loved Maddy, almost to a fault.

I loved Carla! She was the absolute best!


I enjoyed it! The characters, the humor, and, even though it made my heart physically drop, those gut punches. The climax was very climatic. I can’t wait for the movie!

Book Review #15: Wide as the Wind

30732696It’s been a while since I had written a review because finals had kept me busy. I finally managed to finish the first (and so far only) book I have won in a Goodreads giveaway. On an unrelated note, all the names in the book, every single one, were so beautiful.

WatW is diverse fiction. The story is heavily embedded into a Polynesian setting. I know absolutely nothing about Polynesian culture, so I can’t tell you if it was accurate or offensive. But it’s always pleasant to read about racially or culturally diverse characters.


“With the cruel blindness of lovers, they neglected the girl. […]They had found their own island” (pg 93).

The premise of Wide as the Wind by Edward Stanton (213 pages) is that Miru has to go on a journey to find tree seeds to replenish his village’s barren land. Luckily his sister Renga Roiti and whoever else he can scrounge for a shipmate are going with him.

Initially, I thought Miru was much younger from reading the first few pages, but a glance at the back cover stated he was fifteen. His transition into manhood was an essential part of the story.

“Miru felt the urge to lick the saliva from Kenetéa’s mouth” (pg 33).

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Well, alright then…

Although it was a big portion of the story, the sailing at sea dragged so much to me, but it was probably one of the better parts. With how high the stakes were, of course, there was an inevitable death, and I felt really bad when it happened.

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“Neira sighed. ‘If you’re fated to die, how can I stop it? So, I’ll teach you and your sister what I know. But be careful, son! If my husband finds out we’ll all be in danger” (pg 43).

I found a lot of the writing to be somewhat “matter-of-fact.” Like, “The boy loved him for he was his sister’s friend (not an actual quote).” This is not a particular writing style I am fond of, but it works okay for this book.

Also, Miru was madly in love with Kenetéa, but alas, they were star-crossed lovers, both from different tribes. I wish those two could have had more backstory and development for their love. Miru hopelessly longed to be with her, but I just did not have the same urgency for them to get together.

When Miru and his companion returned home, I felt the story began to pick up.


I did not really have any favorite characters. I felt like WatW was more plot-driven than character-driven. Surprisingly, I liked Nuku, the prince of the rival clan, and Kaimokoi the most.

Also, enjoyed the active role Miru’s sister Renga Roiti played. She got along well with her brother and had a talent of communicating to birds. I kept forgetting she was only 10-11 years old because Renga seemed so mature.

Miru was okay. A decent guy who knew he made mistakes and happened to love a girl from an enemy tribe. A little bland but, again, a decent average guy.

I wanted Kenetéa to have a much bigger role. She was basically Miru’s motivation and seemed like the princess locked away in the castle. She had like maybe four appearances if you don’t mention Miru’s thoughts of her. However, I loved how she always called Miru out on his self-righteousness. [Example: Miru:Téa, your tribe is so evil…  Kenetéa:Hold’up Miru, your people are not saints either (not an actual book quote).]

To be honest, I don’t think I could keep loving Miru if I were Kenetéa because it felt like he caused everyone she loved to die.


Anyway, Wide as the Wind was pretty good. It had a strong environmental message (and probably an anti-war one too). There’s a little carefully-covert sexual content like a boy waking up with “his milk covering his groin”, but not enough to offend or arouse someone, so no worries.

I think there were some scenes that could have been condensed, but it’s worth a read.


Book Review #14: The Name of the Blade: The Night Itself [Book One]

20819649 This book started off a little meh to me, and there are some cringy moments. Also, I think I glossed over the part where Mio starts calling her sword he/him, which is fine because that humanizes it.


“You will do what is necessary,” said Shinobu, not a trace of doubt in his voice. “You will do what must be done. And you will do what is right. You will always do what is right, Mio” (pg 297).

In The Name of the Blade by Zoë Marriott (368 pages), Mio takes her deceased grandfather’s katana (Japanese long sword; think samurai) to a costume party as a part of her Rukia cosplay. Guess what? It was not a good idea, as it births a bunch of evil.

Dreams play a big part in this story (I know the dreams trope is cliche but a little fantasy never hurt), and I like that because I generally enjoy stories where the character finds a connection between their dreams and the real world. Something that happened that was equally cliche and not really a spoiler was the arrival of the warrior, Shinobu. And yes, I enjoy the main character’s inanimate object turns into a human and becomes their partner or potential love interest trope as well.

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The entire Mio-Shinobu attraction happened very quickly, not necessarily a bad thing depending on what you like but just something that I noticed. Insta-love was present.

The ending did not shake me for one moment. Like, really? You want me to feel bad for a character I barely know? Well, barely care about, though I did not dislike that character.

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Mio was a big source of the mehness. I don’t really have a good grasp of her character, but I think she was sarcastic and bold. To be honest, she felt a bit like a reader-insert.

Shinobu came on a little strong and at times had an overly poetic/flowery speech, but I do like that he was a gentleman. I guess he was my favorite character or maybe Jack.

Jack was fine.

I actually found Mio and her relationship with her dad interesting, and I wanted to know why they were always at each other’s throats.


“We were death. Vengeance. Power.

We were the night itself” (pg 346).

The Name of the Blade is an okay book. Nothing that’s going to make you do cartwheels, but a good read for a lazy afternoon. If you are into Asian folklore, specifically Japanese, there are a lot yokai present like nine-tailed kitsunes (foxes) and Nekomata.

I am not super-inclined to read the sequels, but a small part of me wants to see if Mio and her dad’s relationship will get better/worse and what happens with Shinobu afterward.


Book Review #13 The Sun is Also A Star

28763485The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon (348 pages) gets 4.5 stars out of 5 for me, but let’s just round that up to 5, okay?

I’ve heard raving reviews for Nicola Yoon’s work, so I decided to check it out for myself. First, the multiple narratives surprised me because I thought it would be Natasha and Daniel’s perspectives at the most. Yoon does a phenomenal job “showing” and not telling, and that made me really enjoy the descriptions in this book.


“Yes, it’s obnoxious. But I have a good reason for this behavior that involves a completely empty train one night at two a.m. (way past curfew) and a man with a big-ass snake wrapped around his neck who chose to sit next to me despite there being one thousand (give or take) empty seats” (pg 43).

There are some parts in this book that made me giggle and smile like a delirious loon. Then there’s that part where Natasha meets Charlie, Daniel’s brother, and his Dad. I really cannot believe how nonchalant she was! I could not deal with no racist in-laws. No one has time for that! Also, I love how this book addressed the history and politics of why Korean hair stores are always in black neighborhoods.

Oh yeah, the karaoke/ norebang scene… Girl… Hormones galore!

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I love the two main characters, Daniel and Natasha. I even love the one-off characters like Joe, the Chopsticks lady, and the religious bus driver. Some of the characters are pretty zany, but the story is set in New York City.

“Observable Fact: I don’t believe in magic.

Observable Fact: We are magic” (pg 170).

Natasha reminds me a bit of myself, although not as cynical, scientifically-minded, and opposed to love. She’s very realistic like someone you know and not a character in a book.

Daniel is what those tumblr kids call a sweet cinnamon roll.  Dude is a decent guy who is in touch with his emotions! *GASP* Yeah, he’s not the brooding, emo bad boy love interest (even though I like those too) readers have come to know in YA fictions.

I like the emphasis on parental relationships as well. In so many books, it’s easy to forget the main characters are teens who have parents. I feel slighted that there was no chapter from Daniel’s mom’s perspective, and I would have liked another one from Patricia, Natasha’s mom. Samuel Kingsley, the reason Natasha’s in this mess, was so infuriating but believable.

I kind of want to see Jeremy Fitzgerald fall down a flight of stairs into incoming traffic. Yeah.


“I try to give her a look that says don’t argue with the old security guard with the lung problem, otherwise he won’t let us stay here and makeout, but even if she interpreted my facial expression correctly, she ignores me” (pg 264).

So many good quotes and that ending! Guys, I cannot… I can’t. It’s a little bittersweet but optimistic enough. I felt my heart drop.

Okay, if you can get over the “fall-in-love-in-a-day” heavy chick-lit tone then you will really like this book. Even if you’re not a romantic like me, you will at least be entertained. For me, the hype was justified, and I gotta add this to my bookshelf. I will probably be reading “Everything, Everything” soon too.