Meeting Jenny Han

The other night, I was delighted to have had the chance to meet an author I greatly admire. She’s someone who creates characters that are real and relatable. Poignant and visceral. It’s not just because she’s Asian like I am that she gets me better. Fans from all over flocked to see her, and her ethnicity hadn’t a thing to do with it. 

This amazing lady? Well, this was Jenny Han. 


I haven’t gone to many author signings in my life, but even still, this was a great night. From hearing where her initial inspirations grew for her latest series to feeling the passion she evokes when standing up for young readers whom she hopes can relate to the cast of characters that were born of her imagination, I don’t think anyone left that room without feeling even remotely satisfied with how we spent the hours waiting up for her arrival. 

I don’t know how many of you know her stories yet, but I encourage you to check out the series she most recently finished. Even when the characters make me ecstatic with joy or trembling with frustration, it’s all the mark of a good writer. 

To be honest? This blog wouldn’t be here without her. To All the boys I’ve Loved Before was my very first reviewed book and it propelled me to leave my comfort zone to embark on something I’ve always loved to do: to read and to share good stories. Her book was the final push that shoved me in this direction and I’m more than grateful for where I’m at right now ’cause of it. 

So please, check out Lara Jean’s story. I promise you. You won’t regret it. Her conclusion to the series, Always and Forever, Lara Jean, just came out May 2, 2017 ❤


I know this won’t be the last I’ll see of Jenny Han. She’s pretty much on my auto-buy list (which is only a select few authors these days). I hope there’ll be another chance to see her again as her story in becoming an author and what she stands for encourages me to also shoot for my dreams and push myself to become someone whom the world hasn’t necessarily seen much of before. 

Thank you, Jenny Han. This blog post is for you. 

Review: The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye

Series: The Crown’s Game #2

the crown's fate -evelyn skyePerfect for fans of Shadow and Bone and Red Queen, The Crown’s Fate is the thrilling sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Crown’s Game, an atmospheric historical fantasy set in Imperial Russia.

Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.


2 Drink Me Potions


Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

**The Crown’s Fate comes out May 16, 2017**

What can I say? The Crown’s Fate didn’t do much more for me than its predecessor. But I won’t glum down this review – at least, not for its entirety.

This novel, for those of you who may have rather enjoyed The Crown’s Game, might be a decent sequel (don’t let my low rating score you yet). The gorgeous Russian setting and culture continues to be explored here in this sequel. Maybe not as much as the first novel where we’re all still getting acquainted to all that is Russian history, but it’s still present with a larger focus on historical events over the actual setting and location. There’s an unsettled atmosphere with our main characters after the events of the first book, but it only gets amplified with what happens fairly earlier on in this novel. While that may have started out more exciting, I grew pretty weary with it all rather soon.

But first, any other praises I may have. Hmm.

Well, I suppose one point for Skye was how she handled her “love triangle”. Honestly, this never was a love triangle. It was 2 guys who fell for Vika way too fast because she was “different”. She only ever loved Nikolai (sorry Pasha shippers). And for that I’m glad. She wasn’t some wishy-washy girl who couldn’t make up her darn mind about who she wanted to be with and tagged along both boys until she could decide. She at least knew herself well enough in this regard, and it made me respect her more than the apathetic feeling I had for her before. But the romance was still very much hard for me to wrap around as it didn’t feel like there was enough substance for Vika, and Nikolai for that matter, to feel so strongly for each other. Was being the only 2 magical enchanters enough of a reason to love each other so quickly?

Anything else besides these two things just didn’t impress me. The plotline that started earlier with Aizhana continued here, but it felt so anticlimactic with what happened there. Like, there should’ve been something more to her role that, I don’t know, could’ve brought the main characters closer to unite against one common enemy. But nooooo. The main antagonist in this story felt so….unimpressive. It’s not unheard of for a story to twist like this, but at the same time, I felt like Skye could’ve gone a whole other direction with this book (like maybe focus on saving Nikolai, or defeating some larger problem together).

And this pattern continues from here. The other plotline dealing more with Pasha and his fight for the crown wasn’t exciting. Period. The ensuing climax for this growing tension in his country as he was ascending the throne was short and didn’t really focus in on that element. It was just there as another component to further emphasize the main problem and antagonist of the book (which I really can’t say without ruining everything, but argghhhh was I annoyed with it).

The ending I will concede wraps things up nice enough. It’s a happy ending, no worries. Yet I’m just left unsatisfied. Things ended too quickly and problems such as the country’s feelings towards our trio of characters are pretty much summed up as “yeah, everything’s gonna be fine. we’re totally okay with them and whatever excuses they came up with, I will gobble them up as if they’re truth even though some of it sounds pretty sketchy what with the devastating aftermath”. Honestly, you’ll see what I mean if you read the ending. Just…I’d rather there’d be a 3rd book on Vika/Nikolai/Pasha if it meant doing it right.

But who knows? Skye is trying to write a 3rd book. And if she does, I hope it’ll be on new characters in this setting ’cause I’m getting way too sick of reading a plot that seems to have dried up fairly early on.

Overall Recommendation:
I’m not sure if I feel more disappointed or apathetic, but The Crown’s Fate just didn’t meet my expectations in anyway. Even with further demonstrations of Skye’s knowledge and love for Russian history and culture, the main storyline faltered in way too many places. The romance, while devoid of true love triangle madness, was too quick without driving home the real chemistry between the characters. The main story arcs were slow and resolved in a rushed manner at the end that felt so anticlimactic. I may be a bit biased as I didn’t love its predecessor, but this novel just wasn’t any better. I don’t know if I’d necessarily recommend it, but if you enjoyed The Crown’s Game, it’s still worthwhile to at least complete this series.

May 2017 Book Haul

So this is my very first book haul that I’m actually sharing on this blog. Honestly, these days I barely go out to buy books, but nothing beats retail (book) therapy to get this girl’s heart beating again with joy. Seriously. The excitement level is like a child inside a candy store (if you’re into that kinda thing – otherwise picture a child running free at some amusement park). And so the great sales I got on these books over the weekend just had to be worth sharing here. Granted, I haven’t read most of these books yet, so your opinions would be greatly appreciated.

Here goes.

  • Defy by Sara B. Larson

Indefy -sara b larson hindsight, I really enjoyed this book more than my initial review and rating might’ve let on, so a paperback version of this novel was worth the money in my opinion (although even paperbacks are unfairly expensive these days too…does anyone remember a time when you can buy a paperback for less than $10? This girl does!! Where can I find a way to save money even on these books??)

Defy, in case you haven’t read it yet, had a storyline centred on a girl pretending she had to be a guy. I got a very She’s the Man kinda vibe going on when I read it – if it wasn’t a comedy, that is. Basically, a girl who fights as the prince’s guard gets sucked into some nefarious plan to overthrow the kingdom while trying to keep her identity a secret from both the prince and her closest friend. That’s right. You sniffed a love triangle out! But I promise you, it didn’t suck as much as I thought it would. So maybe it’s totally worth a read for any one of you who loves a lighthearted fantasy from a debut author.

 

  • Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Does this even warrant much of an explanation? I came across this series, which as I always and forever lara jean -jenny hanunderstood it at the time was supposed to be a standalone novel that you know, STOPPED, at To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (totally not complaining…). But I don’t totally regret the fact that it continued on…much. Though I was very much excited to see how my favourite ship was going on there. Crossing my fingers! Anyway, if you want a contemporary that’s both fun and deliciously sweet, with a beautiful mix of diversity thrown into it with Lara Jean’s half-Korean ancestry, Jenny Han does a beautiful job with this series (so far).

Honestly, I went into the bookstore for the sole reason of hoping to purchase this book. It better be good. hope I’m not gonna eat my words. At least it was on sale (this is me trying to console myself).

 

  • Landry Park by Bethany Hagen

landry park -bethany hagenThis dystopian has been on my distant radar for a long while now. I kept telling myself to get it at some point, but with it being a hardcover for only $6 and in decent condition, I found myself asking, Why not, huh? The kind of tropes that the synopsis gives me (a girl living in the more privileged society finds out more about the unfortunate group in her world who survives off of what’s left for them – oh no, what’s she gonna do about it?) brings to mind so many different stories that’ve popped up in recent years. I don’t believe the series (I didn’t even know it was more than a standalone novel earlier) really got too much attention but I’m excited to see if it’s as good as similar plots. And hopefully won’t regret my $6.

 

  • The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Yep, this book is on a lot of my lists. Including my list of the-unexpected-everything-morgan-matsonI-wish-I-read-this-in-2016. Yet I found myself always hesitant in reading this one. I adored Since You’ve Been Gone, and maybe I’m just nervous that nothing else by Matson would ever compare to the adventure whirlwind that was for me.

I’m actually not 100% sure what this book is about beyond what the cover (and the very vague synopsis description) portrays. Sounds like a great summer read about a girl who has her life turned around due to some scandal and now walks dogs (which sounds pretty awesome to me…compared to sitting in a cubicle all day long for work). But hey, no matter how it turns out for me, opinion-wise, I’m pretty sure getting this hardcover for $6 was unheard of, and in fairly amazing condition too! A total score on this book haul amidst all the usual less popular books that the bookstore wanted to get rid of (’cause honestly, why else would they be willing to sell them for so much less? You can probably tell I’m pretty jaded when it comes to businesses)

 

  • Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

lair of dreams -libba brayQuick admission. I honestly bought this one for the value as I’m pretty sure I never picked up its 1st book (yes, I bought book 2 without reading book 1, so sue me) ’cause it seemed a little scary. Didn’t help that most reviewers I read said it’s best not to read at night – which you know, is my favourite time of day (or night) to be picking up a book. Gonna be problematic. But anyway, I’m a total sucker for beautiful world building, particularly those set in a certain historical time period. With supernatural happenings mixed in to create a historical fantasy, it got me comparing more recently to Alison Goodman’s The Dark Days Club series that I raved and raved about. So maybe I will summon up the courage to read this and book 1…but first, let’s just admire the VALUE I got this book at. Trust me, you never see such a good sale for a book I actually know of and would read.

 

  • The Secrets of Attraction by Robin Constantine

Last but not least, another contemporary also the secrets of attraction -robin constantineworth a beautiful price. Such a steal. I first got exposed to Robin Constantine last year when I *almost* got to review her arc for The Season of You & Me. Unfortunately, due to some weird technical error on my Kindle, it the eARC never got sent to my device (no matter how many times I pressed the darn button to send to it). So I’ve been curious about her work ever since then. This one sounds like a typical boy-meets-girl-omgwhat’sgonnahappennext? kinda story, which I find myself more inclined to read in the warm depths of summer (when I’m wishing I wasn’t at work and could just be relaxing like these kids are doing).

 

Here’s a quick snapshot of my little haul. Honestly, I’m quite happy staring at this. A little poorer (oh well), but these days a hardcover can cost $25 so who am I to complain anyway? Gotta support those authors. Let me know if you’ve read any of these books before and what you think/thought of them! I’d love to hear your opinions before diving into them over the course of the next few weeks (please tell me they’re good I’d settle for decent quality)

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P.S. you can look forward to seeing reviews up in the next few days on Evelyn Skye’s The Crown’s Game and its almost-released sequel The Crown’s Fate as it hits stores next week.