5 star, YA

Review: Lore by Alexandra Bracken

From the #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Darkest Minds comes a sweepingly ambitious, high-octane tale of power, destiny, love and redemption.

Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.

Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.

The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.



“You may be done with the Agon, but I don’t think it’s done with you.”

Lore is one of my favourite reads so far this year, a beautifully written story mixing the best parts of The Hunger Games and Percy Jackson.

Nine Greek gods fight to survive every seven years on earth, an event known as the Agon, losing their immortality so that new victors can be crowned with that god’s powers if they succeed in killing them. This was such an interesting premise, but by far the best part came from how Bracken integrated all the pieces together.

Continue reading “Review: Lore by Alexandra Bracken”
4.5 star, adult

Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere | Rakuten Kobo Australia

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned–from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren–an enigmatic artist and single mother–who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

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

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood–and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.



I don’t know what I was expecting when I picked up this book, but I was honestly blown away by what I read! Immediately after picking it up, my friend told me: it’s slow-paced, but with amazing character development (I totally agree). Well alright, I thought, I can handle slow-paced. But in all honesty, I was fascinated by the story from the get-go, and didn’t look back at all. It was a complete page-turner for me, and this novel truly has a lot to offer.

Little Fires Everywhere follows a couple of protagonists, but it mainly follows the story of teenaged Pearl and her mother Mia moving into Shaker Heights, a peculiar community with tightly controlled rules and regulations to maintain the image of a perfect community. They rent a house from the affluent Richardsons, and slowly but surely, the juxtaposed family lives (think Parasite!) mix together until the point where one cannot tell whose has melted into whose. This idyllic situation gets torn asunder when the community is divided on the custody of an Asian baby – which is better for the baby: a struggling single biological mother who abandoned her or an affluent white family so very desperate for a child?

This novel truly explores all the intricacies of such a situation, and just how complex it can get between the ethics, legalities and human empathy. Meanwhile, trouble stirs between the Richardsons and their tenants when the town conflict arises. Little Fires Everywhere is truly an apt title (and is in fact, mentioned on like, the third page) and fires and flames are a huge theme throughout this whole story. Ng makes great use of imagery and symbolism, and I truly enjoyed how the story was so cleverly woven together. If you keep an eye out, there are so many little tidbits to catch, and what could be more exciting than all these Easter eggs left for you by the author?!

As part of the Asian community myself, I quickly found myself wondering what I myself would have done or thought in that situation, and I was honestly just as stumped as everyone in the book. I can understand both sides, and see the unfortunate situation that has arisen between two equally desperate parties. I thought this issue was well addressed and really explored an issue that is more rare in the literary world, and so in that sense I am glad that Ng brings it to life in such an interesting manner. I think regardless of race and background, you too will find yourself caught in the situation presented, unable to fully decide which side should have the upper hand. Find out for yourself on this exciting adventure!

There’s also a TV series based on this book (I believe only on Hulu) – if any of you have read the book and watched the series, let me know! I am unable to access Hulu here, but I would love to know how the adaptation is. Please comment below if you know!

Overall Recommendations:

Another book I would highly recommend! Little Fires Everywhere follows the story of a poor nomadic family renting from an affluent one in a quirky town full of rules, which ends up divided over the custody of an abandoned baby. Full of deep characters that are explored ingeniously, and complicated intertwining relationships, this novel also includes some discussion of racial issues and politics! I would especially recommend this to Asian readers, as I think the conflict at hand would be truly relatable, and is not a topic often explored. But regardless, I found that this was a beautiful and evocative story, truly highlighting the highs and low of humanity.

5 star, YA

ARC Review: Game Changer by Neal Shusterman

All it takes is one hit on the football field, and suddenly Ash’s life doesn’t look quite the way he remembers it.

Impossible though it seems, he’s been hit into another dimension—and keeps on bouncing through worlds that are almost-but-not-really his own.

The changes start small, but they quickly spiral out of control as Ash slides into universes where he has everything he’s ever wanted, universes where society is stuck in the past…universes where he finds himself looking at life through entirely different eyes.

And if he isn’t careful, the world he’s learning to see more clearly could blink out of existence…



**Game Changer comes out February 9, 2021!**

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

That basic human need for identity is, and has always been, a double-edged sword. Because the closer to our feet we draw that line in the sand, the more we see everyone else as the enemy.

I don’t have any coherent words to say, but I will do my utmost best.

Game Changer is a different kind of story than Neal’s other books, but at the same time, I totally see how it is in his wheelhouse of ideas. While I have seen other early reviewers calling it preachy and taking on too much, I think this was the author’s way of dealing with the wreckage that was 2020. I mean, even COVID was mentioned briefly as a defining moment of history. Like, hey, remember the year everyone went into lockdown due to COVID? Yep. Not sure if I’m ready to see this mentioned in my fictional books, but I totally understand at the same time.

We follow Ash, full name Ashley, a football lineman. I know next to nothing about football – I’m sorry it’s not my country’s sport? – but this isn’t a football-focused story. It’s just the vehicle by which Ash finds himself hurtling through different dimensions of the same world if certain changes or decisions were unmade. I know, this sounds super vague but bear with me.

At first it may be a little confusing to get into. What? Different worlds? Trust me, you just got to hang in there. The changes initially start small. Just one small detail Ash notices that wasn’t the same as what he previously knew the world to be like. However, no one else in his circle of family, friends or townspeople can recall these changes. It’s like the world never made those decisions and Ash is the only one who remembers a different reality where it existed.

I always admire Neal for his ingenuity and creative thinking. I like this take on multi dimensions. And with each dimension Ash accidentally jumps into, the larger the changes and the more drastic consequences. The interactions and events that occur in each dimension’s timeline are still remembered in the new dimension, but with altered memories to fit the narrative of what that world looks like. Yes, it’s a bit complicated but it’s interesting once we’re there.

Now, where do the more negative reviews stem from? This book tackles A LOT of big issues. Racism and segregation, homophobia and hate crimes, sexism and emotional/physical abuse, it’s a lot to learn and take in for just one of these let alone ALL of these. I get that.

BUT I also see where the author is coming from. I don’t see it from the stance that he fully explored each topic in depth (of course he didn’t), but to showcase how imperfect our world is and what more we need to work on as a society together. Yes, sometimes you may feel called out on our own privileges and our ignorance. I think that’s the point. Neal Shusterman’s books always make us think beyond just the story itself to what our own reality and life is like. What makes us tick. What breaks us apart. What builds us up together. It’s the beauty of it!

I can promise you, the ending isn’t just a white-saviour complex whereby Ash, a white dude, saves everything and all is good in the world. No, the point is that there is still a lot to be done and it starts by each of us owning our own biases and figuring out what we CAN do besides just silently agreeing. The ending is hope.

I personally loved the way Neal introduced, not necessarily solved or fully addressed, each social issue we have through Ash’s eyes. I don’t feel called out by it but invigorated to learn more and do more in my life. I hope you pick up this book and feel the same. Let’s not just get defensive but let it bring us to discuss these things to learn and DO something about it.

I have been schooled in my own ignorance. That’s not a bad thing…Perhaps, in the end, that’s the perspective that matters. Only by being humbled can we ever hope to be great.

Ashley Bowman

Overall Recommendation:

Game Changer is one of those books that stay long with you after its final pages are turned. Juggling many things at once, it delicately balances the need to show us the imperfections of our society and world while emphasizing the optimism and hope that we can do better as a whole together. Shusterman excellently throws these perspectives together in a story of multi dimensions through one boy’s eyes. Following Ash’s journey as he unravels his own ignorance and views of the world is eye-opening and guaranteed to shine a light on our own perspectives as we journey with him. What a read indeed!