Book Reviews

Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey | Book Review

Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey. Once Upon a Time, #15.

My copy: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division), February 2012. Paperback, 199 pages. [From Once omnibus.]

Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

Wielding a sword as deftly as an embroidery needle, Mulan is unlike any other girl in China. When the emperor summons a great army, each family must send a male to fight, tom-boyish Mulan is determined to spare her aging father and bring her family honor, so she disguises herself and answers the call.

But Mulan never expects to find a friend, let alone a soul mate, in the commander of her division, Prince Jian. For all of Mulan’s courage with a bow and arrow, is she brave enough to share her true identity and feelings with Prince Jian?


Thoughts on Wild Orchid:

It’s so short. I wanted this to be longer! 200 pages for a Mulan telling just was NOT enough.

As in <200 pages short. I really appreciated the long set-up so that we could learn about Mulan as a person and see the relationships she had with her family and friends. But because of the lengthy introduction, the story began very slow — and then it felt like the actual war story was super condensed. Mulan doesn’t leave for war until more than 100 pages in! And then the romance felt very rushed and insta-lovey and thin, even if it was sweet.

Continue reading “Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey | Book Review”

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday [#41] — Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine.


What book am I eagerly anticipating at this moment? Why it just so happens to be…

Flame in the Mist
by Renee Ahdieh

Releases May 16th, 2017 from G.P. Putnam’s Sons BFYR

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Synopsis:

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she’s quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she’s ever known.


Asian setting! Specifically Japan. Which means samurai. And there’s a girl pretending to be a boy. Which will definitely confuse the heck out of her two love interests — I’m assuming it’ll be a love triangle, since both boys were mentioned in the blurb. I’m okay with that, if it’s done well. But the best part of all… apparently this is a Mulan retelling???!!!!! Except… Mulan is a Chinese legend, and this story is set in Japan??? Like, why? Why can’t you set a Mulan retelling in China? Well, apparently this is ALSO a 47 Ronin retelling, so a mash-up of two stories, and 47 Ronin is set in Japan. So I guess that’s why Renee Ahdieh chose to set her story in Japan, perhaps the 47 Ronin elements are more prevalent than the Mulan elements. But still… as a Chinese American always looking for protagonists who are of Chinese heritage, this disappoints me a bit. Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to Flame in the Mist. I’ve never read a Mulan retelling of any kind, so this should be interesting.


Are you looking forward to reading Flame in the Mist?
What can’t you wait to read right now?

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Book Reviews

Serpentine by Cindy Pon | Book Review

Serpentine by Cindy Pon. Serpentine, #1.

My copy: Month9Books, September 2015. Hardcover, 274 pages.

Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

Inspired by the rich history of Chinese mythology, this sweeping fantasy is set in the ancient Kingdom of Xia and tells the coming of age story of Skybright, a young girl who worries about her growing otherness. As she turns 16, Skybright notices troubling changes. By day, she is a companion and handmaid to the youngest daughter of a very wealthy family. But nighttime brings with it a darkness that not even daybreak can quell. When her plight can no longer be denied, Skybright learns that despite a dark destiny, she must struggle to retain her sense of self – even as she falls in love for the first time.


Friendship. Skybright, the heroine of the story, is best friends, practically sisters, with Zhen Ni, who she helps as a handmaiden. The girls share an incredibly strong bond, having grown up together. It’s a friendship full of love in a totally platonic way. They’re just two girls who would fight the world and the underworld for each other. They do have their bumps and rough patches, especially when another girl comes into the picture, but I loved how much they genuinely cared about each other, and how they valued each other’s opinions. The only thing I didn’t like was the fact that Skybright didn’t feel secure enough to trust Zhen Ni with her big secret. I really believe Zhen Ni would have stood by Skybright’s side through all of her confusion regarding her serpent form, and I couldn’t believe that Skybright never confided in Zhen Ni.

Continue reading “Serpentine by Cindy Pon | Book Review”

Book Reviews

Dirty Little Secrets by Liliana Hart | Book Review

Dirty Little Secrets by Liliana Hart. J.J. Graves Mystery, #1.

My copy: Createspace, July 2011. Paperback, 307 pages.

Source: Own

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Synopsis:

J.J. Graves has seen a lot of dead bodies in her line of work…

She’s not only in the mortuary business, but she’s also the coroner for King George County, Virginia. When a grisly murder is discovered in the small town of Bloody Mary, it’s up to J.J. and her best friend, Detective Jack Lawson, to bring the victim justice.

The murders are piling up…

The residents of Blood Mary are dropping like flies, and when a popular mystery writer shows up on J.J.’s doorstep with plans of writing his new book about the Bloody Mary Serial Killer, J.J. has to decide if he might be going above and beyond the call of duty to create the spine tinglers he’s so well known for. It only clouds the issue and puts her reputation on the line when the attraction between them spirals out of control.

And passions are rising…

J.J and Jack are in a race against time. They discover each victim had a shocking secret, and the very foundation of J.J.’s life is in danger of crumbling when it turns out she’s harboring secrets of her own—secrets that make her the perfect victim in a deadly game.


Dirty Little Secrets started off as a small town who-dun-it mystery, which I wish it’d kept more to. Instead, we got lots of love triangle angst and frequent steamy scenes (nothing gratuitous, but I was like, hey, aren’t you supposed to be solving a murder?) and I wondered if I was reading a mystery or a romance at times. Which wasn’t a bad thing at all. I just wasn’t expecting the romance. I suppose I prefer my mysteries purely focused on the mystery.

Continue reading “Dirty Little Secrets by Liliana Hart | Book Review”

Top Ten Tuesday

Amazing books I gobbled up in one sitting | Top Ten Tuesday [#23]

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.


The following are 4 and 5 star books I remember reading in one sitting because they were so good. I’m leaving off graphic novels and manga simply because visual books are usually pretty quick reads. Click on a title to read my review! Now, onto the list…


The Top Ten (*cough* twelve):

Continue reading “Amazing books I gobbled up in one sitting | Top Ten Tuesday [#23]”

Book Reviews

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones | Book Review

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones.

My copy: Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin’s Griffin), February 2017. Hardcover, 436 pages.

Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

Dark, romantic, and unforgettable, Wintersong is an enchanting coming-of-age story for fans of Labyrinth and The Beauty and the Beast.

The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride…

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.

But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds—and the mysterious man who rules it—she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

Rich with music and magic, S. Jae-Jones’s Wintersong will sweep you away into a world you won’t soon forget.


Liesl, a gifted composer, has always lived in the shadow of her younger siblings. Her brother, Josef, is a violin virtuoso. Her sister, Kathe, is an absolute beauty. However, the three siblings all care deeply about one another, and when Kathe is captured by the Goblin King, Liesl embarks on a journey to bring her sister back to the world of the living.

Continue reading “Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones | Book Review”

Tags, Awards & Challenges

The St. Patrick’s Day Book Tag!

Tags, Awards & Challenges

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Not gonna even be ashamed: I was tagged a whole year ago and am just now answering the questions. Thank you Nora, for tagging me. Sorry it’s super late! (This tag was originally created by Emily from Embuhlee Liest.)


1. End of the rainbow: What book did you have a hard time tracking down a copy of?

Okay, so I have a story for you. A long, long time ago, little Mallory was obsessed with dolphins. And whales. But especially dolphins, to the point where she made her own little “dolphin facts newsletter” that she typed up, printed on ombre blue paper, and sent through the post to her friends. Little Mallory was a bit scary, actually.

ANYWAY. Mallory’s mother randomly came across a middle-grade book called Dolphin Diaries by Ben M. Baglio, and the first book was called Into the Blue. Little Mallory became even more obsessed and read the heck out of that book. And then nagged and nagged her mother to take her to the bookstore to buy the second installment, called Touching the Waves. Well, soon Mallory was addicted to these books about a girl who goes on a year-long expedition with her marine biologist parents to research dolphins. Except… it became harder and harder to track down the books as they progressed through the series. Mind you, this was when Barnes and Noble and Borders were still booming. And after a while, Mallory couldn’t find the later books stocked. So she had to ask her mother to order the books from Amazon, which her mother so kindly did, but little Mallory was an impatient tree frog and it just about killed her waiting for the next Dolphin Diaries book.

That was my earliest recollection of having a hard time finding/acquiring a book. But now you know all about Dolphin Diaries, one of my most beloved childhood series ever. Dolphin Diaries will always have a special place in my heart. ❤

Continue reading “The St. Patrick’s Day Book Tag!”

Book Reviews

Scorched by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Mini Review

Scorched by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Frigid, #2.

My copy: Spencer Hill Press, June 2015. Paperback, 238 pages.

Source: Library.

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Read my review of Frigid, book #1, here.

Synopsis:

Sometimes life leaves a mark.

Most days, Andrea doesn’t know whether she wants to kiss Tanner or punch him in the gut. He is seriously hot, with legit bedroom eyes and that firefighter body of his, but he’s a major player, and they can’t get along for more than a handful of minutes. Until now.

Tanner knows he and Andrea have had an epic love/hate relationship for as long as he can remember, but he wants more love than hate from her. He wants her. Now. Tomorrow. But the more he gets to know her, the more it becomes obvious that Andrea has a problem. She’s teetering on the edge, and every time he tries to catch her, she slips through his fingers.

Andrea’s life is spiraling out of control, and it doesn’t matter that Tanner wants to save her, because when everything falls apart and she’s speeding toward rock bottom, only she can save herself.

Sometimes life makes you work for that happily ever after…


Andrea and Tanner… these two are exhausting. Super entertaining, but so very tiring. Hot-cold, hot-cold… but it was interesting to read a romance where the characters annoyed the hell out of each other, played hard to get, and basically made it IMPOSSIBLE for the other person to know what the heck was going on. Jennifer L. Armentrout knows how to write romance well, and I love how she always adds something else in there that gives the characters real reasons for their crazy antics or that required “why we can’t be together/poor communication” phase.

Scorched in a companion to Frigid, which featured Sydney and Kyler. I liked Frigid more than Scorched, but I ate Scorched up in one sitting, as I do for all of JLA’s books. It’s fast-paced, sexy, but also down to earth and really touching. If you like New Adult romances and you haven’t read any JLA (or J. Lynn, as she sometimes goes by), give these books a shot. I like JLA’s books because they have real meat to them, usually due to the characters, and I’ve tried other NA books that never left a lasting impression. Scorched is definitely hot, so keep a little hand fan nearby for when the tension heightens. ♦


Have you read Scorched?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s a fun romance you read in one sitting?
Comment below letting me know!

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Book Reviews

One by Sarah Crossan & Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen | Mini Reviews

One by Sarah Crossan.

My copy: Greenwillow Books (Harper Collins Publishers), September 2015. Hardcover, 388 pages.

Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

Grace and Tippi. Tippi and Grace. Two sisters. Two hearts. Two dreams. Two lives. But one body.

Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins, joined at the waist, defying the odds of survival for sixteen years. They share everything, and they are everything to each other. They would never imagine being apart. For them, that would be the real tragedy.

But something is happening to them. Something they hoped would never happen. And Grace doesn’t want to admit it. Not even to Tippi.

How long can they hide from the truth—how long before they must face the most impossible choice of their lives?


Conjoined twins. Sisters Grace and Tippi. Them joining the harsh waters of high school. Falling in love for the first time. These are just the broad topics One touches on. This is a beautiful verse novel about family, friends, and feeling like the world is out to get you because you’re different.

It took me a little while to get into the book’s rhythm, as the poems at first felt sort of plain, as if a paragraph had been written and then the enter button had been hit at the best moments. But once I started to like Grace and Tippi and feel invested in their story, I was a goner and couldn’t read fast enough.

The story is quite predictable, which does make the ending expected but it doesn’t hurt any less. But One is a beautiful, unique, well-researched book that I highly recommend to anyone. I’m so glad I finally read it. It’s memorable and relatable, and I really really enjoyed experiencing Grace and Tippi’s story. ♦


Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen.

My copy: Philomel Books (Penguin Group), June 2015. Hardcover, 341 pages.

Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

A heartrending, bold novel in verse about family, identity, and forgiveness

Mira is just beginning her senior year of high school when she discovers her father with his male lover. Her world–and everything she thought she knew about her family–is shattered instantly. Unable to comprehend the lies, betrayal, and secrets that–unbeknownst to Mira–have come to define and keep intact her family’s existence, Mira distances herself from her sister and closest friends as a means of coping. But her father’s sexual orientation isn’t all he’s kept hidden. A shocking health scare brings to light his battle with HIV. As Mira struggles to make sense of the many fractures in her family’s fabric and redefine her wavering sense of self, she must find a way to reconnect with her dad–while there is still time.
Told in raw, exposed free verse, Skyscraping reminds us that there is no one way to be a family.


I was perusing the shelves at my library when the title caught my eye: Skyscraping. So I picked it up and flipped it open — and was excited to see it was a verse novel, a book told in free verse poetry! Skyscraping ended up being a terrific read I took a chance on, having never heard of it before — and because I rarely read blurbs, let’s be real here, I go into 95% of the books I read blind. Skyscraping is a hidden gem, a gorgeous but sad story about a girl growing up in New York City whose father falls ill with AIDS.

I loved how relatable Mira was. I grew up in New York City, and it wasn’t too long ago that I was also applying to colleges and not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. What a really loved about this book was its excellent and realistic portrayals of relationships, and how you can love someone but you don’t always show it or think they show it. Skyscraping is a memorable book that I totally recommend if you can handle the emotions that are sure to eat away at you. ♦


Have you read One?
How about Skyscraping?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What is a good verse novel you’ve read?
Comment below letting me know!

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