American Panda

35297380American Panda by Gloria Chao


Mei is 17 and starting at MIT to become a doctor that she has always wanted to be her parents have pushed her to do. While struggling with the fact that she is a legitimate germaphobe going through premed she starts to discover that maybe everything that her parents think is the best for her just might not be exactly what she wants for her life. Like starting a dance studio, or *shock* dating a non Chinese boy.


The Story

As a Filipino American I am completely drawn to a story about any Asian American. While I am only half, there are some strong stereotypes that follow me around that had me relating to a lot of what she struggled with as far as Asian stereotyping went. Unfortunately, I don’t always agree with sometimes with the “it’s okay for me to say this because I am also *insert stereotyped group of people here*. Like, yeah, sometimes it’s funny to mutually tease about some social restrictions a particular culture has, then there are some instances where a stereotype is poked at without out being necessary. I only bring this up for one particular reason in this book: her mom can’t drive. Since this book was chock full of Chinese slams, I was irrationally annoyed by the fact that it is clearly pointed out that her mom can’t park and has yet another dent on the bumper. I was totally fine reading about the peculiar food, homeopathic traditions, racial restrictions, etc because that is something that is very particular to this situations. However, there are plenty of non Asian women that can’t drive too soooo….

Anyway, so if you didn’t get it from the rant above, this book has a lot of stereotypes that many people may be aware of and even some peculiar things that they had never heard of. Yes, a lot of it is pretty funny. Since I am part Asian it definitely was a little relatable. I think that most of the stereotypes weren’t too much in the face either though, and were lightly explained in a way that anyone, whether they go through something similar or not, can at least understand.

The fact that she is struggling against what her parents want is really just a base for the rest of her issues stem from. Does she really want to become a doctor so that she “always has a job” and wont have to worry about money? Does she really want to not talk to her brother anymore? Does she really not want to pursue a relationship with the cute Japanese boy who is showing interest in her?  I love how it all really stems back to how she struggles with separating herself from how she was raised to how she really wants to be, regardless if it will disappoint her parents.

I did think it was a little strange that as far as school went she was mostly just struggling with the germs, I mean she mostly just hopped right into college courses just fine and I think that going to a school like MIT would have had a little bit more of an adjustment, even if she was having regular check ins with her parents.


The Characters

I think one of my favorite things about all that Mei struggles with isn’t just about not getting money from her parents, but more of being conscious of what they had sacrificed for her and understanding them rather than just going against them. It’s not that she doesn’t understand that they have their traditional values, but rather she isn’t quite as traditional as them. I just thought it spoke volumes of how she differs from a typical rebellious kid.


The Soundtrack

Daya – Dare

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Instructions for a Secondhand Heart

34848810Instructions for a Secondhand Heart by Tamsyn Murray


“And I ache for her, because I want nothing more than to help, but I don’t know if I can. Leo brought us together, but he’s also standing between us. Or at least, his heart is.”

After receiving a transplant Jonny can’t help but try to find out who he is by finding out about the boy who donated his heart to him. Neve is battling grieving over her twin Leo after he dies because she spent so much time when he was alive in his shadow, and even now she can’t escape the constant reminder about how amazing he was. That is till Jonny comes by saying all the wrong things and still stealing her heart.

The Story

I was a little skeptical to start another YA contemporary romance involving a kid who gets a heart transplant because I thought I would compare it so much with Things We Know by Heart too much. Fortunately it was just barely there nagging at my mind, and though there are some parts that are similar in story, it really was different, and still really good.

Told in alternating POV we get to see both Jonny’s and Neve’s stories unfold. From the start my cold, stubborn heart became invested in the characters. The chapters were super short but hitting directly where it was going to hurt the most. Each chapter really brought about the struggle that both characters were going through, and how they eventually come together.

Extra points for the additional comic books from Jonny, it really added just that extra bit of flair that makes this book extra special and really help develop the character.

The Characters

Neve- a part of me really wanted to hate this girl. I like that from the beginning she has accepted that she was basically the grouchy child that gave her parents a hard time because her twin Leo had outshone her so much. Even through the grief of her twin dying she still sticks to the attitude that she had developed from living in his shadow. It was incredibly heartbreaking seeing how much survivor guilt she had because of the way her parents treated both of them so differently, and how she can never ever try to beat him again.

Jonny-Okay, so despite what he does in the book, this kid is ridiculously naive and sweet. My heart hurt so much when he was trying to just figure himself out after being the sick hospital kid. Murray does such a good job using subtle moments to really drive that in, like when he is teased for having all new brand name clothes and he really didn’t know what his style was. I loved how he battled with what he thought was right and how he ended up feeling, and even how he felt about getting a transplant in general.

“Sometimes I wish the surgeons could remove my real heart and leave me with this artificial one forever. Then I wouldn’t feel so guilty about wishing for a tragedy to happen to someone I’ve never met. I’d be genuinely heartless then, instead of only feeling like I am.”


Machine Gun Kelly feat Hailee Steinfeld – At My Best


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Poison’s Cage

34371260Poison’s Cage (Poison’s Kiss #2) by Breeana Shields


“Each weapon is a work of art, and I wonder what drives the impulse to make the instruments of death so beautiful.” 

Marinda and Iyla infiltrate the Naga in an attempt to kill the Nagaraja. They somehow continue to work with each other despite the lies that are woven into their lives and plans. They can hardly trust each other but still continue to rely on each other as their missions unfold.

The Story– I liked how this story of a vish kanya was still able to continue as the girls essentially aim to overtake the organization that turned them into monsters. The story flows easily and like the first book, was a very easy read. There really weren’t many dull moments as our characters are metaphorically thrown into a pit of snakes and are never quite out of danger throughout the story. It seems the entire time that the Naga are always just one step ahead of the girls.

Though the book continues my favorite aspect (the Indian/Hindu/Buddhist inspired world building) it also brought back aspects I didn’t like, that first and foremost being the romance. This time, Iyla has her chance at romance, and it seems one meeting was enough to have a hold on her heart. Though love at first sight can always be built upon, which later I am sure it is assumed the characters bond between the pages), their encounter did not seem to justify their actions before they really had a chance to get to know one another.

For me, this book was mainly triggering two things I liked: lives in imminent peril with a dash of cultural flavor. If that’s your main dish and you liked the first book then I say this is the book for you. If the somewhat bland romance is going to be a problem for you then maybe don’t put this at the top of your to-be-read list. However, with that being said, let me reiterate that this book isn’t focused on the romance but more of comradery between Marinda & Iyla and how it is challenged.

The World Building– Although the first book set up the world with the vish kanya, this book gave a little more information regarding the Nagaraja, Tiger Queen, Crocodile King, and Garuda. I always have extra love for a book that incorporates real culture or folklore into its story, and this is no exception. There is something intriguing about transforming an idea to fit into another story, especially when it’s not your typical westernized/European/medieval style folklore. I do wish there was just a smidge more about the other factions, though, it would be expected that it would focus on the Naga. I did appreciate that Garuda had a slightly bigger role (since Garuda is an enemy to the Naga), and that even though typically is seen as male was written as female! Yay, girl power! I loved how Shields portrays their true forms as well. The concept made the Raksaka seem much more present and fearful.

The Characters-Iyla really stood out in this book, and for me was more the main character than Marinda. Again, I didn’t care much for her romance, though the girl does deserve to have someone she isn’t just trying to trick. Overall her character’s spirit and conviction is what shines the most. Though Marinda fights tooth and nail for Mani and occasionally for Iyla, Iyla is still the much better friend of the two.

I felt that Deven was really lack luster in this book. His character didn’t really do much of anything, and also just didn’t seem to fit. He’s supposed to be a prince, but didn’t really act very or do anything very princely.

The Soundtrack– The Dear Hunter – The Poison Woman

ARC provided by Random House via Netgalley for a fair review

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25081261Poison’s Kiss  (Poison’s Kiss #1) by Breeana Shields



24473763Radiance (Wraith Kings #1) by Grace Draven


“He saw her as she’d always seen herself – as simply Ildiko. For her, it was enough; for him, a gift beyond price.” 

As the “spares” in the royal hierarchy both Ildiko and Brishen both did not expect a marriage of importance. To solidify an alliance, Ildiko a human is married to Brishen a Kai. Though one is natural to day and the other natural to night, they learn that even coming from different backgrounds their hearts soon become entwined.

The Story– This book is the definition of a slow burning romance. Really, although there are a few moments in the book not spent getting to know each other, nothing really happens….the whole time. With that said, it’s still incredibly easy to gobble this up and watch as Ildiko and Brishen adapt to each other. Since they are mutually repulsed by each other, it was a joy to see how their hearts changed the way their eyes saw each other.

Disclaimer:The epilogue sets the pretense for the next book and therefore may be construed as a cliffhanger.

Also, to be clear, I hate this book cover. I have seen good reviews on this, but thought it the perfect book when I saw that the 2018 POPSUGAR book challenge included “a book with an ugly cover”. So even though this isn’t the ugliest I still consider my ugly book cover accomplished.

The World Building– The only world building is really spent on the Kai culture. The small details that make a wraith race seem a little more magical really helped with accepting the inter species romance more palatable. Having the POV change from Ildiko to Brishen really made a unique story as you got to see each of their cultures through a stranger’s eye.

The Characters– Okay, let me just say I love both of our main characters. BUT, they are just too perfect. Ildiko is just too adaptable and accepting. Brishen is just too respectful and admirable. Our characters pretty much had zero flaws except for the fact that they weren’t more important to their kingdom.

The Soundtrack– Radiohead – Creep


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Batman: Nightwalker

29749090Batman: Nightwalker (DC Icons #2) by Marie Lu

Before he became Batman, he was just Bruce Wayne. He was just a rich orphan raised essentially by a butler. A kid with a fortune and company to inherit and a penchant for justice.


The Story– Okay, so as far as origin stories I was really looking forward to this one, as Batman is my favorite super hero (between Marvel & DC). It was really nice to get a story behind Bruce aside from memories of his parents being shot, pearl necklace breaking, hiding in cave (falling into a well) full of bats that come in little flashbacks. Through this review I may or may not mention some unmarked spoilers regarding Batman in general, I am assuming that it is common knowledge for any Batman fan.

The World Building– Marie Lu kept a consistent idea of Gotham having a rich side and a ghetto side that matched that most fans would be familiar with. Throughout the book she often referenced to how sketchy or eerie Arkam Asylum was as well as the rest of the city. I love that she even mentioned on the sly Metropolis, another major city within the DC universe where the famed Superman resides as an adult.

I was happy to see that the technology that Wayne Tech was producing wasn’t too far fetched and stayed within reasonable limits of our current technology. It wasn’t anything that could not be imagined or so extreme that it seemed futuristic. Having Bruce’s role as a recent graduate and interning at the company opens up the plausibility that he would have been introduced as well as access to the equipment that would inspire him and assist him in becoming Batman. Although, I was disappointed in finding that Marie Lu only mentions the bats in passing as Bruce admires the creatures and the caves they reside in as a comment, and only eluding that he becomes Batman later because of his name and the equipment he used in the book. She does, however, offer us a little bit of a background that supports his ability to fight.

One thing that I don’t like about Marie Lu’s writing is her romance. I’m not sure why I thought it would be any different in this book, but somehow she makes the romantic relationships appear so shallow with little interaction that would actually build anything more than say a crush. In reality, would these brief conversations actually have someone reconsidering their actions?

The Characters-Bruce seemed like such a normal kid, despite his riches and history. I liked that he wasn’t full fledged into justice and criminal law, but had a slight interest because of his history and his friend’s histories. Bruce is constantly experiencing interactions where he is either being used or someone being twisted either by his friends or by the assumed villain. It follows the format where he somehow gets too involved with his villains to the point where he ends up making a mistake or aiding in their plans somehow, and having to clean up the mess that he helped make.

As for other characters, there were quite a few base characters that were introduced, albeit, not thoroughly written into the story as many may have wanted. Alfred seemed to be involved, but lacked his spunky personality. We also were introduced to Lucius Fox, Commissioner Jim Gordon, as well as future villain Harvey Dent. For fans, we know Harvey to later become Two-Face. So the book not only played as an origin for Batman, but also for one of his later enemies. In fact, Marie Lu even wiggled in some foreshadowing to his playing with coins on his finger which was always an endearing attribute for the villain for me.

The Soundtrack- Gesaffelstein – Hate or Glory


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The Last Namsara

32667458The Last Namsara (Iskari #1) by Kristen Ciccarelli


“May Death send his worst! Cold to freeze the love in my heart. Fire to burn my memories to ash. Wind to force me through his gate. And time to wear my loyalty away.” 

Asha is the Iskari. The death bringer who slays dragons to atone for breaking the law and telling the Old Stories. One final dragon could mean her freedom and forgiveness from the people she brought destruction to. However, she must learn to not be the Iskari as she learns the truth about her own story.

The Story– Dragons That’s enough to draw me in. The story is about a girl who has been told all her life that she is basically evil and is revered for being the king’s daughter but held at arms length. She is doing everything she can to remedy her actions and find the grace of her people. What she ends up finding is that everything she believed would be turned upside down and the stories that she had been banned of speaking hold more truth than she ever imagined.
This was an incredibly easy read. The chapters were short and the pacing kept the book from lagging. The only reason why I dropped a few stars was because there were just a few things, that bothered me. I just wish the background of the story was a little more forthcoming. Like what was the importance of the stories being told? – not the effects of them, but why was she drawn to it in the first place? And why was Jarek (one of the antagonists) sooooo obsessed with her. There was just a little bit more room for some depth to the book.

The World Building– Where this book sets itself apart from the rest was the culture within it. Here is a world that story telling can draw a dragon near and give it power for it’s flames. But story telling is forbidden for it gives them the power for destruction. I love how the story telling is sort of wrapped up into a religion, but not blatantly so. It gives the religious feeling because it tells the stories of the beginning, but lacks the religious feeling due to its absence of worship.

The Characters– Asha and Torwin have this slow burning bond. I love how fierce the women are in these books. They may be tamed by a marriage, but yet they are still a force to be reckoned with. I love that by the end of the book you fully understand the relationship that Asha and Torwin have developed and it is just too sweet. Readers beware, there are a lot of hand/wrist/shoulder grabbing to make people look them in the eye…you know, to really know how someone feels when they are talking to each other.

The Soundtrack-Anna of the North – Sway

The Well of Ascension

6547260The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2) by Brandon Sanderson


The Story-So I wasn’t exactly hooked on this book as much as I was the first book, but I found it still intriguing. There was enough to answer for that I had to just keep continuing on to get the answers I needed. This book had quite a few fight scenes that helped pull the length of the story along. In fact, I thought it balanced out the politicking and world building that held a majority of the book. Unfortunately, I found the ending to be quite anticlimactic. I had hoped for more war battle scenes as well as conflict surrounding the actual Well of Ascension – since that was this books namesake.

The World Building– I think a big part of this book was world development with the prophecies and how our characters tie in with it as well as other elements that are changing such as the mists and koloss. I think some of my favorite parts involved the understanding the koloss as well as learning much more about the kandra. I sincerely hope that both still play a role in the next book as well.

The Characters– There are so many characters in this book to really touch on any of them. Sazed continues to be one of my favorite characters, and I was very happy to have more chapters from him as well as character involvement within the story. The other was OreSeur. Both of these characters bring a certain loyalty that is naturally unexpected from their kind, and I found that without them, I wouldn’t have liked the book as much.

The Soundtrack– Phantogram – Celebrating Nothing, Tiesto ft Tegan and Sara – Feel it in My Bones

This was a buddy read with Bentley and Chelsea. Check these two lovelies out.


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Anything You Can Do

34044126Anything You Can Do by R.S. Grey


“The truth is, we’ve always been this way I am the Annie Oakley to his Frank Butler and I firmly believe that anything he can do, I can do better.” 

Daisy has been competing with Lucas her entire life. Taking up a position as a doctor in the only family doctor in her home town is one more way she can get the one up over him. That is until she finds out that he will also be working there. Their childish antics resume while the sparks between them start to fly.

The Story-I read this in one sitting. It was a quick, easy read and had quite a few laugh out loud moments. I love the old, hate-to-love trope, and I blame Mr. Darcy for that. Now while it was similar, I wouldn’t say it was as good as The Hating Game, but I would also still recommend to fans of it. I for sure will be checking out more books by Grey.

I only dock it a star really for some of the medical aspects that really bothered me. Really though, it’s the same sort of irks that happen when I watch any type of show with a medical setting. I am not going to point out the specifics but there were a few medical fallacies and a whole lot of medical unprofessionalism.

The Characters-Daisy is really funny. I loved reading all her ridiculous ideas of how to challenge Lucas in a way that she could win. Since there were a few featured, I really wish we could have read more than just three of Lucas’ e-mails. However, I also think it was an easy way of showing his feelings —I did appreciate the home videos towards the end that supported it though.

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Air Awakens

23127048Air Awakens  (Air Awakens #1) by Elise Kova


Air Awakens is the story of a library girl, Vhalla, who learns she has air magic, making her a Windwalker. Her naivety to the magic causes her to be fearful of it rather than proud of what she is – the first Windwalker in about 150 years. Vhalla soon starts to research more of the history of magic as well as learn more of her capabilities as a Windwalker. All the while she is entangling herself with the Crown Prince Aldrik who’s affinity is with magic.

The Story-Being the second time I have read this book, I still found it incredibly enjoyable. I love how the magical world isn’t something that is revered by the common folk, but rather feared, and it is through that fear that the story is lightly wrapped around.

The World Building-Since Vhalla didn’t really know much about magic, the world building was seamlessly intertwined with her own learning. There wasn’t a lot of info dumping all at once as her life still went on as she slowly was engrossed deeper and deeper into the magical world. There was enough history and magical ability learning that helped layout the life the Vhalla had.

The Characters-You know what is so great about this book? As it’s resolving, someone points out to Vhalla all her annoying faults as a character. The major one being how easily she trusts people and was basically clay in their hands, molding to exactly what they want her to be. Aside from her magical abilities, can we just point out that she basically has all our dream jobs of working in a royal library sneaking off to read all the time??

As much as I love this book, I can’t give it a solid 5 stars because it annoys the crap out of me whenever someone grins a lot. Prince Aldrik was either pressing his lips into a straight line or curling his mouth into a grin. Enough, stop mentioning his eyes and mouth. He is more than that!

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The Alchemists of Loom (Loom Saga #1) by Elise Kova






The Dragons of Nova (Loom Saga #2) by Elise Kova


There’s Someone Inside Your House

15797848There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins


“Students were urged to stay home, or if their parents would be at work, stay in the home of a trusted friend. It wasn’t safe to be alone.” 

Osborne High has a serial killer, as seemingly random students are viciously killed one right after the other. The police department is severely understaffed for the case, and everyone is speculating over who did it and who is next.

The Story-Guys this book was so perfect for me. I am a serious scardy cat so I can’t really do any real horror books. But I grew up with some of those major iconic high school slasher films from the late 90’s early 00’s: Scream, I know What You Did Last Summer, Final Destination, etc. If you expect this book to be like those movies…that is exactly what you’re going to get.

The BEST part of this book is that you get to read the killing from their perspective. I know that sounds really twisted, but hear me out. You know the moments when you’re watching one of these slasher films and you yell at the TV (pun intended) “There’s someone in your house!” or something of that variation and you think to myself, I would so not do that, or I would be out of there so fast. That is what makes this book fantastic. Each character has their own rationalization of why things are different than how they left it – thus falling them into the trap of the killer.

At about the half way point the story starts to drag just a little bit, but is livened up shortly after. Aside from the stress of the killings each kid has their own life going on, own worries, and of course their own hormones. It’s this recipe of teenage-ness meets serial killer that really gives that “classic” high school slasher movie vibe.

The Characters-I’m not going to specify anyone in particular here, because I honestly feel like it might give away a little bit of the story if I specify on any one student. But let me just say this, if I was ever attacked by a knife wielding psychopath I would hope that I had friends as awesome as the crew in this book.

Final Thoughts-There’s a reason why I don’t read scary books, and for the next few days my paranoid butt is going to increase the amount of times I check that the doors or windows are locked.

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