Are these Mini Review titles getting out of hand yet?
I started posting more extensive book reviews on Bookstagram this year. This is in part me trying to reinvent my Bookstagram content since I’ve been on the platform forever, but also I got rid of monthly mini reviews on the blog and sometimes just want to write shorter reviews, especially if I have a pretty photo of the books.
Anyways, follow me on Bookstagram or just read these reviews. I also started hashtagging my reviews as #TreeReads2020 which has been good motivation LOL. If you already follow me on booksta…I’m sorry for reusing my own content.
Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen
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I really enjoyed this one! I used to read a ton of YA historical fiction, but in the past few years started finding them repetitive. But, this one reminded me how much I love the genre. There are balls! Flirting! Independent women! People restricted by class! So many Jane Austen reference! All the good stuff. We follow Lady Victoria (Vicky) whose sister is getting a divorce (scandal!!) so Vicky must marry so their family’s estate doesn’t get passed to her sisters abusive ex. Meanwhile, she keeps getting rescued by her childhood friend, Tom, who is suddenly back home.
I loved seeing divorce proceedings and how Vicky’s parents supported their daughters. Vicky makes everyone read Austen’s books and it’s grand. I fell into this story easily and am happy I read this one as my first book of the year! My only complaint is that I didn’t love the love triangle. But, if you like YA historical fiction with romance and Jane Austen references galore, check this one out! 4.5/5 stars.
TW: domestic abuse & child abuse
Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin
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This book was such a fun time. I read it in two days, which for me & fantasy rarely happens. I fell into the world and the characters. The romance was awesome (hate to love, but forced into marriage? Yes please!) and I loved both of the POVs. I did not know this had witches in it before starting it or that it takes place in France (is this true? I don’t remember now lol) which were both fun surprises. Louise is such a badass and I loved how scrappy she was. I will say I did think it was a bit overhyped and I thought the romance would be more dominate; the romance plot line is still a bit more than most YA fantasy, but based on how much everyone was talking about it, I thought it would be the main plot. Overall, I was a fun and will probably read the sequel! 4/5 stars
Nice Try Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke
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This book follows Jane who is in community college to finish her high school diploma. She wants to get out of her parents’ house and the only place she can afford to rent is house orange. Which is the set of a reality show. Jane is down to be on the show, heck she could win a car. But, things start to get a bit out of control.
I was a bit underwhelmed by this one. I thought I would really enjoy it (based on a ton of positive reviews back when it first came out), but it was just fine. I liked the quirkiness and Jane’s sarcasm (at times it was too much). Some of the challenges were fun and I liked that this took place in college. I also did not know that this was told in a journal like format which was fun. But, I could not connect to the characters or get invested in the plot. The reality show idea was fine, but it wasn’t as fun as it could’ve been. It’s not fun “watching” a reality show that isn’t entertaining and you don’t care who wins. Honestly, not sure why I didn’t connect with this one and I am just disappointed I didn’t like it more. 3/5 stars
TW: suicide (attempt & discussion of)
Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson
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I’ve talked about this book extensively for my YA Fiction class and yet have barely mentioned it here on bookstagram. I finished this months ago and it was wonderful.
We follow three black teens in Brooklyn, New York during the 1990s. They have just lost Steph their friend (for two of our narrators) and brother (for our third narrator) and are desperately trying to get him a record deal. They want to honor him and share his art with the world. Suddenly all of their efforts start working and they have to keep up the front of Steph being alive. But lingering in the back of all of their minds is…why was Steph murdered?
This story was amazing! Each of our three narrators have a unique POV that all stand apart from each other. This book explores friendship, music, loss, and grief in honest ways. The plot and story are great, but what I enjoyed most was Tiffany D. Jackson’s writing. It is simple, yet profound. I wanted to underline so many quotes and had to pause after some lines because they were so good!! I need to read more from Jackson bc WOW this was awesome. I also teared up at the end bc I am a sap!!! 4.5/5 stars
Also, I did not write down the trigger warnings and can’t remember them, but TW for sure for death of friend/sibling. Sorry! I will try to do better.
There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon
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This is the spin off to When Dimple met Rishi that follows Rishi’s younger brother, Ashish, who is mourning the end of a relationship and is heartbroken and Sweetie, a fat track star.
Sweetie is tired of her mom telling her that she would be happier if she was thin, Sweetie is happy now. Meanwhile Ashish’s parents want to set him up with a nice Indian American girl and think Sweetie is the perfect choice. However, when Sweetie’s mom says no to the set up, she goes behind her parents back and starts dating Ashish.
What follows is a super fun and cute story! Sweetie is so comfortable in her own skin which was awesome to see. I also love the cover, a happy Indian American Girl with pretty colors? YES PLS!
I loved Sweetie and Ashish together and was smiling through so many of their interactions! They do fall pretty fast so beware if that isn’t your thing. If you like contemporary YA I highly recommend this one. I enjoyed this one more than Dimple and can’t wait for Pinky bc she is fab in this one. 4/5 stars
The Grace Year by Kim Liggett
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Honestly my review of this book is not going to be great because I don’t know how to put my feelings about this book into words. I was simultaneously intrigued, disturbed, and impressed with this book. It’s dark and gruesome and gave me Handmaid’s Tale vibes even though I have never watched the show or read the book and have a very limited understanding of what the plot is. I think I saw The Grace Year billed as, “The Handmaids Tale meets Mean Girls” which in my opinion, is accurate.
I only picked this one up because I saw so many positive reviews on bookstagram (thank you @mynovelmenagerie & @sfbookgirl) and one of my IRL friends told me to pick it up. I don’t really like dystopian novels so I was skeptical, but picked it up for my YA class because I needed more variety in genres. I’m glad I did read it. I fell into the story right away and Liggett kept me guessing, the story did not go where I expected it to go. I will say reading a dystopian was hard during a pandemic and that is why it took me longer to read than I would’ve liked. I started with the audiobook and then read the last 150 pages from the physical book (idk why I made the change lol). Overall, a gripping YA novel that explores some interesting and dark themes. Also, read the acknowledgements bc the author shares what inspired her to write the novel which changed how I looked at the novel. 4/5 stars
Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne
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I knew nothing about this book except that it was billed as “Jane Eyre in space” and that the author was at Yallwest in 2018. I thought that was a general commentary of the novel and did not realize how close of a retelling this was.
This novel is a Jane Eyre retelling set in a future where everyone lives in giant space ships. Our Jane, Stella Ainsley, is an engineer aboard the Stalwart, a ship that is rumored to be decommissioned soon. Stella thus has been applying for jobs on other ships, but she keeps being rejected. Until she receives a job offer to be a governess/tutor to a young girl on the Rochester, a private and mysterious ship. The Rochester seems too good to be true, no water rations, plenty of food, and a bright engaged pupil. But, Stella keeps hearing noises that cannot be explained, even though the staff keeps telling her it’s just the cats. Despite getting off on the wrong foot with the dark and brooding, Captain Hugo Fairfax, Stella is drawn to him and curious about his family’s history. As Stella starts to learn more about the Rochester and its crew and all their secrets she will have to decide if it is worth staying for love and friendship or if she should get as far away from the ship as possible.
That being said, I really enjoyed most of the book. I am not a Sci-Fi fan typically, but having read Jane Eyre I was able to better understand the storyline. I enjoyed seeing parts of Jane Eyre that are a bit problematic (that age gap tho) modernized. The novel is quick and engaging and I had a fun time. I will say that I did not like the ending, but to be fair I don’t like the ending of Jane Eyre.
Also, FYI there is a virus at the end of this novel and characters have to quarantine so it just hit a bit close to home.
Overall, I’m glad I finally read this one bc it had been on my radar for years and I ended up with a copy like over a year ago…3/5 stars
I have more of these reviews to post, but these are all the YA books that I reviewed on my Bookstagram as of November 2020!
Thanks for reading!