ARC Review: Up All Night: 13 Stories between Sunset + Sunrise edited by Laura Silverman

Special thanks to Algonquin Young Readers for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: Up All Night: 13 Stories between Sunset + Sunrise
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publish Date: 13 July 2021
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

When everyone else goes to bed, the ones who stay up feel like they’re the only people in the world. As the hours tick by deeper into the night, the familiar drops away and the unfamiliar beckons. Adults are asleep, and a hush falls over the hum of daily life. Anything is possible.

It’s a time for romance and adventure. For prom night and ghost hunts. It’s a time for breaking up, for falling in love—for finding yourself.

Stay up all night with these thirteen short stories from bestselling and award-winning YA authors like Karen McManus, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nina LaCour, and Brandy Colbert, as they take readers deep into these rarely seen, magical hours

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TL;DR: Up All Night is a wonderful collection of inclusive and diverse stories with rich LGBTQ+, disability, and POC representation. The stories were a good mix of various genres and they ranged from uplifting and heartwarming, to heartbreaking and achingly bittersweet, and even to the chillingly spooky, but all were tied together with themes of love, friendship, family, and coming-of-age. I really enjoyed a lot of these stories and I would happily add this anthology to my shelves to revisit in the future if ever I want to read some heartwarming and nostalgic short stories!

To say I went into this anthology with a little trepidation would be an understatement as I generally don’t have a good track record with the anthologies that I’ve tried. This is definitely more of a ‘me’ thing as I tend to have difficulties connecting with or getting into short stories. That’s why it was such a surprise when I found myself really enjoying all of the stories in this collection! There were a few that were “just okay” and didn’t leave a big impression on me, but there were more that I really liked and even loved, and none that I gave less than 3/5 stars to (and no matter what you think, 3/5 is not a bad rating!). Many of these authors’ books are still on my TBR but I’m now even more excited to pick them up as soon as I can!

Up All Night is a wonderful collection of inclusive and diverse stories with rich LGBTQ+, disability, and POC representation. The stories were also from a good mix of genres including contemporary, romance, light SFF (superheroes!), thriller/mysteries, and horror. They ranged from uplifting and heartwarming, to heartbreaking and achingly bittersweet, and even to the chillingly spooky, but all were tied together with themes of love, friendship, family, and coming-of-age. I found myself experiencing strong bouts of nostalgia as most of these stories are set in the final year(s) of high school when the air is charged with that electric feeling of change and possibility that makes you feel brave enough to take chances—it’s simultaneously nauseating and thrilling and those feelings really came through in the stories. That feeling was also compounded by the stories being set in the night-to-dawn hours when possibilities not only feel endless but the world even feels a little bit more magical.

Individual story ratings:

  • Never Have I Ever: 4/5 (CW/TW: murder)
  • Like Before: 3.5/5
  • Old Rifts and Snow Drifts: 4/5
  • Con Nights, Parallel Hearts: 5/5 (CW/TW: mentions of parental abuse—physical and sexual)
  • Kiss the Boy: 4.5/5
  • Creature Capture: 4/5
  • Shark Bait: 3/5 (CW/TW: racist slur, infidelity, car accident)
  • A Place to Start: 3/5
  • When You Bring A Dog to Prom: 3.5/5
  • Missing: 4.5/5
  • What About Your Friends: 3.5/5 (CW/TW: racism, bigotry)
  • Under Our Masks: 5/5
  • The Ghosts of Goon Creek: 3.5/5

Out of the 13 stories, my favourites were: “Con Nights, Parallel Hearts“, “Under Our Masks”, “Kiss the Boy”, and “Missing”. Ha, trust me, The Ultimate Chicken™️, to end up liking the spookiest story in the collection! 😂 Was I thoroughly creeped out while reading Missing”? Absolutely! My heart was still racing and the back of my neck prickling uncomfortably as I started on the next one but I can appreciate a well-spun tale! “Con Nights, Parallel Hearts absolutely broke my heart and had me unexpectedly crying by the end. It was emotionally raw and powerful. I haven’t read many superhero novels but I was delighted by “Under Our Masks” and the tentative sweet romance that blooms. “Kiss the Boy” filled me to overflowing with nostalgia thinking back on the final days of senior year—absorbing the novelty of the last school event(s), acknowledging secret crushes and taking chances with your heart, mischief-making with the best of friends surrounding you… This was such a delightfully heartwarming story!

Overall, I found this to be a very enjoyable anthology and I’m so glad that I gave this a try!

Have you read Up All night or is it on your TBR?

Blog Tour Review: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

Today is my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for one of my most anticipated reads of the year: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim!

Special thanks to Knopf for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Be sure to click on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: Six Crimson Cranes
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 06 July 2021
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

Shiori, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.

Raikama has dark magic of her own, and she banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.

Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and, on her journey, uncovers a conspiracy to overtake the throne—a conspiracy more twisted and deceitful, more cunning and complex, than even Raikama’s betrayal. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to contain—no matter what it costs her.

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Book Spotlight + Excerpt: Paladin Unbound by Jeffrey Speight

🎂 HAPPY PUB DAY TO PALADIN UNBOUND! 🥳

Hi, friends! I’m delighted to share a book spotlight + excerpt today as part of the tour hosted by Storytellers on Tour for Paladin Unbound by Jeffrey Speight!

Be sure to check out the rest of the bloggers on tour by clicking the banner below.

Goodreads: Paladin Unbound
Publisher: Literary Wanderlust
Publish Date: 01 July 2021
Genre: Epic Fantasy

The last of a dying breed, a holy warrior must rise up against a growing darkness in Evelium.

The most unlikely of heroes, a lowly itinerant mercenary, Umhra the Peacebreaker is shunned by society for his mongrel half-Orc blood. Desperate to find work for himself and his band of fighters, Umhra agrees to help solve a rash of mysterious disappearances, but uncovers a larger, more insidious plot to overthrow the natural order of Evelium in the process.

As Umhra journeys into the depths of Telsidor’s Keep to search for the missing, he confronts an ancient evil and, after suffering a great loss, turns to the god he disavowed for help.

Compelled to save the kingdom he loves, can he defeat the enemy while protecting his true identity, or must he risk everything?

CW/TW: Gore, Violence, Racism, Body Horror, Torture, Human Trafficking

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ARC Review: The Magical Imperfect by Chris Baron

Special thanks to Feiwel & Friends for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: The Magical Imperfect
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publish Date: 15 June 2021
Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction

Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

Etan has stopped speaking since his mother left. His father and grandfather don’t know how to help him. His friends have given up on him.

When Etan is asked to deliver a grocery order to the outskirts of town, he realizes he’s at the home of Malia Agbayani, also known as the Creature. Malia stopped going to school when her acute eczema spread to her face, and the bullying became too much.

As the two become friends, other kids tease Etan for knowing the Creature. But he believes he might have a cure for Malia’s condition, if only he can convince his family and hers to believe it too. Even if it works, will these two outcasts find where they fit in?

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TL;DR: Ultimately, while I might not recommend this for its disability rep, I appreciated the historical context and the representation of cultures and the immigrant perspective This was very different from what I expected after reading the blurb but I was pleasantly surprised by the nostalgic vibes it gave me. This did read a bit on the younger side of MG for me but I do think that it would be suitable and enjoyable for MG readers across all ages, even older readers such as myself.

This was a very different middle-grade read compared to what I normally pick up in this genre. It’s historical fiction but also has aspects of magical realism that leant the story an even more whimsical atmosphere. It’s written in verse and though the prose is simple and without unnecessary flair, it was also evocative and I could easily picture the neighbourhood form in front of my eyes. The community was diverse and there was a sense of camaraderie between all the neighbours that made the pages feel full of warmth and joy.

While I expected a touching story about the friendship between two young misfits, and we got that, it also went beyond that and there were many elements to the plot and setting that I didn’t expect to find—from religious to historical and cultural, and I was see it in a MG. I was intrigued by the late 80s setting in San Francisco and by the historical event that occurred during the time period of the story. What I found most refreshing though was seeing the Filipino representation in a historical setting and I was pleasantly surprised to read about the immigrant journey to America from a different (non-Western) perspective! Etan’s Jewish and Maia’s Filipina cultural heritage also played important roles in their story and as I grew up in the Philippines, I found reading about Maia’s family—her Lola and the food!—was comforting and made me a little nostalgic, too.

I found the friendship between Maia and Etan to be very sweet and full of youthful optimism and joy. As their bond grows closer, Etan finds the strength in his own voice again. Maia also finds joy in being able to have someone her age who doesn’t see her as “The Creature” but can look beyond her eczema to the loving, precocious and vibrant little girl she is. I really loved her sass and confidence, as well as her connection to nature and the trees surrounding her home.

Another aspect that I thought was interesting was the representation of Maia and Etan’s disabilities—severe eczema and selective mutism, respectively. I’ve never read a book with these disabilities represented (whether it be adult, YA or MG) so I found it interesting to read about and have it be part of these characters. However, what disappointed me was the use of the magical healing clay as a “cure” for these disabilities to make Maia and Etan ‘normal happy kids’. It made it seem like people with disabilities are not ‘normal’ and that you need to look and act like others to be happy. Yes, Maia wasn’t 100% ‘cured’ but the message is still the same and it’s not one that I would want any person to read and believe that they’re less than because they have a disability or live with chronic illness. The topic of mental health was also explored a bit through Etan’s mother but I wish it was done in more depth as it impacted Etan and his family so greatly.

Even though I didn’t end up loving it as much as I thought I would, it was still a quick, engaging and easy read. I loved the diversity and the historical context and in the future I’d be interested in seeing what else Baron has written.

Have you read The Magical Imperfect or is it on your TBR?

Blog Tour Review: Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

Hello, hello friends! I’m so excited to be back with another blog tour with @TheWriteReads gang! Today I’m sharing a review for a book that looks all cute and fluffy on the outside but takes a step beyond that on the inside: Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon. Don’t forget to check out all the other bloggers participating in this tour: here! 😍

Special thanks to Penguin for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Instructions for Dancing
Publisher: Penguin
Publish Date: 01 June 2021
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

#1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything and The Sun is Also a Star Nicola Yoon is back with a new and utterly unique romance.

Evie is disillusioned about love ever since her dad left her mum for another woman – she’s even throwing out her beloved romance novel collection.

When she’s given a copy of a book called Instructions for Dancing, and follows a note inside to a dilapidated dance studio, she discovers she has a strange and unwelcome gift. When a couple kisses in front of her, she can see their whole relationship play out – from the moment they first catch each other’s eye to the last bitter moments of their break-up.

For Evie, it confirms everything she thinks she knows about love – that it doesn’t last.

But at the dance studio she meets X – tall, dreadlocked, fascinating – and they start to learn to dance, together. Can X help break the spell that Evie is under? Can he change Evie’s mind about love?

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Blog Tour Review: Kind of Sort of Fine by Spencer Hall

Hello, friends! It’s my stop on The Book Terminal Tours blog tour for Kind of Sort of Fine by Spencer Hall. Special thanks to Atheneum Books for Young Readers for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Be sure to click on the banner below to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: Kind of Sort of Fine
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: 22 June 2021
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Coming of Age

Panda rating:


Senior year changes everything for two teens in this poignant, funny coming-of-age story that looks at what happens when the image everyone has of us no longer matches who we really are.

Senior year of high school is full of changes.

For Hayley Mills, these changes aren’t exactly welcome. All she wants is for everyone to forget about her very public breakdown and remember her as the overachiever she once was—and who she’s determined to be again. But it’s difficult to be seen as a go-getter when she’s forced into TV Production class with all the slackers like Lewis Holbrook.

For Lewis, though, this is going to be his year. After a summer spent binging 80s movies, he’s ready to upgrade from the role of self-described fat, funny sidekick to leading man of his own life—including getting the girl. The only thing standing in his way is, well, himself.

When the two are partnered up in class, neither is particularly thrilled. But then they start making mini documentaries about their classmates’ hidden talents, and suddenly Hayley is getting attention for something other than her breakdown, and Lewis isn’t just a background character anymore. It seems like they’re both finally getting what they want—except what happens when who you’ve become isn’t who you really are?

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Blog Tour Review: Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Hello, hello friends! I’m so excited to be back with another blog tour with @TheWriteReads gang! Today we’re taking a *smol* step outside my comfort zone for Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky but long story short, I loved it!. Be sure to check out all the other bloggers participating in this tour: here! 😍

Special thanks to Netgalley and Tor for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Shards of Earth (The Final Architects Trilogy #1)
Publisher: Tor
Publish Date: 27 May 2021
Genre: Science Fiction

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

The war is over. Its heroes forgotten. Until one chance discovery

Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade his mind in the war. And one of humanity’s heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers.

Eighty years ago, Earth was destroyed by an alien enemy. Many escaped, but millions more died. So mankind created enhanced humans ­such as Idris – who could communicate mind-to-mind with our aggressors. Then these ‘Architects’ simply disappeared and Idris and his kind became obsolete.

Now, Idris and his crew have something strange, abandoned in space. It’s clearly the work of the Architects – but are they really returning? And if so, why? Hunted by gangsters, cults and governments, Idris and his crew race across the galaxy as they search for answers. For they now possess something of incalculable value, and many would kill to obtain it.

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Blog Tour Review: The Edge of Strange Hollow by Gabrielle K. Byrne

Today is my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for The Edge of Strange Hollow by Gabrielle K. Byrne.
Special thanks to Netgalley and Macmillan Children’s Publishing for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Be sure to click on the banner below to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: The Edge of Strange Hollow
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Publishing
Publication Date: 11 May 2021
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

Welcome to Strange Hollow. Beware the Grimwood.

Poppy Sunshine isn’t like everyone else in Strange Hollow. She’s not afraid of the Grimwood, home to magical creatures like shape-shifters, fairies, witches, and even a three-headed dog.

Banned from the wood by her parents, Poppy longs to learn everything about it and imagines joining her mother and father as they hunt the forest’s cursed magical objects. So when her only family disappears on a routine expedition, she and her friends must break every rule to save them. But Poppy soon discovers that things in the Grimwood are rarely what they seem…

And the monsters who took her parents may not be monsters at all. 

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Blog Tour Review + Excerpt: Royal Spy by Heather Frost

Hello, friends! I’m back today with a blog tour for Royal Spy (Fate of Eyrinthia #2) by Heather Frost. Thanks to the author for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Be sure to check out the rest of the bloggers on tour at the end of my post!

Royal Spy is book two in the Fate of Eyrinthia series. You can read my review for book one here.

Goodreads: Royal Spy (Fate of Eyrinthia #2)
Publication Date: 20 May 2021
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

A DECOY recruited to be a spy.
A PRINCE compelled to become an assassin.
A SERJAH pressured by an unwanted crown.
A WORLD covered in shadows.

Mere months ago, Clare was just a kitchen maid. Now, she is a decoy for Princess Serene and a novice spy, caught in the royal family’s web of secrets. While journeying to Mortise to finalize the princess’s betrothal to Serjah Desfan, Clare lives for the stolen moments she has with Bennick, the bodyguard who is quickly claiming her heart. But when a notorious assassin is hired to kill her, Clare’s life and the alliance hang in the balance.

In Ryden, Grayson prepares to leave for Mortise with his brother, Liam. Their orders are to ignite a war between their enemies, and Grayson has been tasked with assassinating Princess Serene. It may cost his soul, but he is ready to comply, as long as he gets something in return: freedom for Mia, the girl he loves. But the more time he spends with his brother, the more he begins to wonder if Liam is what Grayson wishes he had the courage to be . . . a traitor. 

Desfan feels trapped. By his disapproving council, his impending marriage to a stranger, and the imminent arrival of enemy princes who may not want the peace they profess. When a dangerous drug threatens his people, Desfan jumps at the chance to rely on his swords instead of politics. But his investigation uncovers more than he bargained for—a plot that may destroy Mortise from within.

Eyrinthia hovers on the edge of war. Spies. Rebels. Traitors. All must choose a side.

CW/TW: abuse, kidnapping, murder, gore/violence

Pre-order Royal Spy and fill out the form to receive an EXCLUSIVE short story from Bennick’s POV: The Decoy and the Bodyguard

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Blog Tour Review: The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk

Today is my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk.
Special thanks to Netgalley and Little Brown Books for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Be sure to click on the banner below to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: The Other Side of Perfect
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Publication Date: 11 May 2021
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Panda Rating:

(actual 4.5 pandas)

Alina Keeler was destined to dance, but one terrifying fall shatters her leg–and her dreams of a professional ballet career along with it. 

After a summer healing (translation: eating vast amounts of Cool Ranch Doritos and binging ballet videos on YouTube), she is forced to trade her pre-professional dance classes for normal high school, where she reluctantly joins the school musical. However, rehearsals offer more than she expected–namely Jude, her annoyingly attractive cast mate she just might be falling for. 

But to move forward, Alina must make peace with her past and face the racism she had grown to accept in the dance industry. She wonders what it means to yearn for ballet–something so beautiful, yet so broken. And as broken as she feels, can she ever open her heart to someone else? 

Touching, romantic, and peppered with humor, this debut novel explores the tenuousness of perfectionism, the possibilities of change, and the importance of raising your voice. 

CW/TW: the protagonist is dealing with a lot of anger and some depression, various experiences of racism, bullying

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