The Iron Will of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee – Perhaps The Most Satisfying Ending of a Series I Have Read – Ever

The Iron Will of Genie Lo. F.C. Yee.

Blurb:

Genie Lo thought she was busy last year, juggling her academic career with protecting the Bay Area from demons. But now, as the Heaven-appointed Guardian of California, she’s responsible for the well-being of all yaoguai and spirits on Earth. Even the ones who interrupt her long-weekend visit to a prestigious college, bearing terrible news about a cosmos-threatening force of destruction in a nearby alternate dimension.

The goddess Guanyin and Genie’s boyfriend, Quentin Sun Wukong, do their best to help, but it’s really the Jade Emperor who’s supposed to handle crises of this magnitude. Unfortunately for Genie and the rest of existence, he’s gone AWOL. Fed up with the Jade Emperor’s negligence, Genie spots an opportunity to change the system for the better by undertaking a quest that spans multiple planes of reality along with an adventuring party of quarrelsome Chinese gods. But when faced with true danger, Genie and her friends realize that what will save the universe this time isn’t strength, but sacrifice.

CW’s review:

In case you don’t know, The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee is an incredible book about a girl named Genie Lo, who discovers that she’s the reincarnation of a powerful celestial weapon. This book, after so many years, remains to be one of my favourite books of all time.

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A Thousand Fires by Shannon Price – A Bewildering Ride from Start to Finish – and Not in a Good Way

A Thousand Fires by Shannon Price.

Blurb:

Valerie Simons knows the city’s gang wars are dangerous—her own brother was killed by the Boars two years ago. But nothing will sway her from joining the elite and beautiful Herons to avenge his death—a death she feels responsible for.

But when Valerie is recruited by the mysterious Stags, their charismatic and volatile leader Jax promises to help her get revenge. Torn between old love and new loyalty, Valerie fights to stay alive as she races across the streets of San Francisco to finish the mission that got her into the gangs.

CW’s Review:

When I heard that this book was an Iliad retelling set in San Francisco in a time of gang violence and gang wars, my interest was piqued. A Thousand Fires is described to be a retelling of the Iliad, a story that follows biracial Philipino-American teen who, upon turning eighteen years old, joins a gang to find her little brother’s murderer and to avenge his death. Although the story’s premise showed promise and sounded interesting as heck, A Thousand Fires wasn’t only just disappointing on many fronts but also, unexpectedly, bewildered me – and not in a good way at all.

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If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann – A Little Disorganized, but a Lot of Heart

If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann.

Blurb:

High school finally behind her, Winnie is all set to attend college in the fall. But first she’s spending her summer days working at her granny’s diner and begins spending her midnights with Dallas—the boy she loves to hate and hates that she likes. Winnie lives in Misty Haven, a small town where secrets are impossible to keep—like when Winnie allegedly snaps on Dr. Skinner, which results in everyone feeling compelled to give her weight loss advice for her own good. Because they care that’s she’s “too fat.”

Winnie dreams of someday inheriting the diner—but it’ll go away if they can’t make money, and fast. Winnie has a solution—win a televised cooking competition and make bank. But Granny doesn’t want her to enter—so Winnie has to find a way around her formidable grandmother. Can she come out on top?

Joce’s review:

Claire Kann’s sophomore young adult contemporary novel features our protagonist Winnie, a queer, Black, self-proclaimed fat teenage girl who is enjoying her summer before she begins college. She is balancing working at her Grandma’s diner, Goldeen’s (yes, named after the Pokemon!), talking to a boy named Dallas she’s in a love-hate relationship with, navigating her queerplatonic relationship (QPR) with her “ungirlfriend” Kara, and thinking about entering a televised cooking competition to make extra money.

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The Rise of Kyoshi by F.C. Yee – Listen Up, Avatar Fans: Kyoshi’s Origin Story Shines and Soars with Aang and Korra’s Stories

The Rise of Kyoshi by F.C. Yee. A badge at the bottom-left that says, 'Reviewed by CW, The Quiet Pond'. In the centre is a image of Xiaolong, the pink axolotl wearing a flower hat, waving at you.

Blurb:

F. C. Yee’s The Rise of Kyoshi delves into the story of Kyoshi, the Earth Kingdom-born Avatar. The longest-living Avatar in this beloved world’s history, Kyoshi established the brave and respected Kyoshi Warriors, but also founded the secretive Dai Li, which led to the corruption, decline, and fall of her own nation. The first of two novels based on Kyoshi, The Rise of Kyoshi maps her journey from a girl of humble origins to the merciless pursuer of justice who is still feared and admired centuries after she became the Avatar.

CW’s review:

I love the Avatar series. I loved Aang’s story and the lessons the show taught me as a young teen in Avatar: The Last Airbender. I also loved Korra’s story and the social discourse and confronting questions that the story posed in Legend of Korra. As a fan of both series and the Avatar universe, I had my trepidations about The Rise of Kyoshi. I knew that in the hands of Yee, author of one of my favourite YA book series of all time, The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, that he would do a fantastic job telling Kyoshi’s story. But, of course, like any fan who was gravely disappointed by the live action film (the way six earthbenders bended that one miserable and poorly animated rock still haunts me to do this day), I think it’s fair to feel a little apprehensive of any addition to the Avatar universe.

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