Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia – An Insightful Depiction of Online Community, Privacy, and Mental Health

Text: Eliza and her monsters, Francesca Zappia. Image: A sketch of a girl and a boy, facing each other, reading a book.

Blurb:

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

Joce’s review:

Eliza Mirk is a high school student who lives in Indiana and anonymously writes and illustrates the famous webcomic Monstrous Sea, read by millions, as her online persona LadyConstellation. She feels out of place at her school and experiences anxiety, including social anxiety. She develops a close relationship to Wallace, who experiences selective mutism, and he seems to understand what it’s like feeling truly at home online and less so face to face. However, their friendship is somewhat one-sided because Eliza knows that he is the most famous Monstrous Sea fanfiction writer, but he does not know that Eliza is actually LadyConstellation. They communicate mostly online, and a budding relationship, whether it be friendship or romantic, that transpires mostly through written word, is my favorite.

Read More »

Front Desk by Kelly Yang – A Compassionate & Empowering Story About The Immigrant Experience, Poverty, and Community

Front Desk [by Kelly Yang]

Blurb:

Mia Tang has a lot of secrets.

Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests.

Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they’ve been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed.

Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language?

It will take all of Mia’s courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?

CW’s review:

A few pages into Front Desk by Kelly Yang, I thought to myself, I’m falling in love with this book. Unsurprisingly, Front Desk became not only one of my effortless favourites back in 2018, but it became one of my favourite books ever – more than deserving, I felt, to be in my ‘forever in my heart’ shelf in Goodreads. Front Desk may be a middle-grade novel, but don’t be fooled – it has a light and compassionate narrative but also delves into tough topics that children and adults alike can learn from.

Read More »

The Best Lies by Sarah Lyu – A Flawless Mystery/Thriller Debut about Toxic Friendships, Trauma, and Flawed Teens

Text: The Best Lies, Sarah Lyu. Image: A blue and pink lollipop, smeared against a pink surface.

Blurb:

Remy Tsai used to know how her story would turn out. But now, she doesn’t even know what tomorrow will look like.

She was happy once. Remy had her boyfriend Jack, and Elise, her best friend—her soulmate—who understood her better than anyone else in the world.

But now Jack is dead, shot through the chest—

And it was Elise who pulled the trigger.

Was it self-defense? Or something deeper, darker than anything Remy could have imagined? As the police investigate, Remy does the same, sifting through her own memories, looking for a scrap of truth that could save the friendship that means everything to her.

CW’s Review:

Quite frankly, The Best Lies came for me. And by that, I mean that when I picked up this book, I did not know what to expect. What I did not expect, however, was for this book to blow my mind, become one of my favourite reads of 2019, and make me think about it at almost every waking hour.

Read More »

Jade War by Fonda Lee – Move Over Jade City; Jade War is The Bigger, Better, and Crueler Big Sister

Review: Jade War, by Fonda Lee

Blurb:

On the island of Kekon, the Kaul family is locked in a violent feud for control of the capital city and the supply of magical jade that endows trained Green Bone warriors with supernatural powers they alone have possessed for hundreds of years.

Beyond Kekon’s borders, war is brewing. Powerful foreign governments and mercenary criminal kingpins alike turn their eyes on the island nation. Jade, Kekon’s most prized resource, could make them rich – or give them the edge they’d need to topple their rivals.

Faced with threats on all sides, the Kaul family is forced to form new and dangerous alliances, confront enemies in the darkest streets and the tallest office towers, and put honor aside in order to do whatever it takes to ensure their own survival – and that of all the Green Bones of Kekon.

CW’s Review:

Many of you may know that Jade City is my favourite book of all time. And not just ‘one of my favourite books’ – Jade City is the favourite book. And now I find myself in the strange and unexpected position of finding a new favourite book of all time. I have loved Jade City so passionately for years that I never gave thought to the possibility that it would be dethroned so soon. It’s not often you read a book where the second book, the middle book of a trilogy no less, is undoubtedly better than the first book, and yet, Fonda Lee did it. Jade War, the sequel to Jade City, has dethroned its predecessor as my favourite book of all time. Jade War is more brutal, more devastating, more emotional, and more than you could ever expect it to be.

Read More »

The Black Veins by Ashia Monet – Magical Queer Teens of Colour + Found Family + Road Trip to Save Family = An Incredible and Inspired Debut

Dead Magic Series: The Black Veins. Ashia Monet. The Guardians Blog Tour, July 11 - 17

Blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Blythe is one of seven Guardians: magicians powerful enough to cause worldwide panic with a snap of their fingers. But Blythe spends her days pouring latte art at her family’s coffee shop, so why should she care about having apocalyptic abilities?

She’s given a reason when magician anarchists crash into said coffee shop and kidnap her family.

Heartbroken but determined, Blythe knows she can’t save them alone. A war is brewing between two magician governments and tensions are too high. So, she packs up her family’s bright yellow Volkswagen, puts on a playlist, and embarks on a road trip across the United States to enlist the help of six strangers whose abilities are unparalleled—the other Guardians.

CW’s review:

I received an early copy from the author for review. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

It’s not often I make bold declarations, but when I do, I mean it: The Black Veins by Ashia Monet is going to change YA urban fantasy as we know it.

Read More »