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#PubDayTuesday ARCs Book Reviews

#PubDayTuesday | ARC Review: Finding Jupiter by Kelis Rowe

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Thank you to Crown Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for the eARC to read and review! Finding Jupiter is OUT NOW!

"Finding Jupiter" by Kelis Rowe (cover)
Image via NetGalley

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Sparks fly when Orion and Ray meet for the first time at a roller rink in Memphis. But these star-crossed souls have a past filled with secrets that threaten to tear them apart before their love story even begins. Found poetry, grief, and fate collide in this powerful debut.

Ray: Just once I’d like my birthday to be about me, and not the day my father died. I want to be Ray Jr., the tall girl from Memphis with the poetry beats and the braids that stay poppin’. And when I meet Orion at the skating rink, that’s exactly who I am. He pulls my hand, and instead of being defined by my past, he races me toward my future.

Orion: When I dive into the pool, it’s just me and my heartbeat. There’s no dad, no dead sister, and no distracting noises. But I can’t hold my breath forever. And since I met Ray, I don’t want to. The closer we get, though, the more I see I’m not the only one caught in her wake.

With a lyrical blend of found poetry and poignant prose, this stunning debut captures young Black love and a decades-old family secret that may shatter a romance that feels written in the stars.

 

REVIEW: Finding Jupiter is one of the best YA contemporary romances I’ve ever read. I was so impressed by this sweet and heartwarming, black love story. It was a uniquely told story of star-crossed lovers with all the Romeo and Juliet vibes without being obvious or overshadowing the characters and plot.

Orion is a swimmer with Olympic potential. He is also kind, romantic, and charming. He wears his heart on his sleeves even though his dad wishes he wasn’t so sensitive. The first time he sees Ray performing a routine on the skating rink with her friends, it’s love at first sight.

At an early age, Orion was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder (SPD), “a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses.” His SPD ties tightly linked into his character and how he connects with others. You can see this in his sometimes tense relationship with his dad, the solace Orion finds underwater, certain compulsive routines, and his interactions with Ray.

Ray is a super talented poet who has walls around her heart. Seeing her mom still grieving the loss of her husband has made Ray wary of love. It’s too risky, so she just wants a summer fling before heading back to boarding school. But she never expected to feel so strongly for Orion.

I wasn’t too sure about Ray at first because internally she seemed very adamant about her dislike of love and relationships. I wish she’d been a little more upfront with Orion, especially when it was clear how open and honest he is about his thoughts and feelings. But I understand where she’s coming from and why she’s so hesitant. Not to mention meeting Orion kind of throws her off. He is everything she didn’t know she wanted or needed. That kind of powerful attraction can be scary.

In the end, I loved the buildup of their relationship. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions for all involved. And when family secrets are revealed it is a devastating, heartbreaking blow that I didn’t see coming at all.

Finding Jupiter is a real page-turner that will captivate you. I highlighted many great quotes throughout the book. I wish there’d been an epilogue to see where the MCs are down the road since Orion is starting college in the fall and Ray is entering her senior year of high school. Their love is so true, pure, and enviable. I would love to read more about Ray and Orion.

I highly recommend this amazing story!


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
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ARCs Book Reviews

ARC Review: Operation Sisterhood by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich #newbookrelease

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Thank you to Crown Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for the eARC to read and review! Operation Sisterhood is out now!

Cover of "Operation Sisterhood" by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
Image via NetGalley

Genre: Middle Grade
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Fans of the Netflix reboot of The Babysitters Club will delight as four new sisters band together in the heart of New York City. Discover this jubilant novel about the difficulties of change, the loyalty of sisters, and the love of family from a prolific award-winning author.

Bo and her mom always had their own rhythm. But ever since they moved to Harlem, Bo’s world has fallen out of sync. She and Mum are now living with Mum’s boyfriend Bill, his daughter Sunday, the twins, Lili and Lee, the twins’ parents…along with a dog, two cats, a bearded dragon, a turtle, and chickens. All in one brownstone! With so many people squished together, Bo isn’t so sure there is room for her.

Set against the bursting energy of a New York City summer, award-winning author Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich delivers a joyful novel about a new family that hits all the right notes!

 

REVIEW: Operation Sisterhood radiates the joy that can be found between sisters, in family, and in a community. It’s the kind of story I wish I had growing up.

The story takes place primarily in Harlem and the surrounding area. Bo is having a difficult time adjusting to her new family, living situation, and freeschooling without putting a damper on her mother’s happiness about their new life. She worries all these changes will cause her to lose her individuality.

It was interesting following the day-to-day of this new lifestyle Bo is now living in. It’s a warm, loving environment conducive to learning, responsibility, teamwork, self-reflection, and exploration. I love that they live with so many animals too, especially a bearded dragon who seems to enjoy wearing hats.

I love the sisterhood between Bo, Sunday, Lili and Lee. Each sister has a distinct personality and a passion. Bo is a drummer, super organized, and loves to cook. Sunday (Bo’s stepsister) loves to write, is quirky, and plays the keyboard. She tries so hard (sometimes too hard) to make Bo feel welcomed and a part of the family. I forget which twin (Lili and Lee) liked what but one is a huge animal lover while the other is a fashion designer. They also play an instrument (guitar and bass).

These new sisters are expressive, big-hearted, outgoing and enthusiastic. It was great seeing how they worked together to solve problems, make their parents happy, bring the community together, and support one another.

Operation Sisterhood was a good story with a vibrant cast of characters that I think readers will greatly enjoy. I also adore the cover art – I think it sums up the story perfectly.


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
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ARC Review: Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance by Nisha Sharma

Thank you to Crown Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for the eARC to read and review! Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance is out now.

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Radha is on the verge of becoming one of the greatest kathak dancers in the world . . . until a family betrayal costs her the biggest competition of her life. Now she has left her Chicago home behind to follow her stage mom to New Jersey. At the Princeton Academy of the Arts, Radha is determined to leave performing in her past and reinvent herself from scratch.

Jai is captain of the Bollywood Beats dance team, ranked first in his class, and is an overachiever with no college plans. Tight family funds means medical school is a pipe dream, which is why he wants to make the most out of high school. When Radha enters his life, he realizes she’s the exact ingredient he needs for a show-stopping senior year.

With careful choreography, both Radha and Jai will need to face their fears (and their families) if they want a taste of a happily ever after.

 

My Review: What a pleasant surprise this book was! I really enjoyed reading Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance. Delightful and delicious, this story swept me off my feet.

Radha is a very talented young Kathak dancer who has unfortunately lost her “dance joy” after family secrets and self-doubt turns her world upside down. She struggles to rediscover herself and find what truly makes her as happy as dance used to. Her character development was really good. I found Radha to be super relatable. Some of my favorite scenes were whenever she immersed herself in dance.

Jai is also a very relatable character and a joy to get to know. He’s very smart and clearly has a bright future ahead of him, but he refuses to take that leap out of a sense of family obligation. Jai is more concerned with the happiness of his teams and family that he forgets (dismisses) his own personal desires: med school. I love his sense of duty to his family and family by choice. However, I wanted to hug and yell at him all at once. I also liked how his storyline developed and interwove with Radha’s.

There is much to love about this book. The family dynamics were so well written. I liked learning more about Indian culture, especially through food and dance. What a great idea it was for the author to include a list of ingredients and some notes of the recipes Radha is learning throughout the story. The dance aspect was a lot of fun and Radha and Jai’s super sweet relationship. I really wish there was a video of Bollywood Beats’ winter showcase performance!

Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance was a great YA read. It really delved deep in relatable topics like self-esteem, senior year, facing one’s fears, and standing up for yourself (especially to one’s family, which can be really difficult to do). And the cover art is just so lovely! I would highly recommend this page-turning novel.

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ARC Review: Bloodsworn by Scott Reintgen

Thank you to Crown Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for the eARC to read and review! Bloodsworn goes on sale February 16, 2021.

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: Ashlords #2
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: The Races are over. War has begun.

Ashlord and Longhand armies battle for control of the Empire as Dividian rebels do their best to survive the crossfire. This is no longer a game. It’s life or death.

Adrian, Pippa, and Imelda each came out of the Races with questions about their role in the ongoing feud. The deeper they dig, the clearer it is that the hatred between their peoples has an origin point: the gods.

Their secrets are long-buried, but one disgruntled deity is ready to unveil the truth. Every whisper leads back to the underworld. What are the gods hiding there? As the sands of the Empire shift, these heroes will do everything they can to aim their people at the true enemy. But is it already too late?

 

My Review: Bloodsworn is a breathtaking story in which our three incredible main characters now work to defend their people, end a war, and defeat meddling gods. If you enjoyed Ashlords, then you are going to love the awesomeness that is Bloodsworm.

The reader is dropped right into the ugliness of war a month or so after the events of Ashlords. Through the alternating POVs of Imelda (a Dividian), Adrian (a Longhand), and Pippa (an Ashlord), we get a feel of where things stand, what the two warring sides (Ashlords and Longhand with Dividians stuck helplessly in the middle), and how the war has been internally affecting the main characters. For me, this part went on a little too long because I was super eager-beaver to get the action going and learning what it would take to stop the war.

The story is a thrilling and sometimes emotional escapade. I (and our protagonists) was surprised by how much deeper the situation was. How far the animosity went back. Revelation after revelation, surprise after surprise, further entrenched me into the plot. I loved learning the who-what-when-where-why-how of it all, about the ash horses, and how the Ashlord gods changed everything.

But what I loved most were the three young characters who spearhead this story – their strength, courage and leadership. They and the other young secondary characters close to them are indicative of how youth today have the power to make a difference and change the world for the better. Imelda, Adrian, and Pippa make something out of nothing.

The world-building is so fresh, magical and amazing. Very rich and complex. The author has truly crafted a unique world with unforgettable characters (new and old). The whole idea behind the horses made of ash is so fascinating and works as a great metaphor to the overall story. And I like the physically active role gods play in what’s happening, which I hope to see more of in fantasy in general. It adds an extra layer that can affect the plot and/or characters.

The last third of the story was heart-stopping action and several emotional (for me) moments that all led to a very satisfying conclusion. I wish there was more to read because I want to know what’s next for certain characters! I really enjoyed this duology. The promise of romance – as small as it was – was unexpected but I liked it and it is well deserved. What a great read!


More by Scott Reintgen

Ashlords (#1)