[Review] Running with Lions by Julian Winters

Bloomington High School Lions’ star goalie, Sebastian Hughes, should be excited about his senior year: His teammates are amazing and he’s got a coach who doesn’t ask anyone to hide their sexuality. But when his estranged childhood best friend Emir Shah shows up to summer training camp, Sebastian realizes the team’s success may end up in the hands of the one guy who hates him. Determined to reconnect with Emir for the sake of the Lions, he sets out to regain Emir’s trust. But to Sebastian’s surprise, sweaty days on the pitch, wandering the town’s streets, and bonding on the weekends sparks more than just friendship between them.

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REVIEW: The Psionics #1: I Am the Storm & #2: We Are the Catalyst by Tash McAdam | Spoiler-Free

Keep your head down. Don’t look anyone in the eye. Never even think about technology if one of those ghostly, grey cars is sliding silently down the road. They’ll see the thoughts inside you, if you let them. 

Sam’s a technopath, able to control electronic signals and manipulate technology with his mind. And so, ever since childhood, his life has been a carefully constructed web of lies, meant to keep his Talent hidden, his powers a secret. But the Institute wants those unusual powers, and will do anything to get a hold of him and turn him into one of their mindless slaves. 

Sam slips up once. Just once, but that’s enough. Now the Institute is after him in full force. Soldiers, telekinetics, and mind readers, all gunning just for him. 

Newly qualified soldier, Serena, doesn’t even know she’s chasing a person, all she knows is that she has to find whatever the Institute is after before they do. But tracking an unknown entity through an unfamiliar city, with inaccurate intelligence, unexpected storms, and Gav Belias, people’s hero of the Watch, on the prowl, will she even survive? Will she get to Sam before the Institute does? His special skills could provide the rebellion with an incredible advantage, but not if they can’t get out of the city, and over the huge wall that stands between them and freedom.

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Mini-Reviews, Volume 3

Catching up on all my reviews for Asian Lit Bingo is a much bigger undertaking than I had anticipated and is in fact a continuing process, though I don’t regret reading any of these books — regardless of how much I enjoyed the overall story experience, I learned a lot about different Asian and hyphenated-Asian (i.e., Asian-American, Asian-Australian, etc.) experiences different from my own. Each set of characters has unique struggles and dreams, illustrating the importance of diversity in publishing and of giving #ownvoices authors the opportunity to tell their stories as no one else can.

Without further ado, here are some books with Asian main characters, written by Asian authors, which have stuck with me and which I think more people should check out for themselves.

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REVIEW: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. 

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch — via text — and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

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Mini-Reviews, Volume 2

As you may know, I dedicated last month to ARCs and managed to finish off the ones I received through #ReviewPit. Many of these were indie and self-published titles, so I’m bending my unofficial policy of only posting blog reviews for books I have very strong opinions on, in the hopes that more readers will get the chance to read and enjoy them.

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REVIEW: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Summary: When Harriet Westaway receives an unexpected letter telling her she’s inherited a substantial bequest from her Cornish grandmother, it seems like the answer to her prayers. She owes money to a loan shark and the threats are getting increasingly aggressive: she needs to get her hands on some cash fast. 

There’s just one problem — Hal’s real grandparents died more than twenty years ago. The letter has been sent to the wrong person. But Hal knows that the cold-reading techniques she’s honed as a seaside fortune teller could help her con her way to getting the money. If anyone has the skills to turn up at a stranger’s funeral and claim a bequest they’re not entitled to, it’s her. 

Hal makes a choice that will change her life for ever. But once she embarks on her deception, there is no going back. She must keep going or risk losing everything, even her life …

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REVIEW: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Summary: Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders … but her father isn’t a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife’s dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty — until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers’ pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed — and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.

But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it’s worth — especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand. 

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REVIEW: Odette by Jessica Duchen

I received a review copy of this book through Netgalley; all opinions are my own and honest.

Summary: When a swan crashes through her window at the height of a winter storm, journalist Mitzi Fairweather decides to nurse the injured bird back to health. But at sunset, the swan becomes a woman.

This unexpected visitor is Odette, the swan princess – alone, adrift and in danger in 21st-century Britain, entirely dependent on the kindness of strangers. Bird by day, human by night, and with no way to go home, she remains convinced, to Mitzi’s distress, that only a man’s vow of eternal love can break her spell.

Mitzi is determined to help Odette, but as the two try to hide the improbable truth, their web of deception grows increasingly tangled. Can they find a way to save Odette before it’s too late?

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