Review: We Hunt the Flame

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Series: Sands of Arawiya
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Maturity Level: 4-
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.


We Hunt the Flame was incredibly entertaining, and in that way completely lived up to my expectations. But it was also super trope-y, which I personally found a little disappointing.

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Middle Grade Review: Front Desk

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

Series: Front Desk
Genre: Middle Grade
Maturity Level: 3 (Content warnings: Violence against women, racism, unjust policing policies)
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

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?


I picked up this book because on my very first day as a librarian an extremely passionate, well-spoken young lady told me this was her favorite book and asked if I’d read it. She told me she liked to read it over and over again. And, on the one hand, I see why because WOW. But on the other hand, what kind of ten year old enjoys reading something so difficult? I mean, most of the other kids still think Goosebumps is the height of literary achievement.

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Review: This is How You Lose the Time War

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Genres: Science Fiction, Novella
Maturity Level: 4
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading. Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future.

Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war.


At this point, This is How You Lose the Time War has won every major science fiction award there is to win. Every reviewer, bookseller, blogger, and book personality has talked about why this book is so good. I’m not sure there’s anything I can contribute to this conversation, other than to say I cosign ALL OF THAT.

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Middle Grade Review: The Rhino in Right Field

The Rhino in Right Field by Stacy DeKeyser

Genres: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Maturity Level: 1
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

Nick wants to change his life. For twelve years, he’s done what his hard-working, immigrant parents want him to do. Now he’s looking for his own American dream and he thinks he’s found it. The local baseball team is having a batboy contest, and Nick wants to win.

But the contest is on a Saturday—the day Nick has to work in his father’s shop. There’s one other tiny—well, not so tiny—problem. A 2,000-pound rhinoceros named Tank. Nick and his friends play ball in the city zoo—and Tank lives just beyond the right field fence. Nick’s experience getting the ball out of Tank’s pen has left him frozen with fear whenever a fly ball comes his way. How’s a lousy fielder going to win the contest?

Nick practices every day with his best friend, Ace, and a new girl who has an impressive throwing arm! But that’s not enough—to get to the contest, Nick has to lie to his parents and blackmail his uncle. All while dodging the school bully, who’s determined to win even by playing dirty. Nick will need to keep his eye on the ball in this fast, funny story about a game that can throw you some curveballs—just like life!


What a fun book! I think kids are really going to enjoy it, though struggling readers and English Language Learners may be confused by the antique slang.

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Review: Black Sun

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Series: Between Earth and Sky
Genre: Fantasy
Maturity Level: 5-
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.

Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.


WOW WOW WOW!!!! I was expecting something special from Black Sun because Roanhorse is such a fantastic writer, but all of my expectations were completely blown out of the water. This book is exciting, smart, unique, and so. dang. GOOD.

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Middle Grade Review: The Girl Who Drank the Moon

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Maturity Level: 2
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and deliver them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey. 

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule–but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her–even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.


THIS BOOK!!! WOW!!! I mean, what can I even say?, it won every award there is pretty much, and deserved it. It’s just so fabulous.

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Review: Truly Devious

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Series: Truly Devious
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery
Maturity Level: 3+
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Rating: ⋆⋆

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder. 


I was so excited for my first Maureen Johnson book, and this sounded so interesting, and I really *wanted* to love it, but I was just so indifferent to Truly Devious.

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Review: A Deadly Education

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

Series: The Scholomance
Genre: Fantasy
Maturity Level: 4
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

“A Deadly Education” is set at Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets.

There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won’t allow its students to leave until they graduate… or die! The rules are deceptively simple: Don’t walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere.

El is uniquely prepared for the school’s dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out millions. It would be easy enough for El to defeat the monsters that prowl the school. The problem? Her powerful dark magic might also kill all the other students. 


I have to say that going into this book I was nervous. So far I’ve never read a Naomi Novik book I didn’t love, but the plot to this one didn’t seem like it would normally be my cup of tea. So I was worried this would finally be the book of hers that let me down. But I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I expected to!

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Review: Opposite of Always

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction/Fantasy
Maturity Level: 4
(Content Warnings: Chronic Illness, Sycle Cell Anemia)
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack.

But then Kate dies. And their story should end there.

Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind.

Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do to save the people he loves.


I added this book to my tbr like, two and a half years ago, but quickly forgot EVERYTHING about it except that I was really excited for it. And then I … never read it, because book blogger life, right? So I had no idea what it was about and was really stoked to read the word “time travel” on the first page. Then disappointed to discover it wasn’t really about time travel, but more of a Groundhog Day thing. Which, you know, is awesome, I love Groundhog Day. Except I just watched Palm Springs like, two weeks ago, so the time loop was a lot less exciting than it should have been. All that to say, I would probably have loved this book WAY more if I’d read it when it was first published. Oops.

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Middle Grade Review: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Maturity Level: 1
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

In the valley of Fruitless Mountain, a young girl named Minli spends her days working hard in the fields and her nights listening to her father spin fantastic tales about the Jade Dragon and the Old Man of the Moon. Minli’s mother, tired of their poor life, chides him for filling her head with nonsense. But Minli believes these enchanting stories and embarks on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man of the Moon and ask him how her family can change their fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest.


Wow. I don’t even know what else to say about this book other than that it’s amazing and perfect and should be in every classroom, school, and child’s library. I mean, just, WOW.

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