Dragons and Tea Book Club: May Book Announcement!

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Hi, friends! I hope you are all having a lovely reading month so far! We are so excited to announce our next book club pick for May. This one has been on our radar for a long time now, and we are hope we all fall in love with this one, too!


Our May book will be:

DRAGON PEARL by Yoon Ha Lee

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The Dates & Breakdown:

May 13th — Page 1 – 64 (Ch. 1 – 7)

May 14th — Page 65 – 124 (Ch. 8 – 14)

May 15th — Page 125 – 183 (Ch. 15 – 22)

May 16th — Page 184 – 242 (Ch. 23 – 28)

May 17th — Page 243 – End (Ch. 29 – 38)

Why we chose this book:

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and Melanie and I really wanted to focus on an Asian-American, ownvoices author! Yoon Ha Lee’s Dragon Pearl is a middle grade sci fi-fantasy book about a girl who comes from a shape-shifting family and can use what is called “fox-magic.” There’s going to be space adventures but I also think there will be some strong themes about family!

I would like to share part of the book synopsis because it just sounds SO GOOD:

Min’s quest will have her meeting gamblers, pirates, and vengeful ghosts. It will involve deception, lies, and sabotage. She will be forced to use more fox-magic than ever before, and to rely on all of her cleverness and bravery. The outcome may not be what she had hoped, but it has the potential to exceed her wildest dreams.


Don’t forget to join our Goodreads Group!

And we will also follow discussions/your reading journey on Twitter and Instagram using the (hashtag) #DragonsAndTeaBookClub!


See you then! ❤

🐉☕ Melanie: Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads
🐉☕ Amy: Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads

Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle, #1) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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ARC provided by Knopf Books in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Synopsis:

From the internationally bestselling authors of THE ILLUMINAE FILES comes an epic new science fiction adventure.

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.


This review is going to hurt me, and I feel awful I even feel this way. I want to preface this by saying I really enjoy these authors’ previous works, and I think Amie and Jay are awesome humans who write amazing stories.

But… I was so disappointed by this book. I am trying very hard not to compare this to the Illuminae Files, but it’s hard not to when this is yet another story set in space featuring a group of young cadets.

This book follows six cadets who come together when their squad leader, Tyler, rescues a girl who was cryogenically frozen. Aurora doesn’t understand why she woke up 200 years later than anticipated, because she was supposed to land on a planet called Octavia III. But then we quickly find out Aurora has inherited some strange and deadly powers, so Squad 312 must escape in order to save her and themselves.

Here is Squad 312 at a glance:

Tyler – The Alpha and squad leader. His level of attractiveness and dimples are mentioned so many times it’s going to make you roll your eyes into the back of your skull.

Scarlett – The Face (aka the diplomat) and Tyler’s twin sister. She is described as having firey red hair and just as stunning as her brother.

Cat – The Ace, pilot. She’s tough as nails and loyal to Tyler and Scarlett.

Kal – The Tank, Syldrathi, a Legolas-lookalike according to Aurora, but with darker skin and silver braids. The Syldrathi have a war history with the Terran people.

Finian – The Gearhead, Tech Division. He is Betraskan, so he appears “alien-like”; skin is white and he has to wear contacts which makes his eyes appear all black. He’s bisexual and presents with a disability for muscle weakness, nerve damage, impaired mobility.

Zila – The Brains, Science Division. She is described as having dark brown skin and curly black hair. She’s also very serious and matter-of-fact. I believe she may be on the autism spectrum but this is not my lane so I would love to see others chime in in regards to this.

Aurora – A Cryogenically girl frozen for the last 200 years and was supposed to wake up on Octavia III. She is Asian, described as having short black hair with a white streak, and freckles across her nose. She can do some serious damage but cannot control these new, strange powers.

I think what threw me off from the very beginning was that this was marketed as, “They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find.” Maybe it’s just me, but that quote made me assume we were going to be presented with a ragtag team of misfits who are subpar at their jobs but must come together to fight the good fight. When in reality we already have the best-of-the-best Legionnaire, his sister, his best friend, and three other legionnaires who are good at what they do.

So I’m already rolling my eyes at how misleading that was. However, I just could not get past how boring everything was. Part 1 showed us how the squad escaped with Aurora, Part 2 took us to the World Ship where a very long, unnecessarily drawn-out heist took place, and then Part 3 turned into a very bad sci fi movie rip-off.

And usually I can get over a mediocre plot, but when the “action” was putting me to sleep? I just had such a hard time picking this book back up. Also I couldn’t care less about any of the characters. Aside from Kal, everyone was extremely one-dimensional. There’s a cringey “mating bond” that appears between two of the characters, which honestly made me want to DNF right then and there.

Here’s the thing: Even though Illuminae isn’t my favorite series of all time, the friendships in those books were palpable. You felt connected to them. But in Aurora Rising? There were SO MANY POV’S that I couldn’t even keep track of who to care about. Every single squad member had their own POV (that’s SEVEN!) and they were all told in first person. Sorry, not a fan of trying to figure out whose POV I left off on if I had to put the book down in the middle of a chapter.

I know this book has already received a lot of early praise, so take my opinions with a grain of salt. I just can’t get over how messy everything was, how bland the characters were, and how much I just wanted everything to be over.

twostarsBuddy read with Stephanie!


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This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Sloane isn’t expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that’s exactly what happens.

Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera’s twin brother and the most serious person Sloane’s ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins’ late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins’ lives.

Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.


At the recommendation by my friend Julie, I knew I had to pick This Adventure Ends as my first Emma Mills book. I’m so glad I did!

This is one of those coming-of-age YA books that feels like a blanket enveloping you. It is mostly character driven, but driven by some of the best characters I’ve ever read. I truly loved Sloane and her group of friends. I even loved the adults, which I know can be hit or miss sometimes when reading YA.

So this book stars Sloane, a high school student who moves from New York to Florida. Her father is a famous author (very a la Nicholas Sparks) but he’s fallen into a career slump. Her parents’ marriage also isn’t doing so well. But then Sloane befriends twins Vera and Gabe, Remy, Aubrey, Bree, and let’s not forget my favorite… Frank (a bisexual mixed-race student!)

Early on we learn that Vera and Gabe’s mother passed away, but she was a very famous painter whose paintings are highly sought after. But through a fluke accident, the one painting Gabe truly wanted to keep got sold. Sloane becomes determined to find that painting. Not so much because she’s slowly developed feelings for Gabe, but because she knew how much he was hurting and she thought this could be the one small thing to set things right.

However, looking for the painting isn’t the main focus of this book. We get to watch Sloane’s relationship evolve with Remy, who is helping her track down the painting. We also see her friendship bloom with Vera, and it is, hands down, one of my favorite platonic ships of all time. I also loved her dynamic with Frank, who is basically the king of hosting parties. Seriously, the friendship was so outstanding, it truly made me feel like I was part of the group.

But this book also highlights struggles the parents go through, such as marriage strains, career roadblocks, and just day-to-day life. I really loved Sloane’s dad, Mike, who found refuge and inspiration in a teen show (and writing fan fic). I also really loved how he confided his work in Sloane.

I also loved how Sloane was written. She was complex, and oftentimes her personality really reflected my own at that age. I was moody, sarcastic, and knew when to deflect to make light of a situation. I really really got her. And Vera? OMG. Vera gets the BFF Award of the Year. I loved her colorful personality so much, and it was an extra bonus she had another ‘life’ as a famous social media star. Of course, I loved Gabe, who is serious and broody and mysterious most of the time. I wanted to learn so much more about him!

So what did I not like? Well, I actually wasn’t too keen on the fan fic parts, and I also didn’t really like how Vera and Gabe’s stepmom was portrayed as the “bad guy.” I don’t know, maybe I’m just tired of the “young beautiful woman marries an older guy and gets pregnant so she must be the bad guy” trope. Like, I totally get being a teenager and finding out your new step mom is super young would feel weird, but I think her character could’ve just been written better.

I still really loved this book, and I honestly cannot wait to read more by Emma Mills!

fourstars

Buddy read with Jen!


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Blog Tour: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

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ARC provided by Wednesday Books in exchange for an honest review.


About the book:

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.


My review:

I’ve been having difficulty forming my thoughts after finishing this book. This is definitely a quiet, slow-burn of a story. There is a romance, gorgeous writing, a unique magic system, and lots of dark politics.

Wicked Saints mixes politics, royalty, and godly powers. There are two rival nations: Kalyazin and Tranavia. We follow Nadya, a cleric who has been trained to communicate with a plethora of gods, wielding their powers through the touch of prayer beads. Then there’s Serefin, the prince of Tranavia but also a powerful blood mage. And then there’s Malachiasz, who, in my opinion, stole the story. He’s a rebel blood mage who allies with Nadya as they both flee from Serefin’s army. He’s the “dark and mysterious” type which immediately caught my attention.

While there are two POVs in this book (Nadya’s and Serefin’s) their stories cross early and soon Nadya, Serefin, and Malachiasz realize they all have the same goal: to dethrone the King of Tranavia (aka Serefin’s father.) Y’all, this is a very densely political book, where oftentimes I felt it overshadowed the magic system…

Which leads me to say that I wish Nadya played a bigger role. I expected Nadya to be the main character in this book, but instead she felt more like a side character to Malachiasz and Serefin’s motives. In fact, most of the time Nadya just went along with everything Malachiasz did, and I kept wanting her to unleash her fury. But instead, she dwindled into a naive love interest. She quickly went from being a character I admired to being one of my least favorite characters in the book.

I actually enjoyed Serefin’s chapters the best, because we really got to see and feel his horrible relationship with his father. The King of Tranavia is… how do I say this… a real piece of sh*t. He’s abusive and is totally fine with sacrificing his own family in order to possess the power of the gods. I also think Serefin had the most character development, and I loved his dynamic with his two guards, Kacper and Ostyia. I would read an entire book about this trio!

I wish I could say I liked Malachiasz. I did in the beginning, as he was low key reminding me of the Darkling from The Grisha Trilogy, but then I just stopped caring about him. He is supposed to be mysterious, so I am not going to say any spoilers, but I just didn’t like how his story played out. It felt really cheesy and there was no build-up to the finale.

I think I would’ve enjoyed this book more if we got to see more of Nadya communicating with the gods and seeing her use that power. She was a pawn in a man’s story, which just feels kind of bad. I was so frustrated during the last 10% of the book, but I am now high key needing the sequel ASAP!

I think the politics is super fascinating, and I adored how each of the gods Nadya communicated with all have their own personalities and quirks. The book starts out with a bang and while there may have been some issues with the characters for me, I felt like it had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. Duncan’s writing is incredibly beautiful and creative. I am still genuinely impressed with how she built this world, and how she created each of the gods. This was some high-fantasy level stuff that still tackled important themes for a young adult audience, and I think so many people are going to love this book.


Emily A. Duncan

EMILY A. DUNCAN works as a youth services librarian. She received a Master’s degree in library science from Kent State University, which mostly taught her how to find obscure Slavic folklore texts through interlibrary loan systems. When not reading or writing, she enjoys playing copious amounts of video games and dungeons and dragons. Wicked Saints is her first book. She lives in Ohio.


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fourstars

A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti

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Goodreads Synopsis:

When everything has been taken from you, what else is there to do but run?

So that’s what Annabelle does—she runs from Seattle to Washington, DC, through mountain passes and suburban landscapes, from long lonely roads to college towns. She’s not ready to think about the why yet, just the how—muscles burning, heart pumping, feet pounding the earth. But no matter how hard she tries, she can’t outrun the tragedy from the past year, or the person—The Taker—that haunts her.

Followed by Grandpa Ed in his RV and backed by her brother and two friends (her self-appointed publicity team), Annabelle becomes a reluctant activist as people connect her journey to the trauma from her past. Her cross-country run gains media attention and she is cheered on as she crosses state borders, and is even thrown a block party and given gifts. The support would be nice, if Annabelle could escape the guilt and the shame from what happened back home. They say it isn’t her fault, but she can’t feel the truth of that.

Through welcome and unwelcome distractions, she just keeps running, to the destination that awaits her. There, she’ll finally face what lies behind her—the miles and love and loss…and what is to come.


If I could recommend one book to read this year, it would be this. I loved it so so much, and it will stick with me for a very long time.

Things start out a little vague but slowly picks up as we begin to learn so many things about Annabelle and her past. Due to a very traumatic experience, Annabelle decides to pursue a daunting task: running cross country from Seattle, Washington to Washington, DC. It is a five-month journey with her running from town to town, with her grandfather following her in an RV, and she meets many supporters along the way. But the reason isn’t instantaneously clear to us, the reader. All we know is that she is doing this out of many emotions: grief, guilt, remorse, and with the hope to heal.

I don’t usually gravitate toward books where, from just reading the description, sounds like a “journeying” story. But oh my god, I am so glad I did. This is so much more than journeying from point A to point B. You see, we also learn that Annabelle is trying so hard to move on from the pain created by a nameless individual called The Taker, and as she continues, mile after mile, she slowly begins to shed the feelings of guilt. She wants to make a change. She has to do something.

I also want to mention that it is addressed in the book that the type of long distance running Annabelle is doing isn’t recommended. It puts way too much stress on your body, no matter how well trained you are at long distance running. So, while it may not be truly realistic, it is mentioned several times she doesn’t push herself to run too long, and she gets lots of food/drinks via local supporters and her grandfather in their RV. Plus, her brother and friends are just THE BEST, and they plan out safe routes for her and arrange any sort of accommodations she needs.

I know I am being rather vague but I don’t want to give any hints of spoilers, because I think this book will be so much more impactful if you jump right into it. But it does deal with a lot of heavy themes such as toxic masculinity, especially how much women have to be so cautious when we are nice to someone or fear we are giving mixed signals. And also the importance of taking someone’s pleas for help seriously. Y’all, my copy of this book is so heavily tabbed because I could not relate to it more! So many times me and my friends went through similar experiences in high school (and this was back in the early 2000’s) and just seeing Annabelle go through the same things made me so angry and exhausted. It just makes me so sad this is something we still have to deal with today.

Alright, I know I wasn’t extremely detailed in my review but if I could recommend any book to read RIGHT NOW it would be this. Yes, the topics are heavy, but I promise you it is so worth it. It is a story about healing and how running not only helped heal Annabelle, but also brought a whole community, a whole nation, together.

Read further for minor spoilers and trigger warnings:

And, honestly… in light of some recent tragic news in the US in association with gun violence… I just feel this book is so important now more than ever.

Trigger warnings: Unwanted touching, stalking, gun violence, murder, PTSD.

fivestars

Buddy read with Sophie!


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You Owe Me a Murder by Eileen Cook

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ARC provided by HMH in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Kim gets more than she bargained for when she is set up for murder. Perfect for fans of One of Us is Lying, E. Lockhart, and Gillian Flynn.

17-year-old Kim never expected to plot a murder. But that was before her boyfriend dumped her for another girl. Now, Kim’s stuck on a class trip to London with him and his new soulmate and she can’t help wishing he was a little bit dead, even if she’d never really do that.

But when Kim meets Nicki, a stranger on the plane who’s more than willing to listen to Kim’s woes, things start to look up. Nicki’s got a great sense of humor, and when she jokes about swapping murders, Kim plays along—that is, until Kim’s ex-boyfriend mysteriously dies.

Blackmailed by Nicki to fulfill her end of the deal, Kim will have to commit a murder or take the fall for one.


I knew I had to read this the second I found out Eileen Cook was releasing a new book! I have been a fan for a very long time, and I love how Eileen’s books always incorporate a thrilling/mysterious theme.

You Owe Me a Murder follows a similar type of story in line with Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith, which was then made into a film by Alfred Hitchcock. The format goes like this: Two strangers meet, in this case, on a plane. One person expresses that they want someone in their life *gone*, and the other person expresses the same wish. Together they formulate the perfect crime; they swap murders so the crime cannot be linked to themselves.

We first meet Kim, a high school student sitting in an airport waiting on her flight to London. She’s traveling with a small group of students on a 2 week study-abroad, but she’s not in good spirits because her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend are going, too. Noticing how lonely Kim is, Nicki, a stranger, sits beside Kim and they form a sudden kinship. Soon they’re both getting tipsy on stolen vodka on the plane, and they both express how much they’re hurting: Nicki claims her alcoholic mother is ruining her life, while Kim is angry with her ex, Connor. Nicki convinces Kim to write down all the reasons Connor “should die”, and in her drunken stupor, Kim agrees. Then the conversation turns serious and Nicki asks Kim to kill her mother. Kim is stunned, but doesn’t agree to it.

When Kim wakes up from her vodka-induced sleep, the plane has landed in London and Nicki is gone. Thinking it was all just a silly conversation, Kim continues on her school trip — until early on, Connor ends up dead and Kim finds a horrifying note linking Nicki to his death.

Kim also pairs up with a cute boy named Alex, and an insta-love romance blooms. I actually don’t mind insta-love tropes, but one thing that I wasn’t really fond of was when things went into… “unreliable narrator territory.” There are some twists that throw Kim under the unreliable narrator bus, and I just wasn’t loving it. I was also getting frustrated by how poorly Kim was handling everything and how unrealistic Nicki was as a “villain.”

However, I also want to talk about WHY I think Kim reacted the way she did. Sure, it may have annoyed me, but it’s also important to remember that she was in a foreign country, and we all know what happens when young American women start to fall under suspicion by law enforcement. (*Cough* Can we say Amanda Knox? Which, by the way, I feel is now a good time to boost With Malice, because Eileen Cook drew lots of inspiration from Knox’s case for that book.)

But I always enjoy a good whodunnit mystery, and I loved how their investigative adventures took them all over London. I will forever read anything Eileen writes because she has such a knack for writing amazing YA plots and characters. I am always a sucker for any books that take place in Europe.

I think if you want something more adult, then I’d recommend picking up The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson. The strangers-meet-to-swap-murders set-up is similar but with more mature content. But I truly think You Owe Me a Murder is great for younger readers, and it has just the right amount of murder, adventure, and romance!

Trigger warnings: Talks of suicide, alcoholism, cheating, stalking, death of child.

threestars


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In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children, #4) by Seanan McGuire

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ARC provided by Tor.com in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Synopsis:

This fourth entry and prequel tells the story of Lundy, a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.


This is the fourth installment in the Wayward Children series and, once again, Seanan McGuire transported me to such a magical, and yet brutal, realm. I cannot recommend this series enough.

I was always curious about Lundy’s background ever since she made her first appearance in book one, Every Heart a Doorway. In that book, she is an older therapist who works alongside the director of the school. However, she looks like a child. When I learned In an Absent Dream was going to be about Lundy, I was actually a bit nervous because I had a feeling it was going to break my heart.

And it pretty much did. Katherine Lundy’s story here is a prequel to book one, and we follow her from the very first time she found her door. She opens a door to the goblin market, where she quickly learns everything has its price, and that everything that’s traded must be fair value. But what one may consider fair may not be fair to others. It’s a vicious game of paying a toll, and it is a system that Lundy accepts so she can keep visiting the goblin market again and again.

Lundy also meets Moon, someone whom she quickly befriends and is the driving force for her to want to stay in this world. But Lundy also feels tethered and obligated to stay in her mortal world, with her family. Even though she hates that her life is pretty much mapped out for her, she feels deeply torn about leaving her sister. However, she can’t shake the desire to return to the goblin market because it’s the one place where she feels she truly belongs.

This book takes a look at what price we are willing to pay, or what we are wiling to exchange, in order to have the life we want. A life that’s fair for Lundy, who only wants to be able to live with Moon at the goblin market, but still return to visit her family in her mortal world. But Lundy learns so many lessons along the way, and they are horrible, and brutal, and honest — that nothing is fair value even when you’re led to believe otherwise.

I may not have 100% connected with this story as much as I did with Down Among the Sticks and Bones (which is still my favorite) but getting Lundy’s backstory was everything for me.

fourstars


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Blog Tour: In Another Life by C.C. Hunter

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ARC provided by Wednesday Books in exchange for an honest review.

Title: In Another Life

Author: C.C. Hunter

Pages: 352

Genre: YA Contemporary, Mystery

Publication Date: March 26, 2019

Goodreads Synopsis:

Chloe was three years old when she became Chloe Holden, but her adoption didn’t scar her, and she’s had a great life. Now, fourteen years later, her loving parents’ marriage has fallen apart and her mom has moved them to Joyful, Texas. Starting twelfth grade as the new kid at school, everything Chloe loved about her life is gone. And feelings of déjà vu from her early childhood start haunting her.

When Chloe meets Cash Colton she feels drawn to him, as though they’re kindred spirits. Until Cash tells her the real reason he sought her out: Chloe looks exactly like the daughter his foster parents lost years ago, and he’s determined to figure out the truth.

As Chloe and Cash delve deeper into her adoption, the more things don’t add up, and the more strange things start happening. Why is Chloe’s adoption a secret that people would kill for?

This was my first time reading a book by C.C. Hunter and I am definitely intrigued and would love to read more! I am always drawn to mysteries, but sometimes YA mysteries can be a hit or miss for me. However, I really did enjoy this book so much, and although I had a few issues with some of the characters, I really think fans of young romance mixed with a hard-hitting mystery would enjoy this book.

This book follows two POVs: Chloe and Cash. Chloe has a strained relationship with both of her adoptive parents. Her father had an affair and is dating someone new, while her mother is a cancer survivor struggling with depression.

Then there’s Cash, a “mysterious” and “tough” character who enters Chloe’s life when he suspects she might be someone else. Cash is also a foster child living with a married couple, the Fullers. Chloe and Cash’s worlds come together when Cash recognizes Chloe in a missing person’s age progression photo. He thinks she may be the Fuller’s missing child.

This story had a lot going on from the get-go: Chloe and Cash have an insta-love budding romance, Chloe is her mom’s caretaker, Chloe is constantly fighting with her father, Cash has a strained relationship with his foster parents, and then there’s the big mystery of who exactly is Chloe Holden?

While this book starts off feeling more like a contemporary, it quickly turned into a mystery as pieces of the adoption and kidnapping came into play. I also really appreciated how such hard-hitting topics were woven into this story. Cash has an extremely tragic past, and even though he’s with a wonderful foster family, he feels immense guilt for being there.

I think what made me lower my rating a bit on this book was how much Chloe had to act like the adult and caretaker for everyone. Not only was she still struggling with her parent’s divorce and her father’s infidelity, but she also became the sole caretaker for her mother during her cancer treatments. And while I completely understand depression is horrible, I was so mad at her mother for how she treated Chloe. Her mother clearly needed professional help but kept piling her anger toward her ex-husband on to her child. I just… felt really, really uncomfortable reading those scenes.

But I really did love Cash so much. He was trying so hard to do the right thing, and I really liked how his and Chloe’s relationship bloomed. And I really felt for Chloe. I couldn’t even imagine being in her position, let alone finding out I might possibly be a kidnapped child? Like, how would I even begin to process that information?

I really enjoyed how the mystery played out and I was second-guessing a lot of things until the very end. And I found the ending soooo satisfying!

Trigger/content warnings: Cancer, divorce, infidelity, kidnapping, child abuse, depression.


About the author:

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C.C. HUNTER is a pseudonym for award-winning romance author Christie Craig. She is lives in Tomball, Texas, where she’s at work on her next novel.


threestars39863434

You Must Not Miss by Katrina Leno

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ARC provided by The NOVL in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Synopsis:

Magpie Lewis started writing in her yellow notebook the day her family self-destructed. That was the night Eryn, Magpie’s sister, skipped town and left her to fend for herself. That was the night of Brandon Phipp’s party.

Now, Magpie is called a slut whenever she walks down the hallways of her high school, her former best friend won’t speak to her, and she spends her lunch period with a group of misfits who’ve all been socially exiled like she has. And so, feeling trapped and forgotten, Magpie retreats to her notebook, dreaming up a place called Near.

Near is perfect–somewhere where her father never cheated, her mother never drank, and Magpie’s own life never derailed so suddenly. She imagines Near so completely, so fully, that she writes it into existence, right in her own backyard. It’s a place where she can have anything she wants…even revenge.

Wow, I truly didn’t think I was going to love this book so much. This was my first novel by Katrina Leno and I now want to real ALL her books, please!

This book was so quiet as it built up to one of the most satisfying endings I’ve ever read. And while You Must Not Miss is marketed as a contemporary, I’d like to say it very much has magical realism and subtle thriller elements. Because as we see the things that happen in Near? My heart was racing, and I was also living for all those spooky vibes!

This book is about Margaret (aka “Magpie” according to her family), a high school sophomore who had a major falling out with her best friend, Allison. Her parents are also going through a separation, which has triggered her mother’s alcoholism again. To make matters worse, Magpie caught her father cheating, and she keeps reliving that horrible moment of walking in on him naked.

But Magpie is also harboring another traumatic experience, one so bad she can’t even talk about. So she starts writing a fictional world called Near. This world is perfect; her parents are together, her sister hasn’t abandoned her — her life isn’t in shambles.

And then one day, when she’s feeling so overwhelmed, she notices a door. A door that leads her to Near. Her fictional world became real and she learns she can use it to get anything she wants.

From here things take a much darker turn, but I was LIVING for these scenes. I love how one moment I’m getting The Wayward Children vibes (secret doors!), and the next I’m feeling thoroughly creeped out (people in Near kept winking at Magpie. I don’t know why but that always gave me goosebumps.) I’m not saying this book is horror at all, but I loved how subtly everything built up to the point where I was rooting on Magpie to unleash her revenge.

I also want to gush about the bisexual rep (there is a bisexual male student), and there is a trans boy (my favorite character ever). What I loved is that nobody made a big deal about these characters being who they are. There are no hurtful comments or misuse of gender pronouns by other characters, which is so refreshing! I also loved Magpie’s group of friends so much.

This book also addresses so many hard-hitting themes, such as toxic masculinity, rape culture, victim blaming, feelings of deep-rooted guilt, and reclaiming our bodies. It also heavily revolves around adultery and alcoholism. Please use caution if those are major triggers for you. I know there were a few instances where I had to set the book down due to some of these topics.

I truly hope you pick up this book come April 23rd. I read it in just a few sittings and I cannot stop thinking about it. I would not be opposed to a sequel because that ending really left me wanting more!

Trigger warnings: Sexual assault and rape, abuse from a parent, parental infidelity, divorce, alcoholism, underage drinking, slut shaming, abandonment.

Buddy read with Madalyn! ❤

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Dragons & Tea Book Club: April Book Announcement!

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Hello, friends! How is this year already flying by so fast!? I can’t believe we are already announcing our fourth book club pick of 2019! Melanie and I are so excited to announce this Latinx author who has written some of our favorite books! We hope you’ll be able to join us for this round.


Our April book will be:

WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS by Anna-Marie McLemore:

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The Dates & Breakdown:

April 8th — Pages 1 – 56 “Bay of Trust”

April 9th — Pages 57 – 107 “Sea of Waves”

April 10th — Pages 108 – 156 “Sea of Tranquility”

April 11th — Pages 157 – 217 “Bay of Dew”

April 12th — Pages 218 – End

Why we chose this book:

Anna-Marie McLemore writes such beautiful, lyrical prose, where she weaves magical realism with so much diversity. This ownvoices book follows the romance between a Latina girl and a trans boy (McLemore is married to a trans man), but they must stay away from four beautiful sisters who are rumored to be witches.

Also, I highly recommend checking out Chaima’s review!


Don’t forget to join our Goodreads Group!

And we will also follow discussions/your reading journey on Twitter and Instagram using the (hashtag) #DragonsAndTeaBookClub!


See you then! ❤

🐉☕ Melanie: Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads
🐉☕ Amy: Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads