eARC Review – Don’t Read the Comments

Title: Don’t Read the Comments

Author: Eric Smith

Publisher: Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press

Publication date: January 28th, 2020

320 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Divya Sharma is a queen. Or she is when she’s playing Reclaim the Sun, the year’s hottest online game. Divya—better known as popular streaming gamer D1V—regularly leads her #AngstArmada on quests through the game’s vast and gorgeous virtual universe. But for Divya, this is more than just a game. Out in the real world, she’s trading her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay the rent.

Gaming is basically Aaron Jericho’s entire life. Much to his mother’s frustration, Aaron has zero interest in becoming a doctor like her, and spends his free time writing games for a local developer. At least he can escape into Reclaim the Sun—and with a trillion worlds to explore, disappearing should be easy. But to his surprise, he somehow ends up on the same remote planet as celebrity gamer D1V.

At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other to face infinite new worlds…and the growing legion of trolls populating them. Soon the virtual harassment seeps into reality when a group called the Vox Populi begin launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron’s dreams and Divya’s actual life. The online trolls think they can drive her out of the game, but everything and everyone Divya cares about is on the line…

And she isn’t going down without a fight. 

Review

**Thank you to Inkyard Press, Eric Smith, and Netgalley for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Divya is a high school student who spends her time on Glitch, a gaming website where she is an influencer. She has thousands of followers and plays the game, Reclaim the Sun, a space exploration gaming program. This is her income as she attempts to support her mom financially through grad school after her father leaves them to start a new life. Divya is known online as D1V, and is always super careful about how much personal information she gives out. Unfortunately, she is attacked in the game by some racist, sexist dudes who send her a photo of her house to scare her. Don’t Read the Comments follows Divya as she deals with online trolls who take the trolling off the internet and into her life, while she is also trying to learn how to trust people. It’s a hard task for her, let me tell you.

Divya meets Aaron, the other POV in this book, within the game and over the book she learns to trust him even which the attacks happening to her and her family. Aaron is a gamer whose dream is to write the scripts for games, not be a doctor like his mom wants. He works for his friend who owns a gaming company, even though the money for his work hasn’t come around yet. His story follows him helping Divya and dealing with his career and life within the gaming community.

I enjoyed this book, even though gaming is not my style. It was a great story about online trolling, the rampant racism and sexism in the gaming community, and find friendship among the fray. There is assault, harassment, and hurtful comments thrown at Divya because “she deserves it” for being well known on the internet and being a brown girl in gaming. It’s super annoying, but unfortunately accurate to how people are treated in male dominated areas.

I enjoyed the dual POV’s a lot, it was nice to see the story from both Divya and Aaron’s perspectives. Their stories intertwine but are still very separate. The love story is nice and simply, not much because they are high schoolers. The focus is more on the friendship and trust between two people who met online rather than the romantic nature that could happen between them.

For fans of video games and contemporary novels, Don’t Read the Comments will be the nerdy book you’ve been waiting for.

happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – Soul of the Sword (spoilers)

Title: Soul of the Sword

Author: Julie Kagawa

Publisher: Harlequin Teen/Inkyard Press

Publication date: June 18th, 2019

304 pages

4.25/5

Goodreads Synopsis

One thousand years ago, a wish was made to the Harbinger of Change and a sword of rage and lightning was forged. Kamigoroshi. The Godslayer. It had one task: to seal away the powerful demon Hakaimono.

Now he has broken free.

Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has one task: to take her piece of the ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple in order to prevent the summoning of the Harbinger of Change, the great Kami Dragon who will grant one wish to whomever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. But she has a new enemy now. The demon Hakaimono, who for centuries was trapped in a cursed sword, has escaped and possessed the boy she thought would protect her, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan.

Hakaimono has done the unthinkable and joined forces with the Master of Demons in order to break the curse of the sword and set himself free. To overthrow the empire and cover the land in darkness, they need one thing: the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. As the paths of Yumeko and the possessed Tatsumi cross once again, the entire empire will be thrown into chaos.

Review

Is this an ‘I’m sorry I tried to assassinate you’ tea ceremony?

julie kagawa, soul of the sword

First off, HUGE thanks to Netgalley and Harlequin Teen for providing me an eARC of this title in exchange for an honest review. The following opinions are mine alone. This was my first time having the opportunity to read and review a book that has yet to be officially released, and I will be forever grateful.

Now, onto the review. My babies Yumeko, Daisuke, and Okame are back and still getting into trouble. Now, they are tasked with saving Tatsumi from Hakaimono and ya know, saving the empire from the Master of Demons.

I enjoyed Soul a lot more than I did Shadow. I think I got more comfortable with the Japanese terms and language – along with what it means for the story line. On the flip side, the author added even more terms to this book than Shadow, which was a lot. She added at like 10 more types of demons/ghosts/undead spirits. My head was spinning trying to keep them straight.

Soul went the usual path I feel trilogies take, much of the plot line was spent setting up the third book. This can generally lead to a more boring book, but I felt that Soul traversed this ground well and never felt boring. She managed to set up the final book while also providing enough action and drama to keep you hooked through the book.

It crushed my heart that Tatsumi was so sad during this book! He just wanted to save Yumeko after she managed to elicit emotions in him for the first time in years – but he was powerless to help her through 99% of the book! And poor Yumeko had no concept that he had feelings for her (or that she had feelings for him) because she had no experience with this.

My favorite part? We have an LGBTQIA relationship sighting!! It took me COMPLETELY by surprise but I absolutely love it. Especially in a culture that is traditionally non supportive of such relationships and when one half of the couple is part of the noble, ruling family. But Daisuke was very forward thinking in pursuing the relationship and going for what he wants – regardless of their culture and the expectations of him. The romance melted my heart and I will ship Daisuke and Okame forever.

The few tiny aspects that took Soul below a 5 star read for me was the final fight scene, cliffhanger at the end, and the mysteriousness of Seigetsu. The final fight scene was very anticlimactic (though props to Yumeko for that fake out) and had me wanting more. I am just not too happy with how the book ended, and am hopeful that it is all sorted out in the final book. And who is this Seigetsu person acting like the puppet master? It’s starting to irritate me, because I can’t tell if he is a “good” or “bad” character. For these reasons, I couldn’t give it a whole 5 stars.

Soul of the Sword will be released tomorrow, June 18th so if you loved Shadow of the Fox, you should definitely go check it out!

Thanks for reading, friends 🙂

Book Review – Shadow of the Fox

Title: Shadow of the Fox

Author: Julie Kagawa

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

409 pages

3.75/5

Goodreads Synopsis

One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.

Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.

Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.

There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.

With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.

Review

It is very hard to be human, little fox. Even the humans themselves don’t do a great job of it.

-julie kagawa, Shadow of the fox

Hello again friends! I read Shadow of the Fox as a library book because Harlequin Teen was kind enough to grant me an eARC of Soul of the Sword to review (which will be the next review I post!) so I obviously had to read Shadow first!

I knew absolutely nothing of this book going in, and didn’t even read the synopsis before beginning. Big mistake. I was so confused reading this in the beginning – the whole first chapter seems to introduce a main character… but then she dies… (which isn’t a spoiler because after further perusal I noticed that her death is mentioned in like, the first paragraph). But I was thrown when I read that. I definitely should have read the synopsis before just jumping into this one.

I ended up liking this book, but it took me a good while to get into it. It was still sitting at a solid 3 stars when I was getting into the last quarter or so of the book. Here’s why:

  1. Generally, I don’t know much about Japanese culture. Honestly, my boyfriend had to tell me that this book was set in a Japanese culture. This is one area that I am woefully ignorant, which made it hard to understand. The writing is dense with traditional Japanese terms that hold little to no meaning for me, so I felt like I wasn’t understanding 2/3’s of the plot and characters. Not Julie Kagawa’s fault – but eye opening to see I need to read up and do some research. Over the length of the book, this got easier, but it took awhile.
  2. I could not connect with the main characters, Yumeko and Kage Tatsumi, for the longest time. The character arcs were a long time coming and they were very flat for most of the book. Yumeko is young & innocent, prone to mischief due to her fox like nature (she is half fox – can use magic – called in this world “kitsune”). Tatsumi is emotionless. Literally. It’s his job to be a walking robot slaying demons. Doesn’t exactly lend to an interesting or likable character. Frankly, he wanted to kill Yumeko immediately upon them meeting.

These two reasons made it so hard to get into this book. BUT – I will say they both improved by the very end of the book. I started to understand the terms more (thank you glossary in the back!) and the characters became more defined. You started to see more of Yumeko’s cleverness (even for a peasant girl) and Tatsumi’s desire to be more than a weapon for his clan. More characters are added to provide depth – and it begins to work. The gang gets in, and out, of a few jams and they really grow together as a #squad. Taiyo Daisuke could get it. Forreal.

But y’allll… that CLIFFHANGER. I’m so glad I had access to the next title because I was shook. This is a no spoiler review so that’s all I will say…

Overall, a few small things took this book lower than 5. I will be reading the second (in the trilogy) and reviewing it shortly. I will definitely continue on in this series, and I recommend it if Asian culture based books are your jam!

Thanks for reading, friends 🙂