mini book reviews (ft. diverse new releases!!) ♡

hey guys! i recently read three #ownvoices books written by diverse authors, and since their release dates are so close to each other, i thought i’d just publish all of my thoughts in a single post. i really enjoyed these books, and i’m so excited to be sharing them with you all.


i received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. all opinions below are my own.

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Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Torres sisters dream of escape. Escape from their needy and despotic widowed father, and from their San Antonio neighborhood, full of old San Antonio families and all the traditions and expectations that go along with them. In the summer after her senior year of high school, Ana, the oldest sister, falls to her death from her bedroom window. A year later, her three younger sisters, Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa, are still consumed by grief and haunted by their sister’s memory. Their dream of leaving Southtown now seems out of reach. But then strange things start happening around the house: mysterious laughter, mysterious shadows, mysterious writing on the walls. The sisters begin to wonder if Ana really is haunting them, trying to send them a message—and what exactly she’s trying to say.
In a stunning follow-up to her National Book Award–longlisted novel All the Wind in the World, Samantha Mabry weaves an aching, magical novel that is one part family drama, one part ghost story, and one part love story.

i don’t know how to start this review, so i’ll get straight to the point – I LOVED TIGERS, NOT DAUGHTERS.

the book reminded me so much of little women (i am referring to the 2019 film version, because unfortunately i still haven’t gotten around to reading the original novel 😞) – the relationship dynamics between the sisters are captured so well, and each of them have well-developed personalities and a different interest of their own.

i loved the author’s poetic writing. there is something eerily beautiful about the sentences with a deeper meaning in every word, and it makes you want to read them slowly, over and over again. i highlighted so many paragraphs, my kindle started acting sluggish. i especially loved reading the parts about rosa – she’s such a mysterious, curious character, and the author’s writing made her seem extra magical.

human hearts are very complicated. they can pull a person this way, then that. they can convince someone easy things are hard, or cloudy things are clear.

tigers, not daughters by samantha mabry

the supernatural elements in the story made me realize how much i missed reading magical realism. it’s one of my favorite genres, but i haven’t read any so far this year until i picked up tigers, not daughters. ana, who comes back as a ghost to haunt her sisters, keeps meddling with things around their home. her intentions aren’t revealed until later in the story, and it had me on the edge of my seat. i literally could not put the book down and ended up finishing it in one sitting.

overall, tigers, not daughters is a beautifully-written, emotional tale about sisters with a special bond. samantha mabry’s writing really blew me away, and i hope to read her other book, all the wind in the world soon.

trigger warnings: abusive family relationship, abusive romantic relationship, death
rep: latinx, hearing impairment (loss of pitch)



i received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. all opinions below are my own
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A Wish in the Dark: Soontornvat, Christina: 9781536204940: Amazon ...

A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A boy on the run. A girl determined to find him. A compelling fantasy looks at issues of privilege, protest, and justice.
All light in Chattana is created by one man — the Governor, who appeared after the Great Fire to bring peace and order to the city. For Pong, who was born in Namwon Prison, the magical lights represent freedom, and he dreams of the day he will be able to walk among them. But when Pong escapes from prison, he realizes that the world outside is no fairer than the one behind bars. The wealthy dine and dance under bright orb light, while the poor toil away in darkness. Worst of all, Pong’s prison tattoo marks him as a fugitive who can never be truly free.
Nok, the prison warden’s perfect daughter, is bent on tracking Pong down and restoring her family’s good name. But as Nok hunts Pong through the alleys and canals of Chattana, she uncovers secrets that make her question the truths she has always held dear. Set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world, Christina Soontornvat’s twist on Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is a dazzling, fast-paced adventure that explores the difference between law and justice — and asks whether one child can shine a light in the dark. 

“you can’t run away from darkness,” pong whispered. “it’s everywhere. the only way to see through it is to shine a light.”

a wish in the dark by christina soontornvat

the french novel les misérables is famous for exploring the topics of poverty, wealth disparity and justice, and these are all handled equally well in a wish in the dark, which has been dubbed “a retelling of les misérables set in a thai-inspired world”.

in the book, social status is represented by what kind of orbs you use. since fire is banned, orbs are the only source of light for the citizens of chattana, but not everyone can afford the best ones – the rich bask in the luxury of bright lights, while the poor can only use the dimmest, cheapest kind of light. i loved the clever use of symbolism, and the world-building was so amazing. thailand, with its delicious food, friendly people, and rich culture, is one of my favorite countries in the entire world, and i enjoyed seeing it represented in the form of a fantasy world ❤

the relationships in this book gave me the warmest fuzzies. the friendship between somkit and pong is so, so beautiful – they are always there for each other, and each one of them are so forgiving and loyal towards the other. i also loved father cham and how he always manages to see the good in every single person. his little blessings for pong are so incredibly sweet, and i couldn’t help smiling at every one of them. on top of that, we witness the development of nok’s relationship with her parents – in the beginning, nok feels that she’s seen as “imperfect” and always worries about ruining her family’s reputation, but at the end, her father explains the truth to her and tells her how much he loves her, and i literally couldn’t stop smiling giddily.

in conclusion, a wish in the dark is a story with wholesome relationships and incredible world-building, discussing social issues such as wealth disparity and equality through beautiful storytelling. the book made me so happy, and i highly recommend it ♡

trigger warnings: death
rep: thai


i received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. all opinions below are my own.

Music from Another World

Music from Another World by Robin Talley

Rating: 4 out of 5.

It’s summer 1977 and closeted lesbian Tammy Larson can’t be herself anywhere. Not at her strict Christian high school, not at her conservative Orange County church and certainly not at home, where her ultrareligious aunt relentlessly organizes antigay political campaigns. Tammy’s only outlet is writing secret letters in her diary to gay civil rights activist Harvey Milk…until she’s matched with a real-life pen pal who changes everything.
Sharon Hawkins bonds with Tammy over punk music and carefully shared secrets, and soon their letters become the one place she can be honest. The rest of her life in San Francisco is full of lies. The kind she tells for others—like helping her gay brother hide the truth from their mom—and the kind she tells herself. But as antigay fervor in America reaches a frightening new pitch, Sharon and Tammy must rely on their long-distance friendship to discover their deeply personal truths, what they’ll stand for…and who they’ll rise against.
A master of award-winning queer historical fiction, New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley once again brings to life with heart and vivid detail an emotionally captivating story about the lives of two teen girls living in an age when just being yourself was an incredible act of bravery.

i have always wanted a pen pal. i find the idea of writing back and forth with someone you’ve never met, and fully trusting them with stuff you wouldn’t even tell your closest friends really exciting. in this book, we learn about tammy and sharon’s struggles of growing up gay in an religious environment through the letters they write to each other through the pen pal programme they sign up for.

i loved seeing tammy and sharon slowly bond over time. it was such a beautiful process – at first, the both of them write to each other simply for the sake of answering their assigned questions, and gradually, their conversation blossoms into meaningful discussions about punk music and their deepest secrets. i loved their pledge to be 100% honest to each other in the letters, and it’s amazing that although they cannot confide in the people around them, they have each other.

i believe in god, and i’m also a great supporter of lgbtq+ rights, so i related to both tammy and sharon’s experiences of dealing with people at church who have opposing beliefs. i absolutely despised tammy’s aunt, and i felt so frustrated seeing her use religion as an excuse for personal prejudices. on the other hand, seeing activists like harvey milk and the girls from the feminist bookstore join hands to fight for gay rights made me so happy and hopeful.

to conclude, music from another world is a story about acceptance, activism and love. some parts were upsetting to read, but the ending’s so incredibly hopeful. if you’re a fan of nancy garden’s annie on my mind, you’d enjoy this book for sure.

trigger warnings: outing without permission, homophobia
rep: gay, lesbian, bisexual


have you read any of the books i reviewed in this post? what were your thoughts? are there any diverse new releases you recommend? let me know in the comments!

14 thoughts on “mini book reviews (ft. diverse new releases!!) ♡

  1. I haven’t read any of these before but I am so happy you could love all of them and find some really good new diverse reads. I love the cover for Tigers, Not Daughters dand I am so going to be reading it for sure. Added it to my list! I am also so here for the wholesome relationships in A Wish in the Dark.

    Olivia-S @ Olivia’s Catastrophe

    Liked by 1 person

  2. all of these sound so diverse and amazing! 😍😍 i’ve heard many good things about A Wish In The Dark, but now i want to read Tigers, Not Daughters and Music From Another World as well. your reviews were so fun to read, Chloe! hope you’re doing well ❤ xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. i smiled so much seeing a wish in the dark on this list of reviews, especially seeing your five-star rating!! i really want more people to read it, and i’m so so happy you enjoyed it ❤ definitely agree that pong and somkit's friendship was the absolute best!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. i’m so happy my review made you smile, and i really want more people to read it too! it’s my first time reading a book with thai culture in it, and i know how much that representation means to you ♡ your goodreads review was actually what made me pick up a wish in the dark in the first place, so i owe you a big thank you for introducing me to the book.

      Like

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