Mini reviews banner: Reviewathon edition, featuring She's got Game, The Gamer's Guide to Getting the Girl, Mooncakes and The Tea Dragon Festival
Book reviews

Mini reviews: The #Reviewathon edition #1

Good morning bookworms!

We are OFFICIALLY just past a third of the way into ARC August, so I am keen to post some of my ARC reviews. Although I’ve been pushing through them so quickly (HUZZAH!) that I actually don’t have enough days to do full reviews for each book… so what’s a gal to do? Well, mini reviews seem like the best idea – and in fact, I might do a couple of these throughout the month!

She's Got Game

Release date: 13 August 2019
Goodreads link
Rating3.5 stars

She’s Got Game (Gamer Girls #1) blurb:

Travel blogger Gwen Williams is about to live the dream—competing in the annual Annual Explorers of Islay competition. She’s up against some stiff competition, namely legendary gamer and four-time champ Cody McKay. The seriously buff hottie and shameless flirt is going all-out to seduce her. That’s when Gwen lays her cards on the table: She never, ever mixes gaming with romance . . . until resisting Cody becomes a losing proposition. 

As Gwen gives in to temptation, everything’s in play for a major heartache. With the rounds heating up and players eliminated, she knows she’s gambling a lot more than a seat at the final table in Vegas. But Cody’s kisses promise more than a fleeting romance. If she plays her cards right, Gwen just might walk off with the championship and the man of her dreams.

This was a cute story, although it was very predictable.

The characters were sweet, although they did come across a little bit two-dimensional, with the side characters almost filling in tick boxes for plot points, in order to move the story along. The female friendships were great though, and I did love the diversity – Gwen is bi and I felt represented in her, and one of her friends is aro/ace, although I felt this could have been delved into a bit more (hopefully in the third book if there is one).

The board game competition was intense, and I do wish they could have used an actual game, as opposed to a made up one, but I guess you’d need to have endorsement from the makers of the game. However, I did feel that a chunk of this story (the story wasn’t long) was spent describing the mechanics of the game.

The romance was an instant-chemistry, but rivals, story, which was good, and it was fun to read. Although I did wish that they just communicated better, and some things were never explained.

The story does skip around a lot with chunks of time missing, which made it a bit harder to follow, and then catch up on what had happened, but overall it was a good read.

I received a digital ARC of this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Gamer's Guide to Getting the Girl

Release date: 21 June 2019
Goodreads link
2.5 stars

The Gamer’s Guide to Getting the Girl blurb:

Strategy is everything when it comes to gaming — and girls.

Zach is used to living in a world of legendary battles, epic journeys, and life-or-death situations. As a gamer, he is hard-wired for adventure, even though it’s from the comfort of his parents’ couch. But nothing has prepared him for battling the biggest storm in Saskatchewan’s history while trapped in the local mall.

On top of everything, Zach has finally met the girl of his dreams, but he finds himself helping everyone else stay safe while his best friend spends time with her. What Zach doesn’t realize is that love always finds its way when you’ve found the right person and are ready to risk it all to save the day.

This was definitely the highest drama book I have read for a while. Between the romantic escapades and the bro-drama, there was also the tornado, the looting, and a bunch of health issues. It was definitely a lot going on. And to be totally honest, I’m not entirely sure that all of it was required in order to tell a meaningful story. It was a really intense read.

Apart from where there was just a lot of shit going down, I liked the way the story tried to give Zach, our MC, a noble cause. He’s just that nice, but kind of nerdy guy, who wants to help but in a normal scenario doesn’t have a lot of confidence. Which was fine, and while I understood his motivations, I don’t really feel like HE understood his motivations. It was nearly like the book was too grown up for him (which is fair because he’s 15 years old).

The rest of the cast of characters weren’t really solid either. A lot of the characters did things that I felt people wouldn’t necessarily do in that sort of situation. I mean, would you hand your baby to a complete stranger? I also felt like a lot of the side characters existed purely to push Zach in a direction he needed to go, or to show him in a good light for the love interest. I did really like George though – I felt like he was the only really solid one in the mix.

The romance felt awkward and a bit clumsy. (And maybe it should have since they were 15.) But then I felt like we skipped some things, and suddenly they were good. I don’t know, I guess I just wasn’t sold.

Overall, it felt like a middle-grade / YA book for boys. Soft boys. Heterosexual boys. Who like video games and have anxiety about talking to girls. Because I can see so many of them racing to stores to buy romance novels. But it was … fine.

I received a digital ARC of this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Release date: 15 October 2018
Goodreads link
Rating4.5 stars

Mooncakes blurb:

A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.

Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town. One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods.

As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home. Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help.

Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.

This is possibly one of the most beautiful graphic novels I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I mean, I would genuinely read all the adventures of Nova and Tam forever.

Firstly, the diversity in this story are amazing. Nova is raised by her two grandmothers, Tam in non-binary (I love seeing the use of ‘they/them’ pronouns and that everyone is just ‘sure’, and they RESPECT IT. It makes me so happy!), and although it’s never explicitly stated, I would say that Nova is pansexual. And no one cares, or makes a big deal about any of it, and that in itself is magic and I just want society to be exactly the same.

Nova also uses hearing aids, and cannot hear anything when she’s not wearing them, so we also have amazing disability representation as well. Again, this is just a thing that is, and no one makes a huge deal of it. (I mean, really, why can’t society be this good?)

The story itself is really good. There’s enough drama so that it’s not too slow, and there’s enough slow so that it’s not a stressful read. There’s some small plot twists, which is actually a huge achievement in a novel of this length. Also, family, found family, and acceptance were really big themes in this.

The characters all felt like they had their own identity, and each of them had different motivations. The art was gorgeous – although my digital copy had colours missing from the last two chapters, but I assume this won’t be the case in the finished copy!

Overall, this was just a really cute story about learning who you are, where you’re going on your journey, and being true to who you want to be. (Also the romance was sooo sweet!!)

I received a digital ARC of this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Tea Dragon Festival

Release date: 18 September 2019
Goodreads link
Rating4 stars

The Tea Dragon Festival (Tea Dragons, #2) blurb:

Rinn has grown up with the Tea Dragons that inhabit their village, but stumbling across a real dragon turns out to be a different matter entirely! Aedhan is a young dragon who was appointed to protect the village but fell asleep in the forest eighty years ago. With the aid of Rinn’s adventuring uncle Erik and his partner Hesekiel, they investigate the mystery of his enchanted sleep, but Rinn’s real challenge is to help Aedhan come to terms with feeling that he cannot get back the time he has lost.

Critically-acclaimed graphic novelist Katie O’Neill delivers another charming, gentle fantasy story about finding your purpose, and the community that helps you along the way.

Book 1: The Tea Dragon Society

The Tea Dragon Festival is set a number of years before The Tea Dragon Society. In fact, it has Erik and Hesekiel when they are much younger. The story primarily focuses on Rinn, Erik’s niece and her discovery of an actual dragon.

The village they live in, Silverleaf Village, is gorgeous, with a beautiful little community. I particularly loved how Katie always seamlessly weaves a disability representation into her story. In this one of the villagers, Lesa, has a hearing disability and uses sign language to communicate with everyone. I adore that it’s just a thing that everyone knows and understands and that it’s not seen as unusual. It’s just how Lesa communicates. But even more than that, I love that she’s still a huge part of the community, that she has her place as head cook for the village. Her way of communicating doesn’t hamper her ability.

I do wish that Katie had have explored gender in dragons a little more. It was touched on very briefly, but I’m hoping for another story with Rinn and the dragon!

I also love the way that memories are explored, not just in this story, but both of the Tea Dragon books. There is some magic with the tea that enhances your ability to see or experience other people’s memories. I find that this reminds me of how people used to share history before books and writing became common practice, that stories used to be shared by word of mouth, by songs and fables. Especially at shared events like village feasts and such.

Overall I found this story really sweet, but I liked The Tea Dragon Society just a little bit more.

I received a digital ARC of this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am having such a fun time getting through these ARCs!! I’m looking forward to the next lot of them!!

What’s an ARC that you’re hoping to read soon? Or one that you wish you had?!


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