Book Reviews, Contemporary, Fantasy, Thriller/Suspense/Crime Fiction, Young Adult

Mini Book Reviews: May 2020 – Part 3

*Books included in this batch of mini book reviews: Far from the Tree by Robin Benway, Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin, The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan, and Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis


» Far from the Tree by Robin Benway



5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked» Far From the Tree is a beautiful YA contemporary that explores adoption, family, identity, teen pregnancy, and love.

» Told in 3 different perspectives, I enjoyed the journey & development of each of these characters.  Grace, Maya, and Joaquin’s perspectives were each fleshed out and distinct.  The three separate experiences worked well here and really enhanced the story.

» Benway did a wonderful job exploring the complexities of adoption, both for individuals giving their child up for adoption and for individuals that are products of adoption.

» Far from the Tree is both heartbreaking and heartwarming, making for an emotional roller coaster ride reading experience.

› Recommended to ⇒ fans of emotional YA contemporaries

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ alcoholism; teen pregnancy; adoption

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo


» Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin



WhatILiked» I’m a fan of the hate-to-love trope, and that is just what this was.  I enjoyed watching the slow-burn romance between Lou & Reid blossom over the course of the book.  The playful banter between them was on point.

» I really found this world & political system to be fascinating!  I loved the 17th century France vibes.

» The story was deliciously atmospheric, perfect for a cold or rainy day.

WhatIDidntLike» The storyline focused too heavily on the romance.  This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy the romance, just that I don’t care for fantasy books where the romance is the central plot.

» This was heavily character driven book, therefore the plot was not as action-packed as you would expect from fantasy.

»  Serpent & Dove is one of those stories where you begin with little buildup or backstory, and the author slowly reveals details as they go.  This approach can be a hit or miss, and in this case it was a miss.  The world-building was lacking, which is a shame since it was so intriguing.OverallWhile I can definitely see why people are loving this book, it came up a bit short for me.  I am not sure if I will continue on with this series or not.  I am not opposed to reading the next installment, but it won’t be high up on my priority list.

› Recommended to ⇒ fantasy fans that center around romance

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ *I would classify this book as an older YA book for readers 16+ due to a graphic sex scene*

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ The Cruel Prince by Holly Black and An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

» The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan



5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked» I was pleasantly surprised with the depth to this book.  The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali  tackles heavy topics like problematic family dynamics, homophobia, discrimination, arranged marriage, cultural differences, identity, etc.

» I loved seeing all the Bengali culture woven throughout the book – food, dress, customs, etc. 

» I feel like this book will be very relatable for teens of any type of conservative parents, especially for teens that don’t see eye to eye with their parents’ conservative views.  It was a great portrayal of the struggles of a teen who feels they need to hide their true self from their parents because they are afraid of their scorn.

» I loved the relationship between Rukhsana & her brother, despite the fact there was every reason for her to resent him.

WhatIDidntLike» I had a few complaints with regards to the plot.  I can’t really get into my issues because of spoilers, but felt that some plot points were not fully developed, thus didn’t pack the emotional punch that was intended.

» Arianna, Rukhsana’s love interest, was not fleshed out at all.  Not only was her characterization nonexistent, but she wasn’t exactly cast in a likable light.  Instead of feeling sympathy towards her and her situation, I felt annoyed with her character.

» Things were tided up way too nicely, especially in regards to the relationship between  Rukhsana and her parents.

› Recommended to ⇒ fans of culturally diverse YA books

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ homophobia; domestic violence, forced arranged marriage; hate crime

» Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis


5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked

» As per usual, Mindy McGinnis wrote another harrowing YA book.  Be Not Far From Me was uncomfortable to read at certain points.  The overall tone is very grim & unsettling, so make sure you are in the right mood to read this type of book.

» I love survival stories, so I enjoyed this story about a girl that has gotten lost alone in the woods and must find her way back out.  The survivalist aspects felt very realistic & well researched.

» Ashley was a fantastic YA main character.  She was flawed, strong, smart (aside from running into the woods & getting lost in the first place), and real.  I loved her spunk and determination.  She is one of those characters that you might not exactly like at first, but she grows on you throughout her ordeal, and you can’t help but root for her.

» I loved the wilderness setting here.  The way McGinnis describes the backdrop of the Tennessee mountains – basically how unforgiving & perilous the wilderness can be – added to the ambiance of the story.

› Recommended to ⇒ fans of survival stories

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ cheating; graphic scenes



Have you read any of these books?  If so, what did you think?

Comment below & let me know 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Mini Book Reviews: May 2020 – Part 3”

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