Teen Book Review: If You Could See the Sun by Ann Liang

If You Could See the Sun by Ann Liang

A Book Review by Mina Nguyen

If You Could See the Sun is a relatable slowburn,  academic rivals-to-lovers read. Alice Sun is the ideal student: smart, ambitious, and a leader. Alice Sun thrives on academic validation, constantly ranking the top of her class. It’s the only way she feels seen at her elite Beijing international boarding school among the richest, most influential teens. Her only competition is Henry, but she’s sure she can beat him. However, this plan becomes complicated when she begins to turn invisible. When her parents drop the news that they can no longer afford her tuition, she sets a plan in action. Using her invisibility, she’ll monetize her classmate’s scandalous secrets, but she needs Henry’s help. But as the tasks escalate, turning from petty scandals to crimes, Alice must decide if these crimes are worth the money she’s making to remain at school.

This is a great debut novel. The romance is nuanced and well-developed, especially for such a short read. All the characters, even the side characters, were flushed out and well-rounded. Every character had a personality, and the side-characters had a purpose rather than to progress the development of Alice. Alice is an extremely well-written character. She’s relatable, and the author does a good job of making her realistic. A lot of readers would relate to her character. This book has some fantasy elements through her turning invisible, and Liang does a great job of using the fantasy element in a contemporary read. It falls into the book naturally, and there are no plot holes. The author does a good job of integrating it into the book naturally. I also appreciated the perspective of the elite and the constant scandals to stay at the top. Liang also does a great job of explaining the feelings of imposter syndrome and basing self-worth through academics and how it can mentally affect students negatively. I can definitely see myself easily picking up future books by this author. This was an incredible debut novel, and I can’t wait to see what she writes in the future.



Foul Lady Fortune by Chloe-Gong My Mechanical Romance by Alex Farol Follmuth /Today, Tonight, Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon /Not Here to be Liked by Michelle Quach

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Books to Read for Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year starts January 22nd. For many East and Southeast Asian cultures and communities, this day will mark the start of a new year, the Year of the Water Rabbit. Whether you celebrate the holiday yourself, or want to learn more about it, here are a few children’s books that take place during Lunar New Year.


Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim

In this Chinese American retelling of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” a careless Goldy Luck wreaks havoc on the home of a family of panda bears. She eats up the littlest panda’s rice porridge, breaks his rocking chair, and rumples all the blankets on his futon. When Goldy takes responsibility for her actions, she makes a new friend (and a whole plate of turnip cakes!) just in time for Chinese New Year.

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How to Catch a Dragon by Adam Wallace

The How to Catch kids are off again, this time trying to catch a dragon as they chase him through Chinese New Year celebrations! Set in China during the Spring Festival, otherwise known as Chinese New Year, the wily dragon will have to avoid trap after trap as the kids run through paper lanterns, red envelopes, fireworks, and more! Bonus Mandarin translation included in the back!

Dragons are a clever bunch,
They’re difficult to catch.
You’ll have to set the ultimate trap–
But have you met your match?

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The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang

Tong tong! The legendary Nian monster has returned at Chinese New Year. With horns, scales, and wide, wicked jaws, Nian is intent on devouring Shanghai, starting with Xingling! The old tricks to keep him away don’t work on Nian anymore, but Xingling is clever. Will her quick thinking be enough to save the city from the Nian Monster?

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Friends are Friends Forever by Dane Liu

A picture book based on the author’s own immigration story, the infinite impact of friendship, and passing on love and kindness around the world.

On a snowy Chinese New Year’s Eve in Northeastern China, it’s Dandan’s last night with Yueyue. Tomorrow, she moves to America. The two best friends have a favorite wintertime tradition: crafting paper-cut snowflakes, freezing them outside, and hanging them as ornaments.
As they say goodbye, Yueyue presses red paper and a spool of thread into Dandan’s hands so that she can carry on their tradition. But in her new home, Dandan has no one to enjoy the gift with—until a friend comes along.

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Ruby’s Chinese New Year by Vickie Lee

In this picture book celebrating Chinese New Year, animals from the Chinese zodiac help a little girl deliver a gift to her grandmother.

Ruby has a special card to give to her grandmother for Chinese New Year. But who will help her get to grandmother’s house to deliver it? Will it be clever Rat, strong Ox, or cautious Rabbit? Ruby meets each of the twelve zodiac animals on her journey. This picture book includes back matter with a focus on the animals of the Chinese zodiac.

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Chinese New Year by Carrie Gleason

Kung hay fat Choy means ‘may you prosper’ and is a greeting heard often during Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year, sometimes called Lunar New Year, is celebrated in Chinese communities throughout the world. The festival lasts up to fifteen days and includes feasting, fireworks, and family celebrations. Children will love this colorful and easy-to-understand introduction to this famous holiday.

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The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao

As a member of the Jade Society, twelve-year-old Faryn Liu dreams of honoring her family and the gods by becoming a warrior. But the Society has shunned Faryn and her brother Alex ever since their father disappeared years ago, forcing them to train in secret.

Then, during an errand into San Francisco, Faryn stumbles into a battle with a demon–and helps defeat it. She just might be the fabled Heaven Breaker, a powerful warrior meant to work for the all-mighty deity, the Jade Emperor, by commanding an army of dragons to defeat the demons. That is, if she can prove her worth and find the island of the immortals before the Lunar New Year.

With Alex and other unlikely allies at her side, Faryn sets off on a daring quest across Chinatowns. But becoming the Heaven Breaker will require more sacrifices than she first realized . . . What will Faryn be willing to give up to claim her destiny?

Inspired by Chinese mythology, this richly woven contemporary middle-grade fantasy, full of humor, magic, and heart, will appeal to readers who love Roshani Chokshi and Sayantani DasGupta.

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The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin

Title details for The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin - Available

When Pacy’s mom tells her that this is a good year for friends, family, and “finding herself,” Pacy begins searching right away. As the year goes on, she struggles to find her talent, deals with disappointment, makes a new best friend, and discovers just why the Year of the Dog is a lucky one for her after all.

This funny and profound book is a wonderful debut novel by award-winning and bestselling author and illustrator Grace Lin, and young readers will be sure to love and treasure it for years to come.

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Teen Book Review: The Do-Over by Lynn Painter

The Do-Over by Lynn Painter

A Book Review by Mina Nguyen

            The Do-Over is a groundhog day, modern day rom-com perfect for Taylor Swift fans. Emilie Hornby plays by the rules. She’s a strategic planner and even has a checklist for the ideal man. On Valentine’s Day, Emilie makes sure everything goes according to plan. She’ll give her gift to her boyfriend, and her boyfriend will give a gift to her. They’ll go out to eat, and she’ll confess her love. However, Valentine’s Day is a dumpster fire after she catches her boyfriend cheating on her, so Emilie escapes to her grandmother’s house for comfort and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. She passes out on the couch, but when she wakes up, she’s at home and it’s Valentine’s Day all over again. And again? And again. Emilie is stuck in a time loop, and she can’t figure out how to get out of it, reliving her boyfriend cheating on her. However, she runs into Nick everyday, literally, in the most unfortunate ways. Emilie can’t strategically plan her way out of this one.

I loved this book. This book is probably one of my top books of 2022. Emilie is extremely relatable. She’s a girl who has high expectations of love, and she knows she deserves it, so she makes a checklist for all the qualities she looks for. However, her checklist might not work in terms of love, and it was so fun to see her figure this out. Also, in the beginning of each chapter, Emilie makes a confession, which is a creative way for readers to know more about her without stating it directly into the book, if it doesn’t relate to what is happening in the storyline. I found this book to be funny, and I remember laughing a few times. Lynn Painter knows how to write the perfect humor in a rom-com. There were also a lot of original moments between Emilie and her love interest; it wasn’t tropey for those who like to avoid tropes and want something original but fun. I read this entire book in one sitting. I can not praise this book enough. It was magical, funny, and perfect. Also, there are Taylor Swift references throughout the entire book. And, there is a pretty good playlist at the end, which sold me on this book. I don’t think I’ve ever read a Lynn Painter book I didn’t love. All her writing is incredibly well-written with the right amount of character development and romance with a little bit of humor.



See You Yesterday by Rachel Lynn Soloman If You Could See the Sun by Ann Liang Better than the Movies by Lynn Painter

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Teen Book Review: Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

A book review by Mina Nguyen


Love on the Brain is a witty, workplace enemies-to-lovers, young adult swoon-worthy STEM rom-com contemporary read. Bee Kongiswasser is a Marie Curie fan. Besides loving Marie Curie and maybe being her #1 biggest fan, Bee is also a neurologist which means she deals with jerks all day as a woman in a STEM field. In order to combine her love of Marie Curie and STEM, Bee created a secret twitter account to attack the issues of how women in STEM are treated in the workplace with the motto of “What would Marie do?” In order to pursue her dream job at NASA, Bee must work with her arch nemesis, Levi Ward, who has hated her from the first moment he saw her at grad school. When her equipment doesn’t show up and emails go unanswered, she blames Levi, her “co”-lead. After confronting him, she realizes that Levi might not be the one behind the problems. As Bee continues to warm up to Levi, she realizes that Levi might not hate her as much as she believes, and she might have to ask herself what she would do.

Love on the Brain was one of my most anticipated reads of the year after absolutely loving The Love Hypothesis, and this book delivered. I loved everything, from the comical moments to the stolen glances and touches. This book was great! Before discussing the romance, I want to talk about the phenomenal research Hazelwood put into this book. Hazelwood does a great job of incorporating STEM into her books. She clearly devotes research into accurately finding information about Bee’s workfield. Hazelwood clearly makes Bee’s job a part of her life rather than just having her life singularly revolve around romance. Her great research allows her characters to have personalities and flaws, which make them relatable characters whose lives don’t revolve around romance alone. I also found this book commercial and it had me laughing a few times. The side characters are well-developed and are just as interesting as the main characters.

The romance in this book was top tier. The tension was off the charts! Hazelwood writes great romance, not because of the tropes she incorporates but because of the natural way the characters fall for each other. Their relationship progresses very naturally for a contemporary romance following the enemies-to-lovers trope. I also love the conversations the characters have about the fear of trusting another person after Bee’s engagement failed to make it to the wedding altar. The issues of trust in romantic relationships were well discussed. There were also a lot of cute moments that were super original and that I’ve never read before in a romance book, which is rare for contemporary romances.

All in all, this book was great and I loved every moment of it. It was light-hearted and fun with great relationship development. It definitely met my expectations as one of my most anticipated reads for 2022. I recommend this book for anyone in need of a quick read with great characters and an even better romance!




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The Love Hypothesis by Ali HazelwoodNot Here to be Liked by Michelle Quach Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn SolomanMy Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol FollmouthAs if on Cue by Marisa Kanter

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