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  • Writer's picturehaleylynnthomas22

After a Miss Can TBR.co Give Me a Hit Book?

WHAT IS TBR.co (TAILORED BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS)?/HOW I FOUND IT
I was introduced to this service by one of my favorite Youtubers, Kayla from BooksandLala. Essentially, you fill out a survey about your favorite books and what you like/look for in books, etc. They then match you with a bibliologist who recommends you three books to read. I want to stress that I am a paying customer just like everyone else, so you can be assured that my reviews of the books I was recommended are not at all biased.

1. The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh (YA Fantasy)
WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT:
Deadly storms ravage Mina’s homeland and in attempts to appease the Sea God her village sacrifices ‘brides’ to him. When her brother’s beloved, Shim Cheong, is chosen she sacrifices herself in Cheong’s place.
MY REVIEW:
I’ve found TBR.co’s fantasy recommendations for me can be hit or miss but this one was one of the best ones I’ve gotten from them so far. It featured everything I love in my fantasy books. It was based on folklore, had court politics and an enchanting world to get lost in, and a high stakes plot. I read several reviews which compared this book to the film Spirited Away and I am inclined to completely agree with them (in a good way).
By far the best part of this novel, however, were the characters. The entire cast is just so incredibly lovable. In particular, Mina and Namgi were my favorites. Mina was stubborn but also very brave. Namgi had the most interesting backstory of all the characters and he seemed like a really genuine friend.
The only thing I would change about this book is the very beginning. From the very first page you’re dropped immediately into the action. I would have liked some more time to settle into the world and characters before the story really got started.
FINAL RATING: 4.75⭐️

2. Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien (Adult Mystery)
WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT:
Lana Lee’s parents own a Chinese restaurant in a plaza full of Asian owned stores. The property manager, Mr. Feng, dies after eating from her family’s restaurant and she must solve his murder in order to clear her family’s name.
MY REVIEW:
I have recently started to really enjoy cozy mysteries. For as much as I love the heavier stuff sometimes I just want something light and fun. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience reading this book. So much so, in fact, that I have continued with this series.
Lana is a very empathetic character and I liked her a lot. She and her best friend Megan reminded me of Finlay and Vero from the Finlay Donovan books as they're also an amateur detective duo. Throughout reading I had several working theories on whodunit. I suspected some characters more than others, but I really was kept guessing until the big reveal.
My only complaints with this book are that Lana is pressured by her mom and best friend to date before she's ready to get back out there. This happens too often in books and always to female characters. Regardless of intentions, it's a pet peeve of mine. Also, the writing is good except for the very beginning when it reads strangely like Lana is introducing herself to the reader.
FULL REVIEW: 4⭐️

3. Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke (Adult Mystery)
WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT:
Darren Matthews is a black Texas Ranger. He travels up Highway 59 to the small town of Lark to solve two murders - that of a black man and a white woman.
MY REVIEW:
I DNF'd this book at just under 1/4 of the way through. There were two reasons behind my DNF. The first was because it was a little slow moving for me plot wise. The bigger reason, however, was that it is a very tense, heavy novel and when I attempted to read it I was going through a hard time mentally. I needed something lighter then. I may revisit it at some point in the future because I think it has some really important things to save about race and the differing treatment of black people and white people by law enforcement.

FINAL THOUGHTS?
Despite my one DNF, I’d say this was one of my more successful recommendation sets. Not only is The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea one of my top fantasies of 2023 (so far), but I found a whole new cozy mystery series I am having fun reading. I know my reading tastes very well, but I still look forward to being surprised every three months with new books to read from new to me authors!
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