Book Review (ARC) + Rainbow Mood Boards: The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao

Hello, everyone! I’m extremely excited for today’s post because I’m participating in The Dragon Warrior blog tour which is hosted by Shealea from Caffeine Book Tours. I was so excited to be invited to review this #OwnVoices fantasy because this was a story that spoke to my childhood. Through the incorporation of Chinese mythology and culture, Katie Zhao has crafted a world that touches the heart of every immigrant and child of diaspora. ✨ From hilarious dialogue to adventurous characters, this heartfelt story encourages every young reader that with bravery, determination, and a hint of magic, they too can be a hero.


PUBLISHED BY Bloomsbury USA Kids (Bloomsbury) on October 15th 2019

GENRES: Fantasy

PAGES: 288 


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.

Trigger/Content Warnings: on-page death of loved one, bullying

Book Review ✏

The Dragon Warrior follows the journey of 12-year-old Faryn Liu, a young multiracial girl who lives in San Francisco with her younger brother, Alex, and her grandfather. 💛 After stumbling across a demon one evening, she discovers her powers and true identity as the Heaven Breaker, a powerful warrior to the Jade Emperor. To prove herself worthy, she and her brother must travel on a quest across the country, growing deeper with her culture and finding her own family along the way.  

Reading Katie’s writing was a magical experience—one second you’ll be laughing from the funniest joke to quietly sobbing from an unexpected turn. 🥟 Fans of Rick Riordan’s writing in the Percy Jackson series will find themselves loving the equally lighthearted sass and humor. Her vivid descriptions of rou bao zi (steamed buns) and nian gao (sticky rice cakes) will leave you hungry for more. The entire story was easy to fly through and reading it felt like watching an adventure movie unfold.

“Never forget that you are the dragon warriors and heroes of your own stories”

As an Asian American reader, my heart grew 10x while reading this book because I wished that my younger self had this story while growing up. Seeing endless references from my childhood brought back many memories of Chinese New Year celebrations with my family, and in her story of family and forgiveness, Faryn reminds all readers that anyone can be a hero, showing the reader that there is more than what meets the eye.

Overall, The Dragon Warrior did not disappoint as one of my most highly anticipated reads of 2019, and I would definitely recommend this book to all my friends! 🎉 In fact, this is a book I’m excited to share with all my younger cousins because I hope they will feel inspired by Faryn and the magical Chinese culture. Katie Zhao will easily become many readers’ new favorite author, and I cannot wait to see what she writes next!

Mood Boards 📸

As a quick disclaimer, all photos for these mood boards were taken from Pexels and Unsplash which are my favorite go-to’s for free stock images.  If you like these aesthetics, please check out my rainbow mood boards for  Small Town Hearts and  If I’m Being Honest!




About the Author

Katie Zhao is a 2017 graduate of the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English and Political Science, and a 2018 Masters of Accounting at the same university. She is the author of Chinese #ownvoices middle-grade fantasy THE DRAGON WARRIOR (Bloomsbury Kids, October 2019 & 2020), as well as a young adult author. She is a mentor for Author Mentor Match. She is currently open to freelance editorial services for young adult and middle-grade manuscripts.

Website |Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter

Be sure to check out the full blog tour schedule to see all the amazing reviews, quotes, and creatives! 

Have you read The Dragon Warrior?

What were your thoughts?

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24 thoughts on “Book Review (ARC) + Rainbow Mood Boards: The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao

  1. great review, tiffany! your rainbow mood boards are so pretty ❤
    i grew up with chinese folk stories and i was so happy seeing them portrayed in a whole new way when reading the dragon warrior. i loved the book so much, and i’m so excited for the everyone, especially chinese children of diaspora, who will be able to read it soon!


    1. ahhh thank you chloe!! i’m so so glad that you like them because i love making them 😍

      i’m glad that you got to see so much of your childhood represented in the story and i completely agree that i’m excited for this story to be in the hands of younger chinese children too!! 🎉


  2. Ahhhh I can’t wait to read this!!! I need to read more MG and I am just SO stoked to pick this book up! It sounds amazing ahhhh and I feel like it’s everything my younger self would love!


    1. ahhh i’m so excited for YOU to read it miri!! this was such a wonderful story of chinese culture, and i am so so excited for you to pick it up!! honestly so much of it reminded me of classic percy jackson humor and fun~


  3. Wow!! Your review had definitely made me want to pick this book up, I don’t read MG books very often but you have certainly urged my to get this one ASAP.
    It sounds like a wonderful story with a beautiful culture. I love that it involves humour and emotions as that is my favourite combination.
    I love that you said you wish you had this book when you were younger and it makes me so happy to think lots of young children can read this growing up and it is wonderful and warms my heart. This truly sounds like a magical book and I’m so glad you enjoyed this!! ❤ I absolutely adore your mood boards as well!!


    1. Yay!! I’m glad that my review made you want to pick it up. Even though it’s MG, I think it’s still very relatable and has themes/elements that are more YA too. It’s very similar to Percy Jackson in terms of writing, humor, and themes!

      The culture was wonderful to read about, and I’m really excited for other young Asian children to pick it up. aklfjdslakf and thank you for liking my mood boards 😭❤️


    1. UM NOT EVEN JESSICA!! Your reviews are always so wonderful and amazing and well-written 🥰 I’m glad that we both loved this book!!


  4. YOUR AESTHETICS ARE GORGEOUS AS ALWAYS TIFF!! The gold one speaks to my soul aahh ❤ And your review is so beautiful as well — I'm happy that you were able to find yourself in all the Chinese culture that was included, and even though I was quite behind you guys, I had so much fun buddy reading with you! 💛💛


    1. MAY I LOVE YOU AND I LOVED BUDDY READING WITH YOU!! This book is honestly OOF hitting us with similar Percy Jackson feels and Chinese culture…and I LOVE ALL OF IT 🥰 I saw that you posted your review today, and I’m ready to read it!!


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