Bookish Opinions: Sharing My Book-Related Thoughts

There’s lots of bookish opinions I’ve realized I NEVER had time to talk about on the blog, so I thought today’s post would be a fun idea to learn more about overly specific thoughts I have about book-related topics, certain books or just share some opinions with you all! 📚✨

I know disclaimers aren’t necessary, but I’d just like to add: these are just how I feel about these particular ideas and thought it would be interesting to share! I’d LOVE to hear what you think (no matter if you agree or disagree), I’m genuinely interested in starting discussions about these opinions and hear about what you think too.

Starting off with I guess a more “controversial” one: The Book Community needs to let go of Six Of Crows

Okay wow that was a lot, let’s unpack this! While I read it initially during release I had a great time with SOC and the subsequent Crooked Kingdom, it just feels like there’s other books out there I truly love that don’t have the same amount of attention that this duology gets, whether its with fanart, discussions, and just content in general. Other bookish fandoms online are in another word just, dead outside of occasional goodreads reviews or tweets, maybe a booktok or two. While Leigh Bardugo crafts this duology well, I personally just don’t love it as much as everyone else does & the more that time has passed tbh, I now find it to be super overhyped.

I just get tired sometimes of seeing SOC held up as a pinnacle of the perfect fantasy book with flawless character arcs, worldbuilding, execution of heists, representation, dialogue etc. and while it’s easy to see why so many people agree, there’s just so many books out there I think deserve equal if not more praise too.

SOC is the kind of book that’s kind of stuck in my mind for a bit too long and I wish it didn’t. The downside to its immense popularity is that there’s this stigma that nothing can exceed or improve on what it’s done in YA Fantasy (which of course is not true). So, at times the Six Of Crows duology seems to feel like an enduring title in the book community consciousness which won’t find a replacement.

My reading habits have changed a lot over the past couple years and I’m more eager to annotate my books

I know, right? I’ve always been the kind of person to be super protective of my books as I’m sure many of us are but I think back in 2018 when The Gilded Wolves came out I really wanted to keep track of my digital notes and quotes in a much easier way so then it got me to tab up my arc, which I had a lot of fun doing! Now when I look at the unread books on my tbr shelf, I feel motivated to, if not highlight them at least just sticky tab or write my thoughts on sticky notes and stick them onto the pages. Surprisingly I’ve become more comfortable in planning this thanks to booktok!

I personally don’t like how books are pitched through Tropes online

Wow there’s a lot I can say about this topic!! To start, it feels like to me I didn’t really notice this becoming more of a thing until a couple years ago on twitter (2018-2019 ish?) or maybe it’s always been there and I just never realized until this past year? I’m not sure but now when I’m seeing books talked about or pitched on my timeline, it feels like there’s more of an emphasis on tropes to describe character dynamics and general plot points (especially in fantasy) which also kinda comes off as a spoiler to me. I think what makes me dislike this idea a lot is that because literary tropes are obviously in lots of stories anyways without us realizing, it makes them stand out a lot more and therefore, makes me think too much about how they’re being executed. Like basically if someone hears ‘enemies-to-lovers’ I’m sure we’ll have very different ideas on how we want to read it in a story right? 

What makes me dislike this as the emphasized way to talk about books, is that it gives you certain expectations about the characters or character dynamics without having read the book yet or experiencing the story for yourself, which oftentimes for me never turns out how I want it to. While I truly believe in the genuine value of describing books in this way, I just HATE how it messes with my expectations of a story.

I’d prefer Book Adaptations take more risks than try to copy the book directly onto screen

Ever since writing my article about Animated Book Adaptations, I still stand by this idea that book adaptations need to take more risks not only when adapting the novel, but with the medium too. There’s infinite opportunities to take the spirit of a book and still make the adaptation fresh and different. Especially if studios decided to take a novel and turn it into a stunning piece of animation…tbh I think animated adaptations can potentially be the future!

Despite its flaws, Netflix’s Shadow & Bone does a good job at taking Leigh’s source material and trying to make it work for a TV series to add a bit more to the world while also tackling the story in a unique way.

I’m the kind of reader who ends up appreciating or reaching for lesser known & under-the-radar books

I feel like I’ve always been this way, especially when I first got into YA. For example when YA Dystopia was still big, I never really gravitated towards Divergent or The Hunger Games, instead the first book that introduced me to dystopia was Marie Lu’s Legend Series which from my perspective back then, didn’t seem as hyped up.

The books I often find myself reading and loving usually also end up being books that take more unique approaches to traditional genres or categories, while also taking risks to tell a story that for me, comes across as one-of-a-kind and overall, aren’t talked about as much.

I don’t mind First-Person POV when reading a book

I usually see whether based on ratings, reviews or other bookish content that people don’t really like the use of 1st person POV. I’m sort of on the unpopular side of this where I actually love it and whenever its done well, I find it can elevate the book every time! I like that the author can come up with a unique voice to match the character and make their journey feel so personal because of it.

When it comes to popular or even just new YA releases, I feel like there’s a 50% / 50% chance I’ll either get to it within a reasonable time or after an entire year

With so many books I need to catch up on, this list evidently gets bigger and bigger every year! However with books that are pretty popular or getting lots of buzz leading up to release, I notice I often struggle with prioritizing them in a timely fashion and then end up not reading them. I think its partly because of all the praise I hear, I just hesitate because of my personal expectations. While I genuinely want to read all of the books to stay in the loop with all the conversation, these days I take a bit longer to read them. Or its often just because there’s so many new titles coming out and I can’t figure out what to pick up. But I guess that just means there’s more books in the future to look forward to! ❤

The Gilded Wolves is still underrated in my eyes when it comes to YA Fantasy

Okay there’s so many that fit this too, but TGW is one that always sticks out to me! The crew and their deeply complex stories, the clever puzzles, the enchanting setting and dazzling story are utterly brilliant, truly not being appreciated enough! I genuinely love all of the characters and think they definitely rank high on the list of my favorite crews of all time. Séverin, Laila, Zofia, Enrique, Hypnos, their dynamics + shenanigans on heists or whichever adventure they are on, priceless!

Hardcover or Paperback? Depends on the book, but in general I like both

I feel like there’s a clear preference with this one and for me I actually don’t mind either! They both have their value in my eyes and I enjoy both of them for different reasons. For example with bigger fantasy books, paperback seems more convenient. However, if there’s a book I absolutely love and want to display on my shelf, hardcover is the way to go. Overall, I find myself jumping back and forth between these two.

Thanks so much for joining me on first bookish opinions post, I hope you had fun reading more of my thoughts & I’d be happy to make more of these posts in the future (also recommend me more topics to cover if you think there’s something you’d like to hear my thoughts on)! Any specific ones you want to chat more about? I’d be happy to in the comments too!

Lets chat! What are some of your bookish opinions? Thoughts on the ones I’ve shared? 📚💭

Blog Blitz: Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson & 5 Reasons to Read

Coming to shelves this October is the newest YA Fantasy from NYT Bestselling author Margaret Rogerson titled VESPERTINE which follows a nun in training named Artemesia who cleanses the bodies of the deceased to allow their souls to pass on. If not, the spirits will rise and become a danger to the living. When her convent is attacked and death comes to Loraille, she will have to join forces with an ancient spirit and wield an ancient relic if she has any chance of stopping it.

Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson (Vespertine Trilogy #1)

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon Teen)

Release Date: October 5, 2021

Pages: 400

Summary: The dead of Loraille do not rest.

Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on; otherwise, they will rise as spirits with a ravenous hunger for the living. She would rather deal with the dead than the living, who trade whispers about her scarred hands and troubled past.

When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia defends it by awakening an ancient spirit bound to a saint’s relic. It is a revenant, a malevolent being that threatens to possess her the moment she drops her guard. Wielding its extraordinary power almost consumes her—but death has come to Loraille, and only a vespertine, a priestess trained to wield a high relic, has any chance of stopping it. With all knowledge of vespertines lost to time, Artemisia turns to the last remaining expert for help: the revenant itself.

As she unravels a sinister mystery of saints, secrets, and dark magic, her bond with the revenant grows. And when a hidden evil begins to surface, she discovers that facing this enemy might require her to betray everything she has been taught to believe—if the revenant doesn’t betray her first.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while you would know that I’m such a big fan of Margaret’s books, I first fell in love with her magical worlds and how she pays homage to fantasy with her storytelling. It was her 2017 debut ‘An Enchantment Of Ravens’ that captivated me and from there, I would gladly read anything she writes. As part of the Blog Blitz for Rogerson’s upcoming novel, I wanted to share 5 Reasons To Read this upcoming fantasy or add it to your tbr if you haven’t already!

First Of A Fantasy Trilogy

Margaret Rogerson is known for her enchanting standalones, however Vespertine is her first foray into writing a series! I think many can agree that there’s many layers to the worlds she crafts and much to explore leaving readers yearning for more. Now with the world of Loraille expanding across three installments, we can learn more about the Gray Sisters, revenants, magic, and mysteries that Rogerson is setting up in this first book.

First-Person POV

Like Enchantment Of Ravens, Rogerson is returning to a first-person perspective as we follow Artemisia on her journey! I personally love first person in fantasy because it gives a personal look into a one-of-a-kind magical world. As a trilogy, I’m looking forward to seeing how the world, magic, etc. expand across each installment, in addition to seeing Artemisia grow as a character.

Delve into the Lore of Loraille

From the summary alone its clear there’s going to be a lot of different layers to explore in this new fantasy world. From the magic system, ancient spirits to the mysteries being uncovered, I’m eager to learn more about each of these elements and immerse myself in the setting, understanding all the details across each chapter.

A Paranormal and Fantastical World

As with Rogerson’s previous novels its clear she’s also familiar with melding fantasy plus hints of the paranormal. We see it more clearly in Sorcery Of Thorns when we learn about the grimoires, demon friend Silas and the overall atmosphere of the novel gave it a spooky vibe for sure! I’m so excited to see how Rogerson tackles that concept of the paranormal now focusing on the idea of spirits, Artemisia’s path throughout the story and seeing the fantasy & paranormal come together through the world building.

Fantastic Heroines

Rogerson’s novels present heroines who are established to have unique roles in their respective worlds and ultimately, they undergo journeys of self-discovery and adventure, which make them such a joy to dive into! Artemisia’s journey sounds like its one filled with danger + mystery, where I’m looking forward to learning more about her role as Gray Sister and ultimately her path to learning more about being a vespertine!

Are you looking forward to Rogerson’s newest YA Fantasy? What are you most eager in discovering with Vespertine? 🗡✨

*Thanks to Simon Teen for the opportunity to take part in this blogger blitz & You can expect my ARC review sometime next month!

Eighty Days by A.C. Esguerra ARC Review {Graphic Novel}

Eighty Days by A.C. Esguerra

Publisher: Archaia (Imprint of Boom Studios)

Release Date: September 7, 2021

Pages: 336

Available Through The Book Depository

Summary: A pilot wants nothing more than to fly. Or so he thought, until he crosses paths with a mysterious thief whose tricks draw him into unchartered territory and new adventure. In a life where the truth changes as quickly as clouds in the sky, the pilot must decide for himself what freedom really means.

Award-winning cartoonist A.C. Esguerra presents an unforgettable love letter to flight, the quest for freedom and the greatest adventure of all – love.

[Received a digital galley via the publisher]

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Eighty Days presents a haunting, poetic tale of freedom and resistance when a jaded pilot and mysterious thief cross paths amid a brewing revolution! Esguerra’s knack for layered storytelling comes to life through the vivid, detailed grayscale artwork. This is a fascinating, beautiful graphic novel with profound themes and deeply complex character journeys at its core!

Jay Corvidae is a jaded, but skilled pilot working for AVO, an industrial conglomerate of sorts that’s taken over much of the world. Then one day Jay gets an assignment to transport Fix, a no-class thief looking to find work and despite his peppy, talkative nature he’s also carrying secrets of his own. But, allegiances change, truths are revealed and over the span of 300+ pages our trio feat. Jay, his best friend Sable, and thief Fix are given so much personality, history among the threads of story that make each of their journeys impactful. I fell in love with grand epicness of this story and the poignant character arcs that are explored!

The narrative structure of this graphic novel is truly one of a kind, yet also uniquely crafted to perfectly suit this story alone! Told through an epistolary-like style, the narrative expands through diary entries, thoughts, brief notes, reports, messages and communications which although initially can leave lots for the reader to figure out on their own, speaks to the grand atmosphere and scale of the 20th century-inspired world. In addition, I like how through each of the 4 parts of the novel, you follow the main characters and go deep inside their heads, but also continue to get a great understanding of Jay, Fix and Sable!

Esguerra’s succinct writing voice, alongside their masterful artwork which isn’t afraid to present the reader with lots of metaphorical imagery, uses practically all of the panel space in daring ways, in addition to incorporating a variety of artistic techniques to dive deeper into the characters heads, making this single volume story span over the course of 80 days (hence the title), making it read like a historical fable filled with tragedy, but also boundless threads of hope.

Another main part of this story is the Queer romance that propels the two love interests (Jay and Fix), its heartbreaking at times, but at its core very sweet and magnificent! Its got a slowburn kind of development to it, that is so clearly deep without the need for words.

As the story develops you learn more about Jay and Sable’s friendship, how they grew among Avo’s ranks, betrayals that ensue, but also the mistakes and lengths they go to repair the wrongs of the world. The dynamics between this trio is genuine, complicated, but also you sense each of their ambitions the clearer it becomes that AVO’s militarized, industrial power seeks to take control and silence opposition.

The story is quite grand, complex, and can feel a bit dense at times as the worldbuilding and characters truly take center stage, however that is definitely the extraordinary beauty as well. If you enjoy slower-paced, character-driven geopolitical kinds of stories this will be your cup of tea (the depth to the character arcs is superb). At times you see the plot setting up so much for being only a single volume that it takes you in many different directions, yet you can also picture this potentially being a longer series with all the little details being introduced. Why? Because the story is wonderfully immersive and the author trusts the reader to uncover the deeper meaning and once that final page is reached, the world feels rich and lived in.

I think before going into though, readers should be aware that the use of a brief writing voice with short diary entries and the like is intentional, according to Esguerra who mentioned in an LA Times Preview in Feb. of 2021 that this particular writing voice gives “a great deal up to the art to reveal…” among the greater conflict and a beautiful Queer romance.

Without giving too much away, the world and its characters are revealed little by little, but it cultivates into a daring, wonderful story about love, friendship, rebellion amid war, and much much more hidden within each stroke of the artwork, it really blew me away. I genuinely feel like its best to go into this book with minimal background that way it can surprise you just as much as it did for me!

Eighty Days is an engrossing, intricate, haunting and beautiful story. The fragmentary storytelling, fully realized characters and compelling themes make this a marvelous graphic novel!

Blog Essay: ‘Down Comes The Night’ and examining Gothic Literature

When one considers the term ‘Gothic Literature,’ notably specific images come to mind: abandoned castles or manors, crumbling architecture, flickering candlelight, and an eerily quiet, almost chilling atmosphere. In this essay, I set out to examine the gothic elements that Allison Saft’s Young Adult debut Down Comes The Night (2020) utilizes, that present it as a truly classic gothic tale.

An essential ingredient for any piece of gothic literature is setting. The locale is crucial because it is through the descriptive language, minute details and history that we see it slowly become almost its own character within the story. For DCTN, that is undoubtedly the secluded estate of Colwick Hall, where our heroine Wren Southerland travels to in order to heal a servant according to its eccentric owner, Alistair Lowry.

Saft’s novel takes place in a world where there are countries with long-standing histories, a centuries-long war leaving two magical countries (Danu and Vesria) reeling with unresolved conflict. In addition, an isolated territory known as Cernos, which possesses no magic so in this case, it has largely kept to itself. Using a medical science-based magic system, Saft’s choice of words from the description of the magical vein where the protagonist connects with her magic or the anatomy terminology describing bone, blood, tissue, etc. is used to further provide a particular ambience. In addition to the reliance on what can be presumed to align with the Victorian era plus 19th Century technology, there’s a blend of the macabre and magical that brings ‘Down Comes The Night’ to life.

Gothic literature also uses setting to establish a divide or isolation for the protagonist, making the reader feel a sense of unease, or even a fear at the uncertainty. 

Wren could make out the enormity of the hall, it’s startling emptiness…Everything outside the candelabra’s unsteady reach swam indistinctly, as if the house breathed and stirred the shadows like wind over still water…

(Ch. 8, 120)

Aligned with the setting is the atmosphere, and in this case Saft presents a deeply rooted winter backdrop seen through the various locations that Wren travels to throughout the novel from the abbey where all healers are trained, her journey to Colwick to even the estate itself. 

Weather, in this case the established winter season present throughout the novel, is a facet of atmosphere which provides another layer in which to explore even more vital elements of Gothic literature. Across the various locales, the mood of this story is made clear through character, setting, and a more obvious way to showcase the inner or undisclosed feelings of the cast.

Examples of this are heavily implied and stated throughout the text by associating the winter climate with words such as “cold,” “frost,” “chill,” among others. By using these types of descriptors Saft has not only directly presented the reader with an ambience of which to perceive this story, but it also serves as a function in which readers “decode the inner landscape of the protagonists…” according to Marquette Library’s Glossary Of The Gothic entry which provides a definition for the element of weather in this type of story.

Snow-smothered fields sprawled for miles…The wind whistled through the abbey’s towers. Cold bit through her cloak…if she stayed still too long, she feared she’d go brittle and crack…

(Ch. 6, 96)

Next, another important element of this sub-genre is emotion. Saft explores this overtly and rather brilliantly through the protagonist and heroine, Wren Southerland, healer in the Queen’s guard of Danu. Driving her decisions at every turn, whether it’s for the unresolved feelings she has for her commanding officer and best friend Una, the sense of duty she feels to seek out her missing comrade, the deep, complicated emotions she feels for the sworn enemy of her kingdom Hal Cavendish, even the opening scene where she can’t stand idly by while seeing a prisoner injured in the snow, the exploration of this is essential to her makeup and gives the novel in my opinion, a unique twist.

Throughout the plot, Wren is penalized and often seen as “foolish” for relying heavily on her emotions and empathy in response to situations she finds herself in. However, Saft never paints this a weakness for the heroine, but a strength she learns to accept about herself despite what she’s been taught.

Could that be true? After everything she’d endured because of her emotions, after everything Isabel and Una had told her, could she really believe that?

Yes, some buried part of her said. Isn’t that what makes us strong?

(Ch. 28, 430)

A more obvious example of this is when Wren, over the course of the story, learns to confide in Hal and their romance is a symbol for the “hope” of bringing peace to their lands. Wren learns to overcome her uneasiness around him as the ‘Reaper Of Vesria’ through compassion, empathy, and understanding. 

Even before the start of the novel, it’s clear Saft intentionally meant for this element of Wren’s character to be a monumental piece of her identity and for like-minded readers to admire going in at the start of the dedication: “For all the girls who feel too much.”

In perhaps a more subversive or allegorical way of presenting us with this component of a Gothic novel, Saft allows our heroine to clearly and genuinely wear her emotions on her sleeve.


Notes 📝🖊
1. Page numbers when referencing the text, corelate to a digital ebook, which may not reflect the accurate page numbers in a physical copy

What did you think about this literary DCTN essay? Did you pick up on these elements while reading Saft’s novel that clearly presented it as Gothic? What do you enjoy the most about these kinds of novels?

In recent months I noticed that I’ve become more interested in deep-dives (like video essays) or literary analysis of media and fiction. I don’t often see posts like this about books and thought this would be great starting point for new kind of content on the blog introducing literary-type essays. There was quite a bit of research I did for this post and genuinely I had a fantastic time bringing it all together. I’m hoping to deliver more posts like this about YA Books and would love your feedback on this first one! Thank you for reading! 📚💖

Recommending YA Books That Deserve More Love

Hey everyone! Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about some of my favorite backlist books and realized as time goes on, it becomes difficult to dive back into my old favorites with the sheer amount of new titles being released each year. It’s impossible to keep up with ALL the books, so today’s post is comprised of some marvelous reads that’ve been out for a while that I believe deserve more love. 💕✨

I’m so happy to be chatting with you all today about books I’ve adored that I definitely feel like should be recognized even more. Whether your looking for an urban fantasy, epic fantasy, contemporary, or thriller, this list is indeed for you if you are need of some backlist gems!

No More Heroes by Michelle Kan

Genre: Urban Fantasy┃Young Adult
Release Date: June 27, 2015 (Feb. 2017 2nd Edition)

Available through: The Book Depository & Bookshop

Summary: The peaceful nights are kept under the clandestine and watchful eye of young, gifted Vigilantes the world over. But a sudden rash of Vigilante deaths heralds the arrival of a new and unfamiliar enemy – one whose motive is as unclear as their identity. Someone or something seems determined to disturb the peace, and they’re going straight for the watchmen to do it. In a city where those who are gifted make up their own rules, who will step forward when the threat of a swift end is real and there stands so little to gain?

Why you should read it: I still think about the unique concept that Kan delivered here― people gifted with superpowers live in a city they protect in the night! It also features a Queer / POC cast (Māori, Samoan, Indian, & Chinese characters) plus aro-ace and genderfluid rep. Friendship is also an integral part of this story as bonds are strengthened and new allies are made. Though years have passed, I continue to remember the fond memories I had reading this, truly a hidden gem in urban fantasy that delivers a fresh take on superheroes, highly recommend reading this. (Plus, if you want to support indie books and authors, you should also pick this up!)

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

Genre: Young Adult ┃ Contemporary
Release Date: September 3, 2019

Available through: The Book Depository & Bookshop

Summary: You might ask the obvious question: What do I, a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything? Actually, a lot. Thanks to “the incident” (don’t ask), I’m spending the next two months doing what my school is calling a “spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. I’m toiling away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle at her new nonprofit. And my lean-in queen of a mother is even here to make sure I do things right. Or she might just be lying low to dodge the media sharks after a much more public incident of her own…and to hide a rather devastating secret. All things considered, there are some pretty nice perks…like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with my mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. I’m even exploring my family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse. You know, typical drama. But it’s nothing I can’t handle.

Why you should read it: What continues to stay with me about this superb novel is the use of a mixed media format which makes Alaine’s journey feel so personal as it deeply revolves around family, especially her mother! With Alaine being an aspiring journalist, I also found the element of journalism to be explored in such a thorough way. This truly is a moving, character-driven YA Contemporary story that explores many deep themes.

Shatter The Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells

Genre: Fantasy ┃ Young Adult
Release Date: July 30, 2019

Available Through: The Book Depository & Bookshop

Summary: Raised among the ruins of a conquered mountain nation, Maren dreams only of sharing a quiet life with her girlfriend Kaia—until the day Kaia is abducted by the Aurati, prophetic agents of the emperor, and forced to join their ranks. Desperate to save her, Maren hatches a plan to steal one of the emperor’s coveted dragons and storm the Aurati stronghold. If Maren is to have any hope of succeeding, she must become an apprentice to the Aromatory—the emperor’s mysterious dragon trainer. But Maren is unprepared for the dangerous secrets she uncovers: rumors of a lost prince, a brewing rebellion, and a prophecy that threatens to shatter the empire itself. Not to mention the strange dreams she’s been having about a beast deep underground… With time running out, can Maren survive long enough to rescue Kaia from impending death? Or could it be that Maren is destined for something greater than she could have ever imagined?

Why you should read it: Firstly, umm DRAGONS, but also the detailed worldbuilding. If you’re in the mood for a “quiet” fantasy novel this one is perfect because the protagonist Maren is more of “reluctant hero” who isn’t looking for adventure, but certain events propel her to do so and she learns a lot about her world. The worldbuilding has tons of layers to it from the politics, to the setting, history, dragon lore, and lots more that develops the further you read. Also has a great cast of characters that leave you wanting to know more about them!

The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky

Genre: Horror ┃ Thriller ┃ Young Adult
Release Date: April 13, 2021

Available through: The Book Depository & Bookshop

Summary: New girl Rachel Chavez is eager to make a fresh start at Manchester Prep. But as one of the few scholarship kids, Rachel struggles to fit in, and when she gets caught up in a prank gone awry, she ends up with more enemies than friends. To her surprise, however, the prank attracts the attention of the Mary Shelley Club, a secret club of students with one objective: come up with the scariest prank to orchestrate real fear. But as the pranks escalate, the competition turns cutthroat and takes on a life of its own. When the tables are turned and someone targets the club itself, Rachel must track down the real-life monster in their midst . . . even if it means finally confronting the dark secrets from her past.

Why you should read it: Moldavsky uses elements from the horror genre in such a genius way that comes through in the writing, the way the story is told, its atmosphere, the intriguing characters and in so many other ways. Rachel is an awesome protagonist and this novel cleverly delves deep into her arc. This book truly blew my mind and is probably one of the most brilliant books I’ve read this year, I need more people to read this breathtaking and page-turning YA Thriller!

Truly Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud

Genre: Contemporary┃ Romance ┃Young Adult
Release Date: July 30, 2019

Available through: The Book Depository & Bookshop

Summary: Fiercely independent and smart, Zora Emerson wants to change the world. She’s excited to be attending a prestigious summer program, even if she feels out of place among her privileged, mostly white classmates. So she’s definitely not expecting to feel a connection to Owen, who’s an actual prince of an island off the coast of England. But Owen is funny, charming…and undeniably cute. Zora can’t ignore the chemistry between them. When Owen invites Zora to be his date at his big brother’s big royal wedding, Zora is suddenly thrust into the spotlight, along with her family and friends. Everyone is talking about her, in real life and online, and while Owen is used to the scrutiny, Zora’s not sure it’s something she can live with. Can she maintain her sense of self while moving between two very different worlds? And can her feelings for Owen survive and thrive in the midst of the crazy?

Why you should read it: This is a perfect read if you’re in the mood for a YA royal romance (its also set during summer)! Alongside that, its character-driven / focused where the story centers Zora’s dreams and her development when she gets thrust into a royal spotlight. Its cute, fun, and a sweet read that I think deserves much more love!

That concludes the list, I hope you found a new underrated gem to dive into and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this new feature!

What are some YA Books you’ve read that you think deserve more love or recognition? Thoughts on the books I’ve listed here?

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl Review

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl (TL8 #1)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: March 5, 2019

Pages: 357

Cover Artist / Illustrator: Luke Lucas

Available Through Bookshop & The Book Depository

Summary: A high-stakes survival story about eight teenagers who outlive an alien attack—perfect for fans of The 5th Wave

Clover Martinez has always been a survivor, which is the only reason she isn’t among the dead when aliens invade and destroy Earth as she knows it.

When Clover hears an inexplicable radio message, she’s shocked to learn there are other survivors—and that they’re all at the former Area 51. When she arrives, she’s greeted by a band of misfits who call themselves The Last Teenagers on Earth.

Only they aren’t the ragtag group of heroes Clover was expecting. The group seems more interested in hiding than fighting back, and Clover starts to wonder if she was better off alone. But then she finds a hidden spaceship, and she doesn’t know what to believe…or who to trust.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The Last 8 is a YA Sci-Fi post-apocalyptic novel that follows a pilot named Clover Martinez and her journey when an alien attack brings about the end of the world. Pohl delves into profound themes of survival, trauma, even mental health as a ragtag group of teens learn to fight back, knowing they are the last humans on Earth! Through mysteries, twist, and a plot spurred by unique concepts, this novel cleverly examines the idea of humanity by way of science fiction!

I distinctly remember hearing about this book through the initial book deal and felt so much joy in hearing about a novel with a Latina teen featured in YA Sci-fi. Because of that I knew I had to read this, but sadly when a tbr continues to grow, its inevitable that some books get pushed to the side, but being a mood reader there finally reached a perfect time to pick it back up (about 2 years later). Now that I’ve finally finished reading, I’d definitely say its changed how I view and hopefully will view science fiction books in the future. It all starts with this first line that will forever stick with me: “My abuelo says that there are people who belong to the earth, and others, like us Martinezes, belong to the sky” (1).

Pohl’s debut does what I wished was more present in Sci-Fi: examining mental health and the aftermath of traumatic events through the protagonist. She made this such a present part of Clover’s story and I think that’s what made this story so impactful for me.

Clover is living a simple life in her small town, living with her caring grandparents and pursing her dreams of studying aerospace engineering at MIT. She doesn’t have many friends other than her ex Noah and is ready to present her science fair project when out of nowhere, an alien apocalypse descends. Within a short amount of time, her loved ones soon disappear and are obliterated, until she is all alone left to travel across the country, no destination in sight but her one goal is to survive. But months later, she hears a radio signal leading her to Area 51 where she meets other teen survivors. Keeping her at a distance upon her arrival plus Clover’s independent nature, we are left wanting to know more about this found family who seem comfortable with their day-to-day lives, unconcerned with avenging the planet.

At its core, this story is not only about survival, but fighting back as Clover tries to inspire the crew in her help to take down the aliens. As she struggles to convince them, she also tries to uncover the mysteries she finds at the base, now that she’s decided to stay with them. This can at times make it feel like there isn’t much for Clover to do as she’s figuring out her next step, making the plot feel aimless at times, but as the mysteries begin to build and clues are uncovered, the ordinary-ness made more sense to me the further I read.

Pohl’s novel features a bi-aro Mexican-American lead, a side f/f relationship, Black and Brown characters as well as having an almost all-queer cast.

I adored how Pohl tackled so many real and human themes through an intergalactic, post-apocalyptic lens. In addition, being told from Clover’s POV it makes themes elements come through her as a character and realistic layers to her story. However, it also becomes a very personal kind of sci-fi tale unlike any I’ve ever read before as it takes time to carefully delve into and discuss themes such as depression, ptsd, and mental health in general (TW for suicidal thoughts / attempt).

However, throughout the novel there was just this sense of lots of ambiguity to this story which came across through the text, which leads to the discussion about my least favorite part of this novel was the writing style. While I did love it because of the distinct connection you get through Clover’s voice, there could have been just a bit more detailed and descriptive qualities to add more to the immediacy of how her thoughts come across. It felt like members of the group: leader Violet, Flint, Avani, Adam, Andy, Brooklyn, and Rayen despite having their own distinct roles in the story (which is awesome), there’s still this lingering thought that even once I turned the final page, I sadly never really connected with them too much.

The novel is filled with surprises when it comes to the action, intrigue, and mystery that left me with many questions just waiting to be answered. Though the ending is a bit abrupt and rushed, I am super curious to see what happens with Clover and the crew. However, at the same time I think it also genuinely enjoyed the emotions the ending make you feel, so I’m conflicted on when I should pick up the sequel. As a whole though, I truly enjoyed how inventive Pohl was with this concept in making it such a human, thematic tale of survival.

I think as far as dystopian and science fiction go I thought I was over them, but Pohl’s creativity with this concept has reminded me why they are such exceptional stories no matter passing of trends. I think this is what has me even more excited to read her upcoming book Grimrose Girls, to immerse myself into yet another of her inventive concepts.

The Last 8 is the best kind of Sci-fi, character-driven and not afraid to tackle many different themes! The mystery, intrigue and unique story will keep you on the edge of your seat. Pohl’s layers Clover’s story will leave you rooting for her amidst an alien apocalypse!!

Personal Library Book Tag (ORIGINAL)

Recently I found myself thinking about my book collection and my personal objectives for my shelves in the future, so from there I had the sudden inspiration to create my first ever tag titled the Personal Library Book Tag!

The books we gather for our collection and bookshelves is something personal and reflective of our own bookish tastes, what stories we enjoy, or even books we aspire to read one day. So through this tag I wanted to explore what my own collection means to me as a reader.

All the questions and prompts are inspired by thoughts I’ve had about what’s on my own bookshelves that I’m sure many readers or bookish content creators can relate to! Overall I thought this would be an incredibly fun way to share more about the books I have and with that said, hope you enjoy today’s post!

  • RULES:
  • Link back to the original creator’s post 24hryabookblogPersonal Library Book Tag
  • Answer the questions / prompts
  • Tagging is not required, but you can if you want to 🥰
  • Feel free to use my graphic for your own post (with credit) if you’d like or create your own

1: How do you organize the books on your shelves?

My go-to is organizing by genre or category. My favorite shelf probably has to be the one with all my fantasy books. I like that its a big enough space where I can fit a lot onto a single shelf and though I never knew this about myself until my collection began to grow, I personally don’t mind fitting genres/sub-genres together in that space. My adult fantasy, sff, and YA fantasy all share space on the fantasy shelf and I like how it reflects the variety of books that I enjoy discovering.

2: Any particular aesthetic or niche genre of books you’d like to see more of on your shelves?

One that I’ve seen a lot more of recently is Dark Academia. While I do have a couple like If We Were Villains from M.L. Rio and Vicious by VE Schwab, I’d love to add more to this minute collection because this aesthetic is just so fascinating to me and I love how it inspires my creativity when I journal or even just the visuals on an intellectual level.

My copy of Vicious also has a lot of sentimental value to me because it was the first adult sff book I’d ever read and owned (I also clearly remember reading it while I was still in school, so the dark academia interests still stays with me I guess 😂✨?)

3: Pick a book on your shelf and share the personal story behind it!

Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter! I adore Ally’s books so much and it was her Heist Society Series (which PS is a part of) that turned me into the reader I am today and got me to not only love YA, but reading as a whole.

I vividly remember counting down the days until the third book of this series back came out back in 2013 and was so happy to have found it sitting on the shelves of B&N on release day…from which I then started the book in the evening to end up finishing it at 6 am. It was the first time I ever stayed up late to finish a book and probably the first novel I’d saved up money for to buy the day of release.

4: Name a book (or books) in your personal collection that people would be surprised to see that you own.

Cris Tales artbook and Felicity by Mary Oliver!

I haven’t talked about this nearly enough on the blog, but I’d been looking forward to a new video game called Cris Tales for a couple years now and since the game just released not too long ago, I got a copy of the artbook with my collector’s edition. I think people would be surprised to know that I do own this, just because I obviously tend to read more fiction and don’t often discuss lots about my love of art and artwork.

I’ve never been one to read much non-fiction or books with personal essays/poems, but I remember the simple, nature-themed covers of Mary Oliver’s books always drew me to want to add them on my goodreads. Since then I’ve bought one of her books called Felicity, which is a collection of poetry.

5: What’s a book that you own that’s still on your TBR?

So many, but are we really that surprised? One I can think of is King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo! While the Grishaverse isn’t my all-time favorite fantasy world, I am interested to learn what happens to Nikolai and the other characters and see how Bardugo brings a close to the universe. And…just a lot of latinx-authored books and sff titles (i’m sorry but there’s just too many to name). I will say that I recently got a copy of Lobizona by Romina Garber and am so hyped to read it, just need to find the time!

6: Name a book (or books) you desperately want to add to your personal library:

Legenborn by Tracy Deonn

Iron Heart by Nina Varela

Anna-Marie McLemore’s other books that I don’t already own too

7: Any particular goals you have for your collection?

One of my biggest goals is to look through the books I already have and figure out if there’s any that can be unhauled. I don’t unhaul often, so I’m sure there’s some that’ve been collecting dust on my shelves and it’ll give me an opportunity to figure out what I want my personal bookshelves to have. One of my other goals is to also find a way of organizing or displaying them that I can be fully happy with. Every few weeks I find myself looking at my shelves seeing how they can be rearranged, but find it tough to actually do something about it. It’s a work in progress, but I’m hoping to work on that over the next year.

Hope this tag gave a little more insight into my collection and my shelves, I had a great time putting this post together!

Now, time to tag a few fellow book bloggers! I TAG:

-Cande from CandeReads -Sofii from Abookathought – Savanna from BoookedOnAFeeling -Joanna from TheGeekishBrunette – Marta from MonogamistReader -Lilly from Lairofbooks -Lila from Hardcoverhaven
-Joy from Ohsrslybooks -Jasmine from HowusefulItIs -Cherelle from Aboltoutofthebook -Lisa from Waytoofantasy – Elaine from Elaine Howlin – Amanda from BookishBrews – Erin from ReadingOnAStar – Cossette from Teatimelit

– Or if your looking for a new book tag, consider yourself tagged!

The Sprite And The Gardener by Rii Abrego and Joe Whitt Review {Graphic Novel}

The Sprite And The Gardener by Rii Abrego and Joe Whitt

Publisher: Oni Press

Release Date: May 11, 2021

Pages: 88

Artist & Writer: Rii Abrego & Joe Whitt (Writer)

Available through Bookshop

Summary: Long, long ago, sprites were the caretakers of gardens. Every flower was grown by their hand. But when humans appeared and began growing their own gardens, the sprites’ magical talents soon became a thing of the past. When Wisteria, an ambitious, kind-hearted sprite, starts to ask questions about the way things used to be, she’ll begin to unearth her long-lost talent of gardening. But her newly honed skills might not be the welcome surprise she intends them to be. 

[Requested a review copy via the publisher]

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The Sprite And The Gardener is a “gentle fantasy” graphic novel that follows a kind-hearted sprite named Wisteria who rediscovers gardening and befriends a young girl as she continues to pursue this long-lost art! The unique artwork carries this quiet, slower paced atmospheric story through its whimsy and its latter focus on community!

Every single page of this story is filled with detailed artwork that gives it a life-like, but also very whimsical quality. The gentleness is further implied through the lighter, pastel color palette of oranges, pinks, yellows, greens, and so on. Throughout this graphic novel you’ll notice how it utilizes floral imagery that’s aesthetically beautiful to look at, whether its a withering garden, a peach tree with petals, a small patch of flowers, grasses, or a garden that’s yet to bloom.

Wisteria is new to Sylvan Trace and like many who settle in a strange, unfamiliar place, is struggling to connect with her fellow sprites, feeling unsure how to form a connection. Then its through her curious nature that she discovers a withering garden belonging to a girl named Elena. Tapping into the lost art, she secretly helps by using her floral magic to let the garden grow & thrive. But will she find the confidence to share her secret with the laid-back sprites?

There’s quite a bit of lore that gets introduced early on, establishing how sprites were once responsible as the sole caretakers of all flora, but now that humans tend to their own gardens, the art slowly went away. However, the sprites still mange to inhabit towns and cities. I liked how the novel explores the idea that while sprites that secluded in their own little oasis, they still find interest in foraging or visiting places where humans live.

The gentle quality of the story allows the foundational message of teamwork to come through, slowly throughout the story as Wisteria helps Elena tend to her garden. Couple alongside the slow pace and use of minimal action, its also expressing the heartfelt importance of friendship and beauty of restoring lost art through teamwork!

While the artwork does carry the story, it can feel like the plot itself is filled with this air of mystery and not enough clarity to make it seem fully cohesive. There’s a lot of wonderful elements introduced here no doubt, but its not developed enough where for me, it felt satisfying by the end. Side characters, while beautifully illustrated to present the floral motifs, don’t feel fleshed out enough into Wisteria’s story and the lore of the sprites honestly left me with questions out of pure curiosity: If the sprites are no longer needed what do they do in a typical day & how do they utilize their “mysterious, wondrous magic”? Where did Wisteria come from previously and what led to her softspoken, curious nature?

The worldbuilding is expanded on in a few ways by establishing on the first few pages how the sprites became important to humans, the general atmosphere of the story, and seeing the different backgrounds + locations that the sprites visit. Another interesting piece of info that lends itself to speculate the future of the world, is hearing the Sprites dream jobs if they were to work with plants again! Overall, I do like the whimsical, charming quality to the world.

Artwork is just so beautiful from the style to the colors, I also enjoyed the paneling which makes the world feel really big. The paneling gives it a “manga-esque” quality to where the panel boxes aren’t all the same, there’s a good variety and I like how certain panels layer onto the background settings, making everything come to life more. However that shouldn’t be too surprising because artist Rii was inspired by her love of shojo manga.

I think the story absolutely offers lots of interesting elements here, but to me it felt like it lacked because it only ended up presenting a more “bigger picture” kind of story, instead of further developing all the different layers it introduced. That coupled with the fact that the book did feel quite short, there could have been just a bit more development.

But, I definitely recommend this if you enjoyed ‘The Tea Dragon Society’ and are looking for another quiet, slower paced fantasy story.

The Sprite & The Gardener is a wonderfully illustrated graphic novel that tells a story of of friendship and teamwork! Despite selective exploration of this unique world, the well-utilized floral artwork, inspiring messages and charming storytelling, make this a pleasant slice of life fantasy read!

Spy X Family Vol. 4 by Tatsuya Endo {Manga Review}

Spy X Family Vol. 4 by Tatsuya Endo (Spy X Family #4)

Publisher: Viz Media

Release Date: March 2, 2021

Pages: 182

Summary: Master spy Twilight is the best at what he does when it comes to going undercover on dangerous missions in the name of a better world. But when he receives the ultimate impossible assignment—get married and have a kid—he may finally be in over his head!

The Forgers look into adding a dog to their family, but this is no easy task—especially when Twilight has to simultaneously foil an assassination plot against a foreign minister! The perpetrators plan to use specially trained dogs for the attack, but Twilight gets some unexpected help to stop these terrorists.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: One of the best SPY X FAMILY volumes yet, it blends the action, intrigue, and humor in such a way that its an ever-present reminder at how this is one of the most remarkable manga series out there right now! A spy, telepath, and assassin have adjusted living together, but what happens when a dog with an ability to see the future gets thrown into the mix? Chaos, laughs, and much more!

This was easily one of my favorite volumes of Endo’s series thus far, it highlights all the elements that make the series shine: Anya’s kid-like wonder and presence adds whole other layer of laughs to the storytelling, the SECRET IDENTITIES, the blend of action & espionage, but the most central piece tying it all together: Loid Forger and his mission! [But also Anya, Loid and Yor who are not only AMAZING characters, but work so well as a family]

When an assassination plot against a foreign minister threatens the peace yet again, Loid Forger aka “Twlight” is brought on board to bring an end to it, before its too late. This leads to uncovering a plan that involves highly trained, experimented attack dogs and a chase across the city! However, as the Forger’s also plan to buy a dog for Anya, who gets tangled up in the plot herself, will they find a way to save the day yet again?

If anything, as mentioned before, this Volume highlighted both the undeniable strengths and weaknesses of this series. The strength not only lies in the BRILLIANT characters and dynamics, but seeing how it all blends together to tell an entertaining, clever story. However for this volume anyways, I found the weakness for me lies with the politics of this world. Left in the background, while there are vague context of the political ties mentioned across each installment of the series and being completely understandable, in this fourth addition they are just left lingering here until the end.

While those elements of the worldbuilding are still very much explained, at times there’s this haziness to it as well where this is clearly a case of the characters completely outshining it here. In the end, I’m just left completely preoccupied with the fake (but oh so real) family dynamics, my FAVORITE spy, assassin, telepath shenanigans, seeing the way they work so PERFECTLY together and the new addition to the Forger family: a FLOOF named Bond!

Despite me not mentioning it much in my reviews, I truly love this series and am so connected to the characters and story here (5 stars in my heart). I think what always just leaves me hesitant to rate it higher than 4 is that the world/ setting is usually not given much depth beyond what’s relevant for the chapters. [I’m just always fascinated with worlds in fictional stories and with this setting feeling so big, it leaves me wanting to know MORE].

Anya is yet again the star of this volume as she feels an immediate connection to Bond, where they soon team up to save the world for the sake of Loid’s mission. Seeing her form a connection with Bond, both as experiment/test subjects and being able to understand each other through their abilities was such a beautifully explored thread of this book for sure! One of my favorite scenes of this volume though, is where Anya finds the room with the bomb and helps Loid by drawing a picture…no other books can top the HUMOR that this series has!! ƪ(˘⌣˘)ʃ

Also, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this across other volumes but I very much enjoy each family member going on their own side mission with the idea that they alone are protecting the family (or the world at large), it never fails to make me laugh. Overall, cannot wait to see how the Forger family grows and gets into more chaotic adventures with Bond as the newest addition!

Spy X Family Vol. 4 is a phenomenal continuation to the series! This a fantastic espionage comedy series unlike any other. Following a fake family consisting of a spy, telepath, assassin and now clairvoyant dog…the series can only get BETTER from here!

Muse Squad: The Cassandra Curse by Chantel Acevedo Review

Muse Squad: The Cassandra Curse by Chantal Acevedo (Muse Squad #1)

Publisher: Balzer + Bray (Harper Collins)

Release Date: July 7, 2020

Pages: 357

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop

Cover Artist: Jonathan Stroh

Summary: Callie Martinez-Silva didn’t mean to turn her best friend into a pop star. But when a simple pep talk leads to miraculous results, Callie learns she’s the newest muse of epic poetry, one of the nine Muses of Greek mythology tasked with protecting humanity’s fate in secret.

Whisked away to Muse Headquarters, she joins three recruits her age, who call themselves the Muse Squad. Together, the junior muses are tasked with using their magic to inspire and empower—not an easy feat when you’re eleven and still figuring out the goddess within.

When their first assignment turns out to be Callie’s exceptionally nerdy classmate, Maya Rivero, the squad comes to Miami to stay with Callie and her Cuban family. There, they discover that Maya doesn’t just need inspiration, she needs saving from vicious Sirens out to unleash a curse that will corrupt her destiny.

As chaos erupts, will the Muse Squad be able to master their newfound powers in time to thwart the Cassandra Curse . . . or will it undo them all?

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Review: Muse Squad: The Cassandra Curse weaves together mythology, humor, adventure and much more to tell the story of Callie Martinez-Silva whose whisked away into the world of myths, legend, even magic after learning she’s one of the Greek Muses! Acevedo presents such a wonderful start to a fun middle grade duology!

Callie is an 11-year-old Cuban-American girl who is just going about her average life like enjoying concerts with her best friend, going to school, and trying to survive sixth grade, when lots of weird things start happening to her ― from a freak “almost” metro accident to turning her best friend Raquel into a new pop sensation, Callie’s life quickly takes some surprising turns.

But what she slowly begins to realize is in moments of peril or worry for those close by, Callie can inspire confidence in those around her. These events introduce her to the world of Greek Myths when she learns she’s one of the new Muses (Muse of Epic Poetry). After confirming this huge discovery, she learns that alongside her fellow muses, they are tasked with protecting a Fated One, a person destined to change the world, which turns out to be none other than her studious, “nerdy” classmate Maya Rivero. Befriending Maya and connecting more with the Muse Squad becomes a central part of Callie’s mission as she and the Squad attempt to stop the Cassandra Curse before its too late!

This book is an absolute whirlwind filled with tons of fun moments, but also never falters in presenting an important message about the hero within. Muse Squad was truly a joy to read because it not only delves into tons of themes and ideas, but seeing how the characters bounce off each other, even discovering more about how this world of myths blends into modern day, is so intriguing! What I loved the most was seeing how the story balanced the mythology with the average, everyday life stuff: highs and lows of friendship, family dynamics, school projects, and the hardships of growing up!

Told from a first person POV, Callie’s voice is what makes this story shine! Not only following her journey as a character, but also seeing how the writing successfully blends the magic, myths, humor, and adventure as the plot jumps across Miami, the world of Greek mythology, and the Muse Headquarters (the V&A Museum in London).

The story balances the magical elements alongside friendship and family incredibly well. Callie lives with her mom and twin brothers (Fernando and Mario), their dynamic is so strong and really a foundation for Callie who is also learning more about her family’s history when she learns that her aunt was a former Muse. Seeing this important thread help Callie to cope and also learn where she fits into the Muse world was a subtle but ever-present layer in her story. But on the other hand, Callie is also grappling with her own jealousy and insecurities as she’s unsure how to patch things up with her best friend Raquel who seems to be consumed by the life of fame after Callie’s Muse powers make her a dazzling pop star, who slowly changes throughout the story. There’s a sense of gloom for Callie who is unsure of how to reconnect with Raquel, but it also delves into all the emotions and how they take time to overcome. However, befriending Maya and the Muse Squad remind her she isn’t alone, plus also an ever-present idea that friendship is a process.

The characters all had their own unique quality to them and if you like stories with big casts, this book is definitely for you! Callie and Maya’s friendship was incredibly sweet, but seeing Callie learn to forge to new friendships even when she was still feeling down about reconnecting with Raquel was a highlight because the other Muse Squad girls were so fun: Thalia is the outgoing, funny one, Nia is a lover of science, and Mela is the more realistic one. What I loved the most was seeing all of them with Callie, their dynamic is truly something else when their all hanging out together and I adored that!

The magic system was interesting also, Acevedo establishes the mythological elements so well that for someone like me who just knows the basics, it still feels like something incredibly new. The magic is very unique to each character and seeing how that works in tons of different scenarios was great, but at its core the element of TEAMWORK truly shined! There’s also lots of great action scenes, mystery, and seeing how the Greek myths slowly blend their way into the story even more was always a surprise.

However, I did find it take a bit of time for me to understand the magic system better. The magical elements were somewhat confusing for me at first (due to it being from Callie’s POV while she herself was unsure what was happening), so slowly but surely I got adjusted to the rules of Muse world, but it quickly became the center of what made this story so lively! Genuinely loved seeing Callie embark on her own journey growing into her Muse powers, learning more about her Tia, and growing alongside her friends Thalia, Nia, Mela, and Maya.

Acevedo’s novel is without a doubt, the kind of story that will leave you feeling hopeful, while immersing you in the magical tale of myths and heroism. This is one of those books that left me with so much wonder, curious as to how much more of this world there is left to explore. The fun characters, voice, the heart of the story, messages, friendship, and sense of adventure came together in such an awesome way that leave the reader with just an introduction to this Muse Squad world.

Muse Squad: The Cassandra Curse, is a fun, middle grade adventure that explores greek myths, carries inspirational messages throughout, and introduces readers to new group of heroes to root for! Inspirational and delightful, this is a fantastic duology opener that’s a refreshing, entertaining spin on classic myths!