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!

Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag │2021

There’s no way we’ve already made it towards the halfway point of 2021 — it’s been a unique year for me when it comes to reading and media in general (I’ve definitely seen myself gravitate towards different genres and categories of books, plus I’ve been watching a lot more anime too). Surprisingly I’ve never EVER done the Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag before in my 5 years of blogging, but have always had such fond memories of watching them on booktube, being super curious about others reading progress. So, I thought it was time to finally share one of my own!

I’ve also noticed there’s not always too much chatter on here about the books I’ve read once a review’s been posted. Though constantly I’m always thinking about how a book I’ve read has stuck with me in some way and doing this tag gives me more opportunity to go more in depth on how some of these amazing books have left an impact!

Before diving into all the bookish questions, I also wanted to share one of the super fun projects I’ve been trying out this year and that’s: Tracking my bookish stats! (though I have been behind on updating it…whoops!) But what’s made it such a great experience so far is how personal it can be with the fact I can create my own categories, isn’t something stressful and can be more about discovering my own personal reading preferences! I’m hoping to keep the momentum going till the end of the year to see what the statistics say about my reads and any other interesting things I find. Now onto the questions:

Best book you’ve read so far in 2021?

The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky: There are no words to describe the sheer brilliance of this novel…okay maybe some! I knew going into it that I would end up loving it but wow, did it surprise me!

Rachel Chavez is starting over at a new school and finds herself tangled up in the Mary Shelley Club, a secret society on campus obsessed with horror. I loved Rachel, there’s a sarcastic voice to her, but in the end all she truly wants is to fit in and overcome her dark, traumatic past.

I’m honestly a novice when it comes to the horror / thriller genre, but Moldavsky’s novel really delivers on those classic elements even for a beginner like me, I understood how she was utilizing the genre in such a clever way to tell this story.

Moldavsky effortlessly brings a descriptive, sharp language with her writing that evokes all those classic horror or thriller movie vibes. The story is an absolute page-turner, the cast of characters are so well developed, alongside atmosphere, suspense, and fantastic storytelling The Mary Shelley Club was easily a 5-star read for me this year. Such a phenomenal book, I LOVED it. [Full ARC Review]

Best sequel of 2021 so far?

Oculta by Maya Motayne: Do I have a series finishing problem? Absolutely! I can think of at least 5 where I stopped after a certain point and just never continued reading. However, this year there quite a number of sequels that blew me away. If I were to pick one it would definitely have to be Oculta, the second book in the Nocturna Trilogy.

The development that Alfie and Finn undergo in this book are just unparalleled in ways I cannot describe. This book has got everything, more worldbuilding, politics, intrigue mystery, magic, humor, adventure its got it ALL. I could not put it down, the speed at which I read through this book (according to goodreads like..a day?!) was astonishing even to me because its at over 400 PAGES! With every fiber of my being I wanted to take my time reading this and not speed through, but it was just TOO good how could I put it down?

Truly loved being in the world of Castallan again and especially how personal Alfie and Finn’s journeys felt while reading this book. The growth highlighted in this story was just absolute perfection, they each have their own responsibilities and complicated emotions, but still manage to find a way to each other even when things get complicated. Am completely stoked for the third book, how will I possibly wait? I’m not even sure.

New releases you haven’t read yet, but want to?

The year of 2021 has been filled with many amazing books without a doubt and I have I read a majority of them? Sadly…no. But here’s a list of some that I definitely have on my radar still: Yolk by Mary HK Choi, Wings Of Ebony by J. Elle, Ace Of Spades…SO MANY fantastic YA are out this year I need to catch up on lots! Other’s that come to mind:

  • The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe
  • Ravage The Dark by Tara Sim
  • June Hur’s books
  • The Ones We’re Meant To Find by Joan He
  • Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

Most anticipated release for the second half of 2021?

During June, I actually got an ARC of this in the mail which is Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed: 15 Voices From The Latinx Diaspora edited by Saraciea J. Fennell. Though I haven’t read it yet, I flipped through and skimmed some of the entries and cannot wait to take my time reading through its entirety. It’ll feature poems and personal essays from some amazing writers in the Latine community, so I’m pretty excited about this one! I think what stuck out to me about this one was how with lots of YA anthologies they focus more on presenting fiction, but I like that these are more personal and how some are written from the authors own unique experiences. Eager to read and review this one for the blog!

Biggest disappointment?

For this I’d probably have to say Those Not-So-Sweet Boys volume 1 from Yoko Nogiri! I’m still pretty new to shojo manga and one of the first mangas that introduced me to the demographic was Nogiri’s Love In Focus series. However, with Not So Sweet the more I think about it the more I realize the characters were quite bland and there’s nothing too memorable about them. The concept is interesting, but being 200+ pages it felt there could have been more time given to establishing the characters themselves to offer them some extra dimensions. Still on the fence about continuing this series, so this was probably one of the more disappointing reads for me as I was really hoping to like this one more!

Biggest surprise?

Aren’t the best kinds of books the ones you pick up out of nowhere and end up loving? The biggest and best surprise for 2021 was definitely Wondercat Kyuu-Chan Vol. 1 from Sasami Nitori, which is a full-color manga series about a guy who adopts an abandoned cat who’s very extraordinary and unique. I’ve probably re-read this volume like 5 times already!! It’s incredibly funny, heartwarming, silly, wholesome and FUN! You can expect a full review on the blog in the near future, still debating whether I should review by volume or after a few more have released (stay tuned for that!).

I love that its in full color, it just adds to the charm of the story, but everything from the artwork, to the vignettes, and humor comes together so spectacularly…ahh this manga makes me wish I had a wonder cat!!

Favorite new author?

Going to cheat with this one and say basically all the new-to-me authors this year. There’s definitely lots of books that I ended up loving this year from either debuts or established writers whose work I picked up in 2021. However, I love discovering more writers and overall I’m happy to have had my reading be at least over 50% new authors.

Newest fictional crush?

Okay those familiar with my blog will probably know I’m a Qifrey stan, he’s a patient and understanding mentor who also harbors a covert desire for vengeance (against an evil group of witches) as he offers main character Coco, the chance to be his apprentice and learn how to become a witch herself. He’s from the Witch Hat Atelier series and the most recent volume that released this year Vol. 7 is in one word: Intense. There’s such an aura of mystery surrounding his story, he’s also incredibly well-written, and there’s only a tidbit of his past we learn in the latest volume, but I can’t wait to learn more about his backstory as the series continues. Kamome Shirahama seems to be developing a lot of intricate plot threads to her cast, Qifrey included and I am here for it!

Newest favorite character?

Gotta say Charlie from Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado. She is just FABULOUS! She’s tackling first love, learning to love herself as she is, and working to pursue her dreams as a writer. But overall she’s learning to be more confident as a fat girl and her story is filled with so many heartfelt, inspiring messages! I truly wish there could be more books with her Brian, her best friend Amelia, and her mom ahh I just adored reading Charlie’s story. I’d been really looking forward to reading this book for a couple years now and wow, it was phenomenal, I’m still thinking about it (also Parvin too, uhh I adore them both equally). Fat Chance, Charlie Vega is a YA Contemporary that should be on your radar if it isn’t already!

Book that made you cry?

Oculta yet again, which I was not expecting! But of course, falling completely in love with the worlds / characters once more, there’s a lot of intrigue, conflict, and mystery to this book that of course some Alfie and Finn moments had left me a puddle of emotions okay?

Book that made you happy?

Having read more manga this year, there were quite a few series that left smiles on my face! Wonder Cat of course and also my first read of the year Nicola Traveling Around The Demon’s World. Both of these were light-hearted series and I’m so glad to have given them a chance, they’ve quickly become new favorites and I’m eager to continue.

Favorite book to movie adaptation you’ve seen this year?

I was pretty excited to watch Shadow & Bone, however despite some issues and critiques I have (mainly the unnecessary racism), what made this a great adaptation was how it didn’t follow the traditional plot of the books. Merging together the original Grisha Trilogy plus Six Of Crows, for me, added more to the world and offered unique opportunities to delve into the world in a completely fresh way.

Favorite review / post you’ve written this year?

I’ve been incredibly proud of my discussions and new blog series that I’ve launched this year, however if I was to pick one I’d probably say my favorite of 2021 has been:

Where’s All The Book-to-Video Game Adaptations?: I loved researching for this post and wondering, as a gamer myself, which books would make for unique video games and even speculating what style would work best! I’m hoping to bring more unique discussions like this one and had the best time writing this for the blog.

Aside from my favorite post from my own blog I’m also super eager to shout-out a few fellow bloggers from the community, who I’m grateful to have chatted more with, discovered, or commenting more on their content this year (tbh I’d love to do a whole blog post just shouting out some awesome bloggers because there’s SO MANY):

– Alienor from A Fox’s Wanderings: I recently discovered her blog just this year and am in love with her content! From the beautiful graphics to fantastic layout of her posts, I’m always review, check-in or reading up on the newest video game she’s playing! 💗

– Lisa from Way Too Fantasy: She makes this incredible TBR Shelf Cleanup Series that never fails to make me ponder more about my own book collection. By deciding what to get rid of or keep in her shelf, she’s always delving into a new obscure fantasy that I probably would have never heard of before if it wasn’t for her series. Its super fun and a staple in my weekly blog reading! 💫

– Joy from Ohsrslybooks: As someone who doesn’t read a lot of romance on the blog (especially adult, because this is mainly a YA space) I’m always appreciative of Joy’s content. She’s always reviewing some great romance reads and no doubt, I’m discovering some awesome recommendations through her blog! 😍

Library In The Tower: There’s always fun bookish lists and features on Library’s blog, that have such creativity! For example: On A Theme is about a particular “theme” for certain books that are listed together in a post, which is lots of fun! Super thrilled to have discovered Library’s blog this year! 📚💗

– Cossette from Tea Time Lit: After discovering Cossette through her amazing edits, I fell in love with her content! Also around the same time I started Down Comes The Night, she was an avid supporter and passionate about it and I loved reading her tweets or blog posts that really showed how Saft’s novel impacted her. Of course, I also adore reading her other content on the blog she co-runs with a few other people. Very glad to have found Cossette’s blog and read all her wonderful posts! 🥳

– Cherelle from A Bolt Out Of The Book: I distinctly remember discovering Cherelle’s blog early into January and not only fell in love with her blog graphics, but the amazing way she talks about books in her reviews! Am in awe of the way she describes all the books she reads and how her posts make it impossible for me to figure out what amazing books to read next (…like Spin The Dawn or The Ones Were Meant To Find, cannot decide)! 🤩💗

Most beautiful book you bought or received this year?

There are so many I could probably list for this post, but I wanted to highlight a more recent purchase that I’m super excited about and that’s A Trial Of Sorcerers by Elise Kova!

Back in the early days of my blog I delved into more indie YA through Elise’s Air Awakens series, which has a special place in my heart. So, this year now that a new spin-off title set in this world was finally releasing I of course had to buy a copy.

As I was delving more into who the cover artist was for this post, I thought that the original cover designer Merilliza Chan was the illustrator for Trial Of Sorcerers, but it turns out it was actually Marie Magny! I like how the cover evokes the same feel of the original series and am of course thrilled to have a copy in my collection.

Can’t wait to dive back into the Air Awakens world and this cover is just 🤩✨ I love the detail of Eira’s outfit, the colors, and beautiful background.

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Well I’m sure us bibliophiles can agree there’s always a never-endling list of books we’re looking to read! Here’s a few for me that come to mind:

The sequel to Anna K., The Jasmine Throne, upcoming volumes of Spy X Family, Latinx-authored releases, also let’s just add any YA books published in 2019 and 2020 that I still haven’t read. 😂📚

That’s been the Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag created by Ely & Chami. Hope you enjoyed learning more about my reading so far this year, but now I’d like to hear from you!

What are some of your favorite reads so far this year? Any you desperately want to read before 2021 ends? Have you done this tag? (If so, feel free to share below so I can read it too 💕)

Satoko And Nada Vol. 4 by Yupechika {Manga Review}

Satoko And Nada Vol. 4 by Yupechika (Satoko & Nada #4)

Publisher: Seven Seas

Release Date: December 29, 2020

Pages: 128

Available Through Bookshop & The Book Depository

Summary: THE LAST DAYS ARE THE SWEETEST

It’s almost time for Satoko to head back to Japan! After everything she’s learned and all the beautiful friends she’s made, it’s hard to leave her new home-away-from-home. But with Nada at her side, her last days in the States are sure to be some of her best yet!

The final volume!

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Satoko And Nada is truly unlike any series I’ve ever read before! Both radiant and heartfelt in its storytelling, this finale continues to establish, till the very end, a true and authentic message in valuing the importance of friendship. This wholesome manga is genuinely heartwarming across each installment as the bittersweet finale wraps up the exchange trip of two Japanese and Saudi-Arabian women who become the best of friends while studying abroad!

If you’re new to my blog then you probably are not aware that this manga series quickly became an ALL-TIME FAVORITE when I read the first volume back in 2018 (wow that felt like a lifetime ago!)…reading each volume has truly made me feel like I’ve been a part of this journey alongside Satoko, Nada, and the rest of the crew during their studies in America. This is a series I will probably cherish forever because it’s a rare kind of story that makes it abundantly clear how impactful friendship can be no matter the distance or borders between people.

From its opening page where they welcoming the reader back, there was also this lingering sadness with the fact that their wholesome adventures would be wrapping up (YES there was quite a bit of sobbing as I reached the final chapter & WOW, the bonus chapter at the end really got me ). Satoko And Nada are truly such an iconic and inspiring duo I aspire to be, no matter the situation they are always there to support one another and this last installment is also a satisfying reminder at how the study abroad program has truly been life-changing for the both of them, despite their fears in the beginning.

As the final few days in the States are quickly approaching, Nada prepares to officially see her fiancé Abdullah in a formal family meeting (Shawfa) to make their engagement official (with Satoko by Nada’s side of course), while on the other hand, Satoko is readying herself to fly back home to Japan.

While there’s numerous 4-koma pages that could be talked about, I think what lingered with me that most was the feeling of closure on the horizon, yet seeing everyone (Kevin, Miracle, Rahman, Abdullah, and Pakeezah) interact throughout each act of the story. Though one of the best and probably stand-out moments of this ending was definitely seeing Satoko and Nada go one last major adventure together traveling to New York, Manhattan, and Canada, only for Satoko to mention on their way back to their apartment, being with Nada has left her wondering why she was even worried about studying abroad to begin with!

Despite the tear-shedding moments across this volume as the ladies are trying to say their goodbyes, the author cleverly uses the 4-koma style to input small humorous moments at the end. For example in “Change,” Satoko gives Nada her American coins that she won’t need anymore to where Nada says “I’ll be sure to think of you…as I buy this soda!” I just adored that scene so much because it was a continuous reminder to the reader that their friendship will always be filled with tons of joy and laughs despite the more emotional moments in between.

I’ll be honest, I was avoiding this volume for the longest time because there was just this crushing feeling at knowing it was coming to an end. However, what made the experience so joyful was how Volume 4 reflected on the previous ones in the smallest of ways making the reader realize just how much these two had grown during their studies: Satoko gained more confidence and in general both women pondered on the myriad of moments from the mundane to routine things like buying groceries or watching tv together, that made the experience meaningful! It was the smallest moments that reflected the power of their friendship. The epilogue in which we see Satoko and Nada once again, there’s a feeling of closure and utter joy in knowing their bond will never falter!!

My only wish is that there were more Satoko & Nada-focused scenes coupled with their storylines. I just wanted a few more adventures with them together, but it was great to see all the main characters together again. It was emotional seeing them wrap up their journey and there was this lingering part of me that truly wanted them to enjoy countless moments with one another. While someone like me could honestly read a million more volumes of their friendship together, it was also such as satisfying conclusion that also showed readers that till the very end, they continued to learn and embrace each other’s cultures.

Yupechika has truly crafted a series both phenomenal and worth your time. While being a comedic, slice of life manga about the day-to-day, its hilarious, uplifting and ultimately about FRIENDSHIP!

Satoko And Nada concludes with a terrific final volume! This series follows two Saudi-Arabian and Japanese women who become the best of friends and in a way, for the reader too! Heartwarming, humorous, and sweet, this is a genuinely fantastic manga that shows how truly impactful friendship can be!

Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi Review

Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi (Perfectly Parvin #1)

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (Penguin Teen)

Release Date: May 18, 2021

Pages: 320

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop

Cover Designer: Jasmine Moshiri (Photography) & Samira Iravani

Summary: Parvin has just had her heart broken when she meets the cutest boy at her new high school, Matty Fumero–with an emphasis on fumero, because he might be the smoking hot cure to all of her boy troubles. If Parvin can get Matty to ask her to homecoming, she’s positive it will erase all the awful and embarrassing feelings He Who Will Not Be Named left her with after the summer. The only problem is Matty is definitely too cool for bassoon-playing, frizzy-haired, Cheeto-eating Parvin. Since being herself has not worked for her in the past (see aforementioned relationship), she decides that to be the girl who finally gets the guy, she should start acting like the women in her favorite rom-coms. Those girls aren’t loud, they certainly don’t cackle when they laugh, and they smile much more than they talk. Easy enough, right?

But as Parvin struggles through her parent-mandated Farsi lessons on the weekends, a budding friendship with a boy she can’t help but be her unfiltered self with, and dealing with the ramifications of the Muslim Ban on her family in Iran, she realizes that being herself might just be the perfect thing after all.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Perfectly Parvin was truly a marvelous, funny, and all-around SPECTACULAR YA debut that deserves more hype! Following 14-year-old Parvin Mohammadi, she’s a girl whose starting high school with a broken heart, so she decides to reinvent herself in order to get the ultimate homecoming date!

I’ve realized hyping up my favorite books on social media is a lot harder than it looks. Trying to capture the sheer brilliance of an author’s words and storytelling putting it into your own words (for me anyways) is always difficult. So perhaps my review can convince you to read this fantastic book! If you love a witty protagonist, plots about friendship, romance (of course), but ultimately a journey about accepting yourself as you are, then you MUST pick up Abtahi’s debut!

Iranian-American Parvin thinks everything is going well with her summer boyfriend Wesley, pulling pranks and hanging out at the beach…that is until, he breaks up with her for being “too much.” Now feeling devastated and hurt, Parvin’s gearing up to overcome this obstacle into freshman year by asking out her cute sophomore classmate, Matty Fumero, to homecoming! But when she decides to use romantic heroines from her favorite movies to accomplish her goal, will she accept her new “quiet” self and be willing to sacrifice the true Parvin to find love?

Throughout this journey, she’s not alone! She’s got her supportive best friends Ruth Song and Fabian Castor by her side at ever step of the way. However, when Parvin becomes consumed with her plans on winning over her crush, she doesn’t even realize she’s ignoring and missing the special moments with her bffs, leaving them to the side.

I mentioned this in my June TBR and am still thinking about the amazing friend group that Parvin has, despite its ups downs there’s never a moment when these friends aren’t supporting and sticking by one another!

In addition to her new start at James K. Polk High, she’s also attending Farsi classes and confronting her anxieties about not being “Iranian enough.” Despite her fears though, her parents and favorite aunt Sara especially, help her to juggle it all. Being 1/2 white and Iranian, Abtahi explores the deep bond and connection Parvin has with her parents as she uncovers more about what it means to be the “real Parvin,” who loves hot cheetos, pulling pranks and has a clever sense of humor. Being biracial as well, the story explores the hardship that Parvin’s mom endures as she realizes she can’t always help her daughter connect with her Iranian side, but assures that family (and friends) are always there to assist.

As the fall semester is well underway and prepping for homecoming, Parvin meets Amir in her Farsi class and slowly begins to realize she’s more herself around him. While I won’t spoil how the romantic storyline ends, both of boys are so well developed and I genuinely loved seeing the delightful Parvin navigate her feelings + personal journey with her oh so brilliant and witty humor amid her boy-focused goals (this book is SO funny, adored it being told through her POV). Her character felt incredibly relatable and real because Abtahi builds so much depth, giving Parvin a distinct voice that carries throughout the novel. She’s hilarious both introspectively and outward as well making tons of scenes, even with something as simple as school feel utterly hilarious and charming!

Abtahi built such a distinct voice to her characters, especially for our hilarious protagonist that it was one of my many favorite parts about this book! Parvin felt like such a real character and kind of like a friend too, I genuinely loved reading from her perspective (I’m also not usually a rereader, but this book is one I wouldn’t mind experiencing all over again <3). Despite the story focusing on Parvin’s search for love, friendship and family are just a big (if not bigger) pieces of her story that Abtahi takes her time to develop throughout the novel. She also covers big topics such as the Muslim ban and racism, creating a conversation that Parvin deeply explores through her internal pov.

The setting of Parvin’s Northern Virginia town, home, alongside her high school just come to life on the page. No matter what the setting was, Abtahi’s great writing built Parvin’s world with each and every chapter (though another FUN tidbit here is that the “chapters” are more split up by days / time which adds a unique flow to the story).

This novel also features an incredibly inclusive cast where main characters include: Parvin whose 1/2 Iranian, Fabian is Mexican-American who is gay, Ruth is Korean-American who identifies as pan, Matty is Argentinian-American, and the novel of course follows an Iranian-American family / culture.

Luckily this is the first of a duology, so there’s many more hilarious hijinks with Parvin to come and I could not be more thrilled! The ending, though feels like it does wrap up just a bit too quickly, just has the reader feel joy and hope for Parvin who grows so much over the course of the story. All in all there’s so much love I have for these characters, setting, impactful messages, storytelling, each of which come to life through Parvin’s eyes. Abtahi has crafted a genuine treasure of a book in the span of just 300+ pages leaving me eager to know where Parvin’s high school adventure is headed next!

Perfectly Parvin is a true gem in 2021 YA Contemporary you don’t want to miss! Hilarious hijinks, great storytelling, and lots of meaningful messages make this a fantastic debut that promises more friendship, family, and uplifting Parvin adventures to come!

Book News: YA Books Optioned For Adaptations

In just the past couple years alone no doubt you’ve probably read about Young Adult novels being optioned for a book-to-screen adaptation. With the success of adaptations such as ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before,’Moxie,’ including the recent ‘Shadow And Bone’ which reached 55 million views in its first month (according to Deadline), it wouldn’t be surprising to see even more YA novels headed to our screens in the coming years. That’s why today I’ll be highlighting some of the many books currently under option to get the tv or film treatment, that you may or may not know about!

For clarification, an option basically means that the studio (or whoever acquires the novel) is given exclusive rights to purchase the material to then adapt or start the process of adaptation with an author’s work for a set period of time. There’s also lots of other factors involved that influence the process of getting the book to screen (credit: Optioning Literary Material by Mark Litwak [Entertainment Law Resources]).

With that out of the way, here’s a list of 10 books that are are optioned for an adaptation:

They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

Publisher: Harper Teen (Quill Tree Books)
Release Date: September 5, 2017

Summary: On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

Originally to be developed as a half-hour series through HBO with J.J. Abrams and Chris Kelly attached, a recent update was revealed on May 6 through Deadline that Entertainment One (EOne) has now acquired the rights to adapt Silvera’s novel for television. Drew Comins is attached as a producer through EOne alongside Executive Vice President of scripted TV, Jacqueline Sacerio.

The Wrath And The Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (Penguin Teen)
Release Date: May 12, 2015

Summary: In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all. Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

On November 20, 2020 it was revealed through a Deadline exclusive that Ahdieh’s novel is set to be adapted into a television series with 1212 Entertainment, which optioned the rights. 1212’s Roberto Grande and Joshua Long are also attached. According to the article, “former Bron Studios EVP of Domestic Television and ex-WME agent” Pippa Lambert will also develop alongside Grande and Long through her production company Hellcat.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date:
May 5, 2020

Summary: Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash. Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

Bruna Papandrea through her production company Made Up Stories, acquired the rights to Acevedeo’s novel to be developed for television, revealed exclusively through Deadline on December 15, 2020. Alongside a partnership through Endeavor Content, Papandrea is set to be an executive producer alongside Steve Hutensky, Casey Haver and Janice Park, who are part of the Made Up Stories team. Acevedo is also set to executively produce and write the pilot.

Anna K by Jenny Lee

Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: March 3, 2020

Summary: Meet Anna K. At seventeen, she is at the top of Manhattan and Greenwich society (even if she prefers the company of her horses and Newfoundland dogs); she has the perfect (if perfectly boring) boyfriend, Alexander W.; and she has always made her Korean-American father proud (even if he can be a little controlling). Meanwhile, Anna’s brother, Steven, and his girlfriend, Lolly, are trying to weather a sexting scandal; Lolly’s little sister, Kimmie, is struggling to recalibrate to normal life after an injury derails her ice dancing career; and Steven’s best friend, Dustin, is madly (and one-sidedly) in love with Kimmie. As her friends struggle with the pitfalls of ordinary teenage life, Anna always seems to be able to sail gracefully above it all. That is…until the night she meets Alexia “Count” Vronsky at Grand Central. A notorious playboy who has bounced around boarding schools and who lives for his own pleasure, Alexia is everything Anna is not. But he has never been in love until he meets Anna, and maybe she hasn’t, either. As Alexia and Anna are pulled irresistibly together, she has to decide how much of her life she is willing to let go for the chance to be with him. And when a shocking revelation threatens to shatter their relationship, she is forced to question if she has ever known herself at all.

During August of 2019, it was announced through Deadline that HBO Max won the rights to Anna K. with a “pilot commitment.” Set to be developed as a television series, not many updates have been given as of yet however Lee mentioned in a 2021 author tour/discussion to celebrate the sequel Anna K Away that although there’s not much to share, it’s “still in development…I can’t talk about it because there’s some movement…we don’t have anything big to announce yet but I’m hopeful that sometime soon we will…”

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: September 18, 2018

Summary: Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable. When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding. But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all. In a timely update of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic.

During October of 2020, it was announced through Deadline that writers Aziza Barnes and Natasha Rothwell are developing Zoboi’s Pride for HBO as a series. Barnes will be the screenwriter and Rothwell will work alongside as executive producer. The company Alloy Entertainment is producing in collaboration with Warner Bros. Television.

The Witchland Series by Susan Dennard

Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: January 5, 2016

Summary: In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands. Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home. Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself. In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

During September of 2018 it was originally announced through Deadline that Dennard’s Witchland novels would be developed as a live-action television series, which was picked up by the Jim Henson Company. However an update was shared through Dennard’s social medias in October of 2020 stating that the production had new additions to the team: two showrunners and a director. Julie and Shawna Benson are not only showrunners but also writers alongside Alice Waddington whose directing.

Warcross by Marie Lu

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (Penguin Teen)
Release Date: September 12, 2017

Summary: For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation. Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

During September of 2020, sites such as Variety announced that Warcross would be adapted as a television series where Made Up Stories and producer John Cameron picked up the rights. Executive producers include Adam Lash, Cori Uchida, alongside Papandrea, producer Janice Park and Cameron (who will direct the pilot). Alongside them, Steve Hutensky, Casey Haver and Lu herself will also serve as executive producer.

We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date:
May 14, 2019

Summary: People lived because she killed. People died because he lived. Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the sultan. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. Both Zafira and Nasir are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya–but neither wants to be. War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the sultan on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds–and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

As of February 2021, it was announced that STXtv would be developing We Hunt The Flame as a one-hour television series, according to Deadline. The entertainment company is currently in the process of finding screenwriters for the project and Faizal will serve as an executive producer.

A Song Of Wraiths And Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: June 2, 2020

Summary: For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom. But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition. When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?

While not many details are known as of yet, it was revealed through Brown’s Twitter during September 2020 that A Song Of Wraiths And Ruin had television rights acquired by ABC Studios.

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Publisher: Little Brown Books For Young Readers
Release Date: September 20, 2020

Summary: Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why–or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch–and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes. Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.

Before the novel was published Deadline reported during March of 2020 that Amazon, Sony Pictures TV, and John Berman’s studio-based Osprey Productions landed the rights to develop Inheritance Games for television. During September 2020, it was announced that Grainne Godfree (Legends Of Tomorrow) will be writer and executive producer on the project. Barnes is also attached as co-producer.

Did you know about any of these upcoming book-to-screen adaptations? Which of these books are you looking forward to seeing on the TV screen?

June TBR: Reading New Releases & YA Books

Hello everyone, back with another TBR list on the blog! While I managed to continue my average of about 5 books per month, for June I’m feeling inspired to read even more and finally get through some recent releases that have been sitting on my to-read list for quite a bit.

With summer almost here, I thought it’d be a perfect time to list a variety of books I’m hoping to read. Now that this month definitely seems more manageable alongside the smaller batch of new releases and me being a perpetual mood reader, the goal is to finally catch up on some of my grand 2021 reads!

While being a mood reader has definitely messed with my reading schedule recently, I’m feeling pretty confident that most of these spectacular titles will get read soon and I’ll have lots of reviews to share on the blog this month (including those from past my past list). As expected, there’s a great number of YA here, however I’m also highlighting a couple adult fantasy titles that I’ve been eagerly awaiting too. Here’s my ambitious list of reads for the month:

June TBR (Current Reads)

Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi

Debut ┃ #Ownvoices Iranian-American rep. ┃ YA Contemporary ┃ Released: May 18, 2021

Originally I got this exciting debut as an ARC, but when my library re-opened and Parvin was finally available I decided to read the finished copy instead. Following 14-year-old Parvin Mohammadi, she’s a high school freshman who got her heart broken over the summer after her boyfriend told her she’s “too much.” Then when she meets a cute boy during orientation, she sets out to win the ultimate homecoming date and decides that following the romantic heroines in her favorite movies is the way to go. Or is it?

This book is in one word…FANTASTIC! Parvin’s voice is incredibly funny and the true spirit of this book! While Perfectly Parvin has such a great cast of characters, humor, hijinks, even interweaves themes like friendship, its a story ultimately about self-acceptance as Parvin learns to be true to herself. Though, one of my many favorite parts about this book is definitely the friendship between her, Ruth & Fabián. Seeing these friends support each other as they start their new adventure in high school is so great, they face a few ups & downs sure, but ultimately are by one another’s sides. I personally have not seen enough people talk about this book and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT!

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri (Burning Kingdoms #1)

Trilogy #Ownvoices Indian-inspired fantasy and Sapphic rep. Adult Epic Fantasy Release Date: June 8, 2021

If you’ve followed my blog for a few years now, you’d know Tasha is one of my favorite epic fantasy writers, who wrote the wonderful Books Of Ambha duology. I fell in love with how she crafts her worlds, weaves in politics, alongside deeply complex character arcs, and the absolute joy I had when receiving an ARC was indescribable. I’ve recently started this one and from page one just immersed myself into another one of her phenomenal worlds.

The story follows Malini, a princess whose forced to be imprisoned in a temple by her dictator brother. Soon, the princess finds herself getting tangled up with Priya, a maidservant, who has some secrets of her own.

I can’t wait to learn more about Malini and Priya, seeing where their journeys are headed in this magical world. If you have yet to add this book to your to-read list, it can be best pitched as: Morally grey lesbians who want to set their empire ablaze!!

June TBR (Unread)

Dealing In Dreams by Lilliam Rivera

Standalone #Ownvoices Latina & Puerto Rican rep. YA Dystopia & Sci-Fi Released: March 5, 2019

After so long, I finally read Lilliam’s books starting with Margot Sanchez! She’s become one of my new favorite authors and I’m making it goal to catch up on all her previously published novels. From the summary alone, Dealing In Dreams has been on my radar for years and its a Latina-written dystopia? Sign me up! The story is set in a near-future US where girl gangs rule the streets as they fight for power, freedom and survival.

Following Nalah, she hopes to keep her crew safe and to do so she sets her sights on the Mega Towers. But in order to gain a spot there, she’ll have to prove herself with a vital mission in search of a mysterious gang.

The concept sounds so thrilling and I’ve heard it’ll cover such a variety of themes that I can’t wait to explore. Very much looking forward to diving into this one!

A Pho Love Story by Loan Le

Standalone ┃ #Ownvoices Vietnamese-American rep. ┃ YA Contemporary ┃ Released: February 9, 2021

Who knew the fictional trope of rival restaurant-romance would be my new favorite? Bao Nguyen and Linh Mai work at their families competing pho restaurants, but a chance encounter has sparks flying! Despite their families history of rivalry will their love prevail?

I’m back in a YA Contemporary mood too, so I’m hoping to read through as many as I can this month as well.

Not entirely sure what inspired this recent interest in rivalry romance, but I am here for it! This sounds like such a delightful read and have seen lovely reviews from fellow bloggers that have me even more pumped to read Le’s debut.

The Ones We’re Meant To Find by Joan He

Standalone ┃ #Ownvoices Asian rep. ┃ YA Sci-fi / Dystopia ┃ Released: May 4, 2021

The book internet and especially book twitter, has been raving about this book for quite some time, so safe to assume I have pretty high hopes for this intriguing contemporary/sci-fi twist. Following two sisters, Cee lives on a deserted island while Kasey is living in a protected eco-city. When Cee disappears, Kasey decides to retrace her steps and figure out what happened.

I like how this book is mixing sci-fi, dystopia and a bit of mystery too. Books that mashup quite a number of different genres always intrigue me and I’m quite curious to see how its all tied together.

I’m most interested in not only learning more about the sister dynamic, but also the intriguing setting that He has built. I’d love to get to this one as soon as I can so I can finally be part of the conversation and hype surrounding this YA title!

Fifteen Hundred Miles From The Sun by Jonny Garza Villa

Standalone ┃ #Ownvoices Mexican-American/Chicano rep. + Gay rep. ┃ YA Contemporary ┃ Releasing: June 8, 2021

Julián Luna has everything planned to get out of his suffocating Texas town and finally live true to himself. But after a accidentally coming out on Twitter, plans are now derailed. But when a crush named Mat slides into his DM’s, Julián slowly realizes he doesn’t have to face it all alone. Firstly just want to say from that summary alone this looks like it’ll be such a character-driven journey, while also sounds equally heartwarming and intense, I can’t wait, plus more Latine YA? YAY!

Also wanted to add a special thank you to Jonny for sending along a copy, hoping to read this delightful debut asap!

The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker (The Golem & The Jinni #2)

Sequel Adult Historical Fantasy Releasing: June 8, 2021

The Golem And The Jinni is easily top of the list for my favorite historical fantasy novels of all time, it was also one of the first adult novels I’d ever read and has a special place in my heart. Without exaggeration, I can confidently say I’ve waited literal YEARS for this book (over 4 to be exact). I won’t spoil what happens in the first novel, but essentially the story follows a golem named Chava and a djinn named Ahmed who find their paths crossing in 1890’s New York. These unlikely friends learn what its like to live among humans and yearn to forge their own paths.

The amount of depth and detail you learn about the cast, the meaningful themes, and fantastic world building are just some of the many spectacular things I love about this novel. This book truly got me to admire and uncover more adult fantasy when I was a younger reader so, very thankful to Wecker’s tale! I’ve been waiting for this sequel for what feels like forever and I can’t believe it’s finally here.

What titles are you hoping to read during June? Any new releases or backlist books you’re looking forward to? Any recommendations you’d like to share?

Donut Feed The Squirrels by Mika Song Review {Graphic Novel}

Donut Feed The Squirrels by Mika Song (Norma & Belly #1)

Publisher: Random House Graphic

Release Date: September 29, 2020

Pages: 112

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop

Summary: Norma and Belly plan to start the day with some pancakes, but when Norma accidentally burns them, these two best friends set out to find a new treat. Chestnuts might be nice . . . but what is that delicious smell in the distance? A new food truck has parked near their tree, and these two squirrels are going to figure out how to get their hands on these “donuts” that it seems to be selling.

Mika Song gives readers something to laugh at as these squirrels try their hardest to get some donuts while just about everything goes wrong. A fun “donut caper” graphic novel that focuses on madcap action, problem-solving, and the power of working together. 

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Once finishing Donut Feed The Squirrels I knew this would be a kind of joyful comfort read I would absolutely love to revisit again in the future! Song’s graphic novel is an incredibly charming, cute, and hilarious read about two squirrels who plan a heist to get themselves some delicious donuts. This is probably one of the funniest books I’ve read in a while, its very sweet!

While what first drew me to this story originally was the watercolor artwork, little did I know that going into this with the least knowledge as possible, would make this such a delightful and special reading experience.

Norma and Belly are two squirrels who live together in the park going about their average day! But, when a pancake breakfast doesn’t go as planned they set their sights on some delicious donuts from a food truck instead. However, the problem is that a cranky donut seller is keeping them away. So the only option? Plan a HEIST of course! With the help of a couple of squirrels called Gramps and Little Bee they plan the donut heist of the century (with only 8 minutes).

From seeing their first interaction after the breakfast in ruins, to seeing the girls cook up a plan to try the delicious donuts (with teamwork of course), I knew each scene would be filled with mayhem and laughs from one page to the next. There’s not one moment where you won’t be left with a smile on your face reading about this squirrel duo planning an epic, delicious heist!

Well, the humor woven throughout this is really my kind of humor! Its situational, witty, also just written in a clever way that makes it incredibly fun to read (for example): When they turn into floofs after their first attempt at getting donuts, Norma thinking that Belly turned into a donut herself, and lots more little moments!

There’s a soft, graceful art style that shines through the natural color palette of greens, browns, etc. What adds another layer to the soft, comforting quality of this story is through the vivid ink, watercolor, and sumi brush tools used in the artwork. Visually and aesthetically its wonderful to look at.

Probably leaving this at 4.5 stars although the reading experience is an absolute 5! I think all I wanted was just a bit more from this first installment because its truly so much fun and also very CUTE? Loved the dynamics between the characters, the humor especially, and seeing the quirky story come to life through the art style. This book truly was EVERYTHING I needed right now, I adored it so much!

Random House Graphic is probably one of my new favorite graphic novel imprints right now, they’ve released such amazing titles that have become some memorable reads for me such as Séance Tea Party and Suncatcher, I’m beyond thrilled to have finally read this wacky, humorous squirrel tale too!

Donut Feed The Squirrels is an incredibly cute and hilarious graphic novel about squirrels planning a sweet donut heist! The artwork, humor, and storytelling all blend perfectly together, leaving readers eager to read the next Norma and Belly adventure!

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean ARC Review

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean (TEA #1)

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Release Date: May 18, 2021

Pages: 336

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop

Cover Artist: John Ed De Vera

Summary: Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in—it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi—or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”—and her mom against the world. But then Izzy discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity… and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.

In a whirlwind, Izzy travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.

Izzy soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself—back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairytale, happily ever after?

My Rating: ★★★

[Received an ARC through a giveaway]

Tokyo Ever After is an incredibly fun, heartwarming tale about an ordinary girl named Izumi who learns she’s actually a PRINCESS, yes that’s right! Through a witty, charming voice, great storytelling, a bit of romance and pivotal themes of self-discovery plus family to name a few, Izzy figures out who she wants to be in this charming YA Contemporary!

Izumi Tanaka lives her daily life with her single, very supportive mother in a small northern California town, loves being with her friends and is ready to finish up her final year of high school in Mount Shasta. But when her friends help her uncover clues as to who her father is, she’s soon thrust into the spotlight and given the opportunity to discover more about her royal lineage with a trip to Japan when she learns that her father is in fact – a crown prince!

I think what stayed with me the most about Jean’s novel was Izzy herself. There’s an “ordinary-ness” to her, which is part of the charm about her character! She’s always grown up comfortably with her mom and now realizes there’s this other side to her family that she never knew. Through a first-person POV, Izzy feels so incredibly real. She has insecurities about whether she has the potential to live up to thousands of years of tradition, be “enough,” and ultimately discover who she wants to be along the way.

Getting accustomed to the bustle of being a royal for her two-week stay she’s introduced to her cousins, handmaiden, assistants, etc. and Izzy is learning where she fits in as she’s attending events, keeping up appearances for the press, even doing visits to surrounding areas. As she’s trying to understand more about her heritage, there’s an underlying humor that stays throughout the book making her journey so very endearing and relatable.

Family and friendship (the AGG’s were so supportive) are such important parts of Izzy’s life and Jean does a fantastic job at merging these two that help steady Izzy whenever she’s feeling unsure about taking up her role as princess. Her parents just want her to be happy and although each dynamic is different (her father is just as nervous as she is), there’s important moments where she feels like she can finally embrace who she is. I think one of my FAVORITE scenes is when she was readying to leave her visit to Kyoto and she learns that the town has welcomed her. After a series of mistakes, missteps and blunders, this one moment makes her realize her significance and strength as a ruler.

Another one of my favorite parts about this novel was just how incredibly funny it was. Izumi is quite silly and her blunt, comedic honesty makes her journey feel relatable being introduced to all these royal protocols while finding her footing little by little. In addition another relatable part to her character was when she mentioned feeling like she’s always in the background and now as someone who is in the spotlight 24/7, it made following her journey feel familiar. A line from the book that also stuck with me and reminded me of Izzy’s clever humor was when she says something like: did parents really have lives before their children? Not sure why, but I still think about that quote and it was just overly silly, but very witty too.

Now onto the romance! When Izzy first heads to Japan, she’s assigned a royal bodyguard named Akio. While it definitely starts off as a kind of disliking-to-understanding then lovers kind of dynamic, it slowly becomes a bigger part of Izzy’s story which while it is incredibly sweet, I do wish there was more of a focus on her connecting with her relatives. She has this whole other side to her family that she’s LITERALLY just learned about and I’m sad there wasn’t more page-time given to her trying (or Yoshi and the twins) to reach out just a bit more. I think focusing more on her building those connections with her family would have added another great layer to her story to build that bridge with her Japanese heritage.

Naturally though, a story this delightful couldn’t possibly end after just one book right? So after a bit of research I learned from a Publisher’s Weekly interview that Emiko is in fact writing a SEQUEL coming in 2022 titled ‘Tokyo Dreaming.’ I’m so incredibly happy about this because the ending of course leaves in a very hopeful place for Izzy and her future. Overall this was so delightful, filled with charm, humor, and just awesome storytelling, had so much fun reading this!

Tokyo Ever After is a sweet, comedic, and heartwarming YA Contemporary about an ordinary girl turned princess, whose trying to figure out her place in the world! Delivering a funny, witty protagonist, immersive story and inspiring messages, you’ll be left wanting to know more about what’s next for Izzy!