Fictional Faves: Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno

Hey everyone 24hr.YABookBlog here! (~˘▾˘)~ 💞✨📚 Have you ever wondered what your favorite fictional characters would enjoy from our world? I know I sure have, that’s why today I’m so excited to share with you Fictional Faves !! 🎉🎊

Don't Date Rosa Santos by Nina MorenoI was inspired to create this post because as an aspiring YA writer, my favorite part of the creation process has always revolved around my characters!

So, the introduction into today’s post will feature Rosa Santos from Nina Moreno’s Don’t Date Rosa Santos! If you’re interested in reading my thoughts on this lovely contemporary you can check out my full review here!!

I’ll be listing books, video games, and other fun fictional stories that I think Rosa would really enjoy!

Books

Rosa has got a lot on her plate from finalizing her college plans, setting up for her town of Port Coral’s Spring Fest, while also trying to explore more about her family’s past to feel more connected to her Cuban roots, and maybe even find love along the way!

Analee, In Real Life by Janelle MilanesThat’s why I feel Rosa would really love books by Janelle Milanes! Milanes is a YA author who also writes contemporary stories centering around Cuban-American main characters (who also have anxiety)! With her most recent book being: Analee, In Real Life!

Rosa would feel such a deep connection to her books because she even mentions in Don’t Date Rosa Santos that although she’s grown up in Port Coral that has a Latinx community, on a personal level she still hasn’t found that connection to her own Cuban history!

Not only would Rosa easily devour Milanes’s books in one sitting, but she’d also be able to relate to them on such a personal level. Also considering that Rosa is graduating high school, she would find Milanes’s younger characters incredibly brave and inspiring (Victoria: 15 and Analee: 16 or 17 I think?). Reading about Cuban-American protagonists just like her that overcome their own obstacles, would also inspire her to to the same!

Podcasts

If Rosa were in the mood for a podcast, I think she would really enjoy the urban fantasy audio drama: Return Home!

return-home-podcast

Return Home, created by Jeff Heimbuch centers around Jonathan Barker who is told to “return home” to his home of Melancholy Falls, NJ. From there he reunites with his best friend Buddy and former girlfriend Amy as they uncover the mysterious and supernatural happenings of their town!

Rosa would really enjoy this podcast because coming from a small town herself, she’d relate to the tight-knit community presented in the show! Also, it would have her wondering maybe Port Coral has some of its own supernatural mysteries left undiscovered? (especially when she’s heard of the town’s hidden Golden Turtle).

Video Games

I’ll honestly find any reason to include Kingdom Hearts on my blog every now and again, but I truly believe if Rosa were to play video games, she would really love this series!

joyce-mccown-791673-unsplash books

Kingdom Hearts is a JRPG that follows Sora on his adventures to travel across different worlds inspired by the Disney films! Its a story about friendship + the bonds between, as he fight monsters and learns more about the light/darkness the tie the worlds together.

With Rosa’s dream to explore more beyond her small town, much like the themes within Kingdom Hearts, she would relate to the main characters of Sora and Riku! Also, I believe she’d appreciate a good adventure with unique and immersive fantasy lore, and complex storytelling!

I also feel she would listen to the Destiny Islands theme on repeat–I know I sure did while reading Moreno’s book (it gave me such Port Coral vibes)! 😂🎧💖

So those are the fictional stories Rosa would absolutely love!

What are your thoughts on today’s Fictional Faves? Any recommendations for another fictional character I should create a list for?

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Finale by Stephanie Garber Review

Finale by Stephanie Garber CR: Flatiron BooksFinale by Stephanie Garber (Caraval #3)

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Release Date: May 7, 2019

Pages: 478

Available Through The Book Depository: Finale (UK Paperback Edition)

Summary: A love worth fighting for. A dream worth dying for. An ending worth waiting for.

It’s been two months since the Fates were freed from a deck of cards, two months since Legend claimed the throne for his own, and two months since Tella discovered the boy she fell in love with doesn’t really exist.

With lives, empires, and hearts hanging in the balance, Tella must decide if she’s going to trust Legend or a former enemy. After uncovering a secret that upends her life, Scarlett will need to do the impossible. And Legend has a choice to make that will forever change and define him.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun. There are no spectators this time—only those who will win, and those who will lose everything.

Welcome, welcome to Finale. All games must come to an end…

*Finale spoilers are in this review*

My Rating:★★★☆☆ ¾

My Thoughts: Finale is the page-turning conclusion to the Caraval series! Expansion on the lore of the world, focus on character-development, and romance take center stage as sisters Scarlett and Tella work together to save their world while also finding their happy endings!

Finale! This is a book I was actually surprised I’d put off to the side when it first released because I’d read Caraval and Legendary back to back last year! But I’d finally taken time to see what this final book had in store and finished it within just a couple days! Now that I’ve finally read it, I have so many thoughts on it, but overall I’d say its a really satisfying ending to this series!

What I appreciated about this final book was how it continued to build on the lore and mythology of the world, especially regarding the Fates!

For me, Caraval has always been one of those series where I’d sped through each book within a couple days and enjoyed immersing myself in a fun fantasy world for a while–that’s something I really appreciate these books! No matter my critiques of this series, I’ve always just appreciated finding the fun in following Scarlett and Tella on their grand adventures throughout the world of Caraval!

Finale starts with both Scarlett and Tella in a place of sadness. Scarlett’s felt abandoned by Julian decides to see if she can make her arrangement work with Nicolas d’Arcy, while Tella has felt nothing but loneliness since Legend left her and he only visits her in dreams while he reins over as prince.

Throughout this novel, both sisters go on journeys of growth and development to better understand who they want to be in this magical world they’ve gotten themselves mixed up in.

Overall, as I’m reflecting on Finale I found that message was something that stuck with me as I followed each character’s story. From Legend, Jacks, to the Fates, Paloma, etc. what this last book really takes time to explore is the sacrifices characters learn to make not only for themselves, but for others and their world. This novel really focuses on the growth and healing of our main cast of characters!

Slowly Scarlett, Tella, and Julian begin to realize that now with Fates having escaped, they’ve found their way into the real world and are causing havoc in Elantaine. But, it goes beyond more than just that as Tella learns they still have a connection to her mother, but more specifically one in particular–The Fallen Star.

Finale is incredibly character-driven and I appreciate that! Throughout the series, Garber has always written her characters in such a way that’s allowed me to really connect with them and in Finale I felt she made that an even bigger focus.

This last book also has a lot more romance, which was nice! However, I did find it took up a lot of the story at points, especially when it came to Tella’s story-line. I definitely understood why it did though: Tella feels all by herself and when we learn Legend is avoiding her because its tied to his immortality/powers, Jacks is the only one willing to help and be honest with her, agreeing to alter her emotions to take away her pain.

But as I read, I felt the romance did drag a bit too much for too long. Especially when it came to Tella and Legend, it took steps back when it didn’t need to and the plot point of Scarlett creating a competition between Julian & Nicolas–why??  Its so obvious Julian is meant for her and just felt like filler.

I will say though, I loved Jacks and would say he’s probably one of my favorite characters  & Fates in this book (and the series maybe?), he deserved more in my opinion!! He helped Tella and offered her answers to help with the Fates when she wasn’t sure. Although he is cunning and deceptive, even knowing he just wanted to win over Tella, he still decided to help them anyways.

It was also great to see Julian and Dante interact with the original Caraval crew again, though I am sad because they were only present for a small portion of the story. Finale delivered a lot of growth and development to the 3 guys: Julian, Legend/Dante, & Jacks and you could really see how they each changed over the course of the story!

Now onto more critical points that lowered my rating on this last book! I think the whole reading experience of Finale made me think more about series finales as a whole and how they wrap up. I did read Finale with a more critical lens because the journey of reading this hyped-up series overall and being an aspiring fantasy writer, just made me go into it analyzing different elements of the story a lot more deeply!

Firstly, the pacing. While it was great to get both Scarlett and Tella’s POVs because it added so many layers to the story, compared to previous books, I felt Finale was definitely slower. Which is interesting because when I looked at the page counts, Legendary is only about 20 pages less. Plot points for me really dragged for a while longer than they needed to–such as Tella jumping between Legend and Jacks & Scarlett being trapped with the Fallen Star to name a few.

For me I felt it wasn’t until Jacks helped Tella out, that her storyline began to move forward a lot faster. Though I will say that I appreciated Scarlett taking a more active role compared to her role in Legendary!

Now onto world-building! I loved getting all these facets to explore the lore and how it developed alongside the plot, such as getting to meet the Fates and seeing them interact with the universe of Caraval. For example, seeing Poisoner’s work early on with Scarlett and Julian and understanding how Legend could help Jacks regain all his power. However, I’m not sure what it is exactly, but I didn’t feel like the setting itself expanded or changed in this book a whole lot. I’m also not sure if this makes sense, but when looking at Caraval, Legendary, and Finale together as a whole…it felt like the mechanisms and atmosphere of each of them (in regards to the world) changed between each one and I’m not sure how I felt about that.

The writing itself, while it was cinematic and nice to read, did feel overly descriptive. Generally speaking, I felt it didn’t do much to really build on the actual setting itself. Also, I’m not sure if its just me but there were SO many dress descriptions in this book 😂!

I think another element of the story that made a decline the further I read, was the main villain and his motivations. I felt they really fell apart and just ended up dragging up until Tella, Scarlett, and the team developed their plan, then the story and pacing got a lot better (there’s also time-travel involved! I’m only disappointed it was brought in this late into the series and was used to conveniently tie up the ending).

I will say though that I loved exploring the magic system a lot more in-depth through not only the Fates, but also characters we’ve gotten to know such as Legend, Jacks, and more interestingly Scarlett!

Above all, Finale had a lot of different plot threads and I’m happy that Garber wrapped them all up very nicely!

Finale is Garber’s last return to the world of Caraval, tying together the Dragna’s sisters journeys! The mystery, romance, character-development, and mythology are just some of the many elements weaved into this final book that will keep you reading till the last page! The dark, magical, and immersive world of Caraval comes to an end in this satisfying conclusion!

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen ARC Review

The Merciful Crow by Margaret OwenThe Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen (The Merciful Crow #1)

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (Fierce Reads)

Release Date: July 30, 2019

Pages: 384

Available Through The Book Depository: The Merciful Crow

Summary: A future chieftain

Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince

When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard

Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?

*Received ARC from Yallwest*

My Rating:★★★☆☆ ¾

My Thoughts: The Merciful Crow is a YA Fantasy debut that takes readers on an adventure following future chieftain Fie, a runaway prince, and his bodyguard as they travel across Sabor to save Fie’s fellow Crows! The setting’s atmosphere and cast of characters will keep readers immersed in this action-filled debut that presents a unique magic system and intriguing politics that build as the story develops!

The Merciful Crow was one of those debuts I knew I just had to read! I was really looking forward to the story not only because it had a really unique concept, but also I’d seen so many positive reviews and that had me even more excited to check it out!

Though Owen’s debut wasn’t a 5-star read for me, it still had a lot of elements that I enjoyed and that I’ll be exploring more in-depth!

From the opening pages featuring a Caste Legend, I knew I was going to be immersed in a distinct fantasy world unlike any I’d really read before!

The world of Sabor is divided into 5 different castes which all have separate classes within them, all named after different birds (Peacock, Swan, Dove, Hawk, and Vulture, to name a few), with Phoenix being the highest caste.

Among these castes, people are all born with a Birthright that gives them a specialized skill or affinity (for example, the Vulture caste has an affinity for hunting). Crows, however have no affinities or skills, so they must take teeth of the dead from other castes to perform magic. Crows are also the only ones with the unique ability to defend themselves against the Sinner’s Plague, a deadly disease that can wipe out entire cities within days. However, even with this life-saving ability, they are still treated poorly by the other castes.

We follow Fie, future chieftain of the Crows, who travels across the land with her band who deliver mercy killings to those struck with illness. When the Crows find themselves at the royal palace that’s been struck by the plague, it’s just another average day. However what we quickly learn is that 2 boys have recently been struck with the illness, and one of them is the crown prince.

It turns out however, crown prince Jasimir and his Hawk bodyguard Tavin, were actually using that as a cover to escape the royal palace, because the queen Rhusana is trying to get rid of him.

As the two join Fie’s Crows, they agree to a pact that will offer the Crow’s lifelong protection from the assassins and castes loyal to the crown, such as the Oleanders and Vultures, who don’t give much thought to how they’re treated.

The Crows do a very important job within this world, but are still seen as outsiders in a society that at the end of the day relies on them, as the illness continues to spread.

The setting and atmosphere of Sabor, with its dense forests, stone infrastructure, traveling bands of friends and family, together painted for me, a picture of an early century Europe. This image I had in my mind definitely wasn’t by accident because, according to a recent article from Tor where Owen discusses the inspiration for The Merciful Crow, she states that she was inspired by the history of executioners of Medieval Europe!

“One of the most overt parallels is the ostracization of historical executioners and that faced by our heroine, Fie. For background, Fie belongs to a caste known as the Crows, who are not quite executioners, but may as well be: they are immune to a fast and terminal illness called the Sinner’s Plague, one that is believed only to initially infect people as divine punishment. The Crows are expected to remove the infected, mercy-killing them if need be, and give them funeral rites. Like executioners of old, they may not hand out the sentence, but it’s their duty to carry it out…”

Owen explored the dynamics between Crows and their societal standing extremely well, where you sense that tension (and division) between castes throughout the entirety of the book. You can see how the politics of each caste and especially treatment of the Crows is built with so many layers/threads that definitely leave for more exploration in the sequel!

When Fie’s tight-knit group of Crows are taken, she embarks on a journey with the help of  Tavin and Jasimir to get them back. However with a pact ensuring future protection for the Crows, she tries not to lose hope even as they avoid the Oleanders, trackers, and monstrous ghasts that chase them at every turn!

While the fantasy world of Sabor was distinct and that’s something I really loved about it,  I wish there was further development of this vast setting as the story progressed. We focus on the Crows, Vultures, and Hawks (mainly) and while we definitely get glimpses into each caste, I felt there just wasn’t enough information to really connect me to the world fully–pockets of this world seemed to be missing and because of that I didn’t feel such a strong connection to the world in its entirety.

As for plot, while I do enjoy journey stories (which this one definitely is), I did find that the team jumped around from one spot to another a bit too quickly. Because new locations were introduced every few pages with very brief descriptions and then moved onto a new place, I felt lost as to where the Crows were headed exactly, early on.

I will say though, what I enjoyed about the journey that Fie, Jas, & Tavin embark on together was how with each new location, it did layer more of the politics and perspective of different castes within the world–I just wish it was more developed.

One of my favorite parts about The Merciful Crow was the dynamic between the main trio! Jas and Tavin had grown up together and as Fie learns more about them, we see how strong their bond really is. While it does seem that Fie has more page-time with Tavin, I liked that Owen weaved in a good amount of development with both of the guys and we learn a lot about their fears and hopes for their own futures and of the world!

Owen’s writing really highlights how wonderfully developed she makes her characters and I really appreciated that! As I continue to read more YA Fantasy, I realize that I also try to find that connection to the cast–the dynamic of Fie, Tavin, and Jas brings a lot of great energy to the story and was a definite highlight of The Merciful Crow!

Fie is a character who’s fierce and loyal to her caste. While it can seem like there isn’t much more explored beyond that, its the little moments in the journey she embarks on, where you see bits of her character shine through.

Jas is a royal prince who jumps at the chance to bring change to his world, especially the Crows! His deal with the Crows, alongside joining them to reach his forces deep in Sabor, takes him on his own journey outside his lavish palace as he sees more of the outside world he’s planning to one day lead!

Then there’s Tavin, Jas’s protector along this journey! As he connects more with Fie, we learn while he’s well aware that he’s in Jas’s shadow, he also fears the uncertainty of where that duty will end and he can begin! I really loved his character arc and felt it explored so much about identity and forging your own path when you feel one has already been laid out!

The writing while immersive and descriptive, just didn’t flow well with the constant starts and pauses in the journey. Through 3rd person, there’s good glimpses into each character and I really appreciated that! However, when it came to the world itself, I still felt a bit distant from it and found the exploration of the setting (either new or previously explored), seemed to be a bit surface level and felt it could been more developed.

While the writing successfully creates a unique atmosphere for the setting, if I were to look at just the writing itself, I found it was a bit generic–descriptive when it needed to be, but in the end it was quite hard to find that special element that also made it stand out alongside the story.

Aside from those critiques though, I’m personally really looking forward to seeing more of how the characters develop in the sequel! They are what kept me reading and I can’t wait to see where their journeys take them next!

The Merciful Crow is an atmospheric fantasy debut that introduces a unique and immersive world! Fie embarks on a journey to save her people and along the way, gather the wisdom to determine if she’s ready to be the chieftain her people need! If your a fan of character-driven journey stories, Owen’s debut is one to check out!

Today I’m also shouting out a fellow book blogger’s review 😍💕📚

The Merciful Crow ARC Review from Sab over at Vengeance & Starlight

We follow each other on twitter & for a while I’d been seeing all her lovely tweets talking about this book! She goes into discussion of a couple topics I wasn’t able to cover much in my review such as the oppression of the Crows and the interesting change in writing voice as the story progresses! 💞

Overall she gave this book 5 stars and as I read her review I could feel the love she has for this delightful book from the characters to the world and how everything ties together! If you need more convincing to check out Margaret Owen’s The Merciful Crow, check out her wonderful review!

Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 2 by Kamome Shirahama {Manga Review}

Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 2Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 2 by Kamome Shirahama (Witch Hat Atelier #2)

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

Release Date: June 25, 2019

Pages: 192

Available Through The Book Depository: Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 2

Summary: Her journey as a witch is underway, and Coco’s earnest wish is but to learn. But now she has a dragon in her way, and friendships she badly wants to earn. For comrades lend one strength to carry on and kindred spirits blunt the keenest threat. A dragon, once enraged, now sleeps ’til dawn, transforming peril into light vignette. Though Coco has attained apprenticeship and Qifrey’s trio now becomes quartet, his gift to Coco threatens to be stripped, for wary Watchful Eyes no wrongs abet. When Knights Moralis come to take their due, her magic learned turns magic lost anew…

My Rating: ★★★★★

My Thoughts: Witch Hat Atelier is a must-read series that’s magical and captivating! Coco finds her journey filled with obstacles, from strengthening her new-found friendships and taking what she learns at every turn to improve upon her magic! The detailed art, inspiring messages, and captivating story weave together to make Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 2 an outstanding sequel!

You know when you’ve been highly anticipating a book and when its finally out, you put off reading it only to read it in practically one sitting, then your left wondering how on earth you’ll possibly be able to wait for the next one?

That’s how I feel reading the Witch Hat Atelier manga! It’s a series I’d really been looking forward to since I’d heard about it at last year’s AX and it’s easily one of the best fantasy manga series I’ve ever read!

I truly believe this series is incredibly underrated and underhyped in the bookish community–I can’t recommend this series enough! If you love complex magic systems, amazing ensemble cast of characters, whimsical, but also inspiring and almost timeless tales? Then please pick up Witch Hat Atelier!

The story follows a young girl named Coco who dreams of becoming a witch. But in this world, it’s not such an easy task, only select few are born with the ability to practice this secret art.

Coco discovered her love of magic when she attended a castle festival with her mother at a young age! Since then, she’s held onto the dream that she can make it happen one day!

An unfortunate accident involving forbidden spells leads her on a magical adventure alongside magician Qifrey, where he takes her to his atelier and let her training begin.

In Volume 2, it picks up right where the story left off with Coco, Tetia, Richeh, and Agott trapped in an empty and abandoned Mc Escher-esque city, trying to escape a dragon!

What makes Witch Hat Atelier such a memorable series for me, is that through the writing, characters, their development and plot, I feel like I already know the cast so well that it was so easy for me to get back into this world in the second volume!

Coco attempts to help her other friends find a way out, but Agott and Tetia have their doubts about her abilities. Because of that, Coco questions whether she’ll ever find that sense of belonging in the atelier as they go on without her.

I related to her so much in that first chapter, that sort of unsaid doubt that she picks up on and questioning whether she can make it. But, Coco is both inspiring and dedicated in her perseverance to continue learning, alongside strengthening the bonds with her new friends, even if she knows she isn’t quite ready. I adore that about her as a character, time and time again she’s faced with obstacles that seem impossible but she keeps on trying and uses what she learns to help others!

During this time, were also following their master Qifrey who’s outside of this mysterious city, trying to help the girls and find a way out! But, we also learn this misfortune may be connected to the Brimmed Caps: Witches who wear masks and caps from a bygone era. They keep their identities hidden and practice forbidden magic!

As Coco reunites with her friends, she has a heart-warming moment with Tetia, keeping her spirits up and reminds her of the strength she has within herself!

As they come up with a plan for escape, Qifrey manages to find them, but Coco is quickly faced again with the mysterious, masked magician!

Next, Witch Hat Atelier introduces us to some interesting new characters and magicians! First there’s Olruggio, Qifrey’s close friend and overseer of the atelier. Next are the Knights Moralis, defenders of magic who maintain order by ensuring those who aren’t allowed to practice magic, have their memories erased & eliminate those who practice forbidden magic!

In this volume not only do Coco and Qifrey continue to be my absolute favorite characters, but I’ve now gotten to know more about Agott and I loved her so much + seeing her development!

What makes this volume such a great sequel, is how it balances the action, character development, new character introductions, and world-building in such a seamless way. The complexity to the magic system is developed even further through the use of new spells and obstacles, where we see Coco take each and every adventure as a learning experience to help her on the next one!

Additionally, I loved how for most of the characters, I could see a clear development arc that began and ended in this volume!

Alongside Coco, another character who gets more development is Agott! She’s hesitant towards Coco at first and doesn’t want her in the way. But, as she begins to see Coco’s true strength, potential, and tenacity, she realizes just how much she really belongs there as much as she does! She begins to see just how powerful and inspiring Coco truly is.

We learn she mainly feels this way, because as Agott grew up in another Atelier, she always felt like she was never good enough. Her mother was incredibly skilled and all these outside expectations turned into other’s disappointment. Because of that, she feels that at Qifrey’s she has to continue proving herself.

However one moment that really stuck with me was when Coco and the team were headed out to help a family caught in a raging river and Qifrey said this:

“Agott tends to dwell on things she has not yet learned, rather than rejoicing in the things she has…” (135).

As the story progresses we get a little more about the hierarchy among witches and magicians! This makes for a very interesting end to this volume and I was left in shock once I turned that last page–How am I supposed to wait for Volume 3? I don’t think I can??

The art, as with the first volume, is carefully detailed! The characters especially are illustrated with such care and come to life on the page. What I noticed more in this volume was the little details that continue to make the world incredibly immersive. For example, the onomatopoeias added more layers to the sights and sounds of the world―action scenes alongside the settings, and food (one of my favorite scenes was the rainy picnic they all had!).

In addition, through the writing and art together we get more depth and added layers to the world! More spells and their capabilities, rules, magical equipment like the Rain Cleaver and Link Rings, even the nuances to the magic system (such as why the witches cloaks are so large and billowy― to prevent the secret of preforming magic from being seen by normal people).

The way the panels are shown too, present the story in such a wonderful way. Each and every panel offered something to the story and from the magic system, character development, to the setting–not one single panel or page ever felt wasted!

I continue to be in awe at how everything in this series flows together so perfectly! The various elements to the world-building continue to be incredibly captivating and so well developed. Every time your introduced to something new, it immerses you so much into the story to the point you forget that its your first time reading about it–that’s not easy for a story to do, but Witch Hat Atelier does it with such care!

Another element of this series that is not only an important part, but also something that connects with me on such a personal level is the powerful messages deeply rooted into the story! As I mentioned in my review of Volume 1, there’s this feeling of endless hope and possibility that allows the reader to keep asking “What-If,” which connects to this inner wonder of the magic that’s all around us!

One of my many favorite inspirational moments is when Coco is helping Qifrey cook something in the kitchen using magic and he explains to her:

“When your anxious to learn something and need to get better…the solution is to make it part of your daily life…” (84).

Its moments like that between the characters where beautiful and inspiring messages just stick with you on such a personal level that makes this series so much more special to me!

Witch Hat Atelier proves you can blend humor, dark moments, alongside happy and cheerful ones to deliver a story both inspiring, timeless, and captivating all at once!

Witch Hat Atelier Volume 2 is a page-turning continuation to Coco’s adventures! Character development, inspiring messages, and immersive world-building are just some of the many highlights this volume has to offer! Everything weaves together to bring an epic continuation to the Witch Hat Atelier series that will leave you speechless and want the next volume right away! Kamome’s Witch Hat Atelier is a truly phenomenal manga series that is a must read!

Love From A To Z by S.K. Ali Review

Love From A To Z by S.K. AliLove From A To Z by S.K. Ali

Publisher: Salaam Reads (Simon Pulse)

Release Date: April 30, 2019

Pages: 352

Available Through The Book Depository: Love From A To Z

Summary: A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together.

An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are.

But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry.

When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break.

Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her.

Then her path crosses with Adam’s.

Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister.

Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father.

Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals.

Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…

Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Love From A To Z is a marvel! This is a YA Contemporary that explores the introspective parts of ourselves and how life’s marvels and oddities allow us to navigate our world in different ways! S.K. Ali’s thought-provoking story explores family, grief, love, and deeply explores the harsh reality for many that face Islamaphobia. This novel balances the real and romantic, making it a complex and heart-warming contemporary story you don’t want to miss!

Love From A To Z is a novel that I know without a doubt were I to read again, would pick up on even more profound and deep messages that layered themselves into this gem of a story!

Zayneb Malik knows she was born angry. Its through this anger that she learns its for the right reasons, to challenge and speak up against the injustices around her. This includes speaking up against her Islamaphobic high school teacher, Mr. Fencer.

When her decision to speak up gets her suspended, she takes time to reflect and view things from a different perspective while in Doha, Qatar where she stays with her Auntie Nandy.

But as we learn from the very beginning, Love From A To Z is indeed a love story! Next, we are introduced to Adam Chen, who is tied to Zayneb in a very unique way.

What we quickly learn is that these eighteen-year olds carry a “Marvel & Oddities” journal to not only vent, but admire the world around them. Or more specifically, reflect on their own personal worlds that have shaped them in many ways.

What I loved was that there was a unique contrast to how they each used their journals. Adam is more optimistic, recording more of life’s marvels than oddities, which allow him to look at life more positively. His vow to live more, inspires him to look at these aspects of life that make it what it is. Zayneb sticks to more of the “thorns” or oddities in life, but through that it allows her to examine,ready, and prepare herself to take on the world and its wrongs.

However throughout their journey in Love From A To Z, we see these journal titles begin swapping among the two of them when destiny brings them closer together.

The use of 1st person and journal entries allowed me to connect to these wonderful main characters even more and understand them in a more introspective way! I also found that I really connected with Zayneb & Adam on a deeper, more personal level, through the fact that while I was reading I was also writing notes for each chapter, in the book’s format of diary entries.

Zayneb and Adam meet in the airport and on the same plane when their headed to Doha. Adam is taking a break from university and headed back to see his father and little sister Hanna. He’s also carrying a big secret he’s not entirely sure how to cope with himself, and its that he has Multiple Sclerosis. Throughout the novel as he tries to avoid the discussion with his loved ones for as long as possible (considering that’s also what his mother passed away from when he was 9), so Adam also goes on a journey of understanding what he wants from life going forward.

There’s an adoration they have for each other that subtly develops throughout the book and it was so beautiful to read about. I was smiling the entire time when they recognized each other and were attempting to strengthen their newly formed friendship, all while we knew how much they secretly liked each other! Their friendship/romance was easily one of the many highlights of this novel–their chemistry and dynamic was heartwarming to read and I–just loved them a lot!! Zayneb and Adam captured my heart and every time they were in scenes together…my heart couldn’t handle their cuteness!! 💖💖

This novel also explores faith in a beautiful way as we learn both Zayneb and Adam are Muslim. Faith is different for everyone and the way both of these inspiring protagonists see that to further connect them to one another and find this special bond, was heartwarming.

I loved exploring the layers and different facets to faith in this story. Zayneb is a hijabi-Muslim and proud of it. I admired her bravery and courage to correct others and just connect with the reader through her personal thoughts on faith and being Muslim.

Adam is also Muslim, but he converted around the age of 11 after his mother passed away. Faith for him is also a way to have that connection to his mother and find this deep and unique connection with Zayneb.

Going back to Zayneb and Adam as characters, I loved how incredibly real they became and when I reached the last page I was sobbing at how sad I was to be leaving these characters and their story.

Zayneb embraces her anger and its wonderful to read because its through this anger she finds the strength to combat against injustice in many forms. I respect and admire her anger and how its such an outward part of how she presents her values and beliefs on how wrongs should be dealt with. we don’t see that a lot in YA female characters and I respect/admire that a lot.

Compare that to Adam whose a more soft and quiet soul. However, its also through that we see his worries are channeled through a more reserved way of expressing the things he encounters in life.

Through Ali’s writing, not only is it beautiful and introspective, but it also allows the reader to fully understand and connect with our wonderful cast of characters on such deep level, aside from Zayneb and Adam: there’s Aunty Nandy, Zayneb’s parents, older brother and sister, Adam’s father, sister Hanna, the Emma’s, Zayneb’s grandmother (who we never actually meet), and Zayneb’s friends at home.

There’s layers to these characters that get uncovered as we progress through Adam and Zayneb’s journals and I love how Ali layered these different facets to their characters in such a great way.

One example comes that comes to mind is Adam’s sister Hanna! She becomes more of a main character throughout Love From A To Z and we see how she such leaves an impact on both Zayneb and Adam throughout their journeys.

Another quality they both share that is an essential part to their story and character was this element of hiding a facet of who they were. With Zayneb, it was keeping the angry part of her subdued for the sake of “peace” during her trip away and with that, she keeps this hidden from Adam in an attempt to reinvent this fundamental part of herself.

With Adam, it was this fear of uncertainty that he kept his MS hidden to ensure his loved ones wouldn’t have to grieve, especially his father who still struggles with the loss of his wife. From an early age, Adam learned the pain he felt with the loss of his mother had lessened over time because he kept all the vital memories of her, alive in his heart. However, throughout the book Adam learned to confront his fear with the strength of his family, faith, and memories of his mother.

They find that the more they keep these parts of themselves hidden, how increasingly difficult it became for them to come to fully embrace who they were with each other (which led to a certain point where they felt they didn’t really understand one another). That broke my heart because its clear there’s such a deeper connection between them and I turned page after page seeing where their relationship was headed.

An important part of this novel that was incredibly explored was the underlying journey Zayneb and Adam accept as they learn to better understand the vital parts of their personalities that shape who they are and want to become!

Love From A To Z is also wonderfully diverse from the story taking place mainly in Qatar, it centers around our main characters Zayneb who is 1/2 Pakistani and West Indian and Adam who is a Canadian with a Chinese & Finnish background. There’s also many facets and layers to Muslim and Hijabi culture that’s explored as well.

In addition, Love From A To Z also deeply analyzes many themes which makes it such a complex and moving contemporary story. From the exploration of grief, loss, layers of love, and the very present topic of Islamaphobia and the pain felt by those who experience microaggressions because people aren’t willing to look past their close-minded views.

Above all, Love From A To Z is about the marvels and oddities that Adam & Zayneb grasp/hold onto, which influences how they see the world around them and choose to act.

Love From A To Z a thought-provoking, romantic, and immersive YA Contemporary! Unique in every way, the fantastic cast of characters, magnificent writing, deeply explored themes, with two leads that will capture your heart! S.K. Ali’s latest contemporary story is one that will captivate you start to finish!

Book Of The Month YA July Box Review

Hey everyone 24hr.YABookBlog here! (~˘▾˘)~ 💞✨📚 Today on the blog I’m doing my first book box review, for Book Of The Month YA!

With that said, I also have some amazing news: I’m now an affiliate for Book Of The Month YA 😍🎊🎉📚 This is such an incredible opportunity and I’m excited to be sharing this with all of you!

I do have an affiliate link Here if you’d be interested in getting your first box! I do get a commission and you can get your first box for $9.99 if you use the promo code ‘WHOA’ and shipping is always FREE! + another bonus, if you don’t like the current month’s picks, you can roll your credits over to the next month.

I’d already been familiar with Book Of The Month via bookstagram (mainly) and its wonderful to see Book Of The Month having launched a box for readers of YA!

If you’ve never heard of Book Of The Month, its a monthly book box but what makes this one special is that you can pick which book you want (with 5 options each month).

For their July box I decided to pick Symptoms Of A Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra! My tweet below shows what was in this box: Symptoms Of A Heartbreak, a Book Of The Month cookie, and emoji pins!

I’m was really happy with this box and not just because its my first book box! What I noticed as soon as I received it was that I was glad Book Of The Month has kept their boxes very minimal–either with just a book or in this case, with a couple of swag items!

As cool as all those book box unboxings look with the candles, totes, etc. realistically, I don’t think I would use all that stuff on a regular basis! That’s why I’m glad there’s boxes like Book Of The Month YA–its nice to get a couple of items, but with the box ranging from $10-$15 its great that the focus is on the book itself!

Thank you so much for joining me for my first ever bookish unboxing! 😍📚📦

Have you heard of the Book Of The Month book boxes? 📚💌✨

Truly Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud ARC Review

Truly Madly Royally y Debbie RigaudTruly, Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud

Publisher: Point Paperbacks (Scholastic)

Release Date: July 30, 2019

Pages: 304

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository: Truly Madly Royally

Summary: Zora Emerson is not here to play. She’s enrolled in a prestigious summer program, and is ready to use what she’s learning to change the world (or at least her corner of New Jersey, for now).

Zora’s not expecting to vibe with any of her super-privileged classmates. So she’s shocked to find she’s got chemistry with Owen Whittelsey, who is charming, funny, undeniably cute…and turns out to literally be a prince. As in, his parents are the king and queen of a small European country. What?

Suddenly, Zora’s summer is looking a lot more complicated — especially when Owen asks her to be his date at his older brother’s wedding. Can her feelings for Owen, not to mention her sense of self, survive the royal chaos?

*Received ARC through Bookish*

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Truly Madly Royally is a YA Royal romance, perfect for summer! Zora’s summer gets a bit more interesting when her chance encounter with a boy in the library during her pre-college program quickly puts her into the spotlight. As it turns out, he’s actually a prince! From its focus on characters, to a sweet summer romance, Truly Madly Royally is a fun debut filled with heart!

You know those books that you always find yourself interested in, but never happen to pick one up? That would be me with royal romances–I see them on my twitter feed all the time and I know about a good number of them, I’ve just never taken the time to read one!

But now I have and let me tell you, Rigaud’s debut is one that was just such a blast to read and I definitely recommend it if your looking for a fun, royal romantic contemporary that really puts a focus on its main character!

Truly Madly Royally balances the fun, cute romantic moments alongside discussions of real world issues and topics, so perfectly!

I’d already been looking forward to Rigaud’s debut because I don’t often read royal romances and this was one looked like it’d be a perfect read for me! Not only is it a debut from an author of color, but its also centered around a biracial relationship, featuring a Black protagonist! I’m always here to support debut, #OwnVoices books, and especially those featuring characters of color!

Told through a first person POV, Zora Emerson is the highlight of this novel! She is such a dedicated and hard-working young woman, you  can see the vibrant energy and spirit to her character!

Zora started an organization called ‘Walk Me Home’ as a way to help kids whose parents/guardians were busy after they finished school. She’s really dedicated and dreams of getting it expanded, to make sure it continues to grow!

From the work she puts into hoping to receive more sponsorships and ensuring she see’s it expand within her community, Zora’s organization means a lot to her and nothing stops her commitment to this project!

This summer, not only is Zora busy with her organization, she’s also attending a summer program at Halstead University as a part of its college prep program.

Throughout the novel (especially from her time in the summer prep classes), she talks about the privilege the more wealthy students have compared to others and how she doesn’t ever really feel like she fits in this atmosphere of the university!

What Zora wasn’t entirely expecting either was that a seemingly normal meeting, alongside a phone mix-up with a guy in the university library, would quickly change her day-to-day life and put her in the spotlight!

The guy she meets is Owen Whittelsey, who happens to be a prince! We learn he’s the prince of Landerel, a fictional European country. Zora wasn’t all too prepared for all the attention and royal protocol that happened because of their meeting, but she does the best she can!

Truly Madly Royally is really about Zora and her development as she continues to pursue her dreams as a community organizer! The plot itself really focuses on the introspection of her as character, as she makes new friends and tries to understand what kind of relationship she wants with Owen.

She doesn’t agree to constantly meet up with him at first, but the more she gives it a try, she realizes she’s falling for him!

The story also explores her journey to navigate all these different aspects of her life that get a bit more complicated when she meets him: relationships, being in the spotlight, her organization, & so much more! She’s a really wonderful protagonist and I loved reading from her POV!

What made this novel such a refreshing contemporary, was that it was definitely a YA that’s on the younger side, in terms of voice and the lightness on romance, which was nice! Also because of that, I found the story felt more realistic!

What I loved about this book was how plot-heavy it was! For a pretty short contemporary (averaging at about 280 pages in the ARC) there were so many different plot points and threads that were explored, which was a lot of fun!

Also, while the summary does explain a royal wedding and was mentioned somewhat early in the book, it’s definitely more of a plot point nearing the end chunk of chapters.

Friendship is another aspect of the story I loved exploring! Zora & her best friend Skye keep in touch throughout the novel while their both attending different college summer programs! They always make time to talk to each other and keep updated on what’s going on during their summer apart. Their dynamic and supportive friendship was really fun to read! I appreciated that Rigaud made it such a central part of the plot!

There’s also a plot point introduced about 1/2 way through the book when secrets get out about Zora and Owen and one of her classmates Matt, wants to be her friend! I liked that a friendship randomly blossomed in this book because to me that’s pretty realistic and I loved how it showed Zora that the classmates in her summer program weren’t all the same!

As I mentioned above, this novel discusses privilege throughout, but also so many other topics that really weave their way into the plot of this story. From race, celebrating Black culture, alongside privilege in communities and education. I loved how Rigaud made these themes and their discussions present throughout, while also keeping the light, fun spirit of the story!

Alongside friendship, family is also a really present part of the story! From her mother, step-father, older brother Zach, and father, they all get pretty equal page-time and I just loved exploring the family dynamic between them all. Zach and Zora’s brother-sister dynamic was really fun to read, but what got the most page-time was definitely Zora and her mom!

Her father was also in the story in certain moments and I thought exploring the dynamic between them was super interesting because Zora knows her father doesn’t always show Zora he’s proud of her, but when he does she really takes it to heart!

In terms of writing, through Zora’s voice, the dialogue really brings the characters to life and there’s a distinct voice to each of them! Many of the characters introduced aren’t just side characters but we see they become part of Zora’s story in some way whether its new friends or people related to Owen–they all come to life through Rigaud’s writing and overall they were all fun characters to get to know!

I feel like where Truly Madly Royally struggles though, is in certain aspects in terms of character and plot! Firstly, Owen–he’s nice and his relationship with Zora is cute, but I never felt I really knew him too much…by the time I reached the end, I felt there would have been more development to him. We got a bit more into his family, the grief for his sister who passed away, and that he’s a genuinely nice person, but it felt like there was still more to know about him.

Also, Landerel is meant to be a European country resembling the UK in some way and overall it was pretty well developed, but there were moments I just wanted to know more–because it is mentioned a good number of time throughout the story and Zora gets a chance to visit!

Finally, there were certain plot threads that are left hanging throughout the book that are just dropped when we reach the wedding portion and I was left wondering what happened (like Zach & her best friend Skye & the dynamic between Zora & her father).

But overall, Truly Madly Royally is a great summer contemporary and debut to check out! Its got a dynamic main character, focus on friendship, family, and centers around a girl navigating life alongside a cute royal romance!

Truly Madly Royally is a contemporary romance that really focuses on Zora’s journey when she gets put into a royal spotlight and now has to navigate all of these everyday aspects of her life, in a new way! Rigaud’s debut is a fun summer read with a focus on its characters, a light and adorable romance, and a focus on the plot that will keep you turning the page! Fans of royal romances will definitely want to check this one out!