Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 1 by Kamome Shirahama {Manga Review}

Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama Vol. 1Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 1 by Kamome Shirahama (Witch Hat Atelier #1)

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

Release Date: April 2, 2019

Pages: 204

Available Through The Book Depository: Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 1

Summary: In a world where everyone takes wonders like magic spells and dragons for granted, Coco is a girl with a simple dream: She wants to be a witch. But everybody knows magicians are born, not made, and Coco was not born with the gift for magic. She’s resigned to her un-magical life, until a traveling magician passes through her village, and Coco learns what what everybody “knows” might not be the truth.

My Rating: ★★★★★

My Thoughts: Witch Hat Atelier Volume 1 is a captivating manga debut and easily one of my new favorite series! The beautiful art, alongside the enchanting story, powerful messages, & fantastic characters all come together so perfectly! The first volume of Witch Hat Atelier shows that there’s a powerful magic inside each of us!

Witch Hat Atelier is a manga I’ve waited almost a year for at this point! I’d first heard about it at AX last year and knew I just had to add it to my TBR!!

The story follows Coco who lives in a world where magic is all around her, but not everyone (including herself) know how to use it. Only witches can, however in this world witches are only born–not made!

The daughter of a seamstress, both Coco and her mother live in a small village living their everyday lives. But, one day a magical carriage comes into town with wealthy women from another town.

Not long after, a traveler by the name of Qifrey stops by quickly to get a cloth from their shop. However, after the Pegasus Carriage gets damaged Qifrey reveals he has the ability to fix it–because he’s a magician.

Coco shares with Qifrey that her love of magic came when she was little! Both she & her mother went to a castle festival, where Coco encountered a masked magician that offered her a special book and a pen that she’s kept alongside her ever since!

Magic in the world of Witch Hat Atelier is not only beautiful, but explored in such a unique way! Knowing magic long ago used to be a part of everyday life, but with the world being in a constant state of war, a new order was set up so few (with good intentions) would keep magic alive. But in turn, everyone else had to forget magic.

What also brought such a unique take on the exploration of magic, was how its cast! The secret that must be kept behind closed doors, is that the magic of this world isn’t through words, but drawn!

If your looking for a deeply complex, elaborate, but whimsical magic system, Witch Hat Atelier delivers! The fulidity of magic and how its explored through Coco’s past and present allow the reader to really feel a sense of wonder in this captivating world!

The events of the day inspire Coco to examine the journal one more time, but her spells go wrong! Now she must join Qifrey on a quest to understand more about this intriguing world of magic and save her mother.

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, because the way it unfolds was so brilliant and I highly recommend experiencing this wonderful tale for yourself!

But I will say, as Coco’s journey begins she’s brought to Qifrey’s Atelier where she meets other young girls like herself who are also magicians-in-training: Tetia, Richeh, & Agott!

A very present message throughout this whole volume which I adored was this idea that although magic is rare in this world, its something grounded in a reality that was so relatable to me in a way I hope I can explain?

Basically, because we follow a main character who sees the possibilities of magic (though she can’t wield it) we get this sense of hope, wonder, and the wonder of what-ifs! So, the world feels far vaster than we can imagine, but never hollow–which show’s the incredible depth to the world-building and how its rooted in the powerful messages of the story!

The plot has mystery, hope, moments both happy and sad, humorous and they all complement each other in this fantastic introduction to the series of Witch Hat Atelier so perfectly! The pacing never falters for a moment and the story is captivating from the opening page!

I honestly cannot pick a favorite character because I love them all so much–Coco, Qifrey, Tetia, Richeh, Agott & the masked magician! They each feel so incredibly developed in this first volume and connected with each and every one of them. There’s also a mystery to Qifrey and the masked Magician that I have some theories about (when it comes to how magic is used by very few)–but I’ll keep it to myself for now 😂✨

The setting is rich, immersive, and just gives you this thread of limitless possibility when it comes to the scope of magic as you get further along into the story! It has a steampunk + historical magic feeling to it and it works perfectly! I never felt confused with all these new elements being introduced, instead I felt even more captivated and was in awe! Overall, the world-building is phenomenal

The art style is just breathtaking! Shirahama’s details to the background, character designs, attention to details among each and every panel are true works of art!

Its stories like Witch Hat Atelier that I find can appeal to readers of all ages, because it connects to this inner wonder we have about the magic in the world around us, that endless hope of finding magic where we know there may not be, and its beautiful! Its about believing in yourself and following your heart to see that magic appear in its own way!

If your looking for your newest manga obsession, Witch Hat Atelier is a must!! I can’t recommend it enough, please add this captivating series to your to-read list, you will not be disappointed, I can promise you that!

Witch Hat Atelier Volume 1 is a truly incredible start to a magical manga series I can’t wait to continue! Everything from the story, characters, world, themes, and artwork are utterly phenomenal! Magic thrives through each page of Witch Hat Atelier and will leave you in awe, eager to read the next volume right away! 

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Author Interview With Swati Teerdhala {The Tiger At Midnight}

Swati_Headshot_SmallThe Tiger At Midnight is an upcoming YA Fantasy from debut author Swati Teerdhala that follows a cat-and-mouse chase between a soldier & rebel assassin! With the book releasing next week, I have Swati as a guest on the blog to talk more about Tiger! 😄🎉📚

The Tiger At Midnight is the first book in a trilogy, set to be released April 23, 2019!

Q1: For those who haven’t heard of The Tiger At Midnight can you tell us what it’s all about?

Swati: Of course! THE TIGER AT MIDNIGHT is the first book in a young adult trilogy inspired by ancient Indian history and Hindu mythology. It follows the story of Kunal, a dutiful soldier, and Esha, a legendary rebel spy. When their paths cross one night and Esha is accused of the murder of Kunal’s General, a dangerous cat and mouse game starts between them, one which throws everything they’ve known into question.

Q2: How did you come up with the idea for The Tiger At Midnight & has your original idea stayed the same? If not, what has changed?

Swati:I first got the idea for The Tiger at Midnight when I was traveling and visiting an old Fort. It was the first spark of an idea of what would become The Tiger at Midnight and the first time I heard the voice of Kunal, one of the two main characters. I looked out from one of the old window openings and wondered what would be the most odd or startling thing a soldier of old might have seen. A girl. And that’s the opening page of THE TIGER AT MIDNIGHT.

That initial image and my two main characters, Kunal and Esha, have stayed the same, but so much else has changed! Or not changed, but deepened. I always knew this story was going to be about two people on opposing sides of a conflict and how they find their way to reconciling their loyalties and their burgeoning relationship. And that hasn’t changed.

Q3: What books inspire you as a writer? Or any other writing inspirations?

Swati:I’ve always loved mythology and history, since I was a child, and they’re both huge inspirations to me as a writer. As for books, I loved everything Tamora Pierce wrote as a kid and started to read a lot of adult fantasy at a young age–everything from Mercedes Lackey to Jacqueline Carey and Terry Brooks.

The Tiger At Midnight by Swati TeerdhalaQ4: What is it you’re most excited for readers to see in The Tiger At Midnight?

Swati: I wanted to write a story that celebrated my Indian heritage and tackled the issue of finding your own path, even when there’s familial or community pressure, something that I think is really common for second-generation immigrant kids in America. That’s a huge part of what both Kunal and Esha deal with during this book—their duty to themselves vs. others. Esha and Kunal both struggle with this idea in very different ways. I hope that readers are able to read this book and understand that better.

Q5: The Tiger At Midnight also draws inspiration from ancient Indian History & Hindu Mythology! What elements did you find yourself most drawn to while creating your world?

Swati: I always loved the epic battles and delicate political maneuverings in both Hindu mythology and ancient Indian history and I incorporated a lot of those elements into the larger story for the trilogy (and for The Tiger at Midnight!). I also drew from specific stories I grew up with, like how the river Ganga was brought down to the earth, to craft the lore and magic of the world.

Q6: Between the two main characters Esha & Kunal, what part of their journeys did you enjoy writing the most & why?

Swati: I loved it all! But if I had to pick one part, it would be the discoveries they make about each other and how it affects how they view the world and their lives.

Q7: With your book releasing very soon (in about 1 week) how are you feeling as a YA Debut author? (Must be incredibly exciting!)

I’m so excited! It’s funny, on average, a book releases about 2 years after the deal is done, so I’ve been sitting on this news and this book for awhile! It’s definitely scary to have it be out in the world, but I’m so excited to share this story and I really hope people love Kunal and Esha.

Q8: Is there a particular quote from The Tiger At Midnight you enjoyed writing & why?

Swati: “Never greet a tiger at midnight, for they are the manifestations of your past misdeeds.”

This line is the basis for a lot of the story between Kunal and Esha and the relationship between them and it hints at the larger, magical world around them that they’re trying to save. It kind of came to me and I knew instantly how important it would be to the book.

Q9: What element of your world within The Tiger At Midnight did you enjoy developing the most?

Swati: I’m a huge history nerd so I really enjoyed creating the history of the world, a lot of which is revealed more throughout the rest of the trilogy.

Q10: Which character are you most excited for readers to meet in The Tiger At Midnight?

Swati: Ah, can I cheat? I can’t wait for everyone to meet Kunal and Esha! No way I’d be able to pick one or the other 😆

Lightning Round Qs.

1.Favorite YA Book? An Ember In The Ashes

2.Current read? Descendant Of The Crane by Joan He

3.Last YA Book that kept you turning the page? Girls Of Paper And Fire by Natasha Ngan 

4.Most anticipated 2019 YA Release? So many! Spin The Dawn by Elizabeth Lim, Wicked Fox by Kat Cho, and There Will Be A Darkness by Katy Pool!

5.Favorite shows and songs your enjoying right now? Game Of Thrones (season 8!!) and i’m so tired… by Troye Sivan & Lauv (there’s something about this song that makes me literally unable to stop listening to it)

6. Go-to writing snack or drink? Tea

7. Can you describe your book in 3 words? Honor. Revenge. Love

8.Favorite YA Character? Nina Zenik

9.If characters from TTAM could meet any other YA characters who would they be & why? I think Kunal and Elias Veturius would have a lot to talk and brood about. As for Esha, she’d probably kill to meet Zoya Nazyalensky (literally haha).

10. When writing TTAM how did you picture it? (As a Movie, Tv Show, etc.) A TV miniseries

The Tiger At Midnight is available to add on Goodreads:

The Tiger at Midnight (The Tiger at Midnight Trilogy, #1)


And you can pre-order TTAM (library requests as well!) to receive Preorder goodies, more info on the bookish swag you can receive
Here! There’s also a book trailer for The Tiger At Midnight!

Thanks again to Swati for this wonderful interview!

Are you looking forward to The Tiger At Midnight? ✨🏹🐅

The Universal Laws Of Marco by Carmen Rodrigues ARC Review

The Universal Laws Of Marco by Carmen RodriguesThe Universal Laws Of Marco by Carmen Rodrigues

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: March 19, 2019

Pages: 432

Available Through The Book Depository: The Universal Laws Of Marco

Summary: Told through the lens of a guy in love with the cosmos (and maybe two girls), The Universal Laws of Marco explores the complicated histories that bring us together and tear us apart.

In the summer before eighth grade, Marco Suarez kissed his best friend Sally Blake. This was his first spark.

And since then, whenever he’s thought about that moment, he’s traveled through a wormhole—of sorts—to relive those brief seconds when time sped up (or, rather, his view of time distorted) and he kissed her.

And then, at the end of that year, she disappeared, leaving in that way that people sometimes leave—alive and well and somewhere out there but gone, nonetheless. She never even said why.

And now in their senior year, Sally unexpectedly returns and Marco is shaken. Still, he holds tightly to his carefully choreographed life. A life that is full of reasons why first sparks don’t matter:

Reason 1: He has a girlfriend. Her name is Erika Richards.
Reason 2: He’s leaving on a full scholarship to college.
Reason 3: He’s busy with his friends and making money to help support his family.

But as Marco navigates the final days of high school, he learns that leaving home is never easy and a first spark is hard to ignore.

*Requested ARC through the publisher*

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Universal Laws Of Marco is a YA Contemporary that follows Marco Suarez in his senior year of high school, who has everything planned out! But, he wasn’t expecting his best friend Sally to return so suddenly, after disappearing before freshman year! With this complicating the plan he’s set for himself, we also delve into the past to unravel what happened between Sally & Marco! Carmen Rodrigues crafts a character-driven and thought-provoking story you don’t want to miss!

Carmen Rodrigues’s The Universal Laws Of Marco is probably one of the most underhyped YA Contemporary books I’ve seen & read so far this year! If your looking for a contemporary story that’s real, moving, impactful, while also having a focus on friendship, love, & family, then this is the book to pick up! It’s really good!

Marco Suarez has everything planned his senior year, his scholarship is set for Wayne University in the fall, he’s working a job at a local supermarket with his best friend Diego & has a girlfriend, Erika!

But his life gets a bit more complicated when his first love & genius track star, Sally Blake returns suddenly, after leaving right before the start of 9th grade and never keeping in-touch.

So with Sally’s return, Marco still can’t ignore that first spark! Sally and Marco have been best friends since they were little and nothing kept them apart. Things change during summer before 8th Grade when Sally & Marco kiss. But throughout that last year of middle school, there are moments that cause Sally and Marco to drift apart, up until Sally leaves.

I know I mentioned this already, but this is easily one of the most underrated YA Contemporary releases I’ve read so far this year!! Its not just a story about reminiscing on first-love, its about change, growth, family, friendship, choices, life, and the moments in life that shape who we are.

Because I spent weeks reading The Universal Laws Of Marco, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad when I reached the end because I’d become so attached to the characters, connect with themes of the story, & overall just really fell in love with the book as a whole!

Rodrigues delivers such an immersive and especially character-driven story as we jump between Marco’s past/middle school years with Sally, up until her disappearance. Through this POV, we unravel that mystery as to what led Sally to leave not only Marco, but their entire friend group: Sookie, Jade, & Diego!

While in the present, we follow not only Marco’s school life, but also his family: mother, little brothers, and father, who hasn’t been quite himself since an accident that happened during Marco’s last year of middle school (which gets explored throughout the story).

Another mysterious plot point that gets unraveled throughout the story, was the injury that left Marco’s dad not entirely himself for the past few years. It was heart-breaking to read about and how it changed the Suarez family so much (also with Marco having to take up even more responsibility to help the family through financially tough times).

I loved that although the rest of the friend group was unsure whether to let Sally back in, Marco was still trying to reconnect with her even after they drifted apart. Though this novel is really Marco’s story, it’s also Sally’s story too! Because we learn so much about her through Marco’s eyes and how he was such an important part in her life, that when we see that Sally again, we notice that she really is still recovering from those years after she left and above all, just doesn’t want to be alone.

It broke my heart because, although Marco was with Erika, he obviously never forgot Sally, but was just so unsure of how to approach her again. He struggles throughout the story trying to reconnect with her because she too also feels guilty about leaving them behind and returning when so much has changed.

While Marco was with Erika, I felt both sad & happy for him at the same time! After learning Erika’s backstory and how she impacted Sally’s dynamic with Marco in the past, you also don’t feel upset with her either because she was there for Marco during his dad’s recovery. This was during a time when Marco was feeling lost and alone not only about his dad & how it impacted the family, but also with Sally no longer there.

The use of alternate past/present POV was so well done! I never felt lost jumping back between the two timelines and the way Rodrigues plotted them both out was brilliantly explored, because it kept me guessing as to what led Sally to leave, how Marco would try to reconnect with her again, and still remembering how close they used to be!

Although the summary puts a focus on the romance, that’s not really what this story is about! Its about so much more than that, I can’t really put it into words. There’s definitely an uncertainty if Sally and Marco will ever fully reconnect again and Rodrigues did such a phenomenal job at really leaving the reader guessing where their relationship would be headed.

There’s also such a big focus on friendship that you wouldn’t really know just based on the summary! Marco & Diego’s friendship is also one of the highlights of this book! It has its ups/downs, moments of humor, but it also explores trust, communication, and the support of friends that’s incredibly important during complicated moments in life! Its explored mainly through a sub-plot where Marco & Diego are unknowingly after the same job of manager, when Marco decides not to tell Diego out of fear it would ruin their friendship.

The writing itself is fantastic! I never once felt out of the story and was immediately brought back into the plot through Marco’s POV! With Marco’s love of physics, I also loved how terms/concepts really weaved  their way into the story to make it incredibly thought-provoking and realistic!

As for diversity, this novel centers around a Cuban-American family (Marco’s), Diego, Marco’s best friend whose Dominican, & Sookie another one of Marco’s friends, whose Korean, Jewish and adopted.

Overall, everything about this book from the writing, characters, character-development, themes, dynamics, and pacing made this book feel so incredibly real and relatable in ways I can’t really explain.

My only minor issue was that pacing was a bit slow in parts, but aside from that, this was a phenomenal YA Contemporary and I recommend everyone read it if their looking for a real and thought-provoking story!

The Universal Laws Of Marco is a remarkable YA Contemporary with so much depth and one deserves a lot more love! It explores a variety of themes from family to friendship, while also being a relatable contemporary story which stresses the moments in life and people within it, that change our lives! The Universal Laws Of Marco by Carmen Rodrigues is more than just contemporary romance and is a YA novel well worth reading!!

The Promised Neverland Vol. 1 by Kaiu Shirai & Posuka Demizu {Manga Review}

The Promised Neverland by Kaiu Shirai and Posuka DemizuThe Promised Neverland Vol. 1 by Kaiu Shirai (story) & Posuka Demizu (artist) (Promised Neverland #1) 

Publisher: Viz Media

Release Date: December 5, 2017

Pages: 192

Available Through The Book Depository: The Promised Neverland Vol. 1

Summary: Life at Grace Field House has been good for Emma and her fellow orphans. While the daily studying and exams they have to take are tough, their loving caretaker provides them with delicious foods and plenty of playtime. But perhaps not everything is as it seems…

Emma, Norman and Ray are the brightest kids at the Grace Field House orphanage. And under the care of the woman they refer to as “Mom,” all the kids have enjoyed a comfortable life. Good food, clean clothes and the perfect environment to learn—what more could an orphan ask for? One day, though, Emma and Norman uncover the dark truth of the outside world they are forbidden from seeing.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The Promised Neverland Volume 1 is a promising start to an intriguing manga series! Following a unique cast of characters set in the Grace Field House Orphanage, things are not quite as they seem for Emma, Norman & Ray! With intrigue, mystery, & with both a great cast of characters & equally unique story, this first volume will have you turning the page, wondering what’ll happen next!

So after finishing The Promised Neverland, I was feeling so accomplished because this is the first book I’ve finished in a little over a week (which felt like so much longer, if I’m being honest 😭💔💔). I’m also happy that this delightful manga is getting me out of my reading slump!

I’ve also really been wanting to start this series because I’d heard so many positive and great things about it! After turning the last page of this first volume, I really can’t wait to see where the story is headed!

The Promised Neverland Volume 1 introduces the reader to the Grace Field House Orphanage where the main character Emma lives! She’s the oldest (11 years old) alongside Norman, Ray & a few others who are also her age! She lives a pretty normal and happy life with the other younger kids and “Mom”, their loving caretaker.

But, things take a surprising turn when a mystery begins unraveling after Conny, a girl at the orphanage who’s getting ready to see her new family, leaves her toy behind and Emma alongside Norman, try to get it to her. Though, leaving the orphanage at night is forbidden.

I don’t want to spoil too much about this volume because the way the story unravels, its best to go in without knowing too much! Though for me personally, that’s why I’m leaning more towards a 4-star rating! From my own personal expectations I was expecting a more quiet contemporary story (with light fantasy elements), but those were just my personal expectations & Promised Neverland really takes a different turn!

I will say that my favorite parts about this manga, aside from the phenomenal characters, intriguing story, & world-building, is the themes that are interwoven throughout this volume.

If you’ve read this series, I highly recommend checking out Jeannette Ng’s wonderful thread which delves into important themes & core elements of what makes Promised Neverland filled with “defiant hope.” Her thread also inspired a lot of the themes I found while reading it and want to further explain!

Intrigue and intellect are explored heavily throughout this first volume & mainly through the older orphans like Emma, Ray, & Norman. There’s moments where they find themselves tested and facing situations where you really see the depth of their character & to the point where its clear these characters are really thinking about what’s best for everyone instead of just themselves.

Their trying to formulate plans all while gathering intel, with the perfect amount of intrigue that keeps you guessing! I never knew where the story was headed and was worried for them when their plan became a little more complicated.

No matter what conflict Emma is faced with, even if it changes how she sees the world, there’s this thread of hope & positivity that is present throughout this first volume and its inspiring!

I loved the friendship between Emma and Norman! They complement each other really well and we see that through their conflicting personalities, where Emma is energetic and confident, Norman is strategic, quiet, & resourceful.

Alongside that, I just love seeing the dynamic between Emma, Ray & Norman when they all begin working together.

Each member of the trio is unique in their own way and you see that they each have their own abilities which seems to foreshadow a bit of what strength they’ll lend to the group as their plan continues to develop. Emma is not only energetic but incredibly athletic, Norman is brilliant & strategic, and Ray is quiet, very knowledgeable and observant.

Overall I found myself connecting to each character and found each one, no matter when they were introduced, to have quite a bit of depth and feel very well developed.

The setting itself was not what I was expecting: it mixes dystopia, a bit of sci-fi, but in a whimsical sort of way that I really enjoyed & was hoping for.

As for the art-style it was wonderfully detailed. The backgrounds, character designs, and pacing/development all flowed so well!

The Promised Neverland Vol. 1 is the start to a manga series both intriguing and mysterious! There’s a mix of sci-fi, dystopia, and mystery! The page-turning plot, dynamic cast of characters, and great artwork all come together in such a unique way! This manga series balances dark and hopeful, while also having intrigue, mystery, and so much more!

We Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia ARC Review

We Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay MejiaWe Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia (WSTDOF #1)

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: February 26, 2019

Pages: 384

Available Through The Book Depository: We Set The Dark On Fire

Summary: At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children. Both paths promise a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class.

Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her pedigree is a lie. She must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society.

And school couldn’t prepare her for the difficult choices she must make after graduation, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio.

Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or will she give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love? 

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: We Set The Dark On Fire is not a debut to miss! Mixing together Fantasy with Dystopia, Tehlor Kay Mejia delivers a wonderfully explored plot, commentary on a variety of themes relevant today, and a great cast of characters! We Set The Dark On Fire is a book you need on to add to your TBR if it you haven’t already!

Mejia’s debut is one I’d been looking forward to for 2 years, ever since I’d heard about the books announcement! It mean’t so much to me as a Latinx YA reader anticipating this intriguing fantasy debut that would also discuss many timely and complex issues from immigration, privilege, resistance, etc. and just knowing a new Latinx YA Fantasy was on the horizon!

We Set The Dark On Fire is set on the island nation of Medio. However, this fictional setting is filled with parallels to our world that Tehlor explores alongside deeply explored social commentary!

Daniela Vargas is getting ready to graduate from the Medio School For Girls and has studied for years to become a Primera, the first wife to a husband. In this world, Medio’s School prepares women to be one of two wives by graduation, the Primera or Seguanda.

What really set the stage for the entire book for me was the introduction which shared the story of the Salt & Sun gods and how their story built the society of Medio into what it is today and introduced us to the complex world.

Primeras and Seguandas complement each other and in turn, must work in harmony. I loved exploring all the parallels and contrasts to each role throughout the novel and how through Dani’s journey we see how this legend of the gods was taking a different turn in the present day of Medio.

Dani grew up on the outer islands of Medio (Polvo) where they aren’t treated well and knows all too well that the husband she’s with can change her & her family’s life for the better. Which is why she has to keep her past a secret to avoid suspicion and do what she can to prove herself in this world.

She quickly gets herself tangled up in becoming a spy for resistance group, La Voz, whose goal is to change the poor treatment of those on the outer islands. She quickly meets Sota, resistance group member! He’s clever and very mysterious! Sota pressures Dani into joining so she can find intel on her soon-to-be husband Mateo. With her position, he tells her that they can use the info she finds to change Medio for the better. But if she doesn’t, the secrets of her past may no longer be as well kept as she thought.

Dani was such a complex and wonderful main character I loved following throughout this book! Knowing what those in outer-Medio go through she feels obligated to help, but knowing she’s risking her entire life that she’s built to create for herself, she’s conflicted. The inner conflict she undergoes was so well developed and brought many fascinating questions to the surface when it comes to helping those who can’t help themselves, whether one person can really make change, whether we should feel responsible for others who can’t fight for themselves, etc.

We Set The Dark On Fire is a book that just leaves you inspired by the messages woven throughout the entire story.

When Dani finds herself in the house of Mateo Garcia, son to a prominent politician, she’s caught in the politics, intrigue, and mystery of the Garcias. So, as she presents herself as the prefect Primera, she’s also a spy with doubts as to who she can trust and whether she can even trust herself.

With Dani’s training as a Primera she uses her skills to keep up a variety of roles to continue finding out more secrets. What I loved was that although there are characters you shouldn’t find yourself loving, Tehlor really developed them all in a way where I could really understand them & their motivations. From Mateo, Jose, the Garcia’s, Sota, Alex, and many more!

Though as Dani continues to spy for La Voz, she begins to question whether she can keep up this charade when a classmate from her past gets involved. She’s trying to avoid the questioning glances from Mateo’s father’s Primera+Segunda, Mateo , and the mysterious Carmen.

Mateo is secretive, mysterious, cold, but he was definitely a very interesting character to learn about. Dani wants to prove her skills as a Primera, but Mateo prefers she stay on the side. As Dani defies him we see his true nature appear throughout the novel.

His privilege is something that isn’t ignored by Mejia throughout this book and it was deeply explored and commented on a lot in We Set The Dark On Fire.

What I found to be such an inspiring element to this novel was seeing how Dani, Carmen, & the other Primeras/Segundas although are seen to be the power behind their husbands, they essentially are the ones that have all the power.

Their strength lies among different paths, but WSTDOF showed that the strength we have is not so easily seen and that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Strength can be hidden in a variety of ways, but we must remember its always there.

Surprisingly, Dani’s Segunda is none other than Carmen Santos, her former friend when she first got the Medio’s School. Ever since they drifted apart, Carmen finds any opportunity she can to taunt Dani about where she grew up. But now that both are Mateo’s wives, we see their dynamic begin to change.

Dani and Carmen soon break their rivalry into an unlikely friendship and relationship! The steady development between them, seeing them both change, all while also acknowledging their past together was so well explored and I loved reading them form this relationship.

We Set The Dark On Fire brilliantly weaves together messages of resistance, discussion/commentary on immigration and privilege, all while binding it together with this underlying theme of hope and inspiration for change.

The story had so many twists, turns, intrigue, themes of family, and resistance that made this book such a fascinating fantasy/dystopia novel.

Also it just made me so happy to read a Latinx YA Fantasy! Being an aspiring YA Fantasy and Latinx writer, allowed me to really take in & appreciate all the elements I could relate to so much.

From the messages/theme of family, characters, food descriptions, atmosphere, etc. honestly made reading this book so incredibly special and I’m hoping other Latinx readers felt the same way too!

My only minor critique was that because the 3rd person writing was very character and theme-driven, I did find I wanted more from the writing to build the setting and world of Medio.

Overall though, Mejia’s debut is a fantastic YA debut that delivers so many important messages and commentary done in a way I’ve never read before!

We Set The Dark On Fire weaves together fantasy and dystopia in a brilliant way! This YA debut brilliantly explores complex themes and contemporary topics, is filled with intrigue, politics, and is a tale of resistance! We Set The Dark On Fire is filled with a great cast of characters, fantastic writing, twists/turns, and a story that will leave you wondering where Dani’s journey is headed next!

I’m also shouting out a fellow book blogger review 😍💞📚 I recommend checking out:

We Set The Dark On Fire Review from Adriana over at BoricuaReads

Adriana is such a wonderful book blogger who continuously boosts upcoming Latinx books! In her review I love how she delves deep into the themes and how they are explored through the characters and setting. This was also one of her most anticipated reads too, so you can definitely see all the enthusiasm and excitement throughout her review!

Overall I love how she expands on the important topics explored in this novel and much more! If you need any more convincing to read this lovely debut, go check out Adriana’s review of We Set The Dark On Fire!

Takane & Hana Vol. 1 by Yuki Shiwasu {Manga Review}

Takane and Hana Volume 1 by Yuki ShiwasuTakane & Hana Vol. 1 by Yuki Shiwasu (Takane & Hana #1)

Publisher: Viz Media

Release Date: February 6, 2018

Pages: 200

Available Through The Book Depository: Takane & Hana Volume 1

Summary: A strong-willed high school girl and a hot, young scion of a business empire can’t help trying to outwit each other every chance they get… But could these opposites be conning themselves out of the perfect match?!

After her older sister refuses to go to an arranged marriage meeting with Takane Saibara, the heir to a vast business fortune, high schooler Hana Nonomura agrees to be her stand-in to save face for the family. But what happens when Hana meets Takane is an unexpected pairing of utter opposites!

The meeting between Takane and Hana ends in an explosive manner, and Hana is convinced that she’ll never have to see that awful Takane again. But Takane actually seems interested in Hana! Exasperated by Takane’s immature attitude, yet amused and intrigued despite herself, Hana embarks on a hilarious journey with Takane that just might lead to love!

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Takane & Hana is an incredibly comedic manga series that follows high school student Hana Nonomura, who stands in for her sister as part of an arranged marriage to business heir to the Takaba Group, Takane Saibara and the comedic banter/ rivalry that develops between the two!

I originally learned about Takane & Hana through Goodreads as I was scrolling the new released manga and this one caught my eye! From the summary, it seemed like there’d be enemies to lovers and a lot of funny/comedic moments and I was not wrong!

If I was to sum up this manga in one word it would be: Entertaining!

Being on the verge of a reading slump isn’t fun, but this manga series was one I’m incredibly glad I picked up because its light, filled with humor, incredibly entertaining & absolutely hilarious!

Though I never know what to expect going into a new manga series, I’ve been incredibly lucky to have found yet another series that’s impressed me from page 1 and that I’m happy to say is a new favorite series!

With every page I was laughing at Takane & Hana’s non-stop enemies streak/rivalry they had going on and just seeing how these 2 dynamic main characters continuously interacted with each other!

The story starts with us learning that Hana’s older sister Yukari was originally going to be involved in the arranged marriage to Takane, but she had other plans (aka another date). So, in order to save her father’s position at the company, Hana decided to take her place!

When they first meet, things do not go as planned and we learn Takane is a bit of a jerk–& Hana is not putting up with it!

Takane, through his very brash personality, tells Hana he’s interested in her! Though they can’t really stand each other, sparks are definitely there.

Both Takane & Hana are characters with such strong & conflicting, but also similar personalities and that’s what makes their chemistry together so good!

Takane and Hana Vol. 1 chronicles their meeting, hangouts together as their “relationship” continues, among various other plot threads–mainly involving Hana & the people in her life, like her father & sister Yukari (briefly) and her best friends/school life!

What makes this series so funny is Hana & Takane obviously are trying to out-wit one another, avoid each other as much as possible, and have the upper-hand when it comes to their banter, but something keeps them coming back to each other!

I love how them being in different economic classes made for a lot of the comedic moments in this story and how in general, its a relevant and present discussion to their relationship.

As the story progresses we begin to see Takane isn’t exactly the heartless person he appears to be. It was great seeing the little moments throughout their hangouts (*like the bowling date) when Hana would notice Takane’s strides to make more of an effort to be a nicer person and be willing to try new things!

Takane & Hana made me realize just how much I love the “can’t stand one another, but secretly love each other” Trope! Every scene they have together, even if their just thinking about each other just showed how much chemistry they had & I loved seeing their interactions so much.

We also see that even though they despise each other, Shiwasu just brings such a comedic and interesting dynamic to the both of them where I never know how they’ll react to each other next!

All the supporting characters are all really well developed and bring even more humor & heart to this story! From Hana’s friends Hikaruko & Mizuki, her sister Yukari, Takane’s grandfather, & one of Hana’s classmates who seems to be like a more important character in future volumes!

The art is so expressive and detailed! It reminded me a lot of Monthly Girls-Nozaki with the expressive faces and detail to the characters! I also love how detailed the backgrounds were.

Though it is a contemporary, I found the setting and atmosphere to be very present within this volume and seeing how it explored Japan through Takane & Hana’s different backgrounds.

*I will admit that though this series is so funny & the chemistry between these characters is very good, there is a bit of an age gap between them!* (10 years) With Hana being 16 & Takane being 26–though truly it doesn’t read that way b/c Takane seems to act like somewhat of an immature guy & not his age at all. This was something I wasn’t expecting, however, the age difference is discussed at various points and is never romanticized. This element is why I’m honestly very conflicted with this review– now, I don’t condone/overlook it, but in a general sense if you can see past that to see the characters for who they are + are looking for a hilarious  manga–this is one I think would be enjoyable. The dynamic between the two also seems to walk more towards finding trust as friends? *

Regardless though, this was a hilarious manga & I can’t wait to see whats next with Takane & Hana’s interesting dynamic!

Takane & Hana Vol. 1 is a brilliantly character-driven, entertaining manga that will keep you laughing! The wonderfully developed characters, dynamic between the 2 leads, and immersive plot are just some of the many elements that keeps you turning the page! This is a romantic-comedy manga series worth checking out!

Dark Of The West by Joanna Hathaway Review

Dark Of The West by Joanna HathawayDark Of The West by Joanna Hathaway (Glass Alliance #1)

Publisher: Tor Teen

Release Date: February 5, 2019

Pages: 480

Available Through The Book Depository: Dark Of The West

Summary: Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Dark Of The West is a historical fantasy-esque tale, weaved together with WW-infused elements! This novel is filled with geopolitics, intrigue, and an incredibly complex cast of characters! Hathaway’s debut is a slow-building, but wholly immersive novel that will keep you thinking with each and every page!

You know those books that just have such a layered and complex world, that you can picture yourself hopping on a plane & heading to that fictional setting?

Dark Of The West was one of those books! The way Hathaway built the history, evolving politics, atmosphere, and beliefs of differing countries such as Etania, Savient, and the South, made the setting come to life on the page, all while allowing me to truly immerse myself in the complex world!

The 20th-Century style setting with planes, castles, electricity, emerging technology, we’re just some of the fascinating elements that also lent itself to this wholly unique setting.

Princess Aurelia and pilot/general’s son Athan are both eager to carve their own paths for themselves! But family feuds going back generations force them to try and uphold their parent’s values that they aren’t entirely sure they understand.

According to her bio & author interviews I’ve read, Hathaway adores history! Throughout Dark Of The West you can see where her inspiration builds and heightens the complex elements to her world.

Dark Of The West was a book I was waiting months for because the summary just hooked me and it sounded like my kind of book–star-crossed love, pilots, politics, etc.! I was bummed when this book was pushed from 2018 to 2019, but now that I’ve finally read this gem of a novel, I was left emotionally devastated and I’m not even sure how I can wait for book 2!

What I love about Dark Of The West so much was the characters–wow these characters! Athan, Aurelia, Cyar, Reni, Violet, even cunning and deceptive characters like the General, Arrin, & Havis–I found myself understanding all of the different layers to them and they truly came to life throughout this entire book!

Athan is eager to follow his own destiny away from the Academy, his ruthless father the General, and all the expectations he’s been born into! At the start of the novel, we see that he is continuously hiding his brilliance in order to trick his father and avoid getting tangled even further into the schemes and brewing war!

You can sense the tension and anxiety that Athan feels because he knows he’ll never be like his cold, older brothers Arrin & Kalt and doesn’t want to take part in his father’s plans to rule over more of their world. The cunning dynamic between Arrin & Athan was probably one of my favorite sibling dynamics throughout this book!

What Hathaway did so brilliantly is portraying these opposing mirrors to Athan and Aurelia as characters! They have a foil or mirror that in our minds–if led on some other path, could have easily become, but through Hathaway’s complex politics and layered sides to Athan + Aurelia, we see that there’s many different sides to the entire cast that we can only uncover through the each distinct POV as the novel develops.

First person lends itself to not only seeing all the characters from a different angle, but also the multi-layered world and politics that build throughout Dark Of The West! The writing is beautiful and poetic! Writing itself, in my opinion, is also an important element to world-building, especially through 1st person & Hathaway’s vivid and elegant writing style not only captured that heart, but also played a huge role in how I viewed the story!

Aurelia finds comfort in journeys through the forest, but also loves to paint! We learn that with the loss of her father, she continues to carry on the beauty of painting with her. I loved how this also contrasted with Athan’s love of sketching!

I loved Aurelia, she was such a brave and brilliant heroine who inspired me, while also reminded me of my own strength that often goes unseen & I adored that so much!

Aurelia and Athan find themselves crossing paths when the General hatches a plan to go to Etania & visit the queen, Aurelia’s mother, with a political meeting in mind alongside revenge against his long-time rival. However, in reality he knows politics are tough for the queen and wants to find a way to seize her throne, all while using his son Athan to keep him close and uncover more through the princess.

What surprised me was how Aurelia never really found out who he was, even when things get intense near the last 1/4 of the book! I’m scared for what’ll happen when she does find out who he really is & what it’ll mean for their dynamic going forward in future Glass Alliance books!

Family and friendship, alongside trust and loyalty were big themes present throughout Dark Of The West which I found were developed so incredibly well! There’s Athan & Cyar’s friendship–their dynamic was so beautiful to read about because there’s not that many books I can recall that have such a strong guy friendship or having it done in such an in-depth way like in this book!

We also can’t forget Violet & Aurelia’s friendship–which is cemented with the support they have for one another.

Family of course is also a very integral part to this story that you sense with every page! From Athan & Aurelia’s expectations, their older siblings, parents, and all the political scheming + underlying intrigue that goes on with them throughout the book hidden to both Athan & Aurelia!

There’s many secrets that are hidden between both families and I loved how Hathaway weaved them into the story and exploring why family and history play such huge roles in the main conflict of this novel! It was brilliantly cemented into the story.

The romance that develops between Aurelia and Athan is so beautiful, subtle, and yet heart-breaking all at the same time!! We know going in that their both on opposite sides of this war, but I couldn’t help but continue to root for them so much! (& constantly remembering about that prologue *both beautiful + haunting* didn’t help either 😅😭💔)

Another underlying element to this book that I found fascinating was how it explored this internal war between the Dakar’s & Isendare’s without there having actually been a war throughout the book-through the scheming & politics sparked by the death of Athan’s mother.

The politics are multi-layered and full expanded on throughout the novel, that builds its way into many different pieces of the story.

I wish I could put into words all the love I have for this book & my beloved crew of Aurelia, Cyar & Athan! They captured my heart from their first introductions ❤ I just–love each of them with all my heart and want them to be protected at all costs in book 2 😭💖

I suppose my only minor critique which did not take away from my complete adoration for this book, is that the pacing is a bit slow at times. This is very much a politically-driven novel with intrigue and court politics, so its very much a story to be experienced that you really absorb through Aurelia & Cyar, which is why it is at 4.5!

However, above all I absolutely loved this book and I cannot wait to see where Hathaway continues The Glass Alliance! Though, I’m not sure I’ll be entirely prepared! 😅🎉🎉

Dark Of The West is haunting, but beautifully crafted novel that will leave you captivated! The fascinating characters, immersive setting, brilliantly explored politics, and layered storytelling make Hathaway’s novel a must read! This debut is a historical-inspired fantasy that has so much depth and heart, leaving you eager for the sequel right away!