Franklin’s Flying Bookshop by Jen Campbell and Katie Harnett Review

Franklin's Flying BookshopFranklin’s Flying Bookshop by Jen Campbell & Katie Harnett (Illustrator)

Publisher: Thames And Hudson

Release Date: September 7, 2017

Pages: 32

Available Through The Book Depository: Franklin’s Flying Bookshop

Summary: Franklin the dragon loves stories and loves reading stories to people too, but everyone is too scared to even talk to him. One day, he meets a girl named Luna who, rather than being afraid, is fascinated to meet Franklin, having recently read all about dragons in one of her books. They instantly become friends and talk nonstop about what they’ve read: books about roller-skating, King Arthur, spiders, and how to do kung fu. Together they hatch a plan to share their love of books with others by opening a bookshop―a flying bookshop, that is―right on Franklin’s back!

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Franklin’s Flying Bookshop is a delightful picture book that explores the wonder of books, stories, and the love of reading–while the style of illustration brings a whimsical feel to the story!

🐉 + 📚 + 🎨 = Franklin’s Flying Bookshop

Franklin’s Flying Bookshop is a book I’ve been meaning to read ever since it released last year, I mean–dragons, books, & bookshops?–Sign me up!

Well, now that winter break has started, I also felt a short picture book would get me back into reading!

There’s no other way to describe this book other than adorable! (´▽`ʃƪ) The book follows Franklin who’s a dragon that loves to read: from books about word fights, adventures in the open sea, to music & baking.

He even has a bookcase as his front door!

With his love of reading, he’s always eager to go into the local village and speak to people around town about all the wonderful books, but they’re scared of him!

That’s until he meets Luna who loves to read just as much as he does. Soon their talking about all the books they like to read and come up with a plan to share that with as many people as possible!

They hatch a plan to create: a flying bookshop!

Both of them head into town to introduce it to the villagers so they won’t be scared of Franklin anymore!

I loved Katie Harnett‘s art!, because it brings a comfort and whimsy to the story. The style of colors also bring a lot to the story!

While reading Franklin’s Flying Bookshop I also found this underlying message about how powerful reading can be in allowing you to learn new things, connect with others, and offer a sense of escapism from the everyday!

My only issue (which has me caught between 4 & 4.5 stars) is that the writing at times would jump between regular prose and rhymes–so it made the flow of dialogue and storytelling feel a bit off.

Franklin’s Flying Bookshop is a delightful picture book with lovely illustrations that introduces you to a kind-hearted dragon who loves reading!

2019 Reading Goals! {Book Blog Discussion}

Book Blog Discussion BannerIts time for a bookish chat! Hey, 24hr.YABookBlog here (~˘▾˘)~ 💞✨📚

Finals are done–so today’s post is more of a “welcome-back” and even though its only been a week, in the book blogging world it felt like such a long time since I posted something! 😭💞💞

As 2018 comes to a close I’m realizing I have quite a few reading goals, but haven’t actually gotten them organized–so, I thought I’d share them today and hopefully hear some of your reading goals to get even more inspiration for my 2019 reading!!

With my January 2019 TBR almost set, I’ve been thinking a lot recently about all the book & reading-related goals I have set or hope to accomplish in the new year! 

If there’s any reading goals you have for 2019, share in the comments below, I’d love to know!! 😍📚📚🎉✨

So, here’s my list of some 2019 Reading Goals!

joyce-mccown-791673-unsplash books1.Goodreads Goal: 20 Books

So, for the last couple years I’ve set my Goodreads goal to 15 books! Now, I know I always read above that, but having a small goal made it feel less stressful for me personally.

But, in 2019 I really want to make an effort to read/review more books & slash my TBR pile, so for 2019 I hope the bump in my Goodreads goal (maybe it’ll be at 30?) will encourage me to read more!

2.Finish Series

There are quite a few series I know of that I have yet to start or finish: for some I’ve either haven’t started them yet, have read 1 book so far, or only have the final book left!

There are 4 series I have in mind that I want to get through and I hope I can complete them in 2019!

3.Backlist Books

This one is pretty obvious 😂📚✨ There are so many books I don’t manage to get through each year, so in 2019 I really want to get through more of my Backlist TBR! There are mainly a lot from this year that I really want to get to in 2019 (especially from my physical TBR)!

4.Read/Review more manga

I’ve read quite a few manga on my blog, but there’s so many series I’ve started already (like The Royal Tutor & Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun) that I really want to continue with because they are some of my all-time favorite series! I really want to support them/recommend them more on my blog because I feel they would be such great reads for fans of YA and deserve a lot more hype in general! 😍❤❤

Aside from manga, I also want to read more graphic novels & comics!!

5.Read more adult fiction

As the years have gone by I’ve noticed that while YA is one of my all-time genres that I will never stop reading, I see myself gravitating towards adult fiction too (mainly SFF & Romance).

YA will still be my genre of choice, but there’s also some great adult fiction books (especially in the SFF genre ✨📚) I hope to get to in 2019 and read/review on the blog!

6.Reading more Indie publisher books

There are so many fantastic books published year after year, but recently I’ve thought more about how I can & should do more to read from smaller publishers other than the Big 5!

This also ties back into my “Backlist” goal because there’s so many great books I’m looking forward to reading/catching-up on that aren’t from the bigger publishers!

And that’s my list of the Reading Goals I’ve set for 2019! I can’t wait for 2019 so I can accomplish as much of these as possible! (~˘▾˘)~💞📚✨

And keep an eye out in 2019 for a Bookish Goals {2019} post talking about blogging goals, more specific book-related goals, etc.!! Can’t wait to share it 😍💞✨📚🎉🎉

Realm Of Ruins by Hannah West ARC Review

Realm Of Ruins by Hannah WestRealm Of Ruins by Hannah West (The Nissera Chronicles #2)

Publisher: Holiday House Books

Release Date: December 4, 2018

Pages: 464

Available Through The Book Depository: Realm Of Ruins

Summary: Valory’s power is different . . . it’s dangerous, unruly, and destructive. But can she channel it to crush a cunning enemy and save the realm from chaos? 

Welcome to Nissera, land of three kingdoms and home to spectacular magic.

A century after her legendary ancestors overcame a bloodthirsty tyrant, seventeen-year-old Valory Braiosa attends a training academy for elicromancers, immortal beings with magical gifts. Yet Valory’s immense power seems impossible to tame, and she faces imprisonment by the Nisseran authorities. Then a forbidden resurrection spell awakens a long-dormant evil, and Valory may be the only one who can vanquish this terrifying villain. Together with a band of allies—including an old friend; a haughty princess; and a mysterious, handsome stranger—Valory must learn to harness her power and fight back.

*Requested an ARC from the publisher*

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Readers are back in land of Nissera in Realm Of Ruins, the spin-off/companion to West’s 2016 debut, Kingdom Of Ash And Briars!  Valory Braiosa is sent on a quest to not only clear her name, but take down a darkness that threatens to ruin her world! This YA Fantasy melds so much from action, magic, fairy tales, quests, dark powers, royalty, & so much more! If your also looking for wholly unique twists on the classic fairy tales, West’s books are the ones to check out!

*Before I get into my review–just want to say I’m so happy to be back posting on the blog! 😍💞✨📚🎉 Finals are coming up and that’s why this book took me a bit longer to finish than expected! But happy to be posting my first review (finally) in December!

Back in the early days of my blog, I fell in love with West’s debut, Kingdom Of Ash And Briars! So, of course I just had to get an ARC of it!

Realm Of Ruins takes place generations after KOAAB! To start, I loved that the story was plotted that way because throughout the novel we explore this idea of those who came before us, legacies, how history plays a role into our future, & so on!

Now the plot itself has a lot of different elements to it and weaves in a lot throughout this single book–so sorry if my review is all over the place!

Valory Braiosa, descendant of Bristal & Anthony from KOAAB is a royal, but not exactly an Elicromancer–unlike her other cousins and family members.

As a student of a magical academy, she’s joined by her best friend Knox, and cousins such as Melkior (who isn’t exactly nice to her) and Ander!

There’s a scene in which Val is in classes and we learn about the school, history and how its shaped the ways of magic in her time now and the way West makes it such a seamless, but integral part of the story was one of my favorite elements when it comes to the world building!

On a quick side-note, often times in YA fantasy books (when it comes to future books in series or spin-offs) there isn’t always much explanation or exploration from previous installments and how they really shape numerous aspects of a world from its politics, magic system, beliefs–and I felt West really made it clear how important that was to the world!

Especially reading about the academy in general, because in KOAAB Elicromancers are somewhat on their own and guide each other. But, seeing how the world has grown to meld elicromancy into the everyday and train new generations was so fascinating to read about!

But of all her family members, her cousin Ivria is practically her best friend and they are always honest with each other–or so, Valory thinks!

During Val’s birthday dinner, she finds Ivria having run off and head towards the Water through a magical portal.

The Water is what allows an Elicromancer to get their fully harness their abilities. It chooses them and with that, they get an Elicrin Stone which also symbolizes their power.

Ivria has the ability to sense danger and fears she will never fully grasp her powers. So, she heads to The Water alone to see for herself.

However, Ivria is set on getting to the Water & as Val jumps into save her, she realizes Ivria didn’t make it & the Water has disappeared!!

Now being seen as a murderer and forced to go to trial by the Conclave to the Realm Alliance. This requires a journey away from her kingdom and with those she though were on her side, now against her. Also, a neutralizer (by the name of Brandar) to keep her powers in check, doesn’t help either!

When Valory’s grandmother joins and mentions something about people in white cloaks & masks, they also learn of a mysterious (possibly looming threat) known as the Summoners!

As stops along the way allow Valory to visit her cousins (Gliselle, Perrenia, & Ambrosine) they convince her to talk to their brother Deovrian–there we learn of a mysterious tablet & how the Summoners may be involved?

When the tablet unleashes a dark force, Valory learns more about what the Water left behind (that now resides within her–some dark & dangerous power) and the journey she will have to undergo to clear her name.

I love how this story really takes on an anti-hero vibe through Val as we see the extent of her powers near the end!

Val goes through so much in this book where it looks like the world is stacked against her, but with her cousin Glisette, fellow princess friend Kadri, & mysterious Mercer who we learn time-traveled from generations in the past!

Now they team up to help Val on her journey to learn more about the mysterious force known as The Summoners which are spreading illness and death wherever they go!

We soon learn that Mercer may have the answers as he has the ability to see visions! This leads to even more being uncovered about the Summoners, Mercer’s past (like his brother Tilmorn) & how this all ties to a mysterious elicromancer known as the Moth King!

Similar to West’s debut, fairy tales are twisted in such unique ways that really bring even more magic to the world of Nissera! From The Little Mermaid (seen through Kadri’s boyfriend who’s a prince who loves sailing & becomes interested in finding a mermaid who saved him), even Beauty & Beast (when Devorian’s cost of unlocking the tablet turns him into a beast).

The fairy tales are uniquely woven, but also into the story and have such distinct details mentioned that really make them their own. For ex. there’s mention of Devorian keeping mirrors closed to not be in contact w/ his sisters, even a sea witch & mermaid who are reminiscent of The Little Mermaid)

The characters all have their own flaws and secrets that make them feel real and I love how their imperfections or fears really allowed me to see their growth by the end!

I love how this journey isn’t exactly linear! While it seems that way in the beginning, the way West plots her stories allows for the story to go in so many directions, yet all tie together as it progresses. From numerous royal families, fairy tale homages, dark magic, quests–West packs so much into this standalone tale!

Also what made the magic so interesting was seeing how Val, a person who wasn’t born with magic, inherits this magical ability from the Water which we learn has the power to destroy, but also create! The Water itself becomes a pretty major part in the magic system as the story progresses and I love how it was explored! This also allows for her to explore, throughout the book both before and after she touches the Water, the legacy her ancestors left behind and how she questions whether she’s even capable of such things that family members who came before her managed!

Also there was one particular thing that really surprised me and that just brought back all the memories from KOAAB! We meet a very interesting Elicromancer who has ties to Bristal and I loved how that story line tied into the major plot! The references and ties to West’s first book was just something I did not see coming in the way that it did-but I loved how it was explored!

Time-travel was explored so well in this novel and I loved how it tied into the main story.

The world itself is incredibly vast and you sense that through the journey Val takes and just the way West describes the little details of the kingdoms. However, there were a few moments where a lot of the locations did get a bit confusing & could have had differing explanations when it comes to their depth. But overall, you can tell West has built such a vast world!

Now on to some of things that did lower my rating! Personally, I found the pacing to be rather slow for me and it dragged quite a bit from the middle on-wards. There were also some plot points explored when some time passes & Val returns home, which I wish had a little more explanation (b/c while it does make sense with the story) I found for me personally it came a little out of nowhere and I was a little lost as to how all that happened in that amount of time!

There were also some side characters, one’s that take on a villain role & at times the villain himself, that I wish had some more development b/c they become so important later on–that I found there character at times just needed a little more!

Returning to the plot, as the story continues I loved how it becomes clear what the goal is (to destroy the Moth King), but the uncertainty as to if Val & her friends could do it, made it all the more interesting to figure out!

Another element which made this fantasy book so unique too, was how it concludes after the battle (which I won’t spoil). Just seeing how characters naturally go their separate ways and explaining all the work left to do after all that’s happened really left it on a note where your satisfied with the ending, but still know there’s much more to explore! ( Valory’s ending was really epic & kind of ambiguous, but I loved that).

Realm Of Ruins is a YA Fantasy that weaves in classic fairy tales, while also delivering a wholly unique story all its own! From journeys across magical lands, dark magic, royalty, & the importance of self and how you can shape your own destiny! West’s spin-off continues to build on her magical world of Nissera and leaves opportunity for future installments!

November 2018 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 4

Empress Of All Seasons by Emiko Jean1.Empress Of All Seasons by Emiko Jean 

ARC| Started November 2 + Finished November 8 | My Rating: ★★★★☆ | Empress Of All Seasons ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: Empress Of All Seasons is a wonderfully character-driven YA Fantasy that’s inspired by deeply woven Japanese Mythology! There’s intrigue, action, politics, adventure, and rising rebellion! Mari is part Yokai (those who have the ability to transform into monsters or other supernatural creatures) and we soon learn her mother has been training her all her life to prepare her for a competition in the royal palace where all female contestants must battle within the 4 seasonal rooms for the prince’s hand in marriage! Mari definitely had a bit of an anti-hero vibe which I loved so much! Told through 3 POV’s we follow Mari, her childhood friend Akira, & Prince Taro! The character-development and plot are explored in ways you don’t really expect and the world is incredibly immersive. Though the pacing was a bit uneven at times and the writing was rather direct & simplistic, above all Empress was a book that really subverted tropes and expectations as the story developed!

Empire Of Sand by Tasha Suri2.Empire Of Sand by Tasha Suri (The Books Of Ambha #1)

ARC |Started November 9 + Finished November 12 | My Rating:★★★★★ |Empire Of Sand ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: Empire Of Sand has easily become one of my favorite books of all-time and I HIGHLY recommend this utterly fantastic epic fantasy debut! Set in a world inspired by India’s Mughal Empire, we follow Mehr who’s the daughter of a governor who is 1/2 Ambhan & Amrithi (those descended from desert spirits). When her Amrithi powers put her in jeopardy, she must now embark on a journey and leave her family behind to a religious temple taken there by Mystics while, through complex circumstances, she becomes married to a fellow Amrithi (Amun). The two learn more about each other and the power they have when faced with important choices and a mysterious and important religious figure in the temple! One of my absolute favorite elements of Empire was the dynamics between Mehr & the other characters (especially Amun <3). The writing is lush, vibrant and allows you to connect with everything from the characters, world, complex themes, etc.! I can’t put into words just how phenomenal this book is! I loved everything about it, from the writing, story, deeply explored & complex themes of choice, love, family, and so much more! The richly detailed story is immersive, magical, & complex! Suri’s debut is not one to miss and I’m incredibly excited to see where the series is headed!

Fields Of Fire by Hannah West3.Fields Of Fire by Hannah West (The Nissera Chronicles #1.5)

Owned | Started + Finished November 16 |My Rating: ★★★★☆ | Fields Of Fire Full Review

Overall Thoughts: An immersive novella that brings reader’s back to the land of Nissera from West’s debut, Kingdom Of Ash And Briars! This short story runs parallel to KOAAB and follows a group of spies as they attempt to uncover the identity of an alchemist linked with a dangerous weapon that could turn the tides of war! Following Drell, Reed, Gannan, & Skye–they scope out a local inn and attempt to gather intel. What made this novella so much fun was how through West’s writing, you were easily immersed in the story and action. One of my favorite dynamics was Drell & Gannan as they go undercover as a couple at the inn! There’s a good amount of backstory for such a short novella. My only minor issues are that the world itself did take me a bit to fully re-connect with and there were minor/side characters I wish had more development. However, this novella above all is a tale that is filled with intrigue as it builds a little more into the Nissera Chronicles and left me absolutely excited to dive into Realm Of Ruins the companion/spin-off!

This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada4.This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada (This Mortal Coil #2)

Library | Started November 17 + Finished November 21 | My Rating: ★★★★☆ | This Cruel Design Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Suvada’s sequel delivers on even more depth and exploration in terms of Cat as a character and her past, the world, even the technology introduced in This Mortal Coil! As Cat is faced with the conflict of the past she knows vs. the past everyone else remembers of her, she is faced with loneliness and we learn much more about her life as Jun Bei! Cat & the crew are tasked with finding Lachlan and an antidote to a quickly mutating virus. There’s new characters (like Mato–who really surprised me) and a more centralized focus on the characters and city of Entropia which really allowed for a unique kind of depth! However, I did sadly take off a star with the fact that we already know the end-goal going into TMC, I found the pacing to be really slow and the introduction of a character later into the story, which I found to really take away from the centralized group already in the story! However, the plot was great and I loved the character-development and as with Suvada’s ending to This Mortal Coil, This Cruel Design leaves you wanting the next book right away!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Literary Travels feat. The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta

Pre-Order Book Swag, Using Libraries, & Why Libraries Matter To Me As A Book Blogger {Book Blog Discussion}

2018 Reads Giveaway List! for my current Giveaway on Twitter

~ For November 2018, overall I had a pretty solid reading month, but I was expecting to read a couple more books! 😭📚✨

Plans For December:

~ With this being the last month of 2018, I want to try & finish up some 2018 releases that I’ve kept on my TBR throughout this year and have really been looking forward to reading! 😍❤📚

~ Share a podcast review that has been sitting in my drafts for the past month 🎙✨😂 Its a really great podcast and I’m really looking forward to recommending it!

~ I want to try and beat my previous amount of books read in 2017 (which was 72)! Hopefully it’ll happen? I have 10+ books I want to finish before 2019, so I’m going to try & stick to it! 📚🍀✨

~ Finalize some 2019 posts, hopefully share some 2018 TBR Lists & maybe a yearly wrap-up? (I’m still thinking about it 😂✨📚📚)

This has been my November 2018 Wrap-Up! What books did you read in November? & What’s on your End-Of-The-Year TBR? 😍📚📚✨

This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada Review

This Cruel Design by Emily SuvadaThis Cruel Design by Emily Suvada (This Mortal Coil #2)

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: October 30, 2018

Pages: 394

Summary: The nightmare of the outbreak is finally over, but Cat’s fight has only just begun.

Exhausted, wounded, and reeling from revelations that have shaken her to her core, Cat is at a breaking point. Camped in the woods with Cole and Leoben, she’s working day and night, desperate to find a way to stop Lachlan’s plan to reprogram humanity. But she’s failing—Cat can’t even control her newly regrown panel, and try as she might to ignore them, she keeps seeing glitching visions from her past everywhere she turns.

When news arrives that the Hydra virus might not be as dead as they’d thought, the group is pushed into an uneasy alliance with Cartaxus to hunt down Lachlan and fix the vaccine. Their search takes them to Entropia, a city of genehackers hidden deep in the desert that could also hold the answers about Cat’s past that she’s been searching for.

But when confronted with lies and betrayals, Cat is forced to question everything she knows and everyone she trusts. And while Lachlan is always two steps ahead, the biggest threat to Cat may be the secrets buried in her own mind.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: This Cruel Design is a sequel that will keep you guessing till the very end! Suvada’s latest book delivers even more twists, new characters, intrigue, action, and a complex plot that changes everything you thought you knew about This Mortal Coil!

Okay–so I loved This Mortal Coil when I read it last year, was on the edge of my seat till the very last page and I wasn’t entirely sure how I’d even manage to wait for This Cruel Design!

So, its safe to say I went into this book with extremely high expectations.

Sequels aren’t easy, but the way Suvada builds on the world and technology all while making the plot go in such unexpected directions is what really surprised me!

It goes into even much more depth and exploration in such a more centralized way (focusing more on Cat) than in This Mortal Coil which made it incredibly unique!

Cat and the crew find themselves in Cartaxus’s grasp and still have hope they can find a solution to the virus that keeps on mutating faster than they expected. So, they find a lead that sends them on a journey to a city of genehackers in the Nevada desert!

They are given 3 days to seek out Regina, the leader of Entropia (city of genehackers) and continue their search for Lachlan and find an antidote!

Cat is coming to terms with the secrets she uncovered in This Mortal Coil, but isn’t losing hope that humanity can still be saved!

There’s new characters and even more development on the fascinating technology explored through the panels and what they are capable of!

The panels from what we know in This Mortal Coil, can be home to a variety of apps and code that can manipulate a person’s appearance and abilities! However, what Suvada does in This Cruel Design is that that she seamlessly introduces numerous hidden facets to these panels that leave us questioning this idea of power and the capabilities of what people can do with them, but also how it can also link people together!

Suvada leaves you thinking about the ramifications of this advanced technology, even with all the benefits it has and I loved how it showed both the dark and light side to the tech she introduced in This Mortal Coil!

If your looking for even more exploration to the intriguing technology–this sequel delivers on that and so much more!

What also makes This Cruel Design such a fascinating sequel is how it explores so many different sides to the characters and world in ways you don’t really expect.

As memories begin to resurface, Cat is coming to terms with a past she barley knows, but that’s inevitably forcing her to question all her choices that’s led her there and what it means for her and those who knew her as Jun Bei.

That conflict was explored through different moments and characters throughout the story, really builds a past we can fully see and realize as This Cruel Design develops.

Which leads me another one of my favorite parts of this book–Mato (aka Somata Watson)! He’s one of Cartaxus’s soldiers who joins the team because he actually used to work in Entropia and knew Cat as Jun Bei!

With his knowledge of Entropia, he’d be able to try & get them a meeting with Regina!

He was such a fascinating character–the development between him & Cat was one of my favorites throughout this book! He’s mysterious, witty, but also kind as he also tries to help Cat better understand her past and what he can do to help her now!

Overall, I really loved Mato, he’s definitely one of my new favorite characters in this series and I won’t spoil anything, but his development throughout the book really surprised me and I’m so interested to see where his story is headed in book 3!

We see him as a friend Cat can really rely on as she’s figuring out the glitches in her tech and as she begins to feel this sense of loneliness as she soon sees that her past as Jun Bei now mostly gone, she can’t really connect with the people that once saw her as a close friend. So I loved seeing how Cat knew she wasn’t entirely alone as she spends her time in Entropia!

There’s also even more development given to basically the entire main cast in ways I really did not see coming and I loved how their depth goes just beyond what’s necessary to the plot and they just felt so real!

The intrigue of this novel is present as Cat meets Regina, learns more about Entropia, her panel tech, and the mutating virus. Overall, there’s this complex web that develops and it just builds till the very end!

Speaking of Regina, I don’t want to spoil too much, but as she takes Cat under her wing we learn more about her and the connection she has with Cartaxus and even some of the main characters!

Even though I adored Cat & Cole + their dynamic in This Mortal Coil, Suvada really leaves the reader thinking of where their relationship is headed when secrets are uncovered and Cat finds herself feeling unsure of being able to trust him!

This leads to a very interesting dynamics that Cat develops throughout the book, not only with Cole, but the other main characters and I really loved that.

Onto the world-building! Where with This Mortal Coil, I felt the world could have used just a little more development, this sequel delivers even more than I was expecting! Not only is there more expansion to the dynamics of this technology in another state, but also the government as a whole and the different view we have of it now that we know Cat has a mission to complete while being sided alongside (but also not?) with Cartaxus!

There’s so much intrigue as Cat is learning more about her past and people who knew her as Jun Bei–so, we are left filling in the gaps alongside with Cat as to what happened between those 6 months of her as Jun Bei and when her life as Cat began!

As I mentioned above, this leads to very interesting dynamics that really build between Cat throughout the book that really build into Cat as a character and the loneliness/grief she feels for not remembering and wanting to find that connection with those that knew her!

The intrigue allows for this really unique and more personal atmosphere to develop as we read from Cat’s 1st person POV! Its more character-driven and especially driven by Cat’s struggles with all that she knows now and still has yet to learn as she uncovers more of her past!

While my rating in no way takes away from my absolute enjoyment of this book and how much a fun read it was, I did want to get into and discuss why I rated This Cruel Design lower than Book 1 (;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`)(;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`)!

With the fact that This Mortal Coil its an entirely new world, we don’t really know what to expect and because of that the pacing is really quick. Sadly for me personally, because we know the end goal–the crew finding Lachlan and looking for a way to eradicate a mutating virus before the end of their deadline set to them by Cartaxus–it felt like a lot of the story itself was already laid out, so I was just hoping for the pacing to be much more gripping, even though I truly did love the story!!

So hopefully what I’m saying makes sense??–But basically because we have a goal and know all the things we do after first book and through the first few chapters of This Cruel Design, it made this novel feel much more different in terms of pacing, which I wasn’t really expecting.

There’s also one character (which I don’t want to spoil) who is present later in the book and while it was great to see this character, I found that they took away from the route the book was already taking because they didn’t get too much development & came in somewhat late into the story!

Aside from what I said above however, I truly did have fun reading this book and those last few chapters–just wow!! I’m still in shock and cannot wait for book 3!

This Cruel Design is a fantastic sequel! Suvada delivers on a page-turning and intriguing story! Weaving in continuous development to the world, technology, and cast of characters, even more than in This Mortal Coil, this sequel leaves you with so many answers & even more questions, wondering when Book 3 will arrive!

Fields Of Fire by Hannah West Review

Fields Of Fire by Hannah WestFields Of Fire by Hannah West (The Nissera Chronicles #1.5)

Publisher: Holiday House Books

Release Date: September 18, 2018

Pages: 32

Summary: In the war to save the magical realm of Nissera, every battle counts—including those fought on the smallest fronts.

Across the land, the powerful sorceresses Bristal and Tamarice are marshalling their armies, readying for a climactic battle to decide the fate of their world. But in a hay-filled barn far off in the countryside, a small group of spies led by a courageous young warrior named Drell is about to launch an offensive in order to root out the identity of a shadowy alchemist. If Drell’s team is successful, one of Tamarice’s most dangerous accomplices will be destroyed. If they fail, the sorceress will come into possession of a weapon that could turn the tide of the war against them. Drell knows everything must play out perfectly for their mission to be successful, but even she cannot fathom the depths of the alchemist’s cruelty—or the sacrifices her own spies are willing to make to stop him…

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Readers return to the land of Nissera in West’s novella that runs parallel to the events in Kingdom Of Ash And Briars! Following a group of spies, they attempt to uncover the identity of alchemist and his plan for a dangerous weapon, which could turn the tide of war in their favor! This short, but character-driven novella easily immerses readers looking forward to more from The Nissera Chronicles!

I was really looking forward to this short story because its been practically 2 years since I read West’s debut, Kingdom Of Ash And Briars! So, I was really looking forward to diving back into the magical world of Nissera before starting my ARC of the companion/sequel: Realm Of Ruins!

This short story follows Drell, who is a spy helping the main character from KOAAB, Bristal, to turn the tides of a looming war in which the villain is attempting to take over the country (who I won’t spoil if you haven’t read Kingdom yet!).

There’s Drell, Reed, Gannan, & Skye! These 4 are close friends and are working together as spies to find as much intel as they can to shift the tide of an upcoming war!

It turns out there’s an alchemist whose used dark magic from in far island kingdom of Galgeth’s Caverns to retrieve black granules which he’s been experimenting with to create what’s called: Shadowfire.

This novella essentially follows the team scoping out a local inn where Skye has been doing recon. for a while & they are convinced they’ll be to find all the information they can on the Alchemist, Cecil and his work, to destroy it and prevent this dark force from potentially wiping out cities!

This short story is so immersive and even if you aren’t familiar with the world, West makes it so incredibly easy to follow and allow you to feel like your a part of this mission with Drell & her crew!

For an incredibly short novella, the characters are all really well-developed and you really understand them through such few pages!

One of my favorite dynamics was Drell & Gannan as they go undercover as a couple at the inn to keep an eye on Skye as she tries to get more intel! Though its very brief, I liked that there was backstories on each of these characters!

I loved the friendship between Drell & Skye! Its also hinted that Gannan & Skye may like each other, so it was interesting seeing their dynamic become somewhat of a conflict as Drell tries to keep Gannan focused on the mission.

There’s also a few plot twists I really didn’t see coming and because this novel focuses on an upcoming war, there is a good amount of tension and stakes throughout the story!

There’s intrigue, mystery, & a lot of action! 

I also really loved the quick references to Kingdom Of Ash And Briars, Bristal and what she’s up to which runs parallel to this novella!

My only issue that had me drop a star, was that I honestly forgot a lot about the world of KOAAB than I thought, so it did take me a bit to really connect with the characters mostly.

And from what I read up before getting into this novella, is that Drell is originally from KOAAB, but again its just been so long that I forgot.

There was also a couple of really minor/side characters that I wish had a little more development.

However, West’s writing style and use of 1st person POV really brings you into the story right away which I really loved!

Similar to West’s debut, she builds such an immersive atmosphere which pulls you right into the story!

This novella brought me back into a fun and fascinating fantasy world I’ve missed a lot & has me so excited to start Realm Of Ruins!

Fields Of Fire is a short story filled with intrigue and builds a little more into the fascinating world of Kingdom Of Ash And Briars! The Nissera Chronicles continue in this tale that highlights another side of a looming battle that was introduced in Kingdom Of Ash And Briars!

Empire Of Sand by Tasha Suri ARC Review

Empire Of Sand by Tasha SuriEmpire Of Sand by Tasha Suri (The Books Of Ambha #1)

Publisher: Orbit Books

Release Date: November 13, 2018

Pages: 496

Available Through The Book Depository: Empire Of Sand

Summary: A nobleman’s daughter with magic in her blood. An empire built on the dreams of enslaved gods. Empire of Sand is Tasha Suri’s captivating, Mughal India-inspired debut fantasy.

The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited.

When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist their cruel agenda.

Should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance…

*Requested an ARC from the publisher*

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: Empire Of Sand is an epic fantasy tale with its world rooted and inspired by India’s Mughal Empire! This atmospheric debut pulls you in with its lush and wondrous writing as we learn about Mehr and her abilities that catch the attention of Mystics! Suri’s debut is filled to the brim with politics, intrigue, mystery, phenomenal world-building, themes of hope, love, sleeping gods, and a richly plotted tale that will captivate you! Empire Of Sand is a stellar debut that is a must read!

You know when you’ve been really looking forward to a book, the expectations are sky high, & your left wondering how in the world it managed to leave you ruined, while also filling you with hope and shock that you have to wait for the next one?– That’s how Empire Of Sand left me, as I turned that last page and closed the book on Mehr’s journey, which I was not ready to leave just yet!

Set in the land of Ambhan, inspired by the Mughal Empire, we follow Mehr who is the daughter of a governor and lives a peaceful life with her father, younger sister Arwa, stepmother Maryam, & servants/nurses who’ve looked after her since she was little.

Within the dark, but beautifully crafted world that Suri has presented, we learn Mehr is not fully Ambhan, but also Amrithi, nomads who descended from desert spirits and have magic within their blood.

Being half Amrithi, she knows of the fear and scorn that Ambhan’s have for her people. However, regardless of what people say or think, she stays true to her Amrithi heritage by practicing Rites, or dances that symbolize a number of events or causes and Sigils, hand signs that can allow her to communicate with the daiva .

Amrithi’s are the only ones who can ward off and even connect with the daiva, desert spirits crafted of darkness that take on many forms.

Suri starts this book off in such a fantastic way! (& Yes, that’s also including Mehr taking out a dagger in from under her pillow within the first page/sentences✨🗡)

It turns out Arwa, Mehr’s 9-year old sister, has just seen a daiva and was frightened. From within those first few pages, we get so much lore to the daiva that not only are they desert spirits, but they can also take many forms and respond to Sigils, & that the blood of Amrithi is the only thing that can keep them at bay.

We also get so much inner politics between Mehr & the household, through so many complex relationships. To start, Mehr wants to talk to Arwa about their Amrithi heritage, but their stepmother Maryam, won’t allow it and despises Mehr because of her background, all while Maryam wants to ensure Arwa is never connected that part of her heritage.

Mehr and her dynamic with her father is incredibly complex. She loves him and he does everything in his power to keep her safe, but she is still hurting due to the fact that he didn’t stop her mother from leaving and has convinced Mehr not to talk about her Amrithi heritage with her sister.

The love Mehr has for Arwa is so incredibly strong and heart-breaking because she wants Arwa to understand the Amrithi heritage she hardly has any knowledge of, but for fear of Maryam further creating a rift between them, she knows she can’t.

Then there’s Lalita, a long-time family friend who knew Mehr’s mother & is also Amrithi! She’s Mehr’s motherly figure and has taught her all that she can about the Rites, Sigils, & daiva. However, when Lalita announces that she may have to leave their city of Jah Irinah.

As it turns out, Lalita fears some Amrithi are no longer safe, herself included. Though, she ensures Mehr that her Ambhan 1/2 & her father Suren’s position as governor will keep her well protected.

Mehr is such a brave, clever, and strongly-willed protagonist who does everything in her power to protect those she loves, regardless of the consequences. However, though she’s an incredibly compassionate and fiercely dedicated heroine, she also isn’t afraid to outwit people if it means those she cares about are safe!

When this energy/power descended from the gods, Dreamfire looms closer to her city, she goes after Lalita to make sure she’s alright and preform the Rite to keep them from taking over the city.

However, this draws to the attention of important religious figures in the Empire and puts herself and possibly even her entire family, at risk.

With Mehr’s safety now in jeopardy, her father tells her she has to leave Jah Irinah with her sister and stepmother and find a husband. She chooses to stay and from that decision, the Mystics find her and strike up a bargain with her father.

My heart broke at Arwa having to leave Mehr 😭 But before she has to leave, Mehr gives Arwa her dagger, while reminding her it means they’ll see each other again soon.

With the Mystics having leverage over the knowledge of Mehr and her Amrithi abilites, Kalini (the 2nd in command) comes with another of their group, Amun, for Mehr to marry and return to The Maha Temple.

Not many options are left and while Mehr truly wishes things could be different, she sticks with her choice and chooses to be with Amun.

While there were so many amazing characters in Empire Of Sand, aside from Mehr, Amun was another one of my all-time favorite characters (I loved him so much!! ❤💕)

Their first meeting was them staring into each others eyes, with Mehr asking him questions!! (That whole scene was just so beautifully written). If your looking for a utterly beautiful, but also realistic & at times heartbreaking romance in fantasy–Empire Of Sand is for you!! You will love Mehr & Amun– they were such an amazing couple/duo and I heart was with them with every page, rooting for them and seeing them grow and find strength with each other!

He’s a character who’s vows have bound him and he’s come to accept that freedom just isn’t an option. However, throughout the entire book as Mehr learns more about him, we know from her internal POV she understands his hurt and wants more than anything–to help him gain a shot at freedom!

I loved how devoted they are to one another, even though we learn through Mehr’s Amrithi heritage, that marriage means something incredibly special and was a choice taken away from her, she understands that if she has any chance at ensuring her family & the Amrithi’s safety, its a choice that carries so much weight!

Mehr is also confronting quite a number of internal battles, from this rift between these 2 cultures that are a part of her identity, to the hope and fear she buries within herself as she’s brought into a dangerous game of magic and intrigue within the Maha’s temple.

Amun has this shell around himself and underneath has really just given up because of all that he’s lost and the judgement he undergoes as the only Amrithi within the Mystics (My heart broke for him 💔😭). But with Mehr, there is hope and he finds himself believing again and the bond that’s forged between them is so powerful, even if they don’t see it right away!

With Mehr now on a trek with Amun and the other Mystics to the Maha (the powerful religious, & immortal figure/spiritual leader of the Empire who’s also the Emperor’s right-hand man) and his temple, we find ourselves in this place with magic, secrets, intrigue, & politics.

He’s an incredibly powerful figure who the Mystics see as a hero and savior, but we see there’s these mysterious/dark sides to him as he interacts with the cast of characters, Mehr included! As we learn more about his plan and why he had Mehr brought to his temple, the more that gets explored to the world, its magic, & the other Mystics + especially Amun!

Empire Of Sand is one of those books that continuously builds on every aspect of its story, while finding a perfect balance with each of those elements.

The characters (even the one’s you despise) are built with so much depth and have their own flaws and weaknesses that build with their development in the story. For example, Mehr’s friends work in the temple (some are Mystics & others are servants/cooks): Such as Hema (Kalini’s sister), Ami, Rena, & Anni. Also other Mystics she meets on her journey to the temple: Bahren, Abhiman, & Edhir!

The magic system is incredibly complex all while showing such a stark beauty and darkness to it in a way I loved exploring! From the many Rites and their symbolism for a variety of things (like an entire cycle of rites just for the passing hours), to the way daiva take on forms, and the ancient magic The Maha uses to keep control of Mehr, Amun and his Mystics throughout the book!

The setting and magic build in such a way where they are brilliantly crafted within the characters themselves. Its also explored to a point where not only do you learn more about Ambhan, but its through the subtle details that your shown even more facets to not only the immersive world, but also its stunning cast of characters!

Suri’s writing is utterly phenomenal, brilliantly crafted, while allowing her plot to unfold in such a layered and complex way! Every paragraph, sentence, & word matters. Through a lush and vibrant descriptions, you feel the beauty and grittiness of the desert sand, Mehr’s hope, fear, & valiant spirit, Amun’s deep connection with her, and the dark, wondrous, & beautiful magic explored of the Ambhan Empire.

There’s also such complex and important themes explored throughout the entirety of Empire Of Sand, like the intricacy of choice, love, family, faith, and Suri goes even deeper to explore the deeper truths within each of these, which I have never seen developed in such a way until this glorious book!

Through mainly Mehr’s 3rd person POV, she not only comes to life from the first page, but every single character, no matter how little page time they had, become so real. I could picture each of them and connect with them, to where I could decipher so much about them from just a sentence or two!

What also brought even more complexity to this already fantastical story, was the inclusion after a chunk of chapters, a new POV! They were introduced at such perfect moments where you could easily shift gears and learn more about the Amrithi and vastness of the Ambhan Empire!

Empire Of Sand had me smiling, crying–there were just so many emotions! You know those books that just utterly captivate you and you can’t exactly put into words just how amazing the story & reading experience is? That was definitely Suri’s fantastic debut!

Even as a book blogger, I find it hard at times to pitch & recommend my favorite books, but if your reading this review and have yet to pick up this amazing book or add it to your TBR–do it, so you can immerse yourself into this amazing world & follow even more amazing characters like Mehr & Amun!

Overall, I am beyond excited to see where Suri’s world of the Ambhan Empire is explored in her next book!

Empire Of Sand is an epic fantasy debut you don’t want to miss! With an immersive, magical, & complex world, this novel will pull you in as it explores the power of choice and love, alongside such important themes of family, identity, & so much more! The richly detailed plot is filled with so much history, intrigue, mystery, politics, and phenomenal characters, that are rooted in an utterly fascinating and intriguing world inspired by the Mughal Empire!

Pre-Order Book Swag, Using Libraries, & Why Libraries Matter To Me As A Book Blogger {Book Blogger Discussion}

Book Blog Discussion BannerIts time for a bookish chat! Hey, 24hr.YABookBlog here (~˘▾˘)~💞✨📚 Today I wanted to talk about libraries & pre-order swag!

In this discussion, because I’m from the US, I’ll be focusing mainly on the U.S. in regards to libraries & book swag!

I’d been scrolling through twitter a few weeks ago and saw upcoming pre-order campaigns for Tara Sim’s Firestarter and Joan He’s Descendant Of The Crane!

Right away I noticed that for their campaigns, they’d be accepting library requests as part of their preorders, that made me so happy.

Thank you! Thank you!! 📚📚✨

We’re still given the opportunity to support anticipated books, even if we’re not able to purchase before release!

+I also want to shout-out Emily Suvada for her amazing thread during the release for This Cruel Design about libraries, supporting her book by reading it from the library & understanding that readers can’t always order right away!

joyce-mccown-791673-unsplash booksI feel like the push for library pre-orders should be encouraged more from publishers, because regardless, readers are still ordering in advance to support a book or author. It shouldn’t matter how a reader chooses to pre-order, I’m positive readers (especially teens) want to feel included in this!

I do know that Penguin Teen launches pre-order campaigns this way too, where people can send in a postcard w/ their addresses and still get swag without having pre-ordered the book! I do hope other publishers (especially more of the Big 5) take note and strive to do this because that makes the opportunity available to readers to get some cool swag, even if they aren’t ordering right away!

Overall, my point is there can be so much more support for libraries & library readers from publishers and that’s something I feel we should take note of!

I’ve been reading YA since about 2012 & in the beginning, the way I was able to keep up with these new releases and expand on my reading, was by checking all of these out through none other than–libraries!

Sure I bought a few books now & again, but a good 90% of the books I was reading, came from my local library!

The same applies to me today as a book blogger, while I am buying a few more books than before, I am constantly utilizing my library by requesting anticipated upcoming releases! (Starting this year, I’ve even added how I read each book in my wrap-ups, whether its from the library, owned, or an ARC).

I would have never had the opportunity to read so many new and amazing authors I now love, had it not been for being able borrowing and checking-out their books from the library!

As a university student, reader & especially a blogger, I wouldn’t be where I am without my local library and now I’m going to discuss a little more on ways you can utilize your library more & save money if you still want to support your most anticipated books!

Unsplash_Books_Roman-Kraft1. Talk to your librarians: They are always there to help and if you notice there’s a book you really want to read that’s not on the catalog, tell them! I talk with my local librarians weekly and if there’s a new release I haven’t seen on our inter-loan system they’ve told me they’re more than happy to talk to their supervisor + are always interested in new books I’ve recommended them.

2.Checking-out books: I still do this–but even if I’ve read and reviewed an ARC of a book, I still check it out from my local library to show my support!

The more a book is in demand at your library, the more copies they’ll purchase for readers (not just physical copies but e-books too), which can definitely support the author!

As I was looking more into libraries & how they support authors, I also came across a couple quotes and articles that I found to be super interesting reads:

“…if you are able to put a hold request on a book before it’s available, that might help libraries make a decision of whether or not to purchase more than a single copy. Books which are showing a lot of activity, like multiple holds on a single copy, suggest that the popularity and interest is there and the library should consider purchasing another copy or two to fulfill the interest.”–Book Riot, How To Support A Book

How Do Authors Make Money From Library Books

Now I’m sure there’s more ways your favorite authors/books can be supported by libraries, but those are just a couple I could think of regarding this specific topic! Feel free to share more in the comments ✨📚

In regards to pre-orders & libraries like I’ve discussed here, Vicky from Vicky Who Reads also touched on this a bit in her “How YA is Isolating Teens Discussion, that teens aren’t usually the one’s pre-ordering, because they are more often than not, getting it from the library! Though I’m not a teen, I agree 100% because that’s exactly what I’m still doing!

I can’t always afford to buy these new books right away, but that’s what makes libraries so awesome, I’m saving money & still supporting my favorite authors & new upcoming books!

Now I also asked on Twitter why others think libraries are important to them as readers & here were some responses:

 

 

 

So above all I just wanted to share this post on why libraries matter so much to me as a book blogger, reader, & supporter of authors!

And why library pre-order incentives are such an important & amazing way for readers to show their support!

I really hope you enjoyed this post & I would love your feedback! 😍✨📚

Also with this discussion of libraries & authors, I’ve compiled a list of YA authors who have books releasing, either late 2018 or coming up throughout 2019 and announced they are accepting library pre-orders in their campaigns (Will add more as they become available +be aware some end early before release day):

The Disasters by M.K. England (Releases December 18, 2018)

Even If I Fall by Abigail Johnson (Releases January 8, 2019)

Firestarter by Tara Sim (Releases January 15, 2018)

One Year Of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon (January 15, 2019)

The Love & Lies Of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan (Releases January 29, 2019)

All The Walls Of Belfast by Sarah Carlson (Releases March 12, 2019) (Pre-Orders not announced yet)

Descendant Of The Crane by Joan He (Releases April 2, 2019) (Library request pre-order form not yet available)

White Rose by Kip Wilson (Releases April 2, 2018) (Pre-Orders not announced yet)

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen (Releases July 30, 2019) (Pre-Orders not announced yet)

Do you think more authors/publishers should include library requests in their pre-order campaigns? 📚📚🎉✨

As a book blogger, do you utilize your library to read and review for your blog? 💻📚✨

Anything you’d like to add to the discussion? 🎉📚💕✨😍

Empress Of All Seasons by Emiko Jean ARC Review

Empress Of All Seasons by Emiko JeanEmpress Of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers

Release Date: November 6, 2018

Pages: 384

Summary: Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy.

Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren’t hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast.

Torn between duty and love, loyalty and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness, the choices of Mari, Taro, and Akira will decide the fate of Honoku.

*Received ARC through Yallwest*

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Empress Of All Seasons is a character-driven YA Fantasy inspired by rich, deeply woven Japanese mythology, great cast of characters, a plot filled with intrigue, politics, action, & adventure!

Empress was a book that had such a unique premise and what really made it shine, was the characters and their development!

Set in the country of Honoku, there’s strict rules against yokai, or those who have the ability to transform in to monsters or other supernatural creatures. They are treated as a lesser class and for those that are caught, are enslaved and forced to wear an iron collar that subdues them and their powers. More importantly, if any are found anywhere near the palace, they are either tortured or killed.

Mari is a Yokai. She lives in the all-female village of Tsuma, hidden away in the mountains of Honoku. She has been trained all her life by her strict mother, who along with all the other women in the village, are Animal Wives!

Animal Wives are women who use their Yoaki abilities to trick men into marrying them & take their fortunes.

Because Mari is assumed to never have the capability of becoming an Animal Wife, her mother has trained her in combat to ready herself for the competition that takes place in the Imperial City, mainly the Palace Of Illusions where all female contestants must battle within the 4 seasonal rooms for the prince’s hand in marriage!

Though she has never felt quite at home in her village, she does have one friend who she cares for deeply, Hissa! She is reminded of what it could mean for her and the yokai, but more importantly herself if she wins the title of empress.

Now a part of the competition, she must lie and deceive the court, pretend she is human and win the competition.

Within Mari’s village, we learn of a boy named Akira, who’s mother was a ghost yokai and father was human, he is known as the Son Of Nightmares. He has the ability to disappear and is one Mari’s other best friend!

They both care for each other, but its clear Akira really loves her!

When he learns she’s left for the competition, he takes charge to ensure she’s safe and tries to convince her to run away with him. He gets told to find a Weapons Master, which quickly leads him towards a new path and fate when trying to look after Mari!

Little does he know, he gets caught up in a rebellion, where there is a secret Yokai resistance, ready to destroy the system that keeps them enslaved. The rebellion is led by Hanako, aka Snow Girl, a yokai who has gathered a rebel army in secret + hiding to free the yokai!

Prince Taro, doesn’t want anything to do with the upcoming competition and spends his days in his workshop, creating and inventing. One of his favorite inventions is a mechanical bird! However, when Mari finds herself hiding behind a palace wall, she without knowing, ends up meeting prince Taro.

He becomes intrigued by her and the two have this almost unsaid crush on each other. What I loved about Jean’s development to the “romance” is that its never really a central aspect to the story. Mari is focused more on herself and where her goals will lead her & those she loves throughout the competition. Though its clear that Taro & Mari are interested in each other.

Akira becomes part of the rebellion to bring about a better world for Yokai, while with Prince Taro we are shown that he is not okay with how the yokai are treated (which started with his father, the Emperor), but still wants nothing to do with the throne.

I loved how these characters are so different than when the book begins and seeing them develop in such unique ways really kept me invested!

Empress is presented as a single and linear story focusing on a competition within seasonal rooms, but its so much more than just that! The summary really leaves out the different sides to this story, but it works so well, because you don’t really expect it!

Now I don’t want to spoil the end, but it really weaves together all these different plot threads and leaves on such an unexpected, but overall really satisfying note!

This novel is told through 3 POVs: we have Mari, Akira, & prince Taro! I loved how the differing POVs were not only distinct, but explore the world of Honako and the incredibly layered story.

I loved all 3 povs equally! Each character goes through so much development and undergo such unexpected journeys throughout the book.

There were also so many great side characters, like Asami who is alongside Mari w/ the other competitors to win title of Empress. She was so incredibly developed and I loved the interesting friendship they form when they both agree to be allies in the competition.

Asami is a character who is a bit of an enigma, but I love how there’s so much more to her reasoning for entering the competition + overall just her personality shines so much in this book. She was definitely one of my favorites!

Also aside from this novel being #ownvoices for Japanese rep./culture, was also the hint to Hanako being a lesbian (& that she loved Asami). 

Now as to why I’m rating this 4 stars, is due to the uneven pacing, a couple elements to the writing-style, & development in regards to the seasonal rooms!

  *TBH though, I find the rating on this to be super difficult for me to state because on an enjoyment scale its a 4.5, but if I’m looking at it overall, 4 seems to make the most sense? Ratings can be super difficult for me! 😂📚🌟

As the story progresses, the pacing becomes a bit slow especially throughout the middle and nearing the end. Yet, its also fast-paced near the end. So, above all the pacing fluctuated all throughout.

I did read an ARC so, this may have changed a bit, but the writing-style at points was rather direct and simplistic? So a lot of what what was introduced (in regards to characters, what they were feeling/development) did seem more like it was being told rather than shown.

I also loved the seasonal rooms within the palace, but I wish there was more even more development and inclusion of them with the overall story. Though with the background we do learn about them, it was fascinating– the rooms have a mind of their own and the extreme weather or obstacles the girls encounter within them, are a way of bringing balance to the rooms (which was so interesting!).

But, what I really loved about Empress Of All Seasons is that it accomplished what I expected more of in Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns, in terms of delivering a morally grey main character & the world-building!

Mari, to me seemed to be a bit of an anti-hero, there’s this dark side to her because she’s on this journey not just for her village, but along the way she learns its okay to go after things for yourself! She is showing these two differing sides and with the palace intrigue, its a mystery whether she’ll be able to keep her secrets!

Same goes with the world-building! The world isn’t just stated by the names of places, many elements to the world are explored, developed, and its incredibly immersive! I found myself picturing the world each and every moment I picked the book back up!

Overall, Empress Of All Seasons surprised me in many ways I was not expecting and ends on a note that really subverts tropes and expectations.

Empress Of All Seasons is a unique YA Fantasy, which is very character-driven, filled with intrigue, action, and adventure! If your looking for a standalone YA Fantasy with Japanese mythology, a competition, politics, & a rising rebellion, this is a fantasy you definitely want to check out!

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta {Literary Travels}

Literary TravelsToday I’m introducing a new feature on the blog! Literary Travels is the working title and this idea came about as I was thinking of all the upcoming fantasy books on my TBR + how fantasy books usually come with maps!

Then from there I began to think of all the different locations traveled in fantasy books & if I were traveling to these fantasy worlds, where would I go what would I see, etc.

There are often so many different elements explored throughout fantasy books, that I also created this as a diary/log for series when future books are released (or stand-alones) and I find myself forgetting details about the world!

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose CapettaSo to start off today’s Literary Travels feature, I’m spotlighting The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta, a Queer YA Fantasy inspired by 19th Century Italy!

If you follow me on Twitter, you also may have seen me gushing about it, so its great I’m introducing this feature with The Brilliant Death, because as I was reading I could really picture the setting and get an understanding of the history, culture, you name it!

**Literary Travels will feature specifics about the setting of each book, so be wary of detailed locations/world-building if you don’t want to be spoiled!**

This feature will probably vary from post to post, but I hope it’ll serve as a guide of sorts if you find yourself reading these fantasy books and highlight the amazing settings, culture, etc. explored!

Hope you enjoy and let me know your thoughts on this new feature in the comments below! 😍📚🗺

Welcome to:

Vinalia

A country rich with history & breathtaking architecture, you’ll be enamored by all it has to offer!

From the shores of the Violetta Coast to the northern edge of the Neviane mountain range, there’s plenty to explore within Vinalia!

With this Literary Travels Guide, you’ll learn about the best cities, clothing, food and maybe some lesser known secrets about this country, to make the most out of your visit!

Within Vinalia you must know that there are 5 ruling families across the region, with the Capo being the current main ruler of the country!

The 5 Families include (From East to West): di Sangro, Moschella, Rao, Otto, & Altimari

Here are some major cities and locations you’d want to keep in mind when visiting:

Chieza: Found within the mountain ranges of The Uccelli, this city is known for its markets containing anything from beautiful linens to dried foods.

Reader’s of this guide, don’t forget to check out Storyteller’s Grave! Its said to be a ravine located to the west of Chieza. However, legend says it received that name because men from Chieza would drink and shout stories near its edge, with those least fortunate falling in.

Villages surrounding Chieza are also known for having vibrant-colored tile roofs.

The Uccelli: A mountain range that crosses across the east of Vinalia.

Ruling family: di Sangro

Violetta Coast: Located towards the southeast of Vinalia, this vibrant coastal area is known for its vineyards.

Aside from its vineyards, Violetta Coast is also known for its trades in spices and metals, considering its close to the shore.

Ruling family: Rao

Moving on towards the west we have the cities of:

Prai: Known for its gambling tables

Gravina: Famously known for its universities

Ruling family: Otto

Salvi: One of the largest islands off the coast of Vinalia.

Ruling Family: Altimari

Amalia: If your arriving through Estatta Valley, you’ll immediately he brightly-tiled roofs ranging from red, to pink and orange.

Tile adorns the bridges, there’s also rustic statues, bronze decor, & marble buildings.

There are a variety of shops ranging from cheese, breads, to even sweets.

  –Don’t forget to check out the Amalia Opera House

Weather

Generally a warm climate, the sun is particularly strong in Vinalia, with nights getting rather cold. However, the mountain ranges bring about strong wind.

History

The last era of magic was said to have ended close to 500 years ago. During that time Streghe began getting wiped out, being labeled heretics. From that, the Order of Prai was born.

They later tried to bury the beliefs & old faith of the past, but gods & goddesses are still remembered.

Gods and goddesses are still widely cherished:

  • Melae: Goddess of Death
  • Cecci: God of Wine
  • Elia: Goddess of Food & Beauty
  • Erras: God of Judgement
  • Veria: Goddess of Truth

Magic System:

Within Vinalia, rumors have floated around that there are Strega, or those with magical abilities. Though they live in secret considering magic isn’t as common as it once was, many say Strega are just fairy tales.

Interesting Facts:

-Within Uccelli there’s a mountain known as:  The Weeping Mountain

-Touching iron keeps away hardship

-The neighboring country of Eterra is known for its universities

-Tales of Vinalia include: The Pearl Girl & The Castle Without A Soul

That brings us to the end of the guide! As you can see, Vinalia is a vast country with a variety of immersive locations & a rich history!

Thanks for checking out this first issue of Literary Travels, hope it was a helpful resource you’ll keep these in mind when visiting Vinalia!  ✈📚✨

This feature was so much fun to create and I hope it inspired you to pick up The Brilliant Death! Can’t wait to share my next Literary Travels guide!

Thoughts on this literary guide? 📚😍

Are you planning to read The Brilliant Death? If you have, I’d love your thoughts on this guide! ✨⚔📚