Vagrant Queen Vol. 1 by Magdalene Visaggio Review {Graphic Novel}

Vagrant Queen Vol. 1 by Magdalene VisaggioVagrant Queen Vol. 1 by Magdalene Visaggio (Writer), Harry Saxon (Colorist), Tim Daniel (Design), Zakk Saam (Letterer), & Jason Smith (Ink)

Publisher: Vault Comics

Release Date: February 26, 2019

Pages: 192

Available Through The Book Depository: Vagrant Queen Vol. 1

Summary: Former child queen Elida was driven from her throne at age ten and forced to wander the galaxy, evading the revolutionary forces that wanted her dead. When an old frenemy claims to know the whereabouts of Elida’s long-lost mother, she is forced to return to her former kingdom and stage a rescue.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Vagrant Queen is fun, fast-paced, space opera adventure featuring a queen on the run! There’s action, space travel, politics, but where the story really shines is through the main character Elida, who remains on the fringes of space as she is the only royal left after her kingdom’s revolution!

I’d actually heard about this series last year when it was being released as single issues and this is the same publisher that you may already be familiar with on my blog, because they are also publishing Sera And The Royal Stars!

Its been a while since I’ve read a good space story and Vagrant Queen was a book I’d had on my to-read shelf already. I’ve eagerly been trying to get through my physical TBR, so I finally got the chance to pick it up!

Elida Al-Feyr is a former child queen who was forced to leave her kingdom of Arropia after a revolution. Now in her 20’s, she’s living out in the fringes of the galaxy as she is also trying to evade capture from space commander Lazaro, as one of the last remaining royals!

However, when she gets a tip from her former friend Isaac that he knows the whereabouts of her mother, she realizes its the only lead she’s gotten in such a long time.

Now the two of them are charting across space, bantering, and evading capture along the way!

As Elida joins Isaac, we also see them try to reconnect considering they used to work with each other a few years back and over the course of this volume, we learn more about their history and what led to them splitting ways.

There’s also a lot of surprises to Elida’s space adventure as we learn more about where the journey to finding her mother will take her and what her former friend Isaac Sterling has been up to!

Vagrant Queen features Black royalty, lots of action and adventure! This was such a great start to the series and overall is incredibly fun! I’m surprised I haven’t seen more discussion about this series, because its just a blast― start to finish!

Elida is a fun character to follow, she’s always ready to punch and fight someone if necessary, evade enemies, and always has a plan! I’m looking forward to learning even more about her in future installments.

The setting feels incredibly well developed through the slow progression of the world-building from the politics, our main protagonists & antagonist’s history, alongside the different planets, security and political figures!

The art style has a vintage aesthetic to it with a lot of bold colors that really bring each page to life! Alongside that, pages deliver on the detail whether its to a character, the setting or background, and the action is portrayed through the detailed lines and unique paneling!

What I wasn’t expecting was that this was more futuristic sci-fi dystopia than just sci-fi and that surprised me, but in a great way! This leaves certain future plot threads open for exploration in future installments, even as the story itself wraps-up wonderfully!

My only minor critiques are that, I did want a little more to Elida’s adventures (space travel, world exploration, etc.) but I’m sure there’s more to come in future installments!

And though I knew going in this series wouldn’t be for younger readers, I did find the mature/adult vibe of some parts of the story to not really click with me personally– again it isn’t too adult, but I wouldn’t recommend this for YA readers on the younger side.

Though rating aside on they enjoyment scale, this is definitely a 5 out of 5! Elida is a fantastic and captivating main character, I loved her banter, getting to learn more about her history with Isaac, and following them on their unique journeys as they reluctantly travel the galaxy together!

Also, its been a while since I’d read about this, but now that I’ve read Vagrant Queen it also seems fitting to mention that: its getting a series on SYFY in 2020! From what I’ve looked up it’ll have 10 episodes, the cast for Elida & Isaac look fantastic, & it already has a preview trailer which is pretty awesome!! So if your looking to be ahead of the hype for this new series, I recommend picking up Vagrant Queen 😁💜👑🚀

Vagrant Queen Vol. 1 is a dynamic space opera featuring a fantastic female lead! Adventure, action, humor, great world-building, and page-turning story, this series has it all! Looking forward to future issues!

Silver In The Wood by Emily Tesh Review

Silver In The Wood by Emily TeshSilver In The Wood by Emily Tesh

Publisher: Tor.com (Tor Books)

Release Date: June 18, 2019

Pages: 112

Available Through The Book Depository: Silver In The Wood

Summary: There is a Wild Man who lives in the deep quiet of Greenhollow, and he listens to the wood. Tobias, tethered to the forest, does not dwell on his past life, but he lives a perfectly unremarkable existence with his cottage, his cat, and his dryads.

When Greenhollow Hall acquires a handsome, intensely curious new owner in Henry Silver, everything changes. Old secrets better left buried are dug up, and Tobias is forced to reckon with his troubled past—both the green magic of the woods, and the dark things that rest in its heart.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Silver In The Wood is a captivating, enchanting, and atmospheric novella debut which follows Tobias Finch whose looked after Greenhollow woods for hundreds of years and the new owner of Greenhollow Hall, Henry Silver! Tesh delivers an introspective tale, rooted in folklore and legend!

Ever since I read Forest Of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal back in 2016, I’ve loved keeping up with the latest novellas from Tor! No matter which one I pick up I can always expect to be transported to a unique and memorable world!

Silver In The Wood was no different! In my Cozy Fall Recommendations post that I shared recently I actually featured this book, and let me just say that the lush and detailed forest imagery and focus on folklore definitely deliver on that fall atmosphere!

This was a novella I got through in one sitting and I can’t wait to read future books in this series! Despite the length, I felt there was a great understanding of the world, mythology, and its characters.

Its very much a reflective and introspective kind of story as we follow Tobias who is tethered to the Greenhollow woods, looks after its visitors and other forest creatures (dryads, etc.). Tobias’s journey changes course when a there’s a new owner of Greenhollow Hall, Henry Silver.

As the two connect, we learn more about them, alongside the mythology and folktales that have rooted themselves deeply in their world.

Apparently the story was inspired by the Green Man myth, which I didn’t know going into it. But, I felt that going into it with vague knowledge on the plot actually made the reading experience so much fun!

Continuing with the story, Henry always finds himself coming back to Greenhollow where Tobias lives. As the two grow even closer, we learn more about Tobias and his past, including the fact that Henry may be in danger!

What I appreciated about this book so much was that there were layers to the characters that get expanded on and get revealed at a steady pace. There’s questions I had about Tobias and Henry’s past, but it was at the most perfect moments where I finally got my answers.

Tobias, we learn has lived for so long that he’s grown accustomed to the world around him, but hasn’t really found a place to set down roots. Tesh explores Tobias’s internal journey so wonderfully as he reflects on the legends of the world, the forest around him, and his growing relationship/dynamic with Henry through a detailed and personal POV.

According to a blog post from Tor, Tesh’s inspiration for the setting was inspired by:

“the ancient woodlands of the British Isles, places which although they may seem wild are in fact witness to centuries if not millennia of carefully managed relationships between human beings and the natural world…”

You can sense the imagery with the way Tesh just weaves together the details of the setting and how it becomes part of the characters in a big way too!

Through Tesh’s writing there’s a sense of wonder and charm to the woods that’s delivered through the 3rd person POV! It really shines as it dives deep into the legends of the world and how it connects to our main characters.

Another elements that are woven all throughout (which I loved) were the themes of story and storytelling. The folklore of of a notorious bandit (Red Fay), Henry’s old maps of Hallowed Woods, Tobias’s dryad friend Bramble, its these details that really bring the world to life to present a folktale within a folktale. Its lush, atmospheric, and finds its roots in the folklore/legend that’s layered into the story.

What Silver In The Wood does in such a fantastic way is weaving together the legend and folklore of the past and showing how it influences the present, as seen through 23-year old Henry, who we learn is a folklorist who is eager to learn and study more of the tales of the Hallowed Hall & woods!

That also includes the tale of Fabian Rafela (which Tobias is very familiar with). I won’t spoil what happens, but that adds another layer of mystery and conflict to the story that really keeps you hooked nearing the middle to end!

The romance between Henry and Tobias is brought to life through the quiet moments they have with one another that builds so much depth and emotion to different layers of the story.

The novella does have a bit of a slow pace to it, but the writing-style really makes the pages fly by!

Also, have I mentioned that Tobias has a very loyal cat named Pearl? 🐱

I definitely recommend this novella if your looking for an atmospheric novella, rooted in folklore, legends, followed by a delightful and unique cast of characters!

Silver In The Wood is an immersive novella that is rooted deep in folklore and legends! This is an introspective and character-driven tale that also delivers lush and atmospheric forest imagery! Its Tobias and Henry’s journeys that really root you in the story and keep you hooked till the very end! You’ll be left wondering what new adventures Tesh has set in the world of Greenhollow! 

Rebel by Marie Lu Review

Rebel by Marie LuRebel by Marie Lu (Legend #4)

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (Fierce Reads)

Release Date: October 1, 2019

Pages: 384

Available Through The Book Depository: Rebel

Summary: Respect the Legend. Idolize the Prodigy. Celebrate the Champion. But never underestimate the Rebel.

Eden Wing has been living in his brother’s shadow for years. Even though he’s a top student at his academy in Ross City, Antarctica, and a brilliant inventor, most people know him only as Daniel Wing’s little brother.

A decade ago, Daniel was known as Day, the boy from the streets who led a revolution that saved the Republic of America. But Day is no longer the same young man who was once a national hero. These days he’d rather hide out from the world and leave his past behind. All that matters to him now is keeping Eden safe―even if that also means giving up June, the great love of Daniel’s life.

As the two brothers struggle to accept who they’ve each become since their time in the Republic, a new danger creeps into the distance that’s grown between them. Eden soon finds himself drawn so far into Ross City’s dark side, even his legendary brother can’t save him. At least not on his own . . .

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Rebel is a phenomenal addition and conclusion to the original Legend Trilogy! Lu’s finale is filled with politics, action, an incredibly gripping and character-driven story, while also revisiting our favorite characters facing a new, rising threat in technologically advanced Antarctica!

When this book was first announced, I still couldn’t believe it was real! I first read Legend in 2012 and followed the series till its end in Fall of 2013. The connection I felt to these characters, the world, and their cause easily made Marie Lu’s Legend Series, one of my favorite YA Dystopian series of all time, I still vividly remember my reading experience for each book in the series from Legend through Champion and felt June and Day come to life from their very first introductions!

I finished book 4 in less than a day (started it at 2 a.m., finishing by the afternoon on Tuesday) and I still can’t believe it was real!! Rebel was a truly spectacular addition and brought wonderful closure to Day, June, and Eden’s stories (thank you Marie Lu for allowing us to follow these kids and see the ending to their journeys 😭💜💙🦋)!

Introducing a new POV this time around, we follow the the Wing brothers who are now older, where we left them off in Champion! Eden is 19/20 (?) and Day is in his late 20’s!

Day, now working as an agent and Eden, whose one of the top students at Ross University. However, he can’t help but feel overwhelmed with being in his legendary brother’s shadow, who led a revolution back home in the Republic.

For a little bit of background (from what I remember), chronologically Rebel starts 1 month after Champion.

Eden finds the wonder in figuring out the how & why of things and is a brilliant inventor. So, when he and his best friend Pressa Yu (who both feel like outcasts) find adventure in one of the poorest and dangerous parts of Ross City, the Undercity, to take part in drone races, they aren’t expecting to get tangled up in the dangerous dealings of an even more dangerous criminal.

Day (now Daniel) is working for the Antarctican International Services as a secret agent hunting down dangerous criminals and has been looking for elusive crime lord, Dominic Hann. Not only does he have his secretive agent work, but he’s also trying to look after Eden, even as they keep drifting further away from each other.

However, Dominic’s secretive work brings both brothers together, while also keeping a rift between them when Eden begins to finally feel understood and seen by this dangerous criminal. They both go on an emotional journey as they learn to accept their past and bring each other back into their lives again.

What really surprised me about Rebel was that in reality, I was emotionally ruined but ultimately happy with the ending of Champion (though it was bittersweet). Even as we got novellas throughout the release of the Warcross duology, I still would have never imagined to have gotten a fourth book. But, I knew I would absolutely NOT be missing out on it! But in the end,  although I love each and every book in this series with all my heart, Rebel easily stood out as one of my favorite books in the series!!

And let me just say, Marie Lu brought back this series in such a brilliant way! From the individual journeys of the characters, presenting new stakes, and ultimately crafting a story that stands wonderfully on its own apart from the original series while also leaving the reader pondering about the wonderful future of these characters! If Marie ever decides to add more canon to this Legend world, I would not mind at all!! 😭💙

In reality though, this book left me a complete mess emotionally and I’m still not entirely sure what to do (possibly go back a reread it because I loved it so much? ❤❤)

Presenting a new and older side to these characters, you see how much they’ve grown, changed, and are (for the most part) a little more sure of where they want to be in the world as they face new responsibilities and challenges.

Not only do we see Day and Eden again, but also June, Anden, and Tess (though a bit briefly) and it was wonderful seeing the protagonists of this series together and interacting again. What really made this book incredibly special from a reader perspective/experience was noticing how differently I’m seeing this new book from when I initially read the original trilogy in high school to being a university student!

I found myself being even more invested in the politics of the world and could relate to the more adult challenges the cast was facing, like finding your place when you feel a bit lost in the world, reconnecting with people from your past, especially how Lu examined this theme of past following Day and Eden’s perspectives as they reflect on what happened during their time in the Republic (and how they are better understanding to learn and grow from it, not run away).

You see this struggle from both their POV’s (Daniel’s especially) as they attempt to resist letting in their pasts from the Republic! Where Daniel is still regaining his memories and reliving nightmares of the Republic as Day when he sleeps or faces death on the job as an agent. There’s this question that lingers in the beginning of the book whether he can even be Day anymore and can only be Daniel, which was a unique exploration to his character I wasn’t really expecting!

There’s also the contrast to Eden that we delve deep into throughout this book as well (who also has moments of remembrance the Republic during the time of the originally trilogy). Yet, he realizes that seems to be the only place where he feels he can belong. That struggle and contrast between the 2 of them was so brilliantly explored and I was not expecting that dynamic to play such a huge part in their development, but again, Marie does a phenomenal job at exploring and allowing them to move past their traumas.

“Some pasts can’t be left behind. They must be fought…” (259, Rebel by Marie Lu)

According to an interview Marie had with Entertainment Weekly she mentioned a challenge she faced while writing Rebel which was:

“Getting their voices right again. This was my first time revisiting the same characters after a pretty long gap. That was hard, trying to write the same characters in a different tone, with different personalities…”

I personally found she did such a fantastic job at this! You see the characters much older very briefly at the end of Champion and you see the maturity to them throughout Rebel, but there’s still those echoes of their younger selves that we followed throughout the original trilogy!

The new characters we’re introduced to, were all fantastic and I loved them all from Daniel’s fellow ASI agents and director: Jessa and Lara, & Min Gheren/ Eden’s best friend Pressa Yu, her father and our antagonist Dominic Hann.

Delving more into our main characters a bit, I loved learning more about Eden and he is the sweetest boy ever!! He loves flowers and inventing, and is the softest/sweetest―I loved following his POV & Daniel’s so much!! 😭💞💖

We obviously don’t get Eden’s POV in the original series, so to see Marie delve into his voice and character with the background we already knew of him was wonderful! Being able to expand on his character and see that growth to Eden after his struggles in the Republic just offered more insight to him and overall it was great to finally get a chance to read from his perspective! Also can we appreciate the sibling dynamic explored between these POVs??

Also its very subtle but something I noticed was how Marie delivered 2 male protagonists and explored this idea of confronting your emotions, it being okay to cry etc. (If your a fan of podcasts, the sci-fi podcast The Bright Sessions podcast does really well too w/ its male characters!). Breaking down toxic masculinity and highlighting the importance of showcasing your emotions, and normalizing this idea of admitting when you need people by your side 👏💖👏💖

I don’t often talk about villains or antagonists often in my reviews, but let me just say Dominic was a FANTASTIC villain! I found myself beginning to trust him like Eden was when he took him under his wing and found interest in his racing drone. Dominic is up front about his terms with Eden, follows through with his requests, and doesn’t bring harm to him in any way. So you see throughout Rebel, Eden can’t help but finally feel like he belongs in this city in ways he never did before. But of course, there’s much more to Dominic than he reveals in the beginning and I loved getting more to his past, his character as a whole, and overall just found him to be one of my favorite villains throughout this series and book!

Next lets talk world-building, because it was so good! We get introduced to Ross City and its unique point system back in Champion, but in this book we dive much deeper into its inner workings from the politics, danger, innovation, and potential it holds throughout Rebel! There’s a morally-grey side to this city that you uncover with each and every chapter as we follow Daniel and Eden! Ross City seems to put up a facade but as the story progresses you that begin to crumble slowly (but possibly for the better?).

Now onto the romance!! 💞💞 There was never a doubt in my mind we’d see Day & June talk to each other again and just reading Daniel’s POV as he was constantly thinking whether June would want to talk to him/whether they’d have time to be together…the whole time I was thinking: “Day! How could you possibly think that?? Of course she wants to be with you!! 😭💖”  While the Day & June reunion was something I was really looking forward to, I’m glad Marie also made it more of a minor plot thread. What I loved about how the romance was explored between the both of them was that although we know their backstory, it was gradually developed in quiet but intimate ways. We could see how much they really did miss each other, but weren’t sure how each of them would react in wanting to reconnect again!

There’s also 1 other pairing that I loved in Rebel, but I won’t spoil it, let me just say it was the cutest!! 💞

While Rebel is a book I loved with all of my heart, I did want to get into a couple minor critiques (but in no way did this impact my AMAZING reading experience). Firstly, between the Republic & Antarctica I was hoping for just a little more politics to be expanded on/delved into! Mainly, because this series really got me to love politics in storytelling and I was just hoping for more exploration in those threads in the Republic and beyond Ross City. Additionally, I just wanted a little more June/Daniel moments within the underlying conflict!

But overall…this book was SO GOOD! If you loved the Legend Series don’t miss out on Rebel because it concludes the series in such a great way that will leave readers and long-time followers of Legend really happy! It definitely did for me! 💖

Rebel brings readers into the world of Legend one last time as we follow Eden and Daniel’s lives in Antarctica! There’s politics, adventure, action, danger, newer stakes and much more as we follow our favorite characters once again in this latest installment! Wonderfully adding a new layer and depth to the Legend world and its characters, Marie Lu’s Rebel is a must read!

Waiting On Wednesday │ #11

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly blog feature to showcase & spotlight upcoming book releases!

It was created by Jill over at Breaking The Spines

It’s been a little over a year since I did this feature, but I’m incredibly excited to be sharing today’s book with you! Mainly because its a sequel to one of my favorite Epic Fantasy debuts of last year (and of all-time) 💖💞🎉

This week I’m spotlighting…

Realm Of Ash by Tasha SuriRealm Of Ash by Tasha Suri (The Books Of Ambha #2)

Publisher: Orbit Books

Release Date: November 12, 2019

Pages: 496

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository: Realm Of Ash by Tasha Suri

Summary: The Ambhan Empire is crumbling. A terrible war of succession hovers on the horizon. The only hope for peace lies in the mysterious realm of ash, where mortals can find what they seek in the echoes of their ancestors’ dreams. But to walk there requires a steep price.

Arwa is determined to make the journey. Widowed by a brutal massacre, she’s pledged service to the royal family and will see that pledge through to the end. She never expected to be joined by Zahir, the disgraced, illegitimate prince who has turned to forbidden magic in a desperate bid to save those he loves.

Together, they’ll walk the bloody path of their shared past. And it will call into question everything they’ve ever believed…including whether the Empire is worth saving at all.

To say I’m merely waiting for this book is an understatement…I’m counting down the days, reading any & all quotes/updates/tweets Tasha shares periodically on her twitter, and I’m just filled with an indescribable feeling of anticipation until this book graces me with its presence!

Realm Of Ash is the sequel to easily one of my favorite epic fantasy debuts of 2018, Empire Of Sand!

EOS is set in a world inspired by Mughal India and follows strong-willed, clever, and inspiring protagonist Mehr, who’s the daughter of a governor has magic in her blood due to her mother being Amrithi!

After using her abilities, Mehr and her family are put in danger! But Mehr makes the brave decision to stay behind (meaning her father, stepmother, and little sister Arwa have to leave) and make a deal to ensure their safety by joining the Mystics at their temple.

She’s told to marry Amun, one of the mystics, but its clear that the two are fighting for the same thing, freedom! Over the course of the novel the two forge a powerful bond and remind one another that there is still hope! Empire Of Sand brilliantly weaves in themes of identity, choice, love, family, faith, and much more through Suri’s descriptive and immersive writing!

I think that’s as much as I can say without spoiling too much of EOS, so if you haven’t read this yet, please do and come back so we can discuss (I need more people to talk about this amazing book with!)

So back to Realm Of Ash, this is a sequel set many years after EOS following Arwa, Mehr’s younger sister, her empire is crumbling and the only possible hope for peace is journeying to the realm of ash! Alongside her journey she’ll be joined by an illegitimate prince who uses forbidden magic! But the journey will force them to question things about the empire they’ve grown up in their entire lives…

There are many things I want to discuss, but I really don’t want to spoil EoS, so if your looking forward to Realm Of Ash, keep an eye out for a Bookish Theories post!

I’m so ready to see Arwa go on her own epic adventure and based on Tasha’s tweet it tells me the very important details I need to know about Realm Of Ash, like the “soft Ravenclaw illegitimate prince” 😂💙🎉

I am incredibly excited to see where Tasha takes this series next in one of my most anticipated sequels, Realm Of Ash! 💙💙

Have you read Empire Of Sand? Are your looking forward to this sequel? What’s your Waiting On Wednesday book? 📚

The Avant-Guards Vol. 1 by Carly Usdin Review {Graphic Novel}

The Avant-Guards Vol. 1 by Carly UsdinThe Avant Guards Vol. 1 by Carly Usdin (writer), Noah Hayes (artist), Rebecca Nalty (colorist), & Ed Dukeshrire (Letterer)

Publisher: BOOM Box! (Boom Studios)

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Pages: 112

Available Through The Book Depository: The Avant-Guards Vol. 1

Summary: When Charlie transfers to the Georgia O’Keeffe College of Arts and Subtle Dramatics, she struggles to find her feet, but winds up exactly where she belongs…in the school’s (terrible) basketball team.

As a transfer student to the Georgia O’Keeffe College for Arts and Subtle Dramatics, former sports star Charlie is struggling to find her classes, her dorm, and her place amongst a student body full of artists who seem to know exactly where they’re going. When the school’s barely-a-basketball-team unexpectedly attempts to recruit her, Charlie’s adamant that she’s left that life behind…until she’s won over by the charming team captain, Liv, and the ragtag crew she’s managed to assemble. And while Charlie may have left cut-throat competition in in the dust, sinking these hoops may be exactly what she needs to see the person she truly wants to be.

My Rating: ★★★★★

My Thoughts: The Avant-Guards is a fantastic series from Boom Studios! This female-led series is about friendship and discovering who you are! The colorful art, alongside the great cast of characters, and much more, deliver a page-turning story you won’t be able to put down! With a fresh start at a new college, Charlie learns more about herself and finds where she belongs when her new friends convince her to join their basketball team!

This first volume of The Avant-Guards completely captured my heart and I can’t wait to see where the series is headed next! 💞

I’d already been familiar with Usdin’s graphic novels, already having read Heavy Vinyl (which is getting a sequel next year & recommend checking it out! 🎉 — it basically follows a group of girls in the 90’s who work in a record store and follows the newest employee, Chris as she discovers her co-workers are actually part of an all-female vigilante group!).

Going into The Avant-Guards, I knew I’d love it! But, I didn’t just love it, I adored it so much! I can definitely say―that THE AVANT-GUARDS IS MY NEW FAVORITE GRAPHIC NOVEL SERIES, I love it with all my heart!! 😭 

Charlene (Charlie) Bravo is a recent transfer to the Georgia O’Keeffe College For Art & Subtle Dramatics (amazing title for a school tbh) and she’s still figuring out where she fits in, that is until she meets the all-girls basketball team!!

Olivia is the energetic and optimistic one that really wants Charlie to join and sees her potential, then there’s the other wonderful teammates who I loved too: Jay, Nicole, Tiffany & Ashley, who are all incredibly welcoming to her!

This first volume chronicles the team getting together and introducing us to the wonderful team of The Avant-Guards! From beginning to end I felt I knew the team so well and I’m excited to learn even more about them. The Avant-Guards is the kind of story where the characters just pull you into the story and throughout it, they feel like your best friends too! 💞💞

Stories like that connect with me on such a deep and personal level because friendship is incredibly important to me and to see it highlighted and be such a focus of this series, just warms my heart!

Alongside that, this story is just filled to the brim with supportive and positive energy and you can’t help but smile while reading. As Charlie attempts to find where she belongs on this new campus, she seems to be pretty nonchalant about her environment. That is until she meets The Avant-Guards at their table during the campus’s activities fair!

With the team only needing one more player to make it official, Liv makes it her mission to convince Charlie to at least think it over. But after they all immediately click with Charlie, Liv comes up with a plan for all of them to get her to join!

As the story progresses, you learn so much about each of the girls (Liv is the captain of the team & got them all together, Nicole is the “resident cynic,” Ashley who “sings like Beyonce, [parties] like Rhianna & balls like Lebron,” Tiffany, whose interested in crystals & the like, & Jay, they are pretty quiet but an incredibly loyal friend).

The Charlie & Liv dynamic was so beautifully written! Having been a former basketball player, Charlie isn’t too interested in returning anytime soon, but its through Liv and the other girl’s she realizes its not just about the game, but also the connections she’s made with them!

We learn that they both had girlfriends in the past and its so obvious Liv has a crush on her, so seeing their friendship and romance develop was just so beautiful and I just loved seeing them together! 😭💞 There’s 3 moments throughout this volume that stuck out to me: Liv telling Charlie she wouldn’t give up on getting her to join, Liv explaining that the other girls genuinely want her to join b/c they’d love to be her friend, & their talk on the bus about Charlie’s anxiety!

All of the girls have their own quirks and personalities that shine throughout this entire first volume and I’m really looking forward to more of their interactions and dynamic as both friends/teammates in future issues! Every one of these girls resonated with me so much because their confidence and loyalty to each other was just incredibly inspiring to me!

The writing and pacing of the story allow for their characters to get the perfect amount of development, page-time, and still leave some mystery about them for future issues/volumes!

I also appreciated this intersection between sports and art! An underlying message (at least that I found) was the empowerment one can find through art! I mean anywhere you go I believe your surrounded by art in some way and I’m not really sure how to describe it, but I feel The Avant-Guards gets that? 😄

Throughout Volume 1, I found the art and paneling was done so wonderfully! The colors are bright and bring even more to the already brilliant story! As does the art! Its expressive, detailed, and feels incredibly cinematic & animated! The paneling is also something I was paying close attention to and it never felt like space was wasted. Alongside that, I felt the art and dialogue together complemented each other and came together to tell a fantastic story!

From the character expressions, pacing, action scenes, and even backgrounds, they all come to life through the vibrant colors and great art-style!

Overall, I felt The Avant-Guards Vol. 1 story was complete and well explored!

Honestly, if you were to ask me to pick a favorite character of the Avant-Guards, I honestly couldn’t do it, I adore each of the them with all my heart!! ❤ ❤

Considering this is a sports comic series, I did want to quickly talk about another series I’ve read which is Fence! Looking back, I can see why I enjoyed it when I first read it (its one the first sports comics I read & had a unique cast of characters like Avant-Guards). But if I’m being honest, I feel like my love for Fence has faded and The Avant-Guards has found that special place in my heart! Not saying they should be compared (because they are completely different stories) but if your stuck between both series and not sure which one to pick up, I’d say read The Avant-Guards!

Based on this first volume alone, I found the art, characters, pacing, and much more to be better developed and explored!

The Avant-Guards is diverse, colorful, the characters are all full of life, and the wonderful themes of the story weave their way through each page! I HIGHLY recommend this wonderful graphic novel!

Featuring characters of color, queer women, and just overall being incredibly inclusive, I just love the care and attention to diversity that the team behind this series has represented!  From the characters of different backgrounds (mainly featuring Brown/Black women), characters identifying as Queer and Jay (who uses They/Them), this is just such a beautifully inclusive series and I hope more people will pick it up!

The Avant-Guards Vol. 1 is must-read graphic novel series from Boom Studios! This series is all about friendship, self-discovery, and is beautifully inclusive + diverse! Charlie learns more about friendship and overcomes obstacles from her past when she joins the all-women’s basketball team! From the lovely artwork and colors to inspiring themes throughout this first volume, The Avant-Guards is a new series you don’t want to miss!

Sera And The Royal Stars #1 by Jon Tsuei Comic Review

Sera And The Royal Stars Issue 1Sera And The Royal Stars #1 by Jon Tsuei, Audrey Mok (Artist), Raúl Angulo (Colorist),  Jim Campbell (Letterer), & Tim Daniel (Design)

Publisher: Vault Comics

Release Date: July 17, 2019

Pages: 28

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository: Sera And The Royal Stars Vol. 1

Summary: Civil war rages in the Empire of Parsa, and famine has struck. As the seasons refuse to turn, Princess Sera receives a vision from the deity Mitra telling her to find the Royal Stars and restore them to the heavens. Despite her kingdom and her troops’ need of her command, Sera embarks on a quest to find the fallen stars—now trapped on earth—and save her people from dearth and death.

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: Sera And The Royal Stars #1 is a must-read epic fantasy-adventure comic! The detailed art, page-turning story, alongside its rich and expansive world, all come together to deliver a great introduction to what I know will be a fantastic series! Princess Sera finds herself embarking on a quest to save her kingdom and its people during the height of a civil war!

Sera And The Royal Stars is a comic series I’ve been waiting to read for months since I’d heard about it earlier this spring! I’d already been following the publisher for sometime,  I just hadn’t read any of their comics yet. I’m SO filled with joy that I finally did because I’m even more excited to read more of Vault’s comics on my TBR shelf!

This is the kind of story that swept me away without realizing it, allowing me to connect with its rich world, phenomenal characters, and immersive story and before I knew it― I’d reached the last page.

Sera And The Royal Stars is the type of story that roots you into its fascinating world (and doesn’t let go for one single second), as seen through a brave and valiant princess who’s willing to trek across her war-torn land to save her country and its people!

In the western territories of Parsa the story opens up with Princess Sera alongside her brother and sister (Jahar & Roya), who’ve come to collect the fallen soldiers as they continue on to fight a civil war across their dying land.

But Sera finds herself, in the midst of battle, summoned by the deity Mitra! She’s told that she’s been chosen to “break the bonds that bind the Royal Stars…” Once she does, she can save her people who have been suffering. With one more visit from Mitra, the deity replaces Sera’s heart with a special crystal and her journey quickly begins! The crystal seems to guide her along her journey and I’m interested in learning more about it.

The empire of Parsa is vast and within this first issue we get just a glimpse , but it leaves so many pockets of this world open to exploring―places, characters, the mythology, and the royal family!

What I loved about this first issue is how we’re thrown right into the action and already established story threads! We’re given all of these detailed bits of world-building to learn more about the story itself in a layered way! For example, Sera states that she’s already aware of the visions she’s had, but Mitra was the first to actually speak! Additionally we learn more about the queen, Tara who wasn’t able to complete the mission of restoring the dimming royal stars.

The layered and subtle details allow for the reader to build on this vast world with each turn of the page!

I’m also a big fan of royalty in fantasy stories and I appreciate how this first issue layers the complexity of the royal family, above all showcasing the importance of family (seeing Sera and her siblings fighting together)! I also love how the mythology and lore of Parsa are such driving forces in Sera’s journey to find a solution to this war–it allows the reader to get a glimpse into the on-going conflict and history of the world.

Sera is an incredibly dedicated and brave princess who’s love for her country and its people that pushes her to embark on a heroic quest!

Sibling dynamics are often overlooked in fantasy, but its clear Sera And The Royal Stars wants to explore it in more depth as future issues are released. Within issue #1, not only do we see Sera, Jahar, and Roya together on the battlefield, but also the conflict between family as the presence of war continues.

As Sera prepares to leave for her journey, her brother Jahar offers figs and feels confident in Sera’s abilities to find the answer. However, her sister Roya still carries the grief and anger of being abandoned by their mother all those years ago–just wanting Sera safe and staying home to fight!

I’m really interested in exploring more of the wonderful sibling dynamics that were introduced, in future issues.

Now onto the story–just wow! There’s so much that happens within this first issue and sets up even more as the series continues. After Sera’s vision on the battlefield, she heads back and we’re introduced to the king and quickly learn that the civil war is against Shaheen, Sera’s uncle!

We also learn that the queen was also called upon a similar mission to Sera’s but couldn’t complete it. As Sera is sleeping she’s contacted by Mitra and learns if she doesn’t break the bonds of the royal stars, not only will the seasons continue to remain unchanged, but her people will be led towards a horrible fate. Sera wastes no time leaving for her journey which starts with being directed east to find the Bull.

As she embarks on her journey, back home outside Parsa’s city walls, Shaheen is readying his forces to attack the kingdom! With Sera being the best tactician, the kingdom is left without her intellect.

After a few days of traveling she reaches a local village that directs her to a temple filled with ancient magic! She meets an old man who can’t remember who he is, until we realize he is the Bull–and the issue ends there!

Alongside Sera’s uncle, there’s a mysterious brother and sister duo who know quite a bit about the deities, the figure known as the Yazata, and are determined to rule, in time!

There’s a very present theme of war and its impacts on the people of Parsa from famine, to death, alongside mysterious forces at every turn. The plot though dark in its themes, presents resounding messages of hope and resilience!

“My earliest memories of family all revolve around war…”

Delving more into the mythology of Sera And The Royal Stars, the world seems to lay a large foundation on the deities and astrology! According to an interview with writer/creator Jon Tsuei over at Comics Pit, Tsuei was inspired to build this world around ancient Persia and wanted to focus on mythology from non-Western (specifically Asian) cultures:

” [The idea of the Royal Stars] seems to have originated through the Zoroastrian religion, which started in ancient Persia…It led me to sorcery and also led me to astrology…”

The setting is incredibly immersive, expansive and leaves so much to explore in future issues! The world of Parsa is vast from its rocky canyons of the Western Territories to its capital city, villages far from the outskirts of the kingdom, lush forests, and magical temples! There’s so many locations explored in issue 1 and not once did I feel lost in the world–I was excited to learn more and see what else lies in the expansive Kingdom of Parsa!

I’m also interested in exploring more of the politics of the different parts of the world, royals, and the war as the series continues!

The themes, world, characters, story, etc. all come together in such an incredible way to deliver an such a complex and layered story that’s easily my new favorite series!

Audrey Mok’s artwork is another highlight of this series! Its colorful and detailed, showcasing lush backgrounds, various styles of clothing, detailed characters, and the vastness of the world itself. As for the paneling, its done extremely well– the pacing of the story is great, each panel offers something important to the story and offers more insight into the world.

Also, every moment filled with action, shined through Mok’s detailed art and brought each scene to life!

I had such incredibly high hopes for this start to the Sera And The Royal Stars series and I was not disappointed, in fact I was left surprised and everything about it continued to exceed my expectations–I loved every moment and I can’t wait to read the future issues!

Sera And The Royal Stars #1 introduces an expansive fantasy world in the middle of war! Sera embarks on a heroic journey to save her people, while dark forces loom close by! If you love fantasy tales filled with epic journeys, ancient prophecies, royalty, heroic princesses, immersive world-building, and stunning artwork, don’t miss Sera And The Royal Stars, its a phenomenal start to a new comic series!

Animation And Its Potential To Break The Mold For YA Adaptations {Book Blog Discussion}

It’s either a reader’s dream come true or their worst nightmare to see beloved YA books adapted on screen. But we can’t ignore how incredibly exciting it is for that moment we’re able to rush to the theaters or tune into Netflix and see our favorite books come to life, regardless of its faithfulness to the source material.

With that in mind, think of any Young Adult adaptation in recent years whether you liked it or not. Have you noticed something they all have in common?

They’re all live action.

From contemporary to dystopia: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, The Hate U Give, and iconic franchises such as The Hunger Games and Twilight, to name a few. They’ve all found their way to both the big and small screens featuring real-life actors and sets.

Shadow And Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Consider the most recent adaptation deal that’s got readers everywhere excited, Shadow And Bone.

It was announced back in January, Netflix acquired the rights to Leigh Bardugo’s fantasy world of the Grishaverse to be adapted as a live-action television show.

While it’s great to see the steady progress thus far for Shadow And Bone, consider the potential YA adaptations could have, especially in fantasy, to develop ground-breaking work in the field of animation.

Think about the influence Japanese animation has had on audiences with creators that have impacted the industry around the globe, such as Satoshi Kon and Hayao Miyazaki to name a couple. From beloved anime films and series that have found audiences worldwide to even more recent works such as Violet Evergarden (from Kyoto Animation)Your Name, Mob Psycho 100, and Demon Slayer.

Japanese animation reminds audiences how 2-D (and 3-D) animated projects carry emotion, heart, depth, and legacy to storytelling in a way that can’t be done in through any other medium.

With regards to adapting written works/established properties Kyoto Animation (a beloved Japanese animation studio that develops unique and captivating stories), for years has had its Kyoto Animation Awards. This award grants a prize to written works (full length & short novels) written in Japanese, which are then adapted into anime.

At its core, what makes animation such a beautiful art form is its unique ability to portray a range of emotion, color, and imagination you just can’t capture through live action.

Animation can present itself in a variety of ways from traditional 2-D to hand-drawn, and even stop motion. Its limitless and that’s what makes it such a powerful medium capable of pushing boundaries and expanding on new horizons.

In animation everything is intentional, from the heightening of expressions, pauses, motion, and subtleties. The versatility of this art form can create certain atmospheres that portray much more beyond just what we see on screen.

One animation powerhouse that understands this very well is Studio Ghibli. The films they create, showcase a balance between fantasy and reality.

Unsplash_Books_Roman-Kraft

One of the many tasks within animation, is creating a unique world that’s both immersive and real to the audience. This studio is just one example of how that can be done successfully, even when adapting written works, such as Howl’s Moving Castle.

Think about the 2018 animated film, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. It’s the unique “vintage comic-book aesthetic,” according to The Vulture’s article discussing how it changed the game of animation, that won audiences over and set this feature apart.

Into The Spider-Verse centers around teenager Miles Morales, whose from an African and Puerto-Rican background, as he takes up the role as Spiderman and embarks on the grand adventure of becoming a hero.

From sci-fi to fantasy, contemporary, historical fiction, and the paranormal, this medium has the unique ability to bend rules or break them entirely in ways live-action just can’t―and that’s the magic of animation.

Consider the potential for more inclusive and diverse storytelling featuring YA, if they were to be animated features.

when-the-moon-was-ours-anna-marie-mclemore

One author that comes to mind is Anna-Marie McLemore. She’s a YA author known for her lush magical realism novels that feature Latina protagonists and Queer representation.

For example, consider if one were to adapt McLemore’s 2016 novel When The Moon Was OursThroughout it, she layers wondrous prose alongside themes of family, friendship, and identity.

With animation, it would be possible to bring to life the meaning behind Sam’s painted moons, the flowers that grow from Miel’s wrists, and the vivid imagery that weaves its way throughout McLemore’s masterful writing!

Breaking the mold of live-action adaptations can unlock more doors for opportunities to feature YA that identify as #OwnVoices and are written by authors of color. The creativity that comes with animation can bring their works to life beyond the page like never before.

Thank you so much for checking out this post! I’ve been wanting to create more unique discussion posts to share on the blog and this is one that’s been on my mind for a while, in regards to YA adaptations! There’s many more sides to this discussion I’m looking to share in the future, but please let me know your thoughts on the one I’ve shared today 🍃📚😍

Do you have an ideas on what YA Books you would want to see as an animated film or show? Lets discuss in the comments 😄💖📚🎨

How the Book Internet is influencing our reading {Book Blog Discussion}

For us avid readers its no surprise we have countless avenues of which to discover new books and connect with like-minded people:

Bookstagram, Book Blogging, Booktube, and Book Twitter, to name a few!

The internet is not only changing how we’re reading, but also what we’re reading!

joyce-mccown-791673-unsplash booksFrom book recommendation threads on twitter, bookish articles listing the newest books of the season, to a new haul on booktube, the latest book on your to-read shelf is never far behind.

According to the Publishers Weekly article titled How Has the Internet Changed Book Culture, a PubTechConnect panel was recapped where the panelists, consisting of online book editors, a bookstore owner, and author, discussed the internet’s effect on literary culture.

“…what the internet allows us to do in changing the way we interact with books is see what people connect with…[,]how people form identity communities, and how those communities affect what they read and how they read it…”

These spaces create and build connections to share our love of books whether it’s a review talking about our favorite characters and plot points or through another form of creative book content. We find ourselves seemingly unable to stop refreshing our feeds because the newest post may introduce us to our next favorite book or a new bookish friend!

Even Vox shared an article in December of 2018 showcasing the influence Instagram (or Bookstagram) has in helping independent bookstores and getting people to buy more physical books. The platform is encouraging readers to not only support their local communities, but also build one online through a love of reading.

With all of this in mind, its not all that surprising then that print sales of books have been on the rise compared to the drop in sales for ebooks and audiobooks.

Good E-Reader, an online news agency which focuses on audiobooks, e-readers, digital publishing and ebooks, shared that in January 2019 the revenue for ebooks had declined 4.9% since last year.

Similarly with audiobooks, Publishers Weekly stated that those sales had the steepest drop in unit sales at 28.9%.

Now back to focusing on “what” we’re reading, it’s clear that depending on who’s in your feed, that will absolutely influence the books you notice and will want to pick up!

Personally, I’ve made so many wonderful friends and seen my TBR grow continuously by following readers and other bookish accounts on Twitter that align with my love of Young Adult, Latinx Books, SFF, etc. & have introduced me to more romance and indie published recommendations that I may not have considered before!

To look at this topic from another perspective, take manga for instance! A recent article from Bound Into Comics shared that manga has found more success in overseas markets and has seen its popularity increase.

Though there are many factors involved, from a book community standpoint, one can’t ignore the increase of manga on Booktube!

Booktubers who mainly read YA are now reading and hauling manga titles! I can only theorize its due to the lasting wave of YA Contemporary in 2015 & 2016 that many began to pick up more manga. It was mainly through Ichigo Takano’s Orange, which falls into the genre of contemporary, realistic fiction (mental health), and merges with a bit of sci-fi, that this newly released manga was put onto many people’s radars, which opened the doors for more booktubers/viewers to discover manga.

This, in my opinion, set the stage for more manga to weave its way into YA Booktubers TBRs!

Now if you scroll through the feed of predominately YA booktubers, many of them are not only starting to pick up more manga, but also encourage other viewers and fellow booktube friends to do the same. This has also led to more manga bookclubs or read-a-thons online.

From my perspective, as a long-time watcher of booktube, being a book blogger for over 3 years, and keeping updated on the newest buzzed books, it’s not surprising that the impact of the internet is allowing for more conversation, especially influencing and inspiring readers to pick up more diverse and inclusive titles!

It’s amazing to see how influential the internet is in the the direction of the book market, what stories we’re seeing next, allowing us readers to curate our TBRs, find new recommendations, and open our eyes to new stories that we may not have known about otherwise!

Its also important to note, the impact word-of-mouth and recommendations from online friends or influencers is continuing to have on the books people decide to add to their To-Read lists, or pick up themselves!

While there’s a variety of factors involved into what gets readers to pick up certain books, one can’t ignore all the good it’s doing to bring people together, introducing them to new fictional worlds, and inspiring them to keep on reading!

There’s many pockets of the internet where one can find new bookish content and discover their next great read and that is something that I don’t see stopping anytime soon!

Thank you so much for checking out this discussion! Feel free to share your own personal experiences on how the internet or the online book community has influenced how/what your reading! 😍📚🍃

Which online bookish communities do you go to for your next read? 📚✨💖

Hey 24hr.YABookBlog here  (~˘▾˘)~💞📚✨ I wanted to share a little bit about the inspiration behind this blog discussion! It was mainly influenced by the PW article listed above titled “How Has the Internet Changed Book Culture.” I felt inspired by what the article mentioned about building community and how it impacts what we read! I felt as a book blogger + someone who keeps up to date on the newest book news/trends, etc., I had a lot to say on the subject! 

This discussion also would not have been possible without the other fantastic resources I linked above like Vox, Good E-Reader and Publishers Weekly! Close to 3-4 hours of work went into this article, but it was such a fun one to create! 

If you can, I would really appreciate if you could check out/donate to my Ko-Fi or share this article with fellow bookish people! As a university student studying journalism, if you could support the work I shared today, it would mean a lot! Thank you!! 📚💖✨📰

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Sorcery Of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson Review

Sorcery Of Thorns by Margaret RogersonSorcery Of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon Teen)

Release Date: June 4, 2019

Pages: 456

Available Through The Book Depository: Sorcery Of Thorns

Summary: All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Sorcery Of Thorns is the latest novel from Margaret Rogerson, its a book that’s enchanting, immersive, and weaves together a tale that pays homage to the power of books!

Elisabeth Scrivener was orphaned, but taken in to the Great Library of Summershall where she grew up surrounded by books and wants nothing more than to become a warden, moving up the ranks from an apprentice librarian!

She continues her studies and knows she is nowhere near ready, so it’s of course a surprise when the Director calls her to assist in moving a grimoire into their facility. This not only ensures its well sealed, but examined and the text within it preserved for the future.

A grimoire comes to life one night that leads Elisabeth on an adventure across the kingdom where she gets tangled up in forbidden sorcery and complicated magic that threatens her world! She stops at nothing to uncover secrets and solve the mystery of grimoires that have become dangerous monsters, aka Maleficts.

With the Director’s death, we see that it acts as catalyst for Elisabeth to take action! I really loved how you could see the Director was a mother figure to her (wanting to show her potential) and it was through the little actions that Elisabeth did in which we saw that her mentor would have been proud, in using her knowledge to help others! Though we see the Director really did have a lot of faith in Elisabeth by leaving her Demonslayer and reminding her that her there is so much to the world of the Great Libraries that leave her many options.

Throughout Sorcery Of Thorns, Rogerson weaves mystery, intrigue, adventure, and as a standalone, I appreciated how all these different elements we’re layered into the story.

According to a feature interview from Kirkus, its mentioned that the journey Elisabeth embarks on mirrors Rogerson’s own upbringing learning more about the religion she grew up with.

“As a teenager, I was discovering a lot of things about the world that were very contrary to what I had always been told as absolute truth…”

As Elisabeth steps away from her world of libraries, she learns more about the world around her and is shocked by the sexism and other societal norms she’s never encountered before.

As a YA Fantasy standalone I loved how Rogerson layered not only the themes of this story, but also the clever foreshadowing, character development, exploration of the world, and plotting!

The way she structured Sorcery Of Thorns was done in such a brilliant way where I was always surprised at the littlest of details! She’d find ways to bring them back 50 or so pages later that had me amazed at how descriptions of characters, backstory, etc. played such a huge part as we uncovered more about the direction of the story.

As an aspiring YA Fantasy writer, I found she explored a lot of different elements in very interesting ways from the growth of Elisabeth and her finding her way, to the layers of world-building that slowly unfold, even the direction of the plot. I felt that the way she weaved all these elements together left me inspired as a writer and I’m looking forward to rereading this book again in the future–maybe annotating it to uncover more that I may not have noticed before!

Told through a 3rd person POV, Rogerson not only allows us to follow Elisabeth on her journey, but also allows us to understand the new friends and people she meets along the way! From sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, his demon servant/best friend Silas, the Director, Elisabeth’s best friend Katrien, even Ashcroft!

Honestly though, if I had to pick my favorite characters, I’d say that I loved Elisabeth, Nathaniel, Silas, & the Director all equally!

There’s not only insight into the main characters, but also the world of Asustermeer and its 5 libraries, the Otherworld of demons where Silas comes from, and even the world of grimoires.

Rogerson’s descriptive writing builds a gritty, dark, and expansive world, unlike any I’ve ever read before! There’s dark magic, but also threads of hope, adventure, moments of humor–overall there’s a lot of different tones and atmospheres to this story that get uncovered and cements itself into this magical tale! Even the tiniest of details from the green sparkles of Nathaniel’s magic to the metallic smell of sorcery made the setting feel lived in and very grounded in reality because we had so many different layers to explore.

Sorcery Of Thorns is the kind of book that even though the writing at times is heavily descriptive, you still want to keep reading! I felt the writing style really brought a lot to this book! The world always felt real and really came to life.

What surprised me as well was seeing how Elisabeth’s world of libraries and magical books completely contrasted what the world was like in Austermeer. Where librarians see sorcerers as nothing but trouble and pure evil, outside they are celebrated and seen as average people. She learns more about not only sorcerers, but demons as she changes her perspective on Nathaniel & Silas when they team up to protect the world.

“― what had it called her?

A true child of the library…”

In terms of the foreshadowing, I found that I was more surprised than anything. As mentioned above Rogerson, weaved in the smallest details into the plot where I was not expecting and I loved that although I realized it less than 1/2 way through, they still managed to be unexpected. They were used really effectively and for so many descriptions to be used to further the plot in such an interesting way, it was something I really enjoyed!

Specifically, I personally loved how we knew who the villain was early on! Not only did it offer more action and intrigue into the story, but what makes it fun is that your constantly left theorizing of what he’ll be plotting next. That was great because we kept learning more, figured out how his plan would impact the world and how his schemes are constantly influencing the world in a lot of ways (going after each library and the consequences of going after all the top Class 8-10 grimoires).

Its not explored until Elisabeth learns more about both Nathaniel & Ashcroft’s pasts, but I really appreciated the importance of family, legacy, and remembering the family that has come before you. It wasn’t until I finished Sorcery where this really symbolized Elisabeth too, growing up orphaned in the library, seeing the Director as a role model/parental figure to look up to, keeping her legacy/teachings alive by saving the world from Grimoiers. I also loved how this journey showed Elisabeth that although she hasn’t found exactly where she wants to be yet, that’s okay because there’ll always new paths open to her!

This is also really random, but the further I read, I loved when I learned why this book is called Sorcery Of Thorns! 😭💖💫🌿

Now I wanted to get into more discussion on why I personally rated this novel 4 stars!

It’s no surprise that I was really looking forward to this book because I adored Rogerson’s debut  An Enchantment Of Ravens and had already seen so many glowing + 5-star reviews!

Although 4 stars is definitely not a bad rating in any way, there were just a few things I wanted to explore that lowered the rating for me personally.

So, as an aspiring writer its no surprise that I really want to work on the craft of writing. With that, I couldn’t help but notice that from my reading experience, I picked up on quite a few writing cues and familiar turns of phrase that took me a bit out of the story.

Also with the very direct descriptions I found the pacing was very uneven at times. There were moments the story moved constantly, but then it was stopped abruptly, it happened a while throughout the story and it was just hard for me to love the book fully because of it.

Also, while I completely understand what Rogerson was doing showing these two different sides to the world of Austermeer (librarians & the regular world), I wasn’t exactly a fan of the sexism and old-era ways of thinking. For example, there’s a scene in which Elisabeth is trying to explain the villain’s plot of using the grimoire’s & how he plans to attack each library. But, she gets seen as “mad” and is almost left to be put into a hospital.

Early on, I personally saw this world as its own universe, so I really didn’t understand why these old ways of thinking had to be present (hope that makes sense??). I see how the author used it to show the strength of the female characters when they’re in the libraries and how it differs from the realities of their world, but I found it was just kind of frustrating to read at times.

Throughout the book I was left thinking: There’s powerful/brave female characters here, but outside a Great Library position their not seen as equal to men & so quickly judged?

And lastly, while the writing is definitely a strength of Sorcery, I also found it was its weakness at points. Because the writing is so descriptive and so “perfect”,  it made the story and its flow somewhat dense. With that, certain setting descriptions made it difficult at points to picture certain elements of the world, setting, and characters (though this was definitely in more specific moments).

Overall though, this was another fun fantasy standalone from Margaret Rogerson and I’m looking forward to seeing what she publishes next!

Sorcery Of Thorns is a novel that’s packed with so many complex layers and they all find their way into the story from beginning to end that will leave the reader satisfied! There’s magic, sorcery, a great cast of characters, beautiful writing, and so much more that cement Rogerson as a master in YA Fantasy standalones! 

Sea Sirens by Amy Chu and Janet K. Lee Review {Graphic Novel}

Sea Sirens by Amy ChuSea Sirens by Amy Chu & Janet K. Lee (Artist/Illustrator) (A Trot & Cap’n Bill Adventure #1)

Publisher: Viking Books For Young Readers

Release Date: June 11, 2019

Pages: 144

Available Through The Book Depository: Sea Sirens

Summary: Trot, a Vietnamese American surfer girl, and Cap’n Bill, her cranky one-eyed cat, catch too big a wave and wipe out, sucked down into a magical underwater kingdom where an ancient deep-sea battle rages. The beautiful Sea Siren mermaids are under attack from the Serpent King and his slithery minions–and Trot and her feline become dangerously entangled in this war of tails and fins.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Sea Sirens is a beautifully illustrated graphic novel with a unique art-style, a delightful story, and wonderful cast of characters! Trot finds herself in an underwater kingdom with her cat Cap’n Bill, where an ancient deep-sea battle rages on between Sirens & Serpents! Powerful themes of family and friendship, alongside adventure, are present all throughout Chu and Lee’s spectacular graphic novel! This one is a must-read!

Sea Sirens follows Trot, whose a dedicated surfer girl living in Huntington Beach, Cali. & her one-eyed cat Cap’n Bill who she rescued as a stray on the beach! They both get taken to an underwater kingdom of Sirens & Serpents when powerful wave pushes them underwater!

READ THIS GRAPHIC NOVEL–ITS FANTASTIC!! 💖 I was looking forward to this one for months because the beautiful cover immediately had me add it to my TBR and the story inside is just as beautiful!

Trot is a surfer girl at heart and the story starts with her spending the day at the beach surfing and her grandfather enjoying fishing! But, her grandfather goes missing (due to his dementia) and she’s heartbroken! Luckily he’s found, but her workaholic mother tells her she can’t go out to the beach without her, to ensure her grandfather’s safety!

However, Trot doesn’t let that stop her from surfing, so she finds a way to sneak out. She and Cap’n Bill catch a bad wave and get thrust to the bottom of the ocean where Sirens and Serpents are in battle! Luckily, Cap’n Bill is ready to chase the serpents away! The Siren princess, Clia invites them to stay in her kingdom– now Trot & Cap’n Bill are celebrated for their bravery (but mainly Cap’n Bill 😂)!

The story continues with Trot & Cap’n Bill exploring the kingdom, being celebrated with a feast, and learning more about the battle between Sirens & Serpents, alongside the history of the Queendom of the Sirens (I loved the scene introduced early on when princess Clia shows her a mural of their history commissioned by her great-grandmother)!

Clia, princess of the Sirens introduces Trot to her world, as does Queen Aquareine, and the 2 develop a friendship over the course of the story.

One of my favorite parts was seeing the inventions/magical objects of the Siren’s world that continuously immerse Trot into this underwater kingdom! There’s one object in particular that added so much to the story and that was a special pearl necklace that allows Cap’n Bill to talk! I loved getting to hear what he had to say and it added so much to the story!!

I don’t want to spoil things, but there’s a few plot twists that send Trot, Cap’n Bill, and Clia on a rescue mission!

Of course with the Sirens being familiar/fascinated with human world (but not exactly interacting with it so close to the surface). I really enjoyed learning more about this split between their world and ours through their fascination with the ships that sink in their territory! I also loved learning about the Sirens love of charting the ocean territories–I hope that’s explored more in upcoming releases!

The politics and world-building of the underwater kingdom were so beautifully explored and had so much depth, yet still left a bit of mystery that I can’t wait to learn more about it in future books!

Sea Sirens draws inspiration not only from Vietnamese folklore and fairytales, but mainly L. Frank Baum’s children’s fantasy novel published in 1911 titled, The Sea Fairies!

Now onto the representation! This graphic novel mainly features Vietnamese representation! Trot herself is Vietnamese-American and her grandfather is Vietnamese! It was great to see the rep. explored through the use of language and elements of Vietnamese folklore/fairytales! The representation and culture is woven throughout the pages of this beautiful story!

The art itself is so unique! There’s the use of watercolor and vibrant line-work present throughout the whole graphic novel! I really paid attention to the artwork throughout each panel and was in awe at the stunning art that not only immersed me, but left me captivated! The design of the characters, settings, and color palette brought everything to life!

Sea Sirens ends on a wonderful note hinting at more to come and I can’t wait!!

Sea Sirens by Amy Chu & Janet K. Lee is a beautiful and immersive graphic novel that’s filled with adventure when Trot gets sucked into an underwater kingdom! From the story to artwork, themes, and so much more–this is a wonderful graphic novel that you don’t want to miss!