Mid Year Wrap-Up Discussion {2020}

Happy July everyone! We’re well past the halfway point of 2020 and today’s post is to highlight all the bookish and blog-related things that happened this year so far! 📚💞✨

In my (almost) 5 years of book blogging, I’ve never written any kind of mid-year post and this year felt especially different in many ways. 2020 reminded me that although we put copious amounts of effort, time, passion, and dedication into our book blogs, platforms, you name it…we can’t forget to take time for ourselves.

For many of us this year may have been challenging, but we have to acknowledge and remind ourselves of how far we’ve come in 2020. Now, onto all the bookish things!

Adaptations

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze ChooOut of all the book-to-movie / film / tv adaptations I’ve seen, one of the most memorable for me has been The Ghost Bride on Netflix which launched this year!! From its cinematography, screenplay, gorgeous visuals, chemistry between characters― it worked as an adaptation because it took risks to differentiate itself from Choo’s novel while also keeping the spirit of the story.

Set in 1890’s Malaya, you follow Li Lan who finds herself becoming a ghost bride to support her family. But, she quickly finds herself caught between her world and the afterlife, solving the mystery of the now dead son, Lim Tian Ching and more along the way.

While only 6 episodes long, you feel so connected to the cast, world, and captivating story of magic, sacrifice, love, the paranormal, and much more. Li Lan (Peijia Huang), alongside her spirit guide Er Lang, Tian Bai, everyone in the show just brought these characters to life in such a surreal way that I’m just HOPING there’ll be more seasons to explore in the show because it was phenomenal. Also, the series does a fantastic job at highlighting more of the comedy/humor of the story over the more present melancholy of the original novel (which is done in such a FANTASTIC way).

Out of all the book adaptations I’ve heard of, The Ghost Bride has honestly not gotten the love it deserves. Its such an underrated series that deserves more love & hype! Choo herself is an author of Malaysian descent and the cast/crew are of a Taiwanese and Malaysian background as well. To add onto that, I loved that this was a Malaysian-language drama because there’s so many English-language book adaptations out there and this was the very first non-English one I’ve ever seen!

If I were to pick my all-time favorite adaptation, I would not hesitate to say The Ghost Bride, if your looking for a book adaptation that will captivate you start to finish, please watch this one!

As I’m sure many are already aware, Shadow And Bone has wrapped up production as of February and I’ve had a lot of fun covering the news over at The Booked Shelf . Excited in getting more updates, seeing Alina’s story and the Grishaverse world come to life on the small screen!

Blogging

So far this year I’ve posted 35 times on the blog and have reviewed 22 books. My goal for reviews has been to delve deeper into characters, themes, basically like a blog essay to explore different layers to a book. I’ve been extremely proud of this so far in 2020 and a recent review that I feel highlights all these different elements is for Scavenge The Stars  by Tara Sim.

I created a new feature called Backlist Bookshelf to highlight books on my physical TBR and hopefully I’ll find time to feature more books soon! There was a special author interview featuring June Hur to celebrate her debut novel The Silence Of Bones posted in April.

Books

A Good Girl's Guide To Murder by Holly Jackson

One of my biggest reading surprises so far this year has been without a doubt, A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder by Holly Jackson! As mentioned in my review, contemporary mystery novels aren’t my go-to genre and if I do decide to read them, it really depends on the summary. I was wholly invested in Pippa’s case, the journalism aspect, and just the unique story overall! This mystery really left me guessing till the very end and I recently bought the sequel, so hopefully I’ll find the time to add it to my TBR.

One of my most disappointing reads so far has been Fence Volume 2 by C.S. Pacat. No doubt, its such a fun and fast-paced story about a guys fencing team, plus its super entertaining! But, it feels like the story is way too fast-paced and yet it also feels like nothing even happened. The characters still feel a bit static and I have lots to say about the art! So overall not my favorite, but I can see why people enjoy it! It was really really difficult to narrow down my favorite books of the year so far as of this month (because there’s so many), but hopefully in the coming months I’ll talk more about them.

One of my recent book reviews has been for Upright Women Wanted and if I were to pitch it, I’d say its about Queer librarians on horseback fighting for justice! Its a unique mix of genres that shows a unique setting of Dystopian/Sci-Fi Western! Esther (our main heroine) goes on a journey to grow and discover what she wants as she faces truths

Upright Women Wanted

around her, but she’s not alone and has librarians to help her out like Cye: our nonbinary library assistant who shows Esther all that she needs to know and there may be some sparks that fly between them! This novella has been one of my recent favorites and not only is it tons of fun, but I also feel not many have talked about this one so definitely pick it up!

Inspired by my 2020 Readathon (more details below under #QuietReadathon) I wanted to prioritize more backlist and underrated books. As I reviewed my reads of the year so far, one of my biggest reading accomplishments has been checking out books that have been under the radar. I hope to continue this well into the rest of the year.

I’ve also realized that a highlight of my reading has been getting into audiobooks more! Its been hard for me to focus on reading recently, so they’ve been super helpful. Not only has my reading speed gotten a bit slower, but I’ve come to the realization that this year has really turned me into a ‘mood reader’ too. Book ratings have also become a complicated thing for me recently, but I can say in 2020 I’m really appreciating the 4-star rating!

Also, I got myself a TBR basket and I’m in love with it ❤

Discussions

So far this year I’ve posted 1 blog-related discussion which asked the question: “Are Book Bloggers Getting Paid?” and why its important to talk about. Included in the post are some stats, among other facts & figures. I feel its an important conversation to have and was one of the with the quickest “draft to post” discussions I’ve ever written.

joyce-mccown-791673-unsplash books

In 2020 I’ve reflected on whether I should review every book I read and I’ll definitely try to experiment with this more in the year. Its easy for me to want to review every book I read because there’s always some thoughts that linger in my mind with each one. However, the dilemma is although I want to talk about a book from my own unique perspective, it takes time. I have noticed its put a hold on the number of books I’m reading yearly. So, maybe at some point this year I’ll try different kinds of reviews or review styles to still share some of my thoughts, while still making time to read more.

I also have some fun discussions and posts in the works and hopefully I’ll have them up during the summer! Here’s a sneak peek as to some of the topics: library, manga, reviewing books, fun bookish lists/recommendations, underrated books!

#QuietReadathon

My first readathon, #QuietReadathon launched this year and its really made me reflect on choosing more underrated and lesser-known books, even adding more to my TBR. Its a fun and stress-free readathon that’s brought a good variety to my reading this year.

The Booked Shelf

The Booked Shelf is a passion project that I’ve really put in a lot more time/effort to keep up and its been such a fun adventure. For those who don’t know, I launched it in the summer of last year to highlight YA Book news and keep people up-to-date in the YA booksphere. So far this year a lot of the news has featured cover reveals, but I hope to get back into posting more general bookish news too.

Misc.

If you didn’t know, I’m launching a PODCAST this year!! The trailer has been live since June and I’m gonna be working on EP. 1 this week (though I said it’d be out by June 😂😅). But don’t worry, the podcast will be up and running soon!

Now onto a more personal update. Its not something I talk about often, but I’ve really been neglecting my mental/physical health recently and *nothing serious, however I found myself more stressed than usual and it really took a toll on me these last couple weeks. Thankfully I’m doing yoga, mediation, among other things to keep myself active and manage my stress. And in all honesty, I’m feeling a lot better. This also got me thinking I may (?) take a small Twitter break this month or next to focus more on reading, my blog, and more importantly, myself. Twitter has made such an impact on my blog, the blogger friends I’ve made, etc., and its been a really important platform for me and my blog, but what these past few weeks have taught me is that there comes a point where you need a break and that’s okay!💞

This has been a wrap-up of some bookish things from 2020 so far! Thanks so much for reading and hope you’ve celebrated your book accomplishments too! 🥳💞

What are some book or blog-related things that’ve happened to you this far into the year? Let’s discuss! 🤩📚🎉

Mija Podcast Review {Literary Listens}

Mija PodcastMija Podcast created by Lory Martinez

Release Date: September 25, 2019

Episodes: 14 (Across 2 Seasons)

Summary: Hosted by a narrator known only as Mija (daughter in Spanish), each episode tells the story of how members of her family experience immigration.

My Thoughts: Mija is a phenomenal podcast everyone should listen to! With each episode, our charming narrator delves into her family’s history, Colombian heritage, and what it means to a Latina living in New York City. Martinez layers such deep character profiles across the series, weaving together a heartfelt tale of family, growing up, and the meaning of home!

Where audio drama fiction is filled with an abundance of sci-fi and fantasy tales, its nice to see podcasts like Mija that delve into modern-day contemporary to deliver a story so heartfelt and authentic, it reminds me why podcasting is one of the best spaces for fictional storytelling right now!

Throughout each episode of the Mija Podcast, our narrator (Mija) chronicles her family history from parents to cousins, even brother and grandparents! In doing so, she delves into her Colombian roots and heritage, while also exploring what it means to be a Latina (Colombian-American) in New York City.

The writing is charming, moving, and delivers personal, complex character profiles in under 10 minutes. From the very first episode I fell in love with this podcast because as someone with Latin-American roots, there’s such deeply interwoven messages about family, that really is are at the heart of Latinx culture. One of the most distinct messages that really builds over the course of this first season is that family really is connected, regardless of distance.

While each of the 8 episodes does chronicle a different family member, you begin to see how they overlap as you delve deeper into Mija’s Colombian roots, especially as we travel with Mija across different timelines.

Sound design is fantastic, not only when it comes to the exceptional soundtrack and sfx, but also Mija’s narration in general, as it explores Latinx-American culture, touches on Colombian history, immigration, and spotlighting Colombian representation. Also its no surprise that Spanish is organically woven into the narrative, but just having it spoken aloud in a fictional (but very real) story was just beautiful to hear.

Told through a first and 3rd-person perspective, the storytelling really is beautifully written and so heartfelt. You can’t help but feel such JOY when listening to Mija as it puts the focus on family not only its history, but legacy and the important values that family passes down.

In fiction, I personally feel like there is still such a long way to go in terms of Latinx rep., but podcasts such as Mija remind me that is happening little by little. Stories of hope, joy, family, are important to hear from all cultures and Martinez has really made that a hallmark of this series.

From the values, stories about traveling to visit relatives, how each family member is connected to Mija, etc. these are all pieces of much larger story that I really felt connected with and hopefully you will to.

I won’t delve into too many plot-specifics because this really is a story you need to experience for yourself! You won’t be disappointed.

While my family isn’t Colombian, hearing Mija’s stories in a way felt like hearing my family’s stories too.

Also what makes the Mija Podcast such an accessible one is that it’s available in French, English, and Spanish. Even more wonderful is that Season 2, focuses on a Chinese family who now lives in Paris!

Podcasts such as Mija are absolute gems in audio drama fiction that deliver stories you really can’t get anywhere else. Please listen to this fantastic podcast, I got through the entirety of Season 1 in 1 sitting and can’t recommend it enough, add this one to your list!

Mija Podcast is a heartfelt tale about family and home! The writing is poetic, charming, and explores deeply complex themes! With each episode, Mija delves into the life of a different family member and tells their story. Martinez has crafted a truly unforgettable podcast you don’t want to miss!

How Audiobooks helped my reading during Quarantine + Updates

Audiobooks usually aren’t my go-to when it comes to reading, however I noticed during Quarantine they became a pillar for structuring my reading time.

As I was focusing on my classes online and staying indoors, my reading had definitely slowed down (at least when it came to novels written in prose). It became difficult for me to stay focused on what I was reading, so I was grateful to have started using sites like Scribd to enjoy audiobooks (also utilizing my library’s digital catalog more).

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Between the two, Scribd is definitely my preferred choice for now because libraries can have a bit of a wait time on books. When seeing just how many audiobooks were available, it made me prioritize more backlist/indie titles too and that’s something I’m planning to hopefully continue for the rest of the year.

During Quarantine not only have I been able to get through my library checkouts more, but its also gotten me to think more about reaching for the backlist books on my physical TBR (which also inspired my new blog feature Backlist Bookshelf).

So far the easiest way for me to get more reading done has been to read a physical copy while listening to the audiobook. I’m also getting reading done faster because I recently noticed how short audiobooks can be! Now books are getting read in the span of 2-3 days instead of my usual reading speed.

As Way Too Fantasy mentioned, “listening to a book is a much different skill from reading print off a page…” Being more of a print reader, I’ve noticed delving into audiobooks is working with a different reading muscle than I’m used to, but its really been fun to get back into reading more books again.

There’s been such a variety of books I’ve been able to get through during my time at home too from manga to graphic novels, novellas, non-fiction and of course, YA!

In all the years I’ve been reading, I rarely reached for audiobooks, so 2020 will definitely be one of the years with the highest amount I’ve ever listened to (so far its 3 total 📚). Because I’m more of a fiction podcast listener, its also been difficult for me to get into audiobooks  cause I’ve definitely gotten used to fiction/audio drama’s more scripted style of storytelling. But, I’m happy that the audiobooks I have listened to so far have been great!

I’ve listened to The Black God’s Drums, Scavenge The Stars, and more recently Upright Women Wanted (book review in-progress). Out of all of those, my favorite audiobook has definitely been for The Black God’s Drums which was narrated by Channie Waites, who did a stellar job! Because it’s a novella I thought I wouldn’t even need the audiobook, but I’m so glad to have discovered it. Waites brought such an engaging performance that looking back, I loved the novella because of the audio even more and its definitely on my list of all-time favorite audiobooks.

Overall, I’m glad I ended up having lots of luck with my audiobook choices so far! The next one I might be looking into is for Elizabeth Acevedo’s Clap When You Land its wonderful to see authors narrating their own book, so I’m looking forward to this one! (If you’ve listened her audiobooks, let me know what you think in the comments💞)

Updates

If you’ve been following me on Twitter you may have seen a tweet about a special announcement a couple weeks ago. I was really hesitant to talk about it here whether casually in a review or make an entire post about it…but I’m incredibly passionate about this special project so I guess its time I finally talked about how I’ve officially started…a PODCAST!! Titled The Booked Shelf Podcast, each episode will cover a different book/bookish/storytelling-related topic. I recently launched the trailer on YouTube and if everything works out, I’ll be debuting my first episode later this month! 😍🎙🎊

Its been a little over a week since protests began around the world in response to the recent Black lives lost. During this time, I’ve reflected on the ways I can do more (not only in my personal life) but also through the use of my platform to uplift and boost Black voices and authors / creators. So over the next few weeks, I plan to post here on the blog a list of upcoming YA Books from Black authors or even Black-authored books that need more hype (hoping I’ll have time to share both).

Hope you enjoyed today’s more casual discussion post, maybe I’ll post another one like this soon? 🥰📚💖

Have you been listening to any audiobooks recently? Any books or other media you’ve been enjoying? 📚💖 Are there any bookish / blog updates you’d like to share? 💞

Victoriocity Podcast Review {Literary Listens}

Victoriocity PodcastVictoriocity created by Chris Jugden and Jen Sugden

Release Date: October 6, 2017

Episodes: 17 (2 Seasons)

Summary: A detective comedy drama || Even Greater London, 1887. In this vast metropolis, Inspector Archibald Fleet and journalist Clara Entwhistle investigate a murder, only to find themselves at the centre of a conspiracy of impossible proportions.

My Thoughts: Victoriocity is a triumph in audio drama fiction! Set in 1887, Even Greater London, crime journalist Clara Entwhistle and inspector Archibald Fleet find themselves teaming up to solve a murder and along the way, become tangled in a conspiracy! Those who enjoy ensemble casts, and clever humor, interwoven with murder mystery should NOT miss out on this spectacular podcast, now in its 2nd Season!

Today I’m bringing a podcast review that was (*let me check my calendar) about 3 months in the making! Its only because I feel like audio drama reviews require a different muscle than writing book reviews for me personally. But, I also wanted to make sure this review makes it clear that I adore this podcast with all my heart and more people need to listen to it! Do you  LOVE dynamic characters, characters solving murders, conspiracy, a brilliant and comedic duo? How about witty humor and even more quirky characters all spotlighted through fantastic storytelling? Then let me introduce you to: VICTORIOCITY 🎙💖✨

Victoriocity delivers the kind of charming and clever storytelling that just cannot be recreated! The fusion of steampunk, murder-mystery, and comedy wrapped up into the setting of an alternate-Victorian London, doesn’t cement Victoriocity into one specific genre and that’s its beauty.

Set in 1887 Even Greater London, right away we’re introduced to inspector Archibald Fleet who’s tasked with meeting up with prominent scientist, Dr. Salik on his return to London. But, right away we can tell Salik is a prime target, perhaps its for his groundbreaking work on the Tower, which powers much of London?

Next were introduced to Clara Entwhistle who is a spunky kind of character, she’s unconventional and eager to break away from societal expectations thrust upon her by her mother. She finds herself taking up the position of a crime reporter upon her first visit to London, arriving from the countryside and ready to get started.

Early on in Season 1 you can sense their equally dynamic personalities when they’re doing their own thing, but it’s when they come together you see how brilliantly Clara and Fleet’s partnership takes the story in the best of directions!

Throughout the first season, they team up to gather clues and find potential suspects in order to figure out who killed the scientist, and why.

“Describing the richness and scale of Even Greater London, is a task that has sent many people quite mad…”

The writing is descriptive and the comedy that’s present not only in the dialogue, but interwoven throughout the 3rd person narration, is absolute genius! The quirks and details of this sprawling metropolis you’re introduced to as the series goes on, build pockets of the world in unique ways that set each place apart as you follow Clara and Fleet on their journey.

Moments of silence, repetition, or in-the-moment detail craft a distinct comedic undertone that’s present throughout the entirety of the show, even in the most dire situations.

A podcast like Victoriocity, knows the amount of care required to delve deep into its characters, world, complex mystery and that’s highlighted with each episode. It’s brilliantly ambitious in its storytelling and is unlike any other fiction podcast out there! With each quirky new character that Fleet and Clara meet on their trail to solve this mystery, the more we as listeners get immersed into the unique setting and atmosphere that’s crafted.

I also appreciate that because this series is very story-driven, it’s the kind of podcast where you really need to listen to each and every line. Without that, you may miss on key details that help you to figure out more to Even Greater London, Clara, Fleet, or the underlying conspiracy.

The jokes and humor are structured in a way where they always deliver and that’s because of how cleverly the plot/dialogue work together to make each episode unforgettable.

Let me tell you, if you adore ensemble casts, quirky characters, and detailed, expansive settings, you’ll want to listen to Victoriocity and get introduced to what Even Greater London has to offer.

The voice acting is phenomenal! Each voice actor brings a distinct energy to each and every character present in the show and really brings them to life! Clara and Fleet are 2 of my favorite characters in this series and seeing them grow along the journey of Season 1 and cementing their partnership just left me in tears by the last episode!

As someone studying journalism myself, Clara is easily the character I identified the most with! She’s like me and so unlike me in many ways its hard to describe. But, I will say its her confidence, enthusiasm, and inspirational / positive attitude that resonated deeply with me throughout this first season. I can’t wait to see what adventures her & Fleet get into next.

Victoriocity is a brilliant audio drama that introduces you to the sprawling and expansive world of Even Greater London! You’ll get immersed in the conspiracy that the inspector and journalist duo are eager to solve, all the while getting captivated by the magnificent storytelling, humor, world-building, and genius cast of characters! Start listening to this podcast right now, you will not be disappointed!

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo Review

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze ChooThe Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo 

Publisher: William Morrow (Harper Collins)

Release Date: August 6, 2013

Pages: 362

Available Through The Book Depository: The Ghost Bride

Cover Design: Mumtaz Mustafa

Summary: Though ruled by British overlords, the Chinese of colonial Malaya still cling to ancient customs. And in the sleepy port town of Malacca, ghosts and superstitions abound.

Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family’s only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price.

After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy—including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family—before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The Ghost Bride is a rich and immersive historical fantasy, set in 1890’s Malaya! Weaving together the paranormal, romance, alongside Chinese and Malaysian culture, customs, and mythology! Choo’s story is a captivating tale filled with adventure when Li Lan is told to she’ll be arranged in a ghost marriage!

I’d already been looking forward to reading Choo’s novel for a while, because I mean from that summary, doesn’t it sound fascinating? Well I knew the Netflix series had already released earlier this year and decided to finally give it a read!

*Quick side-note: In this review I’ll also talk a bit about The Ghost Bride adaptation and why you should watch it! (Seriously, it seems like not enough people have watched this show and its FANTASTIC + only 6 episodes)

17-year-old Li Lan’s family is struggling financially and so when the story starts, her father informs her that the wealthy Lim, has offered a her marriage proposal to become a Ghost Bride!

Even after getting to visit the Lim mansion she feels like she isn’t suited for this proposal and isn’t sure what to do. But, when Lim Tian Ching (the dead son) soon starts haunting her, she learns that his death may not have been an accident.

As she tries to escape Lim Tian’s hauntings night after night, she’s also drawn to another member of the family, his cousin Tian Bai! Though in trying to escape Lim Tian, she accidentally takes too much of a potion and finds herself trapped in the in-between of her world and the afterlife.

She journeys to the Plains Of The Dead in order to solve the mystery of Lim Tian Ching’s death, uncover secrets about her family and find her way home before its too late!

What The Ghost Bride does so beautifully is create a vivid and immersive setting that instantly transports you! From the port town of Malacca to the Plains Of The Dead, Lim Mansion, etc. they all come to life through an elegant 1st person POV.

Choo’s prose is poetic and descriptive, illustrating a vast and lush setting. You get a sense of not only time, but also weather, food, customs, interwoven with layers of politics and social class. The storytelling itself is also so unique and goes in directions I was not expecting! Alongside that, the atmosphere is there from the very beginning making it incredibly easy to picture yourself there!

Following Li Lan’s perspective rooted me even more in the setting, its characters, including the world of the living and dead that Choo crafted! Telling this story from Li Lan’s perspective brings such an emotional and descriptive depth to the world as a whole. Its so easy to be immersed into all these different layers of the story!

The 1st person POV also brings a deep sense of melancholy, knowing Li Lan’s family situation and this feeling of loneliness after losing her mother and feeling like her father has drifted away. However, Li Lan is an incredibly sarcastic, intuitive, and overall just engaging character that it only made sense to have us follow her journey through this perspective!

There’s also many lighthearted moments, weaved with humor & sarcasm that really bring a lot of funny moments throughout the story!

The cast of characters are also fantastic, I loved them! Aside from our main character Li Lan, Amah (whose like a mother to her) and Old Wong, the family chef, are both there for her and are these glimmering lights for her during this rough time.

Aside from Tian Bai and Lim Tian Ching, there’s also Er Lang (a powerful guide of sorts) and Fan, a ghost who sees Li Lan when she takes on a ghostly form.

Both Er Lang and Fan act almost as paranormal guides who help her during her journey in the Plains and the

There’s also Tian Bai, who Li Lan is instantly drawn too, then there’s Er Lang and Fan, paranormal guides who help Li Lan during her journey to the Plains, which is a ghostly mirror to her port town home of Malacca!

Speaking of The Plains, there’s this underlying politics and intrigue woven into this part of Li Lan’s journey that beautifully captures such a deep well of emotion that she herself has built throughout her life, which she now faces, in a way! From Li Lan better understanding her own romantic feelings, facing her past, and learning more about the paranormal ties that others have to her family.

There’s also a lot of mystery surrounding Lim Tian Ching’s death and his character as a whole, so though his scenes are minimal, he really brought a lot of impact to the story.  I wish there were maybe a couple more scenes with him, including Er Lang!

Speaking of Er Lang, his character surprised me the most! He’s one of Li Lan’s closest companions during her journey and I loved how he got a lot of development closer to the end. During her time in the Plains being surrounded by wandering spirits, she realizes she can trust him to help her get out of some tough situations! However, when she does finally get back home, there’s this lingering connection between them that I was not expecting, but it was interesting how it developed throughout the last third of the book.

The story itself beautifully explores family and legacy as Li Lan finds herself on a race to get back to her body in the real world. I find that was because of Choo’s descriptive and dazzling writing! The way that scenes, dialogue, setting descriptions are so beautifully crafted is what brings the mystery and layers to the story in such a perfect way!

Though I absolutely adored this book, I did want to get into a couple specifics that lowered my rating! It would have been great to get even more background description to build more of the setting of Malaya/Malacca and The Plains Of The Dead. Choo beautifully captured the folklore and setting that I could really picture myself there, I just wish there was more! There’s also a lot of conflict brought towards the end of the book that did make the way plot threads wrapped up, feel a bit rushed (in my opinion).

Also, this is just a personal gripe because I really loved this cast of characters, I wish there was just more interactions between all of them with Li Lan! She’s such a dynamic heroine and it would have been great to have more of that connection with the rest of the cast (like Fan, Er Lang, even getting more development with Tian Bai and resolution with her father).

Now onto the Netflix adaptation & the book: Honestly, I LOVE both of them equally, there are differences that set them apart, but they both have that special thing that makes both such captivating / unique stories!

I’m thinking of maybe doing a mini review of the show (possibly?), but to break it down: Just seeing Li Lan’s dynamic personality brought to life by such an amazing actress (Peijia Huang) alongside the rest of the cast too, made this one of my favorite mini-series! (Its that good that I will gladly watch it all over again multiple times ❤)

The costumes, story and how it ties together, cinematography, dialogue, character chemistry, unraveling mystery–its all done spectacularly!

Also what makes The Ghost Bride Netflix adaptation super interesting is that it blends more of the humor which is more present among the darker/paranormal elements, that even with the story changes it really comes together as a FANTASTIC show! (Seriously this show puts focus on the humor and does a stellar job at it! The comedic timing & humor is perfect 😂💖)

The Ghost Bride is a captivating story that blends romance, the paranormal that’s rooted in Chinese Folklore and Malaysian culture! This is a story about independence and discovery as Li Lan finds herself caught in the ghostly afterlife! Choo’s historical fantasy is woven with lush writing, deeply explored themes, introspective storytelling, and above all an immersive tale about love and sacrifice!

The Tea Party In The Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi Review

The Tea Party In The Woods by Akiko MiyakoshiThe Tea Party In The Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi

Publisher: Kids Can Press

Release Date: August 1, 2015

Pages: 32

Available Through The Book Depository: The Tea Party In The Woods

Cover Design: Akiko Miyakoshi

Summary: On a snowy winter’s day, Kikko sets out to bring a pie to grandma. When she happens upon a strange house in the woods, the most surprising guests invite her inside for a tea party. Kikko can hardly believe her eyes…

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Tea Party In The Woods is a detailed, atmospheric, almost surreal picture book! Evoking the style of a classic fairy tale, Miyakoshi delivers a wondrous story about friendship and resilience!

The Tea Party In The Woods is a beautifully illustrated picture book that I discovered when browsing through Goodreads and I picked it up mainly because I was really in the mood to read something short!

Let me just say that this book is beautiful inside and out! Miyakoshi’s art alongside her storytelling really evokes a classic fairy tale vibe that’s sure to captivate anyone! ❤✨

The story starts with Kikko’s father headed to her grandmother’s house after a night of snowfall. She decides to follow him into the snowy woods when he forgets to take a pie for Grandma!

Along the way, Kikko accidentally drops the pie but manages to keep up with her father (recognizing his hat). But, she realizes her father has arrived at the wrong house.
Kikko quickly learns that she hadn’t followed her father, but a bear in a coat. The house it seems, is full of walking/talking animals who happily invite her to their tea party.

From there, they chat with Kikko and help her find her grandmother’s house at the end of the woods. The story beautifully explored the idea that your never alone and the importance of not giving up, even when it seems like you’ve made a mistake!

“The woods were very still. And so quiet. Kikko’s footsteps were the only sound…”

Miyakoshi evokes a fairytale-like prose that weaves together with charming storytelling and captures that idea of a comforting, quiet fantasy.

I actually reread this book multiple times in just one sitting, it was just so cute and immersive!

The art is so beautiful. Miyakoshi uses a hand-drawn pencil and charcoal illustrations to deliver art that is detailed and captures that magical winter vibe! I also found that the use of a monochrome palette, really makes the colors pop (one of my favorite pages was where it shows a pie platter where the animals place slices to help Kikko bring more to her grandmother).

There’s also a beautiful attention to shadow and detail, which is highlighted through the wintry world and animal characters. There’s a variety from deer to rabbits, bears, rabbits, and many more that Kikko meets at the party.

Every page had such a perfect attention to detail that you could really picture yourself there and the world itself feels so big, such as the tea party house and the woods themselves.

The only reason I’m personally rating this 4.5 is that I wish this was longer, the characters and the charming world Akiko crafted felt so expansive through her art. To me, it seemed like there was much more story to be told! Overall though, Tea Party In The Woods is making it onto my list of favorite picture books━ it’s charming, sweet, and wholesome!

The Tea Party In The Woods is an atmospherically detailed picture book that evokes the feeling of a classic fairytale! The storytelling, artwork, and immersive world deliver a quiet fantasy sure to captivate any reader!

 

In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire Review

In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuireIn An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #4)

Publisher: Tor.com (Tor Books)

Release Date: January 8, 2019

Pages: 204

Available Through The Book Depository: In An Absent Dream

Cover Design: Robert Hunt

Summary: This fourth entry and prequel tells the story of Lundy, a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ 

My Thoughts: In An Absent Dream is a cozy and haunting sort of read that introduces you to a world based on an fairness, logic, and entrenched in a young girl’s journey to find home! McGuire’s fourth installment in the Wayward Children’s Series layers important themes of friendship, the impact of choice, and the worlds we choose to root ourselves in!

I’d taken a break from this series after Beneath The Sugar Sky, but I knew I’d always find a way back to it. Then, having noticed I’ve only read ONE book this month, I decided a novella was exactly what I needed! After not being able to put this book down for the past 24 hours, I can honestly say that In An Absent Dream is my favorite book in this series!

This novella delves deep into the past of Lundy, beloved therapist in Eleanor’s Home For Wayward Children. When I first read Every Heart a Doorway, I felt there was so much left to learn about her and while I had little connection to her character, Absent Dream changed that!

Set in 1964, we follow Katherine Lundy, a logical and brilliant girl who longs for more. Friendship, above all, that connection to those she can relate to and who can truly see her. She’s always been proper, an avid reader, more clever and perceptive than those her age.

However, she soon finds a door that leads her to place where she quickly feels right at home. A place founded on fairness, barters, and promises that are destined to be kept.

She makes new friends (who are very much like family) Moon (a bird-like girl) and Archivist, who teach her the ways of the puzzling Goblin Market. To me, I found this book to be above all, about loneliness and the bond one creates through friendship. Lundy has never had an real friends, but when she’s introduced to the peculiar Moon, she knows she’s found a friend she can rely on.

One trip after another, however, she quickly learns that our world no longer feels like hers. Each return leads to situations she believes are well within her control, always finding her way back through the door.

Part coming-of-age and part portal fantasy, Lundy’s adventures back and forth to the Goblin Market change her at each turn, in ways she doesn’t even realize until we reach that final page.

As established in the Goblin Market, the concept of fairness was beautifully crafted and made into such a vital piece of the novel, and like Lundy, you can’t help but keep that concept in the back of your mind with every turn of the page! It still shocks you because you know the laws and how they work, yet as values build Lundy’s approach to them change as she grows. Her way of thinking alters to where she sees that rules and collecting costs weren’t always so simple as they had once been.

This is also a novel about growing up, seeing the world not as you did when you were young, but seeing how it changes and evolves the more that time passes.

I know I’ve probably said it multiple times already, but its true: Lundy is my favorite character now! This novel gave us such an introspective look into her childhood and the years that follow. We understand her drive, her ambition, the distinct way she sees the world around her and its beautiful. There were many moments where I related to Lundy, feeling like I’m distant from the world at points, escaping to my world (similar to her, through books) and the wondrous, deep connection one feels when they have friends and faith you put in them.

McGuire does a spectacular job at building the ambiance of the Market world into a tangible, real world with history, atmosphere, and rules that present it as such a stark contrast to ours, in a quiet, fairy-tale like way! Overall, the world-building in this installment is spectacular and one of my favorites.

There’s also little details that really set this world apart from other Doors in previous books, which made it such a distinct place to be! The bird cages, the bird/feather motifs, the delicious pies, detailed rules of the market and its cost. But above all, it was also this back and forth between our world (seen as more ordinary with each return) and the vibrant, almost understanding world of the market. However it was how these both separate, but distinct worlds easily wove together through Lundy’s perspective.

Lundy’s real world journeys through school ,the complex emotions and goals she defines for herself are challenged by those around her the more she carries back knowledge from The Goblin Market. With each journey back you could see how she continued to grow and even see the market itself change from her perspective because of it.

I loved following her adventures with Moon through the stalls and just being immersed in their beautiful friendship that has so many complex layers to it. Also Archivist’s home, her comforting library, and the unchanging door that always welcomed her.

We also learn how Lundy’s family tree has a connection to the market, which makes it an even more layered tale! This is also a story about familial relationships: Such as that with her father and his own secretive connection to The Goblin Market. I also loved that during a time when there’s still many external expectations for women, her father gives her choice and she’s respected for all her different layers.

Lundy herself is a girl with ambition that not many can see or understand. Its that internal, almost detached feeling that she has from our world the more she realizes that The Goblin Market truly feels like home.

The 3rd person POV allowed for not only the world to be beautifully developed and explored, but also the themes, coming-of-age story, characters, and layered pieces that brought it all  together.

My only minor issues (which make this rating so difficult because I TRULY  loved this book), include McGuire’s common element to her writing where she repeats certain phrases too often. While I completely understand its supposed to offer that classic storytelling atmosphere, for me personally it loses the impact because they are so often thrown in. It feels like we already know what its meant to imply and it could’ve allowed for more variation and description to further expand on Lundy’s story.

Also, I did feel the ending was a little rushed as we reached that last chapter–I honestly wouldn’t have minded if this book was just a bit longer! I loved being in Lundy’s world, so it would have been fantastic to get a bit more expansion on her friendship with Moon & Archivist, her family (who aside from her father, doesn’t seem like she has such a deep connection to), and the in-between battles/adventures she had before coming back to our world.

*Side note, with the friend of the Market we never meet, Mockery, I wish I felt more of a connection to her. She sounded interesting, but she’s only ever referenced in flashbacks and when we’re back in the present she has little impact on the story.

Overall though, McGuire’s 4th book in this series is one that connected with me on such a deep level and I would gladly read this book again in the future. There were many deep, moving messages I got out of it and would probably discover more on a reread.

In An Absent Dream dives deep into the story behind its characters, builds on themes of friendship and self, while delivering a profound world such as the Goblin Market that inspires further exploration! Lundy’s story will captivate you from page 1!

Top 10 Tuesday: Books I’d Love To Read Someday

Hey everyone, 24hr.YABookBlog is back and with my first Top 10 Tuesday of 2020! I’m currently in the middle of trying to plan out my next read, uni. has gotten busy this past week, so I thought it’d be great to share a fun post today. As always, Top 10 Tuesday is now hosted by ThatArtsyReaderGirl.

I noticed today’s was a freebie and had a great idea in mind. I’ve realized there’s so many books I genuinely want to read, but with other life priorities I just never get to reading them when I want to!

So that’s why my Freebie today is:

Top 10 Books I’d Love To Get To Someday

Honestly there’s way more than 10 that would be able to go onto this list, which is why it was tough to narrow down (but due to my indecisiveness, I’m listing 8 😂) . In the comments lets discuss, are any of these books you’d love to read someday (hopefully soon like me?). Any other books you keep setting aside to definitely read later?

The Weight Of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore1.The Weight Of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

If you didn’t know, Anna-Marie McLemore is easily one of my favorite authors. I discovered their books when I first read: When The Moon Was Ours. Not only did I rediscover my love of magical realism, but also this is an earlier read that helped me to discover more Latinx YA authors! The Weight Of Feathers was their debut and I’ve just been waiting for the perfect time to read it. There’s a rival family, traveling family of performers and the story itself sounds utterly captivating! My goal is to read it this month or at least sometime during 2020 💖

Summary: The Palomas and the Corbeaus have long been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for more than a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.

Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she’s been taught since birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.

Before The Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray2. Before The Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray (The Diviners #3)

I first read this series back in 2013 and I completely fell in love with it! The ensemble cast unique world, merging the 1920’s with the paranormal, and the utterly captivating story, I’ve held onto such fond memories of this series! With the recent release of The King Of Crows, the 3rd book is high on my current TBR! 💙

Summary: New York City.
1927.
Lights are bright.
Jazz is king.
Parties are wild.
And the dead are coming…

After battling a supernatural sleeping sickness that early claimed two of their own, the Diviners have had enough of lies. They’re more determined than ever to uncover the mystery behind their extraordinary powers, even as they face off against an all-new terror. Out on Ward’s Island, far from the city’s bustle, sits a mental hospital haunted by the lost souls of people long forgotten–ghosts who have unusual and dangerous ties to the man in the stovepipe hat, also known as the King of Crows.

With terrible accounts of murder and possession flooding in from all over, and New York City on the verge of panic, the Diviners must band together and brave the sinister ghosts invading the asylum, a fight that will bring them fact-to-face with the King of Crows. But as the explosive secrets of the past come to light, loyalties and friendships will be tested, love will hang in the balance, and the Diviners will question all that they’ve ever known. All the while, malevolent forces gather from every corner in a battle for the very soul of a nation–a fight that could claim the Diviners themselves.

b7b4c010-4ab1-0133-ebe4-0aa00699013d3.The Rose And The Dagger by Renée Ahdieh (The Wrath & The Dawn #2)

This is another series on my list of “I read the first book, but I’ve been putting off reading future books” list. I still remember being left wanting to know what happened after The Wrath & The Dawn, but hadn’t found the time to pick this up! Hopefully it’ll be soon because I’d love to revisit this world and follow Shazi again! 💞

Summary: In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The Education Of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera4. Lilliam Rivera 

I’m cheating a bit here and listing an author whose books I really want to get to! I own all her books and am ready to read them all this year. My plan is to get to all of them before her upcoming book, Never Look Back is out! 💞💫

Also, it recently had a wonderful cover reveal from Entertainment Weekly which I recommend checking out here!

Summary: THINGS/PEOPLE MARGOT HATES:

Mami, for destroying my social life
Papi, for allowing Junior to become a Neanderthal
Junior, for becoming a Neanderthal
This supermarket
Everyone else

After “borrowing” her father’s credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot
Sánchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts.

With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even steal…

Margot’s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moisés—the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood—keep her from her goal.

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio5.If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio 

I’d seen this cover floating around a couple years ago and I’d added it to my TBR asap I mean its a fantastic cover right?

I’ve actually been discovering and meaning to look into more dark academia/adult literary fiction lately and this book sounds right up my alley! Shakespeare, mystery, the arts, possible secret societies? If We Were Villains captures an aesthetic I didn’t know I needed until recently! This is a must-read for me in 2020! 💖🖤

Summary: Oliver Marks has just served ten years in jail – for a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he’s released, he’s greeted by the man who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened a decade ago.

As one of seven young actors studying Shakespeare at an elite arts college, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingenue, extra. But when the casting changes, and the secondary characters usurp the stars, the plays spill dangerously over into life, and one of them is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.

King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo6. King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Alongside Language Of Thorns, this is yet another YA Fantasy author whose books I’ve been meaning to catch up on and just haven’t yet! I mean I feel like everyone’s read this book and I’m the only one Ever since I did my Bookish Theories, I’ve really wanted to sit down and continue all the Grishaverse adventures and see if I’m right about some of them! Also, I’ve heard this is a more political installment in the universe and I’m looking for more political fantasy so this one is a must! ✨

Summary: Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

Secondhand Origin Stories by Lee Blauersouth7. Secondhand Origin Stories by Lee Blauersouth

Its only up until the last couple years where I’ve gotten back into superheroes again and this book has been on my TBR shelf just waiting to be read! Not much else to say other than this is diverse, Queer YA about superheroes? I’m in! 💥

Summary: Opal has been planning to go to Chicago and join the Midwest’s superhero team, the Sentinels, since she was a little kid. That dream took on a more urgent tone when her superpowered dad was unjustly arrested for protecting a neighbor from an abusive situation. Now, she wants to be a superhero not only to protect people, but to get a platform to tell the world about the injustices of the Altered Persons Bureau, the government agency for everything relating to superpowers.

But just after Opal’s high school graduation, a supervillain with a jet and unclear motives attacks the downtown home of the Sentinels, and when Opal arrives, she finds a family on the brink of breaking apart. She meets a boy who’s been developing secret (and illegal) brain-altering nanites right under the Sentinel’s noses, another teenage superhero-hopeful who looks suspiciously like a long-dead supervillain, and the completely un-superpowered daughter of the Sentinels’ leader. Can four teens on the fringes of the superhero world handle the corruption, danger, and family secrets they’ve unearthed?

The Bear And The Nightingale by Katherine Arden8.The Bear And The Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Every time I encounter this book or series on social media, I see nothing but praise! I also adore historical fantasy, so this is a series I’ll hopefully get to this year during winter or fall! I bought this book last year when Barnes & Noble had a sale and its been sitting on my TBR shelf ever since! Also, this looks like one of those series that’ll have such magical writing, lush world building, a gripping story and great characters that’ll have me eager to start the sequel! ✨❄

*Also random side note, but have you SEEN the beautiful UK covers?

Summary: At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

Thanks for joining me for my first Top 10 Tuesday of 2020! Any books you’d love to read someday? Any from my list that you recommend? Lets discuss! 😍📚💖✨

Shatter The Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells Review

Shatter The Sky by Rebecca Kim WellsShatter The Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells (Shatter The Sky #1)

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

Release Date: July 30, 2019

Pages: 304

Available Through The Book Depository: Shatter The Sky

Cover Design/Illustration: Olivier Ponsonnet

Summary: Raised among the ruins of a conquered mountain nation, Maren dreams only of sharing a quiet life with her girlfriend Kaia—until the day Kaia is abducted by the Aurati, prophetic agents of the emperor, and forced to join their ranks. Desperate to save her, Maren hatches a plan to steal one of the emperor’s coveted dragons and storm the Aurati stronghold.

If Maren is to have any hope of succeeding, she must become an apprentice to the Aromatory—the emperor’s mysterious dragon trainer. But Maren is unprepared for the dangerous secrets she uncovers: rumors of a lost prince, a brewing rebellion, and a prophecy that threatens to shatter the empire itself. Not to mention the strange dreams she’s been having about a beast deep underground…

With time running out, can Maren survive long enough to rescue Kaia from impending death? Or could it be that Maren is destined for something greater than she could have ever imagined?

My Rating:★★★★☆ 

My Thoughts: Shatter The Sky is a quiet, character-driven YA Fantasy! When Maren’s girlfriend is taken by prophets of the emperor, she goes on a quest to rescue her! Wells’ delivers a tale with intrigue, politics, dragon lore, adventure, and much more!

Shatter The Sky is one of those books I’d had on my TBR and knew it would be a perfect fantasy adventure, but I just wasn’t able to get to reading it in 2019. Luckily my #Quietreadthon inspired me to look at more backlist titles and I’m glad I was able to finally pick this up!

This book was a wild ride and it surprised me in a lot of ways, which for me is always a plus. All I knew going into it was that it featured a F/F relationship., Bi rep., dragons & a rescue! But that definitely worked in my favor, because I was left pretty much unsure as to all the rest of the details of the plot, which went in very unique directions (from my perspective). This is a YA Fantasy book that feels like it went under many people’s radars and needs a lot more love!

First in a duology, Shatter The Sky follows Maren and her girlfriend Kaia who live in the mountain nation of Ilvera which, along with many other small nations, is part of an ever-growing, corrupt Zefedi empire. This empire has taken control of the dragons to use for its own benefit, many of which used to live among the people of Ilvera many years ago!

Very early on, I felt I could really relate to Maren! She finds comfort in her quiet town and unlike Kaia, doesn’t feel too eager to explore what else lies beyond. Its that comfort and uncertainty that makes her a “Reluctant Hero” as Wells mentions in this Q&A from We Need Diverse Books:

“The reluctant hero is one of my favorite tropes…Something I really like about Maren is that even though she’s a homebody (a trait I borrowed from myself) and very hesitant to do anything to mess with the equilibrium of her life, she is determined to do what she feels is right…”

What made Maren such a fun protagonist to follow was not only that the book was told from her perspective, but through her eyes you sense a deep connection to the world she’s familiar with. This makes her discoveries about the world, unlocking a more confident side to herself, even development to the layers/different sides to the setting itself, feel lived in and expansive!

When prophetic seers of the emperor known as the Aurati visit Ilvera to offer prophetic advice and take another girl with them to be among their ranks, Maren is surprised and heartbroken to learn that Kaia’s been chosen. However, she wastes no time setting out on a journey to find her!

With her parents support, Maren sets out on her adventure which leads to a position at an Empire fortress, where they have dragons! Her plan is to essentially find a suitable dragon and use it to break into the Aurati’s fortress to get Kaia back.

But during her time there, she realizes she needs to fit in. A cousin of her father luckily has a job for her, food taster! This gets her noticed by Neve, who’s the lead Aromatory. From there, she learns more about what it takes to train a dragon through the use of oils and how they impact dragons in different ways.

Maren and her nation of Verran’s have a history that has rooted them dragons. So, throughout her journey she tries to better understand her Dragon Dreams that show her Kaia and the Aurati’s that have her. The dragon lore, much like the world-building in this novel as a whole, is presented in different ways that provide layers and new perspectives to the world as a whole through Maren as she continues on her journey.

Verran’s cultural ties to dragons, ways of the aromatory, dragons roles and positions under the Zefedi empire, the dragon guard known as Talons, even what it takes to care for a dragon are all explored throughout different moments of the story! It’s in Maren’s  personal narrative that she learns more about dragons as a whole and discovers a newfound appreciation for more beyond her personal quest!

As Maren works in the fortress she meets guards (Lilin & Sev) that help her better learn about the Zefedi empire and open her eyes to different parts of her world she never really understood, all while she’s trying to keep her plan under wraps! While I really loved this section of the book looking back (because I’m fascinated by politics in fantasy), it really did take up a big chunk of the story. It felt like the urgency of the conflict slowed down. But I will say there’s so much she learns during her time there that REALLY becomes important later on in the story.

Following Maren Vilna’s perspective allowed me to feel such a deeper connection to the world and the people she’s close to― I never felt distant to the world, Maren’s discoveries just made me feel even more connected to it because different sides are explored throughout the story! She never thought she’d have to know about her Empire in such a way (with talks of a rebellion & lost prince), but the journey she embarks on really changes her perspective. Another important piece to her as a character is her personal growth! She learns to value more than just her personal mission and realize her own potential as well!

Neve, Maren’s Aromatory mentor was my favorite character! Maybe it’s because I’m no longer a teen and just felt even more of a connection to her? I’m not sure, but you can tell there’s so much she knows not just about dragons and her role and what it means for the empire (which is permanent), but just life beyond the fortress and there’s a snark/jaded air to her that made her fun to learn about (I hope she makes a return in Storm The Earth).

There’s also Sev and Lilin who become Maren’s friends, much to her surprise! I loved their dynamic and also how Sev gets a bigger role in the story as it progresses! Sev is the one who opens Maren’s eyes to the treatment of dragons and how Maren can do more to change her perspective. He’s interested in Maren and can tell she’s hiding something, but either way their dynamic is great and I also loved his dynamic with Lilin!

Lilin is pretty much the opposite of Sev, where she doesn’t give much thought or question to her role as a Zefedi guard. I never realized that until I finished reading, but I loved how she reflected Sev and showed two different sides to those who work for the empire!

The cast was great! I felt they all really stood out no matter how little page time and I genuinely loved learning about each of them! Sev and Neve were 2 of my favorite characters!

Politics, intrigue and the development of the world (both setting & dragon lore) play a big part in the “Fortress” section of the book and really allowed me to get more immersed in the world little by little.

Next I wanted to discuss the representation throughout Shatter The Sky! Through the different cultures presented, you can really get an understanding as to how big and diverse this empire is! I’ve read and loved a lot of YA Fantasy, but I applaud this book for weaving in such a prominent inclusive representation in different ways: Within the Zefedi Empire we learn about its 5 nations, Ilvera (mountain nation), Oskiath (where Maren’s father was from before Ilvera), Seda Serat, & I think the other nation was Deletev (don’t quote me on that 😂).

Characters are described as having light & dark brown skin, women are in positions of power and there’s normalized Queer relationships & a character that uses “they/them” pronouns. This is a beautiful fantasy world that normalizes Queer rep. and showcases women across different roles in the empire, it was great to see those elements presented throughout the story!

Themes of family, loyalty, love, and strength of self are developed through Maren and her journey, which really come together as the story progresses (especially in regards to loyalty & self).

Next I wanted to discuss why I personally rated it 4 stars, but will I read the sequel? ABSOLUTELY! This world really grows on you and I felt such a connection to it and the main cast that I felt sad when I reached those last few pages! The ending leaves you feeling hopeful, but also scared for a particular character…won’t say who!

Though I absolutely love 1st person POVs, I felt that because we were in Maren’s head it did make the pacing feel slow (particularly in the Fortress sections) where there’s an urgency to her mission it really slows down. While I also got a great sense of the world by the end, I felt description wise there was a lot about the settings/different nations as a whole that could have been developed a bit more to differentiate them more in my mind.

Because this is an introduction to the world I felt there’s still more detail that could have been presented on through Maren’s perspective that tied in with the underlying politics, culture, and so on since she does quite a bit of traveling/journeying!

This is a quiet, slow, and unique fantasy that I recommend you try out! Trust me that the further you read and root yourself into the world, you’ll see how the plot threads get more interesting with each chapter!

The ending, especially with its characters, left me wanting more and I can’t wait to read Storm The Earth!

Shatter The Sky is character-driven, expansive YA Fantasy steeped in dragon lore, politics, diverse cultures, and a cast of fantastic characters! Rebecca Kim Wells’ debut is an underrated fantasy well worth your time!

2019 YA Books by Authors Of Color You May Have Missed!

Now that we’re well into 2020, I wanted to reflect on the wonderful Young Adult books written by authors of color that released in 2019!

With my first ever readathon, #QuietReadathon, well underway I thought it would be great to highlight 50+ YA books that may have gone under the radar! My readathon focuses on quiet/underrated books and not only does this list of reads by authors of color (many of which can fall into #OwnVoices) fit perfectly with some of the prompts, but I also wanted to recommend these titles because AOC’s are releasing phenomenal books and they should definitely be talked about!

From YA Contemporary to Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and much more, I’ve listed books by month & date! I hope you find more books for your TBR 📚📚🎉

Now, with SO many book releases having filled the bookshelves last year I may not have been able to list every single one, but I’ll leave additional links below. Also, let me know if you’ve read any of these or have any recommendations to share! 📚💖

January

Oh My Gods by Alexandra Sheppard
Release Date:
January 3, 2019

Summary: Life as a half-mortal teenager should be epic.
But, for Helen Thomas, it’s tragic.

She’s just moved in with her dorky dad and self-absorbed older siblings – who happen to be the ancient Greek gods, living incognito in London!

Between keeping her family’s true identities secret, trying to impress her new friends, and meeting an actually cute boy, Helen’s stress levels are higher than Mount Olympus.

Oh My Gods by Alexandra SheppardShe needs to rein in her chaotic family before they blow their cover AND her chances at a half-normal social life.

Or is Helen fated for an embarrassment of mythical proportions?

Black Enough edited by Ibi Zoboi
Release Date:
January 8, 2019

Summary: Black is…sisters navigating their relationship at summer camp in Portland, Oregon, as written by Renée Watson.

Black is…three friends walking back from the community pool talking about nothing and everything, in a story by Jason Reynolds.

Black is…Nic Stone’s high-class beauty dating a boy her momma would never approve of.

Black is…two girls kissing in Justina Ireland’s story set in Maryland.

Black is urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more—because there are countless ways to be Black enough.

Inventing Victoria by Tonya Bolden

Summary: As a young black woman in 1880s Savannah, Essie’s dreams are very much at odds with her reality. Ashamed of her beginnings, but unwilling to accept the path currently available to her, Essie is trapped between the life she has and the life she wants.

Until she meets a lady named Dorcas Vashon, the richest and most cultured black woman she’s ever encountered. When Dorcas makes Essie an offer she can’t refuse, she becomes Victoria. Transformed by a fine wardrobe, a classic education, and the rules of etiquette, Victoria is soon welcomed in the upper echelons of black society in Washington, D. C. But when the life she desires is finally within her grasp, Victoria must decide how much of herself she is truly willing to surrender.

The Girl King by Mimi Yu (TGK #1)
Release Date: January 8, 2019

Summary: Sisters Lu and Min have always known their places as the princesses of the Empire of the First Flame: assertive Lu, will be named her father’s heir and become the dynasty’s first female ruler, while timid Min will lead a quiet life in Lu’s shadow. Until their father names a new heir—their male cousin, Set.

Determined to reclaim her birthright, Lu goes in search of allies, leaving Min to face the volatile court alone. Lu soon crosses paths with Nokhai, the lone, unlikely survivor of a clan of nomadic wolf shapeshifters. Nok never learned to shift—or to trust for the empire that killed his family—but working with Lu might be the only way to unlock his true power.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani ChokshiAs Lu and Nok form a tenuous alliance, Min’s own power awakens, a forbidden magic that could secure Set’s reign . . . or allow her to claim the throne herself. But there can only be one emperor, and the sisters’ greatest enemy could very well be the other.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi (TGW #1)
Release Date: 
January 15, 2019

Summary: It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.

Firestarter by Tara Sim (Timekeeper #3)
Release Date: January 15, 2019

Summary: The crew of the Prometheus is intent on taking down the world’s clock towers so that time can run freely. Now captives, Colton, Daphne, and the others have a stark choice: join the Prometheus’s cause, or fight back in any small way they can and face the consequences. But Zavier, leader of the terrorists, has a bigger plan—to bring back the lost god of time.

As new threats emerge, loyalties must shift. No matter where the Prometheus goes—Prague, Austria, India—nowhere is safe, and every second ticks closer toward the eleventh hour. Walking the line between villainy and heroism, each will have to choose what’s most important: saving those you love at the expense of the many, or making impossible sacrifices for the sake of a better world.

Circle Of Shadows by Evelyn Skye (COS #1)
Release Date: January 22, 2019

Summary: Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied around his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.

As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging in the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark.

So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group. Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.

Spin by Lamar Giles
Release Date:
January 29, 2019

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Paris Secord’s (aka DJ ParSec) career–and life–has come to an untimely end, and the local music scene is reeling. No one is feeling the pain more than her shunned pre-fame best friend, Kya, and Paris’s chief groupie, Fuse. But suspicion trumps grief, and since each suspects the other of Paris’s murder, they’re locked in a high-stakes game of public accusations and sabotage.

Everyone in the ParSec Nation (DJ ParSec’s local media base)–including the killer–is content to watch it play out, until Kya and Fuse discover a secret: Paris was on the verge of major deal that would’ve catapulted her to superstar status on a Spin by Lamar Gilesnational level, leaving her old life (and old friends) behind. With the new info comes new motives. New suspects. And a fandom that shows its deadly side. As Kya and Fuse come closer to the twisted truth, the killer’s no longer amused. But murdering Paris was simple enough, so getting rid of her nobody-friends shouldn’t be an issue…

The Love & Lies Of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan
Release Date:
January 29, 2019

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, but lately she’s finding that harder and harder to do. She rolls her eyes instead of screaming when they blatantly favor her brother and she dresses conservatively at home, saving her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don’t know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech, where she can pursue her dream of becoming an engineer.

But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart. Her parents are devastated; being gay may as well be a death sentence in the Bengali community. They immediately whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Only through reading her grandmother’s old diary is Rukhsana able to gain some much needed perspective.

Rukhsana realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love, but can she do so without losing everyone and everything in her life?

February

Enchantée by Gita Trelease
Release Date:
February 5, 2019

Summary: When smallpox kills her parents, seventeen-year-old Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic–la magie ordinaire–Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

With the dark magic she learned from her mother, Camille transforms herself into ‘the Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. Her resentment of the rich at odds with the allure of glamour and excess, Camille is astonished to find that her would-be suitor Lazare, a handsome young inventor whom she thought shared her dreams of liberty, is also living a double life.

Enchantée by Gita TreleaseAs the Baroness de la Fontaine, Camille gambles at cards and flirts, desperate to maintain her place at court and keep herself and her sister off the streets. But la magie has its costs. When a scheming courtier blackmails her and Lazare’s affections shift, Camille loses control of her secrets. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose–love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, reality or la magie–before Paris burns.

The Weight Of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf
Release Date:
February 5, 2019

Summary: A music-loving teen with OCD does everything she can to find her way back to her mother during the historic race riots in 1969 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in this heart-pounding literary debut.

Melati Ahmad looks like your typical moviegoing, Beatles-obsessed sixteen-year-old. Unlike most other sixteen-year-olds though, Mel also believes that she harbors a djinn inside her, one who threatens her with horrific images of her mother’s death unless she adheres to an elaborate ritual of counting and tapping to keep him satisfied.

But there are things that Melati can’t protect her mother from. On the evening of May 13th, 1969, racial tensions in her home city of Kuala Lumpur boil over. The Chinese and Malays are at war, and Mel and her mother become separated by a city in flames.

With a 24-hour curfew in place and all lines of communication down, it will take the help of a Chinese boy named Vincent and all of the courage and grit in Melati’s arsenal to overcome the violence on the streets, her own prejudices, and her djinn’s surging power to make it back to the one person she can’t risk losing.

Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan
Release Date:
February 12, 2019

Summary: Jasmine and Chelsea are sick of the way women are treated even at their progressive NYC high school, so they decide to start a Women’s Rights Club. They post everything online—poems, essays, videos of Chelsea performing her poetry, and Jasmine’s response to the racial macroaggressions she experiences—and soon they go viral.

But with such positive support, the club is also targeted by online trolls. When things escalate, the principal shuts the club down. Jasmine and Chelsea will risk everything for their voices—and those of other young women—to be heard.

We Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia (WSTDOF #1)
Release Date:
February 26, 2019

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

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

We Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay MejiaAnd school couldn’t prepare her for the difficult choices she must make after graduation, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio.

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

The Beauty Of The Moment by Tanaz Bhathena
Release Date:
February 26, 2019

Summary: Susan is the new girl—she’s sharp and driven, and strives to meet her parents’ expectations of excellence. Malcolm is the bad boy—he started raising hell at age fifteen, after his mom died of cancer, and has had a reputation ever since.

Susan’s parents are on the verge of divorce. Malcolm’s dad is a known adulterer.

Susan hasn’t told anyone, but she wants to be an artist. Malcolm doesn’t know what he wants—until he meets her.

Love is messy and families are messier, but in spite of their burdens, Susan and Malcolm fall for each other. The ways they drift apart and come back together are testaments to family, culture, and being true to who you are.

March

Opposite Of Always by Justin A. Reynolds
Release Date: March 5, 2019

Summary: Jack Ellison King. King of Almost.

He almost made valedictorian.

He almost made varsity.

He almost got the girl . . .

When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack. Jack’s curse of almost is finally over.

But this love story is . . . complicated. It is an almost happily ever after. Because Kate dies. And their story should end there. Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Beautiful, radiant Kate. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind. Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do—and let go—to save the people he loves.

Dealing In Dreams by Lilliam Rivera
Release Date: March 5, 2019

Summary: At night, Las Mal Criadas own these streets.

Nalah leads the fiercest all-girl crew in Mega City. That role brings with it violent throw downs and access to the hottest boydega clubs, but the sixteen-year-old grows weary of the life. Her dream is to get off the streets and make a home in the exclusive Mega Towers, in which only a chosen few get to live. To make it to the Mega towers, Nalah must prove her loyalty to the city’s benevolent founder and Dealing In Dreams by Lilliam Riveracross the border in a search for a mysterious gang the Ashé Ryders. Led by a reluctant guide, Nalah battles other crews and her own doubts, but the closer she gets to her goal, the more she loses sight of everything—and everyone— she cares about.

Nalah must do the unspeakable to get what she wants—a place to call home. But is a home just where you live? Or who you choose to protect?

Barley Missing Everything by Matt Mendez
Release Date: March 5, 2019

Summary: Juan has plans. He’s going to get out of El Paso, Texas, on a basketball scholarship and make something of himself—or at least find something better than his mom Fabi’s cruddy apartment, her string of loser boyfriends, and a dead dad. Basketball is going to be his ticket out, his ticket up. He just needs to make it happen.

His best friend JD has plans, too. He’s going to be a filmmaker one day, like Quinten Tarantino or Guillermo del Toro (NOT Steven Spielberg). He’s got a camera and he’s got passion—what else could he need?

Fabi doesn’t have a plan anymore. When you get pregnant at sixteen and have been stuck bartending to make ends meet for the past seventeen years, you realize plans don’t always pan out, and that there some things you just can’t plan for…

Like Juan’s run-in with the police, like a sprained ankle, and a tanking math grade that will likely ruin his chance at a scholarship. Like JD causing the implosion of his family. Like letters from a man named Mando on death row. Like finding out this man could be the father your mother said was dead.

Soon Juan and JD are embarking on a Thelma and Louise­–like road trip to visit Mando. Juan will finally meet his dad, JD has a perfect subject for his documentary, and Fabi is desperate to stop them. But, as we already know, there are some things you just can’t plan for…

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl (TL8 #1)
Release Date:
March 5, 2019

Summary: Clover Martinez has always been a survivor, which is the only reason she isn’t among the dead when aliens invade and destroy Earth as she knows it.

When Clover hears an inexplicable radio message, she’s shocked to learn there are other survivors—and that they’re all at the former Area 51. When she arrives, she’s greeted by a band of misfits who call themselves The Last Teenagers on Earth.

Only they aren’t the ragtag group of heroes Clover was expecting. The group seems more interested in hiding than fighting back, and Clover starts to wonder if she was better off alone. But then she finds a hidden spaceship, and she doesn’t know what to believe…or who to trust.

Ruse by Cindy Pon (Want #2)
Release Date: March 12, 2019

Summary: Jason Zhou, his friends, and Daiyu are still recovering from the aftermath of bombing Jin Corp headquarters. But Jin, the ruthless billionaire and Daiyu’s father, is out for blood. When Lingyi goes to Shanghai to help Jany Tsai, a childhood acquaintance in trouble, she doesn’t expect Jin to be involved. And when Jin has Jany murdered and steals the tech she had refused to sell him, Lingyi is the only one who has access to the encrypted info, putting her own life in jeopardy.

Zhou doesn’t hesitate to fly to China to help Iris find Lingyi, even though he’s been estranged from his friends for months. But when Iris tells him he can’t tell Daiyu or trust her, he balks. The reunited group play a treacherous cat and mouse game in the labyrinthine streets of Shanghai, determined on taking back what Jin had stolen.

When Daiyu appears in Shanghai, Zhou is uncertain if it’s to confront him or in support of her father. Jin has proudly announced Daiyu will be by his side for the opening ceremony of Jin Tower, his first “vertical city.” And as hard as Zhou and his friends fight, Jin always gains the upper hand. Is this a game they can survive, much less win?

The Universal Laws Of Marco by Carmen Rodrigues
Release Date: March 19, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Weight Of Stars by K. Ancrum
Release Date:
March 19, 2019

Summary: Ryann Bird dreams of traveling across the stars. But a career in space isn’t an option for a girl who lives in a trailer park on the wrong side of town. So Ryann becomes her circumstances and settles for acting out and skipping school to hang out with her delinquent friends.

One day she meets Alexandria: a furious loner who spurns Ryann’s offer of friendship. After a horrific accident leaves Alexandria with a broken arm, the two misfits are brought together despite themselves—and Ryann learns her secret: Alexandria’s mother is an astronaut who volunteered for a one-way trip to the edge of the solar system.

Every night without fail, Alexandria waits to catch radio signals from her mother. And its up to Ryann to lift her onto the roof day after day until the silence between them grows into friendship, and eventually something more . . .

April

Descendant Of The Crane by Joan He
Release Date: April 9, 2019

Summary: Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own.

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death… because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can

Descendant Of The Crane by Joan He

trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

The Tiger At Midnight by Swati Teerdhala (TTAM #1)
Release Date:
April 23, 2019

Summary: Esha is a legend, but no one knows. It’s only in the shadows that she moonlights as the Viper, the rebels’ highly skilled assassin. She’s devoted her life to avenging what she lost in the royal coup, and now she’s been tasked with her most important mission to date: taking down the ruthless General Hotha.

Kunal has been a soldier since childhood, training morning and night to uphold the power of King Vardaan. His uncle, the general, has ensured that Kunal never strays from the path—even as a part of Kunal longs to join the outside world, which has been growing only more volatile.

Then Esha’s and Kunal’s paths cross—and an unimaginable chain of events unfolds. Both the Viper and the soldier think they’re calling the shots, but they’re not the only players moving the pieces. As the bonds that hold their land in order break down and the sins of the past meet the promise of a new future, both rebel and soldier must make unforgivable choices.

Love From A To Z by S.K. Ali
Release Date: April 30, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Then her path crosses with Adam’s.

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

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

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

Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…

Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

May

The Candle And The Flame by Nafiza Azad
Release Date:
May 14, 2019

Summary: Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population — except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, Noor is protected from the Shayateen by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, and by their commander, Zulfikar.

But when one of the most potent of the Ifrit dies, Fatima is changed in ways she cannot fathom, ways that scare even those who love her. Oud in hand, Fatima is drawn into the intrigues of the maharajah and his sister, the affairs of Zulfikar and the djinn, and the dangers of a magical battlefield.

Nocturna by Maya Motayne (A Forgery Of Magic #1)
Release Date: 
May 7, 2019

Summary: To Finn Voy, magic is two things: a knife to hold under the chin of anyone who crosses her…and a disguise she shrugs on as easily as others pull on cloaks.

As a talented faceshifter, it’s been years since Finn has seen her own face, and that’s exactly how she likes it. But when Finn gets caught by a powerful mobster, she’s forced into an impossible mission: steal a legendary treasure from Castallan’s royal palace or be stripped of her magic forever.

Nocturna by Maya MotayneAfter the murder of his older brother, Prince Alfehr is first in line for the Castallan throne. But Alfie can’t help but feel that he will never live up to his brother’s legacy. Riddled with grief, Alfie is obsessed with finding a way to bring his brother back, even if it means dabbling in forbidden magic.

But when Finn and Alfie’s fates collide, they accidentally unlock a terrible, ancient power—which, if not contained, will devour the world. And with Castallan’s fate in their hands, Alfie and Finn must race to vanquish what they have unleashed, even if it means facing the deepest darkness in their pasts.

Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno
Release Date:
May 14, 2019

Summary: Rosa Santos is cursed by the sea-at least, that’s what they say. Dating her is bad news, especially if you’re a boy with a boat.

But Rosa feels more caught than cursed. Caught between cultures and choices. Between her abuela, a beloved healer and pillar of their community, and her mother, an artist who crashes in and out of her life like a hurricane. Between Port Coral, the quirky South Florida town they call home, and Cuba, the island her abuela refuses to talk about.

As her college decision looms, Rosa collides – literally – with Alex Aquino, the mysterious boy with tattoos of the ocean whose family owns the marina. With her heart, her family, and her future on the line, can Rosa break a curse and find her place beyond the horizon?

There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon (WDMR #2)
Release Date: 
May 14, 2019

Summary: Ashish Patel didn’t know love could be so…sucky. After he’s dumped by his ex-girlfriend, his mojo goes AWOL. Even worse, his parents are annoyingly, smugly confident they could find him a better match. So, in a moment of weakness, Ash challenges them to set him up.

The Patels insist that Ashish date an Indian-American girl—under contract. Per subclause 1(a), he’ll be taking his date on “fun” excursions like visiting the Hindu temple and his eccentric Gita Auntie. Kill him now. How is this ever going to work?

Sweetie Nair is many things: a formidable track athlete who can outrun most people in California, a loyal friend, a shower-singing champion. Oh, and she’s also fat. To Sweetie’s traditional parents, this last detail is the kiss of death.

Sweetie loves her parents, but she’s so tired of being told she’s lacking because she’s fat. She decides it’s time to kick off the Sassy Sweetie Project, where she’ll show the world (and herself) what she’s really made of.

Ashish and Sweetie both have something to prove. But with each date they realize there’s an unexpected magic growing between them. Can they find their true selves without losing each other?

I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn
Release Date:
May 28, 2019

Summary: Kimi Nakamura loves a good fashion statement. She’s obsessed with transforming everyday ephemera into Kimi Originals: bold outfits that make her and her friends feel brave, fabulous, and like the Ultimate versions of themselves. But her mother sees this as a distraction from working on her portfolio paintings for the prestigious fine art academy where she’s been accepted for college. So when a surprise letter comes in the mail from Kimi’s estranged grandparents, inviting her to Kyoto for spring break, she seizes the opportunity to get away from the disaster of her life.

Let Me Hear A Rhyme by Tiffany D. JacksonWhen she arrives in Japan, she loses herself in Kyoto’s outdoor markets, art installations, and cherry blossom festival–and meets Akira, a cute med student who moonlights as a costumed mochi mascot. What begins as a trip to escape her problems quickly becomes a way for Kimi to learn more about the mother she left behind, and to figure out where her own heart lies.

Let Me Hear A Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson
Release Date:
May 21, 2019

Summary: In this standalone novel, Tiffany D. Jackson tells the story of three Brooklyn teens who plot to turn their murdered friend into a major rap star by pretending he is still alive.

Biggie Smalls was right. Things done changed. But that doesn’t mean that Quadir and Jarrell are okay letting their best friend Steph’s tracks lie forgotten in his bedroom after he’s killed—not when his beats could turn any Bed-Stuy corner into a celebration, not after years of having each other’s backs.

Enlisting the help of Steph’s younger sister, Jasmine, Quadir and Jarrell come up with a plan to promote Steph’s music under a new rap name: The Architect. Soon, everyone in Brooklyn is dancing to Steph’s voice. But then his mixtape catches the attention of a hotheaded music rep and—with just hours on the clock—the trio must race to prove Steph’s talent from beyond the grave.

Now, as the pressure—and danger—of keeping their secret grows, Quadir, Jarrell, and Jasmine are forced to confront the truth about what happened to Steph. Only each has something to hide. And with everything riding on Steph’s fame, together they need to decide what they stand for before they lose everything they’ve worked so hard to hold on to—including each other. 

Fake It Till You Break It by Jenn P. Nguyen
Release Date:
May 28, 2019

Summary: Mia and Jake have known each other their whole lives. They’ve endured summer vacations, Sunday brunches, even dentist visits together. Their mothers, who are best friends, are convinced that Mia and Jake would be the perfect couple, even though they can’t stand to be in the same room together.

After Mia’s mom turns away yet another cute boy, Mia and Jake decide they’ve have had enough. Together, they hatch a plan to get their moms off their backs. Permanently. All they have to do is pretend to date and then stage the worst breakup of all time—and then they’ll be free.

The only problem is, maybe Jake and Mia don’t hate each other as much as they once thought… 

The Voice In My Head by Dana L. Davis
Release Date: 
May 28, 2019

Summary: For Indigo Phillips, life has always been her and her identical twin—Violet. The perfectly dressed, gentle, popular sister. But now Violet is terminally ill and, in a few hours, plans to die on her own terms via medically assisted suicide. Even though she and Violet have drifted apart lately, Indigo doesn’t know how to face life without the only person who really understands her. Until suddenly she hears a mysterious voice claiming to be God, insisting that if she takes Violet to a remote rock formation in the Arizona desert, her sister will live.

Indigo is sure she’s losing it. But Violet agrees to go—if their incredibly dysfunctional family accompanies them on their trek from Seattle to Arizona. Indigo can barely be in the same zip code as her distant mother and controlling big sister, much less keep the peace on a road trip. Speaking her mind is the only way she can deal. But between facing senseless mishaps and strange lodgings, and meeting even stranger folks along the way, Indigo will learn shocking things about those she thought she knew too well. When a sequence of wrenching secrets detonates, Indigo must figure out how to come to terms with her sister, her family…and the voice in her head.

June

I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest
Release Date:
June 4, 2019

Summary: When Chloe Pierce’s mom forbids her to apply for a spot at the dance conservatory of her dreams, she devises a secret plan to drive two hundred miles to the nearest audition. But Chloe hits her first speed bump when her annoying neighbor Eli insists upon hitching a ride, threatening to tell Chloe’s mom if she leaves him and his smelly dog, Geezer, behind. So now Chloe’s chasing her ballet dreams down the east coast—two unwanted (but kinda cute) passengers in her car, butterflies in her stomach, and a really dope playlist on repeat.

I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest

Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal
Release Date:
June 4, 2019

Summary: Five friends cursed. Five deadly fates. Five nights of retribución.

If Lupe Dávila and Javier Utierre can survive each other’s company, together they can solve a series of grisly murders sweeping though Puerto Rico. But the clues lead them out of the real world and into the realm of myths and legends. And if they want to catch the killer, they’ll have to step into the shadows to see what’s lurking there—murderer, or monster?

If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann
Release Date:
June 4, 2019

Summary: High school finally behind her, Winnie is all set to attend college in the fall. But first she’s spending her summer days working at her granny’s diner and begins spending her midnights with Dallas—the boy she loves to hate and hates that she likes. Winnie lives in Misty Haven, a small town where secrets are impossible to keep—like when Winnie allegedly snaps on Dr. Skinner, which results in everyone feeling compelled to give her weight loss advice for her own good. Because they care that’s she’s “too fat.”

Winnie dreams of someday inheriting the diner—but it’ll go away if they can’t make money, and fast. Winnie has a solution—win a televised cooking competition and make bank. But Granny doesn’t want her to enter—so Winnie has to find a way around her formidable grandmother. Can she come out on top?

Virtually Yours by Sarvenaz Tash
Release Date:
June 4, 2019

Summary: Modern love plus online anonymity is a recipe for romantic disaster in this lighthearted new romance from the author of The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love.

How bad can one little virtual lie be?

NYU freshman Mariam Vakilian hasn’t dated anyone in five months, not since her high school sweetheart Caleb broke up with her. So, when she decides to take advantage of an expiring coupon and try out a new virtual reality dating service, it’s sort of a big deal.

It’s an even bigger deal when it chooses as one of her three matches none other than Caleb himself. That has to be a sign, right?

The Grief Keeper by Alexandra VillasanteExcept that her other match, Jeremy, just happens to be her new best friend IRL.

Mariam’s heart is telling her one thing, but the app is telling her another. So, which should she trust? Is all fair in modern love?

The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante
Release Date: June 4, 2019

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Marisol Morales and her little sister Gabi are detainees of the United States government. They were caught crossing the U.S. border, to escape the gang violence in their country after their brother was murdered. When Marisol learns that the old family friend who had offered them refuge in America has died and they are going to be sent home, they flee.

They hitchhike, snagging a ride with an unassuming woman who agrees to drive them to New Jersey, but when Marisol wakes up in D.C. she learns the woman is actually a government agent. Indranie Patel has a proposal for Marisol: she wants Marisol to be a Grief Keeper, someone who will take another’s grief into their body. It’s a dangerous experimental study, but if Marisol agrees she and Gabi will be allowed to stay in the United States. If the experiment fails the girls will be sent home, which is a death sentence. Things become more complicated when Marisol meets Rey, the wealthy daughter of a D.C. Senator, and the girl she’s helping to heal. Marisol likes Rey’s short hair and sarcastic attitude. But she didn’t expect the connection from their shared grief to erupt into a powerful love.

Suddenly being forced from the United States isn’t just a matter of life and death, but a matter of the heart.

Patron Saints Of Nothing by Randy Rinbay
Release Date:
June 18, 2019

Summary: A powerful coming-of-age story about grief, guilt, and the risks a Filipino-American teenager takes to uncover the truth about his cousin’s murder.

Jay Reguero plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story.

Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth — and the part he played in it.

July

The Best Lies by Sarah Lyu
Release Date:
July 2, 2019

Summary: Remy Tsai used to know how her story would turn out. But now, she doesn’t even know what tomorrow will look like.

She was happy once. Remy had her boyfriend Jack, and Elise, her best friend—her soulmate—who understood her better than anyone else in the world.

But now Jack is dead, shot through the chest—

And it was Elise who pulled the trigger.

Was it self-defense? Or something deeper, darker than anything Remy could have imagined? As the police investigate, Remy does the same, sifting through her own memories, looking for a scrap of truth that could save the friendship that means everything to her.

Symptoms Of A Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra
Release Date:
July 2, 2019

Summary: Fresh from med school, sixteen-year-old medical prodigy Saira arrives for her first day at her new job: treating children with cancer. She’s always had to balance family and friendships with her celebrity as the Girl Genius―but she’s never had to prove herself to skeptical adult co-workers while adjusting to real life-and-death stakes. And working in the same hospital as her mother certainly isn’t making things any easier.

But life gets complicated when Saira finds herself falling in love with a patient: a cute teen boy who’s been diagnosed with cancer. And when she risks her brand new career to try to improve his chances, it could cost her everything.

It turns out “heartbreak” is the one thing she still doesn’t know how to treat.

Spin The Dawn by Elizabeth Lim (The Blood Of Stars #1)
Release Date:
July 9, 2019

Summary: Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Truly Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud
Release Date:
July 30, 2019

Summary: Fiercely independent and smart, Zora Emerson wants to change the world. She’s excited to be attending a prestigious summer program, even if she feels out of place among her privileged, mostly white classmates. So she’s definitely not expecting to feel a connection to Owen, who’s an actual prince of an island off the coast of England. But Owen is funny, charming…and undeniably cute. Zora can’t ignore the chemistry between them.

When Owen invites Zora to be his date at his big brother’s big royal wedding, Zora is suddenly thrust into the spotlight, along with her family and friends. Everyone is talking about her, in real life and online, and while Owen is used to the scrutiny, Zora’s not sure it’s something she can live with. Can she maintain her sense of self while moving between two very different worlds? And can her feelings for Owen survive and thrive in the midst of the crazy?

Shatter The Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells
Release Date:
July 30, 2019

Summary: Raised among the ruins of a conquered mountain nation, Maren dreams only of sharing a quiet life with her girlfriend Kaia—until the day Kaia is abducted by the Aurati, prophetic agents of the emperor, and forced to join their ranks. Desperate to save her, Maren hatches a plan to steal one of the emperor’s coveted dragons and storm the Aurati stronghold.

If Maren is to have any hope of succeeding, she must become an apprentice to the Aromatory—the emperor’s mysterious dragon trainer. But Maren is unprepared for the dangerous secrets she uncovers: rumors of a lost prince, a brewing rebellion, and a prophecy that threatens to shatter the empire itself. Not to mention the strange dreams she’s been having about a beast deep underground…

With time running out, can Maren survive long enough to rescue Kaia from impending death? Or could it be that Maren is destined for something greater than she could have ever imagined?

August

The Surprising Power Of A Good Dumpling by Wai Chim
Release Date:
August 5, 2019

Summary: Anna Chiu has her hands pretty full looking after her brother and sister and helping out at her dad’s restaurant, all while her mum stays in bed. Dad’s new delivery boy, Rory, is a welcome distraction and even though she knows that things aren’t right at home, she’s starting to feel like she could just be a normal teen.

But when Mum finally gets out of bed, things go from bad to worse. And as Mum’s condition worsens, Anna and her family question everything they understand about themselves and each other.

A nourishing tale about the crevices of culture, mental wellness and family, and the surprising power of a good dumpling.

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee
Release Date: August 13, 2019

Summary: By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender.

While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light.

Color Me In by Natasha Díaz
Release Date: August 20, 2019

Summary: Who is Nevaeh Levitz?

Growing up in an affluent suburb of New York City, sixteen-year-old Nevaeh Levitz never thought much about her biracial roots. When her Black mom and Jewish dad split up, she relocates to her mom’s family home in Harlem and is forced to confront her identity for the first time.

Nevaeh wants to get to know her extended family, but one of her cousins can’t stand that Nevaeh, who inadvertently passes as white, is too privileged, pampered, and selfish to relate to the injustices they face on a daily basis as African Americans. In the midst of attempting to blend their families, Nevaeh’s dad decides that she should have a belated bat mitzvah instead of a sweet sixteen, which guarantees social humiliation at her posh private school. Even with the push and pull of her two cultures, Nevaeh does what she’s always done when life gets complicated: she stays silent.

Color Me In by Natasha DiazIt’s only when Nevaeh stumbles upon a secret from her mom’s past, finds herself falling in love, and sees firsthand the prejudice her family faces that she begins to realize she has a voice. And she has choices. Will she continue to let circumstances dictate her path? Or will she find power in herself and decide once and for all who and where she is meant to be?

The Revolution Of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert
Release Date: August 20, 2019

Summary: Dove “Birdie” Randolph works hard to be the perfect daughter and follow the path her parents have laid out for her: She quit playing her beloved soccer, she keeps her nose buried in textbooks, and she’s on track to finish high school at the top of her class. But then Birdie falls hard for Booker, a sweet boy with a troubled past…whom she knows her parents will never approve of.

When her estranged aunt Carlene returns to Chicago and moves into the family’s apartment above their hair salon, Birdie notices the tension building at home. Carlene is sweet, friendly, and open-minded–she’s also spent decades in and out of treatment facilities for addiction. As Birdie becomes closer to both Booker and Carlene, she yearns to spread her wings. But when long-buried secrets rise to the surface, everything she’s known to be true is turned upside down.

Song Of The Abyss by Makiia Lucier
Release Date: August 27, 2019

Summary: As the granddaughter of a famed navigator, seventeen-year-old Reyna has always lived life on her own terms, despite those who say a girl could never be an explorer for the royal house of St. John del Mar. She is determined to prove them wrong, and as she returns home after a year-long expedition, she knows her dream is within reach. No longer an apprentice, instead: Reyna, Master Explorer.

But when menacing raiders attack her ship, those dreams are pushed aside. Reyna’s escape is both desperate and dangerous, and when next she sees her ship, a mystery rises from the deep. The sailors–her captain, her countrymen–have vanished. To find them, Reyna must use every resource at her disposal . . . including placing her trust in a handsome prince from a rival kingdom.

Together they uncover a disturbing truth. The attack was no isolated incident. Troubling signs point to a shadowy kingdom in the north, and for once, the rulers of the Sea of Magdalen agree: something must be done. But can Reyna be brave enough to find a way?

September

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite
Release Date:
September 3, 2019

Summary: When a school presentation goes very wrong, Alaine Beauparlant finds herself suspended, shipped off to Haiti and writing the report of a lifetime…

You might ask the obvious question: What do I, a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything?

Actually, a lot.

Thanks to “the incident” (don’t ask), I’m spending the next two months doing what my school is calling a “spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. I’m toiling away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle at her new nonprofit. And my lean-in queen of a mother is even here to make sure I do things right. Or she might just be lying low to dodge the media sharks after a much more public incident of her own…and to hide a rather devastating secret.

The Truth Is by NoNieqa RamosAll things considered, there are some pretty nice perks…like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with my mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. I’m even exploring my family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse.

You know, typical drama. But it’s nothing I can’t handle.

The Truth Is by NoNieqa Ramos
Release Date: September 3, 2019

Summary: A powerful exploration of love, identity, and self-worth through the eyes of a fierce, questioning Puerto Rican teen.

Fifteen-year-old Verdad doesn’t think she has time for love. She’s still struggling to process the recent death of her best friend, Blanca; dealing with the high expectations of her hardworking Puerto Rican mother and the absence of her remarried father; and keeping everyone at a distance. But when she meets Danny, a new guy at school–who happens to be trans–all bets are off. Verdad suddenly has to deal with her mother’s disapproval of her relationship with Danny as well as her own prejudices and questions about her identity, and Danny himself, who is comfortable in his skin but keeping plenty of other secrets.

Kingdom Of Souls by Rena Barron (KOS #1)
Release Date: September 3, 2019

Summary: THERE’S MAGIC IN HER BLOOD.

Arrah is a young woman from a long line of the most powerful witch doctors in the land. But she fails at magic, fails to call upon the ancestors and can’t even cast the simplest curse.

Shame and disappointment dog her.

When strange premonitions befall her family and children in the kingdom begin to disappear, Arrah undergoes the dangerous and scorned process of selling years of her life for magic. This borrowed power reveals a nightmarish betrayal and a danger beyond what she could have imagined. Now Arrah must find a way to master magic, or at least buy it, in order to save herself and everything she holds dear.

Eclipse The Skies by Maura Milan (Ignite The Stars #2)
Release Date: September 3, 2019

Summary: Ia Cōcha never thought she’d be working for the Olympus Commonwealth. But that was before she found out her trusted brother Einn was trying to tear apart the universe. Now, Ia, the Blood Wolf of the Skies, has agreed to help the Royal Star Force on one condition: when she finds him, she gets to kill Einn herself.

Brinn Tarver has just come to terms with her Tawny identity when the public lashes out against her people, crushing her family. At her breaking point, she starts to question everything she believes in—including Ia.

A Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini BajpaiAfter the death of his mentor, Knives Adams is doing his best to live up to a role he didn’t ask for as Aphelion’s new headmaster. Still, with each new step deeper into war, he feels torn between his duties and the pull of Ia’s radical—sometimes criminal—ideas.

A Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai
Release Date: September 10, 2019

Summary: Fifteen-year-old Simran “Simi” Sangha comes from a long line of Indian vichole-matchmakers-with a rich history for helping parents find good matches for their grown children. When Simi accidentally sets up her cousin and a soon-to-be lawyer, her family is thrilled that she has the “gift.”

But Simi is an artist, and she doesn’t want to have anything to do with relationships, helicopter parents, and family drama. That is, until she realizes this might be just the thing to improve her and her best friend Noah’s social status. Armed with her family’s ancient guide to finding love, Simi starts a matchmaking service-via an app, of course.

But when she helps connect a wallflower of a girl with the star of the boys’ soccer team, she turns the high school hierarchy topsy-turvy, soon making herself public enemy number one.

How To Be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters
Release Date:
September 10, 2019

Summary: Everyone on campus knows Remy Cameron. He’s the out-and-gay, super-likable guy that people admire for his confidence. The only person who may not know Remy that well is Remy himself.

So when he is assigned to write an essay describing himself, he goes on a journey to reconcile the labels that people have attached to him, and get to know the real Remy Cameron.

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
Release Date: September 10, 2019

Summary: Pet is here to hunt a monster.
Are you brave enough to look?

There are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. With doting parents and a best friend named Redemption, Jam has grown up with this lesson all her life. But when she meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colours and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told.

The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question-How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

The Deathless Girlsby Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Release Date:
September 19, 2019

Summary: They say the thirst of blood is like a madness – they must sate it. Even with their own kin.

On the eve of her divining, the day she’ll discover her fate, seventeen-year-old Lil and her twin sister Kizzy are captured and enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar, taken far away from their beloved traveller community.

Forced to work in the harsh and unwelcoming castle kitchens, Lil is comforted when she meets Mira, a fellow slave who she feels drawn to in a way she doesn’t understand. But she also learns about the Dragon, a mysterious and terrifying figure of myth and legend who takes girls as gifts.

They may not have had their divining day, but the girls will still discover their fate…

The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring
Release Date: September 24, 2019

Summary: At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi—a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother—it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.

Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house—despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored.

The Tenth Girl by Sara FaringOne of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi’s existence. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery—and then fight for her life.

Slay by Brittney Morris
Release Date: September 24, 2019

Summary: By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy. But at home, she joins hundreds of thousands of Black gamers who duel worldwide as Nubian personas in the secret multiplayer online role-playing card game, SLAY. No one knows Kiera is the game developer, not her friends, her family, not even her boyfriend, Malcolm, who believes video games are partially responsible for the “downfall of the Black man.”

But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, news of the game reaches mainstream media, and SLAY is labeled a racist, exclusionist, violent hub for thugs and criminals. Even worse, an anonymous troll infiltrates the game, threatening to sue Kiera for “anti-white discrimination.”

Driven to save the only world in which she can be herself, Kiera must preserve her secret identity and harness what it means to be unapologetically Black in a world intimidated by Blackness. But can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?

October

Rogue Heart by Axie Oh (Rebel Seoul #2)
Release Date: October 8, 2019

Summary: NEO BEIJING, 2201. Two years after the Battle of Neo Seoul, eighteen-year-old telepath Ama works by day in a cafe and moonlights as a lounge singer in a smoky bar at night. She’s anonymous, she’s safe from the seemingly never-ending war, and that’s how she’d like to stay. But then PHNX, a resistance group specializing in espionage and covert missions, approaches her with an offer to expose a government experiment exactly like the one she fled. Soon, Ama is traveling with PHNX on a series of dangerous assignments, using her telepathic powers to aid the rebellion against the authoritarian Alliance.

As the war ramps up, PHNX is given its most dangerous mission yet: to infiltrate the base of the Alliance’s new war commander, a young man rumored to have no fear of death. But when Ama sees the commander for the first time, she discovers his identity: Alex Kim, the boy she once loved and who betrayed her.

Now, Ama must use her telepathic abilities to pose as an officer in Alex’s elite guard, manipulating Alex’s mind so that he doesn’t recognize her. As the final battle approaches, Ama struggles with her mission and her feelings for Alex. Will she be able to carry out her task? Or will she give up everything for Alex again—only to be betrayed once more?

Rebel Heart by Axie Oh

A Kingdom For A Stage by Heidi Heilig (For A Muse Of Fire #2)
Release Date: October 8, 2019

Summary: Jetta is a prisoner. A prisoner of the armee, a prisoner of fate, and a prisoner of her own madness. Held captive in Hell’s Court—now the workshop of Theodora, the armee engineer and future queen of Chakrana—Jetta knows she needs to escape. But Theodora has the most tempting bait—a daily dose of a medication that treats Jetta’s madness.

But the cost is high. In exchange, Jetta must use her power over dead spirits to trap their souls into flying machines—ones armed with enough firepower to destroy every village in Chakrana. And Theodora and her armee also control Le Trépas—a terrifying necromancer who once had all of Chakrana under his thumb, and Jetta’s biological father. Jetta fears the more she uses her powers, the more she will be like Le Trépas—especially now that she has brought her brother, Akra, back from the dead.

Jetta knows Le Trépas can’t be trusted. But when Akra teams up with Leo, the handsome smuggler who abandoned her, to pull off an incredible escape, they insist on bringing the necromancer along. The rebels are eager to use Le Trépas’s and Jetta’s combined magic against the invading colonists. Soon Jetta will face the choice between saving all of Chakrana or becoming like her father, and she isn’t sure which she’ll choose.

The Library Of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey
Release Date: October 8, 2019

Summary: From the moment she first learned to read, literary genius Darcy Wells has spent most of her time living in the worlds of her books. There, she can avoid the crushing reality of her mother’s hoarding and pretend her life is simply ordinary. But when a new property manager becomes more active in the upkeep of their apartment complex, the only home Darcy has ever known outside of her books suddenly hangs in the balance.

While Darcy is struggling to survive beneath the weight of her mother’s compulsive shopping, Asher Fleet, a former teen pilot with an unexpectedly shattered future, walks into the bookstore where she works…and straight into her heart. For the first time in her life, Darcy can’t seem to find the right words. Fairy tales are one thing, but real love makes her want to hide inside her carefully constructed ink-and-paper bomb shelter.

Still, after spending her whole life keeping people out, something about Asher makes Darcy want to open up. But securing her own happily-ever-after will mean she’ll need to stop hiding and start living her own truth—even if it’s messy.

Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao
Release Date: October 15, 2019

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Ali Chu knows that as the only Asian person at her school in middle-of-nowhere Indiana, she must be bland as white toast to survive. This means swapping her congee lunch for PB&Js, ignoring the clueless racism from her classmates and teachers, and keeping her mouth shut when people wrongly call her Allie instead of her actual name, Ah-lee, after the mountain in Taiwan.

Her autopilot existence is disrupted when she finds out that Chase Yu, the new kid in school, is also Taiwanese. Despite some initial resistance due to the they belong together whispers, Ali and Chase soon spark a chemistry rooted in competitive martial arts, joking in two languages, and, most importantly, pushing back against the discrimination they face.

But when Ali’s mom finds out about the relationship, she forces Ali to end it. As Ali covertly digs into the why behind her mother’s disapproval, she uncovers secrets about her family and Chase that force her to question everything she thought she knew about life, love, and her unknowable future.

The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco (TNTW #1)
Release Date: October 15, 2019

Summary: Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by an unrelenting sun.

While one sister rules Aranth—a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wracked sea —her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal.

But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses —along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and a mouthy desert scavenger —set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.

I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi
Release Date: October 22, 2019

Summary: News stations across the country are reporting mysterious messages that Earth has been receiving from a planet—Alma—claiming to be its creator. If they’re being interpreted correctly, in seven days Alma will hit the kill switch on their “colony” Earth.

True or not, for teenagers Jesse Hewitt, Cate Collins, and Adeem Khan, the prospect of this ticking time bomb will change their lives forever.

Jesse, who has been dealt one bad blow after another, wonders if it even matters what happens to the world. Cate, on the other hand, is desperate to use this time to find the father she never met. And Adeem, who hasn’t spoken to his estranged sister in years, must find out if he has it in him to forgive her for leaving.

With only a week to face their truths and right their wrongs, Jesse, Cate, and Adeem’s paths collide as their worlds are pulled apart.

The Light At The Bottom Of The World by London Shah (Light The Abyss #1)
Release Date:
October 29, 2019

Summary: At the end of the twenty-first century, the world has changed dramatically, but life continues one thousand feet below the ocean’s surface. In Great Britain, sea creatures swim among the ruins of Big Ben and the Tower of London, and citizens waver between fear and hope; fear of what lurks in the abyss, and hope that humanity will soon discover a way to reclaim the Earth.

Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old Leyla McQueen has her own problems to deal with. Her father’s been arrested, accused of taking advantage of victims of the Seasickness-a debilitating malaise that consumes people,often claiming their lives. But Leyla knows he’s innocent, and all she’s interested in is getting him back so that their lives can return to normal.

When she’s picked to race in the action-packed London Submersible Marathon, Leyla gets the chance to secure his freedom; the Prime Minister promises the champion whatever their heart desires. The race takes an unexpected turn, though, and presents her with an opportunity she never wanted: Leyla must venture outside of London for the first time in her life, to find and rescue her father herself.

The Light At The Bottom Of The World by London ShahNow, she’ll have to brave the unfathomable waters and defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, all the while dealing with a secretive, hotheaded companion she never asked for in the first place. If she fails, or falls prey to her own fears, she risks capture–and her father might be lost forever.

A River Of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy (ARORB #1)
Release Date: October 29, 2019

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Eva is a princess, born with the magick of marrow and blood–a dark and terrible magick that hasn’t been seen for generations in the vibrant but fractured country of Myre. Its last known practitioner was Queen Raina, who toppled the native khimaer royalty and massacred thousands, including her own sister, eight generations ago, thus beginning the Rival Heir tradition. Living in Raina’s long and dark shadow, Eva must now face her older sister, Isa, in a battle to the death if she hopes to ascend to the Ivory Throne–because in the Queendom of Myre only the strongest, most ruthless rulers survive.

When Eva is attacked by an assassin just weeks before the battle with her sister, she discovers there is more to the attempt on her life than meets the eye–and it isn’t just her sister who wants to see her dead. As tensions escalate, Eva is forced to turn to a fey instructor of mythic proportions and a mysterious and handsome khimaer prince for help in growing her magick into something to fear. Because despite the love she still has for her sister, Eva will have to choose: Isa’s death or her own.

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett
Release Date: October 29, 2019

Summary: Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.

Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real–shy kisses escalating into much more–she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. She knows she has to tell him that she’s positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she’s terrified of how he’ll react! And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too.

Simone’s first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on…

November

A Thousand Fires by Shannon Price
Release Date: November 5, 2019

Summary: 10 Years. 3 Gangs. 1 Girl’s Epic Quest…

Valerie Simons knows the city’s gang wars are dangerous—her own brother was killed by the Boars two years ago. But nothing will sway her from joining the elite and beautiful Herons to avenge his death—a death she feels responsible for.

Thousand Fires by Shannon PriceBut when Valerie is recruited by the mysterious Stags, their charismatic and volatile leader Jax promises to help her get revenge. Torn between old love and new loyalty, Valerie fights to stay alive as she races across the streets of San Francisco to finish the mission that got her into the gangs.

Song Of The Crimson Flower Julie C. Dao (Rise Of The Empress #2.5)
Release Date: November 5, 2019

Summary: Will love break the spell? After cruelly rejecting Bao, the poor physician’s apprentice who loves her, Lan, a wealthy nobleman’s daughter, regrets her actions. So when she finds Bao’s prized flute floating in his boat near her house, she takes it into her care, not knowing that his soul has been trapped inside it by an evil witch, who cursed Bao, telling him that only love will set him free. Though Bao now despises her, Lan vows to make amends and help break the spell.

Together, the two travel across the continent, finding themselves in the presence of greatness in the forms of the Great Forest’s Empress Jade and Commander Wei. They journey with Wei, getting tangled in the webs of war, blood magic, and romance along the way. Will Lan and Bao begin to break the spell that’s been placed upon them? Or will they be doomed to live out their lives with black magic running through their veins?

In this fantastical tale of darkness and love, some magical bonds are stronger than blood.

When The Stars Lead To You by Ronni Davis
Release Date: November 12, 2019

Summary: Eighteen-year-old Devon longs for two things.

The stars.
And the boy she fell in love with last summer.

When Ashton breaks Devon’s heart at the end of the most romantic and magical summer ever, she thinks her heart will never heal again. But over the course of the following year, Devon finds herself slowly putting the broken pieces back together.

Now it’s senior year, and she’s determined to enjoy every moment of it as she prepares for a future studying the galaxies. That is, until Ashton shows up on the first day of school. Can she forgive him and open her heart again? Or are they doomed to repeat history?

December

The Relic Spell by Jimena I. Novaro

The Relic Spell by Jimena I. Novaro (The Phyrian War Chronicles #1)
Release Date:
December 17, 2019

Summary: Magic rolls through Orion Tamura’s history classroom like a tidal wave of golden light that only he can see. The spell is deadly, and Orion has no idea who cast it or what they want.

Answers are scarce—all of Port Monica’s sorcerers vanished fourteen years before, including Orion’s father. Armed with his limited knowledge of magic, Orion is the only one left in the city who is strong enough to investigate the origins of the spell.

But the city’s leaders will stop at nothing to censor and sabotage anyone who gets close to the truth. Invisible otherworlders watch every move Orion and his friends make, and a mysterious sorcerer who knows the answers haunts Orion’s dreams.

Are there any books by AOC you feel people missed in 2019? Any other YA releases you recommend? 💖📚📚✨

Goodreads: 2019 YA/MG Books With POC Leads