We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez ARC Review

We Are Not From Here Jenny Torres SanchezWe Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Publisher: Philomel Books (Penguin Teen)

Release Date: May 19, 2020

Pages: 368 

Available Through The Book Depository: We Are Not From Here

Cover Illustration: Hazylle Cadungog

Summary: Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña have no false illusions about the town they’ve grown up in and the dangers that surround them. Though their families–both biological and found–create a warm community for them, threats lurk around every corner. And when those threats become all too real, the three teens know they have no choice but to run: for the border, for the hope of freedom, and for their very lives.

Crossing from Guatemala through Mexico with their eyes on the U.S. border, they follow the route of La Bestia, a system of trains that promise the hope of freedom–if they are lucky enough to survive the harrowing journey. With nothing but the bags on their backs and the desperation that courses through their very veins, Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña know that there’s no turning back, dangerous though the road ahead might be.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: We Are Not From Here is a must-read for 2020! Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña embark on perilous journey to the U.S./Mexico border. Told through an emotionally-gripping, poetic and character-driven narrative, Sanchez delivers a tale all too real that will stay with you long after the final page!

I’ll admit, it was when I finally reached the end of We Are Not From Here where I realized, moving and impactful books such as this one are incredibly difficult for me to review. How does one put into words how powerful a story is, especially when it reflects a reality for so many reaching the United States?

If you take away one thing from this review, aside from reading this novel it’s that this journey is happening every single day and this book while fictional, it details the truth for many seeking opportunity when journeying to the US (alongside the hardships that continue when they arrive).

Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña have lived in Puerto Barrios and have known each other practically their whole lives. However, they are aware of the possible dangers they can face when their paths cross with certain people in their community, like gang leader Rey.

Seventeen-year-old Pequeña at the start of the novel is having a child she doesn’t want and we soon learn it’s the child of Rey. While she has the support of her community (such as her mother and tias), when she learns of Rey’s proposal to marriage and starting a new life elsewhere, she realizes she’s trapped and there is no other option but to run.

The murder of local store owner Don Felicio spurs Pulga and Chico (both 15) into running as well when Rey coerces them into joining his group.

Pulga, carrying his walkman, that links to memories of his father, and years of information on how to reach the U.S. by riding a real life network of trains known as La Bestia, motivates Chico and Pequeña into understanding that that’s the only way they can start new.

The journey they undergo is brutal, not without hardship, it even changes their perception on their personal hopes, dreams, and visions of the future they seek. It’s an emotionally and physically enduring journey not only on the trains, but also as they cross, the thoughts of fear and uncertainty run through their mind as they take each step.

From the dangers of not securing themselves on the trains, to being robbed, running out of food/water, etc. Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña are met with struggles along the way, but also moments of kindness. It’s from fellow passengers, even shelter owners and members of local churches who provide them support along their journey. The power of kindness, compassion, and much more are beautifully highlighted into darkest moments of this novel.

Told through dual POV’s from Pulga and Pequeña, there’s just so much life, soul and history woven into our main cast that make them incredibly real. Sanchez’s writing is especially poetic and through Pequeña’s perspective, there’s even hints of magical realism that illustrate her want to escape the darkest and unhappiest of situations.

Their friendship, family dynamic and just reading about the deep connection they share with each other on this journey was just another one of the many highlights of the story.

Pulga is very much someone who is aware of the dangers the journey can bring and carries this evolving nature of solitude, mentioning its best that the 3 of them just focus on themselves. It brings moments of pain for each of them and seeing this evolve over the course of the story was painful to read.

While Chico is more of the hesitant one of the group, never letting go of the deep emotional parts of himself as he reminds Pulga of the connection and similar feelings other migrants such as themselves are surely facing too. Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña are the stars of this novel and its in their depth and core as characters that bring so much emotion, intensity, and so much more to this book.

This novel broke my heart in many ways, especially nearing the end, but underlying is such a prevalent theme of hope. The hope of dreams, the act of hoping itself, carries a lot of power that is not forgotten with each chapter. The storytelling is gripping and packed with so much emotion.

While this novel in no way reflects my family’s personal immigration story, it still connected to me in such a deep way as the main characters (and my family) are Guatemalan also. Novels such as We Are Not From Here highlight a truth which is that there’s numerous countries in Latin America with people immigrating to the United States, but its often only generalized to a few countries. That’s another vital part of what makes this novel so impactful.

This novel also reminded of a non-fiction book I read for one of my classes not too long ago called Enrique’s Journey. Its definitely a journalistic piece written more into a prose style, but a lot of what happens in that novel, alongside facts/figures are subtly woven into Sanchez’s novel as well.

The plot while mainly following their journey among each train and heading north, changes them little by little and your heart can’t help but hurt. However, at each turn they do their best to keep going. Its also a story as much internal as it is external.

While my 4 star rating is more reflected at how much this book got to me on such a deep level and the pain I felt while reading, its very much a YA book that deserves all the hype and recognition (its a 5-star reading experience). While I won’t spoil what happens at the end, it really hits you emotionally (after I finished I was just left so speechless).

We Are Not From Here is an unforgettable, powerful YA Contemporary that follows 3 Guatemalan teens on their journey to reach the U.S. Sanchez’s prose is moving and captivating! This is novel is masterfully crafted, emotional, and gripping story make this a must-read for 2020! 


🌿✨ Have you read We Are Not From Here? Are you planning on reading this novel? 🌿✨

Anna K. by Jenny Lee ARC Review

Anna K. by Jenny LeeAnna K.: A Love Story by Jenny Lee (Anna K. #1)

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Release Date: March 3, 2020

Pages: 400

Available For Preorder Through The Book Depository: Anna K.

Cover Design: Erin Fitzsimmons

Summary: Meet Anna K. At seventeen, she is at the top of Manhattan and Greenwich society (even if she prefers the company of her horses and Newfoundland dogs); she has the perfect (if perfectly boring) boyfriend, Alexander W.; and she has always made her Korean-American father proud (even if he can be a little controlling). Meanwhile, Anna’s brother, Steven, and his girlfriend, Lolly, are trying to weather an sexting scandal; Lolly’s little sister, Kimmie, is struggling to recalibrate to normal life after an injury derails her ice dancing career; and Steven’s best friend, Dustin, is madly (and one-sidedly) in love with Kimmie.

As her friends struggle with the pitfalls of ordinary teenage life, Anna always seems to be able to sail gracefully above it all. That is…until the night she meets Alexia “Count” Vronsky at Grand Central. A notorious playboy who has bounced around boarding schools and who lives for his own pleasure, Alexia is everything Anna is not. But he has never been in love until he meets Anna, and maybe she hasn’t, either. As Alexia and Anna are pulled irresistibly together, she has to decide how much of her life she is willing to let go for the chance to be with him. And when a shocking revelation threatens to shatter their relationship, she is forced to question if she has ever known herself at all.

*Received an unsolicited ARC from the publisher* *CW: drug use *

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Anna K. is a YA Contemporary debut that puts a dazzling spin on Anna Karenina! This modern-day retelling, follows a group of wealthy teens as they navigate relationships and the drama that encompasses their lives. Lee builds a realistic and diverse cast of characters, while also layering deeper themes and issues! 

From the very beginning, your introduced to a cast list of over 10 characters and although for me it seemed a bit intimidating at first, once you delve into the world of Anna K., you’ll see why this story just works so well being told from multiple POVs.

Let me tell you I was NOT expecting an ARC of this in the mail (so thanks so much to the publisher)! I’d been really looking forward to reading Anna K. after I’d seen its cover reveal last summer. There was just something about the glamour and intrigue of this modern look at Manhattan society that just had me wondering what was in-store for Anna K. and the rest of the crew!

Another thing, this is a modern-day of Anna Karenina and while I personally have never read it, I felt from what I do know about the story Lee did a fantastic job at really taking influences from the original, while making it completely her own. With the moments I felt aligned closely with Anna Karenina, I never felt taken out of the story either. (*I also recommend reading Jenny Lee’s beautiful author’s note at the end too!).

While Anna K. is our main character, the novel starts off with Lolly S. (17) and Steven K., Anna’s 18-year-old brother. With their anniversary shortly arriving, Lolly is thrilled! But, when she quickly learns Steven had been cheating on her, she’s rightfully furious.

Steven knows the only person who can attempt to reach Lolly is Anna K., but until she arrives we learn about Dustin L., Steven’s tutor, who’s an anxious, bookish kind of guy.

What made his character a nice contrast to others in our main cast, is that he’s not from the upper part of Manhattan society. He kind of acts as the level-headed one who helps out Steven, while also undergoing his own journey when he falls for Kimmie S., Lolly’s younger sister who’s going through some depression after getting injured and having to take a break from her professional ice skating.

The backstory is built mainly in the beginning of the story but there’s a lot of mystery to how it plays an important part in the novel. However, the further you read you better understand the history that all of these characters have and what ties them all together.

With so many POV’s, it was assumed that I might get kind of lost. But let me just say that the more pages that flew by, I absolutely fell in love with this flawed and very real cast! So much appreciation for Lee telling an expansive story through such distinct characters! The 3rd person perspective allowed for many layers/differing sides of these characters to be explored which added a unique depth to the world crafted in Anna K.!

As for other characters we also have Anna K.’s boyfriend Alexander W. & his sister Eleanor, Alexia Vronsky, known in their circle as a player and heartbreaker, and Beatrice D., Vronsky’s cousin.

Anna K. is the one in society who everyone sees as the perfect, flawless socialite of Greenwhich and Manhattan. She’s a skilled equestrian, has her college boyfriend Alexander, and has been fortunate enough to keep out of the internal drama that seems to plague much of her circle…however that’s about to change.

She meets Vronsky on her way to see Lolly and Steven at Grand Central and yet, the two seem to be instantly attracted to each other.

From there you see how threads of these characters connect, revealing their relationships, dynamics and secrets that they keep from each other. Lee really built the setting of upper society into a world of her own through its characters, their status, and the way they navigate their lives.

To me it felt like your not really supposed to agree with a lot of the drama, personalities and societal norms that goes on in their circle. So, I felt that’s what made me really immerse myself into characters worlds and their heads a lot more, because (at least from my perspective) your not really supposed to agree with a lot of what they get tangled up in. I loved that I didn’t always agree with these characters decisions, such as the status and enormous amount of privilege that they carry, seemingly unaware. Not always “liking” some of these characters made me connect to them on a much deeper level when you see how much baggage they carry and their attempts to change over the course of the story!

I won’t spoil what happens, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about Kimmie & Dustin in the beginning (Kimmie’s character, took a bit to get used to). I was surprised at how much their dynamic grew on me and I loved following both of their journeys!

The setting of this novel shows a world of opulence and privilege, where there’s this dual side filled with parties, drugs, and sex as the norm. When looking at it closer, I felt this story was essentially about wealthy teens, given little adult supervision, as they are left to grapple with complicated issues on their own.

From Anna’s perspective, hers is a journey to better understand what she wants out of life and figure out who she wants to become, as she navigates her relationship being with Vronsky, while not feeling ready to tell her distant boyfriend Alexander.

With the fact that Anna has never really involved herself in drama or gossip, there’s this urgency to her story that makes you understand her struggle to come to terms with her complicated love life. Through the worry of gossip, heightened expectations of her in society, and facing truths she isn’t even sure she’s ready to face…your rooting for Anna not only to figure it out, but learn what she’s looking for during this process. You also see how Vronsky changes as he realizes his feelings for Anna (though he has a lot to work on, you can still appreciate his growth).

I felt like Kimmie & Dustin’s relationship had a clear story arc that carries throughout the book which was so beautiful! Their story was one of healing, love, and friendship that gets developed through both perspectives.

There’s so many themes that I felt Lee layered through each of these characters from family to to privilege, love, loneliness, mental health/seeking therapy (beautifully explored through Kimmie’s POV!), and much more! It also challenges racism and double standards.

In regards to family you see these different sister and brother dynamics explored from Anna & Steven, including Kimmie & Lolly, also Dustin & Nicholas! Anna and Steven’s, in my opinion, was the more realistic and heartfelt. Through the obstacles they face, they are both there to uplift, help each other and have so much respect for one another― I can’t wait to see how their strong brother-sister dynamic is explored in future books!

I also felt that Dustin and Nicholas’s brother dynamic was explored so well and throughout the course of the story you see in the little moments they bond or remember when they were younger is what shows their love/care for each other. Throughout the novel, there’s a lot of flashbacks from their POVs that I felt their relationship had so much history to it. There was just something about how Lee layered their stories that made it really come to life.

I also loved how diverse this cast was: It mainly features Korean-American & biracial representation (Anna + her older brother Steven), Dustin, who’s Black, adopted & Jewish, and there’s there’s interracial couples! Anna K. also takes time to explore the Korean culture of the K. family from Anna’s perspective, Steven’s, and their parents.

Now onto more of the specifics that lowered my rating, though this book really left me feeling sad to say goodbye to these characters (& YES, I can’t wait for the sequel): First is the pacing! At first it was moving pretty quickly, but with so many detailed POVs it can’t help but be drawn out at points. I also wished there wasn’t *too much lingering on certain couples and their conflict, because it would have been much stronger to portray more personal, heartfelt development between them. For me personally, I felt the ending was a bit rushed, though I loved how it focused on Anna!

Anna K. is a modern-day retelling that at its core is about a group of teens trying to find happiness in their privileged, drama-filled lives! Featuring a diverse cast of characters, a variety of themes, this is a debut with a lot of hidden depth that subtly weaves itself into its pages! Lee’s retelling of Anna Karenina that hints at more to come!

The Mystwick School Of Musicraft by Jessica Khoury ARC Review

The Mystwick School Of Musicraft by Jessica KhouryThe Mystwick School Of Musicraft by Jessica Khoury

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Release Date: January 21, 2020

Pages: 368

Available Through The Book Depository: The Mystwick School Of Musicraft

Cover Design: Federica Frenna

Summary: Amelia Jones always dreamed of attending the Mystwick School of Musicraft, where the world’s most promising musicians learn to create magic. So when Amelia botches her audition, she thinks her dream has met an abrupt and humiliating end—until the school agrees to give her a trial period.

Amelia is determined to prove herself, vowing to do whatever it takes to become the perfect musician. Even if it means pretending to be someone she isn’t. Meanwhile, a mysterious storm is brewing that no one, not even the maestros at Mystwick, is prepared to contain. Can Amelia find the courage to be true to herself in time to save her beloved school from certain destruction?

My Rating: ★★★★☆ 

*Received an unsolicited ARC from the publisher* 

My Thoughts: The Mystwick School Of Musicraft is a charming middle grade that follows Amelia Jones when she attends her dream school of Mystwick to continue learning about creating magic through music! Khoury’s novel layers an intriguing magic system, delightful cast of characters, adventure, mystery, and ultimately delivers a vibrant character-driven tale!

I was not expecting to get an ARC of this in the mail, so when I did I was thrilled! I adore Khoury’s writing and the way she creates such unique worlds and memorable characters (such as those in The Forbidden Wish). Hers were some of the earlier YA Books I’d read before becoming a blogger and I was excited to have a chance to read Mystwick, her middle grade debut!

Allowing the story to be told from Amelia’s 1st person POV, you could sense with each page her unique voice/energy that presented a wonder, comedic tone, and fun delivery to such a fascinating story! Her vibrancy as a character shines through, bringing the story to life and you can’t help but want to keep turning the page (I mean not only does the book have such amazing chapter titles, but it also starts with her trying to charm a chicken!!).

On the day of her exam to get into Mystwick (a school for students who want to continue learning how to create magic through music), Amelia knows she still needs a bit of practice, but she quickly makes a new friend at auditions, Jai Kapoor! Loved how their friendship was really developed throughout the book.

Amelia’s audition doesn’t go as planned and her dreams to attend the magical school, start to feel further away! However, due to a mix up she’s given a trial period allowing her to stay. What I really appreciated about the story was how Khoury delivered a tale of growth as we see Amelia overcome this internal conflict, giving it her all to prove that she does belong! Even as she struggles to catch up with the more advanced students, while also keeping her “trial period” situation a secret, she still can’t help but feel even more distant.

Knowing that her (now deceased) mother attended many years ago, she continues to pursue her dream and it gives her the inspiration/motivation to continue to try and boost both her courage and confidence. It also was very interesting to explore the dynamic between Amelia, her grandmother (who’s now her guardian) and why Mystwick is such a tough topic between the 2 of them!

Also one of the even more intriguing parts of this novel was the element of mystery and how it seamlessly wove into the story as a whole.

If you love magical boarding school books, I recommend checking this one out. There’s always something fun to learn about or explore on the Mystwick campus. It also allowed for a lot of time to be spent with the world-building, character development, friendship, and overall magical atmosphere that beautifully weaves itself into our world.

For a standalone, there’s such a deep connection that I felt with the setting (maybe it was because I took my time to read it), but either way it feels incredibly expansive and tied to our world where there’s so much care and development put into it! If you love detailed magic systems, the world of Mystwick is great, there’s lots of explanation as to the different types of magic and instruments, musicians around the world, how the rules of Mystwick make the magic system feel so grand and much more!

Here were a couple of additional details that I wanted to highlight: Novices vs. Maestros, the colors that symbolize different types of magic, Spellstones (a store for magical music sheets), and how magicians can use magic for all sorts of things: Weather, nature, and almost anything else you can think of! *There’s also a sense of limitations to the magic which was explored as well. Also there’s some left unsaid when it comes to some of the magic, which leaves a lot to the imagination which I really appreciated.

A big focus of the plot not only follows Amelia’s daily school life at Mystwick (classes, practicing, trying to fit in with the students, including her roommate Hamako Bradshaw aka Darby), but also her attempts to solve a mystery as to who could be trying to sabotage her chances at staying! The different pockets of mystery become such big parts of the story that unravel throughout the book. It offers a lot to not only the story, but also the characters and their development.

The Mystwick school had a sense of legacy to it that was indescribable. Maybe it was the knowledge of the instructors, the structure to the rules that were laid out, the campus traditions and well-established buildings or perhaps it was the bits and pieces of knowledge we learn through Amelia over the course of the story. There’s an internal skill and strength that Amelia discovers is essential to her growth as a musician and I appreciated the slow progress of that journey.

There’s also a friend trio (what I thought was originally going to be a duo) which really grew on me throughout the book: Amelia, Jai, & Darby! Their dynamic and wacky adventures were so much fun to follow! There was also a good amount of page-time given for Amelia to interact more with other students of the campus–it was those kinds of moments that made Mystwick come to life.

However one of my personal gripes is that Amelia, Jai, & Darby’s friendship felt like it could have been a bigger part of the story too–it breaks off for a little, when a bit of drama/conflict happens throughout the book. I felt it would have shined much better if their friendship was given more page time to develop! But I also appreciated how this is a story about personal growth, hence a lot of internal page time/development with Amelia.

Family (legacy even), friendship, and personal growth were all big themes of this story and really shined through. Khoury really cemented those themes into the story and alongside the plot, were such shining moments of the book.

There’s also such a diverse cast (characters from around the world that attend Mystwick), even a side character mentioned to have a wheelchair. Overall you sense how inclusive the world is, with characters from different backgrounds, ages–even getting small glimpses as to how magic operates outside the US which was great!

There’s even illustrated pages throughout the novel, done by Federica Frenna (who also designed the cover) and it just adds a little something special to the already magical story!

Again while it seems that the story wraps up in a great way for a standalone with all the major plot threads tied up, there’s somethings left unsaid and some new threads included for a possible sequel? I’m not sure if that’s a plan, but I would ABSOLUTELY love another book set in this magical world! It really comes to life and once I reached that last page, I was sad to be leaving the wonderful world of Mystwick!

Also, I’ve heard the audiobook is fantastic! I’ve read that it even includes original compositions and orchestral music throughout the audio! I’m hoping to give it a listen!

The Mystwick School Of Musicraft is a charming middle grade fantasy which blends a character-driven tale with mystery, humor, and a delightful magic system sure to captivate! There’s a lot of depth to the world, its characters, alongside a tale about finding the confidence within yourself. This is a middle grade you don’t want to miss!

Woven In Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez ARC Review

Woven In Moonlight by Isabel IbañezWoven In Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez

Publisher: Page Street Kids

Release Date: January 7, 2020

Pages: 384

Available Through The Book Depository: Woven In Moonlight

Book Of The Month YA (January 2020 YA Pick)

Cover Design: Isabel Ibañez

Summary: Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge, and her rare ability to spin thread from moonlight.

When Atoc demands the real Condesa’s hand in marriage, it’s Ximena’s duty to go in her stead. She relishes the chance, as Illustrian spies have reported that Atoc’s no longer carrying his deadly relic. If Ximena can find it, she can return the true aristócrata to their rightful place.

She hunts for the relic, using her weaving ability to hide messages in tapestries for the resistance. But when a masked vigilante, a warm-hearted princess, and a thoughtful healer challenge Ximena, her mission becomes more complicated. There could be a way to overthrow the usurper without starting another war, but only if Ximena turns her back on revenge—and her Condesa.

*Received a print ARC from the publisher*

My Rating: ★★★★☆ 

My Thoughts: Woven In Moonlight is a Bolivian-inspired YA Fantasy that focuses on politics and history! Ximena is a stand-in for the Illustrian’s heir, whose on a mission to help her people and get Catalina on the throne. When Ximena’s role takes her deep into the palace of the Llacsans, she learns more about where she fits into this revolution and what her job as a decoy Condesa means for the future of Inkasisa! Ibañez’s standalone debut layers intricate politics, fascinating characters, and a vibrant, magical world inspired by Bolivian culture! 

I’d been looking forward to this debut for a couple years at this point and knowing it’s a Latinx YA Fantasy, I was even more hyped to read this book! Now that I’ve finally finished it, I wish I could go back and re-read it all over again!

Woven In Moonlight is a magical novel that’s deeply rooted in politics that’s explored through our introspective 1st person POV of Ximena Rojas!

Set in the country of Inkasisa, the Illustrians & Llacsans are battling over who will rule Inkasisa. The world itself is inspired by the author’s Bolivian culture! We follow Ximena, whose a stand-in for the Illustrian royal, Catalina! When the current ruler Atoc demands the Illustrian royal’s hand in marriage, Ximena has to go in her place.

It wouldn’t be a YA Fantasy novel without some magic, so early on in the novel we get beautifully written sentences that introduce the unique magic system!

“Illustris magic― magic from the heavens…manifests in different ways…” (9).

While there’s definitely a variety of abilities that are explained such as Moonsight, the ability to light darkened rooms, and reading fortunes through constellations, Ibañez beautifully described Ximena’s ability which allows her to create thread from moonlight!

There’s a deeply personal and introspective look into Ximena’s ability that you can sense through the lush, emotionally-driven descriptions. The reader really gets a sense of how this magic is so special to her! It’s also one of the more developed abilities we see throughout WIM and it was a lot of fun getting to explore the different facets to her magic from the thread to something very special that happens when she looks more closely at her woven tapestries!

As Ximena becomes immersed in the world of the Llacsans we delve even deeper into the politics, their royalty, and palace life. She’s on a mission to find the Estrella, which is an ancient relic that could give Illustrians a chance to reclaim their power. However, Ximena also has to make sure that her true identity is never found out.

Luckily, Ximena uses her ability to weave through moonlight as a way to hopefully keep in touch with the Illustrians and her closest friend Catalina. An important arc to her story and development is that throughout the novel, she learns more about the Llacsans of the palace, while also reflecting on these two sides of Inkasisa and where she fits in.

Throughout Woven In Moonlight as Ximena connects more with the Llacasan’s in the castillo like Rumi, Juan Carlos (his cousin), and the secretive princess Tamaya!

Ibañez’s writing perfectly balances the world, its layered politics, and the personal arcs of our main characters! Also woven into Ximena’s perspective is the Spanish language, weather and architecture, the most wonderful descriptions of Bolivian food, and focus on crafts such as textiles & weaving!

Some of the most memorable descriptions of this novel definitely included the delicious food and detail of Bolivian cuisine (which is mentioned in a glossary). I loved that they were often placed in quiet moments of the story when Ximena was planning or exploring the Cuidad Blanca!

I appreciated these descriptions so much because coming from a Latin American background, I felt such a deep connection to the world! There’s also deeply interwoven messages about identity, family, loss, revolution that are very clear from the start of the novel and become even more layered into the story as it progresses!

As mentioned before, the magic system was incredibly unique, especially Ximena’s ability and I appreciated how it was explored through the plot as Ximena finds a way to stay in contact with the resistance.

Just reading the descriptions of how she was weaving thread through moonlight were moving and beautifully explored why the art of crafts tied in so well with Ximena’s own personal journey to create something for herself!

While the magic itself is very light, I appreciated how it was a used more for developing the political layers of the story!

Identity was an important theme that I found was beautifully explored throughout WIM! Ximena was switched with Catalina 10 years ago when she joined the resistance and only a select few truly know that she’s a decoy. But it isn’t until she’s forced to go to Atoc’s palace where we see her skills as a decoy are truly tested. I found that Ximena’s new life in the palace forces her to confront who she really is and how her role as a decoy has made her realize she isn’t entirely sure where she fits in this revolution.

Through the use of a 1st person POV, the world of Inkasisa is painted through a unique lens where we really get a focus on politics and characters!

For me, I can often find it difficult to fully immerse myself in a world if the perspective is too driven by characters or internal emotion, but Ibañez delivered Ximena’s POV spectacularly!

I adored her narrative voice so much! Ximena is a fierce heroine who has lost a lot to the war between Illustrians & Llacsans that in realty has left her alone. Her parents died almost 10 years before and throughout the novel, she’s constantly confronted with losing those close to her! Ximena’s loneliness is present throughout the novel in distinct ways that really show how its such a vital piece to her as a character: her distance to others, how she navigates her role as Condesa while connecting with Llacsans at the palace, and how she grapples with the loss of people in her life that are like family to her!

I found that Ibañez deeply explored this element of loneliness through Ximena’s POV in such a subtle but impactful way! Ximena’s internal voice as we follow her journey is told through introspective and perceptive narrative that allows her to reflect on important choices she has to make when she begins to question her mission and how she can better help Inkasisa!

Also, what made this such a unique reading experience is that although, you go into YA Fantasy expecting epic adventure, constant action, etc. I appreciated that this was more of a slow-paced fantasy, but it really works because your able to be more rooted into the rich atmosphere and setting! So when there were big action scenes, they felt more impactful for sure!

The cast of characters were fantastic, there were always interesting dynamics to be explored throughout the story! I felt that there were many surprising sides to them that are developed throughout the novel and what made that fun was how they were perceived through Ximena’s POV. A vital thread that links all this together is Ximena’s duty to Catalina, her friend who is like a sister to her and what she’s willing to risk to get her on the throne. Their bond is incredibly important to her and alongside Ximena & Tamaya’s friendship, I adored the focus on female friendships in general throughout this novel! There’s also Rumi’s dynamic/friendship with Ximena and while I felt they could have had just a bit more page time together, it was really fun to read.

Some of my favorite characters include, the mysterious princess Tamaya, Rumi, and a mysterious vigilante known as El Lobo, who doesn’t side with either the Illustrians or Llacsans!

Ximena has grown up hearing stories about El Lobo who doesn’t really align with anyone, but fights for those who need it! She’s surprised to find him in a room of the castle one night when she’s trying to gather more intel on the Estrella, she runs into the famous vigilante! From the very beginning I loved their dynamic and how they become unlikely allies–there’s great banter between them and I loved the solving the mystery as to who he really was!

Next I wanted to discuss why I lowered my rating to 4 Stars: The plot itself continued to surprise me and I loved following Ximena’s journey. There’s tons of intrigue, mystery, and politics wrapped up into this story! However, there were moments I found the writing was very focused on Ximena’s internal POV. She really comes to life through a 1st person POV which is fantastic! But, because we’re really in her head and focus on a lot of internal/emotional dialogue, there were elements of the story could have been developed even more!

It felt like there were elements that could have been expanded on, because Ibañez made them such important and vital parts of the world itself! Such as the setting of Inkasisa, delving deeper into the history, and more interactions between the characters! I also felt the ending was a bit rushed, but left on a very real note that has me wanting more from the unique cast of characters!

With WIM being a standalone I definitely see there was a lot that Ibañez wanted to introduce in regards to Inkasisa’s setting, climate, culture, daily life, and history (which was fantastic 💞!!) I just wish there was even more exploration to all those wonderful elements!

Also as I’ve read other reviews about WIM from fellow Latinx bloggers, I wanted to highlight an important point that they’ve discussed, when it comes to how privilege was poorly handled through Ximena’s POV. These past few weeks have been hectic for me and as I read this book it really was just to escape into an immersive world, so with that said I personally had overlooked this element of the story! However, here are 2 wonderful bloggers whose reviews delve into how WIM handled colonization, privilege & how those discussions could have been improved! I recommend checking them out:

Cande from LatinxMagicbk & Alicia from AKernelOfNonsense

Woven In Moonlight is a delightful YA Fantasy that’s rooted in Bolivian culture and is deeply explored through the politics, world, and intriguing story that’s presented from Ximena’s wonderful POV! Ibañez ‘s debut is an immersive tale that delves deep into history and politics, while also being an action-packed, character-driven tale! This is a wonderful debut filled with surprises, set in a unique world that you want to keep exploring!

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WIM is one of 1 of 5 Young Adult choices for Book Of The Month YA in January! If your a new subscriber, click the link above or Here & use the promo code ‘NEWME’ to get your 1st box for $9.99!! 🎉📚

Blog Tour: Songs From The Deep by Kelly Powell {ARC Review}

Songs From The Deep by Kelly PowellSongs From The Deep by Kelly Powell

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon Teen)

Release Date: November 5, 2019

Pages: 304

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository: Songs From The Deep

Summary: The sea holds many secrets.

Moira Alexander has always been fascinated by the deadly sirens who lurk along the shores of her island town. Even though their haunting songs can lure anyone to a swift and watery grave, she gets as close to them as she can, playing her violin on the edge of the enchanted sea. When a young boy is found dead on the beach, the islanders assume that he’s one of the sirens’ victims. Moira isn’t so sure.

Certain that someone has framed the boy’s death as a siren attack, Moira convinces her childhood friend, the lighthouse keeper Jude Osric, to help her find the real killer, rekindling their friendship in the process. With townspeople itching to hunt the sirens down, and their own secrets threatening to unravel their fragile new alliance, Moira and Jude must race against time to stop the killer before it’s too late—for humans and sirens alike.

*Received ARC from the publisher as part of the blog tour*

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Songs From The Deep is an atmospheric murder-mystery debut, set on an island town surrounded by sirens! When everyone is convinced a murder was the work of sirens, violin-player Moira and lighthouse keeper Jude work together to solve the case! Moira’s atmospheric narrative voice delves deeply into the characters and lore of the town! Powell delivers a story about friendship and self-growth that will captivate you, as she weaves together a quiet, character-driven mystery led by a dynamic duo!

Songs From The Deep is a novel that just from the basics of the story alone, just had me incredibly excited to check it out! There’s an island town surrounded by sirens, a childhood friend duo teaming up to solve a murder mystery, and one is a violin player and the other a lighthouse keeper? I mean how cool does that sound?

Overall I had such a fun time reading this book because from the main characters, to the setting and intrigue of the mystery, it all leaves you wanting to know more! Moira and Jude  I felt I learned so much about them and their history, and there’s just such a unique energy to them that just made me so happy every time they were on-page together solving the case! I’ll tell you, I was heartbroken when I reached the end because, Moira and Jude were just wonderful characters to get to know and they really come to life in ways its difficult to explain.

The way Powell laid out the town of Twillengyle, you can sense the deep fog, hear the crash of beach waves, the eerie and overall, atmospheric feel of a town that’s filled with life through Moira’s elegantly constructed and first person POV!

According to her bio, Powell is interested in maritime history and nautical folklore. From the very first chapter, you can sense how those interests built into the world and the atmosphere, creating a setting so vivid and unique: from the element of sirens and their lore and overall just the way the town is described with the small details.

I’d definitely say this is a quiet YA Mystery, which makes it very character-driven, slow building, and incredibly introspective through 17-year old Moira Alexander’s POV. Because of that, you are left with a certain sense and perception of the town that creates a unique image in your mind. You are able to connect to characters very quickly as well, which makes the mystery such a fun ride as you gather more pieces with each turn of the page!

Moira plays the violin for the sirens that surround her island town, because she’s grown up, both learning and understanding them through her father, who was a well-known researcher of these mystical creatures (even according to the detective, he laid the foundation for a lot of the knowledge of sirens the town is now aware of). She knows these sirens are dangerous, but seems to understand them in ways that no one else does (not even her mother).

That’s something that really shines through her POV as well, just all the knowledge she has about the sirens and her town makes the mystery a lot of fun trying to piece together!

Later that same night she runs into her childhood friend, who she hasn’t spoken to in years, 19-year old Jude Osric. He warns Moira that there’s been a murder at the beach near his lighthouse and that it could be the work of sirens.

She is not convinced that her former violin student Connor Shehan, was killed by sirens. Moira’s grown up around them to learn the details about them only she can really notice, and is determined to prove it. When the local detectives Dale and Thackery. This leads her to journey’s across town piecing together clues and speaking with her local townsfolk, to gather as much as she can to build her case!

What I loved about Songs From The Deep so much was the fact that the rekindling friendship between Moira + Jude, even the ups and downs of navigating it, are such vital parts of the story!

We learn that Jude’s family (mother, father, & older sister) were taken by sirens when he was younger. He was left alone to look over the local lighthouse!

Slowly, Moira and Jude began to drift away and I loved how layered their history was as you uncover more about their deep friendship.

Powell’s debut is not just a murder mystery, it’s also about the characters (especially our main duo), the town and how siren’s are so deeply woven into its folklore, history, alongside the past of Moira and Jude’s families.

I fell in love with both Moira and Jude so much! Their dynamic is built on friendship and you see that although they grew up being the best of friends, it’s this murder-mystery that really brings them back together! Throughout the entirety of the book,  there’s a big emphasis on friendship and although there are some developing romantic moments, it progresses perfectly as they slowly build of their relationship.

Also, just as friends, they have such great chemistry and work together as such an incredible team! While there is a hint at romance, I appreciated that a good 98% of this book focuses on them as friends and their growth! The romance is really sweet too and I  never felt it took away from the story, it was developed so perfectly!

They have their ups and downs in the friendship for sure, where they have to confront truths about themselves in order to better understand just how much their friendship means to the both of them. Its through the little moments where they show their vulnerable sides, forgive, or ensure each other’s safety where you see how much they care!

A majority of this novel though, really focuses on Moira not only as she gathers clues, but also how us as readers learn more about her town and the people within it. For example, as she gathers more evidence she decides to talk to her former teacher Ms. Nell Bracken, who was Connor’s teacher too! There’s also local kids who knew her and Jude growing up, and the local detectives who work on the case!

I appreciated how there many interwoven details that influenced different layers of the story and our main characters. Such as Moira’s reasoning for keeping to herself until the mystery begins,  which was due to the passing of her father and the grief that came with that. There’s also a secret she kept from Jude, where in time she found it much easier for them to just drift apart, even how her grief played a part in her leaving the local music hall for years where she was a rising star.

Next I wanted to talk more about the setting! A main location of the story is Jude’s lighthouse, its where they meet up and hangout for a majority of the book. There’s so much history within it, how it ties into Jude’s family and Moira’s past when they used to hear legends and tales, and explore the beach together, its a place with a lot of history for them both. I loved how this was a place they could just feel comfortable and rekindle their friendship!

This is an interesting tidbit, but before going into the book and well within the first few chapters I was picturing a modern-day setting just with sirens. But, I learn very quickly when they mentioned telegraphs, this is NOT set in modern day. Its more of a historical urban fantasy-esque world and that was something that really surprised me 😂😅✨

When it comes to the town and sirens themselves, again there were just all these little details and the way the prose just captures the setting so well! For example, there’s a brief line about sea pink flowers that represent good luck or the legends that surrounded different things around town like a small well or the lighthouse! Even reading from Moira’s POV that shows the complexity to the sirens and how sympathetic she is towards them, compared to others that live in Twillengyle.

There were a couple critiques I did want to dive into that lowered my rating. First, I felt the build-up to the mystery was so fantastic and that’s what kept you reading however, when the reveal is finally introduced, I felt it concluded very briefly and while it did surprise me, I felt it could had further explanation as to the motives. Also, very minor but there were a couple more characters I felt could have had more page time to be developed!

I also really wish there could have been more plot points added to get more of Jude/Moira together and just getting more perspective of the town from Moira’s eyes, because I loved Powell’s writing so much!

Again, this is more of a personal preference, but the writing does deliver a slow, atmospheric pace to the story, but I think it worked well because your left knowing so much about the characters and world! I loved that a lot!

I’m also just left a mess of emotions because I felt the ending wrapped up really nicely and again, just emphasized that strong bond Moira and Jude have together! I would love to read more books with them together solving more mysteries or just delving more into the town itself!! I loved these 2 so much!! 💖💖 (keeping my fingers crossed 😭💖💙)

Songs From The Deep is a YA debut that delivers a quiet murder-mystery tale through an incredibly detailed and immersive writing-style! If your looking for a character-driven mystery, atmospheric writing, and a dynamic detective duo, this is a great book to pick up! Enchanting, immersive, and filled with mystery!!

The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen ARC Review

The Infinite Noise by Lauren ShippenThe Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen (The Bright Sessions #1)

Publisher: Tor Teen

Release Date: September 24, 2019

Pages: 336

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository: The Infinite Noise

Summary: Caleb Michaels is a sixteen-year-old champion running back. Other than that his life is pretty normal. But when Caleb starts experiencing mood swings that are out of the ordinary for even a teenager, his life moves beyond “typical.”

Caleb is an Atypical, an individual with enhanced abilities. Which sounds pretty cool except Caleb’s ability is extreme empathy—he feels the emotions of everyone around him. Being an empath in high school would be hard enough, but Caleb’s life becomes even more complicated when he keeps getting pulled into the emotional orbit of one of his classmates, Adam. Adam’s feelings are big and all-consuming, but they fit together with Caleb’s feelings in a way that he can’t quite understand.

Caleb’s therapist, Dr. Bright, encourages Caleb to explore this connection by befriending Adam. As he and Adam grow closer, Caleb learns more about his ability, himself, his therapist—who seems to know a lot more than she lets on—and just how dangerous being an Atypical can be.

*Relieved ARC via a book festival* *TW: brief mentions of self-harm & past attempts, bullying, & internal discussion of Depression*

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The Infinite Noise is an introspective and character-driven debut based on the fiction podcast, The Bright Sessions! Serving as both a companion for fans of the podcast and introduction, this YA Contemporary/Sci-fi debut sends readers on a deep and layered journey following the perspective of Caleb, star football player with the unique power of extreme empathy and Adam, a lonely classmate who helps Caleb find anchor in the rough wave of high school emotions! The Infinite Noise for fans of the podcast is no doubt an absolute treat, while offering moments of both joy & nostalgia being able to revisit two beloved characters from The Bright Sessions universe!

I originally started listening to The Bright Sessions podcast back in 2016 and it instantly became one of my favorites!

It was one of the earliest audio drama podcasts I’d ever heard and throughout the series, Shippen has put such care in her discussion/exploration of mental health and positive representation of therapy! In addition, her both moving + relatable storytelling, deeply complex cast of characters, and inspiring messages have stuck with me since I first started listening.

As a long-time listener of the podcast, I was beyond excited when Shippen’s book deal was first announced! Her storytelling is phenomenal and because I love these characters so so much, I was really looking forward to seeing how she’d expand on their stories in book form!

I adore the main characters Caleb Michaels and Adam Hayes in the podcast, they are the sweetest m/m couple I’ve ever encountered and getting to revisit them & their stories again in book form just left me turning page after page. Their also one of the fan-favorite couples of the series!

Shippen really knows her characters (especially in a first-person perspective) so getting to fully immerse myself into their inner thoughts didn’t feel like such a rehash of the podcast. I truly felt I learned more about these characters from a completely different perspective and I really appreciated that.

In this review I’m going to try and speak from a book perspective and leave more of my podcast-related thoughts near the end!

So, Caleb Michaels is a football player for his high school and from his very first few chapters its clear there’s something unique about him! As it turns out he has extreme empathy, which means not only can he sense the emotions of everyone around him, but he can take on those emotions too and in a way, amplifies them!

Having powers or supernatural abilities like this makes Caleb an Atypical!

Adam Hayes is a bit of an outcast, he’s quiet and doesn’t have many friends. He struggles with depression and throughout his perspective you see how it makes him feel disconnected from the world, feeling incredibly isolated and lonely.

As Caleb begins seeing Dr. Bright, a therapist for strange and unusual people like himself, she recommends he get to know Adam when they delve more into his ability and how he stopped one of his teammates from bullying Adam.

We get a deeper dive & different perspective into Caleb’s empath ability through the descriptions of color + comparison of nature to relate back to the impact of emotions that he feels.

Caleb and Adam have a slow and steady friendship that clearly develops into more over the course of this novel! Shippen incredibly weaves in the emotion, voice, and heart of these characters in such a deep and relatable way that really highlight all the complex, powerful, and distinct feelings associated with high school!

Throughout the novel, we get glimpses into all these different aspects of both Caleb and Adam’s lives and deep into their subconscious as well. Together, The Infinite Noise delivers such a balanced and relatable view as it explores family dynamics, friendship, love, and mental health.

Adam is dealing with depression and the representation of it is something directly explored and addressed throughout the novel. When both Caleb & Adam are together, Shippen doesn’t ignore the depth of those emotions and how they make Caleb feel as well (though it can be intense, he accepts those emotions and gives Adam his time when necessary). 

Similar to that of the show, I feel Shippen also highlights the importance of mental health, taking care of yourself, and brings layers and depth to that exploration in such relatable ways. Both the podcast and novel explore it a bit differently, but without a doubt its an important developed layer of the story!

From Adam’s perspective, he’s not sure what to make of Caleb. He later makes it clear he’s had a crush on him, but feels that their daily lunch hangouts together are a bit suspicious. He’s confused as to why a popular jock would want to hang out with him, but as they talk more and more, both Adam and Caleb begin to develop a special relationship!

Caleb finds himself falling for Adam too and the way Shippen develops it felt like such a steady progression, where we got to know both of them fully and how their relationship allows them to bring out the best in each other, by keeping each other green!! (its a podcast reference 😂💚)

Also, can I just say that Adam’s playlist for Caleb, their fun lunch hangouts and general moments together were the sweetest!! 💞

What is highlighted especially in The Infinite Noise that I never really gave much thought about in The Bright Sessions, was how this novel puts a focus on the connections between people and how the abilities give ways for Atypicals to connect with people in the most unlikely of ways!

However, looming over Caleb’s head are his empath powers, which he has to keep secret. With Caleb feeling in sync with Adam and Adam finding that happiness whenever he’s with Caleb, he also can’t help but feel steps behind him and can’t seem to figure out why.

Over the course of The Infinite Noise, Caleb and Adam’s relationship really cements itself in the novel alongside brewing mysteries and government conspiracies!

I’ve followed the podcast for years and learned more about Lauren’s inspirations behind TBS and her characters (with certain one’s based on different parts of herself). With that said, you can see how this novel really is a reflection on those emotions/experiences of high school and I really resonated with that.

I will say from both a book and podcast perspective, Lauren Shippen is an absolute genius when it comes to her characters and their development. Not only is every single one relatable in some sort of way, but their journeys develop in a way that leave you surprised but also leave you fascinated as to what happens next and why!

It also wasn’t until I read this book that I found this important theme also connected to the podcast, which is that of understanding, especially when it comes to one’s own emotions, and the connections we have with the people around us + why they are important!

The Infinite Noise highlights that incredibly well as we dive deep into the thoughts of Caleb and Adam!

Now onto my podcast-related thoughts:

I can’t put into words how my heart felt so connected with my soft, sweet boys Caleb and Adam again! Having already known the direction of their relationship I was just along for the ride, but loving every moment of it.

Because I already knew so much of them from the podcast, I loved being able to just appreciate the deeper introspective side to these characters & their high school journey, which are elements we never really get to explore in the show (especially Adam’s POV).

Though I love all the characters in the podcast, one of my favorites has to be Damien! I’ll tell you I legit screamed when he showed up, it was so fun to see his cameo in the book and getting Adam’s thoughts on him was the best 😂 I’m not lying when I say I’m really looking forward to his book & learning more about his past at 18! If you’ve listened to the show, you know what a clever and fascinating antagonist he is!! 😆🎉

It was brilliant how Shippen weaved podcast moments into the novel in an unexpected way for the fans, even the important plot-specific moments that non-listeners wont really pick up on (Mark, The AM, Frank, Chloe & Adam’s aunt, though her character was left pretty hidden/vague).

What I also found interesting was getting this limited perspective through Caleb on what we (the audience) already know about Atypicals, The AM, etc. because we already get  all that background through the podcast! So, it was nice to get a different view on how an Atypical would think about this other world alongside ours.

As mentioned in my interview, Shippen and I talked about the Canon of both the book and podcast. Though she said that this book does delve into certain specifics and expand on certain moments, the podcast is the truest form of the story. So, because of that you can tell she had a lot of fun changing up the timeline and it was interesting getting to read certain podcast lines at different sections of the story, giving them completely different contexts.

As mentioned in the show as well is the discussion of labels! Caleb is an example of that― he really loves Adam, but even in The Bright Sessions, he’s not entirely sure he fits into a specific label and I feel discussions like that are so important and valid because throughout life, you can’t always put an exact label on things! It was great to see that explored in the novel itself too 💞

As for the diversity of this novel, we have Adam who is Gay, biracial & Jewish, members of Adam’s family are dark-skinned, and an m/m relationship!

Now onto my critiques: Because I really love the TBS universe I would have loved to get a little more of that world woven into this book somehow, but overall it was fun to see how those elements developed through Caleb & Adam!

While the writing was strong in terms of the characters, there were detailed moments that because I’m very familiar with YA I felt taken out of the TBS world for a bit, also for me personally I found book-specific world building could been developed a bit more.

As I followed Caleb and Adam’s relationship, I realized just how strong Shippen’s writing is in terms of developing that deep emotion in ways that felt different than the podcast, but wholly familiar! Shippen just has a unique way of exploring her characters and I loved how that translated in the book.

The Infinite Noise delves into a different perspective of The Bright Sessions podcast and is a fun read for long-time listeners! Shippen puts a focus on her characters as we follow Caleb, Adam, and their relationship! Merging sci-fi contemporary, mental health, and introspective characters, The Infinite Noise is a story that delivers the relatable theme that no matter how powerful outside forces may impact you, you have the power to determine how they influence you and who you choose to be!

Today I’ll also be shouting-out a fellow book blogger’s review 😍📚🎉

Review: The Infinite Noise ARC from Gail over at Northern Plunder

As a longtime listener of the podcast, Gail goes into the depth of Caleb, Adam, and how their relationship develops organically!

Also, this is something I ABSOLUTELY AGREE with, is that Gail mentions how Lauren really understands and portrays the teenage experience! That’s something also seen through her college-aged/adult characters as well, where no matter who they are you can tell she’s portraying such an authentic character alongside their experiences!

Melding both a book and podcast perspective I recommend checking out Gail’s review as well! 🎉💚📚

A Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai ARC Review

A Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini BajpaiA Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai

Publisher: Little Brown Books For Young Readers (The NOVL)

Release Date: September 10, 2019

Pages: 320

Available Through The Book Depository: A Match Made In Mehendi

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.

*Received ARC from Yallwest*

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: A Match Made In Mehendi is a fantastic debut and one you definitely want to add to your Fall TBR! When Simi develops an app to match couples at her school, things get pretty interesting! Its a fun, delightful YA debut that also focuses on pursuing your dreams, friendship, and love! 

Simi Sangha aspires to continue developing and pursuing her passion as an artist, she also happens to come from a long line of female matchmakers! When she’s able to successfully match her cousin Preet with the son of a local furniture store, Jolly, her mother and aunt are certain she has the “gift.” Her mother insists she continue the family legacy, but Simi doesn’t have much interest and would rather focus on her art (primarily sketching and mehendi) as sophomore year looms closer!

When her best friend Noah Siegal insist they try to improve their popularity in the coming year, Simi’s older brother Navdeep also happens to be working on an app inspired by their family’s matchmaking business!

She see’s this as the perfect opportunity to try out her “gift” while also using her artistic skills! Simi knows this’ll not only help her best friend, but also allow her to use her family’s matchmaking knowledge in getting classmates of Mayfield High, to find their match!

I’d been looking forward to reading this lovely book for over a year and it was so good, easily on my list of all-time favorite YA Contemporary books!

(ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ💖💖*:・゚✧

Hopefully my review inspires you to look more into this debut because its just so much fun! + If your looking for a unique contemporary story that also explores many themes, while at its heart, is a story about pursuing your dreams, then please check it out! I feel this a YA Contemporary many have not read or heard of and I think everyone should read it! 💖🌸✨

A Match Made In Mehendi also shines through its first-person POV! Following Simi’s perspective brings such an energy to the story and everything else that you want to keep reading! The way the plot, character development, and journey Simi undergoes allow you to feel incredibly connected to the story― you feel your right there alongside Simi the entirety of the novel! She was an incredibly fun character to follow― she’s awkward, funny, confident in her artistic skills, and much more!

Simi is one of the more relatable YA Contemporary characters I’ve read in a while. Though I’m no longer in high school I really resonated with her on her journey of friendship, love, and the expectations we set upon ourselves + our futures: I feel people at any age are still navigating these situations, so I really appreciated Bajpai’s exploration of them and how they really connected with me!

Friendship is one of the many important themes of this novel and I loved how it was explored! Not only through Simi and Noah, but also through the camaraderie between Simi and her classmates (especially when trouble occurs). I also appreciated the focus on m/f friendships (which Simi has quite a few of), I don’t often see that explored in YA so that was really great to read about!

With a book about matchmaking, of course there’s also lots of exploration of romance! Simi finds herself learning more about the app and how it works, when her school begins using it and we see perfect matches being made!

Simi navigates some romance herself when we learn about the boy she’s had a crush on since they were little (Aiden) and how their common interest in art brings them closer together! There’s also Suraj (Jolly’s cousin) who recently transfers to Simi’s school and is good friends with her brother Navdeep! I loved their dynamic so much and this was a really cute romance as you learn more about both of the guys and Simi’s exploration with love herself! There’s some unpredictability to the romance which was really fun to read!

The Matched! app was easily one of the most clever and creative catalysts that drove many important themes, elements, and layers to this fantastic story! From its incorporation of Navdeep’s tech skills (and love of robotics) alongside Simi’s passion for art, I loved how Bajpai combined technology and family tradition that also represents Simi taking her family’s legacy and making it her own! It involves a variety of school-related and hobby questions that all come together into their algorithm, which also assigns people a unique animal (created by Simi), to see how the app changed and developed with each few chapters was incredibly fun to read about & I appreciated how it was such an important element to a lot of the growth throughout this novel.

As the story develops, while the app starts as a fun experiment for their high school, it soon causes drama when one of the matches upsets one of the popular girls in Simi’s class, Amanda! Now, Simi and Noah are navigating their newly developed popularity and the drama they get sucked into when Amanda doesn’t approve of one of the matches (which involves her ex-boyfriend)!

As I mentioned above, I really loved how Simi used her family legacy of matchmaking and turned into something completely her own! It also allows for such a big element of family to shine throughout the novel! With this legacy following the Sangha women, we see how her mother (who runs a matchmaking service for Desi families w/ her sister (Simi’s aunt)), expects so much from her in regards to the business she finds it difficult to explain how art is such a big part of her identity! It was great to see that element explored so much into the story (though I wish there could have been a bit more page time to develop their mother/daughter dynamic).

The writing is also wonderful! It not only allows for the story to progress in such a fantastic way, but it also allows for elements of humor, mystery, and overall brings everything to life off the page! Tying into the writing itself, is the atmosphere of this novel. Simi is confident in herself, skills as an artist, and as you see the expectations put upon her (both internal & external), you see that above all she is incredibly loyal to those she cares about and herself!

Simi is an incredibly inspiring protagonist and her narrative voice just leave you smiling throughout this entire book!

Next I want to talk about the characters, who are all fantastic (even the ones your not supposed to like): Navdeep, Noah, Suraj, Teá & Ethan, Aiden, Amanda, Simi’s cousins Preet & Geet, and her other friends at school. Through Simi’s narrative they all really come to life!

Overall, there was just a great cast of characters who are all given depth and developed from beginning to end regardless of how little page time they have!

I will say that, although Simi’s grandmother was a great character introduced near the last few quarters of the book, I wish her character was just a bit more developed! Because she’s part of the matchmaker legacy, it would have been great to get a little more from her!

It was such a delight to read excerpts of The Shagun Matchmaking Guide with each chapter! Not only was it an important Sangha heirloom, but I also appreciated how it wove its way into the story more near the end! Its an incredibly vital tool for her family’s matchmaking service and I loved how it was woven into the story to provide Simi with a feeling of luck and guide her as she navigated matchmaking in her school!

As for the representation of A Match Made In Mehendi, it features a mainly Indian and Indian-American cast, Gay rep (Noah), and though its not specifically stated its hinted at that Simi’s school is diverse!

A Match Made In Mehendi is an incredibly fun, heartwarming debut that explores a variety of themes, that will have you turning the page from family, legacy, love, friendship, and pursuing one’s dreams! Bajpai’s YA Contemporary debut has such great writing, a wonderful cast of characters, humor, mystery, romance, and much more! I’m looking forward to reading what Bajpai publishes next!

I was also a part of the blog tour for A Match Made In Mehendi and if you’d like to check out a Q & A where Nandini goes into more detail about her inspiration and other fun elements, you can read it Here! 🌸✨📚

The Tea Dragon Festival by Katie O’Neill ARC Review {Graphic Novel}

The Tea Dragon Festival by Katie O'NeillThe Tea Dragon Festival by Katie O’Neill (Tea Dragon Festival #2)

Publisher: Oni Press

Release Date: September 17, 2019

Pages: 136

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository: The Tea Dragon Festival

Summary: Rinn has grown up with the Tea Dragons that inhabit their village, but stumbling across a real dragon turns out to be a different matter entirely! Aedhan is a young dragon who was appointed to protect the village but fell asleep in the forest eighty years ago. With the aid of Rinn’s adventuring uncle Erik and his partner Hesekiel, they investigate the mystery of his enchanted sleep, but Rinn’s real challenge is to help Aedhan come to terms with feeling that he cannot get back the time he has lost.

*Requested ARC from the publisher*

My Rating: ★★★★★

My Thoughts: The Tea Dragon Festival is both a delightful and captivating companion to The Tea Dragon Society!  Rinn, aspiring to be a cooking apprentice, loves collecting ingredients for the locals in their village! After an encounter with a sleeping dragon, Rinn sets off on a series of adventures as the Tea Dragon Festival is just around the corner! Enchanting art, alongside an equally captivating story with beautiful messages will make your heart soar as you turn the page in Katie O’Neill’s next Tea Dragon tale!

After finishing The Tea Dragon Festival, I truly need more TEA DRAGON content in my life, this series carries such a special place in my heart! 😭🧡✨🐉🌿

I originally read The Tea Dragon Society as a webcomic in 2017 and fell in love with it from page 1! Not only did it introduce me to the beauty of webcomics, but it also got me back into graphic novels and it still remains as one of my all-time favorite graphic novel series!

Going into this companion all I knew was that it was essentially a prequel and would include cameos from Tea Dragon Society characters! From its opening pages, I was whisked away into the world of The Tea Dragon Festival by not only the art, but also its opening line:

“At the nearest station, trains come once a week…” (7).

The kind-hearted Rinn lives with their grandmother and travels the surrounding forests and plains of Silverleaf Village to collect ingredients for not only family, but local townsfolk!

Journeying into the forest with a pouch, adorable Fennel tea dragon, and list of ingredients (with one they can’t seem to find by the name of goatshorn) Rinn stumbles upon a seemingly abandoned house in the forest!

Their in for a quick surprise when it turns out a dragon lives there! Not only that, but the dragon Aedhan has been asleep for over 80 years! With his destined task to look over the festival and protect the village, he’s left sad at the time that’s been lost. However…

Rinn invites Aedhan to town and with that, allow him to feel more at home!

As Aedhan adjusts to this jump in time, he also comes to learn more about the community and feel a sense of belonging. We learn he’d been tasked by his ancestors many years ago and that now, he feels pain for those he’s lost during his sleep. But Aedhan quickly finds a powerful friendship in Rinn (alongside their family) and finds a place to call home.

There’s something special about stories like this that evoke a quiet and endearing tale, while immersing you in a compelling and fantastical world…

What I loved about this prequel is that not only did it build more into the lore and history of both tea dragons & dragons, but also gave this sense of expansion to the world of the Tea Dragon universe in ways I can’t really put into words.

I feel though, that has to do with how O’Neill brings together two important elements! The art and story meld together to present an utterly timeless tale that offers so many beautiful messages about family, community, friendship, and much more!

Let’s talk for a minute about O’Neill’s art! While its no surprise that I adore her art-style I really payed more attention to the colors, paneling, and emotion evoked in The Tea Dragon Festival!

Every panel is weaved with a beautiful array of color that brings to life the dense and whimsical forests, the open fields, the sunsets, open sky, and and timeless magic of nature!! 🌿🌸✨

I internally screamed when seeing Erik & Hesekiel again and the little Easter Eggs it left for those who read and adored The Tea Dragon Society, like myself!

The writing is phenomenal! I loved the story in The Tea Dragon Society, but The Tea Dragon Festival is a fantastic on a completely different level and readers will not be disappointed! The writing flows wonderfully with the soft, colorful art and I can’t tell you how many times I stopped to write down some of the beautiful quotes woven throughout this book!

The art also beautifully portrays a diverse and inclusive setting (feat. Non-binary protagonist Rinn, characters of color, and Sign Language, and messages of the fluidity of gender). Alongside that, the color and soft detail, immerse you in a wondrous setting focused on nature (there’s a magic to it that just comes to life through O’ Neill’s art).

The story itself is perfectly paced and with my anticipation to get back into this lovely world, every page I was ready to see what would happen next (I also appreciated how there were more pages in this companion 💖). From forest adventures, magical creatures, moments of quiet and everyday life, festival planning, cooking, and much more, this graphic novel also has a cast of characters that will capture heart!

There’s themes of identity, friendship, family, appreciating your talents and skills (even if they come easily), and the power in community!

If you haven’t read The Tea Dragon Society, please pick it up if you love stories about friendship, are looking to learn more about the tea dragons, and are interested in seeing where Hesekiel and Erik end up together! Then, after that, pick up this companion 😆💖🌿🐉✨ Though these can essentially be read in any order, I recommend reading them in release order (Tea Dragon Society first).

The Tea Dragon Festival is a must-read! Through whimsical storytelling grounded in truth, a diverse cast, and charming characters, this tale will captivate you from page 1! There’s a uniqueness O’Neill’s art-style alongside the equally wonderful story, beautifully explored themes and delightful ensemble cast of characters! This companion to The Tea Dragon Society will leave you wanting more once you’ve reached the last page!

Blog Tour: A Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai {ARC Review, Q&A & Wallpaper}

A Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini BajpaiA Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai

Publisher: Little Brown Books For Young Readers (The NOVL)

Release Date: September 10, 2019

Pages: 320

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository: A Match Made In Mehendi

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.

*Received ARC from festival* 

My Thoughts: Hey everyone, I’m incredibly excited to be part of the blog tour for A Match Made In Mehendi! Its a YA Contemporary I’d really been looking forward to and today I’ll be sharing a list of 5 reasons why you should read it!

1.The Story

Doesn’t the summary just immediately make you want to read? Long line of matchmakers? Two best-friends want to improve their high school status? A match-making app that causes chaos everywhere–don’t you want to pick up this book right now?

Nandini’s debut at its heart though is about pursuing your dreams and better understanding your own goals alongside the expectations others may have of you!

The story is incredibly character-driven and you’ll keep turning the page wondering what’ll happen next!

2.The Characters

Simi and her narrative voice just pull you in from page 1! She’s determined, honest, and knows she can be incredibly awkward at the worst of times! I adored her character a lot and felt I related to her in so many ways, and while I’m not a high school student like her it was the journey of finding yourself, expectations, exploration of love and friendship that resonated with me in many ways― and I feel people at any age are still tackling and exploring!

If you love contemporary stories with a dynamic cast, this book will not disappoint! From Noah to Simi’s mother and aunt, her brother, and her high school classmates all come to life as you delve more into their character and overall, I just loved this cast a lot!

3.Pacing

You know when your reading a book and you can’t explain it, but the pages are flying by? That’s what reading A Match Made In Mehendi is like! The plot, its mystery, and questions of what could happen next, swirl around in your mind as you speed through page by page of Simi’s story! If you love stories that pull you in from the very beginning and keep you hooked, you will love Nandini’s debut!

4. Writing

The writing is just so good? I’m not sure there’s any other way to describe it! Not only does Simi’s narrative voice keep you reading, but the way the plot unfolds through her POV just makes you feel incredibly connected to the story and feels incredibly personal because you feel like your right there with her!

5. Atmosphere

This ties into the writing as well! Through Simi, you see she’s confident, focused in her passion as an artist, and although there’s many expectations she’s facing (both internal and external) you see how she is incredibly loyal to herself. The theme of self-discovery alongside her own personal journey make A Match Made In Mehendi such a wonderful story through wholesome and inspiring protagonist like Simi! You can’t help but smile all throughout this book while reading from Simi’s POV!

A Match Made In Mehendi_Blog Tour Banner

To celebrate the release of this lovely debut I’ll also be sharing a mini Q&A with Nandini, where she talks all about A Match Made In Mehendi, plus a free downloadable wallpaper based on the cover! 🌸📚💖

1. Hey Nandini, thanks for joining me on the blog today! To start off this Q&A, what inspired your novel A Match Made In Mehendi?

Nandini: I’ve always been interested in how first and second generation Desi American families have adapted to life in the US. How kids born and/or raised here have view their parents’ traditions and what they choose to change, keep, or leave behind. Teens get such different signals from their peers and parents especially about things like crushes, dating, and assimilating or holding on to traditional values. Arranged marriage is one of those things that has been widely misunderstood and it’s good to lift the curtain on that process a little bit and examine it in a entertaining way through the Desi lens in the American context both for the young people that can see themselves in these characters and for their peers from different backgrounds.

2. Simi’s family believes she has the matchmaker “gift,” but Simi doesn’t want to be involved and focus more on her talent as an artist. From the summary it looks like your novel will delve into quite a variety of themes involving family, art, pursuing one’s dreams, and the passion that comes with art! Could you talk a little bit more about your inspiration behind these themes and which theme you personally, had the most fun exploring?

Nandini: Well, the matchmaking aspect was really fun to develop, honestly. What makes a good match? What makes a good matchmaker? Can the process really be developed into an app? How would that all work? How does a professional matchmaker put people together? How would a teenager view all of this differently from her mother or aunt? I have a background in systems analysis so it was nice to use that part of my brain as well to break down the problem of turning the very amorphous matchmaking process into an algorithm for an app. This theme was really different than any other story I’ve worked on!

3. Any fun or interesting facts you can share about your writing process or development of A Match Made In Mehendi?

Nandini: Initially I had different generations of matchmakers in Simi’s family telling stories of matches they had made scattered through the book. It was a fun challenge to write about couples in the 1920s, the 1940s, the 1980s all in the voices of three generations of women in Simi’s family and how the lessons learned from those matches becomes part of the lore and wisdom of the Shagun Matchmaking Guide – the book handed down in Simi’s family from mother to daughter. The matchmaker log didn’t make the final cut but I do feel that the deep dive into Simi’s family history colors the tone of the book, even though it’s not there any more.

4. In your novel, Simi develops this matchmaking app and it drives different layers of the story! What inspired you to explore Simi’s journey of family, friendship, and art through the inclusion of this unique app?

Nandini: It was really fun to do a close examination of how this generation deals with parental expectations, discovers what they’re really passionate about, and figures out who they might or might not love. This is a world I know, and though there are many other valid experiences that may be quite different, I can only speak from my own personal experience and try and tell one story I feel confident I can. I also think that while books about underrepresented groups that deal with heavier issues are necessary and important it’s really good to have lighthearted books that are about joy and happy things like the search for love. I certainly didn’t have any such books about Indian kids to read when I was growing up and it was so hard to see that nothing had changed when I was looking for books for my own kids. Like Gandhi said, “Be the Change!”

5.Overall, what are you most excited about in regards to your novel and anything in particular your excited for readers to discover in A Match Made In Mehendi?

Nandini: Overall, I’m just excited for the book to finally be out there in the hands of readers, but one of the smaller things that I enjoyed creating and that I hope readers like is the way the Matched! app analyzes profiles and puts people together. It’s kind of like a technical sorting hat that not only figures out where you fit and creates a cute personal match icon for you (the match icons, were SO fun to dream up!), but also finds your top matches and lists their match icons for you, sorted from best to last.

Thanks so much for celebrating Nandini’s A Match Made In Mehendi here on 24hr.YABookBlog! Also, check out my FREE downloadable wallpaper inspired by the novel:

A Match Made In Mehendi Wallpaper

Here’s the other wonderful bloggers, who’ll be joining me on the Blog Tour for A Match Made In Mehendi (from Cake Literary):

Kat @ Pretty Little Library (September 6)

Olivia & Lori @ The Candid Cover (September 9)

Fanna @ Fanna Wants The World To Read (September 10)

Are you looking forward to reading A Match Made In Mehendi?

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite ARC Review

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza MouliteDear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Pages: 432

Available For Pre-Order: Dear Haiti, Love Alaine

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.

All 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.

*Requested ARC from publisher*

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Dear Haiti, Love Alaine is a YA Contemporary debut from sisters Maika and Maritza who seamlessly weave together a tale of family, healing, and much more! Alaine’s narrative voice presents an intimate and personal depth to her perspective as we explore her family and her Haitian culture, alongside her journey of self-growth! The use of mixed media also offers a unique depth that provides so many layers to this complex and immersive debut!

There’s something both personal and special that comes with reading about someone’s life through the use of primary sources like letters, emails, diary entries, articles etc. It captures the depth of emotions and snapshots of one’s life in unique ways you just can’t get through prose. Maika and Maritza Moulite truly showcased the emotion and personal journey through the main character of Alaine Beauparlant!

Alaine is an aspiring journalist with dreams of pursuing this career at the same university her mother― Celeste Beauparlant― beloved GNN political talk show host and award-winning journalist, attended!

With a few remaining months from graduation, Alaine’s got everything planned out! That is until one day on Celeste’s show, she causes an uproar far and wide after slapping one of her guests and when Alaine defends her mother from a classmate jokes about the incident, Alaine takes her school project a bit too far!

Now she’s suspended. But, her teachers leave her with an assignment to complete over her suspension and when her father sends her to Haiti, she’s told to take part in a “Spring Volunteer Immersion” project to ensure she passes her last semester.

With this novel mainly taking place in Haiti, it was wonderful to explore the culture through such a personal style of storytelling, it made the plot even more special to experience this journey through Alaine’s eyes.

A big theme and element of this novel, which I found was explored so thoroughly in Dear Haiti, Love Alaine was journalism! If you didn’t know, one of the co-authors of this novel, Maritza Moulite actually has a masters in Journalism!

Considering that is also my university major, I felt such a deep connection to the references, style of storytelling, and how this novel showcased the importance of this field throughout the story!

Some references I caught onto were: leads, “giving a voice to the voiceless,” reference to Cronkite, the use of multimedia (very present in journalism) to tell this story, and of course exploring Alaine’s love for the subject and how she unfolds the story of her mother’s own personal journey as a journalist!

I’m not sure if this was intentional or not, but I also found the way the story unfolded referenced styles of journalistic writing as well! In Journalism, its often about how you present the information you’ve collected and how you choose highlight what you’ve uncovered. The way the plot, characters, and development are explored, to me, they referenced this style of writing in a seamless way where you are left looking at things from a new perspective.

Overall, I loved that this novel showed the depth and facets to this field in such a positive way, where its often downgraded in pop-culture and other forms of media/storytelling.

What I loved about the use of mixed media, was how it seamlessly delved into many plot threads, themes, characters, and their dynamics, I found that they were all explored in such a realistic way where they really came to life from the page.

Family is such a huge part of this novel and you see that develop through Alaine’s relationship with her mother (more on that in a bit), her father, her cousin Felicite and Tati Estelle! Not only just her family, but her friends as well, like the people she meets at Patron Pal (like Jason, who’s a fellow intern).

There’s a clear focus on the dynamic between Alaine and her estranged mother, who’s constantly been occupied with work. The time that the Moulite sisters take to explore family dynamics allows it to become such a layered element of the novel.

Alaine has never had such a strong connection with her mother, but is very close with her father! But, throughout the book, we see Alaine strengthen that connection with her. We even see when Alaine gets to Haiti, she learns more about her parents past and noticing them spend more time together, it gives them opportunities to talk and be more open.

Told through an epistolary style, we get an in-depth view of Alaine’s personal development through the different plot threads that find their way into this story! For example, we learn that Celeste has early on-set Alzheimer’s and a big plot thread of the novel explores Alaine’s internal struggle and confusion, as she also attempts to connect more with her mother during this transition in her life.

While there are many things that stayed with me by the end of this novel, something that really stuck with me through Alaine’s journey, was in learning about her mother’s Alzheimer’s. It allowed me to reflect and go back to a time when I was exactly in her shoes (one of my older relatives has Alzheimer’s). For me, though it was a much different journey I had to accept with a lot less time, I just can’t put into words how present I felt during those scenes and how they allowed me to reflect a lot during that time too.

From Alaine’s time at Patron Pal (her aunt’s organization/app to help kids in Haiti), learning about figures of her family and their country’s past, and much more, the plot threads are all given a great amount of page time and brilliantly weave their way together.

What I also appreciated about this novel was how it was very focused on the women of Alaine’s family, how their journeys are highlighted and are such vital pieces to the story that Alaine uncovers as she spends her time in Haiti!

I feel Marie from Drizzle And Hurricane Books interview with authors Maika and Maritza summed it up perfectly:

“…to create a story about the women who make sacrifices for themselves and their families. They are often forgotten or overlooked but vital to a family’s survival…”

Women from the past/present of Alaine’s family and the country of Haiti itself are given a spotlight and through their stories and experiences, its tied deeply to how Alaine sees her family!

Now while this is novel with many layers and depth to it, I did want to discuss a couple elements that lowered the rating, for me personally.

I did find the pacing (at points) did get a bit slow and there were times I struggled to continue immersing myself at some points of the story. Though I do feel that’s mainly because of the format of the story and how personal it is. Secondly, though there were many plot points explored really well, it felt they were given such a focus at certain points, that later on they didn’t feel too vital anymore. By the end, some threads felt incomplete and I still felt there was more to explore (light romantic story-line between Alaine & Jason, Alaine’s dynamic with her parents, & the curse).

There minor issues aside though, this is a book that delivers such a personal journey through an honest, brave, and vulnerable protagonist like Alaine! Dear Haiti, Love Alaine really needs more hype because it takes you on such a unique journey, you have to read it and experience it for yourself!

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine is a unique YA Contemporary that is introspective through its mixed media format and delivers a deep and personal story with many layered messages! The journeys Alaine and the family around her undergo throughout this novel, are explored thoroughly during Alaine’s visit to Haiti. The Moulite sisters deliver a debut that’s focus is on its complex characters and you see that through the mixed media format! Family, love, self-growth, and healing are just some of the many themes explored throughout this wonderful debut!