Bookish Opinions: Sharing My Book-Related Thoughts

There’s lots of bookish opinions I’ve realized I NEVER had time to talk about on the blog, so I thought today’s post would be a fun idea to learn more about overly specific thoughts I have about book-related topics, certain books or just share some opinions with you all! 📚✨

I know disclaimers aren’t necessary, but I’d just like to add: these are just how I feel about these particular ideas and thought it would be interesting to share! I’d LOVE to hear what you think (no matter if you agree or disagree), I’m genuinely interested in starting discussions about these opinions and hear about what you think too.

Starting off with I guess a more “controversial” one: The Book Community needs to let go of Six Of Crows

Okay wow that was a lot, let’s unpack this! While I read it initially during release I had a great time with SOC and the subsequent Crooked Kingdom, it just feels like there’s other books out there I truly love that don’t have the same amount of attention that this duology gets, whether its with fanart, discussions, and just content in general. Other bookish fandoms online are in another word just, dead outside of occasional goodreads reviews or tweets, maybe a booktok or two. While Leigh Bardugo crafts this duology well, I personally just don’t love it as much as everyone else does & the more that time has passed tbh, I now find it to be super overhyped.

I just get tired sometimes of seeing SOC held up as a pinnacle of the perfect fantasy book with flawless character arcs, worldbuilding, execution of heists, representation, dialogue etc. and while it’s easy to see why so many people agree, there’s just so many books out there I think deserve equal if not more praise too.

SOC is the kind of book that’s kind of stuck in my mind for a bit too long and I wish it didn’t. The downside to its immense popularity is that there’s this stigma that nothing can exceed or improve on what it’s done in YA Fantasy (which of course is not true). So, at times the Six Of Crows duology seems to feel like an enduring title in the book community consciousness which won’t find a replacement.

My reading habits have changed a lot over the past couple years and I’m more eager to annotate my books

I know, right? I’ve always been the kind of person to be super protective of my books as I’m sure many of us are but I think back in 2018 when The Gilded Wolves came out I really wanted to keep track of my digital notes and quotes in a much easier way so then it got me to tab up my arc, which I had a lot of fun doing! Now when I look at the unread books on my tbr shelf, I feel motivated to, if not highlight them at least just sticky tab or write my thoughts on sticky notes and stick them onto the pages. Surprisingly I’ve become more comfortable in planning this thanks to booktok!

I personally don’t like how books are pitched through Tropes online

Wow there’s a lot I can say about this topic!! To start, it feels like to me I didn’t really notice this becoming more of a thing until a couple years ago on twitter (2018-2019 ish?) or maybe it’s always been there and I just never realized until this past year? I’m not sure but now when I’m seeing books talked about or pitched on my timeline, it feels like there’s more of an emphasis on tropes to describe character dynamics and general plot points (especially in fantasy) which also kinda comes off as a spoiler to me. I think what makes me dislike this idea a lot is that because literary tropes are obviously in lots of stories anyways without us realizing, it makes them stand out a lot more and therefore, makes me think too much about how they’re being executed. Like basically if someone hears ‘enemies-to-lovers’ I’m sure we’ll have very different ideas on how we want to read it in a story right? 

What makes me dislike this as the emphasized way to talk about books, is that it gives you certain expectations about the characters or character dynamics without having read the book yet or experiencing the story for yourself, which oftentimes for me never turns out how I want it to. While I truly believe in the genuine value of describing books in this way, I just HATE how it messes with my expectations of a story.

I’d prefer Book Adaptations take more risks than try to copy the book directly onto screen

Ever since writing my article about Animated Book Adaptations, I still stand by this idea that book adaptations need to take more risks not only when adapting the novel, but with the medium too. There’s infinite opportunities to take the spirit of a book and still make the adaptation fresh and different. Especially if studios decided to take a novel and turn it into a stunning piece of animation…tbh I think animated adaptations can potentially be the future!

Despite its flaws, Netflix’s Shadow & Bone does a good job at taking Leigh’s source material and trying to make it work for a TV series to add a bit more to the world while also tackling the story in a unique way.

I’m the kind of reader who ends up appreciating or reaching for lesser known & under-the-radar books

I feel like I’ve always been this way, especially when I first got into YA. For example when YA Dystopia was still big, I never really gravitated towards Divergent or The Hunger Games, instead the first book that introduced me to dystopia was Marie Lu’s Legend Series which from my perspective back then, didn’t seem as hyped up.

The books I often find myself reading and loving usually also end up being books that take more unique approaches to traditional genres or categories, while also taking risks to tell a story that for me, comes across as one-of-a-kind and overall, aren’t talked about as much.

I don’t mind First-Person POV when reading a book

I usually see whether based on ratings, reviews or other bookish content that people don’t really like the use of 1st person POV. I’m sort of on the unpopular side of this where I actually love it and whenever its done well, I find it can elevate the book every time! I like that the author can come up with a unique voice to match the character and make their journey feel so personal because of it.

When it comes to popular or even just new YA releases, I feel like there’s a 50% / 50% chance I’ll either get to it within a reasonable time or after an entire year

With so many books I need to catch up on, this list evidently gets bigger and bigger every year! However with books that are pretty popular or getting lots of buzz leading up to release, I notice I often struggle with prioritizing them in a timely fashion and then end up not reading them. I think its partly because of all the praise I hear, I just hesitate because of my personal expectations. While I genuinely want to read all of the books to stay in the loop with all the conversation, these days I take a bit longer to read them. Or its often just because there’s so many new titles coming out and I can’t figure out what to pick up. But I guess that just means there’s more books in the future to look forward to! ❤

The Gilded Wolves is still underrated in my eyes when it comes to YA Fantasy

Okay there’s so many that fit this too, but TGW is one that always sticks out to me! The crew and their deeply complex stories, the clever puzzles, the enchanting setting and dazzling story are utterly brilliant, truly not being appreciated enough! I genuinely love all of the characters and think they definitely rank high on the list of my favorite crews of all time. Séverin, Laila, Zofia, Enrique, Hypnos, their dynamics + shenanigans on heists or whichever adventure they are on, priceless!

Hardcover or Paperback? Depends on the book, but in general I like both

I feel like there’s a clear preference with this one and for me I actually don’t mind either! They both have their value in my eyes and I enjoy both of them for different reasons. For example with bigger fantasy books, paperback seems more convenient. However, if there’s a book I absolutely love and want to display on my shelf, hardcover is the way to go. Overall, I find myself jumping back and forth between these two.

Thanks so much for joining me on first bookish opinions post, I hope you had fun reading more of my thoughts & I’d be happy to make more of these posts in the future (also recommend me more topics to cover if you think there’s something you’d like to hear my thoughts on)! Any specific ones you want to chat more about? I’d be happy to in the comments too!

Lets chat! What are some of your bookish opinions? Thoughts on the ones I’ve shared? 📚💭

Blog Essay: ‘Down Comes The Night’ and examining Gothic Literature

When one considers the term ‘Gothic Literature,’ notably specific images come to mind: abandoned castles or manors, crumbling architecture, flickering candlelight, and an eerily quiet, almost chilling atmosphere. In this essay, I set out to examine the gothic elements that Allison Saft’s Young Adult debut Down Comes The Night (2020) utilizes, that present it as a truly classic gothic tale.

An essential ingredient for any piece of gothic literature is setting. The locale is crucial because it is through the descriptive language, minute details and history that we see it slowly become almost its own character within the story. For DCTN, that is undoubtedly the secluded estate of Colwick Hall, where our heroine Wren Southerland travels to in order to heal a servant according to its eccentric owner, Alistair Lowry.

Saft’s novel takes place in a world where there are countries with long-standing histories, a centuries-long war leaving two magical countries (Danu and Vesria) reeling with unresolved conflict. In addition, an isolated territory known as Cernos, which possesses no magic so in this case, it has largely kept to itself. Using a medical science-based magic system, Saft’s choice of words from the description of the magical vein where the protagonist connects with her magic or the anatomy terminology describing bone, blood, tissue, etc. is used to further provide a particular ambience. In addition to the reliance on what can be presumed to align with the Victorian era plus 19th Century technology, there’s a blend of the macabre and magical that brings ‘Down Comes The Night’ to life.

Gothic literature also uses setting to establish a divide or isolation for the protagonist, making the reader feel a sense of unease, or even a fear at the uncertainty. 

Wren could make out the enormity of the hall, it’s startling emptiness…Everything outside the candelabra’s unsteady reach swam indistinctly, as if the house breathed and stirred the shadows like wind over still water…

(Ch. 8, 120)

Aligned with the setting is the atmosphere, and in this case Saft presents a deeply rooted winter backdrop seen through the various locations that Wren travels to throughout the novel from the abbey where all healers are trained, her journey to Colwick to even the estate itself. 

Weather, in this case the established winter season present throughout the novel, is a facet of atmosphere which provides another layer in which to explore even more vital elements of Gothic literature. Across the various locales, the mood of this story is made clear through character, setting, and a more obvious way to showcase the inner or undisclosed feelings of the cast.

Examples of this are heavily implied and stated throughout the text by associating the winter climate with words such as “cold,” “frost,” “chill,” among others. By using these types of descriptors Saft has not only directly presented the reader with an ambience of which to perceive this story, but it also serves as a function in which readers “decode the inner landscape of the protagonists…” according to Marquette Library’s Glossary Of The Gothic entry which provides a definition for the element of weather in this type of story.

Snow-smothered fields sprawled for miles…The wind whistled through the abbey’s towers. Cold bit through her cloak…if she stayed still too long, she feared she’d go brittle and crack…

(Ch. 6, 96)

Next, another important element of this sub-genre is emotion. Saft explores this overtly and rather brilliantly through the protagonist and heroine, Wren Southerland, healer in the Queen’s guard of Danu. Driving her decisions at every turn, whether it’s for the unresolved feelings she has for her commanding officer and best friend Una, the sense of duty she feels to seek out her missing comrade, the deep, complicated emotions she feels for the sworn enemy of her kingdom Hal Cavendish, even the opening scene where she can’t stand idly by while seeing a prisoner injured in the snow, the exploration of this is essential to her makeup and gives the novel in my opinion, a unique twist.

Throughout the plot, Wren is penalized and often seen as “foolish” for relying heavily on her emotions and empathy in response to situations she finds herself in. However, Saft never paints this a weakness for the heroine, but a strength she learns to accept about herself despite what she’s been taught.

Could that be true? After everything she’d endured because of her emotions, after everything Isabel and Una had told her, could she really believe that?

Yes, some buried part of her said. Isn’t that what makes us strong?

(Ch. 28, 430)

A more obvious example of this is when Wren, over the course of the story, learns to confide in Hal and their romance is a symbol for the “hope” of bringing peace to their lands. Wren learns to overcome her uneasiness around him as the ‘Reaper Of Vesria’ through compassion, empathy, and understanding. 

Even before the start of the novel, it’s clear Saft intentionally meant for this element of Wren’s character to be a monumental piece of her identity and for like-minded readers to admire going in at the start of the dedication: “For all the girls who feel too much.”

In perhaps a more subversive or allegorical way of presenting us with this component of a Gothic novel, Saft allows our heroine to clearly and genuinely wear her emotions on her sleeve.


Notes 📝🖊
1. Page numbers when referencing the text, corelate to a digital ebook, which may not reflect the accurate page numbers in a physical copy

What did you think about this literary DCTN essay? Did you pick up on these elements while reading Saft’s novel that clearly presented it as Gothic? What do you enjoy the most about these kinds of novels?

In recent months I noticed that I’ve become more interested in deep-dives (like video essays) or literary analysis of media and fiction. I don’t often see posts like this about books and thought this would be great starting point for new kind of content on the blog introducing literary-type essays. There was quite a bit of research I did for this post and genuinely I had a fantastic time bringing it all together. I’m hoping to deliver more posts like this about YA Books and would love your feedback on this first one! Thank you for reading! 📚💖

Personal Library Book Tag (ORIGINAL)

Recently I found myself thinking about my book collection and my personal objectives for my shelves in the future, so from there I had the sudden inspiration to create my first ever tag titled the Personal Library Book Tag!

The books we gather for our collection and bookshelves is something personal and reflective of our own bookish tastes, what stories we enjoy, or even books we aspire to read one day. So through this tag I wanted to explore what my own collection means to me as a reader.

All the questions and prompts are inspired by thoughts I’ve had about what’s on my own bookshelves that I’m sure many readers or bookish content creators can relate to! Overall I thought this would be an incredibly fun way to share more about the books I have and with that said, hope you enjoy today’s post!

  • RULES:
  • Link back to the original creator’s post 24hryabookblogPersonal Library Book Tag
  • Answer the questions / prompts
  • Tagging is not required, but you can if you want to 🥰
  • Feel free to use my graphic for your own post (with credit) if you’d like or create your own

1: How do you organize the books on your shelves?

My go-to is organizing by genre or category. My favorite shelf probably has to be the one with all my fantasy books. I like that its a big enough space where I can fit a lot onto a single shelf and though I never knew this about myself until my collection began to grow, I personally don’t mind fitting genres/sub-genres together in that space. My adult fantasy, sff, and YA fantasy all share space on the fantasy shelf and I like how it reflects the variety of books that I enjoy discovering.

2: Any particular aesthetic or niche genre of books you’d like to see more of on your shelves?

One that I’ve seen a lot more of recently is Dark Academia. While I do have a couple like If We Were Villains from M.L. Rio and Vicious by VE Schwab, I’d love to add more to this minute collection because this aesthetic is just so fascinating to me and I love how it inspires my creativity when I journal or even just the visuals on an intellectual level.

My copy of Vicious also has a lot of sentimental value to me because it was the first adult sff book I’d ever read and owned (I also clearly remember reading it while I was still in school, so the dark academia interests still stays with me I guess 😂✨?)

3: Pick a book on your shelf and share the personal story behind it!

Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter! I adore Ally’s books so much and it was her Heist Society Series (which PS is a part of) that turned me into the reader I am today and got me to not only love YA, but reading as a whole.

I vividly remember counting down the days until the third book of this series back came out back in 2013 and was so happy to have found it sitting on the shelves of B&N on release day…from which I then started the book in the evening to end up finishing it at 6 am. It was the first time I ever stayed up late to finish a book and probably the first novel I’d saved up money for to buy the day of release.

4: Name a book (or books) in your personal collection that people would be surprised to see that you own.

Cris Tales artbook and Felicity by Mary Oliver!

I haven’t talked about this nearly enough on the blog, but I’d been looking forward to a new video game called Cris Tales for a couple years now and since the game just released not too long ago, I got a copy of the artbook with my collector’s edition. I think people would be surprised to know that I do own this, just because I obviously tend to read more fiction and don’t often discuss lots about my love of art and artwork.

I’ve never been one to read much non-fiction or books with personal essays/poems, but I remember the simple, nature-themed covers of Mary Oliver’s books always drew me to want to add them on my goodreads. Since then I’ve bought one of her books called Felicity, which is a collection of poetry.

5: What’s a book that you own that’s still on your TBR?

So many, but are we really that surprised? One I can think of is King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo! While the Grishaverse isn’t my all-time favorite fantasy world, I am interested to learn what happens to Nikolai and the other characters and see how Bardugo brings a close to the universe. And…just a lot of latinx-authored books and sff titles (i’m sorry but there’s just too many to name). I will say that I recently got a copy of Lobizona by Romina Garber and am so hyped to read it, just need to find the time!

6: Name a book (or books) you desperately want to add to your personal library:

Legenborn by Tracy Deonn

Iron Heart by Nina Varela

Anna-Marie McLemore’s other books that I don’t already own too

7: Any particular goals you have for your collection?

One of my biggest goals is to look through the books I already have and figure out if there’s any that can be unhauled. I don’t unhaul often, so I’m sure there’s some that’ve been collecting dust on my shelves and it’ll give me an opportunity to figure out what I want my personal bookshelves to have. One of my other goals is to also find a way of organizing or displaying them that I can be fully happy with. Every few weeks I find myself looking at my shelves seeing how they can be rearranged, but find it tough to actually do something about it. It’s a work in progress, but I’m hoping to work on that over the next year.

Hope this tag gave a little more insight into my collection and my shelves, I had a great time putting this post together!

Now, time to tag a few fellow book bloggers! I TAG:

-Cande from CandeReads -Sofii from Abookathought – Savanna from BoookedOnAFeeling -Joanna from TheGeekishBrunette – Marta from MonogamistReader -Lilly from Lairofbooks -Lila from Hardcoverhaven
-Joy from Ohsrslybooks -Jasmine from HowusefulItIs -Cherelle from Aboltoutofthebook -Lisa from Waytoofantasy – Elaine from Elaine Howlin – Amanda from BookishBrews – Erin from ReadingOnAStar – Cossette from Teatimelit

– Or if your looking for a new book tag, consider yourself tagged!

Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag │2021

There’s no way we’ve already made it towards the halfway point of 2021 — it’s been a unique year for me when it comes to reading and media in general (I’ve definitely seen myself gravitate towards different genres and categories of books, plus I’ve been watching a lot more anime too). Surprisingly I’ve never EVER done the Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag before in my 5 years of blogging, but have always had such fond memories of watching them on booktube, being super curious about others reading progress. So, I thought it was time to finally share one of my own!

I’ve also noticed there’s not always too much chatter on here about the books I’ve read once a review’s been posted. Though constantly I’m always thinking about how a book I’ve read has stuck with me in some way and doing this tag gives me more opportunity to go more in depth on how some of these amazing books have left an impact!

Before diving into all the bookish questions, I also wanted to share one of the super fun projects I’ve been trying out this year and that’s: Tracking my bookish stats! (though I have been behind on updating it…whoops!) But what’s made it such a great experience so far is how personal it can be with the fact I can create my own categories, isn’t something stressful and can be more about discovering my own personal reading preferences! I’m hoping to keep the momentum going till the end of the year to see what the statistics say about my reads and any other interesting things I find. Now onto the questions:

Best book you’ve read so far in 2021?

The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky: There are no words to describe the sheer brilliance of this novel…okay maybe some! I knew going into it that I would end up loving it but wow, did it surprise me!

Rachel Chavez is starting over at a new school and finds herself tangled up in the Mary Shelley Club, a secret society on campus obsessed with horror. I loved Rachel, there’s a sarcastic voice to her, but in the end all she truly wants is to fit in and overcome her dark, traumatic past.

I’m honestly a novice when it comes to the horror / thriller genre, but Moldavsky’s novel really delivers on those classic elements even for a beginner like me, I understood how she was utilizing the genre in such a clever way to tell this story.

Moldavsky effortlessly brings a descriptive, sharp language with her writing that evokes all those classic horror or thriller movie vibes. The story is an absolute page-turner, the cast of characters are so well developed, alongside atmosphere, suspense, and fantastic storytelling The Mary Shelley Club was easily a 5-star read for me this year. Such a phenomenal book, I LOVED it. [Full ARC Review]

Best sequel of 2021 so far?

Oculta by Maya Motayne: Do I have a series finishing problem? Absolutely! I can think of at least 5 where I stopped after a certain point and just never continued reading. However, this year there quite a number of sequels that blew me away. If I were to pick one it would definitely have to be Oculta, the second book in the Nocturna Trilogy.

The development that Alfie and Finn undergo in this book are just unparalleled in ways I cannot describe. This book has got everything, more worldbuilding, politics, intrigue mystery, magic, humor, adventure its got it ALL. I could not put it down, the speed at which I read through this book (according to goodreads like..a day?!) was astonishing even to me because its at over 400 PAGES! With every fiber of my being I wanted to take my time reading this and not speed through, but it was just TOO good how could I put it down?

Truly loved being in the world of Castallan again and especially how personal Alfie and Finn’s journeys felt while reading this book. The growth highlighted in this story was just absolute perfection, they each have their own responsibilities and complicated emotions, but still manage to find a way to each other even when things get complicated. Am completely stoked for the third book, how will I possibly wait? I’m not even sure.

New releases you haven’t read yet, but want to?

The year of 2021 has been filled with many amazing books without a doubt and I have I read a majority of them? Sadly…no. But here’s a list of some that I definitely have on my radar still: Yolk by Mary HK Choi, Wings Of Ebony by J. Elle, Ace Of Spades…SO MANY fantastic YA are out this year I need to catch up on lots! Other’s that come to mind:

  • The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe
  • Ravage The Dark by Tara Sim
  • June Hur’s books
  • The Ones We’re Meant To Find by Joan He
  • Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

Most anticipated release for the second half of 2021?

During June, I actually got an ARC of this in the mail which is Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed: 15 Voices From The Latinx Diaspora edited by Saraciea J. Fennell. Though I haven’t read it yet, I flipped through and skimmed some of the entries and cannot wait to take my time reading through its entirety. It’ll feature poems and personal essays from some amazing writers in the Latine community, so I’m pretty excited about this one! I think what stuck out to me about this one was how with lots of YA anthologies they focus more on presenting fiction, but I like that these are more personal and how some are written from the authors own unique experiences. Eager to read and review this one for the blog!

Biggest disappointment?

For this I’d probably have to say Those Not-So-Sweet Boys volume 1 from Yoko Nogiri! I’m still pretty new to shojo manga and one of the first mangas that introduced me to the demographic was Nogiri’s Love In Focus series. However, with Not So Sweet the more I think about it the more I realize the characters were quite bland and there’s nothing too memorable about them. The concept is interesting, but being 200+ pages it felt there could have been more time given to establishing the characters themselves to offer them some extra dimensions. Still on the fence about continuing this series, so this was probably one of the more disappointing reads for me as I was really hoping to like this one more!

Biggest surprise?

Aren’t the best kinds of books the ones you pick up out of nowhere and end up loving? The biggest and best surprise for 2021 was definitely Wondercat Kyuu-Chan Vol. 1 from Sasami Nitori, which is a full-color manga series about a guy who adopts an abandoned cat who’s very extraordinary and unique. I’ve probably re-read this volume like 5 times already!! It’s incredibly funny, heartwarming, silly, wholesome and FUN! You can expect a full review on the blog in the near future, still debating whether I should review by volume or after a few more have released (stay tuned for that!).

I love that its in full color, it just adds to the charm of the story, but everything from the artwork, to the vignettes, and humor comes together so spectacularly…ahh this manga makes me wish I had a wonder cat!!

Favorite new author?

Going to cheat with this one and say basically all the new-to-me authors this year. There’s definitely lots of books that I ended up loving this year from either debuts or established writers whose work I picked up in 2021. However, I love discovering more writers and overall I’m happy to have had my reading be at least over 50% new authors.

Newest fictional crush?

Okay those familiar with my blog will probably know I’m a Qifrey stan, he’s a patient and understanding mentor who also harbors a covert desire for vengeance (against an evil group of witches) as he offers main character Coco, the chance to be his apprentice and learn how to become a witch herself. He’s from the Witch Hat Atelier series and the most recent volume that released this year Vol. 7 is in one word: Intense. There’s such an aura of mystery surrounding his story, he’s also incredibly well-written, and there’s only a tidbit of his past we learn in the latest volume, but I can’t wait to learn more about his backstory as the series continues. Kamome Shirahama seems to be developing a lot of intricate plot threads to her cast, Qifrey included and I am here for it!

Newest favorite character?

Gotta say Charlie from Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado. She is just FABULOUS! She’s tackling first love, learning to love herself as she is, and working to pursue her dreams as a writer. But overall she’s learning to be more confident as a fat girl and her story is filled with so many heartfelt, inspiring messages! I truly wish there could be more books with her Brian, her best friend Amelia, and her mom ahh I just adored reading Charlie’s story. I’d been really looking forward to reading this book for a couple years now and wow, it was phenomenal, I’m still thinking about it (also Parvin too, uhh I adore them both equally). Fat Chance, Charlie Vega is a YA Contemporary that should be on your radar if it isn’t already!

Book that made you cry?

Oculta yet again, which I was not expecting! But of course, falling completely in love with the worlds / characters once more, there’s a lot of intrigue, conflict, and mystery to this book that of course some Alfie and Finn moments had left me a puddle of emotions okay?

Book that made you happy?

Having read more manga this year, there were quite a few series that left smiles on my face! Wonder Cat of course and also my first read of the year Nicola Traveling Around The Demon’s World. Both of these were light-hearted series and I’m so glad to have given them a chance, they’ve quickly become new favorites and I’m eager to continue.

Favorite book to movie adaptation you’ve seen this year?

I was pretty excited to watch Shadow & Bone, however despite some issues and critiques I have (mainly the unnecessary racism), what made this a great adaptation was how it didn’t follow the traditional plot of the books. Merging together the original Grisha Trilogy plus Six Of Crows, for me, added more to the world and offered unique opportunities to delve into the world in a completely fresh way.

Favorite review / post you’ve written this year?

I’ve been incredibly proud of my discussions and new blog series that I’ve launched this year, however if I was to pick one I’d probably say my favorite of 2021 has been:

Where’s All The Book-to-Video Game Adaptations?: I loved researching for this post and wondering, as a gamer myself, which books would make for unique video games and even speculating what style would work best! I’m hoping to bring more unique discussions like this one and had the best time writing this for the blog.

Aside from my favorite post from my own blog I’m also super eager to shout-out a few fellow bloggers from the community, who I’m grateful to have chatted more with, discovered, or commenting more on their content this year (tbh I’d love to do a whole blog post just shouting out some awesome bloggers because there’s SO MANY):

– Alienor from A Fox’s Wanderings: I recently discovered her blog just this year and am in love with her content! From the beautiful graphics to fantastic layout of her posts, I’m always review, check-in or reading up on the newest video game she’s playing! 💗

– Lisa from Way Too Fantasy: She makes this incredible TBR Shelf Cleanup Series that never fails to make me ponder more about my own book collection. By deciding what to get rid of or keep in her shelf, she’s always delving into a new obscure fantasy that I probably would have never heard of before if it wasn’t for her series. Its super fun and a staple in my weekly blog reading! 💫

– Joy from Ohsrslybooks: As someone who doesn’t read a lot of romance on the blog (especially adult, because this is mainly a YA space) I’m always appreciative of Joy’s content. She’s always reviewing some great romance reads and no doubt, I’m discovering some awesome recommendations through her blog! 😍

Library In The Tower: There’s always fun bookish lists and features on Library’s blog, that have such creativity! For example: On A Theme is about a particular “theme” for certain books that are listed together in a post, which is lots of fun! Super thrilled to have discovered Library’s blog this year! 📚💗

– Cossette from Tea Time Lit: After discovering Cossette through her amazing edits, I fell in love with her content! Also around the same time I started Down Comes The Night, she was an avid supporter and passionate about it and I loved reading her tweets or blog posts that really showed how Saft’s novel impacted her. Of course, I also adore reading her other content on the blog she co-runs with a few other people. Very glad to have found Cossette’s blog and read all her wonderful posts! 🥳

– Cherelle from A Bolt Out Of The Book: I distinctly remember discovering Cherelle’s blog early into January and not only fell in love with her blog graphics, but the amazing way she talks about books in her reviews! Am in awe of the way she describes all the books she reads and how her posts make it impossible for me to figure out what amazing books to read next (…like Spin The Dawn or The Ones Were Meant To Find, cannot decide)! 🤩💗

Most beautiful book you bought or received this year?

There are so many I could probably list for this post, but I wanted to highlight a more recent purchase that I’m super excited about and that’s A Trial Of Sorcerers by Elise Kova!

Back in the early days of my blog I delved into more indie YA through Elise’s Air Awakens series, which has a special place in my heart. So, this year now that a new spin-off title set in this world was finally releasing I of course had to buy a copy.

As I was delving more into who the cover artist was for this post, I thought that the original cover designer Merilliza Chan was the illustrator for Trial Of Sorcerers, but it turns out it was actually Marie Magny! I like how the cover evokes the same feel of the original series and am of course thrilled to have a copy in my collection.

Can’t wait to dive back into the Air Awakens world and this cover is just 🤩✨ I love the detail of Eira’s outfit, the colors, and beautiful background.

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Well I’m sure us bibliophiles can agree there’s always a never-endling list of books we’re looking to read! Here’s a few for me that come to mind:

The sequel to Anna K., The Jasmine Throne, upcoming volumes of Spy X Family, Latinx-authored releases, also let’s just add any YA books published in 2019 and 2020 that I still haven’t read. 😂📚

That’s been the Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag created by Ely & Chami. Hope you enjoyed learning more about my reading so far this year, but now I’d like to hear from you!

What are some of your favorite reads so far this year? Any you desperately want to read before 2021 ends? Have you done this tag? (If so, feel free to share below so I can read it too 💕)

Manga Starter Kit: Recommendations For Book Bloggers

With the amount of manga reviews on the blog, frankly this post shouldn’t have surprised me! Over the past few weeks, I decided it was finally time to share my own personalized list of manga series for book bloggers who are new to the space or those who just want to learn about more series. When I found it such a struggle to pick up prose novels in 2020, manga really helped save my reading for the year! There’s thousands of series out there that even I feel overwhelmed at times. From the distinct artwork to engaging story that builds across each volume, I’ve found so much joy in rediscovering my love of manga again, so my hope is to share that with you through today’s post!

Before diving into the post, I often get asked where to find some of these manga or where to read them, so I’ll also be listing resources for sites to read digitally, etc., with that said onto the list!

The Girl From The Other Side: Siúil, a Rún by Nagabe

Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
Release Date:
January 27, 2017
Translator:
Adrienne Beck

Summary: Once upon a time…In a land far away, there were two kingdoms: the Outside, where twisted beasts roamed that could curse with a touch, and the Inside, where humans lived in safety and peace. The girl and the beast should never have met, but when they do, a quiet fairytale begins. This is a story of two people–one human, one inhuman–who linger in the hazy twilight that separates night from day.

Despite having only read two volumes of The Girl From The Other Side now over 3 years ago, the artwork alone makes this series quite memorable. I definitely remember when it was a booktube favorite some time back, but with the quiet simplicity to the story, it definitely feels like a perfect starting point for bloggers new to manga! What keeps me tethered to this world is not only the threads of mystery, but the endearing characters of Shiva (a human girl) and her monster/demon-human hybrid guardian named Teacher. The almost cross-hatched, fairytale-esque artwork is also equally haunting and captivating. I do hope to continue this series soon and believe it’s worth the read.

Current # of Volumes out: 10Bookshop The Book Depository

Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama

Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: April 2, 2019
Translator: Stephen Kohler

Summary: In a world where everyone takes wonders like magic spells and dragons for granted, Coco is a girl with a simple dream: She wants to be a witch. But everybody knows magicians are born, not made, and Coco was not born with a gift for magic. Resigned to her un-magical life, Coco is about to give up on her dream to become a witch…until the day she meets Qifrey, a mysterious, traveling magician. After secretly seeing Qifrey perform magic in a way she’s never seen before, Coco soon learns what everybody “knows” might not be the truth, and discovers that her magical dream may not be as far away as it may seem…

The Witch Hat Atelier series is PHENOMENAL, truly has solidified itself as one of my favorite fantasy manga series of all time! Shirahama’s artwork is presented to almost tell its own story alongside the main plot, with influences from European or old-style fairytale artwork. Through her attention to detail when it comes to the unique paneling, overlapping her artwork on the panels, creating a 3-dimensional environment, and how she stylizes her frames to interact and blend alongside the characters is nothing short of brilliant. Coco is a girl whose grown up loving magic, but has no magic of her own. It’s only when her path crosses with that of a traveling witch named Qifrey, that her adventure in the world of magic begins! Witch Hat also has some of the best character designs I’ve ever seen with a story that’s equally captivating! There’s great worldbuilding, a unique magic system twists, mystery, friendship, and adventure! Highly recommend this as a series beginner, it’s breathtaking and a true masterpiece in the making.

– Current # Of Volumes: 7 – BookshopThe Book Depository

Spy X Family by Tatsuya Endo

Publisher: Viz Media
Release Date: June 2, 2020
Translator: Casey Loe

Summary: Master spy Twilight is the best at what he does when it comes to going undercover on dangerous missions in the name of a better world. But when he receives the ultimate impossible assignment—get married and have a kid—he may finally be in over his head! Not one to depend on others, Twilight has his work cut out for him procuring both a wife and a child for his mission to infiltrate an elite private school. What he doesn’t know is that the wife he’s chosen is an assassin and the child he’s adopted is a telepath!

If your kind of story can best be summed up as an amalgamation of top-tier tropes and found family, then you must pick up Spy X Family! This action-packed, espionage comedy follows a master spy whose next mission involves going undercover to keep the peace between two neighboring countries. His mission your wondering: It’s to create a FAKE FAMILY. With an assassin as a wife and a telepath for a daughter, the Forger’s must present themselves as the “perfect family” and still keep their own secrets underwraps. Humor and hijinks ensue with each volume and you won’t be able to put it down. Pick up this series, you will NOT be disappointed!

TROPES include: Found family, marriage of convenience, secret-keeping, and every volume is pure CHAOS!

– Current # Of Volumes: 4 – BookshopFree Preview of Vol. 1 on Viz Media

I Hear The Sunspot by Yuki Fumino

Publisher: One Peace Books
Release Date:
November 3, 2017

Summary: Because of a hearing disability, Kohei is often misunderstood and has trouble integrating into life on campus, so he learns to keep his distance. That is until he meets the outspoken and cheerful Taichi. He tells Kohei that his hearing loss is not his fault. Taichi’s words cut through Kohei’s usual defense mechanisms and open his heart. More than friends, less than lovers, their relationship changes Kohei forever.

I Hear The Sunspot holds a special place in my heart being one of the first mangas I’d read after not picking one up for years! Focused heavily on its characters, this series will capture your heart from page 1. Following college students, Kohei has a hearing disability, struggles connecting with others and making friends, feeling quite lonely. Then one day he meets outgoing Taichi, so the two become friends and maybe more? Their friendship and relationship is a fundamental layer to this story that is present across each volume that I’ve read so far! The deeply personal, emotional journeys of Kohei and Taichi are what keep you anchored to this quiet, moving series till the very end. Fumino’s series also takes time to thoroughly discuss and explore different layers to Kohei’s hearing disability. Definitely a more quiet, sweet, slow-burn kind of contemporary, but so worth the read!

– Current # Of Volumes: 4 – BookshopThe Book Depository

The Fox & Little Tanuki by Mi Tagawa

Publisher: Tokyo Pop
Release Date: March 17, 2020
Translator: Katie Kimura

Summary: Long ago, the gods granted a few special animals great powers… but not all those animals used their magical abilities for good! Senzou the Fox Spirit in particular grew too brash and arrogant, abusing his strength until the gods imprisoned him for his bad behavior. Three hundred years later, he’s finally been released, but only on one condition– he can’t have his any of his abilities back until he successfully helps a tanuki cub named Manpachi become an assistant to the gods. Unfortunately for Senzou, there’s no cheating when it comes to completing his task! The magic beads around his neck make sure he can’t wander too far from his charge or shirk his duties, and so… Senzou the once-great Fox Spirit must now figure out how to be an actually-great babysitter to a mischievous little tanuki or risk being stuck without his powers forever!

This manga is equal parts sweet and entertaining, while also tugging at the heart strings! Senzou is an evil fox spirit whose been freed after 300 years and his task (in order to regain his powers), is to train a tanuki cub, turning it into a servant of the gods. Have I also mentioned this features the GRUMPY x SUNSHINE trope? The evil, nefarious fox slowly begins to care for the tanuki while also maintaining his cold exterior (top tier execution of this trope!). I can definitely see this as a great starter manga because the story is quite straightforward, but also layered with mystery to the main characters and filled with lots of Japanese mythology. It’s such a page-turner!

– Current # of Volumes: 3 – BookshopThe Book Depository

Silver Spoon by Hiromu Arakawa

Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date:
February 27, 2018
Translator: Amanda Haley

Summary: Time for a change of pace. Yuugo Hachiken flees the hustle and bustle of city life to enroll at Oezo Agricultural High School. At first he’s just trying to outrun his problems, but instead he finds a place for himself in this quaint rural community. Having always been at the top of his class, Yuugo assumes a rural school will be a breeze, but mucking out stables, gathering eggs, and chasing errant calves takes a lot out of him-and fills him with something he’s never experienced before. Surrounded by endless fields and fresh air, Yuugo discovers a new connection to the land and to life…Springtime begins at Ezo AG! Between the classrooms and cowpatties, the boy becomes a man.

Out of all the series in this list, Silver Spoon is one I haven’t read but from the summary alone it looks to be a nice introduction to a slice-of-life series, which I think bloggers would really enjoy. As a book blogger who is still trying to find new manga series this one appealed to me because it seems like a very wholesome, slower paced story. Also, interesting fact, if the author’s name looks familiar its because she also wrote Full-Metal Alchemist! [Unread]

Current # of Volumes: – BookshopThe Book Depository

Love In Focus by Yoko Nogiri

Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: March 19, 2019
Translator: Althea and Aldena Haley

From the creator of New York Times bestselling manga That Wolf-Boy Is Mine! comes a feel-good romance about a teenage girl whose passion for photography leads her to a new school, a new dorm, and a new love triangle! Mako’s always had a passion for photography. When she loses someone dear to her, she clings to her art as a relic of the close relationship she once had…Luckily, her childhood best friend Kei encourages her to come to his high school and join their prestigious photo club. With nothing to lose, Mako grabs her camera and moves into the dorm where Kei and his classmates live. Soon, a fresh take on life, along with a mysterious new muse, begin to come into focus!

As someone who struggles to get into shojo titles, I think Love In Focus is a great place to start for book bloggers. It follows Mako a passionate photographer who moves into a boarding house and attends a new school after joining a photo club with her childhood friend Kei. However, she soon finds a new subject for her photos, one of the boys who lives at the boarding house too. While it can seem like an obvious love triangle situation here, the way the characters backstories unfold and their dynamic with Mako felt very well developed. I personally loved the art-style and how it portrayed lovely backgrounds, character designs, and if you want to read a series for the interesting romance, friendship, etc. this is a WONDERFUL series that I recommend. At only 3 volumes, this is also a great pick if you are interested in checking out short, completed series!

Current # Of Volumes (Completed): 3 – BookshopThe Book Depository

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun by Izumi Tsubaki

Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: November 17, 2015
Translator: Leighann Harvey

To the eyes of classmate Chiyo Sakura, high school student Umetarou Nozaki–brawny of build and brusque of tongue–is a dreamboat! When Chiyo finally works up the courage to tell Nozaki how she feels about him, she knows rejection is on the table…but getting recruited as a mangaka’s assistant?! Never in a million years! As Chiyo quickly discovers, Nozaki-kun, the boy of Chiyo’s dreams, is a manga artist…a hugely popular shoujo manga artist, that is! But for someone who makes a living drawing sweet girly romances, Nozaki-kun is a little slow on the uptake when it comes to matters of the heart in reality. And so Chiyo’s daily life of manga making and heartache begins!

Nozaki is truly the single greatest piece of romantic comedy fiction [emphasis on COMEDY] I’ve ever read (and watched). The plot itself starts on a rather hilarious note and sets the tone for all future shenanigans that follow throughout this series. Chiyo is a high school student who has a crush on her classmate Nozaki, but when she finally gathers up the courage to tell him how she feels, he 100% misunderstands her, leading Chiyo to become his manga assistant. From that point on, Chiyo’s connecting with more of her classmates and Nozaki, building some awesome friendships, but seeing them grow together across their various wacky adventures is a highlight of Tsubaki’s series. What follows is great comedic timing and an utterly clever subversions of typical romance/shojo tropes! Presented in the 4-panel style, the reason this series would appeal to book bloggers is because its very episodic so you can enjoy it at your own pace and the author’s fun spin on tropes you might not have seen before. This is a fantastic series I picked up early on as I was getting back into manga in 2016 and it truly holds up year after year! Tsubaki’s brilliant take on tropes makes this series a memorable one, still going strong at 11 volumes!

Current # Of Volumes: 11 – BookshopThe Book Depository

Additional Recommendations // UNREAD

Here’s a few more mangas that I’ve been planning on reading and based on the summary they definitely sound like they would appeal to book bloggers who are searching for more series!

Natsume’s Book Of Friends by Yuki Midorikawa

Takashi Natsume has always been aware of the supernatural world, but after he inherits a magical book from his grandmother, the supernatural world is aware of him! Takashi Natsume can see the spirits and demons that hide from the rest of humanity. He has always been set apart from other people because of his gift, drifting from relative to relative, never fitting in. Now he’s a troubled high school student who has come to live in the small town where his grandmother grew up. And there he discovers that he has inherited more than just the Sight from the mysterious Reiko. When Reiko was Takashi’s age, she bound the names of demons and spirits in her Book of Friends, enslaving them to her capricious whim. Now Takashi is the owner of the book, and the creatures will do anything to get their names back.

I don’t often reach for older manga series, but the way mythology blends in a contemporary setting sounds like a lot of fun it also seems like a quiet series, focused on the characters and the world. I’m looking forward to checking this one out!

The Apothecary Diaries by Natsu Hyuuga

After breaking a “curse” on the imperial heirs, a palace servant with training in herbal medicine is promoted up the ranks to food taster…and right into the thick of palace intrigue in this lushly illustrated period mystery series! Maomao, a young woman trained in the art of herbal medicine, is forced to work as a lowly servant in the inner palace. Though she yearns for life outside its perfumed halls, she isn’t long for a life of drudgery! Using her wits to break a “curse” afflicting the imperial heirs, Maomao attracts the attentions of the handsome eunuch Jinshi and is promoted to attendant food taster. But Jinshi has other plans for the erstwhile apothecary, and soon Maomao is back to brewing potions and…solving mysteries?!

What’s drawn me to this series is the story which sounds so fascinating, a historical series following a food taster who gets tangled up in palace intrigue, court politics, and mysteries?! Sign me up! The cover itself is also gorgeous and this one sounds like it’ll be a very page-turning read!

Restaurant From Another World by Junpei Inuzuka

In Tokyo lies a small restaurant called “Western Cuisine Nekoya,” ordinary in every way–save one. Every Saturday, its door connects to another world! Follow along as a cavalcade of curious guests from half-elves to samurai, dragons, halflings and vampires enter its premises, all with the same goal in mind: to fill their stomachs with the most mouth-watering of foods.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, then you would know I’ve been trying to finish this series, especially book 1, for YEARS (hopefully putting it on yet another list will motivate me). It’s genuinely such a cozy, feel-good series that more people should read. If quiet, fantasy stories are your thing, you should check this out! Its about a seemingly typical restaurant called “Western Cuisine Nekoya.” However, on Saturdays it opens up a portal where all kinds of people and magical creatures sit and enjoy some delicious food. Technically I’ve only started the light novel, but I love how each visitor and food is talked about in-depth. Such a unique series!

Resources:
If you are looking for more accessible ways to read manga here are a couple apps/websites for you to check out if you’d like to read a few chapters (or entire series) of select manga titles:

*Bookwalker is an online digital manga store that offers previews, however it doesn’t include Viz Media titles

Hope you enjoyed my manga starter recommendations, this is hopefully only just PART 1 of a new series on the blog! Thanks for reading! If you are new to these titles, I do hope you’ll check them out!

✨Do you read a lot of manga? What are some starter series you recommend or have any particular favorites? Have you read any from this list? ✨

Book Blogger Resources: Crafting Book Reviews

In the world of book blogging, book reviews are a staple of the community. Our thoughts, emotions, and musings on a particular book can surprisingly be compiled into a single post. However, this task is not always easy and crafting a review takes time.

Once you close the final page, your mind is probably reeling with endless thoughts on how the world, characters, and story made you feel (whether positively or not).

Regardless, it takes time and there’s many story elements to consider when writing reviews and in reality, us bloggers put ourselves under such pressure to accomplish this seemingly impossible task time and time again.

Book reviews are a way for us to sort of unveil our own experiences when reading a particular book and if we absolutely love it, reviews have the special sort of magic in making us feel like we are pushing the book into readers hands right then and there.

That’s why in my second Book Blogger Resources post, I’ll be sharing a broad list of resources filled with articles (and blog posts) that can help guide you in your own reviews. In addition, I will also highlight some of my own tips and offer any advice I can.

📚☕ BLOGS & ARTICLES 📚☕

The Quiet Pond: CW crafted a list featuring 63 prompts to help you when you are stuck on writing a book review. Featuring categories such as writing, plot, characters, worldbuilding, etc. this post highlights different angles you can examine these elements from with the variety of questions. There’s also questions focusing on positives / negatives for more clarity too.

This post offers a lot of distinct elements to think about when trying to write a review. I enjoy looking back at this post when I’m unsure of other topics to cover in an occasional review.

Purdue Owl (Online Writing Lab): As a university student, this site has been a life-saver when it comes to citations, however I recently discovered this wonderful article on “Writing A Book Review” and believe it has a lot of phenomenal key concepts to think about as you’re reading.

It mentions 5 broad elements that can make up the structure of your review such as Characters, Themes, Argument, Key Ideas, and Quotes. There’s great descriptions for each of these and overall I love how this post was structured.

Grammarly: Through a very easy to read How-To, Grammarly’s blog post features some tips on what to include when writing, such as a hook to capture reader’s attention and how to describe your praises or critiques. It also features examples which can be really helpful.

📚☕ 24hr.YABookBlog Reviewing Tips 📚☕

Figuring out what sticks
Once I finish a book there’s always a particular element that stayed with me long after I finish reading. It can truly end up being anything from the arc of a character to the atmosphere, writing, or a combination. Focus on a particular element that stuck with you about the book, to help anchor your review.

Whether I loved the book or thought it was okay, there’s always something I got out of reading it and recognizing that has helped me to gather my thoughts more clearly over the years.

Short Reviews
Despite my preference for writing long reviews, there’s a lot of value in short reviews. They don’t have to be 1,000 word essays if you don’t want them too. Remember that your opinion is what matters and as long as you get that across, don’t worry about the length. As the old saying goes, sometimes “less is more!”

Figuring out your structure
Sometimes this can change even for me depending on the book, but as general rule I always like to include at least 1-3 core elements of a book to discuss. This helps me create a beginning, middle, and end when explaining my thoughts.

For example: I recently read A Neon Darkness by Lauren Shippen which is a prequel/origin story to an antagonist in her podcast The Bright Sessions. Something that helped me figure out these core elements was using Tip #1 [Figuring out what sticks], which ended up being how she humanized the villain who is also our protagonist. This then led me to find my other elements to discuss such as the canon of the original podcast and the character’s emotional journey.

“She does a fantastic job at humanizing even the most morally questionable characters, if anything it made me realize why creators are hesitant at crafting stories from villains perspectives…”24hryabookblog, Excerpt from my review of A Neon Darkness by Lauren Shippen

Don’t Ignore Worldbuilding Details
Whether it’s a fantasy, sci-fi or even contemporary, authors always take time to build a world for the story they tell. As you read, take note as to what those details are. Often times the world can give a lot of insight into the plot, society as a whole, atmosphere, how the protagonist(s) interpret it or how the world influences the characters themselves. Noticing these details can help you to explain the worldbuilding in your reviews, or perhaps the character’s place within it.

Worldbuilding can appear in a variety of ways such as the magic system, the setting, writing style, and even the development or expansion of specific details as the story progresses.

Brief BONUS tip on reviewing comics (or graphic novels) insp. by StoriedShelves response to my post asking for topic suggestions in this post:

This is something I’ve learned over the years and I’m always practicing with each review, but I think it’s important to also look at the art style. Think about how the art style adds to the story and describe what you like about it. While the story can be more fast-paced than a typical prose novel, I’d say take time to look and appreciate the art too.

To conclude, these are just some of my tips for including particular elements within a book to your review if you’re struggling or stumped on how to approach certain parts of the process. Sometimes it can feel like quite the challenge and as Marie from Drizzle And Hurricane Books said so graciously in her 2018 blog post which captured my thoughts exactly, “Reviewing a book starts the moment you are reading…” Your thoughts, opinions, and emotions are a part of the reading experience from beginning to end, so be sure to consider that if you need extra guidance in your posts.

Hope my post has offered some value to all of you bookish reviewers and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

✨ What do you enjoy about writing reviews? ✨ How do you decide what you want to write about in your book review? ✨ Will you use any of the resources or my personal tips in your own reviews?

*Note: If you do end up using my personal tips and were influenced by reading my post, PLEASE let me know & link this post (credit me) it would mean a lot to me knowing my resources helped other reviewers or bloggers out there with their own posts!

Recommending Books From Authors Of Color Inspired by Dark Academia

Dark Academia is an aesthetic I’m utterly fascinated by. I first discovered it through Tumblr, though in recent years it’s increased in popularity due to Instagram and more recently, TikTok. It’s an aesthetic that at its core promotes the pursuit of learning, literature (oftentimes classics), the arts, and feels almost timeless. Although its origins are unknown, it can be defined by this NYT article as a niche subculture where there’s a “heavy emphasis on reading, writing, learning — and a look best described as traditional-academic-with-a-gothic-edge” (New York Times, Bateman 2020).

After re-watching ‘Dead Poet’s Society’ atleast 3 times in the past month, my love for dark academia returned which quickly led me reading up on articles, watching videos, and getting lost in those tumblr aesthetics again. However, it’s also an aesthetic that has rightfully received criticism for traditionally ignoring POC or other marginalized communities. That’s why today I wanted to share a list of books written by authors of color that either are pitched as OR remind me of the Dark Academia aesthetic featuring YA, Manga, and SFF!

Young Adult

1. Nocturna by Maya Motayne (A Forgery Of Magic #1)

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

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

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

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

Why: Easily one of my favorite fantasy novels, what stuck with me about Nocturna was Motayne’s focus on culture, history and the Spanish language that weaves its way throughout the entirety of its story. They can be seen so vibrantly through it’s setting, the country of Castallan. These elements fit that academic idea that are a foundation of this aesthetic. [This YA Fantasy is also #ownvoices as its inspired by Maya’s Dominican heritage].

2. Ace Of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
Release Date:
June 1, 2021

Summary: Gossip Girl meets Get Out in this YA Contemporary Thriller about two students, Devon & Chiamaka, and their struggles against an anonymous bully.

When two Niveus Private Academy students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are selected to be part of the elite school’s senior class prefects, it looks like their year is off to an amazing start. After all, not only does it look great on college applications, but it officially puts each of them in the running for valedictorian, too.

Shortly after the announcement is made, though, someone who goes by Aces begins using anonymous text messages to reveal secrets about the two of them that turn their lives upside down and threaten every aspect of their carefully planned futures.

As Aces shows no sign of stopping, what seemed like a sick prank quickly turns into a dangerous game, with all the cards stacked against them. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop Aces before things become incredibly deadly?

Why: Àbíké-Íyímídé has pitched the novel as featuring the DA aesthetic and is set at an elite private school.

3. How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao (HWFA #1)
Release Date: August 3, 2021

Summary: In a YA thriller that is Crazy Rich Asians meets One of Us is Lying, students at an elite prep school are forced to confront their secrets when their ex-best friend turns up dead.

Nancy Luo is shocked when her former best friend, Jamie Ruan, top ranked junior at Sinclair Prep, goes missing, and then is found dead. Nancy is even more shocked when word starts to spread that she and her friends–Krystal, Akil, and Alexander–are the prime suspects, thanks to “The Proctor,” someone anonymously incriminating them via the school’s social media app.

They all used to be Jamie’s closest friends, and she knew each of their deepest, darkest secrets. Now, somehow The Proctor knows them, too. The four must uncover the true killer before The Proctor exposes more than they can bear and costs them more than they can afford, like Nancy’s full scholarship. Soon, Nancy suspects that her friends may be keeping secrets from her, too. 

Why: Similar to the novel mentioned above, Zhao has also pitched the novel as featuring this particular aesthetic as well.

Science Fiction Fantasy / Epic Fantasy

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

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

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

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

Why: In this spin off to Suri’s Books Of Ambha it features a young grief-stricken woman with magic in her blood and a scholarly prince who work together to save a crumbling empire. Have I mentioned that Arwa alongside studious prince Zahir literally spend chapters reading, studying, analyzing poetry and discussing tea together?! That is such a Dark Academia mood!

Manga

5. Spy X Family Vol. 1 by Tatsuya Endo

Summary: Master spy Twilight is the best at what he does when it comes to going undercover on dangerous missions in the name of a better world. But when he receives the ultimate impossible assignment—get married and have a kid—he may finally be in over his head!

Not one to depend on others, Twilight has his work cut out for him procuring both a wife and a child for his mission to infiltrate an elite private school. What he doesn’t know is that the wife he’s chosen is an assassin and the child he’s adopted is a telepath!

Why: Dark Academia is also known for it’s focus on the mystery or thriller atmosphere and this manga perfectly captures that…with a twist! A spy, telepath, and assassin become a fake family and are attempting to infiltrate an elite private school for the master spy Twilight to complete his mission. There’s also the element of pursuing knowledge that becomes apparent as you are intertwined with the unique role of each member of the Forger family. But of course, many secrets are kept in this dark, thrilling, and entertaining series.

Hope you enjoyed my intro to my Dark Academia book recommendations, I’d love to hear your thoughts on these in the comments below! Planning on making more posts like this again soon, thanks for reading!

Is this an aesthetic you enjoy or any elements in particular you enjoy about DARK ACADEMIA? What are your thoughts on the books recommended in this list?

Where’s All The Book-to-Video Game Adaptations? {Book Blog Discussion}

It’s no surprise that I’m eager to see book adaptations break the mold when it comes to the medium in which they are told (you can read my discussion on Animation, here). So when I read adult SFF author Alix E. Harrow’s Tweet wondering why more books aren’t being adapted into video games, there was a lot I had to say on the subject which led me to create today’s post.

In the years before I found my love for reading, video games were my go-to hobby. Similar to my TBR though, there’s many games I’ve neglected to return to over the past few years, I’m always keeping updated on new or interesting titles that catch my attention. It’s my firm belief that mediums such as animation and video games are very much sidelined when it comes to creating adaptations based on written source material. They are an innovative form of storytelling that can be done in an endless number of formats, yet is often left out of the adaptation conversation. Now I’m very aware of the budget (and technology) required to create projects of this scale…however, I find that I’m always left wondering the “what ifs” and the potential to create a more interactive, immersive experience through the video game format.

One that many are aware of such as The Witcher, which is now a hit Netflix series, was actually first adapted into a successful video game franchise, starting in 2007 as an action RPG. Even Sir Terry Pratchett’s expansive Discworld Series was adapted into a point-and-click adventure game in the 90’s.

Book adaptations in a way are occupying a unique space right now where they are going direct to consumers, for example through Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and other streaming services [with Shadow And Bone, Always And Forever, Lara Jean (To All The Boys 3) slated to arrive early this year]. Now consider mobile games you can play directly on your phone, software like Steam to download games instantly, etc.

The biggest space where I can see already published books being developed into video games is most definitely in the SFF, science fiction and fantasy genres. With a variety of publishers from Tor to Harper, Orbit, etc., there’s lots of potential to bring epic sci-fi/fantasy series, novellas, you name it to the unique market of gaming too.

The reason video games carry such a particular and notable weight in terms of adaptations is the immersive quality to them. When you enter the world of a video game, you become the main character (or characters) in a way you can’t do when watching the finished product of a television series or film. Sure you experience both in very distinct ways, but video games offer the exclusive opportunity for you to experience the world, connect with the cast, and carry on the story at your own pace as the MC yourself.

Similar for book-to-screen adaptations, video games can embed the story elements of our favorite books (especially fantasy or science fiction) through a plethora of ways, such as the expansive world or setting, character design, outfits, the environmental storytelling, architecture, npc dialogue, even the soundtrack.

Video games at their core are comprised of challenges or quests, engaging mechanics, and a fundamental goal for it’s story. The reason that books can make such an impact in this already wide-ranging market with genres, animation, and narratives of all kinds is that they carry all the these key ingredients that can carry over into a fun, dynamic video game space.

However, aside from storytelling another vital piece of the video game recipe is the gameplay (or combat) itself. From puzzle games, to open-world settings, RPG’s, strategy, visual novels, VR, action-adventure, and so on…the narrative within books themselves can allow for an endless of possibility of gameplay mechanics in order to tell the story.

The story and game design (or mechanics) in my opinion, work best when they are interconnected and benefit or even build each other to tell plot in the best way possible. The activity of reading a book and playing a video game, require very different muscles. For one, in video games it’s all about interaction, strategy, in order to actively progress through. However, that’s exactly why they would make such a great medium for adapting books, for those who are familiar with the story, now you become a part of it. Speaking to the other characters, voyaging across the setting, or something as simple as interacting with environment.

There’s also infinite possibilities when choosing core elements of the book’s plot, character, dialogue and world to create specific tasks, goals, or quests, even cutscenes that dictate how the in-world setting and story of a video game would operate. Thus, this creates an incredibly narrative-driven experience.

Now for the rest of the post I’m going to list a few books that I think would make great video games and delve into what I think the best gameplay/mechanic and narrative that would fit best with a particular book! Now there’s tons of books I’ve read that would make amazing video games, but these are just some I think I could explain with the most clarity…however, of course PLEASE recommend your own and share your dream book-to-game adaptations with me in the comments as well!

Love Sugar Magic: A Dash Of Trouble by Anna Meriano: Because I’m currently reading the sequel as I draft this post, there was a spark of an idea I just couldn’t let go of!

This game I can perfectly picture (with cover artist, Mirelle Ortega’s beautiful artwork) as a very cute point-and-click, narrative game where the player can create delicious and magical treats from the Amor y Azúcar Panadería as the main character Leo.

Not only is the storytelling of this series incredibly wholesome, but Meriano develops a unique magic system surrounded by baking and brujeria skills of the Logroño family.

The backgrounds of the bakery, even the specific baking ingredients, and magical items the Logroño family uses would all be at the center of this quiet contemporary fantasy game.

Scavenge The Stars by Tara Sim: From the moment I stepped into the lavish, tropical, rich and detailed setting of Moray, a thought that stuck with me throughout the entirety of the novel was…”WOW, this needs to be an video game tbh.” This Monte Cristo retelling is filled with revenge, corruption, but at its heart a tale of legacy and identity that would be perfectly executed as action role-playing game.

I can clearly picture this novel as an adventure RPG filled with quests, treasures, sea faring, intrigue, and above all an open world where you can be both Cayo and Amaya as they uncover more secrets about the dual-sided city of Moray.

The setting and atmosphere that Sim weaves throughout the novel would perfectly transition to a format for players to explore the world themselves as they journey either Cayo or Amaya’s stories.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi: This idea did not even cross my mind until I saw fellow booktwt friends mention that TGW would make an amazing puzzle game, and I agree!

Set in Paris 1889 and on the verge of the Exposition Universelle, Chokshi’s magic system and adorable crew of misfits would be perfect as a visual novel melded with the strategy of a puzzle game to tell the story of the crew on a mission to hunt down an ancient artifact.

What would be at the core of this fictional game, in my opinion, would be the atmospheric soundtrack, detailed characters/text boxes and backgrounds making for fun interactive puzzles across Paris, even the focus on narrative to uncover the secrets, but also delve into the various themes Chokshi centers into her novel.

Skip by Molly Mendoza: One of my favorite graphic novels of 2019, this graphic novel that blew me away with its beautiful storytelling and surrealist, colorful artwork (Seriously if you haven’t read this graphic novel please read my REVIEW if you need more convincing).

This is set in a post-apocalyptic world where protagonists Bloom and Gloopy are from different dimensions and become best friends, while also trying to find their way back home. When I think of this as a video game, I picture it with a Journey-esque quality (if you know what game I’m talking about) where there’s no health bar/status and is just about exploring the open world setting and interacting with the world or characters.

Basically no overly serious quests, just traveling in a marvelously illustrated world and immersing yourself in the aesthetics of it all. I also picture the cutscenes done in the style of Mendoza’s artwork from the graphic novel.

Perhaps for a future post I can share more of these ideas for book-to-game, but to conclude I had a lot of fun writing + crafting this post, and sure hope you enjoyed reading it. Perhaps one day studios will experiment more in animation and video game adaptations when it comes to books!

Do you have an dream books-to-videogame adaptations? What kind of game format do you imagine and thoughts on the ones I mentioned above? 📚🎮💖

Book Blogger Resources: Creating Graphics For Posts and Organizing Your Reading

In 2021 a goal of mine is to bring bookish posts that helps other book bloggers and creators by sharing lists of various resources to alleviate the stress when your unsure of how to create your next graphic, organize your reading, making posts, etc. Book Bloggers put in numerous hours into crafting content and I’d love for this series to help either new or long-term creators utilize these tools to elevate your amazing work.

When I first began my blog in 2015, I never knew about these resources for creating graphics and when you think about it, visuals are such an important part of how we interact with content.

Over the years I’ve gotten a better hang of making banners for my posts and want to share what I’ve learned with all of you! I’ve created a broad resource for book bloggers looking to make graphics for their posts, blog and social media. I’ll be splitting it up by graphic design platforms, places where you can find images, and chat about places where you can keep your reading organized (aside from Goodreads).

📚☕ GRAPHICS 📚☕

Canva: This FREE graphic design platform is filled with numerous templates and layouts making it incredibly easy to create banners and featured images for your blog posts /content. There’s even specific templates for platforms such as Instagram and Twitter providing you with the perfect sized image.

There’s various tools that provide free backgrounds or images, text, and design elements so you can customize your graphic in any way you’d like. I use this a lot for my own blog and highly recommend using it if you haven’t already!

FhotoJet: Another website perfect for creating graphics, there’s a lot of premade templates, images, and text available to use. I tried this one out without needing to create an account, so if you want to make something super quick, this is a nice website! Recently discovered it and I think it’s worth checking out.

📚☕ Free Stock Images 📚☕

Unsplash: This website is full of thousands of free stock photos and the layout of the website makes it very simple to scroll, search, even find photos based on locations or tags. I’ve honestly spent hours scrolling on this site and am always left pleasantly surprised by the range of photos available. I’m pretty sure sites like ‘Book Riot use it for their posts, so I recommend checking out their Twitter to see how some of the photos look.

Additional sites that have free vectors, images, or illustrations: FREEPIKPIXABYPEXELS

Museums and access to images in the public domain: This is a unique resource I’ve only learned more about over the past couple years and I don’t utilize it much, but it’s a fantastic way to incorporate artwork into your graphics if you’re interested. According to Creative Law Center, this post contains various galleries of museum artwork you can access for free (just as long as you select “public domain” or similar wording under the filters when browsing). They are free to download and offer a large variety of work to view.

(Or whenever you want to use artwork/photographs provided by museums, just make sure it has the Creative Commons License)

📚☕ Organizing Your Reading 📚☕

With many readers actively searching for Goodreads alternatives that offer more features and customization, here’s a few places you should check out!

Storygraph: You’ve probably heard of this platform over the past year and what makes this website great, aside from its user-friendly and eye-catching layout, this is the place to “[help] you track your reading and choose your next book based on your mood and your favorite topics and themes.” Its a great website to discover new reads from the ‘Browse Books’ section and learn more about a book through different literary devices or elements like tone and pacing. There’s also more customizable ratings letting you be more specific and I think it also lists content warnings for books.

I haven’t spent too much time on my account, but I’d love to check back and see all the new features the Storygraph has added now that it’s out of Beta mode.

Booksloth (App): One of my favorite bookish apps by far now is Booksloth, I think its such an inviting space and truly makes reading feel more like a community activity through it’s discussion section, customizable shelves, and by making it incredibly easy to customize your profile making reading feel more personal and fun!

According to their website Booksloth is all about offering “personalized book recommendations” and making it easy to join their “bookish community.”

I’ve been meaning to get back to using this app because another one of my favorite features is how it lets you rate different story elements of a book and just discover new reads (or even recommend some) in the discussion section.

Readng: This reading tracker launched I think within the past couple years (2019-2020) and I’ve only just discovered it in the past month, but overall I love what I’m seeing. I like the layout of the site and how clean the design is. Its so easy to create collections for specific books, track current/finished/tbr reads (all determined with specific icons on the navigation bar), and there’s upcoming additions like statistics, reviews, and reading goals!

I like how it’s easy to see a live feed of other users activity for the books their reading and import directly from Goodreads.

Digital Spreadsheets: As I’m sure you’ve probably seen around the book community from different bookish creators are reading trackers through spreadsheets. Creators often make blog posts or videos and link their templates which provide an easy way to track your reading in a more detailed fashion.

When seeing all the different kinds of templates out there it can be a bit overwhelming, but over the past year I’ve found its a great way to not only track reading, but other specific book-related stuff too. In a future blog post I’d love delve more into my 2021 spreadsheet and offer unique ways to create your own.

Overall what makes spreadsheets such a great resource for book bloggers (or any book content creator) is how easy it is to customize it in whatever way you want and there’s lots of different digital tools you can use to get started! There’s places like Google docs or sheets, using templates, maybe even Notion, or other note-taking websites!

Hope my blog post offered some value for book bloggers or other bookish creators and I’ve love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

✨ What sites do you use to create graphics? ✨ ✨How do you track your reading?✨ ✨Will you use any of the resources I mentioned above?✨

Taking a Blog Hiatus…sort of? {Blog Discussion}

Hello everyone, on the eve of the new year that is 2021 I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my blog, reading, reviewing, basically a lot. For months I’ve been dreading making this post because 24hr.YABookBlog has been place where I’ve seen myself grow as a reader, writer, content creator, and as a person. But in the rush to keep up with new blog posts, reviewing, posting weekly content, I especially found myself being burned out during 2020. With other life priorities I see how that was reflected in my blog posts, although I’m so proud of the content I created in the past year, it’s important for me to take time for myself too.

In my 5 years as a blogger I’ve NEVER taken an official hiatus, but there’s moments like now where it’s important to remember that occasional breaks are necessary. Although I feel like with a more free schedule in 2021 I’ll definitely be reading more, I also care about bringing the best blog content I can to all of you. This means I need to take that time to find out what I’m missing and where to go from here.

At most I think I’ll take the month of January off (although I’ll be reviewing and posting still…sort of? It’s complicated). There’s other blogs and spaces where I’ve been eager to get back to creating for too and this will give me more time to reflect on my content here, like The Booked Shelf and another awesome space I’ll talk about more once I’m back! I’m also planning to catch up on lots of books in January 2021 so I’ll still be posting reviews here, I just think it’ll just be more sporadic for a couple weeks (I’ll probably make them very brief for the time being, but again not too sure yet).

My goal is to improve my reviewing, discussions, and writing in general. I’ve been caught in a routine that I’ve noticed when it comes to my book reviews and it’s important for me to change it up a bit. This means I’ll try to blog hop more and get inspired by fellow bloggers by reading more posts.

Without a doubt though, I’ll be back to posting more regularly by the end of January.

There’s many books I’d love to catch up on and lots of fun bookish lists, discussions, and content in general I’m feeling inspired to post on the blog, but I know I’ll need a bit of time to find that spark again.

I’ve also felt a frustration (as I’m sure many can relate) with wanting to post and stay active within the community, while reading ALL the books and posting consistently. Also getting a bit more personal with my blogging journey in 2020, this year especially has reminded me that while its amazing to see other bookish creators posting more varied content (book news, certain discussions/content, etc.), there’s a feeling of erasure or fear that others are “copying” you without proper credit. Maybe this is a bit of a stretch, but I’ve really felt that way this year and I want to work harder to establish myself and content, because I put a lot of heart into it and don’t want my work to go overlooked.

As with each year, I want to find my writing voice and convey more of a style into what I blog about. That’s something I try to get better at with each review and hopefully my blogging hiatus will help with that.

There’s a lot more I’m excited for in the new year and I think I’ll leave it here for now. But now some QUESTIONS for all of my wonderful fellow bloggers, readers, and followers of my blog: What is it you enjoy about my content? Is there anything you’d like to see more of? If there’s a specific review or post of mine you loved reading, which is it? All of your amazing thoughts would really help me feel motivated, inspired, and eager to reinvent myself as a creator during my hiatus. [*Still planning to create a 2020 wrap-up of sorts too, so keep an eye out for that as well 💕]

Lots of fun bookish content is coming and I’m so excited to share it with all of you! See you all again very soon in 2021! 😍🎉📚