Hunted By The Sky by Tanaz Bhathena ARC Review

Hunted By The Sky by Tanaz BhathenaHunted By The Sky by Tanaz Bhathena (The Wrath Of Ambar #1)

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (Fierce Reads)

Release Date: June 23, 2020

Pages: 384

Available Through The Book Depository: Hunted By The Sky

Cover Design: Elizabeth Clark

Summary: Gul has spent her life running. She has a star-shaped birthmark on her arm, and in the kingdom of Ambar, girls with such birthmarks have been disappearing for years. Gul’s mark is what caused her parents’ murder at the hand of King Lohar’s ruthless soldiers and forced her into hiding to protect her own life. So when a group of rebel women called the Sisters of the Golden Lotus rescue her, take her in, and train her in warrior magic, Gul wants only one thing: revenge.

Cavas lives in the tenements, and he’s just about ready to sign his life over to the king’s army. His father is terminally ill, and Cavas will do anything to save him. But sparks fly when he meets a mysterious girl–Gul–in the capital’s bazaar, and as the chemistry between them undeniably grows, he becomes entangled in a mission of vengeance–and discovers a magic he never expected to find.

Dangerous circumstances have brought Gul and Cavas together at the king’s domain in Ambar Fort . . . a world with secrets deadlier than their own.

*Received ARC through Goodreads*

My Rating: ★★★☆☆ ¾

My Thoughts: Inspired by Medieval India and Persia, Hunted By The Sky is a novel that follows Gul, a girl who can wield powerful magic and Cavas, a palace stableboy who’s only looking to heal his ill father. Filled with intrigue, revenge, and romance, Bhathena’s fantasy debut is set in a vibrant world, brimming with magic!

Perhaps its because I recently finished watching all of Avatar, but the expansive feel of Ambar gave me major ATLA vibes! I feel this is the kind of fantasy that blends the subtle world building and underlying character development in a way that’ll appeal to people that liked the show.

This was a fantasy I was really looking forward to because, I’ve read a bit of the author’s contemporary books and adored her writing style, so I was interested in seeing how her style transitions to a fantasy setting. No doubt this is a novel that takes risks as it introduces many elements to its world and expand on them over the course of the novel. Its layered and detailed setting hint at more to come in future books.

A series debut that’s definitely gone under the radar, Hunted By The Sky revolves around Gul and Cavas, two people brought together each for their own reasons. Gul’s parents were killed by Sky Warriors (who were seeking the legendary Star Warrior) and so, she’s forced to flee until she finds a mysterious rebel group of women. They help her understand her magic and aid her in taking revenge on the kingdom that took her family away.

Cavas, whose lived among the palace for years only wants to help his ill father from a fever that’s taken a toll on him for years. The death of his mother has also left him feeling lost in the world. The 2 find themselves drawn together as Cavas is tasked with helping Gul into Ambar Fort where the ruthless King Lohar lives.

While told through a dual POV, I appreciated how they each have their own storylines and distinct journeys that allow them to question their world and role within it. Its a gradually unfolding narrative led by two compelling protagonists that have been hardened by the tragedies around them. This is very much an introspective and character-driven fantasy that while slow paced, feels so immersive.

There’s mentions of Pashu (animals with human-like qualities), choli and ghagra, and an abundance of food that bring a richness in detail to the world’s culture. Also in the author’s note, Bhathena mentions that she drew on her Persian and Indian heritage to create her own myths and you can really sense the wonder and creativity woven into the tales of different deities, magic system, stories, and more!

Cavas finds he can communicate with spirits around him and yet he is labeled as a non-magi. Gul is a fabled Star Warrior who will bring an end to a tyrannical ruler and yet, she cannot come to terms with the destiny unfolding at every turn. As a magi, she grew up with parents who had magic and she herself is a whisper, able to communicate with animals telepathically.

The magic system is divided between Magi and Non-Magi, which highlights clear class division and inequality. Those with magic are treated with better schools, living arrangements, etc. compared to those without and Bhathena’s development of this system was one of the strongest throughout the novel. There’s also lots of different magical abilities from truth seekers, whisperers, and much more. Its established that powers within each magus react differently depending on the person and you can sense that with the different magis we encounter.

Because Gul is more unfamiliar with the palace, she is brought in undercover in order to infiltrate and seek the perfect moment to take down the king. However, she has to gather her intel all while feeling the stares of the court and palace at every turn. The plot overall, was very unexpected and I loved being surprised at what happened next. Also, there’s lots of scenes where the characters are very much going day-to-day in the palace and while it gives more perspective and insight to the world and characters, it does make the intrigue of the palace falter because it slows the pacing.

As she becomes familiar with the surrounding buildings of Ambar Fort, the royal siblings like Malti, Prince Amar, and the 2 other princes, she’s still trying to better understand her abilities and grasp her duty as the Star Warrior. All the while, she tries to find time with Cavas in order to learn as much as she can.

What Bhathena does so well is weave together threads of the magic system, history, lore, and character arcs that make it so much fun to try and connect it all!

The writing is descriptive and the 1st person POV really allows you to delve deep into the head space of our main characters. However, when it comes to the actual structure of the writing I felt it could have better conveyed the magic woven throughout the story with a different style.

Themes of this novel are that of destiny and how one chooses to accept it and family because its a major motivator for our 2 protagonists as they grow along their journey. The atmosphere is intriguing / fantastical as we delve deeper into the politics of the world, palace, and the developing magic system.

Now onto more about my rating! No doubt, I’m definitely interested in continuing this series, because of the unique world and its cast (including: Sisters Of The Golden Lotus, the princes, Latif, & Major Shayla). However alongside the writing, I think the pacing really impacted my reading experience. It felt like the story took more than 1/2 way to pick up as a lot of page time was spent still establishing Gul and Cavas as they had yet to meet.

This is also something I noticed while reading that actually booktuber Marines from MyNameIsMarines mentions in one of her recent videos titled “Story Elements That Worked For Me In One Book, But Not The Other” and it got the exact feeling I had while reading this book. Although I love political intrigue in novels, I think with Hunted By The Sky in particular, it really didn’t work for me. Mainly due to the slow pacing and the intrigue/court politics feeling quite brief and yet also somewhat obvious, I felt there wasn’t much room to delve into the grey area of the characters morality. I think after watching Marines’s video, I may do a blog post comparing elements that did/didn’t work with certain books, because that was definitely the case here.

I truly believe though, this was more of the case of Hunted By The Sky not being for me personally (and that’s okay!). But I do have faith that the sequel unravel new mysteries and answers left by this first book! Because wow, the ending really picks up and leaves me wondering!!

Hunted By The Sky is a character-driven fantasy tale filled with romance, intrigue, and introduces readers to a unique world! Gul and Cavas propel this story in very interesting ways that weave together an intriguing magic system, expansive world, expansive cast of characters, and page-turning story! An immersive new fantasy series definitely worth reading!

I’ll also be shouting out fellow book blogger reviews today! 📚🎉

First, I recommend Krisha’s Review which delves into character motivations, themes, and more! We also had similar ratings and I enjoyed reading her review. However, I love that its a mostly positive one if that’s what your looking for alongside a 3 star rating.

Next I recommend Fanna’s Review which is a beautifully written post that delves deeper into the #OwnVoices aspects of the culture represented in the novel. There’s also lots of detail in Fanna’s review if your looking for a more in-depth look into specific aspects of the world/story! Overall, I recommend both of these reviews if your interested in reading OwnVoices (Indian and South-Asian bloggers) thoughts on it! ✨

We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal Review

We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah FaizalWe Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal (Sands of Arawiya #1)

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (BYR)

Release Date: May 14, 2019

Pages: 480

Available Through The Book Depository: We Hunt The Flame

Summary: People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: We Hunt The Flame is a YA Fantasy debut that has been highly anticipated and one you don’t want to miss! From the expansive world of Arawiya, intriguing plot, and wonderfully developed cast of characters, Faizal’s debut takes the reader on an epic fantasy adventure!

Told through dual POV, We Hunt The Flame follows Zafira, known as the Hunter, and Nasir, prince of Arawiya who goes by the title of the Prince Of Death (essentially the kingdom’s assassin!).

Zafira hunts for her people disguised as a boy in Demenhur, which is a kingdom cursed with eternal snow. She hunts within the Arz, a forest of encapsulating darkness– while many have become lost within it, she always finds her way back!

Nasir is the ever-loyal assassin for his father (the sultan) and goes across the kingdom getting rid of those who undermine his father’s rule. He believes he will forever be cursed with a life of darkness and because of that, keeps himself isolated from the world.

Their stories become intertwined when their confronted with a mission that takes them to a mysterious island with magic no one has seen for close to a century!

I loved the entire first part of this story–introducing us to the world of Arawiya through both of our main characters in their natural elements: Zafira having hunted a deer in the Arz and Nasir, assassinating a man suspected of treason against the kingdom.

These lines from Zafira & Nasir’s opening chapters will forever be remembered in my mind anytime I think of We Hunt The Flame:

People lived because she killed…People died because he lived…

What I loved about those lines is how much they tell us about them as characters before their stories even begin! Zafira is the kind of person who always puts others before herself. Although she has her own desires & wishes, she never chooses to act on them–only on what she feels will make everyone else around her safe or happy!

Nasir has been raised to kill and is continually put in situations where he wants to show his loyalty to his father. But, he does it even knowing his father will never be proud–with that, he uses that as a shield to isolate himself from the kingdom he will be destined to rule. Luckily, he does have general Altair by his side (though Nasir begs to differ XD).

This is a debut that surprised me in so many ways and had so many elements I loved–not only the main characters, but also the expansive world, magic system, character dynamics, and intriguing plot!

Nasir and Zafira’s mission has been spurred by a mysterious entity who calls herself, The Silver Witch. Their mission promises the return of magic to their world, even if it means braving this mysterious island where the magic is wild and unexpected.

Another element to the world that I loved was that although their world has been free of magic for quite sometime, you can still sense its presence in the kingdom itself and that’s because of Faizal’s writing– it creates such vivid settings, imagery, and delivers a sense of wonder! There wasn’t a single moment where I was ever pulled out of the story! The lush prose delivers a balance to its characters, world, atmosphere, and dialogue in such a great way!

Their both tasked with finding the Jawarat, the mythical book that bring magic back to their land. But, in addition to that–Nasir is given another task to kill anyone who can get in the way (Altair included) and the Hunter!

As the story progresses where Nasir & Zafira finally meet– truths come to light and their forced to stick together if their going to find the book!

There’s also a very present/relevant theme of identity throughout the book that is explored so well between them! Both Nasir & Zafira face truths about their identity and when they are presented with new info that changes what they first believed about themselves! I felt it really showed how much depth there was to them to see the many differing sides to them not just throughout their journey, but also through them as characters–we see their strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerable moments which really surprised me!

There’s also themes of grief and loss explored throughout as well!

As for other characters, I loved the ensemble dynamics explored! Firstly with Zafira in her home village, with her sister Lana, friends Yasmine & Deen! Next it was Nasir & Altair–their dynamic/banter was the best and easily a highlight of the book!

I also find the exploration of past/current love isn’t always explored in YA Fantasy between main characters–but We Hunt The Flame really highlighted that & it was so well developed (Zafira w/ Deen & Nasir w/ Kulsum). I loved how they also symbolized the thread to their previous lives before coming to the island of Sharr.

As Zafira, Nasir, & Altair find themselves working together we also get introduced to a couple of new characters on the island:  Kifah, & Benyamin!! I loved learning more about them and found them to be such wonderfully developed characters + additions (who do get introduced mid-way through WHTF).

Overall the main crew/characters were just too precious & have to be protected at all costs!! I loved them a lot!! (;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`)❤

Additionally, the way Faizal used dual POV was fantastic–it offered so much to so many different elements of the story from the atmosphere, expansive world, characters, etc. The character-dynamics were also so good, not once did I feel certain characters were forgettable or lacked depth!

When talking about the world, the contrast to the setting of the frozen lands & deserts (Demenhur vs. Sarasin) were so vivid and I could picture both of them perfectly! Even the element of the forest of darkness, The Arz, was something special that really brought the setting to life & made it sparkle.

Now onto what made me rate this a 4–though rating aside, I really loved this book and the ending left on a note where I was in shock, but SO ready to read the sequel! (I can’t believe I have to wait a whole year!!). Those last few chapters–just WOW!!

Honestly, I do think that the pre-release hype had my expectations really high for We Hunt The Flame and overall my personal expectations too. I was so ready for the Assassins Creed elements to shine more throughout the book (though they were really present within Part 1) and it definitely switched gears as the story progressed– I was disappointed, but that’s only because I wanted more–I loved reading the chapters where Nasir traveled throughout the kingdom as an assassin & seeing Zafira brave enough to trek through the Arz as she outran guards!!

I did feel that because the writing is very character-focused, the plot (mainly surrounding the Sharr storyline) felt like it wandered a bit and I was hoping for more of the over-arching plot to be explored for a larger part of those chapters instead of being left to the last chunk of chapters.

Also, for me personally, I felt Nasir & Zafira’s defining characteristics (being the Assassin/Hunter) got a bit lost as the story progressed (mainly with Nasir) and I was hoping for their personas to be more of a focused part of their character that was present throughout the whole book (Hopefully that makes sense?).

But overall, like I said above there were so many wonderful and fantastic elements to We Hunt The Flame that really left this book as a memorable and favorite read of mine for sure! I can’t wait to see whats next in the sequel!!

We Hunt The Flame is a YA Fantasy debut inspired by ancient Arabia that takes the reader on an immersive, magical adventure! Faizal’s debut is an atmospheric fantasy tale that delivers such a vivid world, fantastic cast of characters, important themes woven throughout, and plenty of action! We Hunt The Flame is debut that will leave you wanting the sequel right away when you turn that final page!

I’m also shouting out a fellow book blogger review 😍💞📚 I recommend checking out:

We Hunt The Flame Review from Lila over at HardcoverHaven121

As an Own-Voices reviewer for Arab rep., she talks about the diverse geography of the Middle East and how accurate the setting of Arawiya was for her when listening to We Hunt The Flame on audio! She also loved how the novel showcased so many different aspects of Arab culture, such as language!

She also loved the rich prose that Faizal crafted within her novel (which I loved too!!). Though it wasn’t a perfect rating for her, I loved how she expanded on the different points in her review and her thoughts on it from the audiobook perspective!

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo {ARC Review}

somewhere only we know by maurene gooSomewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (BYR)

Release Date: May 7, 2019

Pages: 336

Available Through The Book Depository: Somewhere Only We Know

Summary: 10 00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she’s just performed her hit song “Heartbeat” in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She’s about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She’s in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.

11 00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She’s very cute. He’s maybe curious.

12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.

*Received ARC through a festival*

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Somewhere Only We Know is a YA Contemporary Romance reminiscent of Roman Holiday! Lucky, a K-Pop star & Jack, a tabloid photographer, spend the day together having adventures throughout Hong Kong! This character-driven contemporary is fun, while also having underlying messages about identity and self! As Lucky and Jack have their one-day adventure, they also learn more about each other and themselves! 

If you were to ask me of a YA Contemporary author whose newest books I always look forward to reading during spring/summer, I’d say Maurene Goo! With each book of hers I find myself falling in love with the flawed, loveable, and realistic main characters she develops alongside the unique stories she creates!

I knew going in that this book was Roman Holiday-esque and conveniently, before starting this book, it had been on TV one day and I’d actually never seen it before! But I managed to watch a good amount of it and throughout Somewhere Only We Know, I could absolutely  feel those Roman Holiday-vibes weaved into the story!

What I realized as I took my time to really read Somewhere Only We Know, was that as I finally reached that last page I reflected on how much I loved both Lucky & Jack + their journeys throughout this book! I loved it a lot!!

I found Goo’s book was really about how taking one day to do something unexpected, or even just for yourself can allow to learn more about yourself than you think!

This book is truly all about how Jack and Lucky learn from one another as they spend the day together, while realizing how their lives aren’t exactly all they hoped it would be–but how they can strive to make it something better.

The story follows 2 POV’s Jack and Lucky! Lucky is a rising star in the world of K-Pop and her upcoming performance on The Later Tonight Show is what her team is looking for to launch her career even further!

Jack is an intern at a bank his father works for. He’s not entirely happy about it, but what he keeps a secret from his parents, is his job as a tabloid reporter/photographer. He’s not entirely sure where his life is headed, as the stress of deciding whether or not he wants to go to college or where he wants to work, continuously goes through his mind.

Both Lucky and Jack find themselves spending the day together, when Lucky finds herself far from her hotel after taking a heavy amount of anti-anxiety medication and craving a hamburger! Little does she know, that she’s going to be saved by Jack!

When Jack learns who she is, he decides that in order to launch his career as a professional photographer, he’s going to have to create a story out of Lucky’s hotel escape, without her knowing.

Jack does his best to keep his job as a tabloid reporter from Lucky, while she uses her opportunity of being far from the comfort of her hotel in the streets on Hong Kong, to live out just one day of non-stop adventure!

However, along the way both Lucky and Jack finding themselves falling for each other, even as they both try to keep up lies about themselves throughout their adventure!

With the way Goo brilliantly developed both Jack & Lucky, they really came to life off the page! She also developed their relationship so wonderfully, its a mix of attraction at first-sight alongside their delightful chemistry that worked so well together!

All throughout Somewhere Only We Know, there’s a lot of discussion on identity, societal and familial pressures, and what it means to find a new dream!

Lucky finds herself stuck in this world of K-Pop that once felt like a dream, is now forcing her to face harsh realities–and throughout the book she realizes how unhappy she is. Jack, is very single-minded on his story on Lucky to launch his own career, but throughout the book as he begins falling for Lucky & learns more about her/her life–he begins to see the error in his ways!

As I mentioned above, what makes this book so beautiful is exploring how both Lucky and Jack learn more about their own desires and dreams/plans for the future because they spend time together on this spontaneous adventure! I just loved them both & following their journeys in this book! Lucky & Jack were–just the best!! 😍💞

From the great dialogue, Jack & Lucky’s own unique perspectives, setting of Hong Kong, and Goo’s delightful writing-style, Somewhere Only We Know becomes a brilliantly funny, deeply moving, character-driven, and unique YA Contemporary! It delivers so much throughout its entirety!

As we explore Hong Kong throughout Somewhere Only We Know from the weather, atmosphere, food, and various locations–the setting truly shined, especially because of the energy both Lucky and Jack brought together as characters!

My only minor issue I’d say that bumped my rating to 4 stars, is the pacing throughout some of the middle– its a bit slow, a couple characters/moments could have been expanded on just a bit more, and I felt the ending was just a little rushed near the end.

But overall, this was another great Maurene Goo YA Contemporary and I can’t wait to read what she writes next!

Somewhere Only We Know is a great YA Contemporary to add to your TBR! The perfect blend of comedy, romance, wonderfully developed characters, vibrant setting, and page-turning plot makes this a delightful YA Contemporary you don’t want to miss! If your looking for a unique YA Contemporary with fun character-dynamics, romance, and adventure, Maurene Goo’s latest, is a wonderful book to check out!

Upcoming 2019 YA Book Recommendations From Book Bloggers!

Hey, 24hr.YABookBlog here (~˘▾˘)~ 💞✨📚

2019 is finally here and that means so many new books! New worlds and stories to be explored 💫📚

Now, today’s post is one I am incredibly excited to be sharing and one that involved  fantastic bookish people I’m grateful to have met through this community! 📚❤ 

I reached out to my book blogger friends asking them what their top 2019 YA release would be 😍📚🎉✨

Thanks so much to each of you for taking the time to do this, your all amazing!!

So, here’s a list of upcoming 2019 YA Book Recommendations From Book Bloggers! (Hoping to have more posts like this is in the future too  )

~ Each of these book bloggers are absolutely wonderful and if you aren’t follow them already–you should be! I’ll be leaving a link to where you can find them, so go give them a follow! 😌✨🎉

1.Adriana from BoricuraReads

Adriana recommends: Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno
Release Date: May 14, 2019
Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Don't Date Rosa Santos by Nina MorenoSummary: Rosa Santos is cursed by the sea-at least, that’s what they say. Dating her is bad news, especially if you’re a boy with a boat.
But Rosa feels more caught than cursed. Caught between cultures and choices. Between her abuela, a beloved healer and pillar of their community, and her mother, an artist who crashes in and out of her life like a hurricane. Between Port Coral, the quirky South Florida town they call home, and Cuba, the island her abuela refuses to talk about. As her college decision looms, Rosa collides-literally-with Alex Aquino, the mysterious boy with tattoos of the ocean whose family owns the marina. With her heart, her family, and her future on the line, can Rosa break a curse and find her place beyond the horizon?
 

Why: Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno has been giving me such Jane the Virgin vibes, which is good because that’s one of my favorite TV shows. I’m excited to read a story that focuses on a teenage girl of Cuban heritage that wants to explore her roots and a history hidden due to generational trauma, cultural repression and assimilation. It has family drama which is a core necessity in Latinx households, and a romance I can’t wait to delve into because I’m certain it’s gonna make me swoon and sigh– Adriana

2.Jordan from TheHeartOfABookBlogger

Jordan recommends: Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux (Fierce Reads)

somewhere only we know by maurene gooSummary: 10 00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she’s just performed her hit song “Heartbeat” in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She’s about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She’s in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.

11 00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She’s very cute. He’s maybe curious.

12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.

Why: It’s been pitched as Roman Holiday with a k-pop star and tabloid reporter in Hong Kong, and I am so here for it. I absolutely cannot wait to dive into this swoony rom-com– Jordan

3.Marie from DrizzleAndHuricaneBooks

Marie Recommends: You Asked For Perfect by Laura Silverman
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

you asked for perfect by laura silvermanSummary: Senior Ariel Stone is the perfect college applicant: first chair violin, dedicated community volunteer, and expected valedictorian. He works hard – really hard – to make his life look effortless. A failed Calculus quiz is not part of that plan. Not when he’s number one. Not when his peers can smell weakness like a freshman’s body spray.

Figuring a few all-nighters will preserve his class rank, Ariel throws himself into studying. His friends will understand if he skips a few plans, and he can sleep when he graduates. Except Ariel’s grade continues to slide. Reluctantly, he gets a tutor. Amir and Ariel have never gotten along, but Amir excels in Calculus, and Ariel is out of options.

Ariel may not like Calc, but he might like Amir. Except adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push him past his limit.

Why: I adored the author’s debut, Girl Out Of Water and her sophomore novel sounds AMAZING and way too relatable too: it deals with academic pressure, has incredible characters and overall sounds like the book I’ve been needing all my life to readMarie

4.Sil from TheBookVoyagers

Sil recommends: The Wicked King by Holly Black (Folk Of The Air #2)
Release Date: January 8, 2019
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

the wicked king by holly blackSummary: The enchanting and bloodthirsty sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel The Cruel Prince.
After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world. 

Why: Maybe because after reading and finishing The Cruel Prince this year, I honestly needed the second book as quick as possible. I’m always on the search for anti-heroines in fantasy fiction and Jude is one of the best. This queen. She truly deceived us all. And I cannot wait to see what’s next in store. If you’re on the search for a YA fantasy with fae, political intrigue at court and off the court, family and moments where you don’t know what is going on, this series is perfect for you–Sil

Thanks so much to each of you for being a part of this post! I’m looking forward to each of these wonderful YA Releases! 😍✨💖📚

What 2019 YA Book are you looking forward to? 📚✨🎉

May 2018 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 6

Here’s my wrap-up for May 2018! Now that I’m officially on summer break, I’m hoping to read + review more this month!! 

Out Of Left Field by Kris Hui Lee1. Out Of Left Field by Kris Hui Lee

ARC | Started April 28 + Finished May 10 |Rating:★★★★☆ | Out Of Left Field Full Review

Overall Thoughts: If your looking for a contemporary that doesn’t focus on romance, this is the book for you! Out Of Left Field is about Marnie as she takes the place of her best friend Cody on her high school baseball team after he gets injured. There’s such a big focus on the dynamic of friendship, life after college, + Marnie’s passion for baseball and I really loved that. The plot, in my opinion, just went in such unique directions compared to other YA Contemporary novels and continued to surprise me with very interesting plot twists! There’s also representation through the side characters (Filipino + Latinx & bisexual rep., Indian-American rep.). The pacing does get slow at some points & I wish that some of the main/side characters had more expansion + development, additionally there are some plot threads I wish could have been expanded on. However, overall Out Of Left Field is a uniquely plotted YA Contemporary that really focuses on its characters and the complex dynamics of friendship! Definitely recommend Kris Hui Lee’s Out Of Left Field if your looking for more sports in YA Contemporary!

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo2. The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

Owned | Started May 11 + Finished May 13 |Rating: ★★★★☆ ½ | The Way You Make Me Feel Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Having been a big fan of Goo’s previous novel, I Believe In A Thing Called Love, I knew I would be picking up, The Way You Make Me Feel. Clara is a bit of a troublemaker, so when she gets tasked with working on her father’s Korean-Brazilian fusion food truck w/ her school nemesis, she feels her perfect summer (w/ plans of visiting her mother) has come to an end! But, she soon finds herself changing and growing throughout the summer, making new friends, and maybe finding romance along the way. The development of family and the complex dynamic was developed so incredibly well in this book as was the friendship! The Way You Make Me Feel was a book that captured my heart from page 1 with its character-driven story, wonderful writing, and summer adventures! The Way You Make Me Feel is a must read for summer!

Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter3. Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

Library | Started May 16 + Finished May 19 |Rating:★★★★☆ |Not If I Save You First Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Carter delivers another political thriller, with a mystery that keeps you turning the page as the stakes continue to build! Maddie, daughter to a secret service agent and Logan, the president’s son, have been friends since they were little. However after an attack at the White House when they were 10, leads Maddie to stay off the grid for almost 6 years in the Alaskan wilderness alongside her father. Maddie & Logan are soon reunited and their friendship is no longer what it used to be, yet when its revealed someone may be after Logan, they have to team up and uncover the answers. Carter does a fantastic job at seamlessly integrating politics and mystery within her novels and I always look forward to reading her books! However, through out Not If I Save You First I felt the pacing was pretty slow and while the build up to the mystery was done incredibly well, when answers are revealed it felt not only rushed, but a bit disappointing in its execution. Additionally,there was a bit of repetitiveness when it came to the setting. Overall though, Not If I Save You First was definitely an entertaining mystery thriller that really kept me turning the page!

Driving By Starlight by Anat Deracine4. Driving By Starlight by Anat Deracine

ARC| Started May 21 + Finished May 22 |Rating:★★★★★ |Driving By Starlight Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Driving By Starlight has easily become another one of my all-time favorite novels and is one that I will never forget!! I haven’t seen a lot of buzz for Driving By Starlight, but if you haven’t read it, please do, its phenomenal!! Set in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia crafted an honest and moving YA Contemporary, which follows Leena & Mishail, who are no strangers to a bit of rebellion within their town. Due to strict laws however, they find themselves unsure of their futures as women within society. Leena dreams of attending university and studying law, but with the absence of her father (who is a rebel), needing to take care of her mother, and not wanting to leave her friends/life behind, its becoming uncertain whether she will be able to follow her dreams. Over the course of the novel, Leena goes through quite a journey! From the powerful messages, themes of family & friendship explored with such depth, incredible cast of characters, thought-provoking & beautiful writing, Deracine’s novel is phenomenal! There’s honestly so much to this amazing novel I can’t put into words, but I highly recommend reading Driving By Starlight, its a must read!

caraval-by-stephanie-garber5. Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Library |Started May 23 + Finished May 26 |Rating:★★★★☆ |Caraval Full Review

Overall Thoughts: I’d been putting off reading Caraval because of all the hype, but I’d recently been fortunate enough to get an ARC of Legendary and felt I’d give it a try! I’m so glad I did because I ended up really enjoying it! Garber’s writing easily pulled me into the story and crafted mystery into her novel so well, as we follow Scarlett attempting to find her sister throughout Caraval. Garber’s novel surprised me in ways I wasn’t expecting and I really enjoyed it. I did find that the repetitiveness of color to describe setting/emotion didn’t really click with me and I found other than Caraval, the world-building wasn’t really expanded on either, & I was expecting a bit more from the ending. However, I was definitely more surprised by Caraval than I expected and found it to be an immersive, mystery adventure!

Legendary by Stephanie Garber6. Legendary by Stephanie Garber (Caraval #2)

ARC |Started May 28 + Finished May 30 |Rating:★★★★☆ |Legendary Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Legendary takes what you knew in Caraval and really makes it more of a mind game, which was very interesting! Following Tella, were back into the game of Caraval, but there are very much real-life stakes involved. I loved how Garber seamlessly weaved in the fantasy elements, however all throughout Legendary I was thinking ‘why wasn’t this introduced more in Caraval?’, but I’m glad it was added into the story! Garber introduces new settings and a character by the name of Jacks who I really loved! It takes a bit of a darker, more fairy tale vibe, but I really enjoyed it! The plot is filled with intrigue, magic, mythology of the world of Caraval, and really had me guessing & on the edge of my seat wondering where the next book is headed!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Book Bytes #11

The Last 8 Cover Reveal

Author Interview w/ Maura Milan about her upcoming novel Ignite The Stars

Plans For June:

~ Catch up on reading, now that I’m officially on summer break & work on my summer reading bullet journal!

~Post upcoming TBR lists/other posts that I’ve had drafted for a while! 😂✨📚

~Planning to hopefully create + share another Literary Listens post! 🎙✨💕

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo Review

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene GooThe Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Release Date: May 8, 2018

Pages: 336

Summary: Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind?

**TW for trypophobia*

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Way You Make Me Feel is not a YA Contemporary to miss! With a phenomenal cast of unforgettable characters, brilliant writing-style, and a plot that will immerse start to finish, this is a must-read summer YA Contemporary!

The very 1st novel I read by Goo, was I Believe In A Thing Called Love! I love YA Contemporary and after that book, I knew I would read her future books as well!

The Way You Make Me Feel is a book that is not only a fun and unique story, but also weaves in serious themes revolving around friendship and especially family!

What I also loved about The Way You Make Me Feel, is that even though I got through it within a matter of days, it felt I was with these characters + this story for so long! For me, that’s the best kind of story, where you become so attached to the story, setting, characters, and can’t believe the story is over when you’ve reached the last page!

Clara Shin, our main character, is the star of this novel and I loved her so much! She’s fierce, confident and a bit of trouble-maker!

As summer vacation is on the horizon, Clara has it pretty much planned out: she’s counting down the days to visit her mother Mãe in Tulum, Mexico, while her dad Adrian, works on his KoBra food truck (Korean & Brazilian fusion food).

However, when a school prank gets out of hand with her school nemesis, Rose Carver, her summer is about to change!

In order to pay for the damages caused by the prank, she now has to work on the truck with Rose and feels her entire summer has come crashing down!

Now she’s working with her nemesis, trying to find time for herself and friends Patrick + Felix, make time to plan her trip to visit her mom, and maybe begin to have feelings for a guy (Hamlet) she meets near one of the KoBra stops!

Goo’s writing not only brings the characters to life, but also the vibrant + diverse LA setting! I loved how she brought the setting to life through the littlest details, like the never-ending traffic XD, the weather, food and classic LA stops!

There is also such great diverse representation and I loved that!!~♥♥*:✧ From the Korean-American & Korean-Brazilian rep., to Hamlet who is Chinese-American, Rose who’s Black, hinted at gay rep. (Patrick), and Mexican-American rep. (Felix), Goo does such an amazing job at creating such a diverse cast of incredible characters!!

I loved each and every character! From Clara, her parents, her friends Patrick Keen & Felix Benavides, to Rose, Hamlet Wong, all the main characters just came to life from their very first introductions and I loved them so much!!

The relationships and dynamics are so real and just develop so wonderfully! From Clara & Rose’s development into a beautiful friendship, to the dynamic between Clara & her dad, + the slow but steady development of Clara’s relationship with Hamlet!

Clara is a very confident and rebellious teenager! She speaks her mind and I just loved her so much! She starts off a person who quickly brushes things off, but over the course of the novel begins to find herself changing and growing throughout the summer.

From her outlook on relationships, friendships, commitments, etc. I adored her fierce and confident side, while also loving how she began to view things from a new angle as her summer plans turned out different than she had hoped!

The relationship she develops with Hamlet was so cute! Hamlet was so kind, optimistic, ans just so sweet and I loved his contrast to Clara, seeing their dynamic grow was so lovely!!~ Their development was so well done, I loved their banter and how they grew and changed with each other throughout the summer!

Now as for the dynamic with her dad, Adrian Shin, its clear that while there is such a strong father/daughter bond between them. What I found relatable to their dynamic with my own parents, was the fun/comedic moments they’d share♥♥*:✧~

I loved seeing how Clara not only strengthened her relationship with her dad, but by the end was able to see how even though she saw a lot of herself in her mom, also saw the strengths in her dad that her mother didn’t have.

What I also admire about Goo’s work, is the development of family in her novels, especially this one! From Clara’s parents not being married, but still keeping in contact, the bond Clara has with her dad, and the overall the complexity of family in this novel is something I love and related to so much in this book! Also the family dynamic Hamlet has with “grandparents,” who are actually grandparents of family-friends while his parents are working in China!

I also adored the friendship that developed between Clara & Rose! While they didn’t get along in the beginning, they really formed this beautiful friendship and learn a lot from each other along the way.

Their forced to work together on the KoBra truck, but what surprised me (considering Rose’s very upfront/honest personality) was how she really opened up to Clara + we learn she really finds it difficult to make friends and has anxiety! Seeing how Clara really made so many efforts to make Rose feel included + get her out of her shell was so beautiful to read!

Now I’m going into 1 aspect I didn’t really like (mentioned in the TW), so I may rate this book at 4.5 instead of 5, but still deciding on an exact rating:

**I suppose my only minor issue was the “trypophobiascene. Now, I’ve never felt triggered while reading a book before, so this was–an odd experience. I personally did find this scene triggering and just wanted to mention where it is, in case others who read this book are unaware! I find explaining this for me personally is also a bit triggering, so readers, just be wary & apologies if I’m a bit vague because of it.

I don’t usually read reviews before starting a book (so I was unaware of this scene before hand), but I had seen a couple reviews mention it, after I finished the book and looked on GR. Note: its discussed on pg. 84* (Basically Clara mentions wanting to send her dad certain triggering photos, (aka where the Trypophobia is discussed).

*Acquadimore’s reviews are always so great and found the TW discussed in her review of The Way You Make Me Feel as well!

Aside from that scene however, I really did love this book so much!

Clara undergoes quite a journey as she begins to consider and change her rebellious nature from the start of the novel. She see’s friends + family in a new light, and finds herself growing because of that!

The themes central to this novel that are explored so incredibly well and are at the heart of this story are family & friendship! There is such depth to them that are explored through Clara’s POV and her adventures throughout the summer and I loved that!

The Way You Make Me Feel is a fun + delightful YA Contemporary that captured my heart from page 1! With such incredibly developed characters and themes, a unique and immersive plot, summer adventures, and so much more, this is a perfect YA Contemporary for summer!

LA Times Festival Of Books Wrap-Up {2018} + {Swag Giveaway!}

This past weekend I went to the L.A. Times Festival Of Books! Its a great festival hosted at USC every April where there are signings, celebration of art, music, and of course–tons of authors & books! 😍✨📚

If you’ve never gone, I highly recommend going if you have the chance! There’s always such great and interesting booths–and not just ones about books!

There’s entertainment, education, food, writing booths & so much more! (Especially great book swag!)

For Saturday April 21 it was a pretty easy schedule with only 4 authors on my list:

A Crown Of Wishes Cover RevealRoshani Chokshi author of The Star-Touched QueenA Crown Of Wishes, & her most recent, Aru Shah And The End Of Time (which I’m almost done with!!)

Sandhya Menon author of When Dimple Met Rishi

Sara Saedi author of Never Ever & Maurene Goo author of I Believe In A Thing Called Love 

I was able to meet all these authors & get my books signed! Throughout the festival I also checked out a lot of the booths, got some swag, and bought a book!

Shout-out to Maurene who recognized me b/c I also met her last year to get an ARC of I Believe In A Thing Called Love!😭✨❤💗

And Sara Saedi! I really loved her Peter Pan retelling Never Ever, so now that the sequel is out, it was great to be able to talk to her about it & what to  expect!

I also got to chat/see some lovely book blog friends again, such as Jordan from: The Heart Of A Book Blogger

Paige: The Paige Turner

& Allison: @AlliCrystal

On Sunday April 22, I had a few more authors on my list & was able to see almost all of them (sadly Nic Stone’s signing was too late for me & I couldn’t find my copy of American Panda in time to see Gloria Chao 😭):

The Belles by Dhonielle ClaytonFirst I met: Dhonielle Clayton, author of The Belles and co-author of The Tiny Pretty Things duology! {We talked about writing, then she asked me about tea-cup animals {which are in The Belles} & which one I would want–I said foxes or dragons!! 😆😍✨🦊🐉 & chatting w/ her was just so much fun!}

Before I met Dhonielle Clayton, I actually attended a panel that featured her, Sabaa Tahir, Marie Lu, & Tochi Onyebuchi for: Eat. Read Sleep: Fantastical Young Adult! This panel was moderated by Sarah Enni who runs the podcast: First Draft Pod.

They discussed the fantasy worlds they create, diversity and the importance of representation, how they go about world-building, etc.! It was a great panel & they were so funny!! 😂✨

I don’t usually attend panels when I go to book events, but this one was just fantastic & I’m so glad I attended!

Next I stayed around the YA Stage to meet:

Flight Season by Marie MarquardtMarie Marquardt author of Flight Season 

Emily X.R. Pan author of The Astonishing Color Of After (Which I still have yet to read!! But will very soon! 😭✨)

& Mary H.K. Choi author of Emergency Contact!

Getting the chance to chat w/ each author was just so great! Especially Marie & Mary, who I got to fangirl with over their amazing books!!

I also met some cool bookish people in line, such as Kalie who blogs about books at: A Bit Fairy Tale!

Afterwards I decided to make my last stop at the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore booth to What You Left Me by Bridget Morrisseypick up an early copy of Bridget Morrissey’s upcoming YA Contemporary novel:

What You Left Me

I’d heard about it a while back and I definitely decided to keep it on my radar b/c it sounded like a great YA Contemporary & couldn’t miss the opportunity to get an early copy and meet the author!

Out on June 5, here is a summary: Martin and Petra meet for the first time at graduation, and though they’ve shared the halls of their high school for four years without crossing paths, there’s an instant connection the moment they’re seated next to each other at the commencement ceremony.

Then a car accident puts Martin into a coma, and Petra is somehow left picking up the pieces, using friends, family, and shared dreams to keep their surprise connection going.

Together they must unlock the truth of his situation, and with time running out, their bond becomes Martin’s best shot at waking back up to the life he’s left behind.

Overall talking with each author was amazing! They were all so kind! Getting the time to ask them questions about writing and their books was incredible!

And now for the giveaway!! I was at the Mysterious Galaxy booth & found some Furyborn swag (an exclusive sampler + bookmark!)

So not only is this my first swag giveaway, but its also my first international one!
All you have to do is RT the tweet below & follow my twitter!

& I can’t share it yet, but I’ll also be having another LATFOB giveaway soon! (Stay tuned on my twitter ^_^)

So overall it was another fantastic weekend at the LA Times Festival Of Books!! It just gets better & better w/ each year!! I can’t wait to return again next year in 2019!

I Believe In A Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo ARC Review

Teenage model in hear shaped glasses laughingI Believe In A Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux (BYR)

Release Date:May 30, 2017

Pages: 336

Summary: Desi Lee knows how carburetors work. She learned CPR at the age of five. As a high school senior, she has never missed a day of school and has never had a B in her entire life. She’s for sure going to Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation-magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds her answer in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Rules for True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and fake car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

*Got an ARC from a festival*

My Rating: ★★★★★

My Thoughts: Delightful, heartfelt, and funny, I Believe In A Thing Called Love had me hooked from page 1! With the magic of first love, themes of family, friendship and independence weaved throughout, Goo’s novel will capture your heart!

I adored this novel so much and refuse to believe its a standalone!!

We follow Desi Lee as she navigates her senior year of high school! She’s always got a plan, but when it comes to love, “Flailure’s” are never far behind.

Told from Desi’s first person POV, following her inner dialogue was relatable and had me laughing too! She is so ambitious, independent, and driven and I loved following her in her journey through senior year!

Her inner thoughts about talking to guys is so me! XD I could relate to the nervousness she was feeling and just being unsure of how to approach them! 

When she falls for a new student in her class, Luca Drakos, she devises a formula using plots from Korean dramas to see if she can plan out her first love, but of course she has help along the way!

Friendship and family were a big part of this novel! Even in her plan to find love, Desi tried to keep her friends Fiona and Wes in the loop no matter what and they stuck by her, even when her plans went a little overboard at times :’)

While I’m pretty new to K-Dramas myself, I was still able to understand the tropes that are mentioned and above all just loved how Desi referenced different K-Dramas + tropes through out the story!

With her mother having passed at a young age, she worries for her single, mechanic father and throughout the novel, its clear they have such a strong relationship! I adored the family dynamic!! Throughout this story, its clear family is such a huge part and while YA tends to put family off to the side, I Believe In A Thing Called Love kept this theme as such an integral part!

Goo’s writing delivers such well-developed and in-depth characters, that through Desi’s POV, they feel so real! Desi’s father, Luca, Wes, Fiona, even side characters like Cassidy and Violet really came to life on the page.

While this novel does have its sweet and fun moments, there are also a lot of important themes and messages (being true to yourself, following your dreams, independence) inclusion/diversity! There was so much depth to IBIATCL!

There was Korean, Mexican (Desi’s BFF Fiona) and lesbian representation! Above all, loved the diverse representation throughout this novel!! ❤

While there was a little bit of slow pacing for me personally, it worked really well with this novel! Through it, you really get time to understand Desi and her world. 

Through Goo’s writing the setting of Orange County, Desi and friends, themes/messages, and above all just the atmosphere of first love comes to life all through out the novel and I loved that so much!

I Believe In A Thing Called Love is filled with fantastic characters, romance, humor, K-Drama scenario’s, themes of family and friendship! A delightful journey from beginning to end! Highly recommend this novel!

I Believe In A Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo Cover Reveal

Maurene Goo, author of Since You Asked, had a cover reveal for her upcoming YA Contemporary as of September 7,

I Believe In A Thing Called Love

Releasing May 30, 2017  from Farrar Straus Giroux (BYR) this novel centers around Desi Lee who “believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds her answer in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and fake car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.”

Now For The Cover:

i-believe-in-a-thing-called-love-cover-reveal-24hryabookblog-wordpress-comSuch a wonderful cover ❤ ❤

It screams “YA Contemporary.”

 Its beautiful from the cover model to fonts + contrasting colors! (Its always great to see POC’s/Diversity on book covers) 👏🎉🎉👏

You can read more about Maurene’s thoughts on the cover + take a fun “Which K Drama Are You” Quiz Here!

Can’t wait to read this YA Contemporary! It sounds like it’ll be a great read 📚💖💕

What Are Your Thoughts On The Cover? 🙂