2021 YA Books From Authors of Color to Add To Your TBR!

It’s no surprise that as we near the end of 2020, us avid readers are already prepping our 2021 TBRs! With the new year right around the corner, its the perfect time to start gushing about the phenomenal books being released by authors of color.

Support these authors, their books, and let’s celebrate them together! This list will feature debuts, new series, standalones, etc. As always my post will feature a mix of contemporary, fantasy, sci-fi, magical realism, historical fiction, and more!

While release dates and covers for some of these have yet to be finalized, I really wanted to get these books on your radar because I definitely think they need more buzz!! Join me in discussing and gushing about these reads from AOC’s we are getting so very soon.

Enjoy today’s list and let me know if your looking forward to these Young Adult releases as well or have more recommendations of your own! 📚✨

1.Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

Available through The Book Depository & Bookshop
Release Date: January 5, 2021

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Tessa Johnson has never felt like the protagonist in her own life. She’s rarely seen herself reflected in the pages of the romance novels she loves. The only place she’s a true leading lady is in her own writing—in the swoony love stories she shares only with Caroline, her best friend and #1 devoted reader.

When Tessa is accepted into the creative writing program of a prestigious art school, she’s excited to finally let her stories shine. But when she goes to her first workshop, the words are just…gone. Fortunately, Caroline has a solution: Tessa just needs to find some inspiration in a real-life love story of her own. And she’s ready with a list of romance novel-inspired steps to a happily ever after. Nico, the brooding artist who looks like he walked out of one of Tessa’s stories, is cast as the perfect Prince Charming.

But as Tessa checks off each item off Caroline’s list, she gets further and further away from herself. She risks losing everything she cares about—including the surprising bond she develops with sweet Sam, who lives across the street. She’s well on her way to having her own real-life love story, but is it the one she wants, after all?

2. One Of The Good Ones by Maika and Maritza Moulite

Available Through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date: January 5, 2021

Summary: When teen social activist and history buff Kezi Smith is killed under mysterious circumstances after attending a social justice rally, her devastated sister Happi and their family are left reeling in the aftermath. As Kezi becomes another immortalized victim in the fight against police brutality, Happi begins to question the idealized way her sister is remembered. Perfect. Angelic.

One of the good ones.

Even as the phrase rings wrong in her mind—why are only certain people deemed worthy to be missed?—Happi and her sister Genny embark on a journey to honor Kezi in their own way, using an heirloom copy of The Negro Motorist Green Book as their guide. But there’s a twist to Kezi’s story that no one could’ve ever expected—one that will change everything all over again. 

The Hate U Give meets Get Out in this honest and powerful exploration of prejudice in the stunning novel from sister-writer duo Maika and Maritza Moulite, authors of Dear Haiti, Love Alaine.

3. Roman & Jewel by Dana L. Davis

Summary: If Romeo and Juliet got the Hamilton treatment…who would play the leads? This vividly funny, honest, and charming romantic novel by Dana L. Davis is the story of a girl who thinks she has what it takes…and the world thinks so, too.

Jerzie Jhames will do anything to land the lead role in Broadway’s hottest new show, Roman and Jewel, a Romeo and Juliet inspired hip-hopera featuring a diverse cast and modern twists on the play. But her hopes are crushed when she learns mega-star Cinny won the lead…and Jerzie is her understudy.

Falling for male lead Zeppelin Reid is a terrible idea–especially once Jerzie learns Cinny wants him for herself. Star-crossed love always ends badly. But when a video of Jerzie and Zepp practicing goes viral and the entire world weighs in on who should play Jewel, Jerzie learns that while the price of fame is high, friendship, family, and love are priceless. 

4. Angel of Greenwood by Randi Pink

Available Through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date: January 12, 2021

Summary: A historical YA novel that takes place during the Greenwood Massacre of 1921, in an area of Tulsa, OK, known as the Black Wall Street.

Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Wilson is, on the surface, a town troublemaker, but is hiding that he is an avid reader and secret poet, never leaving home without his journal. A passionate follower of WEB. Du Bois, he believes that black people should rise up to claim their place as equals.

Sixteen-year-old Angel Hill is a loner, mostly disregarded by her peers as a goody-goody. Her father is dying, and her family’s financial situation is in turmoil. Also, as a loyal follower of Booker T. Washington, she believes, through education and tolerance, that black people should rise slowly and without forced conflict.

Though they’ve attended the same schools, Isaiah never noticed Angel as anything but a dorky, Bible toting church girl. Then their English teacher offers them a job on her mobile library, a three-wheel, two-seater bike. Angel can’t turn down the money and Isaiah is soon eager to be in such close quarters with Angel every afternoon.

But life changes on May 31, 1921 when a vicious white mob storms the community of Greenwood, leaving the town destroyed and thousands of residents displaced. Only then, Isaiah, Angel, and their peers realize who their real enemies are.

5. Rise Of The Red Hand by Olivia Chadha (The Mechanists #1)

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop
Release Date: January 19, 2021

Summary: A rare, searing portrayal of the future of climate change in South Asia. A streetrat turned revolutionary and the disillusioned hacker son of a politician try to take down a ruthlessly technocratic government that sacrifices its poorest citizens to build its utopia.

The South Asian Province is split in two. Uplanders lead luxurious lives inside a climate-controlled biodome, dependent on technology and gene therapy to keep them healthy and youthful forever. Outside, the poor and forgotten scrape by with discarded black-market robotics, a society of poverty-stricken cyborgs struggling to survive in slums threatened by rising sea levels, unbreathable air, and deadly superbugs.

Ashiva works for the Red Hand, an underground network of revolutionaries fighting the government, which is run by a merciless computer algorithm that dictates every citizen’s fate. She’s a smuggler with the best robotic arm and cybernetic enhancements the slums can offer, and her cargo includes the most vulnerable of the city’s abandoned children.

When Ashiva crosses paths with the brilliant hacker Riz-Ali, a privileged Uplander who finds himself embroiled in the Red Hand’s dangerous activities, they uncover a horrifying conspiracy that the government will do anything to bury. From armed guardians kidnapping children to massive robots flattening the slums, to a pandemic that threatens to sweep through the city like wildfire, Ashiva and Riz-Ali will have to put aside their differences in order to fight the system and save the communities they love from destruction. 

6. Wings Of Ebony by J. Elle (WOE #1)

Available Through Bookshop & Barnes & Noble
Release Date: January 26, 2020

Summary: In this riveting, keenly emotional debut fantasy, a Black teen from Houston has her world upended when she learns about her godly ancestry–and with evil sinking its claws into humans and gods alike, she’ll have to unearth the magic of her true identity to save both her worlds.

“Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue’s taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders.

Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghizon’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life.

Worse still, evidence mounts that the evil plaguing East Row is the same one that lurks in Ghizon—an evil that will stop at nothing until it has stolen everything from her and everyone she loves. Rue must embrace her true identity and wield the full magnitude of her ancestors’ power to save her neighborhood before the gods burn it to the ground.

7. Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop
Release Date: February 2, 2021

Summary: Coming of age as a Fat brown girl in a white Connecticut suburb is hard.
Harder when your whole life is on fire, though.

Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.

People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter.

But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing–he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? UGHHH. Everything is now officially a MESS.

8. Like Home by Louisa Onomé

Available Through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date: February 23, 2021

Summary: Fans of Netflix’s On My Block, In the Heights, and readers of Elizabeth Acevedo and Ibi Zoboi will love this debut novel about a girl whose life is turned upside down after one local act of vandalism throws her relationships and even her neighborhood into turmoil.

Chinelo, or Nelo as her best friend Kate calls her, is all about her neighborhood Ginger East. She loves its chill vibe, ride-or-die sense of community, and her memories of growing up there. Ginger East isn’t what it used to be, though. After a deadly incident at the local arcade, all her closest friends moved away, except for Kate. But as long as they have each other, Nelo’s good.

Only, Kate’s parents’ corner store is vandalized, leaving Nelo shaken to her core. The police and the media are quick to point fingers, and soon more of the outside world descends on Ginger East with promises to “fix” it. Suddenly, Nelo finds herself in the middle of a drama unfolding on a national scale.

Worse yet, Kate is acting strange. She’s pushing Nelo away at the exact moment they need each other most. Nelo’s entire world is morphing into something she hates, and she must figure out how to get things back on track or risk losing everything⁠—and everyone⁠—she loves.

9. The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop
Release Date: March 16, 2021

Summary: When two teens discover that they were both sexually assaulted at the same party, they develop a cautious friendship through her family’s possibly magical pastelería, his secret forest of otherworldly trees, and the swallows returning to their hometown.

Graciela Cristales’s whole world changes after she and a boy she barely knows are assaulted at the same party. She loses her gift for making enchanted pan dulce. Neighborhood trees vanish overnight, while mirrored glass appears, bringing reckless magic with it. And Ciela is haunted by what happened to her, and what happened to the boy whose name she never learned.

But when the boy, Lock, shows up at Ciela’s school, he has no memory of that night, and no clue that a single piece of mirrored glass is taking his life apart. Ciela decides to help him, which means hiding the truth about that night. Because Ciela knows who assaulted her, and him. And she knows that her survival, and his, depends on no one finding out what really happened.

10. The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky

Available Through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date: April 13, 2021

Summary: New girl Rachel Chavez is eager to make a fresh start at Manchester Prep. But as one of the few scholarship kids, Rachel struggles to fit in, and when she gets caught up in a prank gone awry, she ends up with more enemies than friends.

To her surprise, however, the prank attracts the attention of the Mary Shelley Club, a secret club of students with one objective: come up with the scariest prank to orchestrate real fear. But as the pranks escalate, the competition turns cutthroat and takes on a life of its own.

When the tables are turned and someone targets the club itself, Rachel must track down the real-life monster in their midst . . . even if it means finally confronting the dark secrets from her past.

11. The Forest Of Stolen Girls by June Hur

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop

Summary: After her father vanishes while investigating the disappearance of 13 young women, a teen returns to her secretive hometown to pick up the trail in this second YA historical mystery from the author of The Silence of Bones.

Hwani’s family has never been the same since she and her younger sister went missing and were later found unconscious in the forest, near a gruesome crime scene. The only thing they remember: Their captor wore a painted-white mask.

To escape the haunting memories of this incident, the family flees their hometown. Years later, Detective Min—Hwani’s father—learns that thirteen girls have recently disappeared under similar circumstances, and so he returns to their hometown to investigate… only to vanish as well.

Determined to find her father and solve the case that tore their family apart, Hwani returns home to pick up the trail. As she digs into the secrets of the small village—and reconnects with her now estranged sister—Hwani comes to realize that the answer lies within her own buried memories of what happened in the forest all those years ago.

12. Witches Steeped In Gold by Ciannon Smart (WSIG #1)

Available Through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date:

Summary: Divided by their castes. United by their vengeance.

Iraya has spent her life in a cell, but every day brings her closer to freedom—and vengeance.

Jazmyne is the queen’s daughter, but unlike her sister before her, she has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power.

Sworn enemies, these two witches enter a precarious alliance to take down a mutual threat. But revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain—except the lengths they will go to win this game.

13. The Other Side Of Perfect by Mariko Turk

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop
Release Date: May 11, 2021

Summary: Alina Keeler was destined to dance, but one terrifying fall shatters her leg–and her dreams of a professional ballet career along with it. 

After a summer healing (translation: eating vast amounts of Cool Ranch Doritos and binging ballet videos on YouTube), she is forced to trade her pre-professional dance classes for normal high school, where she reluctantly joins the school musical. However, rehearsals offer more than she expected–namely Jude, her annoyingly attractive cast mate she just might be falling for. 

But to move forward, Alina must make peace with her past and face the racism she had grown to accept in the dance industry. She wonders what it means to yearn for ballet–something so beautiful, yet so broken. And as broken as she feels, can she ever open her heart to someone else? 

Touching, romantic, and peppered with humor, this debut novel explores the tenuousness of perfectionism, the possibilities of change, and the importance of raising your voice.

14. Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi (Perfectly Parvin #1)

Available Through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date: May 18, 2021

Summary:  Fourteen-year-old Iranian-American Parvin Mohammadi sets out to win the ultimate date to homecoming in this heartfelt and outright hilarious debut.

Parvin has just had her heart broken when she meets the cutest boy at her new high school, Matty Fumero–with an emphasis on fumero, because he might be the smoking hot cure to all of her boy troubles. If Parvin can get Matty to ask her to homecoming, she’s positive it will erase all the awful and embarrassing feelings He Who Will Not Be Named left her with after the summer. The only problem is Matty is definitely too cool for bassoon-playing, frizzy-haired, Cheeto-eating Parvin. Since being herself has not worked for her in the past (see aforementioned relationship), she decides that to be the girl who finally gets the guy, she should start acting like the women in her favorite rom-coms. Those girls aren’t loud, they certainly don’t cackle when they laugh, and they smile much more than they talk. Easy enough, right?

But as Parvin struggles through her parent-mandated Farsi lessons on the weekends, a budding friendship with a boy she can’t help but be her unfiltered self with, and dealing with the ramifications of the Muslim Ban on her family in Iran, she realizes that being herself might just be the perfect thing after all.

15. Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop
Release Date: May 25, 2021

Summary: Crazy Rich Asians meets The Princess Diaries in this irresistible story about Izumi, a Japanese-American girl who discovers her senior year of high school that she’s really a princess of Japan.

Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in—it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi—or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”—and her mom against the world. But then Izzy discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity…and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.

In a whirlwind, Izzy travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.

Izzy soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself—back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairytale, happily ever after?

16. Fire With Fire by Destiny Soria

Available Through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date: June 8, 2021

Summary: Dani and Eden Rivera were both born to kill dragons, but the sisters couldn’t be more different. For Dani, dragon slaying takes a back seat to normal high school life, while Eden prioritizes training above everything else.

Yet they both agree on one thing: it’s kill or be killed where dragons are concerned.

Until Dani comes face-to-face with one and forges a rare and magical bond with him. As she gets to know Nox, she realizes that everything she thought she knew about dragons is wrong. With Dani lost to the dragons, Eden turns to the mysterious and alluring sorcerers to help save her sister. Now on opposite sides of the conflict, the sisters will do whatever it takes to save the other. But the two are playing with magic that is more dangerous than they know, and there is another, more powerful enemy waiting for them both in the shadows.

17. Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop
Release Date: June 29, 2021

Summary: Two girls on opposite sides of a war discover they’re fighting for a common purpose—and falling for each other—in Zoe Hana Mikuta’s high-octane debut Gearbreakers, perfect for fans of Pacific Rim, Pierce Brown’s Red Rising Saga, and Marie Lu’s Legend series.

We went past praying to deities and started to build them instead...

The shadow of Godolia’s tyrannical rule is spreading, aided by their giant mechanized weapons known as Windups. War and oppression are everyday constants for the people of the Badlands, who live under the thumb of their cruel Godolia overlords.

Eris Shindanai is a Gearbreaker, a brash young rebel who specializes in taking down Windups from the inside. When one of her missions goes awry and she finds herself in a Godolia prison, Eris meets Sona Steelcrest, a cybernetically enhanced Windup pilot. At first Eris sees Sona as her mortal enemy, but Sona has a secret: She has intentionally infiltrated the Windup program to destroy Godolia from within.

As the clock ticks down to their deadliest mission yet, a direct attack to end Godolia’s reign once and for all, Eris and Sona grow closer—as comrades, friends, and perhaps something more…

18. A Beautiful Doom by Laura Pohl (Grimrose Girls #1)

Available Through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date: August 3, 2021

Summary: Four troubled friends, One murdered girl… and a dark fate that may leave them all doomed.

After the mysterious death of their best friend, Ella, Yuki, and Rory are the talk of their elite school, Grimrose Académie. The police ruled it a suicide, but the trio are determined to find out what really happened.

When Nani Eszes arrives as their newest roommate, it sets into motion a series of events they couldn’t have imagined. As the girls retrace their friend’s last steps, they uncover dark secrets about themselves and their destinies, discovering they’re all cursed to repeat the brutal and gruesome endings to their stories until they can break the cycle.

This contemporary take on classic fairytales reimagines heroines as friends attending the same school. While investigating the murder of their best friend, they uncover connections to their ancient fairytale curses and attempt to forge their own fate before it’s too late.

Words can’t explain all my joy & anticipation for all the wonderful upcoming books! Although these are just some of the many POC-authored books I’m eagerly waiting for, I hope you enjoyed this list! 💜📚✨

Which 2021 YA releases from AOCs are on your TBR? 😍📚✨

Blog Tour: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust {Book Recommendations}

Girl Serpent Thorn by Melissa BashardoustGirl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Release Date: July 8, 2020

Pages: 336

Available Through The Book Depository: Girl Serpent Thorn

Summary: A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

As part of today’s blog tour for Girl Serpent Thorn, I’ll be recommending some YA Sapphic fantasy books! Many of these I’ve read and adored, so the recommendations will definitely feature some underrated favorites that deserve more hype.

The Little Queen by Meia Geddes

The Little Queen by Meia Geddes

I read this charming novella back in 2017 and more people should read it! The Little Queen is unsure of whether she’s fit to rule. This leads her to embark on a journey across her kingdom making friends, learning more about the world, and to better understand who she is meant to be.

The magical/fantasy elements are presented in a quiet sort of way and the story overall reads like a timeless fairy tale. Out little queen finds friendship, love, and its such a delightful read.

The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Words cannot describe the love I have for this book! It follows twins Lil and Kizzy who find themselves taken from their Traveller community and forced to work at a prince’s castle, but at its core its about the bond these sisters share despite the horrible situation that’s upon them, to take charge of their own destinies. The novel features Romani culture and underlying vampire lore.

Hargrave’s writing evokes the style of an old historical fairytale, while her stories center on the journey of young women seeking independence, while navigating friendship and family. The Deathless Girls however is a much different tale that is essentially a dark, gothic retelling of The Brides Of Dracula! Themes of love and sisterhood are woven into every page of this book, though at times it is heartbreaking.

Crier's War by Nina Varela

Crier’s War by Nina Varela

Ayla seeks vengeance against the automae, but finds herself falling in love with the heir Crier instead! The politics, intrigue, unique world, and poetic writing are just some of the many things I love about this book.

Its a story about vengeance, hope, revolution and the way Varela weaves those masterfully into the story just highlight how brilliantly the world is crafted! Crier and Ayla each have their own personal journeys that teach them so much about the world they thought they knew. They each have their secrets, but it also explores the ferocity of emotion and how that also influences the automae/human philosophy that’s established.

Shatter The Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells

Shatter The Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells

This is also a more quiet fantasy that follows Maren who essentially goes undercover and becomes an aromatory for the palace to figure out where her girlfriend was taken. Along the way she learns more about dragons, the world’s empire and much more on her quest of rescuing someone she loves! Its a character-driven story with a fun, unique plot.

Also, what makes this book incredible is how it really is a story about Maren who starts off as a reluctant hero, but as she learns more about the world around her there seems to be a transformation to her as a character too and I really appreciated that! Overall if your looking for a character-driven, YA fantasy adventure with dragons, I recommend this!

To conclude the tour, I wanted to recommend some upcoming 2020/2021 Sapphic fantasy books (YA & SFF) that you should have on your radar:

The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart
Release Date:
September 8, 2020

Summary: In an empire controlled by bone shard magic, Lin, the former heir to the emperor will fight to reclaim her magic and her place on the throne. The Bone Shard Daughter marks the debut of a major new voice in epic fantasy.

The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.

Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.

Each Of Us A Desert by Mark Oshiro

Each Of Us A Desert by Mark Oshiro
Release Date:September 15, 2020

Summary: From the award-winning author Mark Oshiro comes a powerful fantasy novel about finding home and falling in love amidst the dangers of a desert where stories come to life.

Xochital is destined to wander the desert alone, speaking her troubled village’s stories into its arid winds. Her only companions are the blessed stars above and enimagic lines of poetry magically strewn across dusty dunes.

Her one desire: to share her heart with a kindred spirit.

One night, Xo’s wish is granted—in the form of Emilia, the cold and beautiful daughter of the town’s murderous mayor. But when the two set out on a magical journey across the desert, they find their hearts could be a match… if only they can survive the nightmare-like terrors that arise when the sun goes down.

These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy

These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy
Release Date: April 20, 2021

A queer #ownvoices retelling of “The Firebird,” a Russian folktale, by debut author Alexandra Overy.

When twin heirs are born in Tourin, their fates are decided at a young age. While Izaveta remained at court to learn the skills she’d need as the future queen, Asya was taken away to train with her aunt, the mysterious Firebird, who ensured magic remained balanced in the realm.

But before Asya’s training is completed, the ancient power blooms inside her, which can mean only one thing: the queen is dead, and a new ruler must be crowned.

As the princesses come to understand everything their roles entail, they’ll discover who they can trust, who they can love—and who killed their mother.

Hope you enjoyed checking out my Girl, Serpent, Thorn Blog Tour & thank you to the publisher! 📚🐍💗

Are you planning on reading Girl Serpent Thorn? Any Sapphic fantasy books you recommend?

Anna K. by Jenny Lee ARC Review

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

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Release Date: March 3, 2020

Pages: 400

Available For Preorder Through The Book Depository: Anna K.

Cover Design: Erin Fitzsimmons

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

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

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

My Rating: ★★★★☆

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finale by Stephanie Garber Review

Finale by Stephanie Garber CR: Flatiron BooksFinale by Stephanie Garber (Caraval #3)

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Release Date: May 7, 2019

Pages: 478

Available Through The Book Depository: Finale (UK Paperback Edition)

Summary: A love worth fighting for. A dream worth dying for. An ending worth waiting for.

It’s been two months since the Fates were freed from a deck of cards, two months since Legend claimed the throne for his own, and two months since Tella discovered the boy she fell in love with doesn’t really exist.

With lives, empires, and hearts hanging in the balance, Tella must decide if she’s going to trust Legend or a former enemy. After uncovering a secret that upends her life, Scarlett will need to do the impossible. And Legend has a choice to make that will forever change and define him.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun. There are no spectators this time—only those who will win, and those who will lose everything.

Welcome, welcome to Finale. All games must come to an end…

*Finale spoilers are in this review*

My Rating:★★★☆☆ ¾

My Thoughts: Finale is the page-turning conclusion to the Caraval series! Expansion on the lore of the world, focus on character-development, and romance take center stage as sisters Scarlett and Tella work together to save their world while also finding their happy endings!

Finale! This is a book I was actually surprised I’d put off to the side when it first released because I’d read Caraval and Legendary back to back last year! But I’d finally taken time to see what this final book had in store and finished it within just a couple days! Now that I’ve finally read it, I have so many thoughts on it, but overall I’d say its a really satisfying ending to this series!

What I appreciated about this final book was how it continued to build on the lore and mythology of the world, especially regarding the Fates!

For me, Caraval has always been one of those series where I’d sped through each book within a couple days and enjoyed immersing myself in a fun fantasy world for a while–that’s something I really appreciate these books! No matter my critiques of this series, I’ve always just appreciated finding the fun in following Scarlett and Tella on their grand adventures throughout the world of Caraval!

Finale starts with both Scarlett and Tella in a place of sadness. Scarlett’s felt abandoned by Julian decides to see if she can make her arrangement work with Nicolas d’Arcy, while Tella has felt nothing but loneliness since Legend left her and he only visits her in dreams while he reins over as prince.

Throughout this novel, both sisters go on journeys of growth and development to better understand who they want to be in this magical world they’ve gotten themselves mixed up in.

Overall, as I’m reflecting on Finale I found that message was something that stuck with me as I followed each character’s story. From Legend, Jacks, to the Fates, Paloma, etc. what this last book really takes time to explore is the sacrifices characters learn to make not only for themselves, but for others and their world. This novel really focuses on the growth and healing of our main cast of characters!

Slowly Scarlett, Tella, and Julian begin to realize that now with Fates having escaped, they’ve found their way into the real world and are causing havoc in Elantaine. But, it goes beyond more than just that as Tella learns they still have a connection to her mother, but more specifically one in particular–The Fallen Star.

Finale is incredibly character-driven and I appreciate that! Throughout the series, Garber has always written her characters in such a way that’s allowed me to really connect with them and in Finale I felt she made that an even bigger focus.

This last book also has a lot more romance, which was nice! However, I did find it took up a lot of the story at points, especially when it came to Tella’s story-line. I definitely understood why it did though: Tella feels all by herself and when we learn Legend is avoiding her because its tied to his immortality/powers, Jacks is the only one willing to help and be honest with her, agreeing to alter her emotions to take away her pain.

But as I read, I felt the romance did drag a bit too much for too long. Especially when it came to Tella and Legend, it took steps back when it didn’t need to and the plot point of Scarlett creating a competition between Julian & Nicolas–why??  Its so obvious Julian is meant for her and just felt like filler.

I will say though, I loved Jacks and would say he’s probably one of my favorite characters  & Fates in this book (and the series maybe?), he deserved more in my opinion!! He helped Tella and offered her answers to help with the Fates when she wasn’t sure. Although he is cunning and deceptive, even knowing he just wanted to win over Tella, he still decided to help them anyways.

It was also great to see Julian and Dante interact with the original Caraval crew again, though I am sad because they were only present for a small portion of the story. Finale delivered a lot of growth and development to the 3 guys: Julian, Legend/Dante, & Jacks and you could really see how they each changed over the course of the story!

Now onto more critical points that lowered my rating on this last book! I think the whole reading experience of Finale made me think more about series finales as a whole and how they wrap up. I did read Finale with a more critical lens because the journey of reading this hyped-up series overall and being an aspiring fantasy writer, just made me go into it analyzing different elements of the story a lot more deeply!

Firstly, the pacing. While it was great to get both Scarlett and Tella’s POVs because it added so many layers to the story, compared to previous books, I felt Finale was definitely slower. Which is interesting because when I looked at the page counts, Legendary is only about 20 pages less. Plot points for me really dragged for a while longer than they needed to–such as Tella jumping between Legend and Jacks & Scarlett being trapped with the Fallen Star to name a few.

For me I felt it wasn’t until Jacks helped Tella out, that her storyline began to move forward a lot faster. Though I will say that I appreciated Scarlett taking a more active role compared to her role in Legendary!

Now onto world-building! I loved getting all these facets to explore the lore and how it developed alongside the plot, such as getting to meet the Fates and seeing them interact with the universe of Caraval. For example, seeing Poisoner’s work early on with Scarlett and Julian and understanding how Legend could help Jacks regain all his power. However, I’m not sure what it is exactly, but I didn’t feel like the setting itself expanded or changed in this book a whole lot. I’m also not sure if this makes sense, but when looking at Caraval, Legendary, and Finale together as a whole…it felt like the mechanisms and atmosphere of each of them (in regards to the world) changed between each one and I’m not sure how I felt about that.

The writing itself, while it was cinematic and nice to read, did feel overly descriptive. Generally speaking, I felt it didn’t do much to really build on the actual setting itself. Also, I’m not sure if its just me but there were SO many dress descriptions in this book 😂!

I think another element of the story that made a decline the further I read, was the main villain and his motivations. I felt they really fell apart and just ended up dragging up until Tella, Scarlett, and the team developed their plan, then the story and pacing got a lot better (there’s also time-travel involved! I’m only disappointed it was brought in this late into the series and was used to conveniently tie up the ending).

I will say though that I loved exploring the magic system a lot more in-depth through not only the Fates, but also characters we’ve gotten to know such as Legend, Jacks, and more interestingly Scarlett!

Above all, Finale had a lot of different plot threads and I’m happy that Garber wrapped them all up very nicely!

Finale is Garber’s last return to the world of Caraval, tying together the Dragna’s sisters journeys! The mystery, romance, character-development, and mythology are just some of the many elements weaved into this final book that will keep you reading till the last page! The dark, magical, and immersive world of Caraval comes to an end in this satisfying conclusion!

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! 🎙✨💕

Legendary by Stephanie Garber ARC Review

Legendary by Stephanie GarberLegendary by Stephanie Garber (Caraval #2)

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Release Date: May 29, 2018

Pages: 416

Summary: A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.

*Received ARC through a festival* + *Be wary of major spoilers!!*

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Legendary takes readers back into the world of Caraval! With a darker and more magical atmosphere, Tella finds herself immersed in a game of secrets, mystery, and magic!

While Legendary for me personally wasn’t a 4.5+ star read, it really put the view of Caraval in a completely different perspective and I really enjoyed that.

Legendary takes a different, much darker turn than Caraval, while introducing and expanding on the mythology + lore of the world, which was so interesting. Through the Fates and Deck Of Destiny.

We get an expansion on the world even more than we did in Caraval and I loved seeing how it played a bigger role towards the mysterious character of Legend and the game of Caraval itself.

Firstly, this novel now follows Tella’s journey after the events of book 1 in a much slower paced story, where the stakes are higher. However, in my opinion those stakes were definitely overshadowed by the slow pacing and character-developed route of the story.

Tella’s on a journey through Caraval just as her sister was in Book 1, however with a bit of a twist.

By the end of Caraval, we learn she’s made a deal with the help of a mysterious friend she’s sure will reunite her with her mother. But, we learn she will only get her back, if she learns of Legend’s true name!

She must now complete her own game of Caraval if she hopes to be reunited with her mother, while also preventing darker forces from interfering.

I enjoyed how Legendary took more of fairy tale vibe with royalty, curses, love, prophecies, magic, etc. I found the sequel delivered this element in a very interesting way.

Garber’s writing seamlessly introduces more magical elements this time around and easily incorporates it into the world of Caraval.

With more of a game set in reality, the dark atmosphere and familial/personal stakes this game delivers for Tella was done in a very interesting way and had you really question what was real or just another part of Caraval.

I really loved how Caraval this time around really blended with reality, it made Legendary that much more of a mind game, with the reader unsure of what exactly to believe!

Legendary also introduces us to a couple new characters who deliver so much to the story.

We get introduced to the prince of Elantaine, Jacks (the Prince of Hearts aka one of the Fates) and the queen of Elantaine.

Jacks was easily one of my new favorite characters! He was very mysterious and his personality shined through every moment of page time he was in.

While its clear what his motives are regarding the Fates and his plans during the 2nd Caraval, his character was just so dynamic and interesting till the very end.

I also loved how we got a new and different view of Tella! From book 1 we see her through Scarlett’s eyes and in a very one-sided way, but this time around we just get to see more of her personality shine and the inner depths of her as a character, who isn’t all she seems.

Additionally, it was also great to get more development on the mysterious Dante, who was somewhat of minor character in Caraval, but definitely gets a lot more expansion in Legendary!

I really wish Scarlett had more page-time though! She was so great in Caraval, that I felt in Legendary she didn’t have much of an impact on Tella as Tella had on her, in book 1!

Continuing with the characters and story, I really loved reading more about discovering who exactly was Legend and the introduction to the mysterious prince, Jacks!

Jacks is a character who I can’t wait to learn more about in Garber’s, Finale!

The element of the Fates also allowed for more depth to a different side of the world + story in Caraval, which was so interesting.

However, with those great elements aside, to me Legendary (at times) just felt it was Caraval (plot-wise) all over again, but now following Tella. While that is definitely not a bad thing, I just couldn’t help but compare the 2 very easily.

I was just hoping for Legendary to take a bit of a different approach, however the mystery and expansion on the mythology made it a very memorable sequel.

The last 50 pages or so however, really brought me back in as all the pieces were coming together. Finally reaching the end, all I could think was “what?? Now, how am I supposed to wait for Finale?” 

I enjoyed the ending and know seeing where the story seems to be headed, I am beyond excited to read book 3!

Legendary is a darker and even more character-driven sequel! With the magic system expanded on and even more intrigue and mystery, Garber’s continuation to Caraval will have you unsure of what is real and what is all part of the game as Tella takes a chance and plays Caraval!

Caraval by Stephanie Garber Review

caraval-by-stephanie-garberCaraval by Stephanie Garber (Caraval #1)

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Release Date: January 31, 2017

Pages: 407

Summary:Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Caraval is an immersive and page turning YA Fantasy! With elements of mystery and wonder throughout, Garber’s debut will have you turning the page!

So, I’ve finally read Caraval!! To be honest I was so worried about reading this book because I’d heard so much pre-release hype and heard such amazing things well before & after release!

I’m so glad I gave Caraval a chance, because I ended up really really enjoying it!🎪✨🌹

I also managed to somehow get my hands on an ARC of Legendary through Yallwest and after reaching the end of Caraval, can’t wait to read/review it!!

Scarlett has wished her entire life to go to Caraval and finally witness the magic and wonder she’s heard stories about since she was little & maybe even get a chance to meet the mysterious Caraval master, Legend!

With a difficult home life, living with a manipulative + abusive father, and arranged marriage, however, she is unsure whether her dreams of attending Caraval will ever come true!

Although she is invited by Legend himself and finds herself with a spark of hope again, she’s doubtful she’ll ever be able to make it.

Tella and Scarlett couldn’t be more different. Tella is the younger, but more outgoing of the two. She’s no stranger to romance and maybe even danger.

As Scarlett is about to share the news of Legend’s letters to Tella, she see’s her fooling around with a mysterious sailor, Julian!

Scarlett shares the news with Tella and Julian provides a way for them to make it to Caraval. Scarlett isn’t sure it’ll be so easy, but she has no choice when her sister and Julian team up to take Scarlett & leave the Isle Of Trisda behind to make it to Caraval and escape their father + Scarlett’s arranged marriage!

Things however take a different turn when Tella goes missing as Scarlett gets dragged into Caraval!

Now Julian and Scarlett have to team up when they soon realize that Tella has become a part of Caraval and have about 4 nights to find her and maybe even earn a wish, but everything isn’t what it seems.

Through the mystery and suspense, Caraval becomes such an immersive and fun read! As we follow Scarlett on the hunt for her sister, the magic and dark secrets of Caraval, come to light!

The mystery of the plot built a lot of suspense and really heightened the stakes, which for me, made the story unexpected and overall made just fun in trying to piece everything together through the twists and turns!

I was taken by surprise at the plot twists a number of times, which made the book really unique, fun to read as well and just helped to continue building the suspense and mystery!

It made the story such a page turner, not only through the way Garber built mystery but also through the puzzles throughout Scarlett’s Caraval adventure!

The characters all really came to life and through Garber’s writing the plot itself was so immersive + cinematic!!

Garber brings such life to her characters and I loved each and everyone! They were all written in a way where its so easy to picture who they were and have them become so real on the page!

From Scarlett, Tella, Julian, Aiko, the mysterious Legend, and so many others,  every single character brought so much to this story and made Caraval such an engaging read!!

While I loved pretty much all of the characters, I really loved Julian and Aiko!! Aiko is a mysterious girl with an even more mysterious journal who helps Scarlett along the way during Caraval, when Scarlett + Julian get split up for a bit!!

She was a fun, sassy, and witty character & she easily became one of my favorites, along-side Julian!!

As mentioned above, Garber’s writing easily pulls you into the magical story of Caraval and makes her world so cinematic and immersive! Additionally, because its also written in 3rd person, it allowed for such an expansive view of Caraval itself and helps to build the mystery + eeriness of the story so well!

I’ll admit I was a bit hesitant b/c of the length of Caraval, but was so surprised at how quickly the pages were flying by!

No matter what page I stopped reading, every time I picked it back up I was immediately transported back to Caraval!

You can also feel and see the love that Scarlett has for Tella and what she’s willing to sacrafice for her, even if Tella & Scarlett don’t see eye-to-eye on everything!

This reminded me so much of Wintersong, in a great way!! From the sisterly bond and the mystery!! Not only that, but both older sisters show such determination to get their sisters back!! ❤

I really found that sisterly bond through Scarlett’s actions and thoughts throughout Caraval to really drive the story as she tries to find her before others can reach her first & Caraval comes to an end!

Now as to some of the cons…

For me personally, I did find the writing to get a bit dull and repetitive, when colors were used to describe/tell so much of the setting or emotions. While I liked how it offered nice visuals for the story, I was hoping for a different type of descriptive writing-style to bring more magic to the setting!

Additionally, I felt the plot built up so much mystery for Caraval & Legend, that I personally wanted a bit more from the ending when things are finally revealed.

Other than Caraval itself, the other elements of the world (various Isles & Continents) were mentioned, but never really given much development or expansion.

However, aside from those elements Caraval surprised me more than I thought it would and I am beyond excited to see where Garber takes Legendary!

Caraval is a fun and immersive YA Fantasy!! With a page-turning plot and mystery to keep you hooked, Garber’s magical tale will have you guessing as you follow Scarlett on her adventure throughout the mysterious game of Caraval!!

Book Bytes I #10

Book Bytes is a monthly feature I created to share news in the world of YA!

Each month posts can contain anything from new cover/title reveals, book-to-movie news, even the latest book deals!!

As a part of my 2018 Bookish Goals, I really want to continue w/ my blog features & Book Bytes is one that I sadly hadn’t kept up with in 2017!

Also with so much Young Adult book news recently, I thought it was the perfect time to bring back this feature!

I’ve also decided to update it from previous Book Bytes, by adding categories, other than just dates to have it more organized and make it easier to jump to whichever book news you’d want to read about!

If there’s any YA Book news I may have missed, definitely let me know in the comments below!

Adaptation News

781.The Sacred Lies Of Minnow Bly Starring Cast Announced

Stephanie Oakes 2015 debut novel, The Sacred Lies Of Minnow Bly was announced to have been picked up as a TV series adaptation for a 10-episode series w/ Facebook Watch.

Announced March 2 by Deadline: “Elena Kampouris (Before I Fall), Kevin Carroll (The Leftovers), Kiana Madeira (Dark Matter), and Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary) are set as leads in Sacred Lies (working title)..”

2.Netflix picks up rights to There’s Someone Inside Your House

Announced March 15, Stranger Things Producer Shawn Levy, 21 Laps, and James Wan are teaming up to adapt Stephanie Perkins’s novel into a movie for Netflix.

No release date has been announced.

To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han3.To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before Movie Coming to Netflix in 2018

Variety announced that Netflix acquired the rights to Jenny Han’s To All The Boy’s I’ve Loved Before film.

Filming had occurred in 2017 and as of March 21, 2018 the film is set for a Summer 2018 release date!

However, there hasn’t been an official release date announced yet!

4.The Darkest Minds movie Stills + Trailer

As of March 26, EW released the first look of The Darkest Minds movie and also giving some background to the upcoming film.

The Darkest Minds film is set to be released August 3 of 2018 and as of March 28, the The Darkest Minds movie trailer was released which you can check out on the movies official twitter Here!

5.The Hazel Wood picked up by Colombia Pictures

On March 27, The Wrap announced Ashleigh Powell, who wrote the screenplay for Disney’s upcoming film: The Nutcracker And The Four Realms, has signed on to adapt Melissa Albert’s debut novel The Hazel Wood.

Also picked up by Colombia Pictures, no other news has been announced.

Book Deals

1.The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

Set to be released by Henry Holt pub. in 2019, The Kingdom is set in a fantasy theme park and follows “Ana, a human-android hybrid whose only purpose as a “Fantasist” is to make dreams come true, until she’s accused of murder.(announced March 13)

2. I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver

Set to be released by Scholastic with June 2019 release date, I Wish You All The Best is “about a non-binary teen who is kicked out by their parents after coming out, but learns that sometimes from disaster one can build a happier new life. ” (announced March 28)

Cover + Title Reveals

1.Crown Of Thunder by Tochi Onyebuchi 

The sequel to Onyebuchi’s 2017 debut YA Fantasy novel, Beasts Made Of Night, had its cover revealed on PenguinTeen’s site March 2.

Crown Of Thunder is set to be released October 16, 2018!

2.Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Adib Khorram’s debut novel, Darius The Great Is Not Okay, had its cover reveal on PenguinTeen’s site, March 4.

The cover reveal also included an interview with the author and cover designer, Samira Iravani.

Darius The Great Is Not Okay is set to be released August 28, 2018!

3.The Wicked King by Holly Black

The sequel to Black’s The Cruel Prince, which is titled The Wicked King, had its cover revealed, which also included an excerpt, on EW on March 8.

The Wicked King is set to be released January 8, 2019!

4.Fire & Heist by Sarah Beth Durst

Revealed on March 15, Sarah Beth Durst revealed the cover to her latest YA Fantasy, Fire And Heist, on her website!

According to her website this novel is a “contemporary fantasy about a teen were-dragon who must steal her first treasure. But a dark discovery during her heist could put her family in incredible danger.”

Fire And Heist is set to released December 4, 2018!

A Room Away From The Wolves by Nova Ren Suma5.A Room Away From The Wolves by Nova Ren Suma

A Room Away From The Wolves Cover + Excerpt was revealed March 15 via Bustle!

“Along with her mother, Sabina escaped her abusive father as a child. But when her mother settles down with a man and his two daughters, it pulls on the seams of their precarious relationship. Ten years after their escape, Sabina is 17 and alone, after being kicked out of her stepfather’s house. In search of refuge, she heads to New York City and secures a room at Catherine House, an all-girls boarding house in Greenwich Village. But she quickly discovers that something isn’t quite right about the house… or anyone who lives there. But is there a sinister underbelly to Catherine House — or has Sabina been lying to everyone around her?”

A Room Away From The Wolves is set to be released September 4, 2018!

6.Realm Of Ruins by Hannah West

The companion to Hannah West’s  debut YA Fantasy, Kingdom Of Ash And Briars had its cover reveal (+ giveaway) on YABooksCentral!

Realm Of Ruins is set to be released October 2, 2018!

7.Last Girl Lied To by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

On March 21, the cover to Laurie Elizabeth Flynn’s YA Thriller, Last Girl Lied To had its cover reveal + excerpt on Paste Magazine!

Last Girl Lied To is set to be released April 16, 2019!

8.Kingdom of The Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao

On March 23, EW revealed the cover + excerpt to the sequel/finale to Julie C. Dao’s Rise Of The Empress Series.

Kingdom Of The Blazing Phoenix is set to be released October 23!

9. Warcross #2 by Marie Lu Title Reveal

On March 26, the title for the sequel/finale to Marie Lu’s Warcross duology was revealed through Penguin Teen’s twitter!

The finale to Warcross is titled:

Wildcard

Wildcard is set to be released September 18, 2018!

10. What If It’s Us by Adam Silvera + Becky Albertalli

On March 28, EW revealed the cover + a Q&A w/ both Adam & Becky of how What If It’s Us came to be!

What If It’s Us is set to be released October 9, 2018!

Book Bytes 24hryabookblog BannerEver since I created Book Bytes, I’ve always used this feature image! But because I’ve gotten more used to newer sites for editing and creating banners since then, I don’t think I’ll be using this particular one anymore.

I feel not only will it help my blog because the newer banner will follow similar theme to my other ones, but I also feel that giving it an upgrade shows how much I’ve grown as a blogger!

Let me know your thoughts on the new image!~ 

And that’s the YA Book News for March! Lets discuss in the comments!!~😄✨📚

Thoughts on March’s YA Book News? + Do you have a favorite piece of YA Book News from the month? 📚💻📰✨

Literary Listens: Podcast Recommendations Based On YA Books

literary-listens-podcast-recommendations-based-on-ya-booksSo happy to bring you today’s blog post, I had so much fun making it!

Literary Listens is the working title for this new series I’m planning on doing which will feature podcasts + books!

To start off, I’ll mostly be recommending books/podcasts based on different topics, but I’m hoping to expand this series beyond just that and integrate discussions on storytelling between the two and so much more!

I’m excited for where this feature will be going and would love to hear your feedback! 

Now on to today’s post 😄✨🎙📚

I’ve been wanting to talk more about podcasts on the blog and was unsure of what kind of post to make, then I got the idea of recommending/pairing some ~AMAZING~ podcasts with Young Adult Books!

✨🎙 *Podcasts featured are On-Going Audio Dramas*

the diviners1.If you’ve read: The Diviners by Libba Bray

Or are planning to read: Caraval by Stephanie Garber (Coming Jan. 2017)

Listen To: Audio Dime Museum 

Why: History comes alive! Both The Diviners + Audio Dime Museum are magical/captivating and have the perfect amount of mystery and suspense! 

From the excerpt I’ve read, both  Caraval + Audio Dime Museum have gorgeous writing that transports you and makes the magic, mysteries, and oddities of their worlds come alive!

audio-dime-museumSummary: From the Just A Story team, comes a weekly, serialized experimental storytelling podcast which explores historical legends through the artifacts on display in the Audio Dime Museum. Part guided tour, part radio drama; each episode presents the curious story of one object from the collection. Meet your guide on this journey, The Curator, and learn her secrets as you delve into the world of possibility, magic and the unknown. Merging the suspenseful style of mystery with the conventions of ghost stories and the peculiarity that only historical fact can provide, this podcast is not for the faint of heart.

the-raven-boys2. If you’ve read: The Raven Boys (Or The Raven Cycle) by Maggie Stiefvater

Listen To: Return Home (created by Jeff Heimbuch)

Why: Both have central themes of mystery + the supernatural with peculiar happenings in their respective towns.

return-home-podcastSummary: Return Home is the story of Jonathan Barker, who returns to his home of Melancholy Falls, NJ, after five years away. An unknown entity beckons him back East, in order to unravel the mystery of what his home town has become…or has always been. Reunited with his best friend, Buddy, Jonathan must discover the secrets of Melancholy Falls, and why he was told to return home.

vicious-ve-schwab3.If You’ve Read: Vicious by V.E. Schwab (Categorized as Adult but does have YA/Crossover Appeal)

Listen To: The Bright Sessions (created by Lauren Shippen)

Why: Both not only heavily feature people with superpowers/abilities, but show the shades of gray that come with it + the lines between good and evil!

the-bright-sessionsSummary: Dr. Bright provides therapy for the strange and unusual; their sessions have been recorded for research purposes. The show documents these patients’ struggles and discoveries as well as the motivations of their mysterious therapist, Dr. Bright. 

From characters with anxiety to different sexualities, The Bright Sessions has a lot of great+diverse representation! Highly recommend it!

If you’ve listened to any of the podcasts mentioned or have recommendations definitely leave a comment! 🙂

June 2016 Book Releases I’m Looking Forward To!

Here are the June Releases I’m Looking Forward To!

You Know Me Well June 7
Publisher: St. Martins Griffin June 7

1.You Know Me Well by David Levithan + Nina Lacour

ARC Review To Come (Currently Reading)

Summary: Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other — and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

American Girls June 7
Publisher: Flatiron Books June 7

2.American Girls by Alison Umminger

Summary: She was looking for a place to land.
Anna is a fifteen-year-old girl slouching toward adulthood, and she’s had it with her life at home. So Anna “borrows” her stepmom’s credit card an runs away to Los Angeles, where her half-sister takes her in. But LA isn’t quite the glamorous escape Anna had imagined.

As Anna spends her days on TV and movie sets, she engrosses herself in a project researching the murderous Manson girls—and although the violence in her own life isn’t the kind that leaves physical scars, she begins to notice the parallels between herself and the lost girls of LA, and of America, past and present.

In Anna’s singular voice, we glimpse not only a picture of life on the B-list in LA, but also a clear-eyed reflection on being young, vulnerable, lost, and female in America—in short, on the B-list of life. Alison Umminger writes about girls, sex, violence, and which people society deems worthy of caring about, which ones it doesn’t, in a way not often seen in YA fiction.

 

 

How It Ends
Publisher: HMH BYR June 7

3.How It Ends by Catherine Lo

Summary: There are two sides to every story.

It’s friends-at-first-sight for Jessie and Annie, proving the old adage that opposites attract. Shy, anxious Jessie would give anything to have Annie’s beauty and confidence. And Annie thinks Jessie has the perfect life, with her close-knit family and killer grades. They’re BFFs…until suddenly they’re not.

Told through alternating points of view, How It Ends is a wildly fast but deeply moving read about a friendship in crisis. Set against a tumultuous sophomore year of bullying, boys and backstabbing, the novel shows what can happen when friends choose assumptions and fear over each other.

Never Ever June 21
Publisher: Viking BYR June 21

4.Never Ever by Sara Saedi

Summary: When Wylie encounters Phinn—confident, mature, and devastatingly handsome—at a party the night before her brother goes to juvie, she can’t believe how fast she falls for him. And that’s before he shows her how to fly.

Soon Wylie and her brothers find themselves whisked away to a mysterious tropical island off the coast of New York City where nobody ages beyond seventeen and life is a constant party. Wylie’s in heaven: now her brother won’t go to jail and she can escape her over-scheduled life with all its woes and responsibilities—permanently.

But the deeper Wylie falls for Phinn, the more she begins to discover has been kept from her and her brothers. Somebody on the island has been lying to her, but the truth can’t stay hidden forever.

Mirror In The Sky June 21
Publisher: Razorbill June 21

5.Mirror In The Sky by Aditi Khorana

Summary: For Tara Krishnan, navigating Brierly, the academically rigorous prep school she attends on scholarship, feels overwhelming and impossible. Her junior year begins in the wake of a startling discovery: A message from an alternate Earth, light years away, is intercepted by NASA. This means that on another planet, there is another version of Tara, a Tara who could be living better, burning brighter, because of tiny differences in her choices.

The world lights up with the knowledge of Terra Nova, the mirror planet, and Tara’s life on Earth begins to change. At first, small shifts happen, like attention from Nick Osterman, the most popular guy at Brierly, and her mother playing hooky from work to watch the news all day. But eventually those small shifts swell, the discovery of Terra Nova like a black hole, bending all the light around it.

As a new era of scientific history dawns and Tara’s life at Brierly continues its orbit, only one thing is clear: Nothing on Earth–or for Tara–will ever be the same again.