January 2018 Wrap-Up

Can’t believe the first month of 2018 is already over! Today I’ll be sharing my first Monthly Wrap-Up of 2018~ 

# Of Books Read: 9

Anchors & Vacancies by Kat Savage1.Anchors & Vacancies by Kat Savage

Owned | Read/Finished on January 1 | Rating: ★★★★☆ |Anchors & Vacancies Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Now pretty much a yearly tradition for me, I try to start off the new year by reading a poetry book, for 2018 I decided to read Anchors & Vacancies by Kat Savage!

This book contains 45 poems centering around the journey of a love lost and how that loss can impact a person when its difficult to let go.

This quote really stuck with me throughout the entire book:

“There’s a certain kind of ache in the chambers of my heart…”

While I really understood the complex emotions + journey Savage portrayed in the collection, on a personal level (aside from a few) many didn’t really connect with me (hence the 4 stars). However, I loved her writing-style and plan to read more of her poetry in the future.

The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes2. The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes

Library | Started December 23 + Finished on January 4 | Rating: ★★★★☆ |The Arsonist Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Told through 3 unique POV’s, The Arsonist brilliantly weaves coming-of-age, historical fiction, & Mystery/Thriller all in one! This novel follows Molly Mavity + Ibrahim, aka, “Pepper” Al-Yussef who’s paths cross when a mysterious letter brings them together to solve the mystery of Ava Dreyman, who was a resistance fighter during the time of the Berlin Wall. The friendship between Pepper + Molly was so beautifully written and you really see how lonely they feel, but the bond of their friendship reminds them that they aren’t alone & I loved that! There’s so much complexity + mystery that really makes this book surprising. I suppose my only issue was that compared to Oakes debut The Sacred Lies Of Minnow Bly (Which I loved), the writing for The Arsonist felt rather flat and certain aspects from side-character development to setting description, etc. fell a bit short. Aside from that, The Arsonist is a compelling story that weaves in so many differing genres/themes that I highly recommend it if your looking for a unique read!

Beneath The Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire3.Beneath The Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #3)

ARC | Started January 7 + Finished on January 8 | Rating: ★★★★☆ ½ |Beneath The Sugar Sky Full ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: Beneath The Sugar Sky was easily my favorite book of the Wayward Children series so far! The descriptive and whimsical writing really showed McGuire’s growth as an author with this series. When Rini finds herself Eleanor West’s Home For Wayward Children characters, both new & returning, join Rini on her quest to the peculiar world of Confection, to bring back an old friend. Kade & Christopher are easily my favorite characters of the entire series & not only did this book remind me of that, but their banter + friendship easily made this book one of my favorites! Filled with adventure, a dynamic + diverse cast of characters, magic & mystery, Beneath The Sugar Sky is a fantastic continuation to the Wayward Children Series!

A Taxonomy Of Love by Rachael Allen4.A Taxonomy Of Love by Rachael Allen

ARC | Started January 5 + Finished on January 13 | Rating: ★★★☆☆ ½ |A Taxonomy Of Love ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: The unique format & expansive timeline, made A Taxonomy Of Love a pretty unique YA Contemporary. We follow Spencer from 13-19 as he navigates life + his friendship with his new neighbor Hope Birdsong. Allen really developed the main character Spencer, while bringing so much progression & growth to his character that you can really see by the end of the novel. Throughout the story, Spencer + Hope begin to drift apart when Hope suffers an important loss in her family. Your left wondering if they’ll ever reconnect, while also seeing where their own paths are leading them. I felt however, with the constant jumps in the timeline, characters + story points had uneven development, going from extremely fast + rushed pacing to uneventful & slow moments. That made it difficult to really connect with any of the other characters, aside from a few main ones (hence the 3.5). However, Allen did a fantastic job at weaving in so many themes + developing the atmosphere of her contemporary story over such an expansive timeline!

Love Hate And Other Filters Samira Ahmed5.Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

ARC | Started January 15 + Finished on January 19 | Rating: ★★★★☆ |Love, Hate & Other Filters ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: Love, Hate & Other Filters tackles such a relevant + timely issue while also balancing heart-warming moments and chilling/honest ones too! I loved Maya so much, from her passion to follow her dreams of becoming a film director to the strength and courage she builds over the course of the novel. There was one important moment I found that pretty much put the entirety of the novel into focus and that was the importance of Maya’s camera. I found it represented not only a shield for Maya, but also thinking broadly how people tend to view each other lenses (or filters!). Throughout the novel we follow Maya Aziz and her journey to not only understand who she wants to become, but seeing her inspirational journey to follow her dreams and tackle whatever life throws her way!

Fence Issue 1 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The Mad6.Fence #1 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad + Joana Lafuente

Owned| Read/Finished On January 20 | Rating: ★★★★☆ ½Fence Issue #1 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: 16-year old Nicholas Cox has the heart, but not exactly skill, for fencing. He’s worked from the basics and is eager to win the local tournament (Connecticut Regionals). The win from this competition could earn him a spot into a top school and allow him to receive a scholarship & continue with fencing if he is serious about pursuing it. His competition is none other than  Seiji Katayama, fencing prodigy. This first issue introduces so much from Nicholas’s past to his passion for fencing & the mysterious fencing prodigy. There is so much great development, action and dialogue that will keep you hooked! Its a brilliant start to a new comic series! (Honestly, there’s tons more I discuss in my full reviews that I can’t fully explain in this wrap-up, but I HIGHLY recommend checking out Fence 💙✨🤺)

Fence Issue 2 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The Mad7.Fence #2 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad + Joana Lafuente

Owned| Read/Finished On January 20 | Rating: ★★★★☆ ½ Fence Issue #2 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Fence #2 is very much build-up to Nicholas & Seiji’s dynamic when they begin at King’s Row and introduction to new characters on the fencing team. We definitely see the stakes set for not only the team, but Nicholas too (considering we learn there are a limited # of spots for the main team + upcoming championships). Both Issue #1 & #2 introduce characters of color + trans rep. & it does hint at gay rep.! The tension really builds in this issue and similar to Issue #1, will keep you hooked!

Fence Issue 3 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The Mad8.Fence #3 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad + Joana Lafuente

Owned| Read/Finished On January 20 | Rating: ★★★★☆ ½Fence Issue #2 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Fence #3 is easily my favorite issue in the series so far! There is much more character development/background + is a very plot-driven continuation! This issue very much follows Nicholas & not only his daily campus life on King’s Row, but his determination to prove himself before his first match against a classmate. The characters from Issue #2 are getting better developed as is the gay rep. The perfect pacing, development for plotting, characters, and slight twists + turns make Issue #3, such a brilliant addition to the Fence series!

Love Sugar Magic-A Dash Of Trouble by Anna Meriano9.Love Sugar Magic: A Dash Of Trouble by Anna Meriano (W/ Cover art by Mirelle Ortega)

Library | Started January 25 + Finished January 27 | Rating:★★★★★  | Love Sugar Magic: A Dash Of Trouble Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Easily one of the best middle-grade novels I have ever read! Themes of family and friendship, alongside a delightful writing that delivers a sweet and magical tale, Love Sugar Magic was a truly unforgettable read! The story follows Leo Logroño and she comes from a family of bakers, they run the Amor y Azúcar Panadería. She’s always felt left out of the family business + feels her mother + sisters are hiding something, so a day before the Día de los Muertos festival, she sneaks her way into the bakery to see what really goes on (she soon discovers she comes from a family of brujas, who use their powers within the bakery + their treats). Now that her oldest sister Isabel knows, Leo begins to use the powers within her & experiments with the special family recipe book. However as Leo begins to lie about using her abilities to the rest of her family, she soon gets into trouble & must make very important decisions. The magic system is one of my favorite aspects about this novel, it really builds and you see how unique it is for each member of Leo’s family. The plot is perfectly developed, the writing is beautiful, the characters are spectacular, & so much more!! Such a fantastic novel, I highly recommend it!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Latinx YA Book Releases To Add To Your TBR {2018}

What Books Did You Read This Month? 😄✨📚

You may have noticed, I never posted one for December. Well, that was mainly because of vacation, but also because as the months passed nearing the end of 2017 when making my monthly wrap-ups, I noticed that I began to lose my enjoyment for making/posting them because I felt like I had to (being a pretty common post in the book-community). While I do enjoy them I felt it was time to change up the review format a bit to add more to make a bit more personal (adding the format of the book + when I started/finished). And I think doing that really brought back my enjoyment for them~

So similar to this one, I may be trying out this new format for the upcoming monthly wrap-ups, but again I’m really liking how this one turned out! 😄✨📚📚💻~ But, feel free to let me know what you think of the new format in the comments!

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Love Sugar Magic: A Dash Of Trouble by Anna Meriano Review

Love Sugar Magic-A Dash Of Trouble by Anna MerianoLove Sugar Magic: A Dash Of Trouble by Anna Meriano (W/ Cover art by Mirelle Ortega)

Publisher: Walden Pond Press

Release Date: January 2, 2018

Pages: 320

Summary:Leonora Logroño’s family owns the most beloved bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, spending their days conjuring delicious cookies and cakes for any occasion. And no occasion is more important than the annual Dia de los Muertos festival.

Leo hopes that this might be the year that she gets to help prepare for the big celebration—but, once again, she is told she’s too young. Sneaking out of school and down to the bakery, she discovers that her mother, aunt, and four older sisters have in fact been keeping a big secret: they’re brujas—witches of Mexican ancestry—who pour a little bit of sweet magic into everything that they bake.

Leo knows that she has magical ability as well and is more determined than ever to join the family business—even if she can’t let her mama and hermanas know about it yet.

And when her best friend, Caroline, has a problem that needs solving, Leo has the perfect opportunity to try out her craft. It’s just one little spell, after all…what could possibly go wrong?

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: Love Sugar Magic is a delightful and magical novel that follows Leo as she discovers the mysteries and magic within her family + their beloved bakery. There’s baking, delicious treats, themes of family, friendship & identity as Leo uncovers the magic that has been kept secret!

Love Sugar Magic was my 1st full 5-star read of 2018! Its a truly magical and unforgettable novel & easily one of the best middle-grade novels I’ve ever read! ❤

Leonora (or Leo) Logroño comes from a family of bakers. For generations, the women in her family (great-abuela, abuela, aunt, mother & now sisters) have gotten into the business of running the Amor y Azúcar Panadería.

With the bakery being the most beloved in their town of Rose Hill, Texas, Leo has dreamed of the day she will finally be able to help out, especially with the Día de los Muertos festival happening in town the next day. With her 4 older sisters: Marisol, Isabel & the twins Alma & Belén, always asked to help with the baking each year, Leo figures that’s all about to change.

She’s always felt left out of the family business with her sisters + mother always saying she isn’t old enough. However, not being able to take part in such an important family tradition leaves her feeling not only upset, sad + confused, but also suspicious as to what her family is keeping from her.

After discussing with her best friend, Caroline Cambell, on the way to school, she conjures a plan to sneak her way into the bakery to see what her family may be hiding from her.

Finally inside the bakery, she hides from her family and sees a special initiation. Unsure of what it could mean, she believes its best to go back to the source (the bakery) & find more clues.

Isabel, her oldest sister, soon discovers Leo snooping around in one of the offices & finds a special recipe book, it gets revealed that all the women in her family are brujas.

Not long after this bonding moment with Isabel, Leo decides to try out the magic for herself and that’s where the trouble begins.

Now Leo’s other sisters soon figure out about her powers, but as Leo continues to lie about her experimentation with magic, she finds herself getting into some pretty sticky situations. They lies and & trouble she gets into build, until she accepts she has important choices to make and be honest with herself + her family.

Meriano delivers such depth in this novel from the development to the characters, magic system, and themes of family, family legacy, friendship, and discovering who you are.

I found myself in love with each and every aspect of Love Sugar Magic. Being Latina myself, I connected w/ the Mexican-American Rep., traditions of Día de los Muertos, the recipes of the panaderia, and so much more! Regardless of age, there was just countless elements to this middle-grade novel that I easily connected to and it made feel at home.

The magic system was easily one of my favorite aspects of this novel. Introduced to Leo through her older sister Isabel, we learn not only the basis of how it applies to the bakery, but also just how complex it really is. Not only through the importance of being specific with spells, but how unique + different it is for each member of the family (even to how it applies specifically to Leo as the 5th sister!). The depth to this system was so brilliantly done & I loved how Meriano expanded on it from the beginning to the very end.

The theme and importance of family is such a huge part of this novel and you can sense it with each page, from the family traditions of the bakery, Leo’s dynamics with her sisters, to how Leo’s actions + decisions with her magic are done because of her family.

I adored this book so much & am so happy that other Latinx readers will be able to connect to this novel just as much as I did! I laughed, smiled, cried, and felt so connected to Leo & her journey not only to feel closer to her family,  but also to see her learn on her own and understand that when moments get to difficult, its important to remember that your family will always be their to guide you.

Love Sugar Magic: A Dash Of Trouble is a enchanting and beautifully written middle-grade novel! Throughout the novel Mariano weaves in spells, family, and friendship. Leo’s growth and journey delivers a special kind of magic itself that readers will easily connect with. Delightful, sweet, and magical, Meriano’s novel is a must read!

The City Of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty Review

The City Of Brass by S.A. ChakrabortyThe City Of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty (The Daevabad Trilogy #1)

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Release Date: November 14, 2017

Pages: 528

Summary: Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass? A city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for . . .

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The City Of Brass is an enchanting and immersive fantasy debut! We follow Nahri as she embarks to the City Of Brass and learns more about who she is! There’s politics, intrigue, vivid world-building, and a richly plotted tale that will take you on a grand adventure!

Set in 18th century Cairo, The City Of Brass follows Nahri, a thief who uses her tricks as a con artist, abilities to speak a number of languages (even ones where she is unaware of their origins) and her ability to sense ailments or sickness in people, just to get by.

When she gets called to heal a young girl by the name of Baseema, whose been possessed by a djinn, or more specifically an ifrit, she soon finds herself being attacked by ifrit and ghouls, until Dara, an ancient djinn warrior comes to her rescue!

He helps her flee and tells her that she’s being followed and it won’t stop until she’s safe in Daevabad, the legendary City Of Brass.

She’s never believed in magic, regardless of the tales she hears, but that all changes when she embarks on her grand adventure!

While on their way to The City Of Brass, Nahri learns more about her origins as both she & Dara learn more about each other and of the magic + history of Daevabad.

What really surprised me about this novel aside from the intricate plot, was the dual POV! I was not expecting it and it really brought depth to the overall story and you can’t help but fall in love with both of our narrators, Nahri & Ali.

We have Nahri, the main character to who finds herself leaving her home in Cairo behind to reach the City Of Brass and Alizayd al Qahtani, a prince of Daevabad who lives within the City Of Brass.

Additionally, a few prevalent themes I found in this novel was identity and acceptance. As Nahri learns more about her origins, we see her coming to accept this new identity and past she never knew she had. Yet, we also see how she struggles to understand who she is as she finds herself forcing to adapt to this new identity in the City Of Brass.

As for Ali, he knows he will always have his fascination for the human world and not be the outgoing or forceful ruler as his brother Muntadhir, but accepts that he is well aware he wants to bring change to his city and will do what he can.

Throughout the story, we also learn more about Ali’s family, like his brother, sister, and father, and the stark differences that make Ali feel like he doesn’t belong and the change he hopes to bring to Daevabad if he is to ever become ruler.

I also really loved how Chakraborty built Narhi and Ali’s development when they slowly start to build a friendship, how alike they really are and how they find where they belong in their world.

I loved following both of them on their own individual journeys and seeing how their stories intertwine as the story progresses.

While both Nahri & Ali are equally fascinating & compelling characters, I couldn’t help but really love Ali!! He’s smart, shy, and underestimated at points throughout, but just wants to do whats right for the city and his people.

I really find stories surrounding djinn to be so fascinating and this novel really builds a rich history into this 19 century setting, from the culture of the djinn, differing tribes, to Suleiman & his seal. Additionally, what also drew me to this book aside from intriguing summary, was the mention that it was perfect for fans of The Golem And The Jinni (one of my all-time favorite books 💕)

While this novel is more fast-paced, I definitely found that elements of this novel really reminded me of The Golem And The Jinni and can see why they were compared!

I’ve always been hesitant with 3rd person POV, but Chakraborty easily weaves in both Nahri and Prince Ali’s POV’s beautifully as they build both the setting and history of the world, not only of 19th century Cairo, but of Davebad too!

Through the writing-style you really get a wide scope of not only the world, but the characters too and can’t help but connect with them as you learn more about their past and their own agendas.

The characters and mystery of the plot were just some of the many aspects that I adored about The City Of Brass so much! ❤ ❤

The overall world and atmosphere of the story is immersive and magical. The City Of Brass was one of those novels, for me, that really took me on an adventure and just immersed me into such a complex and dazzling world!

I’m also a big fan of politics woven throughout fantasy tales, and this novel really makes it such an integral part of the story (especially through Ali’s POV). From the inner workings of the palace as Ali tries to keep his own secrets hidden, to the politics that surround the differing djinn as they live in Davebad.

The plot is rich and there’s so much depth to it, once you reach the last page, you just have to know more!

My only issue was that the plot did start to get slow-paced at some points throughout and was hoping for some more depth to Dara and the writing at points to expand on certain aspects of the plot.

The City Of Brass is a richly woven tale with politics, fascinating world-building, and a stellar cast of characters! You’ll find yourself turning the page as you become enchanted with the mysterious and immersive city of Davebad!

This is not a debut to miss!

Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga Review

Here We Are Now by Jasmine WargaHere We Are Now by Jasmine Warga

Publisher: Balzer+Bray

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Pages: 304

Summary:Despite sending him letters ever since she was thirteen, Taliah Abdallat never thought she’d ever really meet Julian Oliver. But one day, while her mother is out of the country, the famed rock star from Staring Into the Abyss shows up on her doorstep. This makes sense – kinda – because Julian Oliver is Taliah’s father, even though her mother would never admit it to her.

Julian asks if Taliah if she will drop everything and go with him to his hometown of Oak Falls, Indiana, to meet his father – her grandfather – who is nearing the end of his life. Taliah, torn between betraying her mother’s trust and meeting the family she has never known, goes.

With her best friend Harlow by her side, Taliah embarks on a three-day journey to find out everything about her ‘father’ and her family. But Julian isn’t the father Taliah always hoped for, and revelations about her mother’s past are seriously shaking her foundation. Through all these new experiences, Taliah will have to find new ways to be true to herself, honoring her past and her future.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Here We Are Now is a moving YA Contemporary that follows Taliah when she meets her rock-star father for the first time, connects with him and his family, and learns more about her parents past! Plot, writing, characters, and themes all come together to deliver an unforgettable tale of family, love, and new beginnings!

I read Warga’s debut novel My Heart And Other Black Holes & just loved everything about it, from the characters to the writing and was definitely excited to pick up her next book the moment I heard it was announced!

With each page, I just continued to fall in love with this book! From the wonderfully written characters to the mystery that unfolds surrounding the past of Tal’s parents to the importance and power of music that weaves its way into the characters and strong theme of family that is such an important part of this story.

Tal has always had her suspicions growing up that her father may be rock-star Julian Oliver, though her mother usually avoided the topic. When he shows up on her doorstep one day to explain to her that his father is gravely sick. and may be passing away soon, she knows its a lot to take in.

But she knows its her only chance, so she takes the opportunity with her mother out of town on business in Paris, to reconnect with her father and figure out how Julian and her mother Lena met and exactly what happened between them that caused them to split up.

Though her friend Harlow is hesitant at first, she’s convinced to tag along and join Tal on her adventure.

Now she’s in Oak Falls, Indiana meeting Julian’s family, from his mother to the cousins, aunts, and boy next door Toby.

I loved how character-driven this book was! It was beautiful reading how Tal grew close to the father that she had always thought of meeting one day, how music shaped her father’s life and how it inspires her too (with her dream to become a song-writer too).

This novel is also driven by the important theme of family. Not only through learning more about her parents past and getting to know her father better, but through Tal connecting with her father’s family and just reading how happy they are to get to finally meet her. Family is such a huge part of this story that you sense it with each page.

Also told through Lena’s past, we better understand by Tal’s mother grew to avoid talking about Julian and how their relationship shaped her and how it really connects with Tal as she learns more about her family.

The intricacy of the plot and storytelling was done so perfectly and really allows you to solve the mystery of Tal’s parents past as it unfolds for her with each and every chapter!

While the pacing was slow at some points, I felt it really allowed me to immerse myself into the story and really understand the amazing characters.

This is also an OwnVoices story as Tal’s mother is Arab-American! It was also great to read such diversity in this novel with Harlow’s f/f relationship with Quinn that’s mentioned, and Tal who is biracial (1/2 white and 1/2 Jordanian).

The theme of friendship is also makes its way into this story as we learn that Tal feels her friendship with Harlow is slowly fading as she spends more time with her girlfriend Quinn & her band. Tal and Harlow used to be so close, writing and preforming songs with each other or just hanging out. She feels their friendship is slowly fading and you really understand how Tal feels when Harlow later decides to leave join Quinn back home and tell Tal that she shouldn’t only rely on her. I felt bad for Tal, but she takes charge and decides to let Harlow’s tough words inspire her to connect with her family.

Similar to My Heart And Other Black Holes, Warga also explores mental health as Tal overcomes her anxieties and opens herself up to better knowing her father, his family, and having more confidence in herself (and her music).

I loved the writing so much, following Tal’s POV! Not only with the themes of family, music, and love that weave their way into the depths of this story, but also through Warga’s beautiful and subtle writing that brings so many aspects from themes to the characters of Here We Are Now, to life.

While I just adored this book with each and every page, I can’t really explain why but Tal’s friend Harlow was just not really my favorite character 😂 She was pretty pushy at times with getting Julian to open up more and just wasn’t a supportive friend when she decided to leave Tal. I just felt the overall story felt odd with her there, if that makes sense? 😂😂

Here We Are Now beautifully explores the strength and fragility of family, love and how it changes over time. With themes of family, music, love, character-driven storytelling, and an intricate but moving plot, Warga’s latest YA Contemporary is not one to miss!

This Is How It Happened by Paula Stokes ARC Review

This Is How It Happened by Paula StokesThis Is How It Happened by Paula Stokes

Publisher: Harper Teen

Release Date: July 11, 2017

Pages: 384

Summary: Somehow I’ve become a liar. A coward. Here’s how it happened. 

When Genevieve Grace wakes up from a coma, she can’t remember the car crash that injured her and killed her boyfriend Dallas, a YouTube star who had just released his first album. Genevieve knows she was there, and that there was another driver, a man named Brad Freeman, who everyone assumes is guilty. But as she slowly pieces together the night of the accident, Genevieve is hit with a sickening sense of dread—that maybe she had something to do with what happened.

As the internet rages against Brad Freeman, condemning him in a brutal trial by social media, Genevieve escapes to her father’s house, where she can hide from reporters and spend the summer volunteering in beautiful Zion National Park. But she quickly realizes that she can’t run away from the accident, or the terrible aftermath of it all.

*Received ARC through author’s giveaway* 

My Rating:★★★★☆ 

My Thoughts: This Is How It Happened follows Genevieve Larsen as she comes to terms with her boyfriend’s death after they were both involved in a fatal car crash. 

The first novel I’d ever read by Paula Stokes was Girl Against The Universe and I loved it so much! When I heard about This Is How It Ends, I had to put it on my TBR right away! Luckily, I was able to get an ARC from Paula through a giveaway (tysm ❤).

Being a new up and coming singer, Dallas Kade gathered quite a fan base + a new record deal. His sudden death is mourned by people from across the country (especially as seen through social media).

Similar to Stokes other novel, she discusses and explores mental health. Incorporating, especially in this novel, the impacts that trauma and stress can have on a person, while also discussing in a couple scenes throughout the novel, the importance of therapy.

Stokes always manages to incorporate important discussions on mental health and keeps it as a steady theme throughout the book!

Additionally the impact of social media was another huge factor of this novel and is weaved into the story so well! It’s now such a huge part of how we take in news, etc. and Stokes really made it an important factor of the story, while also making it so relatable!

The characters were all written with such depth! All the characters introduced felt so real and throughout the novel, really come to life through Gen’s POV.

The first person POV really allows us to understand how this event has impacted Gen mentally and emotionally. Stokes use of first person really gives the reader an inside look into Gen’s internal struggles and how she copes with this loss.

As for plot, it does have its slow moments, but above all is about Gen finding the strength to explain what happened the night of Dallas’s death and find the strength in herself to move on and accept!

She decides to spend time with her dad in Utah to allow time for the news to simmer down, and over the course of the novel connects more with her father + Rachel (his new wife).

It was great to read about her reconnect with her father and connect more to Rachel, who was very supportive while Gen stayed to visit.

Above all her time spent in Utah is used to understand what she wants, how she can accept what has happened to Dallas and the realize the effects it has on Brad (the man accused of causing his death). I really enjoyed reading about being immersed in the setting in Zion + Utah!

Living with her mother, Gen has grown up to stay focused on a dream towards medical school. Her mother is very strict and over the course of the novel, Gen understands that she also fears talking about what happened because of her parent’s (mainly mother’s) expectations.

I loved how Stokes made Gen’s parents such an integral part of the story (not only through plot, but also seen through Gen’s POV). While Gen has fears about confronting them to talk about what happened, she comes to accept and learn along the way that she’s surrounded by parents who will stand by her no matter what.

I will admit, some moments were slow paced + I did find the relationship that develops to feel a little rushed.

However….

This YA Contemporary tackles grief and loss as we follow Genevieve’s journey to accept her boyfriend’s death and find the inner strength within herself. With themes of family, acceptance, and friendship, Stokes novel also brings to light discussions of mental health and the impact of social media! Filled with mystery, important themes of loss and acceptance, This Is How It Ends is a novel to check out!

June 2017 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 7

Internet Famous by Danika Stone1. Internet Famous by Danika Stone

Internet Famous Full ARC Review

Publisher: Swoon Reads

Release Date: June 6, 2017

Pages: 320

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: Internet Famous is a YA Contemporary that discusses more than just blogging & fandoms. While also weaving in themes of family and independence, this novel also brings up more serious topics like cyberbullying! When conflict arises as her mother leaves town, Madi finds a way to balance her personal life and blogging, while connecting more to her family.

I Am More Than A Daydream by Jennae Cecelia2. I Am More Than A Daydream by Jennae Cecelia

I Am More Than A Daydream Full Review

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Release Date: April 15, 2017

Pages: 74

My Rating:★★★★★

Overall Thoughts: Another amazing collection of poetry from Cecelia! Similar to Uncaged Wallflower, her poems are filled with inspiration and positivity. However this collection mainly focuses on the inner strength we have to follow our dreams. Highly recommend checking out her poetry!

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie3.The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie (TASU #1)

The Abyss Surrounds Us Full Review

Publisher: Flux Books

Release Date: February 8, 2016

Pages: 320

My Rating:★★★☆☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: A character-driven YA Sci-Fi set in a fascinating/futuristic US! Cas Leung is a Reckoner trainer and finds herself among pirates when she gets captured and is forced to train a young Reckoner to work alongside pirates! I loved the diversity (Chinese-American protag. + f/f relationship) and there was a large cast of female characters, which was awesome. I just personally wanted more plot-wise. However, I adore the world & characters and am excited to see what happens in book 2!

The Tiger's Daughter by K Arsenault Rivera4.The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera (Their Bright Ascendancy #1)

ARC Review To Come Closer To Release Date

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: October 3, 2017

Pages: 512

My Rating:★★★★★

Overall Thoughts: This book was phenomenal! Arsenault’s adult fantasy debut is a spectacularly written tale centering around divine empress Shizuka and warrior Shefali, and the powerful bond/relationship that they share! The world is rich and immersive, the characters are all written with such depth, and the writing is utterly beautiful! The Tiger’s Daughter had me hooked from page 1!

Keep your eye out for this novel, it is not one to miss! Cannot wait to share my full review 😍

our-dark-duet-victoria-schwab-cover-reveal5. Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab (Monsters Of Verity #2)

Our Dark Duet Full Review

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Release Date: June 13, 2017

Pages: 510

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: Our Dark Duet was a character-driven and action-packed conclusion to the Monsters Of Verity duology! As with book 1, Schwab’s writing delivers a dark and immersive atmosphere and we see new sides to Kate and August! While there were some elements that did keep this book from being 5-stars, it was a solid conclusion and it was great following Kate & August on their adventures in Verity. 

Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia6. Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Eliza And Her Monsters Full Review

Publisher: Harpercollins

Release Date: May 30, 2017

Pages: 400

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: There were so many layers to this book, with discussions on internet culture, fandom/fan fiction, depression and social anxiety! I flew through it and adored it. Eliza is the popular web comic creator of Monstrous Seas and one day she meets Wallace, a popular fanfiction writer of her comic! I loved reading how their relationship developed over the course of the story. The plot was unique and engrossing + the characters were all wonderfully written. I did feel the plot rushed in some places, but aside from that Eliza & Her Monsters was a great YA Contemporary! 

All Systems Red by Martha Wells7.All Systems Red by Martha Wells (The Murderbot Diaries #1)

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: May 2, 2017

Pages: 160

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Originally this was going to be a 4, but the more I read, the more I loved it! 

A fascinating science fiction/speculative fiction short story! Told from the (both serious & comedic) point of view from an AI, we follow a group of scientists and a “Sec-Unit” as they run tests on a distant planet. Following the AI, we learn how it came to be a part of its group and along the way, how it becomes more connected to its team + what its willing to risk to keep them safe. All the characters from the scientists in the AI’s group to the AI itself, even the unique world, were all given such depth in quite a short story. There’s a second book set to be released and I cannot wait to read it!

(B/C I was on vacation I didn’t put up a full review for it, but I will definitely try to put one up on the blog soon!)

Additional Posts From This Month:

Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones Cover Reveal 

Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia Review

Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca ZappiaEliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Publisher: Harpercollins

Release Date: May 30, 2017

Pages: 400

Summary: Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Discussing social anxiety, depression, fandom/fanfiction, and internet culture, Eliza & Her Monsters is a thought-provoking and engrossing YA Contemporary that will captivate you from page 1!

I adored this book + I practically flew through it!

Through first person POV, we follow Eliza as she goes through her final year in high school while also being a popular web comic artist of Monstrous Seas!

Having anxiety myself, I felt Zappia’s discussion and portrayal of it through Eliza was well represented! Throughout the course of the novel, she explains her struggles with connecting with her classmates and in general being more social was so relatable and reading from her POV, really made me connect to her even more! + It was great to see the discussion/inclusion of therapy as well.

I went into Zappia’s novel with high expectations because I adored her debut novel Made You Up and Eliza blew me away!

Comparing her web comic to blogging, I could definitely relate to her when she discussed the interaction in the community and having online friends! Additionally, reading about the work she puts into her comic and how it becomes a part of who she is, was another aspect that I could see in myself when it comes to Book blogging and writing!

When Eliza discovers a new classmate (Wallace) writing Monstrous Seas fanfiction, she begins to see how her work impacts and is beloved by people even in her own town! While she did have her fears of explaining to Wallace (among others) of being the creator, I could definitely see where she was coming from!

I’ve been working on a few story ideas and reading about her anxieties + fears of explaining the work to others was also something I could totally relate to! She’s always felt invisible and like she doesn’t belong, however through her online comic she finds a community and people who she can connect with. It was great to see the discussion on the importance of online communities and friends!

Over the course of the novel, she develops a friendship and relationship with Wallace and I felt it was so well done! It was never rushed and really took time to develop + I loved seeing their bond grow over Monstrous Seas.

However, troubles arise when her identity gets discovered and it took the novel in a more serious direction as we see how it impacts Eliza’s mental health and her passion to continue her story.

I loved how Zappia really took the time to show the different sides of Eliza’s work and as mentioned above, the line between creator and fan, internet privacy and above all the impact of social media on arts/works online! It brought in so many different discussions throughout and it brought even more depth to the story.

+*~ I loved the Final Fantasy references 😍😉✨

Additionally, Zappia’s writing in general really gives the story a heartwarming feel to it, while balancing the more serious moments!

This novel also discusses the barrier and obstacles that come with Eliza being a creator and having fans/dedicated readers that follow her comic.

It really takes time to also discuss family as we see how Eliza’s dedication to her comic makes her realize and understand more about her brothers and parents + how the internet can sometimes take away from moments that go on in daily life when we don’t notice! That was another aspect of this novel that really resonated with me and really made me think!

The first person POV really allows you to get into Eliza’s head and really understand/connect with her. Additionally through her POV, all the characters felt real and developed!

I did feel at points, the plot itself felt rather rushed in some places, mainly towards the end and in some places it could have been expanded on just a little bit more! Mainly with Eliza & Wallace’s relationship, I wanted a little more development as I reached the end!

Eliza and Her Monsters is fantastic YA Contemporary that weaves in themes of family and friendship, while discussing important topics such as anxiety. Throughout the novel, Zappia also discusses the multiple sides that come with online communities and artists/creators. Perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, this novel will capture your heart!