Seven Deadly Shadows by Courtney Alameda & Valynne E. Maetani Review

Seven Deadly Shadows by Courtney Alameda and Valynne E. MaetaniSeven Deadly Shadows by Courtney Alameda and Valynne E. Maetani

Publisher: Harper Collins (Harper Teen / Quill Tree Books)

Release Date: January 28, 2020

Pages: 384

Available Through The Book Depository: Seven Deadly Shadows

Cover Design: Sam Webber (artist), Erin Fitzsimmons (designer)

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Kira Fujikawa has never had it easy. She’s bullied by the popular girls in school. Her family ignores her. And she’s also plagued with a secret: She can see yokai, the ghosts and demons that haunt the streets of Japan. But things accelerate from bad to worse when she learns that Shuten-doji, the demon king, will rise at the next blood moon to hunt down an ancient relic and bring the world to a catastrophic end.

Not exactly skilled at fighting anything, much less the dead, Kira enlists the aid of seven powerful death gods to help her slay Shuten-doji. They include Shiro, a kitsune with boy-band looks who is more flirtatious than helpful, and O-bei, a regal demon courtesan with covert reasons of her own for getting involved.

As the confrontation with Shuten-doji draws nearer by the day, the fate of Japan hangs in the balance. Can Kira save humankind? Or will the demon king succeed in bringing eternal darkness upon the world?

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Seven Deadly Shadows is a character-driven contemporary fantasy that follows Kira, whose on a quest to save her family’s shrine and possibly the world, by finding 7 death gods and reconstructing an ancient sword to fight a demon king! Featuring Shinto and Japanese culture, this unique book is filled with action, adventure, and a compelling story making it a must read!

Its a fact that amazing books can get swept under the radar and I think Seven Deadly Shadows is one of them. I mean, who wouldn’t want to read about a priestess in training joined by her half-kitsune best friend embarking on a journey to recruit death gods to defeat a demon lord and save the world?

Out of all her family members, Kira is the one who feels the most dedicated to look after the Shinto shrine alongside her grandfather and best friend Shiro. Her family also has the ability to see demon monsters or spirits called yokai.

Kira’s most at home whenever she’s at the shrine, learning about the glamours or tradition with her grandfather, and vows to carry on the legacy her other brother Ichigo and parents ignore (with only her little sister Ami showing the slightest bit of interest). However, one day the shrine is attacked and her beloved grandfather is murdered.

After learning the shrine is rumored to carry the pieces of a legendary sword bestowed by the sun goddess Amaterasu, she’s left with no other option but to prepare for a looming battle with a demon lord, set on bringing chaos to the world.

She travels with Shiro across Kyoto and Tokyo, to enlist the help of shinigami to aid in her quest, while also trying to keep up with her school work at the prestigious Kōgakkan high school! The way this novel handled Kira’s dual world was phenomenally done!

There’s so much depth to her journey as she views and tries to balance these 2 parts of her life, the everyday and the supernatural. The magic of this world seamlessly blends in with the reality and day-to-day of Japan.

This is such a great standalone because, you get such a solid grasp as to who the characters are and their stories. The dynamics between the characters are all interesting and compelling, overall what makes them great is how their personalities are elevated through Kira’s pov. For example, the brother dynamics between Shiro and Ronin, or Kira and Ichigo all have this unresolved/unsaid conflict that show the rift between family. Even Lady Katayama (O-bei) whose Shiro’s adopted mother, is such a powerful force on the page, yet still retains an air of mystery as Kira’s trying to continue her quest.

However, the friendship (and possible romance) between Shiro and Kira was one of my favorites too, because no matter what he’s there to offer her help and join her in any way that he can (even tagging along at her school). There’s this undeniable trust between them and Shiro continuously supports Kira in her cause. There’s always a sweet and supportive moment of them together on the page.

As for the plot, while its a bit slow its always surprising. Kira is traveling to real life locations (parks, cities) even spirit worlds, to seek out Shinigami who are hidden by glamour. I also don’t know much about Torii gates, but I fee like it represented this shift from our world to the sacred (shrine), supernatural settings and I appreciated how they were woven into the story.

You see Kira’s internal struggle as she feels out of place in our real world and yet is still trying to find her footing in the world of the yokai and shinigami. Its heartbreaking, because she has to navigate this world without her grandfather, who she loved so much and who also supported/helped her in the journey to become a priestess. Its very much a personal journey and one she’s willing to take risks for! However, she finds support through Shiro, Oni-chan, and the shinigami who allow her to better understand this world she feels the most at home to.

The build-up of those last few chapters are some of my favorite and enjoyed seeing how it all came together. Learning how Amaterasu’s sword, the spirits, and Kira’s own personal journey all wove to create an epic conclusion always offered something new to explore throughout the story and I loved that.

Alameda and Maetani’s writing styles flowed perfectly together and I would be thrilled to read more YA books co-authored by them in the future. Also, what makes it even more amazing is that its co-written two female authors of color, Latine/Latina and #ownvoices Japanese writers! According to the Author’s Note, they did travel to Japan and did a lot of research, which you can tell through the writing! While it does feel like there’s some moments of repetition and cliche metaphors, overall the writing was so good. Its descriptive and you could sense the magic flowing throughout the world! This atmospheric urban fantasy, creates such vivid pictures in your mind about the setting, weather, that you feel transported to Japan. Perhaps its just me, but there’s also the sense of a chilling, horror woven in which makes the atmosphere of the book even more unique!

There’s lots of beautiful descriptions and imagery that I felt rooted in the world from page 1. The atmosphere of the Fujikawa shrine evokes a deep sense of connection to its lore and history that bring not only that, but so many other elements of the world to life.

Shadows was as brilliant as it was in my opinion, due to its 1st person perspective. You’re given this look into Kira’s journey to become more confident and gain that inner strength. She’s ready to take all the risks and defend her family’s shrine, whether it means traveling to spirit worlds, unlocking family mysteries, facing yokai, or just trying to keep up with her classes! There’s a conflict she feels being stuck between 2 worlds and whether its the themes, character dynamics, or gravity to her mission, Kira as a character is authentic, you feel grounded and connected to her story because of how she comes to life.

Important themes your presented with throughout the book are loyalty, honor, and family. When Kira’s grandfather is killed, she carries on his work at the shrine, because she showed her how important it was. Her goal then is to not only honor him, but preserve his legacy by saving the world. Their bond was incredibly strong and you see how it motivates her to take action. In contrast, you see how there’s a strain on her relationship with her family who are focused on their reputation and image, that they really don’t understand Kira’s dedication to the shrine.

My only issue which made my rating a 4 was that because we know a final battle is coming, the pacing can feel rather slow. Being almost a little over 350 pages, we know what the end goal is so it can feel like the shinigami quest takes its time to progress. There’s lots of traveling, training, and preparation, while its lots of fun, you can see the pacing suffers at times.

Also, personally there’s a character thread I wasn’t particularly a fan of, which was for Kiku (a shinigami/ogre). *Spoilers ahead, but he shows up early on to talk to Kira and Shiro about the sword, then disappears only to show up at the end, which is where we get all this backstory. I just felt his story was kind of unnecessary and out of place with all the other shinigami and everything else that was already going on, in my opinion.

Overall though, when the book finally wrapped up I was sad because I felt so connected to Kira and her world. I wouldn’t mind more future books with her at the shrine! This is a book that is filled with so much depth and love, its fallen under the radar and more people NEED to read it!

Seven Deadly Shadows is a quiet, underrated standalone novel that will leave you wanting more! Driven by its dynamic cast, and compelling story, Kira’s tale is one of honor, growth, and finding one’s own path! The atmospheric world, writing, and immersive plot through its exploration of Japanese culture, makes Alameda and Maetani’s urban fantasy a must-read!

Today’s review will also feature a fellow book blogger shout-out! 📚🎉

I recommend Amanda from MetalPhantasmRead’s Review!It’s no surprise I adored Kira and her journey, so if your looking for a review that gives you all those little details about it, Amanda’s review one to check out! ✨

*Also, this month I’m celebrating 5 years on the blog and have a Q&A Tweet if anyone would like to ask any bookish, blogging, or other fun questions?? OR feel free to leave them here on this review!! 🥳📚🎉

York: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby Review

York The Shadow Cipher by Laura RubyYork: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby (York #1)

Publisher: Walden Pond Press

Release Date: May 16, 2017

Pages: 476

Available Through The Book Depository: York: The Shadow Cipher

Summary: It was 1798 when the Morningstarr twins arrived in New York with a vision for a magnificent city: towering skyscrapers, dazzling machines, and winding train lines, all running on technology no one had ever seen before. Fifty-seven years later, the enigmatic architects disappeared, leaving behind for the people of New York the Old York Cipher—a puzzle laid into the shining city they constructed, at the end of which was promised a treasure beyond all imagining. By the present day, however, the puzzle has never been solved, and the greatest mystery of the modern world is little more than a tourist attraction.

Tess and Theo Biedermann and their friend Jaime Cruz live in a Morningstarr apartment house—until a real estate developer announces that the city has agreed to sell him the five remaining Morningstarr buildings. Their likely destruction means the end of a dream long-held by the people of New York. And if Tess, Theo and Jaime want to save their home, they have to prove that the Old York Cipher is real. Which means they have to solve it.

*Received book 1 of this series as part of an upcoming Blog Tour* 

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The Shadow Cipher is an immersive and clever middle-grade novel that melds fantasy, steampunk, & history set in an alternate modern-day New York! When they’re soon to be evicted from their apartment, the famous Moringstarr tower, Tess Biedermann, Theo Biederman & Jamie Cruz try solve the famous Old York Cipher to save their home before its too late! Ruby’s novel is a captivating tale filled with mystery, adventure, and clever puzzles!

York: The Shadow Cipher is a book that had been on my TBR for years–I’d actually started it a couple years back, but sadly hadn’t gotten around to finishing it. But, now that I’m going to be reviewing the sequel for an upcoming blog tour, I’m so glad I was given another chance to return to it!

If you didn’t know, Laura Ruby also wrote a wonderful YA magical realism book back in I think 2015 (?) called Bone Gap (which was one of my favorite books back in 2015–I highly recommend it!!). As I read York: The Shadow Cipher, I realized something about Ruby’s books:

Her tales deliver such unique reading experiences for me personally, that I can only get from the first read-through! The atmosphere, characters, and immersive quality of her stories/writing is what draws me in with each page and allows me to connect with the plot and her unique cast of characters!

Twins Tess & Theo get tangled up in a centuries-old cipher so with the help of their classmate/neighbor Jamie, they attempt to solve the riddles and save their home! The clues lead them back to uncovering the answers to the impossible cipher hidden within their apartment–The Morningstarr Tower and the city of New York.

What really kept me surprised was the ciphers/puzzles throughout the book. There’s riddles that lead the crew to different places across New York, but are also focused on history. I never really knew where the journey was headed next, but that kept me reading because I just loved being surprised at where the next piece in this puzzle was coming from.

The Shadow Cipher is told through various POVs (3 mainly), but they all had distinct voices and the writing flowed well all throughout the book! The writing-style was descriptive, unique, but also incredibly fun to read.

Although there’s an overarching story here, I loved that there were many underlying themes that journeyed across the novel as well. From family, friendship, & having a place of belonging to name a few, were just some of the wonderful themes explored in this book!

I loved that each of these were tackled through different characters from Theo, Jamie, to Tess.

I found tat the adventurous atmosphere of the story really allowed me to picture everything from the setting to the inventions, and plot itself so vividly and overall, it really came to life on the page–it was incredibly cinematic!

The characters are all so well developed and though there are some who we never really meet or pass in & out of the story, I found that they all felt incredibly real and I could picture them throughout the book.

Its hard to say which character was my favorite, because I enjoyed them all in different ways, but I have to say Jamie Cruz was one of my favorites! I loved how his adoration of comics and superheroes really added another layer of depth to his story and how he viewed the world! His POVs were definitely my favorites! He was almost always looking towards the positives and was just a really uplifting character to read from–he also had a hobby of sketching/drawing which he used to draw out certain locations or parts of the cipher along the way, which was fun to read about.

The Shadow Cipher is also an incredibly character-driven story! Tess, Theo & Jamie all have their own personal journeys and its great they each had their own time away from the main story at points, just so us as readers could get to know them more as characters! overall just really felt developed as characters and I found they really grew little by little over the course of the book.

The alternate New York was fun to explore also because of the unique inventions! I loved how Ruby really built these unique inventions from the Mornigstarrs into the cipher/puzzles in ways I wasn’t really expecting, but found fun all the same. There’s just so much creativity to this world that although its based on a real place, there was just that spark that made New York feel like a completely different world.

The plot was just really unexpected and overall I enjoyed being invested in the Cipher just as much as Theo, Tess & Jamie! There were some plot twists and secrets that I didn’t see coming, but overall the story left me curious as to where the plot is headed in the sequel.

I did rate it 4 stars because although this book was such a fun read, I did feel the pacing was a bit slow at points and the pacing seemed to vary throughout the story as well. The ending itself also just also left me feeling like I needed a little something more. Overall though, I loved the main cast, the humor, and thought-provoking ciphers and I can’t wait to see what happens as the series continues!

York: The Shadow Cipher is the first book in what sets up to be a great middle-grade series with clues, puzzles, and mysteries to solve that weave together in a unique way! The great cast of characters, clever puzzles, and fascinating world are all explored through such an immersive and dynamic atmosphere! The ending will leave you interested in seeing whats next for Tess, Theo, & Jamie in the sequel!

The Tiger At Midnight by Swati Teerdhala {Reading Playlist}

The Tiger At Midnight by Swati TeerdhalaHey, 24hr.YABookBlog here (~˘▾˘)~ 💞✨📚 Today I’m sharing a playlist to celebrate the release of Swati Teerdhala’s debut: The Tiger At Midnight!

The Tiger At Midnight is an epic YA Fantasy that follows a rebel assassin/spy and soldier whose paths cross! This leads to a cat-and-mouse chase, where along the way they both learn more about their world and themselves!

If your looking forward to The Tiger At Midnight, lets discuss in the comments below!

Today’s playlist features songs from Kingdom Hearts 3 & Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days!

• Mount Olympus Field Theme • Mount Olympus Battle Theme • Go For It! • Olympus Coliseum •

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’d know by now that with every playlist, I’ve always got to find a way to include Kingdom Hearts!! 😂💖

Share your thoughts on the playlist in the comments below! 🎧✨💞

If your currently reading or planning to read The Tiger At Midnight–I’d love to hear your thoughts on this playlist! 🐯✨🎧⚔

+ Today at Books Of Wonder in NYC, Swati will be celebrating the release of The Tiger At Midnight w/ upcoming debut author Kat Cho (Wicked Fox) at Books Of Wonder!

The Tiger At Midnight by Swati Teerdhala ARC Review

The Tiger At Midnight by Swati TeerdhalaThe Tiger At Midnight by Swati Teerdhala (TTAM #1)

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: April 23, 2019

Pages: 496

Available Through The Book Depository: The Tiger At Midnight

Summary: Esha is a legend, but no one knows. It’s only in the shadows that she moonlights as the Viper, the rebels’ highly skilled assassin. She’s devoted her life to avenging what she lost in the royal coup, and now she’s been tasked with her most important mission to date: taking down the ruthless General Hotha.

Kunal has been a soldier since childhood, training morning and night to uphold the power of King Vardaan. His uncle, the general, has ensured that Kunal never strays from the path—even as a part of Kunal longs to join the outside world, which has been growing only more volatile.

Then Esha’s and Kunal’s paths cross—and an unimaginable chain of events unfolds. Both the Viper and the soldier think they’re calling the shots, but they’re not the only players moving the pieces. As the bonds that hold their land in order break down and the sins of the past meet the promise of a new future, both rebel and soldier must make unforgivable choices.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The Tiger At Midnight is a complex, character-driven YA Fantasy debut that you don’t want to miss! While exploring themes of loyalty and identity, Teerdhala’s start to this trilogy reads like an epic tale with romance, politics, mythology, and intrigue! 

Its true that there are so many great books that go under the radar, but please don’t let this book be one of them! The Tiger At Midnight is a debut I highly recommend adding to your TBR if you haven’t already–from the Indian history and Hindu mythology that lay the foundation of the world-building, to our main characters Kunal and Esha who are on opposing sides, but find themselves unlocking the mysteries about their world through each other–this book is one that YA Fantasy readers need to check out!

I actually had the opportunity to interview Swati for Tiger which you can check out here–and she mentioned that one of her biggest inspirations came from her love of history and mythology! From the world-building of Dharka and Jansa which are both on the same mass of land to the descriptions of the mountain ranges, jungles, and desert, Teerdhala’s descriptions allow the setting to unfold like an epic and you can sense that throughout the story!

The plot gets very interesting when Esha is sent on a mission which also involves enacting her revenge on the feared General Hotha (Kunal’s uncle) and seeking out more information! She lost her family in a Jansan coup and wants to avenge not only those she lost, but the Dharkan’s + her rebel group the Crescent Blades.

She’s shocked to learn that someone has already killed the general and set her up as the culprit with a replica of her infamous whip. Now, she’s on the run to figure out who would want to frame her and why & make it back to her rebel group to figure out what the next move is.

Then there’s Kunal, who’s been trained by his uncle as a soldier of the Fort and plans on one day becoming commander. However, when he hears the news of the general’s death he’s not entirely sure how to process what’s happened, but he also has an idea of who may have been involved–Esha! He had met her early on in the story and suspected with her mysterious appearance she may have something to do with it.

Before anyone (Kunal included) can link her to the death of the general or piece together she’s the Viper, she’s on the run to get back to the rebel base. However, Kunal and other fellow soldiers are given the task of finding the Viper and the first person to do-so, will be automatically promoted to commander.

To honor his uncle, Kunal takes charge and follows his suspicion of Esha’s involvement. This leads to their cat-and-mouse chase as Esha continuously maneuvers her way to freedom! However, along the way Esha and Kunal find themselves falling for each other.

Now, Kunal is worried what will happen to Esha if he does take her back as a prisoner. This leads to one of my favorite themes explored throughout the entirety of the novel: Identity!

Both Kunal and Esha have become who they are now due to events of their past and within The Tiger At Midnight they are constantly brought into situations that makes them question if their goals really are theirs to begin with and whether they truly understand themselves anymore.

Kunal is one of the characters who I found to have really struggled with this idea of identity. For most of his life he’s been trained by his uncle to be a promising soldier, but with that he’s been extremely sheltered from the outside world. Along the way as he learns who Esha really is, he begins questioning why he’s even sacrificing his life to become commander. *While I don’t want to give too much away, there are moments in his past that get revealed and he essentially is given a new identity and finds himself on the verge of danger if anyone was to find out. I found that to be one of the most fascinating twists to this story that I wasn’t expecting at all!

Teerdhala explores the foundation of identity, how our past can shape it, and the aspects of our lives that can allow us to shape it into something different. Through both Esha and Kunal we see this brought into view with each new chapter!

They both feel almost indebted to their pasts in a way, where their still figuring out what it is they personally want to fight for. Both Esha & Kunal have also done things in their life they aren’t proud of, but it made them who they are and I found that’s summed up perfectly by this quote:

“Never greet a tiger at midnight, for they are the manifestations of your past misdeeds.”

I really loved the cast of characters, they were all very well developed and I found them to all have their depth to them no matter how few moments we encountered them in the story! From Kunal’s soldier friends like Alok & Laksh to Esha’s rebel friends we learn more about like Prince Harun & Arpiya! All these characters were just introduced in this first book, but felt so incredibly real/developed and I can’t wait to see where their journeys are headed in book 2!

The female friendship between Esha & Arpiya was lovely & I’m really looking forward to reading more about their wonderful friendship.

I also have some theories about Prince Harun (who is defintiely hiding something–though I’m not sure what!!) and I can’t wait to see where his development goes as he is a dear friend to Esha, fighting for the throne, and a rebel leader!

The world was also such fun to explore throughout The Tiger At Midnight–we learn more about the jansa bond between Dharka and Jansa, even how it plays into a very important underlying element of the world. There’s a lot of secrets that get uncovered as to why this bond is vital and I’m looking forward to seeing how its explored further in book 2 (which also involves a secret royal!!).

The Tiger At Midnight is told through 3rd Person POV while alternating between Kunal and Esha’s perspectives. I found that to be such a great way to tell the story because we not only get these differing perspectives from 2 fantastic main characters, but also learn more about the world from characters on opposing sides!

Now I’m going to discuss why I personally rated this 4 stars! For me, I usually struggle with 3rd person because I find I get more immersed into a world through the characters head. So, I did find that the world was a little underdeveloped in terms of not necessarily description, but atmosphere and getting the full picture of this setting, various locations, etc.

There are also some plot threads (though I really enjoyed them b/c they surprised me), that could have used a little more development. I’m going to be a bit vague here bc spoilers, but I would have loved for surprising plot twists to have been expanded on just a little more in my opinion!

But overall this was such a fun debut and I can’t wait to see where the story is headed in the sequel–I love Esha & Kunal together so much and I’m incredibly excited to see where their journey takes them next!

The Tiger At Midnight is such a whirlwind adventure with intrigue, a bit of rebellion, romance, magic, and an immersive world that captures you from the very beginning! From the complex and great cast of characters, surprising story that’ll keep you turning the page, and fascinating world inspired by Indian history and Hindu myths, I definitely recommend this YA Fantasy debut if your a fan of An Ember In The Ashes!

Author Interview With Swati Teerdhala {The Tiger At Midnight}

Swati_Headshot_SmallThe Tiger At Midnight is an upcoming YA Fantasy from debut author Swati Teerdhala that follows a cat-and-mouse chase between a soldier & rebel assassin! With the book releasing next week, I have Swati as a guest on the blog to talk more about Tiger! 😄🎉📚

The Tiger At Midnight is the first book in a trilogy, set to be released April 23, 2019!

Q1: For those who haven’t heard of The Tiger At Midnight can you tell us what it’s all about?

Swati: Of course! THE TIGER AT MIDNIGHT is the first book in a young adult trilogy inspired by ancient Indian history and Hindu mythology. It follows the story of Kunal, a dutiful soldier, and Esha, a legendary rebel spy. When their paths cross one night and Esha is accused of the murder of Kunal’s General, a dangerous cat and mouse game starts between them, one which throws everything they’ve known into question.

Q2: How did you come up with the idea for The Tiger At Midnight & has your original idea stayed the same? If not, what has changed?

Swati:I first got the idea for The Tiger at Midnight when I was traveling and visiting an old Fort. It was the first spark of an idea of what would become The Tiger at Midnight and the first time I heard the voice of Kunal, one of the two main characters. I looked out from one of the old window openings and wondered what would be the most odd or startling thing a soldier of old might have seen. A girl. And that’s the opening page of THE TIGER AT MIDNIGHT.

That initial image and my two main characters, Kunal and Esha, have stayed the same, but so much else has changed! Or not changed, but deepened. I always knew this story was going to be about two people on opposing sides of a conflict and how they find their way to reconciling their loyalties and their burgeoning relationship. And that hasn’t changed.

Q3: What books inspire you as a writer? Or any other writing inspirations?

Swati:I’ve always loved mythology and history, since I was a child, and they’re both huge inspirations to me as a writer. As for books, I loved everything Tamora Pierce wrote as a kid and started to read a lot of adult fantasy at a young age–everything from Mercedes Lackey to Jacqueline Carey and Terry Brooks.

The Tiger At Midnight by Swati TeerdhalaQ4: What is it you’re most excited for readers to see in The Tiger At Midnight?

Swati: I wanted to write a story that celebrated my Indian heritage and tackled the issue of finding your own path, even when there’s familial or community pressure, something that I think is really common for second-generation immigrant kids in America. That’s a huge part of what both Kunal and Esha deal with during this book—their duty to themselves vs. others. Esha and Kunal both struggle with this idea in very different ways. I hope that readers are able to read this book and understand that better.

Q5: The Tiger At Midnight also draws inspiration from ancient Indian History & Hindu Mythology! What elements did you find yourself most drawn to while creating your world?

Swati: I always loved the epic battles and delicate political maneuverings in both Hindu mythology and ancient Indian history and I incorporated a lot of those elements into the larger story for the trilogy (and for The Tiger at Midnight!). I also drew from specific stories I grew up with, like how the river Ganga was brought down to the earth, to craft the lore and magic of the world.

Q6: Between the two main characters Esha & Kunal, what part of their journeys did you enjoy writing the most & why?

Swati: I loved it all! But if I had to pick one part, it would be the discoveries they make about each other and how it affects how they view the world and their lives.

Q7: With your book releasing very soon (in about 1 week) how are you feeling as a YA Debut author? (Must be incredibly exciting!)

I’m so excited! It’s funny, on average, a book releases about 2 years after the deal is done, so I’ve been sitting on this news and this book for awhile! It’s definitely scary to have it be out in the world, but I’m so excited to share this story and I really hope people love Kunal and Esha.

Q8: Is there a particular quote from The Tiger At Midnight you enjoyed writing & why?

Swati: “Never greet a tiger at midnight, for they are the manifestations of your past misdeeds.”

This line is the basis for a lot of the story between Kunal and Esha and the relationship between them and it hints at the larger, magical world around them that they’re trying to save. It kind of came to me and I knew instantly how important it would be to the book.

Q9: What element of your world within The Tiger At Midnight did you enjoy developing the most?

Swati: I’m a huge history nerd so I really enjoyed creating the history of the world, a lot of which is revealed more throughout the rest of the trilogy.

Q10: Which character are you most excited for readers to meet in The Tiger At Midnight?

Swati: Ah, can I cheat? I can’t wait for everyone to meet Kunal and Esha! No way I’d be able to pick one or the other 😆

Lightning Round Qs.

1.Favorite YA Book? An Ember In The Ashes

2.Current read? Descendant Of The Crane by Joan He

3.Last YA Book that kept you turning the page? Girls Of Paper And Fire by Natasha Ngan 

4.Most anticipated 2019 YA Release? So many! Spin The Dawn by Elizabeth Lim, Wicked Fox by Kat Cho, and There Will Be A Darkness by Katy Pool!

5.Favorite shows and songs your enjoying right now? Game Of Thrones (season 8!!) and i’m so tired… by Troye Sivan & Lauv (there’s something about this song that makes me literally unable to stop listening to it)

6. Go-to writing snack or drink? Tea

7. Can you describe your book in 3 words? Honor. Revenge. Love

8.Favorite YA Character? Nina Zenik

9.If characters from TTAM could meet any other YA characters who would they be & why? I think Kunal and Elias Veturius would have a lot to talk and brood about. As for Esha, she’d probably kill to meet Zoya Nazyalensky (literally haha).

10. When writing TTAM how did you picture it? (As a Movie, Tv Show, etc.) A TV miniseries

The Tiger At Midnight is available to add on Goodreads:

The Tiger at Midnight (The Tiger at Midnight Trilogy, #1)


And you can pre-order TTAM (library requests as well!) to receive Preorder goodies, more info on the bookish swag you can receive
Here! There’s also a book trailer for The Tiger At Midnight!

Thanks again to Swati for this wonderful interview!

Are you looking forward to The Tiger At Midnight? ✨🏹🐅

We Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia ARC Review

We Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay MejiaWe Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia (WSTDOF #1)

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: February 26, 2019

Pages: 384

Available Through The Book Depository: We Set The Dark On Fire

Summary: At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children. Both paths promise a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class.

Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her pedigree is a lie. She must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society.

And school couldn’t prepare her for the difficult choices she must make after graduation, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio.

Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or will she give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love? 

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: We Set The Dark On Fire is not a debut to miss! Mixing together Fantasy with Dystopia, Tehlor Kay Mejia delivers a wonderfully explored plot, commentary on a variety of themes relevant today, and a great cast of characters! We Set The Dark On Fire is a book you need on to add to your TBR if it you haven’t already!

Mejia’s debut is one I’d been looking forward to for 2 years, ever since I’d heard about the books announcement! It mean’t so much to me as a Latinx YA reader anticipating this intriguing fantasy debut that would also discuss many timely and complex issues from immigration, privilege, resistance, etc. and just knowing a new Latinx YA Fantasy was on the horizon!

We Set The Dark On Fire is set on the island nation of Medio. However, this fictional setting is filled with parallels to our world that Tehlor explores alongside deeply explored social commentary!

Daniela Vargas is getting ready to graduate from the Medio School For Girls and has studied for years to become a Primera, the first wife to a husband. In this world, Medio’s School prepares women to be one of two wives by graduation, the Primera or Seguanda.

What really set the stage for the entire book for me was the introduction which shared the story of the Salt & Sun gods and how their story built the society of Medio into what it is today and introduced us to the complex world.

Primeras and Seguandas complement each other and in turn, must work in harmony. I loved exploring all the parallels and contrasts to each role throughout the novel and how through Dani’s journey we see how this legend of the gods was taking a different turn in the present day of Medio.

Dani grew up on the outer islands of Medio (Polvo) where they aren’t treated well and knows all too well that the husband she’s with can change her & her family’s life for the better. Which is why she has to keep her past a secret to avoid suspicion and do what she can to prove herself in this world.

She quickly gets herself tangled up in becoming a spy for resistance group, La Voz, whose goal is to change the poor treatment of those on the outer islands. She quickly meets Sota, resistance group member! He’s clever and very mysterious! Sota pressures Dani into joining so she can find intel on her soon-to-be husband Mateo. With her position, he tells her that they can use the info she finds to change Medio for the better. But if she doesn’t, the secrets of her past may no longer be as well kept as she thought.

Dani was such a complex and wonderful main character I loved following throughout this book! Knowing what those in outer-Medio go through she feels obligated to help, but knowing she’s risking her entire life that she’s built to create for herself, she’s conflicted. The inner conflict she undergoes was so well developed and brought many fascinating questions to the surface when it comes to helping those who can’t help themselves, whether one person can really make change, whether we should feel responsible for others who can’t fight for themselves, etc.

We Set The Dark On Fire is a book that just leaves you inspired by the messages woven throughout the entire story.

When Dani finds herself in the house of Mateo Garcia, son to a prominent politician, she’s caught in the politics, intrigue, and mystery of the Garcias. So, as she presents herself as the prefect Primera, she’s also a spy with doubts as to who she can trust and whether she can even trust herself.

With Dani’s training as a Primera she uses her skills to keep up a variety of roles to continue finding out more secrets. What I loved was that although there are characters you shouldn’t find yourself loving, Tehlor really developed them all in a way where I could really understand them & their motivations. From Mateo, Jose, the Garcia’s, Sota, Alex, and many more!

Though as Dani continues to spy for La Voz, she begins to question whether she can keep up this charade when a classmate from her past gets involved. She’s trying to avoid the questioning glances from Mateo’s father’s Primera+Segunda, Mateo , and the mysterious Carmen.

Mateo is secretive, mysterious, cold, but he was definitely a very interesting character to learn about. Dani wants to prove her skills as a Primera, but Mateo prefers she stay on the side. As Dani defies him we see his true nature appear throughout the novel.

His privilege is something that isn’t ignored by Mejia throughout this book and it was deeply explored and commented on a lot in We Set The Dark On Fire.

What I found to be such an inspiring element to this novel was seeing how Dani, Carmen, & the other Primeras/Segundas although are seen to be the power behind their husbands, they essentially are the ones that have all the power.

Their strength lies among different paths, but WSTDOF showed that the strength we have is not so easily seen and that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Strength can be hidden in a variety of ways, but we must remember its always there.

Surprisingly, Dani’s Segunda is none other than Carmen Santos, her former friend when she first got the Medio’s School. Ever since they drifted apart, Carmen finds any opportunity she can to taunt Dani about where she grew up. But now that both are Mateo’s wives, we see their dynamic begin to change.

Dani and Carmen soon break their rivalry into an unlikely friendship and relationship! The steady development between them, seeing them both change, all while also acknowledging their past together was so well explored and I loved reading them form this relationship.

We Set The Dark On Fire brilliantly weaves together messages of resistance, discussion/commentary on immigration and privilege, all while binding it together with this underlying theme of hope and inspiration for change.

The story had so many twists, turns, intrigue, themes of family, and resistance that made this book such a fascinating fantasy/dystopia novel.

Also it just made me so happy to read a Latinx YA Fantasy! Being an aspiring YA Fantasy and Latinx writer, allowed me to really take in & appreciate all the elements I could relate to so much.

From the messages/theme of family, characters, food descriptions, atmosphere, etc. honestly made reading this book so incredibly special and I’m hoping other Latinx readers felt the same way too!

My only minor critique was that because the 3rd person writing was very character and theme-driven, I did find I wanted more from the writing to build the setting and world of Medio.

Overall though, Mejia’s debut is a fantastic YA debut that delivers so many important messages and commentary done in a way I’ve never read before!

We Set The Dark On Fire weaves together fantasy and dystopia in a brilliant way! This YA debut brilliantly explores complex themes and contemporary topics, is filled with intrigue, politics, and is a tale of resistance! We Set The Dark On Fire is filled with a great cast of characters, fantastic writing, twists/turns, and a story that will leave you wondering where Dani’s journey is headed next!

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

We Set The Dark On Fire Review from Adriana over at BoricuaReads

Adriana is such a wonderful book blogger who continuously boosts upcoming Latinx books! In her review I love how she delves deep into the themes and how they are explored through the characters and setting. This was also one of her most anticipated reads too, so you can definitely see all the enthusiasm and excitement throughout her review!

Overall I love how she expands on the important topics explored in this novel and much more! If you need any more convincing to read this lovely debut, go check out Adriana’s review of We Set The Dark On Fire!

Latinx YA Book Releases For Your 2019 TBR! {Winter + Early Spring}

Latinx YA Book Recommendations BannerHey, 24hr.YABookBlog here (~˘▾˘)~ 💞✨📚 I’m thrilled to be sharing a list of upcoming Latinx YA Books releasing this year!

As an aspiring Latinx YA Fantasy writer, it just means so much to me to see so many fantastic debuts, sophomore novels, etc. from Latinx YA authors! I’m beyond excited to read them all!

To start off this Latinx TBR List, I’ll be creating seasonal posts throughout 2019! This first list features Latinx books releasing from winter through early spring!

There’s so many amazing YA Books from Latinx authors that I’ve just been waiting to get my hands on and finally read!

As with all my previous lists, I’ll be splitting them up by category/genre and be aware that some dates may change!

Contemporary

Black Enough edited by Ibi Zoboi1.Black Enough: Stories  Of Being Young & Black In America edited by Ibi Zoboi; Including Tracey Baptiste, Coe Booth, Dhonielle Clayton, Brandy Colbert, Jay Coles, Lamar Giles, Leah Henderson, Justina Ireland, Varian Johnson, Kekla Magoon, Tochi Onyebuchi, Jason Reynolds, Nic Stone, Liara Tamani, Renée Watson, & Rita Williams-Garcia
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (EpicReads)
Release Date: January 8, 2019
Summary: Edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi, and featuring some of the most acclaimed bestselling Black authors writing for teens today—Black Enough is an essential collection of captivating stories about what it’s like to be young and Black in America.

Black is…sisters navigating their relationship at summer camp in Portland, Oregon, as written by Renée Watson.

Black is…three friends walking back from the community pool talking about nothing and everything, in a story by Jason Reynolds.

Black is…Nic Stone’s high-class beauty dating a boy her momma would never approve of.

Black is…two girls kissing in Justina Ireland’s story set in Maryland.

Black is urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more—because there are countless ways to be Black enough.

Throw by Rubén Degollado2. Throw by Rubén Degollado
Publisher:
Slant
Release Date: February 1, 2019
Summary: “Llorona was no harmless little pigeon. She was the lechuza, the owl you see just before someone is about to die, the one that haunts you in your dreams and you never want to see in real life because it means you are about to lose someone you love.”

Llorona is the only girl Güero has ever loved. A wounded soul, she has adopted the name of a ghost from Mexican folklore. True to her namesake, Llorona cast Güero away with the coldness of the apparition she has become. But Güero—though he would never admit it to his friends—still wants to get back together with her.

Güero spends time with his friends Ángel and Smiley—members of the HCP (Hispanics Causing Panic) gang—roaming the streets of the South Texas border towns they inhabit, trying to forget Llorona even as she seems to appear around every corner.

Over three days Güero’s increasingly violent confrontations with Llorona’s current boyfriend will jeopardize the lives of Ángel and Smiley and the love he hopes to regain.

As events begin to accelerate toward their conclusion—and gang signs are thrown as both threats and claims of identity—the question arises: will Güero throw the HCP sign, or will he throw off that life? Güero’s life will be irrevocably changed by violence and loss, but who will he lose, and will he—somewhere along the way—lose himself?

Barley Missing Everything by Matt Mendez3.Barley Missing Everything by Matt Mendez
Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Summary: Juan has plans. He’s going to get out of El Paso, Texas, on a basketball scholarship and make something of himself—or at least find something better than his mom Fabi’s cruddy apartment, her string of loser boyfriends, and a dead dad. Basketball is going to be his ticket out, his ticket up. He just needs to make it happen.

His best friend JD has plans, too. He’s going to be a filmmaker one day, like Quinten Tarantino or Guillermo del Toro (NOT Steven Spielberg). He’s got a camera and he’s got passion—what else could he need?

Fabi doesn’t have a plan anymore. When you get pregnant at sixteen and have been stuck bartending to make ends meet for the past seventeen years, you realize plans don’t always pan out, and that there some things you just can’t plan for…

Like Juan’s run-in with the police, like a sprained ankle, and a tanking math grade that will likely ruin his chance at a scholarship. Like JD causing the implosion of his family. Like letters from a man named Mando on death row. Like finding out this man could be the father your mother said was dead.

Soon Juan and JD are embarking on a Thelma and Louise­–like road trip to visit Mando. Juan will finally meet his dad, JD has a perfect subject for his documentary, and Fabi is desperate to stop them. But, as we already know, there are some things you just can’t plan for…

The Universal Laws Of Marco by Carmen Rodrigues4.The Universal Laws Of Marco by Carmen Rodrigues
Publisher:
Simon Pulse
Release Date:
March 19, 2019
Summary: Told through the lens of a guy in love with the cosmos (and maybe two girls), The Universal Laws of Marco explores the complicated histories that bring us together and tear us apart.

In the summer before eighth grade, Marco Suarez kissed his best friend Sally Blake. This was his first spark.

And since then, whenever he’s thought about that moment, he’s traveled through a wormhole—of sorts—to relive those brief seconds when time sped up (or, rather, his view of time distorted) and he kissed her.

And then, at the end of that year, she disappeared, leaving in that way that people sometimes leave—alive and well and somewhere out there but gone, nonetheless. She never even said why.

And now in their senior year, Sally unexpectedly returns and Marco is shaken. Still, he holds tightly to his carefully choreographed life. A life that is full of reasons why first sparks don’t matter:

Reason 1: He has a girlfriend. Her name is Erika Richards.
Reason 2: He’s leaving on a full scholarship to college.
Reason 3: He’s busy with his tribe and making money to help support his family.

But as Marco navigates the final days of high school, he learns that leaving home is never easy and a first spark is hard to ignore.

Dystopia

Dealing In Dreams by Lilliam Rivera1.Dealing In Dreams by Lilliam Rivera
Publisher:
Simon Schuster BYR
Release Date:
March 5, 2019
Summary: At night, Las Mal Criadas own these streets.

Nalah leads the fiercest all-girl crew in Mega City. That roles brings with it violent throw downs and access to the hottest boydega clubs, but the sixteen-year-old grows weary of the life. Her dream is to get off the streets and make a home in the exclusive Mega Towers, in which only a chosen few get to live. To make it to the Mega towers, Nalah must prove her loyalty to the city’s benevolent founder and cross the border in a search for a mysterious gang the Ashé Ryders. Led by a reluctant guide, Nalah battles other crews and her own doubts, but the closer she gets to her goal, the more she loses sight of everything—and everyone— she cares about.

Nalah must do the unspeakable to get what she wants—a place to call home. But is a home just where you live? Or who you choose to protect?

Fantasy

We Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia1.We Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia (We Set The Dark On Fire #1)
ARC Review To Come
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date:
February 26, 2019
Summary: In this daring and romantic fantasy debut, society wife-in-training Dani has a great awakening after being recruited by rebel spies and falling for her biggest rival.

At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children. Both paths promise a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class.

Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her pedigree is a lie. She must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society.

And school couldn’t prepare her for the difficult choices she must make after graduation, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio.

Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or will she give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?

Science Fiction

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl1.The Last 8 by Laura Pohl (The Last 8 #1)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: 
March 1, 2019
Summary: Clover Martinez has always been a survivor, which is the only reason she isn’t among the dead when aliens invade and destroy Earth as she knows it.

When Clover hears an inexplicable radio message, she’s shocked to learn there are other survivors—and that they’re all at the former Area 51. When she arrives, she’s greeted by a band of misfits who call themselves The Last Teenagers on Earth.

Only they aren’t the ragtag group of heroes Clover was expecting. The group seems more interested in hiding than fighting back, and Clover starts to wonder if she was better off alone. But then she finds a hidden spaceship, and she doesn’t know what to believe…or who to trust.

The Tesla Legacy by K.K. Perez2. The Tesla Legacy by K.K. Pérez
Publisher:
Tor Teen
Release Date:
March 12, 2019
Summary: The Tesla Legacy follows a precocious young scientist named Lucy Phelps whose fateful encounter in the Tesla Suite of the New Yorker Hotel unlocks her dormant electrical powers. As Lucy struggles to understand her new abilities through scientific experimentation, she is thrust into a centuries old battle between rival alchemical societies.

One side wants her help and the other wants her dead, but both believe she is the next step in human evolution. Unfortunately, carriers of the genetic mutation—including Nikola Tesla—have a greatly reduced life expectancy. Even if Lucy can outrun her enemies, she can’t outrun herself.

What Latinx YA Books Are You Looking Forward To This Season? 😄📚✨🎉

*I’ve also linked each book with its Book Depository page if your interested in ordering! They are affiliate links, so if you like my content and want to support me, it would mean a lot! 💞📚

January 2019 Wrap-Up

During the month of January I read 5 books! I’m really happy with this number & the books I read, because a lot of them were part of a TBR list I created for myself in my bullet journal!

Fierce Fairytales Poems And Stories To Stir Your Soul by Nikita Gill1. Fierce Fairytales: Poems And Stories To Stir Your Soul by Nikita Gill

LibraryStarted January 1 + Finished January 2My Rating:★★★★☆ Fierce Fairytales Full Review

Overall Thoughts: I’d never read any of Gill’s poetry before, but after reading this book I definitely want to check out more of her collections in the future! I loved the modern twists and inspiring messages she wove into Fierce Fairytales! Gill transforms fairy-tales/classic fairy tale elements within each piece of the collection to turn it into something wholly unique and I loved that! However, there were definitely some elements that made me take off a star: You can clearly see the message and emotion she’s trying to evoke, but with the plainness in writing, it comes off as very direct and abrupt. The pacing did drag a bit too. However, there we’re definitely some poems & stories that I adored, which I found both showed the strongest writing and imagery: Badroulbadour, Shoemaker’s Son, Rapunzel Rapunzel & Moon Dragon! 

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi2. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi (The Gilded Wolves #1)

ARC Started January 3 + Finished January 8My Rating: ★★★★★ The Gilded Wolves ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: Though 2019 has just started, I know for a fact that The Gilded Wolves is one of my all-time favorite books of the year! The dazzling setting & world-building, phenomenal characters (banter especially), plot, dialogue–I could go on & on–were fantastic!  This book was just too high quality and I’m not sure if I’ll ever recover. I adored this crew so much: Séverin, Hypnos, Enrique, Tristan, Zofia & Laila–I loved each of them so much!! Chokshi really builds their backstories, motvation, growth + vulnerability where you are left truly understanding these wonderful characters! There’s multiple heists, puzzles, a mysterious society, intrigue, and non-stop adventure! The Gilded Wolves is a masterfully crafted historical fantasy & not a book to miss! 

*Another one of my reviews for The Gilded Wolves was also featured on Bookish if you want to check it out! 

i hear the sunspot limit 1 by yuki fumino3. I Hear The Sunspot: Limit 1 by Yuki Fumino ( Sunspot #3)

OwnedStarted January 10 + Finished January 11My Rating: ★★★★☆ I Hear The Sunspot: Limit 1 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: It was great to return to the world of I Hear The Sunspot again! This is the series that got me back into manga again and I fell in love with the story and characters! Suspot centers around college students Kouhei & Taichi who become friends and fall for each other! Kouhei is hard of hearing and this series also goes into great length to discuss and explore hearing disabilities! The introduction to new side characters make the story even more interesting. Though I did find that Kouhei and Taichi’s relationship in terms of development does take a step backwards. But, I am so interested to see where Kouhei & Taichi are headed in this series! I highly recommend this manga because the story is impactful, the two main characters Taichi & Kouhei go through so much development, and there’s a lot of discussion about hearing/ hearing disability! Highly recommend this manga series, its SO underrated!

The Phoenix Empress by K. Arsenault Rivera4. The Phoenix Empress by K. Arsenault Rivera (Their Bright Ascendancy #2)

OwnedStarted December 22 + Finished January 25My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½ The Phoenix Empress Full Review

Overall Thoughts: The Phoenix Empress is a phenomenal continuation to this epic fantasy series! The Tiger’s Daughter chronicled Shizuka and Shefali’s lives starting when they were born to their unfortunate separation later in life! However, in the end they are reunited, but not for long as we see in The Phoenix Empress–Shizuka is still haunted by events in her past as a soldier during Shefali’s absence and Shefali is attempting to understand the darkness that now runs through her! The detail, insight into the characters, and further development of the world are just some of the many things I loved about this sequel! There’s a cast of dynamic and incredible female characters, expansive lore, politics, and immersive plot made The Phoenix Empress such a fantastic sequel! I can’t wait to read book 3, The Warrior Moon!

planting stories--the life of librarian and storyteller pura belpré5. Planting Stories: The Life Of Librarian And Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise + Paola Escoba

LibraryStarted January 29 + Started January 29My Rating: ★★★★★  Planting Stories Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Planting Stories is a must-read picture book that chronicles the life and legacy of storyteller, librarian, and author Pura Belpré! She uses her power of storytelling to not only spark a love of stories, but also to get more Latinx (& especially Puerto Rican folktales) in the library! The art, with its use of warm colors evokes a sense of magic in this heartwarming story! She moves to New York from Puerto Rico and becomes the 1st Puerto Rican librarian in the city. Both the writing and illustrations bring Belpré’s story to life. From the impact of Belpré’s legacy to the importance of having diversity/representation among stories, this picture book is must-read!

Additional Posts From This Month:

2018 Wrap-Up & 2019 Book Blog Goals {Bookish Goals}

January 2019 YA Books I’m Looking Forward To!

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi {Reading Diary}

Upcoming 2019 YA Book Recommendations From Book Bloggers
feat. Adriana, Jordan, Marie, & Sil

The Gilded Wolves {Reading Playlist}

YA Book-To-Movie Adaptations Releasing In 2019!

Empire Of Sand by Tasha Suri Optioned For TV! {Book Blog Discussion}

King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo {Bookish Theories}

Flyest Fables Podcast Review {Literary Listens}

~ It wasn’t until I was writing this wrap-up that I realized how many additional posts I created! If you have time, I’d love if you could give one of them a read–it would mean a lot! ❤❤ I had so much fun creating all my non-review posts this month & January left me inspired to create more! 😭✨📚

~ I also created a new banner for my wrap-ups & I really like how it turned out!

Plans For February:

~ More podcasts reviews! I listened to my first podcast of the year this month and really want to bring back my fiction podcast reviews! 🎙✨❤

~ Stay on track with my monthly bullet journal TBRs!

~ Create more non-book review posts! 😍📚✨

So that was my January TBR! Thoughts on what I read? What books did you read in January? 😍📚🎉🎉

Planting Stories: The Life Of Librarian And Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise and Paola Escobar Review

planting stories--the life of librarian and storyteller pura belpréPlanting Stories: The Life Of Librarian And Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise + Paola Escobar (Illustrator)

Publisher: Harper Collins

Release Date: January 15, 2019

Pages: 32

Available Through The Book Depository: Planting Stories

Summary: When she came to America in 1921, Pura carried the cuentos folklóricos of her Puerto Rican homeland. Finding a new home at the New York Public Library as a bilingual assistant, she turned her popular stories into libros and spread story seeds across the land. Today, these seeds have grown into a lush landscape as generations of children and cuentistas continue to share her stories and celebrate Pura’s legacy.

This portrait of the influential librarian, author, and puppeteer reminds us of the power of storytelling and the extraordinary woman who opened doors and championed bilingual literature.

My Rating: ★★★★★

My Thoughts: Planting Stories chronicles and celebrates Pura Belpré, her journey as a storyteller, bilingual librarian, and author! The illustrations are colorful, detailed, and evoke a sense of magic!

I’ve made it a priority ever since getting involved in Latinx Book Bingo last year to discover and read more Latinx books!

Planting Stories is a picture book I’d been wanting to read for quite a while and now that it finally released this month, I just had to read it before January was over!

Pura Belpré grew up in Puerto Rico as an avid storyteller and she shared the stories + folktales her abuela told her with her community! Then in 1921, she comes to America carrying those tales with her.

What started as a visit to celebrate her sister’s wedding, soon marks a new part of her life both for her and her stories when she decides to stay in New York!

Her first job is in the garment industry, but when the New York Public Library is seeking a bilingual assistant, Belpre takes hold of this opportunity and it changes her life!

When she notices the lack of Latinx stories on shelves, she uses her power of storytelling to bring those tales to the children of the library!

Belpre’s stories gather both children and families, which leads her from librarian assistant to storyteller/puppeteer, and soon–author! She publishes the folktales and other stories of Puerto Rico to allow them to reach many more readers.

Planting Stories is a magnificent picture book that reminds us of the power of storytelling and celebrates the legacy of Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City!

It was so beautiful to see Spanish woven throughout this book as well!

I adored Paola Escobar’s art and illustrations! From the warm colors, detail, to the heartwarming emotions and magic it evokes!

The symbolism of flowers and trees really bring to the center how stories grow, flourish, and celebrates the power of stories.

Her art brings so much to this wonderful story!

Denise’s writing throughout this picture book, chronicles Belpré’s life in such a beautiful way! Her writing-style is also what brings a sense of magic to this story!

Those who are looking for a book that celebrates stories, influential storytellers, and the impact of stories in a community, Planting Stories is a must read!

Planting Stories: The Life Of Librarian And Storyteller Pura Belpré is a heartwarming picture book that celebrates the legacy of an influential storyteller, librarian, and author! Detailed and vibrant illustrations bring the story to life! Woven throughout the pages are the importance of storytelling, diversity among stories, and their lasting impact!

January 2019 YA Books I’m Looking Forward To!

Its been so long since I’ve made monthly book release posts! In 2019, I really want to talk more about the upcoming books I’m excited to read!! 😍💕📚✨So, here’s my list of January releases that are on my TBR! 

January 2019

Contemporary

I Moved To Los Angeles To Work In Animation by Natalie Nourigat1.I Moved To Los Angeles To Work In Animation by Natalie Nourigat
Publisher: BOOM! Box (Boom! Studios)
Release Date:
January 1, 2019
Summary: The story of one woman’s quest to move to Los Angeles and got a job in animation…and how you can too.

When artist Tally Nourigat left her life in Portland to move to Los Angeles and pursue a job in animation, she realized that despite her research, nothing truly prepared her for the wild world that awaited in the studios of Southern California. From grinding on storyboard test after storyboard test to getting a job at a major studio to searching for an apartment in…the Valley…this autobiographical how-to graphic novel explores the highest highs and lowest lows of pursuing a dream in animation. Brushed with a dose of humor and illustrated advice about salaries, studio culture, and everything in between, I Moved to Los Angeles to Work in Animation is the unique insider experience you won’t find anywhere else.

Black Enough edited by Ibi Zoboi2.Black Enough: Stories  Of Being Young & Black In America edited by Ibi Zoboi; Including Tracey Baptiste, Coe Booth, Dhonielle Clayton, Brandy Colbert, Jay Coles, Lamar Giles, Leah Henderson, Justina Ireland, Varian Johnson, Kekla Magoon, Tochi Onyebuchi, Jason Reynolds, Nic Stone, Liara Tamani, Renée Watson, & Rita Williams-Garcia
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (EpicReads)
Release Date: January 8, 2019
Summary: Edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi, and featuring some of the most acclaimed bestselling Black authors writing for teens today—Black Enough is an essential collection of captivating stories about what it’s like to be young and Black in America.

Black is…sisters navigating their relationship at summer camp in Portland, Oregon, as written by Renée Watson.

Black is…three friends walking back from the community pool talking about nothing and everything, in a story by Jason Reynolds.

Black is…Nic Stone’s high-class beauty dating a boy her momma would never approve of.

Black is…two girls kissing in Justina Ireland’s story set in Maryland.

Black is urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more—because there are countless ways to be Black enough. 

The Love And Lies Of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan3. The Love & Lies Of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan
ARC Review To Come
Publisher:
Scholastic Press
Release Date:
January 29, 2019
Summary:
Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, but lately she’s finding that harder and harder to do. She rolls her eyes instead of screaming when they blatantly favor her brother and she dresses conservatively at home, saving her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don’t know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech, where she can pursue her dream of becoming an engineer.

But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart. Her parents are devastated; being gay may as well be a death sentence in the Bengali community. They immediately whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Only through reading her grandmother’s old diary is Rukhsana able to gain some much needed perspective.

Rukhsana realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love, but can she do so without losing everyone and everything in her life?

Contemporary Mystery

Spin by Lamar Giles1.Spin by Lamar Giles
Publisher:
Scholastic Press
Release Date:
January 29, 2019
Summary: Sixteen-year-old Paris Secord’s (aka DJ ParSec) career–and life–has come to an untimely end, and the local music scene is reeling. No one is feeling the pain more than her shunned pre-fame best friend, Kya, and Paris’s chief groupie, Fuse. But suspicion trumps grief, and since each suspects the other of Paris’s murder, they’re locked in a high-stakes game of public accusations and sabotage.

Everyone in the ParSec Nation (DJ ParSec’s local media base)–including the killer–is content to watch it play out, until Kya and Fuse discover a secret: Paris was on the verge of major deal that would’ve catapulted her to superstar status on a national level, leaving her old life (and old friends) behind. With the new info comes new motives. New suspects. And a fandom that shows its deadly side. As Kya and Fuse come closer to the twisted truth, the killer’s no longer amused. But murdering Paris was simple enough, so getting rid of her nobody-friends shouldn’t be an issue…

Fantasy

The Girl King by Mimi Yu1.The Girl King by Mimi Yu
Publisher:
Bloomsbury YA
Release Date:
January 8, 2019
Summary: Two sisters become unwitting rivals in a war to claim the title of Emperor in this richly imagined, Asian-inspired fantasy!

Sisters Lu and Min have always known their places as the princesses of the Empire of the First Flame: the eldest, assertive Lu, will be named her father’s heir and become the dynasty’s first female ruler, while timid Min will lead a quiet life in Lu’s shadow. Then their father names their male cousin Set the heir instead, throwing both girls’ lives into chaos.

Determined to reclaim her birthright, Lu is forced to flee, leaving Min to face the volatile court alone. Lu crosses paths with Nokhai, the lone, unlikely survivor of the decimated Ashina, nomadic wolf shapeshifters. Nok never learned to shift–and he has no trust for the Empire that killed his family–but working with the princess might be the key to unlocking his true power.

As Lu and Nok form a tenuous alliance, Min’s own hidden power awakens–a forbidden, deadly magic that could secure Set’s reign . . . or allow her to claim the throne herself. But there can only be one Emperor, and the sisters’ greatest enemy could very well turn out to be each other.

Told in three distinct points-of-view, this first book in a sweeping fantasy series weaves a story of ambition, betrayal, and sacrifice.

Circle Of Shadows by Evelyn Skye2.Circle Of Shadows by Evelyn Skye (Circle Of Shadows #1)
Publisher:
Balzer + Bray
Release Date:
January 22, 2019
Summary: Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied around his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.

As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging in the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark.

So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group. Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.

King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo3.King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
Publisher:
Imprint
Release Date:
January 29, 2019
Summary: Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

*Because I have so many theories about King Of Scars, keep an eye out for Bookish Theories a new feature where I share all my thoughts & theories for upcoming books!

Historical Fiction

Inventing Victoria by Tonya Bolden1. Inventing Victoria by Tonya Bolden
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Release Date: January 8, 2019
Summary: As a young black woman in 1880s Savannah, Essie’s dreams are very much at odds with her reality. Ashamed of her beginnings, but unwilling to accept the path currently available to her, Essie is trapped between the life she has and the life she wants.

Until she meets a lady named Dorcas Vashon, the richest and most cultured black woman she’s ever encountered. When Dorcas makes Essie an offer she can’t refuse, she becomes Victoria. Transformed by a fine wardrobe, a classic education, and the rules of etiquette, Victoria is soon welcomed in the upper echelons of black society in Washington, D. C. But when the life she desires is finally within her grasp, Victoria must decide how much of herself she is truly willing to surrender.

Historical Fantasy

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi1. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
ARC Review To Come
Publisher:
Wednesday Books
Release Date:
January 15, 2019
Summary: Set in a darkly glamorous world, The Gilded Wolves is full of mystery, decadence, and dangerous but thrilling adventure.

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

Mythology

Oh My Gods by Alexandra Sheppard1. Oh My Gods by Alexandra Sheppard
Publisher: Scholastic UK
Release Date: January 3, 2019
Summary: Life as a half-mortal teenager should be epic.
But, for Helen Thomas, it’s tragic.

She’s just moved in with her dorky dad and self-absorbed older siblings – who happen to be the ancient Greek gods, living incognito in London!

Between keeping her family’s true identities secret, trying to impress her new friends, and meeting an actually cute boy, Helen’s stress levels are higher than Mount Olympus.

She needs to rein in her chaotic family before they blow their cover AND her chances at a half-normal social life.

Or is Helen fated for an embarrassment of mythical proportions?

Retellings

The Cold Is In Her Bones by Peternelle Van Arsdale1.The Cold Is In Her Bones by Peternelle Van Arsdale
Publisher:
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date:
January 22, 2019
Summary: Milla knows two things to be true: Demons are real, and fear will keep her safe.

Milla’s whole world is her family’s farm. She is never allowed to travel to the village and her only friend is her beloved older brother, Niklas. When a bright-eyed girl named Iris comes to stay, Milla hopes her loneliness might finally be coming to an end. But Iris has a secret she’s forbidden to share: The village is cursed by a demon who possesses girls at random, and the townspeople live in terror of who it will come for next.

Now, it seems, the demon has come for Iris. When Iris is captured and imprisoned with other possessed girls, Milla leaves home to rescue her and break the curse forever. Her only company on the journey is a terrible new secret of her own: Milla is changing, too, and may soon be a demon herself.

What January 2019 Books Are You Looking Forward To? 😍📚✨🎉🎉