Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi Review

Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi (Perfectly Parvin #1)

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (Penguin Teen)

Release Date: May 18, 2021

Pages: 320

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop

Cover Designer: Jasmine Moshiri (Photography) & Samira Iravani

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

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

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Perfectly Parvin was truly a marvelous, funny, and all-around SPECTACULAR YA debut that deserves more hype! Following 14-year-old Parvin Mohammadi, she’s a girl whose starting high school with a broken heart, so she decides to reinvent herself in order to get the ultimate homecoming date!

I’ve realized hyping up my favorite books on social media is a lot harder than it looks. Trying to capture the sheer brilliance of an author’s words and storytelling putting it into your own words (for me anyways) is always difficult. So perhaps my review can convince you to read this fantastic book! If you love a witty protagonist, plots about friendship, romance (of course), but ultimately a journey about accepting yourself as you are, then you MUST pick up Abtahi’s debut!

Iranian-American Parvin thinks everything is going well with her summer boyfriend Wesley, pulling pranks and hanging out at the beach…that is until, he breaks up with her for being “too much.” Now feeling devastated and hurt, Parvin’s gearing up to overcome this obstacle into freshman year by asking out her cute sophomore classmate, Matty Fumero, to homecoming! But when she decides to use romantic heroines from her favorite movies to accomplish her goal, will she accept her new “quiet” self and be willing to sacrifice the true Parvin to find love?

Throughout this journey, she’s not alone! She’s got her supportive best friends Ruth Song and Fabian Castor by her side at ever step of the way. However, when Parvin becomes consumed with her plans on winning over her crush, she doesn’t even realize she’s ignoring and missing the special moments with her bffs, leaving them to the side.

I mentioned this in my June TBR and am still thinking about the amazing friend group that Parvin has, despite its ups downs there’s never a moment when these friends aren’t supporting and sticking by one another!

In addition to her new start at James K. Polk High, she’s also attending Farsi classes and confronting her anxieties about not being “Iranian enough.” Despite her fears though, her parents and favorite aunt Sara especially, help her to juggle it all. Being 1/2 white and Iranian, Abtahi explores the deep bond and connection Parvin has with her parents as she uncovers more about what it means to be the “real Parvin,” who loves hot cheetos, pulling pranks and has a clever sense of humor. Being biracial as well, the story explores the hardship that Parvin’s mom endures as she realizes she can’t always help her daughter connect with her Iranian side, but assures that family (and friends) are always there to assist.

As the fall semester is well underway and prepping for homecoming, Parvin meets Amir in her Farsi class and slowly begins to realize she’s more herself around him. While I won’t spoil how the romantic storyline ends, both of boys are so well developed and I genuinely loved seeing the delightful Parvin navigate her feelings + personal journey with her oh so brilliant and witty humor amid her boy-focused goals (this book is SO funny, adored it being told through her POV). Her character felt incredibly relatable and real because Abtahi builds so much depth, giving Parvin a distinct voice that carries throughout the novel. She’s hilarious both introspectively and outward as well making tons of scenes, even with something as simple as school feel utterly hilarious and charming!

Abtahi built such a distinct voice to her characters, especially for our hilarious protagonist that it was one of my many favorite parts about this book! Parvin felt like such a real character and kind of like a friend too, I genuinely loved reading from her perspective (I’m also not usually a rereader, but this book is one I wouldn’t mind experiencing all over again <3). Despite the story focusing on Parvin’s search for love, friendship and family are just a big (if not bigger) pieces of her story that Abtahi takes her time to develop throughout the novel. She also covers big topics such as the Muslim ban and racism, creating a conversation that Parvin deeply explores through her internal pov.

The setting of Parvin’s Northern Virginia town, home, alongside her high school just come to life on the page. No matter what the setting was, Abtahi’s great writing built Parvin’s world with each and every chapter (though another FUN tidbit here is that the “chapters” are more split up by days / time which adds a unique flow to the story).

This novel also features an incredibly inclusive cast where main characters include: Parvin whose 1/2 Iranian, Fabian is Mexican-American who is gay, Ruth is Korean-American who identifies as pan, Matty is Argentinian-American, and the novel of course follows an Iranian-American family / culture.

Luckily this is the first of a duology, so there’s many more hilarious hijinks with Parvin to come and I could not be more thrilled! The ending, though feels like it does wrap up just a bit too quickly, just has the reader feel joy and hope for Parvin who grows so much over the course of the story. All in all there’s so much love I have for these characters, setting, impactful messages, storytelling, each of which come to life through Parvin’s eyes. Abtahi has crafted a genuine treasure of a book in the span of just 300+ pages leaving me eager to know where Parvin’s high school adventure is headed next!

Perfectly Parvin is a true gem in 2021 YA Contemporary you don’t want to miss! Hilarious hijinks, great storytelling, and lots of meaningful messages make this a fantastic debut that promises more friendship, family, and uplifting Parvin adventures to come!

Future Nostalgia {Book Tag}

Future Nostalgia Book TagToday, I’m doing the Future Nostalgia Book Tag, I was tagged by my wonderful friend Alicia over at A Kernel Of Nonsense and the tag was originally created by Natalie over at The Fine Art Of Reading!

Its been close to 2 years since I did a book tag, and not having a book review to share this week (I’m still making my way through A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder), I thought this would be a fun post to share! There’s also not a lot of opportunities to highlight backlist books too often on my blog, so expect lots of past releases!

FUTURE NOSTALGIA: A Book With A Strong Female Character

The Tiger's Daughter by K Arsenault Rivera

There’s so many books I’ve read that feature strong female characters and it was very hard to narrow this down. But, with the way this SFF title literally starts with these characters births well into adulthood, Arsenault Rivera explores many deep layers to both of these women’s lives, their worlds, and how their relationship grows!

I’m picking: The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera

Shizuka & Shefali are easily one of my favorite f/f couples of all time and this book had me smiling, crying, and just SO connected to their journeys, they became a part of my bookish heart.

When I think of “Strong Female Character” my mind immediately went to this series. The female characters are the stars of this series and Arsenault Rivera crafts their stories with so much care!

DON’T START NOW: A Book With A Major Glow Up

Analee, In Real Life by Janelle MilanesI interpreted this question to mean a book where a character goes through a lot of development in order to overcome a fear or obstacle.

I’m picking: Analee, In Real Life by Janelle Milanes

Analee is basically me okay? She’s incredibly anxious, shy and escapes to her favorite fictional worlds (through video games & books). She’s gotten used to her loneliness and finds it difficult to make friends. But, when she gets partnered with popular guy Seb, she slowly starts to come out of her shell. Also did I mention it has one the best Fake Dating tropes I’ve ever read? Analee starts a fake relationship with Seb, but there’s a mutual agreement that they’ll both help each other to win back people important to them!

As their fake relationship continues, this book is really one about growth and how both of them rethink their pasts to become better versions of themselves.

COOL: A Book With Awkward Moments Or Set In Summer

Truly Madly Royally y Debbie RigaudThis question really had me thinking, not because I couldn’t think of a summer book, but because there were so many to pick! I went back and forth on this one, but decided on a royal romance!

I’m picking: Truly Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud

Zora is part of a summer pre-college program and finds herself meeting a random boy in the university library. But, what she quickly learns is that this guy, Owen, is a prince! Its a character-driven book with a light and adorable romance!

PHYSICAL: A Book With A Steamy Romance

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Out of all the books on this list, this is the only one that’s an adult title. As I continue to venture out into more genres/categories, I’ve continuously heard phenomenal things about this book and series as a whole.

I’m picking: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

This book has been on my TBR for so long and I feel like everyone else has probably read it at this point except for me. I remember reading the first chapter or so and really want to finish it at some point before the 3rd book releases. From what I read, I remember loving it, so I’m looking forward to finishing up Hoang’s debut and gush about it alongside everyone else!

LEVITATING: A Book With “Moon” Or “Star” In The Title

when-the-moon-was-ours-anna-marie-mclemore

When I saw this question only one book came to mind at that moment!

I’m picking: When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

One of the main characters in this lovely magical realism tale is Sam, he paints and hangs up moons and his best friend is our other main character Miel. The 2 of them are inseparable and the way Anna-Marie writes their friendship, relationship, and individual stories is just incredibly beautiful. I’m currently rereading it for my #QuietReadathon and I’m loving it even more when I read it the first time! Anna-Marie writes the best magical realism I’ve ever read and I highly recommend picking up their books if you haven’t already.

PRETTY PLEASE: A Book With Characters Who Support Each Other

Satoko And Nada Vol. 1While there’s many books I can list that feature supportive characters, especially in YA, I’m mixing it up and recommending a phenomenal manga series that I feel the YA/Book Community has SERIOUSLY slept on!

I’m picking: Satoko And Nada by Yupechika

This wholesome contemporary series follows the adventures of 2  exchange students who come to the US to continue their university studies. Satoko is from Japan, while Nada is from Saudi Arabia. They immediately become best friends when they decide to become roommates and its very much a slice of life series! Are you looking for a supportive female friendship, College set YA that doesn’t lean heavily towards romance, and is lighthearted and fun, while at the same time is about learning and the bonds of friendship? READ THIS SERIES!

Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama Vol. 1

HALLUCINATE: A Book With A Fun Or Whimsical Setting

I just had to highlight another manga in this tag! 💞 This is probably my favorite manga series right now. It follows a young girl named Coco who lives in a world of magic, while only those who can learn its secret can become witches. Her dream is to become a witch and she is soon forced to embark on a journey alongside other witches to begin her training!

I’m picking: Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama

The artwork is absolutely phenomenal, evoking the style of an old fairytale or storybook, it’s a series with a lot of lore and a unique setting! If there were to be any fun or whimsical settings, I’d definitely pick the world of Witch Hat!

LOVE AGAIN: A Book Where The MC Proves Themselves Wrong

wintersong-by-s-jae-jonesThis is probably the question I had the most trouble deciding on, because I feel that can apply to so many. But there was one in particular that’s stayed with me for a long time and I felt her journey is one of proving that she does have potential and can be so much more.

I’m picking: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

I have such fond memories of this book and I fell completely in love with it. Leisl is a musical prodigy who creates such beautiful compositions and longs for the chance to find her place in the world. She’s always felt invisible, but who there’s one person in particular who sees what she can’t The Goblin King. Throughout the book she learns of the power that’s been within her all along.

BREAK MY HEART: A Book Where A Character Is Afraid Of Happiness

Don't Date Rosa Santos by Nina MorenoThere’s so many books featuring inspiring main characters who learn to seek out the happiness they deserve. However there’s one in particular that just resonated with me on such a deep level. Its a story about finding your way and much more!

I’m picking: Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno

Rosa fears her family’s curse and what may go wrong if she falls in love. She’s put off major decisions and dreams because her family and her close-knit community means so much to her. But there’s so many pillars in her life that continue to uplift her and inspire, as it also allows her to seek out her happiness.

GOOD IN BED: A Book With Characters Who Are Terrible At Communicating

i hear the sunspot limit 1 by yuki fumino

This book probably surprised me the most, as its a continuation of another favorite manga series. I of course plan on reading the next book, but after a lot of reflection it was bad communication that made it disappointing.

I’m picking: I Hear The Sunspot: Limit 1 by Yuki Fumino

Now don’t get me wrong, this is a fantastic contemporary manga series and I honestly am so grateful for it because, I Hear The Sunspot inspired me to get back into manga again. It follows college students Kouhei (whose hard of hearing) and Taichi, a more outgoing kind of person compared to Kouehi. When they become friends and Taichi becomes his note taker, we begin to see that they have feelings for each other. That’s all I can really say without spoiling, but its such a good series. Anyways, the continuation definitely felt like a much needed addition to their story, but I just felt their relationship went kind of backwards with their lack of communication…(However I still think this series is very underrated, so I’m linking Vol. 1 above if your interested 💖)

BOYS WILL BE BOYS: A Book With Themes Of Feminism / Equality

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

I wanted to highlight a book that’s been on my TBR and based on the summary this definitely feels like a book that’ll feature themes of Feminism/Equality.

I picked: The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

17-year old Jo Kuan is by night, the writer of a newspaper advice column and uses it to comment and address of societal ills during the 1800’s, under the use of the pseudonym! This summary alone sounds like Jo will discuss issues of race and gender around that time and challenge them, which I am here for! Hoping to finally pick this one up, it sounds fantastic!

That’s the Future Nostalgia Book Tag! Have you read any of the books I mentioned on this list? What are some books you’d mention for this tag? 💞📚✨

Thanks again to Alicia for tagging me 💞 & hope everyone is taking care of themselves during this time!! 💗

YA Book To Movie Adaptations Releasing In 2019!

Book Blog Discussion BannerIts time for a bookish chat! Hey, 24hr.YABookBlog here (~˘▾˘)~💞✨📚 Today I wanted to talk about the upcoming Young Adult Book-To-Movie Adaptations releasing this year!

I mean who doesn’t love seeing their favorite YA Book adapted for the screen? I know it can be kind of nerve-wracking, but seeing a book brought to life & seeing the bookish community come together makes it all the more fun!

Now as we roll into 2019, there’s many more adaptations to come and I couldn’t be more excited!!

These adaptations are in order by release date (however, dates may be subject to change)! If there’s any adaptations your looking forward to, lets discuss in the comments below! 😍📽📚✨🎞

Ashes In The Snow1.Ashes In The Snow
Based On: Between Shades Of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Release Date: January 11, 2019
Production Company: Sorrento Productions, Tauras Films, and Twilight Merengue Studios

Starring: Bel Powley as Lina

Ashes In The Snow Movie Tie-In Paperback

Summary: In 1941, 16 year-old aspiring artist Lina and her family are deported from Lithuania to Siberia amidst Stalin’s brutal dismantling of the Baltic region. One girl’s passion for art and her never-ending hope will break the silence of history.

Lina fights for her life, fearless, vowing that if she survives she will honor her family, and the thousands like her, by documenting the experience in her art and notes. She risks everything, hoping that her messages in art will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know his family is still alive.

*Now available through iTunes & Amazon

the knife of never letting go by patrick ness2.Chaos Walking
Based On: The Knife Of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (Chaos Walking #1)
Release Date:
March 1, 2019 (rumored)
Production Company: Lionsgate Entertainment

Starring: Tom Holland as Todd Hewitt & Daisy Ridley as Viola Eade

The Knife Of Never Letting Go paperback (UK Edition)

Summary: Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him — something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn’t she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

Yoon_9780553496680_jkt_all_r1.indd3.The Sun Is Also A Star
Based On: The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon
Release Date:
May 17, 2019
Production Company:
Warner Bros., Alloy Entertainment, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Starring: Yara Shahidi as Natasha & Charles Melton as Daniel

The Sun Is Also A Star Movie Tie-In Edition (Pre-Order; Available April 2019)

Summary: Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

Five Feet Apart by Rachel Lippincott4. Five Feet Apart
Based On: Five Feet Apart by Rachel Lippincott
Release Date:
March 22, 2019
Production Company:
CBS Films

Starring: Haley Lu Richardson as Stella & Cole Sprouse as Will

Five Feet Apart Movie Tie-In Edition (Pre-Order; Available February 2019)

Summary: Can you love someone you can never touch?

Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.

The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals.

Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment.

What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?

95.All The Bright Places
Based On: All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Release Date:
Rumored 2019
Production Company:
Echo Lake Entertainment 
Film to be distributed by Netflix!

Starring: Elle Fanning as Violet & Justice Smith as Theodore

All The Bright Places paperback (UK Edition)

Summary: Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

*+ Though there’s no release date yet, the sequel to To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before– P.S. I Still Love You, has been confirmed💌💞💖

And those are the upcoming YA Book To Movie Adaptations of 2019! Any YA Adaptations your looking forward to? ✨🎬📽📚

Pre-Order Book Swag, Using Libraries, & Why Libraries Matter To Me As A Book Blogger {Book Blogger Discussion}

Book Blog Discussion BannerIts time for a bookish chat! Hey, 24hr.YABookBlog here (~˘▾˘)~💞✨📚 Today I wanted to talk about libraries & pre-order swag!

In this discussion, because I’m from the US, I’ll be focusing mainly on the U.S. in regards to libraries & book swag!

I’d been scrolling through twitter a few weeks ago and saw upcoming pre-order campaigns for Tara Sim’s Firestarter and Joan He’s Descendant Of The Crane!

Right away I noticed that for their campaigns, they’d be accepting library requests as part of their preorders, that made me so happy.

Thank you! Thank you!! 📚📚✨

We’re still given the opportunity to support anticipated books, even if we’re not able to purchase before release!

+I also want to shout-out Emily Suvada for her amazing thread during the release for This Cruel Design about libraries, supporting her book by reading it from the library & understanding that readers can’t always order right away!

joyce-mccown-791673-unsplash booksI feel like the push for library pre-orders should be encouraged more from publishers, because regardless, readers are still ordering in advance to support a book or author. It shouldn’t matter how a reader chooses to pre-order, I’m positive readers (especially teens) want to feel included in this!

I do know that Penguin Teen launches pre-order campaigns this way too, where people can send in a postcard w/ their addresses and still get swag without having pre-ordered the book! I do hope other publishers (especially more of the Big 5) take note and strive to do this because that makes the opportunity available to readers to get some cool swag, even if they aren’t ordering right away!

Overall, my point is there can be so much more support for libraries & library readers from publishers and that’s something I feel we should take note of!

I’ve been reading YA since about 2012 & in the beginning, the way I was able to keep up with these new releases and expand on my reading, was by checking all of these out through none other than–libraries!

Sure I bought a few books now & again, but a good 90% of the books I was reading, came from my local library!

The same applies to me today as a book blogger, while I am buying a few more books than before, I am constantly utilizing my library by requesting anticipated upcoming releases! (Starting this year, I’ve even added how I read each book in my wrap-ups, whether its from the library, owned, or an ARC).

I would have never had the opportunity to read so many new and amazing authors I now love, had it not been for being able borrowing and checking-out their books from the library!

As a university student, reader & especially a blogger, I wouldn’t be where I am without my local library and now I’m going to discuss a little more on ways you can utilize your library more & save money if you still want to support your most anticipated books!

Unsplash_Books_Roman-Kraft1. Talk to your librarians: They are always there to help and if you notice there’s a book you really want to read that’s not on the catalog, tell them! I talk with my local librarians weekly and if there’s a new release I haven’t seen on our inter-loan system they’ve told me they’re more than happy to talk to their supervisor + are always interested in new books I’ve recommended them.

2.Checking-out books: I still do this–but even if I’ve read and reviewed an ARC of a book, I still check it out from my local library to show my support!

The more a book is in demand at your library, the more copies they’ll purchase for readers (not just physical copies but e-books too), which can definitely support the author!

As I was looking more into libraries & how they support authors, I also came across a couple quotes and articles that I found to be super interesting reads:

“…if you are able to put a hold request on a book before it’s available, that might help libraries make a decision of whether or not to purchase more than a single copy. Books which are showing a lot of activity, like multiple holds on a single copy, suggest that the popularity and interest is there and the library should consider purchasing another copy or two to fulfill the interest.”–Book Riot, How To Support A Book

How Do Authors Make Money From Library Books

Now I’m sure there’s more ways your favorite authors/books can be supported by libraries, but those are just a couple I could think of regarding this specific topic! Feel free to share more in the comments ✨📚

In regards to pre-orders & libraries like I’ve discussed here, Vicky from Vicky Who Reads also touched on this a bit in her “How YA is Isolating Teens Discussion, that teens aren’t usually the one’s pre-ordering, because they are more often than not, getting it from the library! Though I’m not a teen, I agree 100% because that’s exactly what I’m still doing!

I can’t always afford to buy these new books right away, but that’s what makes libraries so awesome, I’m saving money & still supporting my favorite authors & new upcoming books!

Now I also asked on Twitter why others think libraries are important to them as readers & here were some responses:

 

 

 

So above all I just wanted to share this post on why libraries matter so much to me as a book blogger, reader, & supporter of authors!

And why library pre-order incentives are such an important & amazing way for readers to show their support!

I really hope you enjoyed this post & I would love your feedback! 😍✨📚

Also with this discussion of libraries & authors, I’ve compiled a list of YA authors who have books releasing, either late 2018 or coming up throughout 2019 and announced they are accepting library pre-orders in their campaigns (Will add more as they become available +be aware some end early before release day):

The Disasters by M.K. England (Releases December 18, 2018)

Even If I Fall by Abigail Johnson (Releases January 8, 2019)

Firestarter by Tara Sim (Releases January 15, 2018)

One Year Of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon (January 15, 2019)

The Love & Lies Of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan (Releases January 29, 2019)

All The Walls Of Belfast by Sarah Carlson (Releases March 12, 2019) (Pre-Orders not announced yet)

Descendant Of The Crane by Joan He (Releases April 2, 2019) (Library request pre-order form not yet available)

White Rose by Kip Wilson (Releases April 2, 2018) (Pre-Orders not announced yet)

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen (Releases July 30, 2019) (Pre-Orders not announced yet)

Do you think more authors/publishers should include library requests in their pre-order campaigns? 📚📚🎉✨

As a book blogger, do you utilize your library to read and review for your blog? 💻📚✨

Anything you’d like to add to the discussion? 🎉📚💕✨😍

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta {Literary Travels}

Literary TravelsToday I’m introducing a new feature on the blog! Literary Travels is the working title and this idea came about as I was thinking of all the upcoming fantasy books on my TBR + how fantasy books usually come with maps!

Then from there I began to think of all the different locations traveled in fantasy books & if I were traveling to these fantasy worlds, where would I go what would I see, etc.

There are often so many different elements explored throughout fantasy books, that I also created this as a diary/log for series when future books are released (or stand-alones) and I find myself forgetting details about the world!

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose CapettaSo to start off today’s Literary Travels feature, I’m spotlighting The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta, a Queer YA Fantasy inspired by 19th Century Italy!

If you follow me on Twitter, you also may have seen me gushing about it, so its great I’m introducing this feature with The Brilliant Death, because as I was reading I could really picture the setting and get an understanding of the history, culture, you name it!

**Literary Travels will feature specifics about the setting of each book, so be wary of detailed locations/world-building if you don’t want to be spoiled!**

This feature will probably vary from post to post, but I hope it’ll serve as a guide of sorts if you find yourself reading these fantasy books and highlight the amazing settings, culture, etc. explored!

Hope you enjoy and let me know your thoughts on this new feature in the comments below! 😍📚🗺

Welcome to:

Vinalia

A country rich with history & breathtaking architecture, you’ll be enamored by all it has to offer!

From the shores of the Violetta Coast to the northern edge of the Neviane mountain range, there’s plenty to explore within Vinalia!

With this Literary Travels Guide, you’ll learn about the best cities, clothing, food and maybe some lesser known secrets about this country, to make the most out of your visit!

Within Vinalia you must know that there are 5 ruling families across the region, with the Capo being the current main ruler of the country!

The 5 Families include (From East to West): di Sangro, Moschella, Rao, Otto, & Altimari

Here are some major cities and locations you’d want to keep in mind when visiting:

Chieza: Found within the mountain ranges of The Uccelli, this city is known for its markets containing anything from beautiful linens to dried foods.

Reader’s of this guide, don’t forget to check out Storyteller’s Grave! Its said to be a ravine located to the west of Chieza. However, legend says it received that name because men from Chieza would drink and shout stories near its edge, with those least fortunate falling in.

Villages surrounding Chieza are also known for having vibrant-colored tile roofs.

The Uccelli: A mountain range that crosses across the east of Vinalia.

Ruling family: di Sangro

Violetta Coast: Located towards the southeast of Vinalia, this vibrant coastal area is known for its vineyards.

Aside from its vineyards, Violetta Coast is also known for its trades in spices and metals, considering its close to the shore.

Ruling family: Rao

Moving on towards the west we have the cities of:

Prai: Known for its gambling tables

Gravina: Famously known for its universities

Ruling family: Otto

Salvi: One of the largest islands off the coast of Vinalia.

Ruling Family: Altimari

Amalia: If your arriving through Estatta Valley, you’ll immediately he brightly-tiled roofs ranging from red, to pink and orange.

Tile adorns the bridges, there’s also rustic statues, bronze decor, & marble buildings.

There are a variety of shops ranging from cheese, breads, to even sweets.

  –Don’t forget to check out the Amalia Opera House

Weather

Generally a warm climate, the sun is particularly strong in Vinalia, with nights getting rather cold. However, the mountain ranges bring about strong wind.

History

The last era of magic was said to have ended close to 500 years ago. During that time Streghe began getting wiped out, being labeled heretics. From that, the Order of Prai was born.

They later tried to bury the beliefs & old faith of the past, but gods & goddesses are still remembered.

Gods and goddesses are still widely cherished:

  • Melae: Goddess of Death
  • Cecci: God of Wine
  • Elia: Goddess of Food & Beauty
  • Erras: God of Judgement
  • Veria: Goddess of Truth

Magic System:

Within Vinalia, rumors have floated around that there are Strega, or those with magical abilities. Though they live in secret considering magic isn’t as common as it once was, many say Strega are just fairy tales.

Interesting Facts:

-Within Uccelli there’s a mountain known as:  The Weeping Mountain

-Touching iron keeps away hardship

-The neighboring country of Eterra is known for its universities

-Tales of Vinalia include: The Pearl Girl & The Castle Without A Soul

That brings us to the end of the guide! As you can see, Vinalia is a vast country with a variety of immersive locations & a rich history!

Thanks for checking out this first issue of Literary Travels, hope it was a helpful resource you’ll keep these in mind when visiting Vinalia!  ✈📚✨

This feature was so much fun to create and I hope it inspired you to pick up The Brilliant Death! Can’t wait to share my next Literary Travels guide!

Thoughts on this literary guide? 📚😍

Are you planning to read The Brilliant Death? If you have, I’d love your thoughts on this guide! ✨⚔📚

October 2018 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 6

Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi1. Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi (TSTQ #2.5)

Library | Started September 12 + Finished October 1 |Rating: ★★★★☆ ½ |Star-Touched Stories Full Review

Overall Thoughts: This collection is not one to miss for fans of The Star-Touched Series! They explore love, loss, acceptance, finding one’s inner strength & so much more! The 3 stories within this collection include: Death And Night, Poison And Gold, & Rose And Sword. What I adored about this collection is that even though it supplements the series, there continues to be so much development that adds more to the TSTQ world overall, in such a fantastic way! While I did take my time reading this collection, it was until I got to the last story that I was really savoring each moment with these characters & I still wasn’t ready to leave this world behind (B/c this is the final Star-Touched novel). I’m really going to miss Maya, Amar, Aasha, & my fave duo Gauri & Vikram 😭✨❤ My only minor issue is that there was some slow pacing throughout Aasha’s story. I adored this collection so much and felt it wonderfully wrapped up the series!

Vengeful by V.E. Schwab2.Vengeful by V.E. Schwab (Villains #2)

Owned | Started September 27 + Finished October 8 |Rating:★★★★☆ ½|Vengeful Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Vengeful is the sequel we’ve waited years for! This novel is brilliantly dark, action-packed, & character-driven! What Schwab does that really takes this sequel in a different direction, is allowing the story to focus more on new/side-characters (like Marcella & June) and there’s also the introduction to this mysterious organization called EON. I loved getting more to Eli’s backstory and overall seeing the fate of these characters I loved, 5 years later! Schwab brilliantly incorporates numerous POVs across a varied amount of timelines and with series in particular, masterfully ties everything together. As to why it wasn’t a full 5, the pacing did feel a bit slow when I finally saw where the story would lead. As the book progressed, I actually found myself less interested in June as a character, & I really wanted more scenes of Victor & Eli (b/c I adore these messed up super-villains so much!! ❤❤) Above all, Vengeful was an epic, dark, twisted continuation to the Villains Series, that took everything I loved from Vicious & brought it to an entirely new level!

The Royal Tutor Volume 2 by Higasa Akai3. The Royal Tutor Vol. 2 by Higasa Akai (The Royal Tutor #2)

Owned | Started + Finished October 15 |Rating:★★★★☆ ½ |The Royal Tutor Volume 2 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: The Royal Tutor is one of my favorite manga series and I was so happy to be continuing it with volume 2! Heine, the tutor, now begins is introductory lessons with the princes. What makes this volume shine is the focus on the characters (mainly princes) and the strong tight-knit bond they share. Their always there to support each-other & I loved seeing my favorite princes be there for one another 😭❤❤✨ The plot unfolds in a great way (as do the mysteries) and the comedy in this series is fantastic! My only minor issue is that I’m really hoping to get more expansion on the setting & there are 2 side characters who barley have any page time, so I don’t feel like I know a whole lot about them. The Royal Tutor continues to be a great manga series with a main cast you can’t help but adore & filled so much humor. I’m really looking forward to the 3rd volume!

Blanca &amp; Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore4. Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

ARC |Started October 12 + Finished October 25 |Rating:★★★★☆ ½ |Blanca & Roja ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: Anna-Marie’s tales always captivate me and Blanca & Roja is no different. Her latest lush magical realism tale weaves together Swan Lake with Snow White And Rose Red and its such a beautiful story! We follow sisters Blanca and Roja, who have been raised to be rivals involving a generation-long spell where every generation in their family, one of 2 sisters will become a swan! Having grown up to believe they will always be opposites, Roja believes she will be taken by the swans. Even though this conflict exists between them, their bond is so strong & they are willing to keep secrets to help one another. However things change when 2 boys, Page & Barclay, become involved in this game. As with all of McLemore’s books, she explores identity and gender so beautifully! I adored these 4 with all my heart ❤ The dynamics explored between each of them have so many layers and are beautifully developed. The plot unravels in unexpected & magical ways! Family, love, and identity are such important themes in this novel and are explored with such depth! As with all of Anna-Marie’s novels, they are truly unforgettable & will continue to stay with me! I can’t wait for her next amazing novel~

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta5. The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta (The Brilliant Death #1)

ARC | Started October 24 + Finished October 26 |My Rating:★★★★☆ ½ |The Brilliant Death ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: The Brilliant Death was a book I went into with incredibly high expectations and was incredibly happy to see that it exceeded them! Set in a magical 19th Century-inspired Italian setting, we are introduced to Teo(a Strega) who goes on a mission to the country of Vinalia’s capital to save her father (one of 5 heads of the controlling families), when it seems all the families heads have fallen. She must do so, not disguised as a boy, but turned into one! With her Strega abilities, alongside her gender-fluid tutor Cielo, they both embark on this journey & discover so much along the way! The world of Vinalia is detailed, immersive, & given wonderful development + exploration! My only minor issue is that ending did feel a little rushed. However, The Brilliant Death is a wholly unique and fantastic start to a new YA Fantasy series! With exploration of gender & identity, and an adventure filled with politics & intrigue, Amy Rose Capetta’s fantasy debut is not one to miss! I’m expecting so much from this series!

Satoko And Nada Vol. 16. Satoko And Nada by Yupechika (Satoko & Nada #1)

Library| Started + Finished October 27 | My Rating: ★★★★★ | Satoko And Nada Volume 1 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Satoko & Nada is one of those mangas that I think will definitely be loved for fans of YA! Continuing their uni/college studies in America, Satoko and Nada find themselves becoming roommates and the best of friends! What truly shines about this manga debut is the friendship and amazing characters, from Satoko, Nada, Pakeezah, Ameena, Miracle, & Kevin! The characters are so incredibly developed and they really come to life by the end of this first volume! Satoko & Nada also discusses common misconceptions of Saudi & Islamic culture, while also discussing homesickness, etc. Its also really diverse! The pacing is fantastic, the comedy is perfect, & its the kind of story you want to re-read all over again because it leaves a smile on your face! Satoko & Nada is a fantastic manga debut and one I highly recommend if your looking for a comedic contemporary, & slice-of-life story!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Girl In Space Podcast Review {Literary Listens}

Author Interview With Janelle Milanes {Analee, In Real Life}

No More Heroes: Hell Or High Water by Michelle Kan {Exclusive Cover Reveal}

Non-Fiction Podcasts I’ve Been Listening To! {Literary Listens}

Book Bytes #16

~ So overall I was pretty happy with the books I read in October & the content I posted ❤🎃✨📚😍 I’m also slowly but, surely getting back on track with my TBR!

Plans For November:

~ As always catch up on ARCs & new releases 😅📚✨ If your interested in seeing more daily reading/bookish updates definitely check out my twitter! & I’ve been in kind of Twitter slump recently, so it’d be so awesome to start bookish conversations on there 😍📚✨❤❤

~ I’ve been working on a new blog feature & I am beyond excited to be debuting it this month on the blog! (Hint: it involves recently released/upcoming fantasy books!!) 😍📚✨⚔

~ I also may have another Literary Listens post up, it could be a podcast review or a podcast recommendation list! (I’m still deciding) 🎙✨

~ I’m also prepping some December & early 2019 posts that will definitely introduce some new bookish content to my blog! ❤❤📚🎉

Thanks for checking out my October 2018 Wrap-Up! What books did you read in October? or Any blog posts you enjoyed creating last month? Are there any that your planning on reading in November? 😍📚✨💕

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta ARC Review

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose CapettaThe Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta (The Brilliant Death #1)

Publisher: Viking Books For Young Readers

Release Date: October 30, 2018

Pages: 352

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository: The Brilliant Death

Summary: For Teodora DiSangro, a mafia don’s daughter, family is fate.

All her life, Teodora has hidden the fact that she secretly turns her family’s enemies into music boxes, mirrors, and other decorative objects. After all, everyone in Vinalia knows that stregas–wielders of magic–are figures out of fairytales. Nobody believes they’re real.

Then the Capo, the land’s new ruler, sends poisoned letters to the heads of the Five Families that have long controlled Vinalia. Four lie dead and Teo’s beloved father is gravely ill. To save him, Teo must travel to the capital as a DiSangro son–not merely disguised as a boy, but transformed into one.

Enter Cielo, a strega who can switch back and forth between male and female as effortlessly as turning a page in a book. Teo and Cielo journey together to the capital, and Teo struggles to master her powers and to keep her growing feelings for Cielo locked in her heart. As she falls in love with witty, irascible Cielo, Teo realizes how much of life she’s missed by hiding her true nature. But she can’t forget her mission, and the closer they get to the palace, the more sinister secrets they uncover about what’s really going on in their beloved country–and the more determined Teo becomes to save her family at any cost.

*Received ARC through Bookish First*

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Brilliant Death is a YA Fantasy filled with politics, magic & adventure! Set in a magical country inspired by 19th-century Italy, we follow Teo on a journey to the palace of the current ruler and uncover the secrets to save her father, leader of one of five mafia families! Capetta’s novel is character-driven, action-packed tale of intrigue, that also explores gender and identity, that will have you hooked from page 1!

I had incredibly high hopes for The Brilliant Death, so when I reached the last page, not only had I been surprised in so many ways, but I was left ready to get my hands on the sequel!

The Brilliant Death is such an immersive, wonderfully developed, and rich story that you won’t even notice the pages flying by! There’s so much packed into each page & chapter, everything about Capetta’s story is so incredibly vivid and real!

Everything you think you know about Teo & her world just expands on a massive scale and goes in directions your not really expecting! There’s so many different plot threads  + mysteries, but they all manage to come together in the end & in really unique ways!

Capetta has forged a tale rich with politics, an immersive and unique fantasy world, with a plot that contains so many different layers to it, that everything about Teo and her journey comes to life in such detail!

Teodora (or Teo) di Sangro has understood since she was little, the power of her family! As the 2nd daughter of one of five ruling mafia families in the country of Vinalia, Teo knows that family comes first.

In order to do that, she uses her magical abilities as a Strega (in secret) to take care of those who’ve done wrong by her family, by transforming them into objects from fans to prayer beads, even daggers!

Early on in the story, we’re introduced to Pietro, who did wrong by the family & is one of the di Sangro’s latest victims. Teo is ruthless in defending her family and intimidating those to get the answers she needs. As punishment, she turns him into a music box!

Teo is no stranger to this form of punishment, we learn she even has her room filled with, what we learn are, all those she’s transformed (permanently it seems) into a variety of objects!

Family is so important in this story! From the exploration of her dynamic with her youngest brother Luca (who is the sweetest, I adored him (´▽`ʃƪ)💕), to the powerful bond she has with her father, Niccolo di Sangro, her older sister, stepmother & other siblings, Capetta shows just how much family means to Teo and how vital it is to the story!

Magic is not widely accepted as it once was and now the subject of fairy tales! But, Teo finds herself unsure of her place with magic in her mafia family, especially when she does use it to help them with her powerful + ruthless father who not only has no idea, but also doesn’t accept magic!

When the leaders of the 5 ruling families are poisoned one by one by letters sent from the current ruler, the Capo, Teo decides to take charge alongside Luca & a mysterious gender-fluid mage by the name of Cielo to the Palazza and answer the Capo’s message, not disguised as boy, but turned into one!

Her father may have a chance, but only if she can reach the Capo & find a way to save him!

From the beginning we are introduced to Luca di Sangro, Teo’s younger brother who hasn’t been interested in taking over for the family, but going to university and continuing with his studies, mainly in science!

We see just how close they are and that Teo is ruthless in protecting her family, but most importantly Luca, who she cares for so much!

The 2 embark on this journey and along the way are reunited with Cielo (& his magical transformation book) who then becomes Teo’s tutor and help her control her abilities and use them to save her family!

Now the 3 of them are on a journey to make it to the Palazza, but not without heartbreak, secrets revealed about the magic within their kingdom, & the harsh realities Teo faces as she encounters danger, politics, intrigue, and so much more!

Not only that, but we learn Cielo lost his mother and I just loved exploring his story + learning more about him!!

The Brilliant Death has so many fantastic elements that you really see Teo and her world come to life in this story that’s so incredibly developed and immersive, the pages will fly right before your eyes!

Set in a fantasy world inspired by the author’s Italian background, you can really see the heart and authenticity to the setting, culture, and politics explored in this story! The many different layers to the setting and world are also given great development and exploration, I was beyond impressed with how much of the unique + vast world I retained after finishing!

I don’t want to spoil too much about the setting, but there’s goddesses, magic, warring mafia families, rival powers (mainly by the country of Eterra), political intrigue, and so much history weaved throughout the story and at such perfect moments, you never feel bogged down at all! Capetta weaves in such lush descriptions and fascinating tidbits about the world, its such a wonderfully developed setting, you could really picture it!

*I will say one of my favorite parts about the setting you learn about later in the story, is this interesting circular dungeon within the Palazza (with 8 different levels) & it gave me major Six Of Crows vibes from the Ice Court!

The Brilliant Death reminded me why I love politics and intrigue in YA Fantasy! From the unsaid secrets between Teo, her siblings, & parents, the secrets and image Teo needs to keep up with in the game of intrigue within the Palazza, all of these and more, build into the story and really keeps the reader guessing!

The exploration of magic was also so incredibly developed that I found it built with each major plot point! From the different abilities Stregha can have to details about the magic itself that really builds into the story as you get further into it!

Capetta’s writing through 1st person not only gives you such an in-depth look to Vinalia through Teo’s eyes, but also allows you to connect so much to the characters and the plot!

As mentioned above, this novel also weaves in the importance and differing sides to gender, identity, & how one finds comfort within their own skin, which is explored so wonderfully.

Teo identifies as queer, while Cielo is gender-fluid and alternates between he & she pronouns (which is specifically stated through Teo whenever Cielo goes between he/she). In Teo’s world and within her family, the boys have higher expectations + clearly are given more of a say (unlike Teo).

With her lessons to try & transform with Cielo + once she makes it to the palace & meets the other ruling families sons, she is constantly met with expectations by taking on the role of a son, which has its pros & cons when it comes to keeping it a secret. She’s thought about this for so long and now that she is given the opportunity to save her father, she finds herself easily accepting her different identities!

She uses this to her ability to uncover even more secrets that it really turns the plot into very unique directions!

The characters were all fantastic and I loved them all (even the villains) because they are all so incredibly complex, multi-faceted, and developed, that you understand them so well by the end of this book and they may even come to surprise you!

Not only is there Teo, her father, & Luca, but also her other siblings + relatives like Beniamo (the oldest brother) & Mirella, but her cousins Carina & Adele, and her stepmother Fiorenza (Teo & her stepmother’s dynamic was so wonderfully developed!!).

There’s also Cielo, the Capo, the ruling families sons: Ambrogio, Vanni, Lorenzo, Rao and 2 mysterious girls within the Palazza, Azzurra & Delfina!

There were so many great dynamics explored with Teo throughout this book, but aside from her & Luca, I have to shout-out a few of my favorites: Teo & the adorable Cielo (their banter & relationship is the best!!), but also Teo & Azzurra (she was so interesting & really surprised me!) + Teo & Ambrogio!!

Now I don’t really want to give away too much of the plot, but truly it surprised me in so many ways and I loved following Teo on her journey to help her father, but also learn more about her home of Vinalia!

My only minor critique is that the last part of the story (its split up by 5) did feel a bit rushed nearing the end!

I am beyond excited for the next one and highly recommend picking it up if your a fan of political fantasy books, are looking for Queer + Genderfluid rep, and are looking for a unique and immersive YA Fantasy tale!

The Brilliant Death is a book I managed to finish in just a few days and I am just beyond happy it surprised + went above my expectations! I am beyond excited to see where Teo’s journey is headed in book 2!

This tale set in 19th Century Italy weaves with magic, exploration of gender & identity and is filled with a wholly unique magic system and world that transports you in an instant! It has easily become one of my new favorite YA Fantasy books, with its expansive setting, immersive story and world, themes of family, love & so much adventure + intrigue to keep you on the edge of your seat! The Brilliant Death is Capetta’s start to a new fantasy series and not one you want to miss!

+ Keep an eye on the blog for a new upcoming feature to the blog, with The Brilliant Death being the first of that new series! If you love fantasy + fantasy settings, you’ll definitely want to check it out!! 😍✨⚔📚

September 2018 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 6

Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram1.Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

ARC | Started August 25 + Finished September 3 |Rating:★★★★☆| Darius The Great Is Not Okay ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: A moving and deeply character-driven debut! I loved how Khorram explored the character-dynamics + relationships that Darius has and how they differ between each other. Darius takes a trip with his family to visit grandparents in Iran. This trip isn’t just about him connecting more with his cultural background, but also allowing him to carve a space for himself when he is unsure of where he fits in. He also makes a new friend while there, Shorab. They play soccer and their friendship is given so much page-time & development! Because depression is very much present in Darius’s life, we see how its impacted his views of situations and people around him, etc, so there’s a great exploration of mental health. There’s such a focus on family, friendship, and acceptance of ones-self that are such central themes to the book. My only major issue that impacted my rating, was that many times there were pauses written in to Darius’s thinking (b/c its 1st person; “um”). I felt it never really added anything to the story and because we already know the anxiety Darius feels, it felt very unnecessary and was a bit overused. But aside from that, overall what makes Darius The Great Is Not Okay such a wonderful debut to check out is the depth to the characters and story!

Monthly Girls Nozaki-Kun Volume 32.Monthly-Girl’s Nozaki-kun Vol. 3 by Izumi Tsubaki

Owned | Started + Finished September 6 |Rating:★★★★☆ | Monthly-Girl’s Nozaki-kun Vol. 3 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Monthly-Girl’s is a brilliant & underrated manga series that follows Chiyo who has a crush on one of her classmates Nozaki & through hilarious scenarios filled with misunderstandings, becomes his assistant & meets tons of new friends! What makes this series so great is the unique and dynamic cast of characters that you connect with so easily and the clever ways the author puts comedic spins on romance/romance tropes! This volume focuses more on the side characters and their development. My only minor issue is that in this volume its more focused on the scenarios & skits that the plot doesn’t really connect & did feel a bit different than the previous volumes. However, this manga series continues to be one of my favorites, with brilliantly-timed jokes, fun & immersive skits & similar to volumes 1 & 2, puts the cast in such hilarious situations while also bringing them to life with each page!

Fence Issue 1 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The Mad3. Fence Vol. 1 by C.S. Pacat, Johanna The Mad + Joana Lafuente

Library | Started + Finished September 13 | Rating:★★★★☆ |Fence Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Fence is a fast-paced character-driven series that is incredibly immersive as it introduces you to the world of championship fencing! Fence Vol. 1 follows Nicholas Cox as he tries to prove he’s ready to get into the leagues of championship fencing, but with his loss against championship fencer Seiji Katayama, he gets set back quite a bit, but vows to challenge him again one day & win! This 1st volume not only introduces the main cast, but also whats at stake for Nicholas as he finds himself at the King’s Row boarding school & with his roommate being none other than, Seiji! I go more into depth as to why I rated this lower than when I read the single issues, but basically after a re-read I found the characters to be a bit static & the first few issues overall seem more as set up for something much bigger than the story its really giving you in this volume! Aside from that, Fence Vol. 1 is a fun series filled with friendship, rivalries, championships, & of course–fencing!

Analee, In Real Life by Janelle Milanes4. Analee, In Real Life by Janelle Milanes

ARC |Started September 15 + Finished September 18 | Rating: ★★★★★ | Analee, In Real Life Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Milanes delivers another stunning YA Contemporary! This novel follows Analee who finds things difficult to say in real life, but through her favorite online RPG, she plays as a character who is all the things she aspires to be: brave, outgoing, and always willing to take chances! The plot is fantastic, wonderfully paced, and told through a relatable 1st person POV! Milanes’s novel follows Analee learning to come out of her shell when she decides to start a fake relationship with Seb Matias who is trying to win back his ex-girlfriend, thinking she can win back her friend Lily, who’s also part of the popular crowd. The friendship/relationship that develops between the 2 was so incredibly developed and I loved how the each grow with each other’s help. I loved it!! Aside from Seb & Analee’s relationship, there’s also themes of family, love & loss that is explored as we also learn that Analee’s mother’s death 3 years earlier has left both her and her father still grieving. Analee learns more about her stepmother Harlow & step-sister Avery! The incredible characters, plot, and themes explored made Milanes’s latest book another on of my all-time favorite YA Contemporary books! I loved everything about Analee, In Real Life and highly recommend it if your a fan of: Online RPGs, fake dating, diverse cast of characters, exploration of family, friendship, & love! 

Wildcard by Marie Lu5.Wildcard by Marie Lu (Warcross #2)

Owned | Started September 20 + Finished September 21 | Rating: ★★★★☆ ½ | Wildcard Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Wildcard was such a unique finale, but also delivers new elements that made it different from Warcross, in a great way! I found it delivered more on political intrigue and character-development, even hints of a psychological thriller in a way, that added many layers of depth to what we remember in Warcross. Without spoiling too much, I also enjoyed the addition to new characters and seeing a different side to the stakes introduced previously in book 1! My only minor issue is that because it is more character-driven and intrigue heavy, story/character threads did feel a bit slower and the development felt a bit uneven at times. However, Wildcard is definitely a finale that will leave you at the edge of your seat as the stakes and the game, changes!

The Carrying by Ada Limón6. The Carrying: Poems by Ada Limón

Library | Started + Finished September 26 | Rating: ★★★★★ | The Carrying: Poems Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Limón’s collection explores life, death, identity, womanhood, youth, and so much more through a writing-style that has such vivid imagery and paints so many different emotions with each poem! Limón’s poems (broken up into 3 parts) really leave you thinking and reflecting as each line carries such weight and depth. I also loved the beautiful imagery/view of nature and how it connects to so many differing emotions explored throughout this collection! The Carrying is easily one of my favorite poetry collections of all-time. It really left an impact as it explored so much about life and reflecting on the intense and emotional moments in life! 

Additional Posts From This Month:

Latinx YA Book Recommendations For Your TBR! {2018 + 2019}

Waiting On Wednesday #10

Book Bytes #15

Latinx Book Bingo TBR! {Book Blog Discussion}

~ I also started a Medium page for my blog on the 7th just add onto what I post on my blog! But, overall I think it’ll be where I have more discussions, you can check it out Here
The posts currently on it talk about annotating books & audio dramas!

Plans For October:

~ Catch up on ARCs! I feel like this’ll probably be my goal each month for the rest of the year 😅📚✨There’s ARCs I hope to read ahead of time before release & review them on the blog! 💖📚✨

~ I’ve been listening to some new podcasts recently, so I’m also going to plan out some more reviews and recommend some new ones! 😍💞✨🎙

~ Read more than last month! I feel like I’m a pretty behind on recent releases, so I really want to try to get back on track with my TBR! 📚✨🎉🎉

What books did you read this month? Any bookish plans for October? 😍💕📚🎃✨

Wildcard by Marie Lu Review

Wildcard by Marie LuWildcard by Marie Lu (Warcross #2)

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons BYR

Release Date: September 18, 2018

Pages: 342

Summary: Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems–and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

*Spoilers Ahead*

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Wildcard is the character-driven finale to the Warcross duology! With intrigue and more of a central focus on the characters and complex plot, Lu’s finale changes the game and raises the stakes more than ever!

I was on the verge of a reading slump, but Analee, In Real Life & now Wildcard have just pulled me out of it! I flew through Wildcard in practically a couple sittings!

Wildcard picks up just 3 days after the ending of Warcross and Emika is seeing the impacts of Hideo’s algorithm firsthand, with criminals turning themselves in or even attempting suicide.

Emika can’t help but blame herself and consider what she could have done differently. But, now Zero (who we know is Sasuke) is wondering if Emika will join his side to bring down Hideo’s algorithm one and for all!

She doesn’t want to put her Warcross team (The Phoenix Riders) in danger, but she knows they can’t stay in the dark about whats going on.

As she works with Zero, she figures out what exactly the plan is to bring down the algorithm and learns more about the impacts of the Neuro-Link than she first thought was possible.

Okay so I don’t want to get into too many major spoilers here, but I just want to say that what I really loved about Wildcard so much was how Marie really changed the atmosphere of this finale, compared to Warcross.

Where Warcross was very action-packed, quick-paced, & delving with intrigue, Wildcard focuses more on the specifics of characters, politics, & intrigue that she expands on even more than in book 1!

I was iffy about this intrigue-focused sequel/finale, but reading it, reminded me why I loved Alwyn Hamilton’s sequel to Rebel Of The Sands, Traitor To The Throne.

The intrigue and politics to the world of Wildcard for me, just added a whole new layer of depth to the tech., business, and morality that was introduced in the previous book, which I really enjoyed!

Within this book, we get introduced a vigilante team of sorts, called the Blackcoats. Which is led by Zero,  Dr. Dana Taylor, & assassin, Jax. All they want is for Emika to join with them, so they can put a stop to the algorithm.

This leads us to see a whole different side and much higher stakes to the technology introduced in book 1!

I really loved how character-driven this book was and because of that we learn more about the Phoenix Riders team: Hammie, Roshan, Asher, & bounty hunter Tremaine. But with the introduction to the Blackcoats, I loved that we learned even more about Zero & new character, Jax (she was really great).

I loved Jax introduction and her overall story! When reading about her through Emika’s POV, you can just sense what a fun, interesting, & badass character she is! Jax was a wonderfully developed and explored morally grey character, considering she’s only in Wildcard!

Hideo and Emika’s dynamic really changes in this book and takes some unexpected turns with the introduction to Zero/Sasuke’s story!

Wildcard goes in ways I wasn’t expecting (in terms of Zero, the use of the Neuro-Link, Hideo, etc.) and is a lot darker than Warcross, which I found made it such a unique and memorable finale for me!

This book also gives a bit of a psychological thriller vibe, which I wasn’t expecting at all, but the more I got invested in the politics, depth to the story, the mystery that unravels, etc. I found it just made the plot just–so different and it could have been a very predictable story, but Marie really took risks with how she explored the backstory and direction of Zero’s character, among other things, which personally made it a fun read!

As for why why it isn’t exactly a full 5-stars like Warcross, similar to Traitor, when a book is very politics/ intrigue heavy, I found some of the character and story threads felt a bit slower paced than I would have liked.

Wildcard is a dark, character-driven finale to the Warcross duology! With a focus on intrigue, politics, new characters, & a story that will leave you on the edge of your seat, Wildcard will have you connecting the pieces with every page!

Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram ARC Review

Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib KhorramDarius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Publisher: Dial Books (PenguinTeen)

Release Date: August 28, 2018

Pages: 320

Summary: Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming–especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.

Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understand that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.

Sohrab calls him Darioush–the original Persian version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.

*Received ARC through Bookish First*

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Darius The Great Is Not Okay is a deeply moving and character-driven YA Contemporary! Darius finds himself unsure of where he fits in, but a family trip to Iran allows him to connect more to his heritage, family, and make a new friend and allow him to figure out a space where he fits in! Khorram’s moving debut discusses family, friendship, mental health, & so much more!

You know when you read a book (especially YA Contemporary) and feel you can understand and sense the characters come to life  throughout the story? That was definitely what Darius The Great Is Not Okay was for me!

Darius Kellner hasn’t exactly found the perfect place to fit in at school or home. So when his parents announce he and his little sister Laleh will be visiting their mother’s parents in Iran during his spring break, he isn’t sure what to expect.

As it turns out they are visiting because Darius & Laleh’s grandfather is ill (he has a tumor), and with their mother not having visited in years, it becomes a rather sudden trip.

Having only seen his grandparents through video calls, Darius isn’t entirely sure he can fit in during his trip to Iran, even though he knows he’ll be surrounded by family.

As his parents and Laleh seem to be fitting in, Darius is trying his best to carve the space for himself.

Throughout his trip he not only connects with the family he’s never fully known, but learns more about his 1/2 Iranian heritage and even meets a local friend of the family, Sohrab.

While he struggles to find his place, Sohrab becomes Darius’s best friend and through their friendship, he begins to feel a sense of belonging (though it does take time).

There’s so much I can’t really put into words about this book! What resonated a lot with me the most, was the trip itself Darius & his family took to visit their other relatives.

Having been fortunate enough to visit the country where my parents grew up quite a few times, I really resonated with Khorram’s message about the importance of knowing your cultural heritage and overall how a trip like that just means so much.

Not only do I see beloved relatives I sadly don’t see too often, but it allows me to take a step back from the hectic day-to-day life back home and just explore, learn more about my cultural background each time I visit, & also relax + spend it with family.

Khorram’s debut focuses so much on the relationships we have with our friends, family, and how each dynamic can mean something different for a person. For example, Darius struggles so much with wanting to have support & in general, feel approved by his father.

Because of that, we see how the dynamic between Darius and his father is rather complicated (even when it comes to their Star Trek marathons) and how it has impacted Darius in many ways (from his confidence, to the love/acceptance he wants from his family).

Their dynamic alongside Darius & Sohrab’s is given so much page time and we see how these different relationships allow Darius to grow and question his place with his family, identity, etc. But also get a better understanding of who he is & wants to be.

Sohrab makes Darius feel more at home as they both understand that their friendship doesn’t always require talking. Sohrab asks Darius to join him in his games of soccer with other local teens, gifts him a soccer jersey, lets him borrow his cleats, and is just there to hang out with him. Though Darius is unsure of their friendship at first, I loved seeing how it allowed him to find a sense of belonging with Sohrab and open up in a different way.

I loved their friendship so much! There’s so much unsaid between them, but it is done in a way where Darius (as does the reader) knows that Sohrab really understands and accepts Darius for who he is, and respects how much Darius remains true to himself.

Because Darius works at a tea shop, Tea Haven, and mentions that tea is a big part of his Persian culture, I loved seeing how he used his knowledge + tea making skills, to connect with his grandmother & grandfather as the story progressed.

There’s also a discussion on mental health as we explore depression that both Darius and his father have. It was such an in-depth/explored element of the story and you see how depression has also impacted Darius and his view of the world.

The first person POV writing really allows us to understand Darius, his world, and the depth to him as a character! The themes, connections between family and friends, exploration of Iranian culture, all are explored in such a unique way by following Darius’s POV!

As for the inclusive representation, there is Iranian + Persian rep. seen through Darius’s family in Iran, his mother, and Javaneh Esfahani, a classmate that Darius sits with at lunch (Persian-American). There is also biracial representation (1/2 Persian & white) as seen with Darius & his sister Laleh. Though its not explicitly stated, we see there may be gay rep., as seen through Darius (alongside depression & fat rep). 

Another part of Darius The Great Is Not Okay that also resonated with me was the bond we see that has shifted between Darius’s mother & her father ( it reminded me so much of my grandfather). Darius’s Babou, has a tumor and because of that throughout the novel Darius sees how different he is (compared to the stories Darius has heard from his mother & the grandfather he’d spoken with through video chats).

Additionally, we have moments throughout where we see Darius’s grandfather’s illness impact his mother so incredibly much. I resonated with those moments a lot and my heart broke for Darius’s mother (knowing how close they were & seeing how his illness was changing him).

I did take off a star because at times within the dialogue (at least in the ARC) I found lines and pauses a bit overused (for ex. I did find Darius said “um” many times throughout the book. Even throughout the same page). Because of that, I found the repetitiveness of that word really took away from what it symbolized (in my opinion), because we are already aware that Darius has difficulty making his way into conversation or connecting with others in an unfamiliar social setting, etc.

So, the overuse of that word didn’t really make the writing flow as evenly as it could have.

Additionally, this isn’t really a bad thing, but because this novel is very character-driven, some elements of the plot and setting do feel a bit underdeveloped.

Overall though, this is such a powerfully character-driven novel and you really see Darius change and slowly start to find his place in the world.

Character-development, themes of family, friendship, and especially, acceptance of ones-self are such important elements to the story that truly make it such an impactful read! The depth to this novel from its characters, the writing, and development to the story, make Darius The Great Is Not Okay, a must read YA Contemporary & debut!