City Of Secrets by Victoria Ying Review {Graphic Novel}

City Of Secrets: Secret Of The Switchboard by Victoria Ying

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers

Release Date: July 28, 2020

Pages: 256

Available Through Bookshop and The Book Depository

Summary: Ever Barnes is a shy orphan guarding a secret in an amazing puzzle box of a building.

Most of the young women who work at the building’s Switchboard Operating Facility, which connects the whole city of Oskar, look the other way as Ever roams around in the shadows. But one of them, Lisa, keeps an eye on the boy. So does the head of the Switchboard, Madame Alexander . . . a rather sharp eye.

Enter Hannah, the spunky daughter of the building’s owner. She thinks Ever needs a friend, even if he doesn’t know it yet.

Good thing she does!

Lisa and Madame Alexander are each clearly up to something.

Ever is beset by a menacing band of rogues looking to unlock the secret he holds–at any cost. And whatever is hidden deep in the Switchboard building will determine all of their futures.

On a journey that twists and turns as much as the mechanical building Ever Barnes calls home, he and his new friend Hannah have to – and out what’s really going on in this mysterious city of secrets . . . or else!

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: City Of Secrets is a wondrous graphic novel set in an immersive steampunk world! The story follows a shy orphan and upper-class girl who embark on an adventure to uncover the secrets of a notable facility! Colorful, cinematic artwork, alongside friendship, adventure, and a page-turning story bring this graphic novel to life!

What first drew me to City Of Secrets was the magnificent artwork! Ying’s unique style brings a depth and immersion to the steampunk city of Oskar that enthralls you with each panel. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the author expands on the world, story, and cast of characters after the amount explored in this first installment!

From the very first page, the artwork transports you to this fascinating steampunk world and more importantly, the renowned Switchboard Operating Facility where many young women work, run by the strict Madame Alexander. Ever Barnes, an orphan who lives in the shadows of this building, remains quite elusive to many, but a worker by the name of Lisa helps him out by leaving food.

Ever not only manages levers and mechanisms behind the scenes, but also protects a mysterious safe hidden within the buildings depths. Hannah Morgan, the daughter of the building’s owner, is prone to adventure! Right away she’s fascinated by the intriguing building and learning more about Ever!

Though Ever’s hesitant at first, the two slowly build a lovely friendship. One of my many favorite parts about this book was seeing how it develops over the course of the story.

When we uncover secrets about Ever’s past, including his father and what led him to look after the facility, the story introduces a mysterious guild of assassins who’re not only trying to get rid of Ever, but also uncover the building’s secrets!

What follows is a plot steeped in mystery, conspiracy, and your left shrouded in uncertainty as to what could possible be inside the facility’s safe!

The cast of characters in this graphic novel were all so great! You sense that pain and loneliness Ever feels after the death of his father, mixed with knowing he really has no other option, but to follow his father’s footsteps and protect the switchboard’s secrets at any cost, despite the danger he faces at countless moments.

Hannah’s spunky and curious nature inspires her to figure out who Ever is and learn more about the switchboard building! Despite her mother’s insistence she not ignore her lady-like responsibilities, Hannah never lets anything get in the way of her exploration and sense of adventure!

The world building in City Of Secrets feels expansive, entrenched in politics, intrigue and wonder! The city of Oskar is wavering on the edge of war with neighboring city of Edmonda. Although its very much an underlying plot point, the way Ying builds the layers to that particular storyline is very interesting and I’m interested in seeing more of what’ll happen with these cities and our main cast in the next book! The city is divided by levels all powered by mechanisms, gears, and all those little details really make the steampunk elements such a vital part of the world!

Now for the artwork– where to begin? Its magnificent and almost cinematic with how quickly the pages fly by! The use of warm, almost a cozy fall color palette bring a sense of wonder as you immerse yourself in this elaborate steampunk setting! The backgrounds, character designs, facial expressions, and overall atmosphere make it feel like your reading an animated film! Although for me at points it did feel like the paneling cut a bit too quickly between scenes (because there’s a lot of action), each page was a work of art. Ying’s style brings a lively and captivating energy to the story and it will not disappoint!

This is just such a fun story that layers in the theme of friendship, conspiracy, and above all ADVENTURE! If you like ensemble casts, this is a perfect read because there’s always something new your learning about these characters. There’s a nice mix of political intrigue, some dark moments, but overall it has such a light-hearted feel to it that you will sense that uplifting, comforting, adventurous spirit!

My only issues which made me lean towards 4 stars, although this graphic novel is easily one of my new favorites, was the rushed pacing of this story despite it being over 200 pages. Particular scenes or panels would transition swiftly and there were moments I had to reread it to double check what had happened. But again, that’s also its strength because at every moment you just want to keep reading to know where the story’s headed. I also feel like for me personally, the ending kind of caught me off guard because it was rather rushed. While I definitely love the unique way Ying builds towards it and wraps everything up, it felt like it was just a very sudden twist!

However, I will say the more I let the wonder of this book simmer, I really do appreciate the surprises at the end. While the ending is kind of abrupt and rushes with those last 30-ish pages, overall I’m happy with how nicely plot threads wrap up! (I also feel like the more I reflect on this book, my rating will probably increase in the future).

The sequel is definitely going onto my TBR because this book was just so magical and whimsical! The story really connected with me and I adored the sense of adventure + very wholesome friendship between Ever and Hannah! I loved their dynamic a lot and can’t wait to see where their next adventure is headed! 💖🗝✨

City Of Secrets is an absolutely charming graphic novel set in an immersive steampunk world! As Ever and Hannah team up to solve a conspiracy, they embark on an adventure of epic proportions! The enchanting art and story, fuses with intrigue, even mystery to deliver a delightful read start to finish! You’ll adore Ying’s cast of characters, unique story, and world, eager to see what’s next!

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 & 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!

Sacred Lies Mini-Series Review

Sacred Lies, which premiered through Facebook Watch as a mini-series as of July 27, is based on Stephanie Oakes debut novel from 2015, The Sacred Lies Of Minnow Bly!

I was unsure whether or not to do a series review (until after the show was over) or maybe do a review for every 2-3 episodes (considering this is a mini-series), but I felt making a general review would be best because I feel more people (especially those in the bookish community) should definitely watch this YA Adaptation!

78If you’ve never heard of The Sacred Lies Of Minnow Bly, here’s a quick summary:

Seventeen-year old Minnow Bly (now handless) was able to escape the Kevinian Cult. After having spent the last 12 years of her life there, she is now in a juvenile detention center, being the only left after the Prophet was murdered and the camp was set aflame.

Now as she struggles to adjust and un-learn what she’s been taught, an FBI detective/psychologist tries to unravel her story of what led to her escaping and offers her a deal. If Minnow is willing to reveal the secrets of the cult and tell her story, she can be set free!

While it has been years since I read Minnow Bly, I did skim through some chapters as I started watching the show and really loved how true it stayed to the book! It still kept so much of the main plot points, themes, and elements of the book + overall the spirit of the it too, which was definitely there with each episode.

I’d even noticed some character descriptions were spot-on to Minnow Bly!

Sacred Lies Facebook Watch TV SeriesWhat makes a mini-series format work so well for Sacred Lies, is seen through its pacing and development.

For instance, when the first 3 episodes aired on the 27, I marathoned them and was so happy both as a fan of the book and show in general, because the show allowed for more time with the characters (mainly the side characters), even more than in the book from what I remember!

You get even more emotional depth to characters and the story because your seeing it not just from Minnow’s perspective (like in the book), but also from other characters like the psychologist, Doctor Wilson, too!

Each actor and actress delivers so much to their role and was so happy with how much they brought the character to life!

Elena Kampouris portrayed Minnow incredibly! Because this novel centers around Minnow who grew up in a cult, her acting brings just–so much to Minnow as a character and the show itself! Especially when seeing her life during the cult (with her family) and after, now that she’s the only one left and learning the truth behind what she was taught for years!

In terms of characters, one of my favorite parts was seeing Minnow’s growth as a character whether its trusting people and trying to make friends (like her roommate Angel), or learning to read, we see her strength with each moment!

Additionally, because the story is told through Minnow’s past at the cult and the present, it delivers the mystery surrounding the Kevinian Cult, Kevin himself, and what led to Minnow escaping, in a way where the pieces are delivered little by little, but in a brilliant way!

Having read the book, it was amazing getting to see these characters I loved, like Minnow come to life. Also, through the episodic + multiple perspective/timeline format, you really get to the root of each character and understand them no matter how little screen time they have.

It also has somewhat of a psychological aspect to it, where you feel you get into the characters heads a bit and understand them in a different way.

Each character in the show adds so much to their respective scene. Every scene matters and you get more not only from the characters, but from the story and it all ties together in a brilliant way!

If you haven’t read The Sacred Lies Of Minnow Bly or watched Sacred Lies, please do! I haven’t heard many people (especially in the book community) talk about it, which makes me so sad! This is an incredible & really spot-on adaptation which further explores the novel through the depths of its characters on the show!

To celebrate the release of Sacred Lies, I’m also having a giveaway on my twitter (which is INTL) for a copy of The Sacred Lies Of Minnow Bly!

Overall its an all-around great show to watch! There’s mystery, suspense, an amazing cast of characters, and a perfectly executed story that has you on the edge of your seat after each episode!

If your looking for another YA book adaptation, please check out Sacred Lies! You won’t be disappointed!

As of today, August 10, there are 4 episodes currently out with new ones each Friday available to see by logging into Facebook and seeing it through Facebook Watch @ 6pm Est & Pst!

Have you watched Sacred Lies? OR Have you read The Sacred Lies Of Minnow Bly and started watching the adaptation too?

What are your thoughts on Sacred Lies?

Book Bytes #14

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

Each month, posts can contain anything from new cover/title reveals, book-to-movie news, even the latest book deals!!
I’ve now split up the news into categories, to make it easier to jump to whichever book news you’d like to read about!

If there’s any book news I missed or any you want to discuss, definitely leave a comment!

Adaptation News

1.The Miseducation Of Cameron Post Trailer

With the August 3 release of The Miseducation Of Cameron Post film, the first official trailer was revealed July 5!

2. Sacred Lies Mini Series Trailer

Set to premiere July 27 through Facebook as a mini series (with new episodes each Friday), the trailer for Sacred Lies (based on Stephanie Oakes novel, The Sacred Lies Of Minnow Bly) debuted July 16 from Penguin Teen!

3. All The Bright Places Movie News

On July 23, Jennifer Niven, author of All The Bright Places, announced through her twitter that the character of Theodore Finch would be played by Justice Smith!

Additionally Deadline released an article stating that director, Brett Haley is also attached to the project!

4. Legend picked up by BCDF Pictures

Marie Lu author of the Legend Trilogy, announced as of July 26 that Legend was acquired by BCDF Pictures (after having been with CBS Films since 2011).

Through twitter, Lu stated “I want to emphasize that our rights were sold again MAINLY BECAUSE of your continued, steady love for Legend both online and in person. I cannot ever thank you all enough…”

According to The Hollywood Reporter a script has been put together, but no other news as of yet!

Book Deals

1.The Lost Sisters by Holly Black

NOVL announced as of July 9, that Holly Black’s The Folk Of The Air trilogy, would be getting an e-novella, set during The Cruel Prince & before The Wicked King.

According to The NOVL’s blog post, “It’s told in a letter from Taryn to Jude about how she fell in love with Locke.”

This $2.99 e-novella, will be released October 2, 2018!

2.The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie

Set to be released June 13, 2019, The Paper & Hearts Society is book 1 in a trilogy, which follows Tabby Brown who is “tired of trying to fit in with her classmates. She doesn’t want to go to parties at the weekend – in fact, she would much rather snuggle up on the sofa with her favourite book.

It’s like she hasn’t found her people …

That is until she moves to a new town where a book club, The Paper & Hearts Society, is recruiting. Tabby might just be in luck. Enough of her old “friends” who only talk to her when they need something. It’s time for Quidditch themed fancy dress parties, games like “shut up and Shakespeare” … and LOTS of chocolate “ (Announced July 17).

3.Woven In Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez

Set to be released in Fall of 2019 is Isabel Ibañez’s debut, Woven In Moonlight, through Page Street Books!

This #OwnVoices Bolivian-inspired political fantasy follows “a magically gifted weaver who plays the role of double agent to restore her queen to a troubled throne, but upon confronting a masked vigilante and a warm-hearted princess, she discovers that corruption comes in all forms ” (Announced July 19).

4.American Betiya by Anuradha D. Rajurkar

Set to be released in Spring of 2020 with Knopf, Anuradha D. Rajurkar’s Contemporary debut, American Betiya follows “a teenage artist grappling with forbidden love, family boundaries, and her boyfriend’s exoticization of her Indian heritage” (Announced July 24).

5.Color Outside the Lines edited by Sangu Mandanna

Set to release Fall 2019 through Soho Teen, is a YA Anthology edited by Sangu Mandanna.

This YA Anthology centers around “interracial relationships and the complicated, rewarding and sometimes hilarious dynamics between friends, family, and first loves.”

The collection will feature authors such as Anna-Marie McLemore, Adam Silvera, Samira Ahmed! (Announced July 26).

Cover reveals

1.Internment by Samira Ahmed

On July 2, EW revealed the cover and excerpt to Samira Ahmed’s 2019 Contemporary novel Internment.

“Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.

With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.

Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today.”

Internment by Samira Ahmed is set to be released March 19, 2019!

2.The Great Unknowable End by Kathryn Ormsbee

As of July 6, Paste Magazine revealed the cover, alongside an excerpt of Ormsbee’s upcoming Contemporary The Great Unknowable End!

According to Paste the novel “addresses suicide, complicated families and… cults.”

The Great Unknowable End by Kathryn Ormsbee is set to be released February 19, 2019!

3.Seventh Born by Monica Sanz

Revealed on July 6 through her twitter, was the cover to Monica Sanz’s debut novel, Seventh Born!

Seventh Born by Monica SanzAbomination. Curse. Murderer. All names hurled at eighteen-year-old Seraphina Dovetail. As the seventh-born daughter to a witch, she’s the cause of her mother losing her powers and, in turn, her life.

Abandoned as a child, Sera dreams of becoming an inspector and finding her family. To do that, she must be referred into the Advanced Studies Program at the Aetherium’s Witchling Academy. Her birth order, quick temper, and tendency to set things on fire, however, have left her an outcast with failing marks…and just what Professor Nikolai Barrington is looking for.

The tall, brooding, yet exceedingly handsome young professor makes her a proposition: become his assistant and he’ll give her the referral she needs. Sera is quickly thrust into a world where witches are being kidnapped, bodies are raised from the dead, and someone is burning seventhborns alive. As Sera and Barrington grow ever closer, she’ll discover that some secrets are best left buried…and fire isn’t the only thing that makes a witch burn.”

Seventh Born in set to be released September 4, 2018!

4.Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy

Through Barnes & Noble Teen Blog on July 9, a cover and excerpt was revealed to Amy Rose Capetta’s & Cori McCarthy’s genderbent King Arthur retelling: Once & Future!

Once & Future is set to be released March 5, 2019!

5.Fake It Till You Break It by Jenn P. Nguyen

Revealed through Swoon Reads blog on July 14, was the cover for Jenn P. Nguyen’s contemporary Fake It Till You Break It!

Fake It Till You Break It by Jenn P. Nguyen“Mia and Jake have known each other their whole lives. They’ve endured summer vacations, Sunday brunches, even dentist visits together. Their mothers, who are best friends, are convinced that Mia and Jake would be the perfect couple, even though they can’t stand to be in the same room together.

After Mia’s mom turns away yet another cute boy, Mia and Jake decide they’ve have had enough. Together, they hatch a plan to get their moms off their backs. Permanently. All they have to do is pretend to date and then stage the worst breakup of all time—and then they’ll be free.

The only problem is, maybe Jake and Mia don’t hate each other as much as they once thought…”

Alongside the official cover, Nguyen also shares her thoughts on it and how it came to be!

6. The Weight Of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf

On July 18, Barnes & Noble Teen Blog revealed the cover, alongside a Q&A to Hanna Alkaf’s debut novel The Weight Of Our Sky!

This novel is”Set in Kuala Lumpur during the race riots of 1969, it centers on Mel, a Beatles-loving sixteen-year-old dealing with the OCD she believes is caused by the djinn she carries inside of her. When violent rioting breaks out, she must traverse a city in peril to reunite with her mother…”

The Weight Of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf is set to be released February 5, 2019!

7. The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

The U.K. cover for Christine Lynn Herman’s debut novel, The Devouring Gray, was revealed through MuggleNet!

The novel follows “four teens who have the power to protect their town from a monster – if their families’ dark secrets don’t devour them first.”

The Devouring Gray is set to be released in 2019! (US release date is set for April 2, 2019!)

8. The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees

As of July 18, the cover for Alyssa Wees debut The Waking Forest was revealed through her twitter!

The Waking Forest by Alyssa WeesPan’s Labyrinth meets The Hazel Wood in this novel about a girl with terrifying visions and a wish-granting witch whose lives collide in the most unexpected of ways.

The waking forest has secrets. To Rhea, it appears like a mirage, dark and dense, at the very edge of her backyard. But when she reaches out to touch it, the forest vanishes. She’s desperate to know more–until she finds a peculiar boy who offers to reveal its secrets. If she plays a game.

To the Witch, the forest is her home, where she sits on her throne of carved bone, waiting for dreaming children to beg her to grant their wishes. One night, a mysterious visitor arrives and asks her what she wishes for, but the Witch sends him away. And then the uninvited guest returns.

The strangers are just the beginning. Something is stirring in the forest, and when Rhea’s and the Witch’s paths collide, a truth more treacherous and deadly than either could ever imagine surfaces. But how much are they willing to risk to survive?

The Waking Forest Alyssa Wees is set to be released March 12, 2019!

9. You Asked For Perfect by Laura Silverman

The cover for Laura Silverman’s upcoming contemporary novel, You Asked For Perfect had its cover reveal + excerpt via Bustle on July 19!

Silverman’s novel centers around Ariel Stone, “the perfect college applicant. But a failed calculus quiz threatens his valedictorian standing and sends him into a tailspin. He reluctantly—secretly—gets a tutor. Amir and Ariel have never gotten along, but Amir excels in calculus, and Ariel is low on options. Their time together goes better than expected, and soon, their relationship ventures beyond textbooks.

Except throwing himself into calculus and a burgeoning romance detracts Ariel’s attention from his other classes. Ariel could lose everything he’s worked his whole life to achieve. But how much is Ariel willing to sacrifice in the name of academic perfection?”

You Asked For Perfect by Laura Silverman is set to be released March 1, 2019!

10. The Hate U Give Exclusive Covers

Announced through Angie Thomas’s twitter on July 26, it was revealed that her debut novel The Hate U Give would be getting 2 new editions, set to be released in September of this year!

A movie-tie in cover and an exclusive gold collectors edition! According to the publisher’s website, the gold collectors edition “contains a letter from the author, the meanings behind the names in the book, a map of Garden Heights, fan art, the full, original story that inspired the book, and an excerpt from On the Come Up.”

11. When The Sky Fell On Splendor by Emily Henry

Revealed via Unbound Worlds, as of July 26, was the cover (alongside an interview) to Emily Henry’s upcoming novel, When The Sky Fell On Splendor, which is pitched as “The Serpent King meets Stranger Things in Emily Henry’s gripping novel about a group of friends in a small town who find themselves dealing with unexpected powers after a cosmic event.”

When The Sky Fell On Splendor by Emily Henry is set to be released March 12, 2019!

12. Firestarter by Tara Sim

Released on July 31 via Hypable Books, was the cover (& excerpt) to the final book in Tara Sim’s Timekeeper trilogy, Firestarter!

Firestarter by Tara Sim is set to be released January 1, 2019!

Misc. Book News + Publisher News

1.Six Of Crows UK Collectors Edition

Leigh Bardugo announced through her twitter that there would be a Six Of Crows Collectors Edition coming October of this year, which will have: a new cover, character art, & a letter from Leigh!

For those not in the UK, Aus, & NZ, its also available through The Book Depository

2. King Of Scars UK Pre-Order

With King Of Scars releasing early in 2019, Bardugo also announced a UK Pre-Order for King Of Scars!

From pre-ordering through Waterstones, you could be entered to win 1 of 50 limited edition prints of Nikolai Lanstov (art by Kevin Wada).

3. Penguin Teen 2019 Cover Reveals

Throughout the week of July 23, Penguin Teen revealed 3 covers for their upcoming 2019 YA Releases!

The Triumphant by Lesley Livingston

Tarot by Marissa Kennerson

If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Tours

1.Wildcard by Marie Lu

Announced July 31, were the tour dates for Marie Lu’s Wildcard, the sequel/finale to the Warcross duology!

She will be on tour from September 18-24!

Full tour schedule can be found on Penguin Teen’s post Here!